|Playable races in World of Warcraft|
|Draenei · Dwarf · Gnome · Human · Night elf · Worgen|| Pandaren
||Blood elf · Goblin · Orc · Tauren · Troll · Undead|
|Faction/Affiliation||Horde, Earthen Ring, Old Gods' forces|
|Character classes|| Hunter, Mage, Monk, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, Death Knight
|Racial mount||Wolf, Wyvern, Kodo|
|Secondary language(s)||Common, Low Common, Goblin, Taur-ahe, Zandali|
- "To pretend it [the demonic corruption] did not exist is to forget how dreadful the impact was. To make ourselves into victims, rather than claiming our participation in our own destruction. We chose this path, we orcs. We chose it right up until it was too late to turn back. And having made that choice, we can, with the knowledge that we have of the end of that dark and shameful road, choose not to take it."
The orcs are one of the most prolific races on Azeroth. Originally hailing from the harsh, alien world of Draenor, the orcs were once a noble shamanistic people cultivating a mighty tribal society that was centered around survival, regulating themselves through ritualized combat and personal honor. Tragically betrayed by one of their spiritual leaders and delivered into the hands of the Burning Legion, the orc clans fell deep into demonic enslavement and were led into Azeroth as an unholy vanguard of the Legion ment to destroy everything in their path. Yet, the shamanistic tradition of the orcs managed to rekindle from the ashes, and a young shaman by the name of Thrall arose to become a living symbol of his people's true identity in their darkest hour, causing many of the orcs to rise up against their demon masters and break free from their control. Several of the orcish clans that had existed on Draenor since ancient times reemerged and were united under Thrall's guidance, and the shaman warchief led the orcs out of the Eastern Kingdoms they had been forced to invade and into the continent of Kalimdor, in order to begin a new existence for themselves and their newfound allies. There, they founded the nation of Durotar and the great city of Orgrimmar. Today, Thrall's orcs are a redeemed people who have reclaimed their destiny from dark influences, fighting no longer for the sake of destruction but for their very right of survival in their adopted world.
To their enemies, they are fearsome and savage adversaries, without parallel in their cunning and ferocity. To their allies, they are a fearless and honorable people, renowned for their strength and persistence. The orcs who followed Thrall to Kalimdor form the largest group of a race that has rediscovered its true spirit, shunning the cruel ways of demonic power for the paths of strength and wisdom. Some orcs still cling to demonic practices, yet their time is fading. When the orcs were freed from the Burning Legion, they experienced a spiritual revolution as the unnatural bloodlust left their bodies, connecting them with states of heart and mind that were common to their ancestors. This new generation of orcs for the most part follows Thrall as he forges ahead to reform the Horde through shamanism and tribal tradition. Still, not all of the orcs are pleased with these movements. They, who are many of the surviving warlocks, renounce all that Thrall proclaims the orcs are and seek to overthrow the shamans anew, in order to retake control of the Horde for themselves.
To orcs, prowess in battle bestows great personal honor on an individual. This notion of honor pervades every echelon of orcish culture, and the loss or gain of honor has equal consequence to all orcs regardless of their stature in society. Even the naming of orcs is temporary until they have performed rites of passage; only when orcs bring honor to themselves and thus to their clan do elders grant them adult names based upon their deeds. Orcs may appear quick to anger but they are tempered by the wisdom of the shamans, who are revered across Horde society. While many in the Alliance still perceive the orcs as brutish or even mindless, they have forged a complex culture embracing many occupations and many different races. No doubt Thrall's leadership aided in bringing this about, yet it is apparent that the Alliance has underestimated the orcs' ability to construct a society that is highly influential in world affairs.
Though prone to fits of berserk rage in warfare, orcs tend to display a curious feral grace that can rival even the finest fencing of an elven noble. They reach physical adulthood quickly, causing them to be among the most populous races on Azeroth despite the destitution they've endured over the previous generation. Their prolific nature is often offset however by the fact that orcs instinctively respond to conflict with a reckless tenacity, to the point that incidents of orcs who fight to the death over trivial issues are not uncommon. Despite this, the orcs of today continue to stand in drastic contrast to those that were enslaved by the Burning Legion, who embodied a bestial and diabolical force which was barely being controlled by warlock magic. Few of these demon-worshiping cults are left nowadays for the remnants of such groups are being hunted down not only by the Alliance, but by the Horde itself.
