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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
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.

I learned a long time ago that trying to fit complex characters into D&D's neat little class structure is an exercise in frustration. Though at backgrounds in 5th edition and kits in 2nd did give players the opportunity to fine tune their characters to a certain degree. I don't think you can come up with a Conanesque class that wasn't severely unbalanced as it would be stepping on the toes of most other non spell casting classes.
 

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MarkB

Legend
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.
I'm not sure I'd model Conan as single-classed. I always thought of him as being something of a Fighter / Rogue multiclass combo.

"Treasure Hunter", maybe?
 

For me, barbarian is fine.

I prefer names that tell me who a character is not what the character does.

Besides, uncivilized is a positive trait in my book, not a negative one.
 
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The name "Barbarian" tells you that this is the class you pick if you want to play a character like "Conan the barbarian".

Not at all. Conan never goes into a rage, no more so than any other warrior character in his stories and films. He wears little armor because heavy armor didn't exist in the setting, not because he's got some special class ability to make his skin hard because he's got a robust colon (that's what Constitution is, right? lots of fiber in the diet?).

Conan was a barbarian from the perspective of an American in the 30s, for cultural reasons. Most of Robert Howard's characters in that setting were also 'barbarians' from his perspective.

Sure, it's really unlikely today many folks get called 'barbarian' as a slur, but my complaint is not that the name is insensitive, but that it's shallow. You can have berserkers who are effete aristocrats who shove all their resentments and frustrations with high society down deep into their gut (or colon!), and then lash out with fury when provoked. You can have berserkers who are professional gladiators who were trained since a young age and are highly cosmopolitan warriors. You can have berserkers who are humble farmers who call upon spirit totems to infuse them with fighting prowess to defend their homes. And back in the 3rd edition Oriental Adventures, there were meditative sohei who could enter a 'ki frenzy' where they would lose their sense of selves in battle.

Not all of them are loincloth-wearing illiterate wild men.

Honestly, if I had my druthers it wouldn't be a class. It'd be a feat (or a variety of feats).
 


Jediking

Explorer
I like Berserker - it has Norse/Viking connotations "to fight in a trance". The berserker has the potential to rage and enter into a special state. It doesn't (necessarily) mean that they are always angry.

I like the later stages of MCU Bruce Banner/The Hulk. A great example of a Barbarian-type who can do many things out of combat, but when the fight happens he chooses to release his potential.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Trouble? What sort of trouble? That sounds ominous.
Are you saying you don't understand what I meant? I thought it clear...

There are times when we encounter a situation that needs to be remedied because people are actively offended by it. Then, there are situations in which we say, "well, people might theoretically be offended by this, so maybe we should change it just in case".

Unfortunately, that second grouping is massive in size, and is full of rabbit holes and traps that just cause instability rather than address a true injustice. If we try to fix anything that might be offensive just in case, we are going to constantly be rewriting everything we do.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Are you saying you don't understand what I meant? I thought it clear...

There are times when we encounter a situation that needs to be remedied because people are actively offended by it. Then, there are situations in which we say, "well, people might theoretically be offended by this, so maybe we should change it just in case".

Unfortunately, that second grouping is massive in size, and is full of rabbit holes and traps that just cause instability rather than address a true injustice. If we try to fix anything that might be offensive just in case, we are going to constantly rewriting everything we do.
Just having a chat about D&D class names, man.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
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.

......
HMM. In game and in game lore.
Andy The Angry good with bow and a hunter.
Bob recently out Waterdeep Prison. I like axes.
Hendrick of the Dunes I love hand axes.
Clarence Chem. I bring death to my enemies.
Earl OScar I love spears
Edward the Enterprising Escpecially in battle.
Ragnar The Red from Rockford Mississippi. I a skilled hunter and fight with an axe.
Ragnar of Rockford. I come from a small border town near Waterdeep I use an daggers.
Okay everyone that is about half of my pcs which are the barbarians.
***
There so many different words to describe a fighter type. If D&D world exist, and classes exist, would the world come up a word that describe classes. IF so then the would the world attach any negative stuff? I think not.
Signed
Jasper Class 98 bravo, Class Retirement Fund Clerk, Class Reenactment Grunt, Class Upper Education of Math in Business, Class X-box player Class Small plot farmer Class NONE. (evil grin)
PS. Changing the name would just lead to someone further down the time line changing the name.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Titan? It creates an image of unstoppable strength.
Juggernaut has a simliar image.

If you want to lean into Conan the Barbarian, "Adventurer" or "Explorer" describes him better. Barbarian is just what the "civilized" folk called him.

You could lean on 4e's take, where Barbarians where warriors blessed with power from the primal spirits and go with something like Avatar or Incarnation or even Shaman; going berserk under such a model is just one way to channel your power. The "standard" build would be then Shaman(Berserker).
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Here's another take:
The Barbarian class and the Berserker class aren't the same.

The Barbarian might rage but the key is the lack of refined martial and wilderness training.
The Berserker might lack refined combat and nature skill but the key is Berserk.

So you would build either class differently based on the name.

The "Barbarian" wouldn't really be a "Wild Soul".
The "Berserker" wouldn't really be a "Thaneborn"
 
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Berserker is the more accurate name. There's always issues with "Barbarian" such as people feeling that Mongol type horse archers should be barbarians, but them not fitting at all with the class. And also with having basically a Barbarian background (Outlander) as well as a class.

There's also the fact that the Berserk Rage isn't really all that much a part of the classical Conan archetype (although it's a good fit for Logen Ninenfingers from the First Law).
 

Sir Brennen

Adventurer
I voted for Berserker, because historically, the Rage ability seems more closely tied to Viking Berserkers than either fantasy Barbarians (like Conan) or historical barbarians (basically anyone the ancient Greeks saw as "not us".)
 

MGibster

Legend
I remember the 2nd edition Amazon kit which came with a bonus for the amazon should she face a male opponent from a society where women warriors were rare. It struck me as very odd at the time because women warriors were hardly rare concepts even in the 1980s. But in some contexts I suppose it makes sense.
I humbly submit that outsider status is very much dependent on context. A Mongolian horse archer is unlikely to be an outsider in a campaign where they were heavily featured. And here's one of the problems we're facing with D&D when it comes to naming conventions, there's a certain level of generic that must be maintained. A Fighter in my campaign might be more like a 14th century German knight and in your campaign may be more like that Mongolian horse archer.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
The more I think about it, the more the Barbarian and the Berserker are 2 different classes.

The Barbarian is just a warrior of talent, instinct, and athleticism. It wouldn't have rage but would get bonus damage with simple weapons and increased AC with light and medium armor. Powersource wise, it is a Martial class with no overt magic outside of subclass spiritualism to give some Primal or Divine noncombat stuff.

The Berserker is the rage fiend. Gone is Unarmored defense for more rage and more of a power up. Their rage would be so transformative than it would be either blatantly magical or at least convince most that it isn't normal at all. Powersource wise it would be a Primal class with rages being big effects mechanically and visibly. Some subclasses like the Wild Soul might drip into the Arcane and the Divine.

Barbarians subclasses would be
The Brute
The Chieftain
The Wild Man
The Horse Nomad
The Hurler
The Whirler
The Totem Warrior

Berserker subclasses would be
The Berserker
The Stormborn
The Wild Soul
The Howler
The Chaos Champion Zealot
The Beast

TLDR, The Barbarian can stay as the name but it would have to split for the Berserker mechanics and flavor.
 

If Barbarian is a class, and not defined by a Rage mechanic, then what is the Fighter?

Should the Fighter then be redefined as "Soldier" or "Man-at-arms"?

Part of the issue here is that backgrounds as separate from classes fit somewhat oddly with classes that have strongly implied backgrounds.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
The more I think about it, the more the Barbarian and the Berserker are 2 different classes.

The Barbarian is just a warrior of talent, instinct, and athleticism. It wouldn't have rage but would get bonus damage with simple weapons and increased AC with light and medium armor. Powersource wise, it is a Martial class with no overt magic outside of subclass spiritualism to give some Primal or Divine noncombat stuff.

The Berserker is the rage fiend. Gone is Unarmored defense for more rage and more of a power up. Their rage would be so transformative than it would be either blatantly magical or at least convince most that it isn't normal at all. Powersource wise it would be a Primal class with rages being big effects mechanically and visibly. Some subclasses like the Wild Soul might drip into the Arcane and the Divine.

Barbarians subclasses would be
The Brute
The Chieftain
The Wild Man
The Horse Nomad
The Hurler
The Whirler
The Totem Warrior

Berserker subclasses would be
The Berserker
The Stormborn
The Wild Soul
The Howler
The Chaos Champion Zealot
The Beast

TLDR, The Barbarian can stay as the name but it would have to split for the Berserker mechanics and flavor.

I'd vote for merging the Barbarian and the Ranger in one bundle to represent the far-wanderer warriors living on the fringe, relying on themselves to oppose wild creatures, being used to rare resources and un-regular tactics in combat.

1: Survivor's Will (aka Rage), Unimpeded Resilience (aka Con to AC), Deft Explorer (UA)
2: Reckless Assault, Danger Sense
3: Archetype
4: ASI
5: Extra attack, Fast Movement
6: Archetype feature, Deft Explorer Improvement
7: Instinct
8: ASI
9: Great Critical
10: Archetype feature, Deft Explorer Improvement
11: Relentless Will
etc

it would pad a little the lack of crunchy feature of the ranger, while reinforcing the theme of both classes.
 

Azuresun

Explorer
Sure, it's really unlikely today many folks get called 'barbarian' as a slur, but my complaint is not that the name is insensitive, but that it's shallow. You can have berserkers who are effete aristocrats who shove all their resentments and frustrations with high society down deep into their gut (or colon!), and then lash out with fury when provoked. You can have berserkers who are professional gladiators who were trained since a young age and are highly cosmopolitan warriors. You can have berserkers who are humble farmers who call upon spirit totems to infuse them with fighting prowess to defend their homes. And back in the 3rd edition Oriental Adventures, there were meditative sohei who could enter a 'ki frenzy' where they would lose their sense of selves in battle.

Not all of them are loincloth-wearing illiterate wild men.

Honestly, if I had my druthers it wouldn't be a class. It'd be a feat (or a variety of feats).

You know, characters don't have their class name tattooed on their forehead, right? You can play any of those concepts and have the character call themselves whatever they feel like.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
If Barbarian is a class, and not defined by a Rage mechanic, then what is the Fighter?

Should the Fighter then be redefined as "Soldier" or "Man-at-arms"?

Part of the issue here is that backgrounds as separate from classes fit somewhat oddly with classes that have strongly implied backgrounds.

The Fighter is the trained warrior
The Barbarian is the natural warrior

As the editions marched on, the fighter turnd from "man who fights" to "man who fights correctly". Although 5th edition says your fighter can be a natural talent, the flavor heavily tilts your fighter into have a military background, a weapons instructor, a combat trainer, a fighter mentor, or a personal study into combat techniques. Even if you are a naturally talented fighter, the subclasses lean on the idea that to seek out a proper trainer at some point. You can't naturally be an arcane archer, eldritch knight, or battlemaster.
 

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