Blackdirge did a fine job in the past writing the only Chaos Scar adventures that I give two shits about, so I'm eager to see how he handles mechanics.
The Ruthless Reach Barbarian presents an array of evocations that only work with reach weaponry (because, you know, they all have a Requirement line demanding as such). However its not enough to just say, "you need to be packing a polearm," though. Well designed powers will have mechanics that back it up, and most of them do.
I'm just really fucking confused why the article is about polearm barbarians, and we get a picture of some crazy dwarf with a sword. *shrugs*
There are nine powers, including a new at-will called savage reach. Its not a reach attack, and it doesnt increase your reach in some bizarre way. Its more or less a simple evocation that deals base weapon damage in addition to a slide kicker. I find it similar in power to pressing attack, you just dont get to shift and slide instead of pushing. So, its good and also maintains the polearm theme of being able to knock opponents around.
About half the new powers follow this easy-to-remember theme: do something nifty and add in some forced movement. I'm not surprised by this and actually come to expect it for manners of consistency. It allows me to assess the kind of weapon that I want to use on the faith that the exploits, prayers, or whatever will back up my choice. Spears push. Its what they do. Make sure if you are making powers with that in mind that you stick to those tenants kplzthx.
Some however do things a biiit differently but still remind you that you're packing a spear in terms of mechanics. For example, room for carnage is a level 1 encounter attack with an effect that autopushes adjacent creatures and then lets you follow up with an attack. Slashing tornado rage hits every enemy within 2 squares, and also auto-damages enemies within 2 squares whenever you act. That "2 square" range thing? Yeah. That helps. I like that. Still feels like a polearm, just via different rules.
The trio of feats only work when you are using a reach weapon (obviously), and are really badass. One makes all your attacks brutal while raging, while the other two let you deal bonus damage against creatures at least 2 squares away when you use either rage strike or Rampage.
Well done. Fits a narrow niche, but at least does it extremely well. Unfortunately while I enjoy barbarians I dont particularly care for spears/polearms for aesthetic reasons. I think that he should do an article that makes warlord/infernal pact warlocks much more enticing. >_>