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Best Races and Ability Scores for Barbarian in Baldur’s Gate 3

Best Races and Ability Scores for Barbarians in Baldurs Gate 3 - A Half-Orc being built as a barbarian in the character creation screen of Baldur's Gate III

Do you like smashing things until they’re dead? If so, then, boy, do I have a class to recommend in Baldur’s Gate 3. More than any of the other melee-focused classes in the game—of which there are many—Barbarians channel rage into monster-slaying supremacy. But not all are created equal. Certain races and ability scores favor the Barbarian class much more than others in the homebrewed D&D 5e ruleset that Baldur’s Gate 3 runs.

As you’d expect, Barbarians need Strength and a lot of it. For the most part, Barbarians will be using its class action (Rage) to deal massive damage with whatever weapon they’re wielding—and lucky for the class, they have proficiency in Martial and Simple Weapons, meaning they can use most weapons. They also have Unarmored Defense, which adds their Constitution Modifier to the Armor Class, meaning the higher their Constitution, the harder they are to hit. 

Best Races for Barbarians in Baldur’s Gate 3 (BG3)

As Baldur’s Gate 3 does away with race ability bonuses, you can make a Barbarian of any race. That said, two races come with bonuses that stand out: Half-Orc and Gold Dwarf.

Half-Orcs come with two race features that help out the Barbarian playstyle. One is Relentless Endurance, which, if they reach 0 hit points, allows them to live on with 1 hit point instead. This is beyond valuable for a class that doesn’t wear armor. The other is Savage Attack, which triples instead of doubles damage done when landing a Critical Hit. As you’ll be swinging around melee weapons quite a lot, expect to roll a natural 20 more than with other classes.

On the other hand, the Gold Dwarf has only one ability that greatly benefits the Barbarian: Dwarven Toughness. With each level, you will gain an additional hitpoint. For any melee class this is beyond valuable—hit points come at a premium.

All Barbarian Subclasses in BG3

At the moment Barbarians have three confirmed subclasses that you select from at level 3 that make the class more than just “smash until dead and then smash again.” These subclasses are the Berserker, the Wildheart, and the Wild Magic Barbarian. Each comes with powerful features:

  • Berserker gains the Frenzy ability, allowing you to make a Frenzied Strike and Enraged Throw. Yes, you can throw other creatures.
  • Wildheart allows you to select an animal to gain abilities from when you use Rage, such as increasing your jump range by attuning with the Tiger Heart.
  • Wild Magic, which casts random, powerful spells through the use of the Wild Surge action.

Best Ability Scores for Barbarians in BG3

Ability scores will give a modifier bonus to your dice rolls and you have a total of 27 to allocate into six skills. Furthermore, you have the option to grant a +2 and a +1 bonus to two different abilities. For a Barbarian, the following spread is recommended for an all-out offensive build:


Strength: 17 (+2 Bonus)
Dexterity: 15
Constitution: 16 (+1 Bonus)
Intelligence: 8
Wisdom: 8
Charisma: 8

High Dexterity will allow a Barbarian to make use of some ranged weapons, and while ability score modifiers do not increase on even numbers, choosing Ability Score Improvement at level 4 to increase Strength by 1 and Dexterity by 1 will increase the modifiers further. Both Constitution and Dexterity will help keep you alive and smashing—unless, that is, you’re hit with a crowd control spell. 

A more balanced Barbarian spread would look like this:

Gold Dwarf

Strength: 17 (+2 Bonus)
Dexterity: 13
Constitution: 16 (+1 Bonus)
Intelligence: 8
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 8

With a few more points into Wisdom, and the Gold Dwarf’s subrace bonus, this style of Barbarian will be able to survive a few hits from just about anything—from goblin to dragon—while making saving throws against some mind-impairing effects. Regardless of which type of Barbarian you decide to run, this class might seem straightforward at first, but knowing when to use Rage and charge into battle is an involved process, as to keep it going you must continue to attack and take damage.

As for backgrounds, go for whichever makes the most sense for the character you wish to play rather than the skills you’ll receive. Backgrounds help you gain Inspiration Points, which are used to reroll ability checks, by giving you specific conditions to fulfill, such as showing combat prowess as a Soldier or crafting a powerful weapon as a Guild Artisan. The Outlander background is a good choice to select a proficiency in Nature while also getting an Athletics boost.

And that’s the best races and ability scores to use for a Barbarian in Baldur’s Gate 3. It’s not a bad idea to experiment with different spreads and even multiclassing, as Larian Studios has confirmed respeccing your character will be possible. For those that like to smash, slash, and stab, this is clearly the class for you—and undoubtedly a fun way to experience all Faerun has to offer. But if you’re thinking of using another class or just want more tips on coming to terms with the game, make sure to look through our full range of guides.

About the author

Lowell Bell
Lowell is a freelance contributor with The Escapist that began his career reporting on live events such as the Penny Arcade Expo and E3 back in 2012. Over the last couple of years, he carved a niche for himself covering competitive Pokémon as he transitioned into game criticism full time. About a decade ago, Lowell moved to Japan for a year or two but is still there, raising a Shiba Inu named Zelda with his wife while missing access to good burritos. He also has a love/hate relationship with Japanese role-playing games.