What is considered an enemy for an Orc’s Aggressive trait?

Volo’s Guide to Monsters says that you may play an Orc character, which gives you the following trait, amongst others (p. 120):

Aggressive. As a bonus action, you can move up to your speed toward an enemy of your choice that you can see or hear.

My question is: what can be considered as an enemy for this trait to apply?

  1. Anything I want
  2. Any living creature, including non-hostile ones
  3. Only creatures that are hostile to me (actual enemies)

For example, can I choose a tree as my enemy, justifying it by a "Me find tree insult my race, me hate tree, me ANGRY!", and then bonus-move toward said tree?

Why were Orcs changed from lawful evil in AD&D 2e to chaotic evil by D&D 5e? [closed]

When I played AD&D 1e and 2e Orcs were listed as lawful evil in the Monster Manual. Lawful Evil as their alignment was consistent with other similar races like Goblins, Hobgoblins, and Bugbears. To my surprise the D&D 5e Monster Manual lists Orcs alignment as chaotic evil, with a description of how Orc tribes work. Why was the Orc alignment changed?

Plenty of AD&D 1e and 2e adventures had Orcs as mercenaries which fit the LE willingness to follow orders. Orcs as CE seem unsuited to organization beyond a tribe as they follow only the strong. The AD&D 2e Monster Manual even suggested that trade was possible with Orcs if you had a well defended enough settlement that trade would be easier than conquest.

Where do D&D Orcs come from?

I’ve always assumed that with all modern fantasy, D&D included, their racial archetypes for their inhabitants always had their roots from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. And in part, I do believe there is enough healthy evidence to indicate that many of D&D’s Orc characteristics are indeed inspired from Tolkien’s Orc, whether it’s their physical prowess, inherent brutality (although this is likely to change very soon), militaristic organisation, etc.

But where do they really come from? Tolkien’s Orc stems from enslaved and corrupted elves who had their humanity literally tortured out of them. Where do D&D orcs come from and what makes them what they are?

Is there an official description of the appearance and culture of tribal orcs?

I play on a Neverwinter Nights persistent world module that uses the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rules. I’m editing and updating the module’s features into a new document. The module allows players to pick different races. I want to add pictures of the various available races and a short blurb about each race’s culture to help players role-play.

However, I’m struggling to locate information on tribal orcs. I’d like to have a brief physical and cultural description of this race that’s drawn from official 3.5 material. Is such information available?

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?

Are the orcs of the D&D core canon not above eating sentient humanoids?

Are the orcs of the D&D core canon cannibals, i.e. not above eating sentient humanoids?

As far as I can remember, Tolkien’s orcs seem to have no qualms about doing so (thanks for the link, Flamma), though I’m not sure they would’ve eaten their own kind as well.

What’s the official stance (if there’s any) on the feeding habits of DnD’s orcs?

I’d be most interested in v3.5’s “core setting” or that of the upcoming Next’s (and least interested in v4’s anything :)), though a comprehensive but abridged history could be a nice plus.