The orcs of Draenor had lived in a noble shamanistic society, roaming in tribes the grasslands of Nagrand on their dusty world of Draenor, for over 5,000 years. They lived in peace with the draenei and were at war with the ogres. Eventually, the presence of the draenei drew the Burning Legion to Draenor. After investigating of the world, the powerful demon lord Kil'jaeden tricked the respected shaman Ner'zhul into striking a bargain with him. He convinced Ner'zhul that the draenei were conspiring against the orcs, and were planning on attacking. In exchange for their service to the Burning Legion, Ner'zhul and all of the orcs would receive the power necessary to conquer vast new lands, and Kil'jaeden would have an army able to crush the draenei. To obtain this power, the orcs would need to first drink from the blood of Mannoroth the Destructor, a mighty pit lord of the Burning Legion. Grom Hellscream was one of the first to drink, and easily convinced the other chieftains and their clans to follow suit. This put them under the Blood Curse.
The Rise of the Horde
With the mass murder of the draenei, the elements refused to aid the orcs in their war. Believing that the elements had turned on them, the orcs turned to Ner'zhul. Gul'dan was then introduced as the new leader of the Horde. Slowly the entire race was corrupted into rampaging clans that would later be forged into the Horde. Over the next few decades the draenei and many other indigenous races of Draenor were almost utterly destroyed. Completely devoured by their demonic bloodlust and without new enemies to fight, many orc clans began fighting amongst themselves. Petty rivalries escalated into full scale bloodbaths, and total chaos descended upon orcish society. The few remaining draenei took advantage of this and started a guerrilla campaign that continues to this day.
During this time, Ner'zhul, no longer willing to watch his race destroy itself, betrayed Kil'jaeden and was subsequently replaced as Spiritual Leader of the clans by Gul'dan. Gul'dan cared little for the Horde and easily agreed to follow Kil'jaeden in exchange for even more power. Kil'jaeden taught Gul'dan how to project himself into the Twisting Nether and to commune with the dead. Gul'dan was changed by these encounters and realized how to attain even more power. Gul'dan also changed the way the orcs were ruled by giving Blackhand the title of Warchief during the war.
Gul'dan gathered all warlocks who shared a desire for ultimate power and attempted to the share knowledge of communing with the dead. Many died in the process, but the few who survived formed the initial ranks of the Shadow Council. Through careful manipulation and intricate machinations, the Shadow Council became the real ruling body of the Horde, with the clan chiefs under their thumbs. By using the promise of new lands to conquer on worlds other than Draenor, the Shadow Council was able to form a tenuous unity within the Horde. Gul'dan and his warlocks began probing the Twisting Nether, desperately searching for new worlds within easy reach before the clans' bloodlust exploded beyond control. Gul'dan also founded the schools of Necromancy to spread the new demonic magics to even more orcs.
Visions of Medivh
One night, an extremely powerful entity touched the thoughts of many orc warlocks. Gul'dan sought the advice of Kil'jaeden as to what this new presence might be, but his summons went unanswered. If Gul'dan's own tutor Kil'jaeden feared this entity, then it could prove to be a powerful tool if he could re-establish contact with it. Weeks later, Gul'dan was finally successful and opened up communication with Medivh, a sorcerer on some distant world. Gul'dan attempted to probe the designs of this Medivh, but Medivh's mind moved far too quickly for Gul'dan to discern much of any value. Gul'dan knew with near-certainty that Medivh was attempting the same, and did not want Medivh to gain an advantage, and so quickly broke contact.
Medivh later returned to the dreams of the warlocks on Draenor, presenting them with images of the land of Azeroth. The Shadow Council, despite the debate over Medivh's true intentions, decided to do Medivh's bidding if he could furnish a way to bring the horde into Azeroth. Those warlocks who were not members of the Council but had experienced the vision, were killed to keep the coming invasion secret. Weeks passed with no further word from Medivh and some members of the Council believed he was playing tricks on them. But then the rift appeared.
The Invasion of Azeroth
With time and much effort the orcish warlocks were able to expand the rift enough to allow orcs to squeeze through. Though their first scouts were driven mad, either by the rift itself or by what they had seen, the council was able to confirm that on the other side of the rift was the world Medivh had shown them. A small contingent of orcs was sent through the stabilized rift, now known as the Dark Portal, to scout and construct a base of operations.
The caution urged by the Shadow Council fell on deaf ears when the clan chieftains learned of how seemingly weak the native humans of the area were. Bloodlust soon overcame the Horde, and they launched a preemptive strike against the most powerful establishment of humans in the area, the Kingdom of Stormwind. Lead by Cho'gall of the Twilight's Hammer Clan and Kilrogg Deadeye of the Bleeding Hollow Clan, this attack ended in a humiliating defeat for the Horde. Each chieftain blamed the other for this failure, and the Horde split into two factions. The Shadow Council attempted to reunite the Horde, but could not act directly, and so they chose an avatar to act as their puppet ruler: Blackhand the Destroyer was named Warchief of all the Horde once again.
