Monday, September 01, 2008

The Classes: Barbarians

Destruction Incarnate

Untamed and unpredictable, the way of the barbarian is a choice, not a mere slur thrown at those deemed savage by their ‘betters’. The hot blood flowing through their veins does not discriminate between those born of rustic or genteel origins, and can take years to control, let alone master. Flashes of raw and ready temper mark one as a barbarian early in life, and while it is the individual who chooses whether to use this ability for good or ill- indeed, if at all- it is the culture surrounding them determines whether those afflicted view it as a curse or a blessing.

Half-orcs are by far the most common strain of barbarian, as they must learn to temper their urges more so than any one else. Whether they are growing up enduring the brutal hazing of their full orc cousins or the sullen fear of human half siblings, the stanch self-control this class perhaps paradoxically offers proves to be a boon for half-orcs during their formative years. They grow almost comfortable on the outskirts of society: too useful to dismiss or ignore, and too dangerous to attack directly- even with superior numbers. It is only a matter of time until such an individual becomes a wanderer, as one too many near-incidents (some carefully orchestrated by bigoted kinfolk) force them to seek their fortune elsewhere.

While not exactly welcomed with open arms, true elves and dwarves actively seek out their future barbarians. The Shuu believe barbarians are the physical manifestation of the Yggdrasil’s fury, and abandon them in the most inhospitable parts of that very same forest within a fortnight of their first rage to seek its blessing. The few who survive exposure and find their way back to their people are inducted into the tribe with all the fanfare due a warrior destined for greatness, though they are still given a wide berth. Dwarves watch their young barbarians from afar, quietly cleaning up the aftermath of their destructive fury. They are given numerous tests of character and integrity, and those whose alignments would damage the reputation of the local Blood are sent into exile. Those that prove worthy are exhaustively educated in the laws and history of their people- sometimes even serving brief stints as arbitrators and diplomats- and then set loose upon the world, given great latitude in their adventuring life with the unspoken understanding that they should only use their gift in the service of the Oneclan.

Barbarians from other peoples are unique individuals who turn to this class for solace after some terrible incident resulted in their expulsion. Halflings in particular revile their few barbarians, as their society looks down on the blatant violence that is the class’ hallmark. Many humans share this sentiment, but those that live in areas where one must be particularly strong or ruthless in order to survive respect their capabilities. Half-dragon barbarians are almost completely lost to the primal side of their draconic nature, dividing others into neat categories of potential threat and potential prey. Common elven and half elven barbarians are stereotyped as those who take their admiration of their cousins too far, but some are lost and troubled souls who do not learn how to control the blood of their Shuu ancestors until it is too late.

Regardless of their origins, all barbarians have a certain practicality about them that help them gel with most adventuring parties. Their insular, straightforward outlook can make them prone to prejudice and distrust when it comes to unfamiliar races, but this rarely extends to classes. For example, they do not differentiate between different types of magic users, although the role the arcane and the divine played in their upbringing may result in the party will-worker being treated with great respect-- or killed in their sleep in the name of self-defense. Barbarians deem fighters and reavers worthy friends and rivals, though rogues are rarely trusted. Paladins, rangers, and bards are curiosities best judged individually, but they save their greatest astonishment for monks, who have spent years training to transcend the wash of emotion they rely upon for survival.

Barbarian Traits:

The barbarian class is the same as presented in the Player’s Handbook, except as follows:

Rage- A barbarian adds their Constitution modifier to the amount of times they can rage per day, and a rage lasts for a number of rounds equal to half the character's level in barbarian plus their (improved) Constitution modifier.

Trap Sense- This extraordinary ability reflects the barbarian’s quick reflexes beset upon by aggressors both mechanical and mortal. They can add the bonus from this ability to their initiative modifier.

Frenzy- Frenzy is mechanically identical to rage but the barbarian is not in control of herself and will continuously attack the creature that caused them to become frenzied until either they drop of the creature does. The latter can be just as problematic as the former, as once they have dropped said creature, the barbarian will then attack the creature physically closest to her without pausing to discern between friend or foe. A frenzy is triggered either when the character is dropped below their barbarian level in hit points due to an attack (falling damage, subdual damage, poison damage and damage from traps do not count), or when they suffer a critical hit. A barbarian can attempt to avoid frenzy either by making Will save with a difficulty equal to 20 minus their barbarian level(in the case of low hit points) or the damage dealt (in the case of a critical hit) . A barbarian cannot intentionally fail this save, nor can they enter a rage to avoid frenzy. There is no limit to the amount of times a barbarian can frenzy in one day. Once the frenzy ends, the barbarian is exhausted. All of the spells that would end a rage also end a frenzy(such as calm emotions), as does knocking out the barbarian through subdual damage or other means. A barbarian who is at risk for frenzy while in the midst of a rage checks for frenzy immediately after the rage ends. If the save fails, they frenzy and are not considered fatigued.

Bonus Feats: At first level, a barbarian can take either Iron Will or Diehard as a bonus feat. At third level, a barbarian receives either Improved Grapple or Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. Finally, at fifth level, they receive either Mobility or Combat Reflexes as a bonus feat.

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