-Unfortunately, "Breaking Things (Str)" isn't a real skill
Skills come in two flavors: Class skills and cross-class skills. The only difference is that if you have at least one skill point in a class skill, you get an untyped +3 bonus to that skill.
What does it matter? Just about nothing, except that it's often useful to put just one point in most of your class skills to get that +3 bonus.
- Tumbling for avoiding attacks of opportunity is the big draw here. Balance and jump checks are nice, as well.
- Negated by the ability to fly; semi-useful before that's an option.
- Unless you're thinking of picking up Master Craftsman
and Craft Magic Arms and Armor
don't bother. Hobgoblins wishing to create Hobgoblin War Draught should find a way to reliably hit the DC 15 Craft (Alchemy) check.
Handle Animal (Cha)
- Useful for avoiding unnecessary fights. Important
if you've got a mount you need to train yourself.
- You probably don't have the best Cha...unless you're going for an Intimidate build, in which case it's important
Knowledge (nature) (Int)
- Int is a dump stat, so be wary about putting points here. Campaign-specific; coordinate with your party and DM.
- You should be maxing this every level.
- Of course, if you're going for a mounted build, this is vital
- Not bad if your party needs a tracker; terrible if your group never follows trails.
- Negated by spells and magical items; semi-useful before they're available.
Notable Cross-Class Skills:
Any skill that can't be used untrained (the Knowledges, Disable Device, Spellcraft) is worth a look over if no one else in your party can use them. Mostly your points should be going into Perception, Acrobatics, and then your choice of Ride, Handle Animal, Intimidate, and Survival.
- Not bad for getting the drop on your opponents.
Use Magic Device
- Plenty of people can use it better, but it's too good a skill to ignore completely.
Natural Attacks, Unarmed Strikes, and Weapon Attacks
-"Of COURSE they're natural!"
Before I get into rage powers, it's a good idea to understand the difference between a natural attack, an unarmed strike, and a weapon attack
. My understanding of natural attacks originally came from Saph's Summoner's Handbook
, so credit where credit is due.
-Natural Attacks can be either Primary or Secondary.
-Primary natural attacks are made using your full base attack bonus and add your full Str modifier on a hit.
-Secondary natural attacks are made at your full base attack bonus -5 and add 1/2 your Str modifier on a hit.
---Example: You are a level 1 Medium Barbarian with a Str of 18 (modifier of 4) with a Bite and two Tentacles (somehow, not important). On a Full Attack, you can use all three, with a modifier of +5 on the bite attack (doing 1d6+4 damage on a hit) and +0 on each of the claw attacks (doing 1d4+2 damage per hit).
-If you only have one natural attack and use only it, you use your full base attack bonus on the attack and add 1.5 times your Str modifier on a hit.
---Example: You are a level 1 Medium Barbarian with a Str of 18 (modifier of 4) while raging. If you just have a Bite, your attack roll is 1(BAB)+4 (Str). Your bite does 1d6+6 (1.5 times your Str) damage.
-Natural attacks do not get iteratives
Combining Natural Attacks and Manufactured Attacks
-If you have both natural attacks and manufactured attacks, you can use both as part of a Full Attack action, but you cannot use any part of your body for more than one attack
(i.e. If you're holding an axe in your pincers, you can attack either with the axe or with the pincers, not both. If you have a one-handed axe in one pincer and the other pincer free, you can make one attack with the axe and one with the pincer), and the natural attack is made as a secondary attack
---Example: You are a level 1 Medium Barbarian with a Str of 18 while raging (modifier of 4), a Greatsword, and a Bite. You attack with the Greatsword at a modifier of +5, dealing 2d6+6 damage on a hit and the bite at a modifier of +0, doing 1d6+2 damage on a hit.
An Unarmed Strike
is not considered a natural attack for anyone but a Monk
. You cannot deal lethal damage with an unarmed strike unless you take the Improved Unarmed Strike feat.
Why do I care?
Because quite a few rage powers give or enhance natural attacks or unarmed strikes, it's important to know the difference between them and how they work.
