The Path of the Beast Barbarian is considered to be the closest subclass to lycanthropy in both the transformation of one’s body, as well as the added benefits having such a condition provides.
Along with becoming more like a beast, your rage ability will work in sync with your physical traits and abilities as you gain interesting new adaptations, genuinely becoming a beast in the shell of a person.
- Path of the Beast Barbarian 5e – Features
- Building a Path of the Beast Barbarian
- Path of the Beast Barbarian 5e FAQs
- Final Thoughts
Path of the Beast Barbarian 5e – Features
Beast Barbarians have a delicate balance between defense and offense. Beast Barbarians serve as Defenders yet don’t fall into the “Tank Fallacy,” a condition many Barbarian players have found themselves contracting.
Beast Barbarians are very adaptable, with various decisions that players must make to customize their Barbarian’s build. Luckily, the Beast Barbarian can change these decisions every time they rest or every time they rage.
Not only will this allow them to adapt to changes quickly, but it also gives the Barbarian a better solution than the “I rage, you hurt” playstyle.
Origin of the Beast
When you choose the Path of the Beast Barbarian, you’ll roll a 1d4 to determine your origin:
|Origin of the Beast|
|1||Apparently, one of your parents is a lycanthrope, and it turns out you’ve inherited some of their curse.|
|2||You are a descendant of an archdruid and have inherited the ability to partially change shape.|
|3||A fey spirit had gifted you the ability to adopt various bestial aspects.|
|4||The spirit of an ancient animal dwells within you, allowing you to walk the Path of the Beast.|
Form of the Beast
When you choose the Path of The Beast at level 3, you may transform whenever you enter your rage, revealing the bestial force that dwells within you. Until your rage ends, you can manifest natural weapons.
These natural weapons count as simple weapons for you, and when you attack with it as normal, you can add your Strength modifier to its attack and damage rolls.
Each time you rage, you choose which form your weapon takes:
Bite – Your mouth transforms into great mandibles or a bestial muzzle (choose), dealing 1d8 Piercing damage on a hit.
Once on your turn, when you damage a creature with your bite, you’ll regain HP equal to your proficiency bonus (if you have less than half your HP when you hit a target).
Claws – Both of your hands transform into a claw, which acts as a weapon if it’s empty and deals 1d6 Slashing damage on a hit.
Once on each of your turns, when attacking with a claw and using an Attack action, you may make one additional claw attack that is part of the same Attack action.
Tail – Grow a lashing, spiny tail with the reach property and deal 1d8 Piercing damage on a hit.
When a visible creature within 10 feet of you successfully hits you with an attack roll, you may use your reaction, swiping your tail and rolling a d8. The number rolled is a bonus applied to your AC, potentially making the attack miss you.
Starting at level 6, the feral force dwelling inside of you increases, causing the natural weapons created from Form of the Beast to also count as magical weapons to overcome resistance and immunity to nonmagical damage and attacks.
You can also choose to alter your form and adapt to your surroundings. Whenever you finish a long or short rest, you choose one of the following benefits:
- Gain a swimming speed that equals your walking speed, and you can now breathe underwater.
- Gain a climbing speed that equals your walking speed, allowing you to climb difficult surfaces, like upside down on ceilings, without making an ability check.
- When jumping, make a Strength (Athletics) check, extending your jump by a number of feet, equalling the check’s total. This special check can be made only once per turn.
At level 10, hitting a creature using your natural weapons while raging puts a curse on the target, brought on by the beast inside you.
The target will have to succeed on a Wisdom saving throw (DC equalling 8 + your Proficiency bonus + your Constitution modifier), or it’ll suffer one of these effects (choose):
- Target must use their reaction and make a melee attack against another visible creature you choose.
- Target will take 2d12 Psychic damage.
This feature can be used several times equal to your Proficiency bonus. All expended uses will be regained when you finish a long rest.
Call the Hunt
Becoming level 14 means the beast inside of you grows powerful enough to imbue others with its ferocity, gaining resilience from them and joining your hunt.
Entering rage mode lets you choose several visible creatures within 30 feet of you equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum of 1).
Each creature that accepts this feature will provide you with 5 temporary HP.
Until your rage ends, creatures you choose may obtain this benefit once on each of their turns:
- Hitting a target with an attack roll and dealing damage to it allows the creature to roll a d6, gaining a bonus to the damage equal to the number they rolled.
Call the Hunt can be used several times, equal to your proficiency bonus. All your expended uses will be gained after finishing a long rest.
Building a Path of the Beast Barbarian
Compared to other Barbarian paths, the Beast Barbarian is known for having a perfect balance between defensive and offensive capabilities.
In that case, you can go many routes with the Beast Barbarian, but because of its versatile kit, you don’t have to choose between damage or defense; you can just choose both.
One big change the Beast Barbarian has in comparison to other Barbarians is that they rarely use two-handed weapons.
You’ll spend a lot of time behind a shield and looking for a simple melee weapon whenever you’re not raging, but you’ll still mainly deal damage with natural weapons anyway.
Path of the Beast Ability Scores
Path of the Beast Barbarians focuses on Ability Scores similar to other Barbarians, prioritizing Strength and Constitution, while Dexterity can be a helpful addition, and Wisdom can be used to increase some commonly rolled skill checks.
- Strength – When you look at the Form of the Beast feature, it mentions that you’ll add your Strength modifier to both the Attack and Damage rolls for attacks made with natural weapons.
Therefore, Strength affects your hit chance and damage for your main weapons, so you should try to get Strength as high as possible.
- Constitution – Constitution is almost as important as Strength, as it’s used in both the Infectious Fury and Call the Hunt features.
Not only is it used in the Beast Barbarian’s kit, but it also affects the HP gained at the start of the game and every time the player gains a level.
You should also keep in mind that the higher your Constitution, the more difficult it’ll be to get through your annoyingly large HP pool.
- Dexterity – Dexterity will be your 3rd most important Ability Score, as it acts as your invisible shield that prevents your character from taking unnecessary hits and allowing enemies to get to your backline.
Having high Dexterity affects how much your armor’s AC bonus will increase when not wearing any armor (which goes well with the Barbarian’s unarmored feature) or when wearing light or medium armor.
- Wisdom – Wisdom saves are the most common save you’ll do in D&D (Perception saves use Wisdom and are the most common by far), so don’t pay too much attention to it, but don’t forget about it.
There aren’t many benefits to Wisdom besides having higher Wisdom saving throws and performing better with Wisdom-based skills, so you don’t have to put too much effort into it if you’re not going to use it.
- Charisma – Charisma isn’t all too important for the Beast Barbarian. The only time you’d want to spec into this Ability Score will be if you use skills like Intimidation or Persuasion.
- Intelligence – There’s no reason to ever spec into Intelligence as a Beast Barbarian. While there might be some hidden build somewhere that some crazy person uses, it’s not optimal, and you should dump it.
Ideal Path of the Beast Barbarian Races
The Beast Barbarian doesn’t require the player to think outside of the box if they don’t want to, as most of the common races that fit with Barbarians, like Aasimar (Scourge), Centaur, Deep Gnome, Eladrin, and Shadar-Kai all work well with it.
That being said, there are some races that have unique interactions with the Beast Barbarian, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to also look at them before settling on a choice:
Hadozee have the Glide racial feature, and when you choose the Jump option in the Bestial Soul feature (for the Beast Barbarian), you can travel much further than you can walk.
The easiest way to use this combination would be to jump into the sky and immediately trigger your glide feature, floating to your chosen destination.
Satyrs have the Mirthful Leaps feature, allowing them to roll a d8 whenever they make a long jump, adding the number rolled to the feet they cover.
For the most part, Satyrs aren’t all too useful, as their proficiencies aren’t the best, and the Mirthful Leaps can be overshadowed by other races’ improved jump interactions.
Simic Hybrids are similar to the Hadozee as they have the Manta Glide feature, allowing Beast Barbarians to use their improved jump and glide quite a few feet.
Simic Hybrids stand out because they have Grappling Appendages, which Beast Barbarians can use to grapple opponents or deal more damage (using natural weapons that are affected by Beast’s Strength modifier).
Note: Even though these races have unique interactions with the Beast Barbarian, they aren’t always the best choices, especially when other races might have better race bonuses.
Path of the Beast Barbarian Background and Skills
When you create your Beast Barbarian, understanding which background and skills are relevant to your character is very important.
Your background is an overarching choice, meaning it affects many character aspects, such as the tool proficiencies you receive, the skills you obtain, and the way your character acts.
Skills are more self-explanatory, as you choose a number of them available to you as a Barbarian (common skills are Stealth, Animal Handling, and Deception).
There are a ton of backgrounds out there, but a few examples that’ll work well for a Beast Barbarian are Outlander, Soldier, and Uthgardt Tribe Member.
Outlander is a go-to Barbarian background, as you can get two skill proficiencies (Athletics and Survival) for Barbarian skills.
While the other additions are generally wasted, the Wanderer feature and additional language could come in handy at some point.
Soldier is similar to both Outlander and Folk Hero, as it provides the character with two Barbarian skill proficiencies and a vehicle (land) proficiency.
The other additions aren’t very useful, but the skill proficiency and the vehicle (land) proficiency are great, as it includes vehicles like carriages, which a party will use a lot when they don’t have teleportation magic.
Uthgardt Tribe Member also gives players two Barbarian skill proficiencies; however, the rest of the additions aren’t very useful for the Beast Barbarian.
One insignificant detail of the Uthgardt Tribe Member background is how well it can play into your character creation, lore, and playstyle, as each tribe is unique and can be used to develop an entire story.
As a Beast Barbarian, you’ll have access to six skill proficiencies (where you may choose two); Animal Handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Nature, Perception, and Survival.
Perception (Wis) and Athletics (Str) are both great skills to have, as Perception (Wis) is the most commonly rolled skill in 5e, while Athletics (Str) will help you with climbing and grappling.
While Intimidation (Cha) is a popular Barbarian skill, the fact that you won’t really use Charisma as a Beast Barbarian means you can forget about it and focus more on skills that you NEED.
Animal Handling (Wis), Nature (Int), and Survival (Wis) are all situational skills, so if you’re not planning on using them or need them for your campaign, just push them to the side.
Note: Keep in mind that your race, background, and feats can also provide skill proficiencies.
Path of the Beast Barbarian Feats
While Backgrounds can be thought of as character customization, Feats are important elements of a character’s gameplay.
Even though there is an abundance of Feats to choose from, not all Feats are good, and sometimes it’s better to opt into increasing your Ability Score rather than choosing a new Feat.
Below are four examples of Feats that work well for a Beast Barbarian:
Your time with bladed weapons has taught you where to cut for the best results:
- Your Dexterity and Strength increase by 1, reaching a maximum of 20.
- Once every turn, when you’ve hit a creature with an attack dealing Slashing damage, you can reduce the target’s speed by 10 feet until your next turn starts.
- When scoring a critical hit that deals Slashing damage to a targeted creature, you will grievously wound it. Until your next turn starts, the creature will have disadvantage on all its attack rolls.
Having your Strength increased, giving a speed penalty to a creature, and debuffing a creature on a crit is fantastic on its own, but when paired with the Beast’s double attack, it becomes insane.
The bonus additional attack increases your chances of hitting a crit, and when combined with a Reckless Attack, it gives you advantage, increasing your chances even more.
If you also have Extra Attack, you’ll have so many chances to land a crit that it feels like your cheating.
You may increase one of your ability scores by 1, but only to a maximum of 20, and you’ll gain proficiency with one skill you choose.
Then, you may choose one skill you have proficiency with, gaining expertise with that skill and doubling any ability checks made with it.
The chosen skill must be one that isn’t currently benefiting from a feature (like Expertise), which can double your proficiency bonus.
Getting expertise in Athletics will make grappling easier, but it’ll also mean jumping higher, as the Beast Barbarian can do a lot with its extra jump height, especially when combined with the right race.
While holding a shield, you gain the following benefits:
- Taking the Attack action on your turn allows you to use a bonus action to try and shove a creature within 5 feet of you with your equipped shield.
- If you’re not incapacitated, your shield’s AC bonus can be added to any Dexterity save you make against a spell or other harmful effect that only targets you.
- Being subjected to an effect allowing you to make a Dexterity save to only take half damage means you can use a reaction to take no damage if you succeed on the save, interposing your shield between the source of the effect and yourself.
Beast Barbarians are more likely to use shields compared to other Barbarians, and because they don’t have any way to use their Bonus Action while raging, having Shield Master can provide some nice benefits.
When you gain this feat, your HP maximum will increase by an amount equal to twice your level. Thereafter, whenever you gain a level, your HP maximum will increase by an additional 2 HP.
