Orks are a warlike, crude, and highly aggressive green-skinned alien race. Orks are the dominant subspecies of the Orkoids, which includes the smaller Gretchin and Snotlings. Although their society is entirely primitive and brutal, the Orkoid race is also the most successful species in the whole galaxy, spread throughout the galaxy and outnumbering possibly every other race. However, due to this aggressive and warlike nature, the massive race is split into hundreds of tiny empires, warring as much between themselves as against other races. In the purely theoretical event all the Orks were to unite, they would undoubtedly crush all opposition.
The Orkoid races are believed to have been genetically engineered millenia ago. Ork legend attributes their creation to the Brain Boyz, a diminutive but extremely intelligent subspecies of Orkoid, who bred the Gretchin to be servants and the Orks to be warriors1p4. The possibility was established in later materials that the Ork races may have in fact been created by the Old Ones, who are described as creating the Krork as part of a last-ditch attempt to fight off their enemies such as the Necrons and Enslavers. The Orks have had a presence in the Galaxy since that time, and are known to have first battled mankind long before the foundation of the Imperium, tens of thousands of years ago during the Dark Age of Technology. Humanity and the Orks have fought innumerable conflicts over this time and are unlikely to ever stop.8
Orks were genetically engineered to be tough, muscular, aggressive and primitive-minded. Their technology is maintained by a caste of Oddboyz who have genetic dispositions to do well at specific forms of task. Indeed, the Orks' creators were apparently able to encode information on how to build and maintain technology in the genetic strands of Orks; thus Mekboyz (for example) require very little training in their function, since they understand mechanical principles at an instinctive level.
Orks in the Galaxy
The Orks are the most widespread of the sentient races, inhabiting worlds across the whole of the galaxy.1p4
Orks are unusual in that they can continue to grow throughout their lives and that this growth is directly tied to their social standing - the largest Orks always being the most dominant. Orkoid physiology is a combination of both animal and fungus in a way such that they both augment the operation of the other and work in perfect harmony. The fungus is what makes an Ork tough, replacing several vital organs as well as adding padding around those which remain. Adult Orks are constantly releasing spores which lie in the ground, often for years, waiting to develop into Orks or Gretchin. Thus a world invaded by Orks will be troubled by them for hundreds of years to come, even if the original assault is beaten off. The Orkoid ecosystem includes several species, Gretchin, Snotlings and Squigs, forms of fungus, as well as the Orks themselves.
Orks control a significant part of known space, but these territories are not a united or cohesive organisation - rather they are a collection of thousands of individual territories and empires1p4. These independent factions are as likely to fight with each other as they are with any other species, although on occasion a particularlly powerful Warlord will initiate a phenomonon known as a Waaagh! - a mass unification of various tribes and warbands, fortunately these Waaagh!'s are not permanent alliances and will eventually disband either when they are defeated or when they run out of enemies to fight.1p11
The largest common Ork social unit is the Tribe, a horde usually comprised of numerous Warbands all under the command of a Warlord or Warboss. Even these groups cannot truly be classed as stable, as Ork tribes are constantly growing, conquering other tribes or being conquered themselves.1p8
A Warband is a smaller social group, usually led by a Warboss, generally several such warbands together form a tribe under the leadership of the strongest Warboss.
Warbands in turn are comprised of various mobz - groups of Orks bound together as social and fighting units, often grouped together by their preffered style of combat.
Whilst an Ork will belong to a tribe, they also belong to a clan. Whilst tribes are constantly changing, breaking apart and reforming; clans are stable and enduring. The Ork Clans are not communities but rather philosophical delineations representing the various aspects of the Orkish character. It is possible that Clan affiliation may, in part, be a genetic phenomonon - as different Clans are often described as having different physical charecteristics (such as Bad Moons having faster growing teeth). An Ork tribe usually contains Orks from many different clans, so when tribes fight each other Orks will often find themselves in combat with foes from the same clan. This is considered normal, as an individual Ork's allegiance is to his Warboss rather than his clan. Despite this inter-clan rivalry is intense. Each Clan has its own colours, markings, characteristics and ways of waging war.
Although it has been stated that there are many Ork clans, there are only six large and truly significant ones 1p8
- Bad Moons - The richest Ork clan, due to their teef growing quicker. The closest thing Orks have to a merchant class.
- Blood Axes - Distrusted by other clans, the Blood Axes make use of un-orky tactics such as camouflage and even battleplans.
- Deathskulls - Famed looters and scavengers.
- Evil Sunz - Speedfreaks and lovers of vehicles.
- Goffs - Close combat specialists.
- Snakebites - Staunch traditionalists, distrust many forms of technology.
- Non-Clan phenomena
- Freebooterz - Pirates and outcasts from their original tribes and clans
- Kult of Speed - Orks wholey addicted to the thrill of high-speed combat
- Feral Orks - Primitive Orks cut off from broader Ork society
Ork society is dominated by the strongest individuals, with the largest and most capable Orks forming the ruling elite. The only exception to this rule are the Oddboyz - specialist orks who have an innate talent in a specific field (such as medicine or technology) whose unique skills make them indespensible to their tribe.1p10
The Warboss is the leader of an Ork warband or tribe; he is always the biggest, strongest and most cunning Ork in any given grouping of such creatures, and gets the best armour, weapons, and equipment. A particularly powerful warboss is often known as a Warlord, though in practice they can take any title they choose.
