AskDefine | Define orc

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A monstrous humanoid creature, semi-intelligent and usually aggressive.


Extensive Definition

Orc (OR'k) is a word used to refer to a race of various tough and warlike humanoid creatures in various fantasy settings, appearing originally in the stories of Middle-earth written by J. R. R. Tolkien and derivative fictions. Orcs are often portrayed as misshapen humanoids with brutal, warmongering, sadistic, yet cowardly tendencies, although some settings and writers describe them as a proud warrior race with a strong sense of honor. They are variously portrayed as physically stronger or weaker than humans, but always high in numbers. They often ride wolves or wargs. In many role-playing and computer games, though not in Tolkien's works, Orcs have green skin (earning the name "Greenskins" in such games)..

Etymology of the word "orc"

The modern use of the English word "orc" to denote a race of evil, humanoid creatures begins with J. R. R. Tolkien.
Tolkien's earliest elvish dictionaries include the entry "Ork (orq-) monster, ogre, demon" together with "orqindi ogresse." Tolkien sometimes used the plural form orqui in his early texts.
Tolkien sometimes, particularly in The Hobbit, used the word "goblin" instead of "orc" to describe the same type of creature, with the smaller cave-dwelling variety that lived in the Misty Mountains being referred to as "goblin" and the larger ones elsewhere referred to as "orcs". Later in his life he expressed an intention to change the spelling of "orc" to "ork" in The Silmarillion but the only place where that spelling surfaced in his lifetime was in the published version of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, in the poem Bombadil Goes Boating ("I'll call the orks on you: that'll send you running!"). In the posthumously published Silmarillion, the spelling "orcs" was retained.

Old English influence

Tolkien's own statements about the real-world origins of his use of the word "orc" are as follows:
  • "the word is, as far as I am concerned, actually derived from Old English orc 'demon', but only because of its phonetic suitability"
  • "I originally took the word from Old English orc (Beowulf 112 orc-neas and the gloss orc = þyrs ('ogre'), heldeofol ('hell-devil')). This is supposed not to be connected with modern English orc, ork, a name applied to various sea-beasts of the dolphin order."
  • "The word used in translation of Q urko, S orch is Orc. But that is because of the similarity of the ancient English word orc, 'evil spirit or bogey', to the Elvish words. There is possibly no connection between them. The English word is now generally supposed to be derived from Latin Orcus."
  • "Orc I derived from Anglo-Saxon, a word meaning demon, usually supposed to be derived from the Latin Orcus -- Hell. But I doubt this, though the matter is too involved to set out here".
The word *orcné (attested in the plural orcnéas) is a hapax legomenon in the poem Beowulf. It is generally supposed to contain an element -né, cognate to Gothic naus and Old Norse nár, both meaning "corpse". The usual Old English word for "corpse" is líc, but -né appears in dryhtné "dead body of a warrior", where dryht is the name of a military unit (vaguely translated "band", "host", etc.). In *orcné, if it is to be glossed as "orcus-corpse" the meaning may be "corpse from Orcus (i.e. the underworld)" or "devil-corpse", understood as some sort of walking dead. This etymology is plausible, but remains conjectural. The word orc appears in two other locations in Beowulf, but in both cases refers to cups of precious metal found in a treasure-hoard.
Old English þyrs, given as a gloss for Latin orcus, is cognate to Old Norse þurs "giant, ogre" (both from Common Germanic *thurisaz, in Norse mythology referring to one of the monstrous descendants of the giant Ymir. But it is to be noted in connection with Tolkien's reference to a gloss orc=þyrs that while there is an entry in an 11th century English glossary which implies such an equivalence ("[Latin] orcus [Old English] orc þyrs oððe heldeofol", this is in fact a conflation of two glosses in an earlier glossary of the 7th century, found in two different places, namely: "[Latin] orcus [Old English] orc" and "[Latin] orcus [Old English] þyrs oððe heldiubol." The first of these two glosses is in a section devoted to household implements, and orcus is, in that place, a corruption of Latin urceus "jug, pitcher" or of orca "pot, jar". The word orc in these glosses only has the meaning "cup"; it is descended from an early Germanic borrowing from urceus, related to Gothic aurkeis "cup".
Tolkien's assumption that orc and þyrs had the same meaning was therefore an error, though one shared for several decades by other scholars, as it had entered into some commonly-used dictionaries of Old English (e.g. Bosworth and Toller's "An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary" (1898), corrected in later editions).

