Last Updated on October 21, 2023
In the world of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, the Path of the Beast Barbarian subclass offers a unique and exciting playstyle for those adventurers who are willing to embrace their primal instincts. This comprehensive guide will delve deep into the mechanics, strengths, weaknesses, and optimal choices for your Path of the Beast Barbarian. Whether you’re new to the class or a seasoned player looking for fresh insights, we’ve got you covered.
Before we dive deeper into the specifics of the Path of the Beast Barbarian, it’s important to note that this subclass is found in “Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything,” a supplement that brings a multitude of new options to D&D 5e. If you haven’t already, consider acquiring your own copy of this invaluable resource.
Role in the Party
Tainted, or perhaps blessed, with a bloodline that contains something changeable and feral, Barbarians who follow the Path of the Beast tend to forgo weapons, for their bodies are shifting weapons in themselves. Whether sneaking through an overgrown forest, crouched atop the spire of a great temple, or tearing the limbs from their foes, the Path of the Beast tends to breed great hunters that are as comfortable stalking solo as they are acting as pack alpha to marshal their party to bring down beasts greater than themselves.
The Path of the Beast Barbarian is a versatile addition to any adventuring party, capable of dealing and absorbing heavy damage, while also providing utility in various situations. This guide will break down the Path of the Beast subclass, its abilities, how to build one, skills, feats, and much more.
Path of the Beast Features
Form of the Beast (Level 3)
At 3rd level, the Path of the Beast Barbarian gains the Form of the Beast feature, which transforms their body into a natural weapon when they enter a rage. This unique ability offers three forms to choose from:
- Bite: A 1d8 simple piercing weapon that provides additional healing when the Barbarian is under half their maximum HP.
- Claws: A 1d6 slashing weapon that grants an extra attack without using a bonus action.
- Tail: A 1d8 piercing weapon with reach, allowing the Barbarian to bolster their defense by adding to their AC against incoming attacks.
Form of the Beast is a remarkable ability that ensures the Barbarian is always armed when they have Rages left, giving them the flexibility to adapt to different combat situations on the fly.
Bestial Soul (Level 6)
Starting at 6th level, the Path of the Beast Barbarian’s Form of the Beast natural weapons become magical, allowing them to overcome resistance. Additionally, the Barbarian gains the ability to choose one of three adaptive features after each short or long rest:
- Swim Speed and Water Breathing: Perfect for aquatic encounters.
- Jump Boost: Enhances the Barbarian’s jumping capabilities, making it useful for traversing obstacles.
- Climbing Speed: Allows the Barbarian to climb walls and ceilings without the need for checks, a highly versatile ability.
Infectious Fury (Level 10)
From 10th level, whenever the Barbarian hits a creature with the natural weapons provided by this subclass, they can force the target to make a Wisdom saving throw. A failed save allows the Barbarian to choose one of two effects:
- 2d10 Psychic Damage: A rarely resisted damage type.
- Force the Target to Make a Melee Attack Against Another Target: This unique ability is especially powerful when used strategically.
Call the Hunt (Level 14)
The Path of the Beast’s capstone ability, available at level 14, is a game-changer. When the Barbarian Rages, they can choose a number of creatures within 30 feet, up to their Constitution modifier, to participate in the Barbarian’s hunt. This provides temporary hit points to the Barbarian and a damage bonus to affected creatures for attacks requiring an attack roll. This ability scales with party size and has zero downsides.
The Path of the Beast Barbarian excels in numerous aspects, making it a powerful choice for those who revel in glorious combat:
Durability: With the highest HP pool in the game, reasonable AC, and resistance to physical damage, the Path of the Beast is a formidable tank. One-handed attacks leave the other hand free for a shield, further increasing the character’s survivability.
Flexibility: Unlike other Barbarian subclasses, the abilities of the Path of the Beast can be changed every time they are used. Whether you need more damage, defense, or versatility, this subclass can adapt to the situation.
Party Support: As the character progresses, they start benefiting their allies as much as themselves. Enemies can be driven to attack their own comrades, and the Barbarian becomes even more resilient while boosting their allies’ damage output.
Scouting and Tracking: Outside of combat, the Path of the Beast excels as a tracker and scout. They can take point, sniff out enemies and traps, and contribute to social situations with the right feats and skills.
