Pathfinder Player Companion: Orcs of Golarion (PFRPG)

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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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A Name That Speaks For Itself

5/5

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 . . .

3/5

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?

4/5

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!

5/5

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

3/5

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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Aberzombie wrote:
Meh! Adventurers never worried about attacking dungeons filled hordes of bloodthirsty halflings.

Do the words Dark Sun mean anything to you?


Eric Hinkle wrote:
Aberzombie wrote:
Meh! Adventurers never worried about attacking dungeons filled hordes of bloodthirsty halflings.

Go look at the Book of Vile Darkness. Those Jerran halflings were evil little cannibalistic b*st*rds!

And more on topic, I really like this. I never wanted to play/use half-orcs before seeing Pathfinder's version.

Hmm, maybe we can hope for a 'Gnolls of Golarion' in the future?

Two things, first and foremost, the Jerran were really a 3E normal world version of some the nastier aspects of Dark Sun halflings. Second, a Gnolls of Golarion book would actually be rather welcome for me at least.


FenrysStar wrote:
Two things, first and foremost, the Jerran were really a 3E normal world version of some the nastier aspects of Dark Sun halflings. Second, a Gnolls of Golarion book would actually be rather welcome for me at least.

As far as I can remember, the Jerran were actively evil and corrupt. The Dark Sun halflings were just...hungry.

I loved Dark Sun (still do, at least the old stuff), it was the only campaign world where there were at least two pro-cannibal (well, they don't technically eat their own kind, but most other intelligent races were fair game, with Elves being super-tasty to the Thri-Kreen) PC races. Good times.

I dread to think of how they savaged it for 4E.

Oh, and here's another thumbs-up for a Gnolls of Golarion book!


I plan to be the first one in line at GenCon to grab this... and if my copy is not there... there's going to be bloodshed... you hear me, blood shed! Not just, grab-a-mop-and-pale-to-clean-this-up bloodshed, but I'm talking about bits-of-brain matter-sticking-to-the-ceiling bloodshed!!!

Of course if Customs won't let me fly across the border with my orc axe, then I guess a nasty finger shaking session will have to suffice.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

When is the "Smurfs of Golarion" book coming out.


will it say why they dis elves in this book???


Aberzombie wrote:
Meh! Adventurers never worried about attacking dungeons filled hordes of bloodthirsty halflings.

They will be now, OH and plus dark sun had bloodthirsty halflings that eat you.


I was thinking of a rverse russia joke here

Lantern Lodge

Aberzombie wrote:
Meh! Adventurers never worried about attacking dungeons filled hordes of bloodthirsty halflings.

The Pygmy Shrews, however...

Dark Archive

Dark_Mistress wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
I've updated the product description. I'd love to show you the finished cover as well, 'cause it's about a bazillion times better than the mockup... but it contains spoilers for some announcements we'll be making in a couple of weeks, so you'll have to live with the mockup cover for a while longer yet.
*bleep* you, *bleeping* tease. :)

What DM said, you *bleeping* teases ;-)

Liberty's Edge

Shem wrote:

When is the "Smurfs of Golarion" book coming out.

It already has: Smurfs of Golarion.

U


oh smurf it with the smurf already

stupid smurf smurfers

you dont have anything better to do rather than smurfing smurf smurfette?

Liberty's Edge

Really pleased to see orcs getting some attention. Looks like a must-have!

PS Kobolds of Golarion? Merk?


I want Drow of golarion


Frank James wrote:

oh smurf it with the smurf already

stupid smurf smurfers

you dont have anything better to do rather than smurfing smurf smurfette?

Not smurfy likely.

Dark Archive

Does anyone know whether your Rage Powers activate when you use Sympathetic Rage? I would assume so as it says you gain all the normal benefits of rage except +2 str/con, but I was looking for a ruling on it.

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder

Draeke Raefel wrote:
Does anyone know whether your Rage Powers activate when you use Sympathetic Rage? I would assume so as it says you gain all the normal benefits of rage except +2 str/con, but I was looking for a ruling on it.

No, the intent of the feat is to give non-barbarian orcs and half-orcs some ability to rage. If a barbarian orc or half-orc has the sympathetic rage, he only gets the rage effects as listed. Rage powers are a separate class ability, so he can only use those when he using his own barbarian rage.


Makarnak wrote:
Oh, and here's another thumbs-up for a Gnolls of Golarion book!

Call it a whim but I've always wondered what the Drizzt of Gnolls would be like. By that I mean a gnoll ranger that fights his baser instincts to actually be good aligned.

Silver Crusade

FenrysStar wrote:
Makarnak wrote:
Oh, and here's another thumbs-up for a Gnolls of Golarion book!
Call it a whim but I've always wondered what the Drizzt of Gnolls would be like. By that I mean a gnoll ranger that fights his baser instincts to actually be good aligned.

