A Guide to DnD 5e Races

Published on June 10, 2020, Last modified on May 16th, 2022

Choosing your race is a huge decision when creating a character. You have to take into account what traits it has, how it will impact the way you roleplay your character, and whether it synergizes well with your build.

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What is a Race in DnD 5e?

There are many different types of creatures that call the wondrous, fantastical lands of D&D home. These creatures vary wildly from your plain old humans to axe swinging Orcs to experimental creatures that have been fused together by magic. Many of these creatures started off as a stat block in one of the many monster sourcebooks that have been released by Wizards of the Coast, in order to widen the player’s and DM’s ability to shape their worlds, they have been made into playable races.

What DnD 5e Races Can I Play?

According to the Player’s Handbook, the most common character races are dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans. There are more uncommon races such as dragonborn, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, and tieflings. In Volo’s Guide to Monsters, it is mentioned that the supplemental races provided in the sourcebook are rarer than any of the “standard” classes presented in the Player’s Handbook.

Below is a list of all of the playable races and their subraces in D&D 5e. If you want to learn more about a race or its subrace, click on the link in the “Race” column to visit our Race Guide page. Keep in mind that your DM has the final say when it comes to which playable races are included in their campaign.

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything Update

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything (TCoE) introduced a new option called “Customizing Your Origin”. This optional rule allows you to take the Ability Score Increases (ASI) that you got from your race and apply that to another Ability Score to better represent your unique character.

This would mean, if you had an elf that you wanted to be strong instead of dexterous, you could transfer the typical +2 DEX bonus to +2 STR. The only caveats are:

  • You can’t bring any ability score above 20
  • If you receive 2 ASIs as part of your race, you cannot increase the same ability score twice

Customizing Your Origin also outlines rules for switching out languages and proficiencies from your racial traits, but these have less of an impact on our race and class guides.

We have chosen to keep our race and class guides “as is” to represent the typical ASIs, proficiencies, and languages of races as they are displayed in their official sources. Due to the unlimited variability offered by the Customizing Your Origin option, it would be impossible to take all combinations of ASI increases into account.

