Pathfinder Barbarian - Trouble Spots


Classes: Barbarian, Fighter, and Ranger

Liberty's Edge

I've been looking forward to the opportunity to discuss the current barbarian in the Beta. In the game I'm playing in we have a barbarian currently, and most of what comes up is a direct result of our playtest. Since we're still in the 'low level category', some of the suggestions come from minor testing at higher levels. I'd like to lay out the real 'problems' that we've encountered, and what solution we've chosen to implement.

Problem 1 - The Barbarian is a Healing Sink
Our group has been struggling against the '15 minute adventuring day'. Having 'at will' powers for my wizard has meant that I feel that I can contribute even after I'm completely out of spells. Different classes have different resources that they manage in order to keep adventuring. The barbarian's primary resource that limits his ability to continue adventuring is total hit points. With our barbarian's low AC, he is hit with tremendous frequency. Since he has a lot of hit points relative to the other characters this works, but after combat he requires a lot of healing. At 1st level our cleric could convert her 3 turn undead into healing bursts and not restore him to full. Essentially, we have determined that the barbarian 'steals' all of the available healing.

Our Solution
We've decided to make the hit points granted by raging true 'temporary hit points'. That means that each time the 2nd level barbarian rages, he gains 4 extra hit points. If in the course of the fight he loses 4 hit points, he ends the fight without damage. So far he has not ended a fight with less than 4 hit points in damage. But it does mean that we save a bit on healing. Our solution makes a small difference, but does not eliminate the problem.

It remains a concern that the 'toughest' member of the party is constantly begging for healing after each and every fight. I don't think a 'self-heal' option is appropriate from a flavor perspective, but I'd certainly like to see more options to consider to reduce this problem in the future.

Problem 2 - Math HARD!
Our group includes people who are very good with numbers, and people who are not. The person who is not good with numbers cannot run the barbarian. That is not the problem that I'm concerned about. Instead it has to do with the possibility of 'recalculating bonuses' between rounds. Currently a high level barbarian can move between rage and greater rage. Since greater rage costs more rage points if there are no enemies in reach, a smart barbarian will drop from 'greater rage' to 'rage' to move into position, and then resume 'greater rage'.

In 3.5 a barbarian converts all of his 'rage' into 'greater rage'. Every rage has the same bonus allowing the player to track one set of 'rage stats'. Having 4 sets of stat at high level (no rage, rage, greater rage, mighty rage) is too much.

Our Solution
Greater rage costs 2 rage points /round (just like rage). Effectively a barbarian loses 'rage' and replaces it with 'greater rage'. There is no incentive to 'switch' rage types. The same is done with Mighty Rage. This also converts into more total rounds of rage at higher levels, allowing the barbarian to use more rage abilities.

Those two are the biggest problems we've encountered with the barbarian. We do not object to rage points (we think they're fun), so we'd prefer keeping the rage mechanic over going back to 'daily uses'.


From my reading of it, I don't think that you can switch between Rage and Greater Rage from one round to the next. I think that once you start a Rage as a Standard or Greater Rage, the Rage will have to be that type until you end it... but I'm not positive.


DeadDMWalking wrote:
Problem 2 - Math HARD!

You touched this issue already but I'll make a concrete example.

Human Barbarian 2
Equipment: Two-handed Sword
Feats: Overhand Chop, Power Attack
Rage Powers: Powerful Blow

He's a rather average lvl2 barbarian. Nothing fancy, just hitting and hitting hard. He has the following attack options (assuming Str 18, and always using Overhand chop):

+6 overhand chop 2d6+8
+4 overhand power attack 2d6+12
+8 raging overhand chop 2d6+12
+6 raging overhand power attack 2d6+16
+6 powerful overhand chop 2d6+10
+4 powerful overhand power attack 2d6+14
+8 powerful raging overhand chop 2d6+14
+6 powerful raging overhand power attack 2d6+18

Let's not count tired options, that would be another four rows. Enlarging should probably be counted there as the weapon damage changes as well.

At lvl4 he gets Surprise Accuracy. That's four more options (or eight with Enlarge Person). Lvl6 introduces full attack, and all the combinations above. Throw in a Bull's Strength somewhere. And keep track of your rage points at the same time.

I mean, I'm good at math but I feel intimidated.


Bonuses are bonuses.. it's no harder to track for your barbarian than for when the wizard and cleric buff the party before a battle you all expect to be particularly deadly.

It can easily be handled player side by the use of several things.
Index cards in particular can be easily done.

On your character sheet record the un-adjusted stats for your weapon.
Then each index card records the rage cost and the bonuses.

(works best if you put the bonus on the top or bottom of the card). Then you can stack them up slightly off so you can see all the bonuses at once. Unless you are constantly changing from combat round to combat round, the bonuses should be relatively simple.

