Orcs, called euroz in the Flan tongue, are a primitive race of savage, bestial, barbaric humanoids.
Orcs are a species of aggressive mammalian carnivore that band together in tribes and survive by hunting and raiding. Orcs believe that in order to survive they must expand their territory, and so they are constantly involved in wars against many enemies: humans, elves, dwarves, goblins, and other orc tribes. Typically nocturnal, orcs are sensitive to light.
Orcs can be found in almost all locales of the Flanaess, but are most heavily concentrated in the Pomarj, the Empire of Iuz, the Bone March, and North Kingdom. There is also known to exist a great orcish city known as Garel Enkdal in the Griff Mountains. The orcs of the Baklunish nation of Zeif are very different from their brethren, having very nearly been assimilated into human society, though they are still regarded as lower-class.
Typical physical characteristics
Orcs vary widely in appearance as a result of frequent crossbreeding with other species. In general, they resemble primitive humans with grey-green skin covered with coarse hair. Orcs have a slightly stooped posture, low foreheads, and porcine faces with lower caninies that protrude like boar's tusks. Orcs typically have black hair, short pointed ears that resemble those of a wolf, and red eyes. The average adult male stands slightly over six feet tall and weighs around 210 pounds. Female orcs are slightly smaller.
Orcs prefer to wear colors that most humans think unpleasant: blood red, rust red, mustard yellow, yellow green, moss green, greenish purple, and blackish brown. Their armor and weapons are often dirty and a bit rusty.
Orcs are often chaotic evil, though they were lawful evil in editions prior to third.
Orcs typically organize into warlike tribes. Tribal rivalries are often severe, and tribes will only cooperate if controlled by a very strong leader. Major orc tribes include the Bloody Head, the Broken Bone, the Death Moon, the Dripping Blade, the Evil Eye, the Leprous Hand, the Rotting Eye, the Vile Rune, and the Dazark of the Fellreev Forest. Orcs usually spend their time planning raids and honing their combat skills when not warring with other creatures.
Orcish society is patriarchial. Females are typically regarded as property, though an individual's status may vary from chattel to prized possession. Males take pride in the number of females owned and the number of sons they sire. Battle prowess, territory, and wealth are also signs of status in orc society. Battle scars are worn proudly, and ritual scarification is practiced to mark great achievements and significant turning points in an orc's life.
Orcs have their own pantheon, led by Gruumsh. These deities include:
The orcish gods teach that all other races are inferior, and that all their possessions rightfully belong to the orcs, having been stolen in the first place.
Iuz is also popular among orcs, especially within his own empire. The Earth Dragon is popular in the Pomarj. Orcs less inclined toward evil may worship other deities, such as the mongrelfolk god Meriadar, or the half-orc hero deity Nazarn.
Orcs speak Orcish, a language derived from older human and elvish languages. There is no common standard of Orcish, so the language has many dialects which vary from tribe to tribe. Orcish utilizes dwarven runes in its written form.
A fecund race, orcs often breed with other humanoid creatures. Known crossbreeds include:
- Half-orcs: These orc-human crossbreeds are most often born in as the unfortunate byproduct of raids in border areas between human and orc cultures. Despite rejection from both sides of their heritage, many half-orcs achieve renown.
- Losels: Losels are orc-baboon crossbreeds bred by Iuz and the Scarlet Brotherhood because they reproduce faster than common orcs.
- Ogrillions: These creatures are the brutish, armor-skinned offspring of a female orc and a male ogre.
- Orogs: An orog is the offspring of a male orc and a female ogre. Orogs usually live among orcs; they are stronger, more intelligent, and more disciplined than typical orcs.
Earlier versions of Dungeons & Dragons depicted orcs slightly differently. They were Lawful Evil, and were sometimes described as having porcine snouts (an illustration in the 1977 Monster Manual depicted them with pig-like faces). An insightful passage from the Monstrous Manual reads, "Orcs have a reputation for cruelty that is deserved, but humans are just as capable of evil as orcs."
The half-orc in the original AD&D game was a standard player character race, typically assuming the assassin character class. Half-orcs were removed from the Player's Handbook in the second edition of the game but were revived, albeit altered, in 3rd edition.
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