You know, there are a ton of races in Dungeons & Dragons 5E. There are dozens upon dozens of these things, and they do all sorts of great acts, and provide hours of reading… Sometimes, you just need a little bit of simplicity. The Human is the perfect option for the player who just wants a good race. In the Forgotten Realms, Humans are the jack of all trades, but can master some things if they want to. They are very powerful in the right hands! Our Human 5E guide will help you build a good one.
Human 5E Lore
Humans, introduced in the Player’s Handbook, are a lot of things. Because there are so many types of humans, all across the realm, they have people who can handle every single role in the book. Blacksmith, vagabond, cult leader, wizard, politician… Depending on where you look, humans can do it all! They live for about as long as they do in real life – usually less than a century – and stand about as tall.
Humans have a particular ability to keep a civilization alive through centuries. Rather than allowing on singular storytellers or scribes to keep tradition, humans must continuously adapt to new information. Other races can rely on their near-immortality, but for humans, immortality is little more than a dream. Despite this, this is the most open-armed race in the game; human civilizations are very rarely just filled with humans, instead accepting any race that wishes to do trade or live there. Other races see humans as almost adorable, due to their tiny lifespan and desperation to prove themselves.
That’s because humans are incredibly ambitious. They want to be the greatest in the world, and wish to be written in the history books. This causes these human civilizations to usually be progress-oriented, and humans tend to not understand tradition as much as other races. They’ll also be very aggressive when it comes to challenges, but perhaps not to the extent of other races. You can’t be in the history books if you get killed instantly!
There are a ton of ethnicities that you can choose from in the Forgotten Realms, but that’s hardly important. Humans can do whatever, wherever, but if you’re looking for tokens, almost any race can be represented. Check out our Human name guide for better information about the nine different ethnicities.
In Eberron, humans are a gigantic catalyst for Dragonmarks, and tend to have it more often than any other race, and with a larger variety.
Humans have two options introduced in the Player’s Handbook, and a ton of subraces in Eberron: Rising from the Last War.
The only attributes shared by all humans are;
- Medium Size, 30 ft Speed. The standard for any race. You can move 6 squares, and you can stand behind anything 5 feet tall. You’re not breaking any backs, here!
- Languages. You can speak one language of your choice. Draconic is a great option, if your DMs don’t have any sort of insight to give you. Elven, Sylvan, and Giant are some other fairly common options.
- +1 to All Ability Scores. Really… really interesting. Most races have such an intense focus, but humans can do it all. This is awkward most of the time; Fighters don’t need all of mental stats, and most classes really don’t either. However, for any Medium Armor class that likes to be in melee… Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution is nice. Any class that really wants to have a ton of mental stats and wants to have physical stats might like normal Human.
Mark of Finding
Be sure to talk with your DM before taking a Dragonmark! Usually, these are locked to Eberron.
- +2 Wisdom, +1 Constitution. Wisdom is a great stat. Out of all of the mental options, you get the best saving throw, and the best skill in the game with Perception. However, this is probably not what you want to invest in if you’re not a Cleric or Druid. Constitution is a fantastic +1 stat to have, as well.
- Languages. You lose your free language and are forced to have Goblin. Good language for the early game, bad as time goes on. Goblins can only last so long!
- Hunter’s Intuition. Insane! You get a d4 on Perception, the most rolled skill in the game. Survival isn’t bad to get the d4 to, either!
- Finder’s Magic. Hunter’s mark is a great damage spell… But not very useful if you’re using that Wisdom to cast spells. Hunter’s Mark only works for you if you deal damage with weapons. Otherwise, it’s just kind of a bad version of Locate Object… Which you also get.
- Spells of the Mark. Not incredible spells here, but you get some fun divination spells… Like Divination. Clerics and Druids get a ton of different spells to work with, though they share a lot of magic with the list.
Mark of Handling
- +2 Wisdom, +1 Any Other. Wisdom is fantastic, since it improves a fantastic save and some of the best skills in the game. Your +1 can go to any stat you’d like, like Dexterity for AC or Constitution for health. Your +2 Wisdom does push you towards some specific classes, like Druid, Cleric, or Monk.
- Wild Intuition. These aren’t too important. Maybe Animal Handling lets you sneak by some neutral animals. Intelligence (Nature) can save you from eating poison berries, or finding specific targets, so that’s nice! Though at some point, you just don’t need to care about natural occurrences.
