Meta Description: Centaurs in Dungeons & Dragons 5e usually end up being NPC characters - but in this D&D 5e guide, we'll show you how to make an interesting Centaur for your adventure.
Centaur in Dungeons & Dragons 5e usually get bad rep as random encounter monsters, or even as goons working for a minor villain for a forest-based adventure. After all, Centaurs in D&D 5e don't necessarily belong in the "mainstream" ancestries such as Dwarves, Elves, and Humans. However, if your Dungeon Master allows Centaurs in your game, you should seize the opportunity to make a memorable character that's not the stereotypical Centaur archer.
However, with so little information about Centaurs in the 5e Player's Handbook, how exactly should you approach this? This quick guide will give you the data you'll need to make a Centaur for your D&D 5e game.
Basics: The Traits
Players who make Centaurs will enjoy Ability Score bonuses assigned to Strength and Wisdom, making them perfect for roles that rely on muscle and gathering information based on insight. Centaurs also enjoy the following traits:
Ability Score Increase: STR + 2, WIS + 1
Age: Centaurs age at the same rate as Humans.
Size and Speed: Medium, albeit they tower over most humanoids, 40ft walking speed.
Alignment: Centaurs don’t like meddling in the fairs of other creatures, making them lean towards Neutral alignments.
Racial Features: Centaurs have these features:
Fey, wherein Centaurs are considered Fey instead of humanoid.
Charge, wherein Centaurs that move at least 30ft can choose to Charge. This lets them hit targets with a melee attack within the same turn and, if they choose to, use a Bonus Action for a hoof attack.
Hooves, wherein Centaurs can use their hooves to make a melee attack. They’re proficient in these hooves. When successful, the target takes 1d4 + STR Mod in bludgeoning damage.
Equine Build, wherein Centaurs are considered one size larger if there’s a need to determine the weight they can carry, drag, or push.
Unfortunately, climbs that require feet and hands are difficult for them. When doing this, each foot of movement costs another extra four.
Survivor, where Centaurs gain proficiency in one of these skills: Survival, Nature, Medicine, or Animal Handling.
Languages, of which Centaurs write, read, and speak Sylvan and Common.
Centaur: The Best Classes To Build
Centaurs are commonly depicted as denizens and guardians of forests and wildlife, making them ideal protectors and vanguards of their tribes and the Fey. They can possess just enough strength to wrestle with the mightiest of intruders and with a dash of wisdom to know how to deal with various threats.
Flavor-wise, Centaurs find themselves attuned and attracted to roles and positions that tap into their love for exploration and nature. As such, here are some of the most ideal Classes for players who want to make a Centaur for their adventure:
Cleric: Just because a Centaur has a connection with nature and its denizens doesn’t mean they’re automatically fit for Druids. In fact, a Centaur may be connected to forests, wildlife, and nature through a Divinity that communicates with them. Instead of using the archetypal “nature as a whole” connection, a Centaur Cleric may be an avatar of a nature deity or a celestial guardian of sorts that wants to ensure the wildlife of the world remains pure and untouched.
Thanks to the Centaur’s innate WIS Ability Score bonus, they make ideal Clerics. Moreover, their STR bonus enables them to make a more melee-oriented fighter to take on threats, ensuring their Spell Slots aren’t solely used to buff allies. A STR-oriented Centaur Cleric may resort to bashing their opponents as part of the War, Unity, Light, or even Forge Domain.
Moreover, the natural increase to WIS allows Centaurs to cast more powerful spells on the onset, as WIS becomes their primary determinant in terms of Spell Save DC. Players may want to increase their WIS further to maximize this factor or they may even focus on other Ability Scores to make a more well-rounded Centaur Cleric.
Players who want to make a more flavor-oriented Centaur Cleric may want to consider choosing a Divine Domain related to nature - such as Life, Nature, Tempest, or Twilight. These Domains may represent the Centaur Cleric’s desire to protect their home or nature at large, which may have motivated them to explore the world in the first place.
