This guide focuses on the Barbarian class, subclasses, best races, skills, feats, multiclassing, armour, and weapons in Baldur’s Gate 3 (BG3).
This Barbarian Class Guide will walk you through all the options for creating a powerful Barbarian Build. Each section will break down components, and we have separate guides for weapons, armour, and subclass, along with builds for each subclass Berserker, Wildheart, and Wild Magic. Let’s start with a brief explanation of the subclasses for the Barbarian.
Barbarian Class in Baldur’s Gate 3
The Barbarian class in Baldur’s Gate 3 is a powerful melee combatant specializing in dealing and taking damage. Barbarians are known for their Rage ability, which allows them to temporarily tap into their inner primal strength to become even more deadly.
Barbarian Class Features and Mechanics in BG3:
- Primary Ability: Strength
- Unique Features: Unarmored Defense, Rage, Reckless Attack
- Subclasses: Berserker, Wildheart, Wild Magic
- Spellcasting: None
- Armor Proficiency: Light and Medium Armour and Shields
- Weapon Proficiency: Simple Weapon, Martial Weapon
- Hit Die: +12 HP + CON Modifier (base)
Barbarian Subclass in Baldur’s Gate 3
The Barbarian subclasses in Baldur’s Gate 3 all offer their own unique benefits and playstyle. The Barbarian class can choose one of three subclasss at level 3: Berserker, Wildheart, and Wild Magic. Your subclass unlocks additional specific features at levels 3, 6, and 10. The Barbarian isn’t a spellcaster and remains a simple yet effective class for melee regardless of your subclass.
Barbarian Subclass Overview in BG3:
- Berserker: They make the best use of their bonus action by getting an extra attack, increased range, and a stun.
- Wildheart: A more versatile subclass of Barbarian, with various bonus action abilities and passive benefits based on chosen animal spirit.
- Wild Magic: When they enter a rage, they cast a random spell or action, which can be anything from a healing spell to a powerful, damaging spell.
Barbarian Character Creation
Character creation in Baldur’s Gate 3 is a comprehensive process that allows you to create a character that is uniquely your own. You can choose your character’s race, class, background, appearance, and ability score. The most important of these decisions is your race because you cannot change this without mods once you’ve started your character. The second most important is the ability score, which you can change via the NPC Withers at your camp. Background and skills are less important for combat performance but play a significant role in how your character’s dialogue and exploration function. Let’s break down each of these character creation decisions for the Barbarian class in Baldur’s Gate 3.
Best Barbarian Race
The best Barbarian Race is the Half-Orc because they receive Savage Attacks and Relentless Endurance, which provides the best damage and survivability for a melee-dependent build. Savage Attacks: When you score a critical hit with a melee weapon attack, you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit. This pairs well with the Brutal Critical class feature for insane damage on critical hits later as you advance the Barbarian. Relentless Endurance gives you 1 HP after being after reaching zero, which prevents you from being downed. This get-out-of-jail-free card can save your life and your group from wiping.
Here is a chart for the best Barbarian Races in BG3:
|No. 1 for Barbarian: Savage attacks rolls an extra weapon dice on crit. Relentless Endurance prevents you from dying when reaching 0 HP.|
|Zariel Tiefling||Hellish Resistances,|
|No. 2 for Barbarian: Savage attacks rolls an extra weapon dice on crit. Relentless Endurance prevents you from dying when reaching 0 HP.|
|No. 3 for Barbarian: Gives fire resistance and two free smite melee abilities with Thaumaturgy Cantrip|
|Wood Elf||Fleet of Foot,|
Elven Weapon Training.
|No. 4 for Barbarian: Blends mobility bonus with protection against Charm and Sleep spells.|
Some alternative choices for Barbarian races are the Zariel Tiefling, Githyanki, and Wood Elf. All races grant a +1 and +2 to your chosen ability score, making the choice between races less stark. However, the Zariel Tiefling receives two Smite abilities per long rest (Paladin abilities): fire resistance and Darkvision. The Githyanki gives you increased mobility with Psionic Jump and Misty Step spells. The Wood Elf has the best base movement speed of 10.5 meters, along with Darkvision and Fey Ancestry. Darkvision is an important aspect of your racial choice, allowing you to see up to 12 meters in the dark. In certain fights or the Underdark, you will reduce your chance of hitting significantly if you do not have Darkvision.
