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DnD Races 5e List and Guide

The world of Dungeons & Dragons is filled with interesting and fantastical creatures. From standard high fantasy to nasty grimdark characters, there’s an open world ready to be explored. Today, we’re looking at some of the playable character DnD races for the Fifth Edition (5e).

The 5th Edition Player’s Handbook has 9 standard races that you can choose from. We are talking about Dungeons & Dragons, though, so you’re really only limited by your imagination. There’s a limitless number of different races, both official and homebrewed. 

That’s partially what makes the world of DnD so interesting but for this guide, we’re just looking at the 9 standard character races. 

So get ready, we’re guiding you through the world of character DnD Races 5e. 

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DnD Character Races

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12/06/2022 04:30 am GMT

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and Proficiencies

Tasha’s Cauldron introduced new rules to character creation and races. Since many of the attributes and skills learned are the result of cultural or environmental factors, players now have the option to replace some of the standard starting abilities and modifiers with ones of their choice that fit within their character’s backstory. 

For example, an elf that was born within a city and has never seen a forest in their entire life is not going to have an advantage on nature checks. It just doesn’t make sense. 

This gives players much more freedom with their characters. 

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12/05/2022 05:25 am GMT

Aarakocra

The Aarakocra can be found in the Elemental Evil 5e supplement book. 

Often called the Bird Folk, the Aarakocra are a race of humanoid birds that live high in the mountains. They primarily live in the elemental plane of Air where they act as scouts. In their home world, they can fly for days and rarely return to the ground. 

They resemble humanoid eagles or hawks, with feet ending in talons and feathers covering their body. They value peace but are also sworn enemies to allies of the elemental earth creatures. 

  • Ages: Aarakocra mature at age 3 and typically have a lifespan of 30 years.
  • Size: They are medium-sized creatures averaging 5ft. They weigh less than humans because of their hollow bones needed to fly.
  • Speed: Base speed is 25ft.
  • Flying: Flying speed is 50ft.
  • Languages: Common, Aarakocra, & Auran
  • Recommended Classes: Artificer, Bard Cleric

Special Abilities: 

Aarakocra can fly as long as they are not wearing medium or heavy armor. They are also proficient in unarmed combat which does 1d4 slashing damage due to their natural claws. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Dexterity +2
  • Wisdom +1

Overview and Best Classes for Aarakocra:

Aarakocra are an interesting race to play. It immediately gives players a flying ability, and they have a large dexterity bonus. This can make them incredibly useful for creating long-range attackers. 

Any class would find the ability to fly extremely useful, but perhaps the class that best makes use of the Aarakocra’s natural abilities is the Monk. An Aarakocra Monk gains a large Dexterity bonus as well as a Wisdom bonus. 

The Monk uses both of these ability scores, and the ability for them to fly rapidly into battle makes an Aarakocra a devastating foe. 

Aasimar

The Aasimar 5e can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

Aasimar are a cross between humans and celestials. They retain some of their god-like ancestry and the closest description you can find is something similar to a demi-god, but mortal. 

  • Ages: Similar to humans but with a longer life expectancy. They live to be around 160 years old.
  • Size: Similar to humans. They are considered Medium sized.
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & Celestial
  • Recommended Classes: Barbarian, Cleric Druid

Special Abilities:

Aasimar are resistant to necrotic and radiant damage due to their celestial ancestry. They can also heal hit points equal to their level once per long rest, and they know the Light Cantrip which is always useful in the dark. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Charisma +2

Subraces:

  • Protector
  • Scourge
  • Fallen

Overview & Best Classes for Aasimar:

Weirdly enough, although the extra charisma boost seems like it would make for a fun Bard, I think the best class would be to choose the Fallen Subrace and create a fallen angel Warlock character. You could also easily go the lawful good alignment and create a Cleric or Paladin, but I think the Warlock would probably be the most interesting. 

Bugbear

The Bugbear can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

The Bugbear is one of the classic DnD monsters. They’re large goblinoids that are usually found raiding and attacking settlements to survive. 

  • Ages: Bugbears mature at around age 16 and live to be around 80 years old.
  • Size: The average bugbear is larger than the average human around 6-8 ft tall and weighs 250-350 lbs. They are considered medium-sized creatures.
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & Goblin
  • Recommended Classes: Barbarian, Fighter Monk  

Special Abilities:

Bugbears are stealthy creatures by nature and are proficient with stealth and have a sneak attack that deals an additional 2d6. Because of their goblin nature, they start with darkvision. They’re also unique among goblins due to their size and have longer limbs. This allows them to gain an extra 5ft in range when using melee weapons. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Strength +2
  • Dexterity +1

Overview Best Classes for Bugbears:

Any martial or melee build is going to be a good combination with Bugbear. A Rogue makes sense, but there’s already a lot of overlap in skills, so it’s actually not a great combination. Monks, Fighters, and Barbarians will find the sneak attack, extra range, and ability score modifiers extremely useful though. 

Centaur

These mythical creatures make their appearance in 5e and can be found in the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica and Mythic Odysseys of Theros.

  • Ages: Same as Humans
  • Size: Centaurs are considered medium-sized creatures but are about the height of horses.
  • Speed: Base speed is 40ft.
  • Languages: Common & Sylvan
  • Recommended Classes: Barbarian, Fighter

Special Abilities:

Centaurs are considered fey instead of humanoid. Due to their equine bodies, they have difficulty climbing and take much longer than normal at a ratio of 4 to 1 ft. They do have a charge attack and can use their hooves for damage. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Strength +2
  • Wisdom +1

Overview and Best Classes for Centaur:

Centaurs are great creatures. You could create a Cavalier Fighter build and be your own mount to gain all of the Cavalier’s abilities. They do have a large strength bonus so martial classes will be able to utilize the charge, hooves, and melee weapons to their advantage.

