D&D (and other such games) have taken the idea of the real life and mythology of the berserker and turned it into the barbarian class that we know and love in the game but for the most part they are simply a power that isn’t explored more in depth. However, with a bit of world-building forethought and player involvement, these often-ignored powers can come to the forefront to make those with these powers the terror in battle that they are truly meant to be.
Please note: These ideas behind these powers are based on Pathfinder (though some have been combined for conciseness), but with a bit of tweaking can be used for any version of D&D that has barbarians. Because of this, it’s beyond the scope of this article to discuss what level these powers would be appropriate at. Neither is this article isn’t going to talk about whether the powers are standard, extraordinary, or supernatural.
Consider how to incorporate the following rage-based feats and powers into your game(s). Keep in mind, unless it states it directly, that these powers are active only “while raging.”
Magic Hating Feats
Instead of having magical powers themselves, barbarians can focus on eliminating magic with their raging, and thus have access to the following feats.
- Superstition: The barbarian gains a +2-morale bonus on saving throws made to resist spells, supernatural abilities, and spell-like abilities which increases by +1 for every 4 levels the barbarian has attained. While raging, the barbarian cannot be a willing target of any spell and must make saving throws to resist all spells, even those cast by allies.
- Witch Hunter: While raging, the barbarian gains a +1 bonus on damage rolls against creatures possessing spells or spell-like abilities. This damage bonus increases by +1 for every four levels the barbarian has obtained.
- Disruptive: The DC to cast spells defensively increases by +4 for all enemies that are within your threatened area. This increase to casting spells defensively only applies if you are aware of the enemy’s location and have an attack of opportunity available.
- Spellbreaker: Enemies in your threatened area that fail their checks to cast spells defensively provoke attacks of opportunity from you.
- Spell Sunder: Once per rage, the barbarian can attempt to sunder an ongoing spell effect by succeeding at a combat maneuver check (CMD) against 15 + the effect’s caster level. If the effect is on a creature, the check is CMD + 5, ignoring any miss chance caused by a spell or spell-like ability. If successful, the spell is suppressed or dispelled.
- Sunder Enchantment: Whenever the barbarian succeeds at a sunder combat maneuver on a magical item, that item’s magical abilities are suppressed for 1 round, plus 1 round for every 5 points by which her combat maneuver check exceeded the target’s CMD.
- Eater of Magic: Once per rage, when a barbarian fails a saving throw against a spell, supernatural ability, or spell-like ability, she can reroll the saving throw; if the new roll succeeds, she is not affected by the spell, supernatural ability, or spell-like ability but gains temporary HP instead. These temporary HP last until damage is applied to them or 1 minute, whichever occurs first.
- Ghost Rager: the barbarian deals normal damage to incorporeal creatures even when using nonmagical weapons. She also gains a morale bonus to touch AC equal to her saving throw bonus from her superstition rage power.
Barbarians need to be accurate to defeat their enemies. These feats exemplify this feature.
- Surprise Accuracy: Once per rage, the barbarian gains a +1-morale bonus on one attack roll, which increase as the barbarian gains more levels. This power is used as a swift action before the roll to hit is made.
- Deadly Accuracy: If the barbarian scores a critical threat when using her surprise accuracy rage power, she applies double the surprise accuracy bonus when rolling to confirm the critical.
- Sharpened Accuracy: When using her surprise accuracy rage power, the barbarian ignores the miss chance for concealment and treats total concealment as concealment. She also ignores cover penalties except those from total cover.
- Lethal Accuracy: When using her surprise accuracy rage power, the barbarian’s critical multiplier for damage increases by 1 (a ×2 multiplier becomes ×3, a 19–20/×2 multiplier becomes 19–20/×3, a ×3 multiplier becomes ×4, and a ×4 multiplier becomes ×5).
- Unexpected Strike: Once per rage, the barbarian can make an attack of opportunity against a foe that moves into any square threatened by the barbarian, regardless of whether that movement would normally provoke an attack of opportunity.
