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Pregen Characters Human Barbarian

These men are humanoids.

Humanoid is a creature type in Dungeons & Dragons.

In the most current editions of the game, humanoid type refers to bipedal creatures similar in stature and power to humans, including elves, halflings, goblins, and humans themselves. In some earlier editions, the term was more broadly or more narrowly applied; in some cases referring to bipedal creatures of any size, while in AD&D it often referred specifically to humanlike species not selectable as player characters.


Modern definition[]

In D&D 3rd and 5th edition, humanoid is a category of creature which is defined by its similarity to ordinary humans.

Humanoids are living creatures, bipedal in form, typically having two legs, two arms, and a head. They typically have a height of between two and eight feet tall. They possess some form of language and culture, often forming social groups. They are free-willed, of at least moderate intelligence, and typically wear clothes and use weapons and tools. They have few or no innate magical abilities; if they wish to learn magic, they must usually do so by taking a spellcasting character class.[1][2][3]

Humans themselves are humanoids. The traditional races in the Player's Handbook—i.e. dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, and halflings—are also humanoids. The category also includes humanlike creatures typically encountered as enemies, including orcs, goblins, gnolls, lizardfolk, and kobolds.[1] Tieflings, originally Outsider type in D&D 3.5, are humanoid type in 5e; warforged, a special case Construct type in 3.5, are likewise humanoid in 5e. Githzerai and githyanki, despite their extraplanar abode, are also humanoid.

Not all bipedal creatures are humanoid. Human-like creatures excluded from the humanoid category include those of humanlike size but monstrous appearance or supernatural ability (medusa), undead (bodak, vampire), mindless constructs, and creatures too large (ogre, troll).

Historic definitions[]

In older editions of D&D, the definition of "humanoid" varied considerably.

In AD&D, "humanoid" is commonly defined in contrast to "human" and "demihuman". Humanoids are those human-like species which primarily serve as antagonists, such as orcs and goblins. The definition excludes humans and the other playable races (i.e. dwarves, elves, half-elves, gnomes, and halflings).[4][5]

In some works, "humanoid" is a broad category referring to any creature with legs, arms, and a head, regardless of size, power, or supernatural origin. This is the case in in D&D 4th edition, which only has four creature types. It is also the case in very early D&D works which had yet to define the term, and used it in a general sense.

Publication history[]

Original D&D[]

The term "humanoid" appeared as in descriptive text since the original Dungeons & Dragons 3-Volume Set (1974), with Monsters & Treasure describing the Helm of Telepathy as affecting "human or humanoid creatures". Eldritch Wizardry (1976), p.40 described the Invulnerable Coat of Arn as fitting "any humanoid-type regardless of size". However, the concept of monster types did not formally exist in this edition.

Basic D&D[]

The Basic Set (Holmes) (1977) only used "humanoid" as a general descriptor of bipedal creatures.

The Basic Set (B/X) (1981) included the module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands (1981), which made mention to "humanoids (kobolds, orcs, etc.)", in what may reflect the AD&D definition. Conversely, the Expert Set (B/X) (1981) and Expert Rules (BECMI) (1983) included dwarves and even giants in its humanoid monster tables, suggesting the broader definition of the term.

The AC9 Creature Catalogue (1986) establishes a formal monster type system, something which had not been done in AD&D at this time. It defines a Humanoid type, whose qualifying criteria include having human-like shape, moderate intelligence, free will, and language or other means of communication. They also frequently wear clothes, use tools, and form social groups. Humans, orcs, black hags, ogres, and giants are included, while undead and constructs are specifically excluded.

The Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.155 includes monster type definitions. "Humanoid" includes bipedal creatures as large as ogres, but explicitly excludes humans and demihumans (i.e. playable races). However, the humanoid type has three additional related types: Human, Demihuman, and Giant Humanoid (i.e. giants).

AD&D 1st edition[]

The Dungeon Masters Guide (1e) (1979), p.228 defines the term "humanoid" to mean "anthropomorphic, generally hostile creatures: orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, etc." Conversely, the term demi-human is defined to refer to the generally non-hostile creatures which may be played as characters, such as dwarves and elves.

The distinction between humanoid and demihuman is not always made in the earliest AD&D books. Even elsewhere in the Dungeon Master's Guide, magic rings can be used by "all character classes and humans/humanoids", and the Strength ability score is described as "a characteristic of a human or humanoid of any type". However, the term always appears to exclude humans. The Monster Manual (1e) (1977) uses "humanoid" in places as a generic descriptor, including for such creatures as medusae and nixies.

