Adventurers in the realms of Dungeons & Dragons come in many shapes and sizes and from as many backgrounds as you can imagine. A character's class is only half of the equation; their race plays an equal part in determining that character's history, how they view the world, and how the world views them.
Dungeons & Dragons has a Massive Race Selection to choose from. While there are countless creatures in the bestiaries that could be considered "races", this page is for specifically detailing the ones intended for players; creatures without racial hit dice that have specific entries for their use as characters.
This page is intended to serve as a collection for all playable races in D&D, regardless of their setting of origin. Thus, githzerai are here, whilst their githyanki relatives remain on the Planescape Races page.
Doughty warriors and expert smiths who favor mountainous or cavernous environments, dwarves are strongly associated with their love of producing beautiful jewelry and masterful metalwork.
- Absurdly Low Level Cap: Original Edition and AD&D First Edition put a hamper on how high of a level dwarves could have in their allowed classes, save for the Thief class, which they didn't have a level cap in.
- Badass Beard: This is the standard for male dwarves. Female dwarves (normally) lack the beard, but they're just as badass on average.
- Dying Race: Depends heavily on the setting and the edition. For example, in AD&D Forgotten Realms, dwarves are dying out due to a combination of pronounced fertility issuesnote and too-few females, but in 3rd edition, both of these elements were retconned away as part of a miracle healing gifted to the dwarves by their patron gods.
- Elves vs. Dwarves: Downplayed, in that elves and dwarves generally don't like each other overly much, but they are rarely directly at war, at least in official campaign settings. In the days of AD&D, if not third edition as well, it's explained that whilst their respectively Lawful and Chaotic natures give them difficulty understanding the finer nuances of each other's perspective, their shared Goodly nature allows them to put those differences aside enough to respect each other and keep the peace beyond private jabs and grumbling.
- Gender Rarity Value: Old lore for dwarves portrays females as very rare — for example, in the Forgotten Realms, female dwarves made up only 3 out of every 10 dwarves, and as such they tended to be benignly closeted in the dwarfholds. Like the idea that female dwarves have facial hair, this idea didn't last and female dwarves stopped being officially rare around 3rd edition.
- Girls with Moustaches: In the very earliest lore for dwarves, AD&D 1st edition, certain settings claim that at least some breeds of dwarf have women who can grow beards and mustaches like their menfolk, although whether or not they actually do this or shave themselves clean is more of a personal cultural choice. Taken from the common fan-theory about Tolkien's female dwarves, this aspect was officially dropped as soon as WoTC took over and hasn't been referenced since. In the 4th edition preview sourcebook, "Races & Monsters", it was made explicit that female dwarves in the Nentir Vale setting do not have facial hair.
- Intergenerational Friendship: This is quite common between dwarves and humans, as noted in the 3.5 sourcebook, thanks to the dwarves' much longer lifespans. If a dwarf is friends with a human, odds are pretty good they were friends with the human's predecessors.
- Interspecies Romance: In AD&D lore, it's actually noted that dwarves can and do interbreed with humans, gnomes and halflings, although it's stated that such unions produce offspring that are functionally identical to dwarves. Some settings play with the idea; Dark Sun and Nentir Vale are both home to Muls (human/dwarf hybrids), whilst Midnight is home to both dwarrow (dwarf/gnomes) and dworcs (dwarf/orcs).
- Not So Different: From Orcs, at least how they're represented in the 5th edition books "Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes" and "Volo's Guide to Monsters." Both dwarves and orcs are born and raised in cultures that preach fanatical adherence to their gods and devote themselves to mastery of their respective art (battle for orcs, artisanship for dwarves).
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Zigzagged. D&D dwarves owe their foundation to Tolkien's take, and so the common "Mountain Dwarf" and "Hill Dwarf" subspecies are secondary Trope Codifiers for the "generic dwarf" archetype. However, many of the more obscure dwarf subspecies play with the archetype to some extent:
- Duergar are grim, malevolent, workaholic slave-taking dwarves native to the Underdark, essentially the dwarven equivalent of Drow. In 4th edition, they gained the extra trait of being diabolists; worshipping, consorting with and even interbreeding with devils. They have certain innate magical powers, mostly the ability to turn invisible or grow into giants.
- Derro are evil, murderously crazy dwarves of a particularly degenerate stock, who also inhabit the Underdark. They're the most magically adept of all the dwarven subraces.
- Wild Dwarves, introduced in the Forgotten Realms, are essentially jungle-dwelling headhunting Stone Age tribals, which may be why they don't get mentioned much. 5th edition brought them back as a less-inadvertently offensive race of primitive albino dwarves native to Chult in the adventure "Tomb of Annihilation".
- The Innugaakalikurit are Arctic Dwarves; pale-skinned, white-haired tundra-dwellers who have no stoneworking or metalsmithing skills, favor spears over axes, are expert hunters, and are impervious to the cold. Unlike most dwarves, they love sunlight, and sunbathe whenever they can.
- On Krynn, the various Clans embody different dwarven standards. The Daergar clan are blatant expies of the Duergar, although they lack the duergar's magical ability. The Theiwar and Klar clans are based on different aspects of the Derro, with the Theiwar getting the sorcerous talents and the Klar getting the bloodlust and insanity. Finally, there are two dwarf clans unique to Krynn; the Zakhar, outcasts who suffer from a curse that leaves them hairless and disease-ridden, and the Aghar, slovenly, cowardly, unintelligent dwarves who are actually lower than goblins on the totem pole of civilized races and who are believed to stem from ancient dwarf/gnome interbreeding.
- The dwarves of Athas have lost all of their traditional skill with stone and metal-work but have an even greater stamina and work ethic. Physically, they are notably hairless and were a lot stockier and square-shaped (and taller!) than the original second edition dwarves: Not only did they have a cranial structure that was notably different than that of humans (unlike their standard counterparts), they also qualified as medium-sized creatures. With the third edition however, the new baseline dwarf copied most physical features (size, build, cranial form) of the Athasian dwarves except their hairlessness.
- The ancient Kogolor of Mystara are actually the prototypes for both common dwarves and gnomes; cheerful, jovial, friendly agrarian humanoids who dwell in mountain forests and live simple lives as foresters, herders and trappers. They have no great skill in craftsmanship, save the brewing of liquor, and are almost embarrassingly Swiss, complete with a great passion for yodeling. They are extinct on the surface, but survive in the Hollow World.
- Korobokuru, or "Oriental Dwarves", are surface-dwellers characterized by a generally hairy frame (with rather ratty beards/mustaches) who mostly pursue a peaceful existence as farmers or hunters in forested areas. They're closer to halflings than anything else in many ways.
- Dwarves are, interestingly, the least changed race in Eberron (Keith Baker has indicated this is partially because he loved the way they were portrayed in The Hobbit). The only major change is that their materialism translates to a desire for neatness, causing most dwarves to grow shorter beards that are easier to groom.
- Proud Warrior Race: Dwarven society heavily values martial skill, and every dwarf is trained to defend his stronghold from birth. As a result, they are given weapon and armor proficiencies and have features revolving around fulfilling old grudges.
Long-lived, beautiful, graceful and naturally adept at magic, elves are one of the most iconic non-human races of D&D.
- Absurdly Low Level Cap: Original Edition and AD&D First Edition put a hamper on how high of a level elves could have in their allowed classes, save for the Thief class, which they didn't have a level cap in.
- Can't Argue with Elves: D&D has a very long tradition of its elves being beloved and cherished by the creators, to the point that the AD&D elven sourcebook, "The Complete Book of Elves", is an Old Shame to its creator.
- Distinction Without a Difference: A complaint among the fandom is that, traditionally, this ends up fitting High Elves vs. Wild Elves; both love nature, both believe in being In Harmony with Nature, and both are magical beings. They're essentially the same race with just slightly different proportions in regards magic love vs. nature love. This state of affairs was even lampshaded by Wizards of the Coast, who used it as justification for replacing High and Wood Elves with Eladrin and Elves in 4th edition.
- Elves vs. Dwarves: Downplayed, in that elves and dwarves generally don't like each other overly much, but they are rarely directly at war, at least in official campaign settings.
- God Guise: Young avariels have been known to use their wings and their elven beauty to trick gullible mortals into believing that they are angels, although their elders strictly discourage this behavior.
- Hypocrite: One of the most common cases is that elven "harmony" is recurrently portrayed as featuring the use of magic to essentially subjugate the land such as by compelling plants to grow in unnatural directions to create living treehouses and that they assist in taming animals, which means that elven forests are, at least around the cities, no less domesticated than the settled lands of other races. It's at least made clear that they don't clear and plow land, or in other words, farm.
- In Harmony with Nature: This is a common depiction of elves, especially the Wood Elf subrace. The Wood Elves even get a racial feature called "Mask of the Wild" that helps them hide because of how in-tune they are with natural phenomena.
- Land of Faerie: Elves often have some nebulous connection to this place, although it's usually portrayed as somewhere they came from rather than where they live. The Lythari and the Eladrin are exceptions, as both are natives of the faerielands of D&D.
- Magic Knight: Elves were the original "gish" class in the first editions of D&D, having the unique ability to use either Warrior or Magic-User skills at the cost of not being able to develop as high in either class as a human. Later editions explored this idea in different ways, such as AD&D allowing elves to advance simultaneously as both Fighters and Wizards.
- In the Forgotten Realms, elves are the inventors of a unique form of Supernatural Martial Arts called "Bladesinging", which combines one-handed melee weapon styles with wizardly spellcasting.
- In the Nentir Vale, eladrin are widely recognized for their skill in the Swordmage class, which they tend to favor over martial classes. Eladrin wizards also often train in the art of swordplay, to the extent that they can use their swords as focuses for their spells.
- Our Elves Are Better: There are quite a few different varieties of elves throughout the D&D multiverse.
- High Elves are generally portrayed as the more "traditionally civilized" elves. They still live In Harmony with Nature, but they focus more overtly on arcane magic and use it as a tool to build cities and empires. As a result, they are usually the least xenophobic of the elven races. They are sometimes depicted as having a greater affinity for arcane magic than other elves.
- 2nd edition also had Gray Elves, who were basically High Elves turned Up to Eleven, particularly in terms of being xenophobic elitists. These were basically folded into High Elves by the time of 3rd edition.
- Wood Elves are primal elves who truly respect nature and try to live as close to it as possible. Unlike their city-building cousins, they rarely form anything more civilized than a loose confederacy of tribes or clans, and they definitely don't build traditional structures.
- Aquatic Elves are an elven subrace that dwells in deep water, a trait characterized by their propensity for blue skin, webbed digits, and gills. Though usually more land-friendly than mermaids, Aquatic Elves tend to be the most xenophobic of their kind, and so are rarely important to the affairs of the surface world.
- Two unique examples of Aquatic Elf are the Krynnish Dargonesti and Dimernesti, or Deep Elves and Shoal Elves, respectively. These races not only mirror the High Elf/Wood Elf split, respectively, in their aquatic environment, complete with Dargonesti having innate spells that the Dimernesti lack, but have the unique ability of Voluntary Shapeshifting — the Dargonesti can turn into dolphins, and the Dimernesti into giant otters.
- Dark Elves, or "Drow", are dark-skinned malevolent elves who reside in the Underdark. The traditional depiction of Dark Elves is as losers of an ancient civil war, forced to retreat to the inhospitable world beneath where they have embraced demon-worship, slavery, Black Magic and other evils as they plot revenge.
- Avariels and Ee'aar, native to Faerun and Mystara respectively, are characterized mostly by their unique possession of wings.
- Lythari are faerie-blooded elven lycanthropes who can freely switch between the form of a silvery-white elf or a giant silvery-white wolf as they see fit.
- Eladrin, native to the Nentir Vale setting, are the "original" elven form; ethereal and otherworldly humanoids with Monochromatic Eyes, the ability to teleport at will, and a natural affinity for arcane magic, they are the masters of Land of Faerie, just as humans master the mortal world. These conceptually replace the standard High Elves in their world.
- Nentir Vale Elves are a weakened form of elf, the result of eladrin who fled to or were stranded in the human world eons ago and lost most of their faerie magic in the bargain. They have little true interest in arcane magic anymore, and instead practice primal magics, as these allow them to truly live In Harmony with Nature. Conceptually, they replace Wood Elves. They also are notably quicker than humans, having a base movement of 7 squares (35 feet) per round compared to the human's 6 squares (30 feet).
- The elves of Eberron are all quite distinctive; the Aerenal are ancestor-worshippers who guard their own continent and practice a non-evil form of necromancy, the Valenar are ancestor-worshipping, warlike horse-riding mercenaries, the Khorvaire elves have adapted due to generations of living amongst humans, and the Drow are non-evil, dark-skinned elves who inhabit the ancient elven homeland and still live by primordial, primitive traditions.
- Rockseer Elves are a mysterious race of elves with a mystical connection to earth and stone, native to Faerun. Peaceful but fatalistic, they have potent earth-related magics, such as the ability to innately pass through stone as if it were thin air.
- Athasian Elves probably have the least in common with their otherworldly cousins: They're extremely tall (7+ feet), comparably short-lived (only about 30 years or so longer than humans), have no high culture of their own and instead spend their lives as raiders and nomads who are constantly on the run. They're more chaotic than other Elves, volatile, unreliable and considered to be notoriously untrustworthy.
- Our Liches Are Different: Elves in AD&D had the unique Baelnorn, a lich-like being of good alignment created from an elf who wished to continue guarding its family or a place that was important to it in life.
- Our Werebeasts Are Different:
- Lythari are elven lycanthropes who only have elf and wolf forms and who are not evil, unlike normal werewolves.
- Dargonesti and Dimernesti are elves who can assume the forms of dolphins and giant otters, respectively.
- Winged Humanoid: The Avariels of the Forgotten Realms and the Ee'aar of Mystara are races of elves characterized by their possession of feathered, flight-capable wings sprouting from their shoulders.
Inspired by the Hobbits, halflings are traditionally a small, gentle and peace-loving race of inoffensive diminutive humanoids who relish their creature comforts, but sometimes display a surprising affinity for adventure.
- Absurdly Low Level Cap: Original Edition and AD&D First Edition put a hamper on how high of a level halflings could have in their allowed classes, save for the Thief class, which they didn't have a level cap in.
- Born Lucky: Their racial variant of the Lucky feat can be used an unlimited number of times (but only once per roll).
- The Fair Folk: In AD&D, it was suggested that halflings were actually a branch of the brownie family who had chosen to openly live amongst mortals, which caused them to lose most of their fairy magic. This origin was forgotten and has never resurfaced.
- Hobbits: Explicitly called such in their earliest appearance. A later reprint changed the name to Halfling after it was discovered that the word "Hobbit" was copyrighted by Tolkien's notoriously litigious estate. Halflings are still quite similar to their inspiration, but have shifted in flavor over the years to something somewhat more unique.
