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Class Acts: Barbarians (PFRPG) PDF

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The Class Acts PDFs introduce new class options for the base classes and core classes featured in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Every PDF contains two full pages of high quality content (no fluff or filler)!

Class Acts: Barbarians includes thirty-two new rage powers, including two new totems: the Panther and Wave totems.

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Product Reviews (4)

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Class Acts: Barbarians follows the standard 4 page, dual column, simple visuals that are quickly becoming the signature of Abandoned Arts. Opening with their standard explanation of what the theme being covered within this PDF is defined as according to Paizo, we're diving into Rage Powers this time out, 32 new ones to be exact...so let us take a look and see.

OK, Bash Aside has all the flavor of bringing your uber tough guy to a new level by allowing you to literally smack away attacks, even bare handed...and I was good with it, as much as I saw the potential for abuse, right up to the line where you can even bash aside rays and spells...really? Sorry, not at my game table, ever.

Feral Gait will have you running like an ape, knuckles to the ground...in conjunction with the swift foot rage power, this feat will double the speed bonuses granted by the power while raging...am not entirely sold on this, I've seen apes run on all fours...it's a lumbering, awkward thing, and not something that instills thoughts of greater speed in me.

Is That All You've Got? lets you slip in an intimidate check for demoralizing purposes after an enemy scores a crit, or you fail a save against a spell...now, as cool as this sounds, nowhere in here do I see anything in regards to you ignoring the effects of said critical hit, or the spell you failed to save against...how intimidating is the guy who just got thumped? Perhaps if this allowed you to shrug off the effect of the hit/spell, then the concept of this bringing about an intimidate check would make more sense.

Amongst the remaining rage powers are reskinned feats, bland +x -y powers, and at least a few more head scratchers...like Fearmonger, a rage power ties to Cha, and the presence/usage of magical items of a specific descriptor (neither of which were properly formatted)...not only does this not feel like a rage power, in anyway at all, this doesn't even feel like it was written for the barbarian class. Pulverize will never see my game table, as there are so many holes in the concept, any character with a DR renders this rage power useless, and for those without, a coup de grace works so much better. Which brings me to Slaughter, that rage power every GM will be wanting to give their NPC barbarians. Drop an opponent to -1, get the coup de grace as an immediate action...watch your players kick your cat on their way out the door...yup, good times.

Now, they're not all bad, there were a few that caught my eye, like Relentless Assault, which turns the movement from the No Escape rage power into a charge attack. Or Toss Aside which allows you to substitute a reposition combat maneuver for a melee attack, while still doing damage.

Now, the Totem Rage Powers...there are six, dealing with two totems, Panther and Wave...and I won't lie, I could not get on board with Panther, at all. The first of the panther totem powers allows for the stealth skill while raging, which to me, defies the very nature of what raging is. Raging is not control, it is not patience, it is blind physical fury. Now, that is my opinion, but it is what it is, and kept me from being able to even mildly accept the panther totem powers, as they did not, in anyway at all, feel like rage powers to me. Now, other side of that coin, the Wave Totem powers, loved them. The first one is odd, and almost totally useless for a landlocked barbarian, and I would love to see it replaced with something that lives up to the remaining two. Crash gives you a blast of water, expelled from your mouth (very cool!) and Crush allows you to infuse the force of a tidal wave into a melee attack, giving additional dmg dice (nonlethal) to the attack, as well as adding the effects of the hydraulic push spell to your target.

Final thoughts on this product...out of the PDFs I have reviewed for Abandoned Arts, this is easily their lowest offering. Far to few highlights to earn more than a low rating. But, at its price, there are still enough usable powers, Wave Totem for example, that this might be worth picking up. I can not however give this more than a 2 star rating, as the majority of these powers either felt wrong for this class, bland, broken, or poorly designed.


The worst Class Act so far - some gems still there, though

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This pdf is 4 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, two pages of content, so let's check out these 32 new rage powers for the barbarian!

6 of the rage powers herein are totem rage powers, panther and wave rage powers, 3 each: Panther totem grants you +4 to stealth while raging, the sequel grants +4 to perception at 6th level and the lvl 10 power grants you an assassin's death strike while raging. The idea is rather cool, though the fact that one has to be level 10 is a bit late and the cost of having to study 3 rounds while raging and then perform the killing strike is a bit of a steep requirement. The wave totem on the other hand is simply AWESOME in every way - seeing through murky water as if clear, is nice. Unleashing a hydraulic torrent from your mouth and adding the strength of waves to your punches? Now that's iconic and damn effin' cool! Two thumbs up and kudos!

