Minotaurs have a rich history, both in and out of D&D. For those that don’t know, the minotaur originated in Greek mythology. He was the child of Pasiphae, Minos’s wife, and a white bull given to Minos for sacrifice.
The monstrous offspring, a being with the head of a bull and body of a man, was famously kept in the Labyrinth on Crete and later killed by Theseus.
The minotaur has inspired countless legends and is often referenced in pop culture. From Narnia to American Horror Story, to even Doctor Who, minotaurs are a significant fantasy figure, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been a part of D&D since the beginning.
In classic D&D they were large, monstrous beings who served the god Baphomet.
Still, in 5th edition, there exists a monster version of the minotaur with a similar origin. The introduction of the playable race gives us the opportunity free from some of the savagery innate to the mythos.
The playable race is featured in not one, but two sourcebooks: Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica and Mythic Odyssey of Theros.
While the backstories for minotaurs in each of these MTG-inspired planes differ slightly, there are many features of the race that are consistent. Minotaurs found on other planes such as the Forgotten Realms or Eberron would share most of these characteristics, with a backstory more tied to the respective world.
Minotaurs are strong, dedicated, and courageous. While a savagery exists inside of them, ready to be unleashed in the heat of battle, they are more likely to channel that passion into their relationships. They love and laugh fiercely, investing much of their devotion to their partners and friends.
Many minotaurs make excellent tacticians and commanders, combining their capacity for fury with their dedication to honor and loyalty. While they are much less violent than their monstrous brethren, they are capable of unleashing great outrages when it is called for.
Minotaurs of Ravnica claim descendance from heroes of old, a pantheon that was at one time likened to gods. These minotaurs have strong ties to family lines, with the Ordruun line being perhaps the most respected line, and often found among the ranks of the Boros Legion.
Minotaurs of Theros were said to have been created by Mogis, god of slaughter. While some still follow him in his violent ways, most choose to make their own way in the world.
Those minotaurs seen traveling with other races are looked upon with curiosity and respect by other humanoids. Seeing a creature created for evil choose to take its own path is inspiring to the denizens of Theros.
Minotaur Abilities and Traits: What Characterizes the Minotaur Race
- Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2, and your Constitution score increases by 1.
- Alignment. Most minotaurs lean toward lawful alignments, while those associated with Mogis or more violent guilds on Ravnica tend toward chaotic alignments.
- Size. Minotaurs average over 6 feet in height, and they have stocky builds. Your size is Medium.
- Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
- Horns. Your horns are natural melee weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with them, you deal piercing damage equal to ld6 + your Strength modifier, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.
- Goring Rush. Immediately after you use the Dash action on your turn and move at least 20 feet, you can make one melee attack with your horns as a bonus action.
- Hammering Horns. Immediately after you hit a creature with a melee attack as a part of the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to attempt to shove that target with your horns. The target must be within 5 feet of you and no more than one size larger than you. Unless it succeeds on a Strength saving throw against a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier, you push it up to 10 feet away from you.
- Imposing Presence. You have proficiency in one of the following skills of your choice: Intimidation or Persuasion.
- Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Minotaur.
The minotaur have a wealth of impressive features, with three of the four being related to their horns. So let’s start off by talking about those. Typically an unarmed strike deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1 + your strength modifier, which for most minotaurs would likely be rather high anyway.
Instead, though, you get to deal 1d6 + your strength modifier, a great improvement by any means. This is even better than a tabaxi’s claws which deal 1d4 + strength modifier.
I think part of what makes minotaurs stand out as an excellent race is the way in which their abilities synergize. The next ability, Goring Rush, works beautifully for getting you an extra attack on a bonus action.
This generates a lot of movement for the bull-descended race, giving you the opportunity to get across the battlefield quickly without sacrificing your ability to deal damage.
Here to round out the minotaurs’ attacking prowess is the Hammering Horns ability. While this shoving ability does require you to do so after using the attack action, it means getting to control the battlefield in a fun, original way.
Getting up close and personal with a particularly dangerous enemy and then throwing them into the path of an ally is a great way to open up multiple attacks. You can also get real strategic and shove them into some spells effect or any form of terrain that might cause damage.
For example, get a druid to lay out spike growth behind a foe and then set them up for 4d4 damage when you shove them 10ft through it. Don’t tell your DM I taught you this, I don’t need them calling me.
The last ability is nowhere as cool as the other options, but it is certainly powerful. Intimidation and persuasion are always two great skills for a martial race (not that you have to go the martial route) to have.
