Multiclassing can be useful for roleplaying, so do not make the mistake of thinking this guide is only for min-max-style playstyles. I’m analyzing the Barbarian class as both core and secondary within a multiclass build. My recommendations include combinations that are narratively cool and/or mechanically potent.
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My multiclassing terminology:
- Core Class: The main class for a character usually holds the majority of level investment for a character.
- Secondary Class: The class that is supplementarily added to the core class.
- Dipping: Multiclassing very few levels into a secondary class.
Remember, multiclassing requires minimum ability scores in both new and prior character classes (as described on page 163 of the PHB, or page 10 of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything for Artificers). For example, if you are a Cleric and want to multiclass as a Rogue, you’ll need a Wisdom score of 13 or higher and a Dexterity score of 13 or higher. The Multiclassing Proficiencies table is on page 164 of the PHB (or page 10 of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything for Artificers).
Here is a summary of class ability score minimums for multiclassing, along with proficiencies gained if a given class is not the class you started with at level one:
- Artificer – Intelligence 13: light/medium armor, shields, thieves’ tools, tinker’s tools.
- Barbarian – Strength 13: shields, simple weapons, martial weapons.
- Bard – Charisma 13: light armor, one skill of your choice, one musical instrument.
- Cleric – Wisdom 13: light armor, medium armor, shields.
- Druid – Wisdom 13: light armor, medium armor, shields (druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal).
- Fighter – Strength 13 or Dexterity 13: light armor, medium armor, shields, simple weapons, martial weapons.
- Monk – Dexterity 13 and Wisdom 13: simple weapons, shortswords.
- Paladin – Strength 13 and Charisma 13: light armor, medium armor, shields, simple weapons, martial weapons.
- Ranger – Dexterity 13 and Wisdom 13: light armor, medium armor, shields, simple weapons, martial weapons, one skill from the class’s skill list.
- Rogue – Dexterity 13: light armor, one skill from the class’s skill list, thieves’ tools.
- Sorcerer – Charisma 13: no additional proficiencies.
- Warlock – Charisma 13: light armor, simple weapons.
- Wizard – Intelligence 13: no additional proficiencies.
You’ll want to perform cost-to-benefit analyses of classes when you consider multiclassing. Every level in a secondary class is an opportunity cost to your core class. Choosing to multiclass as a core-class Ranger is an easy choice since Rangers don’t typically get worthwhile abilities at higher levels. Other classes like Druid and Fighter have excellent level-twenty abilities. It hurts to forego those high-level abilities. However, most campaigns end by level ten, so it’s not often prudent to plan a character with an assumption of reaching level twenty. Speaking of fun concepts, some of my recommendations made the cut mostly because they are thematically cool or unique to D&D.
Barbarians get their subclass choice at level three, but levels one and two are not without multiclassing value.
- Level 1: Rage; Unarmored Defense; proficiencies: shields, simple weapons, martial weapons.
- It’s important to remember that activating Rage requires a bonus action. If you multiclass in a way that relies on bonus actions, you may need to delay other moves if you want to begin your Rage.
- Level 2: Reckless Attack and Danger Sense.
- Reckless Attack is excellent for gaining advantage if you’re willing to take hits in return. If foes have disadvantage to attack you otherwise, your defenses won’t suffer as much since the incoming attacks will roll normally.
Several classes can benefit from taking one or two levels in Barbarian. The main reason to dip levels into Barbarian without obtaining a Barbarian Path would be to get Rage. The defensive boost that Rage grants against bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage can effectively double a character’s hitpoints against those damage types. Characters who rely on spellcasting will not want this, and those who don’t invest in their Strength scores will be unable to multiclass levels in Barbarian. Unarmored Defense isn’t typically something that would be specifically multiclassed for since armor is better most of the time.
Reckless Attack can be useful for players to fish for critical hits. The defensive downside to Reckless Attack can be thought of as offset by Rage’s damage resistance, but only if the character is likely to take basic weapon damage. Danger Sense is great for any character lacking advantage on Dexterity saving throws. The Dexterity saving throw is one of the most common saving throw types, so you can’t go wrong with Danger Sense unless it’s redundant with another feature (Magic Resistance, for example).
