Hello adventurers! Welcome to my spellbook and thank you so much for checking out the first of our barbarian subclasses or paths as they call them. The first path we’re going to be talking about is path of the ancestral guardian and i gotta say this is currently it’s my favorite class. However take that with a grain of or favorite subclass rather, but take that with a grin of salt. I’ve never actually played the barbarian before, i’m always a spellslinger. In any case just the sheer role play opportunities for this subclass alone.
Make it so tempting, but mechanically man this is a good sub class. Within the first couple levels it dramatically helps with the stickiness problem that a lot of barbarians run into, if you don’t know what i’m talking about barbarians especially as they start to outclass other party members.
DMs will tend to avoid them in combat having enemies leave them in favor of the weaker party members, however this has a very interesting way to prevent that from happening so without further ado, let me introduce you to a path of the ancestral guardian, found in xanathar’s guide to everything in case you were curious, let’s just take a quick look at their chart here.
|6th||Spirit Shield (2d6)|
|10th||Consult the spirits, Spirit Shield (3d6)|
|14th||vengeful ancestors, spirit shield (4d6)|
So at third level you gain access to ancestral protectors, at sixth level you get access to spirit shield and it is 2d6 at that point at 10th level you get consult the spirits and spirit shield goes up to 3d6 and at 14th level you get vengeful ancestors and spirit shield goes up to 4d6. Very good stuff and no changes past there. Now let’s take a look at the first of the traits you get ancestral protectors.
Table of Contents
Starting at 3rd level your ancestors got your back.
The first target you hit on your turn, has disadvantage when attacking any creature other than you. If that target should hit another creature, that creature gains resistance to the attack. The effect ends early if your rage ends.
Very interesting! This is what i was talking about in relation to the stickiness issue. So essentially the targets are locked on to you more or less. So to simplify it, the first individual you attack on your turn. If they decide to attack anyone else they have to do so with disadvantage and even if they hit anyone else, the person they’re hitting gains resistance to whatever damage they’re doing.
Now this only applies to direct attacks, it doesn’t apply to area of effect so like fireball for example. This really wouldn’t help with because it’s not really targeting a target as so far as they have a role they have to make it’s targeting an area right. So that’s one thing and in terms of ways to role play this or thematically infuse it.
You could have ghostly specters appear around the person you hit and kind of act as blinders almost or you could have ghostly fog appear in the book it just says they become the target of the warriors, it doesn’t really provide any flavor text there but feel free to do whatever it could even be like voices that get louder as they turn their focus away from you, something like that, something to just explain the disadvantage and when they get hit when an ally gets hit you could have one of the spirits kind of put himself in front of the blow and since they’re not fully physical manifestations, it just slows or acts as a buffer almost between the ally and the damage dealer. I think there’s a lot of ways you can go about it but i do think it is particularly cool! Now let’s move on here.
At sixth level you gain access to spirit shield and that’s where your ancestors have everyone’s back.
So while raging if you see another creature within 30 feet take damage, you can use your reaction to reduce the damage taken and it kind of depends on what level you’re at. So starting at level six it’s 2d6 and it goes up to 3d6 at level 10 then eventually 4d6 at level 14.
This is really impressive, it doesn’t mention a limit anywhere on it, so you can do it once per turn technically or once per round. Which is really, really incredible. Especially if you’re only dealing with one or two enemies right you can essentially negate almost all the damage and if you hit one of the enemies rather and they decide to attack a party member then not only does that party member have resistance but you can also just reduce the damage outright.
It’s just gross man, just gross. Of course as the amount of enemies scales this gets less and less effective. Even if you are able to negate one attack, that’s all you can do for that round right! You only have one reaction for round so that’s it’s biggest limitation but man it’s still so good! Once again this is aimed at kind of solving that stickiness issue. If an enemy notices that every attack they do against an ally of yours, doesn’t really do anything then they’re likely to go to you right!
In terms of ways to describe this you could have do something similar to what i was talking about with the ancestral protectors and having a spirit kind of block the blow for them. Only you can make it so at this point the spirits that are protecting you, they’re a little bit more armored or they’re a little bit more physically realized and they have just more to them overall. But you know let me know what you think down beneath in the comment section of course.
And at 10th level you gain access to consult the spirits your ancestors can now give you advice. Using wisdom as your spellcasting ability, you can: Cast the augury or clairvoyance spell without using a spell slot or material components. You can do this once per short or long rest.
