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Hormalakh

Barbarians: inspiration and mechanics

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I've been thinking about the barbarian class a lot since the beginning of this whole kickstarter and they, like monks, have always rubbed me the wrong way. I decided to read a little about the history of barbarians as well as previous PnP implementations of the "class."

 

From a historical perspective, barbarian as a term has, except for a few notable exceptions, been used as a pejorative by different civilizations (mainly the Greek) to describe a savage outsider. Many of these outsiders were, of course, not savages nor were they bloodthirsty raging fighters. A more complete description can be found on wikipedia.

 

Reading through the history of the term barbarian, a few poignant points struck out to me for which I will use as starting points for creating a more interesting barbarian class.

 

1- The Ancient Greek word barbaros was an antonym for politēs, "citizen", from polis "city-state"...Plato rejected the Greek–barbarian dichotomy as a logical absurdity on just such grounds: dividing the world into Greeks and non-Greeks told one nothing about the second group ...

 

2- Eventually the term found a hidden meaning by Christian Romans through the folk etymology of Cassiodorus. He stated the word barbarian was "made up of barba (beard) and rus (flat land); for barbarians did not live in cities, making their abodes in the fields like wild animals".

 

3- A few contexts in the Chinese classics romanticize or idealize barbarians, comparable to the western noble savage construct.

 

From a gaming perspective, generally speaking, barbarians have always just been considered some sort of "raging fighter with low intellect" and seem pretty railroaded into a very narrow niche class. In fact, an earlier poll on this site singled the barbarian class as the least interesting for players to start with. Generally, barbarians are raging machines with d12 hit-dice, and pretty much always played as a low intelligence class. It is easy to see why such characters are rarely interesting to play and even less interesting to role-play.

 

From this it seems to me that barbarians should not continue to be pigeonholed into such trite stereotypes, nor should they be known as just a "raging warrior with d12 hit-dice." Rather, the barbarian should embrace his/her description and the designers should find interesting mechanics for the barbarian. I have detailed a few below.

 

The Barbarian Class

The barbarian is ultimately a person from a tribe or group of peoples outside of what is known as "modern civilization." This does not mean that barbarians are ruthless savages, unintelligent, or uncultured. Rather they are of the disenfranchised groups whose culture has not become the norm. In city-states like the Free Palatinate of Dyrwood or Vailian republics, these people are always considered outsiders. However, barbarians have lived a life as outsiders and know the value of culture and tradition. They are thus welcomed into smaller villages and tribes as they show these people the respect that others do not.

 

Similarly, because of the lives that they have lived without the "comforts" of modern civilization, many barbarians are hardy people. They are hard-working, many of them are intelligent, and above all else, they value their communities.

 

Skill bonuses and maluses:

 

1- Barbarians do not know the common tongue. As such, they have difficulty communicating with the public of the modern city-states. They are generally looked down upon by people who live within cities. On the other hand, they are well-versed in languages outside of the common tongue (player gets to choose which language). Don't know common. Knows two non-common languages.

 

2- Hit dice. Because of their hardy lifestyles, barbarians are generally healthier and live longer than than their city cousins. Hit dice gets a bonus.

 

3- Barbarians because they are outsiders get very severe reactions from people. If they gain favor with factions, their reputation increases faster than normal. If they lose favor, their reputation decreases faster than normal. They always start with low reputations inside cities. They always have higher reputations in outlying tribes/villages.

 

4- Barbarians have used weapons to defend their communities from outside invaders. As such they have skill with certain tools that have been used as weapons. (Specifics here probably should be detailed when more is known about the weapons) These weapons are most likely tribal weapons like the spear, the hand-made axe, and bows. Perhaps some have skill with farming tools and peasant tools as they have seen these used.

 

5- Barbarians utilize their tribal communities and the ways of the tribes effectively. They will have bonuses that deal with utilizing such communal skills. For example, it could be possible for them to become extremely defensive of their party because they begin to see them as part of their family. So, if any of them get severely injured, barbarians defend them zealously as they would their own kin.

 

This is obviously a very rough introductory sketch. I just think that it's a shame to continue the stereotype that all barbarians are supposed to be these "savages" that don't know anything and are dumb fighters. Expanding the class and allowing room for barbarians to be played in a variety of ways makes the class much more interesting and much more worthwhile.

 

Let me know your own thoughts on where the barbarians should go. What sort of mechanics they should have and shouldn't have.

