Learn all about the giant-kin known as Firbolgs
Firbolgs are distant cousins of giants, whose influence is felt in a Firbolg’s large stature (about 7-8ft tall, though previous editions has them at 10ft tall). They also originate from the Feywild and are fey creatures. Most Firbolgs live in tribes that make their homes in the forests of the land. With an intense attunement with nature, Firbolgs are protectors of the land, valuing it above their own lives. Firbolgs are rarely seen due to their reclusive nature, but when they are, it’s normally because they’ve left the confines of their tribe and struck out on their own.
Firbolgs as a playable race in D&D 5e were first introduced in Volo’s Guide to Monsters and have since been updated in Monsters of the Multiverse. Our guide below tells you everything you need to know to play as these gentle giants.
What is a Firbolg?
A Firbolg is a fey creature related to giants. Though technically medium in size, they stand on the larger end of the spectrum at 7-8ft tall and certainly appear imposing. Meeting Firbolgs is rare due to their reclusive nature. Often, those that become adventurers, do so out of necessity rather than out of choice. Either they’ve lost their tribe or on an extremely important mission.
Firbolgs look like large Humans. They sport the pointed ears of many fey creatures and are certainly a bit larger than Humans, but in most other respects, look fairly similar. The males sport beards and hairy bodies, their noses tend to be on the large size and their arms tend to hang a little like tree trunks.
While their giant blood might indicate a more brash and aggressive personality, Firbolgs are, by contrast, incredibly gentle and reclusive. They are amicable creatures with an intense devotion towards nature and preserving it. It is very difficult to provoke a Firbolg, but if you do, it’s probably because you’ve brought harm to nature, and even then, they’ve likely tried to warn you away from your actions before they’ve attacked you.
Despite their gentle attitude, Firbolgs are very capable warriors when the need arises. Their large frame gives them greater than average strength and their affinity with nature and fey origins give them a natural ability with magic which can be combined to devastating effect.
While Firbolgs do originate in the Feywild, they are quite different from many fey creatures like Fairies and Eladrin who personify a much more mischievous and whimsical nature. Firbolgs tend to be much more sensible and don’t tend to engage in practical jokes, and certainly not to other creatures whom they tend to avoid at all costs.
Firbolgs are unusual in that they don’t tend to name things. They don’t name their children and they don’t name the place they live. Instead, they tend to use the actual noun of the thing they refer to so their home is just called “home” and their child is just called “child” (or “boy” if you imagine them embodying some kind of gentle Kratos).
This makes it hard to ask Firbolgs to ask for directions or know who you’re referring to. Thankfully, Firbolgs tend to be an accommodating people so are happy to adopt the nicknames and naming conventions of other races. Where they do choose to take on a name because they are among other people, they prefer Elven names which are both related to the fey and who show a reverence towards nature.
How to play as a Firbolg
Gentle giants is the best way to approach Firbolgs. They love and respect nature, are respectful of other peoples and cultures and prefer to live peacefully. Try to avoid conflict at all costs but there is no need to play a pacifist. Firbolgs tend to fit with druids and rangers from a role play point of view, but are skilled in a wide range of crafts so can take on any class you like.
One thing to consider when creating a Firbolg character is that they rarely become adventurers by choice so determining a motive for your Firbolg to be an adventurer is important. Is it a threat to the clan, was your clan destroyed, are you an escaped slave, or something entirely different.
Firbolg Features in 5e
|Ability Scores||+2 to one ability score and +1 to another or +1 to 3 different ability scores|
|Lifespan||About 500 years|
|Languages||Common and 1 other|
|Traits||Firbolg Magic, Hidden Step, Powerful Build, Speech of Beast and Leaf|
|Book found in||Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, Volo’s Guide to Monsters|
If you want to play as a Firbolg, your character will have the following traits and abilities:
Firbolg Magic – You can cast the detect magic and disguise self spells. When you use this version of disguise self, you can also appear up to 3 feet shorter or taller. When you cast one of these spells, you can’t cast them again until you complete a long rest or use a spell slot of the appropriate level. You use intelligence, wisdom or charisma as your spellcasting ability for these spells (you choose which one when you select this race).
Hidden Step – As a bonus action, you can magically turn invisible until the start of your next turn or until you attack, make a damage roll or force someone to make a saving throw. You can use this trait a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus and regain all expended slots when you finish a long rest.