Another interesting build would be a ranged Fighter based on the historical Mongols. It would combine quick speed with ranged attacks and be extremely powerful. You wouldn’t get any of the racial bonuses, but it would be a fun class to play. 

Changeling

The Changeling can be found in the Eberron: Rising from the Last War sourcebook. 

Ages: Changelings mature faster than humans but have similar lifespans. When using their shifting abilities they can mimic any age or look. 
Size: In their natural state Changelings are slender medium-sized creatures around 6 ft. 
Speed: Base speed is 30ft
Languages: Common & +2 languages of the player’s choice.

Special Abilities:

The most prominent ability of the Changeling is their ability to shape change. They can change their looks and voice to a similar-limbed creature. The height and weight can be changed at will, but not above or below a medium-sized creature and the Changeling must have seen some version of the form they’re trying to imitate. They can revert back as an action or they do so automatically on death. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Charisma +2
  • Free Choice +1

Overview and Best Classes for Changeling:

Changelings make fantastic Rogues. They’ll benefit greatly from their sneak attacks. Their ability to blend in combined with the sneak attack makes them perfect assassins. 

Dhampir

This is another human mixed race, but this time it’s Human mixed with Vampire. Rules for this race can be found in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. There are several other ways that Dhampirs can be reincarnated, but that’s one of the major ones. 

  • Ages: NA
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 35ft
  • Languages: Common & +1 Free Choice
  • Recommended Classes: Barbarian, Monk Paladin

Special Abilities:

Due to their vampiric nature, the Dhampirs have darkvision, do not need to breathe, gain the Spider Climb ability, and have a Vampiric Bite attack. For RP purposes, the Dhampir will have an otherworldly hunger similar to vampires, but it can be mitigated through either willing victims, raw flesh, or some other substitute. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Free Choice +2 and another ability +1
  • Alternatively: +1 Free choice of three different abilities. 

Overview and Best Classes for Dhampir:

Dhampirs are great races for a dark macabre setting like Ravenloft. They have such a wide variety of skills that can be adapted to any class. They’re similar to humans in that they can easily fit into any class ability or role. 

Dragonborn

Dragonborn 5e, as the name implies, are creatures born from dragons. They’re humanoid-looking and walk on two legs but lack a tail and wings. 

The first Dragonborn were hatched from dragon eggs and took on the color of the chromatic dragons that spawned them. They’ve since lost the chromatic coloring in their scales and most Dragonborn scales are brass or bronze colored. 

D&D 5e Dragonborn Race
Dragonborn Race
  • Ages: Dragonborn reach adolescence around 3 years old and are considered fully matured adults at 15 years.
  • Size: Dragonborn are medium-sized creatures that are larger than your average human at around 6ft with an average weight of about 250lbs.
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft.
  • 5e Languages: Common & Draconic
  • cc Paladin, Barbarian, Warlock

Special Abilities:

Due to their dragon ancestry, every Dragonborn has a Breath Weapon associated with their chromatic dragon ancestor. Which type you want can be chosen upon character creation. It originally does 2d6 damage and increases as the character levels up. The AoE (area of effect) and the type of damage are dependent upon which type of dragon is chosen. It can be used once per rest period (long or short.)

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Strength +2
  • Charisma +1

Dragonborn are actually a really good all-around race to choose. The increased strength can make them excellent melee fighters and the charisma boost makes them decent casters.

The only real disadvantage of playing as a Dragonborn is the potential “outsider” narrative that’s developed within the story. They’re not incredibly common and they carry a bit of a stigma in the DnD world. That’s also entirely dependent upon your DM, though. 

Dwarf

Dwarves follow the typical fantasy stereotypes. They’re a short, stout race that is known for their blacksmithing and crafting skills. They live in massive underground cities in hollowed-out mountains and are known for valuing their clan and honor above all else. 

D&D 5e Dwarf Race
Dwarf Race
  • Ages: Dwarves reach adulthood at around 50 years old, but can live well past 400 years.
  • Size: Dwarves are medium-sized creatures with an average size of around 4ft and weighing around 150lbs.
  • Speed: Base speed is 25 ft.
  • Languages: Common & Dwarvish
  • Recommended Classes: Artificer, Barbarian

Special Abilities:

Dwarves have impressive dark vision due to their familiarity with living underground. They’re also known as a hearty race so they have advantage on poison saving throws. 

Because Dwarves live in a martial society, they also grow up knowing how to handle an ax. So a Level 1 Dwarf will automatically start with proficiency with the battle ax, hand ax, war hammer, and throwing ax.

Finally, they know about stone. Seriously. 

They have an advantage on knowledge checks involving stones or being underground. You pick up a few things when you live under a mountain for so long. 

Sub-Races: Dwarves have 2 different subraces that give different unique bonuses, Hill and Mountain.

  • Hill Dwarves: In addition to all the other Dwarf perks, Hill Dwarves gain +1 to wisdom and gain +1 max hitpoints at every level. They’re the more rural of the Dwarves and it’s reflected in the stats. 
  • Mountain Dwarves: The Mountain Dwarves are the more intense cousins to the Hill Dwarves. Their society is a bit more martial and they get a +2 strength bonus, and start with light and medium armor proficiency. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Constitution + 2

Dwarves are an all-around great choice. Their hearty nature makes them great tanks for soaking up and dishing out physical damage. Their increased constitution scores let them soak up more damage than most of the other races and allows them to stay in the fight longer. The initial weapon and armor proficiencies also help quite a bit in making a tank or a fighter class. 

