"Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go!"
- — Common Ork chant heard during a greenskin WAAAGH!
The Orks, also called greenskins, are a savage, warlike, green-skinned species of humanoids who possess physiological features of both animals and fungi who are spread all across the Milky Way Galaxy. They share many features with Warhammer Fantasy Orcs (and were initially called "Space Orcs" to distinguish them).
They are seen by their enemies (pretty much everyone else in the universe) as savage, violent, and crude, but they are the most successful species in the whole galaxy, outnumbering possibly every other intelligent starfaring species, even Humanity (with the very plausible exception of the Tyranids).
Greenskins are one of the most dangerous alien races to plague the galaxy. Numerous beyond belief and driven always to fight and conquer, the Orks threaten every single intelligent species of the galaxy.
Orks are possibly the most warlike aliens in the 41st Millennium, and their number is beyond counting. Amid constant, seething tides of battle and bloodshed, burgeoning Ork stellar empires rise and fall.
Mercifully most are short-lived, soon destroying themselves in a maelstrom of violence and internecine conflict, but should the Orks ever truly unify, they would crush all opposition.
Orks generate a potent psychic gestalt field that allows them to accomplish many feats of technological engineering that might otherwise seem impossible. At the same time, the power of this psychic field is directly proportional to the number of greenskins present in a given location.
The more Orks that gather, the more Orks are drawn to them, at the same time that the power and intelligence of the greenskins begins to grow with their numbers.
The Orks' unquenchable thirst for battle has always proved their downfall: historically, the Ork tribes have spent much of their time fighting amongst themselves, waging brutal wars with only the strongest surviving. On occasion, an Ork leader will emerge who is mighty enough to defeat his rivals and unite the warring tribes.
His success draws other tribes to him, and soon a great WAAAGH! is underway -- partly a migration, partly a holy war that can exterminate the populations of entire star systems.
When the Orks are on the rampage, the galaxy trembles, and in the Age of the Dark Imperium there are more WAAAGH!s rising than ever before recorded.
"Of all the races I have battled throughout the galaxy, the Ork is the hardest to comprehend. They wage war with machines that should not work, care little for strategic gains, and are just as likely to slaughter each other as the enemy. How does one battle an enemy that defies all logic?"
- — Rogue Trader Varnael Larik
The Orks are a biologically-engineered species, 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 ancient Krork were known to possess more advanced technology than that of the present greenskin race, and to be on average larger, in some cases standing as tall as 12 metres.
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 that shattered the galactic civilisation of the Old Ones that existed prior to the rise of the Aeldari.
Orks are thus genetically engineered to be muscular, aggressive, and none too bright; their technology is maintained by a caste of Oddboyz who possess genetically-implanted dispositions and technical knowledge that grant them unusual skill with maintaining and developing technology.
However, this skill is an unconscious one preserved through genetic memories hard-wired into the Oddboyz's DNA by the Brain Boyz millions of standard years ago.
Indeed, the Brain Boyz were apparently able to encode information on how to build simple machinery into the genomes of all Orks; thus Mekboyz require very little training in their function within Ork "kultur," 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 being in realspace through the power of the Immaterium by their gestalt psychic ability.
For example, Ork rockets painted yellow create bigger explosions, simply because the vast majority of Orks believe 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 intelligent races.
The Gorro Hollowing
When the Emperor of Mankind revealed Himself to Humanity following the Long Night of the Age of Strife in the early 30th Millennium, He shaped war-torn Terra into a single unified world for the first time in long millennia. Once he had conquered Terra, He looked to taking His Great Crusade to the stars.
Having created the foundations of the Imperium of Man, He launched His massive armies out into the galaxy, seeking to bring all of Human-settled space back under the control of a unified stellar empire. During these early conquests, many Imperial expeditionary fleets encountered the greenskin menace -- a violent xenos species designated as the "Orks" by the early Imperium.
Within the Telon Reach was an Ork empire that rivalled that centred on Ullanor, and at its heart was the scrap world of Gorro. The Ork tech-caste, the Mekboyz, dominated the Orks of Gorro and had made the world their own.
The dominant tech-caste on Gorro seemed to be fascinated by a form of plasma technology never encountered before or since. Capable of generating destructive yields of terrifying potency, these plasma weapons had done much to blunt the Great Crusade's advance across the Telon Reach. The Emperor decreed that Gorro must be destroyed.
When a thousand-strong fleet of warships dropped out of the Warp above Gorro it was the Emperor Himself who gave the order to begin the assault. Horus, Primarch of the vaunted Luna Wolves Space Marine Legion, and ever the dutiful and favoured son, stood at the Emperor's side and watched as tens of thousands of assault craft spread out from the fleet.
The Luna Wolves teleported into the scrap layers beneath the planet's surface, forced to hollow out Gorro from within due to the planet's high resistance to orbital bombardment. In the vanguard was the Emperor and by His side was Horus and a guard of black-armoured Justaerin Terminators from the Luna Wolves' 1st Company as well as the golden-clad warriors of the Legio Custodes.
As the Space Marines attacked, the Ork resistance they faced was near-overwhelming. The Orks of Gorro were huge and augmented with scavenged bionics. Some stood taller than Dreadnoughts and their weaponry burned through Astartes Power Armour easily.
At the height of the battle, the fury of the Orks split the Emperor from His guards. Alone He slew hundreds of them until a blast from an Ork plasma weapon weakened His defences and one of the Ork leaders seized Him. The creature's strength was so great that it took hold of the Emperor and buckled His golden armour.
As the creature's grasp closed to throttle the Master of Mankind, Horus stormed through the press of battle and cut the Ork's arms from its body with a single blow. Together father and son led their forces deeper into the vast sphere of scrap until they reached the centre of Gorro.
The Emperor worked to collapse the self-sustaining plasma sphere that powered much of the world's scavenged Ork technology and that contained a Warp-fold envelope, so that Gorro would implode into the Warp.
The Emperor proved successful, and without its power source, the scrap world collapsed in on itself. A hollow skin of rusted metal around an empty void was all that remained to mark the death of the great Ork empire of Gorro.
The Ullanor Crusade
The capital world of this empire and the site of the final assault lay in the Ullanor System of the Ullanor Sector, which had long been under the dominion of Urrlak Urruk's greenskin pocket empire.
The crusade included the deployment of 100,000 Space Marines, 8,000,000 Imperial Army troops, and thousands of Imperial starships and their support personnel. The Luna Wolves spearheaded the assault into the heart of Urlakk's fortress-palace.
During the height of the assault, Horus and a retinue of Luna Wolves Terminators from the elite 1st Company came face to face with the massive Ork warlord and a retinue of 40 Ork Nobz. Horus charged into the Nobz, hacking them apart with his Lightning Claws until he finally faced the Ork Overlord himself.
Urlakk was simply no match for the Primarch's skill and unnatural power. First crippling his enemy, Horus hefted Urlakk's broken body out onto the roof of the greenskin's palace and threw it screaming from the battlements to fall far below amongst the horde of Orks still assaulting the lower levels.
Seeing their leader defeated sent a panic through the greenskin forces, which started to fall back from the Terminators. But the fleeing mobs found they had nowhere to run, as the outer walls had been breached by the attacking Luna Wolves, and the day turned into a slaughter.
In the Overlord's chamber, Horus found every Ork and Terminator dead, apart from the gore-drenched First Captain of the 1st Company, Ezekyle Abaddon, who was surrounded by crushed and broken Ork bodies.
The Ullanor Crusade marked the high point of the Great Crusade's vast effort to reunite the scattered colony worlds of Humanity. The Orks of Ullanor represented the largest concentration of Orks ever defeated by the military forces of the Imperium of Man before the War of the Beast and the Third War for Armageddon began during the late 41st Millennium.
The Orks have been a threat since before the earliest days of the Imperium, but the close of the 41st Millennium marks an unprecedented surge in greenskin activity. The galaxy trembles as a great WAAAGH! echoes through the stars and beyond:
- 344.M41 Tuska the Daemon Killa - Great Boss Tuska acquires a taste for fighting Daemons and makes straight for the Eye of Terror, a WAAAGH! of like-minded lunatics gathering around him as he goes. WAAAGH! Tuska proceeds to rampage across Daemon Worlds beyond counting, before finally the eye of Khorne, the Blood God, turns upon them. Though overrun and slain by never-ending hordes of Daemons, Tuska's followers are transported to Khorne’s own realm, there to fight for all eternity, reborn with each blood-soaked dawn to make war against Khorne's greatest daemonic generals for the Lord of Battles' amusement.
- 797.M41 Green Tide over Ultima - The Ultima Segmentum is punished by wave after wave of greenskin uprisings and invasions. Numerous outlying worlds are overrun, and only the tireless efforts of Chapter Master Marneus Calgar and his Ultramarines prevent far greater destruction from occurring.
- 798.M41 WAAAGH! Bigskorcha
- 815.M41 The War of Dakka - Warboss Grog Ironteef leads a mighty WAAAGH! against the burgeoning T'au Empire, gathering up all the dakka he can to counter the firepower of his more advanced foes.
- 831.M41 WAAAGH! Gazbag - Gazbag, a Speed Freek Warlord noted for his dogged determination if not his navigational skills, guides his WAAAGH! toward a group of largely unprotected Aeldari paradise worlds. The vengeful Asuryani of Craftworld Biel-Tan descend upon the invaders with destructive fury, yet find the Orks a numerous and deadly foe. Eventually the Aeldari are forced to withdraw, the flames of battle having reduced the paradise worlds' once verdant plains and jungles to smouldering ruins, providing Warboss Gazbag with a new empire to rule over.
- 837.M41 Port Sorcol Massacre
- 844.M41 Danger Overlooked - On the world of Hephastine, Rogue Trader Maximillian Trusk discovers archeotech weapons from the Dark Age of Technology. Staving off attacks by the world's greenskin tribes, Trusk prepares to transport his prize to his awaiting fleet. However, a strikeforce under Lord Inquisitor Shael appears in orbit, demanding Trusk surrender the prescribed archeotech. When the Rogue Trader -– who by now is staving off near constant attacks from an increasing number of Orks -– refuses, Inquisitorial troops deploy to seize the weapons by force. As the fighting between the Rogue Trader's forces and Inquisitorial Storm Troopers escalates, more and more Orks are drawn in, scavenging weapons and soon becoming a rampaging horde. Yet both human factions continue more or less to ignore the greenskins, more interested in pursuing their own vendetta. After more than three solar months of warfare, Shael launches an all-out offensive against Trusk's fortified dig site, and even as the bitter rivals lock blades, the jungle rings to the deafening war cry of hundreds of thousands of Orks. From every direction, a tide of greenskins floods the compound, led by a vast Stompa that smashes its way through the defensive perimeter and charges headlong into the fight. Both Imperial factions are utterly annihilated, and the weapons over which they fought so hard are cannibalised for scrap.
- 855.M41 WAAAGH! Hruk - The noted Snakebites klan Warboss Hruk Teefsplinta enslaves the entire population of his old stomping grounds, the binary system Corva. Forcing his captives to build him spacecraft with holds cavernous enough to accommodate his beloved mega-menagerie, Hruk sets off for the core worlds of the Imperium. He conquers the nine Shrine Worlds of Marlisanct and uses the Basilica Imperator Majoris as a breeding pen for his famously incontinent Squiggoths.
- 862.M41 Ralephos Overrun - The great libraries on the Imperial archive world of Ralephos are overrun by a mighty Ork-led invasion. The greenskins burn everything, obliterating untold millennia of collected lore in a single night.
- 886.M41 Hope's End - Earth Caste engineers of the T'au Ke'lshan Sept proudly reveal an immense new colony-seeding voidcraft. This monolithic spacefaring vessel is named in the T'au Lexicon, Hope's Light. On its maiden voyage, and with over three hundred thousand T'au colonists and warriors on board, Hope's Light is boarded by the Ork fleet of Megaboss Morkrog and lost with all hands. For the next standard decade, the Ke'lshan Sept faces brutal raids from Morkrog's vast new looted warship Taukilla.
- 898.M41 The Mighty Mangler's Battlewagon Brigade - The Mighty Mangler of Bork launches his WAAAGH! from the head of a vast brigade of Battlewagons. Each vehicle is incredibly well armoured, and the ground shakes when his brigade is on the move. To the dismay of the Imperial armies sent to intercept him, the Mighty Mangler lives up to his name. WAAAGH! Bork collapses the defences of the Ghoul Stars and claims a great area of the galactic fringe.
- 907.M41 A Growing Threat - Segmentum commanders across the Imperium report an alarming upsurge in Ork activity. More WAAAGH! than ever before must be combatted.