Bludgeoning & Brawling
Sometimes barbarians go into battle without weapons, but they don’t necessarily need them if they have the following feats. Before the rage starts, have the party’s mage cast “enlarge” on the
- Body Bludgeon: the barbarian can pin smaller opponent using it as a two-handed improvised weapon that deals 1d6 (T), 1d8 (S), 1d10 (M) bludgeoning damage to both the opponent and the pinned opponent. The barbarian can make a single attack using the pinned opponent as part of the action she uses to maintain the grapple, using her highest attack bonus. If the pinned opponent is unable to resist being pinned for any reason, she can use that opponent as an improvised weapon until it drops to 0 or fewer HP, at which point the creature becomes useless as an improvised weapon.
- Brawler: While raging, the barbarian is treated as if she has Improved Unarmed Strike. If she already has the feat, her unarmed strikes increase by one level.
- Brawler, Greater: While raging, the barbarian is treated as if she has Two-Weapon Fighting when making unarmed strike attacks.
- Overbearing Advance: the barbarian inflicts damage equal to her Strength bonus whenever she succeeds at an overrun combat maneuver.
- Overbearing Onslaught: the barbarian may overrun more than one target per round, with a –2 penalty on her CMB for each overrun check after the first.
- Come and Get Me: as a free action the barbarian may leave herself open to attack while preparing devastating counterattacks. Enemies gain a +4 bonus on attack and damage rolls against the barbarian until the beginning of her next turn, but every attack against the barbarian provokes an attack of opportunity from her, which is resolved prior to resolving each enemy attack.
- Fueled by Vengeance: While raging, whenever you deal weapon damage to a creature that dealt damage to you since the end of your last turn, add 1 round to your remaining number of rounds of rage for the current day. You can gain no more than 1 extra round of rage each round.
- Furious Pyre: The barbarian visibly burns with an inner flame that consumes all impurities affecting her. Each round that the barbarian rages reduces the duration of negative spells and effects inflicted upon her as if 2 rounds had passed. Once daily, she can expend 5 rounds of rage to try to save against each nonpermanent effect currently affecting her again. If successful, the effect ends.
- Impelling Disarm: Once per rage, the barbarian can make a disarm attempt to disarm a target in place of attack. This attempt does not provoke attacks of opportunity. If successful, the barbarian sends the target’s weapon flying—either straight at the target, or spinning away to strike another foe up to 20 feet away. This ranged attack counts as throwing a weapon that isn’t designed to be thrown, even if the weapon disarmed is a thrown weapon.
- Inspire Ferocity: While raging, the barbarian can use a move action to impart her reckless abandon modifier to all willing allies within 30 feet rounds equal to her Charisma modifier (minimum 1).
- Mighty Swing: The barbarian automatically confirms a critical hit. This power is used as an immediate action once a critical threat has been determined. This power can only be used once per rage.
- No Escape: The barbarian can move up to double her normal speed as an immediate action but she can only use this ability when an adjacent foe uses a withdraw action to move away from her. She must end her movement adjacent to the enemy that used the withdraw action. The barbarian provokes attacks of opportunity as normal during this movement. This power can only be used once per rage.
- Rage Veil: When raging, the barbarian can use Stealth, and she gains a bonus equal to 1/2 her barbarian level on Stealth checks plus the benefits of concealment against ranged attacks and attacks of opportunity.
- Roused Anger: The barbarian may enter a rage even if fatigued. While raging after using this ability, the barbarian is immune to the fatigued condition. Once this rage ends, the barbarian is exhausted for 10 minutes per round spent raging.
- Strength Surge: The barbarian adds her barbarian level on one Strength check or combat maneuver check, or to her Combat Maneuver Defense when an opponent attempts a maneuver against her. This power is used as an immediate action. This power can only be used once per rage.
There are a variety of rage based powers that can be used in your games, if the DM is open to exploring their use. Consider using these in your game, either by allowing the characters to use them or giving them to enemies you’re sending after your players for them to learn about. As always, feel free to like, comment, and re-share!