bells, whistles, and gongs

Ork (Warhammer 40,000)

The Orks are a race from the fictional Warhammer 40,000 universe. They are in some ways equivalent to Warhammer Fantasy Orcs, particularly in terms of their physical appearance, but vary in some biological and cultural details. They are seen by their enemies (everyone else, and sometimes each other) as savage, warlike and crude, but they are the most numerous species in the whole galaxy. However, the power of the Ork race as a whole is limited since they are split into hundreds of tiny empires, often warring between themselves. In the rare occasion that the Orks ever do unite, they are capable of destroying whole civilizations in a massive migration-invasion known as a Waaagh!

Background development

Orks first appeared in the Rogue Trader rulebook and the Space Orks boxed set, containing eighteen metal models. These Orks were squat, powerfully muscled humanoids, wielding crude ballistic weaponry (usually blackpowder or other explosive projectile-based equivalent) and large "stikkbombz" or stick grenades; along with their helmets and other paraphernalia. This equipment is reminiscent of German equipment from World War I.

Additional rules, cultural details, and painting guidelines were given in the later expansions Waagh Da Orks and 'Ere We Go!. An explanation for the combination of brutal stupidity with relatively high technology was now found: Orks had been created, in times long past, as a warrior race by the long-vanished Brain Boyz. This theme recurs in recent editions, the Orks having been created by the Old Ones as a race of bio weapons to fight the Necrons in the war that shattered the galactic civilization which existed prior to the rise of the Eldar.

Orks are genetically engineered to be muscular, aggressive, and none too bright; their technology is maintained by Mekboyz who have genetic dispositions to do well at special 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 (if any) training in their function, since they understand mechanical principles at an instinctive level.

Specializations include Mad Doks, the ork equivalent of medics and doctors, who stitch up Orks wounded in battle, but also like to conduct unnecessary and gruesome medical experiments on their patients (such as replacing limbs with mechanical contraptions and transplanting heads); those who tend more towards these cybernetic experiments become Painboyz. The Slaverz (or 'Runtherders') direct the efforts of Gretchin (or 'Grotz'), the smaller and smarter servants essentially equivalent to goblins. Waagh da Orks also indicates of the existence of more specialised castes such as Bankaboyz, who controlled the Orks' supply of 'teef' (see Kurrency below), Yellerz who function as Orkish priests, and Brewerz who made beer; however, as the game became more combat-oriented, these were never mentioned again. Even Waagh da Orks gives no information on them other than their bare existence; it may be assumed that when the Orks go to war, these castes fight as ordinary Slugga (pistol) & Choppa (axe, large knives, clubs, pipes etc.) armed Boyz.The boyz who can afford it acquire big bore two handed guns, Shootas, and the boyz with even more teef buy big shootas, weapons that buck and spark at the pull of the trigger. Orks are brutish and speak with a low rumble and the occasional curse.

Later versions

As the game evolved, some of the clunkier (if more flavour-filled) rules regarding Orks were dropped, though their culture remained much the same. For example, 'Ere we Go contains several pages of rules for mobs (i.e., squads) of Madboyz, Orks whom 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 ("Waagh! 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 found quite humorous, this was highly time-consuming, and dropped in the later editions, which were streamlined for combat. However, in the Feral Orks PDF, there are new rules for Madboyz. Weaponry such as the Shokk-Attak Gun and Zzap gun were also dropped, but are now reincarnated in the 5th edition of the codex.

The main background change lies in their method of reproduction. According to Waagh da Orks, Orks are born to feral enclaves as Wildboyz. They are then recruited into warbands and fight for a while with primitive weapons such as spears, before being recruited into a Boyz Mob and being given their first gun. If they survive the ensuing ten or twenty years of warfare, they become overwhelmed with the urge to go off 'lookin' fer sumfink' and wander back to their enclaves to breed, developing sexual characteristics on the way. In newer editions, however, adult Orks are constantly giving off spores which lie in the ground, often for years, waiting to develop into Orks or Gretchin. Thus a world invaded by Orks will be troubled by them for hundreds of years to come, even if the original assault is beaten off. The problem is in one way solved by the Orks themselves, however; they fight each other as often as they fight other races, and if they run out of other species to kill, they simply start waging war upon themselves.

The origins of the Orks have also been changed with the arrival of the 3rd edition of Codex: Necrons. In this book, a race called the Krork is described as a hardy green-skinned race, created by the Old Ones to defend their last strongholds against warp spawned horrors. In another part of the codex, there is some text in which the C'tan called the Deceiver expresses surprise that humanity and the Krork have spread everywhere. Since humanity and the orks are the most numerous races in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the connection is obvious (as is the name similarity). The book Xenology also implies that the Orks were created by an ancient race.

