Character Creation Guide – Barbarian

Amidst the roaring battle, a lone figure stood unyielding against the encroaching tide of foes. His wild, unkempt hair flew in the wind as he roared a challenge to the heavens, a savage and primal display of defiance.

Male barbarian.

With each swing of his mighty greataxe, foes fell before him like wheat before the scythe. His eyes, wild with the fury of battle, scanned the chaos for more foes to vanquish.

His name was Thraindor, a barbarian from the rugged highlands of the North, where life was a relentless struggle against nature’s fury. The brutal wilderness sculpted him into a vessel of primal power, a true embodiment of the indomitable spirit of the barbarian.

Now, as the clang of steel rang through the battlefield, Thraindor fought not just for survival, but for the thrill of combat, the freedom of the wild, and the camaraderie of his newfound companions.


In the world of Dungeons & Dragons, the barbarian class represents the raw fury and boundless endurance drawn from a primal connection to the earth and the ancestors.

With a heart untamed and a soul untouched by civilization’s softness, a barbarian thrives where others falter, and survives where others perish.

This guide aims to explore the depths of this fierce warrior class, delving into the various subclasses, the synergy between races and the barbarian’s savage prowess, and the feats that can further hone the barbarian’s combat skills to a razor’s edge.

Whether you are a player seeking to embody the fury of the wild or a Dungeon Master desiring to challenge your players with a barbarian foe, this guide seeks to be a roaring fire amidst the cold, hard knowledge of character creation.

Introduction To Barbarians

In the diverse world of Dungeons & Dragons, the Barbarian stands as a towering figure of primal fury and unyielding stamina.

Female barbarian.

These fierce warriors thrive in the chaos of combat, channeling their raw emotions into powerful rages that bolster their physical prowess to superhuman levels.

Whether hailing from untamed wilderness, rugged highlands, or the heart of ancient, mystical forests, Barbarians carry the indomitable spirit of nature within their very souls.

Role in a Party

A Barbarian’s primary role in a party is that of a frontline combatant, a bulwark against the terrors that threaten their companions. Their ability to absorb punishment is unrivaled, thanks to their high Hit Points and damage-reducing Rage ability.

When a Barbarian enters a rage, their muscles bulge with power, and their eyes glint with the untamed fury of the wild, making them a formidable force on the battlefield.

In addition to being fearsome combatants, Barbarians often serve as the party’s scouts or trackers, using their survival skills honed in the wilderness to navigate dangerous terrains and locate foes or resources.

Their natural intuition and primal senses make them excellent at reading the lay of the land and the intentions of foes.

While they might lack the refined etiquette of civilized folk or the arcane knowledge of spellcasters, Barbarians possess a straightforward honesty and a deep-seated loyalty that make them invaluable allies.

Their unyielding courage and boundless endurance are the bedrock upon which parties can build their strategies, knowing that the Barbarian will hold the line, no matter the odds.

Key Abilities And Stats

The tempestuous life of a Barbarian demands a robust physique and an indomitable will to survive against the odds. The following key abilities and stats are the pillars that uphold a Barbarian’s ferocity and resilience, enabling them to thrive in the face of adversity and dominate the theater of war:

  • Strength: The paramount ability for Barbarians, Strength empowers their melee attacks, increasing both the likelihood of striking true and the amount of damage dealt. A high Strength score is fundamental for any Barbarian hoping to dominate the battlefield.
  • Constitution: Constitution bolsters a Barbarian’s already impressive hit point pool and aids in shrugging off effects that target their health or stamina. This is a crucial stat for enduring the harsh realities of combat and the perilous environments they traverse.

Class Features

The Barbarian’s core abilities lay the foundation for a formidable front-line warrior. Here’s a breakdown of the primary class features:

  • Hit Dice: 1d12 per Barbarian level
  • Hit Points at 1st Level: 12 + your Constitution modifier
  • Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d12 (or 7) + your Constitution modifier per Barbarian level after 1st

Proficiencies

  • Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields
  • Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
  • Tools: None
  • Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
  • Skills: Choose two from Animal Handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Nature, Perception, and Survival

Core Class Features

Rage: Enter a rage as a bonus action during your turn to gain bonus damage, advantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws, and resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

Unarmored Defense: While not wearing any armor, your Armor Class equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Constitution modifier.

