The T'au Water Caste is made up of merchants, diplomats, and administrators. They are responsible for maintaining effective interaction between the castes, as well as communicating with and supervising the integration of alien species into the T'au Empire.
The Water Caste are consummate diplomats, manipulators and fences, able to procure a rare Plasma Weapon for a handful of Kroot toenail clippings or talk a drug-crazed mutant into quiet subservience before convincing it to savagely assault its former master.
Members of the Water Caste tend to be taller and more slender than other T'au, and their features are softer and more expressive. Water Caste T'au will frequently adopt the mannerisms and other cultural habits of the intelligent species they deal with, although this is often done to promote communication with these other species.
Water Caste members are bureaucrats, politicians, negotiators and administrators. They are the merchants and diplomats of the T'au Empire, moving in and around the other castes to ensure that T'au society functions smoothly, always in the service of the Greater Good.
Water Caste members often accompany T'au expeditionary forces to negotiate safe conduct through alien star systems and smooth the passage of T'au merchants and colonists.
Servants of the Imperium of Man should be aware that these T'au are exceptionally skilled at manipulating weak-willed individuals and every remark addressed to a member of the Water Caste must be carefully considered and phrased to prevent any sensitive information from being divulged.
The T'au Empire is expanding at an incredible rate, the entire species working together to secure their continued success, and they believe their destiny is to spread their influence across the stars.
But it was not always this way. The T'au race was once consumed by a bitter civil war that all but destroyed them. When the species was young, the four castes of the T'au developed as separate branches of the same species.
The Earth Caste constructed dwellings and settlements on the plains, exhibiting a natural flair for creation and the application of science.
The Fire Caste, aggressive and hot-blooded, simply took by force what they could not otherwise obtain.
But most advanced of all were those T'au who realised long before the T'au race began to tear itself apart that it would profit most of all from unity.
They worked hard to ensure that what one tribe could not produce, another could supply, and specialised as traders, arbitrators and negotiators between the tribes.
They were the Water Caste, but their philosophy was ahead of its time, and great strife was to befall the T'au race before their true value became clear.
It was the Ethereal Caste that pioneered the notion of the Greater Good, that it was honourable and right for a T'au to put his self-interests and even survival aside for the betterment of the species as a whole.
Needless to say, being so effortlessly surpassed in their own field forced the Water Caste to swallow a considerable amount of pride, especially as the harmony the Ethereals preached had been the Water Caste's manifesto from the beginning (albeit for less altruistic motives).
Although the head councils of the Water Caste knew they could only benefit from the status quo imposed by the Ethereals, it took rather longer for them to learn to revere the Ethereals than the rest of their species.
In the present day, they are as much a part of the harmony of the T'au as any other caste.
Notable Water Caste Members
- Por'la Vior'la Kais'uam - Por'la Vior'la Kais'uam is a T'au envoy of the Water Caste. Por'la Vior'la Kais'uam, like many of his species, has an ambition and drive far above his current station. Although elements of his name roughly translate as "skilful mediator" and "Water Caste bureaucrat," Por'la has the fiery temperament and outgoing nature typical to those from the T'au Sept world of Vior'la. Though young by T'au standards, Por'la is extremely well-travelled, having fled the T'au Sept worlds and crossed vast tracts of space to the distant Imperial world of Karis Cephalon. The reasons behind this self-imposed odyssey hail back to one of the most important and bloody eras in T'au history -- the Damocles Gulf Crusade.
- Por'O' Dal'yth Kais Twi Lui'tan - Known as the "Golden Ambassador," Kais Twi Lui'tan was considered the greatest envoy and diplomat in the history of the Water Caste. In 896.M40 he led a mass exploration across space to seek out new intelligent alien species to assimilate into the T'au Empire. He proved highly successful and integrated the Thraxians, Greet, and Formosians into the empire. The few who rejected his overtures to join with the Greater Good included the Hrud and the Arachens.
T'au Water Caste diplomats and merchants are often accompanied on their missions by T'au Escort Drones. In addition, a member of the T'au Water Caste may carry one of the following items of personal equipment or wargear.
