D&D 5e: Barbarian Class Guide
So you want to hit the bad guys, huh? You want to deal a lot of damage and not go down? If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the correct place. Let me introduce you to the Barbarian class. This is by far, the easiest class to play in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. All you have to do is hit things and make all the bad guys go away.
Below is the breakdown of all the races, ability scores, skills, and subclasses suitable for the Barbarian. We’ll take a look at Feats, Multiclass options, weapons, and Armor (pft). If you don’t know what these are, it’s okay. We’re talking about them later. With that in mind, let’s get started.
STR This should be the second highest.
DEX Last stat to increase.
CON This should be your highest. The higher the CON, the more hit points.
Some of our races will have a mixture of colored coded. All this means is that they’re both a good option in some cases and a bad option in some other cases.
Aarakocra – This race gives you a DEX increase of 2 and Wisdom score increases by 1. You have a flying speed of 50 feet.
You get a plus 2 to Charisma. You get Darkvision and have resistance to necrotic damage and radiant damage. As an action, you can also regain a number of hit points equal to your level. You can cast the light cantrip and use your Charisma for it. You’re able to speak, write, and read Celestial.
–Protector Nothing good for Barbarians.
–Scourge: Con score increases by 1. At 3rd level, you can transform for 1 minute and cause creatures around you to become frightened. During this time, you can deal extra necrotic damage equal to your level.
–Fallen: Strength score increases by 1. You can use Radiant Soul at 3rd level where you can transform and receive a flying speed and deal extra radiant damage equal to your level.
Bugbear: Strength increases by 2 and DEX increases by 1. You have a reach of 10 feet. You gain proficiency in Stealth and if you surprise a creature on your first turn, the attack deals an extra 2d6 damage to your attack.
Centaur: There’s some pros and cons to this race. The strength increase by 2 is good and you also get a +1 to Wisdom. A lot of the skills you’re proficient falls under WIS so, it doesn’t give you much. While you can move 40 ft, climbing takes extra movement. Attacking with your hooves uses your STR modifier.
Changeling: Nothing good for Barbarians.
Dragonborn: Strength increase by 2 and Charisma by 1. You gain damage resistance based on your draconic ancestry and this determines your breath weapon as well i.e. Blue dragon = lightning. Your breath weapon uses your CON modifier. Y
Dwarf: This race gives you a 2 in Constitution. Speed 25 feet. They get Dwarven Resistance where you have advantage on saving throws against being poison and resistance against poison damage.
–Hill: Wisdom goes up by 1 and your maximum hit point increases by 1 and increases by 1 every time you gain a level.
–Mountain: You get 2 to put into your Strength score. You get proficiency with light and medium armor.
–Duergar: While the Duergar does get a Strength score increase by 1, you also get Duergar Magic and that uses your Intelligence stat.
I wouldn’t recommend playing as an elf. Sea Elf and Shadar-Kai have some bonuses which is why they were included.
–Drow Nothing useful for Barbarians.
–Eladrin Nothing useful for Barbarians.
– Sea Elf: Con score increases by 1. You do get proficiency with the spear, trident, light crossbow, and net. You can swim, breathe water and air. You can communicate with any beast what has an innate swim speed. You can speak Aquan.
–Shadar-Kai: Con score increases by 1. You have resistance to necrotic damage and you can teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space you can see. At 3rd level, you gain resistances to all damage when you teleport using this ability which lasts until the start of your next turn.
–High Nothing useful for Barbarians.
–Wood Nothing useful for Barbarians.
Firbolg: Wisdom increases by 2 and Strength increases by 1. You can cast detect magic and disguise self using your Wisdom as your spellcasting ability. You also have the ability to magically turn invisible as a bonus action.
CON score gets a +2.
–Air: +1 to DEX. You can cast levitate and it uses your CON as the spellcasting ability.
–Earth: +1 to STR. You can cast pass without a trace and this uses your CON as the spellcasting ability.
–Fire: Nothing good for Barbarians.
