Last Updated: April 25, 2022
Goliaths first appeared as a playable race in the DnD 3.5 supplement Races of Stone, and made their first appearanc ein 5th edition in the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion, making them one of the first non-core playable races in 5e. Much like dragonborn are a humanoid dragon, goliaths are a humanoid giant. That’s a weird statement to make since giants are basically just tall humanoids, but they’re a separate creature type. Still, the appeal of being almost Large size has remained appealing since the goliath’s first appearance. Goliaths do have fun and unique background lore, but generally players pick the Goliath because they want to be really big.
Mechanically, the Goliath is a spectacular option for any Strength-based build. Proficiency in Athletics gives you a staple option for many Strength-based characters and Stone’s Endurance provides a powerful defensive option which remains useful throughout your character’s career. Unfortunately, these capabilities also pigeon-hole the Goliath into Strength-based melee builds. The custom origin rules and the updated version of the Goliath published in Mordenkainen Presents Monster’s the Multiverse open up your ability score options, allowing you to bring the durability of Stone’s Endurance to any build.
If you’re using the version of the Goliath originally published in the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion, note that the Goliath’s Mountain Born trait has been updated to add resistance to cold damage. This change was made in Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, and in errata documents and the Sage Advice Compendium.
Table of Contents
- Goliath Versions
- Goliath Classes (Customizable Origins and MMoM)
- Goliath Classes (Default Rules)
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.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
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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 this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.
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The original version of the Goliath was published in the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion. It was later updated in Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden updated this original version to add resistance to cold damage.
The introduction of the custom origin rules gave us the third version of the goliath, freeing the Goliath’s skill proficiency and ability score increases so that the Goliath is no longer locked into Strength-based melee builds/
Most recently, Mordenkainen Presents Monsters of the Multiverse updated the Goliath to match the updated race design concepts. Goliaths get the standard +2/+1 or three +1 increases, and Stone’s Endurance was changed from once per Short or Long Rest to PB/Long Rest. Unfortunately, the Goliath’s skill proficiency is once again restricted to Athletics, which provides very little benefit to anything not Strength-based. Still, it’s one skill proficiency, and the core races have been doing just fine without racial skill proficiencies for years, so if you have one useless skill it’s not going to kill you.
Goliath Classes (Customizable Origins and MMoM)
This section assumes that you’re using the option updated versions of the race, including the “Customizing Your Origin” rules presented in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and/or the updated version published in Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse. Because the race changed so little between those two versions, I have decided to combine these two sections. If you’re not using those rules, scroll down to the “Classic Rules” section.
Artificers are famously durable due to their ability to stack AC infusions on top of heavy armor, but they still only have d8 hit points, and Stone’s Endurance can do quite a bit to pad that small pool of hp. Cold resistance is somewhat redundant since artificers can cast Absorb Elements, but an additional resistance means one less option for enemies to slip past your defenses.
The Goliath already made a perfect barbarian, and neither the custom origin rules nor Monsters of the Multiverse did anything to hurt that prospect. Damage resistance, a free skill proficiency in one of the Barbarian’s best skills, and Stone’s Endurance all work wonderfully for the Barbarian.
Remember that damage resistance is applied after any other modifiers to the damage recieved, so Stone’s Endurance applies before damage is halved for damage resistance. This means that it’s less effective while raging, but that doesn’t make it bad by any means.
Bards almost never belong in melee, and Stone’s Endurance doesn’t change that. While bards do get light armor (medium for College of Valor) and more hit points than sorcerers or wizards, that doesn’t suddenly make weapons a good idea in the face of the Bard’s challenges when trying to use weapons.
With up to heavy armor and the best healing options in the game, the Cleric has no shortage of hit points. Stone’s Endurance is great for front-line builds, especially if you’re in a small party and you’re the only Defender, but otherwise it’s not going to be hugely impactful.
The Druid’s frailty is among the class’s biggest problems, and Stone’s Endurance does a lot to make up that shortcoming. It’s not clear if it works while Wild Shaped, unfortunately.
Fighters get heavy armor and plenty of hit points, but Stone’s Endurance adds an extra layer of durability on top of that which you can use to make two-handed weapons safer to use. Athletics is a great skill for two-handed weapon builds so that you can take advantage of the grapple/shove combo.
