When searching for a monster to drop in your campaign, you’ll often have trouble finding just the right monster. There’s usually not enough to find the perfect baddie without a bit of tweaking.
When searching for humanoids, however, you will have the opposite problem. Humanoids are everywhere, and they’re all different.
What Is a Humanoid in D&D 5e?
A humanoid is a “monstrous” creature type that includes a vast array of creatures that also happen to be playable races.
Before we get into the lists of humanoids and how to use them, let’s go over some common characteristics.
The list below is a general overview of what humanoids have in common. Unlike other monster types, however, humanoids can vary even in these things.
The most important thing to do is to look at the entry for which humanoid interests you to see the specifics.
- Are living creatures that eat, sleep, and breathe.
- Generally have two arms, two legs, and a head. Sometimes they have wings, tails, and/or horns.
- Typically only have a walking speed but could have more.
- Can use a variety of weapons.
- Can use a variety of armor.
- Can cast a variety of spells.
- Can use a variety of skills and ability checks.
- Can be found in any environment.
- Can be found in any type of social structure, including solitary.
- Can have any type of resistance but usually don’t.
- Rely on sight and sometimes have darkvision.
Basically, they’re humans or human-like creatures with mostly cosmetic and cultural differences. Sometimes they have mechanical differences to reflect this.
Humanoids are usually organized by race or by affiliation. As a GM, you’ll need to decide which matters more in your particular game.
If your characters are traveling to a region dominated by a single type of humanoid, then you’ll need to make sure the humanoids you choose are racially reflective of that region, and then modify them to represent their function in that society.
If your characters are living in a pluralistic, ethnically diverse society, affiliation will matter more.
You’ll need to first choose the humanoid stat block that does what you want it to do in that society, and then modify it to fit whatever race you want.
Or, you could just do the easy thing, and use the stat block as written with no regard to socio-cultural influences and systemic racial dominance.
But that’s not why you come to The Black Citadel. You come here because you want to be nuanced and awesome.
So, let’s get some nuance!
Organizing by Affiliation
The following list shows all of the humanoids that are identified by what they do instead of what they are.
The following lists are all of the stat blocks found in The Basic Rules, The Monster Manual, and the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
Many of the other sourcebooks, such as Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkaiden’s Tome of Foes (this one is AWESOME!), provide a more detailed list of humanoids that fulfill both racial and social functions.
- Bandit Captain
- Bone Knight
- Cult Fanatic
- Tribal Warrior
When using one of these stat blocks, you’ll want to consider what type of race you’re dealing with and if it matters.
For example, if your players are in a major metropolitan area and they are running from the police, it might be cool to have an Aarocokra unit within the police department that flies around.
For this situation, you’ll want to take the Guard stat block and give them a fly speed of 50 feet. Easy-peasy. You now have an Aarocokra police officer.
Another option when dealing with humanoids by affiliation is to create a Faction. We have a more detailed post here for that.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you’ve got a cult of some demon popping up. To build this faction, you’ll want to use the Cultist and Cultist Fanatic stat blocks.
And, hey, that’s great! That’s why they’re there.
But let’s say, for instance, this cult is attracting members from a local kobold community. Use the Cultist or Cultist Fanatic stat block, but give them darkvision.
Or simply use a kobold statblock.
What if your cult has attracted the attention of a local wizard? Then use the Conjurer stat block, but give him a cloak and a creepy smile.
If your faction is going to be successful, they’ll need to diversify. So, diversify!
This especially works with those
annoying amazing players who have every stat block memorized.
Humanoids by Race
The following list features humanoids that are organized by race.
- Bugbear chief
- Deep Gnome
- Drow Elite Warrior
- Drow Mage
- Drow Priestess of Lolth
- Githyanki Knight
- Githyanki Warrior
- Githzari Monk
- Githzerai Zerth
- Gnoll Packlord
- Goblin Boss
- Half-Dragon Veteran
- Hobgoblin Captain
- Hobgoblin Warlord
- Inspired hashalaq
- Inspired Kalaraq
- Inspired tuscora
- Kuo-toa archpriest
- Kuo-toa Monitor
- Kuo-toa Whip
- Lizard King/Queen
- Lizardfolk Shaman
- Orc eye of Gruumsh
- Orc Warchief
- Quaggoth Thonot
- Sahuagin Baron
- Sahuagin Priestess
- Warforged Soldier
- Yuan-ti Pureblood
Like affiliations, you don’t have to stick with these racial stereotypes when creating your bad guys.
