Full Guide to Playable Character Races in DnD 5e

Last Updated on June 17, 2022

Creating a character in Dungeons & Dragons 5e is a chance to step into a boundless fantastical world full of adventure, dungeons, and strange monsters to fight.

In addition to owlbears, mind flayers, and the undead, the many worlds of D&D are home to dozens of sentient races with wildly different physical characteristics, cultures, and abilities. 

These races range from the humble human and other “classic” fantasy humanoids like elves, dwarves, and halflings to snake people, birdfolk, deep gnomes, and half-giants. 

The one thing that unites the people from all these different races is that, sooner or later, some of them decide to become adventurers. 

Welcome to our guide to playable races in D&D 5e, an introduction to every commonplace and exotic lineage you can use to build your next character, along with some advice on which playable races work best as part of different character builds. 

We’ve grouped our entries into two sections for this guide. 

First up are the nine “classic” fantasy races found in the Player’s Handbook.

Then, we’ve included the other 34 “fantastical” races that were previously scattered throughout Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, Volo’s Guide to Monsters and other supplements like The Wild Beyond the Witchlight but were recently gathered together in a revised format as part of Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse as well as other “exotic” options for playable races from other sourcebooks. 

Monsters of the Multiverse and 5.5e

Traditionally in D&D 5e, different playable races were afforded different innate bonuses (or, in some cases, penalties) to their ability scores.

Increasingly, as the conversation in the D&D community shifts toward ways to avoid problematic ideas like bioessential racial traits, especially negative ones, Wizards of the Coast has started reworking the next generation of the D&D 5e rules to make races more flexible. 

This helps get around some tricky ideas, like inherent alignment or the fact that all orcs previously started out in life with an intelligence penalty, but it also opens up a whole load of new opportunities to play different class/race pairings that previously would have been mechanically suboptimal. 

Ability Score modifiers have been decoupled from character race. Now, all characters using this method of generation get to either increase one ability score by +2 and another by +1 or increase three different scores by +1.

You still can’t increase a starting ability score above 20. 

Custom Lineage

If the 40+ options for playable races don’t offer enough variety — or perhaps you’re a dungeon master looking to create playable races for your homebrew setting — then the Custom Lineage rules from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything are a new way to create balanced “legal” characters who aren’t based on an existing race. 

When you create a custom lineage character, you give them the following traits. 

  • Creature type: You are a humanoid. You determine your appearance and whether you resemble any of your kin.
  • Size: You are Small or Medium (your choice).
  • Speed: Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
  • Ability Score Increase: One ability score of your choice increases by 2.
  • Feat: You gain one feat of your choice for which you qualify.
  • Variable Trait: You gain one of the following options of your choice:
    • Darkvision with a range of 60 feet.
    • Proficiency in one skill of your choice.
  • Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language that you and your DM agree is appropriate for your character.

“Classic” Playable Races

This section deals with the nine character races found in the Player’s Handbook, which include humans and iconic nonhuman races that have been a part of D&D since the earliest edition of the game, like elves, dwarves, and halflings (although Gary Gygax repeatedly swore that Tolkein wasn’t an influence on the game) as well as some other, more exotic options. 

1. Dragonborn 

Jaded Sell-Sword
© Wizards of the Coast by Randy Vargas
  • Powerful breath weapon attack
  • Damage resistance is super powerful 
  • New subclasses add versatility

Resembling humanoid dragons, the first dragonborn were created long ago, either born from sorcerous experimentation or forged by the draconic gods.

Dragonborn scales — once as lustrous as those belonging to the true dragons — have faded over the generations, but the breath in their lungs remains just as powerful. 

Dragonborn are all distantly related to a particular type of dragon and gain a breath-weapon attack tied to their particular color as well as resistance to a particular damage type associated with their draconic ancestry. 

If you’re playing a standard dragonborn from the Player’s Handbook, then the +2 Charisma bonus along with some added Strength makes dragonborn especially good candidates for the Paladin class. 

If you’re playing one of the three new dragonborn subraces released as part of Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, then you gain access to some additional elemental damage immunity, an incapacitating breath weapon, or psionic abilities depending on whether your draconic ancestry is chromatic, metallic, or gem.

You also get to distribute your Ability Score increases the new way, which means that just about any class is a great fit for these types of dragonborn.

2. Dwarf 

Bruenor Battlehammer
© Wizards of the Coast by Wayne Reynolds
  • Tough and tanky
  • Weapon and armor proficiencies great for adding survivability to casters 
  • Could be tough to break out of the “Classic Fantasy Dwarf” mold when roleplaying

Born beneath stone and the weight of history, dwarves are a proud people bound by tradition and duty to the clan, master stoneworkers, and artisans as well as fierce warriors.

They have a natural resistance toward poison and are trained from a young age to be as comfortable wielding their hammer over a burning forge as in battle with a horde of goblins. 

Dwarves make excellent Strength-based martial characters, although there’s no reason that you can’t fill the iconic dwarven cleric role or even play a Ranger or a Druid with the Hill Dwarf’s extra Wisdom point. 

