Barbarian Path of the Bloodied | New Player Option for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

This one comes as a request from one of my patrons. Here is what he asked for:

Hi Dave, I’d love to see what you can create for a Barbarian subclass around the idea of the more damage he takes, the more damage he can dish out. Even better if his attacks are unarmed. I’m just picturing a guy that goes total berserk bloodlust and thrives on the punishment he’s taking.

So here is what’s necessary mechanically:

  • The more damage the barbarian takes, the more damage the barbarian can deal.
  • Unarmed attack focus.

Sounds like something from a Korean action movie! Haha

But yeah, I totally dig the idea. Let’s see what I can do with it.

Design Notes

A quick note on designs. The extra damage the barbarian ends up dealing falls roughly in line with how much damage the zealot path does just factored in a little differently. The idea was to put more emphasis on DPR over tanking/buffing. Only the last two features allow the barbarian to tough it out as a tank.

Barbarian Primal Path

At 3rd level, a barbarian gains the Primal Path feature. The following Path of the Bloodied option is available to a barbarian, in addition to those normally offered.

Path of the Bloodied

There are those who throw themselves into combat with little regard to their own well being. As they take more hits, break more bones, and shed more blood, their rage grows. These ferocious creatures are known as the Bloodied.


Starting when you choose this path at 3rd level, the more damage you take, the more effective of a combatant you become. While raging, if you start your turn in combat with fewer than half of your hit points remaining and you aren’t incapacitated, your rage damage is three times the normal bonus.

Brutal Boxer

At 3rd level, your anger drowns out your formal combat training as you turn to your fists to make attacks. While raging, when you take the attack action, you can immediately make a single unarmed attack as a bonus action once on each of your turns. The damage your unarmed attack deals is 1d4 plus your Strength modifier.

Fierce Grappler

At 6th level, you gain proficiency in Strength (Athletics) if you don’t already have it and you add twice your proficiency bonus to Strength (Athletics) checks when grappling or attempting to escape a grapple. In addition, whenever you successfully grapple a creature, you automatically deal bludgeoning damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength modifier.

Rapid Adaptation

At 10th level, while you are raging and you take damage from acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage, you can use your reaction to gain resistance to that damage type; this resistance takes effect before you take damage from the triggering effect and lasts for 1 hour. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.


Starting at 14th level, your rage can push you beyond normal mortal limitations. When you make a successful Constitution saving throw to avoid falling unconscious using your Relentless Rage feature, you regain a number of hit points equal to your barbarian level instead of the 1 hit point normally offered from the Relentless Rage feature.



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3 thoughts on “Barbarian Path of the Bloodied | New Player Option for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

  1. Hey, I really like the theme of this subclass. I am a DM and a player, and from both perspectives, I think this is pretty cool. I love the idea of a barbarian who is scarier the more damage they take. I had a couple ideas that might be interesting.

    Do you think it would make sense to do 2x rage damage at like, 75%, and then 3x rage damage at 50%? Or maybe, 2x rage damage at 50%, and 3x on 25%. I feel like if this had some scaling on it, as a player, it would feel more thematic. The problem is, at 25%, they are at high risk of character death, and incentivizing someone to get that low might lead to more PC death, which some people are against.

    For thematics, do you think it would fit to give them an attack they can use as a reaction to being hit? I feel like getting hurt, and then immediately making an opponent suffer for it would be kinda cool. I know Matt Mercer’s cobalt soul monk has an attack they can get for a reaction when the opponent misses an attack roll, so this would be similar. It could be an unarmed strike, if you are concerned about too much damage, but I feel like I as a DM wouldn’t mind if they spend their reaction to get one extra slash in.

    I feel like rapid adaptation is not quite right. I feel like it will mostly get used for some random encounters, but not so many big boss fights. If a campaign takes place in the plane of fire, then it’s one thing, but otherwise, most creatures can deal more than just acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage. Normally they can deal physical and at least one of those types. Having resistance for an hour is good and all, but there is no guarantee that there will be another fight within that time, and if an hour and 1 min later, you find yourself in another fight, then that 10th level feature is not usable. And, like, Strahd, dragons, liches and other creatures that can serve as more serious bosses generally have a lot of varied damage. It’s not as strong as how I feel a 10th level feature should be. An idea I had was a “rage through pain” type deal. Something like, use a reaction to spend hit dice after you take damage to heal a bit, or spend hit dice to reduce the damage of an incoming attack, or even maybe like a 3 use per long rest, gain resistance to all damage for a round-ish? I am not sure.

    As for Unkillable, I don’t feel like it will be impactful enough. By 14th level and up, the creatures that players will be fighting can start to deal the 14+1 damage in single hits, or at least have multi attack. Especially at level 20, I feel like this underperforms. Perhaps allow the player to become unable to be reduced below 1hp for a number of rounds = to half their proficiency modifier? Not for a lot of rounds, but at least more than one, ideally with some scaling to it. This allows this feature to really help that barbarian really feel like an unkillable badass, without putting too much stress on the DM. If the DM really wants, I would imagine that power work kill would still finish them, despite the effect.

    Really a dope idea for a subclass! Have a good one!

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