As far as roleplaying goes, it’s always interesting playing a dwarf. The age difference is interesting to play with considering a Dwarf going through a mid-life crisis will still have a century of experience over their other party members. 

Elf

Elves also fall along the classic fantasy lines. Elves are beautiful, graceful, and powerful creatures. They seem almost otherworldly and ethereal. 

D&D 5e Elf Race
Elf Race
  • Ages: Elves have a long life, reach adulthood at age 100, and they can live to be over 700 years old.
  • Size: Elves are medium-sized creatures that have a similar build to humans. They average 5-6 ft and 100-145 lbs.
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft.
  • Languages: Common & Elvish
  • Recommended Classes: Artificer, Fighter Ranger

Special Abilities:

Because of their magical bloodlines, elves have a few advantages. First, all Elves have a degree of dark vision at 60ft. Their fey bloodlines also give them immunity to any kind of magic that puts them to sleep — and Elves don’t ever really sleep. They go into a meditative trance to recharge when they’re resting. 

Sub-Races: Elves have three different sub-races that give them different abilities. 

  • High Elves: High Elves are the more prestigious of the three subraces. They are more intelligent with a +1 Intelligence modifier and have an innate sense of magic. They start with a wizard cantrip and a choice of 1 additional language. 

They’re also adept with elven weapons; longsword, shortsword, longbow, and short bow.

  • Wood Elves: Think Legolas when you think of Wood Elves. They are more attuned to nature than their counterparts. They have a +1 wisdom modifier, and the same Elven weapon proficiency as the High Elves. 

They also can attempt to hide in plain sight if they are surrounded by natural features like rain or mist. Finally, they’re faster than other elves and have a base speed of 35ft. 

  • Drow: Drow or Dark Elves are the final sub-race of Elves. They typically live in the Underdark or underground and have dark skin. 

Because of this, their dark vision is even better than most elves. They have 120ft of dark vision, but that comes at a price. Because they’re so adept at seeing in the dark, direct sunlight causes them problems. They have disadvantage to attack and perception rolls in direct sunlight. 

They are still rather alluring as far as Elves go with a +1 Charisma modifier and they have some innate mage skills. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Dexterity +2

Elves are an all-around excellent race. Their high dexterity makes them graceful but deadly melee fighters. Their modifiers to intelligence or charisma combined with their innate magic abilities make them formidable spellcasters. 

Firbolg

Firbolgs are one of the fey-like humanoids in DnD 5e. They have ties to the fey world and have natural magical abilities at their disposal. Firbolgs can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

  • Ages: They mature at around age 30 and can live over 500 years.
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common, Elvish, and Giant. They also have limited speech with beasts and plants.
  • Recommended Classes: Cleric

Special Abilities:

Their fey-like abilities give Firbolgs some natural spells. They can magically disguise themselves, turn invisible, and detect magic with their racial abilities.

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Wisdom +2
  • Strength +1

Overview and Best Classes for Firbolg:

The Firbolg’s natural abilities align with Druids, but they could make powerful spellcasters as well as decent Rogues. The ability to simply disappear or change appearance is always handy for any Rogue builds.

Genasi

Genasi are the offspring between mortals and genies. They take on the elemental attributes of their genie parents and have an affinity with their ancestral elements. They are powerful creatures that have the versatility of the mortal realm combined with the strength of their planar parents. 

Genasi can be found in the Elemental Evil 5e supplement book.

  • Ages: Genasi age at the same rate as humans, but have a longer life expectancy, around 120 years.
  • Size: Genasi tend to be human-sized between 5-6ft, and they are considered to be medium-sized creatures.
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & Primordial
  • Recommended Classes: Artificer, Barbarian Druid

Special Abilities:

Genasi take on the attributes of their elemental parents and are therefore divided into several subraces that have their own special abilities and Ability modifiers. 

Air: 

Dexterity +1

The Air Genasi can hold their breath indefinitely. They still need to breathe, but if they have one breath in their lungs, they’re good to go. The Air Genasi can also cast levitate without any components once per long rest. 

Earth:

Strength +1

The Earth Genasi can move through difficult terrain if it’s made of earth or stone like normal. They can also cast the Pass without Trace spell once per long rest. 

Fire: 

Intelligence +1

The Fire Genasi has darkvision but due to their nature, everything they see in the darkness is shades of red. They have fire resistance. The Fire Genasi also learns several extra spells as they level up. At level 1, they know Produce Flame and at level 3, they learn Burning Hands. 

Water:

Wisdom +1

The Water Genasi learns several water-based spells naturally and is considered amphibious with the ability to breathe both air and water. 

Ability Score Modifiers: Depends on the type. 

Overview and Best Classes for Genasi:

Genasi are an extremely versatile race because of their different elemental types. They’re another character race that can be used in almost anything as long as you match the bonus ability scores and spells with the build you’re trying to make. 

Gith

The Gith are a lost race of humanoid creatures that were enslaved by Illithids. They are lost as a civilization and any culture they once had has since been destroyed. 

Gith can be found in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.

  • Ages: They mature around 18 and live for about 100 years.
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & Gith
  • Recommended Classes: Cleric

Special Abilities:

The Gith have 2 separate subraces that are either more culturally inclined or warrior-like. They both have psionic abilities and resistances that they’ve gained after years of being enslaved by Illithids. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Intelligence +1
  • Strength +2

Or

  • Wisdom +2

Overview and Best Classes for Gith:

The Gith are an exciting race that makes decent spellcasters or fighters, depending upon the subrace. Their psionic abilities are a nice bonus and could definitely be useful for a psionic build whether it’s a spellcaster or fighter. 

