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40K Lore: Greenskins – A Look At The Little Guys

5 Minute Read
Sep 15 2018

Loremasters, today we’re going to take a look at Ork society from the ground-up by starting with the oft overlooked Snotlings and Gretchin. These two sub-species of Greenskins play a surprisingly important roles. Read on to learn more.

The Orkoid Genus (collectively dubbed Greenskins) are divided into several different species. Gretchin, Snotlings, Squigs and even Orkoid Fungus are all part of the Ork ecosystem and society. While the larger Orks might be where the name of the Genus comes from, each one of those other species plays a significant role in keeping their society running.

Today we’re going to focus on the humble Snotling and the cunning Gretchin species. What roles do they serve and how do they make an impact on Ork society as a whole.

Snotlings – The Runts of the Herd

The Snotlings (sometimes called Snots) are an Orkoid species.

They are tiny beings that appear as small Gretchin, and being so, occupy what is perhaps the lowest rung of Ork society. While the Gretchin serve as servants and other secondary positions in Ork society, Snotlings will serve sometimes as “pets,” but more often they serve in Orkish agricultural and animal husbandry roles due to their affinity with the fungus and squigs that appear in Ork settlements. Supervised and trained by Runtherds, Snotlings will cultivate the fungus to provide Orks with food, drink, and medicine. Snotlings’ affinity with squigs usually ensures that only a few dozen Snotlings are eaten by their “livestock” on any given day.

The exact nature of the Snotlings is the subject of some controversy. Ork legend tells of a lost race of Orkoids that were highly intelligent, called the “Brainboyz” by the Orks. The Brainboyz created the other Orkoid species as a means of protection, while at the same time directing Greenskin society. What happened next is unknown. Some legends indicate the Brainboyz died out during a great plague (giving the implication that the Brainboyz were really the Old Ones). Other legends indicate that the Brainboyz reverted into the Snotlings.

Snotlings In Battle


The battlefield is particularly unforgiving to the Snotlings, given their lack of the violent tendencies common in the other Orkoid species. The fact that they are weak and simple results in Snotlings using nothing larger and more complex than small rudimentary melee weapons. However, they are possessed of an animalistic intelligence that leads them to be unafraid of anything until it is too late. Their use on the battlefield is largely restricted to being sent through a warp tunnel created by the Shokk Attack Gun, as the weapon’s Warp-maddened “live ammunition”.

Gretchin – Hidden Brains Behind the Brawn

GretchinGrots or Runts are a lesser Orkoid slave race who do the menial tasks which Orks consider themselves above.

Gretchin have a similar physical structure to Ork but are much smaller and weaker. They have short runty legs and grasping fingers to employ their greatest skill, low cunning. They are far more numerous than Orks and have large bulbous heads with tattered ears which flatten when they are scared. They have sharp fanged jaws which are their best physical weapon. They have an excellent sense of smell, hearing and they have effective sight in the dark. These traits aid their self-preservation allowing them to survive in the dangerous Ork society. Some Gretchin have even developed a sixth sense of sorts, or a natural ability to be far more fortunate than they have right to be.

The Gretchin are happy enough in their role. They bear little resentment towards their superiors, for them Orks are just a fact of life. Individual Gretchin can enjoy a relatively comfortable existence by providing valuable services to their Ork masters. Most Grots are owned by Orks as personal servants, though some gather together into loose tribes that may even own functional weapons and equipment. The Gretchin have created an entire enterprise culture of their own within their Ork-dominated society. Many Gretchin operate their own black-market businesses on the side, such as selling fungus-beer, roasting squigs on sticks, coordinating the bets when a fight breaks out or looting corpses for fun and profit.


There is a faction known as Rebel Grots who had too much of their rough treatment and rebelled against their masters. Because of their organisation skills they could sometimes build and maintain war machines and artillery. Because Gretchin are synonymous with cunning, small stature, cowardice, negligent physical prowess and other things considered un-Orky, the term ‘grot’ is used derisively between the larger Ork boyz. i.e. – “Da’ boss needs some real boyz to do this job, not you pack of grotz!”

Though they usually obey to Orks, Gretchin could live on their own – on planets where only Gretchins settled and even could create small Empires in space, that mimic Orks empires completely.

Gretchin In Battle

Gretchin are known for their poor combat abilities, but they compensate for this by sheer numbers. They often go to war with a basic gun firing volleys of scavenged ammunition before falling on their enemies in an fury of killing, ripping them to pieces with their teeth. Orks use Grechin mobs in battle to do everything from minefield clearance to meat shield to living carpet. Some “lucky” Gretchin get to crew Orky artillery known as Big Gunz, and while they are not on the front lines of battle, crewing Big Gunz often comes with hazards such as electrocution, dismemberment and almost assuredly deafening of the crew.

Other uses for Gretchin in battle includes their piloting of Killer Kans, smaller, Gretchin-crewed Deff Dreads, into battle, and their use as turret gunners on vehicles and emplacements. They sometimes also accompany Ork Warlords and Flash Gits as ammo runts, follow Mekboys into the fray as oilers, and run around as orderlies to Painboys. A caste of Oddboyz known as Runtherds acompany the Gretchin into battle, and they are often needed to keep the Gretchin from fleeing the battle. These Orks ofen employ Squig-hounds and Grabba-Stiks to keep their charges in line.

Want to learn more about Orks? Visit the Lexicanum and read about the ways of the Greenskin!


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