D&D (2024) The Unrealized Barbarian Nerf.

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
So the D&D 2024/1D&D/5.5e/Anniversary playtest Barbarian is here, and it is, so far, the least talked about changes of its packet.

Arguably the biggest change to the Barbarian lies in the Weapon tables changes, granting weapons extra riders when you attack. Which says a lot about the rest of the changes, really.

  • Rage lasts longer, and can be extended by use of a bonus action now instead of punching yourself (but people can argue that’s a wash given the evocative flavor)
  • They get an extra skill (similar to the alternate class feature from TCoE), and while in rage can use their class skills with STR (I really wish that part was always on, more out of combat options are nice, plus you could still rage to gain automatic advantage on all of your new STR checks, providing a synergy)
  • Brutal Critical is now an appreciable amount of bonus damage instead of an extra die, allowing it to function with every kind of weapon and scale better with level.
  • The other class features were shuffled around a tad or take place in a tier of the game where nobody will play.
  • Oh, and of course, the Berserker subclass no longer kills you when you use it’s primary feature. (Which is the bare minimum I expected for it)

While that seems all fine and good, I want to talk about system changes that have a knock-on effect. As you may or may not know, I did a lets read of Mordenkainen Presents Monster of the Multiverse. The thread was focused on monster design as it might apply to the edition changeover, and one of the takeaways was that monsters were losing the Magical Weapons ability in favor of simply having elemental damage on their attacks. The primary benefit of this change was to make the monsters feel more “magical”, with the secondary effect of significantly cutting down the word count.

This is a problem because Barbarian Rage does not normally resist elemental damage. (Though I know given the number of bear totem barbarians, many tables may not realize this fact). These typically higher level monsters now have an automatic way to bypass the primary defensive ability of Barbarians, at a point in the game where martial classes begin to start tapering off.

I had put off posting a thread about this because I was waiting on the Barbarian packet to see if WoTC were going to fix this new snag in design philosophy. But in seeing that they didn’t change base class Rage resistance, nor provide the sample subclass with an expanded Resistance option, I am now posting about it to raise awareness of a problem that has slipped through the cracks, in the hopes that it might be addressed before it becomes cemented.
 

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So the D&D 2024/1D&D/5.5e/Anniversary playtest Barbarian is here, and it is, so far, the least talked about changes of its packet.

Arguably the biggest change to the Barbarian lies in the Weapon tables changes, granting weapons extra riders when you attack. Which says a lot about the rest of the changes, really.

  • Rage lasts longer, and can be extended by use of a bonus action now instead of punching yourself (but people can argue that’s a wash given the evocative flavor)
  • They get an extra skill (similar to the alternate class feature from TCoE), and while in rage can use their class skills with STR (I really wish that part was always on, more out of combat options are nice, plus you could still rage to gain automatic advantage on all of your new STR checks, providing a synergy)
  • Brutal Critical is now an appreciable amount of bonus damage instead of an extra die, allowing it to function with every kind of weapon and scale better with level.
  • The other class features were shuffled around a tad or take place in a tier of the game where nobody will play.
  • Oh, and of course, the Berserker subclass no longer kills you when you use it’s primary feature. (Which is the bare minimum I expected for it)

While that seems all fine and good, I want to talk about system changes that have a knock-on effect. As you may or may not know, I did a lets read of Mordenkainen Presents Monster of the Multiverse. The thread was focused on monster design as it might apply to the edition changeover, and one of the takeaways was that monsters were losing the Magical Weapons ability in favor of simply having elemental damage on their attacks. The primary benefit of this change was to make the monsters feel more “magical”, with the secondary effect of significantly cutting down the word count.

This is a problem because Barbarian Rage does not normally resist elemental damage. (Though I know given the number of bear totem barbarians, many tables may not realize this fact). These typically higher level monsters now have an automatic way to bypass the primary defensive ability of Barbarians, at a point in the game where martial classes begin to start tapering off.

