- "'Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go!"
- — Common Ork chant heard during a Greenskin WAAAAGH!
The Orks, also called Greenskins, are a savage, warlike, green-skinned race of humanoids who are spread all across the Milky Way Galaxy. They share many features with Warhammer Fantasy Orcs (and were initially called Space Orcs to distinguish them). They are seen by their enemies (pretty much everyone else in the galaxy) as savage, warlike, and crude, but they are the most successful species in the whole galaxy, outnumbering possibly every other intelligent race, even Mankind (with the very plausible exception of the Tyranids, who are split between thousands of subspecies genetically engineered for specific purposes). Greenskins are one of the most dangerous alien races to plague the galaxy. Numerous beyond belief and driven always to fight and conquer, the greenskins threaten every single race in the galaxy. Orks are possibly the most warlike aliens in the 41st Millennium, and their number is beyond counting. Amid constant, seething tides of war and bloodshed, burgeoning Ork empires rise and fall. Mercifully most are short-lived, soon destroying themselves in a maelstrom of violence, but should the Orks ever truly unify, they would crush all opposition. The Orks' unquenchable thirst for battle has always proved their downfall: historically, the Ork tribes have spent much of their time fighting amongst themselves, waging brutal wars with only the strongest surviving. On occasion, an Ork leader will emerge who is mighty enough to defeat his rivals and unite the warring tribes. His success draws other tribes to him, and soon a great WAAAGH! is underway –- partly a migration, partly a holy war that can exterminate the populations of entire star systems. When the Orks are on the rampage, the galaxy trembles, and in these dark days there are more Waaaghs! rising than ever before.
The Orks were created more than 60 million Terran years ago as a warrior race originally called the Krork by the long-vanished reptilian alien species known as the Old Ones, whom the Orks refer to as the Brain Boyz. The Orks were created by the Brain Boyz to fight the Necrons and their C'tan masters in the great interstellar conflict called the War in Heaven over 60 million Terran years ago that shattered the galactic civilisation of the Old Ones that existed prior to the rise of the Eldar.
Orks are thus genetically engineered to be muscular, aggressive, and none too bright; their technology is maintained by a caste of Oddboyz who have genetic dispositions to be unusually skilled with maintaining and developing technology, though this skill is an unconscious one preserved through genetic memories hard-wired into the Oddboyz' DNA by the Brain Boyz millions of years ago. Indeed, the Brain Boyz were apparently able to encode information on how to build simple machinery into the genomes of the Orks; thus Mekboyz require very little training in their function, since they understand mechanical principles at a fully instinctive level.
Orks lack individual psychic power, being denied such abilities by the Old Ones. However, they do have a sort of collaborative, collective psychic ability, meaning that if enough Orks believe something is true, then it will actually become so, brought into power by their gestalt psychic ability. For example, Ork rockets painted yellow create bigger explosions, simply because the vast majority of Orks think they do. This is also why much of the Orks' seemingly ramshackle technology will do terrible damage in the hands of Orks, but will cease to function when used by other races.
The Gorro Hollowing
When the Emperor of Mankind revealed Himself to Humanity following the Long Night of the Age of Strife in the early 30th Millennium, he unified war-torn Terra into a single unified world, for the first time in millennia. Once he had conquered Terra, he looked to taking his Great Crusade into the stars. And so, having created the foundations of the Imperium of Man, he launched his massive armies out into the galaxy, seeking to bring all of human-settled space back under the control of a unified empire. During these early conquests, many Imperial Expeditionary Fleets encountered the greenskin menace -- a violent xenos species designated as Orks. Within the Telon Reach was an Ork empire that rivalled that centred on Ullanor, and at its heart was the scrap world of Gorro. The Ork tech-caste, the Mekboyz, dominated the Orks of Gorro and had made the world their own. The dominant tech-caste on Gorro seemed to be fascinated by a form of plasma technology never encountered before or since. Capable of generating destructive yields of terrifying potency, these plasma weapons had done much to blunt the Great Crusade's advance across the Telon Reach. The Emperor decreed that Gorro must be destroyed.
When a thousand-strong fleet of warships dropped out of the Warp above Gorro it was the Emperor Himself who gave the order to begin the assault. Horus, Primarch of the vaunted Luna Wolves Space Marine Legion, and ever the dutiful and favoured son, stood at the Emperor's side and watched as tens of thousands of assault craft spread out from the fleet. The Luna Wolves teleported into the scrap layers beneath the planet's surface, forced to hollow out Gorro from within due to the planet's high resistance to orbital bombardment. In the vanguard was the Emperor and by his side was Horus and a guard of black-armoured Justaerin Terminators from the Luna Wolves' 1st Company as well as the golden-clad warriors of the Legiones Custodes. As the Space Marines attacked, the Ork resistance they faced was near overwhelming. The Orks of Gorro were huge and augmented with scavenged bionics. Some stood taller than Dreadnoughts and their weaponry burned through Power Armour easily.
At the height of the battle, the fury of the Orks split the Emperor from his guards. Alone he slew hundreds of them until a blast from an Ork plasma weapon weakened his defences and one of the Ork leaders seized him. The creature's strength was so great that it took hold of the Emperor and buckled his armour. As the creature's grasp closed to throttle the Master of Mankind, Horus stormed through the press of battle and cut the Ork's arms from its body with a single blow. Together father and son led their forces deeper into the vast sphere of scrap until they reached the centre of Gorro. The Emperor worked to collapse the self-sustaining plasma sphere that powered much of the world's scavenged Ork technology and that contained a Warp-fold envelope, so that Gorro would implode into the Warp. The Emperor proved successful, and without its power source, the scrap world collapsed in on itself. A hollow skin of rusted metal around an empty void was all that remained to mark the death of the great Ork empire of Gorro.
The Ullanor Crusade
The Ullanor Crusade was a vast Imperial assault on the Ork empire of the Overlord Urrlak Urruk during the Great Crusade in the early years of the 31st Millennium. The capital world of this empire, and the site of the final assault, lay in the Ullanor System of the Ullanor Sector, which had long been under the dominion of Urrlak Urruk's Greenskin pocket empire. The Crusade included the deployment of 100,000 Space Marines, 8,000,000 Imperial Army troops, and thousands of Imperial starships and their support personnel. The Luna Wolves spearheaded the assault into the heart of Urlakk's fortress-palace. During the height of the assault, Horus and a retinue of Luna Wolves Terminators from the elite 1st Company came face to face with the massive Ork Warlord and a retinue of 40 Ork Nobz. Horus charged into the Nobz, hacking them apart with his Lightning Claws until he finally faced the Ork Overlord himself. Urlakk was simply no match for the Primarch's skill and unnatural power. First crippling his enemy, Horus hefted Urlakk's broken body out onto the roof of the Greenskin's palace and threw it screaming from the battlements to fall far below amongst the horde of Orks still assaulting the lower levels.
Seeing their leader defeated sent a panic through the Greenskin forces, which started to fall back from the Terminators. But the fleeing mobs found they had nowhere to run, as the outer walls had been breached by the attacking Luna Wolves, and the day turned into a slaughter. In the Overlord's chamber, Horus found every Ork and Terminator dead, apart from the gore-drenched First Captain of the 1st Company, Ezekyle Abaddon, who was surrounded by crushed and Ork bodies. The Ullanor Crusade marked the high point of the Great Crusade's vast effort to reunite the scattered colony worlds of humanity. The Orks of Ullanor represented the largest concentration of Orks ever defeated by the military forces of the Imperium of Man before the Third War for Armageddon began during the late 41st Millennium.
From pirate enclaves to system-spanning empires, Ork holdings are as varied as they are steeped in violence. When they invade a planet or a star system, greenskins bring with them a belligerent ecosystem that overwhelms each conquered world as surely as the Orks themselves crush its defenders. Greenskin society and ecology is so robust that it can exist almost anywhere, which is why their settlements have been found scattered to the furthest corners of the galaxy. The Imperium has encountered Orks and their kind living –- even prospering -– in such extreme environments as toxic Death Worlds, newborn planets still heaving with volcanic activity, or the depressurised carcasses of abandoned orbital platforms. Ork hordes have been found inhabiting drifting ice floes, or infesting irradiated asteroid fields perilously close to active stars. They have been discovered amid corrosive chemical swamps, on lightless nightmare worlds seething with horrific predators, even in the bombed-out remains of planets subjected to Exterminatus. It is rumoured amid the Imperium's Rogue Traders that there are even Ork enclaves hidden within the Eye of Terror itself, though most dismiss this as the ravings of madmen.
