Getting into Dungeons and Dragons? Here’s your guide to all the races
Looking to get into Dungeons & Dragons? Good for you. The roleplaying game is perfect for game nights with friends, either virtually or in person. While choosing someone to be dungeon master and picking out a campaign might be the first step, creating your character is probably the most important aspect of the game.
Choosing your character’s race is the most important part. It’s why it’s the first step to building your character. However, first, consider the entirety of your character. Some races are better at fighting with spells, while others are better with weapons. You probably don’t want to play as an Elven barbarian. We’ll explain later.
You’re basically acting in Dungeons & Dragons – hence the roleplaying. You take on your character’s abilities, personality, and traits, and race plays a huge part in it. A character’s race guides the rest of the choices you’ll make, so understanding not just your race, but all the races, is important to creating a character and playing Dungeons & Dragons.
We’ll quickly get humans out of the way. Mainly because we know what it’s like to be a human. It’s an easy race for first-time players, especially for players who don’t have an acting or improv background – or if you’re being forced to play with friends and hate fantasy.
Think of humans as the jack of all trades. Most classes work well with humans, and they receive a +1 to all ability scores. They also receive an additional language for being human. If you’re staying faithful then all but the magic classes work with humans, so stay away from wizards, warlocks, sorcerers, and clerics.
Elves might be the most stereotypical Dungeons & Dragons race. However, they’re pretty complex. One of the biggest things to know about Eleves is they are kind of pompous a**holes. They think they are better than everybody else and aren’t afraid to show people that, and don’t like to associate with other races.
It doesn’t mean they can’t be in a party with other races. Just know it’s something to consider when making choices as an elf. Because they live for over 700 years, they take longer to trust others. Elves are magical races and are perfect for rogues, wizards, druids, and rangers. They get a +2 to dexterity perfect for those races. There are two big subraces to be aware of:
First, wood elves are what we assume from the race; they live in nature, and their appearance takes on more forestry hues like greens and browns. Then there are high elves. They’re the nobles among the elves and come in either moon or sun, think silver or gold. Each subrace has its own special abilities to think about when creating your character, which gets back to thinking about your entire character and not just looks.
If you like Grumpy from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, you might like playing as a dwarf. They are grumpy miners and are devoutly religious, making them great clerics & paladins. They’re extremely loyal to their friends but take time to create that bond. Think stereotypical Republicans; they come from blue-collar trades and are devout to their religion.
Judge them by their size, do you? Despite their small stature – standing under five feet tall – dwarves also make great barbarians & fighters. If you want to play these classes, we recommend making a mountain dwarf for their +2 in strength. However, hill dwarves come with Dwarven Toughness, which increases their max hit points, and they gain an extra hit point at every level increase.
To help build your character, know that dwarves are homebodies by nature, so you’ll need to be motivated to go on the adventure. Maybe it’s a duty or purpose driving you to leave. Maybe it’s avenging your father’s death. This detail will help you create an interesting backstory, make decisions in the game, and connect to the campaign.
Want to be the size of the dwarf but more playful? Try playing as a gnome. Gnomes are inventive tricksters who love playing practical jokes. If you don’t want an easy backstory, try playing as a gnome because they are naturally curious and want to explore the world. Just know they are on the chaotic side, which means you almost exclusively align chaotic good.
Gnomes make great rangers, bards, druids, and wizards and get a +2 to intelligence. Deciding on the class depends on which subrace you are.
Forest gnomes are like wood elves with their knack for nature, but they gain a +1 to dexterity making them great rangers, wizards, and druids. rock gnomes are the tinkers and love to build and best as bards. Then deep gnomes also have a +1 to dexterity and an advantage on stealth checks. They’re great as rangers or rogues.
Half-Elves are the offsprings of humans & elves, making them the best of both worlds. They are versatile like humans and can go with any class – except for maybe barbarian and paladin for their stature. Also, because they are part elf, charms don’t affect them.
They’re the biggest misfits because almost all races look down on them. However, they get along with everyone and sit right in the middle. Because of this, they get +2 to charisma, making them great diplomats and persuaders. Beyond their +2 to charisma, half-elves get +1 to two additional abilities and proficiency in two skills of their choice.
There aren’t subraces, but you can choose which elf subrace if you want. It’s not like any of the elf subraces would embrace you if you chose. However, the DM can grant you the racial traits from the subrace.
With so many races in the Player’s Handbook, we skipped over a lot. Comment down below which other races we should cover next.