The mountains of Dungeons & Dragons 5E are fairly dangerous. There are all types of horrifying weather conditions, powerful creatures, and even natural hazards. Thus, to live in the mountains, one must be even more strong than your average human or orc. That’s why the Goliath is such a good racial option for anyone who needs it. The Goliath is a natural pick for anyone who wishes to become a mountain of a man, crushing their opponents under the sheer power of the earth. Find out what makes these beasts so cool in our Goliath 5E guide.
Goliath 5E Lore
Goliaths spawned from the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion. They are grey and rock-colored people, residing in the mountains of the Forgotten Realms. They’ve accumulated to high altitudes and thus don’t mind the freezing temperature or lack of oxygen. No, what they mind much more is the breaking of their isolation. A Goliath tribe that is met by humans or dwarves or any other race will be staunch in their secrecy, and rarely open warm arms to the travelers. That’s because the tribe is so important to a Goliath, and earning a place in a tribe is crucial to their traditions.
Goliaths are naturally competitive. From a young age, they are taught to be the best they possibly can, since a single mistake from any tribe member can mean a tribe’s death. Goliath children are raised on stories of individual heroes stopping landslides or taking down Rocs; thus, to be a failure in a tribe is significantly worse than death. This causes many Goliaths to continue seeking greater challenges, often leading to many corpses at the front of a mountainous Dragon’s cave.
Honor and glory are important to them, though they understand the importance of money, magic items, or any other environmental benefit. While they enjoy these benefits, a Goliath will still try and ensure that they don’t get complacent; ensuring that you’re an oppressive battlefield force is important, with or without magic. Goliaths are thus meritocratic; they believe the one with the most talent should be leader.
Their competitive nature leaves no room for injured or disabled Goliaths to work. Those who can’t contribute to the tribe are expelled. Often, those who don’t wish to be expelled will die trying to carry their weight. The constant effort a Goliath must put forth means few of them die of old age.
Goliath names are enchanting, and fairly important. Check out our naming guide for more info!
The Goliath is a race that has no races. We suggest making your Goliath as personable as possible, but all Goliaths (without DM permission) have the same statline.
- +2 Strength, +1 Constitution. Strength is a fairly niche stat. Strength Saves are somewhat rare, Strength attacks are only for melee range, and carrying capacity is rarely a problem. So this is a fine stat if you plan on going into melee combat, and only if you have the heavy armor so your AC isn’t bad. Constitution, on the other hand, is universally useful. Constitution saves are very common, and increasing your health is super important for every class. Having a healthy amount of Constitution is great, and your Goliath will be a very healthy lad! Or lady.
- Medium Size, 30 ft Move Speed. Your standard spread for size and movement. You don’t have any significant benefits or downsides compared to other races. Do note, however, that your Goliath is massive; between 7-8 feet and almost 350 pounds! Keep that in mind when you’re peeking over walls or hanging off of a cliff.
- Natural Athlete. A free proficiency is always nice, and your Goliath will usually have passable Strength at least. So, you’ll find use for Athletics.
- Stone’s Endurance. A prime reason to pick Goliath over the other +2 Str, +1 Con races. This allows you to be nearly impossible to kill in the early game. This falls off quite a bit later on, but reducing damage is still a great use of your reaction! You essentially increase your health by 1d12 + Constitution every short rest.
- Powerful Build. Carrying capacity doesn’t matter, and now it really doesn’t matter. You could bench press a building.
- Mountain Born. Cold resistance is sold. Not as good as fire, but about the second most useful. Depending on your campaign, this might be extremely good or not too useful. There are enough spells to make it good a lot, though. Height acclimation is probably fine.
- Languages. Giant is a great language to have, though it might be a bit rare that you need to use it.
The Goliath was built for one thing, and one thing only; frontline beefcastling. So, the question is, what classes do that the best?
Good Classes for Goliaths
- Barbarian. The creme of the crop choice for Goliaths. They get to use their massive Strength and Constitution to the fullest. Barbarians benefit so much from those two stats! Being able to shrug off damage is a nice bonus, as is getting a free Athletics proficiency. You’ll suffer a bit later on from not having Darkvision, but your benefits far outweigh any downside!
- Cleric. This one is really, really fringe. If you choose a domain (such as Forge or War) with Heavy Armor, this is a good choice. You’ll be a high-damage, consistently hitting frontliner with the ability to heal and problem solve. You’ll benefit from shrugging off damage, the free skill, and even a bit of cold resistance. The problem is your lack of Wisdom. Your magic will suffer a bit from your choice of race, which is a big problem for one of the strongest casters in the game. If you want to play a buff-centric Cleric, that beats faces in the frontlines, then Goliath can work.
- Fighter. The typical Strength fighter gets everything they’d ever want from Goliath. Strength, Constitution, extra skills, more durability, even a damage resistance. All that’s missing is Darkvision, and that’s an easy problem to fix! Just make sure you’re going for a subclass that makes use of your ability to wade through the battlefield.
- Paladin. This one’s a bit less fringe than Cleric, but still a bit fringe. Your lack of Charisma will lead to a bit of problems with your Auras. You benefit a ton from Charisma, since your aura of Saving Throws is so strong. However, you’ll be dealing high damage, have some great health, be tanky as all get out… It might be worth considering,
- Ranger. Once again, like Paladin, not fantastic. Wisdom is good for Ranger, though Rangers benefit less from their casting stat than Paladins do. So, you can make a decent melee Ranger, with fantastic durability and alright AC. This could be especially flavorful if you’re doing a mountainous campaign!
Bad Classes for Goliaths
- Artificer. The extra Constitution and durability is nice for a melee Artificer, but that’s it. Your lack of Intelligence boost means your massive Strength bonus will be wasted. Artificers really don’t care about Strength, and thus your Athletics isn’t too useful either. You’d basically be a Goliath for raw durability, which doesn’t take down enemies too quick.
- Bard. No Charisma means your bard won’t be doing too much in a spell fight. You could make a Goliath with the Valor Subclass, and that would be a tanky bard. However, you really want some Charisma if you want to make a solid Bard.
- Druid. Why is Cleric good and Druid bad? Well, Druids don’t get access to Heavy Armor, can ignore their Strength bonus with Wild Shape, have better access to elemental protection, and tend to use more Spell attacks and DCs. You’ll be tanky, but Druids care more about Wisdom than melee-centric Clerics.
- Monk. Monk replaces everything Strength does with Dexterity. There’s no reason to build a Goliath Monk… Other than tankiness. However, your AC will suffer heavily. Try an Unarmed Fighter, if you want to be a Goliath Monk!
- Rogue. Similar to Monk, Rogues benefit so much more from Dexterity. You might have a good health pool, but you won’t be efficient at taking down important targets. The free Athletics proficiency might not do too much either!
- Sorcerer. Basically, same upsides and downsides as Bard. You’ll be super tanky, but your spells will be worse. And unlike Bard, there’s no “Bloodline of Valor” to give you armor and let you be a frontliner.
- Warlock. A melee Warlock tends to be a Hexblade, who doesn’t care about Strength. So instead of that, you’ll be wanting to be some sort of strange melee Warlock without being a Hexblade. That’s far from optimal… Though your Warlock will be hard to kill early on.
- Wizard. Similar to most of the other casters, you benefit from the raw durability of the Goliath. However, your spells will suffer a ton, especially early on. It might not be worth the sacrifice, since Wizards don’t benefit much from Strength.
The Goliath tends to be one of the more simple races to build, but they have a rich history and a ton of strong tanky class features. This is a great race, especially if you wanna beat face!