D&D Race Guide: How to Play a Firbolg
Gentle giants with a fey leaning, Firbolgs have the potential to be one of the most interesting and complex characters in your party.
Firbolgs are one of those playable races that you either love or don’t know anything at all about. They started out in First Edition’s Monster Manual II and have recently made a few appearances in popular actual play podcasts. But let’s talk about what playing a Firbolg would look like and why they may be your next choice for a character.
“Firbolgs are fey-oriented half-giants. Their tribes cloister in remote forest strongholds, preferring to spend their days in quiet harmony with the woods. When provoked, firbolgs demonstrate formidable skills with weapons and druidic magic.”
If you didn’t know better, it could be easy to get the wrong idea about Firbolg based on the ‘the big guy is stupid’ trope that we thankfully seem to be moving away from as a community. And with giant ancestry, Firbolg can be pretty big compared to humans. Coming in between seven and eight feet tall and 240 to 300 pounds they’ll likely be among the taller members of your party.
So it’s no surprise that Firbolgs get a +1 Strength increase right out of the gate and have a larger carrying capacity than other medium races. But you may not know that they also come with a +2 Wisdom score, the ability to cast Detect Magic and Disguise Self, the ability to communicate with some plants and beasts, and three languages between Common, Elvish, and Giant. And oh yeah, they can turn invisible temporarily.
Firbolgs are fey-leaning half-giants with a penchant for spending time in the woods, so it’s easy to go with Druid for them. And with their background, this would probably be a pretty fun way to play them. But wildshape wouldn’t allow you to keep all of that extra strength, so you’d want to be careful which Druid circles you chose from.
Instead, Firbolgs are very well suited to be Clerics and Barbarians. The high strength and wisdom work perfectly with Clerics, while high strength is always a boon for a Barbarian.
Finally, between their love of the woods and ability to temporarily turn invisible, Ranger may be a very solid pick for your Firbolg’s class. They’d want to go with a Duel-Wielding and strength-based Ranger over a long-ranged one, though.
Tips and Tricks
Firbolgs are complex characters who are perfect for whatever complex backstory you’re cooking up. They’re the most intelligent of the giant folk and are known for being thoughtful, calm, and kind. They’re probably not going to be one of the roving murder adventurers that D&D is so known for. But with high strength, they are more suited for front-line work than long-range. This is a character that you’d have to put a little more work and thought into, but I think it also has the potential to be one of the most interesting and rewarding characters to play.
Have you played a Firbolg character or had one in your party? What class would you pick for your Firbolg character? Which edition’s take on them is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!