Animal Instinct Barbarian vs. Flying Enemies


Advice

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I love animal instinct barbarians from a flavor standpoint, but I'm worried about how my bull-instinct barbarian will work against flying creatures. It seems likely within a certain level band that enemies may be able to fly before PCs can. In that case, what is an animal-instinct barbarian supposed to do? Once he's raging, he's no longer allowed to use weapons, but doesn't have any sort of inherent ranged attack. The short answer is 'don't rage when fighting flying critters', but (a)you don't always know they will fly before they do, and (b)You're not left with much if rage is taken away.

TL;DR What should an Animal Instinct Barbarian do vs. flying creatures?


Most low level flying enemies will melee attack, so you can ready actions to hit them when they swoop by. But if they are flying and have ranged options, your only response is to either get flight yourself through a spell or use ranged attacks, even if you're bad at it.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

But it's not just a matter of being bad at it, you can't. It's anathema for an animal instinct barbarian to use weapons other than their natural attacks while raging. If they're flying before you rage, fine, don't rage and throw a javelin or whatever. If they start flying after you rage, it seems like there's nothing you can do.

Scarab Sages

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You'll want to take Raging Athlete (Lvl 4) > Sudden Leap (Lvl 8) if you're worried about flyers.

You could just take Sudden Leap, but you might need the extra distance from Raging Athlete to actually reach the flying creatures.

Liberty's Edge

Dennis Muldoon wrote:
But it's not just a matter of being bad at it, you can't. It's anathema for an animal instinct barbarian to use weapons other than their natural attacks while raging. If they're flying before you rage, fine, don't rage and throw a javelin or whatever. If they start flying after you rage, it seems like there's nothing you can do.

You can break an anathema if you like. It sucks, but it's not character destroying, particularly for a Barbarian (who recover all lost abilities after a single day off).

Also, at early levels (when this is an issue), the vast majority of flying enemies have wings or other indicators they can fly, so it's not like you couldn't just choose not to Rage. Very rarely will things that don't look like they can fly suddenly levitate or fly off before you can have access to flight options of your own.

Sovereign Court

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Dennis Muldoon wrote:
But it's not just a matter of being bad at it, you can't. It's anathema for an animal instinct barbarian to use weapons other than their natural attacks while raging. If they're flying before you rage, fine, don't rage and throw a javelin or whatever. If they start flying after you rage, it seems like there's nothing you can do.

The ban on using weapons is only while you are raging. Just don't rage and attack normally using a ranged weapon.


Maybe a good excuse for the Barbarian to invest in some knowledge skills to know whether the thing will fly away before raging. :)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Samurai wrote:
Dennis Muldoon wrote:
But it's not just a matter of being bad at it, you can't. It's anathema for an animal instinct barbarian to use weapons other than their natural attacks while raging. If they're flying before you rage, fine, don't rage and throw a javelin or whatever. If they start flying after you rage, it seems like there's nothing you can do.
The ban on using weapons is only while you are raging. Just don't rage and attack normally using a ranged weapon.

I specifically addressed that in my post...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

As I said in my original post, 'don't rage' is usually the answer. It just seems weird to me that there might be times when a front-line martial class character might have to not only not use their primary class ability, but also break it for the rest of the day if they want to participate in a combat.


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Dennis Muldoon wrote:


I specifically addressed that in my post...

And the answer remains the same. If an enemy starts flying after combat starts, you have to either find a new enemy, find a way to fly (or leap) up after them, or switch to a ranged weapon.

Liberty's Edge

Dennis Muldoon wrote:
As I said in my original post, 'don't rage' is usually the answer. It just seems weird to me that there might be times when a front-line martial class character might have to not only not use their primary class ability, but also break it for the rest of the day if they want to participate in a combat.

Well, Rage is useless at range for everyone, making it a generally bad idea for any Barbarian to Rage in what's gonna be a primarily ranged combat encounter. The penalties for doing so are more severe for Animal Instinct Barbarians, but avoiding the situation is usually not super hard to do.


