Adapted From Orc - PathfinderWikiMTG- gamepedia- Orc, and Archives of Nethys- Ancestries- Orc
Orcs are forged in the fires of violence and conflict, often from the moment they are born. As they live lives that are frequently cut brutally short, orcs revel in testing their strength against worthy foes, whether by challenging a higher-ranking member of their community for dominance or raiding a neighboring settlement. Many orcs seek glory as soon as they can walk and carry a blade or club, taming wild beasts or hunting deadly monsters. Orcs often struggle to gain acceptance among other communities, who frequently see them as brutes. Those who earn the loyalty of an orc friend, however, soon learn that an orc's fidelity and honesty are unparalleled. Orc barbarians, fighters, and rangers are prized as gladiators and mercenaries. While some human settlements might be hesitant to accept an entire orc community into their midst, a small handful of orc mercenaries can do the job of an entire squad of human conscripts, so long as the orcs are well fed and well paid. Though the belief that orcs are only suited for battle is pervasive among other humanoids, the harsh orc mentality comes from a long history of conflict rather than a lack of ability in other areas.   Orc culture teaches that they are shaped by the challenges they survive, and the most worthy survive the most hardships. Orcs who attain both long life and great triumphs command immense respect.

Basic Information


Orcs are tall and powerfully built, with long arms and stocky legs. Many orcs top 7 feet in height, though they tend to adopt broad, almost bow-legged stances and slouch forward at the shoulders. The combination makes for a seeming contradiction, sharing an eye level with most humanoids while simultaneously towering over them. Orcs have rough skin, thick bones, and rock-hard muscles, making them suited to war and other physically demanding tasks. Despite the roughness of their skin, orcs scar easily, and most orcs take great pride in the scars they have accumulated. Orc skin color is typically green and occasionally gray, though some orcs have other skin colors that reflect adaptations to their environments.   Orcs consider powerful builds and heavily scarred skin attractive, regardless of gender. A powerful orc makes the hold stronger, and scars are signs of victories won or hardships survived. Similarly, many orcs consider large, jutting tusks to be more attractive than smaller tusks, since the former make more effective weapons. Many orcs also find tattoos to be attractive, particularly large or painful ones that cover a significant amount of skin.

Genetics and Reproduction

Ecology and Habitats

Orcs usually leave their tribes only after losing out in a power struggle. Facing humiliation, slavery, or even death at the hands of their own kind, they opt instead to live and work with members of other races. Orcs who fail to rein in their tempers and the instinctive drive to dominate rarely last long once they strike out on their own. Though orcs who do manage to get by in other societies often enjoy the luxuries and comforts these societies can deliver, they still tend to dream of returning home, seizing power, and taking revenge.

Additional Information

Social Structure

Most orc communities define themselves through two things: pain and glory. Each earns respect in near equal measure, so long as the pain is borne with stoicism. An orc with many scars who walks uncomplaining with a broken leg draws as much admiration as one who wins a great victory on the battlefield.   Power in an orc hold comes from strength or family lineage. The structure tends to be feudal, with weaker orcs working at the behest of the strong.Alalqahia is the largest such society, and power changes hands there quickly. One mighty orc dying in battle can shake up an entire power structure, leading to squabbling and duels to decide control. Many orcs who tire of being subservient split off to form their own warbands, traveling to new territory.   Young orcs are typically raised by the entire community. Indeed, it would be almost impossible for orcs to raise their young any other way, since twins, triplets, and even quadruplets are quite common in orc families, as are deaths among orcs in their child-rearing years. Many orcholds conduct ceremonies when a young orc comes of age, typically around their tenth or eleventh birthday, during which the new adults are told what their role in the hold will be. For communities that practice ritual scarification or tattooing, this is often when the young orcs receive their first hold-scar or tattoo as well.   Orcs fear very little, but most distrust magic. Magic is seen as a tool that bypasses the physical and allows the weak to contend with the strong, a belief that runs at odds with orc values. While they respect the physical might of Farskin Warpriests , and even Druids who take on the forms of great beasts, they find arcane and occult magic questionable at best and unethical on the whole. All but the most depraved orc communities see Necromancy as a foul art that steals glory from the dead, and their growing struggles against the undead have given them newfound common ground with their humanoid neighbors.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Orcs of Gradus

  • Ururhak- Surface dwelling Orcs of the harsh steppes of Mifob.
  • Vietic - Stratigically savvy Orcs from Northeastern Saskhij 

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Emerging from Subterra Orcs possess darkvision and use fire to prepare food and produce heat.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

Orcs have a harsh, guttural language, and their naming conventions are no exception. Many orc names are simply the Orcish word for a particularly desirable trait, such as great strength, height, or ferocity. Orcs commonly use either their hold name or a name referencing a particularly memorable accomplishment as their surname.   Male Names: Arkus, Carrug, Felzak, Murdut, Prabur.   Female Names: Durra, Grillgiss, Ilyat, Krugga, Leffit, Olbin, Trisgrak.

