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Pathfinder - The Barbarian Handbook

Disclaimer

I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.

Introduction

The Barbarian is a Defender and Striker on par with the Fighter, but where the Fighter depends on feats and careful tactics, the Barbarian depends on getting angry and hitting things. The Barbarian has a tendency to be a glass cannon despite their formidable hit points because they go through hit points to quickly, so be sure to bring a healer along, and invest in wands of Cure Light Wounds for cheap healing between encounters.

The concept of "Rage Cycling" is mentioned in many Barbarian discussions. Rage Cycling the practice of ending a rage and immediately starting a new one. This is impossible for a normal Barbarian because ending a rage makes the Barbarian fatigued, so Rage Cycling depends on immunity to fatigue. Rage Cycling is not essential by any means, but it opens up some interesting options with Rage Powers which only function once per rage.

This guide is for the vanilla Barbarian. For the Unchained Barbarian, see my Barbarian Handbook.

Barbarian Class Features

Hit Points: The only class with d12 hit points.

Base Attack Bonus: Full BAB.

Saves: Good Fortitude saves, but Reflex Saves and Will saves are frequently problems for Barbarians.

Proficiencies: Martial weapons, medium armor, and shields offer the Barbarian plenty of options.

Skills: 4+ skill ranks, but very few useful skills, and Intelligence is often a dump stat.

Fast Movement (Ex): Nice for charging, and it keeps your speed at 30 feet in medium armor.

Rage (Ex): The Barbarian's signature ability.

Rage Powers (Ex): Rage Powers offer a large number of fun ways to customize your Barbarian. For help selecting Rage Powers, see my Barbarian Rage Power Breakdown.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Situational

Trap Sense (Ex): Very situational.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Very situational.

Damage Reduction (Ex): A fantastic answer to the Barbarian's tendency to die to large numbers of weak attacks.

Greater Rage (Ex): A linear improvement to Rage.

Indomitable Will (Ex): Situational, but Enchantment spells are among the scariest in the game, and Dominate Person on a Barbarian has led to the end of numerous parties.

Tireless Rage (Ex): A bit late in the game to see any real use, but Tireless Rage allows you Rage Cycle without any real effort to work it into your build.

Mighty Rage (Ex): Another linear improvement to Rage.

Abilities

The Barbarian is all about melee combat, and its abilities reflect this.

Str: Barbarians are all about melee, and even weird ranged Barbarian builds require a huge pile of Strength.

Dex: With only medium armor, Dexterity is an essential part of the Barbarian's AC.

Con: Because Barbarians tend to have low AC (especially when they're raging), you need a lot of Constitution to boost the Barbarian's hit points.

Int: Dump to 8, or 7 if you absolutely need to. Barbarians have very few useful skills.

Wis: Essential for the Barbarian's poor Will saves.

Cha: Dump to 7 unless you plan to use Intimidate.

25 Point Buy 20 Point Buy 15 Point Buy Elite Array
  • Str: 18
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 10
  • Wis: 12
  • Cha: 7
  • Str: 17
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 8
  • Wis: 13
  • Cha: 7
  • Str: 17
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 7
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 7
  • Str: 15
  • Dex: 13
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 10
  • Wis: 12
  • Cha: 8

Races

Strength bonuses are essential, and medium size is strongly recommended.

Dwarf: An excellent Defensive option, the Dwarf is offers a lot of things that go a long way to keep the Barbarian alive. The Dwarf favored class bonus grants some much-needed rage rounds.

Elf: The Elf has nothing to do with the Barbarian.

Gnome: Strength Penalty, and no useful abilities.

Half-Elf: Nothing really useful except the flexible ability score bonus.

Half-Orc: A flexible ability bonus, Darkvision, some cool racial abilities, and extra rage rounds as a favored class bonus.

Halfling: Strength Penalty, and no useful abilities.

Human: Always a good option, but the Human favored class bonus is garbage.

Traits

Skills

Feats

Weapons

Armor

Armor is presented in the order in which you should acquire it, rather than alphabetical order.

Magic Items

Weapons

Armor/Shields

Rings

Wands

Wondrous Items

Permanent Spells

Multiclassing and Prestige Classes