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Barbarian Subclass: Path of the Dragon Shaman
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Barbarian Subclass: Path of the Dragon Shaman

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To Barbarians, strength and power are end-alls.  And no creature embodies these traits like dragons.  Those who seek to emulate these majestic beings call themselves Dragon Shamans.  Their very bodies adapt to more draconic forms, granting them boosting auras, resilient scales, and even powerful wings.  To walk the Path of the Dragon Shaman is to become power, and to gain the will to use it.

The Path of the Dragon Shaman subclass presented in this title is based on the Dragon Shaman in 3.5e's Player's Handbook II.  Then, the Dragon Shaman was a full class, and acted as something of a buff-providing leader and damage-dealing striker.  Their auras gave the entire party useful combat as well as social buffs, while the dragon shaman herself slowly became more and more dragonlike.  In 5e, the Dragon Shaman is not varied enough to warrant its own class, but offers just enough to function as a Barbarian subclass.  Though the subclass is a bit frontloaded (gaining the player a language, adaptation, breath weapon, and various auras), I believe this is still the best bet for a 5e port of the original class.  Because it builds off the Barbarian class, the 5e Dragon Shaman loses much of its "party-face" abilities.  But in return, it becomes a strong front-line fighter.

Changelog:

9/28/2017 - Version 1.1

  • Updated wording of the Draconic Aura feature, making it more clear that the aura only exists when the Barbarian rages.

9/12/2017 - Version 1.0

  • Uploaded to DMsGuild.
 
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Customer avatar
Matthew C September 20, 2017 5:31 am UTC
PURCHASER
I've made this class available for play in my home campaign.

The flavor is good and the sort of narrative placement of it fits, but I swear the general design rankles something fierce.

After much reflection I think it's because this class seems to basically give the barbarian another "core mechanic" in the auras and as a result their Rage is just this other thing they do instead of the focus of their schtick. I have a player interested in making one, we'll see how it functions in game and my reservations might be rooted in the fact I've never seen any barbarian played past level 6.
Customer avatar
Jeff V September 22, 2017 9:32 pm UTC
CREATOR
The Dragon Shaman Barbarian still has to rage in order to use the auras; the auras are really just a bonus effect for the rage, but their rages function exactly the same otherwise (advantage on Strength checks, extra Rage damage, resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage, etc.) So I still consider Rage the focus of their schtick; it's just a special rage (much like Berserker Barbarians get a special kind of rage, and some Totem Barbarians get extra effects with their rages).

Please let me know how it goes if anyone takes it. Playtesting is super important to me.
Customer avatar
Matthew C September 23, 2017 9:31 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Ah, I see. There's some language in the descriptions that make that unclear. Paragraph 1 under Draconic Aura reads "... you can channel the mighty powers of dragonkind and project an aura that grants you and nearby allies a special benefit." No mention is made of projecting while raging until... paragraph 3. My initial reading made it seem you have an aura and it explands to a 10ft radius when you rage.

Paragraph 1 under Empowered Aura reads "... you can have two draconic auras active at one time rather than one, and can activate two when you rage." Which makes the issue a little unclear since activating an Aura is not described as requiring an action of any sort. This further reinforced my earlier interpretation making it seem like you have 1 but when you're raging you can now have 2 going at once.

I'd recommend tightening up the initial description from Draconic Aura Paragraph 1 by adding some variation of "when raging."

Now that I'm digesting...See more
Customer avatar
Jeff V September 28, 2017 7:07 pm UTC
CREATOR
I shall tighten up the description a bit for the auras to ensure the ability is clear.

When it comes to the concerns about the auras needing to be separated by level, however, I disagree. For a simple reason; Dragon Shamans are very MAD. Barbarians already want good Str, Dex, and Con for their abilities to shine. By requiring Cha for the auras, this effectively puts Dragon Shaman characters in a position where boosting the bonus to their auras makes them weaker as a Barbarian overall, since they then don't improve those other qualities. Sure, you could put your highest lvl stat into Cha and thus get a +2 or +3 aura right at lvl 3, and even increase this all the way up to +5 at later levels, but if you do that then you are making everything else that makes them a Barbarian worse.

I think by making the subclass so MAD we inherently avoid those sorts of problems. Most Barbarians are either going to have a +0 or +1 in their Cha at most. By comparison, most Paladins are going to have...See more
Customer avatar
Matthew C September 30, 2017 6:31 am UTC
PURCHASER
I recognize you've stated your commitment to keeping it as is, I can always house rule it (though that will impact my player's feedback on it). Without too much back and forth, you can ignore strength making this Barbarian Path only as MAD as a normal Barbarian. Good luck with it in any event.
Customer avatar
Jeff V September 30, 2017 8:21 pm UTC
CREATOR
I'll look into it a bit more; you may be correct about the auras getting too strong. And doing some napkin math, it occurs that the boost provided by the auras could override the loss of Strength, for example, in certain ways.
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File Last Updated:
November 13, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on September 12, 2017.