Last Updated on November 29, 2023
We’re going to look at how this subclass works, its strengths, its weaknesses, and how to get the most out of playing a Path of Wild Magic barbarian in your next D&D 5e campaign.
Path of Wild Magic Barbarian Subclass Features
Let’s begin by taking a look at the features that distinguish the Path of Wild Magic Barbarian. Note that we’re just going to be looking at the subclass features unique to the Wild Magic barbarian. If you want to read our full class guide to the barbarian, click here.
3rd-level Path of Wild Magic feature
When you choose this path at 3rd level, as an action, you can open your awareness to the presence of concentrated magic. Until the end of your next turn, you know the location of any spell or magic item within 60 feet of you that isn’t behind total cover. When you sense a spell, you learn which school of magic it belongs to.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
In effect, this is a better version of the Detect Magic spell.
Magic Awareness can identify specific instances of magic and magical items, although this is slightly more susceptible to being blocked by walls, doors, and other obstacles.
Still, it’s basically an incredibly cheap counter to magical invisibility and spells like disguise self, polymorph, and other shapeshifting abilities.
All in all, it’s a useful information-gathering tool that adds dimension to a class that’s usually all about combat.
3rd-level Path of Wild Magic feature
Also at 3rd level, the magical energy roiling inside you sometimes erupts from you. When you enter your rage, roll on the Wild Magic table to determine the magical effect produced.
If the effect requires a saving throw, the DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Constitution modifier.
This is the real meat of this subclass — a wholly unique wild magic table that feels totally evocative of the Wild Magic Barbarian.
While randomized, the effects are all positive (in stark contrast to the much larger wild magic table that the Wild Magic Sorcerer rolls on) and tend to be quite powerful.
Obviously, you won’t have any real degree of control over what happens when you rage until you reach higher levels.
Therefore, the trait that every player needs to learn and exemplify when playing this character is adaptability.
Can you suddenly teleport at the end of every turn? Time to go throw yourself around the map. Is your weapon suddenly a magically infused throwing star? Time to hang back and take down foes from afar.
6th-level Path of Wild Magic feature
Beginning at 6th level, you can harness your wild magic to bolster yourself or a companion. As an action, you can touch one creature (which can be yourself) and confer one of the following benefits of your choice to that creature:
- For 10 minutes, the creature can roll a d3 whenever making an attack roll or an ability check and add the number rolled to the d20 roll.
- Roll a d3. The creature regains one expended spell slot, the level of which equals the number rolled or lower (the creature’s choice). Once a creature receives this benefit, that creature can’t receive it again until after a long rest.
You can take this action a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
I cannot overstate how useful it can be to give yourself either a permanent 1-3 bonus on all attack rolls and ability checks or to give an ally potentially a 3rd-level spell back.
If they use that slot to cast something like fireball, that’s a ton of what essentially amounts to free damage.
This obviously becomes a lot less useful as you level up, but it’s still really nice to have.
10th-level Path of Wild Magic feature
At 10th level, when you are imperiled during your rage, the magic within you can lash out; immediately after you take damage or fail a saving throw while raging, you can use your reaction to roll on the Wild Magic table and immediately produce the effect rolled. This effect replaces your current Wild Magic effect.
This is where this subclass starts to not only feel truly wild and chaotic but also like you’re gaining a level of real control over that chaos.
Essentially, you’re putting your powers on shuffle and allowing yourself to cycle through effects until you find something you like.
14th-level Path of Wild Magic feature
At 14th level, whenever you roll on the Wild Magic table, you can roll the die twice and choose which of the two effects to unleash. If you roll the same number on both dice, you can ignore the number and choose any effect on the table.
Controlled Surge basically means that, in a fight that goes on long enough, you’ll be able to land on a particular wild magic surge with a few turns of course correction.
This is especially important as some Wild Surge effects transition better than others into higher-level play.
1d6 force damage — the most common damage effect found on the table — is genuinely impactful at lower levels, but by high-tier play, it’s next to useless unless you’re trying to trigger a concentration check.
Meanwhile, being able to teleport or potentially blind an enemy every round is going to stay relevant all the way up to level 20.
Path of Wild Magic Barbarian Summary
Barbarians who are naturally attuned to the energies of the Feywild and upper planes or are affected by wild magic surges walk the Path of Wild Magic. When these warriors unleash the rage inside them, they become conduits for the wild magic all around them.
A raging Wild Magic barbarian manifests strange, unpredictable effects, which are not completely under their control. Still, the force of their rage shapes these effects, empowering their combat abilities and making them dangerous, unpredictable foes.
As a Path of Wild Magic barbarian grows in strength and experience, they learn to better tap into their connection to wild magic, replenishing their allies’ spell slots, making their attacks more potent, and even gaining some control over the randomness of their wild magic manifestations.
Regardless, the Path of Wild Magic remains one of the most run, flavorful, and interesting barbarian subclasses and can make one of the most simple classes in the game feel fresh, exciting, and downright weird.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.