3. Elf 

Timberwatch Elf
© Wizards of the Coast by Yohann Schepacz
  • Tall, haughty, hot and know it
  • Rangers and rogues par excellence 
  • Drow in particular get great innate spellcasting

Elves are probably synonymous with the fantasy genre, and D&D 5e is no exception.

If you want to play an elf, you’re going to be spoiled for choice as the feywild-native Eladrin, the mournful Shadar-Kai, and the aquatic Sea Elves all fall under this umbrella.

Given their rarity and the different mechanical assumptions made about them however, they’ve been moved over into the second half of this article.

This entry is concerned with the three types of elf found in the Player’s Handbook: High Elves, Wood Elves, and Dark Elves (also known as Drow). 

Graceful, dextrous, ageless — elves are an otherworldly race who choose to dwell in places of ethereal tranquility in balance with the natural world, except the drow, of course, but their long sojourn in the Underdark and what it has done to their culture serves as a demonstration of what happens when elves fall out of step with the natural world (I guess worshiping an evil spider goddess doesn’t help).

All elves are distantly descended from beings of the feywild and are naturally resistant to magic that would charm them and can’t be magically put to sleep.

They also don’t need to sleep normally, falling into a meditative trance instead. 

Different elven subraces grant a range of benefits from innate spellcasting and weapon training to an almost supernatural ability to hide among the trees, meaning elves can be well suited to a wide variety of character classes.      

4. Gnome 

  • The archetypal artificer 
  • Advantage on all saving throws vs. magic is insanely powerful 
  • Still won’t ever be cool

Curious, analytical, and joyous, gnomes tend to delight in life and the exploration of its mysteries.

Their communities bustle with the sound of constant tinkering and invention, and few cultures marry magic and what passes for technology in the various worlds of D&D

In addition to having advantage on all saving throws against magic thanks to their gnome cunning, both gnomish subraces get evocative and interesting abilities, like the Forest Gnome’s ability to communicate with animals and the Rock Gnome’s proficiency at creating small mechanical marvels. 

5. Half-Elf

  • Adapts to almost anything 
  • The objectively best choice for bards and other charisma-based classes 
  • Interesting roleplaying opportunities

Being caught between two worlds has made half-elves adaptable, and truly belonging to neither has made them independent, even though they like to say they take on the best qualities of their human and elven parents.

Half-elves age at much the same rate as humans, but although they will never live as long as an elf, they can still almost double the expected lifespan of a human. 

Mechanically, any class that values Charisma can be a good fit for a Half-Elf, but it’s the synergy between this class’s extra skill proficiencies and the Bard’s Expertise that makes for a truly classic pairing. 

6. Half-Orc 

Half-Orc
© Wizards of the Coast
  • Top-tier barbarians
  • Relentless Endurance is hugely impactful at lower levels
  • Way more interesting to roleplay than half-elves

Born of the union between two worlds, Half-Orcs walk the line between the primal fury of their Orcish ancestors and the more cerebral influence of their human parentage.

Larger and bulkier than humans, a Half-Orc is still dwarfed by a full-blooded Orc.

This doesn’t prevent them from being just as fearsome in battle, capable of dishing out extra damage on a critical hit, staying conscious when knocked to 0 hit points, and gaining proficiency in the intimidation skill. 

Half-Orcs make classic fighters and barbarians (especially if you want to embrace the orcs’ more tribal culture as a foundation for the barbarian’s own abilities), although they could easily make excellent Rangers, Paladins, and Clerics. 

7. Halfling 

Mazzy, Truesword Paladin
© Wizards of the Coast by Justyna Gil
  • Lucky, Brave, and Nimble are all superb 
  • The perfect rogue 
  • Pick the Ghostwise if you resent the idea of being a jolly little hobbit

Naturally gregarious, potbellied, and fond of life’s simple comforts, not many Halflings forgo the luxuries of home for a life as an adventurer. The ones that do, however, find themselves well suited to the profession.

Halflings are nimble, courageous, and possess reserves of luck far larger than their small physiques (which allow them to reroll natural 1s on any ability check, attack roll, or saving throw). 

8. Human 

  • Infinite variety, highly versatile
  • A Feat at 1st level is absolutely top tier 
  • Or at least, it was until Custom Lineage came out 

The most widespread, simple, and versatile race in D&D, humans are everywhere and can do just about anything better than most — even if it’s not as good as some.

The Standard human can increase every single one of their ability scores by one, whereas the Variant human gets to pick a feat and increase two stats of their choice. 

9. Tiefling 

Ob Nixilis, the Adversary
© Wizards of the Coast by Igor Kieryluk
  • Super-powerful innate spellcasting 
  • Fun, demonically driven roleplaying opportunities 
  • Shame about all the infernal lineages getting axed by MotM

Cursed by an ancient sin — a deal struck between their forefathers and a prince of the Nine Hells — tieflings are doomed to forever be outsiders in the worlds of mortals, feared and mistrusted; for whether it’s horns, a forked tongue, or dark-red skin, they wear their lineage where others can see it. 

Tieflings do get some powerful advantages as a result of their fiendish heritage, however.

They are resistant to fire damage and get access to some useful innate spellcasting, including the Thaumaturgy cantrip, Hellish Rebuke, and Darkness. 

There are several more tiefling bloodlines tied to the other archdevils of the nine hells, but they were published in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes and are therefore now considered legacy content.

This is a shame, because Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse appears to have done nothing to redress the dearth of tiefling variety — although you can still find rules for the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide’s variant tieflings here.

Fantastical Races 

Beyond the nine “classic” fantasy races that form the core of D&D 5e’s playable races, there’s a whole multiverse of variety and strangeness.

There’s everything from playable races inspired by Greek mythology, like the satyr and minotaur, to traditionally “monstrous” races given new life as playable options, like the goblin, bugbear, and orc, not to mention species from the farthest flung corners of the planes like Fairies, elemental Genasi, and the Gith. 

Unless otherwise specified, all the races listed in this section use the new character generation rules from Monsters of the Multiverse

  • Ability Score Increases: Either +2 in one score and +1 in another, +1 in three different scores. No score may be increased above 20. 
  • Languages: All characters can speak, read, and write Common and one other language appropriate to the character.

1. Aarakocra

Aarakocra
© Wizards of the Coast
  • Creature Type: Humanoid
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Flight: Aarakocra not wearing medium or heavy armor have a flying speed equal to their walking speed. 
  • Talons: Unarmed strikes deal 1d6 + Strength slashing damage. 
  • Wind Caller: Innate spellcasting lets you cast Gust of Wind once per long rest (or using a 2nd level spell slot) once you reach 3rd level. 

Winged, feathered humanoids from the elemental plane of air, Aarakocra are a nomadic people who gained the power of flight in service to the Wind Dukes of Aaqa.

On the material plane, the Aarakocra made their homes in treetops high in the mountains. Here, they are explorers, immigrants, and refugees. 

With a mixture of flight and innate spellcasting, Aarakocra are a highly mobile and versatile player race that can find themselves well suited to any class that doesn’t require them to wear medium-heavy armor.

Rogues, Barbarians, and Druids are all great choices here — as are Monks, given the boost to unarmed strike damage that Aarakocra receive due to their talons. 

2. Aasimar 

Liesa, Forgotten Archangel
© Wizards of the Coast by Dmitry Burmak
  • Creature Type: Humanoid
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Celestial Resistance: Resistance to necrotic and radiant damage 
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Healing Hands: Once per long rest, touch a creature and roll a number of d4s equal to your proficiency bonus, restoring that much hp to the creature. 
  • Lightbearer: Innately cast the light cantrip (CHA spellcasting modifier).
  • Celestial Revelation: At 3rd level, choose between Necrotic Shroud, Radiant Consumption, and Radiant Soul, each of which grants a different celestial benefit, from flying speed to extra damage. 

Touched by a spark of the upper planes, Aasimar are to celestials as Tieflings are to fiends.

They aren’t necessarily the offspring of a celestial and a humanoid, although that can be the case; some aasimar are created when a mortal is infused with divine power. 

Aasimar have a mixture of useful racial traits, of which their Healing Hands are especially powerful — seeing as this is effectively a version of the Paladin’s Lay on Hands ability.

Also, the Celestial Revelation that all Aasimar receive at 3rd level can be a lynchpin of a character build, not to mention increase your damage output noticeably. 

3. Bugbear 

Bugbear
© Wizards of the Coast
  • Creature Type: Humanoid (also a goblinoid) 
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Fey Ancestry: Advantage on saving throws to avoid or end being charmed 
  • Long-Limbed: Melee attack reach increased by 5 feet. 
  • Powerful Build: Count as one size larger when determining carrying capacity as well as weight you can carry, drag or lift. 
  • Sneaky: Proficient in Stealth and can move through a space large enough for a small creature. 
  • Surprise Attack: If you hit a creature before it has taken a turn in the current combat, it takes an extra 2d6 damage. 

Large, hairy, hulking — bugbears are the biological cousins of goblins and hobgoblins, although they are significantly larger than both of them.

Despite their size, bugbears are remarkably stealthy, and their fey ancestry expresses itself in an ability to hide and move through spaces that seem far too small to accommodate their massive frames. 

Mechanically, bugbears have an awful lot going for them. Their additional 5 feet of reach means that, if you equip one with a reach weapon of some kind and the Sentinel feat, they become virtually unmatched at controlling the battlefield.

Their Sneaky and Surprise attack features also make them amazing candidates for the Rogue class, especially the assassin. Also, they can get more out of the Alert feat than just about any other playable race. 

4. Centaur

  • Creature Type: Fey 
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 40 feet 
  • Charge: If you move 30 feet toward a target and hit with a melee weapon attack, you can make a bonus action attack with your hooves. 
  • Equine Build: You’re half horse, so you count as one size larger when determining carrying capacity, and any climbing that requires hands and feet costs 4 feet of movement for every 1 foot. 
  • Hooves: Unarmed strikes deal 1d6 + Strength bludgeoning. 
  • Natural Affinity: Proficiency in Animal Handling, Medicine, Nature, or Survival. 

