[Top 5] D&D Best Barbarian Builds That Are Fun To Play

Best barbarian builds for D&D 5e
If life gives you lemons, pulverize them with your bare hands to make your point come across

What is best in life? To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And to see the look on the other party member's faces when the evil lich hits you with a disintegrate spell and you don't even flinch.

Untamable rage and physical might. An ax to grind and unmatched prowess. The Barbarian is one of the most iconic classes in Dungeons & Dragons as well as a staple of fantasy literature in the likes of Conan, Fafhrd, and more.

The frenzied throes of a Barbarian.

Being a natural disaster with anger management issues can be deceptively tough. You have to carefully consider whether you’ll rip or tear through the legions of hell, carefully time your explosive outburst of fury as puny guards deny you entrance to the palace or worse.

Worry not my wild companion, drown out the rush of adrenaline for but a moment as I make things a bit easier with a few builds with a lot of bite for your 5th edition Barbarian so you can bring all of your valor to bear to the table.

Keep in mind that these are meant to be guidelines, you are free to teak any detail for your adventuring needs. I’ll be using options from the Player’s Handbook (PHB), Volo's Guide to Monsters (VGtM), the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (SCAG), Eberron: Rising from the Last War (ERLW), Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything (TCoE) and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (XGtE).

1. The Bearbarian.

The Bearbarian, a wild champion who combines the might of warrior and beast.

Once a raider from the cold wastes, our Barbarian found enlightenment in the breath of the wild and spiritual growth. They look back to the friends they found in the beasts of the forest, but growls as the peace they worked so hard for is finally shattered…and it angers them.

This catchy wordplay works for this druid-barbarian multiclass. This multiclass gives us access to a plethora of options, but we’re going to focus on combining the destructive force of a barbarian’s rage with the shape-shifting powers of a circle of the Moon druid.

We postpone picking our barbarian primal path for access to the Combat Wild Shape feature from the druid class. This build also gives us some more utility outside of combat and an extremely powerful beast form that will benefit from our rage.

What the Bearbarian Excels in

  • Amazing durability. Access to Combat Wild Shape gives our bearbarian the ability to rage and transform into a beast in combat. This means you’ll essentially have more Hit Points since you’ll assume the beast’s statistics, and any exceeding damage that takes you to 0 will just carry over to your normal Hit Points.
  • Potent Beast Form. Since you retain your class features while in beast shape, your damage resistance from raging, as well as your unarmored defense, carry over into your Wild Shape.
  • Druidic Magic. Our dip intro druid means that we’ll have more utility, damage and healing spells otherwise outside of our grasp.

Build Details

  • Ability Scores. We’ll use the standard array to get the following: 15 Strength, 14 Constitution, 13 Dexterity, 12 Wisdom, 10 Charisma, 8 Intelligence.  You want at least a 13 in both Strength and Wisdom for multiclassing.
  • Race. For this build, we’ll choose Firbolg. Their ability score bonuses increase Strength by 1 and Wisdom by 2. Firbolgs also gain the ability to understand beasts and plants as well as the power to turn invisible for one turn.
  • Background. Choose backgrounds that fit the mental image of your character. Hermit or Outlander are pretty good bets for our Bearbarian.
  • Equipment. Since the Bearbarian will spend most of its time in beast form, you’ll have little use for most standard equipment.
  • Class. Start a level 1 in the barbarian class. We start with barbarian because it gives us more Hit Points and access to the staple rage feature.
  • At level 2, take your first level in druid. This will give extra healing and utility.
  • At level 3, you’ll gain the Wild Shape feature and pick the Circle of the Moon. You will have access to more powerful wild shapes from the get-go! From here on, you’ll be taking levels in whichever class you like the most, however, we recommend going barbarian and choosing the Totem of the Bear.
  • Every time you gain an Ability Score Increase, make sure to increase your Strength by 2 until you reach a score of 20. Afterward, consider increasing your Wisdom score. 

Spell Selection

Spellcasting is one of the strongest points of this build. You are free to pick spells that fit your needs, so do not shy away from those decisions. Here are our recommended picks that are just great all-around for the Bearbarian.

  • Druid Cantrips: Guidance, Mold Earth.
  • Druid 1st-Level Spells: Absorb Elements, Entangle, Faerie Fire.

Keep in mind that you cannot cast nor concentrate on spells while raging, thus we recommend you pick spells that could help you simplify the combat.

2. The Wrathful Angel

The Wrathful Angel, righteous fury made flesh.

Delivering divine judgment on those that dare mock the word of their god, our barbarian cleaves a path through the horde of heretics that stand in their path. The Wrathful Angel is a barbarian who brings the ire of the gods to bear.

