5e: Barbarian Ookie Mode

When I was a wee lad playing D&D with my middle and high school friends, we had a term for a thing the dual-wielding fighter/mage would do. We called it “ookie mode,” where he put a huge string of buffs on himself and then just buzzsawed his way through the enemies with his two magic longswords.

We were young. Powergaming was a thing.

Cut to today, several editions later.

A guy on the 5e D&D page has apparently posted a couple times about his character (let’s call him Ookie, for reasons that will become obvious), a mid-level barbarian 5 (berserker)/fighter 5 (champion) who regularly gets 6 attacks a round.

I assume Ookie looks a little like this.

This he does, apparently, through getting the extra attack ability twice plus action surge plus frenzy plus haste (from a ring of spell storing).
Some clarifications:
* Extra attack (barbarian 5 PHB49 or fighter 5) means that he will attack twice whenever he takes the Attack action.
* Rage (barbarian 1 PHB 48): You go into a rage as a bonus action, and during a rage, you gain numerous benefits, including extra damage, advantage on strength checks and saves, and damage resistances. Rages last 1 minute at most and you can’t cast or concentrate on spells during a rage. A 5th level barbarian can rage 3 times a day, needing an extended rest to replenish his rage. A rage ends voluntarily (as a bonus action) or if you end your round without having 1) attacked a hostile target or 2) taken damage since your previous turn.
* Frenzy (berserker 3 PHB49) means that Ookie can make a single weapon attack as a bonus action once on each of his turns (not the Attack action, mind you). Note that a creature can only take one bonus action per turn. Important note: if you frenzy as part of your rage, you gain a level of exhaustion after coming out of the rage.
* Action surge (fighter 2) allows Ookie to take an additional action on his turn (it is not an action itself to activate it). He can only use Action Surge once between short or long rests.
* Haste (PHB 250) gives Ookie dexterity, speed, and AC benefits and allows him to take an additional action on his turn that must be a weapon attack or a dash, hide, etc. It will require an action to activate this effect, but after that it lasts for up to 1 minute. And let’s not forget that the spell requires concentration to keep going. That’s important. (And another example of how the concentration rules muck up buff spells.) Also of critical import is what happens when haste ends: a wave of lethargy hits you and you can neither act nor move for a round.

* Ring of Spell-storing (DMG) stores a spell in it, which you can activate just as though you had cast the spell yourself.
So here’s how this would go down, as I see it.
Round 1 (Fight!): Ookie uses a standard action to cast haste on himself from the ring, then uses a bonus action to go into a rage/frenzy. If he has a friendly wizard to cast haste on him, then he has a standard action he can use to charge into combat or attack (twice, thanks to extra attack). Number of attacks this round: 0-2 (if there’s a friendly wizard)

Round 2 (Fight!): Ookie is now hasted and raging. He takes the Attack Action, which allows him to attack 2 times (1 standard attack, 1 extra attack). He also gets a bonus action to attack from Frenzy and a free attack from haste. He then uses Action Surge, giving him an additional action, which he uses to attack 2 times (1 standard, 1 extra). At the end of the round, he cannot concentrate to maintain the Haste effect, because 1) barbarians can’t concentrate on spells while raging, and even if they could, 2) odds are he’s taken some hits, which require concentration checks. Thus, the Hast effect ends, and a wave of lethargy sweeps over him.. Rage has lasted 1 round, will last nine more. Number of attacks this round: 6. (FTW!)
(You may have spotted a problem with how I describe haste working. More on that in a bit. Just roll with it for now.)
Round 3 (Haste ended last turn): Ookie cannot move or take actions this round. Since he can’t attack any hostile targets this round, that means his rage will end unless he takes damage (from an enemy or an ally, doesn’t matter–he just needs to take the damage). Number of attacks this round: 0 (wah-wah). Assuming it’s still going, rage will last 8 more rounds.
Round 4: If the rage ended last turn, Ookie gains a level of exhaustion but can still fight. He can take a standard attack action, attacking twice this round. If he was lucky enough to take damage and the rage is still going, Ookie can still make an attack as a bonus action. Number of attacks this round: 2-3.
The battle continues like this until round 11, at which point the rage ends if it’s still going, Ookie gains a level of exhaustion. He could in theory rage again

Cut back to round 3:

