I’ve gone a bit Ork crazy lately. Picking over eBay I have acquired a full compliment of old Ork big guns as well as a few Runt Herds to make sure the dozen or so Gretchin that crew them do as they are supposed to. From there I had to get some Snotlings to be getting in the way and cheering on any lucky hits (with Ork ballistic skill they are all lucky hits). The idea of fielding these fully painted make me itching to crack out the paint right this second!
But what set me on this splurge? Going through Rogue Trader ignited my curiosity and has now led to me completing my Rogue Trader library with the last two books I needed, ‘Ere We Go and Freebooterz. Each book and their accompanying volume Waaagh the Orks! Contain more Orky know whats than you would be able to stuff into one of today’s codexes so it is about time on our Rogue Trader retrospective to give the big green their due.
Orks and Gretchin first appeared in the Rogue Trader rule book and were the main adversary race in 40K. Games Workshop originally intended that players would convert up fantasy miniatures to represent the creatures of the 41st millennium and Orks being a mainstay of fantasy lore were an obvious choice for inclusion as there was an abundance of Ork models to choose for converting.
Their original entry only contained a couple of paragraphs of text explaining who they were and their motivations. They were the first extra terrestrial civilization encountered by humanity during its first tentative steps into the void. Legend has it that both races took a long hard look at each other, didn’t like what they saw and thus began a conflict that has lasted tens of thousands of years. A more likely account is that the Orks started it as they do love a good scrap and here was a new race that could put up a fight and keep coming.
Orks of today do not differ too much from the first description of them from back then. They are a humanoid race two meters tall on average with long powerful limbs. Their heads are bald and brutish with jutting lower jaws, beetling brows and piggish noses. Orks are an extremely violent race with an innate dislike of anything not of the Orkish race. They respect strength above all things and a healthy dose of insane courage.
Their space comprised an area west of the galactic pole though this is constantly in flux as Orks fight other species and amongst themselves. Fleets and armies are the gauge of a ruler’s strength though technology is only of importance to Orks in war.
Gretchin got a couple of paragraphs too as goblins were another source of abundant conversion fodder as well as being another fantasy mainstay. They are described as small, wiry and athletic but not particularly strong. They are cruel and sadistic. They take joy in causing pain in those they have overpowered and captured. They are a slave race considered untrustworthy and expendable.
That is pretty much it. There was some elaboration on their conflict with Man in ‘The Farm’ the first scenario for Rogue Trader set on Rynn’s World where the Crimson Fists attack and Ork party in the wake of the disaster at their chapter monetary. Like all races in Rogue Trader they share the same weapons and equipment as the Imperial forces. There is nothing apart from their stat line and background that really differentiates them from any other unit in the book.
Very little would change with the Orks after the initial release. There appeared a series of scenarios where the Orks were pitted against the Space Wolves which introduced several new ideas that would germinate later such as Mekaniaks, shamanic psykers, veteran Ork squads and light vehicle squadrons.
An Ork dreadnought would see release that could be constructed as ether the standard two armed Killer class or the larger four armed Onslaughter class. The Wartrakk and Hop Splatt field gun which it could tow and a crew for it would follow as well as a spattering of more Ork releases. Adeptus Titanicus would introduce Gargants and through prose shine a spotlight on the Orks themselves.
Taken together these three books represent a codex that could only exist today in the deranged wish listing of a mad Ork obsessed fan-boy. So it is that next time I will be delving into the first of this green trinity, Waaargh Orks.