Here’s something I wanted to do for a long time: a version of the ‘original’ orc from Tolkien to Pathfinder. Forget D&D and – most important – forget Warhammer and Warcraft, which are the main culprits for today’s idea about what an orc is: a brute, barbarian and green-skinned warriors (a mix between the Hulk and Mongols if you like).
I always loved the way Tolkien described orcs in ‘The Hobbit’ as a race of cunning and clever trapsmiths, weaponsmiths and armorers, which a taste for back-stabbing and violence (and fresh meat). Actually, given those descriptors, ‘orks’ (as Tolkien wished to call them later in life) are ironically well-suited for a player character race: they love to fight, to tinker with weapons and mechanical stuff, and to conquer. Sounds familiar?
+2 to one physical ability score of their choice, –2 Wisdom, –2 Charisma. The different kinds of Orks described by Tolkien could be easily represented by different choices regarding the Ability Score bonus.
Darkvision: Orks can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
Base Speed: Orks have a base speed of 30 feet. Orks ignore difficult terrains when in mountains, caverns, wastelands, deserts or plains.
Sneaky: Orks gain a +2 racial bonus on Stealth in areas of dim light or darker.
Ork Etiquette: Orks gain a +2 racial bonus on Bluff and a -2 penalty on Diplomacy.
Smeller: Orks gain a limited scent ability with half the normal range.
Perilous Life: Orks gain Endurance as racial bonus feat and a +2 racial bonus against poison.
Squalid: Orks live in surroundings so filthy and pestilent that they gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws made to resist nausea, the sickened condition, and disease.
Machinery: Orks love all kinds of contraptions and devices; they gain a +2 racial bonus on Disable Device. They also gain a +2 racial bonus on one Craft skill of their choice.
Light Sensitivity: Orks are dazzled as long as they remain in an area of bright light.
Warmonger: Orks are proficient with all martial weapons and receive a +2 racial bonus on attack rolls with siege weapons. After training for 24 hours with a particular weapon, an Ork can reduce any penalty due to non-proficiency by half.
Languages: Orks begin play speaking Common and Black Speech.
I tried to balance the fact that Orks are relatively weak at Ability Scores by granting them more racial features. Not sure if it worked properly. My main concern is the Warmonger feature. I think it may be too powerful, but I also believe that it represents the “iconic feature” of the archetype. Orks are total weapon-nuts. In Pathfinder – if I’m not mistaken – only the Druid, the Wizard and Monk aren’t proficient with all Simple Weapons; while the Barbarian, Cavalier, Fighter, Gunsliger, Paladin, Magus, Ranger and Samurai all have full-access to Martial Weapons. Giving access to Simple Weapons isn’t much. I don’t think that proficiency with all Martial Weapons is a game-breaker (unfortunately, as I really wished that weapons matter more in Pathfinder… maybe if you used Paper & Pencil’s suggestion on weapon qualities, but I digress). So, I decided to grant them martial weapon-access, and a conditional reduced penalty for other weapons, besides a small bonus to siege stuff.