Today’s Exotic Encounters is a brand new template, designed to bring out the barbarian in just about any creature. The berserk creature template is far more than just a rage in a can, though, and promises to surprise your players and keep combat fresh and exciting.
Berserk creatures are driven by a primal rage and fury, and live with a constant need to inflict violence on others. They look much like other creatures of their kind, although sometimes their berserk nature is given away by bloodshot or maddened eyes.
Creating a Berserk Creature
“Berserk” is an acquired template that can be added to any living creature with an Intelligence score (referred to hereafter as the base creature). A berserk creature uses the base creature’s stats and abilities, except as noted here.
Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature +1.
Armor Class: The creature suffers a –2 penalty to AC.
Defensive Abilities: A berserk creature gains a +4 bonus on saving throws made to resist pain effects. Additionally, it gains an amount of damage reduction equal to 1 per 3 Hit Dice it possesses, which cannot be overcome by any means (similar to a barbarian’s damage reduction).
Speed: The base creature’s speed increases by 10 feet for each of its forms of movement.
Melee: If the base creature does not have any natural attacks, it gains its choice of a bite attack or a slam attack. Either way, this is a primary natural attack, which deals damage based on the berserk creature’s size (see the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary for more information on the appropriate damage amount for these attacks for creatures of various size categories).
Special Attacks: A berserk creature gains several special attacks.
Aggressive Compulsion (Ex): A berserk creature must attack another living creature each round if able, and cannot choose to deal nonlethal damage with any attack it makes. Certain creatures to which the berserk creature is particularly close (such as immediate family, loved ones, or an animal’s trainer), may, at the GM’s discretion, be able to calm the berserk creature. In order to do so, he or she must be within 60 feet of the berserk creature, and must succeed on a Diplomacy check (DC 10 + the berserk creature’s Hit Dice + the berserk creature’s Charisma modifier). Success allows the berserk creature to ignore this restriction for up to 1 hour, but does not in any way prevent the berserk creature from attacking.
Erratic Combatant (Ex): A berserk creature makes wild and unpredictable swings that carry great strength. It suffers a penalty on melee attack rolls equal to 1 + 1 per 4 Hit Dice it possesses, but gains a bonus on damage rolls equal to twice this penalty. This bonus to damage is increased by half (+50%) if the berserk creature is making an attack with a two-handed weapon, a one-handed weapon using two hands, or a primary natural weapon that adds 1-1/2 times its Strength modifier on damage rolls. This bonus to damage is halved (–50%) if the berserk creature is making an attack with an off-hand weapon or secondary natural weapon. The berserk creature counts as possessing the Power Attack feat for the purposes of meeting prerequisites that require it, and if the berserk creature has the Power Attack feat, it can use it in conjunction with this ability (the penalties and bonuses stack).
Strike Back (Ex): The first time each round that the berserk creature is damaged by a melee attack, it can immediately make a single melee attack against the creature that damaged it, using its full base attack bonus. If the triggering attack was part of a full-attack action, the strike back attack is resolved before any further attacks made as part of that action.
Ability Scores: Str +6, Dex +2, Con +4, Int –2 (minimum 1)
Skills: A berserk creature gains a +8 racial modifier on Intimidate checks, but suffers a –4 penalty on all other Intelligence-, Wisdom-, and Charisma-based skills.
Feats: A berserk creature gains Endurance, Diehard, and Toughness as bonus feats.
Many things can lead a creature to become berserk. For intelligent creatures, it is often a response to a particularly painful emotional experience, such as the death of a loved one. Creatures with animal intelligence may become berserk if they are mistreated or abused, or even simply if they have offspring they feel the need to protect. Unlike most templates, the berserk template is often a temporary one, lasting anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on the cause. Of course, certain traumas cause more permanent emotional scarring, and so sometimes, once a creature becomes berserk, it can never be brought back to the way it once was.