Druid: With their affinity with nature, it’s safe to say that the Druid seems to be one of the most fitting archetypes associated with the Centaur. After all, the Centaur’s innate connection with wildlife and plant life makes sense for them to be able to tap into its natural energies in some form or fashion. However, technicality-wise, a Centaur Druid may be one of the best assets your party can have when it comes to having a support or utility character.
The natural WIS Ability Score bonus of the Centaur makes them extremely fit for the Druid class. Moreover, their added STR bonus enables them to at least deal decent damage as melee combatants. Thanks to their Wild Shape, they can easily enjoy more STR-based perks if they choose to transform into heavy-hitting creatures, making them great melee damage dealers.
In addition, their innate Spellcasting allows them to offer a wide range of utility benefits for the entire party, making the Centaur Druid one of the most versatile options for a party. Thanks to their Druid Circle, they can get access to even more specialized perks, letting the Centaur Druid take on the front lines as a tank or the back of the line as a support role.
Flavor-wise, Centaur Druids seem great fits for Druidic Circles of the Shepherd, Moon, Stars, Twilight, and Wildfire. Thanks to the perks of these Druidic Circles, the Centaur can easily defend their territories or even explore unknown lands.
Fighter: A Centaur’s burly appearance can complement their mastery of melee weaponry, making them perfect guardians and warriors of their tribes. These Centaur Fighters may be part of their defensive militia, or even explorers and workers trained in the art of battle should they encounter threats along the way. Thanks to the flexible nature of the Fighter, Centaurs can ease them into any kind of role and backstory they want to make.
Thanks to the Centaur’s innate STR Ability Score bonus, their Fighters can easily dominate the melee scene. Moreover, their added WIS enables them to spot traps much faster, react on situations much more quickly, and even assess individuals with ease. These Ability Score bonuses add great flavor to the Fighter, as the STR and WIS bonuses denote a skilled combatant both in terms of battle prowess and analyzing the enemy.
The Fighter offers an extremely straightforward Class for the Centaur, giving them a ton of utility options to maximize their roles in encounters. For instance, their innate Fighting Style, Second Wind, Action Surge, and multiple Ability Score Increase (or Feat Acquisition) options enable the Centaur to become a juggernaut in just a few levels. Moreover, they can diversify their combat style by choosing their weapon of preference, their ideal Fighting Style, and a matching Feat to make an incredible frontline Fighter.
The imposing nature of the Centaur makes them great Fighters, and more so with the right archetype. Traditional archetypes that fit the Centaur would be the Brute, the Battle Master, the Champion, the Scout, or even the Sharpshooter. However, a Centaur leaning towards more specialized Fighter Archetypes (such as the Eldritch Knight, the Samurai, and the Arcane Archer) can definitely add a great sense of versatility to the party.
Ranger: This is where the stereotypical Centaurs-with-bows image comes in and this makes perfect sense. If your adventure has Centaurs in tribes and villages, it makes sense for them to have archers and rangers scouting for nearby threats. And just because a Centaur is a Ranger doesn’t mean they have to be relegated as scouts and ranged attackers - some players may opt for Centaur Rangers out to explore the world and map out the wilderness or perhaps a Centaur Ranger is out to make a name for themselves in the adventuring niche.
Thanks to the innate +1 WIS of Centaurs, players may opt to make Centaur Rangers that focus on two-weapon fighting builds. Moreover, they may try to balance out their melee and long-range options by trying to focus on both STR and DEX builds, with the former getting a much-needed boost with the Centaur’s natural STR bonus.
Flavor-wise, a Centaur Ranger makes sense based on their backgrounds. Centaurs will likely be very territorial about their homes and settlements, with some opting to scout ahead for threats and warn the clan should they find any. As such, Centaur Rangers may specialize in dealing with their terrain and the threats that reside there.
Players who want to make a background-oriented Centaur Ranger may want to consider taking up Ranger Conclaves such as Primeval Guardian, Hunter, or even Gloom Stalker. These class archetypes are a perfect fit for the Centaur’s protective yet reclusive nature.
