Step One: Choose Race and Traits
|Starting from the ground, up.|
As far as traits go there are several, solid choices to provide an extra edge. Bloodthirsty (Ultimate Campaign) deals 1 additional point of damage when you reduce an enemy to 0 hit points, or when you confirm a critical hit. In the case of the latter the 1 point is increased by the weapon's critical modifier, which makes it a solid choice for high-crit weapons. Axe to Grind (Ultimate Campaign) provides a +1 trait bonus on damage to enemies who are only threatened by you in melee.
Step Two: Choose Your Class
When it comes to sheer strength two class choices are a cut above the rest; fighters and barbarians. While both can get the job done, it's important for players to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each class and what it offers.
This variant loses armor training and bravery, but gains bonuses to sunder attempts and resistances, as well as the devastating ability of Overhand Chop. This ability, gained at level three, allows a Two-Handed Fighter to make a single melee attack with the attack action or a charge, and to add double his strength modifier to the damage dealt rather than 1 1/2 times when using a two-handed weapon. At level seven this variant gains Backswing, which allows the doubled strength modifier to be added to all attacks made as part of a full-attack action.
|Nuff' Said 2.0|
For those who want to split their foes from crown to crotch though, the Titan Mauler (Ultimate Combat 30) is the way to go. These barbarians lose out on Uncanny Dodge and Fast Movement, but they gain the ability to wield two-handed weapons in a single hand, as well as the ability to wield over-size weapons at no penalty. These abilities are called Jotungrip and Massive Weapons respectively, and it's the latter that really solidifies this build as a one-hit-wonder. Bigger weapons equal a bigger damage potential, and that's what players are looking for. While you cannot wield a large greatsword, you can wield a large bastard sword just like the iconic barbarian does.
EDIT: Since it seems the fans wanted it, the Titan Mauler now does allow you to wield large-sized two-handed weapons, thanks to changes made in the rules.
The backbone of any brute, the right feats make the difference between a one-shot knock-out, and a dozen rounds of sparring back and forth on the battle mat. The following feat suggestions are chopped into groups.
- Power Attack (Core Rulebook 131)
- Furious Focus (Advanced Player's Guide 161)
The first two feats that any powerhouse should have, Power Attack increases damage by +2 (+3 for a two-handed weapon), and decreases to-hit by -1. Furious Focus negates the negative for the first attack made in a round (the only attack for most characters until level 6). At a BAB of +4 and every +4 thereafter the base damage goes up by +2 (+3 with a two-handed weapon), and the negative tacks on an additional -1. That's +6 at level 4, +9 at level 8, +12 at level 12, etc.
- Vital Strike (Core Rulebook 136)
- Improved Vital Strike (Core Rulebook 128)
- Greater Vital Strike (Core Rulebook 126)
- Devastating Strike (Ultimate Combat 95)
- Furious Finish (Ultimate Combat 102)
- Death or Glory (Ultimate Combat 94)
Despite its name, Vital Strike is not precision damage. It allows players to make a single, standard attack action, and to roll all of their weapon dice multiple times based on the how many attacks the character has as part of a full attack action. So that's double the weapon dice at +6 BAB, and triple the weapon dice at +11 BAB. Devastating Strike adds an additional +2 per die of weapon damage to a Vital Strike attack, up to a bonus of +6.
Furious Finish allows a character with Rage to make a maximized Vital Strike attack. This drops the character out of Rage, and leaves him or her fatigued. Lastly, Death or Glory allows a character to make a single melee attack against a large or larger opponent at big bonuses, but the trade off is that the enemy gets an attack on the character at the same bonuses immediately after.
- Raging Brutality (Ultimate Combat 114)
- Weapon Focus (Core Rulebook 136)
- Weapon Specialization (Core Rulebook 137)
- Greater Weapon Focus (Core Rulebook 126)
- Greater Weapon Specialization (Core Rulebook 126)
Raging Brutality allows a character who is currently raging to expend 3 rounds of Rage as a swift action to add his or her constitution modifier to the damage dealt to all enemies struck in that round. Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization are the traditional feats for fighters, and they add a +2 to hit and a +1 to damage respectively. The greater versions simply offer the same bonuses, which stack.
|Don't get even. Get Mad. Really, really mad.|
- Powerful Blow (Core Rulebook)
- Bleeding Blow (Ultimate Combat)
- Crippling Blow (Ultimate Combat)
When it comes to dealing straight damage to all enemies, the Powerful Blow tree is a barbarian's best friend. A single blow during combat receives a bonus of +1 damage. It goes up the more levels of barbarian a character has achieved. Bleeding Blow allows this bonus damage to be converted into bleed damage, and Crippling Blow allows this bonus damage to be dealt to an opponent's strength or dexterity scores. Other rage powers can deal damage to specific creature types, or give the barbarian other kinds of attacks, but for straight damage Powerful Blow is the way to go.
|Sometimes a short sword just won't do.|
A large greatax, greatsword, greatclub, or great-whatever will deal 3d6 damage. Sadly they're too big for you to use, no matter what rules you've got. If someone makes you bigger though, then your weapon gets bigger. Also you can wield a large sized bastard sword in two hands, and characters take a relatively small negative (-2) for wielding inappropriately sized weapons (which is negated if a player has the Titan Mauler's Massive Weapons ability).
When all is said and done, a one-hit-wonder is made up of a lot of little numbers from a dozen different sources. Every build has its flaws though, and players need to keep them in mind if they're going to prepare for any situation a game might through their way. When it comes to preparation, players can never go wrong with alchemical items (this list provides some of the best of the basics).
One-hit-wonders are melee combatants, which means they can't chase down flying creatures, or deal a lot of damage at range. These brawlers also tend to be fairly vulnerable due to a lack of shield. They have no protections against magic, and when it comes to hordes the one-hit-wonders might find themselves overwhelmed. The above suggestions are meant to create characters who go toe-to-toe with a single opponent, nothing more and nothing less.
Lastly, while multiclassing is an option, I would personally recommend against it for this build. Pick a barbarian or a fighter, but don't try to slap them together. Rage Powers' effectiveness are based on a barbarian's level, and combining a rager with fighters, alchemists, and even rangers may have short-term bonuses, but multiclassing can sap the effectiveness of these abilities in the long term. Fighters also gain the most benefits from taking a straight class, as weapon training bonuses, as well as higher level feats like Greater Weapon Focus and Greater Weapon Specialization only become available to those who dedicate themselves to the disciplined art of steel.
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