That isn’t to say you can’t just use race to organize your foes. You can still do so without being racist. I mean, if all that lives in an area is Bugbears, you should use Bugbears.
While you don’t have to make the Bugbears all the same, most leaders would think it prudent not send your tailors where your soldiers ought to go.
So, sure, not all Bugbears are big, beefy bruisers – just the Bugbears that pick up weapons and go raiding are. Birds of a feather and all that.
It is possible to hold simplicity and nuance at the same time.
The problem happens when you decide that all Bugbears are big, beefy bruisers and that something about Bugbear genetics makes it impossible for there to be Bugbear tailors.
If you were going to make a Bugbear tailor, you should probably take the Bugbear stat block and let them cast mending as a cantrip and use leatherwork tools in exchange for a few points of Strength or Constitution.
And then don’t make them fight if they don’t have to.
When varying up your monstrous group, mix and match some of the vocational stat blocks with your racial statblocks.
For example, if your players are up against a gang of goblin highwaymen, you’ll most likely want to use the Goblin stat block. But let’s say you want to add a little variety to this fight and make one of them a spellcaster.
Just replace their Short bow with a firebolt spell. That’s simple enough. Give them the same To Hit bonus, but roll a 1d10 for damage instead of a 1d6 + 2.
Maybe that spellcaster is a smart cookie. Perhaps they can also cast prestidigitation, and they set up a few sticks of dynamite on the road to waylay the PCs.
And there you go, with a little foresight, you have turned a simple encounter to something with a little more difficulty and strategy involved.
Humanoids at Higher Tiers
The following list features humanoids that are CR10 and above.
That’s it. See the problem here? The downside of humanoids is that they tend to be the foes at lower tiers.
Most monsters have a lot of inherent abilities, resistances, immunities, and traits that make them tougher opponents.
In truth, with most adventures, you will find that the lower the tier of play, the more likely you are to face humanoids.
However, humanoids are so versatile that you may want to include them as foes in higher tiers. There are two different ways to do this.
Incorporate Them Into a Monstrous Organization
You could have a long-running game that starts with the PCs eliminating a cult in one city, but that could just be one chapter of the larger cult network.
What if there are regional offices, so to speak? Or a monster of some type that is a servant of the same deity?
That monster would likely have humanoid servants with better gear, numbers, and resources.
This option allows the use of the existing stat blocks for humanoids without any modification except a bonus to attack, damage, and Hit points.
Furthermore, you could expand the stat blocks you use.
You won’t have to just use the Cultist block. You could use the Acolyte, Paladin, Abjurer, or even a racial block like Hobgoblin or Werewolf, and just say they’re a cultist in name if not in numbers.
Add Levels to Them
This takes a bit more preparation, but ultimately, it is the best option. Make yourself a character of whatever race and level you need, and give them a generic name like Bodyguard.
Here is a quick guide to classes that lend themselves to advanced versions of generic bad guys.
- *Any leadership position
- Religious Leaders
- Advanced Terrorists
- Advanced Cultists
- *Any research or investigative position
- Arms Manufacturers
- *Any combat-oriented position
- Higher-Ranking Guard or Officer
- Advanced Soldier
- Advanced Athlete
- War Leaders
- *Any specialist, lateral-authority position
- Bounty Hunters
- Travel Guides (in or out of Urban environment)
- Advanced Assassins
- Criminal Leaders and Organizers
There are more than a few books out there which can improve how you use and incorporate humanoids into your game. We recommend checking them to see if they’re worth the money for your game.
From Wizards of the Coast
Mordenkaiden’s Tome of Foes
This book features detailed lore and social organizations of several humanoid races, including all Elven subtypes, Dwarves, Duergar, Gith, Halflings, and Gnomes.
Volo’s Guide to Monsters
This book is loaded with humanoids! In addition to other creature types, you will find lore and options for Goblinoids, Orcs, Yuan-ti, Aasimar, Firbolg, Goliath, Kenku, Lizardfolk, Tabaxi, and Triton.
On DM’s Guild
This nifty resource has 150+ stat blocks for race and class combinations at any level. If you need a quick, 9th-level fighter, a 10th-level wizard, and a 7th-level rogue, this book has them and many more already waiting.
It also includes factions, racial and class abilities you can easily apply to stat blocks, and maneuvers that can spice up any monster.
This resource gives you templates that you can add to any existing monster but work especially well with humanoids!
These templates will add to your humanoid’s tactical ability, thus giving them different roles to fill on the battlefield and off of it.