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It's my understanding that Ork weaponry is generally awful and unreliable, and actually only works in general because of their latent psychic abilities (Clap if you believe, in TV Tropes terminology).

And that this is actually canon in the 40k universe.

Say an Ork weapon of some kind was wrested from their hands in combat. The only present characters are the Ork and one other character of a non-Ork race. Could the person who stole the weapon use it against the Ork, or would it fail or the wielder be disadvantaged in some way due to the Ork probably not wanting it to work in that case?

To cut down on the opinion posting, let's put this in the terms of the official universe (Dark Heresy or the like). Are there any rules for this special case?

  • I presume that by "rules" you are talking about in-universe laws of reality (as described in novels, etc.) rather than rules of the tabletop game? – Thunderforge Aug 25 '17 at 18:08
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    The RPGs would be acceptable too - I can't imagine a scenario in which a weapon gets stolen in the tabletop game (is that even a mechanic?), but canon books or the RPG series are fine. – Mikey T.K. Aug 25 '17 at 18:09
  • Right, although I imagine rules of the RPG may or may not reflect in-universe laws of reality. What I guess I'm saying is that if the RPG makes no mention one way or the other due to gameplay considerations, but a novel describes this situation, then the novel is probably a more authoritative source. Just like how there are no rules for eating, but that's not evidence that people don't eat. – Thunderforge Aug 25 '17 at 18:17
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Unfortunately, the answer to this will be derived partially from opinion, stemming from the extent to which Orks can stretch the meaning of ramshackle (of which there has been a fair amount of disagreement):

  • Some hold that Orks build crude but otherwise functional weapons, and that their psychic potential simply makes it work better. Maybe the unspent bullets scrounged up are slightly inconsistent in caliber size, but will fire all the same from the same slugga; rokkits still need propellant, explosives, a reasonably aerodynamic form, etc. This means your Orks (or at least their Meks) are indeed skilled engineers, just not quite at the same level as Eldar or humans, and thus their tech is viewed as inferior by these races. In this case, yes, you could easily use Orks' weapons against them.

  • Others state that if enough Orks think this rectangular piece of metal with a handle can propel a smaller cylindrical piece of metal, so it will be (this is an extreme case; I think at a certain point not many Orks would believe your claim). In this case, anything that simply resembles a weapon closely enough will become a weapon, empowered by Ork psychic energy. Here, most ranged weapons would not work for a non-Ork, but I'm sure even a crude cudgel would work for most races. Blunt force trauma from a sufficiently heavy object could do the trick no matter how unsightly it is.

Tragically, the more recent Ork Codices seem to be pretty hazy in this regard, but there's plenty of evidence from forums (DakkaDakka et al.) that this disagreement exists.

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    Concerning the second point: if an Ork believes that the bunch of crap the non-Ork is holding is a weapon, won't his latent psychic powers still make it a weapon, at least if the non-Ork also handle it as if it was a weapon? I had always understood the "it-works-because-I-believe-it" garbage as a kind of placebo/nocebo effect. – Taladris Aug 27 '17 at 8:40
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    It's worth pointing out that the psychic effects are a gestalt - it's not that an ork believes Shootas are guns, it's that all orks believe Shootas are guns. This isn't something they can consciously direct or manipulate. So a weapon taken by a human is still covered by the ork gestalt consciousness - the ork it's taken from can't pretend it doesn't count (at least not successfully). – Cadence May 16 '18 at 3:10
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Here is a source from "Rogue Trader" about using Ork weapons (although it is bit dated):

Poor [Quality weapons] - Little more than an assemblage of scrap metal, Poor craftsmanship weapons suffer no additional penalties when wielded by Orks. However, any attempt by a non-Ork to use a Poor craftsmanship weapon causes it to jam instantly, or in the case of melee weapons, simply fall apart.

This suggests that using better than "poor quality" weapons by non-Orks is theoretically possible.

Most Ork weapons in the hands on non-Ork would almost certainly stop working as an anything other than a heavy piece of garbage. The are very few examples that I am aware of when non-Ork was using such weapon: the most successful was Iron Warrior Obliterator (Marine infected with Chaos virus that allows him to grow weapons from his body)who absorbed a very powerful Kustom Shoota. But then, this virus would allow him to shoot rockets from his fingers if he'd wished so. Also during the second war on Armageddon, a group of Guards (and one Dreadnought) managed to use Ork battlewagon and shoot rockets from a powerful bomber.

Now, lets get to the situation described in the original post: a human (or other non-Ork) manages to disarm Ork, points the shoota at the greenskin and.... It all depends on the power of Orks psychic field. If it was a one-on-one situation, I am almost sure that the weapon wouldn't work or at best it would fail at the first shot - the power of believe that powered the gun would stop affecting it, because it would be disconnected from the source (the disarmed Ork). If this would happen during the bigger battle, things could go different - the latent psychic force could be strong enough to keep the shoota functional. Even more if some Orks would yell something like "Look out, dat humie haz the Big Shoota!". Yet again, YMMW.

But I am absolutely certain, that NEVER Ork would wish that his (or in general ANY) weapon would stop working in any circumstances, even if it was pointed at him. Guns are make to do dakka, if they are not then they are not fun!

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In the Ciaphas Cain novel Death or Glory, the eponymous commissar and his band of human survivors make extensive use of ork technology throughout the book - chiefly small arms, some heavy weapons (topping out at around the autocannon level - nothing on the scale of tank guns), and a number of trucks, buggies, and the like. They're universally poorly designed, built, and maintained, so they tend to break down a lot, jam, make hellish amounts of noise, etc., but they work.

However, as noted, they only had relatively small objects, and basic ones for the most part. It wouldn't be unreasonable to think that more esoteric technologies like ork teleporters, gravity guns, or ork Gellar fields wouldn't work for humans.

This is backed up by the rules of Rogue Trader, where orks can actually be player characters. They have special rules that make orkish melee weapons deadlier and ranged weapons more reliable (well, less unreliable) in their hands, but a non-ork can use these weapons, albeit with some flaws. However, orkish ship parts are described as not functioning in human ships at all.

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The main example I can think of are the Armageddon Ork Hunters, a regiment of Imperial Guard soldiers who specialize in fighting orks, and use Shootas and Sluggas as their primary equipment.

Armageddon Ork Hunters very rarely have a chance to return to Cerbera base and replenish their ammunition, their patrols often lasting weeks on end. As a result, the Armageddon Ork Hunters commonly use captured Ork weaponry. Some of the strongest Ork Hunters have even been known to wield the crude axes of the Orks in close combat. Various Imperial reports have postulated that the Armageddon Ork Hunters actually prefer Ork weapons for the sheer noise and chaos they can cause when an ambush is sprung.

WH40K Wiki article

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