The Kroot first appeared as a playable race in late 2001; the result of Games Workshop's plan to introduce a new race to the game . However, the first appearance of a Kroot was in the 3rd Edition Warhammer 40,000 rulebook (Priestley, 1998), in a sketch entitled "Other Dangerous Aliens" .
The Kroot are a subset of the Tau playable army, although special rules have been released to field armies entirely composed of Kroot, or as allies to other forces.
Kroot do not urinate or defecate. This is because they possess an incredibly effective digestive system. What cannot be digested is regurgitated, and some chemicals are released as a thick sweat. This sweat has slight heat retardant and antibiotic properties, and can be altered by the Kroot to exude a variety of pheromones. These pheromones can be controlled and altered, and are a component of the Kroot language. They are also used to control other animals, mark territory or trails, and (according to one Tau researcher), are a component of Kroot humor towards outsiders.
One of the most peculiar biological traits of the Kroot is their ability to rapidly adapt and mutate, with the capability for significant changes over four or five generations. The digestive system of the Kroot is able to extract DNA from their food, which is then incorporated into that particular Kroot's DNA structure. Selective breeding ensures that these consumed traits become present in later generations. However, this is not without risk, as the new traits can be accompanied by a loss in sentience, and some Kroot have been trapped in sterile animalist forms.
Below are listed some of the more common Krootiforms.
There are other Krootforms that are considered 'outcasts' in Kroot society and are killed if found.
At some point in their history, Pech was visited by an Ork Rok. The survivors were faced by a warrior race with a 'taste for flesh', and subsequently wiped out. As Ork knowledge is encoded in their DNA (see Ork biology), the Kroot were quickly able to mimic aspects of Ork technology within a few generations.
Over the next thousand years, Pech's primary continent became host to at least five Kroot 'hive cities', each containing millions of Kroot. Farming and mining became commonplace during a time known as the 'Kroot Expansionist Phase'. The Kroot were able to construct crude Warp-capable vessels, known as warspheres. With these, the Kroot were able to colonize numerous worlds.
During this time, the Kroot encountered the Orks again, but in this instance the Orks had the advantage. Untried leaders and untested tactics resulted in a string of defeats for the Kroot, as they were forced off their newly-claimed worlds. The Kroot were forced to fight a guerrilla war on their own worlds, and many Kindreds who escaped the initial slaughter became mercenaries for other races to survive. The Orks were able to invade Pech, and at one point less than 50,000 Kroot remained.
During this time of crisis, the Tau first encountered the Kroot while exploring their region of space; first their dead bodies on a world razed by the Orks, then when two Kroot Warpsheres unintentionally led an Ork fleet into the midst of a Tau Colonization Fleet. Soon after meeting the Kroot, the commander of the Colonization Fleet learned that another Ork fleet was entering the system. He ordered the fleet's colonist passengers and attendant Hunter Cadres to the surface, scuttled the vessels that could not land on the surface, and ordered his fastest ships to alert the Tau Empire. It was several Tau years before reinforcements could arrive, and during that time the fleet's Fire Warriors learned to work together with the primitive Kroot, with battlefield tactics becoming increasingly integrated. When reinforcements finally arrived to destroy the Orks in that system, the Fire Warriors pledged to help liberate the Kroot's worlds from the Orks, a process that lasted for many more years and resulted in the incorporation of the Kroot into the fledgling Tau Empire.
After Pech was freed from Ork influence, the Kroot mercenaries who had escaped the war advocated a return to the time before the incursion. However, those who had fought the Orks on the Kroot's worlds did not wish to rebuild a society which had led them to war, but ill-prepared them for it. Led by the legendary shaper Anghkor Prok, these Kroot wanted to revert further, to a point before the first Ork Rok had landed on Pech. A compromise was reached, with the traditional ways respected on Pech and the other Kroot worlds, while Kindreds traveled to serve as mercenaries to the Tau and other races, returning periodically to pass on newly-acquired genetic material to future generations.
In the 41st millennium, Pech is a wild and untamed world; the hive cities reclaimed by the forest. Contact between the Kroot and the Imperium was first made during the Damocles Gulf Crusade, with the Kroot heavily damaging an Imperial Guard regiment before they were reinforced by the Scythes of the Emperor. Later contact between the Imperium and the Kroot has been made, with several worlds bordering Tau space recruiting Kroot mercenary forces to supplement their own.
Kroot dwell in warm, temperate conditions on the worlds they inhabit, and construct large tree houses from animal hides, bound together by regurgitated dead wood. Some Kindreds reside in the ruins of the hive cities. There has been no obvious industry on Pech since the coming of the Orks, but Tau Research Teams have detected strange energy emissions, emanating from a collection of hills near their base.
The consumption of flesh is one of the key tenets of Kroot spirituality, as it is believed that the consumption of prey imparts the 'spirit' of the prey to the Kroot, which is then passed on to the Kroot's children. This is the average Kroot's understanding of their rapid evolution, with 'spirit' as a substitute for 'genetic trait'. As a part of this, the Kroot believe that when a warrior dies, his spirit should be kept safe by the Kindred. They will consider it their responsibility to consume the bodies of their dead foes, along with their own fallen and elders.
However, while the treaty which resulted in the inclusion of the Kroot into the Tau Empire, one of its conditions was that not all Kroot mercenaries were to be seconded to the Hunter Cadres, as to do so would result in a stagnation of Kroot evolution. Mercenary armies are often dispatched from the Kroot worlds, and fight alongside many forces in the local region of the galaxy, including the Imperial Guard, the Eldar, and even the Orks.
As the less-developed section of the Kroot brain is also the section responsible for ingenuity and imagination, Kroot tactics are relatively stagnant. Their style of warfare is dependent on their skill and viciousness in close combat, drawn from their fast reflexes and strong musculature. Their skills lie in tracking and guerrilla warfare, and the Kroot Kindreds are reliant on technologically advanced employers to supply and equip them in sieges and drawn-out campaigns.
The Kroot were designed to be brutal, barbaric and primitive, to provide a contrast between them and the technologically superior Tau. Pete Haines was tasked to develop the character and background of the Kroot, which resulted in the development of the 'learning through consumption' concept that became the core of Kroot society.
In February 2002, rules were released through the Chapter Approved section of White Dwarf magazine for the use of Kroot as mercenaries. These could either be included as allies for most other armies; which had been previously hinted at in the background material in Codex: Tau (Chambers, Haines, & McNeill - 2001). Alternately, the rules could be used to create a force solely of Kroot and their associated Krootforms, although it was noted that the army would perform poorly against several of the Codex armies in a standard battle. These rules have been updated for Fourth Edition Warhammer 40,000, and are available from the Games Workshop website.
It can also be noted that the Kroot models may take a slight influence from Predator, of the movie by the same name.
The Kroot miniatures were almost exclusively sculpted by Brian Nelson.
Anghkor Prok is a special character, whose rules and background were released to coincide with the release of the Kroot Master Shaper miniature at Games Day 2001. The rules were updated for Fourth Edition and are available on the Games Workshop website