Even if you Are switching rage types to move around- it doesn't change your attacks unless you attack while at the lower rage.
(yes, it actually does change from round to round- but why calculate it if you aren't swinging at anything?)

Personally I absolutely love having more options. More options = good.
If you or your players want fewer options, then just don't take or don't use some of the other options. Yes, I'm suggesting you houserule to fix rules you don't like- but that's because not everyone agrees that the new barbarian should suffer due to some folks not wanting to do the book keep.

Everyone in 3.5 complained that the melee characters don't have enough options. Every attack of every round was the same. Now they are giving melee folk options. Lots and lots of beautiful, wonderful, flavorful options. Lets keep them please =)

-S


Selgard wrote:
not everyone agrees that the new barbarian should suffer due to some folks not wanting to do the book keep.

Nice of you to use those words. We call our barbarian's first level ability Bookkeeper's rage - he spends so much time checking the bonuses and rage points that there is no time for actual in-game raging.


Selgard wrote:


Personally I absolutely love having more options. More options = good.

-S

Meaningful options = good

There is a sweet spot between enough option to make the game fun and too much character management to ruin the fun. From what I can see from all the barbarian threads, this sweet spot vary from individuals to individuals.

As far as the barbarian goes, I personally feel that the time, energy and concentration needed to manage rage and rage power overshadow its benefits in gameplay. I agree, it is not THAT tedious, but it is still more tedious than fun...

While I am aware that this is a matter of personal taste, designers may reconsider the rage issue if more people are going to house-rule their system rather than use it as is. That will only become apparent if opinion are voiced, so here is mine:

Rage power are good and should stay in PF design, but I would like the rage ability to follow a simpler pattern.

'findel

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

As for the management, how about a compromise between the x/day rage method and the 1 point per round method? You could put a limit on the rage to require that it be used in 3 round bursts for 3 rage points. This would take some of the analysis paralysis out of the player's hands about just how many points to spend, and head back towards the "rage on the big fights, but not on trival fights" of 3.5. You'd still want to keep rage points at roughly their current level, to allow for rage powers that could cost as low as 1 point.

Liberty's Edge

Selgard wrote:


Personally I absolutely love having more options. More options = good.
If you or your players want fewer options, then just don't take or don't use some of the other options. Yes, I'm suggesting you houserule to fix rules you don't like- but that's because not everyone agrees that the new barbarian should suffer due to some folks not wanting to do the book keep.

Everyone in 3.5 complained that the melee characters don't have enough options. Every attack of every round was the same. Now they are giving melee folk options. Lots and lots of beautiful, wonderful, flavorful options. Lets keep them please =)

-S

I dont think he's crying for less options - I think he just is indicating that it would be easier to make the rage points for the greater rage cost the same as standard to avoid that level of bookkeeping.

I agree with this notion, by the way.

Robert

Liberty's Edge

Laurefindel wrote:
Selgard wrote:


Personally I absolutely love having more options. More options = good.

-S

Meaningful options = good

There is a sweet spot between enough option to make the game fun and too much character management to ruin the fun. From what I can see from all the barbarian threads, this sweet spot vary from individuals to individuals.

As far as the barbarian goes, I personally feel that the time, energy and concentration needed to manage rage and rage power overshadow its benefits in gameplay. I agree, it is not THAT tedious, but it is still more tedious than fun...

While I am aware that this is a matter of personal taste, designers may reconsider the rage issue if more people are going to house-rule their system rather than use it as is. That will only become apparent if opinion are voiced, so here is mine:

Rage power are good and should stay in PF design, but I would like the rage ability to follow a simpler pattern.

'findel

Good post.

I love the new designed barbarian and the options of the rage powers - I will admit that the bookkeeping on the rage pool is a bit tedious.

The only alternative that i have ever considered would require a big change in the approach:

To make rage be a finite # of times a day again and a finite number of rounds and the rage powers simply be "talents" that they can use once selected - but no more than one power can be activated each round.

Finally there are a few that would need to be limited to "once per rage instance" such as the one that grants an extra attack, or the one that provides a big boost to a strength based check (like CMB).

This certainly eliminates the math; but is admittedly a big directional change in its design.

Robert

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

Robert Brambley wrote:

The only alternative that i have ever considered would require a big change in the approach:

To make rage be a finite # of times a day again and a finite number of rounds and the rage powers simply be "talents" that they can use once selected - but no more than one power can be activated each round.

I wouldn't mind seeing rage work like this. You could also do a very similar thing while still keeping rage points if you don't like per day abilities: just have rage points equal rounds of rage, with no need to spend them on anything else; keep rage powers as "talents" as you suggest.


I love the new mechanic.

If I want to kick down a door I can "baby rage" and kick it down.

It doesn't mean that in 2 hours, I can't rage for *a complete encounter* just since I chose to kick down a door.

Or a chest.

Or whatever.

