Day 28 of the 30 Day D&D Challenge.
28. What Character will you Never Play Again?
I don’t have a specific character but I do have a class that I have no desire to touch ever again. The 1st Edition Barbarian from Unearthed Arcana.
Unearthed Arcana is rightfully criticized for introducing a number of bad rules, including character rolling rules that should have been replaced with, “write down what you want.” It also introduced three new classes; the Cavalier, the Barbarian, and the Thief-Acrobat. The Thief-Acrobat is playable and worth checking out. The Cavalier is a nightmare of power gaming, especially when combined with the Paladin. The Barbarian was just a mess.
Barbarians are built around four principles. The first is their hatred of magic, “Barbarians in general detest magic and those who use it. ” They will refuse to use magical items, if they recognize them as magical (an interesting “out” to have) and gain experience from destroying magic items.
The second principle is about compensating for the first. As they go up in levels they gain bonuses to their saving throws and gain the ability to strike creatures that can only be hit by magical weapons. All this on top of using the D12 for hit points and a hefty dexterity-based bonus on their AC when using non-heavy armor. Also at the surprisingly low bar of fourth level a Barbarian gains the ability to use magic items.
The third is the Barbarian’s list of skills, designed to make you wonder why anyone would ever play a Ranger or regular Fighter again. They can; Climb Cliffs and Trees , Hide in Natural Surroundings, Surprise, detect incoming back stabs, leap, detect illusions and magic, survival, first aid, outdoor craft, tracking, animal handling, horsemanship, long distance signaling, running, build canoes and boats, imitate sounds, and build snares.
The fourth is the Barbarian horde. At level eight the Barbarian gains the ability to summon an army. The size of the horde is based on the character’s experience point total divided by 1000, takes a week to assemble, and stays together for a number of weeks equal to the character’s level. No roll is required, the Barbarian just sends out the call and over the next week warriors begin to assemble.
The Barbarian is a strange class that feels like it was designed for a different game or a very specific setting. It doesn’t fit well with the traditional wide ranging, dungeon delving, magic wielding party model. An even bigger surprise is how poorly this class emulates figures like Conan and Fafhard, the two barbarians with the most influence on Dungeons & Dragons. How the class made its way into Unearthed Arcana is a mystery to me and I would love to hear that story.