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D&D General Naming the Barbarian? [added battlerager]

What name do you prefer for the class?

  • Barbarian

    Votes: 60 42.3%
  • Berserker

    Votes: 58 40.8%
  • Ravager

    Votes: 3 2.1%
  • Rager

    Votes: 2 1.4%
  • Other

    Votes: 9 6.3%
  • Battlerager

    Votes: 10 7.0%

  • Total voters
    142

MGibster

Legend
I wasn't talking about living groups. I was just saying would any character call themselves a barbarian? Wouldn't they use the term to describe others, not themselves? It's just about making sense from the perspective of the character.

(Not that characters use class names about themselves anyway, so it's all very abstract and hypothetical).
[/QUOTE]

Yeah, D&D class names are a bit weird. I can see someone calling themself a wizard or a druid but I don't think many people would refer to themselves as a fighter,* rogue, or barbarian. In one of my sillier campaigns, every PC went to adventuring school to learn the ropes of their classes. That means barbarian characters had to take courses in barbarism.

* I've heard people refer to themself others as a fighter, short for prize fighter, to indicate they are a boxer.
 

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I think barbarian is still the best name.
But Wotc has choose the best solution, To detach him from the cultural barbarian...
It would be a nice work if they didn’t screw the Frenzy ability.
 

I'm torn between the need of a game to avoid derogatory terms as a respectful thing to do, and self-censoring and failure to actualize and modernize once derogatory terms into respectful ones. "Barbarian" in RPG is used to evoke an archetype in fantasy with pride more than marginalization, but there is no doubt that this is where to word originate from.

Personally I'm partial to"warrior", but it's semantically very close (too close?) to "fighter".
 

I wasn't talking about living groups. I was just saying would any character call themselves a barbarian? Wouldn't they use the term to describe others, not themselves? It's just about making sense from the perspective of the character.

(Not that characters use class names about themselves anyway, so it's all very abstract and hypothetical).

I get you now. I don't think they would call themselves that. I think Fantasy Game class names are not meant to be the names people actually refer to themselves as. I see them more as terms we the gamers use to refer to the character types: in fact I remember how jarring it came across when they used to try to use some of the D&D class names in the old FR books---like when someone told Drizzt he was a Ranger. Granted the term Ranger was used by a character in Lord of the Rings to refer to Aragorn, so maybe that undercuts my point lol. But I think if you are looking for a more positive term, with Barbarian the more I think about it, the harder it is. Beserker is at least based on a real term, but that is so culturally specific, if you use it, you cut out a broad swath of barbarian cultures. And Rager, and terms like it, sound too video gamey to my ear (like you are naming the class after their big special ability or combat role). You could rip off Dune and do something like Freman. Or something like "Fierce Warrior" could potentially work.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
It's interesting how the different words will probably evoke different ideas in people's head about the stereotypical identifier.

If you go with Barbarian, obviously it's going to evoke Conan. It's been that way from the beginning.

If you go with Berserker, I think most people's first thought would probably be Vikings. That's the culture that I think berserking specifically brings to mind.

If you go Ravager or Rager, there's no specific culture or identity that immediately comes to mind for either of them. There were the Ravagers in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, but that wouldn't be thought of in relation to D&D. And the word Rager makes most people think 'wild party', not 'someone who rages'. Heck... the first thing I thought of when I saw 'ravager' was the crazed group from the TV show Firefly... only to then look it up and discover they were actually called 'Reavers'... another name that falls into this same pot of undefined identity.

At the end of the day... because most people take the character class name and identity either at face value and play it as is stereotypical, OR they purposefully use the class as merely a building block and the class name and identifiers do not in any way inform who the character is or how they behave... I don't think it really matters all that much. If we stick with Barbarian, people will either play Conan clones like normal or they will interpret the 'rage' mechanic as some other thing that results in any of the other potential names being just as incorrect for the character's background as Barbarian would be.
 


GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Conan was an explorer, a polyglot, literate in several of those languages including a few ancient ones, a general of armies, had a strong chivalric streak, is a thief, and later a ruler. I don't know if any single class in D&D can really do the character justice.
Yeah, "barbarian" is a compliment if it refers to Conan. "Outsider" if it refers to his homeland/people.

But if you're trying to avoid referring to the Berbers of North Africa, maybe "Gaul" would be a replacement term?
 

MarkB

Legend
I'm not keen on the term "barbarian" to describe a class - not because it's derogatory, but because it more describes a lifestyle than a fighting style. A barbarian tribe should consist of people of various aptitudes, not just a bunch of berserker warriors.

Then again, there are enough subclasses out there which de-emphasise the "anger" aspect of Rage in favour of, essentially, some form of combat focus, that I'm not sure a term like "berserker" really fits either.

Something like "battlerager" is probably the closest to a general class concept that I could get.
 

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
I have never really liked Barbarian as a class name. Named thus to grab Conan fans' attention, and as time went on, does't really describe itself well. If we get technical, a barbarian can be anything, not just a strong man/woman who flies into a rage.

I am not sure. I voted Berserker, but I still don't think that is a great fit either, as not all of the class fit that concept. IMO.

Warrior would have a better feel to me. Describes what the class does, and isn't formal enough sounding to be a professionally trained martial. I also think Fighter is way too broad and doesn't accurately depict a trained professional in the art of combat. But what would you call them then? Soldier? Mercenary? Veteran? Maybe Champion should be the class name and we find something better for a sub-class? That would then make room for Warrior.

Anyhow. At least to Morrus' point above, I think a Barbarian character would probably refer to themselves as a warrior. Changing the name of classes at this point I think is a fun thing to think about, but unlikely.
 



MGibster

Legend
But if you're trying to avoid referring to the Berbers of North Africa, maybe "Gaul" would be a replacement term?

The Greeks originally used barbarian to describe just about anyone else who wasn't Greek. Including the likes of the Phoenicians and Egyptians. Which is, you know, odd given that we still use the alphabet derived from the former and the latter sure seemed pretty damned civilized to me. And really, I don't think most people even think about Berbers when they hear the world barbarian today. Most of us probably don't even think of a people.
 

MGibster

Legend
I'm not keen on the term "barbarian" to describe a class - not because it's derogatory, but because it more describes a lifestyle than a fighting style. A barbarian tribe should consist of people of various aptitudes, not just a bunch of berserker warriors.

What fighting style does Fighter describe?
 


I'm not sure there's a better term than "Barbarian." I think "Ravager" is worse, given the root of that word. "Berzerker" is alright, but it evokes a Norse heritage and the whole point of discarding "Barbarian" is getting rid of the cultural baggage. "Rager" is... too on the nose.

You could go with something generic like "Brawler" or "Roughneck," but those kind of terms have historically been applied to Rogue archetypes. "Warrior" is the best overall term, IMO, but that kind of prompts the question of the difference between warriors and fighters. "Warrior" is too generic and lacks the Barbarian class's nature and tribal flavor. You don't want to go with "Tribal Warrior" or "Wild Warrior" or "Wildsperson" because that still feels a little culturally condescending, and it may not describe every member of the class. "Wilderness Warrior" is okay... but that kind of steps on Ranger. Although getting stepped on really does feel like the Ranger's lot in life, stuck in the middle between the more well-defined classes of Fighter, Barbarian, Druid, Rogue, and Bard. "Rage Warrior"? Ugh, no.

How do you differentiate Fighter, Ranger and Barbarian without any cultural inclinations?
 

MGibster

Legend
You could go with something generic like "Brawler" or "Roughneck," but those kind of terms have historically been applied to Rogue archetypes.

I don't think I've ever heard roughneck used to describe a rogue here in the United States. Around there here parts, a roughneck is someone whose occupation involves hard manual labor, often in harsh conditions, especially on an oil rig or similar environment.

Edit: But, cool, I just learned something new about the origin of a word. Who says role playing games aren't educational?
 

MarkB

Legend
What fighting style does Fighter describe?
What lifestyle does it describe?

I don't mind overly-generalised class names. I mind class names that mean other things. "Fighter" as the formally-trained dedicated combatant serves perfectly well, and isn't likely to be misleading.
 

Shardstone

Adventurer
This conversation has me interested in what a real Conan the Barbarian class would be like. Maybe I'll homebrew one...

If only I could escape the name "Barbarian" due to its 5E connotations. But I really can't think of a good name to describe a Conan-esque character other than Barbarian tbh. Athlete? Warmonger? Soldier? Meh.
 

Arvok

Explorer
"Barbarian" comes from the Greek and simply means "not Greek". The Romans, of course, adopted it and to them it meant "non-Roman" (and non-Greek, since the Romans admired many aspects of Greek civilization). It became associated with the Germanic, Celtic, and Eastern warriors and their fearsome and savage reputations and fits well with the role barbarians fill in the D&D world, in my opinion.

The class was originally conceived of as an individual who lived outside of the dominant culture's norms. If you get rid of the name you lose that connection.
 

jmartkdr2

Adventurer
I wasn't talking about living groups. I was just saying would any character call themselves a barbarian? Wouldn't they use the term to describe others, not themselves? It's just about making sense from the perspective of the character.

(Not that characters use class names about themselves anyway, so it's all very abstract and hypothetical).
Just an anecdote: the Comanche people call themselves the Nermernuh, but also call themselves Comanche. "Comanche" was originally a Ute words and means “anyone who wants to fight me all the time.” Comanche | History & Facts

So yeah, some barbarians would use that term for themselves, because they are strong and brave, unlike 'civilized' folks.

(I still voted berserker, because classes should define actions, not background.)
 

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