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A tanarukk (pltanarukks ortanarukka[8][9][10]) was a breed of orc whose blood had been tainted by an evil outsider, in many cases a tanar'ri demon.[4]


They appeared as short, stocky orcs with bristly hair, horns, or ridges along the sides of their heads.[4] Their skin tones ranged from grayish green and dub brown.[3][4][11] They displayed razor-sharp teeth and tusks that jutted out prominently from their lower jaws.[12] Tanarukks also had the distinctive smell of brimstone about them.[4]


They were nasty, brutish, and not terribly intelligent (despite being smarter than an average orc); they were, however, extremely dangerous fighters. In spite of their lack of personal magnetism, the tanarukks' instinctive ability to control flame led many to become sorcerers. More still could be found acting as muscle for cambions and other fiendish creatures.[4]


Due to its fiendish heritage, the tanarukk possessed a limited spell resistance, a limited resistance to fire,[11] and a limited ability to manipulate fire.[4][11]


Tanarukks rarely wore any form of armor, with the exception of gauntlets, viewing their thick skin as being sufficiently protective. High ranking members of society like lieutenants and chieftains were most likely to wear armor, but they often removed it when facing a challenger for supremacy.[4]

Many were known to wield magic items of either orcish or fiendish origin. Some were known to even wield ancient items looted from the bowels of Hellgate Keep.[4]


A vicious tanarukk.

Tanarukk society also differed from that of orcs in that they were far less patriarchal, treating their women better than their slaves. This was due to being influenced by the mariliths who were involved in Hellgate Keep's breeding program. Within the confines of Hellgate Keep the tanarukk were also isolated from their orc ancestors' tradition of animal husbandry. Once let loose upon the world they gradually began to engage in this practice, training boars and dire boars to be mounts.[4]

Many tribes were known to ritually scar their young, either during rites of passage or when they became full-fledged warriors,[6] often using acid or jagged weapons.[4]


When it came to magic the tanarukk generally preferred to use spells that summoned outsiders, enhanced their own physical prowess, or involved the use of fire.[4] Spellcasters among their kind were known as "fire speakers."[2]


At some point following Kaanyr Vhok's disappearance, the tanarukk that made up the Scoured Legion adopted the worship of Garagos. From then on, in each generation a tanarukk would occasionally be born with an extra set of arms. These individuals were referred to as targaat and thought of as children of Garagos himself.[12]


In general the tanarukks looked down upon any creatures they considered weaker than themselves and held a special enmity for elves. The only creatures they respected were demons and powerful fiend-touched beings, such as half-fiends. They viewed orcs and half-orcs as valuable allies, but did not consider them equals and would often coerce them into breeding with other tanarukk. Most other intelligent humanoid races that came across tanarukks were likely to be eaten and tortured, more often than not eaten alive.[4]


Tanarukka of Gorgomorz's army.

The tanarukks originated as orc–demon crossbreeds inside the tanar'ri controlled fortress of Hellgate Keep, the products of a breeding program between demons and orcs that had been captured and enslaved.[13][12] After centuries of mixing blood the tanarukk began to breed true among themselves[12] and were regarded by other creatures as a separate species, rather than simply an orc sub-race.[4]

Over time, nine distinct tribes of tanarukk came to make up the inhabitants of the Keep. These tribes would serve as an army company, known as the Scoured Legion under the balor Grintharke, and later the cambion Kaanyr Vhok.[12] Following the destruction of Hellgate Keep in 1369 DR, four of these nine tanarukk tribes abandoned the Keep's ruler Kaanyr Vhok and emigrated to the Nether Mountains. The other five - Hungerknives, Gorytusks, Scaleskulls, Balorclaws, and Bonefires - would rally around his aims to resurrect the Scoured Legion.[12] This renewed force would emigrate into Ammarindar,[9] taking the land for their own. In the years that followed Vhok would encourage the tanarukk to breed quickly, growing their army.[11]

A few years later, in the summer of 1372 DR, the renewed Scourged Legion would lay siege to the city of Menzoberranzan alongside duergar from Gracklstugh as part of an alliance with Jaezred Chaulssin.[14] The siege ultimately was a failure, and the Scoured Legion were forced to retreat back into Ammarindar, dissolving not long after.[12] The same year, the devil Gorgomorz amassed a huge army of tanarukka and orcs in his plot to raze the city of Daggerford in vengeance of being defeated and banished by Edwin Daggerford circa 1270 DR. The devil's forces were outfitted by the Zhentarim and the tanarukka of Gorgomorz's army bore a tattoo on their chests depicting a huge devil with a flaming greatsword. The Gorgomorz' army successfully breached the city's walls, but the devil himself was defeated and banished by the Hero of Daggerford while the guards of Daggerford pushed the surviving tanarukka, saving the city.[15]

Between 1372 DR and 1480 DR, the tanarukk population would greatly multiply. In those intervening years three different tanarukks would arise to take the role of High Warchief over the Scoured Legion - by 1480 DR a fourth leader had arisen, known as Ghiirvox.[12]

Notable Tanarukk[]

  • Ghiirvox, a tanarukk with an unusual violet-blue skin tone who was the fourth High Warchief to head the Scourged Legion.[16]




Hellgate KeepSons of Gruumsh
InsurrectionCondemnationExtinctionAnnihilationThe Gossamer Plain
Video Games
Idle Champions of the Forgotten RealmsNeverwinter Nights: Darkness over DaggerfordNeverwinter Nights: Tyrants of the Moonsea
Card Games
Dragonfire (Chaos in the Trollclaws)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Mike Mearls, et al. (November 2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Edited by Jeremy Crawford, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 186. ISBN 978-0786966011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mike Mearls, Greg Bilsland and Robert J. Schwalb (June 15, 2010). Monster Manual 3 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 190–191. ISBN 0786954902.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 James Wyatt and Rob Heinsoo (February 2001). Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 72–74. ISBN 0-7869-1832-2.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 123–125. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  5. Richard Baker and James Wyatt (2004-03-13). Monster Update (Zipped PDF). Web Enhancement for Player's Guide to Faerûn. Wizards of the Coast. p. 5. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2018-09-10.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Steven E. Schend (March 1998). Hellgate Keep. (TSR, Inc), p. 15. ISBN 978-0786907861.
  7. Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. Edited by Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 149. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Steven E. Schend (March 1998). Hellgate Keep. (TSR, Inc), p. 15. ISBN 978-0786907861.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Eric L. Boyd (November 1999). Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark. Edited by Jeff Quick. (TSR, Inc.), p. 31. ISBN 0-7869-1509-9.
  10. Eric L. Boyd (2001-08-29). Part 1: Moonlight's Triumph. Mintiper's Chapbook. Wizards of the Coast.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Thomas M. Costa (2003-05-19). Races of the Northern Underdark. Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2003-06-18. Retrieved on 2018-09-27.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 Brian R. James, Eric Menge (August 2012). Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 71, 74. ISBN 978-0786960361.
  13. Steven E. Schend (March 1998). Hellgate Keep. (TSR, Inc), pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-0786907861.
  14. Brian R. James, Eric Menge (August 2012). Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 9, 12. ISBN 978-0786960361.
  15. Ossian Studios (June 2018). Neverwinter Nights: Darkness over Daggerford. Beamdog.
  16. Brian R. James, Eric Menge (August 2012). Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 73. ISBN 978-0786960361.


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Orcish Hybrids