Fighters, Wizards, Rangers, Warlords, … now I’ve moved on to Barbarians.
Why the sudden shift to the Player’s Handbook 2? It’s partially motivated by the list I published yesterday of the classes I pan to include among those I draw from when generating the character pool for my webcomic project.
Admittedly, the Primeval state has been difficult to develop for as it’s fluctuated quite a bit throughout the project’s lifetime. It’s always been about the same — being the power source of faeries and fey creatures — but its associated class archetypes and underlying mechanics have changed a lot.
Since I adopted the Passion/Illusion theme for the Primeval state, I’ve been trying to find a middle ground between the high fantasy of faeries, hags, witches, and goblins, and the romantic fantasy of princesses, gallant knights, and so forth.
Once I started in on the Rage powers of the 4e Barbarian, I really started thinking about a parallel to Martial stances. Rage has presented mechanical problems since at least 3e, where it manipulated ability scores to achieve its effects…
…But 4e committed the sin of making Barbarian Rage boring.
Many of the mechanical benefits of 4e Rage powers are quite good, honestly — and considering the fact that all of them persist until end of encounter or until another Rage power is used (which would be a waste of a daily), it’s fairly easy to choose the best ones to keep and use in a given fight.
But! And this is a big But! Those Rage effects are basically stances hidden behind a layer of hit-or-miss daily attack power! I imagine many players might never use their Rage powers because they’re saving them ’til doomsday.
Rage Strike might give the Barbarian an outlet for unused Rage powers when they don’t want to overwrite their current Rage, but that Rage effect is still effectively a Stance power that can’t be sneezed at! Does Rage Strike get used then?
Ultimately, I don’t know because we haven’t had a Barbarian in our group. I played a Barbarian in a one-off game I think, and I believe I missed with all my Rage powers because the stupid things are hardly guaranteed to hit. Swing and a whiff.
Then there’s that thing which bothered me, niggling at the back of my mind…
…Calm Emotions counters Barbarian Rage…
One of my favorite rules interactions in 3e. It occurred to me that if I wanted to make Rage more accessible, I might just have to go ahead with the Stance parallel I mentioned above and give Rage powers to all the Primeval archetypes.
I might even do it.