The Tauren (from Latin Taurus, bull; also an anagram of Nature) are a race of intelligent cow people in the Warcraft universe. They were first introduced in Warcraft III as units in the Orcish Horde, and their role was expanded in World of Warcraft to be a fully playable race.
Tauren are quite large. Theoretically, they can reach 12 feet in height, although in World of Warcraft, the males are about 8 feet tall and the females 6½. The average Tauren weighs between 700-900 pounds (315-410 kg for our Metric friends). Sexual dimorphism in Tauren is strong: the males are huge and stooped, with a ruff of fur on their necks rather than their heads being the tallest points on their bodies, while Tauren females are smaller, significantly more slender, with their heads as the tallest points on their bodies. Interestingly, Tauren females have two breasts, proportionate to those of human women, rather than udders.
Tauren are a proud people, deeply religious, and high respectful of the land and its needs. Their belief system is a combination of shamanism and animism. They believe that the Earthmother created Azeroth, and the Tauren to guard it, that the land is full of spirits whose needs must be heeded, and that the fertility and peace of the land must be preserved. At one time, they were known to the demigod Cenarius, who taught them druidism. Although there are some parallels between the earth-loving sentiments of the Tauren and Night Elves, the Elves have a far stronger desire to harness magic, which worries the Tauren.
Tauren wandered and cultivated the plains of Kalimdor long before encountering the other major races in Warcraft canon. However, in Warcraft III, the warchief Thrall, sailing west to find a new land for the Orcs, helped a Tauren tribe defend themselves from Centaur attacks, leading them west from the Barrens to the lush land of Mulgore. There, the long-separated Tauren tribes were reunited under the leadership of Cairne Bloodhoof of the Bloodhoof tribe, and built the city of Thunder Bluff on the high mesas in Mulgore’s northwest. Out of gratitude to the young warchief, the Tauren, now led by the joint efforts of the Bloodhoof and Grimtotem tribes, have pledged themselves as members of the Horde.
There are still some Tauren tribes who do not appreciate Bloodhoof’s reunification of the Tauren, including many of the Grimtotems. These “evil Tauren” are found across Kalimdor, and are friendly towards none of the playable races in World of Warcraft.
Tauren place a high value on respect for elders and the land, on learning and sharing wisdom, and on honoring and helping their newfound allies. Their love for nature and lore is a major reason for the strength of their friendship with the Orcs and Trolls, themselves both shamanistic cultures. Although the Tauren have no particular qualms with the forsaken Undead, the relationship between these two races is perhaps the weakest in the game. Like the other races in the Horde, the Tauren see the struggle between the Horde and the Alliance not as a war between good and evil, but as a struggle between conquerer and conquered, an attempt to find a home and peace for their people. A relationship with the Alliance is precluded by Taurens’ strong dislike for the works of men, dwarves, and gnomes, whom they see as seeking to harness and destroy the land, rather than respect it.
Tauren culture has an obvious basis in the traditional practices of American Indians. Both have a strong sense of respect for nature, a tribal society, and a history marked by repeated attempts by invaders to split up the natives and push them out of their lands. But Blizzard has driven the resemblance even further, dotting Tauren villages with huts, teepees, lodges, totem poles, dreamcatchers, and even giant, smoking peace pipes. An early Tauren quest sends players on a spirit journey, following a ghostly wolf to learn more about their heritage and lore. Some players object to what they see as a crass reappropriation of a culture that is almost complete disappeared; others believe that most of the peoples and cultures in Warcraft are harmlessly crafted by reinterpreting and melding aspects of both real peoples and traditional fantasy concepts.
In Warcraft III, the Tauren contributed two units and a hero to the Orcish Horde: the Tauren, a strong melee unit who fights with a giant club, the Spirit Walker, a healing unit able to resurrect dead Tauren, and the Tauren Chieftain, a hero unit able to come back to life after being killed.
In World of Warcraft, Tauren characters can be warriors, shamans, hunters, or druids (notably, the only race other than Night Elves able to play this class). Due to their strong ties to the land, Tauren have a +10 racial bonus to nature resistance and a +15 racial bonus to Herbalism. In addition, their maximum health has a +5% bonus, and they have the War Stomp ability, which stuns enemies in a radius around the Tauren.