Excerpts 03/01/2003

Races of Faerûn
by Matt Forbeck, Eric L. Boyd, Sean Reynolds, James Jacobs, Jason Carl

From the steppes of Thay to the shores of Evermeet, the inhabitants of the Realms are as distinct as the regions from which they hail, whether hero, henchman, villain, or villager. With complete information about the noteworthy races, subraces, and ethnicities scattered throughout Toril, Races of Faerûn offers a detailed look at the many and varied peoples who inhabit the Forgotten Realms game setting. Encounter reclusive avariel, arrogant Calashites, noble centaurs, and bold Rashemi . . . along with new feats, spells, magic items, and prestige classes. by James Jacobs offers a look at the gray orcs, including the orc warlord prestige class.

Gray Orc

Regions: Damara, Moonsea, Orc, Rashemen, Thesk, Vaasa, or The Vast.
Racial Feats: Daylight Adaptation, Headlong Rush.
Racial Prestige Class: Orc warlord.
Level Adjustment: +1.

The orcs of the eastern lands are concentrated in the Moonsea and Endless Wastes today, with a much smaller number scattered through the various lands that lie between. Gray orcs look less bestial than their more savage northern kin, but are still obviously nonhuman. They are somewhat hairy, with long manes of bristly hair on their heads, shoulders, and backs. Their faces are less porcine than the mountain orcs, with the exception of their tusks. They have yellow, orange, or red eyes, lupine ears, and black or gray hair. Gray orcs are more apt to wear "civilized" clothing than mountain orcs, and prefer varying shades of brown, black, blue, and other dark colors. Skin tones are usually gray with mottled patches of lighter or darker gray on the chest and flanks.

Gray orc characters have the starting age, life expectancy, and height and weight characteristics of half-orcs. See Chapter 6 of the Player's Handbook.


The lands of the East were relatively free of the orc scourge for much of Faerûn's history. Unfortunately, this all changed in

-1081 DR, when the Theurgist Adept Thayd, last surviving apprentice of the ancient Imaskari wizards, opened a fateful portal to a savage world dominated by empires of fanatically religious orcs. Thayd was executed not long after for inciting the wizards of Mulhorand and Unther into rebellion, leaving no one on Faerûn who knew of the existence of the portal. For five years, the portal remained dormant until it was discovered by the orcs, who poured through and laid siege to the nations of Mulhorand and Unther. This attack lasted for six years and became known to historians as the Orcgate Wars.

The Orcgate Wars began in -1076 DR and quickly escalated into a war of devastating proportions. Orc warriors slew thousands upon thousands, but the most terrible aspect of this army was its magical might. These orcs were much more fanatical than those of the North, and their clerics had developed amazingly powerful and deadly spells. The most potent of these magics was the ability for the orc clerics to call upon direct avatars of their deities, an ability they used often to overwhelm their enemies. The gods of Mulhorand and Unther also possessed avatars that dwelt on Faerûn, but they had expended much of their power in freeing their faithful from years of oppression under the Imaskari Empire, and were ill-prepared to defend their flock from the orc hordes. Nevertheless, the deities of these two nations opposed the orcs, who responded by calling upon avatars of their own gods. The resulting battle was the Battle of the Gods, a titanic clash of power that scarred the land. The Mulhorandi deity Re was slain by the leader of the orc pantheon, Gruumsh. Many more followed, as several powers of the Untheric pantheon were slain by the avatars of the orc gods. The orc armies and their deities were terribly weakened, despite their victory over their enemies, and two years later the shattered remnants of the Mulhorandi and Untheric pantheons rallied to defeat the orcs and their deities in -1069 DR.

So complete was the destruction of the orc horde that the gray orcs in the region have never been able to fully recover. Over the next several hundred years, the gray orcs fragmented time and time again into countless small tribes scattered throughout Thay, the Moonsea, and neighboring regions. Bitter infighting among their own kind has kept the gray orcs from returning to the power they once wielded during the Orcgate Wars.


Gray orcs are just as mean, savage, and barbaric as their northern cousins, but they lack the mountain orcs' drive to conquer and enslave. A gray orc is quite likely to react suddenly and irrationally to events, trusting to his heart and instincts more readily than logic. When presented with an opportunity to attack a hated rival, a gray orc doesn't hesitate to attack even if he has been brutally defeated dozens of times before by the same enemy.

Gray Orc Characters

The gray orcs' strength leads to the fighter and barbarian classes, and their perception and cunning also make them effective rangers.

Favored Class: Cleric. Although gray orcs are comfortable with the savage life of the barbarian, they tend to be more calm and collected than northern orcs, focusing their rage and hatred inward. This allows them to excel as clerics of the warlike orc deities.

Prestige Classes: Gray orcs don't have an immediate interest in most prestige classes, and prefer to remain with the one class they chose from the start. Many orc clerics become divine champions or divine disciples if they can meet the requirements, but few live long enough to do so.

