Orks are a warlike, green-skinned race, spread throughout the galaxy, seen by their enemies (everyone else) as savage, warlike and crude - but they also are the most successful species in the whole galaxy, outnumbering possibly every other race. However, this massive race is split into hundreds of tiny empires, often warring between themselves. But were the Orks ever to unite, they would undoubtedly crush all opposition.
The History of OrksEdit
Orks first appeared in the Rogue Trader rulebook and the Space Orks boxed set, containing thirty plastic miniatures. These Orks were squat, powerfully muscled humanoids, wielding crude ballistic weaponry (usually blackpowder or other explosive projectile-based equivalant) and large 'stikbomz' or stick grenades; along with their helmets and other paraphernalia, these are apparently modelled on German equipment from WWI.
Additional rules, cultural details, and painting guidelines were given in the later expansions Waagh Da Orks and 'Ere We Go!. An explanation for the combination of brutal stupidity with relatively high technology was now found: Orks had been created, in times long past, as a warrior race by the long-vanished Brain Boyz. The possibility was established later on that these may have been the Old Ones, who created the Krork as part of a last-ditch attempt to fight off the Necrons, though there is nothing stopping the Old Ones creating the brain boyz who create the rest of the orks.1.
Orks are thus genetically engineered to be muscular, aggressive, and none too bright; their technology is maintained by a caste of Oddboyz who have genetic dispositions to do well at such tasks. Indeed, the Brain Boyz were apparently able to encode information on how to build simple machinery in the genetic strands of Orks; thus Mekboyz require very little training in their function, since they understand mechanical principles at an instinctive level.
Waagh da Orks also informs us of the existence of more specialised castes such as Diggaboyz and Brewerz; however, as the game became more combat-oriented, these were not mentioned again. Even Waagh da Orks gives no information on them other than their bare existence; it may be assumed that when the Orks go to war, these castes fight as ordinary, shoota-armed Boyz.
As the game evolved, some of the clunkier (if more flavour-filled) rules regarding Orks were dropped, though their culture remained much the same. For example, 'Ere we Go contains several pages of rules for mobs of Madboyz, Orks whom even other Orks consider maladjusted. (It should be noted that an average Ork would be considered dangerously aggressive to the point of insanity in a human society). The Madboyz change their behaviour unpredictably according to dice rolls whenever conditions change, for example, when an enemy unit charges into combat with them. A roll is first made to determine which subset of behaviour is going to apply, such as 'Skitzo' and 'Manik', then another roll is made to see how this overall insanity manifests. The results vary from charging the closest enemy, with bonuses to their combat attributes ("Waargh! Dat makes me mad!") to phobic avoidance of all vehicles, even ones on their own side ("Urr! Keep dem wurrin' teknikol bitz away!") While often very amusing, this was highly time-consuming, and dropped in the later editions, which were streamlined for combat.
The main background change lies in their method of reproduction. According to Waagh da Orks, Orks are born to feral enclaves as Wildboyz. They are then recruited into warbands and fight for a while with primitive weapons such as spears, before being recruited into a Boyz Mob and being given their first Shoota. If they survive the ensuing ten or twenty years of warfare, they become overwhelmed with the urge to go off 'lookin' fer sumfink' and wander back to their enclaves to breed, developing sexual characteristics on the way. In newer editions, however, adult Orks are constantly giving off spores which lie in the ground, often for years, waiting to develop into Orks or Gretchin. Thus a world invaded by Orks will be troubled by them for hundreds of years to come, even if the original assault is beaten off.
Ork weaponry is built by the Mekboyz or Mekaniaks, as well as being captured from enemies or delivered as tribute. It is intentionally portrayed as being rather Rube-Goldberg-ish, often steam-driven and with clunky, early-industrial driving belts and extraneous bells, whistles, and gongs. It is often based on Tellyporta and Force Field technology, which the robust Ork physiology can use more easily than humans; a weapon found in 'Ere we Go, for instance, is the Snotling Teleport Gun. Snotlings are a tiny, Orkoid race even smaller than Gretchin and less bright than Orks, thus they are not usually of much use in combat. When sent through a warp tunnel to appear inside an enemy vehicle or Power Suit, however, they are a terrifying experience, because the teleportation goes through the demonic realm known as the Warp, scaring the Snotlings out of their minds. When they arrive, they are a biting, scratching mass of flatulent fury. The Teleport Gun suffered from severe inaccuracy, but could be quite effective when it did hit. However, the rules for it were very complex, and it was removed from later editions. Ork weaponry is analysed in more detail in the Ork Armoury
In their current incarnation, Orks are very much a close-combat-optimised species, their weapons having short range and low accuracy - though this can sometimes be made up by sheer numbers. Orks are quite cheap in terms of ingame points, that is, it is possible to build a very large army, colloquially known as a 'sea of green' or 'green tide' from the skin colour. This is often necessary, since the effectiveness of an individual Ork at any but the shortest range is small, and the Ork commander must be prepared to absorb considerable casualties in his effort to close in for axe ('choppa') work. This is in contrast to their earlier editions, where the large number of fun, but inaccurate weapons and special rules could easily make them rather unfocused, a jack-of-all-trades army but master of none. Some have accused the designers of regarding the Orks more as comic relief than as a serious army, and being more concerned with the flavour than the effect of weapons designed for them. If so, they have reined in their imaginations considerably where Orks are concerned, drawing the race more into line with the overall gritty feel of Warhammer 40,000.