I had put off posting a thread about this because I was waiting on the Barbarian packet to see if WoTC were going to fix this new snag in design philosophy. But in seeing that they didn’t change base class Rage resistance, nor provide the sample subclass with an expanded Resistance option, I am now posting about it to raise awareness of a problem that has slipped through the cracks, in the hopes that it might be addressed before it becomes cemented.
Yes. Probably all barbarians should get the bear totem resistance at some level. I think the bear totem is overrated for low levels anyway and should be replaced. And at higher levels every barb needs it.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Yes. Probably all barbarians should get the bear totem resistance at some level. I think the bear totem is overrated for low levels anyway and should be replaced. And at higher levels every barb needs it.
Must be a table issue. Because the Bear Totem Barb at my table pretty much soaks anything and everything I throw at him. In any other party make-up I wouldn't be building my encounters the way I do because I wouldn't be seeing half to three-quarters of all the HP damage I do getting absorbed by this one character. The Barb doesn't need Bear Totem to survive, he would survive quite well even without it-- the Bear Totem just adds to the character's mystique (which is great for his mythic destiny in my Theros game, which is why I can't get too annoyed.)

But maybe other DMs just use spellcasters in their encounters more than I do that it makes it seem like all Barbarians need to resist virtually all damage? But even so... every Barbarian taking quarter-damage on all saving throw attacks (since the damage spells are usually DEX and CON, which I see the Barbarian PC tends to easily make)? Seems like overkill to me personally.
 

TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
But maybe other DMs just use spellcasters in their encounters more than I do that it makes it seem like all Barbarians need to resist virtually all damage? But even so... every Barbarian taking quarter-damage on all saving throw attacks (since the damage spells are usually DEX and CON, which I see the Barbarian PC tends to easily make)? Seems like overkill to me personally.
It isn't really about saving throw attacks, it's about the fact that a lot of mid-high level monsters do elemental damage as their baseline attacks. Not just spellcasters, random high-level mook monsters.
 

Must be a table issue. Because the Bear Totem Barb at my table pretty much soaks anything and everything I throw at him. In any other party make-up I wouldn't be building my encounters the way I do because I wouldn't be seeing half to three-quarters of all the HP damage I do getting absorbed by this one character. The Barb doesn't need Bear Totem to survive, he would survive quite well even without it-- the Bear Totem just adds to the character's mystique (which is great for his mythic destiny in my Theros game, which is why I can't get too annoyed.)

But maybe other DMs just use spellcasters in their encounters more than I do that it makes it seem like all Barbarians need to resist virtually all damage? But even so... every Barbarian taking quarter-damage on all saving throw attacks (since the damage spells are usually DEX and CON, which I see the Barbarian PC tends to easily make)? Seems like overkill to me personally.

As stated in this thread, right now it plays out ok. But with other kinds of damage at higher levels for standard attacks, barbarian could get problems.
Their dex save advantage currently helps them a lot vs energy damage spells.
 

Clint_L

Hero
I'm not really seeing the problem - barbarians are still incredibly durable with a massive hit point pool and resistance to a huge amount of damage. Part of playing a barbarian is recognizing when you are in a situation when your resistance will not be as effective, and changing the party tactics to account for that.

I disagree that all barbarians should get the bear totem at some effect. If you want the primary tanking benefit, take the primary tanking sub-class.

What about the other changes to barbarians? Seems like very little discussion about the proposed changes to this class. Did WotC pretty much nail it?
 


I disagree that all barbarians should get the bear totem at some effect. If you want the primary tanking benefit, take the primary tanking sub-class.
I don't like the fact, that so many people feel preasured to get the bear totem, which is actually quite underpowered at the point where you get it.
I would even say it is a trap option.

Instead of bear totem you could take wolf token and give everyone around you advantage on all attacks...
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
Bear's a bit overrated and the Barbarian will be absolutely fine taking a little more damage than it used to. I think everything is fine here.

(Though much like @DEFCON 1, my opinion may be coloured by my usual lack of using spellcasting monsters. I just don't like a big statblock, and I really don't like a statblock that doesn't tell me what the monster can do without me having to look elsewhere for it.)
 

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