I don't have to save my rage just for combat for fear I won't have enough. I absolutely despise the x/day mechanic. Either you have to make X so high you might as well say "as much as you want" or you end up with the barbarian having to decide whether or not they want to use their primary class ability.

Rage isn't some secondary shoe-horn idea stuck onto the barbarian. When a barbarian isn't raging their combat is worse than -the fighter-. And that's saying something!

I want barbarians to be able to rage when they want. No, they can't rage 24/7, they do have to use some conservation but it's available whenever they need it. This gives them the flexibility to be there for their party for the things they need a strength heavy brute For.

-S


Laurefindel wrote:

Rage power are good and should stay in PF design, but I would like the rage ability to follow a simpler pattern.

'findel

Agreed 100%

Liberty's Edge

Epic Meepo wrote:
Robert Brambley wrote:

The only alternative that i have ever considered would require a big change in the approach:

To make rage be a finite # of times a day again and a finite number of rounds and the rage powers simply be "talents" that they can use once selected - but no more than one power can be activated each round.

I wouldn't mind seeing rage work like this. You could also do a very similar thing while still keeping rage points if you don't like per day abilities: just have rage points equal rounds of rage, with no need to spend them on anything else; keep rage powers as "talents" as you suggest.

Good thought.

In face what could be done is those "Per rage instance" concern of mine, use up one additonal round of rage.

So lets say you can rage for 6 rounds. One of the rage powers that need to be monitored is Unexpected Strike.

If a barbarian uses that ability on round four of the rage, it counts as two round and instead of having 2 rounds left, he now only has one round of rage left.

Robert

Liberty's Edge

Selgard wrote:

I love the new mechanic.

If I want to kick down a door I can "baby rage" and kick it down.

It doesn't mean that in 2 hours, I can't rage for *a complete encounter* just since I chose to kick down a door.

Or a chest.

Or whatever.

I don't have to save my rage just for combat for fear I won't have enough.
-S

Good counterpoint, Selgard - I hadn't thought of that aspect. I dont know which I would prefer;

I like the no math version of my suggestion to have the powers just be used during rage (one per round)

But I like the options you pointed out are avaible with the current mechanic.

Robert


Robert Brambley wrote:
I like the no math version of my suggestion to have the powers just be used during rage (one per round)

I wouldn't call it a "no math version", just a "less math version". With your proposal, you still need to keep track of the number of rounds that have passed since you started raging.


Samuli wrote:

Human Barbarian 2

+6 powerful overhand chop 2d6+10
+4 powerful overhand power attack 2d6+14
+8 powerful raging overhand chop 2d6+14
+6 powerful raging overhand power attack 2d6+18

Just to point out, you can't use Rage Powers (Powerful Blow) unless you are Raging, so the top two options I quoted there aren't possible.

And seriously, most of your options result from FEATS, not the Barbarian per se. If someone is intimidated by the options, well just tell them to IGNORE some of the options: If they are taking a single attack, IT'S ALWAYS OVERHAND CHOP. They ALWAYS Power Attack. (or take "always on" Feats)
Check out this Barbarian character I have in a PbP here. She is MUCH more complex than average (Whirling Frenzy, 2WF), but I quite easily bracket out all the options, including the variant effects of Rage STR.

I agree that tracking two levels of Rage at higher levels is un-necessarily complex (in Yalka's case, I would need double brackets for both Rage Strengths). Instead, why not when you gain Greater Rage, you just don't gain any Rage Points for that Barbarian Level (or maybe even only every OTHER level after you gain it?)


Selgard wrote:

I love the new mechanic.

If I want to kick down a door I can "baby rage" and kick it down.
It doesn't mean that in 2 hours, I can't rage for *a complete encounter* just since I chose to kick down a door.

EXACTLY. And with that Strength Surge, you can use it to pull of that Epic Climb Check, leap the canyon, etc...

I did have some ideas on how to make the Barbarian less "math-dependent":
Changing Bonus Rage HPs to no longer make temporary HPs, but instead just allow the Barbarian to still fight with negative HPs (like Die-Hard) while Raging, and increase the point they actually die at beyond the normal -CON score (instead making it = -Barbarian Level X CON bonus).

Suggesting in the text the usage of physical tokens to indicate Rage Points. For the Barbarians that didn't finish Trigonometry.

And some others...

Liberty's Edge

hogarth wrote:
Robert Brambley wrote:
I like the no math version of my suggestion to have the powers just be used during rage (one per round)
I wouldn't call it a "no math version", just a "less math version". With your proposal, you still need to keep track of the number of rounds that have passed since you started raging.

Fair enough - but significantly less. Of course now we're just splitting hairs.

Robert

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

Hmm, I had considered changing the rage HP to temporary HP just to keep things a bit simple, but I am not 100% sold on the idea just yet.

