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. 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 tend to be 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 stand between 6 and 7 feet tall and usually weigh between 180 and 250 pounds. 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 may either display or hide his scars, depending on his attitude toward them.
Half-orcs mature a little faster than humans and age noticeably faster. They reach adulthood at age 14, and few 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 half-orcs are reserved, trying not to draw attention to themselves. A few demonstrate piety and good-heartedness as publicly as they can (whether or not 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 good and evil in equal proportions. Half-orcs raised among orcs and willing to live out their lives with them are usually the evil ones.
Half-Orc Lands: Half-orcs have no lands of their own, but 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 the elves. While Gruumsh is evil, half-orc barbarians and fighters may worship him as a war god even if they are not 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 down. 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, Gell, Henk, Holg, Imsh, Keth, Krusk, Ront, Shump, Thokk.
Orc Female Names: Baggi, Emen, Engong, Myev, Neega, Ovak, Ownka, Shautha, Vola, 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 whom are fellow wanderers and outsiders.
“I might be a half-orc, but I’m more of a man than you.”
—Drell, half-orc House Tharashk caravan guard
Strong and capable, half-orcs ably straddle two worlds: the civilized culture of humans and the tribal nature of orcs. Having existed alongside humans for centuries, half-orcs tend to be accepted among other races when found. Their hard work and brave hearts are valued by many.
Lands: Half-orcs are rare, due in large part to the isolated and insular nature of the orc tribes. The Eldeen Reaches, Droaam, and the Shadow Marches hold the largest populations of half-orcs, in ascending order of size. The half-orcs of the Eldeen Reaches descend from the small population of Gatekeeper orcs in the region. The half-orcs of Droaam are largely members of House Tharashk and ambassadors of its desires in the monster-ruled region. Humans and orcs have been living together in the Shadow Marches for two thousand years, and indeed, the union of humans and half-orcs provoked the creation of House Tharashk.
Settlements: Half-orcs live among other races, primarily humans and orcs. In the Shadow Marches, shared orc and human settlements host large half-orc populations and a single orc-human culture. In other nations, half-orcs often live in or near House Tharashk holdings, working for the house or in businesses that support the house. Half-orcs who work near House Tharashk more easily find acceptance both from members of the house and those who think that the half-orcs might be members of the house.
Power Groups: House Tharashk is the only power center of the race, although a few half-orc settlements in the Shadow Marches have existed for generations. Half-orcs can generally find a warmer welcome from members of House Tharashk and the settlements and tribes of the Shadow Marches than they can from the communities of other races.
Beliefs: Half-orcs worship the deities of humans and orcs. Many follow the Sovereign Host, while half-orcs of the Eldeen Reaches and the Shadow Marches often take up the Gatekeepers’ faith.
Language: Half-orcs often speak both Orc and Common, regardless of what race they were brought up with. Speaking both languages allows half-orcs to socialize easily with both races. When speaking to others of their kind, half-orcs often blend the two languages, picking words and phrases that best suit their needs regardless of grammar. Half-orcs socialize in much the same manner as humans, although those raised among orcs often have a tendency to unapologetically blurt out whatever they are thinking or feeling.
Relations: While half-orcs initially faced a great deal of prejudice, the creation of House Tharashk and the existence of the Mark of Finding has forced other races to accept half-orcs. Respect for the house (and fear of its reprisal) now protects half-orcs from violence based solely on race, and many people accept the halforcs among them with light hearts. Half-orcs face the most resistance to their presence in Thrane, where the notion of civilized orcs and respect for the Gatekeepers has never taken root. Also, areas where rogue orc tribes prey on the fringes of society are unwelcoming of half-orcs and often suspect them as spies.
Half-orcs are powerful combatants with the advantage of darkvision. Their lower than average Intelligence and Charisma scores can be a liability in social situations, but these disadvantages can be compensated for by good skill and feat selection or by allowing another more diplomatic PC to do the talking.
Adventuring Half-Orcs: Half-orcs often take to a life of adventure as a means to gain respect and wealth and as a way, besides manual labor, of taking advantage of their great strength. The dangerous Shadow Marches and the wild Eldeen Reaches often make adventuring a natural choice for half-orcs who live there, since they have become accustomed to the rigors of such a life.
Half-orcs who work for or are members of House Tharashk also find adventuring to be an obvious way of life, because the house often sends its members on quests into the wild to find resources and employs many as inquisitives and law enforcers.
Half-orcs think of adventuring as a respectable and exciting occupation. Many half-orcs have risky occupations, and the adventurer’s path seems a bold and proud one to most of that race.
Character Development: Half-orcs often benefit from taking feats and ranks in skills that suit their great strength, but a half-orc wishing to be more of an ambassador among his two peoples should look to the synergy of skills. Diplomacy gains a +2 bonus from each of 5 ranks in Bluff, 5 ranks in Knowledge (nobility and royalty), and 5 ranks in Sense Motive.
All three skills would be useful to a half-orc, and the strategy of taking 5 ranks in each without spending skill points on Diplomacy gives a half-orc a strong set of social skills despite the race’s Intelligence and Charisma penalties.
Character Names: Half-orcs use the names of humans and orcs, but some half-orc names are a blend or abbreviation of sounds or words from both Common and Orc.
Male Names: Bravejo, Devent, Fuddok, Kad, Timmok.