As an imposing presence it would’ve been a lot cooler to see you add your strength modifier to these checks, but free proficiencies are nothing to complain about.
What Classes Are Well Suited to the Minotaur
Minotaurs are an impressive race, without even picking up a class they have a lot of raw potential as a force to be reckoned with on and off the battlefield.
Their impressive ability score increases aren’t uncommon, and like goliaths and half-orcs, their +2 in strength and +1 in constitution is going to make them an excellent choice for any martial class.
A quick note: Unarmed strikes are indeed considered melee weapon attacks. Many class abilities discuss melee weapon attacks, and your horns do count, even if the wording is a bit confusing. Clarification can be found in the Sage Advice Compendium if someone tries to go full rules lawyer with you.
Barbarian – This class feels the most naturally fitting for minotaurs. The monster version even has a feature that echoes the reckless attack barbarians gain. Employing rage is an excellent way to explore the minotaurs tendency towards violent outbursts and the struggle they might experience with control over their more primal urges.
Now from a mechanical perspective these just match up perfectly. The ability scores and features all synergize without creating any problems. Everything the minotaur can do works wonderfully during rage. Enjoy adding your rage damage bonus to your horns for some serious charges.
Fighter – Perfect ability score bonuses to start. Goring Rush and Hammering Horns both feel at home with the battle master’s maneuvers, giving you two additional ways to gain an edge on the battlefield in combat while still dealing damage.
While a battle master is perhaps the most focused on gaining battlefield control, any fighter would benefit from generating extra attacks while charging across the map.
Monk – Now strength-based monks are a bit more rare than those who utilize their dexterity, and the build would become a bit MAD (multiple ability dependent). That being said, there are a few things that make a Monkitaur an exciting option.
First, your horns have an incredible unarmed strike damage. So incredible, that monk’s martial arts skill doesn’t give them a d6 for unarmed strike until 5th level, and it isn’t until 11th level that they get stronger. This gives a minotaur incredible improvement on the base class for 10 whole levels!
Second, the monk is (generally, for anyone with some crazy rogue build out there) the fastest class in the game. They get to make the dash action as a bonus action for just 1 Ki point, and their speed is increased by 10 ft at second level. Pairing this with the bonus attack you gain after dash actions is just brutal. No one will see you coming.
I’m just going to say it again… Monkitaur.
Minotaur Appearance: General Looks Found Among Them
I might’ve spoiled this already, but minotaurs are half human and half bull. In some myths that can look very disjointed like a creation of Frankenstein.
The minotaurs found in D&D are of a much smoother combination. They are humanoid, with heads resembling cows (bulls are the males) and a very bulky build.
Perhaps this is obvious by now, but they also have horns. Their horns are large but vary greatly, ranging anywhere from 1 to 4 feet. They can be modestly shaped, large curling weapons, or even something resembling great antlers.
Their hair can be found in large manes that spread down their necks, as well as on their cloven hoofs. While the rest of their body isn’t completely covered in hair, they do tend to be covered in patches of fur on their arms, chest, and legs.
These patches of hair tend to taper nicely from more bull-like features to the skin of a typical humanoid, with the skin-color tending to reflect that of the hair.
The other feature these creatures gain from their bovine heritage is a long tufted tail. While this isn’t a problem for most minotaurs, those who choose to wear heavy armor often have their tails docked for more comfort.
Minotaur Names: Male, Female, Neutral, Other.
Minotaurs have a really unique naming convention. They choose names from history and legends, using names that have some significance in a story about a hero.
Rarely do they choose the hero themselves. More often it is some side character that assisted the hero in some way, or performed some great deed.
You can use this table to decide the significance of your name.
|1||My namesake defeated a great enemy.|
|2||My namesake was known for fierce devotion to a god.|
|3||My namesake was a respected leader of other warriors.|
|4||My namesake completed an incredible feat for the good of others.|
|5||My namesake was famous for a great magical ability.|
|6||My namesake was a hero’s devoted companion or aid.|
|7||My namesake is remembered for incredible generosity.|
|8||My namesake was a great oracle.|
Male Names: Bamvros, Dornik, Drazhan, Halafotios, Kalazmir, Menatravo, Rhordon, Thyorogog, Vrazlak
Female Names: Akra, Bozzri, Cika, Dhazdoro, Ghalantzo, Irnaya, Jaska, Kerani, Philoprodis, Raisha, Veska