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Orcs are forged in the fires of violence and conflict, often from the moment they are born.

As they live lives that are frequently cut brutally short, orcs revel in testing their strength against worthy foes, whether by challenging a higher-ranking member of their community for dominance or raiding a neighboring settlement. Many orcs seek glory as soon as they can walk and carry a blade or club, taming wild beasts or hunting deadly monsters.

Orcs often struggle to gain acceptance among other communities, who frequently see them as brutes. Those who earn the loyalty of an orc friend, however, soon learn that an orc’s fidelity and honesty are unparalleled. Orc barbarians, fighters, and rangers are prized as gladiators and mercenaries. While some human settlements might be hesitant to accept an entire orc community into their midst, a small handful of orc mercenaries can do the job of an entire squad of human conscripts, so long as the orcs are well fed and well paid. Though the belief that orcs are only suited for battle is pervasive among other humanoids, the harsh orc mentality comes from a long history of conflict rather than a lack of ability in other areas.

Orc culture teaches that they are shaped by the challenges they survive, and the most worthy survive the most hardships. Orcs who attain both a long life and great triumphs command immense respect.

If you want a character who is hardy, fearsome, and excels at feats of physical prowess, you should play an orc.

You might…

  • Eagerly meet any chance to prove your strength in a physical contest.
  • Believe that lies and treachery are for those who lack the strength to seize what they want.
  • View dying in glorious combat as preferable to a mundane death from old age or illness.

Others Probably…

  • See you as violent or lacking in discipline.
  • Underestimate your intellect, cunning, and knowledge.
  • Admire your forthrightness and blunt honesty.

Physical Description

Orcs are tall and powerfully built, with long arms and stocky legs. Many orcs top 7 feet in height, though they tend to adopt broad, almost bow-legged stances and slouch forward at the shoulders. The combination makes for a seeming contradiction, sharing an eye level with most humanoids while simultaneously towering over them. Orcs have rough skin, thick bones, and rockhard muscles, making them suited to war and other physically demanding tasks. Despite the roughness of their skin, orcs scar easily, and most orcs take great pride in the scars they have accumulated. Orc skin color is typically green and occasionally gray, though some orcs have other skin colors that reflect adaptations to their environments.

Orcs consider powerful builds and heavily scarred skin attractive, regardless of gender. A powerful orc makes the hold stronger, and scars are signs of victories won or hardships survived.

Similarly, many orcs consider large, jutting tusks to be more attractive than smaller tusks, since the former make more effective weapons. Many orcs also find tattoos to be attractive, particularly large or painful ones that cover a significant amount of skin.

Rarity Uncommon

Hit Points 10

Size Medium

Speed 25 feet

Ability Boosts Strength, Free

Languages Common, Orcish; Additional languages equal to your Intelligence modifier (if it’s positive). Choose from Goblin, Jotun, Terran, Undercommon, and any other languages to which you have access (such as the languages prevalent in your region)..

Traits Orc Humanoid

Darkvision You have Darkvision. You can see in darkness and dim light just as well as you can see in bright light, though your vision in darkness is in black and white.


Most orc communities define themselves through two things: pain and glory.

Each earns respect in near equal measure, so long as the pain is borne with stoicism. An orc with many scars who walks uncomplaining with a broken leg draws as much admiration as one who wins a great victory on the battlefield.

Power in an orc hold comes from strength or family lineage. The structure tends to be feudal, with weaker orcs working at the behest of the strong. One mighty orc dying in battle can shake up an entire power structure, leading to squabbling and duels to decide control. Many orcs who tire of being subservient split off to form their own warbands, traveling to new territory.

Young orcs are typically raised by the entire community. Indeed, it would be almost impossible for orcs to raise their young any other way, since twins, triplets, and even quadruplets are quite common in orc families, as are deaths among orcs in their child-rearing years. Many orc holds conduct ceremonies when a young orc comes of age, typically around their tenth or eleventh birthday, during which the new adults are told what their role in the hold will be. For communities that practice ritual scarification or tattooing, this is often when the young orcs receive their first hold-scar or tattoo as well.

