The Dino-barian - A new barbarian path

Caliban

Rules Monkey
Had this idea while working on some NPC halflings for an upcoming game and decided to try and turn it into a player option. I think it still needs some fine tuning, but this is what I have so far:

The Path of the King



Similar to the Totem Warrior, this path allows the barbarian to bond with a totem spirit, but in this case the spirit is that of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It was first followed by the warriors of the halfling Thunder Lizard tribe, who made their home on a volcanic island with many species of dinosaurs. Their small size made survival difficult, so the barbarians of the tribe drew on the spirit of the largest predator around - the Tyrannosaurus Rex.


3rd level) - The King's Feast - When you rage, your jaws distend and your teeth become large and sharp. You may make a bite attack (1d6+Str modifier) as a bonus action.

6th level) Hail to the King: You may wield weapons with the Heavy quality without disadvantage even if you are Small. When raging you are considered Large for the purposes of Athletics checks made to Grapple or Shove. Plus, the ground shakes with every step you take as the spirit of the T-Rex lends spiritual weight to your body

10th level) The King’s Speech: You may use your strength modifier (instead of your charisma modifier) on persuasion and intimidate checks

14th level) It’s Good to Be King - when you rage, you may Wildshape into a Tyrannosaurus Rex as part of the same bonus action. Ending the Wildshape, or being forced back into your normal form due to being reduced to zero HP or other means ends your Rage as well. While in this form you may not make the bonus action bite attack granted by The King’s Feast. This ability recharges on a long rest.
 
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Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
Not the direction I thought this would go based on the title. I thought it would be like the Talenta Dino Riders from Eberron. But this is cool too.

Most of this seems pretty cool and mechanically balanced. I'm thinking Hail to the King is a bit on the powerful side, but not sure how to change it.

But It's Good to be King is probably too powerful. Considering the number of Rages a barbarian gets, the combination of bonus HP on top of that, the wildshape ability seems a bit much. I would probably limit that to once per long rest.

Damn. Now I'm really wanting a Barbarian Dino Rider archetype.
 


Caliban

Rules Monkey
But It's Good to be King is probably too powerful.

I'm actually worried it may be under powered. I originally had it as the 10th level ability, but decided it was thematically better as the capstone ability.

Sure, you can turn into a huge T-Rex, but it's only a CR 8 creature. You lose all your magic items (unless you have something a t-rex can wear) and weapons, so your attacks get reduced from 4 to 2 (but they do more damage). You get to keep your barbarian abilities, so you can add your Con to AC, giving you a 17 instead of a 13 (going up to 19 AC at lvl 20). Your HP may actually go down. The big thing is effectively gaining a 136 hp that you can lose without needing to be healed (effectively more due to the damage resistance from Rage). You are just really hard to kill at this point.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
I'm actually worried it may be under powered. I originally had it as the 10th level ability, but decided it was thematically better as the capstone ability.

Sure, you can turn into a huge T-Rex, but it's only a CR 8 creature. You lose all your magic items (unless you have something a t-rex can wear) and weapons, so your attacks get reduced from 4 to 2 (but they do more damage). You get to keep your barbarian abilities, so you can add your Con to AC, giving you a 17 instead of a 13 (going up to 19 AC at lvl 20). Your HP may actually go down. The big thing is effectively gaining a 136 hp that you can lose without needing to be healed (effectively more due to the damage resistance from Rage). You are just really hard to kill at this point.

Here's my thing. Let's compare these abilities to the other barbarian archetypes. Level 6 tends to be a decent, though weaker or more narrow ability. Frenzy barbarians can't be charmed or fightened, while the totem barbarian let's you increase carrying capacity, see farther, or travel at normal speed as a group when tracking or stealthing. In this comparison, I'd say aspect of the king works at level 6.

But level 10 is usually a pretty worthless ribbon ability. Frenzy barbarians can use their action to frighten someone, modified by what is usually a barbarian dump stat (Charisma), and Totem Barbarians are getting Commune with Nature. These are both solid RP abilities, but not meant for combat. Based off this, your Hail to the King ability is way better (especially since unlike the Frenzy Barbarian, you can make that bonus action attack without taking a level of exhaustion, on top of temp HP if you knock someone out with it).

But now, when we compare It's Good To Be King with the other Barbarian archetype capstones, it really outshines them. The Frenzy Barbarian can use their reaction to make a melee attack against someone if they deal the Frenzy Barbarian damage. The totem barbarian gets similar choices that can enhance combat options (bonus action to knock someone prone, allies are attacked at disadvantage if next to you, or limited fly speed). But your ability grants them a much more powerful attack mode with multiattack and a wildshape HP pool, with the potential for more temp HP on top of that.

