Baldur's Gate 3Classes

Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian and Subclasses (Overview Guide)

Everything You Should Know About the Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian and its Subclasses

In Baldur’s Gate 3, Barbarians are martial warriors known for their brute strength, physical toughness, and endless rage.

Unlike other martial classes in Baldur’s Gate 3, Barbarians utilize their ferocity and rage mechanics to provide themselves with advantage and inflict disadvantage on their foes.

What they may lack in intelligence they make up for in brutal strength.

In this BG3 Barbarian class overview, we’ll be covering its pros and cons, its roles in and out of combat, along with its subclasses.

Find out where the Barbarian ranks in our Baldur’s Gate 3 class tier list.

Pros and Cons

barbarian icon


  • One of the best frontliners in the game with access to a high Armor Class and Hit Points
  • Higher chance for critical strikes with Advantage on melee attacks from Reckless Attack
  • Straightforward class to learn and easy to play well in Baldur’s Gate 3


  • Late game impact may feel reliant on certain magical items i.e, access to self-healing.
  • Barbarians lack spellcasting, sort-of solved by the Wild Magic subclass. This may leave players wanting more. You can still utilize spell scrolls to gap-fill spell needs.
  • If bashing, smashing and throwing things is not your cup of tea, you’ll dislike the player experience of the Barbarian class.

karlach barbarian

BG3 Barbarian Mechanics

Unlike most classes in Baldur’s Gate 3, which prioritize 2 core ability scores, Barbarian’s have 3. Strength, Dexterity and Constitution. The reason these three are key for Barbarians is primarily due to their Unarmored Defense passive ability, explained in detail below.

Barbarian’s also have 3 key mechanics which you will need to master to maximize the impact of your character. These are Rage, Reckless Attack and Unarmored Defense, as mentioned before. As you level up you’ll receive additional passive features and active abilities which expand on these core mechanics.

You should be aware that Barbarian’s abilities essentially revolve around smashing and strong-arming your way through Baldur’s Gate 3.


Rage is one of three core mechanics for Barbarians and, when activated, provides resistance against physical attacks.

barbarian rage

Additionally, you will deal extra damage with melee attacks, improvised weapons and with thrown objects while Raging. Rage will end at the end of your turn if you did not attempt to attack an enemy and did not take any damage since the end of your previous turn.

You do not need to deal damage to continue raging. You have limited charges of Rage, so it is ideal to maximize the length of each Rage. This should be easy to do since you will likely be in the middle of the battlefield attacking and being targeted by your foes.

Unarmored Defense

Unarmored Defense is a passive ability for a Barbarian which simply increases your resilience. While not wearing any armor, you add your Constitution Modifier in addition to your Dexterity Modifier to your Armor Class.

This means your Armor Class equals 10 plus your Dexterity Modifier plus your Constitution Modifier while not wearing any armor. You can increase your Armor Class further by equipping a shield, which is a general recommendation across all classes as it decreases the likelihood of being hit from an enemy attack by 10%.

Reckless Attack

Reckless Attack is the last of the commonly referenced core mechanics for Barbarians. This activatable ability gives you advantage on your melee attacks until your next turn however it also gives enemies advantage on attacks against you.

This may seem dangerous at first because there will likely be more attacks against you than your single attack with advantage each round of combat. Remember how the Rage ability works and that in the event you deal no damage on your attack with advantage, Reckless Attack provides your enemies with advantage to increase the likelihood that you take damage, extending the length of your Rage ability for another turn.

You also have one of the highest Armor Classes of any character in the early levels of the game, thanks to Unarmored Defense, and you’ll have the largest health pool as you level up through the game. One option you should consider enabling regarding Reckless Attack is turning on the “Ask” option in the Reactions Menu for your Barbarian. Doing so will prompt if you wish to activate Reckless Attack every time you make an attack role.

The Barbarian’s Party Role

In BG3, it’s important to understand the capabilities of each class, not only in combat, but also out of combat. Here’s a breakdown of what the Barbarian provides:

In Combat

As a Barbarian you would ideally be the party’s frontline tank, or a melee striker going after key targets during combat. You have several defensive abilities and proficiencies which increase your total survivability in combat, so you would rather be your enemies first target instead of your squishy allies.

Your turns will likely consist of Raging, Reckless Attacks against your enemies. An example turn could be rushing towards an enemy spell caster, then throwing them backward so they’re in range of your allied spell casters.

Baldur’s Gate 3 has several combat-active objects on the battlefield, so explore interactions with them. You may throw a chair at a ladder, destroying it and stopping an enemy from escaping.

wildheart barbarian splash

However you spend your actions during your turn, you will want to ensure you keep Rage active once enabled. You have a limited number of Rage charges per rest, so keep it activated for as long as possible during combat, but be mindful of your current hit points.

