Top 10 5E D&D Homebrew Primal Paths by a Factor of Three
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted take a page from my playbook here on the website to look at fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons homebrew content contributed to D&D Beyond. In the video below they explore homebrew Sacred Oaths for paladins on the DDB website while here I’m taking a look at another 5E D&D class and the homebrew subclasses folks created there. (There’s lots of these posts whether for homebrew subclasses, magic items, spells, feats and more floating around for the curious.) This time around I’m looking at one of my favorite classes both to play and design subclasses for — the barbarian — and checking out the Top 10 homebrew Primal Paths. There’s currently over 2,300 homebrew of them! Let’s get into it.
Barbarian Primal Paths at D&D Beyond
Before getting started it’s important to note you can create homebrew content for private use and share your homebrew content publicly at DDB at no cost — there’s no subscription required to access these services. However if you want to add any of the homebrew Primal Paths mentioned below or any other homebrew content you come across to your 5E D&D collection you must subscribe at the Hero Tier or above. There’s a lot you can do at DDB for free. Check out what you can do here.
The DDB homebrew collection uses several statistics to track entries. Views shows how many eyeballs any particular homebrew creation received, Adds shows the number of times a creation was added to someone’s collection and Rating is an upvote/downvote system. Since there are over 2,300 Primal Paths in the collection I’m going to share the top 10 highest rated, most viewed and most added selections and to see what’s out there along with any crossover between these three lists.
Top 10 highest rating Primal Paths
- Path of Elemental Fury. Some barbarians hail from cultures that revere the raw primordial rage of the elements – the fury of the cyclone, the wrath of the volcano, the crash of the tidal wave, the destruction of the earthquake. If you’re in the mood for gaining a variety of features while you’re raging in combat (including summoning elementals!) look no further.
- Path of the Dragon. Some barbarian tribes learn to loose themselves to their frenzy and rage, while others seek to emulate beasts of the wild, enhancing their senses and heightening their natural skills and fighting prowess. Quite noodly but for players seeking a barbarian who gains increasingly powerful dragon themed features this ought to fulfill those desires.
- Path of the Juggernaut. There are those barbarians who stride the battlefield, clad in the heaviest of armours. I really dig this one! It does a good job incorporating an armored barbarian and working around existing tropes but more than this it speaks to my love for both the X-Men character of the same name and my second favorite class in Mass Effect — the Vanguard. After all these Top 10 homebrew posts I’ve done this is perhaps the most appealing option I’ve come across in terms of what I’d love to play myself sometime.
- Path of the Skald. Behind every legendary tale of battle is a master storyteller – a Skald. OMG a Primal Path offering more than doing extra damage in a thematic way while raging? Yes, please!
- Path of Blood. Trading deadly blows with your enemies is the absolute greatest pleasure you know. This one is cool for the way it leans into a barbarian’s notorious ability to take lots of damage and keep going.
- Path of the Depths. Encounters with the terrors of the deep can break the minds of the weak-willed, but some forge their trauma into weapons never seen above the waves. Creative, thematic and I’m a sucker for character options with customizable choices provided by various features. On point!
- Path of the Feral Beast. Embrace a more bestial rage. Similar to the official Path of the Beast but with a much great Vixen vibe, which I very much appreciate. Incidentally one of the optional uses for Hit Dice in our most popular creation aims for a similar manifestation of beast power but for druids.
- Brawler. The core of playing a Brawler is unpredictability, and using the environment as your weapon. I’ll overlook how the subclass isn’t properly titled Path of the Brawler like the gods intended. On the surface it’s an unarmed barbarian option but I get strong action movie hero vibes and I’m into the cool features.
- Path of the Valkyrie. For some Barbarians, rage is a form of power. (Only some?) Okay first off kudos for leaning into valkyrie lore and second this is a fantastic take on a Primal Path, which incorporates some healing aimed to keep allies on their feet and in the fight. Great design concept for a barbarian Primal Path.
- Path of the Fiend. Barbarians travel far and wide taking up quests for great weapons of power or perilous contracts to fill in order to earn their fame. Not my cup of tea. Transform into a demonic entity to wreck house with basically just extra damage features, one of which simultaneously heals you. Meh.
Top 10 most viewed Primal Paths
- Path of the Juggernaut.
