Well, we came back around at the barbarian from another angle, and we’re pretty happy with how it turned out!

Well, we came back around at the barbarian from another angle, and we’re pretty happy with how it turned out!

Well, we came back around at the barbarian from another angle, and we’re pretty happy with how it turned out!

After a few different approaches (mighty emotions, damage-spurred power) we arrived at the barbarian as someone with a hunger—for power, for blood, for those things humans crave. That burning desire (and the boldness to follow it) is what makes them powerful.

That power comes in the form of rolling d6+d8 instead of 2d6 when making a move to pursue their appetites. While this isn’t something we’ve done before in DW, I’m pretty happy with it—it works out to be like a +1 bonus, but with much more variability. A 2 is still an option, but so is an unmodified 14!

Take a look and see what you think.


52 thoughts on “Well, we came back around at the barbarian from another angle, and we’re pretty happy with how it turned out!”

  1. I didn’t think it was possible to top My Love For You Is Like a Truck as a move name.

    And then I saw “The One Who Knocks.”

    You beautiful, beautiful bastards.

  2. I really enjoyed reading the Barbarian. When the Kickstarter was running, and the vote was between either a Barbarian or Druid playbook I wanted the Druid because I knew for certain it would fill a different space – I didn’t know that about the Barbarian.

    However, with the Appetites, the Barbarian is safely a different creature than the Fighter.

    It looks good. Now to find time to get someone to play it.

  3. I was worried that the barbarian would be too close to the fighter too! I think the barbarian needed to be about more than just a different way of fighting, it needed to be about a different drive for fighting.

    I’m also looking at more ways we can mess with the 1d6+1d8 roll. Lots of potential there!

  4. With “What are you waiting for?” does , take +2 damage ongoing 

    against them mean you deal additional damage or take it when they deal damage to you?

  5. ‘Requires appetite for pure destruction’, not just ‘destruction’. More or less moves that require specific appetites please.

    Edit: oh, appetite for destruction is different than a herculean appetite for pure destruction…

  6. What does the appetite let the barbarian do, other than giving a slight bonus? It seems like other than that bonus, the main action of the move is to give the GM another chance to “put them in a spot”.

    I like the idea of a character driven by appetites, but this doesn’t seem like it does anything unique for the player. Maybe make appetites a modified version of the paladin’s quest, and give the barbarian something more… defining?

  7. Justin Watson interestingly, when pursuing an Appetite, the Barbarian’s chances of succeeding with their weak stats (likely WIS or INT) is notably better. Which could mean the mechanics rewards rash decisions.  

    Sure they are going to get a complication…but that d8 instead of d6 gives them almost a 15% increased chance of success.

  8. Titles: yeeeessssss

    Outsider: also yeessssss

    The Upper Hand: Huh. So the decision of whether the PC lives or dies, on a 7-9, will be in the GM’s hand? That’s… interesting. As a player I could definitely see ways of subverting that, though. “Return me to life, or I’m TAKING OVER THIS JOINT”. Okay, that makes me like it.

    I dig it, a lot. Looking forward to seeing one in play!

  9. I just don’t think a marginal bonus to some rolls, while sacrificing player agency to the GM on those rolls, is a good way of making a fun and interesting character.

    Think of it like a crime: you need means, motive and opportunity. Most good moves are means, and their triggers are opportunities. Appetite works fine as a motive (bonds and alignment work better), but it doesn’t give the player any means or opportunities that they wouldn’t get otherwise.

  10. Sage LaTorra: quick note: the new MC move format for the Barbarian specifies that you can’t take a MC move with it (thereby MCing into something else via MC Dabbler) – would it not make more sense to add that as a rule to the rulebook rather than say it for every MC move that targets specific classes?

    Also, I’m super excited. Now I can play Karsa Orlong in Dungeon World.

  11. It doesn’t remove player agency, it just says “when you pursue your appetites, your life becomes more complicated”. Collateral damage, strange happenings, etc.

    There is more to the Barbarian than the appetites, of course.

  12. Adam Koebel: fair enough – it just seems pretty inelegant to use restricted MC moves to MC into a class not on the list. Why not simply add the Cleric to the list of classes the Ranger or Druid can MC in? Why restrict the Barbarian this way and no one else? What’s wrong with a Barbarian with Thief or Wizard moves?

    Another quick note: More! Always More! seems like it really ought to be part of the Herculean Appetites move, rather than requiring the player take an advanced move to be able to resolve an appetite when narratively appropriate. It should be something the Barbarian can always do if both the DM and player agree it’s appropriate.

