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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Rage Mage - barbarian subclass

    Just to provide a little context, this class is almost certainly "overtuned" compared to other barbarian options. But that's intentional - the barbarian is not a good class, and has probably the worst scaling of any class in the game. This class is closer to where I feel mid and high level barbs and martials classes in general should be.

    That said, give it a look, would love to get any feedback.

    Google Doc
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...XqS7f7ZOI/edit

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Oct 2017

    Default Re: Rage Mage - barbarian subclass

    Quote Originally Posted by Skrum View Post
    Just to provide a little context, this class is almost certainly "overtuned" compared to other barbarian options. But that's intentional - the barbarian is not a good class, and has probably the worst scaling of any class in the game. This class is closer to where I feel mid and high level barbs and martials classes in general should be.

    That said, give it a look, would love to get any feedback.

    Google Doc
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...XqS7f7ZOI/edit
    Here's my own pass at the idea from a few years back: Rage Mage

    Don't hesitate to strip it for parts for your home game use. If you do and intend to publish, I'll provide the details for proper credit.
    Last edited by BerzerkerUnit; 2023-09-19 at 01:19 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: Rage Mage - barbarian subclass

    Quote Originally Posted by BerzerkerUnit View Post
    Here's my own pass at the idea from a few years back: Rage Mage

    Don't hesitate to strip it for parts for your home game use. If you do and intend to publish, I'll provide the details for proper credit.
    I had actually considered doing a "damage for spell power" system. I really like the look of this one!

    But - there doesn't seem to be a cap on spells. Like, a level 3 barb could spend a few rounds in combat and then bust out a cone of cold. Is that the case, or did I miss something? Cause that's pretty wildly imbalanced

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Rage Mage - barbarian subclass

    First off: I love the base idea. The name alone is a delight. I love how you have to be raging to do any spellcasting.

    Spell list looks decent, I haven't done a deep dive but nothing feels tremendously out of place (except for Absorb Elements on a barbarian -- that's basically giving them most of Bearbarian as a bonus feature, since barbarians taking elemental damage is rare enough to be always worth Absorbing the big ones).

    The spell slot distribution looks a little wonky -- if this is a "per rage" thing, at level 6 this subclass is getting eight level 2 spells to a half-caster's two. But I like the base idea and I like how it keeps the subclass consistent throughout the day without being able to go "full nova" at any one moment.

    Arcane Incomparable at level 14: the third bonus of this feature is cool and flavorful, but the first two don't feel very "barbarian" to me.
    - The damage type thing doesn't feel very thematically appropriate: barbarians aren't about "change my tactics to counter the enemy's specific resistance/vulnerability." Barbarians are about "I'm only doing half damage? BETTER HIT TWICE AS HARD "
    - Why is the barbarian's spell somehow harder to counter than the wizard's?? This subclass isn't even MAD, so the DCs will likely be the same.

    My biggest gripe is that most of these features don't actually incentivize the barbarian to be a barbarian. I like my barbarians up close, in the fray, using Reckless Attack to draw monsters' attention and using their damage resistance to soak up hits. Giving them magic is fun, but for short combats the "optimal" play almost feels like a fairly consistent one-two punch of 1. Rage 2. Fireball (or another damaging spell). You could do that from the back row and not lose anything -- you'd just become a tankier spellslinger.

    I'd love there to be some sort of mechanic that's keyed off of damage your PC has taken and/or dealt -- sort of like building a Special meter in a fighting video game. That would fit my image of a "Rage Mage" a little better: someone who leaps into the fray and beats the crap out of a bunch of people to build up their raw magical energy into a fever pitch, then unleashes it mid-fight (rather than at the start). That would also incentivize the barbarian to START by charging in, which is pretty key to the barbarian playstyle to me.
    Last edited by Ionathus; 2023-09-19 at 09:30 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: Rage Mage - barbarian subclass

    I tried to hit a mix of defense and offense with the spell list - I didn't want the spells to only be evocation, and spells like absorb elements are are thematically fitting in the sense of I can imagine a raging barb spontaneously generating that effect. I also wanted to include an amount of combat-utility type spells, like misty step, thunderstep, fly, and freedom of movement to give the barb some options besides "hit them really hard." Like in one sense that's the class, but bigger picture, that's why the barb isn't very good.

