Barbarians of the ruined colonies

Hercules (source)

Image by John Singer Sargent (source)

Castle Pahvelorn was once the mightiest stronghold on the edge of the western colonial frontier. Before the giants were driven back and Pahvelorn was built, the old kingdoms settled colonies on the coast of the Mirnilask Gulf, which lies to the east of Zorfath and Shem Nabar. Several generations ago, those colonies were overrun by savage warriors that swept down from the southeastern hills. The warriors fought fearlessly, and drove of interlopers from their colonies back to the sea, plundering the wealth of the colonies before retreating to the hills from which they came.

Some of their warriors still venture forth from their clans in the hills. Here is a class for their raiders. Hit dice, saving throws, attack, XP progression, and weapons as fighter. See below regarding armor.

When making a death saving throw in response to being reduced to 0 HP from combat, barbarians roll two dice and take the highest result.

A barbarian gains a rage point when the character:

  • Scores a hit on an enemy in combat
  • Takes damage during combat
  • Rolls a natural 20 on an attack roll
  • Slays an enemy in combat

These conditions are cumulative, so slaying an enemy with a natural attack roll of 20 gains 3 rage points.

Rage points may be spent to:

  • Add +1 to an attack roll
  • Add +1 to a damage roll
  • Add +1 to a saving throw
  • Improve AC by 1 (no better than 2 [17])
  • Improve a nearby companion’s AC by 1 (no better than 2 [17])
  • Save to shrug off damage from a mundane missile
  • Decrease damage taken by 1

Points must be spent for bonuses before dice are rolled. At the end of combat, all rage points are lost. AC improvements last until the end of combat. Companion AC improvements are only active when the barbarian is nearby. No more than six rage points can be spent at once on any given type of bonus.

Barbarians must make a successful saving throw (use most favorable number) to disengage from combat (this save is penalized by the current number of rage points).

Barbarians are deeply suspicious of the dark arts, and gain no rage points if in possession of enchanted objects that are not fetishes from their own homeland. This suspicion is connected to ideas of personal, spiritual purity and does not extend to travelling companions (though barbarians may be contemptuous of the unclean and strange habits of the civilized).

Additionally, no rage points are gained if the barbarian is wearing any armor (though shields are allowed). If not wearing armor, barbarians gain a bonus to AC equal to their HD (for these purposes, treat 1+1 as 2). For example, an unarmored barbarian with 3 HD has an AC of 6 [13].

Barbarians also often have misunderstandings with civilized people, and thus take a -2 reaction penalty. This includes loyalty and morale checks for civilized retainers (though close associates will come to understand and trust the barbarian over the course of successful adventures). Thanks to those that participated on Google Plus in the discussion about this aspect of the barbarian class.

7 thoughts on “Barbarians of the ruined colonies

  1. Gus L.

    That’s a fine barbarian – a bit of note keeping for rage, but manageable. I’d say this is a feat actually – because barbarians have always either been broken or indistinguishable from fighters.. Excellent. Personally I would make a rule as well that any mount of gold in a barbarian’s possession over 1000 x Lvl must be caroused soon as possible.

    1. Brendan Post author


      Thanks! As rage points are pretty much temporary HP in disguise (with added utility functions), I figure the note keeping won’t be too bad. In fact, depending on play testing, I may make that more explicit in future versions. As such, I’m also somewhat curious about how the “decrease damage by 1” option will work. If players end up just saving up rage points to soak damage, that will probably need to be removed or tweaked. I guess the AC mods are an additional element to track.

      I agree that more GP spending guidelines are needed (I started to write up something for spending GP on vision quests, but realized that I didn’t really know what I wanted yet). As is, I think that carousing is a good default expenditure for barbarians, but it would be nice to have some more thematic ways to spend money as well.

  2. LS

    I never read this post for some reason, until now. So forgive me for being 8 months late in saying this, but this is fucking inspired. You really outdid yourself here, Brendan.

    1. Brendan Post author

      Hey, thanks! When we get back to playing Pahvelorn, you can roll one up if you want as an alternate character.

      I should make a PDF out of this for easy table reference, too.

    1. Brendan Post author


      I think it did get some brief testing (like one session, IIRC). I’m blanking on who played one though.

      If you do try this, or something similar, I’d love to hear about it.


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