DnD 5e Path of the Giant Barbarian Handbook

Elemental fury given to flesh
Raw strength on a level mere mortals cannot contest
The embodiment of earth, wind, water, and fire

Forged in Crimson – FFXIV


What if you wanted to be Large and have Giant-themed fighting abilities? But also didn’t want to be a Rune Knight Fighter? Well, conveniently, Bigby’s Glory of the Giants brought with it the Path of Giant Barbarian. You get big and hit things real hard when you Rage. There is a little more to it than that, but that is the heart of what we’re here to talk about. So come on, Bruce Banner, Hulk Smash!

Being large sure is appealing, but is there really more to this? Maybe you’re more into The Mighty Thor? Does throwing a hammer (or ax) made of Lighting (or a handful of other elements) that returns to you after every throw sound appealing? I hope so, because I’m out of superhero analogies.

Table of Contents


RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released, and the article will be updated accordingly as time allows.

Path of the Giant Features

  1. Giant’s Power: You learn Giant and get a minor utility cantrip. It doesn’t hurt us but it’s hard to find much use for this. It’s a ribbon feature for fun and not much else.
  2. Giant’s Havoc: This is great and a large part of the reason you are this subclass.
    • Crushing Throw: In isolation, this is green because not every barbarian will throw things. When we later get Elemental Cleaver, of course, that feature is very much standing on the shoulders of giants thanks to Crushing Throw but if you were just dipping in for large size, this may or may not be used but it’s not a bad option to play with.
    • Giant Stature: Get angry and become large. Same shenanigans as Rune Knight apply, you can go from small to large and you can be enlarged to huge after raging. And read the text very carefully: The increase to reach has nothing to do with the size change.
  3. Elemental Cleaver: This feature does multiple things. First and foremost it changes your weapon’s damage to an element, then it adds an additional 1d6 damage on top of that. Then it gives any weapon you add the Thrown property, which builds very nicely off of Crushing Throw. And, finally, if you do throw the weapon, it immediately returns to your hand in time for the rest of your extra attacks. A lot of people will take this subclass so they can be large, but this here is the real power behind the Path of the Giant: the first barbarian that’s fully functional at range.
  4. Mighty Impel: If throwing weapons isn’t enough for you, with Mighty Impel you can also throw creatures. Reposition willing allies or just start juggling your foes. As a bonus action. The 30-foot range is easily enough to put enemies into dangerous locations like an ongoing spell effect or into positions where they can’t fight back, such as in a pit, out a window, or on a high ledge where their melee weapons can’t reach anyone. It’s only green because occasionally you won’t fight something small enough for you to just throw into the sky for free falling damage and prone.

    Remember that you can do this before attacking, so you might choose to use this and forgo Reckless Attack for the round.

  5. Demiurgic Colossus: Get larger (if you choose), have more reach (independent of size changing), and do more damage with your Elemental Cleaver.

Path of the Giant Ability Scores

This is still a Barbarian. We want our Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution. Hit things hard and laugh off damage.

Str: With a high Strength, we will indeed hit things hard.

Dex: We can either get away with just 14 to work with medium armor or go all in alongside Constitution for Unarmored defense.

Con: This will keep us alive, and like Dexterity above, we can choose to focus on it for Unarmored defense or leave it somewhere more average if we need wiggle room for feats.

Int: We don’t need it to be good at Barbarian. Or Giant. But we won’t stop you from being a brilliant scientist when you’re not Hulked out.

Wis: Perception, Insight, and other related checks and saves are good to be good at. So if you do have points for it then you can be aware so you don’t get Clobbered.

Cha: You’re seeing a pattern here: It doesn’t take much to be good enough at Barbarianing so you might have some room for talking things out.

Point BuyStandard Array
Dex14 (15)13
Con14 (15)14
Int10 (8)10
Wis10 (8)12

Path of the Giant Races

Check out the Barbarian Races Breakdown for anything not discussed here.

Traditionally, being Small or smaller was a hindrance to Barbarians because they want big heavy weapons for big heavy dice. But if you grow to Large or larger whenever you Rage, that’s less of an issue. This doesn’t mean that every small race gains in color rating, but some of the stronger greens might become blues.

Avoid races with cool Bonus Actions that will compete with Mighty Impel. The ratings generally account for this as Giant is not the only subclass with a good Bonus Action, but be aware of it when choosing.

Path of the Giant Feats

Don’t forget to browse the feats section in the Barbarian Handbook as well.

