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 1.1 16Sep2020
Less of a version change and more of a small update; since the official Path of Wild Magic that will appear in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything has been released separately, I’ve included a second PDF which takes some of the ideas from Tasha’s Wild Surge Table and my Wild Surge Table and makes them compatible with the Tasha’s subclass. I think the Wild Magic subclass is fantastic and I love the changes made for it; I just still think the surge table is lackluster and also still desperately needs scaling to stay relevant at higher levels.
Version 1.1 24Aug2020
- The Magic Reserves feature has been re-balanced to be less powerful; at up to 10-levels worth of spell slots, you give your Paladin a LOT of potential smites, your cleric a LOT of potential healing, etc. Now, you still get the same number of spell slot levels in your pool, but once a creature has had a single spell slot (of any level) restored, they can’t have another one restored until they finish a long rest. With the fact that you can use this on multiple casters in a day, I think this balances much more fairly.
- The maximum temporary hit points you can give with Magic Reserves was also reduced slightly from 30thp to 25thp; this is just to have it match more with the “5 spell-slots total” count better so it all matches; I’m a fan of that sort of thing.
- The 8th option in the Wild Surge table, granting invisibility, was altered slightly. Now, the invisiblity persists for 1 minute even if you stop raging during that time. It still breaks early if you attack or surge again. This simply gives the barbarian a bit more in terms of options; if they decide to go on the defensive, the rage would end and they’d lose the effect if they didn’t attack or take any damage after a round. This prevents that; feel free to run or take a few rounds to set up a better attack if you would like.
Version 1.0 26Nov2019
- Uploaded to the DMsGuild
Version 0.2 19Aug2019
- Available after some feedback from /r/UnearthedArcana.