Need to rename Barbarian


Homebrew and House Rules

1 to 50 of 52 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

I use Talented Barbarian, which expands what roles Barbarians can fill and lets them be more mystic or forgo rage. This is a good improvement, but I have an issue with the class name. Namely, the fact that the class does still fit a lot of tribal cultures, and my setting touches on issues of Native Americans, Ainu, West African, and other cultures that produce a fair number of warriors who are thematically appropriate to the class. I also see the class as useful for Norse berserkers and woods hermits and the like. Now, I do not want to write a member of a culture heavily based off of, say, the Apache as being a Barbarian. It feels like an insult. So, I need a different name, besides berserker, which doesn't fit do to the fact that not all members of the class fly into a rage. Any ideas?


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Primalist, Primal Warrior?


I like Berserker - those who fight with no shirts, literally.

The other one I like is Ravager.

But, to be absolutely technical, Barbarian shouldn't be an insult. It's the equivalent of Outlander.


9 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

if they don't speak greek, you can assuredly call them a barbarian.


It may have some baggage but Brave could work.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The name of the class is irrelevant. In-game people don't know that classes exist, much less that they have one; it's purely a metagame construct. Just have the character describe his profession as appropriate for his skill set/abilities. Scout, shaman, warrior, et cetera. What's written on the sheet is meaningless.


Secret Wizard wrote:

I like Berserker - those who fight with no shirts, literally.

Incorrect. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/berserker and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berserker They wore the pelts of bears as shirts, not no shirts.

However, I agree the Barbarian shouldn't be an insult. Barbarians are proud, honorable, semi-nomadic warrior people with rich, oral traditions.

That being said, Tribal Warrior, or simply have different names for the same class depending on the culture from which the character hails.


I've always called Barbarians "Berserkers" in my game, which encompasses the whole rage bit. The Norse term bare sarc, iirc "without a mail shirt", for frothing mad warriors who fought without armor is where the term berserker comes from (as Secret Wizard mentioned above). A barbarian is, to me, anybody from a non literate tribal society, no matter the character class. And yeah, as Bandw2 says, the Greek term is barbaros, again iirc, it means "babbler" or "babbling idiot", which describes anybody who doesn't speak Greek :) And don't get the Greeks started on those country hicks from Macedonia with their terrible accents, next best thing to barbarians... and in another nod to Secret Wizard, outlander is a good translation of the intent of the Greek term. Just remember to heap the phrase with scorn for those poor wretches who don't speak the proper language of civilized men, Babbling semi-human savages :D

*edit* As an aside, in my game "barbarian" as a term in Common is derived from the Elvish term for "Humans" :)


The thing is, Barbarian has connotations beyond the original Greek meaning. If we ask dictionary.com:

noun
1.
a person in a savage, primitive state; uncivilized person.
2.
a person without culture, refinement, or education; philistine.
3.
(loosely) a foreigner.
4.
a non-Greek.
a person living outside, especially north of, the Roman Empire.
a person not living in a Christian country or within a Christian civilization.
5.
(among Italians during the Renaissance) a person of non-Italian origin.
adjective
6.
uncivilized; crude; savage.
7.
foreign; alien.

Those first two means are meanings I would typically interpret for the term, and when we are talking about Native Americans, West Africans, colonization, and ethnic cleansing it gets gigantically offensive. It may not be all that bad to call an Orc or a Celt a barbarian, but somebody closely modeled after the Native American tribes my people dumped on as savages and thoroughly ethnic cleansed? Very, very bad.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

It's only offensive if you think "civilized" is some sort of commendation.


While we're at it, can we rename the Witch class?


Well, there's the term pinese, which was a warrior thought to be invulnerable in battle. At least, there was reference to this in Nathaniel Philbrick's non-fiction account Mayflower.

I might look for an alternate spelling that might result in less hysterical typos though. A google search for this term proved especially difficult to perform at work.


Tribesman?


Zhayne has the right of it. How is the name of the class relevant to the player characters?

You could arm a barbarian PC in a suit of armor and proclaim him to be a noble knight-errant of the people and explain his rage with a battlefield trauma. Is that PC still a barbarian, or a knight by definition?


Personally, as a descendant of the mighty, proud, socially and technologically advanced Celtic peoples who fought so valiantly to preserve our way of life, heritage, and lands against the encroachment of the Roman race, I find your hesitancy to call native Americans barbarians while being completely willing to apply the term to my people ( even going so far as to lump us in the class as the hated and reviled orcs) rather suspect and insensitive.

