D&D 4E New 4e Player Barbarian issues and advice


My friends and I are planning to play D&D 4e, we have never played 4e before, only 5e. I have initially planned to play a human barbarian but after reading through the books allowed to us by the DM and the class itself I am no longer sure, that I want to play barbarian.

Content allowed for us: Player's Handbook 1, 2, 3 and Forgotten Realms Player's Guide, if you are wondering, no the DM will not consider adding anymore books, as our group is rather new to 4e and he doesn't want things to be too complicated.

The issue lies mostly in the way that the class is designed, this will require some explanation. When I looked over the class I decided that I wanted to play a Rageblood barbarian, and found out that some of their class features and powers utilize Constitution. This of course means that I will likely want to invest a number of the ability score increases into it, but the issue lies in then not being able to raise Dexterity as much which is important to Barbarians due to them only having access to Hide Armor.

I thought about not investing in Constitution as much and just focus on Strength and Dexterity and not pick up any powers that utilize the Constitution modifier but that feels I am basically playing around bad design and limiting the options I have available, while the rest of the players on the team don't have to worry about such issues. I could try to spread the points between Dex and Con, while still increasing Strength but that means I won't be able to increase Wisdom which means my Will Defense will be especially atrocious and I don't want that.

I have thought about instead going with a Thaneborn Barbarian, but my friend has his heart set on playing a warlord and we would have a somewhat similar ability score spread, and based on what I know about the rest of the group I don't think any of them will utilize a build that will have strong Wisdom and access to the Perception skill(Hello Surprise rounds). I have thought about getting access to heavy armor(up to Scale Armor) through feats but don't know if that will actually lead to an effective barbarian, as then I would have to consider Reflex Defense, since I won't be raising Dexterity as much. I don't want to drag the party down or have the DM make encounters easier because I didn't build my character properly.

Should I abandon the idea of playing a Barbarian and go for another class? Or would switching to heavy armor through feats solve my problems? Maybe the powers and class features that utilize Constitution aren't that strong and I should avoid them anyway? But then why am I even bothering with the Rageblood Barbarian if its design is such a mess?

This is how I planned to build my character at level 1

Human Barbarian Level 01

Stats after Racial Increases

Str 18
Con 14
Dex 14
Int 10
Wis 13
Cha 8

Feats: Armor Proficiency Chain, Armor Proficiency Scale

At Will: Recuperating, Howling, Devastating
Encounter: Haven't Decided Yet
Daily: Haven't Decided Yet

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Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Barbarians gain a +1 AC when in hide or lesser armors,

That, plus the higher HP gains and the Temporary HP from rageblood features means that you dont have to be afraid to go in melee. You wont be able to avoid getting hit that much, but you will soak a bunch of damage.

Just remember that in 4e, the barbarian is a Striker, meaning that it is more of a class canon when compared to 5e where the Barbarian is less of a damage dealer and more of a tank.

If you really want to go with high AC while dealing reasonnable damage, I'd go with a Fighter using 2-handed weapons (preferably a polearm for Rain of Blows).

This is honestly a case of "Don't sweat the small stuff". If you put all your secondary stat increases into con rather than dex (and con is a really useful stat) then your AC will fall a grand total of 3 points behind over the course of 30 levels. The Thaneborn will also fall those 3 points behind as their secondary stat is Cha.

As for your build, there's no reason at all to have both devastating and howling strike, and Pressing Strike is absolutely my first choice from the Barbarian at wills; first it provides you with easy positioning and flanking and second having an at will push ability is awesome for pushing enemies into their own pit traps or fire places. Or even setting them up for the AoEs. One of the biggest strengths 4e has over 5e is the forced movement abilities, which makes it feel as if you're on location and can interact with everything without much effort, rather than acting against a green screen.

Your feats feel like a bit of a waste to me. In hide armour with no feats you're AC 16; 13 for hide, +2 for your Dex, and a further +1 (and +1 reflex) from Barbarian Agility. You spent your first feat for chain which is AC 16 and your second for scale armour which only boosts you to AC17. If you want a feat to make yourself tougher I'd suggest the Improved Rageblood Vigour feat (PHB2 p186) for 5 extra temp hit points every time you take an enemy to 0hp. This will save you far more damage than a single point of damage ever could. (I'd also recommend as your other feat Warrior of the Wild (PHB p208) for a pick from a great skill list and good damage boost with Student of Battle (PHB p208) to get your friends back on their feet as a second choice.)


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
4e Barbarians are strikers, not tanks. I wouldn’t worry too much about your AC - 16 is pretty solid, and Barbarians have great HP, and gain lots of temp HP, so you can afford to take a few hits. I agree that your feats would be better spent on something other than armor proficiency.

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Something like this might do the trick:

level 1
Human, Barbarian
Build: Rageblood Barbarian
Feral Might: Rageblood Vigor
Human Power Selection: Bonus At-Will Power
Background: Geography - Forest (+2 to Perception)

Str 18, Con 14, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 8.

Str 16, Con 14, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 8.

AC: 16 Fort: 17 Reflex: 14 Will: 14
HP: 29 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 7

Intimidate +4, Athletics +8, Endurance +6, Perception +8

Acrobatics +1, Arcana, Bluff -1, Diplomacy -1, Dungeoneering +1, Heal +1, History, Insight +1, Nature +1, Religion, Stealth +1, Streetwise -1, Thievery +1

Human: Improved Rageblood Vigor
Level 1: Iron Will

Barbarian at-will 1: Pressing Strike
Barbarian at-will 1: Howling Strike
Bonus At-Will Power: Recuperating Strike
Barbarian encounter 1: Avalanche Strike
Barbarian daily 1: Rage Drake's Frenzy

Hide Armor, Greatsword

Looks pretty solid. You should be fine. You have lots of surges, they are worth a lot since you have fairly high hit points as well. You will manage fine. Just charge a lot and murderate stuff, but beware of getting ganged on by the bad guys (like getting way out ahead of the fighter, he's your friend, the anvil to your hammer).


Powers that use con don't always neednit to be super high.

Because of monster accuracy scaling rate, a point of dex is about 10% less vs AC and Reflex damage, which is roughly 2/3 of attacks on you (more if the attack is melee range I find). A point of Con does not have a defensive benefit for a Str primary PC.

Spreading stat increases 3 or 4 ways can suck. The degree of suck will be slow, however; as noted, this is a +3 total bonus we are talking about.

4e Charop does say that the barbarians real secondary stat is dex; basically, accept your rider bonusnis +2 and does not scale. But you can ignore that. If you do boost dex, your AC will reach defender levels. If you don't, it stays at melee striker levels.

Always boost strength. Missing sucks; both fun and usefulness wise.

Remember that 4e underprices "makr more swings" and "add damage to every hit". By paragon (L 11) someone who goes for both has a distinct edge in damage output, and by end of paragon they can easily double their damage per round over the alternatives.


But yes, 2 feats for +1 AC is not a good plan at all.

1 feat for +1 AC is marginal. You can usually do better.


Most melee types benefit from Fighter MC feats, especially strikers. But maybe less so with your restricted book options.

For feats, "Expertise" is something you must take by level 11 (or 15 for the PHB3 ones?). Before it grants +2 it is very good, but not "must have".

But Disciple of Divine Wrath (avenger MC) is solid, especially if you read it as "the power lasts 2 rounds, but the refresh mechanic remains unchanged; so if you drop the foe in the 2 rounds, it recharges".

That also opens up Morninglord if you can arrange to get a radiant weapon (and believe you can get it to scale).

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