Some Barbarian Totems need an overhaul in design


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I've read through some of the example totems we've gotten in the Playtest book, and I'm honestly disappointed with several of them. There are a couple that work as I think they're intended, but there are others that are very difficult to process in-game, and I'll list them off now.

Animal Totem - This seems like a nice totem, a Barbarian who specializes in "natural weapons". The problem here is that the Natural Weapons don't apply at any point unless you are raging. This is a non-sensible concept, when we already have a totem that gives you benefits outside of raging, meaning something like this shouldn't even exist for the sake of ease of play. Players being told they can't use their main schtick because they don't rage is just a big slap to the face of the player.

There should be some other conditional benefits to it while raging (such as getting an added minor feature of your chosen animal), but not having access to your main attraction outside of combat is not a fair compromise, especially when other Totems with similar concepts don't have this issue, as well as since, as written, Animal Totem might instead require you to be a complete pacifist (remember, using natural weapons is still using weapons, which the Anathema technically doesn't allow, so even using your natural weapons means you fall, per RAW, when there isn't even a written distinction between weapon types that I'm aware of). So, congratulations, all Animal Totem Barbarians both have crappy, overly situational natural weapons, and are also mandated to be pacifists or lose access to their natural weapons. It's the "Teach Druidic to a non-Druid" debacle all over again.

Dragon Totem - This doesn't seem bad on paper, but there are things about this I don't like. For starters, the Raging benefit doesn't really give anything worthwhile in terms of damage scaling, compared to the Giant Totem, which gives you multiplicative scaling on your damage. Sure, the ability to transform the energy type is nice, and the factor that it's optional helps, but this can be an option that can nerf the Barbarian's damage if they aren't aware of what sort of enemy they face, and they can't disable it prematurely or change it due to basic Rage rules, meaning if you screw up, you screw up bad.

In addition, some of the class feats you get for them are lackluster. For example, the Dragon Breath being only once per hour is fairly weak, even though the damage and "spell level" scaling is good. I'd even go so far as to say making it once per rage if you cut the damage scaling in half, so that it can be applied multiple times in battle, or across consecutive battles. I mean, it is two actions, and with Mighty Rage, it's a fairly powerful option. The wings are nice, but since they only last for 3 rounds (because they only work while raging), you can't reliably fight enemies in mid-air like you could in PF1 for fear of taking a heaping of falling damage afterward. Maybe if they had a separate duration that applied when you rage (and doesn't reapply until the effect ends), I'd be okay with it, but as it stands it doesn't last long enough to be a fair enough compromise.

Superstition Totem - Oh boy. I want to bring this to attention because of how extremely crippling this is for how little pay-off you get in exchange. This anathema is even worse than almost anything a Paladin ever had before, due to one simple fact: Magic is abundant and everywhere in Pathfinder, used by everyone and everything. From levels 0 to 20 (yes, there are "level 0" creatures), Magic exists and is used/favored by all kinds of creatures. No single group from PF1 can complete an adventure without Magic of some form in their repertoire. You can't escape it, and it's so hardbaked into the game that there's no avoiding it whatsoever, even in PF2. So creating an anathema that says "You can't use or adventure with people who use spells on you" is basically saying "You might as well play this game by yourself, since everyone else uses Magic except you."

Getting a minor boost to Saving Throws versus Spells, and access to some of the most powerful class feats (even though they don't really take off until 12th level, when Spell Sunder comes into play), is not worth it when you're most likely going to have to abandon this character by 3rd level or so due to his anathema requiring you to not adventure with people who cast spells on you.

Sure, the anathema only disables your powers for 24 hours, but let's be realistic here; you might as well just not have a Totem if you pick Superstition, due to how abundant and required Magic is in Pathfinder, and if we're going that route, why didn't I just pick the Fury totem, which is basically the same exact base Barbarian features, except better? The idea that you must forcefully make saving throws on every ally's spells (even from spell-completion items like scrolls and wands) is anathema enough, and can be simulated in any number of ways (such as your body being extremely tolerant of spells of all kinds, or the spirits of your totem shielding you from sorcery).

That's not even taking into consideration why it is those items aren't acceptable, whereas potions (which are no longer spells-in-a-can, thankfully) and other magic items, like flaming swords, invisible armor, and other doodads, are okay. Those are all magical too, so why would they get a pass? Because they aren't spells? They still use magic, which originates from spells, in their construction, so they are still technically comprised of spells.

I'd honestly consider taking the Superstition anathema and instead effectively give the Barbarian the "ABP system" from PFU, so that they can still be functional without having to be so dependent on magic all the time, and they have a clear identity of "I have magic" without it being so broken that they can't function as adventurers.

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If you compare these to the other totems we have access to (Giant, Fury, Spirit), the Fury Totem is awesome, since it's freeform and basically gives a (slight) augmentation to your existing features, Giant gives useful and consistent benefits, and Spirit is functional with some really cool flavor benefits. The ones above just seem like a major mess that don't make for fun Barbarian gameplay.


