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DnD Sizes 5e

DnD Sizes 5e

One size does not fit all. DnD Sizes 5e Explained.

If the real world is a place whose inhabitants come in all shapes and sizes, the same is true, if not more so, in the fantasy worlds that we experience through DnD campaigns.

Encounters can include everything from a swarm of bugs to a mighty Dragon, great subterranean worms burrow through the earth’s depths, and behemoths like Kraken are lurking in the ocean depths of any good campaign. And even the player’s characters can vary from small fey creatures to orge-like beasts. It is safe to say that size matters!

DnD Sizes 5e Explained

The concept of size is integral to understanding the spatial presence of creatures and objects. Size influences game mechanics such as lifting and pulling and also serves as a reference for the number of tiles occupied on a battle map. These might not all be taken up with the physical bulk of a creature but would indicate the area they dominate, perhaps through long tentacles or similar bodily features.

Size plays a significant role in combat encounters, defining the amount of space a creature occupies. However, its relevance extends beyond combat situations, such as being used as a factor to determine a creature’s ability to enter specific restrictive spaces. Additionally, size factors into the carrying mechanics of D&D 5e, illustrating how larger creatures can bear more weight than smaller ones.

In essence, the concept of size in D&D encompasses the following aspects:

Space Occupied: Size determines the effective space a creature takes up, measuring its presence and battlefield dominance in a combat encounter.

Squeezing Through: Size establishes the minimum space required for a creature to squeeze through, indicating its ability to navigate confined areas.

Lifting, Dragging, and Pushing: Size influences the amount of weight a creature can lift, drag, or push, highlighting the correlation between size and strength.

Page 191 of the Player’s Handbook explains size as…

“the measure of space a creature controls during combat, emphasizing that it is not an exact representation of its physical dimensions. For instance, a Medium creature is not necessarily 5 feet wide, but it does exert control over a space of that width.”

The concept of a creature’s space also reflects the free area necessary to engage effectively in combat. As a result, there are limitations regarding the number of creatures that can surround another animal in a combat scenario. 

Therefore, size in D&D primarily determines the space a creature controls on the battlefield rather than solely representing its actual size. Nevertheless, it is essential to note that size has practical applications outside combat, as outlined previously. It encompasses more than just the number of feet a creature controls during combat encounters.

DnD Sizes 5e Chart

In Dungeons & Dragons 5e, six distinct size categories are used to classify creatures and objects: Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge, and Gargantuan. Each category establishes the amount of space occupied by the entity, measured in squares or hexes on a battle map. These size categories provide players and Game Masters with a reasonable frame of reference to determine the relative size of creatures and objects.

Size Description Examples
Tiny The smallest size category. Imp, Sprite
Small Smaller than Medium but larger than Tiny. Goblin, Halfling
Medium The most common size for player characters and most creatures. Human, Elf, Orc
Large Larger than Medium but smaller than Huge. Ogre, Troll
Huge Larger than Large but smaller than Gargantuan. Dragon, Giant
Gargantuan The largest size category. Ancient Dragon

DnD Sizes 5e Creature Examples

  • Tiny Creatures – Badger, Flameskull, Imp, Owl, Sprite
  • Small Creatures – Cockatrice, Dretch, Goblin, Mephits, Halfling player race
  • Medium Creatures – Azer, Bearded Devil, Harpy, Mummy, most player races
  • Large Creatures – Aboleth, Dire Wolf, Ogre, Polar Bear, Young Dragons
  • Huge Creatures – Adult Dragons, Elephant, Giants, Treant, Tyrannosaurus Rex
  • Gargantuan Creatures – Ancient Dragons, Kraken, Purple Worm, Roc, Tarrasque

In Dungeons & Dragons 5e, a creature’s size does not necessarily correspond directly to its height. While there are some contextual references, the exact height of a creature based solely on its size is not explicitly defined. Size should be seen as more of an amalgamation of height, bulk, and perhaps even reach.

That size and height do not have a direct one-to-one correlation can be seen in the following comparison. A typical Draft Horse is typically only around six-and-a-half feet tall and is long and bulky but not particularly tall and classified as Large. On the other hand, an Ogre, also a Large creature, is between nine and ten feet tall.

So we can see clearly why there is no direct correlation between size and height. However, we can make some rough estimations of height based on contextual clues.

