D&D General If not death, then what?

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
I keep thinking someday I'm going to do a dex based barbarian that does two weapon fighting. Maybe talk to the DM into letting me reflavor short swords as "claws".

Make him short with a funky haircut, probably a dwarf to be more true to the source inspiration:

90S Marvel GIF
Just make sure to call everyone "Bub".
 

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Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
There's nothing wrong with a DEX-based barbarian build. After all, rage works as long as you attack, it doesn't specify it has to be melee. A DEX-based barbarian will have a better unarmored defense, can still do good damage, etc. The damage resistance from raging it then the important part, not the damage bonus from raging, and if you go the typical totem warrior, it is nearly universally applicable.

However, then you are not tanking with that character, which depending on the rest of the party, could become a problem. But, take something like crossbow expert so you can put the build right in the middle of the fight, and then you are tanking as well.

It isn't the "typical" approach to the barbarian class, but then again neither is the STR-based sword & board ranger, which is a PC I am currently playing and having a lot of fun with. He even stealths. :D
Rage gives advantage on Strength-based saving throws and ability checks, Reckless Attack only works for Strength-based attacks, and Rage only increases your damage if you use Strength for your melee weapon attacks. Also, Indomitable Might and Primal Champion are better when you focus on Strength.

Sure, the Barbarian class doesn't have any built-in mechanics to prevent you from using another combat style like the Monk does, but it's clearly suboptimal and against the design intentions of the class to make a DEX-based barbarian.

Not that it's wrong to enjoy playing that character, just like it isn't wrong to like Strength-based Monks/Rangers or taking the suboptimal options for any other choice . . . you're just going to be noticeably worse mechanically playing in that style than if you chose to focus on the class's strengths (pun intended).
 
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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
There's nothing wrong with a DEX-based barbarian build. After all, rage works as long as you attack, it doesn't specify it has to be melee. A DEX-based barbarian will have a better unarmored defense, can still do good damage, etc. The damage resistance from raging it then the important part, not the damage bonus from raging, and if you go the typical totem warrior, it is nearly universally applicable.
I can't say I agree that the damage bonus is pointless. Sure, it isn't huge, but it's absolutely supposed to be the Barbarian's equivalent of Superiority Dice or Improved Critical. And since it is a flat bonus, it's much easier to factor into any damage calculations; assuming equivalent hit rates (note that this is not true, but I'll get to that in a moment), +2 average damage per swing is equivalent to raising your die type by two stages (e.g. gong from d4 to d8 takes your average damage from 2.5 to 4.5). Rage starts off being better than trading up from a long sword to a greataxe (1d8/4.5 to 1d12/6.5), and ends (at level 16) being better than trading from a dagger to a greataxe (1d4/2.5 to 1d12/6.5.) Or, if you prefer, it gives you 20% to 40% of the benefit of all those feats DMs love to gripe about like Sharpshooter or Great Weapon Master, with zero of the downsides. Or, expressed in average combat rounds expected per day (about 25), since starting at 5th level you make 2 attacks a round, so that's 50 bonus damage (times your hit rate, of course) over the course of the day, vs. a 5th-level Battle Master's 4d8 (average 18) bonus damage per short rest--which will typically mean ~36 or ~54 damage a day.

However, the more pertinent issue here is Reckless Attack, which gives advantage on all attacks made using Strength (though with the caveat of granting it to all opponents.) +2 damage and Advantage on attack rolls is the real draw of the class, and the reason why you get all that juicy damage mitigation. (Overall, you'll expect to take less than twice as many hits if enemies have advantage, so taking half damage from physical sources is more-or-less cancelling out the Resistance offered by Rage; Totem Barbarians are desirable because their expanded resistance covers all the other stuff usually inflicted by magic as well as by mundane weapons.) So, not only are you hitting harder, you're also hitting and critting more too, but only with Strength attacks. You give up an awful lot by trying to be a pure-Dex Barb. Circling back to the Battle Master comparison, Reckless Attack raises your hit rate from (to use the typical average) 60% to 84%. Those 24 extra percentage points will be highly noticeable--not to mention the increased critical hits, which your other Barbarian class damage feature (Brutal Critical) is designed to exploit.

Though really, there's an easier and simpler way to show how and why the Strength stuff actually matters. Go ask if people would be okay with letting Rage and Reckless Attack apply to Dex-based attacks, even if it costs a feat or the like. I have.* People will instantly tell you that that would be stupidly broken and overpowered, utterly unacceptable, never appropriate for any game ever. If it would be stupidly broken to let it apply to Dex, you are at the very least giving up powerful features by ignoring Strength.

*Had been trying to find a reasonable adaptation of the 4e Avenger in 5e, and Zealot Barb actually fits shockingly well....if its features are allowed to work with Dex, ideally using heavy weapons with Dex as well, because that is essentially their whole shtick. Robe-wearing holy warriors defended By Faith Alone (stupidly high AC for cloth) who wielded massive fark-off greatswords or executioner's axes with uncanny precision (Dex). Refluff Rage as "Oath of Enmity"--maybe restrict the damage/RA bonuses to just your chosen Oath target?--and you're done, that's a 4e Avenger using 5e mechanics.

