Level Up (A5E) Barbarians without "reckless attack"

Micah Sweet

Legend
I understand that can feel underwhelming for the player, I think the negative aspects are being a bit exaggerated:
First of all the possibility of sacrificing the shield is something that all PCs can do, but not necessarily NPCs can do. It makes sense that they can do so, but it's not guaranteed (npcs typically do not have death saves, etc, the game is designed to be asymmetric in many ways).
For monsters that do have a shield and sacrifice it, they lose part of the AC for the rest of the fight, which will result in higher DPR in all following attacks. In addition some of them may lose some actions, bonus actions or other traits related to shield use, which worsen their action economy.
Most monsters do not have shields though, so it also depends on how frequently they find enemies with shields
I would definitely allow an NPC to use the Sacrifice Shield maneuver. As far as how common they are, yes; it depends on what kind of opponents you regularly face, but I use humanoids and undead more often than not, so about as often as you run into a PC shield user for me.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Micah Sweet

Legend
Point taken about dash and disengage.
But if we allow monsters to negate crits by sacrificing shields and taking fatigue, we might as well just remove crits altogether.
Rules for negating crits were likely put in place to reduce the unpleasant swinginess of 5e combat to the players detriment (something that 5.5e is also doing by basically removing monster crits, at least if things didn't change since last time I checked).
If we cannot assume that this asymmetry for negating crits is for the benefits of PCs only, we also have to conclude that the a5e berserker is essentially flawed, since it's defining feature (which cannot be triggered by the player and it occurs spontaneously quite rarely, btw) can be negated by every monster.
I'd rather err on the other side and assume that crit negation is something only PCs and very specific monsters can do.
I can't ever get behind the idea that PCs and similarly-presented NPCs are that different. If its a problem, I would recommend one of the house rule options presented above.
 

W'rkncacnter

Adventurer
But if we allow monsters to negate crits by sacrificing shields and taking fatigue, we might as well just remove crits altogether.
well i think it is relevant to remember you can only take fatigue to negate a crit once per short/long rest. so really at most any given monster will negate 2 crits, most of the time only 1 if they want the fatigue. so...there's that.
Rules for negating crits were likely put in place to reduce the unpleasant swinginess of 5e combat to the players detriment (something that 5.5e is also doing by basically removing monster crits, at least if things didn't change since last time I checked).
the second 5.5 playtest reverted back to the PHB rules, but either way...what? i mean, ok, sure, at lower levels lucky crits can screw the players, but beyond like level 3 it's not really a problem. i find this to be a bit of an odd assumption to make. i mean, maybe you're right, i dunno, but i'd've never even considered it had you not brought it up.
If we cannot assume that this asymmetry for negating crits is for the benefits of PCs only, we also have to conclude that the a5e berserker is essentially flawed, since it's defining feature (which cannot be triggered by the player and it occurs spontaneously quite rarely, btw) can be negated by every monster.
well again, given where and how sacrifice shield and fatigue are written, i don't think we can assume that, so i think we have to conclude the berserker is flawed.
I'd rather err on the other side and assume that crit negation is something only PCs and very specific monsters can do.
and that's fine - my point, again, is that as written, i think many narrators won't make that assumption. i mean, OP sure didn't, and honestly if i ever ran an a5e game i probably wouldn't either (though, again, i'd definitely make it so fatigue effects monsters immediately when gained in combat instead of after, solely so that it actually matters in play).
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
I would definitely allow an NPC to use the Sacrifice Shield maneuver. As far as how common they are, yes; it depends on what kind of opponents you regularly face, but I use humanoids and undead more often than not, so about as often as you run into a PC shield user for me.
I'd personally allow some NPC to use the Sacrifice Shield maneuver. But if I see one of my players unsatisfied by their character due to this kind of mechanics issue, I'd refrain to use that trick too often as I don't want to be an adversarial dm.
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
well i think it is relevant to remember you can only take fatigue to negate a crit once per short/long rest. so really at most any given monster will negate 2 crits, most of the time only 1 if they want the fatigue. so...there's that.
Fair point. But that means negating up to 2 crits per monster, regardless of everything. Players hit and critted way more often than any singular creature, so I think it's ok for them to be treated differently in some regards. Otherwise if I want pure simulationism (PCs and NPCs abide exactly to the same rules) I go back to 3.5, or move on to totally different games.
Also player crits are relatively rare and are normally a moment of big excitement at the table. I'm not sure I want to give that up.
the second 5.5 playtest reverted back to the PHB rules, but either way...what? i mean, ok, sure, at lower levels lucky crits can screw the players, but beyond like level 3 it's not really a problem. i find this to be a bit of an odd assumption to make. i mean, maybe you're right, i dunno, but i'd've never even considered it had you not brought it up.
I missed that. I understand it was a controversial experiment, but o5e is very swingy even at mid levels. Maybe it's how the monsters are designed (actually ignoring a lot of the guidelines set in the core books), or how the published adventures are written, but as a player I've experimented several sessions where even mid level tanky PCs could go down in 1 round due to a pair of lucky rolls from the DM.
well again, given where and how sacrifice shield and fatigue are written, i don't think we can assume that, so i think we have to conclude the berserker is flawed.

and that's fine - my point, again, is that as written, i think many narrators won't make that assumption. i mean, OP sure didn't, and honestly if i ever ran an a5e game i probably wouldn't either (though, again, i'd definitely make it so fatigue effects monsters immediately when gained in combat instead of after, solely so that it actually matters in play).
Also this is totally fine. I guess until any designer weighs in to clarify a bit the design intentions, the only thing we can do (and the only thing that matters, in the end) is to find a solution that works at our table.
 

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
i could absolutely see a DM making a ruling that monsters can't negate critical hits by taking fatigue or sacrificing a shield - just that, when evaluating the balance of furious critical, i don't believe we can reliably assume it to hold in any given game.
But if we allow monsters to negate crits by sacrificing shields and taking fatigue, we might as well just remove crits altogether.
Looking more carefully at the Adventurer's Guide (p450), I think I misread about negating crits because monsters die at 0hp and don't accrue injuries (like fatigue or strife). In short, monsters don't get fatigue, only NPCs, unless you want your NPCs to be special and follow PC rules. That seems to solve issue #1 (total negation of the barbarian feature).

Issue #2 remains, the actual utility of it as a class feature. I'm still inclined to:

1. If you hit with a natural roll of 19, you deal damage as if rolling a natural 20. This feature becomes null at 5th level when rolls of 19-20 become critical hits, automatically striking a foe. Of course, if you're missing on a 19 anyways, it might be best to run away.
2. Apply crit effect to a hit with a qualifying weapon, renews after long rest. It's a pretty powerful feature, needs to be limited.
 

W'rkncacnter

Adventurer
Looking more carefully at the Adventurer's Guide (p450), I think I misread about negating crits because monsters die at 0hp and don't accrue injuries (like fatigue or strife). In short, monsters don't get fatigue, only NPCs, unless you want your NPCs to be special and follow PC rules. That seems to solve issue #1 (total negation of the barbarian feature).
two problems - first, that's only about what happens when monsters hit 0 hp, which has nothing to do with negating a crit by taking fatigue. second, even if it were about fatigue in general, that says nothing about sacrifice shield.

i mean, yeah, you ARE the dm, you can just say it applies to fatigue in general, but i'm pretty sure you read it right the first time.
 

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
two problems - first, that's only about what happens when monsters hit 0 hp, which has nothing to do with negating a crit by taking fatigue. second, even if it were about fatigue in general, that says nothing about sacrifice shield.

i mean, yeah, you ARE the dm, you can just say it applies to fatigue in general, but i'm pretty sure you read it right the first time.
True, looking below p450 at knocking enemies unconscious, they gain a level of fatigue.

Well, more and more it just feels the barbarian sucks if enemies can negate its core feature, which (right now) at a 5% proc rate, isn't happening much anyways. Hrrmm....
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
So... I would say that it's a perceptual problem. The core features of Berserker are Rage, d12 hit die, and martial maneuvers.

