DnD 5e: Aarakocra Race Guide
Do you love looking out the plane window at the ground below? Do you ever imagine floating in the air, high above the everyday worries of life? If so, then perhaps you should consider the Aarakocra for your next character’s race! As big bird people (not to be confused with Big Bird from the muppets) they offer a unique playstyle and bring unique challenges to any game. They have average stats, sacrifice some ground speed, and beyond their flight ability they only have one other racial trait and no racial feats. Keep in mind that flying out of combat will provoke an attack of opportunity like any terrestrial movement would; unfortunately it’s not the get out of jail free card I briefly thought it was.
Ability Score Increase
Your Dexterity score increases by 2, and your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Aarakocra reach maturity by age 3. Compared to humans, aarakocra don’t usually live longer than 30 years.
Most Aarakocra are good and rarely choose sides when it comes to law and chaos. Tribal leaders and warriors might be lawful, while explorers and adventurers might tend toward chaotic.
Aarakocra are about 5 feet tall. They have thin, lightweight bodies that weigh between 80 and 100 pounds. Your size is Medium.
Your base walking speed is 25 feet.
You have a flying speed of 50 feet. To use this speed, you can’t be wearing medium or heavy armor.
Your talons are natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with them, you deal slashing damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength modifier, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.
You can speak, read, and write Common, Aarakocra, and Auran.
Best Classes and Archetypes for Aarakocra
Makers of magically infused items, this class relies on Intelligence and constitution for the role of spellcaster and melee combatant.
Alchemist – Makes elixirs with random buffs starting at level 3 and damage resistances later on.
Armorer – Designed for melee combat and heavy armor, which disables your flight ability if you wear medium or heavy armor.
Artillerist – Long range damage support via constructed eldritch cannons, one type able to shoot a ranged spell attack 120ft dealing 2d8 force damage. Activate the cannons as a bonus action!
Battle Smith – You get to build a summonable construct, which is sweet, but the bonuses to you are mostly geared toward melee and the intelligence modifier.
As a five foot, hundred pound bird person with hollow bones, becoming a barbarian would be brutal. For you. Your wings wouldn’t be of much use and your unarmed strike could be somewhat useful depending on the subclass you pick. Unless you have some specific design in mind, best to avoid this class.
Ancestral Guardian – Ancestral guardian gives you some extra staying power and party damage mitigation.
Beast – Offers bonus damage with natural weapons, but not much more than your claws already do. The extra jump and climbing abilities it grants are redundancies.
Berserker – Get an extra attack for a bonus action and intimidation, won’t bring much value to your character.
Depths – Quite aquatic in its theme this subclass offers a teleport for quick disengage/mobility, augmenting your stats, and a splash damage ability. Pun fully intended.
Juggernaut – More of a traditional barbarian feel, but focuses on stationary zone control, far from ideal for an Aarakocra.
Storm Herald – This aura granting class means you’ll need to be in close combat for best results.
Totem Warrior – Bear – This will help toughen you up with resistance to all damage but psychic and later an area of effect intimidation.
Totem Warrior – Eagle – Enemies will have disadvantage on attacks of opportunity which helps you utilize your natural mobility. Later you’ll get better vision and a redundant flight ability that’s half your flying speed.
Totem Warrior – Elk – This nature spirit is focused on ground mobility. Again, not useful unless you’re unable to fly, though you do get a charge move at level 14.
Totem Warrior – Tiger – The level 14 ability is interesting as they can potentially take advantage of your speed to grant you an extra melee attack. The previous benefits are an enhanced jump and a short list of skills to get proficiency in.
Totem Warrior – Wolf – You’re the pack leader, give allies next to you advantage on melee attacks, stalk extra stealthy, and use your bonus action to knock prone any creature Large or smaller.
Wild Magic – Your innate magic pops off when you enter a rage, hurting your enemies and helping you or your allies.
Zealot – Get extra damage on your first hit while raging and become extra durable in combat.
With bards having dexterity as their second key attribute, the Aarakocra have the potential to do well in this class. Supporting allies is a large part of playing the bard class so having access to teleport, you can pop out of combat and use that awesome 50 flying movespeed to reach endangered allies in the blink of an eye. Definitely focus on getting that Charisma attribute higher and you should be set as a mobile support platform.
Creation – With this subclass, you’ll strengthen your bardic inspiration, be able to animate objects to fight for you in battle, and create objects for a short time. It’s not a bad pick, but it doesn’t offer much synergy with your race.
