Barbarian Class Preview

Monday, June 11, 2018

Rage consumes you in battle. You delight in carving through your enemies using powerful weapons and wreaking havoc without needing complicated techniques or rigid training, and you rely on your astonishing durability to get you through a fight. You associate your rage with a traditional symbol of affinity known as a totem, which might take the form of an animal, a spirit, or even a part of yourself. To many barbarians, brute force is a hammer and every problem looks like a nail; to others, the dark emotions within them are something to hold back and release only when it matters most.

When it came to barbarians in the playtest, we wanted to take the most popular parts of the original barbarian and the unchained barbarian and brew them together with a few special ingredients to make the class even more flexible to fit even more roleplaying and mechanical concepts. Let's take a look!

Rage

Rage is a barbarian's key class feature. Barbarians aren't super-trained in fancy weapon techniques like most of the other martial classes. Instead, a barbarian can enter a rage that drastically increases her damage and grants her a significant booster shot of temporary Hit Points, in exchange for a –1 penalty to AC and the inability to use concentrate actions unless they specifically have the rage trait (note, this means that somatic-only spells are now possible in a rage!). Unlike in Pathfinder First Edition, rage in the playtest is not limited in rounds per day—let's be honest, in Pathfinder First Edition, our barbarians never ran out of rounds anyway once they had gained a few levels. A rage lasts 3 rounds, followed by a round of fatigue. While you're fatigued, you can't rage again, but once that round has passed, you can enter a new rage, with a shiny brand-new set of temporary Hit Points to go along with it. You can do this as often as you need during the day!

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Totems

Without a doubt, the most popular element of barbarians in Pathfinder First Edition is the totem, introduced in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player Guide. These totems are a set of three thematically linked abilities the barbarian can choose, starting at 2nd level. In the playtest, you get a totem right away at 1st level. Your totem is a representation of how and why you rage and grants you an initial ability, access to more totem feats down the line, and, at 9th level, resistance equal to your Constitution modifier against a specific type of damage. Each totem also has its own anathema, most of which are relatively low impact and designed to create roleplaying hooks. For instance, the giant totem's anathema states that you cannot fail to accept a personal challenge of your strength, much like how Amiri accepted the challenging task her tribal fellows set her to slay a frost giant. Some though, are stricter—the superstition totem requires that you never willingly accept the benefits of spells, but grants you some truly astounding antimagic abilities in exchange.

Some of the totems, like animal totem, giant totem, and dragon totem, offer a few abilities that are flat-out magical. For instance, animal totem barbarians can adopt animal features and attacks and even transform into an animal (a great way to represent lycanthrope characters), whereas dragon totem barbarians gain a dragon breath attack can even grow wings. Even though totems are popular and roleplaying opportunities are fun, we recognize not everyone necessarily wants to commit to them, so we also offer the fury totem, which has no anathema or special requirements and focuses more on barbarian feats that aren't tied to any totem, which we'll look at in a bit. But first...

Additional Barbarian Features

Though I called out rage and totems specifically, the barbarian has some really neat abilities beyond those. For instance, at level 3, barbarians gain critical specialization effects when in a rage, even if they don't fulfill the usual proficiency rank requirement for the weapon—they use whatever weapon is most efficient to express their rage! One other thing they have that nobody else does: 12 Hit Points per level. Add that to the substantial temporary Hit Points that they can generate (possibly multiple times in a long fight) and the resistances from their totem that kick in at level 9, and barbarians have incredible staying power. Sure, they don't prevent as many hits as a paladin or a shield fighter might, but they can stand there taking hits long past the point where anyone else could stay standing. This is also a good point to mention one feature barbarians don't have in the playtest: alignment requirements. Barbarians can be whatever alignment they want; for instance, a lawful barbarian might act like one of the concepts I described earlier, controlling and holding back her emotions to channel and release her rage when it matters most.

As many of you have predicted, barbarians also have the best Fortitude proficiency, gaining the juggernaut class feature at level 7 (which grants master proficiency in Fortitude and the ability to count any successes you roll as critical successes instead) and improved juggernaut at 13th (which grants legendary proficiency and removes the chance of critically failing), but they also have a secondary Will focus, gaining indomitable will at 15th level to become masters in Will. Tireless rage comes in at level 17 to allow barbarians to ignore fatigue after ending a rage (though they still must wait the normal amount of time before entering a new rage). Barbarians are all about brutalizing opponents without worrying about carrying lots of different weapons and selecting the right one for the job with their monster knowledge, so it makes sense that they gain the ability to rip through a chunk of resistances automatically with level 19's devastating strikes ability. Possibly my favorite barbarian feature, though, is the level 11 ability mighty rage—whenever you enter a rage, it allows you to immediately use one of your rage-only actions for free. So many possibilities!

