How To Build A Path Of The Zealot Barbarian In DND.

Dungeons & Dragons barbarians are fun to roleplay. As angry, battle-hardened behemoths, barbarians trade emotional complexity for toughness, loyalty, and an indomitable spirit. Perhaps the most indestructible of all the barbarian subclasses is the Path of the Zealot. These devoted warriors channel their faith in battle, allowing them to hit harder, inspire allies, and even cheat death itself.


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The Path of the Zealot barbarian is a great choice for players who love diving into the thick of battle with reckless abandon. This subclass can output decent damage, is mechanically fairly straightforward, and has excellent odds of surviving any combat encounter.


Path Of The Zealot Subclass Overview

Split image of two DND Barbarians holding weaponry

After choosing Path of the Zealot at third level, you gain Divine Fury. This ability allows you to channel your devotion into your weapon strikes. While Raging, the first creature you hit with a weapon during your turn takes an extra 1d6 + half your barbarian level damage. The damage is either necrotic or radiant.

You can choose which damage type Divine Fury uses when you first select this path.

Once you start down the Path of the Zealot at third level, you gain Warrior of the Gods. Your devotion makes it easier for you to come back to life. If your allies know any spell (such as Raise Dead or Revivify) that brings you back to life, they no longer need any material components to cast.

With Warrior of the Gods, your zealot barbarian is almost impossible to kill. If there’s a cleric in your party, have them learn Revivify early. It’ll make your barbarian unstoppable.

At sixth level, your spiritual devotion has become so intense that it protects you in the form of Fanatical Focus. Fanatical Focus allows you to reroll a failed saving throw while raging. You can use this ability once per Rage and you must use the result of the new role.

At tenth level, your intense zealotry begins to inspire those around you. The ability Zealous Presence means you can unleash an inspirational battle cry as a bonus action. This battle cry can inspire up to ten creatures who can hear you within 60 feet. These creatures gain advantage on attack rolls and saving throws until the beginning of your next turn.

You can use Zealous Presence once per long rest.

Starting at fourteenth level, your devotion is so intense you can shrug off killing blows. With the ability Rage Beyond Death, you no longer fall unconscious during a Rage when your hit points fall below zero. You still make death saving throws.

However, you can’t die until your Rage ends. And even then – you only die if your hit points are at zero at the end of your Rage.

Best Species For Path Of The Zealot Barbarians

Dungeons & Dragons - Party of four exploring the Outlands around Sigil
The Spire by One Pixel Brush

Being medium-sized at a minimum allows your barbarian to use large weapons and acts as a bulwark against your relatively low armor class (AC). Choosing a species with some innate resistances helps your zealot to balance out their magical shortcomings. Gaining some durability from your choice of species is also welcome.

There are no right and wrong choices when it comes to species. But some are more mechanically optimized than others. You should pick whatever species of zealot barbarian that puts a smile on your face. That said, the following choices are safe bets for a solid gameplay experience.

Species

Description

Centaur

Centaurs’ excellent movement speed and Charge ability allow zealots to get straight into battle. Raging before Charging into combat also lets you use a Hoof attack as a bonus action.

Goliath

Goliaths are thematically perfect for barbarians. But their +2 to Strength and +1 to Constitution also bolster a barbarian’s most crucial stats. A goliath’s Stone Endurance means you can make a reaction roll (d12 + Constitution modifier), reducing that number from the incoming damage.

Half-Orc

Half-Orcs have ideal stats, gain extra damage on critical hits, and are proficient in Intimidation. Intimidation gives your zealot some opportunities for fun roleplay outside of combat. Goliaths are also resistant to cold and naturally proficient in Athletics.

Variant Human

Choosing variant human lets you add +1 to Strength and Constitution. There’s also a free feat. There are lots of feats that synergize well with the zealot’s abilities. Great Weapon Master and Polearm Master are two of the best.

Mountain Dwarf

Mountain dwarfs get the standard +2 to Constitution of all dwarves. But as the largest of the dwarven folk, mountain dwarves also get +1 to Strength. Dwarven Resilience benefits a front-line fighter like the zealot, and Darkvision is often useful.

Scourge Aasimar

Scourge Aasimar offers a Constitution boost, two resistances, a cantrip, and the ability to self-heal once per day. Their Radiant Consumption ability does damage that stacks with your zealot’s Divine Fury.

Best Ability Scores For Path Of The Zealot Barbarians

A human noble, a Dwarf barbarian, a Human Soldier, and an Orc soldier, from Dungeons & Dragons

Regardless of the subclass, most barbarians need to focus on Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity. The zealot is no different. To perform at their best, path of the zealot barbarians should be powerful, durable, and agile. This character needs to hold up in the thick of battle.

Intelligence and Charisma are less important stats for barbarians, with Wisdom having slightly more utility (for saving throws, etc.). Again, build the zealot you want to play. But use the following stat spread as a guideline for a mechanically optimal build.

Strength

Dexterity

Constitution

Intelligence

Wisdom

Charisma

15(+2)

14(+2)

15(+2)

8(-1)

10(0)

8(-1)

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Slit image of two DND Barbarians in battle

Unlock the true might of your Path of the Juggernaut barbarian with these recommended feats.

Feat

Description

Alert

Alert gives you +5 to Initiative. This bonus means the hard-hitting zealot can often hit first in battle, evening the odds. Taking the Alert feat also means you can’t be surprised.

Great Weapon Master

When you take Great Weapon Master, you can choose to take a -5 to attack rolls in exchange for a +10 damage if the attack hits. (When using a heavy weapon you’re proficient with.) You also get to make a melee attack as a bonus action after a critical hit or reducing an opponent’s HP to 0.

Mage Slayer

Mage Slayer lets you make opportunity attacks against any creature that casts a spell within 5 feet of you. This can help take out magical threats quickly. Mage Slayer also grants advantage on saving throws against hostile spells.

Polearm Master

Polearm Master allows you to make a bonus attack each time you swing a polearm. This feat also gives you opportunity attacks when an enemy enters your reach.

Sentinel

With Sentinel, you can make opportunity attacks when an enemy attacks anyone other than you within 5 feet. In addition, creatures that provoke opportunity attacks from you have their speed reduced to 0.

Tough

When you take Tough, you increase your max HP by a number equal to twice your level. You also increase your max HP by 2 every time you level up from now on.

Best Starting Equipment For Path Of The Zealot Barbarians

D&D Art of a knight like character fighting a dragon
D&D Art And Arcana Art Book cover image via Wizards Of The Coast

The best weapon for your character should depend on their backstory as much as any other factor. But there are some weapons that work better than others. Anything compatible with Great Weapon Master like greatswords, greataxes, and mauls helps you to optimize damage output.

Greatswords just about edge out greataxes for damage potential. Greatswords use 2d6 for damage compared to the greataxe’s 1d12. Rolling 2d6 means it’s impossible to get a one.

Hand axes are also a classic choice for barbarians. Because they are light weapons, you can make an additional attack with the second axe as a bonus action. You can upgrade to heavier axes later by taking the feat Dual Wielder.

Barbarians can benefit from Unarmored Defense while using a shield. Their strength means these characters can wield a greatsword with one hand, freeing up the other for a shield.

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