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Source: Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, pg(s). 25
Half-orcs are result of orcs mating with other humanoid races. Several orc tribes actively work toward breeding half-orc children for their greater mental capabilities. These half-breeds are despised by most of the world, however, which sees them as the spawn of violence or a filthy perversion.
Half-orcs vary in appearance more than most other races, ranging from more orc-like features such as greenish skin and protruding lower tusks to near human with little more to distinguish them as half-orcs than prominent noses, jawlines and brows. Some of the offspring of orcs and human however have dominant human traits making them appear as if they were completely human. Regardless of facial appearance, virtually every half-orc has a stature far larger than that of the average human. Their hair most often is dark, favoring shades of brown, gray, or even dark red, although black is the most common. Their eyes are often small and beady, while their ears are almost always pointed.
They have existed ever since the waning days of the Age of Darkness, when orcs first appeared on the surface fleeing the migration of the dwarves during their Quest for Sky. The orcs of that age found the primitive humans a much easier target than the dwarves they had been fighting for centuries, and quickly spread throughout much of Avistan. Only after the return of the sun in the Age of Anguish did humanity slowly begin to effectively fight back against this new invader, and with the help of the other races, eventually drove the orcs back to the wild places of the world, most especially the lands now called the Hold of Belkzen. Here the orcs united under a powerful leader and created nation of sorts for themselves. It is also from here that most half-orcs today originally hale.
Most half-orcs have a generic orc heritage but, in some cases, the orc ancestry is to a specific and known type of orc resulting in distinctive features and attributes. Some of these half-orc heritages are as follows:
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Habitat and society
Half-orcs are the target of pronounced and often violent prejudice throughout much of Golarion. They are seen as the offspring of violence or perversion, and are shunned because of it. Their bestial facial features also inspire terror and revulsion in many humanoids. This is most true in the regions bordering the Hold of Belkzen, where the greatest concentration of orcs can be found, as these areas most frequently suffer under the warlike and brutal thumb of the orcs. Further south and east, half-orcs are given more benefit of the doubt, especially in Garund and the major cosmopolitan cities surrounding the Inner Sea. They are most commonly found in the city of Absalom, and in the nations of Belkzen, Katapesh, the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, Nidal, the River Kingdoms, the Shackles, and Varisia.
Being a half-orc in human-dominated society is not all bad, however. They often excel in professions where strength and intimidation are a boon, such as bodyguards, caravan guards, and enforcers.
Life in the horde
Half-orcs living in orc societies generally find that they are smarter, but considerably weaker than those around them. Because of this deficiency most are taken as slaves. Those who excel in warfare and skill at arms often find themselves reaching positions of leadership. These individuals are very rare, and only one of the many orc tribes in Belkzen is led by a half-orc: Hundrux Half-Man of the Murdered Child tribe. Others become witch doctors or shamans, masking their true nature behind elaborate masks that they must always wear.
Life in human societies
Half-orcs living in majority human societies often have a hard time fully integrating, partially because of the prejudice directed towards them, but also because of their innately savage and impulsive nature. They are also prone to impatience, greed, and violence, traits that tend to push them into the margins. Despite these tendencies, half-orcs are capable of displaying the full set of human emotions.
Tattoos and brands
Often taken as slaves or hunted as beasts (by both orcs and humans), many half-orcs display various brands and tattoos given to them by others. Some have transformed these marks of shame and subjugation into beautiful works of art, turning their painful past into a symbol of pride and survival.
Most half-orcs either grow up alone on the streets or else are raised by their orc parent, and because of this, few have human-sounding names. When humans do raise them, they most-often have harsh or guttural names, reflecting their parent's anger at having sired such an offspring.
Even though half-orcs worship a wide range of deities, most pay at least passing respect to Gorum, Lord of Battle. They do so not only because of the god's martial prowess (a skill that many half-orcs find themselves pursuing), but also his great strength, often considered a half-orc's greatest asset. They also assume that Gorum is secretly a half-orc himself, who only hides within his armor to keep the terrifying truth from his many human followers. Half-orcs who hate human civilization and (openly or secretly) wish to bring about its downfall, naturally find themselves drawn to Rovagug. They see the anarchy the god strives for as the ultimate equalizer of all peoples. Those with a more generous bent worship Cayden Cailean, drawn especially to his embrace of freedom and bravery, while others with a more sinister or morbid outlook venerate Norgorber (especially his embrace of greed and murder), and Pharasma.
For additional resources, see the Meta page.
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