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Rage Against The Darkness: 5E Barbarian Optimisation Guide

In the latest edition of the 5th Edition of the Dungeons and Dragons Roleplaying game, (D&D 5E), the barbarian has been given a complete overhaul. The Barbarian received an increased stat block, new rage powers, and new rage attacks.

This is a short guide on how to optimise your Rage Against The Darkness 5E barbarian character for best results. It focuses primarily on the rules for proficiencies, weapon proficiencies, feats, skills, and equipment. All proficiencies are used to calculate the character’s ability to utilise a given skill. The calculations are done on a character level 1 barbarian in a non-socialized game.

The Barbarian is one of the most balanced and powerful classes in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, so it might come as a surprise that there’s not much in the way of guides out there. This guide aims to fill those gaps, with advice on how best to take advantage of the Barbarian’s strengths, and how to make sure you’re making the most of the abilities you may be missing.. Read more about barbarian 5e and let us know what you think.

Contents


Introduction

So you’re looking to get Barbaric?

In all forms of media, the traditional Barbarian is shown as a skillful warrior who is unclothed and as powerful as an ox.

The Barbarian Class has been around since the dark old days of 3rd-ish edition of Dungeons & Dragons and nodded to in Prestige Classes even before that.

(From Leugren in the comments: “The Barbarian class first appeared in issue #63 of Dragon Magazine way back in 1982 when the first edition of AD&D was at its height. It then appeared again in the original Unearthed Arcana book in 1985.“)

In some ways, 5th Edition manages to recreate the Barbarian fighter.

Your Haunch and Yak Butter are your weapons of choice for melee combat. You’ll be required to be on the front lines of the party as the Barbarian.

You’ll gradually progress, striking harder and more often, while other classes experience power surges. You don’t have the same level of adaptability as other classes (though the new sub-classes can add some variety).

While this 5E Barbarian character guide focuses on mechanics, keep in mind that character optimization may mean various things to different players.

We’ll be looking at a bit more than damage dice and likelihood in this tutorial, since a really effective character is more than the axe’s notches.

This guide expands on previous ones by include new sub-classes from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

Make yourself the best barbarian you can.

Knowing who you are and who you aren’t is the first step in becoming a great Barbarian.

A Barbarian warrior is more than simply a Fighter with more health.

The Barbarian, on the other hand, is rough, blunt, and a force of nature, while the Fighter is flexible, acute, and accurate.

You’ll be playing an amazing game of Risk vs. Reward as a Barbarian. As your opponents pile on, you have layers of resilience to keep you going.

You’re using D12s for hit dice, and while raging, you’ll gain resistances and advantage against common effects. You may even get the capacity to fight beyond death… at least as long as the fury lasts.

In return for greater potential damage, the Barbarian has the option of making oneself easier to attack. As we’ll see later, attacking rashly is a bad idea.

The Barbarian, on the other hand, has the potential to sacrifice part of that defense for some quick offense. It isn’t always the ‘best’ option, but when it is, it may be a devastating addition.

Make the most of the opportunity.


The Barbarian’s Inner Core

If you’re a Paladin, Fighter, or Ranger, don’t worry about spreading yourself too thin. Barbarians place a premium on strength.

There are no significant Dex-based options here (but finesse weapons are discussed in the comments). Strength is required.

Your primary emphasis will be on strength and constitution… with a dash of Dex tossed in to make you more difficult to hit.

We utilize the following color coding when creating character optimization guides:

Sky Blue is a top-tier option that is definitely worth considering. Here is where barbarian optimization begins. Blue = High-quality options that will improve your abilities. This is a fantastic option. Black is a versatile color that may be used in a variety of circumstances. Sometimes there are better options, and sometimes there aren’t. Purple is a color that is a bit on the weak side. It may be useful in certain situations. Depending on your campaign, there may be a better choice. Red indicates that the machine isn’t up to standard. If you’re aiming for a theme for your character, this is still possible, but you’ll be less successful in a straight-up campaign.

Note: We don’t have any “must have” or “Gold” grades since, ultimately, you’ll know more about your character’s theme than I do. There are also fewer “totally awful” options since you may uncover some gold underneath something mechanically poor.

Stats:

  • Str: This is the part when you get pumped. Your whole kit is based on your Strength score, which accounts for almost half of your class’s abilities.
  • Dex: It’s not your primary emphasis, but it’s useful to have. You won’t be able to push this beyond a +2 modifier, but a little more juice will make your life simpler. Con: You’ll want to pay nearly as much attention to this as you do to your Strength. Hit points are much too valuable to be overlooked. It’s much more crucial if you wish to remain unarmed.
  • Int: This is the standard Barbarian dump stat. It has a negative impact on your Int savings, but there are workarounds.
  • Wisdom is linked to perception and certain of your class abilities, therefore you don’t want it to be a negative.
  • Cha: The majority of the talking is done by your weapon and fury. Intimidation may be a factor in deciding whether or not to use a positive modifier. Unless you play Path of the Berserker, it’s not utilized for anything else.

Races:

Half-Orc [+2 Str, +1 Con] The classic Barbarian choice. You get the Intimidation Skill, and the racial bonus to the stats are perfect, with bonus to Strength & Constitution. Darkvision remains a great choice. Savage Attacks with a great axe is super strong starting off at the start.

All in all a great choice for an offensively minded Barbarian. Relentless Endurance is a cool feature, but the Barbarian class does get something similar at level 11: Relentless Rage, but can be used only if you are raging, it’s not automatic & you get to do more than once.

Goliath [+1 Con and +2 Str] The barbarian’s ability scores are almost built for him, the free Athletics skill makes grappling a breeze, and Stone’s Endurance makes an already tough character much more so. Stone’s Endurance, on the other hand, will compete for other response choices, putting these men a notch below the Half-Orc.

dwarven barbarian

[+2 Dex] Aarakocra The ability score boosts are fine, since +2 Dex helps with AC and perhaps weapon use, but it’s the 50ft fly speed that makes these people ridiculous. When you combine it with a polearm for reach and barbarian toughness, you get a character that is unlikely to perish. This is aided by the +1 Wis bonus, which strengthens a frequently attacked save.

[+2 Con] Dwarf This is an excellent option for a Barbarian, however the weapon racial adders seem to be ineffective.

