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tedcahill2
2017-06-11, 09:47 PM
My group and I have been playing D&D for roughly 15 years, and with the exception of me, they have very little interest in optimization or using alternative class features or templates or what have you.

So for a future game I'm working on a series of alternate classes I want to introduce to them that utilize some the the alternate features, and a touch of homebrew, to refresh the typical "I'm playing a barbarian."

The class below will replace the barbarian for this setting. I appreciate your feedback.

NOTE: see the second post for some insight into the abilities.

Berserker


Level
BAB
Fort
Ref
Will
Special


1st
+1
+2
+0
+0
Berserker strength (+4 Str, +2 saves, DR 2/-, -2 AC), fast movement


2nd
+2
+3
+0
+0
Uncanny dodge


3rd
+3
+3
+1
+1
Reckless swing (+1d6, -1 AC)


4th
+4
+4
+1
+1
Vitality surge 1/day


5th
+5
+4
+1
+1
Improved uncanny dodge


6th
+6/+1
+5
+2
+2
Reckless swing (+2d6, -2 AC)


7th
+7/+2
+5
+2
+2
DR 1/-


8th
+8/+3
+6
+2
+2
Vitality surge 2/day


9th
+9/+4
+6
+3
+3
Reckless swing (+3d6, -3 AC)


10th
+10/+5
+7
+3
+3
DR 2/-


11th
+11/+6/+1
+7
+3
+3
Berserker strength (+6 Str, +3 saves, DR 3/-, -2 AC)


12th
+12/+7/+2
+8
+4
+4
Vitality surge 3/day, Reckless swing (+4d6, -4 AC)


13th
+13/+8/+3
+8
+4
+4
DR 3/-


14th
+14/+9/+4
+9
+4
+4
Indomitable will


15th
+15/+10/+5
+9
+5
+5
Reckless swing (+5d6, -5 AC)


16th
+16/+11/+6/+1
+10
+5
+5
DR 4/-, vitality surge 4/day


17th
+17/+12/+7/+2
+10
+5
+5
Undying


18th
+18/+13/+8/+3
+11
+6
+6
Reckless swing (+6d6, -6 AC)


19th
+19/+14/+9/+4
+11
+6
+6
DR 5/-


20th
+20/+15/+10/+5
+12
+6
+6
Berserker strength (+8 Str, +4 saves, DR 4/-, -2 AC), vitality surge 5/day


Alignment: Any Chaotic
Hit Die: 1d12

Class Skills:
Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Listen (Wis), Ride (Dex), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str)
Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Int modifier) ◊ 4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A berserker is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, light armor, medium armor, and shields (except tower shields).

Berserker Strength (Ex): Berserkers are renowned for their tenacity in combat, whenever your current hit point total is below half, your berserker strength automatically activates. You gain a +4 bonus to your Strength, a +2 bonus on all saving throws, damage reductions 2/-, but a -2 penalty to your AC.
There is no limit to the number of times per day your berserker strength can activate, and it remains active for as long as your hit points are below half. While berserker strength is active, a berserker cannot use any Charisma-, Dexterity-, or Intelligence-based skills (except for Balance, Escape Artist, Intimidate, and Ride), the Concentration skill, or any abilities that require patience or concentration, nor can he cast spells or activate magic items that require a command word, a spell trigger (such as a wand), or spell completion (such as a scroll) to function. He can use any feat he has except Combat Expertise, item creation feats, and metamagic feats. You cannot voluntarily end your berserker strength, although you automatically drop out of it while unconscious, helpless, or (most likely) when you receive healing to bring your current vitality above half.
At 11th level, your berserker strength improves to +6 bonus to your Strength, a +3 bonus on saves, and damage reduction 3/-.
At 20th level, your berserker strength improves to +8 bonus to your Strength, a +4 bonus on saves, and damage reduction 4/-.

Fast Movement (Ex): A berserkerís land speed is faster than the norm for his race by +10 feet. This benefit applies only when he is wearing no armor, light armor, or medium armor and not carrying a heavy load. Apply this bonus before modifying the berserker's speed because of any load carried or armor worn. For example, a human berserker has a speed of 40 feet, rather than 30 feet, when wearing light or no armor. When wearing medium armor, or carrying a medium load, his speed drops to 30 feet. A halfling berserker has a speed of 30 feet, rather than 20 feet, in light or no armor. When wearing medium armor, or carrying a medium load, his speed drops to 20 feet.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): At 2nd level, a berserker gains the ability to react to danger before his senses would normally allow him to do so. He retains his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if he is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, he still loses his Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized.
If a berserker already has uncanny dodge from a different class (a berserker with at least four levels of rogue, for example), he automatically gains improved uncanny dodge (see below) instead.