However, then you are not tanking with that character, which depending on the rest of the party, could become a problem. But, take something like crossbow expert so you can put the build right in the middle of the fight, and then you are tanking as well.

It isn't the "typical" approach to the barbarian class, but then again neither is the STR-based sword & board ranger, which is a PC I am currently playing and having a lot of fun with. He even stealths. :D
"You can do it" and even "you can have fun with it" are not the same as "you are making significant sacrifices to do it." Just because it can be played, or even can succeed, has no bearing on whether you're paying a steep price for meager benefit.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I don't think a lot of players really understand how stingy damage bonuses are in 5e, to be honest.
Compared to what, though. I don't know 5e well enough to know what a good damage bonus amounts to in it, but in 1e getting to a +10 damage bonus was stupendous while in 3e +10 was pretty ho-hum.

If 5e is more like 1e in this regard then sure, anyone coming from a 3e or PF background is likely going to be disappointed. :)
 

JiffyPopTart

Bree-Yark
So you have the Barbarian's dexterity score, weapon, and they terrain map to prove this? Or are you simply arguing it can't be good because the barbarian's optimal solution should have been melee? Even if the barbarian was playing tactically because being in melee with the zombie giant might have killed them?

You are absolutely certain that you know the game state, the character details, and the potential avenues for success better than the people who were playing the game at the time?
Our barbarian has a higher DEX than STR for the record. It is a new player trying some things out.

Also, once again, the plan was to kill the zombie giant FROM AFAR so it couldnt do it's tremendous damage back. Then once it was toppled to move in and kill the three human sized opponents. The barbarian does doo less damage per round with a bow ..but also takes zero damage in return because the slow zombie can't reach them if they stick and move (same as the wizard was doing).

We were focusing on a single target....the zombie giant...in a way designed to avoid return damage while we did it.

Having never fought this wizard before we didn't even necessarily know he was a spellcaster...he just showed up with an army of undead and told the town it had 24 hours to give up 1000 residents to the case. We decided our best defense in 25 hours was to sneak into the bad guy HQ and strike the leader. That's the battle that was fought.

There had only been one other battle before it versus two salamanders on mounts, but it was a couple round cakewalk and other than a spell or two used up the party was in like new condition.
 
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James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Compared to what, though. I don't know 5e well enough to know what a good damage bonus amounts to in it, but in 1e getting to a +10 damage bonus was stupendous while in 3e +10 was pretty ho-hum.

If 5e is more like 1e in this regard then sure, anyone coming from a 3e or PF background is likely going to be disappointed. :)
The developers apparently balanced the game not around attacks or defenses, but hit points and damage. So for example, even a high level Fighter gets no damage bonuses other than Strength (or maybe Dueling Style). Anything more requires an outside source or optional content, such as magic swords or Feats.

I have an 11th level Fighter/Rogue who has a base damage of d6+6 with his +1 shortbow (he's a Halfling). Anything else is limited use resources (Superiority dice) or his 3d6 Sneak Attack.

So yeah, +2 damage doesn't sound like a big deal, but it kind of is, since such bonuses are uncommon.
 

JiffyPopTart

Bree-Yark
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This isn't the map of the now infamous battle, but close enough to give bearings. The bad guys are north of the map past the trees. My guy is hunkered down behind the brown building at around 8oclock with no LOS to the bad guys I'm concentrating on my spell.

The wizard is popping out, shooting a spell, and ducking back behind the grey building directly east of me. The barbarian is farther east still, off this map, but doing the same sniping trick as the wizard from a different building and corner.

The bad guy air bursts a spell between the wizard and barbarian that travels along the e-w street but it's area is large enough it also gets me despite the bad guy not knowing I was back there.

The ranger was off the map to the NE and was using his bow to harass the wizard while we focused on the zombie. My elemental was flying in the air shooting at the zombie also, but was forward a couple streets from my position.

Edit: if you want to try this battle at home, the zombie giant turned out to be a grave titan with the hurl zombie ability removed. Not sure about the bad guy and two other bodyguards, I tuned out once I died.
 
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JiffyPopTart

Bree-Yark
The developers apparently balanced the game not around attacks or defenses, but hit points and damage. So for example, even a high level Fighter gets no damage bonuses other than Strength (or maybe Dueling Style). Anything more requires an outside source or optional content, such as magic swords or Feats.

I have an 11th level Fighter/Rogue who has a base damage of d6+6 with his +1 shortbow (he's a Halfling). Anything else is limited use resources (Superiority dice) or his 3d6 Sneak Attack.

So yeah, +2 damage doesn't sound like a big deal, but it kind of is, since such bonuses are uncommon.
Static bonuses are also a little different in 5e versus older editions in that they don't double when you get a crit, but instead only the dice you rolled do. So if James' character normally has 4d6+6 with a sneak attack they would do 8d6+6 on a crit.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Static bonuses are also a little different in 5e versus older editions in that they don't double when you get a crit, but instead only the dice you rolled do. So if James' character normally has 4d6+6 with a sneak attack they would do 8d6+6 on a crit.
Ah yes, sorry, I didn't think to mention that.
 

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