The lords of the jungle come in many shapes and sizes. The Tabaxi have long since escaped from the jungle, where they were historically a pretty significant force to be reckoned with. Now, these cat-like creatures wander everywhere, usually found in markets or museums to watch shiny objects and potentially trade others. Tabaxi are pretty wacky NPCs, but are they worth becoming PCs? Check out our Tabaxi 5E guide to work through your new character!
Tabaxi 5E Lore
Tabaxi hail from Volo’s Guide to Monsters, but their original home is somewhat shady. They live in the jungles of Maztica, where their clans embrace the wild in organized, but isolated, fashion. Tabaxi are natural explorers, wanting to discover whatever they can. Therefore, their clans do not hold their attention for very long. It is normal for a Tabaxi to break away from their homeland and head towards adventure, and their families tend to embrace exploration.
Tabaxi are cat people; typically reminiscent of leopards and jaguars, but anthropomorphic and someone skinny. This can be off-putting for most humans and other races, since very few creatures know what a Tabaxi is until they meet one. However, many humans know of Tabaxi from their exploits in various marketplaces. Tabaxi adore special jewelry, and trade shiny or magical objects constantly. They don’t often understand gold, unless they live in a town for long enough. All they care about is trying out new items, and owning legitimately cool stuff. The knowledge and history that sits behind every item is more important than the item itself, or the coin it might buy.
Tabaxi wish for a wide variety of different pieces of knowledge, rarely sticking to the same goal for very long. Their obsessions come in bursts, and it’s rare that a Tabaxi acknowledges the amount of time they may spend on a fleeting thing. A Tabaxi can spend years on a perfect heist, just to see what the stolen item does when hit with a hammer.
This quest for knowledge causes some Tabaxi to be easily tricked by good-sounding deals. Most learn to leave their wallets either at home or with a person they trust. This also happens when they become non-adventurers. Tabaxi are great wandering bards, and even better tinkerers. The search for knowledge and information guides them towards roles where people trust them, and they consider the trade of stories of blueprints very important.
Tabaxi have very specific names which are emblematic of their clan and experience. Our Tabaxi Name guide will give you some examples!
Without DM permission, Tabaxi only have one set of stats; no alternate subraces for these kitties!
- +2 Dexterity, +1 Charisma. Dexterity is a great generalist stat. This heavily boosts your offense with attack rolls, defense with AC and the saving throw, and great utility with Dexterity-based skills. In general, you could consider this the most useful stat in the entire game. Charisma is… Less useful. If you’re not a class that relies on Charisma for spellcasting, Charisma only boosts Charisma saves and some skills… And that’s it. It’s not bad, especially if you plan on taking Persuasion or Bluff and talking your way out of situations.
- Medium Size, 30 ft Speed. The standard stats for any typical race. Tabaxi are fairly light for a Medium race, which might be useful if you need to be thrown or caught. However, it’s not going to come up very often.
- Darkvision. You can see in the dark… Mostly. That’s really good! Tabaxi rogues (and most other Tabaxi classes) like Stealth, so you can hide in the darkness without a single care in the world. You can also see hidden items and secrets easier than most other characters. It’s a good deal!
- Feline Agility. You get a massive burst of speed which you have to pay back in the future. This doesn’t cost any action, doesn’t even take a reaction. This is huge! You don’t even have to pay it back, since you can always say you stood still outside of combat. You’ll typically get 30 feet movement speed per fight. Please, remember you have this!
- Cat’s Claws. The climbing speed can allow you to take new ambush paths, which is a really, really good thing to have! You won’t need to rely on basic climbing things, like rope, to get where you want to get. The unarmed attacks are nice, since you can always be considered armed. Good for when you get captured, though not horrifically useful; the damage of the unarmed attacks are, sadly, pretty low.
- Cat’s Talents. Bad news; you don’t get to choose your racial skills. That’s worse than races like Lizardfolk or Orc. Good news; Perception is the most rolled skill in the game, and Stealth is incredibly useful if you want it to be. As long as your class stays away from Heavy Armor, Stealth is consistently good. You just need a bit of planning… And maybe a bit of luck.
- Languages. Getting a free language is great! Ask your DM about what language may make the most sense. If they have no preference, Draconic, Elven, and Sylvan are consistently useful, especially in the mid-game (depending on what you fight)!
The statline for the Tabaxi puts them in a frankly awkward place. However, Tabaxi do excel at quite a few different classes.
Good Classes for Tabaxi
- Bard. Tabaxi bards are really good. Your ability scores line up, you get a handful of extra skills to work with, and Feline Agility is perfect for closing gaps or running away. You can even make good use of your language early on! Flavorwise, there’s not a much better choice for your class!
- Fighter. Charisma is far from useful on a Fighter, but hoo boy, is Dexterity nice! Become a Finesse user or a Ranged character, and you’ll feel really good as a fighter! You get a ton of skills, great mobility on all accounts, and your claws will keep you in a fight if your weapon gets stripped.
- Monk. Not perfect; once again, Charisma isn’t exactly what a Monk’s looking for. You’d prefer to be a Wood Elf or a Kenku. However, what a Tabaxi gives to a Monk is the climb speed, the great mobility, and the ability to do slashing damage with unarmed strikes (though your claws do not increase in damage!). Tabaxi is a fine choice for the utility.
- Paladin. Paladins tend to prefer Strength to Dexterity, but a Dex paladin is still fine! Feline Agility will get you right into the combat whenever you want, and you can even climb around. Paladins also appreciate the extra skills, so you’ve got yourself a great recipe for a good, all-round class!
- Ranger. Like the Monk, you could be better. Rangers love Dexterity so much that they don’t mind the low Wisdom. Your free skills are perfect for a Ranger and your movement speed is good for repositioning. It’s probably worth the drop in Wisdom to just have such insane utility.
- Rogue. Rogues are the other class that Tabaxi do really well. Your stats line up perfectly, your skills just improve the Rogue to another level, and your movement speed lets you get into stabbing range or out of trouble. We suggest being a rogue that likes Charisma skills, such as the Swashbuckler or standard Thief.
- Sorcerer. Not… Amazing. Your movement speed boost doesn’t matter too much on the Sorc, since repositioning isn’t much of a problem for them. Neither is your climbing speed. Perception is nice for any class to have, but the Sorc isn’t specifically good at it. You’d be generically useful, with your Dexterity and some basic utility.
- Warlock. This is probably a better option for a hard spellcaster. Dexterity is good for your AC, Charisma is good for magic, and Warlocks are better for melee, allowing for Stealth to be a good option. Your bonus movement speed is great for Hexblade, or running out of reach of a dangerous enemy.
Bad Classes for Tabaxi
- Artificer. While Tabaxi love tinkering, they aren’t particularly good at it. They don’t get Intelligence, lowering your damage potential. Artificers prefer medium armor, putting your Dexterity on lower priority even more. To top it off, your skills are not particularly great with Artificer. You’d be better off being a Bard.
- Barbarian. We love Dexterity Barbarians, but they aren’t the best. Even amongst Dexterity Barbarians, Tabaxi only offers Feline Agility as a good trait. Your extra skills are nice but not needed, and your climbing speed doesn’t matter all that much. Just not worth the loss in damage.
- Cleric. Clerics don’t necessarily need Wisdom to survive, but the Tabaxi offers next to nothing that the Cleric wants. Maybe Feline Agility to rush to someone’s aid? But then you’ll be healing them for very little, and your other skills aren’t useful. Just not worth the headache.
- Druid. Druids like Wisdom more than Clerics, so your Tabaxi is even less useful here. Feline Agility might work in Wild Shape, but… Who really cares? Your Wild Shape form will have plenty of movement speed to begin with. It’s not worth losing the effectiveness of your magic.
- Wizard. Wizards don’t get much. The extra AC from Dexterity is nice, but Feline Agility matters less when you can teleport, and Perception is not your job! There are much, much better races to look for if you’re desperate for either mobility or extra skills; check out Elf or even Half-Elf for instance!
Tabaxi are well-rounded, dextrous creatures that can handle a ton of different roles in a party. They’re very energetic and a lot of fun to roleplay as. For your next Rogue or Bard, this is a perfect race to give a whirl!