Orc PCs


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


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So how far off are the rules to play as Orcs in 2e?


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Probably over half a year off, as they are not one of the three ancestries to be covered in the Lost Omens Character Guide. So the next chance to cover Orcs as a PC race would be in whatever core book comes after the Game Mastery Guide.


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We're going to have some Orc feats in the CRB (because Half-Orc PCs can take them) so it should be a pretty easy homebrew straight off.

Just come up with some heritages, template is +2 to a physical stat, +2 to a mental stat, -2 to one thing, some kind of innate biological bonus (like darkvision) I believe.


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I'm going to be homebrewing orcs before I GM my first game. I suppose there is some small chance that the orc race would be in the bestiary since the ancestry feats are already in the CRB but that seems unlikely.


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Orcs probably will be in the Bestiary as foes, but you need a bunch of ancestry heritages and ancestry feats to complete a playable ancestry, and the Bestiary would not be the place for such information.


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David knott 242 wrote:

Orcs probably will be in the Bestiary as foes, but you need a bunch of ancestry heritages and ancestry feats to complete a playable ancestry, and the Bestiary would not be the place for such information.

That's probably a downside of the new expanded ancestries. In PF1 a lot of monstrous races had a player characteristics entry in the bestiary.


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I am expecting a character option book of some kind that gets a playtest after GenCon. I would not be surprised to see several races and classes in that book one of which I would think would be orc.


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Bardarok wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

Orcs probably will be in the Bestiary as foes, but you need a bunch of ancestry heritages and ancestry feats to complete a playable ancestry, and the Bestiary would not be the place for such information.

That's probably a downside of the new expanded ancestries. In PF1 a lot of monstrous races had a player characteristics entry in the bestiary.

From what I heard, it's more of a refocus. The bestiaries shouldn't be a source for player options, so they don't put ancestries in them. At least, not in the first one.

And I agree. The bestiaries should be DM only.


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Bardarok wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

Orcs probably will be in the Bestiary as foes, but you need a bunch of ancestry heritages and ancestry feats to complete a playable ancestry, and the Bestiary would not be the place for such information.

That's probably a downside of the new expanded ancestries. In PF1 a lot of monstrous races had a player characteristics entry in the bestiary.

That does stink but on the upside, we may get a monstrous races book that adds stuff like minotaurs and ogres but expanded to have various heritages and ancestry feats


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Elfteiroh wrote:
The bestiaries shouldn't be a source for player options... The bestiaries should be DM only.

I bet you're popular with Summoner players. ;-)


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Quandary wrote:
Elfteiroh wrote:
The bestiaries shouldn't be a source for player options... The bestiaries should be DM only.
I bet you're popular with Summoner players. ;-)

Or people that want to, you know, ride a mount. ;)


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These are still not "player options", they are monsters that player can use. I just mean that players shouldn't feel like they need to buy them to get new races, they should be bought by DMs. The summon stats can still be gathered on the SRD, or they could still buy the book, and it feels like a more "warranted" buy for those that like to play summoners.

The mounts stat block are easy enough to give to players if they really need/want it, but usually, I manage their stats, as they are not useful enough to be always managed by the players. Usually, they just tell me what they want, and how they want to find it if it's anything harder to find than a dog/horse, and they manage the fluff while I manage the crunch... which I often handwave, but that was in PF1 when I found them too complicated.


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Elfteiroh wrote:

These are still not "player options", they are monsters that player can use. I just mean that players shouldn't feel like they need to buy them to get new races, they should be bought by DMs. The summon stats can still be gathered on the SRD, or they could still buy the book, and it feels like a more "warranted" buy for those that like to play summoners.

The mounts stat block are easy enough to give to players if they really need/want it, but usually, I manage their stats, as they are not useful enough to be always managed by the players. Usually, they just tell me what they want, and how they want to find it if it's anything harder to find than a dog/horse, and they manage the fluff while I manage the crunch... which I often handwave, but that was in PF1 when I found them too complicated.

You also have all the polymorph spells too: player will want to know what options they have to change into [even if it's just looks], but even low level ones like Humanoid Form grants you "any trait related to the creature’s kind" so you need to know what those are.

While I can understand you wanting to manage the crunch while the players manage the fluff, there are players that want to manage the crunch themselves: they are going to see the monster books as "player options". It's the difference between a player asking if 'x' is available as a pet/mount/ect and then writing down the stats if it's allowed instead of asking what is available and waiting for you to do the work instead. Neither is wrong and I've seen plenty of DM's that would expect the player to do the work so that they can focus on the game.