- In AD&D, halflings consisted of three subraces; hairfoots, stouts and tallfellows, which were the literal translations of Tolkien's three hobbit breeds: harfoots, stoors and fallohides. Hairfoots were "classic" hobbits, being docile, pastoral, laidback and prone to being rather rotund. Stouts were said to be the result of interbreeding between halflings and dwarves, making them stronger, hardier, more assertive and better equipped to navigate underground. Tallfellows were "suspiciously elven" halflings, with elf-like stealth and keen senses.
- Athasian halflings diverged drastically from standard second edition halflings: instead of being the chubby, stocky and round-faced Hobbit-knockoffs, they were fragile and slender and had humanlike but very young-looking faces (and apart from their height nad nothing in common with Tolkien's creations). Like with the dwarves, with the third edition the standard halflings physically became a lot more like their Athasian versions.
- 3e dumped the three subraces entirely and instead presented a new race, the Lightfoot, which was effectively a cross between a hairfoot and a kender; whilst still valuing their creature comforts, lightfoots are much more adventurous than hairfoots. This trait is particularly exemplified amongst the lightfoots of the Nentir Vale setting.
- Faerun has the strongheart halflings, which fulfill the "closer to home" idea. They also generally trend towards Jack-of-All-Stats.
- 5th edition brought back the hairfoot under the lightfoot's name, and also revived the stout subrace. However, their roles have been swapped; the Lightfoot Halflings are the adventurous ones, while the stout halflings prefer to stay close to home.
- Ghostwise halflings are isolationist forest-dwelling native to the Forgotten Realms, unique for both their power of telepathy and their affinity for taming animals.
- The obscure Furchin are a halfling breed native to a polar planet, and were introduced in Spelljammer.
- Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid: Stouts are explicitly half-halfling and half-dwarf. Whether or not Tallfellows are likewise part-elven is never explicitly mentioned.
- Third-party setting Midnight is home to Elflings, which are elf/halfling hybrids.
- Played with in one 3rd edition sourcebooknote , where a possible origin for humanity in the D&D world is given as being the offspring of a particularly lustful and greedy halfling woman who married her two suitors (one dwarf, one elf) simultaneously, only for the gods to punish her by making her twin offspring combine traits from all three parents.
- Muscles Are Meaningful: Their small stature, and relative lack of muscular strength compared to bigger races, makes them unsuitable to strength-based classes. Heck, they're outright unable to wield Heavy weapons (outside of special small variants that have the damage potential of one-handed weaponry).
The human race, simple adapted to life in the D&D multiverse.
- Absurdly High Level Cap: In early editions, the only unique trait of humans was that they could keep leveling up forever. In most games, the party would never even reach the point where this would come in handy.
- The Everyman: Humanity's traditional "hat" in D&D is being generic, either having no special traits in their genes or culture or being so diverse that any kind of person could pop up in their ranks.
- Explosive Breeder: Compared to just about every other major humanoid race, humans reach maturity quickly and are considerably more fertile. The result is that they're consistently the most numerous civilized race.
- Half-Human Hybrid: They're known to generate these. It's a common joke that the real human hat is being willing to sleep with anything.
- Humans Are Average: Humans usually have average stat bonuses, making them able to excel at any class.
- Humans Are Special: 5th Edition's variant humans, representing how a human can choose to specialize in something they really put their mind to. By only taking +1 to two stats, the PC can learn a feat (serving as an expertise) at level 1. Some feats even have a +1 to its related stat, making variant humans the only race that can have +2 to wisdom at level 1. You also get a proficiency bonus, which is just icing on the cake.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Most humans have equal stats all around, and the non-variant human gets a +1 to every ability score in 5e.
- Master of All: About half of the time, they have abilities that are pretty much universally handy for any class and often further any build you might be working towards (usually extra skills and feats).
- Master of None: The other half of the time, they have either no unique abilities or abilities that are so well-rounded they don't excel at anything.
Resembling dwarves in most physical aspects, gnomes lack the rugged warrior nature and love of metalwork of their potential kinsfolk. Instead, they are more interested in the arcane and in nature, traits that are more akin to the elves. Like halflings, they are a bucolic and friendly people who mostly enjoy a quiet life, although gnomes are more intellectually inclined and tend to have more of a mischievous streak; a love of practical jokes is a common trait for gnomes.
- Master of Illusion: This is the iconic magical style for gnomes, and in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons they actually couldn't study any other kind of magic.
- Motor Mouth: This is a standard trait for Krynnish Tinker Gnomes, who are said to have the remarkable ability to speak and listen at the same time. They can go for ages without stopping. It's sometimes considered a more general gnomish trait as well.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: D&D gnomes are actually based on mythological dwarves from Germanic, Swedish and other European myths, hence their fundamentally dwarf-like appearance being contrasted by a friendly, peasant-like attitude and a knack for magic.
- Our Gnomes Are Weirder: There are many, many different subraces of gnome, each of which puts its own unique spin on the trope.
- The common "Rock Gnome" is essentially a hybrid of dwarf and elf; skilled crafters with a knack for machinery, they're also naturally adept at magic, and are particularly gifted in the arts of illusions. Friendly and cheerful, they love to work hard and play hard and are especially infamous for their love of practical jokes.
- Forest Gnomes are rarer than Rock Gnomes and more solitary. They're closer to nature and have a natural affinity for druidic magic as a result of that.
- Deep Gnomes, or "Svirfneblin" in their own tongue, are grim and humorless gem-obsessed miners who inhabit the depths of the Underdark. They're notable as the only "deep humanoid" race who aren't evil by default.
- River Gnomes, from a single issue of Dragon Magazine, are essentially the waterway-dwelling equivalents to Forest Gnomes.
- Arcane Gnomes, hailing from the same issue as River Gnomes, are a Rock Gnome offshoot who have forsaken their traditional lifestyle to focus on mastering the arts of magic as a whole. They're an urbanized species and live in cities, trading their traditional abilities to speak to animals for a greater affinity for magic items and cantrips.
- The Krynnish Tinker Gnomes, or "Minoi", are essentially Rock Gnomes with no magical talent, a fixation on science, and divinely cursed to be Bungling Inventors with a Goldbergian design fetish. Their more obscure relatives, the Gnomoi, are gnomes who have broken this curse and can create sane, functional, minimalistic devices — which causes their cursed kin to look down on them and pity them, even as the Gnomoi in return think of the Minoi as dullards who need to be carefully managed for their own good. Gnomoi are either known as "Thinker Gnomes" or "Mad Gnomes", depending on whether you ask a Minoi or anyone else.
- Mystara is home to both Rock Gnomes, which are locally called Earth Gnomes, and Sky Gnomes, which are essentially a crossbreed between Arcane Gnomes and Thinker Gnomes. Sky Gnomes are masters of magitek, to the point that their homeland is a flying city they built themselves, complete with magic-powered anti-aircraft guns and biplanes to defend it, all using magic wand-based analogs to guns.
The result of interbreeding between humans and elves, half-elves mostly favor their human side, with their elven heritage shining through in slightly pointed ears, the occasional inhuman hair or eye color, a heightened affinity for magic or increased charisma, and increased longevity compared to their human parents, although inferior to that of their elven parents.
- Child by Rape: It's not the presumed default origin for them, but several settings include the presumption that it happens. Tanis Half-Elven of Krynn is the most iconic example of a rape-fathered half-elf.
- Jack-of-All-Trades: They are very good skill monkeys, being able to become proficient in many types of skills.
- The Social Expert: They're excellent diplomats, as they're somewhere in-between elves and humans in terms of personality. Others generally think of elves as flighty or arrogant, while they think of humans as boorish or immature. Half-elves lack either of these traits, but they do retain their parent's positive traits. This means that they're generally well-liked by everyone, even if they're met with glances and whispers behind their back. They can nearly always defuse tension, the exception being conflict between elves and humans, as both sides accuse the half-elf of favoring the other. Mechanically, this manifests in bonuses to their diplomatic skills.
- True-Breeding Hybrid: In Eberron, half-elves are typically born to other half-elves and are considered a distinct race rather than hybrids in the strict sense; in most cases, their purebred human and elf ancestors were several generations ago. There are even two Dragonmarked Houses composed of half-elves.
As their name suggests, these are the product of unions between humans and orcs. Traditionally, given the savagery and ugliness of orcs, who were also an extremely brutish and patriarchal race, this has led to rather dark inferences about the typical origin of your standard half-orc.
- Child by Rape: This is pretty much their traditional standard backstory, which has led to the race receiving some backlash amongst the fandom. 5th edition outright states this isn't actually all that common; most half-orcs are the product of mixed tribes of humans and orcs.
- When Eberron was created, creator Keith Baker seemed very determined to avert this trope hard. Most of the traditional "bad guy" races were made less evil, but Orcs underwent a full-blown HeelFace Turn, and The Shadow Marches were established as a land in which they lived and farmed with humans, producing plenty of Half-Orcs to serve as PCs.
- Critical Hit Class: 5th edition half-orcs get the Savage Attacks feature, which lets them roll an extra damage die on critical hits with melee weapons.
- I Can Still Fight!: 5th edition half-orcs have the Relentless Endurance feature, leaving them with 1hp after an attack that would otherwise knock them unconscious.
- Last Chance Hit Point: 5th edition half-orcs can use their Relentless Endurance feature to remain standing with 1 hit point after taking damage that would normally reduce them to 0 once per long rest.
- Multiple-Choice Past: In 4th edition, to try and shake up the lack of appeal for the race that the writers felt stemmed from their standard origin being Child by Rape, half-orcs were presented as both a fully-fledged race in their own right and with multiple possible origins. These include widespread, consensual carnal unions between human and orc tribes, a superior race created by Gruumsh from orcish or human stock intended to supplant the old orcs, humans mutated by Gruumsh's blood, being created by Kord as a dedicated worshipper race, and being magically engineered as a Slave Race by the hobgoblins.
- Token Evil Teammate: Their defining hat among the iconic races; in the first three editions, before drow or full-fledged support for Monster Adventurers is given out, half-orcs are always present to provide an option for "monstrous" player characters. 4th and 5th edition shook up this paradigm, with the former featuring tieflings and dragonborn in the half-orc's place and the latter providing drow, tieflings, and dragonborn alongside half-orcs.
Originating in the Planescape setting, tieflings have slightly different backstories depending on whether you use the Great Wheel cosmologynote or the World Axis cosmologynote .
In the Great Wheel, tieflings are a specific strain of "planetouched"—a term used for individuals whose ancestry combines both mortal races and the denizens of the Outer Planes—whose heritage contains the fiends of the Lower Planes. This gives them a wide variety of deformities and strange supernatural traits, and they are often considered tainted by their bloodline. In Sigil, they tend to fulfill a social role equivalent to that of half-orcs on the Prime Material, and debuted in the Planescape campaign boxed set, alongside the Bariaur and the Githzerai. Tieflings are perhaps the most wide-spread of the planetouched strains, because fiends are the most likely of outsiders to interact with mortals in a carnal way. This only increased when editions further emphasized that tieflings could have entirely non-sexual origins, including being the result of one parent making a Deal with the Devil, or being cursed, or practicing Black Magic, or conceiving them in an area tainted by the presence of a long-dead fiend...
In the World Axis, tieflings of the Nentir Vale are the descendants of the nobility of a fallen human empire named Bael Turath, who turned to diabolism to reverse the decline of their empire. The dark pacts they swore mutated the nobility and their children forever after into bearing a devilish appearance. Bael Turath was destroyed in an apocalyptic struggle with the dragonborn empire of Arkhosia, scattering its people.
- Big Red Devil: Tieflings of the Nentir Vale are known for their red skin, prominent horns, Monochromatic Eyes and serpentine tails, which give them a strongly diabolic mien.
- Casting a Shadow: 3rd and 5th edition tieflings can innately cast the darkness spell.
- Damage Reduction: Tieflings innately resist certain damage types. Which ones depend on the edition: 2e tieflings have bonuses to saves against electricity, fire, and poison damage, and take half damage from cold; 3e tieflings have a mild resistance to cold, electricity, and fire; and 4th and 5th edition tieflings greatly resist fire damage.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Tieflings do tend to be evil, but a lot of that is due to people pushing them to evil rather than something In the Blood. Many tieflings are perfectly decent people, and the Nentir Vale tieflings, in particular, have no particular stigma against them.
- Deal with the Devil: In 4th edition, they're descended from the nobles of an ancient human empire who made pacts with Hell in exchange for everlasting rule.
- Evil Is Cool: Much like the Drow, Tieflings are popular amongst those players who like playing characters with a bit of a darker edge. So much so, that from 4th edition onward they've become playable from the first player's handbook.
- Fantastic Racism: They're often on the receiving end of this, as many people fear and distrust them due to their demonic appearance and heritage.
- Horned Humanoid: Prior to 4th edition, horns were one of the more common mutations amongst tieflings. Past 4th edition, they're universally depicted with horns in their artwork.
- Horny Devil: With their racial bonus to Charisma and official artwork tending to emphasize the attractiveness of tiefling females, combined with allusions to succubus and incubus ancestry, it's not uncommon for fans to portray tieflings as very sexually active, if not using their "fiendish allure" to be sexually provocative.
- Informed Attribute: Prior to 4th edition, whilst stated in their fluff to be extremely diverse in their possible appearance, almost all of their artwork tended to portray them as humans with one or more of the following traits: horns, hooves, claws, or tails. This ultimately led to their visual redesign in 4th edition.
- The Brimstone Angels book series provided a justification for this: A group of Tieflings known as the "Toril Thirteen" made a deal with Asmodeus that resulted in all new Tieflings born being his progeny, regardless of their bloodline's actual origin.
- Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid: Tieflings by default are presumed to be of human origin, but there are tiefling analogues with a different heritage. Tanarukks are the orcish equivalent of tieflings, descended from a demon-led Super Breeding Program with orc slaves. Fey'ri are the elvish equivalent to tieflings, descended from a corrupt elven house that turned to demonology and began extensively interbreeding with summoned demons.
- Playing with Fire: 4th and 5th edition tieflings are naturally resistant to fire damage, and can retaliate against an attacker by blasting them with hellfire.
- Then Let Me Be Evil: It's commonly noted that tieflings tend to turn to evil because people assume their ancestry makes them evil and mistreat them until they ultimately snap.
- True-Breeding Hybrid: In some editions — chiefly 3rd and earlier — tieflings originated from the direct interbreeding of humans and various types of fiends, but they became a self-sustaining, if somewhat uncommon, race long in the past, and are exclusively born to tiefling parents in the modern day. This is averted in other editions, where they're usually descended from humans who became affected by fiendish influences in other ways.
The name "dragonborn" can refer to two distinct races, which are actually not related to each other.
The Dragonborn of Bahamut are an artifical race introduced in the 3rd edition sourcebook "Races of the Dragon", described as worshippers of Bahamut who underwent a magical ritual that permanently transformed them into a sterile Draconic Humanoid version of themselves.