For example, Goliaths are said to reach a maximum height of eight feet, yet they are classified as Medium creatures. In contrast, the Ogre mentioned earlier starts at around nine feet tall. Half-Ogres, also classified as Large creatures, begin at approximately eight feet tall.

Therefore, the upper range for Medium-sized creatures in D&D 5e is around the eight-foot mark.

On the other hand, the shortest of the Giants in 5e, the Hill Giant, stands at approximately 16 feet tall. Comparatively, a Huge creature like the Tyrannosaurus Rex is about 15 feet (5 meters) tall. Although the T-Rex is longer than a Hill Giant, their heights are comparable. Hence, we can infer that Huge creatures start at around 15-16 feet tall.

However, it’s important to note that these estimates are based on limited clues in the Monster Manual and other sourcebooks. Thus, determining precise heights in D&D 5e remains subjective and relies on interpretation. This is where the Dungeon Master will be required to make rulings regarding specific actions and abilities of creatures dependent on thinking beyond the size rating as laid out in the rule books. However, the chart below is a helpful guide.

Heights by Creature Size

  • Tiny: shorter than 2 feet
  • Small: between 2 & 4 feet
  • Medium: between 4 & 8 feet
  • Large: between 8 & 15 feet
  • Huge: between 15 & 30 feet
  • Gargantuan: taller than 30 feet

Again, remember these are rough estimates, not explicit heights for the different D&D sizes.

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DnD Sizes 5e & Tile Counts

The most significant aspect of a creature’s size in Dungeons & Dragons is its number of tiles (squares or hexes) on a battle map.

To provide a concise summary of the number of tiles each size category occupies, refer to the following table:

  • Tiny: 1/4 square or hex
  • Small: 1 square or hex
  • Medium: 1 square or hex
  • Large: 4 squares (2 x 2) or 3 hexes
  • Huge: 9 squares (3 x 3) or 7 hexes
  • Gargantuan: 16+ squares (4+ x 4+) or 12+ hexes

It’s important to note that Gargantuan-sized creatures may exceed the depicted size on the battle map. The table merely represents the baseline amount of space occupied by Gargantuan creatures because once you start dealing with creatures in this category, they tend to be so large that they bend the rules and should be dealt with on a one-by-one basis by the Dungeon Master.

Blocking Enemy Movement

In Dungeons & Dragons, size has a significant impact on manipulating the movement of creatures on the battlefield, particularly when it comes to obstructing enemy movement. According to the rules, a creature can move through the space of another friendly creature without any restrictions because they will move to accommodate you. However, when it comes to hostile creatures, specific size requirements must be met.

Page 191 of the Player’s Handbook states:

…you can move through a hostile creature’s space only if the creature is at least two sizes larger or smaller than you.”

That means that if large enough, you can push your way through, and if small enough, you can find a gap that you can use to bypass the creature.

Here’s a breakdown of how each size category in D&D relates to this rule:

  • Tiny: Can move through spaces of Medium creatures and larger.
  • Small: Can move through spaces of Large creatures and larger ones.
  • Medium: Can move through spaces of Tiny, Huge, and Gargantuan creatures.
  • Large: Can move through spaces of Tiny, Small, and Gargantuan creatures.
  • Huge: Can move through spaces of Medium creatures and smaller ones.
  • Gargantuan: Can move through spaces of Large creatures and smaller ones.

It’s important to note that this rule only applies to hostile creatures. Regardless of size, creatures can move through the space of non-hostile creatures without any restrictions. However, that is not to say that the brooding Half-Orc Rogue might not choose such a moment to turn on you and block your escape at an opportune moment. (Maybe you shouldn’t have made that joke about him being Orc-ward around the opposite sex.)

However, it’s worth mentioning that moving through any creature’s space, be it ally or enemy, is considered difficult terrain. This means it requires extra movement to traverse and can impede overall mobility. Just because you can squeeze past doesn’t mean that it is easy; after all, not only do you have to wait for the right moment, but you also have to keep an eye on that morning star that they are swinging around, the one with a spiked ball half the size of your head!

Therefore, strategically using size to block enemy movement is a familiar tactic player characters and monsters use during combat. For example, an ogre might obstruct the only exit from a cave while goblin minions rain arrows down from the walls. Alternatively, a Paladin could hold off enemies in a narrow hallway, buying time for their party members to escape. They are like that, always playing the hero!

The larger the creature, the more effectively it can block enemy movement due to its sheer size and physical presence on the battlefield.

Size & Squeezing in 5e

As a rule, creatures can squeeze through spaces considered one size category smaller than their own. However, squeezing has certain drawbacks, including reduced movement speed and penalties to attack rolls.

As described on page 192 of the Player’s Handbook:

“A creature can squeeze through a space that is large enough for a creature one size smaller than it… While squeezing through a space, a creature must spend one extra foot for every foot it moves there, and it has Disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws. Attack rolls against the creature have Advantage while it’s in the smaller space.”

Essentially, a creature can only squeeze through a space no more than one size smaller than itself. While squeezing, the creature’s movement requires an additional 1 foot for every foot it moves through the smaller space. Moreover, it suffers from Disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws. Additionally, attacks against the squeezing creature have Advantage while it is in the smaller space.

Here is a general guideline for the squeezing rules based on the different size categories:

  • Tiny: Game Master’s discretion
  • Small: Squeezes through a space considered Tiny
  • Medium: Squeezes through a space considered Small
  • Large: Squeezes through a space considered Medium
  • Huge: Squeezes through a space considered Large
  • Gargantuan: Squeezes through a space considered Huge

It’s important to note that the specific determination of what spaces a creature can squeeze through is ultimately at the Dungeon Master’s discretion. For example, a cat and a frog are Tiny creatures, but a cat may be able to squeeze through smaller spaces compared to a frog due to the flexible nature of its anatomy.

Similarly, the Tarrasque and the Purple Worm both fall into the Gargantuan size category. These fantastical creatures defy easy measurements of their size. Still, it is reasonable to assume that a giant worm would have an easier time squeezing through a Huge space because of its suitability to such environments compared to a Godzilla-like creature with a heavily armored shell.

Ultimately, the determination of squeezing rules may vary from table to table and is subject to the Dungeon Master’s discretion and the specific circumstances of each situation as it arises.

Size, Lifting, Dragging, & Pulling

Size also plays a role in determining a creature’s capacity for carrying, dragging, lifting, and pushing weights in Dungeons & Dragons. As logic dictates, Larger creatures generally can handle heavier weights than smaller ones.

The rules for Lifting and Carrying can be found on page 176 of the Player’s Handbook, which includes guidelines for pushing, dragging, and lifting objects and creatures.

Carrying Capacity. Your carrying capacity is your Strength score multiplied by 15. This is the weight (in pounds) that you can carry, which is high enough that most characters don’t usually have to worry about it.

Push, Drag, or Lift. You can push, drag, or lift a weight in pounds up to twice your carrying capacity (or 30 times your Strength score). While pushing or dragging weight in excess of your carrying capacity, your speed drops to 5 feet.

Size and Strength. Larger creatures can bear more weight, whereas Tiny creatures can carry less. For each size category above Medium, double the creature’s carrying capacity and the amount it can push, drag, or lift. For a Tiny creature, halve these weights.

Here’s a table summarizing the calculation of carrying capacity and the weight that each size category can push, drag, or lift:

Size Carrying Capacity
Tiny STR x ½
Small None
Medium None
Large STR x 2
Huge STR x 4
Gargantuan STR x 8

It’s important to note that this table provides a general guideline for calculating carrying capacity and push/drag/lift capabilities based on size categories. However, specific creature abilities, racial features, or magical enhancements may modify these values.

There are size limitations for grappling. A creature can only attempt to grapple a creature that is no more than one size category larger than itself. Grappling in 5e refers to the act of trying to seize hold of another creature, which can be advantageous as it reduces the grappled creature’s movement speed to zero. It’s a common tactic employed by martial player characters.

According to page 195 of the Player’s Handbook, there is an explicit size restriction for grappling: 

“The target of your grapple must be no more than one size larger than you.”

For your reference, here’s a breakdown of which sizes each category can attempt to grapple:

  • Tiny creatures can grapple Tiny and Small creatures.
  • Small creatures can grapple Tiny, Small, and Medium creatures.
  • Medium creatures can grapple Tiny, Small, Medium, and Large creatures.
  • Large creatures can grapple Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, and Huge creatures.
  • Huge creatures can grapple creatures of all sizes.
  • Gargantuan creatures can also grapple creatures of all sizes.

