By Kyle "FordyTwo" Horner
In DDO, each class has several customization options and they can have a paralyzing effect on new players. These 101 class guides are a starting point to help ease new players along the learning curve of a particular class.
Formidable berserker warriors capable of bringing down the toughest of foes, barbarians are great choice for new players interested in melee combat. This guide covers the basics every new barbarian player should know. It also offers a template for building a solid character that scales well into the higher levels of DDO.
Every New Barbarian Should Know …
• When fighting enemy groups always take down magic users first.
• Barbarians have no innate self-healing or spellcasting abilities, but they have other means of survivability. For instance, barbarians can boost their damage reduction, gather magic gear (that can imitate useful spell effects), and raise defensive save scores to minimize the effects of incoming attacks.
• Buy consumables over buying weapons. A minimum level 4 "Flaming Greataxe of Righteousness" will outlive its usefulness before a 100-stack of haste potions. Use the best weapons found in treasure chests.
• Constant movement is essential to success in combat. While barbarians have awesome melee offense they can get torn up once opponents begin fighting back in concentrated force.
A barbarian fights well with a single large weapon or when wielding a weapon in each hand. It's possible for barbarians to offer some crowd control, but new players will be best-served by playing their barbarian as a damage-dealing powerhouse.
For new players there are two approaches to building a barbarian:
• Two-Handed Fighting (THF): The most common build type focusing on the extra damage bonus of two-handed weapons to increase their DPS.
• Two Weapon Fighting (TWF): The second most common build focusing on the extra attacks two weapon fighting gives to increase their DPS.
Barbarians are gifted with significant hit points and powerful damage-dealing capabilities, but have practically no armor class. This translates into a variable-but-consistent combat strategy: avoid taking damage and capitalize on a barbarian's high damage capability to kill enemies before they deal damage. Sometimes a barbarian's party will have crowd control (CC), aiding in the avoiding damage portion of this strategy. Other times, when CC isn't available, a barbarian will have to keep moving and avoiding damage as much as possible.
We've organized the ability scores in order of importance to the barbarian class.
• STR - Strength (STR) is the bread-and-butter of a barbarian and has a direct effect on melee competency.
• CON - Every character in DDO should have a good Constitution (CON) score. A higher CON translates into more Hit Points (HP) and a higher Fortitude Save, resulting in additional spell defenses. It's recommended new players have at least a 14 CON; if a player feels confident in being able to avoid enemy attacks over the course of their DDO lifespan, 12 CON may be an acceptable choice. However, most barbarians will want as many hit points as possible, so put as many points into Constitution as you can.
• DEX - The main use for Dexterity (DEX) on a barbarian is to meet the requirement for dual wielding with the Two Weapon Fighting and Greater Two Weapon Fighting feats. The primary stat DEX affects is a character's Armor Class, and because barbarians aren't worried about their defense (in fact, the opposite) this ability score isn't usually a priority.
• INT - Barbarians aren't typically known for their deep reservoirs of intellect; only a wizard would "think" their enemy to death. Intelligence (INT) determines total skills points available at each new level earned. Barbarians have many cross-class skills; each rank of a cross-class skill costs twice as many skill points.
• WIS - For all classes, Wisdom (WIS) is tied directly to Spot checks and Will Saves. There's no essentially class element of the barbarian tied into WIS, so most players leave it at 8 or 9 at character creation.
• CHA – Having a high Charisma (CHA) is pretty much the opposite of the definition of barbarian. When you're holding one giant deadly weapon (or two deadly weapons), who needs to be charismatic? CHA is tied into intimidate, but there's no reason to be taunting enemies if you're already dealing huge amounts of damage.
Every class in DDO has a natural proficiency with certain skills. Training a "cross-class" skill takes twice as many skill points as training a regular class skill, because that "natural knowledge" is missing. However, training a "cross-class" skill can still be useful, depending on personal play style.
These skills are exceptionally useful for melee characters in DDO, so consider keeping them as high as possible:
• Jump, class skill: Sometimes a trap threatens a DDO adventurer and other times, a chasm must be leapt over. Working towards 10 ranks of the Jump skill is a good idea, but going beyond 10 ranks isn't incredibly necessary due to jump spells and potions being readily available later in-game.
• Balance, cross-class skill: In DDO, characters can be knocked to their backside by many types of attacks – both physical and magical. With Balance, a character regains their footing more quickly after a knockdown. Barbarians populate the front lines of battle; the life of a barbarian is littered with knockdown attacks, so Balance often comes in handy!
• Intimidate, class skill: Allows you to intimidate certain NPCs or taunt and draw the attention of monsters away from other members of your party. You get a bonus when taunting creatures smaller than you and a penalty when taunting creatures that are larger than you. You also gain a bonus to threat generation for a short period of time after successfully using this ability. If you are using a weapon and a shield, this bonus to threat generation is increased.
• Tumble, cross-class skill: This skill allows you to hold the Shift key and press a movement key (W, A, S or D) to roll away from an enemy attack or spell. Without investing two skill points (for 1 rank) into Tumble, a character cannot use it.
• Use Magic Device (UMD), cross-class skill: Given enough time and investment, ranks in UMD can pay off. For instance, enough ranks of UMD may allow access to basic healing or utility spells. Requirements are high for potent wands and scrolls, however. Even if you can't meet certain requirements, a barbarian can still benefit from UMD since some equipment is restricted to certain races unless you can pass the UMD requirements.
Barbarians play well with a variety of races in DDO:
• Half-Orc: A half-orc offers the greatest damage potential using any two-handed weapon, and because of their high Strength (STR), half-orcs often land strikes with Stunning Blow.
• Warforged: After half-orcs, the warforged have the second-greatest potential for damage output with the benefit of significant hit points. Due to their in-organic bodies, warforged are difficult to heal but can be healed by wizards and sorcerers as well as clerics and favored Souls. Warforged make good Barbarians but aren't recommended for newer players because of this difficulty with healing – especially at lower levels.
• Dwarf: Everybody loves a burly dwarf! Good all-around barbarians with the same high hitpoints as Warforged, a dwarf also benefits from extraordinarily high saves (due to Dwarven Spell Defense) and can achieve good damage potential with the two-handed greataxe.
• Human: An extra feat allows a human to take Toughness as well as Stunning Blow at level 1 (other races can take only one of these powerful feats at level 1) and the bonus skill points are always helpful towards extra ranks in cross-class skills. The primary benefit of choosing human is the Human Improved Recovery enhancement, which makes incoming friendly healing spells 30% more effective. This bonus plays into the large hit point pool that most barbarians possess.
Template: Two Handed Dwarf Barbarian
This template is a great starting point to create a melee powerhouse with lots of hit points and damage output.
Note: While these templates typically avoid equipment suggestions, for the Two Handed Weapon variant it's suggested that a greataxe or greatsword is used in conjunction with the Improved Critical: Slashing feat.
Ability Point Buy
Dwarf will be our racial choice for their +2 Constitution (CON) and various defensive bonuses.
• STR: 18
• DEX: 14
• CON: 16
• INT: 8
• WIS: 8
• CHA: 8
• Ability Point Buy: Point grants at levels 4, 8, 12, 16 and 20 all go to STR.
• Tumble: Invest two skill points into Tumble, a skill that comes in handy but cannot be used without 1 Rank trained.
• Balance: Barbarians are constantly on the front lines of battle, so keep Balance maxed to ensure a speedy recovery upon a knockdown.
• Jump: Having a total score of 10 in Jump (which barbarians can easily meet with their high strength) is enough to get you across chasms and traps -- especially with help from Jump-enhancing spells and potions. You can choose to invest ranks in jump if you don't want to be dependent on magical items.
