The Barbarian hasn’t gotten too much love in its subclasses in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. However, that’s all about to change. In some of the closest to first party support a company can ask for, Darrington Press recently released the Tal’dorei Campaign Setting Reborn. While not official Wizards property, we feel that it’s so close that it might as well be! The Juggernaut is a beast of combat control, through enemies around like dolls as they rampage through combat. If you like the sound of that, let’s introduce you to the Tal’dorei Path of the Juggernaut 5E through this guide!
Homebrew Content: This subclass is not official WOTC material.
Unstoppable And Immovable: Juggernaut 5E
The Juggernaut has a healthy mix of defense and offense. It moves enemies around the battlefield to put them into the right position before becoming nearly invincible to attack themselves. They are one of the tankier Barbarian archetypes, and could be a reasonable replacement for Path of the Totem. However, it will require some party synergy to make it as strong as possible.
This Barbarian actually starts with two abilities. At level 3, while you’re raging, you can knock a creature 5 feet away from you when you hit a melee attack. If the creature is Huge or larger, they get a save based on your Strength to avoid getting shoved. At level 10, this ability upgrades to a 5 or 10 ft push.
This is a somewhat mediocre start. Pushes are weak, since you do not get an opportunity attack for forced movement. You can use this to reposition targets, but that requires additional positioning. For instance, you can circle around the back of a caster to push them into a Fighter’s arms. Or, you can push them into a wall and, occasionally, your DM will allow you to deal some extra damage?
Getting creative with this ability is worth considering, since it is weak as it is. The good news is that you’re allowed to push Huge and larger creatures with just a save DC. That’s rare! Usually you can’t affect huge creatures with forced movement. So, at least you can start grabbing dragons by the neck and shaking them around.
Overall, this doesn’t have significant utility. Soon, it will get an upgrade. Remember that you have this in case you need to push an enemy away from you. But, all that will really do is reduce the number of creatures you threaten for opportunity attacks.
Spirit of the Mountain
Thankfully, this is not the only ability you get! You also are immune to getting knocked prone or forcefully moved while you are raging. Situational as all get-out. Most creatures will not be able to interact with this ability at all. Getting knocked prone requires an opposed athletics save, something a raging Barbarian is very, very adept at. Otherwise, it is a magic thing. Admittedly, Barbarians are not as good against magic, so ignoring that saving throw can be handy.
Getting knocked on your butt is annoying, but only costs half of your movement. If you need to chase down a Mage, then you will love this ability to death… But, only if you are forced to get knocked prone. This does nothing against Dominate Person.
Forced movement is a bit more interesting. There is a decent amount of defensive magic which forces a creature to back up. This ability will prevent the mage from getting out of your opportunity attack range as easily.
Most mages will have different ways to avoid getting their faces smashed that don’t interact with this invulnerability at all. For instance, this does little against invisibility, or a teleport, or a large wall of force. This is pretty situational. When it comes up, it’ll be nice. Overall, a pretty bad level 3 toolkit compared to other Paths. Let’s see if it improves.
At level 6, you deal an additional 1d8 damage against constructs with melee attacks, and double your damage against objects and structures. Well, that’s not good. But, it’s not your only level 6. The issues with this ability are myriad. Targeted damage boosts are very underwhelming unless you are specifically fighting the named target. Constructs are fairly common, thankfully, so you will get this damage a lot. And, if you’re in Tal’dorei and your party is using a lot of Blood Magic, then you will benefit a lot from this. You’ll be the robo-smasher!
Doubling your melee damage against objects is a bit of a niche one. Doors will fall against your ax, but doors aren’t exactly a major threat that need to be taken care of instantly. You’re starting to deal enough damage to consider crashing right through a wall, but that’s more of a funny option than anything.
What this can be rather good with is breaking chains or bonds. Magical bonds have health, and a lot of it. Your swing might deal enough damage to break through it without needing to deal with locks. Remember that you have this. It’s rare for Barbarians to get utility and problem-solving abilities. However, it is situational as heck. Let’s hope the other level 6 is good!
Also at level 6, you can choose to enter a defensive stance at the start of every turn. As a free action, you may settle into this stance. This gives enemies disadvantage on attacks against you, gives you immunity to grappling, and your weapon attacks gain disadvantage. Finally! Something good!
This stance gives disadvantage on a ton of things, and that’s great! You can only apply disadvantage to one effect at a time, meaning that stacking disadvantage or advantage doesn’t do anything. So, let’s say that you’re blinded. This ability will nullify enemy advantage on attacks while granting you “disadvantage” while you already have it.
But, let’s say you don’t have any conditions. This ability still works well. If you use Reckless Attack, you remove the downside of your weapon attacks and the upside of disadvantage applied to attacks against you. You just get grapple immunity. However, you can no longer apply disadvantage to your melee attacks by any other means. And enemies have no way to gain advantage! This can prevent surprise situations while keeping you safe.
