Half-Orc 5e Guide

Published on September 7, 2020, Last modified on March 17th, 2021

What is this guide?

This guide is meant to give you an idea of whether or not the half-orcs will be right for your 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-orcs. 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 is an OK option
  • 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?

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.

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

Which classes are best for half-orcs?

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 Valor Bard, but typically Valor Bards are mort 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 Wildshape. 

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

Monk: No DEX for Monks.

Paladin: Half Orc’s 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. This is a great choice for Melee Rangers.

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

Sorcerer: No CHA bonuses for Sorcerers.

Warlock: No CHA bonuses for Warlock.

Wizard: No INT for Wizards.

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Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house. He is the author of Escape from Mt. Balefor and continually strives to help players and DMs have fun playing D&D. Mike specializes in character creation guides for players, homebrewed mechanics and tips for DMs, and one-shots with unique settings and scenarios.