ToV Barbarian Guide


Barbarians are all about getting angry, dealing damage, and shrugging off enemy’s attacks. They have a ton of hit points, resistance to weapon damage while raging, and Rage gives a nice bonus to damage. Barbarians don’t get much in the way of skills, unfortunately, but they’re a ton of fun to play.

Because their tactics are frequently very simple (rage, smash the nearest enemy, repeat), some players find the Barbarian unappealing compared to classes that have more diverse and complex options. But don’t let the simplicity deter you: charging into melee, turning Reckless Attack, and shrugging off paltry amounts of damage while you carve through your enemies is a ton of fun.

Many Barbarians don’t deal consistently huge amounts of damage without serious optimization, but they do enough to be a threat, and their high Strength and easy access to Advantage on Strength checks means that the grapple/shove combo is always available to you, and leaning on that capability offers a great option that other characters can’t easily match without spending precious resources like feats.

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.

Changes from 5e

  • Unarmored Defense is now 13+CON modifier. Half Plate is no longer necessary for the barbarian to survive, and you might even be stealthy if you don’t dump DEX.
  • Multiattack: Extra Attack has been renamed.
  • Fast Movement: Move half your speed when you roll initiative
  • Brutal Critical: You now crit on a 19 or 20 with melee weapons and unarmed strikes. This dramatically improves the Barbarian’s odds to score a critical hit when combined with Reckless Attack, which dramatically improves the Barbarian’s lackluster damage output at high levels.
  • Heroic Boon: Rage instantly as a free action when you roll initiative or remove most of the requirements to keep rage running for the full duration
  • Indomitable Might -> Unyielding Might: The floor on d20 rolls is reduced from your STR score in 5e to 10 in ToV, so no more rolling a 24 on a d20. You also now add your STR score (not modifier) to damage against objects.

Barbarian Class Features

Hit Points: d12 is the biggest hit die available.

Saves: Strength saves are fairly rare, but Constitution saves are common and typically very problematic.

Proficiencies: Medium armor and martial weapons will get you a long way, but you get no tool proficiencies, and only two skills.

1: Rage: Rage is the Barbarian’s defining class feature. The bonus damage isn’t huge, but it’s reliable and consistent. The resistance to damage makes Barbarians exceptionally durable. You can rage multiple times in the same encounter if you absolutely need to, but your number of rages per day is limited, so try not to do so if you can avoid it.

1: Unarmored Defense: 13 + CON and you don’t need to worry about DEX even slightly. Barbarians built with enough DEX to support stealth may get better AC from manufactured armor, but needing 14 DEX places extra strain on your initial ability scores and will inevitably come at the cost of STR and/or CON.

2: Danger Sense: In medium armor your dexterity probably isn’t fantastic, but advantage on any save is fantastic.

2: Reckless Attack: Rage makes you resistant to damage from normal weapons (Magical weapons which do weird damage types still work fine), so advantage on attacks against you doesn’t matter as much. Go crazy. Kill all of the things. Reckless Attack also makes using oversized weapons viable under some circumstances.

Barbarian Subclass: Barbarian subclasses are briefly summarized below.

  • Berserker: What if you weren’t just mad, you were furious? What if you didn’t just Rage, you went berserk?
  • Wild Fury:

5: Fast Movement: Some extra speed plus free movement when you Rage, making it easy to get into melee quickly.

5: Multiattack: Two attacks means potentially twice as much damage in a turn, and twice as much opportunity to apply your rage bonus to damage.

6: Feral Instinct: You are basically immune to surprise attacks. Advantage on initiative will allow you to go first frequently, so be sure to get into position to keep enemies from reaching your squishy allies.

9: Brutal Critical: The Barbarian’s primary damage boost at high levels. With Reckless Attack and the improved crit range, you crit on 19% of your attacks, making critical hits reasonably common. Because Brutal Critical works based on your weapon’s damage die, stick to weapons with big dice like the Greataxe.

10: Heroic Boon:

  • Instant Rage: Remove the Bonus Action tax to initiate Rage when combat starts.
  • Stubborn Rage: You can usually keep your Rage going in combat without issue unless you’re incapacitated in some way, in which case you can just Rage again. You only get a few Rages per day, of course, but by this level you have enough that very few campaigns will fit enough encounters into a day that you will run out of Rages.

