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Ultimate Character Creation: The Barbarian

Tags: #Character Build Barbarian  #Character Build Warrior  #Character Build Werewolf  #Character Build Mods  #Roleplaying  #Ordinator  #SE Rank:Novice  #Trekster 
  • November 28, 2018

    The Mission

    I am providing a comprehensive class setup that, in my opinion, should exist at the beginning of the game in Skyrim. Being heavily inspired by the handbook and roleplaying options of D&D, I decided that Skyrim totally lacks this. I believe the game should offer more in the line of bonuses and weaknesses based on your class setup - things that go beyond simple gameplay mechanics. It is these very things which enrich your playthrough and, in effect, create actual roleplaying. My goal is to the end of making a template that incentivizes roleplaying with consequences. I want the player to feel like the character they are playing and I think with this carefully thought out template I have achieved that end. Be sure to check out my other class guides for the Paladin, the Knight, the Cleric and the Necromancer :)



    Class Description

    Perhaps no class is more synonymous with the fantasy genre than the fabled Barbarian. Of course, this class cannot be mentioned without acknowledging the far-reaching influence of Conan the Barbarian - a staple of the genre and a touchstone for much of what Sword & Sorcery is now based. Much of this class owes a lot to Conan, whether the similarities are on purpose or not, it is inevitable. I’ve certainly absorbed some class interpretations from D&D as well, but though many ideas are borrowed or repurposed I would like to think I’ve come up with some of my own unique ideas here as well. What follows is my own personal spin on the class, adding in the elements I find most important, and especially when tailoring this to Skyrim.

    Now, let’s get this out of the way: Barbarians are NOT dumb brutes. In fact, in fantasy literature Barbarians are often shown to be quite cunning and incredibly diehard opponents. It makes sense considering their existence is primal and raw, their instincts sharpened like well-tempered steel. Certainly some Barbarians are oafish and most are lacking in literacy, but that does not make them “dumb” in regards to fighting and deception. Barbarians can make talented thieves and are not easily duped given their skeptical nature. It should also be noted how highly superstitious they are when it comes to magick and enchanted items. They are fighting savants, beyond anything a Warrior class can achieve through training. This is because they possess heightened Instincts. This fighter’s intuition is inborn, honed and galvanized through centuries of ancestral in-fighting between tribes and clans. They are unbeatable savages of the land - whether it be mountain, tundra, jungle or desert. If you fight on their turf you enter a world of hurt.


    Creating the Barbarian

    This guide will aid you in creating a Barbarian with various gameplay and roleplay mechanics. To put it simply, and to outline some basic steps, what you can expect to do with this guide is the following:

    1) Create a Backstory

    2) Choose SIX Barbarian Skills

    3) Choose ONE Bloodline

    4) Quest for your Birthright and learn your Birthright Bonuses

    5) You are ready to play!



    Starting Gear

    Barbarians are scantily clad champions of might and minimalism. They need very little to be successful in battle. Determine the realm of your character - forest, mountain, tundra or desert - to aid in your armor choice. Barbarians from cold regions will wear fur or coat. Hailing from the desert will mean nothing warmer than hide or scale. You character will start with the choice of 3 basic items:

    1) Fur OR Hide OR Skaal Coat Armor

    2) Iron Battleaxe OR Iron War Axe + Iron Shield

    3) 1 Minor Healing Potion OR 1 Minor Stamina Potion


    The Prowess of the Barbarian

    The Barbarian’s strength in battle is unquestionable. Charging fiercely into a line of troops, expertly dodging, weaving and hacking, miraculously avoiding death at every turn, the Barbarian possesses a fighting prowess that is unmatched. All of this is accountable to their tremendous power: their Instinct. Much is made about the anger of Barbarians. Though this is a popular trope, and can be an important feature of their instinctual power, it is their natural, primal intuition that allows them to achieve miraculous feats in war. Their Instinct manifests as pure clarity of thought and action in the heat of battle. This makes them extremely dangerous opponents who, regardless of the odds, are never out of a fight.