  • Mountain Dwarf [+2 Str] provides a very powerful +2 Strength boost, which is ideal for a martial class.
  • Hill Dwarf [+1 Wis] is excellent for damage resistant tanking because of the increased hitpoints, but the loss of a +2 Strength boost for a +1 Wisdom benefit hurts.
  • Duergar [+1 Str] provides a +1 bonus to Strength, Superior Darkvision, and Innate magic of Enlarge, as well as invisibility, making him an excellent option. However, his Sunlight sensitivity limits him. [SCAG]

[+2 Dex] Halfling Like the Elf, you get increased dexterity, but you also gain the Lucky Racial trait. I like playing a Halfling, but the drawback is that I am a tiny, sluggish creature that is at a disadvantage with traditional Barbarian weapons. I’d become Rogue for a few levels so I could utilize Sneak Attacks with finesse weapons (you can still use Strength with those).

  • Of the two basic subraces, the Stout Halfling [+1 Con] is the superior option.
  • Lightfoot Halflings[+1 Cha] have a considerably shorter stature than Stout Halflings.
  • Halflings who can see ghosts It’s in the same boat as the Hill Dwarf, with the exception that there’s no hotpoint increase and just telepathy. Pass! [SCAG]

[+2 Str, +1 Cha] Dragonborn Although strength is excellent, the Charisma advantage is unnecessary. However, the advantages you get are very good. Resistance to a different kind of damage is always nice, but it’s pointless at higher levels. You do receive an AoE attack that utilizes one of the Barbarian’s secondary ability scores (Constitution) as the DC. A powerful Barbarian with a magic trick under his sleeve, the Dragonborn.

Half-Elf [+1 to Str/Con and +2 Cha] The boost to Charisma is largely squandered, thus this isn’t a usual Barbarian choice. Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, and additional talents are some of the pleasant benefits. On paper, it’s a bit unusual for a Barbarian, but it’s not bad.

  • Half-Elf Variants [+1 to Str/Con and +2 Cha] For the sake of flavor, I’m reducing skills. It’s not appropriate for a Barbarian, in my opinion.

[+2 Con] Genasi You begin with a boost to your constitution. This may not be a terrible option, but there are four subraces to consider. [PotA]

  • [+1 Dex] Air Genasi It might be an excellent option for a Barbarian with Dexterity.
  • [+1 Str] Earth Genasi It’s a good option since you get to travel across tough terrain and get right into the action.
  • [+1 Int] Fire Genasi Flame cantrip, darkvision, and fire resistance I wouldn’t do that.
  • [+1 Wis] Water Genasi It’s possible that this is a worse option than the Fire Genasi.

[+2 Dex] Elf Although the Barbarian Elf is not the greatest choice, darkvision and sleep immunity are excellent mechanical options for a combative class like the Barbarian. The three subraces are ranked in my opinion as follows:

  • [+1 Wis] Wood Elf Each of them has a wasted weapon proficiency, but the Wood Elf has a faster speed that allows you to get to the adversary faster.
  • That would be a nope for Drow [+1 Cha].
  • A double nay goes to High Elf [+1 Int].
  • Even with Misty step [DMG], Eladrin [+1 Int] and a triple nope

Human [All scores get a +1], A Human isn’t the greatest choice for a Barbarian. There aren’t as many racial ability advantages as there are for the other races.

  • Human variant [+1 to Str and Con, plus a feat] It’ll be a different scenario if Human Variant is permitted. As a result, the Human is now one of the greatest Barbarian options, rather than one of the worst. The Half-Orc is somewhat ahead of the Dragonborn, while the Dragonborn is even with the Half-Orc.

[+2 Int] Gnome Because of their tiny stature, they are similar to Halflings, although they lack the advantages of Lucky and the Dex Bonus.

  • Forest Gnome [+1 Dex], the dexterity boost is fine, and communicating with animals isn’t necessary for the Barbarian.
  • [+ 1 Con] Rock Gnome Pass! I simply don’t see it!
  • [+1 Dex] Deep Gnome Bonuses for Darkvision and Dexterity. For a Rogue, it’s adequate, but for a Barbarian, it’s insufficient. [SCAG]

[+1 Int, +2 Cha] Tiefling The numbers aren’t where you want them to be, and the additional benefits aren’t enough to make up for it. You won’t be able to perform the spells if you’re enraged, and you’ll be enraged a lot. The fire resistance is appealing, but other races, such as Dragonborn, may provide you with it.

  • [+1 Int and +2 Dex] Tiefling Variant For a Dexterity-based Barbarian, this would be a fantastic choice with Winged, but you’d lose Infernal Legacy. That’s OK since your Charisma is most likely very low. [SCAG]

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Aasimar [+1 Wis & +2 Cha] Darkvision, resistance and spells. This isn’t a great choice for a Barbarian. At all. Stick with Cleric or Paladin for this race. [Volo] 

Bugbear [+2 Str & +1 Dex] Reach is great, carrying more could be useful for grappling and dragging if that’s your style. Getting extra damage on a surprise attack is just gravy. [Volo]

Hobgoblin [+2 Con & +1 Int] Not terrible but martial training and intelligence is wasted on you. Saving face is good if you’re in a big party. [Volo]

Goblin [+2 Dex & +1 Con] Darkvision, Fury of the Small, Nimble Escape [Volo]

Kobold [+2 Dex & -2 Str] Some interesting ideas here, but the cost is too high.

Kenku [+1 Wisdom, +2 Dexterity] Leave imitation and fabrication to the party’s front man. [Volo]

Lizardfolk [+1 Wisdom, +2 Constitution] Natural Armor, Bite, Cunning Artisan, Hold Breath, Hunter’s Lore Not bad, but much of the Wisdom is squandered here. [Volo]

Tabaxi [+1 Charisma, +2 Dexterity] [Volo] Darkvision, Feline Agility, Cat’s Claws, and Cat’s Talent

[+1 to STR, CON, and CHA] Triton A Barbarian may benefit from two of those stat boosts. Aside from that, your campaign will determine your swim speed, ability to breathe water and air, ability to communicate with aquatic animals, and cold tolerance. Keep in mind that you can’t cast Gust of Wind, Fog Cloud, or Wall of Water when furious since only Gust of Wind utilizes your CHA. [Volo]

Tortle [+1 Wisdom, +2 Strength] [Tortle Package] Claws, Hold Breath, Natural Armor, Shell Defense, Survival Instinct

Tuan-ti Pureblood [+1 Intelligence, +2 Charisma] The numbers don’t add up, and spellcasting doesn’t function while you’re enraged. Pass on this one. [Volo]

[+2 Strength, +1 Constitution] Minotaur It already sounds great to go into combat with horns. You’re putting points into your basic stats, and a furious bull is kicking ass. You receive a somewhat weaker version of the Charge feat for free, as well as an enhanced unarmed strike and a monk-like knock-back. With the extra action competition, the Goring rush makes the Berserker Frenzy a bit less exciting. You may also anticipate creating a labyrinth. [GGR]

Don’t get too worked up over your race selection. While the racial powers and stat bonuses are useful early on, they will become less important as you grow up.