The Monk is locked into melee, and at low levels before you get Ability Score Increases to raise your Dexterity (and therefore your AC), the Monk’s combination of d8 hit dice and poor AC is a significant liability. Stone’s Endurance provides a significant boost to your durability. If you’re using the custom origin rules, go +2 Dex/+1 Wis and reassign the skill proficiency into something like Perception. If you’re using the Goliath in Monsters of the Multiverse, go for 16 in Dex/Con/Wis and pretend that Athletics isn’t a thing unless you go for Way of the Astral Self and want to grapple.
The Goliath’s traits combined with the Paladin’s already excellent durability make for an extremely durable character. However, since you’re so durable you’re getting into tank falacy territory, so consider an aggressive subclass like Oath of Conquest or at least plan to use two-handed weapons.
Rangers get worse armor than the Fighter or the Paladin, fewer hit points than the Barbarian (not to mention damage resistance), they can’t Dodge as a Bonus Action like the Monk, and don’t get Uncanny Dodge to mitigate damage like the Rogue does. Stone’s Endurance and cold resistance do a lot to help make up that gap in capabilities, and an extra skill reduces the skill gap between the Ranger and the Rogue. If you’re using custom origin rules your skill options are wide open, but if you’re using the updated version in Monsters of the Multiverse you’ll likely only find Athletics useful if you buld around Strength.
Rogues get Uncanny Dodge, and as great as Stone’s Endurance is, Uncanny Dodge is considerably better. If you want a skill and cold resistance, consider the Sea Elf.
Stone’s Endurance is great on a class with no armor proficiency and tiny hit dice, but if you do a good job avoiding drawing attacks, Stone’s Endurance will rarely matter. You could use that to justify not investing in Constitution, but where else are you going to put those resources? Sorcerers are among the most SAD classes in the game.
Hexblades are very effective offensively, but in medium armor and with d8 hit points they’re frail compared to many other front-line builds. Stone’s Endurance can make a huge difference there, allowing you to remain on the front lines much longer than most warlocks can. For other warlocks, you shouldn’t be drawing enough fire to need Stone’s Endurance.
Stone’s Endurance is great on a class with no armor proficiency and tiny hit dice, but if you do a good job avoiding drawing attacks, Stone’s Endurance will rarely matter. You could use that to justify not investing in Constitution, but where else are you going to put those resources? Wizards are among the most SAD classes in the game.
Goliath Classes (Default Rules)
This section assumes that you’re not using the option “Customizing Your Origin” rules presented in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything or the updated version of the race published in Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse. If you are using those rules, scroll up to the previous section.
No Intelligence increase.
Strength and Constitution are perfect, and if there’s any class that needs Stone’s Endurance it’s the Barbarian. Negating 1d12+Con damage is huge since the Barbarian often has lower AC than most front-line melee classes, and Reckless Attack compounds that issue.
Strength-based bards are already hard enough, and the Goliath doesn’t get a Charisma increase.
A front-line Strength-based cleric can work, especially at low levels before Extra Attack makes other characters outpace you, but lacking a Wisdom increase will hurt for a long time.
Nearly nothing about the Goliath benefits the Druid.
Strength, Constitution, Athletics, and Stone’s Endurance. Stone’s Endurance is a great defensive option that can make it easier to choose two-handed weapons over using a shield, but honestly the Goliath works on any Strength-based fighter build.
No increases to either Dexterity or Wisdom, and the Monk is too reliant on having high scores in those abilities.
The Goliath works for the Paladin for the same reason that they work for the Fighter. Lacking a Charisma increase isn’t a deal breaker, and proficiency in Athletics means that you don’t need to choose between Athletics and a Face skill like Persuasion. Stone’s Endurance is less appealing for the Paladin than for the Barbarian or the Fighter since the Paladin has more built-in healing options, but it’s still fantastic and it’ll keep you alive at low levels before those healing options come online.
Strength-based rangers are hard, but one of their biggest challenges is relatively poor AC and needing high scores in several ability scores to fill out medium armor without cutting into other capabilities. Stone’s Endurance can help offset the Ranger’s relative frailty compared to the Fighter, and Athletics adds and extra skill on top the Ranger’s already higher-than-normal number of skill proficiencies. It’s still not a spectacular build, but it could work.
Bad ability spread, and none of the Goliath’s traits suppor the Rogue.
No Charisma increase.
No Charisma increase.
No Intelligence increase.