Centaurs from the Feywild have a mystical connection to the natural world. Their powerful back legs make for useful unarmed weapons which, combined with their 40 foot movement speed, means they make excellent monks. 

5. Changeling 

  • Creature Type: Fey 
  • Size: Medium or Small 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Changeling Instincts: Proficiency in two of the following skills: Deception, Insight, Performance, Persuasion. 
  • Shapechanger: As an action, alter your appearance and voice, including duplicating the appearance of another individual you’ve seen before.

Changelings live in secret as part of many different societies throughout the multiverse, able to perfectly blend in among other unsuspecting races.

The first changelings originated in the feywild, although they can now be found just about anywhere — assuming you know how to look. 

Mechanically, a changeling can be a good fit for just about any role, although it’s as a Rogue or Bard where they truly shine. 

6. Deep Gnome (Svirfneblin)

  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Small
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Darkvision: 120 feet 
  • Gift of the Svirfneblin: From 3rd level, you can cast Disguise Self. From 5th, you can cast Nondetection. Once you cast either spell, you must take a long rest before you can cast one again. Choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as your spellcasting-ability modifier at character creation. 
  • Gnomish Magic Resistance: Advantage on saving throws against spells. 
  • Svirfneblin Camouflage: Advantage on stealth checks a number of times per long rest equal to your proficiency bonus. 

Small, secretive natives to the Underdark, the deep gnomes are a supernaturally stealthy race of stonecutters and foragers.

Their innate spellcasting and natural camouflage make them outstanding Rogues or Rangers, and their advantage on saving throws against magic is among the most powerful racial bonuses in the game.  

7. Duergar

Duergar
© Wizards of the Coast
  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Darkvision: 120 feet 
  • Duergar Magic: 3rd level enlarge/reduce and 5th level invisibility once per long rest. Choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as your spellcasting ability modifier at character creation. 
  • Dwarven Resilience: Advantage on saving throws against poison and resistance to poison damage. 
  • Psionic Fortitude: Advantage on saving throws against the charmed and stunned conditions. 

All dwarves are at home underground, but the ancestors of the Duergar delved deeper than any other, all the way down into the underdark.

Far below the surface world, these deep dwarves were warped by the strange magical energy — a transformation that was only accelerated by the cruel experiments of mind flayers and other aberrations.

As a result, Duergar have minds that are open to psionic abilities and resistant to outside interference. 

The Duergar’s innate spellcasting and psionic fortitude offer an interesting mixture of survivability and durability, which make this race excellently suited to playing just about any class. 

8. Eladrin

  • Creature Type: Humanoid (elf) 
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Fey Ancestry: Advantage on saving throws to avoid or end being charmed. 
  • Fey Step: Teleport up to 30 feet as a bonus action with a special effect depending on your chosen season. 
  • Keen Senses: Proficiency in Perception 
  • Trance: Meditate instead of sleeping. Lets you change season. Whenever you finish a trance, gain two new weapon or tool proficiencies you don’t have.  

Eladrin are a subrace of elves native to the Feywild.

Untamable, changeable, and fiercely free, the Eladrin are ruled by their emotions and innate connection, both to the changing seasons of the natural world and to the roiling fey magic that lives within each of them.

Fey Step offers a drastic increase in the Eladrin’s mobility (allowing them to get in and out of combat as and when they need), and the extra seasonal effects bring a large amount of additional versatility to this player race, allowing you to charm, frighten, or damage your enemies and even let your allies teleport instead of you. 

9. Fairy

  • Creature Type: Fey 
  • Size: Small 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Fairy Magic: You know the Druidcraft cantrip. From 3rd level, you learn Faerie Fire, and from 5th level you can cast Enlarge/Reduce. You can cast a leveled spell in this way once per long rest, unless you use a spell slot. Choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as your spellcasting-ability modifier at character creation. 
  • Flight: Fairies not wearing medium or heavy armor have a flying speed equal to their walking speed.

Larger than pixies and sprites but smaller than just about everyone else, Fairies are one of the archetypal fey races with innate spellcasting and the power of flight.

These chaotic, mirthful folk tend to look like small elves with insectoid wings, although there are an almost endless variety found throughout the feywild and beyond. 

10. Firbolg

Firbolg
© Wizards of the Coast
  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Firbolg Magic: You can cast the Detect Magic or Disguise Self spell once per long rest. Choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as your spellcasting-ability modifier at character creation. 
  • Hidden Step: Magically turn invisible as a bonus action (a number of times per long rest equal to your proficiency bonus) until the start of your next turn or until you attack, make a damage roll, or force someone to make a saving throw.
  • Powerful Build: Firbolgs count as one size larger when calculating carrying, lifting, pushing, and dragging capacity. 
  • Speech of Beast and Leaf: You can communicate simple ideas with beasts and plants. You have advantage on all Charisma checks made to influence them. 

11. Genasi  

Genasi
© Wizards of the Coast

Descended from genies of the elemental planes, Genasi are all tied to one of the four elements — Air, Earth, Fire, and Water — and embody traits inherited from their ancestral element. 

