Orc (starting race)

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For other uses, see Orc.

You can play NetHack as an Orc: o. You will see yourself as @ (unless you have showrace turned on), but you are actually considered to be designated by the letter o for other purposes. According to the guidebook:

Orcs are a cruel and barbaric race that hate every living thing (including other orcs). Above all others, Orcs hate Elves with a passion unequalled, and will go out of their way to kill one at any opportunity. The armor and weapons fashioned by the Orcs are typically of inferior quality.

Racial benefits and restrictions

Orcs have intrinsic infravision and poison resistance. Like cavemen, they suffer no penalty for cannibalism, nor for eating cats and dogs, and they never get nausea from eating tripe rations. As an orc, you will also find many more peaceful inhabitants in the early and middle dungeon levels.

Orcs are always chaotic. They can be Barbarians, Rogues, Rangers or Wizards. From an attribute perspective, they are somewhat terrible; at their maximum they can have moderately high strength, average dexterity and constitution, but suffer in all other aspects—intelligence, wisdom and charisma. Each of their maximum attributes is lower than or equal to the corresponding maximum of every other race except elves. The following table outlines their maximum (unaided) attribute levels.

Strength Dexterity Constitution Intelligence Wisdom Charisma
Orc 18/50 18 18 16 16 16

Starting equipment

The starting equipment of an orc character is inferior to that of other characters, because all weapons or armor are replaced with orcish equivalents where possible. However, orcish arrows shot from an orcish bow receive a +1 multishot bonus.

To compensate slightly for this, orcish non-Wizards start with two random food items, each of which may be in a stack of one or two. If the random food items are lembas wafers or cram rations, they will be replaced with tripe rations.[1]


  • The ability to eat poisonous corpses such as kobolds or giant spiders early in the game is useful for saving nutrition.
  • Orcs will not suffer nausea when consuming tripe rations. This is useful for getting the most out of your food early on, but it also prevents them from confusing themselves with tripe later on.
  • All chaotic players can automatically convert cross-aligned altars by sacrificing their own race on them. This is an easier task for the orc player on early levels.
    • Subsequent orc sacrifices will summon major demons out of Gehennom as peaceful, which is a good way to avoid fighting them later. Further sacrifices will summon peaceful foocubi, giving orcs an easy way to power up in the mid- to late game.



In SLASH'EM, orcs have several more options for roles. An orc can play as a Barbarian, Flame Mage, Ice Mage, Necromancer, Ranger, Rogue, Undead Slayer, or Wizard. Beyond that, they are largely the same as Vanilla, good physical fighters, low mental stats and charisma, start with poison resistance, can commmit cannibalism without penalty, and start with inferior equipment. Unlike most races, do not gain any race-based techniques.


Orcs are substantially buffed, especially attribute-wise. They get increased constitution, dexterity, and strength on levelling up, which can exceed the racial maximum. Their basic max strength is changed to 18 flat to compensate. They get 1 added to each of their scores every three levels, for a total of +7 at level 21 (and all levels beyond). This bonus is lost upon level drain. In addition to being able to commit cannibalism, orcs gain an alignment bonus for eating orc corpses. ("You feel evil and fiendish!")

Orc attributes Strength Dexterity Constitution Intelligence Wisdom Charisma
Level 30, maximum stats 25 25 25 16 16 16
Level 1, maximum stats 18 18 18 16 16 16

Orcs also get intrinsic magic resistance at level 15. The message for this is "You feel magic resistant!" on level-up, "You feel magic-sensitive!" on level drain.

Orcs get 2 extra point of AC on level-up, for a total of -10 naked AC. This is calculated by the formula (2*level)/3, so a level 30 orc would get −20 AC from their natural armor, in addition to −7 AC at 25 dex, for a total of −17 naked AC.

Lastly, orcs get a level+2/3 to-hit and damage bonus and a (level/3)*10 bonus to carry cap. Along with gnomes, they get double the radius of low-light vision.

This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.0. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-360}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.

  1. src/u_init.c in NetHack 3.6.2, line 1055: Before NetHack 3.6.2, this substitution was still listed, but did not work due to a bug.