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A little bit ago, I was exploring my first Barbarians, and noticed that a big, scary Greataxe was nearly always more effective than a Barbarian with two handaxes or even two battleaxes! So, I designed my own Primal Path that makes the rather flavorful dual-wielding Barbarian a good choice: The Path of the Axemaster!

Dual Defense

When you take this path at 3rd level, you gain the Two-Weapon Fighting and Defense Fighting Styles.

I'm really hoping that this bit is balanced as many Barbarians won't be using any armor because of Unarmored Defense. This, of course, is where Two-Weapon Fighting seems a bit more appealing...

Natural Attack

When you choose this path at 3rd level, while you dual-wield, you no longer need to focus on using the weapon in your other hand. When you take the Attack action and are holding a melee weapon in both hands, attacking with the off-hand weapon does not cost you your bonus action.

This one feature might be a tad unbalanced, as it solves the biggest problem for dual-wielders: you use your bonus action! The small chance that this is balanced is the fact that this feature focuses on improving two-weapon fighting rather than granting you different features.

Dual-Wielder

At 6th level, you gain the Dual-Wielder feat.

Ah, simplicity. Normally I would argue against giving a feat as a feature, but this feat basically gets everything I wanted in this feature done anyways.

Spinning Shield

When you reach 10th level, you learn how to shield yourself with your axes. While raging and wielding two axes in your hands, you may choose to twirl the axes, forming a shield of sorts. During your rage, you have +2 to AC.

Roughly balanced by the level you get it at, I hope. Though, this essentially grants the Barbarian a shield...

Then again, many other classes can get bonuses on par with this through spells and features, too, so I'm fairly certain this is good.

Great Axemaster

At 14th level, you truly master your axes. You may also dual-wield Heavy and Two-Handed weapons. Additionally, you may knock a Large or smaller creature prone if your hit is critical or deals maximum damage.

The big oof. This really gives you everything a Dual-Wielding Barbarian needs to charge into battle like a boss and start smashing things for big damage. Dual-wielding Greataxes really goes against the rules, but hey, its a big strong Barbarian!

I hope this is balanced, but I am super-open to criticism! I would love to hear the community's thoughts before I playtest!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Might I ask why I am being downvoted? I am open to criticism, unless, of course, you object to my use of this site to question balance on homebrews, both of which are established tags on this site if I understand correctly. \$\endgroup\$ – TheCentaur Apr 10 at 1:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ The 14th-level benefit doesn't help, since every Heavy weapon is also Two-handed, as far as I'm aware. \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Apr 10 at 1:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ The whole idea is to override that, thank you for pointing that out! \$\endgroup\$ – TheCentaur Apr 10 at 1:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ The wording of the Natural Attack feature is a mess. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 10 at 2:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this inspired by Draaaaaaaaaaven? The spinning axes is what made me think of it. \$\endgroup\$ – Blake Steel Apr 10 at 5:55
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This is way too strong.

First up. I love the concept, a dual-axe-wielding-rage-monster is an awesome image. Unfortunately I don't think you've gone about it the right way. Lets go through the features.

Dual Defense

Issues with this feature:

  • Barbarians don't usually get a fighting style at all. It is part of the thematic of the class, fighting styles reflect training not instincts.
  • At 3rd level the Berserker gets Frenzy, you feature is stronger than that
  • Bear Totem get resistance to all damage except physic. Yours is balanced with this.
  • Eagle Totem get a mobility buff which isn't very useful for a tank character. Yours is better than this.
  • Wolf Totem get advantage for allies within 5ft. This is a weak feature is you use the flanking rules, decent otherwise. Yours is probably stronger.
  • Defense fighting style requires you to be wearing armor, this does not stack with your unarmored defense.
  • You are giving two fighting styles, something only the champion fighter gets (without multi-classing), and they get it at 10th level.

Overall this feature is slightly strong than the other options available for the barbarian and grants a 10th level feature of the Champion fighter. This is too strong.

Natural Attack

Getting this in addition to Dual Defense at 3rd level is completely overpowered. Dual Defense alone is slighty too strong. This feature is entirely broken.

