How to Make a Barbarian in 5e, Drawing of Two Ancient Warriors

How to Make a Barbarian in DnD 5e

So, you’re starting a new game and want to make a Barbarian. But, where do you start?

Any class can be a bit overwhelming if you’re just starting Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition.

So, I’ve put together an easy guide on how to make a Barbarian for D&D 5e for you to use. And, hopefully, it’ll make the character creation process a little bit easier.

In this post we’ll cover

  1. Barbarian Ability Scores
  2. Races for a Barbarian
  3. Barbarian Subclasses
  4. Best Feats for a Barbarian

Let’s get to it.

Barbarian Ability Scores

How to Make a Barbarian, Ability Scores, Drawing of a Man Throwing Another Man
Strength is very important for Barbarians so you can do stuff like this

First off, you should know what ability scores to prioritize.

The Player’s Handbook and DnD Beyond’s Barbarian quick build suggestions say you should put your highest ability scores in Strength and Constitution.

I mostly agree with this. But, I will say that Dexterity is just as important. This makes Barbarian’s a little tricky.

Yes, for your basic Barbarian, you want to have a high strength. And yes, Constitution contributes to your Barbarian’s survivability. But, make sure your character has a decent Dexterity score to ensure your Armor Class (AC) doesn’t suck.

This is especially true for Barbarians in 5e because of their Unarmored Defense feature.

A Barbarian’s AC comes from both their Constitution AND Dexterity ability scores. So, this means you can’t dump Dexterity or you’re character’s gonna get hit…like, a lot.

So, what are the most important ability scores for Barbarians in D&D 5e?

Personally, I’d rank them like this:

  1. Strength
  2. Constitution
  3. Dexterity
  4. Wisdom
  5. Charisma
  6. Intelligence

Now, I know I just went on a whole thing about how Dexterity is just as important as Constitution. But, hear me out.

For your basic Barbarian, more hit points benefits you more. With your Rage class feature, your Barbarian needs more health to stay alive.

If you’re just starting out, putting your third highest stat into Dexterity is perfectly fine.

Your initiative and AC might suffer a little bit. But, your increased health makes up for that. Yeah, you’ll get hit more often, but taking half damage with more hit points means you’re not in bad shape.

Next up, let’s look at what race to play.

Races for a Barbarian

How to Make a Barbarian, Races, Drawing of a Person Attacking a Giant
Either of these people could be a Barbarian, to be honest

This plays into which ability scores you should prioritize.

The best races for Barbarians increase your Strength or Constitution.It’s as simple as that. Yeah, you could pick a race that increases your Dexterity. But, that usually depends on your specific build. For a basic Barbarian, Strength or Constitution bonuses are your best bet.

So, which races are those?

Without going into detail and only using the Player’s Handbook, here’s a short list of the best races for 5e Barbarians:

  • Dwarf (Mountain)
  • Human
  • Dragonborn
  • Half-Orc

There are other great races in Volo’s Guide to Monsters and other sourcebooks. But, I figure I’ll limit this post to just the PHB for simplicity’s sake.

Each of these options increase either your Strength or Constitution score. Or, in some cases, both. So, they’re all excellent choices for your first Barbarian character.

Once you have your race, you should start thinking about which subclass you want to play.

Barbarian Subclasses

How to Make a Barbarian, Subclasses, Drawing of Two Vikings
You have two subclass options in the Player’s Handbook; Berserker and Totem Warrior

The PHB only has two Barbarian subclasses called Paths: the Path of the Berserker and the Path of the Totem Warrior.

Again, there are more options in other books like Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. But, I’m keeping it to the PHB for now.

Naturally, both options have benefits over each other. So, I’m going to give a quick rundown of both subclasses.

Path of the Berserker

The Path of the Berserker Barbarian focuses on dealing as much damage as possible.

Berserker Barbarians are pretty simple to play. They’re basically the poster child for the class. Big, angry, strong, not too bright, possibly psychopaths. The full package.

This subclass tends to be easier for new players because of its simplicity.

There aren’t a lot of option with Berserker Barbarians. So, it’s not that hard to learn. But, the lack of options also works against it.

That being said, that’s true of pretty much every Barbarian subclass.

Path of the Totem Warrior

The Path of the Totem Warrior is a fun Barbarian subclass because it gives you options to customize your character. You’re given a choice of animals to change the direction you want your Barbarian to take.

In the PHB, you get to choose from three animals at 3rd, 6th, and 14th levels:

  • Bear
  • Eagle
  • Wolf

Each of the animals grants a different bonus. The best part? You’re not locked in to your animal. So, you get to choose the benefit whenever you’re given the option.

Here’s a general overview of what each choice grants:

Bonuses to damage resistance and strength-based checks
Bonuses to movement including access to a flight speed at later levels
Bonuses to combat with allies and some tracking benefits

So, Totem Warrior Barbarians are a bit more versatile in allowing you to customize your character. In general though, Path of the Totem Warrior Barbarians are a bit tankier than Berserkers.

Each of the options gives your character a bit more survivability either through reducing damage, improving your movement,

Also, the Bear Totem Barbarian is a beast.


That about covers everything on how to make a Barbarian. It covers the basics at the very least.

  • Prioritize Strength and Constitution with Dexterity close behind
  • Any race that increases those ability scores is a good choice
  • You have two options in subclasses in the Player’s Handbook
    • Path of the Berserker: High damage
    • Path of the Totem Warrior: Increased survivability and utility

One last thing to remember on how to make a Barbarian; your role in the party is to take and deal damage. You’re gonna be on the front lines between your enemies and your weaker party members. So, keep that in mind when you start creating your character.

What’s your favorite Barbarian to play? Leave a comment with your favorite story or subclass. Or, leave a question if there’s anything else you’re curious about concerning Barbarians.

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