While the Path of the Beast Barbarian boasts many strengths, it does come with a few limitations:
Lower Damage Output: Due to the reliance on natural weapons, this subclass may deal slightly less damage compared to Barbarians wielding traditional weapons, such as greatswords.
Ranged Combat: The Barbarian’s natural weapons are melee-oriented, which can be a disadvantage when facing distant foes. Always carry a ranged option to deal with such situations.
Lack of Magical Options: The class lacks magical abilities, limiting its utility outside of combat. Players may need to consider feats or skills to make the class more versatile in non-combat scenarios.
Best Race Options
Selecting the right race for your Path of the Beast Barbarian can significantly enhance your character’s capabilities. Here are some excellent race choices:
Half-Orc: Half-Orcs make exceptional Barbarians, offering a balanced stat spread, Darkvision, Intimidation proficiency, and the relentless ability to avoid death once per day.
Metallic Dragonborn: This choice provides a flexible stat spread, damage resistances, and the fantastic Breath Weapon, which offers AOE damage and crowd control options.
Githyanki: While the INT boost may not be ideal, Githyanki offer STR, a valuable language, skill or tool proficiency, and versatile cantrips like Mage Hand and Misty Step, enhancing mobility.
Choosing the Right Skills
Barbarians have limited skill proficiencies, so it’s crucial to make wise choices:
Athletics: A must-have skill for Path of the Beast Barbarians, as it scales with STR, benefits from Advantage on STR checks during a rage, and covers leaping, climbing, and grappling.
Perception: Vital for noticing hidden threats, particularly for utilizing the Barbarian’s Danger Sense ability, which requires sight.
Beyond these core skills, consider thematic selections like Stealth, Survival, and knowledge skills like Nature or Medicine, depending on your character’s background and role within the party.
Feats can further enhance your Path of the Beast Barbarian. Consider these options:
Sentinel: A fantastic choice for tanking, Sentinel allows you to protect your allies, immobilize enemies with opportunity attacks, and prevent Disengage actions.
Chef: Surprisingly fitting for a bestial character, Chef provides a bonus to CON or WIS, healing options for your party, and scaling temporary HP, making it a flavorful and practical choice.
Tavern Brawler: Ideal for grappling builds, Tavern Brawler offers bonuses to unarmed damage and allows you to grapple when attacking unarmed or with improvised weapons. The Barbarian’s high STR and Advantage on checks during a rage make this a strong choice.
Your background can provide essential skills and flavor to your character:
Sailor: With perfect skills and nautical tools, Sailor fits well if your character can swim like a dolphin, thanks to their level 6 ability.
Outlander: Athletics and Survival are valuable skills, and the language and musical instrument proficiencies add flavor to your character.
Urchin: Two stealthy skills working with DEX, two toolkits (including Thieves Tools), and the image of a hulking, bestial monster sneaking into locked houses create a terrifying and intriguing character concept.
Exploring multiclassing options can further diversify your Path of the Beast Barbarian:
Rune Knight Fighter: Multiclassing with Rune Knight Fighter offers the character the ability to become Large size, gain reach, and access a range of active and passive buffs. It complements the Barbarian’s abilities and provides additional options for tactical play.
Gloom Stalker Ranger: A few levels in Gloom Stalker Ranger turn your Barbarian into a stealthy predator, granting bonuses to initiative, movement speed, and bonus damage in the first round of combat. This multiclass option enhances your character’s versatility and stealth.
Twilight Cleric: Two levels in Twilight Cleric grant access to the powerful Twilight Sanctuary ability, providing substantial temporary hit points to the entire party. This support-oriented option adds significant utility to a class that traditionally lacks it.
Would I Recommend Playing a Path of the Beast Barbarian?
Absolutely! The Path of the Beast Barbarian offers a thrilling and dynamic experience, allowing you to embrace your inner monster and wreak havoc on the battlefield. Whether you’re seeking a dedicated damage dealer, a resilient tank, or a versatile scout, this subclass provides a wide array of options. Its unique abilities and adaptability make it a standout choice for those who want to experience the full range of a Barbarian’s potential. So, grab your character sheet, choose the Path of the Beast, and let the hunt begin!
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