Reckless Swing (Ex): Berserkers prefer brute strength over fancy maneuvers to defeat their enemies, even at the expense of their own defense. Berserkers can choose to make a reckless attack any time they are attacking with a melee weapon. If they hit they deal 1d6 additional damage, but they take a -2 AC penalty against the next attack against them, or until the start of their next turn. The AC penalty applies only to the next attack, whether or not it hits. The damage bonus from reckless swing can only be applied once per round, even if the berserker has multiple attacks.
The damage from reckless swing increases by 1d6, and the AC penalty increases by -1, at levels 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18, for a total of 6d6 damage, and -6 AC.

Vitality surge (Ex): Starting at level 4, a berserker can rapidly recover hit points for a short time. Once per day the berserker can activate vitality surge, with a swift action, to gain fast healing equal to their berserker level, for a number of rounds equal to their Constitution modifier. Berserkers can use vitality surge once per day for every 4 berserker levels they have.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): At 5th level and higher, a berserker can no longer be flanked; he can react to opponents on opposite sides of him as easily as he can react to a single attacker. This defense denies a rogue the ability to sneak attack the berserker by flanking him, unless the attacker has at least four more rogue levels than the target has berserker levels.
If a character already has uncanny dodge (see above) from a second class, the character automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead, and the levels from the classes that grant uncanny dodge stack to determine the minimum level a rogue must be to flank the character.
Damage Reduction (Ex): At 7th level, a berserker gains the ability to shrug off some amount of injury from each blow or attack. Subtract 1 from the damage the berserker takes each time he is dealt damage from a weapon or a natural attack. At 10th level, and every three berserker levels thereafter (13th, 16th, and 19th level), this damage reduction rises by 1 point. Damage reduction can reduce damage to 0 but not below 0.

Indomitable Will (Ex): While below half health a berserker of 14th level or higher gains +4 bonus on Will saves to resist enchantment spells. This bonus stacks with all other modifiers, including the morale bonus on Will saves he also receives during his rage. If a berserker fails a will save against an enchantment with a duration longer one round they can attempt a second will save the following round to break free.

Undying (Ex): At 17th level berserkers become nearly impossible to kill. If a berserker takes any damage that would reduce his hit points below 0, he can immediately expend a use of vitality surge and heal a number of hit points equal to their berserker level times their Constitution modifier. Undying rage cannot trigger if the berserker has no uses of vitality surge left, and no more than once per day.

tedcahill2
2017-06-11, 09:55 PM
The three main abilities that I have added to my berserker to differentiate it from the standard barbarian are Berserker Strength, Reckless Swing, and Vitality Surge.

These three abilities are all specifically designed to synergize with one another.

Berserker strength doesn't directly synergize with the other two, but it represents the base ability which the other two are meant to provide support to.

By reducing your AC with reckless swing you are helping to reach the helf HP threshold for berserker's strength to activate, and vitality surge helps you maintain yourself at a lower HP threshold.

noob
2017-06-12, 05:10 AM
Except that barbarians works the following way when people make a slight bit of practical optimisation: take spirit lion totem and then pounce everything to death in one complex action per group of five closely packed opponents.
Not being able to trigger the rage when you want and having it instead trigger at half hp means that you should stab yourself until you reach half hp the morning because when an opponent deals damage to something else it means that the target explodes violently as everybody deals damage superior to the health of the sun and of the earth reunited per attack(so there is no half hp step it is just either you are full or you exploded from damage)
Reckless swing table do not fits the text.

Lalliman
2017-06-12, 08:01 AM
Spirit Lion Totem is an abomination that shouldn't exist. Even so, Noob raises a good point. 3.5 is so rocket-tag-y that half HP is neither likely to occur, nor a good position to be in. With no AC to speak of, you're very likely to go from triggering Berserker Strength to being dead one round later, and DR 2 isn't going to save you unless you're fighting hordes of weak minions.

On paper, I prefer Berserker Strength to regular Rage because it's more thematic. But in practice, it's probably a downgrade.

It's also kind of odd that Vitality Surge is likely to end your Berserker Strength. If you're receiving a steady source of damage and have Vitality Surge active, you might repeatedly slip in and out of it.

tedcahill2
2017-06-12, 09:32 AM
What if berserker strength was changed to have instances?

Something like:

Whenever you take an amount of damage, from a single source, that is at least equal to your HD you gain an instance of rage. Each instance of rage you have gives you +2 Str, +1 saves, DR 1/-. You also incur a -2 AC penalty as long as you have even a single instance of rage. Additionally, as a standard action, you can voluntarily excite yourself into a rage, adding an instance of rage.

