Berserker

Written by Martin K.

The weak fight to stay alive, but you live to fight and you will die fighting. Every slash of the sword, every enemy felled, you feel the blood rushing in your veins. Every hero can feel the combat escalate, pushing them to their limits, but no other class is driven by the frenzy of battle as the Berserker. Every hit that you land fuels your fury.

berserker by cristi b d9osegpOverview

Play Style: In combat, you are a front line damage dealer. If you like to charge in and smash things, this is your class. You don't just dish out damage in large heaps, you'll also be able to take quite a bit. However, don't underestimate how much your enemies can dish out if they gang up on you. Stay close to the fighter, the paladin, and especially the cleric.

There is a bit of book-keeping involved in this class, but you can keep your frenzy dice together in a nice stack so you immediately know how hard you are raging. It's also helpful to write down all your powers on cards, so you can just flip the ones you used.

Out of combat, a background in scouting or wilderness survival can make you an asset to the party. Your main social skills are likely grunting and intimidation, but you don't have to limit yourself to that.

Ability Scores: You gain a +2 bonus to Strength or Constitution, as long as it is not the same as your racial bonus. Those two abilities are your mainstays. A good Wisdom or Dexterity is important for your armor class.

Races: Members of any race can pick up a big stick and bash their opponents to a bloody pulp. Half-Orc is a top pick, both from the abilities and the thematic fit. Dwarf, Dragonborn, Dark Elf, Wood Elf or Warforged are also great choices.

Backgrounds: Disgraced daughter of the tribal shaman, bloodthirsty mercenary, freed gladiator, hell-hole scavenger, fallen paladin out for vengeance, failed fleshgrafting experiment, bounty hunter without a past

Icons: Most berserkers follow the non-civilized icons, such as the Orc Lord, the High Druid or the Three. Mercenary types are likely aligned with the Crusader, or if their souls are already past redemption, the Diabolist. Elves and dwarves with berserker tendencies have likely left their societies behind, and have at best a conflicted relationship with their racial icons. The Shadow Prince or the Archmage are unlikely icon relations, but they can result from an interesting One Unique Thing.

Gear

Most Berserkers hail from tribal societies, and carry with them what they need to survive in the wild. The clothes they wear are simple and sturdy, often made from the tanned furs and hides of animals they hunted. Many decorate their skin with paints, tattoos or ritual scars to appear more fearsome to their enemies. Mercenary types will wear the civilized military clothing of their region, with light armor such as a chain shirt or breast plate, and the usual travelling gear.

You can choose to start with either 25 gp, or 1d6 x 10 gp. If you don't hail from civilization, this is most likely furs, gems, or small pieces of art like carved animal teeth that your people use for trading.

Armor

Berserkers usually wear light armor in battle, as they find heavy armor too restrictive for their fierce, untamed fighting style.

Berserker Armor and AC
TypeBase ACAttack Penalty
None 10 -
Light 12 -
Heavy 13 -2
Shield +1 -

Weapons

Berserkers favor melee weapons. The most common style is a single heavy weapon, but there is a variety of styles that depend on your choice of talents.

Berserker Melee Weapons
Size One-Handed Two-Handed
Small 1d4 knife 1d6 staff
Light or Simple 1d6 short sword 1d8 spear
Heavy or Martial 1d8 longsword, scimitar 1d10 greatsword, battle axe

See the talent list for an option to wield 1d12 melee weapons. 

Berserker Ranged Weapons
Size Thrown Crossbow Bow
Small 1d4 dagger 1d4 hand crossbow -
Light or Simple 1d6 javelin, axe 1d6 light crossbow 1d6 shortbow
Heavy - 1d8 heavy crossbow 1d8 longbow

  

Basic Attacks

Melee Attack

At-Will

Target: One enemy

Attack: Strength + Level vs. AC

Hit: Weapon + Strength damage

Miss: Damage equal to your level

Ranged Attack

At-Will

Special: With a thrown weapon, you can use Strength instead of Dexterity for attack and damage

Target: One enemy

Attack: Dexterity + Level vs. AC

Hit: Weapon + Dexterity damage

Miss: Damage equal to your level

Berserker Level Level Progression

Note: Although not listed on the table, Berserkers get three talents. They do not gain more at higher levels.