Assuming Ookie set this up so that he didn’t have to concentrate on the haste (he has a wizard friend or the DM is ignoring the concentration rules), that means the haste didn’t end in round 2 and knock him out of commission in round 3. Thus:
Round 3 (Haste hasn’t ended): Ookie is still hasted. Ookie takes the attack action to attack twice (Extra attack), and uses his bonus action to make a weapon attack (Frenzy). Rage has lasted 2 rounds, will last 8 more. Number of attacks this round: 4.
Rounds 4-11 are the same, number of attacks 3-4, depending on whether haste goes.
Round 12: Haste ends at the end of round 11, knocking Ookie out of commission in round 12. He also gains a level of exhaustion when his frenzy ends. On subsequent rounds, he can make the standard 2 attacks, or he can throw himself back into a frenzy to get 3. Maybe he even has another haste effect to pop. He cannot, however, use another action surge until he completes at least a short rest.

Or Ookie could be a woman. Who knows, really?

* Note that a lot of this relies on an extremely generous interpretation of the concentration mechanic. RAW, concentration spells end the instant you stop concentrating on them, which means that haste would have ended not on the second round, but as soon as Ookie started raging in round 1, meaning that he’d be out of commission in round 2.
I’m a just my own house rule that concentration spells finish out a round from when you break concentration. I was being very generous.
If your DM interprets concentration strictly, there is no reason for a barbarian to cast haste on himself and then rage, because that instantly dispels the haste and knocks him senseless for a round.
It’s got to be from a third party caster.

So what’s the conclusion?
Yes, in theory, *at best* Ookie could go nova and get 6 attacks in one round, and 4 in the other rounds within his one minute rage. He wouldn’t even have to be level 10 to do it–just barbarian 5 (berserker) / fighter 2. That’s right. A 7th level character could attack six times in a round! Assuming he has a spell caster of comparable level backing him up–a spell caster willing to concentrate on maintaining Haste.
However, and this is important: he would only get six attacks in a round ONCE per rage (the round he uses action surge), and he could only rage 3 times per day at his level. He only gets action surge back when he takes a short rest (about an hour long rest), so he can’t do it twice in quick succession.

Not to mention that after he rages three times in a row and thus gains 3 levels of exhaustion, he will have disadvantage on all ability checks (level 1 exhaustion), his speed halved (level 2), and disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws (level 3).

In addition, every time is Wizard friend slaps that haste on him, the consequence of that spell is that it paralyzes him when it wears off (no move or action for 1 round), potentially leaving him very vulnerable. If he cast it on himself, it’s almost certain to end at a perilous moment, and having a friendly caster place it on him is a dicey proposition.

So Ookie Mode *is* possible, but it’s costly and difficult to set up.
And honestly, don’t bother with the haste. Odds are you’ll get in the same number of attacks *or more* if you just frenzy.
Not hasting:
Round 1: 2 attacks (rage kicks in for next round)
Round 2: 5 attacks (with action surge)
Round 3: 3 attacks (no paralysis)
Round 4: 3 attacks, etc.
Total: 13 attacks in 4 rounds
With haste that only lasts 1 round:
Round 1: 0 attacks (rage and haste kick in next round)
Round 2: 6 attacks (with action surge)
Round 3: 0 attacks (paralysis) and rage has a good chance of ending
Round 4: 2-3 attacks + exhaustion (if rage ended)
Total: 8-9 attacks in 4 rounds
With haste someone else casts on you (and they maintain it for the full duration):
Round 1: 2 attacks (rage and haste kick in next round)
Round 2: 6 attacks (with action surge)
Round 3: 4 attacks
Round 4: 4 attacks
Total: 16 attacks in 4 rounds

Is the World of Ruin epic fantasy?

From The Toast

There’s this quiz going around, and I thought I’d apply it to the books….

1. The Elders would like a word with you. – No “elders” in the World of Ruin. Circle of High Druids, yes, but they prefer actions to words. #MaskoftheBloodQueen

2. The Ritual is about to begin. – If you mean ritual combat, then yes.

3. Something that has not happened in a thousand years is happening. – Doom happens in the World of Ruin on the order of every 5 or 10 years, actually.

4. You are going to the City. There is only one City, etc. – There’s only one civilized mage-city left, yes, but everyone calls it Tar Vangr, or the City of Steel, or the Winter City.

