Human 5e Guide

Human 5e Guide: The Most Versatile Race

Humans may seem like one of the less exciting races in Dungeons & Dragons 5e, I know that party members have teased me for playing humans plenty of times. However, humans have a lot of depth in the Forgotten Realms for players to pull from when playing one.

Humans are also the most flexible of the playable races in 5e, allowing them to adapt to any class and offer a lot of utility to players that focus on solid builds and min-maxing. Regardless of which part of playing human appeals to you, you’ve come to the right place for everything you need to know to do so.

Welcome to our Human 5e Guide.

Key Info Up Front

Humans in 5e are focused on adapting to any D&D class or type of character that the player may want to make. They do not have as many Traits as other races in 5e, but they make up for it with solid ability boosts and an optional variant trait that gives the player a free feat at level one.

They are also among the most varied races in the setting, with various cultures and peoples for players to choose from to help define their character within the Forgotten Realms.

Human Lore

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In most official DnD settings, Humans are the youngest of all the races, and they tend to have one of the shortest lifespans. While humans may live for only a fraction of the time that Dwarves and Elves do, they make up for it in their sheer ambition.

Humans in DnD strive to embark on adventures, found great civilizations, and discover new things. Where other races are complacent in tradition, humans are always looking for new ideas and experiences, causing them to travel around much more than other races.

The shorter lifespan of humans also emphasizes leaving behind a legacy to achieve immortality within their culture. They care deeply about impacting the world around them and improving the lives of others.

They found stalwart cities built to last the test of time, establish empires that span entire continents, and form orders and creeds to take up mantles of responsibility for longer than one individual ever could, no matter their race.

Because of their love for adventure and the new, humans tend to be the most mingled race in the Forgotten Realms. Their race is reasonably well-liked and respected by all other races, meaning that no matter what region you find yourself in, a human likely isn’t too far off.

Their towns are also much more welcoming to outsiders than other races, making their settlements the most racially and culturally diverse. They also are the most common race to have children with others, leading to many humans with slight traits of other races like skin with a slight green tint or an immaculate beard.

Human Ethnicities

Due to their love of spreading out and adventuring, the human race has developed much more than the other races of DnD, leading to the creation of various ethnicities that each have their own culture, heritage, dialects, and regions.

This also helps players who decide to play a human character make one as close to one in the real world as they wish since those inspire many in-game cultures in the real world.

There are nine main ethnicities in 5e, but Dungeon Masters and players are encouraged to make their own and customize existing ones to fit any ideas they have for a character or setting. The nine official ethnicities are:

Calishite

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This ethnicity is found in the southwestern region of the Forgotten Realms. They tend to be slightly slimmer and shorter than average, with sandy brown eyes, hair, and skin.

Their culture also tends to favor names like Mehmen, Zasheir, and Bardeid.

Chondathan

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These humans dominate the central lands of the Forgotten Realms, mostly surrounding the Inner Sea. They tend to have green or brown eyes, are taller than average humans, and have hair ranging from dark blonde to black. Example names for this ethnicity in the Player’s Handbook include Gorstag, Helm, and Darvin.

Damaran

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The Damaran is predominant in the northwest areas of the Forgotten Realms. They tend to be of average physicality with a range of yellowish skin tones and brown or black hair.

The example names provided for them include Bor, Mival, and Katernin.

Illuskan

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These humans can be found in the northwestern regions and have blue or gray eyes with blue-black hair. They tend to be tall with light skin, but those who live in the most northwest areas of the Forgotten Realms are known to have blond or red hair.

Provided examples for names for the Illuskan include Lander, Amafrey, and Westra.

Mulan

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The Mulan humans come from the eastern and southeastern lands surrounding the Inner Sea. They most often have brown or hazel eyes, have black hair, are tall, and many culturally shave off all of their hair.

The Player’s Handbook gives names like Bareris, Arizima, and Nephis as examples of Mulan characters.

Rashemi

The Rashemi inhabit the region east of the Inner Sea and tend to live intermingled with the Mulan. They are short and muscular with tan skin, dark eyes, and black hair.

Some of their suggested names include Faurgar, Shaumar, and Yuldra.

Shou

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The Shou people come from a continent to the east of Faerûn. They have tan skin tinted with a yellow hue, have black hair with dark eyes, and cover the full range of human heights.

Their officially suggested names include Chen, Bai, and Qiao.

Tethyrian

This ethnicity is spread out all along the western coast of the Forgotten Realms. They have a tan skin that gets lighter the more north they hail from and have a mix of hair and eye colors.