The regular rage powers include quite a breadth of abilities: The very first one eliminates the -2 penalty to CMD when raging, but retains the one to AC. Which is boring and weak. And then there are powers like "Bash aside", which lets you make an opposing attack roll against an incoming attack, even a ray and the like, and on a successful roll, take only minimum damage, bashing even rays and the like away, but only once per rage. While only accessible at 6th level and usable only once per rage, the power feels a tad bit strong to me, seeing that few foes will have the barbarian's powerful attack. Also, I feel that a CMB-check would probably be more appropriate regarding PFRPG-design standards. The idea is great, the execution still a bit wonky, but with a revision, this one will kick @ss and take names!

Bloodbath has a cool name. It grants you the benefits of cleave for 1 round, or greater cleave. If you have powerful blows as a rage power, that power applies to all of your attacks for one round. That's it. A rage power that duplicates a moderately useful feat for one round. Why would anyone take this? It's not cool, it's not iconic, it's bland. And it doesn't deserve to be called after one of my favorite Death Metal-bands.

Fearmonger is another odd one - when raging, it lets you add your Cha-mod to the DC of spell-effects of items with the [fear] and [death]-descriptors. Not only are the two not in any kind of brackets in the text, the power essentially is wholly dependent on magic items AND a high charisma-score - while the latter can be waved in favor of uncommon builds, the former feels just wrong to me and more appropriate for characters like bards, SGG'S War Master or DSP's Tactician.

"Is that all you've got?" on the other hand is so cool it practically demands to be taken - if you're hit by a critical hit or fail a save against a spell, you can demoralize foes as an immediate action! YEAH! Now that's the barbarian way - add the provided synergy with the bash aside power and we have a winner here - both in mechanics and in style.

And then there are powers like pulverize: When you knock an enemy to -1 HP, you deal an additional 2d4 points of damage. If the foe has DR, this power is going to fail. If he doesn't have DR, the additional, non-scaling damage is still not much. And then, there's the fact that you waste a rage power slot on this utterly crappy power. Try as I might, I can find NO USEFUL application of this power, no situation in which this would be even marginally useful. Slaughter lets you coup-de-grace an opponent you've dropped to -1 hp once per rage as an immediate action. Why is on the other side of powerful - if you give this power to NPCs, you players will probably be annoyed as hell and since coup-de-grace is already quite powerful, death is all but ensured for the unfortunates on this power's business end. The rampage power also works similar and lets you move your remaining movement, if any, after dropping an enemy to -1 hp - a good idea per se. Problem is that I'm not sure how this power interacts with cleave, greater cleave etc. - can a barbarian move 5 ft., kill an opponent and then move 20 ft. to cleave another foe? execute the remaining iterative attacks? Clarification is needed here.

Relentless Assault on the other hand is rather cool - the big brother of "no escape", it lets you charge attack enemies who tried to withdraw from you.

Senseless Violence, unfortunately, belongs to the category "filler" in that it grants a +2 morale bonus to atk and damage for one round when you coup-de-grace while raging. You need a helpless opponent. Then make a full round action. And rage. For one meager round of paltry +2 bonuses? Please. This is ridiculously weak and wouldn't even make it as a feat, much less as a rage power.

Toss aside is another winner, or at least has potential: You may once per round attempt the reposition maneuver and deal damage equal to your str-mod to the tossed foe. Apart from the meager damage this deal (a scaling formula with rolling some dice would be better), a cool idea.

There's also a rage-power mini-tree of "wrathful" powers - they all have in common that they work against foes that have damaged you up to 3 rounds before using it: Number 1 grants you a paltry +2 to intimidate, sense motive and perception (why? Your rage makes all clearer? I don't get it.) as well as will-saves against mind-influencing effects. The second one makes AoOs against applicable opponents not count against your allotment per round - cool, albeit limited in use. The third one ads your class level to confirmed criticals against said foes. While the latter two powers are nice, the first feels somewhat disjointed from play and bland in the benefits.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, I didn't notice any significant glitches, although some powers could use additional clarifications. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The Class Acts-series has provided me with some excellent mechanics so far and while one can see that the author Daron Woodson is a relative newcomer to the field, his designs often carry this spark of ingenious innovativeness that makes them somewhat stand out.
While the Class Acts I've reviewed so far have all some heights, they also have lows. This is just about as true with this installment...only that this one misses - a lot. More so than any other of the installments released so far. Some of the powers are not as clear as they ought to be regarding their benefits. Some feel just ridiculously weak. And some others have questionable, very specific benefits. Make no mistake, there are some powers herein that definitely are worth taking a look at - "Bash Aside", the Wave Totem powers and "Is that all you've got?" come to mind - but the majority of the content herein has no use for me or is very specific. There also seems to be a disjointed relation between the fluff of a rage and the benefits of rage powers in some of them, which might be no deal for some of you, but for me it is. I'll be honest with you - if this file was more expensive, I'd slap a 1-star verdict on it and call it quits, but since this pdf is rather cheap and since aforementioned gems actually made me smile and will see usage in my game, I still find some rather worthwhile goodness in what otherwise would be a subpar offering.
If you're willing to ignore the worse parts, I wager you'll still feel somewhat satisfied by this purchase. Thus, my final verdict will be a 1.5 stars, rounded up to 2 due to the gems amidst the rubble.