Reckless Attack: (2nd level) Gain advantage on melee weapon attack rolls during your turn, but attack rolls against you have advantage until your next turn.

Danger Sense: (2nd level) Gain advantage on Dexterity saving throws against effects you can see, such as traps and spells.

Primal Path: (3rd level) Choose a path that shapes the nature of your rage, like the Path of the Berserker or the Path of the Totem Warrior.

Ability Score Improvement: (4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level) Increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1.

Extra Attack: (5th level) Attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

Fast Movement: (5th level) Your speed increases by 10 feet while you aren’t wearing heavy armor.

Feral Instinct: (7th level) Gain advantage on initiative rolls and cannot be surprised while you are conscious.

Brutal Critical: (9th level, and improvement at 13th and 17th level) Roll extra weapon damage dice when you score a critical hit with a melee attack.

Relentless Rage: (11th level) If you drop to 0 hit points while raging and don’t die outright, you can make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw to drop to 1 hit point instead.

Persistent Rage: (15th level) Your rage is only ended early if you fall unconscious or choose to end it.

Indomitable Might: (18th level) If your total for a Strength check is less than your Strength score, you can use that score in place of the total.

Primal Champion: (20th level) Your Strength and Constitution scores increase by 4. Your maximum for those scores is now 24.

These features, coupled with the subclass features chosen at 3rd level, create the full picture of a Barbarian’s capabilities and strengths as they progress through their adventuring career.

Equipment

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) a greataxe or (b) any martial melee weapon
  • (a) two handaxes or (b) any simple weapon
  • An explorer’s pack and four javelins

Subclasses

Barbarians channel their primal fury through various spiritual or cultural lenses, represented by their subclasses. Here are some of the notable subclasses:

  • Berserker: The quintessence of raw fury, Berserkers embody the terrifying power of uncontrolled rage. Their Frenzy feature allows them to go into a berserker rage, granting them an extra attack on each of their turns. The intimidating presence of a Berserker can send foes fleeing in terror, showcasing the primal fear a rampaging Barbarian can instill.
  • Totem Warrior: The spiritual path of the Totem Warrior ties Barbarians to the ancient spirits of revered animals. By forging a spiritual bond with a totem animal of their choice—whether it be the Bear for unmatched endurance, the Wolf for pack tactics, or the Eagle for aerial superiority—Totem Warriors gain unique abilities that reflect the strengths of their chosen totem.
  • Ancestral Guardian: Barbarians of the Ancestral Guardian subclass are able to summon the spirits of their ancestors to aid them in battle. These guardians hinder foes and protect allies, making Ancestral Guardians excellent at controlling the battlefield and ensuring the safety of their comrades.

Race Recommendations

In the boundless multiverse of D&D, the racial background of a Barbarian can significantly influence their capabilities and role within a party. The physical and cultural traits inherited from one’s race often synergize with the primal nature of Barbarians, granting them unique advantages in their savage endeavors.

Here are three races that harmoniously meld with the essence of the Barbarian class:

  • Half-Orc: Born of two worlds yet belonging to neither, Half-Orcs carry the physical might of their orcish heritage and the indomitable spirit of humanity. Their racial bonuses to Strength and Constitution naturally complement the Barbarian’s class features. The Relentless Endurance and Savage Attacks traits further enhance their combat prowess, making them a formidable choice for any Barbarian.
  • Mountain Dwarf: Hailing from the ancient halls of stone-carved mountains, Mountain Dwarves are known for their unmatched resilience and combat training. Their racial bonuses to Strength and Constitution bolster the Barbarian’s frontline capabilities, while their innate resistance to poison and proficiency with battle-axes and warhammers provide additional layers of survivability and combat versatility.
  • Goliath: Towering over most other races, Goliaths are a race of wanderers and survivalists whose might is as legendary as the colossal peaks they hail from. Their Powerful Build and Stone’s Endurance traits synergize excellently with the Barbarian’s rugged nature, making them nigh unstoppable forces on the battlefield.