As for the complexity in attack rolls, that is the nature of the beast in some regards. Not every feat can be an "always" on proposition. In most cases, I see players right down the most damaging choice, the most accurate choice, and one somewhere in the middle. That said, YMMV.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing


DeadDMWalking wrote:


Problem 1 - The Barbarian is a Healing Sink

<snip>

It remains a concern that the 'toughest' member of the party is constantly begging for healing after each and every fight. I don't think a 'self-heal' option is appropriate from a flavor perspective, but I'd certainly like to see more options to consider to reduce this problem in the future....

The fact that barbarians need more healing than other melee characters is the trade off for raging. You are exchanging AC for superior stats, speed, damage reduction, etc. If there wasn't a downside to raging, everybody would be doing it.

If you want a tank that doesn't require as much healing, use a fighter or paladin. It won't have the high strength and damage of the barbarian, but it will have a higher AC.

IMO this is one of those suck it up and deal things... And I am currently running a barbarian in 3.5 so this isn't something from someone who hasn't been in the trenches. He started at 3rd level, and is now 19th. Big damage, big bandages.


Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Hmm, I had considered changing the rage HP to temporary HP just to keep things a bit simple, but I am not 100% sold on the idea just yet.

That's why I liked the idea changing it to a Die-Hard type ability, and increasing the point of Death. When you drop Rage, you end up being at significant negative HPs, requiring Healing to recover (or time/magical ability to Naturally Heal out of that).

Treating them as standard "Temporary HPs" (that come off first) is exploitable by alternating Rage every other Round (once you gain Roused Anger), to gain the maximum DR. Treating them as "Damage Delay" (the "normal" interpretation of the RAW) is just cruel. As I wrote elsewhere, almost nobody follows the RAW because it just ensures Player Kill once it's significant enough to matter.

Treating the bonus Rage HPs as a separate pool works (& not incompatable with RAW):
not adding HPs, and thus not subtracting them later, they just "disappear" at the end of Rage,
leaving the Barbarian @ 0 hp barring damage that exceeded their Rage HPs.
That also requires less Healing than the Die-Hard solution (since the Rage HPs absorb damage and then disappear), but since it's based on the same mechanic as other temporary CON increases, you have to decide if you'd like that effect for other temporary CON bonuses, as well.

Dark Archive

Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Hmm, I had considered changing the rage HP to temporary HP just to keep things a bit simple, but I am not 100% sold on the idea just yet.

As for the complexity in attack rolls, that is the nature of the beast in some regards. Not every feat can be an "always" on proposition. In most cases, I see players right down the most damaging choice, the most accurate choice, and one somewhere in the middle. That said, YMMV.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

What about an additional barbarian rage power called Enduring Anger that grants temporary hit points?

Liberty's Edge

Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Hmm, I had considered changing the rage HP to temporary HP just to keep things a bit simple, but I am not 100% sold on the idea just yet.

In the case of our group, the barbarians 4 extra hit points per rage aren't a lot. That is to say, he always goes through them. Even with a +8 Con at 20th level and Mighty Rage we're talking about 80 hit points - at that level we're talking one or two hits (or less) so it remains something nice to have but it isn't game breaking. What's nice is that it means the cleric has a little more healing for the rest of the party. I invite you to compare the healing output of a cleric against the hit point total of a barbarian. At 20th level those 80 hit points (x4 encounters per day) = 320 hit points in total healing that isn't used. Using Augment healing and Cure Critical Wounds (4d8+28) we're talking about the equivalent of 6 or 7 4th level spells being used for 'fun' stuff.

The only real concern should be a barbarian using their temp hit points and then immediately going back into a rage. I'd seriously consider removing that power. I'd also consider making the fatigue last 1 minute per round of rage. That is certainly sufficient to make sure the rage can be used only once effectively in an encounter. Since the cost of greater and mighty rage would be reduced, it also effectively increases the number of 'special' attacks the barbarian can make, making them even more fun to play.

Jason Bulmahn wrote:


As for the complexity in attack rolls, that is the nature of the beast in some regards. Not every feat can be an "always" on proposition. In most cases, I see players right down the most damaging choice, the most accurate choice, and one somewhere in the middle. That said, YMMV.

My concern isn't trying to figure out what the attack bonus for a raging barbarian is when we apply bull's strength, or enlarge, or both. When I play a barbarian in 3.5 I have two sets of attacks I keep track of - without rage and with rage. If I'm feeling really special, I'll also write down my attack routines with fatigue (since it can happen). I also would do these routines with common power attack numbers (partly addressed in Beta).

Now, in Pathfinder Beta, I have these several attack routines, but I have to do them three times (rage, greater rage, mighty rage). The goal is always to reduce the number of modifiers I have to apply to my attack roll to a minimal number - hopefully focusing on just situational modifiers like flanking. Calculating the change to a two-handed weapon (1.5x Str) is not so easy on the fly. I'm good with math, but to keep the game moving, I need to write these down.

There are a couple ways to solve this problem. One is to say that the barbarian can't change from one version of rage to another during the rage. I'm not too keen on that, since if you were burning 2 rage points per round to maintain greater rage and have 1 rage point left, it would be nice if you could use it in rage before dropping out.

The other solution is to make rage, greater rage and mighty rage all cost 1 rage point per round. This also more closely follows 3.5. In 3.5 at 20th level you don't have 1 mighty rage/day, 2 greater rages/day and 3 rages/day - you have 6 mighty rages per day... All of the greater rages are 'transformed' when you reach 20th level. If the system can be more backward compatible and still keep rage points, why wouldn't we make that change?

Liberty's Edge

Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Hmm, I had considered changing the rage HP to temporary HP just to keep things a bit simple, but I am not 100% sold on the idea just yet.

For clarity, then, you would need to change rage to be "+4 to Strength, +2 morale bonus to Will saves, 2 temporary hit points per character level, and +2 to Fortitude saves and Constitution checks," in order to avoid weirdness where this one instance of boosting Constitution create temporary hit points, where nothing else does.

Unless you would rather have temporary Constitution bonuses always grant temporary hit points, but those hit points become "real" if the bonus lasts for 24 hours or more...?


DeadDMWalking wrote:
The only real concern should be a barbarian using their temp hit points and then immediately going back into a rage. I'd seriously consider removing that power. I'd also consider making the fatigue last 1 minute per round of rage. That is certainly sufficient to make sure the rage can be used only once effectively in an encounter.
Right, except for one certain Rage Power...
Quandary wrote:
Treating them as standard "Temporary HPs" (that come off first) is exploitable by alternating Rage every other Round (once you gain Roused Anger), to gain the maximum DR.

BTW, what is people's take on either

a) Bonus HPs being a "separate pool" (never added, never subtracted, so dropping Rage doesn't kill the player)
b) Instead of Bonus HPs, grant Save/CON skill bonuses and allow the Barbarian to fight past the normal point of Death (increasing their point of death)

Treating them as standard "Temporary HPs" (that come off first) is exploitable by alternating Rage every other Round (once you gain Roused Anger), to gain the maximum DR. Treating them as "Damage Delay" (the "normal" interpretation of the RAW) is just cruel. As I wrote elsewhere, almost nobody follows the RAW because it just ensures Player Kill once it's significant enough to matter.

I mentioned these two alternative in the Barbarian Rage(General) thread, but there wasn't much response. It seems important if this is to be addressed SOMEHOW, and the current mechanism seems to be house-rules 99% of the time.


DeadDMWalking wrote:
In the case of our group, the barbarians 4 extra hit points per rage aren't a lot. That is to say, he always goes through them. Even with a +8 Con at 20th level and Mighty Rage we're talking about 80 hit points - at that level we're talking one or two hits (or less) so it remains something nice to have but it isn't game breaking. What's nice is that it means the cleric has a little more healing for the rest of the party. I invite you to compare the healing output of a cleric against the hit point total of a barbarian. At 20th level those 80 hit points (x4 encounters per day) = 320 hit points in total healing that isn't used. Using Augment healing and Cure Critical Wounds (4d8+28) we're talking about the equivalent of 6 or 7 4th level spells being used for 'fun' stuff.

Just curious, but how are you treating the Bonus Rage HPs? As Temporary HPs?

Or just tracking them as a separate pool, so when you drop Rage, you revert to 0 hp and pass out?

Liberty's Edge

We have not had our barbarian attempt to exploit roused anger to generate large numbers of 'new' temporary hit points. In my prior post, I referred to removing a power. That power is the one that I think could stand to be removed. Even without a temp hit point exploit, that one power basically negates the 'tactical disadvantage' of rage.

In any case, we use them as normal temporary hit points. Thus, when a barbarian rages, he gains +2 hit points per level (increasing as he gets more powerful rage abilities). These hit points are lost first. Thus, a 2nd level barbarian with base hit points of 24 has 28 hit points when raging. If the barbarian takes 4 points of damage (dropping to 24 hit points) he has not taken any 'real' damage. When he drops out of rage, he has full hit points.

If this barbarian takes 6 points of damage before dropping out of rage, he will only be 2 hit points from his full normal total (22) when he drops out of rage.

The advantage to this is two-fold. First of all, the barbarian never needs to worry about dying when he comes out of rage. If he likes the 'concept' of figthing beyond his normal ability, he can take die hard and achieve the same effect. Our group considers that a major benefit.

The second benefit is that the barbarian is not requiring quite the same level of healing. Barbarians are known for their low ACs, and this does nothing to change that. In basically every fight our barbarian burns through his rage hit points (and normally quite a few additional ones). At 2nd level it took 2 CLW and 2 Turn Undead attempts to get him to full. If anyone else took a 'medium' amount of damage, the cleric had no spells, even with the increased healing in Pathfinder.

