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If a barbarian enters a new rage while he is raging do the rages stack on top of each other or would his current rage just be reset? I think the rage would be reset because its closest equivalent wildshape resets rather than stacking when it is used more than once. I believe this to be the case because if wildshape were allowed to stack 20th level druids would indeed have unlimited hp, which is too insane to be accurate. Edit: If the effects of rages do stack would base features like the extra rage damage it applies and subclass features such as a zealot barbarian's fanatical focus also stack?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Can I start a new rage before the previous one ends? \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ Sep 1 at 2:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ How exactly do you suggest to "stack" rage? It gives you Advantage and Resistance, both are not stackable. If you're talking about the bonus to the damage roll specifically, you should mention this. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Sep 1 at 15:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor Stacking rage applies to a zealot barbarian's 6th level Fanatical Focus ability. If stacking is allowed that ability becomes much more powerful at level 20. \$\endgroup\$ – Gerson Lopez Sep 2 at 20:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm going to edit to include this point. \$\endgroup\$ – Gerson Lopez Sep 2 at 20:57
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The effects do not stack

We can read about Combining Game Effects in the DMG errata, expanding DMG page 252:

when two or more game features have the same name, only the effects of one of them—the most potent one—apply while the durations of the effects overlap. [...] Game features include [...] class features

Here, the effects are the same and obviously have the same name. Thus the effects do not stack. However, they do not cancel each other, so both will be active at the same time. Using this the barbarian could effectively extended the duration by raging again, as when the first rage ends, the other will still be going on, granting him the bonuses.

Note that only the damage bonus could even stack, as the other bonuses grant Advantage, Disadvantage or Resistances, which do not stack with themselves, regardless of the feature granting them.

I do not recommend overruling the no stacking rule, as that will be a problem at level 20 and a bit for Zealots. Stacking the damage bonuses indefinitely at level 20 could lead to ridiculous and imbalancing results. It is not as bad for not-20 Zealots, but still an issue I think.

Overall, I do not think this feature was designed with this option in mind and would recommend that DM-s rule that it does not stack. I would even say that ruling that you cannot start raging while already doing so would be quite reasonable and would avoid potential problems.

(Thanks to V2Blast for pointing me to the Errata.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If DM's rule that rages reset when more than one use of the feature is used , a berserker barbarian's frenzy feature would be able to last all day with one use because it sates that it ends when your rage ends. I personally don't think this is broken because your level 20. But I just wanted to let you know where that "it resets" ruling can lead to. \$\endgroup\$ – Gerson Lopez Sep 2 at 21:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GersonLopez I have to admit I did not even consider the type of resetting as I now understand you asked about. Can I ask what your reasoning would be for it? \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Sep 2 at 21:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ My main reason for asking the question was to find a Raw way to buff the berserker barbarian at high levels since most people think the subclass is under powered. This would of happened if the reseting of your rage interpretation was believed to be accurate. Alternatively I wanted the idea of stacking to be seen as the incorrect interpretation because I originally thought it would make wild-shape overpowered (which I know is not the case now) and to make the zealot barbarian less overpowered since they'd be able to stack their Fanatical focus ability if people agree with stacking. \$\endgroup\$ – Gerson Lopez Sep 2 at 21:38
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Multiple, separate Rages would be happening simultaneously but their effects would not stack

There are a two reasons for this:

  1. The Rage feature never mentions that starting a rage while already raging resets the timer, thus it likely does not do this. This is similar to how casting the same spell on a creature does not reset the spell's duration, instead the castings overlap (and their effects do not stack).

    A specific spell that does allow you to do a sort of resetting effect is animate dead, which states:

    To maintain the control of the creature for another 24 hours, you must cast this spell on the creature again before the current 24-hour period ends. This use of the spell reasserts your control over up to four creatures you have animated with this spell, rather than animating a new one.

  2. Using the Rage feature causes you to "enter a rage" not to continue one, this would mean that you are starting a new rage as you cannot enter something you are already in. Thus you now have multiple Rages at once.

    The rules on overlapping game effects (DMG, p. 252; added in errata) mean that the benefits of having multiple Rages at once are identical to just having a single rage:

    when two or more game features have the same name, only the effects of one of them—the most potent one—apply while the durations of the effects overlap. [...] Game features include [...] class features


Regarding your Wild Shape example - even if stacking Wild Shapes overlapped like rages, there is no way of doing anything like the following:

  1. Start as normal.
  2. Wild Shape into a Wolf.
  3. Wild Shape into a Bear.
  4. Turn back into a Wolf without using Wild Shape again.

The reason this is not possible is because of the wording of the Wild Shape feature:

You can stay in a beast shape for a number of hours equal to half your druid level (rounded down). You then revert to your normal form unless you expend another use of this feature. You can revert to your normal form earlier by using a bonus action on your turn. You automatically revert if you fall unconscious, drop to 0 hit points, or die...

Anything that can cause you to no longer be a Bear (dropping to 0 HP, the timer running out, and ending it early as a bonus action) also causes you to revert to your normal form and so you would completely skip the Wolf Wild Shape even if its duration were still ticking down.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, your 2nd point goes against your main statement. If it is a new rage, it has its own duration, independent of the previous one. Your 1st is also mistaken, as casting overlapping spells does not "cut" the duration of the second one. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Sep 1 at 7:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ No worries :) Though I am still of the opinion that if we take "enter a rage" strictly (as per your 2nd point), the barb should not be able to do it while already raging, making overlapping rages impossible (which would be reasonable, actually). \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Sep 1 at 22:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szega I completely agree, and argued so elsewhere, but this questions seems to want us to assume they can stack: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/154480 \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Sep 2 at 0:47
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Wildshape states ...

You can revert to your normal form earlier by using a bonus action on your turn. You automatically revert if you fall unconscious, drop to 0 hit points, or die.

So by using this as a basis we can assume that you return to your base/normal form from dropping to 0 hit points regardless if you have another wildshape form that's active underneath your current wildshape form. If we use this logic you can't use wildshape as a precedent to suggest that rage is reset rather than stacking more than once based on the idea that the alternative interpretation is broken. In the end the raw way rages work together is by stacking on top of each other because the rules as written do not prevent you from raging again and does not say that raging again would cause your first rage to reset.

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