Orcs Are Not Human

Orcs, like many monsters in modern game design, are being depicted as human, more or less.  Ugly, tusked humans with pointed ears.  This is a mistake.  Monsters should be depicted as such … monstrous.  If I were going to write up the Orc entry for an RPG’s monster book, it would look something like this:

Orcs are bipedal creatures known by many names.

Goblin.  Bugbear.  Hobgoblin. Beastman.  Orc.

Orcs range in height from 3 to 7 feet.  The have jutting brows and lower jaws which are tusked.  They have small beady eyes that appear black in bright light, but glow red in the darkness.  Their torsos and upper arms are heavily muscled, giving them a slightly stooped appearance.  The are hairy, dirty, and vile smelling.

These names are largely regional.  Goblin is for smaller ones.  Hobgoblin and Bugbear are for the bigger ones.  Orc and Beastman are general terms.  However, no matter their names they are known universally for their cravenly malicious evil.  None shed a tear for their passing for all who survive contact discover their inhumanity.

Attacking primarily at night, lone orcs only go for easy prey.  They will chase down the young, the weak, the unarmed.  Pairs or small groups will ambush those who are more dangerous.  Hordes will mercilessly maraud settlements, trusting in large numbers.

Orcs will eat almost anything plant or animal but prefer meat, even of their own kind.  They have almost no culture, preferring to steal everything they possess as it saves them from making it themselves.  They will use light armor and any weapon.  The weapons they use ferociously, without grace or real skill.  The labor of the orc is murder, theft, destruction and rape.

Female orcs are unheard of, as well as orc children.  It is rumored that if they exist at all, the males hide them well, far away from others.  It is also rumored that men who have irredeemably lost their humanity become orcs.


10 Replies to “Orcs Are Not Human”

  1. Hardy

    What a shit article. Its like a racist propaganda. Orcs are different in every game , in my game they are just like humans but bigger and not so clever.

  2. geeknodwick

    I think the article is a good classic and well done take on orcs. They are monsters folks. Why get your feelings hurt over a fictional race of monsters and an interpretation of their actions and cultures ?

  3. Booster Blake

    Excellent article! Thank you for rectifying an increasingly common mistake, the “humanification” of orcs and restoring the noble savagery to these horrid abominations! Long has the orc been the enemy of man and the civilized races, yet lately their gruesome reputation has been softened by misplaced progressive values.

    In real life we must always challenge and grow beyond our prejudices however, such idealism is misplaced in the realms of fantasy, where we draw great comfort from the clear lines of good vs evil, monsters vs men.

    I won’t belittle those that insist on gentrifying orcs and other ilk that exist across the Kolbold Line but it strikes me as a strange habit, like a knitted sweater on a honey badger.

  4. StinkyBarbie

    Being in the first wave of AD&D players orcs were just a monster between kobolds and ogres. I never considered them interesting enough to add anything more than what was in the Monster Manual. We had the player races to flesh out as Greyhawk was still in its infancy. The few half-orc player characters had similar backstories’, avenging angels for their human half. Back in those days we were simple devil worshippers so we could misgender and disregard orc culture with no fear of reprisal.

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