14: Relentless Rage: This will keep you conscious for a long time if you get hit with a low number of high-damage attacks, but lots of small attacks will raise the DC too quickly for this to remain effective. Be sure to eliminate weak but numerous enemies before your HP starts getting scary.

18: Unyielding Might: By now you might very easily have 20 Strength, so you’re guaranteed to get a ridiculously high roll on any Strength check. Remember that saves and attacks aren’t checks, so you still need to roll high on those.

20: Epic Boon:

  • Primal Champion: Your ability scores should be absurd by this point.

Ability Scores

Barbarians are all about their physical ability scores. If your scores are good enough, you can forgo armor, so it’s nice to have adequate Dexterity and Constitution to beat the AC bonus provided by half plate. However, that’s also very expensive, so it’s rarely worth the effort.

As with many other classes, the temptation to take an 18 with point buy is hard to resist. In my opinion, it’s better for the Barbarian to spread those points across multiple ability scores. With Reckless Attack to improve your accuracy at the cost of durability, you need to invest in your durability to avoid turning your Barbarian into a class cannon.

STR: Barbarians are all about lots of Strength and big weapons, so Strength should almost always be your best ability.

DEX: 14 DEXis great to boost your AC with half plate. Of course, Unarmored Defense is 13 + CON modifier, so improving your CON in order to improve Unarmored Defense may be just as good.

CON: Second only to Strength. Barbarians take a lot of damage, so you need all the hit points you can get. Constitution also powers Unarmored Defense.

INT: Dump stat. Intelligence saves are very rare, and Barbarians don’t get any Intelligence-based skills.

WIS: Wisdom saves are common, so don’t dump it, but don’t put a ton of effort into improving it.

CHA: Charisma only matters for a couple of the Barbarian’s skill. Most barbarians can dump this, too.

Stealth-Friendly Barbarian

Point BuyStandard Array

Non-Stealthy Barbarian

Point BuyStandard Array

Barbarian Lineages

Additional defenses like damage resistances are excellent. Barbarians are very durable thanks to their large pool of hit points, but stretching that pool as much as possible is key to your survival. Small size is generally discouraged, as Heavy weapons are hard for small characters to use, which reduces your damage output by forcing you to use comparable weapons with smaller damage dice.

Beastkin (PG): Avian for a fly speed allows you to fly over enemies and obstacles, and allows you to fight flying enemies without resorting to throwing things at them.

Dwarf (PG): Poison resistance and even more hp.

Human (PG): An extra skill and an extra Talent. Great for any character.

Kobold (PG): Fierce is tempting for the Reaction attack against Large or larger creatures, but small size causes trouble for the Barbarian. Truescale’s AC is wasted thanks to Unarmored Defense..

Orc (PG): Stalwart allows you to escape effects like fear and paralysis faster, which is occasionally helpful.

Syderean (PG): Darkvision, including 30 ft. in magical darkness, and resistance to necrotic damage. Celestial lets you fly, though only once per day. Fiendish gives you a cool fear aura, though the save DC will be poor since it doesn’t add an ability modifier.

Barbarian Heritages

Heritages typically provide a skill proficiency, plus some other unique benefits. Look for options which complement your ability scores and your role within the party.

Cottage (PG): Thematically a weird choice, but the temporary hit points are fantastic in any party and add even more durability to the Barbarian. The skills are decent, too.

Diaspora (PG): With poor mental saves, Advantage on saves against fear is a very helpful defense. Unfortunately, History isn’t a great skill for the Barbarian.

Fireforge (PG): Fire resistance.

Grove (PG): A Climb speed is really nice.

Slayer (PG): Animals become less common beyond very low levels, but Kobold Press has published a lot of higher-CR animals in books like Tome of Beasts, so that may change over time. This gives you Advantage to intimidate a T-Rex, and that’s pretty cool.

Supplicant (PG): Extra mobility which allows you to easily change targets in combat if you need to reach a higher-priority enemy, and the Doom effects makes you great at fighting boss monsters.

