+ inload: Xenos Agitprop of Antona Australis +

+ Now is the time for all Shas'la to come to the aid of the Greater Good +

In ideological battles, technological competition and in vistas of space, let us be invincible in every fight!

Brightsword High Command Agritpop extract; from a view-pamphlet extensively distributed to worlds in the Tzi'Na M41.


+ Creating a sense of scale in your campaign +

+ Campaigns like the Tzi'Na Crisis [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] are a great excuse to build and paint something outside your gaming army. For our Scallops Stars campaign, I built and painted some one-off Imperial Guardsmen, such as the Metis Light Foot [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. These act as a bit of colour for the campaign, reminding players that their force is just one amongst many in these wars that rage across whole sub-sectors. +

+ This helps to add a sense of scale to the conflict, which has two effects: Firstly, it prevents the same few characters being pivotal across time and space (this is one of the things I like least about Games Workshop's latest direction). Secondly, and more positively, it makes your games more personal. Your own army and characters can have their own plots and important stories within the broader war, allowing for more personal creativity and development. +


+ Why make models for this? +

+ Of course, stories and colour text can do this too – there's no need to make models. However, this is a physical hobby, and it's nice to illustrate things with a picture or two. For me, it also serves to explore those ideas for colour schemes or modelling without committing to a whole army. +

+ In addition to letting you explore these ideas, creating a model will also likely inspire ideas, and help prompt some questions about the nature of the broader army, war or planet he or she represents. +


+ Dao'Doean Sept +

Even before the forces of the Curdling Armada began their invasion of the Tzi'Na Enclave worlds, the Tau Military Command (TMC) was moving in response. Strongheel, Commander of the TMC, foresaw a long campaign, and ordered additional new Cadres to be raised in defence of the worlds of the Enclave. Estimating the Septworld of Dao'Doean to be in imminent danger of attack, the TMC instituted a massive enrollment campaign, pulling Fire Caste trainees, cadets and – it is rumoured – those still in academy into active training barracks. +

Translating as 'the happy steppe'; or 'Yes, plainsland', Dao'Doean is a typical frontier world of the Tau Empire. Settled in living memory by pioneers from deeper within the Brightsword Protectorate, the Tau here are now in their third generation. 
The broad, sun-kissed plains of the world are covered with fields of mod-wheat imported from the Earth Caste scientists of Chac'Tun; while huge improver-harvesters travel between the principal settlements.
Tau of this world have a reputation for resilience and innovation, only slightly marred by whispers of indolence. The planet has a standing garrison of five thousand Fire Warriors, but has little history or experience of warfare. 
+ Antona Australis Inquisitorial abstract of the world +


+ Dao'Doean military forces +

+ The Tau's defeats in the nearby Cha'anxi system during the early stages of the Tzi'Na Crisis forced the Tau Military Command to graduate these Shas'la earlier than normal. The result was an impressively large number of new Cadres and reinforcements for existing forces pushed through training in a short amount of time. +

Shas'la Cano'Be (above) is a typical example of the newly-inducted Shas'la. Upright, proud and disciplined, the speed at which she has been trained – and the strain this placed on materiel supply – is nonetheless apparent. Most strikingly, she lacks the large shoulder shield and shin plates of a typical Strike Team member, likely due to lack of materials or delayed shipments to this frontier world. +

+ The variation on the aerial also marks the helm as an older pattern. Still functional, the helm would be regarded as virtually obsolete by the veterans of Cadres such as Hunter Cadre Shas'Ka Nan, currently operating nearby. +

+ Despite the compromises forced on the Sept, Cano'Be still benefits from arms and armour equal or superior to that enjoyed by Imperial Guardsmen of the sector. While the TMC have little illusion that the newly-raised Cadres would be able to defeat the Astartes elites of the Curdling Armada, the Fire Caste on Dao'Doean are highly motivated, and more than capable of engaging invading traitor guardsmen on an equal footing. +

+ The purple and green scheme provides little camouflage against the swaying golden-yellow fields in which the Fire Warriors operate; but is rather a combination of the original settler's Sept colours; intended to honour the Sept's founders. +

+ inload: Tau in Tzi'Na +

+ The Tzi'Na Crisis – Tau forces of M41 +

The Tzi'Na Crisis is a campaign between the Tau forces of the Brightsword Protectorate and the invading Curdling Armada, an immense fleet of unsavoury and predatory Chaos raiders.

