A Guide to DnD 5e Races

Published on June 10, 2020, Last modified on September 28th, 2021

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.

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
Aarakocra Common, Aarakocra, Auran Medium 25 2 DEX, 1 WIS
Aasimar Common, Celestial Medium 30
Fallen       2 CHA, 1 STR
Protector       2 CHA, 1 WIS
Scourge       2 CHA, 1 CON
Variant       2 CHA, 1 WIS
Bugbear Common, Goblin Medium 30 2 STR, 1 DEX
Centaur Common, Sylvan Medium 40 2 STR, 1 WIS
Changeling Common, 2 Medium 30 2 CHA, 1 ASI
Dragonborn Common, Draconic Medium 30 2 STR, 1 CHA
Draconblood       2 INT, 1 CHA
Ravenite       2 STR, 1 CON
Dwarf Common, Dwarf Medium 25
Gray (Duergar) Undercommon     2 CON, 1 STR
Hill       2 CON, 1 WIS
Mark of Warding       2 CON, 1 DEX
Mountain       2 CON, 2 STR
Elf Common, Elvish Medium 30
Aereni High       2 DEX, 1 CON
Aereni Wood       2 DEX, 1 WIS
Drow       2 DEX, 1 CHA
Eladrin       2 DEX, 1 CHA
Eladrin (Variant)       2 DEX, 1 INT
High       2 DEX, 1 INT
Mark of Shadow       2 DEX, 1 CHA
Sea Elf       2 DEX, 1 CON
Shadar Kai       2 DEX, 1 CON
Valenar High       2 DEX, 1 INT
Valenar Wood       2 DEX, 1 WIS
Wood       2 DEX, 1 WIS
Firbolg Common, Elvish, Giant Medium 30 2 WIS, 1 STR
Genasi Common, Primordial Medium 30
Air       2 CON, 1 DEX
Earth       2 CON, 1 STR
Fire       2 CON, 1 INT
Water       2 CON, 1 WIS
Gith Common, Gith Medium 30
Githyanki       2 STR, 1 INT
Githzerai       2 WIS, 1 INT
Gnome Common, Gnomish Small 25
Forest       2 INT, 1 DEX
Mark of Scribing       2 INT, 1 CHA
Rock       2 INT, 1 CON
Deep       2 INT, 1 DEX
Goblin Common, Goblin Small 30 2 DEX, 1 CON
Goliath Common, Giant Medium 30 2 STR, 1 CON
Halfling Common, Halfling Small 25
Ghostwise       2 DEX, 1 WIS
Lightfoot       2 DEX, 1 CHA
Lotusden       2 DEX, 1 WIS
Mark of Healing       2 DEX, 1 WIS
Mark of Hospitality       2 DEX, 1 CHA
Stout       2 DEX, 1 CON
Half-Elf Common, Elvish Medium 30 2 CHA, 1 ASI
Half-Aquatic       2 CHA, 1 ASI
Half-Drow       2 CHA, 1 ASI
Half-High       2 CHA, 1 ASI
Mark of Detection       2 WIS, 1 ASI
Mark of Storm       2 CHA, 1 DEX
Half-Wood       2 CHA, 1 ASI
Half-Orc Common, Orc Medium 30 2 STR, 1 CON
Mark of Finding       2 WIS, 1 CON
Hobgoblin Common, Goblin Medium 30 2 CON, 1 INT
Human Common, 1 Additional Medium 30 1 to All
Mark of Finding       2 WIS, 1 CON
Mark of Handling       2 WIS, 1 ASI
Mark of Making       2 INT, 1 ASI
Mark of Passage       2 DEX, 1 ASI
Mark of Sentinel       2 CON, 1 WIS
Variant       2 ASI
Kalashtar Common, Quori, 1 Medium 30 2 WIS, 1 CHA
Kenku Common, Auran Medium 30 2 DEX, 1 WIS
Kobold Common, Draconic Small 30 2 DEX
Lizardfolk Common, Draconic Medium 30 2 CON, 1 WIS
Loxodon Common, Loxodon Medium 30 2 CON, 1 WIS
Minotaur Common, Minotaur Medium 30 2 STR, 1 CON
Orc Common, Orc Medium 30 2 STR, 1 CON
Shifter Common Medium 30
Beasthide       2 CON, 1 DEX
Longtooth       2 STR, 1 DEX
Swiftstride       2 DEX, 1 CHA
Wildhunt       2 WIS, 1 DEX
Simic Hybrid Common, Elvish/Vedalken Medium 30 2 CON, 1 ASI
Tabaxi Common, 1 Medium 30 2 DEX, 1 CHA
Tiefling Common, Infernal Medium 30 2 CHA, 1 INT
Asmodeus       2 CHA, 1 INT
Baalzebul       2 CHA, 1 INT
Dispater       2 CHA, 1 DEX
Feral       2 DEX, 1 INT
Fierna       2 CHA, 1 WIS
Glasya       2 CHA, 1 DEX
Levistus       2 CHA, 1 CON
Mammon       2 CHA, 1 INT
Mephistopheles       2 CHA, 1 INT
Variant       2 CHA, 1 INT
Zariel       2 CHA, 1 STR
Tortle Common, Aquan Medium 30 2 STR, 1 WIS
Triton Common, Aquan Medium 30 1 STR, 1 CON, 1 CHA
Vedalken Common, Vedalken, 1 Medium 30 2 INT, 1WIS
Warforged Common Medium 30 2 CON, 1 ASI
Yuan-Ti Pureblood Common, Abyssal, Draconic Medium 30 2 CHA, 1 INT

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.

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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