The Storm Herald Barbarian is the rage and fury of the storm made flesh.
Whether they’re channeling the strength of the frigid tundra, scorching desert, or mighty sea, these warriors are a terrifying sight to behold!
If you wish to harness the raw and primal strength of the elements, this just might be the subclass for you!
This is the full subclass guide to the Storm Herald Barbarian in D&D 5e!
What is the Storm Herald Barbarian in D&D 5e?
Harnessing the raw power of one’s inner fury is at the very core of all Barbarian subclasses.
The Storm Herald, however, takes it a step further by using that rage to awaken the primal magic that exists at the heart of any storm.
How the Storm Herald Barbarian has come to possess these gifts varies.
Some train and work alongside Druids and Rangers as champions of nature. Using their powers and strength, they protect both nature and their community.
Meanwhile, others might train endlessly in some of the most intense environments in the world to awaken and harness this inner power.
However it came to be, the storm has awakened. It will only grow stronger from here!
The Storm Herald Barbarian appears in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything alongside the Zealot and Ancestral Guardian subclasses.
Role in the Party
Barbarians of all Primal Paths stand strong on the party’s front line. They’re capable of putting out respectable damage while also working well as a “meat shield” for the party.
The Storm Herald Barbarian is no exception.
Where these Barbarians set themselves apart, however, is how versatile their features are.
Each feature gives three environmental options (desert, sea, and tundra) which determine what the feature’s effect is. Think of this as a type of further specialization for this subclass.
- Desert offers you more damage output, particularly against all who stand too close to you.
- Sea offers some bonus damage but also brings aquatic utility.
- Tundra provides extra defense and a bit of control.
So while your role is centered on standing front-and-center in melee combat, how you go about that will largely depend on what environment you choose.
(Don’t worry, we’ll go over each environment’s effects and talk about how to use them in the next section!)
Storm Herald Barbarian Abilities
The Storm Herald Barbarian’s features work a little differently than the other Barbarian subclasses.
At level 3 you choose an environment (Desert, Sea, or Tundra) that will determine the effect of each feature you gain. If you change your mind later, you can change what environment you’ve chosen when you gain a Barbarian level.
Any effects that require a saving throw have a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Constitution modifier.
With that covered, let’s get into the features you gain from this subclass!
Storm Aura (Level 3)
With Storm Aura, you summon a stormy, magical aura around you when you are raging. The aura reaches out 10 feet from you in all directions. (Note that total cover does block it though.)
Each aura has an effect that triggers when you activate Storm Aura. You can use this effect again as a bonus action while raging on each of your turns.
Related: Barbarian Rage in D&D 5e Explained
The only thing better than being able to deal some AoE damage is having it be GUARANTEED damage!
Now when you rage, you do so with the heat and fury of the mighty desert.
When this effect is activated, all other creatures in your aura take 2 fire damage each.
The damage increases when you reach certain levels in this class. It increases to 3 damage at level 5, 4 damage at level 10, 5 damage at level 15, and 6 damage at level 20.
This is especially good when you’re getting swarmed by smaller creatures like goblins, kobolds, twig blights, or the like.
Since it’s dealing damage to everything around you and you can do this every turn as a bonus action, the damage will add up quickly.
However, just be mindful that this damage applies to ALL OTHER CREATURES in your aura. That means that the heat is getting turned up for friends and foes alike.
So it’s wise to have your friends give you some extra space in combat!
Even the strongest ships have a healthy fear of storms. Countless vessels have been sunk by devastating waves, heavy winds, and we can’t forget the crashing lightning strikes!
When this effect is activated, you can choose one other creature you can see in your aura. That target must make a Dexterity saving throw.
The target takes 1d6 lightning damage on a failed save or half as much on a successful one.
The damage increases when you reach certain levels in this class, increasing to 2d6 at level 10, 3d6 at level 15, and 4d6 at level 20.
I won’t say this option is bad, but it’s not the best of the bunch.
Plenty of enemies have good Dexterity saves which means this isn’t the most reliable damage option. It’s better once it starts scaling but feels like an underpowered use of your bonus action until you hit level 15 where it becomes more viable for damage output.
Still, it’s an option for those who want to deal extra damage without possibly hurting their allies in the process.
If you’re looking for a defensive option, Tundra is an excellent choice.
When this effect is activated, each creature of your choice in your aura gains 2 temporary hit points.
