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D&D 5E How Are Orcs Different In Your World? (+)


Certainly not the way they’re typically depicted. What I like about @Oofta’s take is that it removes most of the unfortunate implications of their classic depiction by making them not an actual race of people, but more like organic constructs. I also like that it acknowledges the possibility that they could theoretically be liberated from the control of their creators. To me, that actually says that kill-on-sight is probably not a morally good policy towards them (and Oofta did say they aren’t actively hunted down). But, most contexts you’re likely to encounter them in are violent ones.
Effectively the only context you will encounter orcs in my campaign are violent ones. They have little choice but to attack or plan an attack (unless they have overriding orders) when they encounter anyone they do not consider an ally or someone they can subjugate.

There are other "typically evil" humanoids in my game that don't follow this pattern such as goblins. They have a few exceptions now and then. If you encounter them in the feywild (where they originate) they're typically CN tricksters and not overtly malicious.

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I tend to go viking with my orcs. Most of the time they are running farms (Gruumish was originally an agricultural god), and if you encountered an orc farm or an orc town, the orcs there are pretty much the same as any other humanoid. The orc lands are not rich in mineral wealth, so they go viking to get resources from distant lands. This is where most other peoples (including adventurers) encounter them, and the reason they tend to have a bad reputation.

Gruumish isn't the only god (I don't do racial gods) for the orcs, but he is the most popular one (Yolanda is actually the second most popular god to orcs). In my setting gods are not interested in souls, but in getting people to act or believe a certain way. Gruumish is the god of emotional toughness (helpful if you have to turn Bessie the cow into dinner; and yes, orcs name all their livestock). He has become convinced that there is a final war between law and chaos (you are respectable in a Gruumish-influenced society by showing emotional toughness; he is LN god), and he has reluctantly encouraged the viking behavior to help orcs become better soldiers in that war and to engage in emotional toughness by being ruthless in combat.


I wanted to emphasize their more porcine origins, so all the orcs that most people picture as Orcs actually have some degree of human decent to them.

Pureblood Orcs are thematically more likely Minotaurs only with boars and pigs.

My take on Orcs unabashedly steals from multiple sources. They grow like Mushrooms deep in caves in the world, they develop to maturity very rapidly, and they have very keen improvisational skills as far as weapons and warfare. They have minimal language and culture to speak of, but all of them share being bound to their diety, and constantly hearing the incessant pounding of war drums in their heads, a ceaseless drive to combat and warfare and death, for their foes and for themselves. They'll fight amongst themselves if they lack enemies to combat, but mostly they fight the dwarves. The dwarves slay many, but there's always more crawling out to fight, like an infection in the world that never stops oozing.


I’m still figuring it out, but at present I perceive the orcs of my setting as the “shonen rivals” to the main civilizations. There was a split between them that neither side completely forgave the other for, and as a result they come to blows a lot. But they respect each other, and have each other’s back when the Void (the shadowfell, lower planes, and negative energy plane glommed into one) comes knocking.


Orcs be orcing. Green, tusked, muscles.

They've a pretty okay reputation around the main area of my world as a big part of the collapse of the "Local hobgoblin empire attempts to take over nearby countries and eventually the world" was that said hobgoblin empire decided to attack the orcish fortress of the Ash Forge. Orcs didn't take kindly to this and made their displeasure very known by militarising and destroying the initial armies sent to try and invade.

Nowerdays they're a lot more chill given people aren't trying to break into their home and steal their stuff. Dwarves aren't the biggest fans of them given the Ash Forge is about the only surface civilisation capable of competing with dwarven weaponry, and the two prefering to live in similar conditions means frequent run in with the other.


Follower of the Way
Mine aren't much different, but I take the Zakhara approach: very few sapient, material-native beings have any kind of innate alignment.

Orcs are more common amongst the nomad tribes than they are amongst the city folk, but they're far from a rare sight in cities. Often, tribal warriors (human, orc, half-orc, elf, half-elf, whatever race they might be) will earn money or resources for their tribe by doing mercenary work; there are usually encampments outside the city (and agencies inside it) that facilitate such work, for the right price.

They're known for being hardy and resilient, but sometimes a bit hidebound. They look much like World of Warcraft orcs physically, though they don't have a stoop. Skin tones range from mostly brown/brownish-red to green to pale (though the palest orcs are generally still more pigmented than the palest humans.) Hair color is largely the same as human, though greenish tones are also possible. Similar lifespan and development time to humans. They can handle the desert heat better than humans though, which might go part of the way toward explaining why they're more common among the nomads (or, perhaps better phrased, why humans were more likely to shift away from nomadic life and toward city-dwelling life.)

Orcs generally have a reputation for being reliable warriors, albeit ones who distrust city-dweller employers and thus tend to stick to the letter, rather than the spirit, of any deals they make. Those who dwell in the cities do occasionally deal with some prejudice, but it tends to be more in the sense of presuming an orc is a nomad rather than specifically orcish things (e.g., nomads generally have only limited literacy, unless they're specifically elders or folks relied upon to deal with outsiders.)
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Lost in Dark Sun
Since I’m currently building a homebrew setting, here are four things about orcs in said setting:

1. They are a matriarchal society. Look, I realize Volo’s has problems, but the one part of said book I really, really liked was the implication that orcs are secretly matriarchal.

2. What angels are for humans and azers are for dwarves, echidnas* are for orcs.

3. Where dwarf societies tend to be one or two technological steps ahead of human ones, orcs tend to be one or two steps behind humans. This tends to get them viewed as “noble savages” by the more arrogant human nations.

4. An orc gently rubbing its tusks against your face is the romantic equivalent of a human kissing you on the mouth.

*basically god-aligned Dark Wombs from the Scarred Lands setting.

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