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This Sky Barbarian path is loosely based on the Path of the Storm Herald barbarian and the Way of the Four Elements monk. It is designed to give barbarians a way to deal damage on range without sacrificing melee damage but I am worried that it is a bit too powerful in damage.

How does it compare to other barbarian paths in terms of damage?


Sky Barbarian

Saving Throw DC

Some sky barbarian traits require a saving throw. The DC for this is 8 + proficiency + constitution modifier.

Level 3 - Building Charge

While raging you gain the following benefits:

  • You emit a stormy aura, sparking against all enemies within 10 feet when you enter your rage and again at the beginning of each turn for the duration of your rage. Each time this hits an enemy you gain one static electricity point to a maximum of your barbarian level. you lose all your points when you exit your rage.

  • You can use an action and up to half of your maximum static electricity to discharge a bolt of lightning to a creature within 30 feet. the creature must make a dexterity saving throw and take 1d8 lightning damage for each expended point or half as much on a successful save. This counts as attacking for the purposes of continuing your rage.

Level 6 - Fly Like the Wind

You gain a flying speed equal to your movement speed but can't end your turn in the air. Alternatively, you can halve your flying speed to stay in the air until your next turn.

Level 10 - Lightning Strike

When you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack to deal an extra 1d6 lightning damage to the target. When you reach 15th level, the extra damage increases to 2d6.

Level 14 - Electric Discharge

You can use an action to end your rage early and release a blast for its full potential, dealing 1d8 lightning damage for half your max static electricity charges to everyone in 10 feet or half as much on a successful dexterity saving throw. You need at least a fourth of your static electricity charges to use this. You can only use this ability once every long rest. At level 18, you are able to use this ability twice per long rest.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I made a few further changes to the explanation of how the d8 damage works to try and bring the formatting more in line with the phrasing in official materials; feel free to roll back if you feel I'm incorrect. \$\endgroup\$ – Blue Caboose Feb 14 at 16:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ For the "Building Charge", does the Barbarian gain 1 static for each enemy in range, or 1 static per turn if there are any enemies in range? \$\endgroup\$ – Kamil Drakari Feb 14 at 16:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KamilDrakari "Each time this hits an enemy you gain one static electricity point". one for each enemy in range \$\endgroup\$ – darnok Feb 14 at 16:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just sayin' if you want a barbarian to do damage at range you could always hand them a bundle of javelins... No new class required. \$\endgroup\$ – Ethan The Brave Feb 14 at 19:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @András if you have both hands empty, you can draw two more with Dual Wielder. (It's super sub-optimal, though) \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Feb 15 at 14:17
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Is this balanced against original Barbarian paths? No. Not at all.

Let's take this level by level:

Level 3: Building Charge

First off, it's unclear as to how the static points are generated. Is it just if there's an enemy in range? Is it if you strike an enemy in range? Regardless of how the points are gained, at level 3, they can have a maximum of 3 points, meaning they can expend either 1 or 2 points to use an action to shock an enemy. This means they'll likely be taking 1d8 or 2d8 lightning damage, which, at earlier levels, seems on par with default barbarian damage.

However, compared with the level 3 abilities from the Player's Handbook, on pages 49 and 50, we run into an issue that will continue to come up throughout this path: the other abilities tend more towards support abilities than damage. The Berserker gains the ability to go into a frenzy and take an attack on a bonus action, but with the harsh penalty of gaining a point of exhaustion at the end of the rage. The Totem barbarian gains either resistance to more damage, more mobility in combat, or an aura that helps nearby allies.

I think at early levels, this ability might not get used; I'm not great at statistics, so if someone has run the math and can tell me I'm wrong, that's fine, but I believe that for a while, this ability will be worse than the barbarian just attacking normally. Once you start reaching higher levels, this starts to be a lot of d8s of damage that the barbarian can put out. And, notably, this is a magical form of damage, which means that the barbarian will be able to effectively hit monsters that are immune to piercing, slashing, and bludgeoning damage. Whether or not this is unbalanced depends largely on the campaign, but it's worth noting.

Level 6: Fly like the Wind

Meh. Flying is incredibly situational. However, the Totem path doesn't get flying until level 14, so this is still weird. Getting flight at level 6 when most classes can't get it until much later is odd.

Level 10: Lightning Strike

This is similar to the Paladin's "Improved Divine Smite" ability, which is gained at level 11, but also does 1d8 damage as opposed to the 1d6 for Lightning Strike. So, compared to a Paladin, this is okay, but again, it's very different from the PHB options. The Totem path gains the commune with nature spell, and the Berserker gains the ability to inflict the frightened condition, both of which I would classify as "support" abilities, rather than damage dealing ones. This is a decent chunk of extra damage, and at level 15, it'll actually outpace the Paladin's Divine Smite.

