Half-orcs are fierce warriors who combine human resolve with orc savagery.

Description and Homelands

Combining the strength and hardiness of orcs with the cunning and ambition of humans, half-orcs are a tough breed indeed. Half-orcs arose long ago when fierce and violent tribes of humans wandered into lands where orc tribes dwelled, or vice versa. To this day people who display "orcish" traits occasionally surface in lands such as Vaasa or the North, and orcs of less bestial appearance and unusual cunning appear in various orc tribes. True half-orc communities are quite rare, but in lands where orc blood runs thick, people with half-orc characteristics may comprise a significant minority of the population.

An obscure legend claims that when Corellon put out Gruumsh's eye in a primeval battle, part of the savage god's essence fell to earth, where it transformed a race of humans into fierce half-orcs. Another story suggests that an ancient hobgoblin empire created half-orcs to lead orc tribes on the empire's behalf. Yet another legend claims that a tribe of brutal human barbarians chose to breed with orcs to strengthen their bloodline. If you ask a half-orc about his origin, you might hear one of these stories. You might also get a punch in the face for asking such a rude question.

Half-orcs favor their human lineage in appearance, but are distinguished by skin that tends to various shades of gray, broad jaws, and prominent lower canine teeth—though these are still a far cry from the jutting tusks of orcs. On average, they are taller and stronger than humans as well. Their hair is usually black, though it grays quickly with age. Most half-orcs who live among humans favor human styles of clothing and hairstyle, but a few adopt orc traditions, tying small bones or beads into long braids or bunches of hair. Half-orcs don't live quite as long as humans do. They mature quickly, reaching adulthood at about 16 years, and rarely live past the age of 60.

Playing a Half-Orc in Toril

Half-orcs combine the best qualities of humans and orcs, though some would argue that the good qualities of orcs are few and hard to find. From their orc blood, half-orcs inherit great physical strength and toughness. They are fierce warriors, fleet of foot as they charge into battle.

Their human blood makes half-orcs decisive and bold, resourceful and self-reliant. They are adaptable and able to make their way in almost any circumstance. Although half-orcs often live on the fringes of society in human towns and cities, they still find ways to prosper in a world to which they don't fully belong.

For all their good qualities, many half-orcs exhibit characteristics that polite society finds uncouth or undesirable. Half-orcs have little patience for complicated rules of etiquette or procedure and find little value in hiding their true opinions in order to spare someone's feelings. They enjoy the simple pleasures of food and drink, boasting, singing, wrestling, drumming, and dancing, and they don't find much satisfaction in more refined or sophisticated arts. They’re prone to act without much deliberation, preferring to overcome obstacles as they arise rather than consider every possible outcome and make contingency plans. These qualities lead some members of other races to consider them rude or crass, but others find their brashness refreshing.

Half-orcs generally live among either human or orc cultures—some in bustling human towns or cities, others among remote human or orc tribes. Most half-orcs have two half-orc parents, but sometimes half-orcs marry and have half-orc children with humans or orcs. Orcs show grudging respect to half-orcs for their considerable strength and for their cunning intelligence, which sometimes allows half-orcs to rise to leadership positions in orc tribes.

Although possessed of many strengths, half-orcs frequently encounter prejudice in human communities. Thus, most half-orcs gravitate to careers involving physical labor or violence. For some, the life of an adventurer is either a natural extension of that trend or a way to throw off the weight of prejudice. The adventuring life also means finding a place in a group of allies and equals—a simple pleasure that is all too hard for many half-orcs to find in the world.

Half-Orc Characteristics: Brash, ferocious, hedonistic, impulsive, short-tempered, tough, uninhibited
Male Names: Brug, Dorn, Druuk, Gnarsh, Grumbar, Hogar, Karash, Korgul, Krusk, Lubash, Mord, Ohr, Rendar, Sark, Scrag, Tanglar, Tarak, Thar, Ugarth, Yurk.
Female Names: Augh, Bree, Ekk, Gaaki, Grai, Grigri, Gynk, Huru, Lagazi, Murook, Nogu, Ootah, Puyet, Tawar, Tomph, Ubada, Vanchu.

Half-Orc Racial Traits

Average Height: 5'9" - 6'4"
Average Weight: 155 - 225 lb.

Ability scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Strength
Size: Medium
Speed: 6 squares
Vision: Low-light

Languages: Common, Giant
Skill Bonuses: +2 Endurance, +2 Intimidate.
Furious Assault: You have the furious assault power.
Half-Orc Resilience: The first time you are bloodied during an encounter, you gain 5 temporary hit points. The temporary hit points increase to 10 at 11th level and to 15 at 21st level.
Swift Charge: You gain a +2 bonus to speed when charging.

Furious Assault Half-Orc Racial Power
Your monstrous wrath burns inside you, giving strength to your attack.
Free Action Personal
Trigger: You hit an enemy
Effect: The attack deals 1[W] extra damage if it's a weapon attack or 1d8 extra damage if it isn't.

Play a Half-Orc if you want…

  • to be big, strong, and fast.
  • to harness anger into resilience and combat power.
  • to be a member of a race that favors the barbarian, fighter, ranger, and rogue classes.

Character Races
Player's Handbook DragonbornDwarvesEladrinElvesHalf-ElvesHalflingsHumansTieflings
Player's Handbook 2 DevasGnomesGoliathsHalf-OrcsShifters
Player's Handbook 3 GithzeraiMinotaurShardmindWilden
Forgotten Realms Player's Guide DrowGenasi
Character Races

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