Under Blackhand's iron fist, order was restored. It was then that Medivh once again made contact with Gul'dan. Medivh seemed even more powerful, but less sane. Medivh ordered Gul'dan to have the Horde destroy the Kingdom of Stormwind, and make Medivh the new ruler of the humans. Gul'dan initially refused to do Medivh's bidding; after all, the Horde had a new target and Medivh's usefulness, in Gul'dan's eyes, had run out. Desperate to see his plans succeed, Medivh tempted Gul'dan by promising to reveal the location of the Tomb of Sargeras, the lord of the Burning Legion and Kil'jaeden's master. And so the First War between the Horde and the humans of Azeroth occurred, ending with the destruction of the Kingdom of Stormwind.
Near the beginning of that conflict the Frostwolf Clan, one of very few clans of orcs that had rejected the demonic gifts of Kil'jaeden, was exiled to Azeroth and its leader Durotan was murdered by Gul'dan's forces as a warning. His infant son was left for dead but was taken in by a nobleman from Lordaeron fleeing the carnage of Stormwind. The Frostwolves, leaderless, fled to the far northern mountains. Toward the end of the war, a surgical strike was launched by the humans to kill the treacherous Medivh. As Medivh was assaulted, Gul'dan felt the psychic trauma waves that Medivh emanated and realized that his chance to obtain the power of Sargeras was about to slip out of his grasp. He entered Medivh's mind and attempted to steal the location of the Tomb of Sargeras while Medivh was weakened and distracted. It was at this moment that Medivh died, and Gul'dan, having been in his mind at the time of death, was thrown into a coma.
When he awoke, Gul'dan learned of a major power shift within the horde. Blackhand the Destroyer had been overthrown by Orgrim Doomhammer after he had learned of Blackhand's role in corrupting the Horde. Doomhammer was not as gullible or easily swayed as Blackhand had been, and quickly discovered the Shadow Council's presence in orcish affairs. He completely eradicated the Council through accusations of treason. Gul'dan survived only by 'swearing' allegiance to Doomhammer, and by promising to provide a vast undead army for the Horde's use. He formed the Stormreaver Clan and began the process of re-animating the corpses of fallen knights with the spirits of the fallen members of the Shadow Council.
These new Death Knights, along with other fel projects(such as the capture of the Alexstrasza), gave the Horde enough strength to advance steadily north despite facing the might of the unprecedented Alliance of all the human nations (Lordaeron, Stromgarde, Kul Tiras, Gilneas, Alterac and the magical forces of Dalaran). The elven nation of Quel'Thalas sent support to the Alliance, and after the Horde took their beloved lands of Khaz Modan, the dwarves and gnomes gladly joined the ranks of the Alliance. When the Kingdom of Alterac betrayed the Alliance, the victory of the Horde seemed inevitable, but the Horde was to suffer a betrayal of their own.
With victory in sight, Gul'dan convinced Cho'gall of the Twilight's Hammer clan that he knew the location of the Tomb of Sargeras. Together, along with the Stormreaver clan, they abandoned their posts and set out to claim the demonic power for their own. This loss of nearly a third of the Horde brought their campaign to a standstill at the doorstep of Lordaeron. Doomhammer, furious with the insubordination at such a critical time, deployed a large portion of his own forces to attack the deserting clans and their leaders. This allowed the Alliance forces to rally and crush the Horde while they were divided. With the destruction of the Dark Portal the Second War ended. Although a number of powerful men in the kingdom of Lordaeron wanted the orcs rounded up and executed, King Terenas ignored them and had the orcs placed in internment camps with hopes that they would one day lose their bloodlust. There, cut off from their demonic rulers and with no way to replenish their fel stamina, the orcs languished and eventually slipped into lethargy.
Several years after the Second War, Thrall, the son of Durotan, escaped from his cruel human master Aedelas Blackmoore at the Durnholde internment camp and set out to find the rest of his people. In his travels he encountered Grom Hellscream, who along with his Warsong Clan had been hiding out in the wastelands of Azeroth in hopes of another chance at conquest. Thrall became friends with Grom, and eventually met Orgrim Doomhammer, who had escaped from the humans' prison several years before. From Doomhammer he learned about his father and the Frostwolf clan, and the betrayal of his father by the Shadow Council. After learning this, Thrall made his way to the exiled Frostwolf clan stronghold, where the shaman Drek'Thar taught him about the orcs' noble heritage and how they had been corrupted by demons. Thrall swore to free his people from the chains that bound them, and as Drek'Thar's new student, embarked upon the path of the shaman. Together with Grom and Doomhammer, Thrall successfully launched attack after attack against the internment camps to free the captive orcs. It was difficult to rouse the orcs from their lethargy, but Thrall was able to prove to them that their destiny was not yet at its end, and the clans rallied behind the new Horde. Unfortunately, during the attack on the last internment camp, Doomhammer was struck down. In tribute to the fierce and proud orc, Thrall donned Doomhammer's black armor and the hammer which bore his name to lead his people from their captivity. This internment camp was later captured by the Horde, renamed in honor of Doomhammer, and is now the Horde outpost of Hammerfall in the Arathi Highlands.
Thrall knew the human nations would not stand idly by and let the Horde regroup or settle down. Fortunately for Thrall, a prophet appeared in the form of a raven and advised him to leave Azeroth for the distant land of Kalimdor. Thrall, having no better alternatives, captured some human ships and set sail for the new land, taking all of his orcs out of Lordaeron. During the journey, the orcs helped a tribe of trolls escape from their sinking island. The Darkspear trolls were immensely grateful for Thrall's assistance and swore allegiance to his new Horde. When they arrived in Kalimdor, they were greeted by Cairne Bloodhoof and his tauren. The orcs helped Cairne fend off the centaurs, and in return, he told the orcs the location of the Oracle. The Warsong clan however, was sent to Ashenvale to cut lumber as punishment for attacking the humans without permission. There they battled the Night elves. The Pit lord Mannoroth took advantage or the fact that the orcs were losing to empower them with his blood, and thus bring them back under his control. Thrall allied with the human sorceress Jaina Proudmoore at the indication of the Prophet (who was actually Medivh). They captured Hellscream and turned him back to normal. Thrall then went with him to confront the Mannoroth. Mannoroth quickly subdued Thrall, but Grom was able to kill the demon, though it cost him his life, and free the orcs from their demonic master.
The founding of Orgrimmar
With the Battle of Mount Hyjal over, and with it the immediate threat to the world, Thrall set out to found the new orcish homeland in Kalimdor. He named the land Durotar in honor of his father, and founded the city of Orgrimmar in honor of Orgrim Doomhammer. With the orcs' new allies, the tauren, becoming part of the Horde and with the support of the Lordaeron survivors led by Jaina Proudmoore, Thrall was able to build quickly. However, this was not to last. Grand Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, Jaina's father, arrived in Kalimdor (having left before the war was over to look for any surviving forces) and launched an attack against the fledgling orc nation. During the initial assault the Darkspear trolls lost their new home on the Echo Isles and with the help of the Mok'Nathal half-orc Rexxar, came to live with the orcs in Durotar. The witch doctor Vol'jin pledged the tribe's eternal allegiance to the Horde in return.
Thrall, not knowing what humans had attacked him, initially suspected Jaina's forces, but her loyalty was proven when she helped the orcs destroy the invading forces of her father Admiral Proudmoore.
The Rise of Hellscream
Years later, the warchief and many others returned to the remnants of Draenor, now known as Outland, to prevent another attack from the Burning Legion. There Thrall met Garrosh Hellscream, son of Grom Hellscream, and convinced him to join the Horde and return to Azeroth as an advisor. Garrosh was a leading commander during the battles against the Lich King in Northrend, and also gained popularity for his fiery personality.
In addition to his commitments as leader of the Horde, Thrall was a dedicated shaman with close ties to the elements. When he noticed severe disturbances in the elemental spirits, Thrall knew that he had to step down as warchief in order to investigate the situation lest all of Azeroth fall into chaos. Given his options, Thrall believed that Garrosh was the clear choice for warchief. But the impulsive young Hellscream is much more aggressive than his diplomatic predecessor. With the equally tempestuous King Varian Wrynn back on the throne of Stormwind, it seems likely that the orcs will need their famed strength now more than ever.
Orcish society has always been characterized by hardy and rugged living. As a result they are staunch pragmatists, and never shy from killing if it will protect the future of the orc or his clan. All orcs, regardless of gender or station, are expected to pull their own weight and weakness is considered a grave liability. The weakness of one contaminates the strength of all, and it is punishable by the greatest humiliation an orc can receive: exile. Different orc clans however have different personalities; Thrall and the Frostwolves are notable for having brought a measure of mercy and compassion to the Horde, typically seen in Thrall's kinder treatment towards peons, who were once viewed as a despicable sub-race. On the other hand, clans such as the Warsong remain who still cling to the rigid, spartan beliefs valued in the original Horde as it was first established on Draenor.
Yet regardless of their clan affiliations, orcs prize honor over all other things in life — first to bring honor to their clan (and by extension, the Horde) and secondly bringing honor to the self and to their sense of self-worth as an individual. Likewise, hospitality is considered one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed. The orcs and tauren have become fast and unswerving allies because the tauren gladly offered the orcs shelter in a strange new land as well as their assistance regardless of the cost to themselves.