They also use Chondathan names like Grim, Arveene, and Tessele.

Turami

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The Turami inhabit the southern regions of the Forgotten Realms and have darker skin. They also tend to be tall and muscular, with dark eyes and black hair.

The Player’s Handbook gives names like Anton, Salazar, and Faila as examples for the Turami.

Human Traits

Humans are a Medium-sized race with a base movement speed of 30 feet. They reach adulthood in their late teens and rarely live longer than 100 years like in the real world. They also can be a range of heights, ranging from just under five feet tall to a little over six feet tall.

When you create a human character, you automatically know Common and can pick one other language to know as well, usually derived from the peoples and races that you interacted with growing up.

Human characters also don’t lean particularly toward any alignment, meaning that any are equal options. For their ability score increase, each one of their abilities is increased by one, making them a learner of all but masters of none right off the bat.

However, the Player’s Handbook also describes optional variant starting traits for humans on page 31. I love these D&D rules when making a human character, but you’ll have to make sure that your Dungeon Master is okay with them beforehand.

The optional rules give humans a plus one to two of their ability scores, proficiency in any skill, and a free feat. I prefer these rules greatly because they help give your character some more personality right off the bat and help you define your character’s playstyle with the starting feat.

Roleplaying a Human

Because of how varied humans are as a race in 5e, roleplaying your character can be influenced by numerous factors. Regardless of those factors, however, there are some elements of humans that you should incorporate into your roleplaying. Firstly, you should incorporate one of the most critical aspects of humans: their ambition.

Regardless of whether you are a sinister warlock working the shadows or a heroic Paladin hoping to spread the word of their deity across the land, your character should be aiming high. They should strive to leave a bigger impact on the world around them and try to build a legacy to leave behind after their relatively short lives have passed.

If it’s an evil human, it is also good to have them strive to extend their lives to match up more with other races, whether through lichdom or another nefarious way.

When roleplaying a human character, you should also emphasize the cultural origins of the character. Whichever of the ethnicities you decide to use for your character, you should work with your Dungeon Master to better understand its regional area and culture in the setting.

This will allow you to call back to it when natural and will help you know how your character would most likely view the world and events within it.

How you play your character should also consider the class that you choose. Since human culture tends to focus more on institutions than other 5e races, the training that your character received for their class should play a large role in how the character acts and how they view their role in the world.

If you go with a Rogue, you are likely part of an established gang or guild that can give you connections and specific values to follow. If you’re a Warlock Class, you likely have some association with a cult or a controversial religious order. This can help flesh out your character even more and help give them a greater connection to the setting and campaign.

The Best Classes for Humans

While humans can effectively fill any class thanks to their traits, there are some that they tend to fit slightly better in.

So, feel free to make your human character any class, but here are three suggestions for great options if you need some inspiration.

Fighter

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While humans are sometimes considered the blandest of the 5e races, fighters are similarly considered the blandest of the system’s classes. However, that is far from the truth if you take the time to define your fighter to put a unique twist on the class.

Fighters work well with any weapon, making them seem like they are lacking compared to other martial classes like the Paladin or Rogue.

However, the fighter and its subclass are one of the best classes to be defined via feats. This makes humans created with the variant human trait option one of the very best races to play a fighter, as you can start with a feat at level one that other races couldn’t get until level four at the earliest.

Using a feat will help define your fighter’s approach to combat, whether that be making them more efficient with ranged weapons, allowing them to redirect damage toward them as a tank, or helping them cast spells more efficiently in close combat.

