The Path of the Battlerager is one of the Barbarian’s many subclasses. Players interested in becoming the ultimate axe-wielding, crazed Dwarf should consider becoming a Battlerager Barbarian.
Although other Dwarfs often make fun of them, they have exceptional constitution, coupled with their fierce Dwarfish attitude literally making them too angry to die and a menace to face on the battlefield.
Path of the Battlerager Barbarian 5e – Features
Battleragers aren’t much different from normal Barbarians, the main difference being they are mostly Dwarfs.
Everything else, including their armor and weapons, stays the same, only changing due to preference or various other reasons that can be thought out by DMs.
That said, Battleragers do have a use, and that’s soaking up as much damage as possible using their Spiked Armor. They act similarly to other Barbarian subclasses in this regard but are limited due to the path’s armor-reliant features.
Restriction: Dwarves Only
Dwarfs are the only race that can follow the Path of the Battlerager, as Battleragers fill a particular niche in Dwarf culture and society.
Luckily, the restriction isn’t set in stone, and DMs can lift it to fit their campaign.
However, remember that the restriction mainly exists for the Forgotten Realms, and lifting the restriction while playing a campaign set in it, might mess with the lore a bit.
There is a way around this, though, as this restriction might not follow your DMs setting or version of the Realms, so in those instances, it can be changed without hesitation.
Note: Even though there are set rules for D&D, you can always change them depending on how you want the game to flow or the characters to interact.
Choosing the Battlerager path at level 3 means you gain the ability to use your Spiked Armor as a weapon.
If you are wearing Spiked Armor while raging, you can spend a bonus action and make a melee weapon attack with your armor’s spikes against a creature within 5 feet of you.
The attack deals 1d4 Piercing damage on a hit, and you use your Strength modifier for the damage and attack rolls.
Note: Using the Attack action to grapple a creature means the target will take 3 piercing damage if your grapple check succeeds.
At level 6, when Reckless Attack is used while raging, you’ll gain temporary HP equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum of 1).
Note: If any points are left when your rage ends, they vanish.
At level 10, you gain the ability to take the Dash action as a bonus action whenever you are raging.
When you get to level 14, whenever a creature within 5 feet of you successfully lands a hit on you with a melee attack while you are raging, they will take 3 Piercing damage.
Note: You have to be wearing Spiked Amor and can’t be incapacitated for Spiked Retribution to take effect.
Building a Path of the Battlerager Barbarian
Knowing how to build a Battlerager starts with an understanding of what makes a Barbarian good in the first place, as it uses most of a normal Barbarian’s tools but focuses heavily on its Spiked Armor and grapples/shoves.
You’ll also need to keep in mind how well everything flows, as certain ability scores, races, skills, feats, weapons, armor, and multiclassing, works best with the Battlerager.
I know this might seem a bit daunting, but depending on your knowledge of D&D, you can always use the Player’s Handbook to guide you through these decisions or get some tips.
You can even ask an experienced player for help, as they usually know a lot about D&D (sometimes more than the book itself).
After all, you’re making your own character, so you can add anything. It doesn’t necessarily have to be meta or OP to be an option, just go with the flow and try to have as much fun with your character as possible.
Path of the Battlerager Ability Scores
As I’ve already touched on, the Battlerager doesn’t follow the normal traditions of Barbarians. While most Barbarians would opt for unarmored defense, Battleragers are the complete opposite, rather going for some Spiked Armor.
In most cases, Battleragers use two handaxes, a greataxe, or some other melee weapon combined with a shield. The reason for this is to deal as much damage as possible while dealing additional damage with their Spike Armor.
- Strength – As usual for Barbarian subclasses, their Strength is the most important Ability Score. For the Battlerager, it’ll mainly go into its weapon attacks and grapples/shoves.
You should try and get your Strength as high as possible without neglecting your other important Ability Scores.
- Constitution – Compared to other Barbarians, who also need Constitution, the Battlerager can’t play without it. Since Battleragers are entirely made for close-combat fights and tanking damage, they need as much Constitution as possible.
Another reason they need so much HP is because their AC doesn’t scale as well compared to other Barbarians, and they can quickly get put on low HP if they don’t have enough of it.
- Dexterity – Dexterity is in the same boat as Constitution, but you don’t need to level it up as much as getting it to 14 should do.
If you took skills like Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, or Stealth (especially if you multiclassed into a Rogue), leveling Dexterity is required. You’ll also benefit from having high Dexterity due to the Disadvantage Spiked Armor gives you.
- Wisdom – After focusing on Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity, Wisdom becomes your next go-to Ability Score because of the Perception, Survival, and Animal Handling skills.
Having decent Wisdom is always positive, as it increases your Passive Perception, along with your Perception skill, as Perception rolls are some of the most common in D&D.
- Charisma – Intimidation is a big skill for Barbarians since they perfectly fit the role for it. While Battleragers aren’t as well suited to it, Charisma would help a lot if you did take it.
However, if you didn’t tale intimidation, I wouldn’t bother raising this skill above 10, as there are characters more suited to skill Charisma. Rather pump more points into your Constitution or Strength so that you can keep your party alive for longer.
