Here you will find a glossary of the different races in D&D 5e. Whether you’re just getting started and learning about the different playable D&D races or looking for a new character to play as, this is your one-stop-shop for knowledge on the races in D&D 5th Edition.
The Aarakocra, also known as birdfolk, are monstrous avian humanoids who reside high up in the mountains. Aarakocra are immigrants, refugees, scouts, and/or explorers, with their outposts functioning as footholds in a world both strange and alien. Many aarakocra originate from the Elemental Plane of Air.
The Aasimar is a human-based native outsider with amazing features. It is said that the creatures are descendants of angels and arose due to the holy union of species. Although Aasimar arise out of the sacred association, they do not always have good intentions. There is a huge difference even among the members of the same race.
Bugbears are essentially hairy goblinoids that are born for battle and mayhem. They survive by raiding and hunting, preferring to do so at night, and although they favor being on the offensive, they are stealthy creatures known to set ambushes when outmatched. Despite their stealthy nature, bugbears are larger than goblins and hobgoblins; they are considered a giant humanoid.
Dragonborn are humanoids that possess the heart and soul of a dragon. While the body lives in a mortal plane, dragonborn can speak the ancient language of the Dov, also known as Thuum, a voice regarded as magical due to the ability to create dragon shouts. Dragonborn can exhale a destructive force of energy (breath weapon), of which the size, shape, and damage type is determined by your Draconic Ancestry.
Dwarves are special characters serving the kingdoms rich in ancient grandeur.Dwarves can be found in a wide range of settings, including mountains, deep mines, blazing forges, and beyond. The hill dwarf is among the most common of dwarves that you are likely to encounter, while a gray dwarf is less likely to be encountered as they primarily reside in the Underdark. In face of threats, dwarves unite and become capable to deliver a killer punch to the opponents.
Elves are known to exude grace and beauty that is considered unparalleled among creatures of other species; in fact, humans regard elves as the epitome of physical perfection. Elves are also attracted to the human race despite the latter’s seemingly barbaric lifestyle.
Feral tieflings are unique among D&D races in that they are planetouched humanoids descended from the fiendish planes (think demons, Ygoliths, devils, evil deities, etc.) and whose bloodline was infused with the essence of Asmodeus, overlord of the Nine Hells. Despite this history, tieflings are not exclusively evil and often vary in their alignment just as other D&D races do – similar to humans.
The indomitable fey-oriented Firbolg are considered kin to the giants, though Firbolgs remain aloof of other sentient D&D races. It is said that Firbolg are one of the most intelligent creatures among giant kin and like to live in quiet, harmonious colonies in the woods. Generally, Firbolg are not reckless wanderers, instead preferring to live life in an orderly manner, discipline being the name of the game for these creatures. Other races, however, regard them as evil and villainous.
Genasi are planetouched humanoids who possess the power of the elements (air, earth, fire, water). Beings of each element have their own unique characteristics and varied abilities. Originally, they were not considered a unique race, but rather a separate classification of humans who descended from planar beings – typically genies.
While a goblin is individually weak due to its small stature, in large groups goblins can cause mayhem and torment other creatures. Both cunning and cruel, a party of goblins can fell even the toughest of goliaths. Perhaps due to their history of being dominated by other goblinoids, most notably hobgoblins, goblins are filled with a ravenous hunger and will lash out at any creature they believe can be bullied.
Like the aarakocra, kenku are another of the avian-humanoid D&D races. Somewhat similar to crows that stand up around 5 feet, kenku are intelligent and deceitful creatures. They are truly unique from other creatures in that they speak only by mimicking the sounds and voices they hear; however, they can do so with exceptional ability.
Despite their highly aggressive and industrious nature, Kobolds are actually quite small and weak. This leaves them in precarious positions when around creatures who are stronger and more powerful than they are; although, in these situations Kobolds will rely upon their intelligence to outmaneuver these stronger creatures. The ultimate goal for the Kobold species is to conquer as much land as possible and at any cost, leading them to deploy traps and overwhelm enemies with their sheer numbers.
With their scaly skin and their reptile-like body, Lizardfolk have more in the common with iguanas or dragons than they do with humanoid races. Lizardfolk possess an alien and almost inscrutable mindset; their desires and thoughts being driven more by basic fundamentals of life than the complex thoughts and desires of warm-blooded creatures. Lizardfolk mindset might seem unnecessarily cruel, but it helps them survive in a hostile environment.
