In Dungeons & Dragons, Barbarians are famous for being the heavy-hitting tanks that fight battle encounters through their sheer strength and rage, standing as a wall against the game’s fodder enemies, and the Ancestral Guardian Barbarian is no exception. The Ancestral Guardian Barbarian will, for the most part, be close and personal in combat, although this subclass has some special abilities that give it some of the feel of a support class. These include imposing disadvantages on enemies and protecting allies from damage once per round, which can really help when the rolls don’t go in your group’s favor. This manages to make the Ancestral Guardian subclass stand out from other Barbarian subclasses and feel fresh.
Due to how unique the Ancestral Guardian subclass is, players interested in trying it out may not know how to start building their new character. This guide will show players where they can start by offering some more extensive tips as well.
Ancestral Guardian Barbarian build summary
|Competition||Human, Half-orc, Goliath or Gem Dragonborn|
|Skill Scores (in order of importance)||Strength, Constitution, Wisdom or Dexterity, Charisma, Intelligence|
|Prowess||Sentinel, Mobile, Shield Master, Great Weapon Master, Orchish Fury|
Strength and toughness are vital
Since the Ancestral Guardian Barbarian is constantly in the middle of combat, Strength and Toughness should be their main stats. Strength is needed to attack enemies, and toughness is needed to increase overall hit points and stay in battle much longer. Due to the unarmored Defense characteristic of the class, many Barbarians tend to have a lower Armor Class and should compensate with more hit points.
The third most important stat may be Dexterity or Wisdom, but it largely depends on the player’s preference. At level 10, the Ancestral Guardian learns two ritual spells, Wishes and Clairvoyance, and uses the Wisdom stat to cast spells. However, the player can enhance the aforementioned Unarmored Defense feature by investing in Dexterity, so it depends on the player’s preference for better spell casting or better defense.
The last two stats are Charisma and Intelligence, and neither will do much for a Barbarian character mechanically. Choosing which one is best to use as a drain stat may hinge on your RPG choices, although it’s worth remembering that Intimidation, a solid skill for barbarians, is tied to charisma. However, many tables use house rules that tie Intimidation to Force, so this may not even be a factor in some cases.
The best breeds for an ancestral guardian barbarian
Choosing to play a Human is, of course, always a good choice. They are versatile but also simple for new players or even veteran players who want something a little simpler than their latest character. However, there are other races that may also be better suited to the Ancestral Guardian Barbarian, for those looking to get a little more complex.
Goliath and Half-Orcs are well suited to any melee class, as they both get a Strength boost from their racial skill scores. Goliaths have the Stone Stamina trait and Half-Orcs the Relentless Stamina trait, both of which can be used to push a character in melee like a Barbarian far beyond their limits and stay in combat longer.
However, for gamers looking to move away from more standard content, there is a race that may be above the rest. Found in The treasure of the dragons of Fizbanthe Dragonborn Gem could be the perfect one 5e race for the barbarians. The Dragon’s Blood gem allows for greater versatility when building stats, as well as the ability to choose Radiant, Necrotic, or even Strength Damage as the type associated with their dragon ancestry, allowing for some incredible breath resistance and utility. Additionally, starting at 5th level, the Dragonborn Gem can grow temporary wings and fly across the battlefield, which takes care of one of the biggest weaknesses of the Barbarian class: flying enemies.
The best feats for a barbarian ancestral guardian
The Ancestral Guardian Barbarian will want to stay in the thick of the action, and the potential feats it undertakes should reflect this. For example, the Sentinel feat can stop enemies trying to leave the player’s attack range by keeping them right next to the Barbarian for another turn. At the other extreme, the choice of the Mobile talent can greatly increase the speed of the Barbarian, allowing them to reach the point where the action is much faster if they part with it.
The Shield Master feat is another great option, as it not only increases defense but also improves Dexterity saving throws. However, this feat requires the barbarian to wield a shield, which not all barbarian players are inclined to do as it removes the ability to use two-handed or versatile weapons. These weapons are often best for barbarians. Alternatively, taking the Great Weapon Master feat does the opposite, granting much more powerful hits from heavier weapons but taking away the ability to use a shield. The choice between Shield Master and Great Weapon Master therefore ultimately depends on the player’s personal play style.
Finally, for players who have chosen the Half-orc as their Barbarian’s race, the Orc’s Fury feat is based on the half-orc’s strengths, giving them extra power behind an attack once per short or long rest. The feat also improves the Relentless Endurance racial trait by adding attack power behind it.