Half-Orc Guide 5e

Published on September 7, 2020, Last modified on May 15th, 2022

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What is this guide?

This guide is meant to give you an idea of whether or not the half-orc will be right for your 5e character build.

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your half-orc. This color coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable to your party and will be fun to play.

  • Black is a trait shared by many races and or will not impact the effectiveness of your character build
  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange Situationally good, but a below-average option otherwise
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything Update

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything has added the "Customizing Your Origin" option that may affect the ability score increases, languages, and proficiencies in this guide. To read more about this, visit our D&D Race Guide.

What are Half-Orcs in 5e?

Source: Player's Handbook

Half-orcs are creatures that, like half-elves, are caught between two worlds. They are constantly at war with the two halves of their nature and have trouble belonging anywhere.

Half-orcs’ skin usually takes on the color from their orc parentage. They also acquired other orcish features like sloped foreheads, and jutting jaws that make their orcish heritage plain for all to see. Most Half-orcs grow to between 5 and 7 feet tall and usually weigh anywhere from 180 and 250 pounds.

The combination of human and orc makes half-orcs feel their emotions powerfully. Anger can fuel their bodies in battle, while sadness can sap their strength. But when times are good, Half-orcs laugh loudly and heartily, and love to indulge in feasting, drinking, wrestling, drumming, and wild dancing.

Because of their orc heritage, half-orcs tend to be more inclined to take action, rather than contemplation.

Half-Orc 5e Traits

Ability Score Increase: +2 STR and +1 CON make the half-orc a wonderful pick for almost any martial class.

Age: Half-orcs mature by 14 and live to around 75

Alignment: Half-orcs tend to lean towards their chaotic nature. When raised among their orc counterparts, they are usually evil.

Size: Half-orcs are medium creatures, ranging from 5-6 feet tall.

Speed: 30ft walking is standard

Darkvision: Darkvision is always great, but its advantage can be ruined if your party members do not also have it.

Menacing: A free proficiency in a great face skill is a great pickup.

Relentless Endurance: Getting a reset to 1hp when you drop below 0 is a stellar ability that can keep you in the fight and dealing damage. This will never go to waste.

Savage Attacks: Any melee fighter (especially those with a greataxe and warhammer) are going to love this ability

Languages: Common and Orc

Half-Orc 5e Subraces

Mark of Finding

Ability Score Increase: A +2 WIS and +1 CON ability score spread isn’t appealing for most classes, and some builds may even want DEX or STR over CON.

Hunter’s Intuition: Anything that makes Perception checks better is extremely useful, and improved Survival checks doesn’t hurt either.

Finder’s MagicHunter’s mark is a cool spell, so it’s nice to see it available for classes other than the ranger and for free at that. It can only be used once per long rest but the spell lasts for an hour so you should still be able to get some decent mileage out of it. You should probably never use this to cast locate object instead since the Mark of Finding grants that spell anyways.

Spells of the Mark: Only characters that have Spellcasting or Pact Magic can use the spells below.

  • 1st level
    • Faerie Fire: Giving your allies advantage is really good, especially if you have a rogue or paladin in the party. Invisible creatures can also be a nuisance, so having a way to deal with them as extra value is sweet.
    • Longstrider: An extra 10 feet of movement is noticeable, especially since this spell lasts for an hour so you can use the buff before you find yourself in a battle or travel long distances in a short time.
  • 2nd level
    • Locate Animals or Plants: Extremely situational spell. So much so that it will likely not see use in an entire campaign.
    • Locate Object: 1,000 feet isn’t a particularly wide radius but this spell will be extremely useful when it’s needed. Great for city campaigns where everything is packed in tighter together.
  • 3rd level
    • Clairvoyance: Not many situations will call for this spell but it can be useful for scouting.
    • Speak with Plants: The flavor is spot on with this spell, it just doesn’t have that many uses.
  • 4th level
    • Divination: This is best used when you’re asking about a relatively straightforward event that will happening in the near future. As with most “message from a deity” spells, it relies heavily on your DM and is intentionally vague which can impact its usefulness.
    • Locate Creature: More thorough than locate animals or plants, and can be used to find people. It’s still pretty situational.
  • 5th level

Which 5e Classes Work With Half-Orcs?

Artificer: Artificers need INT to be effective.

Barbarian: +2 STR, +1 CON, and all of the half-orc’s class features are exactly what barbarians are looking for.

Bard: No CHA for a bard. The STR and CON will be helpful for a College of Valor bard, but typically those bards are more interested in DEX.

Cleric: No WIS for clerics is tough, but some melee clerics will make great use out of the STR and CON bonuses.

Druid: No WIS or DEX for druids. The only exception to this would be Circle of the Moon Druids who can use Relentless Endurance and Savage Critical in their Wild Shape.

Fighter: +2 STR, +1 CON, and all of the half-orc’s class features are exactly what fighters are looking for.

Monk: Monks need DEX or WIS to be effective.

Paladin: Half-orcs get you a STR and CON bonus, both of which are perfect for paladins. Darkvision is nice, proficiency in Intimidation will help your face skills, Relentless Endurance is a nice bonus, and Savage Attacks is just plain savage with smite crits.

Ranger: No WIS or DEX for rangers which is typically where they want to be. However, half-orcs are a great choice for STR-based rangers.

Rogue: No DEX for a rogue. Darkvision won’t make up for the poor ability bonuses here.

Sorcerer: Sorcerers need CHA to be effective.

Warlock: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.

Wizard: Wizards need INT to be effective.

Sources Used in This Guide

  • BR: Basic Rules
  • GotG: Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants
  • SotDQ: Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
  • ERLW: Eberron: Rising from the Last War
  • EEPC: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
  • EGtW: Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
  • FToD: Fizban's Treasury of Dragon
  • GGtR: Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica
  • MotM: Monsters of the Multiverse
  • MToF: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
  • MOoT: Mythic Odyessys of Theros
  • PAitM: Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse
  • PHB: Player's Handbook
  • SAiS: Spelljammer: Adventures in Space
  • SCoC: Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos
  • SCAG: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
  • TCoE: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
  • TTP: The Tortle Package
  • WBtW: The Wild Beyond The Witchlight
  • VRGtR: Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft
  • VGtM: Volo's Guide to Monsters
  • XGtE: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. He is a Adamantine best-selling author of Strixhaven: A Syllabus of Sorcery on DMs Guild and is a contributing author at D&D Beyond. Follow Mike on Twitter.

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