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Okay, backstory first. This started off with a character concept I was going to call Ivan the Immortal. Essentially, through magical, racial, and class abilities, Ivan was going to be able to either never fall below 1 HP, or still be able to keep fighting at 0 HP.

Currently, Ivan is a level 20 Path of the Zealot Barbarian. He's a Half-Orc, too. Aside from that, I'm not sure what else could help with my idea, aside from having some way of getting a Death Ward.

I would like to see if anything better could be done, with more ways to either stay fighting at 1 HP, like the half-orc ability, or stay fighting at 0 HP, like the Path of the Zealot ability.

Any officially published material that isn't playtest (Unearthed Arcana) is acceptable, and you can assume that the character is max level, with access to all feats, magic items, and boons.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheAverageCanadian See this FAQ for why your comment was removed. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 30 '18 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @John See this FAQ for why your comment was removed. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 30 '18 at 18:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @screamline & Daniel Zastoupil Related questions should really be related questions. If there is useful material in the answers on another unrelated question, it's not very helpful to hope that someone will dig around and discover it. Linking directly to an answer isn't so helpful either—it is often not obvious how it's helpful and still forces readers to dig around in confusion—instead, an answer should be posted here so it can be tailored to the different question here. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 30 '18 at 20:02
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Resist being unconscious

At any cost.

At that level, your main weakness of your barbarian isn't the lack of things to murder or even the damage. Even death saving throws don't matter as long as you're raging and your health isn't 0 when the rage ends, so you can just chug a potion right before the rage ends and you'll be fine (negative health doesn't exist in 5e).

There's only two ways your rage ends: By choice or by falling unconscious. And being forced to fall unconscious would be the literal death of you.

So look for magical items or brews that make you immune to sleep effects (like Elvish items, or magical coffee). Get abilities that let you reroll saving throws, and improve your Wisdom (counters illusions) and Constitution (counters poisons) saves to avoid effects that would make you unconscious. Watch out for enemies that can utilize spells of manipulation, like Suggestion, that can just convince you to take your last nap during a big fight.

You already have unlimited rages. Each rage only ends if an enemy lands a sleeping effect that sticks, and you only die if you happen to be at 0 health at that time. So as long as you are not both at 0 health and asleep, you will never die to, well, almost anything!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Could still die to damage that exceeds your maximum HP, but otherwise, good answer (and a couple other instant death effects) \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jul 30 '18 at 17:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a note that we have bold and italic formatting available for emphasis. Since it's widely perceived as SHOUTING, we're strongly discouraged from using all-caps emphasis as the go-to way to emphasise words. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 30 '18 at 18:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron Did the math to see how much damage would kill you. Assuming your Con attribute was maxed out, you'd have to take about 280 damage from a source that dealt something other than the physical 3 types of damage. If it WAS one of those types, you'd have to take about 550 damage. In a single blow. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Jul 30 '18 at 18:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or disintegrate. Not saying it's easy, but "anything" is very specific \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jul 30 '18 at 18:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Being able to avoid sleep was not something I had thought about, so that's very important. However, I was also concerned about abilities that are similar to the half-orc's Relentless Endurance, where you can, essentially, come back from unconsciousness. Something like the Way of the Long Death Monk's ability Mastery of Death. Basically, as many of those style of abilities as possible. But, with a little of my own research, I couldn't seem to find a way to combine some of these abilities effectively, so I might be out of luck. \$\endgroup\$ – Jay Kay Jul 31 '18 at 4:33
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For Ivan:

You said you're already Barb 20, so none of the Druid stuff below applies. At this point, as Daniel Zastoupil stated you just want to avoid falling unconscious.

Some things I would look in to to help would be:

  • Get a Death Ward cast on you, either through a scroll or a party member or other powerful caster that you could pay for.
  • Look for items or spells that stop you from being put to sleep through magical means.
  • Get a Ring of Protection (Extra AC and help with saves).
  • A Ring of Spell Turning could be helpful to stop those pesky mages from putting you to sleep or otherwise screwing with your brain.
  • LOTS AND LOTS of health potions, to keep yourself well above 0HP.
  • Have party members that can keep healing you or bring you back if you do go out.

Moon Circle Druid multiclassed over into Barbarian makes for a really tanky combo

This part doesn't directly apply to Ivan, but this Druid/Barbarian combo makes for a really strong build that doesn't ever hit zero HP in the first place.

Base Assumptions

To start, let's assume Druid 15, Barb 5, and 20 CON from level 1. Yes, maybe slightly unlikely but we're talking about an optimized build here.

Time for some powergaming

At level 15, a Moon Druid can Wild Shape into a Triceratops twice per rest. The Triceratops has 95HP, times two is 190HP. Since we assumed 20 CON, if we assume that you take average HP every level, you have 15*(5+5) + 5*(7+5) for a total of 210HP on your main character in his true form. Adding these up, that's 400HP between your Wild Shapes and your true form.

Furthermore, Moon Druids can expend one spell slot per turn and regain Xd8 HP, where X is the level of slot expended. At level 15, the Druid will have 62d8 of healing available, which averages 279 HP of healing. Adding this into our running total, we get 679 HP!

Barbarian adds some spicy features

We multiclassed into Barbarian for the Rage feature, which carries over into Wild Shape AND can be activated while in Wild Shape if it goes down. Now, here's where things get crazy.

If you take the Totem Warrior Path at Barbarian level 3 and select the Bear Spirit, your Rage gives you resistance to ALL DAMAGE that isn't marked as psychic. This includes magic damage of any sort. If it doesn't say Psychic, you take half. This means that, if you keep your Rage up for the entire fight, you have an effective HP of 1358!!! (Barring any Psychic damage).

But wait...there's more!

Barbarian also gives you Unarmored Defense, which means that if your Wild Shape AC happens to have less than 10 + DEX mod + CON mod, then your Wild Shape's AC becomes that number. With +5 to CON, this feature will pretty much always be active.

You also get Reckless Attack, which can be useful if you want to help chunk somebody down. At level 20 most things are probably hitting you anyways, so advantage against you only increases the odds of crit. You also get Danger Sense which can help against save-or-die traps.

At Barb 5, you get Extra Attack (self-explanatory) and Fast Movement, both of which carry over into your Wild Shape, so you can hit twice and move 10 feet more per round. With Extra Attack on the Triceratops, if both attacks hit you can be dealing 8d8+12 damage each round, or an average of 48 damage. DPS classes will pass you by a mile but remember, YOU'RE THE TANK!

Final Note: It's your choice whether you go for Druid15/Barb5 or Druid17/Barb3 for the extra Druid spell slots (which directly translate into healing) in exchange for the Extra Attack and the Fast Movement of the Barbarian.

Conclusion

Druid/Barbarian makes a pretty broken combo, but for Ivan you want to look into Death Ward, Ring of Protection/Spell Turning, lots of health potions, items or spells to prevent magical sleep, and lastly and most importantly, a helpful party. You'll never tank the universe on your own, but with the help of a well-optimized level 20 party you can take down pretty much the entire Monster Manual.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I notice you mentioned that 20 CON from level 1 was unlikely. I may be making an assumption here, but it sounds like you might be thinking that CON doesn't retroactively provide health, but in 5th edition, it does. If you increase your Con mod later in the game, your health retroactively goes up per each level you currently have, so you don't need to start at 20 Con to have high health late in the game. But if I'm wrong in assuming that's what you were referring to, I apologize. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Jul 30 '18 at 22:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another separate comment, scrolls of spells can only be read from casters who have that spell on their spell list. It's really dumb, but that's the standard. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Jul 30 '18 at 22:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ And, uh, Contingency says that the loaded spell can only target you. Cure Mass Wounds doesn't have a radius, but instead says to pick 6 people, so it'd really only heal yourself. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Jul 30 '18 at 23:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanielZastoupil Thanks for the audit, I'll make the changes as required. I wrote this from memory, rather than going back and checking that everything worked correctly, which in retrospect was a mistake. It's been a while since I used spell scrolls hehe. In regards to the CON retroactively increasing health, I'm aware that it does but I mentioned that in case somebody was building this over the course of a game and wanted to have the tankiness earlier on. \$\endgroup\$ – TheAverageCanadian Jul 31 '18 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess my DM house-ruled that anybody can cast any spell scroll, regardless if they're a caster or not. My bad! \$\endgroup\$ – TheAverageCanadian Jul 31 '18 at 15:24

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