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So the scenario is:

* Enemy can fly
* Enemy does not have wings or other obvious means of flying
* Enemy has effective ranged attacks and no reason to come into melee
* Party is below level 7 (access to fly spell) or higher level but no access to flight on barbarian. Maybe your caster just didn't prepare fly or already used it, for example
* Barbarian beats enemy in initiative and immediately activates rage
* Enemy survives long enough to get airborne
* Barbarian has no other enemies to attack or things they can do except attack the one enemy

In this very specific scenario, yes, the Barbarian either stands around doing nothing (maybe attempting intimidate or something) or breaks anathema by using ranged attacks and loses rage for the day. If your team has competent ranged attackers I would probably just shout insults at the cowardly levitating enemy, but otherwise just deal with anathema.

I hope by writing it this way you can see that a large set of preconditions and specific sequence of events have to occur for this scenario, making quite unlikely. I think the low level flier with strong ranged attacks and no obvious wings in particular doesn't actually exist, but haven't looked through the Bestiary to confirm.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
BellyBeard wrote:
I think the low level flier with strong ranged attacks and no obvious wings in particular doesn't actually exist, but haven't looked through the Bestiary to confirm.

Perhaps not in the form of a monster, but it's not hard to imagine in the form of an enemy spellcaster. A 5th level party facing a 7th level spellcaster would not be an inappropriately-leveled encounter, and could very well present the very situation you described (in fact, I'm quite sure I've participated in many such encounters against flying spellcasters).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I agree that in most situations, the answer is 'don't rage' (and said as much in my original post and several times since). The character of an encounter can change over the course of the battle, however, and you don't always know that it's going to be a primarily ranged encounter at the start (hence the point of this post). None of the other instincts prevent you from participating in such a battle while raging, and in fact most of them it's a neutral, with little detriment.

Anyway, I was hoping someone might have a creative solution I hadn't thought of to the situation I presented, but it's looking like the answer is pretty much either violate your anathema or don't participate. Bummer.


Sorry my post came across as condescending, that wasn't my intention. I just wanted to list everything in one post to show all the places where the scenario could change and make this a non-issue.

Maybe this is a good reason to change tactics: if you fight a spell caster and know you can't fly at the moment, and the enemy spell caster might be able to, maybe move in and attack but wait a round before raging to see if they take flight. If they don't and they're still close by you are probably good to rage and put the hurt in them, and hopefully your teammates can finish them off. The "correct" thing to do probably changes a lot with initiative, tactical decisions, level, whether the enemy had time to prepare, etc, but sometimes waiting to rage might be beneficial.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Yep, the solution seems to be 'don't rage until you're sure the enemy can't fly'. Honestly, though? That sucks. It takes away so much of what it is to play a barbarian. Imagine two cultists stepping out of the shadows, one with sword drawn, demanding that the PCs hand over the hard-won mcguffin. The barbarian wins initiative. What do they do? They're a barbarian! They shout for blood and rush the nearest cultist (mechanically represented as Rage->Sudden Charge). The cultist in back casts a spell and flies off, spending the rest of the battle picking the party apart with ranged spells while the barbarian sits helpless, unable to participate. The animal instinct barbarian is punished for playing like a barbarian, in a way that no other instinct is. It's particularly frustrating, since the flavor of the animal instinct is so great and so quintessentially barbarian.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

If you take Sudden Jump, Powerful Leap, and Raging Athlete, all available by 4th level, then the list of things that need to be involved to keep you from being able to participate in the fight also includes "nothing around as high as the caster flew." Otherwise, you can just climb up something and jump sidewise off the wall for your attacks, looking pretty damned badass in the process, I might add.


Go frog instinct shoot your tongue out pull the flier in and eat them.


Personally I think more meaningful choices makes for a more interesting and interactive combat, and so if the Barbarian has to choose whether to rage or not that's more interesting than the Barbarian literally always raging with the first action.

