Pathfinder Player Companion: Orcs of Golarion (PFRPG)

****½ (based on 7 ratings)
Pathfinder Player Companion: Orcs of Golarion (PFRPG)
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Feel the blood spray and bones crunch as the bestial children of the Darklands come roaring across the landscape, leaving only carnage and lamentation in their wake! Orcs are some of the oldest enemies of civilization, their howling hordes beaten back time and again by the forces of light. Yet in addition to being depraved raiders, orcs are also a civilization unto themselves, with a war-torn history stretching back before the Age of Darkness. In Orcs of Golarion, learn everything you need to know about playing (or vanquishing) one of these savage warriors, as well as the outcast half-orc spawn who straddle the line between the worlds of order and chaos.

    This Pathfinder Player Companion includes:
  • Details on the orcs of Golarion—their brutish lifestyles, physical qualities, cultural norms and gender roles, governance of warbands, relationship with slavery, and more.
  • A history of the orc race, from their desperate flight during the dwarves’ legendary Quest for Sky to their dominance during the Age of Darkness and subsequent fall from power.
  • An overview of major orc tribes and settlements, such as the Empty Hand tribe in the fallen dwarven stronghold of Urgir and the maddened oracles of the Brimstone Haruspex.
  • Orc tribal magic, including the shamanistic worship of the mysterious Blood God and the arcane witch doctors who rule through fear and firepower.
  • Information on half-orcs and their unique roles in human and orc society.
  • New traits to customize orc and half-orc characters.
  • Orc warbeasts, banners and symbols, ritual scarring and tattoos, and more!

This player-friendly Pathfinder Player Companion works best with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game or the 3.5 version of the world’s oldest fantasy roleplaying game. Although easily incorporated into any fantasy world, it is optimized for the Pathfinder campaign setting.

Each bimonthly 32-page Pathfinder Companion contains several player-focused articles exploring the volume’s theme as well as short articles with innovative new rules for social, magic, religious, and combat-focused characters, as well as traits to better anchor the player to the campaign.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-256-2

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Player Companion Subscription.

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Print Edition: This product is out of print.

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Product Reviews (7)
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****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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A Name That Speaks For Itself


This book is about Orcs from cover to cover and that is a good thing!

Basics: This book covers history, culture, locations, subraces, and combat options.

Mechanics: Many options are viable and it also includes one of the most popular Sorcerer bloodlines out.

Theme: What can I say other than it nails the Orc theme!

Execution: The format is easy to follow as it introduces you to Orcs before explaining the various aspects then gives you the mechanical choices.

Summary: This book simply delivers on the premise. A must have for most Orc or Half-Orc characters. Also if you want to flesh out Orcs in your campaign.

Everything Can't Be Above Average . . .

***( )( )

Orcs of Golarion is a book about . . . well . . . . Orcs . . . in Golarion! Really, there's no other plausible way for me to complete that sentence. To be more precise, both Orcs and Half-orcs are covered in this entry in the Pathfinder Player Companion line. With that awkward introduction out of the way, let's stick to just the facts, ma'm. This is a 32-page full colour book, with great cover art. The interior art seems more sparse and lower quality than most Paizo books, and much of it consists of drawings of various Orc banners; we'll just have to chalk that up to a busy month for Paizo's freelance artists. The insider front cover is a very useful recap of Orc and Half-orc racial traits, while the inside back cover is a clearer copy of the cover art. The interior is separated into six sections. Before getting into them, it might be helpful as a general matter to say that Orcs of Golarion is an example of the older style of Player Companions insofar as it contains far more description (background "flavour" or "fluff" depending on your preferences) than the newer style which has PC options covering every square inch.

