Dungeons and Dragons Character Races – Half-Orc
Back into Dungeons and Dragons character races, here is one of the two half races, along with Half-Elf. The basic ideas is that it’s a half human and half orc, but there’s no real reason, other than that they are statted in a way that makes sense for that, that you couldn’t have it be half another race as well, you’d just have to make a few minor tweaks to it.
When playing a half orc, like the Tieflilng, you have to know that you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb as you’re going to be larger than most any human or smaller than most any orc. It’s really a race that is stuck between two things. I think a half-orc adventuring makes a lot of sense for that reason, because you don’t fit into human society, you might take up adventuring or mercenary work to get into a situation where you can become a hero, or people like you because you are big and strong. And with getting stat bumps to strength and constitution, you are certainly big and strong.
Half-Orcs, beyond their strength score bump are really made for melee characters. They get two abilities, relentless endurance and savage attack that make them great at going into the middle of things. Relentless endurance allows them, once per day, when they would have hit 0 HP, they go back up to 1 HP. And savage attack means that when they strike with a melee weapon and get a critical hit, they do an extra die of damage which means that they hit even harder. Things like Champion Fighter and Barbarian really are where the Half-Orc is going to shine.
When role playing one, it is really about playing a character who is out of place. In a human society, people are going to be scared of you because orcs are a monstrous race. In orc society, you are going to be a weakling and a liability on their hunting and raiding parties. Those things are reason enough to play against type if you want to. Since you would be stuck with menial tasks in an orc tribe, maybe you’ve spent more time honing magic or some other skills such as scouting, since you’d be the smallest orc. Or in human society, maybe you joined a religious order as a way to show that you aren’t just a big brutish monster.
Let’s hop into some backstory ideas, as I think there are interesting game elements that you can tie into a half-orc.
Times were difficult in your tribe and being the child of an orc who loved a human was even more difficult. When a drought hit and all the animals left the area and food was scarce, you were the first to be kicked out of the tribe. You were small for your tribe and you couldn’t hunt as well. You had to make it on your own if you wanted to survive, and you learned to live off of the land better than your old tribe had. Now you’ve been doing that for several decades, and the drought has come back every ten years, to the date and you are worried about the land you live on and that something more might be happening than just a weather pattern.
Alignment: Neutral/Neutral Good
They said that you were lucky, besides your larger size, you don’t look that unlike a human compared to other half orcs. That made you a perfect choice to join the kings guard, someone who is stronger than the other guards. That worked out great and you grew to be one of the favorites of the King. You followed his rules to the letter, but the other guards became jealous and planted fake letters from you to the prince/princess and had those shown to the King. As a lowly kings guard and a half orc at that, you were kicked out and banished from the kingdom. Little did the guards know that you actually do care a lot about the prince/princess and they care for you. Now you have a new goal, to get back to them.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral/Chaotic Good
You have a very nice job working for the Black Coat Mercenary guild. They pay you well and give you a spot where you feel like you fit in. You mainly go on missions that are to squash insurrections or other things like that, bolster a kingdom when needed. You aren’t supposed to have any attachments, but when you saw that one mission was supposed to have you kill a well known wizard who was helping a town survive from a powerful kingdom that wanted that land, you decided not to do your mission. Instead you helped the wizard and the townfolk move miles away and relocate then you went and burned down the village. But now that wizard has popped up again under a new name, and you are worried that your secret is going to come out and your standing with the guild will be ruined and you might become their next target.
Alignment: Lawful Good/Neutral Good
Have you played an half-orc before? Were there anythings that you leaned into with playing a half-orc? Would you play on of these backstories?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!