Dex Based Barbarian?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


So the Urban Barbarian has a Rage that lets them improve dexterity. I was thinking is a Dex based (and more importantly shirtless) barbarian feasible? If so then what feats and rage powers should they go with?


You could go archery, or my personal favorite, Weapon Finesse + Scimitar Dance. Rage and up your AC, Reflex Saves, Attack and Damage in one easy step!

Liberty's Edge

Sure. Very feasible.

If you actually want to skip armor entirely, the Savage Barbarian gives some AC bonuses when not wearing armor, and stacks with Urban Barbarian...though Invulnerable Rager (which also stacks) and a Mithral Chain Shirt, eventually replaced by Celestial Chain, are better.

In terms of Feats, Power Attack remains solid, and worth investing in Str 13, Weapon Finesse is obviously a must, Fencing Grace or Dervish Dance are possible if you're willing to forego two-handing a weapon (which hurts your DPR, sadly), and a dip of Swashbuckler (or Aldori Dueling Sword Proficiency) make Slashing Grace a possibility...giving you Dex-to-damage on a weapon you can wield two-handed.

Rage Power wise, there's little reason not to grab the standard loadout of the Beast Totem/Superstition build. Particularly Beast Totem. Extra AC is great on this build, and pounce makes you more mobile (very appropriate for a Dex-based character).


I'm currently playing a Barbarian with higher Dexterity than Strength (by a good margin), and the advice I've received revolves around getting Dex to damage somehow.

You could dip a level of Swashbuckler and take Slashing Grace, use a Rapier with Fencing Grace, use a Scimitar with Dervish Dance, or use a finessable weapon and wait for a +1 Agile version.

The last one, though it takes the longest to come-online, as it were, is probably the best, since you could use a two-handed weapon like the Elven curve-blade that has Weapon Finesse support. While your Dex bonus won't be increased* for two-handing, this makes it ideal for Power Attack.

*I've heard some claims that the Dex bonus should be increased, but the RAW of these statements is unclear to me- my own reading of the rules leads me to say this doesn't work. YMMV!

The big problem you need to solve is actually armor. Increasing Dexterity actually doesn't tend to increase your AC as much as you might think it would.

Consider an 18 Dex character wearing a chain shirt. If their Dexterity increases to 20, switching to lighter armor (studded leather) doesn't actually increase their AC (other than their touch AC), and your flat-footed AC becomes worse.

This highlights what I believe to be the fatal flaw of the Urban Barbarian's ability to increase Dexterity- the archetype trades out Uncanny Dodge, which is the best possible way to 'protect your investment' in Dexterity.

As your Dex/dodge bonuses to AC increase, the damage inflicted on your defense by being surprised/failing to win initiative/having to balance or climb becomes severe.

Special materials become necessary if you wear armor and actually want to increase AC with Dexterity. This can quickly become quite onerous; mithril chain shirts can support a 22 Dexterity, but if you plan to exceed this Dexterity, you suddenly need to invest in a completely different suit of armor (like Celestial chain)!

If you have reliable access to Mage Armor, this actually becomes one of the best options for an extremely high-Dexterity character; it only has an armor bonus of 4, but it has no max Dex.

There's also bracers of armor, but these become prohibitively expensive for no good reason; you'd be better off buying a handy haversack and filling it with potions of mage armor (not a bad proposition, really- at higher levels 400 gp/day in consumables is actually fairly cheap, and your DM _shouldn't_ count these against your WBL...but some will, so beware!).

As far as the archer route goes, while powerful, being a good archer is feat-intensive, and gets little support from the Barbarian class chassis. You'll be better served by multiclassing with something better suited for the task.

EDIT: a possibly interesting thing I've found is the Snakeskin Tunic, which provides a +1 armor bonus to AC and a +2 enhancement bonus to Dexterity, while being a chest slot item. IF this item can be upgraded (it seems like it should be possible, but...), I think it could be a very good solution for extremely high-Dexterity builds. Or not. :P

Liberty's Edge

Lynceus wrote:

I'm currently playing a Barbarian with higher Dexterity than Strength (by a good margin), and the advice I've received revolves around getting Dex to damage somehow.

You could dip a level of Swashbuckler and take Slashing Grace, use a Rapier with Fencing Grace, use a Scimitar with Dervish Dance, or use a finessable weapon and wait for a +1 Agile version.

The last one, though it takes the longest to come-online, as it were, is probably the best, since you could use a two-handed weapon like the Elven curve-blade that has Weapon Finesse support. While your Dex bonus won't be increased* for two-handing, this makes it ideal for Power Attack.

*I've heard some claims that the Dex bonus should be increased, but the RAW of these statements is unclear to me- my own reading of the rules leads me to say this doesn't work. YMMV!

All correct, though I'll note that you can two-hand an Aldori Dueling Sword fine while using Slashing Grace, and can do so without a dip.

Lynceus wrote:
The big problem you need to solve is actually armor. Increasing Dexterity actually doesn't tend to increase your AC as much as you might think it would.

It can if you build right.

Lynceus wrote:
Consider an 18 Dex character wearing a chain shirt. If their Dexterity increases to 20, switching to lighter armor (studded leather) doesn't actually increase their AC (other than their touch AC), and your flat-footed AC becomes worse.

Mithral Chain Shirts are cheap enough to help with this, but the principle does apply to some degree.

Lynceus wrote:
This highlights what I believe to be the fatal flaw of the Urban Barbarian's ability to increase Dexterity- the archetype trades out Uncanny Dodge, which is the best possible way to 'protect your investment' in Dexterity.

