D&D 5e: Aarakocra Barbarian Guide

A male white arrakocra barbarian carrying a massive axe in one hand.

D&D 5e: Aarakocra Barbarian Guide

The bardbarian, the bugbearian, and now the birdbarian: we live in a golden age of barbarian puns.

Jokes aside, even though the barbarian isn’t the best class for an Aarakocra, an innate flight ability is powerful enough to make it a solid combination anyway. It’s also inherently fun to let out a loud bird screech as you fly up to someone and hack them to death with a greataxe, or a halberd if you’re feeling fancy. 

There isn’t an inherent synergy here, but being a barbarian gives you some fun things, and being an aarakocra gives you some other fun things, so in the end, you have more fun things.

A male arrakocra barbarian holding a two handed sword.

How to Make an Aarakocra Barbarian

Unless you’re doing an extremely bizarre build, strength should be your highest ability score above all else. Prioritize constitution and dexterity next; if you use medium armor, there’s no need to increase it past a 14, but if you’re using unarmored defense, bringing it higher always helps. Finally, make sure your wisdom isn’t terrible, since a +1 to wisdom saves is at least better than a -1.

If you’re not opposed to these two feats out of spite, grab polearm master as soon as you can, and then great weapon master; this will skyrocket your damage. It would be great if there were more valid feat options for barbarians, but at least in current 5e, these two feats are superior to all the others out there.

Your final decision is subclass; Storm Herald is almost tempting since it meshes well with an Aarakocra, but the mechanics are unfortunately not great; Zealot is probably much better since it gives free damage and eventually makes you mostly unkillable.

How to Play an Aarakocra Barbarian

Pick up a heavy polearm like a glaive or halberd, then kill people with it. That’s the core thing most barbarians tend to do. Maybe keep some javelins on hand when you absolutely must do ranged combat, but you can fly, so that’s not usually going to be necessary.

Your biggest advantage from being able to fly is that you can fly above an enemy and hit them with your weapon’s 10-foot reach, and if they have a reach of 5 feet and no ranged option, they’re screwed. Try to move a little higher up after you finish attacking just in case the enemy tries jumping. This pairs especially well with reckless attack; advantage on attack rolls against you isn’t a big deal if the melee enemy with a longsword can’t even attack you in the first place.

Remember that you’re a barbarian and that it’s better for enemies to attack you than your squishy allies. If enemies are forced to either attack you or attack nobody, then cheese them with flight. If enemies will attack your allies if you don’t intervene, then fly up to them and stay within their reach.

You have one free casting of Gust of Wind per day starting at level 3: it’s not a horrible spell, but not a great one either, and your save DC is low, so only use it in situations where it is absolutely the right spell for the job. It might be great for use in a cramped hallway.

Zealot makes resurrection spells completely free when they’re used solely on you, so go die as much as you like.

How to Roleplay as an Aarakocra Barbarian

You are a barbarian and probably aren’t the brightest individual in the room; that said, you can still have a personality and some influence on out-of-combat activities, and also, your subclass means you’re likely to have a religious side.

Once you get your Zealot subclass, your attitude toward death is going to be much milder. You can be brought back from the dead, and being on good terms with your deity means you’ll have a good place in the afterlife anyway.

Aside from that, it might just be fun to roleplay the typical angry barbarian.

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