I think this has been the push since 3e for ALL classes. In 4e, it really started to sweep across every class. In 5e, I felt that they actually pulled back a little (compared to 4e). But, as you play any class, you begin to notice most of the abilities are reliant on magic.
I'm going to disagree fairly hard. In 4e you could play a larger than life fighter without
having to wiggle your fingers and mutter some magic words. You were getting towards mythological
- but that's not the same as magical.
It's not just Barbarians. It's the entire concept that Strength is the most important combat stat.
WotC is following the general trend where people prefer playing moody snowflakes than people that actually look the part, and aren't spectacular in other areas like looks and wit as a result.
Keanu Reeves instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Also "girl power" - people don't want to sacrifice fashion and beauty just to be able to wield a big-ass sword (in either sex). In fact it's even unacceptable to point out gender still exists.
Here's a couple of reality checks:
- Arnold Schwarzenegger was a body builder. This is a "fashion and beauty" choice and really strong people don't normally look like that.
- Big-ass swords like the Buster Sword don't actually exist in reality. And D&D swords have weights that are significantly over that of reality.
Your objection here is that other people are not following your fashion and beauty choices - you may like Frank Frazetta artwork and the like but not everyone shares your tastes in "fashion and beauty" and they don't want to be forced to follow your personal tastes.
The idea you need to compromise on beauty and smarts to create a fearsome warrior is truly dead
That's because the idea that you needed to compromise on smarts to create a fearsome warrior was always 100% a fashion and beauty choice. If we look at history's genuinely
fearsome warriors like Musashi then smarts have always been an essential part of their toolkit. Does this mean that strength isn't important? No. But the idea that intelligence should
be a dump stat among truly fearsome warriors rather than goons is ridiculous.
And as mentioned body builder muscles like Arnie or as shown in Frazetta's artwork are and have always been a beauty choice. Especially the bare chested versions.
It's only within the Sword & Sorcery subgenre the hope of games where reality still is given a token nod when it comes to the physicality needed for martial combat.
Nonsense. It's only Sword & Sorcery where strength, contrary to reality, reigns supreme.
In D&D strength is a useful combat stat although in 5e dexterity is extremely over-weighted (in reality you can't entirely separate the two). But strength is still the most used stat for front line melee combatants in my experience, whether fighters, paladins, or barbarians, or even clerics.
And as I said it's not just Barbarians. It's Dwarves too. For precisely the same reasons.
What? Because they are no longer in fashion.
It's Fighters in general. If you can use magic to explain why you don't need to look like John Cena to be a killer,
You probably need magic or steroids and/or human growth hormone to explain why you look like John Cena in the first place.
As for "to be a killer", if you ask me what a killer looks like I'm a Brit. If you ask me what a killer looks like I'm going to say Dr. Harold Shipman, Britain's most prolific serial killer. And if you ask me what a dangerous warrior
looks like then I'm going to say a Gurkha - and they are all strong, but they don't look like gym rats or man-mountains.
well, then people prefer to look like Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) or maybe Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), or say a gnome barbarian to take a memeable fantasy example.
So your complaint is that people prefer not to look like dehydrated steroid pushing body builders? And instead have different tastes of beauty to yours.
But if you prefer having the choice of fantasy gaming where you can choose a game where you basically need to be a male muscle mountain (or a Gimli, or, to be honest, an Orc) if you want to excel at killing people with a heavy object, you basically have zero choice in gaming product published this millenium.
So ... if you want a type of fantasy gaming where you "basically need to" fit precisely one unrealistic beauty choice and no others you don't have many options. Good!
So, yes, I very much see your point. Let's hope this current climate blows over and featuring realistic constraints on body type and mass, even in games with Dragons and Dungeons, once more becomes less utterly unacceptable!
And with those realistic constraints we'll find that the equivalent of Str 18/00 isn't actually that desirable compared to a much better balance of strength, dexterity, and intelligence. And the winning body types aren't the really large targets.