The Oddboyz are Orks who are born with specific information programmed into their DNA. They specialise in doing things that most other Orks can't. The notable types of Oddboy are -
- Mekboyz - Ork mechanics and inventors (also known as 'Mekaniaks' or 'Meks')
- Painboyz - Ork surgeons and doctors (also known as 'Mad Doks' or 'Doks')
- Weirdboys - Highly psychic Orks
- Runtherds - Slave-masters and breeders of Gretchin ad snotlings (also known as 'Slavers')
- Herdas - Feral Orks who capture and train squigs
- Pigdoks - Feral Orks who act as primitive counterparts to both Meks and Painboyz
Older GW publications such as "Waagh da Orks" also mention other specialist castes such as Diggaboyz, Sumboyz and Brewerz. However, no information on them other than their bare existence was given.
Nobz are the ruling class of the Ork race. Larger and more aggressive than other Orks they act a squad leaders or fight together in their own mobs. Nobz have access to the best equipment, weapons and armour and are often found fighting in groups with other similarly equipped Nobz6. Thus there are often different types of Nob mob commonly found on the battlefield, these include:
- Mega Nobz - Nobz wearing Mega Armour
- Flash Gitz - Nobz equipped with the most exotic and expensive ranged weapons
- Cyborks - Nobz who, either by choice or due to injury, have been extensively surgically altered by a Painboy
- Nob Bikerz - Nobz who ride into battle on Warbikes
Boyz are the most common form of Ork, although there are still many different types of sub-group that vary depending on status and equipment.
- 'Ard Boyz - Ardboyz are heavily armoured Ork Boyz who wear 'Eavy Armour. In the Ork hierarchy, 'Ard Boyz tend to hold a position just below Nobz
- Kommandoz - considered to be the epitomy of Ork cunning, they work as units behind enemy lines in order to create havoc and confusion
- Burna Boyz - a type of Ork Boyz with a preference for fiery weapons, normally led by a Mekboy rather than a Nob
- Tankbustas - a specialist Ork unit designed to take out enemy vehicles
- Lootaz - Orks equipped with the heaviest weapons that they can find
- Stormboyz - Orks equipped with Jump Packs, they are often young Orks with an uncharacteristic disciplined streak
- Biker Boyz - speed-loving Orks riding Warbikes
- Boyz - the "standard" Orks, usually divided into mobs equipped for either ranged or close quarter combat
Orks believe in two gods: Gork, the god of cunning brutality and Mork, the god of brutal cunning (the subtle difference being that Mork hits you when you aren't looking, Gork hits you hard when you are). As such, sometimes Orks can't remember which is which and fight over it. They have no real priesthood, although the infamous mighty Goff Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka claims to be receiving visions from them.1p11
Orks use their teeth ("teef") as currency. This is quite a natural solution to inflation and income support, as Orks regrow their "teef" in a similar manner to sharks, replacing them quite frequently. They degrade over time so it is impossible to hoard them. This keeps prices constant, ensures all Orks have access to money and allows constant values to be placed on commodities. A toof will buy a good squig pie and a tankard of fungus beer, while a bag of teef will buy a cheap Warbuggy. A big flash Battlewagon could cost a Warboss hundreds of teef.1p7
Ork "teknologee" appears ramshackle and slapped-together, but is as potent as any weaponry used by the Imperium. Ork technology is characterised by a constant stream of poorly thought-out experimentation and constantly trying to outdo the competition to build the biggest gun, the largest Gargant, or the fastest Warbuggy. Therefore Ork technology is not uniform, lending Ork Warbands a cobbled together and random appearance. Ork Mekboyz are specialists in the field of producing powerful Force Fields that can protect against damage, and at battlefield improvisation of 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 bionics enhancements, transplants, and other medical shenanigans being performed on them with ease.
The most infamous and successful Warbosses, called "Warlords" or "Great Bosses", lead several tribes and have carved out their own, often petty, empire of Ork worlds. The most powerful are usually are known by a unique title of their own devising (such as Arch-Arsonist).
- Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka - Goff Warlord, infamous for his two invasions of the Armageddon system1p66
- Nazdreg Ug Urdgrub - Bad Moon Warlord1p64
- The Arch Dictator of Gathrog3
- The Great Despot of Dregruk3
- The Arch Maniac of Calverna3
- The Overfiend of Octarius3 - Ruler of the Ork Empire of Octarius
- Urgok the Unstoppable3
- Grand Warlord of Vacuna3
- Grand Tyrant of Jagga3
- Mighty Mangler of Bork3
- Warchief of Alsanta3
- The Arch-Arsonist of Charadon3
- Garshul the Destroyer4 (Possessed by a Daemon)
- Kaptin Badrukk - one of the most infamous Freebooterz of all time1p65
- Mad Dok Grotsnik - famed painboy 1p65
- Zodgrod Wortsnagga - renowned Runtherd1p68
- Old Zogwort - a powerful Weirdboy
- Snikrot - Ork Kommando boss2
- Zagstruk - Stormboy boss5
- Wazdakka Gutsmek - legendary Ork biker1p69
- Feral Ork
- To see some (in)famous quotes by Orks, which also show much of their world-view go to Ork Quotes.
- 1: Codex: Orks (2nd Edition)
- 2: http://www.games-workshop.com/gws/catalog/productDetail.jsp?catId=cat440175a&prodId=prod1730000&rootCatGameStyle=
- 3: Chambers, Andy (1998). Codex: Orks. Games Workshop Ltd. ISBN 1869893387
- 4: Bloodquest (Compendium) by Gordon Rennie and Colin MacNeil (2005)
- 5: http://www.games-workshop.com/gws/catalog/productDetail.jsp?catId=cat440175a&prodId=prod1160038a&rootCatGameStyle=
- 6: http://www.games-workshop.com/gws/catalog/productDetail.jsp?catId=cat440175a&prodId=prod1730003&rootCatGameStyle=
- 7: Imperial Armour Volume Eight - Raid on Kastorel-Novem pg. 114
- 8: Codex Imperialis pg.50
- 9: Warhammer 40,000 6th Edition Rulebook pg.200
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition)