Unarmored Defense & Barbarian| A 5e Class Feature in D&D

Unarmored Defense 5e

Unarmored Defense & Barbarian| A 5e Class Feature for D&D Players

Unarmored Defense in d&d 5e is an optional class feature available to specific players in the 5th edition of the Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) game. That feature allows players to utilize their unarmored bodies to protect themselves. And it boosts their class of armor (AC) through a naturally-derived armor benefit.

How Unarmored Defense Works

Suppose a person chooses one of the classes that provide an unarmored defense option. They gain the capability to include their Constitution adjustment to AC and any other bonuses they receive from shields or armor. The armor bonus is natural regardless of whether the wearer has armor on or off. And it can be combined alongside any other bonuses that are added to AC.

For instance, a person with a Constitution score of 16 and no benefits in AC could possess the AC equal to 10 times 3 (Con mod) = 13 if unarmored.

  • This class feature may be taken by any class which has proficiency with light and medium armor. Except for shield proficienc, this particular class feature can replace all of the class’s armor proficiencies.
  • Unarmored Defense Calculation (Barbarian): 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Constitution modifier.
  • Unarmored Defense Calculation  (Monk): 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Wisdom modifier.
  • Unarmored Defense Doesn’t Stack: According to the D&D and the multiclass rules in the Player’s Handbook, you can’t double-dip on this Unarmored Defense feature. Barbarians and Monks both get Unarmored Defense at level one.

Classes that provide unarmed Defense

The following classes are equipped with the defense feature that is unarmed as a feature for the class:

It is important to remember how defenses that are unarmored work may differ in a small amount among classes. For instance, monks can use their unarmed Defense along with the Martial Arts class feature. In addition, it permits them to add Wisdom modification to their AC and your Constitution modifier.

Enhancing Unarmored Defense

There are various methods for characters to improve their Defense without armor beyond improving the Constitution score. That includes:

  • Feats such as the Defensive Duelist and Shield Master grant bonus points to AC when they use a high-end weapon or shield.
  • Magic items, such as those that grant the Amulet of Natural Armor, grant an armor bonus that is natural to AC.
  • Spells like Barkskin provide a natural armor boost to AC.

How Unarmored Defense Can Benefit Your Character

Unarmored Defense is a highly effective weapon for characters who value Defense more than offense. In relying on their unarmored bodies for protection, this character can help conserve assets (such as gold used to buy armor) and move quickly and stealthily during combat. In addition, the unarmored Defense could be a great alternative for those who wish to portray rugged, independent, self-sufficient people.

Unarmored Defense for 5e Barbarians: A Closer Look

Unarmored Defense 5e Barbarian

Unarmored Defense is an optional class option available to barbarians in the 5th edition of the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) game. This feature allows barbarians to utilize their body without armor as a means of protection, giving them a boost for their armor classes (AC) through a natural armor bonus.

How Unarmored Defense Works for Barbarians

Suppose a character chooses to take the class barbarian. In that case, they can add to their Constitution modification to AC as well as any other bonuses they get from shields or armor. The natural armor bonus is applicable regardless of whether or not the barbarian wears the armor, or is not. It also can be combined with other bonuses to AC.

For instance, the barbarian with a Constitution score of 16 and no bonus points added to AC will be able to achieve the AC that is 10+3 (Con mod) = 13 if they were not armored.

The Role of Unarmored Defense in Barbarian Builds

Unarmored Defense plays an essential role in the barbarian’s physique, particularly for those who place a high value on Defense over the offense. That helps barbarians save money (such as gold to purchase armor) and move swiftly and quietly in battle. Also, unarmed Defense could be an excellent option for barbarians wanting to play as tough, independent, self-sufficient people.

Another advantage of unarmored Defense for barbarians is that it permits barbarians to keep their combat power even in battle when armor breaks or is damaged. Barbarians can fight even if their armor has been damaged, making them powerful combatants in battle.

Enhancing Unarmored Defense for Barbarians

There are many ways barbarians can improve their Defense without armor beyond improving their score in the Constitution. They can do this by:

  • Feats such as the Defensive Duelist or Shield Master give bonus points to AC when they use a finesse weapon or shield.
  • Magic items, such as items like the Amulet of Natural Armor, grant an inherent armor bonus to AC
  • Spells, such as Barkskin, can give a natural armor bonus to AC.

What’s the benefit of this feature? 

Barbarian Unarmored Defense class feature to a class that quickly puts on armor?

The benefit of the “Unarmored Defense” Barbarian character feature “Unarmored Defense” would depend on the particular circumstances of the character as well as the particular campaign they are participating in. For example, the feature might be less effective if the character can access and quickly wear armor. However, in situations where the character cannot put on armor, or when the wearing of armor would be harmful, this feature could provide an option to boost the character’s Defense. Furthermore, if a Barbarian is looking to use the shield, it can help in boosting their AC. The final value of the feature will be contingent on the player’s preferences and the particular requirements of the character’s campaign.

The Barbarian capstone is a +1 to CON + 4 STR (which is equivalent to two AC).

Let’s take the example that you are a Mountain Dwarf (2 STR/2 CON). 15/14/15 STR/DEX/CON 10 WIS. With +10 stats (if feats aren’t allowed) You end up at 24 STR/24CON/18 DEX/10 WIS. That is +11 AC without armor (better than Shield+Plate).

There are also items such as Bracers of Defense, which give you an additional 3 AC (but they won’t function in conjunction with Armour and Shield).

Sure, at the beginning few levels, there may be better options. However, you can do it exceptionally well and get excellent AC in the end, even without the capstone capability.


Ultimately, Unarmored Defense is a versatile and effective class attribute that can help characters who value Defense when fighting. Whether you’re a monk, barbarian, or druid in wild form, this ability will help you fight even the most formidable opponents. Suppose you have the right mix of feats, classes, magic items, and spells. In that case, you’ll be able to improve your Defense without armor and turn into a formidable army at the front.