Must all Barbarains look Norse/ Celtic?

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After reading through the Barbarian teaser material from DDi I was rather worried that all 4E Barbarians are going to be molded from the same template. The typical big, long haired, Viking/ Celtic berserker. Now don't get me wrong, big fan of Howard and I like to play that kind of character once in awhile. But how about builds that have other backgrounds or images? I just finished the movie "Mongol" on DVD and I think we can use 4E to create other types of rough fringe dwellers.

Do you have any ideas?
Well I know in my homebrew setting Barbarians are Vodoun Mambu (Priestess) and Hungan (Priests) who have let enranged and wild Loa enter their bodies and "ride them".

So I think Vodoun-worshipping, 18th century-esque appearance/mixed with Louisiana Bayou is pretty different from Viking and Celtic.

I find if you emphasize the whole spirit-connection more then the "I SMASH" aspect your can extremely broaden out the concept. Since well spirits exist in basically every culture.
Well I know in my homebrew setting Barbarians are Vodoun Mambu (Priestess) and Hungan (Priests) who have let enranged and wild Loa enter their bodies and "ride them".

So I think Vodoun-worshipping, 18th century-esque appearance/mixed with Louisiana Bayou is pretty different from Viking and Celtic.

I find if you emphasize the whole spirit-connection more then the "I SMASH" aspect your can extremely broaden out the concept. Since well spirits exist in basically every culture.

That's some GREAT color! But can you pull it off with what you have seen on the Barbarian so far? Love the Vodoun idea!
I think I should be able too, the Rages can become the Trances that Vodoun-Priest/ess go through which can be very erratic and sometimes to the untrained eye quite violent looking. The Rage being used at the time can symbolize a different Loa entering the body and taking over at that time.

The normal Powers, are when the Loa by overpowering the bodily control of the Priest it can push him beyond normal means, ie; you can have what looks like a weak Priest perform a devastating cleave. Same goes with Barbarian abilities where you shrug off hits or gain temporary hit points, since the Loa is commanding the body it doesn't sense the pain.

With more supernatural Powers that is when aspects of the Loa actually leave the body and perform deeds around it/through it.

Roleplaying wise a Player can pick Powers that suit a certain House of Loa, and have it so his priest devotes his efforts toward that house; thus he has the gift of being ridden. I imagine a Barbarian in this setting would probably be covered in talismans and concoctions to allow him to quickly enter a trance so he can be taken over, and perhaps smelling salts to awaken him afterwards.
Characters are generally modeled after the Trope makers of that class. In this case the Norse berserk and Conan.
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My barbarian actually looks sort of English (brown hair, gray eyes, slightly pale skin before tanning) and works more off of the instincts of animals. Her scent and her ability to take care of her clothes probably well link her to the Norse and Celts, though.

May I suggest making a not pale barbarian? (old time Celts and Norsemen are notorious for being somewhere between pale and fair skin toned)
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It doesn't have to be a Human brute or Maxotaur. Even Halflings are fun Barbarians to play.
We had a Sioux-type Barbarian for an outdoors game we played. His weapons were based on Mesoamerican Indian items. He explained his "rage ability" as something the spirits had given him; he was the champion of the tribe.

Wow. More coffee. Need it.
Dragonborn Barbarian with Heavy Armor and a really big Axe, going Bloodwrath Redwall style. ;)
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My favorite barbarian character actually looked Philipina... but then again, I break all stereotypes repeatedly with my maul.
My favorite kind of barbarian are the Crab Clan Berserkers (from Legend of Five Rings)

when they're enraged they don't say a thing, they don't demonstrate emotion, they don't scream in pain, they don't change their facials EVER!!

i love the Deathseeker fluff(again, legend of five rings stuff)

"i'm a scorned one, my life is filled with shame and dishonorable deeds, only in glorious death i can find confort"

like a spartan in one way or another
We had a Sioux-type Barbarian for an outdoors game we played. His weapons were based on Mesoamerican Indian items. He explained his "rage ability" as something the spirits had given him; he was the champion of the tribe.