I was wondering about the no using weapons thing in the Animal Totem as well. I suspect it's about other weapons, but then you are still useless unless you rage. Maybe it could be something like no piercing weapons, or no bladed/metal weapons. That way could still you clubs, staff, that kind of thing.
And what about unarmed strike? I would assume that would still do lethal damage, or is Playtest saying nonlethal unless a monk?


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I mostly agree with this. Animal Totem's anathema is strangely restricting. I would be okay with it if the Barbarian became Trained in unarmed/natural weapons as well. Otherwise they are fairly useless unless they're raging.

I think the "natural weapons are weapons" argument is a bit overly pedantic, but I haven't gotten to the weapon rules yet, and will need to review the exact wording of how natural weapons are classified.

The Superstition totem is such a specific and restrictive concept that I'm surprised to see it as a main option for a base class in the core rulebook. I think it would serve much better as an archetype.

I am okay with the other totems.


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I do think you are overstating the problems with the totems, though I did notice a couple of things that stood out as very restrictive.
On animal totems, I agree they probably should say 'manufactured weapons' for clarity, but that is very much a nitpick. The bigger problem is that it prevents them from EVER making ranged attacks, which can lead to all sorts of situations where your PC is just sitting on their hands during a combat encounter. If it just prevented them from using them whilst raging that'd be one thing, but a blanket ban seems to restrictive for me. It's also a shame that Shoanti, who seem a logical choice for Animal, can't use their signature weapons with it. That is a minor concern over all though. Honestly, I'm not even sure what purpose that Anathema serves, seeing as using a weapon over the Natural you get means you are essentially ignoring your Totem's signature benefit.
The dragon Anathema also seems a little harsh, as flavour said you might be inspired by watching a dragon destroy your home but then you have to obey that type of dragon; I can see the psychological reasoning for this, but it basically makes chromatic dragons a non-option for PCs. If the Anathema was "Do not defy a dragon of your type if you share an alignment on the good/evil axis, or you must try and slay any dragon of your type (where you have any reasonable chance of success) if opposed on the good/evil axis" That facilitates awesome vengeance seeking dragon slayer backstories/character builds.
On Giant, so far my favourite Totem (and the only one that lets my Half-orc use an orcish weapon out the gate, but that's another point to be made elsewhere), but am I correct in thinking that the sluggish penalty from Giant Stature stacks with the oversized weapon I'm obviously using? Because if so that kind of sucks. I mean, I'm already unsure why 'has big axe=easier to hit', but understand there are balancing reasons, but -3 AC on top of other penalties seems steep to use my Totem's shiniest power.

Edit: Oh yeah, Barbarians should definitely get Unarmed proficiency, especially if they have Animal Totem.


The Great Spirits whispered Animal Totem lacks Bird totem...
though I can understand that it is difficult to handle fly speed.


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Yamazakana wrote:

The Great Spirits whispered Animal Totem lacks Bird totem...

though I can understand that it is difficult to handle fly speed.

Dragon has one, so bird should be possible.


Superstition is still fairly strong, considering how nerfed a lot of buff spells are. I mean, you can only haste one person now. +2 Conditional to saves against magic is just nutty.

It's also important that it says on you, and not on your belongings. So, as far as I can tell, Magic Weapon and similar spells that buff your equipment should still work fine.


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Animal Totem: essentially takes away any proficiency when attacking outside of rage. this is the of trade-off I could see making on my first character because it sounds cool and later realizing sucks since I can only rage for about 18 seconds.

Dragon Totem: ....I'm gonna need some explanation on how exactly they're envisioning a character who gained the dragon totem after watching their village get burned down by a dragon is gonna respond to a very similar looking dragon - perhaps even the same one - telling them to do something....and said character actually obeying. Like I can imagine a few different reasons, but there's nothing i've seen in the book to convince me. if anything, i'd envision a lot of characters that end up multi-classing into fighter because they encountered said dragon and refuse to obey them. (also, for organized play, will that mean that I can't be connected to chromatic dragons? or that if i slaughter my entire party on one's order I still don't have my alignment changed to evil and get to continue playing said character? or something else?)

Fury Totem: not bad, not something I really see myself playing since it doesn't give much for roleplaying, but I can think of a few different concepts that it'd work quite nicely for. don't particularly like the implications that rage is entirely out of other barbarian's hands, it kinda implies that they can't even choose not to rage...actually that would make for a very interesting outlook of a barbarian with fury totem now that i think about. overall, pretty good, but language could be better

Giant Totem: how many penalties do I get because of my oversized weapon? cause I can see GMs going two different directions on that. please make it clear in the CRB, you're gonna have to clear it up in errata or society info anyways.

Spirit Totem: this feels a little more OP than the other totems, that may just be that somehow my barbarians always end up having to deal with undead though. this and fury are gonna be the most popular for organized play next year though.

Superstition Totem: as someone who fell in love with barbarians because of AD&D, i'm loving this. i'm gonna end up having like 5. I disagree with you on what some of it's problems are though.