The temporary hit points increase when you reach certain levels in this class, increasing to 3 at level 5, 4 at level 10, 5 at level 15, and 6 at level 20.
The icy spirits that come forth when you activate this effect grant extra defense to you and your allies in the form of temporary hit points.
Now, it might be easy to roll your eyes at 2 temporary hit points, but don’t underestimate this. You’re able to give this to each of your nearby allies every round!
Make sure you check out my guide to temporary hit points if you choose this option.
Storm Soul (Level 6)
At level 6, you gain additional benefits based on your chosen environment even when your aura isn’t active.
Keep in mind that the environmental benefit you get from this feature depends on what you’ve chosen for your Storm Aura feature.
If there’s an option you like from the Storm Soul feature, make sure to change your chosen environment when you level up!
Since each option is geared towards increasing your resistance against certain damage types or helping you function better in certain environments, it’s wise to get an idea of where your adventure is going.
If the party is about to begin a march through a hot and humid jungle, you’d probably feel a little silly if you picked up the tundra option.
Your attunement with the Desert heat now comes with extra benefits!
You gain resistance to fire damage and you don’t suffer the effects of extreme heat.
As an action you can touch a flammable object that isn’t being worn or carried by anyone else and set it on fire.
Fire damage is one of the most common damage types in D&D 5e. Gaining resistance to only take half damage from spells like fireball or a red dragon’s breath is very handy!
If your party does find themselves wandering through a desert or inside of a volcano, not having to worry about the effects of extreme heat will be lifesaving.
Plus, you can instantly ignite flammable objects. I’m sure you’ll use this responsibly, right?
Whether you find yourself standing against an enemy that likes to throw lightning bolts or have to take a dive into the murky depths of the sea, you’ll be fine with this option!
You gain resistance to lightning damage and can breathe underwater. You also gain a swimming speed of 30 feet.
Lightning damage isn’t particularly rare, but it’s also not as common as other damage types.
Use your best judgment on this one. If you’re going up against enemies that favor lightning attacks, like a cult of the storm god Talos or a blue dragon, this becomes much more useful.
If you do have to go underwater, it should be a walk in the park for you. Err… swim in the park?
Whatever the case may be, you won’t have to worry about drowning. Even better, gaining a swimming speed means you won’t have to worry about underwater enemies outmaneuvering you so easily!
However, it would still be a good idea to brush up on the rules of underwater combat if that’s the case!
If you’ve decided to embrace the frigid tundra, you can leave your heavy coat at home!
You gain resistance to cold damage and you don’t suffer the effects of extreme cold.
As an action, you can touch water and turn a 5-foot cube of it into ice which melts after 1 minute. This action fails if a creature is in the cube.
Cold damage is a bit more uncommon than fire, but it’s not necessarily rare. Most enemies that favor cold damage will be in similarly cold environments.
Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about the effects of extreme cold which means, with a little planning, it’s a win all around!
If your journey is taking you into a frigid environment, you’ll probably know enough in advance that you can switch to this option.
You can probably have some fun with the ability to freeze water, but I don’t know that it’s the reason to pick this option.
Shielding Storm (Level 10)
The same storms that can cause untold destruction are also capable of offering extra protection.
Now, your Storm Aura grants your allies extra defense based on your chosen environment.
Each creature of your choice has the damage resistance you gained from the Storm Soul feature while in your Storm Aura.
How useful this is depends entirely on your party composition and typical combat tactics. To receive the benefit, an ally must be within 10 feet of you and not behind total cover (i.e., in your aura).
If you’re typically on the frontline while the rest of the party launch spells and arrows from the backline, they won’t get as much use out of this.
But if you’ve got a couple of other melee-focused party members, they’ll appreciate the benefit for playing close together!
For example, if the white dragon starts to use its ice breath, everyone will be very glad you chose the Tundra environment!
Recommended: Full Guide to the Barbarian’s Reckless Attack
Raging Storm (Level 14)
With the Storm Herald’s capstone feature, Raging Storm, the storm you channel grows even mightier.
As with your previous features, the effect depends on what environment you have chosen.
Time to really turn up the heat!
Immediately after a creature in your aura hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to force that creature to make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature takes fire damage equal to half your Barbarian level.
If an enemy fails their Dexterity saving throw, they’ll be taking extra fire damage. When you get this feature, it’s 7 fire damage but it moves up to 10 once you hit level 20.
Keep in mind that this is using your reaction.