- 925.M41 WAAAGH! Grax
- 928.M41 The Thrassos Disaster - WAAAGH! Dregdakka ploughs headlong into the Adransa Cluster, causing untold devastation. On the planet of Thrassos a combined force of Space Marines from the Iron Knights and Liberators Chapters attempts to halt the Orks' steamroller advance. A horde of Orks including Dregdakka himself are lured onto a huge refinery platform before Techmarines destroy all bridges linking the platform to the mainland. Space Marine Kill-teams then deploy across the hulking structure, tasked with slaughtering the trapped greenskins and assassinating Dregdakka. Yet the Adeptus Astartes have woefully underestimated their foe, the greenskins digging in and fighting back with unexpected tenacity. Though they kill thousands of Orks, over three hundred Space Marines are slain and their comrades are overwhelmed as yet more Ork vessels pour into the system. His trophy poles rattling with freshly harvested Space Marine helmets, Warlord Dregdakka's position is now unassailable. His WAAAGH! completely overruns the Adransa Cluster within the year.
- 934.M41 Rise of the Weird WAAAGH!
- 941.M41 The Second War for Armageddon - Warlord Ghazghkull Thraka invades Armageddon at the head of a massive Ork WAAAGH! in what becomes known as the Second War for Armageddon. Only the vast military experience and leadership of Commissar Sebastian Yarrick prevents the world from falling to the Orks within the first solar month of conflict. Space Marine reinforcements gradually turn the tide of the war and Ghazghkull retreats to the Golgotha Sector to lick his wounds...and plot his revenge.
- 971.M41 WAAAGH! Wazdakka
- 976.M41 WAAAGH! Gorbag
- 977.M41 WAAAGH! Planetsmasha - Deathskulls klan 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 system.
- 978.M41 The Lost WAAAGH! - The Ork Warlord Grizgutz, a noted kleptomaniac, launches his WAAAGH! into the Morloq System. Whilst using Warp travel to reach their quarry, Grizgutz and his warband unwittingly travel through time and emerge from the shifting chaos of the Empyrean shortly before they set off. Grizgutz hunts down and kills his doppelganger, reasoning that this way he can have a spare of his favourite gun. The resultant confusion stops the WAAAGH! in its tracks.
- 978.M41 The Wurldbreaka Bomb
- 979.M41 A New Weapon - Nazdreg Ug Urdgrub, a Bad Moons Warlord noted for his wealth and flair, bullies his Meks into performing ever more progressive and bizarre experiments. Despite some nasty "setbacks" ranging from spontaneous combustion to sporadic gravity reversal, Nazdreg's Meks perfect their Tellyporta designs. The Warlord barters his new technology with Ghazghkull Thraka in exchange for an alliance.
- 979.M41 Grabork's Big Gun - Big Mek Grabork and his mob of Meks salvage the Space Hulk Perpetual Misery from the depths of the void. Acting on instinct, Grabork and his Boyz set about pulling it apart and putting it back together into a new configuration, linking up dozens of voidship reactors and cannibalizing hundreds of Macrocannons to create a gargantuan shokk attack gun. Eager to try out his new weapon, the Big Mek attacks the world of Fratarn, raining petrified Snotlings down upon the planet from orbit. However, when the Snotlings run out, Grabork starts hurling Orks into the machine. Not liking the way things are going, one of Grabork's Meks turns the gun into reverse, sucking the entire world up into the Perpetual Misery. The resulting explosion obliterates the Space Hulk and the planet, and creates an asteroid field a billion miles across.
- 979.M41 WAAAGH! Dregfang
- 980.M41 The RiftWAAAGH! - A new Warp anomaly blooms like a rancid flower in the Kantarak Sector. Though the rift itself is small, the powerful emanations agitate indigenous greenskin populations throughout the sector. Driven wild, they launch WAAAGH! after WAAAGH! until Kantarak is reduced to war-torn ruins.
- 981.M41 The Great Titanheist - The Forge World of Canto II is left badly weakened by a Tyranid splinter fleet, and the Blood Axes Warboss Mardrug sends a crack team of Kommandoz and Mekboyz to steal the Warlord Titan Wrath of Caseopea amidst the chaos of the planet's recovery. The Kommandoz shoot their way onboard the Titan, and their attendant Meks manage to jump-start its reactor. However, the Orks have no way of controlling the Wrath of Caseopea 's indignant Machine Spirit (artificial intelligence). Disoriented and enraged, the Titan goes on a devastating rampage across the planet before overloading its own reactor. The Kommandoz' mission is a failure, but the devastation caused to a vital Forge World is substantial, affecting supply to numerous Imperial war zones.
- 982.M41 Who's Da Boss? - During fierce fighting on the Exodite world of Lyrithar, Boss Zagstruk takes personal offence at being outmanoeuvred by the lightning-fast Wild Riders of Saim-Hann. Enraged beyond words as his cowardly foes retreat into the Webway , Zagstruk lights up his Rokkit Pack and gives chase along with a hard core of his most devoted Stormboyz. The portal closes behind Zagstruk, and Da Boss is next seen some ten solar months later when he stalks into the encampment of Warboss Golgrot. He slaughters a couple of dozen Lootas, and reclaims his stolen Fighta-Bommer. No one has the guts to enquire as to Zagstruk's recent whereabouts, but all note the fresh batch of red and white Aeldari helmets dangling from his belt.
- 982.M41 Troublesome Loot - Freebooter Dakbad Firegut lays claim to a vast living vessel he finds drifting in the void. The Ork pirates harpoon the creature, dragging it back to their base on great rusting chains. On the way, the bioship unleashes a horde of Tyranid creatures, Genestealers and Gaunts crawling up the chains to get at the Orks. Dakbad and his Boyz enjoy a lengthy game of target practice shooting the Tyranids off the chains using the Kroozer's deck guns, until the Freebooter finally grows weary of the situation, unhooking the harpoons and leaving the bioship adrift on the edge of a densely populated Imperial star system.
- 985.M41 Shyrrek's Folly - Archon Shyrrek of the Kabal of the Severed Hope seeks to turn the green hordes of WAAAGH! Hammafist against the T'au Empire colony of Korvessa. Using hit and run attacks, Shyrrek's fleet lures the much larger Ork force toward Korvessa, but in their arrogance they underestimate the Orks completely. Using short-range Tellyporta drives, a number of Warlord Hammafist's Kroozers leapfrog the Drukhari, leaving them surrounded and cut off from escape into the Webway. Archon Shyrrek's forces fight like devils to escape the tightening ring of Ork ships. However their resistance comes to an end when Hammafist and his Meganob retinue tellyport on board Shyrrek's flagship and slice the Archon to shreds with their roaring killsaws.
- 986.M41 Ghesmengeist Overrun by Orks
- 987.M41 A Hundred, Hundred Teef - WAAAGH! Ozdakka rampages through the Helshrike Systems, millions of Orks led by the legendary Bad Moon Boss of Bosses Ozdakka. Such is the utter destruction wrought by the WAAAGH!, entire worlds being smashed to scrap and dragged off into the stars by the unstoppable Orks, that the Adeptus Terra dispatches a Vindicare Assassin to take out Ozdakka and his most powerful Nobz. Brutally effective, the nameless assassin stalks the battlefields of Helshrike, sniping Orks from the shadows and taking a terrible toll on Ozdakka's bosses. In a fit of rage, the Warboss offers a hundred, hundred teef -- more than most Orks can comprehend -- for the head of the unseen killer. As word spreads of the bounty, even more Orks flock to Ozdakka's banner and his WAAAGH! swells until it is even larger than ever. However, the Warboss does not live to enjoy the destruction he has wrought upon the Helshrike Sector, the assassin's final shot taking Ozdakka's head from his shoulders before the Imperial agent is overwhelmed by a mob of Bad Moons intent on claiming the immense prize.
- 989.M41 WAAAGH! Snagrod - Snagrod, then Arch-Arsonist of Charadon, unites the Ork factions of the Loki Sector. The nearby Imperial colony of Badlanding is destroyed despite a valiant defence at Krugerport. Intervention by the Crimson Fists Space Marines ensures that Snagrod's next target is the Adeptus Astartes planet of Rynn's World, where, after a titanic battle, the Crimson Fists' fortress-monastery is atomised by a devastating explosion caused when one of the citadel's own defence missiles is accidentally turned against it. The Orks are eventually driven off-world by the arrival of an Imperial reclamation fleet eighteen solar months later, but it is a hollow victory, for the once-proud Crimson Fists are reduced to a fragment of their former glory.
- 989.M41 WAAAGH! Blaktoof
- 994.M41 The March of Gork - A clanking mob of several hundred Gorkanauts sets out from the empire of Bork, beginning a destructive rampage that will become known as the March of Gork. From one world to the next, the lumbering machines smash everything in their path, the Meks building more Gorkanauts from every vehicle they destroy, until they are a nigh-unstoppable tide of rusting metal.
- 995.M41 The Siege of Dorvenshold
- 996.M41 The Tide Rises Higher - The incidence of Ork WAAAGH!s reach epidemic levels across the Imperium in this year. The forces of the Adeptus Astartes and Imperial Guard, already under incredible pressure from a multitude of threats, find themselves stretched thinner still as they are forced to respond to one Ork invasion after another. Many cannot be stopped, and countless human worlds are overrun by the swarming masses of belligerent greenskins.
- 998.M41 The Third War for Armageddon- After five decades of planning and preparation, Ghazghkull Thraka returns to the barely recovered Imperial world at the head of an even greater WAAAGH!, plunging Armageddon into another vast and bloody war. Yet after months of grinding conflict, the world has not fallen. As the Imperium commits vast reinforcements to War Zone Armageddon, countless waves of Orks flood to meet them and the war becomes a contest of grinding attrition with no end in sight.
- 990.998.M41 A Greater Purpose - The Battle for Armageddon is at its height of ferocity. Greenskins from thousands of light years away are hearkening to the call of the WAAAGH! and more arrive daily. Despite this success, Ghazghkull's visions lead him off-world. It slowly dawns on the Prophet of Gork and Mork that this battle is but one of many. The next stage of his Grand Plan is made clear -- he must kindle the spirit of WAAAGH! Ghazghkull elsewhere in the galaxy. With a small fleet, headed by his kapital ship Kill Wrecka, Ghazghkull leaves the Armageddon Sector.
- 852.999.M41 Galactic Green Wave - So many Orks gather upon the world of Octaria -- migrating from all over towards the siren call of WAAAGH! Ghazghkull -- that they overpower Ghazghkull's Madboyz Mob with the overflow of psychic energies. In turn, the power-drunk Madboyz vomit forth a great green wave of force that ripples outwards to the far ends of the galaxy and back. This phenomenon registers with every Warp-sensitive soul in the Imperium, echoing in the Immaterium and sending shivers of fear through all who recognise its significance. The largest WAAAGH! seen in over eight thousand standard years of the Imperium's history is getting bigger. Now that it is growing from different points in the galaxy it is attracting Orks from an unbelievably wide range of territories.
"I attempted to exterminate one of their ramshackle armies before, and consider it my greatest lapse in judgement. Since then, whenever I encounter their green taint upon a world, I simply destroy the planet."
From pirate enclaves to system-spanning Ork Empires, Ork holdings are as varied as they are steeped in violence. When they invade a planet or a star system, greenskins bring with them a belligerent ecosystem that overwhelms each conquered world as surely as the Orks themselves crush its defenders.
Greenskin society and ecology is so robust that it can exist almost anywhere, which is why their settlements have been found scattered to the furthest corners of the galaxy.
The Imperium has encountered Orks and their kind living -- even prospering -- in such extreme environments as toxic Death Worlds, newborn planets still heaving with volcanic activity, or the depressurised carcasses of abandoned orbital platforms. Ork hordes have been found inhabiting drifting ice floes, or infesting irradiated asteroid fields perilously close to active stars.
They have been discovered amid corrosive chemical swamps, on lightless nightmare worlds seething with horrific predators, even in the bombed-out remains of planets subjected to Exterminatus. It is rumoured amid the Imperium's Rogue Traders that there are even Ork enclaves hidden within the Eye of Terror itself, though most dismiss this as the ravings of madmen.
No matter where they are encountered or in what numbers, the greenskins are a deadly threat that will multiply exponentially if left unchecked. In a matter of solar weeks what began as a small raiding party can swell -- as if by some arcane alchemy -- into a roiling, anarchic horde bent upon war and destruction. The other starfaring species of the galaxy have many theories regarding how the Orks' numbers increase so quickly. These range from spontaneous physical division to the release of windblown spores after death.
The notorious "Vandermeist Theorem" even claims that the greenskins inhabit an alternative pocket of reality and simply fall through, fully formed, wherever others of their kind are already at war.