Barbarian Feats

In addition to the feats based on totems, there are a variety of other feats available, from the bread-and-butter, low-level Sudden Charge to the devastating Whirlwind Strike (attack everything in your reach), Brutal Critical (your critical hits deal an extra die of damage as well as persistent bleed damage), Vicious Evisceration (you maim the enemy, dealing extra damage, reducing its maximum HP by an amount equal to its level, and giving it a –1 penalty to Fortitude), Contagious Rage (one of your allies gets the benefits and –1 penalty to AC imposed by your rage, but can still concentrate), and Quaking Stomp (you stomp so hard that it creates an honest-to-goodness earthquake). But none caused a playtest GM to raise their eyebrows quite like the superstition totem's Spell Sunder, which really saved us when we faced walls of force, magical trap effects, and more.

To close off, some of you might have expected me to talk about the dragon totem barbarian Linda is playing in my playtest game, who has sometimes been the party's primary healer. She does that through abilities beyond the barbarian class, though certainly Moment of Clarity (which allows a barbarian to use an extra action to use a concentrate ability mid-rage). But if you're wondering why there was a time in my playtest when she was the only one with an area attack, that was because of her barbarian's dragon breath!

Mark Seifter
Designer

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Barbarians are into high intensity interval training.

Silver Crusade

Diego Rossi wrote:
Quandary wrote:
I don't know, they could try to go for best of both worlds by using Temp HPs which are lost first, but that HP pool must still be healed if you want to regain them again when you rage. (I assume they could be healed even while not raging, even though you don't benefit from them until you Rage) That wouldn't let anybody DIE from dropping Rage, but since you are at 'less than full HP' (including Temp Rage HPs) it 'promotes' roleplaying as wounded etc, and maintains 'need' for larger amount of healing to match total damage taken.

PF2 rules have a dying condition where you have to make a check to die or stabilize a few times. If someone want to play with barbarians with "actual" HP instead of temporary HP the dead at the end of the rage problem can be resolved with the added caveat that the loss of the extra HP gained when raging can only push you to the dying state (-1 HP in PF1) and not lower. So your companions have several rounds to help you recover.

It is a good depiction of the "berseker figth and drop dead at the end of the battle" thrope without having the PC die every few battles.

But that don't work well with the current 3/1 rounds of rage.

I like this idea. You're right it doesn't work with the 3/1 system, but just add something like:

"After a rage ends, if one minute passes in which the barbarian does not take any damage or make any attacks she immediately takes X damage as the thrill of the battle leaves her (where X is the number of temporary HP the barbarian gained on entering the rage)."

The chances of going a full minute in combat without attack or being attacked are extremely low, so this basically means you don't have to worry about taking the damage until well after the battle ends. At which point your party should be in a good position to help you, so there's little risk. But it preserves the flavour (and I think it's also fairly straightforward to manage?).


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I don’t think I’d play either of the presented ones, but that’s because I like magic too much and don’t play the sort of characters who would take a challenge for its own sake. But it’s all right- I’ll check out the others. If animal or spirit is a good fit, I’ll be happy. If none of them are a good fit, I’ll submit feedback. If none of them are a good fit and feedback disagrees with my personal opinion, I’ll grab fury and wait for more to come out.


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KingOfAnything wrote:
Barbarians are into high intensity interval training.

TABATA Totem

Anathema: Steady state cardio

Liberty's Edge

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Kevin Mack wrote:
Hmm cant say I'm a fan of the new rage mechanic (18 seconds of rage followed by 6 seconds of panting followed by 18 seconds of rage again just seems somewhat strange.)

On your 3rd rage round you jump in orbit with some Legendary Rage power. On the 4th round, you use Catfall. Rinse and repeat


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ohokwy. wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
Quandary wrote:
I don't know, they could try to go for best of both worlds by using Temp HPs which are lost first, but that HP pool must still be healed if you want to regain them again when you rage. (I assume they could be healed even while not raging, even though you don't benefit from them until you Rage) That wouldn't let anybody DIE from dropping Rage, but since you are at 'less than full HP' (including Temp Rage HPs) it 'promotes' roleplaying as wounded etc, and maintains 'need' for larger amount of healing to match total damage taken.

PF2 rules have a dying condition where you have to make a check to die or stabilize a few times. If someone want to play with barbarians with "actual" HP instead of temporary HP the dead at the end of the rage problem can be resolved with the added caveat that the loss of the extra HP gained when raging can only push you to the dying state (-1 HP in PF1) and not lower. So your companions have several rounds to help you recover.

It is a good depiction of the "berseker figth and drop dead at the end of the battle" thrope without having the PC die every few battles.

But that don't work well with the current 3/1 rounds of rage.

I like this idea. You're right it doesn't work with the 3/1 system, but just add something like:

"After a rage ends, if one minute passes in which the barbarian does not take any damage or make any attacks she immediately takes X damage as the thrill of the battle leaves her (where X is the number of temporary HP the barbarian gained on entering the rage)."

The chances of going a full minute in combat without attack or being attacked are extremely low, so this basically means you don't have to worry about taking the damage until well after the battle ends. At which point your party should be in a good position to help you, so there's little risk. But it preserves the flavour (and I think it's also fairly straightforward to manage?).

This is a pretty significant nerf though. I get the flavor preference for barbarians actually collapsing from wounds afterwords, but the current temporary HP system lets them take massive amounts of hits AND not be as much of a drain on party healing afterwards. This is especially important with Resonance.

The original pathfinder barbarian could justify needing healing because of how cheap CLW wands were and her damage output being better than his high AC counterparts pretty consistently, especially with stuff like Pounce. In PF2, Pounce isn't relevant, CLW Wands can't heal past Resonance limits, and giving the Barbarian crazy better DPR goes against avoiding rocket tag and keeping the math balanced.

So a self-replenishing pool of temporary HP seems to be a decent way for the Barbarian to be competitive in tanking with the fighter and paladin while maintaining a distinct vibe. You'd need to give the Barbarians something else to compensate if you use the original Barbarian system.

Liberty's Edge

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I would like a feat that allows a Barbarian to postpone the end of his rage for another round by losing say 20% of his remaining HPs


Captain Morgan wrote:
ohokwy. wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
Quandary wrote:
I don't know, they could try to go for best of both worlds by using Temp HPs which are lost first, but that HP pool must still be healed if you want to regain them again when you rage. (I assume they could be healed even while not raging, even though you don't benefit from them until you Rage) That wouldn't let anybody DIE from dropping Rage, but since you are at 'less than full HP' (including Temp Rage HPs) it 'promotes' roleplaying as wounded etc, and maintains 'need' for larger amount of healing to match total damage taken.

PF2 rules have a dying condition where you have to make a check to die or stabilize a few times. If someone want to play with barbarians with "actual" HP instead of temporary HP the dead at the end of the rage problem can be resolved with the added caveat that the loss of the extra HP gained when raging can only push you to the dying state (-1 HP in PF1) and not lower. So your companions have several rounds to help you recover.

It is a good depiction of the "berseker figth and drop dead at the end of the battle" thrope without having the PC die every few battles.

But that don't work well with the current 3/1 rounds of rage.

I like this idea. You're right it doesn't work with the 3/1 system, but just add something like:

"After a rage ends, if one minute passes in which the barbarian does not take any damage or make any attacks she immediately takes X damage as the thrill of the battle leaves her (where X is the number of temporary HP the barbarian gained on entering the rage)."

The chances of going a full minute in combat without attack or being attacked are extremely low, so this basically means you don't have to worry about taking the damage until well after the battle ends. At which point your party should be in a good position to help you, so there's little risk. But it preserves the flavour (and I think it's also fairly straightforward to manage?).

This is a pretty significant...

Honestly, I can see this better resolved with a Class feat, where you can keep on fighting at 0 HP, as long as you're in a rage, but each round you do so increase your dying condition by 1. As long as you're not taken out significantly before the fight ends, you achieve the same thematic effect, and it's not as bad as the old Sudden Barbarian Death Syndrome.


I'm going to make a game out of replying to people only using past quotes.

Cat-thulhu wrote:
Pandora, we’re Kind of assuming the capacity to wield oversized weapons is limited to the one totem.
Pandora's wrote:
I want to point out that the Giant Totem is only a convenient example since we know more about it. My aversion to it and the reasons for that aversion apply equally to any pairing of mechanical ability and role-playing restriction that don't necessarily imply each other.


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Diego Rossi wrote:

Sorry, but from my point of view that sound exacvtly as "strip avay the flavor, the give the possibility to add it if you want".

That can be shortened to "stryp away the flavor" and "the GM can add some kind of flavor in".

Wile I can get your position, I fail to see "I don't want any limitation" as something positive.

Alternate routes to get to the final result? Good.
Pick and choose only the positive parts and avoid any drawback? No good.

As I said earlier, the only purpose for mandatory flavor, as opposed to optional, is to shove said flavor down the throat of someone who isn't interested in it. Is it reasonable for you to force flavor that I don't like onto my character because you like it?

We've seen what happens when you force drawbacks that people don't want. People game the Oracle curse because they aren't interested in the flavor that is happening. People will try to subvert mandatory things they aren't interested in. You do not achieve good results by forcing someone to do something they're not interested in during their free time. The solution to that is to entice them with things they are interested in, not force it harder. Mark has even said that with one exception, likely the Superstition Totem, role-playing restrictions are unnecessary for balancing options in PF2, so I won't accept balance as a reason they're necessary.

Finally, as I've said before, I'm not opposed to role-playing restrictions. I'm opposed to role-playing restrictions that other people choose for my character. I said earlier that my next character is going to be a full caster who only casts spells accidentally. I'm GMing a fantasy super-hero-esque campaign currently where I pick everyone's magic abilities as they level up to give a more authentic feeling of discovering one's powers, and they're having a blast with it. These restrictions are both vastly more debilitating than any anathema shown so far. The difference is that we chose them and are interested in role-playing them out.


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And again, I quote myself because some of you are more interested in strawmanning my arguments than actually countering them.

GM Tyrant Princess wrote:
It's even worse than that. Remember, if the GM has any specific flavor in mind for specific character options, it's oppressing the player and destroying their ability to make any character at all. Having flavor attached to options just turns characters into puppets without any meaningful sense of choice. Or so I'm told, anyway.
Pandora's wrote:
As an aside, there's a difference between mandated rulebook flavor and flavor restrictions imposed by consensus of your game group. The latter is specifically targeted to create a particular feel in a specific game and is accepted by the group. If you don't like it, play in a different group. Rulebook flavor is imprecise and sweeping; it targets broad swaths of games without knowing anything about them and applies to every game the GM doesn't houserule it out of. The devs realize this and so have already mentioned language encouraging the customization of anathema, but that idea doesn't seem to be catching on.

Sovereign Court

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Anathema won't come up often in play, but when they do it makes for excellent stories. And they are vague enough to fit just about any character close to the totem's concept.


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KingOfAnything wrote:
Anathema won't come up often in play,

Citation needed.

KingOfAnything wrote:
but when they do it makes for excellent stories.

Subjective opinion, not fact. There's a world in which you can have the option and have your excellent stories and I'm not burdened with them and can have mine.

KingOfAnything wrote:
And they are vague enough to fit just about any character close to the totem's concept.

Why is it a positive thing to be limited to "close to the totem's concept" when it could instead represent both close concepts AND interesting concepts not foreseen?


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Some GMs will be willing to houserule, some won't. Some GMs will have houserules they're not willing to bend on for the purpose of accommodating your character concept, some won't. Some GMs will limit the sources you can use options from, some won't.

Pandora's wrote:
If you don't like it, play in a different group.

As for the tactic of shouting "strawman" at dissenting opinions, I hope your own words don't qualify for that ever-nebulous description.

Sovereign Court

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Pandora's wrote:
And again, I quote myself because some of you are more interested in strawmanning my arguments than actually countering them.

That's because you don't have an argument. You have a preference. A philosophy, even. That doesn't make others' preferences or philosophies any less valid.

Pandora's wrote:
Subjective opinion, not fact.

Ah, I see you're already familiar with the concept. ^_^

Sovereign Court

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Pandora's wrote:
KingOfAnything wrote:
And they are vague enough to fit just about any character close to the totem's concept.
Why is it a positive thing to be limited to "close to the totem's concept" when it could instead represent both close concepts AND interesting concepts not foreseen?

When you choose a totem, you are choosing your flavor. If that flavor comes with restrictions, it is still your choice. A flavor so generic as to apply to any concept is hardly flavor at all.


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I just wanted to pipe up in here to note that so far 90% of the stuff in the blogs has been very awesome (at least to me).

I don't comment on everything specifically but as more and more of the changes dribble out they really do feel like they fit together.


GM Tyrant Princess wrote:
Some GMs will be willing to houserule, some won't. Some GMs will have houserules they're not willing to bend on for the purpose of accommodating your character concept, some won't. Some GMs will limit the sources you can use options from, some won't.

That suggests a dictatorial style of GMing. When I GM, I try to accommodate the desires of the whole group. Hopefully your games are more than just about what the GM wants.

Additionally, if control over my character's flavor (other than restrictions imposed by the specific campaign) requires a houserule or explicit permission, the game system has already failed for players like me.

GM Tyrant Princess wrote:


Pandora's wrote:
If you don't like it, play in a different group.
As for the tactic of shouting "strawman" at dissenting opinions, I hope your own words don't qualify for that ever-nebulous description.

My quote there reflects my belief that tyranny of the minority is inappropriate in a social game. If a group plays in a way that you don't like, you should find another group rather than force your preferences on them. You'll have to explain how that's a strawman.

You made a strawman when you put words in my mouth that directly contradicted an earlier statement I made.

Liberty's Edge

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KingOfAnything wrote:
Pandora's wrote:
KingOfAnything wrote:
And they are vague enough to fit just about any character close to the totem's concept.
Why is it a positive thing to be limited to "close to the totem's concept" when it could instead represent both close concepts AND interesting concepts not foreseen?
When you choose a totem, you are choosing your flavor. If that flavor comes with restrictions, it is still your choice. A flavor so generic as to apply to any concept is hardly flavor at all.

Way I read it this is not what P asks for. And I think P speaks as a GM, not as a player who might be suspected of powergaming

I might be wrong though


Kalindlara wrote:
Pandora's wrote:
And again, I quote myself because some of you are more interested in strawmanning my arguments than actually countering them.

That's because you don't have an argument. You have a preference. A philosophy, even. That doesn't make others' preferences or philosophies any less valid.

Pandora's wrote:
Subjective opinion, not fact.
Ah, I see you're already familiar with the concept. ^_^

I'm so glad you seem to understand! I absolutely have preferences. Everyone does. I've voiced some of mine in this thread. And no one's preferences are wrong until they tell other people what they can and cannot do. If you read all my posts, my main point is and has always been that people should be able to play what they prefer, not what other people decide for them. If you are so against invalidating preferences, surely you agree that allowing each other their preferences is desirable?

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We already had a thread these days fall to the onslaught of extreme emotions. I hope we can avoid this here

It is starting to look a bit too similar for my taste


KingOfAnything wrote:
When you choose a totem, you are choosing your flavor. If that flavor comes with restrictions, it is still your choice. A flavor so generic as to apply to any concept is hardly flavor at all.

No, when I'm picking a totem, I'm picking a mechanical feature that matches my character concept and being saddled with a roleplaying restriction that may or may not match the concept. If mechanics and flavor are divorced, I can pick each individually instead of having these weird, immutable packages that limit the conceptual space the game reaches.

Exo-Guardians

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The Raven Black wrote:

We already had a thread these days fall to the onslaught of extreme emotions. I hope we can avoid this here

It is starting to look a bit too similar for my taste

Are you referring to any Paladin thread every? Or the debacle that was the skill feats thread?

Both got pretty nasty actually and are a big reason why I avoid commenting here very often. Too much emotion brought into what should be a discussion not a shouting match.

Sovereign Court

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The Raven Black wrote:

Way I read it this is not what P asks for. And I think P speaks as a GM, not as a player who might be suspected of powergaming

I might be wrong though

Talk about totems solely as "picking mechanical features" and "saddled with roleplaying" don't make me optimistic.


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Pandora's wrote:
No, when I'm picking a totem, I'm picking a mechanical feature that matches my character concept and being saddled with a roleplaying restriction that may or may not match the concept.

Ya, you had me half on board up till there. We shouldn't divorce the game from flavor. There are systems that do that, where every ability is bought with points and there are no classes, and I don't want Pathfinder to edge in that direction.

Thing is, no we shouldn't force flavor on people. But that's why we have a plethora of options. No idea how many totems there will be at the start, but soon there will be dozens; enough that everyone should be able to find something they are happy with. And the fury totem also has the flavor-less option covered. It's not like the totem will make or break your character: the ability to wield too-large weapons really isn't that important.


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I'm going to try to add something new and hopefully constructive to this discussion. This is an article on the types of fun people have while playing games, especially as it applies to tabletop RPGs:
Eight Kinds of Fun
The tone is comically abrasive, so know it for the affectation that it is.

I found that article enlightening back when I read it because it shows one reason that opinions regarding this hobby can vary so wildly: people get very different things out of it.

For this discussion, you can really just skip to the sections on Fantasy and Expression. Character creation is where players most easily get their chance at Expression because they largely define who their character is. As the article points out, there is a tension between Fantasy and Expression, because one person's Expression may not match another's Fantasy. This is where a table decides on flavor that is appropriate in a game by choosing a setting, ruleset, etc that set up an agreed upon fantasy for the game to exist within. After that, the players can work within those boundaries to express themselves if they so desire. It is in relation to this concept that I said "if you don't like what your table likes, find a new table." If you can't stand that agreed upon Fantasy, that game simply isn't for you, and you shouldn't impose your own Fantasy on everyone else.

I suspect many of the people arguing with me have a strong preference for Fantasy as a type of enjoyment, and that's perfectly valid. In fact, I agree. I really like a strong world and lore in games I play. As you can probably tell, Expression is also a huge priority to me, especially through character creation. Mandatory rulebook flavor sets a single fantasy, barring explicit houseruling, for every single group and player who ever uses the material the flavor is tied to. This is where I feel the rulebook has failed: it has unnecessarily limited the desires of some players for Expression. If the group decides they like an optional fantasy exactly as presented in the rulebook, then I'd need to live by that. If the group is ambivalent, the default should be that my Expression is allowed, not that it requires a houserule.

It's because some players so highly value Expression that this thread makes me sad, because I have been told

Kalindlara wrote:
Count me against stripping the flavor out. I like the game to be more than "here are some numbers that don't mean anything".

over

Ryan Freire wrote:
Your character doesn't have to LIKE it. Its the entry cost for the totem to want to support you.

and over

Diego Rossi wrote:
Wile I can get your position, I fail to see "I don't want any limitation" as something positive.

and over

GM Tyrant Princess wrote:
It's even worse than that. Remember, if the GM has any specific flavor in mind for specific character options, it's oppressing the player and destroying their ability to make any character at all. Having flavor attached to options just turns characters into puppets without any meaningful sense of choice. Or so I'm told, anyway.

and over

KingOfAnything wrote:
Talk about totems solely as "picking mechanical features" and "saddled with roleplaying" don't make me optimistic.

and over that my way of playing is undesirable or wrong, and that's ignoring when it is intentionally mischaracterized because I am still hearing that I must be a rollplayer who doesn't care about flavor or roleplaying a character. This is what is not being understood: Expression is me creating the character I want to roleplay. It is 100% about the roleplaying part of the game. If all I cared about was mechanics, I would pick whatever mechanics I wanted to and ignore that my character was a nonsensical chimeric contradiction when it comes to flavor. Please, please recognize that other players may have different priorities and those priorities are not inferior. Those of you who prioritize fantasy are not wrong. All I am calling for is for the rules to support all of those styles of play by including a Fantasy with them but without making that Fantasy mandatory to the detriment of those for whom Expression is a central part of the experience.


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Am the only one who would rather have some (light) role play direction linked to a mechanically functional large weapon user, instead of the mechanical mess but flavor agnostic 1e Titan Mauler?

I know having it be mechanically functional and flavor agnostic aren't mutually exclusive... But the challenge thing seems like it won't come up very often, sounds like it still leaves you with some class features and feats, and is easy to fix if you break it.


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Malachandra wrote:
Ya, you had me half on board up till there. We shouldn't divorce the game from flavor.

I have repeatedly advocated for optional flavor to be included alongside mechanics for inspiration or to represent what is common on Golarion. As I've said time and time again, the only difference between optional flavor and mandatory flavor is the ability to push it on someone who doesn't like that flavor.

Malachandra wrote:
Thing is, no we shouldn't force flavor on people. But that's why we have a plethora of options.

What makes more sense, to create the same ability over and over with different flavor each time or to make the flavor in the rulebook optional and allow the gaming group to be in charge of setting the flavor rather instead of the rulebook? In addition to the duplication, the former will always result in cases where an ability only exists once and it is inaccessibly without a single forced flavor.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Does rage give any increase to actual strength, or only to damage?

blog wrote:


rage that drastically increases her damage and grants her a significant booster shot of temporary Hit Points..

I get not wanting to directly increase strength, cause of the cascading affect on other derived parts of the character, but I would have thought it would also give a bonus on Str skill and ability checks, which would cover climbing, jumping, swimming (all under Athletics), as well as breaking doors, lifting objects, etc.

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JoelF847 wrote:
Does rage give any increase to actual strength, or only to damage?

We don't know at the moment.

JoelF847 wrote:
I get not wanting to directly increase strength, cause of the cascading affect on other derived parts of the character, but I would have thought it would also give a bonus on Str skill and ability checks, which would cover climbing, jumping, swimming (all under Athletics), as well as breaking doors, lifting objects, etc.

I suspect all that falls under Athletics, personally. And Barbarians getting a bonus to Athletics while raging would be...possible, I suppose. Though probably not a particularly high bonus.


JoelF847 wrote:

Does rage give any increase to actual strength, or only to damage?

blog wrote:


rage that drastically increases her damage and grants her a significant booster shot of temporary Hit Points..
I get not wanting to directly increase strength, cause of the cascading affect on other derived parts of the character, but I would have thought it would also give a bonus on Str skill and ability checks, which would cover climbing, jumping, swimming (all under Athletics), as well as breaking doors, lifting objects, etc.

I figure they'll go the way of the Unchained Barbarian and file those under class feats. You know, the old Raging Climber/Swimmer/Leaper,Strength Stance for all the lifting stuff, and Smasher for the breaking doors and other objects.


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So...I know I've argued before re: opening Paladin alignments that the fact that the Paladin mechanical chassis works perfectly for a Chaotic Good champion devoted to Cayden Cailean or Milani, they should be allowed to be so. So, I understand exactly where Pandora's argument is coming from.

Yet, somehow, while I'd certainly welcome multiple anathema options for totems...I dunno, this feels different to me. I can't really articulate a good reason why, though.


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Pandora's wrote:
Malachandra wrote:
Ya, you had me half on board up till there. We shouldn't divorce the game from flavor.

I have repeatedly advocated for optional flavor to be included alongside mechanics for inspiration or to represent what is common on Golarion. As I've said time and time again, the only difference between optional flavor and mandatory flavor is the ability to push it on someone who doesn't like that flavor.

Malachandra wrote:
Thing is, no we shouldn't force flavor on people. But that's why we have a plethora of options.
What makes more sense, to create the same ability over and over with different flavor each time or to make the flavor in the rulebook optional and allow the gaming group to be in charge of setting the flavor rather instead of the rulebook? In addition to the duplication, the former will always result in cases where an ability only exists once and it is inaccessibly without a single forced flavor.

Cool article. I don't have time to read it all now, but it was definitely interesting enough that I'll get back to it in the next few days.

I guess my problem is that optional flavor just doesn't do it for me. Kinda like light beer vs. craft beer. In my opinion, light beer is mostly just watered down beer (I'm a pretty opinionated beer drinker ;) ). I'd rather either just have water or have something darker. With optional flavor, I'd rather just have stripped down mechanics and make my own flavor entirely. Which is a system that should (and does) exist, but I want more flavor out of Pathfinder. I don't want it to be watered down.

The amount of flavor in a game is definitely a spectrum, and we will all fall on different places on that spectrum. But I like where PF1 was on that spectrum, and so far I like where PF2 is heading. I think the plethora of options does a good job of fixing the divide though. It's not that each option is the same ability over and over with different flavor. They are all different in flavor, even if some are mechanically similar. But with so many options, most players can find a flavor that really excites them.


Malachandra wrote:
I guess my problem is that optional flavor just doesn't do it for me.

And that's totally fine. Mandatory flavor just doesn't do it for me, and we're each allowed our preference. If you or your group decide they'd like to declare the flavor mandatory for themselves, awesome, you do you. I only have an issue when someone wants people completely unrelated to them to have to play the same way or when an individual uses "but it's the rules" to try to force their preference on a group that disagrees.

Sovereign Court

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Pandora's wrote:
Mandatory rulebook flavor sets a single fantasy, barring explicit houseruling, for every single group and player who ever uses the material the flavor is tied to. This is where I feel the rulebook has failed: it has unnecessarily limited the desires of some players for Expression. If the group decides they like an optional fantasy exactly as presented in the rulebook, then I'd need to live by that. If the group is ambivalent, the default should be that my Expression is allowed, not that it requires a houserule.

Thank you for providing a helpful framework for discussion. I prefer my expression to be grounded by the fantasy. I like making characters that fit in or stick out in the world of Golarion. That scaffold inspires me.

I don't agree that the default should be anything goes. It feels much better for GMs to loosen up restrictions and be generous in interpretation than it does for GMs to impose those Fantasy restrictions after the fact.

Sovereign Court

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JoelF847 wrote:
Does rage give any increase to actual strength, or only to damage?

Pretty sure bonuses and penalties to ability scores have been removed in favor of conditions. They are much easier to apply than recalculating your statblock every fourth round.


Seems neat.

Does this entry imply that barbarians don't get terribly good weapon proficiency, though?

I worry about a class whose structure is: "I have lower bonuses to hit but do lots of damage when I do mange to hit." It makes their DPS very swingy/unreliable since a lucky barbarian could potentially roll two crits and ruin a fool, but is more likely than their friends to miss all their attacks and be dead weight for a round.

Lower bonuses/higher damage also ironically incentivizes Barbarians to fight more tactically than their fighter counterpart since their circumstance bonuses will tend to result in higher DPS returns.

Either way, the class seems like a fun time.

Exo-Guardians

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KingOfAnything wrote:


Thank you for providing a helpful framework for discussion. I prefer my expression to be grounded by the fantasy. I like making characters that fit in or stick out in the world of Golarion. That scaffold inspires me.

I don't agree that the default should be anything goes. It feels much better for GMs to loosen up restrictions and be generous in interpretation than it does for GMs to impose those Fantasy restrictions after the fact.

This has been my experience as well I once tried to input a system that gave characters a unique trait or ability which had no restrictions at first. When a player took power word kill at level one and kept trying to undermine any existence of story we had to lock it down hard.


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If an Anathema is not going to have a mechanical impact, but you still want it to be there for flavor, then having a huge list of them and letting people choose is the best choice.

If your Anathema is going to have actual mechanical impact (like the Superstition Anathema as described) then it should be tied to a suitably balanced mechanical benefit.


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Also, we should continue expecting more of this flavor tide to mechanics, is part of the Golarion infused approach, we must remember that PF2 is no setting agnostic. So I think if Barbarians have Anathema is because in part that is how Paizo sees Barbarians in Golarion.


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Lordy lord. Couldn't this entire issue be solved with (and I believe this was even suggested) a simple little sidebar (or section on anathemas, overall) that the default ones are suggested defaults that Paizo thinks fit strongly with the theme, and that better fits should be worked out as necessary between player and GM? Boom, bam, suddenly Rule 0 is codified for this instance.

Changing anathemas is now no longer a houserule, and the Golarion defaults are still attached to every Totem. Isn't this the happiest medium? Like 25 words in a margin?


I will also remind people that the "fury" totem seems like a perfectly acceptable way to play a barbarian sans anathema. Frankly, I don't mind anathema one way or another.

I mostly just wanna talk math and incentives.

Exo-Guardians

DFAnton wrote:

Lordy lord. Couldn't this entire issue be solved with (and I believe this was even suggested) a simple little sidebar (or section on anathemas, overall) that the default ones are suggested defaults that Paizo thinks fit strongly with the theme, and that better fits should be worked out as necessary between player and GM? Boom, bam, suddenly Rule 0 is codified for this instance.

Changing anathemas is now no longer a houserule, and the Golarion defaults are still attached to every Totem. Isn't this the happiest medium? Like 25 words in a margin?

I'm fairly sure this is the option most people actually want, The idea that a flavor is part of the class and that flavor is more than flexible enough to allow a player and GM in enact The Most Important Rule from the outset.


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I feel like Pandora's major issue with this would be like if, for Oracles in PF1, Paizo explicitly tied certain Mysteries with certain Curses. Or tied certain familiars to certain patrons in the case of Witches.


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A character concept allowed by the removal of barbarian alignment restrictions just occurred to me: Multi-class barbarian/paladin follower of Ragathiel. Feel the fury of righteous destruction!


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DFAnton wrote:
I feel like Pandora's major issue with this would be like if, for Oracles in PF1, Paizo explicitly tied certain Mysteries with certain Curses. Or tied certain familiars to certain patrons in the case of Witches.

I think it's more like if taking a PF1 Oracle curse required you to roleplay it in a particular way, e.g. like "you cannot fail to accept a personal challenge of your strength" for example.

Goodness, who could POSSIBLY have foreseen that introducing a mechanic to this class that (potentially) forces people down a particular roleplay path might not be universally well received?

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.


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Wandering Wastrel wrote:


Goodness, who could POSSIBLY have foreseen that introducing a mechanic to this class that (potentially) forces people down a particular roleplay path might not be universally well received?

You mean like Cavalier Orders? I don't recall many people complaining about those honestly. Or druid codes. Or cleric stuff.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

KingOfAnything wrote:
JoelF847 wrote:
Does rage give any increase to actual strength, or only to damage?
Pretty sure bonuses and penalties to ability scores have been removed in favor of conditions. They are much easier to apply than recalculating your statblock every fourth round.

Right, that's why my post went on to discuss how to account for that with bonuses to strength based checks.


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Is it really necessary to literally write THIS TOO CAN BE DISCUSSED WITH GM on every single page people might have a problem with (every page)?


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Cyouni wrote:
Is it really necessary to literally write THIS TOO CAN BE DISCUSSED WITH GM on every single page people might have a problem with (every page)?

No, nor did anyone imply anything like that. I certainly didn't.

Pandora's concern is with how freeform the Totem system is (as seen in the blog post). At present, Totems can be spirits, small objects, deities, monsters, personal codes, imaginary friends, force of will, etc., etc., etc.

If Totems were strictly, say, particular deities (as seen with Clerics and their deities' anathemas), then their strict codification makes sense. These are separate entities with their own special, defined flavors. A god who hates undead, for example, is going to have an anathema toward the undead. This is something that would require an explicit houserule to change cleanly. This means that, in structured play, or very RAW-oriented GMs, this is unlikely to be changed. This is fair.

However, Totems can be anything. They can even just be a personal drive. "I wield tremendous weapons because I think they're the best thing for lopping off the legs of the horses ridden by the raiders in my homeland." Pandora's issue is that this somehow implies "If I refuse an arm wrestle, I'll be super bummed for a day."

I absolutely see Paizo's reasoning for this flavor choice. Their default "Giant Totem" philosophy is "RAAAAH I'm STRONG! No one is as strong as me! Look at my gigantic non-compensatory weapon!" However, at the table (the only place that matters), a structured play or RAW-oriented GM is effectively given license to rule on your character's underlying motivations.

This, I feel, is why anathemas, at least for Totems as presented, require an explicit out written into the text.

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