Guide to Building Tabaxi Characters: DnD 5e

Consider the following builds when creating a Tabaxi character in DnD 5e

Tabaxi can take a variety of builds, giving the character some cool creative choices.  Looking for a noble paladin or knight?  Try a lion.  Want a dastardly rogue?  Try a black panther, or better yet, a house cat (those little monsters are lethal).  Wizards can act a fool with quirky cat personality traits, or druids could tap into their primitive nature as a predator.  Cheetah spots, tiger stripes, lion manes, or any combination thereof are all fair game for the Tabaxi.

The racial traits for our feline friends are undeniably cool.  Dexterity receives a +2 bonus and Charisma +1.  They can see in the dark, double their movement speed, attack with d4 claws, and receive a 20-foot climbing speed.  Not too bad.

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Black Panther Gloom Stalker.

Ok, so maybe you don’t have to look like a jaguar, but it’s thematically sound.  Jaguars prowl the deepest, darkest jungles, making them a perfect fit for the gloom stalker archetype—at least as far as cat people go.

I considered using a couple of different cat builds, thematically speaking (it doesn’t make a difference other than story elements).  Tigers have a similar mystique to jaguars, solitary hunters in deep Asian jungles, but they seem to fit barbarians or fighters.  I mean come on, it’s a tiger.  The other idea was a black panther, but that feels a little on the nose.  Besides, gloom stalkers can hide magically—they don’t necessarily need all that black to be stealthy.

I’ll stack this ranger with an archery fighting style, making him or her lethal and accurate at a distance.  Because I can hide so well and ambush my prey, I’ll fit in with tank players and pick off the surrounding minions.  This way, my teammates can converge on the biggest threat.  Remember, the ranger is a tactician’s class.

Next, I would include ranger spells that help seal my enemies’ fate.  Naturally, Hunter’s Mark and Hail of Thornes pair nicely with an ambush archer.  Other spells I would consider are Speak with Animals or Animal Friendship.  These practical spells can be used in so many creative ways—gathering information, spying inside castle walls, helping in times of need.  I could find animal helpers from rats to hawks to bears.  This can be especially helpful in early levels, as some of the lower level threats, such as wolves, can be convinced to move on.

The gloom stalker archetype also comes with its own unique spells, such as Disguise Self and Rope Trick, which act more as rogue spells.  Disguise Self is pretty self-explanatory, but Rope Trick is an odd ball.  Using a 60-foot rope, the gloom stalker can create a vortex into a pocket dimension, something like a balloon string into an extradimensional space.  Things can be stored here, including surprise attackers, or an injured teammate could find refuge from magical attacks.

Golden Jaguar Paladin: Oath of Devotion

In a world full of edge-lords, playing the ultimate good guy is punk rock.  This is the theme of my golden jaguar paladin, destroyer of evil and upholder of justice.  This class might seem tricky for the dex-heavy Tabaxi, but that extra charisma modifier the race receives should help my paladin spells and abilities.

I’ll deck this guy out in leather armor and lean in on the Dexterity build. Add in a shield for extra defense (as I plan on tanking), throw in a lance for Dexterity combat and choose the protection fighting style.  My idea is to rally my team around me, benefiting those closest to me (physically speaking) and giving my enemies disadvantage on attacks against them.

With the Oath of Devotion, I receive protective spells against the unholy, such as Protection from Evil and Good and Sanctuary, making my allies even safer.  Not to mention, the healing abilities of Lay on Hands, which draws from a pool of HP to heal myself and others.

But it’s not all about defense and safety, not by a long shot.  With Sacred Weapon, I’ll imbue my sword with divine energy (+Cha mod) and add the bonus to my attack roll.  Add this benefit to paladin level 2’s Divine Smite (starting at 2d8 extra damage), and I’ll be delivering justice left and right.

For bonus cool points, I can use my Feline Agility to deliver justice all across the field of battle.

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House Cat Burglar

Get it? Cat burglar.  This character is going to be a little more unusual than the other tough guys I created.  Essentially, I’ll be picking the Thief archetype for this black and white spotted house cat humanoid.  He’s going to be a weirdo the way cats are weirdos.  It’s not that he’s untrustworthy, just maybe not with treasure.

Naturally, this guy is going to be on the stealthy side, wearing dark leather armor and playing with knives—he’s a “knives” kind of kitty cat—as well as a short sword.  I’ll be sure to be proficient in needed skills, such as Sleight of Hand.  Then, I’ll go ahead and choose my proficiency with thieves’ tools as my Expertise bonus, along with stealth.  This way, I’ll hit all the thief character tropes just right.

When I get to level three, I’ll gain the Fast Hands ability, giving me a bonus action to make a Dexterity check for thief trickery (Sleight of Hand checks, disarm trap).  On top of these quick hands, I’ll increase my climbing speed with Second Story Work.  It’s as if the Tabaxi were made for this class.

Cocky Cat Duelist (Bard: College of Swords)

Using the inherent Tabaxi  Dexterity and Charisma, a bard college of swords fits right in.  Plus, you get to create a character with the obnoxious arrogance of a cat–in fencing form.

First, the basic bard class offers me Bardic Inspiration–a d6 I can use to benefit a dice roll.  I can spend them on myself or an ally, which makes this ability flexible and useful in many circumstances.  Plus, I’ll need these for my fancy College of Sword moves.

Another important aspect of the basic Bard character are the abilities like Expertise and Jack of All Trades, which make me highly skilled in a number of fields.  I can charm a crowd with my Charisma and cast spells with the same stat, all while tackling abilities connected with Intelligence and Wisdom.

At level 3, this Bard gains abilities related to the College of Swords.  I’ll gain a fighting style (Duelist for +2 damage using one-handed weapon) as well as a set of Blade Flourishes.

  • Defensive Flourish:  Add Bardic Inspiration die to damage and AC until start of next turn.
  • Slashing Flourish:  Add Bardic Inspiration to damage dealt + another creature 5 feet away.
  • Mobile Flourish:  Add Bardic Inspiration to damage dealt + push target 5 feet away (add Bardic Inspiration) + move within striking distance as bonus.

From here, the fencing cat will increase in combat and charisma, making it an especially fun character to act out.

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