Just saying. ;)

Seriously, as others have mentioned, it is a game mechanic class name and not really used in game world. If the surrounding cultures view these people as 'horrid barbarians' they will view them as such whether you change the class name or not.... and vice versa.


Yeah, obviously the class names are all completely irrelevant and should simply be removed. We will from now on just speak of "Class1", "Class2", etc.


They should just call the class "superhero" because apparently "rage" can power anything, including climbing or doing energy damage. And like the Hulk, you can make yourself enraged at the drop of a hat and turn it off.


They might have a point about over-correction.

There is also the more subtle stereotype of the noble savage to contend with.

Better to call a spade a spade, and use the class names as is. The Barbarian should rightly be called the berserker anyway, since the rage mechanic is the main class feature and it's apolitical.


The thing that occurs to me is that Barbarian (from the 1st Edition AD&D Unearthed Arcana) was not rage-based and was more "low tech wilderness." Do I remember this correctly?

Besides, it was Conan the Barbarian, not Conan the Berserker, that everyone loved. Loved so much that they made movies, comic books, and Thundarr the Barbarian.


Mazym wrote:

The thing that occurs to me is that Barbarian (from the 1st Edition AD&D Unearthed Arcana) was not rage-based and was more "low tech wilderness." Do I remember this correctly?

Besides, it was Conan the Barbarian, not Conan the Berserker, that everyone loved. Loved so much that they made movies, comic books, and Thundarr the Barbarian.

Yes. That's how the class started. Can't remember if it was 1E or 2E, though.

Was there a rage based 2E version or did that start with 3.0?


thejeff wrote:
Yeah, obviously the class names are all completely irrelevant and should simply be removed. We will from now on just speak of "Class1", "Class2", etc.

Your skills at utterly missing the point are well-honed.

They are irrelevant in-world, not at table level. It doesn't matter one tiny whit if my character doesn't refer to himself by his character class. Hell, in 99% of cases, they shouldn't because it makes no sense. If my 'barbarian' calls himself a scout, or a warrior, where's the problem? Nobody in-character is going to point at him and correct him, because they don't know what a character class is. Nor does it mean my character must be crude, rude, unwashed or uncivilized in any way; classes do not come with attached personalities.


Mazym wrote:
Besides, it was Conan the Barbarian, not Conan the Berserker, that everyone loved. Loved so much that they made movies, comic books, and Thundarr the Barbarian.

An excellent point ... as Conan would not be a member of the barbarian class in PF, thus reinforcing that class is not concept and concept is not class.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

They might have a point about over-correction.

There is also the more subtle stereotype of the noble savage to contend with.

Better to call a spade a spade, and use the class names as is. The Barbarian should rightly be called the berserker anyway, since the rage mechanic is the main class feature and it's apolitical.

Problem with that is history and legacy. Berserker has been also used as a Barbarian PrC or Barbarian specific variant. Berserkers are generally Barbarian types with no control over who they tear apart, whether friend or foe.


Zhayne wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Yeah, obviously the class names are all completely irrelevant and should simply be removed. We will from now on just speak of "Class1", "Class2", etc.

Your skills at utterly missing the point are well-honed.

They are irrelevant in-world, not at table level. It doesn't matter one tiny whit if my character doesn't refer to himself by his character class. Hell, in 99% of cases, they shouldn't because it makes no sense. If my 'barbarian' calls himself a scout, or a warrior, where's the problem? Nobody in-character is going to point at him and correct him, because they don't know what a character class is. Nor does it mean my character must be crude, rude, unwashed or uncivilized in any way; classes do not come with attached personalities.

But if they aren't intended to convey information out of game, then why have them? The fact that Conan, the iconic barbarian, isn't best represented in game by the barbarian class suggests that there is a problem with the name.


They do convey information out of game. 'This is a particular collection of mechanical elements to be used in conjunction with other game elements to realize a character concept'. That's it.

Not personality.
Not background.
Not behavior.

You know, that whole ROLE-PLAYING thing .. ever heard of it?


Will you have druids in this setting?

Do you feel the same reservations about the historical context of that term?

How about paladins?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Not all tribal characters have to be Barbarians.

Rangers are very appropriate, even plain Fighters, although there should be restrictions on feats and equipment as appropriate. Barbarians may be the ones very much in touch with the land, or with the tribal totem. In the original Dieties and Demigods, Hiawatha was written as a Paladin.

Being in tune with their environment there should be Shamans, or Druidic Shamans, as one prefers.

Sorcerers are appropriate but a case can be made for a Tribal Wizard who uses a very different form of spellbook and writing.

About the only core classes that really doesn't fit are Cleric and Monk.


