A Guide to D&D Sizes, Photo Sketch of a Dragon and a Woman in the Middle of a Field

Your Guide to Sizes in D&D 5e

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is full of fantastical creatures of various shapes and sizes. And often, the size of a creature comes into play.
 
But, how does size in D&D work? What are the size categories a given creature fits into? And, how does it affect gameplay?
 
This article outlines everything you need to know about size in D&D 5e if you’re just starting playing.

First, let’s go over what size means in D&D.

D&D Sizes Explained

D&D Sizes, Man Fighting a Dragon
Size is a mechanic in D&D 5e which establishes rough guidelines for how much space any given creature takes up

Size in D&D 5e essentially explains the amount of space any given creature or object takes up. It dictates certain game mechanics like lifting and pulling but is generally used to reference how many tiles something takes up on a battlemap.

A creature’s size in D&D effectively explains the amount of space it takes up in a given combat encounter. But, it may be used outside of combat to determine a creature’s ability to enter a space.

Also, as I’ll explain later, size also fits into D&D 5e’s carrying mechanics. Of course, demonstrating how bigger creatures can carry more weight than smaller ones.

So, essentially, size in D&D dictates the following:

  • How much effective space a creature takes up
  • The smallest space a creature may squeeze through
  • How much weight a creature may lift, drag, or push

Page 191 of the Player’s Handbook essentially describes size as the amount of space a creature controls during combat. It also includes what space means in the context of combat.

A creature’s space is the area in feet that it effectively controls in combat, not an expression of its physical dimensions. A typical Medium creature isn’t 5 feet wide, for example, but it does control a space that wide…
A creature’s space also reflects the area it needs to fight effectively. For that reason, there’s a limit to the number of creatures that can surround another creature in combat.

Source: DnD Beyond | Basic Rules – Chapter 9: Combat

So, size in D&D determines space controlled on the battlefield, not necessarily the actual size of a creature.

However, I would like to include that size has uses outside of combat for the reasons stated above. It’s not just how many feet a creature controls during combat.

With that out of the way, D&D 5e includes six categories of sizes for easy reference and to help simplify the mechanics for both GMs and players.

D&D Size Chart

Photo Sketch of a Chicken Standing on a Cat Standing on a Dog Standing on a Donkey
D&D divides size into six categories: Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge, & Gargantuan

D&D 5e has six size categories for creatures and objects; Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge, and Gargantuan. Each category dictates how much space in terms of squares or hexes on a battlemap and gives players and Game Masters a refence for how big something is.

Use the following D&D Size Chart for reference on how much space any given creature takes up.

D&D Sizes
Size Space Squares Hexes
Tiny 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 ft. 1/4 x 1/4 of a sq. 1/4 x 1/4 of a hex
Small 5 x 5 ft. 1 sq. 1 hex
Medium 5 x 5 ft. 1 sq. 1 hex
Large 10 x 10 ft. 4 sq. (2 x 2) 3 hexes
Huge 15 x 15 ft. 9 sq. (3 x 3) 7 hexes
Gargantuan 20+ x 20+ ft. 16+ sq. (4+ x 4+) 12+ hexes

Creature Size Examples

Example Tiny Creatures
Badger, Flameskull, Imp, Owl, Sprite
Example Small Creatures
Cockatrice, Dretch, Goblin, Mephits, Halfling player race
Example Medium Creatures
Azer, Bearded Devil, Harpy, Mummy, most player races
Example Large Creatures
Aboleth, Dire Wolf, Ogre, Polar Bear, Young Dragons
Example Huge Creatures
Adult Dragons, Elephant, Giants, Treant, Tyrannosaurus Rex
Example Gargantuan Creatures
Ancient Dragons, Kraken, Purple Worm, Roc, Tarrasque

For reference, here’s a size comparison of a Tyrannosaurus Rex with a human:

TRex vs Human
Source: P. Jaworski (PioM), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So, Adult Dragons, Giants, and other Huge-sized creatures are roughly the same in size. Gargantuan-sized creatures are even bigger than that.