Each genasi gets a nice array of resistances and innate spells that makes them feel uniquely tied to their chosen element as well as the genies to whom they are distantly related. 

Genasi, Air

  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium or Small 
  • Speed: 35 feet
  • Darkvision: 60 feet
  • Unending Breath: Hold your breath forever if you’re not incapacitated. 
  • Lightning Resistance: Resistant to lightning damage. 
  • Mingle With the Wind: You know the shocking grasp cantrip. From 3rd level, you can cast the feather fall spell, and from 5th level you can cast the levitate spell (once per long rest or with a spell slot). Choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as your spellcasting-ability modifier at character creation. 

Genasi, Earth

  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium or Small 
  • Speed: 30 feet
  • Darkvision: 60 feet
  • Earth Walk: Move across difficult terrain (walking on the ground) as though it’s normal. 
  • Merge With Stone: You know the blade ward cantrip, which you can cast as normal or as a bonus action a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus per long rest. From 5th level you can cast Pass Without Trace (once per long rest or with a spell slot). Choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as your spellcasting-ability modifier at character creation. 

Genasi, Fire

  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium or Small 
  • Speed: 30 feet
  • Darkvision: 60 feet
  • Fire Resistance: Resistance to fire damage. 
  • Reach Into the Blaze: You know the produce flame cantrip. From 3rd level, you can cast the burning hands spell, and from 5th level you can cast the flame blade (once per long rest or with a spell slot). Choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as your spellcasting-ability modifier at character creation. 

Genasi, Water

  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium or Small
  • Speed: 30 feet (walking and swimming)
  • Darkvision: 60 feet
  • Acid Resistance: Resistant to acid damage. 
  • Amphibious: Breathe air and water. 
  • Call to the Wave: You know the acid splash cantrip. From 3rd level, you can cast create or destroy water, and from 5th level you can cast water walk (once per long rest or with a spell slot). Choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as your spellcasting-ability modifier at character creation. 

12. Githyanki 

Githyanki
© Wizards of the Coast
  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Astral Knowledge: Gain proficiency in a skill, weapon, and a tool of your choice when you finish a long rest. 
  • Githyanki Psionics: You know the mage hand cantrip (the hand is invisible, like you have the Telekinetic feat). From 3rd level, you can cast jump, and from 5th level you can cast misty step (once per long rest or with a spell slot). Choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as your spellcasting-ability modifier at character creation. 
  • Psychic Resilience: Resistance to psychic damage. 

Psionically gifted interdimensional space pirates, the Githyanki are one half of an ancient race once enslaved by the mind flayer empire and now locked in a bitter civil war.

The Githyanki are the more warlike subspecies of Gith, raiding the material plane on red dragonback or in flying ships made of iron. 

As conceptually cool as Githyanki are, their psionics just don’t feel as powerful as some other races’ innate spellcasting, although the invisible mage hand is a nice touch.

The ability to effectively learn a new skill, weapon, and tool every day, however, is amazing. 

13. Githzerai 

  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Githyanki Psionics: You know the mage hand cantrip (the hand is invisible, like you have the Telekinetic feat). From 3rd level, you can cast shield, and from 5th level you can cast detect thoughts (once per long rest or with a spell slot). Choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as your spellcasting-ability modifier at character creation. 
  • Mental Discipline: Advantage on saving throws to avoid or end the charmed condition. 
  • Psychic Resilience: Resistance to psychic damage. 

Meditative, disciplined, and monastic, the Githzerai are powerful psionicists, especially adept at guarding their own minds against outside interference. 

14. Goblin

Goblin Javelineer
© Wizards of the Coast by Mike Jordana
  • Creature Type: Humanoid (goblinoid) 
  • Size: Small 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Fey Ancestry: Advantage on saving throws to avoid or end being charmed. 
  • Fury of the Small: Deal extra damage equal to your proficiency bonus when your target is one or more sizes larger than you. 
  • Nimble Escape: Disengage or Hide as a bonus action. 

Traditionally little more than fodder for low-level adventurers, goblins are a subterranean folk found just about anywhere you go in the multiverse.

Distantly descended from fey (where they once served the Queen of Air and Darkness) the Goblin people were conquered by the god Maglubiyet and scattered across the material plane. 

Goblins make outstanding martial and spellcasting characters in equal measure, seeing as their Fury of the Small ability triggers on spell- or weapon-attack damage.

Their Nimble Escape actually makes it kind of a waste to play a Goblin Rogue, however, as you’ll be doubling up on Cunning Action.

However, if you’re thinking about injecting a bit of sneakiness into a non-Rogue character, playing a Goblin is a great way to do it.  

15. Goliath 

  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Little Giant: Proficient in Athletics and count as one size larger when determining carrying capacity, etc. 
  • Mountain Born: Resistant to cold damage and can quickly acclimate to high altitudes. 
  • Stone’s Endurance: Use your reaction to reduce incoming damage by 1d12 + Constitution modifier (number of times equal to your proficiency bonus per long rest). 

