Path of the Ancestral Shaman


It seems to me that some barbarian clans might be into worshipping their ancestors. Here's my take on such a Primal Path:

Path of the Ancestral Shaman

The Path of the Ancestral Shaman is a means by which a shamanic barbarian builds relationships with the spirits of deceased elders to gain insight and aid in current circumstances. A player thinking of choosing this path might want to select Wisdom instead of Constitution for the second-highest ability score when creating the character.

Much of that insight is gained through rites and meditation outside of battle, but even when an ancestral shaman enters a rage he or she may gain a preternatural insight that enables the granting of boons to allies and confounding the wits of enemies.

Wisdom is the spell-casting ability for any spells or spell-like abilities granted by this path.

The Warrior's Mentor

Starting when you reach 3rd level, while you are raging and immediately after successfully striking a creature, a small voice in your head points out a fleeting opportunity. As a bonus action, you may push the creature you hit up to 10 feet toward one of your allies. That ally may use its reaction to make an attack against the creature you pushed.

This feature cannot be used again until after you have completed a short or a long rest.

Also, you gain the ability to cast the augury spell (PH pg. 216) as a ritual once per day.

The Antics of Uncles

In every clan, there are individuals whose nature leads them to play the role of a clown or a trickster, and there have been more than a few of those in your family tree. At 3rd level, once per rage you may cast the bard’s cantrip vicious mockery as a bonus action (PH pg. 285). Use your character class level for the increases to the number of damage dice.

The Shrewdness of Grandmothers

The time which you have spent learning to attend to the voices of the spirits of your ancestors has brought you to a new level of subtle awareness. Upon reaching 6th level, you gain advantage with your Wisdom (Insight) checks, but only when you are not raging.

War-Councillor’s Wisdom

At 10th level, you gain proficiency with your Wisdom saving throws, along with proficiency for your Wisdom (Insight) checks. (The advantage effect as described by the Shrewdness of Grandmothers feature still holds.)

Whispers of Lingering Grief

Sometimes you may become a conduit for the spirits of long-dead mothers and fathers who still mourn the deaths of children lost to war.

Once a day after you have reached 14th level, the spell dissonant whispers (PH pg. 234) may emanate from you as a spell-like ability at a level equal to the highest spell slot level that a spell-casting class of your class level could use. The spirits find a target within range that you may not even be aware of at first, but which the spirits of grieving parents lash out at as they recognize a creature steeped in the same kind of bloodthirsty evil as the creatures that killed their young.

As an option, this feature may be triggered by the DM instead of by you in situations where the DM feels that circumstances warrant it. If the DM triggers the feature, it does not count as an action by you and such a usage would not count against the once per day limitation for the you, although the you can not use it again in the same battle. At the DM’s discretion, if you are not raging at the time, this can trigger your rage.

If the target of the dissonant whispers spell-like ability succeeds on its saving throw, it also knows that the attack originated from you. When the feature is triggered by the DM, you will be momentarily unaware of exactly what happened, only that the ancestral spirits just acted on their own, and you will not fully understand what they have done until the start of your next turn.
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A nice start; the fluff is solid and I don't see anything obviously broken. A lot of focus on utility, which is fine as the base class has solid combat effectiveness. My only criticism is that Grandmother's and Uncles come in at the same level.

Maybe some kind of summon similar to the spirit guardians spell in the lvl 17 slot?



Thank you for the observations and suggestions. Those, and the considerations in Unearthed Arcana's Class Design Variants regarding Barbarians, led me to switch The Shrewdness of Grandmothers and The Wily, Watching Warrior (which I renamed The Warrior's Mentor).

I kept the spell at 3rd level, as it fits both level-wise and as part of the dialogue between the PC and the ancestral mentor.

I dropped advantage for Wisdom saving throws from the Grandmothers as it struck me as being a bit overpowered. This switch also satisfies the UA's guideline that the 6th- and 10th-levels should be non-combat in their effects.

As to your thoughts on adding a summoning component at 14th level (I'm guessing you meant 14th, and not 17th, since there's no 17th-level Primal Path feature), the Whispers of Lingering Grief feature implies active participation by the ancestors who are striking out at the target through the PC. Perhaps I didn't make that clear enough.

While I was developing that feature, other versions of it made it possible for the DM to activate the feature instead of the player doing so, or either the DM or player activating the feature. In the end, I decided to keep the choice in the player's hands, but I'm open to other input.

Perhaps I should go back to the either/or option.


I just revised the Whispers of Lingering Grief feature to include an option for the DM to trigger the feature independently of the player's actions.