The first, longest, and most important section is titled simply "Orcs of Golarion" and comes to 21 pages. The first few pages of the section are a history of the race in the official campaign setting of Golarion, and it's interesting enough if not exactly mind-blowing. The next few pages feature what are essentially "in-game" explanations for Orc and Half-orc racial traits like Ferocity. Cultural aspects like Diet, Lifespan, Religion, and so forth come next and take up several pages. There's a terrible drawing of an Orc on page 7, by the way: I keep thinking it's a barefoot rock giant. I'm being a bit silly in this review, but the writing here is solid and informative for anyone who really wants to understand Orc life. A new bloodline ("Orc") for Sorcerers is introduced and it looks pretty cool for those who like to mix melee combat in with their spellcasting. The next few pages provide brief overviews of various different Orc tribes through Golarion, and discusses how the species operates on more unusual terrain, like jungles or mountains. Major Orc settlements, like the famous Hold of Belkzen receive several paragraphs of coverage each. There's about two pages devoted to how Half-orcs do and do not fit in within Orc culture (and human-centered mainstream society) before the section ends with with several new background traits. There's 13 new Race traits, 6 new Regional traits, and 4 new Religion traits. The Race traits are, of course, restricted to Orcs and Half-orcs, but the others could in theory by taken by any PC from the appropriate region or religion. I thought the traits were well-done: most give something more interesting and/or more useful than the traditional "+1 to a particular skill and it becomes a class skill for you" model. The Tusked trait, for example, gives you a bite attack while the Unafraid trait (for (Half-)orcs from Ustalav) gives a +2 on saves vs. fear.

Section two, "Combat" (two pages) introduces ten new feats. All of them are limited to Orcs and Half-orcs only. Many of them play off the rage class feature and would thus probably be of most interest to barbarians and bloodragers. I didn't find the feats particularly interesting, as too many of them simply provide an extra round of rage upon doing something special (landing a critical hit, killing an enemy, etc.).

Section three, "Faith" (two pages) discusses the role of shamans in Orc culture and includes a sidebar on (the fairly generic) gods often worshipped by Orcs. There's only one piece of crunch in this section: a new feat called "Adept Channel" which gives some divine spellcasters who can't channel the ability to do so twice per day.

Section four, "Magic" (two pages) begins with a too-short discussion of Orc witch doctors (arcane spellcasters) and their rivalry with shamans. Six new spells are introduced, and some of them are pretty cool! "Blood rage" is a buff that increases an ally's Strength every time they take damage, while "Enemy's heart" provides nice bonuses for killing an opponent and literally eating their heart! Imagine fighting an enemy who does that on the battlefield . . .

Section five, "Social" (two pages) covers Orc and Half-Orc "class roles" for all of the Core Rulebook and Advanced Player's Guide classes. I thought it was reasonable in its frankness that some classes are quite common and respected in Orc culture (e.g., barbarians, rangers, etc.) and others are frowned upon or almost unheard of (e.g., paladins, wizards, etc.).

And there you have it. The writing in this is pretty good and some of the traits could be useful. On the other hand, there's nothing in here that revolutionizes the concept of the Orc from mainstream fantasy and most players could run such characters just fine without this book. I think I would characterize this one as a "I've got $ 10 to spare and might as well add something to the cart for my Orc PC" purchase rather than an essential one to seek out.

Why did it have to be Orcs?

****( )

No monster is more under rated individually, or more formidible in Mass. Now here is a guide to show you how to use them effectively. Check out my full review: Orcs of Golarion

Orcs for every bloodbath!


These greenskins are fun to read and portray orcish culture just as I'd imagine them in this "general D&D/like setting." It makes them tad more believable and leaves a good impression and feel.

And not a single female orc was shown that day

***( )( )

Paizo gave us a female half-orc iconic, but this book provides no images of orc females, children, nor daily life (outside of combat & raiding). Disappointing! Did we really need to see all of those war banners? More artistic and/or literary direction would be helpful regarding orc anthropology, especially as the Bestiary is silent on these matters. Still, the book does illuminate orcish philosophy, religion, and attitudes.

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