You do not need to apply this to every situation. You can use this only when you need it. You can still get Reckless Attack’s benefit by not applying this stance. Barbarians tend to get hit a lot because of how potent Reckless Attack is. This ability will get you some legitimately impressive “immunities” while being flexible enough to move around. And you don’t even need to rage to benefit from it!
At level 10, you finally get some benefit for shoving people around. You can spend your reaction whenever you push a creature 5 feet or more to leap next to them. Then, the creature needs to make a strength save or get knocked to the ground. In addition, if your push puts a creature within 5 feet of an ally, that ally can spend a reaction to make a melee attack against them.
This finally gives you some legitimate, definite power for shoving people around. No matter what, you can get a reaction to knock someone prone and be next to them. Unfortunately, since that spent your reaction, you no longer have your opportunity attack available. You are not as scary as you may hope you are, though your enemy might not know that. There are some situations where knocking them prone is better than threatening for an Opportunity Attack, though. If you push the enemy into your Fighter, for instance, they can threaten the opportunity attack. You can just knock them down so the beat-down can begin! You can also use this ability during your Extra Attack swings to knock them prone, and follow up with another attack. If this is your plan, you should maximize damage by not using Resolute Stance on the turn that you attempt this. And you won’t benefit from Reckless Attack.
All of this to say is this ability is still not that great… unless your friend can follow up. Knocking something prone next to a melee attacker means your friend will get a great round. If you push your foe next to your Rogue, then they’ll get to make a Sneak Attack! That’s a perfect combo! Be sure to talk to your DM about the order of reactions for this. If your DM wants the Rogue to make the attack first, see if the Rogue wants to be a Swashbuckler when they hit level 3. Otherwise, any Rogue can make use of your leap next to them.
If no Rogues are in the party, then almost any melee character benefits from a free, guaranteed attack with a high chance of Advantage. The only character who might not want to is one with Sentinel, since their reaction is so strong already. Work with the party, and every round that you swing can be a round where you and your party deal a ton of damage to a target.
The final ability, which you get at level 14, is extremely defensive. While you’re raging, you’re immune to movement speed slowdown. You are also immune to Frightened, Paralyzed, Prone, and Stunned. You can pop Rage as a bonus action while Frightened, Paralyzed, or Stunned to cleanse the conditions while you rage. Holy crap, what a strong ability! This is a huge reason to play this Path.
Barbarians are extremely weak to Wisdom saves, and three of these abilities are Wisdom-focused. Frightened and Paralyzed are especially popular, and both of them absolutely ruin a Barbarian’s day. This ability means that, while you are at your strongest, you get to ignore Wisdom saves against quite a few powerful ways to keep you at bay. You are still not immune to Charmed, which is a shame for Dominate, but you’ve got most of the other problem conditions.
But that’s not the only thing this ability does. When you rage, you get to cleanse a ton of statuses! All of those problem statuses can still stop your momentum when you aren’t raging. Now, you can spend a bonus action to just ignore them! The ability to act while Paralyzed or Stunned is extremely useful. You can surprise enemies and allies alike with your explosive ability to rush spellcasters down. This is one of the strongest level 14 abilities that a Barbarian can get. It’s a shame that it’s from a third party source!
Best Races for Juggernauts
Juggernauts benefit from all things that a standard Barbarian benefits from. High Strength, high Constitution, and racial traits that help you get in and stay angry! Because you are able to push the aggression so hard, you can make more aggressive races work.
The Orc, from Volo’s Guide to Monsters, has a great ability in Aggressive! As a bonus action, you can move towards a hostile creature, up to your movement speed. Since the Juggernaut has no inherent bonus actions, you can use this as a dash to keep your melee attack. The Orc also has +2 Strength and +1 Con, Darkvision, and two skill proficiencies, including Perception! Great race, especially now that the -1 Intelligence was removed from the official printing.
Alternatively, you can use the Duergar as the defensive option. Duergar, from Mordekainen’s Tome of Foes, only has +1 Strength and +2 Con. That’s not very aggressive. What is great, however, are its traits. Superior Darkvision and Duergar Resilience are both great. Resilience will end up becoming redundant, but resisting Charms is very, very strong. Combat Proficiency is redundant, Tool Proficiency is weak, and Stonecunning is very situational. However… Duergar Magic is fantastic, allowing you to become Large and have more control of the fight. Invisibility on a Barbarian is fairly fun as well. Both of these require Concentration, so they’re like “replacements” for Rage. And the Duergar’s Sunlight Sensitivity? Negated by Reckless Attack, and buffs the heck out of Resolute Stance.
The Mountain Dwarf takes our honorable mention. They have the stats, but not the racial abilities. Definitely a safer defensive option, if you don’t like Sunlight Sensitivity.
Conclusion – Our Take on the Juggernaut Barbarian
The Juggernaut is a great Tal’Dorei subclass, and honestly is right next to the other Barbarians in terms of balance. A great anti-mage and a relentless force of nature, the Juggernaut’s lack of damage can be fixed with good teamwork and placement. If you want a Barbarian that is more complex and decision-oriented then it first appears, this is for you!