Barbarian Backgrounds

If you want the ability to be sneaky, getting skills like Stealth from your background can be very helpful. Otherwise, staple skills like Athletics and Perception are great. Be sure to consider Talents from outside of the Martial Talents list which will complement your capabilities since this may be your only chance to get them.

If you’re having trouble deciding, here are some suggestions:

Courtier (PG): Poor skills, but Combat Conditioning and Mental Fortitude are both good Talent options.

Criminal (PG): Great if you want the ability to be sneaky. Take the Touch of Luck Talent.

Homesteader (PG): Decent skills, but the only easy Talent choice is Aware.

Soldier (PG): The go-to option for martial characters. Take the Combat Conditioning Talent.

Barbarian Skills

  • Animal Handling (Wis): Not really helpful for the function of the Barbarian, but the flavor makes sense.
  • Athletics (Str): The only Strength-based skill, Athletics is more than climbing and swimming. You use Athletics for grappling and for pushing enemies, both of which can be excellent options for Barbarians.
  • Intimidation (Cha): If you’re built with a bit of Charisma for the Berserker’s Intimidating Presence, you can be good at Intimidate. Otherwise, skip it.
  • Nature (Int): Intelligence is a dump stat for Barbarians, but if no one in the party has access to Nature it’s not an awful choice.
  • Perception (Wis): One of the most important skills in the game. At least two people in the party should have it, but more is always better.
  • Survival (Wis): Adventuring tends to involve a lot of wandering around in untamed wilderness, so Survival can be very helpful to your party.

Barbarian Talents

The Barbarian has access to Martial Talents.

Armor Training (PG): It’s tempting to upgrade to heavy armor so that you can dump DEX, but that’s what Unarmored Defense is for. Increasing CON by +2 is a much more efficient use of the same Improvement, and 20 CON will get you the same 18 AC as Full Plate.

Athletic (PG): Doubling your PB on Athletics checks make the Barbarian almost unstoppable when you want to Grapple or Shove.

Combat Conditioning (PG): Helpful once your PB has scaled a bit. Barbarians get hit a lot and already have a huge pool of hit points, so increasing the value of your Hit Dice makes it much easier to get back to full hp.

Critical Training (PG): Does not stack with Brutal Critical’s improved threat range, and the extra damage die isn’t enough on its own.

Furious Charge (PG): With Fast Movement you’ll likely have 40 ft. speed. This allows you to back away 20 feet if necessary, then charge 20 feet to trigger this Talent. The effects are good and offer some interesting tactical options.

Hand to Hand (PG): Tempting if you enjoy the Grapple/Shove combo, but I would definitely take Athletic and/or Wrestling Mastery instead.

Heavy Weapon Mastery (PG): A great choice for high-level barbarians. Crits become common once you have Brutal Critical, so you’ll trigger the free attack with reasonable frequency. The Bonus Action options are fun, too. The damage option adds half of your STR score, not your modifier, so it’s a decent chunk of extra damage.

Opportunist (PG): Use Shove to knock an enemy prone or use the Trip Weapon Option, then make up for the lost attack by hitting with an Opportunity Attack when they stand up on their turn. Easy, repeatable, effective.

Physical Fortitude (PG): Have an ally permanently deafen you and you’ll generate free Luck every turn. The rest of the Talent is decent, too.

Shield Mastery (PG): The Shove benefit is redundant with Rage. The defensive benefits are fine, but not enough on their own.

Spell Hunter (PG): Spellcasters are a minority of enemies, but they are frequently the most difficult for the Fighter to counter because they can frequently target the Fighter’s poor mental saves. This makes you a huge problem for enemy spellcasters. To maximize the benefits, grab Opportunist for Advantage on Opportunity Attacks, find a way to expand your crit range like Critical Training, and take proficiency in Athletics so that you can grapple effectively. Many enemy spellcasters can cast innate spells without components, but humanoid spellcasters often rely heavily on spells with Somatic components which you can fully prevent.

