DCC RPG Character Class Series Summary

Over the past several weeks The Iron Tavern has been taking a close look at each of the character classes in Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. I primarily did the series with intent of highlighting some of the class features and some of my own thoughts for those on the fence about the game or just curious about the classes it offers. A secondary benefit was to give me a more structured way of taking a look at each character class to improve my judging in DCC RPG games. Overall I am pretty happy with how the series turned out.

Before we completely leave the topic I wanted to bring all the classes together in this one final character class post. This should provide an even easier entry point for those late to the series. I will provide links to the post and a very high-level one or two line summary of the class.

The Warrior

The first class I looked at to kick off the series. Mighty Deed of Arms. This is the mechanic that makes the Warrior a wonderfully fun class while not killing the player’s creativity with an overabundance of feats. Wizards of the Coast is trying to figure this out with combat superiority in 5e and overcomplicating it, but DCC RPG already has it figured it out.

The Thief

The DCC RPG thief is a throwback to an old school thief for the most part. The modified luck mechanic is what sets them apart from the others and having the ability to survive on luck and wits!

The Dwarf

With the return of race is class for demi-humans, the dwarf is quite warrior like. They have the ability to use Might Deed of Arms and they get to use a shield bash from level one! Between Mighty Deed of Arms and Shield bashing I can really emulate that rough and tumble dwarf that is ready to charge headstrong into harm’s way.

The Cleric

Alignment matters again. Don’t make your deity angry. The DCC RPG cleric has a “classic” feel to me with some interesting twists.

The Halfling

Referred to as “rolling balls of death” in one game I ran. Between an excellent modified luck mechanic what party wouldn’t want one in their party?! Throw in dual wielding and “rolling balls of death” don’t seem so far-fetched!

The Wizard

Magic is dangerous. Random tables dictate whether your spell is ultra-powerful or just so-so. This line from the rulebook best sums it up – “Use a torch, fool; it is much safer!”.

The Elf

The DCC RPG elf takes us back to the elves I remember from the Moldvay Basic set being able to both cast and engage in melee. But be careful of the iron!

And that officially concludes my weekly look at DCC RPG character classes. Overall I am quite satisfied with the character classes in Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. Each has something fun to make it its own!


DCC RPG: The Elf

This is the final installment in The Iron Tavern’s weekly series looking at Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG character classes. Each week I have taken a look at one of the classes, some of its highlights and features and provided my own opinion of the class. In previous weeks I have looked at the Warrior, the Thief, the Dwarf, the Cleric, the Halfling, and the Wizard.

This brings us to the final character class to take a look at – the Elf.

The Class

DCC RPG elves are long-lived with lifespans that cross a thousand years. The long-lived elf prefers woodlands and natural terrain. They typically settle away from the shorter-lived races. This long lifespan allows an elf a tremendous amount of time to become proficient with both the ways of magic and martial ability.

Elves are trained in a variety of weapons and include the ability to use longswords, longbows, and even the two-handed sword. Elves are able to wear armor of mithril, though this does affect their spellcasting when doing so.

Elves use a d6 for a hit die putting them towards the lower end on amount of hit points, though more than a Wizard character. Elves tend away from a lawful alignment with neutral or chaotic being more prevalent.

Elves have infravision out to 60’ in DCC RPG and have what many would consider to be the typical elven immunities being immune to sleep and paralysis. They also have increased senses and receive a bonus to finding secret doors and are entitled to a check when simply passing by a secret door even if they are not actively looking.

Elves frequently draw their magic from other creatures and beings. Their longer lifespan can even allow them to become more familiar with a particular patron over the years, an opportunity a wizard may not have. Despite this elves still obtain their spells randomly, though they do receive the invoke patron and patron bond spells in addition to their normal spell slots.

Elves do have an unusual vulnerability. They have an extreme sensitivity to iron. Prolonged contact actually causes a burning sensation to the elf and if continued causes the elf hit point damage each day.

My Impression

I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but once again I like how the mechanics of the DCC RPG elf works out. My first D&D character ever was an elf, an elf named IronWolf. That mere fact alone made be curious as to how race as class for demi-humans would work out. Mixing the martial prowess and the magical art is a strong start.

The blend between martial prowess and the magical art helps reinforce the old school feel I have for an elf from my early days of playing D&D. The tie-in of elves to patrons as a source of power is a distinguishing factor from a human wizard, which I find a nice touch. Whether an elf draws from more natural elements or from more foul beings the mechanic to do so is easily granted to them.

The vulnerability to iron struck me as a little different. I may just not be as well versed in ‘Appendix N’ reading as I should be though. In either case, I think it is important for a judge to make sure to remember this vulnerability in order to help keep the elf from being the ultimate in character class. I think if a judge does not remember to enforce this vulnerability the elf could become somewhat of a dominant class.

I think Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG has once again done well with striking that old school feel for the elf while bringing modern mechanics to the class.

DCC RPG: The Wizard

This article is another in the weekly series in which I have been looking at each of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG character classes. I have looked at the Warrior, the Thief, the Dwarf, the Cleric, and the Halfling in previous weeks.

As we came down to the end of the series I posted a poll to see which classes people wanted to see next. The Halfing just managed to win that poll with the Wizard coming in a close second. This week I will be taking a look at the DCC RPG Wizard.

The Class

Being a Wizard in Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is dangerous. Wizards draw their power from demons or gods, ancient black magics from long forgotten tomes or through deals with the devils or other unearthly beings. While great power and magic can come from these exchanges, it is not without risk.