That means that you can only do this once per turn and that you won’t be able to make any attacks of opportunity (or anything else that would require your reaction) until your next turn.
Free damage is always nice and it’s unlikely that you’re getting opportunity attacks every round. Unless you’ve got the bad guy cornered and think he’s about to run, this isn’t a bad use of your reaction.
To stand against the fury of crashing sea waves requires more than a little strength!
When you hit a creature in your aura with an attack, you can use your reaction to force that creature to make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is knocked prone, as if struck by a wave.
Remember that attacks against prone enemies are made with advantage.
While the Barbarian’s Reckless Attack feature makes it easy for you to get advantage, this will let you make openings for your other melee party members to dogpile enemies.
As with the Desert option, this does require your reaction. Choose your target wisely!
The Sea environment has floundered as a bit of a niche pick up to this point, but this is a strong option that greatly helps you overwhelm your enemies.
Channeling the power of the tundra, when you tell an enemy to “freeze”, you mean it!
Whenever the effect of your Storm Aura is activated, you can choose one creature you can see in the aura. That creature must succeed on a Strength saving throw or its speed is reduced to 0 until the start of your next turn as magical frost covers it.
Unlike the other options, this doesn’t require your reaction. So being able to potentially lock down an enemy for free and stop them from running away can be very impactful.
If you’re feeling especially brutal, you can use the shove action to knock the biggest threat prone.
From there, reducing their movement to speed to 0 each turn means they won’t be able to get up. You and the rest of your party should have no trouble dogpiling them from there!
This option works very well if you and your party tend to be more tactical in combat.
There are countless ways to connect a Storm Herald Barbarian to an adventure and party.
They’ll definitely have an easy time fitting in with adventures that are more based on specific environments or elemental themes.
Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden and Princes of the Apocalypse immediately come to mind, but you can easily fit them into any environment or adventure.
Barbarians who choose the Path of the Storm Herald will certainly get along best with other nature-based characters like Druids, Rangers, or even Nature Clerics.
A primary consideration for a Storm Herald Barbarian is how they’ve gained these powers. Is it a cultural tradition that they’ve trained for or did these gifts awaken within them similar to that of a Sorcerer?
How do they view these gifts? Is it a sign that they have been chosen for some great destiny or did their tribe view it as an ill omen and send them packing?
I actually played a Storm Herald a few years back and went in on a lightning theme with the Sea environment.
The character was once a fairly normal guy but got struck by lightning thirteen times and somehow survived. It ultimately made him much stronger, but it caused a violent streak in him to awaken (hence becoming a Barbarian) and caused him to act incredibly unpredictably more often than not.
He was the weirdest mix of radical luck, both good and bad. For better or worse, my dice seemed to also echo this theme.
Maxxing out his Constitution ability score AND taking the Tough feat gave him a hilarious amount of hit points to offset his recklessness.
I miss that character.
But anyways, there’s plenty of room for creativity here. Storms don’t obey rules, so why should you?
Is the Storm Herald Barbarian Good?
There is a fair bit of versatility to the Storm Herald Barbarian depending on which environment you’ve chosen. You want to make sure that you are choosing an environment for your subclass features that will work well in the group.
But all in all, the Storm Herald Barbarian is a solid option that really builds on your role in the party as a Barbarian.
The features are fun and exciting but straightforward. That makes the Storm Herald Barbarian an especially appealing option for new players!
The Path of the Storm Herald may not be as mechanically spectacular as other Barbarian subclasses, but it’s far from being bad.
As for your Environment options, Tundra tends to be the most impactful option though Desert is a close second.
While I like the flavor of the Sea option, it’s noticeably weaker than the others. Though it might be more useful if you’re playing a campaign with more naval and/or underwater elements.
Related: Every Barbarian Subclass in D&D 5e Ranked!
Conclusion – Storm Herald Barbarian in D&D 5e
I’m not going to admit how many times I caught myself humming “Rock You Like a Hurricane” while writing this guide. Let’s just say it was more than I’m proud of.
But jokes aside, I hope you’ve found this guide to the Storm Herald Barbarian in D&D 5e helpful!
There’s a bit of “analysis paralysis” when it comes to this subclass. Since each feature changes based on which environment you’ve chosen, it can be a little easy to feel overwhelmed by the options.
I think I’m team Tundra when it comes to the Storm Herald Barbarian. What environment is your favorite?
Let’s chat in the comments!
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