While many of these wild suggestions are patently ridiculous, it is certainly the case that where one Ork is encountered, more will never be far away.
When combined with their relentlessly warlike nature, and tendency to grow larger and more powerful with every battle they survive, it is easy to see how rampaging Orks can quickly overwhelm a planet's defences.
A ragged band of Orks allowed to escape the wreckage of their spacecraft and disappear into an Imperial city's underhive will return within solar weeks as a horde of murderous savages, sweeping all before them in their desire for conquest. Those they do not kill will be enslaved, and that which they do not destroy will be looted.
Before long, another world will be conquered by the Orks, its cities reduced to ruins and its populace toiling in chains as slaves for their brutal greenskin overlords.
Those who have studied Ork settlements (and survived) have observed that Ork civilisation is hierarchical in the extreme. The life of a greenskin is determined not by rank or birth, but by size and savagery.
The largest Orks push around their smaller brethren, who in turn bully the diminutive slave-race known as the Gretchin into doing their bidding. Smaller still are the Snotlings, tiny and simple-minded creatures with little use beyond fungus tending or fetching and carrying.
The Orkoid sub-races have a symbiotic relationship of sorts; the smaller greenskins perform menial tasks for their Ork overseers in exchange for a measure of protection. The Ork language literally has no word for "diplomacy"; they solve almost all of their disputes by fighting.
Indeed, many other intelligent species 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 simply "un-Orky."
Ork Social Hierarchy
The Ork way of life is as straightforward and brutal as the Orks themselves. Much like their approach to everything else, Orks do not waste time pondering why they do things, or how they might do them better.
Instead they simply act, instinct and ability driving them on in a never-ending cycle of violence and conquest. Orks have their own distinct culture (or "kultur" as the Orks call it), the origins of which are lost in the dim and distant past.
Though likely a corruption of whatever may have come before, by and large it functions very well. Perhaps this is because the fundamental tenet of their society is a simple one that even the most pea-brained Snotling can understand -- might makes right.
Orks instinctively obey those larger than themselves, provided they are a healthy shade of green -- most Orks would rather die than bow to a non-greenskin's will. The rulers of Ork society are the most powerful Orks of all, known as Warbosses or Warlords. These monstrous killing machines can reach up to ten Terran feet in height, and their sheer muscular bulk makes them wider at the shoulder than a fully armoured Space Marine.
Though some Warbosses rise to prominence through low cunning, most seize power through the application of brute force. A Warboss will hold dominion over all he surveys, and beat the living daylights out of anyone who says different. His decisions are enforced by a ruling caste of Orks known as Nobz, who are larger, richer and more aggressive than normal Orks, and never miss an opportunity to remind them of it.
The bulk of an Ork horde, which can be hundreds or even thousands strong, is comprised of great mobs of infantry that call themselves Boyz. Goff klan mobs in particular are famous for the sheer number of Boyz that they can field at war, often outnumbering their foes several times over. Orks tend to be lazy and forgetful, and only war and the preparations beforehand really bring out their innate talents.
Though the bigger, meaner Ork Boyz will lord it over the smaller, ganglier ones, even a subservient Ork is of limited use when it comes to practical tasks that do not involve fighting.
Most of the day-to-day running of Ork society is therefore left to the Gretchin, whose duties include preparing food, taking messages, hauling stuff about, general organisation and just being around the place when an Ork wants something to kick. This gives the Orks plenty of time to swagger about, getting into fights and coming up with new ways to kill things.
The Gretchin are happy enough in their role. They bear little resentment towards their superiors, for to them Orks are just a fact of life. Questioning this usually leads to a clip round the ear, and not much else.
Individual Gretchin can enjoy a relatively comfortable existence by providing valuable services to their Ork masters. In fact the Gretchin have created an entire enterprise culture of their own within their Ork-dominated society, and many Gretchin operate their own black market businesses on the side, selling fungus beer, roasting Squigs on sticks, coordinating the bets when a fight breaks out and then looting the resulting corpses.
Klanz and Tribes
"Each of der klanz 'as 'dere own partic'lar fing, see? 'Da Evil Sunz is fast an' loves 'dere trukks, 'da Deathskulls is a bunch of filchas, Bad Moons is snobby an' flash, 'da Blood Axes is a pack of filty 'umie luvvas, an' 'da Snakebites is jus' weird. Us Goffs is 'da biggest an' 'da greenest an' 'da meanest uv course, 'dats wot makes us 'da best bosses."
- — Galthaza, Goff 'Ard Boy
An Ork klan is a massive group of Orks who share an enduring philosophical viewpoint on greenskin life. The great greenskin thinker Orkimedes once postulated that "thinkin’ iz for gitz, but everyone'z a git, so's ya might as well think like some other gitz" which has come, through the years, to mean the klanz.
Each klan is not really a true community, as each is scattered throughout the galaxy and comprises many disparate tribes. But they represent the rock upon which all Orks build the foundation of their existence.
While Ork tribes are constantly changing groups of greenskins, breaking apart and reforming, klan ties are more stable and enduring. Ork klanz are the philosophical delineations representing the various aspects of Orkish character. Each klan has its own colours, markings, defining characteristics and ways of waging war.
It is possible that an Ork's klan affiliation may, in part, be a genetic phenomenon, as members of the same klan may have physical characteristics in common that distinguish them from members of other klanz -- for instance, Bad Moons are identifiable by the faster growth rate of their teeth.
An Ork tribe usually contains Orks from many different klanz, so when tribes fight each other Orks will often find themselves in combat with foes from the same klan. This is considered normal, as an individual Ork's allegiance is to his Warboss rather than his klan. Despite this, inter-klan rivalry is intense in most Ork tribes.
The Orks are an incredibly anarchic race. Their armies and settlements seem utterly disorganised to outside eyes. Yet in truth Ork society is governed by a rugged set of tried and tested traditions that no greenskin would ever consider changing.
Orks thrive on conflict. The strongest rise to the top while the weak become subservient and benefit from the superior leadership and head-kicking skills of their conquerors. To an Ork this state of affairs is perfectly satisfactory.
If an Ork tribe is beaten by another, stronger tribe, the defeated Orks welcome the opportunity to be led into battle by a new leader of even greater power. A tribe is simply all the Orks in a given location, regardless of what kult or klan they may belong to, because in the end an Ork is an Ork and they will always put aside their differences if there is an opportunity to attack a common foe.
Each tribe is led by a Warlord whose authority and power holds this loose confederation in check and prevents civil war between the rival elements of the tribe. Tribes can vary in size from a few hundred Orks to a few million, depending on the influence of the war leader at the top of the pile.
Because a Warlord cannot be everywhere at once, the tribes are split into warbands that in turn are led by factional leaders called Warbosses. Each Warboss leads a warband of a hundred or so Orks, forming a rough and ready army that is capable of taking on almost any foe. Most warbands have a hard core of Ork Boy infantry at their heart, but beyond this they vary enormously from one to the next.
Like-minded Orks tend to cluster together, leading to warbands crammed with mechanised Speed Freeks or pyromaniac Burna Boyz. The Warboss' preferences can also dictate how their warband looks and fights, some favouring masses of charging Boyz and hulking Nobz, while others prefer to ride to battle aboard columns of ragged armoured vehicles, or packing batteries of massive Shootas and artillery.
Although all Orks belong to a tribe, most also belong to klanz such as the Goffs or Evil Sunz. Tribes are constantly breaking apart and reforming in the crucible of battle, but the klanz are constant and enduring. A large tribe usually contains many different klanz, and each klan has its own distinct character and identity.
While it has been stated in many sources that there are a great many different Ork klanz, there are only six that are truly widespread and found in almost every Ork tribe in the galaxy: the Bad Moons, the Blood Axes, the Deathskulls, the Evil Sunz, the Goffs, and the Snakebites. Most warbands or tribes will contain representatives of at least one of these klanz, each of which has distinct cultural preferences, traits and strengths.
The Bad Moons are the richest Orks around, because their teef grow faster than anyone else's. This is not regarded as an unfair advantage, as any Ork big and nasty enough can simply smash the teef 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 klanz, 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 who have a taste for the best wargear and clothing. For instance, 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 Orks 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 klan. The Blood Axes bear the klan motif of crossed, bloodied axes.
The Deathskulls 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 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 Freek'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 force fields 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.
Ork Freebooterz are not in themselves a klan but notorious pirates and thieves, plying the void in smoking, sparking voidships with the intent of causing as much mayhem and destruction as possible. They prey upon anyone foolish enough to stray into their hunting grounds, screaming out of the dark on plumes of fire to blast apart their foes.
When an enemy vessel is crippled or foolishly tries to surrender, the Freebooterz will smash their way on board, killing anything that moves and stealing anything that doesn't. The Freebooterz will then haul their booty back to their hidden bases and count their ill-gotten gains.
When a Warboss wants to invade a planet, he calls on fleets of Freebooterz to see off enemy ships and clear the way for the Orks to get down to the surface.
For this service Freebooterz claim exorbitant scavenging rights as well as a fortune in teef, and a Warboss has little choice but to pay up if he wants their help, as Freebooterz that don't get their price often simply vanish into the void in search of more loot.
Even if a Freebooter's terms are met, he might still get distracted by better prospects, the lure of easy plunder enough to sway most kaptins. Whether they fight alongside a WAAAGH! or tear around the void raiding planets and stealing ships, Freebooterz often become disgustingly rich, leading many to become Flash Gitz.
Ork Freebooterz are by no means always Flash Gitz, but all Flash Gitz eventually end up as Freebooterz. Arrogant and boorish, a Nob who fancies himself a Flash Git will normally alienate himself in short order from the rest of his tribe.
Whether because of his grating self-aggrandisement, eating the local Big Mek's favourite Grot oiler without permission, or committing the cardinal sin of strutting about with a bigger, shinier Shoota than the Warboss, a Flash Git will normally find himself ejected from his tribe.
When a whole band of Nobz get ideas above their place in the order of things within the tribe all at once, it can lead to bloody infighting. This will usually end up with the departure -- at gunpoint or otherwise -- of a whole mob of newly freebootin' Flash Gitz.
However they find their way into this new situation, Flash Git mobs will quickly take to the Freebooter life. Fighting as mercenaries allows successful Gitz to accumulate vast sums of wealth in a short space of time. Even better, they can gleefully spend it all on themselves without a Warboss around to take his cut.
With teef galore flowing into their coffers, successful mobs of Flash Gitz will soon be riding through the void in their very own Kill Kroozer while wielding the kind of firearms that Deathskulls Lootas can only dream of stealing.
They bedeck themselves with natty finery, and even their Grot minions get stuffed into gold-buttoned frock coats and brag loudly of their masters' wealth. Flash Gitz also sport profusions of piercings, furs, glyph-plates, brightly coloured pirate garb and extravagant hats. All of this showy nonsense does absolutely nothing though to hide the hulking, muscular bulk and bestial lethality of the Flash Gitz themselves.
If Orks were just single-minded killing machines they would be dangerous enough, but they would be unable to sustain the level of technology required to ply the stars. Gretchin, though obedient if beaten with sufficient regularity, are not inventive enough to maintain the advanced weaponry that the Orks possess, nor to patch up casualties when the going gets tough.
These highly technical demands are met by a caste of Orks known as Oddboyz. Although it may seem strange to humans, these "Oddboyz" all possess an innate understanding of their fields of expertise without having to be taught. A Mekboy knows how to create engines and plasma generators even though he has never been taught to do so, and a Painboy instinctively knows which squirty tube connects to which wriggly bit when he is delving into some unfortunate patient's abdomen.
If asked where this knowledge comes from, an Oddboy might reply that it was in his blood all along. It seems possible that the abilities of Orks to build machines, practise medicine or even use psychic powers are passed down through Ork society on a primordial, biological level. No Imperial studies of the greenskins have ever successfully determined how this process works.
Yet it seems most likely that the knowledge is genetically hardwired into the very cellular make-up of the Orks, perhaps a legacy left to them by their legendary Brainboyz. However he comes by his latent knowledge, as an Ork matures it will start to make itself apparent, leading him to assume the role in Ork society for which he is best suited.
Should he lack any genetic specialist knowledge, the Ork will happily join the vast throng of Boyz at the heart of each tribe and content himself with a life of murder and mayhem. The following is a list of the most common Oddboyz found within Ork society.