At level 1 you can have a maximum of 2 rage instances. At level 10 this increases to a maximum of 3 instances, and at level 20 4 instances. Also at level 20 each rage instance provides +4 Str, +2 saves, DR 2/-.

If not maintained by taking damage, or by using a standard action, you lose one instance of rage each round, or each 2 rounds at level 10 and each 3 rounds at level 20.

Regarding Vitality Surge: Depending on the version of berserker's strength I go with I could change vitality surge to be incapable of increasing hit points above half.

Zaydos
2017-06-12, 02:23 PM
I've had games where the whole party was at 50% health for 80% of the time. Admittedly it was because the clerics in those games had Touch of Healing feat so out of combat everyone was healed to 50% health by that.

That and note that until high level save or dies hp damage rocket tag only comes from monsters being tailored to deal with rocket tag PCs. I mean let's take some monsters at various CR and levels.

Assuming a +2 Con across the board, increasing to +3 at 8th, +4 at 12th, and +5 at 16th (I'm not looking at WBL so I don't actually know if those are appropriate levels for Amulets of Health +2/4/6 respectively I think I'm giving the first/second increases early)

Lv 1:
Wizard: 6 HP; Rogue: 8 HP; Cleric 10 HP; Fighter 12 HP; Barbarian: 14 HP. Monsters: 2 Orcs (average damage 10.5, 9 with the SRD version, 6.5 with javelin), 3 Goblins (3.5, 2.5 with javelin), 3 dire rats (2.5 damage), 1 wolf (4.5), 2 small vipers (1 plus chance of 3.5 Con damage for 2 more), 1 bugbear zombie (hard encounter; 7.5)... I could go on, but with the exception of orc warriors who are an outlier, half health happens. As written Berserker Frenzy gives more uses (> 1), but can't prevent the initial damage ():). The general save bonus matters against dire rats and vipers... except it doesn't as the DR completely nullifies vipers, and matters more with the dire rats. I'd give it slightly to rage but only if you can afford the Extra Rage feat.

Lv 3:
W 15, R 19, C 23, F 27, B 31. Monsters: 1 Ogre zombie (18), 1 Yuan-Ti Pureblood (3.5), Minor Xorn (11 or 20 full attack; DR 2/- makes it 12 full attack), 1-2 Worgs (easy or hard encounter; 7.5), Wight (3.5 + 5 energy drain), 3-4 troglodytes (3.5, or 8.5 full attack; DR 2 makes it ~2 full attack), 1 Locust Swarm (7), 1 Troll Skeleton (9.5, or 25.5 full attack), 1 Flamebrother Salamander (8, or 14 full attack), 4-6 orcs (see above)... Note that full attack is usually not going to be reached since it assumes all attacks hit. While there are enemies that can go straight from half to dead (ogre zombie), a lot of the game will happen at half health still. In fact given that Wizard's full health is half the Berserker's. Comparing the two Rage is still 1/day, or most encounters with Extra Rage. Without Extra Rage Berserker's Frenzy as originally written is significantly better. With it it becomes more questionable and I'd give it to rage.

Lv 5:
W 24, R 30, C 36, F 42, B 48. Monsters: 2 of anything that there was 1 of before, 3 Worgs, 4-6 trogs (or wolves), 7-12 orcs. 1 Phase Spider (7.5, Con poison), 1-2 Owlbears (easy or hard; 8.5 or 23.5), Nightmare (actually really strong for this CR) (11, full attack 27.5 DR reduces to 21.5), Mummy (13.5 and Mummy Rot), Manticore (10, or spikes volley 39 DR 2 reduces to 27, or full attack 26.5), Weretiger (11.5, full attack 33 DR reduces to 27), 6 headed hydra (8.5*6 or 51, 39 with DR 2). Here we see the shift to full attack does more than half health, of course that means it'll be triggering berserker rage partway if you aren't already in it. Some enemies (6 headed hydra) are deadly if you start at half health (note that the full attacks usually will miss at least once), but these are also enemies meant to be fought by a full party. Most fights will see you at half health if you take a full brunt, but if you've got decent AC you'll probably take a bit to get there. You're still probably getting more out of Berserker's Frenzy, especially if you have something to reliably heal to 1/2 health, then Rage without Extra Rage, but DM monster choice matters. If you fight groups of enemies Berserker's Frenzy is better, if you fight single foes Rage is better.

