Baldur's Gate 3 Barbarian Class Guide - Subclasses, equipment, and level progression
In Baldur’s Gate 3, the Barbarian is the epitome of raw melee power. While Fighters, Paladins, Monks, and Rangers display mastery of their weapons, divine oaths, martial arts, and terrain, respectively, Barbarians harness the fury of battle to inflict ruin upon their foes. Their class feature, Rage, lets their bloodlust drive their skills, allowing them to take advantage of this modal style of play in ways unlike any other class. To get a handle on the Barbarian’s unique features, as well as see some suggested ways to build out your character, read our Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian class guide.
Before You Begin
Note that none of these points are set in stone. Build your character the way you choose, and see these notes more as suggestions than rules. For more tips, check out our Baldur's Gate 3 Character Creation guide.
This guide will also assume that you are building a custom character. Origin Characters have unique interactions and roleplaying options available thanks to their preset nature. If you want to play a Barbarian Origin character, consider choosing Karlach as your protagonist when beginning Baldur’s Gate 3 .
Additionally, this guide presumes you are building a single-class character. Multiclassing into different classes as you level up is an option to gain new and useful abilities, but there’s also value in specialization. We’ll have a few multiclass suggestions for you at the end of the guide.
The Barbarian Playstyle
Baldur’s Gate 3 describes the Barbarian as a bundle of “keen instincts, primal physicality, and most of all, an unbridled, unquenchable rage.” This is a fairly strong hint as to how Barbarians should approach combat, too. “Cautious” and “tentative” are not words in the Barbarian vocabulary, and Barbarian players should lean into living it up in the center of combat. And you’ll need to be right in the center, as your Rages will subside early if you don’t attack at target or get hit at least once each turn.
Barbarians are puissant melee combatants, and quite self-sufficient in a fight, though they can’t quite measure up to dedicated Fighters and Paladins when it comes to fighting as an integrated part of a team. Barbarians are ideal outriders, disrupting enemy groups and confronting dangerous foes to keep them away from squishier allies. Barbarians’ prodigious strength also makes them ideal for using environmental objects, and even their enemies as weapons. There’s nothing quite like braining an enemy in the face with a large rock, a piece of furniture, or their buddy.
Barbarian Class Features
- Key Abilities: Strength and Constitution
- Barbarians use Strength as their main combat attribute, and Constitution gives them a big pool of HP to draw on in a fight. Con is particularly desirable for additional HP, since Barbarians can't wear Heavy Armor without compromising their Rages' effectiveness.
- Barbarians will add their Str and Con bonuses to appropriate saving throws.
- Gear Proficiency: Light and Medium Armor, Shields, Simple and Martial Weapons
- Skill Proficiency: At creation, Barbarians can gain Proficiency in two Skills from the following list. Most Barbarians will have a high Strength modifier and will gain outsize benefits from taking Athletics Proficiency.
- Animal Handling
- Unarmored Defense: Add your Constitution modifier to your Armor Class when not wearing any armor
- Rage: Enter Rage mode, dealing extra damage and gaining damage resistance for a time. Raging is the unique feature of the Barbarian class, and is their key to combat prowess.
- Rage can be entered as a Bonus Action.
- While raging, deal 2 extra damage when attacking using melee weapons and improvised weapons, and when attacking using a thrown object.
- Gain Physical Damage Resistance and Advantage on Strength-based skill checks and Saving Throws.
- Rage lasts 10 turns, but will end early if you do not attack a creature or take damage for a full turn.
- Raging while wearing Heavy Armor effectively nullifies most of the benefits of the Rage itself.
- Feral Instinct: Gain advantage on initiative rolls.
- Brutal Critical: Can roll additional damage when scoring melee critical attacks.
- Relentless Rage: When reduced to 0 HP while Raging, a Constitution save brings the Barbarian back to 1HP.
Barbarian Gear Recommendations
- Barbarians can use any weapon they’re proficient with, but a Great Weapon takes advantage of the Barbarian’s enhanced damage potential. Barbarians can also use shields, which will bring a welcome boost to their armor class. In general, though, use the best weapon you have. Barbarians don't have access to Fighting Style passive bonuses, so your choice of weapon is down to whatever will do the most damage when you swing it.
