Orcs are not randomly generated, but can appear in a game that has Orcish Town present - various named orcs may be among the orcish monsters generated carrying looted items. Orcs can grow up to become orc-captains.
An orc zombie or orc mummy will leave an aged orc corpse behind upon death; player orcs that are killed and leave bones will have a gnome corpse atop their grave, unless they were killed by certain monsters or else stoned or disintegrated. Orcs can be generated by zapping a wand of undead turning at an orc corpse not left by a mummy or zombie, or selecting orcs when reading a cursed scroll of genocide.
"Plain" orcs are not too substantially different from hobgoblins and hill orcs minus a slightly stronger weapon attack, and can be defeated with much of the same tactics. Pursuing any orcs you encounter during a game with Orcish Town is generally a good idea in order to nab the candles and gloves they may be carrying.
The orc is one of the many monsters present in hack121 and Hack for PDP-11, variants of Jay Fenlason's Hack. Orcs also appear in the initial bestiary for Hack 1.0, and were present in each version up to NetHack 2.3e. In its appearances, orcs often generated in hordes similar to hill orcs in modern NetHack. In NetHack 3.0.0, the various types of orcs were introduced, alongside orc zombies and mummies, and the base orc was used for the purpose of generating corpses left by undead orcs; they are also used to represent the bones of player orcs once starting races were introduced in NetHack 3.3.0.
In hack121, orcs used the o glyph as in modern NetHack; in Hack for PDP-11, and from Hack 1.0 to NetHack 2.3e, orcs instead used the O glyph.
Orcs, bipeds with a humanoid appearance, are related to the
goblins, but much bigger and more dangerous. The average orc
is only moderately intelligent, has broad, muscled shoulders,
a short neck, a sloping forehead and a thick, dark fur.
Their lower eye-teeth are pointing forward, like a boar's.
Female orcs are more lightly built and bare-chested. Not
needing any clothing, they do like to dress in variegated
apparels. Suspicious by nature, orcs live in tribes or
hordes. They tend to live underground as well as above
ground (but they dislike sunlight). Orcs can use all weapons,
tools and armors that are used by men. Since they don't have
the talent to fashion these themselves, they are constantly
hunting for them. There is nothing a horde of orcs cannot
- src/mkmaze.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 740
- src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 397: default orcish armor
- src/makemon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 426: default orcish weapons
- src/mon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 147: Converting monster index of undead to corpses of their living counterparts
- src/mon.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 372: Undead corpses and their ages are handled with other "special" death drops
- src/monst.c in NetHack 3.6.7, line 624
- src/mkmaze.c in NetHack 3.6.2, line 804