- Primal Connection. Great, if you can find animals to use them on. Can avoid encounters and make some new friends, but those friends are only of a singular type…
- The Bigger They Are. Until now. Now you get a few other types, which is absolutely fascinating! You can cast these spells on some creatures that are not supposed to be your friend. This is hilarious, and is honestly the main reason to go for this.
- Spells of the Mark. Some pretty bad ones here, though Conjure Animals for Clerics is pretty awesome.
Mark of Making
- +2 Intelligence, +1 Any Other. Intelligence isn’t great. It’s a pretty unreliable saving throw to have to make, and you don’t get much use of the many Intelligence skills. You’ll want to make use of this with Artificer or Wizard. The +1 to Any Other should then be invested into a defensive stat to keep your caster alive.
- Artisan’s Intuition. Arcana checks are probably the most common Intelligence check, so it’s nice to throw a d4 on there. Any arcanist will love the artisan’s tool buff, but tools just tend to be not very important.
- Maker’s Gift. Tools tend to be not very important. Still, this is good flavor, and if you’re creative there are some things that tools can be great at.
- Spellsmith. Mending is a fairly useful cantrip, especially if your Rogue rolls awfully at lockpicking. Magic Weapon is great early on, and you don’t have to concentrate, allowing your party to get stellar early-game value… However, it never gets past +1. That’s annoying! At least it’s a buffed version of Magic Weapon.
- Spells of the Mark. These spells are, annoyingly, mostly available to Wizards and Artificers alike. You could theoretically play another magic class, but your stats weigh you heavily towards those two. Still, there’s some spells that you can learn that you couldn’t otherwise. That’s worth something.
Mark of Passage
- +2 Dexterity, +1 Any Other. Dexterity is a God Stat. Dexterity improves attack rolls, AC, a good saving throw, and some good skill checks. Most classes can benefit from a high dexterity score (unless they’re in heavy armor). Then, your +1 can go into an important stat, like a Casting stat, or into Constitution to keep you alive.
- Courier’s Speed. 1 extra square of movement might not sound like much, but it’s actually pretty stellar. This is 1 more square of repositioning, of chasing down opponents, of escaping from a trap… You name it!
- Intuitive Motion. Acrobatics is a fairly well-used skill check, and now you add a d4 to it. Awesome! Less awesome is the fact that vehicles will probably never come up unless you force it to happen. But when it does happen, you enjoy that d4 to guiding horses.
- Magical Passage. Misty Step is my favorite spell in the game. It’s so cheap, and it makes you move across the map with ease. Great for offense or defense.
- Spells of the Mark. Some pretty cool spells here. Lets Clerics or Druids learn Misty Step, which is crazy good. Alternatively, a Warlock or Wizard can learn Freedom of Movement… You’ve got some interesting builds here!
Mark of Sentinel
- +2 Constitution, +1 Wisdom. Constitution is required for every class, so having a ton of it is nice. Health and saving throws against deadly effects will come in handy. However, you get Wisdom as your +1, which means you’re probably forced to play a Wisdom caster. Wisdom isn’t a great offensive stat without magic behind it. Still, great stats.
- Sentinel’s Intuition. Insight is good in social situations, Perception is good at every point in your life. The d4 will be appreciated for both of these.
- Guardian’s Shield. That’s a lot of defense! +5 to AC means you’re 25% less likely to get hit. Great for what might be a Cleric build, or any build that might want to tank up.
- Vigilant Guardian. Good for protecting your squishy casters, or squishy melees. If you’re playing this race as a backline character, then Vigilant Guardian will be very useful. Otherwise… I hope your Monk is tanky enough to take a few hits! Still, this keeps people alive, just mind your positioning.
- Spells of the Mark. A lot of very good, very list-restricted spells here. A Druid with the ability to cast Shield of Faith is pretty dang strong! This pushes race class towards Druid, though Clerics can still benefit from a few of the best Paladin spells.
This might be the best race in the game. We aren’t kidding.
- +1 to Two Stats. This puts you behind nearly every race in the game. At least you get to choose where the stats go, allowing you to build whatever class you’d prefer. Still, not getting that +2 kinda stinks.
- Skills. Any skill is good! This lets classes easily get access to skills they’d otherwise need to spend a background on. Standouts are things like Perception, any of the Charisma skills for classes with high Charisma, and Acrobatics.
