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A Runtherd (pl. Runtherdz), also known as a Slaver, is an Ork Oddboy 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.
The average Ork, from the youngest Boy to the strongest Warboss, is a brutish and direct creature, who interprets the slightest resistance to his desires as a challenge to his authority, and such challenges are quickly and brutally answered. Orks constantly compete and fight amongst themselves, and they frequently kill those weaker than themselves to assert dominance, or simply for the fun of it. The life expectancy of Gretchin and Snotlings would be minimal amongst a tribe of Orks, were it not for their natural cunning and the presence of the Ork Boyz known as Runtherdz.
Runtherdz are Ork Oddboyz who exhibit a trait extremely uncommon amongst Orks: patience. Only they have the right mindset to "care" about their smaller Orkoid cousins, the Gretchins and Snotlings, and the patience to perform the task of training them to be more efficient at their tasks. Where the average Ork only yells his orders, and beat his underlings if the orders are not fulfilled to his liking, a Runtherd has a more "reasonable" approach of carrot-and-stick treatment. He explains to those under his care what is expected of them, and those that perform efficiently are rewarded, while only those that perform poorly are beaten. The simplest and most menial tasks are undertaken by the tiny Snotlings. Snotlings are not particularly easy to train because they are slow learners and need to be slowly and carefully conditioned to perform even the most simple tricks. Runtherds train Snotlings to cultivate fungus and tend Squigs and take extraordinary pride in their tiny charges.
The Runtherdz make a good living by selling well-trained Gretchin and Snotling servants and workers to other Orks. Runtherdz often become quite wealthy and naturally invest their earned teef (teeth, the Ork currency) in solid weaponry and other wargear. On the battlefield they tend to either fight alongside the machines crewed by their Gretchin where they can keep a close eye on things, or lead a large mob of Gretchins forward, using the smaller Orkoids as diversion, living shields or living mine detectors for the other bands of Boyz.
Most Runtherdz also exhibit curiosity, especially for the other sentient races of the galaxy. Where the average Ork Boy only sees a non-Ork as either a challenge or a nuisance to be killed in either case, the Runtherdz sees a non-Ork as a challenge to be mastered. When an Ork mob goes to war, the Runtherdz will claim the surviving enemies as their spoils, and start training them as slaves. A Runtherd sees barriers of language and behaviour as a challenge to his skill for control and command rather than to his authority, and will apply his skills to boosting the production of his hapless charges just as he would with a group of uncooperative Gretchin. Successful Runtherdz can handle Humans, Squats, Tau and most other sentient races of the galaxy (with the exception of Tyranids and Necrons), eventually learning enough of their language, mannerisms and culture to ensure his slaves are always working at peak efficiency.
Runtherdz can easily be identified by the tools of their trade: they often wear an assortment of whips, chains and manacles to capture fresh slaves, as well as a Grabba Stikk. This is a long pole outfitted with a pulley-operated maw-like pincer, with which they can either grab and restrain a being, or throttle it if it proves too resistant to their control to be useful. Some Runtherdz favour the use of a Grot-Prod instead, an imitation of the human electrical cattle-prod, albeit much larger. These can be used to motivate, incapacitate or even kill, depending on the voltage. Runtherdz also often train a pack of Squig-hounds to keep an eye on their Gretchins and motivate them, by setting an example and having the Squig-hound gobble up one of the Gretchins if necessary.
- Zodgrod Wortsnagga - Zodstrog Wortsnagga is an infamous Ork Runtherd who was perhaps the greatest Runtherd in Ork history before being expelled from the Warboss Ugulhard Duffgruntas' Chargerz, an extremely fundamentalist band of Snakebites who rabidly rejected the use of advanced technology. After the expulsion, Zodgrod travelled the galaxy and learned several ancient Orkoid techniques to create enhanced Gretchin who were possessed of more aggression, intelligence and sheer ferocity than any of their counterparts, which he named "Supa-Runtz." Zodgrod is now hired by Ork Warbosses and Warlords who are particularly desperate to make use of his Supa-Runtz in battle.
- Codex: Orks (2nd Edition), pg. 68
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition), pg. 50
- Gorkamorka (Specialist Game), pp. 36-58
- Rogue Trader: Into the Storm (RPG), pp. 142-146