Ork weaponry is built by the Mekboyz or Mekanikz, as well as being captured from enemies or delivered as tribute. Weaponry is intentionally portrayed as being Heath Robinson-esque often steam-driven with clunky, early-industrial driving belts, hillbilly armor, and extraneous bells, whistles, and gongs. More recently, vehicles have spouted pollutants from wasteful engines, been coated in riveted plates, and altogether seem built from scrap parts. Weapons are often based on teleporter and force field technology, which the robust Ork physiology can use more easily than humans. A weapon found in 'Ere we Go, and reintroduced in the latest codex, is the Snotling Teleport Gun (also known as the Shokk Attack Gun). Snotlings are a tiny, Orkoid race even smaller than Gretchin and less bright than Orks, thus they are not usually of much use in combat. The weapon sends the Snotlings through a tunnel through a daemon-infested alternate dimension known as the Warp. The horrors the Snotlings experience drive them mad, and they emerge inside enemy power armor or vehicles as a biting, scratching mass. The Teleport Gun suffered from severe inaccuracy, but could be quite effective when it did hit.

In their current incarnation, Orks are very much a close-combat-optimised species, their weapons having short range and low accuracy - though this can sometimes be made up by sheer numbers. Orks are quite cheap in terms of in-game points, that is, it is possible to build a very large army, colloquially known as a 'sea of green' or 'green tide' from the skin colour. This is often necessary, since the effectiveness of an individual Ork at anything but the shortest range is small, and the Ork commander must be prepared to absorb considerable casualties in his effort to close in for a 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.


Orks are green-skinned, a side effect of their symbiotic relationship with fungi (explained in more detail below). Orks are genetically engineered for combat, and quite efficiently so. They are extremely strong, and their squat bodies can withstand immense punishment. This is fortunate since the Painboyz operate on a generally nineteenth-century level of "surjikul" knowledge; unlike humans, though, Orks are quite capable of having limbs (or even heads) freely chopped and swapped onto a different body, and surviving the experience to fight again.

They eat fungi of all kinds as well as meat. A particularly favoured ingredient in their diet are Squigs, short for 'Squiggly beasts' — a variety of symbiotic races about the size of a cat but only possessing a set of lower legs or no legs at all. In earlier editions, Squigs were said to be a form of Tyranid with Ork genes. These include the "Eatin' Squig", a limbless blob which feeds on fungus, the "Growler Squig", a legged variety used as a sheepdog for Gretchin (in third and fourth editions referred to as a "Squighound" and available as an item of wargear), the "Attack Squig" a powerfully voracious little beast available as an item of wargear, and the "Face-eater Squig", a ferociously toothed variety used both as a weapon and for entries in face-eating contests. (The Ork and the Squig both open their mouths and bite, in a parody of a kiss. If the Ork eats the Squig, he wins. If he keels over backwards, he loses.) There is also a larger sub-species of Squig, called a Squiggoth, that ranges in size from about that of an elephant to a 60-plus-foot monstrosity capable of stomping buildings into rubble. Squiggoths are used as pack animals and in combat as the carriers of mobile fortresses. Another species of Squig is the "Hair-Squig" which the Orks do not eat, but wear on their heads as a form of decoration, as Orks are naturally hairless. Orks are known for pitying Humans (uumies) for their lack of proper Hair squigs of varying colors.

Orks grow all through their lives, though the average Ork stands around the same height as the average man. The Ork would be far taller if he were only to stand up straight. In their normal walking and standing pose Orks hide about a foot in height; when standing normally in their pose they look similar to a gorilla. Orks growth rates can vary, however. The effect is notable in extremely aggressive 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 (short for "noble," but pronounced "knob"), a leader of Orks, noticeably larger, tougher, and a darker green than the average. Once he begins to grow, an Ork will generally keep getting bigger, stronger, and greener until he is beaten by a bigger or more cunning Ork. Warbosses and Warlords, the rulers of continents and empires, are very large Orks indeed, often standing over three meters (10') tall or higher. Ghazghkull himself is a towering 6 meters (19'6") in height.

Assuming they aren't killed in combat, a buggy accident or by a rival, an Ork will live indefinitely. As such, Orks seem to live longer the more powerful they are, with Ghazghkull possibly being a hundred years old. It seems Ork warbosses live a similarly long time unless a rival or enemy does them in first. The process causing this is unknown, but most likely another legacy of the old ones genetic manipulation, designed to create a more permanent leadership base for the Orks.

The Waaagh!

Ork behavior is dominated by the Waaagh!, a gestalt psychic field they generate that affects the Ork psyche, as it allows Orks to instinctively recognize who is 'bigga' and therefore in charge. All Orks generate this field, and it grows stronger as the Orks enjoy themselves, generally while fighting. The Waaagh! helps give momentum (and the name) to the Orks' planet-crushing Waaagh!s. These Waaagh!s are a cross between a mass migration, holy war, looting party and pub crawl, with a bit of genocide thrown in for good measure. Millions of Orks will gather together, drawn to the power of a single dominant Ork called a Warboss, who is larger and more intelligent than the Orks around him. Then the Orks will set off to find an enemy to fight - any enemy. Ork Waaagh!s 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. In some cases, Warlords eventually forge their Waaagh! into an empire, although very different to the Imperium. The most famous is Charadon, which has been ruled for centuries by successive emperors called 'Arch Arsonist,' while the Octarius empire is run by the Overfiend ("Overfiend" being a title used as a nickname for Andy Chambers, a former high-level Games Workshop Games Developer).