Sorry, but your current version of this archetype really outshines the other standard choices.
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
But your ability grants them a much more powerful attack mode with multiattack and a wildshape HP pool, with the potential for more temp HP on top of that.

Sorry, but your current version of this archetype really outshines the other standard choices.

That's just it - it's not a "much more powerful attack mode". They lose the abilities of any magic weapon or magic items. They go from 4 to 2 attacks, or 1 attack if they are fighting a single creature. It has a higher base damage, but they are also less likely to hit with it. Their AC most likely goes down. Plus, they are now Huge. There are many situations where you simply won't be able to use the ability due to the size of the T-rex form. I think it makes them a better tank, but not better at DPS.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
They lose the abilities of any magic weapon or magic items.

Given the way magic items are handled in 5e, this shouldn't be an automatic assumption that characters will have access to magical items, and thus shouldn't be a factor in balancing a class. In a magic heavy world, this character might be a bit worse off, but just as easily get items meant for druids that maintain their bonus or specifically provide their bonus during wildshape. On the other hand, in a magic poor world, this ability allows the barbarian to outshine other classes in damage potential and damage absorption.

They go from 4 to 2 attacks, or 1 attack if they are fighting a single creature. It has a higher base damage, but they are also less likely to hit with it.

Sorry, but this is just plain wrong. Most barbarians only get two attacks with Extra Attack. Frenzy Barbarians get an additional attack as a bonus action, but must suffer a level of exhaustion for it, and Battlerage Barbarians get one that only deals 1d4+strength. Yours gets 2 with Extra Attack, a bonus action attack equal to a greataxe without the same penalty as the Frenzy Barbarian, and a potential attack against a different enemy from the bite attack with what is equivalent to a longsword. Already, your barbarian overshadows the others in terms of potential damage output.

Now add in the wildshaping into a T-Rex. Let's assume you already have 20 strength by this point. Your normal attack bonus will be +10, and your damage bonus with rage is +8. Going into T-Rex form, you suddenly get an attack bonus of +12, with a damage bonus of +10 including rage. On top of that, you get two attack modes (bite and tail) which you can use multuiattack to attack with both as an action. The bite is going to deal 4d12+10 damage. Brutal critical is maximized because you get to use the highest possible damage dice. The second attack is 3d8+10 damage. In one round, you are dealing the equivalent of 4 greatsword attacks and 3 longsword attacks. Yes, technically you have fewer attacks than you would without wildshaping (but still just as many as most other barbarians), but you get a bonus to hit and with reckless attack your chances of striking are even better.


Their AC most likely goes down.

Yes, your AC does suffer. But given you are wildshaping, you maintain your mental scores and class abilities. This means you are gaining your resistances from rage, the potential for LOTS temp HP, and a wildshape HP pool that multiplies based on the number of rages you have.


Plus, they are now Huge. There are many situations where you simply won't be able to use the ability due to the size of the T-rex form.

This may be legitimate, but still depends on play style. The ability becomes useless in dungeon crawls and tavern brawls, but is stupidly powerful out in the open with the only limit being how much space is there and how many rages you have left. And you still get more attacks and damage potential than most other barbarians even without the abilit


I think it makes them a better tank, but not better at DPS.

It is the Barbarian God of both DPS and Tanking. The first two abilities of the class seem legit (minus feast of the fallen). But as I mentioned before, following in the structure of the PHB archetypes, level 10 is a ribbon/RP ability, and level 14 adds an additional combat option. Both of your level 10 and 14 abilities outshine any presented in the other archetypes.
 
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Caliban

Rules Monkey
It is the Barbarian God of both DPS and Tanking. The first two abilities of the class seem legit (minus feast of the fallen). But as I mentioned before, following in the structure of the PHB archetypes, level 10 is a ribbon/RP ability, and level 14 adds an additional combat option. Both of your level 10 and 14 abilities outshine any presented in the other archetypes.

Look, I'm not saying you don't have a valid point, the abilities may be a bit too good and I'll adjust it later today when I have time. But seriously, you are wildly exaggerating how good they are.

Plus I disagree about the magic item thing. Every game I've played in, the players can expect a reasonable amount of magic items, especially by lvl 14. The game I'm running is no exception. I'm not going to balance the path around a hypothetical magic poor game that I'm not running or playing. I'll balance it around the type of game I expect to be played and if someone wants to run a magic poor game they can make adjustments as they see fit.
 
