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Everything you need to know about Baldur's Gate 3's playable races

(Image credit: Larian)

Few things are more important in Baldur's Gate 3 than the race you pick. While your class determines how you fight, your race determines how you fit into the various civilizations of the Forgotten Realms. It shapes so much about who you are, where you're from, and how others perceive you. And, just like in Dungeons and Dragons, your Baldur's Gate 3 race also grants you some nifty perks that'll give you an edge in your adventures. Elves, for example, have the perk Fey Ancestry that gives them extra defense against being charmed and are impervious to spells that might put them to sleep.

That's just one ability of one specific race, though. There are nine different Baldur's Gate 3 races to choose from so far—each having their own subraces that sometimes offer even more options to customize your character. And Larian has confirmed more will be added over time. It's a lot to take in, and with Baldur's Gate 3 hitting Early Access, it's worth spending some time familiarizing yourself with the different perks of each so you have a good idea of what kind of character to play. Here's a quick overview of the Baldur's Gate 3 races.

Humans 

Unless you're reading this article from an intergalactic spaceship, you're probably pretty familiar with the human race. They're the most common race in the land of Faerûn and are known for being clever, tenacious, and adaptable. They're also a jack of all trades because instead of favoring certain ability scores or having special racial perks, humans simply get a small bonus to all of their ability scores.

Ability bonus: +1 to strength, dexterity, constitution, wisdom, intelligence, charisma 

Tiefling 

Tieflings are often the victims of violence and prejudice thanks to their red skin and imposing horns—the result of an ancient pact that infused their bloodline with the essence of a god called Asmodeus, the overlord of the Nine Hells. Though that pact means tieflings are often outcasts and pariahs in civilization, it does afford them some powerful abilities.

Ability bonus: +1 intelligence, +2 charisma

Subraces: Asmodeus Tiefling, Mephistopheles Tiefling, Zariel Tiefling

Racial Features:

  • Darkvision: You can see in dim light within 60 feet as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light, but you can't see color.
  • Hellish Resistance: You have resistance to fire damage.

A female dwarf. (Image credit: Larian Studios)

Dwarf 

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I don't think dwarves need much introduction because they're pretty much what you'd expect them to be in any fantasy setting. They're boisterous, greedy, deeply protective of their traditions, and always eager to chop a goblin or orc in two.

Ability bonus: +1 wisdom

Subraces: Gold Dwarf, Shield Dwarf 

Racial features:

  • Dwarven Weapon Training: Proficient with handaxes, battleaxes, light hammers, and warhammers.
  • Dwarven Resilience: Advantage on saving throws against poison and resistance to poison damage.
  • Dwarven Toughness: Your HP is increased by 1 and increases by an additional point at every level.

A male elf. (Image credit: Larian Studios)

Elf 

Like dwarves, elves in Baldur's Gate 3 pretty much live up to all the stereotypes. Living for thousands of years, elves have an acute interest and understanding of magic in all its forms and adore artistic pursuits, nature, and being mildly condescending. 

Ability bonus: +2 dexterity, +1 intelligence

Subrace: High Elf, Wood Elf

Racial features:

  • Cantrip: Choose an extra level 0 spell.
  • Keen Senses: Proficient with the Perception skill.
  • Fey Ancestry: Advantage on saving throws against being charmed, magic can't put you to sleep.
  • Elven Weapon Training: Proficient with longswords, shortswords, shortbows, and longbows.
  • Darkvision: You can see in dim light within 60 feet as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light, but you can't see color.

Baldur's Gate 3 races

A female half-elf. (Image credit: Larian Studios)

Half-Elf 

Caught between two very different worlds, half-elves are versatile and ambitious and often excel at whatever they decide to pursue. But their split heritage creates a lot of tension for them as they struggle to fit into either human or elven society, forcing half-elves into the periphery of both.

Ability bonus: +2 charisma, and up to two extra points in any ability.

Subraces: High Half-Elf, Wood Half-Elf, Drow Half-Elf

Racial Features:

  • Fey Ancestry: Advantage on saving throws against being charmed, magic can't put you to sleep.
  • Darkvision: You can see in dim light within 60 feet as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light, but you can't see color.

A male drow. (Image credit: Larian Studios)

Drow 

Like tieflings, drow are another race of Faerûn that are widely despised. They live deep underground in a brutal society ruled by treacherous matriarchs, but some drow forsake that life and venture to the surface—which rarely ends up being much of an escape since most surface dwelling races actively hate drow.

Ability bonus: +1 charisma

Subraces: Seldarine Drow, Lolth-Sworn Drow

Racial Features:

  • Darkvision: You can see in dim light within 60 feet as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light, but you can't see color.
  • Cantrips: Access to an extra level 0 spell (unconfirmed which spell, though).
  • Drow Weapon Training: Proficiency with rapiers, shortswords, and hand crossbows.

A male half-drow. (Image credit: Larian Studios)

Half-Drow 

Similar to drow, half-drow suffer greatly at the hands of other races because of their reputation for evil. Unwanted in either their underground ancestral homeland or above the surface, half-drow have to be especially clever to survive in a world that would rather they didn't exist.

Ability bonus: Up to two points in any ability of your choice.

Racial Features:

  • Darkvision: You can see in dim light within 60 feet as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light, but you can't see color.
  • Cantrip: Learn an extra level 0 spell (unconfirmed which spell, though).

A female githyanki. (Image credit: Larian Studios)

Githyanki 

One of Dungeons and Dragons coolest races, githyanki are a proud martial race who were long ago enslaved by mind flayers, the chief villain of Baldur's Gate 3. Those that escaped were often reduced to pillaging and raiding to survive, relying on their unparalleled skill with weapons. Githyanki originate from the Astral Plane, one of the many planes of existence in the Forgotten Realms setting. 

Ability bonus: +1 intelligence, +2 strength

Racial Features:

  • Decadent Mastery: Learn an extra language and become proficient with an extra set of tools.
  • Martial Prodigy: Proficient with light and medium armor, shortswords, longswords, and greatswords.

Baldur's Gate 3 races

A female halfling. (Image credit: Larian Studios)

Halfling 

You've seen Lord of the Rings, right? Well then you're already well acquainted with halflings and their inclination toward good drink and better company. Because they're so nimble, halflings are natural thieves, but they are also surprisingly tough to break in a fight.

Ability bonus: +1 charisma

Subrace: Lightfoot Halfling, Strongheart Halfling

Racial Features:

  • Lucky: If you roll a 1 on a d20 for an attack, ability check, or saving throw you can reroll once and must use the value of the second roll.
  • Brave: Advantage on saving throws against being frightened.
  • Mercurial Step: Base walking speed is 25 feet.
  • Naturally Stealthy: Proficient in the Stealth skill.
Steven enjoys nothing more than a long grind, which is precisely why his specialty is on investigative feature reporting on China's PC games scene, weird stories that upset his parents, and MMOs. He's Canadian but can't ice skate. Embarrassing.