The Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian is known to be one of the easiest subclasses to pick up for newer players. Still, it doesn’t disregard veterans who can use the class’s decision points to build it differently or fit into other roles.
While it’s not the most conventional Barbarian subclass, it has many great features that keep the class exciting and allow players to become powerful if they stay on the right path.
Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian 5e – Features
Unlike other Barbarians, the Storm Herald Barbarian doesn’t channel their rage into physical strength or powerful armor. Instead, they create a rage-filled mantle of pure primal magic to cover their entire body.
In most cases, Storm Herald Barbarians aren’t isolationists as many people think Barbarians are when leaving their tribes. They’re the opposite, often found training alongside Druids, Rangers, or other creatures which have sworn to protect the natural realm from evil.
However, this doesn’t mean they cannot travel alone, as others hone their skills by traveling to the most inhospitable places in the realm.
Choosing the Storm Herald path at level 3 lets you emanate a stormy, magical aura whilst you are raging. Your aura extends 10 from your character in all directions but cannot pass through total cover.
Your aura also has an effect that will activate whenever you rage, and it can also be activated on each of your turns by using a bonus action.
Choose between Desert, Sea, or Tundra. The aura’s effect will depend upon the chosen environment and can be changed whenever you gain a level as a Storm Herald.
If your aura’s effects demand a saving throw, the DC equals 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus.
Desert – When activated, all other creatures in your aura will take 2 Fire damage each. The damage will increase whenever you reach certain levels as a Storm Herald.
Increasing to 3 at the 5th level, 4 at the 10th level, 5 at the 15th level, and 6 at the 20th level.
Sea – When activated, you choose one other creature you see in your aura. The target is forced to make a Dexterity saving throw. The target will take 1d6 Lightning damage on a failed save but only half damage on a successful one.
The damage will increase as you reach certain levels as a Storm Herald. Increasing to 2d6 on the 10th level, 3d6 on the 15th level, and 4d6 on the 20th level.
Tundra – When activated, each creature you choose within your aura will gain 2 temporary HP, as icy spirits inure it to suffering.
The temporary HP will increase when you reach certain levels as a Storm Herald. Increasing to 3 at the 5th level, 4 at the 10th level, 5 at the 15th level, and 6 at the 20th level.
At level 6, your storm grants benefits even when your aura isn’t active. The benefits are based on the chosen environment for your Storm Aura.
Desert – Gain resistance to Fire damage, and be unable to suffer the effects of extreme heat described in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
By using an action, you can touch a flammable object that isn’t being carried or worn and set it on fire.
Sea – Gain resistance to Lightning damage, and be able to breathe underwater. You also gain the ability to swim at a speed of 30 feet.
Tundra – Gain resistance to Cold damage and be unable to suffer the effects of extreme cold described in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
By using an action, you may touch the water and turn a 5-foot cube of the water into ice, melting after 1 minute has passed. If a creature is within the cube, the action will fail.
By level 10, you learn to use your mastery of the storm to protect those around you.
Each creature you choose has damage resistance gained from the Storm Soul feature while the chosen creatures are within your Storm Aura.
Reaching level 14 means the power of the storm you channel grows stronger, lashing out against your enemies.
The effects you receive are based on the environment you choose for your Storm Aura.
Desert – Immediately after being hit by the attack of a creature within your aura, you may use a reaction to force that creature to perform a Dexterity saving throw.
If the save is failed, the creature will take Fire damage equal to half of your Barbarian level.
Sea – When you’ve hit a creature within your aura with an attack, you may use a reaction to force that creature to perform a Strength saving throw.
If the save is failed, the creature will be knocked prone, as if it were struck by a wave.
Tundra – Whenever Storm Aura’s effect is activated, you may choose one creature you can see within your aura.
That creature is forced to succeed on a Strength saving throw, or its speed be reduced to 0 until your next turn starts, as magical frost proceeds to cover it.
Building a Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian
Much like the Path of the Beast and the Path of the Totem Warrior, the Storm Herald Barbarian lets players adapt to different situations with its various environmental auras.
However, the Path of the Storm Herald does stray away from traditional two-weapon fighting, as they rely mainly on their Bonus Actions.
In other words, for Storm Herald Barbarians to function seamlessly, it’s recommended that players use their Bonus Actions carefully and don’t rush when choosing their “Aura Environment.”
Path of the Storm Herald Ability Scores
One of the reasons the Storm Herald Barbarian is so simple is that it doesn’t make use of too many different Ability Scores. Sticking to traditional Barbarian Ability Scores like Constitution, Strength, and Dexterity.
- Strength – Like other Barbarians, the Storm Herald relies heavily on Strength. Most of their important actions, like dealing damage with weapons and Athletics based movements (shove, grapple, climb, lift, and carry), mean they need Strength.
- Constitution – Having high Constitution not only makes you more difficult to kill, but it also benefits your Storm Aura.