We will focus on raising our damage to match our holy (or unholy) wrath by picking the Zealot, a primal path from Xanathar's Guide to Everything. The Zealot gives our barbarian a notable increase in damage which allows them to eradicate their foes swiftly. As you gain levels, you will also be able to punish your foes from beyond 0 Hit Points.

What the Wrathful Angel Excels at

  • Melting through your enemies' Hit Points. While raging, our first attack every turn gets a powerful damage bonus damage which, combined with a two-handed weapon, amounts to large piles of bodies at your barbarian’s feet.
  • Greater resistance. With this build, our barbarian will become resistant to both radiant and necrotic damage. This means you’ll stay on your feet longer when facing off a wider array of foes!
  • Denying death. As you gain levels, you’ll unlock the ability to facilitate your resurrection as well as simply ignore the fact that you should be dying for a bit. 

Build Details

  • Ability Scores. We’ll use the standard array to get the following: 15 Strength, 14 Constitution, 13 Dexterity, 12 Wisdom, 10 Charisma, 8 Intelligence.  We want to keep our Strength as high as possible.
  • Race. We will pick Aasimar and the Fallen subrace for this build. Their ability score bonuses increase Strength by 1 and Charisma by 2. Fallen Aasimars get the ability to add a bonus to their damage equal to their level starting at level 3.
  • Consider asking your Dungeon Master if they allow the rule which allows you to change which ability scores your race increases contained in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, which would allow you to increase your Constitution or Dexterity.
  • Background. Pick a background that works with the character concept you’re going for. Adept works well with the Wrathful Angel.
  • Equipment. To maximize your Wrathful Angel’s damage, we recommend you take a two-handed weapon, specifically the great sword since it has the highest average damage. Since your starting AC will be low, medium armor would be better than relying on your Unarmored Defense.
  • Class. You will only take levels in the Barbarian class. This will give you access to all the features you will need.
  • Even though our barbarian gets the Unarmored Defense feature, we recommend picking up medium armor as soon as you can to raise your Armor Class.
  • At level 3, Fallen Aasimars gain the Necrotic Shroud feature. For 1 minute you transform into an angel of death, dealing extra necrotic damage equal to your level.
  • If your Dungeon Master uses Feats, take Great Weapon Master at level 4. Afterward, use your Ability Score Increase to raise your Strength by 2 until you reach a score of 20.
  • As you increase your barbarian levels, you will gain the following:
  • Your divine rage will allow you to reroll a failed saving throw.
  • Our barbarian will become capable of inspiring zealotry in their allies, giving them advantage on attacks for one round.
  • Holy Wrath makes our barbarian capable of fighting even while at 0 Hit Points.

3. The Lycan.

The Lycan, a bestial warrior who feeds on their foes.

Living in the fringes of society, our barbarian has tamed the curse which runs through their veins, channeling its ferocity to hunt those that threaten them and protect those they love.

The Lycan is a build that combines the bestial features of the Shifter race with the self-healing powers of the Path of the Beast from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything.

Our build focuses on playing as close as possible as a werewolf, relying on our barbarian’s resilience and the animalistic ferocity we incarnate.

What the Lycan excels at

  • Having excellent survivability. The Shifter race gets the ability to assume a bestial appearance. This gives you a pool of temporary Hit Points which, combined with the barbarian’s already high health pool, makes you difficult to take down.
  • A mean bite. Our barbarian gains the ability to heal whenever they use the attack action to bite if they are below half health.
  • A different approach. This build opens up all kinds of role-playing scenarios, from dealing with a lycanthropic curse to a proud member of a long-forgotten tribe, we get to enjoy the feel of being a werewolf!

Build Details

  • Ability Scores. We’ll use the standard array to get the following: 15 Dexterity, 14 Strength, 13 Constitution, 12 Wisdom, 10 Charisma, 8 Intelligence. 
  • Race. Starting as Shifter and choosing the Longtooth subrace will increase our barbarian’s Strength by 2 and Dexterity by. Additionally, you’ll get the ability to shift for more Hit Points as well as a bite attack which can be used as a bonus action.
  • Background. We recommend picking something which plays into the bestial aspect of the build. The Haunted one works nicely for the Lycan.
  • Equipment. Channeling their inner beast, the Lycan requires no gear save their tooth and nails, this is an excellent choice for campaigns where loot is scarce and equipment is expensive.
  • Class. You will only take levels in the Barbarian class for this build. Our barbarian relies on feral instincts and animalistic impulses to fight forth!
  • At level 3, choose the Path of the Beast for your Primal Path. You’ll gain the ability to manifest a natural weapon when you rage. We recommend you choose the bite every time, for it gives you the ability to heal if you’re below half Hit Points.
  • When you gain an Ability Score Increase, make sure to increase your Strength by 2 until you reach a score of 20. Afterward, consider increasing your Constitution score. If feats are allowed in your game, take Tough.
  • As your lycanthropic powers increase, you’ll gain the following:
  • When raging, the Lycan’s natural attack from the subclass will count as magical. Additionally, you’ll get to choose between a swimming or climbing speed as well as an extended jump for extra mobility.
  • The curse grows. When you successfully harm a foe in battle while raging, you can make them save or they’ll take extra psychic damage or attack a creature of your choice.
  • You become the alpha of the pack. When raging, you can instill ferocity in your allies, bolstering your resilience and increasing their damage.

