Also known as 'goblins,' Orcs have tough skin—leathery or even scaly, blackish or greenish in colour. Their noses, flat and keen, allow them to track accurately by scent. Their blood runs black, and the nails on their hands are as strong as claws. They possess great endurance and can run swiftly for long distances if they must. But most are lazy, preferring the easiest method of accomplishing any task.
Sauron and Saruman both use Orcs as soldiers, and tribes and bands of Orcs not directly under the sway of an evil master often fight among themselves or with Dwarves or Elves as they may. When they go to war. they carry horrid banners to mark their units, often in black or red, to frighten their foes. Orcs favour the scimitar as a weapon, though they use other swords and daggers—sometimes saw-toothed as well. Their weapons’ blades are black and often poisoned. Larger Orcs sometimes prefer spears or axes. Orc arrows are short and black with black fletching. Orcs wear heavy and clumsy Orc chainmail, though their rough skin also offers some protection against the weapons of their foes.
Although they cannot make objects of beauty, Orcs are skilled with their hands, able to craft clever
things, devices of torture, and the like. They can delve and mine nearly as well as Dwarves. Orcs food is foul to other races. They eat the flesh of Men, horses, and many creatures stranger still. Many breeds of Orcs exist. In the mountains, particularly in the North (including their strongholds at Gundabad and Mount Gram), Orcs tend to be taller and stronger, though neither as tall nor as strong as Uruks. Orcs from more southerly regions and from Mordor, tend to be shorter, broader, and have crook-legs and longer arms. Orcs from different places or tribes often quarrel or fight among themselves and cannot understand each others' speech well, if at all, so they rely instead on the Black Speech or Common. Orcs despise the sun and its painful bright light. They become weaker and less steady on their feet in daylight. But their eyes can see as well at night or in dark tunnels as Men can in the light.
In the Battle of the Five Armies (TA 2941), Bolg, son of Azog, commanded a great host of Orcs and Wargs that was defeated by the combined might of Men, Elves, and Dwarves. Three parts of the Orcs of the North perished in that battle, leading to diminished Orc activity in that part of the world for several decades. However, long before the War of the Ring, the Orcs began to rise again throughout Middle-earth, raiding, attacking, and wreaking havoc. Heroes may often find occasion to oppose them.
Created by Sauron in the Third Age,by breeding either Men or Trolls with normal Orcs, the Uruk-Hai, or Uruks, are larger, fiercer. stronger Orcs. They have tough, black skin and faces, and slanted eyes. They first appeared about TA 2475, when with others of Sauron's Forces they
overran Ithilien and took the city of Osgiliath. Nearly as tall as men, they stand straight-limbed and strong and do not shrink from the light of the Sun. They make fearsome soldiers, either in units of their own or when given command of squads of Orcs, whom they mock For their weaknesses and cowardice. Uruks prefer longswords and short, broad·bladed stabbing·swords to the scimitars of
Orcs. They also use longbows, like those of Men, and longer arrows.
Through some foul means Saruman, and perhaps Sauron as well,found a way to breed Orcs with Men, creating a mongrel race of Men with some Orc features and with Orc wickedness in their hearts. They have sallow Faces and sly, slanting eyes, but their height and build is more like Men. Some half-orcs look more like Orcs than others. These may take a flaw, Orc Ancestry which means they cannot hide their Orc blood without use or Guise. Other half-orcs while their appearance is noteworthy, can pass as normal Men. Combining mannish cleverness with Orc strength, half-orcs make fearsome opponents on the battlefield. They favour longswords and battle· axes. However, many of them instead serve Saruman as spies and ruffians.
The Snow Goblins of Mount Gram are wiry, pale creatures, mostly inhabiting the caves under the northern Misty Mountains and haunting Mount Gram itself. Their long limbs and bony hands are surprisingly powerful, a characteristic that many enemies discovered too late. This article contains profiles for the various Snow Goblins that inhabit Mount Gram.