Endzeitgeist out.


Come For the Rage Powers... Stay for the Panther Totem!

*****

First of all, I just want to say that I was offered on the EnWorld forums (and did accept, obviously) a review copy of this product, if anyone finds that relevant. Now on to the review.

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As with the other Class Acts PDFs, this is a good-looking PDF document by third-party standards. Text heavy but not cluttered, and priced very well.

Like the product description says, there are thirty-two new rage totems contained in this PDF. I'd like to say that again: thirty-two new rage powers. Why is that significant, in my opinion?

An alchemist's discovery, a cleric domain power, a rogue talent, a metamagic feat, a sorcerer bloodline... you can literally write anything you want for these types of abilities. On the other hand, there are only so many ways to say "Grr; you're really strong!"

Abandoned Arts has found thirty-two new ways to say exactly that, though... and without any real stinkers to speak of. Well, maybe one... but I'll get to that when we start talking about the Wave Totem. Aside from that, Zealous Fury is probably underpowered (or at least "powered" on par with the suckier Core Rulebook rage powers, like Bestial Climber/Jumper/Swimmer).

But the Panther Totem... oh boy. Oh boy. I hope I'm not giving too much away when I say that the last power in the Panther Totem line actually gives you a slightly modified version of the assassin's death attack. I know the death attack is not a "new" idea, but in the hands of a barbarian it takes on a total new feel. The other powers in the totem tree are very good also, and all of them really give you a "patient predator" vibe. Creeping through the tall grass, stalking your prey, muscles coiled, ready to spring. This made me really want to play a barbarian, which is EXACTLY what a product like this should do. I love this totem.

Then there's the Wave Totem. A great suite of powers sullied by the worst rage power I've ever seen as a "throwaway" prerequisite choice. The second and third powers in the totem tree are cool, and give you a barbarian-appropriate "crush them like a crashing wave" vibe, but they really don't merit a "throwaway" power in my opinion.

Aside from that, the rage powers here are all very cool and well done. There's a good mix of offensive and defensive powers, though for some reason there's a mini "tree" of three rage powers (Pulverize, Slaughter, and Massacre) that all seem to deal with adding extra damage to opponents that you put at -1 hp or less with your attack. Good choices if your GM makes in-combat healing readily available to NPCs and monsters, but I don't know if this concept really merits three rage powers.

Also noteworthy are the Bash Aside and Is That All You've Got? powers. These two powers are technically unrelated, but they have a neat synergy that just drips with "cool." Imagine using your weapon to smash a scorching ray spell into cinders, and then just sort of waggling your finger at the big bad wizard as if to say "you shouldn't have done that..."

Tempered Rage gives you some of the "cunning barbarian" vibe that the Panther Totem offers, and is a good choice for barbarians seeking to augment or emulate that totem. Lastly, the Wrathful Slayer, Wrathful Opportunist, and Wrathful Critical rage powers tap into a no-brainer mechanic that makes you better able to fight opponents who have injured you recently. Considering that the barbarian is all about rage, I don't know why we haven't seen anything like this before. I like it.

Overall, just a great bunch of rage powers. Needless to say, I highly recommend this product. Four and a half stars. *****

- Sarah McLean


A lot of wasted potential.

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I really like the format for this product, 30+ rage powers packed into less than two pages. If you're looking for barbarian crunch with very little fluff this is the sort of thing you're looking for.

Unfortunately, the crunch fails to deliver in a lot of cases.

Issue #1

Too much improper syntax. Toss Aside is a clear redesign of Knockdown but the line about ignoring attacks of opportunity. Was this intended or forgotten? I assume the latter.

1/minute isn't a cooldown period used in Pathfinder.

Issue #2

Poor game balance. I'll be the first person to shoot down overpowered/broken content but the slider works both ways. A large portion of the 30+ rage powers in this PDF are simply too bad to even consider using.

Pulverize comes to mind when I bring up this point. Pulverize causes a barbarian to do extra damage to an enemy that they've reduced to -1 or fewer HP. This is supposed to represent the barbarian's blows being so devastating that nobody survives them.

This is awesome flavor but is it worth a rage power?

Issue #3

Poor feat/rage power equivalency. Rage powers that emulate feats should do so in an interesting way.

1/day immediate action to double the will bonus from rage against one spell. Keeping in mind that a rage power is worth ~1 feat why not just make this Iron Will?

For 1 round you gain Cleave. If you already have Cleave, gain Great Cleave. Why is this only one round? Why does it require a level 16 barbarian?!




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