Level 14: Electric Discharge

Absolutely not. At level 14, this is 7d8 lightning damage to everyone nearby. At level 20, it's 10d8 lightning damage to everyone nearby, in addition to the fact that at level 20, you have unlimited rages. AOE damage is an enormous gamechanger; there's a reason that AOE damage is pretty rare. Having it be once per long rest helps, but it still doesn't bring this on par with the other Barbarian options at level 14. Again, they don't add damage to the class, but rather tactical and supporting abilities. This is the appropriate level for flight, for example, in the PHB.

Finally, regarding intent:

You say your goal is to have the barbarian be able to do damage at range, but I don't think this will work well for that. The Stormy Aura requires lots of targets within 10 feet in order to charge up points, which I wouldn't consider as being at range. Additionally, the point of the Barbarian is to be in melee. That's why they have such high constitution: they're the front line tanky people who stand there and get hit so that the squishy rogues and wizards can toss daggers and spells around without fear.

I think this is a really cool concept, but I think it's weirdly balanced throughout levels. Compared to the original barbarian paths, the extra damage output of this is just too much, especially when the barbarian paths contain primarily support abilities, and the few abilities (like frenzied rage) that grant extra damage come at a high price.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The level 3 ability seems to be on approximately the same levelof expected damage at level 4 depending on the weapon used as an normal attack, possibly even better. Let's assume a 50% chance of hitting the target and a 50% chance of the target making the save.Weapon(Greatsword/STR +3/ rage): \$E = 0.5 (7+5) + 7 / 20 = 6.35\$ Weapon(Longsword/STR +3/ rage): \$E = 0.5 (4.5+5) + 4.5 / 20 = 4.975\$ Feature:\$0.5 \cdot 9 + 0.5 \cdot (9/2 - 1/4)= 4.5 + 2.25 - 0.125 = 6.125\$ The bad thing about this is that it becomes less useful at higher levels.Level5 doubles the exp weapon damage of the barbarian \$\endgroup\$ – fabian Feb 14 at 19:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also it may be noteworthy that the long time the feature requires to charge up decreases it's usefulness: By the time a level 20 barbarian has accumulated enough charges to trigger the level 14 ability, it's the 5th round of the combat and by that time the minions this feat would be most useful against are likely to already be dispatched with an AOE spell of a caster. (I agree with the analysis in general though.) \$\endgroup\$ – fabian Feb 14 at 19:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fabian Aah, thank you for the numbers! This was my general impression as well, although I think I expressed it poorly-- this class varies wildly in power between levels, and depends on a whole host of things. Truthfully, I'm not sure if it does overall a ton more damage or a ton less damage than normal barbarians, but it definitely doesn't seem to line up one way or another. \$\endgroup\$ – Blue Caboose Feb 14 at 21:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ -1: great points, wrong conclusion. Electric charges mostly accumulate too slowly to matter. If you have 7 enemies in range, you will get mown down before you could discharge it. Lightning Strike is the only really powerful feature, but it is far from overpowered. \$\endgroup\$ – András Feb 15 at 11:01
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Not balanced and falls apart from its intent.

I agree with Cooper's answer. From a roleplay perspective, barbarians are supposed to be the bruiser, charging in and tanking and dealing massive dps, but being very limited when out of its comfort zone. If you're trying to undermine one of the central weaknesses of the barbarian class, you need to be very careful about equivalent nerfing.

AoE is very useful because it damages creatures regardless of visibility, stealth, illusions, etc. It bypasses AC and punishes anyone with a low dexterity. I'd say if you wanted to balance this, I'd change it to "Use 1/4 of your maximum static charges, dealing 1d6 damage per static expended, and targeting one creature per static expended. You gain a point of exhaustion and the rage ends." This limits when you can use it, but also limits the amount you can use. A level 20 person can make a 5d6 attack against 5 creatures.

Wouldn't it make more sense to build a way for sky barbarians to close the distance? Instead of building range attacks based on very specific situations where you're surrounded by enemies, think about increasing movement speed so the barb can get in the face of the puny coward magic user hiding 60 feet back.

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Strange options, but not overpowered

Building Charge

Even on level 20, when you can rage as often as you want, each rage ends after 10 rounds. This basically means you start each encounter with 0 points.
Encounters usually last up to 3 rounds, so unless you play the zombie apocalypse1, you will not use this option, as it will do significantly less damage than your attacks.

I would probably make it 60 feet, the theme is supposed to be range.

Fly Like the Wind

As Cooper said, meh. Fits nicely with Aspect of the Beast, as in neither makes you more powerful.

Lightning Strike

The only feature that looks really attractive to me.
It could even make two-weapon fighting viable after level 4. No mean feat.

Electric Discharge

Once per day seems few, but it is highly unlikely you can collect enough charges more often anyway. Small range, mediocre damage4, party unfriendly. Pass.

Conclusion

Lightning Strike is good, but everything else is niche at best.


1) Lots of enemies around you, but not dangerous.
2) On 14th level when you get it, a 4th level Fireball deals the exact same damage.

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