This is a great example of a powerful situational feat. It’s amazing when you run into an enemy spellcaster, and that’s a thing that happens from time to time, but you’re not going to benefit from this feat every game session unless your campaign features spellcasters as enemies more often than an average game. If your campaign sets you against necromancers or a cult of evil wizards or something, this may be unusually useful. Or you might go several levels between fights where this is useful.

Two Weapon Mastery (PG): A tax for two-weapon fighting builds, but absolutely worth the cost. Remember that you need to hit a target with an attack during the Attack Action to get the +PB damage bonus on your Bonus Action attacks, and the bonus only applies to that target. Strongly consider a fighter dip for Martial Action (Quick Strike).

The additional attack option is very exciting, but won’t come up consistently. Your best bet is to use Reckless Attack and hope for crits. You can also combine the free movement from this benefit with Furious Charge.

Vanguard (PG): A reliable choice for any melee build, especially if you use a weapon with Reach.

Weapon Discipline (PG): An easy choice once you have Brutal Critical. The additional damage dice stack.

Magic and Technical Talents

Talents from the other lists may be available from your Ancestry, your Background, or your Subclass. Keep in mind that these Talents may not be better for your build than the Talents which you can access normally.

Mental Fortitude (PG): Helpful to compensate for the Barbarian’s poor mental defenses.

Trade Skills (PG): More skills offer the Barbarian some much-needed utility outside of combat.

Touch of Luck (PG): Useful on any character.

Barbarian Weapons

Barbarians are proficient with martial weapons. Barbarians typically work best with weapons which use a single large damage die, especially once you get Brutal Critical. Sword-and-board builds can absolutely work, though you’re giving up part of the Barbarian’s only high-level damage boost if you do so once you get Brutal Critical. As always, it’s all opportunity costs.

  • Glaive / Halberd / Pike (PG): Slightly less damage than the Greataxe or the Maul and only one Weapon Option, but you get Reach. The Trip weapon option is useful if you have other melee allies, but you don’t need it to get Advantage because you have Reckless Attack. You might use it to knock enemies prone, then move out of their movement range to force them to waste their turn chasing you.
  • Greataxe (PG): The Barbarian’s signature weapon. With the largest single damage die in the game, the Greataxe synergizes perfect with Brutal Critical once you reach high levels. The Disarm and Hamstring Weapon Options give you some interesting options beyond damage, too. Disarm isn’t always useful, but against weapon-wielding enemies you can essentially win the fight in one shot by knocking their weapon on the ground and then taking it. Hamstring is a good debuff early in a long fight against big enemies, but don’t waste you time trying to Hamstring a bunch of weaker enemies. They don’t move if they’re dead.
  • Handaxe (PG): A perfectly fine choice for two-weapon fighting, and you probably start with some for free.
  • Javelin (PG): An excellent ranged weapon for any Strength-based character. You can use Pinning Shot at range, allowing you to reduce flying enemies’ speed to 0 ft., which typically causes them to fall unless they have Hover.
  • Maul (PG): The same damage die as the Greataxe, but you trade Slashing damage for Bludgeoning and you trade Hamstring for Bash. Bludgeoning damage is marginally better of only because skeletons exist, and Bash allows you to debuff enemies’ attacks.

Barbarian Armor

Barbarians are proficient with medium armor and shields.

  • Breastplate (PG): A max AC of 16 if you have 14 DEX, which matches Unarmored Defense if you have 16 CON. Unless you have lower CON and decent DEX, there’s no reason to use Breastplate.
  • Half Plate (PG): The best AC for the vast majority of Barbarians if you’re going for manufactured armor, but the 14 DEX required to max that AC is a problematic cost.
  • Unarmored Defense (PG): 13 + CON is really good considering that it’s fairly easy to raise your CON, and that you can purchase magic items to boost your AC while unarmored like Bracers of Defense.


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.

  • Fighter: The Fighter’s Last Stand feature is absolutely amazing for the Barbarian. Martial Action is tempting, but since it uses your Bonus Action you can’t use it on the turn that you Rage. Even so, Quick Strike makes Two-weapon Fighting appealing, as you can apply your Rage damage bonus more times per turn.
  • Monk: Unarmored Defense abilities don’t stack.
  • Rogue: A dip into Rogue for Expertise in Athletics will go a long way if you plan to use Shove or Grapple, but without the Fighter’s big number of attacks Shove isn’t always a great option. Cunning Action isn’t always helpful for a Barbarian and conflicts with the numerous class features which use a bonus action (Rage, etc.), so most builds shouldn’t go past level 1.

