I'm struggling to find a motivation for a Lizardfolk character to join an adventuring party or to go out and discover the world.

Reading the description from Volo's Guide to Monsters, I'm getting that they mostly stay in one place with their tribe and are focused on survival.

Lizardfolk focus on survival above all, without sentiment.

They are also not driven by emotion, so desire, curiosity or revenge are also off the table.

Lacking any internal emotional reactions, Lizardfolk behave in a distant manner. They don’t mourn fallen comrades or rage against their enemies. They simply observe and react as a situation warrants.

Lizardfolk lack meaningful emotional ties to the past. They assess situations based on their current and future utility and importance.

Volo's Guide states:

Some Lizardfolk make an effort to understand and, in their own manner, befriend people of other races,

However, why would you adventure with others if you can survive on your own?

Is there something I'm not getting or is it really hard to make a Lizardfolk a good party member without ignoring all the facts about the race?

TLDR: What would motivate a Lizardfolk to join an adventuring party and to stay with them?

Edit/Update for more clarification: I'm looking for examples from the rulesbooks or adventures (preferably citations) of Lizardfolk who joined adventuring parties and about their motives.

I myself couldn't find anything more with the material I have and was curious why any Lizardfolk would abandon their tirbe/home to expore the world with other races.

  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ I think "lizardfork" is probably one of the funniest typos I've seen \$\endgroup\$
    – NeutralTax
    Jan 8, 2020 at 15:47
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Read the description of lizardfolk from different campaign settings, for instance the forgotten realms, you are looking at the description of the average lizardfolk not ALL of them. many are curious or recognize the negative survival implications of ignorance. the Volo description is a general overview not an in depth examination of every lizardfolk. \$\endgroup\$
    – John
    Jan 8, 2020 at 16:37
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil It’s a somewhat subjective question, but it is both answerable and on-topic. Subjective questions aren’t forbidden on the site. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cubic
    Jan 8, 2020 at 16:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't feel this is any more an opinion that other questions on here. The OP is asking in 5e based off the information we have, why would the Lizard make a decision \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2020 at 17:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I edited the question to clarify what I was looking for. I'm sorry for the confusion. If it is still unclear, invalidates the answers already given or if the question seems opinion based, I will delete the question or leave it on hold. \$\endgroup\$
    – Urknecht
    Jan 9, 2020 at 9:47

4 Answers 4


1. Sometimes, adventure is necessary for survival.

It depends on the adventure, of course, but a lot of adventures are to prevent some calamity—something that will get the lizardfolk killed, too. If they care about survival, they care about that.

And even more banal adventures—seeking loot and glory—can become matters of survival if, for example, the lizardfolk’s native environment is suffering from some affliction, and can no longer support the population and they need outside resources. A lizardfolk who can’t find anything to eat in the swamps might be forced to leave them, and having left them, might find money the most efficacious route to survival—and maybe no one’s hiring lizardfolk, so they’re forced into adventuring as the only route to money available.

We can zoom in even more—perhaps this lizardfolk was captured and is now being forced to adventure, under magical threats to enforce compliance. Maybe this is a criminal sentence, maybe this is just a wizard playing games, but whatever it is, their survival now hinges on adventuring—so they’ll have to adventure.

This all works even for a typical lizardfolk concerned only with survival—but a lizardfolk adventurer might not be your typical lizardfolk...

2. Volo’s Guide to Monsters describes the typical; adventurers are exceptional.

Just broadly speaking, the vast majority of people don’t become adventurers. It’s an exceptionally dangerous vocation, and while the rewards can be immense, they only exist if you survive the adventure—and that all-but-requires that you be “special” in some fashion, because most people won’t.

This often becomes doubly-true when discussing player characters, because they are the protagonists and focus of the story—and stories focus on things that are interesting and unusual.

So while most lizardfolk care only about personal survival, lizardfolk adventurers can often be expected to, as a population, be very different from the overall population. And player-character lizardfolk are all-but-guaranteed to be.


So, first of all – in pure game terms, of course Lizardfolk can be an adventurer. They have PC race stats after all! The real question then becomes why would a Lizardfolk be an adventurer?

