Figuring out what magic items best fit your character in 5E D&D isn’t straightforward when you have literally hundreds of magic items to choose from, so, in this article, we’ll help out the barbarians by sharing our list of the top 10 best magic items for barbarians in 5E D&D!
We’ll be focusing on magic items from the Dungeon Master’s Guide (presented in no particular order), and rather than including the most insane legendary items, we’ll focus on magic items that a DM can hand out to the party’s barbarian even at earlier stages of the game and without messing up the balance too much!
1. Belt of Giant Strength
A wizard casts spells, a cleric heals, a rogue sneaks, and a barbarian.. hits stuff.
Most barbarians are built around brawn rather than brain – the stronger you are, the harder you hit – so, of course, a magic item that raises your Strength score to the level of a literal giant is amazing for a barbarian!
The belt comes in various types – one for each of the most popular types of giants – and basically sets your Strength score to that of the type of giant, ie. a legendary belt of cloud giant strength gives you a Strength score of 27, while the uncommon and much less powerful belt of hill giant strength sets your score to 21. You don’t have to be a wizard to figure out which of these two you’d prefer to have!
2. Flame Tongue
A flame tongue is a weapon that you can cause to erupt with fire – in other words, one of the most awesome magic weapons for a barbarian!
Mechanically speaking, you might be better off with a plain +2 weapon (when factoring in boring stuff such as foes being immune to fire damage and the additional chance to hit when using your great weapon master feat), but a blazing weapon that deals an extra 2d6 fire damage on a hit is just much more cool/hot!
3. Belt of Dwarvenkind
Behold the amazing power of a Belt of Dwarvenkind!
A belt of dwarvenkind is an amazing item for a barbarian. Not only does it raise your Constitution score by 2 (to a maximum of 20) which is extra powerful with your Unarmored Defense feature, it also gives all the benefits of being a dwarf (darkvision, advantage on saving throws against poison and resistance to poison damage, as well as the ability to speak, read, and write dwarvish, the latter being a pretty fun bonus if you’ve decided your barbarian is illiterate in its mother tongue).
Equally important, the belt gives you advantage on Charisma (Persuasion) check made to interact with dwarves AND a 50 percent chance each day at dawn of growing a full beard, which we can all agree is super cool.
4. Ring of Free Action
A ring of free action is a simple yet super useful magic item for a barbarian. While wearing the ring, you can ignore the effects of difficult terrain and you are immune to magic that’d cause you to be paralyzed, restrained, or otherwise reduce your speed – meaning you’ll never again struggle to reach your foes due to a stupid pool of mud or annoying spells such as entangle and hold person! A great magic item in other words.
5. Dancing Sword
A dancing sword is a magic sword that you can turn into a flying sword that lets you make an additional attack on each of your turns as a bonus action (with your attack roll and ability score modifier!). This is not only super cool, it’s also really powerful and will vastly increase your damage output. The only remaining question is if you want a dancing greatsword or a dancing shortsword. And that isn’t really a question.
I feel I should give the scimitar of speed an honorable mention, as it gives you a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls while also letting you make an additional attack as a bonus action. It just doesn’t feel as badass as wielding a flame tongue while having a dancing greatsword hovering next to you!
Note that if you’ve chosen the berserker class (which you shouldn’t unless your DM fixes it), or if you have picked up something that allows you to do something cool with your bonus action, such as the polearm master feat, a dancing sword becomes less useful.
6. Cloak of Protection & Ring of Protection
A flat +1 bonus to AC and all saving throws isn’t very original or flavorful, but it’s a pretty solid buff for a barbarian. For some reason, Wizard’s of the Coast decided that a ring of protection is a rare magic item while a cloak of protection is uncommon, even though they do the exact same thing, so if you have to choose, you should definitely go for the ring.. because.. well, it’s rare!
7. Animated Shield
If you believe a barbarian should wield a two-handed weapon but would still like the +2 to AC bonus from a shield, an animated shield is the item for you0. As a bonus action while holding this shield, you can cause it to hover around you for 1 minute, acting as a normal shield while allowing you to smash down your foes with a two-handed greatclub like you were born to do!
8. Arrow-Catching Shield
I am not saying you should wear a shield as a barbarian (you really shouldn’t), but if you do, an arrow-catching shield is a great option! This shield gives you a +2 bonus to AC (meaning +4 in total) against ranged attacks, plus it lets you use a reaction to become the target of ranged attacks made against allies within 5 feet of you – which is awesome when you’re raging and thus halving physical damage against you. Still, in most cases, I think this item is better suited for a heavily armored paladin or fighter.
But hey, if you’re already going against your primal instincts and giving up on your Unarmored and Fast Movement feature to wear heavy armor, you might as well go full tank with this shield!
9. Winged Boots
Gaining a flying speed equal to your walking speed is great for almost any class, but as a barbarian you usually want to get into melee as quickly as possible – and you get an additional 10 feet speed at level 5! – making a pair of winged boots a superb magic item. Of course, you can carry around a stack of javelins as a plan b, but with a pair of boots that lets you fly over a cliff side to reach a band of goblins who thought they were positioned safely above you, you’ll almost always be able to execute plan a: Get into melee and crush your opponents with a heavy-hitting weapon!
A way less overpowered alternative for gaining some extra mobility would be something like boots of speed or a cape of the mountebank (for a single use of dimension door once per day without taking up an attunement slot), both of which are also great magic items.
10. Bracers of Defense
Assuming you’re not wearing any armor and rely on your Unarmored Defense feature, a bracers of defense is a pretty solid magic item as it gives you a flat +2 bonus to AC. If you continuously use Reckless Attack (which you should), it may not matter too much though – and handing these bracers over to your party’s monk might be better. But, if you want extra AC without joining the armor-club, this is the item for you!
Ring of Spell Storing
With a ring of spell storing you can store five levels worth of spells (such as five 1st-level spells or a 2nd-level and a 3rd-level spell) and cast them using the spellcasting ability of the original caster, even if you aren’t a spellcaster yourself. Having spells such as misty step and haste at your disposal as a barbarian is nothing less than amazing – and the only reason this magic item didn’t make it to the top of the list is due to the fact that you’d have to convince (or bully) the spellcasters of your party to fill the ring with magical power.
This item is honestly horrible, but it’s also loads of fun and seems 100% designed with the archetypical barbarian in mind. It does give you +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls, which is always nice, and it increases your maximum hit points by 1 for each level you have, but it also comes with a terrible curse that forces you to succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw (arguably not the barbarian’s strong suit) whenever you take damage or go berserk!
Now, going berserk might not sound too bad with you raging every combat anyway, but this is an entirely different thing that basically turns you into a mindless killer-machine that must attack whoever is closest to you. You remain in this state until no creatures are within 60 feet of you, which is likely to be once you’ve downed all of your foes and allies – or your allies have fled and left you for good. Still, it’s a really flavorful item, so if you like the concept, it’d talk to your DM about altering the curse, perhaps by lowering the DC (perhaps making it depend on the amount of damage you take), or by changing how often you have to make the saving throw.
Magical tattoos were introduced with Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and while I did say this list would focus on magic items from the Dungeon Master’s Guide, they just seem too good a match for the barbarian class to pass on this list. Out of the 11 magical tattoos we have, the blood fury tattoo, the barrier tattoo, and the eldritch claw tattoo options are the most amazing.
The blood fury tattoo is a legendary tattoo with 10 charges that you can expend to deal an additional 4d6 necrotic damage when you hit with a weapon attack and regain hit points equal to the amount of necrotic damage dealt. Equally powerful, you can also expend a charge when you take damage to make a melee attack against the creature that damaged you! All-around awesomeness!
The barrier tattoo gives you a specific AC depending on the rarity of the tattoo – with the very rare version of the tattoo giving you a flat AC of 18. This is similar to wearing a plate without messing up your Fast Movement feature, so if you just want a solid AC without wearing armor (and having to focus on raising your Dexterity score), this is a great way to do it. I do think there are other and more fun options, but this item is definitely not bad! It should be noted that the AC won’t stack with items like bracers of defense or cloak of protection, but you can still wear a shield. Not that you should.
Finally, we have the eldritch claw tattoo, an uncommon tattoo that makes your unarmed strikes magical attacks with a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls. While far from as powerful as a great axe, it’s really cool for the occasional tavern brawl, plus you can empower the tattoo once per day to convert your unarmed strikes to inky tendrils with 15 feet reach and a 1d6 extra force damage on a hit. Again, not super powerful, but definitely cool!
Horn of Valhalla
With a horn of Valhalla, you can summon a bunch of warrior spirits straight from Valhalla to aid you in combat. The spirits use the berserker statblock and the number of spirits depends on the type of horn – but even the weakest version of the horn lets you summon 2d4+2 berserkers, which is terribly overpowered at lower levels – even if the horn can only be used once every week. If I used this item in my game (as DM) I’d probably limit it to a single use as it can literally turn the tide of combat in an instant, but I do think it’s a flavorful and thematically cool item that fits in the hands of a barbarian!
That’s it for this one!
Let us know in the comments if you agree with our picks for the top 10 best magic items for barbarians in the 5E D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide – or what your favorite magic item for the barbarian is!
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