Of course, I respect the wishes of people who want to be the Arnold Schwarzenegger version of Conan. I just don't accept that they should be catered to with their very own special class.
Why? Two reasons.
1. I'm a subsriber to the 'less is more' view of classes set out in the 2nd edition DMG:
Some players want to create a character class for every profession or ability--jesters, witches, vampire hunters, vikings, mountaineers, etc. They forget that these are really roles, not classes.This philosophy was thrown out of the window when WotC took over and D&D turned into an exercise in "builds". (Although oddly enough 1st edition had made a similar error, albeit one with different end results.) But it really is the only way that makes sense to me in order to optimise simplicity and flexibility: a set of core classes (four, or eight at a stretch) on which all adventuring professions are based. You want to be a viking? Okay, you're a fighter from a certain society who likes raping and looting and drinking mead. You want to be a scout? Okay, you're a rogue or ranger who has found employment in an army as a pathfinder. You want to be an alchemist? Okay, you're a wizard who has an unhealthy fascination with lead and mixing potions. You want to be a barbarian like Conan? Okay, you're a fighter from Cimmeria. With big muscles.
What is a viking but a fighter with a certain outlook on life and warfare? A witch is really nothing but a female wizard. A vampire hunter is only a title assumed by a character of any class who is dedicated to the destruction and elimination of those loathsome creatures.
The same is true of assassins. Killing for profit requires no special powers, only a specific reprehensible outlook. Choosing the title does not imply any special powers or abilities. The character just uses his current skills to fulfill a specific, personal set of goals.
Before creating a character class, stop and ask yourself, "Is there already a character class that can fill the niche?"
No fiddling around with silly multi-classsing, no flicking through multitudinous sourcebooks, and best of all, no barbarian class. Everyone's a winner.
2. "Barbarian" isn't a class, anyway. Firstly, "Barbarians" don't exist. They never existed. The term was always laced with racism, like "savage" and "primitive" were, and it's best relegated to the history books where it belongs. "Barbarian" is acceptable as an in game term that characters and NPCs use, but it shouldn't be enshrined in the supposedly neutral core rules of a game. (I don't expect this view to be widely supported, because last time I mentioned it - on an online rpg forum - I ended up generating a wall of angry replies beyond all reckoning and proportion, and was bizarrely accused of being a racist myself. Still, it's a view I hold, and because my PhD topic is at least partly related to it I feel obliged to stand up for it.)
But secondly, and more importantly for our purposes, even if you don't think the term is pejorative, "Barbarian" still isn't a class. It's a term for a society, or a race of people. Even pulpy "barbarians" have their shamans, bards, elders and what not - so where do they fit into the remit of D&D barbarians? Nowhere: a Barbarian is a big muscly guy in a loincloth who likes to hit people with a broadsword. Ridiculous. You might as well have a "city dweller" class (because all city dwellers are the same, with exactly the same abilities, right?) or a "rural" class, or I dunno, a "working class" class. "I'm Dave and I'll be playing Patrick von Rasmussen, a Level 1 Rich Person."
(At some point here a hawk-eyed reader will be thinking, "But noisms, aren't you a big fan of the Rules Cyclopedia and BECMI D&D, which had race-as-class for the demihumans?" Well, yes I am, but that's a different thing; I'm arguing here within the rubric of AD&D, in which there is no such system. Also, race-as-class works in BECMI D&D for a whole host of reasons I can't be bothered going into.)
Indeed, the fact that it did away with the barbarian class would be reason enough alone to prefer 2nd edition AD&D above all others, were it not for the fact that TRS chickened out and reintroduced them in a supplement after its release.
It would also be reason enough alone to prefer fourth edition, were it not for the fact that I don't like a single other thing about it.