[Top 10] D&D: Most Popular Races

D&D Most Popular Race
What's your favorite race to play?

There are nine base races to chose from in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, but many more have been added over time through supplementary material. At this point, there are actually tons of different options to choose from. 

There’s a surprising lack of data about which races are the most and least popular – but as any D&D player will tell you, there are definitely races you see at pretty much every table and ones you almost never encounter. 

Here’s a list of the ten most popular D&D races, compiled using statistics from DND Beyond users collected in 2020, multiple online polls, and personal experience. 

10. Goliath

Descendants of giants, goliaths are 7–8 feet tall, hardy, and physically imposing. They live in mountainous regions as members of nomadic tribes and value strength, practicality, competition, and fairness above all else. 

Goliaths are semi-common – not as popular as the races at the very top of this list but still encountered pretty regularly. 

Best Classes for Goliaths

  • Goliaths are best in martial classes that rely heavily on Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity. Fighter or barbarian are two natural fits. 
  • Paladin is also an option for those who don’t care about prioritizing their Charisma score and are looking to use melee weapons more often than spellcasting. 
  • Cleric is also a workable option, especially if you choose the War Domain or something similar.  

9. Genasi 

Genasi are planetouched people whose appearance and abilities are tied to one of the four elements. Usually the children of mortal-genie relationships, occasionally genasi are created through surges of elemental power and planar convergences.

This is a really interesting bit of lore to work with and gives genasi a lot of fun roleplaying potential. And who wouldn’t want cool elemental powers? 

Best Classes for Genasi 

The best classes for genasi depend heavily on what subrace you choose.

  • Air genasi get a +1 to Dexterity, which makes them great rogues and rangers. 
  • Earth genasi have +1 to Strength. Combined with the +2 to Constitution that all genasi get, this makes them perfect barbarians and fighters. 
  • Fire genasi have +1 to Intelligence, which makes them good candidates for wizards. 
  • Water genasi get +1 to Wisdom. They can excel as clerics and their elemental-based powers work well thematically with the druid class. 

8. Halfling 

The Dungeons and Dragons version of hobbits, halflings are a base race available in the Player’s Handbook. They are traditionally portrayed as friendly, curious, and optimistic – though a player can decide to play against these stereotypes.  

The base races tend to be more popular partly because they’re more accessible, especially for new players. They also have the unique halfling trait Lucky, which lets you reroll all critical failures.

While not as common as humans or elves, halflings are still one of the more frequently played races. 

Best Classes for Halflings

  • Rogue halflings are incredibly common, as their +2 to Dexterity makes them an excellent fit for the class. Their Halfling Nimbleness also lets them move around the battlefield with ease. 
  • Ranger is another good choice for ghostwise, lotusden, and mark of healing halflings, as they get +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Wisdom. This also makes them decent clerics and druids.
  • Halflings can work well as Charisma-based spellcasters, specifically bards. 

7. Dwarf 

Dwarves are another core race in the Player’s Handbook and have been a fantasy staple since Tolkein. 

Dwarven societies can be found deep in the mountains where they mine precious ores, metals, and gemstones. They have a reputation as skilled warriors, miners, and craftsmen. 

Dwarves value tradition and loyalty and are deeply dedicated to their clans. They are known to be tenacious and determined to the point of stubbornness. 

Best Classes for Dwarves

  • Cleric is one of the more common choices for dwarves. Their durability helps the class in its dual role of healer and defender, and the +2 Constitution bonus makes it harder to break their concentration. The hill dwarf’s Wisdom increase makes them the best subrace for this option.  
  • Mountain dwarves get +2 to Constitution and Strength, making them great barbarians and fighters. 

6. Elf 

Elves are beautiful, ethereal beings that live for hundreds of years, giving them a unique perspective on the troubles of more short-lived races.

Elves in Dungeons and Dragons have a chaotic streak to them and value independence, freedom, and self-expression. Flexible, amused, and curious, they take more after the traditional ideas of the fey than other elven stereotypes. 

You can see why the graceful and elegant elves would be popular. You get to play a beautiful, aloof character with years of experience behind them who still doesn’t differ too much physically from a human. 

Best Classes for Elves

  • With the elf +2 bonus to Dexterity, this race shines in classes like rogue, ranger, and monk. 
  • Wood elves have a +1 to Wisdom, which makes this subrace specifically good for rangers and monks. Druid is also an option, and it makes thematic sense due to the wood elf’s connection with nature. 
  • High elves have a +1 to Intelligence and automatically know one cantrip from the wizard spell list, making them a natural fit for that class. 
  • Warlock is one of the best options for the drow subrace, with their +1 to Charisma. Their innate spellcasting also widens the warlock's narrow spell options. 