Wow. More coffee. Need it.

I guess this kind of build is what I am hopeful to see in 2009. It can get a little boring to have all Barbarians using big axes and great swords while bare chested and tattooed with celtic knot work.

When the Barbarian first appeared for 1E in Dragon Magazine and later in Unearthed Arcana it had a few different types of favored terrain and limited weapon choices to make it culturally different. The problem (besides power creep) IMHO with the 1E Barbarian was the need to destroy magic items and deep hate of Arcane casters. I thought 3.X fixed this nicely.

The Rage ability isn't my concern. You can work that into a PC with spirits, totems, loa (great idea), ghost of the ancestors, or even drinking a primal potion (I remember 2E Dwarven Berserkers drinking something called "Gutshaker" to earn/ summon a Rage ability- Complete Book of Dwarves I believe).

I am wondering how you can break the model and make choices so you Barbarian looks like something different. What about the weapon choice? Currently it states that the Barbarians use big 2 handed weapons... How can you rework that element?
Use Different two handed weapons. Or take take existing two handed weapons and use them look different.
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If you want to try something different why not use spears or pole-arms as weapons. You still be able to use all the powers that require two hands and its not a sword/ax that a lot of people use.
What I think would be awesome is Barbarian whose rages are not actually rages at all. It's just that, when the chips are down, he pulls out some kind of amazing glowing effect the help turn the battle around, displaying his inner power. Some might call it "fighting spirit," others might call is "deus ex machina," but none doubt its effectiveness.
Back in the old editions, there is a class called the dwarven battle rager, they wer dwarved who wore heavy barbed spiked armor and would launch/roll/ jump on their foe and grapple with the foe untill they get a good grip with their spikes and then start thrashing around to rip up the flesh of their foes.

One of my players is semi-nordic barbarian. he was a farmers son who one day came upon a blue handled axe in the back of the toolshed. When he asked the parents they explained that his grandparents were once a party of adventurers who settled down, the druid and ranger married as did the barbarian and mage, their children married each other and had him. Then the goblins attacked, he ran anf got his ancestors axe to help defend the farm. They beat him mercilessly, they stole the cattle, and they broke his axe right in his hands. Fifty years in the shed wore away the wood to weakness and as it shattered it flooded him with its powers as well as the powers of his ancestors. He has the power of the barbarians, but not the norse herritage, he is basicly a strong farmers boy who liked to wrastle.
Back in the old editions, there is a class called the dwarven battle rager, they wer dwarved who wore heavy barbed spiked armor and would launch/roll/ jump on their foe and grapple with the foe untill they get a good grip with their spikes and then start thrashing around to rip up the flesh of their foes.

One of my players is semi-nordic barbarian. he was a farmers son who one day came upon a blue handled axe in the back of the toolshed. When he asked the parents they explained that his grandparents were once a party of adventurers who settled down, the druid and ranger married as did the barbarian and mage, their children married each other and had him. Then the goblins attacked, he ran anf got his ancestors axe to help defend the farm. They beat him mercilessly, they stole the cattle, and they broke his axe right in his hands. Fifty years in the shed wore away the wood to weakness and as it shattered it flooded him with its powers as well as the powers of his ancestors. He has the power of the barbarians, but not the norse herritage, he is basicly a strong farmers boy who liked to wrastle.

I like that story a lot. Nice job DK.

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Use Different two handed weapons. Or take take existing two handed weapons and use them look different.

Any advice on how to do this?
One of the 3.5 campaigns my group is doing right now is Savage Tide. I have a Goliath Barbarian. Whenever he rages, I describe it as a "cold rage." Instead of howling and shouting wildly, he just stares at his opponents with a cold, unnerving, hate-filled glare. Even while raging, he remains in enough control of himself to try and do things intelligently.

