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Gnome Barbarian Advice Thread


Advice

Taldor

Hello all, I'm building a Gnome Barbarian for my local PFS gaming group. Now I'm restricting myself in a lot of ways to sort of self-nerf. I'm a pretty good character builder, and commonly referred to (I think mostly as a compliment) as the group's rules lawyer.

I'm following a blog post by Dennis Baker (https://plus.google.com/115022859420675980618/posts/8ZGscC9Suog) for increase difficulty in PFS. I'm going with the "Ultra Violence" difficult setting by playing a Gnome martial character with the added restrictions of no dump stats and no starting stat can be over a 16 after racials. I'm going to try and focus on the strengths of the gnome's racial stat gains as best I can. Also I already bought a sweet mini off of reaper minis that has a longsword and a wooden shield, so that is set in stone as well.

I know that's a whole mess of restrictions, but mostly I want to get thoughts on options for Rage powers and feats, things to focus on as the character levels, things people might do differently with stats given the above restrictions.

Gulliver the Gnome Barbarian
Stats after Racials (cost of the point-buy in parentheses)
STR 14 (10)
DEX 13 (3)
CON 16 (5)
INT 10
WIS 10
CHA 14 (2)

Feat: Power Attack

Weaponry: Longsword (Lucerne Hammer as a back-up weapon)
Armor: Scale and Heavy Wooden Shield

Archetype considerations: I'm planning on using the Invulnerable Rager archetype as I plan to maximize the benefit of only putting levels in Barbarian and off-set the low dex score and therefore low AC with DR from the archetype. Also could go with the armored hulk archetype to get into heavy armor (this doesn't fit the miniature, but I do probably have to make some allowances to make the character playable). Any other ideas that people think would work well?

Rage powers: I like the idea of the Spirit Totem powers to utilize the Gnomish bonus to Charisma, and I think a Gnome Barbarian haunted by evil fey spirits has so much delicious roleplaying flavor. Increased DR rage powers may be important as well. Also figure I'll be bumping intimidate pretty high, so the intimidating rage powers are options (though I find them underwhelming from a mechanical standpoint).

I'd like to avoid multiclassing: As part of the difficulty restriction is playing a "gnome martial class" no dipping into Oracle to get Charisma mod to AC (I find this cheesy anyways). Dips into Fighter or Ranger would be appropriate, though I don't think they would make the character better than straight Barbarian. If you can convince me otherwise, great!

Faction will be Grand Lodge, as he's joined the society so that they can help him determine the origin of these fey spirits that seem to drive him mad (i.e. into a rage).

Ideas, comments, and whatnot, please share...

Shadow Lodge

I know a local player has a gnome barbarian that intimidates foes when raging, you might look into that early on, when its easier.

Taldor

Yea, I have considered the idea of going around intimidating, but I see a couple of issues.

The -4 penalty for being smaller than the opponent is rough (which will apply most of the time). Although, I don't think the DCs scale up too quickly, since it is always 10 + Wis Mod + CR. Seems like it'll scale pretty smoothly. But without spending some feat support, it'll be a tough number to hit (i.e. Intimidating prowess, persuasive, etc). Also there is the issue with the society often crawling through dungeons filled with undead and/or supernatural nasties that would be immune to intimidation.

Is it effective for your friend, or is it more comical (not that that's always a bad thing) having the gnome trying to scare the pants off the Devil.

Taldor

I will mention that I am starting the Godsmouth Heresy Module with this character tonight. So all of the initial character creation will be set in stone after tonight.

So if anyone has some suggestions for archetypes, or maybe a different stat distribution or whatnot, input is greatly appreciated.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Don't forget Dazzling Display which can also demoralize a bunch of people at once.

Also, can the Invulnerable Rager wear armor?

Taldor

Todd Morgan wrote:

Don't forget Dazzling Display which can also demoralize a bunch of people at once.

Also, can the Invulnerable Rager wear armor?

Yep the invulnerable rager can wear armor. It just changes the DR mechanic to be equal to half the character's Barbarian level.

The Savage barbarian archetype is the one that doesn't wear armor. Also it doesn't prevent it, just gives dodge and natural armor bonuses if you don't wear armor.

Taldor

Seems that I've been moved to the advice forum.

Well, anyone have any further advice?


