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DnD sizes explained

DnD sizes can affect all areas of your Dungeons and Dragons campaign, from combat to carrying capacity – here’s all 5e size rules explained.

DnD sizes 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of a human meeting a gold dragon

D&D size is, quite literally, how much space a creature takes up on a map. Each monster and character falls under a particular size category that affects how they interact with the official Dungeons and Dragons rules. Here you’ll find a quick DnD 5e size chart to give you an overview of how this works, and we’ve shared a deep dive on how DnD sizes affects your adventures.

We’ve pored over the core Dungeons and Dragons rulebooks, compiling every ounce of info on size you might want to know – that’s sure to save you some reading time.After schooling you on how size impacts combat, spellcasting, and carrying capacity, we’ll explore how to change your character’s size. Spoilers: it mainly involves DnD classes, DnD races, and DnD spells.

Here’s everything you need to know about D&D sizes:

DnD sizes 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of a red dragon fighting adventurers

DnD 5e size chart

There are six DnD sizes in fifth edition. Here’s a handy DnD size chart that explains how much space each takes up:

Size Space (in feet) Space (in map squares) Example creatures
Tiny 2.5 x 2.5 1/4 Faerie Dragon, Imp
Small 5 x 5 1 Gnome, Goblin, Halfling
Medium 5 x 5 1 Human, Elf, Mind Flayer
Large 10 x 10 4 Aboleth, Ogre
Huge 15 x 15 9 Tyrannosaurus Rex, Adult Dragon
Gargantuan 20 x 20 16 Ancient Dragon, Purple Worm

We know what all these words mean in concept, but how do they translate to D&D mechanics? The size of a creature has multiple effects in-game: 

DnD size rules

The complete DnD size rules are actually spread across multiple DnD books, with various chapters touching upon the subject. We’ve gathered the most important rules here:

Taking up space

As you saw in the size chart above, size dictates how much space you take up on a map. The Player’s Handbook defines space as “the area in feet it effectively controls in combat”. Both Small and Medium creatures control a five by five feet area, but this doesn’t mean DnD Humans, Elves, and Goblins are all five-foot cubes; that’s just the space they can comfortably act in without needing to move.


You can always move through a friendly creature’s space, but this isn’t always possible if the square holds a hostile occupant. Size can make a big difference here.

If you are at least two sizes larger or smaller than an enemy, you can move through their space. A DnD Halfling can move through spaces inhabited by creatures just one size larger than them. However, in all cases that space is difficult terrain, so you’ll eat up more speed by pushing past them.

You can’t end your turn in another creature’s space, whether they like you or not. It’s also worth remembering that you can still trigger DnD opportunity attacks by moving through a hostile creature’s space.

DnD sizes 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of a green dragon fighting adventurers

Surrounding creatures

A creature’s size sets a limit on how many foes can surround it in combat. For example, a Medium DnD Fighter will take up a single five-by-five square on your battlemap. Assuming all attackers are the same (Medium) size, eight of them can surround the Fighter, each taking up their own five-by-five square.

The bigger the creature, the more squares surround it, and thus more enemies can get into melee range. At the same time, fewer larger creatures can surround a smaller target.


All creatures can squeeze through gaps one size smaller than themselves. This means a Large creature can fit through a space big enough for a Medium creature, a Medium creature a Small one, and so on.

This has a bit of a strange effect on Medium creatures, who occupy the same five-by-five space as a Small creature. Medium creatures, in the rules as written, can squeeze through a space the same size as they currently occupy. This seems to cancel out the squeeze entirely.

A DM may tweak this using common sense and more details (height and weight for example, which don’t have a clear direct relation to size in the rules), but it’s something to be aware of.

DnD sizes 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of a dwarf forging with a hammer

Carrying capacity

Carrying capacity largely relies on a character’s Strength score, but size factors in too. The regular rules for carrying capacity say that you can carry weight (lbs) equal to your Strength score, multiplied by 15. Similarly, you can easily push, drag, or lift something that weighs up to 30 times your Strength score.