Zhayne wrote:

They do convey information out of game. 'This is a particular collection of mechanical elements to be used in conjunction with other game elements to realize a character concept'. That's it.

Not personality.
Not background.
Not behavior.

You know, that whole ROLE-PLAYING thing .. ever heard of it?

In which case, there's no reason to use the term "Barbarian". Or any other class name. Go with Class1, Class2, etc. Since it's just a reference to a "a particular collection of mechanical elements to be used in conjunction with other game elements to realize a character concept", why give the flavorful name?

Because flavor is important. Sure, you can reskin things when you want to subvert that flavor, but that shouldn't be the default.


Because due to the setup of the game, everything needs an identifying moniker. It's shorthand. You can, of course, change it at will if it doesn't fit you, as you can ALL fluff in the game. Frankly, if someone were to tell me I was 'playing my guy wrong' if I didn't stick to the stereotypes, I'd tell him to shove his CRB where the sun don't shine.

Flavor is important, yes, but the only flavor that matters is what the player gives his character.


LazarX wrote:
About the only core classes that really doesn't fit are Cleric and Monk.

Nah. A Cleric of Gorum or Gozreh would be plenty appropriate for a barbarian tribe. And I could totally build an unarmored fistfighter who derives supernatural abilities from her connection to the land with the Monk chassis.


Arachnofiend wrote:
LazarX wrote:
About the only core classes that really doesn't fit are Cleric and Monk.
Nah. A Cleric of Gorum or Gozreh would be plenty appropriate for a barbarian tribe. And I could totally build an unarmored fistfighter who derives supernatural abilities from her connection to the land with the Monk chassis.

Or take an archetype like Martial Artist that gets rid of the supernatural stuff ... or best of all, get the Talented Monk 3PP supplement. ;)


Names of classes are structured towards European middle ages fantasy stereotypes.

And for those saying Barbarian is an insult, clicky.


Zhayne wrote:

Because due to the setup of the game, everything needs an identifying moniker. It's shorthand. You can, of course, change it at will if it doesn't fit you, as you can ALL fluff in the game. Frankly, if someone were to tell me I was 'playing my guy wrong' if I didn't stick to the stereotypes, I'd tell him to shove his CRB where the sun don't shine.

Flavor is important, yes, but the only flavor that matters is what the player gives his character.

Which is why I suggested dropping it completely from the rules.

I do agree that you can certainly give your character whatever flavor you want and play them however you please (barring certain mechanical rp limits), that doesn't mean that just because you can override the default flavor, the default flavor is irrelevant. That's not an excuse to dismiss complaints about class names and associated flavor.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
Zhayne wrote:

They do convey information out of game. 'This is a particular collection of mechanical elements to be used in conjunction with other game elements to realize a character concept'. That's it.

Not personality.
Not background.
Not behavior.

You know, that whole ROLE-PLAYING thing .. ever heard of it?

In which case, there's no reason to use the term "Barbarian". Or any other class name. Go with Class1, Class2, etc. Since it's just a reference to a "a particular collection of mechanical elements to be used in conjunction with other game elements to realize a character concept", why give the flavorful name?

Because flavor is important. Sure, you can reskin things when you want to subvert that flavor, but that shouldn't be the default.

I think the point he was trying to make is that class names and classes themselves are metagame constructs used for convenience. Characters don't go around describing themselves as Fighter 2nd/ Wizard Third.


LazarX wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Zhayne wrote:

They do convey information out of game. 'This is a particular collection of mechanical elements to be used in conjunction with other game elements to realize a character concept'. That's it.

Not personality.
Not background.
Not behavior.

You know, that whole ROLE-PLAYING thing .. ever heard of it?

In which case, there's no reason to use the term "Barbarian". Or any other class name. Go with Class1, Class2, etc. Since it's just a reference to a "a particular collection of mechanical elements to be used in conjunction with other game elements to realize a character concept", why give the flavorful name?

Because flavor is important. Sure, you can reskin things when you want to subvert that flavor, but that shouldn't be the default.

I think the point he was trying to make is that class names and classes themselves are metagame constructs used for convenience. Characters don't go around describing themselves as Fighter 2nd/ Wizard Third.

Which is certainly true and not something I'd want to dispute.

OTOH, a class name that keeps bringing up this question suggests that the name might not be the best choice.


Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

Will you have druids in this setting?

Do you feel the same reservations about the historical context of that term?

I am aware that Druid is inaccurate if we go by real history, given the historical use of the term, but it doesn't come off as an insult towards Natives like Barbarian does. Since I'm not going for historical accuracy, Druid doesn't really bother me.

Quote:
How about paladins?