Orcs fear very little, but most distrust magic. Magic is seen as a tool that bypasses the physical and allows the weak to contend with the strong, a belief that runs at odds with orc values. While they respect the physical might of some warpriests, and even druids who take on the forms of great beasts, they find arcane and occult magic questionable at best and unethical on the whole. All but the most depraved orc communities see necromancy as a foul art that steals glory from the dead, and their growing struggles against the undead have given them newfound common ground with their humanoid neighbors.

Alignment and Religion

A common orc saying is, “You are the scars that shape you.” Violent, chaotic lives in violent, chaotic lands mean that most orcs tend heavily toward chaotic alignments. Less violent clans worship nature deities, whose tenets of fire, redemption, and glory all hold some appeal to orc sensibilities.

While there are orc deities, their worship is surprisingly uncommon among orcs. Orcs believe that if a creature has a face and a name, it can be killed, and so their own deities are targets, rather than objects of reverence. Some orc holds teach that the greatest members of the hold can earn a chance to challenge the orc deities for a place amid the pantheon. Most orcs don’t waste their dying moments praising the divine or praying for a place in the afterlife, but spitting a blood-flecked warning at their deities, promising a new challenger through broken teeth.


Orcs have a harsh, guttural language, and their naming conventions are no exception. Many orc names are simply the Orcish word for a particularly desirable trait, such as great strength, height, or ferocity. Orcs commonly use either their hold name or a name referencing a particularly memorable accomplishment as their surname.

Sample Names Arkus, Ausk, Durra, Grask, Grillgiss, Krugga, Mahja, Murdut, Ollak, Onyat, Thurk, Uirch, Unach

Orc Heritages

Orcs have a long history on the surface of the world, and a far longer history underground. Their hardy physiques and demanding lifestyles have led to various adaptations. Choose one of the following orc heritages at 1st level.

Badlands Orc

You come from sun-scorched badlands, where long legs and an ability to withstand the elements helped you thrive. You can Hustle twice as long while exploring before you have to stop, and you treat environmental heat effects as if they were one step less extreme (incredible heat becomes extreme, extreme heat becomes severe, and so on).

Deep Orc

Your calloused hands and red eyes speak to a life spent in the deep darkness of mountain caverns, where you learned to battle on rocky cliffs and survive with minimal resources. You gain the Terrain Expertise skill feat for underground terrain and the Combat Climber skill feat.

Hold-Scarred Orc

You are part of an orc community that participates in ritual scarification or tattooing. The marks on your skin show your exceptional hardiness and vitality. You gain 12 Hit Points from your ancestry instead of 10. You also gain the Diehard feat.

Rainfall Orc

You were born in a rain forest with only tangles of trees providing protection from torrential rainstorms and flash floods. You’ve learned to move adeptly through jungle terrain and resist the various ailments common in humid environs. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus to Athletics checks to Climb or Swim and a +1 circumstance bonus to saving throws against diseases.

Orc Ancestry Feats

At 1st level, you gain one ancestry feat, and you gain an additional ancestry feat every 4 levels thereafter (at 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th level). As an orc, you can select from among the following ancestry feats, plus the feats with the orc trait listed in the Half-Orc Ancestry Feats.

1st Level

Beast Trainer Feat 1


You have an impressive innate ability to tame and command ferocious beasts. You become trained in the Nature skill and gain the Train Animal skill feat.

Iron Fists Feat 1


Your fists have been forged by battle, your naturally tough skin and dense bone further hardened by conflict. Your fist unarmed attacks no longer have the nonlethal trait and gain the shove weapon trait.

Orc Lore Feat 1


The hold elders taught you your people’s histories, told tales of great athletic feats, and shared with you the hardships your ancestors endured so that you can pass this wisdom down to future generations. You become trained in Athletics and Survival. If you would automatically become trained in one of those skills (from your background or class, for example), you instead become trained in a skill of your choice. You also become trained in Orc Lore.

Tusks Feat 1


You have particularly long, jagged tusks perfect for tearing meat from bone. You gain a tusks unarmed attack that deals 1d6 piercing damage. Your tusks are in the brawling group and have the finesse and unarmed traits.

