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Playable races in World of Warcraft e
Alliance Dwarf · Gnome · Human · Night elf Orc · Tauren · Troll · Undead Horde
Orcs, born of the Red World
Character classesHunter, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior
Racial capitalOrgrimmar
Racial leader(s)Thrall, Son of Durotan, Warchief of the Horde
Racial mountWolf
HomeworldAzeroth (by way of Draenor)
Primary language(s)Orcish
Average height6.5-6.75 feet

The green-skinned orcs are one of the most prolific races of Azeroth. Born on the world of Draenor, the orcs were brought to Azeroth through the dimensional gateway known as the Dark Portal and waged war on the humans while under the influence of the Burning Legion.

The orcs once cultivated a noble, shamanistic society on Draenor. Tragically, the proud orc clans were corrupted by the Burning Legion and used as pawns in the Legion's invasion of Azeroth. The orcs managed to rebel, however, and they were ultimately able to help turn the tide against their demon masters. Led by the young warchief Thrall, the orcs have reclaimed their strength and honor. The orcs moved from the Eastern Kingdoms to Kalimdor, and founded the nation of Durotar.

Now, the orcs stand ready to fight not for the sake of conquest, but for their very right of survival in their adopted world.

Capital City: Orgrimmar

Orcs are a race originally from Draenor.

Starting Attributes

Attribute Base Druid Hunter Priest Shaman Warrior
Strength 23 23 24 24 23 26
Agility 17 20 20 17 17 17
Stamina 22 23 23 23 23 24
Intellect 17 17 17 18 19 17
Spirit 23 24 23 25 25 23

Racial Traits

Blood Fury - instant - 2 min cooldown
Increases base attack power by 25% for 15 seconds and reduces the effectiveness of healing spells on you by 50% for 25 seconds.
Hardiness - passive
Duration of Stun effects reduced by an additional 15%.
Command - passive
Damage dealt by Death Knight, Hunter, Shaman and Warlock pets increased by 5%.
Axe Specialization - passive
Expertise with Axes, Two-Handed Axes and Fist Weapons increased by 3.

Reasons for Racial Abilities

Orcs have racial abilities due to a long history in a warrior society. They had been corrupted by the Blood of Mannoroth which Grom Hellscream eventually removed. The Blood of Mannoroth caused them to enter of demon fury which was the cause of their viciousness in the First War. Orcs can work themselves up into a natural beserker frenzy called "Blood Fury". Orcs are also notoriously tough - a young teenage orc will already dwarf a robust human adult, and their skeletal structure is far more suited for battle. This has lead to a "Hardiness" which makes them resilient to being knocked out. For reasons unknown, orcs also share a great natural affinity with animals. Many animal-orc friendships are made as soon as they look into one another's eyes and find the same primal soul within each other. Their close mental connection to these beasts has lead them to be able to "Command" beasts with ease. Their culture has long relied on the axe as the weapon of choice, from infantry to generals. This instrument of war is valued so highly that it is taught to all orcs, resulting in them being skilled in "Axe Specialization".


Orcs are currently the only race capable of using both demons and beasts as pets, possessing both pet-using classes (Hunter and Warlock).


Orcish society has always characterized by hardy and rugged living. As a result they are staunch pragmatists, and are never shy of killing when it will protect the future of the orc or his clan. All orcs regardless of sex or station are expected to pull their own weight, and weakness is considered a grave liability. The weakness of one contaminates the weakness of all, and it is punishable by the greatest humiliation an orc can receive: exile. So it is more accurate to say that the orcs are utilitarian rather than noble, but different clans also have different personalities. Thrall and the Frostwolves have brought a notable influence of more compassion in the Horde, typically seen in Thrall's kinder treatment towards peons, who were viewed as a despicable sub-race. However there are clans such as the Warsong who still cling to the rigid, spartan beliefs valued in the Old Horde.

But regardless of clan affiliation, orcs prize honor above all else - first honor to the self, and second honor to the clan. Hospitality is considered one of the greatest honor someone can bestow upon another person. It is for this reason that the orcs and tauren have become fast and unswerving allies, because the tauren race offered the orcs (who were total strangers) shelter and assistance in a strange new land, and asked for nothing in return.

There is no discrimination between genders in orcish societies. 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.

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 clan 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.


Orcs are on average, six and a half feet tall, and possess muscular builds. Orc hair colors are usually very dark, often black, though sometimes it can be brown or red and occasionally has tints of blue or violet, and it grays with sickness or age. Orc eye colors include blue, brown, hazel, amber, red and orcs who has drank the blood of Mannoroth had eyes that glowed a bright, blood red. Pure blue eyes are quite rare in the orcish race, and are seen as a sign of great destiny[citation needed]. Thrall has blue eyes, and Garona in some depictions is shown with blue eyes. Orc males sometimes choose to grow beards that are wild and untamed, while others prefer them to be braided and tasseled. These beards always hang from the chin, as orcs do not grow heavy facial hair above their upper-lip. Orcs are green-skinned, usually ranging from a light chartreuse yellow or olive to a dark forest or emerald green, and fel orcs often possess red skin. An orc's face would be described by the more graceful 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. 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. Male Orcs possess a slight slouch, while females stand entirely erect.

Orcs, especially orc warriors, are fond of tattoos of orcish symbols that have abstract, yet personal meaning to the individual orc, such 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.

Skin color

Spoiler warning!
This article contains plot details about an upcoming episode.