Same as Druid. It's not insulting. I apply that to the Witch as well. Historically, it was somewhat pejorative, but nowadays it doesn't come across as such anymore when referring to actual spellcasters.


Zhayne wrote:
The thing that occurs to me is that Barbarian (from the 1st Edition AD&D Unearthed Arcana) was not rage-based and was more "low tech wilderness." Do I remember this correctly?
Talented Barbarian from Rogue Genius takes the class back into similar territory, with Barbarians having a primal connection to the wilds, but it doesn't necessarily have to be low tech. Often is, of course. Under the Talented system, the class can get rage, but it has a few other options it can pick instead, so not all Barbarians even have rage.
Mazym wrote:
An excellent point ... as Conan would not be a member of the barbarian class in PF, thus reinforcing that class is not concept and concept is not class.

Under vanilla PF, perhaps. Under the Talented system? Conan would indeed belong to the Barbarian class. In fact, making that the case is something Talented Barbarian is specifically called out as doing.


Gulian wrote:
Zhayne has the right of it. How is the name of the class relevant to the player characters?

The class name is shorthand for the basic set of rule themes a player chose. These themes can be circumvented to carry a different flavor, which isn't a bad thing, but the majority of Barbarians are in fact from tribal societies, not knights. To set up one set of rule themes under a term for "undeveloped, primitive savage", and then use that shorthand to describe the abilities of warriors from civilizations that my not too distant ancestors demonized as stupid, violent, ignorant savages, and ethnic cleansed from land they wanted and couldn't have full of heathen primitives. The first of my ancestors to come to the United States was an Indian Fighter who didn't consider shooting "savages" to be wrong. The fact my own ancestor took pride in having committed such evil is sickening. Stuff like this is a really sore issue for me.

Now, I do like Westerns. I've also recently been asking for a "Vikings and Indians" PF adventure path. Thing is, it really needs to come with a fair minded view of Native Americans (which, incidentally, I would trust Paizo's writing with). That means both not portraying them as violent savages and avoiding the Noble Savage myth. To me, using the term Barbarian, even in metagame, has connotations with the first.


I think you're prescribing more weight to the term barbarian than it has? Note that you keep using savages in your above post; that was the racially loaded term Americans used to note "uncultured native swine". Barbarian was more for Germanic peoples in the pre-Industrial eras, though it got popular again during the world wars (beat back the Huns and all that).

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
Gulian wrote:
Zhayne has the right of it. How is the name of the class relevant to the player characters?

The class name is shorthand for the basic set of rule themes a player chose. These themes can be circumvented to carry a different flavor, which isn't a bad thing, but the majority of Barbarians are in fact from tribal societies, not knights. To set up one set of rule themes under a term for "undeveloped, primitive savage", and then use that shorthand to describe the abilities of warriors from civilizations that my not too distant ancestors demonized as stupid, violent, ignorant savages, and ethnic cleansed from land they wanted and couldn't have full of heathen primitives. The first of my ancestors to come to the United States was an Indian Fighter who didn't consider shooting "savages" to be wrong. The fact my own ancestor took pride in having committed such evil is sickening. Stuff like this is a really sore issue for me.

Now, I do like Westerns. I've also recently been asking for a "Vikings and Indians" PF adventure path. Thing is, it really needs to come with a fair minded view of Native Americans (which, incidentally, I would trust Paizo's writing with). That means both not portraying them as violent savages and avoiding the Noble Savage myth. To me, using the term Barbarian, even in metagame, has connotations with the first.

If it helps, the Indians did do a lot of war, enslavement, and land dispossession on each other, long before the white man came into the picture.


Kelsey is probably aware of that since she's equally bothered by the noble savage myth.

I'd love an alternate history where the Iroquois don't have any special weakness to smallpox and manage to keep their empire carved out with blood and fur.


Although I rarely use class names in my games, there is one other thing to consider. When the classes were designed (or redesigned over the editions), the name and connotations associated with the name influenced the design. [Admittedly, in some cases not very much.] If we were to rename the barbarian, it seems like the class features should be adjusted. A Berserker doesn't need all the nature stuff, and most tribal warriors weren't rage monsters, because in the real world that is a low survival strategy.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Arachnofiend wrote:

Kelsey is probably aware of that since she's equally bothered by the noble savage myth.

I'd love an alternate history where the Iroquois don't have any special weakness to smallpox and manage to keep their empire carved out with blood and fur.

While smallpox was a big issue, I believe the fatal one was being caught in the middle of the British and French colonial wars and aligning with the losing side. Although given the Brits, I'm not sure that hooking up with them would have made much difference.


