- "'Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go!"
- — Common Ork chant heard during a Greenskin WAAAAGH!
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.
Other castes include Painboyz (or Mad Doks) who heal Orks wounded in battle and Runtherdz (later renamed "Slaverz") who direct the efforts of the small, Goblin-like Orkoids called Gretchin. There also exist more specialized Ork castes such as Diggaboyz and Brewerz; however, the Imperium currently possesses no information on them other than their bare existence; it may be assumed that when the Orks go to war, these castes fight as an ordinary mob of Shoota-armed Boyz.
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'.
Orks are born to Feral Ork enclaves as Wildboyz. They are then recruited into warbands and fight for a while with primitive weapons such as spears, before being recruited into a Boyz Mob and being given their first Shoota. If they survive the ensuing ten or twenty years of warfare, they become overwhelmed with the urge to go off "lookin' fer sumfink" and wander back to their enclaves to breed, developing sexual characteristics on the way. In newer editions, however, adult Orks are constantly giving off fungus-like spores which lie in the ground of worlds they invade or settle, often for years, waiting to develop into Orks or Gretchin. Thus a world invaded by Orks will be troubled by them for hundreds of years to come, even if the original assault is beaten off.
Ork weaponry is built by the Mekboyz or Mekaniaks, as well as being captured from enemies or delivered as tribute. It is intentionally portrayed as being rather Rube-Goldberg-ish, often steam-driven and with clunky, early-industrial age driving belts and extraneous bells, whistles, and gongs. It is often based on teleporter and force-field technology, which the robust Ork physiology can use more easily than humans; a weapon found in Ere We Go, for instance, is the Snotling Teleport Gun. Snotlings are a tiny, Orkoid race even smaller than Gretchin and less bright than Orks, thus they are not usually of much use in combat. When sent through a warp tunnel to appear inside an enemy vehicle or power suit, however, they are a terrifying experience, because the teleportation goes through the demonic realm known as the Warp, scaring the Snotlings out of their minds and their first instinct after experiencing such terror is to slash whatever appears in front of them. When they arrive at their destination in realspace, they are a biting, scratching mass of flatulent fury. The Teleport Gun suffered from severe inaccuracy, but could be quite effective when it did hit. However, the rules for it were very complex, and it was removed from later editions. The "Shokk Attack Gun", as it is now called, is available in the new Ork Codex.
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.
Orks are green-skinned and red-blooded, a side effect of their symbiotic physiological and genetic relationship with fungi. Orks are genetically engineered for combat, and quite efficiently so. They are extremely strong, and their squat bodies can withstand immense punishment. This is fortunate since the 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.
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.
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.
The Gretchin are the Orks' slaves. Small, grasping, green creatures with the overall demeanor of a whipped dog, Gretchin are at the wrong end of everything, including the food chain. Gretchin are used to clear minefields, distract the enemy in combat, and assist Oddboyz. They are overall similar to the Warhammer Fantasy Goblins. In Gorkamorka, 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.
More unusual are the Squigs. Squigs are animals that share the same general algae-based biology of the Orks and Gretchin, and are used as food, clothing, hair, and even weapons, being trained as guard Squigs and attack Squigs. A very rare breed are the Squiggoths, which are massive animals often used as beasts of burden, but also used in war where the Orks strap huge fortresses on them. It was ultimately revealed that Squigs were the result of Tyranid manipulation of Orkish gene-matter. Orks discovered the first Squigs aboard a Tyranid bio-ship and subconsciously recognized them as being "Orky", subsequently taking the little creatures home. Squigs then spread throughout Ork space. This backstory neatly explained how Squigs could appear in both Ork and Tyranid armies. Since then, Tyranid Squigs have been seen in Ripper Swarms.
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. And that's the way they like it!
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!
