The Barbarian

The Barbarian

The Barbarian

Adam Koebel and I have been working on the barbarian now that most of the backer supplement stuff is tied up. Here’s our current version. What do you think? (All move names are definitely placeholders.)

Starting Moves


Weapons you wield gain the forceful and messy tags in your hands.


When you take damage from an enemy, mark the dice rolled to determine that damage here:






These are your heedless dice. You can never have more heedless dice than your Con. If you already have heedless dice equal to your Con and you would gain more, you choose which dice to keep.

Power Down

When you show compassion, receive healing, eat, drink, or sleep, you lose all your heedless dice.

Hulk Out

When you deal damage, after you roll you can choose to spend a heedless die to deal damage equal to the die’s size instead (4 damage for a d4, 6 damage for a d6, etc.).


You may spend a heedless die of at least d8 size to completely destroy any non-magical inanimate item that is smaller than a horse.  A big horse, too, not one of those puny elf-horses or anything.


You may spend a d8 or larger heedless die to break free of any physical or mental restraint.


As long as you wear no armor or shield you have 1 armor.

Advanced Moves

What Are You Waiting For?!

When you cry out a challenge to your enemies, roll+CHA.

On a 10+ they treat you as the most obvious threat to be dealt with and ignore your companions, take +1 ongoing to damage dealt to them.  On a 7-9 only a few (the weakest or most foolhardy among them) fall prey to your taunting.

My Love For You is Like a Truck

When you impress someone with feats of martial strength, take +1 ongoing to Parley with them.

Appetite for Destruction

Take a move from the Fighter class list.

Completely Heedless

You can have heedless dice equal to your Con+1.

Too Angry To Die

When you take your last breath if you have no heedless dice you treat a 6- as a 7–9 instead.

What Is Best In Life

At the end of a session, if this session you have crushed your enemies, seen them driven before you, or have heard the lamentations of their kin mark XP.


When you make a Str or Con roll you can spend a heedless die of size d8 or larger to take +1 on the roll.

A Good Day to Die

When you have have more heedless dice than HP, take +1 ongoing


You do not feel fear. Any spell, effect, or manipulation based on fear doesn’t work on you.


You’ve travelled the wide world over. When you arrive someplace ask the GM about any important traditions, rituals, and so on, they’ll tell you what you need to know.

Even More Heedless

You can have heedless dice equal to your Con+2.

Kill ‘em All

Choose another move from the Fighter class list.

137 thoughts on “The Barbarian”

  1. Heedless dice feel a little fiddly to me, but I don’t have any good suggestions for making them less so. And fiddly isn’t always a bad thing.

    On the other hand, I like the incentive to always be earning and spending those heedless dice. That’s a nice circular economy I can get behind.

  2. My big goal here was to avoid a binary on/off Rage-type thing. I feel like any move that says “when you fly into a rage” would be pretty lame, because it turns being an explosive sack of emotions into a tactical decision—”well, if I rage now I don’t have to worry about taking more damage because they’re just goblins, but I the extra attack bonus will” blah blah blah.

  3. Ok, after the initial moment of awestruckedness, I re-read it and noticed one thing: only d8 or higher headless dice get to be spent to do cool things that are not “increasing damage”. No love for d6 and d4?

  4. We’re obviously pretty inspired by the Doom Pool from MHRP in regards to Heedless.  

    It’s also worth mentioning that all of this is very much alpha version 0.01 so there may be places where internal math, etc don’t match up at all.

    Ernesto Pavan there’s a threshold for “special effects” for this move.  If we allowed players to power big moves with d4s, they’d just be getting scratched and outputting all their craziest stuff.  You have to earn those heedless die powered moves!