  • Strike of the Cloud Giant: We will have some resistance while Raging, but we can use this against the holes in our defense. Or we can use this if we lose initiative and get hit before we can Rage. Or we can use this just because it’s fun to teleport as a reaction.
  • Strike of the Giants:What if we had more elemental damage on melee or thrown attacks? With useful rider effects as a treat? I like Cloud so we can be invisible to someone for a turn. Be sure to see our Glory of the Giants Backgrounds and Feats Breakdown. The rules expect Strike of the Giants to come from a background, which puts it at a weird balance point compared to most other feats in 5e.

Path of the Giant Weapons and Armor

No different from the Barbarian Handbook. Polearm Master compatibility isn’t really important because we’ll be throwing creatures with our Bonus Action.

Example Path of the Giant Build – Stature-esque

I said I was out of superhero references, but did you know that Cassie Lang, daughter of Scott Lang the current Ant Man, goes by the superhero name of “Stature”? And she’s an emotional teenager who gets pissed off and grows taller than a house? This stuff writes itself.

Now, we’re not really building a strictly comics-accurate Stature because she just kinda steps on people by growing and also we can’t shrink. But I liked Quantumania and this is my article about being large. Second article about being large.

Ability Scores

This is still a Barbarian build, so it’s still going to have 15 in Strength before adjustments. With Medium Armor, we don’t need to go beyond 14 Dexterity. For Constitution, we’re going to go with a 13 before adjusting so that we have room for other stats.

See, above I pointed out that if you hit your numbers for STR, DEX, and CON, you can use the rest however you want. So we’ve got a 12 Intelligence because Cassie is smart. But she’s a Teenager and makes poor decisions so she has 8 Wisdom. And 10 Charisma because I still had points left over. We’re having fun with the points that don’t matter as much. The ones not labeled Strength.

We’re a Variant Human and our 1st-level feat does not include an ability score increase, so our +1s are in Strength and Constitution.

Point BuyRacial AdjustmentsLevel 20 (Including Capstone)


We’re taking Variant Human for the bonus feat Strike of the Giants with the Cloud Option. We’re picking this up because it’s shiny and new and also because it helps us get some of the flavor of Cassie. We can’t shrink, but if we’re invisible to our enemy it’s like we’re too small to see. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for our approximation. We’re also taking proficiency in Sleight of Hand, which will make more sense when I explain our background.


We’re taking Criminal because Cassie is a bit of a punk. It gets us the Skills we want for her flavor. And so we have something else to contribute aside from get big, hit stuff, throw stuff.

If you’re using the new backgrounds in Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants, you can take the Giant Foundling background to get Strike of the Giants as your Background’s Feature. This leaves your Variant Human feat open for something else. Or leaves you open to any other race you might fancy.

Skills and Tools

From Barbarian we’ll gain Athletics and Perception. It’s a build where we get big and I’m writing it so of course, Athletics. Perception is useful, too, even with a lower Wisdom. We’ll also have Stealth, Sleight of Hand, Deception, and Theives’ Tools so we can be quiet before we go loud. A well-rounded way of being, if a little unorthodox.

We’ll also later gain Survival when we take Skill Expert at 8. Because, yes, Athletics Expertise. Was there ever any doubt?


At first level, from Variant Human, we take Strike of the Giants (Cloud Giant).

At fourth level, we take Guile of the Cloud Giant and choose +1 to Strength.

At eighth level, we take Skill Expert with another +1 to Strength.

At twelfth level, we take an ASI for +2 Strength.

At sixteenth level, we take Mobile.

At nineteenth level, we take an ASI for +2 Constitution.


LevelsRagesFeats and FeaturesNotes and Tactics

Unarmored Defense

-Sleight of Hand

-Thieves’ Tools

-Strike of the Giants (Cloud Strike)
At first level, we’re the same as any other Barbarian. Grab a big weapon like a Greataxe, Greatsword, or Maul and swing it around.

Also get some Javelins to hold us over in the ranged department until we can just throw our real weapon.

Don’t forget to also use Cloud Strike on tougher opponents with weaker wills. It’s a small boost to damage, but the potential to become invisible to your target is why we picked it. It emulates the shrinking down to be too small to hit part of Cassie that we just can’t really do.

Our skill array is nice. We can handle the infiltration tasks that typically belong to a Rogue. But quietly unlike how other Barbarians typically take over that role by literally breaking and entering.
22/+2Danger Sense

Reckless Attack
Advantage on Dex saves we can see. Good.

