8 best playable races of the 5th expansions

An expansion in the Dungeons & Dragons universe can mean a lot of different things. This can mean rule books, of which there are many, additional documents that are used as reference documents, or campaign and adventure guides. There are a lot of choices when it comes to building your own D&D game, setting or character, and the tradition continues with recent materials from the 5th expansion. A big part of D&D the lore and gameplay involve the different races that make up the cultures and nations that serve as the backdrop to most adventures. The first incarnation of D&D only had four playable races: humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings. Today the choices are much more varied.

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The Supplementary Library for 5th is currently made up of several books and includes titles that include, but are certainly not limited to, Volo’s guide to monsters, Tasha’s cauldron of everything, and Tome of Mordenkainen’s Enemies. These volumes contain a wealth of information on various aspects of D&D, including some of the different playable races that make up the detailed settings and adventures. Here are some of the best playable race choices that players can find in the 5th expansion materials. These breeds were chosen for their epic natural abilities as well as their potential to be extremely badass.

8 Goliath – When an orc isn’t big enough

Goliath character, split image, standing, climbing, carrying a large rock

  • Origin or Country: Above the tree line in the high mountains of Faerûn.
  • Cut: Medium, 7 and 8 feet tall, weighing between 280 and 340 pounds.
  • Racial bonuses: Strength +2, Constitution +1
  • Reference: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion

As a race, the Goliath people tend to be calm, mysterious, and reclusive. This is one of the reasons they chose the rugged, grassless mountains as their home. Considering a Goliath’s talents for athleticism, survival, and the importance of fair combat in their culture, they make a worthy addition to a D&D Party. That’s if you can write a believable story that would take them from their austere homeland to a countryside setting, which is part of the adventure.

7 Satyr – Because it’s about having fun with the Fey

D&D, Satyr wandering in the forest

  • Origin or Country: The Feywild and Western Cape Wood of Faerûn.
  • Cut: Medium in size, however, they tend to be small.
  • Racial bonuses: Dexterity +1, Charisma +2
  • Reference: Mythical Odyssey of Theros

Playing a satyr is a unique experience in part because of their connection to the Fey, or the folk fairies of the D&D universe. Their reputation for debauchery and dirty good fun is well deserved, and while they can be any lineup, they are often something chaotic or neutral.

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With a generous bonus to charisma and the ability to use a panpipe as a weapon, satyrs make natural bards. Their connection with nature makes druids and rangers equally viable based on dice rolls for different stats.

6 Yuan-Ti Pureblood – When a player wants to be good in order to be bad

Split image, two Yuan-ti purebloods flanking a central Yuan-ti image

  • Origin or Country: Various locations across Faerûn.
  • Cut: Medium, comparable to a human of average height.
  • Racial bonuses: Charisma +2, Intelligence +1
  • Reference: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion

The Yuan-ti purebloods are the most human of all the Yuan-ti races. The other two, half-breeds and abominations, are often presented as monsters or enemies in a D&D countryside. The Yuan-Ti Pureblood aren’t the only race on this list to be prone to neutral evil, but they’re best known for playing the villainous role.

The Yuan-Ti Pureblood is often a magical user as it is a natural fit for a breed with bonus Intelligence. Any class that requires a little extra charisma is also a good choice, with the exception of the Perpetually Well Aligned Paladin, but a creative player could make it work.

5 Tabaxi – The traveling storyteller race

Split image, Tabaxi standing with others, Tabaxi climbing a wall

  • Origin or Country: Nexal, part of the ancient kingdom of Maztica
  • Average height, 6 to 7 feet tall, with an average weight of 200 to 250 pounds.
  • Racial bonuses: Dexterity +2, Charisma +2
  • Additional reference: The Volo Monster Guide

Agile, elegant and graceful, it is not only a great choice for D&D player who is also a chat person. The bonuses and special abilities that members of the Tabaxi possess make them an ideal choice for virtually any class, but their obsession with history and ancient artifacts means that they are often bards or clerics. Since the Tabaxi race is roughly the same size as humans, they also make good fighters or paladins. They are excellent predators, experts in stalking and hiding, while being nearly impossible to track on their own.

4 Kenku – When it’s time for a role-playing challenge

Kenku sitting on a rooftop eating bread, cityscape

  • Origin or Country: Various locations across Faerûn, mostly unknown.
  • Cut: Medium, about 5 feet tall.
  • Racial bonuses: Dexterity +2, Wisdom +1
  • Additional reference: The Volo Monster Guide

Be aware that this is one of the more difficult races to play, likely requiring some input and cooperation from your DM, but more experienced or ambitious players will appreciate the challenge. The Kenku breed has no language and relies entirely on mimicry for communication, which can be awkward to say the least.

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Other challenges that come with playing a Kenku include their social status. They are often completely hidden from society, hiding in sewers and alleys, and just having one in an Adventurer’s Party can damage your party’s reputation. The racial bonuses are well worth it, however, and the race is a great choice for a cleric or thief.

3 Forgelier – Iron Man’s Steampunk Race

Two smiths in a fight, D&D

  • Origin or Country: Ebberon lands
  • Cut: Medium, about 6 feet tall, about 300 pounds.
  • Racial bonuses:
  • Additional reference: Eberron: the resurrection of the last war

Maybe not really a race at all, as these are constructions that were built by others, but the D&D the jury is still out. Currently, the Warforged is a playable race that has gained ground not only because of the compelling mechanical aspects, but also for Marvel fans who wanted to build a character that mimicked Iron Man, or at least his famous costume.

This versatile breed is ritualistically created from magical materials and has no gender like any other build. These factors can make the race seem restrictive when it comes to backstory or RP, but there is great potential for players who want to create a soldier-like character with a flair for customization. Smithers can actually modify themselves to create a more individualized face.

2 Vedalken – Accurate, impartial and best of all, amphibious

Vedalken D&D electric power welding

  • Origin or Country: Ravnica.
  • Cut: Medium, about 6 feet tall but under 200 pounds.
  • Racial bonuses: Intelligence +2, Wisdom +1
  • Additional reference: Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica

The Vedalken are ardent perfectionists, but they do not despair of the imperfect. Instead, they see it as an opportunity to improve. It’s an inspiring perspective, ideal for Clerics, Paladins, and other hopeful characters. The fact that the Vedalken are often also legally aligned helps.

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Special abilities are what make Vedalken so interesting to play and just as good in any class. Each Vedalken has a choice of skills like Arcane, Medicine, or Performance when casting their character using the Tireless Precision talent, and their quick wits give them a bonus on all Intellect, Wisdom, and Charisma casts.

1 Gith – The fearless warriors who fight Spirit Flayers and ride dragons


  • Origin or Country: Currently the astral plane and other locations, but the origin of the breed is unknown.
  • Cut: Medium, about 6 feet tall and thin compared to most humans.
  • Racial bonuses: Strength +2
  • Additional reference: Tome of Mordenkainen’s Enemies

The latest addition to the Baldur’s Gate video game franchise, Baldur Gate 3, didn’t invent or introduce the dreaded Gith, but their appearance in the game put them on the map. The Gith are a playable race that was introduced in Tome of Mordenkainen’s Enemies they have been around since 2018, the year the book was released.

Their race was once enslaved by the Mind Flayers, but rebelled and escaped, hence their mutual animosity. To add yet another layer to this race, they are split into two warring factions, the aggressive warriors Githyanki and the contemplative Githzerai, so a player who feels ambitious for the role-playing game can have fun with this distinction.

NEXT: Dungeons & Dragons: All Casting Classes, Ranked

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