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Caste System

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Targetdrone.gif This article is about the Tau caste system. For other uses of Fire Caste, see Fire Caste (disambiguation).

The Tau caste system is a system of social division that divides all Tau into five distinct groups.[2]


Each caste is named after an element of nature, symbolising the purpose and temperament of the caste's members. A Tau's caste is determined at birth and inherited by one's parents. Inter-breeding is forbidden by the Ethereals. For a Tau to choose another caste for himself seems to be impossible, and held contrary to the notions of the Greater Good. The castes are based upon the racial and political divisions that separated the Tau on their homeworld of T'au during the time of the Mont'au. The Castes were first formally established after the Ethereals brokered peace between warring Tau factions at Fio'taun. Emphasizing the need for the Greater Good, the Ethereals decreed that the Tau would be formalized into a caste, each known by the element that most befitted its role in the new Tau society.[6a]

Caste\Rank Trainee rank — SAAL[1] Lowest rank — LA Second lowest rank — UI Middle rank — VRE Second highest rank — EL Highest rank — O
Fire - Shas Underling Warrior Veteran Hero Noble or Knight Commander
Earth - Fio Apprentice Worker Senior Overseer Engineer Planner
Water - Por Assistant Bureaucrat Envoy Magister Diplomat Ambassador
Air - Kor Deliverer Messenger Carrier Pilot Captain Admiral
Ethereal - Aun Lord Prince Prelate King Holy Ones Highest of the Holy
Fire Caste symbol[6a]

Shas - Fire caste

Fire Caste redirects here. For the novel by Peter Fehervari, see Fire Caste (Novel).

Members of the Fire Caste are the warriors of the Tau Empire, and as such are most often seen on the field of battle. They have been bred to be the strongest and most aggressive Tau, and weak strains are quickly weeded out. These traits come from the Fire Caste's origin on the plains of T'au, where they were hunters and warriors. Fire Warriors, as soldiers of the Fire Caste are known, spend their entire lifetimes in battle or preparing for it, constantly honing their tactics and working to improve their skills. The strongest of the strong are those Tau from the world of Vior'la, who have slightly greater muscle mass because of the stronger gravity of that planet.[6a] The Fire Caste guided by the Code of Fire — a doctrine of loyalty, martial arts and merciless war tempered by wisdom.[6a][9a]

Fio - Earth Caste

Earth Caste Symbol[6a]

This caste provides for the manufacturing, agricultural, industrial, artisans, and engineering needs of the Tau Empire. By far the largest caste in sheer numbers, it is they who erect dwellings, provide food, and produce new technology. Members of the Earth Caste are often described as plain and dour, possessing a rather stoic outlook on life in general. They were originally the first Tau to build cities and practice agriculture. The city of Fio'taun is an example of this, being the first place where the Ethereals appeared.[6a]

Kor - Air Caste

Air Caste Symbol[6a]

The Air Caste is charged with holding the Tau Empire together through the Kor'vattra, the Tau Empire's merchant and war-fleet in addition to operating Tau Orbitals and Fortress Stations. Formerly functioning as messengers, these days they are the Tau Navy and are sometimes called the "Invisible Caste", for they rarely if ever set foot upon planets. Living in Orbital Cities, Tau of the Air Caste are the tallest and most slender of all Tau, with long, skinny limbs and hollow bones developed due to lives lived mostly in low- and zero-gravity ships and space stations. In the past, before the time of the Mont'au, the Tau that originally became the Air Caste had membranes stretching between their limbs, allowing them to glide on air currents. Tau pilots tend to be superior pilots compared to their human counterparts because they have a better depth perception and higher G-tolerance, but lack battle-experience compared to the best Imperial fighter-pilots.[6a]

The Air Caste also operates air defenses within Tau territory.[13]

Por - Water Caste

Water Caste Symbol[6a]

The Water Caste serve the Tau Empire as traders, merchants, public servants, bureaucrats, administrators, diplomats, and ambassadors. They interact with other races when such affairs are not handled by the Fire Caste, and often act as administrators of Tau worlds in the absence of an Ethereal governor. Like water, Water Caste bureacrats fluidly move between other Castes and alien races incorporated within the Empire to make sure that it flows smoothly. The Water Caste are known for their great linguistic, diplomatic, and negotiation skills. Members of the Water Caste are often the ones who initiate first contact with new species encountered by the Empire, skilfully negotiating their union with the Tau.[6a] The members of the Water Caste has a gift for linguistics that has become more and more developed over time, so they able to learn alien languages with ease and show a remarkable ability to emulate and pick up subtlest of communication features.[9a]

The Water Caste also employs criminal investigators known as Kar'tyr[11].

Aun - Ethereal/Celestial Caste

Ethereal Caste Symbol[6a]

The Ethereals serve as "philosopher kings", and guide the other castes, as well as alien member-races of the Tau empire, towards the enlightenment of the Tau'va, the Greater Good. They serve as the undisputed rulers of the Tau Empire. Their unique role is a combination of spiritual and political duties, and their declarations shape and steer every action of the Tau Empire. Were an Ethereal to order a Tau to kill himself, he would be met with instant obedience.[6a] Ethereals themselves rule from the Ethereal Council, with the Ethereal Supreme being the highest ranked of the Caste. They are in turn protected by the Ethereal Guard.[Needs Citation]



Tau Empire
Allied Races
Notable Characters