- As fun as throwing improvised objects can be, throwing random items doesn’t do as much damage as a dedicated weapon most of the time, so have a few Javelins or Hand Axes in your inventory to chuck at faraway foes.
- That said, throwing heavy objects (and your enemies) can knock them prone, leaving them vulnerable to a coup de grace.
- Wear the best Medium Armor you can get your hands on. Don’t bother with Heavy Armor, as it’ll impede your Rage.
- Going unarmored is also not recommended, as your Unarmored Defense bonus pales in comparison to even a common Chain Shirt or Hide Armor. Some magical clothing might be worth the sacrifice, though. Carefully check your gear's bonuses when deciding if your Barbarian will thrive fighting in the buff.
At Level 3, you’ll choose a Subclass of Barbarian to become. At launch, your choices in Baldur’s Gate 3 are the Berserker Barbarian, Wildheart Barbarian, and the Wild Magic Barbarian. Your choice of subclass will help shape your play style and the options available to you in combat.
A Berserker Barbarian leans all the way into their Rage powers, amping up what Rage does and building on top of its benefits. The Berserker Barbarian is angrier, harder to stop, and mightier, able to resist status effects that would nullify even the angriest “regular” Barbarian and strike fear into enemies’ hearts just by being around. You can also just pick up a guy and throw them at your enemy.
Berserker Barbarian Subclass Features
- Frenzy: Berserkers get an upgraded version of Rage called Frenzy. This enables two abilities that allow them to make bonus melee attacks (Frenzied Strike) and to deal increased damage with throws of weapons, objects, and even enemies (Enraged Throw).
- Mindless Rage - By the 6th level, Berserkers gain immunity to Charm and Frighten effects when Raging. In fact, you’ll be able to enter Rage while Charmed or Frightened, suspending the effects as long as your Rage lasts. This means you could potentially turn the tables on a foe that thinks they have you under control.
- Intimidating Presence - By the 10th level, Berserkers can scare a nearby creature until the end of the Berserker’s next turn. This is a powerful single-target control tool for disabling an enemy in combat, as Frightened creatures become Disadvantaged on any Ability Checks and Attack Rolls, and can’t move closer to the source of the fear.
A Wildheart Barbarian draws on their relationship to animals for strength, emulating them in supernatural ways when they enter their Rage. The Wildheart Barbarian bears similar features to the “Totem Warrior” Barbarian subclass from the tabletop edition of Dungeons & Dragons, though some of its subclass features have been adapted to the video game medium.
Wildheart Barbarians can choose a “Bestial Heart” that allows them to tap into the unique qualities of an animal, adding special properties and a special power to their Rage. The Bestial Heart powers add a new set of combat options for Barbarians, including some high-flying jump attacks that take advantage of their natural advantages in Athletics and combat movement.
Wildheart Barbarian Subclass Features
- Speak With Animals: Wildheart Barbarians gain the effects of the Speak With Animals Druid spell, using it once per Long Rest.
- Bestial Heart: Pick an upgraded Rage based on an animal spirit, granting access to unique powers when Raging. You can change your Bestial Heart action each level.
- Bear Heart:
- Gain damage resistance to all damage (except Psychic)
- Grants Unrelenting Ferocity - Heal for up to 10 HP
- Eagle Heart:
- Can use Dash as a bonus action, foes making Opportunity Attacks are Disadvantaged
- Grants Diving Strike - Leap onto a foe from above, if you are at least 1.5m above the target. You knock the target prone for 2 turns and do not take fall damage.
- Elk Heart:
- Movement speed increases by 4.5m
- Grants Primal Stampede - Charge forward for 9m, dealing Bludgeoning damage and knocking prone all targets in your way.
- Tiger Heart:
- Jump distance increases by 4.5m
- Grants Tiger’s Bloodlust - Attack up to 3 targets at once, causing Bleed for 2 turns.
- Wolf Heart:
- Allies gain Advantage on Attack Rolls on enemies within 2m of you.
- Gain Inciting Howl, increasing nearby allies’ move speed by 3m for the next turn.
- Bear Heart:
- Aspect of the Beast: Wildheart Barbarians can choose an Aspect of the Beast, gaining passive benefits based on a chosen animal. Your Aspect doesn’t have to be the same animal as your Bestial Heart.
- Bear Aspect - Increased carrying capacity and Advantage on Strength checks for interacting with objects.
- Eagle Aspect - Enhanced sight, removes penalties on Perception and Wisdom checks in low light.
- Tiger Aspect - Gain Proficiency in 2 Skills from the following: Athletics, Acrobatics, Stealth, Survival
- Wolf Aspect - Increased movement speed in Stealth
- Honey Badger Aspect - Enter Rage automatically if charmed, frightened, or poisoned.
- Spirit Walker: Wildheart Barbarians can commune with nature, summoning a spiritual version of one of the animals they chose for their Bestial Heart or Aspect of the Beast.
Wild Magic Barbarian
Tapping into the power of untamed magical energy, Wild Magic Barbarians trade certainty for intensity. They can use their unusual arcane potential to command surges of unpredictable magic, setting off randomized effects and lashing out at enemies who dare to harm them.
Wild Magic Barbarians are comfortable with gambling a little, using the random nature of Wild Magic to gain benefits that would otherwise be off the table for a physical melee-oriented class like a Barbarian. By the mid-game, Wild Magic Barbarians can use their magical talents to buff their allies, boosting their dice rolls and for some classes restoring their expended spells.
Wild Magic Barbarian Subclass Features
- Wild Surge: When entering Rage, a Wild Magic Barbarian triggers a random magical effect.
- Nearby enemies take Necrotic damage, and you gain temporary HP
- Gain the ability to teleport to nearby locations while your Rage is in effect.
- A spirit appears near an enemy, exploding for Force damage at the end of the turn.
- Your weapon becomes magically infused, dealing Force damage and returning to you if thrown.
- Creatures that attack you while in Rage take Force damage.
- Gain a protective magical field that grants a bonus to your AC and to the AC of nearby allies.
- Flowers and vines sprout on the ground around you, hindering nearby enemies.
- A beam of light shoots from your chest each turn of your Rage, dealing Radiant damage and blinding affected enemies.
- Bolstering Magic: Wild Magic Barbarians can harness their unstable magical power to reinforce their own or their allies’ rolls.
- A bolstered ally (or the Barbarian) gains a bonus to attack rolls and ability checks.
- An ally regains an expended spell slot of up to Level 3 once per long rest.
- Unstable Backlash: When attacked, Wild Magic Barbarians can use their magic to lash out if harmed while Raging.
- Immediately after taking damage or failing a save during Rage, you can trigger a Wild Surge, with a randomly rolled effect.
Barbarian Level Progression
These are the class features you’ll get as you level up as a Barbarian. The maximum level cap in Baldur’s Gate 3 at launch is Level 12. Use this to see what you’ll get at each level and plan accordingly, in case you wish to multiclass.
This guide will also highlight class features you gain based on your subclass choice. For more detailed info about the subclasses, see the sections above. Features gained by a Subclass are labeled with the Subclass name.
Note: Unlabeled benefits are “standard” class features and common to all subclasses.
- HP: 12 HP + Constitution Modifier, gaining minimum of 7 HP + Con modifier per level.
- Rage: 2 Charges per Long Rest. Rage damage increases by +2 per level.
- Gear Proficiency: See class features above.
- Skill Proficiency: See class features above, pick 2 skills.
- Unarmored Defense
- Danger Sense: Gain advantage on Dexterity saves against traps and spells you can see (through your or an ally’s Perception check). Danger Sense is ineffective if you are blinded, deafened, or incapacitated.
- Reckless Attack: Gain advantage on Attack Rolls for 1 turn, but enemies gain Advantage on Attack Rolls against you.
- Subclass Choice: Choose a Berserker, Wildheart, or Wild Magic subclass to proceed in. You will continue to gain standard Barbarian class features, in addition to subclass-specific features (such as Frenzy).
- Rage: Additional Rage charge (to 3 total).
- Primal Knowledge: Gain a skill proficiency from the Barbarian skill list.
