Last Updated on June 30, 2022
There are a lot of decisions that go into building a character and fully fleshing them out. From lofty choices surrounding backgrounds and backstory to the exciting process of choosing a 5e class, it can get a bit overwhelming.
In this article, we’re going to make one of those steps a whole lot easier.
Today, we’re discussing the stat bonuses you get from choosing one of the many 5e races as the base of your character.
This is a quick reference document, so be sure to bookmark it and use the find function (Ctrl + f on windows, Command + f on mac) to easily find the race or stat bonus you’re considering.
Hint: When using the find function, use the format as follows “+2 Intelligence” for searching ability scores.
What Is a Racial Bonus in DnD 5e?
Races give you a lot of mechanical benefits beyond the excitement of playing as a fantasy creature. One of the key benefits for a long time has been the Ability Score Increases you receive from a class.
Typically, you’ll receive a +2 to one ability score and a +1 to another, and often, this can make or break a build.
Racial stat bonuses are by no means the only benefit of choosing a 5e race.
When you choose your race you can expect all sorts of fun abilities including (but not limited to) innate spellcasting, proficiencies, resistances, and unique features you can’t get anywhere else.
Still, it’s the racial bonuses that have often defined the race you’ll choose for your class.
Getting to increase your best modifier by 1 (a +2 to the ability score translates to a +1 in the modifier) means becoming that much better at whatever your class does.
These bonuses are why most wizards are either humans (who receive a +1 in every ability) or gnomes (for a while, the only race to receive a +2 bonus to intelligence).
If you want to optimize your character, certain races are simply better for each class based solely on these bonuses.
Custom Ability Score Bonuses
In recent years, since the release of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, the way these racial stat bonuses work has started to change.
Instead of each race having a fixed increase, you choose to either put a +2 in one score and a +1 in another or put a +1 in three separate scores.
This really goes back to the variant human, which lets you increase two ability scores by 1 and choose a feat and skill proficiency as “racial features.”
The race was widely popular and was even banned at certain tables. It essentially lets you come up with a completely custom race mechanically, although physically you would still be a human.
With players being able to come up with unique mechanical bonuses through the human race, many other races started falling to the wayside.
Then, we got our first look at custom ability scores in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft with the three dark lineages (Hexblood, Dhampir, and Reborn).
These lineages allow you to put their unique abilities on any race and then choose custom ability scores.
Essentially, we saw an option for players to choose any race as a “skin” while receiving the ability score bonuses they wanted and a cool set of features on top of it.
With these lineages being well received, we moved onto the next natural step with Custom Lineages.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introduced us to a mechanic that allows us to choose any race and then give yourself a feat, a +2 to one ability, darkvision or a skill, and a language of your choice.
Again, this variant option was well received enough to change up how races were going to be made from then on out.
Since then, every new race (and the races that have been reprinted in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse) have included custom ability scores, allowing you to increase one ability score by 2 and another by 1 or three separate ability scores by 1 each.
Navigating the Future of Ability Scores
Whether you’re a player or a DM, it might be a bit confusing with all of the different ways to build a character currently on the table. I’m here to tell you that it’s all going to be okay.
Every version remains “legal,” but as always, it’s up to a DM to determine whether or not a certain race, or ruling, is allowed at your table.
Soon, we’re probably looking at a complete movement away from set ability-score increases from races.
Giving players freedom to create whatever character they want to play without having to stress themselves about optimization always seems to be the goal of 5e.
If you want to make life a lot easier, I’d personally suggest making the switch early. Tell your players to disregard older races’ ability-score increases, and let them choose their own.
The result will almost certainly be players who are enjoying their race for the unique abilities and culture they bring to the table rather than players who are reluctantly playing “the race that fits.”
Racial Stat Bonuses Quick Reference
Below are all the races currently published in 5e. Each race has a brief description, a link to their main article (if we haven’t uploaded one yet, we will soon), their stat bonuses, and a brief listing of their other abilities.
We’ve also sorted these into two sections: static bonuses and custom bonuses.
Races With Static Bonuses
A unique race of humanoids descended from dragons.