No matter where they are encountered or in what numbers, the greenskins are a deadly threat that will multiply exponentially if left unchecked. In a matter of weeks what began as a small raiding party can swell –- as if some by some arcane alchemy –- into a roiling, anarchic horde bent upon war and destruction. The other races of the galaxy have many theories regarding how their numbers increase so quickly. These range from spontaneous physical division to the release of windblown spores after death. The notorious Vandermeist theorem even claims that the greenskins inhabit an alternative pocket of reality and simply fall through, fully formed, wherever others of their kind are already at war. While many of these wild suggestions are patently ridiculous, it is certainly the case that where one Ork is encountered, more will never be far away. When combined with their relentlessly warlike nature, and tendency to grow larger and more powerful with every battle they survive, it is easy to see how rampaging Orks can quickly overwhelm a planet's defences. A ragged band of Orks allowed to escape the wreckage of their spacecraft and disappear into a city's underhive will return within weeks as a horde of murderous savages, sweeping all before them in their desire for conquest. Those they do not kill will be enslaved, and that which they do not destroy will be looted. Before long, another world will be conquered by the Orks, its cities reduced to ruins and its populace toiling in chains for their brutal greenskin overlords.
Those who have studied Ork settlements (and survived) have observed that Ork civilisation is hierarchical in the extreme. The life of a greenskin is determined not by rank or birth, but by size and savagery. The largest Orks push around their smaller brethren, who in turn bully the diminutive slave-race known as the Gretchin into doing their bidding. Smaller still are the Snotlings, tiny and simple-minded creatures with little use beyond fungus tending or fetching and carrying. The greenskin sub-races have a symbiotic relationship of sorts; the smaller greenskins perform menial tasks for their Ork overseers in exchange for a measure of protection. The Ork language literally has no word for "diplomacy"; they solve almost all of their disputes by fighting. Indeed, many intelligent races believe that violence itself is a language amongst the Orks, since they use pain and brutality to get their points across to each other. Orks are not very intelligent or clever, and they even label the use of strategy and fleeing from battle as 'un-Orky'.
The Ork way of life is as straightforward and brutal as the Orks themselves. Much like their approach to everything else, Orks do not waste time pondering why they do things, or how they might do them better. Instead they simply act, instinct and ability driving them on in a never-ending cycle of violence and conquest. Orks have their own distinct culture (or "kultur" as the Orks call it), the origins of which are lost in the dim and distant past. Though likely a corruption of whatever may have come before, by and large it functions very well. Perhaps this is because the fundamental tenet of their society is a simple one that even the most pea-brained Snotling can understand –- might makes right.
Orks instinctively obey those larger than themselves, provided they are a healthy shade of green -– most Orks would rather die than bow to a non-greenskin's will. The rulers of Ork society are the most powerful Orks of all, known as Warbosses or Warlords. These monstrous killing machines can reach up to ten feet in height, and their sheer muscular bulk makes them wider at the shoulder than a fully armoured Space Marine. Though some Warbosses rise to prominence through low cunning, most seize power through the application of brute force. A Warboss will hold dominion over all he surveys, and beat the living daylights out of anyone who says different. His decisions are enforced by a ruling caste of Orks known as Nobz, who are larger, richer and more aggressive than normal Orks, and never miss an opportunity to remind them of it.
The bulk of an Ork horde, which can be hundreds or even thousands strong, is comprised of great mobs of infantry that call themselves Boyz. Goff mobs in particular are famous for the sheer number of Boyz that they can field at war, often outnumbering their foes several times over. Orks tend to be lazy and forgetful, and only war and the preparations beforehand really bring out their innate talents. Though the bigger, meaner Ork Boyz will lord it over the smaller, ganglier ones, even a subservient Ork is of limited use when it comes to practical tasks that don't involve fighting. Most of the day-to-day running of Ork society is therefore left to the Gretchin, whose duties include preparing food, taking messages, hauling stuff about, general organisation and just being around the place when an Ork wants something to kick. This gives the Orks plenty of time to swagger about, getting into fights and coming up with new ways to kill things.
The Gretchin are happy enough in their role. They bear little resentment towards their superiors, for to them Orks are just a fact of life. Questioning this usually leads to a clip round the ear, and not much else. Individual Gretchin can enjoy a relatively comfortable existence by providing valuable services to their Ork masters. In fact the Gretchin have created an entire enterprise culture of their own within their Ork-dominated society, and many Gretchin operate their own black market businesses on the side, selling fungus beer, roasting squigs on sticks, coordinating the bets when a fight breaks out and then looting the resulting corpses.
If Orks were just single-minded killing machines they would be dangerous enough, but they would be unable to sustain the level of technology required to ply the stars. Gretchin, though obedient if beaten with sufficient regularity, are not inventive enough to maintain the weaponry that the Orks possess, nor to patch up casualties when the going gets tough. These highly technical demands are met by a caste of Orks known as Oddboyz. Although it may seem strange to humans, these "Oddboyz" all possess an innate understanding of their fields of expertise without having to be taught. A Mekboy knows how to create engines and generators even though he has never been taught to do so, and a Painboy instinctively knows which squirty tube connects to which wriggly bit when he is delving into some unfortunate patient's abdomen. If asked where this knowledge comes from an Oddboy might reply that it was in his blood all along. It seems possible that the abilities of Orks to build machines, practise medicine or even use psychic powers are passed down through Ork society on a primordial, biological level. No studies of the greenskins have ever successfully determined how this process works. Yet it seems most likely that the knowledge is hardwired into the very cellular make-up of the Orks, perhaps a legacy left to them by their legendary Brainboyz. However he comes by his latent knowledge, as an Ork matures it will start to make itself apparent, leading him to assume the role in Ork society for which he is best suited. Should he lack any specialist knowledge, the Ork will happily join the vast throng of Boyz at the heart of each tribe and content himself with a life of murder and mayhem. The following is a list of the most common Oddboyz found within Ork society:
- Doks - Painboyz, known also as "Mad Doks" or "Dok", are responsible for fixing injuries even the highly regenerative Ork physiology cannot repair, such as severed limbs and brain damage. They use "Stabby Bits" as their medical tools. An Ork will only go to a Painboy when he has no other choice, as these Oddboyz are infamous for trying out experimental procedures (such as the greatly feared Squig brain transplant) on patients while they are under anesthesia (known as a "concussion" to other intelligent races). Painboyz are responsible for attaching crude bionics to Ork patients that have been created by the Mekboyz, although sometimes they are not paying attention and replace the wrong part of the patient's body. This is often distressing to a patient who is the lucky recipient of an exploding leg, especially if it was his arm that needed attention. High-ranking Painboyz are called Painbosses and are known to be accompanied by Cybork bodyguards. Orks are surprisingly resilient and have had arms, legs and even heads swapped around and the Ork in question has survived to tell the tale! High-ranking Doks are known as "painbosses" and are known to be accompanied by cybork bodyguards.
- Herdas - Herdas are Oddboyz who are skilled Trappas and caretakers of Squigs. Common amongst clans of Wilboyz, Herdas are not seen much on the battlefield in warbands past the feral stage, as their uses are mostly rendered obsolete by the advent of vehicles.
- Mekboyz - Mekboyz, known also as a "Mekaniak" or simply, as a "Mek" is a type of Oddboy who serves as one of the engineers who build all the weapons, vehicles, and other advanced technology used by the Greenskins. Mekboyz are especially important to Ork Speed Freeks, as they maintain the prodigious amount of bikes and vehicles used by Ork warbands. The most important and skilled Mekboyz are known as "Big Meks," who lead groups of lesser Mekboyz armed with a wide variety of Greenskin kustom equipment and Kombi-Weapons, sometimes including even full warbands or whole WAAAGHs! armed with a large amount of less-than-conventional Ork weaponry. A Big Mek's mastery of technology is unsurpassed amongst the Orkoid races and a Big Mek is often seen generating a "Kustom Force Field" around himself that protects his person and his creations. A Big Mek who becomes the leader of a Greenskin WAAAGH! will be known as a "Mek-Boss." Important meks are known as "Big Meks", who lead groups of lesser meks armed with all variety of kustom equipment and Combi-weapons.
