Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Orcs Through the Editons from 1st edtion AD&D to 5th edtion D&D.

The orc is an eternal favorite heavy and cannon fodder of D&D. With each edtion of the game the Orc has been reworked to fit the new editon. Here’s the stats across the edtions from 1srt edtion aD&D to the new 5th Edtion D&D with my comments after each.

1st Edition AD&D Orc
MOVE: 9"
% IN LAIR: 35%
TREASURE TYPE: Individuals 1; C, 0, Q ( X IO), S in lair
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-8 or by weapon type
INTELLIGENCE: Average (low)
ALIGNMENT: Lawful evil
SIZE: M (6'+ tall)
AttackDefense Modes: Nil

The traditional orc is a minion of evil, soldiers of the leviathan that threatens to consume all in warfare. Along with the base stats we get tribal organization, a little details on elites and others who may associate with orcs and their nasty breeding habits.

2nd edition AD&D Orc
Any land



Activity Cycle:


Average (8-10)

L (C,O,Q×10,S)

Lawful evil

No. Appearing:
30-300 (3d10×10)

Armor Class:
6 (10)

9 (12)

Hit Dice:


No. of Attacks:

1-8 (weapon)

Special Attacks:

Special Defenses:

Magic Resistance:

M (6’ tall)

Steady (11-12)

XP Value:
Subchief, leader: 35
Guard: 35
Chief: 65
Bodyguard: 65
Shaman, 1st: 35
Shaman, 3rd: 175
Shaman, 5th: 650

Orcs get a little brighter, they are now of average average intelligence. We still get the break down of these minions of evil but a little less detail outside of their elites, their vile breeding habits are not noted.

3.x Orc from Hypertext d20 SRD

Orc, 1st-Level Warrior
1d8+1 (5 hp)
30 ft. (6 squares)
13 (+3 studded leather armor), touch 10, flat-footed 13
Falchion +4 melee (2d4+4/18-20) or javelin +1 ranged (1d6+3)
Falchion +4 melee (2d4+4/18-20) or javelin +1 ranged (1d6+3)
5 ft./5 ft.
Darkvision 60 ft., light sensitivity
Fort +3, Ref +0, Will -2
Str 17, Dex 11, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 7, Cha 6
Temperate hills
Gang (2-4), squad (11-20 plus 2 3rd-level sergeants and 1 leader
of 3rd-6th level), or band (30-100 plus 150% noncombatants plus
1 3rd-level sergeant per 10 adults, 5 5th-level lieutenants, and
3 7th-level captains)
Often chaotic evil
By character class

Orcs got brawny in third edition they changed from the faceless minions of brutal evil to chaotic brutish raiders of computer warming fame. Orcs went from being a constant annoyance to a notable threat at low level 2d4+4 damage at +4 to hit was pretty good even in 3e D&D for a 1 HD monster. Their alignments changed they are now wild raiders. Less specific information is given to their habits and organization, everything can produce offspring in 3e D&D which suffered from a sometimes comical half=this-and that syndrome. They gather in smaller numbers in this edtion but that’s probabky a good thing as they are pretty tough in the damage output for monsters of their HD. Granted the default stats are for Orc Warriors if you had Orc Rogues, Orc Adepts, or Orc Gardeners the stats would be fairly different in 3rd edition.

4th edition orc from Monster Manual
Orc Raider Level 3 Skirmisher
Medium natural humanoid XP 150
Initiative +5      Senses Perception +1; low-light vision
HP 46; Bloodied23; see also warrior’s surge
Fortitude15, Reflex14, Will12
Speed6 (8 while charging)
Greataxe(standard; at-will) *Weapon
+8 vs. AC; 1d12 + 3 damage (crit 1d12 + 15).
Handaxe(standard; at-will) *Weapon
Ranged 5/10; +7 vs. AC; 1d6 + 3 damage; see also killer’s eye
Warrior’s Surge
(standard, usable only while bloodied; encounter) *Healing, Weapon
The orc raider makes a melee basic attack and regains 11 hit
Killer’s Eye
When making a ranged attack, the orc raider ignores cover and
concealment (but not total concealment) if the target is within 5
squares of it.
Alignment Chaotic evil
Languages Common, Giant
Endurance +8, Intimidate +5
Str 17 (+4)  Dex15 (+3) Wis10 (+1) Con14 (+3)  Int8 (+0)  Cha9 (+0)
leather armor, greataxe, 4 handaxes

Oh boy…. 46 hp, +8 to hit. And these are skirmisher orcs, there are details given for minion class (all 1 hp mooks), warrior Orcs (9th level) and a couple others.   ORc skirmisher are darned good with their bows and have the bizzare ability to regain HP when they stick an arrow in someone. This monster is a great example of why many didn’t care for 4th edition D&D.