You should also consider that the Storm Herald Barbarian loves to get into close-quarters battles, as how else would he be able to use his Aura effectively? Constitution keeps him alive for the strategy to work.
- Dexterity – Whether you wear armor or not, you should always focus on your Dexterity after finishing up with Strength and Constitution.
It won’t only provide extra necessary AC, but it’ll add more AC onto armor if you decide to wear any.
Note: Sometimes, you’ll have to make an Acrobatics (Dex) check or save when grappling/shoving, so don’t forget your Dexterity score.
- Wisdom – While none of your abilities scale with Wisdom, it’s good to note that the most rolled check is the Perception check, which uses Wisdom.
Not only will you have higher rolls on Perception with high Wisdom, but you’ll also have great Passive Perception, which can keep you from falling into an enemy’s trap.
Note: If a character already builds Wisdom in your party, you don’t have to focus too much on Wisdom. Just ensure to get it high enough to not instantly fail Perception checks.
- Charisma – Charisma doesn’t benefit a Storm Herald Barbarian, except if they WANT to use Intimidation (Cha), which isn’t that good in the first place.
It’s better to raise your Charisma to 10 and leave it to another player in your party, so you should instead focus on the abovementioned Ability Scores.
- Intelligence – There’s no need for a Storm Heraldn Barbarian to invest in Intelligence, so don’t bother with it and leave it at its default.
Ideal Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian Races
Since Storm Herald Barbarians mainly need Strength and Constitution, try to choose a race that provides some of these Ability Scores as a racial bonus.
You can even get some races with special features that fit with a Storm Herald’s Aura.
These are a few of the best options for a Storm Herald Barbarian: Half-Orcs, Goliaths, Eladrin, Aasimar (Preferably Scrouge or Fallen subraces), Dwarfs (Mountain or Duergar subrace), and Centaur.
Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian Background and Skills
When you create your Storm Herald Barbarian, understanding which background and skills are relevant to your character is very important.
Your background is an overarching choice, affecting many character aspects, such as the tool proficiencies you receive, the skills you obtain, and how 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 Storm Herald Barbarian are Sailor, Folk Hero, and Soldier.
Note: Backgrounds are helpful if you have a specific build that will benefit from the added proficiencies and features. On the other hand, Backgrounds are also quite personal and can play a significant role in character development, so don’t just go with something because it’s good. Go with what fits your character.
Sailor – is a great background to take on aquatic campaigns, as it gives you proficiency in Navigator’s Tools and a water vehicle (BOATS). It also gives you proficiency in Athletics and Perception skills.
Note: There are so many different backgrounds you can choose from, so don’t only go after the “best” ones if your goal isn’t optimization; go after the background that fits your character best and lets you roleplay.
Folk Hero – gives proficiency in both Animal Handling (Wis) and Survival (Wis), two Barbarian skills that can come in handy at some point (even more so if you have higher Wisdom).
The proficiency with vehicles (land) is also perfect for roleplaying and easy traveling, as you won’t have access to long-distance teleportation magic early on.
Proficiency with Artisan’s tools is a waste, so you’ll only be taking this background for the skills and vehicle proficiency.
Soldier – is similar to Outlander and Folk Hero, providing the character with two Barbarian skill proficiencies and a vehicle (land) proficiency.
The other additions aren’t beneficial, but the skill proficiency and the vehicle (land) proficiency are excellent, as it includes vehicles like carriages, which a party will use a lot when they don’t have teleportation magic.
Soldier is also a great Background if you want to add extra “lore” to your character, which helps both the roleplay and character development aspect.
As a Storm Herald Barbarian, you’ll have access to six skill proficiencies (where you may choose two); Animal Handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Nature, Perception, and Survival.
Out of all the skills, Perception (Wis) and Athletics (Str) will be your most beneficial. Athletics (Str) is often used for grappling, and Perception (Wis) is the most common rolled checks in D&D, so keep that in mind.
Animal Handling (Wis) and Survival (Wis) aren’t all too useful, but given the right circumstances, they can be effective. Just don’t immediately go for them, as they aren’t rolled nearly enough and don’t provide too much benefit.
Intimidation (Cha) should be taken if you obsess over Charisma and don’t have any other character to build it. If not, don’t bother with it.
Nature (Int) can be valuable, but because it uses Intelligence, just ignore it (it’s not worth investing points into Intelligence for only one skill).
Note: Remember that your race, background, and feats can also provide skill proficiencies.
Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian Feats
While Backgrounds can be considered character customization, Feats are essential 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.
Note: The reason Storm Herald Barbarians don’t take Great Weapons Master or Polearm Master is because they rely on Bonus Actions.
Below are four examples of Feats that work well for a Storm Herald Barbarian:
Hitting a Creature using an opportunity attack forces their speed to become 0 for the rest of their turn, and creatures provoke your opportunity attacks even if they take their Disengage action.
