Face Tanking


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


A few people seem to think that Barbarians are great at defending their allies through their massive hit point pool. But I have found that their low AC leaves them pretty vulnerable and they tend to go down quicker than offensive fighters (duel Wielding and two handed) and way quicker than shield fighters and champions).

How much hp would you need to effectively tank like a champion without their enhanced AC, would a hypothetical barbarian who had 20hp per level (instead of 12) be able to tank like a champion?


Do people think that the high HP pool makes Barbarians good front-line "tanks" or is it because of things like "Giant instinct + Reach Weapon + AoO" or "Animal instinct + Animal Skin + Furious Bully"? I'm not sure that I want HP to be more sole mitigating factor in a world with 10 over your AC means a critical hit.


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Yea im not convinced barbs can tank outside of animal instinct.


The barbarian protects her allies the old-fashioned way: by killing the crap out of anything that wants to hurt them. She is not good at defense.


WWHsmackdown wrote:
Yea im not convinced barbs can tank outside of animal instinct.

I agree, and have read many accounts of PF2 difficulty tied to parties that think having a Barbarian, Ranger, Monk (w/o a defensive build), or even Rogue as their frontline PC counts for something.

It really doesn't, at least not by default like in previous editions. Those classes, if they want to tank, need to invest in tanking, generally through a Dedication (though some Monks don't need that).
Otherwise they seem to work more like skirmishers, especially for Monk & Ranger that can get in their two worthwhile attacks in one action.

And Barbarian's particularly egregious with its beautiful hit point pool. It's large yet with Rage lowering their AC they're hardly better off than a Ranger, and it takes that much more healing to get a large, poorly protected hit point pool back on track.


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Off the top of my head...

As a non-Giant, non-Animal Barbarian, the average enemy generally hits you on their first attack on a 8. As such, they have 16 'hits' worth of damage potential- 10 single hits, and 3 crits at 18-20. The second attack lands on a 13, and adds another 9 'hits' (7 from 13-19, and a crit on 20). That's 25 hits under usual circumstances.

(As it turns out, having to calculate exact enemy damage and averages and all that is not needed here, because it'll cancel out anyway when we go to percentages later. We just need to know how often we're getting tagged.)

At most levels, a Champion is going to be a proficiency grade ahead on defense, be wearing heavy armor, and not be suffering from rage for a total of +4 AC. (We'll ignore shields because they are an option for Barbarians as well.)

This means that an enemy hits the Champion on a 12 on their first attack, which represents 10 'hits' worth of damage (8 from 12-19, and the 20 crit), and on a 17 on their second for 5 hits worth of damage.

Comparing the Barbarian's 25 incoming hits to the Champion's 15, means that the Barbarian is taking 66% more damage compared to the Champion.

If we treat 16 CON as a reasonable midground, that puts the Champion at an average of 13HP/level. Maybe 13.5 considering ancestral HP.

As such, a Barbarian would need to have 66% more HP to have an equivalent endurance, which means they would need 22.5 HP/level including CON.

So yes, a Barbarian with a base 20HP/level would in fact be able to meatshield like a Champion.

This does ignore that a Barbarian gets superior damage resistances to the Champion (Rage resistances vs Armour Spec), but also ignores the increasing impact of the Shield Ally and shield blocking, but in general this serves as a good estimate.


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I'd want to be precise about the terminology 'tank'.

A proper tank can actually actively protect their allies; either by mitigating damage (Champion) or by denying enemy movement and actions (Attack of Opportunity, grappling and tripping, etc).

Barbarians can tank very well, provided that they take options to do so; Attack of Opportunity and maneuver upgrades.

If they just have a lot of damage and presence, they're pseudo-tanks. They protect allies by being so dangerous they can't be ignored by foes, rather than by actually preventing enemy activity.

What we're talking about here is more meatshielding rather than true tanking- having the ability to survive a lot of damage and then putting oneself in the line of fire as the most convenient target to prevent others from having to take damage.


From a pure game balance standpoint, the barbarian being master of damage as well as being able to "tank like a champion" would be overpowered.


The Rot Grub wrote:
From a pure game balance standpoint, the barbarian being master of damage as well as being able to "tank like a champion" would be overpowered.

True just considering homebrewing a barbarian who gave up rage in exchange for 20hp per level and Retaliation Ability (you strikes do +2 damage per weapon dice extra damage to enemies that attacked your allies in the last turn) and wanted to guess at what would be the right level of HP.


Note that if your homebrew Barbarian doesn't have rage, then they effectively have +1 AC compared to standard Barbarians, meaning they would take 22 "hits" in Gentleman's equations rather than the regular Barb's 25.

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