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5E Graceful Destruction: A Guide to Dex Based Barbarism

Coyote81

First Post
Have you thought of multiclassing into the new prestige class Rune Scribe? This would make for an excellent Barbarian Shaman. I think the Barbarian could make use of all the verstility Rune Scribe brings as well as make his weapon attack more effective (No necessarily more damage, but the Fire rune does increase your average damage by allowing rerolls). the Earth Rune give you bludgeoning weapons the change to prone without save, I find that simple amazing. It's actually better on something with a low damage range like a sling. 1d4 damage means you will hit max damage 25% of the time and autoproning them. The Wind rune gives you flight and fall insurance as well as a knockback range attack with no max range, just anything you can see. Eagle eyes let you a mile. You can have some fun with that for sure. and Finally the Ice rune give some great utility. And in emergencies you have access you the sleetstorm spell. Which let you make an area heavily obscured, which allows for hiding and has a chance to break concentration spell casters. These are all useful Runes for a Barbarian. Going all 5 levels gives you a lot of new abilities after attunement to all 4 runes.
 

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Zace

First Post
So with a Dex Barbarian you have for example 12-18-18-10-14-10 which gives you: incredible toughness, High AC, High HP, and sucky dps.

With a Str based Barbarian with some points in Dex 18-16-16-10-14-10 gives you: Incredible toughness, High AC, High HP, and great DPS since you can now use Great Weapon master feat. :-/

Loosing the ability to use GrWeapMast feat along with the Adv to attacks (from str attacks) looses waaaaay too much damage for just trying to get Dex as the main stat. I was reading this and drawn in by the allure and kept getting that nagging feeling like something is really gimp about this character I was trying to make this way. Now if you play a game were feats are not allowed this would actually be on par with the rest and won't be such a hindrance to the group.
 

Yunru

First Post
So with a Dex Barbarian you have for example 12-18-18-10-14-10 which gives you: incredible toughness, High AC, High HP, and sucky dps.

With a Str based Barbarian with some points in Dex 18-16-16-10-14-10 gives you: Incredible toughness, High AC, High HP, and great DPS since you can now use Great Weapon master feat. :-/

Loosing the ability to use GrWeapMast feat along with the Adv to attacks (from str attacks) looses waaaaay too much damage for just trying to get Dex as the main stat. I was reading this and drawn in by the allure and kept getting that nagging feeling like something is really gimp about this character I was trying to make this way. Now if you play a game were feats are not allowed this would actually be on par with the rest and won't be such a hindrance to the group.

Oh really? You don't say? I never would of guessed that something with numbers so skewed in favour of Strength would, well, favour strength.

Let's see, you compare a 12-18-18-10-14-10 array against a 18-16-16-10-14-10 array with a feat. That's two whole ASI's in favour of Strength. So let's throw them into, say, Sharpshooter and... something.

But you are right, Strength deals more damage and has more obvious benefits. However, your argument ignores one thing: the benefit of being able to be a ranged character. With high AC, supernaturally high Dex saves, and some distance betwewn your enemy and yourself, you're going to be real hard to hit.

Just... Make sure you MC if you feel your damage is lacking.
 

mellored

Explorer
This is a tank build, and you need to sacrifice dpr to be virtually unkillable.

I think you should mention grappling. If you dip rogue, you can get expertise, plus your rage advantage means you'll succed even with only 14 Str.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
This is a tank build, and you need to sacrifice dpr to be virtually unkillable.

Is it enough unkillable over a str-based barbarian to offset that killing an opponent is the perfect defense?

You have higher AC - but barbarian already has a mechanism for reducing damage attacks that hit, so that's only buying you half as much as a similar bump in AC that other classes. You have an advantage over str barbs in that you will likely not give your foes advantage to hit you - but they can get that whenever they want just by choosing when to exercise their ability as opposed t not being able to use it.

You have a higher Dex save. But at 2nd when you get advantage that's not as big of a deal, since advantage helps more the worse your roll is. Even less meaningful if comparing to atanky barb build going bear so that you have resistance so the HPs saved is even less.

You have a higher initiative, but that is more than offset that it takes you more rounds to kill something, so it's not stealing attacks from foes.

If you go ranged that's almost always more survivable, but a lot less tanky since you're not absorbing hits for the team.

It brings a moderate amount of tankiness over a str barb for a large drop in expected damage. If you need a tank it could fill the roll, but a normal barb might do that better even if it's taking more damage from opponents because it ends the opponents quicker.

On the other hand, it'd be dang fun to run. As I'm writing this I'm practicing voices for a stout halfling barb.
 

mellored

Explorer
Is it enough unkillable over a str-based barbarian to offset that killing an opponent is the perfect defense?
<snip>
You have higher AC - but barbarian already has a mechanism for reducing damage attacks that hit, so that's only buying you half as much as a similar bump in AC that other classes.
It's multiplicative.
Getting hit 50% of the time for 1/2 damage = 1/4 damage.
Getting hit 25% of the time for 1/2 damage = 1/8 damage. = Half as much damage taken.

And going from 2d6+5+5 = 17 damage, to 1d8+5 = 9.5.
= 55% damage. (- a little more from crits).

So you roughly take half damage, and deal half damage. Assuming +3 Dex and a shield. Overall balanced, but it really depends on your party.

If your party is a bunch of ranged glass cannons who hide behind you, or can hit and run, then your lasting twice as long means they have twice as long to deal damage, it's better. But if you can't protect your party, probably because they rush in as well, and they all drop before you can drop the enemy, it's worse.

since advantage helps more the worse your roll is.
Advantage helps most when you have a 50% chance. If you have a 95% chance or 5% chance, it's only little more.

If you go ranged that's almost always more survivable, but a lot less tanky since you're not absorbing hits for the team.
Being just tanky without tanking isn't good; no. But if your entire party is ranged, you get a full round of attack or 2 in before they got close.

You can always switch weapons. Though switching to a shields is a bit more difficult.

On the other hand, it'd be dang fun to run.
That's the most important factor.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
It's multiplicative.
Getting hit 50% of the time for 1/2 damage = 1/4 damage.
Getting hit 25% of the time for 1/2 damage = 1/8 damage. = Half as much damage taken.

And going from 2d6+5+5 = 17 damage, to 1d8+5 = 9.5.
= 55% damage. (- a little more from crits).

So you roughly take half damage, and deal half damage. Assuming +3 Dex and a shield. Overall balanced, but it really depends on your party.

I'm not sure I'm on board with the increase in AC halving the attacks that hit by itself, can you give me an example?

If you're including Reckless in your calculations to halve the hit chance over normal barb AC then the expected Str damage should be significantly higher if it's starting anywhere near a 50/50 shot to hit. Actually, since Reckless is probably used more often than not, it probably should be counted for both the to-hit and the expected damage calculations.

If your party is a bunch of ranged glass cannons who hide behind you, or can hit and run, then your lasting twice as long means they have twice as long to deal damage, it's better. But if you can't protect your party, probably because they rush in as well, and they all drop before you can drop the enemy, it's worse.

Sure, but now we're looking at expending resources to make you more tanky, like Sentinel. Frankly the str barb's higher damage, lower AC, and often granting advantage make him a more inviting target than the dex barb, so absent mechanical support to force foes to engage he's probably better at making them want to engage him.

Advantage helps most when you have a 50% chance. If you have a 95% chance or 5% chance, it's only little more.

You're right, I had the math wrong in my head. Good catch, I concede that point to you.

You can always switch weapons. Though switching to a shields is a bit more difficult.
Yeah, thrown weapons (to use Str) are passable, but they lack range and don't play nicely with drawing rules once you have extra attack. Dex weapons are superior at range, so that does give you more tactical options, even if it's just a shot or two while closing.
 

Zace

First Post
"
Oh really? You don't say? I never would of guessed that something with numbers so skewed in favour of Strength would, well, favour strength.

Let's see, you compare a 12-18-18-10-14-10 array against a 18-16-16-10-14-10 array with a feat. That's two whole ASI's in favour of Strength. So let's throw them into, say, Sharpshooter and... something.

