- "Live off the land. Go to find war. Kill wot comes close. The old ways are best."
- — Grodd, Snakebite Runtherd
The Snakebites are a well-known "klan" of Orks. The Snakebites are considered to be a backward tribe by many of the more technologically-advanced tribes of Orks, for they still follow the old ways of the Ork race and often remain Feral Orks even after they gain access to more advanced technology. As a result of their rugged lifestyle, the Snakebites are usually weather-beaten and as tough as an old boot. They are experts in the field of breeding Orkoid creatures and their Grots and Squigs are the fiercest among all the Greenskin tribes.
The Snakebites' klan name and emblem comes from a tribal rite of passage that requires the young aspirant to full membership in the tribe to goad an extremely poisonous serpent into biting him, then sucking out the venom to prove his resilience. Orks of the Snakebites Klan thus build up a powerful immunity to natural poisons and keep various species of snakes and toxarachnids as pets. They always carry a selection of venomous beasts with them when they migrate to a new world in case the local varieties of snake prove disappointingly benign.
Within the wider Ork "kultur," the Snakebites klan is seen as a pack of backwards throwbacks, which speaks volumes about their behaviour and tribal customs. Scorning complicated matters like making their own guns or vehicles, the klan put their faith in things they can trust; a good bit of sharpened bone, a heavy stick or a nice keen-edged Choppa. In battle they will daub themselves with mud and crude war-paint, hanging the claws and teeth of beasts they have killed around their necks and wearing poorly cured skins.
As a result of their rugged lifestyle, a Snakebite's appearance is weather-beaten and they are tough as old boots. The Snakebites are known for their thick, leathery hides and their uncouth practices (even to Orky eyes). Among their many curious traditions, the one that stands out the most to other Orks and gives the klan their name is the tradition of using live, venomous creatures in their coming of age ritual. This strange rite of passage involves a young Ork baiting an extremely venomous serpent into biting him, then sucking the venom out of the wound to prove his toughness. Through this ritual, and subsequent bites received when handling venomous creatures, the Snakebites build up a natural immunity to all but the most potent venoms.
In fact, Snakebites are never without a lethal serpent, arachnid, or other small beast about their person when moving from planet to planet, just in case the world to which they are travelling has a disappointing paucity of venomous fauna. As far as a Snakebite Ork is concerned, snakes make the best pets –- obviously, the more aggressive the better.
Along with their known proclivity for venomous snake handling, the Snakebites have a reputation as the finest breeders of Grots and Squigs among all the clans. Their Runtherdz breed the fiercest, toughest, and most easily biddable stock, and their sprawling, pungent menageries are a credit to the art of breeding. Indeed, so great is their prowess at breeding that only the Snakebites possess the skill and knowledge to breed, and mix the special feed for, the terrible Squiggoth. These massive Squiggoths and ferocious Grots come in extremely handy in battle, as the Snakebites favour a fast, savage, frontal assault backed up with Grots armed with all manner of crude melee weapons. These swarming tactics serve the Snakebites surprisingly well against more technologically-advanced foes, and many an Imperial Guard squad has met its end beneath a massive avalanche of frenzied Orks, snapping, hissing Squigs, and frantically slashing Grots.
- WAAAGH! Hruk (855.M41) - The noted Snakebites 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 to house his Squiggoths.
- Bogrot Bones - A notable Snakebites breeder, he served in Grukk Face-rippa's Red WAAAGH! during their rampage through the Santus Reach Sub-sector. There were hugh numbers of Snakebites in the Red WAAAGH!, but none meaner than Bogrot Bones and his pet Gargantuan Squiggoth, Stompy. In battle, Stompy lived up to its name, trampling entire companies into the ground under its bulk, often oblivious to the mayhem it was causing. The small-brained beast could only concentrate on one thing at a time, however, and was easily confused. Bogrot Bones would yell and bawl, trying to goad it into going where he wanted, though Stompy, often seeing something shiny, would thunder off in a random direction. This happened on numerous occasions during the Red WAAAGH!, the huge monster either turning the tide of battle inadvertently or causing carnage among the Ork hordes as it crashed through its own allies. One example of this occurred on Sybel III; Stompy broke open the fortress when he spied the shiny medals on the chest of the fort's Imperial Guard commander. The officer was waving and yelling to his men from the top of the wall, unaware he was leading the Squiggoth on. Stompy headbutted its way through the wall and gave chase to the terrified commander as he ran up the seven tiers of the fortress, trying to close gates behind him and ordering men to cover his flight. In the end, Stompy cornered and pulverised the officer in the heart of the citadel as thousands of Orks poured in through the breaches he had left behind.
- Grak da Mighty - Known as the Bearer of Da Great Klub, Grak da Mighty is the Chieftain Supreme of the Snakebites Warclans of Feral Orks on the jungle world of Kongjaro. In late 999.M41, when the infamous Ork Warlord Ghazghkull Thraka's mighty Great WAAAGH! fleet prepared to embark upon the mass exodus towards Octarius, Ghazghkull had an inexplicable urge to visit the verdant planet of Kongajaro in a nearby star system. Strangely tattooed and bearing unusual piercings, the primal Orks greet Ghazghkull as if he were a god. After a ceremonial beast hunt, Chieftain Supreme Grak da Mighty, pledges all his warriors to WAAAGH! Ghazghkull. Cyboar Riders, Squiggoths and hordes of Orks with wild squig-hair board the voidships of Ghazghkull's great fleet.