There is no discrimination between genders in orcish society. Women are able to pursue the same career choices as men, rise to positions of power and are even expected to answer to the call for battle just as men are. Strength (both physical and mental), courage, initiative and independence are prized traits in all orcs. Traditionally, children are seen as children of the parents, but are raised as children of the clan. However, because of the newly unified Horde and the current diaspora of individual orc families creating homes and settling down in various areas around Durotar, the Barrens and beyond, this typical clan scheme has been changing, and life is beginning to become more centered around the nuclear family rather than the greater clan.
One tradition of the orcs on Draenor was a ceremony for newborns of the clan. The infant's parents would stand in a body of water near the encampment with the entire clan observing from shore. The mother would hand the baby to the father, who would then raise the child to the sky and proclaim the child as his, through himself and his father, and present the baby for the clan's blessings. The clan chieftain would then hold the baby and declare the infant under their protection, with the hope that they bring honor and glory to the clan. The chieftain's heir would then give a blessing. Finally the Elder Shaman would ask for the blessing of the elemental and wild spirits, and the hope that the ancestors would watch over the newborn.
In some clans, if the child appears sickly or frail, they will instead be drowned, likely by the father. A common expression of scorn is that an orc "should have been drowned at birth". This is likely the reason that the parents would stand in the water when presenting a newborn. The Blackrock clan and Bonechewer clan were noted for doing this without any qualms. The Frostwolf clan however, were known to have rejected such cruel practices.
Orcs instinctively revere the rugged forces of the natural elements, and as such, Shamans are held in high regard. They generally have a close relationship with the nature elements and angering them is considered a grave offense.
Wolves are a major symbol of the orcs, serving as guards, scouts, pets, partners and mounts. Many such wolves came from Draenor. Horde shamans can speak to them and summon spectral wolves and many serve a giant wolf spirit.
- is concerned with survival over artistic achievement.
- reveres its elderly and honors its ancestors.
- does not apologize for past actions, nor does it demand apologies from its enemies.
- values valor over cunning—as long as valor doesn’t lead to disaster.
- resembles "Primitive" human societies, but is, like those societies, far more sophisticated when examined closely.
- distrusts arcane magic, especially the magic of warlocks—but does not (yet) shun arcanists.
Orcs wear a variety of clothing styles, from furs and hides in some clans to heavy metal armor in others. They favor clothes of hide, and armor and arm themselves with a variety of gear.
Orcish religion takes the form of an animistic worldview that has strange parallels with the practices of the Kaldorei. Orc shaman draw their power from the forces of the elements and the spirits of nature, forming a very intimate connection with the world that surrounds them. This awareness has led to even more revelations of their race’s true nature, as the orcs realize that they live more in harmony with the world than many of the races of the Alliance.
The practice of slavery has historically existed in orc society, and while in modern times it seems to occur less, the practice still continues among the orcs, though it is unclear how widespread it is. Despite Thrall's work to ensure that no orc would be cast into slavery ever again, a small number of orcs have been found enslaved by other orcs in the Horde, for example Bloodeye Redfist. It appears that some orcs are also willing to enslave members of other races, both Horde and Alliance. Many of these slaves were once criminals whom were brought to justice. It is unclear why the orcs still allow slavery, and to what extent, or why they choose to ignore it.
The fact that the Crimson Ring, a gladiatorial circuit that very often includes slaves and is described as underground, seem to indicate that using slavery for pit fighting is a discouraged practice (due to the nature of the matches, which many times include battles to the death) but their ability to openly practice and train in Horde cities without persecution seems to imply that if the slaves are offenders of the Horde, the slavery will be overlooked. Surprisingly the Crimson Ring's gladiatorial death matches and the enslaved gladiators are in the open at times; some of the tournaments taking place in Orgrimmar's and other Horde arenas. Even Bloodeye was well known enough to be described as a "champion of the orcs".
Another example is the case of Jinxo, who had been captured by the orcs, and was going to be sold into slavery to a goblin, had she not developed a plan for escape.
Orcs know Orcish and Common. Orcs tend to only favor the languages of their allies, for example Goblin, Taur-ahe, Low Common, Zandali, Gutterspeak, Pandaren, and Thalassian in recent times as well. Before the slaughter of the draenei on Draenor, there were orcs who learned Draenei to facilitate trade between the two races.
