On Barbarian elemental instinct...


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


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So, it sounds like the Kineticist will be a caster, but perhaps not spellcaster, or at least not in the traditional sense. I personally am quite stoked, but I know there were a lot of folks out there who wanted "ranged elemental blasting" on a martial chassis who will be somewhat disappointed.

Perpedog noted over on another thread that a book called "Rage of the Elements" really ought to have an Elemental-instinct barbarian, and channeling raw elemental power seems like the sort of thing a barbarian might reasonably do. Someone else brought up, though, that it starts to look like it has a lot of overlap with draconic instinct.

These two problems? They solve each other.

Basically, make a barbaran Elemental Instinct, where the Instinct features and associated feats give you an unarmed ranged attack of the appropriate elemental type that you can improve with appropriate feats. Should be reasonably straightforward to balance against other barbarian builds (we already have Raging Thrower) and it would nicely add "(elemental)" as an option to the "I am a walking engine of () destruction" theme that barbarians have going on in general. It might even take the edge off a bit for those folks who really want bloodragers.

I'd bet that with good feat design, you could get something that was pretty solidly satisfying without taking any more page space than any other barbarian instinct.


Ranged unarmed attacks would be pretty brutal with rage damage. I like 5e's take on the elemental barbarian with it's aura effects. Could be something like that. Might be fun to use with scouring rage.


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I also feel that monks could be further expanded in their elements. A three feat chain isn't super in depth for an earth monk, for example. Getting some more options for them (like ranged unarmed attacks not named wind crash strikes) would be cool too.


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Sanityfaerie wrote:
Basically, make a barbaran Elemental Instinct, where the Instinct features and associated feats give you an unarmed ranged attack of the appropriate elemental type that you can improve with appropriate feats. Should be reasonably straightforward to balance against other barbarian builds (we already have Raging Thrower) and it would nicely add "(elemental)" as an option to the "I am a walking engine of () destruction" theme that barbarians have going on in general. It might even take the edge off a bit for those folks who really want bloodragers.

Just straight up make them thrown weapons. 1d8, 0 reload, 1+ hand, Thrown trait (critical varying by element). You're able to conjure the element as part of the thrown strike action.


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I mean, Barbarian instincts allow you to "turn into a frog" or "turn into a dragon" or "grow really big" so I don't know why you couldn't also be "a rock man" or "literally on fire".

It's sort of arbitrary the ways in which barbarian instincts are allowed to be obviously supernatural, but basically any fantasy for "I do x with my body and hit people" should probably be valid.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I mean, Barbarian instincts allow you to "turn into a frog" or "turn into a dragon" or "grow really big" so I don't know why you couldn't also be "a rock man" or "literally on fire".

It's sort of arbitrary the ways in which barbarian instincts are allowed to be obviously supernatural, but basically any fantasy for "I do x with my body and hit people" should probably be valid.

Literally being on fire doesn't have to be supernatural to be fair. Every barbarian can do that at least.


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Especially goblin barbarians


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The trick is getting to do it more than once.


I wonder how that may be different enough from a dragon barbarian instinct.

Both are likely going to have:

- elemental damage
- elemental resistance
- elemental aoe
- fly rage ( maybe just the air/electricity one, but still)

Anathema and flavor may be good to play something thematically different, but I fear the gameplay would probably remain too similar to the dragon barbarian.


HumbleGamer wrote:

I wonder how that may be different enough from a dragon barbarian instinct.

Both are likely going to have:

- elemental damage
- elemental resistance
- elemental aoe
- fly rage ( maybe just the air/electricity one, but still)

Anathema and flavor may be good to play something thematically different, but I fear the gameplay would probably remain too similar to the dragon barbarian.

Instinct abilities can come with more than just damage. It just so happens that it's damage most of the time. I could see elemental instinct having less bonus damage than dragon but have some other tertiary effect. Like how spirit barbarian has ghost touch.


aobst128 wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:

I wonder how that may be different enough from a dragon barbarian instinct.

Both are likely going to have:

- elemental damage
- elemental resistance
- elemental aoe
- fly rage ( maybe just the air/electricity one, but still)

Anathema and flavor may be good to play something thematically different, but I fear the gameplay would probably remain too similar to the dragon barbarian.