First and foremost amongst all of the Orkoid instincts is the literal need for an Ork to wage war. Orks need war just as a human or Eldar needs food and water and over the long millennia of their existence the Greenskins have become very, very good at it. Due to their inherently aggressive nature, Orks constantly fight amongst themselves to prove who is the strongest, sharpening their in-born warrior skills and weeding out the weak, though this process usually poses little threat to the larger galaxy. However, Ork populations can reach a form of critical mass that can unleash a full-scale interstellar migration of Greenskins. This violent migration and the planetary assaults that result from it is what Imperial savants refer to as a WAAAGH!, a crusade of pure aggression that crashes through multiple star systems in an absolute orgy of fury and violence.
A WAAAGH! usually starts small, perhaps even as small as a single Ork, who is visited by the Orkoid deities Gork and Mork with dreams of great carnage. He will impart this vision to others of his kind through repeated blows to the head, or, if he is of a more intellectual bent, he will build a great Ork war machine like a Gargant that is the very image of his savage Gods. Rumours of the coming WAAAGH! will spread through the local Orkoid society and the Orks begin to unite. New warbands join the growing throng with every passing day. An Ork Warboss will fight his way to the top of the hierarchy of this growing Greenskin horde and earn the status of a Warlord, adding the armies of those clanz he conquers to his own horde. As news of his new position spreads, the trickle of Ork reinforcements will grow into a green flood. Ork Meks will begin to collaborate on more and more outlandish projects, building ever larger war machines and weapons for the WAAAGH! Smoke-belching mobile fortresses and titanic war engines are cobbled together out of nothing more than heaps of scrap metal and the always heavy-handed enthusiasm of the Greenskins, another side-effect of the growing gestalt psychic energy of a WAAAGH!
Whilst these masterworks of destruction take form, even more Greenskins are drawn towards the horde by the impending promise of these massive war engines' use and the exciting carnage they will reap. Most of the Ork Boyz of the horde simply relish the chance to get into a really good fight. But those amongst their number who dream of becoming part of a truly awesome vista of destruction often choose the roles of crewmen and gunners on mobile Battle Fortresses and Stompas. There is always a great deal of continued rivalry between the clanz and tribes of a WAAAGH! and each strives to outdo all the others in the sheer "killyness" of their war machines. Those Meks without the resources to construct towering Stompas or Gargants, the Ork equivalents of Imperial Titans, instead create mobs of Killa Kans and Ork Dreadnoughts, banding their creations together to form armies of mechanical savages that dwarf the mobs they march beside in size and power. Others build the fleets of Fightas, Fighta-Bommerz and Bommerz that are laden with gunz and bombs that will assault their foes from the air once the battle begins.
Those Greenskins that do not aid in the construction of the WAAAGH!'s war machines seek out like-minded fellow Orks who fight in the manner that most appeals to them. The Orks call these groups Kults, of which the vehicle-obsessed Kult of Speed is the most widespread and well-recognized in the Imperium, though by no means the only Kult that exists in Ork society. The Stormboyz and Flash Gitz also represent Kults, while those Orks who are unusually sensitive to the growing pool of gestalt psychic energy surrounding a gathering WAAAGH! may become Madboyz. Hundreds of other Ork Warbosses will add their own armies to the cause of a new WAAAGH! as the Greenskin assault begins to spread across whole star systems rather than just a single world. Entire native planetary populations are forced into slavery to their new Greenskin masters to manufacture ammunition for the horde's guns and other materiel that the WAAAGH! requires. Crude factory-ships and war hulks are bashed together to produce further transports for the horde, while a truly large WAAAGH! may ultimately infest a Space Hulk to move from world to world or even hollow out asteroids and create the massive spaceborne Ork fortresses known as Roks. When the lure of battle can no longer be resisted, the WAAAGH!'s savagery reaches a fever pitch that can no longer be contained save by the spilling of blood in vast quantities.
