Tanarukk (Races of Faerûn)

Regions: Silver Marches, Orc

Racial Feats: Fiendish Bloodline, Healing Flames, Improved Energy Resistance, Improved Natural Armor.

Racial Prestige Class: Orc warlord.

Racial Hit Dice: 5d8

Level Adjustment: +3

Bred from orc slaves and demons, tanarukks are a powerful and evil strain of planetouched who are spreading across the North. Because of their orc blood they breed rapidly, and there are more tanarukks than any other kind of planetouched. Entire tribes of the creatures have taken root in the Nether Mountains and continue to breed true, so in another twenty years they will be a serious threat to the tenuous peace in the North. With evil parentage on both sides of the family, tanarukks are almost always evil, without a drop of human blood in them to influence their disposition.

Tanarukks are the descendants of orcs and tanar'ri (vrocks, in particular). Similar to tieflings, tanarukks are a mortal Faerûnian creature with the bloodline of an evil outsider. They breed true with their own kind or with pureblooded orcs, and even orcs with one tanarukk grandparent have all the abilities of a tanarukk. Theoretically tanarukks could breed with goblinoids or even ogres and produce strange crossbreeds, although these are likely to be sterile.

Unlike most planetouched, tanarukks have a fairly uniform appearance, resembling short, stocky orcs with stooped postures. Their hair is coarse; whether on their heads or the odd patches that grow on other parts. of their bodies. They have sharp teeth and prominent lower tusks, with their lower jaw protruding farther than their small snouts. Their eyes are red and glow when angry. Their foreheads are low and ridged with horn or scales; their skin varies from gray-green to dun brown.

Tanarukks have the same life expectancy and age categories as an orc. They use the dwarf height and weight ranges in Dwarf.


The citadel now known as Hellgate Keep fell under the sway of demons nearly five hundred years ago. The Harpers placed wards around the site to prevent the demons from conjuring any more of their kind, so Grintharke the balor, the most powerful demon present, ordered his evil minions to breed with the ore slaves of the keep in order to produce fast-breeding but powerful creatures who would serve the demons as shock troops and guards. After a few hundred years, the fiendish bloodlines stabilized, and the race of tanarukks was born. In recent years, Grintharke was slain. His successors fell to infighting but managed to hold power until the keep itself was destroyed in 1369 DR by an extraplanar artifact known as the Gatekeeper's Crystal. A number of the surviving tanarukks fled to the Nether Mountains, while others remain under the command of one of the keep's cambions, thronging secret halls buried in the Underdark. The tanarukks of the Nether Mountains are mingling with local orc tribes and may soon branch out into the Spine of the World, where they will come into conflict with the tribe of King Obould Many-Arrows.


Tanarukks have the worst traits of orcs or half-orcs mixed with the temper and power of demons, Generally sullen and prone to rages, tanarukks would rather fight than ponder and would rather kill than argue. Their orc heritage impressed them with a respect for power, which was only reinforced by their tanar'ri mentors. They live recklessly and without moderation, feasting, drinking, and fighting if the opportunity presents itself. They are contemptuous of those weaker than themselves, and consider themselves a superior breed of orc. They are impressed by strength, and only a very powerful leader can convince them to settle down long enough to follow orders against a common enemy.

Among the typical rough-minded tanarukks are a few who are smarter or more moderate in their temperament, possibly because one of their demonic ancestors was a marilith or some other sort of demon prone to thinking before acting. It is these tanarukks who become leaders or, dissatisfied with the life available to them among their own kind, seek out other challenges in new places. These tanarukks can be the most dangerous but also have the greatest chance of being befriended by something other than an orc or tanarukk.

Tanarukk Characters

Most of the wiser tanarukks are barbarians or fighters, although a fair number are sorcerers. Leaders multiclass as barbarian/sorcerers, using their limited sorcerer ability to augment their physical prowess. Less rage-prone tanarukks tend to be fighters or rangers.

Favored Class: Barbarian. A tanarukk's potent physical ability becomes downright frightening when he gains the benefits of barbarian rage.

Prestige Classes: Tanarukk blackguards and assassins are fearsome foes indeed. Tanarukks can also become >orc warlords.

Tanarukk Society

Of all the planetouched, tanarukks are the only ones with a large and thriving society, for not even the fey'ri have numbers comparable to the tribes of fiend-touched orcs. Of course, tanarukk society is a mixture of orc and demon society, which means that they act like orcs infused with supernatural evil power. However, unlike typical orc society, the strong influence of the marilith involved in the breeding program has moderated the patriarchal tendencies, resulting in a culture where females are treated much better than slaves. Tanarukk females who give birth to many strong young can earn a measure of respect for themselves and carry some influence over their mates.

