How To Build A Dragonborn Barbarian In DnD

Dragonborn are one of the nine core species found in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. While not as prominent in sword and sorcery fantasy as elves or dwarves, they are nonetheless very straightforward.



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Similarly, Barbarian is a very straightforward class. Their job is to hit enemies very hard, and tank hits from enemies very well. It can be a very good class for new players who are intimidated by combat

Why Should You Run A Dragonborn Barbarian?

Vengeful Ancestor by Svetlin Velinov

The main benefit to a Dragonborn Barbarian is you have more versatility compared to Barbarians of other species.

Barbarian is a class that excels in very specific areas, but that leaves them vulnerable to spell casters and ranged attacks.

However, being a Dragonborn mitigates that by giving you a ranged attack and resistance to one type of magic damage, meaning you’ll have some extra tricks up your sleeve in battle.

How To Make A Dragonborn

Collage of two dragonborn

First, you’ll have to decide your Dragonborn’s Draconic Ancestry. This is, simply, the type of dragon you’re descended from, and gives them access to a breath weapon and certain resistances.


Damage/Resistance Type

Breath Weapon Range

Save Type



15ft cone




15ft cone




15ft cone




15ft cone




15ft cone




5 by 30ft line




5 by 30ft line




5 by 30ft line




5 by 30ft line




5 by 30ft line


At 1st level, this breath weapon deals 2d6 damage of the type associated with your ancestry. This will increase as you gain levels and enemies cannot avoid this unless they’re already immune to that type of damage. However, they can make a saving throw for half damage.

The DC for this saving throw will be 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus.

Since Barbarians will want to focus on their strength and constitution and can even get them to a max of 24 points each at 20th level, at higher levels this will be a tough roll to beat.

Keep in mind that you can hit your allies with this attack if they’re in range.

How To Build A Barbarian

Three Barbarians against a snowy mountain
Barbarian art from «Xanthar’s Guide To Everything» via Wizards Of The Coast

The key feature of this class is the ability to go into a rage. On your turn, you can use a bonus action to enter a rage which will:

  • Give you advantage on strength checks and saving throws.
  • Allow you to add bonus damage to your melee attacks, which increases as you level up.
  • Give you resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

You will not be able to concentrate or cast spells while raging. You will exit your rage if you are knocked out, go a turn without attacking an enemy or without taking damage, or a minute (the equivalent to ten turns in combat) passes.

Your breath weapon is not a spell, so you can still use it while raging.

Alternatively, you can exit a rage voluntarily as another bonus action. You may only enter a rage a certain number of times per long rest, depending on your level.


Number of Rages













You can only rage while not wearing heavy armor; however, Barbarians have access to Unarmored Defense to make up for this. When not using armor, your AC is 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Constitution modifier.

Shields do not count as armor for the purposes of Unarmored Defense.

You will also get proficiency in two of the following of your choice: animal handling, nature, perception, intimidation, athletics, and survival.

The Best Subclass For A Dragonborn Barbarian

Thunderstorm on a mountaintop
Path Of The Storm Herald art via Wizards Of The Coast

At the 3rd level, Barbarians can choose a subclass, otherwise known as a Primal Path. This will give you access to new abilities and allow you to further customize your character.

Picking subclasses can be hard sometimes because they’re all rather situational and dependent on party composition.

If you already have a party full of mages, the Path of Wild Magic might be redundant. However, there is one subclass that compounds the benefits of making your Barbarian a Dragonborn: the Path of The Storm Herald.

When you choose Path of the Storm Herald as your subclass, you can choose one of three environments: Desert, Sea, and Tundra. Of these three, Sea will be the most useful.

For anything that requires a saving throw, the DC is 8 + your proficiency + Constitution modifier.

At 3rd level, you get Storm Aura. When you enter a rage and on subsequent turns as a bonus action, you can pick any creature in a 10ft radius from you that you can see.

That creature must make a Dexterity saving throw, and if they fail, they will take 1d6 Lightning damage, and half as much as they succeed. This damage increases at certain levels.

At 6th level, you get Storm Soul, which gives you resistance to lightning damage, the ability to breathe underwater, and a swimming speed of 30 feet.

The water-based stuff isn’t exciting, but if you don’t already have lightning resistance from your ancestry, that means you resist five types of damage while you’re raging.

At the 10th level, Shielding Storm can grant lightning resistance to any creatures of your choice within your aura.

Finally, you can get Raging Storm at 14th level, which allows you to use your reaction to knock creatures in your aura who you’ve attacked prone if they fail a strength saving throw.

Combined with your breath weapon, you can force multiple enemies to roll saving throws and possibly have to waste their turn getting up. It’s a great option for crowd control.

If you want to try the two other environment types, Desert is the second best, followed by Tundra.

Keep in mind your Draconic Ancestry to maximize your number of resistances.

The Best Feats For Dragonborn Barbarians

MTG: Dragonborn Champion art
Dragonborn Champion by Andrey Kuzinskiy

If your DM allows, at levels where you can increase your ability score, you can forgo that in favor of choosing a feat.

Mage Slayer

You have extra resistance to certain types of damage already, but spell casters will still be a problem – the Mage Slayer feat addresses that, however.

You have advantage on saving throws from spells cast by creatures within five feet of you, which is useful given spell saving throws are going to most often use your worst stats.

You also get the option to use a reaction to use a melee attack against a creature within five feet of you who casts a spell.

If you damage someone concentrating on a spell, they’ll have disadvantage on the saving throw to keep the spell up, another benefit of having your breath weapon to hit multiple creatures.


If you need even more options for knocking around enemies, the Crusher feat will help you do that.

Since Dragonborn are Medium-sized, if you hit an enemy that is Large or smaller with a weapon that does bludgeoning damage, you can move it up to five feet to an unoccupied space once per turn.

If you score a critical hit that deals bludgeoning damage, attack rolls against that creature are made with advantage until the beginning of your next turn.

Finally, you can choose to increase your Strength or Constitution by +1.


For more crowd control, the Sentinel feat allows you to lock down enemies who are trying to get out of your range.

When you hit a creature with an opportunity attack, its movement becomes zero for the rest of the turn. In addition to this, creatures that take the Disengage action will still take opportunity attacks if they try to move out of your range.

When a creature within five feet of you makes an attack against another target, you can even use your reaction to make a melee attack against that creature.

The Best Stats For A Barbarian

Screenshot of the DnD Beyond Stats Page

Regardless of what method you use to get your stats, you’ll want your best stat to be Strength, followed by Constitution, then Dexterity.

For the remaining stats, you can choose whichever numbers you’d like. You’re not going to make a lot of use out of those in combat anyway.

The background you choose will determine some other abilities you get proficiency in, but it’s not crucial, and you can often simply choose a custom background and pick two abilities if none of the prebuilt backgrounds are to your liking.

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