"True" dragonborn were invented in 4th edition, before making it into 5th edition, and have different backstories depending on which setting you look at. In the Nentir Vale, they are the creation of the fallen dragon god Io, who once dwelled in a mighty empire called Arkhosia, which was ruled over by clans of both metallic and chromatic dragons. Arkhosia was annihilated in a devastating war with the tiefling empire of Bael Turath, and the dragonborn have been nomads ever since—in no small part because some nations, such as the human empire of Nerath, forbid them from gathering in numbers for fear of their strength. In the Forgotten Realms, dragonborn were a slave race created by the dragons of Abeil, who turned against their masters and managed to survive in heavily defended cloisters; some of these strongholds were transposed to Toril during the Spellplague, leaving the stranded dragonborn to find a new way of life—presumably, at least some of these were left behind following the Second Sundering that broke the two worlds apart again. In Eberron, dragonborn are simply a vassal race of the dragons of Argonnessen.
- Asexuality: The Dragonborn of Bahamut. The Platinum Dragon thought it abhorrent to breed creatures just to oppose the creations of Tiamat. Instead he sought out humanoids of any non-draconic race who were in life, opposed to his wicked sister. In becoming a true child of Bahamut, the Dragonborn gives up everything, race, ethnicity, they become sterile and asexual themselves, knowing only the unconditional love of their adopted father.
- Breath Weapon: The defining attribute of Fourth Edition's Dragonborn, and subsequently 5th edition. Dragonborn possess the ability to exhale destructive gouts of flame, frost, venom, acid or lightning, and in 4th edition, they had multiple racial feats that modified their breath weapon, from being able to turn it from a gout into a fireball-style explosive projectile to inflicting multiple types of damage simultaneously.
- Damage Reduction: A variant; dragonborn have an inherent ability to resist one form of elemental damage, which is always the same type that they use for their breath weapon.
- Draconic Humanoid: Dragonborn literally look like humanoid dragons, and were in fact designed to be a core-race, playable-from-1st-level equivalent to the various other draconic humanoids that had shown up in past editions—specifically, the dragonkin of the Forgotten Realms, draconians of Dragonlance, half-dragons of Council Of Wyrms and dray of Dark Sun. They're actually nor even the first playable Draconic Humanoid race; half-dragons and dray debuted as playable races in AD&D 2nd edition, and both draconians and dragonkin were Promoted to Playable in 3rd edition.
- God Is Displeased: No Dragonborn child of Bahamut may do evil in his service. The Platinum dragon is forgiving toward his adopted children, but if they repeatedly use immoral methods against the servants of Tiamat, they can expect warnings from the Aspects of their father. If they still fail to atone, Bahamut will strip them of all his powers and blessings.
- Long-Lived: While the Dragonborn of Bahamut can live up to hundreds of years, many often die young, opposing the evil schemes of Tiamat.
- Magic Knight: In the Nentir Vale, dragonborn are actually considered prominent practitioners of both the Swordmage class and the Bladesinger class. The human nation of Rethmil, which protects itself with an elite army made up of Swordmages and Bladesingers, actually learned these arts from its time as a vassal-state of the dragonborn of Arkhosia.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: With the Dragon Fear feat, dragonborn can convert their breath attack into a fearsome roar, frightening everyone around them.
- Multiple-Choice Past: As was standard for many of the "non-core" races in 4th edition, the Dragonborn of the Nentir Vale had many possible origins presented for their race prior to the rise and fall of Arkhosia, but nothing definitive.
- Name's the Same: Originally, a race called the dragonborn appeared in 3rd edition's Races of the Dragon sourcebook; these were humanoid worshippers of Bahamut who had chosen to undergo a divine metamorphosis into Draconic Humanoid versions of themselves in order to better oppose Tiamat. The Nentir Vale dragonborn of 4th edition has absolutely nothing in common with these dragonborn besides being a Draconic Humanoid, and the race has effectively replaced its 3e namesake.
- Nonindicative Name: Despite their name, dragonborn are not directly related to dragons, at least not in the sense of being born from them in the way that the half-dragons of earlier editions were. The three most common creation myths of their people is that they were created from lesser versions of the same spirits that Io used to create the first dragons, that they spontaneously manifested from the blood spilled when Io was slain, or that they were Io's original creations and dragons were Living Weapons created in their image in the Dawn War. 5th edition muddles the issue by explicitly naming one of the dragonborn's racial traits "Draconic Ancestry" and tying their breath weapon directly to one of the iconic Chromatic or Metallic Dragons, in essence allowing dragonborn to serve as "legal" Half-Dragon PCs.
- Religious Bruiser: Dragonborn have a strong tendency to be devoutly religious; the 3e dragonborn were literally created from worshipers of Bahamut and so were usually clerics or paladins, whilst in 4e they were naturally devout by inclination and with strong traditions of worshiping Bahamut and Tiamat. Their combination of Strength and Charisma bonuses also made 4e dragonborn mechanically optimized for the paladin class, encouraging this portrayal. In the Forgotten Realms, however, they're typically Nay Theists — religion reminds them too much of slavery. However, dragonborn who are religious are devoutly so.
- Semi-Divine: The dragonborn children of Bahamut are a unique race in that they are not born - they are reborn through the elected love and grace of the good dragon god himself, bearing his likeness and despite not being dragons, deemed worthy of being called his true children.
- Sexy Dimorphism: Female dragonborn are lithe and have breasts. Justified in-universe as the dragonborn being monotreme-like mammals; it's true that real-life monotremes don't have breasts, but at the same time, they're not sapient humanoids either.
- Slave Race: In the Forgotten Realms, dragonborn hail from Abeir, not Toril, where they toiled as slaves to the dragons that lived there.
- The Chosen Many: Bahamut politely asks many non-draconic people throughout their lives if they want to become remade in his image to fight the forces of Tiamat. Those who accept and understand what they are surrendering, are divinely transformed into Draconic Humanoid form bearing resemblance to the Platinum Dragon deity.
- Wolverine Claws: While dragonborn naturally have talons, the Dragon Hide feat gives them retractable claws that they can use in combat.
Aasimar are the second of the three major strains of "planetouched", individuals whose ancestry combines mortal humanoids with the creatures of the Outer Planes. Descending from the various Celestial races, the D&D equivalent of Angels, they are the polar opposites of their more numerous tiefling cousins. They debuted in the Planescape sourcebook "The Planeswalker's Handbook", several years after tieflings made their debut with the setting proper.
- Good Counterpart: They're an In-Universe case of this; they're literally the exact same thing as tieflings, humanoids with outsider ancestry, but their ancestors were the angelic Celestials rather than fiends.
- Good Is Not Nice:: Even a good aasimar is not necessarily a sweet-heart. Celestials include proud warriors and lethal soldiers as well as healers and guardians.
- Guardian Angel: The aasimar's main gimmick in Fifth Edition (since Wizards feels that in previous editions they've struggled with a lack of identity) is that their parents are a lot more hands-on then tieflings' are, and are more than willing to interfere in their lives to encourage that they fulfill their destiny.
- Light Is Not Good: Though Aasimar are commonly good-aligned, they are just as capable of being evil as tieflings are of being good.
- True-Breeding Hybrid: In 3rd edition and earlier, aasimar descend from the direct interbreeding of humans and celestials, but they became a self-sustaining, if somewhat uncommon, race long in the past, and are exclusively born to aasimar parents in the modern day.
The last of the three major "planetouched" strains, and the least common, genasi are the descendants of mortals and elemental creatures. Of all the planetouched, they are the most likely to be produced due to magical tinkering rather than carnal acts, since elementals are typically uninterested in such things. In 5th edition, they are instead presented as the result of mating between mortals and genies. Like aasimar, genasi debuted in the Planescape sourcebook "The Planeswalker's Handbook", several years after tieflings made their debut with the setting proper.
- Elemental Embodiment: Genasi are humanoids with elemental heritage, similar to the tieflings' demonic ancestry or the aasimars' angelic blood.
- Elemental Hair: Genasi hair tends to match their elemental type, such as red, fiery hair for fire genasi.
- Flaming Hair: Fire genasi may sometimes have flames for hair.
- Our Genies Are Different: Although genasi can be descended from many kinds of elemental creatures, genies tend to be the most common progenitors.
- True-Breeding Hybrid: The origins of the genasi eventually lie in the direct interbreeding of humans with genies and other types of elemental, but they became a self-sustaining, if somewhat uncommon, race long in the past. In the various settings' modern day, genasi are typically the children of other genasi. Unlike other planetouched races, the genasi carry this ancestry over into 4e.
- Volcanic Veins: In 4th Edition and beyond, they have vein-like markings on their bodies that glow with elemental power, called szuldar.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Depending on the Writer. Originally, it was played entirely straight, but in later tie-in books, it is often Subverted.
- Drow as a whole are often depicted as one of the most evil races, but individuals have been known to turn away from their evil culture and be quite heroic.
- Although the canonical Drow alignment is indeed Chaotic Evil in most versions, it has sometimes been questioned whether followers of Lolth are actually chaotic. They are opportunistic, indeed, but the Spider Queen requires so much submission that it is considered neutral evil to serve her as interpreted by the writers of 5th Edition. Though even then, Lolth herself is quite chaotic evil.
- Animal Motifs: They drow are very strongly associated with spiders — the spider is the sacred animal of their goddess, and they're known to, for reasons that change between editions, turn each other into spider-bodied driders. Eberron's drow are associated with scorpions instead.
- Beneath the Earth: They almost always live in the deep, sprawling cave systems of the Underdark far beneath the earth, or in whichever underworld replaces it in a given setting.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: They are fond of treachery to the point that their own Chaotic Evil goddess has to tell them to tone it down sometimes.
- Dark Is Evil: The Drow are black-skinned evil elves who live in the darkness of the underworld, have racial magical abilities based on darkness and shadow, and worship the dark gods.
- Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: The drow's eyesight is very sensitive, in adaptation to the gloom of their subterranean homes and the dim lighting of their cities. As a result, they're very vulnerable to bright light — sunlight, especially, they find blinding and painful.
- Evil Counterpart Race: Traditionally, they've been this to surface-dwelling elves, replacing their benevolence with cruelty, originating as outcast elves who turned to evil and still maintaining a deep hatred of surface elves.
- Evil Is Cool: Drow have always been incredibly popular amongst the D&D fanbase, and have been a playable race in every edition, starting with 1985's Unearthed Arcana for AD&D 1st edition through to being in the Player's Handbook for 5th edition.
- Lady Land: Because of Lolth's theocracy, most drow societies are quite stunningly misandric, to the point that every third living son born to a drow mother is traditionally offered up as a Human Sacrifice, and male drow can be killed by females on a whim. Exceptionally, there are a few subcultures that defy this, including cities ruled by male wizards.
- Our Elves Are Better: The archetypal dark elves — gray- or charcoal-skinned, white-haired, underground-dwelling, twice as arrogant as their surface relatives and part of a profoundly evil and corrupt society.
- Religion of Evil: Drow primarily worship Lolth, the Chaotic Evil goddess of darkness, spiders and strife, who encourages treachery and murder amongst her followers and who demands Human Sacrifices in her honor. Whilst she has the absolute authority over drow society, the drow also secretly pay homage to a host of other evil deities:
- Ghaunadar, god of slimes, outcasts and hatred, who encourages terrorist tactics to overthrow Lolth.
- Keptolo, god of seduction, debauchery, opportunism and flattery, patron god of male drow, who encourages them to manipulate their females and betray each other to get ahead.
- Kiaransalee, goddess of necromancy, slavery and vengeance, who encourages Disproportionate Retribution and abusive behavior.
- Malyk, god of Wild Magic and rebellion, whose adherents seek to master sorcery to overthrow Lolth's reign.
- Selvetarm, god of war, an insane berserker whose shattered mind means that Lolth keeps him imprisoned until needed, lest he slay her.
- Vhaeraun, god of thievery and rebellion, who seeks to overthrow Lolth and force equality on the drow so they can use their unity to conquer the world.
- Zinzerena, goddess of chaos, assassination, illusion and humiliation, who encourages her faithful to prey on others to get ahead.
A Human Subspecies descended from a Slave Race created by the illithids and which successfully revolted against them, githzerai are the descendants of a branch of the race that chose to give up warmongering once they were freed and begin concentrating on a race-wide pursuit of personal enlightenment.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: Their culture resonates strongly with the precepts of the Monk class, and githzerai are considered to make iconic D&D monks, much like halfling rogues, elf wizards, dwarf fighters and orc barbarians. Ironically, they only gained this trait in 3rd edition; in AD&D, they were more associated with the Magic Knight class.
- Berserk Button: They hate illithids, and are extremely hostile to the githyanki as well, although they will always choose to confront an illithid over a githyanki.
- Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Downplayed; despite their mammalian ancestry and appearance, githzerai canonically reproduce by laying eggs.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- When initially introduced into the game, githzerai were a very Chaos-aligned race, with strong anarchistic leanings and a drive for independence and freedom above all else. After the popularity of the very Lawful natured Dak'kon in Planescape: Torment, and the increased association of the Monk class with the Lawful alignment, the race was reflavored to be more strictly Lawful in nature.
- They also originally had their own tyrannical wizard-king and self-proclaimed god, a mirror to Vlaakith CLVII, who was retconned out of the lore and replaced with Zerthimon, who was originally a purely legendary character.
- Their appearances changed remarkably; initially, they looked almost perfectly human, but were redesigned to more closely resemble githyanki in 3rd edition.
- Good Counterpart: To the githyanki; githzerai chose to seek a spiritual awakening to recover from their experiences as a Slave Race, whilst the githyanki chose to declare war on all other races so none would ever be strong enough to enslave them again.
- Human Subspecies: The githzerai are actually descended from human beings, mutated by a combination of ancient illithid flesh-crafting and their generations spent in either Limbo or the Elemental Chaos, depending on your choice of cosmology.
- Magic Knight: Much like their githyanki kin, githzerai have a strong tradition of multiclassed fighter/wizards, which they refer to as Zerths.
- Meaningful Name: Githzerai means "Those Who Spurn Gith" in their own tongue, reinforcing the ancient split that divided their people.
- Naytheist: A variation on the trope. The githzerai acknowledge the deities as valid powers, but do not worship them, instead preferring to seek a more philosophical/secular form of freedom. It's not as intense as the githyanki's loathing of the gods as oppressors, but there are definite similarities.
- Psychic Powers: All githzerai possess potent psionic abilities, a result of the mutations they underwent at illithid hands.
- Reconcile the Bitter Foes: There is a secret underground society amongst both the githyanki and the githzerai dedicated to reconciling their races, called the Shasal Khou.
- Reimagining the Artifact: Their homeland remains Limbo, even after they stopped being Chaotic. This was changed to them being there because they see it as the ultimate test to their tradition — and it doesn't hurt that the place is pretty much impregnable.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Githzerai share the same features as githyanki, namely yellow skin, elf-like ears, and somewhat skeletal faces, with sunken eyes and flattened noses that are more nasal slits than anything. Indeed, many wouldn't be able to tell the two apart at a casual glance.
- Slave Race: Their ancestors were humans enslaved by the illithids for labor and food.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Goliath culture revolves around competition; they love to test their might and show off how skilled they are, but they believe strongly in "fair play". Of course, just what defines "fair" often varies from tribe to tribe.
- The Big Guy: Goliaths are essentially a Good Counterpart to the common Ogre race, being notably bigger, stronger and tougher than almost any other standard player character race in the game.
