"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven."
- – Matthew 5:3
Back in the days before the Age of Strife, humanity had whole planets dedicated to housing criminals, a fair number of them were barely habitable heavy gravity worlds (called scientifically "Super Earths") for some reason. Then the Eldar started creating Slaanesh and society fell apart and these prisons were left isolated. The convicts then got out as things broke down and proceeded to go nuts in orgies of violence and sex. For the next few thousand years these louts ate food and drank water and moonshine with large amounts of mercury and lead in them, were subject to unhealthy doses of radiation, engaged in plenty of incest, and leadership (and the ability to acquire mates and spread one's genes which goes with it) was determined by who was the best at beating others with lead pipes. This gave birth to the first Ogryns or otherwise known as Homo sapiens gigantus (sapiens being used in the loosest sense of the word). As no Ogryn has ever been recorded that was intelligent enough to farm or hunt, let alone distill, exactly where their food, water, and moonshine came from is an open question. By the time the Emperor got around to reunifying human civilization, there were dozens of planets full of dim-witted, durable, strong, three-meter tall dudes called Ogryn, in defiance of both evolution's tendency to diverge and how it tends to solve problems related to gravity (whales are big and heavy because they don't need to fight as much gravity - much bigger and heavier than flying birds, for whom gravity is a constant concern).
Ogryns in the Imperium
Though the Imperium of Man typically destroys anything too divergent from the human form, the Ogryns' DNA were considered stable enough to classify as a new evolution, or Abhuman. The Imperial Guard has been using Ogryn as heavy shock troopers for millennia, helped by the Ogryns' massive strength, iron-hard loyalty to the Emperor, and literal mindlessness. Perhaps the most appealing aspect of commanding Ogryn is that their loyalty to the Emperor of Mankind is firmer than that of a Space Marine. The Ogryns believe that the Emperor has personally issued them every order (being worked down from the chain of command) and as a result they will follow orders without question to the best of their ability. Technically this is already Imperial Guard policy to some degree, but only Ogryns actually believe it's literally true. The only reason that they aren't used even more is that they don't take well to transports - on top of their size, they have a tendency to get claustrophobic and aren't likely to willingly enter cramped, dark spaces (e.g. the inside of a Chimera).
Ogryns are usually used as close quarters soldiers; due to their physical dimensions it is very difficult for Ogryns to operate human-sized weapons and equipment, even if they could understand its operation, and are prone to becoming over enthusiastic or frustrated with equipment they are given, meaning that they tend to use objects in a brutal manner. Therefore they are issued heavily built, automatic shotguns that are essentially "Ogryn-Proof" and can be used as a club if the Ogryn ever runs out of ammunition, as well as oversized grenades. Since they are considerably stronger they can also wear more armor than a regular human guardsman, but, this being the Imperium, under no circumstances are they given sophisticated or expensive equipment, let alone the sort of close combat weaponry they would excel with. While your average guardsman may not be too hot in hand to hand combat with an Ork unless you're a Catachan Jungle Fighter, an Ogryn can crush Orks (including Nobs) into pulp and their feats of strength typically surpass even those of Space Marines, in game terms their strength, toughness, and wounds stats are all on par with members of the Adeptus Custodes (that said, a Custodian can easily smash an Ogryn to a chunky soup of blood and gore, Custodians are big and can outmaneuver an ogryn with ease).
Particularly intelligent Ogryn are given genetic enhancements called Biochemical Ogryn Neural Enhancement (BONE) and become BONE'EADs, effectively squad sergeants. These enhancements make the Ogryns even more intelligent, being able to remember names, count on their fingers and make tactical decisions beyond "KILL IT!". Thankfully, other Ogryns accustomise to them quite easily, and rather than having to force their way into command by beating up the alpha male of the pack, other Ogryns will follow the BONE'EADS because "they know best". Hilariously, some Bone'eads take the title to heart, and use the metal plated cybernetic implants as an improvised weapon; thankfully, as with all things made for Ogryn, the implants are manufactured to take a bashing.
Since the Great Rift opened and psykers started appearing with greater frequency, Ogryn psykers have started being documented. Coincidentally - or perhaps not - long established truisms about Ogryn intelligence are starting to unravel ; one example was fully capable of normal speech (without neural enhancement) and had even taught itself to read and write.
Some Ogryns are instead given Ogryn-sized tower shields made from barricade walls and custom-built carapace armor which incorporates loose tank tracks; known as "Bullgryns" (trademarkable shorthand for bulwark Ogryns), these Ogryns serve as living, mobile bunker walls on the battlefield. The idea is that all of that armor, behind a huge-ass shield designed to be interlocked with the neighboring shields, and with a big strong Ogryn inside of it, will soak up bullets, lasers, and other incoming nastiness that might hit more important things. It's a pretty sound theory. Each Bullgryn also carries an arm-mounted grenade launcher for fighting back with (though, being Ogryn-sized, it performs more like a handheld mortar).
Instead of slabshields and grenade gauntlets, some Bullgryns are instead issued with power mauls and deflector bucklers (which generate invulnerable saves in the form of force fields) that double up as a makeshift bludgeon;
this being the Imperium, no Bullgryn is ever issued a maul and a slabshield, as of 8e Bullgryns may now be equipped with slabshields and mauls, slabshields and grenade gauntlets, deflector bucklers and mauls, or bucklers and gauntlets; however they may not take two mauls at once. And issuing both a slabshield and a deflector buckler to the guy whose only job is to stay alive while getting shot is heresy, while issuing a Grenadier Gauntlet and Maul before telling them to go ham is also heresy.