The anathema says that continuing to adventure with someone who refuses to stop casting spells on you isn't allowed, not that you can't adventure with spell-users. Playing these characters is rather simple (assuming you don't have a s!+!ty group to play with). Someone goes to heal you or whatever, and you freak out. cue conversation about how 'look, you get that the wizard is weak af and can't hit monsters very well so needs to use magic, but for the love of all the gods don't use it on you.' it's really not that hard to not cast spells on somebody so this shouldn't really be an issue.

it's more liable to be an issue in society though, since if someone decides to be a jerk and refuse to stop having a character use magic on your character then those characters can't be at a table anymore. which would make for some interesting situations where you have two players show up to a game, with only one character each, having to be at the same table, and aren't actually allowed to play said characters together. it'll be interesting to see how paizo resolves this.

the ability to use potions without committing anathema is decidedly weird though. what exactly is the difference between potions and spells and how would a barbarian with the superstition totem think of potions such that they're okay consuming liquid magic even though spells are still the bane of their existence?

the consistent +2 bonus against spells does feel a bit underpowered though. now i know normally the save against anything magic would be a will save, but given that they don't say it gets added to will saves i think it's a safe bet that there's some saves to be made against magic that aren't will saves. and adding 2 to a save at even just 5th level doesn't seem like it'll make much of a difference on average and there doesn't really seem to be anything that raises that bonus available specifically to barbarians.

Grand Lodge

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epicmusic42 wrote:
it's more liable to be an issue in society though, since if someone decides to be a jerk and refuse to stop having a character use magic on your character then those characters can't be at a table anymore. which would make for some interesting situations where you have two players show up to a game, with only one character each, having to be at the same table, and aren't actually allowed to play said characters together. it'll be interesting to see how paizo resolves this.

Not really, someone who refuses to honor the tenents of "Explore, Report, Cooperate" or who uses his character to harass and attempt to disable another player's character by trying to force them to violate anathemas, will (or at least should) be asked to leave the table, and therefore will not be a problem.

Grand Lodge

epicmusic42 wrote:
the ability to use potions without committing anathema is decidedly weird though. what exactly is the difference between potions and spells and how would a barbarian with the superstition totem think of potions such that they're okay consuming liquid magic even though spells are still the bane of their existence?

As far as I can tell, most (if not all) potions are now alchemical, and not magical. (Admittedly a subtle distinction, the point is that they are no longer just bottled spells, but rather magically imbued alchemical concoctions.)


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The real problem with Superstition Totem is that its benefits are embarrassingly bad. Like, that's weaker than the Superstition rage power was. If I'm going to give up all beneficial magic forever for my entire career then I better be g#!$@%n immune to being controlled by evil wizards. And Spell Sunder being moved six levels back is just a slap in the face.

Grand Lodge

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Huh?

pf1 wrote:


"The barbarian gains a +2 morale bonus on saving throws made to resist spells, supernatural abilities, and spell-like abilities. This bonus increases by +1 for every 4 levels the barbarian has attained.
pf2 wrote:


While raging, you gain a +2 conditional bonus to all saves
against magic.

Raging Resistance
Choose two associated magical traditions: arcane and
occult, arcane and primal, divine and occult, or divine and
primal. The resistance from your raging resistance class
feature applies against all damage you take from spells
of these two traditions of magic, regardless of the type of
damage dealt by the spell.

You lose the scaling save, but your saves scale faster anyway. And in exchange, you gain resistance against half the direct damage spells.

Yess, spell sunder got moved back 6, but you get an AoO option to disrupt spells, which most classes don't get, and pretty much *everybody's* powers got moved back. (PF1 haste is now a 7th level spell, for example.)


Witch of Miracles wrote:

Superstition is still fairly strong, considering how nerfed a lot of buff spells are. I mean, you can only haste one person now. +2 Conditional to saves against magic is just nutty.

It's also important that it says on you, and not on your belongings. So, as far as I can tell, Magic Weapon and similar spells that buff your equipment should still work fine.

Not really. You cannot benefit from spells of any kind, and cannot use numerous powerful magic items. Magical equipment would likewise be forbidden because spells are what power them, which you are opposed against. It makes no sense for a person to not want magic applied to themselves, but anything else they touch? "Sure, go for it, won't affect me in the slightest, even though I'm totally using this sword to kill people, it's okay if you make it burst with fire!" But if you give them a Flaming Shield? "NO, FIRE BAD, GO AWAY CRAZY PERSON, YOU AREN'T REAL!"

On top of that, if you know players are going to want (or need) to buff you, your character has to be retired or never have Totem benefits again. At that point, you're best of retraining to Fury or another Totem that's just outright better for your party, which is extremely bad design.

Grand Lodge

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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


Not really. You cannot benefit from spells of any kind, and cannot use numerous powerful magic items. Magical equipment would likewise be forbidden because spells are what power them, which you are opposed against.

Except that it specifically says they can use magical equipment.

It is like someone who rails against genetic modification of food, while drinking lemonade, the juice of a fruit that was created through selective breeding. They are close to identical processes, but only one provokes a visceral reaction.

