Barbarian Character Ideas and Hooks

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In this article, we will look at some Barbarian character ideas and hooks…

  1. Discuss the character building process for creating a barbarian character.
  2. Look at some of the things that work well for barbarian characters.
  3. Look at the things that don’t work well for barbarian characters.
  4. Discuss some of the hooks that can make your barbarian character more interesting to the DM.
  5. Discuss possible campaign ideas for barbarian characters.

Barbarian Character Building Process

Before you build your Barbarian character, you need to ask yourself this question:

What is the purpose of my barbarian?

Is he a standard warrior? Is he a barbarian outcast? The answer to this question will decide the rest of the character building process.

If your barbarian is a outcast, then you might want to consider some of the following questions:

  1. Why is he an outcast?
  2. Who is he? What is his backstory?
  3. What is his goal in life?
  4. What is going to make him stand out from the traditional barbarian? (ie not Conan!)
  5. Why does he want to adventure? What is he hoping to gain?
  6. What does he like to do when he isn’t fighting?
  7. What motivates him?
  8. What are his personality traits?

If your barbarian is too much of a standard warrior, then you might want to consider some of the following questions:

  1. What is his racial background?
  2. What is his standard weapon?
  3. Does he have any special fighting abilities?
  4. Does he have any special personality traits?
  5. Does he have any special abilities (like Conan’s hyper senses)?
  6. What are his motivations?
  7. What is the source of his hatred of society?
  8. Is he an evil Barbarian?
  9. What is his relationship with Barbarians that are considered to be traditional? (ie Conan)
  10. What is his goal in life?
  11. What is his background?
  12. How does he feel about his reputation?
  13. How does he deal with people?
  14. What kind of people does he like?
  15. What kind of people does he dislike?

These questions should help you to create an interesting, well defined character.

What Works Well for a Barbarian Character?

The answer to this question is fairly simple. If you want to create a Barbarian character that is not a copy of Conan, then you need to be creative. I consider Barbarian to be a fairly broad class.

You can do just about anything that you want to do with this class. Your creativity is the limit. I am going to list some of the things that work well for barbarian characters.

  1. A barbarian outcast, on a quest for vengeance and redemption.
  2. A barbarian outcast, on a quest to find and destroy some evil artifact.
  3. A barbarian outcast, on a quest to destroy a Demon Lord.
  4. An evil Barbarian, on a quest to serve some evil deity.
  5. A Barbarian that has some kind of attachment or loyalty that he cannot break (ie a pet or a friend).
  6. A barbarian that is on some kind of revenge quest.
  7. A barbarian that was exiled from his tribe.
  8. An intelligent barbarian (this is not what you might think).
  9. A barbarian that has some kind of unique fighting style.
  10. A barbarian that has some kind of special knowledge that he uses to his advantage.
  11. A barbarian that has some kind of special ability (like Conan’s hyper senses).
  12. A barbarian that has some kind of unique quality (ie Half Orc, Half Human).
  13. A barbarian that has some kind of unique appearance (ie six arms or no eyes or no tongue).
  14. A barbarian that has some kind of intimate knowledge of the wilderness.
  15. A barbarian that has some kind of animal companion.
  16. A barbarian that has some kind of magical powers.

What Doesn’t Work Well for a Barbarian Character

Next, we are going to look at some of the things that don’t work well for Barbarian characters.

  1. A barbarian that has no motivations.
  2. A barbarian that has no unique qualities.
  3. A barbarian that has no unique personality traits.
  4. A barbarian that has no unique abilities or fighting style.
  5. A barbarian that is too much of a standard warrior.

And so on. Basically, you want to try to be as not-typical as you can while still maintaining the flavor of a barbarian archetype.

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10 Good Barbarian Character Hooks

To keep it positive, let’s take a look at some great barbarian character hooks you can use for your background story. I am going to list a few of them.

1) Your tribe was attacked by a powerful enemy.

You were the only survivor. You wandered in a daze until you found a small village in a nearby valley. There, you were taken in and raised by a man named Torgrin.

He taught you how to speak and how to read and write. He taught you how to fight and how to treat people with respect. He taught you to be a man. But, the life of a farmer was not for you.

You left the village and took to the road. You made your way to a major city where you eked out a meager living using your fighting skills. One day, while you were taking a walk in the local park, you saw a beautiful lady and went over to introduce yourself.

Before you knew it, you were arrested and thrown into prison. You managed to escape and return to the village to find it completely destroyed. Torgrin was lying in a pool of blood. The enemy had come back and slaughtered everyone. You were able to get your hands on a map of the enemy’s base from a guard. You decided to use your skills to get revenge.

2) You were a member of a nomadic tribe of Barbarians.

They were traveling across the Wastelands when a group of enemy warriors attacked them. You were wounded and left for dead. You were found by a group of pilgrims that were traveling to a nearby city for a religious festival.

They took care of you until you were well. You decided to join them. On the way, you learned a great deal about the world and the people in it. You learned to speak. You learned to read and write. You discovered a love for books.

One day, while you were reading a book in the city library, you were attacked by a group of thugs. One of the thugs knocked the book from your hands and it fell to the floor and broke.

You picked up a piece of the book and killed the thug with it. You were arrested and thrown into prison. You managed to escape and decided to track down the thugs and kill them.

3) The day you were born, there was a solar eclipse.

The wise men of your tribe predicted that you would be a great warrior. They trained you from the day that you could walk. You took to fighting like a fish takes to water. You grew into a young warrior.

One day, just before you turned 10, a force of enemy warriors attacked your tribe. You lost everyone that you loved. You swore revenge. You wandered the land as a warrior seeking vengeance for your tribe.

Eventually, you found a group of warriors that were willing to follow you against the enemy. You learned to lead. You learned to fight. You learned to be a man.

4) You grew up in a small village.

The people took you in and raised you as one of their own. They taught you how to fight and how to treat people with respect. But, you weren’t like everyone else. You were different. You used different weapons and you trained differently. Your style of fighting was not like the other warriors of the tribe. You could never be like them. You always felt like an outcast.

One day, you and a group of warriors went to battle with a group of enemy warriors. The enemy were no match for the warriors. Everyone but you survived the battle. The tribe disbanded and you decided to travel the world. You decided to find others like yourself. Maybe then, you would not feel like an outcast.

5) You grew up isolated from the world.

Your parents raised you to be a man. You were isolated from everyone, including other children. When you brought a friend home from the outside world, your parents were angry. They chased you from the house and told you never to come back.

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You saved your friend from a group of orcs and a group of goblins. You killed them all. You found a small group of adventurers and joined them. You learned to fight. You learned to lead. You learned to speak. You learned to read and write. You learned to protect people.

6) You were a member of a nomadic tribe of Barbarians.

One day, as you were passing through a lush forest, a group of enemy warriors attacked you. Many of your tribe were killed. You were able to lead a small group of survivors to a nearby village. They took you in and cared for you.

They taught you how to speak and how to read and write. They taught you how to farm. They taught you how to be a man. But, the life of a farmer was not for you. You joined a mercenary company. You fought for gold and glory. Your fighting skills were legendary.

One day, you were bathing in a nearby river when you realized you were being attacked by an enemy force. They had chanced upon your camp. You managed to kill the attackers and managed to get your sword back. You decided to go back to the village and take your revenge.

7) You grew up in a small village. You had a very happy childhood.

You were always laughing. It was one of the things that helped bring joy to everyone’s life. But, life was not always easy. One day, while walking in the woods with your friend, you were attacked by a group of goblins. Your friend was killed. You were just a boy. You were never trained to fight. You fought for your life. You fought until the last goblin died.

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You returned to your village to find it burned to the ground. Everyone dead. You swore revenge. You went to an academy to learn how to fight. You took to fighting like a fish takes to water. You grew into a young warrior. One day, while walking in the woods, you stumbled upon a group of thieves. They attacked you. But, you fought for your life.

You ended up killing them. You decided that if you wanted to survive, you would have to fight for your rights. You decided to go to the next town to take your revenge.

8) Life was hard. You lived in a small village with your parents and your grandparents.

You carried the family load as the only child. You worked hard to help provide for your family. Your father is a warrior and your grandmother is a shaman. You learned the craft of the shaman as well as the craft of the warrior. One day, when raiding a nearby village for food and supplies, you saw a young lady that was in desperate need of help. You rescued her and brought her back to your village. You and the young lady fell in love and were married that same day. You and your wife were very happy together. But, all was not well in your village. A strange disease had plagued the village. People were dying. One by one. Your wife became ill and died. You became enraged and left your village for adventure, never returning.

9) You were a Man’s Man. That’s all you wanted in life.

You spent most of your young life in Barbarian training. You trained hard and became a master at the craft. But, it wasn’t enough for you. You wanted more. You decided to travel to a nearby city and learn more about magic. You studied long and hard. You learned all there was to learn. You became a master of both magic and your craft. You became a great warrior and a great magician. One day, while you were learning a new spell, one of your apprentices made a mistake and caused a great explosion that destroyed the city and killed everyone. You and a small group of survivors escaped and were captured and thrown into prison. You escaped and decided to seek revenge.

10) Your father was a prophet of a great Warrior God.

He predicted that you would do great things. He predicted you would have many great adventures in your life time. One day, while you were watching your father in a ritualistic ceremony, your father was struck in the head by a drunk in the crowd. You were thrown into prison. You managed to escape. The legend of the prophecy was well known. The prophecy said that the warrior that would fulfill the prophecy would be born on a day of a solar eclipse. You found the band of warriors that were approaching the city and started a fight with them. You defeated them and declared that you were the one that fulfilled the prophecy. You took over the band and started traveling the world, seeking adventure and fulfilling the prophecy.

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Campaign ideas for Barbarian Characters

I hope this article has helped you to create interesting Barbarian Character ideas. Keep in mind that the campaign ideas I posted above are only examples of what you might do with your Barbarian Character. I am sure you can think of many more. That’s the beauty of Dungeons & Dragons.

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