Now, my barbarian was actually raised on the Isle of Dread. Within the party, he's kind of the expert on all the local Olman lore. He was basically brought to the island at a young age and partially raised by the Olman, and partially raised by the citizens of Farshore. When he's not raging, he's a strong, serious fellow who prefers to actually talk and find peaceful solutions to problems when he can.

He's a very different kind of barbarian, and I don't think it would be that hard to bring him to 4.0.
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macana

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macuahuitl

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlatl

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Aztec_warfare

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eku

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aklys

Here are some links...as always, Wikipedia is your friend. Putz around on there for more ideas, I just did some wikihopping and thought these things applied.

As far as mechanics go, that is something you can hash out with your DM. Just change the flavor, and not the function of many of the already existing 2 handed weapons and you are a short trip away from doing what you want.

Again, work with your DM about the culture and features you want your char to have. As far as Barbarians go, most DMs I've encountered just have the places they mostly hang out in and not much else. Each tribe is different and has adapted to nomadic, harsh living in different ways. You can really go nuts with the creativity.

Hope this helps. And I am going to reiterate, I need more coffee.
I am wondering how you can break the model and make choices so you Barbarian looks like something different. What about the weapon choice? Currently it states that the Barbarians use big 2 handed weapons... How can you rework that element?

Just have your barbarian not use 2 handed weapons?

Have him dress like just like any one else in the area he's adventuring in?
Or even better, be completely clean shaven, well groomed, well mannered, well dressed, & carrying weapons/equipment more in line with what a minor noble would have for the area.


Note: I haven't bothered to read the barbarian stuff yet.
So if there's some actual rule that forces the class to wield 2h weapons A) that's just stupid & should be ignored, B) I'm unaware of it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macana

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macuahuitl

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlatl

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Aztec_warfare

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eku

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aklys

Here are some links...as always, Wikipedia is your friend. Putz around on there for more ideas, I just did some wikihopping and thought these things applied.

As far as mechanics go, that is something you can hash out with your DM. Just change the flavor, and not the function of many of the already existing 2 handed weapons and you are a short trip away from doing what you want.

Again, work with your DM about the culture and features you want your char to have. As far as Barbarians go, most DMs I've encountered just have the places they mostly hang out in and not much else. Each tribe is different and has adapted to nomadic, harsh living in different ways. You can really go nuts with the creativity.

Hope this helps. And I am going to reiterate, I need more coffee.

Great ideas! I am familiar with a Macuahuitl and believe they even had a 2 handed type! That could work very nice.
Just have your barbarian not use 2 handed weapons?

Have him dress like just like any one else in the area he's adventuring in?
Or even better, be completely clean shaven, well groomed, well mannered, well dressed, & carrying weapons/equipment more in line with what a minor noble would have for the area.


Note: I haven't bothered to read the barbarian stuff yet.
So if there's some actual rule that forces the class to wield 2h weapons A) that's just stupid & should be ignored, B) I'm unaware of it.

I think, from what I have read, they are leaning them toward using 2 handed weapons as a class feature. But your suggestions are welcomed!
If you want to try something different why not use spears or pole-arms as weapons. You still be able to use all the powers that require two hands and its not a sword/ax that a lot of people use.

Ironically enough, a spear is more appropriate for a historical Viking image, but it also opens up any background at all. Every culture I can think of that engaged in combat, or even fishing, has developed spears.

Another thought... throwing weapon based barbarians?
One of my players is semi-nordic barbarian. he was a farmers son who one day came upon a blue handled axe in the back of the toolshed. When he asked the parents they explained that his grandparents were once a party of adventurers who settled down, the druid and ranger married as did the barbarian and mage, their children married each other and had him. Then the goblins attacked, he ran anf got his ancestors axe to help defend the farm. They beat him mercilessly, they stole the cattle, and they broke his axe right in his hands. Fifty years in the shed wore away the wood to weakness and as it shattered it flooded him with its powers as well as the powers of his ancestors. He has the power of the barbarians, but not the norse herritage, he is basicly a strong farmers boy who liked to wrastle.

