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

cbwjm

Seb-wejem
I'd probably make Conan a barbarian/fighter. He definitely does rage from time to time, the red mist taking over. I wouldn't worry about rogue or criminal background since he isn't the lock picking kind of thief. He's more of a kick the door down or cleave the lock with his sword kind of thief using the skills he learned in his homeland to sneak about and get out of harms way when a trap is triggered.
 

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What about an "anti-magical" barbarian subclass?
I'm not too widely versed in Conan lore, but isn't one of his main qualities a deep suspicion of magic and the sorcerers who dabble in it? As I recall he's skeptical of the gods and their priests, fears the otherworldly, and on more than one occasion passes up powerful magic items because they're corrupting and not worth the trouble they attract. And when he fights the supernatural, he overcomes his terror and fights it with gusto, whether that means bear-hugging a fiend till the ichor oozes out, or seeing through a deception to cut down the wizardly foe driving the monster.
This feels more fighter-ish than barbarian-ish to me to be honest (as for that matter is Conan; how often does he rage?) I fail to see how for an anti-magic approach wrapping yourself in cold iron isn't a good way to start (unlike raging). Of course the Shadow Monk can also be pretty great as an anti-magic subclass.

But ultimately I think that this sort of thing is what feats (like Mage Slayer and possibly a couple of others) are for.
 


Northern Phoenix

Adventurer
maybe barbarian does not do well as a class because it was made to be a sub class of something?

Barbarian does fine as a class if, as they do, you lean into the limitless possibilities of it being a "primal power" themed warrior. If you stick purely to no-magic-not-even-spirit-blessings, the design space does potentially become smaller, which is what the thread is about.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I agreed with the other things you said, but I really think Tarzan and Wolverine are barbarians. Or more like that the barbarian class should be able to represent characters like them.

I think Tarzan is actually pretty interesting take on barbarian. A person who fights with animal ferocity, has animal instincts and senses, is in tune with nature and has crazy wilderness skills and understands animals. Also runs around butt naked and fights with simple weapons (no necessarily 'simple' in D&D sense.) Yes, it is kinda rangery and even a bit druidy, but I think fierce animalistic warrior that uses no armour and strangles lions with bare hands is definitely in the barbarian territory. I think you could build a pretty cool subclass based on that.
The first Tarzan was Gilgameshes buddy Enkidu its a really old archetype one of the first superhero teams arguably (primordial batman er godman and robin err tarzan)
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
This feels more fighter-ish than barbarian-ish to me to be honest (as for that matter is Conan; how often does he rage?) I fail to see how for an anti-magic approach wrapping yourself in cold iron isn't a good way to start (unlike raging). Of course the Shadow Monk can also be pretty great as an anti-magic subclass.

But ultimately I think that this sort of thing is what feats (like Mage Slayer and possibly a couple of others) are for.

I guess I'm not viewing at it as "beating magic with anti-magic." (That was probably a bad word-choice on my part!) It seems to me as if Conan mostly overcomes magic with the force of "good ol' fashioned steel, thews, and grit!" Counterspells and such seem pretty out of character for him. In my limited acquaintance with the stories, I don't recall him using magic to beat other magic at all. It always always boils down to one or more of of: Punch the fiend! Stab the caster! or Smash the macguffin!

As I recall, Conan doesn't typically wear enchanted armor or use special equipment* or anything. And he doesn't seem to understand magic, so much as he just greatly distrusts it. He usually wins just by swallowing his fear, clenching his teeth, and punching the monster til it stops twitching. And more often than not, his supernatural encounters involve some degree of intuition on his part to discern a weakness or pierce a deception or the like.

Anyway, that's why I'm envisioning an archetype based on resisting magical effects and hurting magical beings with fists, rather than focusing on dispelling and the like. Though to be fair, Conan did stab more than a few evil sorcs in the face, so the Mage Slayer feat certainly fits!

(edit: To be clear here, I'm not trying to model the full character of Conan, just this one facet of the character.)

Anyway, that's just my 2 cp!


* Though I suppose his furry underpants in the early comics could have been magical.
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I have heard that as an argument about all D&D martial characters they cannot portray fictional heroes well because of the lack of versatility.
This isn't a particular hill I'm willing to die on and I think Outlander is a perfectly cromulent choice for his background. I don't think it quite covers everything Conan is about but neither does Criminal.


One of the things I liked about AD&D 2nd edition over 3rd edition was the non-weapon proficiencies. In some ways, I felt as though my Fighter could be a decent artist if I took the right NWP and that option didn't seem available in 3E. It's been such a long time since I played either 2nd or 3rd edition I really can't expand on this any better.
craft (artist) probably or something like that I am not a 3e dude.
For 4e Arguably pick artist as a background an actually very appropriate Nobleman style background if the character is a Leonardo DaVinci style artist able to construct some of his inventions for that I actually created a home grown feat. I also put an Engineering skill in but it needs some finishing touches to really be supported (like skill powers and some other bits)
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Barbarian does fine as a class if, as they do, you lean into the limitless possibilities of it being a "primal power" themed warrior. If you stick purely to no-magic-not-even-spirit-blessings, the design space does potentially become smaller, which is what the thread is about.

The issue is not the heavy primal barbarian.
The issue is lack of lean into the more martial, subtle supernatural barbarians.
The 3e and 5e barbarians got really overt with their supernatural powers and the 4e one started there.

It's not like there aren't more fictional and real life inspirations to use. The question is "why does D&D ditch to blatant supernatural archetypes for barbarians so quickly and barely attempt less blatant ones?"

Why do we get a Wild Surge Barbarian before Tarzan or the Hulk?
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
It's not like there aren't more fictional and real life inspirations to use. The question is "why does D&D ditch to blatant supernatural archetypes for barbarians so quickly and barely attempt less blatant ones?"
It's conceivable that WotC is just giving the market what their research tells them the market wants. The demographics and cultural touchstones are significantly different today than 20 or 40 years ago.

Maybe that's just the sort of barbarian character most newer gamers just want now.
magic-barbarians-kids-these-days.jpg
 
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