Single-Class DnD Parties: Oops All Barbarians


We’re taking a look at building single-class parties. Building a party around a single class presents unique challenges often due individual classes’ limited capabilities. DnD is fundamentally a game about a party of diverse characters pooling their abilities to become more than the sum of their parts. The single-class party flips that on its head, introducing fun new challenges.

While Barbarians can play very differently, they’re all built the same way, and they all fill a very narrow set of roles within a typical party. Subclasses differentiate how individual Barbarians accomplish those roles, but they don’t diversify the Barbarian’s capabilities enough to go beyond the class’s core concept.

The Barbarian is truly going to struggle as a single-class party, but the concept of a party of uncouth, poorly-educated, muscular idiots traveling the world and smashing bad guys is undeniably appealing.

The Rules

  • No multiclassing
  • 4 party members
  • Must attempt to cover all party roles

Strengths and Weaknesses of the All-Barbarian Party

Rage and a deep well of hit points make the all-Barbarian party dangerous in melee combat and able to easily overcome any challenge that can be overcome by sheer muscle. However, barbarians struggle to fight effectively at range, they have absolutely no spellcasting of any kind, and their skill options are poor and very narrow.

The lack of spellcasting of any kind means that we are absolutely locked out of the Utility Caster role. This means that we’ve immediately failed to meet every role, but that’s not going to stop us from building a cool party of axe-wielding maniacs.

The Party

Member 1: Variant Human Path of the Totem Barbarian

Not bear totem. We are not doing bear totem. We have four characters with d12 hit dice.

Instead, our Path of the Totem Barbarian will be our Scout and our Striker. Outside of combat, they’re responsible for sneaking, traps, and locating dangerous things before they locate the party. In combat, their job is to find the most important thing and do a ton of damage to it very quickly, much like a rogue.

To do this, we’ll take Mobile as our Variant Human feat. This gets us +10 ft. of movement and lets us move about without worry about Opportunity Attacks. As we level we’ll take Totem Spirit (Elk) for even more speed, Aspect of the Beast (Tiger) for extra skills, and Totemic Attunement (Tiger) for the extra Bonus Action attack. We’ll have a total speed of 65 feet, easily allowing us to move to wherever we need to get that extra attack from Totemic Attunement. If we ever need help, we can always grapple our target and drag them 30 feet back toward our party.

We’ll wear breastplate to avoid the penalty to Stealth from Half Plate, and we’ll take a background like Criminal so that we can get proficiency in Thieve’s Tools and Rogue-like skills.

Member 2: Path of the Ancestral Guardian Barbarian

Many of our enemies’ attacks will be made with Advantage thanks to Reckless Attack. This means that our party is going to be hit frequently. Ancestral Guardian’s Ancestral Protectors and Spirit Shield will massively improve our party’s durability.

We’ll make this member our Face, because someone has to do it, and it might as well be this person. With a small splash of Charisma and a background like Courtier, we can just barely limp along in a conversation.

Member 3: Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian

Barbarians have nearly no options for dealing area damage. The only exception I can find is Path of the Storm Herald’s Desert option. Conveniently, the Tundra option provides temporary hit points, and the Shielding Storm feature allows us to share our damage resistance. I think that’s just barely enough to call this both our Blaster (I know, it’s a stretch) and our Support.

We’ll make this our Scholar for lack of a better idea. A splash of Intelligence, Nature from our class, and two knowledge skills from our Background get us most of the knowledge skills. We might also pick a race which provides additional skill proficiencies to help.

Member 4: Path of the Giant Barbarian

Path of the Giant will be our Controller simply by virtue of being enormous and having enough reach to always be a problem. Adding the Sentinel and Polearm Master feats allow us to control a wide area solely using Opportunity Attacks. Path of the Giant is also the only variety of Barbarian that isn’t completely hopeless at range, which is nice.

Since we’ve saddled everyone else in the party with extra roles, our Giant Barbarian will be our healer. We can do this in a few different ways: the Healer feat, the Gift of the Gem Dragon feat, and the Aasimar race. Of the three, the Healer feat allows us to do the most healing, so we’ll default to that. Variant Human or Custom Origin will both get us a feat at 1st level, allowing us to easily fit healer into our build.

The Report Card

We just barely managed to cover almost every role, but it’s definitely a stretch for some of them.

Utility Caster

Biggest Strength

Strength! With everyone built on Strength and with Advantage on Strength checks from Rage, we can Shove and Grapple with little to stop us. If we can get into melee, we can handle nearly any enemy.

Biggest Weakness

Our skills leave a lot to be desired. Our Face and our Scholar likely have a +1 ability modifier on their relevant skills, and likely don’t have the full set of skills to cover the role.

We’re also sorely lacking the ability to remove status conditions.


The Barbarian is a class that will struggle through a typical game because they have no access to many capabilities which the game assumes that a party has. In many cases we need to cut into our primary capabilities as a Barbarian to make room for skills and feats to cover the basics.

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