- Wildboyz - Though the majority of Orks will never venture far from their tribe, there are those strange few who are driven to explore, compelled to do so even in preference to fighting. Such pioneers will seek out the deepest jungles or most arid deserts, where most creatures would struggle to survive at all. Should they endure and multiply, it is common for these remote Ork tribes to degenerate into savages, sometimes known as Wildboyz. After a time, some of these groups will seek out and return to their parent warband. There they learn about Ork kultur and take their place in the warrior society, exchanging spear and axe for slugga and choppa. However, should the new tribe emerge on a world where their Ork ancestors have been driven off or slain, the Wildboyz will instead develop into a tribe of Feral Orks. At first, Feral Ork tribes pose little threat to the planet they infest. They are uncivilised, even by the low standards of their Ork brethren, and live by the old ways of hunting and exploring. As the tribe increases in size they breed ever-larger varieties of squig, riding around upon great tusked beasts that vary in size from that of a horse to that of a Baneblade. Through constant conflict and strife with one another, eventually, the Wildboy enclave will mature into a fully-fledged and technologically capable warband in its own right, only to spawn wandering Wildboyz of its own.
- Pigdoks - This unique class of Oddboy are an odd combination of a "Dok" and "Mek", although not as skilled as either individually. They often found in Feral Ork tribes, tending the Warboars that are ridden to battle by the primitives. Their main use in battle is to provide "doping" to increase the ferocity of the various beasts that Feral Orks take to war, as well as some of the Orks themselves.
- Runtherds - Runtherdz, also known as "Slaverz", who has the patience to take care of his clan or warband's Gretchin and Snotlings. Their characteristic weapons are whips, Grabba Stikks and Grot-Prods. They are often seen leading Gretchin mobs into the fray or ordering around the Gretchin crews of Big Gunz. They often make use of Squig-hounds to eat errant or fleeing Grots in battle to "increase" the morale of their Gretchin mob. They can also own slaves from every intelligent race in the galaxy except the Necrons.
- Speed Freeks - Speed Freeks are those Orks who who become addicted to the sensation of speed. These speed-obsessed Greenskins band together in their own mobs and warbands, which are full of buggies, bikes, and trukks. They belong to what Ork kultur refers to as the Kult of Speed and become members of the Speed Freeks. These grinning loons roar into battle on exhaust-belching jalopies and crude but effective flying machines, intent on getting into the thick of the fighting before their ground-pounding comrades. Most vehicles used by Speed Freeks are painted red as, according to Ork superstition, "Da red wunz go fasta!" Due to the large number of vehicles in each warband, they often have several of the Oddboyz known as Meks amongst their number to keep their vehicles running. Sometimes a warband of Speed Freeks is even led by a Big Mek instead of a Warboss.
- Weirdboyz - Weirdboyz are the Orks' psykers. One major difference between them and the psykers of other races is that Weirdboyz draw on the power of the WAAAGH! instead of the power of the Warp, a dangerous realm full of daemons, where the other intelligent races' psykers draw their powers. However, the Waaagh! has its own perils for Ork Weirdboyz: if they soak up too much of this power, their heads explode, causing a powerful psychic backlash that can cause other Orks' heads to explode as well. Naturally, Weirdboyz avoid combat as much as possible, but the ability to gout green flame capable of melting armour and shoot bolts of lightning is too great for most warbosses to resist, and they get dragged into combat anyway. Some Weirdboyz actually become addicted to the power and seek out battles; these exceptionally dangerous individuals are known as Warpheads.
- Other Oddboyz include Sumboyz (bankers), Yellerz (Ork priests of Gork and Mork), and Brewboyz (cooks), all of which have an important role in so-called Ork kultur (although not on the battlefield).
Madboyz are those Orks whose minds didn't develop quite right, or who have taken a chunk of shrapnel to the brain. Though they are physically identical to other Orks, the fact they wear outlandish garb and carry everything from rusty buckets to stuffed squigs into battle proves that they are very different in all sorts of entertaining ways. Madboyz often form informal retinues for Weirdboyz, and live apart from other Orks in small shanty towns. Mobs of Madboyz are considered to be lucky, their presence a sign of good fortune. However, this does entail a degree of inconvenience, such as when they decide to hold impromptu shouting contests in the middle of a night raid, or pelt the foe with a volley of stikkbomb pins before waiting expectantly for the loud bangs to start. The fact remains that Madboyz are a surprisingly potent asset on the battlefield, for their antics often confound the foe. Even the most gifted tactician cannot predict the anarchic movements of a mob of Madboyz caught up in the excitement of battle. After all, how can you second-guess an enemy who is as likely to tear apart an infantry platoon with their bare hands as they are to mill about picking snot-grubs out of each others' noses?
Orks are green-skinned and red-blooded, a side effect of their symbiotic physiological and genetic relationship with fungi. Orkoid physique itself is so robust that it can withstand tremendous punishment. They feel surprisingly little pain, even from the most grievous of wounds, enabling them to fight on whilst horrifically injured and even for a short while after being technically dead. It is most fortunate for the Orks that they can withstand such brutal physical punishment, since their Painboyz operate on a generally nineteenth-century level of surgical knowledge; unlike humans, though, Orks are quite capable of being beheaded, having the head sewn onto a different body, and surviving the experience to fight again. It is believed by some who study these brutes, albeit from afar, that this goes some way to explaining the greenskins' ultra-violent sense of humour. As pain and fear mean little to them, they are highly curious and amused by the reactions of their weaker foes as they hack them apart, the screams of terror contrasting with a deep throaty rumbling that, on occasion, could be mistaken for laughter from the Orks and their snickering brethren. The greenskin regenerative process itself is so powerful that an Ork who has been hacked to bits can simply be stitched back together, bewildered but ready to fight once more. Nothing but the most grievous wounds will put an Ork down for long, and burning them to ash is reputed to be the only way to make absolutely sure that they are gone for good.
A typical Ork stands around the same height as a man, though he would be much taller were he to stand up straight instead of being hunched over, as is his normal stance, and his frame is extremely muscular and solid. An Ork's arms are long and heavily thewed, knuckles almost scraping the floor as he lopes around, and his gnarled hands end in taloned fingers capable of tearing an enemy's throat out with ease. The skin of an Ork is green and leather-tough, and his body is dotted with scars, scabs, pockmarks and parasites. His skull is extremely thick, able to absorb impacts that would cave in a human head. His heavy brow shades blood-red eyes, afire with the need to kill. Jagged fangs jut from a heavy jaw that would not look out of place upon a far larger predator, and when an Ork speaks, it is in a slow, gruff tone thick with saliva and guttural curses. His words are sparse, brutal and straight to the point.
A particularly favored ingredient in their diet are Squigs, short for "Squiggly beasts"; a variety of symbiotic races about the size of a cat but legless. These include the "Eatin Squig", a limbless blob which feeds on fungus, the "Growler Squig", a legged variety used as a sheepdog for Gretchin (in third and fourth editions referred to as a "Squighound" and available as an item of wargear), the "Attack Squig" a powerfully voracious little beast available as an item of wargear, and the "Face-eater Squig", a ferociously toothed variety used both as a weapon and for entries in face-eating contests. (The Ork and the Squig both open their mouths and bite, in a parody of a kiss. If the Ork eats the Squig, he wins. If he keels over backwards, he loses.) There is also a larger sub-species of Squig, called a "squiggoth" that ranges in size from about that of an elephant to a 60-plus-foot monstrosity capable of stomping buildings into rubble. Squiggoths are used as pack animals and in combat as the carriers of mobile fortresses.
Orks grow all through their lives; the effect is particularly notable in successful Orks. As the Ork survives combats and wins trophies, the respect of other Orks will produce in him an effect somewhat similar to adolescence in the human male: He puts on muscle, becomes more aggressive and assertive, and generally throws his weight around. If he wins the ensuing challenges to single combat, he may become a Nob, a leader or chieftain of Orks, noticeably larger and tougher than the average Greenskin. Once he begins to grow, an Ork will generally keep getting bigger and stronger until he is beaten by a bigger or more cunning Ork. Warbosses and Warlords, the rulers of continents and Orkoid empires respectively, are very large Orks indeed. Flash Gitz however are a special elite type of Ork typically armed with Big Shootas. Flash Gitz are obsessed with polishing their guns and these Orks are much larger than an average Ork. They are likely Nobs who have gathered into a group.