But you are right, Strength deals more damage and has more obvious benefits. However, your argument ignores one thing: the benefit of being able to be a ranged character. With high AC, supernaturally high Dex saves, and some distance betwewn your enemy and yourself, you're going to be real hard to hit.] "
a 17 str / 18 dex/ 18 con has no difference over 6str / 18dex/ 18con when it comes to damage. Either way its going to be DEX as the attack stat.

My POINT was the ability to get GWM feat which is where all the real damage is for Str build. The feat itself is not big difference unless you have the maneuver "Precision Attack"(ftr 3) or/and Advantage on attacks which Barbarians get and then getting as many attacks per round as you can with something like PoleArm master.

With Dex build I was wrong, you can match this with Hand Xbow and Crossbow Master feat and Sharpshooter but it is not quite a match because you have to take a +2 archery style to make the -5 to attack even close to worth it. The melee route for this build is quite lacking in damage and depth. To get either would be an investment into more levels of other classes which would end up making just a dip into barbarian instead of a barbarian main class. The amount of rages are needed so several levels in this class are needed and not just a dip. Seems a lot for just one class feature, resistance to most damage. The AC at lvl 10 (given you have maxed Dex and Con and somehow gotten the damage feats previously mentioned) is 20, 22 if you go shield but then you give up the big damage. This is easily done with plate armor in other classes not to mention you can usually have +1 on the plate by then or on the shield plus sentinel shield is the same as feral instinct.

I am intrigued by this build, on the surface but the more I try to look into how it would end up in play I keep seeing a rock with a foam sword. The archery though does look tempting if countered with maneuvers or something cool.
 

mellored

Explorer
I'm not sure I'm on board with the increase in AC halving the attacks that hit by itself, can you give me an example?
20 Str, 14 dex, a greatsword and +5 rage damage
Vs
14 str, 20 dex, Rapier and shield

= +5AC, and 55% damage. Other factors not included.

If you're including Reckless in your calculations to halve the hit chance over normal barb AC then the expected Str damage should be significantly higher if it's starting anywhere near a 50/50 shot to hit.
I am not.

That would increase damage, but also decrease survival. Probably making it 3x damage vs 3x survivability.

Frankly the str barb's higher damage, lower AC, and often granting advantage make him a more inviting target than the dex barb, so absent mechanical support to force foes to engage he's probably better at making them want to engage him.
true. Dead things don't deal damage, works for both the enemy and you.


Overall I'd say this build is worse, because there isn't an easy way to channel the attacks to you. But it still has it's uses in the right party. Like a stealth / ranged party.
 
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SubDude

Explorer
I'm gonna give this a try. I've got a wood elf: 13/17/14/8/13/8.

I'm going to start as a fighter and take dueling, so the +2 damage will be there. I'll "rage", but of course it won't have any effect until I switch to barbarian at level 2. Only the DM knows that I'm not an actual barbarian (to start, though they may figure it out).

I think I'll end up going Eagle Totem, though the Tiger totem in SCAG could be another option. There's a possibility that I'll also take a few levels of Druid. Raging as a brown bear would work with strength attacks, or I can stay an elf with a short short and shield for DEX-based attacks.

Regardless, it looks like a fun character concept and I'm looking forward to discovering and playing his personality.
 

einhander

First Post
How about a wolf-totem kobold barb? You already have a ton of defense, you will have near perma advantage, and be able to provide advantage to the entire team in two separate ways. Knockdown later on is just gravy. You can also mc fighter3 for champion and use that sweet kobold advantage to farm some crits to help increase damage (along w\deulist and action point).


My main concern with this build is why should a dm focus on you? You don't have a scary punishing mechanic and you don't pose a serious threat. If you end up never getting attacked, all that effort to become the perfect brick means nothing.
 
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I'm gonna give this a try. I've got a wood elf: 13/17/14/8/13/8.