4. The Invulnerable Scion

The Invulnerable Scion, an unbreakable force with an alien mind.

With a body and mind capable of withstanding any punishment, our barbarian uses their sublime endurance to outlive all threats thrown at them. They are more than just warriors, for they treat every battle as part of the spiritual journey that drives them.

Our approach on this build focuses on combining the defensive qualities of the Path of the Totem Warrior and the racial features of the Kalashtar from Eberron: Rising from the Last War to become resistant to all sources of damage.

Rather than damage, we’re going to focus on turning our barbarian into an indestructible force.

What the Invulnerable Scion Excels at

  • Incomparable toughness. The Totem of the Bear barbarian’s ability to become resistant to most sources of damage while raging means that you will essentially have twice as many Hit Points in most combat situations.
  • Wise insurance. Barbarians usually suffer from low Wisdom saves, making them susceptible to charms and other debilitating spells, however the Invulnerable Scion build grants you advantage to lower those chances.
  • Spiritual Warrior. Combining the Bear totem with the Kalashtar race offers you both telepathy and the ability to speak with animals, letting you bring the flavor of the Invulnerable Scion outside of combat situations.

Build Details

  • Ability Scores. We’ll use the standard array to get the following: 15 Dexterity, 14 Constitution, 13 Dexterity, 12 Wisdom, 10 Charisma, 8 Intelligence.
  • Race. The preferred race is Kalashtar. Their racial ability bonus would increase our Wisdom by 2 and Charisma by 1. However, we’re picking this race for their Dual Mind and Mental Discipline features which grant you advantage on Wisdom saving throws and resistance to psychic damage.
  • If your Dungeon Master allows the rules contained in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, consider asking if you can use your racial ability bonus to increase Strength by 1 and Constitution by 2 instead.
  • Background. Any background will work as long as it satisfies your roleplaying needs or grants you the skills you want.
  • Equipment. Since the Invulnerable Scion focuses on defense rather than offense, we recommend you take a shield and medium armor to get your AC as high as possible.
  • Class. You will only take levels in the Barbarian class for this build. The Invulnerable Scion is a simple yet fun build.
  • At level 3, choose the Path of the Totem Warrior, specifically the Bear totem. This, combined with the Kalashtar race, will make your barbarian resistant to all damage while raging.
  • When you gain an Ability Score Increase, make sure to increase your Strength by 2 until you reach a score of 20. Afterward, consider increasing your Constitution score. If feats are allowed in your game, take Tough and Resilient (Wisdom).
  • As the Invulnerable Scion grows in levels, their connection with their totem shall deepen and maybe even adopt more totems. Your barbarian will:
  • Either further the bond with the bear totem or adopt another’s supernatural might.
  • Commune with the voices of the wind, the earth, and the sky, drawing answers from a spiritual manifestation of their totems.
  • Accept the most powerful gift a totem can confer. We recommend choosing the bear once more, for your foes will have disadvantage on attacks against creatures other than you if they’re within 5 feet, letting you protect your companions even more.

5.  The Skald.

The Skald, a battle poet with an iron grip.

Ranging from the frigid mountains to the north, our barbarian spreads the tales of old and yore, all the while pinning their foes down so they’ll stay and listen.

The skald is a fun barbarian–bard multiclass which plays around with grappling, making sure to lock down our foes so they just can’t help but listen to our next limerick.

We postpone our second attack for access to utility skills, buffs, and a plethora of tools from the bard class. This means that your barbarian is going to become the most effective form of crowd control, you’re going to stride up to your foes and drag them through the battlefield.

In 5th edition D&D, grappling requires a skill check, not an attack roll, so this build lets you put down a foe with a considerable Armor Class and bring a whole world of pain.