And you can still be buffed through alchemical potions. Not to mention that as a barbarian, you are self buffing.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
It makes no sense for a person to not want magic applied to themselves, but anything else they touch?

What is hard to understand? It's personal autonomy. A spell on the sword is still under control of the barbarian in a way a spell on themselves is not.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My problem with animal totem is that the way I read their anathema they can’t use bows.

How rare they supposed to deal with flying opponents?

In my mind, that alone made it a totem I would never take.


My 2c: anathemas are stinking trash and pretty disrespectful to uncivilised peoples.


Giant Totem is bad and definitely not one of the better ones. I got to play it last night and it the negatives from the totem outway the benefits. You can check out my post here: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2vb8u?Giant-Totem-Barbarian#3 and my review about it. The benefit also only applies during rage for the large weapon which I forgot to add to my review.

Shadow Lodge

BretI wrote:

My problem with animal totem is that the way I read their anathema they can’t use bows.

How rare they supposed to deal with flying opponents?

In my mind, that alone made it a totem I would never take.

Also (someone will have to double check me) they are trained in unarmed but don't get the monk-like ability to deal lethal with their unarmed strikes. So, if they're not raging, they can only do non-lethal damage, correct?


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Secret Wizard wrote:
My 2c: anathemas are stinking trash and pretty disrespectful to uncivilised peoples.

One of the reasons I think the spirit totem is going to be popular is that its anathema is basically something good aligned characters do by default (don't desecrate corpses, and destroy the undead, essentially).

Dark Archive

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One thing to note related to the Giant Totem Barbarian, its size boosts, and things like fatigue...

Penalties no longer "stack" as commonly as they used to. As stated on page 9 "If you have more than one bonus or penalty of the same type, you use only the highest bonus or penalty." So the sluggish trait gives you a -1 conditional modifier to your AC. being fatigued once the rage ends is also a conditional modifier... so until you take an action, the only change that occurs is your speed is reduced by 5.

It should also be noted, that the sluggish trait only applies when 'wielding' a weapon... if you are walking around with a two-hander, but only carrying it in one hand, you aren't wielding it yet, and thus not sluggish. This allows one to do certain Dex based skills, or reflex saves if anticipating a trap, without the sluggish negative.

Next up, at 6th level, when you (likely) pick up the Giant's Stature feat. Becoming Large applies the Sluggish 1 trait... however if you are already wielding your chosen large weapon, literally nothing changes as the two effects don't stack in any way. Instead you simply gain 5 feet of reach. The above statement applies to the Titan's Stature feat as well, except now you gain 10 feet of reach.

In short, the large weapon does incur some negatives for the damage, however it is not as bad as it would be if the negatives stacked.

Paizo Employee Designer

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I really like the idea of explicitly hunting your totem dragon if it opposes your alignment. Also, while I still like having the big flashy 1 hour breath attack, having an option to breathe again within the hour for a lesser effect seems like the best of both worlds!

As others have said, superstition can completely use magic items except a small few that cast a spell like wands. The only thing you're missing is buff spells and (and this can be a biggie depending on party composition) healing spells. We had two of these in my alpha groups; one was in a level 9 group with two buff-focused bards and a healing cleric for one session, and that group dynamic was not the greatest (it didn't help that they only fought bruiser monsters that day as well, so no enemy casters). The other was played by someone who was skeptical of the tradeoffs, particularly with how good buffs could be at level 14. That barbarian was showstoppingly incredible, to the point where the player was loving it and the GM was getting frustrated with how effortlessly the barbarian was kicking butt (+2 on all saves meant he basically couldn't critically fail except on a 20, he could screw up spellcasters with his reaction, and spell sunder counting as a max-heightened dispel magic meant he wreaked havoc, dispelling multiple magical traps and knocking down a wall of force instantly). It seems to vary depending on the group and the adventure.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Kitsune Kune wrote:

One thing to note related to the Giant Totem Barbarian, its size boosts, and things like fatigue...

Penalties no longer "stack" as commonly as they used to. As stated on page 9 "If you have more than one bonus or penalty of the same type, you use only the highest bonus or penalty." So the sluggish trait gives you a -1 conditional modifier to your AC. being fatigued once the rage ends is also a conditional modifier... so until you take an action, the only change that occurs is your speed is reduced by 5.

It should also be noted, that the sluggish trait only applies when 'wielding' a weapon... if you are walking around with a two-hander, but only carrying it in one hand, you aren't wielding it yet, and thus not sluggish. This allows one to do certain Dex based skills, or reflex saves if anticipating a trap, without the sluggish negative.

Next up, at 6th level, when you (likely) pick up the Giant's Stature feat. Becoming Large applies the Sluggish 1 trait... however if you are already wielding your chosen large weapon, literally nothing changes as the two effects don't stack in any way. Instead you simply gain 5 feet of reach. The above statement applies to the Titan's Stature feat as well, except now you gain 10 feet of reach.

In short, the large weapon does incur some negatives for the damage, however it is not as bad as it would be if the negatives stacked.