Barbarian Magic Items

Common Magic Items

  • Anklets of Alacrity (PG): +PB to initiative, no attunement, won’t conflict with other magic items that you care about, and costs as little as a greatsword at just 50gp. Stellar on literally any character.

Uncommon Magic Items

  • Boots of Striding and Springing (PG): Jump distance is Strength-based, and trippling your jump distance makes it easy to jump over difficult terrain unimpeded.
  • (PG): An inexpensive way to get resistance to a common damage type.
  • Cloak of Protection (PG): Excellent on any character.
  • Eyes of the Eagle (PG): Advantage on most Perception checks is fantastic, especially if you’re proficient and have passable Wisdom.
  • Periapt of Wound Closure (PG): Barbarians have a ton of hit points, but they also take a lot of damage. Burning through hit dice quickly can make it difficult to survive a long adventuring day. This will dramatically improve your sustainability without needing to beg allies to heal you with spells and the like.
  • Stone of Good Luck (PG): Good on any character.
  • Weapon, +1PG: Barbarians are all about weapon attacks, so a numeric bonus to attack and damage is hard to beat. As you gain levels weapons more interesting than a +X bonus to attack/damage may be more interesting and more effective, but at the Uncommon rarity nothing can compete with a +1 Weapon for your offensive needs.

Rare Magic Items

  • Amulet of Health (PG): Works great with Unarmored Defense, and you can spend points at character creation on other ability scores. If you’re not going to reach level 20 (most campaigns never come close), there’s little incentive to raise your CON to 20. If your CON is already good or if you plan to increase it over time, get a Belt of Dwarvenkind instead.
  • Armor, +1PG: +1 AC, no attunement. Nothing fancy, but very effective. Of course, using armor means half plate, which means needing 14 DEX to fill out your AC. You’ll likely do better unarmored with magic items like Bracers of Defense instead.
  • Belt of Dwarvenkind (PG): A lot of great stuff on one item. Darkvision, poison resistance, +2 CON up to the usual max of 20, a language, and a nice beard. Wear this until your base CON reaches 20, then trade it to an ally if you don’t need the other benefits anymore.
  • Berserker Axes (PG) (Cursed): Okay, hear me out. I know it’s cursed. +1 to attack/damage, +1 hp per level, no attunement. That’s pretty good. Sure, you’re absolutely going to fail that DC 15 Wisdom save and go Berserk. But what were you planning to do with your actions anyway? Something other than attacking? Okay, sure, your allies might not appreciate being forced to retreat 60 feet or break line of sight to prevent you from murdering them, but that’s easily solved by someone throwing up a small illusion for the party to hide behind.
  • Bracers of Defense (PG): +2 AC that works with Unarmored Defense. Simple, reliable, and effective. I would go for a Cloak of Protection first on the Barbarian, but this is still a good item.
  • Flametongue (PG): This would be great for the Barbarian if it could be a greataxe.
  • Mantle of Spell Resistance (PG): Barbarians are extremely vulnerable to mental effects, many of which come from spells, so resistance to those effects is very helpful.
  • Periapt of Proof Against Poison (PG): 500 gp, immunity to poison, no Attunement required. Absolutely stellar.
  • Ring of Protection (PG): More expensive than a Cloak of Protection with the same effect, but you can only wear one cloak, so a ring may be easier if you have a cool magic cloak. The two also stack, providing a ton of protection.
  • Ring of Resistance (PG): Great for common damage types like fire.
  • Sword of Wounding (PG): A little bit of extra damage, but CON saves tend to be hihg, so don’t expect damage stacks to stick around. The healing prevent almost never matters except against enemies with Regeneration, and even then your allies will be dealing damage, too.
  • Weapon, +2PG: Mathematically spectacular. It’s difficult to beat the math here.