Medium and light armor will be redundant to proficiencies of other martial classes; shield and weapon proficiencies will likely be redundant as well. The Rogue may be the exception to the proficiency redundancies. You can create a Rogue character who relies on Strength while still getting Sneak Attack so that a Barbarian may be a good choice for Rogues. This is especially true since the Rogue’s high-level abilities are not crucial to get. You can feasibly build a Rogue with Rage or a Barbarian with Sneak Attack pretty easily, and I actually wrote an article devoted to that concept.
Multiclassing by Barbarian Subclass
While I can’t point out every conceivable potent multiclassing combination, I’ll provide some of my favorites to inspire you! I’ve collected my thoughts by Barbarian subclass for your convenience. My favorites can be found below.
Path of the Ancestral Guardian (XGtE) Multiclass Recommendations
Ancestral Guardian Barbarian (9) / Echo Knight Fighter (4) / War Magic Wizard (7)
This character concept known as the Guardian will initially appear strange, but it’s an effective build to tank for self and allies as long as you understand its tactics. This concept possesses narrative and thematic richness to make the character enjoyable for roleplaying. This Guardian build comes from TreantMonk, and he has a video devoted to explaining it. Basically, you’ll use deflection and damage prevention while placing enemies in positions that put them at a disadvantage in a fight. I highly recommend checking out Treantmonk’s channel and subscribing to it for anyone who likes to learn about optimization techniques. He knows his stuff, and he often inspires me with new ideas on how to play the game.
Ancestral Guardian Barbarian (14) / Peace Cleric (6)
Teamwork makes the dream work! This combination of the Peace Domain and the Path of the Ancestral Guardian comes fully loaded with abilities to protect your allies to keep the team going. The Ancestral Guardian does an excellent job of hindering a foe who would attack others in the Barbarian’s party. By the fourteenth level, the Barbarian will be preventing 4d6 damage as a reaction when allies are attacked, and foes will take retaliatory damage based on prevented damage. The Peace Cleric will form a bond with allies that allows them to teleport to one another’s aid. Allies can also receive 1d4 to add to attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks for ten minutes once per turn. Everyone will want to be on your team when you play with this combination.
Ancestral Guardian Barbarian (17) / Battle Master Fighter (3)
In addition to supporting your allies with your ancestral spirits (preventing damage and hindering attacks), you can use Battle Master Superiority Dice and Maneuvers to support your allies further. Use Lunging Attack to keep away from a foe’s opportunity attacks, while also using Ancestral Protectors to give that enemy disadvantage on attacks rolls on anyone other than you, then move away so the foe must choose between pursuing you and potentially taking opportunity attacks from your allies, or make attacks with disadvantage against your allies, for whom your Spirit Shield will be a vanguard.
Several other Maneuvers will work well with your supportive playstyle while boosting your party’s damage output. You’re still a Barbarian, so if you need to wail on an enemy without the fancy battlefield tactics, feel free to use Reckless Attack and fish for critical hits while using Maneuvers. Remember Superiority Dice get rolled twice for critical hits just like other damage dice.
Path of the Battlerager (SCAG) Multiclass Recommendations
Battlerager Barbarian (3) / Paladin (17)
This combination aims to take advantage of the Battlerager’s bonus action attack, paired with Reckless Attack to fish for critical hits. A critical hit will allow for supreme smiting and smashing! Pick whichever Paladin subclass sounds fun to you.
Battlerager Barbarian (4) / Armorer Artificer (16)
As a genius Artificer, your Battelrager armor has been modified with Infusions to become even more powerful. You could also go for six levels in Barbarian if you want the temporary hitpoints ability of the Battlerager. You’ll be able to make three attacks per turn and eventually pull enemies closer to attack them as a reaction. Since most people have compared the Armorer to Ironman, this is like the Hulkbuster armor!
