Most effective way of improving survivability for an Ancestral Guardian Barbarian?

The Path of the Ancestral Guardian Barbarian (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, p. 9-10) is an extremely powerful barbarian. It pretty much makes your allies invulnerable against an enemy boss.

But it does nothing for your own health. It will greatly incentivize enemies to take you down first to be rid of your annoying Guardian benefits.

Assuming I’m currently level 3 as an Ancestral Guardian, and leveling soon to 4, my stats are average (point buy), and I have no healing from allies, what is the best way to maximize my survivability for fights to come?

  • I’m willing to look into multiclassing, if there’s a valid strategy there.
  • I don’t expect anyone else to grab any healing abilities.
  • I’m not interested in specific magical items. (Potions and other common/uncommon magic items are fine)
  • I expect the campaign to last until about level 10.
  • By character level 10, I would like to have at least 6 levels of Barbarian
  • Emphasis on surviving against bosses, if possible.
  • Expected about 2 combat encounters per day.

If it helps refine your answer, my party consists of:

  • A Champion Fighter (who is very cowardly and selfish, doesn’t tank much)
  • A Fey Warlock (fairly standard, supportive player)
  • An Evocation Wizard (who lives to blow stuff up)
  • A Ranger/Rogue (who uses stealth and long range)

Can a Zealot Barbarian apply Radiant rage damage?

Rage says

When you make a melee weapon attack using Strength, you gain a bonus to the damage roll that increases as you gain levels as a barbarian, as shown in the Rage Damage column of the Barbarian table.

And a Zealot Barbarian can

At 3rd level, while you’re raging, the first creature you hit on each of your turns with a weapon attack takes extra damage equal to 1d6 + half your barbarian level. The extra damage is necrotic or radiant; you choose the type of damage when you gain this feature.

Can the rage damage be radiant/necrotic, or does it have to be part of the weapon’s damage die? Is Divine Fury part of the weapon damage die?

Can a Totem Warrior Barbarian choose a second Totem Spirit in place of an Aspect of the Beast?

Is it possible for a Totem Warrior Barbarian to select another totem from level 3 instead of the Aspect of the Beast at level 6?

At 6th level, you gain a magical benefit based on the totem animal of your choice. You can choose the same animal you selected at 3rd level or a different one. (Player’s Handbook)

This means that it’s possible for a Barbarian who selected the bear on level 3 (resistance) to e.g. select the eagle on level 6 (eyesight).

However, is it possible to select the eagle level 3 upgrade (Dash bonus action) on the Barbarian level 6 upgrade, when the bear was selected on the level 3 upgrade? As the Totem Spirit of level 3 is "lower" in some terms, I wouldn’t mind to allow it. This would create a level 6 Barbarian with resistance and Dash as a bonus action, a pretty fast tank character (for example).

And is this also valid for level 14 Totemic Attunement, thus allowing to select another (not yet selected) totem from the previous levels?

Does a Barbarian need to be in combat to rage?

From the PHB, page 48, under the “Rage” section:

In battle, you fight with primal ferocity. On your turn, you can enter a rage as a bonus action.

Does this imply that a Barbarian can only enter a rage whilst in combat? And if not, does there need to be an impetus for the rage to occur, or can it be on a whim? For instance, if my Barbarian decides she wants to rage to impress the lord of a manor with her enhanced strength, is that an acceptable condition to start raging?

Spear mastery or Polearm master feat for a Barbarian?

First off so no one branches too far out, the character I am making will be a human variant totem barbarian (bear all the way through). Also I will not take any more feats after the one I pick to start with so no polearm/ sentinel comboing. This are character choices that are set in stone for me.

I will either do spear mastery and switch between dual wielding spears and throwing one and then using two hands with the other spear, or I’ll go polearm master and flavor a glaive as a great spear but it will stay a glaive in all but name so no throwing range, no Versatile.

Which one, given these restrictions, is the better choice for damage and battle field control?

Is dual-wielding superior to great weapons for a raging Barbarian?

This question is somewhat two-fold. I am in the process of creating a high-level Barbarian and am trying to determine if it makes more sense to take use dual weapons and capitalize on the additional damage that rage deals versus using great weapons, which benefit more from crits.

The Barbarian’s primal path is Zealot, so he has a revolving door with death. For the purposes of race, we are taking advantage of the revolving door and using the Reincarnate spell liberally. From our Session 0, the character has died and been reincarnated 3 times and is currently a human. I’ve encouraged the DM to kill this character whenever he wants and we’ll reincarnate him as something else. To simplify the complexities of changing race constantly, we are using the following house rules for reincarnation:

  • Retain your original race’s stat bonuses, you lose all the other features.
  • Gain the features of your new race, but none of the stat bonuses.

Currently, the character is a human, but his original incarnation was half-elf. Due to the everchanging nature of his race, assume for the purposes of assessing this, that racial features that improve damage, like Savage Attacks, aren’t applicable since the character could get Worfed at anytime.

The following assumptions should be considered:

  • The character does NOT have the the Dual Wielder feat.
  • The character does NOT have the Great Weapon Master feat.
  • If dual wielding, the character would use a weapon that dealt 1d6 in the main hand and 1d6 in the off-hand (I don’t believe there are any light weapons capable of dealing more than 1d6 damage).
  • Character has 18 Strength.
  • For the purposes of damage calculation, assume the character is raging.
  • No multi-classing.
  • Almost always fighting recklessly for Advantage.
  • Assume the character’s race is not one that provides a bonus to damage or critical damage (like half-orcs)
  • Do not account for plusses due to magic weapons.
  • ASIs are used in a manner that doesn’t increase damage. For example, on boosting Con or Dex. Or on feats that don’t increase damage.
  • Strength adjustments at level 20 should be considered since it is a class feature.

With those assumptions in mind, can someone advise me on which fighting style, on average, deals more damage per round considering the damage bonuses from the Barbarian class features? If the damage optimization changes, at what levels does that occur?

Can a multiclassed Dreams druid/Storm Herald barbarian activate their Tundra Storm Aura while in Wild Shape?

In my next campaign, I will be the solo healer, as a Circle of Dreams Druid.

I hope that will provide enough Goodberry and other healing skills to keep the party alive. But I really want to fight too. Because of that, I searched how can I be more supportive and be good in combat too. And I decided to multi-class with the Path of the Storm Herald barbarian. But now I am a little bit confused about whether I can always use Barbarian features as I thought.

I want to do some Tundra Storm Aura-raging while I am in my Wild Shape. Is that possible?

I need that feature to support my teammates with temp-HP while I am in the fight.

Can a Barbarian self-inflict damage to keep raging?

In DnD 5e the barbarian rage is somewhat different from it’s 3.5e counterpart, but the thing that most confused me is the need to be actively part of mayhem and destruction at every round to keep being angry (emphasis mine):

Your rage lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are knocked unconscious or if your turn ends and you haven’t attacked a hostile creature since your last turn or taken damage since then. You can also end your rage on your turn as a bonus action.

Now the question is, can a Barbarian (with or without shield) punch/stomp/bite/headbutt itself to recieve damage and maintain rage? To me, it seems it’s possible by RAW, but I’m not sure about RAI if an unmissable attack (I refuse to think that you can miss hitting yourself if you are not heavily drunk) with the lowest melee damage possible from a Barbarian can keep you raging for the full duration.