I had hoped that allowing any race to freely multi-class with Barbarian would encourage hearty PCs (see the "Classes" section of this post link). However, it pushed players to take a level of Barbarian at first level, whether they really wanted it or not. Besides perhaps ending up with a party solely composed of Barbarians (which seems bad-ass to me, actually), it also meant that if a player took Barbarian at first level simply to have a beefy hit point base (mmm… beefy), he’d miss out on the initial first level perks of the actual desired class (e.g., Wizard, Rogue, etc.). On the other hand, if he didn’t take the Barbarian class at first level, the rule sort of punished him by not giving him that nice 12 hit point base.
This didn’t occur to me until a player voiced his frustration after a TPK. So I created “The Blood of the Einherjar” rule. Unfortunately, player interest was completely nil at that point (can’t say I blame them), so this rule was never really enacted or tested because the campaign had dissolved.
The Blood of the Einherjar
The Einherjar are the heroes who have died with great bravery on the battle fields and have been taken by the Valkyries to Valhalla. When Valhalla emptied to purge Garhelm of the Demons and Devils, Odin and Thor led the Einherjar into battle. Some of these warriors found companionship with the natives of Garhelm during this time. Although the Einherjar departed once Garhelm was cleansed, their children remain. These lucky few have the blood of the Einherjar flowing through their veins. These fortunate ones are destined for great deeds. They are the heroes of the Third Age.
What does this mean in game terms? This means that any PC, whether he knows it or not, has the blood of the Einherjar coursing through him. As such, he is born for battle. All PCs, in effect, start off at 2nd level, but in a particular fashion. Every PC begins with a complimentary Barbarian level to implement as he wishes. In practice this means you can use the Barbarian level as your first level or as your second. This will mainly be determined by what you actually want to play. If you plan to play a Wizard, you would most likely take your first level in Wizard to make the most of the skill points and such, and then add on the Barbarian level afterwards. However, regardless of which class is technically your first class, you will start with 12 HP + Con bonus. For example, if you decide to play a Wizard, you will begin with 12 HP + Con bonus + 1d4 HP + Con bonus. The second HD will be rolled as normal (i.e., with the DM present). [As cool as I think it would be to have an entire party with the Rage ability, if I revive Garhelm, I will give the players the option of selecting a level of Fighter or Barbarian (and they’d get the standard Fighter 10 HP + Con bonus instead of the Barbarian's 12 HP + Con bonus to start). This fits the theme and purpose just as well and gives a bit more variety to the concept.]