5. Half-Orc 

According to DND Beyond statistics, the half-orc was the fifth most popular race among users of the site in 2020. 

There’s been some controversy in the community about doing away with inherently evil races, but the half-orcs' rising popularity is a sign that we’re moving closer towards a more neutral attitude to races in D&D  – which is a good thing that can only increase player options! 

Best Classes for Half-Orcs

  • With their +2 to Strength and +1 to Constitution, barbarians and paladins are the top choices for half-orcs. Their racial features Relentless Endurance and Savage Attacks are also complementary to these martial classes. 
  • Savage attacks specifically combine well with the paladin's divine smite and the race's proficiency in intimidation supports the paladin's potential role as face of the party. 
  • They also make great fighters. 

4. Tiefling 

Tieflings have been hugely popular for a while now, even though they’re kind of controversial in the D&D community. Some dislike them because of their association with brooding, edgy characters while others like the unique roleplaying opportunities the race offers.

Tieflings are humans with infernal ancestry and are a hugely marginalized race within D&D canon. As an uncommon race, they often encounter prejudice and discrimination wherever they travel. 

Players are attracted to tieflings for the interesting roleplay opportunities available when you play a maligned race. They also have striking and unique aesthetics that players find attractive. 

Best Classes for Tiefling

  • Tieflings have a ton of variant and subrace options, which makes them a good fit for many different classes. They have some good racial features, good ability score increases, resistance to fire, and useful innate spellcasting. 
  • Many tiefling subraces include a bonus to Charisma, making them good candidates for the bard, warlock, and sorcerer classes. 
  • You’ll also often see rogue tieflings, as this class works well thematically with the lore and stereotypes of the race. Some of the subraces also offer bonuses to your Dexterity, which is useful for rogues. 

3. Dragonborn 

According to data from DND Beyond, Dragonborn were the third most played race among users of the site in 2020. With their draconic heritage, these humanoid lizards have breath weapons of various damage types which is an attractive feature to many players. 

As shown by some of the prior entries on this list, uncommon races have become more and more popular in the last few years. Dragonborn’s monstrous appearance makes them unique and their rarity in the world of D&D offers interesting roleplaying opportunities. 

Best Classes for Dragonborn

  • Paladin is probably the most optimal class for Dragonborn, with their +2 to Strength and +1 to Charisma. 
  • Sorcerer and Warlock are good options for those who are looking to play a spellcaster dragonborn. The race’s bonus to Charisma is useful, and the draconic bloodline sorcerer subclass works well thematically. 

2. Half-elf 

Half-elves have some great racial benefits, so it makes sense to see it so high up on this list. They get more stats and skills than almost any other race, can excel in pretty much any class, and give the player lots of flexibility in designing their character. 

As a half-elf, two ability scores of your choice are increased by 1 and your Charisma is increased by 2. You also get darkvision, fey ancestry, and proficiency in two skills of your choice. 

Their popularity might also be partially due to the nature of half-elves being torn between two different cultures and races, not quite fully accepted by either. They get the best of both worlds and are a nice option for those who don’t want to commit to the stereotypes of either humans or elves. 

Best Classes for Half-Elves

  • The best choices for half-elves are probably bard or paladin, as both these classes have Charisma as their primary ability modifier. 
  • Sorcerers and warlocks are also good choices. 
  • Workable in pretty much any other class as well

1. Human

Despite being a fantasy game that’s all about exploring the otherworldly and fantastical, humans have long been the most played race in Dungeons and Dragons. 

This is partially due to their racial advantages — humans get +1 to all ability scores, which makes them extremely versatile. The variant human gets +1 to two stats of their choice, one skill proficiency, and a feat right at level one and this customizability makes them appealing to players. 

The archetype of a human hero is also common in fantasy media, which might explain why it’s so attractive to players. In a world of fantastical creatures and supernaturally gifted races, you play as an ordinary everyman that preserves through pure strength of character and determination.

Best Classes for Humans 

  • The human fighter is an incredibly common combination. They’re both ultra customizable, giving players flexibility in how they want to shape their character. It’s also a ubiquitous fantasy stereotype. 
  • The truth is that humans can be adept in any class because of the flexibility their racial benefits grant them. 

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