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D&D 5E Barbarian subclass?

Szatany

First Post
Should barbarian be rather a fighter subclass than a full class? I can see it working either way, and I'm curious about opinions of others.
Why it should be fighter's subclass:
- barbarian seems rather one-dimensional as a class, compared to fighter and even to 5e paladin
- warlord is roughly a concept of similar breadth, and it's not a separate class
- knight is is like above, and it will be a figher subclass

Why it shoudn't:
- it's been a base class since forever
- there could be subclasses for a barbarian, as proved by 3e's prestige classes
 

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Nymrohd

First Post
Moreover barbarian prestige classes in 3rd were simply better barbarians (and in 4th they were manga barbarians. . .) The subclass can allow for different rages (destructive rage; increases damage done and maybe better sunder weapons, whirling rage; gives extra attack and extra speed). Meanwhile barbarian is a background for people who come from barbarian tribes. You should be able to be a barbarian shaman or barbarian sorcerer as easily as a barbarian beserker.
 

gyor

Legend
All all that is too complex to fit into a subclass, its should be its own class so you get the diversity of archetypes.
 

The barbarian was a class in something like four editions of D&D (OD&D, 1e, 3e, and 4e) so it survives as a separate class mostly due to nostalgia. Just like the paladin and ranger.

It could certainly exist as a subclass, and I don't think many people would object, but there's enough ideas and variations on the barbarian at this point to sustain a full class. Such as your basic barbarian that rages but also the magical barbarians powered by primal spirits.
 


Li Shenron

Legend
Rage is the defining feature of a Barbarian, but it's too narrow to generate subclasses and too large to be granted via background, so I'd say Barbarian as a Fighter's subclass is the most appropriate.
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
I would say it depends on what the Barbarian is supposed to be able to do. If it's purely mundane stuff like attacking recklessly and a range of wilderness skills, a fighter sub-class would do it perfectly well - Battlerager or something like that. If it's supposed to include people who have a "battle fury" that transforms their capabilities, Cuchullain or a Berserk or other Totemic Warrior, then you probably want a separate class - call it a Berserker and I'll be happy.

I actually don't like "Barbarian" as a background, at least not alongside some of the other ones that are already there. If it's going to be there put it alongside Civilised/Nomad/Primitive as one part of a background, the type of culture the character comes from. Then add a second background, Noble/Warrior/Hunter/Crafter/etc as a family background - the characters previous "profession". Alternatively, in the current backgrounds give, list different abilities that characters might get depending on their culture - so all nomad backgrounds mention riding, as an example. I prefer the first method as that makes it possible for published settings to show the different cultures features without having to rewrite a whole pile of career backgrounds.
 

Meatboy

First Post
I'd be happy with barbarian as a subclass. In the last few years I've become very adverse to new class just for the sake of a single gimmick or narrow theme.

All all that is too complex to fit into a subclass, its should be its own class so you get the diversity of archetypes.

I have to ask what archetypes? Outside of Conan their are very few "uncivilizied berserking war god" characters, that I can think of anyway. Perhaps Druss the Legend, but he and Conan are strikingly similar. I am not sure there are enough characters in literature or pop-culture to qualify "barbarians" as an archetype.
 


Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
Looking at the latest playtest packet makes me think the more natural place for the Barbarian (or berserker) is as a subclass of Ranger.

--> substitute Rage for spells, and you are nearly there. Then it's just a question of balancing.

I do think there is a place for a "barbarian" background (whatever it's called -- Northlander?), offering a suite of skills and a trait.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
I have to ask what archetypes? Outside of Conan their are very few "uncivilizied berserking war god" characters, that I can think of anyway. Perhaps Druss the Legend, but he and Conan are strikingly similar. I am not sure there are enough characters in literature or pop-culture to qualify "barbarians" as an archetype.

I do not agree it should be its own class. Not by a long shot. An, yes, all the "archetypes" are incredibly similar.

But, just for fun, thought I'd list out those characters of literature, history or myth that say "barbarian" to me.

Conan, obviously.
Fafrd, pretty standard fantasy barbarian.
Beowulf, and pretty much anyone else in that story except the monsters. But that culture is suitably "fantasy barbarian" to me.
The Huns.
The assorted Germanic "-Goths" tribes and most ancient world Scandanavian peoples.
The French folkloric popular cartoon series, "Asterix", with his super strength and speed awarded from the magical brew his clan's druid prepares. Note how, here again, the barbarian's "physical powers" are bolstered/heightened and, perhaps most defining for the D&D "barbarian" archetype, temporary.

If you want to include D&D references, I'll add in Wulfgar from the Forgotten Realms/Crystal Shard/Drizzt books. I will not, however, include "Bobby the Barbarian" from the D&D cartoon. As much as I loved the cartoon, it did a terrrrrible job of modeling actual D&D classes.

That about does it. Is it "lots" of references to qualify barbarians as an archetype? Maybe not a lot, but a sufficient amount? I'd say so. Certainly more material than clerics or paladins were based on...or the original ranger class who was based, quite blatantly, openly, and entirely on Aragorn.

Those are the "raging berserker barbarian" archetype I imagine when I think "D&D Barbarian class"...which shouldn't be a class. Berserker could be a fighter sub-class, but should be at the least a fighting style/theme that any fighter can adopt. "Barbarian" is the cultural background and should stay/be presented as such.
 

hafrogman

Adventurer
I personally think that in this case (as in some others), narrowing an existing class to become a sub-class of another will lose some of what makes those mechanics work. Instead, if the barbarian is too narrow to be its own class, we should broaden it until it can encompass more. Admittedly, this exacerbates the problem of the name itself. I cannot justify the name, but find that I honestly don't care that much. So I will continue to refer to the class as Barbarian even it makes no sense.