- Doks - Painboyz, known also as "Mad Doks" or "Doks", are responsible for fixing injuries even the highly regenerative Ork physiology cannot repair, such as severed limbs and brain damage. They use "Stabby Bits" as their medical tools. An Ork will only go to a Painboy when he has no other choice, as these Oddboyz are infamous for trying out experimental procedures (such as the greatly feared Squig brain transplant) on patients while they are under anesthesia (known as a "concussion" to other intelligent races). Painboyz are responsible for attaching crude bionics to Ork patients that have been created by the Mekboyz, although sometimes they are not paying attention and replace the wrong part of the patient's body. This is often distressing to a patient who is the lucky recipient of an exploding leg, especially if it was his arm that needed attention. High-ranking Painboyz are called Painbosses and are known to be accompanied by Cybork bodyguards. Orks are surprisingly resilient and have had arms, legs and even heads swapped around and the Ork in question has survived to tell the tale!
- Herdas - Herdas are Oddboyz who are skilled Trappas and caretakers of Squigs. Common amongst klanz of Wildboyz, Herdas are not seen much on the battlefield in Ork warbands past the feral stage, as their uses are mostly rendered obsolete by the advent of vehicles.
- Madboyz - Madboyz are those Orks whose minds did not develop quite right, or who have taken a chunk of shrapnel to the brain. Though they are physically identical to other Orks, the fact that they wear outlandish garb and carry everything from rusty buckets to stuffed Squigs into battle proves that they are very different in all sorts of entertaining ways. Madboyz often form informal retinues for Weirdboyz, and live apart from other Orks in small shanty towns. Mobs of Madboyz are considered to be lucky, their presence a sign of good fortune. However, this does entail a degree of inconvenience, such as when they decide to hold impromptu shouting contests in the middle of a night raid, or pelt the foe with a volley of Stikkbomb pins before waiting expectantly for the loud bangs to start. The fact remains that Madboyz are a surprisingly potent asset on the battlefield, for their antics often confound the foe. Even the most gifted tactician cannot predict the anarchic movements of a mob of Madboyz caught up in the excitement of battle. After all, how can you second-guess an enemy who is as likely to tear apart an infantry platoon with their bare hands as they are to mill about picking snot-grubs out of each others' noses?
- Mekboyz - Mekboyz, known also as a "Mekaniak" or simply as a "Mek," is a type of Oddboy who serves as one of the engineers who build all the weapons, vehicles, and other advanced technology used by the greenskins Mekboyz are especially important to Ork Speed Freeks, as they maintain the prodigious amount of bikes and vehicles used by Ork warbands. The most important and skilled Mekboyz are known as "Big Meks," who lead groups of lesser Mekboyz armed with a wide variety of greenskin kustom equipment and Kombi-weapons, sometimes including even full warbands or whole WAAAGHs! armed with a large amount of less-than-conventional Ork weaponry. A Big Mek's mastery of technology is unsurpassed amongst the Orkoid races and a Big Mek is often seen generating a "Kustom Force Field" around himself that protects his person and his creations. A Big Mek who becomes the leader of a greenskin WAAAGH! will be known as a "Mek-Boss." Important Meks are known as "Big Meks", who lead groups of lesser Meks armed with all variety of kustom equipment and Kombi-weapons.
- Wildboyz - Though the majority of Orks will never venture far from their tribe, there are those strange few who are driven to explore, compelled to do so even in preference to fighting. Such pioneers will seek out the deepest jungles or most arid deserts, where most creatures would struggle to survive at all. Should they endure and multiply, it is common for these remote Ork tribes to degenerate into savages, sometimes known as Wildboyz. After a time, some of these groups will seek out and return to their parent warband. There they learn about Ork kultur and take their place in the warrior society, exchanging spear and axe for Slugga and Choppa. However, should the new tribe emerge on a world where their Ork ancestors have been driven off or slain, the Wildboyz will instead develop into a tribe of Feral Orks. At first, Feral Ork tribes pose little threat to the planet they infest. They are uncivilised, even by the low standards of their Ork brethren, and live by the old ways of hunting and exploring. As the tribe increases in size they breed ever-larger varieties of Squig, riding around upon great tusked beasts that vary in size from that of a horse to that of a Baneblade. Through constant conflict and strife with one another, eventually, the Wildboy enclave will mature into a fully-fledged and technologically capable Ork warband in its own right, only to spawn wandering Wildboyz of its own.
- Pigdoks - This unique class of Oddboy are an odd combination of a "Dok" and "Mek", although not as skilled as either individually. They often found in Feral Ork tribes, tending the Warboars that are ridden to battle by the primitives. Their main use in battle is to provide "doping" to increase the ferocity of the various beasts that Feral Orks take to war, as well as some of the Orks themselves.
- Runtherds - Runtherdz, also known as "Slaverz", is an Oddboy who has the patience to take care of his klan or warband's Gretchin and Snotlings. Their characteristic weapons are whips, Grabba Stikks and Grot-Prods. They are often seen leading Gretchin mobs into the fray or ordering around the Gretchin crews of Big Gunz. They often make use of Squig-hounds to eat errant or fleeing Grots in battle to "increase" the morale of their Gretchin mob. They can also own slaves from every intelligent race in the galaxy except the Necrons.
- Speed Freeks - Speed Freeks are those Orks who become addicted to the sensation of speed. These speed-obsessed greenskins band together in their own mobs and warbands, which are full of buggies, bikes, and Trukks. They belong to what Ork kultur refers to as the Kult of Speed and become members of the Speed Freeks. These grinning loons roar into battle on exhaust-belching jalopies and crude but effective flying machines, intent on getting into the thick of the fighting before their ground-pounding comrades. Most vehicles used by Speed Freeks are painted red as, according to Ork superstition, "Da red wunz go fasta!" Due to the large number of vehicles in each warband, they often have several of the Oddboyz known as Meks amongst their number to keep their vehicles running. Sometimes a warband of Speed Freeks is even led by a Big Mek instead of a Warboss.
- Weirdboyz - Weirdboyz are the Orks' psykers. One major difference between them and the psykers of other intelligent races is that Weirdboyz draw on the power of the WAAAGH! instead of the power of the Warp, a dangerous realm full of daemons, from which 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 (Ork teeth bankers), Yellerz (Ork priests of Gork and Mork), and Brewboyz (cooks), all of whom have an important support role in so-called Ork kultur (although not on the battlefield).
"Ork Physiology is fascinating and terrifying in equal measure, demonstrating inhuman degrees of resilience to the point where they can withstand seemingly fatal wounds with little apparent long-term consequence. Indeed, Orks witnessed suffering fatal wounds in the midst of heavy fighting have often been observed again several days later, larger and stronger than they were before their injuries and with no sign of those wounds save for some largely superficial scarring."
- — Genetor Aurelius Thoze, Adeptus Mechanicus Xenobiologist
Orks are green-skinned and red-blooded, a side effect of their symbiotic physiological and genetic relationship with fungi. Orkoid physique itself is so robust that it can withstand tremendous punishment.
Orks feel surprisingly little pain, even from the most grievous of wounds, enabling them to fight on whilst horrifically injured and even for a short while after being technically dead.
It is most fortunate for the Orks that they can withstand such brutal physical punishment, since their Painboyz operate on a generally nineteenth-century (ca. 800-900.M2) level of surgical knowledge; unlike Humans, though, Orks are quite capable of being beheaded, having the head sewn onto a different body, and surviving the experience to fight again.
It is believed by some who study these brutes, albeit from afar, that this goes some way to explaining the greenskins' ultra-violent sense of humour. As pain and fear mean little to them, they are highly curious and amused by the reactions of their weaker foes as they hack them apart, the screams of terror contrasting with a deep throaty rumbling that, on occasion, could be mistaken for laughter from the Orks and their snickering brethren.
The greenskin regenerative process itself is so powerful that an Ork who has been hacked to bits can simply be stitched back together, bewildered but ready to fight once more. Nothing but the most grievous wounds will put an Ork down for long, and burning them to ash is reputed to be the only way to make absolutely sure that they are gone for good.
A typical Ork stands around the same height as an average Human male, though he would be much taller were he to stand up straight instead of being hunched over, as is his normal stance, and his frame is extremely muscular and solid. An Ork's arms are long and heavily thewed, knuckles almost scraping the floor as he lopes around, and his gnarled hands end in taloned fingers capable of tearing an enemy's throat out with ease.
The skin of an Ork is green and leather-tough, and his body is dotted with scars, scabs, pockmarks and parasites. His skull is extremely thick, able to absorb impacts that would cave in a Human head.
His heavy brow shades blood-red eyes, afire with the need to kill. Jagged fangs jut from a heavy jaw that would not look out of place upon a far larger predator, and when an Ork speaks, it is in a slow, gruff tone thick with saliva and guttural curses. His words are sparse, brutal and straight to the point.
A particularly favored ingredient in their diet are Squigs, short for "squiggly beasts"; a variety of symbiotic Orkoid races about the size of a Terran house 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 the Third and Fourth Editions of Warhammer 40,000 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 entire 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 Nobz who have gathered into a group based on common interests.
Ork physiology is actually the complex interweaving of two symbiotic organisms that have been genetically linked by the greenskins' original creators: one strain is 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 fungoid component of their physiology possesses the genetic information that defines all the different varieties of Orkoid, as well as the different Oddboyz, and it helps to heal wounds by providing greater biochemical energy supplies drawn from some form of biosynthesis 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 fungal/animal physiology. The first is that they were adapted by their masters, who were in fact the present-day Snotlings, a dimunitive alien 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 Imperial theory of Ork origins holds that they are the Krork, created as a warrior species 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 complete war-readiness from birth, suggests that this is the more likely of the two Ork origin theories.
In early forms of this theory developed by the Imperial Magi 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 Aeldari and the Jokaero during the ancient War in Heaven.
The Brain Boyz apparently became extinct or simply disappeared from the galaxy for unknown reasons during the course of the War in Heaven. This theory holds that 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 Ork language.
Ork Oddboy specialists, such as Mekboyz and Painboyz, are the mechanics and surgeons of Ork society, and receive their knowledge through these techno-genes. This theory of Ork origins holds that this was a deliberate measure to ensure that the Orkoid race would survive in an incredibly hostile universe.
"Orkses is neva defeated in battle. If we win we win, if we die we die fightin' so it don't count. If we runz for it we don't lose eva, cos we can come back for annuver go, see!"
- — Common Ork saying
As noted above, theories abound that Orks harbour the genetic traits of both animal and fungal life forms, and that it is this unusual biology that gives an Ork his remarkable constitution.
Orks' green colouration could be explained, Imperial scholars suggest, due to some form of algae or green fungus that permeates their cellular makeup.
Such a substance could break down and repair damaged tissue at an incredible rate, accounting in part for the Orks' extremely durable metabolism. Those observers of other species who maintain this theory point to the well-known fact that an Ork's head can live for some time after being completely severed from the body. Indeed, operations to reattach these are a staple of many a Painboy's repertoire (staple being the operative word!).
Yet for all the questions that still hang over the greenskin species, what cannot be disputed is its relentlessly bloodthirsty nature. An invasion by Orks has been likened to an incurable disease by the Imperium's scholars.
Once a world or star system has faced attack by the greenskins once, it will be ravaged by them time and again until it finally withers and dies. Even as a world's defenders are celebrating their first victory over the Ork invaders, new tribes of greenskins will be multiplying in the dark and shadowed corners of the victorious world.
At the same time, Ork survivors will carry word with them through the void, spreading the tale of how good a fight a particular world put up. Keen to have a go themselves, fresh waves of Orks will soon descend upon the horrified defenders, often before the damage from the previous Ork incursion has been put straight.
These attacks will increase in severity, wave after wave of greenskins from space now supplemented by the tribes that have risen up from the world's own wilderness. The planet's populace will be overrun one stronghold at a time, drowning in a rising tide of roaring, battle-mad greenskins.
The harder a planet's defenders fight back, the worse their predicament will become. Every Ork slain makes way for two of its bellowing brethren, while every attack wave the defenders bloodily repulse just draws more enthusiastic greenskins down on their heads.
In this way some worlds can become the unintentional focus of a WAAAGH!, the Orks' numbers and frenzy reaching critical mass as they fling themselves against the world's defences time and again.
Eventually the pressure from Ork invaders both within and without becomes insupportable, leaving the defenders only two choices: stand and fight, dying to the last in the process, or flee with whatever they can salvage, leaving their stricken world to the Orks.
Orks have not only survived, they have prospered and are more numerous than even the myriad trillions of individuals who comprise Humanity across the galaxy. This is due in part to how Imperial scholars now believe that 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 greenskin 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 unleash their WAAAGH!s
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 alien 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 once they are on a planet is through a planetary Exterminatus action.
Although they possess a similar physiology to the Orks, Gretchin are not as strong or as tough as their larger brethren.
To compensate for this, the Gretchin possess an abundance of low cunning. Commonly known as "Grots" to the Orks, Gretchin are even more numerous than Orks. They scurry around the larger greenskins on scrawny legs, and their grasping fingers snatch and steal from the unwary.