  13. Alex Norris because Ranger can only get Cleric spells, not every Cleric move. This way it was only spellcasting. We didn’t want Barbarians to sneak their way into Druid shapeshifter powers or Wizard magic.

    Thanks for the feedback re: more. We’ll have to see it in play. If resolution comes up often enough to warrant building it in, we will.

  14. Adam Koebel: also fair – I’m working on gut instinct, but given that most of my D&D games have involved people either walking off with the arch-wizard’s hoard of astral diamonds or murdering the king and claiming his throne by right of conquest, it seems resolving those appetites is something that’s going to happen pretty much inevitably, given enough time!

  15. I have to say, I really liked the past barbarian preview better than this one, the heedless mechanic, was it? Seemed a lot more unique.

    Not only that, but the 1d8+1d6 roll seems a little weak. Sure, you have more chances of success, but also more chance for complications? Not only that, but the complication for rolling the d8 higher will not give you xp, whereas the complication for a failed roll always will.

    I don’t know, I liked the last preview a lot, but this one is very “meh” to me. I was hoping the barbarian would be quite unique, but it doesn’t feel that way.

    (I still love you guys)

  16. Pretty much agree. Unless you can functionally (and fictionally) separate “complications” from “put them in a spot”, appetites seems more like a tool for the GM than for the player.

  17. andres acevedo the heedless mechanic had a fundamental issue: it was reactive. It made the barbarian’s best bet to get beat up for a while. What barbarian goes into a fight to get beat up? Barbarians are active forces of change, not reactive damage collectors.

    1d8+1d6 is roughly equal to a +1 bonus, but with some cool mathematical properties re: failure and 12+. The barbarian is actually pretty directly powerful—+1 to all rolls essentially, and with increased chance of a huge success as tied to some of their advanced moves (that grant extra stuff on a 12+).

    That said, we’ll keep looking at ways to make it more interactive and cooler. One thing to consider is in the d8 > d6 case maybe the barbarian chooses from a list, something like:

    -Your action has great effect with unexpected consequences (GM describes)

    -Your action leaves you in a spot

    -Your action gives your enemies an advantage, the GM will describe it

    Another thing that we might consider is some other fictional benefits to pursuing appetites, a bit like the paladin’s quest. Maybe at character creation you choose one to apply when you pursue your appetites with reckless abandon:

    -Freedom from pain (+1 armor)

    -The speed of a gazelle

    -The senses of a wolf


    Those exact phrasings might be off—too druid—but you get the idea.

    The barbarian actually shares a lot in common with the ranger, druid, and paladin. They’re all kind of approaching the same thing: a focused ability to do better in some situations, but with some tradeoff.

    The ranger chooses what situations to get a benefit in during character creation with animal training, and then gets pretty strong bonuses to do it. The downside is minimal (the animal may be a problem on a 6-, but they don’t do much to increase the chance of a 6-), but they don’t have much flexibility, they’re tied to certain tasks.

    The paladin is more flexible, in that they can take on quests and choose what tools they’d like. That comes with a larger complication: the GM gets to add conditions to their bonuses.

    The druid is very flexible, with each animal form fitting a situation, but it’s the hardest to make use of. The player has to come up with a good idea for a form, they have to make a roll, and even then a form is likely to have downsides when it comes to triggering other moves.

    The barbarian is the most flexible: their bonus applies in broad cases and it provides a very useful tool that works for anything—from combat to negotiation. That comes with the most unpredictable complication in the form of the d8 > d6 situation. Basically the barbarian trades a greater chance at success for the possibility of a slightly lesser form of success. The barbarian is less likely to outright fail, but more likely to have complications.

  18. I’ve been re-reading Howard’s Conan stories, and this feels a lot more awesome to me than going in a berserker direction.

    I had the same reaction as Alex Norris re: More! Always More!.  Using a level advancement to just get the option to change appetites and get an xp, but only if you do something Totally Awesome also, just seems horribly overpriced.  Resolving an appetite really should just be a role-playing decision, I think — I don’t see the need for spending a level advancement on it.

    I also wonder about Outsider and What is Best in Life.  Is it balanced to give the Barbarian not one but two additional ways to gain xp?  My group plays fairly short sessions (2-3 hours), so it seems like the Barbarian could gain a significant xp lead over the other characters before long.  Maybe that’s okay; I dunno.  Old-school D&D certainly had the thief expected to always be a level or two ahead of the wizard, it’s true.

