Goliath Guide 5e
Published on January 26, 2021, Last modified on May 2nd, 2022
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What is this guide?
This guide is meant to give you an idea of whether or not the goliath will be right for your 5e character build.
The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your goliath. This color coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable to your party and will be fun to play.
- Black is a trait shared by many races and or will not impact the effectiveness of your character build
- Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
- Orange Situationally good, but a below-average option otherwise
- Green is a good option
- Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
- Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized
Tasha's Cauldron of Everything Update
Tasha's Cauldron of Everything has added the "Customizing Your Origin" option that may affect the ability score increases, languages, and proficiencies in this guide. To read more about this, visit our D&D Race Guide.
What are Goliaths in 5e?
Source: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
Goliaths are a solitary race, choosing to live on the most treacherous of mountain peaks away from prying eyes. Their large stature, great strength, and resistance to the elements has allowed them to survive in extreme frigid conditions. Goliaths have strong ties to their nomadic tribes, and are driven by a fierce competitive nature that leaves no room for weakness or remorse for those who do not contribute. Due to their beliefs, goliaths tend to not understand the hierarchical power structures of typical societies and value strength and fair competition above all else.
Goliaths can be found for free in the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion.
Goliath 5e Traits
Ability Score Increase: A +2 to STR and +1 to CON is perfect for a select few builds and synergizes very well, but will offer nothing to most classes.
Size: Medium is the typical size of most races, and is neither good nor bad. Goliaths are on the upper end of the Medium size threshold at 7 to 8 feet tall and weighing between 280 and 340 pounds.
Speed: Goliaths have a standard walking speed of 30 feet.
Natural Athlete: Free skill proficiencies are always great. Athletics is ideal for the goliath because of their huge +2 STR bonus.
Stone’s Endurance: A great use of your reaction that refreshes on a short rest. Reducing damage by a d12 + CON modifier is absolutely huge at lower levels and remains relevant throughout a campaign.
Powerful Build: Not everyone plays with strict carrying capacity limits, but Powerful Build can let you get away with some nonsense if you are a hoarder. Being able to push, drag, or lift more weight is more interesting and is likely to come up in a campaign.
Mountain Born: Mountain Born is another trait that boosts the Goliath’s survivability. Cold damage is one of the more common damage types, so having a built-in resistance is very useful.
Goliath 5e Subraces
In the Monsters of the Multiverse update, goliaths received an upgrade to their most powerful racial trait, Stone’s Endurance.
Little Giant: Little Giant just rolls Natural Athlete and Powerful Build into a single racial trait, both of which are very useful.
Mountain Born: This is the same as the original goliath.
Stone’s Endurance: Stone’s Endurance has its uses now tied to your proficiency bonus instead of once per short rest, giving you more flexibility on when you want to use this to reduce incoming damage. It was great before, and is still great with this change, though you may get fewer daily uses at lower levels.
Which 5e Classes Work With Goliaths?
Looking at the ASIs and racial traits of the goliath, it is quite obvious what sort of playstyle is intended. Ideally, goliaths want to be a damage soaker and destroy their foes with a STR weapon.
Artificer: Artificers need INT to be effective.
- Updated: Stone's Endurance and Mountain Born is helpful, but artificers should already be quite durable with shield if their subclass can take it, absorb elements, and infusions to go with heavy armor.
Barbarian: Goliaths are perfectly suited for barbarians, giving even the half-orc a run for their money. Stone’s Endurance makes Reckless Attack less scary, so you can be even more, well, reckless!
- Updated: Goliaths remain one of the absolute best choices for any barbarian as not much has changed.
Bard: Bards really want that CHA boost for their spells, and melee bards are better off going for a DEX build.
- Updated: Goliaths do increase the bard's durability, though they should not be trying to tank damage in the first place. Melee bards could find some utility here.
Cleric: STR builds are quite good for this class, and the Goliath will make for one tanky cleric. The main issue here is that clerics are a full caster class, so without WIS you are at quite a handicap until you can boost it to a comfortable level with ASIs.
- Updated: An excellent choice for any tanking cleric. Stone's Endurance will keep you on your feet much longer, allowing you to heal and assist your allies as they deal big damage.
Druid: Druids need WIS to be effective.
- Updated: Druids are one of the trickiest classes to keep alive due to their low AC and mediocre hit dice. Stone's Endurance goes a long way to keep druids on their feet and in the fight.
Fighter: Everything about the goliath is perfect for a STR-based fighter. With the goliath’s traits, your fighter will deal massive damage while being able to tank for the party.
- Updated: Fighters are already great tanks, and Stone's Endurance takes this to the next level. AC won't need to be as much of a concern with a goliath since you have a large pool of hit points and you can reduce damage with Stone's Endurance.
Monk: DEX and WIS are paramount for the effectiveness of a monk, so missing both here hurts. STR can be useful for a Grapple/Shove build, but that won’t be enough to make up for the poor stat distribution.
- Updated: Monks can be quite difficult to keep alive at low levels due to mediocre hit dice and AC. For low level campaigns, Stone's Endurance is a great way to make up for this before you get higher DEX and access to some of your better class features.
Paladin: Some paladins do not want to pump their CHA as high as it can go for spellcasting, and will instead focus on STR for melee damage output while focusing on spells that don’t require CHA to be effective. In that case, goliath paladins are quite strong and will be effective tanks rivaling the other viable melee classes.
- Updated: An excellent choice for any tanking paladin. Stone's Endurance will keep you on your feet much longer, allowing you to heal and assist your allies as they deal big damage.
Ranger: Rangers are typically bow users, and melee ranger builds would likely prefer finesse weapons.
- Updated: A premium option if going for the difficult to build STR ranger, but even regular DEX-based rangers will enjoy Stone's Endurance as a way to increase durability as rangers don't have much in the way of damage reduction.
Rogue: DEX is simply too good to consider a STR Rogue without multiclassing.
- Updated: The main draw of the goliath, Stone's Endurance, is made redundant by Uncanny Dodge.
Sorcerer: Sorcerers need CHA to be effective.
- Updated: Not a terrible choice since Stone's Endurance will do lots for survivability, though ideally your sorcerer won't be taking lots of damage to begin with.
Warlock: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
- Updated: Goliaths are an excellent pick for any Hexblade warlock since they can really struggle with durability. Stone's Endurance and to a lesser degree Mountain Born should help there. If playing any other subclass goliaths aren't the best pick because ideally your warlock won't be taking lots of damage to begin with.
Wizard: Wizards need INT to be effective.
- Updated: Not a terrible choice since Stone's Endurance will do lots for survivability, though ideally your wizard won't be taking lots of damage to begin with. Even Bladesingers won't be too interested in the goliath since they have access to shield, absorb elements, Bladesong, and Song of Defense to stay alive.
Sources Used in This Guide
- BR: Basic Rules
- SotDQ: Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
- ERLW: Eberron: Rising from the Last War
- EEPC: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
- EGtW: Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
- FToD: Fizban's Treasury of Dragon
- GGtR: Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica
- MotM: Monsters of the Multiverse
- MToF: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
- MOoT: Mythic Odyessys of Theros
- PHB: Player's Handbook
- SAiS: Spelljammer: Adventures in Space
- SCoC: Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos
- SCAG: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
- TCoE: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
- TTP: The Tortle Package
- WBtW: The Wild Beyond The Witchlight
- VRGtR: Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft
- VGtM: Volo's Guide to Monsters
- XGtE: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Roland Drews is a content creator and editor at Arcane Eye. When he isn't watching basketball or noodling on his guitar, you can find Roland reading, writing, or playing D&D. He currently lives in Bonn, Germany with his girlfriend Jess.