Angry On The Inside:
The Strategies of Barbarian Rage
Barbarian rage is an ability often used inefficiently.
perhaps not as impressive as some of the things other classes can do,
it can have a devastating affect upon the enemies of a party of
adventurers. When used properly, Rage can change the success of an
adventuring party on most quests.
Things to remember:
The first step to using barbarian Rage properly is to gain an
understanding of what Rage brings to the table for an adventuring party
and the best way to take advantage of Rage when it is being used.
Rage increases Strength by +4, Constitution by +4, adds +2 to Will
saves and reduces armor class by 2. In addition to these substantial
bonuses, Enhancements available to barbarians can increase these
bonuses to an additional +4 Constitution, Strength, and Will saves.
Finally, at higher levels, a barbarian gains Greater Rage, adding +2
more Strength and Constitution, and +1 Will saves on top of other
bonuses. With all the bonuses added together, a barbarian can have a
Rage of +10 Strength, +10 Constitution, and +7 Will saves!
When Rage is used, it can be multiplied in effect by Feat choices.
Immediately, a two handed weapon does a half more strength damage than
a single handed weapon. And even more, the benefits of Power Attack
adds to this, too. So a barbarian using a two handed weapon with the
full bonuses of Greater Rage and the Enhancements I mentioned has a +7
damage bonus, and a +15 with Power Attack!
Weapon choice also can multiply the benefits of a barbarian. A falchion
for example, has a threat range of 18-20, with double damage. Against
low armor class enemies, such as giants, a barbarian can get a critical
hit 15% of the time, doing on average 40 points of damage those times.
the benefit of the Two Handed Fighting Feat, a barbarian occasionally
does damage to all those who are in range by glancing blows. He can
literally pound a single foe into the ground while picking away those
around them. Cleave and Great Cleave also benefit a barbarian in taking
advantage of his Rage.
Naturally, the amount of raw punishment that a barbarian can deliver
when enraged is not the only benefit of Rage. It's important to
remember that a barbarian gains additional Fortitude and Will saves on
top of the benefits to Strength. A barbarian can save herself from mind
affects and poisons by Raging and adding Feats such as Iron Will to
that can bring that even higher.
When to Rage:
There are certain times where Raging is always a good thing:
- When you are being attacked by
mind affecting spells, or being forced to make Will saves. Will
saves can make you “stop, drop and die,” especially Hold Person.
- When the party is surprised.
If the party has a “Oh, $#!+” moment, walks around the corner somewhere
and an ambush is sprung, use your Rage. A single Rage can quickly kill
opponents when you bring your damage dealing capacity to bear, and your
goal in an ambush is to regain control of situation. Killing off your
opponents quickly allows you to bring an ambush to a manageable
situation by reducing the number of targets your confused party members
have to concentrate on.
- When you are low on hit points.
If you die, then you are out of commission until you reach a rest
shrine. At low levels or high, the extra hit points you gain from a
Rage can keep you going until your cleric or a rest shrine saves you.
But remember once you Rage starts, you are on a clock. When your CON
drops back to normal and your hit points drop, you had better hope you
have reached healing.
The remaining times you use Rage should be based upon your judgment
and how many shrines you have available. You can expect an even dozen
encounters in some adventures between rest shrines. At low levels, you
only have a couple Rages at most, and when you are at those levels, you
should use your Rages in desperate combat or when you know you are
close to a rest shrine.
At the point (using Enhancements) that you have 3-4 Rages per rest
period, use your Rage in any situation where the benefits(Will and Fort
saves, high damage to low armor class opponents) are useful.
Finally, at high levels, when you have more than 4 Rages, use your
Rages in any large combat or combat of significant length.
By following these guidelines, you make the most out the benefits of
Rage. You not only use Rages at the times when they are most efficient
but also get the most out of them.