Whenever a creature attacks a target other than you (and the target doesn’t already have this feat), you may use a reaction and proceed to perform a melee weapon attack against the creature that’s attacking.
Using an opportunity attack to stop an enemy in their tracks can stop them from getting to your backline or escaping and alerting other enemies.
You become resilient and hardy, gaining the following effects:
- Your Constitution score will increase by 1 to a maximum of 20.
- When rolling a Hit Die to regain HP, the minimum number of HP you can regain is equal to twice your Constitution modifier to a minimum of 2.
Having your Constitution score increased and getting more HP restored when you throw your Hit Die will significantly increase your long-term durability, especially on long adventures.
You can hold your own in close-quarters grappling, gaining the following benefits:
- Advantage on attack rolls against a creature you’re grappling.
- You may use an action to try and pin a creature you’ve grappled. In order to do so, make another grapple check, and if you succeed, you and the creature will both be restrained until the grapple ends.
Note: Strength must be 13 or higher.
Being able to hold a creature in place and deal bonus damage to them can make it easier to kill enemies before they assault your backline.
Gift of the Chromatic Dragon
Chromatic Infusion allows you to use a bonus action and touch a martial or simple weapon, infusing it with one of these damage types: Poison, Lightning, Fire, Cold, or Acid.
For a minute, the weapon now deals an extra 1d4 damage on a hit of the infused damage type. After using this bonus action, you can’t do so again until after finishing a long rest.
Reactive Resistance lets you use your reaction to give yourself resistance to whichever damage you took out of the following types: Poison, Lightning, Fire, Cold, or Acid damage.
The reaction can be used several times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you’ll regain all uses whenever you finish a long rest.
Even though this feat is activated using a Bonus Action, the bonus damage or resistance to certain damage types makes you even more adaptable.
Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian Weapons and Armor
You’ll probably gain enough AC from using a shield in combination with your Dexterity and Constitution, but only at higher levels.
Before that, consider getting yourself cheap armor like Scale Mail since it has an AC of 14 and uses your Dexterity modifier (to a max of 2), so in combination with a shield, it should give you more than enough AC.
Standard two-handed weapons or high-damage one-handed weapons are your go-tos.
Below are six options that can work well with most playstyles of a Storm Herald Barbarian:
Greataxe – Greataxes are heavy weapons that deal 1d12 Slashing damage, weigh 7 lb./3,1 kg., and require two hands to wield.
The Greataxe is considered the gold standard as it uses Brutal Critical, the best of any other weapon, so if you want to be a classic Barbarian, consider it.
Handaxe – Handaxes are light weapons that deal 1d6 Piercing damage, weigh 2 lb./0,9 kg., and can be thrown (20/60).
Having Handaxes means you have a bonus melee weapon, allowing you to engage enemies from range.
You should try getting your Dexterity to 14, then look at having more AC or damage.
If you want more AC, go for a Shield; if you want more damage, go for Scale Mail.
Scale Mail – Has an AC of 14 + Dexterity modifier (maxed at 2), weighing 45 lb./20,4 kg. and giving a disadvantage on Stealth.
Scale Mail gives good AC at only 50 GP, much cheaper than Spiked Armor and a Breastplate.
Shield – A shield gives a +2 bonus to AC and weighs 6 lbs./2,7kg.
A shield provides extra AC early on, so try using it with one-handed weapons.
Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian Multiclassing
As you reach level 5, you might want to multiclass into a different class for a few levels.
Taking at least one level of the Rogue gives you access to Sneak Attack, making your attacks deal way more damage than before. You’ll also get expertise in two skill proficiencies, which is excellent for grapplers.
While it’s not too good to opt into another level, which will mean using your Bonus Action for Cunning Action instead of Storm Aura, and if you want another archetype (at level 3), you can look at Assassin.
Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian 5e FAQs
How Good Is the Storm Herald Barbarian in 5e?
The Storm Herald Barbarian isn’t at the top of the list of subclasses, but it definitely isn’t bad (especially compared to the Berserker or Battlerager subclasses).
You should think of the Storm Herald Barbarian as an average class played well by amateurs but used to its full potential by experienced players.
Does Storm Aura Work While Grappling in 5e?
Yes! If you’ve activated Storm Aura, it doesn’t matter if you grapple with a creature; it will still be affected by whatever aura you emit.
Note: One of the best strategies would be to activate the Desert aura and wrestle with a creature while their HP ticks away!
Storm Herald Barbarians are an iconic option for new and old players, featuring customization and a fun backstory that gives players unparalleled amounts of freedom.
Even though it’s not as complicated as other subclasses, it still has the potential to put out some crazy numbers and, when built correctly, can destroy entire groups of enemies without doing much.
The concept of working together with other “classes” in the natural world is one of my favorites in all of D&D and doesn’t come up often, so be sure to pick the Path of the Storm Herald if you want a more good-focused Barbarian playthrough.
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