What are the playable D&D races in 5e, and where can I find them?

  • There's not a lot of material published by WotC for 5e (relative to previous editions), nor is there planned to be. However, there are playable races for D&D scattered around in a few different locations in published products that people may not even know about. What are all the playable races, and where can one find each?

    To be clear, we're talking about first party D&D 5e materials published by Wizards of the Coast.

    Both "official" races (sanctioned for Adventurers League Play) and others, like races from Unearthed Arcana or from other WotC sources outside the D&D team that are less canonical, are of interest, but please designate whether they're considered official and sanctioned or not.

    Topicality and utility of this question discussed in Meta here. Inspired by this question.

    "Nor is there planned to be." Silly, silly 2016 nitsua....

    Haha. Well, I think there's still a lot less than for most of the previous editions, right? :P

  • nitsua60

    nitsua60 Correct answer

    5 years ago

    There are two different ways a race could be "official": it could be "official" in the sense of fully-tested and legal for sanctioned organized play campaigns, and it could be "official" in the sense of being published in 1st-party material from Wizards of the Coast. Which one is relevant depends on why you're looking for an "official" race.


    • BR: Basic Rules, Chapter 2: Races
    • SRD: System Reference Document, 5e, "Races" at p. 3-7
    • PHB: Player's Handbook, Chapter 2: Races
    • DMG: Dungeon Master's Guide, "Creating New Character Options" at p. 285-287

    • AI: Acquisitions Incorporated, "New Race: Verdan" at p. 72-74

    • EE: Elemental Evil Player's Companion, Chapter 1: Races
    • GGR: Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica, p. 12-21
    • MToF: Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, throughout Chapters 1-5
    • LR: Locathah Rising, an Extra Life fundraiser from WotC
    • OGA: One Grung Above, an Extra Life fundraiser from WotC
    • PotA: Princes of the Apocalypse, Appendix A: Genasi
    • PS:ZEN: Plane Shift: Zendikar, Races of Zendikar at p. 7
    • PS:INN: Plane Shift: Innistrad, Life on Innistrad at p. 7
    • PS:KLD: Plane Shift: Kaladesh, Races of Kaladesh at p. 15
    • PS:AKH: Plane Shift Amonkhet, Races of Amonkhet at p. 12

      Note that Plane Shift occupies a strange shade-of-grey space: it's "compatible with" D&D, published by WotC, but written by the Magic: the Gathering team instead of the D&D team (though the author of all of them was a former D&D team member). Notably, it comes with a disclaimer substantially similar to the one provided with UA articles:

      The game mechanics in this supplement are usable in your D&D campaign but are not fully tempered by playtests and design iterations. For these reasons, material in this supplement is not legal in D&D Organized Play events.

    • SCAG: Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, Chapter 3: Races of the Realms

    • TP: The Tortle Package, an Extra Life fundraiser from WotC
    • UA: Unearthed Arcana articles, link and name specific article when listing

      UA articles are presented on WotC's website with the following notice:

      You can think of the material presented in this series as similar to the first wave of the fifth edition playtest. These game mechanics are in draft form, usable in your campaign but not fully tempered by playtests and design iterations. They are not officially part of the game. For these reasons, material in this column is not legal in D&D Organized Play events.

    • VOLO: Volo's Guide to Monsters, Chapter 2: Character Races

    • WGtE: Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron, Chapter 3: Races of Eberron
    • E:RftLW: Eberron: Rising from the Last War, Chapter 1: Character Creation

      Note that Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron and Eberron: Rising from the Last War now redundantly feature most of the same new races, though the latter reprints the goblin, bugbear, and hobgoblin races, and includes a new version of the orc race. WGtE was originally published as a "living document", and was later updated with the versions of the included races as they appear in E:RftLW.

    Monster Manual, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Rise of Tiamat, Tyranny of Dragons Player's Guide, Out of the Abyss, Rage of Demons Player's Guide, Curse of Strahd, Storm King's Thunder, Tales from the Yawning Portal, Xanathar's Guide to Everything, Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, and Dungeon of the Mad Mage all do not provide playable races. Tomb of Annihilation does provide one in its The Tortle Package charity supplement (the eponymous Tortle). (And Xanathar's Guide to Everything does provide racial feats, so those interested in racial options may want to take a gander at XGtE anyway.)

