5e Character Archetypes: Path of the Living Weapon (Barbarian)
Path of the Living Weapon
You will become the perfect weapon. By becoming the very avatar of war, changing every part of yourself for combat, you will achieve the perfect peace. You will be the last monster, the last evil, you will scar the world. When anyone thinks of war or battle ever again, they will break out in a cold sweat, shivering to the echoes of fear reaching through time.
Barbarians that follow the Path of the Living Weapon go farther than other warriors in arming themselves for war. They seek any and all improvements to themselves in combat, slowly replacing or modifying their own bodies. Some Living Weapon Barbarians begin this path in the laboratories of mad wizards as experimental bodyguards, others start their descent under the primal rituals of desperate shamans. Other roads will see these barbarians replacing their bodies with crafted steamworks or slowly burning up their humanity through demonic pacts. Whatever their path, Barbarians of the Path of the Living Weapon are fearsome to behold in battle.
Geared for War
Upon reaching third level, your drive to improve your battle prowess has left you with only one clear avenue for growth, you must change your frail mortal form. You will hone your body: become attuned with your equipment on a fundamental level. When you reach this level you must choose at least one of the following to abandon in your quest for might: all of your body hair, your ability to taste, or the ability to make small talk. Intense training regimens and ritualized modification of your body lets you mesh with your equipment. Any weapon you wield, shield you bear, or armor you don is unable to be removed without your consent or cutting it off by dealing 1/10th of your hit points in damage.
Additionally, the longer you remain in contact with your arms and armor, the more in sync it becomes. For each consecutive, continual day you have worn the same set of clothes, armor, and shield your temporary maximum hit points increase by 1 point per hit die, to a maximum of 3 hit points per hit die. For every three consecutive, continual days you keep the same weapon drawn and wielded, your damage with that weapon increases by 1d4, to a maximum of +2d4 damage. These two effects only manifest when you lose yourself in the tides of battle, entering your rage state.
When you reach 6th level, the external entrapments of war have left you wanting for more. More power. More blood. More. If shedding your external trappings aren’t enough, then you must dig deeper. You must choose to give up one or more of the following: your ability to reap enjoyment from intoxicants, the ability to be ‘intimate’ with another creature, or the ability to feel comfort such as a warm fire or soft bed.
Changing the makeup of your organs was not an easy or costless process but the gains in efficiency were worth it. You can rely on your body’s internal systems when you falter. When you are at or below half of your maximum hit points for the first time each combat, your body kicks into overdrive for the rest of the battle. It remembers every wound. For every 100 damage you have taken in the last week, your speed increases by 5 ft, to a maximum of 20 ft. While you are in this state, you can unhinge your joints and unwind your ligaments to increase your reach by 5 ft. at the cost of dealing 1d6 + STR damage to yourself with each such attack.
Sharpen the Mind
Upon reaching 10th level, you have had an epiphany. Every part of your body that you have changed has only warranted another change, but until now you have been reluctant to touch your mind. In order to clear away mental space for what you need you must relinquish at least one of: wit, charm, or philosophy. A loss of wit imposes disadvantage on your Intelligence skills, a loss of charm on your Charisma skills, and philosophy on your Wisdom skills. This has no effect on your saves.
Freed of useless thoughts, you can attempt to size up a single creature’s combat abilities, weaknesses, and tactics with the appropriate skill check. You may do this once each combat as a bonus action. You are considered proficient in these checks and do not suffer disadvantage if it is based on a statistic you gave up.
Re-Cast the Soul
At level 14, only one last barrier of the self is holding you back. It is time to focus your very being and turn it toward battle. In the process of reforming your soul, you must abandon at least one of the following: your afterlife, your alignment, or your emotions. Everything about yourself is now so much malleable steel to be fashioned upon the anvil of war.
You no longer sleep at night, instead you sit in deep concentration running through imagined combats. During this time, you can choose to cull your proficiencies, abilities, and traits to improve your combat prowess. These abilities are unable to be used until you take another long rest during which you can restore them.
-Each proficiency you consume grants you a single-use +1d4 bonus to a single attack’s attack and damage roll.
-Each class ability you relinquish becomes a +2 bonus you can apply to a single statistic for the duration of one rage. These bonuses will stack with themselves.
-Each racial trait that you subsume becomes a usage of a regeneration ability that restores 1d4+1 hit points each round for 5 rounds.
Build Up Your Form
At 14th level, during your nightly meditations on war, you can attach or absorb magic items and equipment into your body. These items can be used normally while attached to you. If any of those items are attuned, you may count those items’ magical abilities as class abilities for the purposes of sacrificing them to Recast the Soul. While consumed for that ability, attuned magic items still count towards your limit of the number of items you can be attuned to at one time.
Upon reaching 20th level you may choose to permanently bond your soul to your physical form, stopping you from aging, at the cost of being permanently destroyed upon death.