Fafhrd Berserker/Thief Barbarian Build – Baldur’s Gate 3

This build is based around the idea of playing as Fafhrd – the other famous sword and sorcery Barbarian and one of the primary inspirations for the Rogue class. Combining the two classes will result in a character who’s great in a fight, can deal with all those pesky locks and traps, and is better than you’d expect when it comes to dialogues.

The sections below will explain how to build a Berserker/Thief character who can act as an effective jack-of-all-trades, and while he won’t be breaking the game anytime soon, he’ll be more than enough to carry you through the Tactician difficulty.

Mechanically, this build is centered around the idea of getting three levels of Rogue to get the Thief subclass that grants you an additional bonus action. This synergizes really well with the Berserker Barbarian’s Frenzy that grants extra attacks through Frenzied Strike and Enraged Throw as bonus actions.

And while you can only use Frenzied Strike once per turn, the second bonus action from the Thief subclass will allow you to do a lot on your turn. You can activate Frenzy and use a Frenzied Strike on the same turn, use Dash as a bonus action (allowing your character to cross entire battlefields in a single turn and still attack afterwards), and throw bombs and javelins with Enraged Throw, knocking your targets down in the process.

This section assumes you won’t be respeccing along the way, and as such it presents you with two optional variants, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

This version of the build starts with 1 level of Rogue, then gets 5 levels of Barbarian, then two more levels of Rogue to complete the core of the build. Advancing this way will let you become your party’s main Sleight of Hand expert who deals with traps, unlocks doors, and picks pockets with the best of them.

This will come with the drawback of lagging a level behind pure martial characters, and thus unlocking the extra attack feature on level 6 instead of 5. It will also force you into putting points into Dexterity (more on why this is suboptimal later). Still, if you like your character to be well-rounded, enjoy scouting ahead, or don’t want to have Astarion or a Rogue hireling in your party, this is a very smooth way to play.

  • Race/Subrace – Human for the extra Skill and to maintain the build’s theme, but can use any race.
  • Starting Class – Rogue
  • Abilities
    • 16 Strength (14+2)
    • 14 Dexterity
    • 15 Constitution (14+1)
    • 8 Intelligence
    • 10 Wisdom
    • 12 Charisma
  • Background – Outlander (Soldier works well too, but Lae’zel covers it already)
  • Skill Proficiencies
    • Athletics (from Outlander)
    • Survival (from Outlander)
    • Perception
    • Sleight of Hand
    • Stealth
    • Intimidation
    • Insight (can swap this one for anything)
  • Skill Expertise
    • Perception
    • Sleight of Hand

Multiclassing into a Barbarian on level 2 won’t grant you Proficiency with Medium armour, essentially locking you into the Unarmored Defence route. Both versions of this build will eventually end up there, but this one will have a slightly harder time to not die early-on.

To avoid dying early-on, we recommend utilizing things like shields, elixirs of Barkskin, Mage Armour (through scrolls or party members), Haste (scrolls or party members), Mirror Image (scrolls). Alternatively, you can opt to use a reach weapon like the Sorrow glaive and stay behind someone tankier, like Shadowheart or Lae’zel.

This version of the build starts with 5 levels of Barbarian, then grabs 3 levels of Rogue. This lets you go through the early game as a strong single class. You will, however, need to bring a Rogue along with you until you hit level 6 and unlock your true potential thanks to some special gear you can find in early Act 2.

  • Race/Subrace – Human is highly advisable here for the extra Skill.
  • Starting Class – Barbarian
  • Abilities
    • 16 Strength (14+2)
    • 8 Dexterity
    • 16 Constitution (15+1)
    • 8 Intelligence
    • 12 Wisdom
    • 14 Charisma
  • Background – Outlander (Soldier works well too, but Lae’zel covers it already)
  • Skill Proficiencies
    • Athletics (from Outlander)
    • Survival (from Outlander)
    • Perception
    • Stealth
    • Intimidation
    • Once you multiclass into Rogue, grab Sleight of Hand and tick its bonus, plus Perception for Expertise.

The abysmal starting Dexterity allows us to boost our Constitution and exploration/social abilities. We can afford to not put any points into Dexterity thanks solely to Gloves of Dexterity, an item you find in early Act 2 when you reach the Githyanki Crèche for Lae’zel’s personal quest. These gloves set a character’s dexterity to 18 regardless of the starting point. It’s an integral item for both variants of this build, but is much more important for the Barbarian start.

Because you will have such low starting Dexterity, surviving the early game can once again be a challenge. Most of the tricks mentioned in the Rogue start still apply, only instead of Barkskin and Mage Armour, you’ll be using the best suit of Medium armour you can find.

Charisma is increased in both variants because, believe it or not, it’s the spellcasting ability for Barbarians in Baldur’s Gate 3, which means it determines the success rate of spell scrolls (anyone can use them in BG3) and spells granted by equipment. But since Charisma also boosts our Intimidation checks and Barbarians frequently get Advantage on those, we’re not complaining.

The Rogue variant has an odd Constitution score, because at certain points in the game you can get permanent Ability bonuses (like when you decide to spare Auntie Ethel). If you get one, you can put that point into Constitution to bring it up to 16 for a neat +3 bonus.

Here, we’ll summarize and explain the choices we’ll be making while getting new levels during our journey through Faerûn.

Regardless of the variant, we’ll be grabbing the Berserker Barbarian subclass and the Thief Rogue subclass as soon as possible, or in other words, once those classes hit level 3. The great mobility and bonus action economy between these two subclasses will ensure that you can always get to where you need to be and grant you plenty of attacks per turn.

With the way this character is structured, you won’t be getting your second Feat until much later in the game, and your first one is a pretty much mandatory Ability Score increase you grab as soon as you hit level 4 on Barbarian.

  • Ability Score
    • Once you hit level 4 on Barbarian, you should increase your Strength by 2 points to 18.

Your second feat will come late in the game and can be whatever. Depending on which weapons you decide to use, good options include Tavern Brawer, Great Weapon Master, Mage Slayer, Polearm Master, and Savage Attacker.

The beauty of this build is that it’s essentially complete at level 8, which means you won’t have to wait until the very endgame to experience all it has to offer. This also means that past level 8, you have some freedom in how you decide to develop your character.

  • Barbarian
    • You can keep getting Barbarian levels for great hit point progression, extra Rage, and eventually stronger critical hits.
  • Rogue
    • You can keep getting Rogue levels, which will unlock your second feat much earlier and greatly boost your sneak attack damage. Just keep in mind that you can only sneak attack once per turn and when using a weapon with a Finesse property.
  • Fighter
    • It’s always nice to have some Fighter levels. You get self-healing, even more attacks thanks to Action Surge, and some nice subclass bonuses.
  • Bard or Cleric
    • If you want to really lean into the Fafhrd idea, you can even grab some Bard levels to reflect his skald training, or some Cleric levels to commemorate his stint as an acolyte and avatar of Issek of the Jug. These options won’t result in a particularly strong character, but it can be a neat challenge.

This build is pretty liberating when it comes to equipment, as you’ll be able to wear just about anything, as long as it doesn’t have the Armour tag.

The two mandatory pieces of gear for this build are found in early Act 2. These are the Gloves of Dexterity mentioned above and The Mighty Cloth garment you get from the Harper quartermaster in the last Light Inn. The Mighty Cloth increases your Strength score by 2 up to 20 (after the level 4 feat), grants you the Bull Rush ability, Advantage on Strength Saving Throws, and as icing on the cake, it doubles your carrying capacity.

And while you’ll be able to use any weapon, there are actually some considerations to be had there. Because Sneak Attack only works with Finesse weapons, it goes against the Barbarian idea of rushing in and hitting things with a large stick. Still, the game actually supports this class combo with a couple of Finesse longswords.

If you decide to give up on using Sneak Attacks, then just grab the best greatsword you can find and go to town. Alternatively, you can use polearms like halberds and glaives, as you can find quite a few great ones throughout the game, and the reach advantage can be very useful, especially against enemies with retaliation abilities (you’ll be able to simply outrange those).

With that in mind, here are some interesting items you might consider using in the early stages of your journey:

  • Sorrow
    • A +1 glaive that grants the Sorrowful Lash cantrip as a bonus action. You get it as a reward for the Save the First Druid quest, or you can steal from the Emerald Grove it much earlier.
  • Phalar Aluve
    • A +1 longsword with the Finesse property and a team-wide buff to Attack Bonus. You find it sticking out of a stone near the Selûnite Outpost in the Underdark.
  • Susur Greatsword
    • A +1 greatsword that can Silence your target. You craft it as part of the Finish the Masterwork Weapon quest.
  • Bloodguzzler Garb
    • A chestpiece without an armour tag that grants you bonus damage whenever you get hit. You loot it from the Bulette in the Underdark.
  • Disintegrating Night Walkers
    • Boots without an armor tag that grant immunity to Enwebbed, Entangled and Ensnared, as well as slipping. Also, allow you to cast Misty Step once per short rest. You can loot these from Nere the True Soul in Grymforge.
  • Larethian’s Wrath
    • A +1 longsword with the Finesse property and a strong AoE attack. You get it from A’jak’nir Jeera in Crèche Y’llek
  • Darkfire Shortbow
    • A +2 shortbow that grants you Resistance to Fire and Cold damage and the ability to cast Haste once per Long Rest even when it’s just sitting in your ranged weapon slot and not in your hands. You can get it from Dammon in the Last Light Inn.
  • Cloak of Protection
    • The old reliable, grants +1 Armor Class and +1 Saving Throws. You can get it from Quartermaster Talli in the Last Light Inn.
  • Marksmanship Hat
    • A hat without an armor tag that grants +1 Attack and Thrown rolls – it’s like it was made for us. You can get it from Roah Moonglow in Moonrise Towers.
  • Shifting Corpus Ring
    • Lets you cast Invisibility and Blur, useful when you’re looking to steal something, ambush someone, and boost your survivability. You can loot it from Flaming Fist Marcus after he attacks the Last Light Inn.
  • Elixir of Bloodlust
    • It may not read like the best thing in the world, but it is. Whenever you kill an enemy, you get a full action back (meaning two attacks for a level 5+ Barbarian). And it stacks with Haste. The 5 extra hit points is just a nice bonus on top.
  • Smokepowder Bombs, Spears, Javelins
    • Great Enraged Throw fodder.
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Val Hull
Val Hull

Resident role-playing RPG game expert. Knows where trolls and paladins come from. You must fight for your right to gather your party before venturing forth.

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