Tauren (shu'halo in their native language of Taur-ahe) are huge nomadic creatures who live on the grassy, open plains of Mulgore in central Kalimdor. Tauren are large, muscular humanoids and bovine in appearance, complete with hooves and horns. They stand anywhere from six and a half to nine feet tall and weigh anywhere from 400 to 700 pounds. Their immense bodies are covered with fine, short fur that ranges in color from black to gray to white to red to brown to tan and any mottled combinations or variations thereof. After generations of nomadic existence, the tauren have recently made permanent settlements in Mulgore and the Barrens.
The plains of Kalimdor have long been a home to these tremendous nomads. The tauren are a race of shamans, hunters, and warriors who long ago developed a complex culture and system of living without the aid of stonework, steel or conquest. This is not to say that the tauren are a race of pacifists, for when they are angered they are capable of retaliating with swift and decisive brutality. Tauren are, in a word, stoic, embodying the strong and silent type with their quiet contemplation. This introspective air combined with their immense size can lead a person to understand as to "why" many regard the tauren as a wise and dangerous race. Tauren rarely speak unless there is a true reason to, preferring to act instead of talk. However, once a tauren has learned to interact with a companion, there seems to be a more open and enthusiastic exchange of words. Since tauren warm slowly to non-tauren, they are usually silent and may sometimes appear brooding. If anything, a person could attribute the silence of the tauren on the strife of recent times. Tauren have no love for bloodshed, as their deep spiritual beliefs do not have a place for warfare. The elders of a tribe solve most issues, or two tauren might resolve a conflict with a ritual challenge resembling a duel. Having become members of the Horde, the introspective race has been involved in more and more conflict, creating a demand for tauren warriors and healers. Many must spend time putting great thought into the actions they perform on the field of battle. Taking another life, whether it is man or beast, is an act filled with great significance and responsibility to the taure
Tauren have a long and complex oral tradition that has been handed down for generations. Since almost no written record exists of tauren history, the accuracy of their tales is unknown. Regardless, many of their stories provide the only known account for several events in history, and so these stories must be regarded as having at least some believability. The tauren race is presumed to be as old as the night elf since both races are said to have awoken during the creation of the world. According to Brann Bronzebeards research, the tauren race predates the Titans' arrival on Azeroth, and may have evolved from an unknown bull Ancient. Much like the elves, they have a strong attunement to nature and the elemental spirits. Thus, their society is largely based on shamanism. They live to serve nature and maintain the ever delicate balance between the wild things of the land and the restless spirits of the elements. In addition, elements of druidism, which was taught by Cenarius and then forgotten over millennia, have been recently incorporated into tauren society, further highlighting their service to nature. In particular the presence of accounts regarding Cenarius before he was known to the elves are confirmed by others sources as being accurate. In particular, the birth of Cenarius is covered and their version confirmed by night elven mythos, as well as in the book The Sundering by Richard A. Knaak.
Tauren ancestors dwell deep within the Emerald Dream.
War of the Ancients
In the primary timeline, the tauren did not take part in the War of the Ancients, the battle against the first demonic invasion approximately 10,000 years ago. However, in the altered history created by the intervention of Krasus and his companions, they were convinced to join the alliance against the Burning Legion by the dragon-mage. The xenophobic night elf commander, Desdel Stareye, refused to use the tauren to their abilities, namely heavy melee fighters, on the grounds that they were apparently as likely to kill night elves and earthen as demons. They were led by Huln Highmountain. After the "tragic" loss of the commander, the tauren were re-deployed to extreme effectiveness by his replacement, Jarod Shadowsong. The tauren who survived the war maintained fairly good, or at least cordial, relations with the Sentinels.
The New Horde
For countless generations after the war, the tauren roamed the plains of the Barrens hunting the mighty kodo, and sought the wisdom of their eternal goddess, the Earthmother. Their tent cities were scattered across the landscape and changed with the seasons and the weather. The wandering tribes were united only by a common hatred for their sworn enemy, the marauding centaur.
At the brink of extinction, the chieftain Cairne Bloodhoof, desperate for help, turned to the strange green-skinned warriors from over the sea. Cairne quickly befriended the Warchief Thrall and the other orcs, and recognized that they shared a love for honor and battle. For their part, the orcs and the Darkspear trolls that composed the Horde found much in common with the tauren. Each of these races wanted to achieve a more shamanistic culture, and the tauren, long versed in the lore of spirit and nature, were well-prepared to provide counsel and support to the budding shamanism within the Horde.
With the orcs' help, Cairne and his Bloodhoof Tribe were able to drive back the centaur and claim the grasslands of Mulgore for themselves. For the first time in millennia, the tauren had a land to call their own. For this alone they were forever indebted to their orcish allies. Upon the windswept mesa of Thunder Bluff, Cairne built a refuge for his people, where tauren of every tribe were welcome. Over time the scattered tauren tribes united under Cairne's rule. There are but a few tribes who disagree about the direction their new nation should take, but all agree that Cairne is the wisest and best suited to lead them toward the future. Helping the mighty Cairne in the duties of ruling his race are the Archdruid Hamuul Runetotem and the elder crone Magatha Grimtotem.
Although the tauren have reclaimed their lands and battle alongside the Horde, not all is peaceful. The Grimtotem tribe tries to this day to usurp the rule of Cairne, plotting to overthrow his leadership. At the same time, the Emerald Dream, realm of the green dragonflight, is tainted with a strange evil. Malfurion Stormrage is trapped inside, and the green dragons act strangely as they attack all who pass near. Both elven and tauren druids are researching these events since the Emerald Dream, home of Ysera the Dreamer (the green aspect), must be kept safe.
This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
With the death of the noble Cairne Bloodhoof through Gimtotem treachery, his son Baine takes over the leadership of the tauren in Cataclysm. The tauren are attempting to keep their land safe from the recent Alliance incursion into the Barrens, and have created a mighty wall aptly named the "Great Gate" to this end. The Grimtotem tauren themselves, hunted by the Horde, are forced into an uneasy truce with the Alliance in Stonetalon Mountains, the likes of which is broken shortly after.
Tauren mythology and culture
The earliest history of the tauren is recorded in a series of myths. These chronicle the period of time from the creation of the world to the appearance of the centaur, speaking of the creation of the tauren by the Earthmother, their meeting with Cenarius, and the coming of the centaur.
Though the noble tauren are peaceful in nature, the rites of the Great Hunt are venerated as the heart of their spiritual culture. Every tauren, warrior or otherwise, seeks identity as both a hunter and as a child of the Earthmother. Tauren, young or otherwise, seek to prove their bravery by setting themselves against the creatures of the wild. Despite killing the animals, the tauren are taught never to waste anything given to them by nature and to give back what they can. They learn the fine balance that exists in nature and that if they honor the Earthmother, she will bless them in return.
Despite their enormous size and brute strength, the remarkably peaceful tauren cultivate a quiet, tribal society. However, when roused by conflict, tauren are implacable enemies who will use every ounce of their strength to smash their enemies under hoof. They are noble and proud and have never, despite significant adversity in the past, succumbed to their enemies. Like the orcs, the tauren now struggle to retain their sense of tradition and noble identity.
Young, fledgling tauren are known as "youngbloods".
For the tauren, nature is the mother of the world, and their faith holds a deep and resonant tone within their hearts. Tauren are connected to the ebb and flow of the world. They revere the spirits of the land and of their ancestors, and they turn to these spirits for wisdom and guidance. This connection manifests in their deeply animistic culture, where druids and shamans stand side by side with warriors and hunters. Tauren do not see a separation between the veneration of nature and the hunt; to hunt is to honor the spirits of nature.
Here is a list of Tauren characters on WoWRP.