  • Berserker barbarian gets a additional attack with their bonus action. You get an additional attack without a bonus action. This is way stronger.
  • This is basically Extra Attack 2 levels early and it stacks. You get 3 attacks at 5th level. Something a Barbarian never gets and Fighters get at 11th level.

This feature is completely broken and needs to be removed.

Dual-Wielder

Issues with this:

  • Giving feats as a feature means they have no use for the feat. This was normal in previous editions but very strange in 5e.
  • Totem paths all grant situations out of combat buffs at 6th level. This is stronger than that.
  • Berserker gains immunity to charmed while raging. This is also stronger than that.

Overall this feature is far stronger than the other path's options and takes away one of the uses for your ASIs. Not a great feature.

Spinning Shield

This feature is also broken. Both compared to the other options and in cumulative effect.

  • Berserker get an at will intimidation effect similar to Cause Fear a 1st level spell. Yours is stronger.
  • Totem Path get a ritual 5th level casting of Commune with Nature. This is not useful in combat but can be situationaly good. Yours is stronger.
  • A shield while dual wielding on top of the Dual Wielder feat is broken.

Your AC is now: 10 + Dex + Con + 1 (Defense FS ignore the issue) + 1 (Dual Wielder) + 2 (Spinning Shield) = ~22 on average. Not including magic items. This huge AC for a barbarian that also has the most hitpoints makes this path super tanky.

Great Axemaster

This is thematically cool but is still completely overpowered. Issues with this feature:

  • This feature stacks with Natural Attack and becomes way too strong. Without that feature it is still overpowered.

The rest of this assumes that Natural Attack is removed.

  • Wolf Totem can knock things prone on melee attacks. You are giving this feature as well as the other benefits. Yours is way better.

The rest of this assumes that the prone ability is also removed.

  • Berserkers get Retaliation. The extra damage from that is roughly similar to your increase but costs their reaction. Yours is better.
  • Bear Totem get a defensive aura that imposes disadvantage. This is good but yours likely slightly better.
  • Eagle Totem get a fly speed while raging. This helps them hit things that fly but that's about all. Yours is better.

Even after removing the parts that make this feature it is still strong. This is the best feature in your subclass though. I would suggest keeping the Dual Wielding heavy/two-handed weapons but ditch the parts that stack with it.

How to fix it

Normally I like to give advice on how to fix homebrew. But from the length of my answer so far you should be able to tell there is a lot of work to be done. I suggest going back to the drawing board. Base your abilities off those that are available to the other barbarian paths. These are the good bits I suggest you keep:

  • Two-weapon fighting style is a good idea, though not normal for a barbarian it is basically required to make this work.
  • Dual wielding heavy weapons is awesome. Keep that but find a way to make it balanced.

I suggest you drop by chat and talk to some people for advice before you post another iteration of this. It needs a lot of work to bring it back into line with other paths.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, I am taking these into consideration and editing my homebrew accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ – TheCentaur Apr 10 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheCentaur I'm glad linksassin's advice helped. Just to make you aware in case you weren't, iterative design is handled differently on this site to avoid making answers on this question obsolete. See this discussion on our sister site for more details. The common method is to post a new question with an updated version (once you've gotten all the criticism of this version that you expect you can). \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Apr 10 at 12:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would point out (for the Greataxe Master feature) that the Wolf totem is guaranteed on hit w/ a bonus action. Mine only has a small chance of knocking a creature prone. I don't think this needs to be removed, and attacking on a turn that is not your own is balanced with dual-wielding Greataxes. \$\endgroup\$ – TheCentaur Apr 10 at 17:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd like to note most paths have non-combat features (or at least non-combat focused features) at some levels. \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Apr 10 at 19:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheCentaur Guaranteed yes, but it costs them their bonus action. And that is the entire feature. You are giving other benefits as well. "attacking on a turn that is not your own is balanced with dual-wielding Greataxes" - I'm not sure what you mean but that, yes it would be because you haven't granted any out of turn buffs, I didn't mention out of turn attacks. Goodguy5's advice that most paths have a non-combat feature or two is important. That is one of the major things that makes this stronger, everything is combat focused. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Apr 10 at 23:24

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