From lore and descriptions to traits and abilities, learn all about Half-Orcs in D&D 5e
Much like other half Human races, Half-Orcs are beings of 2 worlds with one part of their lineage belonging to Humans and the other belonging to Orcs. While often enemies, Humans and Orcs have at times seen peace among each other and when this has happened, interbreeding has been more common, producing Half-orcs. Those born to Humans and Orcs share attributes of both races and while during times of peace, they are generally accepted among both races, during times of war, they can find themselves shunned by both races too.
Half-orcs were introduced to D&D 5e in the Player’s Handbook and are one of the more common races of the Forgotten Realms. Our guide has everything you need to know to play as one of these gnarly characters.
What is a Half-Orc?
A Half-orc is the product of a union between a Human and an Orc (or even a Half-Orc and another Half-Orc). They retain the features of both races with some of the more extreme elements of Orcish behaviour balanced by their Human side. Half-Orcs are able to live and cooperate in Human and Orc settlements, at least while the races remain at peace with one another. That being said, it’s not unusual for the combative Orcs to be at war for some reason or another.
Half-Orcs tend to be a bit larger than most Humans, standing anywhere between about 5-6.5ft tall. While they have many basic Human features, they do tend to inherit certain Orcish features too. Often this manifests as a greyosh skin tone and prominent teeth, but some Half-orcs may look more or less Orcish than this.
Orcs glory in battle and those Half-Orcs raised among Orcs will often acquire the battle-scars associated with this lifestyle. Such scars are seen as things of beauty, to be proud of. Some scars though, may mark a Half-Orc’s time as a prisoner and these are seen as a disgrace. Depending on your Half-Orc’s treatment among Orcs may depend on the kinds of scars your character has.
Half-Orcs, like their Orc relatives, tend to burn with passion and emotion much more strongly than Humans (though a little less than full-blooded Orcs). Sadness brings with it a heavy depression, anger is unleashed as rage, but equally, joy is felt with incredible mirth and happiness with unbridled delight. Half-Orcs will do little to hide these emotions and are inclined to sulking and fighting when emotions negatively affect them or feasting, wrestling and dancing when overcome with positive emotions.
How to play as a Half-Orc
While Half-Orcs come with a variety of personalities, the main things to bear in mind is a Half-Orcs propensity towards boldness and action and their strong responses to emotions. Half-Orcs tend to solve problems with action (and often fists) more than words. You’ll likely feel bored or frustrated when investigation and consideration is being made rather than action. When you feel emotions, you’ll want to display those in big ways. If you dislike someone, you’ll probably let them know that, if you’re frustrated, you might punch a wall, if you succeed at something, you’ll be vocal about it.
Of course, not all Half-orcs are the same and you’r welcome to play a Half-Orc that perhaps represses their Human side a little more than most Half-Orcs.
Half-Orc features in 5e
|Ability Scores||Strength +2, Constitution +1|
|Languages||Common and Orc|
|Traits||Darkvision, Menacing, Relentless Endurance, Savage Attacks|
|Book found in||Player’s Handbook|
If you want to play as a Half-Orc, your character will have the following traits and abilities:
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 critical 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 critical hit.