Size & Height

D&D 5e doesn’t necessarily equate size with a creature’s height. There are some in-context references, but determining a creature’s height based on their size isn’t explicitly outlined.

There isn’t any direct correlation between size and height in D&D 5e. At least, not necessarily. For example, a Draft Horse counts as a Large creature in 5e. Yes, they’re long, but they’re usually only around six-and-a-half feet tall. Meanwhile, an Ogre, another Large creature, stands between nine and 10 feet tall.

As you can see, a creature’s height doesn’t exactly correlate with their size in 5e. But, we can infer some rough ranges in height based on some context clues.

For example, Goliaths can allegedly grow to eight feet tall, yet they still count as a Medium creature. Whereas the Ogre, as mentioned earlier, start at around nine feet. Now, the Half-Ogre also fall under the Large size category, but their height starts at around eight feet.

So, the range for a Medium-sized creature in D&D 5e seems to end somewhere around the eight foot mark.

Meanwhile, the shortest of the Giants in 5e, the Hill Giant, stands at around 16 feet tall. As you can see above, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, another Huge creature, stands roughly 15 feet (5 meters) tall. Granted, a T-Rex is much longer than a Hill Giant, but their heights are comparable. So, we can see the marker for Huge creatures starts around 15-16 feet tall.

That all said, everything falls to rough estimates based on the few clues the Monster Manual and other sourcebooks give players. So, this is all actually fairly subjective.

Heights by Creature Size

  • Tiny: shorter than 2 feet
  • Small: between 2 & 4 feet
  • Medium: between 4 & 8 feet
  • Large: between 8 & 15 feet
  • Huge: between 15 & 30 feet
  • Gargantuan: taller than 30 feet

Again, remember these are rough estimates, not explicit heights for the different D&D sizes.

Colossal Size in 5e

Colossal is a size category from past editions of Dungeons & Dragons but was not included in 5th Edition. Creatures considered a part of the Colossal size category were included in 5e’s Gargantuan size.

The Colossal size used to include creatures bigger than 64 feet in either height or length. But, this size category wasn’t included in 5e for whatever reason. Instead, it got rolled into the Gargantuan size category.

Essentially, these creatures still exist they just don’t belong to a separate size category.

D&D Sizes & Tile Counts

Photo Sketch of a Knight Standing Between a Giant's Feet
One of the main elements of size in D&D is to determine how many squares or hexes a creature takes up

Perhaps the most relevant aspect of a creature’s size is how many tiles (squares or hexes) they take up on a battlemap.

I already included the number of tiles a creature takes up based on their size in the table above. But, it basically looks like this:

  • Tiny: 1/4 square or hex
  • Small: 1 square or hex
  • Medium: 1 square or hex
  • Large: 4 squares (2 x 2) or 3 hexes
  • Huge: 9 squares (3 x 3) or 7 hexes
  • Gargantuan: 16+ squares (4+ x 4+) or 12+ hexes

Here’s a how each of these roughly translate on a battlemap:

D&D 5e Creature Sizes as They Correlate on Square and Hexagonal Grids

Remember, Gargantuan-sized creatures may be bigger than what’s depicted. This simply demonstrates the baseline amount of space Gargantuan creatures take up.

Blocking Enemy Movement

Size in D&D plays a part in manipulating how other creatures maneuver a battlefield. A creature may move through any other, friendly creature’s space, but they may only move through a hostile creature’s space if they’re two sizes smaller or larger.

Page 191 of the PHB states:

…you can move through a hostile creature’s space only if the creature is at least two sizes larger or smaller than you.

Source: DnD Beyond | Basic Rules – Chapter 9: Combat

Here’s a rundown of how each of D&D’s size categories work with this rule:

  • Tiny: Medium & larger
  • Small: Large & larger
  • Medium: Tiny, Huge, & Gargantuan
  • Large: Tiny, Small, & Gargantuan
  • Huge: Medium & smaller
  • Gargantuan: Large & smaller

Now, this only applies to hostile creatures. Creatures may move through a non-hostile creature’s space regardless of size.

