What features define a half orc's appearance to you?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Namely, when you look at a half orc half X what makes it obvious in your mind he or she is clearly half orc? This is more of an ascetic question not asking about game rules to identify a half orc with a skill check.

Personally for me what should be obvious about a half orc is greenish skin, lower tusks, taller and/or more musculature. When I think of half orc half elf for instance, this is what comes to mind:

http://orig11.deviantart.net/ae08/f/2010/175/8/6/elf_orc_character_by_colby stevenson.jpg

Before anyone says she's a pretty orc just for the sake of a fapfic, I have to add the argument that any cross with an elf parent is going to pretty, there's just no two ways around that, even the ugliest X crossed with an elf, (rules about elf parent not being able to pass on genes because of blah blah reason, clone birthing, ect.) will likely be at least a far bit less offensive to look at, if not mildly to very aesthetically pleasing.

So whats everyone else's defining half orc feature? Skin color, posture/muscle mass, ect. ?


Usually two legs, but not always.


Greenish or green-grey skin, tusks. They probably trend toward darker hair colors (but more variety than normal orcs) and darker/reddish eye colors and pointed/large ears to some degree.

Probably a bit bulkier than their non-orcish side (unless that non-orcish side is as big or bigger than an orc), but not significantly so because half orcs don't have a strength or con bonus necessarily.

I know some people though who seem to think half orcs have to be deformed/grotesque/wrinkled or otherwise overtly ugly even moreso than regular orcs. Not quite sure why though. Some sort of grandfathered anti-miscegnation thing maybe?

Obviously a lot of that depends on the secondary race in the coupling, most of my comments are around the default assumption of a half orc half human.


Like an orc, but only half. Usually the left half.

Scarab Sages

JakeCWolf wrote:
http://orig11.deviantart.net/ae08/f/2010/175/8/6/elf_orc_character_by _colbystevenson.jpg

"The page you were looking for doesn't exist."

You might be meaning http://colbystevenson.deviantart.com/art/Elf-Orc-Character-168823787

Grand Lodge

Green skin, husky voice, being taller/thicker than the average person.


I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of this thread is, but let me add my voice to the chorus saying "green skin, tusks, and muscular build."


JakeCWolf wrote:
Namely, when you look at a half orc half X what makes it obvious in your mind he or she is clearly half orc?

Large body frame, heavy musculature, larger than human average height, tusks of some degree from the lower jaw but nowhere as large in size severe development (usually) as the Orc parent. Tusks would impact speech and have a noted effect on voice patterns and how the person sounded.

Varying green or brown skin with some possible mottling but again not as severe as the orc parent, clear orcish facial features that have been greatly 'tempered' by the features of the second, non orcish parent.

Much thicker but courser hair than the non orc parent, almost like horse hair in thickness. Greater overall body hair and that hair also would be thicker and more coarse.

Whereas the orcs have a more pronounced brow and more jutting jawline with bestial looking tusks, sort of like cromagnon man compared to homo sapiens, the half orc face will be more in line with the non orcish parent and sport a more 'civilized' or 'advanced' facial structure where the brow and jaw are less pronounced than an orc and the tusks are smaller and more uniform. Those features would still be more prominent than those on their non orc race parentage though, enough to be clearly noticeable.

Lastly the distinctive external nasal structure of the orc is less pronounced on the half orc but still present enough to mark their ancestry clearly.

That illustration you link is IMO just a green elf with super tiny tusks. Take away those small teeth and change her skin color and she could pass for a regular wood or wild elf easily. It is good artwork, the artist has clear talent, but I would not agree with that interpretation of a half orc myself even taking into account elven lineage.

LotR is probably the first really well known source for the orc as a creature and those orcs were originally elves to start with and still looked like orcs when Morgoth got done with them. An argument could be made that half orc/half elves would look even MORE orc like than other half orcs due to shared 'genetics' to start with though that may not count at all depending on setting.


Gilfalas wrote:


LotR is probably the first really well known source for the orc as a creature and those orcs were originally elves to start with and still looked like orcs when Morgoth got done with them. An argument could be made that half orc/half elves would look even MORE orc like than other half orcs due to shared 'genetics' to start with though that may not count at all depending on setting.

LotR is also the first source for half-orcs (human-orc crosses); we saw some in Bree, for example, as friends of Bill Ferny. Their appearance was quite variable and a number of them were able to pass themselves off as sallow-faced humans. ("Half a dozen large ill-favoured Men lounging against the inn-wall; they were squint-eyed and sallow-faced.")