- Our Giants Are Bigger: Goliaths are small compared to other giants, being only around 7-8 feet in height. However, they are one of the largest of the races available to player characters; able to use larger weapons compared to the others.
- Perilous Old Fool: A dark side of the competitive nature of goliaths is that they have very little sympathy for the weak; you keep up, or you die. A goliath crippled by injury, or one slowing down with age, is forced to push itself to keep up with the rest of the tribe, or it will be abandoned to die. This gives them an extremely high mortality rate, and they rarely die of old age.
- Progressively Prettier: When introduced in 3rd edition, goliaths were, to put it bluntly, quite ugly, with mishappen, lumpy frames that looked more like they'd been crudely carved from rock. From 4th edition onwards, they became more human looking. Somewhat downplayed, as 3e artwork was in general known for being rather poor quality.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: A variation; an analogous race called the Aventi appeared in the 3.5 sourcebook "Stormwrack", who are basically tritons in everything but name, but WoTC has the rights to both races.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: In Volo's Guide to Monsters, while the appearance of the race is not given in the text, they're drawn with blue skin and green hair.
- Apparently Human Merfolk: They've evolved into this appearance over the editions; having first appeared as merfolk with two tails in lieu of legs, they swiftly mutated into resembling humans with webbed appendages and gills.
- Good Is Not Nice: A in-universe quote about them in In Volo's Guide to Monsters, says they are as haughty as stereotypical elves but even worse for their greater isolation. Then it goes on to say they spend most of their time slaying horrors of the deep out of a sense of duty to protect others.
- Heavy Worlder: Accustomed as they are to the crushing pressure of the deep sea, they get racial bonuses to strength.
- Making a Splash: They learn several water-based spells as racial abilities.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: They're cousins to the "normal" merfolk, but far better suited for adventuring out of the water.
- Prongs of Poseidon: The standard weapon for a triton is a trident. Imagine that.
HengeyokaiNot so much one race as many, the hengeyokai are a collection of magical animals that can assume partially or wholely humanoid form. Introduced in AD&D 1st edition's "Oriental Adventures", they were updated to 2nd edition when Kara-tur was updated & transferred from the Greyhawk setting to the Forgotten Realms setting. In 3rd edition, they appeared in the early sourcebook "Oriental Adventures" (which used Rokugan instead of Kara-tur). In 4th edition, they appeared in issue #404 of Dragon tied into Kara-tur, although their existence in the Nentir Vale was also addressed.
- The Fair Folk: In 4th edition, they're considered a Fey type creature; the Nentir Vale version is even stated to have originated in the Feywild alongside the gnomes and elves.
- Humanity Ensues: Hengeyokai are animals who have attained sapience and the ability to transform into humanoid forms.
- Kitsune: The "Fox" subrace for hengeyokai, who have appeared in every single edition.
- Loads and Loads of Races: The hengeyokai "race" has consisted of myriad subraces, depending on the edition:
- In first edition, the hengeyokai consisted of Carp, Cat, Crab, Crane, Dog, Drake, Fox, Hare, Monkey, Raccoon Dog, Rat and Sparrow.
- In second edition, all of the aforementioned races returned, but Dragon #266 added the Badger, Dolphin, Falcon, Frog, Lizard, Lynx, Octopus, Owl, Panda, Turtle and Weasel.
- In third edition, the subraces were listed as Badger, Carp, Cat, Crab, Crane, Dog, Fox, Hare, Monkey, Raccoon Dog, Rat, Sparrow and Weasel.
- In fourth edition, the subraces were changed again to Badger, Carp, Cat, Crab, Crane, Dog, Fox, Hare, Monkey, Raccoon Dog, Rat and Sparrow.
- Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie: Due to the way racial types are handled in 4th edition, hengeyokai there are considered to be "Humanoids", "Magical Beasts", "Shapechangers" and "Fey" all at the same time.
- Our Werebeasts Are Different: They're vaguely fey-ish animals who have the ability to assume partially or wholly humanoid form. In 3rd and 4th edition, they even have the Shapechanger racial type, which is shared with werebeasts.
- Partial Transformation: The hengeyokai's "hybrid" form, which is visibly animal-based, but walks upright and can wield weapons.
- Super Speed: Downplayed, but Hare hengeyokai tend to be much faster than normal humans are. In 4th edition, all hengeyokai are quicker than humans, but Hare hengeyokai are even faster still.
- Tanuki: Appears in every edition as the "Raccoon Dog" subrace. Strangely, in AD&D, they had a mandated alignment of "Any Evil", which stands quite contrasted to the more common depiction of tanuki as friendly, affable tricksters and lovable oafs.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Their iconic — and only major — racial ability is to shift their bodies on command, such as for Partial Transformation.
- War Refugees: In the Nentir Vale, hengeyokai were originally slaves to the Fomorians and used as spies & saboteurs against the elves. Although the hengeyokai ultimately escaped their masters, the elves never trusted them, and began a pogrom of extermination. Most hengeyokai today fled to the mortal world to avoid being killed just for their race.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: A common complaint about the race is that, as a whole, the hengeyokai are extremely "one trick pony"; their characteristics and traits are defined exclusively by their ability to assume a specific animal form, with at most marginal traits outside of that form. As the forms they assume are almost universally small and innocuous, at best their animal form makes them a little more adept at sneaking around. Third edition attempted to make the hybrid forms more useful than just being cosmetic reskins of the human form, but the bonuses attached to each subrace were extremely marginal and often situational — rat hengeyokai getting a +4 bonus on checks made to hide, for example. It hasn't gone unnoticed that the Pathfinder kitsune is more mechanically interesting and powerful than the D&D fox hengeyokai.
- Youkai: Gygax and Zeb Cook not only based the race off of crudely conglomerating various shapeshifting animals from Japanese and Chinese mythology, but literally named them by just sticking "henge" ("shapeshifter") and "youkai" together.
A race of humanoid tortoises, who originated in the setting of Mystara.
- Turtle Power: Tortles are bipedal turtles who are strong and wise. Their shells are a naturally tough armor and they can hide in their shell for more durability.
- Portmanteau: Tortle is a mashup of tortoise and turtle.
- We Are as Mayflies: Unlike real-life turtles and tortoises, tortles have very short lifespans, averaging 50 years.
A strange race of humanoids seemingly evolving from the children of dragon-blooded sorcerers, spellscales have only appeared in 3rd edition's "Races of the Dragon" so far. The race is infamous for its mercurial temperament and whimsical nature, with each spellscale tending to do whatever it feels like at any given moment, making them highly unreliable and unpredictable.
- Draconic Humanoid: Downplayed. Spellscales are humanoids with draconic heritage, but in terms of appearance look more like elves with scaly skin and tiny claws—possibly an adaptation of the original appearance of the half-dragon.
- Witch Species: Spellscales are all born to powerful sorcerers, however distantly, and in return have a very strong racial proclivity for the sorcerer's arts.
A race of patagia-equipped sapient ringtailed lemurs, which first debuted on the Savage Coast of Mystara and then spread to the rest of the D&D multiverse, predominantly Greyhawk, via their colonies on the Isle of Dread. They live a primitive lifestyle as hunter-gatherers with a Stone Age level of technology.
- Fantastic Racism: Phanatons love to eat bugs, and regard giant spiders as a delicacy. Aranea are a race of sapient giant spiders. Needless to say, the two hate each other, striving to kill (and preferably eat) each other wherever they possibly can.
- Intelligent Gerbil: Aside from their prehensile digits, phanatons actually don't look humanoid in the slightest.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: In-universe, phanatons are actually described as a mishmash of raccoon (the head and tail), monkey (body shape, four limbs ending in prehensile appendages), and flying squirrel (patagia—flaps of skin linking each arm and leg that act as primitive gliding wings). The first two elements were probably more because few people knew what a ringtailed lemur was at the time when they were made, with "raccoon-monkey" being a fairly accurate description, but even then, the fact they have patagia still qualifies them.
A peaceful and quite race of humanoid tree frogs. They live a primitive lifestyle as hunter-gatherers with a Stone Age level of technology.
- Frog Men: They're humanoid tree frogs.
- Origin: Forgotten Realms
Avian humanoids native to high mountain peaks. The aarakocra existed as a non-playable race for most of the setting's history, but became a player option in 5th edition.
- Bird People: They're far more on the bird side than the humanoid side, being essentially bipedal birds with separate arms and wings; before fifth edition they had only four limbs, with claws on their wings instead of separate arms and wings. Appearance-wise, they tend to resemble both parrots and birds of prey.
- Matriarchy: The aarakocra of Coliar, one of the other planets in Toril's solar system, live in a matriarchal democracy where women are traditionally chosen as rulers under the reasoning that they're more emotionally stable than men. Male aarakocra can theoretically be chosen as leaders, but this hasn't happened in 1,000 years.
- Promoted to Playable: They're made a playable race in 5th edition.
- Summon Magic: A group of five aarakocra can summon an air elemental by chanting and flying through an aerial dance for three minutes.
- Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: Averted in their appearance up to 4th edition, where they only have four limbs — their upper pair serves as both wings and arms — but in 5th they have distinct legs, arms and wings for a total of six limbs.
Rulers of Herath on the Savage Coast of Mystara, the Aranea are a race of shapeshifting giant spiders with a powerful affinity for magic.
- The Dreaded: On Mystara, the aranea are the source of many terrifying stories and legendarily evil. These stories are actually an In-Universe Old Shame to the aranea of the present day, who are... well, not nice but far from anywhere near that monstrous. It's one of the reasons they hide their existence.
- Eyes Are Mental: It's frequently noted that aranea in spider form can be distinguished from "normal" giant spiders by their eerily human-like eyes. Which says something about the kind of world that Mystara is where this is worth noting.
- Giant Spider: At four feet long and two feet wide, an aranea may be on the small scale of this as far as D&D goes, but that's still pretty healthy by real-world standards.
- The Magocracy: Aranea value intelligence and, especially, magic, so the most powerful mages rule their society. On Mystara, Herath is even formally titled "The Magocracy of Herath" for emphasis. In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, it was stated that all aranea Non Player Characters should have the spellcasting abilities of 3rd level wizards, whilst in 3e, they're born with the spellcasting prowess of a 3rd level sorcerer.
- Man Bites Man: Aranea still possess toxic venom glands, and can deliver lethally poisoned bites in combat if forced to.
- My Brain Is Big: In their spider form, aranea possess a distinctively engorged, hunch-like growth on their thorax, which holds their enlarged brain.
- Our Liches Are Different: There are two different kinds of aranea, born out of experiments in adapting the lich transformation ritual to themselves. Yeshom are a case of Gone Horribly Right, having transformed into inky Blob Monster versions of themselves who have driven absolutely insane — which is the last thing you want in a creature that can render you Deader Than Dead with a mere touch; even a Wish spell can't restore you to life! The less-homicidally crazy Arashaeem are weaker than the standard lich, but retain their shapeshifting abilities, looking like zombified versions of their former selves. They still hunger for flesh, and can weave silk impregnated with a paralytic venom.
- Our Werebeasts Are Different: Aranea are formally considered a kind of shapeshifter, and so are vulnerable to special attacks that specifically target shapeshifters. However, they have certain unique elements that particularly distinguish them.
- Firstly, they're "werebeast type" shapeshifters; this means they have a singular "human" form they develop at birth as well as a beast form, and can switch only between those forms. Further, they're triple-changers, with "human", "hybrid" and "beast" forms, in contrast to some werebeasts, who only have the human and beast forms.
- Secondly, they're "beastweres"; intelligent beasts that have the ability to assume human form, instead of the more conventional "human that turns into a beast". This is a small grouping of shapeshifters in D&D lore.
- Finally, their most unique trait is that their "human" form is not set by species. The "human form" of an aranea can actually be any Small or Medium humanoid, including not just humans, dwarves and elves, but also monstrous races like orcs, goblins, gnolls, and lizardfolk. And "human forms" don't run in families, so the child of two aranea with elven forms could be born with a gnollish form. This trait is completely unique to aranea; no other werebeast in D&D has this trait.
- Primal Fear: Being spiders who live in forest environments and spin their cities out of their silk, aranea do not like fire much. They have no particular weakness to it, but it scares them immensely; aranea almost never learn fire-based spells.
- Properly Paranoid: Those anti-aranea bigots planning on hunting them down with the handy "Identify Species" spell will find it doesn't work. Because the aranea created that spell, and made sure to make themselves exempt from its effects before disseminating it to the world.
- Retired Monster: The ancient aranea did some terrible things, like when they unintentionally reduced the wallara from a mighty civilization to scattered, wandering bands of Stone Age primitives, but they never actually meant to do any harm. The typical aranea alignment is Neutral, and they mostly just want to be left alone.
- Super Intelligence: Downplayed, but, in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, their minimum Intelligence score was 12 — for comparison, the human average was between 8 and 10 Intelligence.
- Origin: Planescape
Natives of the Plane of Ysgard, the Bariaur are centaur-like beings who possess the upper body of humanoids and the lower bodies of mountain sheep or goats.
- All There in the Manual: Very little information was provided about the bariaur in the original Planescape run; instead, their creator went on to write two sourcebooks all about them and made them freely available online, fleshing out their culture and their spirituality.
- Animal Gender-Bender: A small minority of females are born with horns like a ram, whilst an even smaller minority of males are born hornless.
- Gender-Restricted Ability: Cultural more than physical, but in bariaur society, only ewes (or hornless rams) practice magic, whilst rams practice martial combat.
- I Resemble That Remark!: Literally! Bariaur hate to be compared to centaurs, and regard it as quite insulting, but they share the exact same body structure, the same herbivorous appetite, and even many cultural traits.
- No Guy Wants an Amazon: Horned ewes are considered very unlucky and unappealing in bariaur culture, which actually drives many of them to study martial combat; they're outcasts anyway, so they may as well gain the strength to force others to respect them.
- Our Centaurs Are Different: They're extraplanar beings who resemble mountain sheep or goats with the torso of a humanoid being growing from where the head should be.
- Use Your Head: It goes without saying that horned bariaur can deliver killer headbutts, especially if they can build up ramming speed first.
- Origin: Nentir Vale
Angels from the Astral Sea who became so enamored with mortal life and the world they lived in that they chose to give up their connections to the heavenly realms. Now, they reincarnate over and over, roaming the world that they grew so fascinated with. As a playable race, the devas largely replace the aasimar following the shift from 3.5e to 4e.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: A variation; they're essentially this to the aasimars of earlier editions, but Wizards of the Coast owns the rights to both aasimar and to devas. They were created because WotC felt that the aasimars of old were rather lackluster in execution, being defined almost entirely by their status as the Good Counterpart to the tieflings. Ironically, their "Ecology" article in Dragon #374 brought up the theory that devas being able to have partly-angelic children with other races may make them something of a counterpart to the elementally-touched genasi.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Deva skin is two-toned, being comprised of a unique pattern of dark colors (hues of blue, violet, gray or black) and pale colors (white or pale gray), with either light or dark dominating and being offset by markings from the other. Their hair is usually either one of these colors or even two-toned, but occasionally is an entirely different color.
