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D&D Race Guide: How to Play Aarakocra

3 Minute Read
Sep 5 2023

If you’re looking for a character who can fly ahead, scout, and strike from above, the Aarakocra may be the character for you.

Aarakocra are one of Fifth Edition’s most popular playable character species. These bird folk have all sorts of handy bird abilities that may be helpful during combat. For example, flight. But they’re also just a lot of fun and like many of our favorite playable fantasy species, originally came from the Monster Manual.

“Sequestered in high mountains atop tall trees, the aarakocra evoke fear and wonder. Many of these birdfolk hail from the boundless vistas of the Elemental Plane of Air. They are immigrants, refugees, scouts, and explorers, their outposts functioning as footholds in a world both strange and alien.”

Aarakocra Traits

Aarakocra are good characters to play if you’re looking to be speedy and dexterous. They have a natural +2 to Dexterity, probably because of their ability to take flight, as well as a +1 to Wisdom. While flying they have a base speed of 50 feet, assuming they’re not wearing any medium or heavy armor.

Unfortunately, their walking speed is a little limited at 25 feet. But with their talons acting as a natural 1d4 + strength modifier slashing damage weapon that they are, of course, proficient in, an Aarakocra will probably be spending much of their battles in the air and employing a ‘death from above’ strategy. This is instead of the usual bludgeoning damage that a not-bird-person would inflict with their unarmed strike.

Finally, a player that chooses Aarakocra will have a little more language to choose from with Common, Aarakocra, and Auran right out of the gate. Plus, your character may be entitled to a few more languages based on their class, feats, background, or the whims of your DM.


Best Classes


With their natural +2 to Dex, it would be a no-brainer to make your Aarakocra a Rogue or Ranger. And with the added bonus to Wisdom, Monk could be a great choice.

Rogue or Ranger could be perfect, though. Sneaking around, whether on a mark or during the hunt, are a pretty important part of both classes. And their flight abilities could make these pursuits even more interesting. If you’re looking to get around the battlefield quickly, why not do so extra-extra quickly with a set of wings?

Druid is another solid though perhaps overlooked career path for an Aarakocra. High dex will help them with their AC in druid-friendly armor – which usually can’t be heavy by nature – while the wisdom boost will help with spellcasting. Plus, you’re already a bird, so you won’t need to worry about that particular wild-shape.


Aarakocra Variants

Unlike some other playable races, Aarakocra don’t really have variants right now. But the game also doesn’t limit what kind of bird person you can be.


While these aren’t official variants and don’t have any effect on actual gameplay, it can be a fun way to bring personality, flavor, and backstory to your character. For example, a parrot is very different from a falcon. And playing an Aarakocra based on either of these birds will have drastically different personalities, styles, and preferences.


Tips & Tricks

The biggest thing to remember about being an Aarakocra is that you’re an Aarakocra. The thing with that beautiful bird brain. And yes, that absolutely means taking advantage of your flight. But watch out for falling damage, most players don’t need to worry about it often, but if you fly too close to the sun you may find yourself taking 1d6 bludgeoning damage per 10 feet you’ve fallen.

Have you played an Aarakocra before? What do you think of this playable species? In your mind, what makes an Aarakocra character special compared to the rest of the playable options? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Adventuring!


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