How to Play a Barbarian in Dungeons and Dragons V3.5

This article will teach you how to create and play a barbarian in Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) V3.5. The barbarian is a warrior class similar to a fighter, but more wild and savage. This article assumes that you are familiar with the basic rules of D&D.


  1. 1
    Read about Barbarians. Before the first session of a campaign where you plan to play a barbarian you should read the entire entry on them in the Player's Handbook (PHB).
  2. 2
    Pick Your Race. Not every race makes a good barbarian. Half-Orcs and humans make the best barbarians. Dwarfs make acceptable barbarians, although Dwarf barbarians are rare. Elves, Half-Elves, Gnomes, and Halflings all make poor barbarians.
  3. 3
    Generate and Assign Your Vital Statistics. Consult the Dungeon Master (DM) and figure out how vital statistics (stats) will be generated. As a barbarian your most important stats are, in order of importance; Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity. Good Intelligence or Wisdom could be helpful at times, but your physical stats matter most.
  4. 4
    Pick Your Starting Skills and Feats. Barbarians tend to be the kind of people who live on their own in the wild and solve their problems with violence. Choosing skills and feats to fit this model will be easiest and quite effective. Barbarians have far fewer feats than fighters, reflecting their lack of formal training, but a number of special abilities help to make up for this. Climb, Jump, and Survival are good skills for a barbarian. Weapon Focus, Power Attack, and Improved Initiative are good feats for barbarians.
  5. 5
  6. 6
    Buy Starting Equipment. Barbarians should start with a primary weapon, a backup weapon, armor, and survival gear (bedroll, rations, etc.). If you choose a one handed weapon then a shield is also a good idea. Barbarians tend to be mobile and so consider sticking with light armor. Studded leather is good at first and then you can upgrade to a chain shirt when you have the money. The great-club, great-axe, and great-sword, are common and excellent weapon choices. You may want to carry a ranged weapon just in case, such as a few javelins.
  7. 7
    Know Your Role in the Party. You, like the fighter, are in the party to take hits and give hits. Your good armor class (AC) and very high hit points (HP) make you difficult to kill. Barbarians tend to rush in and swing wildly at the enemy until it dies. You will be nearly useless in social encounters, but that does not mean you have to remain silent. You may never convince anyone to change their mind but perhaps your character will try anyway.
  8. 8
    Understand The Effects of Rage. On a piece of scrap paper you should keep track of every important number that changes when you rage and what the new value will be, because there are a lot of changes.
    • The following is a list of modifiers that change when your barbarian rages; attack bonus, damage bonus, AC, HP, will save, fortitude save, and all skills based on Strength or Constitution. It slows down game play if you have to recalculate these values every time you rage.
    • Remember that when the rage ends your hit points revert to normal, this effect can kill you. For example, a 5th level barbarian with 50HP rages. Because his Constitution goes up by 4 his Constitution modifier goes up by 2. Since HP are affected by your Constitution modifier the barbarian gains 2 HP for each level for 10 more HP, giving him 60.
    • When his rage ends, this goes back to 50. Here is where you have to be careful. Say this barbarian takes 40 total damage during his rage, now he is down to 20HP. Then his rage ends. He still has 40 damage but now he has only 50HP max, so his current HP drops to 10. If he had 55 damage during the fight he would drop to -5 when the rage ended and fall unconscious, seconds away from death. If this sudden drop of HP puts the barbarian at -10 or lower he dies instantly.


  • Work as a team with any other melee based characters in your party.
  • A two handed weapon deals more damage.
  • The bonuses from a barbarian rage stack with every other bonus.
  • A weapon and a shield offers greater protection.


  • You can die when your rage ends.
  • Barbarians are illiterate no matter how high their Intelligence is.
    • You can spend 2 skill points any time you level up, or at character creation, to become literate in any language you speak. Read the entry on Illiteracy under Barbarian in the Player's Handbook for more information.

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Categories: Role Playing Games