If you run just about any combination of four party members, you're likely to find that the barbarian requires about 60% (or more) of the party's total healing. Ideally, that number would be closer to 25%, though that isn't entirely practical since some classes (wizards, etc) have fewer total hit points and are less likely to be hit in combat. We found that amount of healing to be a problem. We're playing Curse of the Crimson Throne with a cleric, a wizard, a sorcerer, and a barbarian. I'm not claiming we have anything like a standard party, but I'd like the rules to support most combinations of parties. In our particular case, to remain viable we needed to do something to reduce the amount of healing the barbarian required. Now, in our particular case, the difference was fairly small, but it is a noticeable difference. After trying it, I don't think we would consider going back.


Dead DM: Right, I think playing like how you do isn't uncommon at all,
because most players read the RAW as completely lethal to the Barb.

Obviously, your approach minimizes the healing needs of the Barbarian, but given the intent of the RAW was to NOT create any such effect, I was interested in finding some "middle ground" between Temporary Hit Points (100% DR until Temp Hit Points are gone, EACH Rage usage) and the "Cruel" reading of the RAW (Damage is only delayed until after Rage). The RAW Interpretation that is effectively LETHAL for the Barbarian seems more "Critical" than relative usage of Healing Resources, especially for venues (like Pathfinder Organized Play) where RAW are required.

In that vein, trying to improve Pathfinder, what was your take on 2 different options:

"Nice" reading of RAW:
The bonus HPs are tracked separately, never being "added", and thus never being "subtracted" later. They only come into play once the Barb. is at 0 regular HPs, which means when you drop Rage and the bonus HPs vanish, you pass out @ 0 hps - But the bonus HPs DID "absorb" damage PAST that point. Which is damage you don't have to heal.

No Bonus HPs at all, Enhanced Die-Hard:
While Raging, the Barb. gains Fort Save/CON skill bonus, but instead of Bonus HPs which disappear, they gain an enhanced Die-Hard ability to keep fighting into negative HPs. As well, their point of actual Death is increased (Normally = CON score, instead = Barb. Level * CON bonus) Since this increased point of Death applies OUTSIDE of Rage, the Barb only becomes UNCONSCIOUS, but is still HEALABLE, when they drop Rage.

This option doesn't reduce Healing Needs PER SE, but since the Barbarian can function into significant Negative HPs without problem, they don't NEED to be healed up to full HPs, anymore. (and if they take the Die-Hard FEAT, they can function normally at their "Enhanced" range of Negative HPs OUTSIDE of Rage, also)

...anyhow, thanks for knocking this issue around :-)


With regard to calculating attack and damage bonuses (which I agree can be a major pain), perhaps the Str bonus could be replaced with a flat bonus to attack and damage rolls. The Beta already did this with the spell Divine Power, and it made me very happy. This bonus would of course scale with the types of rage (probably +2 for normal rage, +3 for greater, and +4 for mighty).

If Jason ultimately agree with our plea to change the Con bonus to temporary hit points, then the two changes together wouldn't seem all that weird. Ability bonuses and their attendant recalculations would have been eliminated altogether.

The only disadvantage I see is the loss of 1.5x Str bonus on two-handed weapons. But with things like Power Attack and Overhand Chop helping out, this doesn't concern me.


How is a flat boost to Strength NOT a flat boost to att/damage?
Boosting the actual Strength also lets the Barbarian carry more weight/ be less encumbered (I have a Barbarian who is Medium encumbered normally, but only Light encumbrance while in Rage, because of Strength bonus)
It also means the Barbarian can move heavy items, etc...

Having a Rage boost to Strength isn't overly complicated, that's how it's always been. I *DO* support making the Greater Rage enhancements AUTOMATIC, so TWO or THREE Strength bonuses don't need to be accounted for. That's the only complication.

Dark Archive

Samuli wrote:
Selgard wrote:
not everyone agrees that the new barbarian should suffer due to some folks not wanting to do the book keep.
Nice of you to use those words. We call our barbarian's first level ability Bookkeeper's rage - he spends so much time checking the bonuses and rage points that there is no time for actual in-game raging.

Try playing a character with two or more spellcasting classes, and trying to keep track of your spell durations, available slots, spell DCs (assuming your ability scores are not identical and you've taken Feats to bump them) -- now *THAT* I call a bookkeeping nightmare. Rage Points feel like a breeze compared to playing, say, a PC who has levels in Paladin, Cleric and Favored Soul.

As for bonuses, I've found out that if you use a lot of 'buffs' in your group, it is just as hard to calculate bonuses to a fighter or a rogue than a barbarian ("Uh, so I charged, which gives me +2, and then I used Power Attack for -3, and I get +2 from flanking... and then there's the bonus from Bless and Bull's Strength to give me another +3... now, wait, I just noticed that all my attacks during the previous round would have inflicted two more points of damage... hey, is the 'Chant' bonus still on? How about the bard's Inspiration?" etcetera).