The natural color of orcish skin is brown, from bark-like brown to reddish-brown. Their skin changes, however, in much the same manner as night elf eye color. WIth night elves, exposure to druidic magic turns their eyes a golden amber colour instead of silver. Similarly, orcish skin turns green when exposed to warlock magic. Unlike the night elf change, the nature of warlock magic means that the skin of all nearby orcs, including those who abhor warlock magic, turn green. This color change appears to be genetic. Also, orcs who directly consume the undiluted blood of Mannoroth will acquire red skin, and classification as a fel or chaos orc. Consumption of diluted blood will result in slightly red-tinted green skin, and will not classify one as a fel or chaos Orc. [citation needed] Currently, orcs have a variety of "natural" pigments, ranging between shades of light green, dark drab olive, brown to grayish brown[citation needed] [citation needed].


Orcs have a base in Outland.

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 both the ogre and the draenei. However, some 80 years ago, the respected shaman Ner'zhul, in a bid for power, struck a bargain with the powerful demon lord Kil'jaeden. 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. To obtain this power, the orcs would need to first drink from the blood of Mannoroth the Destroyer, 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.

With new demonic powers at their behest the orcs cast off the old ways, and 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 indiginous 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 would balloon into full scale bloodbaths, and total chaos decended upon orcish society. The few remaining draenei took advantage of this and started a guerilla campaign that continues to this day. Amidst this chaos, the 10-year-old Gul'dan began his apprenticeship under the warlock Ner'zhul.

Some twenty years later, Ner'zhul, no longer willing to watch his race destroy itself, betrayed Kil'jaeden and severed all communication with the demon. Kil'jaeden swore revenge against Ner'zhul, and turned his attention to Gul'dan, who had surpassed Ner'zhul in power. 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 encounteres and realized how to attain even more power.

Orcs stand triumphant after battle.

Gul'dan gathered all warlocks who shared a desire for ultimate power and attempted to the share knowledge of communing with the dead. Those who failed did not survive. The few warlocks 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. The Shadow Council barely pacified the clans of the Horde with the promise of new lands to conquer on worlds other than Draenor. Gul'dan and his warlocks began probing the Twisting Nether, desperately searching for new worlds within easy reach for the Horde to conquer before the clans' bloodlust exploded beyond control. Gul'dan also founded the schools of Necromancy to expand the new demonic magics to even more orcs.

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 Gul'dan could re-establish contact with it. Weeks later, Gul'dan was finally successful and opened up communication with Medivh, a sorceror 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. Conversely 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.

Orc from Korean commercial

Weeks later, Medivh returned to the dreams of the warlocks on Draenor, and presented them with images of the land of Azeroth. The Shadow Council, despite the debate over Medivh's true intentions, decided to strike a bargain 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 also partaken in the vision, were killed to allow the Horde to be properly prepared for a new invasion. Weeks passed with no further word from Medivh. Some members of the Council believed Medivh was playing tricks on them. But then, one day, the rift appeared.

Over 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 pre-emptive 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 Killrogg Deadeye of the Bleeding Hollow Clan, this attack ended in a humiliating defeat for the Horde. Both chieftains blamed the debacle on the other, and the Horde polarized 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.

Under Blackhand's iron fist, order was restored. It was upon this event 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 been spent. 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, the only clan of orcs that 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 and was taken in by a nobleman from Lordaeron escaping 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 Medivh emanated, and realized 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 from Medivh in his weakened and distracted state. It was at this moment that Medivh died. 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 Durotan's death. 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 attrition by 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 advances (such as the capture of the red dragon queen), 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 taking of their beloved lands of Khaz Modan, the dwarves and gnomes threw themselves gladly into the ranks. The betrayal of Alterac to the Alliance seemed to be a deathblow - but before the orcs' victory was finalized, the Horde suffered a betrayal of its own.

Believing victory to be inevitable, Gul'dan convinced Cho'gall of the Twilight's Hammmer 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, pulled much of his Horde away to crush both the clans and their leaders. This allowed the Alliance forces to rally and crush the Horde. 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 them placed in internment camps with hopes of the orcs one day losing their bloodlust and joining the Alliance. There, cut off from their demonic source and with no way to replenish their fel stamina, the orcs languished and eventually slipped into lethargy.

Thirty or so years after the Second War, the son of Durotan, named Thrall, 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 hoping for 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 he learned from their shaman about the orcs' noble heritage and how it had been corrupted by demons. Thrall swore to free his people from all the chains that bound them, and 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 their new Warchief. Unfortunately and ironically, during the attack on Durnholde, 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 and led his people from their captivity.

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 the new Horde.

Events of Warcraft 3

A troop of orcs and a kodo are marching to drums.

With the battle of Mount Hyjal over and the immediate threat to the world over, Thrall set out to found the new orcish homeland in Kalimdor. He named the new land Durotar in honor of his father and founded the city of Orgrimmar in honor of Doomhammer. With his allies the tauren and the support of the Lordaeron survivors under Jaina Proudmoore, he 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 so, 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 their loyalty was proven when they helped the orcs destroy the invading forces of Admiral Proudmoore. This unfortunate action irrevocably destroyed the former good relations between Theramore and Durotar (though Jaina still harbors little ill will).

A note regarding orcish names

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 spellcaster, but was 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.


  • Warcraft is one of the very few fantasy franchises where Orcs are put in a more positive light. This is still after a lengthy spell as 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 potray their redemption.
  • Warcraft: Orcs & Humans was originally supposed to be a Warhammer game.[citation needed] For one reason or another, the deal was broken off with the Games Workshop and the game was given a new storyline and a new universe. [citation needed] The Orcs in Warcraft were originally modeled after the Orcs of Warhammer, and it is because of this reason they share a striking similarity.