Eloquence – This will provide access to an offensive and defensive spell, but not anything to write home about.
Glamour – AOE health buff for allies and charming enemies for fun and profit. Does offer fun roleplaying possibilities.
Lore – Benefits your bard spells and offers access to two spells from other classes.
Maestro – Some see battle as a dance or an argument; you see it as a symphony to be shaped and guided. Gain access to a battery of 60ft range conducting techniques to support your allies from range.
Swords – The three blade flourish effects you can use on an attack can help make you harder to hit, hurt a second foe, or able to disengage without wasting an action on disengaging.
Valor – Melee focused, but you’ll not get the added evasive abilities other bard subclasses provide.
Whispers – Be able to deal terrifying psychic damage on weapon attacks, use shadows to conceal your identity, and use fear as a tool against your enemies. Secretly Batman? You already have the wings for it.
A class that specializes in hunting down evils at any cost, even their own lifeforce, Blood Hunters can be a good pick for the Dextrous Aarakocra. With the flexibility of long range specialization and extra damage options on hit, you can become a powerful damage support. Not to mention an extra 5ft speed and +1 bonus to Constitution, Dexterity, and Strength saving throws at level 10.
Ghostslayer – Have your weapons deal extra light damage and Aether Walk through enemies and objects alike.
Lycan – Being a Were-bird-wolf may sound like a fever dream, but it actually helps toughen you up in melee combat, makes use of your Dexterity, and improves your unarmed strike to become a threat from any range.
Mutant – Concoct a formula from a dozen choices to enhance yourself at the price of taking a debuff. Later levels let you negate some of the negatives, and the choices of buffs is quite impressive.
Profane Soul – Gain an otherworld patron just like a warlock! You’ll get some access to spells, but you’ll get cooking with extra attack bonuses when a crimson rite is effective.
As a combat spellcaster, Clerics can be a good choice for an Aarakocra. Devote yourself to a Deity and they will grant you power. You’ll get access to strong damage dealing and healing spells. You’ll want to be pumping points into Wisdom and Charisma to excel in this class.
Arcana – Augment your cleric spells with wizard cantrips and spells.
Blood – At the cost of your own health, hurt, puppet, and magically observe a distant enemy through their own senses.
Death – As the name suggests, these clerics are interested in death, draining life, and undeath thus you have access to necromantic cantrips and spells.
Forge – Here you get to be a magical blacksmith to create and imbue items with power. Gives several buffs if you’re wearing heavy armor, which you’d need to trade flying for once again.
Grave – A guardian at the door between life and death, the grave cleric will help your allies stay on the life side, and your enemies (especially the undead ones who escape) behind the death side of the door. Has line of sight and ranged abilities.
Knowledge – Get bonuses to a few proficiencies and glean knowledge from others surface thoughts and from visions from the past.
Life – Your classic healer with some damage sprinkled in for fun and profit.
Light – Here is your cleric that rains down the holy fire of their deity’s light, literally.
Nature – Augment your cleric spells with a splash of druidism.
Order – The long arm of the law is you; magically compel others to obey the laws of order and smite those that refuse.
Peace – Spread your deity’s peace to strengthen, heal, and take damage on behalf of your allies.
Tempest – Lightning! Lightning! Lightning! The storm that rages within your soul manifests in reality to smite your enemies.
Trickery – Use the gifts of illusions and duplicity to confuse and overcome your foes.
Twilight – You are the sanctuary in the darkness, the guide through the blackest paths. You’ll gain and grant darkvision, create auras of protection and healing around you for those who walk with you.
War – Whether you’re defending, looting, or conquering a land, there’s a god of war ready to help you and your allies dish out some extra hurt.
Being a creature already closely tied to a natural force, one can be forgiven for thinking this class would be a no brainer. However, your racial characteristics outcompete many early druid forms and you aren’t able to cast spells in your animal form until level 18. You do have a bonus to your Wisdom which is tied to your spellcasting. Never be afraid to ask, “How does this add to my character’s inborn traits?” If you’re looking to squeeze every drop of potential out of your character, this may be a class to skip.
Dreams – This is a utility subclass as many of the abilities you gain are tied to traveling quickly and resting safely.
Land – Lore wise this is hard to make work when your race prefers to be high above the land rather than connecting with it. In terms of abilities, you can choose a set out of eight very different options.
Moon – Highly focused on wild shape and becoming more dangerous creatures.
Shepherd – Protect the wilds and the wilds will protect you. Summon creatures and spirit totems to aid you in your quest.
