The Brash Barbarian
“The brash warrior screams as he charges up to the small green humanoids. The screaming warrior chaotically swings in all directions, killing a little green man with each stroke. With all his foes laying on the ground the warrior cries, “I am Barbarian!”.
This article is the first in a two week series looking at the classes in Dungeons and Dragons. The articles will be released in alphabetical order starting with the Barbarian, this article. The articles about the classes will be followed by a last article looking at all the classes and how they relate to each other.
The most noticeable benefit of the Barbarian is the amount of damage they can withstand. First, they gain the most hit points in the game (1d12) which is 20% more than the fighter/Paladin (1d10) and 50% more than the Ranger (1D8). Second, at higher levels they begin to gain damage reduction which allows the Barbarian to ignore some of the damage dealt to them. Also, when in rage the Barbarian also gains a Constitution bonus which, in turn, grants additional hit points. Rage would be the other most noticeable benefit of the Barbarian. The Rage allows the Barbarian to gain both a Strength and Constitution Bonus while fighting which can allow them to deal more damage per round. Another noticeable benefit of the Barbarian is their fast movement. This can be both an advantage inside and outside combat. Inside combat this allows the Barbarian to move around more quickly and be able to reach his opponents while outside combat this will increase the Barbarians overland speed, allowing him to reach places sooner. Another benefit I don’t see mentioned much that the Barbarian haves is their Trap Sense. This is most likely not mentioned much due to the fact it is only useful in specific situations, traps, but it is still a noteworthy benefit.
First, when you take a Barbarian you are really subscribing to a fairly strong character outline. Your character must be from a tribal background and he/she must be unsophisticated and, at least, fairly crude. Your character even starts off without the ability to read and must spend 2 valuable skill points just to be able to something as simple as reading and writing. When compared to the fighter, the class that haves set the standard, the Barbarian haves a fairly weak selection of armour. Barbarians do not gain the ability to wear heavy armour or the ability to use the Tower Shield. Next, the rage that is one of the Barbarians greatest benefits is a negative almost as much as it is an advantage. The first problem with rage is that the character receives -2 to their AC when they fly into rage making them easier to hit and negating any increased hit points. Second, fling into rage is very dangerous because any extra hit points gained from the bonus to Constitution are lost when the Barbarian ends the rage. This could possibly bring the barbarian below 0 hit points, causing him to start dieing, or even worse, kill him if it brings his hit points to -10 or lower. Third, while in rage the Barbarian can not use many skills, or abilities, and some feats including combat expertise are not usable. Lastly, yes there are many problems with rage, unless your character is very high level, 17th level, your character will take negatives after leaving rage. These negatives may even happen during combat if your rage does not last as long as the combat or if the Dungeon Master decides to be evil and start a fight directly after another fight.
I have never liked the image of the crude Barbarian and for that reason I have only created NPC Barbarians as a Dungeon Master. If I wanted a character close to nature I would much rather create a Druid or Ranger. In addition to having a problem with the image of the Barbarian I also find it to be a very weak class. The Barbarian simply seems to be average or below-average in most areas with only a couple special powers that can be used only in specific situations. The Barbarian looks especially weak when compared to the fighter who gains almost the same amount of skills and hit points and gains a better armour selection. A fighter can even deal out more damage per round than a Barbarian in rage with the fighters specialization and improved weapon focus and the fighter does not loose anything like the Barbarian does.
The best tip I could give for the Barbarian is to use their special abilities when and where they are best suited. Be the one who is willing to scout ahead where there may be traps, and place the Barbarian in front of any weaker characters who may not be able to take a shot from the enemy. With rage, don’t use it all the time as a standard tactic. Don’t use rage against multiple small creatures where you may be able to kill them in a single shot and don’t use rage where the -2 AC could put the Barbarian in a dangerous situation. Also, don’t use rage in close battles as you may be stuck with a character near or under zero hit points before leaving rage. Another tip I like to give for any warrior like character, including the Barbarian, is to try and make sure the Barbarian is useful outside of combat. You don’t want to be the king of combat then fall asleep while the others run the rest of the game. Take survival, it is one of the most useful skills in the game. This will allow you to find food and water for the group while helping keep them out of danger. You can also take a craft or, possibly, handle animal. This will give your character something to do outside of adventuring during those breaks and adds to his usefulness outside of the battle.
The Canadian Dragon