The Iroquois won pretty much every actual encounter they had, if I recall. And even with being consistently decimated by disease they still managed to hold out until after the American Revolution, it was only then that the longhouses got cleaned out entirely.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
LazarX wrote:
Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
Gulian wrote:
Zhayne has the right of it. How is the name of the class relevant to the player characters?

The class name is shorthand for the basic set of rule themes a player chose. These themes can be circumvented to carry a different flavor, which isn't a bad thing, but the majority of Barbarians are in fact from tribal societies, not knights. To set up one set of rule themes under a term for "undeveloped, primitive savage", and then use that shorthand to describe the abilities of warriors from civilizations that my not too distant ancestors demonized as stupid, violent, ignorant savages, and ethnic cleansed from land they wanted and couldn't have full of heathen primitives. The first of my ancestors to come to the United States was an Indian Fighter who didn't consider shooting "savages" to be wrong. The fact my own ancestor took pride in having committed such evil is sickening. Stuff like this is a really sore issue for me.

Now, I do like Westerns. I've also recently been asking for a "Vikings and Indians" PF adventure path. Thing is, it really needs to come with a fair minded view of Native Americans (which, incidentally, I would trust Paizo's writing with). That means both not portraying them as violent savages and avoiding the Noble Savage myth. To me, using the term Barbarian, even in metagame, has connotations with the first.

If it helps, the Indians did do a lot of war, enslavement, and land dispossession on each other, long before the white man came into the picture.

I doubt it really does. Largely because that's a very common argument used to absolve white people of any blame for what amounted to genocide and ethnic cleansing. Very similar to blaming Africans for black slavery.

Either point can be raised in a more nuanced discussion and the noble savage myth should be avoided, but using them to whitewash what Europeans did in the Americas is not kosher.


LazarX wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:

Kelsey is probably aware of that since she's equally bothered by the noble savage myth.

I'd love an alternate history where the Iroquois don't have any special weakness to smallpox and manage to keep their empire carved out with blood and fur.

While smallpox was a big issue, I believe the fatal one was being caught in the middle of the British and French colonial wars and aligning with the losing side. Although given the Brits, I'm not sure that hooking up with them would have made much difference.

Imagine if they'd had resistance to more than smallpox. Estimates these days are that something like 90% of the Native population died from disease, much of that before settlement or direct contact - epidemics spread westward from the first European explorers. The eastern US was largely depopulated by the time colonists arrived.

Though smallpox definitely affected the Iroquois wars, the entire scenario would have been completely different if it wasn't for the earlier waves of disease.


Click the damned link I put here OP


Arachnofiend wrote:
The Iroquois won pretty much every actual encounter they had, if I recall. And even with being consistently decimated by disease they still managed to hold out until after the American Revolution, it was only then that the longhouses got cleaned out entirely.

What brought down the Iroquois was the split amongst the tribes, 4 sided with the British, 2 with the Americans (I am of Oneida descent, one of the 2 siding with the Americans)

I think it is rather insulting that the OP thinks Barbarian is insulting to some groups but not others. It should either insulting to none or to all (as I posted earlier, I think it is insulting to none)


KahnyaGnorc wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
The Iroquois won pretty much every actual encounter they had, if I recall. And even with being consistently decimated by disease they still managed to hold out until after the American Revolution, it was only then that the longhouses got cleaned out entirely.
What brought down the Iroquois was the split amongst the tribes, 4 sided with the British, 2 with the Americans (I am of Oneida descent, one of the 2 siding with the Americans)

How long did it take the US to turn around and backstab the Oneida big time?

Quote:
I think it is rather insulting that the OP thinks Barbarian is insulting to some groups but not others. It should either insulting to none or to all (as I posted earlier, I think it is insulting to none)

That assumes that language becomes offensive due to etymology rather than do to history, which isn't quite so. A good example is that I probably could get away with calling an orc tribe or a group of tribal Celtic warriors savages. Orcs are, well, orcs, and the events with the Celts are so far back that such a term doesn't hold much weight. If I call any group based heavily off of Native Americans savages? Now it's insulting, because that's a reflection of centuries of mistreatment and bigotry. It's been relatively recently used to justify horrible acts that devastated civilizations that are very often still living in abject poverty. That carries much more weight than talking about Celtic tribes two millenia gone and nonexistant orcs. Barbarian feels too similar savage to me. Maybe I'm oversensitive because my ancestors took an active part in the ethnic cleansing, but it doesn't sit right with me.


Secret Wizard wrote:
Click the damned link I put here OP

I already addressed that point.

1 to 50 of 52 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Homebrew and House Rules / Need to rename Barbarian All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.