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D&D 3E
Those tenacious barbarians 
1st-Jan-2007 09:08 pm
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Input please:

Does a barbarian continue to rage while unconscious (i.e. in negative hit points and dying)?

I think it's pretty apparent how the question is pertinent to a dying barbarian: ours had -7 including his bonus to Constitution from raging, and was very much Dead without that bonus. I ruled that, since losing hit points doesn't intrinsically change anything about your Con score, he was still merely dying (or "Mostly Dead"), got healed in the next round (before his rage ended), and was back in the fight. But I was surprised that I couldn't find anything to specify whether an unconscious barbarian keeps his rage or not; I mean, it turns out to be a life-or-death matter, eh? :P
Comments 
2nd-Jan-2007 04:11 am (UTC)
While I think one could make a strong argument that a barbarian's rage "should" end when he falls unconscious, nothing in the rules says that it does. Since the rules specify other ways in which the rage ends, one would have to assume that the omission is pertinent. Thus, by the rules as written, a raging barbarian who falls unconscious continues to rage for the duration, or until subject to an effect that would specifically end the rage.

Or, you know, dies. ;-)
2nd-Jan-2007 04:35 am (UTC) - I would say;
"rage" is an effect of adrenaline, even if it's a voluntary adrenal rush (instant rage). Since that makes it a chemical effect and not a psychological effect, I'd rule it to remain while unconscious.

Course, nothing says it's an adrenaline rush, but barbarians typically rage in responce to events that I, a mere mortal human, would be having adrenaline rushes in :)

2nd-Jan-2007 10:26 pm (UTC) - Re: I would say;
Although the spell "Calm Emotions" can cancel a rage.
5th-Jan-2007 02:07 am (UTC) - Re: I would say;
I could totally buy "Calm Emotions" working via hormones.
2nd-Jan-2007 01:43 pm (UTC) - My two coppers
Seeing that a Barbarian's rage is not a supernatural or spell-like effect, I'd rule that it ends when the character loses consciousness. That means that at 5th level getting dropped while raging will get you killed. When the Con goes, those hitpoints go with it.
2nd-Jan-2007 03:21 pm (UTC) - Re: My two coppers
Is there precedent for treating Extraordinary Abilities this way? It's certainly not in the the general description given in the SRD.
2nd-Jan-2007 04:31 pm (UTC)
The FAQ agrees with you (a barbarian's rage does not end when he falls unconcious). I'm not sure whether I'd agree with the FAQ, but it does seem pretty cheap that at 5th level, a barbarian can't take any more damage without dying than he could at 1st level. It just seems cheap. Of course, it could just be an incentive for barbarian's to take the Diehard feat.

I'd talk it over with your players, as I don't think it's unbalancing one way or the other. If your barbarian is cool that when he runs out of HP while raging he's totally dead, great. If not, then let his rage continue while he's unconscious.
2nd-Jan-2007 11:43 pm (UTC)
The way we play it is that his rage ends, but those extra hitpoints he gained come off the TOP of his pool- not affecting his current total, you see. Just a house rule- barbarians can't stay angry when unconscious.
3rd-Jan-2007 04:51 am (UTC) - That's the way I play it too...
I don't know of any precedent for Extraordinary abilities, but how can you keep the rage going when you're not conscious? A Fly spell, for example, is a magic effect that remains until dismissed by the spellcaster, so if he's out, the effect remains. If the rage were the effects of a spell (e.g. a third party source has one that does just that called Enough Talk!), then I'd say it keeps going, as the effect is not necessarily under control of the recipient.

As for the extra hit points, they're the effect of the Con increase from the range. If someone were to take Con damage, they lose hit points all together, but the wounds they've taken haven't change -- meaning the way I play, they don't come off the top.

Using rage for last ditch hit points is never a good idea, IMHO.

