You’ve got the power!
You’ve got the might!
Get ready for battle!
Beat the Black Knight!Black Knight 2000
This build originally appeared as the Totembreaker, an example build for the Path of the Totem Warrior Handbook. While it’s a fine build, we’ve since decided to avoid heavy multiclassing in the subclass handbook example builds. Maybe you’ve seen this build already, and maybe it’s new to you. If it’s not new to you, then maybe you’ll enjoy the new build in the Totem Warrior handbook, What is Nature’s Call?
The build itself is a very strange way to play a Barbarian/Paladin mutliclass with Totem Warrior and Oathbreaker. Using some oddities of the Totem Warrior’s Bear Totem, we still gain some benefits of Raging while wearing Heavy Armor. We then use Aura of Hate to add Charisma to damage, which makes up for not getting Rage damage in our Armor. Additionally, while Rage prevents spellcasting, Divine Smite is not a spell. This culminates in a rather resilient force of might on the battlefield, with high AC and resistance to all damage types, ready to tear into its foes: The Totembreaker.
Totembreaker Build – Scourge of Nature
Battle doesn’t need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose.
You don’t ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don’t ask why I fight.Black Knight (MtG)
We are angry. We are the howling fury of nature, the darkness of all the wronged wildlife. We are the Scourge of Nature.
Playstyle and Tactics
So Rage is still funny. We can’t cast spells, but Smite is not a spell. So naturally we’re a Paladin. And if the name of the build didn’t give it away, we’re an Oathbreaker to add our Charisma mod to damage rolls. But we’re also a Totem Barbarian, so we can add Rage Damage to damage rolls.
We’re not trying to be ‘the Tank’ here, we’re trying to be hard to kill and do a lot of damage. We’re going to sacrifice a tiny bit of damage to gain a bit of utility, but the trade is worth it.
Most often this build will stick to medium armor to keep the rage damage, but has the option to wear heavy armor. We have to be careful though, with only 10 Dexterity, medium isn’t going to be at full strength. An easy way to decide when is switching armor when you’re out of rages for the day.
We’re going to be a Gem Dragonborn and choose the +2/+1 option.
|Point Buy||Racial Adjustments||Level 20|
We’re going to be a Gem Dragonborn and choose Emerald because that fills the Psychic resistance hole in Bear Totem. The Breath Weapon being Psychic typed is also very strong, and the minute of flight can be useful in a pinch.
Alternatively, we could choose Kalashtar. We would give up the breath weapon and temporary flight for Advantage on all Wisdom saves which is very tempting to just shrug off one of the more dangerous save categories.
Our Background is Outlander, granting us proficiency with Athletics and Survival. Outlander also gives us a tool and a language, the choices of which are campaign dependent.
Skills and Tools
We’re going to take the first level in Paladin, which gives us the opportunity to take Persuasion and Intimidation. As we level in Totem Barbarian, we’ll gain the Primal Knowledge optional feature twice, gaining Animal Handling and Perception. We’ll also be taking Aspect of the Tiger, granting Stealth and Acrobatics. With two skills from our background, that gives us a total of 8 skills.
If you’re not using the Primal Knowledge Optional Class Feature, 6 skills is still all of the ones we already decided on.
We’re multiclassing Paladin 8 and Barbarian 12, but in a strange order. We’re taking the first level in Paladin and then six levels into Barbarian before we go back and take our other seven Paladin levels. Finally we take the other six Barbarian levels to finish off the character.
Barbarian fourth, character level five: We take an ASI in Strength here putting us at 18. We just want to keep up with fundamental math.
Paladin fourth, character level ten: Mounted Combatant. We’re taking this now because we’re going to learn Find Steed one level later. We could also purchase a mount to use the benefits until then.
Paladin eighth, character level fourteen: Resilient (Constitution). Our Con score has been 15 since creation, so we take the moment to round it off and gain Proficiency.
Barbarian eighth, character level 16: We grab another ASI for Strength here to get ourself to 20. This is far behind the Fundamental Math, but with Reckless Attack the damage bonus from Aura of Hate it’s not a problem.