Also, put a shirt on, it’s cold outside. 🙂

5. Certain members of the Council are displeased with your family’s recent actions. – Most of my heroes are orphans. They make their own family.

6. A bard is providing occasional comic relief. No one hired or invited him. – Comic relief? In the World of Ruin? Yes, but no bards.

7. The High Priest is not to be trusted. – No priests to speak of. The Gods died or fled long ago.

8. Someone is eating an apple mockingly. – Have to remember to put this in book 4.
9. There is one body of water. It is called the Sea. The Great Sea, if you are feeling fancy. – The Grey Sea, but yes, this one.

10. You live in a region with no major exports, no centralized government, no banking system, a mysteriously maintained network of roads, and little to no job training for anyone who is not a farmer. – Nope, most of those places in the World of Ruin have been trampled by barbarians.

11. You have red hair which you wear in a braid. Your father was a simple man, etc. – Ovelia and Garin both have red hair, and either occasionally braids it. Their fathers were anything but simple, however. #LoveTriangle #KingsShield

That’s Ovelia. Her hair looks pretty loose to me.

12. You’re going to have to hurry or you’ll miss the fair. You never miss the fair. – Ah, for happier times, when the mage-cities held fairs.

13. There is trouble at the Citadel. – Well, there’s often trouble at the castles, which tend to explode with some frequency.

14. Your full name has at least one apostrophe in it. – Thankfully I ducked that in this series.

15. It is the first page and you are already late for something. – Five years late for your own death, Ovelia. Oh and your mother won’t be dead by page 42—she’s been dead for nearly 40 years. You killed her.

16. There are two religions in your entire universe—one Islam, practiced by villains, the other “being a Viking.” – Civilized folk in the World of Ruin may worship lost gods (each city has a patron deity) but usually don’t. Barbarians worship Ruin herself, who has nothing to do with Islam or any other religion. That faith is mostly “bring death to those too weak to resist.”

17. There are new ways in the land that threaten the Old Way. – The Old Way died out when the World of Wonder magically nuked itself. I *wish* we could practice the old way.

18. The real trouble began the day you arrived in court. – Well, that *is* how Shadow of the Winter King ends . . . #regicide

Take me to your leader, that I might KILL HIM.

The Self-Inflicted Tragedy of the Alt-Right

This is such a good piece about the sad, blissful ignorance of the alt-right–and the rude awakening they are having:

On the Milo Bus With the Lost Boys of America’s New Right, by Laurie Penny

As a young man, I thought I understood the world, and I was angry and selfish and self-righteous. I could have been one of these lost boys, but I eventually chose empathy, not hate. I met people with different perspectives and backgrounds than mine, and I respected them as teachers, rather than dismissed them as threats. I chose to grow up.

I cannot help but be saddened by this. Not out of sympathy: these pathetic man-children have chosen their path, whether out of ignorance about the consequences and/or desperation to cling to their unearned privilege. No, I am saddened out of empathy. I feel their desperation and their hurt and their overriding confusion, because I have known these things. But where adults can confront these things and find a way to live with them, the alt-right simply rejects them and refuses to participate, to their downfall and the detriment of us all.

Most of us climb the mountain of adulthood: a perilous, tedious journey, at times easy and relaxing, at times steep and smooth, at times slick and treacherous, at times seemingly impassible. We keep at it, working to find alternative routes, and we reach down to help those who are struggling to climb below us. Some people have better equipment with which to make the climb, or an easier route laid out before them.

By contrast, the alt-righters jump right off the cliff the second it becomes even remotely challenging. They think someone saying something even remotely negative must be a true test, because they have never faced anything like real persecution or oppression. They never even get to the hard stuff, and thus they forgo the added strength and stamina that comes with challenge, much less the rewards of having conquered the mountain. They stand there at the base of the mountain screaming invectives up at us, because they don’t have the self-respect to try and climb.

They entertain fantasies about what life will give to them, but they don’t have the skills or interest needed to work for such things. They stand for nothing and have nothing. They have chosen lives that mean nothing.

These awful people are damaging themselves and damaging our country. I can see the shared parts of the path we walked, and thankfully, where we diverged, I chose the right path, while they took the alt-right path: perhaps less traveled by, but for a reason. Because it goes nowhere good.