That +1 to your stat has less of an effect on overall performance at 15th level.

Just something to think about while you’re constructing your background. Occasionally, making an intriguing decision may lead to greater enjoyment. Especially if you construct in a manner that I haven’t considered. We prefer to look at survival from our Racial talents since it comes in useful in the early stages when things become difficult.


Features of the Barbarian Class:

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You’re constantly enraged, cap. This is the most important mechanic for you. Your yak butter and mead Rage distinguishes the Barbarian from other martial classes as a force to be reckoned with.

Rage is a layer that is both aggressive and defensive at the same time. You’ll do greater damage and suffer less damage in exchange, and depending on your subclass, you’ll get access to other perks.

When you declare that you’re enraged, you’re not going to stop until all of your foes are dead.

There are a few restrictions to the Rage function that you should be aware of:

  • Heavy armour is not permitted. Shields and medium armour, on the other hand, are acceptable.
  • The melee weapon damage boost only applies to strikes made with Str. This implies you won’t be attacking with Dex (but finesse weapons may still be used if you’re attacking with Strength).
  • Melee weapons are the only ones that function. The Rage boost will not contribute towards your damage when you hurl a javelin with Strength.
  • No Spells: You won’t be able to cast spells while Raging, and you won’t be able to maintain any concentration spells you have going.

Raging has several drawbacks, such as the fact that you must take lengthy naps to recover your Rages. So, depending on how long your adventure day is, you may want to space them out a little.

The flat damage boost is one of the greatest aspects of Rage in battle. More numbers indicate that you’re increasing your damage’s floor.

At low levels, you gain resistance to the three most prevalent kinds of damage. Almost all mundane damage is reduced when raging, especially at low levels. This enhanced resistance (together with the larger health pool) allows the Barbarian to remain alive for longer in melee combat.

Unarmored Defense: When you’re without wearing armour, adding your Con and Dex bonuses to your AC is fantastic. Even better if your DM loves to throw battles at you in the middle of the night when everyone has taken off their armour to slumber.

Note: You’ll want to talk to your DM about how magic goods will affect you. Magic armour will provide modest AC increases to the majority of other players. While you can equal the AC of a chain shirt with +3 Con and +2 Dex, you’re restricted when you attempt to go higher than that. If that’s the route you choose to go, you may still utilize a shield. If you’re searching for non-armour goods to help with this, talk to your DM. (Keep in mind that racial talents do not stack; you must pick the highest one.)

Level 2

Reckless Attack: So what if you let your enemies strike you with an advantage? This doesn’t need any actions, and if they strike you while you’re Raging, the damage is half. Multi-classing with Rogue to obtain automatic Sneak Attacks with finesse weapons may be a nice idea.

You have an advantage on Dexterity saving throws against effects that you can see, like as traps or spells, if you have Danger Sense. Dexterity saves are frequent, and when you combine them with Resilient Feat, this class trait becomes sky blue.

Levels 3–6, 10, and 14

Barbarian Sub-Classes: These are the Barbarian sub-classes you must select from. In their own parts, I go into more depth.

You select a route that affects the nature of your anger at the third level. Your decision gives you features at the third level, as well as at the sixth, tenth, and fourteenth levels.

4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th levels

Ability Score Improvements: When you reach the 4th level, and again at the 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th levels, you may choose to improve one ability score by two points, or two ability scores by one point.

As a Barbarian, you’ll want to increase your Strength and Constitution as soon as possible, thus feats may be tough to come by.

Level 5

Extra Attack: Do extra damage by hitting more frequently. This places you in the same category as other martial arts courses, but the Fighter does it better.

I hope you weren’t wearing Heavy Armour since you can now run faster without it. When you’re playing strategically, this comes into play more. An additional 10 feet gives you a significant advantage in terms of getting within range for more combat.

Level 7

Feral Instinct: Barbarians thrive at taking the initiative initially. You’ll want to get your Rage on before your opponents start throwing damage at you. When the party is startled by Raging, how may they avoid losing actions? Sure, you were bound to anger in the end.

Level 9, 13, 17, and 18

Brutal Critical: This is when you start searching for crit fishing opportunities. You’ll be much more eager to get Advantage and/or assault wildly now. Another method to make use of this feature is to find ways to extend your crit range (3 levels of Fighter, for example). Note that the Half-Orc has a comparable racial trait. It really stacks with this, making critical strikes more riskier.

Level 11

Another trait that works in tandem with a Half-Orc feature is Relentless Rage. If you keep fighting even after you’ve lost all of your health, you’ll become even more difficult to kill. As a result, you’ll be able to play even more recklessly… Keep in mind that the adversary may have another strike that will kill you outright if you have less than 1 HP.

Level 15

Persistent Rage: There’s nothing more frustrating for a Barbarian than having his Rage expire early because he’s out of range. You would lose your Rage if you didn’t attack or take damage if you didn’t have Persistent Rage. This may be caused by a variety of spells or battlefield configurations, so it’s a good idea to keep raging.

Level 18

Indomitable Might is an underwhelming level 18 feature. You already have an advantage if you’re making Strength checks when enraged. Because you’re likely to have 20 Strength, you don’t have to worry about bad rolls (or more with certain magic items)

Level 20

Primal Champion: Now that you’ve reached Demi-God status, you can outlift even the most formidable opponents. Getting ability scores above 20 is difficult, and it almost always requires a cooperative DM. This trait increases the Strength and Constitution scores (and their maximums) by four. This is the Barbarian’s crowning achievement, so it’s no surprise that it’s very spectacular. Rangers, isn’t that correct?