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Gilfalas wrote:


LotR is probably the first really well known source for the orc as a creature and those orcs were originally elves to start with and still looked like orcs when Morgoth got done with them. An argument could be made that half orc/half elves would look even MORE orc like than other half orcs due to shared 'genetics' to start with though that may not count at all depending on setting.
LotR is also the first source for half-orcs (human-orc crosses); we saw some in Bree, for example, as friends of Bill Ferny. Their appearance was quite variable and a number of them were able to pass themselves off as sallow-faced humans. ("Half a dozen large ill-favoured Men lounging against the inn-wall; they were squint-eyed and sallow-faced.")

If I recall, the Uruk-Hai also had at least some human in them, which is how they were able to act under the Sun unhindered.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
LotR is also the first source for half-orcs (human-orc crosses); we saw some in Bree, for example, as friends of Bill Ferny. Their appearance was quite variable and a number of them were able to pass themselves off as sallow-faced humans. ("Half a dozen large ill-favoured Men lounging against the inn-wall; they were squint-eyed and sallow-faced.")
Kalindlara wrote:
If I recall, the Uruk-Hai also had at least some human in them, which is how they were able to act under the Sun unhindered.

Both are very true and correct. If we were playing in Middle Earth we would have a much different set of descriptions as well since 1/2 orcs could be bred there with so many different attributes and for specialized purposes that a standard 'look' was less likely than no.

Brought in the ME reference as way of trivia mostly. Probably should have left it out for D&D X/Pathfinder Orcs/Half Orcs.


Noticable tusks (heavens helps your pronunciation if you become a vampire too); Skin tending toward green, gray, or brown depending on the variation of orc; taller, more muscular frame.


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This one is always hard and often has a lot to do with the setting. Sometimes orcs themselves lack enough racial consistency to assume any sort of 'common' half breed traits. I tend to think like tiefling but with orcish traits more then demonic. Some get the green or grey skin, some get the 'tusks' or lupine ears, some get the feral eyes and snouty nose or any combination there of. Because Orcs tend to vary a lot from setting to setting on size and such I don't always assume bigger but I do assume more sturdy frame, denser muscle tissues and less fatty squish along with heavy and thicker bone structure.
With how orcs look in Golarion I'd probably say that they have strong and sharp features with strong jaws, wide foreheads and hawkish noses with overgrown lower cuspids that rarely extend up past the nose and all the teeth in general being larger and more carniverous with additional canine teeth perhaps replacing the premolars. I'd also assume hair to be straight and somewhat more wiry than the norm and less facial hair since I can't recall ever seeing a bearded orc.. Perhaps a reflective tapeta lucida structure to explain the dark vision. The skin i assume would be thicker and a bit rougher but still pliable and springy.
In 3.5 the Orcs were a much more gorilla/neandertal crossbreed looking thing with protruding almost muzzle like lower jaws and an almost mane like hair pattern they had large jaws but small chins with prominent side burn like hair growth on both genders and an abundance of wart like skin growths on skin with a texture like fine leather driving gloves.
In one setting I played in orcs were more or less the pig/boar equivalent of gnolls with the males tending more towards nearly fully boarlike heads complete with snouts and true tusks and the females having more human preportioned but still piggish faces.

I should point out my favorite orcs or Orks as they were called are from the EarthDawn setting and have a very close look to what i see Pathfinder half-orcs as being.


I'll add my interpetation:
slightly more muscular,
skin tones ranging all over the place but often grayish og greenish tinted,
often tapered ears,
defined jawline with possibilites of tusks in different sizes.

I once played a half orc that had elven bood on the other side of his family,
he had golden-gray skin, a muscular build and pointed ears,
often got mistaken for an exotic elf.
He was also a cleric of an elven godess and had a gentle and peaceful demeanor.
The other players thought he was an elf the first couple of sessions. :)

I don't think there is any "right" answer to this, it all depends on how you want to play your character.

Shadow Lodge

I also tend to go with tusks (and an underbite), greenish or grey skin, and heavier build. Sometimes also facial features like a heavy jaw or brow ridge or snub nose. But genetics can be odd sometimes, especially with cross-breeds, so I'd expect a fair amount of variation between half-orcs in what ways they resembled either parent. For example, while I do agree with Gilfalas that the image posted seems to favour the elf side a bit more, I would still believe the character as an orc-elf.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I'm working on a "Malfoy-esque" adversary for my PCs that looks like a pale green-skinned version of Natalie Dormer with a pair of slender tusks. She's going to be a LE inquisitor or paladin of vengeance to a LN church the PCs will be allied with. Hopefully.


