For those wanting to play a strange and feral character in Dungeons and Dragons 5e, the lizardfolk make for a fun option. Gaining a +2 Constitution/+1 Wisdom ability score bonus, this reptilian race often falls into nature-loving melee classes.
When building a lizardfolk character in Dungeons and Dragons 5e, consider the following character elements:
- Lizardfolk lore and background
- Survival instincts and natural combat abilities
- Ranger- Hunter Archetype
- Barbarian- Path of the Beast
- Druid- Circle of Spores
- Cleric- Nature Domain
Lizardfolk lore and background
Lizardfolk come from dangerous swamplands, living mostly for survival. This environment has created hardcore defense mechanisms, such as scaly armor, holding breath and a strong, biting maw. Existing in such a harsh environment—where predators grow large and deadly—lizardfolk have a cold, rational outlook on life.
Clans of lizardfolk have similarities to dragonborn, though possibly more primal in nature. In fact, they speak Draconic and often worship dragon gods.
These characters very much have reptilian minds—though they are sentient enough to get along with other races. However, they have no problem eating a dead party member if it didn’t piss off the rest of the party. They have to consciously resist the urge to feed on good meat and leave it behind. Therefore, this gives me the opportunity to play someone monstrous and inhuman that doesn’t understand why he can’t eat Fred’s body.
Survival instincts and natural combat abilities
Lizardfolk sometimes seem more like alligator folk with abilities inherent to their swampy homes.
Natural Armor grants them an AC equal to 13 + Dexterity modifier, giving them skin like scaly armor. This choice takes the place of other armor sources, so I can’t stack armor on top of my Natural Armor. However, this fits a ranger build well, if I were to focus on Dexterity.
They also have an ability to Hold Breath for 15 minutes. This gives me opportunities to dive for adventuring purposes or in combat situations. Plus, I like to imagine my lizardman diving into a lake after a fleeing monster to finish the job.
Bite and Hungry Jaws work together to give my character a natural bonus attack. Bite deals 1d6 + Strength damage. Hungry Jaws grants me a bonus action to use Bite, which gives me temporary HP equal to my Constitution modifier. I’m literally eating enemies with this move, though I can only perform it once between short or long rests.
Cultural abilities like Hunter’s Lore and Cunning Artisan play on the lizardfolk natural lifestyle. Hunter’s Lore gives me proficiency in my choice of two skills: Animal Handling, Nature, Perception, Stealth or Survival. Cunning Artisan gives me the ability to craft simple weapons from natural items like bones and stones. Clubs, shields, javelins, blowgun needles and 1d4 darts are all available options.
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Ranger- Hunter Archetype
A lizardfolk ranger utilizes a high Wisdom score, followed by Strength and Dexterity. This prowler of the swamps could be a typical lizardfolk warrior or simply a humble lizard person living life in the wild. Typical to rangers, I’ll help my allies navigate through dungeons and forests. Plus, I can investigate with my nature spells and nature-based ranger abilities.
I’ll build my ranger for melee combat, using two hand axes to start, along with scale mail and a longbow. I’ll choose Two-Weapon Fighting Style and spells like hunter’s mark to dish out 1d6 extra damage per hit. Of course, I’ll need other ranger spells to aid my melee style, so cure wounds and fog cloud are helpful as well.
At level 3, the Hunter archetype fits the lizardfolk well. As I level, I’ll be able to choose combat maneuvers and abilities unique to the Hunter. First, I’ll choose the Colossus Slayer, giving me extra 1d8 damage to foes below max HP. This damage occurs once per turn, but the extra 1d8 damage really kicks.
Barbarian- Path of the Beast
A barbarian Path of the Beast build plays off my bestial nature, transforming my already-ferocious body into a more potent monster. Though lizardfolk are normally stoic and cold, a raging lizardman is way fun. This is especially so when the rage enhances my tail, claws or maw for powerful attacks.
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My initial build will utilize weapons like axes or javelins, just to have something on hand to hit enemies. I’ll use my high Constitution score with a solid Dexterity for my AC and enter a Rage to further bolster my defenses. While in Rage, I’ll gain my ability to transform, along with resistance to bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage. I’ll also gain advantage on Strength saving throws and gain bonus +2 (+3 at higher levels) to attack rolls.
When I take the Path of the Beast at level 3, I’ll gain the ability to harness my inner creature. When I enter a rage, I can transform my body in 3 ways:
- Bite: My maw transforms into something more alligator-like, dealing 1d8 piercing damage. I can regain health equal to my proficiency bonus if I’m under half my HP total.
- Claws: Talon like claws extend from my hands, dealing 1d6 per hand. I can attack with both claws as the same Attack action. Hint—I can use my bonus lizardfolk Bite with this transformation.
- Tail: My crocodilian lizard tail lashes like a powerful whip, dealing 1d8 piercing damage with the reach property. I can also use my reaction to roll 1d8 against a target who attacks me, adding the number to my AC. The foe must be somewhere I can see within 10 feet. I effectively use my tail to make them miss.
Druid- Circle of Spores
A lizardfolk druid Circle of Spores build uses my race ability bonuses well, leaning on Wisdom and Constitution for this melee druid. My swampy background fits the theme. Plus, this druid subclass was meant for close combat, so I’ll still have ample opportunity to bite folks.
I’ll utilize a Halo of Spores that circles 10 feet around me for extra 1d4 necrotic damage for those stuck in the cloud. Therefore, I’ll start this druid with a wooden shield and scimitar to duke it out with foes. I’ll be using my Wild Shape feature to activate my Halo of Spores with Symbiotic Entity. Once this Symbiotic Entity ability is triggered, I gain these effects:
- I can roll an extra Halo of Spores die for damage.
- Gain temporary HP equal to 4 X my druid level.
- Deal extra 1d6 necrotic damage against foes I hit with a melee attack.
For my druid spell selection, I’ll want poison damage, field manipulation and healing choices. Cure wounds can heal 1d8 + Wisdom modifier HP. Poison spray can give me a ranged attack as a cantrip for 1d12 poison damage on failed Constitution saves. Of course, I’ll want to remember flame blade, which summons a flaming sword that deals 3d6 fire damage.
Cleric- Nature Domain
Lizardfolk clerics are abnormal, for sure, but they do adhere to the dragon gods, so it’s not out of the question. This religious lizard benefits from their Constitution/Wisdom bonuses as a cleric, and is still able to fight and bite.
My Channel Divinity ability will give me several options, including Domain effects and Turn Undead. My Nature Domain Channel Divinity ability is to charm plants and animals within 30 feet. Each creature must make a Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by me for 1 minute. I can use this for investigative purposes, adventuring and combat scenarios.
Plus, I’ll gain several bonus spells that fit my natural side, including: speak with animals, plant growth and insect plague to name a few. These spells feel more like a druid build. However, this druid has added spells from the cleric’s spell list, granting this character an edge against the undead. Plus, I can boost and protect my allies—a good guy lizard.
Later levels give me the ability to Dampen Elements, granting my allies resistance against cold, fire, lightning or thunder damage. Divine Strike grants me extra 1d8 cold, fire or lightning damage to a melee attack. Finally, Master of Nature gives me the ability to command creatures charmed by my Charm Animals and Plants ability.