Edited by Hormalakh
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My blog is where I'm keeping a record of all of my suggestions and bug mentions.

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/  UPDATED 9/26/2014

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First. Let's put it this way...

 

Here's how I would stat out Conan (the literary / comic version, not the movies one) in D&D 3.5e:

 

Spirit Lion Totem, Bear Totem, Whirling Frenzy Barbarian 2 / Wilderness, Penetrating Strike Rogue 3 / Strong-Arm, Skilled City Dweller (trade Ride for Tumble) Ranger 3 / Zhentarim Soldier, Thug, Dungeon Crusher, Hit and Run, Physical Prowess, Skilled City Dweller (trade Ride for Tumble) Fighter 3 / Warblade 3. A level 14 character, in a world full of lower level people. Capable of doing things that no one else in his world can do, feats that are superhuman, but subtly so. He's fast, strong, nimble, skillful, absurdly smart, literate, fantastically cunning, with a huge variety of skills. He is a fantastic grappler. He is not a berserker in how he fights -- though in an extremely rare situation, he can go into a rage-like status. He's nimble, and a competent thief. He's extremely able to take advantage of minor turns for advantage in a fight. In other words... he is nothing like the modern gaming concept of an illiterate 'barbarian' type... and also remember. 'Barbarians' conquered Rome... Frankly, I would be fine with a 'Berserker' class that does not actually have the name Barbarian, and simply has to do with a particular fighting style that anyone can learn, and the option of having a tribal / urban / rural background for anyone! To me, the Berserker archetype should be seen as tribesman, savages, gladiators, or elite forces in the army. It has to do with raging strength, resilience, and presence and capacity for large scale destruction with a melee weapon.

Edited by Gavinfoxx
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I would too. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem like it will happen. I think -to start- just the class name "barbarian" is sort of silly. It's a class named after a pejorative! It's a class named after stereotypes, generalizations, and just base idiocy. This was then furthered by the concept of "Conan the barbarian."

 

This is the whole point of my thread. If barbarians are (unfortunately) in, then let's take a look at these guys once more. Let's not continue to feed into the cliches and base stereotypes. How can we move away from the tired old "barbarian" class and really make "barbarians" proud that they are barbarians?

 

One more thing: Conan was ONE barbarian. What about all the other types of barbarians? Why not just make a "Conan" class. This whole idea that Conan is the only kind of barbarian we can have is even beyond railroading. It's catering one singular character and creating game mechanics just to cater to that singular character.

Edited by Hormalakh
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My blog is where I'm keeping a record of all of my suggestions and bug mentions.

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/  UPDATED 9/26/2014

My DXdiag:

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Come now. They still have a chance to change the class name... AND they still have a chance to put in a tag that says whether you were raised in a tribal, rural, or urban situation...

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The movie would have been a marketing disaster if they'd called it "Conan the Outdoorsman", but the points you make are all researched and valid.

 

Loyalty and compassion are other likely traits, considering their tribalistic/family existence.

 

Maybe the whole "Rage" thing is still valid, but just misunderstood by the gaming community at large. It carries the unfortunate image that it somehow infers a loss of control. "Rage" isn't that far from "Blind Rage" in a visual sense.

 

It may well be that it comes down to how Rage is triggered. We've all heard modern analogies such as the mother who was suddenly able to lift a car off her child that had been reversed over. It might just be a deep psychological or innate survivalistic reaction to something that threatens our kin.

 

So maybe instead of choosing when he/she rages, the Barbarian must witness something that "outrages" them, such as an enemy landing a critical hit on a party member, or any other action that causes great harm to others.

 

Edit:

 

Just to add to that last point, if a medium-level party (inc. Barbarian) encountered a low-level enemy group that was clearly outmatched, it wouldn't make much sense for the Barbarian to fly into a rage and "overkill" them, even though it would be perfectly allowed in earlier games.

Edited by TRX850

Me? I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It's the honest ones you want to watch out for.

 

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I don't really understand this thread but Barbarian is one of my favorite classes. I never viewed rage as a 'blind rage' though a few tend to RP it that way. Vast majority of Barbarians I've roleplayed with didn't actually take the 'dur dur idiot' route. Nor is the class ever really setup or forced into that. That and the 'rage' thing is very berserkr oriented, not Greek/roman labled outsiders.