Their chosen path way leads not to freedom (from consequences, from responsibility, from aging), but to oppression (of the less powerful, of everyone, and ultimately of themselves).

They are lost, and if they are fortunate enough to have the skills needed to find their way, they don’t bother looking. Instead, they just languish in their ignorance, expecting the mountain to bow down for them, so they don’t have to exert themselves in the climb.

That isn’t how life works, and by the time they learn that, it will likely be too late.

The REAL White Wolf

Minor Witcher 3 spoilers:

So I’m early on in playing the Witcher 3 (great game, etc), and I’m doing this quest called “Precious Cargo.”

In White Orchard, Gerald runs into this “merchant” with a bow who claims monsters spooked his horse, which ran off the road into the swamp. He’d like it ever so much if I found a strongbox on the lost cart and returned it to me. And he’ll reward me.Fine, it’s what I do.

Head into the swamp, kill some drowners, did the cart and a dead horse. Only I *also* find a dead cart driver with an arrow through his neck. I grab the strongbox (covered in human blood) and head back to the bowman, er, merchant.

I tell him he’s a terrible liar, and clearly he killed the cart driver himself, and he tries the whole “look oh behind you” trick, complete with shifty eyes. Geralt being Geralt, I don’t bat an eye but instead cross my arms and say “there’s nothing behind me. I’m a Witcher. I’d have heard it. Just like I can hear your heart pounding. Like a liar’s.” He runs off, and it’s set for a kind of cool horse chase scene.

Only here’s the thing: when the cut scene is over, I’m suddenly being attacked by a pack of wolves! They’ve surrounded me, and by the time I cut them down, the bowman has made good his escape.

Well, that's just great.

Well, that’s just great.

So maybe those Witcher senses aren’t all they’re cut out to be, because apparently there WAS something behind me.


Was that archer the REAL White Wolf?


Forgotten Realms: Modern

One of these days, I intend to run a Forgotten Realms: Modern campaign, which is set in 2010s DR, more than five hundred years after all the events of the setting we’ve seen thus far.

Nations like Cormyr, Thay, Luruar, and the Sword Coast States exist in a constant detente–a delicate balance of power, much like our own world and the FR we all know and love.

Magic mostly exists these days as fuel for transit and basic life support (heating homes, growing food, etc., like how we use oil in our modern world). There are plenty of people who claim to be wizards, but most “magic” wielded by people comes in the form of limited use items or sleight of hand. Most adventurers are martial types, though there are still monastic traditions.

The gods are by-and-large absent, outside of some odd cults that believe in ancient stories. There are several world religions, which all worship a female divine figure who has various names, but she tends to be pretty similar in the various religions.

The folk have, by and large, forgotten the realms of wonder . . . until a young woman with raven hair manifests silver-white fire from her hands, and magic returns to the Realms.

You in?

Rise to This – Jan 2017

So we’re less than 12 hours from the inauguration of the worst president in American history, and here’s the thing.

It’s not about him. I don’t hate Trump. I pity him. Same for those who support him–and particularly those he will pay back with pain and suffering. Yes, all 60 million of you. But don’t take my word for it. You’ll see soon enough.
And the only people in government who will be fighting to help you? The democrats–assuming they get their act together.

A lot of people out there saying “you’re just whining because we won, liberals!” But the fact of the matter is, there is no “we.” Trump won by suckering you, and if you aren’t one of his cronies or a millionaire, you lost. And again, you’ll see what I mean.

(You voted against your own children. That, I’ll never understand. Sigh.)

I’m neither whining nor liberal. This is the man our screwed up electoral system picked. Despite his many cries of it being rigged against him, the system elected him. It shouldn’t have, but it is what it is.

It’s not about Trump. 

It’s about us.

Now is the time to rise up and protect ourselves and those less fortunate than ourselves. Trump is coming for our rights, our economy, our non-white, non-male, non-rich, non-straight, disabled, and/or minority neighbors. If we can protect them, we have the responsibility to do so. Not just the ability or privilege, but the responsibility.

Because with power comes responsibility.

We have a duty to rise to this.

The world sucks sometimes, and that’s when we need to rise to the challenge. 

And for those who listen but don’t hear me–because you think it’s ok, or Trump will help you, or that you won something–well, you’ll see soon enough. And when you’re ready to join us in resisting this tyrant con man and his posse of thieves and rapists, then you will be welcome.

And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’ll all work out for the best and my fears are entirely unfounded, despite everything Trump has said and done throughout his life. And really, I hope I am. But until I’m proved wrong, I will stand vigilant and I will protect my rights and those of my neighbors. Because I’m an American and that’s what Americans do.

To all, stand up, keep moving, protect yourself and your rights. Don’t give up.

Rise to this.

Existential Morality: No God Required

A little bit of religious philosophy for your Monday.

Often, I come across the argument, advanced by theists (i.e. people who believe in one or more divine beings, usually in an American context we’re talking about Christians), that morality is somehow contingent upon the existence of God. Basically, if God doesn’t exist, then there’s no reason to be good–in fact, “good” and “evil” aren’t even real things!

Let’s give this some simple examination.

Theistic Moral Argument:

“God has to exist, because if God doesn’t exist, then we have no standard for morality! It’s all down to individual preference, and what’s to stop people from indulging their base impulses? If someone’s attracted to a child, why wouldn’t they act on those urges? What’s to stop people from murdering each other?”

The logical response:

So let me get this straight: are you saying that if you ever determined that God doesn’t exist, you would become a murdering, raping psychopath?

Because I wouldn’t.

And while that might not be what you’re saying, that’s what the above theistic moral argument entails: that without God, there is no standard of morality.

And that’s just not true.

It’s a logical fallacy called “begging the question” (i.e. assumes as a premise what it’s trying to prove). It assumes that God is the only source of morality in human experience.

And that’s a pretty empty way to look at the universe.

My morality doesn’t require the existence of a divine being to hand it down to me.

So where does non-religious morality come from?

Logic and reason are more than enough to figure out morality, and my morality starts with this:

Do no harm. Ask for consent. Respect others’ autonomy and basic humanity. Do good.

I think we can all agree that these are pretty standard moral principles. Does one really need them printed in a holy book?

How did the Greeks, for instance, establish morality? They’d never heard of the Christian God (predated its very conception, in fact), and their own concept of divinity was hardly morally perfect. They believed in deities that were great and powerful but also venal and fallible.

And yet they had concepts of justice and goodness vs. cowardice and evil.
And how are there good people in the world who don’t believe in God? Or people in the world who DO believe in God but still do evil things?

Thinking that a divine being must be the source of morality–or worse, a *particular* divine being–is a foolishly reductive argument. It’s also dangerous, because if you build no solid moral system for yourself, then when you have a crisis of faith (and we all do), then you will have no guiding principles.

Tying morality to religious doctrine is a recipe for societal ruin.

My Personal Context

And to clarify: I was raised in the United Methodist church and currently identify as a Christian agnostic.

Not because I’m not sure whether God exists, but because it’s ultimately not relevant.

One should live a good life, being good to others and doing right by humanity, whether God exists or not.

One shouldn’t do good things out of the hope of a reward (that’s a hollow, selfish reason to do good) or avoid doing evil things out of fear of punishment (that’s a hollow, selfish reason to avoid doing evil).

One should do good things and avoid doing evil things because it’s the right thing to do, because the world becomes a better place for all when we do good and avoid evil.

What if I’m wrong?

So what if I’m wrong, and there is indeed a god who disapproves of the way I live my life, and I end up condemned to some eternal torment?

Note that this god 1) refused to clarify exactly how to live in accordance with divine will, so as to avoid eternal torment (seriously, there are thousands of options out there—a loving god couldn’t have pointed out the right one, if it was that big a deal?), 2) continued to allow humans to live in constant fear and anxiety about existence, 3) throws people into hell because they didn’t do what they didn’t know to do.

I don’t know about you, but I’d define that god as an evil god—which is pretty far from any reasonable conception I might have—or at least as a vapid, ineffectual deity at best. A bad, alcoholic parent, who inflicts a radically elevated punishment for comparatively small slights you didn’t even realize were bad. Hardly a deity worthy of worship.

And, here’s the thing. I still lived a good life, doing good to people and to the world. If a god is going to condemn me for that—especially after not telling me the right way to do things—then there was no realistic way I could have avoided my fate. If I’m doomed anyway, then at least I did something good and useful with my life.


Further reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_morality