A common challenge for Barbarians is recognizing when you have taken too much damage and you are at risk of collapsing on the battlefield. As you are likely the party’s tank, with limited self-healing abilities, you may need to take up a defensive position for a round or two so you can chug a health potion before getting back into the fight.

Out of Combat

For most Barbarian’s, Strength will be your primary ability score as it correlates to your likelihood to hit with a melee attack, but you may also focus on Dexterity and Constitution. For this reason, you will naturally be better at the following skill checks because of your high Strength and, potentially, Dexterity:

  • Athletics (Str)
  • Acrobatics (Dex)
  • Sleight of Hand (Dex)
  • Stealth (Dex)

With these commonly increased skills, your Barbarian may be the best member in the party to do all of the physical labor. Need someone to jump up the slide of that wall and throw the chest down? “Get to climbing, Barbarian.” Need someone to carry all of your extra equipment, potions and camp supplies? “Send it to the Barbarian.” Need someone to knock down that brick wall? “Send in the Barbarian!”

dragonborn barbarian

In their implementation of Barbarian’s in Baldur’s Gate 3, Larian Studios recognized that many parties will choose to use the Barbarian as the face to talk, or push, their way through conversations.

Do not shy away from the option of your Barbarian handling the majority of the conversations throughout Baldur’s Gate 3 as there are several creative and comical dialogue options, which I highly suggest! Part of the enjoyment in the RPG is the ‘roleplaying’ storyline that you and your party create along the way.

Let’s Talk About the “Dexbarian”

A Barbarian gets the most benefit from Strength as their primary ability score, although there is an argument for sharing ability scores with both Dexterity and Constitution.

dnd 5e barbarian

Conceptually, Dexbarians utilize Finesse weapons, which scale off of Dexterity Score, and often ignore the Strength ability score altogether. This maximizes the impact of Unarmored Defense but at the cost of the bonus damage from Rage, which only applies to melee attacks from Strength-based weapons.

If you are still interested in the Dexbarian, know that the play style is similar to a melee-focused rogue, which may be ideal for how you wish to play the class!

Barbarian Subclasses

Unlike some other classes in Baldur’s Gate 3, Barbarians do not select their subclass until level 3. The subclasses of Barbarian provide 3 very different playstyles, so consider how you wish to play your Barbarian before selecting the subclass. The options are:

  • Berserker
  • Wildheart
  • Wild Magic

Here’s a breakdown of the three Barbarian subclasses and their playstyles.


berserker subclass

The Berserker Barbarian has specializations stemming from your anger and fury, while using the Rage ability in combat. If you select this Barbarian subclass, your Rage grows in power resulting in the following:

Level Feature Description


  • As a bonus action, you turn your Rage into an uncontrollable fury and deal additional damage from melee attacks, improvised weapon attacks and thrown objects.

Frenzied Strike

  • You may make a melee attack as a bonus action. Using Frenzied Strike applies a stack of Frenzied Strain to your character.
  • Each stack of Frenzied Strain applies a -1 to your attack role. All stacks of Frenzied Strain are removed when Frenzy ends.

Enraged Throw

  • You may make a ranged attack as a bonus action by throwing an object at a target.
  • Using this ability deals additional damage and can knock your target prone, providing advantage for further melee attacks against that target.

Mindless Rage

  • This passive feature provides a layer of defense against spells to extend your Rage.
  • You can no longer be Charmed or Frightened while raging and enemies cannot use the spell Calm Emotions to satisfy your Rage.

Intimidating Presence

  • This action allows you to fear your opponents in combat. Your target must make a wisdom saving throw, or be Frightened for two turns.
  • While Frightened, your target cannot move and has disadvantage on ability checks and attack rolls.
  • You’ll have the option to extend the period of your Intimidating Presence as an action during your turn.


wild heart

Blend your Barbaric attitude with the supernatural powers of nature with this Wildheart Barbarian subclass. Your bloodthirsty rage becomes aligned with the creatures who inspire you. If you select this Barbarian Subclass, you receive the following:

Level Feature Description

Speak with Animals

  • You may cast the Speak with Animals Level 1 spell once per long rest without expending a spell slot.