• Spot: A skill useful for its ability to help you detect hidden enemies. Invest any spare skill points here as you level.
• Intimidate: Use of Intimidate can help even without any invested ranks because it increases the amount of threat generated with every attack for a short period of time.
• 1) Toughness: This feat adds survivability by increasing hit points by +3 at level one, and +1 hit point for each additional level. More importantly, Toughness opens up "Toughness Enhancements," opening the way to further hit point bonuses as you earn Enhancement points.
• 3) Power Attack: Able to be toggled on and off, Power Attack mode trades up to 5 of your attack bonus for equal extra damage on melee attacks. Using a two-handed weapon in this build makes Power Attack mode more appealing: the feat offers double bonus damage when using two-handed weapons.
• 6) Cleave: Activate this ability to attack one or more enemies within a forward-facing arc. Cleave is required to unlock the Frenzied Berserker prestige enhancement (see Enhancements, below).
• 9) Improved Critical: Slashing: This feat doubles the likelihood of your attacks dealing critical damage by increasing the "critical threat range" of any slashing weapon you use -- this means axes and swords, more or less. Weapons that deal bludgeoning, piercing, ranged or thrown damage will not benefit from this feat.
• 12) Two Handed Fighting: Increases the damage of glancing blow attacks when wielding a two-handed weapon by 10%. Also grants a 3% chance for weapon effects to trigger on glancing blows. A glancing blow is a free additional attack that only two-handed weapons are capable of performing. It applies to two out-of-every four attacks made while standing still.
• 15) Improved Two Handed Fighting: Increases the damage of glancing blow attacks (See "Two Handed Fighting" feat above for more info) when wielding a two-handed weapon by an additional 10% on top of the Two Handed Fighting bonus. Also increases the chance for weapon effects to trigger on glancing blows by an additional 3%.
• 18) Greater Two Handed Fighting: Increases the damage of glancing blow attacks when wielding a two-handed weapon by another 10% on top of the previous Two Handed Fighting feats. Also increases the chance for weapon effects to trigger on glancing blows by an additional 3%. At this point, your barbarian will have a 50% total chance to produce glancing blows (the base is 20%).
Optionally, grab Stunning Blow at level 1 (but remember you'll lose the extra Toughness enhancement line):
• Stunning Blow: This potent feat allows you to stun enemies for 6 seconds and increase all the damage they take from you and your allies by 50% for the duration of the effect. Having higher strength increases the chances of a success.
The enhancements suggested in this section have been chosen to build upon the barbarian's damage-output and damage reduction traits.
All enhancements below effectively upgrade the barbarian Rage ability, making it even more potent than vanilla Rage.
The rundown on Rage enhancements: Extend Rage increases the Rage ability's duration, Extra Rage adds additional Rage uses between rests, Hardy Rage increases Constitution (CON) while Rage is active (adding more hit points) and Power Rage increases Strength (STR) while Rage is active (adding more damage per attack). Extend/Extra Rage is usually sufficient at Tier 2, but you can take Tier 3 if you find it helps.
Simply put, the below enhancements transform a raging barbarian into stampeding death-machine.
• Barbarian Extend Rage I - II
• Barbarian Extra Rage I - II
• Barbarian Hardy Rage I - II
• Barbarian Power Rage I - IV
Attack & Damage enhancements: Power Attack I–III will bolster Power Attacks extra damage at the cost of lowered accuracy; the high Strength (STR) of barbarians, decent weapons, and good Base Attack Bonus more than negates a slight loss of accuracy. As a dwarf, it's a good idea to invest a bit into boosting accuracy and damage with greataxes, a solid weapon-of-choice for most of DDO.
• Barbarian Power Attack I - III
• Dwarven Axe Attack I
• Dwarven Axe Damage I
Defensive enhancements: Dwarven Spell Defense makes you more resistance to spells, boosting all your saves by one against spells. Willpower grants you an additional +1 Will save when raging, a useful bonus when going up against magically-inclined baddies.