This article is here to help PCRC Tau players to tell stories within the new region during the campaign. (A similar one is on the way for the Chaos players.) More importantly, perhaps, it's here to make the setting a little clearer! Antona Australis is more than six years old, and has got quite complicated.

The Brightsword Protectorate and surrounding space, M41.

+ What is the Tzi'Na Enclave? +

The Brightsword Protectorate is a tau-led coalition of worlds, armed forces and space fleets. Under the command of The High Council and its figurehead Aun'El Si'Ot Lon, the Protectorate represents the power and influence of T'au in the Antona Australis sector; intended as a bold and gleaming statement of the young species' intent of galactic dominance. 
In broader terms, the Brightsword Protectorate is the Tau's area of influence in Antona Australis; roughly equivalent in size to an Imperial Subsector. A general space for the PCRC to play with, it is made up of a large circular region and a number of smaller Enclaves. A short bit of 'history' explains this here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] in more detail, but the broad points are summarised below.

In-universe: The Tau were so successful that the Protectorate eventually got too big to govern centrally, owing to the Tau's lack of faster-than-light travel and communication. The High Council (see above) therefore set up subsidiary regions called Enclaves. These remain part of the Brightsword Protectorate, but are semi-autonomous. They are responsible for their own protection, taxation etc., but send representatives to The High Council, and can expect support from the broader Protectorate (and in turn from the Tau Empire as a whole).

  • Tau Empire > Brightsword Protectorate > Enclave > Individual starsystems > Septs (planets)

Out-of-universe: The Enclaves are a bit of a fudge that allow different PCRC members to create their own personal space for their Tau, and help account for the different stories you guys have written – while still keeping the Tau in the region vaguely united. Stuntwedge created his Starblade Enclave when the region was first set up back in 2013, so I took the name from there. The Tzi'Na Enclave was created to physically connect the main Brightsword Protectorate region to Warmtamale's Deep Reef setting on the sector map.


+ Okay, I want to join the Tau + 

Cool. You don't need to do anything beyond playing games with your Tau against people's Chaos armies.

+ Join the Tau Empire! Super-dynamic opportunities for advancement! +

+ Aw, but I want to add to the story +

Sweet – now we're talking! As always, the first rule is 'do whatever you like, I'm not your boss'. 
However, if you'd like to build on the basic blocks already laid down, then read on:
+ Tzi'Na Enclave history and notes: +
  • The Enclave covers a region that was largely wilderness space. There are lots of minor xenos and abhuman populations, as well as lots of worlds populated only by Tau settlers. Your systems can be ex-Imperial if you like, but most regions are 'fresh'. 
  • The Enclave was created following the High Council's Second Sphere Expansion. A fleet was created to liberate the region and establish the Tzi'Na Enclave. 
  • The Enclave is relatively new (one or two generations of Tau settlers). Some planets remain independent, but most of the planets have – willingly or unwillingly – submitted to Tau rule. 
  • The region as a whole can be treated as an occupied territory. The Tau decided to grant religious freedom, so lots of Chaos Cults sprang up on the ex-Imperial worlds.
  • The increased presence of cults drew the interest of Kainan; who became the figurehead for a Black Crusade. He heads the Curdling Armada, which has invaded to conquer the region in the name of the Dark Gods of Chaos.
+ Shas'O Po'Psox +
+ Who's in charge? +
  • The High Council is at the top. 
  • Below The High Council, and directly responsible for the Enclave's military is the Tau Military Command (TMC).
  • Commander Strongheel – also known as Shas'O Po'Psox – is the TMC's representative in the region; and in overall command of all Tau forces. He led the Second Sphere expansion for the Tzi'Na Enclave.
  • The TMC is a council of equals; so while Strongheel is the current President, he has no direct authority over your characters, merely political weight. In short, he can't order your guys; though for the sake of fitting in with the broader Tau background, I'd suggest we avoid everyone being a rebel!