Liberty's Edge

Asgetrion wrote:


Try playing a character with two or more spellcasting classes, and trying to keep track of your spell durations, available slots, spell DCs (assuming your ability scores are not identical and you've taken Feats to bump them) -- now *THAT* I call a bookkeeping nightmare. Rage Points feel like a breeze compared to playing, say, a PC who has levels in Paladin, Cleric and Favored Soul.

If one class combination is difficult, but others are more difficult, that is not a reason not to consider making the first class less difficult. Particularly considering that other classes will be discussed in short order.

Asgetrion wrote:


As for bonuses, I've found out that if you use a lot of 'buffs' in your group, it is just as hard to calculate bonuses to a fighter or a rogue than a barbarian ("Uh, so I charged, which gives me +2, and then I used Power Attack for -3, and I get +2 from flanking... and then there's the bonus from Bless and Bull's Strength to give me another +3... now, wait, I just noticed that all my attacks during the previous round would have inflicted two more points of damage... hey, is the 'Chant' bonus still on? How about the bard's Inspiration?" etcetera).

I've found that I rarely have to do much recalculation round by round. Effects like bull's strength tend to last through the entire fight. It is only when things change rather dramatically that I have to spend much time applying new modifiers (such as when I go from normal to inside an anti-magic field). The problem for me is mostly going from +4 Str to +6 Str to +8 Str between rounds. I certainly might not do it for my character, but if rage costs fewer points than mighty rage, there might be times where it would be beneficial. I'd rather eliminate the benefit (by making mighty rage the same cost) which also is more like 3.5. In 3.5 a barbarian with mighty rage cannot 'rage'. They only 'mighty rage'. If the cost per round were the same, there would be no reason not to always choose a +8 bonus instead of a +4 bonus.


Quandary wrote:

"Nice" reading of RAW:
The bonus HPs are tracked separately, never being "added", and thus never being "subtracted" later. They only come into play once the Barb. is at 0 regular HPs, which means when you drop Rage and the bonus HPs vanish, you pass out @ 0 hps - But the bonus HPs DID "absorb" damage PAST that point. Which is damage you don't have to heal.

This makes a lot of sense to me. One question though. Normally you are disabled at 0 HP, conscious but limited in what you can do with the possibility of strenuous activity pushing you to -1 and unconscious. My question is do you mean 0 HP "ready to pass out" or drop to -1 and unconscious? Personally I like the idea of the Barbarian standing there but you could knock him over with a feater.

Either way I really like having the CON increase create a HP buffer between 0 and -1. Definitely going in my House Rules if nothing else.


Freesword wrote:
One question though. Normally you are disabled at 0 HP, conscious but limited in what you can do with the possibility of strenuous activity pushing you to -1 and unconscious. My question is do you mean 0 HP "ready to pass out" or drop to -1 and unconscious? Personally I like the idea of the Barbarian standing there but you could knock him over with a feater.

Whoops, that was a detail goof, but either way, you get the idea.

(and like you say, dropping Rage to come out @ 0 hp (disabled) where a feather can drop you DOES sound cool)
I'm glad at least you'll be getting some mileage out of the "Nice" Reading :-)
(Check out my more detailed description of it in the Barbarian Rage (General) thread...
I actually spoilered out the "Nice" Reading under an explanation of the other (Improved Diehard) solution...

I think both of the options I mentioned are realistic, non-exploitable (like Temp. HPs are) solutions to the situation.
...Though I'm still not really sure which is most optimal for the Core Rules...???

Sovereign Court

Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Hmm, I had considered changing the rage HP to temporary HP just to keep things a bit simple, but I am not 100% sold on the idea just yet.

I've got to say it, sorry. Our groups(s) stopped playing the Barbarian because of the death trap from losing the Con bonus when the Barbarian would go unconcious(-1 or less hit points) and suddenly lose another 2 hit points per hit die(becasue the Rage had ended) usually killing him out right before any healing could be applied.

So long as Raging provides a bonus to Con the mechanics of the game cripple the Barbarian. Removing the Con bonus is not very backward compatible until you break the benefit down to what it provides: +2 hp per hit die, +2 to fort saves, +2 to Con checks(such as holding ones breath or running).
Give the Raging Barbarian his +4 to Str, +2 morale to Will saves, and his -2 to AC; and +2 temp hp per hit die(or better yet per level of Barbarian to stymie those pesky multiclassers), +2 morale to Fort saves and access to the Endurance feat(maybe make this a low level Rage Power?). Of course scaling the new bonuses for Grater Rage and Mighty Rage.

Dark Archive

DeadDMWalking wrote:

If one class combination is difficult, but others are more difficult, that is not a reason not to consider making the first class less difficult. Particularly considering that other classes will be discussed in short order.

