Pathfinder - Titan Mauler Barbarian Handbook
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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.
The Titan Mauler is all about wielding the biggest weapon which they can physically lift and swing. That's normally a poor trade because the attack penalties are high and the extra damage is small, but the Titan Mauler improves the trade-off gradually, but the penalties don't fully disappear until 18th level, and in that time a normal Barbarian has been much more effective in most cases.
But let's also consider Vital Strike. Vital Strike functions best when you use the biggest weapon you can swing. Conveniently, that's exactly what the Titan Mauler is built to do. This is truly a match made in Paizo heaven.
This build is easy. It's very easy. It requires a stunningly small number of feats, one magic item (your weapon), and access to Enlarge Person by one or more methods. This leaves a ton of flexibility in your build for feats, rage powers, and other considerations.
Unchained or Vanilla Barbarian?
In this case, either option works. The difference between the vanilla Barbarian's Strength bonus and the Unchained Barbarian's flat attack/damage bonus amounts to roughly 1 damage per attack (maybe 2 depending on your original Strength score). This biggest difference is which version of rage powers you want.
Barbarian Class Features
Hit Points: The biggest and the best available. You're going to want to pile on constitution, too, because your AC is going to be a bit of a problem.
Base Attack Bonus: Fast progression, same as any primarily combat character. Between this and Rage, Barbarians routinely have higher attack bonuses than Fighters, even accounting for Weapon Focus.
Saves: You get good Fortitude saves, so you will need to put some points into Dexterity and Wisdom to make sure your other saves don't make you too vulnerable.
Proficiencies: No heavy armor, but you won't really want it slowing you down anyway.
Skills: Barbarians get 4+ skill points, which is odd because they're not smart enough to know how to read. Take Perception, Survival, Intimidate if you plan to use it, and Acrobatics. Acrobatics may seem like an odd choices, but it's a good way to avoid attacks of opportunity, and it includes the ability to Jump now, which may become important for you.
Rage (Ex): Most barbarians see the number of rage rounds as a problematic limitation. The Titan Mauler can rage for a single round, obliterate the biggest enemy in the room, then spend the rest of the encounter lazily eliminating whatever is left while fatigued with little issue.
Rage Powers (Ex): Rage powers don't play a crucial role in the build, but they can provide helpful bonuses to make you more reliable. Surprise Accuracy or Accurate Stance provide a scaling bonus to your attacks which will help keep you well ahead of the AC progression curve. Depending on whether you went Unchained or vanilla, different rage powers will be appealing. Because Vital Strike allows you to so easily kill enemies in a single blow (especially with Furious Finish), powers which only function once per rage become extremely viable.
Damage Reduction (Ex): Always welcome. A lot of your gold will be sunk into your weapon, which may make it difficult to keep your defensive stats high.
Greater Rage (Ex): More stats!.
Tireless Rage (Ex): Now you can rage cycle without shenanigans. Every round should start with rage, and end with Furious Finish and a dead enemy.
Mighty Rage (Ex): Even more stats!.
Big Game Hunter (Ex): Situational, especially if you plan to use Enlarge Person. And you should really plan to use Enlarge Person. At high levels when enemies are more consistently large, this becomes easier to use, but a +1 bonus really isn't going to matter much at the levels where you face the biggest foes.
Jotungrip (Ex): Jotungrip allows you to wield an appropriately sized two-handed weapon in one hand, which means you can wield a Greatsword or a two-handed polearm in one hand at a -2 penalty. This does not allow you to wield oversized weapons (such as a Large Bastard Sword) any better. You could always dual-wield greatswords, which would look super cool at the expense of actually hitting things. It's useful for a barbarian class dip if you want to do something like using a reach weapon and a shield at the same time, but that's a very niche case.
Massive Weapons (Ex): The wording on this ability is awful, so I'll clarify: You can use a two-handed weapon for a creature one size larger than you (such as a human wielding a large greatsword), but at an additional -4 penalty on top of the -2 for using a weapon one size category off. That's a total -6 penalty to attacks. However, the penalty is reduced by 1 at 3rd level and at every 3rd level until the penalty reaches 0 at 18th level. That's a lot of penalty and you don't get a lot of extra damage, so don't try to use this unless you're high level or using Vital strike. If you use a weapon that's oversized but not a two-handed weapon for a creature one size larger then you (such as a human wielding a large bastard sword), you start from the normal -2 penalty and reduce it to -1 at 3rd level, then to 0 at 6th level.
Evade Reach (Ex): It's a very good day when you have reach, but the giant/dragon/dinosaur you're fighting doesn't. Of course, you're going to charging into melee where this will only matter for the first round or two. Unless you're built to make a lot of attacks of opportunity (which this archetype doesn't help with), this won't be very important.