Gretchin have large, bulbous heads and wide tattered ears that flatten against their bald pates when they are afraid (which is most of the time). Sharp fangs fill their jaws, ever-ready to be sunk into the flesh of the weak or infirm, and malice gleams in their eyes whenever there is an opportunity for violence.
The Grots' large and protruberant noses give them an excellent sense of smell, their ears afford them a similarly advanced sense of hearing, and their eyesight is acute even in the dark.
These traits, combined with a heightened instinct for self-preservation, mean that Gretchin can not only survive but even thrive in a society dominated by vicious predators.
Some Grots have their survival instinct honed to such a degree that they may possess a rudimentary sixth sense, or are naturally far more fortunate than they have any right to be.
The Grots improve their chances of survival further by exhibiting a fawning and obsequious nature to their Ork masters. Though braver Gretchin will pull faces and make rude gestures behind the backs of the bigger greenskins, few are stupid enough to risk doing so openly.
Grots are fast learners and quick to spot an opportunity, meaning that many wind up as assistants or servants to more important Orks like Mekboyz or Nobz. Others will simply attempt to stay out of the Orks' way, whole groups of Grots fashioning hideouts amid scrap piles or warrens of tunnels too constricted for Orks to squeeze their bulk down.
On his own, a single Gretchin poses little threat to a human-sized adversary. However, if there is one quality the Grots have in abundance, it is quantity. On the field of battle the Gretchin advance in great mobs, firing volleys of scavenged ammunition from their poor-quality weapons. They then dive upon the fallen and tear them apart in their scrabbling haste to loot the corpses.
Even the most accomplished enemy warriors have found their arrogance punctured when cornered by an entire mob of shrieking Grots. They can prove especially dangerous during naval boarding actions, for while their Ork masters tie up a ship's defenders in furious point-blank battles, the wily Grots will avoid such bloody fighting like the plague.
Instead, knots of Gretchin squirm through air-ducts, sabotage or loot vital machine-components, and overwhelm triage stations full of helpless, wounded combatants. When Grots wreck a starship's Void Shield generatorum, or burst from the ducts to overrun a vital chokepoint mid-battle, the foe learn to respect these nasty little greenskins in a hurry.
In the Gorkamorka supplementary setting, it was revealed that Snotlings are actually young Gretchin. The Gretchin originally were used in swarms as in Warhammer Fantasy and could even be fired out of a Shokk Attack Gun, but vanished from 41st Millennium battlefields with the advent of the 3rd Edition of the game.
However, it is worth noting that the game Dawn of War, which is part of Warhammer 40,000 official continuity, features Gretchins as base builder/scout units.
Snotlings, or "Snots", look like tiny, immature Gretchin. Their scrawny limbs are too small to bear weapons larger or more complicated than shards of broken glass or chunks of scrap.
Lacking the violent tendencies of their larger kin, they make for very poor soldiers indeed, and are predominantly kept as little more than pets for their Ork masters, although they make excellent ammunition for the strange weapon the Orks call the Shokk Attack Gun.
Nonetheless the Snots do perform a valuable function in Orkoid society. Snotlings cultivate the great patches of fungi that spring up around Ork settlements. In this way the Snotlings provide food, drink and medicine for the rest of the greenskin race.
Snotlings also look after the ferocious Squiggly Beasts that live in the Ork cesspits (known to the Orks as "the drops"). Their natural affinity with these life forms is far greater than that of other greenskins. Helpfully, this means that in a day only a few dozen Snotling attendants will be devoured alive by their ravenous charges.
The Snotling populations that spring up around Ork settlements are monitored and cultivated by a caste of Orks known as Runtherdz. These grizzled and merciless slavers use a variety of methods to bully their charges into a state of anxious obedience, not least of which are the much feared Grot-prod and the ferocious Squig-hound.
Squigs, or Squiggly Beasts, are an integral part of the mobile and incredibly aggressive Orkoid ecosystem. The Squigs eat the refuse of the Orks (not to mention local plants, animals and quite often each other) and the Orks eat the Squigs. There are many forms of Squig and each variety incorporates many subtypes.
Mekboyz squeeze viscous black lubricant from the snouts of Oil Squigs to keep gears and gubbinz working. Painboyz use Mending Squigs to stitch wounds shut or suture limbs back in place. Eating Squigs, Parasite Hunting Squigs, Bag Squigs, even rare and bizarre sets of musical squigpipes, all have their uses.
Yet perhaps the most infamous Squigs are the ravenous Face-biters, which the Orks use in the same way humans might use attack dogs. Little more than a snapping, drooling mouth on legs, these ferocious beasties are a sign of status and many an Ork Warlord keeps a pet Face-biter Squig that dines upon those who have fallen out of favour with him.
Other equally sharp-toothed Squigs grow and breed in the sprawling cesspits of the Ork settlements, lending an air of unpredictability and excitement to even the briefest trip to the drops.
"The Orks are the pinnacle of creation. For them, the great struggle is won. They have evolved a society which knows no stress or angst. Who are we to judge them? We Aeldari who have failed, or the humans, on the road to ruin in their turn? And why? Because we sought answers to questions that an Ork wouldn't even bother to ask! We see a culture that is strong and despise it as crude."
- — Uthan the Perverse, Aeldari Philosopher
Orks have but one philosophy: might makes right. They believe that the weak must suffer the rule of the strong. Over the countless millennia in which the greenskins have waged their wars, not one Ork has ever doubted this for a single moment.
This unshakeable self-belief is perhaps the most dangerous quality of the Orks, for they will never give up until they plunge the galaxy into an eternal war. The Orks rule their barbaric civilisation with an iron fist.
Ugly and violent creatures, they are the dominant life form of a race that includes the smaller Gretchin and Snotling sub-species.
Orks see themselves as the toughest race in the galaxy, mightier by far than Humans, Aeldari or T'au. To prove their point, the Orks are more than willing to fight and kill everything that crosses their path.
One of the greatest strengths the Orks possess is the simplicity with which they approach their existence. For an Ork, the universe is an incredibly straightforward place, free of the angst and worry that plagues most other races.
Orks do not try to influence their own destiny and get frustrated when plans do not work out as expected. They do not look for something to blame (except perhaps the nearest Gretchin or a hated rival tribe) and certainly do not reflect on weaknesses in their own way of doing things.
They just try again a different way, usually because they have forgotten how they did it the last time. Thus the Orks make remarkable progress by trial and error, without counting the cost.
Meanwhile other intelligent races steeped in high-flown philosophy fall into the same traps time and again, doomed to stagnate and decline, unless of course they are first conquered by the Orks.
So long as the average Ork has someone to fight, someone bigger than him to tell him who to kill next, and someone smaller than him to beat up, he will know contentment. Orks don't tend to go hungry as they can eat virtually anything, even Grots, Snotlings or one another at a pinch.
Greenskins have no concept of cannibalism or the moral outrage that accompanies it, as it is only natural that the bigger Orks should live at the cost of those weaker than themselves. With war and killing as their only real motivators, most Orks have little interest in gathering material wealth or luxuries.
The one exception to this is a desire to possess ever bigger and louder weapons and vehicles. An Ork will go to almost any lengths to get his hands on a louder Shoota or faster Warbuggy. He will obsess over its acquisition until the exact moment he has it, at which point his eye will stray to something even bigger...
Barbaric and savage, the greenskins spread across the galaxy like a viridian stain. They plague the battlefields of the late 41st Millennium in great numbers, overruning any who stand before them in a torrent of bloodshed and usually mindless violence.
An Ork WAAAGH! is war on an apocalyptic scale. Orks beyond counting swarm from one world to the next. Whole civilisations are exterminated and defenders' armies laid to waste as the Orks plough ever onward in an unstoppable tide. Orks need battle just as humans need food and drink.
Due to their warlike nature, they constantly fight amongst themselves, or launch piratical raids upon nearby enemies. Such conflicts tend to be small-scale or localised. They never really develop beyond random outbursts of violence and looting.
However, Ork populations can reach a critical mass that leads to a full-scale planetary migration. This is known as a WAAAGH!, a crusade of pure aggression that crashes through star systems in an orgy of violence.
Ork behaviour 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 theorised 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 "Motive Force" inhabits all technology, and that these Machine Spirits serve 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 Aeldari 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 tribes 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!
With each victory, the new warboss' legend grows, and more followers flock to his blood-soaked banner. As he fights to retain command of his ever-growing horde against a constant stream of challengers, he will subsume the armies of those he conquers into his own tribe, and as news of his prowess spreads ever further, the trickle of reinforcements becomes a green flood.
Drawn in by the warboss' reputation, Ork Meks will start to collaborate on more and more outlandish projects as the WAAAGH! grows, building even larger war machines and gunz. Smoke-belching mobile fortresses and titanic engines of battle are cobbled together out of nothing more than scrap metal and heavy-handed enthusiasm.
Gorkanauts and Morkanauts appear in growing numbers, their pilots seeking out the WAAAGH! with a feverish intensity. Whole mobs of Mekboyz raise towering scaffolds within which Stompas and even Gargants start to take shape, these mighty effigies igniting some primitive drive within the minds of the Orks who see them, causing the flow of WAAAGH! energy they subconciously generate to reach fever pitch.
At this stage there is still much rivalry between the various klanz and tribes, and each will strive to outdo all the others in terms of the sheer destruction that can be wrought by its war machines. Those Meks without the resources to construct Stompas and Gargants will instead create mobs of clanking Killa Kans and Deff Dreads, or Battlewagons from which the warbosses can lead their armies to war.
Soon the emergent WAAAGH! begins to span worlds instead of just continents. Entire native populations are forced into slavery merely to manufacture ammunition for the horde's guns. Crude factory-ships and war hulks are bashed into shape, the better to transport the Ork armies into battle.
When the lure of imminent bloodshed can be resisted no more, the deadly fervour washing through the horde overflows. Teeming Ork armies mass and swell with a roar like savage oceans, and the skies fill with crude and bulky Ork space-faring vessels.
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 klanz 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.
The grand musters that precede a full-scale Ork invasion are an awe-inspiring sight. As the Orks gather for battle, smoke from thousands of oily engines fills the sky.
The ground trembles beneath great wheels, tracks and the thunderous strides of towering Gargants. Armies of greenskins stretch across the horizon, raising their banners high to proclaim their reputations and allegiances, their warcries audible for miles around. Looming Gorkanauts and Morkanauts, bizarre artillery pieces and force field generators chug, clank and buzz amidst the green throng.
Armadas of rusty vehicles raise roiling thunderheads of dust into the atmosphere, whilst Dakkajets roar overhead leaving contrails of filthy smoke. Speed Freeks rev their engines, and the Boyz fire their guns into the air as a carpet of Gretchin spreads out in front of the army.
Eventually, the battlefield is barely visible beneath the endless sea of green, each Ork warrior certain that the ground will soon be stained red. Here the power of the WAAAGH! is palpable as a wave of raw aggression, and the Orks believe Gork and Mork are gazing eagerly down from the Warp to see how their warriors will fare. Then as one, with an almighty bellow, the Orks surge forwards, and another world is plunged into unending war.
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.
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.
The Great WAAAGH!
It is generally thought within the Imperium that over the last Terran century or so, the Orks have become even more aggressive and warlike than ever before, and the numbers of WAAAGH!s being recorded in all five Segmentums is increasing.
The Imperium has long theorised that the greenskin race possesses low-level background psychic abilities, a kind of gestalt Warp resonance. Orks, of course, neither know nor care about such things. Yet as Warpspace becomes more turbulent, so the Orks too are becoming ever more belligerent.
This rise in new WAAAGH!s has been most notable around Warp space anomalies and regions plagued by Warp Storms, with hundreds of greenskin invasion forces emerging from these areas every Terran year.
Members of the Inquisition's Ordo Xenos have noticed a trend in the translations of glyph-sequences found in Ork camps, which speak increasingly of "da call of da gods," a phenomenon felt most keenly by the nomadic Gorkanaut and Morkanaut pilots.
The emergence of Weirdboyz seems to be increasing exponentially also, with many claiming that they see visions sent by Gork and Mork. On thousands of worlds the ominous silhouettes of Gargants rise against the war-torn skies.
The Orks' foes can only watch in horrified bewilderment as the phenomenon known as the Great WAAAGH! sees the greenskins flooding across the galaxy in numbers never before witnessed, slaughtering everything in their path as they go.
Orks gather into various levels of organisation. 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").
The largest Ork 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 warboss known as a warlord when he raises a WAAAGH!
The Orks are a powerful force in the universe. A highly prolific species, they are able to expand and prosper effortlessly in comparison to the other civilisations who struggle even for simple survival.
The Ork character traits have a reflection in the Warp just like the impulses and emotions of Humanity and the Aeldari. These traits are made manifest in the belligerent Ork gods known as Gork and Mork.
