In the wild frontiers, tribes of human and orc barbarians live in uneasy balance, fighting in times of war and trading in times of peace. The half-orcs who are born in the frontier may live with either human or orc parents, but they are nevertheless exposed to both cultures. Some, for whatever reason, leave their homeland and travel to civilized lands, bringing with them the tenacity, courage, and combat prowess that they developed in the wilds.
Personality: Half-orcs are short-tempered and sullen. They would rather act than ponder and would rather fight than argue. Those who are successful, however, are those with enough self-control to live in a civilized land, not the crazy ones.
Half-orcs love simple pleasures such as feasting, drinking, boasting, singing, wrestling, drumming, and wild dancing. Refined enjoyments such as poetry, courtly dancing, and philosophy are lost on them. At the right sort of party, a half-orc is an asset. At the duchess's grand ball, he's a liability.
Physical Description: Half-orcs are as tall as humans and a little heavier, thanks to their muscle. A half-orc's grayish pigmentation, sloping forehead, jutting jaw, prominent teeth, and coarse body hair make his lineage plain for all to see.
Orcs like scars. They regard battle scars as tokens of pride and ornamental scars as things of beauty. Any half-orc who has lived among or near orcs has scars, whether they are marks of shame indicating servitude and identifying the half-orc's former owner, or marks of pride recounting conquests and high status. Such a half-orc living among humans either displays or hides his scars, depending on his attitude toward them.
Half-orcs mature a little faster than humans and age noticeably faster. Few half-orcs live longer than 75 years.
Relations: Because orcs are the sworn enemies of dwarves and elves, half-orcs can have a rough time with members of these races. For that matter, orcs aren't exactly on good terms with humans, halflings, or gnomes, either. Each half-orc finds a way to gain acceptance from those who hate or fear his orc cousins. Some are reserved, trying not to draw attention to themselves. Others demonstrate piety and good-heartedness as publicly as they can (whether or nor such demonstrations are genuine). Others simply try to be so tough that others have no choice but to accept them.
Alignment: Half-orcs inherit a tendency toward chaos from their orc parents, but, like their human parents, they favor neither good nor evil. Half-orcs raised among orcs and willing to live out their lives with them, however, are usually the evil ones.
Half-Orc Lands: Half-orcs have no lands of their own. They most often live among orcs. Of the other races, humans are the ones most likely to accept half-orcs, and half-orcs almost always live in human lands when not living among orc tribes.
Religion: Like orcs, many half-orcs worship Gruumsh, the chief orc god and archenemy of Corellon Larethian, god of elves. While Gruumsh is evil, half-orc barbarians and fighters may worship him as a war god even if they are nor evil themselves. Worshipers of Gruumsh who are tired of explaining themselves, or who don't want to give humans a reason to distrust them, simply don't make their religion public knowledge. Half-orcs who want to solidify their connection to their human heritage, on the other hand, follow human gods, and they may be outspoken in their shows of piety
Language: Orc, which has no alphabet of its own, uses Dwarven script on the rare occasions that someone writes something in Orc. Orc writing turns up most frequently in graffiti.
Names: A half-orc typically chooses a name that helps him make the impression that he wants to make. If he wants to fit in among humans, he chooses a human name. If he wants to intimidate others, he chooses a guttural orc name. A half-orc who has been raised entirely by humans has a human given name, but he may choose another name once he's away from his hometown. Some half-orcs, of course, aren't quite bright enough to choose a name this carefully
Orc Male Names: Dench, Feng, Cell, Henk, Holg, Imsh, Keth, Ront, Shump, and Thokk.
Orc Female Names: Baggi, Emen, Engong, Myev, Neega, Ovak, Ownka, Shaurha, Vola, and Volen.
Adventurers: Half-orcs living among humans are drawn almost invariably toward violent careers in which they can put their strength to good use. Frequently shunned from polite company, half-orcs often find acceptance and friendship among adventurers, many of who are fellow wanderers and outsiders.
Half-Orc Racial Traits
- +2 Strength, -2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma: Half-orcs are strong, but their orc lineage makes them dull and crude.
- Medium-size: As Medium-size creatures, half- orcs have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Half-orc base speed is 30 feet.