Ability score selection is one of the most important decisions when creating your Barbarian class in Baldur’s Gate 3. Your ability scores will determine how well your character performs in combat, how well they can interact with the world around them, and how many skills they can be proficient in.
Below is the best ability score for the Barbarian in BG3:
Barbarian Ability Scores Explained
The most important ability score for the Barbarian is Strength. Strength impacts your ability to land attacks (attack rolls) and determines the damage you deal when wielding melee weapons. Additionally, it plays a role in your jumping distance and the weight you can bear. Your goal is to reach 16 Strength in character creation. You typically want to land on even numbers because you only gain a +1 on even numbers. So, if you have 16 or 17 Strength, your ability modifier will be the same number. The only change to this strategy is if you plan on getting permanent stat bonuses quickly during your playthrough. Auntie Ethel provides one very early if you complete her quest in a certain way. That will push you to 18 Strength, giving you another +1 to your ability modifier.
Next up is the Constitution, which determines health but for Barbarians, it’s a little more complex. At Level 1, Barbarians unlock Unarmoured Defence, allowing you to add your Constitution modifier AND Dexterity to Armour Class (AC). AC determines your probability of avoiding attacks. BG3 wants the Barbarian to use clothing rather than medium armour. If you have 16 Constitution and 14 Dexterity, and cloth provides 10 base AC, your Barbarian will have 15 AC. This isn’t very high, but it allows you to wear powerful clothing designed for Barbarian, which we will cover in weapons and gear.
Lastly, we have Dexterity, which I’ve touched on briefly. You want about 14 in Dexterity, so you get +2 to your AC and have a higher Initiative. Initiative determines the order of attack, and at Level 7, the Barbarian unlocks Feral, which grants a +3 bonus to Initiative and can’t be Surprised. This will have you taking a turn very early and doing big damage on turn one.
Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma are mainly story-based factors if you use this character as your main “speaker.” I like to put one skill high, like Wisdom, and take a skill from there, vs. a spread-out ability score.
Background & Skills
Background and skill selection are important parts of character creation in Baldur’s Gate 3. Your background will give you two skill proficiencies, while your skills will allow you to perform various tasks and interact with the world. Skills and their power are directly related to your ability score, meaning if you have the 8 Intelligence, picking Investigation will be a -1 in dialogue. Typically, you want to take Athletics, Intimidation, and Survival. These will fit the Barbarian character story and help you in non-combat situations.
Level Progression for Barbarian Class
Level progression in Baldur’s Gate 3 is like other RPGs and games. As you gain experience points, your character will level up. At each level, you unlock a class or subclass feature. Some of these are abilities or passive features that aid your character in combat. The maximum level in BG3 is 12, and we will walk you through what happens at each level. Consider the Barbarian massive spikes in power in Levels 3, 5, and 9. At first, the class will be limited and seem weak, but stick with it until at least Level 5, where it dramatically improves.
Barbarian Class Level Progression in BG3:
- Level 1: Rage & Unarmoured Defence
- Level 2: Reckless Attack & Danger Sense
- Level 3: 1 Rage Charge
- Level 4: Feat
- Level 5: Extra Attack & Fast Movement
- Level 6: 1 Rage Charge
- Level 7: Feral Instinct
- Level 8: Feat
- Level 9: Brutal Critical
- Level 10: Subclass Specific
- Level 11: Relentless Rage
- Level 12: 1 Rage Charge & Feat
At level one, you unlock Rage and Unarmoured Defence. Rage is the main mechanic of the class and typically what you use your bonus action for on turn one. Rage gives you Resistance to physical damage and Advantage on Strength Checks and Saving Throws. Rage lasts for 10 turns by default, but you need to attack and or be attacked every turn to keep it active. You also start with a limited amount of Rage charges, and as you level, you earn more, which replenish via long rest.
Below is the Barbarian Rage Charge per level in BG3:
- Level 1-2: 2 Rage Charges
- Level 3-5: 3 Rage Charges
- Level 6-11: 4 Rage Charges
- Level 12: 5 Rage Charges
Rage and its usage is why you need to play ultra-aggressive during combat to get the most out of your Barbarian build. Also, consider equipping a Heavy Crossbow as a ranged weapon so you can continue to attack when movement speed is sluggish.