Instinct abilities can come with more than just damage. It just so happens that it's damage most of the time. I could see elemental instinct having less bonus damage than dragon but have some other tertiary effect. Like how spirit barbarian has ghost touch.

I expect them to have some elemental stuff, depends the chosen element.

But still, even considering the example you made, it won't be a sensible difference.

Plus, note that a dragon barbarian has no different feats depends the choosen dragon.

I may be wrong here, but I expect no different feats depends the choosen element from the elemental instinct too.

Eventually, generic lvl 6 and 12 feats which give different stuff depends the element.

Thinking about a lvl 12

Air ( electr)> flying speed
Earth ( acid or bludg) > burrowing speed
Fire ( fire) > flying speed
Water ( ice or bludg) > water speed

But something like this may result into huge differences in terms of power, so I really hope this won't happen at all.


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The important difference between an elemental instinct and the dragon instinct is that at no point will the elemental instinct have you breathe fire (etc.) like a dragon, grow wings like a dragon, or turn into a dragon.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
The important difference between an elemental instinct and the dragon instinct is that at no point will the elemental instinct have you breathe fire (etc.) like a dragon, grow wings like a dragon, or turn into a dragon.

But it has sense for elemental users to be able to fly, drop aoe elemental blasts or turn into an elemental.

If it is not going to be a breath or wings on your back it makes no difference in terms of gameplay. Just flavor.


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You can definitely reflavor the dragon instinct and get a satisfying elemental barb currently.
However I don't think that it removes the design space for an elemental barb.
Like someone else suggested they could take inspiration from the 5e storm herald barb (only being actually good and not super mediocre).

Focus on the control and (de)buff aspects of the elements and less on straight damg.

An aura as a baseline seems cool, each aura could have a different control and buff effect.

So earth could give you and/or your nearby allies thp/Dr and create difficult terrain around you.

Air could give you and/or your allies increased movespeed and debuff ranged attacks etc.

Then make a lvl 6 feat akin to giants stature that costs 1 ap:

Intensify storm 1ap:

You roar and let out the primal powers that inhabit you, intensifying the effects of your elemental aura. For the remainder of your rages duration your aura gains additional effects depending on the elemental type you chose
Earth: in addition to its normal effects your aura also does X
Etc etc


I wish for something similar, though it seems quite a lot of stuff for a single instinct ( too good to be true in terms of possibilities ) if we compare it to the currently existing ones which are more like groups rather than a specific instinct ( animal, giant, dragon and, eventually, superstition ).

Mostly because this might require to tweak the old ones.

But I'd really appreciate an aura barbarian concept, trading damage for support/utility stuff.


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I feel like an important distinction between elemental and dragon instinct barbarians is that there is presently no dragon type which breathes rocks, and those that breathe water tend to do so mostly in the traditional, non-weaponized sense.

Not saying that lightning and ice breath attacks wouldn't suffice for 2/3 elements, but sometimes you want a water vibe that has nothing to do with freezing, and in any case I think most people aiming for an iconic "I get mad and become rock" would be pretty put out if their big cool power was to belch acid at foes.

On the other hand, the thing I fear most about the prospect of Elemental Instinct barbarian is their anathema being overly dull paint-by-numbers elemental allegiance nonsense with no deeper thought put in.


HumbleGamer wrote:

I wish for something similar, though it seems quite a lot of stuff for a single instinct ( too good to be true in terms of possibilities ) if we compare it to the currently existing ones which are more like groups rather than a specific instinct ( animal, giant, dragon and, eventually, superstition ).

Mostly because this might require to tweak the old ones.

But I'd really appreciate an aura barbarian concept, trading damage for support/utility stuff.

That's a fair point. I guess they could make the baseline slightly tame, and add most of the oomph through feats.

As a side note: I wouldn't mind more instinct related feats across the board


An Elemental Instinct Barbarian would definitely be cool. It can easily be different from a Dragon Instinct, and it can do all kinds of things that a Dragon can't, so I don't see why this wouldn't be a thing in the book.

It would have to pick one of the four elements (Air, Water, Fire, Earth), dealing bonus bludgeoning damage (or Fire, if Fire is chosen) with their Rage damage, and their attacks gaining the relevant traits while raging. It's Raging Resistance would be against Bludgeoning damage (again, or Fire, if Fire was chosen), and against effects with their chosen trait (Air, Water, Fire, or Earth).