    Races legal in Adventurers League play (subject to "+1 rule"):

    • Aarakocra (EE, only with supporting campaign documentation)
    • Aasimar: Basic (DMG, only with supporting campaign documentation)
    • Aasimar: Protector, Scourge, Fallen (VOLO) - Not subject to the "+1 rule" when created new for DDAL Season 9, and gains a winged option upon reaching Tier 2.
    • Bugbear (VOLO, E:RftLW)
    • Deep Gnome/Svirfneblin (EE, SCAG, MToF)
    • Dragonborn (SRD, PHB)
    • Dwarf: Mountain or Hill (BR, SRD only Hill, PHB)
    • Dwarf: Duergar (SCAG, MToF)
    • Elf: High, Wood, or Drow (BR, SRD only High, PHB)
    • Elf: Eladrin, Sea Elf, or Shadar-kai (MToF)
    • Firbolg (VOLO)
    • Genasi (PotA, EE, EE)
    • Gith: Githyanki or Githzerai (MToF)
    • Gnome (SRD, PHB)
    • Goblin (VOLO, GGR, E:RftLW)
    • Goliath (EE, VOLO)
    • Halfling: Lightfoot or Stout (BR, SRD only Lightfoot, PHB)
    • Halfling: Ghostwise (SCAG)
    • Half-Elf (SRD, PHB)
    • Half-Elf: Variant (SCAG)
    • Half-Orc (SRD, PHB)
    • Hobgoblin (VOLO, E:RftLW)
    • Human: standard or variant (BR, SRD only standard, PHB)
    • Kenku (VOLO)
    • Kobold (VOLO)
    • Lizardfolk (VOLO)
    • Orc (VOLO)
    • Tabaxi (VOLO)
    • Tiefling (SRD, PHB)
    • Tiefling: Variant (Winged only with supporting campaign documentation, or upon reaching T2 when created new for DDAL Season 9) (SCAG)
    • Tiefling: Bloodline Variants (MToF)
    • Tortle (The Tortle Package, charity supplement to Tomb of Annihilation; counts as part of XGtE for AL PHB+1 rule purposes)
    • Triton (VOLO)
    • Yuan-Ti Pureblood (VOLO)

    All races published by WotC:

    All of the above, plus:

    Disclaimer: As always, consult your DM before playing one of these races: these races may not be for all players. Stop playing a race if you're not having fun doing so. Neither Wizards of the Coast nor RPG.SE are responsible for anything you do while playing one of these races. Please roll responsibly.

    Remember to always read the fine print.

    I would link the Aarakocra and the Winged Tiefling in the AL part to this question: https://rpg.stackexchange.com/a/106629/43856 - "supporting campaign documentantion" is kinda broad.

    Is this list meant to contain every playable race *and* every iteration of that race that's existed. So the UA Githzerai *and* the MTF version? For example, Vedalken currently lists both the PS:KLD version and the GGR version. I'm unsure what the guidelines are then on which version this list is meant to include

    The AL section may need to be updated. This reddit thread from 2 years ago suggests that, at least according to the AL FAQ at the time, you always use the latest version of a published race - so even if a cert let you use the DMG aasimar race, you'd have to actually use the stats in Volo's/EEPC; it'd just let you pick a different book as your +1. Also, the Oracle of War Eberron AL campaign has its own Player's Guide and DM's Guide, with its own source/option restrictions: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/208178/DD-Adventurers-League-Players-Pack

    Is there a reason the Genasi have 2 EE links (one pointing to the EEPC, one pointing to the race on D&D Beyond) while the others simply have 1 EE link pointing to the EEPC?

    Chapter 4: Character Options of the new *Explorer's Guide to Wildemount* book adds a few new subraces/variants: Pallid Elf (subrace), Lotusden Halfling (subrace), Draconblood Dragonborn (variant), Ravenite Dragonborn (variant), and Orc (Exandria variant). It also reprints a ton of races/subraces: Sea Elf subrace, Aarakocra, Aasimar (all subraces), Firbolg, Genasi (all), Bugbear, Goblin, Hobgoblin, Goliath, Kenku, Tabaxi, and Tortle.

    ...That said, given what I mentioned in my earlier comment about the AL section being inaccurate, it may be best to restructure this answer in a different fashion. Perhaps one section for races from published books, one for Extra Life supplements (maybe with a note by Grung explaining it being "less official" than the others), one for unpublished UA playtest content, and one for the Plane Shift PDFs?

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM