Hello all! Welcome to another segment of “Race Card.” This is a segment in which I discuss one of the Player Races in D&D, a subrace, or a general concept behind race in general.
Right now I’m watching my sister’s cat until we can find it a good home. With the little girl following me everywhere and making her presence a constant thing, I thought I would talk about Tabaxi today.
Tabaxi are one of the races released in Volo’s Guide to Monsters as a new race for players to mess around with. With the popular craze in cat-people and anime that continues to go strong, many would find these humanoids a welcomed player race. Tabaxi are taller than people, but like cats, they are graceful and lithe, looking like cats that walk upright.
As to stats, Tabaxi have a number of abilities that make them very useful. The first among these is their high dexterity, which suits them well to many classes, especially monk, ranger, and rogue. The second is that tabaxi have retractable claws, just like actual cats, this gives them an unarmed strike-like ability that deals slashing, rather than bludgeoning damage. Whether the tabaxi is somehow assailed when they have no weapons or you just want a new type of damage for your monk, the claws give you some nice flexibility and some elbow room in the always-unfortunate situations when you are caught without equipment.
Also, Tabaxi can move like the wind. Besides being fast, they can move double their speed if they go for one turn without moving. Tabaxi have a respectable moving speed, but if you combine this with other abilities such as the increased movement that monks get, you can spatially dominate a battlefield, having unbelievable movement and mobility. Move into melee; spend a couple rounds taking something out, then dash out of it with the tabaxi’s quick movement and plow right into your next target. The ability favors aggressive skirmishing, though it can also be used to keep casters safe when the battle starts to move their way and they need to move. The ability however doesn’t work for heavy armor so the ability is not as useful for classes such as fighters, clerics, and paladins, though depending on how you build those characters, it may still come into play if you play a more lightly-armored version of those classes, which is definitely something you could do.
As for the Roleplaying aspect of tabaxi, they have a lot to interest the role-player. For one thing, they are exceptionally rare which means they will encounter a sort of strangeness from others wherever they go. This will extend both ways as well. Tabaxi generally keep to themselves so an elven enclave, Dwarven hold, or massive cosmopolitan city will astound them where other more common races might feel more jaded.
There is more to tabaxi than this. They are described as being curious and persistent but also fickle, much like cats tend to be. Tabaxi have an innate drive to explore and learn, and their culture often keeps that focus narrow. However, this narrow focus constantly shifts and thus a tabaxi trying to learn local fairy tales one day might be trying to learn about mining equipment the next. If you want to play a character that is lovably quirky, tabaxi are for you. Their quirkiness also extends to a habit of fidgeting with things they find, also, much as a cat does with a ball of yarn or a leaf or piece of string. If you like cats, you can be one in behavior as well as appearance if you want and so cat lovers rejoice that these creatures exist.
I’ll be honest and I’m not much of a cat person, but the Forgotten Realms offers a slightly different tabaxi aspect than do other campaigns. As mentioned in Volo’s guide to Monsters, in the Realms, tabaxi come from the continent of Maztica, a setting formerly its own campaign with a strong mezzo-American feel to it. Among long-gone civilizations, I personally have a strong liking for the Aztecs, and so if I played a tabaxi in this setting, I would definitely keep that up. Tabaxi tend to have names that frankly sound like American Indian surnames after translation, and I would personally try to do that but keep the names in something that was either Nahuatl or something fake that sounded similar. In this setting anyone who liked the Aztecs, Mayans, or Olmecs would also find something to like.
Anyway, I’m going to put the cat out and give it a little milk and catnip while you think of how you might want to use these wonderful cat creatures as players, or perhaps just refine their usage with you and your group. See you later.
About the Author:
Zachary Ruffing is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and is currently running his homemade “Children of Gith” storyline. He likes classic lit, bad sci-fi and horror movies, and the company of his rat and 2 dogs. The cat he’s watching has no interest in the rat, though the cowardly little girl is still terrified.