Very Rare Magic Items

  • Animated Shield (PG): An easy durability boost on Barbarians that don’t use their Bonus Action heavily, but there are less expensive passive AC boosts like Bracers of Defence or a Cloak or Ring of Protection.
  • Armor, +2PG: +2 AC, no attunement. Nothing fancy, but very effective. Of course, using armor means half plate, which means needing 14 DEX to fill out your AC. You’ll likely do better unarmored with magic items like Bracers of Defense instead.
  • Cloak of Displacement (PG): This will offset the Advantage to hit you caused by Reckless Attack, but the effect stops when you take damage, which will happen frequently since enemies don’t have Disadvantage to hit you. An AC bonus is much more reliable for the Barbarian.
  • Dancing Sword (PG): Excellent on any Barbarian that doesn’t already use their Bonus Action consistently.
  • Dwarven Thrower (PG): +3 warhammer that you can throw effectively. Ranged combat is among the Barbarian’s biggest weaknesses, so this is great.
  • Frost Brand (PG): Not good enough for this rarity. Get a Ring of Resistance.
  • Nine Lives Stealer (PG): Not better than a +2 sword in any meaningful way. The insta-kill effect is barely functional.
  • Spellguard Shield (PG): Great, but a Mantle of Spell Resistance is cheaper and doesn’t prevent you from using two-handed weapons.
  • Manuals of Advantageous Exertion (PG): Stellar on any character. Absolutely worth dropping all of your gold to get as many as you can find.
  • Vicious Weapon (PG): Trash. A +1 weapon is better. I don’t know why this is Very Rare, but you’ll have to ask the original 5e designers to explain it. At least the gp value is plausible.
  • Sword of Sharpness (): Amusing, and the natural 20 effect is similar to a low-budget Vorpal Sword, but not especially effective.
  • Weapon, +3PG: Mathematically spectacular. It’s difficult to beat the math here.

Legendary Magic Items

  • Armor, +3PG: +3 AC, no attunement. Nothing fancy, but very effective. Of course, using armor means half plate, which means needing 14 DEX to fill out your AC. You’ll likely do better unarmored with magic items like Bracers of Defense instead.
  • Vorpal Sword (): With consistent Advantage from Reckless Attack, you’re more likely to roll a natural 20 than most characters, and therefore decapitate your target.

Barbarian Example Build – Dwarf Berserker Barbarian

This build is very simple: tons of hit points and a big axe. We’ll be able to endure a massive amount of damage and deal a bunch, too.

Ability Scores

We’ll take the Ability Scores suggested above for non-stealthy Barbarians.

Level 1Level 20


Dwarf. Resistance to the most common non-weapon damage type and an extra hp per level both do a lot for us.


Cottage. The temporary hit points give us even more durability, and we can share with a growing number of our party members as we gain levels. We’ll choose Nature for our skill.

I don’t know what a “Cottage-Core Barbarian” would be, but I’m excited to find out.


Soldier. We’ll take Athletics and Survival for our skills, then Combat Conditioning for our Talent.

Skills and Tools

We’ll select Intimidation and Perception with our two class skills. We get Nature from our Heritage and Athletics and Survival from our Background

Improvements and Talents

At level 1 we get Combat Conditioning from our Background. This adds more hp and also makes our Hit Dice more reliable so that we can recover from all of the damage we’re going to take.

At level 4 we’ll take + STR and Furious Charge. Furious Charge provides a consistent damage bonus and useful tactical options for our whole career, and the 20-foot movement requirement fits nicely into our 40-foot speed once we Fast Movement.

At level 8 we’ll take + STR and Weapon Discipline (Maul). We’ll be even more accurate, and the additional damage die on crit will stack with the bonus dice from Brutal Critical. The temporary hit point benefit is wasted on the Berserker since Mindless Rage provides a bigger pool of Temporary Hit Points on the same trigger, but it’s still a great Talent for the Barbarian.

At level 12 we’ll take +1 CON and Heavy Weapon Mastery. We won’t even use the Bonus Action damage bonus, but getting an extra attack when we crit is really powerful since we’re critting roughly every other turn.

