The Feral Gnasher Barbarian is all about biting the most dangerous enemy on the battlefield, grappling them, and then beating them down with natural attacks and/or grapple damage. Typically, natural attack builds are unable to keep up with the damage output of weapon attack builds for martial classes, mainly due to the fact that the number of natural attacks a character can do is limited to a single attack per limb that can do a natural attack.

So, even if a character has a bite, gore, two claws, and two pincers, they still have to choose between the bite or gore and claws or pincers during a full attack. However, the Feral Gnasher gets around this by instead dealing lots of grapple damage or stacking many natural attacks on different limbs. The best Feral Gnashers will be good at both natural attacks and grappling, but will be built to emphasize one or the other.

Before deciding between building more towards grappling or natural attack damage, it’s important to find out how your DM rules on the number of free actions per turn. The relevant rule for free actions is “Free actions don’t take any time at all, though there may be limits to the number of free actions you can perform in a turn.” This is important because the relevant grapple rule is “You can, as the creature that initiated the grapple, release the grapple as a free action, removing the condition from both you and the target.”

This means that RAW if you land multiple attacks in a turn with the Grab ability, you can attack, free action grapple, free action release the grapple, attack again, free action grapple again, free action release again, and so on. This can get ridiculously powerful in combination with the many ways you can get additional Grabs and grapple damage, which I will outline in other sections.

With that in mind, many DMs may limit the number of free action grapple/releases that can be done in a turn. Ask your DM how many they will allow, and adjust your build choices accordingly. It may be in your benefit to have a reasonable limitation on this, because some enemies using this strategy would also become incredibly deadly and frustrating. I recommend a compromise of allowing multiple free action grapple/releases as long as each one is on a different target. That way there are still fun and strong uses of this ability without having such insanely high single-target DPR. Additionally this leaves options for tactical play for and against characters using this strategy.

Table of Contents


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RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.

  • 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.

Feral Gnasher Features

Savage Bite (Ex): Decent before level 3, then amazing from then on.

Impromptu Armament (Ex): You should not use weapons, improvised or otherwise because of the penalty added to your natural attacks.

Lockjaw (Ex): Incredibly good. At low levels this will let you grab most enemies as a small race or nearly all enemies as a medium race.

Improvised Weapon Mastery (Ex): See Impromptu Armament.

Improved Lockjaw (Su): Absolutely incredible. Avoiding the Grappled condition yourself is a huge boon against a variety of enemies, especially the ones that will be toughest to keep grappled.

Greater Lockjaw (Ex): Very good, and with Enlarge Person this allows you to grab a Colossal creature at 15th level. That being said, unless you are playing in a campaign with a lot of colossal enemies, it’s not necessary to get to 15th level for this considering the amount of power/utility that can be gained from multiclassing.

Wicked Improvisation (Ex): This is inferior to the alternatives. 1-2 level dips in other classes can get you far more damage output than this.

Ability Scores

Str: Vital for damage and increasing your chance to hit with attacks/grapples.

Dex: You benefit from more dexterity than most Barbarians because you are using either light armor or no armor. Prioritize over con if you plan on maintaining grapples.

Con: Useful since you will probably be focused by enemies.

Int: Dump.

Wis: This might be more important for you than for most Barbarians if you plan on multiclassing into Monk or Druid, or if you are using Kraken Style feats.

Cha: Dump.

25 Point Buy20 Point Buy15 Point BuyElite Array

Rage Powers

  • Beast Totem, Lesser: Good early game, incredible with the other Beast Totem Rage Powers.
    • Beast Totem: Extra AC is always good, especially if you use Reckless Abandon.
      • Beast Totem, Greater: Get as soon as possible.
  • Elemental Rage, Lesser: Good extra damage since it is added to grapple and constrict. Save it for a full attack against the most valuable target since you only get 1 use per day.
    • Elemental Rage: Fantastic, and stacks with Lesser Elemental Rage if you choose a different damage type
    • .
      • Elemental Rage, Greater: Much better with this build. Between Greater Beast Totem and Savage Bite, you will have 3 natural attacks that benefit from the extra crit modifier. With a Keen Amulet of Mighty Fists and 6+ natural attacks, this really starts to run away in damage output.
  • Guarded Stance: Decent if you have at least 12 Barbarian levels and decent CON. Applies to CMD as well, so helps you stay in control of grapples.