According to the Player’s Handbook, “for each size category above Medium, double the creature’s carrying capacity and the amount it can push, drag, or lift”. It also says to “halve these weights” for Tiny creatures. Since Small creatures aren’t mentioned, and they take up the same amount of space as a Medium creature, they presumably follow the regular rules for carrying capacity.


Characters can’t be grappled by a monster that is two or more sizes smaller than them. Similarly, a character can’t use DnD grapple on a creature that’s more than one size bigger. A Small Halfling character can only grapple Medium foes, not Large ones.

Weapons and armor

DnD weapons have many characteristics of their own, one of which is being ‘heavy’. Heavy weapons are naturally pretty bulky, and this means Small or Tiny creatures will struggle to use them. Any creature of this size will have disadvantage on all their attack rolls when trying to use a heavy weapon.

The rules for DnD armor are a bit looser; with the right proficiencies and DnD stats, smaller characters can wear any armor they like. A DM may choose to impose additional rules for equipment sizes, however. The Player’s Handbook calls these “common sense” – a Gnome would be too small to fit in the armor of a tall DnD Tiefling, for example.

DnD sizes 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of a Halfling and Mastiff armoured for battle


If you want to charge into battle on a mount, you better make sure it’s the right size first. Chapter nine of the Player’s Handbook says you can only mount “a willing creature that is at least one size larger than you”.

What if you want to ride an enormous (and unwilling) Purple Worm? The Dungeon Master’s Guide has some optional rules that can make this happen.

You could make a grapple check to try and grab hold of your ride, but the difference in size between you and your target could make this impossible. Instead, the DM’s guide suggests treating a large opponent as terrain for the purposes of the climb.

Make an Athletics or Acrobatics check, and if you can beat the larger creature’s Acrobatics roll, you can move into your target’s space. After that, you move with your target and have advantage on attack rolls against it. The larger creature’s body is considered difficult terrain, and you might have to make further Athletics or Acrobatics checks as your mount tries to throw you off.

DnD sizes 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of adventurers battling monsters


Traditionally, Initiative is influenced by your Dexterity modifier, not your size. But there is an optional version of the Initiative rules that shakes things up. In chapter nine of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, you’ll find ‘Speed Factor’ Initiative. This involves rolling Initiative for every round, and you’ll add modifiers to an Initiative roll based on your, as well as the actions you take.

Here’s how size affects Initiative in these alternative rules:

Size Initiative Modifier
Tiny +5
Small +2
Medium +0
Large -2
Huge -5
Gargantuan -8


The Player’s Handbook says you can use other creatures as cover, but it doesn’t go into too much detail about how this actually works. You’ll have to rely on DM discretion to decide whether a Small creature can gain half, three-quarters, or total cover from a Medium one, and so on.


Your size doesn’t affect your ability to use magic, but there are some spells that refer to the D&D size rules. For example, you can’t appear as a creature of a different size if you’re affected by Disguise Self or Alter Self. Additionally, Dimension Door only lets you teleport a friend along with you as long as they’re the same size or smaller. 

DnD sizes 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of the Wizard Tasha

How to change DnD sizes

There are a few ways to shift size in Dungeons and Dragons:

  • Enlarge/Reduce – A spell that increases or decreases your size by one category. If you play a Duergar, you can cast this spell without material components.
  • Path of the Giant Barbarian 5e – Their subclass features can make them Large or even Huge.
  • Rune Knight 5e – The ‘Giant’s Might’ feature can upgrade your size to Large.
  • DnD Changeling – Their ‘Shapechanger’ feature allows them to choose between Medium and Small sizes.

Some races also naturally appear larger or smaller without the need to actually change size. For example, the DnD Goliath’s ‘Little Giant’ feature counts them as one size larger when calculating carrying capacity and the weight they can push, drag, or lift. This is very identical to the ‘Powerful Build’ feature given to Bugbears, Firbolgs, Orcs, and Loxodons. Centaurs also have a similar feature in the form of ‘Equine Build’, and the Giff version is ‘Hippo Build’.

Looking for more advice on how to play Dungeons and Dragons? Here’s a step-by-step DnD character creator, as well as how to organize your DnD character sheet.