D&D 5e: Goliath Barbarian Guide

A male goliath barbarian ready to rage.

D&D 5e: Goliath Barbarian Guide

Goliaths and the barbarian class go together like cereal and milk; goliaths prize physical strength and usually have tons of it, they live on mountains and climb cliffs for sport, and they have an extremely competitive spirit. They don’t even have anything against magic, so long as it’s not used as a crutch to compensate for poor skill or strength; Barbarian and all its subclasses are perfect for a goliath.

How to Make a Goliath Barbarian

Boosts to strength and constitution are exactly what you want; don’t change those. Nearly any decent barbarian subclass will work; go Zealot for damage and a form of immortality, Totem Warrior for resistance to more damage types or to give allies advantage on attacks, and Ancestral Guardian to protect your allies. Ancestral Guardian might be ideal since your racial features already make you more durable, so protecting your allies is a solid next step to take; it’s the subclass I most recommend.

It’s hard to find a reason to not take Polearm Master and Great Weapon Master as a barbarian; more attacks mean more rage damage, and reckless attack means the -5/+10 is vastly better. Take both of these feats at levels 4 and 8, then boost strength from there. Sentinel is another good feat you will eventually want.

A male Goliath barbarian clad in hides

How to Play a Goliath Barbarian

First, you rage, and then you hit the enemy with your big weapon. You’re a barbarian; your core ability (beating people to death) is not complicated.

You’ll get the most out of the Ancestral Guardians subclass if enemies try to attack creatures other than you; work with your allies and encourage them to hang out nearby and tempt the enemy into running away and trying to attack your allies with disadvantage and half damage.  However, don’t be disappointed if enemies just attack you; you’re trying to be a tank, so you still succeeded. Because resistance, healing, and temporary hit points are worth more to you, so make sure to get plenty of those.

Remember to use your reactions! Stone’s Endurance is great for reducing damage taken, though you might want to save it for when you take significant damage so that you don’t waste your limited use feature on a 6 damage attack that became a 3 damage attack due to resistance. At 6th level, Spirit Shield is a reaction you have unlimited uses of. Remember that both of these reactions work on all damage taken, not just attacks.

How to Roleplay as a Goliath Barbarian

Your character is a classic barbarian; strong, likely not conventionally civilized, and extremely prone to challenging people to arm wrestles. Still, goliath culture likely instilled a sense of honor into your character, as well as an urge for continuous self-improvement. The urge to hone your skills might have even inspired you to go adventuring in the first place.

You might look upon spellcasters as being inferior to proud warriors like yourself, but as an Ancestral Guardian barbarian, you’ll probably feel the urge to protect them nonetheless. A character arc where you and the party wizard gradually develop mutual respect is a delightful classic.

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