Monday, October 30, 2017

Brutal Bruiser (Goliath Primal Brawler)

So, since the ooze pact went over fairly well, I'm going to go ahead and toy around a bit with the Primal Brawler Path I made for the Barbarian. I touched on this a little bit with the roboticist warrior, which came out a bit like Taryon and Grog from Critical Role did the fusion dance and put on a girdle of femininity, but I think I'll go ahead and do a full build of this rather than a multi-class.

Some of the concept for this sort of character was filled by the third-party Pugilist class found on the Dungeon Master's Guild, but I still think that this Primal Path has a unique spin on things. The Pugilist is more akin to wrestlers and boxers who fight in front of a crowd. It had the same sort of focus on brutal, strength-based martial arts but it lacked that mythic quality I was looking for. It was more like Rocky than Beowulf. So I've kept to this build.

To begin with, I'm going to start with choosing a race and I think I'm going to go with goliath since I originally produced this Primal Path after watching a few episodes of Critical Role and encountering a Barbarian/Monk, something that didn't really synergize well but still spoke to a particular concept of character in fantasy and mythology. What interested me was that the PHB spoke about Barbarians beating people with their bear hands and yet there wasn't a punchy focus path for them. That said, at first level a barbarian with 16 to 17 Strength will deal 4 damage, 6 if raging, on a punch or kick. When you get to 20th level with max strength, that's 12 damage a punch, though it tends to lose out with the brutal critical.

Not sure how CR would have played with Grog doing something like this, and he was admittedly prone to punch things to death a lot. One thing is for certain, the Craven Edge and Sword of Kas things wouldn't have been as likely to happen, which would have been a shame, but still it's interesting to imagine a Grog that was more focused on casting Fist.


In any case, on to the Path features.

Fists of Steel - When you take this Path at 3rd Level, you become proficient with unarmed strike and your damage with your fists rises to 1d4. The damage die of your unarmed attacks increases as you level. At 6th level the damage increases to 1d6, at 10th level it increases to 1d8, at 14th level the damage increases to 1d10, and at 17th level the damage increases to 1d12.

I examined several different versions of handling unarmed damage. 1d4 + bonus attack started off extremely powerful in comparison to monk, but eventually tapered off around 11th level and became mediocre. A slower scaling damage to a maximum of 1d8 with a bonus attack while raging got quickly ridiculously overpowered. As such I settled on this moderately scaling rate without a built in bonus attack. Originally, I was going to max it out at 1d10 like monks but a better mathematician than me suggested that giving them a 17th level damage boost would work out well.

Brutal Technique - When you take this Path at 3rd Level, you choose one of the following options:

Forceful Blows - When you hit with an unarmed attack while raging, you can use a Bonus Action to make a Shove attack. If successful, this pushes the opponent back an additional 5ft on top of the normally chosen result. (So the end result will be either shoved 10ft or shoved 5ft and knocked prone).

Great Wrestler - When you hit win an unarmed attack while raging, you can use a Bonus Action to attempt a Grapple. You can grapple opponents up to two sizes larger than you.

Rampage - When you are raging and reduce an opponent to 0 HP, you can perform a Dash as a Bonus Action. In addition, if any opponent moves away from you, you can use your Reaction to take a Dash action without provoking opportunity attacks.

This ability is focused on granting action economy by giving options for the use of bonus attacks. Forceful Blows and Great Wrestler are both control options while Rampage sort of works as aggro or formation breaker. Any enemy that tries to disengage the Brawler, even if they use the Disengage action, is opening up the field for the Brawler to get some distance and set up a target for a pounding when it gets to their turn.

Fighting Spirit - When you reach 6th Level in this Path, you choose one of the following options:

Bold Battler - While raging you have advantage on saving throws against fear and charm effects. If you successfully save against such an effect, you recover hit points equal to your Proficiency Bonus.

Thrill Seeker - While raging you have advantage on saving throws against spells or terrain effects that are triggered when you first enter their area of effect. If a successful save would normally produce half-damage or a reduced effect you instead take no effect.

