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The Path of the Unleashed Barbarian subclass focuses on engaging multiple hostile creatures in melee combat at the same time.
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I will note that this has had very little playtesting done. So, think of it as the same as Unearthed Arcana; it’s in constant playtesting. If I find something’s too weak or too strong, I’ll update it. And, if you decide to use this in your game and find something wonky, please let me know. I’d really appreciate it!
Barbarian Homebrew Subclass: Path of the Unleashed Overview
I’ll be honest with you, this is a combat-focused subclass. Being my first homebrew Barbarian subclass, I felt leaning into the fact that the base class prioritizes combat meant angling the Path of the Unleashed around that made sense.
That said, I did make the combat focus a bit more specific.
The main focus of the Path of the Unleashed is to engage with as many hostile creatures as possible in melee combat. Many of the subclass features grant you bonuses to attack or damage based on whether you have multiple enemies within five feet of you. Or, you’ll get a bonus equal to the number of hostile creature adjacent to your character.
So, the Path of the Unleashed plays into the Barbarian filling Tank role in the party. Engaging multiple enemies and separating them from their allies.
Finally, the inspiration for this class actually came from a Canadian power metal band, Unleash the Archers. Specifically, their song Ten Thousand Against One. Each of feature in the Path of the Unleashed is a song from the band’s discography. So, I’ll include a link to the song at the end of each section.
Let’s go over each of the class features.
The 3rd level feature, Destroyer, boosts your Barbarian’s attack rolls.
Once per turn, you may add a number equal to the number of hostile creatures within 5 feet of you to a single attack roll you make with a melee weapon, up to your Strength modifier (minimum of +1).
Originally, I had it just give a flat +1 based on the number of hostile creatures within five feet of your character. But, that felt way too strong. You’d basically get a +1 no matter what in melee combat. So, I changed it to only one attack per turn.
Now, notice it says "Once per turn…." Technically, this could let you use this feature twice per turn; once on your turn and once on an enemy’s turn as your reaction.
I’m honestly still on the fence about changing the wording to "Once on your turn…." But, I think it’s a bit more interesting this way. If it’s too strong, I’ll probably end up changing it.
Namesake Song: Destroyer
Going Down Fighting
The next subclass feature for the Path of the Unleashed is a retaliation attack.
When you take damage from a hostile creature’s melee attack while raging and have half or less than half of your maximum hit points, you may use your reaction to make one melee weapon attack targeting that creature.
Now, I know there’re quite a few caveats to using this feature. First, you need to take a hit from a melee attack (not exclusively a melee weapon attack). And, you need to have half or less-than-half of your hit point maximum. So, you probably won’t make this attack often.
That said, combined with the Destroyer which let’s you buff one melee weapon attack per turn, you have a better chance of connecting with this opportunity attack.
The theming behind this class feature is your Barbarian is beaten down and staring down death (or unconsciousness). But, as they take more damage, they get angrier and angrier before striking out in an attempt to bring an enemy down with them.
Namesake Song: Going Down Fighting
The 10th level subclass feature for the Path of the Unleashed gives you another use of your reaction and buffs your defenses.
Creatures that move within 5 feet of you provoke an opportunity attack. When you hit a creature with an opportunity attack, halve that creature’s movement speed until the end of your next turn.
Your AC increases by +1 if 2 or more hostile creatures are within 5 feet of you.
This feature plays even more into playing a Barbarian as a Tank.
The main tactical idea behind this feature is to separate your enemies and your allies. One enemy, should they take a hit from your opportunity attack, loses half their total speed meaning they’ll have a harder time reaching your allies on that turn. And, your bonus to AC means your character becomes a bit safer when engaging multiple foes in melee combat.
Basically, you contribute more to the survivability of both your team and yourself.
Namesake Song: False Walls
Ten Thousand Against One
The last subclass feature for the Path of the Unleashed boosts your damage and your ability to strike down multiple enemies.
For each creature within 5 feet of you, your damage rolls from melee weapon attacks increase by +1, up to your Strength modifier (minimum of +1).
As an action, you may make a melee weapon attack against a number of creatures equal to your Strength modifier within 5 feet of you. Make a separate attack roll for each target.
This is the big one.
If you’re playing with a grid, your Barbarian could get a potential +5 (or more depending on your level) to damage with melee weapon attacks. Compounded with the Rage bonus damage, you’re dishing out loads of damage with each strike. The tradeoff is you lose +1 once you drop below the prerequisite number of adjacent enemies.
I’m gonna be honest, this one seems very strong. So much so that I almost changed it before writing this post. If any of the features change, it’ll probably be this one. But, since most games rarely make it past 10th level, I’m willing to leave it for now and release an update later.
The second part of this feature is just a way to clear out a group of enemies next to your Barbarian. It’s another incentive to engage as many foes as possible in melee combat.
Now, since the multi-attack uses your action, you can’t use it with Extra Attack. You’re not technically taking the Attack action for this action. And, it doesn’t qualify as a special attack like how Grappling in 5e does.
That said, it still benefits from the previous bonuses to attack and damage rolls granted by the Path of the Unleashed.
Namesake Song: Ten Thousand Against One
That’s it for the Path of the Unleashed Barbarian.
I know it’s a heavy-combat based subclass. In my defense, the Barbarian class on a whole is combat focused.
If you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it! Leave a comment with your thoughts or if you try it out in your game.