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Half-Elf Barbarian 5e D&D Guide

Half-Elf Barbarian 5e D&D Guide

Half-Elf Barbarians are the embodiment of untamed fury and raw power. They possess a duality that defies expectations, blending the tranquility of the elven kin with the relentless savagery of their human ancestry.

Their prowess in battle is legendary, wielding massive weapons with ease and ferocity. With each swing of their mighty axe or hammer, they cleave through adversaries like a tempest, reducing armor and flesh to tatters.

However, you shouldn’t mistake a Half-Elf Barbarian for a mindless brute, as beneath their primal nature lies a complex and intuitive mind capable of besting even a seasoned Wizard.

Creating a Half-Elf Barbarian


Half-Elves walk in two worlds, but ultimately they belong to neither. Blessed with the best qualities of both races, Half-Elves can specialize in merely anything.

Their Human curiosity and inventiveness, coupled with their Elvish ambitioned tempered by a love of nature, artistic tastes, and refined senses, give them potential far beyond most other races.

SkinFair smooth skin, usually pale but varying similar to the skin tones of humans
HairOften long, full heads of hair in colors of pale yellow, gray, white, brown, or black, although there are exceptions (similar to humans)

(Most Half-Elves don’t have facial hair due to their Elvish heritage)

EyesMostly emerald green, hazel, or brown
NosePetite and elegant noses, similar to those of their Elvish heritage
MouthSoft and light rose-colored lips

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

Half-Elf Subraces

Half-Elves have two variant subraces which are split up into a Mark category and a Heritage category.

Half-Elf Variants – There are many different variant Half-Elf subraces, have boasting experience in different fields and relate it to their respective Elven heritage.

  • Elf Weapon Training (High or Wood Elf Heritage) – Your heritage gives you proficiency in Longbows, Shortbows, Longswords, and Shortswords.
  • Cantrip (High Elf Heritage) – Your heritage gives you access to one Cantrip from the Wizard spell list (use Intelligence as your spellcasting ability).
  • Fleet of Foot (Wood Elf Heritage) – Your heritage increases your base walking speed to 35 feet.
  • Mask of the Wild (Wood Elf Heritage) – Your heritage allows you to attempt to hide whenever obscured by foliage, mist, falling snow, heavy rain, or other natural phenomena.
  • Drow Magic (Dark Elf Heritage) – Your heritage grants you the Dancing Lights Cantrip, and upon reaching level 3, you can use Faerie Fire, which recharges after your long rest.

Reaching level 5 lets you cast Darkness once, which recharges after a long rest (Charisma is your spellcasting ability for all these spells).

  • Swim Speed (Sea Elf Heritage) – Your heritage gives you a swimming speed of 30 feet.

Variant Half-Elf: Mark of Detection – Half-Elves bestowed with the Mark of Detection are masters of Divination magic. They detect unseen traps, read thoughts, and sense even the slightest poisons in the air.

Variant Half-Elf: Mark of Storm – Half-Elves blessed with the Mark of Storm wield innate magic powers linking them to storms. As they grow stronger, they gain access to more powerful incantations and become a living storm.

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 HeraldStorm 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 and are often found in the far reaches of the world, where they train with druids and rangers, keeping nature safe from those who would harm it.

Totem WarriorTotem 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 Half-Elf

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 Barbarian Subrace

Half-Elves have 2 full subrace variants and 6 heritage variants that give special features or bonuses.

If you’re playing as a Barbarian, you’ll get the most value from the Standard Half-Elf subrace. This is because there aren’t any subraces that give you optimal ability score increases that justify taking them.

You can also choose between the Fleet of Foot or Elf Weapon Training, as they are the best bonuses for Barbarians. Swim Speed could also be a contender, but it depends on the campaign.

Your Half-Elf Barbarian Background

Your Half-Elf 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 Half-Elf 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

Half-Elf Barbarians are outwardly gentle and well-spoken, but deep down, they hide a monstrous rage, which can subdue large groups of enemies as they tremble in fear.

Half-Elf Barbarian Examples:

  • I’m confident in my abilities and do what I can to instill confidence in others.
  • I once sprinted twenty-five miles without stopping to warn my kingdom of an orc horde that was approaching. If I must, I’d do it again.

Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws

Ideal – Express one ideal that is a driving force in a Half-Elf 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 Half-Elf 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 Half-Elf Barbarian – their unhealthy compulsion, greatest fear/weakness, or most vile vice.

I judge others harshly and myself even more severely.


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

When I go into a rage-filled state, I’m unable to come out of it for hours at a time, changing the way I speak to others and making me more outwardly hostile.

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 Half-Elf 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

Half-Elf Barbarians aren’t unheard of, but because of their Elvish heritage, there aren’t many of them. It could be said that the choice of becoming a Barbarian lies more with the Human side than the Elvish side.

Even so, these guys make excellent Defenders and Strikers as they ravage through the battlefield. So, if you want a primal killer who specializes in heavy weapons, then the Half-Elf Barbarian is your best bet.

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