 

Main reason I see the class failing in poles is, at least on 'this' forum, the fast majority of people seem to view the Barbarian as a Fighter/Warrior with a bonus power. And I can partially see why, in DnD it's one of the few classes that kinda has a near-forced background. Though you can still spec into barbarian after you've already started your character so its not... really a background. I doubt they'll have multiclassing like 3E/Pathfinder to be honest though. Either way I think tagging the barbarian with a 'you came from a tribe!' as part of the class a bit silly since that's generally not what a class is meant to signify.

 

To be, the Barbarian 'class' is a warrior that, through rage, fights barbaric comparatively. That's what the Rage is, a reckless freedom on the battlefield. Think Vikings, Berserkr shamans or not, the vast majority of Vikings reveled in combat. I mean that's what to go a viking is. They weren't a 'people' it was a word, they went a viking. They went to war, they pillaged, raised, they thought death through combat was there ticket to Valhalla.

 

Now take that same love and reckless freedom in combat and mix it into the idea the Barbarian's Rage (a Barbaric fighter) in PE will be soul based. That being his rage, his abilities to let go, increase his strength and endurance is him literally tapping into his soul power and you have a rather terrifying warrior on the field. I personally love that idea of a warrior over the basic disciplined learned warrior which is why I'll be playing a barbarian first. It's why I generally always play one first, and they never have a tribal background.

 

I also don't really think 'totems' have to much a place with them, though I can understand, to some extent the animal association. That's what Berserkr is, really, bearskin raging warriors and all that. Anyway, like I said earlier, Barbarian to me is a free spirited warrior who enjoys combat to the extent of letting go in fights. To be that free and reckless is just something I always liked about the class, and it's something the other just don't have. It's not about them being 'naturists', that's the Rangers field, the Druids. They may live simpler lives but it's just not the same.

 

-edit-

As a side note, I think forcing the barbarian (or Berserker, which I think is the better class name) to witness something before they rage wouldn't work in the vast majority of combat scenarios. It could work in a action adventure (with or with out RPG mechanics) where they can script a bunch of events but in a infinity style game just... I don't see it.

 

I'd prefer it be something you manually trigger. I mean, any human can go into a berserk like state if they see something tramatic, that wouldn't make the barbarian or berserker very special. It's shown up in wars time and time again, anyones capable of it. The whole POINT of the class is to be able to do it your self, at will, instead of requiring some absurd situation to 'set you off'. Barbarians in DnD are just that, a controlled rage. Controlled Chaos. They're free, and reckless, and it's there choice, it's what they live for. It's not because they just saw there mom die and went crazy.

Edited by Adhin

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It's all good, Adhin. I was trying to think of it from another angle that's all.

 

It makes more sense in a cRPG to have a "sometimes fearless/reckless" warrior type that stands apart from the pure fighter class. A perk in its own right.

 

They should also be great hunters and craftsmen. Which a pure fighter might not necessarily be.

 

Actually, I just thought....what if a Barbarian failed a "Craft Weapon" check? Would it send him into a rage? Raaawwrrgghh!! :lol:

Edited by TRX850

Me? I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It's the honest ones you want to watch out for.

 

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When I think of the Barbarian class in combat, I see a hulking brute who wades into the thick of things and flails violently until everything around him is nothing but chunks and gibs.

While Fighters / Cleric / Paladins may excel in defending other characters, a Barb's idea of crowd control could be darting to the front and provoke/draw the enemy to him through taunts and flashy war paint.

Because of his brutal fighting style it could be interesting if he frequently inflicted glancing blows to anyone standing adjacent to him, including friendlies, which would be great for damage output but would also make you think again before using him as a defender in close proximity to your glass canon wizard. Hell even trying to heal his stamina near him could be a risk while he's swinging his axe of insta-gibs +2 around.

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I would like to see barbarians break out of the Conan mold.

 

Mounted steppe raiders, striking an unprotected city like lightining in a horde of thousands.

Maasai warriors.

Maori crossing vast stretches of ocean in a fleet of massive war canoes.

Touareg striking on camelback from the deep desert.


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Now that, right there, Kaz I wouild 'love' as part of the Rage ability. Blancing blows to adjacent, even friendlies. Would make you think more about using it, when to use it, where to use it. Also I've literally never thought about Conan when thinking of Barbarian class. Not sure why folks ever bring it up hes the furthest thing from the class. He may of come off as a bit of an idiot in the movies but he still wasn't a rager. That and in the novels the second he got the coin for it he was decked out in plate.

