Barbarians - Throwing Tantrums Since 1982

by: B.J. Guest

Barbarians in D&D are the rage-filled, the strongman of the party.  Better known for brute attacks with a greataxe than using their minds.  They are the perfect choice for someone who wants to be the damage dealer of the group. In this class guide, I will suggest some builds to create a great barbarian for your next Dungeons and Dragons campaign!

I Would Like to Rage!

Raging is the key feature that makes barbarians special compared to other classes. Given access to this feature at level one along with unarmored defense, while in a rage, barbarians have advantage on Strength checks and saving throws, extra damage to melee attacks, and resistance to piercing, bludgeoning, and slashing damage.  These features in a rage really make the barbarian a tank to soak up damage and dish it out as well.

Character Creation

When building a character, there are so many different ways to build your newest adventurer. In this section, I am going to give a few ideas for characters that are based on optimizing character stats.

For building a rage-filled barbarian, strength should be his/her greatest stat followed by constitution and then dexterity.  You want the highest strength stat so your barbarian can hit and deal damage like a barbarian, a high constitution means you have more hit points which are always handy and a high dexterity means a higher armor class. 

Races that are naturally strong and will add a plus 2 race bonus to their strength scores are Dragonborns, Half-Orcs, Goliaths, Bugbears, Orcs, Tortles, Centaurs, Minotaurs and the Locathah. 

Out of these choices, for a “min-max” barbarian build, I recommend the Half-Orcs, Goliaths, BugBears, Orcs, Minotaurs, and the Locathah due to also adding a one to dexterity scores or constitution scores.  These choices are a more optimized list of choices based on their natural ability to be stronger, more agile, and hardier than other races. We will take a closer look at a few of these races to look at different aspects of their race that can fit to make the best barbarian.



There are two features of the half-orc race that I think fit in with a barbarian class. Relentless Endurance saves the player from falling unconscious if he/she falls to zero hit points and are not killed outright, they can choose to fall to one hit point instead.  Savage Attack lets you roll an additional damage die on a critical hit from a melee attack which seems as barbaric as it gets.



These giant-kin brutes have a racial feature called Stone’s Endurance which lets them reduce the damage of an attack by 1s12+their Constitution modifier.  This can allow a barbarian to keep on fighting in a scuffle.



These monstrous creatures can use a feature called Long-Limbed which adds 5 feet to their melee reach.  This means a bugbear barbarian can hit an opponent from 10 feet away and not get attacked by the opposing creature. 



Orcs are honestly a bit stereotypical for a barbarian build but with their Aggressive feature allowing them to move up to their full speed of 30 feet towards an enemy as a bonus action sounds like something a barbarian would do right?



These too turtley for the turtle club creatures can make a great barbarian due to their natural armor being a 17 (though your dexterity modifier has no effect on this number).  This allows especially early in the campaign for your reptilian barbarian to do some massive damage while only getting hit a few times.  For bonus fun, a Tortle can use a bonus action to hide in its shell to add 4 to their AC.  Imagine, level one barbarian with an armor class of 21. 


*Dungeons and Dragons and their content is the property of Wizards of the Coast. Norse Foundry makes no claim to ownership to any of the things discussed in this article, this article is a helpful opinion guide on to how to play the game.

Drew Foulke