Subcategories: – Primal Paths

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In the PHB, the Barbarian had access to two subclasses, but with the inclusion of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and Sword Coast Adventurers Guide, the Barbarian now has additional choices.

These routes have a distinct flavor to them and serve to flesh out the Barbarian in various ways.

The Berserker’s Path:

Have everything turn red and wake up on top of a mound of corpses for the Barbarian who wants to get in their opponent’s face. You may enter a frenzy, similar to Wolverine from Marvel comics, which allows you to fight more while also having some severe repercussions.

The Berserker isn’t very fancy or flexible; you can attack more and are more difficult to deactivate.

When you’re in a frenzy, you’ll need to be much more cautious about balancing Risk and Reward. If you opt to go into a Frenzy when you start your Rage, you get another attack as a bonus action (carefully note that this makes the ability pretty incompatible with TWF Barbarians).

You gain a degree of fatigue once the fury is finished in return for this additional attack per round. It’s a steep price to pay, and the price continues to rise. If you’re receiving multiples a day, particularly if you don’t get many days off, exhaustion becomes a problem.

That said, one additional attack per round for the duration of the battle is quite powerful.

Levels of Exhaustion

Level Effect
1 On ability checks, you have a disadvantage.
2 Speed has been reduced by half.
3 On attack rolls and saving throws, you have a disadvantage.
4 The maximum number of hit points has been halved.
5 Reduced speed to 0
6 Death

Stopping opponents from Charming or Frightening you and turning you against your friends is great, especially if you’re already a bit of a loose canon.

Intimidating Presence: This is the one time you’ll need some Charisma points. This is an intriguing ability that gives the Barbarian a thematic flavor and allows him to lock down an opponent. Isn’t that fantastic in the end since it requires an action and depends on one of your lowest ability ratings.

Retaliation: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa Another method for gaining an additional attack. You’re almost asking your foes to attack you. That means you’ll want to stay away from any builds that rely on responses for anything else. This is an excellent method for the Berserker Barbarian to increase his damage output each round. Remember that if you can provoke an enemy’s opportunity attack, you may respond on your turn.

The Totem Warrior’s Path:

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Barbarians that follow the path of the Totem Warrior provide their group with a bit extra utility and assistance.

While you will lose part of the Berserker’s additional damage, you will have more intriguing options to make.

Seeker of Spirits: Not really useful. It’s important to note that they are all animal-related rituals. More than everything else, a fantastic thematic/flavor feature. Could come in in if you need to persuade a bear to join your side.

3rd Level Totem Spirit You may now select from FIVE different animals. At each stage, they don’t have to be the same one.

  • Bear – Bears are known for making you tankier, and this is no exception. Gaining tolerance to all types of harm except Psychic makes you very difficult to kill.
  • Eagle – This choice is based on mobility. Dashing as a bonus action makes opportunity attacks more difficult to hit. If you’re meant to be the front line emphasis, this isn’t the best feature, but it may have an entertaining effect in combat.
  • Wolf – Here’s where you can get help. Allies, particularly Rogues and Champion Fighters, will thank you for giving them an edge. This is the alternative where collaboration creates dreamwork. Advantage doesn’t stack and isn’t difficult to get, but with the proper makeup, a guaranteed one may be great. If you don’t have any melee friends, this is obviously less helpful.
  • Elk — Increased speed in the absence of armor. Meh. [SCAG]
  • Tiger and Monk like leaping because, like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, they can shout, “I’m going to bounce.” But that’s all there is to it. [SCAG]

6th Level Aspect of the Beast The five beast choices are the same as previously, however they may be the same or different animals.

  • The bear – Through Rage, you already have a certain method of gaining an edge on Strength checks. In addition, I’m not aware of many DMs that monitor carrying capacity at a granular level. It’s not completely worthless, but it’s a bit too situational.
  • a bald eagle What do you see with your elven eyes? You can perform spell-like effects with some of these totem settings. This one is pleasant, although it is a bit situational. If you don’t already have black eyesight owing to your Race option, not having a disadvantage due to low light is also a plus.
  • Wolf Another one that is dependent on your party attire. You’ll be treading on their toes if you already have a Ranger in your party. This may be helpful if your campaign involves a lot of monitoring and traveling.
  • Elk – You and up to ten friends will move at a faster rate. Unless you have a lot of overland travel or a hexgrid to explore, it’s not terrible, but it’s also not interesting. [SCAG]
  • Tiger – Extra abilities that you may already possess. If you want to be a skill monkey, I guess [SCAG] is the place to be.

10th Level Spirit Walker A unique flavor choice that allows you to communicate with a spirit animal. If you use the knowledge the DM provides you wisely, the Commune with Nature spell may be quite useful.

14th Level Totemic Attunement – The final totem beast you’ll select is this one. Again, from a list of five options:

  • If you’re not tanking, go with Eagle. Bear – This has to be the greatest Tank ability.
  • A excellent method to strike flying animals is with an eagle.
  • Wolf – You’ll forego damage in exchange for usefulness. Because there is no save, this is a lot of fun. If you strike the opponent, they will fall to the ground.
  • Elk – With a Bonus action, knockdown and damage. This is a DC that is based on Strength. [SCAG]
  • Tiger has the ability to charge an extra action. It seems to be a bit flimsy. [SCAG]

The Battlerager’s Path [SCAG]

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There is a Dwarf limitation, which is the only thing holding this back. Because this is mainly a holdover from the books, your DM may be willing to lift the limitation.

Battlerager starts off a little slow, but with Reckless Abandon, it explodes!

3rd Level Battlerager Armor — This doesn’t have anything going for it. You gain a bonus action to strike a monster for 1d4 piercing damage, bringing your AC to 16. It seems to be a waste. Abandonment with Haste 6th Level – Gain temporary hit points, transforming you into a super tank. It’s really beefy. Battlerager Charge 10th level – Get a bonus dash action to pursue down prey. It’s not terrible. 14th level Spiked Retribution – Deals automatic damage to anybody who hits you. You’ve got what it takes to take on the horde!

The Ancestral Guardian’s Path (XGE)

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For the barbarian who want to defend his or her companions.

The goal of Path of the Ancestral Guardian is to get your opponents to concentrate on you. Although the subject is intriguing, there isn’t much to see here.