Berserker
Level
Total Hit Points Total Feats Powers
Known
Power Pool
Available
Frenzy dice
on hit
Maximum Frenzy Level-up
Ability Bonuses
Damage Bonus
from Ability Score
Level 1 (8 + CON mod) x 3 1 adventurer 3 1st level 1d4 3d4   ability modifier
Level 2 (8 + CON mod) x 4 2 adventurer 4 1st level 1d6 3d6   ability modifier
Level 3 (8 + CON mod) x 5 3 adventurer 4 3rd level 1d8 3d8   ability modifier
Level 4 (8 + CON mod) x 6 4 adventurer 5 3rd level 1d10 3d10 +1 to 3 abilities ability modifier
Level 5 (8 + CON mod) x 8 4 adventurer
1 champion
5 5th level 2d6 6d6   2 x ability modifier
Level 6 (8 + CON mod) x 10 4 adventurer
2 champion
5 5th level 2d8 6d8   2 x ability modifier
Level 7 (8 + CON mod) x 12 4 adventurer
3 champion
6 7th level 2d10 6d10 +1 to 3 abilities 2 x ability modifier
Level 8 (8 + CON mod) x 16 4 adventurer
3 champion
1 epic
6 7th level 4d6 12d6   3 x ability modifier
Level 9 (8 + CON mod) x 20 4 adventurer
3 champion
2 epic
6 9th level 4d8 12d8   3 x ability modifier
Level 10 (8 + CON mod) x 24 4 adventurer
3 champion
3 epic
7 9th level 4d10 12d10 +1 to 3 abilities 3 x ability modifier

 

Multiclass Berserkers start with 2 powers known at level 1. See the Multiclass information at the bottom for more details.

Berserker Stats

Initiative, AC, PD, MD, Hit Points, Recovery Dice, Feats, and some Talents are level dependent.

Ability Bonus +2 Strength or Constitution (different from racial bonus)
Initiative Dex mod + Level
Armor Class (light armor) 12 + middle mod of Con/Dex/Wis + Level
Physical Defense 11 + middle mod of Str/Con/Dex + Level
Mental Defense 10 + middle mod of Int/Wis/Cha + Level
Hit Points (8 + Con mod) x Level modifier (see level progression chart)
Recoveries (probably) 8
Recovery Dice (1d10 x Level) + Con mod
Backgrounds 8 points, max 5 in any one background
Icon Relationships 3 points; 4 at 5th level, 5 at 8th level
Talents 3
Feats 1 per level

 

Class Features

berserker womanBerserker Frenzy

In combat, you build up a pool of frenzy dice. At level one, if you hit with a melee attack, you add 1d4 to your pool at the end of your turn. When you level up, that die increases to 1d6, and further up as per the level progression table. At champion tier (5th level), you add two dice, and at epic tier (8th level) you add four.

Add your current frenzy dice pool to the damage of each hit with a melee attack.

After three hits, you reach your maximum frenzy pool. You can spend your frenzy dice to fuel berserker powers. Any dice you gain above your pool are converted into healing.

The full sequence at the end of your turn is:

  • If you have scored a hit with a melee attack this turn, add frenzy dice to your pool as per the level advancement table. Only the first hit counts. You don't get more frenzy dice for additional hits.
  • Pay the frenzy cost of all berserker power you used this turn.
  • If you don't have enough frenzy dice to pay for the powers used, take 1d12 damage for each missing point, and you are exhausted until the end of your next turn. (When you are exhausted, you can't benefit from the escalation die.)
  • If you have more frenzy dice than the maximum frenzy for your level, roll any excess dice and heal hit points equal to that amount. (You can't heal beyond your maximum hit points), and remove the dice from your pool.

Your frenzy pool goes back to zero at the end of battle.

Berserker Powers

You gain a number of berserker powers as indicated by the powers known entry in the level advancement table. Many of these are stronger melee attacks that leverage your frenzy dice in some way. Other powers are battlecries that inspire your allies or frighten your opponents.

Some powers have a frenzy cost. When you use a power with a cost, reduce your frenzy pool by that amount at the end of your turn.

Most berserker powers can be used once per battle.

Class Talents

Ancestral Guidance

The heroes of your people, whose deeds are passed on in legends, watch over you. In the rush of battle, you can feel them guide your blade.

Choose six frenzy powers, other than the powers you know. During initiative, roll a d6 to pick one that you can use in this battle. (At first and second level, you can add 3rd-level powers to the list to get a total of six)

Champion feat: When you rally, roll on the table again.

Critical Frenzy

When you score a critical hit with a melee attack during your turn, gain double frenzy dice at the end of your turn.

Adventurer feat: When your frenzy dice pool is at maximum, gain a +2 bonus to your critical threat range.

Feed on Pain

Bleeding and pain does not hold you back, it only fuels your fury.

Once per battle, when you take damage from an attack, immediately gain a frenzy dice as if you had hit with an attack.

Adventurer feat: When you use this ability, also regain a once-per-battle power you have already used this battle.

Champion feat: While staggered, your recovery dice are d12.

Flying Axes

When you hit with a thrown weapon, you add your current frenzy pool to damage, and you gain frenzy dice at the end of your turn as if you had hit with a melee attack.

Adventurer feat: Choose a melee attack barbarian power. You can use it as a ranged attack with a thrown weapon.

Champion feat: You can use all your melee attack barbarian powers as thrown weapon ranged attacks.

Full Metal Berserk

Just because you enjoy the standing in the frenzy of battle doesn't mean you don't see the value of solid metal gear. It's hard to keep adventuring if you take an arrow to the knee. Heavy steel plating prevents nasty scars on your perfect abs.

You don't take an attack penalty when wearing heavy armor.

Adventurer feat: Gain a +1 bonus to PD in heavy armor.

Champion feat: Gain a +1 bonus to saving throws in heavy armor.

Epic feat: When you wear a true magic item heavy armor, it always counts as epic tier.

Gigantic Weapon

It's not overcompensating if a hulking brute like you, towering a whole two heads above everyone else, wields an axe or a sword that would fit the hands of a giant. After all, you need to keep up with all the creatures of unusual size out there.

You can wield two-handed heavy melee weapons with a 1d12 damage die without penalty.

Adventurer feat: Gain a +1 bonus to hit against large and huge monsters with two-handed weapons.

Champion feat: Gain a +2 bonus to your critical threat range against large and huge monsters with two-handed weapons.

Epic feat: Against large and huge monsters, reroll all natural 1 on damage dice, including frenzy dice.

Twin Blades of Glory

You wield a weapon in each hand because, hey ... double the slashing. When waves of enemies crash against you, you are the rock that splits the tide.

When you wield a weapon in each hand, add your frenzy dice to miss damage with melee attacks.

Adventurer feat: Gain a +1 bonus to hit against mooks while dual-wielding.

Champion feat: Gain a +2 bonus to your critical threat range against mooks while dual-wielding.

Unstoppable Determination

If your enemies think that just because you are a hulking mass of muscle, your mind is weak and can be easily swayed, they are in for a nasty surprise.

You gain a +2 bonus to MD. If you are hit by an attack against MD with an effect other than damage, immediately make a saving throw against that effect. If the save succeeds, ignore the effect.

Adventurer feat: If an attack against MD misses you, immediately gain frenzy dice as if you had hit with an attack. You can gain these dice once between your turns.

Champion feat: Increase the MD bonus to +4.

Epic feat: You are immune to fear.

1st Level Powers

Berserker Bash

Melee Attack; Once per battle; Cost: -

Attack: Strength + Level vs. AC

Hit: WEAPON + Strength damage. Your allies can pop free from the target.

Miss: Damage equal to your level.

Adventurer feat: Until the start of your next turn, you gain a +4 bonus to opportunity attacks against the target.

Cry for Blood

Close-quarters power; Once per battle; Cost: -

Always: Gain frenzy dice as if you had hit with a melee attack at the end of your turn.

Target: All nearby enemies

Attack: Constitution + Level vs. the highest MD of all targets

Hit: Psychic damage equal to your Constitution modifier.

Adventurer feat: Deal extra damage equal to your current frenzy pool.

Champion feat: You gain a +4 bonus to your next melee attack before the end of your next turn.

Epic feat: Give all nearby allies a +2 bonus to melee attacks until the start of your next turn.

Frenzied Strike

Melee attack; Once per battle; Cost: -

Attack: Strength + Level + 1 vs. AC

Hit: WEAPON + Strength damage. Increase your frenzy dice by one step for the damage of this attack (d4 -> d6 and so on).

Miss: Damage equal to your level.

Champion feat: Increase the attack bonus to +2.

Headless Rush

Melee attack; Once per battle; Cost: -

Always: You take a -4 penalty to AC until the start of your next turn

Attack: Strength + Level + 4 vs. AC

Hit: WEAPON + Strength damage.

Miss: Damage equal to your level.

Adventurer feat: You can engage a far away enemy as part of the attack.

Champion feat: You can pop free from all enemies as part of the attack.

Epic feat: Gain an extra frenzy die on a hit.

Iron Determination

Close-quarters power; No action; Once per battle; Cost: 1 frenzy die

Trigger: You fail a saving throw

Effect: Reroll the save and add 1d6 to the roll.

Adventurer feat: You can use this power for death saves (while unconscious).

Champion feat: If the reroll fails, you do not expend this power.

Vigorous Growl

Close-quarters power; Quick action; Once per battle; Cost: 1 frenzy die

Effect: Roll your frenzy dice and gain as many temporary hit points.

Adventurer feat: A nearby ally gains half the amount of temporary hit points.

Champion feat: Deal damage equal to twice your Constitution modifier (triple at 8th level) to all engaged enemies.

3rd Level Powers

Berserker Challenge

Close-quarters power; Quick action; Once per battle; Cost: -

Target: One enemy you are engaged with

Effect: While you are engaged to that enemy, that enemy has a -5 penalty to disengage checks against you, and provokes an attack of opportunity whenever it makes an attack against an ally that doesn't also include you.

Adventurer feat: Gain a +2 bonus to opportunity attacks against the target.

Howl of the Alpha Wolf

Close-quarters power; Quick action; Once per battle; Cost: 1 to 3 frenzy dice

Target: 1 nearby enemy per frenzy die spent

Attack: Constitution + Level vs. MD

Hit: Your constitution modifier + your frenzy pool psychic damage.

  Even hit: The target is hampered (can only make basic attacks) until the start of your next turn

Miss: Psychic damage equal to your level.

Adventurer feat: If the attack misses all targets, you don't expend this power.

Champion feat: The hamper effect is (save ends).

Epic feat: On a critical hit, the target is stunned until the start of your next turn.

Raging Vengeance

Melee attack; Interrupt action; Once per battle; Cost: 1 frenzy die

Trigger: A nearby ally has been reduced to zero hit points

Always: Pop free from all enemies, engage the opponent that has attacked your ally.

Target: Your ally's attacker

Attack: Strength + Level vs. AC

Hit: WEAPON + Strength damage.

Miss: Half damage.

Adventurer feat: Gain a +2 bonus to the attack

Champion feat: On a hit, grant your ally a death save.

Epic feat: No frenzy die cost.

Scream of Victory

Close-quarters power; Free action; Once per battle; Cost: 1 frenzy die

Trigger: You kill a non-mook enemy

Effect: Spend a recovery to heal.

Adventurer feat: No frenzy die cost.

Champion feat: The recovery is free.

Throat Ripper

Melee attack; Once per battle; Cost: 1 frenzy die

Attack: Strength + Level vs. AC

Hit: WEAPON + Strength damage. The target takes ongoing damage equal to your frenzy dice roll.

Miss: Your level in damage

Champion feat: The save against the ongoing damage is a hard save (16+).

5th Level Powers

Blood Frenzy

Melee attack; Once per battle; Cost: 3 frenzy dice

Target: Two enemies you are engaged with

Attack: Strength + Level vs. AC

Hit: WEAPON + Strength damage.

Miss: -

Both attacks miss: Take psychic damage equal to your current frenzy pool

Champion feat: Deal half damage on a miss.

Epic feat: Reduce the cost to 2 frenzy dice.

Furious Outburst

Close-quarters power; No action; Once per battle; Cost: 2 frenzy dice

Trigger: You miss with a melee attack

Effect: Reroll the attack.

Champion feat: Reroll any damage dice of that attack that are natural 1, including frenzy dice.

Epic feat: If the reroll is a hit, you do not expend frenzy dice for this power.

Invigorating Strike

Melee attack; Once per battle; Cost: 1 frenzy die

Attack: Strength + Level vs. AC

Hit: WEAPON + Strength damage. Gain temporary hit points equal to your frenzy dice roll.

Miss: Your level in damage

Champion feat: On a miss, roll your frenzy pool and gain as many temporary hit points.

Shake it off

Close-quarters power; Free action; Once per battle; Cost: 2 frenzy dice

Trigger: You take damage from an attack

Effect: You take half damage from the attack. If the attack had a type of damage associated to it, such as fire, you gain resist (that type) 16+ until the end of the battle.

Champion feat: No frenzy die cost.

Epic feat: You take no damage from the initial attack.

7th Level Powers

Cull the Weak

Melee attack; Quick action; Once per battle; Cost: 3 frenzy dice

Target: One nearby staggered enemy

Attack: Strength + Level vs. AC

Hit: WEAPON + Strength damage.

Champion feat: If this attack kills the target, immediately make another melee attack against a nearby enemy.

Harbinger of Death

Melee attack; Once per battle; Cost: 3 frenzy dice

Attack: Strength + Level vs. AC

Hit: WEAPON + Strength damage.

  Even hit: Make another melee attack. Keep attacking while you roll even hits. You can pop free and engage other nearby enemies between attacks.

Miss: Your level in damage

Epic feat: The first roll triggers a follow-up attack, even if it is not an even hit.

Raised Fist of Defiance

Close-quarters power; Quick action; Once per battle; Cost: 3 frenzy dice

Effect: You shout out a challenge to an icon, and gain a negative relationship die with it until your next full heal-up. Increase the escalation die by 1.

Epic feat: You can also make a saving throw.

Slaying Frenzy

Close-quarters power; Quick action; Once per battle; Cost: 2 frenzy dice

Effect: Increase your critical threat range by 2 until you roll a critical hit, or until the end of battle.

Epic feat: Increase the crit range by 3 instead.

Spine-chilling Roar

Close-quarters power; Once per battle; Cost: 3 frenzy dice

Target: All nearby mooks

Attack: Constitution + level vs. the highest MD of all targets

Effect: The targets are dazed until the start of your next turn, and will flee if able to.

Epic feat: You can use this power as a free action, at no frenzy die cost, after killing a non-mook enemy.

Whirling Evasion

Close-quarters power; Immediate action; Once per battle; Cost: 3 frenzy dice

Trigger: You are hit by an attack by an enemy you are engaged with

Effect: Take half damage from the attack. Make a melee basic attack against the attacker.

Epic feat: You can use this power against any enemy you can see. Pop free from all other enemies and engage the attacker to make your attack.

9th Level Powers

Fury of the North Wind

Close-quarters power; Quick Action; Once per battle; Cost: 4 frenzy dice

Special: You must be staggered

Effect: Until the start of your next turn, you are immune to all attacks except melee attacks.

Epic feat: You can use this power as a free action after you are staggered by an attack.

Killing Blow

Close-quarters power; Free action; Once per battle; Cost: 4 frenzy dice

Trigger: You score a critical hit against a staggered enemy

Attack: Constitution + Level vs. PD

Hit: You kill the enemy.

Miss: The enemy is weakened until the end of your next turn.

Tsunami of Blood

Melee attack; Once per battle; Cost: 4 frenzy dice

Special: You can use this power as a free action when you miss with a basic melee attack

Target: 1d3 nearby enemies

Attack: Strength + Level vs. AC

Hit: WEAPON + Strength damage.

Miss: Your level in damage

Epic feat: Target an additional enemy.

Undying Rage

Close-quarters power; Free action; Once per battle; Cost: 4 frenzy dice

Trigger: You are reduced below zero hit points by an attack

Effect: Heal using a recovery. Then take a standard action.

Epic feat: You can spend two recoveries.

Multiclass Berserker

  • You gain the Berserker Frenzy and Berserker Powers class features.
  • You only gain frenzy dice for hits with berserker basic melee attacks and berserker power melee attacks. You would not, for example, gain frenzy dice for a hit with the Paladin's Smite Evil.
  • You only add frenzy to damage with berserker melee attacks, not attacks of other classes.
  • Use the barbarian entry for key ability modifiers. A Berserker / Barbarian has Str / Con as key abilities.
  • Berserkers count as "skillful warriors" and do not suffer from a weapon damage penalty (if the other class is also from that list)
  • At 1st level, you know 2 berserker powers, and your frenzy die on hit is 1d3. Your maximum frenzy is 3d3.

 

Notes

  • The berserker's frenzy dice gained on a hit are roughly equal to 10% of the hit points of a normal strength monster of that level. For example, at 10th level 4d10 is 22 on average, versus a 216 hp monster.
  • Following that, the maximum frenzy pool is roughly 30% of that monster's hp.
  • If there was no cap on the frenzy pool, Berserker damage would just go off the charts in long fights.
  • With the ability to convert excess frenzy into healing, it doesn't feel as if those points are wasted. Without that mechanic, berserkers would always have to worry about spending frenzy on powers before they reach maximum frenzy.
  • Adding and removing frenzy pool dice happens at the end of your turn, so the next player can already act while you sort out your bookkeeping (similar to chaos mage spell selection) 

Art credit: (1) Berserker by christi-b (2) unknown artist


Version 1.1; 8 Nov 2016

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