Game: Unorthodox Barbarians
Publisher: The Le
Review Dated: 10th, January 2005
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10 [ Really good ]
Total Score: 8
Average Score: 8.00
Written by Robert J Grady
This is a collection of five variant Barbarian classes for the d20 system.
This 32-page book contains variations on the standard Barbarian core class. As is standard from The Le Games, this e-book comes as a zip file containing both landscape (screen reading) and portrait (printing) pdf’s, as well as an rtf for copy-pasting. The introduction includes a comment that not every variation will work well with every setting, and includes some notes on adjusting the class accordingly. One odd note stands out on this page: the introduction states that it “contains 5 variations on Clerics” rather than Barbarians.
The remainder of the booklet consists of five different re-writes of the Barbarian class. Rather than just retooled statistics blocks, these are full descriptions. Each is illustrated and contains useful expository text, such as background & religion.
The Conqurer seems inspired by the later Conan books, or at least the barbarians from the Civilization series of video games. It seems a bit feat-heavy, gaining a bonus every even level, like a Fighter, albeit from a smaller list. This retooled class is defined less by its harsh homeland, like the typical Barbarian, and more by the fact that they are no longer living there. It is interesting that this Barbarian gets additional class skills added over time, such as Diplomacy or Knowledge (nobility & royalty). The class was designed for massed battles, rather than dungeon crawls, and doesn’t get the expected deadly personal attacks & bonuses until 14th level with the Conquror’s Contempt ability, which gives a list of nasty pseudo-feats to choose. Before then the Conqureror’s bonus abilities are more like initiative bonuses, or morale bonuses for allies.
Corsairs are piratical Barbarians. This is a well-constructed variant class, and lacks even the martial flashiness of the standard Barbarian. At least, this much is apparent on an initial inspection. The Rage ability has been modified into the Last Stand ability, and starts at 5th level. Other abilities are primarily defensive, and none are remotely game-breaking. This is this reviewer’s personal favourite among all of the presented variant classes. The Corsair write-up does a good job at enabling the reader to easily visualise barbaric pirates swinging from ship to ship, cutlass in hand.
Planar Mauraders are something that would have made a nice addition from way back in the Planescape days of AD&D, and are no less welcome now. These are Barbarians who have made an entire tribal lifestyle out of being adventurers. The Rage ability is gained at 4th level; it is less-powerful (statwise) than the standard form, but has elemental (and later other planar) enhancements that make it far more versatile. Plane Shift is gained at 9th level, and at 15th the Planar Maurader is immune to the hazzards normal to a plane, such as fire immunity on the Plane of Fire. These are powerful abilities, but are nearly essential to the class’s role. In fact, one wonders why the Planar Attunement ability (though a powerful defence), is not gained far earlier. The variety of magical abilities granted during a Planar Range makes this variant class more suitable for campaigns with a high degree of magic.
The strange Savage Screamer is a fairly typical Barbarian until 6th level, when the definitive ability is gained. This is something of a barbaric yalp gone to extremes, focused by Rage to a mystical effect. At 9th level, this ability is amplified to where the Screamer is almost something of a minor spellcaster. Other than the cultural descriptive notes–of which this reviewer would like to see expanded further–this variant class might have made a better Prestige class. If nothing else, the inclusion of the Screamer certainly merits the “Unconventional” tag in the title.
Wild Riders concludes the variant Barbarians. Their version of Rage applies to their mounts. The bulk of their abilities is bonus feats related to mounted combat. Also feat related is a new general feat designed for them, Extended Spur Frenzy, which extends the time that a mount may gain the Rage effects. While this variant class is certainly interesting, it is essentially something that a standard Barbarian can do with careful feat selections, save for the modified Rage ability.