The Waaagh! is also used to refer to an Ork Warboss' army.


Orks consist of two symbiotic organisms: one comparable to a terrestrial animal and the other to an alga or fungus living in the first's bloodstream. The animal cells carry the genetic information of only the individual's subspecies, but the alga has genetic information for all the varieties of Orkoid, as well as the different Oddboyz. The alga also helps heal wounds quickly. If an Ork loses an arm, and has it stitched back on, the wound will be healed enough to go smash some heads within a day. Ork biology lends itself well to combat; they are extraordinarily strong and tough and are naturally good fighters, always looking for a scrap.


Orks draw their heritage and unique biology from genetic modification by a now extinct master race, referred to in Ork legends as "Brain Boyz".

In the first edition of the game, Brain Boyz were the ancestors to the Snotlings. The Brain Boyz soared to intelligence upon eating a particular species of mushroom and spread across the galaxy with the help of their less intelligent Ork slaves, but whose empire fell apart when the Orks consumed all traces of the mushroom which only grew on their home planet. Before the Brain Boyz regressed into the permanently juvenile Snotlings, they genetically engineered the Orks' DNA to include a 'techno gene'. This gene developed in Orks as they grew, influencing their minds and releasing encoded knowledge; in a similar way that a human baby will reflexively hold its breath under water or a horse can walk half an hour after being born, an Ork's techno gene gave it information on how to fight, operate weapons, and speak his language. Ork specialists, such as Mekboyz and Painboyz, are the mechanics and surgeons of Ork society, and receive their knowledge through these techno genes. It seems this was a deliberate measure to ensure that the Orkoid race would survive in a hostile universe.

After the release of Gorkamorka and the revision to the Ork reproductive system presented therein, the Orks' heritage was revised to match the prominent role of the Old Ones in the game background of later 40k releases. The current story is that Brain Boyz were supervisors of the Old Ones, and the Orks are the descendants of the green-skinned Krork, created as a survivor race by the Old Ones in their wars against the Necrontyr. However, when the war was over it didn't take long for the krork to rebel. To ensure their masters' creations would not be wiped out they encoded the various techno genes into them and thus as a short time went by they regressed into snotlings and their legacy as well as the old ones was wiped from history.


In previous editions of 40k, Orks reproduced when they got old; wandering into the wilderness to die, with new Orks budding off the corpse. Later, this was retconned so that the old Orks would gestate a litter of Orks in a marsupial-like pouch, raising the young orks in orky kulture. In 'Gorkamorka', this was retconned again into the current version, which follows:

"Orks have not only survived, they have prospered and are more numerous than humanity. This at least is due in part to how they reproduce. Orks reproduce through the release of spores, which grow into a plant-like womb underground that nourishes the bodies of the various Orkoid species. This is the entire basis of the Orkoid ecosystem, producing first Squigs, then Snotlings who cultivate the Squigs and fungus, then Gretchin to build the settlements, and finally the Orks themselves. This means the Orks, where ever they go, will have an abundance of food, slaves and other resources, a moving ecosystem that supports them as they go on their Waaaghs!"

This also makes it extremely difficult to rid a planet of Orks, even if the initial invasion is defeated. Orks release spores throughout their lives, but they mass-release them at the moment of death; to prevent this you must burn the bodies shortly after killing them (within, as said in the Fifteen Hours novel, around seven hours, as the battle took around five hours, and Bulaven mentioned they would start walking around again in two hours) and then burn their bodies and heads. Without a nearby population of Orks, the fungus will eventually start the Ork life cycle anew. Decades after weathering an Ork Waaagh!, settlements on a planet can find themselves faced with an unexpected attack from feral Ork tribes coming out of the wilderness.

Orkoid subspecies

Gretchin are the Orks' slaves. Small, grasping, green creatures with the overall demeanor of a whipped dog, gretchin are at the wrong end of everything, including the food chain. Gretchin are used to clear minefields, distract the enemy in combat, assist Oddboyz, are often used as meat shields and act as a living carpet for larger Orks to cross difficult ground. A rule for this (Gretchin providing cover for Ork units) existed until the most recent Codex (In the 5th edition rules, Gretchin still provide cover, but the ability is not unique to them as all units provide cover for those behind them). In fact, it has been joked by some hobbyists that if Gretchin do anything correctly, they will either be injured, or die. They are overall similar to the Warhammer Fantasy goblins. Snotlings are weaker still and form the bottom rung of Ork society. They originally were used in swarms like in Warhammer Fantasy and could even be fired out of a shokk attack gun. In the current version thay are no longer available in actual combat but are again used in the shokk attack gun, though they are not represented by models.