Some AD&D works use the term in the modern fashion. Manual of the Planes (1e) (1987), p.120 refers to "Humanoids such as humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, orcs". Oriental Adventures (1e) (1985), p.10 notes "The category of humanoids includes, but is not necessarily limited to, humans, demi-humans, giants, and other creatures with human-like form and motivation." The same rule appears in Unearthed Arcana (1e) (1985), p.6.

AD&D 2nd edition[]

Second edition, like its predecessor, had no formal monster type system, and continued to use the term "humanoid" with varying degrees of consistency.

In many places it is used as a general descriptive term for bipedal creatures. DMGR1 Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide (1990), p.25 declared "humanoid" to refer to "a broad range of creatures, from kobolds to storm giants." DMGR5 Creative Campaigning (1993), p.15 refers to dwarves as "sturdy humanoids".

However, it is also frequently used in the traditional AD&D sense. The Complete Book of Necromancers (1995), p.34 refers to "Humanoid cultures, such as the orcs, bugbears, gnolls, hobgoblins, and goblins", and various spells in the book refer to "human, demihuman, or humanoid".

The definitive work on the subject of humanoids in this edition is PHBR10 The Complete Book of Humanoids (1993), which takes the traditional definition of the term as excluding humans and demihumans. It includes in its definition larger creatures, such as the ogre, and even non-bipedal creatures, such as the centaur and wemic.

The Player's Handbook (2e revised) (1995), p.14 introduces the term "nonhuman", defined as "any humanoid creature that is neither a human nor a demihuman."

D&D 3rd edition[]

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition introduced a formal monster type system. The "humanoid" type definition appears in the Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.5, which states that humanoids generally have two arms, two legs, and a head, or at least a humanlike torso, arms, and head; few or no supernatural or extraordinary abilities; and are usually Small or Medium-size. They are defined as proficient in all simple weapons.

The Monster Manual explicitly defines the term to encompass both the traditional playable races (dwarf, elf, etc) and other humanlike monsters (e.g. bugbear, orc, kobold, gnoll). Humans are also humanoid; while this is not clearly stated in the Monster Manual, statblocks for humans with the humanoid type would appear in such Enemies and Allies (2001).

The term "demihuman" is no longer used. The Player's Handbook (3.0) (2000) uses the term "nonhuman" to mean "humanoids other than human", e.g. elves or orcs. The term used to refer to the traditionally non-playable humanoids such as orcs and goblins is "savage humanoids".

Additionally, a monstrous humanoid type is defined for creatures with humanoid form but monstrous appearance or supernatural ability, such as the centaur, medusa, and minotaur.

According to the Monster Manual, all humanoids must have a subtype, such as elf or goblinoid. However, this rule was frequently ignored in sourcebooks, particularly in the case of humans. For example, the statblock for the archmage Mordenkainen in the Epic Level Handbook (2002) refers to him as "Medium-size humanoid" with no subtype, whereas the drow Eclavdra is correctly a "Medium-size humanoid (elf)".

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 likewise used the humanoid type. The expanded type definition handled 1 HD humanoids with character class levels. It also defined that humanoids must eat, breathe, and sleep, and some clarifications on how weapon and armor proficiency interacts with class. The subtype rule was carried into D&D 3.5, and again frequently ignored.

D&D 4th edition[]

Humanoid was one of only four remaining monster types in D&D 4th edition (alongside animate, beast, and magical beast). As such, the term expanded to encompass nearly all creatures of humanoid shape, with variations based on origin and subtype. Humanoids appearing in the Monster Manual (4e) (2008) included the aberrant humanoid mind flayer, the elemental humanoid azer, the immortal humanoid bone devil the natural humanoid orc, the fey humanoid cyclops, and the shadow humanoid bodak.

A notable change is that tieflings were now natural humanoid type, rather than outsider type as they had been in D&D 3.5. This change would be retained in D&D 5th edition.

D&D 5th edition[]

The type system in D&D 5th edition more closely resembled the D&D 3.5. Humanoids are defined in the Monster Manual (5e) (2014) as "the main peoples of the D&D world, both civilized and savage, including humans and a tremendous variety of other species"; having "language and culture", "few if any innate magical abilities", and "bipedal form". It includes humans, the traditional playable races like elves and dwarves, and orcs and goblins.

D&D 3.5's monstrous humanoid type no longer appears; the centaur and medusa, for example, are monstrosity type.

See also[]

For lists of humanoid type creatures at this wiki, see:


  1. 1.0 1.1 Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.7.
  2. Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), p.310.
  3. AC9 Creature Catalogue (1986), p.3.
  4. Player's Handbook (2e revised) (1995), p.13.
  5. PHBR10 The Complete Book of Humanoids (1993).