With Powerful Build, not only do you lift, bro, you’re basically a superhero. Add in a little magic and you can almost pick up a mountain.
How strong is your D&D character? Yeah, sure you’ve got Strength 20, or maybe you managed to get your hands on a Belt of Giant Strength so you’ve got a strength somewhere around 29. Well while that’s impressive, you don’t even lift compared to the feats of strength that characters with Powerful Build can get up to these days. Especially with the advent of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
Grab your protein shake, your macro-nutrient calculators, and a Centaur, Goliath, Minotaur, Firbolg, Bugbear, or Orc. Because we’re going to see just how strong the strongest D&D characters can get.
As you might have guessed from the featured image, Powerful Build is at the heart of what we’re doing and here’s why:
“Powerful Build: You count as one size category larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.”
It’s one of the more underrated class features out there. A big part of that is that it tends to be limited. Only a few races have it: Goliaths, Firbolgs, Orcs, Minotaurs, Centaurs, and Loxodons. And those are scattered in some of the rarer books like Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Mythic Odysseys of Theros, or the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount. But they’re worth looking at if you want to play someone who is capable of truly impressive feats of strength.
In order to understand why counting as “one size category larger” for determining how much you can lift is important, let’s look at the lifting and carrying rules:
Creatures can carry an amount equal to 15 x Strength score in pounds before feeling it, but can push, drag, or lift up to 30 times their Strength. And for every size category above Medium, you double that capacity. So a Large creature can carry and lift 30x/60x their strength, a Huge creature gets 60x/120x and a Gargantuan(+) creature can manage (at least) 120x/240x their strength score.
At that point, even with an average strength of 10, you’re moving immense amounts. A medium creature with powerful build can carry 300 pounds before even slowing down, which is already putting you at able to carry more than a character starting out with strength 18. And if they become larger? Then it gets even bigger and better. A Gargantuan character (or one who counts as that large) with 10 strength can carry 1200 pounds and can lift 2400–that’s more than a ton. You can bench the entire party at this point. And that’s just your average person.
Now let’s look at what happens when you start getting adventurers–and when the adventurers start min/maxing.
With careful planning, let’s see what we can do. To start, we need powerful build. Which for this exercise, let’s play a Minotaur so that we can be literally beefy, but as you’ve seen above, there’s plenty of options. We start with an 18 strength, because tautology, and that already means we can carry 540 pounds without breaking a sweat, and can lift 1,080 pounds and still walk around.
And that’s just getting started. We take our first three levels in Paladin, specifically Oath of Glory out of Mythic Odysseys of Theros. It’s basically if Kronk from the Emperor’s New Groove was a D&D class. And at 3rd level you get Peerless Athlete, which lets you channel dignity to gain advantage on strength checks and, more importantly, doubles your carrying/lifting capacity. So now we’re up to casually carrying around 1080 pounds and can lift more than a ton, at 2160 pounds. That’s enough to lift a 1979 Volkswagen Beetle over your head, and if you can’t figure out how to D&D with that, I don’t know what to tell you. Move blocks, carry siege equipment, etc., the possibilities are limitless.
But we’re just getting started. Our next four levels are in Fighter, specifically Rune Knight. It doesn’t matter what Runes we know, they’re all good, but what we really want is Giant Might, which once again, gives you advantage on strength checks, but also makes you Large. And since we’ve got powerful build, we count as Huge. And at 4th level fighter, we bump our strength to 20 (making the math a lot cleaner). Which means when all our stuff is going we get to count as Huge and double from there, so our carrying capacity is 2400 pounds, and we can lift a maximum of 4800. So you can carry around a car pretty easily, and can lift all kinds of animals, like a female hippo, a rhinoceros, or 1.1 giraffes.
And that’s without any magic items. It gets weird once you add in magic items. Like a belt of Frost Giant strength, or better still a manual of exercise which can boost your strength to 30. Let’s assume that happens over the next 6 levels, which are Barbarian for us. Raging is nice and all, but we’re going to be strong like bear.
Literally, because we’re picking the Path of the Totem Warrior and going Bear totem. It’s objectively the best one, but we don’t care about the features that make it good. What we care about is that at 6th level, once again our carrying/lifting capacity is doubled. Our caring capacity too, but that’s because barbarians are naturally empathetic.
Which means that, with a strength of 30 and everything going, we count as huge and our maximum load is doubled twice, bringing us to 7,200 carrying weight and 14,400 lifting. If that sounds like a lot, Sue, the most famous T. Rex this side of Jurassic Park is wstimated to have weighed around 14,000 pounds, so at this point you can officially grapple and throw a T. Rex.
But, like everything in life, it gets better when there’s a little magic involved
To really powerlift, you need access to enlarge/reduce and enhance ability, which you can get by taking a couple of levels as a wizard and finding a potion of growth, or you can just make two friends who can each cast the spells. Either way, it’s time to get Gargantuan. Technically. First up, become Large via your Rune Knight’s Giant Might feature, then either drink your potion or get someone to cast enlarge/reduce. That takes you from Large to Huge, and with Powerful Build, you count as Gargantuan, which is as big as it gets in D&D. Colossal is just a remnant of a forgotten past.
Now you just need to get enhance ability cast on you, and if you hadn’t guessed, we’ll be enhancing strength, which doubles your carrying and lifting capacities once again. So if you’re playing along at home, we now: count as Gargantuan, (120x/240x), then double our carrying capacity three times with Bear Totem, Peerless Athlete, and Enhance Ability, or a grand total of 960x/1920x our Strength Score, which assuming we max out at 30 gets us to 57,600 pounds. That’s well over 23 tons. Here’s a small list of things you can lift with that raw strength.
- Four T. Rexes/Elephants
- About 1/5th of the Statue of Liberty (we’d go with the Torch, obviously)
- Thirty-eight cows stacked on top of each other
- A fully loaded F22 Fighter Jet
At this point, you should make the question “how much does it weigh” your mantra. Ask your DM–never stop looking for something you can lift. Move a table. Need to intimidate someone? Pick them up by the chair they’re sitting on and tell them they’re in your seat. Chase the enemy raiders to a warehouse? Pick up everything and throw it at them. Improvise some heavy weapons–be sure and remind the DM of just how much weight you can throw around. It’s a great way to bring up the strength and bulk of your character. You might not do as much damage, but who cares. With Powerful Build, you can reach escape velocity. And even if you can’t get your hands on enough strength-increasing tomes, a Belt of Frost Giant strength will get you almost as close with Strength 29 that gets you a “mere” 55,680 pounds to lift.
Now get out there and move mountains, many stones at a time.
What are you going to lift next time? Let us know–and Happy Adventuring!