Your Bite transformation allows you to regain up to half of your HP whenever you bite a target, and having a higher HP maximum by getting Tough makes the Bite transformation more usable.
The only problem with this is that you’ll have to invest quite a lot into Constitution, but if you’re not all too worried about damage and already have decent Strength, consider investing in Constitution while having Tough.
Path of the Beast Barbarian Weapons and Armor
Beast Barbarians will receive the same equipment all Barbarians do (except if you buy your own or have added equipment from your background), but imagine only being able to pick the default options for now.
Compared to other Barbarians, the Beast Barbarians don’t opt for great weapons, usually settling for shields and easy-to-find, disposable one-handed weapons.
Note: Beast Barbarians mainly deal damage using their natural weapons (claws, bite, and tail).
Below are two options that can work well with most playstyles of a Beast Barbarian:
Warhammer – Versatile weapons that deal 1d8 (One-handed) or 1d10 (Two-handed) Bludgeoning damage and weigh 2 lbs./0,9 kg.
Warhammers deal quite a bit of damage, aren’t too heavy, and can be used two-handed if you lose/throw your shield away.
Javelin – Javelins deal 1d6 Piercing damage, can be thrown (30/120), and weigh 2lbs./0,9kg each.
Javelins are quite useful, as they can stab or be thrown at enemies. They are relatively light, meaning you can get a few of them, and they deal a decent amount of damage.
Before getting all your modifiers in Dexterity and Constitution equal to +7, it’s a good idea to wear some basic armor or even carry around a shield as a Beast Barbarian.
Halfplate – Halfplates allow you to add your Dex modifier (maximum of 2) to the AC, which is why you need to have 15 Dex. It weighs 40lbs./18,1kg and gives a Stealth disadvantage.
Halfplate gives better AC than having Unarmored Defense and is better to opt into if your Dexterity and Constitution scores aren’t high enough.
Note: Don’t forget about the disadvantage on Stealth, as that can ruin your sneaky plans.
Shield – A shield gives a +2 bonus to AC and weighs 6 lbs./2,7kg.
A shield provides you with some extra AC early on, so try using it with a one-handed weapon or with your natural weapons.
Path of the Beast Barbarian Multiclassing
There are a few Beast Barbarian multiclassing options, but the Monk and Fighter stand out.
Note: Both these classes have negative aspects when related to the Beast Barbarian, but there are workarounds and playstyles that can make these multiclassing options work.
Multiclassing into a Fighter means you’ll get access to the Action Surge; however, there might be some conflict (depending on your DM) as Beast Barbarians also get a bonus attack when using their claws.
There are various archetype choices, like the Champion for increased Brutal Criticals or the Banneret for its defensive playstyle.
Multiclassing into a Monk is a bit more complicated, as you’ll be limited to Monk weapons and be unable to use armor or a shield. In the early stages, your AC will suffer, but the increase in damage you’ll get from using a two-handed spear and attacking twice evens things out.
Subclasses like the Long Death or Mercy would be your best options if you multiclass up to level 3.
Path of the Beast Barbarian 5e FAQs
What Is the Tail Reaction for the Path of the Beast Barbarian in 5e?
When you have grown a tail, it will act as a weapon and a shield (for one attack).
If a creature within 10 feet of you makes an attack roll, you can use your reaction, swiping your tail and rolling a d8. The number rolled with the d8 will act as a bonus to your AC and may prevent the attack from hitting you with your AC is now high enough.
Unfortunately, the tail will only block one attack, unlike the Shield spell.
How Many Attacks Can Path of the Beast Barbarians Make in 5e?
When you choose to grow claws as a Beast Barbarian, it mentions that for each of your turns, you have one additional attack when using the Attack action.
That means you attack twice but only use one Attack action.
The Beast Barbarian isn’t seen as overly popular or powerful as the Totem Warrior or the Ancestral Guardian, but it isn’t as bad as the Battlerager or Berserker.
Beast Barbarians are slightly above average, as they boast a lycanthrope-esk feel and have a pretty exciting way of choosing natural weapons using body transformation.
Even though the subclass isn’t as powerful as others, it has high adaptability and relies on thought-over choices made by the character to adapt to their situation.
All-in-all, the Beast Barbarian isn’t a bad choice when looking at a subclass, and it’s an exciting way to become a budget lycanthrope.
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