- Apocalypse Grenade - The gizmo that the Water Caste envoy has had tucked away under his robes is an "Apocalypse Grenade," an immensely powerful explosive device capable of levelling an entire city block. Or at least that's what he tells the hostiles closing on him.
- Holographic Projector Device (HPD) - A Water Caste envoy can carry a device that is capable of projecting a sophisticated hologram, using a refined version of the technology employed in the T'au XV15 Stealthsuits. Designed specifically for the Water Caste, it can project holograms of others (such as the T'au's employer) or even the T'au himself to distract and befuddle his enemies. Many lucrative deals have been clinched in this way with the envoy hidden safely nearby in case things don't work out. There are two patterns of HPD: the Messenger Pattern and Phimera Pattern. A Messenger Pattern HPD plays a prerecorded message. In the heat of battle, it is advantageous for the T'au to use this function to project an image of a fearsome warrior charging forward, thereby distracting his foe. A Chimera Pattern HPD projects the image of the Water Caste envoy himself and can be used to disorient or trick enemies into striking the holographic envoy rather than the T'au himself.
- Man-portable Disruption Pod - Some T'au vehicles are equipped with Disruption Pods -- sophisticated scrambler devices that blur and contort the outline of their hull, making it more difficult for enemy weapons to draw a bead on them. A T'au Water Caste envoy can carry a small, man-portable version of the Disruption Pod, distorting the image of the envoy and making it extremely difficult to draw a bead on him.
- Alpha-Category EMP Device - T'au electro-magnetic pulse technology is used mainly by the Fire Caste to disable enemy armour. However, such powerful surges of energy can be used to disable all manner of machines from the humble blast door to the mighty Land Raider, and Alpha-Category EMP devices, although extremely rare, are said to be able to shut down anything up to an entire hab-block's power supply for a short time. This would include Power Armour, bionics, and any personal weapon that incorporates electronic components, such as all Power Weapons, Laser Weapons and Plasma Weapons.
- Polyglot Hedron - A Polyglot Hedron is the signature linguistic device of the Water Caste that instantly translates and transmits whatever the envoy says in the native tongue of the person or people he's dealing with. This invariably has a positive effect on any deals the Water Caste T'au intends to close. The T'au only needs to sub-vocalise the words he is forming for the Hedron to pick up and broadcast them, so the net result is that it seems the T'au is chatting away fluently in the language of those he is facing. Alternatively, he can speak out loud in Imperial Gothic so that his companions can understand what he is saying even as the gizmo translates his words into the requisite alien tongue. Even when the T'au is speaking to an individual whose first language is Imperial Gothic, the Polyglot Hedron picks up the appropriate dialect, and broadcasts the envoy's speech in that pattern.
- Archeotech - This arcane gizmo is an item of indeterminate function but immense value, a relic of the glorious Age of Technology unearthed from the deepest strata of the underhives that the T'au has managed to swindle out of some unfortunate human prospector. Up till now, the Water Caste envoy has been unaware of its function, and has not attempted to use it, preferring to let the Earth Caste give it a thorough examination. However, in the heat of battle, sometimes the element of choice is removed. The device may have a number of different effects, including simply playing beautiful music which provides no advantage in combat, projects a powerful force field that springs into place around the T'au, surrounding him in a blue sphere of crackling light, acts a stable anti-gravitic propulsion unit that allows the T'au to move through the air and away from battle at will, is a personal teleportation unit, acts as a powerful directed energy weapon like a Multi-Laser, or unleashes an unstable gravimetric effect on the local region of space-time like a Graviton Gun.
- Codex: Tau Empire (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), "The Castes"
- Codex: Tau Empire (6th Edition), pp. 7-12, 28
- Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition), pg. 9
- Tau Water Caste Envoy (Inquisitor Specialty Game) (Archived Web Page)
- Por'la Vior'la Kais'uam (Inquisitor Specialty Game) (Archived Web Page)