May 26, 2015

War Hulk

Barbarian Path
Comments from the Finger: So you wanna be the biggest, baddest barbarian there is? Say no more! The 3.5 prestige class War Hulk has got you covered. Thankfully, this class was dead simple: you get strong, you get dumb, you hit things. I love it!

Path of the Colossus

The Colossus, known to most as a War Hulk, is a creature of the front-lines, swinging massive weapons and sweeping away smaller combatants in their fury. To a War Hulk, strength is the only attribute that matters: Cunning is for the weak. Faith is for the weak. Speed is for the weak. Victory and conquest is for the strong alone. This Path is a favorite of Goliaths and Giants, who step easily into crushing smaller opponents.

No Time to Think
When you select this path at 3rd level, strength comes above all else. At 3rd, 6th, 10th, and 14th level, your Strength score increases by 1. Your maximum for this score is 24. At 20th level, you Strength score and its maximum becomes 28. However, your great physical might comes at the expense of mental fortitude. As such you suffer disadvantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws.

Great Swing
At 6th level, you may attack up to three creatures which are adjacent to each other and adjacent to you when you make an attack action on your turn. Make a single attack roll, and compare that roll against each creature's armor class. If you choose to Great Swing, you may not use Extra Attack for this attack action.

Rock Throwing
At 10th level, you can hurl large boulders at your foes as an action. This attack roll targets one creature, uses your Strength modifier, instead of Dexterity, and deals 2d8 + your Strength Modifier damage, with a range of 30/60 feet. This rock must be around 30 pounds.

Massive Swing
By 14th level, you may attack as many creatures as are adjacent to you with a single attack action. Make a single attack roll, and compare that roll against each creature's armor class. You may only use Extra Attack against one of these targets.
    While the Path of the War Hulk can be taken by members of any race, the DM should limit access to this path to races of appropriate size. Gnomes and halflings, for example, are poorly suited to throwing boulders, but Goliaths and Minotaurs are well suited to the task.

Changelog: 7/13/15: No Time to Think now increases Strength by 1, to a max of 24, and increases to 28 at 20th level.


  1. I'm not sure I understand this one. Did you forget the level requirement on Great Swing, Rock Throwing and Massive Swing ?
    Otherwise, I'm either reading it wrong, or not getting it at all. Only your strength increases as you get more features, and you get the three others at level 3 immediately ? But that makes no sense either, since great swing and massive swing are basically the same feature.

    1. I did, in fact forget that. Should be fixed now

  2. I´m almost certain that this is broken. In 5e´s accuracy system, getting so many weapon hit increases severely upsets encounter challenge rating and this class gets potentially +9 hit at level 6. Take reckless attack into consideration and you´d be hard pressed to ever miss an attack (which makes great weapon master even better) Have you actually ran some numbers somewhere to compare this guys damage to a battlemaster or something?

    This is the first class you guys made where I just think that it´s inherently bad design. There is already a "deal more damage at a cost" barbarian subclass and this doesn´t add anything of value to the game, in my opinion. Instead it let´s one character outshine everyone else in his group in combat (which is never a fun thing) and then it let´s that character fall into nothingness as soon as any social thing starts. (This might also become a psychological problem, since he will most likely try to fight as much as possible, and again create the situation where he either completly outshines his allies, or forces the DM to incorporate wisdom save spells in every encounter)

    From a purely objective point, disregarding my personal views, there´s the issue that a barbarian who takes 3 ablity score increases in strenght together with the great weapon master and the tough feat reaches 30 strenght at level 19, which renders half of his level 20 feat useless.

  3. Thing of note: other ability score increases will not increase the War Hulk's Strength past 20, as they still increase to a maximum of 20. The only Strength increases he can gain above 20 are from the War Hulk class.

    Also, would you explain how you're getting +9 to hit? At level 9, a human Fighter can have 20 Strength and a Proficiency Modifier of +4. giving a total of +9 to hit. That's a normal character.

    A War Hulk will have a maximum of 24 Strength at that level, affording a +11 to hit. It's peak at level 17 is at Strength 28, which outsteps the fighter by +4 to hit, which, though it's a wide margin, does very little to mitigate the fact that other Fighters and Barbarians will simply have more class features. This is to say nothing of a Wizard throwing 9th level spells at this level.

    The original War Hulk class from 3.5 used this same mechanic of steadily increasing Strength, and I stand by it until I see how it works in playtesting. I'm not convinced that that to-hit difference will break the Challenge system, nor am I convinced that it will break the bounded accuracy system. Ultimately, I'm looking forward to playtesting. Even if this turns out to be a flop for a character class, it'll work well for NPC baddies, who need little prep time and need to be monsters against the party.

