D&D 5e: Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian Guide

A male human flies through the air with his storm herald barbarian abilities

D&D 5e: Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian Guide

Role in the Party

This is a super fun and customizable class, the Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian is a powerful fighter forged from extreme environments. This subclass is a great complement to a party of druids and rangers or can balance out a more skill-and-spell-leaning party. With features that do extra damage, provide healing, and debuff enemies, a Storm Herald Barbarian is a monster in melee range. 

The Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian subclass is found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Click here to pick up your own copy of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything!

Path of the Storm Herald Features

Storm Aura

The Storm Aura feature brings a lot of flavor to a Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian’s rage. With this feature, going into a rage activates one of three environmental auras (which you can change any time you gain a Barbarian level). Depending on which environment you choose (desert, sea, or tundra), you can either deal additional damage to your enemies or dole out temporary hit points to your allies. And while the damage and temporary hp are small, to begin with, it does increase as you gain levels. On top of that, as long as you’ve got rages to burn, you don’t have to wait for a short or long rest to use the feature multiple times in a battle; the aura can be reactivated with an easy-peasy bonus action.

 Storm Soul

The Path of the Storm Herald Storm Soul feature offers one super solid benefit as well as two good options that are only limited by the fact that they will likely be campaign specific. Again, this feature has you choose options based on your Storm Aura’s environment. The desert environment option gives your barbarian resistance to fire damage which is a great thing to have in any campaign considering fire is the most common type of spell damage; 13.5% of all spells that do damage do fire damage. You can also light flammable objects on fire with your touch.  

 If you’re playing in a watery setting or a cold climate campaign, the other options are sure to benefit you well. The choice of sea environment offers resistance to lightning damage, underwater breathing, and a swimming speed of 30 feet. The tundra environment, on the other hand, gives your Storm Herald Barbarian resistance to cold damage and tolerance to extreme cold. You can also become your group’s very own ice maker, with the ability to turn a 5-foot cube of water into ice. No more tepid beverages for your teammates!

Shielding Storm
Like all the Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian features, this one has options based on the environment you choose and extends the protective damage resistance from your Storm Soul feature to anyone within your Storm Aura (10 feet around in every direction). In some cases, this option could be very useful, but the reason this feature gets a lower ranking is that it could easily put your party in danger. To gain the benefit, each creature must remain within your aura; they can’t just pop in, get boosted, and split. Therefore, clumping together to gain this benefit could put your group in harm’s way of an AoE spell or a dragon’s breath weapon.

Raging Storm
The Raging Storm feature offers good damage boosting and debuffing options that depend, again, on your Storm Aura environment. You can use a reaction to deal extra fire damage (desert) or knock a creature prone (sea), or you can freeze a creature within your aura, reducing their speed to 0. With this feature, any enemy around you is going to have a mighty difficult time either staying up or getting away from your rageful presence.


Strengths

The Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian subclass offers several damage-dealing, buffing, and debuffing features that will make your character an even stronger melee fighter and a useful ally to any group. This subclass could be especially interesting to play in a cold climate setting like the one in Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frost Maiden or a sea-faring campaign like Ghosts of Saltmarsh.

Weaknesses

The main issue I see with this class is its customizability. Not only do you have three different environment-based options for each subclass feature you gain, but you can also switch up your environment every time you gain a barbarian level. And while some players love to have a load of options to customize their character, if you’re looking for a barbarian who has set features that you don’t have to think too much about, this class might not be for you.

Best Race Options

Aasimar – In addition to the damage resistances provided by Rage and the Storm Soul feature, you’ll gain two additional resistances to necrotic and radiant damage and a healing capability, making you truly tanky. Plus, with the Celestial Revelation feature gained at third level, you’ll be able to do even more damage on your turns. Talk about an angelic beast.

Eladrin – Fey Ancestry, the trait which gives you advantage to avoid or end the charmed condition, is quite helpful for Barbarians, who aren’t well known for their mental prowess. Additionally, you’ll gain teleporting abilities with Fey Step, and this feature will also provide a debuffing or extra damage-dealing option at third level.

Choosing the Right Skills

Athletics – There are no skills based on Constitution and Athletics is the only Strength-based skill in the game (unless your DM allows you to use Strength for Intimidation). This skill is a must pick.

Perception – This skill will be used on the reg in any campaign and is, therefore, hugely important. Plus, as a Barbarian who is attuned to the sound and weather patterns of various environments, this skill makes sense in terms of roleplaying, too. 

Fitting Feats

Durable – Any boost to Constitution is good for a Barbarian, and the minimum limitation on what you can roll to regain points with your hit die is useful for recovering after a tough battle.

Great Weapon Master – The classic Barbarian feat. This feat allows you to do better what you already do well: hit things often and hard.

Sentinel – Stopping an enemy in their tracks with an opportunity attack could be the difference between defeating the BBEG or letting them get away.

Optimal Backgrounds

Sailor – A fitting background if you’re in a water-based setting and plan to make use of the sea environment afforded by the Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian subclass. It offers two Barbarian proficiencies plus proficiency with navigator’s tools and water vehicles, and you can gain free passage on sailing vessels for yourself and your companions.

Folk Hero – This background also offers two Barbarian skill proficiencies, as well as proficiency with one type of artisan’s tools and land vehicles. On top of that, the commoners will have your back.

Multiclassing Options

Rogue – Taking just one level of Rogue can offer some perky perks for a Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian. You’ll gain access to Sneak Attack which will make your already painful blows that much more painful, and you get expertise in two skill proficiencies (or one skill and thieves’ tools). Expertise is especially useful for Barbarians whose highest stats (often Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity) have only four skills between them. It’s not super useful to take a second level as you’ll likely want to use your Storm Aura ability with your bonus action instead of Cunning Action, but if you’re gunning to gain another archetype, Assassin would make you mighty deadly.

Would I recommend playing a Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian?

If you want a Barbarian who truly vibes with the natural world, and you like having several customization options, then you’ll have a ton of fun playing a Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian. They not only have the potential to deal an unbelievable amount of damage on a single turn, but they also possess decent debuffs, extra resistances, and healing abilities that can help keep themselves and their party standing.

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