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A berserker is a warrior, usually a humanoid barbarian, who fights with a reckless disregard for their own safety.


Berserkers often charge into battle and fight until death.

Large berserker groups are lead by war chiefs, warriors of significantly high skill, and their sub-chiefs. Berserkers disdain arcane magic, and so do not employ wizards in their leadership, but they do occasionally have clerics and clerical assistants.

Berserkers usually make small, informal, mobile camps. Occasionally, they dwell in cave complexes, in ruins, or in fortified structures they've built (or commandeered) themselves. Berserker lairs often have prisoners and camp followers such as merchants (non-combatants).


A berserker's battle-lust makes them completely fearless.

Berserkers often disdain ranged combat, preferring to charge into the thick of melee.

Publication history

Original D&D

Berserkers first appeared in the entry for Men in Dungeons & Dragons 3-Volume Set, Monsters & Treasure (1974).

The berserker appeared as a subclass of fighting-man in New D&D Character Subclass: The Berserker, Dragon #3 (Oct 1976), p.27, by John Pickens. A later article noted that this subclass was intended for NPCs.[1]

Basic D&D

Berserkers appeared as a human enemy in the Basic Set (Holmes) (1977), Basic Set (Moldvay) (1981), Basic Rules (BECMI) (1983), and Rules Cyclopedia (1991).

AD&D 1st edition

Berserkers appeared in the entry for Men in the Monster Manual (1e) (1977).

The berserker appeared as a NPC subclass of fighter in The Wild Warriors, Dragon #133 (May 1988), p.76-80 by Tom Griffith. In the article, they were related to the barbarian class.

AD&D 2nd edition

The berserker appeared in the entry for Men in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989), where they shared the same statistics as the dervish. The berserker (still sharing statistics with the dervish) was updated for the Human entry in the Monstrous Manual (1993).

The berserker also appeared in PHBR1 The Complete Fighter's Handbook (1989) as a character kit for warriors (fighters, rangers, and paladins). The berserker later appeared as a character class in HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1991).

D&D 3rd edition

The orc berserker appeared in Monster Manual IV (2006).

The frenzied berserker prestige class appeared in Masters of the Wild (2002), and was updated for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 in Complete Warrior (2003).

D&D 4th edition

The human berserker was introduced for Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition in H1 Keep on the Shadowfell (2008), and was reprinted along with the orc berserker in the Monster Manual (4e) (2008). The advanced human berserker appeared in Dungeon #155 (Jun 2008), and the cult berserker appeared in Dungeon #158 (Sep 2008). The Deathless berserker (a dwarf berserker) appeared in The Shadowfell (2011).

The Ashbound berserker, from the Eberron setting, was introduced in the Eberron Campaign Guide (2009).

Several other creatures described as berserkers also appeared in 4th edition.

The berserker also appeared as a subclass of barbarian in Heroes of the Feywild (2011).

D&D 5th edition

The berserker, now officially a humanoid of any race, appeared in the Nonplayer Characters appendix of the Monster Manual (5e) (2014).

The Path of the Berserker was introduced as a primal path (subclass) for the barbarian in the Player's Handbook (5e) (2014). It was also the only primal path available to barbarians in the SRD 5.1.


  1. The Wild Warriors, Dragon #133 (May 1988), p.77.