Barbarian (Dungeons & Dragons)

The barbarian is a playable character class in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. The class was introduced in 1985 and went through a number of variations in subsequent editions of the game.

A Dungeons & Dragons character class
Publication history
First appearanceDragon #63 (1st edition)
Editions1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3.5, 4th, 5th
(as a standard class)3rd, 3.5, 5th
(as an alternate class)1st, 2nd, 4th
Source booksPlayer's Handbook (3rd, 3.5, 5)
Based onBarbarian

Publication history edit

Creative origins edit

The barbarian is based on Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian, Gardner Fox's Kothar and to a lesser extent Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd.[1] An illustration of a barbarian appeared already in the original publication of the original 1974 Dungeons & Dragons set, drawing inspiration from a panel depicting Nick Fury in Strange Tales.[2]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition edit

The first official barbarian character class was introduced by Gary Gygax in Dragon #63 (July 1982), as a sub-class of fighter.[3][4]: 84–85 [5]: 18  The barbarian later appears in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons manual, Unearthed Arcana in 1985.[6] The barbarian, along with the cavalier, received a revision in Dragon magazine #148 (August 1989), as the author David Howery felt that the class as described in Unearthed Arcana was "too powerful and too vaguely defined."[7]

Another version of the barbarian appeared as a character class in the original Oriental Adventures in 1985.[8] According to a reviewer for White Dwarf, the barbarian was "altered to fit into an Eastern pattern", and was "primarily a steppes warrior, or a forest and jungle dweller".[8]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition edit

Barbarians appear in The Complete Fighter's Handbook as a character kit,[9] and later receive full attention as a stand-alone class in The Complete Barbarian's Handbook.

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition edit

Barbarian is one of the base character classes presented in the Player's Handbook. The barbarian is seen as the archetypal warrior who uses brute strength and raw fury to excel in combat, instead of the honed skills of the Fighter or measured strength of the Monk.[4]: 84–85  Of all the classes, only the barbarian begins the game illiterate and is forced to expend extra skill points or multiclass in order to read and write. Half-Orcs have Barbarian as a favored class.

Barbarians can tap their inner fury to fly into a berserker-like rage. Once the rage is expended, the barbarian becomes fatigued for the remainder of the encounter. Rage provides bonuses to Strength, Constitution, and Will saving throws (which can make barbarians surprisingly resistant to harmful magic), and a glut of additional hit points which expire along with their rage. Rage also reduces armour class and interferes with any skill requiring patience or concentration. As barbarians gain in power, their rage can be used more often and provides even larger Strength and Constitution bonuses, while taking less of a toll on their bodies.

The Iconic barbarian is Krusk, a male half-orc.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition edit

The barbarian appears in the 4th edition as a player character class in Player's Handbook 2 (2009).[10][4]: 84–85 

As strikers, barbarians are focused on single target damage. Some defender or leader capabilities are also available to the class. Barbarians are proficient in melee weapons and light armor. Barbarians use the primal power source.

Two barbarian builds have been detailed, the Rageblood Barbarian, which focuses on the Rageblood Vigor form of Feral Might, Strength and Constitution and leans towards the defender role, and the Thaneborn Barbarian, which focuses on Strength, Charisma and a different form of Feral Might, and leans towards the leader role. Barbarians' powers are called Evocations.

The Rageblood Berserker paragon path was first presented in the 2008 preview for Player's Handbook 2.[11] The Player's Handbook 2 has several barbarian paragon paths, including the Bear Warrior, Fearbringer Thane, Frenzied Berserker and Wildrunner.[10]

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition edit

The barbarian is a character class in the Player's Handbook. It encompasses two subclasses, known as primal paths: the Path of the Berserker and the path of the Totem Warrior. The Path of the Berserker archetype heightens a barbarians rage allowing for more savage attacks, while the Totem Warrior imbues them with some animal attributes.[12]

Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (2015) included the Battlerager, exclusive to dwarves and allowing them to wear and utilise damaging spiked armor.[13]

Xanathar's Guide to Everything (2017) added three more paths: Ancestral Guardian, Storm Herald, and Zealot. The Ancestral Guardian provides supernatural defensive protection to allied creatures, the Storm Herald emits storm-themed auras that damage foes and shield allies when the barbarian's Rage feature is activated, and the Zealot empowers their attacks with divine energy and can be easily brought back from death.[14] Tasha's Cauldron of Everything (2020) added two more paths: Path of the Beast and Path of Wild Magic.[15]

Barbarians focus on defensive power. They have the highest average hit points of any class, and they gain access to a powerful unarmored defense feature. In combat, their rage feature grants them resilience against common damage types, and can be extended by taking or dealing damage.[12]

Barbarians in specific campaign settings edit

Eberron edit

In most Dungeons & Dragons games, the barbarian is represented as a savage, tribal warrior. However, in the Eberron campaign setting, barbarians are more like nomads — while they may not be civilized, they are certainly not savages.

