Sometimes, when creating a character for Dungeons & Dragons 5E, you want simplicity. There are quite a few monstrous races that are somewhat simplistic in lore and being. Their actions can be leveled as tribal or simplistic. Of those races, the Lizardfolk might be the most obvious choice. Lizardfolk are shown as enemies in most campaigns, and very easy-to-understand ones at that. Our Lizardfolk 5E guide will describe why they might act this way, what you can do to personalize them, and what they do best.
Lizardfolk 5E Lore
Lizardfolk, introduced to us via Volo’s Guide to Monsters, hail from lands lethal and uncivilized. They are born solidly in the middle of the food chain, and are taught to conquer it all… Or become food trying. Lizardfolk who survive long enough to become an adult are carved from this mold. Male or female, all Lizardfolk are muscled, tall, intimidating, but know how to stay subtle and out of the way when things aren’t going their way. Their scales are good for camouflaging in the jungle, but their claws and teeth make them quite noticeable in towns.
Lizardfolk are bred by logic. If something is worthy of fear, then the Lizardfolk avoids it. While they are more than capable of feeling emotions, they shun or abstract emotion enough that their typical fear is simply one of survival; don’t be in the way of that thing. Aggression is only necessary when the Lizardfolk is defending itself or needs to eat. They don’t get roused to fighting by insults or dares; however, insults might cause the Lizardfolk to feel that that particular creature is worthy of anger.
Pleasure is somewhat different. Lizardfolk don’t grow up with many sources of pleasure, such as delicious food or drink or an adventuring companion. If there is something that will allow them to avoid fear, then they will find it pleasurable. A very simple way to earn a Lizardfolk’s affection is to help them survive in a situation where they are sure they will die. Obviously, what can kill one of these draconic behemoths will be very scary indeed… But the trust of the Lizardfolk might be worth risking your life, because they will do much to protect those that bring them happiness. The “scaleless” are especially worth pitying; how are you supposed to survive without any sort of natural defenses? Many Lizardfolk become guards and defensive party members out of pity.
The binary thought processes of the standard Lizardfolk is strange to most races. Dead companions should be eaten, because they are a viable source of meat. Love doesn’t exist because it is an obstacle for the sustaining of the tribe. A Lizardfolk who lives in a pleasurable environment might be taught emotions, but it will be a hard-fought battle to tear them away from their instincts.
Lizardfolk names are Draconic in nature. Check out our Lizardfolk naming guide for some inspiration.
Since Lizardfolk are one-note and come from a pretty selective area of Toril, they have one statblock.
- +2 Constitution, +1 Wisdom. +2 Con, a blessing and a curse. You’ll be happy that you’re so tanky; a ton of health and bonus to Con saves to protect against awful diseases and poisons. But your +2 is not going towards anything offensive, meaning your damage and abilities will naturally lag behind other classes. +1 Wisdom helps a little; Wisdom is arguably the best stat in the game, influencing your best mental saving throws, Perception, and Survival checks. However, once again, this is a defensive stat unless you’re one of two casters. You’re durable in most ways! But that can make you slow at taking down enemies.
- Medium Size, 30 ft Speed. Standard array. lizardfolk are massive creatures, though not much taller than 6 feet. You’re a bit heavy, which can lead to problems or problem solving.
- Swim Speed. Swimming is a niche skill in the best of times, but you ignore the checks to swim well. That can be very useful if you need to explore underwater or even solve a few basic problems. This obviously gets better if you’re doing an underwater or coastal campaign.
- Bite. 1d6 + Strength is a good baseline for unarmed damage, much higher than the base number. You’re always armed, and you’re respectable for DPR even without a weapon. That’s nice, but in most cases you’re going to want to use a weapon to pump out numbers instead.
- Cunning Artisan. Really cool! Also kind of useless? You can make a ton of great items with as little as a short action, which can be great for making money or emergency materials. Just make sure you have some dagger or something on hand. This is designed as an emergency weapon thing, but it’s definitely great as a money-making scheme. You can make a damn dragonhide shield in an hour! That’s kinda sick!
- Hold Breath. It’s almost like breathing underwater? It doesn’t matter at all, but hey, maybe you can roll a Dexterity save to hold your breath if your enemies try and gas you. Good for searching for things underwater, though.
- Hunter’s Lore. Two proficiencies! Animal Handling is niche, Nature is fine, Perception is a must, Stealth is great, adn Survival is good. You’ve got some good choices here, and the chance to grab free Perception is ridiculous!