Gnome

Gnomes are bright and intelligent creatures that enjoy life. They live in communal burrows and are known throughout the DnD world as tinkerers and artificers

D&D 5e Gnome Race
Gnome Race
  • Age: Gnomes mature slower than humans with full adulthood around 40 years old, and a much longer life expectancy of 350-500 years.
  • Size: Gnomes stand at about 3ft and adults average 40-45 lbs as small creatures.
  • Speed: Their base speed is 25ft.
  • Languages: Common & Gnomish
  • Recommended Classes: Artificer, Rogue

Special Abilities:

Gnomes are cunning and intelligent creatures and have an advantage in all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving roles against magic. In addition due to their familiarity with living underground, they start with dark vision.

Sub-Races: Gnomes have 2 subraces to choose from. 

  • Rock Gnomes: Rock Gnomes have a  +1 Constitution bonus.
  • Forest Gnomes: Forest Gnomes have a +1 Dexterity bonus. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

Intelligence +2

Gnomes are a great class especially if you’re going for something a little bit different. Their high intelligence modifier lends itself to spellcasting, and their Gnome cunning allows them a fair advantage against spells. 

If you don’t want to go the spell route, they also have the dexterity or constitution bonus, which is helpful for any class. If you’re looking to add a bit of quirkiness and intelligence to your roleplaying, Gnomes are a fun way to add something a little extra to your game. 

Half-Elf

Half-Elves are the odd ones out in the DnD world. They’re not quite as graceful or magical as the Elves, but they’re also not quite as well-rounded as the Humans.

They’re stuck in between where they don’t truly fit in either society, but have a few traits from each. 

D&D 5e Half-Elf Race
Half-Elf Race
  • Age: Half-Elves mature and age at the same rate as Humans but have the advantage of a longer lifespan. The average Half-Elf lives to be about 180 years old.
  • Size: Half-Elves are considered medium-sized creatures with the same size variation as Humans. 
  • Speed: The base speed for Half-Elves is 30ft.
  • Languages: Half-Elves start knowing Common, Elvish, and 1 other language of their choice. 
  • Recommended Classes: Bard, Druid Paladin

Special Abilities:

Half-Elves retain some of the magical properties inherited from their Elven side. They cannot be put to sleep with magic and start out with dark vision. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

Charisma +2
+2 of the player’s choosing

Half-Elves offer the best of both worlds. They have a bit of the versatility of Humans as well as some of the magical properties of Elves. If you’re unsure of what you want to be, this is also a good starting race to choose. 

For roleplaying purposes, they tend to be diplomats or ambassadors because they can freely move between the two different worlds of humans and elves. 

Halfling

Halflings are probably my favorite class in DnD. The little people are great characters and super fun to roleplay. 

D&D 5e Halfling Race
Halfling Race
  • Age: Halflings are considered adults at 20 years old and can live up to 200.
  • Size: Halflings, as you can imagine, are considered small creatures with an average height of 3 ft and an average weight of 40-45 lbs.
  • Speed: Their average speed is 25 ft.
  • Languages: Halflings know Common & Halfling
  • Recommended Classes: Rogue, Ranger

Special Abilities:

Although small Halflings are a brave race. They have advantage roles on all checks for being frightened. They can utilize their small stature to their advantage and can move through spaces occupied by larger creatures. 

Sub Races: There are two Halfling subraces to pick from. 

  • Lightfoot Halflings: Lightfoot Halflings are the more personable bunch with a +1 charisma bonus and they have the ability to hide when near other creatures. 
  • Stout Halflings: Stout Halflings are the hardier of the two with a +1 constitution bonus, and it’s thought that they are cousins to the dwarves due to their hardy nature and ability to resist poisons naturally. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

Dexterity +2

Halflings are great. They’re just a fun class to play and combined with their size and dex bonus, they can make some decent melee fighters. After all, you can’t hit what you can’t find. 

Half-Orc

Half-Orcs are a half Human and half Orc hybrid. The 5e Player’s Handbook suggests that this usually only comes about after a marriage alliance is forged between an Orc tribe and Humans. The other connotations aren’t as pretty. 

D&D 5e Half-Orc Race
Half-Orc Race
  • Ages: Half-Orcs mature faster than humans and are considered adults at 14 years old with a max life expectancy of around 75 years.
  • Size: They are much larger than their Human counterparts, averaging 6-7 ft with an average weight of 180-250 lbs. However, they are still considered medium-sized creatures.
  • Speed: Half-Orcs have a base speed of 30ft.
  • Languages: Common & Orc
  • Recommended Classes: Barbarian, Fighter

Special Abilities:

Orcs can be a ferocious opponent. They have a natural ability to see in the dark. They’re inherently intimidating and have an advantage on all intimidation rolls. If they get knocked down to zero health, there’s always a chance they’ll get right back up in a final surge of endurance. And when they critical hit, they do more damage than any other race. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Strength +2
  • Constitution +1

It’s hard to beat Half-Orcs when it comes to pure strength. They’re one of the only races to get such a huge strength bonus combined with a Constitution bonus. Add that to their relentless endurance and savage attack, and you’re looking at an excellent melee fighter. 

They work well with any of the martial classes and can dish out some serious melee damage with their savage attack ability. They’re also much harder to kill with the Relentless Endurance. They make great front-line characters for players who want to be in the thick of combat, whether you’re looking to play a mercenary, berzerker, or professional soldier. 

Human

If you have no idea what race you feel like playing, Human is a solid choice. They’re the most common race that you’ll encounter.

They don’t have any particular weaknesses, but they also don’t have any great strengths. 