I was wondering who would discover that synergy first. You get the prize! (if someone found it on another thread earlier, feel free to correct me) I still really want to make a reach weapon giant totem barbarian with fighter dedication, AoO, and a Large reach weapon, going to Large for a big old area of threat.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think both of the major transformation abilities (animal totem, dragon totem) need to last during the round of fatigue, so that the barbarian can re-up them and at least stay transformed during combat. Otherwise as mentioned the risk of falling is too great... and the barbarian who turns into a boar for 18 seconds at a time in 24 second intervals is just silly.

I definitely think that nerfing the damage on the breath weapon is not the way to go. Martials already "can't have nice things", on average, in terms of big spiky spell damage. Letting the barbarian have a breath weapon that feels like a level-equivalent damage spell is important to not making it feel lame. I love Mark's idea of letting it be recast at a lower damage while recharging.

Animal totem absolutely needs an option for fighting while not raging, and an option for ranged attacks. Taking the barbarian out of the fight is not fun.

And superstitious, in my opinion, would be fine if it had an exception for healing magic. Otherwise it seems like the barbarian is a huge liability to their party. The last thing a party wants is to need to stop and rest because the barbarian got the crap kicked out of them and despite the cleric being fully loaded, refuses to accept healing spells.

The Concordance

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Mark Seifter wrote:
I was wondering who would discover that synergy first. You get the prize! (if someone found it on another thread earlier, feel free to correct me) I still really want to make a reach weapon giant totem barbarian with fighter dedication, AoO, and a Large reach weapon, going to Large for a big old area of threat.

I actually had made a plan to do exactly that.. .with a halfling barbarian and Glaive... Because the fluff idea is hilarious to me. (I made the character last Friday when i noticed the medium or smaller going to Large thing.)

Paizo Employee Designer

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Yako Zenko wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
I was wondering who would discover that synergy first. You get the prize! (if someone found it on another thread earlier, feel free to correct me) I still really want to make a reach weapon giant totem barbarian with fighter dedication, AoO, and a Large reach weapon, going to Large for a big old area of threat.
I actually had made a plan to do exactly that.. .with a halfling barbarian and Glaive... Because the fluff idea is hilarious to me. (I made the character last Friday when i noticed the medium or smaller going to Large thing.)

A lance might be fun too for sudden charging around the fight, or a halberd. Really any reach weapon I want to try out!

Dark Archive

Mark Seifter wrote:
Yako Zenko wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
I was wondering who would discover that synergy first. You get the prize! (if someone found it on another thread earlier, feel free to correct me) I still really want to make a reach weapon giant totem barbarian with fighter dedication, AoO, and a Large reach weapon, going to Large for a big old area of threat.
I actually had made a plan to do exactly that.. .with a halfling barbarian and Glaive... Because the fluff idea is hilarious to me. (I made the character last Friday when i noticed the medium or smaller going to Large thing.)
A lance might be fun too for sudden charging around the fight, or a halberd. Really any reach weapon I want to try out!

I went glaive for the forceful, deadly, reach and great/cleave potential fun times. Especially once the +1 2 or 3 shows up

Paizo Employee Designer

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Kitsune Kune wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Yako Zenko wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
I was wondering who would discover that synergy first. You get the prize! (if someone found it on another thread earlier, feel free to correct me) I still really want to make a reach weapon giant totem barbarian with fighter dedication, AoO, and a Large reach weapon, going to Large for a big old area of threat.
I actually had made a plan to do exactly that.. .with a halfling barbarian and Glaive... Because the fluff idea is hilarious to me. (I made the character last Friday when i noticed the medium or smaller going to Large thing.)
A lance might be fun too for sudden charging around the fight, or a halberd. Really any reach weapon I want to try out!
I went glaive for the forceful, deadly, reach and great/cleave potential fun times. Especially once the +1 2 or 3 shows up

Yeah, there's really no better option for mowing down several foes. Greataxe is really nice too, especially the critical effect, but the reach is important to me.

Grand Lodge

Mark Seifter wrote:
Kitsune Kune wrote:


In short, the large weapon does incur some negatives for the damage, however it is not as bad as it would be if the negatives stacked.
I was wondering who would discover that synergy first. You get the prize! (if someone found it on another thread earlier, feel free to correct me) I still really want to make a reach weapon giant totem barbarian with fighter dedication, AoO, and a Large reach weapon, going to Large for a big old area of threat.

I posted that a while back, along with the idea on 20 foot whirlwind attack. Not sure AoO would benefit as much as one would want it to, without a good way to get multiple AoOs.

It might be fun to take a rogue dedication, and gangup, to get sneak attack on anyone within 20 feet who is threatened by one of your allies.


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On the topic of the Dragon form doesn't something like 2d10 (Bludgeon) +6 seem incredibly weak at level 16, especially when you could be wielding at +3/4 weapon at this point which would be like 4/5d12+4/5 for a two handed weapon?

I feel like this is a pretty big oversight, you should feel a lot stronger when you turn into a dragon, not significantly weaker.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Kitsune Kune wrote:

One thing to note related to the Giant Totem Barbarian, its size boosts, and things like fatigue...