Looking at the narrative example you gave, I think the Barbarian closing and landing a solid blow before the retaliation sends them into a bloodlust makes good narrative sense, and is very much in line with what a barbarian is. I also think your given actions would be very in line with what a barbarian is. In this example even if you rage first you still have an enemy in melee to wail on anyways if only one flew away, so you aren't helpless here. You just have your party handle the flier while you rip the other one apart, and everyone wins.


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BellyBeard wrote:
Personally I think more meaningful choices makes for a more interesting and interactive combat, and so if the Barbarian has to choose whether to rage or not that's more interesting than the Barbarian literally always raging with the first action.

I'd agree with you if the Barbarian's combat routine wasn't so thoroughly tied to using Rage.

It's not really a good choice because there's no real gain there. It's not like there's some branching path with meaningful distinctions between raging and non raging Barbarians. You either rage and get your damage bonus and to use your cool tricks... or you don't and you're basically just a generic martial for the rest of the fight.

This is especially true for Animal Instinct, who needs to rage to even turn on their primary weapons, potentially armor too, and risks losing their main class feature for a whole day if they guess wrong and need to grab a weapon.


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Most flying enemies are pretty obvious, they have wings and such. So what I do with my Frog Barbarian is just use my compound shortbow or throw javelins instead of raging. Arrows and javelins don't do quite as much damage, but it's not bad either.

Later on, you can enchant them so you can be even better at ranged combat.


Made one.

Took sudden leap at 8.

Focus on grappling and intimidation.

Ready action grapple.

Be a shield for squishy teammates providing cover.

Intimidate them.

By level 8 you don't really have an issue. Before that you have options even if they are not great.


Dennis Muldoon wrote:

I love animal instinct barbarians from a flavor standpoint, but I'm worried about how my bull-instinct barbarian will work against flying creatures. It seems likely within a certain level band that enemies may be able to fly before PCs can. In that case, what is an animal-instinct barbarian supposed to do? Once he's raging, he's no longer allowed to use weapons, but doesn't have any sort of inherent ranged attack. The short answer is 'don't rage when fighting flying critters', but (a)you don't always know they will fly before they do, and (b)You're not left with much if rage is taken away.

TL;DR What should an Animal Instinct Barbarian do vs. flying creatures?

Jump Good.

As suggested- raging athlete and sudden leap. Add felling strike on top, and you at least bringing the enemy down to the ground for someone else to smack around, rather than just staring blankly into the distance while the blasters and ranger are doing things.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Sure, but as I said upthread, what I'm concerned about here is the early levels where you first start dealing with flying enemies, before you've had a chance to take a level 8 feat (like Sudden Leap).


So I am curious. Could it be read that an enemy out of range could mean there are no enemies available and the Barbarian can fall out of Rage?


Dennis Muldoon wrote:
Sure, but as I said upthread, what I'm concerned about here is the early levels where you first start dealing with flying enemies, before you've had a chance to take a level 8 feat (like Sudden Leap).

As I said. Intimidation.

Readied action grapple

Simply providing cover for the squishier ranged characters

Your looking for this magic bullet to your worry that simply does not exist before level 8.

You either rage and do the suggested things. Or don't rage and use a ranged weapon. Something you said you didn't want to do.


Martialmasters wrote:
Or don't rage and use a ranged weapon. Something you said you didn't want to do.

The problem is less 'don't rage and use a ranged weapon' and more that in the scenario the OP describes means they either stands around doing nothing for 9 rounds or gives up the ability to rage for the rest of the day.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Dennis Muldoon wrote:
Sure, but as I said upthread, what I'm concerned about here is the early levels where you first start dealing with flying enemies, before you've had a chance to take a level 8 feat (like Sudden Leap).

Sudden Jump, Quick Leap, and Raging Athlete are all available by 4th level; on the same character, even.


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Squiggit wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
Or don't rage and use a ranged weapon. Something you said you didn't want to do.
The problem is less 'don't rage and use a ranged weapon' and more that in the scenario the OP describes means they either stands around doing nothing for 9 rounds or gives up the ability to rage for the rest of the day.