What do you think the Vikings' parents did? And what do you think they retired to? Actual Norse culture was farming based, and the Vikings were actually a religiously-motivated, fringe group within it.
What do you think the Vikings' parents did? And what do you think they retired to? Actual Norse culture was farming based, and the Vikings were actually a religiously-motivated, fringe group within it.

i used to think that 'viking' was a term used to describe norse (celtic or whatever) Corsairs

guess i was wrong
A masked and robed Arabic-styled nomad screaming challenges in an unknown language, or a giant Hindu-styled "harem guard"-looking guy with a fanatical gleam in his eye, both of them waving bigass tulwars... Like the guys that usually kick the crap out of Indiana Jones in the movies.

Or, a Shaka Zulu type armed with a spear or long machete-type blade, getting hopped up on "special sauce" and dancing around a bonfire before charging off out of his mind with bloodlust to go kill things.

Actually, assuming the barbarian isn't specifically required to use two-handed weapons, a good real-world example would be tribesmen from the Phillipines - there's a phenomenon common to people there where they just snap under the pressure of their situation, grab a knife or two, and just start running around stabbing things until somebody kills them - the origin of the term running amok.

You could even do an Australian aborigine with a spear and boomerangs for a ranged attack.

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What do you think the Vikings' parents did? And what do you think they retired to? Actual Norse culture was farming based, and the Vikings were actually a religiously-motivated, fringe group within it.

Came to say this; the Norse / Vikings are often misrepresented in pop media. Indeed, they had a very large farming community. They're just better known for raiding and taking what they want rather than crafting - doesn't mean they don't.

As for the barbarians, I had an Aztec-like civilization in my 3.5 setting, and they had plenty of Barbarians. Later this included nomadic conquerers that resembled Mongolians (well, Huns), who were also barbarians on paper.

The fantasy genre has a lot of barbarian icons which tend to be European but in RPGs I've seen a lot of straying from the norm.
There are Germanic tribes to try. Maybe Conan-esque style. If you recall the part in LOTR when Sarumon enraged the surrounding tribes to attack Rohan, they look pretty "barbaric".
It isn't hard for me (coming from New Zealand) to imagine a barbarian with a pacific island look. A seven-foot guy wearing light armour running straight at his enemies and knocking them all over the place is pretty much Jonah Lomu at the 1995 rugby world cup ;)
It isn't hard for me (coming from New Zealand) to imagine a barbarian with a pacific island look. A seven-foot guy wearing light armour running straight at his enemies and knocking them all over the place is pretty much Jonah Lomu at the 1995 rugby world cup ;)

Hell yes. All the people's of the world have an equal potential to charge forward while enraged, terrifying and humiliating their opponents.
We had a Sioux-type Barbarian for an outdoors game we played. His weapons were based on Mesoamerican Indian items. He explained his "rage ability" as something the spirits had given him; he was the champion of the tribe.

Wow. More coffee. Need it.

that's good, man!!!

i think Atila's type is a good idea too...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlatl

I need more coffee.

Atlatls & caffeine FTW.

I got to use an atlatl as part of a Native Studies program back in high school, & if you ever get a chance to toss a javelin with an atlatl, do so. It's a blast, & you're gonna be shocked by how much more power that little throwing stick adds. In terms of D&D rules, I'd suggest allowing javelins to be used with an atlatl to double the range, but you should also double the penalty to accuracy at long range.

As for coffee - well, coffee's just great. Can't go wrong with coffee.
Obviously, the next logical step:

Barbarian tribe with a warrior caste that drinks a concoction that includes coffee, among other herbs. When they aren't fighting they are amped on caffeine and the other herbs help them invoke the power of the coffee/whatever else.

Plus, the stuff is addictive. Could make for fun.

