If you’re looking for a DnD Half-orc 5e race guide, you’ve come to the right place. Though this race may appear brutal and straightforward at first glance, scratch the surface and you’ll find they’re anything but. Though it can be great fun to play a more traditional Half-orc warrior hefting the very bulkiest of DnD weapons, you can also bring real subtlety and nuance to a Half-orc Dungeons and Dragons character, if you so choose.
Our guide will tell you everything you need to know about Half-orc 5e lore, as well as how to build a Half-orc character that suits you. We’ve also included some roleplaying tips to help you flesh out your new DnD character build, and really get the most out of them. Whether you’re playing a fearsome Fighter, a cunning Wizard or a steadfast Paladin, we’ll help you build ‘em right!
Thanks to recent changes to racial stat bonuses, Half-orcs are no longer pigeonholed into certain classes and roles. However, some Dungeon Masters (DMs) still like to use the old stat system. Before we start with any of that, though, let’s first look at the lore behind the Half-orcs.
Who are DnD Half-orcs?
You’d be forgiven for not knowing exactly how DnD’s Half-orcs came to be. Though the specifics vary across different DnD settings, the broad strokes are usually the same. More often than not, they’re the product of human and orc societies. As different groups of Humans and Orcs have made peace, this has led to trade, friendship, and even romance blossoming between their different peoples, resulting in the proud half-orcs who embody many of the aspects of their dual heritage.
Half-orcs are traditionally connected to Gruumsh, the one-eyed DnD god of war and fury created by the very first Orcs. Like their full-orc ancestors, half-orcs can also have this connection, enjoying a unique elation when they engage in combat. Because of this connection, many Half-orcs feel their emotions deeply. This can be an excuse for great roleplay, but more on that later.
Half-orc 5e stats – building your character
|Ability Score bonus||+2 STR, +1 CON|
Relentless Endurance: When you’re reduced to zero hit points but not killed, revert to one HP instead (once per Long Rest)
Savage Attacks: When you score a critical hit with a melee attack, roll one extra damage die and add it to your overall damage
If you’re using the system from the original Player’s Guide, rather than the updated, race-agnostic system from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, you’ll need to know exactly what Half-orcs have going for them.
First off, Half-orcs get to increase their Strength score by two and their Constitution score by one. This makes Half-orcs great Fighters, Barbarians, and Paladins right from the get go. They’re about as fast as you’d expect from a humanoid, having a base walking speed of 30 feet, but they also get a host of additional benefits. As well as being able to see in the dark with their Darkvision feature, half-orcs also gain proficiency in Intimidation, which can be excellent both for bruisers and more socially-oriented characters.
On top of this, they also enjoy the Relentless Endurance and Savage Attacks features. The former is useful for any kind of character and ensures that, when you’re reduced to zero hit points, instead of starting your death saves, you drop to one HP, meaning you’re extra hard to take out of the fight. This feature only works once per long rest, though, so be careful.
Savage Attacks is seriously strong, but only melee characters get the most out of it. Whenever a character with this feature scores a critical hit, they can add one extra weapon damage dice to the attack’s total damage. Combine this with the Champion Fighter subclass and you’ll be dishing out powerful crits with alarming regularity.
Lastly, Half-orcs can speak, read and write Common and Orc – a by-product of their dual heritage.
Roleplaying as a Half-orc
The extent to which you lean into your Half-orc’s Human or Orc ancestry is up to you. Perhaps your character is conflicted about their dissonant cultural roots, or maybe they’re at peace with their homeland and have a more multicultural, cosmopolitan outlook.
Thanks to Tasha’s Cauldron and the new guidelines for One D&D, you no longer have to take the Ability Scores prescribed by the DnD 5e Player’s Handbook. Though features like Darkvision and Relentless Endurance are an iconic part of the DnD Half-orc experience, there’s no reason you can’t mix and match to build a character more to your liking.
Though the traditional Half-orc archetypes can be great fun, modern DnD means more modern takes on all of the different races: half-orcs included. You could play a Half-orc Wizard on a quest for knowledge, or a sneaky and suave half-orc Rogue. Be sure to chat to your DM to see how Half-orcs fit into their game, but don’t be afraid to get creative, either.
Remember, the many (many) DnD sourcebooks can be a great springboard, leading to all sorts of interesting characters and scenarios. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope when playing your Half-orc. The worlds and cities of DnD are full of a diverse range of weird and wonderful characters, and why should your Half-orc be any different?
Still, if Half-orcs are simply too big and muscly for your taste, you could try an Elf, Half-elf, or Halfling on for size instead?