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Barb: Barbarian Rage

Updated Fri, Feb 13, 2009 by Shayalyn

Angry On The Inside:

The Strategies of Barbarian Rage

By Darkgolem

Barbarian rage is an ability often used inefficiently.
While 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.

Entering RageWith 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.Rage leaves 'em dead
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.

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