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D&D General What have you done with Orcs in your games?

Voadam

Legend
So there are a lot of options for portraying Orcs in D&D games, from Gruumsh touched 5e default ones, to Eberron druid history ones, to the alignment splits of 3e and on Chaotic Evil, AD&D Lawful Evil ones, and Basic Chaotic Orcs. Outside of D&D there are 40K fungi biologic weapons, Warcraft Orcs, Lord of the Rings Orcs, Shadowrun style metahuman Orks, and others that can be taken as inspiration.

What have you done with them in your games?
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Nothing other than that they originate from Jotunheim (home of the giants). I rarely use them.
 

HJFudge

Explorer
So there are a lot of options for portraying Orcs in D&D games, from Gruumsh touched 5e default ones, to Eberron druid history ones, to the alignment splits of 3e and on Chaotic Evil, AD&D Lawful Evil ones, and Basic Chaotic Orcs. Outside of D&D there are 40K fungi biologic weapons, Warcraft Orcs, Lord of the Rings Orcs, Shadowrun style metahuman Orks, and others that can be taken as inspiration.

What have you done with them in your games?

I've done them a few ways.

When I was younger I did the 'from another world' way, where they came over with the Elves to flee a dying world that both sides had reduced to inhabitable, and the basic campaign idea was that the Elves arrived first and portrayed themselves as victims, but the Orcs were actually the ones attacked first and the slow reveal of that, of the party at first treating the orcs as 'KOS enemy' to learning as they go that it wasn't exactly so black and white as the Elves originally said it was made for an interesting tale.

I've done non-sentient monsters, victims of a curse basically that took away their reasoning and left nothing but violent rage (think Reavers from Firefly/Serenity).

Currently, I don't run them at all in my campaign.
 


Voadam

Legend
In one Freeport Game the party tussled with an Orc pirate captain in the city and so he kept recruiting new crews of immigrant orcs to go after the party.

I made a point of having each new wave have a distinctive patron god war cry.

First one was Gruumsh! One-Eye sees all! We found you, Gruumsh!

The second one was Blood for the Blood God! Odin!

Third was Souls for the Death God! Vecna!

The fourth was planned out as Evil-Eye! Balor!

I didn't get Blood and Thunder! Talos look upon these souls we slay in your honor!

Or to any cyclops ones.

It was a fun way to tie in the multicultural aspect of the world, Freeport being an international hub, orcs being used as cheap labor and muscle as a thing in the city, different orcs being different, but also have it go with an identifiable theme for orcs.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I a future game, I'll try to make the Orc (from Orruk, meaning ''the people'' in their language) more of a way of life akin to the Qunari from Dragon Age.
  • You are not an Orc, you are Ork, meaning you can be from any origin and still identify as Ork if you follow the harsh set of rules and precepts of their belief.
  • They live highly regimented and organized lives, where each member has a role in the society, chosen for them at a young age by the Maidens of Luthic who raise all children commonly. They do not make difference between men or women; the only important is the role you have to further the advance of the Orruk.
  • They keep to themselves most of the them until they are asked by a superior to venture in the lands of other humanoids. The Ork people often tries to conquer the lands of the men, elves and dwarves that they see as decadent, lazy and chaotic, to bring them the way of the Ork so they can live more efficient lives.
  • Their long tradition of waging wars allowed them to develop highly advanced form of medicine, weaponry, architecture and other sciences, but they are really reluctant in sharing them, seeing it as the property of the Orruk.
 

I have a second group that decided Gruumsh isn't all that great and have since turned to following the druidic religion. They're more herders/foragers than raiders, but they still can fight. And the Gruumshians are still out there and still a problem for everyone else (including the "heretics.")
 


So there are a lot of options for portraying Orcs in D&D games, from Gruumsh touched 5e default ones, to Eberron druid history ones, to the alignment splits of 3e and on Chaotic Evil, AD&D Lawful Evil ones, and Basic Chaotic Orcs. Outside of D&D there are 40K fungi biologic weapons, Warcraft Orcs, Lord of the Rings Orcs, Shadowrun style metahuman Orks, and others that can be taken as inspiration.

What have you done with them in your games?
My home game has no orcs. It does have the variety of goblins, all reskinned into an intelligent smogpunk empire that was once myth and has returned to the land. None suffer penalties and like all of the peoples (playable races) they have free will, no general alignment, and run the gamut of personalities and identities.
 

There are orcs living in the massive cosmopolitan city that is the centerpoint of my homebrew, Hiir. They're just one part of the wondrous tapestry of the city. The PCs have even gone to an orcish restaurant on a few occasions. They've come into conflict with them, too, but never just because they were orcs.
 

cbwjm

Hero
The players have mostly killed them, though now they have an alliance with the remaining tribe members (about a third of the orc warriors left to join the horde) to fight against a horde of ogres, goblins, orcs, gnolls, and hobgoblins, moving to attack the party's hometown. I still only have a rough idea of how I'm going to run the battle.
 

