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Can a barbarian / druid be a viable multiclass combination?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I'm wondering if it is possible to play a barbarian/druid multiclass character that is actually mechanically viable. Or does multiclassing in this combination limit the individual classes too much for the character to be competitive with single-class characters of the same level.

I'm not looking for role-playing related stuff, I know that any character can be viable for play if you have fun role-playing it; I'm looking at this from a purely mechanical viewpoint.

What do you think? Can this multiclass combination created in a way so it can keep up?

An aside: my favorite race for the character I'm envisioning is dwarf.


clarifying question.

Are you trying to build this guy to get serious synergy out of BArbarian and Wildshape? or are you using the more flexible caster-type druid abilities to make him a more strategically flexible character?


Zaister wrote:
I'm wondering if it is possible to play a barbarian/druid multiclass character that is actually mechanically viable.

Sure. If you take one level of barbarian and druid for the rest of your levels, you should be able to make a decent melee druid, IMO.

(Note: For some folks "viable" means "as good as a single-classed cleric or wizard", but I disagree. :-)


I'm playing a half-orc druid in Legacy of Fire who has a background of being a raider. He's not a nice person at all. I plan on taking some barbarian levels once my companion turns large size.

So far, playing a melee druid is lots of fun, and the barb levels will fit perfectly for both build and theme.


See if you can take the Druid variant from UA.

Shadow Lodge

Cartigan wrote:
See if you can take the Druid variant from UA.

He is talking about this Variant.

Qadira

Damn, beat me to it ;P

Shadow Lodge

If I hadn't known exactly what he was talking about, I don't think I would have!


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Eben TheQuiet wrote:

clarifying question.

Are you trying to build this guy to get serious synergy out of BArbarian and Wildshape? or are you using the more flexible caster-type druid abilities to make him a more strategically flexible character?

I wasn't actually thinking about any special direction, more if it generally possible to find some useful synergy between the classes.

I was just going off the idea that the classes fit well together thematically, and a character idea formed in my mind.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Cartigan wrote:
See if you can take the Druid variant from UA.

Thanks, that does indeed go in the direction I'm thinking about, but in the end I'm looking for something based in Pathfinder sources only.


Zaister wrote:


I was just going off the idea that the classes fit well together thematically, and a character idea formed in my mind.

Only kind of now that Wildshape has changed from the original PHB style to the PHB II variant style.


Going to Druid 4/Barb 16, you'd have a melee character with some useful abilities. Woodland stride and the ability to use wildshape 1/day is something that would be useful to you at all levels.

The +4 to will saves is nice for a barbarian, and you only lose 1 BAB.

I'd take one of the cleric domains instead of an animal companion, since it won't advance enough to survive, and more spells never hurt anyone.

You'd have a lot of fun in the woods!


Oh, i would have suggested just the opposite, honestly... going with a wildshaping/melee build with a handful of rounds of rage per day would be nice.


Eben TheQuiet wrote:
Oh, i would have suggested just the opposite, honestly... going with a wildshaping/melee build with a handful of rounds of rage per day would be nice.

That would work, too!


It seems to me it could be working, if you are using the Melee Wildshape druid variant, but only if you take very few Barbarian levels. I'd say a one level dip, maybe two.

This would delay your Wildshaping ability and animal companion by one level, in exchange for:

-3 more hit points (assuming your first level is Barbarian for the max starting HD. Also, the 3 more HP assumes you will be taking HP for your favored class bonus, since both classes have decent skill points per level, and that your favored class is druid).

-A more varied choice of weapons. Great for when you are out of Shillelag or Wildshape. Let's you use a Earthbreaker or Greatsword wihtout wasting a feat.

-Rage ability. A pretty good bonus, but somewhat short-lived. Thematically great, but a bit annoying that you don't get to improved its duration or gain rage powers. Will leave you fatigued or exhausted, which you can prevent once a day if you took the Country-Born feat from RotRL Player's Guide.

-Higher base speed. I am not quite sure how this translates into Wildshape. When you Wildshape, you acquire the base speed of the creature your polymorphed into. Polymorph specifies that you lose any EX ability that is dependent on your base form, movement types possessed by your original form, and also lose any class features that depend upon form. On the other hand, the Barbarian entry specifies that a barbarian’s land speed is faster than the norm for her race by +10 feet, that this benefit sould be applied before modifying the barbarian’s speed because of any load carried or armor worn, and that this bonus stacks with any other bonuses to the barbarian’s land speed.

So the question is, is the Barbarian Fast movement dependent on its form? It seems it is, and thus you would lose it when Wildhaping. It is quite the biggie, since the other abilities you gain are almost all replaceable by feats, or can be skipped. It really seems to me like starting out as a Barbarian will make your life before you get Wildshape easier, but the utility of the Barbarian level(s) will decrease as you can Wildshape more often, for longer and into better Forms.

As for taking more Barbarian levels, I haven't really made out the math. It seem it could work out, as long as you get to Druid level 8 as soon as you can. By then you will have access to Beast Shape III (Huge or Diminutive animal) 3 times a day for 8 hours each, and your companion is now large. More barbarian levels will effectively increase your melee ability, but greatly reduce your out-of-combat utility with less wildshapes (which allow you to afford "wasting" wildhape uses for scouting, digging, hiding and such), less spells, and utility druid abilities (like "A thousand faces", one of my favorite. If you want to simply be a ol' big bad ball of fur & fangs, I think it might be worth it.


Zaister wrote:
Eben TheQuiet wrote:

clarifying question.

Are you trying to build this guy to get serious synergy out of BArbarian and Wildshape? or are you using the more flexible caster-type druid abilities to make him a more strategically flexible character?

I wasn't actually thinking about any special direction, more if it generally possible to find some useful synergy between the classes.

I was just going off the idea that the classes fit well together thematically, and a character idea formed in my mind.

I'm right there with you about the thematical synergy. They just seem to fit right together. Of course, Kamahl Pit Fighter / Fist of Krosa has been one of my favorite M:tG characters since its creation, so I guess I'm a bit biased.


Or see if your DM will let you build a gestalt barbarian/druid instead. *grin*

We tried to get our barbarian to go this route (gestalt game), but he went barbarian/fighter instead. Ah well!

I was curious to see how it would have played in game. Good luck with the build. /salute!


Barbarian Fast Speed is not dependent on form, it is a Class Ability, not a Racial Ability.
Awakened Dogs or Dinosaurs could just as much take Barbarian levels as a Human,
thus it should apply on top of the Wild Shape base speed just as well as Humanoids.

I could see a viable Druid/Barbarian build only taking Druid up to 6th level for Beast Shape 2 Wildshape, to get Pounce, Grab and Trip and Large Size. Probably taking at least 2 levels of Barbarian by the time you get to that level.
7th level gets you 4th level spells, and 8th (as pointed out) gets you Huge Size and other powers (Trample is nice for readying against Mirror Image'd Casters). But even Beast Shape 2 would have alot of synergy with Barbarian Rage Powers. And Elemental Body 1/2 is definitely nice as well. Is there a reason you couldn't put your Armor back on and use weapons while in Earth Elemental form?


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Quandary wrote:
(Trample is nice for readying against Mirror Image'd Casters).

A nice idea, but alas! it does not work with Pathfinder's version of mirror image. You can only remove an image with an attack that requires an attack roll, which the trample special ability doesn't.


Zaister wrote:
Quandary wrote:
(Trample is nice for readying against Mirror Image'd Casters).
A nice idea, but alas! it does not work with Pathfinder's version of mirror image. You can only remove an image with an attack that requires an attack roll, which the trample special ability doesn't.

Yeah, it wouldn't remove any images per RAW, but it can un-erringly damage everything in your path, allowing you to interrupt spells easily. Wait... It's a Full-Round though, so you can't Ready it :-)


Quandary wrote:
Barbarian Fast Speed is not dependent on form, it is a Class Ability, not a Racial Ability. Awakened Dogs or Dinosaurs could just as much take Barbarian levels as a Human, thus it should apply on top of the Wild Shape base speed just as well as Humanoids. I could see a viable Druid/Barbarian build only taking Druid up to 6th level for Beast Shape 2 Wildshape, to get Pounce, Grab and Trip and Large Size. Probably taking at least 2 levels of Barbarian by the time you get to that level. 7th level gets you 4th level spells, and 8th (as pointed out) gets you Huge Size and other powers (Trample is nice for readying against Mirror Image'd Casters). But even Beast Shape 2 would have alot of synergy with Barbarian Rage Powers. And Elemental Body 1/2 is definitely nice as well. Is there a reason you couldn't put your Armor back on and use weapons while in Earth Elemental form?

People who suddenly feel the need to strip naked on the battlefield can really disrupt a game! Barbarian/Druid suggests some form of avarice. The word escapes me at the moment...


You've got two options...

1) Just enough druid for 2nd level spells, the rest barbarian. This'll get you barkskin, bear's endurance, and longstrider, and not cost very much in terms of BAB or hp. And, you can heal between battles.

2) A wildshaping druid, who happens to be able to rage. I'd go barbarian 1/druid X for this, and at 2nd level, use shilleleagh to kill everything that bothers you. After a few levels, you'll be wildshaping with rage.

Extra rage feat for the win.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I just want to say thanks for your various interesting ideas!


I actually like a melee focused build that is more druid heavy than barbarian heavy. Something like 2, 4 or possibly 6 lvls of Barbarian and the rest druid levels. I'd probably consider 4 to be best, as this is when you first overcome one point of lost BAB from druid levels.

Basically, the druid levels for primarily the wildshape ability boosts, plus some additional spellcasting. The Barbarian levels for its BAB boost, rage, and front-end abilities. The gist of the build is to melee while in wildshape form, using barbarian powers and rage to boost your attack and melee abilities. You basically will be giving up high level spellcasting for the boost in melee capabilities. Since you won't be able to cast spells while raging so that you'll end up casting less spells per day anyway, and since you probably want Str as your primary stat instead of wisdom, its a reasonable trade off.

Definitely would want at least 2 lvls of Barbarian. In addition to the rage and fast movement, that gives uncanny dodge which can be extremely useful, plus a rage power. 4 lvls of Barbarian gives an extra rage power, and is the magic number of Full BAB levels needed to get over the hump of the first lost BAB from taking medium BAB levels. 6th lvl Barbarian possibly for another rage power and improved uncanny dodge (although the utility of this drops a lot since you won't be improving it further, still useful against low level rogues).

Actually I think I'd personally prefer Barbarian 2/Fighter 2/Druid X. This tanks your Reflex save a little bit but the extra feats make up for it, and are probably better than the additional rage power and 4 additional rounds of rage. This opens up Heavy Armor for free for Wild Full Plate armor. Not sure how fast movement would interact with Wild heavy armor while in wildshape forms, but it seems possible that you can benefit from it; I don't know for sure.

Since the wildshape abilties cap out at lvl 12 Druid, you aren't getting much from the druid levels above this except additional spellcasting (and better will saves and more wild shape uses per day). Still, getting the higher wild shape abilities as soon as possible makes for a better melee build.

Definitely go with Str and Con as primary abilities, followed by Wisdom. I wouldn't even worry about being able to cast the highest level spells. The best buffs are on the lower end of the spells (5th and below). The highest level druid spells are your caster type spells that aren't necessary for this type of build, use those slots for quickened versions of low level spells (Note that casting a metamagicked spell only requires the Wisdom score to cast the base spell, with the exception of Heighten spell. For example, a druid with 8th lvl spell slots and a 14 Wisdom could use an 8th level slot to prepare a quickened Ice Storm.) Although Heal with 7th lvl spells would be very nice to have available; same with being able to throw a handful of Huge elementals out there to start off combat. Still, with a headband it shouldn't be hard at all to have access to 7th lvl spells.

For feats I'd probably want Combat Casting, Natural Spell, Extend and Quicken spell, and the rest melee type feats (Power Attack is a definite). The feats will start to run out quickly though (hence why I think a couple fighter levels might be useful). Extra Rage might be nice to have too. The specific melee feats would depend on the types of forms you'd generally take while wildshaped. If you plan on making use of larger forms and the reach that comes with, then things like Combat Reflexes, Great Cleave, or even Whirlwind attack could be nice. I kind of like the idea of using the Vital Strike feats with the stegosaurus' nice 4d6 base tail damage; this works good with the huge earth elementals 2d10 base damage too. I'd probably not take Augment Summoning, thats too many feats to improve something you'll be subpar at anyways; summons for you are mostly just to give flanking bonuses and restrict enemy movement.

For rage powers I'd take Moment of Clarity first, just so you can drop a spell (or two, with quicken) without having to lose the rage. Since most rage abilities are tied to Barbarian levels, a lot of them won't be that great for this build, but it does make the 'once per rage' abilities pretty useful. So I also like No Escape and Quick Reflexes.


In all honesty, you're better off just going full druid and acting like a barbarian (no reason you shouldn't or couldn't!). While you could try mixing the two, the end result probably would not be as good as a simple full druid would in most cases.


ProfessorCirno wrote:
In all honesty, you're better off just going full druid and acting like a barbarian (no reason you shouldn't or couldn't!). While you could try mixing the two, the end result probably would not be as good as a simple full druid would in most cases.

True enough.

If you asked me what was more 'powerful,' a straight druid or a druid/barbarian, I'd go with the straight druid.

But the OC is wanting to explore this concept of a barbarian druid, so thats what we are working with here.

Plus I've found that when you have lots of spells available, you want to cast them. So even the wildshaping druids are heavily tempted to spend their actions in combat casting spells rather then engaging in melee. And what happens is you have a druid designed to be a meleer who really ends up being a sub par spellcaster (since he spent his feats and has magic gear focused on melee rather than casting).

And really, the higher level druid spells (except for the Summons) just don't scream 'fun' to me. So why bother? Bump up the Strength, grab some full BAB levels, wildshape into some Huge badass creature, and start pounding things! Now thats fun!

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