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I'm making new character, a level 5 Lizardfolk using two spiked shields. I want to build him as a wall of HP and AC but not sure how best to do this.

So i'm thinking of being a Bear Totem Barbarian until level 5 then maybe going Fighter to level 3 so I can get Battle Master for some battle field control. With more Fighter levels I can get more ASI/feats: Sentinel and Dual Wielding and Tough. The party already has a Wolf Barbarian so some fighter levels may bring something new to the table

At level 5 my stats will be including the lv 4 ASI.

  • STR - 18
  • DEX - 16
  • CON - 20
  • INT - 12
  • WIS - 16
  • CHA - 13

The DM is letting me stack the AC and have proficiency to attack with shields and they count as light weapons.

I'm looking to build out to level 15+, avoiding magical classes, focusing primarily on defense with damage and control as secondary objectives.

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To Increase Your Survivability in Combat

The only question to be found above was in your heading, so I'm going off of that: how to get the most AC and HP as a Bear Barbarian. But I'll also focus on making that AC and HP work for you: specifically in helping you take less damage in the first place, and give you some partial healing abilities.

The first advice I'd give for increasing your AC is to raise your Dexterity up to 20 ASAP. This will give you an AC of 10+5+5+2+2=24. (With your Unarmored Defense, and two shields). From there, you might want to see if you can grab some magic items like the Cloak of Protection, or Ring of Protection, both of which add +1 to your AC and saving throws. But some of the best defense bonuses you can get come from multiclassing1.

Multiclassing:

Your Bear Barbarian's best trait to help your survivability is his resistance to all damage, when raging (other than psychic). But raging won't allow you to cast or concentrate on spells. So any further aids to your defense will be based on routes other than spellcasting.

For Being Hit Less/ Taking Less Damage from Hits:

Counterintuitively, you might want to take a several levels in Rogue or Monk. With your AC so high, you're unlikely to get hit by much other than spells. By taking up to level 7 in Monk or Rogue, you'll gain Evasion:

When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail. PHB p-96

Since Barbarians have advantage on Dexterity saving throws already (Danger Sense), this could add up to considerably reduced damage for you. Not to mention the the "half damage" guaranteed by this ability would stack with your "resistance" causing you to take a quarter damage overall, worst case scenario (if you are raging).

Rogues main combat advantage is their sneak attack, which you couldn't use unless your DM considers shields to be finesse weapons (unlikely). But you'd also get the 5th level Rogue ability of Uncanny Dodge, which would allow you to use your reaction to halve damage from one attack per round (with your Reaction) that manages to hit you (which would mean you'd take a quarter damage overall, since the Rogue's ability is not "resistance", and would stack with your current resistance to damage while Raging).

Monks, on the other hand, gain an ability to dodge as a Bonus Action at level 2, at the cost of a "Ki" point. If you took up to Monk level 7, you could do this seven times per short rest, which would be quite effective at keeping you from being hit. You'd also gain some control and damage ability from the Monk's "Stunning Strike", and healing ability from the Monk's "Wholeness of Body" (if you chose Way of the Open Hand as your Monastic Tradition).

Adding to your HP/ Being a Damage Sponge:

You've requested to "avoid magical classes". I don't know if you mean you want to avoid classes that require casting spells (which makes sense because of your Raging restrictions), or if you were opposed to classes that have spell slots overall. If it's not the latter, a good choice might be a Moon Druid.

Technically, transforming into an animal isn't a "spell", so you'd still be able to maintain a rage in a transformed form, and transform into (and out of) it as bonus actions while continuing to rage. This would give you all the HP of the beast you changed into, which would be effectively doubled since you will still take half damage while you Rage. Also, you'd still be able to use the Druid's spell slots to heal yourself while transformed.

Additionally, while you are transformed by Wild Shape, you can use a bonus action to expend one spell slot to regain 1d8 hit points per level of the spell slot expended. PHB p-66

Since this isn't a spell either, it's compatible with your Raging, allowing you to take half damage and still heal yourself.

The downside to this build is that the transformed shape is unlikely to be very high AC. Even using your "Unarmored Defense", most beasts still would have an AC of 15 or lower. Still, it's one of the highest survivability builds out there, and when the beast HP goes down you're back to your high AC self with full HP.

Personally, I'd recommend Barbarian 5, Monk 8 (ASIs in Dex), Moon Druid 2 for your level 15 character. It would provide a combination of incredible evasion (dodging most rounds) and a major HP buffer, both of which are replenish-able on a short rest. You'd only get 3 Rages per day, but that will allow you quite a bit of time where you are a unhittable, unstoppable steel-skinned damage sponge.


1 Small addendum to multiclassing: Barbarians gain the highest amount of hit points every level per class. So all of this multi-classing will cost you about 20 hit points to your regular HP, since Rogue, Monks, and Druids all earn 2 fewer hit points per level than Barbarians. But between the 74 hit points per short rest you're getting (from transforming into a Dire Wolf or Tiger twice, with 37 HP each), and the extremely increased damage reduction you'll get from Monk (near constant dodging and 0 damage from succeeding on an extremely common saving throw for which you have advantage), I firmly believe you're coming out ahead.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Druid 2 would be highly limited on choices of forms, none of which are likely to be worthwhile for an L15 character. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. May 17 '17 at 21:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ True, in and of themselves. But a Moon Druid can transform into a Challenge 1 beast at level 2. This would allow, for example, a Tiger or Dire Wolf, which would have AC of 14 (10+2+2 for Unarmored Defense), and have 37 hit points, with Resistance to all damage (if Raging), and Pack Tactics if Dire Wolf. The player can do this twice in every short rest, essentially giving 74 hit points every short rest. If the player is only concerned with increasing HP and AC, then this is quite a boost. He'd have to choose between AC and HP, but it still would increase survivability. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme May 17 '17 at 21:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ You're welcome. Excellent points all around so got a +1 from me already, though there are a lot more Magic Items that can help. But, since players rarely have a say of what Magic Items they can get in a campaign, it's best not to go into too much detail. But I think it's worth mentioning that dual wielding two Shields +x (they don't require attunement) can get very ridiculous. \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 May 18 '17 at 4:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, Hill Dwarf for +1 hp per level, toughness feat +2 hp per level. \$\endgroup\$ – General Anders May 19 '17 at 19:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GeneralAnders The OP already chose Lizardfolk, and says that the race selection allowed him to wield two shields. \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 May 20 '17 at 0:54

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