The Battlerager Barbarian captures the reckless and terrifying fury of a completely unhinged warrior.
Wearing special armor covered in spikes and charging at their enemies like some kind of weird porcupine-rhino hybrid, few things inspire terror quite like these characters!
These Barbarians hit fast and hard. By the time an enemy sees them charging their way, it’s already too late!
If you’re ready to go wild and strike terror in the hearts of those before you, this might be the subclass for you!
This is the full subclass guide to the Battlerager Barbarian in D&D 5e!
What is the Battlerager Barbarian in D&D 5e?
The Dwarvish name for a Battlerager Barbarian is “Kuldjargh” which literally translates to “axe idiot.” (I’m being dead serious!)
Sure, strategy is important, but the Battlerager doesn’t have time for that. Point them in a direction and let them charge into battle to overwhelm their foes!
They may have a very low life expectancy, but they’re happy to cause as much damage as possible in the meantime!
These warriors are strict followers of the Gods who preside over War. Naturally, they prioritize the Dwarven gods, though some may also revere non-Dwarven War deities.
Battleragers’ commonly revere Dwarven deities include:
- Moradin, the All-Father of the Dwarves
- Clangeddin Silverbeard, Dwarven God of War
- Gorm Gulthyn, Dwarven God of Defense and Vigilance
- Haela Brightaxe, Dwarven Goddess of Luck in Combat
Entering a frenzied state, the Battlerager Barbarian charges into enemies wearing special armor that is covered in sharp spikes. As they throw themselves around the battlefield, their entire body is a deadly weapon.
A common belief among Battleragers is that dying in battle is a great honor. As such, the Dwarven gods would see this and resurrect them with even more strength.
This means that these terrifying warriors enter every single battle with everything they’ve got. They simply don’t hold back.
Battleragers are certainly one of the most unique Barbarian subclasses!
The Path of the Battlerager Barbarian appears in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.
Role in the Party
The Battlerager’s role in the party is both straightforward and terrifying. If ever there was a character that was made to launch an all-out assault against enemies, this is it!
We can see how Battleragers fit into Dwarven military tactics to get a better idea of what their exact role is.
The general idea is that Battleragers are able to run forward and overwhelm enemies. While those enemies are getting worn down, it’s easier for the rest of the army to follow through on a strategy.
After all, enemies will be so occupied trying to deal with the screaming, spikey lunatics in their face that they won’t be able to think strategically.
While the Battlerager couldn’t care less about the “bigger picture” in combat, they are useful as a type of wrecking ball. Enemy strategies and formations quickly stop mattering once the Battleragers break through the enemy’s defenses!
Just make sure that someone in the party is functioning as a shot caller. The only thing more terrifying than a Battlerager Barbarian is one that’s been left to their own devices!
Battlerager Barbarian Features 5e
So, let’s dive into the features that you gain as a Battlerager Barbarian in D&D 5e.
The spiked armor that is worn by Battleragers is the most important thing to this subclass. If you aren’t wearing it for some reason, you’ll lose the core strengths of this subclass’s features.
As time goes on and you reach higher tiers of play, it’s probably a good idea to talk to your DM about improving your armor.
It’s not exactly the kind of gear you’re likely to find in most shops, but it’s possible that you might find someone who is able to enchant the armor or otherwise improve it.
Guard your armor with your life and may it serve you well!
Battlerager Armor (Level 3)
When you take the Battlerager Barbarian subclass, you immediately gain access to wearing the Battleragers’ signature spike armor.
Because this armor is so strange, only someone who has truly learned to harness their inner fury is able to use it effectively.
You gain the ability to wear Spiked Armor. (Detailed below)
While you are wearing spiked armor and raging, you can use a bonus action to make one melee weapon attack with your armor spikes against a target within 5 feet of you.
If the attack hits, the spikes deal 1d4 piercing damage. You use your Strength modifier for the attack and damage rolls.
Additionally, when you use the Attack action to grapple a creature, the target takes 3 piercing damage if your grapple check succeeds.
That extra attack as a bonus action is a very nice benefit right out of the gate. Don’t forget to also add in the extra damage from your Rage!
If you prefer to grapple enemies and latch on to them like an angry, spiked koala, you’ll also be dealing extra piercing damage when you successfully grab on to them.
It’s not grappling, it’s “aggressive hugging”!
Now, I’m not going to complain about free damage too much. However, be aware that the piercing damage you deal with this grapple doesn’t increase as you level up. That 3 damage won’t count for much once you start reaching the mid-levels.
If you’re feeling clever, you might be able to convince your party’s Rogue (or anyone else who is familiar with poisons) to help you improve your spikes’ lethality.
Goodbye porcupine, hello pufferfish!
Related: Barbarian Rage in D&D 5e Explained
Battleragers are famous for wearing armor covered in sharp, metallic spikes to impale their foes. The spikes are attached to the armor’s leather coat and leggings.
This armor is very rare and exclusively made by dwarves in all but the rarest of situations.
With the Path of the Battlerager being a sacred Dwarven fighting tradition, the construction of this armor is often a closely guarded secret.
As rare as this armor is to see, it’s even more uncommon to see it being used proficiently. After all, Battleragers are rare sights even in Dwarven society!
The stats for the Battlerager Spiked Armor are as follows:
- Cost: 75gp
- Armor Class: 14 + Dexterity modifier (max 2)
- Stealth: Disadvantage
- Weight: 45 lbs
If you’re wearing this armor, be prepared to get some curious looks.
Not only does it stand out, but anyone who knows the legends of the Dwarven Battleragers is sure to stare.
From a safe distance, of course.
