Building a barbarian
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OK, so your DM has said you are playing a Birthright campaign (congratulations), you want to play a barbarian. Now what do you do?
Birthright is a bit different to many other campaigns - it's got a good amount of world history and culture and may have a fair bit of intrigue - not something that most barbarians need to deal with. This page is designed to help you build a barbarian who fits into the setting well and can handle various matters, and also has space for comments and the like on playing what can be a very interesting class in D&D - the mighty barbarian.
character's nationality. Some nations favor barbarians, some do not, but a barbarian can be a fun character in any of them.
Anuire, most of the land is well-settled and very civilized - Anuire was after all, the birthplace of the Anuirean Empire, the most glorious work of man in all Cerilian history.
Anuire has however lost much of its old glory, the 'border' lands of Cariele, Dhoesone, Mhoried and Talinie all remember still the highlands of Aduria in their customs, and the wild rages of the berserker are valued highly by their military commanders. Other realms in the heartlands such as Alamie, Tuornen and Diemed may consider berserkers with more caution, seeing the wild rage as almost elven in its ferocity, while the properly civilized folk of Coeranys, Ilien and Aerenwe often disdain the uncouth barbarians of the heartlands much less the highlands...
When playing a barbarian in Anuire it is probably easiest to choose one of the border realms indicated above as your home realm, otherwise you are likely considered an outsider (at least) by even your own family.
It is difficult to play both a barbarian and a noble - the need for self control is always prevalent in the deadly games of the nobility - but not impossible - rank hath its privileges and minions can always handle the diplomacy if need be.
Otherwise you need to consider what your role will be outside of combat - are you the 'gaijin amongst the samurai' allowed to bend the rules others must follow due to your obvious backwardness while prevented likewise from ever truly being 'one of us' in the eyes of the nobles? Are you a great warrior noted simply for a simple, brutal, but effective fighting style - but feared as much by friends as enemies for your fearful temper?
In many ways it can be easier to play a barbarian from one of the barbaric lands - the Rjurik Taelshore, Vosgaard, even wild Aduria - such a background will explain your ferocity and lack of civilisation and let many 'make allowances' for your behaviour.
Brecht are noted for their sailors, not their barbarians. none the less some realms of Brechtür, do generate barbarians such as Drachenward, Grabentod and Wolfgaard. Brecht barbarians often have some Vos blood and include many noted pirates in their numbers.
Brechtür is in many ways more civilized than Anuire - while Anuireans prize war as a noble art the Brecht see wealth as a more glorious pursuit. That makes the barbarian even more of an outsider, as their main strength - glorious combat - is valued less than in Anuire. While war may be less common in Brechtür the need for defense against goblins, the Vos, etc as still common however so barbarians have their place - generally at the front of a throng of hearty blades chasing a hurled axe and laughing in the face of peril.
Khinasi are, depending on who you ask, either a decadent people prone to contemplating their piety while ignoring the squalor of those less fortunate; or the most civilized folk in all Cerilia - as with many things in Birthright it depends on who you ask, which realm you look at and where in that realm you look.
As such it is however probably the hardest nation in which to play a barbarian. Barbarians tend to come from the empty plains of the Sphinx's realm, the Tarvan Waste, the wild rain forests in the east or the elven realms.
As all of these are considered unenlightened backwaters by urban Khinasi, a barbarian in Khinasi is likely to be seen almost like a non-human by many - the wild rage is simply too indiscriminate and uncouth a means of fighting.
A barbarian in Khinasi must therefore trade on this very wildness and clear barbarism - as long as personal honor, truthfulness and so on are shown the barbarians relative lack of manners can be forgiven in almost any Khinasi realm, allowing the Barbarian to cut short the normal niceties when necessary without causing major diplomatic gaffs.
Erik include many barbarians amongst their number, although the wild rage is considered more doom than blessing.
The lightly populated lands of the Rjurik have less need for diplomatic niceties than in the 'civilized' nations of Anuire, Brechtür or Khinasi; but only a fool ignores such things entirely. The folk of the Taelshore respect their jarls and kings greatly and woe betide those who fail to show just and proper respect where it is due.
Vos where brute strength is prized above almost any other quality and the conquest of the weak is a sacred duty to both patron deities of this harsh land Belinik and Kriesha.
But to rule a realm takes more than mere might, your brutality, cheerful acceptance of death in the pursuit of glory and ability to withstand suffering that would kill those weaker will win you respect and honor - but the ability to judge your warriors well and understand the political machinations underlying the disputes between clans will serve you in good stead.
dwarves may prefer the cold disciplined skill of a fighter to the wild rage of a barbarian but the class is not unknown amongst them. Still the dwarves are notorious for their close-knit communities and any leader must be able to deliver their will with words as well as weapons - meaning that a dwarven barbarian who seeks to rule must ensure they become skilled in empathizing others and directing them, not simply skilled in weapons of war.
Sidhelien are notorious for their wild emotions and volatile temper, and many of them fit the wilder fighting style of the barbarian rather than the calculated skill of the fighter.
The Sidhelien value strength that can protect them against the goblins, humans, orogs, and other vile brutes infesting Cerilia and so a barbarian can find much favor amongst the sidhe. Since elves tend to give great loyalty to their chosen leaders, if they choose to follow a barbarian leader, the barbarian need care little about their lack of social graces - many sidhe do not care for such foolishness in any event while no other people (save possibly the dwarves) are worth serious consideration.
goblins, who willingly follow even the awnsheghlien in their quest for greatness.
As such a barbarian can do very well as a ruler in the goblin lands - or at least as well as any other class. Even if not playing a regent, a barbarian can achieve greatness amongst the goblins and can achieve greatness.
Halflings generally have far less respect for brute strength than other races - unsurprising given their small stature. Similarly they value conversation and trickery highly - not skills considered common amongst barbarians.
A halfling barbarian isn't impossible of course - although possibly only an elven priest would be rarer. In general however the class does not suit the race and should be seriously discussed with your DM before being played (unless for comedy value).
feats do you need? What multi-class combo's and prestige classes should you consider?
Birthright campaign the need for skills is great - they determine the regency points that a regent collects almost as much as does bloodline and dictate the success of diplomacy between domains to a to a great degree.
As such a barbarian player who intends to be a regent, or take on a role outside combat, should seriously consider putting one of their better attributes in intelligence to ensure a reasonable supply of skill points - although in Vosgaard a better tactic may be to have a few pet sages and other breakable minions to do the thinking for you.
Good skills and ways to use them:
- Intimidation: This works well when the niceties fail but a barbarian must rely on more than a good axe to intimidate others when dealing with domain diplomacy.
- Warcraft: While the barbaric fighting style may not lend itself to close-packed formations, a barbarian must be skilled in warcraft to run a realm effectively.
- Bluff: Always a useful skill bluff can make up for weaknesses otherwise unprotected. If your enemy thinks you too strong/wealthy to fight, you don't actually need to be strong/wealthy to deter their aggression.
knowledge of 3.5e than me.
Just as a Vos paladin is an intriguing example of playing against type to confound people's expectations, so is a Dwarven or Khinasi barbarian. A good back-story may be necessary, but that shouldn't slow down a good role-player.
, 01-23-2010 at 04:33 PM|
Last edited by , 10-23-2011 at 12:20 PM
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