In a campaign that will take place purely under level 6, natural attacks can be a viable damage source. It's pretty easy to get 3 natural attacks as a Barbarian, doing quite a bit of damage on a full attack.
After level 6, the battlefield starts changing, unfortunately, due to a number of factors.
- Iteratives - At level 6, a full BAB class like a Barbarian will get a second attack with his melee weapon.
- Damage Reduction - Multiple attacks don't look as nice when each of them is reduced by a flat amount. To breach damage reduction like DR/Cold Iron with natural attacks, you need at at least a +3 enhancement bonus on your attacks, while a Barbarian who uses manufactured weapons can just pull out a Cold Iron weapon.
- Magic Weapons - At level 6 and beyond, you should easily have access to a +1 or more magic weapon. Natural attack builds need an Amulet of Mighty Fists, which is 2.5 times as expensive per point of ehancement. With a DM who's trying to do a "low-magic" campaign setting, this might be different, but nine times out of ten you need to run as soon as you hear "low-magic campaign setting."
However, the bonus attacks are still a great source of damage output at low levels. I generally recommend picking up at least one natural attack from a part of your body other than your limbs - such as a bite - so that at all levels you get your full manufactured weapon attacks, plus a free attempt at some bonus damage from the natural weapon.
-The hell does a little old gnome know
Tips about rage powers
-Some rage powers function all the time
while you are raging. These are generally
the best rage powers, because you are not limited except by the number of rounds you can rage per day.
-Some rage powers function once per rage
; these are second because dropping your rage (before level 17) exhausts you, meaning you are generally only going to be using these once per combat. Of course, once you hit 17, you can use them, drop rage as a free action, start rage as a free action, and it's refreshed and ready to go! This also works if you are immune to exhaustion and fatigue through one means or another.
-Some rage powers function only once per day
. These are very limited rage powers and should be looked over carefully before taking them.
-Some rage powers function only after consuming alcoholic beverages
; these should be ignored unless your DM hand-waves the requirement as long as you personally consume the alcoholic beverages yourself
. Even then, though your character will gain benefits, your judgement may be impaired because of the OOC effects of alcohol
. [Always drink and game responsibly - Palanan]
-Many rage powers have prerequisites that may or may not be useless; consider if your character will ever be high enough level to gain the benefits of the end of the tree.
-Superstition is powerful and useful rage power that can potentially kill you; be very careful with its use, and talk with your party about its implications before taking it. Rage powers that require Superstition as a prerequisite have been marked.
Animal Fury (Ex)
- Not bad. A nice little bite attack. Prerequisite for Dragon Totem and Hive Totem rage power trees.
Auspicious Mark (Su)
- 1/rage ability to add +1d6 to any one roll of a d20. Its real value comes from the fact that you choose to use it after you see what you rolled. Rolled a 1 or a 20 on a save? Don't bother. Rolled 2 points away from a successful hit? Use it!
Beast Totem, Lesser (Su)
- Claw attacks; better if it's a low-level campaign that's never going to reach high levels. However, its real value is that it's a prerequisite for Beast Totem, Greater, which is one of the best in the game.
Beast Totem (Su)
- Scaling natural armor bonus; again, you're here for its big sister, Beast Totem, Greater.
Beast Totem, Greater (Su)
- Full Attack on a charge. Probably the best rage power in the game. Every Barbarian level 10 or above should have this.
Bestial Climber (Ex)
- Problem is, it comes in at level 6, by which point the Wizard should have Fly. If you lack a primary spellcaster, it has its uses in a mid-level campaign.
Bestial Leaper (Ex)
- If someone can find a reason to use this, I'll gladly add it. It's like a poor-man's Spring Attack, which is very poor indeed.
Bestial Swimmer (Ex)
- Unless you're in an aquatic campaign or your DM frequently throws submerged temples at you, avoid this.
Bleeding Blow (Ex)
- The only caveat that saves this rage power is that it gets around damage reduction, meaning it can save a party's life in very specific circumstances. Mostly, skip this one.
Boasting Taunt (Ex)
- Nice "tanking" ability for an Intimidate build, sort of like Iron Guard's Glare for any ToB fans out there. Note that the alcohol is just icing on the cake, not a requirement.