 

I think to many people get stuck on the word Barbarian and assume its the whole ancient roman/greek 'tribes people'... which where Germanic/Scandanavians (mostly Germanic). When really its meant to reflect there fighting style, they're barbaric when they rage, and in there base fighting. Generally speaking someone who lives like that will probably also come off as a bit Barbaric in general regardless of there place of upbringing. Why its named that, base 3E just used 'northern tribes' as an example (which, again, was based off Viking culture in Forgotten Realms). Less 'tribal' more Clans. Think Scandanavian/Scottish (be surprised how much they intermingled into the later eras) and you have a better idea of what im talking about.

 

Folks need to drop the Tribe association, doesn't make sense... that and Conan.

 

-edit-

Also, lol at raging on craft. I know I would, but then, its hard to find a crafting system in a game I don't rage at (or fall asleep from the sheer boredom of).

Edited by Adhin
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The Barbarian and Fighter classes already have a lot in common. The question is, can we take what we've learned from all previous RPG systems and develop enough kickass *differences* that make them truly stand alone? So that when you think "Barbarian" you don't just think "Axe-wielding Fighter who windmills around the battlefield". Because any fighter could pick up an axe and go windmilling around a battlefield.

 

Maybe consider what it means to be up close and personal with a Barbarian? Things like intimidate and taunt could be derived from more than one ability stat (CHA + STR/WIS maybe). They could have a natural advantage for disarm, stun, and knockdown (non-lethal combat) that comes from generations of cultural teachings, rather than professional military training.

 

I also see the Barbarian as having certain skills derived from the traditional Ranger (hunting/favoured enemies), Rogue (stealth), and Druid (animal empathy), which of course has been done plenty of times before.

 

What about a War Cry that demoralizes the enemy before battle begins. For example,

.

Me? I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It's the honest ones you want to watch out for.

 

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Yes, 3E actually had a lot of good stuff to alter your rage. Terrifying Presence was one of my favorite things (sadly it was an 'Epic' ability, vast majority where). But basically it used your intimidation check for what amount to a paralyzing fear aura around your barb when he raged. Had plenty of other effects beyond that such as general improvements and stuff that could defen people and... yeah. I think fitting a lot of different paths of effects based off Rage is my prefered way to work a Barb class in relation to others. It's there major unique trait.

 

Granted you can do special paths for what kind of 'resilience' you are. Elemental types, more physical, maybe a base in combat stamina regeneration though I think that bit goes against how they intend to make the Rage work in PE. Think the little they've mentioned involves it having a conflict with your stamina, becoming winded easily... perhaps the rage costs Stamina. In away that's a lot like the Berserk PrC in 3.5E.

 

Berserker PrC cost you life per round while you where Berserking but it had an interesting setup. Such as Deathless Rage which basically made you immune to death spells and keep you from dying while you where in a Rage. That part, the not dying while in rage even when your stamina/HP hits 0 I think is one of the more interesting 'upgrades'. Reminds me of the Veitnam stories of korean soldiers going berserk and killing a bunch of soldiers before they dropped dead after there adrenaline subsided.

 

Also, again... Barbarians aren't Rangers but definitely are survivalists. Not sure why a Berserker would have a favoured enemy to be honest. The concept of that for a Ranger is they would have a certain number of issues with in the range they protect (which is why there called Rangers in the first place, not because they often use bows). For instance say your Ranger is the ward of a section of land, that maybe plagued by goblins. Your Ranger would have a favoured enemy towards Goblins due to that. That's the whole reason that exists, not sure how that would fit to a Barb.

 

As for War Crys... yeah, though again I think that should be linked to the rage and a general aura (dnd style aura) that could come with it (given you took the talent/abilities). Think generally the War Crys will be on the Paladin due to how they plan to set him up more as a 'Champion' like class. He'll have a lot of military based yelly stuff. Not sure they'll want to do to much cross over with that.

 

I could see the stealth but only so far as ambushes are concerned. I'd still prefer, in general, if we ignore 'culture' as the reasoning for the barbarian though I like the idea of bonuses with stun/knockdowns. But that's more of a way of life then being brought up in one place or another. Rich vs street thug kind of thing, same area, same culture, different upbringings. Guess you could consider that different culture just... I really don't like the whole jungle tribe nonsense people keep tacking onto them. Just doesn't fit.