Orks actually consist of two symbiotic organisms that have been genetically linked by their original creators: one comparable to a terrestrial animal and the other to an algae or fungus living within the former's bloodstream and skin. An Ork's animal cells carry the genetic information of only the individual's Orkoid subspecies, but the alga has genetic information for all the varieties of Orkoid, as well as the different Oddboyz, and it helps to heal wounds by providing greater biochemical energy supplies when necessary. Ork biology lends itself well to combat: they are extraordinarily strong and tough and are naturally good fighters, always looking for a scrap.
There are two theories relating to why Orks have this unique, hybrid biology. The first is that they were adapted by their masters the Snotlings, a race that soared to intelligence upon eating a particular species of mushroom, spread across the galaxy with the help of their less intelligent Ork slaves, and were then deemed stupid again when the Orks consumed all traces of the mushroom which only grew on their home planet. The more modern belief is that they are the Krork, created as a warrior race by the Old Ones (referred to in Ork legend as the Brain Boyz) in their wars against the Necrontyr and the C'tan. The fact that an entire ecosystem can be constructed of Orkoids, and their total war-readiness, suggests that this is the more likely of the two Ork origin theories. In early forms of this theory developed by the Imperial Magos Biologis, the Brain Boyz were actually an Orkoid subspecies, along with the Orks and the Gretchin, but they are now believed by most Imperial experts to be the reptilian Old Ones who also created other psychic species like the Eldar and the Jokaero.
The Brain Boyz apparently became extinct for unknown reasons during the course of the War in Heaven, but before they passed on, they genetically engineered the Orks' DNA to include a "techno-gene". This gene develops in Orks as they grow, influencing their minds and releasing genetically encoded knowledge; in a similar way that a human baby will reflexively hold its breath under water or a horse can walk half an hour after being born, an Ork's techno gene gives it information on how to fight, operate weapons, and speak the Orky language. Ork specialists, such as Mekboyz and Painboyz, are the mechanics and surgeons of Ork society, and receive their knowledge through these techno genes. It seems this was a deliberate measure to ensure that the Orkoid race would survive in an incredibly hostile universe.
Theories abound that Orks harbour the genetic traits of both animal and fungal life forms, and that it is this unusual biology that gives an Ork his remarkable constitution. Orks' green colouration could be explained, scholars suggest, due to some form of algae that permeates their cellular makeup. Such a substance could break down and repair damaged tissue at an incredible rate, accounting in part for the Orks' extremely durable metabolism. Those observers of other races who maintain this theory point to the fact that an Ork's head can live for some time after being completely severed from the body. Indeed, operations to reattach these are a staple of many a Painboy's repertoire (staple being the operative word!).
Yet for all the questions that hang over the greenskin race, what cannot be disputed is its relentlessly bloodthirsty nature. An invasion by Orks has been likened to an incurable disease by the Imperium's scholars. Once a world or system has faced attack by the greenskins once, it will be ravaged by them time and again until it finally withers and dies. Even as a world's defenders are celebrating their first victory over the Ork invaders, new tribes of greenskins will be multiplying in the dark and shadowed corners of the victorious world. At the same time, Ork survivors will carry word with them through the void, spreading the tale of how good a fight a particular world put up. Keen to have a go themselves, fresh waves of Orks will soon descend upon the horrified defenders, often before the damage from the previous Ork incursion has been put straight. These attacks will increase in severity, wave after wave of greenskins from space now supplemented by the tribes that have risen up from the world's wilderness. The planet's populace will be overrun one stronghold at a time, drowning in a rising tide of roaring, battle-mad greenskins.
The harder a planet's defenders fight back, the worse their predicament will become. Every Ork slain makes way for two of its bellowing brethren, while every attack wave the defenders bloodily repulse just draws more enthusiastic greenskins down on their heads. In this way some worlds can become the unintentional focus of a Waaagh!, the Orks' numbers and frenzy reaching critical mass as they fling themselves against the world's defences time and again. Eventually the pressure from Ork invaders both within and without becomes insupportable, leaving the defenders only two choices: stand and fight, dying to the last in the process, or flee with whatever they can salvage, leaving their stricken world to the Orks.
Orks have not only survived, they have prospered and are more numerous than even the myriad trillions of individuals who comprise humanity. This is due in part to how they reproduce; Orks release fungal spores, which grow into a plant-like womb underground that nourishes the bodies of the various Orkoid species. This is the entire basis of the Orkoid ecosystem, producing first Squigs, then Snotlings who cultivate the Squigs and the fungus they feed on, then Gretchin to build the settlements, and finally the Orks themselves. This means the Orks, wherever they go, will have an abundance of food, slaves and other resources, a moving Orkoid ecosystem that supports them as they go on their Waaaghs!
This also makes it extremely difficult to rid a planet of Orks, even if the initial invasion is defeated. Orks release spores throughout their lives, but release them massively at the moment of death. Without a nearby population of Orks, the fungus will eventually start the Orkoid life cycle anew. Decades after weathering an Ork Waaagh! settlements on a planet can find themselves faced with an unexpected attack from feral Ork tribes coming out of the wilderness. The only way to effectively remove all of the Orks on a planet is a planetary Exterminatus.
Although they possess a similar physiology to the Orks, Gretchin are not as strong or as tough as their larger brethren. To compensate for this the Gretchin possess an abundance of low cunning. Commonly known as grots, Gretchin are even more numerous than Orks. They scurry around the larger greenskins on scrawny legs, and their grasping fingers snatch and steal from the unwary. Gretchin have large, bulbous heads and wide tattered ears that flatten against their bald pates when they are afraid (which is most of the time). Sharp fangs fill their jaws, ever ready to be sunk into the flesh of the weak or infirm, and malice gleams in their eyes whenever there is an opportunity for violence.
The grots' large and protruberant noses give them an excellent sense of smell, their ears afford them a similarly advanced sense of hearing, and their eyesight is acute even in the dark. These traits, combined with a heightened instinct for self-preservation, mean that Gretchin can not only survive but even thrive in a society dominated by vicious predators. Some grots have their survival instinct honed to such a degree that they may possess a rudimentary sixth sense, or are naturally far more fortunate than they have any right to be. The grots improve their chances of survival further by exhibiting a fawning and obsequious nature to their Ork masters. Though braver Gretchin will pull faces and make rude gestures behind the backs of the bigger greenskins, few are stupid enough to risk doing so openly. Grots are fast learners and quick to spot an opportunity, meaning that many wind up as assistants or servants to more important Orks like Mekboyz or Nobz. Others will simply attempt to stay out of the Orks' way, whole groups of grots fashioning hideouts amid scrap piles or warrens of tunnels too constricted for Orks to squeeze their bulk down. When the time comes to go to war, the grots will be flushed out of these hidey-holes en masse by the gnashing squig hounds of the Runtherds, or a few enthusiastic Burna Boyz.
On his own, a single Gretchin poses little threat to a human-sized adversary. However, if there is one quality the grots have in abundance, it is quantity. On the field of battle the Gretchin advance in great mobs, firing volleys of scavenged ammunition from their poor-quality weapons. They then dive upon the fallen and tear them apart in their scrabbling haste to loot the corpses. Even the most accomplished enemy warriors have found their arrogance punctured when cornered by an entire mob of shrieking grots. They can prove especially dangerous during naval boarding actions, for while their Ork masters tie up a ship's defenders in furious point-blank battles, the wily grots will avoid such bloody fighting like the plague. Instead, knots of Gretchin squirm through air-ducts, sabotage or loot vital machine-components, and overwhelm triage stations full of helpless, wounded combatants. When grots wreck a ship's void shield generatorum, or burst from the ducts to overrun a vital chokepoint mid-battle, the foe learn to respect these nasty little greenskins in a hurry.
In the Gorkamorka supplementary setting, it was revealed that Snotlings are actually young Gretchin. The Gretchin originally were used in swarms as in Warhammer Fantasy and could even be fired out of a Shokk attack gun, but vanished from 41st Millennium battlefields with the advent of the 3rd Edition of the game. However, it is worth noting that the game Dawn of War, which is part of Warhammer 40,000 official continuity, features Gretchins as base builder/scout units.