Being able to crit particularly well is -great-, when it comes up. But it's not the meat n' potatoes of the build.

Even at level 5, when your crit range expands to 19-20, it's nice stuff, but not the majority of what you're getting out of the class. Don't get me wrong, when my level 8 Queen Bee Berserker in @RangerWickett's Zeitgeist game got two crits in one round and turned them both into additional attacks for a total of 101 damage (Vicious dagger, FTW) it was great...

But the swashbuckling I did earlier in the campaign knocking baddies off of the airship, tripping them to grant my party advantage on them, or hurling them through windows as a reaction was -far- more important to the majority of the story and the game.
 

SirKuroikage

Villager
Berserker doesn't have a lot of ways early to fish for crits, but don't forget there is a team with them. If someone knocks the enemy prone, or puts other conditions on them it increases the odds per attack. At level 5 they get both the first increase to crit range and extra attack, which allows maneuvers like Adamant Mountain's Lean Into It to assist with the second attack (assuming the enemy fails their saving throw and are knocked prone).

The part about sacrificing a shield to negate the extra effect surprised me, just because I had interpreted it already as the effect goes through without the extra damage. I only read it that way because the Furious Critical feature says when you score a critical hit, and sacrificing a shield says when you take a critical hit you can use your reaction to turn the critical hit into a normal hit. I read that as the critical hit is already "scored" and even taken by the defender, so Furious Critical takes effect, then the reaction is used to turn the normal critical bonus into a normal hit. Flavor wise I also really like imagining a Berserker shattering a shield and the loud impact deafening the opponent, or shards of the shield fly into their eyes blinding them. It is really fun to imagine the the Furious Critical effects happening through the destruction of a shield.
 
Last edited:

W'rkncacnter

Adventurer
The part about sacrificing a shield to negate the extra effect surprised me, just because I had interpreted it already as the effect goes through without the extra damage. I only read it that way because the Furious Critical feature says when you score a critical hit, and sacrificing a shield says when you take a critical hit you can use your reaction to turn the critical hit into a normal hit. I read that as the critical hit is already "scored" and even taken by the defender, so Furious Critical takes effect, then the reaction is used to turn the normal critical bonus into a normal hit.
that's vague enough that i think if it were the intent they would've just spelled out that furious critical takes effect even if the critical hit is turned into a normal hit
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
See, I read it the opposite way.

Critical hit still triggers Furious Critical, but the extra damage of the crit itself (including Vicious weapon damage) gets negated if the reaction is used to sacrifice the shield.

And the idea that "they would've just spelled it out" isn't really all that accurate. The person who wrote up the Berserker and the person who designed Shields as crit-negators may have done so weeks or months apart in the overall design process.

Fortunately, this is the kind of forum where the designers, themselves, can directly answer questions! We just have to hope Morrus or one of the others in charge or connected to the project points their eyes here.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I think part of the issue is the 5e barbarian is one of the best class designs in the game (at least for the sweet spot of the first 8 levels), especially the totem warrior. It just fits the flavor and playstyle to a T. I've had players who were like "eh doesn't seem that interesting" but then the second they play it they are hooping, hollaring, and diving into danger like a crazy person, having the best time. It is astounding to watch how the mechanics immediately reinforce the barbarian flavor so beautifully, that people's roleplay is instantly improved.


I didn't envy LU's work here, its hard to improve something that I think was so solid to begin with.
 

Sepaulchre

Villager
A berserker can have a 17-20 crit range at level 5 pretty easily, so a berserker should be getting crits more than an O5e barbarian.

Zealous stance helps a lot with accuracy and stacks with advantage. And there are maneuvers and crit effects that help generate advantage, so the berserker can and should often be rolling twice.

And don’t forget that the feat Powerful Attacker got buffed (disadvantage is strictly less punishing than -5 to hit), plus it’s extra damage is now doubled on a critical hit, which is easier to get if you can make a straight roll.

Berserkers are machines in A5e.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top