Uh...Urban Barbarian keeps Uncanny Dodge.

Lynceus wrote:
As your Dex/dodge bonuses to AC increase, the damage inflicted on your defense by being surprised/failing to win initiative/having to balance or climb becomes severe.

Nope. See above. :)

Lynceus wrote:
Special materials become necessary if you wear armor and actually want to increase AC with Dexterity. This can quickly become quite onerous; mithril chain shirts can support a 22 Dexterity, but if you plan to exceed this Dexterity, you suddenly need to invest in a completely different suit of armor (like Celestial chain)!

This is true, but Celestial Chain isn't all that hard to acquire, to be honest. And provides for AC 27 by 10th level or so when you get it, even with no other items. That's solid. Especially since you can get to AC 29 cheap as hell from there.

Buying any really expensive armor before you can get that is probably a waste, but you can do pretty well even without doing so.

Lynceus wrote:

If you have reliable access to Mage Armor, this actually becomes one of the best options for an extremely high-Dexterity character; it only has an armor bonus of 4, but it has no max Dex.

There's also bracers of armor, but these become prohibitively expensive for no good reason; you'd be better off buying a handy haversack and filling it with potions of mage armor (not a bad proposition, really- at higher levels 400 gp/day in consumables is actually fairly cheap, and your DM _shouldn't_ count these against your WBL...but some will, so beware!).

With anyone in the party who can cast it, it's simpler to just buy a Pearl of Power and have them cast it on you.

Lynceus wrote:
As far as the archer route goes, while powerful, being a good archer is feat-intensive, and gets little support from the Barbarian class chassis. You'll be better served by multiclassing with something better suited for the task.

Barbarians can make good archers, but yeah, the Dex-build isn't necessarily the way to go there.

Lynceus wrote:
EDIT: a possibly interesting thing I've found is the Snakeskin Tunic, which provides a +1 armor bonus to AC and a +2 enhancement bonus to Dexterity, while being a chest slot item. IF this item can be upgraded (it seems like it should be possible, but...), I think it could be a very good solution for extremely high-Dexterity builds. Or not. :P

Eh, if going with a no cap item, silk armor or a haramaki work fine. Expensive enough that it's not worth it, IMO (for reasons gone into above), but cheaper than the Snakeskin Tunic.


The savage technologist might make this work better, unless you are planning to make use of crowd control or skills while raging. I dislike giving up the will bonus, and the savage technologist keeps it. Just because you can use firearms there is no reason you have to.


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I think Titan Mauler stacks with Urban barb. If so, you could easily TWF with rapiers after a 1 level dip into inspired blade.

Not actually a terrible choice imo.

Sovereign Court

Lynceus wrote:
There's also bracers of armor, but these become prohibitively expensive for no good reason; you'd be better off buying a handy haversack and filling it with potions of mage armor (not a bad proposition, really- at higher levels 400 gp/day in consumables is actually fairly cheap, and your DM _shouldn't_ count these against your WBL...but some will, so beware!).

1. Bracers of armor cost the exact same as enchanting armor, they just start with a +0 bonus.

2. The GM should count them against WBL - if they don't there is literally no long-term cost for using any sort of potion. From what I understand - expendables are expected to be 10-15% of your wealth. If you exceed that, your wealth should end up a bit below WBL. If you go miserly and spend less, your wealth should end up a bit higher than WBL.


Huh. And here I thought just about every Barbarian archetype ever sacrificed Uncanny Dodge, lol. In this case, confused it with fast movement. As I was.

Bracers of Armor are costed the same as an enhancement bonus to armor, but this is really too expensive if you think about it; actual armor can have an enhancement bonus added to it, and the game already has several types of armor that anyone can wear that can have enhancement bonuses applied to them, such as the armored kilt, providing better AC.

I mean, sure, there are bracers +7 and +8, but at that point, there has to be a less expensive way to increase AC.

As for consumables using up your WBL, here's the thing. Your character is assumed to have X amount of wealth at Y level. So let's say at level 2, I have a wand of a 1st level spell, and you have a longsword +1.

If I use up all the charges of my wand by level 4, I now demonstrably have 750 less WBL than you do. Consumable < permanent item.

Not recouping that wealth means that buying consumables is a trap option, and taking a wand as treasure is just going to hurt you in the long run.


LoneKnave wrote:

I think Titan Mauler stacks with Urban barb. If so, you could easily TWF with rapiers after a 1 level dip into inspired blade.

Not actually a terrible choice imo.

I actually re-read titan mauler today, and it does not work as I remembered it. My apologies.

Sovereign Court

Lynceus wrote:
Not recouping that wealth means that buying consumables is a trap option, and taking a wand as treasure is just going to hurt you in the long run.

Yes it will.

But that wand is far more useful than a permanent magic item of equal value. So you could simply think of a certain % of your wealth as being earmarked for expendables and make sure that they last.

Otherwise there'd be no reason not to blow all your gold every time you go to town. After all - the GM has to keep you at WBL.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
HyperMissingno wrote:
So the Urban Barbarian has a Rage that lets them improve dexterity. I was thinking is a Dex based (and more importantly shirtless) barbarian feasible? If so then what feats and rage powers should they go with?

If you are willing to use the Technology Guide, the savage technologist archetype is also an option; rage adds to Str and Dex and has no AC penalty. It even grants Dex-mod to damage with firearm attacks when raging at 5th level.

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