Volo's Complete Subrace Handbook
Updated: Feb 13
The world of Dungeons and Dragons is packed with a variety of sentient races. The diversity of these races is what makes the world such a unique place. Cultures, personalities, behavior, etc. Each one is unique for each race. Beyond that, each race even breaks off into subraces based on location, history, wants, and desires. Volo's Complete Subrace Handbook expands on those that exist within the world of Faerun and adds some new ones.
Crit Academy is joined by special guest host DnD TikToker Aelx Bomb. Together we discuss the best-selling Dmsguild D&D supplement, Volo's Complete Subrace Handbook.
Revisiting favorites from previous editions, this handbook is designed to give DMs and players a wealth of new options when it comes to character creation and advancement. Version 1.0 takes the handbook to the next level, with an incredible 50 subraces, 30 racial variants, and 32 racial feats for your 5e D&D adventures. Join us as we share some examples and give our thoughts on the variety of options and the balance of their new features.
Mountain Orc - Aelx
A Mountain Orc is quite obviously a monstrous creature to most of the civilized folk of the realms. Standing at seven or more feet in height, they have stocky, powerful necks, and their bestial heads seem to sit directly on their massive shoulders. Their eyes are always a deep shade of red or green, and their faces are dominated by porcine snouts and large tusks. Mountain orcs often weave braids and tiny bones into their thick matted hair, which is usually black. They are far from the cleanest race on Faerûn and delight in decorating their bodies
with scars and warpaint.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.
Musclebound. You gain proficiency in the Athletics skill. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any Strength (Athletics) ability check you make to initiative, maintain, or break free of a grapple.
Charging Pin. When you use your bonus action to move as part of the Aggressive trait, as a part of that bonus action you may try to grapple a creature that is large or smaller in your path. Make an Athletics contest with the creature. If you succeed, you crash into the creature. Both you and the creature are knocked prone. The creature is also grappled and takes bludgeoning damage equal to half your level + your Strength modifier. On a failed contest you miss and land prone 10 feet past the creature.
Imago (Chaos Gnome) - Justin
Infused with the spirit of chaos, these gnomes are energetic, flamboyant, and charismatic, having bright, or white hair and beards. They also wear bright colors and are especially fond of bright red and pink hats. They possess an uncanny luck and have great talent as sorcerers. Colorful cousins of gnomes, they are adventurous; even the most staid among them is prone to wander. Although commonly referred to as chaos gnomes, they call themselves “Imago” (singular and plural).
Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
Luck of Chaos. Once per day when you make a die roll, you can choose to reroll one die. You can choose to do so after you roll the die, but before the DM tells you whether you succeed or fail. You must take the result of the reroll, even if it's worse than the original roll.
In addition, once per day when an attack hits you, you may force an enemy to roll the attack again. The enemy must take the result of the reroll, even if it’s worse than the original roll.
Chaos Magic. You learn the prestidigitation cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast
the chaos bolt spell as a 1st-level spell once with this trait, and you regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
Also, if you score a critical hit while casting the chaos bolt spell using this feature, the bolt
deals damage as though it were cast as a 2nd level spell. Grung (Gold) - Ian Grung are territorial frog-like humanoids that dwell within tropical environments. They view themselves as superior to other races and secret poisonous toxins that are determined by their skin color which also dictates where they fall in their caste system.
Poisonous Skin, which is replaced with the following traits. Poisonous Skin (Revised). Whenever a creature grapples you or otherwise comes into direct contact with your skin you can use your reaction to force that creature to make a Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 minute. A poisoned creature no longer in direct contact with you can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. In addition, once per round, you can also apply this poison to any piercing weapon as part of an attack with that weapon, though when you hit the poison reacts differently. The target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 2d4 poison damage. The DC for your poison equals 7 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus.
Toxic Coloration. Your contact poison has an additional effect that differs based upon your subrace. The effect lasts until the creature is no longer poisoned.
Orange Skin. Orange grungs, are elite warriors that have authority over all lesser grungs.
Orange Poison. The poisoned creature is frightened of its allies unless it can also see an
Variant Aasimar - Austin
Variant Base Statistics. At the time of character creation, you can choose to not gain the Celestial Resistance, Healing Hands, and Light Bearer traits (VGM). Instead, roll 3 times on the Angelic Heritage Traits table, and you gain those traits. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for any spells granted by these traits. Reroll the result if you get the same result twice, or if you would gain a third resistance, a second cantrip, or a third spell in this manner.
This is not a subrace, and you can still select a subrace normally when you choose this option.
Below are some sample feats that we particularly enjoyed from this vast collection.
Gnomish Transformation - Justin
You may use your action to transform into the shape of a mushroom, a small shrub or a bright wooden figurine of a gnome. While in this form you cannot speak or perform any actions, and your speed becomes 0. You gain advantage on stealth checks made to hide in natural terrain while in this form. You can end this effect as a reaction.
Fury from Beyond - Ian Prerequisite: Half-orc or Orc
Once per long rest, when you drop to 0 hit points, you may choose to not become unconscious, and instead keep acting normally. You must make death saving throws, however, and you die if you fail three times. If you succeed three times, this effect ends and you gain 1 hit point. You can’t be stabilized while you continue fighting and casting spells at 0 hit points, except by healing. You may end this effect as a bonus action while you remain at 0 hit points, and all normal rules for that situation take over.
