My orcs are pretty much straight from Dungeon Meshi. Mesomorphic pig-nosed people with a history of conflict with the Common Folk, largely driven out of most habitable territory aboveground by these conflicts.
oooouuuuhh...I like those. They are somewhat like the goblinoids from Legend of Zelda and the Seeq from the Ivalice world of Final Fantasy.My orcs are pretty much straight from Dungeon Meshi. Mesomorphic pig-nosed people with a history of conflict with the Common Folk, largely driven out of most habitable territory aboveground by these conflicts.
I really don't go in for the Gruumsh-style Orcs, and instead tend to go for Orcs much more in the vein of how the Elder Scrolls video games deals with them. They're a part of the world, and while many of them live in their own settlements and they have their own culture, plenty of them also live among humans and other peoples.
It has taken a long, long time for me to get comfortable with chaotic orcs as I played 1E extensively. Now I run mostly to types of Orcs CE orcs that are the "standard" for 5e and other LE soldier type Orcs that can be found in many mercenary groups.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?
Jack Daniel said:Because there are so many different things that come to mind nowadays when one says "orc," I actually mostly avoid the term in my games. What are orcs, anyway? Are they Tolkien's goblins? Warcraft's cool green people? The "spectre, wight, or hell-devil" that haunted the Anglo-Saxons?
I use all three.
For the original, mythical orcne (demon-corpse) of Dark Ages mythology, I use the thoul stats and call them draugr (although elves will still refer to them as orcneas). These are the creepy-ass shadow-monsters that haunt the misty, boggy places where you'd expect Grendel to stalk off the moors in the dead of night, sneak into your mead-hall, eat all your thanes, and murder all your athelings. Not something a 1st level party wants to run into in the dark, let me tell you.
For Tolkien's yrch, I actually ditched the concept of goblinoids altogether and replaced them with Chaos-spawned beastmen. So my campaigns have ratlike humanoids called skavers instead of kobolds, doglike humanoids called mogrels in place of goblins, piglike humanoids called gruuchs in place of orcs, etc. They're all brutish, violent, disgusting, semi-intelligent (lacking tool-use or language and barely smarter than animals if there isn't a demon-prince or a Dark Lord around to drive them with its evil will and organize them into a Chaos army), and mostly just irredeemable little sacks of bonus XP.
For the Orsimer of videogameland, I make them one of my standard playable demihumans (they get their own character class!), but I term them ogres instead of orcs. (This is etymologically tenable: the Old English word orc almost certainly shares the same root as the Latinate word ogre, namely Latin Orcus.) This does require that I shuffle some monsters around a little bit: the 4+1 HD monster becomes a troll and the 6+3 HD monster becomes a greater troll. These ogres might be savages (noble or otherwise), soldiers, or city-folk, but they're always lean, green, and at least a little bit mean (in an endearing sort of way). They take more inspiration from Elder Scrolls than Warcraft, because… I don't care to play Warcraft, World of or otherwise.
Peaceful coexistence with orcs is not possible. While individual orcs can be friendly with other races, their natural instinct is to conquer and pillage, and that is what Orc societies will do unless they're ruled by an outside power.