  19. Part of the barbarian’s XP moves is that they’ll be rolling at a higher effective bonus much of the time, thanks to their appetites, so they’re less likely to miss and get the XP for that. We’re not trying to make everyone advance at the same rate, just give the barbarian some ability to level with fewer misses.

    Also, in general we’re big fans fo the level 10 options, and want to see them in play.

  20. I’m really loving the look of this new Barbarian playtest. The only real problem I have is that it came out just a little too late for my Desert Dwarf Fighter whose first words for the campaign were “I am now the farthest from my homeland I have ever been.”

    Also, I keep looking at this sheet and seeing a very non stereotypical “Barbarian” concept; The Wandering Samurai/Ronin. The Neutral alignment choice plays into it well as do three or four of the appetites (Power, Conquest, Fame and Riches all make the most sense to me on this). Either of the armor ability choices work (Unarmored Kurosawa Samurai or lacquered leather armor wearing Samurai.  Take the 2 handed sword option and roll with it from there.

    Just a thought.

  21. We definitely like having room to twist the archetype!

    At one point we looked at a barbarian design that could include some other outsiders, but it stretched it a bit too far. Though there’s no reason any class couldn’t take the outsider race…

  22. Justin Watson, in DW mechanics, an effective +1 to your rolls is not really a marginal bonus.  It can often mean +15% to your chance of success — see the graph Jeremy Friesen posted yesterday.  Just FYI.

  23. I love this new Barbarian SO MUCH. I want to play one IMMEDIATELY.

    They seem to be less about being powerful and tough (although they ware) and more about everyone treating them with fear and respect because they are so powerful and tough.

    Honestly, that seems cooler to me.

    The fighter may be better able to beat people up, but the barbarian is the one who everyone is afraid will beat them up!

  24. I’ve been reading Game of Thrones recently (on book 3, no spoilers) so there’s a bit of Drogo in the barbarian and a bit of Mormont in the fighter. Which lines up pretty well with the respect/reputation angle. Both are pretty great warriors, they both have reputations, but one is known as Not To Be Fucked With.

  25. Colin Roald On the contrary, a “bonus to rolls” is a marginal bonus in DW mechanics, where the design is specifically built around avoiding the trap of the uninteresting +1

  26. I know we already talked about that, but here is another warrior class with plenty of nice colorful moves, substantial damage, no armor penalty, weapon abilities and on the other hand Fighters have their weapon and the oldie bend/lift gates. I know now (thanks to people here) what narrative potential the fighter’s weapon have, but compared to to all Barbarian’s great moves (even Paladin’s ones) it seems a little unbalanced (imo).

  27. “Balance” is definitively not a thing we’re really going for. Some classes are mechanically more powerful than others. Some are narratively more powerful. Playtesting has always shown us that the Fighter stands up against all the other classes as an engaging, effective class.

    That said, modifying a class by adding moves or messing with stuff is really easy to do. Want to spice up the Fighter? Go for it!

  28. Like Adam said, pure balance isn’t a DW thing. But, if we’re doing our part right, all the classes should look interesting.

    The thing about the fighter is that they stand without need for gods or appetites or anything else. They don’t have to undertake quests, or feed their appetites. They just are. They’re free to do as they please with the power of their steel.

    That’s the tradeoff of being a paladin or barbarian. They get extra stuff, but they’re beholden to certain restrictions on their power.

  29. Adam Koebel Sage LaTorra  Thanks a lot for your answers. That’s crystal clear.

    This game is definitely great ! I’m feeling like 30 years ago, terribly excited and impatient about the next playing session. Thank you for that too.

  30. From playtests this week.  The barbarian recipe for success.

    Appetite: Riches/Conquest

    Build: Str/Charisma

    Key Moves: My love for you is like a truck, Usurper, Khan of Khans.


    Step 1: Find person that has an army.

    Step 2: SMASH! Person in front of army. (Gain +2 forward with army and still rolling d6+d8)

    Step 3: Parley with army promising Conquest and Glory.

    Step 4. Find person with giant pile of gold.

    Step 5: Apply Army.

    Step 6: Feed army with Conquest

    Step 7: PROFIT!

    I love charisma barbarians 😀

  31. The best part of that recipe for success is that it’s exactly how things should happen. It’s not like you’re cheating: congratulations, you’re an awesome barbarian because you’re acting like a barbarian.

  32. I love that there are so many social abilities to the Barbarian, its completely changed the way I look at the archetype. No more “Thog like shinnies”, now its all “Drogo, Khal of Khals”

    Best part, though? If you wanna play a “Thog like shinnies” Barbarian then everything you need is in there.

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