The closest playable relative of Giants, Goliaths are infused with the supernatural essence of their larger kin (even though at somewhere between 7 and 8 feet tall, they’re not puny by any means), which makes them suited to life amid the highest mountains. 

The ability of Goliaths to reduce incoming damage makes them one of the more durable races to play, meaning they’re well-suited to playing a Fighter or Barbarian. 

16. Harengon 

Harengon
© Wizards of the Coast
  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium or Small 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Hare-Trigger: Add your proficiency bonus to initiative rolls. 
  • Leporine Senses: Proficiency in Perception. 
  • Lucky Footwork: Add 1d4 to failed Dexterity saving throws as a reaction. 
  • Rabbit Hop: Jump proficiency bonus x 5 feet as a bonus action (a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus). 

Exuberant rabbit folk front the feywild, Harengons are bipedal, with long feet and powerful back legs they use for running and jumping with remarkable grace and speed. 

With a fairly unique array of mobility and dexterity-based bonuses (including to their initiative scores), Harengons make excellent Rogues (particularly assassins), Monks, and even Bards. 

17. Hobgoblin 

You See a Pair of Goblins
© Wizards of the Coast by Aaron Miller
  • Creature Type: Humanoid (goblinoid)
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Fey Ancestry: Advantage on saving throws to avoid or end being charmed. 
  • Fey Gift: Help as a bonus action a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus. Also, from 3rd level, you gain additional effects, including granting you and an ally temporary hp, increased movement speed, or imposing disadvantage on an enemy. 
  • Fortune of the Many: If you miss with an attack roll or fail an ability check or a saving throw, you can gain a bonus to the roll equal to the number of allies you can see within 30 feet of you (maximum bonus of +3). You can use the trait a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus per long rest. 

Once thought of as merely the goblins’ smarter, more disciplined and warlike cousins, hobgoblins have undergone some changes recently that put them back in touch with their fey roots.

Mechanically, this has made hobgoblins into one of the best races for a supporting character, able to buff and aid their allies better than just about any other race.

This makes them an amazing candidate for the Bard or Cleric class, although players who want their Hobgoblin to be a bit more directly impactful could still play a battle master Fighter. 

18. Kenku 

  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium or Small 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Expert Duplication: Advantage on checks to forge or copy writing or craftwork. 
  • Kenku Recall: Proficiency in two skills of your choice. Give yourself advantage on any skill you’re proficient in a number of times per long rest equal to your proficiency bonus. 
  • Mimicry: Accurately mimic sounds you have heard. Detectable only with a DC 8 + your CHA modifier + Proficiency bonus Insight check. 

Feathered humanoids who resemble members of the Corvid family, Kenku reputedly lost their flight and talent for creativity when they stole from their own god many thousands of years ago, dooming them to wander the material plane.

Other Kenku believe their species’ excellent memories are a gift and speak to their destiny to witness and record as many of the universe’s wonders as possible. 

With a mixture of insanely useful skill bonus checks and disguise/forgery expertise, Kenku are probably the best candidate for Bards and Rogues (the skill monkey classes) and excel at subterfuge and deception. 

19. Kobold 

  • Creature Type: Humanoid
  • Size: Small
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Draconic Cry: Give all your allies (and yourself) advantage on attack rolls against enemies that can hear you within 10 feet until your next turn. Works a number of times per long rest equal to your proficiency bonus. 
  • Kobold Legacy: Choose between an extra skill proficiency (Arcana, Investigation, Medicine, Sleight of Hand, or Survival), advantage on saving throws against being frightened, or a cantrip from the sorcerer spell list. 

Kobolds tend to stand about 3 feet tall and have long, snout-like faces somewhere between a dog and a monitor lizard with scaly skin and red eyes that glow in torchlight like an alligator.

They tend to live underground in vast warrens festooned with traps and are often found worshiping the dragons to which they appear to be distantly related. 

Mechanically, the kobold’s Draconic Cry ability is downright terrifying in a party where more than one character has extra attack (or can cast spells with attack rolls, preferably multiple rolls like Scorching Ray), or a Rogue, or… basically it’s just scary good and a spectacular way to start a fight. 

20. Lizardfolk 

Yurlok of Scorch Thrash
© Wizards of the Coast by Jesper Ejsing
  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet (walking and swimming)
  • Bite: Unarmed attack (1d6 + Strength slashing damage) 
  • Hold Breath: 15 minutes 
  • Hungry Jaws: As a bonus action, make a bite attack and gain temporary hp equal to the damage. You can do this a number of times per long rest equal to your proficiency bonus. 
  • Natural Armor: Unarmored AC equals 13 + Dexterity modifier. 
  • Nature’s Intuition: Proficiency with two skills (choose from Animal Handling, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Stealth, or Survival).

Ancient saurian people who — much like crocodiles — hit an evolutionary sweet spot several million years ago and decided enough was enough.

Many Lizardfolk cultures believe they were placed on the material plane to guard its natural wonders. Sadly, the emphasis on lizard brain amorality from Volo’s appears to be missing in the latest incarnation of this species. 

