A half-orc’s life is harsh, brutal, and unfair. Those who share blood with both humans and the savage orc must choose between a life spent mistrusted and feared in human kingdoms or one of unending conflict among their full-orc relatives.
It’s little wonder, then, that so many half-orcs choose to walk a middle path and take up the adventuring life.
If you’re playing a half-orc in Dungeons & Dragons 5e and want to emphasize the power and ferocity of your character’s orcish lineage, choosing the Orcish Fury feat is a good place to start.
What’s a Feat?
Feats are an optional, woefully underused feature of D&D 5e.
Whenever your character has the option to take an Ability Score Increase, you can instead opt to choose from an extensive list of feats – special abilities, buffs, and tweaks that have the potential to completely rework the way you play your character or just provide a nice incremental buff.
What Is the Orcish Fury Feat?
The Orcish Fury feat allows you to increase your Strength or Constitution score, lets you deal more damage with weapons once per short or long rest, and gives you an extra attack whenever you use your Relentless Endurance racial feature.
Your inner fury burns tirelessly. You gain the following benefits:
- Increase your Strength or Constitution score by 1 to a maximum of 20.
- When you hit with an attack using a simple or martial weapon, you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice an additional time and add it as extra damage of the weapon’s damage type. Once you use this ability, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
- Immediately after you use your Relentless Endurance trait, you can use your reaction to make one weapon attack.
Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
First of all, the fact this feat lets you bump an ability score in addition to the other, more unique benefits it provides.
This is great because choosing to take a feat typically means giving up an opportunity to increase one or more of your ability scores.
If a couple of your ability scores are hovering just below even numbers and an ASI would immediately bump up one or two of your modifiers, a feat starts to feel real expensive by comparison.
By letting you put an extra point into either your Strength or Constitution (the two stats that half-orcs get a racial bonus toward anyway), the Orcish Fury feat softens the sting of a missed ASI a little.
You’re still only putting a single point into an ability score (as opposed to two points into one ability or one point into two), but the special abilities that Orcish Fury affords you go a long way toward making up for that.
First, you get a really nice way to essentially guarantee a critical hit whenever you want once per short or long rest.
Being able to roll an extra damage die for your weapon (which can be simple, martial, ranged, or melee) whenever you want is fantastic if you just can’t seem to roll above a 19 and the dungeon boss really needs to die this round.
Also, if you do crit, you can always slap this effect on top for an even bigger pile of damage.
Annoyingly, linking this feat’s recharge to a short or long rest diminishes its usefulness at higher levels even more.
Not only is an extra damage die worth a lot less when you and your allies are going to be slinging tons of damage every turn, but higher-level characters tend toward having bigger pools of resources and need to rest less often, meaning you’ll probably have to wait longer to reuse something that probably isn’t all that useful any more.
Personally, if I were designing this feat, I’d rule that you could use it a number of times per long rest equal to your proficiency bonus.
This would keep the number of uses pretty much the same (assuming you take one short rest per adventuring day) at lower levels and let the feat scale a little better into the late game.
But proficiency bonus-based feats seem to be a relatively new discovery for the Wizards of the Coast design team, so here we are.
My favorite part of Orcish Fury is the free attack using your reaction whenever your Relentless Endurance is triggered.
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.
Assuming your character gets knocked out a lot, you basically get an extra attack once per day.
While that’s admittedly not the biggest deal in the world, I just love it as both a piece of design (feats that accentuate an existing rule or ability are just *chef’s kiss*) and a narrative moment.
Being able to tank a hit that should by rights have killed you, spit blood out of your mouth, stand up again, and immediately smack the BBEG around the side of the head is the kind of badass moment I want in my games.
The only other obvious “drawback” of the Orcish Fury feat is that you need to be playing a half-orc to take it. Other than incurring the jealousy of your dwarven and human allies, however, this isn’t a huge issue.
Assuming you’re using the basic rules for playable races rather than the custom lineage options found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, the benefits this feat provides synergize pretty perfectly with all the things that half-orcs are suited to in 5e anyway.
Which Classes Should Take the Orcish Fury Feat?
Any martial class that loves to hit stuff, get hit, and keep on hitting stuff (preferably with a big, two-handed weapon) is going to get the most out of this feat.
Barbarians are the obvious choice, as Orcish Fury syncs up nicely with their Brutal Critical feature – not to mention the fact that Strength and Constitution are a barbarian’s best friends.
Also, barbarians commonly favor weapons with big damage dice and like to take the Great Weapon Fighting style, both of which match up nicely with being able to throw some extra damage onto an attack.
Fighters are probably the next best choice, as they also love a bit of Strength and Constitution, can also wield the biggest pointy things in the game, and love just about any way to dish out more damage in combat.
Other half-martial characters that like Strength-based attacks basically include rangers, paladins, and maybe clerics, depending on how you build them.
When Should I Take the Orcish Fury Feat?
As I said before, this feat gets measurably worse as your character gains levels and needs to rest less often.
You’re also probably less likely to be reduced to 0 hit points, which means that your extra attack in conjunction with Relentless Endurance is only likely to kick in when you’re in a really sticky situation.
Normally, with a feat that’s better at lower levels, I’d advise playing a Variant Human (that’s not an option here for obvious reasons) or using the Custom Lineage rules from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
While you technically could still play a custom lineage half-orc and take this feat, I wouldn’t recommend it.
One third of its benefits rely on you having the Relentless Endurance trait, which you wouldn’t get if you weren’t playing a half-orc from the Player’s Handbook.