Body Bludgeon (Ex)
- This is the most amazing rage power ever written
, but should probably never be attempted in a real game
- There are ways to make unarmed strike Barbarians...but you really need to take Improved Unarmed Strike so that you meet prerequisites of other feats. The damage boost from 1d3 to 1d6 is nice, though.
Brawler, Greater (Ex)
- Most of the time, you're just going to want to take the feat.
Chaos Totem, Lesser (Su)
- Unless you're fighting Devils and Inevitables constantly, you're not getting much out of this.
Chaos Totem (Su)
- Light Fortification is always good; remember, crits kill characters. If you take an Archetype that replaces Uncanny Dodge/Improved Uncanny dodge, the chance to negate sneak attack helps, too.
Chaos Totem, Greater (Su)
- The DR is nice; the usefulness of chaotic-aligned attacks depends on your campaign.
Clear Mind (Ex)
- Reroll a Will Save 1/rage. You get to see the result before you choose to reroll.
Come and Get Me (Ex)
- Used correctly, this rage power can grant you a full attack routine when it's not even your turn. Its greatest strength is that it makes your AoO happen before
their attack hits, potentially killing them and avoiding the attack all together. Be careful about using this rage power in areas where creature with range or reach can take advantage of the extra damage without fear of counter-attack or when there are more opponents than you have AoO's.
Crippling Blow (Ex)
- Dealing ability damage can be very powerful. Works off Powerful Blow, a 1/rage ability, so this becomes even better if you can keep dropping and restarting your rage.
Deadly Accuracy (Ex)
- Not bad for a crit-fishing built, but there is better.
- This is very nice rage power, especially when coupled with feats like Step Up, allowing a Barbarian to be fairly effective at countering unoptimized spellcasters. Note that it requires Superstition, so coordinating with your party is a must.
Dragon Totem (Su)
- Not a bad rage power on its own. Remember that it scales if you take the other two.
Dragon Totem Resilience (Su)
- This power
depends on how you read it. If it really means you get +2 DR/- for every Dragon Totem rage power, this is great
. If it just means your DR is treated as two higher for the purposes of your energy resistance, it remains just OK.
Dragon Totem Wings (Su)
- Flight is almost a necessity at high levels. It costs quite a bit in terms of rage rounds, but if you use it wisely, it's amazing.
Eater of Magic (Su)
- Reroll a save 1/rage after you've failed it
, and you gain temporary HP if you succeed the second time. Requires Superstition, so best after rage-cycling is available or with good party coordination.
Elemental Rage, Lesser (Su)
- Nice for crit-fishing and natural attack builds because both of them are hoping for a high number of attacks. Helps that it can be used in conjunction with Elemental Rage.
Elemental Rage (Su)
- Very nice that you can switch it at the beginning of a rage; switch it around to whatever you're facing isn't immune or resistant to.
Elemental Rage, Greater (Su)
- Excellent for crit-fishing builds, not quite as good
for everyone else.
Energy Resistance (Ex)
- I would not recommend picking this up unless you know you're going to be facing a lot of the same kind of element ("Hey guys, this next campaign is taking place on the Elemental Plane of Fire!").
Energy Resistance, Greater (Ex)
- Its main saving grace is that it halves the damage before
resistance is factored in.
Energy Absorption (Su)
- By the time you can get this, it's worthless. You should be using rage powers on better.
Energy Eruption (Su)
- Again, by level 16, you've got most of the rage power trees ripe for the picking. Get your DM to port in the Dragonfire Adept if you want a breath weapon.
Fearless Rage (Ex)
- Comes a little late, but these are common status conditions you want to avoid.
Ferocious Mount (Ex)
- Amazing for Mounted Barbarian builds, will quickly outlive its usefulness for others. Lets your mount share the rage-love.
Ferocious Mount, Greater (Ex)
- Again, if you're going for a Mounted Barbarian route, this is basically doubling the effectiveness of your rage powers.
