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The Barbarian

This document provides suggestions and insights into how to translate the ideas of the Barbarian class from the source material into Pathfinder Fate Accelerated.

"Barbarians excel in combat, possessing the martial prowess and fortitude to take on foes seemingly far superior to themselves.

With rage granting them boldness and daring beyond that of most other warriors, barbarians charge furiously into battle and ruin all who would stand in their way.

For some, there is only rage. In the ways of their people, in the fury of their passion, in the howl of battle, conflict is all these brutal souls know.

Savages, hired muscle, masters of vicious martial techniques, they are not soldiers or professional warriors—they are the battle possessed, creatures of slaughter and spirits of war.

Known as barbarians, these warmongers know little of training, preparation, or the rules of warfare; for them, only the moment exists, with the foes that stand before them and the knowledge that the next moment might hold their death. They possess a sixth sense in regard to danger and the endurance to weather all that might entail.

These brutal warriors might rise from all walks of life, both civilized and savage, though whole societies embracing such philosophies roam the wild places of the world. Within barbarians storms the primal spirit of battle, and woe to those who face their rage."

Archetype Considerations

Three Archetypes are relevant to the barbarian concept, though a particular barbarian only needs some combination of two of them.

Combatives covers the "warrior" facet of the barbarian, while Focused covers the "unsullied physical specimen" facet, and Primal covers the "master of uncivilized wildlands" facet.

Pathfinder type barbarians tend to favor Combatives and the Tribal Warrior set of Starting Archetypes is probably the closest match. The Savage set of Starting Archetypes is a good match for most "old school" barbarians from earlier editions of D & D as well as pulp fiction.

The Brute or Manbeast sets of Starting Archetypes are a good way to go for more of a burly unstoppable force or wildman sort of barbarian.

Primal is the least essential Archetype of the three for a barbarian; +0 to +1 is sufficient for most barbarians, with +2 being unusual but not entirely outre. Primal +3 and higher blurs the concept and starts to drift into druid or ranger territory.

Sample Iconics

Kiroee, Kazzar, Oarg

Starting Archetype Sets

Tribal Warrior

Combative +3, Focused +1


Combative +2, Focused +1, Primal +1


Combative +2, Focused +2


Focused +3, Primal +1

Self-buffing Striker

The source material has a very particular expression of "barbarians" as combat focused characters who have the ability to "rage", which is essentially a "self-buff" offering improved combat numbers that gets progressively better as the barbarian character levels up.

Savage Fitness

Additionally a barbarian gets an improved movement rate, more hit points, eventually becomes more resistent to damage, gains the ability to avoid traps, hyper reflexes allowing the evasion of various kinds of threats, and so on.

There are also various "rage" related feats that may be taken to kit out or leverage the raging buff for various purposes, and a selection of "archetypes" (as defined in the Pathfinder rule books) that allow the tailoring of class abilties to better suit a concept.

Diverging From Source Material

Pathfinder and D&D 3e offer up the barbarian as a raging brute, while earlier editions of Dungeons & Dragons presented an uncivilized barbarian unsullied by the decadence of city life; generally more "Conan" and less "Roid Rage". And there is a good deal of sword & sorcery fiction to draw on for inspiration.

However, you shouldn't feel obligated to adhere to source material; you are free to be creative. Assign your Approach and Archetype bonuses, and define your character's Aspects and Stunts to best realize your "barbarian" concept.

Combatives is the most superficially obvious Archetype for a barbarian, but actually isn't all that essential as Focused can very easily be made to do double duty in conflicts at the cost of one or more Stunt slots.

Combatives from +0 and higher works just fine with no upper limit, so long as it doesn't completely overshadow the other facets of the character to the point that the supposed barbarian is indistinguishable from Johnny Fighter from the Big City.

Focused is the most defining Archetype of the three, harkening back to Robert Howard's envisioning of barbarians at the dawn of the Sword & Sorcery genre. All barbarians should have at least Focused +1.

Unlike monks and psions and other character types that favor high Focused who start evincing supernatural or normalcy-defying abilities at +3 and higher, barbarians tend to show their exceptionalism by exaggerating all of their innate attributes to be flat out superior to other normal people. They are objectively stronger, tougher, quicker of wit, more perceptive, and faster than ordinary men...particularly 'civilized' men (with civilized being used as a pejorative meaning weak and decadent).

Scaling impossible cliffs, wrestling with gorillas and winning, seeing further than a hawk, speaking so many languages learned from their travels that a scholarly linguist would be put to shame...things like that.

Approach Considerations

Barbarians are rarely Careful, but some like to lay a Sneaky ambush from time to time.