Most orcish names derive from words in their language that have some complex meaning or hidden significance to their families. Typically, this is the name of a favorite thing or relative. Family names don't exist; most orcs have last names related to some great deed of heroism or honor. However, in the case of truly incredible deeds, an orc might take on the last name of his father to ensure that the chronicle of that terrific deed lives on. The concept of honor is seen in every level of orc society, even in their naming practices. An orc’s first name is given early in life, often derived from a family name or the name of a great hero. The tribe bestows the second name after the orc reaches maturity, this name based upon some great deed. Such a practice gives rise to surnames such as Doomhammer, Elfkicker, Foe-ender, Skullsplitter, Thumper, and the like. This second name may be changed if a new one seems more appropriate.
- Male Names
- Grom, Thrum, Drog, Gorrum, Harg, Thurg, Karg.
- Female Names
- Groma, Hargu, Igrim, Agra, Dragga, Grima.
- Family Names
- Doomhammer, Deadeye, Forebinder, Elfkiller, Skullsplitter, Axeripper, Tearshorn, Fistcrusher, Nosebasher, Scruton.
Orcish surnames are usually derived from great acts or merits a previous ancestor was lauded for, but some exceptional orcs earn their own surnames (Kilrogg Deadeye, Kargath Bladefist), and many prefer to use the names of their fathers (Thrall, Son of Durotan). Only the family leader can hold an eponymous title (For example, there can only be one Doomhammer or Deadeye at a time), and the rest of the clan identify themselves through their line of birth.
Two types of orc names appear to have arisen: two syllables separated by an apostrophe and a simple name shortened from a longer one. The two-syllable ones — Gul'dan, Drak'Thul, Dal'Rend — appear to have initially been only used for spellcasters, but later exported (Gar'Thok was a Grunt colonel). The second type was highly cultural; only those with powers over the warrior could use their full name, such as Shamans and chieftains, or the orc's personal religious leader. For example Brox's full name was Broxigar, a term which he allowed only Tyrande and Krasus to use. Grom Hellscream's full name was Grommash, which Mannoroth used to address him as demonstration that Hellscream was his. This is very inconsistent, however; most of the known orcish names (such as Durotan, Orgrim, Nazgrel, and Kargath) are never documented being used in short forms, this is perhaps because they have no shortening.
- Frostwolf clan
- Warsong clan
- Shattered Hand clan (Azeroth)
- Bleeding Hollow clan (Azeroth)
- Mok'Nathal clan
- The Mag'har
- Thunderlord clan
- Shadowmoon clan
- Dragonmaw clan
- Dark Horde†
- Fel Horde†
- Shattered Hand clan (Outland)
- Bonechewer clan
- Bleeding Hollow clan
- Dragonmaw clan (Outland)
- Shadowmoon clan
- Laughing Skull clan
- Other Clans
An orc's face would be described by some races of Azeroth as monstrous, their hideousness comparable to that of trolls. Orcs have large heavy jaws from which protrude sharp, tusk-like teeth, heavy brows, a broad and flat snout-like nose, and pointed ears. The number, size and position of orcish tusks and teeth are particularly variable, much like their troll allies. Kilrogg Deadeye, for example, has been portayed with twin sets of tusks.
Orcs come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the short, pitiable peon to the hulking grunt. Males, particularly warriors, are often hunched to variable degrees, though others stand straight and tall, such as Grom Hellscream. A fair amount of sexual dimorphism exists between the orc sexes, with male orcs possessing more extreme orcish physical characteristics, most noticeably broader shoulders and larger tusks. Yet all the orcs (with the exception of the oft-ignored peons) are large, powerfully built creatures when compared to their human counterparts, warriors and spell-casters alike, and regardless of gender. Old orcs such as Drek'thar and Drak'thul, however, are often frail and wiry, though not all allow themselves to weaken with age, such as Varok Saurfang.
Orcs who drink the blood of a pit lord quickly grow in body mass and strength, and even the weakest of these fel orcs is a deadly foe. This unnatural power was apparently not carried down to the later, green-skinned generations of the New Horde. Fel orcs often have much longer teeth, becoming nothing short of tusks, as well as spines erupting from their body. Dire orcs are gargantuan, severely-hunched orcs also displaying many of these traits, although they are not all fel orcs.
An up-close look at an orc on the cover art for Warcraft: Orcs & Humans showed them with horns protruding from their cheeks and forward-pointing, tufted ears, neither of which have been seen in later examples.
Orc males are massive and brutish looking creatures. Weighing in at 250 to 300 pounds and standing from 6 to 7 feet in height, they are not a small race. Even orc women tend to be only a half-foot or so shorter and 50 to 100 pounds lighter than most males (and some of them are equal in stature to their male counterparts), having broad shoulders and muscular, powerful bodies.
Originally, all orcs were brown-skinned, ranging from a bark-like brown to reddish-brown. However, with the exception of the isolated Mag'har, their bodies reacted to their exposure to warlock magic once it was introduced by Gul'dan. All orcs with warlocks in their clan found their skin slowly turning green before they were ever offered the blood of the demon Mannoroth.