Barbarian twelve, character level 20: We take one more ASI, in Charisma this time, pushing our damage bonus from Aura of Hate and our save bonus from Aura of Protection up from +3 to +4.
|Levels||Rages (Damage)||Feats and Features||Notes and Tactics|
|1 – Paladin 1||–||All Armor and Shields|
Simple and Martial Weapons
Saves: Wis, Cha
Lay on Hands
|We’re starting here for two major reasons:|
While we won’t commonly wear Heavy Armor, having the option is nice.
Paladin gives us Wisdom save Proficiency.
An alternate build I made starting Barbarian finished with Str, Con, and Cha proficiencies, but this build ends Con, Wis, Cha so it’s better protected since those saves are more common.
We start with chain mail, a shield, and a battleaxe. These will serve us well, setting our AC at 18 for now and doing 1d8+Str for damage, with the option to be Versatile for 1d10+Str.
We’ll eventually want to have both plate and half-plate for options, depending on the day, but those cost quite a bit of gold.
|2 – Barbarian 1||2 (+2)||Unarmored Defence||We take our first Barbarian level and gain Rage. We also gain Unarmored Defence, but we’re going to wear armor so we just ignore that.|
|3 – Barbarian 2||2 (+2)||Reckless Attack|
|We can now swing with Advantage while being easier to hit, and should most of the time as we’ll have resistance to common attack damage now and all damage at next level.|
We also have Advantage on most Dexterity saves.
Go into melee and swing with Advantage; our Rage should keep us safe enough at these levels
|4 – Barbarian 3||3 (+2)||Primal Path|
Path of the Totem Warrior
|Now we can stand up to all damage. Notably, the Bear totem benefits function even while wearing Heavy Armor.|
If we needed to have better armor for some reason, we could still gain this benefit by Raging and we’d only lose Rage Damage and Strength Save and Check Advantage.
We also gain proficiency in Animal Handling because Mounted Combat is shenanigans.
Spirit Seeker gives us a few ritual spells. It’s cool I guess.
|5 – Barbarian 4||3 (+2)||ASI: Strength +2 (16->18)||We’re doing this to keep us on the Fundamental Math curve. We’ll be taking some feats before we get around to pushing to 20, but Reckless Attack will make up for the lost attack bonus.|
|6 – Barbarian 5||3 (+2)||Extra Attack|
|A level late, but swinging twice per action is still welcome.|
Fast Movement is nice to have, even though we’re going to pivot towards mounted combat later.
|7 – Barbarian 6||4 (+2)||Aspect of the Beast|
|The Aspects of the Beast are all utility options that don’t directly affect combat. As such the decisions are mostly flavor, but we’ll pick Tiger because extra skill proficiencies are the most useful of the list.|
|8 – Paladin 2||4 (+2)||Fighting Style (Defence)|
|We gain our fighting style, and we choose Defence to shore up our AC a bit, but we could also take Duelling and hold a Shield. In particular, when we start riding a mount in combat we can wield a Lance in one hand to apply the Duelling bonus damage. We’ll also carry a longsword, warhammer, and war pick for combat on foot as those are all 1d8 while one-handed and cover the three standard damage types.|
We gain Paladin Spellcasting. As a prepared Divine caster we can freely choose from the entire list daily, so we’re not locked into spell selections. We should, however, avoid taking spells which require Concentration; we’ll be Raging too much for that. Instead, take spells that provide some utility such as Cure Wounds or Purify Food and Drink.
Either way, we’ll be using those Spell Slots as Smite Slots instead. We’ll have 2 uses of +2d8 damage at this level, and we suggest using Reckless Attack to fish for Crits to Smite on. The choice to Smite on a given attack can be made after you see the results of the attack roll and, since it’s “extra damage,” the dice will be multiplied on a crit which is why this tactic is such a staple for Paladins.
|9 – Paladin 3||4 (+2)||Divine Health|
Sacred Oath (Oathbreaker)
|Immune to Disease. This is great because we live in the woods and are surrounded by nature. Dirty, disgusting, disease-riddled nature. Boil your water, campers.|
Oathbreaker gives us two Channel Divinities. Channel Divinity is not a spell. We can Rage and call down the Wrath.
Control Undead is a neat thing that we might find occasional use for.