Titanic Rage (Su): Burning through your rage rounds at double speed sucks. At this level you should have enough gold that you can afford to chug potions of Enlarge Person whenever you get thirsty. If you have a wizard handy, they can use a wand on you, or you can use Permanency and be permanently large for a measly 2,500 gp, which any decent Barbarian should be doing anyway unless they spend a lot of time in cramped dungeons.
Totem Barbarian technically counts, but you get that for free. There are no other compatible archetypes, and you don't need them.
The Titan Mauler's abilities are no different from a conventional Barbarian. Emphasize Strength as much as possible, but keep your Dexterity and Constitution passable to keep yourself alive.
Your race matters fairly little. A Strength bonus is nice, but not crucial. The only crucial point is that you should be medium size. Slow speed should be avoided most of the time since the Titan Mauler doesn't get Fast Movement, but that still doesn't makes dwarf a bad choice. Without the need for extra rage rounds, you have more flexibility to look for favored class bonuses that provide other benefits.
Your choice of traits doesn't matter much for the core of the build, so pick up traits which complement secondary concerns. Get extra class skills, improve your saves, or look for other stuff.
Your skills really don't matter for the purpose of this build. Pick up whatever works for your party.
- Armor Proficiency, Heavy: Without the ability to charge, you really need the movement speed provided by light armor.
- Extra Rage: You'll be raging in short bursts and you may have trouble using all of your rage rounds before looking for ways to get more of them.
- Extra Rage Power: Rage Powers are fantastic, and many will be more useful than a feat. The Titan Mauler needs a tiny number of feats, leaving you lots of room to play with Rage Powers.
- Fleet: 5 feet isn't much, but without Fast Movement and without the ability to rely on charging, 5 feet may make a difference.
- Improved Critical: Critical hits don't do much to improve Vital Strike, but you definitely have the feats to spare for this.
- Vital Strike: Double weapon damage.
- Furious Finish: The first feat you want after Vital Strike. RAW it appears that this applies to all of your damage dice (flaming, vicious, sneak attack, extra critical hit damage, etc.) rather than just the weapon's damage dice. I think RAI it's intended to just be the weapon damage dice, but consult your DM. Either way, it's a massive boost in damage because you go from dealing roughly average damage to roughly double average damage.
- Improved Vital Strike: Triple weapon damage.
- Greater Vital Strike: Quadruple weapon damage.
- Devastating Strike: This feat is severely limited by the +6 damage bonus cap. If not for this limit, this feat would be the most important feat in the Vital Strike chain. Still, +6 damage with no penalty is pretty great. Note that bonus is only on extra damage dice rolled, so make sure that you get at least three extra damage dice as quickly as possible.
- Improved Devastating Strike: You really don't need to care about critical hits.
- Power Attack: Take this at 1st level.
- Furious Focus: Every attack is your first attack in a round, so you always ignore the attack penalty. Take this, and hit every time.
- Reckless Rage: Scale the Power Attack penalty and damage up one step. Consider this after you get Furious Focus so this becomes 3 free damage.
- Weapon Focus: More attack bonus never hurts, and you may have spare feats, but I would pick up Extra Rage Power to get Surprise Accuracy or Accurate Stance before I looked at this.
The Titan Mauler's best weapons are the ones with the biggest damage dice, which leaves us few competetive options.
- Bastard Sword: Normally the go-to for vital strike, but Titan Mauler can pick up a large greatsword instead.
- Greataxe / Greatsword: Your best option.
- Horsechopper: Not particularly useful for the Titan Mauler's core function, but other characters can take a class dip to pick up Jotungrip to wield two-handed weapons in one hand. That's great for characters looking to play an area defender who don't want to give up using a shield.
- Studded Leather: Starting armor if you plan to use light armor.
- Hide: Starting armor if you plan to use medium armor.
- Mithral Breastplate: All the AC of medium armor and none of the reduced speed, but it's fairly expensive.
- Impact (+2): Essential for any Vital Strike build. Rush to get this as soon as you can, but I don't expect you to be able to afford this until 8th or 9th level when a +3 weapon is worth roughly half of a character's expected wealth at that level.
- Vicious (+1): You make attacks so infrequently that the 1d6 self-damage won't be a big issue, and with Furious Finish this gives you 12 more damage for a +1 enhancement.
- Animated (+2): You're going to have unused move actions frequently, which gives you a lot of opportunity to activate an animated shield.
- Celestial Armor (22,400 gp): Unless you have heavy armor proficiency and a Dexterity modifier of at most +5, Celestial Armor is the best armor in the game if all you need from your armor is AC. For more, check out my Practical Guide to Celestial Armor.