The second important class feature is Unarmoured Defence. While not wearing armour, you add your Constitution Modifier to your Armour Class. Armour Class determines the likelihood someone will miss an attack, and this passive gives you options in armour and clothing selections. Barbarians have medium armour proficiency, but the medium armour selects are weak off offensive bonuses. The benefit to medium is higher AC value at the cost of lower offensive potential. Typically, you want to have 16 Constitution, 14 Dexterity, and wear clothing, which will get you to 15 AC.
Shield of Faith spell increases Armour Class by 2 and is a great way to increase Armour Class early via a Cleric companion like Shadowheart. The Sword of Justice item in Act 1 also gives this to the wielder and combines to reach 17 early in Act 1. Also, you don’t want to equip any armour piece without looking at the tooltip, not just the one in your chest slot. Sometimes helmets, gloves, and boots have light, medium, or heavy armour and will reduce your AC. Check each piece of equipment and your character screen to have 15 or higher AC.
At Level 2, the Barbarian unlocks Reckless Attack and Danger Sense. Reckless Attack is your primary attack and gives you an Advantage on Attack Rolls, but enemies also have an Advantage against you. Advantage lets you roll two d20 rather than one, helping your percentage significantly hit a target. But that target also has the same Advantage against you. Typically, this is your go-to attack, and if you’re worried about dying on the following turn, use your main hand attack instead to avoid the Advantage from the enemy.
Danger Sense is a passive bonus that gives you Dexterity Saving Throws against traps, spells, and surfaces. This isn’t that impactful, but it can help while exploring.
At level four, you unlock a feat. You can either choose to increase your ability score or acquire specific talents. Further in this guide, I will give some options for Feats and which are the best for the Barbarian. You can unlock feats at levels 4, 8, and 12 with the Barbarian.
Level 5 is the massive jump in power due to the Extra Attack feature. You can make an additional free attack after making an unarmed or weapon attack. With one action, you can now attack two times per turn. Depending on your build, you can attack again with your bonus action. You can further augment and enhance this Extra Attack by gaining another action through the spell Haste or Potion of Speed. This will give you 4x attacks and a bonus action attack for 5x in one turn. You will feel much stronger now; typically, mobility is lacking at this level.
Speaking of mobility, you unlock the Fast Movement class feature, which increases movement speed while not wearing armour. This is very helpful for starting out, and you can combine this with the Crusher Ring for even more movement speed.
At level 6, you will get an additional Rage charge and a subclass feature.
At level 7, you unlock the Feral Instinct class feature. You gain a +3 bonus to Initiative, and you can’t be Surprised. This is an enormous bonus, even though it doesn’t look important. You are very likely to go first, which is extremely helpful. In Baldur’s Gate 3, The weakness of the Barbarian class is lower Dexterity and Initiative. Going much later in the attack order means you can be crowd-controlled, immobilized, stunned, etc. This will skip your turn(s) and lower your kill potential. Surprise can also help post-dialogue cut scenes or while exploring, essentially skipping your first turn.
Feral Instinct allows you to open on turn one, likely using Rage for a bonus action and then an extra attack to hopefully take down a target or two. You really feel a jump in power at this level if you have high movement speed and a meta-race selection.
At level 8, you get another feat selection, which will go in depth later.
Brutal Critical is unlocked at this level, which provides every critical roll an extra damage die as well as the normal additional critical dice. An amazing gear combination is Killer’s Sweetheart Ring and the Surgeon’s Subjugation Amulet. Killer’s Sweetheart gives you an automatic critical hit after killing a creature, and Surgeon’s gives you free Paralyze stuff upon a critical hit. You furthermore use the feat Great Weapon Master, which gives you another attack with a bonus action after a critical hit. And if you didn’t skip ahead (that’s okay, too), the Half-Orc race gives you Savage Attacks, letting you roll another dice on a critical hit. You will unload on a critical hit and have more chances to do so.
Level 9 or 10 is a good time to multiclassing your builds. Beyond this level, you don’t get much besides a feat at level 12. I’ll explain multiclassing a bit more, but be aware that this is where your Barbarian power dips and nothing impactful happens.
Level 10 is a subclass feature level.
Level 11 grants you a Relentless Rage class feature. If you drop to 0 HP while Enraged, you regain 1 hit point instead of being Downed. This is very similar to the Half-Orc Race feature Relentless Endurance. This is obviously a helpful survival passive.