Advantage on attack rolls whenever we want: Great.

Being easier to hit in exchange for that Advantage: it’s an unfair trade; we hit harder than they do.
33/+2Path of the Giant
-Giant’s Power
–Giant Language
-Giant’s Havoc
–Crushing Throw
–Giant Stature
We get a large pile of features here at 3rd level.

First, we get a Language and a cantrip. Thaumaturgy and Druidcraft are both decent, but Thaumaturgy gives us a Giant voice on demand so we’re picking that.
Giant’s Havoc is where all the important things are.

Crushing Throw means that all those javelins I told you to get will apply Rage damage. You won’t be able to apply it to throwing your greataxe/whatever until level 6.

Giant’s Stature lets us start to grow, increasing our reach and our size. Unlike most other size increases, this doesn’t give us a bonus to damage because it’s tied to our Rage which already gives us damage.
43/+2Feat: Guile of the Cloud Giant
+1 Strength (16=>17)
Guile of the Cloud Giant is a great use for our reaction. Damage resistance and a teleport in response to taking damage is great.

It’s like quickly shrinking down out of the way of an attack and then back-flipping across the battlefield to a better position.

Sure, we’re resistant to the basic physical types while raging, but we’re not always raging and the enemy isn’t always doing BPS damage, so Guile of the Cloud Giant adds some additional protection.
53/+2Extra Attack

Fast Movement
We can swing faster. Good for us.

All barbarians can move faster but we can say we do it by taking larger, Giant-sized strides.
64/+2+1d6Elemental CleaverBeing Large, and later Huge, is cool, but this is the real star of this subclass.

Elemental damage to bypass resistances and attack weaknesses. Strong.

The ability to use our strong (and possibly magical) primary melee weapon as a Returning Thrown weapon. Too strong.

For real, we don’t have to be in melee ever again. That’s the strongest survivability tool in the game. Just kite things to death. And when they catch up, Guile of the Cloud Giant.

For your convenience, I have added the additional damage from this feature to the rage damage column in this table.
74/+2+1d6Feral InstinctAdvantage on Initiative checks is really nice for getting into position.
84/+2+1d6Feat: Skill Expert
-Athletics Expertise
+1 Strength (17=>18)
We get Advantage on strength checks while we Rage, so we take this to get even more of an edge while grappling.

Holding people in place is fairly strong on its own. Holding people in place from 10 feet away is stronger. And in two levels when we get Mighty Impel we get to be even more shenanigans.
94/+3+1d6Brutal Critical 1This feature is rather minor. Damage is still damage, though.
104/+3+1d6Mighty ImpelLike I mentioned above, we get to be shenanigans. As a bonus action, we can fling targets up to 30 feet.

Sometimes away. Sometimes off a cliff. Sometimes allies to safety. But, most importantly, 30 feet into the air for 30 feet of falling damage and a prone target. Who we will then proceed to grapple.

It’s the grapple+shove technique, but far more amusing.
114/+3+1d6Relentless RageBe too angry to die. It’s nice to have this feature because dying is bad.
125/+3+1d6ASI: +2 Strength (18=>20)Math isn’t really flashy or glamorous. But it is important to get the most damage out of being a Barbarian.
135/+3+1d6Brutal Critical 2We still only crit on a 20 and most of our damage is not the weapon damage die.
145/+3+2d6Demiurgic ColossusHuge Size, 15 ft of reach, and we can now flip Large creatures over with Mighty Impel.

Also another 1d6 of elemental damage. Nice.
155/+3+2d6Persistent RageStay angry until you decide to stop being angry.
165/+4+2d6Feat: MobileYou would think that growing so large and having such long legs would make you faster. So we’re going to be faster.

Sure you could probably take Great Weapon Master or Polearm Master if you want even more damage, but I think longer legs means bigger steps.
176/+5+2d6Brutal Critical 3It’s still not good even with this many extra dice.
186/+5+2d6Indomitable MightThis gives us a massive floor for any Strength checks. It’s useful for grappling.
196/+5+2d6ASI: Constitution +2 (14=>16)More HP and better saves. It’s useful.
20Unlimited/+5+2d6Primal Champion
Strength +4 (20=>24)
Constitution +4 (16=>20)
Capstone time. +4 Strength and +4 Constitution.

Enjoy your +7 Strength modifier. With your Athletics Expertise. For a total of +19 on those checks. With Advantage while Raging.

I’m pretty sure we win every Grapple check forever now.