Snotlings, or "snots", look like tiny, immature Gretchin. Their scrawny limbs are too small to bear weapons larger or more complicated than shards of broken glass or chunks of scrap. Lacking the violent tendencies of their larger kin, they make for very poor soldiers indeed, and are predominantly kept as little more than pets for their Ork masters, although they make excellent ammunition for the strange weapon the Orks call the shokk attack gun. Nonetheless the snots do perform a valuable function in Ork society. Snotlings cultivate the great patches of the fungi that spring up around Ork settlements. In this way the Snotlings provide food, drink and medicine for the rest of the greenskin race. Snotlings also look after the ferocious squiggly beasts that live in the Ork cesspits (known to the Orks as "the drops"). Their natural affinity with these life forms is far greater than that of other greenskins. Helpfully, this means that in a day only a few dozen Snotling attendants will be devoured alive by their ravenous charges. The Snotling populations that spring up around Ork settlements are monitored and cultivated by a caste of Orks known as Runtherds. These grizzled and merciless slavers use a variety of methods to bully their charges into a state of anxious obedience, not least of which are the much feared grot-prod and the ferocious squig hound.
Squigs, or squiggly beasts, are an integral part of the mobile and incredibly aggressive greenskin ecosystem. The squigs eat the refuse of the Orks (not to mention local plants, animals and quite often each other) and the Orks eat the squigs. There are many forms of squig and each variety incorporates many subtypes. Mekboyz squeeze viscous black lubricant from the snouts of oil squigs to keep gears and gubbinz working. Painboyz use mending squigs to stitch wounds shut or suture limbs back in place. Eating squigs, parasite hunting squigs, bag squigs, even rare and bizarre sets of musical squigpipes, all have their uses. Yet perhaps the most infamous squigs are the ravenous face-biters, which the Orks use in the same way humans might use attack dogs. Little more than a snapping, drooling mouth on legs, these ferocious beasties are a sign of status and many an Ork Warlord keeps a pet facebiter squig that dines upon those who have fallen out of favour with him. Other equally sharp-toothed squigs grow and breed in the sprawling cesspits of the Ork settlements, lending an air of unpredictability and excitement to even the briefest trip to the drops.
- "The Orks are the pinnacle of creation. For them, the great struggle is won. They have evolved a society which knows no stress or angst. Who are we to judge them? We Eldar who have failed, or the humans, on the road to ruin in their turn? And why? Because we sought answers to questions that an Ork wouldn't even bother to ask! We see a culture that is strong and despise it as crude."
- — Uthan the Perverse, Eldar Philosopher
Orks have but one philosophy: might makes right. They believe that the weak must suffer the rule of the strong. Over the countless millennia in which the greenskins have waged their wars, not one Ork has ever doubted this for a single moment. This unshakeable self-belief is perhaps the most dangerous quality of the Orks, for they will never give up until they plunge the galaxy into an eternal war. The Orks rule their barbaric civilization with an iron fist. Ugly and violent creatures, they are the dominant life form of a race that includes the smaller Gretchin and Snotling sub-species. Orks see themselves as the toughest race in the galaxy, mightier by far than humans, Eldar or Tau. To prove their point, the Orks are more than willing to fight and kill everything that crosses their path.
One of the greatest strengths the Orks possess is the simplicity with which they approach their existence. For an Ork, the universe is an incredibly straightforward place, free of the angst and worry that plagues most other races. Orks don't try to influence their own destiny and get frustrated when plans don't work out as expected. They don't look for something to blame (except perhaps the nearest Gretchin or a hated rival tribe) and certainly do not reflect on weaknesses in their own way of doing things. They just try again a different way, usually because they have forgotten how they did it the last time. Thus the Orks make remarkable progress by trial and error, without counting the cost. Meanwhile other races steeped in high-flown philosophy fall into the same traps time and again, doomed to stagnate and decline, unless of course they are first conquered by the Orks.
So long as the average Ork has someone to fight, someone bigger than him to tell him who to kill next, and someone smaller than him to beat up, he will know contentment. Orks don't tend to go hungry as they can eat virtually anything, even grots, Snotlings or one another at a pinch. Greenskins have no concept of cannibalism or the moral outrage that accompanies it, as it is only natural that the bigger Orks should live at the cost of those weaker than themselves. With war and killing as their only real motivators, most Orks have little interest in gathering material wealth or luxuries. The one exception to this is a desire to possess ever bigger and louder weapons and vehicles. An Ork will go to almost any lengths to get his hands on a louder shoota or faster buggy. He will obsess over its acquisition until the exact moment he has it, at which point his eye will stray to something even bigger...
The Ork language is written in a form of glyphic script. The core of the script is composed of glyphs that indicate clan, tribe, common Ork concepts and elements of Ork names. This is augmented by phonetic symbols which can be used to write most Ork words, along with any alien names or words.
Barbaric and savage, the Greenskins spread across the galaxy like a viridian stain. They plague the battlefields of the 41st Millennium in great numbers, overruning any who stand before them in a torrent of bloodshed and usually mindless violence. An Ork Waaagh! is war on an apocalyptic scale. Orks beyond counting swarm from one world to the next. Whole civilisations are exterminated and defenders' armies laid to waste as the Orks plough ever onward in an unstoppable tide. Orks need battle just as humans need food and drink. Due to their warlike nature, they constantly fight amongst themselves, or launch piratical raids upon nearby enemies. Such conflicts tend to be small-scale or localised. They never really develop beyond random outbursts of violence and looting. However, Ork populations can reach a critical mass that leads to a full-scale planetary migration. This is known as a WAAAGH!, a crusade of pure aggression that crashes through star systems in an orgy of violence.
Ork behavior is dominated by the WAAAGH!, a gestalt psychic field they generate that affects the Ork psyche, which allows Orks to instinctively recognize who is "bigga", and therefore who is in charge, since might makes right in Ork society. All Orks generate this field, and it grows stronger as the Orks enjoy themselves, generally while fighting, and as more of them congregate together in one geographical area. The WAAAGH! helps give momentum to the Orks' planetary assault campaigns, which are also known as WAAAGHs! (the Orks like to call a lot of things WAAAGH!s). Such a WAAAGH! is a cross between a holy crusade and a pub crawl, with a bit of genocide thrown in for good measure. Thousands of Orks will gather together, drawn to the power of a single dominant Ork called a Warboss or Warlord if the WAAAAGH! is particularly massive, who is bigger and more intelligent than the Orks around him. Then the Orks will set off to find an enemy to fight and defeat. Ork WAAAGHs! will sweep whole planetary systems away and destroy armies and fleets in tides of bloodlust and carnage, and only once the Orks have killed every available enemy will they start to fight amongst themselves again.
The Imperium of Man's Tech-priests have theorized that this gestalt psychic field also has a telekinetic or quantum probabilistic effect, allowing the seemingly ramshackle and poorly designed Ork technology to work as the Greenskins expect. It is believed that the reason this hypothesis came into existence is that the Imperium adopted the Adeptus Mechanicus' religious belief that aspects of a universal "Machine Spirit" inhabits all technology, and that this Machine Spirit serves Mankind at the command of the Machine God. If this is the case, without a Machine Spirit, Ork machines could not work, requiring some psychic cause to justify their often devastating effect. Furthermore, Mechanicus Genetor Lukas Anzion has noted that many Ork-built weapons will not function at all unless wielded by an Orkoid, possibly supporting this hypothesis.
Gathering the WAAAGH!
A Waaagh! usually starts small, even as small as a single Ork visited by dreams of carnage. He will hammer his dreams of conquest into his subordinates, and then lead them in attacks against other Ork warbands. With each victory, the new Warboss' legend grows, and more followers flock to his blood-soaked banner. As he fights to retain command of his ever-growing horde against a constant stream of challengers, he will subsume the armies of those he conquers into his own tribe, and as news of his prowess spreads ever further, the trickle of reinforcements becomes a green flood. Drawn in by the Warboss' reputation, Ork Meks will start to collaborate on more and more outlandish projects as the Waaagh! grows, building even larger war machines and guns. Smoke belching mobile fortresses and titanic engines of battle are cobbled together out of nothing more than scrap metal and heavy-handed enthusiasm. Gorkanauts and Morkanauts appear in growing numbers, their pilots seeking out the Waaagh! with a feverish intensity. Whole mobs of Mekboyz raise towering scaffolds within which Stompas and even Gargants start to take shape, these mighty effigies igniting some primitive drive within the minds of the Orks who see them, causing the flow of Waaagh! energy they subconciously generate to reach fever pitch.
