Dungeons & Dragons
Whether united under the leadership of a mighty warlock or having fought to a standstill after years of conflict, orc and human tribes sometimes form alliances, joining forces into a larger horde to the terror of civilized lands nearby. When these alliances are sealed by marriages, half-orcs are bom. Some half-orcs rise to become proud chiefs of orc tribes, their human blood giving them an edge over their full-blooded orc rivaIs. Some venture into the world to prove their worth among humans and other more civilized races. Many of these become adventurers, achieving greatness for their mighty deeds and notoriety for their barbaric customs and savage fury.
Scarred and Strong
Half-orcs’ grayish pigmentation, sloping foreheads, jutting jaws, prominent teeth, and lowering builds make their orcish heritage plain for all to see. Half-orcs stand between 6 and 7 feet tall and usually weigh between 180 and 250 pounds.
Orcs regard battle scars as tokens of pride and ornamental sears as things of beauty. Other scars, though, mark an orc or half-orc as a former slave or a disgraeed exile. Any half-orc who has lived among or near orcs has scars, whether they are marks of humiliation or of pride, recounting their past exploits and injuries. Such a half-orc living among humans might display these scars proudly or hide them in shame.
The Mark of Gruumsh
The one-eyed god Gruumsh created the orcs, and even those orcs who turn away from his worship can’t fully escape his influence. The same is true of half-orcs. Though their human blood moderates the impact of their orcish heritage. Some half-orcs hear the whispers of Gruumsh in their dreams, calling them to unleash the rage that simmers within them. Others feel Gruumsh’s exultation when they join in melee combat—and either exult along with him or shiver with fear and loathing. Half-orcs are not evil by nature, but evil does lurk within them, whether they embrace it or rebel against it.
Beyond the rage of Gruumsh, half-orcs feel emotion powerfully. Rage doesn’t just quicken their pulse, it makes their bodies burn. An insult stings like acid, and sadness saps their strength. But they laugh loudly and heartily, and simple bodily pleasures—feasting, drinking, wrestling, drumming, and wild dancing—fill their hearts with joy. They tend to be short-tempered and sometimes sullen, more inclined to action than contemplation and to fighting than arguing. The most accomplished half-orcs are those with enough self-control to get by in a civilized land.
Blood Will Tell
Half-orcs ultimately owe their plight to the deity Gruumsh, the creator of the orcs. Legend has it that when Gruumsh discovered all the territories of the world had been claimed by other races, he swore the orcs would avenge themselves by taking what they wanted by force. The great orc hordes continue to do just that today, appearing periodically from out of the wilderness to raid and scavenge.
As a result, the word “orc” has no pleasant connotation in the minds of other Faerûnians; half-orcs aren’t accepted into other societies because of their orc heritage. At the same time, the word “half” is a mark of derision among orcs. Some half-orcs raised among orcs react to this stigma by being more brutal than others of their tribe, which can put them in roles of leadership, but outsider half-orcs aren’t welcomed into orc society because they aren’t of pure orc blood.
Half-orcs are seen as off-putting and intimidating by other people, which is both a blessing and a curse, because while they are often left alone by those who fear them, they also become targets of discrimination, or outright attacks, from those who feel threatened by them. This prejudice against the race makes half-orcs slow to trust even those who show them courtesy—because they all have stories of when they were tricked by such behavior. Their orc blood—the Mark of Gruumsh—makes them quick to anger and inclined to lash out at those who treat them unfairly.
Having grown up among orcs or under the shadow of their heritage, half-orcs rarely have experience with pleasant society, and they often come off as coarse, blunt, or rude in dealings with other people. With the directness of an orc, they speak their minds with no apparent concern for how their opinions are received. No matter where they live, half-orcs usually find themselves defined by others in terms of their usefulness as heavy laborers and soldiers. It is the rare and fortunate few who are judged by their character and their deeds rather than their ancestry.
Tribes and Slums
Half-orcs most often live among orcs. Of the other races, humans are most likely to accept half-orcs, and half-orcs almost always live in human lands when not living among orc tribes. Whether proving themselves among rough barbarian tribes or scrabbling to survive in the slums of larger cities, half-orcs get by on their physical might, their endurance, and the sheer determination they inherit from their human ancestry.
In lands far from the Sword Coast, such as Thesk and Chessenta, there are large communities of half-orcs, where generations of them have lived as a people in their own right. Yet there are few such places in the North. A small community was growing near the Kingdom of Many Arrows, but the recent war with the orcs of that realm caused this burgeoning population to disperse.
Today no civilized place in the North has a significant population of half-orcs, although at least a few of them reside in or on the outskirts of any stable community. Ironically, it is among the largest and most civilized of these places that half-orcs are likely to find acceptance—in the great cities where people are often more cosmopolitan in their outlook. In Waterdeep, for instance, half-orcs make up a tiny percentage of the population, yet even at that they still number in the hundreds. Half-orcs who call Waterdeep home appreciate the acceptance, or at least tolerance, they receive in the city, whether they were born there, arrived overland from elsewhere on the continent, or entered the city by way of ships bringing trade.
Half-Orcs in Faerûn
Half-orcs have existed in the world since before the dawn of recorded history, when orcs and humans first came into contact. Yet, in all that time, they have found few places for themselves in Faerûnian civilization—or, perhaps more accurately, civilization has never made room for them.
Most of the common folk have an aversion to half-orcs based largely on their appearance: anyone who looks that much like an orc, they reason, must be like an orc and should be kept at a distance. Because half-orcs are typically stronger and hardier than their human peers, they can find employment in towns and cities, but their appearance marks them as outsiders. In response to being ostracized, half-orcs either embrace their otherness and take pride in their physical superiority, pull back and try not to draw too much attention to themselves, or give up trying to fit in anywhere and adopt a nomadic lifestyle.
Half-orcs usually have names appropriate to the culture in which they were raised. A half-orc who wants to fit in among humans might trade an orc name for a human name. Some half-orcs with human names decide to adopt a guttural orc name because they think it makes them more intimidating.
Male Orc Names: Deneh, Feng, Gell, Henk, Holg, Imsh, Kelh, Krusk, Mhurren, Ront, Shump, Thokk
Female Orc Names: Baggi, Emen, Engong. Kansif, Myev, Neega, Ovak, Ownka, Shaulha, Sulha, Vola, Volen, Yevelda
- Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2, and your Constitution score increases by 1.
- Age. Half-orcs mature a little faster than humans, reaching adulthood around age 14. They age noticeably faster and rarely live longer than 75 years.
- Alignment. Half-orcs inherit a tendeney toward chaos from their orc parents and are not strongly inclined toward good. Half-orcs raised among orcs and willing to live out their lives among them are usually evil.
- Size. Half-orcs are somewhat larger and bulkier than humans, and they range from 5 to well over 6 feet tall. Your size is Medium.
- Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
- Darkvision. Thanks to your orc blood, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light. and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
- Menacing. You gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill.
- Relentless Endurance. When you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.
- Savage Attacks. When you score a criticaI hit with a melee weapon attack, you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the criticaI hit.
- Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Orcish.