- Born-Again Immortality: While devas are usually reborn in adult bodies, they are sometimes reincarnated as infants instead.
- FaceHeel Turn: Devas are usually strongly Good-aligned, but those that fall to evil may be reincarnated as fiendish rakshasas.
- Immortal Procreation Clause: Zigzagged. Devas can and do have offspring through sexual encounters with mortals. However, their own numbers are fixed; aside from redeeming rakshasas, or having other angels make the pact with the Primal Spirits, the total number of devas can never increase. The offspring of devas are instead mortals of their other parent's race with a deva heritage, granting them the power to call upon the astral splendor of their souls.
- Monochromatic Eyes: Deva eyes are always a solid pale gray or white color, completely without iris or pupil.
- Our Angels Are Different: For all intents and purposes, devas are angelic beings incarnated in physical, humanoid bodies.
- Resurrective Immortality: Devas can be killed, but they don't stay dead. Instead, they ultimately come back in a new body at certain special spots, although this can take centuries and their past existence becomes nothing but vague memories in the back of their head. There are implications that devas can change their physical shapes, and perhaps even their genders, as a part of this process, but nothing really explicit.
- Winged Humanoid: A few devas retain angelic wings.
A canid race native to Mystara, where they inhabit various regions, particularly the faux-French kingdom of Renardie. First introduced in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1e modules X2: Castle Amber and X9: Savage Coast, they were heavily fleshed out in Dragon, appearing in volumes #179 and #181 for 1st edition, #237 for 2nd edition, and #325 for 3rd edition. They also appeared in the official publications of Champions of Mystara for AD&D 1e, and Red Steel and Savage Coast of Mystara for AD&D 2e.
- Beast Man: The lupins of AD&D were a vast array of humanoid canids, lupines and vulpines all capable of interbreeding freely and many resembling distinct breeds of dog, including dachshunds, beagles, pit-bulls, chow-chows, dalmatians, shar-pei, basset hounds, bloodhounds and that's a short list.
- Berserk Button: Lupins hate werewolves, and use their natural ability to detect them in order to be skilled werewolf hunters. This is especially prevalent amongst the "tribal" lupins of 3e.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
- Hobbits: The Fennec breed of lupins in AD&D 2e were essentially the lupin equivalent to halflings, complete with preternatural luck.
- Interspecies Romance: One of their rumored origins is that they are the result of crossbreeding between either hutaakansnote and gnolls, or humans and gnolls.
- Fantastic Foxes: In 2nd edition, Dragon #237 introduced no fewer than three fox-based lupin subraces: the druidic Foxfolk, the flamboyant swashbuckling Renardois Folk, and the desert-dwelling, preternaturally lucky Fennecs.
- Noble Wolf: The Tribal Lupins of 3e embody this to the T, and this may be why lupins were retconned into all being wolf-like in appearance in 3rd edition. Subverted by the actual wolvenfolk of AD&D 2e, who were spiritually connected to the local god of death and had an association with necromancy.
- Resurrective Immortality: The wolvenfolk subrace in AD&D had a unique ability to come back from the dead on their own if they could pass a Constitution saving throw. However, this cost them two levels and forcibly shifted their alignment one step towards Lawful Evil; if they had no levels, or were already Lawful Evil in alignment, then they were truly dead. And to take this into Blessed with Suck territory, ordinary resurrection spells don't work on them.
- Retcon: 3rd edition retconned out the diverse array of canid forms that lupins could take and portrayed them exclusively as humanoid wolves.
- Underground Monkey: The list of canid, lupine and vulpine races covered by the Dragon #237 depiction of the race is beyond ridiculous.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Their kingdom has been titled both "Renardy" and "Renardie" across various appearances.
A race of feline humanoids native to Mystara, where they have both a kingdom of their own on the planet itself, called Bellayne, and a separate culture on the moon, called Myoshima. They first appeared in the modules X1: Isle of Dread and X2: Castle Amber, then went on to appear in Dragon #181, Champions of Mystara, Red Steel, the Savage Coast of Mystara, and Dragon #247.
- Cat Folk: They're humanoid cats. Much like lupins, their AD&D 2e Dragon appearance presents them with a massive array of subraces based on different kinds of cats, from cave lions and sabertooths to cheetahs, jaguars, pumas, leopards, tigers, and so forth, all the way down to house cats. Even obscure species like snow & cloud leopards, servals, caracals and lynxes show up
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Bellayne is extremely British, in contrast to the very French neighboring lupin kingdom of Renardie, whilst Myoshima is blatantly Japanese.
- Lunarians: Myoshima are explicitly a culture on the moon.
- Origin: Dragonlance
A race of small, elf-like humanoids native to Krynn, kender are similar in some ways to the halflings of other worlds, and yet in others are very different.
- Beauty = Goodness: Well, "Cuteness Equals Goodness", but the same principle applies. The fact that kender are so childlike and cute is pointed out as part of their fundamental goodness and why they are an important part of the world around them.
- Berserk Button: Don't call a kender a thief. It's one of the few things that makes them mad.
- Curious as a Monkey: So curious that they examine the contents of other people's pockets
- Cute Critters Act Childlike: They're small people, and tend to be playful, curious, and lacking in self-preservation. The novels and gamebooks are adamant that this is supposed to be perceived as endearing.
- Chaotic Stupid: This is how they're perceived both In-Universe and out; a near-total lack of fear, combined with intense curiosity, a short attention span, and a low tolerance for boredom, means kenders are very prone to doing dangerous things just because they can or because it amused them. There's a reason there's a Krynnish saying that amounts to "the most terrifying sound in the world is a Kender saying 'oops'."
- Fearless Fool: The entire race is almost incapable of feeling fear, due to their childlike innocence and playful mirth... at least until Malystryx burned Kenderhome to cinders. A lot of the survivors became "Afflicted", which made them morose, nervous and paranoid. It's not entirely clear whether being Afflicted is purely psychological or partly magical.
- Fragile Speedster: They are small, childlike, dexterous rogues, so naturally they can't take a lot of punishment.
- Gameplay and Story Integration:
- Kender were literally created by the Hickmans asking themselves "okay, halflings in D&D 1e are all thieves; why is that? And if that's the case, how can they still be a good race and so hang out with heroic adventurers?" The result was the kender as they are now; a race of fearless, sticky-fingered eternal children who don't mean to be thieves, but who still act like thieves out of their incessant curiosity.
- In a reversal of the usual use of this trope, fans of the Dungeons & Dragons have been known to create house rules to reflect their propensity to pull random crap out of their pockets and pouches, Also, literally their only rule difference to normal halflings relates to their unique abilities, such as taunting and fear resistance.
- Hobbits: They were designed to fill the same niche as D&D's halflings, but bear little resemblance to Tolkien's hobbits apart from size.
- Hypocrite: As mentioned above, kender hate thievery and thieves, but are incapable of keeping out of peoples' homes and pockets. They protest that they always intend to return the things they steal, but that doesn't change the fact that they steal them in the first place.
- Interspecies Romance: Would you believe they can have children with humans? Because it's true.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Kender players are encouraged to act like this, simply because kender always grab whatever looks interesting and then stick it in their pocket.
- The Loonie: The game-designer's intension for the kender is for them to be harmless versions of this trope. By canon, kender are supposed to steal interesting knicknacks, like shiny pebbles, chunks of glass, and other bits and bobs that look neat but aren't actually worth anything. Naturally, there are players who seized upon their kleptomanical fluff to both pilfer everything that might be valuable, and to harass the party by stealing anything and everything belonging to other members of the party. Additionally, they are supposed be a race designed for comedic mischief and a good way to keep the game interesting, but other players could instead wind up as disruptive and annoying.
- Sticky Fingers: This is pretty much their most defining trait, to the point the "typical kender greeting" from other races is to curse at the kender and protectively grab their pockets or pouches.
- Origin: Spelljammer
Humanoid hippos who roam Wild Space as mercenaries, selling their considerable skills at battle to the highest bidder.
- Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Giff will usually do anything they are ordered to do by their superiors, but they will never fight another giff. If anyone is stupid enough to make the order, the giff regiments will usually just spend some time chatting and catching up, and then mutually abandon their former leaders.
- The Big Guy: Giff are massive in every sense of the word, with incredible strength and durability to back up their stature.
- Bling of War: They often wear colorful, 19th century-style military uniforms, complete with epaulets, medals and assorted details.
- Does Not Like Magic: Because of their lackluster mental capacities, giff have very little skill with magic, and most of them find it rather disturbing.
- Dumb Muscle: Giff are unimaginative and just generally not very bright, and this even manifests itself as penalties to Intelligence (2e, 3e) and Wisdom (3e).
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: They're essentially a parody of Age of Sail British army troopers, especially with their childish fixation upon ridiculously ostentatious military garb, proper maintenance of said garb, and complicated military hierarchies.
- Just Following Orders: The giff "religion", such as it is, basically asserts that the purpose of the giff in the multiverse is to obey orders. This is partly why they're a culture of mercenaries.
- More Dakka: Giff love gunpowder weaponry; they're obsessed with firearms, and paying them in gunpowder is one of the best ways to secure their loyalty. Because spelljamming involves traveling through the Phlogiston, a place where the local atmosphere is highly flammable, most other races think they're nuts.
- Perilous Old Fool: Giff do not age gracefully. Because of the exclusively militaristic bent of their society, giff have a general abhorrence to admitting they cannot fight, which means that as a giff ages and starts slowing down, it tends to push itself harder and act even brasher than normal in an effort to convince itself and others that it can still keep up with the younger generation. Invariably, few giff survive their full 70+ year lifespan, and most are cut down violently around their 40s to 50s.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Like the Duthka'gith, they play with the trope; whilst taller than a normal human being, their strength matches that of creatures even larger than they are.
- Too Dumb to Live: The giff obsession with firearms can lead to very dim decisions. For starters, they've been known to try and use their firearms in the Phlogiston... where the air is flammable. The downside of that should be obvious. For another, the iconic (if not only) giff-designed spelljammer is the Great Bombard, which can more accurately be described as an enormous cannon mounted on a ship that is just big enough to carry it. It's slow, it's clumsy, and it has almost as much a chance to explode and kill everybody aboard when it fires a shot as it does of doing the same thing if somebody else hits it — especially in the Phlogiston.
- Use Your Head: Giff have incredibly thick skulls and like slamming their heads against things in order to exert their authority. In 2nd edition, they even have the ability to headbutt as a unique melee attack that does 2d6 damage — which, by the mechanics of the time, averages out as enough damage to kill a normal man with a casual blow!
- Origin: Spelljammer
- Always Chaotic Evil: Averted. Firstly, the default alignment for Scro is Lawful Evil. Secondly, there is a large underclass of scro who just can't hack the strictures and intense demands of their society, usually in being unable to live up to the Lawful aspect, but sometimes not being Evil instead or in addition to.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: In 3rd edition, Monk was their racially favored class.
- Defector from Decadence: Aside from scro forced to team up with the party for plot-related reasons, this is the main source of scro player characters; the harsh strictures and intense demands of scro society leads to a large underclass of failures and dissidents, many of whom flee their home spheres and will willingly team up with anyone, even humans.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Scro society has a very Prussian (or Nazi) overtone to it; warlike yet disciplined, demanding physical perfection and adherence to a strict code of conduct, as well as dedication to the greater goals of their race.
- Genius Bruiser: The scro's culture and breeding have paid off, making them as strong as normal orcs, but much more intelligent. In 2nd edition, they do start the game with a -2 Charisma penalty, just like normal orcs, but can reach maximums of Intelligence 17, Wisdom 16 and Charisma 18 (orcs, by comparison, have maximums of 16/16/12 respectively). In 3rd edition, they have no mental penalties at all and receive a +4 to Strength and a +2 to both Dexterity and Constitution (orcs only get a +4 to Strength and suffer a -2 penalty to each mental stat).
- Our Orcs Are Different: In contrast to ordinary orcs, scro are strictly disciplined, regimented, perfectionist, and driven. They are also highly educated and expected to control their emotions, whereas regular orcs in D&D tend to be emotionally driven Dumb Muscle.
- The Red Mage: Scro culture dictates that those who learn magic at all multiclass as both arcane and divine magic-users. This grants them a much greater versatility in magical ability.
- Sdrawkcab Name: Their racial name is "Orcs" written backwards because they are the opposite of normal orcs, being much more regimented, educated, and less prone to emotional actions.
- Underground Monkey: Scro have a lot of overlap with hobgoblins, which hasn't really helped the race distinguish itself.
- Wicked Cultured: Scro are expected to hold themselves to high standards of discipline, conduct and education; in many ways, they act with the kind of tact and decorum (and arrogance) normally expected of elves, which they view as as demonstrating their superiority by not lowering themselves to the level of other beings. They also regularly learn Elvish so they can more eloquently mock and taunt their racial enemies.
- Origin: Dark Sun
- Death by Childbirth: When they were first created, muls were stated to frequently cause the death of their mothers due to their size. This aspect was waived in later editions.
- Determinator: This is actually their racial Hat; muls have tremendous reserves of stamina, needing far less food and water than humans or dwarves, and needing a far smaller amount of rest in order to stay healthy. This is one of the reasons they are bred in the first place.
- Half-Human Hybrid: They are the children of human-dwarf pairings. Like many real-life hybrids — but unlike many fictional hybrids such as D&D usually has — they're traditionally portrayed as being as sterile as mules, hence the name.
- Lighter and Softer: 4th edition removed some of their more needlessly grimdark attributes, such as being sterile or their propensity to kill their mothers.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Downplayed; whilst muls in Athas have remained consistent, 4th edition also provided an alternative past for them so they could be incorporated into the Nentir Vale or homebrew setting by making them the true-breeding result of a drow slave-breeding program that escaped drow control.
- Slave Race: Their racial Hat; muls only exist because they are so useful as a work-force that powerful tyrants are willing to force humans and dwarves to breed on an industrial scale. Whilst the original masters were the Sorcerer-Kings of Athas, in other settings, they could be created by drow, red dragons or tyrannical golden or bronze dragons, to name a few.
- Super Toughness: Muls are incredibly resistant to pain, disease and poison.
- Origin: Dark Sun
- All There in the Manual: The AD&D 2nd edition sourcebook "Thri-Kreen of Athas" was and remains the biggest devoted source of material they have. That said, much of the things established in that sourcebook have never been used again, such as the kreen subraces.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Man-sized mantids, with perhaps a dash of grasshopper in the body-structure.
- Chameleon Camouflage: Thri-kreen in 5th edition's Monster Manual have the ability to blend into their backgrounds.
- Fantastic Naming Convention: In "Thri-Kreen of Athas", we learn that "kreen" is the actual racial name of the mantis-folk; "thri" and "tohr" are cultural prefixes that indicate whether they are nomadic or settled in nature. Also, kreen subraces that have full-fledged nations always have names starting with a "j" (Jeral, J'ez, J'hol), whilst those who have no nations of their own have names starting with a "t" (To'ksa, T'keech, Tondi).
- In a Single Bound: Thri-kreen have always had tremendous leaping abilities.