- Natural Armor. A rare thing to get; 13 + Dexterity. This is pretty high for AC, if you’re going for a Light or Unarmored build. And you can still wear a shield! It won’t keep up with magic items, unless you find items that help your unarmored AC. Look for things like Bracers of Defense, unless you’re using a shield.
- Hungry Jaws. A really, really strong reason to play a Lizardfolk. Once per short rest, you can make a bite attack which deals damage and “heals” you for your Constitution modifier. That can be a huge boost to your durability! And it’s like a teeny tiny Action Surge. Two-in-one bonus.
- Languages. Draconic is great! Ancient arcane language, great for late-game and early-game alike.
Great, you have a ton of awesome, if somewhat situational, class features. This can let you take a few directions with the Lizardfolk; not too many, but a few.
Good Classes for Lizardfolk
- Barbarian. Constitution is an essential part of the Barbarian’s tool kit. Lizardfolk are far from perfect Barbarians; you’re missing out on the Strength that Barbarians want. Instead, you get a small Wisdom boost, some great skills, and Hungry Jaws… Might be worth it! Especially if you’re starting at level 4 or so and can make up for your lower Strength.
- Cleric. Fantastic choice. You’ll be tanky as all get-out, and able to cast very, very strong spells. You can use Cantrips to mess with foes, but melee Clerics will let you take a big bite out of crime.
- Druid. Once again, fantastic. You can go Wild Shape or not; Constitution is a fine stat to have, even with Wild Shape replacing your physical stats. Otherwise, you get great out-of-combat utility, some extra defense with Hungry Jaws, and you can even get good AC with a Dexterity build.
- Fighter. Not great, not bad. You’re going to lack offensively, but Lizardfolk are nearly impossible to put down, making them a fantastic front-line fighter build. Especially if your build for Dexterity, you’ll keep up with non-magical Full Plate. Great tanks.
- Monk. Fine. Your lack of Dexterity as a racial trait stinks, but you can avoid the monk problem of becoming a corpse with your massive tank stats. You can almost ignore Wisdom entirely and just focus on Dexterity, thanks to Natural Armor. Hungry Jaws is a great tool to stay alive, and you can disregard weapons early on if you so choose.
- Ranger. Makes far too much sense flavorwise. You can get some high Dexterity, which might keep you alive on the front lines… Well, it definitely will. You’ll be hard to put down, and can use your good Wisdom to boost the DCs of battlefield spells like Ensnaring Strike. Your damage won’t be great, but you can just be a great battlefield presence.
- Rogue. Fine. You’re ungodly tanky, can beat Full Plate with high enough Dexterity, and can use Hungry Jaws to be an effective melee bruiser. Your extra skills will be good to make you a jack-of-all-trades, and your Artisanry might make you respected at the marketplace. You will miss a lot early on, though.
Bad Classes for Lizardfolk
- Artificer. Artificers live, breath, and eat Intelligence. The Lizardfolk can arguably be made a good Battle Smith, but why not make a Ranger instead? A Ranger would make better use of the Lizardfolk’s Wisdom, and would be more durable than the Artificer build. All other Artificers are too reliant on Intelligence and ranged combat.
- Bard. Charisma is not one of the Lizardfolk’s upsides. Doesn’t make sense flavorwise, doesn’t work well with your stats. You have a much better support caster option in Cleric.
- Paladin. The Paladin Lizardfolk is okay. Paladins don’t have many Bonus Actions, so you’ll have good Hungry Jaws usages. However, you’re suffering a bit with your lack of Strength, reliance on Heavy Armor, and not needing Wisdom.
- Sorcerer. The only benefit here is 13 base armor. You have no need for weapons, have much better utility than holding your breath, not desperately needing skills… And it’s not worth having no Charisma bonus. Plenty of other classes can be reasonably tanky and also have good Charisma.
- Warlock. The tankiness is enticing for a melee Warlock build. But just like the Sorcerer, there are good Charisma races that get Constitution as well. The Lizardfolk’s skills just don’t compensate for your less effective spells and lowered accuracy.
- Wizard. The problems of the Sorcerer return. You don’t want to be in melee, you don’t want to be pumping Dexterity to be a tank. Consider Cleric if you’re thinking about a Wizard Lizard… Although, if you’re not wanting to be optimal, Wizard Lizard is an undoubtedly good title.
The Lizardfolk is arguably the most durable race in the game, and gets a ton of great utility skills. If you’re wanting to stand on the front line and be a force of nature, you can’t go wrong with these guys. For your next Cleric or Druid, the Lizardfolk is a must-try.