That said, remember moving through any creature’s space counts as difficult terrain.

So, using your size to block enemy movement is an easy tactic player character or monsters may employ during a combat. Maybe an ogre blocks the only path out of a cave while their goblin lackeys shoot arrows out of holes in the walls. Or, perhaps the Paladin holds off a narrow hallway in a last-ditch effort for their party mates to escape.

The point is, the larger the creature, the easier it is to block enemy movement due to their sheer size.

Size & Squeezing in 5e

Photo Sketch of a Woman and Dragon Looking In Through a Window
Size determines the smallest space a creature may squeeze through in D&D 5e

Creatures in 5e may move through a space considered one size category smaller through squeezing. Squeezing in 5e comes with detriments to movement speed and attack rolls.

Straight from page 192 of the PHB:

A creature can squeeze through a space that is large enough for a creature one size smaller than it…While squeezing through a space, a creature must spend 1 extra foot for every foot it moves there, and it has disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage while it’s in the smaller space.

Source: DnD Beyond | Chapter 9: Combat

Basically, a creature can only squeeze through a space at most one size smaller than it, it takes 10 feet of movement for every five feet (one square / hex) moved while squeezing, and they have disadvantage on attacks and Dexterity saves.

  • Tiny: GM’s discretion
  • Small: Tiny space
  • Medium: Small space
  • Large: Medium space
  • Huge: Large space
  • Gargantuan: Huge space

Technically, these are all up to the Game Master’s discretion. For example, a Cat is a Tiny-sized creature but so is a Frog. Now, cats can squeeze through some pretty ridiculous spaces, but a frog probably can fit through even smaller.

Likewise, the Tarrasque is a monster of such insurmountable space and shares the Gargantuan size category with the Purple Worm. Now, these are fantastical creatures with no easy way of measuring their size. But, I’d think a big worm (granted, a really big worm) would have an easier time squeezing through a Huge space than off-brand Godzilla with its spine-armored shell.

But, maybe that’s just me. And, it’d be up to the GM at your table, too.

Size, Lifting, Dragging, & Pulling

Photo Sketch of a Person Pushing a Large Boulder
Size in D&D plays a part in figuring out how much a creature may carry, push, drag, & lift

Size also works in dictating how much weight a creature may carry, drag, lift, and push. Bigger creatures can handle heavier weights while smaller ones less so.

Page 176 of the PHB includes the rules for Lifting and Carrying and features a section for pushing, dragging, or lifting creatures and objects.

Carrying Capacity. Your carrying capacity is your Strength score multiplied by 15. This is the weight (in pounds) that you can carry, which is high enough that most characters don’t usually have to worry about it.
Push, Drag, or Lift. You can push, drag, or lift a weight in pounds up to twice your carrying capacity (or 30 times your Strength score). While pushing or dragging weight in excess of your carrying capacity, your speed drops to 5 feet.
Size and Strength. Larger creatures can bear more weight, whereas Tiny creatures can carry less. For each size category above Medium, double the creature’s carrying capacity and the amount it can push, drag, or lift. For a Tiny creature, halve these weights.

Source: DnD Beyond | Basic Rules – Chapter 7: Using Ability Scores

Now, what does this mean?

Well, it basically means Small and Medium creatures have a carrying capacity equal to their Strength score x 15 in pounds (lbs). For simplicity’s sake, here’s how that looks as a formula:

Carrying Capacity in 5e = Strength Score x 15

But, these creatures can push, drag, or lift something up to twice their carrying capacity. Effectively, a Small or Medium creature’s capacity to push, drag, and lift equals their Strength score x 30.

That all said, we get some size variations thrown into the mix.

Tiny creatures halve their weight total while Large and bigger creatures double it for each category above Medium.

Here’s a table breaking how to calculate each size categories carrying capacity and the weight it can push, drag, and lift.