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Oofta

Legend
Don't forget the big drawback of turning into a T-Rex: you can no longer clap your hands! Devastating.

I'd be more concerned about the 10th level ability, it seems overpowered as most other barbarian 10th level abilities are not that useful. Maybe something more along the line of intimidating presence where you can use your action to look at somebody within 30 feet and scream "Rawr!". They then fall into a fit of laughing, can no longer use bonus actions or reactions and have disadvantage on saves. On subsequent turns you can yell "Rawr!" again to continue the laughter.

It uses an action, is moderately useful but doesn't give you a bonus attack which is pretty huge.
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
Don't forget the big drawback of turning into a T-Rex: you can no longer clap your hands! Devastating.

I'd be more concerned about the 10th level ability, it seems overpowered as most other barbarian 10th level abilities are not that useful. Maybe something more along the line of intimidating presence where you can use your action to look at somebody within 30 feet and scream "Rawr!". They then fall into a fit of laughing, can no longer use bonus actions or reactions and have disadvantage on saves. On subsequent turns you can yell "Rawr!" again to continue the laughter.

It uses an action, is moderately useful but doesn't give you a bonus attack which is pretty huge.

Yeah, I'm planning on changing it to some thing like that, called "The King's Speech". Just don't have time right now, I'm at work.
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
You asked for feedback, and were given (IMO) accurate feedback. It's not an issue of magic-rich, or magic-poor, it's a question of the relative strength of this option as opposed to other options.

And I acknowledged it. But feedback isn't a one-way street.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
Look, I'm not saying you don't have a valid point, the abilities may be a bit too good and I'll adjust it later today when I have time. But seriously, you are wildly exaggerating how good they are.

Plus I disagree about the magic item thing. Every game I've played in, the players can expect a reasonable amount of magic items, especially by lvl 14. The game I'm running is no exception. I'm not going to balance the path around a hypothetical magic poor game that I'm not running or playing. I'll balance it around the type of game I expect to be played and if someone wants to run a magic poor game they can make adjustments as they see fit.

Sorry, I don't wanna sound like I'm knocking your archetype down. I really like it in concept and it seems very cool. But if you look at how this archetype stacks up against the other archetypes, the abilities are too powerful.

Some suggestions I'd have to reign it in are:

1) Make It's Good To Be King a polymorph effect rather than wildshape. Especially since the activation is linked to rage, there's no reason the barbarian should keep their mental stats or class abilities while in T-Rex form.

2) Make It's Good To Be King a once per long rest ability.

3) Hail To The King really needs to be a ribbon ability. Maybe the ability to communicate with Dinosaurs, or having Dinosaurs require a Wisdom save in order to attack you.

4) Feast on the Fallen shouldn't be in there. Barbarian archetypes only really grant one true ability at 3rd level. Those that grant more (Totem Barbarian, Battlerager) are really minor ribbon abilities that make sense to the archetype but don't necessarily grant any combat advantage.
 


Caliban

Rules Monkey
*grin* Pedantry alert! Feedback is, in fact, a one-way street. You can look it up (it's the return of information). Perhaps you meant that you were hoping for a dialogue. :)

To the extent you agree with the feedback you were given, and that the level 10 and 14 abilities might be a little out of wack, I look forward to your further iterations and improvements, upon which we can deliver additional feedback.

Well in this context I meant something more like a feedback loop, or brainstorming. Feedback, debate, adjustment, repeat, and eventually playtest.

I'm thinking of something like:

10th - The Kings Speech: You may use your strength modifier on persuasion and intimidate checks, or the ability to roar and frighten hostile creatures within 30 feet or something.

14th - restrict it to once per long rest. You really shouldn't need a T-Rex more than once a day anyway.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
10th - The Kings Speech: You may use your strength modifier on persuasion and intimidate checks

That seems fine. It especially works in consideration that this is probably the archetype of the tribal chief, and strength being valued has learned to utilize their strength to sway the opinion of others.

14th - restrict it to once per long rest. You really shouldn't need a T-Rex more than once a day anyway.

I still think changing it to a polymorph effect rather than a wildshape effect is more appropriate, but it definitely helps to bring it more in line with other archetypes.
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
I've updated the original post with my changes. The Feast of the Fallen ability is removed, and some of the names have been moved around or changed.

Feast of the Fallen was part of my original brainstorming for this path, but it's not really thematically consistent with the other abilities. Now I want to write up a "Path of the Ghoul" that uses it. :)
 

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