Excerpts 05/01/2006

Player's Handbook II Excerpt
By David Noonan

The Player's Handbook II builds upon existing materials in the Player's Handbook by expanding the options available for players by both providing new material and increasing the uses for existing rules. Included are chapters on character race, background, classes, feats, spells, character creation, and character advancement. New rules include racial affiliations that make race matter as a character advances in level, new character classes and alternate class features for existing classes, new feats, tools for rapid character creation, and additional organization and teamwork benefits -- an option first introduced in Dungeon Master's Guide II and Heroes of Battle. The excerpts below include the table of contents and introduction, the knight class, expanded barbarian material, a feat table, the polymorph subschool and sample spells, and some material about rebuilding your character.

Expanded Barbarian (Chapter 2: Expanded Classes)


All stand in awe at the berserker fury you tap at will, enhancing your strength and toughness at the expense of reason. But what do cultured people know of the frozen wastes or hellish jungles that forged your earliest experiences? The cruel vicissitudes of growing up "savage" were normal to you. When your older brother was lost on a bear hunt one day, and your younger sister died of disease in the howling dark late one night, how could you know that in other places, they might not have had to die? These and other experiences marked you, and you stand apart from those born into the comforts of civilization.

Suggested Backgrounds (choose one): Gladiator, Mariner, Tribal Origin.

Suggested Personality Archetypes (choose one): Challenger, Explorer, Mercenary, Orphan, Renegade, Savage, Seeker, Simple Soul, Wanderer.


One or both of the following character themes could apply to you.

Fearless: You are made of stern stuff. You're not foolish, but you're not afraid to test your mettle and resourcefulness against any foe. If you are told a foe is beyond your ability to defeat, you need more evidence than merely the claim. You do not boast, but make bold statements that echo your experiences and resolve.

Once you are actually embroiled in a conflict, you prefer a quick, urgent battle cry. A battle cry is a yell intended to rally your allies while putting fear into the hearts of enemies. See the Barbarian Battlecries sidebar and create a few of your own battlecries tailored to your experience.

"Fear cannot thwart my will."

"I braved the deadly glacier's darkest, coldest crevasse [/disease-rotted deep jungle] for three days -- this trial cannot compare with that feat."

"If you fear to cross swords with the foe, pray for a quick death, for you'll never find fulfillment in this life."

"It is in hours such as these that heroes are born!"

"Fear breeds fear!"

Tattooed: Your flesh is scribed with one or more pictures or symbols that signify your connection with the ancient principles of your barbarian past. One or more of the following tattoos adorn your body.

Arrowhead: You wear this simple pointed tattoo on your forehead. You believe that it lends you alertness in your dealings, both in combat and in your perception of the lies others tell you. Most people are certainly distracted by it.

Bear: Across your chest is tattooed a mighty bear, whose inexhaustible strength is your strength, and whose capacity to keep fighting even when sorely wounded is a quality you also possess.

Butterfly: This stylistically rendered winged thing is (you claim) a butterfly, and you tell all who admire it that it signifies everlasting life.

Circle: This tattooed open circle (or hoop) is the universal symbol of wholeness, female power, and infinity. If you are female, you have this emblem tattooed on your forehead, and all who see it know that you are an avatar of the feminine spirit.

Crossed Swords: The weapons you choose to wield say a lot about you, but they gain greater significance when their representations are tattooed upon your flesh. Such tattoos are tokens of good luck, and as long as they are visible, you know that you cannot suffer lasting defeat.

Demon: By tattooing a demonic image on your chest (instead of a bear), you indicate to others that you have no love for piety, show no mercy to your enemies, and don't care the least bit for propriety.

Dragon Scales: Your cheeks are tattooed with radiant dragon scales, which indicate the position of authority that was yours prior to your leaving your savage land, or the chiefdom that awaits you when you one day return to forge a mighty barbarian horde.

Lightning: Jagged lines scribed down your lower jaw and neck represent bolts of swift lightning, and you believe their presence lends you swiftness of pace and possibly of thought.

Mask: In lieu of other facial tattoos, you've chosen to cover your face with a single tattoo representing a fierce animal or monster, a nature spirit, or an ancestor. Your tribal shaman convinced you that the application of such a painful and encompassing (and disfiguring!) tattoo would allow you to more easily contact the spirit world and gain the power of the spirit or animal represented by the mask. Alternatively, you were shunned or cast out by your tribe. The tattoo covering your face forever marks you as an outcast to your tribe, unworthy to associate with the people of your birth.

Naga: Instead of snakes spiraling up your arms, you have tattooed human-headed nagas! The nagas represent anarchy and indicate to others who understand the symbol that you follow no law but your own, civilization be damned.

Snake: Tattooed snakes coil around your upper arms, simple but colorful. Their heads point toward your head, imparting their wisdom to you in spirit, if not in voice.

Spider: On the palm of one of your hands, hidden in normal dealings with strangers, the tattoo of a night-dark spider lurks with five of its legs extending up onto the undersides of your fingers. To you (and others familiar with the symbology), the spider represents trickery and even death, though others might say treachery instead of trickery. When engaged in trickery (or treachery), it is your habit to reveal your open palm to the victim of your trick (or double-cross) as the nature of your action becomes apparent to them.

Sun Rays: On the backs of your hands are tattooed the long rays of the golden sun. Just like you can count on the sun rising daily, people can count on you, as this tattoo signifies.

Toad: You believe that this minor tattoo you wear on one shoulder helps protect you from witchcraft, evil spells, and demonic influences.


The decision of when to rage is one of the toughest faced by a barbarian. Selecting the berserker strength class feature in place of rage removes the need for this often complicated tactical decision, replacing it with an automatically activated boost to your combat prowess and durability. In short, when the going gets tough, you get tougher.

Level: 1st.

Replaces: If you select this class feature, you do not gain rage (or any later improvements to that class feature).

Benefit: Whenever your current hit point total is below 5 x your barbarian level, your berserker strength automatically activates. You gain a +4 bonus to your Strength score, a +2 bonus on saves, damage reduction 2/--, and a -2 penalty to your AC. The damage reduction granted by berserker strength stacks with any similar kind of damage reduction.

There is no limit to the number of times per day your berserker strength can activate. While berserker strength is active, you have the same limitation on actions as a barbarian in rage (PH 25). You cannot voluntarily end your berserker strength, although you automatically drop out of it while unconscious, helpless, or (most likely) when you receive healing to bring your current hit points above the threshold.

At 11th level (or if you would gain the greater rage class feature from any class), your berserker strength improves instead. The bonus to your Strength score improves to +6, your bonus on saves improves to +3, and you gain damage reduction 3/-- (or your existing damage reduction of the same kind improves by 3).

At 20th level (or if you would gain the mighty rage class feature from any class), your berserker strength instead improves again. The bonus to your Strength score improves to +8, your bonus on saves improves to +4, and you gain damage reduction 4/-- (or your existing damage reduction of the same kind improves by 4).

Any effect that would normally apply only during your rage applies whenever your berserker strength is active.


Below are a few battle cries you enjoy screaming out to mark the beginning of a conflict, or into an enemy's face in the midst of battle.

  • [a shriek like a high-pitched yowl of a wildcat]
  • Blood for the Blood God!
  • Break the bones, hew the flesh!
  • Death to the city dwellers!
  • For the North! [or your tribe name]
  • Scream your last!
  • Your guts for a garter!
  • Your skin for a shawl!
  • Your skull for a cup!


Package 1: The Destroyer
Half-Orc Barbarian
Ability Scores: Str 17, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 6.
Skills: Climb, Jump, Swim.
Feat: Power Attack.
Weapons: Greataxe (1d12/×3), five javelins (1d6, 30 ft.).
Armor: Scale mail (+4 AC).
Other Gear: Standard adventurer's kit, 9 gp.

Package 2: The Hunter
Elf Barbarian
Ability Scores: Str 15, Dex 16, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 8.
Skills: Climb, Handle Animal, Listen, Survival.
Feat: Track.
Weapons: Battleaxe (1d8/x3), shortbow with 20 arrows (1d6/19-20, 60 ft.).
Armor: Studded leather (+3 AC), heavy steel shield (+2 AC).
Other Gear: Standard adventurer's kit, 1 gp.

Package 3: The Whirlwind
Human Barbarian
Ability Scores: Str 14, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Skills: Climb, Intimidate, Jump, Listen, Swim.
Feat: Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (kukri).
Weapons: Two kukris (1d4/18-20), five javelins (1d6, 30 ft.).
Armor: Scale mail (+4 AC).
Other Gear: Standard adventurer's kit, 4 gp.

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