Subclasses

  • Arcane Archer (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything): This class is a fun concept about using a limited number of Arcane Shots to shoot unique ammunition types that give a ranged fighter some more utility. It works well with feats that feature buffs to your ranged combat ability, but the class is widely considered a tad underpowered despite its fun concept. So, if you want to go this route, I recommend talking to your DM about options to beef it up just a little bit by basing your number of Arcane Shots on your Intelligence Modifier or Proficiency Bonus.
  • Battle Master: This is one of the more complicated Fighter subclasses, which comes with many variations and options to take advantage of. This subclass is a powerful option if your DM doesn’t allow you to get a feat at the first level since it gives you various combat maneuvers that allow you to react to various combat situations. However, if you can take a feat, I strongly recommend taking the Martial Adept feat to expand your options even further.
  • Cavalier (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything): If you imagine your human fighter to be a tanky defender of the people, you have to look no further than the Cavalier. This subclass is one of the best tank classes because it eventually prevents enemies from simply moving around you without fear of being hit with an Attack of Opportunity. If you can take a feat with this class, I can’t recommend the Sentinel feat on page 169 to make your Attacks of Opportunity even more threatening to enemies.
  • Champion: This subclass is a simple but effective way to play a fighter. However, if you are playing a human fighter, it may end up feeling more on the bland side, but this also makes it a great starting point for newer players who are looking to play a classic human fighter.
  • Echo Knight (Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount): If playing a fighter seems exciting but dull to you, the Echo Knight is exactly what you’re looking for. This subclass gives your character the ability to summon a version of themself from an unrealized timeline to fight alongside you, leading to incredible damage output for min-maxers and a ton of cool flavor to build upon. However, since the class is less traditional, you should talk to your DM and make sure they are cool with implementing it into their campaign first.
  • Eldritch Knight: This subclass gives the fighter some magic options to incorporate into their fighting style. While their spell options are on the limited side, the ability to use magic to buff themselves or their allies makes them an even more important part of the battlefield. And if you can take the War Caster feat on page 170 of the Player’s Handbook, your casting abilities will be even stronger.
  • Psy Warrior (Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything): This subclass is a mix of the Eldritch Knight and the Battle Master, but with a more straightforward approach that guides the player to an optimal playstyle using psionic abilities. This subclass still manages to be effective and is an excellent way for players who want more complexity as a fighter without having too many overwhelming options to choose from.
  • Purple Dragon Knight (Swordcoast Adventurer’s Guide): This sub-class focuses on the handsome knight archetype by trying to make the fighter a viable option as the face of the party. However, this is difficult to do in 5e’s framework making this option a decent way to give the fighter some more support options but leaves it underperforming similar sub-classes for the Bard or Paladin.
  • Rune Knight (Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything): This sub-class gains runes that offer passive buffs and new active abilities. However, out of the six runes available to the class, you’ll get five, meaning that there is little variation between different Rune Knight characters. However, if you don’t mind this, it is a solid way to give the fighter class some more resources, and it is flexible enough to work with almost any approach to playing the fighter, regardless of what weapon or feat you hope to use.
  • Samurai (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything): The Samurai takes notes from the pop-culture icons and focuses almost entirely on increasing your damage output as a fighter. I think this sub-class is a ton of fun to play with a lot of flavors to influence your roleplay. If you want to run a Samurai, I recommend focusing on using two-handed weapons and picking up the Great Weapon Master feat on page 167 of the Player’s Handbook to increase your damage output even more.

Roleplaying a Human Fighter

If you decide to play a human fighter, most of the impact on your roleplaying will come from your sub-class. Each one comes with an explanation for how it fits into the world you’re playing in as well as shaping how your character views and approaches combat.

So, if you play a Samurai, you should incorporate your staunch adherence to martial weapons. If you play an Echo Knight, you should include your knowledge of different timelines and the multiverse into your dialogue and morality.

If you play a Cavalier, you may want to lean into the traditional knight archetype that values chivalry and aims to protect the innocent. The fighter is as versatile as the human, so there are countless options for you to choose from to make your perfect character.

Rogue

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Humans also fit very naturally into rogue builds, especially if you use the basic human traits that provide an overall boost to your ability scores. Humans fit these classes particularly well because the rogue emphasizes mastering a variety of skills for various situations.

With the human’s increase in all ability scores, human rogues are even more proficient at the full range of skills than most races. So, if you want to play a human that strikes from the shadows and disappears before they are found, you’ll need to look at these subclasses.

Subclasses

  • Arcane Trickster: Much like the fighter’s Echo Knight, the Arcane Trickster imbues the rogue class with some magical options. These spells give your character a lot more utility on and off the battlefield and help you get where you want to go without being seen. If you get a feat at the first level, I recommend pairing this subclass with either Lucky, Keen Mind, or Dash.
  • Assassin: The Assassin is one of the most basic and straightforward sub-classes available to the rogue. If you like dealing high damage with a single blow, this is your sub-class. Since the class doesn’t focus on utility, your ability score increases won’t have as big of an impact here. However, if you can take a feat, look at either Dash or Savage Attacker.
  • Inquisitive (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything): This sub-class highly relies on playing in a campaign where information plays a pivotal role. However, if your game features that game style, you’d be hard-pressed to find a sub-class that gives you more options to do so. This also makes humans a great option for this sub-class as it relies on a variety of ability scores to be effective in its role. If you go with this sub-class, I insist you take either the Keen Mind or Observant feats to round out your abilities.
  • Phantom (Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything): This sub-class gives rogues the ability to call on the spirits of dead ancestors to bestow unique abilities upon them. There are a lot of interesting abilities in this option, and its flavor can be well integrated with your character’s ethnicity and their associated culture. If you’re looking for a lot of fun roleplay opportunities as a human, the Phantom is a solid option. Here’s all you need to know about the Phantom Rogues.
  • Mastermind (Swordcoast Adventurer’s Guide and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything): Like the Inquisitive, this sub-class is highly tuned to a particular style of game. In this instance, it is one with plenty of mystery and social interactions. Since this means the class relies on various abilities and skill checks, Humans are a very strong option, and I would say go with either Keen Mind or Observant again for your feats if you go this route.
  • Scout (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything): The Scout is the rogue’s answer to the nature and survival tactics typically found in the ranger. It allows you to help your party find its way and survive in even the most hazardous conditions. Playing a human scout doesn’t come with too many direct benefits, but taking the Dungeon Delver, Alert, Mobile, or Keen Mind feat will serve you well.
  • Soulknife (Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything): The Soulknife is the rogue’s psionics sub-class and allows you to infiltrate the minds of NPCs and attack them from within. It is one of the rogue’s strongest sub-classes and comes with a lot of fun and unique abilities, but it doesn’t benefit too much from being played by a human.
  • Swashbuckler (Swordcoast Adventurer’s Guide and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything): This sub-class makes the rogue a bonafide pirate, allowing them to attack effectively and keep their footing no matter where their adventures take them. It also has utilities to play as the face of the party, making it benefit highly from feats such as Actor, Mobile, and Athlete.
  • Thief: This sub-class embodies what most players think of as the classic rogue. It focuses on sneaking through areas without being seen, taking what you want, and ensuring that nobody even notices you were there. It is a strong option for a stealth-based build, and if you go this route, I say you should take either the Alert or Mobile feat.

Roleplaying a Human Rogue

Like playing a fighter, your human rogue’s personality will also be significantly impacted by your sub-class, so take that into account. However, I’ve also found this particular character type to work well with a personality focused on striking back on the world or making a big name for oneself when coming up from a poor or disadvantaged background.

This works particularly well if you play into the idea of feeling slighted by the shorter lifespan of humans, which can drive your character to be more daring and risky in establishing their legacy.

Artificer (Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything or Eberron: Rising from the Last War)

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Since Artificers take DnD much closer to a Steampunk setting, you should talk to your DM before deciding to play this class. However, Artificers are all about building magical trinkets and items to augment their abilities and those of their companions.

This makes them a pivotal role in any party, and their natural curiosity and handiness make them fit right in with the typical temperament of humans in DnD. However, since they’re only included in two books, they have few subclasses for players to choose from.

Subclasses

  • Alchemist: The Alchemist sub-class focuses on creating various concoctions to assist yourself and your allies in whatever dangerous situations your adventuring group finds itself in. This works well with the adaptability of humans and allows them to augment their varied abilities to adapt to any situation.
  • Armorer: The easiest way to describe this sub-class is Ironman but in DnD. This sub-class allows the artificer to fabricate a special suit of armor that augments their abilities and makes them a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. This makes you much more capable in combat, so I recommend pairing it with feats such as Sentinel, Dual Wielder, Great Weapon Master, Charger, or War Caster.
  • Artillerist: The Artillerist is a ranged sub-class that focuses on hurling projectiles from spells and buildable turrets. This allows you to provide utility across a bigger battlefield area while also keeping you safe from harm. This subclass doesn’t benefit much from a universal ability increase, but it does get improved rather nicely by the Sharpshooter, Spell Sniper, and Alert feats.

Roleplaying a Human Artificer

Playing a human artificer is about playing into the race’s innate curiosity and desire to explore new possibilities. This can take the form of an obsession with magical items, a drive to improve the lives of others through new inventions or want to secure your name in the history books by making a new technology that the world can’t imagine being without.

You can roleplay a human artificer even better if you incorporate it into the culture of your ethnicity as well.

FAQs

Question: Is human a good race in 5e?

Answer: Yes, especially if you can use the variant human traits. The versatility of the race makes it capable in any class or role within the party, which is something that no other race in 5e can claim.

Question: What size are humans in 5e?

Answer: Humans in 5e closely replicate humans in the real world. They are classified as Medium size creatures that can range from around five to six feet with various weights.

Question: Are humans in every DnD setting?

Answer: Yes, every official DnD setting includes humans as a playable race. However, if your Dungeon Master is running a homebrewed campaign or setting, you should check with them first to ensure that humans are included.

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