One of the most interesting new player options in Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos is the playable race known as the Owlin. This race of owlfolk is a fun, new option and one of the few races that comes with a natural flying speed. While similar to the Aaracokra mechanically, the owl-themed flavor is a lot of fun. See our Owlin 5E guide to learn all about them.
What Are Owlin in D&D 5E?
The owlin are a race of humanoids that are distant relatives of the giant owls of Faerun. Like owls, owlin come in many forms. Some are petite and fluffy, while others are large and majestic. They can have all of the colors and characteristics of real owls, and they run the gambit from petite and fully to wide-winged and majestic. In addition to arms and legs, owlin also have functional wings. They are one of the few playable races in 5E that have the ability to fly.
This race of owlfolk call the demiplane of Arcavios home. Arcavios is the plane that hosts Strixhaven, the school of magic that has some obvious similarities with Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. While Owlin call Arcavios home, they can be found throughout the multiverse at this point.
The owlin race are new to D&D, but they are not new in general. Owlin were first introduced in Magic: The Gathering. In fact, the entire Strixhaven setting is a cross-over between the popular card game and Dungeons & Dragons. While bird creatures have long been referred to as “Aven” in Magic: The Gathering, WOTC introduced the Owlin race along with the rest of the Strixhaven set in 2021.
Building an Owlfolk 5E Character
All in all, the owlin is a strong race. The traits offered here fit thematically, and they are quite powerful. The downside to this character option is that WOTC has somehow made the rare playable race with flying speed boring. While bland in some ways, there are a lot of interesting builds out there that maximize the use of your flying ability.
Ability Score Increase
As is the case with most recent racial options, Wizards of the Coast has opted not to provide the Owlin with a set ability score bonus. Instead, you have flexibility to select your bonuses. this is a nice option, as you have the opportunity to play an optimal build of any class instead of being pigeonholed. When you select an Owlin character, you get a +2 bonus to one ability and a +1 bonus to another. Alternatively, you can take +1 to three different abilities. As with new races and lineages like the Hexblood, this approach to ability score bonuses seems to be WOTC’s preferred path forward.
The owlin does not have its own language, unlike many of the traditional racial options. When you create an owlin character, it has the ability to read, write, and speak common plus one additional language. You should select this language with the assistance of your DM to ensure it fits with the campaign world. There isn’t a lot of reasons to know Marquesian if you aren’t playing in the world of Critical Role, for example.
The traits that come with the Owlin race are quite good, if somewhat unspectacular. The basics are pretty standard, in that you are a humanoid with 30 feet of movement and a size of either medium or small. What catches the eye of most would-be players is the Flight ability. That’s right, WOTC has dropped another racial option that comes with a flying speed. Given that Fly is a third-level spell that has some limitations, this is a powerful option for a brand-new character.
It is important to note there are some limitations and other factors that apply to flight. First, your fly speed matches your walking speed. That means abilities, spells, and magical items that increase your walking speed also increase your fly speed. Second, you cannot fly while wearing medium or heavy armor. This results in a tradeoff between being able to fly and playing an armor-reliant character.
The rest of the traits are nice, but bland. Darkvision is the most common trait available to player races, and proficiency in stealth is fine but entirely uninteresting. All together, it is a mechanically strong but relatively vanilla option.
As Owlin are a new addition to 5th Edition, there are no subraces to speak of. Given the shift from fixed ability score bonuses, it is possible that there won’t be any subraces in the future.
What Class is Best for Owlin?
Due to the ability to reshape your ability score bonuses as you see fit, the owlin can make anything work. The biggest consideration is the weight limit that applies to your flying speed. Because you lose the ability to fly when wearing medium or heavy armor, the owlin is not a great option for armor wearing martial classes. If you’re going to give up the flying ability to put on heavy armor, you might as well pick something else entirely.
There are good options though. The ideal build for an owlin is a Dex-based character that fights at range. If you are playing an owlin, you should make the most of your ability to fly. That means staying out of the fray and avoiding medium or heavy armor. The Owlin makes for a nice rogue. You gain proficiency with stealth with your racial trait, letting you spread your four class-based proficiencies around elsewhere. Mix that with excellent darkvision and the ability to fly, and rogue is one of the best fits.
Flight also makes an interesting option for monks. One of the major drawbacks of the monk is the inability to counter flying creatures. That problem is no more if you choose the owlin. Finally, it should come as no surprise that the owlin is a good fit for caster classes like the sorcerer or wizard, too.
A wizard is certainly a good thematic fit for an owlin. After all, they call home a demiplane with a school full of wizards. I can only assume that most people that opt to play this class go the wizard route. I especially like the evocation wizard for this.
The main benefit of this archetype is Sculpt Spells at level 2. With sculpt spells, you can fly over the battlefield, largely avoiding harm. Sculpt spells lets you drop powerful AOE spells from above while shielding your grounded allies that find themselves in the drop zone. If flying around and launching fireballs at your enemies wasn’t cool enough, an evocation wizard can do that while protecting allies from the blast.
You can make virtually any rogue build stronger by adding in the racial traits of the Owlin. After all, the rogue is known for stealth and hit-and-run tactics. With inherent bonuses to stealth, darkvision, and the ability to fly, the owlin compliments rogue characters in many ways. Strong rogue options, like the Arcane Trickster, are great here. But if I had to choose one archetype for an owlin that make the most ranged attacks from midair, it would be the scout.
The scout rogue is an excellent fit for an owlin in two major ways. First, Skirmisher at level 3 helps you stay out of harm’s way even when you end your turn in reach of an enemy. When an enemy ends their turn within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to move up to half your speed without provoking opportunity attacks. this means you could fly straight up and out of harms way.
The second reason for picking the scout occurs at Level 9. Your walking speed increases by 10 feet, which is helpful. What is more important is that because of the wording of your flight trait, your flying speed increases by that amount as well.
I love the gloom stalker for an owlin character, as there are multiple points of synergy between the race and the subclass. What’s more, the best interactions occur as soon as you take this subclass option. Dread Ambusher gives you a bonus to your initiative roll. You want high initiative so that you can get into the air before combat gets chaotic. What’s more, this ability increases your walking speed by 10 feet in the first turn of combat. This also increases your flight speed. You also get an additional attack and extra damage in that first turn of combat, allowing you to rain death from above as crossbow build ranger.
Owlin 5E FAQ
What Book is Owlin in?
Owlin can be found in Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos.
Can Owlin Fly?
Yes, the Owlin race can fly in D&D. Your flight speed is identical to your walking speed, which means it is affected by any spells or other effects that increase or decrease your walking speed.
What is the Owlin Lifespan?
Owlin generally have a lifespan of a century.
Should the Owlin be Banned?
Playable races with natural flight speed are often the bane of some DM’s existence. Like the aarakocra before it, there are going to be tables where the Owlin is not welcome. Flight is certainly powerful, and it can be difficult to adjust for, especially in some published adventures. This ultimately a question that is entirely up to the DM.
In my opinion, banning flying races like the Owlin is not the answer. There are plenty of ways for a DM to easily work around the ability to fly so that it is not game-breaking. Adding enemies with ranged attacks can suddenly make flying in combat less appealing. Adventures in low-ceiling dungeons also limit the usefulness of flying. And what if the character eventually saves the party through aerial heroics? Well, that kind of sounds like the point of playing D&D to me.
Conclusion – Owlin 5E Guide
That concludes our Owlin 5E guide. We’re a fan of this new race. While I know race-based flying speeds are banned at some tables, the owlin at least balances it with limitations on medium or heavy armor. All in all, this is a fun class that is a nice thematic fit for Strixhaven.