Hello barbarians! Welcome to my spellbook and thank you so much for checking out the fifth episode of our barbarian subclass series. Today we have a really interesting barbarian in store for us, one of my personal favorites although one that i don’t see getting played in nearly as much as i think it should. Although i’m sure there’s a handful of reasons for that. We’re going over a path of the storm herald which was released in xanathar’s guide to everything.
This subclass is a little unique because it actually plays around with lesser known and at the very least rarely applied rules so i feel like the usefulness of this barbarian hinges at least slightly on that but i will get into that in a little bit here. In any case let’s dive right in by first going over a quick breakdown of their levels here.
Starting at third level you’ll gain access to storm aura, at level six storm soul, at level 10 shielding storm and at level 14 raging storm. So it’s pretty standard in terms of the average barbarian subclass breakdown. Now let’s move on to storm aura.
Starting at 3rd level you emanate a magical aura while raging. Enter rage and an aura extends 10 feet from you: Your aura has an effect that activates when you enter your rage and you can activate the effect again on each of your turns as a bonus action. Choose desert, sea or tundra. Your aura’s effect depends on that chosen environment as detailed below or in our case across, you can change your environment choice whenever you gain a level in this class. If your aura’s effects require a saving throw, the DC equal 8 plus your proficiency bonus plus your constitution modifier.
Your whole class or subclass rather hinges on your storm aura. So you’re gonna want to make damn sure you know what it is inside and out, you can change it everytime you level which is pretty nice and the fact that it uses your constitution modifier is also great as well. Now let’s move on to what those options are and how to use them.
When this effect is activated, all other creatures in your aura take two fire damage each. The damage increases when you reach certain levels in this class, increasing to 3 at 5th level, 4 at 10th level, 5 at 15th level and 6 at 20th level.
Something worth going over here, this is a magical effect it is not a magical spell so it can’t be counterspelled or anything like that. Just worth pointing out that of course applies to all of these, their magical effects and magical abilities not magical spells so there is a little bit of distinction to be made there. The main benefit of desert is that it’s just flat damage. It’s also not limited to any real capacity outside of the fact that it has to be within 10 feet of you.
Outside of that as many creatures as you want can really take damage. It’s really quite similar mechanically to the summer eladran’s fey step and they might make an interesting combo on some level. And now let’s move on to the Sea aura.
When this effect is activated, you can choose one other creature you can see in your aura. The target must make a dexterity saving throw. The target takes 1d6 lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The damage increases when you reach certain levels in this class. Increasing to 2d6 at 10th level, 3d6 at 15th level and 4d6 at 20th level.
This is far more focused, it’s not flat damage so there’s that potential to roll higher, it does however require a saving throw. So at the very least at level three for the storm aura, i feel inclined to say the desert is a little bit better than the sea. Although a friendly fire is an issue with desert it’s really not with sea. So i don’t know take it with a grain of salt moving on to tundra now.
When this effect is activated, each creature of your choice in your aura gains 2 temporary hit points. As icy spirits inure it to suffering. The temporary hit points increase when you reach certain levels in this class, increasing to 3 at 5th level, 4 at 10th level, 5 at 15th level, and 6 at 20th level.
It really is an interesting ability thinking about it. It’s not super common to have barbarians that have any real meaningful focus on support. Does tundra you know maybe to some extent especially at early levels, you can treat like damage reduction which is really nice when starting out the game and really with the exception of the path of the ancestral guardians
There aren’t a lot of barbarian abilities in 5E that are remotely support. So it’s kind of nice for that regards. Now let’s move on to storm soul.
Starting at 6th level your aura bends the world around you. The storm grants you benefits even when your aura isn’t active. The benefits are based on the environment you chose for your storm aura.
Once again everything kind of hinges on that you can change it up as you level. This is really just worth reading ahead, that’s the long and short of this subclass. Now let’s get into the individual examples and what they do.
For desert you gain resistance to fire damage and you don’t suffer the effects of extreme heat. Moreover, as an action, you can touch a flammable object that isn’t being worn or carried by anyone else and set it on fire.
This is kind of what i was talking about at the very beginning of this article, i’d haven’t seen any games outside of adventures league where extreme heat and extreme cold even factor in and even to say they happened in adventures league is kind of only half true. I’m the only DM i’m aware of that routinely uess them and i’ve written enough of the one shots for the adventurous league in my area or at the very least co-written enough of them where they are included in there.
But i feel like if i didn’t do that like legitimately no one would use them. I might be kind of blowing that out of proportion a little bit but it’s honestly how i feel. If you’re not super familiar extreme heat and extreme cold they impose a levels of exhaustion on characters and they’re tucked away in the DMG in chapter 5. Once again i don’t they’re kind of just pushed out to the side so i see why a lot of people overlook them, but it is a thing.
So for extreme heat when the temparature is at or above 100 degrees fahrenheit, a creature exposed to the heat without access to drinkable water must succeed on a constitution saving throughout the end of each hour or gain one level of exhaustion. The DC is a five for the first hour and increases by one for each additional hour. Creatures wearing medium or heavy armor or who are clad in heavy clothing have disadvantage on the saving throw.
Creatures with resistance or immunity to fire automatically succeed on the saving throw as do creatures naturally adapted to hot climates. Needless to say, unless you’re in desert campaigns it’s not really going to come up. But if you are in desert campaigns it’s something you should be very familiar with as a DM or even as a payer. Now let’s move on to sea.