Spores – The fungus brings life out of death and so it will help decay your enemies, protect your body, and even animate the dead for a short time.
Stars – Take astrology seriously and you’ll get to change into a starry form instead of an animal form, which gives you one of several benefits.
Wildfire – This subclass gives you a fiery companion that fights, gives you access to both healing and damaging flames, and will even grant you half your life back when you hit 0.
Fighters are most often geared toward melee specialization relying on Constitution and Strength. This means you’ll be spending extra ability points just to catch up to other fighters of a similar level since you have bonuses to neither of those attributes. There is opportunity to take a few ranged specializations to get your dexterity bonus in the mix or get the Mobile feat to weave through combet and make use of your flight. However, if you really want to be a ranged specialist, there are better classes.
Arcane Archer – For the fighter class, this is going to be your best pick. You’ll get to add spell effects to some of your arrows and redirect misses.
Battle Master – Learn combat maneuvers so you can dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge.
Cavalier – Focus on being a strong, reactive melee expert with a big emphasis on having a mount.
Champion – Increases your crits to hit on 19 and 20.
Echo Knight – Create magical copies of yourself to aid you in offense and defense.
Eldritch Knight – Sword Fighting and spell slinging.
Gunslinger – Blackpowder rifles and trick shots that use your Dex modifier!
Psi Warrior – Psychic empowered fighting.
Purple Dragon Knight – Also known as a Banneret, you lead the charge into the fray and inspire your allies.
Renegade – Much like the Gunslinger but with more gunpowder kegs.
Rune Knight – Channel magic through weapons, armor and other objects with inscribed runes. You also get really big and get extra damage on unarmed strikes!
Samurai – You’ll gain a few extra attacks and be a little harder to knock unconscious.
For the Aarakocra, there may be no better class. As creatures with a naturally stronger unarmed strike that can fly when no or light armor, they can excel in this class. You can become extremely hard to hit and fire off a ton of attacks at later levels that can shred in combat. Strength and Dexterity will be your main attributes to focus on, but Wisdom is also a very useful attribute for monks and your natural bonuses will settle themselves nicely here.
Ascendant Dragon – With this choice, you channel the awe inspiring presence of a dragon, letting you succeed a failed charisma roll, gain fire breath, change your unarmed strikes to deal elemental damage, and redundantly for you, fly. That knocks this down a peg to only good.
Astral Self – Manifest your astral form with ethereal arms, helms, and armor that give you extra attacks, resistance, and AC.
Cobalt Soul – Gives you knowledge of your enemy’s weakness when you strike. You can also manipulate the Ki in your target to force truth and remove damage resistances.
Drunken Master – Get a disengage every time you use a flurry of blows and improve your AC!
Four Elements – Allows you to use elemental spells by spending Ki points, and level up those spells by spending extra Ki.
Kensei – Become spiritually attuned to a specific weapon style and infuse your Ki to empower your attacks.
Long Death – Channel the energy of death, healing yourself, terrifying and damaging your foes.
Mercy – Spend your Ki to heal those around you or use your knowledge of medicine to harm foes. Eventually you will learn how to raise the recently deceased.
Open Hand – At level 3, your Flurry of Blows forces the target to make Dex and Str checks, you’ll gain healing and protection skills, and finally you’ll get a Ki time bomb as it were to deal 10d10 of damage to the creature you’ve struck with this as long as it’s on your plane of existence.
Shadow – Learn to attune yourself with the shadows, gaining stealth abilities as well as a 60ft teleport from shadow to shadow.
Sun Soul – Get an alternate ranged attack at level three, and gain more abilities that do lots of AOE radiant damage. One will even allow you to damage a creature that hits you within 30ft.
Paladins are combat masters who can inspire, protect, and heal their allies. They will be at home in the thick of combat, swinging their blessed weapons against supernatural foes. With CHA as the main attribute and excelling in close combat, this class is a skip for the Aarakocra.
Ancients – Swear your sword to the primeval entities of light and life, to gain protection from spells, death, and age itself.
Conquest – Such paladins are walking manifestations of the crushing strength of conquerors, striking fear into enemies shortly before striking them with weapons.
Crown – sworn to guard civilization and order, you will be able to buff allies and command enemies into submission.
Devotion – Quite literally the knight in shining armor. No really. You get a shining radiance that protects from evil, charms, and eventually does radiant damage to foes too close to you.
Glory – You exist that tales may be told of you and your brave companions. Inspire them to greater speeds, turn away attacks, and do great feats of daring.
