Barbarian Class..Pros and Cons!!

Seems to have more pro'

Barbarians with Class
By Skip Williams

The Pros and Cons of a Barbarian

The barbarian is made for fighting, but he's definitely more than just an uncivilized fighter. He comes with his own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Barbarian Assets

When you choose a barbarian, you have plenty of options for creating an interesting character. Below are several assets you have going for you with a character of this class.

High Hit Points: The barbarian's 12-sided Hit Dice give him unmatched hit points, especially if he has a decent Constitution score.

Good Attack Bonus: A barbarian's base attack bonus is +1 per level, which is the best in the game. Thus, a barbarian can take on almost any foe and expect to land effective blows.

Good Fortitude Saves: A barbarian uses the best save progression in the game for Fortitude saves (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). This natural hardiness helps him resist most effects that attack his body, such as poison, polymorphing, and energy draining.

Good Weapon Selection: Because he can use any simple or martial weapon, a barbarian is a deadly opponent with just about any weapon in his hand.

Good Armor Class: A barbarian is proficient with light and medium armor and every kind of shield except a tower shield. The lack of heavy armor keeps his Armor Class rating from reaching the stratosphere, but a properly equipped barbarian is no slouch when it comes to defense.

Rage: A barbarian is an efficient fighter in most circumstances, but his signature ability -- rage -- turns him into a veritable killing machine. The Strength boost that rage provides makes his attacks more potent, and the Constitution increase makes him extra tough, at least for a short time.

Defensive Abilities: A 2nd-level barbarian's uncanny dodge ability keeps him from suffering the usual ill effects when he is surprised or otherwise caught off guard. Some of his other class features -- especially the ability to avoid traps (gained at 3rd level) and the ability to resist blows (gained at 7th level) -- also help to protect him from harm.

Quick Movement: A barbarian who isn't carrying a heavy load or wearing heavy armor enjoys a modest boost in speed that helps him cover ground in a hurry.

Good Skill Selection: The barbarian has a substantial list of class skills that make him alert, mobile, and self-sufficient.
Barbarian Weaknesses

As with members of any other character class, the barbarian's many advantages come at a price. Here are a few of the disadvantages you should keep in mind if you're considering a barbarian character.

Poor Reflex and Will Saving Throws: Barbarians have the worst progression for Reflex and Will saves in the game (see Table 3-1 in the Player's Handbook). This drawback means they aren't so great at avoiding most kinds of magical attacks.

Illiterate: Unless he spends some skill points to learn how to read and write (or takes levels in some other class), your barbarian character remains illiterate for life. Illiteracy usually isn't a deadly flaw, but it can prove embarrassing or inconvenient.

Curiously Vulnerable: In spite of the barbarian's formidable defenses, he can die quite easily if you aren't careful about how you play him. His rage ability lowers his Armor Class just when he needs it most, and his superior speed makes it easy to outrun his allies just when their aid might be most valuable. Furthermore, the loss of his temporary hit points after rage makes it easy for him to die after giving his all.
Playing a Classy Barbarian

Great barbarians usually use the following techniques. So if you're playing such a character, try to build your strategy around these concepts.

Be Flexible

Even though you're clearly a combat-oriented character, you can fill many different roles in an adventuring party. Your fighting ability makes you a suitable candidate for party leader, no matter where the group goes. Your Strength also comes in handy for workaday tasks that are best performed at the front of the party, such as smashing down locked doors.

On the other hand, your speed and perception skills can make you an effective scout. Or you might consider functioning as the group's rear guard, since your uncanny dodge ability lets you shake off surprise attacks and your speed lets you reach the front of the group quickly when the need arises.

If you're prepared to do what your party needs, you'll quickly become invaluable to the group.

Rage Early, Rage Often

Your rage ability is so powerful that you may be tempted to keep it in reserve, but doing so isn't always the best plan. It's best to rage when you're close to full hit points, so that you're less likely to literally die on your feet.