Physiology and Biology of the OrksEdit
See main article: Ork Physiology
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. The Orkoid ecosystem includes several species, Gretchin, Snotlings and Squigs, as well as the Orks themselves.
The article Ork Physiology contains information on the workings of an Ork body, the brain and animal/fungal action, the transfer of Ork knowledge, Ork surgery, Ork growth, the Ork diet, a basic list of Other Orkoid species, the Waaagh, theories on the evolution of Orks and finally, Ork reproduction.
Da Boyz and OddboyzEdit
see Ork Structure
A typical Ork army is primarily made up Ork Boyz, basic Orks armed in some way to make them either combat or ranged specific. It also contains several vehicles, mostly cobbled together from stolen pieces or crudly constructed vehicles by Mekboyz and Big Meks.
The Oddboyz are Orks who are born with specific information programmed into their DNA to be released as they grow. They specialise in doing things that most other Orks can't, although a standard Ork boy's genetically encoded knowledge allows him to keep his weapons in working order. Often there are competitions between Oddboyz to see which can make the most Orky thing, be it biological or technological. There are several different Oddboyz, cumulated under the term Oddboyz. Some of these Oddboyz are:
- Mad Doks - (also known as 'Painboyz' or 'Doks')
- Mekboyz - (also known as 'Mekaniaks' or just 'Meks')
- Slavers - (also known as 'Runtherdz')
- Weirdboys - (Also known as 'Wyrdboyz', including 'Warpheads')
Orks gather into various levels of organization. The smallest battlefield grouping 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 organizational unit is the Tribe, a horde of numerous Warbands all under the command of a Warlord or Warboss. Different tribes can be united by a powerful Warlord when he raises a Waaagh. Warbands number between 600 and 3,000 warriors plus associated war machines and artillery.
Orks believe in two gods: Gork, the god of cunning brutality; and Mork, the god of brutal cunning, (the subtle difference being that one hits you when you aren't looking, the other does so hard when you are). As such, sometimes they can't remember which is which and fight over it. They have no real priesthood, although the infamous mighty Goff Warboss Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka claims to be receiving visions from them.
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. (Some likely from fellow Orks.)
Ork Clanz are not communities but rather philosophical delineations of the different varieties of Ork. Each has its own colors, markings, and ways of waging war. Orks tend to form warbands with others who follow the same clan, but different groups tend to be lumped together after suffering casualties during a Waaagh! There are several famous clans:
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.
Orky Kultur, originally intended as a joke, has given birth to several concepts widely recognized among GW gamers. For example, most longtime gamers have a collection of assorted metal pieces, additional weapons, and parts left over from modeling 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 Orky spelling of where a Mekboy keeps his stock of reserve parts.
Similarly it is a well-known fact among gamers that 'Red wunz go fasta,' from the Orky belief that this is so.
Finally, there is a general Ork stereotype, portrayed by hunching the head down between the shoulders, showing one's teeth, and 'talkin' like dis, me.' Shouts of 'Waaagh, da Orks!' and ' 'Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go' can often be heard at tournaments, particularly when an Ork player is doing well, but also as a sort of general rallying cry for the entire hobby. (The Imperial battle cry "Kill the mutants. Burn the heretics. Purge the unclean" does not seem to have the same appeal.)
Famous Ork Empire BuildersEdit
- The Arch Dictator of Gathrog3
- The Great Despot of Dregruk3
- The Arch Maniac of Calverna3
- The Overfiend of Octarius3
- Urgork the Unstoppable3
- Grand Warlord of Vacuna3
- Grand Tyrant of Jagga3
- Mighty Mangler of Bork3
- Warchief of Alsanta3
- The Arch Arsonist of Charadon (Snagrod) 3,6
- Garshul the Destroyer7 (Possessed by a Daemon)