D&D: How to Play a Tabaxi
Fast and furry, Tabaxi are D&D’s very own cat people. And Tabaxi have wares, if you have coin. Here’s how to play a Tabaxi.
Tabaxi are among the top five player options in D&D, according to D&D Beyond. Because of course they are. They’re cat people. And there is a huge overlap between cat lovers and D&D nerds. Something about being gluttons for punishment, I’m sure. And in D&D, Tabaxi can run frightfully fast among other things. The story and personality of a Tabaxi is exciting too.
They were created by a divine being called the Cat Lord. They’re naturally curious and playful, and they have wares. If you have coin.
A comparison to the Elder Scrolls’ Khajiit isn’t even that unfair. Though Tabaxi have certainly been around longer. First introduced in 1981, these cat people are one of D&D’s most enduring ideas.
And they make for perfect player characters. There’s plenty to play around with in terms of looks. They have fur, ears, and tails. Some might have features or patterning, like a tiger or jaguar, while others might be more like a house cat.
The range of options is big. And their abilities aren’t too bad either, with talents that naturally suit them to a variety of adventuring roles.
Join us as we look at how to play a Tabaxi in D&D. You’ll want to look at:
Tabaxi got a big update in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse. Most notably, this means they get the +2/+1 or +1/+1/+1 that every modern D&D species option gets to pick from. If you’re playing with the Tabaxi from Volo’s Guide to Monsters, they instead got +2 Dexterity/+1 Charisma, making them especially suited to Bards, Rogues, and Sorcerers.
But you’ll probably want to play with the newer variant since they’re identical except for stat bonuses and the MPMM Tabaxi’s claws deal 1d6 + Strength modifier slashing damage instead of 1d4 + Strength modifier of the Volo’s variety.
The main features of a Tabaxi are dedicated to making them cat people. It’s a selling point that they were designed with “how would one represent cat people using 5E’s rules” from the outset. As such, they have darkvision and have a Cat’s Talent making them proficient with Perception and Stealth.
They also get the aforementioned Cat’s Claws which make your unarmed strikes deal actual damage. But the real centerpiece for Tabaxi is their Feline Agility, which is at the heart of so many weird, broken mobility-focused builds. Feline Agility is a weird ability because it activates when you move. This makes it amazing because it has no action cost, it’s just something you do for free whenever you move.
When you use Feline Agility, you can if you choose to double your speed until the end of the turn. Which is a massive boost. On a base level Tabaxi, this changes their speed from 30 ft. to 60 ft. And they have a climb speed equal to their walking speed, so that’s 60 ft. of climbing too. And that’s without any other shenanigans. There’s no limit to the number of times per day you can do this. You just can’t use it again until you spend one round moving 0 feet. Which is honestly pretty easy to do.
With all that in mind, what makes for the best Tabaxi? While they’re an okay fit for any class. Their special Feline Agility feature really suits them for classes that can make a lot out of mobility.
Obvious choices are things like Rogues, who can use their enhanced speed to stay in or out of combat, and who can use a bonus action to dash (which really makes your doubled speed go further). Without even trying, a Tabaxi Rogue using Feline Agility can move 120 feet in a round. Which is far enough to cross most encounter maps.
Other obvious classes include Barbarians and Monks; both get enhanced speed, which makes their doubled speed even doublier. But Tabaxi make fantastic Rangers and Bards (with a melee focus) and even Wizards.
Bladesinger, which as of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is open to anyone, not just elves is a fantastic option for Tabaxi who can take advantage of the Bladesong ability.
Anything else can of course benefit from the extra movement. Nothing like being able to surprise charge and smite an enemy from 60 feet away when you’re a Paladin. But these classes can take it even further. And that’s where a lot of the fun of playing a Tabaxi is.
Tips and Tricks
When playing a Tabaxi, movement speed is one of the best mechanical tricks you’ve got in your toolbox. In addition to running really fast, you can also climb. There are plenty of multiclass builds out there that take the speed increase to a ridiculous level.
This can also inform your playstyle. When you can get into or out of trouble real quick, the world becomes your plaything. Why worry about getting caught for petty crimes when you know you can outrun the guards?
Playing a Tabaxi can lean a little more chaotic. But we’ve all known cats that are basically little criminals who would kill you as soon as look at you.
Looking at the “personalities” of cats is a great way to take inspiration for your Tabaxi character. Maybe you’re a luxurious, longhaired Tabaxi who is very regal and lives for the finer things in life.
Or you’re a ragged alley-cat-looking Tabaxi, who nobody knows how they’re still alive, and when they speak it sounds like an old bird gasping out its last words, but they’re only like three years old and full of curiosity.
Maybe you play a Tabaxi who just loves to knock things off of any horizontal surface.
Find enlightenment when someone slaps a flower on your face. Just look at cats! It’s that easy. And it makes it so seamless to drop into character.