–Water: Nothing good for Barbarians
Their INT increases by 1.
–Githyanki: STR gets a +2. You can cast spells but they use INT as the spellcasting ability.
–Githzerai: Nothing good for Barbarians.
Gnomes get a + 2 to Intelligence and are considered Small in size which gives you disadvantage using heavy weapons.
–Deep – Included for the + 1 to DEX.
–Forest: I included this because of the increase in DEX by 1.
–Rock: Included because of the CON increase by 1.
Goblin: There’s pros and cons to this race. Your DEX increases by 2 and your CON goes up by 1. Your size is small and you get disadvantage on carrying heavy weapons so you might need to reckless attack everything or focus on soley tanking. You can take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action. When you deal damage to a creature, you can deal extra damage that equals to your level as long as the creature is a size larger than yours.
Goliath: If you want to be optimal, Goliath is the way to go. Your Strength receives an increase of 2 and your CON gets an increase of 1. You can use your reaction, when you take damage, to roll a d12. You add your CON modifier to the roll and you can reduce the damage you take for that amount.
Half-Elf: You get 2 ability scores to increase by 1 and you also get a +2 to Charisma. You get advantage on saving throws against being charmed and magic can’t put you to sleep.
Half-Orc: This race makes amazing Barbarians. They get a + 2 to Strength and a +1 to CON. You get proficiency with the Intimidation skill. If you drop to 0 hit points, you drop to 1 hp instead. On a Critical hit on melee, you can roll one of your weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add that extra damage to the attack.
Halfling: Pros and Cons. DEX gets a + 2 and you are considered small for size. You get Lucky where you can reroll a 1 on a d20 for attack, ability, or saving and must use the new roll. You get advantage against being Frightened and can move through a size larger than yours. **However, you get disadvantage on carrying heavy weapons so you might need to reckless attack everything or focus on soley tanking.
–Lightfoot Nothing useful for Barbarians.
–Stout: CON increases by 1 and you have advantage on saving throws against poison. You also get resistance against poison damage.
Hobgoblin: CON increases by 2 and Intelligence goes up by 1. If you miss an attack, you can gain a bonus to your attack roll equal to the number of allies within 30 feet of you (max of +5).
Human: They get a plus 1 to all stats and get an extra language. They can be good with all the classes really.
Kalashtar: Nothing good for Barbarians.
Kenku: DEX increases by 2 and Wisdom increases by 1.
Kobold: Nothing good for Barbarians.
Leonin: You get a +2 to CON and a +1 to STR. Base speed is 35 ft. Using your Claw as an unarmed strike uses your STR modifier. As a bonus action you can roar and targets must make a WIS saving throw or become frightened. This uses your CON modifier.
Lizardfolk: There’s pros and cons to playing this race. The CON score increase by 2 is great and you get a Wisdom increase by 1. You have a bite attack that deals 1d6 + STR modifier as damage and counts as an unarmed strike. Natural armor for the LIzard folk gives your AC 13 + DEX, higher than the Unarmored Defense from the Barbarian class (10 + DEX). Lizardfolk can throw themselves into a feeding frenzy and, if it hits, you gain temporary hit points equal to your CON modifier.
Loxodon: Half and half. Your CON increases by 2 and WIS gets a +1. Without armor, your AC uses a 12 + CON modifier. Your trunk can be used to grasp things but it can’t wield weapons, tools, or magic items.
Minotaur: You get a +2 to STR and a +1 to CON. You can use your horns as natural weapons and this unarmed attack uses your STR modifier. You gain proficiency in one skill of your choice: Intimidation or Survival. As part of your attack, you can use a melee attack with your horns as bonus action. Similarly, you can also push the target with your horns and they have to make a STR saving throw. This skill uses your STR modifier.
Orc: Your Strength increases by 2, your CON increases by 1, but your Intelligence gets reduced by 2. Considering Barbarians don’t need INT then, it’s not a bad trade-off. As a bonus action, you can move your speed to an enemy that you can hear or see but must end this move closer to the enemy than you started.
Satyr: CHAR gets a +2 and DEX gets a +1. You’re considered fey instead of humanoid. Your horns can be used as an unarmed attack and this uses your STR modifier.
–Beasthide: CON gets a +2 and STR gets a +1. You have proficiency in Athletics and, while shifted, you get 1d6 temporary hit points and have a +1 to Armor class.
–Longtooth: Your STR increases by 2 and your DEX gets a +1. You’re proficient with the Intimidation skill. When shifted, you can use your fangs to make an unarmed attack equal to 1d6 + STR modifier.
–Swiftstride: DEX increases by 2 and CHAR gets a +1. You’re proficient in the Acrobatics skill.Shifted, you get a +10 to your movement speed and can move up to 10 ft as a reaction when a target ends its turn within 5 ft of you. This movement doesn’t initiate any attacks of opportunity.
–Wildhunt: DEX gets a +1 and WIS increases by 2. You’re proficient in the Survival skill. While shifted, you get advantage on WIS saving throws and no creature within 30 ft of you can make an attack with advantage agaisnt you as long as you’re not incapacitated.
Simic Hybrid: Your CON increases by 2 and you also get to increase another ability of your choice by 1. At 1st level, you choose from an animal enhancement and a second enhancement at 5th level. There are choices from Manta Glide where you can use your wings to slow your fall; Nimble Climber which gives you climbing speed; Underwater Adaptation gives you the ability to breathe air and water and have a swim speed; Grappling Appendage gives you two appendages to grapple and do unarmed attacks but they can’t manipulate anything; Carapace gives you a +1 to AC, and lastly, Acid Spit allows you to spray acid targeting one creature and this uses your CON modifier.
Tabaxi: Only mentioned because of the DEX increase by 2. Charisma increases by 1. Get Darkvision and can double your speed in combat but you can’t move 0 feet on one of your turns. You can make an unarmed strike and deal slashing damage equal to 1d4 + STR modifier.
Triton: Strength, Constitution, and Charisma increase by 1. You can cast fog cloud, gust of wind, and wall of water and this uses your CHAR as your spellcasting ability. You get a swim speed and breathe water and air. Resistance to cold damage.
Your Intelligence increases by 1 and Charisma increases by 2. You have resistance to fire damage and can cast thaumaturgy as a cantrip. At 3rd level, you can cast hellish rebuke. At 5th level, you can cast darkness. Charisma is your spellcasting ability.
–Asmodeus Nothing useful for Barbarians.
–Baalzebul Nothing useful for Barbarians.
–Dispatcher Nothing useful for Barbarians.
–Fierna Nothing useful for Barbarians.
–Glasya Nothing useful for Barbarians.
–Levistus : As this Tiefling, you get a Charisma increase of 2 and a Con increase of 1. You get the ray of frost captrip and at 3rd level you can cast armor of Agathys as a 2nd level spell. Then at 5th level, you can cast darkness and you use Charisma as your spellcasting ability. Spells, not really great for Barbarians.
–Mammon Nothing useful for Barbarians.
–Mephistopheles Nothing useful for Barbarians.
–Zariel : This tiefling gives you a Charisma increase of 2 and a Strength score of 1. You also get spells like the thaumaturgy cantrip and at 3rd level you get searing smite as a 2nd level spell. You also receive branding smite at 5th level. Charisma is your spellcasting ability. This option is only included for the Strength score increase.
–Feral: This option falls under the Tiefling Variant. They have a trait called Feral which gives you an increase of 2 for Dexterity and increase of 1 for Intelligence. The Feral trait replaces your Ability Score Increase trait an Asmodeus tiefling would receive. So, instead of the boost to intelligence by 1 and increase of 2 to your Charisma score you get the 2 for Dex and 1 for Intelligence. You get the cantrip vicious mockery and at 3rd level you can cast charm person as a 2nd level spell.
