"Da furst an' da best part o' da waaagh is a gud ol' mob o' boyz"
- —Keptin Bluddflagg
The Ork Boyz are the different types of troops deployed by the Orks, an intelligent humanoid race (no, seriously) of the Milky Way Galaxy. They are in some ways equivalent to Warhammer Fantasy Orcs, particularly in terms of their physical appearance, but they vary from the Warhammer World's Greenskins in some minor biological and cultural details. 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 Milky Way, outnumbering possibly every other intelligent race, including Mankind. However, the power of the Ork race as a whole is limited due to the fact that they are split into hundreds of tiny empires, which are more often warring between themselves than not. Were the Orks ever to unite as a species, they would undoubtedly crush all opposition in a massive migration-invasion known as a WAAAGH!
Orks first appeared in the Rogue Trader rulebook and the Space Orks boxed set, containing eighteen metal models. These Orks were squat, powerfully muscled humanoids, wielding crude ballistic weaponry (usually blackpowder or other explosive projectile-based equivalent) and large 'stikbomz' or stick grenades; along with their helmets and other paraphernalia, these are apparently modeled on German equipment from World War I.
Additional rules, cultural details, and painting guidelines were given in the later expansions Waagh Da Orks and 'Ere We Go!. An explanation for the combination of brutal stupidity with relatively high technology was now found: Orks had been created, in times long past, as a warrior race by the long-vanished Brain Boyz. (This theme recurs in recent editions, the Orks having been created by the Old Ones to fight the Necrons in the war that shattered their galactic civilization that existed prior to the rise of the Eldar.) In early editions, the Snotlings were said to be the last degenerate remnant of the Brain Boyz.
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 do well at such tasks. Indeed, the Brain Boyz were apparently able to encode information on how to build simple machinery in the genetic strands of Orks; thus Mekboyz require very little training in their function, since they understand mechanics at an instinctive level.
Other castes include Painboyz who heal Orks wounded in battle and Runtherdz (later renamed 'Slaverz') who direct the efforts of Gretchin (or 'Grotz'), the smaller and smarter (this not being too difficult) servant caste equivalent to goblins. Waagh da Orks also informs us of the existence of more specialised castes such as Diggaboyz, Yellerz and Brewerz; however, as the game became more combat-oriented, these were never mentioned again. Even Waagh da Orks gives no information on them other than their bare existence; it may be assumed that when the Orks go to war, these castes fight as ordinary, shoota-armed Boyz.
As the game evolved, some of the clunkier (if more flavour-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 (i.e., squads) 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 behaviour 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 behaviour 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!") While often very amusing, this was highly time-consuming, and dropped in the later editions, which were streamlined for combat.
The main background change lies in their method of reproduction. According to Waagh da Orks, Orks are born to feral 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 gun. 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 spores which lie in the ground, 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.
The beginning of the Orks has also been changed with the arrival of the 3rd Edition of Codex: Necrons. Here a xenos species called the Krork is described as a hardy green-skinned race, created by the Old Ones to defend their last strongholds against Warp-spawned horrors like the Enslavers. The C'tan called the Deceiver once expressed its surprise that Mankind and the Krork had spread across the galaxy. Since humanity and the Orks are the most numerous races in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the connection is obvious.
Ork weaponry is built by the Mekboyz or Mekanikz, 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 driving belts and ad-hoc armor 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 (also known as the Shokk Attack 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. The weapon sends the Snotlings through a tunnel through a daemon-infested alternate dimension know as the Warp. The horrors the Snotlings experience drive them mad, and they emerge inside enemy power armor or vehicles as a biting, scratching mass. 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.
In their current incarnation, Orks are very much a close-combat-optimised 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 colour. 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 designers of regarding the Orks more as comic relief than as a serious army, and being more concerned with the flavour 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 WH40K.
Orks are green-skinned, a side effect of their symbiotic relationship with fungi. Orks were 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.
They eat fungi of all kinds as well as meat. A particularly favoured ingredient in their diet are Squigs, short for 'Squiggly beasts' — a variety of symbiotic races about the size of a cat but legless. In earlier editions, squigs were said to be a form of Tyranid with Ork genes. 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 of Orks, noticeably larger and tougher than the average. 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 empires, are very large Orks indeed, often standing three metres tall or higher. Ghazghkull himself is a towering 6 meters in height.
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. 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.