D&D Sizes, Lifting, & Carrying
Size Carrying Capacity (in lbs) Push, Drag, Lift (in lbs)
Tiny STR x 7 1/2 STR X 15
Small STR x 15 STR x 30
Medium STR x 15 STR x 30
Large STR x 30 STR x 60
Huge STR x 60 STR x 120
Gargantuan STR x 120 STR x 240

So, the bigger the creature, the more it can lift at an exponential level.

Size & Grappling

Photo Sketch of a Giant Gorilla Hand Holding a Person Near a Cliff
Creatures may only attempt to grapple other creatures of no more than one size larger in 5e

D&D 5e puts size limits for grappling. A creature may only attempt to grapple a creature no bigger than one size category larger than itself.

Grappling in 5e basically means attempting to grab onto an other creature. This comes with some benefits like reducing the grappled creature’s movement speed to zero. And, it’s a generally good tactic for martial player characters to employ.

That said, it does come with a size restriction.

A creature can’t grapple other creatures if they’re two sizes bigger than them. So, a Medium creature can’t attempt to grapple a Huge creature, a Tiny can’t grapple a Medium, and so on.

Page 195 of the PHB explicitly states this:

The target of your grapple must be no more than one size larger than you….

Source: DnD Beyond | Basic Rules – Chapter 9: Combat

Easy as that.

For reference, here’s how each of D&D’s size categories stacks up in terms of which other sizes they may attempt to grapple:

  • Tiny may grapple Tiny & Small
  • Small may grapple Tiny, Small, & Medium
  • Medium may grapple Tiny, Small, Medium, & Large
  • Large may grapple Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, & Huge
  • Huge may grapple all Sizes
  • Gargantuan may grapple all Sizes

Now, for the Game Masters out there, I’d advise considering the actual size of a Gargantuan creature beyond its size category. Technically, yes, a Hill Giant may attempt to grapple a Tarrasque. But, there’s an actual size difference there worth thinking about.

Determining the Sizes of Objects in 5e

Photo Sketch of an Arcane Study
D&D’s size categories are a good place to start in determining the size of objects, not just creatures

Generally, you may determine the size of an object based on the number of tiles it takes up. Using D&D’s size categories as a base to determine object sizes is a good place to start.

Basically, Game Masters can follow the size categories to start figuring out how big any object is. A 10 foot by 8 foot table is a Large object, a wooden water barrel is Medium, so on and so forth.

You can also sort of get a feel by comparing with some of the creatures, particularly some of those included in the Constructs monster type, to get a feel for object sizes.

For example, the Animated Armor monster is a Medium-sized creature, a Flying Sword is Small, and a Rug of Smothering is Large. Each of these are merely animated objects with specified sizes.

Now, page 247 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide provides some guidance in the form of providing examples of determining object hit points based on their size. The focus of this section is on the hit points, but they provide examples of objects which fall under specified size categories.

  • Tiny (bottle, lock)
  • Small (chest, lute)
  • Medium (barrel, chandelier)
  • Large (Cart, 10-ft.-by-10-ft. window)

…Huge and Gargantuan objects, such as a colossal statue, towering column of stone, or massive boulder….

Source: DnD Beyond | Basic Rules – Chapter 15: Running the Game

This gives you some idea of how to size objects in D&D 5e.

At the end of the day, determining the size of an object in D&D is up to the GM. But, the size categories are an easy way to sort of figure it out.

How Race Sizes Affect Gameplay for Players

Photo Sketch of an Orc and Human Standing Atop Rocks
Character races in D&D fall into either the Small or Medium size categories & follow the mechanics normally while a few have special traits

All playable races in 5e are either in the Small or Medium size categories. Medium-sized player characters don’t suffer any drawbacks with some even having traits which go beyond the Medium category, but Small ones won’t be able to wield certain weapons in 5e.

Every player race in D&D 5e uses either the Small or Medium sizes. Now, a few options modify the normal rules for size concerning how much weight a character may push, drag, or lift. But, they never change the actual size of a character.