A Quick Overview of D&D Races

Race Language Size Speed Ability Modifiers Source
Aarakocra Common, Aarakocra, Auran Medium 25, fly 50 ft. 2 DEX, 1 WIS eepc
Updated 30, fly 30 ft. 2 DEX, 1 WIS, 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI motm
Aasimar Common, Celestial Medium 30 vgtm
Fallen 2 CHA, 1 STR vgtm
Protector 2 CHA, 1 WIS vgtm
Scourge 2 CHA, 1 CON vgtm
Variant 2 CHA, 1 WIS vgtm
Bugbear Common, Goblin Medium 30 2 STR, 1 DEX vgtm
Updated Medium 30 ft. 2 STR, 1 DEX, 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI motm
Centaur Common, Sylvan Medium 40 2 STR, 1 WIS moot
Updated Medium 40 ft. 2 STR, 1 WIS, 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI motm
Changeling Common, +2 Medium 30 2 CHA, 1 ASI erlw
Updated 2 CHA, 1 ASI, 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI phb
Dragonborn Common, Draconic Medium 30 phb
Chromatic Common, +1 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI ftod
Draconblood 2 INT, 1 CHA egtw
Gem Common, +1 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI ftod
Metallic Common, +1 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI ftod
Ravenite 2 STR, 1 CON egtw
Standard 2 STR, 1 CHA phb
Dwarf Common, Dwarf Medium 25 2 CON phb
Gray 2 CON scag
Hill 2 CON, 1 WIS phb
Mark of Warding 2 CON erlw
Mountain 2 CON, 2 STR phb
Elf Common, Elvish Medium 30 2 DEX phb
Aereni High 2 DEX, 1 CON erlw
Aereni Wood 35 2 DEX, 1 WIS erlw
Drow 2 DEX, 1 CHA phb
Eladrin 2 DEX, 1 CHA mtof
Eladrin (Variant) 2 DEX, 1 INT phb
High 2 DEX, 1 INT phb
Mark of Shadow 2 DEX, 1 CHA erlw
Pallid 2 DEX, 1 WIS egtw
Sea Elf 2 DEX, 1 CON mtof
Shadar Kai 2 DEX, 1 CON mtof
Valenar High 2 DEX, 1 INT erlw
Valenar Wood 35 2 DEX, 1 WIS erlw
Wood 35 2 DEX, 1 WIS phb
Fairy Common, +1 Small 30, fly 30 ft. 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI wbtw
Firbolg Common, Elvish, Giant Medium 30 2 WIS, 1 STR vgtm
Updated 2 WIS, 1 STR, 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI phb
Genasi Common, Primordial Medium 30 2 CON eepc
Air 2 CON, 1 DEX eepc
Earth 2 CON, 1 STR eepc
Fire 2 CON, 1 INT eepc
Water 2 CON, 1 WIS eepc
Gith Common, Gith Medium 30 1 INT mtof
Githyanki 1 INT, 2 STR mtof
Githzerai 1 INT, 2 WIS mtof
Gnome Common, Gnomish Small 25 2 INT phb
Deep 2 INT, 1 DEX eepc
Forest 2 INT, 1 DEX phb
Mark of Scribing 2 INT, 1 CHA erlw
Rock 2 INT, 1 CON phb
Goblin Common, Goblin Small 30 2 DEX, 1 CON vgtm
Updated Small 30 ft. 2 DEX, 1 CON, 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI phb
Goliath Common, Giant Medium 30 2 STR, 1 CON eepc
Updated Medium 30 ft. 2 STR, 1 CON, 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI phb
Half-Elf Common, Elvish Medium 30 2 CHA, 1 ASI, 1 ASI phb
Aquatic 2 CHA, 1 ASI, 1 ASI scag
Drow 2 CHA, 1 ASI, 1 ASI scag
High 2 CHA, 1 ASI, 1 ASI scag
Mark of Detection 2 WIS, 1 ASI erlw
Mark of Storm 2 CHA, 1 DEX erlw
Wood 2 CHA, 1 ASI, 1 ASI scag
Half-Orc Common, Orc Medium 30 2 STR, 1 CON phb
Mark of Finding 2 WIS, 1 CON erlw
Halfling Common, Halfling Small 25 2 DEX phb
Ghostwise 2 DEX, 1 WIS scag
Lightfoot 2 DEX, 1 CHA phb
Lotusden 2 DEX, 1 WIS egtw
Mark of Healing 2 DEX, 1 WIS erlw
Mark of Hospitality 2 DEX, 1 CHA erlw
Stout 2 DEX, 1 CON phb
Harengon Common, +1 Medium 30 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI wbtw
Hobgoblin Common, Goblin Medium 30 2 CON, 1 INT vgtm
Updated Medium 30 ft. 2 CON, 1 INT, 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI phb
Human Common, 1 Additional Medium 30 phb
Mark of Finding 2 WIS, 1 CON erlw
Mark of Handling 2 WIS, 1 ASI erlw
Mark of Making 2 INT, 1 ASI erlw
Mark of Passage 2 DEX, 1 ASI erlw
Mark of Sentinel 2 CON, 1 WIS erlw
Standard 1 to All phb
Variant 2 ASI phb
Kalashtar Common, Quori, 1 Medium 30 2 WIS, 1 CHA erlw
Kenku Common, Auran Medium 30 2 DEX, 1 WIS vgtm
Kobold Common, Draconic Small 30 2 DEX vgtm
Leonin Common, Leonin Medium 35 2 CON, 1 STR moot
Lineage Common, +1 Medium 30 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI vrgtr
Dhampir 35 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI vrgtr
Hexblood 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI vrgtr
Reborn 2, 1 ASI / 1,1,1 ASI vrgtr
Lizardfolk Common, Draconic Medium 30 2 CON, 1 WIS vgtm
Loxodon Common, Loxodon Medium 30 2 CON, 1 WIS ggtr
Minotaur Common, Minotaur Medium 30 2 STR, 1 CON ggtr
Orc Common, Orc Medium 30 2 STR, 1 CON vgtm
Satyr Common, Sylvan Medium 35 2 CHA, 1 DEX moot
Shifter erlw
Beasthide Shifter 2 CON, 1 DEX erlw
Longtooth Shifter 2 STR, 1 DEX erlw
Swiftstride Shifter 2 DEX, 1 CHA erlw
Wildhunt Shifter 2 WIS, 1 DEX erlw
Simic Hybrid Common, Elvish/Vedalken Medium 30 2 CON, 1 ASI ggtr
Tabaxi Common, 1 Medium 30 2 DEX, 1 CHA vgtm
Tiefling Common, Infernal Medium 30 2 CHA phb
Bloodline of Asmodeus 2 CHA, 1 INT phb
Bloodline of Baalzebul 2 CHA, 1 INT mtof
Bloodline of Dispater 2 CHA, 1 DEX mtof
Bloodline of Fierna 2 CHA, 2 DEX, 1 INT mtof
Bloodline of Glasya 2 CHA, 1 DEX mtof
Bloodline of Levistus 2 CHA, 1 CON mtof
Bloodline of Mammon 2 CHA, 1 INT mtof
Bloodline of Mephistopheles 2 CHA, 1 INT mtof
Bloodline of Zariel 2 CHA, 1 STR mtof
Variant – Devil’s Tongue 2 CHA, 1 INT scag
Variant – Feral 2 CHA, 1 INT scag
Variant – Hellfire 2 CHA, 1 INT scag
Variant – Winged fly 30 ft. 2 CHA, 1 INT scag
Tortle Common, Aquan Medium 30 2 STR, 1 WIS ttp
Triton Common, Aquan Medium 30 1 STR, 1 CON, 1 CHA vgtm
Vedalken Common, Vedalken, 1 Medium 30 2 INT, 1 WIS ggtr
Warforged Common Medium 30 2 CON, 1 ASI erlw
Yuan-ti Pureblood Common, Abyssal, Draconic Medium 30 2 CHA, 1 INT vgtm

DnD 5e Races Ability Modifier Breakdown

We took a look at all of the D&D 5e Race’s Ability Modifiers and have come up with some interesting data that will help you when you are trying to pick a race that will mesh with your intended build. Keep in mind, this table excludes 11 Races that do not apply a +2 racial bonus to ability modifiers.

Looking at the tables above, we can see a number of interesting takeaways:

DEX is by far the most common +2 racial bonus

This is great news for Rogues, Rangers, and Monks, all of which draw their AC, Attack, Damage, Stealth, etc from their DEX modifier.

WIS and INT both have very few +2 racial bonus

An even more interesting conclusion is that only 2 of these races are from the PHB: the Rock and Forest Gnome. This can be quite limiting for the large majority of classes that use their WIS as their spellcasting modifier (Ranger, Druid, Cleric, Monk). That being said, both WIS and INT have the most common +1 racial bonus.

DEX + CON bonuses are more common than STR + CON bonuses

This certainly goes against the grain because STR based melee fighters are more likely to tank than DEX based fighters due to a higher AC.

Races Going Forward

As of Wild Beyond the Witchlight (September 21, 2021), races will go in the direction that Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything started. This direction allows free customization over the race’s ASIs and languages, while still providing certain racial features and proficiencies. The way that races will function in new books is as follows:

Ability Score Increases

No preset ability score increases. After selecting a race, players will choose whether they:

  • Increase one ability score by 2 and another score by 1
  • Or increase three different ability scores by 1

Age

No age range is provided. Instead, it is stated that races will age similar to humans and will live for about a century if they don’t meet a violent end. A note is provided saying “members of some races, such as dwarves and elves, can live for centuries.” This leaves the actual age range of races up to DMs interpretation.

Alignment

No alignment suggestions will be provided. Characters are to choose their own alignment.

Size

Some character races will be able to choose between the small and medium creature sizes. Also, no suggestions will be made surrounding a race’s typical weight and height.

Languages

Races no longer inherently come with language proficiencies. Instead, characters automatically learn common and are allowed to choose one other language to learn.

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house. He is the author of Escape from Mt. Balefor and The Heroes of Karatheon. Mike specializes in character creation guides for players, homebrewed mechanics and tips for DMs, and one-shots with unique settings and scenarios. Follow Mike on Twitter.

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