The Orks say that Gork is brutal but kunnin', and Mork is kunnin' but brutal. Gork and Mork are divine powerhouses, deities so strong they are never truly defeated. They simply shrug off the attacks of other gods with a raucous laugh.
Gork grins, bares his long teeth, and lands a mighty blow on his adversary's head with a spiked club the size of a comet. Mork, always the sneaky one, waits until his foe isn't looking before clobbering him with a low blow.
An idea of the appearance of the Ork gods can be gained from looking at Ork Gargants and Stompas, mighty war machines constructed in the image of Gork (or possibly Mork). The Mekboyz create these titanic engines of war to reflect the essence of Orkiness in mechanical form, and as such they serve as potent religious idols.
To the Orks, these clanking behemoths behave very much like their gods, lumbering about and leaving a trail of devastation in their wake. They go where they please, and never shun a fight.
The aspects of Gork and Mork are likewise evoked by the Gorkanaut and Morkanaut. These huge armoured war suits are intended as a tribute to and imitation of their chosen god all in one, and their pilots are frequently gripped by visions of Gork (or possibly Mork) urging them on during the heat of battle.
As the apocalyptic designs of the Chaos Gods approach fruition, the immaterial realm is roused to ever greater fury. So it is that Gork and Mork fight all the harder against the daemonic tides washing about their feet.
The Ork gods' joyful battle-lust echoes into the material universe, their roars clearer to the greenskins with every passing day. The Weirdboyz claim that Gork and Mork are calling all their children to the last mighty battle, for the Great WAAAGH!, the everlasting war, is upon them.
Also, there has been some mention of Yellerz (the Ork version of a priest) although they are not seen in-game. In earlier versions of Warhammer 40,000, a third god, Bork, appeared, but has since been dropped from the lore.
Orks generally tend to distinguish between Gork and Mork as one being mean, and the other being cunning. Some religious divisions lie in determining who is meaner; another factor preventing Orks from being united.
It is doubtful if the distinction between Gork and Mork means anything in Ork kultur, as long as it allows them to bash something. Perhaps Gork and Mork are actually truly only one god with two guises, the twin halves of the Ork psyche.
Orks use their teeth -- or rather, their "teef" -- as a form of greenskin currency. This is quite a natural solution to inflation and income support, as Orks go through teeth in a similar manner to Terran 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 Warbuggy.
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.
Orks have their own, simple language which they are able to speak from "birth," but many also generally speak a debased and primitive form of Imperial Low Gothic, with mangled pronunciation and more than a few "Ork" words mixed in.
Therefore, it is possible for Orks and Humans to communicate (although rarely easy). Most Orks communicate through this bastardised form of Low Gothic, although their pronunciation and grasp of grammar is uniformly atrocious.
The Ork written language is a crude glyphic script. The core of the script is composed of glyphs that indicate klan, common Ork concepts, and elements of Ork names.
This is augmented by phonetic symbols which can be used to write most Ork words, along with any alien names or words.
Ork technology appears ramshackle and slapped-together (it often is), but is as potent as any weapons used by the Imperium or other intelligent species.
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 combat walker), or the fastest Warbuggy, and also mainly by the fact that in many cases the only reason it works at all is because of the Orks' latent psychic powers.
Therefore, Ork technology is not uniform, lending Ork warbands a cobbled-together, slapdash and random appearance.
Ork mechanics and engineers ("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 bionic ("bionik") replacements, organ 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 the Shoota/Skorcha, Shoota/Rokkit Launcha and the twin-linked Shoota.They also make use of Stikkbombz, 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 (i.e., "lucky-to-be-alive") Mekboy, called a Big Mek, which creates a tunnel through the Warp itself, (which the Orks have put to good use by firing Snotlings, and occasionally the Big Mek firing the gun, at the enemy), the downright dangerous Deffkoptas (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").
Forces of the Orks
Orks are a barbaric alien race that infest the galaxy from end to end. No matter how far Mankind has travelled, from the galactic core to the blackest depths of deep space, they have found that Orks are either already there waiting for them or will be arriving there soon to launch their characteristic attacks.
Orks are brutal, green-skinned creatures that have more in common with a great savage ape than a man. They delight in carnage and so great is their need for conflict that, without a more obvious opponent, the Orks will indulge in fighting bloody wars with themselves, just to ensure they get a good scrap. Over the long millennia, the Orks have proven to be the most prolific threat to the Imperium.
They can be found in countless warbands, klanz and tribes spread across many planets, even forming their own volatile stellar empires. They are so numerous that, if the disparate groups were ever to cease hostilities with their own kind, the Orks would be able to sweep over the galaxy, smashing everything as they passed.
Size dominates Ork society and the largest of their kind invariably rise to lead them to battle. On occasion an especially hulking Ork Warboss or Warlord, a violent visionary who can inspire his thick-skulled comrades like no other, will conquer several rival groups, forming the survivors into a massive single army. What follows is known by that crude race as a WAAAGH! -- part invasion and part holy war.
During such times, the greenskins will put aside their differences and rival klanz work together. It is not just rare inter-species cooperation that happens during a WAAAGH!, but other behavioral oddities occur as well. Large conglomerations of Orks generate mental energies, their bloodlust echoing through the Warp to act as a beacon -- summoning more greenskins to join the cause. Orks many star systems distant become further agitated, multiplying in numbers and attacking anything they can reach at a redoubled rate.
Ork Mekboyz, as they call their engineer-builders, begin the construction of larger works of battle -- towering Stompas or, if there is a large enough stockpile of parts, even a mighty Gargant. Such creations are great mechanical effigies of the Ork gods, laden with enough guns and missiles to flatten a city. Mekboyz also cobble together crude spacecraft, so that the hordes of warriors and massive war machines can rush off to join the growing movement, taking part in the ensuing battles.
Ork WAAAGHs! grow in size so long as they have something to conquer. Success breeds further success, and every Ork victory calls yet more greenskins to join the cause. They can mass in such overwhelming numbers that nothing can stop them. Even Fortress Worlds or Space Marine homeworlds are overrun, the Orks blasting them apart to fuel the WAAAGH! further. Of course, it takes a dominant Ork to hold a WAAAGH! together, as the many different factions are always prone to break apart at any time.
A large and powerful Ork can lead a WAAAGH! for a while, but to string together many victories and to find ways to get the massed infantry and machines of war into contact with worthy targets to smash takes an Ork with cunning as well. Luckily, the combination of brawn and brains is rare amongst Orks, although when such a leader rises, the whole galaxy trembles. Some of the darkest moments in the history of the Imperium have been the result of massive Ork WAAAGH!s. The Warboss known only as the Beast nearly took over the galaxy, and it can only be a matter of time before another apocalyptic greenskin rising takes place.
Ork warbands infest the galaxy from end to end, and they vary greatly in size and composition. Wherever they come from, they will inevitably include the warboss that united them in the first place, a hard core of his most dangerous warriors, and a teeming mass of Boyz drawn to the promise of carnage.
Orks draw great strength from their numbers, the psychic WAAAGH! energy that courses through each greenskin amplified by the bellowing mass of battle-hungry maniacs charging towards the enemy lines.
This mysterious force can be harnessed by a canny warboss to drive his ladz into a killing frenzy at a critical moment, driving them forward in a ground-pounding stampede that can overrun the most stubborn of enemy gunlines.
Even the Gretchin brave enough to accompany the Boyz try to make themselves heard over the deafening volume of the Ork battlecry; they give it their best shot, biting and scrabbling at the enemy's weak spots in their eagerness for the kill.
Needless to say the true danger comes from the charging Orks themselves, a thunderous mass of muscle, metal and bad attitude that slams headlong into the foe before breaking apart to hack and slay with joyous abandon.
An Ork warlord is an exceptionally powerful Ork warboss who is particularly powerful, wealthy, and successful on the field of battle. In taking on this title, the warlord consolidates power through cunning, ruthlessness and sheer force of will, bringing together disparate Ork tribes, mobs, and warbands under his banner to serve some greater purpose.
Usually, this greater purpose is simply to sweep through star systems to fight as many fights as they can and to collect as much treasure as they can carry.
Occasionally, however, such an army turns into a fullblown WAAAGH!, numbering in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of Orks, and can pose a grave threat to even the most strongly fortified sector or Segmentum.
Army upon army will flock to the banner of a prominent Warlord until he commands a horde of terrifying size. Ork Warlords often command forces so large that they can wipe out entire armies and conquer whole star systems with the greenskinned fury of a WAAAGH! They can successfully face entire Imperial armies, the hordes of the forces of Chaos, or any other military force in the galaxy.
An Ork warboss is the strongest, toughest, loudest and most violent Ork in his tribe. These massive greenskins seize the lion's share of the loot from every fight, meaning they are usually armed and armoured better than any of their followers.
Warbosses are not above making a swift and messy example of anyone whose kit seems shinier or more killy than theirs. They wield absolute authority over their tribe, for greenskin society is based on the idea that might makes right. While some warbosses show glimmerings of intelligence, all are at their best when busting heads and bellowing until things are done their way.
A warboss will generally be able to get the ladz to battle in some semblance of order, but strategy and tactical thinking are not usually their strong suits. Rather, a warboss is a mountain of muscle and violence who will invariably lead from the front, rampaging through the enemy ranks with Shoota blazing and Power Klaw swinging wildly.
Especially successful warbosses will continue to grow in both stature and power with every war they win. Eventually, the greatest of them will come to lead a WAAAGH! of apocalyptic size. All other starfaring races dread the rise of such a warlord, for he will command a horde capable of drowning whole star systems in war and causing the deaths of billions.
Especially talented or popular Mekboyz will soon attract a following, lording it over a growing gang of underlings. A Mek with this much clout is referred to as a Big Mek, and can prove indispensable to the local Warboss with his knowledge of Shokk Attack Guns, force field technology, and Tellyporta rigs. Yet Warbosses don't willingly suffer rivals. If a Big Mek gets too big for his boots, he will soon find himself at the business end of a very large gun (probably the one he built for the Boss a couple of weeks earlier). In such circumstances, most Big Meks will choose exile. Such Freebooter Big Meks either wind up hiring out their skills to a new tribe, or else building their very own Warband replete with clanking, roaring walkers, seething mobs of Lootas and Burna Boyz, and ramshackle masses of Battlewagons and artillery.
Ork Meks go to war festooned in clanking, smoke-belching contraptions of their own design. These eccentric inventions confound friend and foe alike, as their purpose often remains a mystery until the big red button gets pushed. When triggered, a Mek's latest invention might fire blasts of energy that immolate swathes of the enemy, or project wobbling bubbles of force to protect nearby Boyz from harm. On the other hand, it might belch showers of sparks before engulfing its operator and everyone nearby in a roiling ball of flame.
Yet occasional malfunctions are forgiven by the Orks, for even when a Mekboy's temperamental new wotsit does decide to explode, at least it gives the Boyz a good laugh. Without Mekboyz, Orks would lack for light, power, transport, and even guns (they lack for sanitation regardless, but that's another story). Whenever an Ork needs something building, be it a shiny new Shoota or the Boss' new ride, they go straight to the Meks. Furthermore, an Ork with teef to spare will take existing kit to the nearest Mek in the hope of having damage repaired, and maybe some kustomising done. It is a rare day that the customer gets what he asked for, but whatever the Mek turns out will normally be fairly flash all the same.
Often referred to by other Orks as Doks, Painboyz are the greenskin equivalent of both surgeons and dentists. They are driven to perform exploratory surgery on living creatures just as Mekboyz are driven to fiddle with machinery. Devious, deranged, and usually covered in gore from head to toe, Painboyz are a menace to friend and foe alike. These sadistic butchers grin through every crunch, squelch and spurt as they ply their trade amid the fires of battle. Painboyz prefer their victims conscious so they can make sure they're still alive. Yet Ork physiology is incredibly durable, their pain threshold high enough that all but the most grievously invasive procedures can be survived. Painboyz' brutal liberties are normally overlooked, especially when a Dok successfully re-staples a prominent Nob's head mid-battle, or furnishes the Warboss with a brand new flame-throwing bionik arm.