Lv 11:
W 52, R 64, C 76, F 88, B 100. 3 Gray Renders (13, full attack 27 + 16 rend), Stone Golem (20, full attack 40), 4 Flesh Golems (14, full attack 28), 4 Hill Giants (19, 13 ranged, 38 full attack), Cloud Giant (32, 21 ranged, 96 full attack), Elder Fire Elemental (24, full attack 48), 2 Greater Earth Elements (22 if you're on the ground, full attack 44)... I could go on. It is now 4 rages without feat versus berserker frenzy and I'd give it to rage unless you tend to begin fights at half-health, if your party does Berserker Frenzy is better. Note that the only one of these that can 1 round a half healthed frenzy is the Cloud Giant, but I didn't include 12 headed hydra (15*12 for 180 if all hit)... And it's ignoring DR 5/- which doesn't cut it if all 3 hit.

In general, though, point remains while there are monsters that can rocket tag you they only become predominant with DM choice, and typically if the PCs are rocket tagging as well. Play style and optimization matter a lot on whether berserker frenzy or rage is better, but I'd give it to rage because you lose round 1 boosts.

Beyond low levels (1-5) I would not pick Berserker Frenzy over Rage. Now of course it's Berserker Frenzy + Reckless Swing and that's actually a big difference. Reckless Swing at 3rd is the damage bonus from Rage without the accuracy bonus. At 6th it becomes the damage bonus from Rage with the accuracy bonus shifted to damage via PA, Pounce Rage is better than Pounce Reckless Swing but it keeps Berserker Frenzy competitive. At 11th level Reckless Swing is really slipping even without (but especially with) Pounce. Now if you run a lot of small encounters Berserker Frenzy compares better with Rage

I would not however add the complication of instances with 'oh it needs at least your hit dice'. It makes the new Barbarian really vulnerable to mook swarms (instead of actually better against them), it adds a lot of complication, and it still leaves the inability for an alpha strike unless you spend a Standard Action each round out of combat to maintain it at which point it just becomes 'you can better rage indefinitely'.

Now there are questions: Do you go for 4 encounters and quit, or do you mix in a lot of EL - 2 encounters? Do you go past the assumed 4 encounters a day? Does your group often start fights at half health? Do your barbarians typically take Extra Rage? Do you use Lion Spirit Totem at your table?

If you go for > 4 encounters a day Berserker Frenzy gets better. If your group starts at half health a fair amount Berserker Frenzy gets better. If your barbarians don't typically take Extra Rage Berserker Frenzy gets better till 9th. If you don't use Lion Spirit Totem Berserker Frenzy gets better from 6th on. All of these are comparative. I'd still say it's probably a slight debuff as you level (past around 9th), but that could be fixed with minimal fuss of making the state a little better (up the DR granted by 2, or the Strength by +2) and increasing Reckless Swing to Xd8.

Oh bonus question: Does Whirling Frenzy get used at your table? Because honestly the difference between this and Rage isn't that much different than the amount worse Rage is than Whirling Frenzy.

tedcahill2
2017-06-13, 09:59 AM
Now there are questions: Do you go for 4 encounters and quit, or do you mix in a lot of EL - 2 encounters? Do you go past the assumed 4 encounters a day? Does your group often start fights at half health? Do your barbarians typically take Extra Rage? Do you use Lion Spirit Totem at your table?

If you go for > 4 encounters a day Berserker Frenzy gets better. If your group starts at half health a fair amount Berserker Frenzy gets better. If your barbarians don't typically take Extra Rage Berserker Frenzy gets better till 9th. If you don't use Lion Spirit Totem Berserker Frenzy gets better from 6th on. All of these are comparative. I'd still say it's probably a slight debuff as you level (past around 9th), but that could be fixed with minimal fuss of making the state a little better (up the DR granted by 2, or the Strength by +2) and increasing Reckless Swing to Xd8.

Oh bonus question: Does Whirling Frenzy get used at your table? Because honestly the difference between this and Rage isn't that much different than the amount worse Rage is than Whirling Frenzy.
Thank you for the analysis. No one in my group ever takes extra rage. We don't often have more than 4 encounters a day. There is not a lot of use of alt. class features, like lion totem, and no one uses whirling frenzy.

One thing you didn't mention was the addition of vitality surge. All in all I understand that the ability to trigger rage at full HP is really good, because you can start an encounter with all the bonuses. Berserker strength has all the same bonuses but they trigger at lower HP, which I attempted to offset the danger of such with a self healing ability.

If you crunch the damage numbers only I can see how rage is superior, but what about considering the whole package. The additional self sustained survivability can't be worth nothing.