Also, as to "players shouldn't feel like they need to buy them to get new races", they don't need to now or will they in the future. That info is available online for free. Archives of Nethys has all that info as the official online resource and players can look up whatever monster/race they wish. If I want a yak as a mount, I can find it's stats. Want to play a Reptoid, it's right there. I want to summon a Dretch? Right at your fingertips. And I never had to buy a single monster manual.


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graystone wrote:
Elfteiroh wrote:

These are still not "player options", they are monsters that player can use. I just mean that players shouldn't feel like they need to buy them to get new races, they should be bought by DMs. The summon stats can still be gathered on the SRD, or they could still buy the book, and it feels like a more "warranted" buy for those that like to play summoners.

The mounts stat block are easy enough to give to players if they really need/want it, but usually, I manage their stats, as they are not useful enough to be always managed by the players. Usually, they just tell me what they want, and how they want to find it if it's anything harder to find than a dog/horse, and they manage the fluff while I manage the crunch... which I often handwave, but that was in PF1 when I found them too complicated.

You also have all the polymorph spells too: player will want to know what options they have to change into [even if it's just looks], but even low level ones like Humanoid Form grants you "any trait related to the creature’s kind" so you need to know what those are.

While I can understand you wanting to manage the crunch while the players manage the fluff, there are players that want to manage the crunch themselves: they are going to see the monster books as "player options". It's the difference between a player asking if 'x' is available as a pet/mount/ect and then writing down the stats if it's allowed instead of asking what is available and waiting for you to do the work instead. Neither is wrong and I've seen plenty of DM's that would expect the player to do the work so that they can focus on the game.

Also, as to "players shouldn't feel like they need to buy them to get new races", they don't need to now or will they in the future. That info is available online for free. Archives of Nethys has all that info as the official online resource and players can look up whatever monster/race they wish. If I want a yak as a mount, I can find it's stats. Want to play a Reptoid, it's right...

And that information will still be found at the same place online, but in a better, more focused place in the books.

Really, I'm mostly interested with better organisation of the data in the physical books.


Elfteiroh wrote:

And that information will still be found at the same place online, but in a better, more focused place in the books.

Really, I'm mostly interested with better organisation of the data in the physical books.

But we were talking about players and their NEED to buy books, not what you as the DM want/need...

As far as "better organisation of the data in the physical books", I'd challenge that especially once we get a few books out. You have 4 monster manuals and you have to flip through them all if you don't recall which book it was in while a quick search can bring up all you want online. Same will be true of feats, spells, ect. And that's all before errata/FAQ's come out to alter the material in question.

Now don't get me wrong, there are sometimes I want to read the actual book/PDF to fully get the fluff or context right, but for things like we're talking about [mounts, polymorphs, summons] I don't think there's be much of an issue there.


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Elfteiroh wrote:

These are still not "player options", they are monsters that player can use. I just mean that players shouldn't feel like they need to buy them to get new races, they should be bought by DMs. The summon stats can still be gathered on the SRD, or they could still buy the book, and it feels like a more "warranted" buy for those that like to play summoners.

The mounts stat block are easy enough to give to players if they really need/want it, but usually, I manage their stats, as they are not useful enough to be always managed by the players. Usually, they just tell me what they want, and how they want to find it if it's anything harder to find than a dog/horse, and they manage the fluff while I manage the crunch... which I often handwave, but that was in PF1 when I found them too complicated.

While I agree on the fact these are not player options, that "I manage the crunch" is overly controlling I think... Unless your players are really new. :X

Myself, I let players manage all the crunch. (Ok ok, it mainly have to do with the fact I'm really not good with the rules. Eh.)
I also find it weird how you say you manage the crunch then say you find the rules too complicated. O_o


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I definitely agree that Bestiaries should not be places where players are going through them in order to find cool new options for their characters. While it's kind of unavoidable with summoners, it's best to just put the PC options (feats, ancestries, backgrounds, items) in a different book.


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I don't have a horse in this race, but perhaps getting back to the thread topic?...


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I think that something James Jacobs said was interesting. Assuming eventually that there is an Orc ancestry, and one can always build NPCs with the PC rules or the monster creation rules, it's likely that "Bestiary Orcs" will be more fearsome than same (low) level PC orcs. Similarly PC Kobolds are going to be less pitiful than "Bestiary Kobolds".

In PF1 we gave Orcs +4 to strength and a penalty to every mental stat, because NPCs and PCs were supposed to line up an NPC orcs were supposed to be dangerous melee fighter. Considering how valuable +1s are in PF2, and how Goblins already went from a +4 Dex race to a +2 Dex ancestry, we're not going to do that again. Likewise PF1 kobolds had pitiful stat mods, because kobolds were supposed to be pitiable. But in PF2 PC appropriate Orcs and Kobolds are probably going to do +2/+2/-2 with a mental and a physical stat for the +2s.

