Learn how to play as a lizardfolk in D&D 5e
Lizardfolk are reptilian humanoids with the appearance of, you guessed it, a lizard! They have scaly skin, are native to warm, marshy areas and tend to be less emotional than the mammalian races.
For lizardfolk, it is very much a case of survival of the fittest, and through such a draconian view to natural selection, those that do grow to maturity, tend to be tall, physically imposing and have tough, scaly armour to protect themselves. Such an upbringing means that most lizardfolk lack the range of emotions that other races have, though they are capable of intense loyalty if shown enough reason to care.
Lizardfolk were introduced in D&D 5e through Volo’s Guide to Monsters and have been updated slightly in Monsters of the Multiverse. Below we’ve explained everything you need to know about lizardfolk and how to get the most out of your lizardfolk character.
What are lizardfolk?
Lizardfolk are scaly humanoids that while intelligent, share more in their biological nature with reptiles than most of the other mammalian humanoids of the D&D universe. They operate less on an emotional level (though they do still feel emotions) and more by instinct. Survival is the most crucial goal while love has little meaning to lizardfolk.
That’s not to say that lizardfolk cannot enjoy friendship and comradary. Lizardfolk understand the importance of strength in numbers and will build up communities and societies to help protect and gain from one another. While there are few things you can do for a lizardfolk to gain their respect and trust, saving one’s life is one of the sure ways of doing so. Because survival is such an important aspect of life for lizardfolk, someone who can save their life, especially from a fearsome foe, will likely gain their respect and loyalty for the rest of their life.
Even if you manage to gain a friend in a lizardfolk, their social norms and customs are quite different from those of humans. They will rarely grieve the death of another and will take a far more pragmatic view of dealing with a body than most other races… This means not wasting the meat and enjoying a hearty dinner. This is not to say that more human norms can’t be taught to a lizardfolk, but generations of biological instincts and social customs must be removed from them first.
How to play as a lizardfolk in D&D 5e
While many lizardfolk may fit a certain mindset or culture, as with any race in D&D 5e, lizardfolk have a variety of personalities and talents meaning you can play a lizardfolk anyway that you want. However, you may still want to consider how your culture and race has defined you, even if you choose to be an outlier in lizardfolk society. This might include:
- How do your instincts and culture affect your decisions? – As a lizardfolk, you likely think differently to most other races. How does this manifest in your day to day interactions? You will likely think more logically than most others an care less for emotional concepts like love and empathy, or perhaps these things will develop in you as you spend more time with other races.
- What is your relationship with your party? – While other races may find it easier to form an attachment to a party, as a lizardfolk, your reasoning may be different. Is this simply a relationship of mutual benefit or could you learn to have some kind of affection for your adventuring companions? What is your response if one of the party dies? Do you eat them? Do you even mourn? or do you move on easily?
- How well do you understand the social norms of others? – Getting into the mindset of a lizardfolk may be the hardest part about playing them. You may need to do away with your own mammalian ideologies and think about what your character would know. They may have spent time in other civilisations and know a fair bit, but they may have only lived with other lizardfolk, in which case, some social norms may be difficult to understand. Learning to understand those around you may be a big learning curve.
Lizardfolk Features in 5e
|Ability Scores||+2 to one ability score and +1 to another or +1 to 3 different ability scores|
|Speed||30ft (swimming and walking|
|Traits||Bite, Hold Breath, Hungry Jaws, Natural Armour, Nature’s Intuition|
|Book found in||Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, Volo’s Guide to Monsters|
If you want to play as a lizardfolk, your character will have the following traits and abilities:
Bite – You have a fanged maw that can be used to make unarmed strikes. When you do this, you do 1d6 + your strength modifier in slashing damage.
Hold Breath – You can hold your breath for up to 15 minutes at a time.
Hungry Jaws – As a bonus action, you can make a special attack with your bite. If this attack hits, it deals damage as normal, but in addition, you gain temporary hit points equal to your proficiency bonus. You can use this trait a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus and regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
Natural Armour – You have tough, scaly skin. When you aren’t wearing armour, your AC is 13+ your dexterity modifier. You can use your natural armour to determine your AC if your worn armour’s AC would be lower. A shield’s benefits apply as normal while you use your natural armour.
Nature’s Intuition – Thanks to your connection to nature, you gain proficiency with 2 of the following skills of your choice: Animal handling, medicine, nature, perception, stealth or survival.
Which classes are good for lizardfolk?
With the introduction of Monster of the Multiverse, you can now choose your ability score increases meaning the main consideration for how to play a lizardfolk is on their traits. You’ll have a few smaller abilities that are still fairly useful. Hold Breath allows you to hold your breath for 15 minutes which can be fairly useful in certain limited situations while Nature’s Intuition gives you a couple more skills to be proficient in and there’s enough variety here that this can be useful for any class.
The big abilities really are your Natural Armour which gives you a 13+ Dexterity modifier for your armour class which is better than that offered by any light armour. With this in mind, dexterity becomes quite important to maximise these benefits for a lizardfolk.
Your other big ability is your Hungry Jaws which allows you to make a bite attack (which hurts more than a normal unarmed attack) as a bonus action which is very handy for a bit of extra damage. It also grants you a few temporary hit points, of course, it does rely on you being in melee range of your opponent so martials will benefit most here, particularly as you deal more damage the more strength you have. Of course, this does present a slight conundrum on what to max out on, strength or dexterity.
Best classes for lizardfolk
Druids gain a lot from Natural Armour as their armour options are generally quite poor and as such, also need to rely a fair bit on their dexterity anyway. You won’t typically go heavy with strength as a druid but Hungry Jaws still provides some extra damage and temporary hit points. Even better, it can be used when it wild shape (at least according to this DM) so a great trait for wildshaping druids. Nature’s Intuition also offers some good wisdom based skills to add to your repertoire which is handy for wisdom heavy druids.
With mostly only light armour options, Natural Armour works really well for a bard. Extra skill proficiencies make you even more immune to failing skill checks and while Hungry jaws is less useful as you almost certainly don’t have high strength or much space to use your bonus action (because of all the bardic inspiration you’ll be throwing around), it still has its uses in longer stints between rests and for those precious temporary hit points.
For pretty much the same reasons as a bard, Natural Armour is basically a +1 to your AC, Nature’s Intuition is 2 more skill proficiencies to your fairly large repertoire of skills and Hungry Jaws is an extra attack. Hungry Jaws is particularly useful if you miss with your first attack when you could have gotten a sneak attack in there, you can still make a sneaky bite and deal your extra damage.
Worst classes for lizardfolk
Classes that have great armour and stay out of melee range (or don’t have much strength) tend not to work well as lizardfolk. Clerics will almost certainly find little of use here as they tend to rely on sturdier armour and may not be in the thick of battle but likely don’t have as much strength as the martial classes to make good use of Hungry Jaws as much. Artificers also fair poorly in this regard as they are almost never strength-based and almost always heavily-armoured.
Monks do surprisingly poorly in this regard for unarmoured and unarmed martials but they already have bonuses to AC for being unarmoured and are often using their bonus action so much that they don’t gain much from Hungry Jaws. Even if they do use Hungry Jaws, they tend not to be strength-based so do less damage anyway.