Though they rarely have a formal education many barbarians are surprisingly Clever, gifted with natural intellect sharpened by the harsh realities of survival.

Many, perhaps most, barbarians are Forceful, but some grandstanders trend more towards Flashy. And barbarians are often Quick for their size.

What Kind Of Barbarian, Exactly?

Generally speaking, when defining a character in Pathfinder Fate Accelerated that you envision falling into the "barbarian" category, you might start out by asking yourself the following questions:

For instance, a fearsome but noble warrior of a remote village of hillfolk who spent his formative years helping the warriors of the tribe fend off the predations of a nearby clan of ogres is more of a Combatives based character with either Focused or Primal or a split, while a hulking brute raised by bears who lived on his own until captured and sold as a pit fighting slave but ultimately broke loose and slew his "owners" would be more of a Focused and Primal based character.

The fourth question is where things get sticky.

Feral or Noble Savage?

Some barbarians are pretty primitive, perhaps even vestiges of an earlier age. Others are part of a vibrant and rich culture that has not succumbed to the decadent lure of so-called civilization.

The Pathfinder setting of Golarion has a number of suitable cultures for a barbarian to originate from, such as the Mammoth Lords, or the Shoanti, or the people who inhabit the Lands of the Linnorm Kings.

Answering this question will fill in your character's background and will probably also influence your High Concept. It might very well also drive your selection of Trouble, other Aspects, and Stunts.

Physical Phenom or Fearsome Warrior?

Some barbarians are just physically and perhaps mentally overpowering, and rely on their innate superiority to defeat lesser folks. Other barbarians come from a culture with a proud warrior tradition, and they learn skill at arms from childhood on up in due course to being recognized as an adult.

Answering this question will influence your choice of Archetypes, and possibly Approaches as well. It will also impact whatever trappings your character might carry, and may inspire one or more of your Aspects and Stunts.

For a physical phenom type of barbarian, favor Focused +2 or +3. For a barbarian from a rich warrior tradition, consider Combatives +1 or +2. For a barbarian from a culture that lives rough in the wildlands such as nomads or hillfolk, consider Primal +1 or +2.

With Stunt support you might also consider Focused +4 and play a character akin to a monk, but with the background and attitude of a barbarian.

Kazzar is a barbarian thug blessed with astounding physical prowess, but not as gifted in the realm of mental faculties. Utterly ignorant and out of place in civilized lands, this crude lout thumps those who have things he wants and takes their shinies. Still alive only due to his nearly supernatural resilience and prowess, this brutish half orc careens through existence from one disastrous misadventure to another.

Conquest or Dominance?

Barbarians embrace the harsh reality of life, which is that strife is inevitable. In a cruel and brutal world violence is sometimes necessary, even if it is thrust upon you. How a given barbarian prefers to combat their enemies says a lot about them.

Some barbarians prefer to meet violence head on, eye to eye, blades crossed and to the victor goes the spoils. Others are more crafty and prefer to lure their foolish foes into the wildlands and harry them unmercifully. Some barbarians are content to physically defeat their opponents and be done with it, but others must also prove themselves superior first and crush their enemies will to fight before striking the final blow.

Most barbarians are completely ok with doing whatever they feel like and taking whatever they want by force, but others have codes of warrior honor or must adhere to complex traditions or rites which constrain their actions with nearly as much stringency as a paladin's vows.

Thinking about these nuances should help you shade in the subtleties of your barbarian's personality and world view, and possibly firm up an Aspect and / or a Stunt.

To Berserk Or Not Berserk?

In Pathfinder, a barbarian is always a berserker, baring any "archetype" (as defined in the Pathfinder rule books) shenanigans. The class might as well have been called "The Berserker".

There is much to be said for going the berserker route; from a roleplaying perspective barbarians tend to be easy to play as the concept has a way of rendering decision making very easy when portraying one. See a threat, get angry and smash it.

However there is also much to be said for not making your barbarian a berserker, harkening back to the idea of the barbarian pre-D&D 3e. Whether your flavor is an AD&D 2e or AD&D 1e Unearthed Arcana barbarian, or further back to something from swords & sorcery pulp fiction, or if your inspiration comes from a real world people such as the Vikings or the Mongols, there is a broad design space to operate within to make interesting characters.

I Am NOT A Berzerker!

If you decide that your character is not a berserker, i.e. is not anchored on the idea of entering a violent rage to fight opponents, then you are free to allocate your Aspects and Stunts however you like to make your character interesting to you.

Oarg is an example of a barbarian who is not a berzerker. He's an extremely big, physically dominant, uncivilized brute, but he's eager to expand his horizons by exploring the many wonders of the world.

