Half-orcs have long been the object of derision and hatred. While many orc tribes value the weaker half-breeds for their natural cunning, and in fact conduct raids into human lands specifically to breed more intelligent leaders, humans and most other races see half-orcs as unfortunate and unwanted progeny born of violence or perversion, a repulsive mix of two lines that should not cross. Half-orcs’ inner conflicts make them prone to cruelty and loneliness, with ferocious tempers and burning desire to survive—traits that serve them well as guards, gladiators, or adventurers.
Half-orcs have existed on Golarion since the first battles between orcs and humans in the dying days of the Age of Darkness. After ages fighting against dwarves, orcs found humanity to be easier prey because of their unfamiliarity with orc tactics and the race’s fractured state during that time. Orcs ravaged central and northern Avistan for centuries before humanity—emboldened by the sun’s return and new alliances with dwarves, gnomes, and other new races to the world—cast their orc masters from their gruesome thrones, shattered their kingdoms, and drove them into the desolate wilds.
The deep interior of the Kodar Mountains hides ramshackle cities teeming with orcs, while the Menador range—cleared of orcs in the early days of the Age of Enthronement—once more echoes with savage wardrums. The Hold of Belkzen takes its name from the greatest of orc heroes, and its oft-squabbling warbands and tribal armies represent the largest open gathering of orcs and half-orcs on Avistan, locked in endless raiding with Lastwall and Varisia. From Cheliax in the south to the Realm of the Mammoth Lords in the north, the bloody promise of orc vengeance and slaughter is ever-present, and wherever orcs march hand-in-hand with conflict, half-orcs can be found.
Farther from these strongholds, in the cosmopolitan cities of the Inner Sea and Garund, such orc terror is of little concern, and half-orcs often enjoy lives relatively free from bigotry and suspicion. Still, half-orcs often find it difficult to shed their savage natures and adapt to the world of humans. Impatient, impulsive, greedy, prone to violence when frustrated, and often none too bright, half- orcs nevertheless embody the full range of human emotion and imagination.
Throughout their long history of enslavement and abuse at the hands of other races, half-orcs have been branded, tattooed, and otherwise disfigured by their masters to mark their outcast status. In some areas, half-orcs have taken what were once their marks of shame and turned them into fantastic works of art of incredible detail and intricacy. Half-orcs often “collect” a variety of slave brands or embed pierced shackles or fetishes in their flesh as a reminder of their painful past.
Half-orcs are only rarely named by and cared for by their human parent with the same love and attention as the parent would any other child. More often, their names are harsh and unlovely, echoing the Orc tongue of their forebears.
Half-orcs stand between 6 and 7 feet in height, and are generally quite robust and muscular. Their hair color tends to be darker shades of brown, gray, or even dark red, with black hair being the most common. Their eyes tend to be small and beady, but it is the half-orcs’ pointed ears, jagged tusk-like teeth, and green skin that truly display their heritage.