Stalwart:

Prerequisite: Diehard, Endurance, base attack bonus +4.

Benefit: While using the total defense action, fighting defensively action, or Combat Expertise, you can forgo the dodge bonus to AC you would normally gain to instead gain an equivalent amount of DR, to a maximum of DR 5/—, until the start of your next turn. This damage reduction stacks with DR you gain from class features, such as the barbarian's, but not with DR from any other source. If you are denied your Dexterity bonus to AC, you are also denied this DR.

You can take crane style or use a madu to only have a -2 attack

Crane Style (Combat, Style):

Prerequisites: Dodge, Improved Unarmed Strike, base attack bonus +2 or monk level 1st.

Benefit: You take only a –2 penalty on attack rolls for fighting defensively. While using this style and fighting defensively or using the total defense action, you gain an additional +1dodge bonus to your Armor Class.

Madu:

The madu is a round, light shield with four spikes extending from the sides.

Benefit: If you are proficient with the madu, you may wield it and fight defensively with a –2 penalty instead of the normal–4 penalty for fighting defensively, and your attack penalty for using Combat Expertise improves by +1 (minimum –1 penalty). You cannot hold anything else in the hand that bears a madu. If you are not proficient in madu, treat it as a light spiked shield.

Taldor

I like that stalwart feat is pretty neat, though I can't really picture a barbarian fighting defensively. What source is that from?


Ultimate combat

Taldor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Oh and if I take the Unbreakable Fighter archetype, just one level in Fighter gets me both Endurance and Diehard as bonus feats. And Diehard is a great feat for a Barbarian anyways.

I like that a lot. Though it means I may switch the 13 in Dex to Int for combat expertise. I even like the roleplay aspects of being an intelligent tactical fighter, but when the Fey spirits start to swarm his mind he flies into a bloodthirsty rage.

Thanks Ranorel!


not a problem, a good trait for expertise

Threatening Defender:

Benefit: When you use Combat Expertise, reduce the number you subtract from your melee attack rolls by 1.

the improved stalwart feat is also good, but needs a +11 BAB. it doubles the bonus from stalwart.

i have a lvl 13 barbarian that has DR 38/Lethal, DR 19/-. Stalwart stacks with your barbarian DR, which still applies double against nonlethal damage.

so Guarded Life and the greater version (doubles Guarded life effect) will be amazing.

Guarded Life (Ex):

Benefit: While raging, if the barbarian is reduced below 0 hit points, 1 hit point of lethal damage per barbarian level is converted to nonlethal damage. If the barbarian is at negative hit points due to lethal damage, she immediately stabilizes.

lvl 11 Awesomeness:

you have 10HP. with Greater Stalwart and Improved DR rage powerx3 you have DR 36/nonlethal, DR 18/-. You get hit for 49 damage. Guarded Life activates and turns 22 of that damage into nonlethal damage, leaving you with 27 damage. DR negates the nonlethal damage an 18 lethal, meaning you take 9 points of damage.

this is at the price of -4 to hit.


I love this idea! The general idea of compulsive optimizers choosing to optimize a supremely non-optimal character idea so as to not outshine the group is a common one, but I like the way it's laid out in these specific rules!

Anyways, I got excited ;) Here are a bunch of thoughts:

I know it doesn't fit the mini, but if you're going to play a gnome melee fighter, it seems a real shame to miss out on the chance to use the array off stupid weapons available to the gnome such as the Gnome Hooked Hammer, The Piston Maul, or the Ripsaw Glaive. The latter two don't have "Gnome" in the title so I believe you still have to spend a feat on Exotic Weapon Proficiency, but it might be worth it for the bonus damage + the awesomeness factor.

For the Piston Maul or the Ripsaw Glaive, you don't have to change much other than your mini, just take Exotic Weapon Proficiency instead of Power Attack.

Bunch of non-barbarian ideas:

Here is another path that might interest you... the Paladin! Now, a gnome mounted paladin is generally considered a "strong" choice, so we'll skip that, since the point is to do something challenging. Instead here are a couple vengeful gnomish crusaders specializing in crushing their foes with their holy rage. Kind of like a barbarian... but with more god involved. Stat-wise it really fits the gnome (other than the low strength).

Some fit the mini, some don't.

Gnome Paladin (Oath of Vengeance) 12:
Str: 14 (10)
Dex: 10
Con: 16 (5)
Int: 10
Wis: 10
Cha: 16 (5)

Feats:
1 - Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Piston Maul (Power Attack if doing Sword + Board)
3 - Power Attack (Furious Focus or Extra Lay on Hands if doing Sword + Board)
5 - Extra Lay on Hands
7 - Extra Lay on Hands
9 - Extra Lay on Hands
11 - Extra Lay on Hands

Obviously some of those extra lay on hands can be switched out for more interesting feats. The basic premise is to use Oath of Vengeance to be Smiting Evil every single encounter featuring an evil foe, and when you aren't, you're still doing some serious damage with your thunderstone fueled beat stick and healing yourself with your Lay on Hands ability. Or prancing around with an absurd AC due to your combo of full-plate + heavy shield if you want to stick with the mini.

You might even almost be able to make a TWF sword+board paladin work.

Gnome Paladin (Oath of Vengeance) 12:
Str: 14 (10)
Dex: 15 (7)
Con: 12
Int: 10
Wis: 10
Cha: 15 (3)

Feats:
1 - Two Weapon Fighting
3 - Improved Shield Bash (or Weapon Focus: Gnome Hooked Hammer if you want to go that route)
5 - Extra Lay on Hands
7 - Improved Two Weapon Fighting (use items to up your dexterity to qualify)
9 - Extra Lay on Hands
11 - Greater Two Weapon Fighting (use items to up your dexterity to qualify)

Taldor

Well, the first level and stats are now set in stone as I played the little crazy barbarian in the first part of the Godsmouth Heresy module for PFS.

Final starting build turned out as below:
Stats after Racials (cost of the point-buy in parentheses)
STR 14 (10)
DEX 10
CON 16 (5)
INT 13 (3)
WIS 10
CHA 14 (2)

Feat: Power Attack

Weaponry: Longsword (Lucerne Hammer as a back-up weapon)
Armor: Scale and Heavy Wooden Shield

Archetype: Invulnerable Rager

Traits: Insider Knowledge (Grand Lodge) - +1 Diplomacy and Diplomacy as class skill
Reactionary - +2 to initiative

The 13 in intelligence is to qualify for combat expertise at level 3 and pick up stalwart asap.

Beebs wrote:
I know it doesn't fit the mini, but if you're going to play a gnome melee fighter, it seems a real shame to miss out on the chance to use the array off stupid weapons available to the gnome such as the Gnome Hooked Hammer, The Piston Maul, or the Ripsaw Glaive. The latter two don't have "Gnome" in the title so I believe you still have to spend a feat on Exotic Weapon Proficiency, but it might be worth it for the bonus damage + the awesomeness factor.

They do not fit the mini, but they are interesting ideas for back-up weapons, I used my Lucerne hammer just as much as my sword and board in the first session tonight. I had considered them, the ripsaw glaive I find very cool and flavorful. The hooked hammer is a neat idea, but with wanting to go with a Barbarian, the feat costs and dex reqs for those feats to be a proficient two-weapon fighter were going to be to too much given the stat restrictions.

Current gameplan during the leveling process:
Level 2 - Barbarian, Rage Power = Spirit Totem, Lesser
Level 3 - Fighter (Unbreakable Archetype), Bonus Feats due to archetype are Endurance and Diehard, Combat Expertise as normal level 3 feat

At that point I'm torn a bit, I want to get as many levels in Barbarian as possible to max out the DR benefit from Invulnerable Rager, but a second level in Fighter lets me pick up Stalwart at level 4 instead of level 5. This would free up my level 5 feat for other things as well. If I do take a second level in Fighter, than do I take a third for Armor Training? Moving 30' instead of 20' in medium armor would be nice, though that could be done with an investment in mithral breastplate. Ideas, suggestions on that front?

Beebs wrote:
Various Paly goodness

I decided against the paladin idea initially because it didn't really fit the mini at all, and for some reason it seemed to easy to make work lol. Here's a link to the mini so you folks can see it btw: http://www.reapermini.com/FigureFinder#detail/02942

Ranoral, that's a very nice combo there for the DR focus. Almost makes me want to forget AC even further and actually wear an armored kilt to better match the mini :-)

Here's some highlights from the first game session:

Godsmouth Heresy Stuff:
The very first fight, gnome superpowers for the win! Arcane caster of the group attack by a strange critter that cast darkness on the party and attacked her. Hmm I seem to be able to cast Dancing Lights once per day, bingo cancelled the darkness spell and we killed the thing before it could slowly strangle us to death in the darkness.

No Rogue in the group so with my +6 in perception I ended up playing not only frontline heavy, but also the skill monkey a good bit. Even smashed through several locked doors, though I had to remind the party that I only made a Gnome-sized hole so they'd have to crouch on their way through.

He proved to be quite capable in combat doing very solid damage for a first level character, managed to one-shot the CR 2 monster with a crit on the lucerne hammer with rage up that did 32 points of damage!

Then came the dreadful brown mold incident...Party thought "oh mold, let's throw fire at it!" The brown mold quadrupled in size over the next to rounds and ended up doing 3d6 points of non-lethal cold damage to the whole party. DM roled two 4's and a 6 on the dice, guess who's the only PC that could take that much damage and not fall unconscious, the gnome barbarian! In fact there were two second level characters at the table and I had more hp than either of them. I drug the unconscious cleric away from the mold, administered a cure light wounds potion to bring him to consciousness, so he could heal the rest of the party and run from the killer mold. If my gnome would have only had 14 hp instead of 16, that would have been a TPK lol.

So long story short, the gnome barbarian was a great bit of fun and will probably become my secondary PFS character, behind my half-orc sorcerer that's now level 8.

Keep the comments and advice coming guys, it's been very helpful.

Taldor

Ranoral wrote:

not a problem, a good trait for expertise

Threatening Defender:

Benefit: When you use Combat Expertise, reduce the number you subtract from your melee attack rolls by 1.

I unfortunately didn't see this before the first session so the traits are set now, though it would've been a very handy trait to have. But it would have replaced the Diplomacy trait and I like having that as a means to effectively role-play in social encounters without having to always resort to yelling at everyone (i.e. intimidate).

I picture around level 4 or 5, once I have the Stalwart feat, I'll be power attacking/raging about 50% of the time and using combat expertise being the traditional sword and board fighter the other 50%. Makes for a very versitile character. May even pick up the quick-draw feat and a quick-draw light shield to make switch between sword and board and raging two-hander more viable still.

Andoran

Were I you, I'd switch to a two-handed weapon pretty quick. Your AC's gonna be better than most Barbarians just based on size, and the increase in damage output is phenomenal.

Superstition is also a lovely power, IMO, even if you don't use it as a prerequisite for anything.

Other than that, looks good and sounds like you know what you're doing.

Taldor

Absolutely agree with the analysis that a two-hander is much better than a one-hander and shield for Barbarians in general. However, one of the restrictions is trying to match the mini as best as possible. This is the main reason for sword and board at the moment. However, in situations where damage-potential and raging are key, I am willing to switch to the two-hander.


Get the Taunt feat (apg), get terrifying howl, ride around on a wolf with ferocious mount, both of you howl at things, eat popcorn.

Taldor

Glutton wrote:
Get the Taunt feat (apg), get terrifying howl, ride around on a wolf with ferocious mount, both of you howl at things, eat popcorn.

As I don't actually have a good bluff score, taunt wouldn't be of much use. Also, I didn't mention it in the initial post, but one of the restrictions for increased difficulty is playing a small martial character without a mount.

Though I must say the idea of a bad-mouthed gnome hurling insults from the back of his terrifying wolf is a downright awesome mental image. And who doesn't love popcorn, I might make some now even.


I played a similar halfling barbarian with naked courage who was raised by wolves :)

Taldor

Nice! Barbarians are my favorite class, and the idea of a small one is awesome to me. You laugh at a halfling/gnome that tells you he's a barbarian once, ONCE! And then you're dead lol

Taldor

His catch phrases of the night turned out to be:

"That's not natural" and "I AM THE GREATEST WARRIOR THAT HAS EVER LIVED!!! and is also a Gnome..."


Instead of fighter you could dip in oracle.
That way you could later go the barb/oracle PrC the name of which I forgot.
In addition you could get things like +10ft base movement or unrestricted movement in medium armor.

but it would delay stalwart.

Taldor

Umbranus wrote:

Instead of fighter you could dip in oracle.

That way you could later go the barb/oracle PrC the name of which I forgot.
In addition you could get things like +10ft base movement or unrestricted movement in medium armor.

but it would delay stalwart.

As I mentioned in the OP, "I'd like to avoid multiclassing: As part of the difficulty restriction is playing a "gnome martial class" no dipping into Oracle to get Charisma mod to AC (I find this cheesy anyways). Dips into Fighter or Ranger would be appropriate, though I don't think they would make the character better than straight Barbarian. If you can convince me otherwise, great!"

I mentioned no Oracle mostly to head off the advice to dip Life or Lore Oracle for Charisma to AC, but I'm trying to avoid spellcasting classes in general. Not that I don't think it would make for a cool character and if I get bored with him may do it anyways. But in an effort to follow the intent of the martial class self-imposed restriction, I'm avoiding dipping Oracle.

And the name of that prestige class is Rage Prophet. It's pretty cool, I actually played a Human Barbarian/Oracle of Battle/Rage Prophet in a Rise of the Runelords adventure path.


Stat wise 16 str 14 con sounds better and 14dex 13 cha. For combat reflexes

Taldor

Morris Chan wrote:
Stat wise 16 str 14 con sounds better and 14dex 13 cha. For combat reflexes

Not sure if you read the stat restricitons, but given the fact that no stats can be dunmped, what your suggesting is impossible. Having a 16 strength post-racial would be nigh impossible requiring 17 of the 20 points for character creation. I'm going to chalk this post up to not reading through the OP, which is long so I sort of understand.

Also as mentioned a couple of posts up, the character played in his first session tonight, so stats are set in stone at this point.


Grumph: your link doesn't link, and the url goes to a Reaper miniature page that says "something is wrong here".

As a dwarf-halfling-gnome intolerant, I was intrigued by the OP and I must say I really like what you have done with the concept, tieing in the fey spirits bugging Gulliver is nice! How do you flavour his barbarian-ness - wild and feral, or a naturally combat oriented freak, or something else? I'm curious.

Taldor

My apologies on the links, my forum-fu is weak. I flavor the raging as almost a curse from the fey spirits. Tralamin (Gulliver was apparently already taken by another Pathfinder somewhere) thinks of himself as a strong tactical fighter. However, he has difficulty controlling his emotions (particularly after he's been struck in combat) and these spirits feed on this emotion causes a spiral that leads to his rage. While raging, it is essentially feral and completely instinctive behavior.

Silver Crusade

I found this thread while searching for ideas for my own barbarian gnome. I need to ask some questions pertaining to the following passage from Ranroel:

Ranorel wrote:

you have 10HP. with Greater Stalwart and Improved DR rage powerx3 you have DR 36/nonlethal, DR 18/-. You get hit for 49 damage. Guarded Life activates and turns 22 of that damage into nonlethal damage, leaving you with 27 damage. DR negates the nonlethal damage an 18 lethal, meaning you take 9 points of damage.

this is at the price of -4 to hit.

1) Using the Invulnerable Rager with 3 x Increased DR Rage Power and Improved Stalwart I only arrive at DR 17/- at level 12 using Combat Expertise. He arrived at DR 18/- at level 11. Also, at level 11 Combat expertise is only a -3/+3 trade-off and he would only have access to Improved DR twice so the total DR would only be 13. Is my math wrong or is the original post? Or am I way off and he is actually going Total Defense with at least 3 ranks in Acrobatics making it impossible to attack in the end? And if taking Total Defense how would you even attack, or would you just be holding the line?

2) Guarded life makes it sound like once you hit 0 it kicks in, not before. Using that math, with the original stats displayed, I see the following: Original Damage is 49. You subtract your DR 18/- and are left with 31 points of damage and the original 10 HP. Then you take 10 points of damage which drops you to 0 HP at which point Guarded Life kicks in converting the last 21 points of damage into Nonlethal damage which is negated by the DR 36/lethal. In the end you should be left at 0 HP and Disabled, or am I reading that wrong?

3) It seems odd that you can take damage from one hit and, after you hit 0, convert it to Nonlethal and then negate that. Do those stack?

Thanks for any help. If I end up using this character I want to make sure I'm clear on the rules when a GM keeps wailing on my little gnome and he just won't die.

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