What the Skald excels at

  • Controlling the battlefield. By combining a bard’s expertise with the barbarian’s advantage on strength checks while raging, no foe is going to be able to escape your grip!
  • Words of Courage. A couple of levels in Bard grants our barbarian the ability to inspire competence in others, and since it’s not a spell, you can do so while raging.
  • Magical utility. This build gives us access to extra healing and buffs otherwise unattainable by barbarians.

Build Details

  • Ability Scores. We’ll use the standard array to get the following: 15 Constitution, 14 Strength, 13 Charisma, 12 Dexterity, 10 Wisdom, 8 Intelligence. We need at least 13 in Strength and Charisma to satisfy the multiclass requirements.
  • Race. Starting as the Goliath race will bump our Constitution and Strength scores to 16, making your skald a force to be reckoned with.
  • Background. As long as it fits the concept for your character, any background will work. The entertainer background works wonders with the Skald.
  • Equipment. Since this build focuses on grappling, we recommend you use a one-handed weapon as your main source of damage.
  • Class. Start at level 1 in the barbarian class. We begin with barbarian because it gives us more Hit Points as well as access to rage.
  • At level 2, take your first level in bard. Your barbarian can now inspire others as well as the Spellcasting feature.
  • At level 4, you’ll gain the expertise feature and a bardic college. Take expertise in Athletics and Acrobatics to improve your grappling abilities and choose the college of lore. Now you can impose a -1d6 on an enemy’s Attack Roll, Ability Check, or Damage Roll.
  • At level 5, take your second level in barbarian. From here on, you’ll only be taking levels in the barbarian class. Which Primal Path you take is up to you, however, we recommend going Bear Totem for extra endurance.
  • Every time you gain an Ability Score Increase, make sure to increase your Strength by 2 until you reach a score of 20. Afterward, consider increasing your Constitution score. If your game uses feats, take Grappler and Mobile if you have not already acquired one or the other.
  • With all the tools at your disposal, the Skald can dominate the battlefield as a more support oriented barbarian, for example:
  • If a particularly tough enemy threatens your allies, you can walk up to them and pin them down, dragging them away from your compatriots with your expertise and advantage on athletics while raging.
  • Having trouble with a foe with an ax to grind against you? Here's another Athletics based action you can use in place of an attack, and it’s called shove. Knock your foes prone and punish them dearly.
  • Barbarians excel in battle, and when they rage, you can't cast spells or maintain concentration. And so your bard abilities shine outside of battle, during role-play, social interactions, and skill challenges, areas where barbarians usually don’t excel at.

Spell Selection

Our considerable dip into bard gives us access to the cosmic tools which are spells. You are free to select those that fit your campaign or adventuring needs, so don’t hesitate to take them. Our recommended list includes some of the spells that help the Skald shine:

  • Cantrips: Friends, Minor Illusion, Prestidigitation.
  • 1st-Level Spells: Charm Person, Detect Magic, Featherfall, Unseen Servant.
  • 2nd-Level Spells: Enthrall, Mirror Image.

Since Mirror Image is not a concentration spell, you can cast it before raging and benefit from it!

Honorable Mentions

There is no single best way to embody living wrath as a barbarian, however, it is worth noting that some subclasses excel at doing so even when not given a full build. If you want to try out some more flavors of anger, consider the following:

  • The Path of the Ancestral Guardian from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is a great choice if you want to play a warrior devoted to keeping their allies safe.
  • The Path of the Storm Herald from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is sure to give you the feeling of the embodiment of a natural disaster!
  • The Path of Wild Magic from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything is the closest thing to a truly magical, pure barbarian available for now, and its randomness allows for truly unique combat.

A Savage Collection

Like for most other adventurers, strong steel is a barbarian’s most trusted ally. Usually, the biggest, meanest and sharpest weapon available will do, eschewing most armor and shields unless you’re a firm believer that outliving your enemies brings even more honor, 5th edition still offers a wide selection of equipment for you.

Here is a shortlist of items we believe would benefit most barbarians adventuring in the perilous realms of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons:

  • Bracers of Defense: Since most barbarians rely on their Unarmored defense, the +2 bonus to Armor Class from these items will allow you to shrug off more blows.
  • Winged Boots: Barbarians are severely limited in the ranged department, so the ability to fly comes in handy to close the gap with any foe. Don’t let those pesky winged foes escape your wrath!
  • Animate Shield: What’s better than the feeling of blocking a blow with your shield to stab a foe with your sword? That of cleaving a foe in half with a greatsword while your shield magically interposes itself between you and the aggressors.

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Born in a land where the sun forever blazes comes a man with an undying love for gaming, Jose enjoys nothing more than spinning tales about the multiverse of creativity to captivate and inspire.
Gamer Since: 2008
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: World of Warcraft
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dragon Age: Origins, Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn

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