The first orcs to drink the blood of a pit lord rapidly completed their transition to green skin. Further drinking the blood, or possibly the blood of any demon, will change their skin again from green to scarlet, transforming them into chaos orcs or fel orcs. Through certain rituals this state is reversible, not only restoring the orc’s sanity but their previous green tone as well. No green-skinned orc has ever managed to return to a completely uncorrupted state.
With World of Warcraft, orcs of the Blackrock, Black Tooth Grin and (with Cataclysm) Dragonmaw clans have grey-green or grey skin, differentiating them from the rest of the orcish race. The Blackrock orcs' skin has apparantly darkened due to years of dwelling within the dwarven cities within Blackrock Mountain.
Most orcs are green-skinned, usually ranging from a light chartreuse yellow or olive to a dark forest or emerald green.
The change of skin colour from brown to green appears to be genetic as Thrall, who had little direct exposure to warlock magic until recently, has had green skin from birth, and none of the Frostwolf clan, who have eschewed fel magic the longest (bar the Mag'har) have younger, brown-skinned members. It would also explain why it does not appear to reverse with time, as neither Drek'thar of the Frostwolves nor Varok Saurfang of Durotar have regained the brown skin of their youth despite decades with little or no contact with warlocks.
Tides of War revealed that Blackrock clan orcs developed grey skin due to years of living underground. When this change occured, or whether it affected all clan members is not made clear. There is no mention of the Blackrock clan being anything other than green-skinned before World of Warcraft. Orgrim Doomhammer and Blackhand have never been shown as grey-skinned. Eitrigg was noted as green-skinned in Of Blood and Honor and has been like-wise depicted in art, but being a Blackrock orc he is shown in World of Warcraft as grey-skinned, as is his son Ariok. This is despite him leaving the clan at the end of the Second War, and never returning to Blackrock Mountain. The Black Tooth Grin, which did not dwell in Hordemar during the Second War and only reunited with the Blackrock following it, have the same skin tones as their brethren.
The Dragonmaw orcs of the Wetlands were originally pale green, but were changed in Cataclysm to grey. It’s unknown whether their grey colouration is the result of genetics or (like the Blackrock orcs) years of dwelling in Grim Batol. The Dragonmaw might even deliberately change the colour of their skin with dyes. The earlier choice of pale green skin may have represent differences in skin tone between clans. Grey skin tones are also often used for orcish cultists, and might represent sickliness, similar to the grayish-purple skin of human and gnomish cultists. The Dragonmaw chieftain Zuluhed retains his green skin in Cataclysm, though this may have been an oversight.
The nature of the change in skin colour when corrupted is considerably different from that of other fel-touched races. Felblood elves and Eredar change from their original skin tones straight to the extremes (for orcs, red), and don’t appear to have a middle-ground.
The naturally occurring eye colours of orcs include shades of brown, oranges, yellows, reds, greens, grey, violets, indigo, and in rare cases, pure blue. Orcs who drank the blood of the pit lord Mannoroth invariably had eyes that glowed a bright, blood red, and the same is true of fel orcs derived from the blood of Magtheridon. These eyes did not dim until the orcs’ withdrawal from warlock magic after the Second War, excluding the clans that continued to worship demons. Pure blue eyes are quite rare in the orcish race, and are seen as a sign of great destiny. Thrall has such blue eyes, and Garona in some depictions is shown with blue eyes, though this may be more a sign of her half-orc heritage and not her fate. The eyes of cultist orcs sometimes appear to be completely clouded-over.
In World of Warcraft, orcs are shown with a variety of hair colours; black, brown, blues, reds, purples and with age, grey and white. In earlier depictions, orcs only had black, grey or white hair, if they had hair at all – shaven heads are common amongst orcs of both genders, at least compared to most other races. Some male orcs cultivate beards, while others are clean shaven.
Orcs tend to have coarse and bristly hair and beards, often black or brown in color, graying with age. Orc males sometimes choose to grow beards that are wild and untamed, while others prefer them to be braided and tasselled. These beards always hang from the chin, as orcs do not grow heavy facial hair above their upper-lip.
It is possible that a number of the hair colours in World of Warcraft are due to dyes, as orcs in all earlier games and art had only black, grey and white hairs (with Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game adding brown to the mix). Only in World of Warcraft and the art based off of it (such as the Trading Card Game have orcs been shown with more colourful hair. A variety of colours may have been included to make playable orcs less visually similar to each other. Thrall's original model had dark blue hair, rather than the black of his earlier incarnations. With Cataclysm, his hair has changed back to black, indicating that either his mild blue hair was a mistake on the part of the developers or that it was due to a dye.