Unstoppable - While raging you have advantage against effects that paralyze, or petrify. If you still fail the saving throw against such a condition, you gain a new saving throw, without advantage, at the beginning of each of your turns to see if you can throw off the effect. Suffering one of these conditions satisfies the condition to continue your rage.

These are defensive options. Bold Battler is the simplest and similar to the immunity to such effects that the Frenzied Berserker has. But I wanted to appeal that idea of them feeding on the adrenaline so instead of making them outright immune while raging, I gave them advantage and let it trigger some healing. Thrill Seeker is meant to get the character through environmental hazards and spells like walls of fire, spirit guardians, certain sorts of mold, and anything that is triggered by "when you first enter the area". I originally had Thrill Seeker primarily grant resistance to fall damage, but realized that a raging barbarian already has that. So instead there's this sort of version of Evasion. Note, however, that thrill seeker doesn't work against fireball or other spells and effects that blasted as an attack, but only hazards that are attached to a specific area. I considered pushing Unstoppable to cover more conditions but decided that was a bit over powerful compared to the other two and focused on these two conditions as they are rare but generally have long durations when they occur.

Master of the Boast - When you reach 10th level, if you include accounts of the achievements of yourself or any of your comrades in a Charisma (Intimidation), (Persuasion), or (Performance) check you can add your Proficiency bonus to the roll. If you are already proficient, you double the bonus instead. The boasts must be honest and relate to true events but can be exaggerated for dramatic effect.

This is flat out the Beowulf boast challenge scene.

Savage Style - When you reach 14th level, you can choose one of the following options:

Domino Effect - While raging, if you shove creature into the space of another, they must both make a Strength saving throw against a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Str modifier. Creatures that fail are knocked prone and stunned until the end of their next turn.

Terrible Grip - While raging you have advantage on unarmed attacks taken against enemies you are grappling. If someone escapes a grapple with you, you can use your Reaction to make an unarmed attack against them immediately before the grapple ends.

Crippling Blows - While raging, when you successfully make an unarmed attack, you can use your Bonus Action to force the opponent to make a Constitution saving throw against a DC of 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Str modifier. If they fail, they have Disadvantage on attacks and ability checks until the end of your next turn due to the pain.

These options are mostly meant to build on the options in Brutal Technique. It is possible to mix and match, of course, though some of the efficiency is lost in that case. The odd option out is the third one again, which tends to work equally well with any of the options.

For this I am using a 30 pt pool instead of the 30 pt array. I'm going to tank the Intelligence a bit more than normally allowed in point buy because...Grog.

1st Level Goliath Barbarian
Str: 17
Dex: 14
Con: 16
Int: 6
Wis: 10
Cha: 13

HP: 15
AC: 15
Speed: 30 ft

Proficiency Bonus: +2

Natural Athlete
Stone's Endurance
Powerful Build
Mountain Born

Armor Proficiencies: Light Armor, Medium Armor, Shields
Weapons: Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons
Tools: Flute
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Languages: Common, Giant, Gnome

Proficient Skills
Athletics (Goliath) +5
Intimidation (Barbarian) +3
Perception (Barbarian) +2
Persuasion (Outlander) +3
Survival (Outlander) +2

Background: Outlander

Rage (2/+2)
Unarmored Defense

Reasoning: Goliath gives Athletics which means one of Outlander's skills changes to something else and I decided on Persuasion because I'm not entirely sure what Grog's skill list is and he has tended to strike me as a bit likeable. Note from later me, choosing this on a whim proved to work well with the Primal Brawler's 10th level ability.

2nd to 5th Level


2nd Level - Reckless Attack, Danger Sense, +10 HP (25)

3rd Level - Primal Path: Primal Brawler, Fists of Steel (1d4), Brutal Technique: Forceful Blows, Rage (3/+2), +10 HP (35)

4th Level - Ability Score Improvement: Tough, +18 HP (53)

5th Level - Proficiency Bonus: +3, Fast Movement, +12 HP (65)

Reasoning: I am not sure when Grog took the Tough feet, but I decided to hit it early since I'm starting with much higher than usual Con and Str. I went with Forceful Blows rather than Great Wrestler mostly because I remember Grog smashing things for the most part, though the fact that a Titan-Stone Knuckle-Enlarged Grog with Great Wrestler would have been able to grapple pretty much everything in the campaign except Thordak and maybe the Kraken is amusing.