- One-Gender Race: The kreen subrace called the Tondi are an all-female species that reproduces by parthenogenesis. They can still successfully mate and produce hybrid offspring with males from other kreen subraces, but kreen have a cultural aversion to this.
- Pink Means Feminine: The Tondi, an all-female kreen subrace, are pink with purple highlights. Subverted in that the J'hol subrace have males and females, and are still depicted as quite pink.
- The keen appearance has increasingly more humanoid over the editions, going from a giant mantis with humanoid limbs to a multi-armed biped with insectile aspects.
- When they first appeared in the "Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium Appendix I", Tohr-Kreen were described as an all-around superior species to Thri-Kreen, being physically and mentally superior in every single way. Then "Thri-kreen of Athas" retconned that original version of tohr-kreen into actually being biologically and mentally modified drones created by the Zik-chil to serve as spies on the humanoid races of the Tyr Regions and missionaries to try and civilize the thri-kreen, with their proper names being "Zik-trin'ta".
- The kreen subraces are an unusual example; they've never been explicitly retconned, they've just never been mentioned outside of the single Dark Sun AD&D sourcebook where they were introduced.
- This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: The one advantage that the T'keech are known to have over their kinsfolk: they're a jungle-adapted species, meaning they don't suffer from the chitin-rot and respiratory infections that plague other kreen subspecies in regions that are too humid. Of course, as they live on Athas, the only place that meets that description is the lost rainforests of the Ringing Mountains.
- Underground Monkey: There are six different kreen subraces. There are also the non-related Trin (savage and barely sapient mantis-folk) and Zik-chil (biological engineers who may or may not be the same thing as the Xixchil of Spelljammer). As for the kreen subraces...
- The sandy yellow-tan To'ksa and Jerals are extremely similar, with only abdomen size and shape, hand structure, antennae length, neck length and the positioning of breathing holes indicating which are which. The to'ksa are hardy but more savage and feral, the "iconic thri-kreen", whilst Jerals are comparatively frailer but smarter and more civilized, the "iconic tohr-kreen". They are the only subraces with official stats.
- J'ez are intelligent but warlike and aggressive black-colored kreen with extremely distinctive circular mouthparts full of fangs. They serve the tohr-kreen nations as philosphers and generals with equal aplomb.
- J'hol are adapted for life in mountains and rocky badlands, and have the most humanoid appearance of any kreen subrace.
- T'keech are green kreen adapted for life in comparatively lush environments, which restricts them in the present day to oases.
- Tondi are an all-female kreen subrace based on Orchid Mantids, whose elaborately spiky physiology lets them imitate ohi flowers or outcroppings of rock crystal.
- Women Are Wiser: The all-female Tondi are known to have a deep, instinctive appreciation for nature, leading many to become herbalists or even full-fledged druids.
- Origin: Eberron
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted, by and large. Most of them want to lead a peaceful, constructive, fulfilling life alongside their organic fellows. The Lord of Blades and his followers play this trope horrifyingly straight, however.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Now that they have the option to actually exercise their free will without being hunted down for desertion, the Warforged seek a way to make their lives significant. Naturally, this makes them ideal adventurers.
- Magitek: Their entire race is the product of industrial scale magic to create artificial soldiers.
- Mechanical Lifeform: They are constructed from an intricate combination of inorganic material and artifice magic, courtesy of House Cannith. Unlike most versions of this trope, they're technically not mechanical; underneath a skin of steel or stone plates, warforged are made of soft woody "muscles" and stone "bones".
- Religious Robot: Warforged can worship the same gods as any other race, and theres nothing stopping one from becoming a cleric.
- Origin: Nentir Vale
- Can't Argue with Elves: Subverted with the 3e version. Nobody feels at all sorry for them having doomed themselves to the Shadowcurse, and nobody is disinclined to point out that they brought everything on themselves. Often at swordpoint.
- Casting a Shadow: Consistent to all versions of shadar-kai is an elemental affinity for darkness. The precise powers vary somewhat between editions. 3e shadar-kai also have a fondness for classes based around using shadow magic.
- Chain Pain: The spiked chain, which is a length of metal chain covered in barbs and blades, is the iconic weapon associated with the shadar-kai.
- Combat Sadomasochist: Because shadar-kai of all editions need stimulation, they display no fear of death and often revel in taking injury as much as they do inflicting it. Indeed, the 3e shadar-kai have a signature item called the gal-ralan, a cold iron armband with its interior lined with long spikes, requiring the shadar-kai to viciously impale its forearm in order to close it; the pain this inflicts helps keep the shadow-curse at bay. 4e shadar-kai don't normally go to that same extreme, but are huge fans of tattooing, piercing and scarification as a result of their own shadow-curse.
- Dark Is Evil: 3e shadar-kai are universally evil, horrible creatures.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Shadar-kai from 4th and 5th edition are more morally and culturally diverse, and evil shadar-kai are not the norm.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Consistent throughout the editions is the shadar-kai's color scheme; black hair, black eyes, and pale gray skin along with their connection to the spooky Shadowfell.
- Flash Step: 4e shadar-kai can meld into shadows and use those to reappear almost instantly at another point on the battlefield.
- Human Subspecies: 4e shadar-kai were originally humans, but made a pact with the Raven Queen and migrated to the Shadowfell in pursuit of immortality.
- Moral Myopia: 3e shadar-kai hate all other races because of their shadow-curse, which ultimately consumes them and leaves behind nothing. They never stop to think that maybe it's their own fault for trying to merge the Plane of Shadow with the Material Plane in order to create The Night That Never Ends, which they wanted to do because they believed it would give them the power to enslave all other races.
- Name's the Same: Aside from the basic concept of "humanoids cursed to ultimately fade away into nothing and with an elemental affinity for darkness", the shadar-kai of each edition have very little to do with each other.
- Never My Fault: 3e shadar-kai refuse to admit that they brought the shadow-curse upon themselves and instead take out their pain and frustration on all other races as a result.
- Our Elves Are Better: 5e shadar-kai are an elven subrace, born of the designer's decision to try and marry elements of their past two incarnations together.
- Perky Goth: 4e shadar-kai are dark and gothicpunk-looking figures, with their propensity for garish colors, vicious-looking ornaments and extreme body modification. Personality-wise, they're a vibrant, active and passionate people with a "live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse" philosophy and a culture that considers bragging a sport. It's justified; acting with typical goth apathy or despair will actually kill Nentir Vale shadar-kai faster, so acting more "alive" does the inverse, which leads to an odd juxtaposition of gothicpunk appearances and jockish culture.
- Shout-Out: They're consistently depicted in a manner very reminiscent of a more PG-rated version of the Cenobites from Hellraiser.
- Your Days Are Numbered: All Shadar-kai know that death is inevitable; if not killed by violence, then they will inevitably die of ennui, fading away into nothing as the shadow energy consumes them from the inside out. 3e shadar-kai rail against this fate and lash out at other races in spite because of it. 4e shadar-kai accept it as the price they pay for their longevity and strive to live life to the fullest whilst they can.
Refugees from the Realm of Nightmares, the Diaboli are fiendish-looking but benign beings who believe in the principles of benevolent anarchy and find humans as frightening-looking as humans find them. The diabolus mindset is naturally aligned towards the chaotic; their society exists in what is essentially anarchy because they believe that as no one government style is provably better than the rest, then it's best to just not have anything to do with the hassle of government whatsoever. The diabolus society, such as it is, holds together mostly through strong customs and traditions that have proven repeatedly to be helpful, and a strong sense of fair play; the guiding philosophy of the diaboli can be summed up as "do what thou wilt, but harm none", the foundational "great truth" that unites their people and which provides the roots from which all taboos, traditions, and customs ultimately grow.
Appearing as a monster in AD&D, they received a playable writeup in 3rd edition courtesy of Dragon.
- Bald Women: Female diaboli of the "bare diabolus" subrace are completely bald.
- Beware My Stinger Tail: A diabolus' tail ends in a barbed stinger which injects a nauseating venom.
- Big Red Devil: Diaboli look like stereotypical fiends; goat-like legs, whip-like tail with a barbed stinger, stubby horns on their forehead and forked tongues. The big difference is that their skin is purple, not red. They're also divided into three "subraces" divided based on how hairy they are: one species grows hair much like any human does, whilst a second, known as the "hirsute diabolus", has more pronounced hair-growth, with coarse, goat-like fur adorning their legs; the third, known simply as "bare diaboli", sprouts absolutely no hair at all, with even the women lacking so much as a strand upon their head or anywhere else. This difference is literally only skin deep and there's no greater divisions between the subraces.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Diaboli may look like stereotypical fiends, but they're very friendly, open-minded and accepting; their typical racial alignment is Chaotic Good.
- Horned Humanoid: Downplayed; diaboli have horns, yeah, but they're thumb-sized, vestigial nubs.
- Prongs of Poseidon: The trident is as iconic a weapon to diaboli as an axe or hammer is to a dwarf or a sword or bow is to an elf.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Originally played straight, but later editions subvert this to varying extents.
- Art Evolution: Orcs started out with a Pig Man-like design, but this was gradually phased out and they now look more like a downplayed version of Blizzard-style Orcs.
- The Artifact: Their afterlife was still considered to be Acheron, a Lawful-leaning plane, even after they were switched from Lawful to Chaotic.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Whoever's the toughest — that's who's in charge.
- Ax-Crazy: They're known for their violence and aggression.
- Barbarian Tribe: Their civilization as a whole for better or worse.
- The Berserker: Orcs are not known to have much of a sense of self-preservation when fighting, and tend to fight in a blind rage.
- Characterization Marches On: As mentioned above Orcs used to be Lawful Evil, but later swiched to being Chaotic Evil Barbarians with the Hobgoblins filing the role of Lawful Evil soldiers. Also, see Art Evolution above to see how their appearance has changed.
- Dumb Muscle: On average, they are not very bright and have a reduction in intelligence. That said, some of them can be quite clever — and they're still not as dumb as ogres or hill giants.
- Early Installment Weirdness: In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, they were considered to be Lawful Evil, mostly for their tendency to willingly fall in line with any Evil Overlord figure that proved suitably strong, and battled for dominion of the Lawful Evil plane of Acheron with the hobgoblins. Since 3rd edition, they have firmly established as a Chaotic Evil race.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: 5e reveals that, while the main orc god is Gruumsh, the war god, the second-biggest one is... Luthic, the orc goddess of motherhood, fertility, and child-rearing. Similar to ancient Spartans, orcs believe that mothers ought to be respected; after all, without them, you don't have those precious warriors. While Luthic existed throughout D&D's history, 5th edition gave her cult a strong boost in status; she was originally very much a second-class goddess.
- Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: In 5th edition, many orc tribes end up willingly merging with human tribes who share the same Rape, Pillage, and Burn mentality.
- Explosive Breeder: They're suggested to grow up quite quickly, and male orcs often keep harems.
- Fantastic Racism: Averted in 5th edition; half-orcs, generally willing products of human-orc alliances, are known to be smarter than average than most orcs and are appreciated for their tactical insights.
- Genius Bruiser: Some of their leaders have been known to be surprisingly clever.
- Genocide Dilemma: The fact that, in AD&D, orcsnote had both a detailed writeup depiction the typical number of children to be had in one of their villages and a status as Always Chaotic Evil has led to this trope being known as the "Orc Baby Dilemma" in D&D circles.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: In 5e, Luthic and her priestesses are described as the only reason the orcs are anything more than a few scattered tribes. (In fact, the flavor text in Volo's Guide to Monsters speculates that when the war between the orcish and goblin pantheons finally ends, she will be ascendant, not Gruumsh.)
- The Horde: This is the defining aspect of orcish society; an enormous, chaotic, sprawl of violent barbarians barely held together by marginally smarter leaders who can enforce dominance through fear and brutality.
- Hot-Blooded: Most orcs are emotionally driven due to their savage nature, in contrast to the more cold, calculating and disciplined hobgoblins.
- Mama Bear: Luthic, as the goddess of motherhood, is said to be protective of orc children. Orc chiefs hesitate to murder newly born orogs out of fear of provoking her wrath. Her priests even grow their nails into claws to emulate one of her favored forms, a female bear.
- Might Makes Right: Orcs value strength and follow those who are strong enough to impose their will.
- Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid: Older D&D lore portrays orcs as resoundingly interfertile with a wide variety of species. There are even different hybrids depending on the gender of the participants (male orc and female ogre results in an orog, a bigger and smarter orc, whilst female orc and male ogre produces an ogrillion, a smaller and more violent ogre with bony spikes sticking out of its skin).
- No Woman's Land: Earlier editions of the game present orcs as extremely patriarchal, and often abusive in the bargain. As times changed, orcs became more accepting of potential exceptions, whilst still generally holding a Stay in the Kitchen kind of attitude towards women.
- Our Orcs Are Different: D&D orcs have undergone significant changes over the various editions. In the earliest versions of the game, they were described as natural servitors, with a drive to conquer melded by a respect for superior strength that made them fitting lackeys for any Evil Sorcerer or Black Knight who could beat them into submission. In 3rd edition, they morphed into a more aggressive, rampaging horde-like race, who fought for their own love of battle and divinely-mandated conquest.
- The Forgotten Realms actually plays around with the standard "orcs as savage monsters" depiction. In the Zakhara region, orcs are actually a peaceful and civilized people. Likewise, the remnants of an abandoned army of Thayan orcs have similarly integrated into the population of Thesk after they saved the locals from being overrun by the Tuigan Horde. During 4th edition, there was also the orcish Kingdom of Many-Arrows in the Frozen North, which was the first orc-founded kingdom and ran as a surprisingly civilized place, though not without both internal division and external hostility — sadly, it was destroyed during the change from 4th edition to 5th.
- Ondonti are an orcish subrace native to Faerun; descending from orc children who were rescued and adopted by priests of a Goddess of Peace, they are a pacifistic race who dwell in sheltered valleys and practice an agrarian lifestyle. They also have some innate priestly magic, are resistant to poison, and are naturally protected from Charm Person type spells.
- In Eberron, orcs are a peaceful race who live In Harmony with Nature — in fact, they pioneered the religious and mystical traditions of druidism that other races practice today. They're also a Vestigial Empire reduced to swamp-dwelling clans of Barbarian Heroes after they exhausted their former glory battling against aberrations in the ancient past, and have no great hostility towards humans. In fact, half-orcs in Eberron have a presumed standard of being consensually conceived.
- The Sharakim were an obscure one-booknote race added in 3rd edition; in addition to having small, oni-like horns, they were a highly civilized, gregarious and non-evil race. This is because they were descended from a tribe of humans cursed for killing and eating a sacred stag, which left them trapped in a orc-like form and desperate to not be mistaken for orcs. 4th edition dropped a nod to them in the flavor text for a half-orc exclusive Swordmage paragon path.
- Pig Man: In the early editions of the game, the orcs were portrayed as, for all intents and purposes, pig-headed humans (and were considered the Trope Codifier for "orcs as pigmen" in anime and manga). This was toned down over time, so that by the third edition they had little more than porcine noses, and was dropped entirely in later versions of the game.