Penalties no longer "stack" as commonly as they used to. As stated on page 9 "If you have more than one bonus or penalty of the same type, you use only the highest bonus or penalty." So the sluggish trait gives you a -1 conditional modifier to your AC. being fatigued once the rage ends is also a conditional modifier... so until you take an action, the only change that occurs is your speed is reduced by 5.

It should also be noted, that the sluggish trait only applies when 'wielding' a weapon... if you are walking around with a two-hander, but only carrying it in one hand, you aren't wielding it yet, and thus not sluggish. This allows one to do certain Dex based skills, or reflex saves if anticipating a trap, without the sluggish negative.

Next up, at 6th level, when you (likely) pick up the Giant's Stature feat. Becoming Large applies the Sluggish 1 trait... however if you are already wielding your chosen large weapon, literally nothing changes as the two effects don't stack in any way. Instead you simply gain 5 feet of reach. The above statement applies to the Titan's Stature feat as well, except now you gain 10 feet of reach.

In short, the large weapon does incur some negatives for the damage, however it is not as bad as it would be if the negatives stacked.

I was wondering who would discover that synergy first. You get the prize! (if someone found it on another thread earlier, feel free to correct me) I still really want to make a reach weapon giant totem barbarian with fighter dedication, AoO, and a Large reach weapon, going to Large for a big old area of threat.

My issue with stuff like that is it isn't new player friendly. I suppose it was done to prevent some shenanigans of players getting enlarged and not using their giant weapon?


I still need someone to explain why it's a good thing to add anathemas to a class based on being untamed and unfettered, if not to portray uncivilised societies as vestigial.


Can you use Mighty Rage to get a free Dragon Totem Breath when you Rage? Mighty Rage says to use an action with the rage trait. DTB has the rage trait but is 2 actions. Do you still get to use it or does Mighty Rage only discount it to 1 action?

Grand Lodge

Pramxnim wrote:
Can you use Mighty Rage to get a free Dragon Totem Breath when you Rage? Mighty Rage says to use an action with the rage trait. DTB has the rage trait but is 2 actions. Do you still get to use it or does Mighty Rage only discount it to 1 action?

No. DTB is an activity, not an action. (An activity is defined as anything made up of two or more actions.)


Lavieh wrote:

On the topic of the Dragon form doesn't something like 2d10 (Bludgeon) +6 seem incredibly weak at level 16, especially when you could be wielding at +3/4 weapon at this point which would be like 4/5d12+4/5 for a two handed weapon?

I feel like this is a pretty big oversight, you should feel a lot stronger when you turn into a dragon, not significantly weaker.

Yeah it seems like Elemental Form and Dragon Form do far too little damage for their level. The earlier ones at least scale with Heighten to double dice by this point, but once you switch from Animal Form or Insect Form to Elemental Form or Dragon Form you go from 4 dice down to 2 dice.

Unless there is a spell or item that adds dice to their attacks.

Shadow Lodge

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Secret Wizard wrote:
I still need someone to explain why it's a good thing to add anathemas to a class based on being untamed and unfettered, if not to portray uncivilised societies as vestigial.

It's not. The only one it would even remotely fit is Superstious Totem, because that's the only one that was already established. BARBARIAN'S who take that rage power were supposed to not like magic,

Even animals can use tools after all.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I've found a few issues with the Animal Totem too.

For one, the Animal Rage feat is a little confusingly worded. It looks like it's an action that can be used while raging, (not unlike the Giant's Stature feat), but the "When you Rage" line seems to suggest it's supposed to be a free action or reaction with a trigger (or perhaps it was such at some point and has since been changed without the description being updated).

Secondly, giving additional abilities to the natural attack and Animal Rage form the animal totem grants would help make it a more meaningful choice. As is, there's no reason to touch the Bull or Bear outside of flavor, since everything they do can be done better by the Cat. This is particularly egregious with the Bear totem, as the Cat has the same attacks but their claws are stronger, and their Animal Rage form speed is a whole 15 feet faster.


Mark Seifter wrote:

I really like the idea of explicitly hunting your totem dragon if it opposes your alignment. Also, while I still like having the big flashy 1 hour breath attack, having an option to breathe again within the hour for a lesser effect seems like the best of both worlds!

As others have said, superstition can completely use magic items except a small few that cast a spell like wands. The only thing you're missing is buff spells and (and this can be a biggie depending on party composition) healing spells. We had two of these in my alpha groups; one was in a level 9 group with two buff-focused bards and a healing cleric for one session, and that group dynamic was not the greatest (it didn't help that they only fought bruiser monsters that day as well, so no enemy casters). The other was played by someone who was skeptical of the tradeoffs, particularly with how good buffs could be at level 14. That barbarian was showstoppingly incredible, to the point where the player was loving it and the GM was getting frustrated with how effortlessly the barbarian was kicking butt (+2 on all saves meant he basically couldn't critically fail except on a 20, he could screw up spellcasters with his reaction, and spell sunder counting as a max-heightened dispel magic meant he wreaked havoc, dispelling multiple magical traps and knocking down a wall of force instantly). It seems to vary depending on the group and the adventure.