More unusual are the squigs. Squigs are animals that share the same general algae-based biology of the Orks and gretchin, and are used as food, clothing, weapons and even hair, being trained as guard squigs and attack squigs, as well as super-massive squiggoths.

In the first and second editions of the game, squigs were the result of Tyranid manipulation of Orkish gene-matter and could be present in either army. Orks were said to have discovered the first squigs aboard a Tyranid bio-ship and recognised them as being "Orky", subsequently taking the little creatures home. Squigs then spread throughout Ork space. However, since this conflicts with the more recent descriptions of the Orkoid ecosystem, this has been dropped. Squigs are now exclusively orky, with ripper swarms replacing them in the Tyranid list.


Although a standard Ork's genetically encoded knowledge allows him to survive at a basic level, keep his weapons in working order and fight in battle, there is always a need for specialists who can do things most can't. Some Orks possess knowledge of very specific and often extremely complicated things far beyond a regular Ork's mental capacity. These Orks are known as Oddboyz. These inate talents are believed to have been purposely written into the genetic code of the Orks by the Brain boyz to ensure that the race could not only survive without their masters but also flourish and expand across the galaxy. Although there are probably countless different Oddboyz to fill all the necessary roles in Ork society only a handful are fully recognized and respected by Orks, probably due to their crucial roles in Ork warfare as well as lifestyle.

Mad Doks (also known as 'Painboyz') are responsible for fixing injuries that even the Ork physiology can't repair, such as severed limbs and brain damage. An Ork will only go to the Dok when he has no other choice, as these Oddboyz are infamous for trying out experimental procedures (such as the greatly feared squig brain transplant) on patients while they are under anesthesia (known as "concussion" to other races). Doks are responsible for attaching bioniks, although sometimes they aren't paying attention and replace the wrong part of the patient's body. (For example, Dok Blag's Mk I Exploding Leg.) High-ranking Doks are known as 'painbosses' and are known to be accompanied by cybork bodyguards.

Yellerz are Orks which have been naturally gifted with an incredibly loud voice. These Orks' usefulness is nowhere near as important as the majority of the other Oddboyz and they do not make an appearance in the 40K game. They do however appear in the specialist game Epic where they sit on top of Ork titans, known as Gargants. These are huge lumbering constructions built in the image of the Ork gods by Mekboyz. Using an amplifier to further increase their voices' volume, they shout communications to other Orks and Gargants and in return they themselves receive communications and orders from other Yellerz. Off the battlefield Yellerz also act as priests in Ork society, preaching to their brethren with their supernatural voices.

Mekboyz (also known as 'Mekaniks' or just 'Meks') are Ork engineers, who build all the gunz, vehicles, and other machines used by Orks. They are especially important to Speed Freeks. Important meks are known as 'Big Meks'. Their main cause of death would be officially listed as 'eksperiment (sic) gone wrong' if Orks bothered with all that sort of thing. In the current edition of Codex: Orks, Mekboyz can lead mobs of "Burna Boyz" or "Lootas" as well as repair vehicles using their equipment "Mekboy's tools." In the 5th edition main rules, Big Meks can also be used to lead an Ork army.

Pigdoks are an odd combination of Dok and Mek, although not as skilled as either individually. They are found in feral Ork tribes, tending the boars that are ridden to battle by the primitives. Their main use in battle is to provide 'doping' to increase the ferocity of the various beasts that feral Orks take to war, as well as some of the Orks themselves. Skilled pigdoks have been known to "swap" the hind legs with a single track/wheel and a big loud engine.

Slavers (also known as 'runtherdz') are the Orks who have the patience to take care of gretchin, squigs and any other slaves or creatures the Orks may have captured. Their trademark weapons are the whip and grabba stikk.

Wyrdboyz (also spelled Weirdboyz) are Ork psykers. One major difference between them and the psykers of other races is that, instead of drawing upon the power of The Warp, a dangerous realm full of daemons, wyrdboyz draw on the power of the Waaagh! When drawing on the power of the Waaagh! Ork wyrdboyz are not in any less danger: if they soak up too much of this power, their heads explode. This is much like a catastrophic mistake for a Warhammer Fantasy greenskin shaman. In addition to the wyrdboy'z head exploding, the powerful psychic backlash that is unleashed can cause other Orks' heads to explode as well. Naturally, wyrdboyz avoid combat as much as possible, but the ability to gout green flame capable of melting armor and shoot bolts of lightning is too great for most warbosses to resist, and they get dragged into combat anyway. Some wyrdboyz actually become addicted to battle as most other Orks and seek out battles; these exceptionally dangerous individuals are known as Warpheads. Wyrdboys have made a comeback in the revised 4th edition Ork codex.

