Guide to D&D Races and Species 2023

Jack Bye
D&D different species in a tavern

Find all you need to know about the playable D&D races/species, with info on subraces, stat increases, recommended classes, and more.

DnD 5e has had unprecedented success over its lifespan, drawing more players into the game than ever before. There is such a wealth of player options available for 5e that finding the right ones for you can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to the available character races, so take a look and see what type of character you’d like to roll up next.

It should be noted that, while ‘Races’ has historically been the term used in D&D, WOTC is making the switch to ‘Species’ in future products (and the two will be used interchangeably here.)

D&D 5e Player’s Handbook Races

  • Dragonborn
  • Dwarf
  • Elf
  • Gnome
  • Halfling
  • Half-Elf
  • Half-Orc
  • Human
  • Tiefling

With the release of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, ability scores are no longer tied to Races in the way they previously were. While you now have the freedom to put your starting ASIs wherever you wish, we have included the traditional racial stat increases and recommended classes regardless for players who wish to stick to 5e’s PHB rules.


D&D 5E Dragonborn race

Breath and Blade

Ability Score Increase: +2 Str, +1 Cha

Size: Medium

Speed: 30ft

Subraces: Chromatic, Metallic, Gem

Traits: Breath Weapon, Draconic Ancestry

Recommended Classes: Barbarian, Paladin, Sorcerer

A humanoid species with features resembling that of their namesake, Dragonborn are an uncommonly seen folk that traditionally value honor and martial prowess.

When playing a Dragonborn, selecting the nature of your Draconic Ancestry is important. Not only does it determine the color of your scales, but also the associated element for your Draconic Breath Weapon. Breathing Fire, Lightning, Acid and more is the Dragonborn’s most iconic feature.


Dwarf with hammer

Gold and Glory

Ability Score Increase: +2 Con

Size: Medium

Speed: 25ft, not reduced by Heavy Armor

Subraces: Hill Dwarf, Mountain Dwarf, Duergar, Mark of Warding

Traits: Dwarven Resilience, Dwarven Combat Training, Tool Proficiency, Stonecunning, Darkvision

Recommended Classes: Fighter, Ranger, Wizard

Hardy folk with a long and rich tradition of mining and stonework. Dwarves are a martially capable lot in D&D 5e. No matter how you choose to play them, they’ll start right out of the gate with some weapon proficiencies and are not overly encumbered by armor.

Dwarves are at home on the front lines of battle, but their inherent toughness and resilience make them capable casters, eschewing the typical Wizard’s robes for something altogether more practical.


D&D 5E Elf Race

Ancient and Arcane

Ability Score Increase: +2 Dex

Size: Medium

Speed: 30ft

Subraces: Astral Elf, Dark Elf, Wood Elf, High Elf, Mark of Shadow

Traits: Dwarven Resilience, Dwarven Combat Training, Tool Proficiency, Stonecunning, Darkvision

Recommended Classes: Ranger, Rogue, Wizard

Not straying too far from their Tolkien-inspired origins, Elves are a long-lived people who can bring the wisdom of ages to any otherwise short-sighted party. Differing wildly through their subraces, an Elf’s nature can often be surprising, but their equal capability with magic and weaponry can always be counted on.


Gnome with bow and arrow

Craft and Cunning

Ability Score Increase: +2 Int

Size: Small

Speed: 25ft

Subraces: Forest Gnome, Rock Gnome, Mark of Scribing

Traits: Gnome Cunning, Darkvision

Recommended Classes: Artificer, Rogue, Wizard

Suffused with the arcane and almost as long-lived as Elves, Gnomes are a people who understand the value of craft and creation. Whether tinkering on some strange new contraption in workshops or gathering in forest enclaves, Gnomish communities spark with joy and invention.


D&D 5E Half Elf Race

Hybrid Heroes

Ability Score Increase: +2 Cha, +1 to any two others

Size: Medium

Speed: 30ft

Subraces: Mark of Detection, Mark of Storm

Traits: Fey Ancestry, Darkvision, Half-Elf Versatility

Recommended Classes: Bard, Paladin, Sorcerer

Marrying Human curiosity to Elven diplomacy, Half-elves are wanderers in a world that may have yet to fully understand them. With a hugely versatile skillset at their disposal, Half-Elves can shine as charisma-focused casters, controlling conversation as artfully as they control the Weave of magic.


D&D 5E Half Orc race

Surging Strength

Ability Score Increase: +2 Str, +1 Con

Size: Medium

Speed: 30ft

Subraces: Mark of Finding

Traits: Menacing, Darkvision, Relentless Endurance, Savage Attacks

Recommended Classes: Barbarian, Fighter, Paladin

Among D&D’s most capable physical combatants, Half-Orcs bring resilience and overwhelming offensive power to the table. Picking themselves up and striding back into the fray, again and again, having a Half-Orc on your side can reliably guide you through a fight you’d otherwise be certain to lose.


Halfling playing lute

Home and Hearth

Ability Score Increase: +2 Dex

Size: Small

Speed: 25ft

Subraces: Lightfoot Halfling, Stout Halfling, Ghostwise Halfling, Mark of Hospitality, Mark of Healing

Traits: Lucky, Brave, Nimble

Recommended Classes: Rogue, Monk, Ranger

A loyal, dependable, community-focused people. At times possessed of an equal love for the peace of home and the adventure of the open road, Halflings will keep their chosen companions safe with surprising strength and force of will.


D&D 5E Human

Worldwide Wanderers

Ability Score Increase: +1 to all abilities

Size: Medium

Speed: 30ft

Subraces: Variant Human, Mark of Finding, Mark of Handling, Mark of Making, Mark of Passage, Mark of the Sentinel

Traits: Extra skill proficiency

Recommended Classes: Cleric, Fighter, Monk

Of all the D&D races, Humans are well known for their unbridled spirit of optimism and adventure. There’s no corner of the world that humans won’t seek to explore and make their mark on, and the questing life draws many of them like moths to a flame.


D&D 5E Tiefling Race

Devilish and Daring

Touched by the power of the Hells, Tiefling are not always welcome among suspicious and god-fearing people. But their natural Charisma can make them fierce friends, natural leaders, and capable magic-wielders all the same.

Ability Score Increase: +2 Cha

Size: Medium

Speed: 30ft

Subraces: Bloodline of Asmodeus, Bloodline of Baalzebul, Bloodline of Dispater, Bloodline of Fierna, Bloodline of Glasya, Bloodline of Levistus, Bloodline of Mammon, Bloodline of Mephistopheles, Bloodline of Zariel, Variant Tiefling

Traits: Darkvision, Hellish Resistance

Recommended Classes: Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock

D&D 5E Races – FAQs

What is a Subrace in D&D 5e?

A Subrace is an option that you can pick to further define your character’s lineage, granting additional skills and specialties.

What are Ability Score improvements in 5e?

Ability score improvements are boosts to chosen ability scores that are gained at 1st level and again at levels 4, 8, 12, 16, and 19. Boosting your ability scores increases your character’s performance in their chosen area. Some classes gain additional Ability Score improvements.

D&D 5E what are traits?

Traits are additional abilities granted by your species or class in D&D 5e. They range from allowing you to see better in the dark to providing training in specific types of weapons of magic.

If you click on a product link on this page we may earn a small affiliate commission.

Related Topics

About The Author

Ecommerce writer with an MA in Creative Writing, covering MTG, DnD, and everything tabletop for Dexerto. Previously at WePC and VideoGamer. When not rolling dice and shuffling decks, he's playing old RPGs and wishing someone would remaster Skies of Arcadia already. You can reach him at