One of the conditions of Rage is that there have to be "enemies you can perceive". If you're caught raging with flying bad guys, just run out of the room so you can't see them, then you can drop out of rage and use ranged weapons.


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An animal barbarian can also take Furious Finish for the purpose of ending the rage.
When the enemy flies away after you rage, slam the ground or the party bard (depending on whether the GM allows attacking the ground) and draw your bow.


Squiggit wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
Or don't rage and use a ranged weapon. Something you said you didn't want to do.
The problem is less 'don't rage and use a ranged weapon' and more that in the scenario the OP describes means they either stands around doing nothing for 9 rounds or gives up the ability to rage for the rest of the day.

If he cannot even act as a neat shield for the squishy guys than something is up.

The Exchange

This seems like a scenario where you rely more on teamwork than your direct capabilities. Your casters throwing out a Command, Gust of Wind, or Hideous Laughter will help with knocking a flying enemy prone. And if they're sufficient level to cast Jump on another target then you can scramble into position before they cast it and then jump and ready an action to grapple the enemy to bring them down.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

It feels worth noting that the monster creation rules explicitly say "it is better to wait until around 7th level (when PCs gain access to fly) to give your creature a fly speed if it also has a ranged attack or otherwise has a way to Harry the PCs from a distance indefinitely."

So while this scenario is possible, it doesn't seem especially likely, at least if the GM is following the guidelines.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Shisumo wrote:
Dennis Muldoon wrote:
Sure, but as I said upthread, what I'm concerned about here is the early levels where you first start dealing with flying enemies, before you've had a chance to take a level 8 feat (like Sudden Leap).
Sudden Jump, Quick Leap, and Raging Athlete are all available by 4th level; on the same character, even.

Sudden Leap is an 8th level Barbarian feat.


Dennis Muldoon wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
Dennis Muldoon wrote:
Sure, but as I said upthread, what I'm concerned about here is the early levels where you first start dealing with flying enemies, before you've had a chance to take a level 8 feat (like Sudden Leap).
Sudden Jump, Quick Leap, and Raging Athlete are all available by 4th level; on the same character, even.
Sudden Leap is an 8th level Barbarian feat.

Did you find your answer yet?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:

It feels worth noting that the monster creation rules explicitly say "it is better to wait until around 7th level (when PCs gain access to fly) to give your creature a fly speed if it also has a ranged attack or otherwise has a way to Harry the PCs from a distance indefinitely."

So while this scenario is possible, it doesn't seem especially likely, at least if the GM is following the guidelines.

Fair enough. I'll admit that my worry is mostly based on the types of monsters that years of 1st edition PFS threw at us. If the situation never comes up, even better.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Dennis Muldoon wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
Dennis Muldoon wrote:
Sure, but as I said upthread, what I'm concerned about here is the early levels where you first start dealing with flying enemies, before you've had a chance to take a level 8 feat (like Sudden Leap).
Sudden Jump, Quick Leap, and Raging Athlete are all available by 4th level; on the same character, even.
Sudden Leap is an 8th level Barbarian feat.

You are right. I meant Powerful Leap, not Sudden Leap.

Liberty's Edge

Squiggit wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
Or don't rage and use a ranged weapon. Something you said you didn't want to do.
The problem is less 'don't rage and use a ranged weapon' and more that in the scenario the OP describes means they either stands around doing nothing for 9 rounds or gives up the ability to rage for the rest of the day.

Actually, you don't lose Rage for violating Anathema.

You lose only your Instinct specific abilities. Before 7th level, for an Animal Instinct Barbarian, this amounts to losing your natural attack and basically nothing else (okay, at 6th you may also lose some AC if you took Animal Skin).

So...assuming you actually carry a melee weapon, that's a very minimal amount of penalties any time before the PCs can have access to flight.

Liberty's Edge

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Earthbind is a third level spell on the Arcane and Primal lists. It brings a flier down on any save but a critical success.

