Friday, July 1, 2016

Review: Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Barbarians

"Cover Art."
Dungeon Fantasy 7 was somewhat dedicated to the Cleric template, and after reading that, I expected this to be along the same lines of that lukewarm installment. Fortunately, my first blush guess was wrong [again] and this happens to be a very interesting book. Let's dive into it a little deeper and see what we have in here.


This is a 31 page pdf, with a 3 page intro and a 2 page outro, giving us 26 pages of stuff. We have a 12 page chapter on templates and lenses for more variety than the standard 1 page version of the Barbarian in Dungeon Fantasy 1, then we have a 9 page chapter on power-ups, and a 5 page chapter on equipment.
Table of Contents
The book is organized well, and it all makes sense. Illustrations are slightly anachronistic, but pull-quotes are on-point. This book is almost all content in terms of being a catalog of templates, power-ups, and equipment, with some guidance in the form of build advice, very little in terms of fluff, and just a *teensy* amount in terms of new rules.
Overall, what new content is there is great. That said, there is a large amount of redundant content, but it does make the book into a nice kinda "[Almost] everything that has ever been said about Barbarians in Dungeon Fantasy and more" book, if that's what you want. It mostly stands on its own, with some recommendations to check out Dungeon Fantasy 1, 8, and 13 for more equipments, 11 for more power-ups, and 5 specifically for one ability.

Alternate Barbarians

This chapter is basically the build chapter, and we describe an expanded version of the Barbarian template with more options for advantages, disadvantages, and skills. We then have 3 250 point alternatives to the vanilla barbarian, focusing on different aspects of the character you may want to bring to the forefront: the overly aggressive Rage Barbarian, the more tempered and combat focused Savage Warrior, and the wilderness buddy Survivor. It's not a big criticism, but one fun angle I would have liked would have been some 62 and 125 point henchmen varieties, though the Native Guide and the Seasoned Native Guide from Dungeon Fantasy 16 go some ways towards that, and the Brute from Dungeon Fantasy 15 with the Veteran lens as well.
Next we go into lenses to give slightly different flavors to the 4 templates, to mould characters just a bit more to a specific angle. The effects are nuanced, but I do appreciate what they bring to the build options.
Next we have a cross-training section that feels a bit like a repeat of Dungeon Fantasy 3, but there are some nuances, optimizations, and patches here that aren't in the original versions, plus some helpful sensible advice. The aside on Barbaric Options on p. 14 is an especially interesting read.


This is a collection of special abilities to add to a barbarian character after the build. It feels a little redundant if you have Dungeon Fantasy 11, but there is some new, and among those new, some game-changing abilities. The perks are especially interesting, and the unique abilities under More Power are worth looking at, and the tip on repricing the Outdoorsman talent is appreciated. An interesting, though expensive option is the Rage Power section. The Wrath power modifier has some interesting mechanics, and would make me want to try it, except the abilities seem really expensive. Seems like something that might work if you had tons of points and nothing good to spend them on.


This chapter is mostly novel with several valuable options for new equipment. We have staples like rations, boosters like war paint, and most importantly we have arms and armor. This chapter includes some convenience tables for outsize equipment, and even if the items themselves don't catch your fancy, having these are a nice visual aid for creating your own oversized axe/spear/baton/quarterstaff/etc. There's some interesting magic items at the end of the chapter too for those unquantifiable but supercool treasures when you don't feel like letting mechanics get in the way of some unexplainable awesome.

Other Thoughts and Conclusion

This book is definitely very focused on the Barbarian template, so if you don't like Barbarians, this isn't worth it. That said, Barbarians are super cool, and I think people for some reason pass them up... maybe because they are too... straightforward? Which is a shame, because they are more than just a really great combat class, they are a fun character for people learning to role play because we know what barbarians want and how they get it. I'm somewhat guilty of that thought process too though. I kinda overlook the straightforward templates in favor of those that turn the game into a lateral thinking puzzle, but sometimes it's fun just to bash and grapple the cr*p out of my opponents and be Billy Badb*tt while doing it.
If you like Barbarians at all, on the other hand, or often have players that use barbarians, this might be a useful resource. Some of the content is reusable for classes besides barbarians, notably, most martial classes, so that's a nice bonus. I personally haven't seen it used enough, but I wouldn't mind applying it if it were relevant. That said, I forgot how many well hidden interesting nuggets are in here until I brushed up on it for a review, so maybe I can find some use for it in the near future?


  1. "It's not a big criticism, but one fun angle I would have liked would have been some 62 and 125 point henchmen varieties,"

    That's a trick I missed, one that someone else pointed out afterward, too. I really do need to write henchmen level versions of these guys as a Pyramid article.

  2. A note from the "totally into Barbarians" camp - while I've already got everything that has anything for Barbarians in it, I do appreciate it all being gathered into (almost) one PDF so I don't have to swap back and forth wondering what book X was in.
    The Rage Power abilities are for making a different style of barbarian - the almost super-hero type from Diablo, or various prestige classes from D&D 3e, or the spirit-empowered barbarians from D&D 4e. Barbarians that are magical warriors, sort of paired with the shaman or druid the way the holy warrior is paired with the cleric. This is a good approach, although another really good route is dipping Mystic Knight.

    1. Awesome! I think Barbarians are a really underappreciated class because people look at them and say, "It's a guy that can do a lot of damage..." And everyone wants to be the cool lass that solves the problem despite her skill set instead of because of it. It's a totally different catharsis when you wade in knee deep, smack everything up and laugh at the scratches versus playing a really tricky class like an artificer and getting the traps to all go off just right, luring the enemies the right direction, and making the universe dance to your fiddle so you just get to watch the world burn.
      Besides the fact that a barbarian really has a bunch of other cool things she can do, sometimes it's just fun to play a straightforward character with the strength to protect everyone else.


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