Dreadful Aspect allows us to invoke fear in our enemies. The Frightened condition causes Disadvantage on attack rolls. If we swing recklessly, our frightened foes can’t gain Advantage to hit us, instead only cancelling their Disadvantage.
|10 – Paladin 4||4 (+2)||Feat: Mounted Combatant||At this level we take Mounted Combatant because we’re almost able to cast Find Steed.|
Alternatively, we could pick up Polearm Master or Great Weapon Master here if you don’t want to ride a mount in combat. Both provide equally valid options for playing this build, especially in campaigns where being mounted is less viable.
|11 – Paladin 5||4 (+2)||Extra Attack|
2nd Level Spells
|We already have Extra Attack so we don’t get Extra Extra Attack.|
We do however get a pair of +3d8 Smite Slots. Oh and we can cast Find Steed. Since we’re an Oathbreaker, making the steed fiendish means it will get a damage bonus when our Aura of Hate comes online in two levels. This won’t be useful while we’re riding it, but no one said that you were required to ride your mount in combat.
|12 – Paladin 6||4 (+2)||Aura of Protection||We and all our allies in 10 feet gain +3 (our current Cha mod) to all saves. This helps us shrug off most effects.|
|13 – Paladin 7||4 (+2)||Aura of Hate||We get +3 (our current Cha mod) damage to all attacks. So do all Undead or Fiends within 10 feet of us, such as our fiendish horse from Find Steed.|
|14 – Paladin 8||4 (+2)||Feat: Resilient (Constitution)||We push our Con from 15 to 16, giving us a +3 modifier and gaining save Proficiency.|
|15 – Barbarian 7||4 (+2)||Feral Instinct||Advantage on Initiative rolls and enter Rage to not be surprised. Great features. Going first is pretty helpful.|
|16 – Barbarian 8||4 (+2)||ASI: Strength +2 (18->20)||We finally got our 20 Strength.|
Alternatively, we could put that ASI into Charisma. Because we’re an Oathbreaker we don’t lose damage by doing so, we only lose +1 to hit, which is slightly offset by our Recklessness. The benefit of ending with 20 Charisma is one more +1 on all saves.
|17 – Barbarian 9||4 (+3)||Brutal Critical 1||This feature is only ok. Even with Advantage, we don’t crit often enough for it to matter and even with a d12 damage die the improvement to your DPR is minor.|
|18 – Barbarian 10||4 (+3)||Spirit Walker|
|We gain another ritual, Commune with Nature, and we gain Perception proficiency.|
|19 – Barbarian 11||4 (+3)||Relentless Rage||So this is super not dying powers. At this level, our Con save is +12 and will be +13 next level with the Charisma bump. That means the first time we have to roll this, we can’t fail, and the second time we only fail on less than 2. This is why we took Resilient (Constitution).|
|20 – Barbarian 12||5 (+3)||ASI: Charisma +2 (16->18)||All our saves go up by 1, all our damage rolls go up by 1. This boosts Relentless Rage so that we only fail on Nat 1s for the first two rolls, and still can pass with a 7 or more on the third save.|
Here at 20, our saves are:
(Advantage when Raging and not in heavy armor)
(Advantage Danger Sense)
|INT +3||WIS +9||CHA +14|
Our AC is:
(Reminder: 10 Dexterity)
(18 with a Shield)
(17 with a Shield)
(21 with a Shield)
(20 with a Shield)
These are our damage calculations. We’re assuming Smite with a 2nd level slot on crits.
(Assuming Dueling Style)
|DPR with Extra Attack|
|Mounted Lance||1d12+5[Str]+4[Cha]+3[Rage]+2[Duel]||20.5||30.65 (43.78)|
|Mounted Lance -Heavy Armor||1d12+5[Str]+4[Cha]+2[Duel]||17.5||26.75 (38.51)|
|Longsword – Heavy Armor||1d8+5[Str]+4[Cha]+2[Duel]||15.5||23.75 (34.22)|
|Breath Weapon||4d10||22 (11 on a save)|
For comparison, a 20 level Barbarian Raging with 24 Strength:
|Greataxe GWM||1d12+7+4+10||27.5||28.15 (42.52)|
|Longsword 2H||1d10+7+4||16.5||26.95 (35.23)|