Other Abilities: Draconic Ancestry, Breath Weapon
- Standard Dragonborn: +2 Strength, +1 Charisma, Damage Resistance
- Draconblood: +2 Intelligence, +1 Charisma, Darkvision, Forceful Presence
- Ravenite: + 2 Strength, +1 Constitution, Darkvision, Vengeful Assault
- Chromatic Dragonborn: Custom Bonuses, Draconic Resistance, Chromatic Warding
- Gem Dragonborn: Custom Bonuses, Draconic Resistance, Psionic Mind, Gem Flight
- Metallic Dragonborn: Custom Bonuses, Draconic Resistance, Metallic Breath Weapon
The stout folk are hardy warriors and expert miners.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Constitution
Other Abilities: Darkvision, Dwarven Resilience, Dwarven Combat Training, Tool Proficiency, Stonecunning
- Hill: +1 Wisdom, Dwarven Toughness
- Mountain: +1 Strength, Dwarven Armor Training
- Mark of Warding: +1 Intelligence, Warder’s Intuition, Wards and Seals, Spells of the Mark
Magical folk originally hailing from the fey wild, elves live long lives and are often associated with grace and beauty.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Dexterity
Other Abilities: Dark Vision, Keen Senses, Fey Ancestry, Trance
- Dark: +1 Charisma, Superior Darkvision, Sunlight Sensitivity, Drow Magic, Drow Weapon Training
- High: +1 Intelligence, Cantrip, Elf Weapon Training, Extra Language
- Wood: +1 Wisdom, Elf Weapon Training, Fleet of Foot, Mask of the Wild
- Pallid: +1 Wisdom, Incisive Sense, Blessing of the Moonweaver
- Mark of Shadow: +1 Charisma, Cunning Intuition, Shape Shadows, Spells of the Mark
Gnomes are short folk with a love for knowledge and creativity.
Stat Bonuses: +1 Intelligence
Other Abilities: Darkvision, Gnome Cunning
- Forest: +1 Dexterity, Natural Illusionist, Speak with Small Beasts
- Rock: +1 Constitution, Artificer’s Lore, Tinkerer
- Mark of Scribing: +1 Charisma, Gifted Scribe, Scribe’s Insight, Spells of the Mark
The frog people are an exotic race with a complex social structure.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Dexterity, +1 Constitution
Other Abilities: Arboreal Alertness, Amphibious, Poison Immunity, Standing Leap, Water Dependency
The children of elves and humans may have trouble finding a place in this world, but they contain the best aspects of both their parents.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Charisma, +1 any two other abilities
Other Abilities: Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, Skill Versatility
The nature of a half-orc greatly depends on where their allegiances lie.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Strength, +1 Constitution
Other Abilities: Darkvision, Menacing, Relentless Endurance, Savage Attacks
The small folk would often much rather be left alone rather than swept into the noise of the world around them.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Dexterity
Other Abilities: Lucky, Brave, Halfling Nimbleness
- Lightfoot: +2 Charisma, Naturally Stealthy
- Stout: +1 Constitution, Stout Resilience
- Ghostwise: +1 Wisdom, Silent Speech
- Lotusden: +1 Wisdom, Children of the Woods, Timberwalk
- Mark of Hospitality: +1 Charisma, Ever Hospitable, Innkeeper’s Magic, Spells of the Mark
- Mark of Healing: +1 Wisdom, Medical Intuition, Healing Touch, Spells of the Mark
The most abundant race in most planes, humans can adapt to most environments and trades.
Stat Bonuses: +1 in each ability score (standard) or +1 in two ability scores (variant)
Other Abilities (Variant Only): One feat of your choice, one skill proficiency
A race created from the union of humans and a spirit race called the quori.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Wisdom, +1 Charisma
Other Abilities: Dual Mind, Mental Discipline, Mind Link, Severed from Dreams
A race of proud humanoid lions.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Constitution, +1 Strength
Other Abilities: Claws, Hunter’s Instinct, Daunting Roar
A group of resilient fish-folk that have endured slavery, war, and persecution at the hands of other aquatic creatures.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Strength, +1 Dexterity
Other Abilities: Natural Armor, Observant and Athletic, Leviathan Will, Limited Amphibiousness
This group of elephant-folk is wise and caring with an excellent knowledge of history.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Constitution, +1 Wisdom
Other Abilities: Powerful Build, Natural Armour, Trunk, Keen Smell
Products of magical experiments on humanoids, the simic hybrids have a variety of animalistic traits at their disposal.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Constitution, +1 in another ability of your choice
Other Abilities: Darkvision, Animal Enhancements
The descendants of humanoid lines with demonic intermixing, tieflings inherit more than a few fiendish traits of their ancestors.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Charisma
Other Abilities: Darkvision, Hellish Resistance, Infernal Legacy (Bloodline Legacy), Variant Options
- Asmodeus: +1 Intelligence
- Baalzebul: +1 Intelligence
- Dispater: +1 Dexterity
- Fierna: +1 Wisdom
- Glasya: +1 Dexterity
- Levistus: +1 Constitution
- Mammon: +1 Intelligence
- Mephistopheles: +1 Intelligence
- Zariel: +1 Strength
These tall, blue, partially amphibious folk are natives to the plane of Ravnica.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Intelligence, +1 Wisdom
Other Abilities: Vedalken Dispassion, Tireless Precision, Partially Amphibious
Verdan are descendants of goblinkind transformed by a chaotic witch.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Charisma, +1 Constitution
Other Abilities: Black Blood Healing, Limited Telepathy, Persuasive, Telepathic Insight
Crafted for an ancient war or to serve some specific purpose, warforged are constructs brought to life and given consciousness.
Stat Bonuses: +2 Constitution, +1 to one other ability score
Other Abilities: Constructed Resilience, Sentry’s Rest, Integrated Protection, Specialized Design
Races With Custom Bonuses
Bird folk originating from the plane of air.