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Eh, I don't really see the low-intelligence angle about the class. If people play it that way there must be other reasons I think. I see the name is invoking some reactions, so changing that would perhaps help.

 

Combat wise I think Barbarians should be more of a risk/reward type than other fighters, which would also move them a bit more into powergaming circles I guess.

 

Barbarians would fight with only power in mind, their hits hurting a lot, but leaving them dangerously open. Their combat style would reflect this; when attacked by a particular sword swing a fighter would deflect it aside into a miss with little effort, but a barbarian would block it head on - something the enemy combatant would likely not expect. Perhaps strength would play a bigger role in their damage or they could trade defense for damage (a twist on power attack feats). Those glancing blows to anyone near also sound like a good idea, a fighting style with strong and wide swings sounds like it needs room. I'd also give them some charge bonuses, that sounds like it's right up their alley.

 

Rage I'd handle as some sort of adrenaline burst of superhuman proportions (that could kill a lesser person). It would provide a nice boost to the power and speed of attack (str,dex?) and maybe prevent unconsciousness at 0 stamina (not sure how to differently implement a painkiller effect, hide HP maybe)? Starting out as something used in a pinch it could be upgraded to get to the point where you could sustain it every encounter. Maybe the player could pick between different "levels" of it; gaining higher bonuses, but at the expense of damaging the barbarian as the muscles themselves tear from their own strain.

 

Defense wise I guess they'd wear some form of non-heavy armor, such as to not restrict themselves. I was reading on Wikipedia something about berserkers not fearing edged weapons or fire. I could see that as some extra damage reduction from those sources, or maybe neutralization of glancing blows. Increased "health" would fit too, but more as a resource/limit for their abilities I think.

 

For crowd control I'd give them something that would work along the line of suppressive fire; locking opponents down with wild swings or make them lose their footing and the like.

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I was actually thinking more European culture than jungle culture. The favoured enemy thing could be due to other monster clans warring over the same patch of land for generations (in a fantasy setting I mean, not European history).

 

 

Berserker video!


Me? I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It's the honest ones you want to watch out for.

 

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Yeah I could see that, but then it should be Dwarf style, where they have special training against giants instead of a Ranger style selection as that shows a personal interest instead of an upbringing. I guess that would make more sense as a kinda of background trait thing you select at the start and that's that. Like I said though that's a race thing not a class thing though. I generally dislike heavy culture influence in the class its self since the class is not meant to be a background, it's meant to be a way of life or a job of sorts.

 

For instance in any given culture you have multiple jobs, even with in the military. Different fields of expertise, way of living ones life with in said culture. With my Dwarf example Dwarves (of a certain type) all learn to fight against giants due to where they live, and how they live, that parts cultural. The way they fight however depends on the dwarf in question outside of that. He maybe a heavy armored shield and axe dwarf, he maybe a rogue, maybe hes a cook and beats people with a frying pan I dunno but Barbarian is the 'class', the job, the way of live beyond your upbringing.

 

So, generally speaking, I think culture should be left up to the race, and class should be a blank slate you can fit to any of the 'cultures. That's all I've been trying to get at, folks need to separate that and think of how the Barbarian and his said rage would work in relation to his Soul powering it. Then how that could evolve or effect that person, regardless of race or culture.

 

As for Risk/Reward I agree and it looks like that's what they're going for. In 3E after your rage ends you get winded for a set number of turns. Which means while your more powerful and more awesome while you rage, once its over your almost as comparably weaker for awhile after it ends. It's a balancing act with in that, you want to preferably kill your targets before you tire your self out basically. On top of that the bonus HP you gain, and subsequently lose after the rage ends can knock you out after you rage - regardless of if that fight is over or not. There are plenty of facets to Rage, and how that life style would effect your body (toughen you up, base DR bonus?) - none of which have to do with your racial upbringing.


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The class vs race distinction is an important one for sure. Racial traits define your background whereas class traits can swing wildly (no pun intended) depending on your class build.

 

I was thinking though that if a Barbarian "class" was considered to be an outsider, i.e. not from a city, but from far away wild lands, it could justify a wilderness enemy type regardless of race. If they were human or dwarf or whatever, the fact that their upbringing was of the exotic non-city type would make some sense.

