There is demand for Tau Archetypes. So I wrote down my thoughts on designing a Fire Warrior.

So occasionally, I stumble upon the demand for T'au Homebrews, so I thought about designing the Fire Warrior Archetype and thus the Species and basic Wargear. During the process, I try to lay down my thought process.

In the End, we will have a first draft of a Species and Archetype. A good basic for discussion and further development, I think.

Gather Information

Lets first gather all the stuff that I would expect a Fire Warrior to have and then we will split this into species, archetype, keywords and gear parts. Also, we need to see what Tier are we targeting. In buzzwords, we need to address stuff like: castes, septs, pulsweapons, the greater good...

Tau are described as having human like physic, slightly weaker but I think within the normal boundaries so I do not see any Enhancements for Physical Attributes.

For keywords I see Tau, for the Species. The Castes are a significant part of upbringing, and I would implement those like the Astartes Chapters. The Septs are similar to regiments or regions. So probably a <Sept> Keyword, where the specific Sept either gives a bonus (like regimental Affiliation for Imperial Guardsman) or don't.

The Greater Good is a Tau core principle and must be added somehow. Maybe as part of the Species or Archetype.

The Caste would be prerequisite for many Archetypes. I would even go so far to make the Etherals Their own subspecies or variant. So for now, I won't cover them. Thinking a litte more about it, maybe only add the Caste as Keyword for the Archetype... hm, we will see.

The Tau are (lore wise or maybe more tabletop rules wise), not a melee army, having lower Weapons Skill and Initiative values. I thought about giving them some drawback but I am not sure if it is really needed. You could just give the Archetypes relative good range weapons and only basic melee weapons and be done with it. Also, the archetype abilities could/should be range combat focused.

The Wargear would be relatively basic for a Tau Firewarrior: Puls-Rifle or Puls-Carbine, maybe defensive/shock? grenades. Tau Carapace (so to say) as Armour would be sufficient. From the raw equipment, I would see a Fire Warrior on par with an Imperial Scion, thus Tier 2. While I see them as Troops for NPC, I think Tier 2 would be appropriate, those are trained soldiers with fine equipment. The Species itself would be Tier 1.

Oh, and lets not forget that the Tau are a non Psychic race, with only minimal (if any) fire in the Warp. Thus no Psychic powers for them.

Define Basics

With those considerations in mind, lets define the species. I give the Species three Abilities: Bound by Caste, For the Greater Good and Low Warpresence.

Bound by Caste would give you respective abilities and bounds for your caste. For the Fire Warrior Archetype we only need to have Rules for the Fire Caste. But I think we should consider the other castes as well, so the balancing is not off later, when we introduce additional archetypes.

The Castes are:

  • Fire (Shas) form the military and are capable survivors and hunters. Bonus to Survival and/or Athletics?

  • Earth (Fio) are technicians and artisans. Bonus to Tech?

  • Water (Por) diplomats and merchants . Bonus to Persuasion and/or Scholar?

  • Air (Kor) pilots and core of the navy . Bonus to Pilot

And the Eatherals, who we will not cover for now.

As I said earlier, I might skip this and just make it a Keyword bound to the Archetype. This leaves us with Low Warp-Presence and For the Greater Good.

Low War-Presence should (a) prevent a Tau from gaining the Psyker keyword and learning psychic powers and (b) give them some resistance against telepathic or mind based attacks. Ok, here we go:

Warp Presence (v1):

Tau can never have the Psyker keyword or learn Psychic Powers. Their low presence in the warp also gives them +1 bonus dice when resisting telepathic powers.

Ok this is fine. A fitting restriction and a small bonus. We need to check the respective powers to see how strong it is. We can also give the bonus to Conviction Tests, resisting corruption? This seems fitting.

Warp Presence (v2):

Tau can never have the Psyker keyword or learn Psychic Powers. Their low presence in the warp also gives them +1 bonus dice when resisting telepathic powers or for Conviction Tests.

Nice. Now the Greater Good. While reading about it, I stumbled over the Ta'lissera that is a ritual performed by Tau Fire Warriors, ... and others. Maybe this could be a Talent for Tau...

The Greater Good is hard to grasp for me to put it into crunch (read, Rules). We could just represent it with a bonus to Resolve but maybe we come up with something more. The principle is described as

[...] that all sentient beings should strive to ensure the greatest good for the greatest number of beings in the galaxy.

Source: warhammer40k.fandom

Maybe something that let you sacrifice something for another ally? Maybe allow others to spend Wrath from your pool? Lets see.

Once per combat round, you may allow that an ally within 15 meters spend a Wrath Token from your pool as if it was theirs.

Cool and special. Also, it's relatively generic and thus usable by many archetypes. Lets use this for now.

So, regarding the Build Point Cost... I think 10 would be appropriate. Maybe even only 5. At least without any further buffs due to the Caste.

The Archetype

Ok, here comes the meat. Easy things first, the Keywords. We need T'au (the Species Keyword), Fire Caste (obviously) and <Sept> (aka and where are you from?).

Regarding the ability, the Fire Warriors are usually good at Overwatch Fire or similar. So we could give them something to react on incomming foes, like shooting at a target once per battle? Maybe at the cost of your movement (like the Sidestep Talent).

Coverfire:

Once per Battle, when an un-engaged enemy moves within 15 meters, you can attempt a single range attack without combat options. You add +Rank dice to the Attack.

I think it is... Ok. So let's check the Influence Bonus. I think, for a Rank and File Soldier, a Bonus of 0 to 1 would be appropriate. Scions, being Tier 2 have +1 so I think that is ok. I Would consider 0 given, that the Wargear will be pretty strong for a Tier 2 Archetype. But lets leave it at 1.

So, now the Wargear, we need at least a Pulse Rifle, Photon Grenades and some Armour.

Pulse Rifle

Range 50 m ( giving it ~10m more than Bolters, I think 60m would also work. Salvo 2 and Rapid Fire (2) is appropriate for a Rifle. Maybe give it Rapid Fire (1). Steadfast (stolen from the Abundance of Apocrypha) might be fine, but could be skipped. A maybe not. Finally, the damage. I would make it slightly stronger than the Bolter maybe 11 or 12. I would go with 11 probably. So we have:

Range: 50m | Damage 11 +1ED | AP - | Salvo 2 | Rapid Fire (1)

Solid. Compared to the Hot-Shot Lasgun, that has 7 +1ED and AP -2 -> thus effectively Damage 9 (assuming someone has basic armour).

Ahhh. The Armour. this is easy as it is a plain Rating 4 Armour, thank you very much.

Lets not forget the Photon Grenades (inspiration by ... APOCRYPHA!):

Range: STRx3 m | Damage (special) | AP - | Salvo - | Blast (Medium) | Special: Enemies hit are blinded until their next turn

Well its like the Homebrew, but without the pinned condition. I think blinded will be sufficient.

Regarding the Cost... The Scions costs 30 and the Sister of Battle 40. I think, I would go with 30. Maybe (a little) more, depending on (if) a Bonus from the <Sept> Keyword. A good default would be the Imperial Regiment rules wise, thus +1/2 Rank to a specific Skill Test.

Conclusion

You stayed with me and here we are. Still some parts to flesh out I think. I highly recommend a look into the Tau Bestiary from the Apocrypha as it contains a vast amount of Rules, for Equipment, Castes, Septs, Archetypes... a good inspiration indeed.