5th Level Statistics

5th Level Goliath Primal Brawler
Str: 17
Dex: 14
Con: 16
Int: 6
Wis: 10
Cha: 13

HP: 65
AC: 15
Speed: 40 ft

Proficiency Bonus: +3

Natural Athlete
Stone's Endurance
Powerful Build
Mountain Born

Armor Proficiencies: Light Armor, Medium Armor, Shields
Weapons: Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons
Tools: Flute
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Languages: Common, Giant, Gnome

Proficient Skills
Athletics (Goliath) +6
Intimidation (Barbarian) +4
Perception (Barbarian) +3
Persuasion (Outlander) +4
Survival (Outlander) +3

Background: Outlander

Feat: Tough

Rage (3/+2)
Unarmored Defense
Reckless Attack
Danger Sense
Primal Brawler
Fists of Steel (1d4)
Brutal Technique: Forceful Blows
Fast Movement


6th to 10th Level


6th Level - Fighting Spirit: Bold Battler, Fists of Steel (1d6), Rage (4/+2), +12 HP (77)

7th Level - Feral Instinct, +12 HP (89)

8th Level - Ability Score Improvement: +2 Str, +12 HP (101)

9th Level - Proficiency Bonus +4, Brutal Critical (1 die), Rage (4/+3), +12 HP (113)

10th Level - Master of the Boast, Fists of Steel (1d8), +12 HP (125)

Reasoning: I usually aim for a Feat granting a +1 to get an Ability Score to an even number, but this felt appropriate. Also, given a lot of the encounters, I'm finding Master of the Boast so seriously fits Grog, and I swear I wasn't thinking of that when I gave this theoretical proficiency in Persuasion, just sort of a happy stumble into something. I went with Bold Battler in the long run because of how often Grog took advantage of the Mindless Rage aspect of Frenzied Berserker. In the long run, once they started using Heroes Feast a lot, that ability would have started being overshadowed. Also, despite having Advantage, the low Wisdom of many Barbarians wouldn't give the Barbarian much help. I may have to consider giving them proficiency and advantage against specifically Fear and Charm effects.

10th Level Statistics

10th Level Goliath Primal Brawler
Str: 19
Dex: 14
Con: 16
Int: 6
Wis: 10
Cha: 13

HP: 125
AC: 15
Speed: 40 ft

Proficiency Bonus: +4

Natural Athlete
Stone's Endurance
Powerful Build
Mountain Born

Armor Proficiencies: Light Armor, Medium Armor, Shields
Weapons: Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons
Tools: Flute
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Languages: Common, Giant, Gnome

Proficient Skills
Athletics (Goliath) +8
Intimidation (Barbarian) +5, (Master of the Boast) +9
Perception (Barbarian) +4
Performance (Master of the Boast) +5
Persuasion (Outlander) +5, (Master of the Boast) +9
Survival (Outlander) +4

Background: Outlander

Feat: Tough

Rage (4/+3)
Unarmored Defense
Reckless Attack
Danger Sense
Primal Brawler
Fists of Steel (1d8)
Brutal Technique: Forceful Blows
Fast Movement
Fighting Spirit: Bold Battler
Brutal Critical (1 die)
Master of the Boast

11th to 15th Level


11th Level - Relentless Rage, +12 HP (137)

12th Level - Ability Score Improvement: Mobile, Rage (5/+3), +12 HP (149)

13th Level - Proficiency Bonus +5, Brutal Critical (2 dice), +12 HP (161)

14th Level - Savage Style: Crippling Blows, Fists of Steel (1d10), +12 HP (173)

15th Level - Persistent Rage, +12 HP (185)

Reasoning: Crippling Blows is a generally useful power that simply requires the barbarian to strike and use a bonus action. I admit a fondness for domino effect given a particular superhero I played who used knockback to chain into the multiple attacks rules of Hero System, but I felt like Crippling Blows was more Grog's Style. I took Mobile here about the same time Grog did, though I think his Mobility feat was an extra story reward since the wiki seems to indicate he took it at 10th level. I should note that treasure, blessings, boons, story rewards, and magic items are a facet of D&D character advancement that I can't really duplicate in a theoretical since there's little ability to predict what items become available. Grog got a lot of lee-way in spending Ability Score Improvements due to the fact that he used the Belt of Dwarvenkind and the Titan-Stone Knuckles to increase his Constitution and Strength. I could cheat and use Grog's actual gear, but that would not fit in with my other theoreticals. Side note, Crippling Blows and Forceful Blows, the repetition is bugging me...I might have to rename Crippling Blows to something like Crippling Pain or Shattering Impact.

15th Level Statistics

15th Level Goliath Primal Brawler
Str: 19
Dex: 14
Con: 16
Int: 6
Wis: 10
Cha: 13

HP: 185
AC: 15
Speed: 40 ft

Proficiency Bonus: +5

Natural Athlete
Stone's Endurance
Powerful Build
Mountain Born

Armor Proficiencies: Light Armor, Medium Armor, Shields
Weapons: Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons
Tools: Flute
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Languages: Common, Giant, Gnome

Proficient Skills
Athletics (Goliath) +9
Intimidation (Barbarian) +6, (Master of the Boast) +11
Perception (Barbarian) +5
Performance (Master of the Boast) +6
Persuasion (Outlander) +6, (Master of the Boast) +11
Survival (Outlander) +5

Background: Outlander

Feat: Mobile, Tough

Rage (5/+3)
Unarmored Defense
Reckless Attack
Danger Sense
Primal Brawler
Fists of Steel (1d10)
Brutal Technique: Forceful Blows
Fast Movement
Fighting Spirit: Bold Battler
Brutal Critical (2 dice)
Master of the Boast
Relentless Rage
Savage Style: Crippling Blows
Persistent Rage

16th to 20th Level


16th Level - Ability Score Improvement Brawny, Rage (5/+4), +12 HP (197)

17th Level - Proficiency Bonus +6, Fists of Steel (1d12), Brutal Critical (3 dice), Rage (6/+4), +12 HP (209)

18th Level - Indomitable Might, +12 HP (221)

19th Level - Ability Score Improvement: Mage Slayer, +12 HP (233)

20th Level - Primal Champion, Rage (Unlimited/+4), +52 HP (285)

Reasoning: Mage Slayer was so pivotal in the final battle that I had to include it here. That said, this version veers off from Grog given that it doesn't take any Fighter levels and also accounts for none of Grog's magic items. The Strength comes out a little short due to having no way to match the Strength granted by Titan-Stone knuckles. I did Briefly consider increasing the Constitution instead of taking Brawny, and that would have taken the hit points just over 300, but the idea of a Goliath with Brawny and having a carry capacity of a creature the size of a Huge being is just terribly amusing.

20th Level Statistics

15th Level Goliath Primal Brawler
Str: 24
Dex: 14
Con: 20
Int: 6
Wis: 10
Cha: 13

HP: 285
AC: 17
Speed: 40 ft

Proficiency Bonus: +6

Natural Athlete
Stone's Endurance
Powerful Build
Mountain Born

Armor Proficiencies: Light Armor, Medium Armor, Shields
Weapons: Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons
Tools: Flute
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Languages: Common, Giant, Gnome

Proficient Skills
Athletics (Goliath) +19
Intimidation (Barbarian) +7, (Master of the Boast) +13
Perception (Barbarian) +6
Performance (Master of the Boast) +7
Persuasion (Outlander) +6, (Master of the Boast) +13
Survival (Outlander) +6

Background: Outlander

Feat: Brawny, Mage Slayer, Mobile, Tough

Rage (Unlimited/+4)
Unarmored Defense
Reckless Attack
Danger Sense
Primal Brawler
Fists of Steel (1d12)
Brutal Technique: Forceful Blows
Fast Movement
Fighting Spirit: Bold Battler
Brutal Critical (3 dice)
Master of the Boast
Relentless Rage
Savage Style: Crippling Blows
Persistent Rage
Indomitable Might
Primal Champion

Some 5e Builds

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