 

And I'm really liking the "stay the hell away from Barbarian allies" during battle idea. That whole "Chaos Unleashed" thing is starting to build a better picture now.


Me? I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It's the honest ones you want to watch out for.

 

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Or maybe the Barbarian's favoured enemy is simply "humanoids". If you're bipedal and you're asking for it, you're gonna bleed.

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Me? I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It's the honest ones you want to watch out for.

 

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I'd rather see the favoured fight, lets call it, function kinda like a sustained in DA2. Basically, you get dmg and attack bonus (or lets say speed bonus or whatever) depending on how many enemies there are around you. I mean if your a Barbarian its less about a specific type and more about finding an extreme challenge. You want to fight, you want to just let go and be wild in combat, its what you live for. So the idea of getting a bonus due to enemy power, say in there volume or because its a giant ass dragon (or giant heh) getting bonuses to that would make sense to me.

 

I mean, whats the difference between a man and a bear to a mad brawler? Bears a better challenge!

 

-edit-

Also, Chaos Unleashed... yeah I like that =P

Edited by Adhin

Def Con: kills owls dead

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I mean, whats the difference between a man and a bear to a mad brawler? Bears a better challenge!

 

Good question. I'm just trying to think of how Barbarians and Fighters might have subtle but poignant differences when it comes to combat knowledge. You could argue that fighters are trained to fight, by and large, against other fighters of the same racial type. In most cases anyway.

 

I suppose a Barbarian could also learn to fight against their own type, but at some point, whether through trials of adulthood or whatever, will have to fight against beasts also. And I'm really just making this up on the fly here, I haven't had time to think this through just yet. This is a fantasy world and I'm thinking in terms of distinguishing class features that give an advantage over another class.

 

So to answer your question, maybe their favoured enemy could be expanded to "Man and Beast". Which would preclude creatures like undead, constructs, and all other magical or unnatural denizens of the world.

 

Remember, history and logic aside (????), we're trying to decide how the Barbarian is *different* to the base fighter class, and other fighter sub-types like Ranger and Paladin for that matter.

 

Edit:

 

Meaning that if we apply history and logic too much, we might find that fighters and barbarians have almost no difference, which is a rather inconvenient answer. :)

Edited by TRX850

Me? I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It's the honest ones you want to watch out for.

 

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Yeah besides Barbarian being one of my favorite things to play (Druids and Necromancers being the other 2 main ones) I've spent yeeeaaars thinking about this stuff. Been modding stuff since mid 90s, working on a D2 mod since 2004. Been re-doing a lot of RPG gameplay mechanics in that quite heavily (had it doing relatively close to 3.5 rules for awhile).

 

I think you have 2 main aspects to the Barbarian as far as mechanics to differentiate it, its Rage (the signature ability, what truly makes him different) and passives that represent his life style. This is often done in aspects of his toughness. Damage Reduction (DT in this case), higher health, poison, disease, elemental resistances. Movement speeds something that's also a common one, which I've always enjoyed.

 

As a side note, movement speed (barb or otherwise) I hope they only have it trigger in combat. Never liked it when you have 1 character just blazing faster then everyone.


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Maybe Barbarians gain a distinct combat bonus when using BIG weapons? Maybe that's it? Greatsword, Greataxe, Great Hammer, Long Spear and so on. Fighters are more disciplined, having nuances for single-weapon style, sword and shield style, two-handed style, and with some additional training, two-weapon style. So their strengths are spread over a wider range, whereas the Barbarian is more focused on shock and awe.

 

Maybe it's as simple as that? The Barbarian's signature feats are Rage and BIG NASTY WEAPONS ? The resistances should stay. They're all excellent. But as a selling point, it may just be as cliche as "Bigger is Better".

 

????


Me? I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It's the honest ones you want to watch out for.

 

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In order to capture unique and varied "barbarian" cultures, it may be wiser let racial bonuses and penalties, as opposed to classes, define the differences. As previously noted, railroading anyone who is not a city dweller into the barbarian class severely limits the game's ability to represent different cultures.

 

Adhin noted D&D Barbarians might be better named berserkers. Renaming them thusly in PE and then opening up all classes to cultures traditionally called barbarian would alleviate railroading problem. Then, city-dwelling peoples could have berserkers (like the Norse), and everyone else can have the wide array of classes needed to create a robust social and roleplaying opportunities.