So what is it to be a barbarian if it's not to be an uncivilized warrior, and it's not just a battle rager? I think if we have room for paladins and rangers we can also have room for a class that's like a fighter, but not. A fighter is the best trained combatant with options, and tactics and the flexibility to survive and triumph in combat. A barbarian is a warrior who relies on something else to fuel them.

Traditionally, this is ANGER! But perhaps there's room for a wider definition.

In addition to berzerkers we could have something like whirling dervishes or sword dancers and singers, warriors who use music or rhythm, or a devotion to power a rage-like state. They must maintain their trance or rage or focus, lest they drop out of it and lose their grip on what fuels them.

One of the things I like best about the current incarnation of the barbarian class, is that despite what the description of the class says, you can throw all of it out and use the mechanics to build something else. If I wasn't DMing the only D&D5 campaign I'm in, I'd be running a Lawful Neutral monk/swordsman type who uses meditation and intense focus (along with the void and flame lifted straight from the Wheel of Time) to achieve a state of oneness with his blade. And all I'd need would be the barbarian class, because they didn't insist they the class be non-lawful.

As a general design philosophy, I think it's okay for there to be a small overlap between classes. You might build a holy warrior using paladin or a fighter/cleric or just a fighter with the priest background. But each has their own degrees of difference and flavor. I like the barbarian as its own class. Just because we CAN consume something within fighter doesn't mean we SHOULD.
 

Greg K

Hero
So what is it to be a barbarian if it's not to be an uncivilized warrior, and it's not just a battle rager?
Well, considering that the official 1e Barbarian class and most of the 2e Fighter class "Barbarian kits were not ragers, but non magical "uncivilized" warriors , I would like to see the battle rager dropped from barbarian. Besides, it is not as if all battle ragers in various media are "uncivilized" warriors
 

Tovec

Explorer
Well, considering that the official 1e Barbarian class and most of the 2e Fighter class "Barbarian kits were not ragers, but non magical "uncivilized" warriors , I would like to see the battle rager dropped from barbarian. Besides, it is not as if all battle ragers in various media are "uncivilized" warriors

Is your problem that the term 'barbarian' is attached the class or that 'battle ragers' should not be part of the class barbarian? It is a little unclear for me.


Also.. if, and I stress IF, we are going to merge barbarian in with another class then it should be the ranger and not the fighter. The fighter represents a certain brand or style of combat, they are the tactics and equipment guys. They can be two weapon fighters, lancers, polearm wielding maniacs or whatever but they are defined by their specific shtick and their equipment. Barbarians in most media could probably be defined as rangers, or as an aspect of ranger being the 'uncivilized' warrior. Perhaps the ranger is that uncivilized part and the 'barbarian' or berzerker background is the raging aspects. Just a thought, I personally think that barbarians are and need to remain their own class; they are probably the class I've played most if not then second most of any in DnD. Fighters, paladins, and rangers make poor substitutes for the real Mccoy. Actually that is a good example..

Classes as Star Trek characters. Do we really need Uhura? Can't Spock work the comms? We should roll Checkov into Scotty and only have one weapon's master-engineer. That would be silly you say, why is that? Because they do different roles and have earned being different characters? I absolutely agree. It may be a little hokey but there is no reason to completely remove Sulu and replace him with a voice interface AI to fly the ship. It is part of the feel of the show/movie and would be insane to do so, not to mention pissing a whole fanbase off who loved Sulu best.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Types of "Barbarians"
  • Berserkers that enter an exhausting rage.
  • Mystical warriors that transform into wild animals in combat literally.
  • A fast-running whirling plains-running hunter.
  • A primitive Neandertal stereotype of an ape-like brute.
  • A horse-riding nomad from the steppes.
  • A ship-building pirate from the North.
  • A feral child, raised by wolves.
  • A moonshine-brewin' mountain hillbilly

...and that's just a handful, not including shaman-type barbarians in that list (who would more likely be types of druids).

And, look, there doesn't need to be One Way To Be A Barbarian In D&D. This is a "three kinds of vampires" scenario, and we can get at it in a few different ways: via background, via feat chain, via subrace, via its own class, via fighter subclass....all of these things are good ideas.
 
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Ratskinner

Adventurer
Types of "Barbarians"
  • Berserkers that enter an exhausting rage.
  • Mystical warriors that transform into wild animals in combat literally.
  • A fast-running whirling plains-running hunter.
  • A primitive Neandertal stereotype of an ape-like brute.
  • A horse-riding nomad from the steppes.
  • A ship-building pirate from the North.
  • A feral child, raised by wolves.
  • A moonshine-brewin' mountain hillbilly

...and that's just a handful, not including shaman-type barbarians in that list (who would more likely be types of druids).

And, look, there doesn't need to be One Way To Be A Barbarian In D&D. This is a "three kinds of vampires" scenario, and we can get at it in a few different ways: via background, via feat chain, via subrace, via its own class, via fighter subclass....all of these things are good ideas.

Yeah, I think the fighting is only over naming rights. Who/what gets to inherit the name "Barbarian" seems to get some folks hackles raised. (Same with Assassin, Ranger, and Paladin to varying degrees, AFAICT) Although, looking at your list makes me think we could use some kind of "transforming warrior" class (although I think "Barbarian" still makes most sense as a Background).
 


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