For Orcs it seems obvious that one of the +2s is going to be Strength, but what mental stat should they have a bonus in? Orcs had penalties to all mental stats in PF1, but that won't hold and Goblins already went from -2 Cha to +2 Cha. Since "Charisma" is already spoken for among the goblinoids, I would lean "Orcs are actually smart" makes them scarier than "Orcs are actually quite wise." So I would lean +2 Str/+2 Int/-2 Wis (which is what I have used in my homebrew for a while).

I mean Orcs do have a tradition of both "witches" (who are Int casters) and "crafting weapons of war". Orcs tend to live in societies were self-sufficiency is necessary (other Orcs are not keen to help you) so a diverse set of skills is needed. Orcs are liable to get lead in whatever direction by whoever is most powerful wants, and don't precisely thrive in hardscrabble survival environments.

Liberty's Edge

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PossibleCabbage wrote:

For Orcs it seems obvious that one of the +2s is going to be Strength, but what mental stat should they have a bonus in? Orcs had penalties to all mental stats in PF1, but that won't hold and Goblins already went from -2 Cha to +2 Cha. Since "Charisma" is already spoken for among the goblinoids, I would lean "Orcs are actually smart" makes them scarier than "Orcs are actually quite wise." So I would lean +2 Str/+2 Int/-2 Wis (which is what I have used in my homebrew for a while).

Honestly, I don't really see much reason for them to require the two boosts to be split between physical/mental. To me, it makes sense for them to simply be +2 STR & +2 CON / -2 INT.

Maybe I'm alone in that assessment though.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I think that something James Jacobs said was interesting. Assuming eventually that there is an Orc ancestry, and one can always build NPCs with the PC rules or the monster creation rules, it's likely that "Bestiary Orcs" will be more fearsome than same (low) level PC orcs. Similarly PC Kobolds are going to be less pitiful than "Bestiary Kobolds".

In PF1 we gave Orcs +4 to strength and a penalty to every mental stat, because NPCs and PCs were supposed to line up an NPC orcs were supposed to be dangerous melee fighter. Considering how valuable +1s are in PF2, and how Goblins already went from a +4 Dex race to a +2 dex ancestry, we're not going to do that again. Likewise PF1 kobolds had pitiful stat mods, because kobolds were supposed to be pitiable. But in PF2 PC appropriate Orcs and Kobolds are probably going to do +2/+2/-2 with a mental and a physical stat for the +2s.

For Orcs it seems obvious that one of the +2s is going to be Strength, but what mental stat should they have a bonus in? Orcs had penalties to all mental stats in PF1, but that won't hold and Goblins already went from -2 Cha to +2 Cha. Since "Charisma" is already spoken for among the goblinoids, I would lean "Orcs are actually smart" makes them scarier than "Orcs are actually quite wise." So I would lean +2 Str/+2 Int/-2 Wis (which is what I have used in my homebrew for a while).

I would either flip it +2 STR, +2 WIS and -2 INT since I always figured wisdom was a sort of street smarts and the makes more sense for Orcs imo

Or you could get crazy and give Orcs +2 STR, +2 CON and -2 INT

Liberty's Edge

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
For Orcs it seems obvious that one of the +2s is going to be Strength, but what mental stat should they have a bonus in? Orcs had penalties to all mental stats in PF1, but that won't hold and Goblins already went from -2 Cha to +2 Cha. Since "Charisma" is already spoken for among the goblinoids, I would lean "Orcs are actually smart" makes them scarier than "Orcs are actually quite wise." So I would lean +2 Str/+2 Int/-2 Wis (which is what I have used in my homebrew for a while).

With the new stat-reduction thing, there's no reason you can't have +2s to two physical stats, and I'd expect Orcs to have precisely that (+2 Str, +2 Con, specifically), with a penalty on either Int or Cha (I can see going either way). Wis penalty makes some sense, but is what I'd expect Hobgoblins to have (along with +2 Dex and +2 Con) to make their close relationship with Goblins clear, so I'd say something else is in order for Orcs.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean Orcs do have a tradition of both "witches" (who are Int casters) and "crafting weapons of war". Orcs tend to live in societies were self-sufficiency is necessary (other Orcs are not keen to help you) so a diverse set of skills is needed. Orcs are liable to get lead in whatever direction by whoever is most powerful wants, and don't precisely thrive in hardscrabble survival environments.