First off, a majority of the playable races in 5e are considered Medium-sized creatures. These creatures follow the usual rules concerning how many squares or hexes they take up, their carrying capacity, and how much weight they may push, drag, and lift.

Some playable races use the Small size category. This means they follow most of the other usual rules, but includes an extra caveat concerning certain weapons.

Certain weapons in 5e have the Heavy property which states on page 147 of the PHB:

Heavy. Creatures that are Small or Tiny have disadvantage on attack rolls with heavy weapons. A heavy weapon’s size and bulk make it too large for a Small or Tiny creature to use effectively.

Source: DnD Beyond | Basic Rules – Chapter 5: Equipment

So, Small player characters have disadvantage with attacks made using weapons with the Heavy property. Note, this applies to all Small creatures, not just player characters.

Many, but not all, Small character races also reduce movement speed to 25 feet. This is usually for the older options like Halfling as the newer Small races like Goblin instead have a movement speed of 30 feet.

Aside from that, players follow the usual rules for characters belonging to the Small size category.

Now, there are a few exceptions for player races, like the Goliath, which include the Powerful Build trait. This trait essentially means player characters of these races use the Large size rules for carrying capacity and pushing, dragging, and lifting. So, instead of the usual formulas of STR x 15 and STR x 30 for carrying capacity and weight they can push, drag, and lift, these player races would use STR x 30 and STR x 60 respectively instead.

Small-Size Playable Races & Lineages

  • Halfling (PHB)
  • Gnome (PHB)
  • Fairy (WBtW)
  • Harengon (WBtW)
  • Owlin (SACoC)
  • Goblin (VGtM, GGtR)
  • Kobold (VGtM)
  • Grung (OGA)
  • Verdan* (AcInc)
  • Dhampir (VRGtR)
  • Hexblood (VRGtR)
  • Reborn (VRGtR)

Medium-Size Playable Races & Lineage

  • Dwarf (PHB)
  • Elf (PHB)
  • Human (PHB)
  • Dragonborn (PHB)
  • Half-Elf (PHB)
  • Half-Orc (PHB)
  • Tiefling (PHB, SCAG)
  • Aarakocra (EE)
  • Genasi (EE)
  • Goliath (EE, VGtM)
  • Aasimar (VGtM)
  • Firbolg (VGtM)
  • Kenku (VGtM)
  • Lizardfolk (VGtM)
  • Tabaxi (VGtM)
  • Triton (VGtM)
  • Bugbear (VGtM)
  • Hobgoblin (VGtM)
  • Orc (VGtM, EGtW, E:RftLW)
  • Yuan-ti (VGtM)
  • Gith (MToF)
  • Centaur (GGtR)
  • Loxodon (GGtR)
  • Minotaur (GGtR)
  • Simic Hybrid (GGtR)
  • Vedalken (GGtR)
  • Changeling (E:RftLW)
  • Kalashtar (E:RftLW)
  • Shifter (E:RftLW)
  • Warforged (E:RftLW)
  • Leonin (MOoT)
  • Satyr (MOoT)
  • Fairy (WBtW)
  • Harengon (WBtW)
  • Owlin (SACoC)
  • Tortle (TTP)
  • Verdan* (AcInc)
  • Locathah (LR)
  • Dhampir (VRGtR)
  • Hexblood (VRGtR)
  • Reborn (VRGtR)

Character Races with Powerful Build

  • Firbolg (VGtM)
  • Goliath (EE, VGtM)
  • Bugbear (VGtM)
  • Orc (VGtM, EGtW, E:RftLW)
  • Loxodon (GGtR)

*Verdan are only temporarily Small-sized creatures for their early levels

Check out my list of D&D 5e abbreviations for reference if you don’t recognize any of the sourcebooks.

Using Size to the Game Master’s Advantage

Photo Sketch of a Woman Wielding a Bow Fighting a Tyrannosaurus Rex
Game Masters have size, both large & small, as a tool to craft unique encounters for their players

As a Game Master, using a creature’s size to your advantage is a great way for adding a unique challenge to your combat encounters. It also works well in adding tension to your encounters as the players understand the scale of any given creature.