Level 12, you get another Rage charge and a feat.
Feats are special abilities that characters can choose to gain in Baldur’s Gate 3. They can provide various benefits, such as increased damage output, improved defenses, or new skills and abilities. Barbarians can choose their first feat at level 4 and every four levels thereafter. However, they can only choose one feat per level. If you’re multiclassing, this may change your feat selection. More on that later.
Below is a list of the best Barbarian feats:
- Great Weapon Master: Attack Rolls take a -5 penalty, but their damage increases by 10.
- Savage Attacker: When making melee weapon attacks, you roll your damage dice twice and use the highest result.
- Mobile: Your Movement Speed increases by 3m to avoid opportunity attacks after your attack.
- Tough: Hit Point maximum increased by 2 for each level.
In Baldur’s Gate 3, the best feat for the Barbarian class is Great Weapon Master because it increases damage and allows you to make an additional attack with a bonus action after a kill or critical hit. Great Weapon Master can also be toggled on or off in the passive section of the players’ toolbar. This toggle will remove the +10 damage and the -5-penalty, giving you some control if your chance to land an attack is low.
The increased damage is massive, and the expense of a -5 attack roll essentially lowers your chance to hit. However, you gain more strength, spells, and potions that negate or completely remove the -5 attack roll issue as you level. Bless is a spell that helps increase your percentage chance to hit, and the potion Elixir of Heroism gives you Blessed until a long rest. Savage Attacker, Mobile, and Tough all make good alternative choices depending on your playstyle.
Recommended Barbarian Feat selection:
- Level 4: Ability improvement +2 Strength
- Level 8: Great Weapon Master
- Level 12: Ability improvement +2 Strength
This simple and effective Barbarian feat selection will give you 20 Strength at max level with the Great Weapon Master feat. You will hit very hard, have a much higher chance to land an attack, and have utility with your bonus action after a kill or a critical strike.
Multiclassing in Baldur’s Gate 3 is a way to combine two different classes into one character. This can give you a wider range of skills and abilities and allow you to create a more unique and customized character. The downside of multiclassing is you won’t progress to your original class level, meaning, if you take Barbarian to level 11 and 1 level in Fighter, you will miss out on the feat the Barbarian obtains at level 12.
The Barbarian is a great class to multiclass in BG3, specifically between levels 9 and 10. The best class to multiclass a Barbarian is the Fighter. The Fighter at level one gives you Great Weapon Fighting. When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll. This will increase your damage consistency and isn’t an innate feature of the Barbarian. You get an Action Surge from the Fighter class at Level 2 and immediately gain an extra action to use this turn.
Action Surge can be combined with a Potion of Speed or Haste spell for three actions per turn. At max level, with two levels into Fighter, a Potion of Speed or Haste, this is what your Barbarian could do with one turn:
- Action Attack
- Extra Attack
- Action 2 Attack
- Extra Attack
- Action 3 Attack
- Extra Attack
- Great Weapon Master Attack
With the potential for seven attacks in one turn with incredible critical damage, the Fighter is the way to go with multiclassing. The Rogue and Thief subclass is also a good option starting at Level 10. This can give you an additional bonus action at max level, which can be used for Berserk Frenzied Strike and Great Weapon Master.
Weapons & Armour
Weapon and armor choices in Baldur’s Gate 3 are important, as they can significantly impact your character’s combat performance. We have two separate guides for Barbarian Weapons and Armour. The best weapon for the Barbarian is the Greatsword for its overall damage, versatility in weapon skills, and available choices. The best armour for the Barbarian is clothing. Barbarian clothing has specific gear sets that aid in your Rage and Frenzy. Medium armour will hinder your movement but give you more AC, while Heavy Armour will cause Rage Impeded, which removes the damage and damage reduction benefit. In general, cloth is the way to go with high health.
Best Barbarian Class Weapons per Acts in BG3:
- Act 1: Everburn Blade, Sword of Justice
- Act 2: Soulbreaker
- Act 3: Balduran’s Giantslayer, Silver Sword of the Astral Plane
Best Barbarian Class Armour and Clothing per Acts in BG3:
- Act 1: Bloodguzzler Garb, Adamantine Scale Mail
- Act 2: Enraging Heart Garb, Yuan-Ti Scale Mail
- Act 3: Bonespike Garb