+ How does my existing army fit in? +

All the above has been written in order to make sure that you get to tell your stories. I've been careful not to contradict anything recorded on the PCRC site, so there's no need to change your army's background. However, if you want to update, advance or adapt your army's story, now's as good a time as any. Here are a couple of starting points.
  • The PCRC's military commanders – that is, your characters, like Starblade, H'unk, Suna Sene etc. – represent senior officers within the TMC. You decide what relationship they have. Your commander might be a maverick, treating the TMC's orders as advice; or they may be a staunch believer in the Greater Good, and closely influence the TMC's plans.
  • The PCRC's Ethereals (Lord T'o'T'o, Aun’El K’myar’sa etc.) are Ethereals, so they can pretty much do what they want. However, unless there's a very good reason, I'd suggest they will all recognise Aun'El Si'Ot Lon (The High Council's figurehead) as their boss.
  • You should choose whether your forces are:
    • Veterans of the Second Sphere Expansion wars – i.e. the Tau warriors who conquered the region, and who remain as a garrison.
    • Newly-raised within the Enclave.
    • Reinforcements from the broader Protectorate brought in to fight the invading Curdling Armada.

+ New worlds, new opportunities +

Needless to say, the Tzi'Na Enclave (and the Second Sphere Expansion in general) offers a great opportunity to create a new army, or develop second-line characters a bit further. 

+Stuntwedge's Kais-Eoro oversaw the victory in Heyn'Am. What will he do next? +


+ To create a star system for your Tau +

Use this link [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. Stuntwedge's template makes everything nice and clear, so just fill in the boxes.
  • If you want to be a good, loyal Tau citizen, and part of the main Protectorate, then your system should sit near the following co-ordinates: X:85 Y:35 (you fill these in near the bottom of the form, under 'Star Map Settings'). That site is the centre of the Protectorate region – keep the values within five or so to make sure you're within it (or test and adjust with the edit function).
  • If you want to be a dynamic frontier colonist, and part of the Tzi'Na Enclave, your system should sit near the following co-ordinates: X:75 Y:38. Again, that marks the centre. Keep the values with three or so to stay within the Enclave.
This system is for you and you alone. It can be your army's homeworld, or – if you don't want your troops permanently settled in Antona Australis for whatever reason (e.g. an existing story you've written) – it can simply be a place they use as a staging post. If anyone wants to invade or do something to this region, they ought to check with you first. 

As an Imperial example, Lambda is the system where my Lamb's World guard come from. If someone wants to invade it/blow it up/have their character declare Exterminatus on it, it would be nice to be consulted beforehand. In contrast, Cha'Anxi is another system I've made – and its entire raison d'etre is to provide a setting for us to have battles, write stories etc. Feel free to do whatever there – and events in-games should definitely have an effect.

The same approach can be used to create a new system to fight over. As explained above, these are fair game for anyone to use. Here are the broad strokes of Tzi'Na to help guide you in creating systems and provide some inspiration for writing background that fits the existing background:

+ Warmtamale's Sune Sene has a whole history to write+

+ Naming +

  • As per above, the PCRC first rule applies – 'do what you want'.
  • I've been using slightly re-worded Chinese and Korean towns/regions as the basis for the systems' names, to give a semi-coherent feel to the region.
  • Not all the systems you create need to be Tau septs, so feel free to bring in other influences. I would, however, suggest that most systems should have a Tau feel to them.
  • The enclave's a pun on the New Wave band China Crisis, so feel free to add some classic dreadful 80s references.

+ But I'm not in the PCRC +

While it's written for our gaming group, there's nothing to stop you using this inload to provide some guidelines or ideas for your own gaming. 

Antona Australis is our little corner of the 40k galaxy – but even so, it's a big place. Doubtless there are Tau forces we'll never identify fighting against some offshoot of the Curdling Armada – why not tell their story with your own games?

+ inload: The Strange Fate of Shas'Nel Naseel +

The Kau-ui had deployed a few days earlier; scouting out the old river valley and forcibly evacuating the few reluctant aboriginals from the nearby hamlet. Shas'Nel Naseel had overseen the operation on the ground, directing his experienced Strike teams while the Shas'El ranged ahead with the Stealth Teams.

Fewer than a hundred kilometres behind them sat Waygoan, one of the principal cities of the region. There, an entire Legion of local auxiliaries were undergoing their hastened training. By now, Naseel mused, the first would be graduating. The more time the Fire Caste could buy, the more prepared the cities would be to withstand this strange invasion.

