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Human – A guide to D&D Races

Humans are an often-overlooked Race in Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), the butt of the joke, the ‘boring’ option, but the key word that applies to Humans is versatility. Humans are the most adaptable and changeable of all the D&D Races/ancestries and can be a great starting point for new players – or a challenge for more experienced ones.

Lore and Heritage

Human lore and heritage are without a doubt the most diverse of all the possible choices. With all of existing Human history to draw on, you are limited only by your imagination and the allowances of your Dungeon Master (DM).

Most of the existing D&D properties have a wide range of Human histories to draw on and they are ubiquitous across all properties. The Players Handbook contains information and names on nine Human cultures on the world of Faerûn – as many options as it provides for all the Races in total. Other properties contain further examples.

Defining Characteristics

The defining characteristic in Humans is their versatility. With no specific modifiers, Humans can be adapted to any environment. Humans can fill any of the range of hair, eye and skin tones that we are familiar with and have a tendency to form localised cultures over monolithic ones. Humans vary in height, from less than five feet tall to nearly seven feet tall, and range in weight from under 100 pounds to nearly 300 pounds; showing the greatest range and diversity of all the D&D Races.

Humans have the greatest range of ability scores in D&D, with the player having a plus one modifier to every Ability Score, unlike the other Races, who are often more specialised or proscriptive.

Humans have one of the shorter life-spans of all the Races but are more frequently defined by their deeds rather than their heritage, trying to fit as much into a short life-span as possible.

‘Variant’ Humans also have the option to replace their default boost to all attributes with a Feat instead, giving them the opportunity to specialise in line with their chosen Class.

Humans in Social Environments

Variability is again common here. Some Humans are shy, others gregarious. Some are aggressive, others peaceful. Every Human is their own creature in social situations, although Humans tend to be confident and often cocky as adventurers, particularly when surrounded by other Humans.

In most settings, Humans are the most common Race encountered, so it is often a good idea to have a Human as the ‘face’ of the group as Humans can often be xenophobic with the other Races and often prefer to deal with one of their own.

Individual Humans may vary greatly in social situations, so choose a level of sociability you feel comfortable with – if you are just starting out, there’s nothing wrong with playing a shy Human, but you might not want to play a Bard! Human personalities are also linked more closely to their Class or profession than those of other Races, so it is worth considering how your training affects your personality.

Humans in Combat Encounters

With their versatility in all things, Humans vary as much in combat as they do in social settings. Culture, Heritage and Class are also important considerations here. A Human culture based on the Vikings will take to combat enthusiastically, whereas a culture like the Romans would be more strategic. Others may be conflict avoidant altogether.

Class is also a consideration in combat – a Fighter is definitely going to be getting involved often, whereas a Wizard is more likely to hang back. Consider your Class and Heritage as a Human before committing to a combat strategy, but don’t be afraid to play to a stereotype – or to break one!

Reasons to Play Humans


Humans are the most versatile of all the Races and are well suited to whatever you build them for. Humans are able to fill most of the classic Fantasy tropes as well – what is more fantasy than a farm-boy fighter growing into a hero? This can also be used to ease you into the world – if you don’t know much lore or setting information, playing a Human from ‘a village in the middle of nowhere’ means giving your DM an opportunity to teach you the lore of their game world (DM’s LOVE this!) in character, giving both the character and the DM a chance to evolve their understanding as time goes by.

Reasons NOT to Play Humans

People might be mean to you?

There is no reason not to play a Human character!

In most game worlds, Humans are the most common type of sentient creature and therefore the most likely to be an adventurer. It could be argued that being a Human might seem a bit ‘generic’ to some, so it can be harder to assert your individuality in a world full of ‘your people’, meaning you don’t have a ‘hook’ for people to identify you early on, but would you really want to be referred to as “Master Dwarf” anyway?

Human Mechanics

For the standard human, all Ability Scored are increased by 1. They have a base walking speed of 30 and can speak Common and one extra language (player choice). All Alignments are found among humans.

‘Variant’ Humans improve only two Ability Scores by 1 each but also gain Proficiency in an extra Skill and a Feat of their choice (assuming prerequisites are met) at Level 1.

Written by Rawand Al-Issa

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