- Intelligence – While there are skills like Investigation (obtained from a feat/background) and Nature that use Intelligence, if you don’t pick them, rather leave Intelligence at 8.
Intelligence won’t help you in any way without skills, so don’t bother putting points into it.
Ideal Path of the Battlerager Barbarian Races
Before even looking at a race for your Battlerager, you need to answer the question, “Are there still restrictions on what race I can pick?”.
If your answer is “yes,” then you don’t have any choice but to go with Dwarfs and pick a subrace from there.
However, if your answer is “no,” you have several races to choose from (depending on what your DM allows).
The best races would be massive brutes capable of tanking and putting out massive amounts of damage.
Races like Orcs, Half-Orcs, and Dwarfs are great traditional choices. Goliaths and Yuan-Ti are more defensive, and Variant Humans are exceptional offensive characters (especially when they have the Great Weapon Master feat).
Path of the Battlerager Barbarian Background and Skills
When you create your Battlerager, understanding which background and skills are relevant for your character is very important.
Your background is an overarching choice, affecting the tool proficiencies you receive, the skills you obtain, and how your character acts.
Skills are more self-explanatory, as you choose a number of them available to you as a Barbarian (common skills are Stealth, Animal Handling, and Deception).
There are a ton of backgrounds out there, but a few examples that’ll work well for a Battlerager are Criminal, Folk Hero, Outlander, and Uthgardt Tribe Member.
Criminal gives you proficiency in Deception and Stealth, as well as proficiency in Thieves’ tools. Having a Rogue (or a Rogue and a Ranger) in your party can make Criminal a great background to have, as you can effortlessly sneak around and surprise your enemies.
Folk Hero gives proficiency in Animal Handling and Survival, as well as one type of Artisan’s tools and land vehicles.
Having proficiency in two Barbarian skills as well as some tool proficiencies, can come in handy, but the best would be proficiency with land vehicles, as wagons are included.
Not only is this a great theme for a traveling Barbarian, but it also provides your party with long-distance travel until magical travel becomes available.
Outlander gives proficiency in Athletics and Survival, as well as in one type of musical instrument, and allows you to choose any additional language.
Both Barbarians skills you obtain are well-suited to a Battlerager, but the musical instrument and additional language aren’t too useful.
Uthgardt Tribe Member gives proficiency in Athletics and Survival, as well as one musical instrument or Artisan’s tools and one additional language.
The two Barbarian skills, as well as the endless tribes to choose from, give your Battlerager endless depth, but unfortunately, the remaining additions aren’t too important for your Battlerager.
As a Battlerager, you’ll have access to six skill proficiencies; Animal Handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Nature, Perception, and Survival.
Athletics (Str) and Perception (Wis) are two of your most important skills, as Athletics works extremely well if you go for a grappling build, while Perception is the most rolled skill in D&D.
In my opinion, Animal Handling (Wis), Intimidation (Cha), Nature (Int), and Survival (Wis) are very situational. If the players haven’t incorporated them into their character’s build, they won’t be useful.
While skill checks can be made for these skills, they are very uncommon and not nearly as effective as Perception (Wis), but that could also depend on what type of campaign you are playing.
Path of the Battlerager Barbarian Feats
While Backgrounds can be thought of as character customization, Feats are important elements of a character’s gameplay.
Even though there is an abundance of Feats to choose from, not all Feats are good, and sometimes it’s better to opt into increasing your Ability Score rather than choosing a new Feat.
Below are four examples of Feats that work well for a Battlerager:
You become resilient and hardy, gaining the following effects:
- Your Constitution score will increase by 1 to a maximum of 20.
- When rolling a Hit Die to regain HP, the minimum number of HP you can regain is equal to twice your Constitution modifier to a minimum of 2.
You can’t always rely on healers to heal you up after a long battle, so being able to regain more HP from simply taking a short/long rest or whenever you throw the Hit Die means a lot in terms of HP regeneration and survivability.
You get 3 luck points. Whenever you make a saving throw, attack roll, or ability check, you can choose to spend one luck point to roll another d20.
You can decide to spend one luck point after rolling the die, but before the outcome is determined, you must first choose which d20 will be used in the saving throw, attack roll, or ability check.
A luck point can also be spent when an attack roll is made against you. Simply roll a d20, then decide whether the attack uses your roll or the attacker’s roll.
If more than one luck point is spent by creatures to influence a roll’s outcome, the points will cancel each other out, meaning no additional dice are rolled.
All expended luck points will be regained after you finish a long rest.
While Lucky is a great feat for any class, having it on a Battlerager will mean they can reroll, and opponents attack rolls of 16 or higher, having them potentially miss and staying healthy for one more turn.
While holding a shield, you gain the following benefits:
- Taking the Attack action on your turn allows you to use a bonus action to try and shove a creature within 5 feet of you with your equipped shield.
- If you’re not incapacitated, your shield’s AC bonus can be added to any Dexterity save you make against a spell or other harmful effect that only targets you.