- Feat. This is what most players go crazy over. Feats are insanely strong, giving huge buffs for specific build paths. They can range from simple buffs to social situations… To adding +10 to the damage rolls of your bows. Once you understand what feats are good, Variant Human becomes completely insane, and can be made into any class. And usually, they’re one of the best at any class!
Because of how variable Humans are, any class in the game is a good class for humans. However, what human you pick might change a bit, and humans do have a glaring weakness; Charisma casters. Okay, not exactly a “weakness”; they’re just not as good at them.
Good Classes for Humans
- Artificer. Mark of Making makes Humans an optimal choice for Artificer. You just get so many tools early on and even later that makes Artificer a great option. If you have a Feat in mind, Variant human can do just as well! Some feats that might be useful are feats like Tough or getting Heavy Armor proficiency.
- Barbarian. Humans can make great barbarians. Using your Variant feat for one of the weapon feats (Bludgeoner, Piercer, Slasher) or Great Weapon Master will vastly improve your damage. Your build options are great… Though mind your +1 Strength. You might want to take a Strength-improving feat like Athlete instead.
- Cleric. Cleric Humans are amazing. Variant humans can get Heavy Armor on any Cleric Domain right away, or improve the Cleric’s melee combat potential. Mark of Sentinel Humans can be great tanks, Finding can be the eyes of the party… You have so many choices.
- Druid. Just like Cleric, Humans are great druids. The Marks are fantastic for druids (even better than clercs). The variant feat is arguably less useful, but getting even Tough for a Druid can greatly improve survivability… Though you should probably have a build in mind! You might want some utility feat, like Fey Touched, instead.
- Fighter. Fighters live and die by feats. By getting one at level 1, you’re vastly improving your damage. Crossbow Mastery, Sharpshooter, Great Weapon Specialist… All amazing build paths that make you an instant carry in most fights.
- Monk. Fine choice; one of the best for Base Human! Monks really need Dex and Wisdom, but they also like Constitution, and a touch of Strength never hurts. However, Variant Human allows the Monk to get tankier, or faster, or have better utility… It’s a hard choice. Monk human is still great!
- Paladin. Like Monk, Base Human makes for a fine 5E Paladin. However, Variant Human allows the Paladin to deal a ton of damage with Great Weapon Master, or add new spells to their tiny list to make them better at countering enemy plans. Great choice!
- Ranger. Plenty to like about Ranger. The Mark of Handling is great flavor, and the Mark of Passage can be of great utility… However, you can get Sharpshooter extremely early. For most rangers, that’s a gigantic boon! You’re naturally great with a bow, so now you can just deal +10 damage. That’s… yeah, that’s pretty good.
- Rogue. Human Rogues aren’t the perfect class, but Mark of Passage can be gigantic for a Rogue build. Variant Rogues don’t have too many build options, but you can get extra durability, passable utility, or a tiny bit of extra damage with feats like Piercer. That idea is especially good for the Rogue archetypes that get auto-crits!
- Wizard. Mark of Making is great here, but so is the Variant system… Kinda up to you! Making gives good utility and some extra spells to work with, but Variant offers more build paths and the Skill… Legitimately hard choice!
Bad Classes for Humans
- Bard. “Bad” is not exactly good to say here… But why aren’t you playing a Half-Elf? The feat doesn’t really matter, unless you have a specific build in mind. No Human really can beat out Half-Elf in terms of what makes a good bard build. That being said… Human bards are fine.
- Sorcerer. Once again, the feat doesn’t really apply too much (though, the new Metamagic feat from Tasha’s Cauldron does make this more enticing). The extra versatility of the Human race is lost a bit on the Sorcerer, since they rely on that high Charisma from other classes. Does this make Human Sorcerer bad? No, just suboptimal compared to some other options Humans have.
- Warlock. Perhaps the best of the three Charisma classes for Humans, the Warlock still relies a lot on getting that +2 Charisma from your race. Half-Elves just tend to do the job better here, unless you want that Feat for whatever reason. Spellcasters just get less benefits in general from the free feat slot.
Humans are insanely strong. They have an infinite number of builds from level 1, and can handle any class just fine; even the “bad” classes aren’t even close to as bad as what other races deal with! Try out Human every now and then; you’ll be surprised how much fun Variant can be!
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