Ferocious Trample (Ex)
- Wonderful for dealing with multiple opponents while mounted. Combine with the Trample feat for OPness.
Ferocious Trample, Greater (Ex)
- By now, you're probably fighting Large creatures, so this is quite the boon.
Fiend Totem, Lesser (Su)
- It's a bonus natural attack, so it's not bad, but I prefer Animal Fury because it's a prerequisite for Dragon Totem, while the Fiend Totem line never gives anything as useful as wings.
Fiend Totem (Su)
- Stack it with armor spikes and Come and Get me for...mediocre damage.
Fiend Totem, Greater (Su)
- Well, there's no listed save for the shaken condition, but in most games at least one of your allies is going to be Good or Neutral. It's got potential for a BBEG, I guess.
Flesh Wound (Ex)
- You have to wait until you see the damage...and make a Fortitude save...which your armor check penalty applies to? It's not the worst thing I've ever seen, but it's still not worth your time.
Ghost Rager (Su)
- Not bad. The bonus to touch AC should help regularly, while the ability to hit incorporeal creatures will probably trivialize a few encounters. Requires Superstition, so be careful.
Good for What Ails You (Ex)
- Not bad. Go blind? Take a drink and you're good to go until the rage ends. Also, there's no limit to the number of times you can try per rage, making this an effective way of removing poison.
Ground Breaker (Ex)
- I love this rage power. It's two crowd-control methods rolled into one;
Ground Breaker, Greater (Ex)
- If you're taking Ground Breaker, I recommend taking this at least once to make it hard for opponents to five-foot step out of your difficult terrain. Remember this also increases the radius of where enemies will be affected.
Guarded Life (Ex)
- This one made me go and re-read the rules on non-lethal damage. This a potentially life-saving power, not so much for the stabilization, but for the conversion to non-lethal damage that scales with Barbarian level.
Guarded Life, Greater (Ex)
- Not bad; if you find yourself in a rough campaign where Guarded Life is being activated frequently, this can give an even bigger boost to your survival chances.
Guarded Stance (Ex)
- Dodge bonuses are great, but these only apply to melee attacks and require a move action to activate. Most of the time, I would prefer Beast Totem, as it scales faster anyway.
[COLOR="DarkOrange)"]Hive Totem (Su)[/color] - I don't feel like swarms are a common enough to make this great, but the bonus against trip is semi-useful.
Hive Totem Resilience (Su)
- Again, swarms aren't the biggest threat in my experience, but if your Druid loves to summon swarms all the time, this will help you play nice with them.
Hive Totem Toxicity (Su)
- This I really like. It can potentially do 12 points of Con damage, the save scales off of your Con and your Barbarian level, and you don't have to activate it until the bite has already hit. Plus, it's a bite attack, meaning you can use it during a full attack with your weapon.
Hurling, Lesser (Ex)
- Lets you throw objects and deal damage as if it was a falling object
. It has some very nice things going for it (you can Power Attack with it, it adds your Str to damage, it's a ranged touch attack
), but remember they get a Reflex save for half. It's also a full-round action.
- It's a step up in damage. If you find yourself chucking boulders frequently, go for it.
Hurling, Greater (Ex)
- Again, for the Medium Barbarian, this means you're lifting objects larger than yourself and throwing them at enemies. You'll do more damage by whacking them with a Greatsword repeatedly, but which is cooler?
"]Hurling Charge (Ex)[/color] - Throw a weapon at an enemy while charging. If your never going to get Pounce, then this is the next best thing
; carry a set of throwing axes.
Increased Damage Reduction (Ex)
- It's a nice increase to your damage reduction. The biggest bonus is if you already have Dragon Totem Resilience, which scales off of your DR.
Inspire Ferocity (Ex)
- Like Reckless Abandon, the biggest benefit is that the bonus to attack rolls is untyped; however, you're not likely to have the biggest CHA bonus in the world. Slightly better for Rage Prophet builds.
Internal Fortitude (Ex)
- Nauseated is a terrible condition; situationally useful. Becomes amazing
if your DM allows you to get a A Flawed Scarlet and Green Cabochon
. Rage-cycling for one rage power and 8000g? Do it.
Intimidating Glare (Ex)
- One of the foundations of Intimidate-builds. Remember that if you Intimidate a shaken creature, it becomes frightened.
- Rare for a rage power, it's useful 1/round. Str damage on a successful Bull Rush is nice, but there's a bit of a RAW question: The text says that the movement does not provoke an AoO, but Greater Bullrush
says that whenever you Bullrush an opponent, it provokes an AoO from your allies. Either way, the crowd control is very nice.
- Another great crowd-control option, but unfortunately only 1/rage. Once you can rage-cycle, this gets even better.
Lethal Accuracy (Ex)
- For many builds, this is a significant investment in resources that might be too much for what you get; for crit-fishing builds, this great
Liquid Courage (Ex)
- Bonuses to saves are nice, but bonuses that require you to spend actions drinking are not. Rage-cycling Superstition is far better.
Low-Light Vision (Ex)
- A Dull Gray Ioun Stone with Continutal Flame cast on it shouldn't cost much more than 225g.
Mighty Swing (Ex)
- Once a rage auto-confirm a crit. Very nice
for crit-fishers, though.
Moment of Clarity (Ex)
- You're a Barbarian. Why are you spending resources to not
rage? Well, the main reason is to get into the Rage Prophet prestige class. Other than that, you're probably better looking elsewhere
Night Vision (Ex)
- Slightly better than Low-Light Vision, but generally unnecessary.
No Escape (Ex)
- I love this rage power, but I (and the DMs I've played with) tend to have mooks run from hopeless fights.
Overbearing Advance (Ex)
- I'm generally not a big fan of Overrun, but this is very nice
for Mounted Barbarians with Greater Ferocious Mount and Greater Ferocious Trample.
Overbearing Onslaught (Ex)
- If you find your opponents lining up like pins, waiting to be knocked down, then this is great. If not...Greater/Ferocious trample are generally superior.
Perfect Clarity (Ex)
- Miss chance is a terrible foe, but giving up the benefits of your rage in order to do so hurts.
Powerful Blow (Ex)
- It's a minor damage boost. It gets much better after you can rage-cycle and if you pick up Crippling Blow.
Primal Scent (Ex)
- Not bad if you're fighting invisible creatures regularly.
Quick Reflexes (Ex)
- Syncs well with rage powers that grant attacks of opportunity. Even without them, it's a solid choice.
Raging Climber (Ex); Raging Leaper (Ex); Raging Swimmer (Ex)
- I'll take on all of these at once; if you find yourself using them frequently, they're worth a look, but you're probably better off with other options. Climbing and jumping are both ultimately replaced with flight.
Reckless Abandon (Ex)
- This is best in a situation where you're receiving as few attacks as possible; against a "boss" who is probably hitting every time anyway, the AC penalty is negligible, and the attack roll bonus (note that it's untyped) is more useful than against mooks who you can probably hit regularly anyway.
Reflexive Dodge (Ex)
- You've got a low Reflex save; this can help fix that.
Regenerative Vigor (Ex)
- The big problem here is that it lasts until your current rage ends, making rage-cycling a no-go; however, if you use Renewed Vigor at the end of the day and use all of your remaining rounds of rage, you could heal a significant chunk of damage.
Renewed Life (Ex)
- If you've already sunk two rage powers into the tree, pick this one up; potentially a life-saver in combat against a spellcaster or a vampire.
Renewed Vigor (Ex)
- I like the healing rage powers because they give a Barbarian more options in combat, but most of the time you're probably better pooling with your party for a wand of cure light wounds. The real killer is that it's only once per day. If your party has no healing options whatsoever, you might get some mileage out of it
Renewed Vitality (Ex)
- The bonus saving throw is what really sells me on this rage power; ignore it until you've got time to deal with it. I take a -6 penalty to my Str from Bestow Curse? Not until you're dead, I don't!
Roaring Drunk (Ex)
- Basically alcohol problems. Using up actions to gain minor bonuses to Intimidate is not optimal. Just use your actions for additional Intimidate checks.