Mark, how exactly is the Superstition Barbarian supposed to stay healthy? Your standard level 1 Barbarian can, at most, be healed 1d10(Medicine)+1d6(Minor Elixir of Life). Ignoring the fact that the DC for the Battle Medic is as likely to kill you as heal you at first level, this amount of healing doesn't even bring a downed Barbarian up to half health. The inefficiency only gets worse as levels go up.


Hmm maybe it should specify arcane magic. Yeah not allowing heals is not gonna be great.


It wouldn't be a problem if Battle Medic wasn't single use per day (and had a reasonable DC but that's mostly a low level issue). That single, arbitrary restriction is what's making parties without access to positive channel energy completely non-viable.


Yeah actually pushing for battle medic to be more useable is one of my agenda's during the play test.


Witch of Miracles wrote:

Superstition is still fairly strong, considering how nerfed a lot of buff spells are. I mean, you can only haste one person now. +2 Conditional to saves against magic is just nutty.

It's also important that it says on you, and not on your belongings. So, as far as I can tell, Magic Weapon and similar spells that buff your equipment should still work fine.

This seems legit as they can in fact still wear magical armor and use magical weapons. They seem okay with using magic stuff as long as its not casting spells but are NOT OK with things affecting their own body. The question though is how does this work with bards in the group. I am not sure a bard can selectively NOT affect an ally in their range. Most others they could work with and they can use alchemical stuff so healing them would not be that problematic.


When you transform into any form it should let you apply the Potency rune from one of your weapons to your attacks. Or could you, at the very least, use the Might fist wraps to amplify the natural melee attacks in animal and dragon forms?


kaid wrote:
Witch of Miracles wrote:

Superstition is still fairly strong, considering how nerfed a lot of buff spells are. I mean, you can only haste one person now. +2 Conditional to saves against magic is just nutty.

It's also important that it says on you, and not on your belongings. So, as far as I can tell, Magic Weapon and similar spells that buff your equipment should still work fine.

This seems legit as they can in fact still wear magical armor and use magical weapons. They seem okay with using magic stuff as long as its not casting spells but are NOT OK with things affecting their own body. The question though is how does this work with bards in the group. I am not sure a bard can selectively NOT affect an ally in their range. Most others they could work with and they can use alchemical stuff so healing them would not be that problematic.

In PF1 Bards worked with Superstitious Barbarians just fine because Bardic Performance wasn't a spell. One of the many reasons why the PF2 version is just worse.

Paizo Employee Designer

Arachnofiend wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

I really like the idea of explicitly hunting your totem dragon if it opposes your alignment. Also, while I still like having the big flashy 1 hour breath attack, having an option to breathe again within the hour for a lesser effect seems like the best of both worlds!

As others have said, superstition can completely use magic items except a small few that cast a spell like wands. The only thing you're missing is buff spells and (and this can be a biggie depending on party composition) healing spells. We had two of these in my alpha groups; one was in a level 9 group with two buff-focused bards and a healing cleric for one session, and that group dynamic was not the greatest (it didn't help that they only fought bruiser monsters that day as well, so no enemy casters). The other was played by someone who was skeptical of the tradeoffs, particularly with how good buffs could be at level 14. That barbarian was showstoppingly incredible, to the point where the player was loving it and the GM was getting frustrated with how effortlessly the barbarian was kicking butt (+2 on all saves meant he basically couldn't critically fail except on a 20, he could screw up spellcasters with his reaction, and spell sunder counting as a max-heightened dispel magic meant he wreaked havoc, dispelling multiple magical traps and knocking down a wall of force instantly). It seems to vary depending on the group and the adventure.

Mark, how exactly is the Superstition Barbarian supposed to stay healthy? Your standard level 1 Barbarian can, at most, be healed 1d10(Medicine)+1d6(Minor Elixir of Life). Ignoring the fact that the DC for the Battle Medic is as likely to kill you as heal you at first level, this amount of healing doesn't even bring a downed Barbarian up to half health. The inefficiency only gets worse as levels go up.

It actually gets much better as you level up, not worse (details below), but you have a solid point about 1st level. I'll need to think on that. Might be it needs a little bit of self-healing built into the totem, I'd wager.

For example, we didn't have a level 1 superstitious barbarian in my playtests, but at level 5 in a party with no real casters, you wind up looking at 8 resonance with 12 Charisma and Remarkable Resonance, 10.5 healing per elixir of life (a bit more if spending money for healing potions), 1d10+Wis modifier per other character with Battle Medic (a lot of people had Battle Medic), 1d8+Wis per other character with Natural Medicine (only one on that), leading to a lot more healing possibilities. Our 14th-level superstitious barbarian who got into mischief where he tried to do part of the adventure solo for a while and took a beating for it never came close to running out of healing, and he didn't overtax my alchemist much either (my elixirs were healing even more, items like healer's gloves were around, there were masters in Battle Medic, and he had 13 resonance despite being an 8-Cha dwarf).

