Rage Your Way Through an Entire Campaign as the Biggest, Baddest, Bruiser in the Party.
Some Dungeons and Dragons players don’t want to cast spells…
Some don’t want to be a thin assassin stabbing with precision…
Some don’t want to be a knight in shining armor…
Some just want to freak out, throw themselves into a fight, and be an unstoppable force destroying everything in their path. And be screaming in anger as they do it.
These are the four types of D&D players that would love to play a barbarian character.
Players That Don't Like to be Restricted by Clothing
More accurately… players that like their character to be in as little clothing as possible. But, if players want their character to be unrestricted by clothing, there’s a good chance they like less clothing, too!
Anyways… The 5e barbarian class is inspired from the Norse and Celtic warriors of history. These warriors would run into battle with nothing but a gold necklace, a shield, and a weapon. To their “civilized” enemies, their bravery and ferocity was terrifying.
And like the celts of old, D&D 5E Barbarians don’t need any armor. They have the highest hit dice of any class in the game (1d12), which means they have way more health than anyone in the game.
Translation: dnd barbarians can soak up A LOT of damage.
They are so unhindered by chain mail and play armor, that they can dodge any attack.
They are so freaking tough that stabs that would be fatal to a normal warrior are mere flesh wounds to a barbarian.
And when they rage (more on that in a second), they get even more defense! Raging barbarian has resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. Meaning that if anyone hits them with a weapon, damage is cut in half.
Furthermore, at higher levels, even after they suffer enough wounds to kill them, they can still keep fighting. Relentless Rage (11th rage) and Persistent rage (15th level) basically make it so the barbarian CAN’T be killed in combat.
Players That Want to Get ANGRY
I mentioned above a “rage mechanic”… what do I mean by that?
The barbarian character class is a simple, easy class to play because it basically has one mechanic… RAGE. Just about everything that makes a barbarian special happens when they rage.
Imagine a samurai… dressed in fine custom armor and silks… cool, calm, and collected… facing an enemy with inner peace… a hundred year old family sword he expertly wields after years of skilled training…
Ok now imagine the opposite of that… a big hulking strong beefy boi screaming in angry bloodlust who hits that samurai so hard his sword, armor and rib cage shatter.
Guess which one is the raging barbarian?
The rage mechanic works like this: a player just says their barbarian enters a rage.. it just automatically happens. They keep raging so long as they can attack an enemy.
While raging barbarians get the following attack benefits:
1) Advantage on all strength checks and saving throws (NO ONE out wrestles a raging barbarian!)
2) Additional damage when you hit … at higher levels (9th, 13th, 17th) you can even add additional damage dice when you critical hit
3) You can choose to Recklessly Attack; you swing so wildly that you get advantage on your attacks, but your enemy also gets advantage.
Players that Want to “Act on their Gut”
So the barbarians class is mostly about combat. But not all the Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition is about combat. A lot of it is about role-playing and expiration. So what is the barbarian to do they are NOT fighting?
Well, they’re probably not gonna be in the library. Usually barbarians dump stat (their lowest stat) is intelligence. Not that they are just straight up stupid, barbarians were just raised outside of society, so they usually are not gifted in any of the liberal arts.
They also probably aren’t going to be a gifted public speaker, able to woo crowds over with their wit, sure. Once again, they were raised outside of society, so they’re usually gonna be pretty socially awkward.
Just like nature, barbarians exist via their instinct…
This is why at 2nd level they cannot be surprised in combat (“Danger Sense”). And at 5th level they move 10 feet faster than everybody else (“Fast Movement”). And at 7th level you have advantage on initiative rolls (“Feral Instinct”).
They go off the gut feeling. They may require a high STR, CON, and DEX ability scores, but if you have another high roll for a stat, definitely put it in wisdom. Barbarians thematically geared for the “going with your gut” skills: perception, insight, survival.
Players Who Prefer the Ancient Ways
The 5e barbarian subclasses are surprisingly different from one another. But regardless of what you choose, no barbarian is modern or civilized. They follow paths trodden in ages past. (Psssst: for more info on barbarian subclasses, check out RPGBOT).
Path of the Ancestral Guardian: Your connection with your ancestors is strong, allowing you to evoke their spirits in battle, defending you as you defend others.
Path of the Battle Rager: (ok, this one is a little modern…) A dwarves in specific barbarian, that wears spiky armor, and just runs and tackles people, impaling them with their very armor.
Path of the Beast: For players who think the barbarian is a little bit too similar to the fighter... instead of weapons, you embrace your wild upbringing and can instantly grow natural weapons like teeth, and claws. RIP AND TEEEEEEAR!!!!
Path of the Berserker: become the most barbarian barbarian that’s ever barbarian-d. Get extra angry… get extra attack… get extra tired after.
Path of the Storm Herald: as if the barbarian wasn’t Viking enough! Channel the power of Thor, evoking, thunder, and lightning around you and into your attacks
Path of the Totem Warrior: Channel your spirit, animal, getting different benefits based on the animal. Eagle has speed in sight, wolf has agility and area control, and bear makes you nearly impossible to kill.
Path of the Zealot: The “religious” of the barbarians… who throw themselves into battle knowing their deity will aid their attacks and protect them from certain death.
Path of Wild Magic: As if the barbarians were chaotic enough, now you can throw in some random magic BS whenever you fight! Who knows what will happen when you next!
Liked this blog, but not sure if the barbarian is for you? Check out some of our other posts on the D&D character classes:
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Based out of Spokane, Riley is a freelance copywriter that combines his love of reading, writing, and people into something useful! He is thankful to be applying his passion for imaginative role-playing to help DnD related businesses communicate their value in the best way possible. He's kinda like a bard giving inspiration, except without the annoying pop covers!