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"Orcs: How Tough?" Topic

19 Posts

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16 Jun 2018 10:46 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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939 hits since 20 Nov 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian20 Nov 2017 5:10 p.m. PST

Compared to human warriors, how tough should typical Orc warriors be?

Dn Jackson20 Nov 2017 5:35 p.m. PST

Going by Tolkien, fairly weak. The great orcs were nearly human sized.

rvandusen20 Nov 2017 5:41 p.m. PST

Average orcs in daylight = weak
At night on the surface = average (heroes should make short work of them)
Underground = fairly strong in defending their lairs.

Great orcs will be strong in any situation.

Gone Fishing20 Nov 2017 6:14 p.m. PST

I'm not sure this would be borne out by a close reading of JRRT, but my take has always been thus:

Goblins, smaller Orcs, are very weak they would rely on ambush or huge numbers to take down their prey.

Standard Orcs are the equivalent of weak men, though they might run about equal at night. It's their numbers that can get deadly.

Uruks, of Great Orcs, the equivalent of an average human warrior. Nothing great, and still cannon-fodder for heroic types, but they do have the advantage of not being weakened by the sun.

That's how I've always seen them.

By the way, there is a superb discussion on LAF about the natue of Orcs. If you haven't seen it, it's well worth perusing:


USAFpilot20 Nov 2017 6:18 p.m. PST

Depends on who's definition of orc. My first encounter with them was from playing AD&D circa 1980. The orc was a one hit die monster, which meant it was tougher than your average human, but weaker than a human warrior.

The Beast Rampant20 Nov 2017 6:20 p.m. PST

T: 4

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2017 6:45 p.m. PST

Goblins – weasly

Proper Orks – tough

skinkmasterreturns20 Nov 2017 8:38 p.m. PST

They always talk about great numbers of Orcs. I shudder to even imagine how that comes about.

Leadjunky Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2017 10:00 p.m. PST

Orcs are strong, huge, green, ape-like creatures. 😁

David Johansen20 Nov 2017 11:05 p.m. PST

I'd generally think that orcs are tougher fighters than humans but also less disciplined. Orcs aren't necessarily stupid, just ignorant and mean.

It depends a bit. If you're looking at Tolkien's large goblins or more generic primitive fantasy mooks.

langobard Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2017 2:33 a.m. PST

I prefer to think of orcs as having a highly developed sense of tactical nouse. That is, they prefer overwhelming numbers, but this theory can be undone if they unwittingly attack a party comprised of, or at least including, heroes warriors etc. in which case the orcs find themselves on the wrong end of a slaughter.

By and large, orcs aren't going to attack unless they think they can win. They must have good camouflage discipline because mostly if the don't attack, humans don't know they are there…But I'd have to say that even orcs don't think that there is any 'sport' in a one to one fight and this makes me lean toward the idea that humans are tougher.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2017 4:23 a.m. PST

I always felt they were as tough as humans but used large numbers to overwhelm opponents. No great tacticians among them just brute force & joy in the fight.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine21 Nov 2017 4:39 a.m. PST

Really depends on your setting GW orcs are nothing like Middle Earth orcs and Forgotten Realms orcs are different again.

Legion 421 Nov 2017 6:47 a.m. PST

From what I'm getting from most of the various SF fluff, etc.. They are about as tough as humans. But not as "intelligent". Just like ZULUPAUL mentioned … They prefer mass attacks, brute force, etc. Not too much tactical "savvy" …

PrivateSnafu21 Nov 2017 10:01 a.m. PST

Orcs are vicious and warlike in nature. They are terrifying for ordinary folk. Merchants, tradesmen, farmers, and peasants are easy targets for orcs. In any kind of force bigger than a small group orcs murder, enslave, and devour commonfolk with impunity. In a one to one match up a common man is little match for an orc.

A man-at-arms has a different opinion of orcs. They respect their viciousness and are cautious when confronting them. Depending on training and equipment men-at-arms can be either fodder as much as common-folk are or defenders. Well lead and working together the local militia can stand their ground. Hunting orcs down and exterminating them is left for trained men-at-arms, the Ruler's professional soldiers, or hired heroes.

The town watch with low levels of training and armor little more than helmets and shields, are at best equal to orcs.

The local lords men with swords, shields, mail and some drilling can best an orc the majority of the time. When outnumbered orcs are extremely dangerous to the lords men.

The local militia/town watch reinforced by the lords men is the model for rural defense. It is usually enough to keep the threat of orcs small.

The kings army with high quality arms and armor along with drilling and training are more than a match for orcs of equal numbers. The ability to use tactics (shield walls, closing ranks, etc.) and their discipline give them the edge in the vast majority of fights. A professional soldier is worth several orcs.

The Kings cavalry has no fear of orcs and will gladly hunt down and slaughter orc armies often even when outnumbered.

Thomas Thomas21 Nov 2017 11:56 a.m. PST

As you can see it depends on your fantasy source. Since all are made up, they vary by taste.

Tolkien who (more or less) invented has them weaker than men unless "bred up". (Competence/training with arms is another matter I'm assuming for this discussion its equal). Goblins to Tolkien meant much the same as "normal orc".

Others like GW have them tougher but slower.

Generally cannon fodder of evil (they should not trust other race politicians as much as they seem to do). Wolves seem to like them so maybe they have a gentler side around pack animals.


Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2017 3:48 p.m. PST

Less than human seem soft – their musculature suggests a strength equivalent only to our heavyweight athletes and body builders.
How that equates to being fodder for human armies needs a better explanation.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Nov 2017 5:53 p.m. PST

C'mon, guys … Orcs are only tough if you overcook them.

My Orcs start at professional human soldier level – there are no civilian Orcs. They go to double, quadruple, and 8-10 times the power of a professional solider. "Double Orcs" are low level leaders/toughs. Others are kings/queens or emperors.

Legion 428 Nov 2017 6:43 a.m. PST

That is why I always use a Crock Pot … wink

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