Powerful Build – You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag or lift.
Speech of Beast and Leaf – You have the ability to communicate in a limited manner with beasts, plants and vegetation. They can understand the meaning of your words, though you have no special ability to understand them. You also have advantage on all charisma checks you make to influence them.
Which classes work well for Firbolgs?
The main thing to bear in mind with Firbolgs is their speech of beast and leaf ability has as much mileage as your charisma and proficiencies as well as how your DM wants to play out scenarios in which you speak to beasts and plants. With this in mind, optimal Firbolg builds will focus on charisma (meaning charisma based classes work particularly well with Firbolgs). You may also want to discuss how your DM would like to approach situations where this ability is used as this may affect how you choose to role play.
On top of this, a Firbolg’s innate spellcasting will benefit from a class that has high intelligence, wisdom or charisma. This means charisma based classes get a double-whammy of benefits.
Hidden step is also a fantastic way for turning briefly invisible. This is great if you need to slip out of combat quickly
Best classes for firbolgs
The fact that bards are casters mean that you can use their spellcasting ability (which you should have maximised) to good use and will complement these spells nicely. On top of this, as a charisma-based class with expertise that can make skill like persuasion extra reliable, bards will get the most of any class out of speech of beast and leaf. Plus, Hidden Step is great for getting out of danger.
Another charisma-based caster (albeit a half caster), paladins will get the most out of a Firbolg’s innate spellcasting and their Speech of Beast and Leaf. Paladins are often using their bonus action for smiting but there’s a limit to how many smites they can do and even tanks get hurt and need to get out of trouble so it’s still a useful ability.
Firbolg abilities work well with rogues as they don’t get spells (unless you’re an arcane trickster) and spells like detect magic and disguise self complement a rogue extremely well. Hidden step is also very useful for the kind of class that may need to slip away quickly in dangerous situations and need to turn momentarily invisible while only using a bonus action to do so.
Warlocks are charisma-based casters so will do well with the speech of beast and leaf trait and it complements the disguise self ability too. On top of this, as a more delicate class, warlocks can benefit from a trait like hidden step. Warlocks also have notoriously few spell slots so any extra spells they can use in their repertoire are very welcome!
Similar to the warlock, sorcerors benefit from a high charisma that can be used in conjunction with disguise self and speech of beast and leaf. Hidden step also gives them a great escape route that’s a bonus action and doesn’t limit what spells you can cast with your action.
Average classes for Firbolgs
Clerics are a decent option for Firbolgs. Innate spellcasting is made more useful by their high wisdom and most clerics don’t tend to get these spells in their list giving them some sneaky options. While clerics tend not to focus on charisma, Hidden Step is useful for a class that sometimes likes to get into melee combat, but lacks the toughness of true martials.
Certainly the most fitting class role-play wise, druids are full spellcasters so you’ll get plenty out of your innate spellcasting. They tend not to excel in charisma but hidden step is a great addition that can be used in wildshape too.
Monks don’t have spells but do tend to have good wisdom so the spellcasting options work great for a monk and complement their natural stealthiness well. Charisma tends not to be their forte but Hidden Step is a great way to turn invisible even if there’s a lot already competing for a monk’s bonus action.
The stealth options for Firbolgs complement a ranger’s stealth well. Add to this the fact that rangers tend to have decent wisdom for their spellcasting so they’ll get the most out of their spells. The only reason a ranger isn’t a better option for Firbolgs is their lack of charisma to make the most out of Speech of Beast and Leaf.
Worst classes for firbolgs
Most artificers tend to dump charisma so Speech of Beast and Leaf is less useful. Artificers can replicate Firbolg abilities anyway though innate spellcasting at least gives them some free spells (artifcers aren’t blessed with a lot of spell options) plus high intelligence will make them more effective at casting these spells.
As a calss that dumps charisma and has no spellcasting prowess, Speech of Beast and Leaf and innate spellcasting are poor options for barbarians. Hidden Step has a little more use, but not as much as other classes.
Fighters have the same issues has barbarians when it comes to a Firbolg’s abilities. Low charisma and a lack of spellcasting prowess just make them poorer options for Firbolgs.
While wizards at least benefit from spellcasting prowess, the innate spellcasting options can easily be replicated in a wizards typical spell repertoire anyway. The usual lack of charisma also tends to harm a wizards ability to effectively use Speech of Beast and Leaf so less to gain there too.