Friday, September 30, 2022

Mad Mashup: Barbarians

I'll be honest, I have no idea what the idea is behind WotC-era barbarians.  Some sort of mystic nature warrior who isn't the ranger mystic-nature-warrior?  

My idea for a barbarian is based on Howard's Conan: physically and mentally tough, able to endure what would break a softer, more civilized man.  So here's my concept of the barbarian for my TSR-era, mostly B/X mashup:


The Barbarian hails from a distant and uncivilized land.  They are ignorant of the ways of magic and the manners of the glittering courts of civilized nations.  However, their rough and rude upbringing grants them exceptional hardiness and endurance.  


  • Barbarians roll d8 for their hit points.  However, they start at 1st level with 16 hit points.

  • They may use any armor, shields, and weapons.

  • Barbarians save as Dwarves.

  • A Barbarian must have a STR of at least 9 and a CON of at least 13.  If a Barbarian has at least 15 in both, they enjoy a 5% bonus to all earned EXP.  If they also have a DEX of at least 13, that bonus goes up to 10%.


  • A group that includes at least one Barbarian is surprised only on a roll of 1 on a 1d8.  

  • Barbarians enjoy Advantage on saving throws against illusions and only suffer a -1 when attacking foes who are invisible or otherwise can’t be seen.

  • When resting, a Barbarian adds half their level to the hit points they regain (minimum of 1).

  • When a Barbarian deals a foe a killing blow, they may immediately make another attack on a target that is within 5’.

  • When a Barbarian’s melee attack roll totals 20 or more, they may perform a Feat of Arms.  This can be things like moving an enemy 5’, disarming their foe, hurling their target into another foe, etc.  Be creative!

  • Barbarians are expert climbers and hunters.  For every 4 hours they spend foraging or hunting, they produce 1d4 rations.  Environment can heavily influence this, however.

Brian’s Notes

Conan was my model here.  You’re hard to take down, so if you want to be a living brick wall, this is the class for you.  You probably won’t be performing Feats of Arms quite as often as a Fighter, but you’ll still enjoy this class more if you enjoy coming up with cool things on the spur of the moment.

Illustration made with Stable Diffusion and GIMP.

1 comment:

Dick McGee said...

"I'll be honest, I have no idea what the idea is behind WotC-era barbarians. Some sort of mystic nature warrior who isn't the ranger mystic-nature-warrior?"

The barbarian in 3/3.5 was modeled on a berserker archetype - a tough, mobile, lightly armored warrior who could enter a battle frenzy several times per day that made them fearless, harder hitting and able to shrug off some damage but left them worn out for a while afterward.

4e barbarians were closer to what you're describing - tough warriors who could enter a frenzy much like the 3/3.5 version, but now with explicit connections to primal magic (the same kind that druids run on) tied to spirits associated with animals, weather, tribal ancestors, etc. They often transform physically when raging, manifesting features of their totem spirit. Still a berserker, but more along the lines of Irish myth (in particular, Cu Chulainn) than Scandinavian.

No idea what the 5e version is like, don't play that edition.

None of them are particularly Conan-like, nor are they intended to be. "Savage warrior" or just plain "berserker" might have been a better name for the class, either of which are fine descriptors.

Then again, Conan is hardly the only barbarian in literature and myth, and in AD&D or OSR clones his demonstrated abilities look a lot more like a multi-classed TSR fighter/thief than a class of its own, with some ranger tricks thrown in on top.