- Being subjected to an effect allowing you to make a Dexterity save to only take half damage means you can use a reaction to take no damage if you succeed on the save, interposing your shield between the source of the effect and yourself.
If you come to an agreement with your DM and they adapt the Battlerager, incorporating shields into their playstyle, then you should definitely take Shield Master.
Being able to shove an enemy with your shield by using a bonus action or taking no damage, blocking an attack with your shield by using a reaction aligns too well with the Battlerager’s playstyle.
When you gain this feat, your HP maximum will increase by an amount equal to twice your level. Thereafter, whenever you gain a level, your HP maximum will increase by an additional 2 HP.
Battleragers have to be tanky, not only because it’s their role but because without increased HP, they’ll have a difficult time surviving due to their limited AC compared to other Barbarian subclasses.
Having increased HP, especially when it continues until you hit max level, will allow you to protect your party members far longer than without this feat.
Path of the Battlerager Barbarian Weapons and Armor
Battleragers will receive the same equipment Barbarians do (except if you buy your own or have added equipment from your background), but imagine only being able to pick the default options for now.
In Barbarian standards, Battleragers are quite vulnerable when it comes to armor, so if you have allies who can buff you with spells like Shield of Faith or if you can magical spiked armor, you’ll become less vulnerable.
Below are two weapon options that Battleragers would find acceptable:
Greataxe – Greataxes are heavy weapons that deal 1d12 Slashing damage, weigh 7 lb./3,1 kg., and require two hands to wield.
Greataxes are the gold standard of Barbarian weaponry and fit seamlessly with the Battlerager’s love for axes.
Handaxes (Two) – Handaxes are light weapons that deal 1d6 Piercing damage, weigh 2 lb./0,9 kg., and can be thrown (20/60).
Having two Handaxes not only gives the Battlerager good damage but also gives them a “one-time-use” ranged weapon and perfectly fits with the Battlerager’s persona.
Battleragers have their own special Spiked Armor, which weighs in at 45 lb./20,4 kg. and provides an AC of 14 with a Dexterity modifier (maximum of 2).
Note: The Spiked Armor forces a disadvantage on Stealth roles, but with proficiency in Stealth, you can basically cancel the disadvantage.
Suppose you’re able to convince the DM to allow shields as a Battlerager. In that case, you’ll gain an extra 2 AC and become much closer to a normal Barbarian than a vulnerable Battlerager who only wears spikey leather.
Path of the Battlerager Barbarian Multiclassing
A good multiclassing option for the Battlerager would be the Rogue, and two levels are enough to get what you need most out of it.
After multiclassing into a Rogue, you’ll gain proficiency with Thieves’ Tools, as well as an additional Rogue skill, like Stealth or Sleight of Hand.
At this point, you’ll also get access to Sneak Attack, which can be used in combination when you Recklessly Attack.
Reaching level 2 allows you to use Cunning Action, which means you can Disengage by using a bonus action. If you are brought to low HP (which will happen), you can use this trait to quickly escape the battlefield to fight another day.
Note: Another good option would be to go with a level in Fighter to give you the Unarmed Fighting technique, which might help with grappling/shoving and keeping enemies away from your other party members.
Tweaking Your Battlerager
If you think the Battlerager is a bit underpowered and your DM agrees to change a few aspects of the subclass, then consider making these changes:
- Change Battlerage Armor’s grapple damage to apply to any Grapple check you succeed and also when a creature is able to grapple you. You should also change the damage from 3 to being determined by your Strength modifier.
- Increase Spiked Armor’s AC from 14 to 15, adding it as a feature available at level 10.
- Consider removing the restriction on the Battlerager if appropriate. Relating it to other races, like Goliaths or Orcs, can add some niche lore to your campaign.
Path of the Battlerager Barbarian 5e FAQs
What Is the Best Build for a Battlerager in 5e?
The best build for stats and playability is the combination of a Mountain Dwarf and a one-handed weapon.
You’ll rely on your grapple/shove to get enemies into prone and eliminate them before passing on to the next and repeating what you just did.
What Is the Battlerager’s Biggest Weakness in 5e?
Combined with the race restriction for the Battlerager, their other significant weakness is the low AC handicap.
Many of the Battlerager’s features rely on Spiked Armor, which doesn’t scale nearly as well as Unarmored Defense or medium armor like the Breastplate.
This means you’ll take a lot of hits as you level up, and even though that’s what Barbarians are used to, with your AC at 16, your HP pool won’t last long enough for you to survive while taking those hits.
The Battlerager isn’t considered a good nor a reliable subclass. In fact, it scores low in many regards due to its reliance on the Spiked Armor and boring playstyle.
While this can put you off, keep in mind that it also fulfills its own purpose, being a valuable cultural and societal niche for Dwarfs, which can be used and structured around an entire campaign.
In all seriousness, the Battlerager isn’t a subclass you should pick up if it’s your first time playing, but it can be a great subclass to experiment with or even pick as a challenge.
Before choosing the Battlerager, check with your party first, and make sure that you’ll actually be useful, or, if you want to have some fun, don’t, and see how far you make it. D&D is, after all, a game full of betrayal, comedy, heartache, and unforgettable memories.
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