At level 16 we’ll take +1 CON and any Physical Fortitude to make ourselves even more durable.

At level 19 we’ll take +2 CON, bringing us to 20 just in time to get our Epic Boon at level 20.

If you want something more complex, consider trading some of the talents suggested here for Opportunist and Vanguard, then switch from a maul to a glaive. Adding area control capabilities will make you very impactful in combat at the cost of a reduction in damage output which can easily be worth the trade in order to keep your allies alive.


LevelTalents and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1Talent: Combat Conditioning
Unarmored Defense
Rage 2/day, +2
For your starting equipment, take a maul, two hand axes, and explorer’s pack, and four javelins. Get very comfortable with them because that’s basically everything you’ll use for your entire career unless you find magic items.

At level 1 we have a stunning 15 hit points, plus 4 temporary hit points after each long rest thanks to our Cottage Heritage, effectively giving us 19 hp at level 1. With that and the damage resistance from Rage, we can endure a truly insane amount of damage for a level 1 character.

Our AC of 16 is decent, but a +5 attack bonus is pretty typical so we’ll expect to be hit a little less than half of the times that we’re attacked. Our single Hit Die isn’t going to go very far even with Combat Conditioning.

Offensively, we have a Maul and the +2 damage bonus from Rage. If we’re not Raging (you only get 2/day), strongly consider using the Bash Weapon Option. At this level, most enemies have only one attack, and against a small group of enemies or a single enemy, you can dramatically tilt the balance of an encounter by forcing them to miss an attack, effectively wasting their entire turn.
2Danger Sense
Reckless Attack
Danger Sense is a great defensive option, but remember that we only have 9 DEX, so even with Advantage we’re going to fail a lot of DEX saves.

Reckless Attack is very exciting, but can also be very dangerous. We still have very few Hit Dice to spend, so recovering after we take a lot of damage can be difficult.
3Rage 3/day
Subclass: Berserker
Ruthless Bearing
Frenzy is excellent, fully doubling our damage output on turns when we can spare the Bonus Action to make the attack. Unfortunately, turn 1 needs that Bonus Action to activate Rage, but turn 2 is excellent.

Ruthless Bearing lets us add double our PB on Intimidation, which is great since we have 8 CHA. We’re still not amazing, but we’re passable and we’ll get better quickly as we add levels.
– STR 18 -> 19
– Talent: Furious Charge
Furious Charge adds some tactical options beyond “HIT THEM”. Now it’s “I RUN TOWARD THEM AND HIT THEM” and some fun rider effects. The majority of the time it’s fine to go for extra damage and knock them prone, but be sure to consider the benefits of moving them before you default to damage+prone.
5Fast Movement
Fast Movement raises your speed to 40 feet, and now when you Rage you get 20 feet of free movement (half of your speed). Conveniently, this movement counts for triggering Furious Charge. Even better, you can Rage, move 20 feet to attack with Furious Charge, then with your regular movement you can back 20 feet away and do it again!

If you didn’t start your turn precisely 20 feet away from your target, don’t worry: you can use Furious Charge to knock them 10 feet away on your first hit, buying you 10 feet of wiggle room to still accomplish the combo.

Unfortunately we can only do this on turn 1, but conveniently that’s the turn when we don’t get to make the extra attack from Frenzy, so that feels perfectly fine.

We do need to worry about an Opportunity Attack when we walk away to do a second Furious Charge, but if we knock our target prone with our first hit, they’ll attack us at Disadvantage (unless we used Reckless Attack, in which case it’s a regular attack roll).

PB increases at this level, allowing us to share our Cottage Heritage Temporary Hit Points with another ally and increasing the hp to 6, as well as increasing the damage bonus from Furious Charge.
6Rage 4/day
Feral Instinct
Feral Instinct compensates for our -1 DEX modifier when rolling initiative.
7Mindless RageMindless Rage complements our “lots of crits” strategy very nicely, especially once we get Brutal Critical in 2 levels. It also provides a crucial defense against Charm and Fear effects, both of which are common and which target our weak mental saves.