Mak'Gruhff?

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Mikaze wrote:
FenrysStar wrote:
Makarnak wrote:
Oh, and here's another thumbs-up for a Gnolls of Golarion book!
Call it a whim but I've always wondered what the Drizzt of Gnolls would be like. By that I mean a gnoll ranger that fights his baser instincts to actually be good aligned.
Mak'Gruhff?

Take a Bite out of crime?


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Dragnmoon wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
Mak'Gruhff?
Take a Bite out of crime?

What's that reference?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

There is a fair amount on gnolls in the first couple Legacy of Fire books, Katapesh, and of course Classic Monsters Revisited.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Zaister wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
Mak'Gruhff?
Take a Bite out of crime?
What's that reference?

Crime fighting dog Scruff McGruff, of course!


Dragnmoon wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
FenrysStar wrote:
Makarnak wrote:
Oh, and here's another thumbs-up for a Gnolls of Golarion book!
Call it a whim but I've always wondered what the Drizzt of Gnolls would be like. By that I mean a gnoll ranger that fights his baser instincts to actually be good aligned.
Mak'Gruhff?
Take a Bite out of crime?

Possibly and having to limit himself to just crime and not the criminals themselves. ;)


Yeah! Not long til the pdf is available, I'm assuming. :)

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Zaister wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
Mak'Gruhff?
Take a Bite out of crime?
What's that reference?

Sorry Zaister, something our European friends would not get...

as a Child Scruff McGruff was on TV all the time as an anti crime commercial.


FenrysStar wrote:
Makarnak wrote:
Oh, and here's another thumbs-up for a Gnolls of Golarion book!
Call it a whim but I've always wondered what the Drizzt of Gnolls would be like. By that I mean a gnoll ranger that fights his baser instincts to actually be good aligned.

Actually, my profile name is based on just such a character, but I never drew the comparison until now.

He was back in 2E, when gnolls were large-sized, meaning he could wield two-handed (great) swords with one hand, so he wielded two of them. I rolled well on his stats, and he was exceptionally smart for a gnoll, very strong and fairly likeable. He tried to be 'civilized' and had taken as a packmate a female half-elf wizard. He also had a massive clydesdale-esque horse.

His crowning moment when (as a 5th level character) he believed that he slew a god (a werewolf was posing as one, forcing the townsfolk to worship him or something, I never found out because, in character, Makarnak was convinced that this werewolf was a god, and did vicious, furious battle with him to protect his packmates and the village--this also brought up the weird topic of whether gnolls could turn into werewolves...). He renamed his most powerful two-handed sword 'Godslayer' and was quite pleased with himself.

I made his miniature using a gnoll figure, drilling out and replacing whatever he wielded with the two swords, and then created a bulky 'fur' cloak out of plaster. Still have it somewhere. He still shows up sometimes as an NPC in games I run.


I think that the Orcs of Golarion book is better for GMs outfitting orcs with unique feats than players creating their own characters.

While a party of Half-orcs might go wild with the options provided, it is somewhat less useful for a standard party, or even any given half-orc in a party. Most of the feats are set up for barbarian orcs/half-orcs and little else. While it does push hard that orcs are barbarians first and foremost, it does limit what a half-orc fighter, ranger, rogue or such can take from this book.

Adept Channel and Amplfied Rage are both feats that I can really see using as a GM, but unlikely to really see a player using. Adept Channel seems intended for adepts. To get to without being an adept, you have to likely have to do some odd multi-classing to get the right set of abilities necessary to meet the feats prerequisites.

Amplfied Rage is much easier to qualify for, but requires a very odd set up. You have to have a pair of orc/half-orc barbarians in the same party that have this feat, then they have to be near each other and raging to get the bonuses. As a GM all I have to do is have two orc barbarians and this feat is easy to use, but it is much more unlikely that a pair of players would both make half-orc barbarians using this feat unless their entire goal was to just use this feat. I can see a barbarian/cavalier or a barbarian/inquisitor using this feat by granting it to raging allies (possibly through the rage spell), but overall, again, this feat seems to be more inclined for GMs outfitting their orcs than players outfitting their characters. That is fine, not all feats need to be for players, except this book is indicated to be targeted at players.

While the spells are more useful, there are a pair that are set up such that players will not ever use them. Enemy's heart and shield the banner seem to be just things the GM would use rather than the players.

I would prefer that later products in this line, if it is going to continue to be directed at players, have more content that players can use and that the NPC feats and spells appear in the other lines.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

+1 Blazej. Once again, PF Companion misses the target audience by half a mile. Grrrrrrr.

Liberty's Edge

I don't see the 'only barbs benefit from the crunch' line about this book... while many of the feats in the section tellingly kicked off with the title 'Horde Tactics' do lend themselves to groups of orcs/half-orc barbarians (and thus generally either parties heavy with both or GM-controlled NPC hordes) there are feats and traits here that add flavor and versatility to any of the martial classes, summoners, sorcerers, oracles, druids, inquisitors etc.