    The damage type change was like a "I can't be stopped" feature. Not really a way to just hit harder within the mechanics and keep it fair. But I hear what you're saying.

    As far as the spells go and fitting within the mythos of barbs...I wonder if there's something to do with range. Like limiting range or something. I like the idea of changing the range of the spells to be "self" and have everything go off in a nova around the barb - but the level of friendly fire would make it unplayable xD. I'll give it some thought.

    Edit: I might just take another look at the spell list and get rid of the very rangy spells. On one hand fireball is raging, but it's also super long range, and to your point barbs aren't supposed to be artillery. Thunderstep to close the distance, absolutely. Nuking from orbit, not so much.
    Last edited by Skrum; 2023-09-19 at 10:35 AM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Rage Mage - barbarian subclass

    Quote Originally Posted by Skrum View Post
    As far as the spells go and fitting within the mythos of barbs...I wonder if there's something to do with range. Like limiting range or something. I like the idea of changing the range of the spells to be "self" and have everything go off in a nova around the barb - but the level of friendly fire would make it unplayable xD. I'll give it some thought.

    Edit: I might just take another look at the spell list and get rid of the very rangy spells. On one hand fireball is raging, but it's also super long range, and to your point barbs aren't supposed to be artillery. Thunderstep to close the distance, absolutely. Nuking from orbit, not so much.
    Good instinct on avoiding artillery.

    I really love your first idea here. Having a bunch of spells -- some of them buffs and some of them AoEs -- but having them all be a range of "self" is hilarious and very thematic for a barbarian's approach to magic. I don't think it would take too much tweaking to get that balance right: something like "you (and creatures friendly to you? Maybe that's a buff for later in the subclass) have resistance to damage from all of your own spellcasting" should work in a pinch. Because friendly fire / self-damage is still worth it if you can catch enough enemies in the area of effect -- you taking 14 damage (probably 7 thanks to Danger Sense) and 8 enemies taking 28 is absolutely worth the tradeoff, even just for the theoretical damage they would've done had they survived to their next turn.

    I'm having fun imagining this scenario: Rage Mage uses magic to close the gap with the Boss Monster, throwing themselves recklessly into the middle of the fight and completely cutting themselves off from the rest of the team. On turn one they Reckless Attack twice on the Boss Monster and get some meaty hits even with the Boss's higher AC (plus their damage from Thunder Step or similar). On the monsters' turns, they and their minions all dogpile you. They get some hits in because of your Reckless Attack and you take some heavy damage, but hey, you're a barbarian: you're basically built to tank hits. On your next turn, they're all clustered around you, and you cast Fireball on yourself like an absolute lunatic, taking some damage but absolutely obliterating all the minions in the room.

    You're beat up, you're out of magic, and you're on fire. And you still came out on top. That's what I call a cool turn for a barbarian.
    Last edited by Ionathus; 2023-09-19 at 11:55 AM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Rage Mage - barbarian subclass

    Quote Originally Posted by Skrum View Post
    I had actually considered doing a "damage for spell power" system. I really like the look of this one!

    But - there doesn't seem to be a cap on spells. Like, a level 3 barb could spend a few rounds in combat and then bust out a cone of cold. Is that the case, or did I miss something? Cause that's pretty wildly imbalanced
    Itís a little buried but the last paragraph in Spellcasting feature tells you the levels you get access to higher level spells.

    BUT you can do exactly that trick with upcasting.

