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D&D: The ‘Unearthed Arcana’ Playtest 7 Barbarian is Wild and Wooden

4 Minute Read
Sep 11 2023

The new playtest holds big changes for Barbarians. Buffs for the beefy… but a couple of big time nerfs too.

Unearthed Arcana Playtest 7 is here, and with it come big changes to the Barbarian class. But with only three left, this one’s meant to be more of a refinement of the core mechanics. Even so, there’s a brand new subclass. A change to the name of an old favorite. And of course, bad news for those who enjoyed how tanky Barbarians could be.

Because now, thanks to a big nerf, one type of Barbarian’s damage resistance is getting capped. Will that be enough to sink the survey scores? Or will people be happy with all the new features?

The Playtest 7 Barbarian Shows Off Primal Rage

Overall the Playtest 7 Barbarian is pretty strong. They get the optional bonus features from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything codified in the rules now which is great. Brutal Critical theoretically does extra damage, but it still basically sucks as a whole class feature, especially compared to what most other classes get around 9th level.

For the most part, these are big buffs. Barbarians who haven’t been playing with the optional rule will be excited to have Primal Knowledge (which lets you make Acrobatics, Intimidation, Perception, Stealth, or Survival checks as Strength checks while Raging) and especially Instinctive Pounce. But, for all that, there are some pretty hefty nerfs incoming to some Barbarian subclasses.

Starting with the Wild Heart Barbarian. Wild Heart Barbarian is a name change to the Totem Warrior. This makes the subclass match the name in Baldur’s Gate 3, and is another in the long line of moves away from legacy language that just doesn’t feel like it’s apt.

The subclass has been pretty significantly changed, and it carries the most symbolic Barbarian nerf: those familiar with the Bear Spirit option for the Barbarian know that they used to be resistant to all types of damage except Psychic. That is no longer the case. Now Bear Barbarians, or Barbearians, can pick two damage types (other than Force or Psychic) and gain resistance to it until your Rage ends. Which is a massive change to the tankiest of Barbarians.

WotC says the previous design was too powerful, but it’s a way to make Barbarians vulnerable to the new school of higher CR monsters who eschew dealing bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage for Force damage instead.


Path of the Berserker feels pretty good in general. Frenzy no longer is an extra attack as a bonus action, but it does go off of Reckless attack, increasing your damage when using that option by an extra [Rage Damage Bonus]d6 to the first target you hit on your turn. Everything else is gravy.

And of course, the Path of the Zealot from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything does slightly less damage, but it works on any attack with a weapon instead of strength-based attacks only, making it quite strong. You also, in addition to getting resurrected from the dead for free, now gain an extra d12 additional hit points whenever a spell or magic item restores any of your hit points (up to your Constitution modifier number of times per day).

Zealous Presence now can be used multiple times, but most fun of all, at 14th level you gain Rage Beyond Death which turns you into a spectral warrior when you drop to 0 hit points. This lets you use a Reaction to make an attack that hit become a miss, which is HUGE, and you can fly and move through objects and creatures.

And then there’s the new Barbarian, the Path of the World Tree.

World Tree Barbarians

Then there’s the Path of the World Tree. These are Barbarians tied to Yggdrasil, the Nordic World Tree. So you better believe these are for your Viking types. Their whole deal is channeling primal magic to heal and support their party.

The vitality of the Tree both heals and sustains the Barbarian. Upon first Raging, they heal, regaining hit points equal to their Barbarian level. But this ability also lets them choose another creature within 10 feet to gain temporary hit points equal to ]your bonus Rage Damage]d6 at the start of each of their turns while raging. This means that a World Tree Barbarian can heal while they kill, as this doesn’t cost an action.


At level 6, Branches of the Tree means they can teleport characters around the battlefield, willing or no. At 10th level, Battering Roots increases their reach by 10 feet (that’s by, not to), and grants the ability to push foes back 5 feet or knock them prone–and Travel Along the Tree is a big great Teleportation Circle effect but for Barbarians.

And an outro goes here!

Author: J.R. Zambrano
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