Female Names: Anika, Bertha, Ket, Maia-Zak, Zarra.
Half-orcs can be powerful fighters, but their association with House Tharashk opens up a world of other types of roleplaying encounters. The statistics block below describes a half-orc inquisitive. PCs might encounter an inquisitive because one is investigating their involvement in some mystery, or they might be trailed by one hired by someone interested in the PCs’ exploits. The statistics could also be used for a member of a city’s law enforcement or for a bounty hunter. For statistics representing a half-orc barbarian, see page 112 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. There you’ll find a 5th-level and a 10th-level half-orc barbarian.
EL 2: This half-orc inquisitive might be encountered at the scene of a crime, or he might approach the PCs about what they know about a recent mystery. While many inquisitives are experts, this half-orc is an experienced warrior and willing to capture criminals as well as track them down.
Half-Orc Inquisitive: Male half-orc ranger 1/rogue 1; CR 2; Medium humanoid (orc); HD 1d8+1 plus 1d6+1;
hp 13; Init –1; Spd 30 ft.; AC 16, touch 9, flat-footed 16;
Base Atk +1; Grp +2; Atk or
Full Atk +2 melee (1d8+1/19–20, longsword) or +2 melee (1d6+1, sap) or
+0 ranged (1d8/×3, longbow);
SA favored enemy (humans +2), sneak attack +1d6;
SQ darkvision 60 ft., half-orc traits, trapfinding, wild empathy +2 (–2 magical beasts);
AL LN; SV Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +1;
Str 12, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 13, Cha 12.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +4, Diplomacy +7, Disable Device +4, Disguise –1 (+1 acting in character), Intimidate +6, Listen +5, Search +5, Sense Motive +6, Spot +5, Survival +2 (+4 following tracks); Investigate, Track.
Favored Enemy (Ex): An inquisitive gains a +2 bonus on Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks when using these skills against humans. He receives the same bonus on weapon damage rolls against humans.
Half-Orc Traits: For all effects related to race, a half-orc is considered an orc.
Trapfinding (Ex): An inquisitive can find, disarm, or bypass traps with a DC of 20 or higher. He can use the Search skill to find, and the Disable Device skill to disarm, magic traps (DC 25 + the level of the spell used to create it). If his Disable Device result exceeds the trap’s DC by 10 or more, he discovers how to bypass the trap without triggering or disarming it.
Wild Empathy (Ex): An inquisitive can improve the attitude of an animal in the same way that a Diplomacy check can improve the attitude of a sentient being. The inquisitive rolls 1d20+2, or 1d20–2 if attempting to influence a magical beast with an Intelligence score of 1 or 2.
Possessions: +1 chain shirt, heavy wooden shield, longsword, sap, longbow with 30 arrows, elixir of truth.
Half-orc adventures can involve many of the same themes as human and orc adventures, so a large number of possibilities exist.
- A holy relic was recently stolen from a temple of the Silver Flame in Thrane. The inquisitives hired from House Tharashk found the relic in the house holdings. House leaders believe someone tried to frame their house for the crime, but they can’t trust all their house members and employees. Now House Tharashk is discreetly looking for a group of reliable adventurers, first to replace the relic in the temple without alerting the clerics to the house’s involvement, then to find out who brought the relic to the house.
- House Tharashk needs guards for a diplomatic mission in Droaam and is hiring half-orcs and orcs in preference to other races. A group with a half-orc to serve as diplomat could be hired on for the lucrative but dangerous mission.
ROLEPLAYING A HALF-ORC
Your half-orc character is a blending of both human and orc, and you’re likely familiar with both cultures.
- Your heritage is nothing to be ashamed of, so don’t suffer an insult to it. Give as good as you get.
- Use Orc terms and words in your speech. Make up Orc metaphors and aphorisms. There are no set rules for the Orc language, so feel free to make things up as you go. When not in the company of orcs or half-orcs, your character might make up false proverbs as a bit of fun.
- You’re likely stronger than others around you, so don’t be afraid of hard work or tough fights. Take the initiative and go at such tasks with gusto.
HALF-ORC RACIAL TRAITS
- +2 Strength, –2 Intelligence, –2 Charisma: Half-orcs are strong, but their orc lineage makes them dull and crude.
- Medium: As Medium- creatures, half-orcs have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Half-orc base land 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 effects related to race, a half-orc is considered an orc. Half-orcs, for example, are just as vulnerable to special effects that affect orcs as their orc ancestors are, and they can use magic items that are only usable by orcs.
- Automatic Languages: Common and Orc. Bonus Languages: Draconic, Giant, Gnoll, Goblin, and Abyssal. 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 takes an experience point penalty. Ferocity runs in a half-orc’s veins.
Adulthood: 14 yrs.
Barbarian, Rogue, Sorcerer: +1d4
Bard, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger: +1d6
Cleric, Druid, Monk, Wizard: +2d6
Middle Age: 30 yrs.
Old: 45 yrs.
Venerable: 60 yrs.
Maximum Age: +2d10 yrs.
|Random Height and Weight||Base Height||Height Modifier||Base Weight||Weight Modifier|
|Male||4'10"||+2d12||150 lb.||x(2d6) lb.|
|Female||4'5"||+2d12||110 lb.||x(2d6) lb.|
Source: Player's Handbook, Eberron Campaign Setting, Races of Eberron