    Itís not that broken given the spells on their list and the relative efficiency of upcasting vs Eldritch blasting or using a weapon. I also really prefer the ramp up option the mechanic offers.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Rage Mage - barbarian subclass

    This may be me misunderstanding some of the 5e Barbarian rules but if I cast a spell and I take no damage between the casting and my next turn, do I stop raging? this may only really be a problem for 2 levels (3-4) but If I am casting a mobility spell to keep up with a fast enemy, or I have a slow spell cast on me. it may be useful to have the casting of a spell maintain my rage as well.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Rage Mage - barbarian subclass

    Quote Originally Posted by Joshthemanwich View Post
    This may be me misunderstanding some of the 5e Barbarian rules but if I cast a spell and I take no damage between the casting and my next turn, do I stop raging? this may only really be a problem for 2 levels (3-4) but If I am casting a mobility spell to keep up with a fast enemy, or I have a slow spell cast on me. it may be useful to have the casting of a spell maintain my rage as well.
    I've always operated with: if it breaks invisibility, it perpetuates a rage.

  10. - Top - End - #10
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    Deepbluediver's Avatar

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    Default Re: Rage Mage - barbarian subclass

    I want to chime in here (and also bookmark this page to steal ideas from later) to say that I'm totally on board with barbarian-style casters.

    Frankly, before you even get into the whole Rage-based-spellcasting, why not just start out by homebrewing away the casting limitations in Rage to begin with? Its like, 5E did a lot to improve flexibility and creativity in character classes, but they left behind a few really oddball fluddy-psuedo-mechanical bits and pieces that stick at all the more because everything else has been polished smooth. What I mean is, there are very few (if any) other abilities that PREVENT you from doing something. Rage is one of the few (only?). So how about we start by just removing the restriction on Rage from spellcasting?
    There's nothing inherent in Rage (AFAIK) that benefits spellcasting, so why does it specifically prohibit it, except for a weird feeling of nostalgia for certain fluffy concepts?

    This is one of my pet-peeves with 5E- that they really sanded down the restrictions on most stuff, but left a small handful of burrs completely alone; for no apparent reason except maybe "nostalgia". For a non-barbarian example, look at Druids. They don't wear meatal armor. Not that they CAN'T wear metal armor; in 3.5 there were specific mechanical penalties for wearing metal armor. It might have seemed a bit odd, but OK lets assume whatever nature-spirit-demi-god-entity is giving druid their spells just doesn't like blacksmithing. It feels a little setting-specific, but I can get behind that if it make sense. But in 5E there's not a single mechanical penalty- it's jut that every single druid, everywhere and forever, of every race, creed, archetype and alignment, all got together and said "we prefer our soft and jibbly bits be on full display".
    It doesn't make any sense UNLESS you're somehow hooked on the idea that "druids are uncivilized and don't wear products of civilization, such as metalcrafted stuff". "Despite being perfectly fine with wielding metal weapons".
    IT'S JUST THE WEIRDEST HILL TO DIE ON AND I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY ITS STILL IN THE GAME. Either lean in fully or lean out and don't bother; this half-and-half BS just gets on my nerves.

    phew #rantover
    ANYWAY, I don't see any reason why a Raging Barbarian shouldn't be able to cast spells, if they have somehow acquired spellcasting ability, unless you're fixated on this one imagine of a frothing berserker. Nevermind that you've already written 17 archetypes that do other things, no- it has to be hardcoded into every barbarian's DNA that they come form a conan-esque society that abhors magic. Which just doesn't make sense to me.

    I honestly feel there was a real missed opportunity here, both for other barbarian archetypes based around stats other than Strength (how about a dex-based rage for ranged attackers or a con-based one for tanks? or even a mental-stat boosting variant?) as well as better options for Barbarian multiclassing.

    So, TLDR- I like your idea, sorry for not having any specific criticisms but I am 110% onboard with the theory behind it. Never let anyone dim your shine.


    Edit: I get that RAGE! is very iconic and historic, but when I was homebrewing I changed the name of that ability to "Adrenaline Rush" which I think helps break players out of the mindset that a Barbarian MUST be a frothing, great-axe-wielding lunatic. Feel free to do something similar if you like.
    Last edited by Deepbluediver; 2023-10-27 at 05:34 PM.
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