 

"But," you say, "There are two problems with this. First, it doesn't make any sense for illiterate cultures [insert other handicap here] to have wizards [insert other class that doesn't fit with the culture's dynamic]! Second, these other cultures will play just like their city dwelling cousins, defeating the purpose of creating the barbarian class in the first place."

 

These are two valid objections. To the first point, either restrict classes by racial group, or make it clear to the player they are creating a non-traditional character for the group. The second point is where things get interesting. A solution is to make strong racial bonuses and penalties that influence the character's selection of skills within a class. For example, if we created a Mongol race, horsemanship, archery, strategy, and terror should all be a part of their racial abilities. This would push a player to create a fighter that capitalizes on these strengths, and that plays very differently from the honorable knight or the stereotypical barbarian berserker. Even better, we can push the racial affinities to influence our hypothetical Mongol's choices in other classes as well, giving them a much broader range of expression.

 

I'm very excited to hear that Josh and Tim were considering something akin to this. They said something like they wanted racial abilities to influence how a player built his class, so that a hypothetical elf fighter would look and play very differently than a dwarf fighter. (I also think they were a bit vague, so I could be reading too much into their comments).

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I don't think Illiteracy plays to much into this. For most cultures, even tribal (least in fantasy settings) the shamans (wizards/priests) would be the ones who 'do' write things down. I can see a Fighter or Barbarian in a more tribal or clan based not writing things down but they'd have a written language the wizard could use for there tombs.

 

All that aside, I hope they take a bit of the 4E approach and do 'some' racial talents beyond just forced lvl 1 bonuses. I still would like some base lvl 1 bonuses based off race but getting some talent based stuff for race for progression would be nice. Sawyer mentioned I think in one of his other blog/forum things about how say a weapon focus talent may have a base level, say 10, but a fighter or an elf could get Sword Weapon Focus at level 4 or 6, giving race and class kind of advantage.

 

I can't wait for some Barbarian specifics though, really wanna know what there currently planning.

 

-edit-

Man completely forgot about the big weapon stuff I had written out first. My favorite Barbarian I've ever played was actually a Barbarian/Psion who dual wielded. Which is a rather reckless way to fight. Not sure I'd say 'big weapons' but maybe full size dual wielding along with 2h'ers would make sense. Full sized with single hand or 2hand instead of short swords?

 

Wouldn't matter to me, either way, but I'd rather not them try to pigeon hole a weapon style into the class like 'you wont get bonuses if you don't use 2-handers'. Generally Rage, speed, and Resilience is already far more then a Fighter 'can' even get in DnD. Well except the epic DR stuff for 9/-. But then a Barb can also get that. In NWN my 40 Barb/Psion had 14/- base with it, pure Barb coulda have 19/- + 10/- from belt (I had bracers with the 10/-). Guy could tank like a champ with 900+ hp enraged.

 

Anyway some kinda big weapon or reckless fighting stance stuff as a easy buy in for talents (barb getting access to it early on, power attack stuff too) would be nice.

 

-another-edit-

With the writing, good example is look at Vikings again. They where a culture based around telling deeds and stories, word of mouth not the written word. As such there is just huge amounts of things we don't know due to lack of records. But they still had a written language, many of there actual mythology was based around knowledge and written word. As Savage as there way of life was, there prime god, Odin was the god of wisdom and knowledge. Just felt like throwing that out there.

Edited by Adhin

Def Con: kills owls dead

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I think that actually pigeonholing the barbarian as an outdoorsman class actually doesn't actually accomodate the full range of the archetype. In addition to those who are literally born into the class in the form of being born into a family of raiders say, there are certainly characters from full civilization who can grow into it. Black Whirlwind from Jade Empire is a prime example of this, where basically someones personality sends them into the realm of barbarian rather than, say, a fighter or ranger.

 

The primary difference I see between the barbarian and the fighter is that a successful barbarian is primarily the result of emotion and physical power while a fighter is the result of discipline and physical skill. Perhaps to represent this, you could have the Barbarians normal statistics be as if they were constantly under the influence of "power attack", ie. so a constant penalty to a hit relative to a fighter of equivalent level but a constant bonus to damage when they do. Perhaps double their critical threat range at some point in their levelling too.

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Yes! emotional and physical power. Why I loved comboing it with a Psion, representation of just raw unbridled emotion propelling the physical. Just makes you wanna punch stuff thinking about it, rawr!

Edited by Adhin

Def Con: kills owls dead

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