Rolling Dodge (Ex)
- Slightly better than Guarded Stance because it's a prerequisite to Reflexive Dodge, but you're still trading actions for a small bonus. Use your move action to get to the ranged attacker and give them an axe in the face.
Roused Anger (Ex)
- If you're never going to get high enough level to properly rage-cycle, this is the next best thing.
- Useful in-combat against invisible foes and out-of-combat to track trails.
Sharpened Accuracy (Ex)
- Ignore miss-chance once a rage.
- Break down doors, open chests...this is how a Barbarian smashes the world around him.
Spell Sunder (Su)
- Hit a spell so hard you break it with your axe
. Great for post-battle dispels. Requires Superstition.
- If you've already got Disruptive, this is the next step to hurting casters. Not entirely necessary, but fun.
Spirit Steed (Su)
- It's another mounted feat, meaning it's much better
if you're optimizing around being mounted. You mount gets a bit of easily ignored DR, and its attacks count as magical for ignoring DR.
Spirit Totem, Lesser (Su)
- It's free damage, but it's not big damage. Better
in the low levels of a campaign where 1d4+CHA damage has a chance of killing an enemy outright.
Spirit Totem (Su)
- Miss chance is great, plus it affects creatures larger than you trying to hit you with reach.
Spirit Totem, Greater (Su)
- Again, minor but consistent damage to living foes nearby.
- I don't see this getting much use, especially with the base movement speed bonuses a Barbarian gets anyway. Might be fun for setting some kind of Pathfinder land speed record.
Staggering Drunk (Ex)
- Because Barbarians are always casting spells and provoking attacks of opportunity?
Strength Surge (Ex)
- 1/rage, add your Barbarian level to a combat maneuver check or to your CMD. Great synergy with abilities like Knockdown and Spell Sunder. Once you can rage-cycle, this is just mean.
Sunder Enchantment (Su)
- The big advantage here is that you can suppress a magical item without destroying it completely. Requires Superstition.
- This rage power is both blue
. On the one hand, it's a tasty, scaling boost to your saves and opens up a number of useful rage-power chains. On the other, it forces you attempt to save against every spell your party drops on you. If you've got a reliable source of rage-cycling, or a coordinated and understanding party that will drop buffs on you before you enter your rage, this is a wonderful rage power. If not, it's potentially life-threatening (if your party can't buff and heal you in combat).
Surprise Accuracy (Ex)
- By itself, it's not that great of a rage power (1/rage boost to an attack roll), but it has some nice rage powers that require it.
Swift Foot (Ex)
- You're already getting a +10 bonus to your base land speed. How much more do you really need? If you have Dragon Totem Wings, your flight speed is based off your base land speed, making this a better
choice. World Serpent Totem Unity is another good choice for a speed boost.
Terrifying Howl (Ex)
- So sexy for Intimidate builds. Remember that Intimidating Glare is a move action while Terrifying Howl is a standard, meaning as a full-round action you can (Ex) Fear someone.
Unexpected Strike (Ex)
- It's Pathfinder's Thicket of Blades once you can rage-cycle.
Witch Hunter (Ex)
- It's a minor bonus to damage, but remember it works on anything with even a spell-like ability, meaning just about every Fey, Outsider, Dragon, and many Monstrous Humanoids and Abberations are going to be taking bonus damage (not to mention gnomes; tee hee hee). Requires Superstition.
World Serpent Totem (Su)
- Outsiders are frequent foes, but a minor AC boost isn't always the best way to fight them.
World Serpent Spirit (Su)
- Cutting through 4 kinds of damage reduction for one rage power? I can dig it.
World Serpent Totem Unity (Su)
- Never get knocked prone again AND double your fast movement bonus, plus some other minor bonuses.
*It's difficult to pull off, and you have to be level 10 before you even pick it up, but if you pull off this ability in a game, I will add your name to this optimization guide. If, in a real game, you level a Barbarian 1-10, pick this rage power, and dual-wield enemy gnomes in combat, calling them "Gnome-Chucks," and provide proof of your epic deed, I will mail you a cookie if you live in the continental United States.