Path of the Beast (TCoE) Multiclass Recommendations
Beast Barbarian (10) / Moon Druid (10)
The mutant! While using Wild Shape to transform into actual beasts, you can mutate your beast form using the Path of the Beast’s features that begin when raging with the Form of the Beast feature. You can also still use the passive mutations of the Beast Barbarian’s sixth-level feature, Bestial Soul. I would rule that these bestial class features are compatible with Wild Shape’s rules because these features are based on transformation and are not dependent on the beast form chosen.
With this combination, you can become a Giant Eagle capable of swimming or a land shark with grown claws. I’m sure not all DMs would allow this, but it seems to me that RAW would allow it. Your defensive capabilities can be bolstered by growing a tail that parries attacks when you Rage. An innocent beast like a Giant Elk could gain a bite attack that heals itself. This sounds fun to me! As a Moon Druid, you can transform into an elemental at level ten, and that could be really fun to alter with Beast Barbarian mutations.
Beast Barbarian (6) / Mercy Monk (14)
Your bestial heritage has given you regenerative and toxic powers. Your stats will be well-rounded with this build due to multiclassing stat requirements. Focus on Strength for your Monk attacks as you’ll gain Rage damage to each one as long as you’re using melee weapons. Your mutations that manifest from Form of the Beast while raging count as simple melee weapons, so you can add your Rage damage to them. If you read the Monk class’s Martial Arts feature, you can use any simple melee weapon as a Monk weapon as long as they don’t have the two-handed or heavy properties. Cha-ching, this combination is money! Your Extra Attack feature will allow you to make three attacks instead of two because of how your Claws work, and you’ll still get unarmed strikes from the Monk class for your bonus action. If you use Flurry of Blows, you’ll be attacking five times per round.
Investing in Strength will boost your jump distances, and the level-six Beast Barbarian feature Bestial Soul will provide Monk-like abilities to achieve amazing stunts. You can flavor your Hand of Harm/Hand of Healing abilities from the Way of Mercy Monk subclass to be using your natural claws (or perhaps teeth and stingers) to inject regenerative cells or necrotic venoms into other creatures.
You can split the levels between Barbarian and Monk anyway you like, and there are pros and cons to whatever split you choose. You can get more feats with an 8/12 split or get more Barbarian features with a 10/10 split. It’s up to you, but the concept seems fun to me. The Beast Barbarian has more chances for synergy with the Monk class due to the simple melee weapons manifested by Form of the Beast.
Beast Barbarian (8) / Kensei Monk (12)
“Hey, Bub… I’m Logan, but you can call me Wolverine.” As I mentioned in the combination above, the Beast Barbarian’s Form of the Beast weapons count as simple weapons; therefore, the natural weapons here can be used as Martial Arts weapons. The Kensei can choose weapons like these for Kensei weapon specialization, enhancing the Beast Barbarian’s natural weapons.
This is definitely the type of character that can go on a rampage like Wolverine, cutting through the toughest armor like adamantium claws when the Kensei uses the Sharpen the Blade feature. You won’t regenerate like Wolverine, but you’ll tear things to shreds while resisting weapon damage.
Have extra fun by kiting melee foes with the Mobile and Slasher feats as you freely move away to make them chase you with reduced speeds. Slasher will also allow you to freely Reckless Attack as you potentially cause your target to have disadvantage to attack you, canceling out the advantage they’d have against you as you attack recklessly. The 8/12 split is mostly to obtain ASI levels in either class, but you can adjust as you see fit. Make sure your DM will allow you to choose your natural weapons as Kensei Weapons, or you’ll be a sad Tasmanian devil…
Beast Barbarian (10) / Gloom Stalker Ranger (4) / Assassin Rogue (6)
This build was suggested by commenter GoLagenGo: “A nightmarish creature that can spider climb around, invisible in darkness with Expertise in Stealth and easily able to surprise enemies, with Beast and Gloom Stalker both providing an additional attack for a total of 4 attacks in the first round of combat while raging, with Advantage and automatically being critical hits if able to get surprise.”
