The Gate-Stones of Lunestriel
Half-Orcs are a race of the Dowmarri, meaning “Portal-born”, having traveled to Lunestriel by way of the Gate-Stones, with humans and dwarves and other Dowmarii. They are a new race to Lunestriel. Many have come in hopes of starting a new life free from the stereotypes that followed them in Golarion. They have had a few new opportunities, though it seems in many ways, the stigma remains.
Half-orcs average around 5’0" to 6’8" feet tall, with powerful builds and greenish or grayish skin. The males are typically large and stout, whereas the females are shorter and more slender. Females weigh around 120 to 240 pounds wheres the larger males weigh 160 to 300 pounds. Their canine teeth often grow long enough to protrude from their mouths, and these “tusks,” combined with heavy brows and slightly pointed ears, give them their notoriously bestial appearance. While half-orcs may be impressive, few ever describe them as beautiful. Despite these obvious orc traits, half-orcs are as varied as their human parents. They reach adulthood by age 14 and live average lifespans of 70 years.
Unlike half-elves, where at least part of society’s discrimination is born out of jealousy or attraction, half-orcs get the worst of both worlds: physically weaker than their orc kin, they also tend to be feared or attacked outright by humans who don’t bother making the distinction between full orcs and half bloods. Even on the best of terms, half-orcs in civilized societies are not exactly accepted, and tend to be valued only for their physical abilities. On the other hand, orc leaders have been known to deliberately spawn half-orcs, as the half breeds make up for their lack of physical strength with increased cunning and aggression, making them natural leaders and strategic advisors. Within orc tribes, half-orcs find themselves constantly striving to prove their worth in battle and with feats of strength. Half-orcs raised within orc tribes are more likely to file their tusks and cover themselves in tribal tattoos. Tribal leaders quietly recognize that half-orcs are often more clever than their orc cousins and often apprentice them to the tribe’s shaman, where their cunning might eventually strengthen the tribe. Apprenticeship to a shaman is a brutal and often short-lived distinction, however, and those half-orcs who survive it either become influential in the tribe or are eventually driven to leave.
Half-orcs have a much more mixed experience in human society, where many cultures view them as little more than monsters. They often are unable even to get normal work, and are pressed into service in the military or sold into slavery. In these cultures, half-orcs often lead furtive lives, hiding their nature whenever possible. The dark underworld of society is often the most welcoming place, and many half-orcs wind up serving as enforcers for thieves guilds or other types of organized crime. Less commonly, human cities may allow half-orcs a more normal existence, even enabling them to develop small communities of their own. These communities are usually centered around the arena districts, the military, or mercenary organizations where their brute strength is valued and their appearance is more likely to be overlooked. Even surrounded by their own kind, half-orc life isn’t easy. Bullying and physical confrontation comes easy to a people who have been raised with few other examples of behavior. It is, however, one of the best places for young half-orcs to grow up without prejudice, and these small enclaves are one of the few places where half-orc marriages and children are truly accepted and sometimes cherished.
Elves and dwarves tend to be the least accepting of half-orcs, seeing in them too great a resemblance to their racial enemies, and other races aren’t much more understanding. A lifetime of persecution leaves the average half-orc wary and quick to anger, yet people who break through his savage exterior might find a well-hidden core of empathy. Human societies with few orc problems tend to be the most accommodating, and half-orcs dwelling there can often find work as mercenaries and enforcers. Even in places where there is a general tolerance for half-orcs, however, many humans mistreat them when they can get away with it.
Half-orcs are envious of the measure of acceptance half-elves have within human and elven society and resent their physical beauty, which contrasts starkly to the half-orcs’ brutish appearance. While half-orcs avoid antagonizing their half-breed cousins directly, they won’t hesitate to undermine them if the opportunity presents itself.
Of all the other races, half-orcs are most sympathetic with halflings, who often have an equally rough lot in life. Half-orcs respect the halfling’s ability to blend in and disappear and admire their perpetually cheerful outlook on life in spite of hardships. Halflings fail to appreciate this fact because they usually are too busy avoiding the large, intimidating half-orcs.