Ancestral Protectors 3rd Level — This ability is similar to the 4th edition defenders mark ability. A fantastic method to keep your pals safe. It’s worth noting that it only counts the first target you hit, not the last. So, if your first assault kills a creature and you use a second attack on a different creature, you’ve squandered this ability.

Spirit Shield 6th Level – Not nearly as effective at mitigating large assaults as the Lore Bard’s Cutting Words. However, you can avoid a reasonable amount of damage every round. Make advantage of your response to reduce the amount of harm you do.

10th Level Consult the Spirits — Isn’t that what Clerics are for? For a 10th level ability, this isn’t exactly what I’m looking for. Barbarians are known for charging in without scouting beforehand.

14th Level – Vengeful Ancestors This is a little improvement, since it guarantees damage while also decreasing harm to friends. Force harm is often not withstood. This Spirit Shield is also 4d6 by the time you receive it.

The Storm’s Path Herald (XGE)

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For the Barbarian who likes to jump right into the action.

The Storm Herald Barbarian wants to get as near to the opponent as possible, since the Auras are only useful when used up close.

3rd Level Storm Aura – You may change your aura every time you level up, which is OK. The range is adequate, but it depletes your extra action if you repeatedly activating these skills while raged. Your campaign will be given a higher rating if it is anticipated to take place in one of these three settings.

When you earn a level in this class, you may alter your environment preference. If the effects of your aura need a saving throw, make one with a DC of 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Constitution modifier.

  • Desert. Just by coming near to you, every opponent suffers inescapable fire damage? For optimum impact, wade into a horde of minions. Avoid standing near your pals.
  • Sea. Damage is increased, but only to one target. However, lightning is seldom resisted, so that’s a plus.
  • Tundra. Keep in mind that temporary HP does not stack, so this isn’t as good as it seems. This may become more powerful in a melee-heavy group.

Storm Soul 6th Level – The storm gives you advantages even if your aura isn’t active at this level. The advantages are determined by the Storm Aura’s surroundings.

  • Desert: While fire damage is commonly withstood, it is also a frequent form of harm on creatures. The resistance here is excellent for the same reason that the damaging aura is bad.
  • Lightning damage to the sea is uncommon. However, the environmental benefits of swimming speed and underwater breathing are arguably the most beneficial.
  • Tundra: Cold damage isn’t as common as fire damage. The ice-cube-making effects are cute, but you’ll have a hard time finding a more practical use.

Shielding Storm 10th Level – You may now give those in your aura the resistance earned through storm soul. The desert comes out on top here; you’ll never have to worry about a fireball again! The other kinds of injury aren’t as frequent, thus they’re not as helpful, but they may save your skin on occasion.

Raging Storm 14th Level – At 14th level, the storm you control becomes more powerful, striking out at your enemies. The impact is determined on the Storm Aura’s chosen surroundings.

  • Desert: Better than the damaging aura, but only by a small margin, and with the same damage type restriction.
  • Sea: A powerful ability that may help you and your friends gain an edge.
  • Tundra: This seems to be a smart idea at first sight, but your aura’s limited range (plus the overall flexibility of higher level monsters) make it less effective.

The Zealot’s Way (XGE)

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A route worthy of Tempus!

Combining a wide range of destructive, defensive, and utility choices to create a powerful barbarian that will make you want to find religion.

3rd Level Divine Fury — This doesn’t scale well, but a half-smite is always in vogue. Radiant damage is extremely helpful in most campaigns.

Warrior of the Gods 3rd Level — This is dependent on the severity of death in your campaign. You’ll also need to make sure that someone with Revivify or anything similar is around to assist you.

Charms and holds are more likely to take you out of a battle as a barbarian than raw damage. Fanatical Focus 6th Level — As a barbarian, charms and holds are more likely to take you out of a fight than raw damage. Allowing the big evil to turn you against your group or quell your anger is a poor idea. It’s dull yet wonderful.

Zealous Presence 10th Level – This is excellent for larger groups since the benefit may be shared among up to ten allies. When you consider how many assaults and saves may happen in a single round, this is a significant amount of time, yet its use is severely restricted (once per long rest).

Beyond Death Rage 14th Level – Wow, this is incredible. You’re good to go if you have a Goodberry in your pocket. If that fails, you may always rely on Warrior of the Gods to resurrect you.


Skills & Backgrounds:

You’re good at taking and dealing with harm. You aren’t supposed to be the group’s skill monkey. Leave it to the small blades of Bards and Rogues.

Barbarians, on the other hand, get an advantage on Strength-based checks when Raging. Athletics is a Strength-based skill, but with the proper flair and a willing DM, you may be able to perform a Strength-based Intimidation check.

Don’t be scared to mix and match your skill selections to make your character unique. Even if a skill is mechanically poor, it may still be beneficial to the whole party.

Class abilities:

Animal Handling: If you’re a Totem Barbarian who often interacts with animals, this skill may come in useful. The Druid or Ranger is usually in charge of this. Athletics is the most important Strength talent. You’ll want to know how to do this as well. Climbing, leaping, running, and lifting are all included. All of the enjoyable physical activities. Intimidation: Charisma won’t help you much, but this talent will be more useful than Persuasion or Deception. However, as I previously said, there are methods to do a ‘Strength-based intimidation check,’ therefore you should be competent in this. Nature: Despite its thematic relevance, Int is your standard dump stat. When the DM asks for a perception check, it’s virtually never a good idea to roll poorly. Perception will come in handy along your journey. Survival: This is a campaign-specific item, although it is thematically meaningful and useful regardless.

Non-class abilities:

Acrobatics may be very helpful. It’s not as essential to you as Athletics, but it’s useful if you want to leap from great heights. Sleight of Hand: This is a job for the world’s rogues and bards. You’re a bit more forthright in your approach. If you don’t have those kind of individuals at your party, it might be entertaining. Stealth is a skill that may be useful in a variety of situations. Usually to set up a trap or to get into position. Give it a go if you have any Dex modifier and little or no armour. Arcana: Is it possible to learn from a book? Magic? These items are unnecessary for Gronk. History: Unless you’re extremely interested your tribe’s lore and history, this isn’t a good fit for you. Investigation: Almost everyone will improve in this area. Allow them to examine the room’s remnants once you’ve demolished it. Unless you’re a Zealot, you’d be a Cleric or a Paladin if you desired religion. Insight: Knowing whether someone is lying to you or ready to use their weapon is helpful. Medicine: Just put some dirt on it; academics will figure out what intestines OUTSIDE the body signify. Deception is a useful skill to have, but others in your group are likely to be better at it. Before the journey, you could have been a circus strongman. If not, I’d steer clear. Fear and adoration are two types of respect that may be used to persuade others. In nine out of ten cases, Barbarians would be better off using Intimidation.

