Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Lets Read And Condense: The Unearthed Arcana Barbarian.

So, I'm playing a Barbarian in Zak's AD&D game and its laid out in such a way, with such bizarre accumulation of interrelating rules and effects that to pretend to be a barbarian you actually need to have the mind of an insurance actuary, which Gygax was, so there you go.


Tracking, like a Ranger, except not indoors. Ok, flip to the ranger section. Its got special conditions, ok, write those down.

Identifying plants and animals  like a 3rd level Druid, flip to the Druid spells , NOPE, its not in there, try the class itself.

Ok simple, I can identify 'types' automatically. That's a little vague, I know Zaks gonna say 'yes, you identify that this is a fish' but whatever.

Predicting weather, I do this like a third level druid as well, ok, flip to druid section. Nope, its a spell, ok flip to spell section. Spell is level-relevant, ok write down rules for doing spell at lvl 3.

Climbing, like a thief, cool, except better, cool, except only in natural environments. Ok, makes sense. Except unfamiliar natural environments, you just climb like a thief again... Ok. Except you can learn to climb like a thief on anything with 'practice'.... Ok, so barbarians have two different climb abilities depending on the familiarity or unfamiliarity of the environment and might be able to use one of them in built environments depending on how much practice they've had, but the amount of practice required is not stated.

And exactly what you roll while you are 'practicing' isn't stated either.

They also have two different stealth values..

(EDIT: I got this wrong, there is only one climb value, but two separate stealth values.)

When exactly does my 'familiar' environment of hillbilly-esque backwoods fade into an 'unfamiliar environment of fake east asia? I mean like, what latitude?

Well it's a cube so never mind.

Saves, like a fighter. Cool. Except with bonuses. Nice. Except the bonus for paralysation and death magic is different to the one for poison, so that's two columns now. And all the bonuses are flat except the one for spells so that advances in a completely different way.

I can leap ten feet. Cool. With a running start I can leap 15+d6 feel... Ok I suppose? That's completely disconnected from the stats I would expect to use for leaping but. I can leap three feet in the air, that's.. slightly better than a normal human most of the time I suppose?, with a running start I can leap 4+d4 feet in the air..

But half the value of the d4. So four to six feet, that's not bad.

“Springing under similar conditions gives an upward distance of 4-7 feet, depending on the surface used as a step to gain height and spring.”

Ok, whats a 'spring'?  It must be somewhere right? Right?


Ok, well I can still leap and a spring probably wasn't that good anyway.

A bonus to AC. Cool. "2 steps for every point of dexterity over 14. But only if armour not of the bulky, or fairly bulky type." Ok, whats 'fairly bulky'? I mean plate is definitely bulky and leather isn't, what about hide? Chain? Does this affect my stealth thing like it might with a thief? Probably, but it doesn't say anywhere..


Of 275 people. Well that's not bad.

"the leader of the horde will gain two aides"

Wait, what, What kind of barbarian has aides? "I am Garm, of the Wastes and leader of the Horde of Doom, and this is my aide Grarg, and my secondary aid Marg."

"each aide will have two assistants of one half the aide’s level"

".. and here are Garg's aides, Borlax and Gorlax, and Marg's aides, Vertox and Vortox."

Wow, Barbarians come to the table like the lawyers in a Simpsons Episode.

And of course, Barbarians hate magic.

Xp for destroying magic items is pretty kewl. Do other PC's share in that though? That's slightly weird. Handy if you can't carry something big back to a city though, just have Garm chuck the magic mirror off a precipice and bang, Xp for all.

I can't even associate with Magic-Users. It's like I got a Barbarian ASBO. Ok, I'll just avoid talking to the party Magic-User until level, what is that, level 6? So just 80,001 xp to go then and I can speak to them 'when necessary'. We'll just happen to be going in the same direction, on the same ship, and entering the same dungeons at the same time. How long till we can just hang out?

Level 8, 275,001 xp. "May associate with Magic-Users, occasionally".

But wait, to make up for it they can smell magic, that's pretty cool. Except its not really smelling it but whatever, Detect Illusion is pretty good. And they can smell other magic too..

Which advances in a completely different way to the detect illusion thing, so thats a new column. But they can smell wizards too right?

Nope. Not magic people, just spells and objects. I hate Magic Users, but I really have to catch them actually doing magic to be sure they are one, or dicking around with robes and crystal balls or whatever.

But that could be a wierd priest..


Through the fruits of my genius and mild aspergers, I have put together the following thing that has all the AD&D Unearthed Arcana barbarian rules, and all the rules that apply to those rules, and all the rules that apply to those rules, and attempted to condense them into a single document that doesn't drive you totally fucking nuts.

It's in landscape format because the basic levelling table has 12 columns,

That's not including the Saves table. Or the Leaping sub-table.

So if anyone really wanted to play the Barbarian from Unearthed Arcana and didn't want to do an insane load of paperwork, (a narrow group I'm sure), then click on the image below;

Think this is from Diablo 3, not sure who the artist is (its;Phroilan Gardner).

EDIT: The Document is now a much more attractive one that Jacob Hurst put together. He has used his design skills to put the whole thing on four pages, but, by the ancient compact of design made with the dark gods so long ago, any space freed by intelligent arrangement must then be spend on pictures of naked people and groovy trade dress.


  1. See, it was because Conan could understand all these rules, all at once, that he was well-suited to being a king.

  2. dragon 72 version of cavalier was heaps better - the no wizards rule made a bit unplayable really or like lots of dnd stuff ppl ignored hose rules like with paladins. barbarians did ok with proficiancies and nwp mods i recall which you didnt mention.

    non basic classes all a bunch of bizarre abilities per level and complicated. I guess thats advanced for you.

  3. I remember playing a Barbarian when these rules came out. I recall treating all the text as "guidelines" and simply working out with the DM what they were getting at. We knew that those pinheads in Lake Geneva didn't have a clue really, besides it was our game to with what we liked. We changed it a lot and consequently had a blast.

  4. The Diablo 3 concept art is by Phroilan Gardner.