I Am A Berzerker!

If your character is a berserker, then you should make sure to incorporate that idea into their Aspects. If it is the dominant idea of the character, then it should be reflected in their High Concept. If your character's propensity towards anger causes problems in their life, work that into the character's Trouble.

When it comes to making your character's berzerk rage impact 4dF outcomes, the simplest option is to maintain a reserve of Fate points and spend them to invoke the character's anger-related Aspect or High Concept when anger might be helpful and you want a mechanical bonus.

Another option is you can use one or more create advantage actions to attach a situational Aspect (or add invokes to your character's Aspect or High Concept) to yourself indicating your character's ire and use any free invokes on it, thereby conserving your Fate points but otherwise having the same end result.

Finally, if you want something more concrete or reliable, you probably will want to use at least one Stunt slot defining how your character benefits from their berserk rage. Decide how you want your character's rage to benefit them and make a Stunt that enables your idea. See the Stunt options document for ideas on how to do this.

Kiroee is an iconic barbarian who is driven by her unfocused but boundless rage! The full profundity of her constant ire is reflected in her High Concept, focused further in one of her Aspects, and is suggested at in her Trouble.

And she has several Stunts that key into her berzerker nature. Her "Anger Management" Stunt is the engine that drives it all, automatically adding free invokes to her own High Concept but at a cost; these invokes can be used as necessary to represent her enraged potency. Secondarily her "Swift Fury" Stunt allows her to use those invokes specifically for extra movement so that she can close with enemies and smash them.

Finally her "Attack Attack ATTACK!!!!" Stunt, though not directly tied in to her anger, illustrates her reckless all-out aggression and rounds the character out as a fearsome foe to face in a conflict, but easy to land hits on.


Barbarian characters might find the following Stunt categories of interest: Warrior, Primordial, Durability, Competence, Innate.

The following Stunts are offered as samples that might be relevant for some barbarians. However, the best Stunts are those that are tailor made to fit your concept, so don't hesitate to come up with your own or work with your GM to define something that is "just right" for your character. See the Stunt options document for ideas on how to do this.

Physical Specimens

Many barbarians are exceptionally fit and athletic, with sharp senses, agility, strength, and durability.

Alertness: Because I am unusually alert and perceptive I gain +2 while Focused to notice things.

Damage Reduction: Because I am more durable than normal, I reduce by one (1) all stress inflicted on me by physical and magical attacks.

Dodgy: Because I am good at getting out of the way of danger, I gain +1 to defend when I am Quick.

Incorrigibly Competitive: Because I am incorrigibly competitive and driven to win, I gain +2 while Flashily Focused to create advantage or overcome when engaged in any kind of one on one physical, mental, or social contest, ranging from duels to drinking contests to arm wrestling bouts to put-down matches to poker face offs and more.

Primal Reduction: Because I am significantly more rugged, robust, and survivable due to my deep connection with primal forces, I reduce by one (1) all physical stress inflicted on me, and I reduce by two (2) all environmental stress inflicted on me.

Raw Charisma: Because I am naturally likeable and charismatic, I may use Focused instead of Roguish for social interactions related to making friends and influencing people. I gain +1 while Focused to create advantage or overcome challenges when using this Stunt. However some people innately distrust charming people, and I sometimes meet unexpected friction to my overtures.

When using this Stunt I can be compelled by the GM to fail.

Resilience: Because of my impressive resilience, once per session if I would take a Consequence I may instead spend a Fate point.

Warrior's Mettle: Because I have trained extensively and am made of sterner stuff than most people, I may use Combatives to defend against ranged attacks and targeted magic by deflecting such attacks with a precise flick or parry of my weapon, or with my armor or a shield, or by some other means justified by the narrative.

This Stunt requires Combative +2 to use.

NOTE: Combative +3 and higher already allows a character to do this. This Stunt is for characters who have Combative +2 and are willing to allocate a Stunt to gain this ability.

Very Strong: Because I am so strong, I get +2 while I am Forcefully Focused and create advantage or overcome when my great strength is a factor.

Aggressive Warriors

Many barbarians fight with incredible vigor and ferocity, overwhelming foes with the sheer force of their unrelenting assault.

Aggressive Assault: Because I am driven to extreme aggression, when I am Forcefully Combative and attack I may add from one to four additional Fate dice to my 4dF attack roll and choose the four best dice as my result. However, until my next exchange whenever I defend I add the same number of Fate dice to my defend rolls and choose the four worst dice as my result.