Gray Orc Society

Gray orcs are nomads. They dwell in remote, desolate corners of northeast Faerûn and eke out a meager existence as they can, traveling along traditional migratory routes between established campsites and favorite caves as the seasons change. When resources in an area run low, a tribe moves on to greener fields.

A typical gray orc tribe consists of 30 to 50 members, led by the strongest orc in the tribe. This orc is known as a chieftain, and he is responsible for deciding when the tribe attacks its neighbors. The position tends to be a temporary one at best, for orc chieftains are constantly being killed (either in battle or through treachery) and replaced by new chieftains. The true power behind a tribe of gray orcs, though, is the tribe's high priest, who is typically an adept or cleric (often female) who has held the position for many years. The gray orcs are zealots, and the word of their tribal clerics is law. Clerics from other tribes are usually viewed as heretics, despite the fact that both tribes likely worship the same deity in the same manner.

Language and Literacy

The gray orcs speak a complex variant of the Orc tongue. Anyone who can speak Orc can understand this language, but many words, inflections, and pronunciations vary wildly between tribes and usually a period of a few days is required to sort out and get used to the idiosyncrasies of a new tribe. Gray orcs are not fond of learning new languages, but a tribe's clerics typically know Common (to interrogate captives) and Giant and Goblin (to interact with possible allies).

Gray orcs are not literate unless they have a level in a player character class other than barbarian.

Abilities and Racial Features

Gray orcs all possess the following racial traits:

  • +2 Strength, -2 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma: Gray orcs are not as strong as mountain orcs, but they tend to be much more independent and strong-willed.
  • Medium-size.
  • Gray orc land speed is 40 feet. Their gait is long and loping and they can cover great distances quickly.
  • Proficient with the greataxe and longbow; gray orcs train with weapons from childhood.
  • Light Sensitivity (Ex): Gray orcs suffer a -1 penalty on attack rolls in bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight spell.
  • Scent (Ex): Gray orcs have the scent ability, as detailed in the DUNGEON MASTER'S Guide.
  • Orc Blood: For all special abilities and effects, a gray orc is considered an orc. Gray orcs, for example, can use or create orc weapons and magic items with racially specific orc powers as if they were orcs.

Gray Orc Magic and Lore

Arcane spellcasters, while not unknown among gray orcs, are quite rare. In a society dominated by brutality and strength, there isn't much room for more academic study. Those orcs who do become arcane spellcasters are invariably loners or outcasts.

Divine spellcasters are much more common among the gray orcs. When they first invaded Faerûn during the Orcgate Wars, they possessed many unique and powerful spells, the most powerful of which was one that could conjure an avatar of the caster's deity. Since their defeat, knowledge of much of this magic has been lost, and now orc adepts and clerics focus on more common magics. Gray orcs do not often become druids.

Gray Orc Magic Items

Adepts and clerics often craft scrolls and potions to aid themselves or to bolster the strength of their tribe, but for the most part the majority of magical items found in a tribe of gray orcs consist of items stolen from the bodies of their enemies.

Gray Orc Deities

Gray orcs worship all the various orc deities equally. They acknowledge Gruumsh as the leader of the orc gods, but a typical gray orc doesn't feel bound to worship him above any other deity, and usually selects a deity that most closely aligns with that orc's particular interests and temperament. Most of the orcs of a particular tribe worship the same deity.

Relations with Other Races

The gray orcs don't get along well with anyone apart from their immediate tribe. Other orc tribes are viewed with suspicion and jealousy. Since it's assumed that another tribe has it better off than the one you belong to, orc tribes often attack each other to steal resources. They have no particular hatred for other races; gray orcs pretty much hate everyone equally. Notable exceptions are goblins and kobolds (whom the orcs often accept into their tribes as minions or slaves) and ogres (whom the orcs admire for their savage strength).

Gray Orc Equipment

Gray orcs are marginally cleaner than mountain orcs, and their equipment is kept in better shape as a result. Axes in particular are viewed as holy, and an orc takes fastidious care of his axe, sharpening it and repairing dents and tiny fractures constantly. They often keep track of their greatest kills by notching an axe's handle or inscribing names on the head of the axe. Tokens such as feathers, beads, gems, and body parts harvested from defeated enemies (fingers and ears are a favorite) often adorn an orc's axe. Gray orcs favor light armor that allows them to use their speed to best advantage.

Animals and Pets

Gray orc tribes often keep a small family of animals or beasts as guardians, but care of such creatures is held to be the responsibility of the tribe as a whole. These guardians are not typically very dangerous, since many tribes have learned the hard way that keeping something as powerful as a bulette is a good way to get the tribe eaten. Common tribe guardians include dire weasels, dire wolverines, dire boars, owlbears, and various kinds of vermin.

Blood of the Warlord [General]

You can influence a large number of orcs.