A mixture of natural armor and powerful bite attacks mean Lizardfolk make Dex-based fighters par excellence, not to mention excellent Druids and Rangers. 

21. Leonin

  • Ability Score Increase: Constitution +2, Strength +1
  • Creature Type: Humanoid
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 35 feet 
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Claws: 1d4 + Strength slashing damage 
  • Hunter’s Instincts: Proficiency in one: Athletics, Intimidation, Perception, or Survival.
  • Daunting Roar: Once per short or long rest, you roar, forcing creatures of your choice within 10 feet of you that can hear you to make a Wisdom saving throw or become frightened (Save DC = 8 + proficiency bonus + your Constitution modifier).

The Leonin are bipedal cat folk with features resembling lions. Mechanically, they are a Strength-based race that excels in close combat. This isolationist group of proud creatures make powerful Fighters and Barbarians. 

22. Minotaur 

  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Horns: Unarmed attack deals 1d6 + Strength modifier piercing damage. 
  • Goring Rush: If you take the dash action and move at least 20 feet, you can make an attack with your Horns as a bonus action. 
  • Hammering Horns: Push a target 10 feet away with your horns after you hit it with a melee attack. 
  • Labyrinthine Recall: Always know where north is and have advantage on Survival checks to navigate. 

Powerfully built, bull-headed humanoids, Minotaurs are blessed with an innately sublime sense of direction.

This is one of the reasons people believe the first Minotaurs were created by the Lady of Pain (ruler of Sigil, city of doors) to patrol her labyrinths. 

In battle, Minotaurs’ unarmed strikes are fearsome, making them powerful brawlers and unarmed fighters. Their navigation skills also make them well suited to being Rangers.  

23. Orc 

  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Adrenaline Rush: Dash as a bonus action (number of times equal to your proficiency bonus). 
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Powerful Build: Count as one size larger when determining carrying capacity as well as weight you can carry, drag or lift. 
  • Relentless Endurance: When you are reduced to 0 hp, once per long rest you can drop to 1 hp instead. 

A fierce warrior people created by the one-eyed god Gruumsh, Orcs are tenacious warriors with near-unmatched staying power in a fight.

This makes them ideally suited to the Barbarian or Fighter class, although they are surprisingly adaptable. 

24. Satyr

Boon Satyr
© Wizards of the Coast by Wesley Burt
  • Creature Type: Fey 
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 35 feet 
  • Ram: Unarmed attack deals 1d6 + Strength modifier bludgeoning damage. 
  • Magic Resistance: Advantage on saving throws against spells. 
  • Mirthful Leaps: Add 1d8 feet to vertical or long jumps (costs movement as normal). 
  • Reveler: Proficiency in Performance, Persuasion, and one musical instrument. 

Satyrs are medium humanoids who look like elves with goat legs, cloven hooves, and curling ram or goat horns protruding from their heads.

Satyrs’ exposure to the magic of the Feywild makes them resistant to unwanted arcane influence and fuels their innate ability to persuade and perform. 

Proficiency in two Charisma-based skills right off the bat pushes Satyr characters in the direction of Charisma-based classes like bards or sorcerers — although something like a Swashbuckler Rogue, an oath of the ancients Paladin, or an archfey Warlock would all be amazing choices. 

25. Sea Elf 

  • Creature Type: Humanoid (elf)
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet (walking and swimming)
  • Child of the Sea: You breathe air and water and have resistance to cold damage. 
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Fey Ancestry: Advantage on saving throws to avoid or end being charmed. 
  • Friend of the Sea: Communicate with any beast with a swimming speed. 
  • Keen Senses: Proficiency in Perception. 
  • Trance: Meditate instead of sleeping. Whenever you finish a trance, gain two new weapon or tool proficiencies you don’t have.  

Elves are shaped by their environment over the millennia. Some, entranced by the beauty of the open ocean, have evolved into sea elves — aquatic elves who live throughout the oceans and on the elemental plane of water. 

26. Shadar-Kai 

Author of Shadows
© Wizards of the Coast by Alex Brock
  • Creature Type: Humanoid (elf) 
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet 
  • Blessing of the Raven Queen: As a bonus action, magically teleport up to 30 feet away (number of times equal to your proficiency bonus per long rest). At 3rd level, gain resistance to all damage when you use this trait for a turn. 
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Fey Ancestry: Advantage on saving throws to avoid or end being charmed. 
  • Keen Senses: Proficiency in Perception. 
  • Necrotic Resistance: Resistance to necrotic damage. 
  • Trance: Meditate instead of sleeping. Whenever you finish a trance, gain two new weapon or tool proficiencies you don’t have.  

The Shadar-Kai are a mysterious subrace of elves sworn to serve the Raven Queen, goddess of death and ruler of the Shadowfell.

Like all elves who take on elements of their environment, the Shadar-Kai are forever changed by their dreary home. 

In battle, the Shadar-Kai are terrifying, able to teleport all over the battlefield and gain near-permanent damage resistance at higher levels. They make highly effective Fighters, Rogues, and Monks. 

