View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Barbarian - Spellcasting Primal Path

2015-12-29, 11:47 PM
I'm currently running a game with a wizard, a ranger, and an arcane trickster, and a barbarian. I've had the barbarian's player in my group for 3.5 and Pathfinder games, and he's always stuck strictly to non-casters, but he expressed interest in playing a fire-oriented caster for story purposes. Thus, I made my first attempt at class homebrew - albeit only for a subclass. It uses the same progression of cantrips, spell slots, and spells known as the Eldritch Knight.

Primal Path: Path of the Shaman
Barbarians of the Path of the Shaman tap into fonts of power even more primal than their blood rage. They let the energies of the elements flow through them, burning a swath through their foes with a flaming axe-blade or raising a gale around their allies to keep them safe.

When you reach 3rd level, you tap into the auguries and essences of nature. Se chapter 10 for the general rules of spellcasting and chapter 11 for the druid spell list.
Cantrips. As the Eldritch Knight.
Spell Slots. As the Eldritch Knight.
Spells Known of 1st-Level and Higher. You know three 1st-level druid spells of your choice, two of which you must choose from the evocation and conjuration spells on the druid spell list. Otherwise as the Eldritch Knight, replacing the abjuration restriction with conjuration.
Limited Spell List. You cannot learn the 1st-level spells cure wounds, goodberry, or healing word, or the 2nd-level spell lesser restoration. These spells are not considered to be on your spell list for the purposes of using magic items.
Spellcasting Ability. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for your druid spells, since you obtain your spells through harmony with nature. Otherwise as the Eldritch Knight.
At 3rd level, when you adopt this path, you choose an element and gain an ability tied to it. At your option, you also gain minor manifestations of your element. For example, if you have a fire affinity, your hair or beard may smolder from several small points, or if you have an affinity for earth, you may find rocks and dirt in your clothing no matter how recently you've cleaned them.
Fire. While you're raging, your body is wreathed in flames that lash out at your enemies. When you are hit with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to deal 1d10 fire damage to that enemy.
Water. While you're raging, a coating of ice crystals covers your body, splintering and freezing over again as you move. If you are unarmored, you gain a bonus to AC equal to your Wisdom modifier.
Earth. While you're raging, stone and earth reach up and envelop your legs up to the knees, holding you firmly but not impeding your movement. You have advantage on any check made to resist moving from your space or being knocked prone.
Air. While you're raging, a column of wind swirls around you with the force of a small tornado. All ranged weapon attacks made against you have disadvantage.
At 6th Level, the elements infuse your strikes. Pick one damage type: fire, cold, acid, lightning, or thunder. While you're raging, whenever you succeed on a melee weapon attack, you deal an extra 1d6 of the chosen damage. Each time you finish a long rest, you can change this extra damage to a different type or keep the same type.
Beginning at 10th level, you gain the ability to cast spells while raging.
Beginning at 14th level, you choose an element and gain a special trait connected to it. You can choose the same element you previously selected or a different one.
Fire. You can endure nearly any natural heat. You are not exhausted by extreme heat, and you do not take damage from mundane flames. This does not affect magically created fire or additional fire damage dealt as part of an attack, such as that from a hell hound's bite.
Water. You breathe water as naturally as air. You do not need to hold your breath while underwater. This does not affect your ability to hold your breath in other circumstances, such as when trying to avoid inhaling poisonous gas.
Earth. Gravity seems to shift to keep you upright so long as part of you is touching a surface. You gain a climbing speed equal to half your walking speed and can move along walls with your hands free. If you are knocked prone while walking on an elevated surface or you completely leave contact with it, you fall to the ground.
Air. Eddies of wind carry you aloft, letting you walk on air. You have a flying speed equal to your current walking speed. This benefit only works in short bursts; you fall if you end your turn in the air.

We've played one session with this in effect thus far, and it doesn't seem to have caused any imbalance, not that that's any kind of indicator for the whole. I'd appreciate feedback, particularly if anyone is willing to playtest it. I've only had time to run simulations for myself; the group meets irregularly when it's possible, so we don't have time to step away from the current campaign. My players are fortunately not optimisers or long-term planners, meaning that if it proves imbalanced, there won't be any stress for our poor, beleaguered barbarian.

2015-12-30, 12:40 AM
Spell selection, slots, etc.: It's essentially a straight conversion of Eldritch Knight with only stats and schools changed. No complaints. Removing the healing spells was possibly wise but I don't believe necessary (after all, you can use any spell known with any spell slot, so technically a wizard 19/cleric 1 can cast cure wounds as well as a cleric 20).