- Path of Elemental Fury.
- Path of the Skald.
- Path of the Dragon.
- Path of the Tactician. While most tacticians and strategic warriors follow a method to combat that is far different than that of a barbarian, there are a unique few barbarians who use their rage to gain supreme focus and precision. An interesting take on reimagining Rage as a sort of hyperfocus and clarity in battle. Plus the features aren’t all just thematic ways to deal more damage. Yay!
- Path of the Executioner. A barbarian who has been task by it clan with the duty of carrying out torture, and then later death sentences to all who has broke the law of their tribe. This one really gets their kicks from beheading things.
- Lycanthrope. Barbarians are specially suited for the loss of control brought about by the bestial curse of lycanthropy. The design and presentation are a bit messy but I’m seeing a lot of extra damage and growing in size and whatnot. If I’m honest I put a lot of stock in starting on the right foot and leaving out the “Path of” part lost my points from the get go.
- Path of the Warlord. Warlord, commander of barbarian horde and martial instructor to those less adept in combat. This one goes too far beyond what a barbarian feels like it ought to do, which isn’t in itself a terrible design choice but there’s some clunky mechanics and language that left me suspect too.
- Dragon Totem Warrior. The Path of the Dragon Warrior is a spiritual journey, Dragonborn who choose to follow their bloodline and let their rage fuel them are granted the strength and appearances of their great ancestors. Looking past the disconnect between the Primal Path name and description this one essentially presents an alternative dragon themed option for Path of the Totem Warrior barbarians but in a messy way.
- Bedlam’s Path of the Psycho. The psycho is a lone barbarian who has wandered far into the hinterlands to the very edge of sanity and just a little past it. Maybe it’s just me today but I can’t even wrap my head around this one. Mission accomplished?
Top 10 most added Primal Paths
- Path of Elemental Fury.
- Path of the Juggernaut.
- Path of the Dragon.
- Path of the Skald.
- Path of the Depths.
- Path of Blood.
- Path of the Valkyrie.
- Path of the Executioner.
- Herculean Path. Some individuals are born with seemingly impossible strength, exhibiting rippling muscles even before they learn to speak or walk. Very cool approach focused purely on Strength to emulate legendary heroes of myth.
Primal Paths rising to the top
Path of Elemental Fury edges out all the other 2,300 Primal Paths and I suspect it’s the Path of the Juggernaut’s name alone putting it over as No. 1 when it comes to views. Most of these homebrew creations simply provide more ways to deal more damage, which is certainly in the barbarian’s wheelhouse but overall flat for my taste. Because the class is so strongly focused on damage dealing in combat when I look at new options (or create them) it’s important not only to find a compelling hook to hang features from but also explore new directions. This is why the Path of the Valkyrie and the Path of the Juggernaut rise to the top in my assessment. Both of those homebrew Primal Paths speak to the barbarian’s deadliness in combat. They also build on the foundation with utility features or different approaches to fighting.
5E D&D barbarian resources
I mentioned several times our own forays into homebrew content creation for 5E D&D. In addition to the monthly rewards our Patreon supporters receive we’ve presented tons of material in our videos and right here at Nerdarchy the Website ready to drop right into your games too. Another place we frequently create new content for Dungeon Masters and players to drop right into games is Nerdarchy the Newsletter and you’ll also get several gifts including $9.99 in store credit so you can add whatever you like there to your own collection when you sign up. We’ve explored the barbarian class many times already. Here’s some resources to check out if you dig 5E D&D barbarians.
- From Spelleater Minotaur to Path of the Spelleater Barbarian for 5E D&D
- Path of the Brawler – Pro Wrestler Barbarian for 5th Edition
- Play Your Next 5E D&D Game as a Path of the Dragon Barbarian
- Fane of the Frost Wyrm — a short adventure to introduce the Path of the Frost Wyrm
- Path of the Barbhairian
- Path of the Dreamwalker
- D&D Design diary: Blue Magic primal path
- Form Doesn’t Meet Function for Path of Wild Magic Barbarians from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
- A Group of Barbarians is Called a Horde
- D&D Party Composition — Playing an All Barbarian Party
*Featured image — When your adventurer is ready to get really serious about their hair it’s time to try some Hairable Ideas like the Path of the Barbhairian. [Illustration by Askhan Ghanbari]