Taller and more broad of build than the non orc parent (assume its not half-orc half-ogre or something) wide face/jaw to support larger teeth and vestigial tusks. Noses tend to be large and upturned or flattened with elongated nostrils trailing under. Skin tones can vary greatly based on both parents. They also tend to be hairy.

I see Half-Orcs that want to abide by the guidelines of beauty of other races having to go pretty far to accomplish it, often filing down teeth and lots of shaving for either gender.


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Sexiness.

Silver Crusade

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I've got 3 half orc PCs in PFS. All look very different from each other.

Nana is quite human looking, but with a green skin tone. She does have the multitude of scars, tattoos and piercings that come from being raised in Belkzen amongst orcs. Most of the time Nana has hooves from an extended Monstrous Extremities spell.

Drokk is a beast. He's hunchbacked and deformed, scarred from personal and parental experimentation (he's the offspring of two half orc alchemists, and a beastmorph alchemist himself). He's heavily muscled, but his orcish features are lost under his deformities and mutations.

Kiboko more closely resembles the massive hulking half orc barbarian. He has prominent tusks. His human parentage is Mwangi and he was raised a slave in a Mwangi tribe, the demon-worshipping Bekyar. Kiboko has dark grey-to-black skin and bleached dreadlocked hair.

Half orcs are as varied as any other PC race, as much as you want them to be.


Big problem is how Orcs look in Fantasy games has changed over the years. For example Tolkien never stated Orcs had green skin, He stated their skin tone was sallow( an Unhealthy shade of yellow) .Green skin Orcs came out first in Warcraft and later Warhammer.
As I despise Game workshop and don't care all that much for Blizzard , My orcs will never be painted green.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Tolkien only called the Orcs sallow in one of his letter, not his published work, and he changed his mind on a lot of things about orcs over the years. Sallow is yellowish, but also sickly and saying someone (at least a Caucasian) is looking sallow is pretty much exactly the same as saying they are looking green.

And of course Warcraft was far from the first to present Tolkien style orcs as green colored. The Animated Hobbit (1977) is an obvious example.


Dave Justus wrote:
Tolkien only called the Orcs sallow in one of his letter[s].

.... but he described the half-orcs as "sallow" in at least three separate instances in the Lord of the Rings proper.


Only half as ugly as a full orc :P.

Anyway , just add green + small tusks.


Dave Justus wrote:

Tolkien only called the Orcs sallow in one of his letter, not his published work, and he changed his mind on a lot of things about orcs over the years. Sallow is yellowish, but also sickly and saying someone (at least a Caucasian) is looking sallow is pretty much exactly the same as saying they are looking green.

And of course Warcraft was far from the first to present Tolkien style orcs as green colored. The Animated Hobbit (1977) is an obvious example.

And Marvel's Spiderman had the Green Goblin too.

But Orcs as green was rare in the 70' and 80'. In Ralph Bakshi Lord of the Rings, the Brother Hilderbrandt paintings and most TSR works Orcs where Brown, Brown-yellow, or grey. The idea of Orc and Goblin being all green is a new one.


I think the confusion of half orc appearance and coloration was the fault of Lou Ferigno and the old Hulk TV series.

So to me purple shorts defines the half orc..


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Cuthel wrote:
But Orcs as green was rare in the 70' and 80'.

Pure Tolkien works perhaps, but Orcs in general being green was pretty common by then. The 80's D&D cartoon had green orcs.


Green/grey skin, broad flat piggish nose, near tusk like canines and 10-20% larger then humans.


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmm...I suppose a humanoid with features that have some element of human and some element of orc. The exact features and exact ratios vary from half-orc to half-orc. Some look much like a human with just a hint of their orc heritage, perhaps their skin tone or something about the structure of their skull or size, others look much like an orc with perhaps slightly more delicate (comparatively) features or a different skin tone or being slighter (again, comparatively), and many fall somewhere in the middle. Though, presuming the existence of hybrids of orcs with other races, it would vary quite a bit depending on the other race involved, presuming it's even possible in a given setting.

Ultimately, it's up to individual DMs there...after all, orcs may or may not be green, might or might not have tusks (they certainly don't have a bite or gore attack, after all), might or might not have beady red eyes, might or might not have coarse black hair...there's plenty of ways they might be implemented in a given setting. Particularly depending what kind of media the DM is inspired by for their presentation...orcs as pig-men, for example. Overall, I'd struggle to claim any particular features as being universal given the variety of potential portrayals...presuming, as I said, that other such hybrids are possible in the first place in a given setting.

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