Smartboyz were first seen in the graphic novel Deff Skwadron, which featured the name Smartboyz several times, most often for the character Gimzod, a co-pilot. Judging by Gimzod's role, Smartboyz seems to be the name for normal fighter type Orks who are oddly intelligent, and who often find themselves used to help bigger Bosses on their missions in several things that the Boss might forget, like reminding them of their actual mission. Gimzod in particular was able to spell many words with an "h" in them, and often had a clear overview on the current situation. It is unclear where exactly a Smartboy stands in the Ork hierarchy. However, Gimzod's Boss once said: "There's a difference between bein' smartboy an' bein' a smart git.", indicating that Gimzod is only useful to him as long as he knows his place. It is also possible that Smartboyz are only tolerated in the Blood Axe clan and would be killed in other Clans because of being too un-Orky ('ez too tellagit!).

Other oddboyz include Sumboyz (bankers/accountants), Minderz (Bodyguards for Weirdboyz), Flyboyz (Pilots of aircraft and some spacecraft), Diggerz (Miners and tunnelers), and Brewboyz (alcohol manufacturers), all of whom have an important role in ork society (although not necessarily on the battlefield).

There are also many other oddboyz varieties whose role in Ork society is either barely noticed or are of no use in most battles, and are therefore never given much attention. Their talents however are essential to Orkz all the same and some dedicated players have been known to invent them to add more character to their Ork armies and Ork background in general.

In the 1st edition of Warhammer 40,000 an Ork Navigator made an appearance. This is the only mention of such a character and no explanation has since been offered for how the Orks navigate through Warp-space. It should be noted that this character was a psyker and, as the term "Weirdboy" was not yet in use back then, it is possible that Weirdboyz now fulfill this function in the current background.


Orks gather into various levels of organization. The first is the mob, a squad-level unit of Orks with similar ideas of how to act on the battlefield, generally led by a Nob (a person - Ork, in this case - of wealth or social importance. It is short for "noble," but is pronounced "knob"). A number of mobs will gather together into a warband, which is roughly equivalent to an Imperial Guard company (although with a greater variation in size), led by a warboss. The largest organizational unit is the tribe, a group of numerous warbands all under the command of a warboss. Different tribes can be united by a powerful warlord when he raises a Waaagh!.


The Orks speak the same language that most humans do, although due to possessing tusks they can't pronounce words in the same way. For example, they seem unable to voice some letters, such as the letter "h", or "er". Therefore, they pronounce words such as "hunter" as "'Unta", "head" as "'Ead". (note: while this is usually the case, it is not always so. In the Ork Codex 2007, there is listed a famous Ork: "The Mighty Mangler". It seems honorifics, notably those of the Orcs of Warhammer Fantasy, are not limited in orkish speech) Shooter becomes shoota, and so forth. Their speech seems largely based on a Cockney or Estuary English accent, although it is important to note that English is only used to represent the Imperial language so we can understand it; humans actually speak Low Gothic and High Gothic which are descended from today's languages but almost certainly unintelligible to us. In the game's 2nd edition (and repeated with additions and modifications in the game Gorkamorka), the orks have a runic/glyphic language, with simple symbols used to carry the meaning of certain words (generally battlefield/mechanical concepts) with glyphs capable of spelling words without a specific symbol. While this has not been carried into the 3rd edition codex, your average ork warband will still be covered in these glyphs, often painted in clan colours.

Orks seem incapable of making the "th" sound with tongue and tooth, therefore they simply spit out an "f" sound, producing words like "teef", "fings", and "fink" as opposed to "teeth", "things", and "think".

In addition, they do not pluralise in the same fashion as humans, preferring the harsh buzzing of 'z' to the soft hissing of 's.' So, the term for multiple Orks armed with sluggas and choppas is Slugga Boyz, and so on for Mekboyz, Grotz, Mad Dokz, etc.

When (and if) an ork spells something in glyphic, it should be done "Fohnetikalee" (phonetically).


Orks believe in two gods - Gork and Mork - of which Gork is the god of brutal cunning (Brutal but kunnin') and the other; Mork, is the god of cunning brutality (Kunnin' but brutal), the subtle distinction being that one hits you when you're not looking at him, and the other hits you hard when you are. There is a different mythology sometimes portrayed in which Gork and Mork are the gods of Defense and Attack. Orks can't agree which god plays which role, and debates about this topic often erupt into fighting (Although generally Gork is considered the more brutal by players, and Mork the more cunning, possibly due to their roles in gorkamorka, in which a Gorker was better at fighting, and a Morker better at driving). The priesthood of these gods has no in-game representation, although the infamous Goff Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka claims to be receiving visions from both. Also, there has been some mention of Yellerz (the ork version of a priest) although they are not seen ingame. In earlier versions a third god, Bork, appeared, but has since been dropped. Orks generally tend to distinguish between Gork and Mork as one being mean, and the other being meaner. Some divisions lie in determining who is meaner; another factor preventing Orks from being united. It is doubtful if the distinction between Gork and Mork means anything in Ork culture, as long as it allows them to bash something. Perhaps Gork and Mork are actually one god.