Special You can take this feat only at 1st level, and you can’t retrain into this feat. You can retrain out of this feat only through drastic measures such as breaking or filing your tusks.

5th Level

Athletic Might Feat 5


Surviving in hostile terrain has given you a great talent for mobility. Whenever you roll a success on an Athletics check to Climb or Swim, you get a critical success instead.

Bloody Blows Feat 5


Your lethal unarmed attacks leave bloody gouges or cause severe internal bleeding. When you critically hit with a Strike using an unarmed attack that isn’t nonlethal, the target takes 1d4 persistent bleed damage. This can be because you’re taking the penalty to use a fist for a lethal attack or because you have an unarmed attack without the nonlethal trait due to Iron Fists, Tusks, or a similar ability.

Hold Mark Feat 5


You bear scars or tattoos enhanced by the mark of your community’s prowess. When you select this feat, choose one of the options. When you critically hit using a weapon of the listed group, you apply the weapon’s critical specialization effect. You gain a large brand or tattoo in the shape of the chosen emblem or a similar image (for example, the axe could be a bear or other symbol of ferocious strength, while the shield might be a turtle or another symbol associated with a strong defense) and gain the listed benefit.

  • Axe axe or pick
  • Shield hammer or shield
  • Torch bomb or knife


An orc’s drive to overcome challenges and prove themself spurs many orcs to become adventurers, though orcs are more likely to set out on their own or with other orcs than alongside adventurers of other ancestries.

Common orc backgrounds include bandit, gladiator, hunter, martial disciple, nomad, outrider, refugee or warrior. Orcs thrive in martial classes like barbarian and fighter.

9th Level

Death’s Drums Feat 9


Your life has been spent challenging death itself, and proximity to that implacable foe only makes your heart beat harder. When you are taking persistent damage or your wounded value is 1 or greater, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus to Fortitude saving throws.

Undying Ferocity Feat 9


Prerequisite(s) Orc Ferocity

You resist death’s clutches with supernatural vigor. When you use Orc Ferocity, you gain temporary Hit Points equal to your level.

13th Level

Ferocious Beasts Feat 13


Prerequisite(s) Beast Trainer or animal companion, Orc Ferocity

Since ancient times, the mightiest orc beast tamers would draw out the true fighting spirit of their companion beasts by feeding the creatures a draft incorporating the orc’s own blood. Animal companions or bonded animals you have gain the Orc Ferocity feat, and they gain a reaction they can use only for Orc Ferocity. If you have the Undying Ferocity ancestry feat, all animal companions or bonded animals you have also gain the benefits of that feat when using the Orc Ferocity reaction.

Spell Devourer Feat 13


Prerequisite(s) Pervasive Superstition

You don’t just resist magic; you devour it. Whenever you succeed at a saving throw against a spell or magical effect, you gain temporary Hit Points equal to double the spell’s level, or equal to the level if the magical effect isn’t a spell. These temporary Hit Points last until the end of your next turn.

17th Level

Rampaging Ferocity [free-action] Feat 17


Prerequisite(s) Orc Ferocity

Trigger You use Orc Ferocity.

You lash out viciously even as you fend off death. Make a single melee Strike. If this Strike brings a foe to 0 Hit Points, this activation of Orc Ferocity doesn’t count against its frequency.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide © 2020, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Amirali Attar Olyaee, Alexander Augunas, Kate Baker, Brian Bauman, Logan Bonner, Carlos Cabrera, James Case, Jessica Catalan, John Compton, Paris Crenshaw, Jesse Decker, Fabby Garza Marroquín, Steven Hammond, Sasha Laranoa Harving, Joan Hong, Nicolas Hornyak, Vanessa Hoskins, James Jacobs, Erik Keith, Lyz Liddell, Luis Loza, Ron Lundeen, Patchen Mortimer, Dennis Muldoon, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Jessica Redekop, Mikhail Rekun, Alex Riggs, David N. Ross, Michael Sayre, Mark Seifter, Kendra Leigh Speedling, Jason Tondro, Clark Valentine, and Andrew White.