There are a lot of different feats to choose from in 5th edition D&D, but which are best for barbarians? Barbarian characters tend to be complete tanks designed to absorb the damage, then more damage, then all the damage you’d still be hitting them with as DM if your enemies weren’t already dead.
Some barbarian builds aren’t only tanks but also focus on a high damage per second (dps) build to do what they can to contribute beyond being a human (or dwarven) punching bag. Feats go a long way to bring out the best in a build, so here are the best 5E feats for barbarians.
1. Great Weapon Master
– On your turn, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action.
– Before you make a melee attack with a heavy weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a –5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attack’s damage.Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, “Feats”
Yes, this is the obvious choice, just like Sharpshooter is for any archery Ranger build, but the classics are the classics for a reason. The Great Weapon Master feat is a personal favorite of mine with the potential to do serious damage!
Best suited to a dps build, and sometimes even referred to as “Sharpshooter for Barbarians,” this feat pairs well with the common stat builds of barbarians or for the benefits that come with a fighter-barbarian multi-class.
The extra attack after a kills is great, and that +10 damage when you’re confident of hitting makes it even more likely for that kill to take place, then allowing for the bonus action melee weapon attack. Added to the common Strength of a barbarian and any inspiration from bard or boost from a Paladin and you will not only tank but also put out respectable damage while raging.
– Your hit point maximum increases by an amount equal to twice your level when you gain this feat. Whenever you gain a level thereafter, your hit point maximum increases by an additional 2 hit points.Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, “Feats”
Tough is a great feat to be added at any level, and it can significantly increase the hits you take. I know a lot of players dunk on this feat, but personally I love it. This is basically a +2 Con hit point bonus improvement by giving you two hit points extra per level. That’s nothing to sneeze at as it keeps you alive in the early game and makes you a tank in late game.
No matter the barbarian build you are going for, being able to take an extra hit or two from the enemy is essential. Barbarians aren’t designed to hide behind other characters, and they are going to be extremely high in Constitution. Add in the d12 dice and potentially the level 20 bonuses of getting even more Constitution above 20 and those extra 2 hit points per level make the barbarian just that much harder to kill.
Tanks gotta’ tank, and the Tough feat definitely helps out with that!
– When you hit a creature with an opportunity attack, the creature’s speed becomes 0 for the rest of the turn.
– Creatures provoke opportunity attacks from you even if they take the Disengage action before leaving your reach.
– When a creature within 5 feet of you makes an attack against a target other than you (and that target doesn’t have this feat), you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against the attacking creature.Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, “Feats”
Sentinel is a game-changing feat for a front-line player. However, it isn’t always necessary! Sentinel can hold creatures near you, sure, but the real benefit is being able to make an attack as a reaction.
If you are the only front-line player in your party with support players behind, you want to go for more of a tanky build because ranged players can get the runners. If you have a melee-heavy party, sentinel is a fantastic feat to have! You will likely find many opportunities to use that sweet reaction and stop flanking enemies in their tracks.
Sentinel can also be used with a variety of different feats or even other player builds to devastating effect. There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular feats out there.
– Increase your Constitution score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
– When you roll a Hit Die to regain hit points, the minimum number of hit points you regain from the roll equals twice your Constitution modifier (minimum of 2).Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, “Feats”
This is a feat I’m generally not a huge fan of, but for barbarians on a dungeon crawl or with an old school DM who has parties going through combat situation after combat situation, this feat can be a very useful and necessary feat to have for a barbarian.
As a barbarian, you get hit a lot. So, to help your Constitution stat and to have a guaranteed minimum recovery during a short rest is pretty helpful. Hit points are core to what barbarians do so it’s important to be able to recover them, and boosting those d12s rolled on break with a high minimum is going to make you able to tank a dungeon much more effectively.
So compared to the other feats, those have you covered on the battleground, and this feat has you covered for the aftermath.
– Increase the chosen ability score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
– You gain proficiency in saving throws using the chosen ability.Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, “Feats”
Being melee fighters, Barbarians are susceptible to many magical attacks due to their typically low wisdom stat. The words that every DM mutters when they’ve had enough of a player’s barbarian, and that bring dread to every 5E DnD party is “Make an intelligence save.” While having resilient isn’t a guarantee of success, it pushes the odds much harder in your favor.
To avoid that, the resilient feat works great to double the saving dice and give you the chance to make that save…especially if a crafty bard gives you bardic inspiration to add onto the best roll.
6. Tavern Brawler
– Increase your Strength or Constitution score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
– You are proficient with improvised weapons.
– Your unarmed strike uses a d4 for damage.