Orc blood is a dark red colour, much darker than that of dwarves and humans. Because of this, orcs have been called “blackbloods” by their Alliance foes. However, they are sometimes shown with bright red blood, namely in World of Warcraft, as are both night elves (with otherwise purple blood) and some undead (otherwise black blood or green ichor).
Orcs, especially orc warriors, are fond of tattoos of orcish symbols that have abstract, yet personal meaning to the individual orc, such as a clan symbol or a battle standard. In orcish society, scars are a source of pride for an orc; the amount of scars an orc has received in battle marks his experience as a warrior.
Brown skin, a Mag'har orc.
Gray-green skin, a Blackrock orc.
Gray skin and tattoos, a Dragonmaw orc.
Red skin and mutations, a fel orc.
In the newly established Horde, the orcs have strong ties to the recent race members of the Horde who are originally from Kalimdor. The ties between the orcs, tauren, and jungle trolls are unquestionable. In the aftermath of the Third War, Thrall, Cairne, and Vol'jin reluctantly allowed the Forsaken to join the Horde ranks, and with the reopening the Dark Portal the Horde recruited a fifth race to its ranks, the Blood Elves. Although the Horde has five notable races, the Horde also counts as its members Mok'nathal, a race of half orcs, and the Stonemaul Ogres. Recently, Thrall has tried to establish a connection to the Ironforge Dwarves in order to minimize wars between the two races. This can be seen in a quest chain taking a Horde player into the Blackrock Depths to find the daughter of Magni Bronzebeard. However, it is safe to assume the dwarves will not improve relations anytime soon due to their current affiliation with the Alliance. Either way, this mission proves to be a failure since the princess refuses to return to Ironforge. In the Wrath of the Lich King, the Horde becomes allied with the Taunka — an ancient offshoot of the Tauren — and the Tuskarr. The Taunka are Horde specific but the Tuskarr are a naturally neutral race. Orcs have a long history of violence with humans, though they grudgingly respect their strength and some still cling to old hatreds even despite the fact that they fought alongside each other during the Third War. However, while they don't like humans generally, the orcs do respect their own leader Jaina Proudmoore, especially since she had chosen to side with them over her father.
- Main article: Notable orcs
- See Orc (playable)
- Warcraft is one of the very few fantasy franchises where orcs are put in a positive light. This is still true after two games with the traditional bloodthirsty interpretation. In fact, reviewers often credit the humorous voices and comments of Horde units from Tides of Darkness (making the "bad guys" more fun to play) as the direct influence on the choice to portray their redemption.
- Orcs have a great influence in the Warcraft game series; an unusual thing to see in fantasy and medieval folk lore, where the orcs are just easily-killable, bestial and brainless enemies.
- Orcs played a major part in every Warcaft novel up until Night of the Dragon.
- Several of the orcs' allies — including the ogres, the blood elves, and the Forsaken — were at one time enemies of the Horde.
- Orcish culture and history has several similarities to the culture and history of the Huns:
- - They both invaded a new continent and shattered the whole life of the inhabitants.
- - Both reached the capital city of this continent (Rome and Stormwind).
- - Both were later pushed (nearly) completely back into their own land.
- ^ Rise of the Horde, page 139
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, 12
- ^ Warcraft: Legends Volume 4, page 133, 134
- ^ Warcraft: Legends Volume 4, page 134, 136, 144
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, 138
- ^ a b c d Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, 50, 51
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, 46
- ^ Warcraft III manual, 22
- ^ http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/wowissue0_pg2.jpg
- ^ http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/wowissue0_pg4.jpg
- ^ http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/wowissue0_pg5.jpg
- ^ http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/wowissue0_pg1.jpg
- ^  : "For every time I was thrown into one of your damned arenas..."
- ^ Alliance Player's Guide, 42
- ^ Legends Volume 2, Family Values
- ^ Alliance Player's Guide, 46
- ^ Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, 50
- ^ Rise of the Horde
- ^ 
- ^ Rise of the Horde
- ^ Rise of the Horde
- ^ "The Invasion of Kalimdor: By Demons be Driven", Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Blizzard Entertainment.
- ^ Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War, chapter 2
- ^ Warcraft II manual
- ^ Lord of the Clans
- ^ Playable orc models in World of Warcraft
- ^ Rise of the Horde
- ^ Fel orc models in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
- ^ Lord of the Clans
- ^ Grey skinned, tatooed orcs in World of Warcraft, usually members of cults such as the Twilight’s Hammer and the Cult of the Damned
- ^ The Prophecy
- ^ Orc blood in-game in Warcraft III
- ^ "The Founding of Durotar: Theramore Isle", Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment.
- ^ Tides of Darkness, 20
- ^ Cycle of Hatred, 13-14