D&D 5e Human Race
  • Ages: Average Human lifespan.
  • Size: Can vary just like real Humans but still count as medium-sized creatures.
  • Speed: Humans have a base speed of 30ft.
  • Languages: Humans know Common and +1 language of their choice. 
  • Recommended Classes: Artificer

Special Abilities: none

Ability Score Modifiers:

All +1

If you’re really unsure of what race to pick, it’s really not a bad idea to go Human. They’re the most common race you’ll find and are the definition of all-rounders.

They’re the vanilla ice cream of the DnD world. Vanilla is pretty boring by itself, but you can also add almost anything to vanilla and it’ll work great. The same can be said for Humans. They can be magical, sneaky, punchy, or a weird combination of all 3. Their ability modifiers let the player choose exactly the role they want their character to be. 

The Player’s Handbook does a pretty good job of summing up Humans, “The best and the worst are found among them.” 

Kalashtar

The Kalashtar are the offspring or combination of spirits from the plane of dreams and humans. They’re wise but haunted by their origins. 

Kalashtar can be found in Eberron: Rising from the Last War.

  • Ages: Same as humans.
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common, Quori, +1 Free Choice
  • Recommended Classes: Bard, Cleric Druid

Special Abilities:

The Kalashtar’s abilities are connected to the plane of dreams. They have advantage on all Wisdom throws, can speak telepathically to those around them, and are resistant to psychic damage. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Wisdom +2
  • Charisma +1

Overview and Best Classes for Kalashtar:

Due to their high wisdom and abilities, Kalashtar make excellent spellcasters and with their psychic resistance, they make excellent psionic attackers. 

Kenku

The Kenku are a bird-like race. In their sordid past, they lost their ability to fly and are now bound to the earth. They are mostly considered a nuisance as they are vagabonds and wanderers with no lands of their own. 

The Kenku can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

  • Ages: Mature at 12 and live to be around 60.
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & Auran. They have no voice of their own but can mimic others’ speech to communicate. 
  • Recommended Classes: Monk, Ranger

Special Abilities:

Due to their wandering nature, Kenku are proficient in Acrobatics, Deception, Stealth, and Sleight of Hand. They have no voice of their own, but they can mimic the sounds and voices of what they hear. They can use this to communicate in another character’s voice for either deception or simple communication. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Dexterity +2
  • Wisdom +1

Overview and Best Classes for Kenku:

The Kenku are interesting because they have so many built-in stealth abilities. They would clearly make good Rogues or other stealth builds, but one of my best friends absolutely loves making a Kenku Grave Cleric. It’s one of his favorite characters to play. 

Kobold

Kobolds are iconic DnD creatures. They have a small bit of draconic blood and are considered weak creatures, but in large numbers, they’re incredibly dangerous. 

Kobolds can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

  • Ages: They mature at 6 and can live up to 120 years, but most die out before then.
  • Size: Small
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & Draconic
  • Recommended Classes: Fighter, Paladin, Rogue

Special Abilities:

Kobolds by themselves are sad pathetic creatures. They even have a special ability where they cower and beg for their lives. When cowering, any creature that sees the Kobold will be in danger. Any attacks made against characters watching the Kobold cower will have an advantage. It’s pathetic and sad, but it works.

They are known for their danger in numbers and have the Pack Tactics ability and are sensitive to sunlight. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

Dexterity +2

Overview & Best Classes for Kobolds:

I’m a big fan of Kobolds. On their own, they’re weak but as a player race, it forces you to think outside of the box. You won’t be able to go toe to toe with some of the stronger races, but they’re smart and incredibly tricky. Roleplaying as a Kobold forces players to use their intelligence, numbers, and pack tactics to survive. 

Leonin

Leonin, as the name might suggest, are a lion-like species. They’re fiercely territorial and even gods rarely tread in their domain. 

Leonin can be found in the Mythic Odysseys of Theros.

  • Ages: Same as Humans
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 35ft
  • Languages: Common & Leonin
  • Recommended Classes: Barbarian, Fighter

Special Abilities:

Leonin have darkvision and a few extra skill proficiencies but their major draw as a character race is their claws and roar. They have a claw attack that deals 1d4 + Strength and their roar can frighten their enemies around them. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Constitution +2
  • Strength +1

Overview & Best Classes for Leonin:

The Leonin just begs to be a Barbarian. They have the extra hit points from their Constitution bonus and a strength bonus. The idea of an enraged lion person attacking you is horrifying. As cool as that sounds though, perhaps the better option is a Leonin Monk. A hand-to-hand focused build with a creature that already has a damaging claw attack might be really fun to explore. 

Lizardfolk

The Lizardfolk are a sentient race of lizard humanoids. They live within swamps and have their own societies, but they think completely differently from the odd warm-bloods. Stepping into their domain is usually the last thing unwary travelers ever do. 

Lizardfolk can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

  • Ages: Mature at 14 and live to be around 60.
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft and a swimming speed of 30ft.
  • Languages: Common & Draconic
  • Recommended Classes: Cleric, Druid Fighter

Special Abilities:

The Lizardfolk are a standard enemy in most campaigns but as a player character, they bring a lot to the table. 

They have a bite ability that lets them do 1d6 damage, and they have a separate ability that lets them use their bonus action with their bite that deals damage and gives temporary hit points. That’s scary and cool at the same time. 

They also have a natural armor that gives a standard 13 + Dex. 

Finally, my favorite ability: after a battle they can scavenge the bones of a smaller creature to create simple items like a shield, club, dart, javelin, or blowgun. That’s absolutely useful. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Constitution +2
  • Wisdom +1

Overview & Best Classes for Lizardfolk:

These guys make amazing Rangers. They have extra health, armor, and a Wisdom bonus. It’s the easiest choice as they’re already extremely comfortable in swamps and water, and are great for any coast or underwater-themed adventure. 