Beast Barbarian (16) / Battle Master Fighter (4)
You come from a lycanthropic line of warriors who use limited bestial transformations in combat. Your training focuses on using your instinctive intuition and ferocity to get the better of other warriors.
The Beast Barbarian is unique to other Barbarians because its number of attacks can match or exceed the Polearm Master feat norm. They don’t use magic weapons as much, but the volume of attacks and freedom to choose other feats can be freeing. Add your Superiority Dice and use Maneuvers while you attack in a flurry of claws.
Path of the Berserker Warrior (PHB) Multiclass Recommendations
Berserker Barbarian (10) / Conquest Paladin (10)
This is super gimmicky, but I figured out that there is a cool combination here. The Berserker’s level-ten ability is Intimidating Presence. It can be used as much as you want, but not on the same creature after it passes the saving throw before 24 hours goes by. The Conquest Paladin thrives on fear, emanating an aura that causes frightened creatures to have zero speed while taking psychic damage. Use your Intimidating Presence to frighten someone, then stand ten feet away while using your action to perpetuate Intimidating Presence.
Any foe that lacks ranged attacks or spells will probably die just from you slowly chipping away at their hitpoints with psychic damage from your aura while they’re frightened. Since the Berserker Barbarian isn’t a great class, I might only try this for a high-level adventure as a one-shot.
Berserker Barbarian (4) / Champion Fighter (16)
This combination is meant to fish for critical hits. The Berserker can use Reckless Attack, and it gains a bonus action attack when entering a Frenzy. At higher levels, this is four attacks per round rolled with advantage and landing critical hits on 18-20. The level splits are based on gaining ASI bonuses. You eventually may not bother using Frenzy because you can get bonus action attacks from landing critical hits or kills if you have the Great Weapon Master feat (which I definitely would choose for this character).
Berserker Barbarian (4) / Champion Fighter (4) / Watchers/Ancients Paladin (12)
Crit fishing is fun, but it’s even better with smiting! Berserkers can make more attacks during Frenzy Rage. Champions can crit on a 19-20. Paladins can capitalize on critical hits with Divine Smite. Since we’re going for Rage, we don’t want to concentrate on Paladin spells, so either subclass indicated would be fine for the Paladin. Having said that, you can pick the one that sounds fun to you. You can also settle for three Fighter or Barbarian levels if you’d rather go thirteen-to-fourteen levels of Paladin to get fourth-level spells.
Berserker Barbarian (10) + Gloom Stalker Ranger (10)
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything gave Rangers the benefit to recover quickly from exhaustion. This means a ten-level dip of Ranger can help the Berserker to be more viable. Plus you get excellent perks from the Ranger. You’ll get spellcasting and a Fighting Style at level two, and a subclass at level three.
Path of the Storm Herald (XGtE) Multiclass Recommendations
Storm Herald Barbarian (14) / Genie Warlock (6)
You have become the storm as you freely fly above enemies just out of reach but within your stormy aura. Genie Warlocks at the sixth level gain the ability to fly without concentration for ten minutes several times per long rest. Your main weapon should be a polearm so you can utilize its reach property. Any foes depending on non-reach melee weapons will be unable to hit you unless they switch to ranged attacks. This is the only combination that actually makes me want to play a Storm Herald Barbarian! I would also choose the Tomb of Levistus Invocation because I find that the Tundra option is my favorite storm type for the Storm Herald.
Storm Herald Barbarian (10) / Moon Druid (10)
Jolteon, I choose you! Use Wild Shape to become a furry animal. As your fur stands on end, you Rage, creating static electricity that jolts your enemies like a thunderbolt attack. Super effective! But the fun doesn’t stop there. At level ten, the Moon Druid can Wild Shape into elementals, allowing the storm to come to life truly. This isn’t what I’d call an optimized combination, but it sure sounds cool to play!