• Barbarian Willpower I
• Dwarven Spell Defense I
Survivability enhancements: Barbarians rely on hit points (HP) and damage reduction (DR) to survive any attacks enemies might land before their demise. Ideally, a barbarian drops all opponents to the ground before they get a chance to attack. In the event a kobold or two slips past, it's a good idea to have the extra hit points (HP) offered by the below enhancements.
• Racial Toughness I - II
• Barbarian Constitution I
• Barbarian Toughness I – II
• Dwarven Constitution I
Damage Reduction (DR) enhancements: Damage Reduction is a great choice for barbarian enhancements, lowering the amount of overall damage received, resulting in longer survivability.
• Barbarian Improved Damage Reduction I - II
The rundown on Frenzied Berserker: An ever-important barbarian enhancement line, Frenzied Berserker adds to the damage multiplier on critical hits while raging, two-handed weapon glancing blows have a greater chance to add magical effects (such as flaming, etc), you may spend 10 hit points to use Supreme Cleave – and most importantly, you can spend 20 hit points to enter a Death Frenzy (at rank III).
Think of the frenzy (unlocked via Frenzied Berserker I) and Death Frenzy (Frenzied Berserker III) as an optional "Super Mega Ultra Rage" mode. Damage Boost is an enhancement that does two things for a barbarian using this template: activates for increased damage, and meets the requirements for Frenzied Berserker.
• Barbarian Frenzied Berserker I - III
• Barbarian Damage Boost I - IV
Barbarian capstone enhancement: A player must take 20 levels of the barbarian class to obtain the capstone enhancement, but it's worth the investment. A barbarian who takes Barbarian Might receives +2 STR, and when wielding two-handed weapons receive increased glancing blow damage and an increased chance of applying weapon special effects on glancing blows. By the capstone point in DDO magically-infused weapons are something of a regularity, and Barbarian Might – combined with other elements of this template – ensures their magical effects occur as frequently as possible.
• Capstone: Barbarian Might
In case of Stunning Blow (optional enhancement): As mentioned above, you can boost the DCs of your tactical feats like Trip and Stunning Blow as a barbarian if you actually decide to take Stunning Blow instead of toughness. Use the 6 AP you spent in toughness enhancements above (which you no longer have access to without toughness) to boost the DCs of all your tactical feats using the following enhancement.
• Dwarven Tactics I - II
Active, Passive & Toggle
Feats, spells, and enhancements come in three distinct flavors: active, passive, and toggle. None of these flavors are mutually exclusive. All feats, spells and enhancements can come in any of the three flavors.
Here's the breakdown:
• Active – When used, an "active" spell, feat, or enhancement will cause an immediate effect. This effect can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Stunning Blow is an active feat that, upon use, stuns its target for a set duration.
• Passive – There are no spells that are purely passive, but plenty of feats fall into this category. Toughness is a great example – it's passive, always giving you those bonus hit points (HP).
• Toggle – Many spells and feats come in this flavor. Think of toggles like a light switch: you can flip it on or off. Power Attack is a toggle ability that enhances your damage output, and it can be switched on and off, or in other words: toggled!
Newly acquired active feats will not automatically show up on your hotbar. To add new feats to your hotbar, simply press the "C" key, and then click on the "Feats" tab on your Character Sheet panel. From the "Feats" tab you can drag and drop each feat icon to your hotbar – and the same can be done for active enhancements from their respective tabs on the Character Sheet panel ("C" button).
If you're quickly becoming a fan of the barbarian class, consider investigating different racial options to find one that best suits you. There's plenty of room for tweaking this build, especially the ratio between damage output and hit point totals. As you approach level 5 (and above), consider investigating what kinds of equipment will best benefit the ability scores your barbarian favors, and ask around the DDO community for tips on topics like this one, and more.