When building a barbarian Path of the Beast in DnD 5e, consider the following:
- Try a mountain dwarf or lizardfolk variant
- Build a primal hunter/warrior with basic barbarian class
- Use barbarian class features with Path of the Beast
- Lean into Path of the Beast shapeshifting abilities
- Utilize higher-level barbarian traits
Infused with primal power, rage and shapeshifting anatomy, the barbarian on the Path of the Beast is a ferocious warrior in DnD 5e. Introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, this melee thrasher takes the wild nature of barbarians and cranks it up to 11. I have to admit, this feels right in line with berserker characters who want to tap into that old-school were-beast style of combat.
If you’d like a premade campaign to play your Barbarian character, check out my pirate adventure below.
Try a mountain dwarf or lizard folk variant
As a mountain dwarf, I could play a primal barbarian like Wolverine from X-men. Short, stocky and armed with claws, this character would receive a +2 Constitution/+2 Strength bonus combination. In fact, mountain dwarves make some of the toughest brawlers, gaining resistance to poison damage alongside a high Constitution score.
Lizardfolk are nearly perfect for this ferocious build, adding a +2 Constitution/+1 Wisdom bonus with Natural Armor, Bite and Hungry Jaws. I’ll choose the tail weapon for my mutation to complement my Hungry Jaws ability, which gives me a bonus Bite attack. On top of all this, lizardfolk are naturally gifted at carving weapons from bones, sticks and rocks. This gives me opportunities to build weapons like javelins as I need them.
Build a primal hunter/warrior with basic barbarian class
As a barbarian, I get a few perks with my background—including the infamous Rage ability.
First, I’ll set my character up with 2 hand axes and a few javelins. Because I’ll have natural weapons, the need for a greataxe or Warhammer is lessoned. However, I’ll want basic weapons on hand for when I’m not raging. Also, I’ll pick Athletics and Animal Handling as proficient skills.
I’ll gain the ability to Rage 2 times a day off the rip. While I’m in a state of Rage, I gain 3 abilities:
- I have advantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws
- Gain extra damage with weapon strikes using Strength—starting at 2 and raising as I level
- I gain resistance to bludgeoning, slashing and piercing damage
My Unarmored Defense gives me an AC of 10 + Dexterity modifier + Constitution modifier.
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At level 2, I can perform a Reckless Attack, giving me advantage on attack rolls against opponents. Of course, the reckless nature of this attack gives my enemies advantage against me. However, my barbarian welcomes attacks—especially while in a Rage. Plus, I’ll have a few tricks up my sleeve to counter attacks with this build.
Level 2 also grants me Danger Sense, which gives me advantage on Dexterity saving throws. This works for traps, spells and other effects. However, I’ll need to be able to see the effect for my advantage to happen. I can’t pull this off if I’m deafened, blinded or incapacitated.
Use barbarian class features with Path of the Beast
The Path of the Beast places a primal spark in my soul, giving me the ability to mutate. Now that I’ve built out a naked berserker, I can have fun with my bestial abilities.
Form of the Beast is my first ability, transforming my body into my choice 3 different weapon options.
- Bite: my mouth turns into a beast’s maw, full of sharp teeth or even mandibles. I deal 1d8 + Strength damage and take a chunk out of my foe. If I have less than half my HP left, this gives me HP equal to my proficiency bonus.
- Claws: Each hand turns into clawed 1d6 weapons (thus my mountain dwarf Wolverine example). Once per turn, I can make an extra attack with my other clawed hand.
- Tail: I grow a long, whip-like tail that deals 1d8 piercing damage with the reach property. If a creature I can see within 10 feet hits me with an attack roll, I can roll 1d8 and add it to my AC. Tail-slapping barbarian Rage is perfect for my lizardfolk option.
Bestial Soul gives me more features at level 6. Now, my natural weapons count as magic for damage purposes. Plus, I can adapt my physical shape to survive different environments, choosing one of these options between rests:
- I can swim as fast as I walk and breathe underwater
- Climb as fast as I walk, even upside down on ceilings
- Extend a jump the length of a Strength (Athletics) check die roll.
Level 10 and 14 abilities
At level 10, I can hit opponents with Infectious Fury, cursing them on contact. My enemy rolls a Wisdom saving throw, with the DC equaling 8 + Constitution modifier + proficiency or falls under the curse. This ability leans into the werewolf lore, which I’m all for. Now, the creature suffers from one of the following effects.
- Target attacks a creature of my choice
- Target takes 2d12 psychic damage.
Finally, Call the Hunt both increases my HP and benefits my allies with extra damage. Each ally within 30 feet who accepts this gains an extra 1d6 to damage rolls. Plus, I’ll gain 5 temporary HP for each ally involved. I like the synchronicity of this effect—it really pulls the group together in a fun way.
As a bonus, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introduces 2 new barbarian features—Primal Knowledge and Instinctive Pounce
Primal Knowledge gives me extra proficient skills at level 3 and 10 from the barbarian skill list.
Instinctive Pounce allows me to move half my speed as a bonus action when I enter a Rage.
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Utilize higher-level barbarian traits
As my barbarian levels, I’ll have a relatively long list of abilities left to gain.
- Extra Attack (level 5): Take a 2nd attack action.
- Fast Movement (level 5): I can move 10 feet further without wearing armor.
- Feral Instinct (level 7): Advantage on initiative rolls keep me quick on my feet.
- Brutal Critical (level 9): Roll an additional damage die when rolling a critical hit.
- Relentless Rage (level 11): I can potentially keep fighting after falling to 0 HP. I’ll make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw to see if I land on 1 HP or 0. Each time I use this feature makes the DC check 5 harder.
- Persistent Rage (level 15): My rage only ends if I fall unconscious or I choose to end it.
- Indomitable Might (level 18): If the total of a Strength check is less than my Strength score, I can use my Strength score as the roll.
- Primal Champion (level 20): My Strength and Constitution scores increase by 4. Now, they can top out at 24.
To sum up the character
This character is fun to play if you’ve ever wanted to play something like a werewolf. Role playing a wild character can take many forms. Some may be stoic until the rush of battle overtake them. Others, like the lizardfolk, can be played like monstrous hunters. Either way, I enjoy primal characters. They don’t quite fit into society, so it’s easy to roleplay funny social situations.
Plus, the combat and adventure features of shapeshifting are well rounded in this character build. Add in the list of barbarian feats and abilities, and we have an athletic specimen who can rage.