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Orks codex

Ork Warboss ornamented with the typical check patterns and red paint

Orks, also known as "Greenskins", are an ancient yet crude alien species of unknown origin. They are extremely aggressive and warlike, easily dissolving to make war upon each other in lack of other opponents. Nevertheless, the species as a whole is probably the most successful in the known universe.

Orks are something of a "comic relief" faction in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, possessing amusing names and comic dialogue with absurd and ramshackle technology.

Orks have been featured in every Dawn of War series game so far: Dawn of War, Dawn of War: Winter Assault, Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, Dawn of War: Soulstorm, Dawn of War II and Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising, and Dawn of War II: Retribution. The games Dawn of War: Winter Assault , Dark Crusade and Soulstorm, and Dawn of War II: Retribution allow playing as Orks in the Campaign gamemode while all games have an Ork multiplayer faction.


Orks art lightning
The history of the Ork race is officially unknown, but it is speculated that they might be descendants of the Krork, one of the warrior races created by the Old Ones to defend against either the Necrons or the Enslaver invasion. This would make the Ork species as ancient as the Eldar, at least 65 million years old.

Their own legends, in contrast, suggest that the Orks were engineered by a lost Orkoid subspecies only known as "Brain Boyz", who acted as a ruling caste in old days. According to Ork legend, the Brain Boyz were wiped out by some sort of galaxy-wide plague.


Ork nob art

An Ork Nob

There are several subspecies of the Ork family, referred to as "Orkoids". The dominant subspecies is the Ork, appearing in different sizes from regular Boyz to elite Nobs, as well as specialized breeds like Weirdboyz and Mekboyz. Other subspecies include the Gretchin, the Snotlings, and several Squig variants from simple cattle to the mighty Squiggoth beasts.

Biologically, the Orks consist of an animal-fungal symbiotic hybrid consisting of two organisms. The base "animal" is augmented by a "fungus" living in the bloodstream and skin. This unique biology makes the Orks extremely well suited for warfare, as they are strong and can easily survive wounds that would be catastrophic for most humanoids.

In addition to mending the Ork bodies, the fungus also contains the genetic code for all Orkoid subspecies. The species actually reproduces by releasing fungal spores, which form womb-like underground growths and start producing the whole Orkoid ecosystem; first Squigs, then Snotling herders, then Gretchin builders, and finally the Ork warriors. This makes the species extremely difficult to eradicate, as a small amount of spores will eventually spawn a full Ork colony as seen in many cases, and hence become a constant menace.

Orks keep growing through all their lives, and successful ones grow even faster, the respect of other Orks boosting their muscle growth and assertive behavior. However, fighting stimulates growth even further. If they are not killed by a challenger, they will eventually grow into Nobs and possibly even Warbosses.

Behavior and culture[]

Society and the Waaagh![]

Ork warboss art

A Warboss

Orks are very primitive and brutal compared to most other sentient species. Their society mainly revolves around physical size and strength, and they cannot think very far ahead. They are mostly concerned about big weapons, loud noises and vehicles that go fast. This is quite lucky for other races, since internal conflicts are probably the only thing preventing Orks from wiping out every other species in the galaxy through sheer numbers.

A central phenomenon related to the Orks is the Waaagh!. The word has several meanings.

Firstly, it's a distorted Low Gothic word "War", which is the Orks' beloved activity.

Secondly, it is their universal battlecry.

Thirdly, it is a gestalt psychic field which makes anything a large amount of Orks believe real, whether it's the strength of their Warboss (or even its position of leadership) or their ramshackle technology.

And, finally, it's used to describe an Ork horde (held together by the psychic field naturally organising the hierarchy) engaged in active warfare. Often numbering in the millions or billions, a "Waaagh!" moves from battle to battle and can ravage entire systems, but it is prone to internal dissent and decapitation strikes.

Economy and religion[]

Orks have a basic economy that employs "teef" (Ork teeth) as currency and a primitive religion centered around two gods, Gork and Mork, the god of cunning brutality and the god of brutal cunning. The natures of Gork and Mork differ in that one would hit you when you are not looking, while the other would just hit you very hard even if you are. The difference is subtle enough for Orks to forget which god is which, and fight over it. Power is also a key part of ork Industry. The crudly made power station are usually stolen or made from material taken from looted planets. The "Shocky Stufz" is used in a surplus of ork inventions like their power claw (used by nobs and warbosses).


Ork mekboy art

An Ork Mekboy

Ork "teknologee" is interesting just because they have some, but for other reasons as well. Ork Mekboys (also known as Mekaniacs) are born with genetically coded, instinctive knowledge of how to build basic weaponry and vehicles. What they build is pretty much slapped together from random parts and shouldn't usually work at all, but the Waaagh! psychic field sort of "fills up the holes", resulting in functional equipment as long as the Orks believe so. In the end their gear is roughly comparable with, say, Imperial equipment, regardless of what it looks like.

Technological progress among the Orks is largely driven by a desire to build the biggest gun or fastest trukk and involves reckless experimentation and testing which is occasionally fatal. Because of Ork physiology, their cybernetic implants – and the procedures to implant them – being very crude (or wildly experimental) is usually not a problem.

See also[]