Scribe

Hero
Mine rule over the most prosperous kingdom in the north.

It's a home for all Goblinoids, powerful, trades with its neighbors. It's people are fit, healthy, and content.

They worship Gruumsh, see themselves as superior to any other people's, and have a a simmering state of war with Elves, and Dwarves going back as long as even the Dragons can remember.

Allied with a nation of thinking Undead (LN leaning E) ruled by a council of 5 Liches.

Neutral with some Human Kingdoms that are a buffer state between the Elves and Orc borders.

Firmly in the Lawful, and Evil, alignments, but 'Evil' is not Chaotic Stupid, in my setting, and even the Paladins can fall under the Evil designation, without being fiends or idiots.
 

Sakuglak

Villager
So I tweaked Orcs into a sentient plant race that is at home in the woods. They get a wisdom bonus and will sometimes adopt foreign children or trade their kids with other cultures to form a societal bond with them. The idea being that they spread their philosophy and also get introduced to new ideas when these children return to then as adults.
 

Stormonu

Legend
In my original home brew, Amberos, the goblinoids and elves came from the dreamlands. Elves were daydreams, the goblinoids were borne of dark, unfulfilled desires and nightmares - but they had bodies as beautiful as the elves.

The goblinoids had powerful magic like the elves, but they used it for their own benefit. They were approached by the goddess Ziga,(an orphan half-elf who had ascended when her mortal adopted parents achieved godhood). Ziga felt she had been mistreated by elves when she was mortal, and ignored by them when she became immortal, and plotted with the goblinoids against the elves.

However, in the end the goblinoids betrayed her to increase their own power, and the entire plot fell apart. Ziga cursed the goblinoids so their twisted hearts would manifest in the flesh, and stole away their magic for breaking their pact with her, though the goblinoids would eventually find an alternate path to once again use magic. Ziga is likewise the great matron of the drow on Amberos as well.

You can play as an orc if you want to, trying to escape Ziga’s curse or ignoring it reveling in your selfishness, but they’re mostly there for PCs to kill. Non-evil orcs are a singular rarity at best.
 

Faolyn

Hero
I have orcs but no goblinoids, and orcs are just another people (I typically go for few or no monstrous NPC humanoids). I declared their alignment "neutral boisterous".
 

Ace

Adventurer
So there are a lot of options for portraying Orcs in D&D games, from Gruumsh touched 5e default ones, to Eberron druid history ones, to the alignment splits of 3e and on Chaotic Evil, AD&D Lawful Evil ones, and Basic Chaotic Orcs. Outside of D&D there are 40K fungi biologic weapons, Warcraft Orcs, Lord of the Rings Orcs, Shadowrun style metahuman Orks, and others that can be taken as inspiration.

What have you done with them in your games?

Depends on the game world.

One type are essentially Scro from Spelljammer though they hail from Mars. These scared my players but good. There are no half orcs in this setting but there are beast men who serve a similar role.

Another kind are just big mean Goblins ala Tolkien. There are Goblin Blooded men too. Both are people though few Orcs ever achieve goodness since they are ageless and in that setting the ageless people typically lack the drive to morality.

The 3rd are literal soulless (they have a demonic spirit but no capacity for moral reason) creations of the Fallen One made in mockery of the Kindreds (the ensouled folks) Half Orcs are just people like anyone else. Tend to nasty. Also note that the True Religion is well aware that they are Kindred. The Commune Spell was actually used to find out. Tryingh to assume that Half Orcs lack a soul is actual heresy.

The last are just people with a reputation as barbarians more like humans than any other species. Human/Orc pairings are fairly rare though it isn't unknown and there is even occasional marriage.
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
Rarely used generally the Gruumsh variety though. They do fall on the nuture not nature side of things though so the old orc baby moral thing falls into that.

I normally put more effort into Hobgoblins who fall more into LE/LN side of things generally more Spartan or Prussian types.
 

werecorpse

Adventurer
In my current Greyhawk they are pretty basic 5e Gruumsh touched orcs. The lands to the south of the main campaign area are orc dominated lands where most tribes hate each other and they battle amongst themselves and seasonally raid the main campaign area. The threat of an alliance arising is a threat to the campaign area. An orcus worshipping tribe did manage to create a strong enough alliance that lasted about a year in game time and lead an army to sack one and siege another large town in one of the campaign story arcs. The party got involved in the siege and in undermining their alliances including disrupting an alliance with some dragons and escorting a bribe to a rival orc tribe to create trouble at home. In the current story arc the party is following a “treasure map” and are about to find out it leads them through the outskirts of the orc lands.
 

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