You gain resistance to lightning damage and you can breathe underwater. You also gain a swimming speed of 30 feet.
This is one of the more useful ones in terms of a day to day adventure. Breathing underwater is really nice in any game especially when it’s an ability that’s not commonly found in a lot of races. I only think there are maybe two or three races in 5E including subraces that have real water breathing. A handful of the races can just hold their breath for a while and you know what to be fair drowning in 5e is pretty damn hard but just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible so hedge your bets. Now moving on to tundra.
You gain resistance to cold damage and you don’t suffer the effects of extreme cold. Moreover, as an action, you can touch water and turn a 5-foot cube of it into ice, which melts after 1 minute, this action fails if a creature is in the cube.
I really like tundra it’s probably my favorite at this particular point. Tundra in general is kind of meh to be honest i think overall desert is probably the best choice across the board. However for storm soul, tundra takes my heart away and i am a little bit biased simply because of shape water, but there’s a lot of cool stuff you could do with that cube of ice including just stopping people from drowning by giving them something to hold on to or making a makeshift vessel or even causing one to tank.
Who knows there’s a lot of cool stuff you can do. Now let’s look at extreme cold because i’m assuming a lot of people aren’t gonna know about it, it’s a little bit simpler than extreme heat. Whenever the temparature is at or below zero degrees fahrenheit, a creature exposed to the cold must succeed on a dc10 constitution saving throw at the end of each hour or gain one level of exhaustion.
Creatures with resistance or immunity to cold damage automatically succeed on the saving throw as do creatures wearing cold weather gear sit thick clothes, gloves and the like and the creatures naturally adapted to cold climates. So if you remember with extreme heat it starts at five and it increases by one for each hour, extreme cold just gives you a flat decent DC of 10 to beat, so it’s a little bit simpler for that way. Now let’s move on here to your 10th level feature shielding storm.
Starting at 10th level your storm reaches out to others. While a creature is within your aura. Each creature of your choice has the damage resistance you gained from the storm soul feature. So if you were listening carefully to what i was talking about earlier in relation to the extreme weather effects. If you have resistance to it, you’re not affected by it so through extension both the desert and the tundra loan your immunity to the extreme heat effects to your party members. Which is super nice like really really nice.
It’s not directly support at least not by most definitions but it’s enough to help all your party members and potentially save their lives in certain situations. Now let’s move on to your 14th level ability.
You gain a raging storm, starting at level 14…your storm lashes out at your foes. The power of the storm you channel grows mightier. The effect is based on the environment you chose for your storm aura.
All the way back when you got access to them at level three. Now let’s check out the storm auras and what they do.
For the desert aura….immediately after a creature in your aura hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to force that creature to make a dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature takes fire damage equal to half your barbarian level.
Which is at least seven at this point. Overall it’s quite nice, it’s guaranteed flat damage so you don’t need to worry about rolling poorly at all. Pretty cool! Now let’s move on to the sea.
When you hit a creature in your aura with an attack, you can use your reaction to force that creature to make a strength saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is knocked prone, as if struck by a wave.
I really like this, this actually lends itself to solving a couple of barbarian problems..namely stickiness to an extent battlefield control as well. If a creature is prone they can only move at half speed and it takes half their speed to stand up if you decide to go about it that way. As a direct result of that…they’re not going to be able to get away from you as fast so you can chase them down and pretty easy. So pseudo stickiness but still stickiness nonetheless. Now moving on to tundra.
Whenever the effect of your storm aura is activated, you can choose one creature you can see in the aura. That creature must succeed on a strength saving throw, or its speed is reduced to zero until the start of your next turn as magical frost covers it.
Now this is just straight up stickiness…i’m sorry they can’t get away from you sucks to suck guys. But you’re stuck face-to-face with a raging barbarian. In terms of what’s better between sea and tundra man it kind of depends. If a creature is knocked prone you have advantage on melee attacks against it, however if you have a poor ally who is doing ranged attacks they have disadvantage so.
Kind of comes down to party composition, overall man i don’t know it’s hard for me to say for sure. I feel like tundra has the overall benefit just because reducing it to zero outright is fantastic. Where is knocking prone if they have an extremely high movement pool it’s not going to be a big deal one way or the other. Kind of depends circumstantially…deserts the only one that deals damage though so take from that what you will. Now let’s move on to my personal thoughts here.
Overall, i really like it. I think it’s cool…i think it provides a decent amount of flexibility for the barbarian class as a whole and seeing as how they don’t get access to things like spells, i think they’re in need of that. However since tasha’s cauldron of everythingwas released and it came out with path of the beast. I can’t call them the most flexible barbarian subclass, although if you’re excluding tasha’s they’re certainly up there.
To gain the full benefit of this subclass however i feel like you really need to talk with your dungeon master about the likelihood of you running into those more dangerous and extreme settings. Outside of that however i think it’s fine..i wouldn’t consider it game breaking by any means. There’s not a whole lot of ways you can cheese the subclass or exploit it and there aren’t any obvious multi-class options that come to my mind that would synergize with the path of the storm herald in particular.
However a positive to this subclass that i can’t say for all of them, is this subclass gives you something to do with all of your resources, whether it’s your action, your bonus action or your reaction and i think that’s something that’s not the same for a lot of the other barbarian subclasses so i suppose it does have that going forward as well.
That being said, let me know what you think of the path of the storm herald down beneath in the comments section. Be sure to mention any thoughts, questions, comments or concerns you have regarding it and as always i hope you all have a great day and of course happy adventuring.