27. Shifter 

Werewolf Pack Leader
© Wizards of the Coast by Miranda Meeks
  • Creature Type: Humanoid
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet
  • Bestial Instincts: Proficiency in one: Acrobatics, Athletics, Intimidation, Survival. 
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Shifting: Assume a bestial appearance as a bonus action that lasts for one minute or until you die (proficiency bonus number of times per long rest). Gain 2 x Proficiency bonus temporary hit points and an additional bonus based on your lycanthropic ancestry. These include the Beasthide (more temporary hp, +1 AC), Longtooth (unarmed strike deals 1d6 + Strength), Swiftstride (+10 feet walking speed, move as a reaction without provoking opportunity attacks), and Wildhunt (advantage on Wisdom checks and no creature can attack you with advantage while shifted). 

Descendants of lycanthropes (like werewolves, wererats, weretigers, etc.), shifters can’t fully change shape but instead partially take on the traits of their more bestial ancestor. 

A mixture of great nature skills and a lycanthropic version of the barbarian’s rage ability make for a really fantastic player race — although I wish that Beasthide and Wildhunt weren’t so much better than the other two options.

Shifters could make incredible Rangers or perhaps Druids that don’t shapeshift using wild shape. 

28. Tabaxi 

Mahadi, Emporium Master
© Wizards of the Coast by Ilse Gort
  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: 30 feet (walking and climbing)
  • Cat’s Claws: Unarmed strikes deal 1d6 + Strength slashing damage.  
  • Cat’s Talent: Proficiency in Perception and Stealth. 
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Feline Agility: Double your movement speed for one round. Can’t use again until you move 0 feet on one turn. 

Anthropomorphic cat people — endowed with all the grace, agility, and speed that entails — the Tabaxi are children of a divine being from the upper planes known as the Cat Lord.

Widespread and diverse, some Tabaxi display more catlike tendencies than others.

A Tabaxi’s speed and agility (not to mention unsurpassed climbing speed) make them fine candidates for Rogues, Rangers, and Monks.  

29. Tortle 

Tortle
© Wizards of the Coast
  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium or small 
  • Speed: 30 feet
  • Claws: Unarmed strikes deal 1d6 + Strength slashing damage. 
  • Hold Breath: 1 hour
  • Natural Armor: Your shell grants a base AC of 17, although you can’t wear armor, and your Dexterity doesn’t affect your AC. You can still use a shield. 
  • Nature’s Intuition: Proficiency with one: Animal Handling, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Stealth, or Survival.
  • Shell Defense: Retreat into your shell as an action for a +4 AC bonus and advantage on Strength and Constitution saves. Your speed drops to 0, you are prone, you have Disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws, you can’t take reactions, and the only action you can take is a bonus action to emerge from your shell. 

Nomadic turtle folk who carry their homes on their backs and live up and down the coasts of the material plane.

With a base AC of 17, tortles might be the best contender for an otherwise squishy wizard or sorcerer class in the game — although this reduction of dependency on Dexterity and Constitution can help any multi-ability-dependent class (like a bard) as well. 

30. Triton 

Wavecrash Triton
© Wizards of the Coast by Ryan Barger
  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium 
  • Speed: 30 feet (walking and swimming)
  • Amphibious: Breathe air and water
  • Control Air and Water: Cast Fog Cloud, Gust of Wind (at 3rd level), or Water Walk (at 5th) with this ability once per long rest or using a spell slot. 
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Emissary of the Sea: Communicate simple ideas with beasts, elementals, and monstrosities with a swimming speed. 
  • Guardian of the Depths: Resistance to cold damage. 

Natives of the elemental plane of water, tritons are protectors of the material plane’s oceans from the threat of elemental evil.

They build great cities on the ocean floor and patrol the depths using their webbed hands and feet to swim as fast as most creatures walk. 

Ideally suited to aquatic and coastal campaigns, Tritons have a great array of traits from darkvision to a common damage-type resistance and some useful innate spellcasting (assuming you’re near water). 

31. Yuan-Ti 

Yuan-Ti Fang-Blade
© Wizards of the Coast by Simon Dominic
  • Creature Type: Humanoid 
  • Size: Medium or small 
  • Speed: 30 feet
  • Darkvision: 60 feet 
  • Magic Resistance. Advantage on saving throws against spells. 
  • Poison Resilience: Advantage on saving throws against poison and resistance to poison damage. 
  • Serpentine Spellcasting: You know the poison spray cantrip and can cast animal friendship an unlimited number of times but only on snakes. You can also cast suggestion (at 3rd level) once per long rest or using a 2nd-level spell slot. 

The descendants of humans who turned themselves into snake people as part of foul, ancient rituals, the Yuan-Ti used to be an almost entirely monstrous people but have grown as a culture over the centuries and these days make for a really narratively interesting race to play. 

Yuan-Ti blend poison resistance with innate spellcasting and an (unsurprising) affinity for snakes which, depending on the campaign you’re in, could see you collect a seriously sizable snake army.

Their magic resistance is a universally powerful trait and helps the Yuan-Ti fit into just about any class or party role.