Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: Barbarians
The newest official D&D book, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, contains new options for all twelve character classes. All these new options have been getting me thinking about the kind of characters they could make. Here are some ideas for the new barbarian paths.
Path of the Ancestral Guardian
The path of the guardian represents characters from societies who venerate their ancestors. These folk receive assistance from ancestral spirits in battle. I had some thoughts about other ways this character option could be used.
What if, rather than an ancestral spirit, the helpful spirit belong to a deceased mentor (kind of like jedi force ghosts in Star Wars) but with more ability to interfere with the living?
Another way of reflavoring this option could be to describe the character as a creepy kid with an imaginary friend. If you happen to make them angry, you might see just how powerful their imagination is…
Another idea I had was that rather than describing the assistance as coming from spirits of the dead, it could be coming from a friend who is eternally trapped on another plane of existence – perhaps the ethereal plane. The idea would be that the barbarian’s rage comes from the loss of their friend, and briefly allows their exiled companion to intervene across the divide.
The path of the storm herald gives us the option of creating characters whose rage unleashes the raw power of the natural elements. This class option actually has three variations built into it (subsubclasses?) allowing the character to invoke aspects of the desert, sea and tundra. The desert option gives me the impression of an ancient prophet calling down fire to consume his rivals, while the sea option has me imagining a viking wearing a lighting-rod helmet, channeling electricity into her enemies.
Path of the Zealot
The path of the zealot belongs to barbarians who use their rage to unleash the divine power of their gods. If I was using this option, I think I would want to prepare some liturgical verses that my zealot might chant during battle or some scriptures that they might have engraved on their weapons. I’m picturing a barbarian whose religion calls them to oppose the changes being brought by agriculture, commerce and urbanisation.