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Gnome Barbarian 5e D&D Guide

Gnome Barbarian 5e D&D Guide

This diminutive dynamo may stand no taller than your kneecap but don’t be fooled by their stature. Beneath that shock of wild hair lies a heart burning with an untamable fury and an insatiable thirst for adventure.

Clad in armor that’s cleverly cobbled together from scraps of bigger foes they’ve felled, these audacious adventurers may wield a weapon twice their size with astonishing finesse.

But beware, for underestimating a Gnome Barbarian is a grave mistake. Anger them, and you’ll witness a transformation akin to a volcano erupting from within.

Creating a Gnome Barbarian


Gnomes often live in bustling, close-knit communities, and one can constantly hear the clatter of machinery, loud laughter, shouts of delight, or minor explosions. Gnomes love life, enjoying their creations, explorations, inventions, and playful games.

SkinTan, Brown, or Gray (Deep Gnomes)
Hair (Including their Beard)Fair hair, yet sticking out in every direction 

Beards are well-kept, trimmed, and often styled in neat points or forks

EyesGray, turquoise, blue, or green, but not without a bright shine
NoseAnnoyingly large nose
MouthOften bearing a broad smile with smaller human-like teeth

Note: These features can be slightly changed or modified if some variations don’t fit your character.

Gnome Subraces

Gnomes have 4 distinct subraces to choose from, some more common than others or only found in certain areas.

Forest Gnome – Forest Gnomes are secretive, rare creatures who often commune in sylvan forests, using their illusions to conceal their presence from outsiders.

These gnomes are often friendly to good-hearted woodland creatures, allying with elves and good fey. They also enjoy befriending smaller forest critters, relying on them for information.

Rock Gnome – Rock Gnomes are natural inventors, forming the bulk of the Gnomish population. They’re known to be hardy creatures – never eager to back off from a challenge.

Deep Gnome (Svirfneblin) – Deep Gnomes are found in the Underdark, living in small communities scattered throughout its dark landscape.

Deep Gnomes are different than most creatures in the Underdark yet remain as kind as their surface-dwelling relatives. Their oppressive environment has, unfortunately, dampened their humor and enthusiasm.

Mark of Scribing Gnome – The Mark of Scribing Gnomes deals with communication – written and spoken. They easily translate languages, speak to others at distances, and are gifted with communication spells.

Note: If you want to optimize your character, pick the subrace that best complements the Rogue class.

Barbarian Class Features

Hit Points

Hit Dice1d12 per Barbarian level
HP at level 112 + Constitution modifier
HP at Higher levels1d12 (or 7) + Constitution modifier per Barbarian level after level 1


ArmorLight armor, Medium Armor, Shields
WeaponsSimple weapons, Martial weapons
Saving ThrowsStrength. Constitution
SkillsChoose two – Animal handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Nature, Perception, and Survival

Barbarian Primal Paths

Arriving at level 3 allows you to choose from 8 different Barbarian Primal Paths. Each path has a different playstyle, so choose the one that you find specifically interesting, or that fits your character most.

Ancestral Guardian – Ancestral Guardians revere their ancestors, using ancestral guardian spirits for aid. These spirits bolster their fighting spirits and strengthen them physically, allowing them to fight off even the toughest foes.

Battlerager (Dwarfs only) – Called Kuldjargh (translating to “axe idiot”) by the dwarfs, Battleragers worship the gods of war. 

They wear bulky armor adorned with spikes, needlessly throwing themselves into battle, using even their body as a weapon, and surrendering their sanity to the fury of battle.

Beast – Path of the Beast Barbarians draw their fury from the beast dwelling deep within their soul. If they let it take over, they physically transform, gaining many benefits.

Note: You may describe the origin of your bestial powers or roll for it.

Berserker – Berserkers use their rage to become unfathomably violent, entering a frenzy and getting a thrill like no other from battle. 

In many cases, their fury overwhelms their rational thoughts, causing them to ignore their health and well-being.

Storm Herald – Storm Heralds are taught to transform their rage into a mantle of primal magic that whirls around them, and when enraged, they create powerful magical effects.

These Barbarians are known as nature’s protectors, often found in the far reaches of the world, training with druids and rangers and keeping nature safe from those who would harm it.