The Ogryns take their protective duties very seriously and will often form a line at the slightest sound of gunfire, which can be most inconvenient in crowded trenches. Yet Guardsmen advancing behind a Bullgryn squad swiftly forget such mishaps as shots whine harmlessly from the Ogryns' shields, leaving those soldiers crouched in their lee unharmed. Needless to say, casualties are high among the Abhumans themselves, but the close-range bombardments of the Ogryns' Grenadier Gauntlets means that any opposing foe would get a fist full of Ogryn-sized explosives in the face.
They may or may not be the spiritual successor of the Ogryn Charonites.
Ogryn Charonites are a type of heavy assault Ogryn troops used by the Solar Auxilia during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy. Charonite squads have been biochemically and cybernetically altered using ancient technologies, possibly of xenos origin, that have been deemed unholy by the Adeptus Mechanicus. Because of this they considered controversial to the cogboys/gals. With the Ogryns' hands and forearms replaced by a brutal collection of mechanisms known as Charonite claws, which amplify their already fearsome strength, Ogryn Charonite squads can rip through armor plating with ease, devastating their foes in the brutal confines of boarding actions.
During the height of the Great Crusade, Auxilia Ogryn Charonites could readily be found among the arsenals of several void-capable human pocket-civilizations of Segmentum Solar, such as the Saturnyne Enclaves. Despite protests from the Mechanicum, the Solar Auxilia found them to be so useful that they simply ignore the screeching of a enraged Magos. The Solar Auxilia obtained a dispensation for the creation and use of Charonites in limited numbers. This was further facilitated by the strong ties the early Solar Auxilia maintained through their own origins with the Saturnyne Enclaves, Terra and the celestial keeps of Pavonis which had all retained much of their independence from the Imperial rule.
Despite their semi-heretical nature, the Charonites were so god damned loyal that most of them fought at the behest of the Imperium rather than snitching the Emprah and joining bad boi Horus. In retrospect, the Charonites were maybe the precursors of the Bullgryns. It is not known whether they are still in use, but due to their closet heresy, it can be safe to assume that all of them were either decommissioned or mothballed.
Aside from Militarum work, Ogryns also excel at manual labor. After all, their massive muscles allow them to lift massive objects without trouble and their simple minds easily obey authority. If needed, Ogryns are even refitted with augmetics to help with the job. For some, this process goes so far as to convert them into little more than beefy servitors. The worst part about all this is that as abhumans, Ogryns won't be afforded all the rights a normal human would, however meager those right may be. Even if technically they count as human in the eyes of Imperial law, that doesn't mean anything if the Imperial authorities don't care.
That said, however, the oversight of a worker's guild isn't the same as that of a Commissar and regimental command. In the new Necromunda supplement House of Chains, there exists an entire gang roster made of Ogryns who decide that enough is enough and rebel against their masters. In this way, they look up to House Goliath as kindred who shared a similar past.
In short, the Ogryn Slave Gang works similarly to Goliath in that they're big and beefy with less focus on being quick, but equipment is harder to come by. Specialists in particular lack the ability to take multiple loadouts, attributing to the limited supply of running an uprising, while those Ogryns with augmetics pretty much come with them upon hiring without any means of buying more. The most dangerous of handicaps, however, is that they're wanted - in the event that any Slaves are caught, the opposing army gets some extra credits for capturing a dangerous outlaw.
Generally speaking, Ogryns are Auxilia forces to the Imperial Guard; having regiments on paper, but usually getting broken up and assigned to other Guard regiments on a squad-by-squad basis. But the Imperium does occasionally utilize entire formations of Ogryns: On the smaller scale, a Rampant Detachment is a platoon-sized formation of Bulgryns which can be trusted to hold the line and break up enemy assaults and is assigned its own dedicated junior officer to command them.
Other detachments that get deployed from place to place include "Abhuman Penal Suppression Detachments", which is a long-winded way of saying prison wardens or riot police. For example, the 51st detachment is made up of those Ogryns deemed "unfit" for frontline duties (either by injury or due to lack of intelligence even by Ogryn standards), and have been assigned positions on Imperial Naval vessels keeping troublemakers in line. The practice has since been taken up across other vessels and Imperial Guard bases where they have been used to quell riots among the local populations.
At the larger end of the scale, whole Regiments of Ogryns have been deployed in their entirety, with the Monglor Auxilia being deployed to Armageddon, which comparatively were considered "less brutal" than the Ogryns from Krourk, though only one Monglor regiment remains in active service since the Eldar caused their homeworld to turn renegade.
One other regiment includes the Orcan Stonecrushers which were enthusiastically integrated into the Imperium, but since their world had such oppressively high gravity it was turned into a Penal World and the Ogryns were permitted to be the custodians.
Gav and Bob - A story about some of the best Ogryns that gave their lives for the Emprah.
- Nork Deddog - THE most famous of Ogryns
- Ogryn Brute - Ogryns on Chaos, which are exactly as bad to fight against as it sounds like