Early modern usage

As far as what otherwise might have influenced Tolkien, the OED lists a 1656 use (see below) of an English word ‘orke’ in a way reminiscent of giants, ogres and the like. It is presumed that such usage (orke=ogre) came into English via fairy tales from the continent, especially from Charles Perrault (17th cent. France), who himself borrowed most of his stories (and developed his 'ogre') from the 16th century Italian writers Giovanni Francesco Straparola and Giambattista Basile. (Straparola [c. 1440–c. 1557] has been credited with introducing to Europe the literary form of the 'fairy tale'.)
Basile (d. 1632) wrote in the Naples dialect (though Naples was, at that time, controlled by Spain), claiming simply to be passing on oral folktales from his region that he'd collected over the years. In at least a dozen or more tales, Basile used 'huorco' (or 'huerco', 'uerco') which is the Neapolitan form of ‘orco’ [modern It. ‘giant’, 'monster'] to describe a large, speaking, mannish beast (hairy and tusked) that lived away in a dark forest or garden, and that might be evil (capturing/eating humans), indifferent or even benevolent — all depending on the tale. (See especially his tales Peruonto and Lo Cuento dell'Uerco.)
But the 1656 English use of 'orke' (forty-one years before Perrault published his Mother Goose tales) comes from a fairy-tale by Samuel Holland entitled Don Zara, which is a pastiche and parody of fantastical Spanish romances like Don Quixote, and presumably is populated by beasts and monsters common to them. (Note: Straparola was translated into Spanish in 1583. Independent of this, there is in Spain to this day the folktale of the ‘huerco’ or ‘güercu’, which is a harbinger of impending death; a shade in the form of the person about to die.)
From under the OED entry ‘orc’:
  • 1605 J. SYLVESTER tr. G. de S. Du Bartas Deuine Weekes & Wks. (II. i. 337) “Insatiate Orque, that euen at one repast, Almost all creatures in the World would waste.” [seeming ‘orca’ usage]
  • 1656 S. HOLLAND Don Zara (I. i. 6) “Who at one stroke didst pare away three heads from off the shoulders of an Orke, begotten by an Incubus.” [seeming ‘ogre’ usage]
  • 1854 Putnam's Monthly Mag. (Oct. 380/1) “The elves and the nickers, the orcs and the giants." [usage unclear]
  • 1865 C. KINGSLEY Hereward (I. i. 71) “But beyond, things unspeakable — dragons, giants, rocs, orcs, witch-whales … ” [usage unclear]
Whether 'orke', 'ogre', 'huerco' or 'orco', the word ultimately comes from Latin Orcus, the name of the Roman god of Death, a demonic/grim reaper-esque figure (not to be confused with Pluto the god of the underworld), and has apparently descended by several stages through the meanings "underworld, hell", "devil", "evil creature" and at last "ogre". Note that Tolkien and the lexicons he used also attributed the origin of the doubtful Old English orc to Orcus, and that in one of his invented languages the word for "orc" also had the form orco.
Words derived from or related to Italian orco are fairly common in Mediterranean countries; in addition to Italian dialectal uerco, huerco and huorco and Spanish güercu, there is also Tyrolean ork which may be either a house gnome or a mountain spirit that acts as protector of wildlife []. Such creatures have little in common with Tolkien's orcs.
Tolkien, being born in 1892, would certainly have been exposed to the Mother Goose tales and the like. Whether he ever read Straparola, Basile or even Holland's Don Zara is unknown. Whatever the case, he certainly would have come across creatures (orkes and ogres) descended etymologically from L. ‘Orcus’, and not just in Beowulf – though that earliest image seems to be the one that most ‘stuck’ in his mind.
Tolkien explicitly denied any intended connection between his "orc" and the other existing English word orc, referring to the killer whale (Orcinus orca), the grampus and other cetaceans. This is a borrowing from Latin orca (used by Pliny to refer to some kind of whale, quite likely Orcinus orca).
For more on Tolkien's invented etymology of the word "orc", see Tolkien's Orcs below.