  5. Lastly, we’re looking at modifying or creating additional options for the generation of Heedless dice.  Right now, the default is “when you take damage from an enemy” but we’ve considered, as options (maybe via extra moves, etc)

    – when a chosen ally takes damage (so a sort of buddy-cop pair-bond Chewbacca/Han Solo thing)

    – when you take a certain kind of damage (arcane magic, divine magic, etc) double or increase the die

    etc etc

  6. A move where you chose another character and get heedless dice off damage dealt to them is highly interesting, but possibly a little too powerful. Get the fighter defending and the barbarian is a machine. Might have to downscale dice you get from other people or something.

  7. The My Love For You is Like a Truck seems a little “mother may I” to me.  I do this, does that impress them?  Well, what about now?  Seems like you really need the GMs permission to make the move.

    Fearless seems a little passive.  Maybe it isn’t a problem if the GM is being a fan and looking for ways to no effect you but I’d worry it would end up being forgotten.  Consider making it an active ability that players can trigger themselves.

  8. Marshall Miller you don’t ask the GM for permission, you just say “I impress them” and do the feat of strength.  I’ll make that clear in the move.  

    As far as Fearless goes, it’s the same as the Druid’s ability to not have to eat Rations.  You’re ignoring a mechanical and fictional danger forever and ever.  When the GM says “oh, you trigger the lich’s fear aura” the Barbarian says “RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGRNHNR!”

    and then promptly ignores it.

  9. The Heedless dice thing feels way more fiddly and explicitly mechanical than a lot of other DW content. Feels a bit weird to me. I expected stuff more like “When you shrug off damage that has been inflicted upon you, roll+DMG” or something.

    For getting the rage-y flavor for the class, my thoughts would lead more toward a reward mechanic for putting yourself in situations where rage would be appropriate, e.g. something like “When someone insults or demeans your homeland or customs, take +1 forward for your next Hack & Slash against them”.

  10. Dan Maruschak I think we’re going to stick with the Heedless mechanic for at least a few rounds of playtesting to see how it pans out.  I have a feeling that marking damage and setting aside dice should actually be pretty straightforward.  

    Actual play will prove or disprove our hypothesis!

  11. It’s interesting, because I don’t see this as any more fiddly than any hold mechanic. Maybe if we used that common language? You’re just getting different amounts/types (could work either way) of hold based on the damage dealt to you. You can spend that hold on cool stuff.

  12. It’s just that it’s several kinds of thing, while holds are all fungible. OK, shoot me for jargon abuse. Holds are interchangeable and identical. But the uses of the different sizes of die makes a lot of sense, and I’m guessing it won’t actually feel very fiddly in play.

  13. The way I see it, when the Barbarian takes damage, they just look at the die that was rolled, pick it up and put it on their sheet (or if you’re short on dice, just mark it somewhere).  This indicates just how crazy the Barbarian is getting.  1d4?  You’re probably just annoyed.  3d12?  FULL ON RAGE.  It’s a direct mechanical indicator of a fictional level of heedlessness.  

    As far as actual play mechanisms go, it’s slightly more fiddly than the Druid’s “Balance” or taking +1 forward or spending Hold, yeah?  We’ve just got various “sizes” of Hold.  

    If it proves to be too fiddly, as a second iteration we may just say “when you take damage from an enemy, take 1 Hold” and then expend X hold to do stuff. 

    That said, this is version one.  It’ll go into playtest more or less as-is and we’ll post what we come up with here!

  14. For counterpoint, I like the heedless mechanic.

    Although, I thought it worked more like Fate’s damage [until I re-read]: if you’ve already marked d4 and you take another d4, you mark the d6 instead.  (This might make it more fiddly, though.)

    EDIT: Accumulating hold is a bit more in line with the existing mechanics (and could feel like YOU’RE MAKING ME ANGRY), and would also add a bit of “push your luck” to it.  MUST PLAYTEST.

  15. Adam Blinkinsop stepping up / stepping back dice would definitely get more fiddly than we’re after.  if you have 2d4 (and a +2 CON) then you take a d6 then you have 1d4 / 1d6.

    We also need to somehow account for Barbarians with a 0 or -1 CON.  Maybe a 1 minimum Heedless pool.

