D&D Race Guide: How to Play a Lizardfolk
Lizardfolk have been in the D&D Monster Manual for a long time. But if you play one, you’re in for a fun and very different adventure.
Sometimes it’s fun to play a character that’s a little different. Of course, all of the playable races are special and unique, but playing as a Lizardfolk really gives you the opportunity to bring a unique voice, style, and approach to cooperative adventure games.
“Lizardfolk possess an alien and inscrutable mindset, their desires and thoughts driven by a different set of basic principles than those of warm-blooded creatures. Their dismal swamp homes might lie hundreds of miles from the nearest human settlement, but the gap between their way of thinking and that of the smooth-skins is far greater.”
We have been looking at a lot of playable races recently where the player chooses where their ability score improvement points go… and Lizardfolk are not one of those races. With a Lizardfolk character, you’ll get a +2 to your Constitution and a +1 to Wisdom.
As a lizard, they are slightly bulkier than humans, but not much bigger with a medium size class. But colorful frills will make them appear even larger, and maybe more threatening. This is fitting because Lizardfolk also have a natural bite attack that’s good for 1d6+Strength piercing damage. This is instead of the regular bludgeoning damage for an unarmed strike. And, as an expansion on this, they can throw themselves into a ‘feeding frenzy’ in battle using their Hungry Jaws ability. This allows you to take a bonus action bite that will deal normal damage but give you temporary hit points equal to your Constitution modifier.
In battle, Lizardfolk have a natural AC of 13+Dexterify modifier thanks to their tough, scaly skin. They can still wear armor as well as use shields. But armor may not be worth it if the natural AC would be higher.
Finally, as part of a short rest, a Lizardfolk can collect a bone and hide from a slain creature of any size to make a shield, club, javelin, darts, or blowgun needles.
As long as you make sure they have a highish Strength score at character creation, their high constitution and natural frenzy would make a Lizardfolk into a terrifying Barbarian. The image of your character running around the battlefield, absolutely berserk, biting foes, and regaining HP for the effort may be a little terrifying to everyone else in your party. But hey, at least you’re on their side.
The combination of high Constitution and high Wisdom could also make a very powerful and tanky Cleric. The mixture of powerful spellcasting and natural melee attacks in battle is a solid combination.
Much like the Aarakocra, there aren’t official variants for Lizardfolk. And they only appear in one book, so they haven’t been updated anywhere with slightly updated stats. As far as the numbers and rules go, there’s just one kind.
But also like the Aarakocra, there are many kinds of lizards out there to base your Lizardfolk on. This is entirely optional, of course, and likely wouldn’t add much to your campaign outside of personal role-playing notes or a bit of fun. But geckoes are very different from gila monsters and both could make for a very good time.
Tips & Tricks
As mentioned way at the top, Lizardfolk are different from other player races. Their homes are different, and so is the way they think. If you’re choosing to make a Lizardfolk character, be sure to lean into the whole character and play them up. Sun yourself on that warm rock, bite a few people, and ignore social contracts… Within reason; also don’t be the player who’s annoying at the table because it’s “what their character would do.”
Have you played a Lizardfolk character? Have you had one in any of your parties? What is your favorite type of real-world lizard? Let us know in the comments!