The Orks who launch a WAAAGH! generally have little in the way of a coherent combat doctrine like the other major intelligent species of the galaxy. Their only goal is destruction and mayhem in as large a quantity as they can muster. The Orks are a plague upon the other civilisations of the universe, a race of genetically-engineered bioweapons whose true purpose was lost eons ago but who still carry on the fight -- against anyone, at anytime -- for no reason other than their own joy in destruction and slaughter. Once an Ork WAAAGH! has gathered, with one almighty bellow to the heavens from millions of Ork throats, another world will be plunged into unending war beneath a surging greenskinned tide.
Although a standard Ork boy's genetically-encoded knowledge allows him to keep his weapons in working order, there is always a need for specialists who can do things that most Greenskins cannot. These "Oddboyz" develop instinctive knowledge useful for specific tasks.
- Doks (also known as "Painboyz") are responsible for fixing injuries that even the Ork physiology can't repair, such as severed limbs and brain damage. An Ork will only go to the Dok 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). Doks are responsible for attaching bioniks, although sometimes they aren't paying attention and replace the wrong part of the patient's body. High-ranking Doks are known as "painbosses" and are known to be accompanied by cybork bodyguards.
- Herdas are the Oddboyz who take care of Squigs. They are not much seen on the battlefield in warbands past the feral stage, as their uses are mostly rendered obsolete by the advent of vehicles.
- Mekboyz (also known as "Mekaniaks" or just "Meks") are Ork engineers, who build all the gunz, vehicles, and other machines used by Orks. They are especially important to Speed Freeks. Important meks are known as "Big Meks", who lead groups of lesser meks armed with all variety of kustom equipment and Combi-weapons.
- Pigdoks are an odd combination of Dok and Mek, although not as skilled as either individually. They are 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 are the Orks who have the patience to take care of Gretchin and other slaves. Their trademark weapons are the whip and grabba stikk. They can also own slaves from every intelligent race in the galaxy except the Necrons.
- Speed Freeks are those Orks who become addicted to the need to go "real fast." 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 known amongst other Greenskins as Speed Freeks. Most vehicles used by Speed Freeks are painted red as, according to Ork superstition, "Da red wunz go fasta!" Speed Freeks rely on Mekboyz to build and maintain their vehicles, and sometimes a warband of Speed Freeks is even led by a Big Mek instead of a Warboss.
- 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).
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!!
Orks believe in two major gods -- Gork, who is brutally kunnin', and Mork, who is kunninly brutal, the subtle distinction being that one hits you when you're not looking at him, and the other hits you hard when you are. There is a different mythology sometimes portrayed in which Gork and Mork are the gods of Defense and Attack. Orks can't agree which god plays which role, and debate about this topic, which often erupts into fighting (Although generally Gork is considered the more brutal by players of Warhammer 40,000, and Mork the more cunning, possibly due to their roles in gorkamorka, in which a gork was better at fighting, and a mork better at driving). The priesthood of these gods has no in-game representation, although the infamous Goff 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 meaner. 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.
Ork klanz are not true, separate ethnic communities or tribes as amongst humans but rather philosophical delineations of the different varieties of Ork. Each has its own colours, markings, and ways of waging war. Orks tend to form warbands with others who follow the beliefs of the same klan, but different groups tend to be lumped together after suffering casualties during a WAAAGH! There are six klanz which tend to cover the entire spectrum of Ork lifestyles and behaviours quite well according to the Ordo Xenos' savants, though more are always waiting to be discovered amongst the teeming masses of Greenskins in the galaxy:
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 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 joke, and has given birth to several concepts widely recognised among Warhammer gamers. For example, most long-time Warhammer 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!" and "Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go!" 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.
- Wargame Tactics for Orks A site with Orks Tactics
- Codex Imperialis (1st Edition), pg. 50
- Digganob (3rd Edition)
- 'Ere We Go!: Orks in Warhammer 40,000 (1st Edition)
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition)
- Codex: Orks (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Orks (2nd Edition)
- Gorkamorka: Da Uvver Book (2nd Edition)
- Rogue Trader: Into the Storm (Rulebook)
- Waaargh!: The Orks (1st Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 169, 200-203