Uh...that last one is deeply untrue (they do fine in survival situations...well, as fine as anyone). I can definitely see the argument for Cha penalties rather than Int penalties, though. That does make them statistically perhaps too close to Dwarves, though, and we need an Int-penalty Ancestry at some point.


Themetricsystem wrote:
Maybe I'm alone in that assessment though.

Nope, I'm perfectly fine with it. In fact is seems quite odd that every 'race' would have an advantage in both a physical and mental stat. Why shouldn't an erudite one be both wise and intelligent? or a thuggish one strong and hearty?

IMO, this fits in great with the take 2 flaws for another raise option we heard about: An orc with +2 str, con, dex [or wis] and a -2 int and cha sounds pretty orcish to me.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Wis penalty makes some sense

I think they'd have a fairly good perception and ability to throw off mental effects [if for no reason then sheer stubbornness] so I'd think int or cha would be better. I'd vote cha.

Liberty's Edge

graystone wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Wis penalty makes some sense
I think they'd have a fairly good perception and ability to throw off mental effects [if for no reason then sheer stubbornness] so I'd think int or cha would be better. I'd vote cha.

Well, yes, I agree (well, I'd vote Int).

I was just noting it made some sense, not that I agreed with it.


Orcs are pretty intimidating... I think that the flaw in int is more fitting.


Kyrone wrote:
Orcs are pretty intimidating... I think that the flaw in int is more fitting.

They might all take a feat that allows them to use their strength for intimidation. And if we go by cha = intimidating, goblins and other short folk are mighty intimidating! ;)


Deadmanwalking wrote:
With the new stat-reduction thing, there's no reason you can't have +2s to two physical stats, and I'd expect Orcs to have precisely that (+2 Str, +2 Con, specifically), with a penalty on either Int or Cha (I can see going either way). Wis penalty makes some sense, but is what I'd expect Hobgoblins to have (along with +2 Dex and +2 Con) to make their close relationship with Goblins clear, so I'd say something else is in order for Orcs.

I feel kind of precisely the opposite regarding the stat reduction thing. Since now any ancestry without a penalty in one of the three stats can manage a +2/+2/+2 on either the physical/mental divide, what's the point of having one ancestry get there entirely painlessly? We do "Orcs are tough" with ancestral HP and ferocity so there's no need to invent a Con bonus that wasn't there before. In giving an ancestry a double bonus on physical/mental we're signposting "only play warriors/casters with these". On the other hand giving every ancestry a mental bonus we can point to the magical tradition most common among these people.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Uh...that last one is deeply untrue (they do fine in survival situations...well, as fine as anyone). I can definitely see the argument for Cha penalties rather than Int penalties, though. That does make them statistically perhaps too close to Dwarves, though, and we need an Int-penalty Ancestry at some point.

I disagree. Orcs survive in survival situations, largely because they are too ornery to die, but they do not thrive. Orcs do not meaningfully improve their living situations and make it easier to survive in the future or to allow the group to grow and prosper, they just keep on living come what may.


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Figuring out a mental bonus for Orcs seems kind of tricky. +Int gives them easier access to witches (assuming witches in PF2 work like witches in PF1), but runs counter to a lot of their fluff and I feel like kind of infringes on hobgoblin territory a bit.

+Wis I think fits pretty well, it does a good job enabling orc warrior-priests which I feel like should be a thing they do pretty well and if they're good at any mental skills it's probably the wisdom associated ones, but I'm not sure "Orcs are wise" is an appropriate statement either.

+Cha could also be neat, kind of steps on goblin toes a little and I'm worried about the PF1 problem of +cha being way too common, but orcs are good at being scary and orc sorcerers and orc bards both seem kind of thematic to me.

Off the top of my head I'd probably make them +Str/Wis/-Int if we're following the standard model for ancestries, but I could see it going lots of other ways, including something like +Str/Con/-Int if they start doing nonstandard stat spreads.

In general I feel like -int fits them the most, though.

Elfteiroh wrote:

From what I heard, it's more of a refocus. The bestiaries shouldn't be a source for player options, so they don't put ancestries in them. At least, not in the first one.

And I agree. The bestiaries should be DM only.

While I agree for the most part, the downside is that PF1 could give us a quick stat block and add a new playable race, which ended up giving us a lot of playable races that probably would never have existed otherwise.

I mean what are the odds of actually getting full ancestry support for things like reptoids, wyvaran, shabti, astomoi or even gnolls? I know a couple of those are from player books but the point about the shift in focus and making races meatier still applies.


I like +Str/Wis -Int for Orcs.

But I also do +Dex/Wix -Con for elves, +Int/Con -Cha for dwarves, and +Cha/(Any one physical) -Wis for humans so my Homebrew is all mixed up compared to Golarion.

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