Greenskins is a common collective description for the forces of the Orcs and Goblins and other biologically related races. The broadest division is between the Orcs, who are strong, brutish, and savage warriors, and the Goblins, who are smaller and weaker, but cunning and full of guile.
These two related races are divided in countless barbaric tribes who fight each other nearly all the time. They only stop fighting each other to fight another foe instead, like the kingdoms of men or the realms of Dwarfs. On these rare occasions they often vanquish and destroy whole armies, plunder and burn villages, ravage the countryside, and sack, raze, or conquer large cities and fortresses.
The Orcs arrived in the world at some unknown point in pre-history. The most likely explanations are that their insidious spores were either mistakenly introduced to the world by the starships of the Old Ones, or that they drifted through space and arrived in the world by their own means. Ever since, the greenskins have spread to become an ever present and belligerent enemy of the other races.
A closer look
A closer look will reveal that these two large races contain several subgroups. Most of these distinctions are of cultural nature.
- Tribes of 'common' Orcs are the majority. They know how to forge crude but efficient weapons of iron and steel and mail armour. This knowledge was taught to them by the Chaos Dwarfs. Their preferred weapon is a Choppa, a large and crude but also very dangerous weapon.
- Tribes of Savage Orcs tend to live either in deep forests or in the jungles of the deep south. They look down upon the use of armour and use mostly weapons made of rock, wood, and bone. They firmly believe in their magical tattoos which indeed protect them somewhat. Other Orcs find this quite intriguing.
- Tribes of Black Orcs are quite rare in the Old World, being much more numerous in the Dark Lands. Black Orcs are larger, stronger, and much better fighters than average Orcs. Orcs also tend to lack in discipline but Black Orcs excel in this chapter, making them very dangerous foes indeed. Ambitious Black Orcs may become leaders of tribes composed of other Orcs by crushing all opposition.
- Forest Goblins live in large forests.
- Night Goblins are a subterranean breed adapted to living in darkness.
- Gnoblars are a breed of Goblins who decided to live under the tyranny of Ogres. They are rather content with their lot.
- Other greenskins
- Hobgoblins are a nomadic eastern Greenskin race whose territory is the steppes of the Dark Lands.
- Snotlings are even smaller than Goblins and are present in all tribes. They are largely treated as pets and sometimes eaten by their larger relatives.
Orcs and Goblins live in countless barbaric tribes. There are some tribes which include only Goblins or only Orcs, but the majority include both. In these mixed tribes the Orcs will always dominate the smaller and weaker Goblins. Goblin tribes don't have any Orcs at all, as any self-respecting Orc will quickly become the tribe's Boss.
Almost all Orcs are huge, brutal creatures. On average they stand taller than a man, and are stronger and tougher. They are vicious and brutal, with an abundance of brute force and very little brain power. An Orc loves nothing more than a good fight, even against other Orcs.
Goblins are a lot smaller and weaker than Orcs. However they are quite cunning and smart, and love nothing more than to trick and trade with their slow-witted relatives. On the whole they are a rather cowardly lot, and prefer to attack with a huge advantage of numbers and, if possible, from a safe distance. As a result they are average archers but rather poor fighters.
The leadership of the tribe nearly always belongs to the largest and strongest individual who will impose his rule by any mean necessary. Rivals are defeated in savage fights and most fights are not meant to be fair at all.
If an Orc Boss is weakened or wounded his rule will quickly be challenged by an ambitious Big 'Un. The Big 'Un's are elite warriors and are his lieutenants. They usually lead smaller warbands or form their own elite warband and a wise Boss will always watch his Big Un's closely.
Nearly all tribes also have shamans; gifted individuals who are able to employ Waaagh! magic. There are Orc Shamans and Goblin Shamans; only the Black Orcs don't have shamans. The shamans are always regarded with respect and fear. Most of them are quite content to be feared advisors of the tribal leader, second only to the Boss himself, while some rare ambitious shamans manage to usurp this position.
Waaagh! magic, unlike all other forms, does not come from the Winds of Magic. Rather it seems to originate from the Greenskins themselves and then channelled by shamans. Its potency increases as the Orcs and Goblins get excited, especially during a battle. In extreme cases a shaman will be unable to contain it and his brain will, quite literally, explode.
Orc and Goblin forces
- Warhammer Fantasy Battles, 2006, p. 124