- Belt of Physical Ability Scores: You'll want one, but it's not especially crucial for the build.
- Boots of Speed: You get almost nothing from Haste.
- Boots of Striding and Springing: Without Fast Movement, these provide an important improvement to your move speed. You can't rely on charging, so your move speed needs to be high to compensate.
- Cloak of Resistance: Too crucial to forego.
- Quick Runner's Shirt: A bargain, and when your move speed isn't quite enough this can get you in range to use Vital Strike.
- Enlarge Person: Totally ignoring the ability score changes and the extra reach, Enlarge Person is central to the build because it provides a size increase, which in turn provides a significant boost in your damage output with Vital Strike.
Example Build - Vital Strike Titan Mauler
I don't know how I got this sword through that door.
As discussed above, the purpose of this build is to get a gigantic weapon and use Vital Strike to kill stuff. There aren't many feats that you absolutely need to make the build work, so I'll leave a number of open slots in the build with some recommendations for what you might put in them.
The build really takes off at level 7 when we pick up Vital Strike. Before then, it's a fairly normal Barbarian build. I'll list an attack line at each level to indicate what your attack will look like at that level. I'll disregard rage and magic items (except for your weapon) in this information, so remember that this is a base line and your actual attack and damage may be considerably better.
Our favored class bonus doesn't matter much. I would pick up extra hit points.
Our precise ability scores don't matter much, but we'll assume 18 Strength at first level so that I can use it to do math.
Any race will do. Human is usually great for the bonus feat, but we can't get most of the feats we care about until BAB +6, so the feat is much less useful. I'll skip specifying a race, and leave that decision up to you.
Skill don't matter for these build.
Your choice of traits doesn't matter much for the build.
|Level||Feat(s) and Features||Notes and Tactics|
|1 - Barbarian 1|| || |
At this level you're a totally normal Barbarian, even if you walk a little slower. Grab a greatsword, rage, and use Power Attack.
Attack: Greatsword +4 2d6+9 (Avg. 16)
|2 - Barbarian 2|| || |
This is where class dippers disembark. If you'd like, you can pick up your greatsword and a shield at the same time.
Your choice of rage power doesn't matter much, and you'll get two more by the time you pick up Vital Strike, so you've got room to play. I recommend getting Surprise Accuracy or Accurate Stance depending on whether you wen vanilla or unchained, but at this level the bonus is only +1 so feel free to delay until your next Rage Power slot.
Attack: Greatsword +5 2d6+9 (Avg. 16)
|3 - Barbarian 3|| || |
With Furious Focus, from now on Power Attack is free. At this level you're only removing a -1 penalty, but Power Attack increments at your next level, and you could easily pick up Reckless Rage at 5th level for even more damage with no additional penalty.
Massive Weapons is where we get to feel like a Titan Mauler for the first time. Switch from your greatsword to a large bast sword. You'll net -1 to attacks for +2 damage. I would wait to switch to a large greatsword for now because the attack penalty is significant.
I've listed the attack penalties for using an oversized one-handed weapon like a large bastard sword and a large two-handed weapon like a greatsword. This should serve as a helpful reference since there is no official table for the progression.
Attack: Large Bastard Sword +6 2d8+9 (Avg. 18)
|4 - Barbarian 4|| || |
Another rage power, and Power Attack increments at this level.
Attack: Large Bastard Sword +7 2d8+12 (Avg. 21)
|5 - Barbarian 5|| || |
Evade Reach is really helpful if you're not enlarged because you can more easily get inside your target's reach without drawing an attack of opportunity. But if you're enlarged, your reach may be equal to theirs, in which case Evade Reach allows you to reach them while they can't reach you.
Reckless Rage is free damage, but feel free to replace the feat with something else.
At this level it may be affordable to be permanently enlarged. Paying an NPC will cost 2,950gp, slightly more than a +1 weapon. Unless you spend a lot of time in cramped dungeons, it's worth the cost. If permanent size will be a problem, spend that money on a pile of Enlarge Person potions. Either way, from this point on we'll assume that you are enlarged.
Attack: Huge Bastard Sword +8 3d8+16 (Avg. 29.5)
|6 - Barbarian 6|| || |
Another open rage power. If you haven't pick up Surprise Accuracy or Accurate Stance, I would get it now. You want it handy for use with Vital Strike to ensure that you hit every time.
Massive Weapons increments again at this level. Using large one-handed weapons is now free, but with the exception of the large bastard sword there is basically no reason to do so. The -4 penalty for using large two-handed weapons is really scary, so avoid it as long as possible.
This level is a weird middle ground for the Titan Mauler. It's the only level at which making a Full Attack is a meaningful option, and even though you qualify for Vital Strike you don't have it yet because you don't get a feat at this level.
Attack: Huge Bastard Sword +10/+5 3d8+16 (Avg. 29.5)
|7 - Barbarian 7|| || |
Finally! This is where the Titan Mauler comes into its own. Drop your bastard sword, and go buy a huge +1 greatsword (remember that you're large now; if you're not permanently enlarged get a large one so it will grow to huge when you drink a potion). The -4 penalty for using such a big weapon still hurts, so use Surprise Accuracy or Accurate Stance to help offset the penalties.
Start saving gold to get Impact added to your sword as soon as possible. The sooner you get it, the better.
You get DR at this level, but try not to need it.
Attack: Huge +1 Greatsword +8 8d6+17 (Avg. 53)
|8 - Barbarian 8|| || |
8th level is great for us numerically. The second ability score increase raises your Strength to 20 (22 while enlarged), and Power Attack increments, so we get an extra +1 to attacks and a bunch of additional damage.
At this level you might get enough gold to upgrade your sword to +1 Impact, but it's not likely so we'll ignore it until 9th level.
Attack: Huge +1 Greatsword +10 8d6+22 (Avg. 58)
|9 - Barbarian 9|| || |
Another great level for our numbers. Massive Weapons increments again, making us gradually more reliable with our attacks.
Furious Finish is a bit of a gamble, but it's an easy gamble with a huge payoff. You end your rage and get automatic maximum damage. From now on, I'll now list maximum damage in addition to average damage for our attack line.
At this level you can probably afford to upgrade your sword to +1 Impact. Due to the way weapon damage scales with size, this adds 2d6 to your weapon's base damage, making this a significant boost in your damage output. Because additional weapon enhancements don't matter much after this point, I'll assume (probably incorrectly) that your weapon doesn't change from here on.
I've listed two attack lines for this level to call out exactly how this works out. But just to be super explicit: with Impact your average damage is higher than your maximum damage without Impact. It's that big a difference.
Attack: Huge +1 Greatsword +12 8d6+22 (Avg. 58, Max 70)
Attack: Huge +1 Impact Greatsword +12 12d6+22 (Avg. 72, Max 94)
|10 - Barbarian 10|| || |
After three levels which added big piles of damage and attack bonus, 10th level is pretty boring. But at this level you qualify for some really cool rage powers, so pick something exciting.
Attack: Huge +1 Impact Greatsword +13 12d6+22 (Avg. 72, Max 94)
|11 - Barbarian 11|| || |
After enduring the dull period that was 10th level, 11th level brings Improve Vital Strike, and a 50% increase in our damage from weapon damage dice. Compare the attack lines between this level and the previous two levels.
Greater rage improves the numeric benefits of raging. Those benefits are excellent, but I'll continue to ignore their specific because they are different for the vanilla Barbarian and the Unchained Barbarian, and I don't want you to think either one is significantly better here.
It's fun to note that at this level wizards can cast Disintegrate, giving us what may be the best spells vs. weapons damage comparison. At this level that's 22d6 damage from disintegrate, averaging just 77 damage at the cost of a 6th-level spell slot. You can do more than that every round without raging. The wizard will gradually catch up to your average damage, but they probably can't match your maximum damage without an expensive rod of a 9th-level spell slot.
Attack: Huge +1 Impact Greatsword +14 18d6+22 (Avg. 85, Max 130)
|12 - Barbarian 12|| || |
Another rage power, and your Strength goes to 21 (23 enlarged) before your magic belt. Massive Weapons increments again, giving us back another point of attack bonus. Power Attack increments at this level, but you're already doing so much damage that you might not notice the difference.
Attack: Huge +1 Impact Greatsword +16 18d6+25 (Avg. 88, Max 133)
|13 - Barbarian 13|| || |
Devastating Strike adds two damage per additional damage die added by Vital Strike up to a cap of 6. We already have 12 such dice, so we get +6 damage.
Attack: Huge +1 Impact Greatsword +17 18d6+31 (Avg. 94, Max 139)
|14 - Barbarian 14|| || |
Titanic Rage would have been great 10 levels ago when we spent a pile of our meager pile of gold to become permanently enlarged. If you've been surviving on potions or actual spells until now, this is a welcome addition to the build.
Attack: Huge +1 Impact Greatsword +18 18d6+31 (Avg. 94, Max 139)
|15 - Barbarian 15|| || |
Greater Vital Strike is the end of the line. From here we're out of important feats. But oh man, look at that attack line. Truly a thing of beauty.
Attack: Huge +1 Impact Greatsword +19 24d6+31 (Avg. 115, Max 175)
|16+||Beyond this point the build is totally open. You do enough damage to one-shot most enemies up to several CR above your level. Honestly you might be able to hang out at level 15 forever and not have any issues.|