Often fierce and savage, sometimes noble and resolute, half-orcs can manifest the best and worst qualities of their parent races. Many half-orcs struggle to keep their more bestial natures in check in order to epitomize the most heroic values of humanity. Unfortunately, many outsiders see half-orcs as hopeless abominations devoid of civility, if not monsters unworthy of pity or parley.
Half-orcs average around 6 feet tall, with powerful builds and greenish or grayish skin. Their canine teeth often grow long enough to protrude from their mouths, and these “tusks,” combined with heavy brows and slightly pointed ears, give them their notoriously bestial appearance. While half-orcs may be impressive, few ever describe them as beautiful. Despite these obvious orc traits, half-orcs are as varied as their human parents.
Half-orcs are rarely the result of loving unions, and as such are usually forced to grow up hard and fast, constantly fighting for protection or to make names for themselves. Half-orcs as a whole resent this treatment, and rather than play the part of the victim, they tend to lash out, unknowingly confirming the biases of those around them. A few feared, distrusted, and spat-upon half-orcs manage to surprise their detractors with great deeds and unexpected wisdom—though sometimes it’s easier just to crack a few skulls. Some half-orcs spend their entire lives proving to full-blooded orcs that they are just as fierce. Others opt for trying to blend into human society, constantly demonstrating that they aren’t monsters. Their need to always prove themselves worthy encourages half-orcs to strive for power and greatness within the society around them. Unlike half-elves, where at least part of society’s discrimination is born out of jealousy or attraction, half-orcs get the worst of both worlds: physically weaker than their orc kin, they also tend to be feared or attacked outright by humans who don’t bother making the distinction between full orcs and halfbloods. Even on the best of terms, half-orcs in civilized societies are not exactly accepted, and tend to be valued only for their physical abilities. On the other hand, orc leaders have been known to deliberately spawn half-orcs, as the halfbreeds make up for their lack of physical strength with increased cunning and aggression, making them natural leaders and strategic advisors.
However there are occasional areas where a civilized orc engages in a relationship with another mortal. In these consensual pairings, the children are often treated like any other human child if not better at times. One example of such a pairing is the well known traveller, “Handsome” Horace Goldblood.
Tanarukks are orcs whose blood has been tainted by an evil outsider, most commonly a Tanar’ri demon. They appear as short, stocky orcs with bristly hair, horns, or ridges along the sides of their heads. Tanarukks also have the distinctive smell of brimstone about them and in fact have a limited ability to manipulate fire. Tanaruuk are also a variation of Tiefling.
Some half-orcs are descended from clans that remained in the eternal darkness below the surface known as Orog. Half-orcs from these clans tend to be smaller and more at home underground than those descended from surface-dwelling orcs. These half-orcs hold greater darkvision.