Oathbreaker – Responsibility is overrated; cast your oath aside for command over undead, and dark auras of malevolence.
Open Sea – Geared for an ocean campaign, you can only access some abilities in water and others only affect walking and climbing speed.
Redemption – Rebuke the wicked who smite you, heal every wound you can (even your enemies) and kill as your last resort.
Vengeance – Those who do great evils will be destroyed by your hands, with any means necessary.
Watchers – Defend against extra-plannar beings and banish them from the material plane.
Rangers are flexible, mobile combatants with many skills useful while traveling. Strength is important for this class if you choose a melee focus, so you may be putting your higher attribute stats there. You can make use of your bonus Wisdom to cast spells to further round out your character. Once again, we’d be looking for classes that can enhance the use of your flying speed.
Beast Master – You will get a magical animal companion to aid you.
Drakewarden – Like the Beast Master, but with a magical drake that is more flexible than a single animal companion is.
Fey Wanderer – An excellent choice, get an extra 1d4 on damage rolls with your weapon, resistance to and redirects of charms, and even gain access to a misty step ability.
Gloom Stalker – Really great for stealth and ambush roles, but it would take away some of the flight bonus you’ve got.
Horizon Walker – Mobility incarnate. You get several types of teleport spells, including an offense combat blink, while also learning to phase through planes to protect yourself.
Hunter – You’ll gain bonus skills, abilities, and reactions against a specific class of enemies, not just one type. (for example hordes vs spiders)
Monster Slayer – Van Helsing’s subclass if he were in DnD. Stalk the creatures of the night and destroy them with your specialized knowledge and lightning reflexes.
Swarmkeeper – Summon birds, bees, fey and other creatures to aid you, giving extra damage die on attack and a teleport as well.
Rogue is a natural choice for Aarakocra. Having extra Dex puts you at a good advantage as that is the biggest attribute you’ll be utilizing. Not only that but Rogues benefit from mobility and getting places no one should be able to reach, something your wings will help you with quite readily.
Arcane Trickster – Best if you’re a race with a bonus to Int, as that is what your spells will be using to hit.
Assassin – You will be able to disguise your way into just about anywhere, deal critical damage to your surprised target, then fly out a window to make a speedy escape.
Inquisitive – You’ll benefit across all your gameplay with this class, as your Wis will come into play as you suss out the truth from your enemies words and actions, potentially to lethal results.
Mastermind – Lie to the liars and know when the lying liars are lying. You can pick up on subtle weaknesses and take advantage of any and every opportunity in conversation and combat.
Phantom – Deal damage to a second creature when you sneak attack, and use soul trinkets to increase your potency. This does give you a 10ft flying form which is inferior to your natural flight.
Scout – Get skirmisher at lvl 3 and disengage as a reaction that lets you move half your speed. Combined with your flight speed, you’ll be nigh untouchable.
Soulknife – A subclass with in and out of combat utility, you’ll gain psychic abilities that can even let you teleport yourself or attack your enemy’s mind directly.
Swashbuckler – Best for a high Cha character, it does provide some bonuses to Dex checks.
Thief – Except for one climb/jump boost, this subclass makes good use of your high dexterity for stealth and sleight of hand.
Sorcerers draw on the innate wellspring of magic within them to cast potent spells. While sorcerers are long range spellcasters that could benefit from the mobility of the Aarakocra, the ability bonuses you have won’t benefit your sorcerer role.
Aberrant Mind – This will provide psychic powers like telepathy and allow you to cast without somatic or verbal elements, plus you get a level 17 teleport that deals AOE where you originated.
Clockwork Soul – Blessed by a machine-like plane, you create order in the world around you. Negate advantage rolls against you, protect yourself, and potentially heal all your allies.
Divine Soul – Get access to Cleric spells, and yet again get wings worse than your own..
Draconic Bloodline – The AC13+Dex modifier while not armored at level 3 is a really good augmentation for the high Dex Aarakocra.
Rune Child – Reclaim expended power from spent sorcery points for special spells.
Shadow Sorcery – get extra damage resistances, a hellhound for harassment, and a shadowstep ability.
Storm Sorcery – A utility class, you’re able to control wind and rain, and give flight to allies at later levels.
Wild Magic – Try your luck when you cast a spell and spin the wheel of magical side effects!
“I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse”. Make a deal to gain powerful magics? Beats having to study! In all seriousness, the Warlock is an ok pick for Aarakocra. They can benefit from flying, mobile damage is always good. However, they won’t really capitalize on your Dex or Wis. You are going to be leaving attributes on the table by choosing this class.