Tortle: STR gets a +2 and you get a +1 to WIS. Your claws can be used as an unarmed attack and this uses your STR modifier. You can’t wear any armor. Your shell gives you an AC of 17 but if your DEX modifier doesn’t affect this number. Shields do give you the bonus as normal. You have Shell Defense where you withdraw into your shell. You get a +4 to AC. While in this state, you have advantage on STR and CON saving throws but you have disadvantage on DEX saves and you can’t take reaction.
Warforged: Your CON increases by 2 and you also get to increase another ability of your choice by 1. You gain a +1 to Armor class but you can only don armor you’re proficient in and your armor can’t be removed from your body against your will. You have advantage on saving throws against being poisoned and have resistance to poison damage. You’re immune to disease. Magic can’t put you to sleep.
Yuan-Ti Pureblood: Nothing good for Barbarians.
As a Barbarian, you get the following features.
Hit die: 1d12 is amazing considering you’re the only one who gets a d12.
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple weapons, martial weapons.
Armor Proficiencies: Light, medium armor, and shields
Tools: None. This isn’t too bad considering that most tools are used on a case by case basis.
Saving Throws: Strength and Constitution.
Skills: Choose two from Animal Handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Nature, Perception, and Survival.
Rage: As bonus action, you can activate this. You have advantage on STR checks and saving throws. With a melee weapon using STR, you game bonus damage. You have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. This gets an improvement at 11th level where, if you drop to 0 hit points, you can make a CON save of 10, and upon succeeding, you drop to 1 hit point instead. However, the DC increases by 5 every time you do this. Additionally at 15th level, your rage will only end early if you fall unconscious or you choose to end it early.
Unarmored defense: When not wearing armor, your Armor class is 10 + DEX modifier + CON. You can use a shield. There’s no reason you should be wearing armor.
Reckless Attack: In this state you give yourself advantage to hit your target but your target also has advantage to hit you.
Danger Sense: This is your spidey-sense. You have advantage on DEX saving throw against effects that you can see like spells and traps. Mostly situational at times.
Brutal Critical: At 9th level, you can roll an additional weapon damage die when determining damage for a critical hit with a melee attack.
Indomitable Might: On a STR check, if it is less than your STR score, you can use that score in place of the total. Situational.
Primal Champion: At level 20, your STR and CON score increase by 4. Your maximum for those scores is now 24.
You get an extra attack starting at level 5 and also gain +10 to your movement speed.
At 7th level, if you’re surprised at the beginning of a round, you can act normally as long as you’re not incapacitated and enter Rage.
At 3rd level, you can choose one of these Paths to embark on and get all the benefits from them. You can’t change your Path later.
-List each published subclass from all sources.
Path of the Berserker PHB: This is a trap, sort of. The path gives you Frenzy which gives you an extra attack as your bonus action however, you suffer a level of exhaustion. You need to get an uninterrupted long rest for the level of exhaustion to go away. You can’t be charmed or frightened while in your rage but the effect does activate when you leave Rage.You can also frighten your opponent but this uses your CHAR modifier. Relatilation allows you to use your reaction when you get hit to make a melee attack on that creature.
Path of the Totem Warrior PHB: You choose a totem from three choices: Bear, Eagle, and Wolf. Each one has its own perks. Bear grants you resistance to all damage except psychic. With the Eagle totem, while you’re raging and aren’t wearing armor, creatures have disadvantage on Opportunity Attacks against you and you can use the Dash action as a bonus action. With the Wolf totem, your friends have advantage on melee attacks rolls against any creature within 5 ft of you that is hostile to you. These totems get an additional feature at level 6 but they’re mostly for flavor and situational.
At 14th level, you gain another additional feature; Bear: while you’re raging, a hostile creature within 5 ft of you has disadvantage against another creature that isn’t you. Eagle: you have flying speed equal to your walking speed, but if you end your turn in the air, you’ll fall. Wolf: While you rage, you can knock a creature prone that is Larger or smaller as a bonus action.