Backgrounds:

Most backgrounds provide you with two additional abilities, such as tool proficiency or a language, as well as a specialized benefit. Better at fleshing out your character’s narrative than giving any significant technical advantage.

Speaking with your DM about what your background will signify in the world they’re creating for you is one of the greatest things you can do.

[insight/religion] Acolyte: This is an unusual decision that may lead to a fascinating tale. Religion isn’t the best talent, but Insight isn’t bad. Although it is not a typical Barbarian speciality, the other languages may be helpful. The benefit is entertaining and flavorful, but it may be game or DM specific.

[deception/sleight of hand] Charlatan: Another unusual pick, but one that might be entertaining. The two toolkits may give your Barbarian a weird layer. The perk may be used to offer some interesting roleplaying possibilities. Most Barbarians will be uncomfortable with this, but it isn’t a terrible option.

[deception/stealth] is a criminal term. Stealth and Thieves Tools are excellent mechanical options, particularly if you don’t have a Rogue in your party. The benefit of having a criminal contact varies depending on the campaign, but it is not to be overlooked.

[acrobatics/performance] entertainer With this combination, I always imagine someone like to a circus strongman. Acrobatics and Performance are useful abilities, but they don’t really apply to the average Barbarian. The perk does provide some enjoyable possibilities for character development.

[Animal handling/survival] is a folk hero. Although both abilities are included in your curriculum, the tools may be helpful. It’s a fun character option, but the mechanics aren’t very impressive.

[insight/persuasion] Guild Artisan This is the kind of decision that may help define a character while also providing some entertaining possibilities. The crafting rules, on the other hand, make this a highly campaign-specific game. Well, without a lot of downtime…

[medicine/religion] Hermit This is arguably your weakest Background in terms of mechanics. The talents are incompatible with your abilities, and the benefit is vague. If I had to choose just one background to avoid, it would be this one.

[history/persuasion] Noble: It may require some excellent narrative skills to pull this one off, since it is almost the polar opposite of a conventional Barbarian. The skills aren’t a good fit for you, but having access to the Gaming Kit might be enjoyable.

[athletics/survival] Outlander Probably the most famous Barbarian background. The two talents are already on your list, but one of them is Athletics, which is fantastic. It’s good to have a second language, and the musical instrument may help to flesh out your persona. The perks are great, but they do tread on the Survival skill’s toes a bit.

[arcana/history] Sage: For a Barbarian, he’s a bit like the Hermit. The two languages are lovely, but the rest is a bit of a letdown.

[athletics/perception] Sailor You have two of the greatest abilities. It’s even better if you get a free ship trip. The benefit is campaign-specific, but it might be helpful. Much fun may be had if you utilize the Pirate Variant!

Soldier: [athletics/intimidation] There’s also a lot of talent potential here. However, I find the benefit to be very limiting. For it to be helpful, it basically needs DM kindness.

Urchin: Who knew Urchins could be so talented? Stealth is a fantastic ability to have, and both Thieves Tools and the Disguise Kit are enjoyable to use. The perk is also very good, with plenty of room for it to shine in a variety of campaigns.


Feats:

Alert — Always a good option, but somewhat less so for a Barbarian who is already less affected by a Surprise round.

Athlete – This is a situational term. In an action/adventure game, the effects are fantastic, but in a straight hack and slash game, they’re less so.

Actor – Flavorful, but a terrible pick for a mechanical.

Barbarians make the most of individual actions as Chargers. This is a fantastic technique to get more oomph out of them. Because you should almost always go first in combat, this is a fast method to go to the opponent and either deal damage or arrange the battlefield.

You’re a crossbow expert, but ranged combat isn’t your strong suit. Pass.

You don’t do finesse, Defensive Duelist. Pass.

Dual Wielder – This is an excellent method to get some additional damage, but be cautious. This is incompatible with Frenzy, and it can’t be used with the Wolf Totem knockdown or in the same turn as Rage. Otherwise, it gives you the opportunity to do more Rage damage, which is a good thing. With proper preparation, it can work, but it may not be the greatest use of your Bonus Action. Take care while approaching. The main problem with this accomplishment is that to be competitive, you almost *have* to dive into either Fighter or Ranger to acquire the corresponding Fighting Style. It’s probably not a top tier option if you have to multiclass away from your main class to be viable.

Dungeon Delver – Situational, with class skills that mimic some of the characteristics. Delicious, but maybe not the best option.

Durable – Someone with a greater understanding of statistics should be able to figure this one out. It’s not awful, but it’s also not a top-tier option, in my opinion.

Elemental Adept – If I say no, believe me.

Grappler – Because the Barbarian has a natural propensity for grappling, this feat may be useful. This accomplishment allows you to confine an opponent, which may be helpful and fits nicely into the Risk vs. Reward gameplay style. It’s a bit situational, but it’s a great technique to use when it’s appropriate.

Master of Weapons – There is no reason not to take this accomplishment if you intend to use a Great Weapon. The cleave effect is fantastic, but keep in mind that it depletes your bonus action. The part of the feat that enables you to accept a penalty to hit isn’t my favorite, but I despise anything that interferes with my to hit. The details will have to be worked out by someone who is better at math.

Healer – This isn’t the Barbarian’s bag at all.

Heavily Armoured – A poor decision. Heavy Armor isn’t allowed by too many of your class’s characteristics.

Heavy Armor Master – As said before.

Inspiring Leader — For the average Barbarian, the Charisma investment is a little expensive.

Keen Mind – The average Barbarian receives no advantage from this ability.

Lightly Armored – You’ve already shown your worth.

Linguist – There are more effective methods to learn languages. Aside from character considerations, this is outside of the average Barbarian’s comfort zone.

