The AD&D 2e Player's Handbook did not list half-orc as a playable race, unlike 1e.

However, half-orcs in the Monstrous Compendium are listed under orcs with class and levels limits if players want to play them. Furthermore, some adventures like Doom of Daggerdale (Wikipedia link) have NPC half-orcs with full statistics, something restricted to playable races in 2e.

What was the real status of playable half-orc characters in 2e?


2 Answers 2


Half-orcs, as well as many other playable races, are covered in the Complete Book of Humanoids in 2e (and then again later in Player’s Option: Skills & Powers). Historically speaking, people certainly played half-orcs in 2e times, with DM approval.

  • \$\begingroup\$ For those who want a link the book is listed on DMs Guild with an explicit mention of half-orc PCs. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 14:08
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu: I think "the" was just a typo for "then", and I've edited the answer accordingly. (mxy, if that's wrong, feel free to fix it.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 16:52

The AD&D 2e Dungeon Master Guide provides for this.

In Chapter 2 ("Player Character Races") of the AD&D 2e Dungeon Master Guide, after the discussion of the standard races available for PCs you find the Creating New Player Races section.

The races listed in the players handbook are only a few of the possible intelligent races populating the worlds of the AD&D game. Adventurous DMs and players may want to experiment with characters of other races, such as orcs, lycanthropes, ogres, lizardmen, or even dragons. Before you do this, however ...

The DMG goes on to outline four basic constraints:

  1. The race should be humanoid (two arms, two legs, hands and feet, etc.).
  2. The race cannot possess special abilities (like a brownie or a dragon)
  3. The race cannot be extra-dimensional.
  4. The race must be cooperative and willing to interact with the human world. (Examples of duergar and satyrs as bad candidates are offered).
    {And then it says this (to the DM)} : You must judge this criterion based on the conditions in your game world.

AD&D 2e default assumes that the DM is the world builder.

It then goes on to say:

If the conditions are met, the race can be considered as a possible player character race. Some examples of races that definitely fit the profile are half orcs, orcs, half ogres, lizardmen, goblins, centaurs, and kobolds.

The DMG then goes on to provide some guidance on ability score bonuses and penalties, as well as some guidance on class limitations as needed.

Bottom Line

The player who wants that option for a PC race needs to work with the DM, or get from the DM what a half-orc PC has as compared to the standard races in the PHB. (It's not that hard to implement, if one follows the DMG's guidance).

As with the general case for TSR D&D editions, the "there has to be a rule for this" mindset is absent.

Players Options, Skills and Powers

If one is using the later AD&D 2e material (which some people refer to as AD&D 2.5e though that's hardly official) then the Players Options volumes have some more detail. In Chapter 3 of Players Options Skills and Powers, Tables 13 through 17, various humanoids are included along with humans and demihumans, and this inlcudes half orcs.
(Thanks @mxyzplk for the reminder to check that).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I have the 2e DMG, the general rules for adding races allow for lots of things. However the Monstrous Compendium lists class and level combinations for half-orcs while it doesn't for other monsters. The special treatment of half-orcs stands out especially since monsters in general didn't get stats in 2e. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 19:29
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelShopsin Then use them. Or apply different ones. DMs are not constrained by the books in AD&D 2e. They really do mean "guide" in the Dungeon Masters Guide. It was written and updated to reflect about 15 years of experience with the previous versions of the game, as regards things that tended to work. See paragraph 2 of the DMG, Foreward to Second Edition, written by Zeb Cook in 1989. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 19:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .