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Player asked for a favour: MC Barbarian-Warlock

Sadras

Explorer
I have a player who wishes to run with the theme of a Barbarian believing his totem animal is guiding him (i.e Warlock Patron). I have no issue with the theme, in fact I'm very much a fan of it.

However he would like to modify two class features of the Barbarian and it is this request which is causing me concern, so I'd like to get the collective's input on the matter.

He would like the Barbarian's Rage and Reckless Attack to be powered via emotion (Charisma) and not brute Strength (refer underlined). He is wanting to MC into a Warlock, specifically the Hexblade (refer Xanathar's page 55) because of the below power, so he'd like to synergise the two.

HEX WARRIOR
Whenever you finish a long rest, you can touch one weapon that you are proficient with and that lacks the two -handed property. When you attack with that weapon, you can use your Charisma modifier, instead of Strength or Dexterity, for the attack and damage rolls.

RAGE
(refer PHB)
When you make a melee weapon Attack using Strength, you gain a +2 bonus to the damage roll. This bonus increases as you level.

RECKLESS ATTACK (refer PHB)
Starting at 2nd level, you can throw aside all concern for defense to Attack with fierce desperation. When you make your first Attack on Your Turn, you can decide to Attack recklessly. Doing so gives you advantage on melee weapon Attack rolls using Strength during this turn, but Attack rolls against you have advantage until your next turn.

PLAYER MOTIVATION said:
This I think is a big thing for this character, the wildness/raw emotions of his attacks is important to the concept. I propose for Charisma to replace the Strength requirement in the Rage and Reckless Attack. I understand what the game designers were after implementing this limitation, since if they opened it up to Dexterity it would reflect more on a calculated action. With Charisma it can be viewed as raw-based emotion and perhaps this idea was not considered an option at the time.

Playing it without the change would feel like I had to play the warlock part for a bit and then the play the Barbie part for the other bit, ignoring the other class while I do so. I don't think the design was taken into consideration by the designers due to the chronological order of the material.
Would you allow it at your table?
 
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DEFCON 1

Hero
Using one ability score is just like using any other. So I find absolutely no reason not to let two classes that usually don't have the same ability score focus be allowed to do so. It would also be a wonderful change of pace to see Warlocks multiclass to classes OTHER than Paladin and Sorcerer every freaking time. The only reason we get so many of those goddamn things is not because we have so many paladin/warlock and sorcerer/warlock character stories and backgrounds running around that need to be represented... but merely because "Hey game mechanics work really well together in those combos, so let me try and barely tie these two disparate stories into one just so I can use all these kewl powers together since they're CHA-based and the rules let me!"

So sure... let Rage and Reckless attack work with Charisma. Or... if the player wants to focus on his physical power in this combo, let the player use STR for all their Warlock abilities. Or, if there's just a specific Hexblade ability or two that they want... just do a class feature swap for them. Mix and match to your and their hearts content to get the mechanics they want to exemplify the character's history and actionability that they are looking for. You're never going to really blow anything up because most of the features are fairly well balanced, and you're going to be keeping your eyes on them anyway.
 

jaelis

Explorer
I probably wouldn't allow it at my table. I can't say it would be overpowered (though it might be), just seems too cheap and easy. Instead I'd probably try to houserule a barb primal path that enables the character concept.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Hmm. I would be cautious about this.

As a hexblade player myself, I can see one issue right off the bat: A hexblade can learn Eldritch Smite, which lets you burn spell slots for damage, and the damage is doubled on a crit. When I cast shadow of moil, I have advantage on attacks, crit on 19-20 from Hexblade's Curse, and three attacks per round from Polearm Mastery. This gives me a high chance of scoring a crit and getting a 10d8 damage blast with my other spell slot (plus, of course, a highly effective regular attack routine).

However, I have to use a spell slot and an action to get there, and if I get hit, I can lose concentration on shadow of moil. If I had Reckless Attack, I could use both spell slots, generating a total of 20d8 damage per short rest as a 7th-level PC.

I think it's okay to allow rage to key off Charisma, but I would not allow Reckless Attack to do so.
 
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5ekyu

Explorer
I have a player who wishes to run with the theme of a Barbarian believing his totem animal is guiding him (i.e Warlock Patron). I have no issue with the theme, in fact I'm very much a fan of it.

However he would like to modify two class features of the Barbarian and it is this request which is causing me concern, so I'd like to get the collective's input on the matter.

He would like the Barbarian's Rage and Reckless Attack to be powered via emotion (Charisma) and not brute Strength (refer underlined). He is wanting to MC into a Warlock, specifically the Hexblade (refer Xanathar's page 55) because of the below power, so he'd like to synergise the two.

HEX WARRIOR
Whenever you finish a long rest, you can touch one weapon that you are proficient with and that lacks the two -handed property. When you attack with that weapon, you can use your Charisma modifier, instead of Strength or Dexterity, for the attack and damage rolls.

RAGE
(refer PHB)
When you make a melee weapon Attack using Strength, you gain a +2 bonus to the damage roll. This bonus increases as you level.

RECKLESS ATTACK (refer PHB)
Starting at 2nd level, you can throw aside all concern for defense to Attack with fierce desperation. When you make your first Attack on Your Turn, you can decide to Attack recklessly. Doing so gives you advantage on melee weapon Attack rolls using Strength during this turn, but Attack rolls against you have advantage until your next turn.



Would you allow it at your table?
Probably no to the stat fusion. The hexblade got that benefit to help its class gain decent melee capability without strength. Throwing in the barbarian stuff swaperoo seems over the line to me. Whats next, Warlock cleric using cha for his cleric spells and thief-cleric using wisdom to pick locks so that every mc combo gets to need only one primary stat?

I can be liberal about mc but not about chg up stats to make mc stronger.
 

Seramus

Explorer
Why would he have different emotions? Does he think barbarians are emotionally stunted? They just kinda-sorta rage? They are just half-arsing their rage and his rage is way more ragey?
 

Elfcrusher

Explorer
I wouldn't allow it. It's a MAD build; those exist. It will work fine putting points into both Str and Wis.

On a related note, it seems like a "Totem Spirit" patron could be a great subclass.
 

posineg

Villager
Hex Warrior says "you can"... just use your Str/dex stat.

Was the character a Barb first or a Warlock first? By your title, it looks like barb first. At what level did the MC start?

If a Barb first, then str is the main stat from the beginning and to make a change part way through would take some doing, RP wise... maybe a generic feat to show training to use emotion(chr) as power rather than str.
 

Jester David

Villager
My concern is simple: Strength is a weak ability score. Dex is better for most attackers, being tied to more skills, ranged weapons, AC, and more monster's saving throws. Which is why barbarians are limited to Strength rather than just weapon attacks.

In this case, Charisma is a really good score already, being tied to all the social skills. And attacks with pact weapons.
Getting a Charisma barbarian is a big bonus and allows some strong synergies.

I'd try and split the difference. The character needs to have a reason not to dump Strength but also not to dump Charisma. Perhaps instead of changing the barbarian features, you could change the warlock's. Instead of using Charisma for attack and damage, you add half-Charisma to damage when you make an attack with your pact weapon. So the character gets a damage boost at the cost of spell save DC, or can keep their spell saves/ attacks high and suffer less weapon accuracy but comparable damage. And after a couple ability score boosts it evens out.
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
I would have no problem with this. As [MENTION=7006]DEFCON 1[/MENTION] said, every ability is like any other. There are already tons of ways for other classes to substitute in their prefered modifier for attack and damage. Additionally, this multiclass slows down the spellcasting and invocation progression, as well as prevent him from getting the barbarian capstone while also slowing his access to brutal critical.

The sacrifices seem to balance with the gains.

What I would be curious about are:

1) Will this player also want to cast spells or canteips while raging?

2) How, if at all, would this affect the advantage the player gains on Strength checks and saves while raging?
 
Some people don't like "hit with charisma" (although if you haven't complained about shillelagh I think you don't have standing, since the hexblade is also using magic to hit with charisma). As long as the player doesn't try to get around "can't cast spells while raging", I think I would be good with it. I might suggest that charisma is morale in this case.
 

DEFCON 1

Hero
So what if this Barbarian dumps STR for CHA?

A Barbarian PC usually would have high STR, relatively high CON, maybe a point or two in DEX for the AC boost, and then whatever is left over goes into INT, WIS or CHA. The barbarian is already MAD just like all STR-based characters are. But in this case... you swap out STR for CHA and everything else stays the same.

So as a result, this Barbarian is a couple points worse in Athletics (because they'll still probably be proficient in it), and a point or two better in the social skills (because they'll have a higher CHA but probably no proficiency in anything except Intimidation.) Big whoop.

How many people here think doing this for the barbarian is some sort of huge deal that shouldn't be allowed... but still allow the Paladin to multiclass with Warlock? Because there's virtually no difference between the two-- two big melee warriors getting warlock abilities. The only difference is that one of the two had WOTC TELL US that one of them should use CHA from the get-go (and dump DEX as a result of it.) So just because WotC says that the paladin should have a high CHA, it's perfectly fine for them to multiclass with Warlock with no issues?

I find it rather silly that it's apparently okay for any classes that got assigned the same ability score to use BY WOTC for their abilities are perfectly acceptable to multiclass well with each other... but the classes that WEREN'T given the same ability score focus by WotC are somehow some sort of major wall that shouldn't be allowed to cross. And this is exactly why we don't have any agile dual-wielding Barbarians either... because no one wants to allow Reckless or Rage to work with DEX for some belief that its going to "throw the whole system off!"