Wizard: Just because a Centaur has an inclination towards nature doesn’t mean they’re incapable of studying the arcane arts. In fact, an adventuring world may have a forest near Wizarding Schools, where Centaurs may partake in arcane education or perhaps learn on their own by stealing books from the nearby library. A Centaur Wizard may seem to be an unconventional choice for a character, but it’s one open to a lot of story possibilities.
Despite the lack of INT-based Ability Score bonus in the Centaur, a Centaur Wizard would have great use for their ancestry’s STR and WIS-based Ability Score bonuses. Thanks to these perks, the Centaur Wizard may be able to determine insight with more clarity and enough Strength to defend themselves when it comes to melee combat. In addition, this allows the player to focus more on INT without worrying about the Centaur Wizard’s other traits.
Moreover, innate Spellcasting perks of the Centaur Wizard will allow them to offer quite the versatile skill set to the party. Arcane Recovery, Spell Mastery, and Signature Spells will allow a straight Wizard build to become juggernauts against even the most powerful foes.
Thanks to the vast offerings of Arcane Traditions, a Centaur Wizard can achieve mastery of almost any spell type imaginable. They may choose an Arcane Tradition prescribing the eight basic types of spells or perhaps choose more unique and specialized Arcane Traditions such as the Bladesinger, Chronurgy, Graviturgy, Invention, Lore Mastery, or Psionics.
Half But Whole: Interesting Character Backgrounds
The Centaur’s love for the forests and wildlife make them extremely knowledgeable about the wild and how to navigate its various threats. Moreover, their intimate relationship with nature makes them very inclined to take on roles devoted to spirituality and honing their knowledge on the natural arts. Despite the burly appearance, Centaurs may also grow to be wise and extremely intelligent creatures, often possessing knowledge that other studious folk would need years to practice and learn.
Players interested in making a Centaur may be interested in trying out these character background options for their adventure:
Acolyte (Player’s Handbook): A Centaur Acolyte may be someone preaching the word of their nature deity to the cities, calling for a return to nature or a unison between advanced technologies and nature’s many offerings. Aside from a nature-centric approach, Centaur Acolytes may simply be devout believers of their religion - a Centaur may have been saved by their chosen deity in their village, or they may have been called upon to spread their word amongst the masses.
Languages: Choose any two languages.
Proficiencies: WIS (Insight), INT (Religion)
Cloistered Scholar (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide): Interestingly, another unique Centaur background would be that of the Cloistered Scholar. Centaurs in tribes and villages may have had access to various books that they found themselves compelled to read. A Centaur who’s a Cloistered Scholar may have labored to learn how to read, speak, and write a common language through sheer observation, and they may have devoted years or decades of their life just reading books they’ve found in the trails their tribes govern.
Languages: Choose any two languages.
Proficiencies: INT (History) and choose 1 from INT (Arcana), INT (Nature), or INT (Religion)
Folk Hero (Player’s Handbook): A Centaur may find themselves adventuring for fame and glory after being declared a Folk Hero. An incident at home may have found the Centaur embarking on an adventure - perhaps it might be about finding a lost artifact, finding medicine for their leader, or perhaps rescuing the daughter of their chief that was kidnapped by bandits. Regardless of the reason, a Centaur who’s been regarded as a Folk Hero has a reputation to maintain.
Tools: Vehicles (Land), Artisan’s Tools x1
Proficiencies: WIS (Animal Handling), WIS (Survival)
Gladiator (Player’s Handbook): Centaurs who find themselves in big cities may have been caught trespassing by city guards and eventually forced to fight for their lives in the local gladiatorial arena. However, instead of faltering, a Centaur Gladiator may have found renewed resolve in earning their freedom through battle. Their battle-tested wits and bodies may have given them a new perspective in life and newer tactics to use on various enemies.
Tools: Disguise Kit, Unusual Weapon x1
Proficiencies: DEX (Acrobatics), CHA (Performance)
Outlander (Player’s Handbook): A Centaur may have come from distant lands and countries unknown to most common folk. For these Centaur Outlanders, the cities, and nations these far ahead may be a stranger to them as well. Unlike other creatures though, a Centaur Outlander has gathered enough skills to learn how to survive in these foreign lands - and maybe earn a gold or two doing missions.