- Soldier vs. Warrior: Heavily on the Warrior side, which is one of the biggest differences between them and hogoblins. They love battle, often for its own sake, and are far less regimented.
Runty, vicious, cowardly and sneaky, the goblins are some of the weakest and most common of the game's traditional set of evil races, and alongside kobolds tend to form its bottom rung both in-universe and out. They're also the first — and usually least — of the goblinoids, an extensive series of evil humanoid species that are among the most common foes faced by adventurers.
- Animal Motifs: Goblins are strongly associated with wolves. They ride the regular kind as steeds, and often ally with packs of the intelligent and evil worgs.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Leadership in goblin tribes tends to go to their toughest and meanest members, usually after beating all other challengers into submission. Combined with the fact that goblins aren't exactly the most physically impressive species around, this tends to result in bigger monsters — usually barghests or bugbears, but sometimes ogres or trolls — taking over goblin tribes with relative ease.
- Combat Pragmatist: Goblins never fight fair.
- Dirty Coward: One of their defining traits, although to be fair they're one of the weakest races on average.
- Explosive Breeder: Their ability to replenish their casualties and overpopulate their surroundings is what's kept them alive as a species.
- Hell of a Heaven: Unlike the other goblinoids, goblins see joining Maglubiyet's army on Acheron as a Fate Worse than Death.
- Horse of a Different Color: They typically ride wolves, and are sometimes allowed to ride on the back of allied worgs.
- Our Goblins Are Different: The most "classic" of goblinoids, the goblins are small, sneaky and cowardly humanoids who grow bold and vicious when in sufficient numbers.
- Psycho for Hire: Foot-soldier in a Hobogoblin legion is a far better status than a gatherer or pariah in a goblin tribe so they are quick to join. It means they can enslave and torture far more people.
- Sadist: Known for their cruelty but don't like being on the reserving end very much.
- Slave Mooks: Being small, weak, and terrified of dying, they are often bullied into working for bigger and stronger creatures, typically other goblinoids.
- The goblins of Sharn in Eberron avert this. While they're still an oppressed underclass in the city, they've been allowed to run their own affairs for generations, and don't like it when bigger monstrous races visit the city and assume they can waltz into the goblin district and start giving orders. Many hobgoblins and bugbears have gone to bed in Sharn and not woken up...
- Zerg Rush: Goblins are not strong, smart, or well armed. But in great numbers, sheer bloodlust can allow them to swamp foes and drag them down to a vicious death.
Human-sized, militaristic goblinoids, the hobgoblins are distinguished from their smaller kin by their strict organization, their immense discipline and the considerably greater threat they pose both individually and as groups. A culture of slavers and warmongers, the hobgoblins hate their diminutive relatives almost as much as they hate the elves.
- Affably Evil: Downplayed, but hobgoblins are said to be surprisingly polite.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: They normally have red or orange skin.
- Ambition Is Evil: One of the things that keeps them divided among themselves is their leaders' ambition.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: A warlord is always mightier than a captain and a captain more than a foot soldier. This is because only the strongest among them get to become leaders in the first place.
- Ax-Crazy: Mostly high-functioning. In spite of their discipline and self-restraint, they are know to be no less brutal, violent, ruthless, and aggressive than orcs or other monster races.
- Blood Knight: Their whole culture is based around war, and many hobgoblins are eager to prove themselves on the battlefield.
- Bread and Circuses: They rule over the people they conquer like this, leaving the existing government mostly intact so long as they accept their rule. They provide relative comfort for the rich and powerful, and stability and order for the poor.
- Bullying a Dragon: Hobgoblins are known to gang up on thouls and bully them mercilessly, despite the thoul's Healing Factor, paralyzing touch and ability to learn magic. It's explained that the hobgoblins rely on numbers and tactics to keep out of range of the thoul's clutches, and mercilessly beat them down in order to break their wills and keep them subservient. In the Nentir Vale, this results in many thouls abandoning hobgoblins and integrating into orc tribes, where they are better received.
- Cat Folk: Depending on the Artist, they can give off this appearance to an extent; it's mostly to be found in 5th edition, where the art for all goblinoids gives them rather leonine facial features.
- Culture Chop Suey: Their appearance gives off a Mongolian, Feudal Japanese and/or Feudal Chinese vibe, while their whole culture being based around war is eerily similar to Sparta.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: The Priests of Nomog-Geaya serve as organizing and training younger hobgoblins in a fashion appropriate to hobgoblins (i.e. brutally), among other things.
- Elite Mook: The most disciplined, driven and militaristic, and in many ways the most dangerous, of all the Goblinoids.
- Enemy Civil War: Their various legions are all at war with one another for supremacy.After all, there can only be one warlord.
- Epic Flail: The priests of Bargrivyek wield a flail dipped in white paint, the Weapon of Choice and symbol of their god.
- Evil Overlord: Their leaders often fit the ruthless and tyrannical model given their culture of strict discipline and the example given by their gods.
- Evil vs. Evil: Since the early editions of the game, the greatest enemy of the hobgoblins has been the orcs, to the point their respective afterlives consist of fighting a Forever War against each other on the plane of Acheron (in the Great Wheel) or in the Dominion of Chernoggar (in the World Axis).
- Fantastic Racism:
- They hate elves, to the point that their main god, Nomog-Geaya, commands them to kill them whenever they can. The elves fully return the feeling.
- They also don't like the other goblinoid races, seeing normal goblins as weak, cowardly and only good as expendable Cannon Fodder and bugbears as common thugs. In point of fact, their patron god demands that they hunt and kill regular goblins (or at lest the ones that don't join their legions) in the same breath as he commands them to hunt and kill elves.
- Genius Bruiser: Given their military discipline, their wit is as sharp as their swords.
- The Horde: They are more organized and disciplined than your average horde, but despite marching in organized legions instead of barbaric mobs, obeying strict chains of command and making far more use of tactics, infrastructure and non-armed labor than typical examples, hobgoblin armies are still vast tides of cruel, wicked soldiers seeking to raze every nation in their path, loot their ruins and enslave their surviving inhabitants (except for elves, who are summarily executed).
- Human Sacrifice: Hobgoblins traditionally offer sacrifices to their god, Nomog-Geaya, by burning prisoners alive in his honor.
- McNinja: The Iron Shadow are hobgoblin ninjas (well, martial artists who use Supernatural Martial Arts that grants them unearthly stealth powers, but same differences) serve as Secret Police. Official art even shows them in all black, like a traditional ninja. Their Culture Chop Suey includes Feudal Japan, and this is part of the reason why.
- Military Mage: The Devastators who act as living artillery. Unlike over races' magic users, they don't ponder the wonders of the multiverse and only have a basic knowledge of how magic works. As they see it, a soldier doesn't have to know the inner working of metalwork in order to fight — why can't a magic user be the same?
- Mook Lieutenant: In their legions, even a mere hobgoblin soldier has authority over bugbears and ordinary goblins.
- Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid: The oft-forgotten Thoul, an obscure beast that appeared in Mystara (and which was revived for the Nentir Vale), which is a Heinz Hybrid of hobgoblin, troll and ghoul. Thouls can regenerate like trolls and have paralytic claws like ghouls, whilst also possessing hobgoblin level intelligence, which allows them a natural affinity for magic. Fortunately, they don't breed as quickly as hobgoblins, possibly a side-effect of their partially undead status.
- Order Is Not Good: Hobgoblins believe in order and discipline above all else. Which leads to them not only creating tyrannical social structures for themselves, but actively expanding to conquer others and "bring them order" by forcing them to live under the same tyranny as the hobgoblins themselves.
- Order vs. Chaos: The iconic difference between hobgoblins and orcs, which is reflected by their respective points on the standard racial alignment meter. Hobgoblins are naturally inclined to be organized, disciplined, controlled and structured; they greatly prefer being in control to any sense of indecision or chaos.
- Our Goblins Are Different: Human-sized, disciplined, driven and militaristic, hobgoblins are the most civilized and, in many ways, the most dangerous of all the Goblinoids. From 3rd edition onward, their discipline and strict, militaristic culture served to better define them when compared to the more anarchist horde-structure of the orcs.
- Proud Warrior Race: More like Proud Soldier Race. Their Hat is military training and discipline, in contrast to the general love of battle that so characterizes orcs.
- Sociopathic Soldier: Technically, they're type I, the soldier motivated by jingoism, fanaticism and prejudice. Their culture encourages, if not demands, that they be as ruthless as possible while still maintaining a sense of discipline and self-restraint.
- Soldier vs. Warrior: What separates the Hobgoblins from the Orcs and other Goblinoids is their soldier-like mentality.
- The Spartan Way: They live, breathe, eat, and dream war.
- State Sec: The Iron Shadow and the priests of Bargrivyek, the god of duty, unity and discipline ferret out spies and lawbreakers.
- The Strategist: In addition to the regular officers, the priests of Nomog-Geaya also fill the role of long-term planning.
- Straight Edge Evil: Hobgoblins are said to have little time for earthly pleasures, be it hedonism or even simple leisure.
- Underground Monkey: Hobgoblins have a lot of overlap with orcs in terms of being large and aggressively warlike humanoids. This was much stronger in AD&D, where orcs also started out with a typical racial alignment of Lawful Evil and, even after becoming Chaotic Evil, were usually considered a branch of the goblinoid family tree. Not helping was the artwork, which classically for both species depicted an ugly humanoid with big ears and tusks. The similarities are so strong that, even today, the two are seen as superfluous by many fans, and visually distinguishing them can be hard; Pathfinder artwork for hobgoblins can easily pass as "blue-skinned Lean and Mean Blizzard Style orc".
The largest, fiercest and most vicious of the common goblinoids, bugbears are far more dangerous and feared than any of their relatives. Luckily for everyone else, they're also among the least numerous and advanced and most disorganized of their kind, limiting the threat they can pose to other cultures.
- Ax-Crazy: They're by far the most violent of the goblinoids.
- Beast Man: They are the most visually bestial and feral of the main goblinoid species; they tend to be particularly apelike, but, depending on the edition and the bugbear in question, more ursine traits can creep in as well.
- The Brute: Hobgoblins often use them as shock troops and melee fighters, which is one step up from the cannon fodder status of goblins.
- Carry a Big Stick: Bugbears have a penchant for wielding morningstars, largely due to the fact that it's the favored weapon of Hruggek, their chief deity.
- Elite Mook: They're much tougher then regular goblins.
- Genius Bruiser: Despite being built like gorillas, they tend to have above-average intelligence and are actually quite stealthy and agile.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: They have a very short fuse.
- Lazy Bum: As of 5th edition, laziness is a racial feature of them. Being ambush predators, they typically lie in wait for prey for long periods of time. Then they strike with stealthy brutality. Hobgoblins generally have to rouse them somehow for legion work.
- Our Goblins Are Different: Bugbears are the largest of the goblinoids and the strongest, but are still fairly savage and brutal creatures. As also are naturally talented in stealth. As of 5th edition, they are also incredibly lazy.
- Psycho for Hire: Even more so then ordinary goblins because hobgoblins have to bribe/pay them with food or skulls to get them off their lazy bums.
- Stealth Expert: One of their defining traits is their stealth. Volvo's Guide to Monsters states that their ability to appear as if from nowhere is the source of boogeymen horror stories.
- Admiring the Abomination: Kobolds do have their own patron god, Kurtulmak, but from 3rd edition onwards they also tend to deify their draconic "cousins". That said, they feel a particular reverence for the more vindictive and vengeful Chromatics over the more peaceful Metallics. By extension, they also tend to worship Tiamat, due to her being the Goddess of Chromatic Dragons.
- Characterization Marches On: From 3rd edition onward, to differentiate them from the other "goblin-like" monsters, kobolds became more reptilian in appearance, and gained a connection to and worship of dragons.
- Draconic Humanoid: In 3rd edition, kobolds were reflavored as a degenerate offshoot of the dragon family, clinging to their kinship as a source of pride and strength in a world that otherwise belittled and humiliated them. As part of this, they were visually redesigned to small, puny Lizard Folk with obvious resemblances to dragons. This has became a defining trait of the race, surviving from third edition through fourth and into fifth.
- Explosive Breeder: Like their fellow small, vulnerable evil race the goblin, kobolds are noted for being able to produce offspring at a prolific rate. It's noted that they lay eggs in clutches, for instance.
- Gender Bender: In 5th edition, it's stated that kobolds react to a sudden gender imbalance by having members of the too-prolific gender randomly shift to the under-presented gender until they've equalized. This allows kobolds to bounce back from severe casualties; if all their males are slaughtered, some females will assume male status and help restore a breeding population, whilst the reverse happens should someone try to wipe out a tribe by killing off its females.
- Fantastic Racism: Kobolds can't stand gnomes because the patron god of the gnomes, Garl Glittergold, is responsible for trapping their own god, Kurtulmak, by collapsing an underground maze.
- Happiness in Slavery: From 3rd edition onward, kobolds revere dragons so much that they happily serve them with near-religious fervor, no matter how badly their draconic masters treat them in return. Taken Up to Eleven in 4th edition, where's noted that their reverence is so strong that kobolds will literally throw themselves into the mouth of a hungry dragon should it give into its instincts and try to consume some of their servitors.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Kobold artwork in both Basic D&D and AD&D 2nd edition portrays them as a strange blending of attributes. The former look like dog-headed Lizard Folk, whilst the latter is a scaly-skinned blending of dog, lizard, rat and humanoid. Downplayed in 5th edition, which sticks mostly to the Draconic Humanoid version of 3rd and 4th edition, but adds a distinctly canine nose to their otherwise reptilian snout.
- No Cure for Evil: Since their equally evil god, Kurtulmak, is inescapably trapped, they rarely have a cleric or some other magical healer in their ranks. They don't mind because they're so fragile it doesn't matter.
- Our Goblins Are Different: D&D kobolds play with the trope. They certainly fill many of the standard attributes of goblindom — being small, weak, cowardly and dangerous only in numbers — but, officially, they're not part of the goblinoid family. And, save for one particular piece of artwork which portrayed a kobold that looked like a big-eyed, nubbly-horned, pug-faced goblinoid, they don't look like goblins either.
- Trap Master: In contrast to goblins, who tend to rely on superior numbers and bloodlust, kobolds prefer sneak attacks, ambush and a lethal arsenal of traps to defeat their assailants. They know they won't last long in melee.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Zigzagged; the Chaotic Evil demon-worshippers get almost all of the press, but gnolls don't have to be evil in any edition prior to 5th. 4th edition in particular went to the trouble of pointing out the various ways that gnolls can turn their backs on their demonic linage and be a (comparatively) peaceful race, whilst in 3rd edition's Eberron setting, the default gnolls were the non-evil Droaamite mercenary clans of the Znir Pact. Even way back in the earliest days of D&D, the kingdom of Graakhalia in Mystara was home to a unified culture of gnolls and elves who lived in peace together.
- Animalistic Abomination: In 4th edition's Nentir Vale setting, they were given a creation myth of having been hyenas that either spontaneously evolved into humanoid forms after eating corpses left in the wake of one of Yeenoghu's rampages and thus absorbing his fiendish taint, or which were forcefed demons by Yeenoghu and transformed into a merging of demon and hyena. 5th edition doubled-down on this aspect, portraying gnolls as little more than living avatars for Yeenoghu's endless hunger.