When I wrote this, I was sufficiently caffeinated (sp?).
Must all Barbarains look Norse/ Celtic?

Not at all. In fact, many of them look like Orcs.

:D

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not at all. i have it from a very good source that there is a tribe of roly-pollies known as the "pillbug ragers" that are not to be triffled with.
I played a barbarian archer called Donnavin Snowolf. He hailed (stereotypically) from 'up north where you wash with snow and drink ice'. His people had been beaten badly by an overzealous group of paladins because a long, long time ago his people had been devil worshipers (they'd since become animists). Well, Donnavin thought that his rage was possession by his evil devil worshiping ancestors that wanted revenge (in purely psychological terms, this was his version of post traumatic stress disorder, but the truth isn't as important as the character's beliefs) so he almost never raged. When he wasn't raging he was actually an archer. 14 Strength and 16 Dexterity. Had a real love of wolves (eventually took a few Ranger levels so I could have a wolf, but took the two weapon fighting style to further differentiate his rage.) so he always fancied himself more a wolf than a person.

Delightfully uncultured. He once asked a woman who was flirting with someone whether they were "mates or just rutting?" The man got offended but the woman more so and demanded to know what right he even had to ask such a thing, to which he replied, "Well, if you're mates I know not to make advances on you, but if you're not then we could rut for a while." He got his face slapped.

His rage wasn't all that angry (really), but more like few rounds of heavy concentration. He used mind games on enemies (opened with an intimidate check backed up by a strength to intimidate feat and a free action intimidate feat, both homebrewed), got really mobile and unpredictable (I changed tactics), and always tried to make sure he was flanking with an ally, or later on his wolf. That was also when he used a bastard sword two-handed, which he'd scavanged from the corpse of one of the paladins.

The rest of the time he hunt around with the spell casters. He was a really nasty surprise to anyone that tried to circumnavigate the meleers to go after the 'squishies'. Dropping the bow and fighting with the full strength of a TWF Ranger-Barbarian. It was priceless against the glass cannons.

I remember his signature free action intimidate was always 'death comes'. If he could get behind the target in one move he'd whisper it in their ear before attacking. It was classic. I think an ogre ran away once because he hadn't seen Donnavin coming. It was about to eat a wolf though, so the brute was in for a bad time either way.

I think that was probably my favorite character.
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that's amazing.
I always always always wanted to multiclass Monk/Barbarian in 3e, because I wanted to roleplay the Barbarian's rage as extreme combat focus, that moment of ultimate oneness where there is no mind and the fist strikes all by itself. Unfortunately, 3e was entirely up its own arse with idiotic, pointless alignment restrictions.

Now, in 4e, I'm just a bit of reflavouring away from my dream being a reality. Stat-wise, I'll be a Barbarian wielding a mordenkrad. Pretty stereotypical. Roleplay-wise, however, I'll be a lightly-armored monk wielding a heavy staff. If the rumours of giving Barbarians their CON modifier to AC when lightly-armored are true, then it should make for some beautiful synergy.
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Ironically enough, a spear is more appropriate for a historical Viking image, but it also opens up any background at all. Every culture I can think of that engaged in combat, or even fishing, has developed spears.

Another thought... throwing weapon based barbarians?

Hmmm... That just gave me an idea for a barbarian character myself. A character based off of Ahab from Moby Dick Give me a two handed harpoon and a rage against anyone that gets in my way of hunting down whatever it is I choose. Perhaps a large Bulette that is all white.
In the old Taladas boxed set for Dragonlance, the gnomes of the volcanic spires had an elite legion whose members underwent a ritual funeral to declare themselves dead. Members of the "dead legion" would paint themselves up all spooky and charge into battle without fear or mercy, believing that the worst had already happened. Sounds like a good source for a barbarian tradition to me (provided you can find a way for them to ride with the party-- perhaps under the guidance of a Raven Queen cleric?).

Also-- Moby Bulette for the win!