BTW, highbulp, which FAQ are you talking about. Do you have a link?
3rd-Jan-2007 01:03 pm (UTC) - Re: That's the way I play it too...
"I don't know of any precedent for Extraordinary abilities, but how can you keep the rage going when you're not conscious?"

That's a perfectly reasonable justification if you want to house rule it that way (though I'd probably argue if I ever had to play a barbarian with your group), but it's not RAW.

He probably means this FAQ.
3rd-Jan-2007 02:34 pm (UTC) - I'm curious...
... what would your argument be to support the opposite (i.e. the rage continues)? And forgive my ignorance, but is RAW short for something?
3rd-Jan-2007 04:13 pm (UTC) - Re: I'm curious...
The argument to support the opposite is there is nothing in the rules that says that a rage doesn't continue, and that it's kind of sucky to be playing a barbarian when that is the case.

RAW = Rules As Written.

And yeah, that was the FAQ I meant.
3rd-Jan-2007 07:04 pm (UTC) - Hmmm...
The "the rules don't say it does/doesn't" is never a valid counterpoint in my mind. If they don't say either way, then it comes to a house ruling. However, the FAQ does indicate otherwise -- that the rage should continue even if the Barbarian loses consciousness.

Not sure if I agree with that, but it makes the rage less of a liability at higher level.

As I said before, a player shouldn't be using rage as a last-ditch attempt to stay alive. It should be used early in the fight or for an extra edge to take advantage of an opportunity (Hey, I got a clear line to the evil wizard! Rage and charge, baby!)

Then again, my ideal berserker is Sven from "Erik the Viking," so take what I say with a grain of salt. :)
4th-Jan-2007 09:34 pm (UTC) - Re: Hmmm...
"a player shouldn't be using rage as a last-ditch attempt to stay alive."

... why not? <_<
5th-Jan-2007 08:17 pm (UTC) - Re: Hmmm...
It's a case of bad timing. Sure, you hit harder and get your hitpoints bumped up, and sure you get an "ape-shit" morale bonus to Will saves...

But you become easier to hit. That -2 to AC might not seem like much, but it adds up, especially if the Barbarian is going up against a Fighter. That -2 to AC can potentially become +2 to damage against him when said Fighter decides to take his Power Attack and "kick it up a notch. Or if said Fighter has Combat Expertise, he can go defensive and count on his superior armor to keep the Berserker tied down. Sure the rage may not go away if the Barbarian drops but what happens if the fight goes a little too long? If a rogue happens to get the flank, that just gets even worse.

More importantly, that raging Barbarian more or less declares himself a big target to your more intelligent/experienced/saavy opponents. Archers and mages don't need to worry about the Strength boost if they have enough range to make a difference.

Of course, this assumes the NPCs fight with some sort of co-ordination and tactics. Mobs may be less effective in that regard. And I imagine I DM a little differently, where I can put the fear of God into a party of 13th level characters with a band of Drow no higher than 10th (and that was the priestess).

If it's a situation where the enemy is down to "last man standing" and is beating the hell out of the Barbarian, then *that* would be viable situation for Rage as a second wind, as the party healer can do his job without fear of interruption.

But for the most part, the rage(and again this is all a matter of opinion) is best used for that initial punch into the enemy line whether it's 10 goblins or one Black Guard. If the enemy doesn't quite know what they're dealing with, then that's all the better for the heroes.
5th-Jan-2007 02:14 am (UTC)
So you play that the Rage Con bonus actually happens as if it were temporary hit points? Fair enough.
5th-Jan-2007 05:19 am (UTC)
it's sort of a "universe looking kindly on the barbarians" thing- if they're alive, the hitpoint reduction takes effect in full, and their current hitpoitns decrease accordingly. If they're unconscious, the rage ends, their hit point pool decreases to normal sizes, but they stay unconscious and dying at whatever they ended up at because of the blow that rendered them such.

Not terribly consistent, but it makes sense to me from a realism standpoint.
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