Aasimar: Preferable to Human only if you plan on maximizing the number of natural attacks you can get by taking metallic wings. Though it is a considerable feat/multiclass investment, an Aasimar can end up with 10 natural attacks, half of which have the Grab ability. If your DM allows at least 5 grab/release combos per turn, Aasimar have the highest damage potential with this archetype. If not, this is not worth the feat investment considering the variety of other ways you can gain the ability to fly. Even with the increase in maximum damage potential, this choice is weaker than Human in terms of overall combat versatility and utility potential through several more feats. You must take the Scion of Humanity racial trait in order to be able to take the Racial Heritage feat, which you need in order to be able to use this archetype as a non-Goblin.

Goblin: The worst choice because the Grab ability has size limitations and you get a penalty to both CMD and CMB for being size small. Strictly worse than the other options in spite of the fact that you can have the same damage die for your bite attack if you take the Hard Head, Big Teeth racial trait.

Human: This is the best choice overall. Use the free feat on Racial Heritage (Goblin).


Nothing different from a typical Barbarian build.


Your skills really don’t matter for the purpose of this build. Pick up whatever works for your party.


  • Angelic Blood (Aasimar): A feat tax for Metallic Wings.
    • Angelic Flesh: At least this feat tax can be useful, with either 5 fire resistance or +1 natural armor with cold iron natural attacks. Still only worth taking for Metallic Wings.
      • Angel Wings: At 10th level there are cheaper ways to get a fly speed than a feat, but it can be worth it for access to Metallic Wings.
        • Metallic Wings: The feat tax for this is substantial, but Metallic Wings is stronger in this archetype than other natural attack-focused builds. The attack penalty from being a secondary natural attack is mitigated by the penalties to AC your targets get from being grappled. Additionally, getting more limbs is the main way for natural attack builds to avoid falling off in late game damage. Especially coupled with damage buffs like Elemental Rage.
  • Eldritch Claws: If you have any other method of Bypassing DR, save the feat space. If not, take this feat when you get to the point at which most of your tough enemies have DR.
  • Extra Rage: Feat space is too important and you are unlikely to run out of Rage Rounds generally as long as you are careful with your Rage consumption.
  • Extra Rage Power: There’s no shortage of Rage Powers that make this archetype significantly stronger, but after the core Rage Powers are obtained you are likely to get a bit more use out of a feat than a Rage Power generally.
  • Feral Combat Training: Only worth it if you want to multiclass into monk and exclusively use a flurry of bites.
  • Hammer the Gap: This is usually bad but it can deal quite a lot of damage late game, if you stack a lot of natural attacks and use your 19-20/3x crit mod attacks last.
  • Improved Critical: There are so many excellent options for feats that it would be better to get a Keen Amulet of Mighty Fists if at all possible. If that is not an option, taking this feat at 10th level becomes useful to capitalize on the increased crit multiplier of your bite attack.
  • Improved Unarmed Strike: Mandatory as a feat tax for the Improved Grapple feat chain, but it is better for some builds to get this feat through a Rage Power or multiclass if possible to free up feat space.
    • Improved Grapple: Take this at level 3.
      • Greater Grapple: get as soon as possible. If you have a tentacle attack through a Tentacle Cloak or the Tentacle Discovery, this feat allows you to keep 2 creatures grappled reliably.
        • Rapid Grappler: Huge increase in damage output if you can afford the -5 penalty.
  • Kraken Style: This feat is mediocre if you have a low wisdom score, since the grapple bonus doesn’t apply to the initial grapple check. If you have high wisdom this becomes phenomenal with any build that will regularly get multiple grapple checks per turn. If you want to make a build that is optimized for grappling multiple creatures, take this feat.
  • Multiattack: If you get Tentacle Cloak, get this feat ASAP since the secondary penalty applies to CMB.
  • Power Attack: This feat is great because the bonus applies to grapple damage and the penalty to hit can be mitigated by the Reckless Abandon Rage Power or the enemy having the grappled condition while you do not. Not to mention having a 3x crit multiplier on your bite/2 claw attacks, and high damage potential for Metallic Wing builds. Just keep in mind that Power Attack’s penalty also applies to Combat Maneuver checks.
  • Racial Heritage: This feat is mandatory for non-goblin characters to be able to take this archetype. There are great possibilities that open up to Human or Aasimar Feral Gnashers. Goblins with the Hard Head, Big Teeth Racial Trait will deal the same damage with their bite as a size Medium race would. However, that’s not enough to enable a goblin to keep up with Metallic Wings or the benefits of being medium sized generally.
  • Weapon Focus: Since this applies to your grappling checks, this is good for your bite attack.


