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Human 5e

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The Human Race: Most Versatile in D&D

Humans. Even in most fantasy worlds they are the most common, or one of the most common races, and often seen as a fascinating enigma among the other races of the D&D world. Elves shake their heads at the impetuous and often short-sighted decision making of this race that comes and goes in a mere century, but can't help but to be impressed with the great things many manage to achieve in such a short time. Dwarves marvel at the trading empires many humans build while gnomes find kindred spirits in the passion for life and living. Willing to intermingle with nearly all the races, there is no such thing as a "typical" human which might be part of why they can accomplish so much and mingle in so many places.

 

dungeons and dragons human 5e

The Most Popular D&D Race

Humans are the most popular choice for a D&D character by far. Part of this will be because they are familiar and are a great safe choice for beginning players as well as being popular for those players who love the idea of immersion and want to play a human in a fantasy rule. Then there's the fact that mechanically, humans are built to be incredibly versatile and power.

An interesting article showed a chart of all the most and least common race-class builds showed that human was overwhelmingly the most popular choice, with the "nearest human" races of elf and half elf generally close behind. In fact, the ten most popular combinations are as follows in order:

  • Human fighter (#1 by a long shot)
  • Elf ranger
  • Elf wizard
  • Human wizard
  • Human rogue
  • Human cleric
  • Human paladin
  • Dwarf cleric
  • Dwarf fighter
  • Human monk


What's even more interesting is that no matter what the class, humans are either the #1 or 2 most popular race for that class with the exception of barbarian where they are #3, because who doesn't love a half-orc or goliath barbarian?

Story-wise, humans also offer something many role players appreciate: a blank slate. You don't have to be pigeonholed into a love of nature or explain why you don't, you don't have to come from any particular background. Furthermore, humans can come from any backstory which gives plenty of options. They are also the only race with no natural alignment - humans are found on the entire spectrum.

Mechanically the Most Versatile

Because humans are so versatile as opposed to specialized, their starting abilities reflect this. All human characters start out by speaking common and one other language of their choice, with the other language generally being of a race that the particular human character commonly deals with or has some background with. This is an important time to note there are two commonly accepted builds in the Player's Handbook for humans: the regular human build and the variant human build.

The traditional build has every single ability score increasing by +1. This is a pretty incredible boost, and is a welcome sight if the player rolled a lot of odd numbers for starting statistics. Then there is the variant human build that is extremely popular and still manages to keep this versatility. In the variant build a player can add +1 to any starting stat block, gain one skill proficiency, and also one feat. Adding a feat can create a powerful character even at low levels.

A rogue starting with the alert feat is not only likely to go early in the fight and thus get a chance at surprise attacks, but will also be impossible to ambush. A ranger starting out with the sharpshooter feat has a range and damage potential that other very low level characters will not be able to match. Adding the lucky feat is a great way to save yourself from terrible early rolls that could end your character right there.

This is a powerful way to specialize a character, and also gives them the opportunity for a long-term build that will have one more feat than any other racial build. Feats are powerful, especially when stacked, and can make either a martial class or spell casting class all the more terrifying.

This versatility creates a wide variety of potential builds whether going for a "jack of all trades," a certain niche specialist not restrained by other racial traits or backgrounds, or in many cases if someone builds a character with a multi-class in mind they find that either the traditional large stat boost humans receive or a particular variant & feat combination will be the perfect background to create a good multi-class build.

Humans Look at Institutions

Part of the reason that humans tend to build the large cities or great empires is because of their combination of ambition and short life span. Races that live 3 to 7 centuries can pass down plenty of traditions within the family or through long-term mentorship but for humans who almost never reach a century of age the only way to keep on traditions and building off of work already done comes from creating, building, and supporting institutions.

This also helps explain why throughout the D&D worlds there are human businesses, cities, guilds, and empires found throughout almost any land that one travels through.

Book Race Examples Versus Practical Practice

There are multiple examples of various cultures among the human race in the Player's Handbook. Most of these come from various books or fantasy worlds, and represent a wide variety of real life historic empires or groups of people across the Earth. While a player can certainly dive into being of the Shou, Turami, Mulan, or other fantasy settings or human populations mentioned in the main handbook, in many games players simply choose to come from a place the DM creates, make a bit of their own general backstory, or even carve a player coming from a real world historic tradition that they enjoy.

This is how a player can create a Pictish/Celtic barbarian, a fighter from a Roman/Byzantine tradition, or a traveling rogue from city states that sound suspiciously like the Italian merchant sites. New builds in Xanathar's further the number of available backstories as there is even a Samurai fighter build as well as multiple monk builds that are more Far East in their flavoring.

While the book races can be a great starting point and show the versatility of what is available, in many cases a player will be able to create any type of a background they really want for their particular human character. If one of the mentioned human cultures in the book sound familiar or interesting, a player should run with it. On the other hand if they have a different idea for a background or don't really have a preference then they should speak to the DM. There's a pretty good chance the DM may have some setting or area that works perfectly in their campaign with what you're looking for or be able to help fill out your own character's backstory in a way that actually melds it into the campaign.

Common Doesn't Mean Basic

The strength of a human mechanically is the same as their reputation in the D&D universe: they are versatile. Just because they are common doesn't mean they're basic. Even two humans of the exact same class and path can look and act very different. Having this array of options is part of what is so appealing because a human player can literally be anything that you want him or her to be. Not all combos make sense in the D&D world but humans can be whatever they set their minds to - and that's where the strength of this D&D race truly comes from.

Human FAQ's

What is a variant human in 5e?

Variant humans are an an alternate set of racial traits found in the Player’s Handbook that are specifically only allowed with the DM’s permission.

How long do humans live in D&D?

Barring external threats, natural human lifespan is about 60-80 years, and with a stable environment and access to medicine they can reach up to 120 years old.

How tall are humans in 5e?

Generally humans range from just under 5 feet tall to just over 6 feet tall.

 

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Disclaimer

Last updated: January 27, 2019

The information contained on www.SkullSplitterDice.com website (the "Service") is for general information purposes only.

www.SkullSplitterDice.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. (source: Section 5)

Blueshift Nine, LLC assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents on the Service.

In no event shall Blueshift Nine, LLC be liable for any special, direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages or any damages whatsoever, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tort, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Service or the contents of the Service. Blueshift Nine, LLC reserves the right to make additions, deletions, or modification to the contents on the Service at any time without prior notice.

Blueshift Nine, LLC does not warrant that the Service is free of viruses or other harmful components.

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Some of the links are "affiliate links", a link with a special tracking code. This means if you click on an affiliate link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission.

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