Lucky – If you want to increase your tankiness, this is a great accomplishment to do. The additional rolls may come in handy in a hurry, and recovering them after a lengthy rest allows you to integrate them well into your Rages.

Slayer of Mage – This accomplishment, although somewhat specialized, works nicely with a Barbarian, particularly one who emphasizes on mobility. Given how devastating a well-played caster can be, this ability may be a lifesaver.

Magic Initiate – You’re not dressed properly for casting. You can’t cast when in a Rage, and outside of utilitarian or character motivations, you won’t gain anything out of it.

Martial Adept – A person who has just one superiority. This ability is harmed by dying. It’s not terrible, but the effect of a single d6 die isn’t very substantial. There are better alternatives.

Medium Armor Mastery – Because your Con is usually greater than your Dex, this accomplishment may be limited in its use. You may notice some advantage if you go for the Medium armour path, but your stats may line up better for the unarmored route, in which case you should avoid it.

Mobile — If you’re going for the Eagle Totem’s high mobility option, this may be a useful addition to your skill set. This is dependent on your party look.

No, it’s not moderately armored.

Mounted Combatant – Do you wish to play as a mounted fighter with your Barbarian? If so, accept this challenge. If not, go ahead.

Observant – Because perception is so essential to a group, this skill is worth considering if yours requires a spotter. Others, on the other hand, may have a natural love for the position, so it all depends on the emphasis of your character.

Master of Polearms – This accomplishment is quite popular among melee character builders, and for good reason. It’s fantastic to be able to utilize your opportunity attack on individuals closing in on you. Just be mindful of how you include it. This accomplishment loses some luster if you become a Berserker and acquire the Retaliation ability. Before collecting this accomplishment, make sure you understand what you are spending your Actions on on a regular basis, as well as what you *will* be spending your Actions on in the future. However, depending on the Action economy of this version, the Barbarian may make incredible use of this. Make sure to plan your construction appropriately.

Resilient – If you want to beef up your defenses a little, this is a good option, but it comes at a high price in exchange for extremely specialized survival. If your DM loves to throw Hold Person at you on a regular basis, this becomes very useful. If not, it will lose part of its punch.

Caster of Rituals – You won’t likely have the Int, but you may have the Wis to get this. To be honest, this is a character-specific decision. Is it in line with your vision? Then go for it. Otherwise, it’s generally best to stay away.

Savage Attacker: A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ This has the potential to transform a bad assault into a fantastic one. Even though you may only use it once each turn, the more attacks you make, the more probable this will shine.

Sentinel – This achievement is incredible. It makes you stickier and punishes anybody who tries to be charming by moving around you. You have an excellent attention-getting skills when combined with the Bear Totemic Attunement.

Sharpshooter – You’re unlikely to employ ranged attacks often enough to justify a feat commitment.

Shield Master is a fantastic method to boost your survival. It’s wonderful to take no damage from Dex-related saves, and because you already have an edge on such saves, that’s a lot of damage you can escape. This feat is an excellent choice if you employ a shield.

Skilled — If you don’t have a particular idea in mind, skip here. There are more effective methods to acquire abilities.

Skulker – This fat is unusual for a standard Barbarian, but if you intend on being sneaky (which is quite possible), it’ll come in handy.

No, you can’t spell Sniper.

Tavern Brawler – A nice flavor, but unless your DM skews the game in that way, or unless you really want to invest in a Grappler, you aren’t going to get a ton of usage out of this unless your DM skews the campaign in that manner.

Tough — Someone with a greater understanding of arithmetic may disagree, but I’m not convinced of the benefit. Instead, increasing your Con by 2 grants you 1 additional hit point each level, a stronger Con save, and perhaps a boost in AC. I believe the Barbarian can do better.

Caster of War – You aren’t a sorcerer.

Weapon Master – You are already an expert with all of the game’s weapons.

 


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Multiclassing:

I’d want to take a short look at a few possibilities here, as well as the idea of a “dip” to get some goods from another class.

However, I’m going to leave some of the finer aspects of multiclassing up to the player, particularly anything that detracts from the character’s Barbarian majority.

The stat requirements are the most difficult aspect of Multi-Classing with the Barbarian.

While fulfilling the Str or Dex criteria is not difficult, Wis-based courses are more difficult, and Int or Cha-based classes are almost definitely impossible.

I’m not going to give this part a color rating since it’s more about character development than actual optimization. I’ll only share a few ideas with each class.

This is, as usual, intended for characters that are mainly Barbarian. That is, if the character reaches level 20, at least 11 of those levels must be Barbarian.

Bard — For the average Barbarian, the CHA investment in Bard is too high. While this creates a unique character, the mechanics don’t always work well together. Because you can’t perform spells while Raging, it’s difficult to justify the experience. Still, if you want to be more of a skill monkey or have a limited variety of spells to employ when you aren’t Raging, this is a route worth considering.

Cleric – While the Wis requirement may be difficult for certain races/builds, it should be achievable. The most significant disadvantage is that you will not earn as much as other classes if you choose this path. The majority of people are searching for Martial Weapons (which you already have) or Heavy Armour (which you don’t desire). The Nature Domain, on the other hand, is thematically fitting, and although it makes you an unusual Barbarian, the Divine Strike ability at 8th level may be a delightful addition.

Druid – With this one, I’ll confess to some prejudice. The notion of a shape-shifting Bear Barbarian appeals to me. In my opinion, a roaring bear is a lot of fun. The 13 Wis, like the Cleric, is rather build dependent, thus it may not be the greatest option.

Fighter – This is the most natural option. Even a few Fighter levels may offer you a lot of flexibility in terms of how you play. Although the Champion sub-class has a more traditional match theme, I prefer to take the Battle Master way. It’s wonderful to have on-demand skills that create effects and increase damage, particularly when they recharge quickly. Most Barbarians lack the Int necessary to succeed as an Eldritch Knight, but it is possible to do it with just Abjuration spells.

Monk – Depending on your build, the Wis may be problematic. The main problem with this combination is that it has some inherent incompatibility. Martial Arts may only be used using Monk weapons, which are uncommon among Barbarians. You also can’t use a Shield, which means tank builds are out. This leaves you with either a dual-wielding build or a quarterstaff-wielding Polearm Master construct. Another obvious problem is that the Unarmoured Defense ability is being squandered. This isn’t to suggest that it’s a terrible construction; it’s simply that it’s unusual and will need some creative thinking to pull off.