- Grudbolg - Grudbolg was the stubborn Warboss of the Snakebites on the world of Urk. When Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka first grew to prominence upon this primitive world, following his "miraculous" serjery at the hands of Mad Doc Grotsnik, his horde quickly grew so that no warband on Urk could hope to stand before his sweeping onslaught. Only the foolish or the stubborn even attempted to stand apart from the meteoric rise of this great Greenskin champion. One such stubborn fool was Snakebite Warboss Grudbolg. It took a long, bloody solar week to subdue the Snakebites under Grudbolg, and Ghazghkull was forced to decapitate the scarred old monster twice before finally winning his loyalty.
- Hruk Teefsplitnta - In 855.M41 Hruk Teefsplinta enslaved the entire population of his old stomping grounds, the binary system of Corva. Hruk forced his slaves to build huge spacecraft with holds cavernous enough to accommodate his beloved mega-menagerie. Once built, Hruk set off to conquer the core worlds of the Imperium of Man. He went on to conquer the nine Shrine Worlds of Marlisanct, using its Basilica Imperator Majoris as a breeding pen for his famously incontinent Squiggoths.
- Zodgrod Wortsnagga - Zodgrod was perhaps the greatest Runtherd in history before being expelled from the Warboss Ugulhard Duffgruntas' Chargerz, an extremely fundamentalist band of Snakebites who rabidly rejected the use of advanced technology. After the expulsion, Zodgrod travelled the galaxy and learned several ancient Orkoid techniques to create Gretchin who were possessed of more aggression, intelligence and sheer ferocity than any of their counterparts, which he named "Supa-Runtz." Zodgrod is now hired by Ork Warbosses who are particularly desperate to make use of his Supa-Runtz in battle.
The Snakebites are toughened by the strange initiation rites of their klan. By being bitten by poisonous snakes and sucking out the venom straight away, they become tougher over time. Of all the Ork klanz, the Snakebites remain closest to the wild, uncivilised state of their Feral Ork ancestors. Although they use and understand technology as well as any other Orks, their natural inclination leads them to shun much that is technologically sophisticated in favour of familiar ways. The Snakebites are also known to be a wandering klan that rarely settles in one place for long. They only stay on a planet long enough to get into a fight and then they're off again. Imperial scholars have speculated that this klan may be the last remnants of the original ancient Ork "kultur" before they made contact with the rest of the galaxy.
Notable Snakebites Tribes
The Wyrm-Killa Tribe
When WAAAGH! Bork rampaged out of the Ghoul Stars and into the Eastern Fringe, the Wyrm-Killa tribe came with them. Festooned with alien trophies and covered in scars, this Snakebite tribe earned their name killing Tyranids. Runtherds tell tales of how the tribe were hunting through the jungles of some remote world when they came across a great fleshy spore encased in glistening amber. Dragging it back to the Ork fleet, they cracked it open and hundreds of clawed, serpentine Tyranids spilled out. The Snakebites hunted the creatures, taking great pleasure in the fact that they seemed to grow rapidly, and no sooner had you bashed one than another one appeared from a vent or drain. Before long the Ork Kill Kroozer was infested, and most of the other tribes on board were killed, only the Snakebites surviving in the weird Tyranid jungle their ship had become. By the time the infested Kroozer drifted into a star system, the Snakebites had finally killed most of the Tyranids on board, having learnt the best ways to crack them open and smash them up. Covered in Tyranid trophies and using alien claws and talons as weapons, they joined up with other Orks, calling themselves the "Wyrm-Killa" tribe. Having had so much fun hunting the Tyranids in space, the tribe had kept some alive and released them on the first world they came to. While the rest of the Orks bashed the human inhabitants the Wyrm-Killas made sure the Tyranids had time to multiply, so they would make good hunting. By the time the Orks had torn apart the humans they found themselves overrun by Tyranids, and gleefully turned their attentions to this new foe. Since then the Wyrm-Killas have spread Tyranids to dozens of worlds so they can have a good fight wherever they go.
Snakebites often drive their Orkoid beasts to war before them, counting on overwhelming their enemies with Squigs and even Squiggoths so that their Boyz can reach the foe. Their Runtherds work tirelessly to keep these creatures and the klan's Grots in line on the battlefield. In times of war, the Grots are given crude weapons and herded into battle, often manning the batteries of Big Gunz and accompanying the tribe's Weirdboyz. Ironically, the more sophisticated weapons that fall into the hands of the Snakebites usually find their way into the hands of their Grots, as the runts of the tribe are left to figure out how they work. The Orks, meanwhile, gather into especially large and surly mobs, whose lack of Shootas is more than made up for by their assortment of heavy, blunt objects. Snakebites are extremely tough, and rely on their innate resilience and the distraction of countless charging Orks, Squigs, and Grots to keep their adversaries from cutting them down with fire as they close to melee. Once they arrive in close quarters, the savagery of the Snakebites usually carries the day.
Snakebites prefer muted earth tones for their liveries, with an emphasis on greens and browns with dusty yellow and white highlights. 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 their most distinctive elements of dress are their snake belts, which are fastened with metal buckles in the form of a snake. Some even go so far as to wear live poisonous snakes around their waist to show how tough they are.
The Snakebites' clan sigil is a venomous serpent, typically green on a yellow banner, and they like to festoon themselves in venomous serpents, hides, and furs as they trundle exuberantly into battle.
- Codex: Orks (7th Edition), pp. 29, 43-45, 69-70, 81
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition), pp. 14, 29
- Codex: Orks (3rd Edition), pg. 23
- Only War: Enemies of the Imperium (RPG), pp. 64-65
- Waaagh! Ghazghkull: A Codex Ork Supplement (7th Edition), pp. 13, 90, 105,
- White Dwarf 349 (UK), "Clan Loyalties," by Phil Kelly, pg. 28
- White Dwarf 290 (UK) "Chapter Approved: Ork Clanz," by Andy Chambers & Andy Hoare
- Waargh! Da Orks (1st Edition)
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