Elk: At 3rd level, your walking speed increases by 15ft when raging. 6th level, travel pace is doubled. 14th level, while raging, you can move through a creature’s space.
Tiger: 3rd level, while raging, you can add 10ft to your long jumps. 6th level, proficiency in two skills. 14th level, while raging, you can move at least 20ft in a straight line before making a melee attack.
Path of the Ancestral Guardian XGtE: The spirits help you fight. At 3rd level, when you hit a target, that target becomes targeted by your ancestral warriors. If your target hits anyone else but you, they have disadvantage on the attack and the creature they hit has resistance to that damage. 6th level comes with Spirit Shield. A reaction where if you see a creature within 30 ft of you takes damage, you can reduce the damage by 2d6. 10th level gives you the ability to cast augury or the clairvoyance spell. However, this uses your WIS modifier. 14th level, when you use your Spirit Shield to reduce damage, the attacker takes damage to the amount of the damage you reduced. If you want to protect the rest of the party, this path is the way to go. You are a Support Barbarian.
Path of the Storm Herald XGtE: Nature is on your side. At 3rd level, while raging, you have an aura that extends 10 ft from you and you can activate this effect as a bonus action each turn.If the aura requires a saving throw, the DC uses your CON modifier.
- Desert: All creatures in your aura take 2 fire damage each and damage increases at every five afterward i.e. 5, 10, 15, 20th level.
- Sea: One creature of your choice makes a DEX saving throw and they’ll take 1d6 damage on a fail and half on a success. Damage increases at 10 by 2d6, 15 by 3d6, 20th levelby 4d6.
- Tundra: Creatures in your aura get 2 temporary hit points.This increases at every five afterward i.e. 5, 10, 15, 20th level.
6th level grants you benefits based on the aura you chose and when your aura is not active.
- Desert: Fire resistance, don’t suffer from extreme heat and can set objects on fire that aren’t being worn or carried.
- Sea: Lightning resistance, you can breathe underwater, and you have a swim speed.
- Tundra: Resistance to cold damage, don’t’ suffer from extreme cold, and, as an action, you can turn water into ice.
14th level grants you additional bonuses based on the Aura you chose before.
- Desert: When a creature in your aura hits you with an attack, you can force them to make a DEX save and, on a fail, they take fire damage equal to half your barbarian level.
- Sea: When you hit a creature in your aura, you can force them to make a STR save. On a fail, they’re knocked prone.
- Tundra: Choose a creature in your aura, that creature makes a STR save. On a fail, their speed is reduced by 0 until the start of your next turn.
Path of the Zealot XGtE: The gods are on your size. Starting at 3rd level, while raging, you can deal extra damage with your weapon attack on a creature you hit first on each of your turns. This can be necrotic or radiant damage. Additionally, if the raise dead spell is cast upon you, the caster doesn’t need material components. 6th level, if you fail a saving throw while raging, you can reroll it but you must use the new roll. This ability is used one per long rest.
At 10th level, as a bonus action, up to 10 creatures can have advantage on attack rolls and saving throws until the start of your next turn. 14th level, while raging, having 0 hit points doesn’t knock you unconscious but you must still make death saving throws and suffer the effects of taking damage in this state. If you die while failing death saving throws, you don’t die until your rage ends, and die only if you still have 0 hit points.
Path of the Battlerager SCAG: Dwarves only. At 3rd level, you can use Spiked Armor as a weapon. While raging and wearing this, you can use a bonus action to attack with your Spiked Armor. Target takes 1d4 damage and this uses your STR modifier for attacks and damage rolls. You can use your Attack action to grapple a target and they take 3 piercing damage if your grapple succeeds.
6th level, when using your Reckless Attack and raging, you gain temporary hit points equal to your CON modifier and they’ll vanish when your Rage ends. 10 level, you take a Dash action as a bonus action while raging. 14th level, if you’re wearing your Spiked Armor and raging and an enemy hits you with a melee, they take 3 piercing damage.