Paladin – You’d think a holy avenger Barbarian would be fantastic, but the CHA investment is very difficult to come by. Rage makes it impossible to perform spells, although Divine Smite isn’t really a spell. I enjoy the taste and the excitement of the combination, but it simply doesn’t work out technically. Perhaps a Path of the Zealot would suffice.

Ranger – You can easily fit into this combination as well. The only major problem is that multiclassing with the Fighter yields a lot more benefits than multiclassing with the Ranger. Still, conceptually, this is a great match, and mechanically, it’s not awful at all. However, part of the problem stems from the fact that spellcasting accounts for a significant portion of the Ranger’s “oomph.” It’s a clumsy match at best since you can’t do this and Rage at the same time. Surprisingly, a few levels in the Hunter archetype may really improve your tanking abilities. Horde Breaker and Escape the Horde, strangely enough, may help you with your multi-enemy skills.

Rogue – This is a great option for a themed build, but the limitations on Sneak Attack make it difficult to combine with a normal Barbarian. Cunning Action, Uncanny Dodge, and Evasion are the money abilities granted by the Rogue.

All of these may be very beneficial to your tanking. The Assassin Archetype provides you with a number of helpful tools as well as the Assassinate ability, which works well with the Barbarian.

Sorcerer — The CHA requirement is still a major concern. The second issue is that the Sorcerer depends so much on casting, which doesn’t work well with Rage. It’s not an impossible combination, but you’ll probably have some problems with battle effectiveness.

CHA rears its ugly head once again as a Warlock… Warlocks are a weird beast in that they seem to have synergy, yet their total efficacy is harmed since so much of what they do is based on casting spells. For me, this seems to be mostly a two-level drop for certain flavor abilities, but not much more.

Wizard – Hooray! No way, Cha! Boo! Int! The Wizard, like the Sorcerer, relies so heavily on spellcasting that it’s impossible to work with the Barbarian. There isn’t much to say about the pairing unless you’re looking for a particular flavor combination.

More on a foray into the world of fighters.

In other words, you take a level or two of another class to acquire certain skills or competence that you don’t have.

The Barbarian may profit from this in general, but not as much as other classes. Most conventional dips have less value because to the Barbarian dislike to bulky armour.

So, whereas other characters may acquire Heavy Armor by gaining a Fighter level (at level 1), the Barbarian does not have that advantage. This does offer the Barbarian the advantage of not having to take a level in another class first, which may seriously detract from your character’s overall idea.

Fighter 1 or 2 levels — The advantages are fairly self-explanatory. A minor self-healing skill that is useful at early levels but loses oomph as you level up, as well as the Fighting Style ability. Fighting Style is a fantastic skill to have.

The Duelist’s ability to burst out extra damage favors a tankier Barbarian with a shield.

Because you’re adding ability modifier damage (and additional fury damage) to the extra attack, a Two-Weapon Fighting Barbarian gets a lot of extra damage.

The GWF-related ability is also great, and it helps raise your damage floor, although it’s a little lower than the guaranteed damage of the other two.

The rest, on the whole, aren’t nearly as good.

You have two choices if you wish to play the third Fighter level. If you’re considering crit-fishing, the Champion Improved Critical ability is very powerful. But it’s an all-or-nothing proposition.

It may not be all that if you don’t work at crit fishing. The Battle Master, on the other hand, grants you several fantastic utility skills as well as enhanced damage when you use them.

It’s also good to regain your damage dice after a brief rest, since it gives you something to do in between Rages.

Other dips are available, but they do not provide the same level of return on investment as the Fighter dip.

Weapons of Choice:

The Barbarian has some strange restrictions on the kind of weapons that are really effective for them. Rage necessitates the use of a Str-based melee weapon, thus finesse and ranged strikes are out. Finesse weapons may be utilized with either STR or DEX, as David pointed out in the comments.

For the Attack and Damage Rolls while using a finesse weapon, you may use either your Strength or Dexterity modifier. For both rolls, you must use the same modifier.

https://roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Weapons#finesse

This leaves you with one of three options for Str-based attacks:

Great Weapon — The most straightforward route to great damage, but not always the best. Feat synergy is powerful, but it is feat-intensive, affecting your numbers. It’s a classic Barbarian, however, and it’s still a good option that’s not too expensive in terms of Actions.

Look into the Polearm Master and Great Weapon Master feats, as well as the Sentinel ability. The Maul and Greatsword, or the Glaive and Halberd if you take the Polearm path, are the best weapons for sheer damage.

Two-Weapon Fighting – The 1 level drop in Fighter to gain your Str damage on your off-hand weapon helps this build a lot. It also very certainly requires the Dual Wielder ability (which has a small increase in AC, which is just gravy here).

This construct has the most potential damage each round, but you must be cautious with your extra actions. Remember that Rage, as well as other feats like the knockdown from the Wolf Totem ability, all cost one.

Choose two of the following weapons: Battleaxe/longsword (slashing), Morningstar (piercing), or Warhammer (piercing) (bludgeoning). That said, if your idea includes two similar weapons for visual harmony, go for it!

Sword and Board — It’s always good to have more survival. A Barbarian with a shield is an excellent tank. Because your skills synergize so effectively with the Shield Master feat, a Barbarian with a shield and the Shield Master feat makes for one of the greatest tanks in the game.

With the Duellist Fighting Style, a one-level jump into Fighter will help you increase your damage. The battle-axe, long sword, and war hammer are the weapons of choice here.

No Armor vs. Armor

In general, your stats will decide whether you should choose for medium armour or no armour (light armour is seldom applicable). Which choice is ideal for you will most likely vary as you level, and will be influenced by your money and stats.

Depending on your race and stat distribution, your Dex modifier will likely vary from +1 to +3, while your Con modification will most likely be in the +2 to +3 range.

AC 15-16 is the sweet spot. At level 1, that’s the best you can get with Medium armour, coupled with a +2 Dex mod. (If you worry about sneaking, you’ll get a Chain Shirt with a basic AC of 13, but if you don’t, you’ll get Scale Mail with a base AC of 14.)

When your Con + Dex modifiers add up to a +5 or greater AC bonus, you’re probably better off going unarmored. If not, you’ll have to settle with medium armour city.

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