– When you hit a creature with an unarmed strike or an improvised weapon on your turn, you can use a bonus action to attempt to grapple the target.Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, “Feats”
What’s more Barbaric than a dirty tavern brawl? When fighting in a tavern, people will use whatever they can get their hands on like a mug to hit the other person. The same principle applies here.
This is a handy skill that gets your barbarian to fight in any situation with whatever is around you. You are versatile and capable of turning anything into a deadly weapon, and being able to grapple is a nice bonus.
Granted, this is far more a flavor feat than one that gives a lot of benefits, but if you combine this with grappler feat for the right type of low to mid level campaign, it can become a lot of fun.
If nothing else, you are less likely to lose face in a fight against a common NPC – a fate some barbarian PCs consider the pinnacle of humiliation.
7. Savage Attacker
– Once per turn when you roll damage for a melee weapon attack, you can reroll the weapon’s damage dice and use either total.Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, “Feats”
Someone in your party has to pump out damage, why not you? Even heavy hitters get a crappy damage roll now and then, so a second chance once a turn for a heavier hit can make a decent turn a spectacular one.
This is a common feat that is used by most melee builds and I’m not a huge fan of it, but if your dice luck runs extremely hot/cold, this could be a good way to mitigate the damage and make sure your hits on enemy actually have some sting to them.
– When you use your action to Dash, you can use a bonus action to make one melee weapon attack or to shove a creature.
– If you move at least 10 feet in a straight line immediately before taking this bonus action, you either gain a +5 bonus to the attack’s damage roll (if you chose to make a melee attack and hit) or push the target up to 10 feet away from you (if you chose to shove and you succeed).Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, “Feats”
Instead of stating to rage and fight, you can save the rage for another day when it is better to fight and instead use your speed as an attack action. This helps you to save your rage for battles and big fights, and it allows you to be more strategic with when you decide to fight, when you stay back, and when you rage.
Combine the effects of this feat with the effects of Great Weapon Master and you can pile a surprising amount of damage onto a single attack, especially from a barbaria.
Depending on the DM, this could also be a great intimidation technique for aggressive NPC’s you don’t want to have to fight.
– Increase your Strength or Constitution by 1, to a maximum of 20.
– Once per turn, when you hit a creature with an attack that deals bludgeoning damage, you can move it 5 feet to an unoccupied space, provided the target is no more than one size larger than you.
– When you score a critical hit that deals bludgeoning damage to a creature, attack rolls against that creature are made with advantage until the start of your next turn.Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Chapter 1, “Feats”
Crusher has immense potential with the right build. Because Barbarians are proficient in martial melee weapons, they get access to weapons like the maul or warhammer. Both being weapons that deal bludgeoning damage, they use this feat to its full potential. In order to maximize your attack rolls, the ability score increase is best used on Strength unless it is already at 20.
Being able to move a creature 5 feet upon hitting it is a good way to knock it out of the reach of weaker players. Because it is forced movement, it prevents an opportunity attack on its part.
The part about a critical making it so every single attack on that enemy being made with advantage just heaps it on and can drastically change the direction of a battle.
– Increase your Strength or Dexterity by 1, to a maximum of 20.
– Once per turn when you hit a creature with an attack that deals slashing damage, you can reduce the speed of the target by 10 feet until the start of your next turn.
– When you score a critical hit that deals slashing damage to a creature, you grievously wound it. Until the start of your next turn, the target has disadvantage on all attack rolls.Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, “Feats”
This is a great resource to have in battle. Not only can you can slow others’ speed down, but critical hits become a welcome defense for the next round. This is best paired with a great axe or great sword as they each have the potential to deal 12 slashing damage per hit. In order to maximize your attack rolls, the ability score increase is best used on Strength unless it is already at 20.
Since most weapons used will be slashing, the slasher feat is a practical way to add more to the total ability of barbarians to inflict terrifying damage on their enemies.
Best D&D Barbarian Feats Conclusion
Barbarians are one of the best classes for beginning players, especially if they are interested in a melee combat based build as opposed to archers or magic. They are a simple build but can tank with the best of them. With a few carefully picked feats, they can also deal some impressive damage on top of it.
There are several ways to go but at the end of the day the best feats for the barbarian help them tank even more or help them inflict serious frontline damage on top of tanking. With the list given on this page, you now have all the knowledge you need to build an incredible barbarian no matter what the campaign.
Other DnD Articles You May Find Interesting
- Best Feats for Artificers
- Best Feats for Bards
- Best Feats for Rangers
- How Does Passive Perception Work?
Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.