- Darkvision: Half-orcs (and orcs) can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and half-orcs can function just fine with no light at all.
- Orc Blood: For all special abilities and effects, a half-orc is considered an orc. Half-orcs, for example, can use special orc weapons or magic items with racially specific orc powers as if they were orcs.
- Automatic Languages: Common and Orc. Bonus Languages. Draconic, Giant, Gnoll, Goblin, and Infernal. Smart half-orcs (who are rare) may know the languages of their allies or rivals.
- Favored Class: Barbarian. A multiclass half-orc's barbarian class does not count when determining whether he suffers an XP penalty (see Experience for Multiclass Characters). Ferocity runs in a half-orc's veins.
In the Realms
Every battlefield has its flies and maggots, swarming among the corpses - and the orcs are the flies and maggots of Faerûn. Cunning, they are, and dwell among humans because humans mean coin and ready food and lots of confusion and coming and going. Some even breed with the fierce humans of the North end upland hills, and from them we get "one tusks" or half-orcs.
Orcs see the need for rules, but hold that the stronger make the rules for the weaker, and that no rule or law need be followed if no one stronger is around to see, or punish. I say all orcs, though I admit some are wiser or more trustworthy than others. But the wise man trusts no orc.
The true wild orc dwells in mountain caverns - the same homes as dwarves love, which is why the Stout Folk are so few and so grim these days. In cave-warrens they dwell, snarling and fighting often but seldom to the death, rutting and brawling and delighting in cruelties of trap and pratfall and demeaning tricks, telling tales of great plunder and abundant food in the South.
If times are lean, or the tribe's caves are full with young and reckless warriors, a surging tide of discontent rises and the young warriors fairly roar to be led down on a great raid, to show their worth and seize their fortunes on the ends of their blades. They boil forth, every decade or more, led by canny veterans and either the chief of their tribe (if he's still afire with his own dreams of conquering and pillaging) or a war leader who will never get to be chief save by slaughter that would tear the tribe apart in feuding.
Thus the latest orc horde pours down out of their mountain valleys. Orcs are not subtle folk. Orc hordes seldom pass by any target or foe who waves sword against them, and crash on into battle after battle, a great wave seeking to batter and inundate all before it, rather than sneaking or avoiding or biding in hiding.
Of orc tribes not all shattered or fallen, I can name these handful, of many: Arauthrar, Bale Eye, Braeskull, Cold Bone, Eolgorr, Gathatchkh, Haulaeve, Jolriah, Norglor, Oldaggar, Red Talon, Sorok, Tailbold, Wurruvva, and Yultch.
Of orc chieftains great in battle, I know these fallen (or at least vanished when their horde was smashed): Auldglokh, Browhorn, Clamrar, Gulmuth, Hurolk, Irmgrith, Kuthe, Morog, Namrane, Orgog, Rauthgog, Surk, Ulbror, and Yauthiok. And these who may still carry their brawn: Aragh Bloodhanner, Bogdragisth of the Ice, Clarguth Manyheads, Foalorr sug (son of) Fael, Horimbror Ironmask, Korgulk Ibbrin Mathrankh, Torlor sug Klevven, Umburraglar Bloodtooth, and Zoarkluth.
- Gulvrin Talamtar, Warrior of Secomber
- Regions: Amn, Chessenta, Damara, the Moonsea, the North, Vassa, and Waterdeep.
- Racial Feats: Headlong Rush.
- Racial Prestige Class: Orc warlord.
Half-orcs are fairly common throughout Faerûn. They have no true homeland to call their own and as a result most spend their lives wandering the world in search of a purpose. Half-orcs are invariably the product of a human and an orc, but stories are told of half-orcs carrying the blood of dwarves, goblins, hobgoblins, and even halflings, gnomes, and elves. Orcs are a fecund race, and such stories likely have some genesis in truth.
A half-orc is usually about as tall as a human and a little heavier. Their skin tends to be gray with green or even purple undertones, and their faces feature sloping brows, jutting jaws with prominent teeth, and flat, squashed noses. This and their coarse body hair make their lineage plain for all to see.
Half-orcs have been a part of Faerûn for a very long time, but nonetheless they have never organized into a true civilization of their own. Unique half-orcs often gain great power in their chosen field and become well known in history texts, but their exploits are always in the name of another people, or (more often) isolated incidents not tied to any particular civilization.