Feat Recommendations

As Barbarians traverse the perilous path of heroism, they may acquire legendary feats that further hone their combat prowess and survival instincts. These feats, akin to ancient boons bestowed upon mythic heroes, augment a Barbarian’s abilities, rendering them an awe-inspiring presence on the battlefield:

  • Great Weapon Master: This feat is a staple for Barbarians looking to maximize their damage output. The ability to take a penalty to hit for a significant boost in damage pairs well with the Barbarian’s high Strength and Reckless Attack feature, making them terrifying powerhouses in combat.
  • Tough: The Tough feat is simple yet effective, providing a substantial boost to hit points. For Barbarians, who are often the first line of defense against threats, this feat can be the difference between standing tall or falling in battle.
  • Sentinel: The Sentinel feat allows Barbarians to better protect their allies by controlling the battlefield. By halting foes in their tracks and punishing those who dare attack their companions, Barbarians with this feat become immovable guardians.

Equipment And Gear

The arsenal of a Barbarian is a testament to their combat style—raw, brutal, and unyielding. The choice of weapons and gear is a fundamental aspect of a Barbarian’s identity, reflecting their savage nature and the traditions of their tribe or clan. Here are some equipment recommendations that complement the ferocious combatant spirit of the Barbarian:

  • Weapons: The choice between a greataxe or a greatsword often defines a Barbarian’s combat style. Greataxes deliver devastating single-strike damage, while greatswords provide a more consistent damage output. Both are iconic choices for a Barbarian’s brutal combat approach.
  • Armor: Though their Rage ability encourages a lighter armor choice, a solid set of medium armor like a breastplate or hide armor can provide a good balance between protection and mobility, allowing Barbarians to take advantage of their Unarmored Defense feature while still benefiting from some physical protection.

Roleplaying Tips

Embrace the untamed heart of your Barbarian. Their distrust of complex civilization and yearning for the open wilderness or the camaraderie of a tight-knit tribe can create engaging roleplay opportunities. The dichotomy between their fierce combat demeanor and potential for deep loyalty and protective instincts towards their companions can lead to memorable character development and interactions.

Combat Tactics

Effective utilization of Rage is crucial for a Barbarian’s success in combat. Timing its activation to coincide with engaging formidable foes or enduring a barrage of attacks is key. Positioning is also crucial, ensuring they are placed to intercept foes and protect vulnerable allies, all while unleashing their primal fury upon their adversaries.

Party Synergy

Barbarians excel when paired with classes that can capitalize on the chaos they sow on the battlefield. Rogues, with their Sneak Attack, and spellcasters with area control or debuff spells, can significantly benefit from the Barbarian’s ability to draw attention and disrupt enemy formations.

Conclusion

Embarking on the path of the Barbarian is a call to embrace the primal fury within. In the heart of melee combat, amidst the clang of steel and the roar of foes, Barbarians stand as the unyielding storm, the vanguards in the front who face danger head-on with an indomitable spirit.

Male barbarian.

Their presence on the battlefield is a relentless force of nature, a testament to the primal power that courses through their veins.

The Barbarian class offers an exhilarating foray into the visceral thrill of melee combat, allowing players to delve into a role that epitomizes the raw essence of survival and the exhilarating rush of close-quarter battles.

Through understanding the nuances of this fierce warrior class, players can craft characters that are not only formidable vanguards but also captivating embodiments of primal fury in the rich narrative tapestry of Dungeons & Dragons.

Dungeons & Dragons, its logo, and its respective trademarks and copyrights are the property of Wizards of the Coast. This article is not endorsed by, affiliated with, sponsored by, or specifically approved by Wizards of the Coast.

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