I'm trying to hammer out "better" rules for all the player races and incorporate some new ones - this is part dissatisfaction and part worldbuilding, as I am also in the (very early) stages of writing a campaign setting. I'll leave out all the boring cultural and psychological notes on orcs and get straight to the mechanics, which I am still working on ...
ORC RACIAL TRAITS
* +4 Strength, -2 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma: Orcs are almost unbelievably strong, but are impatient, irritable, and somewhat crude.
* Medium: As Medium creatures, orcs have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
* Orc base land speed is 30 feet.
* Darkvision: Orcs can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and orcs can function just fine with no light at all.
* Light sensitivity: Orcs are dazzled in bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight
* Automatic Languages: Gobbledygook. Bonus Languages: Giant, Gnoll, Dwar, and any human dialect.
* Favored class: Barbarian. A multi-class orc's barbarian class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty - orcs are militant and war-like, but Barbarians are far more common amongst them than fighters.
- Greater Orcs (Common, Wildlands Orcs)
- Greenskin Orcs
* +4 Strength, -2 Dexterity, -2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma: Just as strong as their more common cousins, the Greenskin orcs are slightly slower and more prone to introspection.
- Blackskin Orcs (Southron Orcs)
* +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma: The Blackskin, or Southron orcs are somewhat smaller and stockier than their northern cousins. They are also more sturdy.
* Daylight tolerance: Blackskin orcs respond to bright light in the same fashion as humans. They still prefer the darkness, however.
So, you can see that the basic orc traits are basically vanilla cut-and-pasted out of the Monster Manual. Even my two orc variants, Greenskins and Blackskins, are still quite bland. There should be more to playing a fantastical race than some stat adjustments and the ability to see in the dark, no? And you cannot, realistically, tell me that your elf wizard can use a longsword but my orc cleric can't wield a battle axe. So they need something to represent the fact that every orc has at least rudimentary beat-you-up skills.
I have three basic remedies.
A) All orcs are proficient in ... (insert small, 2-3 item list of culturally appropriate weapons, probably varying by subrace).
B) All orcs may select any three (or two or one) simple or martial weapons to be proficient in.
C) Orcs suffer only a -2 penalty for using a weapon in whose use they are not proficient, rather than the typical -4 penalty.
Discuss. Which of these is favorable? Why? And, of course, if you have any suggestions to make orcs a race that is both fun and balanced, sling 'em my way.
Next up: goblins.