Loxodon

Keeping on theme with Humanoid animals, the Loxodon are a race of sentient humanoid elephants. They are a gentle race but when aroused to anger, there are few things that can stop a Loxodon without heavy casualties. 

Loxodon can be found in the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica.

  • Ages: They mature at the same rate as humans, but are considered adolescents until 60. They live to be 450+.
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & Loxodon
  • Recommended Classes: Druid, Ranger

Special Abilities:

The trunk is probably the Loxodon’s most defining feature. It gives them advantage on Perception, Survival, and Investigation checks that rely on smell. They can use it to hold and manipulate different items like opening doors, shoving people, grappling, or picking up and holding objects. They cannot use it to wield another weapon or shield. though. 

They have advantage on being charmed or frightened and are considered one size larger for carrying and lifting. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Constitution +2
  • Wisdom +1

Overview & Best Classes for Loxodon:

I absolutely adore the idea of creating a Loxodon Grappler. Their size and added appendage make it a really viable build. For RP purposes, they would also make excellent Druids. Their calm nature goes well with the Druid mentality and a shapeshifting elephant shifting into another elephant just kinda tickles my fancy. 

Minotaur

Minotaurs are an incredibly strong and proud bestial race in the DnD world. They have several different natural attacks and abilities that make them formidable foes or allies on the battlefield. 

Minotaurs can be found in the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica & Mythic Odysseys of Theros

  • Ages: Same as humans.
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & Minotaur
  • Recommended Classes: Barbarian, Fighter

Special Abilities:

The Minotaurs have some serious melee potential due to their bestial nature and physique. Their horns can be used as a weapon dealing 1d6, they can make a dash and attack with them in the same turn, and after making an attack, they can use their horns to knock enemies away. That’s a lot of options for them to control a battlefield. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Strength +2 
  • Constitution +1

Overview and Best Classes for the Minotaur:

Minotaurs need to be Fighters or Barbarians. Their charge and horn attacks are just too good to be wasted on a spellcaster. Their ability to smash into the center of a group of enemies, start gouging them with their horns, and then start attacking with weapons or fly into a rage make them perfect melee tanks and fighters. 

Orc

Unlike their distant relatives, playing as an Orc means the character has all of the strengths and bonuses undiluted like the Half-Orcs, but they’re a bit more temperamental. 

The Orc can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

  • Ages: Matures at 12 and live to about 50.
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & Orc
  • Recommended Classes: Barbarian, Fighter, Paladin

Special Abilities:

Orcs have a bonus ability called Aggressive where, as a bonus action, they can move up to their max speed toward an enemy. They also have darkvision and several extra proficiencies. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Strength +2
  • Constitution +1

Overview & Best Classes for Orc:

I was a little disappointed in the Orc abilities. The only useful extra is their Aggressive movement bonus, but other races have similar Ability Modifiers. With that in mind, any build that requires a fighter to be in the middle of a group of enemies will benefit from the Orc’s racial abilities. Barbarians, Fighters, and any subclass that grants extra hits will work well with the Orc. They’re not terrible, but I was just expecting more. 

Reborn Lineage

Death isn’t always the end. When there’s powerful magic to simply bring someone back to life, there are bound to be hiccups. The Reborn are creatures that have been animated and retain bits and pieces of their consciousness. This is usually through accident or some kind of wayward magic. 

The Reborn can be found in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.

  • Ages: NA
  • Size: Medium – Small
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & prior languages
  • Recommended Classes: Barbarian, Paladin

Special Abilities:

The Reborn are somewhere between dead and alive, and their abilities reflect that. They have resistance against poisons, advantage on death saving throws, and don’t need to eat, sleep, or breathe.

They also can remember bits and pieces of their old life which comes in the form of adding a d6 roll to any check. The ability can be used equal to their proficiency bonus

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Free Choice +2
  • Free Choice +1

OR

  • 3 Free Choice +1

Overview & Best Classes for Reborn:

The Reborn are honestly good for every class because they’re designed so that any dead creature can return back to life and become a Reborn. If the character that you really liked had an untimely accident, it might be fun to return them to the table as a Reborn in another campaign to give them a second chance. 

Satyr

The Satyr is a half-goat half-human creature from mythology. They’re highly charismatic in DnD and wander the world enjoying life. 

The Satyr can be found in the Mythic Odysseys of Theros.

  • Ages: Same as humans
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 35ft
  • Languages: Common & Sylvan
  • Recommended Classes: Warlock, Bard

Special Abilities:

Satyrs can use their horns in place of their unarmed strikes to deal 1d4 + Strength modifier in damage. Their fey ancestry gives them advantage on saves against magical effects and when making jumps, they can roll an additional d8 to add to their distance. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Charisma +2
  • Dexterity +1

Overview & Best Classes for Satyr:

The Satyr has a nice Charisma bonus which would pair well with the Warlock or the Bard. The Fey Patron would make a thematically sound Satyr player character, while a Bard Satyr would also work well to supplement their abilities. 

Shifter

Shifters are basically were-animals. The rules allow for different types of were-animals like bears, wolves, rats, cats, or any other creature that tracks prey. 

Shifters can be found in Eberron: Rising from the Last War

  • Ages: They mature at 10 and live to about 70.
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & Quori
  • Recommended Classes: Rogues

Special Abilities:

Shifters have darkvision, keen senses, and an amazing shifting ability that allows them to shift into their were-form. 

In character creation, players choose which type of animal they have in their were-form. Each form has its own different Ability Score Modifiers and special abilities. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

Depends on the animal form chosen.