The reason you don’t use weapons with this Archetype is because mixing natural attacks with weapon attacks in the same turn automatically makes all natural attacks count as secondary. This means the bite and 2 claw attacks, all of which are normally “primary natural attacks,” would be at a -5 penalty to hit and half the strength bonus to damage instead of full BAB and full strength to damage. That penalty also applies to any Grapple checks with those limbs. You can use a Greatclub at level 1-2, but after that you should never use a weapon again.


  • Chain Shirt: Use if you have less than 20 Dex.
  • Studded Leather: Standard good armor since this archetype does not have medium armor proficiency. Use over a Chain Shirt if you have 20-25 Dex.
  • Quilted Cloth: If you can somehow get to 26+ Dex, use this.

Multiclassing and Prestige Classes

This section briefly details some obvious and enticing multiclass options, but doesn’t fully explore the broad range of multiclassing combinations. For more on multiclassing, see our Practical Guide to Multiclassing.

  • Alchemist: A 2 level dip in Vivisectionist gets you Sneak Attack, which can be an enormous boost in damage depending on your party composition and your number of natural attacks. Mutagen will also increase your chance to hit and your damage output. Additionally, the Tentacle Discovery can give you another free Grab attempt per turn. Keep in mind that you would have to give up another natural attack in any round in which you use that tentacle, so it may not be worth it unless you are giving up a wing or talon attack. You can also take the Tumor Familiar Alchemist Discovery, choosing the form of the King Crab for a nice +2 bonus to CMB checks to start or maintain a grapple.
  • Druid: The Eagle Shaman Archetype can get you 2 talon attacks. This is quite strong and one of the few ways to get natural attacks on your feet. Better if you have a good Wisdom score. 7 Druid levels will also get you access to Strong Jaw, which is a big damage increase in natural attack builds.
  • Monk: Only worth it if you are going for a build that exclusively bites with no other natural attacks. In that case, take the Feral Combat Training feat. Better if you have a good Wisdom score.

Magic Items


  • Celestial Armor: Celestial Armor is already the best armor in the game if all you need from your armor is AC, and this Archetype needs it even more than a typical Barbarian since you can’t use medium armor.

Wondrous Items

  • Amulet of Mighty Fists: Try to get a Keen Amulet of Mighty Fists as soon as possible at 10th level, to maximize the benefits of the increased crit multiplier of your bite and claw attacks. Then prioritize Furious, and any of the 1d6 energy damage abilities after that.
  • Anaconda’s Coil Belt: One of the best items you can get, which can add tons of damage output for you. +2 to Strength and +2 to grapple checks puts your grapple success on par with a 36,000 GP +6 Belt of Giant’s Strength. This is one of the only ways for a PC to get the Constrict ability. You should either be dealing damage Primarily with grapple checks or you should be grapple-releasing as much as you can in full attacks, and either way adding another 1d6+Str to each successful grapple is fantastic. The slight increase in survivability you could get from any other sufficiently expensive physical stat belt is not worth the tradeoff in damage output that this belt provides.
  • Boots of Speed: Very good for builds with lots of natural attacks, but still great even with just a cookie cutter bite + 2 claws build. The extra speed works with Greater Beast Totem, the extra attack means more Grab attempts, the attack bonus applies to CMB and the AC bonus applies to CMD. Take over Boots of Striding and Springing unless you can reliably have someone cast Haste on you.
  • Boots of Striding and Springing: Without Fast Movement, these provide a good boost to your move speed.
  • Headband of Inspired Wisdom: Great if you are multiclassing into monk/druid, or if you are using kraken style. Otherwise, not useful.
  • Headband of Havoc: Can be great in combination with any of the Rage Powers that improve as you level up.
  • Helm of the Mammoth Lord: Technically the head is not a limb, so RAW you should be able to use this item’s Gore attack in a full attack even if you use your Bite. This is further evidenced by monsters such as Gargoyles which have a Gore and Bite with the same damage dice but without the Grab ability. I recommend allowing both to be used in a full attack, but not allowing the Gore attack to be used while the player is in a Lockjaw grapple.
  • Gauntlets of the Skilled Maneuver: 4,000 GP for a +2 untyped bonus to Grapple checks.
  • Flawed Pale Green Prism Ioun Stone: +1 morale bonus on attack rolls, saves, skill checks, and ability checks.
  • Shirt of Immolation:1d6+10 damage each round grappling, up to 10 rounds a day.
  • Tentacle Cloak: Absolutely phenomenal and devastating in combination with Anaconda’s Coil Belt. Once you get Greater Lockjaw, you can grapple a second creature with a tentacle without suffering the normal -20 penalty since you don’t gain the grappled condition with your Bite grapple.

