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"Savage Orcs lay into their enemies with clubs, axes or whatever is needed to cause as much damage as possible."
The barbaric Savage Orcs.[5]

A Savage Orc wearing the distinctive skin and bone armaments.

Savage Orcs are a notorious sub-culture of the Greenskin race, formed by barbaric and fierce Orc tribes that wear no armour and fight with simply made weapons such as maces and clubs.[1c] They are considered a complete bunch of primitives, even by Orcish standards.[3a] Nevertheless, Savage Orcs are notoriously wild and ferocious, even more so than other Orcs, and their enemies regard them as by far the most dangerous of their kind.[2a]



Long ages ago, all Orcs were savages with no means of manufacturing metal weapons, armour or war machines.[1a][4c] These primitive brutes lived a nomadic existence[4c] in the south[3a] using rudimentary weapons to stalk their prey. It is no easy task to bludgeon to death a great land leviathan using only simple clubs, yet such contests proved immensely satisfying to the low-browed warriors. A full day of fighting mammoth creatures followed by eating them was proper living![4c]

These primitive Orcs used flint spears, wooden clubs, and what other weaponry they could steal from more advanced races.[1a][3a]

When early Orc tribes encountered (and fought) these new foes in their earliest Waaagh!s[3a][4c], they coveted the superior metal armour and weapons of their foes. Captured gear was hotly contested,[4c] though some tribes shunned the shiny contraptions, preferring traditional weapons of bone, wood and stone[1a][4c] - they used metal weapons and armour on occasions when they could steal or trade it, but on the whole sticking to their ancient traditions.[1a]

When some Orc slaves escaped their bondage under the Chaos Dwarfs, they returned to the tribes with a knowledge of metal working.[1a][3a][4c] Soon most Orc tribes could make their own metal weapons[1a][4c], but a few tribes, however, missed out, got hopelessly lost, were left behind in the south or perhaps deliberately turned their back on the new ways[3a] - and those that refrained from such advancements became increasingly distinct.[1a][4c]

To this day, many live in their own tribes and have their own ways of fighting that make them easily distinguishable. Others are the oddballs of more 'Orcy' tribes, small groups that have 'gone native' in the belief that the 'old ways is best'.[3a]


Savage Orcs are not physically different to the great mass of Orcs, but they are none-the-less quite distinct. They live in their own tribes and have their own ways of fighting which make them easily distinguishable.[1a]

Savage Orcs eschew armour in favour of warpaint, tattoos[1a][2a][4a] and lucky charms. Many of these charms take the form of teeth and bones removed from evidently less lucky creatures. These grim tokens are work around their necks or pushed through their lips, ears and noses.[2a][4a]

A Savage Orc's clothing (if any) is made of animal skins, which adds to their wild appearance. The Boneklubbers tribe favours tiger pelts, while the Snakeskinz famously wear the brightly patterned hides of enormous serpents.[4c]


Over the long years, the Savage Orcs, as they are now known, have kept to the 'old ways'. These Orcs wear little or no clothing and their grunt-heavy language is significantly cruder than other Orcs (which is saying something). When they cannot get their limited thoughts across, Savage Orcs resort to wild gesticulation or even scribble simple stick-figures in the mud or upon cave walls.[4c]

Savage Orc tribes observe all manner of odd rituals and include many Shamans.[4c] These are renowned for their extraordinary powers and their ability to make magic potions[1a], salves and stews, using bones and skins as ingredients (as each one retains a small part of the animal's spirit and flavour),[2b] and make sure the tribes continue to sing the praises of the boisterous Orc gods Gork and Mork in their barbarous fashion, holding midnight feasts to consume gallons of brew and to fight each other under the watchful eyes of their crude idols.[1b]

Thus, the superstitious Savage Orcs observe even more rituals, and put up with even more bone-rattling, feather waving dances by their mumbo-jumbo chanting Shaman than most Greenskin tribes. However, as the Shamans provide the magical warpaint that protects them, such activities are generally accepted. If there is any kind that the magic ju-ju will work, the Savage Orcs will put up with any amount of shamanistic prancing.[4b]

Their unusual appearance, Shaman-led rituals and superstitious nuances often earn Savage Orcs ridicule from other Greenskins. It is easy to be ostracised by others when you only wear loincloths. For these reasons Savage Orc mobs stick to themselves in camp. Once battle begins, however, Savage Orcs fight with a ferocity that more than earns them the right to whatever oddities their Shaman can dream up - even the embarrassing bat-flapping dance.[4a]

Because their ways are so simplistic, there are many tribes made up primarily, if not exclusively, of Savage Orcs. In these groups they can practice their drum-thumping, bone-shaking rituals free of scorn. Even Giants that latch onto such savage tribes are given a fresh coat of warpaint come battle time.[4a]

It isn't just their appearance that is wild, for Savage Orcs drum and chant themselves into a bloodthirsty rage before a battle. While other Greenskins might find their backward customs odd, all agree that Savage Orcs are ferocious fighters.[4c] Savage Orcs are wild fighters, whooping and screaming as they attack, calling upon Gork and Mork to help them as they crash into the enemy ranks.[1b]