In the specialist game Gorkamorka, the surviving Orks of a space hulk crash on a desert planet and desperately try to rebuild a spacecraft from the ruins of their previous one so that they may leave the planet and rejoin the Waaagh! There are many theories about how this new spacecraft would do this, including the notion that it is really an enormous teleportation device which will transport all the Orks on to a passing spacehulk or friendly Ork craft. Another theory is that the monstrosity will simply take off into space with all the Orks aboard. However as the new space craft grew in size it began to gain a similarity to one of the Ork gods just as Ork Gargants do. This of course immediately led to a violent debate erupting between all the Orks present as to which god it looks like. Those that believe it looked more like Gork called themselves Gorkers and those who thought it to be Mork called themselves Morkers and the society was split in two. The rivalry between the two sides became the biggest obstacle to the Orks ever leaving the planet because as soon as they stopped concentrating on finding a way off the planet and started fighting each other, construction on the new space craft slowed to a practical halt and the battle between the two sides practically destroyed it. The Meks then decided to call the figure Gorkamorka to stop any future fighting and allowed any Ork to believe it was either Gork or Mork. This is just another example of how the Orks' built-in animosity has held back their progress severely and how their religion can inspire their violent tendencies. Perhaps this character flaw was purposely built into Ork personality by their ancient creators in order to prevent them from ever growing too powerful.


Orks use their teeth ("teef") as currency. This is quite a natural solution to inflation and income support, as orks go through teeth in a similar manner to sharks, replacing them quite frequently, and they degrade over time, so it is impossible to hoard them. This keeps prices constant, ensures all orks have access to money, and allows constant values to be placed on commodities. A toof will buy a good squig pie and a tankard of fungus beer, while a bag of teef will buy a cheap buggy. A big flash battlewagon could cost a warboss hundreds of teef (though they need not all be his). In some stories there are references to captured human scientists developing a preservative which slows down teef degradation, and making some warbosses rich and as a consequence fueling inflation.

The Bad Moonz are one of the richest clanz (See below) due to their slight genetic difference which makes their teeth grow earlier and quicker, making them richer than the other clanz.

The way that they "make" their money has also been joked about many times. It is stated that if one Ork wishes to rob another Ork the former only has to hold down the latter and beat his face until all the teeth have fallen out.

Da klanz

Ork klanz are not communities but rather philosophical delineations of the different varieties of Ork. Each has its own colours, markings, and ways of waging war. Orks tend to form warbands with others who follow the same clan, but different groups tend to be lumped together after suffering casualties during a Waaagh!. There are six famous clans:

Bad Moonz

The Bad Moonz are the richest Orks around, because their teeth grow faster than anyone else's (this shows that, at least in one case, the clan affiliation has a physical effect). The other Clanz don't mind this, because they figure that if they want more money, they can always knock a Bad Moon Ork over the head and take his teef. They trade with other Orks to get the biggest guns, the flashiest gear, and the best food, but are not as concerned with close combat as other Orks, perhaps due to their larger girth. They have been noted to have a greater proportion of wyrdboyz than other clans, but they still do not appear past the feral stage. Other notable troops of the Bad Moonz are the Flash Gitz. They are very effective ranged fighters, but are cut down in melee fighting. They are obsessed with their Kustom Shootas,and they give the Orkz's Waaagh! some much needed firepower by mowing down enemies at a distance while the other boyz charge in. They spend so much time polishing and upgrading their Shootas and are so over equipped that they are often ridiculed by the other Orks. Their marks are the yellow crescent moon and the black flames. Warboss Nazdreg Ug Urdgrub is a member of the Bad Moonz clan, as is Kaptin Badrukk.

Blood Axez

The Blood Axez were the first Ork clan to encounter the forces of the Imperium, and as a result, of all Ork clans, they have the best understanding of human culture. They have picked up many human tactics, such as using camouflage (although it may seem a bit too brightly coloured to a human's eye, as their idea of camouflage is much more vibrant) and retreating when they're losing ("it don't count as losing, cuz we can also come back for anuvver go, see?"). They trade with humans for equipment and vehicles, and have even worked as mercenaries for the Imperium at times (such as the Battle at Big Toof River). All of these things lead followers of other clanz to brand them as dangerously treacherous, cowardly, and, worst of all, "un-Orky" so they are often abused or even targeted for destruction by other Orks. However, other Orks often fail to notice that when Blood Axes retreat, they usually go back 'fer anuvver go' properly reinforced, with more Boyz and larger gunz. Many Blood Axes are back-stabbing 'kommandos'. The Blood Axez symbol is a pair of crossed axes, although the backstabba mob has their own mark, a large knife dripping blood. The Blood Axes were once one of the wealthiest clans until most of them were wiped out in a battle with other clans called 'Da Big Party.' Judging by their use of ranks and their love for medals by their leaders, it can be assumed that the members of the Fly Boyz are actually Blood Axez.