Most half-orcs are surly individuals who endured horrible child-hoods. They are too coarse and savage to fit in well with humans, and too fragile and thoughtful to fit in with orcs. As a result, the majority of half-orcs grow up alone and without any influence from orc or human society. Thus, half-orcs speak their mind and act upon their feelings without any fear of repercussions. They are nomads, loners, and hermits at best, and murderers and savages at worst.
Without a place to call a home, and often without a family or close friends to count on for companionship, half-orcs learn from an early age to look out for themselves. This is often interpreted as greed or selfishness by other races, but too many half-orcs have learned the hard way that they are not welcome in any land, and must provide for themselves.
Half-orcs' natural strength and toughness push them strongly toward fighters and barbarians and away from the spellcasting classes. Half-orc rogues are common as well.
Favored Class: Barbarian; half-orcs shun society as a rule and as a result must be strong and able to survive in the wilderness.
Prestige Classes: Half-orcs, in their nomadic travels, are often exposed to a wide range of prestige classes. As a result, it isn't unusual for a higher level half-orc to possess one or two levels in just about any prestige class she can meet the requirements for.
Although the half-orcs of Faerûn have no true nation to call their own, there are some small regions in the world that are ruled by their kind. Strangely, it seems that when half-orcs gather in large groups like this, they tend to be much more civilized than their feral orc kin. The city of Palischuk in Vaasa, for example, is a ruined city rebuilt by a large tribe of nearly ten thousand half-orcs who now trade peacefully with their neighbors. Another example is Phsant in Thesk, a city with a strong gray orc presence and a growing half-orc community.
Language and Literacy
All half-orcs speak both Common and Orc. They are accepted on the fringes of both orc and human societies, and being able to communicate clearly with both dramatically increases a half-orc's chance to find allies. Although they don't particularly make gifted linguists, half-orcs learn a number of other languages simply as a result of their nomadic, wandering lifestyles. Other languages commonly learned by half-orcs include Damaran, Giant, Gnoll, Goblin, Illuskan, and Undercommon.
All half-orcs are literate except for barbarians, adepts, commoners, and warriors.
Abilities and Racial Features
Half-orcs in Faerûn have all the half-orc racial features listed above.
Half-orc Magic and Lore
Half-orcs do not have a centralized society that they can call their own, and as a result have not developed any unique racial spells or spellcasting traditions.
Half-orc Magic Items
In keeping with their proclivity toward warfare, half-orcs prefer magic weapons and armor as a rule. Their dangerous lives often depend on their offensive and defensive capabilities. Items like hats of disguise are popular with half-orcs who dwell in regions where their kind is hated or mistrusted.
Half-orcs who remain among their orc kindred worship the gods of the orc pantheon, often with greater belief and fervor than regular orcs since many half-orcs feel the need to prove to their deities that they are just as powerful and strong as their full-blooded orc kindred. Those half-orcs who do not dwell among orcs are free to choose their deities as they will. Common patron deities for such half-orcs include Bane, Garagos, Hoar, Loviatar, Malar, Talona, Tempus, and Tyr.
Relations with other Races
Half-orcs have uphill battles to fight when interacting with most other races, since many are quick to assume that their orcish blood carries with it an inherent savagery and cruelty. Most half-orcs return this suspicion and trepidation when interacting with others. They make friends only with difficulty. Once trust is established, it is often a fleeting thing that can be fractured with one misinterpreted comment. Often, a half-orc joins an adventuring company and never feels fully at ease with her traveling companions no matter how many times they have proven their loyalty.
Half-orcs, as a race, have not developed any unique types of exotic weapons, although many individuals favor orc weapons such as the double axe. Most of them are reticent about owning more equipment and gear than they can easily carry, both because of their nomadic spirits and because they must always be ready to tear up their roots and move on if their neighbors suddenly decide to turn on them.
Animals and Pets
Half-orcs are particularly fond of keeping animals as pets, since pets have few preconceived notions about a person's background or race. Hunting dogs, horses, and falcons are all popular choices, and those with particular skill at Handle Animals sometimes train more dangerous monsters like owlbears, spider eaters, and dire animals as pets or minions.