Uh oh, I’m already scared of that title! Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is really trying everything that Xanathar’s Guide couldn’t… Including making the wacky, chaotic barbarian! The Wild Magic Barbarian was corrupted by wild magic at some point in their life. Perhaps they were born with Sorcerer blood, or a fey cursed them when they were a child. Since Barbarians have such powerful emotions, their chaotic side pulls through to lance the battlefield with strange magics. If you’re willing to walk around with such a dangerous barbarian, then the Wild Magic Barbarian 5E guide is for you!
Force of Chaos: Wild Magic Barbarian 5E
The Wild Magic Barbarian is a pseudo-support build, specifically to help casters. This Primal Path pairs well with Clerics and are primarily for dealing area-of-effect damage and helping attack rolls… But what am I saying? The primary mechanic of this Barbarian is the Wild Magic table! This is a table of 8 magical effects that proc during your rage. All of them are beneficial in some way, unlike the Sorcerer’s table.
Don’t worry, this is not the only level 3 ability you get! This is a strange utility ability that allows you to basically cast Detect Magic.
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 a number of times equal to Proficiency Modifier. Afterwards, you need to take a long rest to get them back.
Being able to cast a cantrip up to 6 times per day… Not exactly exciting, and you can’t do too much with the information you get. Sure, you can help a Wizard identify a spell, but a Wizard will be better at it.
Still, having one more set of eyes can be useful, and if you’re alone for any reason… this is nice.
But now, we get to the fun stuff! This is also at level 3.
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.
So, roll a d8 and see what fun you get to have!
Wild Magic Table for Barbarians
|1||Shadowy tendrils lash around you. Each creature of your choice that you can see within 30 feet of you must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 1d12 necrotic damage. You also gain 1d12 temporary hit points.|
|2||You teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space you can see. Until your rage ends, you can use this effect again on each of your turns as a bonus action.|
|3||An intangible spirit, which looks like a flumph or a pixie (your choice), appears within 5 feet of one creature of your choice that you can see within 30 feet of you. At the end of the current turn, the spirit explodes, and each creature within 5 feet of it must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d6 force damage. Until your rage ends, you can use this effect again, summoning another spirit, on each of your turns as a bonus action.|
|4||Magic infuses one weapon of your choice that you are holding. Until your rage ends, the weapon’s damage type changes to force, and it gains the light and thrown properties, with a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet. If the weapon leaves your hand, the weapon reappears in your hand at the end of the current turn.|
|5||Whenever a creature hits you with an attack roll before your rage ends, that creature takes 1d6 force damage, as magic lashes out in retribution.|
|6||Until your rage ends, you are surrounded by multi colored, protective lights. You gain a +1 bonus to AC, and while within 10 feet of you, your allies gain the same bonus.|
|7||Flowers and vines temporarily grow around you. Until your rage ends, the ground within 15 feet of you is difficult terrain for your enemies.|
|8||A bolt of light shoots from your chest. Another creature of your choice that you can see within 30 feet of you must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 1d6 radiant damage and be blinded until the start of your next turn. Until your rage ends, you can use this effect again on each of your turns as a bonus action.|
There’s a ton of effects here, but there are some pretty standard patterns.
- 5/8 of these abilities are aggressive, dealing damage to an opponent. All damaging abilities attack a creature at a range of between 20 and 30 feet.
- 3/8 of these abilities are defensive, keeping opponents from moving or improving your survivability. This includes the offensive Shadowy Tentacles ability, which deals damage and gives you 1d12 Temporary Hitpoints. You can argue that the Bolt of Light, which blinds opponents, is also defensive (which puts this at 4/8).
- 1/8 of these abilities increase your mobility (the teleport one).
You’re most likely going to want to start your Rage while within 15-20 feet of opponents; most of your benefits are going to be hurting a creature or two of your choice within that range. If not, then you’ll want your vines and difficult terrain to start taking effect ASAP.
And please read the effect fully! A bunch of the damaging effects allow you to spam it as a Bonus Action each round (specifically, 2, 3, and 8 become a bonus action). They are all fairly good use of your Bonus Action, so worth thinking about.
This is the only other ability that you get that doesn’t strictly use the Wild Magic table. At level 6, you can spend an action to touch a creature and give them a benefit;
- 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 use this a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus per long rest.
These are… fine benefits? Interesting for a support barbarian. The first benefit adds an average of 2 to attack rolls and ability checks for a staggering 10 minutes. That’s a ton! That’s a 10% bonus to succeed on a given attack roll or ability check. And theoretically, it stacks with Bardic Performance! That’s pretty awesome, and lasts long enough to really make an impact.
The second ability is a little bit less useful, but at the same time can save a party. The Cleric makes the best use of low level spell slots, but you can only give a cleric this benefit once per day. The Cleric can then use spells like Shield of Faith or Healing Word to keep the party alive. Of course, a Wizard or Sorcerer can still make some use of their lower level spells. Talk with your party to determine who can make the best use of this… but you can literally never use this on a Warlock. Sad days!
Back to chaos! At level 10, you’re going to make enemies regret hitting you! Or not, either way.
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.
If you rolled Tentacles, you always want to use this. Tentacles only procs once, and doesn’t do much afterwards. Otherwise… it’s worth thinking about.
For example, let’s say you rolled 4 (throwable force weapon). That’s a really situational ability, so it might be worthwhile to change to a new ability. However, if you’re getting great use of 3, then you might not want to lose that Area of Effect damage and risk getting something less useful. Since all of these Wild Magic effects are fairly long-lasting and useful in their own right, you’ll want to search for the one that’s best for the situation.
Now, the downside; this takes your reaction. Spending a reaction to not get a Wild Magic effect that you want is crushing. You’d really prefer to have something like an opportunity attack instead. Think about how desperately you need the magic effect; like if you need to dig for the Teleport, for example, to avoid death.
The final ability of the Wild Magic Barbarian is quite awesome! At level 14, you get a ton more choice for your Wild Magic.
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.
So, you roll twice. That means you can avoid getting something awful for the situation (like the Thrown Weapon while underwater, or the Force Reflective damage during a chase). This increases your versatility by a lot, and makes it so that you can get what you’re looking for, both at the start of the rage and when using Unstable Backlash.
But what am I doing? I’m ignoring the most important part; you have a 1 in 8 chance to choose your Wild Surge!
That’s huge! You have a chance to guarantee that you get exactly what you want. This ability makes raging so much better, as well as making Unstable Backlash realistically usable. Spending a reaction to get 2 options (or even a 12.5% chance to get exactly what you want) is well worth it.
Best Races for Wild Magic Barbarians
The Wild Magic Barbarian does not need any stats more than any other Barbarian. Strength and Constitution tend to be exceedingly useful. Strength is essential so that the Wild Magic Barbarian can deal damage (outside of Wild Surge). Constitution is great for your health, and also makes sure that enemies can’t resist your Blind or Area of Effect attack.
The Warforged, from Eberron: Rising from the Last War, make fantastic Barbarians. +2 Constitution, +1 Float is great, allowing you to boost Constitution and Strength. Warforged gain +1 to armor and fantastic immunities and resistances, making them fantastic tanks. If that wasn’t enough, they even get a skill proficiency or tool proficiency! That’s really useful. And, you can say you were built out of Wild Magic! That’s a fantastic story to tell, and makes for a chaotic robot that can have a great background.
Earth Genasi have less utility than the Warforged, but have some actual magic. With +2 Constitution, +1 Strength, they still have plenty of durability and damage. Earth Walk is fine for dungeon crawling, since it allows you to avoid difficult terrain if it’s rock or stone. Pass without Trace is a fantastic spell, as long as your party is willing to chill out for a second. And Genasi like Wild Magic, since it’s closer to their Genie parents.
Conclusion – Our Take on the Wild Magic Barbarian 5E
The Wild Magic Barbarian is weird. It has a bunch of situational abilities that it can’t choose when to use. That doesn’t make it bad, or even mediocre; it has actual ranged potential and can ping monsters that no other Barbarian can with force damage. But, it’s Wild Magic doesn’t scale in damage or anything at all… So, Storm Herald might just be superior. That being said, if you’re looking for some chaos in your life, and want the excellent +2 to Attack Rolls for 10 minutes, this is a great choice.