However, Game Masters should consider the size difference when dealing with Gargantuan creatures beyond their size category. While technically, a Hill Giant can attempt to grapple a Tarrasque, the vast discrepancy in size between the two should be considered for a more realistic portrayal. As stated before, when you get into the upper echelons of the size category, you will have to choose, use and modify the rules for each situation.

Determining the Sizes of Objects in 5e

In Dungeons & Dragons, you can generally determine the size of an object by the number of tiles it occupies on a map. Using the size categories provided in the game is a good starting point for determining object sizes.

Dungeon Masters can use the size categories to estimate the size of various objects. For example, a table that occupies a 10-foot by 8-foot area would be considered Large, while a wooden water barrel might be classified as Medium.

To better understand object sizes, you can compare them to creatures, particularly those found in the Constructs monster type. For instance, an Animated Armor is Medium-sized, a Flying Sword is Small, and a Rug of Smothering is Large. These creatures serve as examples of animated objects with defined sizes.

The Dungeon Master’s Guide, on page 247, offers guidance on determining object hit points based on size. While focusing on hit points, it also provides examples of objects that fall into specific size categories.

Here are some examples mentioned in the guide:

  • Tiny objects: bottle, lock
  • Small objects: chest, lute
  • Medium objects: barrel, chandelier
  • Large objects: cart, 10-ft-by-10-ft window
  • Huge and Gargantuan objects: colossal statue, a towering column of stone, a massive boulder

Ultimately, determining the size of an object is often obvious but always at the discretion of the Dungeon Master. However, using the size categories as a reference point can help approximate the size of objects within the game.

How Race Sizes Affect Gameplay

All playable races in D&D 5e are categorized as either Small or Medium. Medium-sized player characters generally do not have any drawbacks, and some even possess traits that go beyond the limitations of the Medium category. However, Small-sized player characters may encounter limitations when wielding certain weapons in 5e.

The majority of playable races in 5e are considered Medium-sized creatures. These races adhere to the standard rules regarding the number of squares or hexes they occupy on a battle map, their carrying capacity, and the weight they can push, drag, and lift.

On the other hand, some playable races fall into the Small size category, and while they follow most of the regular rules, there is an additional restriction regarding certain weapons.

In 5e, certain weapons possess the Heavy property, as stated on page 147 of the Player’s Handbook:

Heavy. Creatures that are Small or Tiny have a disadvantage on attack rolls with heavy weapons. A heavy weapon’s size and bulk make it too large for a Small or Tiny creature to use effectively.”

This means that Small player characters have a disadvantage when making attack rolls with weapons that have the Heavy property. It’s important to note that this applies to all Small creatures, not just player characters.

Additionally, many (but not all) Small character races have a reduced movement speed of 25 feet. This is usually the case for the more established character race options like Halflings, while newer Small races like Goblins often have a movement speed of 30 feet instead.

Apart from these considerations, players of Small-sized characters follow the standard rules for their size category.

A few exceptions exist among player races, such as the Goliath, which possesses the Powerful Build trait. This trait means that player characters of these races utilize the rules for the Large size category when determining their carrying capacity and the weight they can push, drag, and lift.

Instead of the usual STR x 15 and STR x 30 formulas for carrying capacity and weight limits, these player races would use STR x 30 and STR x 60, respectively.

DnD Sizes 5e FAQs

Do Small Creatures Get +1 AC?

No. Small creatures do not get a +1 bonus to their Armor Class. This is a myth that seems to perpetuate due to their perceived nimbleness and the small target that they offer. But, nowhere in the rules does it state that this is the case.

Can a Tiny Creature Ride a Tiny Creature?

Again, no. A Tiny creature cannot ride a different Tiny creature. One look at the Mounted Combat rules and you will see that they clearly state that, “A willing creature that is at least one size larger than you…can serve as a mount.” So, any creature, Tiny or otherwise, is unable to ride on in its same size category.

How Big is a Dragon?

Dragons vary in size depending on age rising from Medium to Gargantuan throughout their life. This is the same for all dragons no matter what color, species or gender.

Dragon Wyrmling: Medium
Young Dragon: Large
Adult Dragon: Huge
Ancient Dragon: Gargantuan

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