Weirdboyz are the most psychically attuned of all Orks. They are capable of vomiting blasts of Warp energy that can reduce foes to molten goop in seconds. Weirdboyz unconsciously channel the background mental emissions of nearby greenskins. Even a close-run squigeating contest between two rowdy Boyz will cause waves of energy to pulse through any Weirdboy that strays near. Unless the Weirdboy finds some way to release this pent-up energy his head will explode, detonating the heads of nearby Orks in the bargain. This can prove highly inconvenient. Any Weirdboy lucky enough to reach maturity will have learned how to release his powers in a searing energy blast or destructive wave. Though this makes the Weirdboy feel fantastic, it can result in a messy death for anyone in his vicinity. Some Weirdboyz, known as "Warpheads," become addicted to the thrill of spewing WAAAGH! energy, actively seeking out the deadly rush of battle. However, for most Weirdboyz the battlefield is a miserable and dangerous place. They must normally be dragged there by burly minders, pointed unceremoniously at the foe, and forced to spew mighty bolts of ectoplasmic energy in their general direction. This affords the Weirdboy a few moments of blissful relief before the whole process begins again.
The richest and most battle-hardened Nobz can become Meganobz by paying a Mek to build them a suit of Mega Armour. Piston-driven and covered in enough protective plating to turn its wearer into a walking tank, this armour is incredibly expensive. Yet it serves as the ultimate greenskin status symbol. Though other Orks mock the Meganobz for wearing so much armour, only the dullest would do so within earshot. Even a direct hit from a tank round is unlikely to do more than knock a Meganob over, worsening his already foul temper. For many, the only chance of surviving an encounter with an angry Meganob is to outrun him. To counteract this weakness, many Meganobz roar into battle aboard armoured Battlewagons. This saves time that would be wasted slogging across the battlefield, and helps the Meganobz get stuck straight into combat.
Second in status only to the tribe's Warboss, Ork Nobz are big, bad and brutal. Serving as a crude greenskin ruling class, the Nobz are never above reminding the Boyz who's in charge by making a few bloody examples. This could involve hacking up some suitably impressive foes, or knocking a few fractious Boyz' blocks off. The Nobz aren't too fussy, just so long as it gets the message across. Whether clustered in a menacing mob around their Warboss, or lording it over the Boyz, Nobz are a force to be reckoned with. Their armour is usually festooned with kill-trophies, their flesh criss-crossed with impressive scars, earned in pit-fights or while killing their way through strings of brutal wars. Some Nobz even take to the field astride monstrous Warbikes, roaring through the enemy ranks like blood-soaked battering rams covered in guns.
Burna Boyz are dedicated arsonists all, advancing on the foe amid gouts of billowing flame. They love nothing more than burning other peoples' stuff, and the owners too if they can get them. These lunatics will set light to anything or anyone for the simple joy of watching them "do the burny dance." They can prove utterly lethal to tightly packed or lightly armoured infantry, the roiling blasts of their Burnas flushing their victims out of cover amid the sizzle.
Where most Orks love getting stuck in with a minimum of muckin' about, Kommandoz prefer to spread panic and fear behind enemy lines. They embody the low cunning common in most Orks, but taken to the extreme. A Kommando would rather sneak up on his victim and stick a dagger through their ribs than just run at them yelling. There can be no greater satisfaction to these Orks than the thump of exploding ammunition dumps or the screams of enemies as Stikkbombs clatter into their barracks. They especially savour the disbelieving expressions of victims caught in the jaws of a perfect Ork ambush. Festooned with bombs, guns and blades these sneaky gits lurk in the shadows until their boss gives the signal, at which point the Kommandoz explode from cover, howling bloody murder and hacking their shocked victims to bits in the name of Gork and Mork.
Tankbustas are Orks who have become completely addicted to the thrill of destroying the armoured fighting vehicles of their foes. Their desire to hunt down and slay the biggest, most dangerous tanks they can find echoes the primal instinct of the big game hunter. Indeed, as primitive hunters might claim a gruesome trophy from a fallen beast to better brag of its demise, so Tankbustas will strip the choicest loot from the wreckage of a ruined tank. Colourful hull plates are hammered into crude armour, internal gubbins worn proudly as warrior jewellery, and the flayed skins of crewmen are draped round the Tankbustas' shoulders like pelts. They equip themselves extensively for dealing death to enemy armour –- their whistling volleys of Rokkits, and lethal Tankbusta Bomb assaults can spell annihilation for even the heaviest enemy tanks.
Mobs of Ork Warbikers (or Bikerboyz) race into battle at suicidal speeds, exhausts belching greasy clouds of smoke. As they hurtle toward the enemy ranks, the Warbikers fill the air with a murderous storm of shots from their blazing Dakkaguns. Surrounded by billowing clouds of smoke and dust, the Warbikers are protected from the worst of the enemy's return fire -- by the time the Bikerboyz thunder out of this swirling cloud, they are all but on top of the foe. Wide-eyed and panting behind goggles and dust-masks, most Warbikers' need for speed is such that they can barely stand to stay still for five solar minutes. The more canny Warbosses use this to their advantage, sending their Warbikers to trigger traps and ambushes prematurely, to run down enemy supply convoys, or to soften up the foes’ defences before the rest of the tribe gives them a good stomping.
Ork Flyboyz are part of a sub-culture of Ork Speed Freeks whose need for speed far outstrips their ground-based Ork brethren. Although most Orks prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground, there are a few unstable individuals amongst the tribes that developed a craving to fly through the air like a bird. They take to the sky in search of ever-greater exhilaration. The afflicted Ork seeks great thrills from speed and danger, driving or, in extreme cases, flying faster and faster. Those afflicted are called Speed Freeks, and regardless of their original klan, invariably belong to the Kult of Speed. The majority of Speed Kultists come from the Evil Sunz klan, but not all, and the mania can seize any Ork. Few "victims" actually become pilots, because most Orks have a natural distrust of flying, and much prefer to remain with their feet solidly upon the ground, where the "proppa' scrapin" is done.
Young and rebellious, Stormboyz strive to stand out amongst the anarchy of Ork society. They studiously ape authority figures, practise things until they can do them right, and openly polish their boots in public places, much to the disgust of their elders. Yet no matter how much they fly in the face of greenskin values with their wilful forward planning and blatant regard for the rules, Stormboyz are still Orks. They live to get stuck into a good, bloody fight as quickly as they can. To this end, the Stormboy Korps strikes deals with local Meks to equip them with large, noisy Rokkit Packs. These they use to propel themselves toward the foe amid resounding (and suspiciously well synchronised) bellows of "WAAAGH!", striking the enemy line like ballistic missiles and hacking apart anything unlucky enough to find itself in arm's reach.
Orks tend toward light, fast vehicles with big guns that can be cobbled together from any junk to hand. Most are crewed by a mad-eyed Ork driver and cackling gunner, with perhaps a Grot or two hanging on for dear life. What they lack in survivability, these crude vehicles make up for in speed, numbers and dakka. They encircle the enemy in speeding squadrons, guns blazing wildly while their crew throw their heads back and howl like Madboyz. Most consist of little more than chassis, engine, gubbins and a sizeable gun, and are capable of an impressive turn of speed. For traversing dense terrain, some Warbuggies will be converted into the half-track Wartrakks, while the addition of a jutting flamethrower, some sloshing fuel tanks and a crew of slavering Burna Boyz transforms a Warbuggy into the much feared Skorcha.
Deffkoptas buzz across the battlefield, weaving through the sky on a trail of foul-smelling smoke. As they swoop low over the heads of the enemy, the fiendish Ork flying machines fire punishing salvoes of shot, rokkits and bomms into their midst. Leaving flames and blood-splattered craters in their wake, the Deffkoptas jink erratically away, already hunting for their next victims. Deffkoptas are able to navigate over the roughest terrain in order to hunt down the foe. Many get blown out of the sky when first sighted thanks to overconfidence on the part of their warlike pilots. Yet those Orks with a real knack for the job have the self-control to locate the enemy then lead the rest of the Boyz down on top of them. These rare greenskins take pride in finding the best scraps for the rest of the tribe to get stuck into, before diving down to join the fun.
Streaking into battle through war-scorched skies, a Dakkajet's massive thruster leaves an oily contrail of black smoke in its wake even as its guns spit streams of bullets at the foe. Though not as nimble as the aircraft of some other starfaring races, Dakkajets are capable of an incredible turn of speed that makes them a fearsome enemy to face in aerial combat. It also helps that Orks fly like complete headcases. Dakkajet pilots are great believers in quantity over quality. As such they ensure the Meks strap every gun available to the fuselages of their jet. In the heat of battle, while corkscrewing madly through formations of enemy aircraft, Dakkajet pilots will cut loose with an absolute storm of fire. Some have even been known to smash out their cockpit glass with the butts of their Sluggas in order to add their own pistol-fire to that of their plane. All of this makes Dakkajet pilots unusually effective shots; with so many bullets fired, some are bound to hit the target.
Burna-Bommers are an inevitable by-product of the Orks' love for speed, fire, and the desire to combine these things while killing something. Strapped with as many incendiary bombs and rockets as is physically feasible, Burna-bommers streak low over the battlefield, raining conflagrant death down on tightly-packed enemy infantry. The wild-eyed Burna Boy pilots of these craft like to watch their targets burn "up close and crispy". As such they regularly return to base with their undercarriage streaked with gore and scorch marks. Burna-Bommers sometimes carry Skorcha Missiles, making them even more deadly. These corkscrewing missiles make a mockery of fortifications, their warheads bursting in conflagatory showers that drive their victims from cover, or else cook them alive within defences turned death-traps.
Even on their best day, the average Ork Flyboy has little patience for trajectories, payload arcs, and all the other "boring bits" of high-altitude bombing. Blitza-Bommer pilots instead ensure their massively unsubtle Boom Bombs land more-or-less on target by simply dropping them from point-blank range. To pull this off, Blitza-Bommer pilots throw their aircraft into screaming nose-dives, their terrified Grot bombardiers pulling the bomm-release lever at the last possible moment. After a loud clank and some alarming shuddering, the bomb plunges groundward and explodes more-or-less on target with a thunderous bang. With his payload away, the cackling Flyboy (hopefully) pulls up. These manoeuvres don't always end well, and most Grots have to be forcibly nailed into their bombardier’s nests to avoid them bailing out before take-off.
Ork Boyz are the heart and soul of any Warband. They charge into battle in a great mass, crashing into the enemy like a green landslide. Bellowing with the joy of battle, mobs of Ork Boyz excel at close quarters where they can hack, bludgeon and stamp their foes into bloody ruin. The average Ork Boy is mean-tempered and exceptionally tough, more than compensating for his lack of intellect with a talent for violence. Though an Ork can cause plenty of damage with his fists, feet and forehead, it takes a lot to separate one from his favourite Choppa. When it comes to firearms, Orks love simplicity. They value noise and sheer weight of fire though so long as a gun can double as a decent club, its owner is usually happy enough. Some greenskins will even get their hands on crude heavy weapons with which they can cause absolute havoc.
An Ork Runtherd (also known as a Slaver), is an Ork Oddboy who has the uncharacteristic patience to take care of his klan 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 Runtherds 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 Orkoïds as diversion, living shields or living mine detectors for the other bands of Boyz.
Gretchin -- or Grots -- flood across the battlefield in great squabbling mobs. Individually feeble and cowardly, Grots can nonetheless prove surprisingly dangerous in large numbers. Herded squealing toward the foe by the irascible old bullies known as Runtherdz, the tiny greenskins are made to fight tooth and claw for their pitiful lives. When forced to fight or die, a sizeable mob of Grots can overrun even a well-prepared foe, clawing and biting frantically in their desperation to stay alive. Though not especially dangerous up-close, the average Gretchin is more than capable of out-shooting his Ork masters. This talent goes largely to waste, of course, as no self-respecting Ork is going to let some runty Grot strut about with a decent Shoota. However, a massed volley with their so-called Grot Blastas can cause a surprising amount of bloodshed.
A Gorkanaut is everything an Ork aspires to be. Massive, tough, loud and destructive, its blocky silhouette looms menacingly over friend and foe alike. From its hulking, Orkoid shape to the brutal weapons it wields, a Gorkanaut epitomises the unsubtle brutality of Gork and his no-nonsense way of war. Every Gorkanaut is essentially a massively overbuilt armoured war suit bristling with dakka and packing an armoured claw the size of a Killa Kan. They are ideal for a lone Nob who wants to make a name for himself, serving as weapon, transport and (rather cramped and smelly) home all in one. Gorkanauts have become especially popular in recent years as more greenskins are seized by visions of the Great WAAAGH! and find themselves compelled to pilot these mighty engines into battle, trampling their panicked foes as they go.
Where Gorkanauts epitomise the unsubtle brutality of almighty Gork, a Morkanaut displays all the lethal kunnin' of equally almighty Mork. Every Morkanaut is personally built and piloted by a skilled Mekboy, and packs a wild array of energy weapons and glowy gubbinz from the Mek's own workshop. Morkanaut pilots -- like their Gorkanaut equivalents -- are usually outcasts. Some feel the call of the Great WAAAGH! and set out to cause carnage in the name of Mork, while others hunt like (violent) magpies for the technological secrets of other starfaring races. A rare few, known as Badmeks, will be ejected forcibly from their tribe for crimes such as using the local Weirdboy tower for target practise. These rogue pilots are especially dangerous, and will often begin their wanderings by flattening their former tribe's settlement with their Morkanaut's guns.
Deff Dreads are clanking monstrosities that behave in battle much like enormous metal Orks. They clank toward the foe, waving piston-driven arms that end in saws, claws and really big guns. Lurching along as fast as their hydraulic legs will carry them, their bellows of "WAAAGH!" echo from in-built speakers at earsplitting volume. Though all this is hugely entertaining for Orks fighting alongside a Deff Dread, for enemies it is utterly terrifying. Deff Dreads epitomise the unstoppable ferocity of the greenskin species, and the damage they can do is jaw-dropping. The brutal implantation surgery and subsequent claustrophobia tends to drive Deff Dread pilots a bit bonkers. They will take any opportunity to vent their frustrations violently upon the foe, if only to make themselves feel better about having to eat everything through a straw.
Killa Kans bear many similarities to Deff Dreads, with their snipping klawz, chugging heavy weapons, and lumpy metal hulls. Yet in place of an enraged Ork, Killa Kans are piloted by cackling Grots. Though individually smaller than a Deff Dread, Killa Kans charge toward the enemy lines in jostling mobs of riveted iron and roaring saw-blades. The Killa Kans' Grot pilots put their relative skill with firearms to good use, blowing the zog out of anything unlucky enough to cross their path. Despite being hardwired into a ten-foot tall killing machine, Killa Kan pilots still retain a good degree of Gretchin cowardice. As a result they still believe in safety in numbers, and have a bad habit of losing their nerve under fire. It is not unheard of for Killa Kans to waddle about in circles or freeze up entirely at the first sign of danger.
Ork Battlewagons rumble to war on a collection of tracks, tyres and massive spiked rollers. Whether lumbering gun-fortresses, bright red speedsters or gaudy rust buckets smeared with Ork glyphs, Battlewagons are massive slabs of motorised junk built to carry big mobs of greenskins into battle. No matter each Battlewagon's individual peculiarities, all fulfil the essential role of armoured attack vehicle. A solid wedge of these mighty tanks can provide a warband with a (somewhat rusty) mailed fist that can be jammed right down the throat of the enemy army. With guns booming and deff rollas coated in mud and gore, Ork Battlewagons carve a path of bloody ruin through the foe while their Ork passengers blaze away at the dazed survivors, and bellow "WAAAGH!" at the top of their lungs.
Ork Trukks speed into battle at breakneck pace, mobs of Boyz crammed into their rear compartments or hanging recklessly from their hulls. As they close with the foe the Trukks' gunners blaze away wildly. As the enemy lines loom large the driver puts his foot down, squeezing out an extra spurt of acceleration from his ride. With a roar like a predatory beast, the Trukks plough into the enemy's midst before the Boyz on board pile out and get stuck in. Boyz who spend a lot of time fighting and, in some cases, living out of the same Trukk will soon take to personalising their ride with clannish paint jobs, grisly trophies, kill-markings and all manner of dangerous tat. It has been known for entire warbands of Evil Sunz or Freebooterz to form into Trukk mobs, riding to battle in ragged columns amid vast clouds of exhaust-smoke and dust.
The roar of Mek Gunz has heralded the end for many a hapless foe. Spitting out blasts of crackling energy, swatting planes out of the air or crushing their victims in crackling fists of bright green force, these big, clanky field guns have enough dakka to stomp even the toughest targets. Of course, as no self-respecting Ork would be left behind when there's a fight in the offing, crewing the gunz is left to the long-suffering Grots. The Orks drag the Mek Gunz into battle behind speeding Battlewagons and Trukks before abandoning them in a heap and leaving the Grots to sort them out. Though capable of blasting a tank in half or scything down enemy infantry, these weapons are just as likely to backfire explosively. The biggest hazard for enemies facing Mek Gunz is that, until they start firing, no-one is really sure what they will do.
The gun-crazy showoffs known as Flash Gitz are skilled at breaking heads up close or blasting their enemies into tiny, glowing bits with equal style. Amongst the richest and most obnoxious of their warlike breed, Flash Gitz travel the galaxy engaging in acts of outrageous piracy and wanton vandalism. They hire themselves out as mercenaries to Ork warbands, basking in the envy of Boyz jealous of their flashy kit and prodigious dakka. Despite their ostentation, Flash Gitz give a Warboss all the killpower he pays for. Completely lethal in gun battles, boarding actions and the like, a mob of Gitz opening fire is nothing short of cataclysmic. A punishing hail of energy bolts and bullets fills the air, the Flash Gitz' victims coming apart amid sprays of blood and blossoms of flame before the Gitz stomp the life out of anyone left standing.
Toting massive Deffguns that fill the air with a rain of shots, rokkits and energy blasts, Loota mobs provide a warband with much needed and extremely heavy covering fire. When a mob of Lootas cuts loose, the overwhelming storm of dakka they create churns infantry to a blood-soaked pulp while tanks shudder and clang, their crews and systems perforated until the vehicles shudder to a halt leaking oil and gore. Lootas tend to be about the heaviest armed Orks going, largely due to their natural flair for larceny, cons and general light-fingered thievery. They often befriend Meks, trading their ill-gotten gains for ever more kustom dakka. Many Mekboys cannot resist tinkering with the Deffguns' worky bits even as the Lootas begin firing, preventing messy mishaps and ensuring that they perform to their full, devastating potential.
Super Heavy Vehicles
Gargants and Mega-Gargants
The Gargant is the Ork equivalent of an Imperial Titan. Gargants are as much idols of the savage Ork Gods, Gork and Mork, as they are engines of destruction. Big Mek Orks receive a divine vision of sorts from Gork (or possibly Mork), and set out to bring that vision to life in the artistic medium of thick armour plates, smoke-belching engines, and lots and lots of very large guns. This activity quickly spreads amongst other Big Meks in the local Ork-settled area who seek to compete in Gargant-building, and soon Gargants spring up all over the place. The construction of Gargants is one of the typical signs of an impending WAAAGH! from an Ork-held star system. In an Ork warband, there can exist Gargants and Gargant-like war machines from Killa Kans (which are the Ork equivalent of the Space Marine Dreadnoughts) crewed by a single Gretchin to the vast armoured behemoths that are the Mega-Gargants.
A Stompa is an effigy of war built by the Orks to ape their brutal gods. Cobbled together in typical Ork fashion, the Stompa's bulk is festooned with overlapping metal plates, bolted atop one another to present a formidable frame and allow the Stompa to shrug off incoming firepower. It has a large crew of Orks and Grots to keep its vast engine going and its weapons blazing away. And Stompas are festooned with weapons -- ranging from Big Shootas and Skorchas poking out from between their protective plates to the Deff Kannon, an enormous piece of ordnance, and the bullet-spewing Supa-Gatler. A Stompa can also carry a full mob of Orks to war, ready to jump out and put the boot in at a moment's notice. Once in combat, a Stompa wields its Mega-Choppa -- a massive whirring blade that can cleave a bastion in two or hack a Titan down to size in a flurry of roaring violence.
Orks utilise a wide variety of star-faring vessels to cross the immense interstellar distances of the void. Most Ork voidcraft sport some kind of totem or decoration at the bow to give it the appearance of a massive Ork head. A Kill Kroozer, a common ramshackle Ork voidship, possesses this type of prow. These vessels can be massive, and are classified as Battle-Kroozers when they have reached a size in excess of thirty megatonnes or more.
Other Ork vessels found alongside the Kroozers include gunships and other Escorts. The Orks utilise a small boarding ship known as a Brute Ramship to breach the hulls of their enemies, though most Orks are happy to ram any type of ship into their foes. Orks also use asteroids as warships, hollowing them out and adding engines and weaponry so that they are capable of Warp travel. These "Roks" make for extremely durable voidcraft, and can easily be created in each new star system the greenskins attack to replace any losses they suffer.
Another method of travel favoured by the Ork race is via Space Hulks. These titanic amalgamations of numerous starships, asteroids, and other spaceborne debris become mobile colonies for Ork raiders. When a Space Hulk is found by a klan of Orks, they quickly board the vessel and begin scavenging all they can from the immense ramshackle vessel to fuel their war efforts. Mekboyz begin fabricating weapons, armour, and vehicles almost immediately as metals and other valuable assets are salvaged and stockpiled in areas of the Hulk. Often completely new voidships can even be assembled inside the huge holds or caverns to be found within massive Space Hulks.
A Space Hulk usually has no means of propulsion of its own. It simply travels on the flows and eddies of the Warp, on a journey across the void. Industrious Meks and Weirdboyz can sometimes assist in moving a Space Hulk into a Warp rift or other passage, but this is by no means an exact form of travel. This suits the Orks just fine, as it appeals to their sense of adventure and conquest -- they feel that a Space Hulk is a gift from their gods Gork and Mork, taking them to new and exciting battles. A Space Hulk is often accompanied by fleets of Kroozers and other greenskin Escort vessels as it moves through the void to its next destination. When an Imperial world detects the imminent arrival of a Space Hulk, it often sends waves of panic throughout the sector. There are many well-known legends and rumours of the destruction such a vessel can bring, and many are based in horrific fact.
Orks in the Game
Ork "kultur" was originally intended as a long-running joke, and has given birth to several concepts widely recognised among Warhammer 40,000 gamers. For example, most long-time Warhammer 40,000 hobbyists have a collection of assorted metal pieces, additional weapons, and parts left over from modelling projects, which they keep around in the expectation that they may be useful in future scratch-built models. Games Workshop encourages this practice by giving prizes for the best gamer-built models at their annual Golden Demon Awards, and by including a choice of weapons or optional parts in their own models. This has become known as a "bitz box", from the Ork spelling of the storage space where a Mekboy keeps his stock of reserve parts.
Similarly it is a well-known fact among tabletop gamers that "Red wunz go fasta," from the Ork belief that this is so. Finally, there is a general Ork stereotype, portrayed by hunching the head down between the shoulders, showing off one's teeth, and "talkin' like dis, ya understand ya stupid Grot!" in a faux Cockney English accent. Shouts of "WAAAGH, da Orks!" "Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go!" or even chants of "Dakka" can often be heard at Warhammer 40,000 tournaments, particularly when an Ork player is doing well, but also as a sort of general rallying cry for the entire hobby.
The Imperial battle cry of "Kill the Mutants. Burn the Heretics. Purge the unclean!" does not seem to have the same appeal, although the Khornate Berserkers' cry of "Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!", etc., has enjoyed similar success in recent years, but not such popularity.
Orks first appeared in the 1st Edition Rogue Trader rulebook and the Space Orks boxed set, containing thirty plastic miniatures. Some Games Workshop designers claim that Ork culture and military tactics are loosely based on that of the ancient Irish Celts. These Orks were squat, powerfully muscled humanoids, wielding crude ballistic weaponry (usually blackpowder or other explosive projectile-based kinetic weapons) and large "Stikbomz" or stick grenades; along with their helmets and other paraphernalia, these are apparently modeled on Imperial German equipment from World War I.
As the Warhammer 40,000 game evolved, some of the clunkier (if more 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 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 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 faction's 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 and dark feel of the Warhammer 40,000 universe in recent editions.
- Codex Imperialis (1st Edition), pg. 50
- Codex: Orks (8th Edition), pp. 6-27
- Codex: Orks (7th Edition)
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition)
- Codex: Orks (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Orks (2nd Edition)
- Deathwatch: Mark of the Xenos (RPG), pp. 55-59
- Digganob (3rd Edition)
- 'Ere We Go!: Orks in Warhammer 40,000 (1st Edition)
- Fabius Bile: Clonelord (Novel) by John Reynolds, pp. 406-407
- Gorkamorka: Da Uvver Book (2nd Edition)
- Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 363-371
- Only War: Enemies of the Imperium (RPG), pp. 33-66
- The Red Waaagh! (7th Edition Supplement)
- Rogue Trader: Into the Storm (Rulebook), pp. 56-69
- Rogue Trader: The Koronus Bestiary (RPG), pg. 67
- Wrath & Glory: Rulebook (RPG) (Cubicle 7 Revised Edition 2020), pg. 80
- Waaagh! Ghazghkull - A Codex: Orks Supplement (7th Edition)
- Waaargh!: The Orks (1st Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 169, 200-203
- Xenology by Simon Spurrier, pp. 41-42
- Horus Rising (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- The Wolf of Ash and Fire (Novella) by Graham McNeill
- Fear to Tread (Novel) by James Swallow
- Orktober - The Clans of WAAAGH!
- 500 Facts for 500 Stores