As the name suggests, half-orcs are born out of matrimony of humans and orcs. Thus, they possess characteristics and traits of both races, most notably their agility and physical power. But this has not led them down but have come out strongly thus proving that they are worth for everything. Their story is quite an interesting one and you will surely love to know more about them.
The gnome, or Forgotten Folk as they are sometimes referred to, are small humanoids known for their eccentric sense of humor, inquisitiveness, and engineering prowess. Despite their intelligence and presence in nearly every human city and most caravan-stop villages where they were tolerated, gnomes have very few influences on the larger world.
On the highest mountain peak, above the slopes where the trees grow and the air is thin, dwells the reclusive Goliath. Some individuals claim to have befriended Goliaths, yet very few can claim to have personally seen them. Goliaths have no written laws or codes, following only unspoken rules, the chief of which is obedience to the chieftain and captain. Goliaths’ hearts, infused with the cold regard of their frigid realm, leaves each goliath with the personal responsibility to earn their place in the tribe, or die trying.
Half-Elves are usually defined as humanoids that are born through the union of a human and an elf. Half-elves often feel isolated, whether they are raised by human or elven parents. It takes 20 years for them to reach adulthood. If half-elves are raised by elves they matured quickly. Half-elves, who live among humans, watch friends and loved ones aging while they are barely touched by time. Those who live with the elves, grow restless as they reach adulthood in elven realms.
The priority for most halflings is the comforts of home. Although a halfling may be content to live out its days in remote agricultural communities, they can also be enticed by the wonders of new lands and peoples, going on to form nomadic bands that constantly travel. But even those wandering people love peace, food, neck, and home, although the house can be a wagon with a dirt road or a furnace swim sword.
The term hobgoblin arose from the various folktales featuring more menacing forms of goblinoids and was coined to describe a friendly, yet troublesome creature of the Seelie Court. Hobgoblins are believed to be smart, strong, and comparatively large creatures, although not as powerful as the bugbears. The famous character “Puck” from the Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the prime example of a hobgoblin.
One can easily run into a human throughout Toril and most other regions. Though they are famous for their ambition and diversity, humans are disagreeable and fierce, often leading other creatures to view them with contempt. Humans generally lack any specialization and can be thought of as a jack-of-all-trades. They are the achievers, innovators, and pioneers of the worlds; their capacity to expand and endure makes them a dominant species.
Once a threat to the civilized cultures of Toril, the orc has changed throughout the years. While most are motivated by their hatred of civilized creatures and the demands of its deities (chiefly, Gruumsh) to destroy said creatures, others became more civilized and aligned with humans – half-orcs are born when these alliances are sealed by marriage. In either case, orcs are fearless warriors known for achieving results at any cost necessary.
Native to the jungles of Maztica, tabaxi are feline humanoids driven by the curiosity to collect interesting artifacts, gather stories and tales, and lay eyes on all the world’s wonders. They are renowned for their proficiency in Perception and Stealth, making them excellent Fighters, Monks, Rangers, or Rogues. However, with their boost in dexterity, Tabaxi can also be suited to make good Barbarians and Paladins.
Yuan-ti purebloods are the most human-seeming of all Yuan-ti. They are snake-human hybrids, which were created in the earliest days of civilization. Their culture fell from an advanced and enlightened state into cruelty and fanaticism. Purebloods are described as human-like with minor reptilian features like a forked tongue, snake-like eyes, and patches of scales on their skin.
The triton is an outsider native to the seas and hails from the Elemental Plane of Water. They guard the depths of the ocean, building small settlements beside deep trenches and other dangerous spots far from the land-bound folk’s eye. They have very good relations with giant sea horses, sea lions, and hippocampi. Tritons entered the world centuries ago in response to the increasing threat of evil elements. They waged wars against their enemies on the Plane of Water, driving them in the dark depths where they ran into crushed pressures and darkness.
Compared to other D&D races, the warforged are unique because they were physically created as tools of war. Originally golems with the ability to learn and adapt on the battlefield, warforged became self-aware over time. Consequentially, this awareness led to questioning of their own existence and a desire to live beyond the pointless wars and conflicts.
Tortles live a very simple life as peaceful farmers on the Savage Coast of Mystara, a region which has expanded as the mini setting of Red Steel. By nature, tortles are inoffensive, but will fight to defend their homes and are naturally good as tanks. They have never managed to get any semi-official update to later editions like their fellow Red-Steel introduces the Aranea.