I absolutely love the newest Unearthed Arcana which came out on August 15th, especially the Wild Soul Barbarian. The flavor for this new subclass is amazing, and became my instant favorite barbarian subclass. You rage and magic just HAPPENS around you? I love wild magic so this is fantastic to me.
However, despite how much I loved the concept, I found myself not much liking the actual mechanics. In fact, I disliked the mechanics enough that, despite my enjoyment of the fluff, I realized I wouldn’t be interested in playing one.
I narrowed down my feelings to two reasons:
- The subclass just wasn’t “wild” enough for a “wild magic” class; with only 8 potential effects, it felt less like you were activating wild magic and more like you were just choosing random buffs. That may be a subtle difference that most people don’t see, or maybe you’ll know what I’m talking about. But it was a major issue that I had.
- Until you got to a much higher level, you were likely to only ever see one wild surge in a fight. Again, for a wild magic-focused class, that’s boring.
I believe that a melee, rage-focused wild surge class like this should embrace the chaos of ever-changing effects; live in the chaos of battle, constantly allowing new Wild Surge effects to change how they approach combat. The randomness is what makes wild magic classes fun; that’s always been what was most fun about the Wild Magic Sorcerer.
The Revised version of this subclass is intended to improve that enjoyment and randomness.
- The number of Wild Surge effects is increased from 8 to 20, with 10 of those being “persistent” effects that can potentially last a full battle, and the other 10 being effects which are active only for an instant or for a round. The Wild Surge feature was changed to reflect this difference in types of surges as well. All of your Wild Surges are designed to have an effect on combat; no random or “harmless” effects for a rage-powered fighter.
- You change the die result of your Wild Surge roll by 1, either up or down, once per short/long rest. This gives the barbarian the ability to have some limited control over what occurs when they proc a surge, but still has the weight of randomness which wild magic should have; you can just direct the surge a bit in a pinch.
- Many of the surge effects now have scaling damage based off the Barbarian’s own in-built scaling; their Rage Damage bonus. This makes the effects a bit less frontloaded at lower levels, while being relevant at higher levels.
- Taking damage now has a chance to proc a wild surge, increasing the potential for more wild surges over the course of a battle (and thus increasing the fun!) The likelihood of a surge increases as you take more damage. If you take 40 damage or more, a surge is guaranteed. 20 damage, you have about a 50% chance of proccing one. Note that this is *after* you consider the barbarian’s resistance of physical damage, so something big smacking you in the face would need to deal a LOT of damage to guarantee a surge.
- Magic Reserves in its original design was extremely powerful, almost to the point of absurdity. This revision makes it more like a shareable Arcane Recovery, with a strict limit, while still allowing it to be used as a source of temporary HP if you decide to use your pool that way.
- Added a limit to the range of Arcane Rebuke. As written, a wizard on the other side of the planet could cast scrying on the Barbarian and suffer damage for it, regardless of whether the Barbarian even passes or fails the save. That seems ridiculous to me.
I’m hoping that these changes make the subclass more fun to play for those people looking for more randomness with their randomness. Let me know how you enjoy it; feedback makes the… dreamhack… I’ll work on that.
The Wild Soul Barbarian can be downloaded from the DMsGuild for free, though you can purchase it as a “Pay What You Want” price if you’d like to help support the Arcane Athenæum and its future projects.
Version 1.0 26Nov2019
- Uploaded to the DMsGuild
Version 0.2 19Aug2019
- Available after some feedback from /r/UnearthedArcana.