    The Source of the Barbarian’s Prowess

    Barbarians derive their fighting prowess, or Instinct, from their Bloodline. Unlike Warriors who get their skill and overall ability from their extensive training, Barbarians are battlefield savants. They acquire their talents not from some combat academy or tireless practice, but from something inborn. They have an innate sense, able to read situations quickly and respond athletically without hesitation; All of this is due to their Bloodline.



    Every Barbarian has an inherited Bloodline and family lineage. Consider the ancestors of your character and what their backstory will be. Your Bloodline is the source of your Barbarian’s power, so consider what circumstances may necessitate this. Many Barbarians carry an ancestral bloodrage which is passed down through the generations from years of abuse and mistreatment from other tribes, and this grants them their strong Instincts. These Barbarians are called Bloodragers. Others hail from a long line of talented fighters and chieftains, possessing the blood of proven War-Chiefs. Perhaps your character has blood tainted by a werebeast, granting them an insatiable Moon Lust and the power of the Changeling. Or maybe they are a Pactborn warrior who makes an unbreakable life debt, is born into one, or trades their soul for the blood of a champion. Whatever their ancestral background, you must consider your character’s Bloodline. (See Bloodrager, Changeling, Pactborn and War-Chief below for further details).



    Now that you’ve determined your character’s backstory and Bloodline, you will want to consider the most important aspect of the Barbarian’s journey: Their Birthright. Every Barbarian, depending on their Bloodline, will quest based on an established Birthright. A Barbarian’s Birthright is a particular right or payment they are owed from the moment they take on the power of their Bloodline. It overrides everything they do. Each sub-class has a particular heritage associated with them, and their journey follows a specific trajectory given that information. Keep in mind that this is the most essential roleplay dynamic for the Barbarian class and will require introspection on the part of the player in determining the nuances of it. Study the Birthrights below.



    Now that you’ve studied the Birthrights you are ready to choose your character’s Barbarian Skills and Bloodline!


    Choose SIX Barbarian Skills:





    Light Armor







    Choose ONE Bloodline:



    A warrior with a seething mind strikes the bodies of fallen foes. Again and again. They are long dead but his satisfaction grows. The blood lust has taken over and even now his ancestor’s smile upon him. This is the Bloodrager.


    Roleplaying the Bloodrager

    A warrior born with a furious heart and an undying hatred. These Barbarians often inherit the rage of their ancestors, from years of tribe wars and turf disputes. Their fury is deeply ingrained and can only be quenched by spilling the blood of their sworn foes. They may be an elf-hating Nord, or an Argonian slave with a seething blood feud against the Dunmer people. Regardless who their rivals are, their inborn hatred towards them is well deserved. The trauma and tragedy of their ancestors will be visited upon their sworn enemies.

    When it comes to the Bloodrager’s Blood Payment, consider choosing one specific rival clan or race. This will be the unfortunate recipient of an unending blood feud, one which will never stop until they’ve all been slaughtered. Even on that day, it is said the Bloodrager will never be satisfied. The legends say that a wandering Bloodrager, without an ability to quell their fury, will live on forever. Such raging spirits are believed to one day become the new gods, that from a blood so furious and boiling, a new universe could be born, one that would never die out. Until that day, the Bloodrager will lash out, eternally, against their hated enemies.

    Roleplaying the Bloodrager effectively requires the player stay true to their Birthright of a Blood Payment. Since the game itself cannot penalize the player for failing to kill their rivals everytime they come across them, it will behoove the player to remain consistent with this themselves. Failing to do so will mean not roleplaying the Bloodrager as it is meant to be played. Forgoing other motives and quests for their blood feud is paramount in playing this character correctly. Deal with the consequences later.




    A Werebeast with a howling spirit roars into battle. He strikes down his enemies beneath the pale light of the Moon. It has been a full lunar cycle since he’s tasted the flesh of a human. Tonight he quells the hunger of the beast. This is the Changeling.


    The Changeling

    You are a Werebeast. Werewolf or Werebear - take your pick. These are the paths of the Changeling, so choose carefully. Consider, again, your character’s backstory and what the circumstances are surrounding their Moon Lust. Any Changeling in the world of Skyrim possesses blood tainted by a beast. You should determine, if your character is a Werebear, why they are a Werebear specifically. Maybe it is their totem animal, a spirit they’ve been entwined with since birth. Or perhaps they were bitten by a night wolf and, consequently, are a Werewolf. Regardless the circumstances, your character is now a Changeling and enraptured by the pull of the Moon.

    Employing this character correctly will necessitate the use of the Moonlight Tales mod, at least if you plan to be a Werebear. This mod will also provide some customization options for a Werewolf as well. Being able to create your character’s transformation settings is an amazing asset for a build like this. Maybe your Changeling only transforms on full moons, or they could shape-shift every single night. Moonlight Tales will allow you to flesh out the particulars with a build like this and enjoy a truly customized, unique experience as a werebeast character.

    It should be noted that Changelings, in human form, are still worthwhile fighters and Barbarians. But it is their beast form which lends them their originality. Remember that a Changeling serves two worlds; two souls. They are accountable to their twin spirits and may, for example, see a dichotomy in most things. Roleplaying this character well will take all these things into account. I would also recommend embracing the duality of your character, however that looks. It may be that your human side conflicts with your beast side. Maybe you’re in search for a cure. Consider your character’s feelings towards their ability and let this guide your playthrough. It may be a blessing or a curse, depending on the character.





    A savage born into an ancestral pact, she swears allegiance to the hunt. With every animal hide she dresses, an offering to the Wisp Mother who granted her people such powerful Instincts. This is the Pactborn.


    The Pactborn

    Some Barbarians don’t possess inborn Instinct and, instead, have it granted to them. These fighters inherit their Instincts from a pact they are born into or they willingly make themselves. Pactborn barbarians trade their better angels for a new legacy. Maybe they come from disgraced beginnings and wish to carve a name for themselves in the bodies of their enemies. It could be that your character, through an awful stroke of chance, has bad fighter’s instincts and makes a deal with a circle of demons for better warrior’s blood. It is then that their power is truly born - hence their Instinct is “Pactborn”.

    Of all the Barbarian sub-classes, the Pactborn are perhaps the only ones to be less superstitious of magickal items. Given their power is founded on a mystical pact, they may be more embracing of enchanted weapons, wielding ones that they find. It should be noted that no Barbarians possess spell-casting or enchanting abilities, but if any are willing to at least use such weapons it is likely the Pactborn. In fact, many may quest for unique weapons as part of their Life Debt.

    Roleplaying a Pactborn Barbarian effectively rests on the player’s ability to roleplay creatively. The Pactborn backstory requires the most invention from the player as the nature of their pact will come into question throughout their playthrough. You will want to iron out the details. Consider all the intricacies of your Life Debt and what your character needs to do in fulfilling this agreement. Remember that Pactborn Barbarians are not Warlocks or Clerics by any means. Their power should not be granted by a divine or all-powerful being, but by a mystic, shaman or otherworldly demon - something limited in its power. It could be a witch doctor who provides a blood transfusion in exchange for their services, for example. Whatever the case, they now possess the blood of a true champion and they will use it to make a name for themselves.





    A warlord battlecries, charging the field of enemy forces. He decimates whole swaths of soldiers in one fell swoop. With each swing of his mighty warhammer, people go winging off in all directions. This is the War-Chief.


    The War-Chief

    There are many tales and songs written about these chieftain savages. They are leaders of a warrior tribe who exhibit fearlessness and, above all, ruthlessness. They don’t become respected, feared leaders for nothing. War-Chiefs command a great deal of respect by being the best fighter around. They don’t lead behind lines of infantrymen. No, they fight on the frontlines, tallying up more kills than the rest of their tribe combined. They are a valued asset in their community and are the person you call on when a Dragon comes knocking. If respect isn’t given to the War-Chief willingly then they will take it at the edge of a well placed battleaxe.

    Being an effective War-Chief rests on the player’s ability to determine the ruthlessness and savagery of their character. Heavy lies the crown, as War-Chiefs are tested by their tribesmen often. They are not allowed to show even the faintest sign of weakness or their leadership and courage will be called into question. For this reason, War-Chiefs are all about posturing and demonstrating their bravery and skill in all circumstances. They epitomize machismo and bravado, proving themselves to their ilk and, especially, the opposite sex. War-Chiefs, men and women, can have their pick of any mate, as they exude high value and status in their community.

    Roleplaying this character well hinges on the character’s approach to random, seemingly insignificant situations. Yours is a character that cannot show weakness, after all. They won’t back down from a challenge and they will seek out positions of leadership and power. Establishing a band of followers would be an important starting place, as your character’s confidence attracts those who are willing to follow a fierce leader.





    Andromeda - The Andromeda Lord Stone lends itself perfectly to a Barbarian character, with having the use of unlimited power attacks for a slightly reduced cost. This is a preferred Standing Stone and Mod combination for any Barbarian character though you could make a strong argument for Warrior, Steed, Lover or Lady stones, depending on your character's needs.

    Campfire - A great mod for roleplaying a hunter character or person of the land. Since Barbarians are of the land, this mod lends itself very well to a playthrough with this class. Some classes may do rituals or ceremonial chants at a firepit, so this provides your character to do things beyond the basic survival skills. Frostfall is a decent companion as well, if you're up for it, but it is not required or as important as Campfire.

    Cheat Room - An essential mod for all of these character creation guides, as you will need to add and subtract certain bonuses from the start. This will also allow your Barbarian to start with the appropriate gear - never anything too overpowered, but just to allow for a lore-friendly starting point.

    Moonlight Tales - An essential one if you wish to play as a Werebear. If you want to play as a Werewolf, it’s highly recommended as it will allow you to dictate your lunar cycle and when and how often you will shape-shift. A very important tool for roleplaying a Changeling effectively.

    Ordinator - I can’t recommend this mod enough, as it adds so many important perks to the game. There’s various options that can be explored with any Barbarian type, especially heavy investment in the Melee, Archery, Alchemy and Light Armor trees.


  • November 28, 2018

    Okay, there's something about the sub-classes here that I just really love. I enjoyed the others but I think this is the first to make me want to play Skyrim again (Note: That's not a knock against you mate, I've just been playing the game for 6 and a half years and can't really enjoy the game anymore). Just damn they were really interesting, well thought out and all felt completely different from each other in subtle ways that just...yeah made a really awesome guide.

    I'm so down for this one man, really great job on everything :D

  • November 28, 2018

    Dragonborn2021 said:

    Okay, there's something about the sub-classes here that I just really love. I enjoyed the others but I think this is the first to make me want to play Skyrim again (Note: That's not a knock against you mate, I've just been playing the game for 6 and a half years and can't really enjoy the game anymore). Just damn they were really interesting, well thought out and all felt completely different from each other in subtle ways that just...yeah made a really awesome guide.

    I'm so down for this one man, really great job on everything :D

    Thanks dude! I always felt the Barbarian class needed a little more respect. It can be very fun to roleplay.


  • November 30, 2018

    Thanks dude! I always felt the Barbarian class needed a little more respect. It can be very fun to roleplay.

    Definitely, and you've come up with some really interesting ways to think about them. I've typically gone with something a bit more like The Bloodrager, just how I tend to play them I guess. Bit hard to remember every Barbarian I've ever played, but yeah most are at least somewhat similar.

  • Member
    December 23, 2018

    Well done! I agree with DB....makes me want to fire up Skyrim and grab a battleaxe :) 

    The knock on barbarians (in skyrim) is that combat gets "boring". Smash, bash repeat. However, you've given folks ways to rethink the class and dive deep into RP and justify gameplay choices. 

    The playthrough that comes to mind for me is Paul England's Whale Build (part of his epic Atmoran totems series). Prior to this, I had rarely made it very far with a two handed barbarian type. Paul did such an amazing job linking lore, RP, and justifying interesting secondary skills (alteration) and clever use of shouts that I took it well past level 40. 

    Anyway, I digress. Love this series and especially this class - good job!

  • May 20, 2020

    Great guide. Your guide and The Vargr build by Paul England inspired me to roll a werewolf barbarian. i also downloaded the Moonlight Tales on your recommendation and love it. THANKS!