Overview & Best Classes for Shifters:

It’s hard to say which class is the best for the Shifter since they each have their own abilities. Rogues will benefit from their many different abilities and would be my go-to choice for Shifters. 

Simic Hybrid

The Simic is one of the most unique and interesting DnD Races to play. Simic Hybrids are the result of genetic/magical tinkering in which humanoid subjects are infused with different animal creatures. 

Simic Hybrids can be found in the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica.

  • Ages: Depends upon the original humanoid. Their life expectancy is reduced due to tinkering.
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & Elven or Vedalken
  • Recommended Classes: Warlock, Wizard

Special Abilities:

The Simic Hybrids all have darkvision and they have 2 special abilities they can choose throughout their lifetime. The first is gained at character creation (level 1) and the second ability at level 5. The bonuses depend on what animal enhancement is grafted into the Simic Hybrid’s Body.

  • Manta Glide (1st level): The Simic gets Manta wings that don’t actually work in the water but allow them to glide or slowfall when falling.
  • Nimble Climber (1st level): Climb speed is the same as walk speed. 
  • Underwater Adaptation (1st level): Swim speed is equal to walk speed and the Simic can breathe water.
  • Grappling Appendages (5th level): The Simic gets either claws or tentacles that help with grappling or a stronger unarmed attack. They Can’t be used to hold another weapon though. 
  • Carapace (5th level): gains +1 AC as long as the Simic isn’t wearing Heavy Armor.
  • Acid Spit (5th level): the Simic gets an acid spit attack that does quite a bit of damage and levels up along with the Simic.

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Constitution +2
  • Free Choice +1

Overview & Best Classes for Simic Hybrids:

If humans are too vanilla for you, then I highly suggest grafting tentacles or crab claws to yourself. It adds a bunch of abilities that are always useful. They work well with any class, but my favorite combination is with an Old One Warlock or a Wizard

Tabaxi

Cute and adorable, Tabaxi are a race of humanoid cats. They’re not a mixture of cat and human, they’re humanoid cats. There’s a difference. Don’t make this weird. 

Tabaxi can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

  • Ages: Same as Humans
  • Size:
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & +1 Free Choice
  • Recommended Classes: Fighter, Monk

Special Abilities:

As you might imagine, Tabaxi have darkvision along with a few graceful feline abilities. The Tabaxi can double their speed once while moving. They can’t use the ability again unless they move 0 feet on a subsequent turn. Tabaxi also has a 1d4 + Strength modifier attack. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Dexterity +2
  • Charisma +1

Overview & Best Classes for Tabaxi:

The Tabaxi is an excellent agility character. My personal favorite is creating a Fighter/Fencer character like Puss in Boots. Their dexterity makes them incredible dex-based fighters. 

They’ll also have an advantage as a Monk when they combine their natural attacks with Monk abilities. 

Tiefling

In an ancient deal with the literal devil, the race of Tieflings was infused with infernal blood. This manifests physically in their genetic makeup, giving them a demonic-looking appearance with odd colorings, glowing eyes, and horns. 

Whether they are actually good or evil is irrelevant and therefore, Tieflings are treated with suspicion almost everywhere they go. 

D&D 5e Tiefling Race
  • Ages: Tieflings have the same maturity rate as Humans but tend to live longer.
  • Size: Tieflings have the same size variation as humans and are considered medium-sized creatures. 
  • Speed: Tieflings have a base speed of 30ft.
  • Languages: Common & Infernal
  • Recommended Classes: Artificer, Bard

Special Abilities:

Due to their infernal nature, Tieflings are naturally resistant to fire and can use dark vision. They also make excellent magic users, as they have an innate magical ability and learn some infernal-themed cantrips. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Intelligence +1
  • Charisma +2

Tieflings are the cool race on the block. Think the Fonz from “Happy Days” with slicked-back burning hair that can kickstart a golem with a swift hit. At least that’s how they were first introduced to us in 4.0. 

Tieflings have grown in numbers and have become more widely spread in the DnD world. They’re still met with suspicion and disdain, but they do make for some excellent spellcasters, especially Warlocks. 

Tortle

Tortles are a humanoid race of turtle creatures. Turtles may seem slow and methodical but as soon as the Tortle can walk, they venture off immediately and explore the world. 

Tortles can be found in The Tortle Package.

Ages: Mature at age 15 but they only live about 50 years.
Size: Medium
Speed: Base speed is 30ft
Languages: Common & Aquan

Special Abilities:

The Tortle are natural swimmers and can hold their breath for up to an hour at a time. They also have a natural claw weapon. 

The Tortle are too big and bulky to wear armor, but they have a natural AC of 17 which can be increased by +4 by withdrawing into their shell. They get no bonus from Dexterity.

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Strength +2 
  • Wisdom +1

Overview & Best Classes for Tortle:

There is only 1 class for the Tortle ever, Monk. The only appropriate class for a humanoid Tortle is Monk. They have a Strength and Wisdom bonus, but you have to remake the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That’s the only way I play them. It might not make a lot of sense, but I stand by this decision. 

Triton

The Triton are the guardians of the oceans. They’re an extremely hardy species that are at home underwater and on land. 

Triton can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

  • Ages: Mature at 15. They can live up to 500 years. 
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft and a swim speed of 30ft.
  • Languages: Common & Primordial
  • Recommended Classes: Fighter, Paladin

Special Abilities:

The Triton are used to the cold depths and have resistance to cold damage. As rulers of the ocean, they can communicate simple ideas with creatures that live underwater. They also have several natural aquatic-based spells that they know and are amphibious with the ability to breathe in and out of water. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Strength +1
  • Constitution +1
  • Charisma +1

Overview & Best Classes for Triton:

The ability scores allow for a lot of customization when picking a class. They make incredible Fighters and Paladins

Vedalken

Vedalken are an austere blue-skinned race of humanoids that are highly intelligent. 

