This question is inspired by What different skin colour can a tiefling officially have?

From the 5e Tiefling player race description, Infernal Bloodline section (PHB, p. 42):

Their skin tones cover the full range of human coloration, but also include various shades of red.

Emphasis mine.

It occurred to me, I don't think we have the full range of human skin colours described anywhere. D&D Beyond says:

humans of the Silver Marches have every possible variation of coloration and features.

But is it every possible variation from real life? If so, does it include blue, for example? Or is it every possible from existing lore?

Fifth edition rules and lore would be preferred, but given that data on this topic seems scarce, older editions or lore not tied to specific edition would be OK, too.

If rules or lore are world-specific, please specify what world is it. I'm mostly interested in most popular worlds, like Forgotten Realms, to keep answers useful for most "regular players".

  • \$\begingroup\$ Your blue example is a skin condition caused by excessive exposure to silver, not a naturally occurring skin tone, so I'm not really sure it's relevant to the question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 17:21

4 Answers 4


Most of the same skin tones of real life modern humans appear in major D&D settings.

D&D 5e Player's Handbook p.29 says:

Human skin shades range from nearly black to very pale ...

Pages 30-31 describes nine ethnic groups of the Forgotten Realms, whose skin tones are variously described as dusky brown, tawny, fair, amber, yellowish-bronze, and dark mahogany.

The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, p.110-112, adds descriptors of tan, dark, olive, pale, tanned, bronze, and golden. This seems to cover most of the possible values of real-world modern humans.

The peoples of the World of Greyhawk are described in the D&D 3e Living Greyhawk Gazetteer as variously having golden, bronze, tan to olive, rich red-brown or dark brown, and fair. The Suel in particular have a higher than average rate of albino people.

I faintly recall Eberron's creator suggesting that humans born in unusual circumstances, such as during a planar confluence, might be born with rare skin tones, such as green or blue. However, I don't believe this was a canon article, and the official Eberron books tend to gloss over details of human skin tone.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good catch on Suel albinism confirming that the condition does exist in D&D. Also, pretty sure you are correct that Eberron never officially discussed skin tone, but while I’m usually leery of word-of-god non-canon pronouncements for that setting (since I often find them less than helpful), that particular idea does seem very fitting with how the setting works. I’ll look around to see if I can find an official mention of it. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 12:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ (For the record, I could not; Magic of Eberron doesn’t mention skin tone at all, which was by far my top choice for that. It’s also not mentioned in Eberron Campaign Setting when manifest zones are discussed, nor are skin tones generally mentioned with races or regions.) \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 13:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan My guess is one of Keith Baker's FAQ entries at his site, or a podcast. After some searching I'm unable to find it, although my suspicion is that it's a non-canon author's opinion rather than something in a sourcebook. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 14:10

The base rule of Dungeons & Dragons—any edition, except maybe 4th?—is that unless otherwise specified, things work like they do in real life. This is backed up explicitly, in this case, by the 5th-edition Player’s Handbook, which describes skin tones from pale to nearly black. Albinism isn’t mentioned explicitly, but there’s little reason to think it wouldn’t occur, too.

For more details, the 3.5-revised-edition Player’s Guide to Faerûn certainly describes the usual skin tones of each of the human ethnicities found in Faerûn, though personally I kind of find the list off-putting myself. Anyway, this is, of course, not expected to be an exhaustive list—Faerûn is just one continent on Toril, Toril is just one planet in Realmspace, and Realmspace is just one crystal sphere in the Material Plane, and the Material Plane is just one plane in the Multiverse. We know for a fact that other continents, planets, spheres, and planes exist and are populated, with wildly different cultures from those found in Faerûn, though we have less details on skin tone for most of them.

Calishite: [...] Calishites have dusky brown skin

Chondathans: [...] They are slender, tawny folk

Damarans: [...] with skin hues ranging from tawny to fair

Illuskans: [...] Illuskans are tall, fair-skinnned folk

Mulan: [...] Mulan are generally tall, slim, and sallow-skinned

Rashemin: [...] they have dusky skin

Tethyrians: [...] with dusky skin that grows fairer the farther north they dwell

Other Human Ethnicities: [no skin tones mentioned, but there is an explicit note here listing other ethnicities]


In the PHB entry for Human as a racial choice, including sub-races, the descriptions cover the entire range of human skin tones you'd see on Earth, from very pale (like a natural blonde or redhead) to nearly black, including various shades of brown. These cover sub-races for Forgotten Realms and Sword Coast, primarily, as that's the default setting for 5e.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Some responses in the questions the OP links to reminded me that Albino people have a skin tone you'd see on Earth (which might make for a better/more extreme example of very pale than blonde or redhead). \$\endgroup\$
    – Isaac
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 12:29
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't recall albinism being mentioned in the PHB, but albinos can appear in any racial group of Earth humans (and in nearly every other animal species, as well as plants). You can have albino Nordic blondes (or Illuskan), albino Middle Eastern (or Roshemi), or albino Ethiopians (don't recall the Forgotten Realms sub-race that matches that). \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 12:33

I believe the answer to this is "every possible variation from real life".
Xanathar's Guide to Everything (pages 175 - 192) lists several real cultures as suggestions for coming up with human names, and I've never seen someone try to play a blue human or something along those lines.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is a rules/lore question; you should cite a resource more specific than Xanathar's list for naming sources. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 12:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ It would improve your answer if you cite/quote the relevant tables; Welcome, take the tour and happy gaming. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 12:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon There's only one book that could be referred to by "Xanathar's Guide", do you mean like chapter/page? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu It's not required to C&P from a source; those with the source can refer to it. Rednidedni, a page number or a table title would be a helpful citation. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 21:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast yes citation (for instance indirectly via page numbers) or (/) quote would both be valid, that is correct. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 21:49

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