5th edtion Orc from Legacy of the Crystal Shard
Medium Humanoid (Orc)
Armor Class 13 (studded leather)
Hit Points 11 (2d8 + 2)
Speed 30 ft.
Senses darkvision  60 ft.
Str 14 (+2) Dex 10 (+0) Con 12 (+1)
Int 7 (–2) Wis 11 (+0) Cha 10 (+0)
Alignment chaotic evil
Languages Common, Orc
Relentless: If the orc takes damage that reduces it to 0 hit
points, it can make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of
5 + the damage taken. If the saving throw succeeds, the orc
drops to 1 hit point instead. If the orc has only 1 hit point at
the end of its next turn, it drops to 0 hit points.
Melee Attack—Greataxe: +4 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one creature).
Hit: 8 (1d12 + 2) slashing damage.
Ranged Attack—Shortbow: +2 to hit (range 80 ft./320 ft.; one
creature). Hit: 3 (1d6) piercing damage.
Encounter Building
Level 3 XP 70

The orc has been toned down. He’s got 11 hp average (2d8+2) Hit Dice are technically there but have been otherwise dropped from this edition as a term to describe monsters. These guys are still wild and savage raider types. Orcs are hard to kill in this version for some odd reason unless you hit then with massive damage they have a good chance to keep on fighting. They are running about with pretty fearsome weaponry and are going to be hitting with it a fair amount of the time.. Orc organization is absent in this write-up but it’s not a complete monster manual entry at this point. Supposedly this new and improved orc is useable over a wider range of character levels, so was the 1st edition orc instead of 10 you used 20,30 or 200.  This is not the Orc of old, it might be the Uruk-Hai but common orcs seem to have departed for the western shore.


  1. This are a couple misconceptions about the 4e Orc that colors part of your assessment of the 5e Orc.

    The hit point regen occurs only on a Melee attack, not a Ranged attack. In 4e, Orc Raiders are essentially the Beserkers of the Orc monster group. Their healing power is essentially a 1-round rage (that can only be used once per encounter after having lost half his hit points). Seen through that lens, this isn't a bizarre feature, but a cool combat option. It is like adding a Beserker class level to the monster template ala 3rd Edition. Instead of monster class levels, 4e gave us monster traits and special attacks like these.

    Monster traits and special attacks are actually some of the cool features from 4th edition that came to 5e. Traits in 5e like "Relentless" come directly from that 4e design paradigm.

    Also, while the hit points appear excessive on the 4e Orc, PC hit point are also ramped up significantly, so this creature is actually relatively average for a 3rd level skirmisher. This is why you can't easily compare 4e to other editions. Offensive and defensive numbers (AC, To Hit, Damage, etc) are on a slightly different scale. Hit Point inflation was a severe problem with 4th Edition... But when you take the Hit Point inflation into consideration, the new 5e orc is roughly equivalent to the 4e skirmisher on the power scale. Note how they both do 1d12 damage as a base.This actually makes the 5e orc more dangerous to 5e PCs than the 4e orc is to 4e PCs... So in 5th Edition, he's not "toned down" at all.

    1. Oops. Do have a mistake in the 4e writeup, I'll get to thta later. Not beinga 4e player at all it still looks like 5thOrc is toned down a bit as he'll go down in only one or two strikes unless he keeps making those saves to stay on his feet. This is not the same orc as 1st, 2nd or even 3rd edition, a solid sword blow always put an orc down in those rules.

    2. True, he will go down more quickly... but if he makes his saves, he's going to hit back hard. :)

    3. It looks to me like the 5ed orc seen here can normally only get a single extra turn: He only gets the save when he is going to be dropped due to damage, what happens at the end of the next turn is a direct change in HP rather than damage.

      So it seems that Relentless means that the orc will simply get to make a parting attack before he goes down unless he has some way to get healing right away.

  2. That is not the 5e Orc. That's still playtest. Here's the Starter Set Orc, no "Relentless" but a lil stronger and tougher:
    AC13 HP15
    Speed30 ("Aggressive Trait: bonus action to move toward a foe, basically allowing a double move and hit)
    Str16 DEX12 CON16 INT7 Wis11 CHA10
    Intimidation+2 DarkVision ChallengeRating 1/2
    GreatAxe +5 (d12+3), Javelin +5 (d6+3)
    They are described as pig-faced barbarians, pretty old school there.

    1. I suppose the starter set monsters might be feature reduced and not like Monster Manual version.

  3. From a player perspective there are really only 9-11 stats to keep track of: Hit Dice, Initiative, Armor Class, Movement/Speed, Number of Attacks, Damage/Attack, Special Attack, Special Defense, Treasure (and maybe Magic Resistance and Size depending on the edition)