Path of the Beast TCoE: You have a beastial spark within you. At 3rd level, while raging, you can transform and manifest a natural weapon. You add your STR modifier for attack and damage rolls. You choose the weapon’s form every time you rage.
Bite: This deals 1d8 of damage and you regain a number of hit points equal to your proficiency when you have less than half your hit points. This can only be used once on each of your turns.
Claws: Can only be used if your hand is empty. This deals 1d6 of damage. When you use this as an Action, you can take an additional claw attack.
Tail: This attack deals 1d8 of damage and it has the reach property. If an enemy is within 10 feet of you and they attack you, you can use a reaction to roll a d8 and add that number to your AC.
At 6th level, your beat attack becomes magical for the purposes of overcoming magical resistances. You also receive additional bonuses that help you overcome obstacles like gaining a swim speed, climbing speed, and extending your jumps.
At 10th level, while raging and you hit a target with your Beast attack, the target must make a WIS saving throw that uses your CON or suffer effects like taking psychic damage. 14th level, while raging, you can give 5 temporary hit points to others around you.
Path of the Wild Magic TCoE: 3rd level gives you the ability to sense magic or magic items within 60 ft of you. Also, when you enter rage, you must roll on the Wild Magic table. 6th level, you can transfer an beneficial effect to a creature (or yourself). 10th level, during your rage, when you take damage or fail a saving throw, you can use your reaction to roll on the Wild Magic table. 14th level, when you roll on the Wild Magic table, you can roll 2x and choose the effect.
Acrobatics (DEX) Situational.
Animal Handling (WIS) Situational.
Arcana: (INT) Nope.
Athletics (STR) Situational.
Deception: (CHA) Situational.
History (INT) Situational.
Insight (WIS) Situational.
Intimidation (CHA) DMs might let you use your STR modifier for this one. It depends.
Investigation: (INT) Situational.
Medicine: (WIS) Situational.
Nature: (INT) Situational.
Perception: (WIS) How well can you see something. Situational.
Performance: (CHA) Situational.
Persuasion: (CHA) You shouldn’t be speaking for the group.
Religion: (INT) No one really ever takes this skill.
Sleight of Hand: (DEX) Are you going to steal anything?
Stealth: (DEX) You are trying to be sneaky.
Survival: (WIS) Situational.
Top 3 Backgrounds
Outlander: Gives you proficiencies with Athletics, Survival, one type of instrument, and one more language of your choice.
Soldier: Gives you proficiencies with Athletics, Intimidation, one type of gaming set, and vehicles (land).
Sailor: Gives you proficiencies with Athletics, Perception, Navigator’s tools, and vehicles (Water).
Top 3 Weapons
Greataxe: 1d12 damage, heavy, 2 handed weapon
Greatsword: 2d6 damage, heavy, 2 handed, damage type slashing
Maul: 2d6 damage, heavy, 2 handed, damage type bludgeoning
Haha. What armor? Sure, you can use shields, but come on. Take the hit.
Top 5 Feats
You can take feats instead of your Ability Score Increase.
Tough: So many hit points. Your maximum hit points increases by 2x your level to this point. Your maximum hit points will increase by 2 points after this feat is gained.
Great weapon master: You take a -5 penalty to your attack roll, but you get a +10 to you weapon damage .
Resilient: You can increase one ability score by 1 and you gain proficiency with that saving throw. I.e. If you increase your DEX by 1, you get proficiency with DEX saving throws.
Savage Attacker: One per turn when you roll your damage roll you can reroll the weapon’s damage dice and use either total. This only applies to a melee weapon attack.
Athlete: You gain a +1 to either STR or DEX. If you’re prone and stand, this takes 5 ft as opposed to half your movement. Climbing doesn’t halve your speed and if you make a running jump or a high jump, you only have to move 5ft not 10 feet.
This means that you want to dabble into another class. Fighter is an option. Some would say it is the only option. None of the spellcasters would work because of the low INT, WIS, and CHAR. You could do Paladin but that also requires to have CHAR at a 13.