Obviously, the biggest advantage GMs have is their access to the variety of monsters and creature types in 5e. This lets them use any number of creatures in a myriad of sizes to fit any given adventure or encounter. Player characters need to utilize magic items to alter their sizes, but the GM can use any monster they like.

When it comes to using a creature’s size against your players, GMs have the ability to fill as much or as little space as they like. The larger creatures take up more space which may mean cutting off avenues of escape or movement for the player characters. On the other hand, a GM may set a swarm of Tiny creatures on the player characters as they squeeze through a small space.

Essentially, GMs may use size to their advantage to a much greater degree than the player characters.

For example, a Giant may block the only exit from a cavern while it collapses. The players then need to figure out how to navigate around the towering creature while avoiding falling debris. Or, a gang of sprites accosts the party as they squeeze their way through the narrow passages of the sewer system beneath a city.

Aside from filling or fitting within any given space, larger creatures also have an easier time grabbing onto smaller one.

Also, and as mentioned earlier, grappling has a size limit. Player characters are fairly limited in terms of the size a creatures they may attempt to grapple without the aid of magic. But, GMs can use any number of sized creatures which means the big ones basically have free reign on grabbing the puny player characters and hucking them at a wall.

It’s not always about blocking movement and cutting off avenues of escape. Using size in D&D as a Game Master means taking advantage of the natural advantages of the creatures you use.

D&D 5e Sizes FAQ

Photo Sketch of a Giant Tortoise with a City on Its Back

Do Small Creatures Get +1 AC?

No. Small creatures do not get a +1 bonus to their Armor Class in D&D 5e.

There are no rules stating Small creatures gain a +1 to AC. Plain and simple.

Can a Tiny Creature Ride a Tiny Creature?

Technically, no. A Tiny creature can not right a different Tiny creature in D&D 5e.

5e’s Mounted Combat rules specify "A willing creature that is at least one size larger than you…can serve as a mount." Bolded for emphasis. So, one Tiny-sized creature can not ride another Tiny-sized creature as a mount as they are both of the same size category.

How Big is a Dragon?

Dragons in 5e vary in size depending on their age, ranging from Medium to Gargantuan.

The youngest dragons, regardless of color, start out as Medium-sized creatures. On the other end of the age spectrum, Ancient Dragons are Gargantuan.

  • Dragon Wyrmling: Medium
  • Young Dragon: Large
  • Adult Dragon: Huge
  • Ancient Dragon: Gargantuan

 

Summary of D&D 5e Sizes

That covers what you need to know about D&D’s size mechanics.

Size basically outlines six categories for quick reference and gameplay mechanics. It affects many of D&D 5e’s mechanics from carrying capacity to square or hex space to what creatures you may attempt to grapple. Using size is a great tool for Game Masters to utilize to make their combats more interesting and for players to keep in mind when engaging with the world.

How do you use size in D&D? Leave a comment below to help a fellow GM out!

Make sure to follow Role Player’s Respite for more rules breakdowns, inspiration for your game, and help for improving your game!

4 thoughts on “Your Guide to Sizes in D&D 5e”

  1. D&D 3e was pretty good at descriptions for height and weight when it came to human-like creatures. You can often still find these descriptions online, especially with Pathfinder since they still use the 3e mechanics.

    1. Oh, that’s good to know. I started with 5e and…haven’t really had the time to explore other RPGs, even older editions, despite wanting to.

      Thanks for this, though!

  2. What I want is an actual physical description of the monsters. A Bugbear is twice the height of a Dwarf but there is nothing in the MM that indicates this. They’re both just “medium” monsters. If you’re a brand new DM how do you describe the monsters to your players if you have no clue yourself??

    1. Yeah, same. But, I do suppose that could be considered asking a lot for the writers to include that for every monster. Also, it does give Game Masters some freedom to establish how tall these creatures are in their settings within the very loose guides of the Size categories.

      At least with the playable races, we get an idea as they sometimes come with a height & weight chart.

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