What makes Half-Orcs stronger than full Orcs?

This is something that’s been bothering me for quite a bit now.

If you take a look at the description of the Orc race in Volo’s Guide to Monsters, it states:

Orcs are vicious raiders, who believe that the world should be theirs. They also respect strength above all else and believe the strong must bully the weak to ensure that weakness does not spread like a disease.

However, here’s a description of the Half-Orc race in the Player’s Handbook:

Some half-orcs rise to become proud chiefs of orc tribes, their human blood giving them an edge over their full-blooded orc rivals.

And this is true, when you compare their differing racial abilities:


Relentless Endurance: When you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.

Savage Attacks: When you score a critical hit with a melee weapon attack, you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.


Aggressive: As a bonus action, you can move up to your movement speed toward a hostile creature you can see or hear. You must end this move closer to the enemy than you started.

Powerful Build: You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.

My main question is… Why?

What makes a Half-Orc gain such an in-combat superiority over their full-blooded brethren? The lack of a -2 intelligence modifier makes sense given their human blood, and arguably you could chalk up their savage attacks due to increased intelligence/tactical superiority. But what about Relentless Endurance?

Wouldn’t it make more sense that the race known for its aggression and selective breeding produce units that have tangible combat advantages beyond the heavy lifting and movement bonuses?

It really boils down to two questions for me:

  1. What lore is there as to why Half-Orcs are stronger, both lore-wise and mechanically, to pure Orcs?

  2. Is this historically how it’s always been, half-orcs being superior to full orcs? If so, why haven’t Orcs assimilated sooner with other races, with the clearly more intelligent and stronger Half-Orc tribes obliterating their weaker, pure-blooded opposition?

Between the half-orc’s Savage Attacks trait and the Elven Accuracy racial feat, which is better?

The description of the half-orc’s Savage Attacks trait says:

When you score a critical hit with a melee weapon attack, you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.

The Elven Accuracy racial feat for elves and half-elves grants the following benefits (XGtE, p. 74):

  • Increase your Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma score by 1, to a maximum of 20.

  • Whenever you have advantage on an attack roll using Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma, you can reroll one of the dice once.

Generally or mathematically speaking, which one of these is better?

If you need a context, let’s say Fighter/Champion level 3 (critical on 19-20) and Fighter/Champion level 15 (critical on 18-20). Or let’s say Fighter/Champion 15 and Warlock 5 with Hex on the target (extra 1d6 per hit, which would be rolled twice on a critical hit). Or any other similar effect which adds dice rolls on hit which would then be rolled twice on a critical. Let’s say we’re using a 2-handed weapon that does 1d12 damage.

Let’s also throw in the Great Weapon Fighting fighting style (Fighter 2):

When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit.

From my (basic) understanding, the Elven Accuracy feat would provide a lot more critical hits.

GWF and Savage Attack push the average damage up, but I’m not quite sure how to calculate the two scenarios.

I would really enjoy an analysis similar to what was provided here: Does the Resilient (Con) feat or the War Caster feat most improve the chances of maintaining concentration?

How does the Great Weapon Fighting fighting style interact with critical hits and the half-orc’s Savage Attacks trait?

We know that the Great Weapon Fighting fighting style allows the rerolling of all 1 and 2s that come from a weapon taking the new roll.

If a player using a Greatsword gets a critical hit and rolls 4d6 damage, does the GWF count for all 4d6, or just the underlying 2d6?

Does a Half-Orc get to apply GWF to their Savage Attacks, allowing a potential 5d6 under the GWF rule to be rerolled on 1 and 2’s?

What relationship do dwarves and half-orcs have in Golarion?

I am just writing an adventure around the dwarven and orc history. In my party I have a dwarf and a half-orc (we have not played yet). Reading the Pathfinder Handbook Dwarfes of Golarion it is quite clear that they absolutely hate Orcs. But there is no information about the relation to half orcs. Is there any source with information about it?

Can the Half-Orc’s relentless endurance protect them from things that would normally kill someone instantly

In our campaign, we have a Half-Orc Barbarian. Very original. We are going along this cliff-side fortress and our worried about falling off. The Half-Orc’s player jokingly says that he’ll be fine, due to his Relentless Endurance. But I was thinking about it, and it seems like he’s right, but this seems excessive. Could he really survive the fall? Or survive lava? Or anything else that should kill instantly?

Can a Half-Orcs have only one Orc grandparent?

Can a Half-Orcs have only one Orc grandparent?

Does a Half-Orc need to have one human parent and one orc? Or could it be 25% human 75% Orc for instance, or the other way round?

I am thinking about this for a back story and also what happens if you play a female Half-Orc and want offspring in the game.

I can’t find that much information in the the Player’s Handbook or the Monster’s Manual.

Orc’s Plunder thanks you.

Do the Shadow Magic sorcerer’s Strength of the Grave feature and the half-orc’s Relentless Endurance trait work together?

I have a player that wants to create a character that is a Half-Orc Shadow Sorcerer; specifically they want to use the combination of the Shadow Sorcerer’s Strength of the Grave feature and the Half-Orc’s Relentless Endurance to be very hard to kill.

If the character is reduced to 0 hp and decides to use Strength of the Grave, but fails the saving throw, can they then use Relentless Endurance to avoid being knocked out anyway?