I am a new D&D player and my DM wants to know if bugbears are playable in Adventurers League. We only have the core rule books.

Before this point my DM hadn't even heard of a bugbear PC. The only information we could gather was from D&D Beyond. We want to make sure it is legit and is legal for Adventurers League.

  • \$\begingroup\$ When I say new I mean this is my first character and I am simply going off of the D&D Beyond websites description of the bugbear and the race bonuses that come with it \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 22:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Possible dupe of rpg.stackexchange.com/a/77248/43719, which specifically answers the AL side of things up through Mordenkainen's (only missing Eberron, I believe). Okay, not dupe, but answered there. \$\endgroup\$
    – cpcodes
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 23:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @cpcodes: It's still worth asking this question separately, because that question/answer fails to address some of the special AL restrictions around certain races (especially the monstrous ones). \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 23:29
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If you only have the core books how are you accessing the bugbear race on dndbeyond? Can you edit the link you are using into your question? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 2:39
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @cpcodes Related but not a dupe. This particular question seems to have arisen due to not having all supplements. (A common situation). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 3:25

2 Answers 2


Yes, bugbear is a legal AL race

According to the D&D Adventurers League Players Guide (v 7.0) page 2:

All of the races and classes presented in the Player’s Handbook plus one other resource from those listed below are available to build your character (PHB+1).


  • Volo’s Guide to Monsters (VGM)

The only restrictions are:

Races that grant flight at 1st level, and options presented in other resources—such as the Death Domain found in the Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG), or content from the various Unearthed Arcana articles—aren’t allowed for play unless you possess specific campaign documentation that indicates otherwise.

Since bugbear is a race presented in Volo's Guide to Monsters and one that does not grant flight, it is allowed per AL rules.

Bugbear was even mentioned officially as an allowed race in Volo's Guide to Monsters: An Official Reference for D&D Adventurers League. They retired the document when they dropped the restriction on which race could join which faction (discussed in the faction section below). As a result the document is no longer available.

Note that you are required to have access to a copy of Volo's Guide to Monsters (physically or digitally) in order to use this race. You can find the race here on dndbeyond. If you desired, you can purchase just the race from dndbeyond instead of the whole book.

Quick note about factions

I know you didn't ask, but just in case there is any confusion, in July 2018 they removed a rule in which certain monstrous races were required to join certain factions. Now, they can join any faction they want per the new “any race; any faction” mentality.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that you can buy races piecemeal on D&D Beyond for just $2. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 3:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Lol, that's new. I thought they were classified as "optional" or "variant" or something, which are only allowed if explicitly said so. Learnt something today. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 4:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint yeah I can't find anything at all to suggest that they are treated differently from any other race (and several things that suggest that they are treated exactly the same). So yeah, unless I'm missing something huge here they are definitely allowed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 4:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose Yeah it seems they are - they are even mentioned in the AL link you put in the answer. From the VGtM text saying "these races are not exactly balanced, proceed at your own risk" I would think they are not AL legal, at least as much as UA isn't haha. Living and learning though. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 4:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth mentioning the PHB+1 rule; a Bugbear PC cannot use class or spell options out of anything but the PHB, because VGM is the character's +1 resource. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 12:53

Yes, but now as they are described in MotM

The May 2022 release of Monsters of the Multiverse permits that book to be used for character creation. Not only does it permit it, but it requires you use the PC rules for bugbears found therein, rather than the ones presented in Volo's, which have been obviated. This change not only affects newly created characters moving forward, but the expectation is that you will retroactively change characters created under the rules in Volo's, as explained in a WoTC update:

If you possess a character with one of the race options presented in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, you must update your character to the new entry as presented in that product. This has always been the policy of D&D rules usable with D&D Adventurers League campaigns.

Note that as of 2021, there is no "+1" rule in AL Play (and thanks to @Groody the Hobgoblin for noting this). Rather, there are a suite of 'universal' source books permitted in any campaign, and others that are allowed in specific campaigns only. As cited above, Bugbears are in Volo's, which is a universal sourcebook, but the changes to bugbears found in MotM are required when using bugbears.


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