Abilities: Flight, Talons, Wind Caller
Descendants of humanoids blessed by a celestial being.
Abilities: Celestial Resistance, Darkvision, Healing Hands, Light Bearer, Celestial Revelation
Strongly built cousins of goblinkind.
Abilities: Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, Long-limbed, Powerful Build, Sneaky, Surprise Attack
Half horse, half human, all speed.
Abilities: Fey, Charge, Equine Build, Hooves, Natural Affinity
A race of humanoids that can change their appearance with ease.
Abilities: Fey, Changeling Instincts, Shapechanger
The svirfneblin are gnomes native to the Underdark who evolved differently than their cousins.
Abilities: Gnome, Darkvision, Gift of the Svirfneblin, Gnomish Magic Resistance, Svirfneblin Camouflage
The duergar are dwarves native to the Underdark who evolved differently than their cousins.
Abilities: Dwarf, Darkvision, Duergar Magic, Dwarven Resilience, Psionic Fortitude
Ancestors of the elves of mortal worlds, eladrin never strayed from the magic of the Feywild.
Abilities: Elf, Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, Fey Step, Keen Senses, Transe
Small, sprightly beings with insect-like wings infused with the magic of the Feywild.
Abilities: Fey, Fairy Magic, Flight
A giant-like race with deep connections to the forest.
Abilities: Firbolg Magic, Hidden Step, Powerful Build, Speech of Beast and Leaf
Descendants of djinn influence on humankind, genasi have traits of their respective ancestors.
- Air: Unending Breath, Lightning Resistance, Mingle with the Wind
- Earth: Earth Walk, Merge with Stone
- Fire: Fire Resistance, Reach into the Blaze
- Water: Acid Resistance, Amphibious, Call to the Wave
A race of gith that focused on physical prowess.
Abilities: Astral Knowledge, Githyanki Psionics, Psychic Resilience
A race of gith that focused on psionic prowess
Abilities: Githzerai Psionics, Mental Discipline, Psychic Resilience
Many goblins end up as the minions of evil creatures, but many others pursue their own destiny.
Abilities: Goblinoid, Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, Fury of the Small, Nimble Escape
Natives of the cold mountains, goliaths are large, hardy, and nothing to mess with.
Abilities: Little Giant, Mountain Born, Stone’s Endurance
Rabbit folk native to the feywild.
Abilities: Hare-trigger, Leporine Senses, Lucky Footwork, Rabbit Hop
Large goblinoids with ancestral history in the feywild. War is a vital part of this race’s nature.
Abilities: Goblinoid, Darvision, Fey Ancestry, Fey Gift, Fortune of the Many
These raven folk make up for their lack of speech with impressive mimicry.
Abilities: Expert Duplication, Kenku Recall, Mimicry
These small draconic humanoids carry the magic and ferocity of dragons in a little package.
Abilities: Darkvision, Draconic Cry, Kobold Legacy
These lizard-like humanoids have a mystical connection to the natural world around them.
Abilities: Bite, Hold Breath, Hungry Jaws, Natural Armor, Nature’s Intuition
These half-bull half-human hybrids are a noble people who have been forced into labor by evil beings across the multiverse.
Abilities: Horns, Goring Rush, Hammering Horns, Labyrinthine Recall
Orcs are motivated by their hatred for civilized races, but some leave their tribes to care for others.
Abilities: Adrenaline Rush, Darkvision, Powerful Build, Relentless Endurance
Satyrs are chaotic creatures that enjoy revelry and fun.
Abilities: Fey, Ram, Magic Resistance, Mirthful Leaps, Reveler
Elves that evolved to live in the seas across the multiverse.
Abilities: Elf, Child of the Sea, Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, Friend of the Sea, Keen Senses, Trance
Elves transformed by the dark energy of the Shadowfell.
Abilities: Elf, Blessing of the Raven Queen, Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, Keen Senses, Necrotic Resistance, Trance
Shifters have a natural connection to beasts, while they can’t fully change their shapes, they can adapt their forms as needed.
Abilities: Bestial Instincts, Darvision, Shifting
These vicious cat people are home to jungles across the multiverse.
Abilities: Cat’s Claws, Cat’s Talents, Darkvision, Feline Agility
The wise turtle folk are a nomadic people with a passion for learning.
Abilities: Claws, Hold Breath, Natural Armor, Nature’s Intuition, Shell Defense
Natives of the plane of water, these elf-like beings protect the seas from the horrors of the depths.
Abilities: Amphibious, Control Air and Water, Darkvision, Emissary of the Seas, Guardians of the Depths
These snake folk were created by dark rituals.
Abilities: Darkvision, Magic Resistance, Poison Resilience, Serpentine Spellcasting
These owl-folk are natives to the plane of Strixhaven.
Abilities: Darkvision, Flight, Silent Feathers
I hope you’ve found what you needed, now keep going and create the perfect character for you. As always, happy adventuring.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.