At this stage there is still much rivalry between the various clans and tribes, and each will strive to outdo all the others in terms of the sheer destruction that can be wrought by its war machines. Those Meks without the resources to construct Stompas and Gargants will instead create mobs of clanking Killa Kans and Deff Dreads, or Battlewagons from which the Warbosses can lead their armies to war. Soon the emergent Waaagh! begins to span worlds instead of just continents. Entire native populations are forced into slavery merely to manufacture ammunition for the horde's guns. Crude factory-ships and war hulks are bashed into shape, the better to transport the Ork armies into battle. When the lure of imminent bloodshed can be resisted no more, the deadly fervour washing through the horde overflows. Teeming Ork armies mass and swell with a roar like savage oceans, and the skies fill with crude and bulky Ork space-faring vessels.
The grand musters that precede a full-scale Ork invasion are an awe-inspiring sight. As the Orks gather for battle, smoke from thousands of oily engines fills the sky. The ground trembles beneath great wheels, tracks and the thunderous strides of towering Gargants. Armies of greenskins stretch across the horizon, raising their banners high to proclaim their reputations and allegiances, their warcries audible for miles around. Looming Gorkanauts and Morkanauts, bizarre artillery pieces and force field generators chug, clank and buzz amidst the green throng. Armadas of rusty vehicles raise roiling thunderheads of dust into the atmosphere, whilst Dakkajets roar overhead leaving contrails of filthy smoke. Speed Freeks rev their engines, and the Boyz fire their guns into the air as a carpet of Gretchin spreads out in front of the army. Eventually, the battlefield is barely visible beneath the endless sea of green, each Ork warrior certain that the ground will soon be stained red. Here the power of the Waaagh! is palpable as a wave of raw aggression, and the Orks believe Gork and Mork are gazing eagerly down from the Warp to see how their warriors will fare. Then as one, with an almighty bellow, the Orks surge forwards, and another world is plunged into unending war.
The Great Waaagh!
It is generally thought within the Imperium that over the last century or so, the Orks have become even more aggressive and warlike than ever before, and the numbers of Waaaghs! being recorded in all five Segmentums is increasing. The Imperium has long theorised that the greenskin race possesses low-level background psychic abilities, a kind of gestalt Warp resonance. Orks, of course, neither know nor care about such things. Yet as Warp space becomes more turbulent, so the Orks too are becoming ever more belligerent. This rise in new Waaaghs! has been most notable around Warp space anomalies and regions plagued by Warp storms, with hundreds of greenskin invasion forces emerging from these areas every year.
Members of the Inquisition's Ordo Xenos have noticed a trend in the translations of glyph-sequences found in Ork camps, which speak increasingly of "da call of da gods", a phenomenon felt most keenly by the nomadic Gorkanaut and Morkanaut pilots. The emergence of Weirdboyz seems to be increasing exponentially also, with many claiming that they see visions sent by Gork and Mork. On thousands of worlds the ominous silhouettes of Gargants rise against the war-torn skies. The Orks' foes can only watch in horrified bewilderment as the phenomenon known as the Great Waaagh! sees the greenskins flooding across the galaxy in numbers never before witnessed, slaughtering everything in their path as they go.
Orks gather into various levels of organization. The first is the mob, a squad-level unit of Orks with similar ideas of how to act on the battlefield, generally led by a Nob (short for "noble," but pronounced "knob"). A number of mobs will gather together into a warband, which is roughly equivalent to an Imperial Guard company (although with a greater variation in size and strength), led by a warboss. The largest Ork organizational unit is the tribe or the klan, a group of numerous warbands all under the command of a Warboss. Different tribes can be united by a powerful Warboss known as a Warlord when he raises a WAAAGH!!
The Orks are a powerful force in the universe. A highly prolific race, they are able to expand and prosper effortlessly in comparison to the other civilisations who struggle even for simple survival. The Ork character traits have a reflection in the Warp just like the impulses and emotions of Humanity and the Eldar. These traits are made manifest in the belligerent Ork gods known as Gork and Mork. The Orks say that Gork is brutal but kunnin', and Mork is kunnin' but brutal. Gork and Mork are divine powerhouses, deities so strong they are never truly defeated. They simply shrug off the attacks of other gods with a raucous laugh. Gork grins, bares his long teeth, and lands a mighty blow on his adversary's head with a spiked club the size of a comet. Mork, always the sneaky one, waits until his foe isn't looking before clobbering him with a low blow. An idea of the appearance of the Ork gods can be gained from looking at Ork Gargants and Stompas, mighty war machines constructed in the image of Gork (or possibly Mork). The Mekboyz create these titanic engines of war to reflect the essence of Orkiness in mechanical form, and as such they serve as potent religious idols. To the Orks, these clanking behemoths behave very much like their gods, lumbering about and leaving a trail of devastation in their wake. They go where they please, and never shun a fight.
The aspects of Gork and Mork are likewise evoked by the Gorkanaut and Morkanaut. These huge armoured war suits are intended as a tribute to and imitation of their chosen god all in one, and their pilots are frequently gripped by visions of Gork (or possibly Mork) urging them on during the heat of battle. As the apocalyptic designs of the Chaos Gods approach fruition, the immaterial realm is roused to ever greater fury. So it is that Gork and Mork fight all the harder against the daemonic tides washing about their feet. The Ork gods' joyful battle-lust echoes into the material universe, their roars clearer to the greenskins with every passing day. The Weirdboyz claim that Gork and Mork are calling all their children to the last mighty battle, for the Great Waaagh!, the everlasting war, is upon them.
The priesthood of these gods has no in-game representation, although the infamous Goffs Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka claims to be receiving visions from both. Also, there has been some mention of Yellerz (the Ork version of a priest) although they are not seen in-game. In earlier versions a third god, Bork, appeared, but has since been dropped. Orks generally tend to distinguish between Gork and Mork as one being mean, and the other being cunning. Some religious divisions lie in determining who is meaner; another factor preventing Orks from being united. It is doubtful if the distinction between Gork and Mork means anything in Ork culture, as long as it allows them to bash something. Perhaps Gork and Mork are actually one god.
Orks use their teeth -- or rather, their teef -- as currency. This is quite a natural solution to inflation and income support, as Orks go through teeth in a similar manner to sharks, replacing them quite frequently, and Ork teeth do degrade over time, so it is impossible to hoard them. This keeps prices constant, ensures all Orks have at least some access to money, and allows constant values to be placed on commodities. A toof will buy a good Squig pie and a tankard of fungus beer, while a bag of teef will buy a cheap buggy. A big flashy battlewagon could cost a warboss hundreds of teef. This system also promotes aggression, as all an Ork needs to make more money is to knock teef out of another Ork's head and then collect them for himself.
Tribes & Clans
The Orks are an incredibly anarchic race. Their armies and settlements seem utterly disorganised to outside eyes. Yet in truth Ork society is governed by a rugged set of tried and tested traditions that no greenskin would ever consider changing. Orks thrive on conflict. The strongest rise to the top while the weak become subservient and benefit from the superior leadership and headkicking skills of their conquerors. To an Ork this state of affairs is perfectly satisfactory. If an Ork tribe is beaten by another, stronger tribe, the defeated Orks welcome the opportunity to be led into battle by a new Warlord of even greater power. A tribe is simply all the Orks in a given location, regardless of what kult or clan they may belong to, because in the end an Ork is an Ork and they will always put aside their differences if there is an opportunity to attack a common foe. Each tribe is led by a Warlord whose authority and power holds this loose confederation in check and prevents civil war between the rival elements of the tribe. Tribes can vary in size from a few hundred Orks to a few million, depending on the influence of the war leader at the top of the pile.
Because a Warlord cannot be everywhere at once, the tribes are split into warbands that in turn are led by factional leaders called Warbosses. Each Warboss leads a warband of a hundred or so Orks, forming a rough and ready army that is capable of taking on almost any foe. Most warbands have a hard core of Ork infantry at their heart, but beyond this they vary enormously from one to the next. Like-minded Orks tend to cluster together, leading to warbands crammed with mechanised Speed Freeks or pyromaniac Burna Boyz. The Warboss' preferences can also dictate how their warband looks and fights, some favouring masses of charging Boyz and hulking Nobz, while others prefer to ride to battle aboard columns of ragged armoured vehicles, or packing batteries of massive shootas and artillery.
Although all Orks belong to a tribe, most also belong to clans such as the Goffs or Evil Sunz. Tribes are constantly breaking apart and reforming in the crucible of battle, but the clans are constant and enduring. A large tribe usually contains many different clans, and each clan has its own distinct character and identity. There are six clans in particular that have spread from one side of the galaxy to the other: the Goffs, the Snakebites, the Bad Moons, the Blood Axes, the Deathskulls and the Evil Sunz. Most warbands will contain representatives of at least one of these clans, each of which has distinct cultural preferences, traits and strengths:
The Bad Moons are the richest Orks around, because their teef grow faster than anyone else's. The other klanz do not mind this, because they figure that if they want more money, they can always knock a Bad Moon Ork over the head and take his teeth. This is not regarded as an unfair advantage, as any Ork big and nasty enough can simply smash the teeth out of a Bad Moon's head. The Bad Moons essentially fulfill the role of a merchant caste in what passes for Ork society, and have a reputation for showing off. They are always continuously buying, selling, swapping, and conning to get teeth. The highest ranking amongst them wear garishly decorated war banners on their backs and the richest openly flaunt their wealth by wearing necklaces of teef. They trade with other Orks to get the biggest gunz, the flashiest wargear, and the best food, but are not as concerned with close combat as other Orks. They have been noted to have a greater proportion of Weirdboyz in their ranks than other clans who use their wealth to dress flamboyantly. Unfortunately for them, they end up being dragged off to battle and used against the enemy like any other weapon. The signature mob of the Bad Moons are the Flash Gitz: Orks with devastating kustom Shootas. Kaptin Badrukk, the infamous Ork Freebooter, is a Bad Moon and was kicked out of the klan for having too many teef for his own good. Bad Moons love gold more than any other metal, and will commonly sport a couple of glinting teef in their avaricious grins. They favour strikingly patterned golden yellow and black for their wargear. Their armour and wargear is painted with gaudy patterns in the klan colours and they have more jewelry and piercings than any other klan. The Bad Moons Klan take a snarling moon on a field of flames as their klan sigil.
The Blood Axes were the first to encounter the Imperium of Man. They have picked up many human tactics, such as using camouflage (although it may seem a bit too brightly colored to a human's eye) and retreating when they are losing ("It don't count as losing, cuz we can also come back for anuvver go, see?"). Indeed, when they do retreat, Blood Axes will in fact return with larger numbers. They trade with humans for wargear and vehicles, and have even worked as mercenaries for the Imperium at times (such as during the Massacre at Big Toof River). All of these things lead followers of other klanz to brand them as dangerously treacherous, cowardly, and downright un-Orky! Most Blood Axes are back-stabbing "Kommandoz", essentially serving as Ork special operations troops. Blood Axes wear combat fatigues and forage caps in shades of green and drab colours, commonly in camouflage patterns. This betrays the influence of Imperial military style, as do the other personal adornments commonly worn by Orks of this clan. The Blood-Axes bear the klan motif of crossed, bloodied axes.
The Death Skulls are looters and plunderers who grab whatever they can from corpses on the battlefield, although they are not above "acquiring" things from other Orks who are not watching. They collect anything that might be useful, as well as grisly trophies and various lucky trinkets and charms. They are superstitious even for Orks, and often paint themselves and their wargear blue (which Orks feel is a lucky colour) to protect themselves from harm. It is not uncommon to find looted Imperial vehicles in Death Skull armies, such as Chimeras and Rhinos. When dealing with the Death Skulls, many other Ork klans will often find a few of their vehicles missing as well, and then suspiciously similar ones reappearing painted blue amid the ranks of the Death Skulls' vehicle pool. The symbol of the Death Skulls is the horned skull.They also use skulls, other intelligent races' teef as luck charms and have more Gretchin than most Ork tribes as they are used to scout for (and occasionally make off with) valuables.
The Evil Sunz are an Ork tribe or klan who are dedicated to speed and making as loud a noise as possible when in combat. Just as the Goffs klan loves violence and aggression, so the Evil Sunz love speed. The Evil Sunz have adopted the general Ork maxim that "Red 'uns go faster" as their klan motto. Evil Sunz prize fast vehicles like Ork Warbikes, Warbuggies and Trukks on which their Boyz can ride to battle. To assist their highly-mobile warbands, the Evil Sunz possess a larger population than normal of Mekboyz to keep those vehicles tuned and running. By far the largest number of Ork Speed Freeks come from the Evil Sunz klan. An Ork's love of speed can easily affect his brain, to the point where an Ork becomes addicted to the thrill of a wild ride into battle. Beyond even a Speed Freak's delirium there are also Flyboyz, whose need for speed has driven them into the air in search of ever greater thrills, piloting the Ork's Fightas and Fighta-Bommerz. Members of this klan wear at least one item of red clothing at all times, which makes their appearance quite distinctive. Red is a hard colour for Orks to come by as few of their regular enemies have red uniforms to loot and rip up, and most red dye is used for red paint. The use of red face paint is another expression of this klan's obsession with the colour red. Once again, they resort to the use of blood when the red paint runs out. Evil Sunz are distinguished by their use of bright colours, especially red and yellow. They like flame patterns and many sport goggles and driving gloves, whether they are driving a vehicle or not. The Evil Sunz are also found as an Orc tribe of the same name on the Warhammer World of Warhammer Fantasy.
The Goffs are the toughest and most brutal Orks to be found in the galaxy, roughly equivalent to elite Warhammer Fantasy Black Orcs. The Goffs are the biggest, meanest and most brutish of all their kind, and that's saying something since they are Orks. Of all the Ork klanz, the Goffs are the most inspired by the thrill and thunder of battle. Goffs will take any excuse to start a brawl, even amongst themselves. As a result, the Goffs are specialists in hand-to-hand combat who prefer their battles up-close and personal. They are particularly fond of the Stikkbomb, because these Ork grenades are hurled by hand and are good for close combat in trenches, ruins, bunkers and ratholes. Goffs usually carry a brace of hefty Stikkbombz stuffed down their black jackboots. Goff armies are notorious for the sheer number of Ork infantry they muster in times of war. A mob of Goff Boyz is usually at least twenty strong, and a true Goff horde has a hundred times that number at its heart. When the Goffs go to war, the ground shakes to the incessant thump of thousands of steel-capped boots. The Goffs boast the greatest numbers of Nobz and Stormboyz amongst any of the Greenskin klanz. This is because the Goffs are the most militaristic of all the Orks. All Orks love war and combat, and wage war as a way of life, but of the Goffs it can truly be said that they live only for war. Goffs dress mostly in black, with some white checks for relief, as they see bright colors as being un-Orky. Their symbol is the black bull's head, and Goff Nobz almost always wear big horns on their helmets. Ghazghkull Thraka is a member of the Goff klan.
The Snakebites prefer ancient Orky tradition to advanced technology, shunning things like forcefields and armoured vehicles in favour of protecting themselves with war paint and riding into battle on huge boars wielding spearz and choppas. Depending on how fundamentalist their anti-technology beliefs are, the Snakebites may choose to remain as Feral Orks even after their civilisation possesses the technical knowledge required to advance to an industrial state. Orks of this klan are covered in swirling red tattoos, like coiled snakes. They are also known to cultivate Hair Squigs so they can decorate themselves with extravagant crests and topknots. Other common features are wolfskin headgear and wolf pelts, which add to their wild and primitive appearance. One of this klan's most distinctive elements of dress is their snake belts, which are fastened with metal buckles in the form of a snake. The totem of this clan is the venomous serpent. This klan's whelps are toughened by allowing venomous snakes to bite them, hence the name "Snakebites" given to them by the other klanz, which they adopted for their own.
The Rok Claw Clan
The Rok Claw clan is a minor clan of Feral Orks later led by the Warboss Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter. They first appeared in Dawn of War - Soulstorm. They live on the world of Kaurava II and use Rok Claw Mountain as their main fortress city. They launched a number of campaigns against Imperial worlds such as Lorn V and Kronus but were driven back by the forces of the Imperium of Man.
Ork Freebooterz are notorious pirates and thieves, plying the void in smoking, sparking ships with the intent of causing as much mayhem and destruction as possible. They prey upon anyone foolish enough to stray into their hunting grounds, screaming out of the dark on plumes of fire to blast apart their foes. When an enemy vessel is crippled or foolishly tries to surrender, the Freebooterz will smash their way on board, killing anything that moves and stealing anything that doesn't. The Freebooterz will then haul their booty back to their hidden bases and count their ill-gotten gains.
When a Warboss wants to invade a planet, he calls on fleets of Freebooterz to see off enemy ships and clear the way for the Orks to get down to the surface. For this service Freebooterz claim exorbitant scavenging rights as well as a fortune in teef, and a Warboss has little choice but to pay up if he wants their help, as Freebooterz that don't get their price often simply vanish into the void in search of more loot. Even if a Freebooter's terms are met, he might still get distracted by better prospects, the lure of easy plunder enough to sway most kaptins. Whether they fight alongside a Waaagh! or tear around the void raiding planets and stealing ships, Freebooterz often become disgustingly rich, leading many to become Flash Gitz.