Like orcs, tanarukks perform ritual scarring on themselves and each other, particularly as part of adulthood rites. Because they are resistant to fire, many scarring rituals use acid or jagged weapons. Others have iron jewelry or weapons (such as tanarukk battle gauntlets) hammered into place around their limbs while still hot, fusing the item in place when it cools, which prevents theft without killing the tanarukk first.

Language and Literacy

Tanarukks speak orc and Abyssal, using the former for most conversations but inserting words from the latter when more sophisticated concepts need to be communicated. Smart tanarukks usually learn Common so they can more easily interrogate prisoners.

Tanarukks are illiterate, except for those who acquire levels in a player character class other than barbarian.

Abilities and Racial features

Tanarukks have the following racial traits:

Tanarukk Magic and Lore

Tanarukks have few wizards, preferring the ease of sorcery. Since few have the talent for sorcery either, most tanarukk spellcasters are clerics.

Spells and Spellcasting

Tanarukk spellcasters prefer magic that summons outsiders, blasts enemies with fire, or makes the spellcaster physically more powerful (such as bull's strength, divine power, and righteous might).

Tanarukk Magic Items

Tanarukks rarely have the skill to make their own unique kinds of magic items, but many wear burning battle gauntlets made for them by their demonic masters. They otherwise use orc magic items or those provided by the fiends. A few lucky tanarukks carry ancient magic items looted from Hellgate Keep, such as roaring armor of Ammarindar.

Tanarukk Deities

Like their pureblooded orc ancestors, tanarukks worship the orc pantheon. Despite the influence of their fiendish mentors, tanarukk tribes do not worship demons. Tanarukks who are content to use their physical prowess in the service of an orc leader (without thinking too much) lean to the worship of Bahgtru. More than any other tanarukks, the worshipers of Bahgtru rarely wear armor, considering it a weakness. They tend to be the strongest and most aggressive members of the tribe.

Gruumsh, He Who Never Sleeps, is revered by all tanarukks and is especially close to the hearts of the tribal and clan chieftains. They see their demonic blood as a reward from Gruumsh for their long service, and mercilessly kill the weakest young of the tribe or those who manifest no true tanarukk abilities. Allowing one who has spurned the gifts of the One-Eyed God to live is an affront to his worship.

Tanarukks consider Ilneval, the god of orc crossbreeds and martial skill, to be their special patron, and Ilneval is worshiped almost as an equal to Gruumsh. If this new race continues to expand, he is likely to supplant Gruumsh in the eyes of the tanarukks. Ilneval is a favorite of the wiser tanarukks as well as officers in orc armies. His worshipers are more likely to become fighters or rangers than barbarians.

Relations with other Races

Even more so than common orcs, tanarukks consider other races weaker than themselves. Only demons (and, to a lesser extent, powerful fiend-touched creatures such as half-fiends) gain any respect from the tanarukks, and only because they usually have power to back up their commands.

Tanarukks are prone to torture and then eat any intelligent humanoid that crosses their path. After centuries of service to the tanar'ri, they are quite conversant with painful methods of torture and not above eating parts of their victim while it is still alive. Tanarukks are particularly hateful toward elves, given that the weakest tanarukk is more than a match for a half dozen common elves.

Tanarukks see orcs and half-orcs as valuable allies but of lesser status than the tanarukks themselves. Any such allies usually end up coerced into mixing with the tanarukk tribe to create an even more numerous next generation of demonic progeny.

Tanarukk Equipment

Common tanarukks rarely wear armor, content with their own thick skins. Lieutenants and chieftains wear armor, but when forced to fight a challenger for supremacy they remove it in order to prove they are powerful without the metal skin.

Many tanarukks wear what they call "battle gauntlets" - thick bands of metal that cover the forearms and parts of the hands. Some of the more sadistic ones hold their hands in fire for several minutes before battle, heating the gauntlets so they deal 1 point of fire damage in addition to the unarmed strike damage (the tanarukk resistance to fire means this heat does not affect them at all). Battle gauntlets are not considered armor by tanarukks, and so there is no stigma of weakness in wearing them.

Animals and Pets

During their confinement within Hellgate Keep, tanarukks have fallen out of practice in training animals and have only recently begun training boats and dire boars as mounts. Ideally, fiendish varieties would suit their needs and temperament, but they lack the means to acquire many of these creatures.

Planetouched Races
Races of Faerûn
Character Creation