MonoClass Optimizing: Invulnerable Barbarian (5e Optimized Character Build)
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She stood there panting, around her lay hundreds of bodies. Another fool rushed forward to attack, his attack batted away with her shield and finding her spear in his neck. Muscles screamed to lie down and let them rest, but she wasn't done. She was all that stood between this army and a sleeping village unaware of the danger. The thought of these savages killing innocent lives sent a warm pulse through her blood, a new rage waking up. She adjusted her half-plate and took a deep breath, letting it burn with her anger. Releasing a terrifying shout, she readied for the next wave of soldiers.
So, you want to play the biggest beefiest class around and don't want to talk to anybody besides screaming in their face? Well... I guess this is the class for you. This guide will first walk you through a simple and easy build, before then going into an analysis of Barbarians as a whole.
Race and Ability Scores
Race: When looking for a good barbarian race, you looking for one of two things: Strength and Constitution. You can actually choose Dexterity over Strength for a unique playstyle, though you'll deal less damage. Some great options are
- Mountain Dwarves: With +2 strength and constitution, they're ideal
- Stout Halfling: You can do some truly incredible things with this little warrior.
- Humans (especially variants)
- Half-Orc: Built to be a barbarian, all their abilities mirroring the barbarians own.
For this build, we are going to use the Mountain Dwarf. However, don't let that stop you from trying others, they can all work in their own way.
Ability Scores: Most are looking to have a high Constitution score and Strength/Dexterity. We are using Strength today, Point Buy
- Standard Array: Str 15, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8
- Point Buy: Str 15, Dex 14, Con 15, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 8
Using Standard array, the only change to the build will be at the last ASI, taking +2 Constitution instead of the Sentinel Feat. Same with races other than the mountain dwarf.
One of the most common mistakes people make is that they forget Barbarians can wear medium armor and still rage. With 14 dex we can maximize its effect. Below are the weapons and gear you will be using, as well as some magic items to always keep your eye out for.
- Half-Plate (Medium Armor) +1-3: Great AC boost, keep your eyes out for any magical upgrades to it
- Shield +1-3: You're beginning to see how tanky we are going to get. If you managed to get both +3 armor and shield you'd be at 25 AC.
- Spear +1-3: This lets you use Pole Arm Master, a huge boost to the Totem Warriors damage since they can't use their bonus action reliably.
- Staff of Striking: it functions as a quarterstaff, so that's a damage boost with no drawbacks
- Cloak/Ring of Protection: Nice AC boosts, and helps with saving throws
- Boots of Speed: Getting kited is one of the worst feelings in DnD. This helps reduce that.
As a mono class build, you'd be hard pressed to mess this up. However, bellow is a guide to help you find the greatest success.
- Level 3: Totem Warrior Path, Bear totem
- Level 4: Str +1, Con +1 (your now at 18 Str and Con)
- Level 8: Polearm Master Feat
- Level 12: Tough Feat
- Level 16: Con +2 (Maxed at 20)
- Level 19: Either Str +2 or the Sentinel feat.
This gives you the highest maximum health possible in the game. Another option is at 16 to take the durable feat and then at 19 to take Tavern Brawler, also getting you to 20 constitution but having great healing when spending hit dice.
You now have an AC somewhere between 19-25, possibly as high as 27 (Depending on magic items). On top of that is a massive 325 health! However, think back to the bear totem effect. You have resistance to all damage except psychic. That means you have an effective health of 650 since you unlock infinite rages at level 20. If you can get an AC of 25 or higher, your officially competing with the Tarrasque for tankiest creature alive.
General Barbarian Guide
You have the largest hit dice in the game (D12). This solidifies your role as a front-line tank, or damage dealer. You are proficient in all of the weapons, good. You should be hitting people. You can wear Light, or Medium Armor, and shields... But you also get something called "Unarmored Defense." We'll cover that later.
Early Class Features:
These are what define you as your class, the Barbarian. You'll start with Two.
Rage: This makes you into a battle monster, but a social monster as well. People see you as crazy, and murderous. They're right. But you don't care. Raging makes you do more Damage, Take less, and be harder to push around and knock over. You also get good at athletic checks, meaning you can chase that thief up the cliff if you really wanted to.
Unarmored Defense: You don't have to wear armor if your Dex and Con Modifiers are high enough. In fact, you can have a better AC than if you were even wearing armor.
And later on you'll pick up more. This are the ones i took the most notice of.
Reckless Attack: This is what can make you into a huge damage threat, you can make yourself easier to hit, and make it easier to hit things. You don't mind being hit, you have 174 hitpoints, doubled. They don't have that many. So whack away.
Extra Attack: By the time you get this, you were just starting to trail off. Enjoy slamming things twice.
Brutal Critical: Do a serious chunk of more damage when you land a critical on things. They won't be walking away from that.
A summary of later features: Fun Faster, Hit Harder, Hit Even Harder, Don't Die, Have a Maximum of 24 Base Strength and Constitution, Dodge a Wrench so you can dodge a fireball, etc... You become a huge monster on the battlefield. But that's all you get. No social skills, just murder and destruction.
Archetypes (Primal Paths):
You've got two to pick from, the Path of the Berserker, which makes you into even more of a damage threat. If you go this path, i recomend picking up a large two handed weapon, get the Great Weapon Fighting Feat eventually to slam, and jam. You can increase your likelyhood of hitting, even with the -5 from Great Weapon Fighting. Your rage means you'll be hitting hard, and the Frenzy Feature, which can grant you additional attacks on later turns, and Retaliation, which also grants you additional attacks.
And then there's the Path of the Totem Warrior. You get to speak with animals, well... that doesn't really fit the class. If you were worried about fitting the idea of the class, then i would go Berserker. This archetype makes you into a champion of nature. This Archetype can give you some utility that lets you support other front-line fighters, makes you into a good scout, or makes you literally unkillable.
Like every good build, people customize it to fit their needs and create variations. Either tweaked in it's aproach or using material from other WotC products.
(WoTC Rules) Resistance to ALL DAMAGE
This content relies on materials from "Eberron: Rising from the Last War" and you'll want to ask you DM if this is okay. This is AL legal if that is an interest to you.
Race: Kalshtar (+2 Wis, +1 Cha) despite their stat boosts being useless for a barbarian, they have a natural resistance to psychic damage. This is obviously necessary once you see the class feature we go for.
Class: You'll obviously be taking 3 levels of barbarian and choose the Totem Warrior subclass. Select the bear totem option to gain resistance to all damage except psychic.
and like that, you're resistant to all damage in the game! If your just interested in playing a barbarian, max out your barbarian stats. You'll likely just be taking ASI rather than feats due to the kalashtar not offering much for ability scores. If you fancy multiclassing, check out some of the various guides that are on this build, a personal favorite of mine being the Dru-bar-adin (or smite bear) or try out taking 7 levels of rogue and maxing dex for an increadibly tanky character!
Feats: if your really excited about feats, try these out.
- Resilient(Dexterity or Wisdom): feel like you want some extra help on saving throws? This will help you flesh out your character nicely. Warning though, this feat can only be taken once!
- Lucky: free do over an a bad roll? This could indirectly prevent huge amounts of damage, making your already tanky nature reach truly ridiculous levels!