SRD5:Race

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Racial Traits

The description of each race includes racial traits that are common to members of that race. The following entries appear among the traits of most races.

Ability Score Increase

Every race increases one or more of a character’s ability scores.

Age

The age entry notes the age when a member of the race is considered an adult, as well as the race’s expected lifespan. This information can help you decide how old your character is at the start of the game. You can choose any age for your character, which could provide an explanation for some of your ability scores. For example, if you play a young or very old character, your age could explain a particularly low Strength or Constitution score, while advanced age could account for a high Intelligence or Wisdom.

Alignment

Most races have tendencies toward certain alignments, described in this entry. These are not binding for player characters, but considering why your dwarf is chaotic, for example, in defiance of lawful dwarf society can help you better define your character.

Size

Characters of most races are Medium, a size category including creatures that are roughly 4 to 8 feet tall. Members of a few races are Small (between 2 and 4 feet tall), which means that certain rules of the game affect them differently. The most important of these rules is that Small characters have trouble wielding heavy weapons, as explained in “Weapons.”

Speed

Your speed determines how far you can move when traveling ( “Adventuring”) and fighting (“Combat”).

Languages

By virtue of your race, your character can speak, read, and write certain languages.

Subraces

Some races have subraces. Members of a subrace have the traits of the parent race in addition to the traits specified for their subrace. Relationships among subraces vary significantly from race to race and world to world.

SRD5 Race List

The following are the races listed in the 5th ed. SRD.

End of the SRD5 material

Design Note: Changes to Racial Traits

In 2020, the book Tasha's Cauldron of Everything introduced the option to customize several of your character’s racial traits, specifically the Ability Score Increase trait, the Language trait, and traits that give skill, armor, weapon, or tool proficiencies.

Following in that book’s footsteps, the race options in future D&D books lack the Ability Score Increase trait, the Language trait, the Alignment trait, and any other trait that is purely cultural. Racial traits henceforth reflect only the physical or magical realities of being a player character who’s a member of a particular lineage. Such traits include things like darkvision, a breath weapon (as in the dragonborn), or innate magical ability (as in the forest gnome). Such traits don’t include cultural characteristics, like language or training with a weapon or a tool, and the traits also don’t include an alignment suggestion, since alignment is a choice for each individual, not a characteristic shared by a lineage.

Finally, going forward, the term “race” in D&D refers only to the suite of game features used by player characters. Said features don’t have any bearing on monsters and NPCs who are members of the same species or lineage, since monsters and NPCs in D&D don’t rely on race or class to function. Moreover, DMs are empowered to customize the features of the creatures in their game as they wish. [1]

Sources and Notes

For a full list of 5th edition races and subraces, official and unofficial, see 5e:Race.


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