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Starting a Barbarian

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Barbarians primarily only fill two of the MMO archetypes (DPS and Tanking) although some builds can also function as minor Crowd Control

  • DPS - Barbarians are the number one melee class for DPS in DDO. Other classes can come close depending on their build and the situation, but barbarians dominate this role.
  • Tanking - Barbarians have the highest base hit points of any class along with a moderate per-hit damage reduction, combined with decent Armor Class from utilizing medium armor. Barbarians are more defined as survivable, being more of an off-tank than a true tank. They can take more than a few hits but are not the primary tanking class.
  • Healing - Barbarians lack powerful self-healing, but do have a few tricks up their sleeves for survivability. The majority of barbarians rely on their party for healing.
  • Crowd Control - There is typically only one type of build that can occupy the crowd control role, and that is the 'Tank' build which uses the intimidate skill to manage aggro. However, with their high strength, barbarians are good at tripping and landing stunning blows.

Note that while Barbarians are a high DPS class in DDO, they do so only with many sacrifices:

  • They will never have the armor class that other tank classes, such as Fighters or Paladins, are able to obtain.
  • They need to be enraged to do well, and Rage prevents the use of many things such as spells, clickies, and even certain potions.
  • Their Dodge and PRR are decent, but not spectacular.
  • At the higher levels a good portion of their DPS comes from Frenzy and Supreme Cleave, both of which come at the heavy cost of inflicting self damage.

Due to this if they wish to serve as good tanks they really need to rely on their high hitpoints, DR, saving throws and third party healing to survive, or else in the case of easier foes must rely on their high DPS to kill the enemy quickly before it can kill them.

Types of Barbarians[edit]

There are generally three types of common Barbarian builds:

  • Two-Handed Fighting (THF) - The most common build type. Focuses on the extra damage bonus of Two-handed weapons to increase their DPS for both single target and multi target fighting.
  • Two Weapon Fighting (TWF) - The second most common build. Focuses on the extra attacks two weapon fighting gives them to increases their DPS, but only for a single target.
  • Tank - Either of the above two styles can serve as tanks. To do so is more skill- and gear-dependent than build-dependent on a Barbarian, as the key things you need to serve as a good tank mainly come from free class abilities. There will however be some small need to sacrifice some of your DPS ability in order to maximize hitpoints, damage reduction and saves. It's also recommended to invest in the intimidate skill to control aggro.

Nearly all Barbarian builds fit one of these three categories. Most other build types are achieved by multi-classing barbarians with other classes.


Barbarians have three enhancement trees available to them.

  • Frenzied Berserker : Focused on increasing the raw power of the barbarian rage ability and providing crowd control and debuffing options. This tree has some damage options in the way of causing self-harm to boost their damage. Berserkers are about dealing as much damage as possible to their enemies while neglecting their own defenses.
  • Ravager : Focused on raw damage, demoralizing nearby enemies with debuffs, and providing effective self-healing options. A well-built ravager can terrorize their opponents into submission, and pure barbarian ravagers can even kill enemies outright by scaring them to death.
  • Occult Slayer : More defensively oriented than the other two trees, the occult slayer is very effective against enemy spellcasters and gains strong protection against magical effects. Occult slayers form psychic bonds with their weapon, allowing them to perform supernatural feats such as healing themselves and punishing enemy spellcasters.


Dwarf, Warforged and Half-Orc are pretty much tied as ideal Barbarian races. They all make excellent Barbarians, and each have their own pros and cons. Human and Half-Elf are tied for a close 2nd place - they make great Barbarians if you can find a good way to make use of their extra feat or Half-Elf Dilettante Feat. Halfling can be a good choice if you're planning on a more advanced multiclass build that incorporates 2 Rogue levels along with good skills and sneak attack damage (see the multiclass section). If not, stick to the main 4 races. Half-Elf: While they have no major defining abilities like the other races, they are the easiest race to get a very high healing amp score on, and as such make fairly decent tanks. Elf/Drow: their Con penalties are not too severe for a class with so many bonus to constitution. All races are perfectly viable when built and played correctly.