The key points in here are within the very sections you quoted:

Lizardfolk focus on survival above all

A Lizardfolk whose survival is threatened will become an adventurer if they determine that adventuring is the best way to remove that threat.

Perhaps they are cursed, and they decide to go explore old ruins based on rumors that a countercurse may be found there. They decide that going about this alone isn’t likely to succeed so they join an adventuring party, they go along with that party’s shenanigans as long as they ultimately get them closer to their goal...

Or perhaps there are even greater stakes. They hear of a Lich threatening to conquer neighbouring lands, and deciding they can’t tolerate such a dangerous existence nearby their tribal home anymore they set out to gather the most capable warriors and sorcerers they can find to deal with the threat.

Or perhaps the stakes are lower – perhaps their home tribe was eliminated, the outskirts are too dangerous to live on by yourself, but human society is too discriminatory for them to settle down – but they are a capable warrior, so they become a sword for hire as the surest option to earn their living as well as perhaps being exposed to comrades who don’t mind one more weirdo tagging along.

Certainly you’re right that the weirdness of Lizardfolk makes them hard to play “by the book”, but at the same time as you can see there are plenty of possible adventuring hooks for them as well.

While their outlook is alien, lizardfolk are intelligent and adaptable so though it may be a bit of an effort for them, they are capable with interacting with more conventional races for mutual benefit. In some ways, they could even be considered less hard to play as adventurers than other archetypes, because as long as they have a goal that requires adventuring they won’t be tempted away from adventure, and if they aren’t a social klutz (which again, despite lacking emotions they aren’t by default) they may even become the centerpiece holding the party together with their rationality-fueled unwavering determination.


Ill go a different route with it:

Lizards are driven by food

Forgotten Realms Wiki:

They largely valued things based on whether or not it was good to eat. If it was, it quickly got their attention; if not, it was ignored. Lizardfolk could often become distracted at the appearance of food, even if they were in combat. They were easier to parley with after a meal, and a hungry lizardfolk was completely obstreperous.

This could be a driving force for your PC. Perhaps your lizard wants to experience all the different meats the world has to offer, and that's a trait or quirk of your character. Where they are from maybe goats and cows aren't readily roaming their homelands, but a human gave them some raw beef that sparked curiosity as to what other foods could exist out there. The naivety of this character would be fun to roleplay, as you could be unknowingly trying all sorts of disgusting things as well as the good ones. Maybe even developing a taste for something like goblin meat.

It is not directly stated in Volo's Guide, but page 112 does list some Quirks that allude to this behavior:

You hate waste and see no reason not to scavenge fallen enemies. Fingers are tasty and portable!

You think there are only two species of humanoid: lizardfolk and meat.

You enjoy eating your food while it's still wriggling

Under Cold and Calculating:

To a lizardfolk, a comrade who dies becomes a potential source of food.

Also keep in mind this thought:

They are too weak without you, but useful in other ways

In Volo's Guide under Hapless Soft Ones:

If other creatures prove useful to lizardfolk, those creatures can trigger a protective response made all the stronger by their apparent weakness

If this were the case, maybe your lizard friend befriended the group, but thinks they are too weak to handle themselves, therefore you must go with them on their adventures lest they die and you lose the usefulness of your companions.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that this description from the Wiki isn’t really consistent with the 5e description of Lizardfolk, which is what this question is about. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cubic
    Jan 8, 2020 at 16:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Added some quirks and another answer directly from Volo's guide as well. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2020 at 17:01

Here are two ways that may relate a bit:

One way to deal with monsters turned to PCs is to have them raised by loving parents that reside in the PC's player's handbook. Once raised by those parents it is very easy to explain an emotional and physical background. This would reside in a slightly upped Charisma score above the average Lizardfolk, and of course, a bit more wisdom having an emotional upbringing. Druids have been known, in their travels, to take Lizardfolk in when the young are lost or broken up from the tribe.

Another way to explain it is that the Lizardfolk is just off, an odd egg, that just wasn't formed mentally and physically correct. He views the world differently than the others and eventually was excommunicated from the tribe for being over-emotional for Lizardfolk. Again, you can up a score or two to correlate this kind of background.

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