The Vedalken can be found in Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica.

  • Ages: Mature around age 40 and can live up to 500 years.
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common, Vedalken, and one Free Choice
  • Recommended Classes: Artificer

Special Abilities:

Vedalken have advantage on all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma Saving Throws. They have several additional proficiencies, are partially amphibious, and can hold their breath for 1 hour without needing to breathe. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Intelligence +2
  • Wisdom +

Overview & Best Races for Vedalken:

Vedalken have a high Intelligence and Wisdom bonus, so they fit well into any spellcaster class. My personal favorite, though, is a Vedalken Artificer that uses its intelligence to create otherworldly clockwork machines. 

Verdan

Verdan are a mixture of two different races. This is the only one that isn’t a mixture of humans, though. The Verdan are a cross between Goblins and Hobgoblins. They are one of the newest races in the DnD world and have no history as a new race. 

The Verdan can be found in Acquisitions Incorporated

  • Ages: They mature at 24 and can live up to 200 years.
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common, Goblin, and 1 Free Choice.
  • Recommended Classes: Sorcerer

Special Abilities:

Because of their lack of history, people have no reason to distrust them, and they are proficient in persuasion. 

The rest of the Verdan’s abilities are a grab bag of different abilities. If the Verdan rolls a 1 or a 2 on a hit die they can re-roll it. They also have limited telepathy with the ability to speak to any creature within 30 ft and they have advantage on Wisdom and Charisma saving throws. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Charisma +2
  • Constitution +1

Overview & Best Classes for Verdan:

I really like the Verdan as a playable race. They have such odd abilities that fit well with everything and with a Charisma and Constitution Boost they do have quite a few different options. As a spellcaster, the Sorcerer is an excellent choice and they would make incredible Bards with their telepathic abilities. 

Warforged

Warforged are sentient constructs from the World of Eberron. They were built for war and constantly upgraded until they eventually became sentient. 

Warforged can be found in Eberron: Rising from the Last War.

  • Ages: All Warforged are 1-3 years old and there is no known limit to their age due to their new sentience.
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common & 1 Free Choice
  • Recommended Classes: Artificer

Special Abilities:

Because they are constructs they are immune to disease, don’t need to eat or sleep, and have advantage on saves against poison. They also have +1 AC naturally and can integrate armor into their carapace. 

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Constitution +2 
  • Free choice +1

Overview & Best Classes for Warforged:

There’s no real “best” class for the Warforged. Their major ability modifier is Consitution which is used by every class and they get a free choice. Their abilities are useful in most situations, so it’s up to players to simply come up with a fun RP angle. 

My personal favorite is a Warforged Artificer. It’s a machine that makes machines and can work on its own body to improve itself. 

Yuan-Ti Pureblood

The Yuan-Ti were an ancient race of humans that learned dark magics and abilities that let them combine themselves with snakes. 

The Yuan-Ti Purebloods can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

  • Ages: Same as humans
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: Base speed is 30ft
  • Languages: Common, Abyssal, and Draconic
  • Recommended Classes: Sorcerer, Warlock

Special Abilities:

The snake abilities of the Yuan-Ti give them immunity to poisons and they have natural magical abilities. They naturally know several different spells and they have darkvision.

Ability Score Modifiers:

  • Charisma +2
  • Intelligence +1 

Overview & Best Classes for Yuan-Ti:

Yuan-Ti’s natural magical abilities with their Charisma bonus just scream out for a Warlock or Sorcerer. They naturally have the Poison Spray cantrip so it allows the Yuan-Ti to have more spell options.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Races are in DnD?

Officially there are 42 different races in DnD. There are also hundreds of different sentient creatures and an unlimited amount of homebrewed races that can be played within the D20 system used by DnD.

What are the Nine Races in DnD?

The Nine original races in DnD are the ones that can be found in the Player’s Handbook. 

  1. Dwarves
  2. Elves
  3. Halflings
  4. Humans
  5. Dragonborn
  6. Gnomes
  7. Half-elves
  8. Half-orcs
  9. Tieflings

What race is best for DnD?

The best race for a beginner to DnD is the Human. Within DnD their skills and stats are extremely versatile and they can effectively pick and excel in any class. 

The question of which race is best is also highly subjective. The best race is the one that interests you the player and will keep your interest throughout the game. 

What is the Weirdest Race in DnD?

The answer is highly subjective, but the weirdest race in DnD is the Changeling from the Eberron series. They’re highly unsettling and out of all the races in DnD if they were real they would be one of the most horrifying creatures. 

What is the Least Used Race in DnD?

According to stats on DnD Beyond the least used race is the Aasimar. These are the creatures that have some celestial ancestry. 

What is the most Broken Race in DnD?

Yuan-Ti Purebloods and Vedalkin are considered to be the two most broken races in DnD 5e. They both have incredible natural abilities and are a go-to for Min-Max players looking to make their DM’s life hard.

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve decided on a race, it’s time to pick a class! Check out our in-depth guides to all of the DnD 5e classes before you choose.

Read our detailed class guide to DnD 5e Classes below.

CLASS GUIDES: BARBARIAN | BARD | CLERIC | DRUID | FIGHTER | MONK | PALADIN | RANGER | ROGUE | SORCERER | WARLOCK | WIZARD

We hope you enjoyed this DnD 5e Races Guide, why not check out our Point Buy 5e guide or our War Caster 5e guide?

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D&D Player’s Handbook
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12/06/2022 04:30 am GMT