Friends in Need

Your fighting ability provides a great boost to your party's overall combat prowess. If you waste or misuse that ability, the whole party suffers. Likewise, you'll often need the support of the rest of your group just to survive.

The Party's Scout: If you're not the party's scout, your great speed and fighting prowess make you the obvious person to rescue that character when misfortune strikes (and it often does).

The Party's Arcane Spellcaster: This character is everything you're not: weak, vulnerable, and delicate. So be prepared to put yourself between the arcane spellcaster and the enemy when needed -- or at least be ready to come to her aid when danger approaches.

The Party's Divine Spellcaster: Get friendly and stay friendly with your party's cleric, druid, or paladin. This character's healing spells can keep you alive, especially when you're coming out of a rage with heavy damage.


Some Key Equipment

As a barbarian, you rely heavily on your gear, so it pays to collect the right equipment. Below are some essential pieces to pack.

Armor and Shield: Get the best medium armor you can afford because you'll need that Armor Class. You should also plan to carry a heavy shield unless you intend to use a two-handed weapon. And don't overlook other defensive items, such as rings of protection and amulets of natural armor. Keep in mind that several lesser items with bonuses that stack can give you better protection, and at a cheaper price, than one big item.

If you do a lot of wilderness adventuring, consider some backup armor, such as suit of studded leather (or a mithral chain shirt, if you can afford it) that you can wear at night. If you try to sleep in heavy armor you'll have penalties the next day. But if you sleep in your skivvies, you'll be in trouble if you're attacked in the night.

Primary Melee Weapon: For sheer damage-dealing ability, nothing beats a two-handed weapon, such as a greatsword or greataxe -- especially when you're raging or using the Power Attack feat (or both). But a two-handed weapon does prevent you from using a shield, and you need all the Armor Class you can get. Furthermore, a weapon with a big damage multiplier can help you get the most out of your Strength score and rage ability when you confirm a critical hit. Given all those considerations, a battleaxe is a great choice. Alternatively, if you want to spend a feat on an exotic weapon, consider a dwarven waraxe.

Backup Melee Weapon: Always have a light weapon or two handy. A light slashing weapon, such as a dagger or hand axe, can help get you out of a tight spot (for example, being swallowed whole by a big monster). It also pays to have another weapon on hand in case you lose your primary one or find that it isn't effective. Make sure this weapon deals a different kind of damage than your primary weapon does. For example, if you normally use a battleaxe (a slashing weapon), consider a morningstar (which deals both bludgeoning and piercing damage) as a backup.

Ranged Weapon: Your forte is melee combat, but you won't always be able to reach your foes, and your allies won't always want to go toe-to-toe with the enemy. A composite bow is a great choice because you can spend a little extra money on it and add your Strength bonus to damage.

playing an illiterate character can lead to some comic in game stuff if you RP with jerks lol

when it comes to straight up melee the barbarian outshines every other core class. He has his weaknesses but a couple levels of formal fighter training can get him the much needed feats (Power attack,cleave) and proficiency in heavy armor and tower shield.

it will delay his DR but his rage is ability point dependant and his uncanny dodge will still help him (retains DEX, can only be flanked by an opponant 2 lvls instead of 4 above him)

not to many Cons for the Barb. He earns his place as party frontman and earns his role.

fesstering whats your handle on the WOTC boards?

get it changed back....

jesus MuayThai, whats up with the name?

My wife plays a barbarian in our current campaign.

at higher levels you need ot depend on Hp more then AC. you almost always get hit with the first attack and you need just enough AC to stop additional attacks or frequent POWER attacks.

with the Barbs high Hp stacking Rage boosting class features or feats granting better rage (reckless rage for example) you can smash out massive damage. the "best defense is a good offense" angle is then worked in very nice.

devstating critical at least gives you a FORT save though.

you cant beat Frenzied Berzerker, literally. at one point he becomes immune to HP damage until his rage ends.

Book of exalted deeds has quite a few cool classes for the barbarian.

The Frenzied Berzerker is the Ultimate warrior. its like trying to fight a charging wood chipper.

Here is a pic of a frenzied Berzerker!!

Frenzied Berserker will get +10 to Str, +4 to Con, -6 to AC, Extra Attack and take subdual damage each round while using Frenzy and Rage together. That is usable only 1/day (only 1 use of Rage, or 5x per day if you only use frenzy)

A 20th Barbarian will get +8 to Str, +8 to Con, -2 to AC, and take no damage. He wont get an extra attack, but he will be able to rage 6x per day.


A FB using two-weapons is particularly effective, he will get his 4 attacks + 2 attacks from imp. two. weap, +1 from Frenzy. Ok, that is 7 attacks.

Ok, 7 attacks might seem a lot, but you will get +STR to your main hand weapon and +x.5 STR to second hand, while the barb would get + x1.5 STR. With your amazing Strength, this will actually mean A LOT of damage, and it will make quite a large difference. And a Barbarian should hit more often too.

However, the Frenzied Berserker might on average still do a little more damage than the Barbarian, because of his extra attack.

Power Attacking:

In 3.5, power attack with two-handed weapons work pretty much like the supreme power attack ability, so that is one great ability that you wont be missing.


High level barbarians don't get fatigued, no need to get that horizon walker level, and since you wont need endurance, you dont need those 3 ranger levels.

Attacking your friends:

A normal rage is controlable, while frenzy isnt. So you don't have to get those 3 holy liberator levels.

Damage Reduction:

Barbarians get 5/- DR, a FB could get 3/- with an Adamantine Full Plate, but he will give up a lot of speed. A barbarian would also not have to worry about getting specific equipment, it is always hard to have a build that depends on certain items, since you are not sure if your DM will make it available to you or not.

Being flanked:

A barbarian cannot be flanked, avoiding things like sneak attacks and such.


You will need to be human, to avoid multiclassing penalties. A pure barbarian could be an Orc or Half-Orc for a better STR score.


A pure barbarian does have a little more HP, and this can come in very handy. It is better to have +9 average HP than to have a Deathless Frenzy or something of the sorts. I can't recall how many times I was bellow 9 HP, and as a barbarian I would still be alive, while as a FB, I would be dying and still fighting to CERTAIN death.

  • Now let's see how a pure barb does against a Bear Warrior:

This is pretty straight forward: In 3.5, you get more damage from power attack by using a two-handed weapon, as a bear you wont be able to use weapons at all.

Your magical items won't work in bear form, so you won't be able to bypass damage reduction, or take advantage of +5 weapons (that effectively are the same as +10 to STR). Your AC will also decrease, since a +7 to Natural Armor isn't a lot compared to all the AC giving items you would have.

You will get no DR.

  • On top of all that, it is much easier convincing a DM to be a pure barbarian. My DM would never allow me to get so many different classes. How is a Holy Liberator, a Horizon Walker and a Frenzied Berserker anything alike?

  • You will save a lot of Feats and Skills you really don't need, and don't forget you will need all the feats you can get, since you are not a fighter and doesn't have bonus feats.

Why try to make thousands of builds using hundreds of different PrCs, while the most obvious choice is your plain and old (actually new in 3.5 ) barbarian

Frenzied Berserker is so good because of its improved power attack. Having incredibly high str (as most FB's do have) gives you an equally amazing bonus to hit. With all this extra to hit bonus dumped into power attack you get a huge amount of damage added to every hit, and with supreme power attack your doubling that already huge number. Not to mention frenzy, which gives you an extra attack (and hence adding all that additional power attack damage once again). The result is probably the single most powerful offensive melee force DND has to offer.

Toying around with the idea of creating a Barbarian, a friend of mine suggested I look into the Frenzied Berserker Prestige Class to add a bit of spice to the character. So being the dutiful D&D'er that I am I grabbed my copy of the Complete Warrior and flipped to the Frenzied Berserker...and my jaw hit the floor.

Maybe I am reading stuff wrong, but to me it seems like it is a broken class.

Problem #1: "The effects of frenzy stack with those from any rage ability the character may have." [page 34 of the Complete Warrior]

WHOA! Okay so a Rage grants a Barbarian a +4 to Str and Con and grants a +2 Morale Bonus on Will saves, not to mention bestows a -2 to Armor Class. A Frenzy grants a +6 to Str, an extra attack at the characters full BAB (if using the full attack action), a -4 to Armor Class and takes 2 points of non-lethal damage per round. Also of note: Greater Frenzy - Starting at 8th level, the character's bonus to Strength during a frenzy becomes +10 instead of +6 page 36 of the Complete Warrior

So in total, if I am reading this right, a Frenzied Berserker which enters a Frenzy (which stacks with his Rage ability) gains a +10 to Str (+5 to hit and damage), a +4 to Con (+2 Hit points per level), a +2 Morale Bonus to Will Saves, takes a -6 Hit to the AC, and takes 2 points of non-lethal damage per turn. Seems a wee bit insane to me...granted the -6 to AC can hurt (literally!) but I can't see it outweighing the Extra damage that will be inflicted per attack.

Another question that relates to this, I am under the impression that a Barbarian/Frenzied Berserker does not have to Rage first and then Frenzy for everything to stack.

Problem #2: Improved Power Attack and Supreme Power Attack

Actually this deals with Supreme Power Attack more so then with Improved Power here goes.

Okay so Supreme Power attack states "... gains a +2 bonus on her melee damage rolls for every -1 penalty she takes on her melee attack rolls when using the Power Attack Feat (or +4 for every -1 of wielding a two-handed weapon..."

It also states that Supreme Power Attack does not stack with Power Attack or Improved Power Attack [page 36 of the Complete Warrior].

So if we follow the limitations set forth in the Power Attack Feat, you may only "...subtract a number from all melee attack rolls and add them to your damage rolls. This number may not exceed your base attack bonus." [page 98 of the Players Handbook]. A 20th level Barbarian/Frenzied Berserker can subtract 20 from his Base Attack Bonus to add an extra 80 points to his damage roll if using a 2-handed Weapon...yet again another WHOA! applies here.

Now it is time to bring it all together, please keep in mind that for this example, I am using a Human with a base 10 in every ability score and no feats.

A 20th level Barbarian/Frenzied Berserker enters a Frenzy and gains a +14 to Str (24 Str after bonus, +7 to Atk/Dmg), a +4 to Con (14 Con after bonus, +2 Hit points), a +2 Morale Bonus (+8 to his/her Will Save), a -6 to their Armor Class, and takes 2 points of non-lethal damage per turn. Decides to make a Full Attack action using his/her Supreme Power Attack Ability with a Great Axe. Listed below would be the BAB + Str Bonus.

+7/+2/-3/-8/+7 (can't forget that extra attack granted by the Frenzy)

I will grant that hitting something at 20th level with just a +7 would be RARE but having been a player and GM for over 15 years, I have seen the dice pull some CRAZY rolling a 20, maybe not granting a critical but a 20 is always a hit.

Minimum Damage with the Great Axe with everything added in would be 88 Points of Damage (1 from the Great Axe, 7 from the Strength Bonus, 80 from the Supreme Power Attack).

Maximum Damage would be 99 points of add in the x3 Crit Modifier and Max Damage jumps up to 123 points of Damage. Is that sick or what?!

Okay and now apply this to say a Half-Orc or any other race that starts out with a high Str and all of a sudden the prestige class just becomes even more powerful...

I guess after that MLA Formatted Research Paper I just wrote it all boils down to just one question....

Is the Frenzied Berserker Class a broken/unbalance prestige class?

The only problem is you will kill your own party also!!..thats what u have to watch out for!

the thing about the FB turning on his party is:

he can try to stop the rage with a WILL 20 save every round or if his WILL is too low to stop it you set up your party spell caster to hit him with will saves or reflex saves.

one of my players likes to throw the Otiluke resiliant sphere (or what we like to call "the hamster wheel") and let the FB run it off.

I have seen PC's put down by this war machine but when you play with fire you get burned.