DD playable races 5e
by Samuel James in
DnD Races & Species

The Diverse Playable Races of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition: A Comprehensive Guide

In the fantastical world of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), your character is the heart of the story. Whether you’re a cunning rogue, a stalwart paladin, or a wise wizard, your character’s race plays a crucial role in shaping their abilities, backstory, and role within the game. In D&D 5th Edition (5E), there’s a myriad of races to choose from, each offering unique traits and lore. This guide will delve into the diverse playable races of D&D 5E, providing a comprehensive overview for both new and experienced players.

Quick Reference Guide to D&D 5E Playable Races

RaceTypeKey Traits
HumanCommonVersatile, adaptable
Elf (High Elf, Wood Elf, Dark Elf)CommonGraceful, long-lived
Dwarf (Hill Dwarf, Mountain Dwarf)CommonStout, hardy
Halfling (Lightfoot, Stout)CommonSmall, nimble
DragonbornCommonDraconic heritage, breath weapon
Gnome (Forest Gnome, Rock Gnome)CommonSmall, inventive
Half-ElfCommonMixed heritage, versatile
Half-OrcCommonStrong, intimidating
TieflingCommonInfernal heritage, magic affinity
AarakocraUncommonBird-like, flight
Genasi (Air, Earth, Fire, Water)UncommonElemental heritage
GoliathUncommonGiant blood, strong
Aasimar (Protector, Scourge, Fallen)UncommonCelestial heritage, radiant abilities
BugbearUncommonLarge, stealthy
FirbolgUncommonGiant-kin, nature magic
GoblinUncommonSmall, nimble
HobgoblinUncommonDisciplined, martial
KenkuUncommonBird-like, mimicry
KoboldUncommonSmall, crafty
LizardfolkUncommonReptilian, survivalist
OrcUncommonStrong, aggressive
TabaxiUncommonCat-like, agile
TritonUncommonAquatic, water magic
Yuan-ti PurebloodUncommonSerpent-like, magic resistance
TortleUncommonTurtle-like, natural armor
ChangelingExoticShapechanger, deceptive
KalashtarExoticPsychic, spiritual
Shifter (Beasthide, Longtooth, Swiftstride, Wildhunt)ExoticLycanthropic heritage, shifting
WarforgedExoticConstruct, durable
CentaurExoticHalf-human, half-horse
LoxodonExoticElephant-like, wise
MinotaurExoticBull-like, powerful
Simic HybridExoticBioengineered, adaptable
VedalkenExoticIntellectual, calm
VerdanExoticGoblinoid, empathetic
LeoninExoticLion-like, proud
SatyrExoticFey, musical

This guide should provide a comprehensive overview of the playable races in D&D 5E. Whether you’re a new player creating your first character or an experienced player looking to try something new, there’s a race that’s perfect for your next adventure

The Common Races


Humans are the most adaptable and ambitious people among the common races. They have widely varying tastes, morals, and customs in the many different lands where they have settled. Their versatility and ambitious drive make them capable of achieving greatness in various fields.


Elves are a magical people of otherworldly grace, living in harmony with the natural world. They are more often amused than excited, and more likely to be curious than greedy. They tend to remain aloof and unfazed by petty happenstance. There are three main subraces of elves:

High Elves

High Elves, also known as Eladrin or Sun Elves, are known for their intelligence and graceful agility. They live in places of ethereal beauty, in the midst of ancient forests or in silvery spires glittering with faerie light, where soft music drifts through the air and gentle fragrances waft on the breeze.

Wood Elves

Wood Elves, also known as Sylvan Elves, are a secretive, reclusive, and deeply territorial people who have chosen to isolate themselves from the other races to a large extent. They have a deep love for nature and the bounty it provides, which is reflected in their society and architecture.

Dark Elves (Drow)

The Drow, or Dark Elves, are a generally evil, dark-skinned subrace of elves. They live deep underground in the Underdark, a vast network of dark, treacherous caves and tunnels. They are known for their cruelty and powerful magic.


Dwarves are a stoic but stern race, ensconced in cities carved from the hearts of mountains and fiercely determined to repel the depredations of savage races like orcs and goblins. They are known for their skill in warfare, their ability to withstand physical and magical punishment, their hard work, and their capacity for drinking ale.

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Hill Dwarves

Hill Dwarves are known for their toughness and ability to withstand injuries. They are also known for their deep connection to the earth, and they are more likely to be found in the countryside or in small, rural communities than their mountain-dwelling kin.

Mountain Dwarves

Mountain Dwarves are a bit hardier than Hill Dwarves, and they are known for their superior craftsmanship and their ability to live in high-altitude, rocky terrain. They are also known for their strong martial tradition, making them excellent warriors.


Halflings are a small race known for their resourcefulness, quick wits, and steady nerves. They are a nomadic folk who roam waterways and marshlands. No matter where they settle, they make it a point to get along with the locals, quickly earning a reputation as a hard-working and friendly folk.

Lightfoot Halflings

Lightfoot Halflings are known for their ability to hide and blend into the background, making them excellent rogues. They are also more prone to wanderlust than other Halflings, leading many of them to lead a nomadic lifestyle#### Stout Halflings

Stout Halflings, on the other hand, are hardier and more grounded. They are often found leading comfortable lives in the country, living in burrow-like homes. Stout Halflings are known for their practical skills and their remarkable resilience.


Dragonborn are a race of draconic creatures known for their honor and their fierce warriors. They wear their emotions on their sleeves, and they are more likely to take action than to ponder or deliberate. Each Dragonborn carries the legacy of a particular dragon kind, such as the fiery fury of a Red Dragon or the lightning power of a Blue Dragon.


Gnomes are known for their inquisitive nature and their love for all things magical. They are small creatures, which allows them to avoid detection by other races. They are also known for their sense of humor, their enthusiasm, and their knack for invention.

Forest Gnomes

Forest Gnomes are known for their connection to nature and their ability to converse with small animals. They are generally secretive and prefer to stay out of sight, living in hidden woodland communities.

Rock Gnomes

Rock Gnomes, on the other hand, are known for their ingenuity and their skill with tools and technology. They are often found in bustling cities, working as tinkerers, inventors, or engineers.


Half-Elves are a mix of human and elf ancestry. They often feel like outsiders in both societies, but this outsider’s perspective gives them a unique viewpoint and allows them to see and understand multiple points of view. They are versatile and diverse, much like their human heritage, but also have a touch of the fey magic from their elven lineage.


Half-Orcs are the offspring of humans and orcs. They are often perceived as violent and unintelligent, but this stereotype is unfair and unfounded. Many Half-Orcs are just as capable of kindness and intellect as any other race, and they have a strength and physicality that is unmatched.


Tieflings are the descendants of humans who made pacts with devils. They are often mistrusted and feared due to their infernal heritage, but they are not inherently evil. They have a natural affinity for magic and a natural resilience to it.

The Uncommon Races


Aarakocra are bird-like creatures who live in high, mountainous regions. They are known for their ability to fly, which sets them apart from most other races. Aarakocra are generally good-natured, but they can be fierce when defending their homes and flocks.


Genasi carry the power of the elemental planes of air, earth, fire, and water in their blood. A Genasi’s elemental connection infuses them with abilities and traits associated with their element.

Air Genasi

Air Genasi are descended from the djinn. As changeable as the weather, their moods shift from calm to wild and violent with little warning, but these storms rarely last long.

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Earth Genasi

Earth Genasi have the power of earth elementals. They are solid and enduring like the mountains they love, weathering the passage of centuries with stoic patience and little change.

Fire Genasi

Fire Genasi have the power of fire elementals. They are hot-blooded and quick to anger, proud, and unafraid to take action.

Water Genasi

Water Genasi are descended from the marid. They are patient and slow to change, preferring to wear away opposition slowly, but their wrath is terrible to behold.


Goliaths are giant mountain dwellers who are known for their physical prowess. They are competitive and believe in fair play, and they have a natural athletic ability that surpasses that of most other races.


Aasimars are humans with a significant amount of celestial or other good outsider blood in their ancestry. They are a people of otherworldly visages, with luminous features that reveal their celestial heritage.

Protector Aasimar

Protector Aasimars are charged by the powers of good to guard the weak, to strike at evil wherever it arises, and to stand vigilant against the darkness.

Scourge Aasimar

Scourge Aasimars are imbued with a divine energy that blazes intensely within them. It feeds a powerful desire to destroy evil, a desire that is, at its best, unflinching and, at its worst, all-consuming.

Fallen Aasimar

Fallen Aasimars are born from a celestial lineage, but they have turned to evil. They are a testament to the fact that even those with the most noble of souls can fall from grace.


Bugbears are a larger, stronger goblinoid race. They are known for their physical power and their ability to instill fear in their enemies. Despite their size and strength, they are also surprisingly stealthy.


Firbolgs are a fey race of humanoids that are closely tied to nature. They live in small, isolated communities, preferring to avoid contact with other races. They are peaceful and shy, and they have the ability to communicate with animals and plants.


Goblins are small, green creatures that are known for their craftiness and their love of mischief. They are often underestimated due to their size, but they are cunning and resourceful, and they have a knack for survival.


Hobgoblins are a larger, more militaristic species of goblinoid. They are known for their discipline and their martial prowess, and they have a strong sense of order and hierarchy.


Kenkus are a race of flightless bird-like humanoids. They are known for their ability to perfectly mimic any sound they hear. They are often found in urban areas, working as spies, thieves, or forgers.


Koboldsare small, reptilian creatures known for their industrious nature and their unwavering loyalty to their tribe. They are skilled trap makers and miners, and they are fiercely protective of their homes and their kin.


Lizardfolk are a race of reptilian humanoids who live in swamps, marshes, and other wetlands. They are known for their survival skills, their natural armor, and their ability to hold their breath for long periods of time.


Orcs are a race of fierce and hardy warriors. They are known for their strength, their endurance, and their intimidating presence on the battlefield. Despite their reputation as savage and brutal, they have a rich culture and a strong sense of honor.


Tabaxi are a race of feline humanoids, known for their curiosity and their love of stories. They are agile and stealthy, with a natural agility and grace that makes them excellent hunters and scouts.


Tritons are a race of aquatic humanoids who live in the ocean depths. They are known for their ability to breathe underwater, their resistance to cold, and their command over sea creatures.

Yuan-ti Pureblood

Yuan-ti Purebloods are a race of serpentine humanoids who are known for their manipulation and their magic resistance. They are the most human-seeming of the yuan-ti, and they use their ability to pass as human to infiltrate societies and further their evil schemes.

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Tortles are a race of turtle-like humanoids known for their natural armor and their longevity. They are peaceful and contemplative, and they have a strong connection to the natural world.

The Exotic Races


Changelings are a race of shape-shifters, known for their ability to change their appearance at will. This ability makes them excellent spies and infiltrators. They are often mistrusted due to their shape-shifting nature, but they are not inherently deceitful or evil.


Kalashtar are a race of psionic humanoids from the plane of dreams. They are known for their wisdom and their mental abilities. Kalashtar are often seen as strange and otherworldly, even by the standards of other races.


Shifters, also known as the weretouched, are a race of humanoids with a lycanthropic heritage. They are known for their shifting ability, which allows them to tap into their animalistic nature to enhance their physical abilities.


Beasthide Shifters are known for their toughness and resilience. When they shift, their muscles become more powerful, and their skin thickens to provide extra protection.


Longtooth Shifters are known for their fierceness and their predatory instincts. When they shift, their canines elongate and they become more aggressive and savage.


Swiftstride Shifters are known for their speed and agility. When they shift, they become quicker and more graceful, able to move with a predator’s natural ease.


Wildhunt Shifters are known for their tracking abilities. When they shift, their senses sharpen, allowing them to track their prey with unerring accuracy.


Warforged are a race of living constructs, created for war but striving for purpose in a peaceful world. They are known for their durability and their ability to function without the need for food, water, or sleep.


Centaurs are a race of half-human, half-horse creatures known for their speed and their connection to nature. They are often found in wild, untamed places, living as nomads and hunters.


Loxodons are a race of elephantine humanoids known for their wisdom and their strength. They are often seen as calm and thoughtful, with a deep and abiding respect for life and community.


Minotaurs are a race of bull-like humanoids known for their strength and their ferocity. They are often seen as savage and uncontrollable, but there is a noble and honorable heart beating within the chest of a Minotaur.

Simic Hybrid

Simic Hybrids are a race of bioengineered humanoids, created by the Simic Combine to survive in a variety of environments. They are known for their adaptability and their unique, hybrid abilities.


Vedalken are a race of intellectual humanoids known for their cool demeanor and their analytical minds. They are often seen as detached and aloof, preferring to approach problems with logic and reason rather than emotion.


Verdan are a race of goblinoids that have been altered by the chaos of Limbo. They are known for their empathy and their adaptability, able to change their size and coloration based on their experiences.


Leonin are a race of lion-like humanoids known for their pride and their martial prowess. They are fierce warriors, but they also have a strong sense of community and a deep respect for tradition.


Satyrs are a race of fey creatures known for their love of music, revelry, and physical delights. They are often seen as capricious and hedonistic, but they also have a deep connection to nature and a love of freedom.

The exotic races of D&D 5E offer arange of unique abilities and traits that can add depth and complexity to your character. Each race provides a unique perspective and a different set of skills, allowing you to create a character that truly stands out.

Choosing the Right Race for Your Character

Choosing the right race for your character is a crucial step in character creation. The race you choose will determine your character’s physical traits, abilities, and sometimes even their alignment or moral compass. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a race:

  1. Abilities and Traits: Each race has unique abilities and traits that can complement your character’s class and role in the party. For example, a Goliath’s natural athleticism and strength make them excellent fighters, while a Tiefling’s natural affinity for magic can be a boon for spellcasting classes.
  2. Roleplay Opportunities: The lore and culture of each race can provide interesting roleplay opportunities. For example, playing a Drow can be challenging due to their reputation and the prejudice they face, but it can also lead to interesting character development and story arcs.
  3. Aesthetic Preferences: Sometimes, the look and feel of a race can be a deciding factor. If you’ve always wanted to play a noble and majestic elf, or a mysterious and cunning tiefling, then go for it!

Remember, the most important thing is to create a character that you will enjoy playing. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different races and see what fits your playstyle and your character concept the best.


The world of D&D 5E is rich and diverse, filled with a myriad of races, each with their own unique traits and lore. From the common races like Humans and Elves, to the uncommon races like Goliaths and Genasi, to the exotic races like Warforged and Vedalken, there’s a race for every kind of character. So go forth, adventurer, and may your journey be filled with wonder and excitement!

Samuel James is a passionate writer with a love for MMO and ARPG games. When he's not busy exploring virtual worlds, he enjoys taking his dog for long walks and writing detailed gaming guides for XPGoblin. He also loves watching sci-fi films, with a particular fondness for the works of Stanley Kubrick and Ridley Scott.
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