Bestial Heart

  • Choose 1 of 5 Beastial Hearts to represent your natural inspiration. These choices further expand on the abilities of your Rage mechanic. The current inspiration can be changed each time you level up. The options are:
    • Bear Heart
      • While raging you can use the Unrelenting Ferocity action to receive Resistance to all damage types except psychic damage.
    • Eagle Heart
      • While raging you can use the Diving Strike action to attack enemies from the Sky. Enemies also have disadvantage on your attacks of opportunity and you can Dash as a bonus action.
    • Elk Heart
      • While raging you can use the Primal Stampede ability to knock enemies you pass by prone. Additionally, your movement speed increases.
    • Tiger Heart
      • While raging you can use the Tiger’s Bloodlust ability to attack multiple targets and inflict the bleeding status effect. Your jump distance also increases.
    • Wolf Heart
      • While raging you can use the Inciting Howl ability to provide your nearby allies with increased movement speed as well as advantage on melee attacks against nearby enemies.

Animal Aspect

  • Select one animal of your choosing to receive a related bonus aspect for your character.
    • Bear
      • Carrying Capacity is doubled. You have advantage on Strength checks.
    • Chimpanzee
      • Resistance to fall damage. Throwing Camp Supplies blinds targets.
    • Crocodile
      • Your movement speed increases while in water and you have advantage against falling prone on slippery surfaces.
    • Eagle
      • You receive Darkvision and gain advantage on Perception checks.
    • Elk
      • Grant yourself and nearby allies a permanent movement speed increase.
    • Honey Badger
      • If you’re Poisoned, Frightened or Charmed at the start of your turn, there is a chance you will start Raging without expending a Rage charge.
    • Stallion
      • Dashing grants you temporary hit points.
    • Tiger
      • You gain proficiency in Survival and add an additional Strength modifier when attacking Poisoned or Bleeding targets.
    • Wolf
      • You and nearby allies add your Dexterity modifier to Stealth checks.
    • Wolverine
      • Inflict Maim on Poisoned or Bleeding targets.

Land’s Stride – Difficult Terrain

  • You have become an expert at moving through nature and are no longer slowed down by Difficult Terrain.

Additional Animal Aspect

  • You may select an additional Animal Aspect from the list provided at Level 6 above.

Wild Magic

wild magic

If you select the Wild Magic subclass for the Barbarian, your fury grows from an unpredictable and uncontrollable source of magic inside you. This provides you with some access to mostly positive spell effects, however the resultant effects are random.

You may infuse your weapon with a bonus damage type or provide you and your allies with defensive features. You could even give yourself the ability to teleport as a bonus action! If you select the Wild Magic Barbarian subclass, you receive the following:

Level Feature Description

Rage: Wild Magic

  • Activating your Rage mechanic instantly causes a random magical effect.

Magic Awareness

  • Anyone near you adds their Proficiency Bonus to Saving Throws against spells.

Bolstering Magic – Boon

  • You or an ally receive a bonus to Attack Roles and Ability Checks for several turns.

Bolstering Magic – Level 1 Spell Slot

  • You or an ally may recover a Level 1 Spell Slot.

Bolstering Magic – Level 2 Spell Slot

  • You or an ally may recover a Level 2 Spell Slot.

Bolstering Magic – Level 3 Spell Slot

  • You or an ally may recover a Level 3 Spell Slot.

Unstable Backlash

  • While raging, you trigger a Wild Magic effect every time you take damage or fail a Saving Throw. This effect immediately replaces the previous Wild Magic effect.

So, which Barbarian subclass should you play?

The classic Barbarian is the Berzerker. Be the melee monster wreaking havoc on the battlefield, longing for the next slash of your blade against your enemy. The mechanics are simply enough for new players, but the challenge with this subclass is managing your hit points.

If you’re new to the Barbarian class or Baldur’s Gate 3, the Wildheart Subclass is the recommended subclass to choose. It offers you a variety of nature themed passive and active abilities, changeable each level, so you’ll always be able to bring something to the table for your party. If you’re not a fan of the current ability or playstyle, simply change it next time you level up.

The Wild Magic Barbarian is often referred to as a support subclass for the party since you can, at random, provide benefits for your allies. The subclass feature of Bolstering Magic is extremely powerful for the spellcasters in your party as you provide a passive method for them to regain their Spell Slots. This subclass is highly recommended if you’re looking to provide boons to your allies while filling a martial role within your party composition.


The Barbarian class in Baldur’s Gate 3 is an easy-to-approach but challenging to master martial class. You will find several different ways to augment your playstyle throughout the game and experience unique, often comedic, dialogue options during your exploration of the world.

The best Barbarians will utilize their base mechanics, and Rage modifiers through the subclass, to successfully fill a specific role as a martial addition to the party.

You might be the main tank and core target for the enemies, or perhaps the striker getting to and then eliminating key enemies in each fight. Embrace your Rage, thirst for blood, and Smash!