He reached under his helm, flicked the securing catch with a practised finger, and lifted it away. He closed his eyes and took a moment to enjoy the soft breeze and balmy evening. It was quiet, and peaceful. For a moment, he was reminded of the Civilised Hall of Serene Obedience on Luye'st. 

After a few stolen moments, he replaced his helm, checking the readouts and heads-up display. Two chimes were pending; likely status reports from his subordinates. 

His Kau-ui was well-equipped, had air support and knew the territory. Reinforcements in the form of Fire Caste cadres, armour units and aircraft were en route from deeper within the Tzi'Na Enclave; and Enclave-Commander Strongheel had – just three days ago – made a public augmit-cast pledge to the population that Or'Na would stand. 

So why did Naseel feel a nagging sense of doubt?


+ Game type: 40k 8th edition; Open Play
+ Mission: Blitz, 32 Power Level
+ Combatants: Apologist, commanding the Bleak Vespers; vs Bob Hunk, commanding the Hunter Cadre Hun'k.
+ Battleground: The Septworld Or'Na – the G'loshes Pass approach to Waygoan. Fertile farming land amongst steep hills, the dried-up river valley narrows to a defensible pass. An infantry force of Death Guard – the Bleak Vespers – has used the hills to avoid air strikes, and is advancing towards Waygoan City.

+ Deployment and early turns +

+ The Fire warriors hunker down, forming the first line of defence. A cry goes up as the Death Guard emerge from the gathering dusk – but a low-flying Thunderhawk performs a preliminary bombardment, killing a number of Fire Warriors on the Tau's left flank. +

+ Undaunted, Naseel orders disciplined volley-fire against the invaders. The Death Guard's armour and unnatural resilience protects them. +

+ Pulsefire echoes down the lines. +

+ From the hill, kroot and another Strike Team lend their weight to fire; and first one, then a second Plague Marine falls. +

+ Ducking down to avoid the increasing return fire, the Shas'Nel pauses to report contact – and a flutter of nervousness arises. They're not doing enough damage to stop the invaders yet... +

+ Ponderously but inexorably, the Bleak Vespers march towards the Tau lines. Their advance is accompanied by the disturbing sound of turgid bells and tocsins. +

+ Forcing their way over – or simply through – the fences and hedges, the Plague Marines get to grips with the desperate defenders. +

+ His squad wiped out, Naseel attempts to fall back. A Plague Marine seizes him by the throat, lifting him into the air... + 

+ Gurgling, his vision dimming, the Tau sub-commander kicks out frantically, but hears nothing but the gloating laughter of his captors. +

+ Dismayed, the remainder of the Kau-ui make a disciplined fall back, firing on the move as they displace again and again. More of the Plague Marines fall – but not enough. Too many creakingly regain their feet, shrugging off the most heinous wounds. +

+ A counter-charge by the Kroot auxilia meets the same fate as the Fire Warriors – crushed by the fists and heels of the ominous invaders. +

+ With their forces fading, the Stealth Teams redouble their attacks – but even their heavy rotary cannons can't find a chink in the Astartes' plate. +

+ The Death Guard press on through the valley, boltguns raised to eye level and reaping their enemies. +

+ Redeploying from the burnt-out farmhouse, the remaining Strike Team gathers on the hill. +

+ The concentrated firepower of the remaining desperate Tau takes down the last member of a Death Guard squad – but the filthy sorceries of the Plague God find a weak link... +

+ One after another, half a dozen Fire Caste Warriors collapse, their bodies overcome with a strange wasting disease. The remainder, already fearful, flee as the strange bells toll. +

+ Result: Chaos victory +


+ It was surprising to see just how much firepower Plague Marines can take. This infantry-focussed skirmish probably played to their strengths, and I suspect Hunter Cadre Hunk will bring more specialised equipment next time! +

+ As with the game summarised yesterday – the First Battle of Heyn'Am [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] – the Plague Marines didn't kick out much firepower of their own, with the majority of casulaties being caused either by morale losses or through mortal wounds generated by the sorcerer. Curse of Lepers involves rolling seven dice; each that exceeds the nearest enemy unit's toughness causes a mortal wound. This proved deadly in this game, grievously hurting the battlesuit commander and wiping out half of a Strike Team. +