- Berserker: Rage upgraded to Frenzy - Unlocks Frenzied Strike and Enraged Throw
- Berserker: Frenzied Strike: Can perform melee attack with equipped weapon as a Bonus Action
- Berserker: Enraged Throw: When Frenzied, pick up a nearby item or creature and throw it at a target as a Bonus Action. The thrown item/creature deals Bludgeoning damage and knocks the target prone for 1 turn. Your Strength will determine the weight of the object throwable.
- Wildheart: Speak With Animals: Can use the spell speak with animals once per Long Rest.
- Wildheart: Bestial Heart: Pick an upgraded Rage based on an animal spirit, granting access to unique powers when Raging. You can change your Bestial Heart action each level.
- Wild Magic: Wild Surge: Trigger randomized magical effects when entering Rage.
- Feat Selection: Can pick a Feat from All Classes Feat list. While any class at level 4 can pick any of the Feats, not all will be relevant to the class. You can also choose an ability improvement to boost a bonus or eliminate a penalty.
- For Barbarians, we recommend one of the following Feats:
- Ability Improvement - 2 points to distribute to any Ability score (to max of 20).
- Athlete - +1 to Str and Dex. Less movement cost to get up from Prone.
- Dual Wielder - +1 to AC when wielding melee weapons in each hand. Can use Two-Weapon Fighting style even when weapons are not light.
- Great Weapon Master - Bonus attacks on melee crit or kill. Heavy weapons suffer -5 Attack Roll penalty, but gain +10 damage.
- Martial Adept - Learn 2 Maneuvers from the Fighter Battle Master list.
- Mobile - Increases Move speed, Dash distance becomes unaffected by terrain. When moving after a melee attack, you do not provoke an Opportunity Attack.
- Skilled - Gain Proficiency in 3 Skills of your choice.
- Tough - +2 HP per level
- Weapon Master - +1 to Str or Dex, gain Proficiency with 4 weapons of your choice.
- For Barbarians, we recommend one of the following Feats:
- Extra Attack: Can make an additional free attack when making an unarmed or weapon attack.
- Fast Movement: Movement speed increases by 5 when not wearing Heavy Armor.
- Rage: Additional Rage charge (to 4 total).
- Wildheart: Aspect of the Beast: Choose an Aspect of the Beast.
- Berserker: Mindless Rage: Charm and Fear immunity while raging.
- Wild Magic: Bolstering Magic: Can buff self or companion in touch range.
- Feral Instinct: Advantage on Initiative rolls.
- Feat Selection: Can pick a Feat from All Classes Feat list or Ability Score Improvement.
- Brutal Critical: Roll 1 additional dice for damage on crit.
- Primal Knowledge: Gain a skill proficiency from the Barbarian skill list.
- Berserker: Intimidating Presence: Can frighten a nearby target.
- Wildheart: Spirit Walker: Can commune with nature.
- Wild Magic: Unstable Backlash: Trigger a Wild Surge as reaction to damage or failed save while Raging.
- Relentless Rage: When reduced to 0 HP while Raging, return to 1 HP on Con save.
- Feat Selection: Select a feat or improve an Ability Score.
Barbarians work best as melee fighters who lean into their Rage-based powers. The ideal Barbarian build will have the majority of their points in Barbarian classes, to better hone their unique features.
However, some class benefits from other classes may synergize well with a Barbarian’s skill set, at the cost of giving up a couple of potentially powerful Barbarian features.
A level in Fighter will grant a Barbarian access to the Fighter’s Fighting Style passive benefits, improving their results with their chosen weapon. Watch out, though, a Fighter level will add Heavy Armor proficiency, which Barbarians can’t wear without neutering their Rage effects.
Levels in Ranger can grant Barbarians martial skills, as well as the benefit of the Ranger’s Favored Enemy and Natural Explorer features, giving the Barbarian some contextual bonuses for fighting certain types of enemies and in certain locations.
At least 2 levels of Paladin will grant the Barbarian access to the powerful Lay on Hands, Divine Sense, and Divine Smite abilities, as well as some rudimentary Fighting Style and and Divine spellcasting features. That said, Paladins use Wisdom and Charisma as major stats, which may limit the effectiveness of such features in Barbarian hands.