    1. Wow my math in that comment was hilariously bad. My apologies.

      If the level 3 feat still means that you can´t increase your strength score beyond 20, doesn´t that also mean that your capstone can´t increase your strength score beyond 24 since that´s it´s own new maximum? I think it might need clarification in the ability either way, just because it´s so different from other class feats.

      3.5 and 5e are vastly different in terms of hit rating, but yea, let´s see. And I agree on the NPC baddie class, that´s a nice idea even though figuring out it´s challenge rating might be difficult, if the class really turns out to be stronger than the average pc class (but so do wildshape druids as NPC enemies, so whatever I guess)

      My psychological and design issues remain, but I understand that doesn´t mean the same to you (or anyone else for that matter) since it´s a highly subjective matter.

    2. Oh, and I agree that this might not be balanced and thank you for raising early concerns (I love that you read these when I first release them.) We might have a playtest session coming up soon, so I'll let you know how this dude plays at 10th level.

    3. Yes please! Looking forward to that.

  4. I also find myself put-off by the way this breaks design expectations. It's tough for GMs to eyeball since there aren't any obvious comparisons. It's possible this doesn't actually have any balance problems against Berserker or Totem but just the fact that it's hard to tell is a strike against it. I took a stab at redesigning this archtype, I hope you like it.

    Rock Throwing: At 3rd level, while raging you can wield large boulders as a weapon. Boulders are improvised melee weapons with the Heavy and Thrown(range 20/60) properties that deal 2d6 bludgeoning damage. You may "draw" a boulder from any large stone surface by succeeding on a DC 15 strength check.

    No Time to Think: When you reach 6th level and again at 14th, you can increase your strength by two. If using the Feats rule, you may opt to take a feat as long as it grants an improvement to your strength score. Choose one of Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma (choosing an additional ability at 14). You suffer disadvantage on checks of the chosen ability.

    Mighty Sweep: Starting at 10th level while raging your attacks have the potential to strike multiple foes with one blow. When you take the Attack action to make a weapon attack against a single target you can make a Mighty Sweep. Choose another creature within 5 feet of the original target and within your reach. Make a single weapon attack, and compare that roll against each creature's armor class.

    I tried to balance this closer to the existing Barbarian Paths. At least two features are only usable during a rage (one of which is at level 3).
    Boulders are basically thrown, 1-handed greatswords that you don't have proficiency with. This serves as a neat base from which to start the class.
    If you take a feat at 4 you can grow towards a few different builds. Dual Weapon actually useful, since boulders aren't two-handed. They're heavy so Great Weapon is tempting. Shield Mastery isn't a bad choice since you've got advantage on Dex Saves.
    No Time to Think is now more like the fighter's extra ASIs. This keeps closer to design expectations about Ability scores. The save penalty on No Time to Think was just too punishing so I dropped it.
    Mighty Sweep is a compromise between the fighters additional extra attacks, the ranger's Horde Breaker, and the BattleMaster Sweeping Attack. Note that Mighty Sweep doesn't say melee attacks, so as to simulate the swing/sweep progression from the original War Hulk.
    Finally, to keep to the naming pattern of the Barbarian Archetypes may I suggest "Path of the Giant" (or Colossus if you want to get clever).

  5. Good call on the Path of the Colossus name. I like it! (and I've nicked it - thank you Vaegrim!)

    I don't like the way in which you've reorganized the feature levels for the following reason: the first feature should define the flavor of the class right off the bat. When a character takes your path, until 6th level, they get the ability to throw rocks, and need to take the tavern brawler feat to be any good at it. My guess is that players will rarely utilize this, so it does very little to flavor the War Hulk play style, and might not a good point to start on.

    As for No Time to Think, I think I might have some editing to do on it, but for the moment, I think I'm gonna keep it locked into just having additional Strength, rather than a feat option. Most of the time when I play brawler types, I value feats more highly than I do ability score increases simply because they add a lot of versatility to the build. For example, should I take a +1 to hit, damage, and Strength saves and ability checks, or take Magic Initiate and learn Firebolt (to make rock throwing obsolete), another cantrip, and a first level spell? The choice is simple for most players.

    On your Mighty Sweep, I fail to see how this differs from an Extra Attack five levels late. Are you still allowed to use Extra Attack when using a Mighty Sweep? If not, why not just make one attack against each opponent using Extra Attack? Frankly, I'm just confused on your design decision here.