Example Build – Feral Slash Bash and Gnasher

You think I’m trapped in here with you?

The purpose of this build is to annihilate your enemies, for daring to exist within your reach.

At each level I’ll detail our “best case scenario”, which is a full attack made with as many successful Grab/releases as possible, along with available buffs from items and abilities. This will include magic items purchased with the standard character wealth of a PC according to the Character Wealth by Level Table. I’ll use 25-point buy abilities.

Ability Scores

Str18+3 (Human, ASI)
Con13+1 (ASI)
Wis13+1 (ASI)


We’ll use Human here for the best balance of damage and feat space. We will take the Heart of the Streets racial trait since grappling enemies leaves them ripe for a beatdown from our allies. The AC bonus can help us with our CMD as well. The Human racial bonus will go into Strength


We’ll take Adopted to pick up Elven Reflexes, freeing up our Combat Trait slot for Anatomist. With 3 attacks that have a 3x crit modifier, a multitude of attacks, and a Keen Amulet of Mighty Fists, we can get a lot of value from it.


Your specific skills don’t matter much, so we would take whatever suits the party best.


LevelFeat(s) and FeaturesNotes and Tactics

Barbarian 1
  • Racial Heritage (Goblin)
  • Improved Unarmed Strike
  • Savage Bite
  • Rage
  • Greatclub
  • Chain Shirt
At first level your Bite attack is so weak that you are better off using a Greatclub, since that is the only Martial weapon you are proficient in. 

Best Case Scenario: +8 1d10+10 (Avg 15.5)

Barbarian 2
  • Impromptu Armament
  • Uncanny Dodge
  • Masterwork Chain Shirt
Second level will be spent anxiously awaiting 3rd level. Impromptu Armament is way worse than a Rage Power, so you will be weaker than other Barbarians right now.

Best Case Scenario: +9 1d10+10 (Avg 15.5)

Barbarian 3
  • Feat: Improved Grapple
  • Lockjaw
Now you can finally start locking down enemies with your grapples. At this point it’s best for you to attack + Grab the first round and then deal grapple damage when you maintain your grapple each subsequent round.

Best Case Scenario: +10 1d6+10 (Avg 13.5)
Grapple: +12 1d6+10 (Avg 13.5)

Barbarian 4
  • Ability Increase: Constitution
  • Rage Power: Lesser Beast Totem
  • Furious Amulet of Mighty Fists
Lesser beast totem is a big damage increase. Dealing grapple damage is not worth it anymore, since you can now do a full attack with your 2 Claws and finish with a Bite+Grab. Also you no longer get 1.5x STR to damage with your Bite since it is no longer your only primary natural attack. Each round instead of maintaining the grapple you can release it as a free action, do a full round of attacks, and then grab again at the end.

Best Case Scenario: +13/+13/+13 3d6+27 (Avg 37.5)
Grapple: +15 1d6+9 (Avg 12.5)

Barbarian 5
  • Feat: Power Attack
    Improvised Weapon Mastery
Improvised Weapon Mastery does nothing for us, but Power Attack does.Our attack bonus is high enough that the attack penalty for Power Attack is rarely going to matter. If you do end up dealing grapple damage, remember that the damage from Power Attack applies.

Best Case Scenario: +12/+12/+12 3d6+39 (Avg 49.5)
Grapple: +14 1d6+13 (Avg 16.5)

Barbarian 6
  • Rage Power: Lesser Elemental Rage
    Improved Lockjaw
This is the point at which the build starts to run away. Improved Lockjaw makes it so that we can start a full attack with a bite, free action grab, and then do the 2 claw attacks while they are grappled but you are not. On future rounds you should release the grapple first and then repeat the previous sequence. Save your Lesser Elemental Rage for when you really need to delete a particular enemy.

Best Case Scenario: +13/+13/+13 6d6+39 (Avg 60)
Grapple: +15 1d6+13 (Avg 16.5)

Barbarian 7
  • Damage Reduction 1-
  • Feat: Greater Grapple
  • Anaconda Coil’s Belt
DR is always nice, but Greater Grapple is the more important boost since we have gotten Anaconda Coils Belt. Now we can deal grapple damage twice a turn. Since we have Constrict now with Greater Grapple, our damage output is not lowered by just dealing grapple damage. It’s best to just maintain grapples each turn. Remember that Power Attack and Lesser Elemental Rage apply to the Constrict damage.

