Pathfinder - Unchained Barbarian Rage Powers Breakdown
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.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.
The Unchained Barbarian also brought updates to several Rage Powers, including the introduction of new "Stance" rage powers. Many of stances replace rage powers from the core rulebook which were only usable once per rage like Surprise Accuracy, which removes the need for Rage Cycling. A lot of lousy rage powers were reduced from once per rage to once per day. This was likely to address the issue of Rage Cycling, which made those powers viable. Now, instead, they've gone from "occasionally useful for power-gamers" to "never useful for anyone, ever."
For Rage Powers which weren't updated, see my Rage Powers Breakdown.
Accurate Stance (Ex): This negates the attack penalty imposed by Power Attack. It's not terribly exciting, but when you just want to hit stuff with the biggest pile of numbers you can get, it's perfect.
Auspicious Mark (Su): Updated from the original version to include a scaling fixed bonus on top of the d6. Pretty good, but not essential.
Bleeding Blow (Ex): This is a tiny amount of damage. Barbarians are all about huge spikes of damage, not about tiny damage-over-time effects.
Calm Stance (Ex): You know how the Barbarian's biggest draw is the offensive bonuses from Rage? Yeah, how do you feel about spending the equivalent of a feat to ignore them?
Clear Mind (Ex): Less effective than the original version, but it no longer requires an immediate action, which is great if you get hit with multiple effects in a single turn. You'll need to spend a turn being hypnotized/mind controlled/charmed/paralyzed, but then you can go right back to murdering. Eater of Magic is still better.
Crippling Blow (Ex): The original version was frustrating because it was only usable once per rage and had a prerequisite. This version is worse because it's only usable once per day, and the damage hasn't improved. No save is nice, but not when this caps at 5 ability damage it's not enough to make it viable.
Deadly Accuracy (Ex): Updated to work with Accurate Stance (which is good) instead of Surprise Accuracy (which is garbage until you can Rage Cycle), so it's considerably more useful. Your attack bonus should still be absurdly high, even compared to a Fighter due to your high BAB, crazy Strength, and Rage bonus, so you almost certainly don't need this to reliably confirm criticals hits.
Eater of Magic (Su): This protects you from a huge set of abilities, and the extra temporary hit points stack with your Rage temporary hit points. You get half as many hit points as the old version, but the reroll by itself is good enough to make this Blue, so the temporary hp is just frosting.
Elemental Stance (Su): The damage just isn't good enough compared to a typical Barbarian's huge pile of static-number damage.
Energy Absorption (Su): Now only usable once per day instead of once per rage, and still limited to attacks, so spells and abilities like breath weapons still work on you. More temporary hit points than the original, but that's not nearly enough.
Energy Resistance (Ex): Permanent, scaling energy resistance, and eventually you get a pool of points with which to ignore the energy type, as Protection from Energy. It's hard to guess which energy type to select, but Fire is solid bet.
Fearless Rage (Ex): Rage gives you a +2 bonus to your will saves, and fear effects are among the least lethal in the game. This version is updated to specify that you canstill be Panicked, but isn't actually different.
Flesh Wound (Ex): No more ACP to your save, but reduced to once per day instead of once per rage.
Ground Breaker (Ex): Downgraded from a standard action to a full-round action, but at least you don't have to roll to attack the ground now.
Guarded Stance (Ex): AC really isn't in the normal Barbarian's wheelhouse, but an Armored Hulk might enjoy this.
Increased Damage Reduction (Ex): 2 more DR is quite a bit, and taking this 3 times can make you exceptionally hard to kill.
Inspire Ferocity (Ex): This could be useful in a party with lots of martial characters, but most characters who will be close to you will probably want to keep their AC as high as possible. No longer tied to Charisma, and no longer requires a move action to share the bonus.
Intimidating Glare (Ex): Fear stacking is a fantastic mechanic, but Barbarians have trouble using it becuase they typically dump Charisma. Using Strength instead is a major improvement over the original abilty, not to mention that the duration now last the length of your Rage, allowing you to demoralize foes early in the fight, then spend the rest of your rage murdering them.
Knockback (Ex): The original version reads "The barbarian does not need to move with the target", while the new version only says "The barbarian doesn't move with the target." This is a minor downgrade, but it's still a downgrade.
Knockdown Stance (Ex): Improved Trip once per round without the difficult feat prerequisites. Tripping enemies in melee grants you some significant advantages, so it's a great option for the Barbarian.
Lethal Accuracy (Ex): Requires both Accurate Stance and Deadly Accuracy, and prevents you from using either, which is frustrating. Of course, but the time you can get this your static-number damage bonus is probably big enough that taking your Falchion from x2 to x3 critical is probably a good payoff.
Mighty Swing (Ex): Once per day isn't enough to justify nearly any rage power. Get the Critical Focus feat and/or Deadly Accuracy instead.
Night Vision (Ex): Updated to improve existing Darkvision. Nice, but easily available as a spell.
Perfect Clarity (Ex): Highly situational.
Powerful Stance (Ex): The damage doesn't scale fast enough to compete with the potential effects of Accurate Stance.
Protect Vitals (Ex): Highly situational.
Raging Climber (Ex): Potions of Spider Climb cost 50gp. Still, this is miles better than the original.
Raging Leaper (Ex): Jumping is silly in a game where flight is readily accessible. Still, this is miles better than the original.
Raging Swimmer (Ex): If you're in a game where you need a swim speed, you need a swim speed all of the time, not just while ragin. Still, this is miles better than the original.
Reckless Stance (Ex): Accurate stance is strictly better. Inspire Ferocity makes this a bit better, but that depends heavil on the makeup of your party.
Reflexive Dodge (Ex): Very helpful if your Reflex saves are low, and the scaling is decent.
Regenerative Stance (Ex): The Barbarian has always been a big, squishy bag of hit points. With low AC, they tend to lose a lot of hit points very quickly, then depend on healing after every fight. The Unchained Barbarian's temporary hit points go a long way to address this issue, and the ability to regenerate points contributes even more. However, the temporary hp regeneration is slow, and you're probably better served by an offensive stance which allows you to end a fight more quickly in order to prevent more potential damage.
Renewed Vitality (Ex): Situational.
Roused Anger (Ex): This hasn't changed from the original version, but I've included it because it has been made completely useless now that Rage Cycling doesn't matter.
Sharpened Accuracy (Ex): This is a really fantastic way to handle things like invisible creatures. If you pick up Scent, you can locate creatures and kill them without too much effort. Of course, you could also pay someone to give you permanent See Invisibility.
Shove Aside (Ex): Situational, but since charging is a big part of being a Barbarian, it's a situation that comes up a lot.
Shove Aside, Greater (Ex): If you have more than one ally in the way, your best bet may be to delay your turn until your allies can move around.
Smasher (Ex): No longer limited to once per rage, but if you want to ignore hardness you can go buy an adamantine weapon.
Sprint (Ex): If you need extra range on your charges, consider Boots of Striding and Springing, find someone to cast Longstrider on you, or pick up Swift Foot.
Strength Stance (Ex): This is great for Barbarians who like to use combat maneuvers. Unfortunately, you can't combine it with Knockdown Stance, so a build related to Sunder or Dirty Trick is probably your best bet.
Superstition (Ex): Still fantastic. The only change from the original version is that the bonus is now a Competence bonus instead of a morale bonus so the bonus stacks better with Rage.
Swift Foot (Ex): Speed is nice, but since this is an enhancement bonus it won't stack with Boots of Striding and Springing.
Taunting Stance (Ex): Depending on how your GM runs things, this can be either incomaprably powerful, or completely worthlss. A reasonable interpretation is that enemies might attack you early in the fight, then gradually realize that it's a trap and try to move on to easier targets. Be sure to pick up Combat Reflexes.
Terrifying Howl (Ex): Intimidating Glare can be used as a move action, then you can use Terrifying Howl to immediately make the target Panicked, causing them to flee, and giving you 1d4+1 rounds to chase them down and kill them while they are unable to fight back.
Unexpected Strike (Ex): This allows you to respond if enemies charge you before you can charge them, and it works very well for Defender builds.
Witch Hunter (Ex): Too situational.