Once engaged in combat, Savage Orcs beat foes enthusiastically with hefty clubs and stone axes, or stab at them with flint-tipped spears. Some Savage Orcs use bows, firing stone-tipped arrows to fell enemies from afar. Savage Orcs are also known to employ a Big Stabba, a two-Orc team carrying a log-sized spear. This, traditionally, has been used for hunting since the lands were full of enormous reptilian beasts. Back then, Savage Orcs like to recall, 'Orcs wuz Orcs and beasts wuz big!' Some tribes can boast of a mob of Savage Orc Big 'Uns, the fiercest fighters who are often marked with the most outlandish warpaint or bear a larger amount of shrunken heads, bangles or other fetishes.[4c]

Some Savage Orcs ride to battle upon mighty war boars, one of the few creatures in the world as bad tempered as the Savage Orcs themselves. Unsurprisingly, Savage Orcs and war boars get on famously well, sharing as they do an almost identical worldview and personal hygiene regimen.[3a][4d]


When the Savage Orcs go to war their Shamans mark them with tribal tattoos or warpaints[1a][3a][4c] using a strong magical concoction.[1a]

The combination of the magical markings[1a][1b] and their strong belief in the power of Gork and Mork[1b][3a][4c] covers them in an aura of self-generated arcane power that actually does deflect enemy arrows and sword blows.[1b][3a][4c] This is a wondrous thing and confirms the Savage Orcs' belief in their old ways.[1b][4c] Other Orcs are completely puzzled by this, but the Savage Orcs maintain it is due to their undivided attention to the tried and tested Orc way of life and the veneration of their ancient gods.[1b]

In battle, the bare flesh of the primitive Orcs and their striking tattoos is a disturbing sight. Some tribes, like the Bone Clubz, use patterns smeared across portions of their bodies, while others use pictograms, like the lightning bolt glyphs borne by the Ooogah Ogaz tribe.[4c]

If a Savage Orc Shaman is with a mob of Savage Orcs then the power of their tattoos is enhanced still further, while the wild energy of the mob increases the Shaman's own power.[1a]

Current Distribution

The hunting grounds of the Savage Orc tribes are often found in some wild or remote region of the world.[4a]

In the Badlands, tribes of both Savage and Common Orcs intermingle.[2a] The Top-knotz tribe, famous for their bone-pierced coifs and their shields made of Giant Razorclam shells, stalk the coastal region of the Black Gulf. The Boneclubs and their rivals, the Snakeskinz tribe, dominate the steaming jungles of the Southlands. Some, like the Headhuntaz tribe, are widely nomadic. They are led on winding paths by their Shamans, guided by inner voices and the very will of the Greenskin gods. Or so they say.[4a]

The most comprehensive accounts of the Southlands are those pieced together by Tilean explorers. Few expeditions ever return from those jungles, and those that do rarely bring anything other than reports of Savage Orc tribes whose principle diet consists of each other supplemented by the occasional Tilean explorer. According to these tales the greatest tribe in those lands is known as the Waaagh-Waaagh, whose language is based solely on the single word "Waaagh", the actual meaning of which varies only according to the volume and determination with which it is voiced.[2c]


Savage Orcs fight in mobs of at least 10 warriors, one of which can be a Boss, another a musician and a third a standard bearer. They may be armed with simple hand weapons, spears or bows, and they can carry shields. Some of them can also form teams to wield Big Stabbas. Only one mob in the army can be formed of Big 'Uns.[4e]

Savage Orcs do not usually wear armour although they sometimes obtain it as war booty or trade it from wandering Goblin tribes, while their shields are often made from animal hide. A Savage Orc without body armour will be protected by his unshakeable faith.[1b]

Canon Conflict

  • In 6th Edition, the reason for the primitive outlook and behaviour of the Savage Orcs was changed to be the "addling effects of heat and strong sunlight on the Orcish brain"[2a] that made them live "in a permanent state of muddle-headed rage that makes them amongst the most bad-tempered Greenskins of all".[2c] This contradicted the earlier lore of the 4th Edition, which was reinstated in the 7th Edition[3a] and 8th Edition.[4a]



  • 1: Warhammer Armies: Orcs & Goblins (4th Edition)
    • 1a: pg. 19
    • 1b: pg. 40
    • 1c: pg. 90
  • 2: Warhammer Armies: Orcs & Goblins (6th Edition)
    • 2a: pg. 11
    • 2b: pg. 73
    • 2c: pg. 77
  • 3: Warhammer Armies: Orcs & Goblins (7th Edition)
    • 3a: pg. 21
  • 4: Warhammer Armies: Orcs & Goblins (8th Edition)
    • 4a: pg. 11
    • 4b: pg. 35
    • 4c: pg. 40
    • 4d: pg. 41
    • 4e: pg. 104
  • 5: Total War: Warhammer