Best Case Scenario: Grapple: +26 8d6+56 (Avg 84)

Barbarian 8
  • Ability Increase: Wisdom
  • Rage Power: Beast Totem
  • Helm of the Mammoth Lord
The natural armor bonus is nice but we are more excited about the damage bump to power attack and the Gore attack. Now we are back to full attacking each turn, ending with the Bite+Grab and starting by releasing each following round.

Best Case Scenario: +15/+15/+15/+15/+21 10d6+80 (Avg 115)

Grapple: +26 8d6+64 (Avg 92)

Barbarian 9
  • Feat: Extra Rage Power (Elemental Rage)
  • Greater Lockjaw
  • Tentacle Cloak
We would gain more consistency from Multiattack but our damage potential goes through the roof with Elemental Rage. Attacks are calculated with max possible grapple-releases.
Best Case Scenario: +16/+16/+16/+11/+21/+11/+21/+16/+22 27d6+126 (Avg 220.5)

Grapple: +27 12d6+64 (Avg 106)

Barbarian 10
  • Savage Bite 1d8 x3
  • Damage reduction 2-
  • Rage Power: Greater Beast Totem
  • Keen Furious Amulet of Mighty Fists
This is the level the build is officially online. Now our bite and claws are at 1d8 with a 3x crit modifier, just in time for the Amulet of Mighty Fists to have Keen added to them. Remember that Keen doesn’t work on tentacles because they do bludgeoning damage. The full attack will be calculated as a charge attack, since we can Pounce now. None of these calculations are factoring in critical hits.

Best Case Scenario: 
+19/+19/+19/+14/+24/+14/+24/+19/+25 24d6+3d8+126 (Avg 223.5)
Grapple: +27 2d8+10d6+64 (Avg 108)

Barbarian 11
  • Greater Rage
  • Feat: Multiattack
  • Boots of Speed
Multiattack will help make sure our tentacles land, which is good because more tentacles are coming soon.

Best Case Scenario: 
+22/+22/+22/+20/+30/+20/+30/+22/+28/+22/+28  29d6+4d8+171 (Avg 290.5)

Grapple: +33 2d8+10d6+68 (Avg 112)

Alchemist 1
  • Vivisectionist
  • Alchemy
  • Brew Potion
  • Mutagen
  • Sneak Attack
  • Ability Increase: Strength
  • Corrosive Keen Furious Amulet of Mighty Fists
We are now taking a level in Vivisectionist, even though we won’t be able to make Extracts. Still worth it for Mutagen and Sneak Attack, under the assumption that you will have allies to flank with. Mutagen will bring us to a whopping 32 Strength. Attacks will now be calculated assuming we are flanking.

Best Case Scenario: 
+25/+25/+25/+23/+33/+23/+33/+25/+31/+25/+31  55d6+4d8+211 (Avg 421.5)

Grapple: +30 2d8+18d6+84 (Avg 156)

Alchemist 2
  • Discovery (Tentacle)
  • Poison Use
  • Poison Resistance +2
  • Feat: Hammer the Gap
  • Flaming Corrosive Keen Furious Amulet of Mighty Fists
  • Permanent Enlarge Person
We take another Vivisectionist level to get the Tentacle Discovery, giving us another potential constrict. Remember that the Tentacle Discovery can’t add to your attacks in a round, it must replace one. So we will use it in place of the gore attack from now on. At a mere level 13, this puts our average damage at 529, slightly more than a CR 25 Terrasque’s hp. Feels good, feels real good.

Best Case Scenario: 
+25/+25/+23/+32/+23/+32/+23/+32/+25/+32/+25/+32  2d8+74d6+261 (Avg 529)

Grapple: when you can deal 500+ average damage per round, you probably don’t need to maintain a grapple.

In the event that your DM decides this is too broken and limits you to a mere 1 Grab/release per turn, the full attack best case scenario would still be +24/+24/+26/+26/+26/+32/+26/+26 50d6+2d8+191 (Avg 375)
14+From this point on, your leveling choices should be based on whatever your goals are. If you want to continue stacking more insane damage, you could take 2 levels in Eagle Shaman Druid for an additional 2 Talon attacks. After that, you could put the rest of your levels into Vivisectionist to stack more sneak attack dice.

Realistically you probably don’t need any more damage and would benefit more from putting the rest of your levels into Druid to gain some utility. With damage this high already, you can pretty much do whatever you want, besides anything INT/CHA based.