I'm going to start as a fighter and take dueling, so the +2 damage will be there. I'll "rage", but of course it won't have any effect until I switch to barbarian at level 2. Only the DM knows that I'm not an actual barbarian (to start, though they may figure it out).

I think I'll end up going Eagle Totem, though the Tiger totem in SCAG could be another option. There's a possibility that I'll also take a few levels of Druid. Raging as a brown bear would work with strength attacks, or I can stay an elf with a short short and shield for DEX-based attacks.

Regardless, it looks like a fun character concept and I'm looking forward to discovering and playing his personality.

Make it str 14, dex 16. 17 dex has no effect over 16 and with 14 str you can effectively use str as attack stat when raging and you need more damage. (-1 to hit/+1 damage) with reckless attack the -1 to hit is easily compensated. And even when you have increased dex to 18, you are still fine raging and attacking recklessly. Advantage is often better than +2 to hit.
 

SubDude

Explorer
Make it str 14, dex 16. 17 dex has no effect over 16 and with 14 str you can effectively use str as attack stat when raging and you need more damage. (-1 to hit/+1 damage) with reckless attack the -1 to hit is easily compensated. And even when you have increased dex to 18, you are still fine raging and attacking recklessly. Advantage is often better than +2 to hit.
Makes sense. I'm not sure why I didn't see that. Thanks.
 

krunchyfrogg

Explorer
I'm gonna give this a try. I've got a wood elf: 13/17/14/8/13/8.

I'm going to start as a fighter and take dueling, so the +2 damage will be there. I'll "rage", but of course it won't have any effect until I switch to barbarian at level 2. Only the DM knows that I'm not an actual barbarian (to start, though they may figure it out).

I think I'll end up going Eagle Totem, though the Tiger totem in SCAG could be another option. There's a possibility that I'll also take a few levels of Druid. Raging as a brown bear would work with strength attacks, or I can stay an elf with a short short and shield for DEX-based attacks.

Regardless, it looks like a fun character concept and I'm looking forward to discovering and playing his personality.

How did this work out for you?
 


BurgerKingMan

First Post
A new player class was leaked and it looks to be the perfect thing for a dex barbarian. Go here http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/news/tomb-annihilation and download the tier one surrogates and take a look at the rogue. It looks like grungs are a playable race. Here is their breakdown:

ABILITY SCORES.
You gain +2 DEX +1 CON

SPEED.
You have a climb/run speed of 25 ft.


AMPHIBIOUS.
You can breathe air and water.

POISON IMMUNITY.
You are immune to poison damage and the poisoned condition.

POISONOUS SKIN.
Any creature that grapples you or otherwise comes into direct contact with your skin must succeed on a DC 12
Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 minute. A poisoned creature no longer in direct contact with you can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
You can also apply this poison to any piercing weapon as part of an attack with that weapon, though when you hit
the poison reacts differently. The target must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or take 2d4 poison
damage. No additional effects apply.

STANDING LEAP.
Your long jump is up to 25 feet and your high jump is up to 15 feet, with or without a running start.

WATER DEPENDENCY.
If you fail to immerse yourself in water for at least 1 hour during a day, you suffer one level of exhaustion at the end of that day. You can only recover from this exhaustion through magic or by immersing yourself in water for at least 1 hour.

Its poisonous skin gives us some much desired bonus damage to our attacks and raging allows it to grapple medium creatures effectively if the need arises.
 

Yunru

First Post
A new player class was leaked and it looks to be the perfect thing for a dex barbarian. Go here http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/news/tomb-annihilation and download the tier one surrogates and take a look at the rogue. It looks like grungs are a playable race. Here is their breakdown:



Its poisonous skin gives us some much desired bonus damage to our attacks and raging allows it to grapple medium creatures effectively if the need arises.
Holy shii, that's beautiful!
 



Yunru

First Post
Do any of the new barbarian primal paths from Xanathar's boost this type of barbarian?

Ancestral Guardians works great, you're hard to hit and you make everyone else harder to hit.
Storm is kinda "eh". It's not bad, but it's no better for dexbarians than strenbarians.
Likewise with Zealot, only less "eh."
 

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