I wouldn't mind having a Level 1 Barbarian feat let them pick access to the other elements (such as "Choose 1 element you don't have access to, you may choose this benefit while raging," with a "You may select this feat multiple times; each time, you must pick a different element" clause), but having it incur relevant anathemas, and they only benefit from one given element at a time. Of course, bonus points for them to be able to switch between a given element during a Rage with a Concentrate Rage action ability.

The Anathema is a bit tricky. Maybe it has to respect/hate elementals of its chosen instinct? (But should defend themselves should combat arise.) Would need more substance behind this, even though Anathema is probably the weakest/most neglected part of the Barbarian (seriously, why is it there), so hard to say how this would work.

The feats should be relatively straight forward. Giving them the Elemental Form feats similar to how the Dragon Form feats interact should be simple enough. Maybe feats that give them a free property rune on their weapons/unarmed attacks (similar to Divine Ally) wouldn't be that bad either. One feat I've been considering is, as a Rage ability only useable when starting a Rage, giving themselves (or heck, a nearby ally) the Elemental Gift spell effect, with it changing based on which Element is active (so it's compatible with the ability to change Elements feat). Make it a 10th-12th level feat.


I'd actually like a elemental barbarian who works with two elements, each of which gives some minor bonus when raging (adding up to a full bonus.)

So I could make a volcano barbarian by picking Fire and Earth, a storm barbarian with Lightning and Water, or a Tsunami barbarian with Water and Earth for example.


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There are so, so many things that an elemental barb could be, it definitely doesn't have to be energy damage, fly, aoe blast. I would absolutely love it if it was a elemental chunk throwing deal, as was stated earlier for instance. Could be a full on transformation from a low level too.


Gaulin wrote:
There are so, so many things that an elemental barb could be, it definitely doesn't have to be energy damage, fly, aoe blast. I would absolutely love it if it was a elemental chunk throwing deal, as was stated earlier for instance. Could be a full on transformation from a low level too.

How would that be different from the Kineticist, though?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Because kineticist isn't going to be martial *crosses fingers*


Gaulin wrote:
Because kineticist isn't going to be martial *crosses fingers*

It really depends on how they configure them.

In PF1, they were Con-based pseudo-casters with Burn. I highly doubt that they will retain all of those aspects, but it will be interesting to see if they choose to retain them to be a physical-based pseudo-caster, though. If so, it will be that much harder to differentiate them from "Ranged Elemental Barbarian," since it might require a good Constitution, or a high enough Dexterity to maintain competency with their elemental effects.

If not (and I suspect they might just make them Charisma-based), then I don't see why they won't get things like specific "innate" spells, such as an elemental cantrip, with feats/abilities that give them other "innate" spells.

Or, if they just get access to the Elemental spell list instead, with bonuses or unique abilities pertaining to elements they pick throughout their adventuring career, and just treat them like an "Elemental" list Spontaneous Spellcaster. With time changing the Kineticist iconic to be a more mature individual, perhaps their mechanics will drastically change with them.

Of course, it's very early, and I was actually surprised with the Thaumaturge being as neat, customizeable, and expansive as it is, with actual thought put into its mechanics (such as the capacity to switch between implements as part of using their implement actions, making reaction-based implements far more convenient to use than if that mechanic didn't exist).


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

To address some of what we already know:

It will bear no particular resemblance to PF1 mechanics.

It will be magical but not cast spells. I assume that includes focus spells, innate spells, and cantrips in that exclusion. Logan mentioned “impulses” which seems to be the basic ability and its own thing.

The Thrown Element instinct I proposed (though I think I’d rather see it as an archetype) would be akin to the Mind Smith archetype in its ability to create weapons, but it would specifically be a throwing weapon. The idea would be to build on the existing class feats of barbarians to utilize thrown weapons, but make it elemental. Ideally this could also open builds on other martial classes.

Edit: the mental image I have is Hella as a metal element tosser.


AnimatedPaper wrote:

To address some of what we already know:

It will bear no particular resemblance to PF1 mechanics.

It will be magical but not cast spells. I assume that includes focus spells, innate spells, and cantrips in that exclusion. Logan mentioned “impulses” which seems to be the basic ability and its own thing.

