Whether united under the leadership of a mighty warlock or having fought to a standstill after years of conflict, orc and human tribes sometimes form alliances, joining forces into a larger horde to the terror of civilized lands nearby. When these alliances are sealed by marriages, half-orcs are born. Some half-orcs rise to become proud chiefs of orc tribes, their human blood giving them an edge over their full-blooded orc rivals. Some venture into the world to prove their worth among humans and other civilized races. Many of these become adventurers, achieving greatness for their mighty deeds and notoriety for their barbaric customs and savage fury.
Half-orcs’ grayish pigmentation, sloping foreheads, jutting jaws, prominent teeth, and towering builds make their orcish heritage plain for all to see. Half-orcs stand between 6 and 7 feet tall and usually weigh between 180 and 250 pounds.
Orcs regard battle scars as tokens or pride and ornamental scars as things of beauty. Other scars, though, mark an Orc, or half-orc as a former slave or a disgraced exile. Any half-orc who has lived among or near orcs has scars, whether they are marks of humiliation or of pride, recounting their past exploits and injuries. Such a half-orc living among humans might display these scars proudly or hide them in shame.
The one-eyed god Gruumsh created the Orcs, and even those orcs who turn away from his worship can’t fully escape his influence. The same is true of half orcs, though their human blood moderates the impact of their orcish heritage. Some half-orcs hear the whispers of Grummsh in their dreams, calling them to unleash the rage that simmers within them. Others feel Gruumsh’s exultation when they join in melee combat-and either exult along with him or shiver with fear and loathing. Half-orcs are not evil by nature, but evil does lurk within them, whether they embrace it or rebel against it.
Beyond the rage of Gruumsh, half-orcs feel emotion powerfully. Rage doesn’t just quicken their pulse, it makes their bodies burn. An insult stings like acid, and sadness saps their strength. But they laugh loudly and heartily, and simple bodily pleasures-feasting, drinking, wrestling, drumming, and wild dancing-fill their hearts with joy. They tend to be short tempered and sometimes sullen, more inclined to action than contemplation and to fighting than arguing. The most accomplished half-orcs are those with enough self control to get by in a civilized land.
Each half-orc finds a way to gain acceptance from those who hate orcs. Some are reserved, trying not to draw attention to themselves. A few demonstrate piety and good-heartedness as publicly as they can (whether or not such demonstrations are genuine). And some simply try to be so tough that others just avoid them.