  16. I will try to give this a workout next week. The vibe is great, and I’ve learned when not to put too much weight on my reading-before-playing reactions.

  17. 1 minimum might work. I was thinking about making it 2+con, but that means it’s pretty close to limitless (with a strong barbarian being able to build up 4 dice, and since dice are roughly per fight, that’s a lot of hits to take).

  18. Hm.  There’s the “uneducated” aspect to the Barbarian that seems to be missing, but I’m not sure how to add it nicely.

    I like your weapon awesomeness (though imagining a Barbarian with a dagger or darts or something is a little … disturbing), and SMASH! is beautiful.


  19. I actually think we’re looking for feedback on anything! This is like an alpha copy-pasted from a gdoc, if heedless doesn’t click we can continue thinking. It clicked for us which is why we’re seeing how it works for other people.

  20. Adam Koebel /elf tears

    More usefully: I’d also like to see something about how having a bunch of Heedlessness sucks. Like, take -1 ongoing to Parley per Heedless die held, you can only Defy Danger with physical stats, or even assign some increasingly worse badness per step die. (That last is probably beyond fiddly tolerances.)

    Basically what I’m saying is I want my barbarian to accidentally murder the smarmy wizard.

  21. I like dwarf barbarians for the Warhmmery-ness of them.

    We don’t want to go to far into the “uneducated” or “tribal” sides of the barbarian. We tried, and they always ended up feeling kind of icky and vaguely racist. Not even elf-horse racist.

    The one version of the “tribal” approach that I liked (but wouldn’t fit the common vision of a barbarians) is to give you a move like this:

    Not From Around Here

    You’re from a culture markedly different than that of whereever the game starts. Choose X that are true for you and your culture, but not here.

    -You cook your food

    -You do not mark your body with ink or piercing

    -You cut your hair


    It’s a fun little inversion of expectations, but I think a lot of people would hate it.

  22. This might just be me being a pedantic rules lawyer but…

    How the hell does “Too Angry to Die” work? I only make the Last Breath move when I run out of HP right? And I gain heedless dice whenever I take damage, right?

    How can I run out of HP and have no heedless dice at the same time?

  23. Uneducated could be a modified spout lore, perhaps, basically providing the GM with different options when a Barbarian spouts.  (Bring it closer to the AW maelstrom concept, even?  That might be too shaman-ish.)

    It seems awesome.  My brother (Philip Blinkinsop, who plays Bard or Barb) will definitely be interested.

  24. I like heedless. It incentivizes using the small dice for added damage, which should be a nice boost in killing power, but also encourages the Barbarian to use his really big dice for more impressive, dramatic, and, well, metal acts.

  25. That’s a really good point! That move is useless, it only covers like death magic or decapitation or whatever. Might have to change to “as long as you have a dX or larger heedless die”

  26. Hm, but then you get stuck on “I don’t want to spend my heedless die, because then I could fail my roll”, which seems non-Barbarianish.

    On the other hand, death magic / decapitation / insta-death should make the Barbarian too angry to die, so it works there. 🙂

    Perhaps their Last Breath roll isn’t +nothing, they get to roll their lowest heedless die?  (Fiddly warning.)

  27. Adam Blinkinsop that’s not a bad idea at all.  I like changing some basic moves while you’re Heedless.  Discern Realities might be;

    – Who is the weakest target?

    – Whose weakness will betray them?

    – Who is the strongest challenge?

    etc.  All very focused.

  28. Adam Blinkinsop the situation we want to encourage is taking as much damage as possible without overdoing it, but also having the room, with some moves, to do the big heroic self-sacrifice thing where you end up with a GIANT pool of heedless dice but you KNOW you’ll die when it’s over.

  29. Not hoarded is good, but I feel like “Power Down” probably has that covered. (Although, I might consider swapping “sleep” for “rest”. They shouldn’t stay pissed if they spend an hour chilling out sitting on a rock.)

    The fact that you can’t really hang on to them is a good incentive to spend them fast.