Death Skulls

The Death Skulls (also known as Deff Skullz) are looters who grab whatever they can from corpses on the battlefield, although they aren't above taking things from other Orks who aren't watching. This has earned them the name of "Thieving gitz who take anyfing dat izn't nailed down" by the other Orks. They collect anything that might be useful, as well as various lucky trinkets and charms. They are superstitious even for Orks, and often paint themselves blue (which Orks feel is a lucky color) to protect themselves from harm. It is not uncommon to find looted vehicles in Death Skull armies, such as Chimeras and Rhinos. Their symbol is the horned skull. Deathskulls have a larger number of gretchin compared to other clanz, as the grots are used to scout around, helping their ork masters to look for gubbinz they can steal. In battles these gretchin will often be fielded right in front of the orks themselves, for obvious reasons. Painters often use the "Braveheart-style" of facepaint when painting Death Skull models. According to older background, the Death Skull clan produced more Mad Docs than other clans and in that vein Mad Dok Grotsnik was a Death Skull before his 'accident.'

Evil Sunz

The Evil Sunz love going fast, and thus most join the Kult of Speed. Even warbands that haven't given completely over to their love of speed will often have many bikes or vehicles in their force. The clan also contains more Mekboyz than most, and therefore they often field more mechanical creations than other clanz. Their symbol is a red sun with a grimacing face. The Evil Sun symbol is also found in Warhammer Fantasy. Most vehicles of the Evil Sunz are painted red with flames down the side to tie in with their main belief that "Da red wunz go fasta!"


The Goffs (pronounced as if an ork was pronouncing 'goth', hence the Goff's distinctive colours) are the toughest and most brutal Orks, roughly equivalent to Warhammer Fantasy Black Orcs. They value close combat above all else, preferring to carry an array of weapons for close-quarters fighting, and look down with disdain on the other clans who hang back to shoot when they could be experiencing the thrill of fighting hand-to-hand. They have a large proportion of veteran Skarboyz and also carry a lot of units called stormboyz, orks with crude 'rokkit packz'. Goffs dress mostly in black, with some white checks for relief, as they see bright colors as being un-Orky. Anyone deviating too much from the Clan colour scheme will at best be given a "right good kicking" or at worst be booted out of Da Clan or even killed by a passing Nob or Warboss as an example. Their symbol is the black or red bull's head, and Nobz almost always wear big horns on their helmets. Great Overlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka is the most famous member of the Goff Clan.


The Snakebites prefer tradition to technology, shunning things like force fields and vehicles in favor of protecting themselves with war paint and riding into battle on huge boars. Depending on how fundamental they are, they may remain as feral Orks even after their civilization can advance to the next stage. Snakebites' symbol is the venomous serpent (or in some cases a boar's head), and they always take some along so they can have initiation rituals where Orks endure being bitten. A feature of the army are the Boarboyz, Orks who ride into battle on giant boars and cyboars (mechanically-enhanced boars), they also feature the largest number of Herdas, Runtherdz and 'active' Wyrdboyz (due to their society remaining in the feral state for longer if not indefinite periods).

The Kult of Speed

Although most Orks prefer slaughter and explosions, some become addicted to driving very fast. These crazy individuals band together in 'Kults of Speed' (known as Speed Freeks to the Orks), complete with their own mobs and warbands, full of buggies, bikes, and trukks. Most vehicles are painted red as, according to Orky superstition, "Da red wunz go fasta!" They rely on meks to build and maintain their vehicles, and sometimes a warband is even led by a Big Mek instead of a Warboss. The Kult of Speed is not a true Klan as such: many orks from different klans will fall to the addiction of being the fastest. Speed kults can include any of the previously mentioned klans, from looted tank filled deathskull armour warbandz, to regimented bloodaxe armour "krumpanies", to Goff warbandz chock full of trukks and boyz trying to get into combat first. The Evil Sunz are the most common of all Speed kultists, and it is from them the common stereotype originates. Wazdakka Gutzmek is an Evil Sunz Bad Ork Bike Boy member of the Kult of Speed.


A subset of the Kult of Speed, some Orks in their desire for speed crave to fly through the air like birds. Their demand and addiction for speed cannot be satisfied on the ground, so they take to the skies in cobbled together aircraft, taking great pleasure in divebombing enemy (and friendly) targets. Flyboyz are considered very mad (even by Ork standards), and will often live in semi-exile, only associating with other Flyboyz, Gretchin slaves, and the Meks responsible for maintaining their 'fighta-bommaz'.

A graphic novel called Deff Skwadron covers the lives of Flyboyz and breaks down the use of an Orky airplane. Notable parts are the brakes which are often removed, the gun-sight which is almost never used, the fuel lines wired through the cockpit in case the pilot gets thirsty, the dials that nobody knows what they do and also the 'steery-stick'.

Feral Orks

Feral Orks are the prestage to the common codex-orks, and is the stage most Orks begin with when the first Orks are born from fungus spore and form a new society. Official army lists have been published allowing their use in the main Warhammer 40,000 game as well as in Epic. However; in the UK Grand Tournaments the Feral Ork and Snakebite lists are now illegal.. Special units to be found in a Feral Ork army include Boarboyz, who ride wild boars and Squiggoths, giant dinosaur-like monsters used as fighting machines.