Elemental Affinity (Fire): 1d10 is a lot of damage for a reaction, especially at level 3. Consider a lower value, which might scale up as they level.
Elemental Affiinity (Water): Barbarians already get higher armor while unarmored. This will make their armor 10+Dex+Con+Wis. Consider making this a flat bonus of +2 (equivalent of using a shield), or something similar to the Blade Ward cantrip in function instead. You don't specify whether shields count as armor (barbarian unarmored defense doesn't count them, monk does).
Elemental Affinity (Earth): Maybe also advantage on ability checks made to knock others prone? It's pretty niche right now.
Elemental Affinity (Air): Seems about right. If they reckless strike, ranged attacks don't get advantage now, so it still works.

Elemental Affinity (General): I think it would be cool if all of the Elemental Affinities gave the Barbarian something new to do with their reaction. Water could be like Blade Ward (mentioned above), Earth could have an additional effect where it allows the barbarian to attempt to shove as a reaction when someone fails to knock them over, and Air could be like an alternate version of Monk's Deflect Arrows (book isn't in front of me and I forget the actual name).

Primordial Burst: Most extra damage die abilities only occur on the first attack in a round. Barbarians get more than one, so you should phrase it to be only the first time they strike a target. (See: Ranger, Rogue). Consider increasing the die size as they Barbarian levels up.

Wild Adept: It had to be in there somewhere. Level 10 is a good place for it.

Elemental Attunement (Fire): This could be a lot stronger for a level 14 ability. Add resistance to Fire damage and you're still safe (Compare bearbarians).
Elemental Attunement (Earth): Climb speed, no hands, I like it. Unique and gives them a tactical advantage anywhere with a wall. Note: You already climb at half speed with a successful check, so this just allows them to automatically succeed on climb checks (and have both hands free). Consider increasing it to full walking speed.
Elemental Attunement (Water): Swim speed too? They can breath water, but they should be able to move in it. Matches up with Earth and Air this way too.
Elemental Attunement (Air): Balanced and interesting as is in my opinion.

2015-12-30, 03:09 AM
I saw elemental attunement earth and immediately started comparing it with unarmored movement. At level 9, a monk can move along vertical surfaces without falling during the move.
Since this ability comes at 14, it should probably be stronger than that, so I would definitely go with making the climb speed be equal to the walking speed. Maybe also get rid of falling if you get knocked prone.

2015-12-30, 04:30 AM
Thanks for the feedback - this is my first homebrew attempt outside of monsters, which have a built-in feedback system in the DMG. A few things you've mentioned - especially the earth attunement and water attunement swim speed - are very obvious, to the point that I didn't realize they weren't in there already; they're part of the concept I was planning, but since I blindly copied everything (except spellcasting, due to the omissions) from a text document, I didn't realize I hadn't changed them.

The removal of the healing spells was mostly a flavor choice. It wouldn't break anything, but I feel opposed enough to the idea of a barbarian (EDIT: a PURE barbarian) filling the "healer" role that I thought it was worth banning in the mechanics.

As I said, this came from the player's desire to play a barbarian that used fire magic, so I'm especially grateful that you've spotted some potential problems there.

EDIT: According to Mike Mearls on Twitter, you can't cast a spell with somatic components while wielding a two-handed weapon. In my game, I totally ignore this - if you can hold a two-handed weapon in one hand (as you can by RAW) and you can access material components while wielding a one-handed weapon and a shield (as Mearls stated on Twitter), I don't see any reason you can't hold the weapon in one hand, perform the components and grab the materials with the other, and then grab the weapon again. However, apparently this is unclear by RAW and disallowed by the expert, so... thoughts? I personally think it'd be criminal to deprive a barbarian of his greataxe.

ANOTHER EDIT (sorry, I'm scatterbrained and trying to avoid double-posting):
Elemental Affinity (General): I think it would be cool if all of the Elemental Affinities gave the Barbarian something new to do with their reaction. Water could be like Blade Ward (mentioned above), Earth could have an additional effect where it allows the barbarian to attempt to shove as a reaction when someone fails to knock them over, and Air could be like an alternate version of Monk's Deflect Arrows (book isn't in front of me and I forget the actual name). I toyed with the idea of a Deflect Missiles-style ability, but I didn't want to take that from the monk. My big question here is, were I to give each class a reaction ability, would I need to change what they get entirely or tack it on to what's already there and give Fire a persistent bonus? I'm leaning toward reactions only, but as I say again, I've not homebrewed before; I don't quite know how new abilities compare to existing.