Barbarians, the Players who love them and why a subclass just won't do

When I think about how I would like the Barbarian to be done in DnD Next, I think about what has made the class appealing to players throughout the years; it's appealing to a lot of players for different reasons, but in my experience as a DM when a player is looking for something simple they turn to the page with Barbarian on it. And with DnD Next I know you can dumb down the rules as much as your players want, which helps with players who don't like to have to make a lot of choices or entire groups that don't want a lot of rules; so in this case I'm talking about just one player in the group not the group as a whole.

Not to say that the Barbarian has always been a simple class rules wise, but that they can be played simply. In my time as a DM I have seen a number of players that aren't that into tactics or learning all the rules of combat and knowing the ins and outs of their character, but they love to roll-play and to cut the heads off of monsters, class wise those players are looking for a blunt instrument and so they pick Barbarian because they know if the Barbarian just charges into battle and starts swinging then they won't be "doing it wrong".

Now even though there are lots of players who play the Barbarian who are into tactics and min/maxing, I think there should be a few classes that are specifically geared towards casual/lazy/new players; I think the Barbarian is one of them. Ultimately I feel all classes should have features tailored to what players want out of the class; I think the Fighter should be a good fit for a player who's into tactics and wants versatility and options and I think the Monk should be for players who like the imagery of the genre and have a more stylish cinematic play style.

I've read posts where people think certain classes should just be absorbed into others because it would be more elegant and free form, and I suppose it would be, but I'm against the idea because I think in having separate classes you have the opportunity to tailor each class for a particular type of play style; because when it's come to whether or not a class should exist, it's not about conceptual overlap, it's about why different players choose those classes. If every player approached martial combat the same way then I would agree that one class is all you need; but some players are more tactically minded and want lots of options and to be able to tweak their attacks, some are more into the imagery and theatrics of it all and want to feel like they're in a movie, and some just want to wantonly wade through battle with as few rules coming to mind as possible.

Overall I like this version of the Barbarian, for the most part. But because I feel the class should be built to foster a more casual play style, I think it should be streamlined a little more and some things could be tweaked.



  • I like Rage, Thick Hide, Fast Movement, Relentless Rage, Fearless, Incite Rage and Endless Rage: These features are elegant and easy to wrap your head around and fit the concept well.

  • Feral Instinct and Primal Might I like, but would like to see them combined, maybe call it Ferocity only instead of rerolling a failed initiative you just replace it with your strength score, the less cluttered the class is the better IMO.

  • Unchecked Fury and Regenerative Rage feel unnecessary and mucky IMO, I would like to see them replaced with more passive/simple abilities (see below).

  • Feral Reflexes I would like to see replaced, I can think of better abilities that fit the concept better (see below)

  • Feral Senses I like even though it's not the most iconic of barbarian abilities, because it's one less thing for the player to worry about

  • Channel Fury Is okay in my book, the class should have something that lets them do a big finish (the stun seems harsh but I don't know much about balance)


The kind of abilities I would want to see in the Barbarian are simple or passive abilities that allow the casual/lazy/new player to do what they want with out having to worry about some rule they don't care/know about getting in the way, such as being immune to things or being able ignore stuff. For a quick example that I'm sure has balance issues but hopefully gets my point across:

Swap Feral Reflexes with a maybe a lower level feature called Threatening Prowess for using Strength for Intimidate checks, it's a simple and fun one, and makes the Barbarian especially scary while raging with having advantage on strength checks.

Change Unchecked Fury into maybe ignoring enemy Resistances while raging, much simpler and it's good because then players don't have to be choosy with their enemies.

Swap Regenerative Rage with maybe something called Unstoppable Rage for immunity to being paralyzed or restrained, so that they can go where they want with nobody able to say otherwise.

Maybe I'm off on how a player's particular play style should be accommodated or what players are looking for when they choose to play a barbarian. But if this is as good of an approach as I think it is; I could see this approach being done with Sorcerer as well, in my experience the Sorcerer is the blunt instrument of spell casters, and my suggestion for players who want to cast spells but don't want all the homework or maybe just want to blow stuff up. I think these casual classes should represent being the best at doing the basics.

If you like this approach feel free to speculate on how the Barbarian or any other class could be better fitted for it's player demographic

I think these are all awesome ideas and I wanted to voice my support!

Though, I don't agree that there should be any classes geared towards casual players. I think that can lead to an unfortunate situation where experienced players want to play that class for narrative reasons but are held back by the fact that it is designed for casual players.

But as far as your suggestions for the barbarian go, GREAT! 
Better option is to have simplicity built into the class as an option. For instance, schemes/deities/paths/etc. are OK because they give a list of set abilities for a new player, but advanced players should be allowed (without DM permission!) to mix and match abilities.

@samassaroni and @Veggie - Thank you.

When I was thinking of how I would change the Barbarian I was making an effort to make the class more casual but at the same time not boring, sometimes because casual players think outside of the rules they have fun ideas that a rules lawer would never think of, so I wanted the class to be the class that the rules don't always apply to. I have been known to play a Barb now and again and I consider myself somewhat of a min/maxer and a roleplayer so I would not want to see the class become too limited in scope. Thankfully with Backrounds and Specialties to an extent any class can be made into something multi-dimentional and unique.
Eh, the only thing I really agree with you on is Unchecked Fury...

Regenerative Rage helps keep an over extended Barbarian alive while raging, good in case your player succumbs to their character's blood-lust and can't stay within range of a healer.

Feral Instinct give you a lot of leeway when it comes to Initiative, allowing the player a little choice where they'll show up in the turn order.

Feral Reflexes are practically a must have, considering being Surprised leave you unable to act for an entire turn.

I think you might be a bit too hung up on Strength being a Barbarian's best stat, especially with the revamp to Finesse weapons makes Dexterity an even better investment, so Primal Might allowing a Dex Barbar to take a 10 or so looks attractive.


...Then again, I'm one of the ones waiting for Multi-classing, so I can make a Berserking Ninja Assassin...
Regenerative Rage helps keep an over extended Barbarian alive while raging, good in case your player succumbs to their character's blood-lust and can't stay within range of a healer.

I think you have a good point here. If a casual/amature player goes running off into the fray and finds himself in a pickle the resistance from rage might not be enough, so yeah I guess more survivability would be good, a passive regen is simple enough I suppose.

Feral Instinct give you a lot of leeway when it comes to Initiative, allowing the player a little choice where they'll show up in the turn order.

Primal Might allowing a Dex Barbar to take a 10 or so looks attractive.

Maybe I wasn't clear when I said I would combine these features; so Primal Might lets you use you strength score if you roll low on certain kinds of checks, I would just add Inititive to the checks you can do that with. So a Barb could still pick where they want to be in Init by either using their dex check or their strength score.