Ork technology (or "teknologee") appears ramshackle and slapped-together, but is as potent as any weapons used by the Imperium or other races, except for the ones they make themselves. 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 (a huge land-based walker), or the fastest buggy. Therefore, Ork technology is not uniform, lending Ork warbands a cobbled together and random appearance. Ork mechanics ("Mekboyz") are specialists in the field of producing powerful force fields that can protect against damage, and at battlefield improvisation of repairs. Traditionally, ork meks are masters of teleportation, force field and tractor cannon technology, all technologies used when hitching onto space hulks (large conglomerations of interstellar wreckage used by the orks as improvised transport ships/battleships). They are superior to even the Eldar in these fields, as the Third War for Armageddon shows. They can salvage almost any burnt-out wreck (including some Imperium vehicles), 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. It can also be done with weapons, producing kombi-skorchas built from looted Imperial heavy flamers, or big shootas made from redesigned heavy bolters. The tough, resilient nature of Orks means they accept crude bionics, transplants, and other medical shenanigans being performed on them with ease. This physiological quirk is necessary for bionics to function, since Ork bio-medical technology is quite crude (as is most surgery performed by axe) but, as always, effective.

Quite a lot of Ork technology should not, logically, work at all, but does anyway in the hands of the Orks, due to the latent psychic energy that the Orks project - in other words, if an Ork believes something will work, it might well do. This explains why Ork weapon often don't work when others try to use their technology, and why, though there is no scientific explanation for it, Ork vehicles painted red really do go faster than others.


An Ork army gives its commanding player numerical superiority on the battlefield (in fact, in the game Dawn of War, some of their technology depends on it), as Ork units are less point-intensive than that of other races. The downside of this is that Ork units perform poorly in individual ranged combat, and, like the Imperial Guard, require massed volleys of fire to ensure sufficient damage. Their melee abilities, however, are much more satisfactory (their close combat stats are on par with the space marines), giving them an edge in close combat and hand-to-hand battles. In addition, Ork armies can use a variety of original and interesting rule sets to help give them an edge over their opponents.

Secondly, Ork armies are very customizable; orks are easily converted (in fact, the battle fortresses of most players are little more than a mountain of leftover vehicle parts and weapons). Furthermore, looted vehicles add a huge variety of options when it comes to personalizing your army.

Thirdly, Ork armies, with their ramshackle vehicles and unusual inventions, are far less conventional than most of the other forces available in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The unique (and often humorous) nature of the Orks contrasts sharply with the more serious tone of other armies, which may appeal to players who prefer a lighter edge on Warhammer 40,000's dark future scenario.

The simple ideology of the Orks ("We'z gonna smash dem Oomies ta bits n' pieces") allows for fewer hard feelings after what can sometimes be a game that leads to animosity between players. Even if da Boss dies, the biggest surviving Ork will gladly take charge after a battle and maintain the crude Orky heirarchy that his late superior worked so hard to instill. It is such that an Ork army can be decapitated a great number of times before losing momentum.

As a result, if da Boss falls in combat, da Army stays fully operable. This comes at contrast with most other Races, who realistically have a set-in-stone command structure that, once destroyed, effectively brings the Army down with them. The Orks are as tough as nails, and any given Army's survivability truly goes to show that "da Orks is da best, an pinky oomie skin ain't nuffin nex ta a fine set o' green hide".

Current edition

The 5th Edition Codex:Orks (released shortly before 5th edition) was published on the 12th of January 2008.. New units such as weirdboyz and painboyz have been introduced, and many of the old Ork models such as trukks and warbikes were re-done. In addition, rules for weapons such as the choppa have been dropped, and weapons that were phased-out of the game altogether, like shokk-attack gunz have returned.


  • Chambers, Andy; Thorpe, Gav, and Priestley, Rick (1997). Gorkamorka: Da Uvver Book. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-872372-55-4.
  • Chambers, Andy (2001). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Orks. 2nd Edition, Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-869893-38-7.
  • Chambers, Andy; and Thorpe, Gav (1998). Digganob. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-872372-01-5.
  • Johnson, Jervis (1993). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Orks. 1st Edition, Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-872372-95-3.
  • Scanlon, Michael (2005). Fifteen Hours. Nottingham: Black Library. ISBN 1-84416-231-1.
  • Chambers, Andy; Haines, Pete; McNeill, Graham; Kelly, Phil and Hoare, Andy (2002). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Necrons. 2nd Edition, Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-190-7.
  • Priestly, Rick; Alan Merrett, Jim Bambra, Mike Brunton, Sean Masterson, John Blanche (1988.). Warhammer 40000 Chapter Approved: Book of the Astronomican. Nottingham: Games Workshop.

See also

Search another word or see bells, whistles, and gongson Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature