Should barbarians be surrounded by glowing magical auras when raging, or should they just get angrier?
When a barbarian swings should their axe be wreathed in fire or not?
Should they be powered by primal spirits or just muscled and adrenaline?
Much like with the fighter, who could easily have a few magic-based weapon maneuvers added to his list, I think that the barbarian should be pure martial as a baseline but with some optional class features that are obviously primal in nature.
I see the barbarian to be far more primal than magical. Their abilities may be magic-esque but would not be magic. They may be in a rage where they are resistant to physical damage, but the source of that resistance isn't magical but rather some kind of primal physical manifestation.
As long as the mechanics are the same, I don't really care how they're flavored. I see how that response could be problematic in the event of an Anti-Magic Field.
I see the same problem with the monk having poorly defined abilities. Almost all of the monk's abilities are tied to Ki. Is that magic? If not, is the monk's abundant step a function of Ki? It's described as magic and Anti-Magic Field honestly doesn't seem to care about the source of teleportation, it just doesn't apparently function. But other than that, the monk's abilities don't seem to be described as magical, just Ki fueled. Perhaps a barbarian with "primal energy" can be described in the same way.
I actually dug into the monk deal because I was trying to build a bar room brawler character and no matter which way I went, Monk seemed like the best option as long as it could be reflavored to non-magical/Ki (at least at first).
I like the first edition version of the barbarian as the primitive fighter that is based on superstitions and is considered ant-magic in nature. Anything more civilized or magical can be covered by a fighter or as a module to add in more types of barbarians.
It depends on if supernatural is considered magical. I think they have abilities that can be considered supernatural, but when I think magical I think rituals and spell casting.
I am not a fan of the primal power source in general, therefore I would be quite happy with a purely martial Barbarian.
A purely martial barbarian, might was well be a background. Its like fighters unique ability to"not having nice things" has to be given away too.
I really would prefer a neutral version. Let the mechanics describe the barbarian: dealing huge damage with the biggest weapon he can get his hands on, going into the thick of battle without armor but inexplicably not dying.
Leave the fluff up to the players, maybe with a few suggestions like "the power of your ancestors/nature spirits/gods gives you strength, or you could just be a badass, hardened by years spent living in the wild."
Sort of like with the monk- lots of people (the devs included I think) saw the class as "kung fu fighting", but I reserve the right to throw that out the window and make characters like this:
What I'd like to see is something of a non-flashy magic type of Barbarian. The PHB2 4E version was cool, but it was definitly magical (primal, to be exact) in nature and thus, did some weird things like fire spraying about. That's pretty cool and should be a path one might want to choose, but shouldn't be default version. I'd like to see something akin to Orson (Record of Lodoss War) where the "spirit" of Rage consumes him and he physically grows (in game terms, there'd be little mechanics to back this, so no I don't want him to be enlarged) but his muscles bulge, waves of energy sort of roll out of him and he sorta "hulks" out because of it. Of cousre, this can ALL be accomplised with role-play and that's fine, but SOME sort of mechanical manifestation should be present.
Depends on the setting. I figure in a gritty sword 'n' sorcery, I want the sheer power of astronomical muscle power alone to punch out Cthulhu (Conan can do it? Why can't I?). Now, in a more high fantasy, I figure a more mystical power would make sense. For example, if barbarians can't practice magic, why not understand the supernatural and spirits to build a resistance to it in order to fight it off better. So I figure, setting shapes the fluff and direction.
I definitely prefer the primal barbarian. I found the idea of a barbarian who channels primal spirits to be far more interesting than one who just gets angry. However, I don't have any problem with having both options available.
CuhCulaine being so hot that a fountain of black blood sprayed from his head and burned his enemies his presence after the battle causing water to boil and similar things. CuhCulaine also had what is sometimes referred to as Warp Spasm or Daemonic Feat where he became terrifying in form... The Norse Berserks actually becoming bestial in not just fighting style but sometimes in form.... channelling beast totems to fight with and becoming them.
I would prefer the "just get angrier" approach. No need dragging another class down by making it magicky.
Shouldn't this thread How might should the barbarian be?
The barbarian is like The Hulk. The more angrey he gets, the more he kicks ass.
There two things should make the barbarian stands out then the fighter.
The Barbarian can take a disvantage on his attack roll to double his damage dice.
The Barbarian is tough as nails to make up for lack of heavy armor.
I would most prefer a Barbarian that covers both options, the way that the 4E Barbarian did, and I'm not talking about the Essentials version. A lot of people think of the 4E PHB2 Barbarian as being completely supernatural, but it actually had plenty of powers at all levels that were completely martial/mundane in flavor.
I would have the barbarian have special knowledge skills and be completely non-magical. One of the skills being for example: Herb lore, where like the Picts they can cover themselves with wode and not feel pain.
I say do both! Provide some purely martial options for the people who want a barbarian with no supernatural stuff, along with some options that allow the fire of a barbarian's rage be literal fire.
Best of both worlds, everyone wins.
The "magical" barbarian should be a option, a speciality or subclass.
