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Several years ago, a friend described to me a character build he had, which he called the "Quantum Barbarian."

His description of the final result was that (paraphrasing, as this was a number of years ago) whenever his Barbarian was raging, his character would stop raging. And yet, whenever his Barbarian was not raging, he would start raging. He never detailed the specifics of the build itself, though.

I was wondering whether such a build could or does actually exist? I am certain this was a D&D 3.5 build, as that was the system he and his gaming group played (IIRC 4e hadn't been released yet). A cursory search of Google for "quantum barbarian" and similar queries didn't turn up much, but it's possible the name was coined by my friend, and goes under another name by others.

There is, of course, the possibility that my friend was using some homebrew rules (feats, etc.), but if the build is possible I'd prefer to see it coming from official published sources. That said, if the build can function with homebrew rules that are widely available (such as http://dandwiki.com for example), that would also be aceptable.

It's also possible my friend and his GM misinterpreted some rule. If that's the case, I doubt it would be easy (or possible) to answer the question, but showcasing a common rule misinterpretation that could lead to such a build would also work.

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Was the point that it was impossible to determine if the character was raging? I'm not certain how that situation could ever occur in 3.5. I believe this question may not be answerable. –  C. Ross Feb 18 at 15:20
1  
@C.Ross, My friend's claim was that the character was simultanesouly raging and not raging, hence the "quantum" name, although a strict rules interpretation may be that the state flipped every turn (assuming the build actually exists) or something similar. I don't feel that the question is unanswerable, although the answer may simply turn out to be "no." –  Brian S Feb 18 at 15:35
    
I remember a comic. The barbarian became extremely calm when raging, thus gaining all the bonuses of Rage in an explainable (!?!) manner. –  Vorac Feb 18 at 16:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It exists

The Quantum Barbarian hinges on the Berserker option (which causes him to start raging below a certain amount of hit points, and stop above that amount) and the Bear Warrior prestige class. Bear warriors turn into bears when they rage, gaining a certain amount of hit points in the process that they lose when the rage ends. As a result, if the berserker dips into their rage threshold within the amount given by Bear Warrior, they get caught in a cycle of rage-start-rage-end that won't end until or unless their HP drops below or above that threshold.

Beserker Strength (PHB2): When HP falls below Barbarian level x5, you enter rage. There is no limit to how many times this can happen. This rage can only end when you fall unconscious, helpless, or receive healing to bring your current HP above the threshold.

Bear Warrior (Complete Warrior Prestige Class): When you rage, you can choose to enter a bear form. This provides some extra bonuses, the important one being a +4/+8 (depending on level) CON bonus.

So:

  1. You fall below the HP threshold, and rage activates.
  2. As a Bear Warrior, rage increases your CON.
  3. This increase in CON raises your HP above the limit, so rage ends.
  4. Rage ending removes the extra CON, lowering your HP below the threshold.
  5. Go To 1.

As mentioned, this wouldn't work by RAW due to the part about rage ending when you get healing to raise you above the limit. A CON increase is not technically healing, so #3 in the above sequence wouldn't happen by RAW. It's also worth noting that Berserker Strength is technically not "Rage" and thus may not qualify for Bear Warrior at all (though your DM may not get fussy over that detail).

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Can you elaborate more in depth or maybe provide some snippets of rules text on the details? –  Mala Feb 18 at 23:30
    
Thanks! Your point on Berserker+Bear Warrior led me to this gitp forum thread, which detailed the "Schrodinger's Bear Warrior" build. From that thread, it looks like this doesn't work under RAW, because the Barbarian has to actually receive healing, not simply increase HP by increasing CON. The thread produced some hilarious scenarios, though! (The thread also posed a situation in which you could have permanent rage at full health.) –  Brian S Feb 18 at 23:41
    
I'd love to expand on my answer but I'm 900 miles away from my Complete Warrior. If someone else would like to edit the relevant information in I'd be very grateful. –  Lord_Gareth Feb 19 at 0:48
    
@Lord_Gareth I added the details for you. Feel free to edit it to your liking when you've got the time. :) –  Tridus Feb 19 at 2:28

You know, it occurs to me that since Berserker Strength (Player's Handbook II, p. 33, by the way) isn't actually "rage or frenzy" as required by Bear Warrior, you'd need another source of Rage or Frenzy to qualify for the class, even though the effect of Bear Form would still trigger when you dropped below.

Brian S is correct, in any case.

"Whenever your current hit point total is below 5 × your barbarian level, your berserker strength automatically activates ... You cannot voluntarily end your berserker strength, although you automatically drop out of it while unconscious, helpless, or (most likely) when you receive healing to bring your current hit points above the threshold."

... means that since the healing is just a recalculation of your HP total (Bear Warrior references the text here), it not end the rage. Humorously, this means that if your new HP is over the total, a healing spell that somehow heals you for zero hit points would turn off your Bear Form and Berserker Strength.

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Welcome to the site! Please take a look at the tour and the help; they're a useful introduction to the site. And once you have 20+ rep, feel free to join the chat! Great point about Berserker's Strength not technically being Rage, that's a definite RAW issue. –  Tridus Feb 19 at 2:33

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