+ While the 'shock and awe' effect of seeing a new army was novel, I can't imagine that a whole army of Plague Marines – as I'd originally planned – would be very fun to play against, purely owing to the sheer difficulty of removing the buggers. I think I'll prioritise some cultists and things to help with the variety for larger games. +

+ Nevertheless, it was a fun game, and – as 8th seems to encourage – packed with fun little events that suggest stories. +

+ What next? +
+ With the Bleak Vespers having made their way through the mountains, they have the option of pushing on to Waygoan, one of the Tau-held cities on Or'Na, and claiming it in the name of Kainan and the Curdling Armada. Will the Tau's auxiliary forces be ready in time to defend it – or can Strongheel's veteran forces such as  Commander Starblade and Commander Suna Sene launch a counter-assault? +

+ Secondly, whatever will happen to Naseel? I can't imagine being captured by Chaos is good for him... Will he escape, be rescued, or will some strange fate happen to him? +

+ inload: Slow and purposeful: First Battle of Heyn'Am +

+ Following the events on the Tau septworld of Or'Na, in Cha'Anxi – a datablurt-summary of the battle can be found here: [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] – the forces of the Curdling Armada are on driving forward on a number of fronts. +

+ As warfare on the Cha'Anxi front escalates, Kainan has dispatched a battlegroup to the Heyn'Am Rim. A motley collection of abhumans, traitor guardsmen and cultists, the force is accompanied by cell-warbands of Renegade Astartes, including the Mottled Halo, Bleak Vespers, Sons of Spectra and Scions of Magnus – a Thousand Sons warband commanded by the sorcerers Nikolai and Kamal. 

+ Tasked with disrupting critical food and supply lines from the bountiful world of Heyn'Am itself, the battlegroup made landfall only after a long and costly void battle. The sacrifices of the Air Caste gave the resourceful Commander Kais-Eoro – the ranking Tau officer in the system, and a trusted lieutenant of the sectorial commander, Strongheel – time to stiffen his hurriedly-prepared and inexperienced force of auxiliary defenders. +


+ As the bulk of the two armies forces clashed across half a dozen strategic points, the elites met in the First Battle of Heyn'Am. An uneasy alliance of Death Guard and Thousand Sons met with Kais-Eoro's own battle-hardened corps of Fire Warriors – and some unexpected mercenaries: the Duke of Gork 'n Da Ten Faaazand. +

+ Lacking sufficient experienced Fire Caste warriors, and dubious of the indiginous levy's morale, Kais-Eoro made the fateful decision to employ a warband of greenskins to stymie the Chaos forces' advance. The aggressive greenskins executed a massive charge in the centre within moments of the battle's beginning. +

+ The fresh, verdant coastal landscape quickly became a quagmire as the brutal greenskins met the equally savage heretic Astartes. The heart of the battle was in a swirling ongoing melee in the centre, with more and more forces drawn into a meatgrinder. +

+ When the last orks fell in the centre, a mere handful of Plague Marines remained standing, swaying but defiant – but Kais-Eoro's own household was virtually untouched; and the remnants of the orks were sweeping up the embattled Thousand Sons on the shoreline. +

+ As light began to fall, the Tau-led coalition had the upper hand, but it had been a brutal and draining fight for both sides. + 

+ Result: a hard-fought victory for the Tau +


+ Aftermath +

+ The mysterious tzeentchian warband claimed a personal victory, as they had rescued – or abducted – the hermit-magos Inshabel. This notorious heretek had haunted the worlds of the Heyn'Am Rim for some time, evading Imperial justice. His forbidden research into thanatology presumably promises Kamal and Nikolai some way of replenishing their ranks of Rubric marines. +

+ The Death Guard Sorcerer Czeslisc mournfully ordered the retreat before his forces were wiped out completely. His next act will be to report to his superiors; and perhaps return with reinforcements to subdue the tenacious world. +

+ Kais-Eoro's hunter cadre returned home virtually intact – a vital advantage for the ongoing war. Now Brightsword Command is aware that the Curdling Armada can strike deep into the Enclaves, perhaps Kais-Eoro's status will be increased. +

+ As for the Duke of Gork 'n da Ten Faaasand... The Duke himself crawled from the wreckage of his favourite buggy, who can say how he will react? Recriminations against the Tau, or pursuit of a valued new enemy? +