A primal spellcaster-warrior wouldn´t be a true D&D barbarian but other class, a (4th ed) warden or with other name like skin-walker or nahual (too diferent to druid and shaman because it is a warrior class with some primal tricks).
There are a few ways for this to happen and I would be happy, and many that I would see as unfit.
I want a guy that can get angry, and do nothing other than just be really really damned angry, and hit things really hard. No protecting his team, none of that. Just anger and hitting things really hard. As he progresses, his rage takes on supernatural proportions - something like the hulk - but there is no "I commune with nature" sort of thing. (I think this would be best seen as a striker fighter build with no defender mechanics).
I also want a guy that does commune with nature, using natural energies - the storms, the animals, the elements - to enhance his fighting and/or spellcasting. Maybe he can scream and lightning come out of his mouth, maybe he can use the rage of the dire boar, whatever. (I think this could easily be called a "barbarian" but might just overlap with the druid somehow).
In addition, I kind of want a guy that is super in-tune with nature, like butterflies land on him when he is still, and he knows how to speak tree. Like he has conversations with willow trees, that's how in-tune with nature. He can take the form of animals, he can cast lengthy rituals to do cool things, he can call upon the wrath of nature to do his work for him. (I think this is the more how the druid should be).
I like barbarians as the place for all the sorts of things that are usually depicted as mostly non-magical but which are clearly outside the realm of meaningfully possible. (Monks fall in a similar place for me.) For example, the idea that a person can stomp their foot or slam the ground with their weapon and create a rumbling or a shockwave that dazes or knocks down creatures around them is hugely common, but I'm fairly certain that that's not something that's even close to plausible. That's the kind of thing that I think the barbarian should center around. Other things in this category include crazy resiliance in the face of debilitating blows and war cries with supernatural-seeming effects. The idea of raging itself also sort of goes here.
I see this as sort of the center point for barbarians, with room on either side for things like power attacking on the left and overtly magical effects on the right, but I guess if I had to pick one design swatch for Barbarians, it'd be to think about things that are kind of in the ground slam/warcry space.
I'd split the class
The Barbarian is the emotion and raw talent warrior.
The warden is the primal magical warrior (absorbing the 4e Barbarian)
I think "Berserker" could simply be a subbuild of the fighter as the completely martial get angry fighter.
Barbarian could be a mix of martial and primal that is more than just a fighter who gets angry.
Personal preference - I don't like the supernatural, primal powered barbarian. I much prefer the berserker kit style of barbarian.
In the end though, there should be availability of both and I think the mechanics can be the same and divorced of fluff.
I think a good approach would be to create a barbarian / berserker fighting style for the Fighter, along with related maneuvers to represent the martial, non-magical get-angry fighting guy. If the Fighter had other class related abilities that were tied to their Fighting Style, they could also be tailored towards the light-armored warrior (4e did this often by providing AC bonuses when they wanted to encourage fighting in lighter armor).
That done, I would then create a magical / supernatural class to represent the barbarian that derives its power from primal sources (or however that is described). I think there is enough existing mechanics from previous editions to make an interesting class out of this idea, just like how the Monk pulls in quite a few interesting abilities to go along wth its hand-to-hand martial combat style. Of course, I would also create a brawler fighting style for the Fighter as well.
Players that want to play a non-magical get-angry guy can use the Fighter with the Berserker fighting style and those that want a primal warrior can have a class to handle that.
What if barbarian could choose between extra MDD/maneuvers or supernatural rage? So you either have a basic rage and multiple maneuvers, or you have anthropomorphic-bear rage and only the extra damage maneuver. I think this would allow both builds without forcing anyone to play a different class- or worse, not play what they want at all.
I'd prefer something more like the latest 5e monk: some options that are more flashy and "supernatural" in nature, and some that are more "mundane," but ALL of which are tied together with the same flavor of "primal rage," just like all monk special abilities are tied to "ki."
The nice thing about this approach is that there's still a lot of wiggle room to reflavor the class how you want, for the more advanced roleplayer, but there's enough guidance there for even the less creative (or more timid) player to pick a variety of powers that fit their style. And since everything is tied into a single, somewhat vaguely defined concept (primal rage or ki), defining that one concept does a lot of work for you in figuring out all the character's powers.
So for example, I might want to play a monk as a member of a devoted religious order whose "ki" powers are divinely inspired. Someone else might want to think of "ki" as a loose metaphor for mundane focus and concentration (like it is in real life). Others might see "ki" as a special form of wizardry, tapping into the arcane weave, or as a type of psionics, only available to those who are specially gifted. And the current rules allow for ALL of those options, even multiple ones in the same party, without forcing the player to actually ignore the flavor of any of his powers.
So for barbarians, let me define "primal force" as simple rage, while another barbarian player may choose to channel the power of his ancestors, and another might see it as shamanistic energy, or the influence of totemic animal spirits, or just plain magic.
Cool idea for barbarian flavor (and I will likely use this in my campaigns): barbarians wield the primal energy of battle and bloodlust, channeling it through their rages. However, many barbarians dislike magic, and hold superstitions about spellcasters (which is ironic, considering most spellcasters look down on "false magic"). This combines barbarian flavors of two editions!
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