D&D General Has D&D abandoned the "martial barbarian"?

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Has D&D more or less given upon promotion of a barbarian that doesn't have overtly supernatural or magical features?

In 4e the barbarian was firmly placed in the Primal Power source. Even the essentials berserker was martial/primal. It took a bit of finagling to avoid the powers that didn't give you claws, flight,or lightning powers.

In 5e, barbarian base doesn't have unmistakable magical abilities. However once you get passed the bad berserker, the subclasses really push the Rage Magic. 5e barbarian subclasses are straight up called "primal paths" and mostly adjust your rage by having spirits or energy spout out of your barbarian when they rage. The Totem Warrior takes along while to not be visibly magical from the outside. However WOTC has the other paths quickly run pass the barbarian having blatant supernatural feature.

Even in 3e, the prestige classes and feats that weren't patchworks to the rigid system to give barbarians options... quickly go down the "when you rage you turn into a bear" mindset.

So has the D&D designers and community given up on the martial barbarian? Or is it more that the supernatural primal barbarian is more exciting and easier to design and homebrew?

One thing I feel D&D is missing or losing is the Warrior of Physicality. The fighter, as time marches on, has become more academic in its method of fighting. Fighters have become masters of the weapon arts. Whereas traditionally the barbarian was just harder better, faster stronger and would cleave opponents in two with mostly their higher strength and speed. However there has been a shift of barbarians being more warlocky and reliant on the support of spirits, gods, or straight magic to make the axe swing faster. If the axe swings faster at all.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

mrpopstar

Sparkly Dude
It has felt as though some of the classes have become more magical over time.

The barbarian is recognizable as the feral warrior you'd expect if you look at their core abilities, but that changes with primal path (which is the whole point of subclasses, of course).

The bard has become more magical as well. I long for the days when they were more rogue than wizard.
 



pming

Legend
Hiya!

Honestly? You'd need a new Subclass of Ranger maybe. I'd go along the lines of the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea route (which is very much like 1e AD&D's...but better, imnsho). Tough, not much of a better fighter than a Fighter (about equal), with wilderness survival skills and skills involving mobility (sneaking, climbing, leaping, riding horses, tracking, etc). After seeing 1e Barbarians in action for a decade or so I thought they probably should have been under Ranger more than Fighter. But, you know, potato/tomato. :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Mind of tempest

(he/him)advocate for 5e psionics
Has D&D more or less given upon promotion of a barbarian that doesn't have overtly supernatural or magical features?

In 4e the barbarian was firmly placed in the Primal Power source. Even the essentials berserker was martial/primal. It took a bit of finagling to avoid the powers that didn't give you claws, flight,or lightning powers.

In 5e, barbarian base doesn't have unmistakable magical abilities. However once you get passed the bad berserker, the subclasses really push the Rage Magic. 5e barbarian subclasses are straight up called "primal paths" and mostly adjust your rage by having spirits or energy spout out of your barbarian when they rage. The Totem Warrior takes along while to not be visibly magical from the outside. However WOTC has the other paths quickly run pass the barbarian having blatant supernatural feature.

Even in 3e, the prestige classes and feats that weren't patchworks to the rigid system to give barbarians options... quickly go down the "when you rage you turn into a bear" mindset.

So has the D&D designers and community given up on the martial barbarian? Or is it more that the supernatural primal barbarian is more exciting and easier to design and homebrew?

One thing I feel D&D is missing or losing is the Warrior of Physicality. The fighter, as time marches on, has become more academic in its method of fighting. Fighters have become masters of the weapon arts. Whereas traditionally the barbarian was just harder better, faster stronger and would cleave opponents in two with mostly their higher strength and speed. However there has been a shift of barbarians being more warlocky and reliant on the support of spirits, gods, or straight magic to make the axe swing faster. If the axe swings faster at all.
we do seem to have a market for both a complex fighter and a simple fighter, I wonder?
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
What class would Conan the "Barbarian" even be?
Not really a barbarian, given none of the paths make sense. Maybe a fighter that chooses not to wear armor and has a level dip in rogue?

I still think the "Conan the Barbarian" type is an barbarian.
However D&D pushes those narratives but not the mechanics nor representation.

The Warrior of Big Muscles has been pushed aside for the Warrior of Channeled Spirits.
 


Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Conan was more of a fighter/thief IMGO--Gygax even statted him up as such in Dragon #36. The later barbarian class in Unearthed Arcana was based on Conan, but it turned into more of a rager in 3e.

That's my point. The barbarian went from a warrior of power, speed, and toghness to a rager. Then D&D made the rage more and more supernatural.

So today in 5e. the only remanants of the "warrior who is just very strong, fast, and tough that doesn't read weapon maunals during free time" is the barbarian berserker and the champion fighter. And neither fully capture the spirit of this traditional archetype fully either.
 

Staffan

Legend
I still think the "Conan the Barbarian" type is an barbarian.
However D&D pushes those narratives but not the mechanics nor representation.

The Warrior of Big Muscles has been pushed aside for the Warrior of Channeled Spirits.
The problem, I think, is "What differentiates the Warrior of Big Muscles" from a fighter with a high Strength score?

The core thing that differentiates a barbarian from a fighter is that the barbarian has Rage. The fighter has various trained techniques at their disposal (whether those are in the form of battlemaster maneuvers or something else), but the barbarian can enter a state of enhanced fighting ability. So it's only natural for barbarian subclasses to build off that enhanced state. And even out of that state, the barbarian is clearly not an entirely martial character – something has to be going on in order to let them use Constitution for unarmored AC.

That said, I think there's probably room for a barbarian subclass that deals more in athleticism than supernatural things. The problem with that, I think, is that most of the things that would feel natural are already covered by the Totem Warrior subclass if you look at what they actually do, except for the flavor.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top