Now, that's not to say that any of these is enough healing, not enough healing, too much healing, or just right healing, necessarily, but it did become easier as the level went higher. I still think some self-heal for superstitious is a good way to go on this, though, especially to help out at level 1.


So I haven't had the chance to run or play the game yet (August is hard to schedule games in), but one thing I'm wondering about-

What do Barbarians with the Giant or Animal totem do in their off-rage turns, when their rage combat strategy "turns off" (because their weapon is too big or they no longer have claws)?

I mean, I figure this is a good time to drink a potion, or move around, or make intimidate checks, or something, but I figure "well, I'll draw a different weapon" is not a good idea on these turns.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I guess another difference between Superstition in PF1 vs PF2 is that Channel Energy was Su (and therefore fine) in PF1 , but now it's just the Heal spell via a different resource pool (and on the no-no list). From a game design perspective, I wonder if you could say: cantrips and powers cast from spell points are fine, spells cast from spell slots are not and mostly get the desired behavior. (Allow bardic performance and channeled healing; though of course that would then allow a single target heal, which is undesirable, so there goes that idea).

But yeah, what does the barbarian do if the cleric needs to throw a 3 round channel but can't yet channel selectively?

Scarab Sages

My wife made her animal totem barbarian last night and I didn't have a good answer for what she's supposed to do when she's not raging (every 4th round at least) or if an enemy is flying/across a chasm/whatever.

It seems like not being allowed to use any weapons forces her deer barbarian to resort to headbutts (nonlethally) on off rounds, and run away from flying enemies?


I guess the thing to do is leverage your potentially fearsome athletics modifier to try to grapple, disarm, or trip someone if you don't need to move out of the way or drink a potion or something.


Mark Seifter wrote:

I really like the idea of explicitly hunting your totem dragon if it opposes your alignment. Also, while I still like having the big flashy 1 hour breath attack, having an option to breathe again within the hour for a lesser effect seems like the best of both worlds!

As others have said, superstition can completely use magic items except a small few that cast a spell like wands. The only thing you're missing is buff spells and (and this can be a biggie depending on party composition) healing spells. We had two of these in my alpha groups; one was in a level 9 group with two buff-focused bards and a healing cleric for one session, and that group dynamic was not the greatest (it didn't help that they only fought bruiser monsters that day as well, so no enemy casters). The other was played by someone who was skeptical of the tradeoffs, particularly with how good buffs could be at level 14. That barbarian was showstoppingly incredible, to the point where the player was loving it and the GM was getting frustrated with how effortlessly the barbarian was kicking butt (+2 on all saves meant he basically couldn't critically fail except on a 20, he could screw up spellcasters with his reaction, and spell sunder counting as a max-heightened dispel magic meant he wreaked havoc, dispelling multiple magical traps and knocking down a wall of force instantly). It seems to vary depending on the group and the adventure.

A recurring breath weapon (even if it's reduced after the first) would make for a better Dragon Totem Barbarian. There is still the flight issue though; being able to fly for only 3 rounds at any given time is problematic if an enemy survives for more than 3 rounds, even if you can fly "at will." You're still suffering from whatever fall damage you might incur by sticking it out that 3rd round, or you have to play a game of "joust the flier," which may or may not be ideal tactics considering.

I understand items that recreate spells, but it just doesn't make sense thematically to allow magic of a non-spell nature compared to something that's more artificial, like a spell, when magic is magic is magic.

It also does create a gray area with something like, say, a Cloak of Elvenkind, as previewed in the blog post. Let's say Superstitious Barbarian invests in it, and gets access to use the Ghost Sound cantrip (but doesn't actually use it), while also getting the ability to improve his stealthing ability (which is the real reason for his investment). Because the item gives a cantrip, does that mean he can't invest in it for fear of losing his Totem powers, or is it when he decides to utilize the cantrip that his Totem powers are lost?

Similarly, do abilities that use Spell Points work? I'd be inclined to say not, since they are called Spell Points. So if anyone used an ability that has Spell Points on them, would that be grounds for loss of Totem powers too? There's a lot of gray areas with this that could be cleared up (could just use FAQs, but that's besides the point).

I'm not sure that "couldn't critically fail except on a 1" is a strong selling point to the Barbarian's survivability, when mathematically speaking, the +2 is really only a 10% increase in Save effectiveness, which means that Barbarian, if he wasn't Superstition, could've critically failed on a 3 or less, which means it's a very tough check to begin with.

That, to me, sounds par for the course; most people are going to have a decent saving throw bonus, combined with Master and/or Legendary tier save status at that level (along with Evasion/Fortitude), which will more than easily shore up any sort of weakness that other classes may lack in comparison. On top of that, you have to either threaten friendly spellcasters to not target you with spells (though anything that targets objects you possess is apparently fine), or you can't adventure with spellcasters of any kind (which I doubt the game assumes you go without), either of which are very difficult restrictions for a Barbarian, a frontliner who needs lots of healing and buffing capability to survive a given combat.

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