    1. Hey, I appreciate your response. Let me see if I can answer it to your liking.

      I agree that the 3rd level ability needs to be foundational, but I'm not sure I agree +2 strength does that. Further, I think it's important the primary ability granted at 3 modify your rages (to discourage casual dips). In my design the boulder is absolutely a signature of the Path. Lack of proficiency is the counterbalance to the fact that it's basically a 1-handed greatsword. When you first get it, you've got ranged capability plus the option for an off-hand shield while maintaining ideal barbarian DPR. While the lack of proficiency hurts, with the feat option on No Time to Think you can pick it up at level 6 and using a shield means making Reckless Attacks with it isn't as risky (especially since you can stay at range).

      I agree that just allowing Feats instead of Ability increase would drown out the Strength Gain emphasis of the class. My version only allowed Feats which give a strength increase though, limiting the list to: Athlete, Heavily Armored, Heavy Armor Master, Lightly Armored, Moderately Armored, Resilient, Tavern Brawler, Weapon Master. Quite a few of those are either redundant or counterproductive. The only real choices from this list are Athlete & Tavern Brawler. Tavern Brawler is the obvious choice, but I don't think Athlete runs counter to the themes of the class.

      Yeah, Mighty Sweep is compatible with Extra Attack. It only works on attacks made in the attack action (so no effect on Reaction or Bonus Attacks). In keeping the theme of using primary fighter mechanics it's a limited version of the Fighters additional attacks at 11 & 20 while still maintaining the connection to the source material. Basically, if there are two adjacent enemies A & B; You can swing at A and hit both, then swing at B and hit both. This potentially is more attacks then a same level fighter BUT requires a particular count/pattern of enemies. My original design was replace extra attack with a single hit on a 10ft square but I backed off when I noticed it was complicated for no good reason.

  6. How did playtesting this go? I was a big fan of this back in 3.5 and I was curious if there was any sort of consensus on how this measures up in terms of other PCs and stealing the spotlight.

    I can see this being a great class alongside a paladin with their aura adding their charisma to saves to offset the No Time to Think feature.

    1. We only got one session of testing with this subclass, and it didn't break the game by any means. In fact, No Time to Think was far more of a detriment than I anticipated it would be.

      The Redux version of this is totally complete and on the release queue. If you're rolling one of these up soon, send me an email, and I'll drop you the Redux'd version, so you have something polished to play with.

  7. I feel like instead of massive swing, having massive weapons (like the prehistoric warrior) would be better for this. Have your 14th level replace your 6th level as a capstone seems a little lack luster to me

    1. I absolutely did that with the Rock Throw ability. In fact, we have an actual weapon property for Massive weapons, included with the Craftsman class (which is up on the Patreon now, and will probably hit the main blog in a few weeks.)

  8. I used to love this class in 3.5, between War Hulk, Warforged Juggernaut and some very select items and abilities, I could go from a Large Sized Warforged Charger(Body Stolen thanks to the Circlet of Conservation) Giving a Bonus to 18 Base Strength +2 for size, then +10 for the Class, jumping me to 30. Add Tauric Belt activated as a free action for an additional +4 and a size increase to Huge, another +2, now at 36 Str. There also used to be a kind of 'built in Component' That could hold charges of spells, forget their name if anyone could remind me that would be great. But I think they took the places of Rings on Warforged, could be wrong, either way I had one spell loaded on each I could activate as a Free Action, Enlarge Person, which took me to a Gargantuan Size, increasing it another 2 points of Strength, sits me at 38.

    Then, add to that the True War Hulk of +20 Str, and you had a Player character with a Strength of 58 and Gargantuan size in ONE round. Using a spiked chain and the 'Large and In charge' Feat, I threatened and controlled a near impossible to push through range with brutal strength and power. Combined with the Bonuses of the Juggernaut, being immune to mind effects and such I played a true Beast. I was hoping to revamp that character idea for a new 5th Ed campaign... and all I see are 'strength caps' everywhere, Juggernaut reduced to a Race Path with none of the bonuses.

    Why has D&D stripped so much creative customization from the players? Sure it's easier to get into, and your DM doesn't have to be a creative Genius to keep things fun and balanced.... And I'm answering my own questions aren't I? Unless your DM was a walking encyclopedia of the books, playing with players like us who theory crafted, tweaked and fucked with every little exploit was a nightmare and was only fun if the DM could keep the challenge fresh by knowing how to challenge the players without tweaking every encounter to just counter what you built specifically.... I still miss the old games. :(