- "Wot, dis? Naw, I've had this fer ages. Of course the paint's still wet, it's me favourite. Sell it to ya if ya like. One careful owner."
- — 'Fingaz' Rutzeg, Deathskull Loota
The Deathskulls, or Death Skulls, are an Ork "klan" that has an unsavoury reputation as inveterate looters, scavengers, borrowers, and scroungers. The Orks of the Deathskull klan have a well-deserved reputation as thieves and filchers. Never ones to pay their fair share or spend teef when an item can be spirited away with a modicum of effort, the Deathskulls are nearly as mistrusted among fellow Orks as their cousins the Blood Axes.
Whereas the notoriety of the Blood Axes is completely without merit, the Deathskulls deserve their scabrous reputations to an Ork. When not looting bodies on the battlefield (both Ork and non-Ork), they can be found either fighting or bickering among themselves for scavenged items, or stealing everything that is not nailed down from one another and any other Ork in sight.
Some of what they steal they trade or sell to other Orks, or turn into upgraded wargear, but the majority of their loot they simply hoard. Anything "'dat might come in 'andy lata" is put aside and kept in one or more hidey holes, from useful items like weapons and armour to trinkets, lucky charms, and strange gubbins of unknown use or provenance.
- "Oi, wot's 'dis, 'den? A whole pack a 'umie shootaz just lyin' 'ere in 'da dust wit' no one usin' 'em? 'Dat's a shame, 'dat is. 'Ere, 'elp me move 'dese bodies so's we can give 'dese shootas a proppa home."
- — Bilesnik Litefinga, Deathskull Loota
The Deathskulls are plunderers without equal. They are tremendously adept at looting, borrowing, scrounging, scavenging, and stealing things from their fellow Orks, and notoriously bad at giving them back. Given their ingenuity, most Deathskulls would make capable scientists and excellent engineers if their fascination for new things lasted longer than the time it took to steal them.
The Deathskulls see battle as a two-stage process, often hurrying the killing part in an effort to speed along the scavenging spree that follows. After the battle the Boyz really go to work, feverishly stripping the corpses of the fallen of everything from ammunition to bootlaces. Many Deathskulls will take grisly trophies such as their victim's scalp or skull into the bargain. Only when the loot is returned to the camp does the inevitable infighting break out, as the Deathskulls trade, barter and auction off their ill-gotten gains.
Other Orks drawn to Deathskulls camps in search of these stolen goods –- looking for a specific bit of kit or even something taken from them in the first place -– usually leave with less than they came with, as the Deathskulls have the uncanny ability to knock another Ork around the head while going through his pockets at the same time.
Deathskulls do not limit their pillaging to enemy corpses, and anything that can be taken probably will be. Wrecked vehicles are especially popular for this, and the burnt-out hulls of battle tanks, armoured transports or even flyers are all fair game. Dragged off the battlefield, they can either be broken down for bits or taken to a Mek, who will beat some life back into them. It is not a rare occurrence to see an Ork armoured column composed not only of Trukks and Battlewagons, but of looted Leman Russ tanks, Rhino armoured personnel carriers and Predator tanks, and other esoteric armoured fighting vehicles with numerous Orkish "improvements" bolted on and slathered in barbarous paint schemes and iconography. In longer engagements, Baneblades, the remains of heavy Eldar gravity tanks, and even the occasional Titan has been seen wearing the horned skull of the Deathskulls. Only the Evil Sunz enjoy using fighting vehicles more than the Deathskulls, who love modifying vehicles and stealing the great war machines of all and sundry when possible.
More than one foe has been horrified to see one of their own vehicles turned against them, Deathskulls yelling insults from the turrets of their looted vehicle as it rumbles across the battlefield. Once they have stolen something, they personalise it to establish ownership once and for all. This often involves painting it blue, the colour which they believe attracts the eye of their Gods and protects them from harm. The superstitious Deathskulls even use blue warpaint, sometimes going so far as to paint themselves blue from head to toe the night before battle. They believe the colour blue is lucky and that it attracts the attention and favour of the Ork Gods Gork and Mork, and thus brings them better fortune on the fields of plunder.
Given the Deathskulls' broad definition of what constitutes personal property, it is little wonder that their klan produce an inordinate number of Lootas, and Lootas from other klanz are welcomed with open arms by the Deathskulls as brothers in arms. In fact, most Orks see Deathskulls and Lootas as one and the same –- both a bunch of thieving gits one would do well to keep a constant eye on. Lootas are compulsive scavengers who also have a weakness for large guns. They seek out the biggest and best weapons they can carry, often getting Meks to cobble them together into even bigger guns, so heavy that they have to balance them on their meaty shoulders. These "Deffguns", as they are dubbed, are among the deadliest weapons an Ork can wield, and in battle they make a tremendous racket as they tear apart the enemy with bullets, blasts and bolts.
The Deathskulls' knack for knowing the value of junk and what (if any) use it might be, combined with a natural technical aptitude, would make the Deathskulls the pre-eminent engineers of the Orkish race if not for their drastically short attention span, which typically extends only as long as it takes to steal an item. Despite their flighty, scheming nature, the Deathskulls do turn out an inordinate number of Mekboyz from their ranks, as their obsession with an object typically expires the moment it is within their possession. Indeed, Meks hold a place of high status among the klan, as it is these canny Orks who bodge together copious amounts of scrap and gubbins into the deadly weapons, tanks, buggies, and other assorted wargear with which the Deathskulls are so enamoured. While they can create anything imaginable from the junk brought to them by their brethren, Deathskull Meks are perhaps best known for the incredibly dangerous Ork Kombi-weapons they create from the piles of mismatched weapons they tend to have lying around their workshops.
The Deathskulls are also known to have lots of clever and enterprising Gretchin. As battlefield plunderers and petty camp pilferers, they often get themselves a bad name among the other klanz for selling dodgy gear that is not good enough for the Deathskulls to keep for themselves.
- WAAAGH! Planetsmasha (977.M41) - Deathskulls Big Mek Fragrak da Planetsmasha vows he will surpass all other Deathskulls by looting an entire world, jerry-rigging a combination of traktor beams, ramships and city-sized rokkit boosters to push the third moon of Taurabrax out of its orbit, directly onto a collision course with its parent world. The resultant catastrophe renders all life on the thriving Imperial Hive World extinct, fracturing continents, boiling the oceans off into space and burning away the world's atmosphere, finally reducing Taurabrax to a drifting debris field. Satisfied with his work, Big Mek Planetsmasha takes his pick of the choicest of these asteroids, adding thrusters, forcefields and ordnance arrays to turn them into a fleet of Roks with which to spread even more mayhem across the star system.
- Arch-Maniac of Calverna - The Arch-Maniac of Calverna rose to power after conquering the Imperial Forge World of Magnos Majoris, the iron heart of the Calverna System. The wily old Deathskulls Warlord then cemented his power for good by having himself wired into the almighty central processing engine of the Forge World, turning himself into the biggest Cybork ever seen. Though this rather drastic step has left the Arch-Maniac all but invincible, the vast data-streams pouring into his tiny brain have also driven him quite mad. So it is that, while the Orks of the Calvernan Empire are numerous and well-equipped with tanks and guns, their attacks are random and display little in the way of logic or cogent strategy.
- Fragrak da Planetsmasha - A notable Big Mek of the Deathskulls who vowed to surpass all other Deathskulls by looting an entire world. Displaying his klan's typical Ork ingenuity, his WAAAGH! managed to push the third moon of Taurabrax out of its orbit, causing it to collide with its parent world. Rendering that Hive World uninhabitable, Planetsmasha then takes his pick of drifting debris from the remnants of Taurabrax, turning it into a fleet of Roks.
- Bokk Stickyfinga - A rich Deathskulls Nob who pilots the Gorkanaut known as Blagfist. He stole the war machine purely as a way to ensure he had his pick of the best loot. Not a week goes past without Blagfist being equipped with even more firepower, looted from the remains of another blasted battlefield. Indeed, so successful a thief is Bokk –- an outcast from the Charadon empire –- that he refers to himself as the "arch-larcenist" of Charadon. Most of his comrades don't get the gag, of course, but this never stops old Bokk from having a chuckle. This jocular personality is set aside in battle, however, for Stickyfinga takes his fighting very seriously. The old Deathskull might have swiped Blagfist as a means to an end, but he has since become quite attached to his armoured steed. Indeed, he takes any damage to the mighty walker as a serious personal insult, focussing his anger on those who dare fire upon him. Needless to say, between the Gorkanaut's vast firepower and trampling mass, few foes live to make this same mistake twice.
- Gorgrok Killfist - Gorgrok Killfist was a powerful Warlord of the Deathskulls klan and the leader of WAAAGH! Killfist which nearly conquered the Knight World of Adrastapol during the Second Ork War.
- "Grabber" Gutzbag - A legendary Loota who was so good at habitually liberating vehicles from the enemy it was said he could even loot an Imperial Titan and later unleash it on its former comrades. It is seen as the height of comedy for the Death Skulls to use looted vehicles and equipment against their former owners, causing utter chaos within their ranks.
- Grotsnik- Grotsnik, also called Mad Dok Grotsnik, was a typical Ork Painboy obsessed with the performance of "surjery" and rooting around in other people's heads to see what he could find -- or alter. He rose to prominence when he became the personal Dok of the future Ork Warlord Ghazghkull Thraka and Ghazghkull gave him credit for opening up his mind to the messages of the Ork Gods Gork and Mork that subsequently led Ghazghkull to lead the two greatest Ork WAAAGH!s in recent history during the Second and Third Wars for Armageddon.
- Nabrot Stub-fingers - Renowned among the Deathskulls of Octarius for his kleptomania, the saying goes that if Nabrot can't loot it, it ain't worth stealing. This is something the Ork has proved time and again, making off with piles of teef, shiny weapons and poorly guarded vehicles. Nabrot's mob goes into battle with many of the larger things he has nicked, such as battle tanks and big guns, all festooned with the mob's glyphs and painted in his favoured colours. He pinches other stuff just because it amuses him on some level, like the statue of the Emperor from the spire of the Illuminous Cathedral on Tobin's Rest. The Sisters of Battle defending that Shrine World vowed unending vengeance against the invaders after Nabrot drove into battle with the crudely defaced statue lashed upside down to the front of his wagon. The most impressive thing Nabrot ever looted was the Baneblade super-heavy tank known as Gork's Other Foot. When the Overfiend of Octarius turned his blood-red eyes on the Forge World of Kernak III, Nabrot and his Deathskulls followed the Warboss into battle. The Cadian defenders reeled before the Ork assault, their lines holding only thanks to the guns of several Baneblades. Nabrot immediately decided he had to have one for himself. Leading a small force of Deathskulls, Nabrot found a way through the vast sewer complex of Kernak and into its heavily defended factorums. Whilst his Boyz caused a destructive distraction, Nabrot stole a Baneblade and blasted his way back to the Ork lines. He dubbed the tank Gork's Foot, saying it was so it could give the enemy a good kicking. This lasted until it was pointed out by another Ork that the Overfiend of Octarius' Gargant was called Gork's Foot, to which Nabrot replied, "Well then, this is his other foot."
- Raddak Bluefinga - A renowned Deathskulls Warboss who served in Warlord Grukk Face-rippa's Red WAAAGH!, during its rampage through the Sanctus Reach Sub-sector. The Deathskulls are a superstitious lot, and none more so than Raddak Bluefinga. A shortage of blue pigment saw him fight without his warpaint upon the Obsidian Glaives Space Marine Chapter's homeworld of Obstiria, and he lost his arm in the first hour. Since then he has been covered in "lucky" blue paint, and demands the same of his followers. The Deathskulls enjoy pillaging a good pile of scrap every bit as much as they enjoy killing the previous owners. Upon landing on the Knight World of Alaric Prime, however, their rust-ship was ravaged by gunfire. The reservoir of blue paint that they had brought to slap on their bodies and any bits of metal that came their way ended up gushing out of bullet holes like blood spilt by a fallen herd creature. Many of the Deathskulls tried to stem the leaks with their own arms and even their bodies, but the damage had been done, and most of the lucky paint was lost. This was considered by all to be a bad omen. Craving blue-hued metal for their fighting machines, the Deathskulls singled out the cobalt Knight walkers of House Terryn, but their foes would not fall easily. Grots were dispatched to filch blue-barrelled big guns from Da Kannon Krew, steal bits of armour from Da Mekanobs and even pinch blue scrap from Da Wheel Steelaz. The Deathskulls were soon kitted out well enough, but when the other klanz recognised bits of their old vehicles with hastily scrawled-out insignia, fist-fights were not far behind. For a large part of the fighting on Alaric Prime, the Deathskulls had to defend themselves against attacks from their own kind as well as from the human forces –- a clear sign, Raddak Bluefinga grunted, of the bad omen unfolding.
Deathskulls are superstitious and covetous in the extreme, and believe that various talismans and charms allow them to manipulate their fate upon the battlefield. Deathskulls often possess unexpected weapons, vehicles, and war machines that they have looted, and the sudden appearance of a particularly potent piece of machinery can sometimes turn the tide of a battle. Whether this is part of a clever ruse or mere good fortune brought on by their copious use of blue pigments, as the Deathskulls seem to think, depends entirely on the perspective of the viewer.
Deathskulls sometimes try to pilfer weapons, machinery, and other loot, even in the midst of battle. They might sometimes even attempt to steal a particularly interesting vehicle or weapon without destroying it. Deathskull squads are often accompanied by Weirdboyz, whose odd psychic abilities bolster their natural close-combat prowess further.
Deathskull livery is dark blue and black with white highlights. Incredibly superstitious, even more so than the adrenaline junkies of the Evil Sunz, the Deathskulls consider blue to be a lucky colour that protects from harm and misfortune. Everything possessed by the Deathskulls, from arms, armour, and vehicles to mundane workaday gear, is slathered in numerous shades of blue in an attempt to court fate. They even paint their proud green skin in shades of blue to ward off attacks, accidents, wounds, and illness. Like every other strange idea espoused by Orkkind, or confounding piece of equipment carried about their persons, painting an item Ork blue does seem to have an effect. The Deathskulls are much luckier than other Orks, and their equipment operates demonstrably better.
Skulls and bones feature prominently among their personal adornments. For instance, helmets are often cast or fashioned in the form of a grinning skull. Deathskull Orks are commonly seen festooned with bone amulets of every kind: pendants, talismans, and cherished bits of long-dead enemies. Such things hold power for the Death Skull klan. Some Deathskull warriors wear dozens of enemy ribs laced together to form a kind of breastplate. They often appear in bizarre styles of dress, the spoils of their battlefield plunder of the fallen to augment their own wargear. This results in a rag-tag appearance of various items of armour and coloured clothing, made up of various races' uniforms sewn together.
The Deathskulls klan banner is a bone-coloured horned skull on a midnight blue flag with white accents. The pole upon which they hoist their colours is typically made of the lashed-together skulls and bones of their enemies. The Deathskulls clan sigil is added onto anything its Boyz have stolen to establish ownership over it once and for all. Sometimes the totem is depicted as a regular skull with horns or an alternate blue-coloured horned-skull.
- Codex: Orks (7th Edition), pp. 18, 29, 51-53, 76, 83
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition), pg. 15
- Codex: Orks (3rd Edition), pg. 23
- Imperial Armour Volume Eight - Raid on Kastorel-Novem, pp. 113, 116-117
- Red Waaagh! Campaign Supplement (7th Edition), pp. 60, 70, 87, 91
- Knightsblade (Novel) by Andy Clark
- White Dwarf 349 (UK), "Clan Loyalties," by Phil Kelly, pg. 30
- White Dwarf 290 (UK) "Chapter Approved: Ork Claz," by Andy Chambers and Andy Hoare
|Bad Moons • Blood Axes • Deathskulls • Evil Sunz • Goffs • Snakebites|