Forgotten Realms edit

Barbarians in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting are similar in presentation as the class presented in the core rulebook. Barbarians can be of any race in the Realms, though some are more uncommon than others. Barbarians are described as being confused by the cosmopolitan nature of certain regions of Faerûn.

Reception edit

In the book The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games (2014), Michael Tresca highlighted that the class used the highest hit dice, a d12, of any class in the second and third editions. Tresca wrote, "the early version of the barbarian emulated Conan in all his aspects [...]. However, the barbarian's failure to embrace magic items was a fundamental weakness in the long-term viability of the character. The Dungeons & Dragons advancement system was as much about the acquisition of magical items as it was about personal power through leveling. [...] The barbarian changed significantly in the first edition Unearthed Arcana, which elaborated on the class' restrictions and improved its combat abilities to compensate".[4]: 84–85 

Screen Rant rated the barbarian class as the 8th most powerful class of the base 12 character classes in the 5th edition.[16]

The Gamer rated the 5th edition barbarian subclass Path Of The Zealot as the 2nd most awesome subclass out of the 32 new character options in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.[17]

Gus Wezerek, for FiveThirtyEight, reported that of the 5th edition "class and race combinations per 100,000 characters that players created on D&D Beyond from" August 15 to September 15, 2017, barbarians were the fourth most created at 9,063 total. Goliath (1,729) were the most common racial combination followed by half-orc (1,709) and then human (1,435).[18]

References edit

  1. ^ DeVarque, Aardy. "Literary Sources of D&D". Archived from the original on December 9, 2007. Retrieved February 23, 2007.
  2. ^ Witwer, Michael; Newman, Kyle; Peterson, Jonathan; Witwer, Sam; Manganiello, Joe (October 2018). Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: a visual history. Ten Speed Press. pp. 23, 25. ISBN 9780399580949. OCLC 1033548473.
  3. ^ Gygax, Gary (July 1982). "The Big, Bad Barbarian". Dragon (63). TSR: 8–10.
  4. ^ a b c d Tresca, Michael J. (2014). The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. ISBN 978-0-7864-6009-0. OCLC 697175248.
  5. ^ Shannon Appelcline (2014). Designers & Dragons: The '70s. Evil Hat Productions. ISBN 978-1-61317-075-5.
  6. ^ "Later AD&D Manuals". Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  7. ^ Howery, David (1989). "Revision". Dragon Magazine. 148: 18–23.
  8. ^ a b Shepherd, Ashley (February 1986). "Open Box: Dungeon Modules". White Dwarf (74). Games Workshop: 9–10. ISSN 0265-8712.
  9. ^ Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. p. 109. ISBN 0-87975-653-5.
  10. ^ a b "February and Beyond". Archived from the original on November 10, 2014.
  11. ^ Heinsoo, Rob; Mearls, Mike; Decker, Jesse; Schwalb, Robert J. (October 2008). "Playtest: The Barbarian" (PDF). Dragon Magazine. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved October 6, 2008.[dead link]
  12. ^ a b Mearls, Mike (July 28, 2014). "Keeping it Classy". Archived from the original on July 2, 2019. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  13. ^ Long, Michael (November 9, 2015). "Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide – Review". Tribality. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  14. ^ "Extra life 2017, Xanathar's Guide to Everything table of contents" (PDF). Wizards of the Coast. 2017. p. 2. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  15. ^ Turney, Alexandria (November 5, 2020). "All 30 D&D Subclasses In Tasha's Cauldron Of Everything". ScreenRant. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  16. ^ "Dungeons And Dragons: Ranking All Of The Base Classes, From Least To Most Powerful". ScreenRant. February 14, 2019. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  17. ^ "10 Awesome Subclasses From Xanathar's Guide To Everything (D&D Expansion)". TheGamer. August 7, 2019. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  18. ^ Wezerek, Gus (October 12, 2017). "Is Your D&D Character Rare?". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved November 26, 2019.

External links edit