Welcome to the Classes Playtest

Classes: Barbarian, Fighter, and Ranger

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

Welcome to the second stage of the playtest for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Just recently, we wrapped up the first stage, which took a look at Ability Scores and Races. Now we are moving on to a more rules intensive portion of the book: Classes. Over the next 8 weeks, we will be looking at all 11 of the base classes in two week increments. We will be starting with Barbarians, Fighters, and Rangers. Comments on the other classes, or other parts of the rules, should wait until we reach their portion of the playtest. As a general note, if the rules would not be placed in this chapter, then it should probably wait (so how a fighter gets Feats is appropriate to discuss here, but particular feats should wait till the feats chapter). When discussing the Classes, start your thread title out with the name of the class, followed by the issue you want to discuss. For example, if you wanted to talk about Barbarian rage powers, your thread subject might read: Barbarian - Rage Powers.

To get things started here, we need to take a look at all three of these classes. Here are some areas that need a good solid look at.

- Barbarian Rage Powers: Which ones are good, which ones are too good, which ones are not good enough, got any that need to be added?

- Barbarian Rage Expenditure: I would like to get some solid playtest data on barbarians across the levels, and how quickly they go through their points. How many fights can they get in, raging every round and using rage powers as needed?

- Fighters: Are they still simple to play, do they need to me more complex, are their options diverse enough to be interesting across 20 levels?

- Rangers: Favored enemy and Favored terrain, are they worth keeping for the complexity? Are they feat paths diverse enough? I am not interested, at this point, in adding an additional focus path for their combat style, but if we were in the future, what path should we take?

This is an area of the rules that can be quite contentious. To keep things clean, I would appreciate that you label your threads appropriately and keep things civil. Presenting entirely rebuilt classes is not very useful to us at this point, but presenting fixes to the rules we have is quite useful. Please keep that in mind, when you are posting. Finally, lets try not to stray all over the book in these discussions. It is really easy to start talking about feats and spells when we discuss classes and I would really like to stay on focus.

Thank you for you effort in this massive playtest and I look forward to reading and responding to your ideas and feedback.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

ooooooo this part is going to be nasty..!!

Dark Archive

Dragnmoon wrote:
ooooooo this part is going to be nasty..!!

No, that's when we get into the wizards/sorcerers....

Dark Archive

Dragnmoon wrote:
ooooooo this part is going to be nasty..!!

My thoughts exactly. It's gonna be one hell of a ride, that's for sure :)

Jason and Co, this is a grand project you're undertaking, and a massively wonderful thing you're doing :)

Let the games begin!

<Naff looking maniquin turns to camera>
Oh yes, there will be blood!

Dark Archive

In answer to your specific questions

- the Barbarian rage powers that were tested in our game were the rage and bite effects, and they were fine for balance

- Fighters are still simple to play. However, our one player grew bored of his fighter at 7th level, and asked to switch out his character. So giving them some more options might be nice, if it doesn't clutter up the class.

- All the Rangers we have played in 3.5 and Pathfinder have enjoyed their Favored Enemy, and I encourage keeping it. Favored terrain really didn't come in to play, so I cannot comment.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I have a Bunch of recommendations on how to make the fighter more enjoyable and playable while still keeping within the rules and looking towards backwards compatibility... But Since I have no players to test these idea on I don't feel comfortable talking about them..:-(

Small note for Fighters:
1) Weapon type-specific feats are a good addition. It would be interesting to see a few more of them, as presently some types of fantasy fighter are harder to reproduce in rules than others.
2) E.G.: Options for the light-armored, finesse-based fighter (who does not want to be a Rogue). That would mean, feat-type options for having a Swashbuckler with the Fighter core class.
3) Ditto for missile-focused Fighters. Fighter/Ranger multiclass is an option, but should not be necessary (ie, not all great archers have to be nature-types and trackers).

All my ranger playtesters seem happy. They are devastating against favored enemies and passable (worse than fighters, as it should be) against other foes. Just two notes:

1) The bonus granted to allies with the bond option could be a swift action.
2) Perhaps, thinking of long campaigns, a ranger should be allowed to relocate his favored enemy bonus at set levels (like sorcerer spell re-learning). If a ranger spends 8 levels battling giants and ogres and boosts his Giant favored enemy, but then the campaign moves to the Abyss for another 6 levels, maybe some re-learning of his tactics would be in order, losing the bonus for Giant-types and boosting his Demon favored enemy bonus. That would make sense story-wise, as the new quarry becomes his focus and he loses "practice" in dealing with the old one; as well as a boon for PC efficacy (especially at mid-high levels).

No barbarians playtested yet, our party is kinda urbane.

Scarab Sages

Jason, fighters are still simple. Simple to play AND simple to make. A few neat new feats, like Defensive Combat Training, make some good choices, but they need more...but I can wait until November.

*TENTS FINGERS* excellent

I'll take lots of notes on the fighter and barbarian in my playtest game this weekend...Crown of the Kobold King, they just got to the halfling...

Dark Archive


Just one thing I've found...I'd change Barbarians to 1d10 per level as per the philosophy that HD and BAB is tied, but instead give them Toughness at first level. This would also make it easier for them to apply for a few feats that make sense for Barbarians, notably Die-hard.


As I said in another thread, the main barbarian experience I had was with a goliath rogue/barbarian (3rd/2nd). He usually saved his rage to use swift foot at the end of combat to run down anyone that was far away from him, or withdrawing or actively running.

In general, he had enough points to run down opponents and beat on them for about two or three rounds. The barbarian generally took on a tough opponent, flanking with someone to give him his sneak attack, then played "mop up" after his first opponent went down, flanking around the battlefield or making sure no one sent up any alarms.


One of the first, interesting uses I saw of the armor training rules was a dwarven marine that still wore heavier armor because he still had a reasonable chance to swim wearing it. It was interesting to see this application, though it will probably vary how well other people like it based on how "real" they like their games to feel.

As far as simplicity goes, my daughter (13) who has played a few times but isn't too deep into the nuances of the game, had a fighter for a game that she sat in on over the summer, and she could grasp it pretty easily and still contribute to the party because she knew what she was suppose to do and how to do it.

We also currently have a half-orc fighter in my campaign, and the player is looking forward to being able to do a fairly wide variety of combat related things. He likes the class because he wants to be able to customize it as the campaign develops.

We had one high level playtest against a Great Wyrm where I had my players make up 20th level characters. The character was intentionally made up as a dragon slayer, and making the character at that level, the player almost couldn't find enough feats that he wanted for that "build" for the number of feats, but part of that was caused by the fact that the character was being spot built for something specific, and wans't played through a campaign.

The 20th level fighter still ended up being a bit complex, due to the various feats that the character had, between his various critical modifiers, his power attack, backswing, and overhand chop abilities. Not to mention adding up his bonuses from various weapon focus abilities and weapon group training.

In the end, it was complicated at 20th level, but at least part of that was due to the fact that the fighter was designed to be a one trick pony dragon killing machine, and because it was made AT 20th level from the start.

Most of my players have been pretty happy with the fact that fighters get new abilities, but the abilities aren't overly complicated abilities. Once the player got the 20th level character straightened out, it seemed to run fairly well, although it does take a bit to figure out a x8 critical.


So far we have only had a ranger in our 20th level dragon playtest, although one of my current players, the one running the paladin, has an elven ranger as his backup character if his current character dies or is incapacitated.

The ranger for the dragon playtest was a monster with his bow, although I have to say his Master Hunter ability didn't do too much against a dragon with its massive saves. Might have been different with different enemies.

The ranger, especially as an archer with a high dex, liked having the extra boost to his initiative in his favored terrain, which let him get the jump on the dragon as far as initiative went.

The ranger took the ability to grant his favored enemy bonus to his allies, and his hunter's quarry was well liked when the fight started. Even though it didn't come up in that playtest, the ranger's player liked that even his "lower bonus" favored enemies allowed him to use them as targets for his hunter's quarry.

In general, everyone that has looked at the ranger has liked it, and the playtest didn't change anyone's opinion of the class, but we only have so many players, so we haven't had an ongoing character yet.

From the playtest game I ran last night:

1) One character has a 7th level Barbarian cohort. The player's never run melee characters before, but she says rage points were fun and she's considering a full-time barbarian now. There's something very thematic about an orc barbarian using Animal Fury to tear a bite out of an undead bird.

Two fights, using a few barbarian rage powers, no shortage of rage at all. The ability to use rage to heal is also a nice touch.

2) The ranger player liked favored enemies and favored terrains. I let him use favored enemy (drow) against driders, which may not be official but made sense to me. I like the 'shared favored enemy bonus' mechanic, even though I haven't seen it in action yet.

Feat paths are moderately diverse, but it feels to me that there may be a limited 'optimum' path through the feat tree. My ranger player liked the idea of being able to skip ability prerequisites by going down the ranger path.

I do feel that archery/two-weapon fighting are limited. I'd like you to reconsider adding another focus path, but I do realize that most people who feel that way will probably end up creating their own ranger focus house rules (I did that in 3.5, actually).

Jason, I think Paizo is going about this backwards. Why are we starting with some of the weakest classes - we have no idea what standard the more powerful classes will ultimately be held to. We have no idea where the 'bar' is that classes have to measure up to. This is really problematic for providing useful feedback, because we have to start making assumptions about 'assuming nothing else changes with Wizards/Clerics/Druids' when in fact things are probably going to change with Wizards/Clerics/Druids.

Ideally, the proper way to do this would be to review aspects in this order:
(1) Spells - as they set the power of spellcasters, they need to be finished being tweaked before the spellcasting classes can be considered in any detail. If we don't know how good the spells are, we have no rational basis for making design decisions regarding the classes that cast them.
(2) Primary Spellcaster classes - Cleric/Druid/Wizard/Sorceror. With Spells dealt with, we'll have a good idea what will be acceptable for the classes themselves.
(3) Feats - Just like we couldn't deal with the spellcasters without dealing with spells first, we really can't meaningfully discuss classes like the Fighter or the Ranger unless we know how good the feats are.
(4) Combat Options/Mechanics. We'll need to talk about these in close proximity to feats.
(5) Primary Martial Characters (Fighter/Barbarian/Ranger/Paladin). Without knowing exactly how combat options are going to work, and without a good idea what feats can do, no truly meaningful discussion can be had here.
(6) Skills - not quite as critical, but it will help with the assessment of the skillful classes. (We'll also need to know about feats for them - which is why they're the third group we're dealing with)
(7) Skillful Classes (Rogue/Monk/Bard)

This ordering would start with the highest power abilities and classes first, establish a benchmark by which the rest of the game can/should be measured, and then go about making sure the other classes/systems do indeed measure up. Starting with the melee classes is like firing at a target 500' away while wearing a blindfold - you know there's an appropriate target out there somewhere, but you have no idea where and hitting it will be pure luck.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

The playtest is going in this order, for the most part, due to two factors. First being that we need to work through the book in a simple and organized manner. Second, we need to work on the layout and reformatting of this book into the final version over the next year (as opposed to all at the end). As such, it needs to go pretty much in the order that it appears to avoid any problematic layout issues. Its a bit more complicated than that, but I am not going to go into such details here.

As for assumed power levels, I think you can safely assume that they will remain as they currently are, unless I explicitly state otherwise (such as in the case with Feats).

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Liberty's Edge

joela wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
ooooooo this part is going to be nasty..!!
No, that's when we get into the wizards/sorcerers....


Jason Bulmahn wrote:

As for assumed power levels, I think you can safely assume that they will remain as they currently are, unless I explicitly state otherwise (such as in the case with Feats).

Just out of curiosity what do you as the game designer think the "assumed power levels" are exactly?

I ask because I think it would help me to understand what kind of feed back you are looking for.

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