  30. 1) That really makes me want the Fate-style escalation.  I know it’s fiddly, but I’d feel cheated if the death-of-many-stings never got the Barbarian mechanically angered.

    2) Self-sacrifice is covered by the moves as written, “To Angry To Die” is built around the “wait, I wasn’t quite done yet” feeling, so you don’t get blindsided and lose your Barbarian to a glitch.  That could be covered by the DM, I’m not sure.

    3) The Last Breath modification would also push the Barbarian away from being cautious — I haven’t taken any damage, so bring it on!

    Perhaps the most straightforward modification: when you have at most one heedless die.

  31. One thing we’ll need to focus on during a second pass is how to broaden the non-combat / non-crazed aspects of the Barbarian.  What else is he about.

    Something (and this is totally credit Stras Acimovic) like the Quarantine Q&A mechanic to help the Barbarian paint in his homeland and how it affects him as a traveler-out-of-his-element.

  32. Musclebound + Mobile are straightforward mods.  Everything else is Heedless + supporting mechanics (the main way to spend == Hulk Out, and the reset mechanic == Power Down).

    Everything else is either an alternate or augmented move.

    Samson feels like Hulk Out applied to some kind of Defy Danger (Str) roll, but what’s the danger?  (Same for SMASH! in a sense.)

    In fact … you might simplify: “When you do something destructive, you can add one or more heedless dice to the roll.”

    (EDIT: Yes, I love rolling tons of dice.)

  33. I think that my negative reaction to the dice thing is that it looks on the surface like a subsystem that doesn’t work like any other subsystems in the game, so it has the effect of making it look like it increases the total complexity of the game, even if it’s not actually a big deal in practice. (Maybe hooking into the debility subsystem might make it feel more integrated?)

  34. I think we’ll have to collect a lot more feedback on the lack of integration. It feels as integrated to me as any of the special class mechanics—quests or spells or whatever.

  35. But a quest is like a really small thing mechanics wise that you really use every few sessions, this is a big subsystem you use all the time. Spellcasting is also really familiar to anyone with DnD experience. This is new and more invasive. You only do spell stuff when you do spell stuff. When you do Barbarian stuff you use the dice, big difference i fear.

  36. Well, you don’t really USE the dice, do you? They’re just a convenient way of ranking hold. You don’t actually roll them. (unless I missed something).

  37. First, I am very amused with What is Best in Life.

    Second, would an Advanced move which let you step up heedless dice be too powerful? (Or, alternatively, lowered the requirement of other moves by 1 step.) This might be wandering into “way to fiddly”.

    If the dice tiers are a problem, I suppose you could have things cost 1/2/3/4 hold or something like that, but I’m not sure if that becomes more fiddly or less.

    Perhaps a move to use up the smaller dice would be something like:


    When you have more than 1 Heedless dice of size d4 or d6, roll+STR.

    On a 10+: Spend 1 Heedless dice of d6 or smaller to do that much damage to a melee opponent.

    On a 7-9: As 10+, but you expose yourself to danger (Or lose 1 of the Heedless dice?)

    This way, if the Barbarian is getting picked at by small things a lot, she doesn’t end up stuck with extra damage to one opponent at a time.

  38. What Jeremy Friesen said.

    This is the absolute earliest we’ve ever publicly shown a class, but you’re all welcome to grab it and chuck it in your game and see what happens.

    Caveat emptor and all, but I bet it’ll be a fun mess, at least.

  39. Adam Koebel yes please for Mechanically Powerful and Fictionally Powerful!

    I believe there are those who want the mechanical aspect and those that want the fictional aspect and I want to see us explore those spaces together.

  40. You only quest every few sessions? Woah.

    So maybe if we phrased it a bit more like familiar abilities?


    Choose 2 triggers.

    -You take damage: 1 heedless

    -You take 5 or more damage: 3 heedless

    -Name an ally. When that ally takes damage: 1 heedless

    -When you charge into battle: 2 heedless

    -When you destroy something: 2 heedless


    Then moves spend some amount of heedless. Maybe spend heedless to get that much damage, etc.

    That seems less cool to me, and requires a lot more fiddly bookkeeping. You could get double digit heedless.

  41. Point of order. Being Mr. Fictional positioning I feel the need to step up a bit. Some classes have more mechanical bits, some more fictitive ones. Locking it down completely seems to go against the spirit of the game – which at it’s core is a balance of the two really (imo, let me know if I’m way off base here).

    That said you guys rock 🙂 and I’m happy to throw this at my players and post feedback.

  42. No sorry Sage LaTorra . A paladin shoud allways be questing but there is not much happening. He chooses a target and get’s the boons and restrictions right? This is a thing that takes like 2 minutes tops and then you only think about it again if you are done with your quest. 

    I haven’t seen a Paladin in play but this is what i thought would be happening. We could talk about this somewhere else.

  43. As far as non-combat stuff go, there’s certainly a cliche of the sense of truth – not necessarily “what’s actually going on”, but “this is not what it’s claiming to be”. Discern Realities covers a lot of that, of course, but maybe bonuses in Parley and such?

  44. The process of creation is usually;

    1) Make up a core concept

    2) Write some moves

    3) Check if they break the game

    4) Revise

    Actual play definitely informs the fictional stuff.  The Druid, for a while, was just the Shapeshifter move.

  45. Yeah. I think turning heedless into hold makes it MORE fiddly. Right now it only SEEMS fiddly because using dice to track something is new.

    At least, that’s my opinion.

  46. nod Heedless-as-dice is something I really want to try.

    The other thing to remember is that when we “officially” create new stuff for the game, it encourages other creators to use and twist it.  So putting in a “dice to track stuff” mechanism means someone, somewhere, might use it to hack together something EVEN COOLER.

    Like how we only use full-stat-as-something really for Constitution HP.  Someone else might use Wisdom as Sanity or Mana points.

  47. I strongly suspect you’re quite right, Dylan.

    There’s also the barbarian as teacher of the ways of the savage garden. I’m not sure what the right mechanic would be. Let folks mark xp on a 7-9, once per session, on wilderness stuff when with a barbarian?

  48. Adam: For Dungeon World Modern, can only post to the net when Int < current hit points. Can only argue with those who are wrong on the net when Int < hp/2. :)

  49. Okay, someone (specifically, MadRhetoric and eth0.n) brought this up on SA’s Dungeon World thread and it’s too good not to share.

    1. Use your “take a Fighter” move to take “Multiclass Dabbler”.

    2. Use “Multiclass Dabbler” to take the Druid’s shapeshift move.


  50. Sean Dunstan *laugh* Yeah, I think I’m going to have to put “Choose a non-Multiclass move” on there to prevent leap-frog multiclassing.  It works for Druid -> Ranger -> Cleric Spells but the intent wasn’t Barbarian -> Fighter -> Druid Shapeshifting. 

    You have to earn that shit FICTIONALLY.

  51. I like Heedless-as-dice. I would just change it to say that when you take damage from an enemy, you can mark a heedless die, or you can bump one heedless die up one size.

    By the time a Barbarian’s turned 3 d4 scratches into a 1d8 heedless die, he’s faced a possible 3-12 damage, as opposed to the 1-8 damage from one d8 attack.

    The way it is now, a room full of goblins could plink a barbarian to death while never triggering one of the more powerful effects, or you could papercut a chained barbarian to death without ever giving him enough heedless to Samson it up, and neither of those things seems right.

  52. Well, you’ve now gone and made me and my Shaman feel completely inadequate. Thanks, guys. 🙁

    This is fantastic, though (and you’ve done expertise dice better than Next).

  53. Probably too fiddly, but relating to the basic moves-heedless dice thing…

    Maybe two lists of moves…

    “When you parley, spout lore, volley, or defy danger using int, cha, or wis, if you have heedless dice, roll them all and keep the two lowest instead of rolling 2d6.”