Remember that Temporary Hit Points don’t stack, so this won’t stack with our Cottage Heritage temp hp, but those points won’t last long, so Mindless Rage is a great way to replace them.
– STR 19 -> 20
– Talent: Weapon Discipline
By capping our Strength and adding Weapon Discipline, we improve our attack bonus and damage bonus with our maul by +2 in a single level, which feels really good.

We also get an early taste of Brutal Critical’s damage boost, though without the expanded crit range we still only crit a little less than 10% of the time when we attack with Reckless Attack.
9Brutal Critical (1 die)
Rage Damage +3
With the expanded critical hit range and with Reckless Attack providing consistent advantage, we have a 19% chance to crit on any given attack, so we’re critting almost 1 in 5 times. With three attacks per turn (Multiattack+Frenzy), we have a 47% chance to crit on a turn where we use Frenzy. When we do crit, we roll a total of 4d12 before we add modifiers, and that feels awesome.

Crits also mean Temporary Hit Points from Mindless Rage, so we’re restoring temp hp frequently, further stretching our truly massive pool of hit points.

PB increases at this level, allowing us to share our Cottage Heritage Temporary Hit Points with another ally and increasing the hp to 8. In a typical party of 4 players, we can now cover the whole party. We also increase the damage bonus from Furious Charge.
10Heroic Boon: Instant RageInitiative is rolled, you move 20 feet and immediately Rage without spending an action of any kind. This frees your Bonus Action on turn 1 for other activities, such as the additional attack from Frenzy.
11Intimidating PresenceMost of our tactics are simple, fairly blunt instruments, but Intimidating Presence is complicated. Use it against crowds while you and your party focus on a few enemies at a time. Frightened prevents movement toward you, so clever use of Furious Charge or Shove will let you place enemies where they can’t reach your allies in melee.

You might look at the DC and think “Oh no, it’s Charisma-based!”, but remember that we get to add our current number of Temporary Hit Points from Mindless Rage. At this level with 16 CON, that’s +7 to our DC. Even with -1 Charisma, our save DC is 20. A full caster’s save DC will be 19 at the same level (ignoring Talents, etc.). We’re doing fine.

Don’t use Intimidating Presence just for the damage bonus. The damage of using that same Bonus Action to make your Frenzy attack is massively more damaging. The damage bonus is there so that you don’t feel as bad giving up the attack to use Intimidating Presence. Your party members might have ways to frighten enemies, which is your best-case scenario.

This is the last big tactical change in the entire build. From here, your numbers increase and you’ll get more powerful, but you don’t need to learn anything new.
12Rage 5/day
– CON 16 -> 17
– Talent: Heavy Weapon Mastery
Heavy Weapon Master is solely for the additional attack when we crit. No tactical changes; just more damage.
13Brutal Critical (2 dice)5d12+mods when we crit.

PB increases at this level, allowing us to share our Cottage Heritage Temporary Hit Points with another ally and increasing the hp to 10, as well as increasing the damage bonus from Furious Charge.
14Persistent RageNo tactical changes, but it’s nice to not get knocked out of Rage so easily.
15RetaliationPicture this: An enemy is 20 feet away. They attack you at range. You’re infuriated by this, and decide to retaliate. As a Reaction you move half of your speed (conveniently 20 feet), which triggers Furious Charge, and you beat them into a fine paste with your maul.
– CON 17 -> 18
– Talent: Physical Fortitude
Rage Damage +4
Physical Fortitude further improves our excellent physical defenses.
17Rage 6/day
Brutal Critical (3 dice)
6d12+mods when we crit.

PB increases at this level, allowing us to share our Cottage Heritage Temporary Hit Points with another ally and increasing the hp to 12, as well as increasing the damage bonus from Furious Charge.
18Unyielding MightA floor on our Strength checks makes grappling a lot easier. The damage bonus against objects is neat, but rarely impactful. Still, taking your maul to the side of a castle suddenly feels very effective.
– CON 18 -> 20
We now have full plate AC.
20Epic Boon: Primal Champion24 Strength, 24 Constitution. Our AC is now 20 while completely unequipped. Our attack bonus is crazy, our damage is high, we have a stupefying 345 hit points, and we get fresh Temporary Hit Points every other turn on average.