The Ork, the Wyrdboy and the Essence of the Waaagh
Almost every species in the 40K universe has a presence in the warp; their sentience affecting the ways in which the currents of the Immaterium flow. Members of the Orkoid race also subconsciously create a psychic field that influences every facet of their lives. This background psionic field is called the Waaagh, and is different from the warp in that it is a psychic energy field present in this dimension, not a separate dimension unto itself.
Every Orkoid, from the lowliest Squig to the Mightiest Warboss, generates Waaagh energy. As such, the larger the Ork population in a given area, the stronger the Waaagh becomes. The amount exuded by each Orkoid is not constant; it varies between the sub-species, and with the state of the individual in question. An Ork releases more when it is excited, for example during combat. Also the bigger and more important the Ork, the more Waaagh it produces. The Orks’ hierarchical system is based on this, as each Ork can subconsciously feel the Waaagh field of others, and sense who is in charge.
As well as forming a basis for their hierarchy, the Waaagh affects Orks in several other ways. Physiologically speaking, the Waaagh has a significant effect on the Orkoid race. As field strength increases, the Waaagh accelerates the Orks’ biological processes, leading to an increase in size and muscle mass. Additionally, psychological changes lead to an enhancement of the Orks’ natural aggressive qualities. These effects have been observed in both an individual and group setting. For example, a large community of Orks constantly embroiled in warfare will produce a significantly larger amount of Waaagh than a smaller, more isolated tribe. As such, Orks in the larger community will be bigger and much more aggressive than those in the smaller one. Similarly an individual Ork who fights regularly will be bigger and more aggressive then one who does not. A Greenskin who has achieved feats of Orky valour in battle, or who is preparing to challenge a superior for leadership, will likely have an inflated belief in himself. He will therefore increase in size as he is producing more Waaagh energy.
Orkoids reproduce via spores, upon which the Waaagh can have vast influence. If these spores fall near a large Ork settlement (hence near a strong psychic field) they are unlikely to develop into mature Orkoids, regardless of the suitability of the conditions. This has the effect of ensuring the Orks maintain a suitable population density. Conversely, if a spore falls in and area with a weak or non-existent psychic field, it is far more likely to enter the incubation phase of Ork reproduction.
Within each spore resides the entire Orkoid genome. As such, an individual spore, regardless of its source, can become any of the Orkoid subspecies. The developmental route each spore takes is largely determined by the Waaagh. A weak field will promote the incubation of simple Orkoids (see appendix), which pave the way for a larger Orkoid society by providing food and increasing the strength of the Waaagh field. As the field increases in strength, the ratio of complex to simple Orkoids increases. Sudden changes in the psychic field during incubation have been noted to result in a partially mature Orkoid being scrapped and a new one incubated in its place. This system ensures that by the time the Orks emerge, there is a sufficient foundation upon which they can build a community. It can be said that the Waaagh creates a balancing effect on the spore reproductive system. It encourages spore development up to a point, after which it inhibits all further incubation in order to avoid overcrowding of the Ork populace.
It should be noted that the beliefs of an Ork (or Ork community) can alter the way in which certain aspects of the Waaagh manifest themselves. One example of this involves the Clan system, in which Orks with similar ideologies group together. Members of the Bad Moons Clan display accelerated growth of their teeth, which could be caused by the Ork belief that their teeth should grow faster because they are Bad Moons. Similarly the Goff clan, in which the primary driving force is hand to hand combat, tend to be larger than other Orks. This could be a manifestation of the fact that they believe hand to hand fighting is the best form of combat, so they increase their muscle mass in order to excel at it. One area in the fluff that may cast doubt on this theory lies with the Death Skulls. These Orks daub themselves with blue paint in order to bring luck during battle and the subsequent looting. I am unaware of any fluff that actually states they benefit from this, despite the fact they believe themselves to be luckier than other Orks.
This “belief” theory also applies to Ork technology. An Imperial scholar has theorised that the Waaagh provides the Orks with a form of Telekinesis, allowing them to successfully operate mechanically unsound weapons simply by believing they will work. The theory suggests that an Ork who believes his weapon should fire causes the Waaagh to manifest itself telekinetically in order to allow the weapon to function. In the hands of a Human, Ork weapons do not work at all, yet Orks use them almost constantly with no maintenance whatsoever. The Orkish belief (regarding vehicles) that “Red wunz go fasta” lends support to this theory. Despite the fact that red paint should not affect the maximum velocity of an Ork vehicle, those with red paint schemes do indeed travel faster than comparable, yet differently coloured, vehicles. Many Imperial scholars now doubt the validity of these claims, stating that captured Ork technology is likely too badly damaged to be reliably tested, or utterly incomprehensible to anyone save its creators. As such, Humans cannot accurately test such technology, meaning conclusions drawn from previous tests are unreliable and should be disregarded. These arguments do nothing to explain the additional speed a red paint job grants an Ork vehicle however.
The Waaagh has a distinct effect on Ork migration. Occasionally an ambitious Ork Warboss will develop a desire for conquest and will attempt to increase his standing by uniting nearby Ork tribes (often through open warfare). He will therefore increase in muscle mass and generate more Waaagh. As the Warboss increases in size and importance he will attract a large band of follower thanks to the Waaagh energy he is creating. When sufficient numbers of Orks have gathered under the Warboss’ banner, they all set off on a mass migration aboard any space worthy ship they possess. These migrations, aptly named “Waaaghs” after the power from which they draw their impetus, have been know to decimate entire systems and occasionally set a mighty Warboss up as a ruler of an Ork empire.
As well as its varied effects on the Orkoid race, the Waaagh can be drawn upon by certain members of Ork Society. These Orks are known as Wyrdboyz, and are considered by many to be comparable to the psychers of other races. The Waaagh energy from which the Wyrdboyz draw their power is not inhabited by the daemonic entities of the Immaterium. As such, a Wyrdboy drawing on the power of the Waaagh is in no danger of daemonic possession, but tapping such a vast reserve of energy is hardly risk free. If a Wyrdboy loses control of the flow of he may absorb too much. The resultant release of energy has unfortunate consequences for both the Wyrdboy and any Orks nearby. Most Wyrdboyz avoid battle and its associated risks, but some become corrupted by the powers they wield and actively seek out combat. Many Warbosses consider a Wyrdboy’s abilities too useful to be left out of the fight, and will often force an unwilling Wyrdboy to accompany him to battle. As is the trend with many other subsets of the Oddboyz, Wyrdboyz are rarely seen in tribes above the “feral” level of Ork Technology.
In summary, I can say that all Orkoids create a background field of psychic energy, known as the Waaagh. This psionic field influences every part of the Ork culture, including their physiological, psychological, technological, reproductive and migratory behaviour. The Ork Wyrdboyz can draw upon this energy in order to cast devastating powers, but by doing so run the risk of triggering an explosive auto-cephalectomy. Without such an energy field, Ork civilisation as it currently exists would not be possible. The all-encompassing nature of the Waaagh supports the theory that Orks are a product of design rather than evolution.
Simple Orkoid – Squig (all varieties), Snotling and Gretchin
Complex Orkoids – Orks and Squiggoths