- Animal Stereotypes: The portrayal of gnolls owes a lot to the many negative stereotypes associated with the spotted hyena, such as being lazy, shiftless, cruel, gluttonous and malicious.
- Ax-Crazy: Thanks to their ravenous hunger, Gnolls are incredibly vicious.
- Barbarian Tribe: They are, on average, even less civilized then the Orcs, and that's saying something.
- Beast Folk: Gnolls resemble humanoid hyenas, generally with more emphasis on "hyena" than "humanoid".
- Big Eater: Gnolls are voracious eaters, although just how much so depends on the edition. 5th edition gnolls are literally hunger incarnate.
- Good Is Not Soft: Even gnolls who forsake evil aren't conventionally nice. A combination of psychology and cultural traits makes them bluntly spoken and assertive; for example, gnolls speak in "demands", as part of their posturing for the social hierarchy.
- Heinous Hyena: They're monstrous, humanoid hyenas that were originally created by the demon lord Yeenoghu. How straight this trope is played depends on edition and setting; for the most part, they're portrayed as usually evil with some non-evil examples, while in 5e they're described as possessing an insatiable love for destruction and lacking any kind of conscience. On the other hand, in AD&D, they weren't originally evil until Yeenoghu usurped them from Gorellik, 3rd edition had non-evil gnolls be the default in Eberron, and 4th edition had an article in Dragon #367 that extensively covered non-evil gnoll tribes in the Nentir Vale setting.
- The Horde: Even worse than the orcs in this regard. Rampaging hordes of bloodthirsty savages are the only "societies" they have. Though this is played with in other editions.
- Horror Hunger: Their 5e lore suggests that their hunger is both incredibly painful and supernatural in origin. Their motivation for following Yeenoghu is that they believe if they follow his plans, they will never have to feel hunger again."We will kill and He will eat, and we shall be He and He shall be we, never alone, never afraid, never hungry."
- Infectious Insanity: One of the more chilling accounts of their nature comes from a wizard who decided to read the mind of one over several weeks for the sake of study. His report starts out as fairly clinical and disgusted, then becomes more fascinated, and by the end turns into repeating "He will come if we eat well" and concluding with the above quote.
- Lazy Bum: A long-standing characteristic of gnolls is being described as hating physical labor and preferring to enslave others to do the work for them. This trait has become less pronounced since 4th edition.
- Loves the Sound of Screaming: "Volo's Guide to Monsters" attributes this trope to them, and claims it as part of the reason they sometime ally with Leucrotta: since leucrotta are excellent mimics, their ability to mimic the sound of other creatures screaming in pain can provide gnolls with relief from their bloodlust during peacetime.
- Made a Slave: Prior to 4th edition, at least, gnoll culture was heavily slave-based; in 4th edition, that's only true for the Yeenoghu-worshipping clans, whilst in 5th edition it's not true — because 5e's gnolls are so ravenous and demon-tainted that they can't help but eat anyone they catch.
- Monstrous Cannibalism:
- One of the reasons why Flinds, an Elite Mook subspecies of gnoll, are so feared and respected by the common gnolls is because they will readily devour other gnolls. In fact, "flind" is traditionally described as being gnollish for "Eater of Gnolls".
- "Volo's Guide to Monsters" claims that regular gnolls will happily kill and eat one another if they get hungry enough during peacetime.
- No Holds Barred Beat Down: Played with in what they consider a fun way to pass the time. The AD&D Dungeon magazine adventure "To bite the moon" introduces a game gnolls play where the gnolls make one of their own wear a blindfold, and proceed to beat the shit out of them via slapping and kicking while "barking furiously". Anyone unlucky enough to get wrestled to the ground by the blindfolded gnoll has to swap places with them.
- Our Monsters Are Weird: Gnolls actually started out as a hybrid of gnomes and trolls in the very earliest editions of D&D, but by the time of Basic had become the less-silly hyena-folk they have been defined as ever since.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Though they normally skip the rape part and go straight to devouring their victims.
- Religious Bruiser: Gnolls have a very pronounced tendency to worship deities, perhaps as part of their pack instinct. In 4th edition, even those clans that have forsaken Yeenoghu still tend to wind up as devout worshippers of the Primal Spirits, Kordnote , the Raven Queennote or Meloranote .
- Took a Level in Jerkass: 5th edition is the first edition where they've been completely and utterly evil without exception.
- To Serve Man: Gnolls will eat any meat, including the flesh of other sapient creatures. Goodly gnolls won't actively hunt other sapients for food, but may still eat those they kill in self-defense, whilst malevolent gnolls actively seek out meat that talks.
- You Are Not Alone: There is a strange sense of camaraderie in Gnoll packs, and this one of the things that attracts (particularly desperate) humanoids to Gnoll cults. As one such person discovered, once the individual forsakes their sanity and devotes themselves to feeding Yeenoghu, they are "never alone, never afraid, never hungry."
- A Load of Bull: Minotaurs resemble meldings of human (or ogre) and bovine, generally with bovid heads and legs against an otherwise humanoid frame.
- Beast in the Maze: As per archetype, they are good with mazes. In fact, they get racial traits to navigate them.
- Defector from Decadence: In the Nentir Vale, this trope is zigzagged. The minotaurs were originally created by the Primordial Baphomet as soldiers to try and wrest control of the wild from the Goddess Melora. When the Dawn War was lost, Baphomet fled to the Abyss, abandoning his creations, who were then taken in and raised to a civilized people by the combined efforts of Erathis and Moradin. When Baphomet became a Demon Prince, he was able to reach out to his children and corrupt many of them, forcing the gods Melora and Kord to destroy the minotaur empire of Ruul, scattering both the fallen minotaurs and those who either repented or had resisted to form their own clans.
- Enemy Within: Nentir Vale minotaurs all struggle with the demonic savagery that lurks in their hearts, courtesy of their spiritual link to their creator, Baphomet. The common minotaurs you fight as a player character represents one of those who lost the struggle.
- Fantastic Caste System: The minotaurs of the Nentir Vale divide their society into four distinct castes; Priest, Warrior, Commoner and Slave. However, there are innumerable gradients, subdivisions and refinements of each caste that make their society truly labyrinthine.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The minotaurs of Krynn are based upon the Roman Empire, complete with being surprisingly adept at sailing and naval battles.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The Krynnish minotaurs were originally slaves to the ogres during the Age of the First Dragonwars, the time of Huma. But, even before then, they had been slavers themselves. After Takhisis was defeated and they freed themselves, they went right back to slaving... and were then enslaved again by the ogres after the gods returned.
- The Maze: Minotaurs are heavily associated with labyrinths, and described as avid builders of maze-like structures. Taken Up to Eleven by the minotaurs of the Nentir Vale; not only do maze designs serve as clan sigils, but they put them everywhere. They wear them on their clothes and banners, put them on amulets and pendants, paint them on shields and armor, etch them into weapons, they even tattoo them into their flesh! They revere the maze so much because they actually use it as a spiritual symbol, embodying the struggle between the savage instincts cursing them from their creator, Baphomet, and their rational, thinking minds.
- One-Gender Race: Originally, standard AD&D minotaurs were stated to be all-male, and to reproduce with captured human women. D&D moved away from this idea quickly; female minotaurs became canonical first in the Dragonlance setting, and then were canonized in the Dragon article "Ecology of the Minotaur" in issue #116. By 3rd edition, female minotaurs were fully normal.
- Rage Against the Heavens: In the Nentir Vale, many minotaurs and minotaur clans hold a deep and abiding hatred for the gods as a result of the destruction of Ruul. More subtly, even goodly minotaurs generally refuse to worship Melora and Kord, for their role in destroying Ruul in the first place.
- Religious Bruiser: Nentir Vale minotaurs are usually highly religious, with evil ones worshipping their creator, Baphomet, whilst benevolent ones worship Erathis, Moradin, Bahamut and Pelor. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that, even without their grudge against Melora and Kord, as the Unaligned gods of wilderness and battle, the two are probably too close to the temptations of Baphomet for non-evil minotaurs to feel comfortable worshiping them: Pelor and Bahamut's tenets of focusing on honor and using strength for goodness serve to reinforce their will against their Enemy Within, whilst accepting their "inner beast" or revelling in strength for its own sake is a deceptively narrow step away from Baphomet's malevolent creed.
Duthka'githA mutant offshoot of the githyanki race created at the order of the lich-queen Vlaakith CLVII, duthka'gith bear the essence of the fiendish red dragon Ephelomon in their veins, adding draconic and fiendish might to the power of the githyanki. Duthka'gith were introduced in Polyhedron #159, which was first printed in Dungeon #100.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: In 3rd edition, they essentially look like red-orange githyanki.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: They were created to serve as military elite leaders for the githyanki armies, and as part of that, they are much more powerful than their ordinary githyanki relatives.
- Breath Weapon: Like any creature with red dragon blood, duthka'gith can spew flames at people.
- Extra Parent Conception: The ritual for creating duthka'gith artificially involves taking a fertilized githyanki egg and magically fusing the unhatched embryo with the "seed" of Ephelomon, imbuing them with the fiendish red dragon's fundamental nature.
- Gone Horribly Right: Vlaakith CLVII intended for the duthka'gith to embody the best of githyanki, red dragons and fiends. She got that... but she also got the worst of all three races as well. Duthka'gith are inherently chaotic, amazingly arrogant, disdainful of the restrictions of normal githyanki society, impulsive, boorish and savage.
- Horned Humanoid: Their 4e artwork depicts them as more visibly hybridized between githyanki and dragons, part of which takes the form of massive horns.
- Large and in Charge: Duthka'gith are significantly larger than their githyanki ancestors, averaging at 7ft tall and 210 pounds.
- Man Bites Man: They have a powerful bite attack inherited from their draconic ancestry.
- Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid: Half githyanki and half red dragon, with traces of fiend to go with it.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Played with. At 7ft tall, nobody would call them "small" normally, but they are strong as lesser giants, who tend to average a good three or four feet minimum on them in comparison.
- Playing with Fire: Needless to say, duthka'gith like fire attacks a lot, especially because they're immune to it. They're particularly drawn to the Holocaust Warrior prestige class, a Gish specialized in fiery spells and attacks.
- Psychic Powers: They possess all of the same psionic abilities as a purebred githyanki.
- Super Strength: Duthka'gith are immensely strong, with a whopping +8 positive modifier to their Strength score in 3.5. For comparison, that kind of strength bonus is on par with ogres and trolls!
Savage and primeval, the lizardfolk are swamp-dwelling reptilian humanoids, often portrayed as primitive even compared to orcs and goblins. Large, thick-skinned and powerful, they are not necessarily hostile, but are territorial and often have a rather alien morality.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: The Lizard Kings and Queens get into power by enforcing their will over prospective subjects.
- Barbarian Tribe: Less so than orcs or gnolls, but they're still a primitive, barter-based and shamanistic tribal society, live in scattered tribes and clans in the wilderness and only value things if they're good to eat or can be otherwise used to obtain and defend food and territory.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Their mindsets are alien in comparison to other humanoids. Beyond lacking emotions, they just don't get things like mourning the dead; what's the point? Just eat the fresh meat and move on. There's even a "lizardfolk quirk" table to aid roleplay, and one of them is "you have learned to laugh, and you do so at any emotional moment so you can fit in with your (warmblooded) companions".
- Brains Evil, Brawn Good: Invoked in the third edition "Ecology of the Lizardfolk" article in Dragon. To cut a long story short, the lizardfolk creation myth is that originally there were two hermaphroditic divine lizard-beasts; Semuanya (their god/dess) and Kecuala. However, whilst Semuanya was nothing more than a beast, concerning itself only with feeding, sleeping and breeding, Kecuala was a thinking creature that constantly contemplated the world around it, until one day it thought so much it split itself into two creatures; the first male and female lizardfolk. Intelligence is thusly demonized on a religious basis, with Semuanya's cult preaching that only by shedding the unnatural practices of thought and returning to primal savagery will the lizardfolk spiritually purify themselves and be remade as Kecuala.
- The Caligula: The Lizard Kings and Queens, due to their demonic ancestry, are sadistic, ruthless, and arbitrarily cruel. They're also voracious eaters with a hankering for the flesh of sapient creatures; if not fed with humanoid victims, they will devour their own people, up to the point they will eat their own tribes to extinction if not sated.
- Everybody Wants the Hermaphrodite: Subverted; the hermaphroditic lizardfolk are regarded as holy, being made in Semuanya's image, but their intelligence alienates them from their mono-gendered kinsfolk, who regard intelligence as an unnatural and undesirable trait. Furthermore, they're sterile, so they can't have children anyway.
- Foil: Lizardfolk, like gnolls, are portrayed as having a god with an animal-like personality, which makes it extremely disinterested in the affairs of its mortal worshippers and too unintelligent to realize the potential dangers of this. However, whereas gnolls have almost entirely been usurped from their near-dead god, Gorellik, by the demon prince Yeenoghu, the lizardfolk haven't yet been swayed away from their god, Semuanya, although the presence of Lizard Kings & Queens suggests that they could suffer the same fate in the future.
- The lizardfolk racial god, Semuanya, has been portrayed as this since it first appeared in "Monster Mythology" for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, being worshipped as the female Breeder and as the male Watcher & Seeker simultaneously.
- According to the third edition "Ecology of the Lizardfolk" article in Dragon, lizardfolk are occasionally hatched who have both female and male sexual traits. This is rare, because lizardfolk gender is controlled by the temperature their eggs are incubated at (like a crocodile's), and the precise temperature fluctuations needed to cause such a birth tend to kill the unborn hatchlings. These lizardfolk are invariably smarter than their single-gendered kinsfolk, and are regarded as being touched by divinity, so they tend to become shamans. That said, they are outsiders for their intelligence at the same time as they are revered.
- Lizard Folk: The Trope Codifier, in fact — D&D's lizardfolk are one of the earliest widespread examples of this trope, and their portrayal as reclusive, territorial swamp-dwelling barbarians heavily influenced depictions of lizardfolk in other works.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Unlike other monster races, traditionally, only the Lizard Kings/Queens are actually evil, due to their demon-tainted ancestry; normal lizardfolk are typically neutral in alignment, being firm believers in live and let live. Even those serving under the Lizard Kings & Queens are only acting out of self preservation.
- Super Toughness: The durability of lizardfolk scales often gives them a natural resilience, to the point of making a naked lizardfolk about as well-protected as a human in light armor.
- To Serve Man: They may not be evil, but they still like to eat human flesh. Depending on edition, this may just be a result of near-Blue-and-Orange Morality; they don't specifically prefer sapient prey, but in their culture, meat is meat, so once they kill something, it's their right to eat it.
- Underground Monkey: There are a lot of different subraces of lizardfolk that have appeared over the editions and in different settings.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: They have no interest in money or jewels... which makes sense given they are typically presented as Stone Age tribal societies who live exclusively by hunting and gathering. One cannot eat a gem, so what good is it?