A scroll of Earthbind is a level 5 item, and costs 30 gold. It may be worth buying one and entrusting It to your Arcane or Primal spellcasting ally. It looks like it will be fairly uncommon to get hit with a post-rage surprise flier who never makes a melee attack, so one scroll to be used in emergencies should be sufficient at any given time.

If you find you like this strategy, a wand of Earthbind is a level 7 item, costs 360 gp, and has a decent chance of bringing one flier to the ground per adventuring day.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Shisumo wrote:
Dennis Muldoon wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
Dennis Muldoon wrote:
Sure, but as I said upthread, what I'm concerned about here is the early levels where you first start dealing with flying enemies, before you've had a chance to take a level 8 feat (like Sudden Leap).
Sudden Jump, Quick Leap, and Raging Athlete are all available by 4th level; on the same character, even.
Sudden Leap is an 8th level Barbarian feat.
You are right. I meant Powerful Leap, not Sudden Leap.

Sure, but until you can get Sudden Leap you can't strike during the leap, so those others won't do any good. It's a good solution at 8th level, but doesn't help much before that.

Luke Styer wrote:

Earthbind is a third level spell on the Arcane and Primal lists. It brings a flier down on any save but a critical success.

A scroll of Earthbind is a level 5 item, and costs 30 gold. It may be worth buying one and entrusting It to your Arcane or Primal spellcasting ally. It looks like it will be fairly uncommon to get hit with a post-rage surprise flier who never makes a melee attack, so one scroll to be used in emergencies should be sufficient at any given time.

If you find you like this strategy, a wand of Earthbind is a level 7 item, costs 360 gp, and has a decent chance of bringing one flier to the ground per adventuring day.

A scroll of Earthbind is a good suggestion. I play PFS, so I won't necessarily always have a suitable caster in the party, but probably worth carrying one of them anyway.


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My group is going through Age of Ashes right now and there are more flying creatures in that campaign than any other I've ever seen. My Frog Barbarian is doing just fine, kicking ass.

It's just a matter of playing smart. Don't rage right away if you think there's any chance the monsters will fly. Rage only takes one action, so you can rage once you close into melee range and are relatively sure the monsters won't fly away.

If the monsters fly, shoot them with a ranged weapon. I recommend compound bows. At higher levels you have other ways of dealing with them, like Sudden Leap. People act like Barbarians are helpless without rage, and it's just not true.


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HeHateMe wrote:

My group is going through Age of Ashes right now and there are more flying creatures in that campaign than any other I've ever seen. My Frog Barbarian is doing just fine, kicking ass.

It's just a matter of playing smart. Don't rage right away if you think there's any chance the monsters will fly. Rage only takes one action, so you can rage once you close into melee range and are relatively sure the monsters won't fly away.

If the monsters fly, shoot them with a ranged weapon. I recommend compound bows. At higher levels you have other ways of dealing with them, like Sudden Leap. People act like Barbarians are helpless without rage, and it's just not true.

Is my opinion that as long as the enemy is not invisible or glamored. Asking what they look like should not cost an action.

What do they look like? Large four legged creature with wings.

And if your DM makes you make a knowledge check to understand the implications of an enemy with wings then they are being a jerk.


BellyBeard wrote:
Most low level flying enemies will melee attack, so you can ready actions to hit them when they swoop by. But if they are flying and have ranged options, your only response is to either get flight yourself through a spell or use ranged attacks, even if you're bad at it.

Or choose not to fight, lure them somewhere they can't use their advantage, ...


KutuluKultist wrote:
BellyBeard wrote:
Most low level flying enemies will melee attack, so you can ready actions to hit them when they swoop by. But if they are flying and have ranged options, your only response is to either get flight yourself through a spell or use ranged attacks, even if you're bad at it.
Or choose not to fight, lure them somewhere they can't use their advantage, ...

You can get scrolls of Illusory Object or Obscuring Mist to create somewhere to lure them, if such a place isn't nearby.

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