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Pathfinder Unchained: Barbarian

June 8, 2015

This week we will examine the revamped classes and new options from Pathfinder Unchained for the Pathfinder Role-Playing Game. This book takes four classes (barbarian, monk, rogue, summoner) and tries to address the problems of their previous edition versions and fix them. There are some clear cut winners and losers while some are change with only mediocre results.

Today, we will examine the new Unchained Barbarian, one of the mediocre ones. The biggest change to the barbarian is its rage ability. The new version of rage takes out the attribute bonuses, simplifying the need for players to have to recalculate everything associated with strength and constitution, including extra hit points, and replaces it with a version that gives static bonuses to attack and damage and grants temporary hit points. By getting rid of the increased hit points through the constitution boost and givng temporary hit points instead, the risk of death when a barbarian comes out of rage is eliminated. While the temporary hit points may be the best thing to happen to barbarians since Conan, having increased strength replaced by the static bonuses (attack and damage) leaves them unable to show off said strength while in a rage (breaking down doors, etc.) and less of a bonus when wielding two-handed weapons. That is where this rage loses.

Unchained also adds a plethora of new rage powers for the barbarian. Stances, activated during rage with a move action, are new rage powers that give abilities that last over the course of a rage and not just once a rage (or even a day). Stances look like variations of the D&D 4th Edition Essentials fighter class who had stances instead of powers. Some of the stances are good and scale nicely over levels and some just do nothing for the barbarian. Examples are powerful stance which adds increasing damage over level progression but others like accurate stance just do not give much of a relevant boost. Of course, some of these stances are the beginning of rage power chains that gets more powerful at higher levels.

Overall, the Unchained Barbarian tackles the disadvantages of the original barbarian, but opens up new problems created by the new rage power and stance powers to get a grade of C+ (which may be higher than any grade any barbarian has ever gotten).

Since Unchained is different than the original, we decided to go with a non-tradtional race and direction. Instead of a half-orc with a greataxe, we have a tengu with two swords in a more finesse type of build than a hard hitting smasher. We provided some background information, a level 1 character sheet (click the link on his name) and progression (feats and rage powers) to level 8.

** Cawsus Blackfeather **

Hailing from the far, far east, Cawsus joined the Pathfinder Society after being rescued by field agents there. He wields a traditional pair of daisho with deadly efficiency but often leaves himself open when he ‘loses’ himself in battle. Although a little flighty, Cawsus considers himself one of the best swordsmen and uses his abilities to protect his fellow Pathfinders.

Progression:
Level 1 – Two Weapon Fighting
Level 2 – Powerful Stance
Level 3 – Power Attack
Level 4 – Knockback, +1 Dexterity
Level 5 – Tengu Wings
Level 6 – Ground Breaker
Level 7 – Improved Two Weapon Fighting
Level 8 – Crippling Blow, +1 Constitution

What do you think? Did they ‘fix’ the barbarian? What other issues do you think need to be fixed? And come back next week for Pathfinder Unchained: Monk as we take a look the new monk.

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  1. June 11, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Does this do anything about ‘Race Cycling’? In the past, I’ve avoided the barbarian because flipping rage on and off repeatedly just felt like a fiddly rules thing and not something that would exist for an actual character.

  2. Steve
    June 12, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    I’ve never really liked the way rage was. This new way seems more like an adrenaline rush or something, much more realistic. Well, as realistic as you can be in a fantasy game.

  1. June 10, 2015 at 4:51 pm
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