    “When you defend, hack and slash, or defy danger using dex, con, or str, if you have heedless dice, roll your two highest instead of 2d6.”

    Maybe? Something like that…

    Might be too much, but a part of me really likes it.

  54. I like it! Hulk out took me a second to figure out, realizing you could use it AFTER your normal roll and that you got the max result automatically, which removed my initial objecting thought of “Do d4 and d6 heedless dice have ANY uses?”

  55. I like the feel of this a lot, but I don’t like the heedless dice mechanic.  It feels like the antithesis of what a barbarian would be doing.  As in, try telling a barbarian to keep a list of the specific numbers of…well, anything.  She responds by feeding you your teeth.

    What if instead there was a move along the lines of when you take damage, hold N, and then you can spend those N to be angry?

  56. Ooh, I like Lee S ‘s idea, too.  Perhaps something like

    “When you take damage, nurse a 1d4 grudge die.  If you are nursing a grudge, you may grow that grudge by a die size or start a new grudge.  You may nurse CON grudges at a time.  If you sustain more than (equation based on CON) damage from a single attack, you may nurse a new 1d6 grudge, or grow an existing grudge two sizes.”

    “Grudge” probably doesn’t have the right connotations, but whatever.

  57. Isn’t tracking multiple grudge dice more tracking of specific numbers instead of less? Especially in that version, with a quick way to get to d6.

    Maybe more like this?

    “When you take damage choose:

    -Take a d4 heedless dice

    -Increase the size of one of your heedless dice by one step

    You can’t have more than Con heedless dice at one (or 1 heedless dice if you con is 0 or lower).”

    The thing I’m not sure of there is how it plays with other things that might give you heedless dice. I don’t want every move that gives heedless to have to repeat that text.

    I’m also wondering if taling damage is too narrow a trigger, but any broader trigger seems hard to do. Something like “When you suffer a setback (damage, calamity, etc.)…” maybe?

  58. John Hawkins we really want to avoid that kind of thing. Fishing for “this is why I’m angry” is lame. In particular, we don’t want the best way to play a barbarian to be having the fighter smack you around a few times before battle.

  59. Sage LaTorra I like your framing.  I think it’s important that a SERIOUS setback (i.e. crippling damage) would jump you over a step or two.  But I have no idea how any of this plays in practice, obv.

  60. The more I think about it the less I like the barbarian becoming much more powerful when they take damage (or suffer calamity, or whatever).

    The problem I see is that our hypothetical barbarian, if he’s playing to his strengths, is actually better off walking into a fight with kobolds and not defending himself for a bit. Now, of course, the GM can use this as a golden opportunity and hit him, but still: we’ve established that a smart barbarian should try to get hurt.

    As a boardgame mechanic I think it’s pretty sweet. Nice little juggling of risk and reward. The problem is that it doesn’t make much sense for a person.

    It also doesn’t seem much like a barbarian. I’m not a Conan expert, but it seems like what really makes him an awesome barbarian isn’t his anger. He’s a messy dangerous combatant who is a bit chaotic and messy. He doesn’t need to be angry to fight.

  61. Conan has two great strengths – and mind you when we first see him, he’s running away from a handful of guards, and lands on a ship, so he’s not suicidal. He had killed a guard captain in a squabble and two armed and armored guards were taking him in.

    One – he’s not from around here.  This gives him the ability to see above and beyond the strictures of society. The reason he becomes King of Aquilonia is less about the fact that he’s totally badass (but he is) and more about the fact that he simply walks up to the guy and strangles him on his throne – something nobody including the king thought was possible.  He succeeds so many times because he does things that no sane man would attempt because he doesn’t have the idea that laws apply to him.  If you watch the movies this happens again and again.  He walks up to a legal proceeding (woman tied to stake sorrounded by people) and he cuts her free. And nobody says a word.