Reckless Abandon (Level 6)
Since the Battlerager Barbarian is all about charging headfirst into their enemies’ formation, some extra survivability is always nice!
When you use Reckless Attack while raging, you also gain temporary hit points equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum of 1).
These hit points vanish if any of them are left when your rage ends.
As a Barbarian, you’re almost certainly using Reckless Attack each turn. In fact, you probably need a very good reason NOT to use it instead of vice-versa.
So, gaining those temporary hit points each turn will add up very nicely. Keep in mind that these hit points don’t stack, but they do reset each time you use Reckless Attack.
For example, if you’ve got a +4 Constitution modifier, you’ll be gaining 4 temporary hit points each time you use Reckless Attack.
Now let’s say you take 3 damage before your next turn. When you use Reckless Attack again, you’ll be back to 4 temporary hit points.
You’re already resisting most damage because of your Rage, so this extra pool of hit points stretches pretty well. Just make sure you aren’t skimping on your Constitution ability score!
Related: Temporary Hit Points Explained
Battlerager Charge (Level 10)
Cue the Spanish horn music because this bull is about to charge!
You can take the Dash action as a bonus action while you are raging.
It’s always frustrating when an enemy is just far enough away that you can’t get into a position to attack them with your normal movement.
In those situations, being able to Dash as a bonus action is very handy!
Sure, this does require you to sacrifice your bonus action attack to use. However, considering that the alternative is that you don’t get any attacks at all, it’s a small price to pay.
Whether you’re charging into the enemy formation or chasing down a fleeing enemy, you’ll be a terrifying sight to behold!
Recommended: Full Guide to the Barbarian’s Reckless Attack
Spiked Retribution (Level 14)
Enemies are going to think twice about attacking you now.
As the Battlerager screams and flails around the battlefield, it’s now almost impossible to hit them without getting stabbed by one of their armored spikes.
When a creature within 5 feet of you hits you with a melee attack, the attacker takes 3 piercing damage if you are raging, aren’t incapacitated, and are wearing Spiked Armor.
By the time you’re getting this feature, pretty much every enemy you encounter will have the multiattack feature. That means the 3 damage they take from each attack will add up fairly quickly.
Since you’re almost certainly using Reckless Attack, enemies are still very likely to use their opportunity to attack you at advantage. Thankfully, that’s exactly what you want them to do!
This is a decent capstone, but it admittedly still feels a bit limited.
You’ll likely always be raging in combat, though I’d personally be inclined to lift the Rage requirement for this feature. I think that small change is enough to make this feature stand out more without being broken or overpowered.
It might be something worth mentioning to your DM if you’re looking to play a Battlerager Barbarian!
Going by the book, the Battlerager Barbarian is actually only available to Dwarves. However, the DM can overrule this restriction.
If you’re playing a Dwarf, this is an opportunity to bring in a different aspect of Dwarf culture.
Dwarven society is so ordered by clans, families, and guilds but Battleragers are actually outcasts of that society who have formed their own guild.
While nobody in Dwarven society will dispute their bravery, they would also prefer not to be near someone as aggressive and unpredictable as a Battlerager.
For those who aren’t Dwarves, there is a ton of fun backstory that would go into how you’ve been trusted with this technique and unique armor.
What led to you learning this tradition? Where do you fit in in Dwarven society and what happened to take you from the outskirts of Dwarven society to the adventure before you?
I could easily see Battleragers gladly finding work and fame as gladiators. The sheer brutality of how they fight would likely draw a crowd, though any fight with them would have to be a fight to the death.
Unless a non-Dwarven army or militia was truly desperate, they would probably be slow to tolerate a Battlerager in their ranks. However, exceptions do occur.
Is the Battlerager Barbarian Good?
The Battlerager Barbarian is an exceptionally weird subclass. In my opinion, it’s one of the strangest official subclasses in all of D&D 5e.
That said, I love the theme and how it carries some very interesting Dwarven cultural aspects. Even the features are reasonably good, particularly before 5e got several more Barbarian subclasses.
But I don’t know that I would consider the Battlerager to be a “good” subclass. It’s certainly fun and interesting, but I don’t think it’s one of the better Barbarian options when it comes down to it.
The biggest weakness of the Battlerager Barbarian is that it relies very heavily on wearing very special armor.
So don’t forget that you’re choosing to forego the Barbarian’s Unarmored Defense feature with this subclass!
Furthermore, that armor is incredibly rare (if we’re sticking to the lore) and would require an expert Dwarven armorsmith to replace it.
Considering that a handful of Rust Monsters can pretty much cost you your entire subclass at any level, it’s risky. Like… incredibly risky…
While Battleragers don’t typically care about the risks of their actions, I think even they would think twice in such situations!
Then we mix in some conflicting action economy and 5e’s admittedly weird grappling rules. What results is a subclass with a ton of potential that feels very “bottlenecked” in practice.
I’m not going to say this is a bad subclass, but I don’t think it really brings the same value as most other options.
Something like the Zealot Barbarian, for example, can hit a similar theme to the Battlerager while also being more effective and less of a potential liability for the party.
Conclusion – Battlerager Barbarian in D&D 5e
I hope you’ve found this guide to the Battlerager Barbarian in D&D 5e helpful!
There’s definitely a lot of potential for this subclass. If you have a DM that will let you gradually upgrade your Spike Armor, it becomes a much more viable option as you move past the early levels.
As for the flavor and theme, I love what this class has to offer. It definitely stands out!
It would be cool to see more subclasses that pull inspiration from the cultures of the various races in D&D. I think it’s a fun way to learn and experience more of each culture from a unique angle.
What are your thoughts on the Battlerager Barbarian? Let’s chat in the comments!
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