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.