Bah! Bah, I say! Everything is just numbers. And this barbarian is going to roll attacks with a +5 bonus just like any other barbarian would. And their skills will be in the +1 to +4 range just like any other barbarian is. The only difference? This barbarian will actually GET ROLEPLAYED DIFFERENTLY than any other standard barbarian we see all the time, and to me, that's a BOON to the game and your table.
 

Paul Farquhar

Explorer
I wouldn't allow it.

I would suggest that the player chooses a less OP variety of warlock to multiclass with. There are ways of making this an interesting character without rewriting the rules.

Rage makes you hit harder, not more charismatically.

I ban hexblades from multiclassing at my table.
 

Eltab

Villager
For a home table, sure go ahead. Tell the player you will run it as a test; if he unbalances fights (or something else) you will find out and can then adapt further or "make it didn't happen".

I am currently running an Arcane Trickster / Trickery Cleric. This is fun and flavorful but MAD. I picked Forest Gnome for his race so I would have decent (but not high) Spell Save DCs.
 

Sadras

Explorer
Was the character a Barb first or a Warlock first? By your title, it looks like barb first. At what level did the MC start?
So we have just started a new campaign at 3rd. They have had one session so far and he asked me if he could not change one of the levels to Warlock. Generally I am easy within the first two sessions on changing up a few things.

1) Will this player also want to cast spells or cantrips while raging?
Nope.

2) How, if at all, would this affect the advantage the player gains on Strength checks and saves while raging?
Not affected.

@DEFCON 1 - I pretty much agree with you on this.

I have had a look at the both the barbarian and the hexblade class. There is no real mechanical benefit I foresee that would be an issue at my table. I personally think the player is building his character incorrectly, said as much to him. There are better ways to make the concept through Background, Feats, Skills, Bonds, Flaws and Ideals - including a makeshift Patron Feat of sorts if need be. Failing that a combination of class features from the two classes.
As I see it the high Charisma is actually hindering him (points wise), he won't be casting offensive spells so he doesn't need the high DC and as for the Hexblade Curse minor healing it is not worth it if he only sees the character advancing to level 3.
Leaving the ability points in Strength actually works better since he intends to advance in Barbarian and Hexblade Curse works fine with that.

I think he is happy I said yes, but muddled that I provided so many possibly better options for building his character. :D

Thanks all.

EDIT: BTW @Seramus your comment was awesome!
 
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BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Barb/Warlock already works surprisingly well. Especially with Fiend Patron adding Temp HPs and Rage making those Temp HPs more valuable. It's MAD, but guess what? All Barbarians are a MAD. Letting a multiclass bypass that MADness seems like a bad idea to me. Especially if you add in Elven Accuracy.
 

the Jester

Legend
No. I don't change the rules to make a character concept convenient. I'm afraid this guy would need to have a good strength and a good charisma to make his concept work- and that, I feel, is how it should be.
 

Warpiglet

Explorer
I wouldn't allow it. It's a MAD build; those exist. It will work fine putting points into both Str and Wis.

On a related note, it seems like a "Totem Spirit" patron could be a great subclass.
Not only do they exist, but they can be fun because they are less common! If one stat powers everything, everything seems samey samey to me.

The fact that a melee sorcerer might have to pump strength AND charisma causes me no heartburn at all.

Essentially the character concept is totally legal within the rules. Bending the rules is merely to get a higher bonus. I dunno...sort of cheapens things for me. The way I see it, limitations make the game cooler and make exceptional things exceptional!

Of late in other threads I have discussed the need to put lower scores in some stats and it actually gives the character more character...(IMHO).

I am not disparaging the concept or the generosity of the DM if he grants it...but I like some things to be uncommon and for there to be trade offs. What is the worst case here if we don't bundle the stats/bonuses? He is an ASI behind in one stat? I think it is actually unnecessary to have 20s in a prime stat(s). Even at high level the difference between a 16 and 20 is the difference between finding a nice weapon and some people do and some people don't!
 

akr71

Explorer
Hex Warrior says "you can"... just use your Str/dex stat.

Was the character a Barb first or a Warlock first? By your title, it looks like barb first. At what level did the MC start?

If a Barb first, then str is the main stat from the beginning and to make a change part way through would take some doing, RP wise... maybe a generic feat to show training to use emotion(chr) as power rather than str.
I agree with this.

I would add that if the character was a Barb first, they likely heavily invested in Str/Dex/Con for Rage & Unarmored Defense. To turn around and invest heavily in a 4th stat (Cha) isn't likely to give you as much synergy as you'd like.

If the character was a Hexblade first, and then went all ragey, I might be more open to it.
 

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