Pros and Cons[edit]



  • +2 con free, and more from enhancements, means more hit points. Always good.
  • +3 Power attack enhancement: This means more DPS - if you can handle the to-hit penalty. DPS is king in DDO so this is important.
  • Can be healed by both divine and arcane classes. This lets you find groups much more easily, which is especially useful if you're new to the game and don't know many players yet.
  • Tactics enhancements. Your stuns and trips will land more often, you want this.
  • Built in free immunities. While for the most part other races can attain most of what matters here, this still frees up inventory slots for better gear.
  • Full list of Immunities:
    • Immunity to Poison (can be duplicated by either Proof Against Poison item or a Neutralize Poison spell/potion)
    • Immunity to Disease (can be duplicated by a Disease Immunity item)
    • Immunity to Paralysis including Hold Person, Hold Monster (can be duplicated by Freedom of Movement spell or the Kundarak Delving Boots)
    • Immunity to Flesh to Stone (cannot be duplicated)(Note Flesh to Stone is different from the Stone Prison effect)
    • Immunity to Energy Drain effects (can be duplicated by a Deathward spell)
    • Half damage from Negative Energy damage (cannot be duplicated)
    • Immunity to Fatigue from Rage. This means you will never be fatigued after a rage runs out, quite handy for leveling 1-16. (Note all races gain this feature at level 17)


  • Pay to play race, but can be unlocked on a per server basis by earning 400 favor. Unlike Dwarf and Human, you must otherwise either purchase this race from the DDO Store if you want to play it, or sign up for VIP
  • -50% healing penalty. This only applies to divine healing, so clerics, favored souls and some bards may have trouble healing you, which can make you unpopular among certain players. This is somewhat counterbalanced by the fact you can and should acquire healing amp gear, and group with wizards or sorcerers willing to reconstruct you however.

Minor Cons:

  • -2 Wisdom. Will save is still important to Barbarians, and since Warforged get absolutely no bonuses to saves, this can become a problem for select quests. If you do play one, put some consideration into keeping your will save up through putting points in wisdom and/or items that boost saves.
  • -Cannot wear armor of any kind. Instead you wear Docents, which are generally just as good, but in a couple very rare end game cases this means less DPS (Epic Marilith chain for example) For most players this won't have any real impact.
  • -2 Charisma. Doesn't really matter.

Very strong and very popular choice. Except for half-orcs, they tend to have the highest end-game DPS. The ability to be healed by arcanes also makes you an ideal end-game tank for certain raids which feature healing curses. If you plan to make your Barbarian a good endgame raid tank with strong DPS, definitely consider Warforged. Recommended for new players and veterans alike.



  • Tactics enhancements. Same as Warforged.
  • Dwarves are masters of Axes! Axes are often the best weapons for Barbarians so this is a very nice bonus. Up to +2 to hit and +2 damage with Axes via enhancement. Especially powerful at low level, and remains useful at endgame. Pre-End game when you can afford big to-hit penalties (really weeks/months past endgame considering the gear-grind required), this gives Dwarves superior DPS to Warforged.
  • +2 Con free, more from enhancements. Same as Warforged
  • +2 bonus to saves vs spells. and up to +5 via enhancements. This is a major defensive boost against certain foes, don't underestimate it.
  • The toughest, sturdiest overall race. Has various other small defensive bonuses which help out such as +4 balance, +2 saves vs poison, +4 AC vs Giants.
  • No healing penalty like Warforged get makes the Dwarf the overall best end-game tank for any boss that doesn't impose divine-healing curses.
  • Free to play race.


  • Unlike the Warforged, arcanes cannot heal you. If your friends are arcane and all the CLR/FVS/BRD are busy you're pretty much out of luck and will have to rely on either potions or hirelings.

Minor Cons:

  • -2 Charisma. No big deal.

Overall: The original ultimate Barbarian Race. Before Warforged got some major boosts (free immunities), Dwarf was the only logical choice. Nowadays you got options... But Dwarf remains very strong. If you want to be the ultimate tank for the deadliest of endgame bosses, Dwarf is the best choice. Sure a couple bosses impose an annoying healing penalty - but mostly just horned devils, which tend not to be the major threats. The major threats in raids are Abishai, Pit Fiends, Mariliths and Lichs - all of which love to spam spells in your face.. So your dwarven spell resist really pays off there. Dwarves are very sturdy and thus very easy to play. Highly recommended for a new player's first character as well as veterans seeking to build a strong character.



  • +2 Strength free. +2 more Strength from enhancements always. +2 EVEN MORE Strength while raged via enhancement. Half-Orcs are insanely strong.
  • +4 damage with two handed weapons via enhancement. And even more with power attack enhancements. Another reason they are the DPS MASTERS.
  • Half-Orc extra action boosts are quite useful, and cost less AP then the standard barbarian variety


  • No Con bonus. Barbarians, especially Frenzy Berserker are extremely dangerous to everyone - including themselves. So you need to have a lot of hit points to stay alive and keep the pressure on the enemy. After all, your DPS is zero when you're dead. That said, Half-Orcs can certainly attain a great hit point score, it's just a longer and harder road to get there.
  • No saves bonuses. Again, not quite as sturdy as the mighty Dwarves.
  • No heals from arcane. Unlike the Warforged, Orcs cannot be healed (well) by arcanes.
  • -2 Int. This one's unique to Orcs. This is a bit of a con for 2 reasons: 1. One less skill point per level. 2. Silver flame potions - These are the ultimate endgame Barbarian's best friend, they can heal you for over 350! points of damage. However, to effectively use them you need all of your stats to be at least 11. 6 Base in 2 stats makes that a very difficult task.

However to keep this in perspective - I'd guess that less than 10% of level 20 Barbarians even have access to these potions, let alone effectively use them. They're not critical to being effective in groups. But they do make a difference. Minor cons:

  • -2 Charisma. Same as Dwarf and Warforged.
  • Pay to Play Race like the Warforged. Either pay the price on the DDO Store, or subscribe as a VIP.

Overall: Half-Orcs are the latest addition to the ideal Barbarian races. They are the ultimate DPS, and sometimes that's all that matters. Other times - there's more to consider; such as defense, their lack of extra con bonuses, or bonuses to saves makes them somewhat non-ideal as tanks. They can certainly make very adequate endgame tanks, it's just harder to do so, and when Dwarfs, Warforged or even Humans are in the raid party, as they probably will be, they will be considered first. Also keep in mind a part of their DPS bonus only applies to Two handed weapons, so if you're set on a Two-Weapon Fighting Barbarian, their DPS advantage is much smaller. Thus, Highly recommended for veteran THF players seeking the ultimate in DPS no matter the cost. Not recommended as tank-Barbarians or for new players still learning the ropes. Best considered for either TR builds or regular players who plan to run often with more sturdy tank characters.



  • Bonus Feat!! - Barbarians are a feat starved class. This can make quite the difference. But you have to actually spend it on something worth-while. Stunning Blow, Trip and Sunder are great options Very build dependent.
  • Human Adaptability. This is basically +1 to any 2 stats at the cost of 6 action points. So you can get 1 Str and 1 Con.
  • Human Improved Recovery. 10%/20%/30% healing amp. Expensive, but the 1st/2nd tiers can definitely be worth it. Healing amp is a primary need for Barbarians.
  • Bonus skill point. 1 per level. Very minor for this class.
  • Your stats are all even. No bonuses, no penalties.


  • Your stats are all even. No bonuses, no penalties.
  • Human Versatility. Might be a worthwhile enhancement if you don't have damage boost from other trees.


  • Your stats are all even. No bonuses (without spending AP on noted enhancements).

Overall: Humans are very basic. Decent DPS. If you are planning to TR your old melee into a new Barbarian, that extra feat can be quite nice to fit one of the fairly powerful past life feats in. Thus:

  • Recommended to the veteran and the new player, given its flexibility.



  • Dilettante feat at level 1. This means you can pretend to be a Monk Barbarian, even though that's, like, illegal in 74 countries. Either way, it's a huge benefit as the Monk Dilettante unlocks some very powerful healing amplification enhancements.
  • You're kinda human. You gain most of the human enhancements, but not the bonus feat.
  • Human Adaptability. This is basically +1 to any 2 stats at the cost of 6 action points. So you can get 1 Str and 1 Con, and approach the stats of a Dwarf or a Half-Orc, but never quite match them.
  • Human Improved Recovery. 10%/20%, you don't get the 30% one like humans but you do get:
  • Monk Improved Recovery 1 and 2 (2/4ap) which add an additional 10%/20%. Since these are all multiplicative, your total healing amp percentage can get pretty crazy high - allowing for very easy and cheap healing while soloing and while tanking in raids. Extremely useful if you plan on tanking without requiring the healers to use up too many resources.
  • Your stats are all even. No bonuses, no penalties.


  • Your stats are all even. No bonuses, no penalties.
  • Human Versatility. Someday these might be a worthwhile enhancement, if we get a cheaper PrE and can fit it. But for most solid builds these days, you simply cannot fit these enhancements into a good human build (at least not above rank 1, which is not very powerful.


  • Fair average race for Barbarians, no major DPS bonuses like some of the other races.
  • Pay to Play Race like the Warforged. Either pay the price on the DDO Store, or subscribe as a VIP.
  • Your stats are all even! No bonuses, no penalties.

Overall: Half-Elves are really really good at one specific thing important to Barbarians: Lots of healing amp. But keep in mind gear can trump racial features, so any race - even Warforged can eventually get a nice healing amp score. So how much this is a benefit to you really depends on your goals as a player.

And given the average stats, like humans, you simply aren't that great DPS. You aren't the best tank - Dwarf is still better because of his huge saves bonuses despite your really good healing amp. You're just, well, a half breed. Half way between everything. Not as bad as a full on Elf, but not nearly as good as Dwarf, Half-Orc or Warforged. About as good as a human.

  • Not recommended for new players unless you have a specific reason to want to be a Half-Elf.

So pick what suits you. But keep in mind race isn't a huge factor in DDO as it might seem, so if you simply like the look of Half-Orcs over Dwarfs, feel free to select it for that reason alone. In DDO ranking what has the biggest factors on success or failure are:

  • Player Skill/Knowledge. Knowing what to do and how to do it is the biggest factor in this game. A very skilled and knowledgeable player can make even the weakest races and builds beat the toughest content in the game.
  • Build. A bad build can cause major problems, though hard to mess up a Barbarian's, it's entirely possible.
  • Gear. Gear especially in the endgame very much trumps any bonuses you'll get from your race, and can more than make up for any cons the race you select may have.


  • Strength - The primary stat for a Barbarian. Nearly every recommended build starts with the maximum allowed strength. And also put all level up points into it. Then use rage, enhancements, items, buffs, etc. to raise it as high as you can in the game as every point can make quite a difference.
  • Dexterity - Mainly useful on Two-Weapon builds as 17 dex (Base, including only tomes) is required to qualify for Improved Two Weapon Fighting. Barbarians will never get an armor class that matters, except on very specialized builds, so the main use for dexterity is meeting the requirements of the Improved Two Weapon Fighting feat and improving reflex saves.
  • Constitution - After strength (and 17 dex for TWF builds), the next most important stat. Constitution determines the hit points a character has. With no armor class to speak of, a barbarian relies on his hit points to keep him alive until he can kill the enemy. Constitution also determines the length of time the barbarian is able to remain enraged.
  • Intelligence - Of very little use to barbarians. With a base of 4 skill points per level, Barbarians can generally maximize their primary skills without investing much at all in here. As generally only 2-3 skills are important. However 1-2 points are sometimes used in more advanced builds planning on keeping stats above 11 to be able to use silver flame potions effectively at the endgame.
  • Wisdom - While slightly useful because it is the base stat for will save, wisdom is typically only raised by a couple points on most builds, as Barbarians otherwise get great will saves from their rage alone.
  • Charisma - Slightly useful to the Tank build because the intimidate skill is based off charisma, but even they generally only put a few points into it if any as there are very few left to spread around after the primary stats are filled.


The following feats are common for barbarians to take:

  • Power Attack - Taken by virtually all barbarians, especially since the barbarian to-hit score is so high the penalty this feat gives is negligible, and with two-handed weapons (THF) the bonus it gives is doubled.
  • Cleave and Great Cleave feats are useful, particularly for THF barbarians. Cleave early and often. Ever since the U45 changes to Two-Handed Fighting (DDO Forums), Cleave and Great Cleave feats are not as important for THF Barbarians, though they are still decent choices.
  • One of...
  • Improved Critical - Taken by virtually all melee and ranged classes.

Taking three of either the two-handed or two-weapon line, and the other four feats is seven feats spent. Pure non-human Barbarians only get a total of seven feats. The human bonus feat is often highly debated as to which is best. Good options upon feats for that final slot are:

  • Stunning Blow - Stunned enemies take extra 50% of damage from all sources and cannot fight back.
  • Precision The ability to bypass 25% of the enemy fortification can improve the barbarian DPS in high level quests, the downside its that cannot be used at same time as Power attack. NOTE: this feat also cannot be used at the same time as rage. Thus Precision may actually be a poor feat for Barbarians, who receive a big boost to damage from being raged.

Some players opt to multi-class the Barbarian by taking levels of Fighter (or, rarely, other classes), and thus are able to fit more than the above feats.

Sample Builds[edit]

External links[edit]