Barbarian Beatdown: Because I'm able to use my athleticism and physical advantages to good effect in a fight, I may use Focused instead of Combative when fighting with an appropriate weapon.

Barehanded Fighting: Because my fighting skills include barehanded combat, I may use Combative instead of Focused when fighting barehanded or grappling.

Brawler: Because I am so strong, I get +2 while I am Forcefully Focused and attack when fighting unarmed or grappling or when throwing heavy blunt things.

Bums Rush: Because I like to overwhelm others, I get +2 when I am Forceful and attempt to tackle or bowl over an opponent.

Forcefully Aggressive: Because I am so physically powerful, I get +1 when I am Forceful and attack.

Fueled By Suffering: Because I channel my pain and suffering and become more dangerous when I am in danger, when I take stress or consequences from attacks I gain a Boost called Fueled By Suffering.

Indomitable: Because I refuse to give in and I always vigorously protect myself, I get +1 when I am Forceful and defend if I am aware that I am in danger.

Making It Count: Because I am able to make my attacks really matter, on an attack that succeeds with style I may spend a fate point to prevent the target from checking a stress box to reduce the stress of the attack. The target may still take consequences.

One Against Many: Because I am skilled at defending myself against multiple attackers, I gain +2 to defend when I fight alone against two or more opponents. A single mook defined as a mob counts as being multiple opponents for purposes of this ability as long as there are two or more 'individuals' within the mob. 'Fighting alone' in this context means no allies are in my zone or an adjacent zone, and no ally is aiding me or attacking my opponents.

Pounce!: Because I excel at leaping into combat in a startling burst of aggression, I gain +4 on my first attack in a conflict if I act first and can charge, lunge at, or pounce upon an opponent.

Powerful Attack: Because I am so skilled at delivering forceful attacks, I gain +2 when I am Forcefully Combative and attack while armed with a weapon.

Push Beyond The Edge: Because I fight to the bitter end no matter what the cost, at any time as a non action if my Severe consequence is currently clear I may choose to either worsen my Moderate consequence (if any) to a Severe consequence or take a new Severe consequence Pushed Myself Too Far to clear my Mild Consequences and all my Stress boxes.

Retribution: Because my retribution is terrible when I succesfully attack an opponent who has inflicted stress or consequences upon me in the current conflict I inflict +1 shift more damage and this damage cannot be reduced.

Terrifying Roar: Because I am able to make a terrifying noise, I gain +1 when being Flashy and attempting to frighten or demoralize. Alternately, once per scene if I move a zone and attack while Flashy I may also attempt to create advantage to frighten or demoralize everyone in the same zone as my target as a free action.

Unsullied By Civilization

Barbarians generally eshew the so-called advantages of civilization, regarding city life as decadent and regressive. They instead take great pride in more practical skills such as using one's environment effectively, living off the land, being skilled at the hunt, and remaining adaptable to whatever situation they might find themselves in.

Ambusher: Because I am great at setting up ambushes, I gain +1 when I Sneakily set up an ambush or create a related advantage.

Just Roll With It: Because I excel at avoiding harm and rolling with whatever comes my way, I can use more than one stress box to absorb stress from an attack (normally, only one stress box may be used to offset stress from a single attack).

Living Off The Land: Because I am adept at surviving off of what nature offers me, I am always able to find enough food and water to keep myself and a couple of other people or animals healthy while in wildlands and rural areas (i.e. above ground and not near a city or town). Additionally if I've had at least half a day to become familiar with the terrain in a specific area of wilderness I gain +1 on all actions while being Primal. How large the area of wilderness might be is left to the GM's discretion, but it should be at least five square miles.

Naturally Sneaky: Because I am innately good at being sneaky, I may use Focused instead of Roguish or Primal when Sneakily attempting to avoid notice. However, I suffer a -1 penalty when I do so.

Naturally Sneaky (-2): Because I am innately good at being sneaky, I may use Focused instead of Roguish or Primal when Sneakily attempting to avoid notice.

Rural Warrior: Because I am skilled at using practical, functional weapons such as hunting spears and bows, woodsman axes, cudgels, lariats, and weapons derived from farming equipment I am a surprisingly effective combatant when armed appropriately. Though my fighting style is no-frills and straightforward, when armed with an appropriate weapon I can use Focused in place of Combatives in armed physical conflicts and I gain +1 to create advantage attempts that utilize my unusual weaponry in interesting ways.

Strider: Because I am fleet of foot and able to move quickly, if I am in a conflict and do nothing in an exchange except move, I may move an extra zone and I am unobstructed by foot hazards of less than knee height. If I am in a contest involving me walking rapidly or running, I gain +1 to overcome while I am Quick.