Prerequisite: Orc, base Leadership score of 10+.

Benefit: You are seen as a king among kings and a natural leader of orcs. You gain a +2 bonus on all Diplomacy and Intimidate checks made to influence orcs. Additionally, as long as you are visibly leading them, all your followers gain a +1 morale bonus on their attack rolls and Will saving throws.

Headlong Rush [Fighter, General]

You charge your foes with immense force, heedless of your own safety.

Prerequisite: Orc or half-orc, base attack bonus +4 or higher.

Benefit: Instead of a normal charge attack, you can perform a headlong rush. A headlong rush is a charge that provokes attacks of opportunity from every foe who can reach its path, including the opponent you attack. A headlong rush otherwise functions like a charge attack (+2 attack, -2 AC, straight-line movement only), except that a successful attack deals double damage.

Might Makes Right [General]

Your great strength draws more followers.

Prerequisites: Str 13, Leadership.

Benefit: Add your Strength bonus to your leadership score for the purposes of determining how many followers you may have with the Leadership feat.

Orc Warlord

The orc warlord is a savage general of an unruly army, the leader of one of the deadly and all too common orc hordes that rampage down from the Spine of the World to savage and brutalize the civilized lands of Faerûn. An orc warlord is an imposing figure, often slathered with scars both ritualistic and all too real in origin.

Barbarians and fighter/barbarians are the best suited to become orc warlords, as they already excel in battle and often attract large armies on their own. Barbarian/clerics sometimes become orc warlords to better lead their followers into religious wars. Orc barbarian/rangers and barbarian/rogues usually operate alone, although it is not unknown for one of these to become a warlord in desperate times. Perhaps the most potent of orc warlords, though, is the barbarian/bard; his natural abilities to handle large groups and inspire greatness stack quite well with the abilities granted by this prestige class.

An NPC orc warlord is usually encountered on the field of battle, commanding his horde of orcs. Between attacks, an orc warlord can be found back in his lair training his troops for the next attack, be it in a month or a decade or even farther into the future.

Hit Die: d12.


To qualify to become an orc warlord, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

Race: Orc or half-orc.
Base Attack Bonus: +5.
Alignment: Any nongood.
Skills: Intimidate 8 ranks, Ride 5 ranks, Survival 5 ranks.
Feats: Blood of the Warlord or Might Makes Right, Leadership.
Special: Barbarian rage ability.

Class Skills

The orc warlord's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Listen (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), and Survival (5 ranks).

Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Table A-11: The Orc Warlord


1st +1 +2 +0 +2 Gather horde x 150%
2nd +2 +3 +0 +3 Inspire courage
3rd +3 +3 +1 +3 Gather horde x 200%
4th +4 +4 +1 +4
5th +5 +4 +1 +4 Final rage

Class Features

All the following are class features of the orc warlord prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Orc warlords gain no proficiency with any weapons, armor, or shields.

Gather Horde (Ex): An orc warlord can maintain a larger force of orc followers than a comparable leader could of other creatures. When determining the number of followers allowed for a warlord, multiply the amount listed in Table 2-25: Leadership in the Dungeon Master's Guide by the listed value. These additional forces must be orcs. For example, a character with a leadership score of 15 could normally have up to twenty 1st-level, two 2nd-level, and one 3rd-level followers. A 1st-level orc warlord could have thirty 1st-level, three 2nd-level, and one 3rd-level followers, as long as at least ten of the 1st-level and one of the 2nd-level followers were orcs. A 3rd-level orc warlord could have forty 1st-level, four 2nd-level, and two 3rd-level followers, so long as half of them were orcs.

Inspire Courage (Su): At 2nd level, the orc warlord gains the ability to inspire courage, which has the same effect as the bardic ability of the same name. The warlord makes an inspirational speech, bolstering his allies against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally must hear the warlord speak for a full round. The effect lasts as long as the warlord speaks and for 5 rounds after the warlord stops speaking (or 5 rounds after the ally can no longer hear the warlord). While speaking, the warlord can fight but cannot cast spells, activate magic items by spell completion (such as scrolls), or activate magic items by command word. Affected allies receive a +2 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 morale bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. A warlord in the midst of a rage can use this ability, but in those cases the warlord's speech is more of a rant of howls and curses than a true speech.

Final Rage (Ex): At 5th level, the warlord gains the ability to incite a rage in all his nearby allies for one last phenomenal attack. Any allies within ten feet of the warlord (including the warlord himself) immediately enter a rage, even if they could not normally do so or have used all their own rage ability for the day. If the warlord or an ally is already in a rage at the time or is capable of a greater rage, the affected creatures enter a greater rage instead (if an affected creature is already in a greater rage, this ability has no additional effect). This rage (or increase to greater rage) lasts until the warlord's next turn, and all penalties for leaving a rage apply (for example, the creatures are fatigued, and if already fatigued they become exhausted). Invoking the final rage is a free action.

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