On that note, though, I'm having trouble understanding one aspect of the Orc Bloodline for sorcerers... they receive transformation as a bonus spell at 13th level, but at 20th level they can cast it once daily as a spell-like ability 'using your sorcerer level as your caster level'? If they need to hit Sorcerer 20 to get this power, what other caster level would it use, and isn't it a bit redundant to receive a spell they can already cast (multiple times) as a once-daily spell-like ability?

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder

Apethae wrote:
On that note, though, I'm having trouble understanding one aspect of the Orc Bloodline for sorcerers... they receive transformation as a bonus spell at 13th level, but at 20th level they can cast it once daily as a spell-like ability 'using your sorcerer level as your caster level'? If they need to hit Sorcerer 20 to get this power, what other caster level would it use, and isn't it a bit redundant to receive a spell they can already cast (multiple times) as a once-daily spell-like ability?

We always put the caster level of spell-like abilities—in this case, as a spell-like ability, not a spell, the caster level can't be assumed, hence it's called out as equal to the sorcerer's level.

As for redundancy, it's a freebie. Yes, the sorcerer gets it as a bonus spell at 13th level, but casting it normally uses up a spell slot *and* requires a potion of bull's strength as a material component. This lets you cast once per day without burning a spell slot, and without paying 300 gp a pop for the material component.


The description of the different orc subtypes and tribes has inspired me to paint some different orc minis to represent the different groups.

The Exchange

Mitch Brock of Boston wrote:
The description of the different orc subtypes and tribes has inspired me to paint some different orc minis to represent the different groups.

Cool. Post pics when you're done?


Rob McCreary wrote:
Apethae wrote:
On that note, though, I'm having trouble understanding one aspect of the Orc Bloodline for sorcerers... they receive transformation as a bonus spell at 13th level, but at 20th level they can cast it once daily as a spell-like ability 'using your sorcerer level as your caster level'? If they need to hit Sorcerer 20 to get this power, what other caster level would it use, and isn't it a bit redundant to receive a spell they can already cast (multiple times) as a once-daily spell-like ability?
We always put the caster level of spell-like abilities—in this case, as a spell-like ability, not a spell, the caster level

Basically, it avoids any possible problems in the future.

For example, it seems completely reasonable for an ¨Orcish Disciple¨ PrC to be made which is the equivalent of the Dragon Disciple PrC (which progresses Bloodline Abilities faster than Caster Level), just focused on Orcish powers rather than a Draconic heritage. If it wasn`t stated that you treat the ´Sorceror Level´ (which the PrC progresses for purposes of Bloodline Powers) as the Caster Level, an `Orcish Disciple``s Caster Level for the ability would be lower since their actual Casting is somewhat retarded vs. a Full Sorceror.

EDIT: I in no way condone the usage of the Class Title ¨Orcish Disciple¨, it is solely for comparison`s sake ;-)


Love the orc socerer bloodline

Will there ever be bloodlines for elf, gnome, or dwarf?

Dark Archive

Is an orc/half-orc who gets the Sympathetic Rage lesser rage bonus effectively considered raging?

Because that would qualify also for the Amplified Rage, and I can see thematically fit but overpowered teams of orc barbarians with a switching "rage leader" that fuels teammates into a frenzy of whopping stacking modifiers...

Silver Crusade

Had a question on another thread, but:

On the background text, is it all meant to be written as completely objective and factual, or possibly tinted by the perceptions of the major in-setting civilizations?

I'm just wondering, since there were a couple of interesting contradictions here and there that the latter interpretation could really open up into some very interesting possibilities.


Seeing as how a module that focuses on orcs and an adventure path that apparently starts with a focus on orcs is in the offing, is there any chance of a repress of this book?

Does Paizo ever repress out of print books?

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

Shaun wrote:

Seeing as how a module that focuses on orcs and an adventure path that apparently starts with a focus on orcs is in the offing, is there any chance of a repress of this book?

Does Paizo ever repress out of print books?

We generally only reprint books in the RPG line, not Player Companions, Campaign Settings, Adventure Paths, modules, etc.

In the case of orcs, a new book in the Campaign Setting line, Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes, is scheduled for December to tie in with the beginning of the Giantslayer Adventure Path.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Fortunately, they never run out of PDFs.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Is Blood Vengeance capable of stacking with itself? For instance, let's say a Barbarian is raging and a worthy ally drops triggering the increase of +2 to their existing rage. After 2 rounds another ally goes down, does it increase by another +2? It reads like it does and it makes a certain kind of sense that you'd get angrier and angrier the more of your allies that drop. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't misreading it.

In all fairness the odds of it proccing more than once a combat is rather rare or at least it is at my table.

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