Path of the Totem Warrior (PHB) Multiclass Recommendations
Totem Barbarian (11) / Phantom Rogue (9)
You are in touch with the spirits of the dead, creating totems and trinkets that empower you with voodoo magic. You linger strangely in the realm of the living while you enter a spiritual rage that tethers you to mortality. While a Token of the Departed trinket is on your person, you’ll have advantage on Constitution and death saving throws; these trinkets empower your Relentless Rage saving throws to keep you among the living.
With the Bear Totem at level three, you’ll resist all damage types except psychic damage. After you resist damage, you can use your reaction with the Rogue’s Uncanny Dodge to halve the remaining damage, effectively allowing you to reduce incoming damage from one attack per round by 75%.
You can wield a finesse weapon with your Strength and Sneak Attack. Rage damage will further increase your damage output. Gain Expertise in Athletics to grapple enemies with frequent success. You’ll have advantage on grapple checks during Rage. Reckless Attack will enable advantage for attacks so you can gain Sneak Attack damage when you’re alone.
Totem Barbarian (15) / Swashbuckler Rogue (5)
You are a master duelist and showman; you’re used to wrestling with mighty beasts and playing hide and seek with agile creatures of the wilderness. You resist damage with Rage and then halve the resisted damage by reacting with Uncanny Dodge. You Fancy Footwork gives you a portion of the Mobile feat, allowing you to strike then move away. Your Unarmored Movement will make you faster than most opponents, making them unable to catch up to you without using their action to Dash. You can kite melee foes in this way, dashing about and even hiding with your Cunning Action bonus action. Use a Rapier to get Sneak Attack, but focus on Strength so you can get Rage damage.
Totem Barbarian (6) / Fiend Warlock (14)
This build was suggested by commenter GoLagenGo: “The Temp HP on a kill from Dark One’s Blessing will last much longer thanks to Bear Totem’s improved resistances, Dark One’s Own Luck helps shore up those nasty mental saving throws, and Fiendish Resilience just seems perfect to either fill out that missing psychic resistance or at least give you a resistance for when you’re not raging. Blade Pact is the obvious choice for improved damage and Eldritch Smite but to be honest, Barbarian has enough combat options that Chain or Talisman would be better to help round out its toolkit. Plus, access to non-concentration spells like Armor of Agathys, Blindness/Deafness, Mirror Image, and Fire Shield means you can get a cool spell up before raging.”
Totem Barbarian (3) / Moon Druid (17)
I recommend this only for low-level campaigns because it doesn’t feel right to deny a Moon Druid its level-twenty ability. But if you’re playing in a one-off, have fun resisting all but psychic damage as you Rage during your Wild Shaping. You can become an ultra-durable version of any beast as you resist damage and deal more damage when attacking with a beast’s Strength stat during your Rage.
Totem Barbarian (3) / Rune Knight Fighter (17)
Playing up the runic giant-kin theme, you’ll be raging and resisting damage while gaining abilities to increase your size. Becoming larger will enable you to wrestle and grapple with larger creatures than normal. Are you ready to wrestle with a dragon, rolling advantage while raging to grapple it?
Totem Barbarian (16) / Champion Fighter (4)
Combining durability with offensive devastation, the Totem/Champion is a powerful combatant. This character will be a crit-fishing powerhouse after tacking on feats like Sentinel + Great Weapon Master + Polearm Master. Action Surge from the Fighter Class will further improve the Barbarian’s ability to fish for critical hits when it matters most. The Totem Warrior’s bear feature at level three (the one pretty much everyone picks) will make the character durable to live long enough in battle to land devastating blows before getting put down. That’s assuming the character gets dropped to zero hitpoints at all (don’t count on it). This is one of the classic multiclass combinations of D&D 5e that has been a favorite of Barbarian players since 2015.
Path of Wild Magic (TCoE) Multiclass Recommendations
Wild Magic Barbarian (3) / Fey Wanderer Ranger (17)
The influence of the Fey has instilled you with unstable magic when you become emotional. You’re normally a mischievous person of whimsy, but you get upset, things can get crazy. This combination makes for an interesting character narrative, though the synergy is minimal. I honestly don’t love the Path of Wild Magic, so I’m not struck with much else for inspiring multiclass ideas.