    Two – he keeps going when others cannot, like Rasputin he is a monster.  In ‘Gods of the North’ after an entire army is dead, and his limbs are frozen he pushes on.  Again and again he takes wounds that drop lesser men, and he pushes right past them, spreading fear, terror and legend.

    Mind you he doesn’t take them on purpose. In the above story he was mailed, helmed and well prepped for example.  Just he is able to terrify his opponents by being essentially inhuman. When a wizard expects him to fold, he does not.  When a godling expects him to give up, he pushes past exhaustion, past pain, past every possible barrier. It’s that stubbornness that often carries him through battle.

    But that’s Conan.  There’s buckets of other awesome barbarian examples (even historical ones) we can pull on.

  62. I guess that depends on which barbarian you’re modeling, Sage LaTorra: Conan/Fafhrd or DnD Barbarian.

    If you want him to fight like Conan, Rage is not the way. Conan is constantly described as having animal instincts and the perfect combination of strength, endurance, and cat-like agility. He doesn’t fight like a man, he fights like a panther.

    I’m’a spitball for a minute. What about a move called something like “Born to Battle.”

    Each time you do something evocatively barbaric in a fight, hold 1 blooded. Spend your blooded 1-for-1 to:

    – take +1 to Defy Danger

    – restore (not heal) +1d6 damage

    – ask one question about the immediate state of the battle that the GM will answer truthfully

    – drive an enemy into a disadvantageous position

    After a fight, discard blooded in excess of your CON. You may use this blooded in future fights or to fuel other barbarian moves.

    So, the effect is that the longer the barbarian remains in the fight, the more effective she becomes.

  63. I’m kind of worried about the build-up-to-a-big-hit thing. The barbarian is this beast, right? Conan can just walk up and kill a dude. He doesn’t have to fight for a while before he slices you in half.

    One thing I’m thinking about: maybe the barbarian can succeed more, but the best they can hope or a 10+ is more complicated.

    My current idea on this is that you get an extra d4 that you roll whenever you make a Str, Con, or Dex move. If the d4 is higher than either of your normal dice, you use it instead, but the GM gets to add collateral damage. Basically: the barbarian is unpredictable.

  64. Re: Conan, yeah and no. Conan murders mooks by the score, but he can get sucker-punched or land wrong. He does a lot. He doesn’t win every fight. Gigantic melancholy and mirth, right?

    In the move I wrote, there’s no big hit to wait for (isn’t that what 10+ on Hack and Slash is for anyway?). It’s more about making the barbarian a force of nature when the blood is rushing in his ears.

    But, like Stras said, that’s Conan. Who is your Barbarian?

  65. I was thinking about a modified ammo track, where you crossed off boxes to cheat moves. (7-9 on any move: cross off Barb box to make it a 10+)

    Wasn’t sure it’d work with a Rage-style Barb, but Conan seems much more like that kind of dude. It could even be tied to a stat or two, so you could only cheat a move if you were already adding a keyed stat.

  66. So what I’m hearing is that Adam Koebel and Sage LaTorra are presenting two different ways of being unpredictable. One is fictional: the barbarian succeeds because she is Other and so isn’t bound by society’s conventions. The other is mechanical: the barbarian is unpredictable because she doesn’t play by the rules of DW as we know them (whether that’s Heedless dice or rolling 2d6+1d4 or whatever).

    These two ways don’t seem mutually exclusive, but they are definitely not the same.

  67. We’re exploring a space that definitely includes both options. 

    But yeah, functional and useful as this thread is, I think it’s reached its maximum usefulness capacity without actual play.  

    As we know from our Barbarian friends – talk is cheap, action is priceless.

  68. Long comment. Apologies.

    There’s two barbarian character types which I hate seeing in games. You’ve avoided the first, which is “The unstable hair-trigger-temper barbarian has to coldbloodly decide when to lose control or risk losing a major combat resource.”

    However, features that fall under the scope of “the GM gets to add collateral damage if…” fall squarely into the other one: The Liability. Other classes have an action plan that simply reads “Do awesome thing”. On the other hand, the Liability’s action plan reads “Spend important resources to do awesome things”, which makes it almost certain that they’ll end up being a disproportionate drain on the party resource and possibly create a feeling of “Why do we let this guy come with us? He needs three times more healing than anybody else! If this is balanced out by “Spend important resources to do INCREDIBLY awesome things”, the group ends up feeling more like a support team for the wrecking ball.

    Right now, the Barbarian is a classic Liability; in order to anything awesome, he has to take damage. This damage will have to be healed at some point, making him something of a drain compared to a class that doesn’t rely on a health/awesome tradeoff. Soooo…

    I’d like to see alternate methods of generating heedless, thing that don’t involve you directly taking damage. Things like:

    -When you roll maximum damage (you get pumped up about how awesome you are)

    -When you overkill an enemy by more than X. (see above)

    -When your ‘witch’ takes more than X damage from a single hit. (this assumes a Minsc-esque “must defend X” bond)

    -When you start a fight by immediately charging the nearest enemy.


    Then I’d like to see some of the unpredictability come out in moves. All the Barbarian’s moves now are kind of passive. I’d to expend heedless dice on special attacks. A Reckless Swing type power that deals moderate damage to additional GM chosen targets, for example. This encourages a somewhat reckless playstyle in certain situations, where the tradeoff can be useful and where the Barbarian can arrange for all the extra targets to be enemies. Plow headlong into a group of goblins and cut big bloody swathes through them. Hold off guards in a hallway while his allies retreat. Things that encourage recklessness/heedlessness without being a distinct health/damage tradeoff. 

    And then I’d like to see some non-damage ways of triggering some of these powers. Take a temporarary debility to use Samson with zero heedless dice. You can use your mighty Barbarian strength to wrench open the locked gate to escape, but then you’re Confused/Shaky until you stop and catch your breath. 

    AND FINALLY, I’d like to see some more naturey stuff, even if it does kind of poach the Ranger’s turf. we had a party that consisted of a fighter/wizard/cleric/paladin/thief/druid, and we were all sitting around one game going “And so none of us know how to read tracks? I guess the druid can go Form of Bloodhound and try to sniff out a trail?” I don’t think it would be overkill to have a second class with an outdoorsmanish flavor.

  69. Sage, upthread: “A move where you chose another character and get heedless dice off damage dealt to them is highly interesting, but possibly a little too powerful.”

    How about guard against this fictionally, like “When someone weaker accepts your protection…”. 

    That phrasing might be more paladin than barbarian, and some groups would ignore the fictional cost (“we’re more effective if I just say I’m weaker than you? sure thing”), but in my group that line could generate heaps of play.

  70. Sorry but I dont’t like this playbook at all. Basically, if you don’t take damage as breakfast, you can’t fuel your moves, and everyday you’re back to the start. This creates a totally “niche” character while all the others, even the thief, can be a real asset to any group in a lot of situation. I can imagine myself playing all classes except the barbarian. Far too narrow in terms of “usage” (for a lack of better word).

  71. In my world when a pair of barbarians stand together against a foe they have the ability to fight In Concert. To do this they stand in the same space on a combat grid but do not interfere with each other. Instead they gain combat bonuses by keenly anticipating each other’s movements and weaknesses, continually nudging one another to help dodge blows and regain balance, and using subtle vocal cues. They each get a morale bonus and an armor class bonus, and one of them can parry an attack upon the other while still following through with his or her own attack (taking a slight attack penalty). Although they don’t have to fight literally back to back, no opponent can back-attack them while they fight In Concert because they innately watch each other’s backs.

    Fighting in concert is just one way my barbarians express their view of the universe in terms of dualities — sometimes opposites, sometimes complementary. Their culture and shaman magic make extensive use of dual aspects of things — day and night, male and female, the back and forth swing of a pendulum, etc.

    If you like any of these ideas please use them freely for your own Barbarians.

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