Archfey – Your patron gives you access to teleportation as well as illusions to confuse your enemies.
Celestial – Learn healing spells, deal radiant damage, maybe resist death a time or two.
Fathomless – Release the Kraken. Or at least the Kraken’s tentacles
Fiend – Your classic warlock, making pacts with devils and demons, fire spells, throwing people through the nine hells. You know, just an average day at the office.
Genie – Make a pact with one of four types of genies, get spells specific to that type’s element, deal some extra damage on hit, and chill out in a lamp once in a while.
Great Old One – Gain telepathy from primordial gods like Cthulhu and make an unconscious humanoid your thrall.
Hexblade – Allows you to become a melee caster, but also renders your extra dexterity redundant since you can later use your Cha instead of Str or Dex on attacks.
Undying – You’ll learn to leech life from enemies you damage and become more durable, with the ability to cheat death once in a while.
The spellcaster’s equivalent of “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Again, potential mobile artillery. Your Wis bonus can come into play, though Int will be where you want your highest stats.
Abjuration – Protective and anti-magic spellcaster, you can protect allies from a lot of damage when you get the positioning down.
Artificer – Create scrolls, infuse weapons, craft arms and ammunition.
Bladesinging – This allows you to gain extra AC while wearing light armor and enhance your melee skills in numerous ways.
Chronurgist – Manipulate outcomes of multiple types of dice rolls to ensure the outcome is beneficial to you. Not a bad class, Aarakocra simply doesn’t add much to it.
Conjuration – Magically manifest objects and creatures into physical existence. You get a teleportation spell and at level 10 your concentration casting a spell can’t be broken by taking damage.
Divination – You learn to see and sometimes alter the future. You can also magically alter your perception to have darkvision, see into the Ethereal plane, or invisible things.
Enchantment – Charm your way through life to avoid attacks, and all the other wonderful non-combat applications. Later make your targets forget they were even charmed at all!
Evocation – Very ally friendly if you’re looking to bomb from long range as you can cause creatures in your spell’s range to automatically pass saving throws and take less damage.
Graviturgist – Altering the density of enemies, moving them around, and causing them to take extra damage from ally attacks are great if you’re going to be a supporting spellcaster or a damage dealing one.
Illusion – Can help in some instances avoid damage and provide out of combat utility, but doesn’t bring anything to the table for Aarakocra.
Necromancy – Provides some extra staying power and lets you summon minions to keep foes off you.
Order of Scribes – Spells are valuable and scribes take this literally. They are able to cast spells from a conjured companion, sacrifice spells to avoid damage, and write scrolls in a flash to cast extra spells.
Transmutation – Like old school alchemists, you can change materials into other types of material of similar weight and value. You can store some of this to expend on a larger effect later.
War Magic – Gives you protections in the heat of battle.
Racial Feats/Best Feats
The Aarakocra don’t come with any types of racial feats, thus the best feats for the Aarakocra will make use of wings, speed, or their claws. As such, here are some of the best ones.
Charger – This allows you to attack or shove an enemy after using Dash as an action. If you attack you get +5 damage when you hit. With your speed, there isn’t an enemy you won’t be able to reach and hit. This is useful for chasing down slippery enemies that can disengage and dash as a bonus action.
Fey Touched – +1 Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma, learn misty step and another 1st level spell. As I’ve been going on about it, here is one of the best feats to take in order to ensure you are always able to use your flight abilities.
Mobile – The important part of this feat is that when you make a melee attack on an enemy, you don’t provoke attacks of opportunity for the rest of the turn. The downside is that you do have to attack to make use of this feature. So it will be less useful facing multiple opponents unless you have enough attacks against them all.
Sharpshooter – If you choose a ranged martial build, sharpshooter is a must take. This means you don’t have disadvantage on any of your ranged weapons using them at long range. More importantly in the author’s opinion is that your shots ignore half and 3/4 cover. This removes much of your disadvantage when fighting entrenched foes, during ambushes, and against fellow long range combatants.
Slasher – +1 Str or Dex, reduce speed of target hit with slashing damage by 10, crits with slashing damage inflict grievous wounds and they have disadvantage on attack rolls till the start of your next turn. This is a must take if you choose to go with an unarmed damage build. With your claws dealing slashing damage, you can slow and disadvantage enemies with each hit. Combined with Mobile, you’ll be a nigh untouchable bolt of lighting across the battlefield.