Wild Magic Sorcerer (3) / Wild Magic Barbarian (14)
Some players absolutely love wild magic, so let’s crash the two unpredictable subclasses together. Conveniently, the desirable subclass features line up with this division of levels. Your abilities will twist fate in your favor while adding random effects for your spellcasting. Raging obviously doesn’t mix with spellcasting in battle, so you’ll be deciding which to use when you fight. Spellcasting will be helpful in all aspects of play.
Wild Magic Sorcerer (10) / Wild Magic Barbarian (3) / Ancients Paladin (7)
Your wild magical energies give you resistance to damage from spells like an arcane barrier. Maybe your skin has moth-like dust that douses magic. Divine Smite will be fun with your Sorcerer spell slots.
Wild Magic Barbarian (14) / Eloquence Bard (6)
This build was suggested by commenter GoLagenGo: “Out of all the full spellcasters, Bard has the most non-spellcasting features, and therefore provides the most benefit to a raging barbarian. Bardic Inspiration and Countercharm (lackluster it may be) are both totally viable buffs to use while raging, and who doesn’t love Jack of All Trades and Expertise”
Path of the Zealot (XGtE) Multiclass Recommendations
Zealot Barbarian (17) / Gloom Stalker Ranger (3)
You are the shout in the deep that rages against the Underdark’s denizens. You are invisible in the dark to creatures relying on darkvision, making you even more terrifying as you rain blows upon them. You have a special attack each round that deals radiant damage and scales with your Barbarian level; your first attack in a combat encounter grants you another attack that deals extra damage. These damage gains will be extra satisfying when you roll their dice twice from your Reckless Attack crit fishing.
Zealot Barbarian (3) / Arcana Cleric (17)
The phoenix will rise from its own ashes… I love the Zealot’s gimmick being resurrected without needing costly spell components because of the character being chosen by the gods. This got me wondering, “Is there a way for the Path of the Zealot Barbarian to resurrect itself?” I found the answer. The levels work out perfectly between these two subclasses to pull off this trick.
Here’s how it’s done: First, the Zealot Barbarian needs to be level three, so it can be resurrected without needing material components to achieve the revival. Second, the Arcana Cleric needs to have a fifth level or lower spell that can revive a person; Revivify is the spell for the job because the higher-level spell Raise Dead will incur roll penalties afterward. Revivify is a clean revival! Third, the Arcana Cleric needs to reach level seventeen to get the Arcane Mastery feature. For the sixth-level Wizard spell option of Arcane Mastery, choose Contingency. Now the puzzle is complete! Use Contingency to cast Revivify on yourself and store it in the Contingency statuette, with the trigger set to be your own death. You’ll be revived with one hitpoint!
You could even delay the trigger for a few rounds if you think it’ll help avoid trouble. Admittedly, there is one flaw in this plan, so check with your DM; Contingency says you can use a spell that can target yourself. Revivify is only meant to target a recently dead creature, not one that is currently alive. If your DM rules that you use this combination, you’re good to go. It’ll only work at the twentieth level, though. There may be easier ways to get revived without doing it yourself. I enjoyed coming up with this idea regardless of its degree of practicality.
The Barbarian is one of the most complete and well-designed classes in the game. You can gain a lot from even just one or two levels in Barbarian, but a few more levels invested to gain a Barbarian subclass will treat you well; Barbarian subclasses are strong, perfectly complimenting how solid the class design is.
Which of my multiclass ideas did you like? Which ideas would you add to the list? Let me know your ideas by casting Message in the comments below, and I may add your concept to the list if I think it sounds fun and viable.
Before you go, please consider reading our other articles about multiclassing and about Barbarians:
- Rogue Multiclassing Guide
- Cleric Multiclassing Guide
- Overview of Multiclassing Combinations (by class)
- How to Multiclass in D&D 5e
- All Multiclassing Articles
- Rating Barbarian Subclasses
- Best Feats for Barbarians
- Defensive Barbarian with a Rapier Build
You might enjoy my class guide for Barbarians on YouTube: