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Dungeons and Dragons 5e Races

Dungeons and Dragons 5e Races

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What are the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition races?


It’s a common question. Here’s our outline of the standard races from the Dungeons and Dragons players handbook. We'll be adding an outline of other races in the coming weeks.

Image used with permission by Heonhwa Choe

The Standard Races Included in the Player's Handbook are: 






Half Orc

Dragon Born


One of the first decisions you will need to make as a Dungeons & Dragons player is what race to play. The Player’s Handbook has some information about each race, but it might not be enough to help you decide which race you will enjoy playing the most. This article is a guide to Dungeons & dragons races: what they are, what stat advantages they have, and what classes are best to play with them.

dnd5e races


Humans have the shortest lives of any D & D race. For this reason, they tend to be more ambitious than other races. They are driven by conquest, trade, and innovation. Humans have strong social institutions that preserve their culture over generations.

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Humans begin the game with +1 to all attributes. They have a base walking speed of 30 feet. In addition to Common, humans begin the game knowing one extra language.

What are the best 5e classes for humans?

Humans are jacks of all trades. They can perform well at any character class, although fighter is the most popular class for humans in the D & D community.


Elves are beautiful creatures that live in forest villages. They have life spans of up to 700 years. They are slightly shorter than humans, with some of them being below 5 ft. in height. Elves often go adventuring out of a desire to see other places. Because of their long lives, they have plenty of time to travel.


Elves begin the game with +2 to dex. They have a walking speed of 30 ft. The Perception skill is automatically known by elves. They have bonuses to resist charm spells and cannot be put to sleep by magic. Elves can also see clearly in dim light.


Elves can choose from the following subraces:

  • High Elf - +1 to int, proficiency with swords and bows, knows one extra cantrip, knows one extra language
  • Wood Elf - +1 to wis, proficiency with swords and bows, +5 ft. walking speed, “Mark of the Wild” allows you to hide more easily
  • Drow (dark elf) - +1 to charisma, extended darkvision, knows Dancing Lights at level 1, Faerie Fire at level 3, and Darkness at level 5, proficiency with rapiers, shortswords, and crossbows

What are the best 5e classes for elves?

Human Death Domain Cleric in 5e - Image used with permission (C) Heonhwa Choe

The most popular classes for elves are ranger, wizard, and rogue. Monk and druid are slightly less common, but also fairly popular.


Dwarves are short, stout creatures that are usually less than five ft. tall. Their lifespans are an average of 350 years. They love forging weapons and armor, mining precious metals, and fashioning jewelry. Most dwarves harbor a passionate hatred for orcs and goblins. They value family ties strongly. Dwarves often adventure out of a desire for gold or because they are looking for ancient armor or weapons.


Dwarves start the game with +2 to con. They have a base walking speed of 25 ft. Like elves, dwarves can see very well in dim light. They have bonuses to saving throws against poison and poison damage, have proficiencies with axes and hammers, and are skilled with either smith’s tools, mason tools, or brewer’s supplies.


Dwarves can choose from one of the following subraces:

  • Hill Dwarf - +1 to wis, + 1 to maximum hp, an additional +1 to maximum hp each time the character levels
  • Mountain Dwarf - +2 str, proficiency with light and medium armor

What are the best 5e classes for dwarves?

The most popular classes for a dwarf are cleric, fighter, and barbarian. Paladins are also somewhat common.


Halflings are very short. Their average height is around 3 ft. Their average lifespans are about 150 years. They tend to live in rural areas, preferring a simple life filled with the comforts of home and hearth. Halflings love a good meal and the joy of visiting with family.

Halfling adventurers often take up the occupation either to protect their homes and families or to find exotic foods or clothing.


Halflings begin with +2 to dex. They have a base walking speed of 25 feet. They are especially lucky: if you roll a 1 on an attack, ability, or saving throw roll, you can choose to reroll it. However, you must accept the result of the second roll, even if it is a 1.

Halflings also have advantage on saving throws vs. being frightened. If you must make such a roll, you can roll a second d20 and use the higher of the two die rolls. In addition, halflings have a “nimbleness” ability that allows them to move through the space of a creature larger than them.


Halflings can choose to be one of these subraces:

  • Lightfoot - + 1 Charisma, “naturally stealthy” allows you to hide behind larger creatures
  • Stout - +1 to con, advantage in saving throws against poison, resistance against poison damage (reduces it by 50%)

What are the best 5e classes for halflings?

Thanks to their dex bonus, many halfling players prefer to play rogues. Bard is also a popular class for halflings.


Gnomes are similar in stature to halflings. Most are between 3 and 4 ft. tall. They usually live between 300 to 500 years. Gnomes are often gemcutters, engineers, or alchemists. They are known for their curiosity and love of life.

Gnomes are often attracted to adventuring out of a desire to acquire rare gems and other forms of wealth or because they simply think it will be fun.


Gnomes get +2 to int and have a base walking speed of 25 ft. They can see with a very small amount of light up to 60 ft. Because of their gnome cunning, they get advantage on saving throws using int, wis, or cha, as well as all saving throws against magic.

What are the best 5e classes for gnomes?

Players of gnomes can choose one of the following subraces

  • Forest gnome - +1 dex, knows the minor illusionist cantrip, can communicate with small beasts through gestures and sounds
  • Rock gnome - +1 con, “Artificer’s Lore” lets you double your proficiency bonus for History checks related to technological, alchemical, or magical items. “Tinker” ability lets you make small mechanical objects such as clockwork toys, fire starting devices, music boxes, and others.
  • Deep gnome - the rarest of gnome subraces. +1 dex, darkvision of 120 feet instead of 60, “stone camouflage” gives the deep gnome advantage on stealth checks to hide in rocky areas

Preferred classes

Because of their high intelligence, wizards are the most popular class for gnomes. Rogues are also a common gnome class.


Half-orcs have grey skin, large teeth, and stand between 5 and 7 feet tall. Their average lifespan is around 75 years. Half-orcs are known for their strength and savagery. They feel the power of the one-eyed god Gruumsh, the creator of orcs. As a result, they are quick to anger and have strong passions in general.


Half-orcs get +2 str and +1 con. Their walking speed is 30 ft. They begin the game with the intimidation skill. If a half-orc’s hitpoints go to zero, he can choose to have them go to 1 instead. This can only be used once, at which point he must have a long rest before regenerating the ability. This ability does not prevent an effect that causes death instead of merely reducing hitpoints.

When a half-orc player gets a critical hit, he can roll an extra damage die and add it to the critical hit damage.

What are the best 5e classes for half orcs?

The most popular class choice for half-orcs is barbarian. Fighter is the second most popular.

Other races

The above races are the most common for player characters. However, players can also choose to be rare races such as Tiefling or Dragonborn.

Tieflings are descended from ancient humans who made a pact with Asmodeus, ruler of the nine hells. They are humanoid, but have large teeth and horns. Warlock and Sorcerer are the two most popular classes for Tieflings.

Dragonborn are humanoid beings that look like dragons, although they have no wings or tails. The origin of the Dragonborn are unknown. The most popular classes for Dragonborn are Paladin, Fighter, and Sorcerer.

Deciding which race to play is one of the most important decisions you can make when creating a D&D character. We hope this guide has helped you to find out which race would be the most fun for you.

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Last updated: January 27, 2019

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