BiologyOrks consists of two symbiotic organisms: one comparable to a terrestrial animal and the other to an alga or fungus living in the first's bloodstream. The animal cells carry the genetic information of only the individual's subspecies, but the alga has genetic information for all the varieties of Orkoid, as well as the different Oddboyz. The alga also helps heal wounds quickly. 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 biology. The first is that they were adapted by their masters, a race referred to in Ork legends as "Brain Boyz;" theorized by Imperial scientists to be the ancestors to the Snotlings, the Brain Boyz were a race that soared to intelligence upon eating a particular species of mushroom and spread across the galaxy with the help of their less intelligent Ork slaves, but whose empire fell apart when the Orks consumed all traces of the mushroom which only grew on their home planet. Before the Brain Boyz regressed into the permanently juvenile Snotlings, they genetically engineered the Orks' DNA to include a 'techno gene'. This gene develops in Orks as they grow, influencing their minds and releasing 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 his 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 a hostile universe.
The more modern theory is that Brain Boyz were the Old Ones, and the Orks are the descendants of the green-skinned Krork, created as a survivor race by the Old Ones in their wars against the Necrontyr. The fact that an entire Orkoid ecosystem can be constructed from the mere presence of but a single Ork, and their general state of total war-readiness, suggests that this is the more likely of the two.
Orks have not only survived, they have prospered and are more numerous than humanity. This at least is due in part to how they reproduce. Orks reproduce through the release of 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 fungus, then Gretchin to build the settlements, and finally the Orks themselves. This means the orks, where ever they go, will have an abundance of food, slaves and other resources, a moving 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 particularly at the moment of death; to prevent this you must decapitate them shortly after killing them, and then burn their bodies and heads. Without a nearby population of Orks, the fungus will eventually start the Ork 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.
Gretchin are the Orks' slaves. Small, grasping, green creatures with the overall demeanour 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, assist Oddboyz and act as a living carpet for larger Orks to cross difficult ground. They are overall similar to the Warhammer Fantasy goblins. In Gorkamorka, it was revealed that snotlings are actually young gretchin. They originally were used in swarms like in Warhammer Fantasy and could even be fired out of a shokk attack gun, but have vanished from 41st-Millennium battlefields with the advent of the 3rd Edition.
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.
In the first and second editions of the game, squigs were the result of Tyranid manipulation of Orkish gene-matter and could be present in either army. Orks were said to have discovered the first squigs aboard a Tyranid bio-ship and recognised them as being "Orky", subsequently taking the little creatures home. Squigs then spread throughout Ork space. However, since this conflicts with the more recent descriptions of the Orkoid ecosystem, this has been dropped. Squigs are now exclusively orky, with ripper swarms replacing them in the tyranid list.
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 most can't. These "oddboyz" develop instinctive knowledge useful for specific tasks.
- Mad 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 "concussion" to other 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 'Mekaniks' 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 boars 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.
- Slavers, better known as Runtherdz, are the Orks who have the patience to take care of Gretchin and other slaves. Their trademark weapons are the whip and Grabba Stikk.
- Wyrdboyz (also spelled Weirdboyz) are the Ork psykers. One major difference between them and the psykers of other races is that wyrdboys draw on the power of the Waaagh! instead of the power of the Warp, a dangerous realm full of daemons, where other races' psykers draw their powers. However, the Waaagh! has its own perils for Ork wyrdboyz: 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, wyrdboyz 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 wyrdboyz actually become addicted to the power and seek out battles; these exceptionally dangerous individuals are known as
- Warpheads. For unknown reasons, wyrdboyz do not appear anymore in Ork communities that have evolved beyond the feral stage.
- Other types of Oddboyz include Sumboyz (bankers/accountants), Yellerz (priests of Gork and Mork), and Brewboyz (alcohol manufacturers), all of whom having an important role in "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), led by a warboss. The largest organizational unit is the tribe, a group of numerous warbands all under the command of a warboss. Different tribes can be united by a powerful warlord when he raises a Waaagh!.
The Orks speak the same language that most humans do although due to possessing tusks they can't pronounce words in the same way as humans do, for one they seem unable to voice some letters, such as h. Therefore, they pronounce words such as hunter "'Unter", head "'Ead", and so forth. Their speech seems largely based off an English 'cockney' accent, although it is important to note that English is only used to represent the Imperial language so we can understand it and that humans actually speak Low Gothic and High Gothic which are descended from today's languages but almost certainly unintelligible to us. In the games 2nd edition (and repeated with additions and modifications in the game Gorkamorka) the orks have a runic/glyphic language, with simple symbols used to carry the meaning of certain words (generally battlefield/mechanical concepts) with glyphs capable of spelling words without a specific symbol. While this has not been carried into the 3rd edition codex, your average ork warband will still be covered in these glyphs, often painted in clan colours.
Orks believe in two gods - Gork and Mork- Gork being the god of cunning brutality; and Mork being the god of brutal cunning (the subtle distinction being that one hits you when you're not looking at him, the other hits you hard when you are). Orks can't agree which god plays which role, and debates about this topic often erupt into fighting. They have no real priesthood, although the infamous Goff Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka claims to be receiving visions from them. 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 divisions lie in determining who is meaner; another factor preventing Orks from being united.
Orks use their teeth ("teef") as currency. This is quite a natural solution to inflation and income support, as orks go through teef in a similar manner to sharks, replacing them quite frequently, and they degrade over time, so it is impossible to hoard them. This keeps prices constant, ensures all orks have 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 flash battlewagon could cost a warboss hundreds of teef.
Ork clanz are not communities but rather philosophical delineations of the different varieties of Ork. Each has its own colors, markings, and ways of waging war. Orks tend to form warbands with others who follow the same clan, but different groups tend to be lumped together after suffering casualties during a Waaagh!. There are six famous clans:
The Bad Moons are the richest Orks around, because their teef grow faster than anyone else's (this shows that, at least in one case, the clan affiliation has a physical effect). The other Clanz don't 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. They trade with other Orks to get the biggest guns, the flashiest gear, 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 wyrdboyz than other clans, but they still do not appear past the feral stage. The signature mob of the Bad Moons is 'flash gitz': Orks with devastating kustom shootas. Their marks are the yellow crescent moon and the black flames.
The Blood Axes were the first Greenskins 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're losing. They trade with humans for equipment and vehicles, and have even worked as mercenaries for the Imperium at times (such as the Battle at Big Toof River). All of these things lead followers of other clanz to brand them as dangerously treacherous, cowardly, and, worst of all, "un-Orky". Most Blood Axes are back-stabbing 'kommandos'. Their symbol is the crossed axes. The Blood Axes were once of the wealthiest clans, until most of them were wiped out in a battle with other clans called 'Da Big Party.' Since then, Blood Axes are not as common, but are still a powerful clan.
The Death Skulls are a clan that are known to be plunderers of the battlefield. They strip the bodies of the fallen to augment their own wargear. This results in their bizarre style of dress, made up of fragments of clothing sewn together. These notorious looters grab whatever they can from corpses on the battlefield, although they aren't above taking things from other Orks who aren't watching. They collect anything that might be useful, as well as various lucky trinkets and charms. It is not uncommon to find looted vehicles in Death Skull armies, such as Chimeras and Rhinos. Their symbol is the horned skull. They are superstitious even for Orks, and often paint themselves blue (which Orks feel is a lucky colour) to protect themselves from harm. This clan adheres that striking war paint wins the favourable attention of the gods - their face painted vivid blue in an effort to be as eye-catching as possible on the battlefield.
The totem of the Evil Sunz clan is a blood-red grinning sun - red being their most-prized colour - perhaps because it is ritually associated with speed and power. Evil Sunz always wear at least one item of clothing. Red is particularly hard colour for Orks to get a hold of because Mekboyz use so much painting Ork vehicles red to make them go faster. The more red an Evil Sunz wears the more prestige he acquires among his comrades. Only the most respected warriors are able to wear lots of red. This clan loves going fast, and thus most join the Kult of Speed. Even warbands that haven't given completely over to their love of speed will often have many bikes or vehicles in their force. The clan also contains more Mekboyz than most, and therefore they often field more mechanical creations than other clanz. Their symbol is a red sun with a grimacing face. The Evil Sun symbol is also found in Warhammer Fantasy.
The Goffs are the toughest and most brutal Orks, roughly equivalent to Warhammer Fantasy Black Orcs. They value close combat above all else, and have a large proportion of veteran Skarboyz and also carry a lot of units called stormboyz, orks with jump packs. Goffs are identified by their preference for black gear and the clan totem, which is a large black bull's head. This favourite colours are black and red, and they prefer to decorate their clothes with checker patterns or with a solid border in a contrasting colour. Very bright colours, war paint and tattoos are generally shunned, being seen 'un-Orky'. Excessive decoration and bright colours are held to be highly unsuitable in the Goff's eyes, and they consider clans like the Bad Moons to be quite decadent in their tastes. As in all clans, Nobz often wear coats decorated with glyphs and always wear big horns on their helmets. The infamous Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka is a member of the Goff Clan.
The Snakebites are a savage clan who are probably the most like their primitive Ork ancestors in their style of dress. They prefer tradition to technology, shunning things like forcefields and vehicles in favor of protecting themselves with war paint and riding into battle on huge boars. They often wear hair squigs trimmed and dyed into crests and topknots, and some decorate their bodies with swirling red tattoos in the likeness of coiling snakes. Depending on how fundamental they are, they may remain as feral Orks even after their civilization has slowly advanced over the ages. They like to wear bones and pelts of wild beasts, and the claws and feathers of birds of prey. Belts are often made from snakeskin and may be fastened with metal snake-shaped buckles. The Snake-Bites' clan totem is the venomous serpent, and they always take some along so they can have initiation rituals where Orks endure being bitten.
The Kult of Speed
Although most Orks prefer slaughter and explosions, some become addicted to driving very fast. These crazy individuals band together in 'Kults of Speed' (known as Speed Freeks to the Orks), complete with their own mobs and warbands, full of buggies, bikes, and trukks. Most vehicles are painted red as, according to Orky superstition, "Da red wunz go fasta!" They rely on meks to build and maintain their vehicles, and sometimes a warband is even led by a Big Mek instead of a Warboss.
A subset of the Kult of Speed, some Orks in their desire for speed crave to fly through the air like birds. Their demand and addiction for speed cannot be satisfied on the ground, so take to the skies in cobbled together aircraft, taking great pleasure in divebombing enemy (and friendly) targets. Flyboyz are considered mad by Ork standards, and will often live in semi-exile, only associating with other Flyboyz, Gretchin slaves, and the Meks responsible for maintaining their 'fighta-bommaz'.
Ork technology appears ramshackle and slapped-together, 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 constantly trying to outdo the competition to build the biggest gun, the largest gargant (a huge land-based walker), or the fastest buggy. Therefore, Ork technology is not uniform, lending Ork warbands a cobbled together and random appearance. Ork mechanics ("Mekboyz") are specialists in the field of producing powerful force fields that can protect against damage, and at battlefield improvisation of repairs. Traditionally, ork meks are masters of teleportation, forcefield and tractor cannon technology, all technologies used when hitching onto space hulks (large conglomerations of interstellar wreckage used by the orks as improvised transport ships/battleships). They are superior to even the Eldar in these fields, as the Third War for Armageddon shows. 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.
An interesting aspect of Ork technology is that, from a scientific perspective, their weapons do not work, or by all means shouldn't. Orks are known to be a strongly psychic race, and their beliefs affect the Warp just as those of any other race. However, for Orks, it is slightly different, and their belief actually manifests on the battlefield: if they believe it works, it does work! An example is 'shootas' (the orkish term for assault rifles/sub machine guns): many are cobbled together in seconds from scrap parts and have a magazine of ammunition simply slapped in. This kind of construction "should" not work on firing, but in the hands of an Ork, it does. Another example is red paint: a Mekboy may build two almost identical warbuggies (though mekboyz never build identical buggies; every vehicle is always unique), except that one is painted red and the other yellow. The Orkish belief that "da red wunz go fasta" then manifests itself, and the red buggy will actually move faster; this is catered for in the game rules by allowing red Orkish vehicles to obtain a small speed increase. The same goes for many physics-defying Ork weapons as mentioned above.
Orky "kultur", originally intended as a joke, has given birth to several concepts widely recognized among Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 gamers. For example, most longtime Warhammer 40,000 tabletop gamers have a collection of assorted 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 or conversions. 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 Orky spelling of where a Mekboy keeps his stock of reserve parts.
Finally, there is a general Ork stereotype, portrayed by hunching the head down between the shoulders, showing one's teeth, and "talkin' like dis, me." Shouts of 'WAAAAAAGH, da Orks!' and '"'Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go!" can often be heard at tournaments, particularly when an Ork player is doing well, but also as a sort of general rallying cry for the entire hobby.
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (Video Game)