Ork Freebooterz are by no means always Flash Gitz, but all Flash Gitz eventually end up as Freebooterz. Arrogant and boorish, a Nob who fancies himself a Flash Git will normally alienate himself in short order from the rest of his tribe. Whether because of his grating self-aggrandisement, eating the local Big Mek's favourite grot oiler without permission, or committing the cardinal sin of strutting about with a bigger, shinier shoota than the Warboss, a Flash Git will normally find himself ejected from his tribe. When a whole band of Nobz get ideas above their place in the order of things within the tribe all at once, it can lead to bloody infighting. This will usually end up with the departure – at gunpoint or otherwise –- of a whole mob of newly freebootin' Flash Gitz.
However they find their way into this new situation, Flash Git mobs will quickly take to the Freebooter life. Fighting as mercenaries allows successful Gitz to accumulate vast sums of wealth in a short space of time. Even better, they can gleefully spend it all on themselves without a Warboss around to take his cut. With teef galore flowing into their coffers, successful mobs of Flash Gitz will soon be riding through the void in their very own Kill Kroozer while wielding the kind of firearms that Deathskulls Lootas can only dream of stealing. They bedeck themselves with natty finery, even their grot minions get stuffed into gold-buttoned frock coats and brag loudly of their masters' wealth. Flash Gitz also sport profusions of piercings, furs, glyph-plates, brightly coloured pirate garb and extravagant hats. All of this showy nonsense does absolutely nothing though to hide the hulking, muscular bulk and bestial lethality of the Flash Gitz themselves.
Ork technology appears ramshackle and slapped-together (it often is), but is as potent as any weapons used by the Imperium or other races. Ork technology (or "teknologee") is characterised by a constant stream of poorly thought-out experimentation and attempts to constantly outdo the competition to build the biggest gun, the largest gargant (a huge land-based walker), or the fastest buggy, and also mainly by the fact that in many cases the only reason it works at all is because of the Orks' minor psychic powers. This means that if enough Orks think it will work, it usually will. Many a Techmarine has opened an Ork slugga to find it to just be a box with bolts and bits of metal in it. Therefore, Ork technology is not uniform, lending Ork warbands a cobbled-together, slapdash and random appearance. Ork mechanics ("Mekboyz") are specialists in the field of producing powerful force fields that can protect against damage, and battlefield repairs. They can salvage almost any burnt-out wreck, and many Ork vehicles have been reported destroyed dozens of times, only to be cobbled back together, given a fresh lick of paint (if even that), and sent back into the fray. The tough, resilient nature of Orks means they accept crude bionics, transplants, and other medical shenanigans being performed on them with ease. Some Orks build inventions that fly for airborne bombardment, which they call Fighta Bommas, while some Orks loot vehicles from their enemies.
Ork weapons include Sluggas, Choppas, Burnas (Ork Flamers), and Kombi-weapons like Shoota/Skorcha,Shoota/Rokkit Launcha and the twin-linked Shoota.They also make use of Stikbomz, which are crude Ork grenades. However, due to the highly experimental and competitive nature of Ork technology, some weapons and wargear they have created are as effective and deadly as they are unique and random. Prime examples are the Shokk Attack Gun (a gun built by an experienced (read 'lucky-to-be-alive') Mekboy, called a Big Mek, which creates a tunnel through the Warp itself, (which the Ork have put to good use by firing Snotlings, and occasionally the Big Mek firing the gun, at the enemy), the downright dangerous Dethkoptas (crude helicopters, fitted with oversized weapons, blades and bombs and piloted by renegade Speed Freeks for whom the ground is a bit tame) and the shoulder-mounted Deffguns (created when an Ork approaches a Mek with some of the enemy's guns he found on the battlefield, and asks the Mek to "make dem mor killy")
Ork "kultur" was originally intended as a long-running joke, and has given birth to several concepts widely recognised among Warhammer 40,000 gamers. For example, most long-time Warhammer 40,000 hobbyists have a collection of assorted metal pieces, additional weapons, and parts left over from modelling projects, which they keep around in the expectation that they may be useful in future scratch-built models. Games Workshop encourages this practice by giving prizes for the best gamer-built models at their annual Golden Demon Awards, and by including a choice of weapons or optional parts in their own models. This has become known as a "bitz box", from the Ork spelling of where a Mekboy keeps his stock of reserve parts. Similarly it is a well-known fact among gamers that "Red wunz go fasta," from the Ork belief that this is so. Finally, there is a general Ork stereotype, portrayed by hunching the head down between the shoulders, showing off one's teeth, and "talkin' like dis, ya understand ya stupid Grot!" in a faux Cockney English accent. Shouts of "WAAAGH, da Orks!" "Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go!" or even chants of "Dakka" can often be heard at Warhammer 40,000 tournaments, particularly when an Ork player is doing well, but also as a sort of general rallying cry for the entire hobby. The Imperial battle cry of "Kill the Mutants. Burn the Heretics. Purge the unclean," does not seem to have the same appeal, although the Khornate Berserkers' cry of "Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!", etc., has enjoyed similar success in recent years, but not such popularity.
Orks first appeared in the 1st Edition Rogue Trader rulebook and the Space Orks boxed set, containing thirty plastic miniatures. Some Games Workshop designers claim that Ork culture and military tactics are loosely based on that of the ancient Irish Celts. These Orks were squat, powerfully muscled humanoids, wielding crude ballistic weaponry (usually blackpowder or other explosive projectile-based kinetic weapons) and large "stikbomz" or stick grenades; along with their helmets and other paraphernalia, these are apparently modeled on Imperial German equipment from World War I.
As the Warhammer 40,000 game evolved, some of the clunkier (if more flavor-filled) rules regarding Orks were dropped, though their culture remained much the same. For example, 'Ere we Go contains several pages of rules for mobs of Madboyz, Orks whom even other Orks consider maladjusted. (It should be noted that an average Ork would be considered dangerously aggressive to the point of insanity in a human society). The Madboyz change their behavior unpredictably according to dice rolls whenever conditions change, for example, when an enemy unit charges into combat with them. A roll is first made to determine which subset of behavior is going to apply, such as "Skitzo" and "Manik", then another roll is made to see how this overall insanity manifests. The results vary from charging the closest enemy, with bonuses to their combat attributes ("WAARGH! Dat makes me mad!") to phobic avoidance of all vehicles, even ones on their own side ("Urr! Keep dem wurrin' teknikol bitz away!") Whilst often very amusing, this was highly time-consuming, and dropped in the later editions of the game, which were streamlined for combat.
In their current incarnation, Orks are very much a close-combat-optimized species, their weapons having short range and low accuracy - though this can sometimes be made up by sheer numbers. Orks are quite cheap in terms of in-game points, that is, it is possible to build a very large army, colloquially known as a "sea of green" or "green tide" from the skin color of the Orks. This is often necessary, since the effectiveness of an individual Ork at any but the shortest range is small, and the Ork commander must be prepared to absorb considerable casualties in his effort to close in for axe ("choppa") work. This is in contrast to their earlier editions, where the large number of fun, but inaccurate weapons and special rules could easily make them rather unfocused, a jack-of-all-trades army, but master of none. Some have accused the Games Workshop designers of regarding the Orks more as comic relief than as a serious army, and being more concerned with the flavor than the effect of weapons designed for them. If so, they have reined in their imaginations considerably where Orks are concerned, drawing the race more into line with the overall gritty feel of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
- Wargame Tactics for Orks A site with Orks Tactics
- Codex Imperialis (1st Edition), pg. 50
- Codex: Orks (7th Edition)
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition)
- Codex: Orks (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Orks (2nd Edition)
- Digganob (3rd Edition)
- 'Ere We Go!: Orks in Warhammer 40,000 (1st Edition)
- Gorkamorka: Da Uvver Book (2nd Edition)
- Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 363-371
- Only War: Enemies of the Imperium (RPG), pp. 33-66
- The Red Waaagh! (7th Edition Supplement)
- Rogue Trader: Into the Storm (Rulebook)
- Waaagh! Ghazghkull - A Codex: Orks Supplement (7th Edition)
- Waaargh!: The Orks (1st Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 169, 200-203
- Xenology by Simon Spurrier, pp. 41-42