The Thrown Element instinct I proposed (though I think I’d rather see it as an archetype) would be akin to the Mind Smith archetype in its ability to create weapons, but it would specifically be a throwing weapon. The idea would be to build on the existing class feats of barbarians to utilize thrown weapons, but make it elemental. Ideally this could also open builds on other martial classes.

Edit: the mental image I have is Hella as a metal element tosser.

Sounds like it will just be an Elemental "martial" variant of the Psychic, then. So it will probably have 10 HP/Level, have good Fortitude and Reflex saves, martial-scaling proficiency in simple weapons and light armor, be Charisma-based (or maybe Wisdom-based, but doubtful), have all of its specialty attacks be based on its class proficiency, which might scale like a Spellcaster's, and instead of a Burn mechanic we have an Impulse mechanic. Heck, even if the attacks are Dexterity-based, the fact that it will probably still be a Charisma-based class means they can just invest into Intimidate and make up their reduced accuracy with Bon Mot/Frightened condition.

The problem with that is that it's relatively wonky to implement; is the Barbarian still using a martial throwing weapon, and is just adding Elemental Rage damage to it? Is he literally creating chunks of fire/earth/water/air and throwing it at enemies for pure Elemental damage? The former is easier to balance around (but I don't see why other instincts can't do the same, and still runs into the problem of "throwing weapons require Returning to be feasible). The latter not so much. (How does the damage scale? Is it just based on the respective cantrips? If not, how can we implement Potency and Striking effects onto it; would they be considered Unarmed Ranged attacks?)


AnimatedPaper wrote:

To address some of what we already know:

It will bear no particular resemblance to PF1 mechanics.

It will be magical but not cast spells. I assume that includes focus spells, innate spells, and cantrips in that exclusion. Logan mentioned “impulses” which seems to be the basic ability and its own thing.

The Thrown Element instinct I proposed (though I think I’d rather see it as an archetype) would be akin to the Mind Smith archetype in its ability to create weapons, but it would specifically be a throwing weapon. The idea would be to build on the existing class feats of barbarians to utilize thrown weapons, but make it elemental. Ideally this could also open builds on other martial classes.

Edit: the mental image I have is Hella as a metal element tosser.

Yeah personally I would be super bummed to see an entire cool subclass forced into a very specific (and niche) weapon setup.

Definitely seems more like an archetype thing.


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I mean, following the other instinct options it'd be a feat choice.

Disagree with darksol that it'd be particularly hard to balance either. You either make it a fixed attack action and give it damage scaling like breath or make it an unarmed attack with like a 20-30 foot range.

If Paizo's feeling really saucy make it like... d6 brutal thrown.

I like the aura idea too, throw that in as another feat option. Create a nexus of elemental power around them that creates a variety of elemental effect, like pulsing damage or difficult terrain that follows the barbarian or whatever.


Squiggit wrote:

I mean, following the other instinct options it'd be a feat choice.

Disagree with darksol that it'd be particularly hard to balance either. You either make it a fixed attack action and give it damage scaling like breath or make it an unarmed attack with like a 20-30 foot range.

If Paizo's feeling really saucy make it like... d6 brutal thrown.

I like the aura idea too, throw that in as another feat option. Create a nexus of elemental power around them that creates a variety of elemental effect, like pulsing damage or difficult terrain that follows the barbarian or whatever.

Wonky doesn't mean hard to balance, since odds are, if it's wonky, it's not overpowered, nor treads some fine line of existing or potential niches. It just means it's awkward in its execution or doesn't interact with rules in an intended or obvious way.

That effect sounds like a Monk Style attack with an associated feat chain instead of an Instinct ability. Which is all fun and good, but if the idea is that it's supposed to be part of an Elemental Instinct Barbarian kit, it doesn't have any sort of effect tied to that identity, as it's closer to Monk Styles than anything.

As for a D6 Brutal Thrown weapon, that's either an Advanced weapon (with all of the weapon value cost tied to the Brutal trait), or is specific to Monsters, in which case it's not really a PC option in the first place. (Side tangent: Really, monsters having attacks with the Brutal trait is pointless, given their values are derived from a table, and doesn't require attribute math to support the values gained, and serves no mechanical benefit to be listed. It shouldn't have even existed as a trait in the first place because it does literally nothing.)

This as a Rage Power feat would be nice, and is in-line with the expected mechanics for Barbarians.

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