Correct, but in what sense does the Rage Points make barbarians so complex to run, that they should be eliminated? It's a point pool similar to HPs, and no more difficult to keep track of, right?

DeadDMWalking wrote:


I've found that I rarely have to do much recalculation round by round. Effects like bull's strength tend to last through the entire fight. It is only when things change rather dramatically that I have to spend much time applying new modifiers (such as when I go from normal to inside an anti-magic field). The problem for me is mostly going from +4 Str to +6 Str to +8 Str between rounds. I certainly might not do it for my character, but if rage costs fewer points than mighty rage, there might be times where it would be beneficial. I'd rather eliminate the benefit (by making mighty rage the same cost) which also is more like 3.5. In 3.5 a barbarian with mighty rage cannot 'rage'. They only 'mighty rage'. If the cost per round were the same, there would be no reason not to always choose a +8 bonus...

There are "tactical options", such as charging or using a Feat or certain magical items, which may have a varying impact on your attack bonus or AC on a roundly basis. Or maybe the cleric/bard/wizard uses another buff in combat to boost your bonuses. Or maybe you yourself want to spend a few rounds buffing your PC.

My point is that bonuses are already pretty hard to track in 3E/PF, and the examples provided do not seem too hard on top of that. I *do* agree with you that Rage should automatically "upgrade" to Mighty Rage... it's a bit silly that they're separate abilities with different point costs.

Liberty's Edge

Asgetrion wrote:
My point is that bonuses are already pretty hard to track in 3E/PF, and the examples provided do not seem too hard on top of that. I *do* agree with you that Rage should automatically "upgrade" to Mighty Rage... it's a bit silly that they're separate abilities with different point costs.

I am not advocating getting rid of rage points.

There are others who are. I don't care much about them one way or another, to be honest. They're a mechanic and have some definite advantages over 'per day' uses.

My specific issue is the point cost for rage/greater rage/mighty rage. In 3.5 when a character gains Greater Rage, every round that they could have raged that day is not a Greater Rage. They do not rage any less time now that they 'rage harder'. For that reason, the point cost for rage should be fixed - and every version of rage would have the same cost.

In Pathfinder Beta if I have 100 rage points, I could 'Rage' for 100 rounds, or I could 'Greater Rage' for 50 rounds. I think that the character should be able to 'Greater Rage' for 100 rounds. I don't think that is too game breaking. It is just smart design. So, by making any version of rage cost 1 pt/round, you effectively eliminate 'rage' when 'greater rage' becomes available.

Most fights use the same modifiers every round. There are only a small number of effects that actually vary from round to round. If our group has had time to buff, I know that my Bull's Strength, Greater Magic Weapon, Bardic Music and Rage will apply to every attack in combat. Flanking or sneak attack might not. So, I figure my bonus with all the enhancements I expect, and only rarely do I have to adjust (Targeted Dispel Magic, for instance). Allowing a character to move from +8 Str to +4 Str to +6 Str involves more complicated math - particularly with 2 handed weapons.

If the normal Str bonus is +5 (1.5x) is +7. At +4 Str the bonus becomes +7 (+10 2-handed). At +6 it becomes +8 (+12 2-handed)and at +8 it becomes +9 (+13 2-handed). The effective increase to damage is either 3 or 4 - that's the math I want to avoid. Take out the multiplication and it wouldn't be as big a worry. Take out the variable strength and it wouldnt' be so big a problem. I don't really care which one changes, but one of them should. Since x1.5 Str was used in 3.5 and variable Rage bonus was not, from the perspective of Backward Compatability, ending 'variable rage' seems the better choice.


DeadDMWalking wrote:
My specific issue is the point cost for rage/greater rage/mighty rage. In 3.5 when a character gains Greater Rage, every round that they could have raged that day is not a Greater Rage. They do not rage any less time now that they 'rage harder'. For that reason, the point cost for rage should be fixed - and every version of rage would have the same cost.

I'll echo that rage should automatically "upgrade" at the appropriate level breaks, with no additional cost. It's pointless to require a player to track 4 different states (normal, raging, greater raging, mighty raging) with different bonuses in each (1.5xStr weapon, 2xStr Power Atk, etc.), when two are just as good for the game. Maybe the varying bonuses are more simple to recalculate and track in practice for most people than I seem to feel they are... but why make additional work for no good reason?


This will be sooo unpopular but I will say it anyway.
Change Barbarians completely.
Do away with rage as a class feature replace it with damage reduction or something and make rage a feat.
There is one reason I have never played a barbarian, and that is rage. I often times try to find ways to make a Barbarian type of character using the fighter class just to avoid it LOL
I might suggest looking at Conan d20 from mongoose for a good variant.
I have never understood what being "rustic" and coming from a culture that does not use a whole lot of armor has to do with unbridled anger. :)

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