Now we have actually done full articles on each of these spells inpendentently so feel free to check those out. But to give you guys a quick overview augury basically tells you whether or not a plan is a godd or a bad idea and clairvoyance lets you send a sensory object to someone you’re familiar with. And you can use an action to choose between whether or not you’re listening in or reading.
Now it does say in the flavor text that this is a reskinned so rather than a spherical sensor, this use of clairvoyance invisibly summons one of your ancestral spirits to a choosen location. So it is a little different in that regard and i mean feel free to change it up however you want but overall this will really boost your significance to the party in terms of providing a lot of utility.
I’m not a huge fan of the augury spell outright the way it’s worded is it leaves a lot up to interpretation. Once again read my article for that but with proper reskinning and given the context of the subclass re-skinning makes a lot of sense and i really like the fact that this resets at a short rest so you can maintain your usefulness to the party with relatively little worry about resource management, at least with this particular trait. Now let’s move on to the final trait you get with the path of the ancestral guardians. Let’s take a look at vengeful ancestors.
This starts at level 14 and this is where your ancestors start to dish out karma. And not just karma mind you but the best kind of karma. The instant variety of karma. So when you use spirit shield which is that nifty thing you get to use once every round using your reaction.
when you use spirit shield: The attacker takes an amount of force damage equal to the damage that your spirit shield prevents which is 4d6 at level 14.
Needless to say this is pretty tang unbelievable, it’s really neat. I understand that it comes at a relatively high level but i think that’s what makes this so good. So the biggest downside to spirit shield at least at this particular part is it is limited by the amount of damage the creature is doing right!
So what i mean by that is it only dishes out what it takes in. So if it’s not taken in a whole lot it doesn’t dish out a whole lot. It still has, it doesn’t fix the problem as it relates to action economy but at level 14 you are going up against things that routinely deal sizable amounts of damage or at least most parties will be. So this is one of those things that comes in at a perfect time to provide maximum benefit. It’s really nice, really really nice.
And using this along with your extra attack and along with if you have, if you’re dual wielding, you can potentially get four opportunities to deal damage and relatively sizable damage for most of those as well especially level 14 so you know it’s pretty good. Now let’s get to my personal thoughts on it.
If you can’t tell i’m a huge fan of this subclass, it’s one of the ones i would really like to try out in one of my campaigns, sadly my characters never die because they’re all a bunch of cowards so i don’t know if i’ll get an opportunity to anytime in the future.
But if you’ve used the path of the ancestral guardians let me know down beneath. There’s in terms of overall benefit to the party. I think it’s really good! One of your main roles as a barbarian is to be a damaged sponge and attract agro and that’s what leads into the stickiness problem but this deals with that basically right of the gate as soon as you gain access to your paths it’s pretty much non-issue, the only thing you have to really be mindful of is just make sure you’re always hitting the biggest guy.
That way everyone else can kind of deal with the peripheral and don’t have to worry about it and your raging so you have resistance against a bunch of stuff already. So you’re probably good, in terms of downsides with this particular subclass it doesn’t do anything as it relates to magical damage.
Right! So it doesn’t cover all of the barbarian pitfalls but it covers up one of the biggest ones that your party members are going to have to worry about so it’s really neat there and then when you get consult this or even spirit shield it really will prolong everyone’s survivability, consult the spirits will help you add some utility and provide valuable information and then vengeful ancestors will really help cover any damage gaps between the lines and in turn increase the level of stickiness just through virtue of picking off the peripheral quicker right!
The only thing that the party has to be particualrly mindful of is just to stay within the line of sight right and within 30 feet as well! Just to make sure spirit shield activates without a hitch. But outside of all of that good stuff, it’s pretty neat. I don’t want to assign ratings to any of these because i think play style factors in more than anything else.
But this is a very strong choice and most DMs will enjoy this as well. Because they’ll get to role play a bunch of spirits which is likely going to lend itself to some comedic moments and it opens itself up for a lot of multi-classing, specifically as it relates to warlocks which is nice and they also get spells on a short rest, so you can abuse the consult the spears things a little bit more readily.
In any case that’s my personal thoughts on it. Let me know what you think down beneath in the comment section, any ideas, questions, comments, concerns or even stories of your own it’s always much appreciated. With all of that out of the way however i hope you all have a wonderful day and as always happy adventuring.