How One DnD Has Changed The Barbarian Class

The Conan clones of the world can rejoice as the Dungeons & Dragons Barbarian has received its long-anticipated overhaul in the latest Unearthed Arcana playtest article. This means that the axe-wielding screamers and muscle-powered shamans have received new powers and updates to existing ones, leading to a class with fewer weaknesses and many more strengths, which is fitting for a class that is all about breaking opponents in two.

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The D&D Barbarian’s New Class Features & Powers

The changes to the Barbarian class have primarily involved alterations to existing powers, with many of them being shuffled around. The class has received a few new powers in the latest Unearthed Arcana on D&D Beyond, including access to D&D’s Weapon Mastery options.

  • Weapon Mastery at Level 1 – Like the other martial classes, the Barbarian has gained access to D&D’s new Weapon Mastery mechanic, allowing them to utilize unique powers when wielding weapons in combat.
  • Primal Knowledge at Level 2 Replaces Danger Sense. It grants an additional skill proficiency and lets the Barbarian use Strength as their ability modifier when making Acrobatics, Intimidation, Perception, Stealth, or Survival checks, but only while using Rage.
  • Rage Resurgence at Level 17 – Regain a use of Rage whenever you roll Initiative.
  • Epic Boon at level 20 – Receives an Epic Boon Feat, with the previous level 20 power pushed down to level 18.

How D&D Has Changed The Barbarian’s Existing Powers

The Barbarian’s iconic Rage feature has undergone several changes in Unearthed Arcana, with many of them now being compatible with unarmed strikes, allowing the Barbarian to become the Vegeta clone that players have secretly always wanted to play. The other changes made to the Barbarian include:

  • Rage is no longer extended by taking damage, but it can be by spending a Bonus Action or if the Barbarian causes an opponent to make a saving throw. Rage can now be used with unarmed attacks, lasting 10 minutes instead of 1 minute. Barbarians no longer gain unlimited uses of Rage at level 20.
  • Danger Sense has been merged with Feral Instinct, so the character won’t benefit from its effects until level 7.
  • Feral Instinct no longer lets the Barbarian avoid surprise by using Rage.
  • Indomitable Might is now received at level 9 instead of level 18.
  • Brutal Critical is now received at level 11 instead of level 9. It can now be used with unarmed strikes and deals damage equal to the character’s Barbarian level rather than rolling additional dice.
  • Relentless Rage is now received at level 15 instead of level 11. If the Barbarian passes the saving throw, they now regain hit points equal to twice their Barbarian level rather than just receiving a single point.
  • Persistent Rage is now received at level 13 instead of level 15. The Barbarian’s Rage now lasts for 10 minutes without the need to manually extend it.
  • Primal Champion is now received at level 18, but it only provides 2 extra Strength and Constitution points, not 4.

How One D&D Changed The Barbarian’s Berserker Subclass

The latest Unearthed Arcana details the Berserker subclass for the Barbarian, which has also received several changes.

  • Frenzy – Entering a Frenzy no longer grants a level of exhaustion when it ends, but the Barbarian does have to use it with Reckless Attack. Frenzy no longer grants an additional attack; instead, the user rolls d6s equal to their Rage bonus in extra damage dice upon hitting the target.
  • Mindless Rage – Now ends the Charmed & Frightened conditions, rather than suspending them until the Rage ends.
  • Retaliation – Has been moved to level 10 and can be used with an unarmed strike.
  • Intimidating Presence – Has been moved to level 14, and the saving throw involves the Barbarian’s Strength score instead of their Charisma score. The opposing creature can now attempt a saving throw at the end of each of their turns, but they no longer gain immunity for 24 hours if they pass the check, and it only lasts for a minute. Instead, the Barbarian is now limited to using Intimidating Presence once per long rest unless they’re willing to spend uses of Rage to activate it again.

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The updates to the Barbarian and the Berserker have removed many of the annoying restrictions the class is known for. In D&D 5E, the Barbarian has always had a risk/reward element to their powers, which is a little unfair, considering the other classes aren’t impacted in the same way, and the Barbarian’s abilities never felt like they justified the downsides. This new version of the Barbarian has some better toys for players to use, hopefully making the class more attractive in the future.

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