Fiend Hunter - Austin
You are a warrior in the endless war between angels and fiends.
You gain the effects of the protection from evil and good and the detect evil and good spells, but their effects do not detect or protect you from creatures other than fiends.
Unearthed Tips and Tricks! We bring you new and creative content for you to bring with you on your next adventure
“In order to return to his majesty. I must first complete my quest.”
You were born to a family that has served the royal family of your Kingdom for centuries. Your master considers you one of their most trustworthy servants. They wish to put you at the head of the royal guard. A great honor, but in order to claim that position, you must first prove your valor. The nature of your family’s position has led to a life of strict adherence to rules. Whether it be the rule of law, a household, or just common courtesy. These high standards of responsibility leave you a bit stiff, but honest. You have been tasked by your royal master to achieve proven valor before you can return.
While most goblins are cowardly and tend to retreat or surrender. There are a few that manage to surpass their brethren in intelligence and cunning. These rare goblins often are respected by their minions rather than feared.
Tactical Goblin Boss
Origin: Hobgoblin Captain
Lost Features - Greatsword, Javelin, Martial Advantage. Reduce the size too small, Multiattack
Cunning Action. On each of its turns, the goblin can use a bonus action to take the Dash, Disengage, or Hide action.
Sneak Attack (1/turn). The goblin deals an extra 10 (3d6) damage when it hits a target with a weapon attack and has advantage on the attack roll, or when the target is within 5 feet of an ally that the goblin that isn’t incapacitated and the goblin doesn’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.
Dagger. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 +2) piercing damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 hour. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the target is also unconscious while poisoned in this way. The target wakes up if it takes damage or if another creature takes an action to shake it awake.
Shortbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 80/320., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 +2) piercing damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 hour. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the target is also unconscious while poisoned in this way. The target wakes up if it takes damage or if another creature takes an action to shake it awake.
Superior Goblin Tactics. When the goblin is hit with an attack, it can use its reaction to command its allies to make a tactical advance. Up to two of the goblins' allies that can see or hear it can immediately use their reaction to take the Disengage action and move up to half their speed and take the Shove or Grapple action.
Monster Features of Note: Leadership - for 1-minute allies gain a d4 to attack rolls and saving throws.
Gery Archivold (M, verteran), a merchant from the distant east, is secretly a member of Steel Circle. This powerful group of evil mercenaries worship the dark lord Asmodeus and fights alongside various devils. Gery Archivold hides his connection to this sinister group, presenting her mission as something more innocuous.
Gery inquires if the characters recall the story of those who built the Blackmore Abbey. A character with a successful DC 15 Intelligence (History) check knows the following information, or Gery shares it if not. It was built by overzealous adventurers who killed innocents and plundered sacred sites for treasure. Though they started off well-meaning and champions of truth and justice. Their growing power and greed corrupted them.
He tasks the characters with recovering some of the items they stole from his lands. Specifically, a family heirloom is known as the Axe of Archivold. It can be spotted easily if they manage to locate it. It has a large ruby, deep red in color, set in the pommel. Returning this item, in particular, will earn a hefty reward. When the characters locate the axe, it is being wielded by the wandering corpse of one of the Blackmore adventurers (Use flesh golem statblock. This Creature is undead in addition to its normal creature type ).
The truth that Gery Archivold holds from the characters is that the Axe of Archivold is cursed. It's a weapon created by followers of Asmodeus. For this item use the cursed Berserker Axe (DMG).
Sae’thren is an oddly-shaped hat with lots of frills, bells, and bits that swirl in the wind. To everyone, it appears to be an aesthetic, though gaudy, hat until someone puts it on. Once put on by a party member, the hat will awaken, reveal that it is sentient and that it wants nothing more than to observe the world from atop someone’s head. In exchange for wearing and attuning to the hat, you can cast message through the hat 3 times per long rest. If the wearer is of 9th level or higher and is also in good standing with Sae’thren, they can cast Rary’s telepathic bond once per long rest.
Dungeon Master Tip:
Build Encounters to fit Player Choices
As DMs we build a lot of encounters in our careers with a variety of methods. Something that can get overlooked is actions and choices the players take that we never keep in mind in our encounter building or at the very least don’t do it enough.
A great example would be when a group of adventurers encounters a wereboar, and only has a single caster. This makes what might otherwise be a simple encounter far more challenging. Once, and if the party survives, a character may then choose to silver their weapon. What good is that choice if they never encounter another lycanthropic enemy again?
When actions like this happen, do your best to go out of your way to ensure that the choice the player made is rewarded later in the campaign. This will not only allow a throwback to previous events but will also have your player cheering for glee because they prepared for just such an occasion.
Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick! You can avoid dickitude by… Writing a backstory for your DM to pull from!! But let’s be honest there are times where writing a backstory you enjoy can seem overwhelming or to big to tackle. When that is the case I like to work backwards from who your PC IS to who your PC WAS!
A masked menace terrifies the region. The adventurers stumble into her scheme: the kidnapping of a famous performer known as Devon Artis. Their mission is to deliver a ransom and collect Devon.
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