‘Beserker’ Steven D. Russell of Rite Publishinghas set out to provide a plethora of flavorful feats meant to ensure enemies are both crushed and driven before you–and one needn’t contemplate overlong ‘neath the tree of woe to find a satisfying selection at hand. 101 Barbarian Feats includes a wide variety of fun new options to further define and fine tune a given barbarian’s play style; as an added bonus, the material herein offers functionality among rage powers as well–and a number of entries may even make their way to the sheets of fighters and other martial combat characters with the right inspiration.
Included here among the feats there is a fairly even spread between those that are wholly new and those which provide ‘improved’ and ‘greater’ versions of current mechanics; this serves well to not only open up new avenues of barbarian styling but to also continue to empower those which one might already be fond of. Each of the new offerings tend to balance off of a combination of expending rounds of rage or limited usage per day, which serve to keep things in line while offering a chance for barbarian characters to prompt powerful, cinematic moments.
Among the new entries there are a few which prove quite elaborate and at times a bit dense as well, but one pairing in particular really stood out: the Demonic Rage feats break down into a variety of different fonts of demonic power each with their own extraordinary or supernatural power which they grant while raging. These powers are derived from different demons contained within the barbarian which introduce a number of potent elements; the ‘possessing’ demon can communicate with their host telepathically and generally attempt to exert their wills and desires–but most poignantly, they are able to take control of their raging host at the GM’s discretion.
The Demonic Rage feats could certainly lend to an interesting role-play situation, but would definitely require consideration from all parties involved before introduction to play. Beyond this arbitration, the one thing that I found ponderous was the mention that upon the barbarian host’s death a given demon would appear in their square–which as one might imagine, could introduce a host (ho ho!) of new problems. Nevertheless, a very inventive mechanic upon which an entire character could be based.
As with any supplement of character options it will ultimately vary in personal preference for what you are comfortable introducing to your game, but on the whole I found the mechanics presented within 101 Barbarian Feats to be very manageable and thoughtfully balanced in line with existing character options.
One of the biggest values to me in this product is that various barbarian archetypes receive feat support here which can broaden their functionality. For example, the ‘Hurler’ archetype ordinarily starts and ends at the ‘Skilled Thrower’ ability; included here are a pair of feats to augment this class feature–but additionally one might take ‘Covering Throws’ to inflict morale penalties on enemies, or ‘Perfect Pitch’ to gain further range and damage on thrown attacks. Having these new options to augment existing archetypes is quite keen and handled in a very sensible but flavorful fashion!
Since many of the feats included may also be utilized as rage powers, there is considerable flexibility and ease in introducing them to new or existing characters; some of the feats included also serve to help strongly define a character’s background–such as an origin as a pit fighter involved in deadly blood sports or a seaborne raider pillaging from port to port. Not only might these spark the inspirations for entire character concept–but they might also be employed to simply solidify an homage to classic tropes.
Between all of the background options, archetype augmentations and the various chains and trees presented here one might comprise an entire party of distinct individual barbarians to go cavorting and conquering together!
Overall: 101 Barbarian Feats is 27 pages, with 4 occupied by the cover, credits, OGL and an advertisement; this leaves us with 4 pages sporting sizable reference tables while the remaining 19 cover the broad and meaty spread of barbarian goodies herein. Rite Publishing’s two-column standard of formatting is present, with plentiful full-color (a mix of stock and public domain) artwork throughout–nearly one piece on every page.
The artwork is suitably flavorful for the feats each piece accompanies, with most adding nicely to the feel. Layout and spacing are good on the whole, though there are some minor glitches and inconsistencies e.g. italics among the flavor text and a few typos among the mechanics–but ultimately nothing is glaring enough to detract from the otherwise solid presentation. The PDF is bookmarked for groupings of feats by letter, which is serviceable.
This is the sort of supplement where you might find yourself reading along and wondering aloud: ‘Why wasn’t this included in the core material?’ Here Steven D. Russel has provided organic options for the continuation of current options and archetypes which feel perfectly in theme and balance with their roots; from there, we are also presented with a great many new avenues of exploration for barbarian character concepts not previously offered by the rules.
Between background seeds, extension and expansion on existing archetypes and mechanics and finally the character-defining, cinematic capstone abilities–101 Barbarian Feats could certainly serve as the foundation for a ‘Complete Barbarian’ style of product. Even as it stands on its own, I was thoroughly impressed by the material’s creativity matched in equal measure by carefully considered crunch–which together in tandem serve to stand as a stellar offering of character options.
On the whole, if you are a fan of playing barbarians and enjoy having a bevy of customization choices available to you, this really is a must-have supplement; if you’re a GM with players interested in pursuing barbarian characters they’re apt to love the offerings here. As well, one could create rather interesting NPCs–or even compelling barbarian villains–utilizing the options included here. 101 Barbarian Feats is an excellent tool kit to tailor together truly iconic barbarian characters!
I’m going to go with 4.5 stars due to editing glitches, but rounded comfortably to 5 stars with the revised 2.0 of the file correcting such!