Here we are with version 3 of the Serpent Spirit variant for the Path of the Totem Warrior for the grappling players. I think this is getting close to being balanced, at least getting there, while fitting into the Totem Warrior theme. Thank you all for taking the time to look at this and provide your input. Please let me know if we finally have a balanced version here. :)

Version one can be found here - Is this homebrew Path of the Totem Warrior for grapplers balanced?

Revision two can be found here - Is this Homebrew Totem Spirit for Grapplers v2.0 balanced?

Path of the Totem Warrior v3.0 (homebrew option for grapplers)

Totem Spirit level 3

Serpent: While raging, you count as one size category larger for the purpose of grapples and you ignore other creature's immunity to the grappled condition. The spirit of the serpent empowers you to entangle any foe.

This alteration basically pulls what I had in the previous versions level 6 spot up to level 3 and removes the original level 3 idea. Being that the level 6 bracket in the Totem spirits is exclusive to out of combat utility, this grapple ability didn’t fit there. Also, this grapple ability I feel is much more necessary than doing damage because it allows those grappling players to be useful in a manner that scales better with the rest of their party.

As pointed out by user Ruse in revision two, this alteration takes into account that the Totem Warrior features are explicitly supernatural and magical. The embodiment of the spirit serpent coils around you with supernatural might. So that Barbarian can grapple that ghost while their rage is fueled with this magic.

Aspect of the Beast level 6

Serpent: You gain the metabolism of a serpent. You only need to eat once a week. Additionally, you can hold your breath for up to one hour.

This alteration went from basically being what is currently in level 3, but that didn’t fit with the none combat theme that the rest of the Totem Spirits give for this level 6 bracket. I went back and forth between having this be a climb and swim buff, but user Viishnahn pointed out the metabolism of a snake, and it made more sense as a serpent doesn’t really climb faster but they can hold their breath for a long time and go a week without eating.

Spirit Walker level 10

Same as RAW.

In previous versions of this I did try to add a Serpent option here, but it was pointed out that if I am to be keeping with the entire theme of the Totem Warrior, then there are no spirit choices here.

Totemic Attunement level 14

Serpent: While you're raging, any creature within 5 feet of you that hits another creature other than you with an attack, you can use your reaction to attempt to grapple it.

This alteration removed the bonus attack and left the reaction. It was also changed to be a reaction only to things other than you getting hit, as to not discourage the barbarian from being the target.

Again, a thank you to everyone that has provided input and helped guide me to making this something fun, usable, but balanced.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Minor wording nit-pick: One doesn't really "gain" the metabolism of a reptile as a mammal, but one can lower their metabolism to the level of a reptile's from their normal level. \$\endgroup\$
    – Viishnahn
    Nov 7, 2018 at 21:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Gotcha, I was just following the word formatting of the PHB, all the spirit descriptions all start out with "You gain the..." \$\endgroup\$
    – Raptor
    Nov 8, 2018 at 11:57

1 Answer 1


Time for playtesting

This appears to be both balanced and sticks to the general structure of the Totem paths.

The only minor feedback I have is that potentially holding your breath for an hour is too long. Double the length you could otherwise would still be a good benefit. The normal length you can hold your breath is (1 + Constitution modifier) minutes.

Go forth and playtest.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Arguably, "hold your breath for an hour" is a ribbon in most campaigns. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Mar 11, 2020 at 16:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden Extremely situational yes. But I can imagine all sorts of Bag of Holding hijinks with this ability. As I said "minor feedback"/ \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Mar 12, 2020 at 0:01

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