Culture and Cultural Heritage

A common orc saying is, “You are the scars that shape you.” Violent, chaotic lives in violent, chaotic lands mean that most orcs tend heavily toward chaotic alignments.    While there are orc deities, their worship is surprisingly uncommon among orcs. Orcs believe that if a creature has a face and a name, it can be killed, and so their own deities are targets, rather than objects of reverence. Some orc holds teach that the greatest members of the hold can earn a chance to challenge the orc deities for a place amid the pantheon. Most orcs don't waste their dying moments praising the divine or praying for a place in the afterlife, but spitting a blood-flecked warning at their deities, promising a new challenger through broken teeth.


When first encountered in the depths of Subterra, Gradus' orcs were little more than ferocious animals. Their earliest fights against the Dwarves  taught orcs the rudiments of civilization as they had finally encountered a foe that could not be overcome with just fists, teeth, and sheer fury. Eventually, they learned to wield stolen dwarven weapons and to modify stolen armor to fit their hulking frames. It was not enough. As orcs rose from their animalistic beginnings, still the dwarves forced them into retreat during their Quest for Sky. Eventually, they were forced onto the surface of Gradus ahead of the crusading dwarves in places like Orgadh. Upon reaching the surface, the orcs found a sunless land still engulfed in the Age of Darkness with the remains of shattered empires like Mariana scattered across the land.   During the Age of Darkness, the orcs prospered; to them, this era was known as "The Sacking" as the orcs rampaged across the surface world all but unopposed. As the perpetual darkness created by Earthfall slowly gave way to more and more daylight, the Age of Anguish began and orcs knew the burning kiss of the Sun. This marked the start of a centuries-long decline for the orcs that was only ceased by the birth and rise of the legendary orc warlord Qahia. Determined to drive the dwarves back below the surface, Quahia began a violent campaign that resulted in the sacking of great cities and culminating in the conquest of the Gorum Sky Citadel. Qahia's conquests give rise to the kingdom that still bears his name, Alalqahia .

Common Myths and Legends

The Happy Fellow is a legend told by orc mothers to their young about an elf who comes to eat orc children who smile too much in their sleep.


Orcs tend to view religion as simply an exchange of power with whichever god will help them most in battle and have no interest in any peaceful deities. Farskh and Snarznir Skuzdam are commonly worshiped among orc communities, though less violent holds worship nature deities like Shanōrz ông or gods like Taura, whose tenets of fire, redemption, and glory all hold some appeal to orc sensibilities. Orcs are also prone to demon worship; the most common demon lords they follow include Baspha, Norcul, Blozvrok, and Saloz. There are also small tribes of orcs that devoutly worship the less powerful nascent demon lords. Orcs also boast their own pantheon of racial demigods whom they worship somewhat interchangeably, often blending their various roles and myths to suit current needs. Some believe these are paragons of the orc race, raised to divinity by virtue of their sheer orcness, while others believe they have always been divine. They have worshipped these deities since before the Age of Darkness making them ancient beings either way. Countless orc demigods exist; the eight commonly worshipped on Gradus are Megete the Dark Mother, Blorxakh the Slavelord, Chubü the Blood God, Sooon the Thunderer, Ahla  the Fire God, Zashas the Iron Warrior, Cagsh the Despoiler, and Gorvag the Destroyer

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Orcs admire strength above all things. Even members of enemy races can sometimes win an orc’s grudging respect, or at least tolerance if they break his nose enough times. Orcs regard dwarves and elves with an odd mix of fierce hatred, sullen resentment, and a trace of wariness. They respect power, and, on some level, understand that these two races have kept them at bay for countless ages. Though they never miss a chance to torment a dwarf or elf who falls into their clutches, they tend to proceed cautiously unless certain of victory. Orcs dismiss halflings and gnomes as weaklings barely worth the trouble of enslaving. They often regard half-elves, who appear less threatening than full-blooded elves but have many elven features, as particularly appealing targets. Orcs view humans as a race of sheep with a few wolves living in their midst. They freely kill or oppress humans too weak to fend them off but always keep one eye on the nearest exit in case they run into a formidable human. Orcs look upon half-orcs with a strange mixture of contempt, envy, and pride. Though weaker than typical orcs, these half-breeds are also usually smarter, more cunning, and better leaders. Tribes led, or at least advised, by half-orcs are often more successful than those led by pure-blooded orcs. On a more fundamental level, orcs believe each half-orc also represents an orc exerting dominance over a weaker race.  

Beast Riding

Whilst, at best, only average riders, orcs value having fearsome mounts for the prestige they bring. The most common mounts include Dire Wolf, Daeodon, Gorthek, Elephant, Rhinoceros, and even Owlbear, but orcs value rare or exotic creatures even more highly.


— Advanced Player's Guide pg. 17
Scientific Name
Homo Orcul Orcul
Geographic Distribution
Related Ethnicities

Cover image: Orc Shaman by Marc Molchan


Humanoid, Orc
Advanced Player’s Guide
25 ft
Strength, Free
Common, Orcish
Additional languages equal to your Intelligence modifier (if it’s positive). Choose from Goblin, Jotun, Terran, Undercommon, and any other languages to which you have access (such as the languages prevalent in your region).
Darkvision- You can see in darkness and dim light just as well as you can see in bright light, though your vision in darkness is in black and white.
Pathfinder 2e, Ancestry, Orc, Humanoid, Uncommon, APG


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