Similar words of distinct origin

The use of the word "orc" in any of its monstrous senses should not be confused with various other words that have a superficial resemblance, including Gaelic orc (a Goidelic form of Proto-Indo-European *porkos "young pig") and Norse ørkn meaning "seal"

Tolkien's Orcs

The humanoid, non-maritime race of Orcs that exists in Middle-earth is J. R. R. Tolkien's invention. The term 'Orc' is usually capitalised in Tolkien's writing, but not necessarily in other sources. In Tolkien's writing, Orcs are of human shape, but smaller than Men, ugly, filthy, with a taste for manflesh. In a private letter, Tolkien describes them as "squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes". They are portrayed as miserable, crafty and vicious beings.
Orcs are first described in The Tale of Tinúviel as "foul broodlings of Melko [sic] who fared abroad doing his evil work". In The Fall of Gondolin Tolkien wrote that "all that race were bred by Melko of the subterranean heats and slime. Their hearts were of granite and their bodies deformed; foul their faces which smiled not, but their laugh that of the clash of metal, and to nothing were they more fain than to aid in the basest of the purposes of Melko."
Orcs eat all manner of flesh, including human. In Chapter II of The Two Towers, Grishnákh, an Orc from Mordor, claims that the Isengard Orcs eat Orc-flesh, but whether that is true or a statement spoken in malice is uncertain; what does seem certain is that, true or false, the Orcs resent that description. However, knowing what they are like and from later events, it seems likely that Orcs do eat other Orcs. Later in The Two Towers, Merry and Pippin are presented with meat by an orc after a fight occurred in which the Uruk-hai killed several orcs; the narration is vague as to what species the flesh belongs to. Tolkien also describes them as bow-legged. They fight with ferocity (so long as a guiding 'will' [e.g., Morgoth or Sauron] compels/directs them). In some places, Tolkien describes Orcs as mainly being battle fodder (Cf. The Battles of the Fords of Isen). Orcs are used as soldiers by both the greater and lesser villains of The Lord of the Rings — Sauron and Saruman.
In some versions of his stories, Tolkien conceived Orcs to be Elves, enslaved by Morgoth, broken and twisted into his evil soldiers. Other versions (including notes made both early and late in Tolkien's life) have Orcs as 'parodies' or false-creations of Morgoth's that are animated solely by his evil will (or, perhaps, by his own essence diffused into each), and made intentionally to mock or spite Eru Ilúvatar's creations — the Eldar and Edain.
Tolkien also "suggested" that Men were cross-bred with Orcs under Morgoth's lieutenant, Sauron (and possibly under Morgoth himself). The fierce black orcs known as Uruk-Hai were created in this way. The process was later repeated during the War of the Ring by Saruman, enabling him to create the "fighting" Uruk-Hai.
When writing The Hobbit, Tolkien carried over the concept of the "orc" that he had developed in writing early versions of The Silmarillion, just as he carried over references to Elves, Gondolin, and other elements of the Silmarillion. In The Hobbit, however, he mostly used the word 'goblin' for these creatures, though the word "orc" occasionally appears: e.g. when Gandalf describes the Grey Mountains as being "simply stiff with goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs of the worst description". In The Lord of the Rings, "Orc" is used predominantly to describe such creatures, and the use of the term "goblin" seems restricted to use by the Hobbits, though the term is used by others and applied to the advanced Uruk-hai. In The Two Towers and The Return of the King, Saruman bred his own "modified" Uruk-hai. These were larger and much stronger, and could resist the sunlight. Within Tolkien's invented languages, the Elvish words for "orc" are derived from a root ruk referring to fear and horror, from which is derived an expanded form of the root, uruk. A noun *uruku is produced from the extended root. This eventually turns into Quenya urco, plural urqui. A related word *urkō produces Sindarin orch, plural yrch. The Quenya words are said to be less specific in meaning than the Sindarin, meaning "bogey". For the specific creatures called yrch by the Sindar, the Quenya word orco, with plurals orcor and orqui, was created.
These orcs had similar names in other languages of Middle-earth: in Orkish uruk (restricted to the larger soldier-orcs), in the language of the Drúedain gorgûn, in Khuzdul rukhs, plural rakhâs, and in the language of Rohan and in the Common Speech orc.

Orcs in other fantasy works

In Letter #210, Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". Since the publication of Tolkien's epic novel, The Lord of the Rings, creatures called "orcs" have become a fixture of fantasy fiction and role-playing games. In these derivative sources, orcs and goblins are usually considered distinct races of goblinoids. For some time they were often depicted with pig-like faces, although there is no such description in Tolkien's work. A possible explanation of this is the coincidence with Irish orc (cognate of English pork) that means 'swine'. An alternative theory is that they were often depicted as pig-like due to the tusked and pig-like description of the orco (ogre) in Canto 17 of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso. (The orco is, of course, described as pig-like because it gave Ariosto a chance to rhyme orco with porco "pig".)
In the 1980s another orc archetype was introduced by the table-top miniature war games Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000; a heavily-muscled, green-skinned barbarian with exaggerated tusks, brow, and lower jaw whose personality is not so much evil as crudely thuggish, often to a comical degree. This style of orc has since become popular in a vast number of fantasy settings and games, including a signature of the Warcraft series of computer games and spin-offs.

Dungeons & Dragons

For orcs in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, see Orc (Dungeons & Dragons).


Main articles: Orc (Warhammer) and Ork (Warhammer 40,000)
Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 games feature Orcs as well (spelled Orks in Warhammer 40,000). The latter setting is unique for featuring Orks in a science fiction environment, capable of building crude, but functional vehicles, firearms and even spaceships. Anatomically, Warhammer Orcs are no taller, unless when standing up straight instead of slouching, but substantially broader than humans, with short legs and long arms much like an ape. They have massive heads which come directly forward on their necks, giving them a stooping appearance. They have tough thick green skin which is highly resistant to pain. Warhammer Orcs aren't very smart, but can be cunning at times. They are extremely warlike and the whole society is geared towards constant warfare. The constant need to fight is the expression of Orc culture, a fact that keeps the Orcs from forming anything but temporary alliances with each other. In combat they can transform even the most common object into a lethal killing instrument. Orcs tend to ally with Goblins (called Gretchin in Warhammer 40,000) and Snotlings, but their alliance is more of a matter of the Orcs bullying their smaller Goblinoid (Orkoid in Warhammer 40,000) cousins into being everything from servants, to Human (Goblin) shields, to an emergency food source. They worship a pair of gods known as Gork and Mork (other gods were included in earlier editions of the game, but are no longer included), one of which is described as brutally cunning, and the other as cunningly brutal, though the orcs themselves do not seem to know which is which.


In the Warcraft computer game series Orcs are depicted as more ethically and socially complex than in most renditions. The great Orcish race is a savage but noble society made of shamanistic and fierce warriors. Their race came from the world of Draenor, and were corrupted by a demonic force known as the Burning Legion, as the Legion saw that they could make a most fierce and savage army. Under the Legion's influence, the Orcish Horde slaughtered the Draenei, who consequently fled from Draenor to escape the Legion, and then were led to the world of Azeroth. After two devastating wars, the Orcs were finally defeated on Azeroth and rounded up into internment camps. They remained there until a young Orc named Thrall, who was raised by humans, rallied them together, freed the Horde from their demonic taint, and helped return them to their shamanistic roots.
Warcraft Orcs are humanoid, but prodigiously muscled and green with broad noses and distinctive tusked mouths. Male orcs are significantly larger than humans, around 6 and a half feet tall when standing straight. Females are slightly larger than a human female, and while much more slender than their male counterparts, they are nonetheless well-muscled. Female orcs' tusks are very small to nearly nonexistent, arguably more exaggerated canines than tusks. Orc warriors are characterized by wearing scant armor with horned helmets and wielding axes as weapons. Warcraft is one of the few settings in which Orcs are not inherently evil, and, after significant plot developments in the latest Warcraft games, can even be heroic. One could consider the orcs unfairly treated by humans and not only misunderstood, but vilified. The humans' (of which were already somewhat xenophobic) enmity and prejudice towards the Orcs can be traced back to the first and second invasions, and could be fully justified, as it was orcs under the control of the Burning Legion that invaded.
Their political standpoint in the Warcraft universe is set as the leading race of the Horde, an association of races made to help their mutual survival. Trolls, a similar species in the game, live in the same area as the orcs in World of Warcraft — bringing many similarities between them besides the differences of their origins and body type.

Final Fantasy XI

In the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI, the Orcs are a tribe of Beastmen. Though the Orcish Empire lies far to the north, its advance forces have two large strongholds near the city of San d'Oria: the Davoi Monastery and Fort Ghelsba. The Orcs frequently launch small missions out of their strongholds, and they practically control Jugner Forest and Ronfaure. Personality-wise, they follow the same pattern as many fantasy Orcs: brutish, savage and slow witted. Their entire culture is centred on violence; service in the Orcish military is mandatory for both males and females, and social standing is determined by military rank. The Orcs formerly occupied a sacred garden in Ronfaure which was destroyed as the San d’Orian Empire expanded during the Age of Power, adding to their already fierce hatred of the peoples of Vana'diel. The San d'Orian cathedral teaches that during the Age of Darkness, the Orcs (and other beastmen) were constructed by the god Promathia to constantly battle with the human(oid)s of Vana'diel, adding to the distance between most people and beastmen. However, the truth of the origin of the races is lost to history. Orcs have a variety of classes...Warrior, Black Mage, Thief, White Mage, Ranger.

The Elder Scrolls series

The Orcs of the Elder Scrolls are generally depicted as of similar stature and build as large humans. Their culture produces proud, but often dull-witted, warriors (although some have demonstrated exceptional intelligence). They have bestial faces, with piggish, upturned noses and often with tusks. The female Orcs appear slightly more human, but also have a trace of the bestiality in their features. Until the events of Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, Orcs were rampaging monsters hunted by the other races. Their leader, Gortwog, tired of their nomadic lives and outlaw nature, used Numidium to found the city Nova Orsinium (New Orc Town, a mixture of Cyrodiilic and Aldmeris etymology), winning his race recognition (if not quite respect) as citizens of the Empire. Though some orcs have turned to this new way of life, many are still outlaws. Orcs have gendered-patronymic surnames, being either Gro-patronym for males or Gra-patronym for females. The main idea that separates the Elder Scroll Orcs from other fantasy series is that in the Elder Scrolls series, Orcs are accepted beings, and are not associated with evil. The true name of the Orcs in the Elder Scrolls is the Orsimer and, in a situation somewhat similar to Tolkien's universe, they are increasingly seen as an offshoot of the Elven races. Like the Orcs of Warcraft, the Elder Scroll Orcs suffer prejudice and have been (insultingly) refered to as "Pig-Children". The Orcs live alongside other races of the Tamerielic Empire such as the Argonians, Bretons, the Dunmer, the Altmer, Imperials, Khajiit, the Nords, Redguard, and the Bosmer.

Lineage II

In Korean MMORPG Lineage II, orcs are one of the 5 races you can choose when creating a new character. The Orc race is the race of fire, so they worship a god of fire, Paagrio. Orcs live in the land of Elmore, where they have been banished after they were defeated by the human-elf alliance. Orcs have the second greatest physical strength and the fastest recovery rate. They have natural resistances for various negative effects, such as poison or sickness. They also have the fastest health and mana regain. However, they lack in accuracy, evasion, speed and casting speed. Orcs are now slowly preparing to take the command of Aden once again, after they were defeated the last time. They live for war and for pride.
The orcs in this game have stylized hair (mostly braided or tied) and heavily muscled bodies. Although they are not as exaggerated as the WH orcs, they still have fangs, but with more sexual appeal.


In the Hârn universal fantasy role-playing setting (and the distinct subsequently developed game system) created by N. Robin Crossby and published by Columbia Games, orcs are called Gargûn. While loosely derived from the Middle-earth legendarium, they have a distinct morphology and life-cycle similar to the naked mole rat. There are five distinct species of Gargun, none of whom can interbreed. They are squat, hairy, nasty, brutish, and short creatures. Some species are subterranean, while others can be found above ground in roving bands. One of the larger species is the Gargu-Khanu. Gargu-Khanu are often found in mixed-species colonies where they are overlords of the smaller vassal species, controlling access to the singular breeding queen of the other species as well as their own.

Earthdawn and Shadowrun

In the fantasy role-playing games Earthdawn and Shadowrun, orks are, in contrast to the common fantasy Orc, neither inherently good nor evil. In Earthdawn they have their place among the other name-giving races: Humans, dwarfs, elves, obsidimen, t'skrang, trolls, and windlings. In Shadowrun, orks are just one race among others on Earth in the years past 2050. They emerged during the Unexplained Genetic Expression in the year 2021 as either young humans changed to orks or ones born as orks from human parents. They are categorized as homo sapiens robustus, and are considered metahumans, like trolls, elves, and dwarfs. Orks are able to interbreed with humans and fellow metahumans. Despite this, their offspring will be of the race of only one of their parents. No half-breeds exist. They grow much faster than humans, reach maturity at the age of 12, and give birth to a litter of about four children, though six to eight are not uncommon. Their average life-expectancy is about 35 to 40 years. They are physically larger and stronger than humans. Their mental capacities are considered slightly inferior on average to humans, though they are still not as dull as the average troll.

Sovereign Stone Series

In the Sovereign Stone Trilogy, Orks' are a seafaring people, and with Humans, Elves, Dwarves and Lizardmen, one of the five great species that rule the land. They are very superstitious, believing in even the slightest omen. They are aligned to the element of water and their leader, The Captain of Captains, possesses one fifth of the prized Sovereign Stone as well as being a Dominion Lord.

The Killing Spirit

The Killing Spirit, a fantasy novel written by Sean-Michael Argo, engages the race of orcs from their own perspective. The orcs are presented as being the creations of a race of gods, called the Sheul. While similar to the Middle-earth legendarium, the orcs are divided into two groups. The first group are swarthy and stooped, living in clans on the coasts and mainland. The other group are tall and proud tribal warriors of dark forests and frozen mountains. The orcish women live in communal huts and choose mates based on perceived 'supremacy'. Unlike other fantasy settings, the orcs of this setting are portrayed as being highly intelligent and able to use magic, though have a brutish language that combines with their violent tendencies to create the illusion of simplicity. A unique element is that they are able to use magic to transform themselves into eldritch berzerkers, which they call the Gor-Angir, or 'the killing spirit'.

The Three Towns

In the fantasy realm of the Three Towns the orcs are a vile race of strong, squat, furry humaniods in league with the iron brotherhood (an evil race of men). The orcs originate in the foothills of mount drassa, and have crossbred with many of the native human barbarians there, it is speculated that their crossbreeding with the race of giants has created the ogres, but this is not explained in enough detail to know for certain. The orcs pillage the Three Towns in order to accumulate enough sacrifices to revive their blood god.


In Utopia, a web-based tactic game, Orcs are one of the 8 races. In Utopia, Orcs are known for good offensive abilities and weak capabilities in the art of magic and thievery. They are a destructive and evil race by description. In the real game, there are no good or evil races. There is no visual description of Orcs in Utopia because of the non-visual, text based nature of the game.
As of the "Age of Bravery" (36th age), orcs have been changed. They are now apart of only 6 races. They have gained the ability to spread the plague (an ability formerly owned solely by the now non-existent race of the undead). The orc's strong offensive capabilities have remained, but the hinderance to magic and thievery have been removed, and have been replaced by the disabilities of no benefit from honor and less effective sciences.

Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

In Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, orcs are descended from early humans, although they were popularly considered a monstrous race before the Industrial Revolution. They generally look like savage parodies of humans. Orcs are strong and hardy but live short life spans. Before the Industrial Revolution, they were nomads who lived off the land and occasionally off of people unlucky enough to travel near them. As time passes, more orcs move to cities, where their strength and stamina make them ideal factory workers. Although they are considered intellectually inferior, their lack of brain power may be the result of their poor upbringing and educational opportunities; people of orcish descent who receive the opportunity to reach their full potential prove to be as able-minded as humans.


Orkworld is a role-playing game which attempts to develop orcs as a complete and viable culture. The Orkworld version operates in a matriarchal society with very strong communal ties. They are attempting to hold off genocidal humans, elves, and dwarves.

Magic: The Gathering

In the CCG Magic:The Gathering, Orcs are portrayed as generally cowardly warriors who relied extensively on the smaller, less intelligent Goblins when waging warfare. Very few creatures of the "Orc" type were printed, most of which appeared in the Fallen Empires and Ice Age expansion sets. While Orcs were reprinted in more recent core sets, they never appeared in any subsequent expansion sets until Coldsnap. Coldsnap, however, introduces more Orc cards, along with a legendary Orc Shaman: Sek'kuar, Deathkeeper.


In the Steve Jackson card game Munchkin, Orcs are introduced into the game in the expansion set Munchkin 2: Unnatural axe. They are shown as a darker skinned, snaggle toothed race that garb themselves in loincloths and other "barbaric" customary items.


In the strategy game series Disciples, Orcs are the dominant race of the "greenskin" species, which also includes various goblins, trolls, ogres, and cyclopes. It is to be noted that there are two strains of orcs: "small mouth" types, which appear to be constitute a lower caste, and "large mouth" types, which are dominant, being stronger and better-equipped. Orc Kings may be of a still different strain, being bulkier. Although they are the most intelligent, and therefore ruling, race of all greenskins, they live in disorganized tribal societies, and although they are sometimes hired as mercenaries, they are usually considered no more than a nuisance by more civilised races.

Siege of Avalon

The role-playing game Siege of Avalon features a race of human-orc hybrids called Sha'ahoul. They are a race of nomads, whose beliefs forbid them from farming or building. When they discover human kingdoms (who do both), they form a unified horde and declare war on humans. Most of the Sha'ahoul look similar to the Warhammer orcs — large, stocky, filled with bloodlust, etc. There is a caste, however, who look very much like the humans of the Seven Kingdoms and are adept at magical arts. Their more brutish cousins prefer weapons to magic, but the leader of the Sha'ahoul horde understands the need for magic against the powerful wizards of the kingdoms. While their beliefs forbid them from building structures on the ground, the Sha'ahoul can still build primitive warships, which they use to set up blockades against human supply ships.


The Fallout series of games featured a race of Super Mutants, who physically and mentally resembled fantasy Orcs (big, green, ugly, not too bright, etc.). These Super Mutants are quite adept at using advanced weapons like plasma rifles and laser chainguns.

Palladium Fantasy

In the Palladium Fantasy Role-playing Game, orcs are a race of stupid, but strong, humanoids who may be descended from faeries. They are frequently the pawns of more powerful creatures, especially ogres, trolls, and breeds of giants, as they tend to respect strength (be it physical or magical). They have very strong family ties, however.


In Flintloque, a fantasy wargame based on the Napoleonic Wars Orcs come from Albion and Guinelia, representing the English and Irish, specifically. They have similar cultures to their real world counterparts at that time.


In the fantasy world of Ciredaun, Orcs are a the result of Ogre-Elf crossbreeding.

Orcish music

The Swedish music group Za Frûmi started making music inspired by orcs in the year 2000. Since then 2 CDs been released in their orcish tale. Speech in the music is in black speech. The debut CD is called Za Shum Ushatar Uglakh, which means "the great warrior Uglakh".

Gothic Trilogy

In the Gothic Role-playing Games, the orcs are in a war with the humans from the Kingdom of Myrtana. The only weapon Myrtana has against the Orcs is a magical Ore, found in the mines of the isle Khorinis, which is where the orcs originate.
The band 3 Inches of Blood has a song called "Destroy the Orcs"
The French Zeuhl band Magma released two songs about orcs: "Soleil d'Ork" (from the album Udu Wudu) and "Ork Alarm" (from the album Kohntarkosz).

Ragnarok Online

A place called Orc village is filled with orcs. This village is located near Geffen and accessible via a kafra from Prontera. The orcs are of different kinds, namely orc ladies, orc warriors, high orcs, orc archers, orc lord and orc hero. The last two are Boss Monsters, capable of summoning other lesser orcs to fight for them. Underneath the village, a dungeon is located. The dungeon is filled with undead orcs such as orc zombies, orc skeleton and zenorcs. They are also located in the Clock Tower dungeon of Al de Baran, namely in the form of High Orcs and Orc Archers.


Orks are a species of savage and brutal warriors, who were the favourites of the god Bandos in the Third Age godwars. They are found as non-attackable NPCs in Zanaris, though they are a fightable and high-levelled opponent in the God Wars Dungeon. Hobgoblins are mentioned as being a cross between Goblins and Orks. Unlike Goblins however, Orks are represented as being more brutish, and there is no record of them serving as footsoldiers to any other god but Bandos, whereas the Goblins fought in many different armies. These diffeent armies were made up of different tribes. Some of them were also non-violent orcs.

Orc Maker

For a virtual world, it is possible to imagine how one would look like if he/she was an Orc. There is a free online generator of Orc's lookalikes from an uploaded photograph.

Dominic Deegan

In Dominic Deegan, the Orcs are a warrior species with heavy Native American influences. Like orcs in other fantasy works, their race is at odds with the humans (the Callanians in particular), and they are the subject of much prejudice. In appearance, they look near identical to humans except for their protruding tusks, green skin and their general hair style. Interestingly enough, these orcs are in fact herbivores. In one strip, a food drive was held for the orcs (their homeland of Maltak had just been destroyed), and one kid insisted on donating beef jerky. Cassafin Sunderliss (who was in charge of the food drive) gave Melna Durnaxe (one of the orcs) a "fiver" to eat the jerky to prove her right. Melna soon blew chunks all over the kid trying to stubbornly donate the beef jerky.

Knight Online

A fantasy MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) where the Orcs inhabiting Luferson Castle are at war with the Humans of El Morad. The Orcs can be male or female. The Orcs have 3 different classes, Arch Taurek (Warriors), Taurek (Priest/Rogue), and Wrinkle Taurek (Mage). Arch Taurek are large in stature and can only be Warrior class. Taurek are average size orcs, but larger than their human counter-parts. Taurek are capable of being Priests or Rogues. Wrinkle Taurek are a diminutive class of orcs with higher brain size, lending themselves to the Mage class. Female Orcs may only be Taurek priests or Wrinkle Taurek Mages.

Might and Magic

In the Might and Magic franchise, in the Kreegan universe, orcs are variously portrayed as orange, green, or brown. In Heroes of Might and Magic, they are associated with the Barbarian faction.
In Ashan, the orcs are orange, extremely muscular humans, created by wizards by fusing demon blood with human flesh for use as shock troops against a demon invasion. In Dark Messiah, a player spends a significant amount of time facing members of the Redskull Clan, a group of orcs living on an island important to the plot. They are led by a shaman (which a conversation between two orcs implies to be a popularly-elected position), and make references to worshiping an unnamed fire goddess. In Tribes of the East, the mainland orcs are modeled after the Mongols, are led by a khan, and worship a personified Father Sky.


See also

External links

orc in Bosnian: Orci (Gospodar prstenova)
orc in Bulgarian: Орк
orc in Catalan: Orc
orc in Czech: Orc
orc in Danish: Ork
orc in German: Ork
orc in Spanish: Orco
orc in Esperanto: Orko (Mez-Tero)
orc in French: Orque (créature)
orc in Galician: Orco
orc in Korean: 오크
orc in Indonesian: Orc
orc in Italian: Orco (fantasy)
orc in Hebrew: אורק
orc in Latvian: Orki
orc in Hungarian: Orkok
orc in Dutch: Ork
orc in Japanese: オーク (架空の生物)
orc in Norwegian: Ork
orc in Occitan (post 1500): Òrc
orc in Polish: Ork
orc in Portuguese: Orc
orc in Romanian: Orc
orc in Russian: Орки
orc in Slovak: Ohyzd
orc in Finnish: Örkki
orc in Swedish: Orch
orc in Tamil: ஓர்க்
orc in Chinese: 半獸人
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