Totem Warrior – Totem Warriors go on a spiritual journey, accepting a spirit animal as their guide, inspiration, and protector. In battle, the spirit fills them with magical power, giving them magical fuel for their rage.

Wild Magic – Wild Magic Barbarians feel the rampant magic of the Feywild and the Upper Planes, transforming them and manifesting the otherworldly magic of their ancestors.

Note: Elves, tieflings, aasimar, and genasi Barbarians often walk this path.

Zealot – Zealots are Barbarians who fight ferocious battles in the name of their deity, channeling their rage into powerful exhibits of divine power. Deities who inspire Zealots are usually gods of violence, destruction, and combat.

Combining Barbarian With Gnome

Determining Your Barbarian Subclass

Choosing your ideal subclass is subjective, but if your objective is optimization, try understanding what your character wants to do and what stats fit best with their subclass.

Ancestral GuardianDefender/Striker/Utility Caster
Storm HeraldController/Striker/Support
Totem WarriorDefender/Striker/Support
Wild MagicController/Striker

Optimal Gnome Subrace

Normal Gnomes start with an Intelligence (2) score bonus, which doesn’t really help if you’re a Barbarian, but some of their subraces can help a bit.

If you’re creating a Gnome Barbarian, the Forest Gnome subrace is probably your best bet, next to the Rock Gnome. The reason for that is its roleplay potential and Dexterity (1) bonus, which is better than nothing.

Rock Gnomes have a bonus to their Constitution (1) score, which is actually useful. However, all their other abilities are Intelligence-based, so you won’t get too much out of picking it.

Your Gnome Barbarian Background

Your Gnome Barbarian needs a unique background that will affect its choices, as well as the way it sees the world and what it wants to achieve.

Start by asking yourself some basic questions: Where were they born, and where did they come from? Do they have any goals, bonds, or ideals, and what are their flaws? Where do they belong in social circles and society as a whole? What inspires them?

Place of Birth

Think of the environment a Gnome Barbarian grew up in and how it affected them physically and emotionally and eventually shaped their view of the world.

Try to make their place of birth and upbringing correspond with their personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws – this will truly bring their character alive.

Note: The birthplaces of races are usually mentioned in the Player’s Handbook or some of its expansion books.

Characteristics and Personality Traits 

Gnome Barbarians are very angry creatures, probably because they get made fun of for their height, but they shouldn’t be underestimated.

Gnome Barbarian Examples:

  • If you need me to do something for you, tell me I can’t do it.
  • I love a good insult, even one directed at me.

Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws

Ideal – Express one ideal that is a driving force in a Gnome Barbarian’s life – their conviction, ethical principle, and moral standing (probably something about nature).

The songs, legends, and stories of the past must never be forgotten.

Bonds – Think of a single bond that your Gnome Barbarian has to an event, person, or place. Bonds will tie them to their background and can inspire bravery or stimulate memories driving them against their ideals.

A powerful person killed someone I love. Some day soon, I’ll have my revenge.

Flaws – Choose a single flaw for a Gnome Barbarian – their unhealthy compulsion, greatest fear/weakness, or most vile vice.

I have a ‘tell’ that reveals when I’m lying.


Inspiration can be used by the DM to reward you for playing according to your bond, personality traits, ideals, and flaw.

As a Gnome Barbarian, I love proving those who doubt me wrong, as most people have never seen someone like me before.

Note: If you’re struggling to create your background or just don’t want to think, the Player’s Handbook has well-thought-through backgrounds that you can use for your character or use as a mold.

Supplies and Gear For Gnome Barbarians

Barbarians start with the following equipment, together with the equipment from their background. Choosing equipment based on your situation and your character’s proficiencies is the easiest way to go about things.

  • (a) Greataxe or (b) Any martial melee weapon
  • (a) Two handaxes or (b) Any simple weapon
  • Four javelins and an explorer’s pack

You can decide how your character came about these goods – whether they stole, inherited, or purchased them some time back – adding to your character’s background.

Note: By using your starting wealth, you can buy your own equipment (2d4 x 10 GP for Barbarians).

Final Thoughts

Gnome Barbarians might look small in stature, but their unquenched rage is all but tiny, making them exceptional Defenders and Strikers.

Having a Gnome Barbarian in your party is an easy way to gain an advantage when fighting, as your opponents don’t expect such a puny creature to be able to put out so much damage!

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