The wizard in DCC RPG starts with a d4 hit die at first level. They are able to use a handful of weapons, including long or short swords. While they are able to wear armor it does cause a penalty to spellcasting.

Wizards can choose their alignment with black magic tending to be practiced by chaotic wizards and neutral and lawful wizards practicing more with the elements of the world. Enchantments can be used by any of the three alignments.

Magic is an interesting area in DCC RPG as it includes a large amount of randomness. The randomness factor helps reinforce the idea that magic is not always controllable or predictable. The use of magic is not to be taken lightly. A beginning wizard beings with four spells, these spells are chosen randomly at first level.

When a wizard casts a spell, they must make a spellcheck – a d20 roll plus some modifiers that includes the wizard’s caster level. The result of this roll is looked up on a table for the specific spell being cast. The roll will determine whether the casting was successful, whether the spell is retained for use later, and how great (or little) the effect of the spell is.

As noted above, a wizard can draw their sources of magic from many different places, including supernatural patrons. A wizard can bind themselves to a patron and from that point use a spell called invoke patron to seek special aide in times of critical need. A patron may or may not respond to this request and may or may not barter an exchange to grant the aide requested. While this is quite powerful, it is not without its risks. Most of these risks are left to the liberty of the judge to determine.

A wizard can summon a familiar if they so choose by using a spell to do so.  A wizard’s luck modifier applies to rolls of corruption and mercurial magic.

Mercurial magic. This just one way that spells are different and unique depending on the wizard that is casting it. When a new spell is learned by a wizard, they roll on the mercurial effect table to determine how that spell will behave when cast by this specific wizard. There is a table with 100 different effects on the table. These effects can be positive or negative in nature and affect how that spell works each time it is cast.

Image by Steve A Roberts, http://fantasyartdesign.com/

There are some other mechanics in DCC RPG that affect wizards and the way they cast magic. As mentioned earlier, a wizard makes a spell check roll when they cast a spell to determine if the spell is successful or not. If a wizard rolls poorly they might suffer a misfire, corruption, or patron taint. The table with each spell will help determine the result of the roll and whether a misfire, corruption, patron taint, or possibly all three apply.

Misfires are specific to the spell and tend to include unexpected effects of the spell, frequently detrimental to himself or his allies.

Corruption has a rather significant effect on the wizard. There are three tables for corruption that cover minor, major, and greater. Corruption tends to be things that damage the wizard, leads to an altering of their appearance or other such effects. A wonderful graphic in the book illustrates the progression of a wizard over time. The first frame showing a young, handsome man and by the final image a grotesque hunched over monstrosity.

Finally there is the spellburn mechanic. Spellburn allows a wizard to call upon outside sources such as demons, devils, the darkness between the stars and so on to burn ability score points in a one for one exchange in bonus to a spellcheck roll. A wizard can burn points from their Strength, Agility or Stamina ability scores.

My Impression

The wizard class can seem pretty complex at initial look. With pages and pages of spells with tables and charts, mercurial magic, spellburn, corruption, and misfires. As you start to read more about the class and actually play though you learn that you only need to be concerned with the spells your wizard actually knows and a handful of tables which can easily be brought to the table.

Once over the initial hurdle of familiarizing yourself with the basics of a wizard, I think the mechanics do a very good job of reproducing that “Appendix N” feel for the wizard. Magic is random. Magic is not something to be taken lightly. Magic has its price.

One of my favorite lines from the DCC RPG in the Magic section is “Use a torch, fool; it is much safer!” This line helps set the readers expectation as to how magic works in this world. It isn’t used to light your way in dungeons or to light street lamps or for any trivial task. Magic is not to be trifled with.

In d20 games there is always the debate of Vancian magic systems versus some other magic system and how wizards can over power the rest of the party at higher levels. I think the magic system and wizards in DCC RPG have found an interesting way to balance the wizards power, the frequency they can cast spells with the random nature of making magic dangerous as an elegant solution to the wizard’s power. Sure the wizards can obliterate some foe – but at what possible risk to them or to their party?

I am quite satisfied with how a wizard functions in Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. It gives me the old-school feel of the wizard from the strength perspective, the power that we all think of when it comes to a wizard with the randomness of something bad happening when casting to temper that power a bit.

Next Week

Next week I will be bringing the character class series to a close with a look at the Elf. The Elf is the last character class on the list! Be sure to check back next Friday for the final article in this series.

DCC RPG: The Halfling

We are in the home stretch now for my weekly series of looking at each of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG character classes a little closer. The Iron Tavern is down to just the Halfing, the Wizard and the Elf left for further review. In previous weeks we have looked at the Warrior, the Thief, the Dwarf and the Cleric.

This week I put up a poll and let the readers decide which character class to look at this week. It was a close race between the Halfling and the Wizard for most of the polling period. In fact, I had planned to close the poll at 5pm on Wednesday but the two classes were tied! I ended up extending the poll another four hours for last minute voting. The Halfling pulled it off, bringing in 48.15% of the vote!

The Class

The Halfling is a creature of comfort in Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. Typically found in country environments and preferring peace and quiet. Halflings generally seek to avoid interacting with the “tall folk” unless some need drives the need for interaction. They prefer a life of simple crafts – gardening, farming, trinket making and such.

The adventuring Halfling is frequently one that is a trader, necessitating the need for contact with the “tall folk” or a Halfling that has fallen out of graces with his Halfling community. Even then the intrinsic desire for community and family tend to keep their alignments in the Lawful side of things, with the rare case a Neutral alignment. Chaotic Halflings are quite rare, though not necessarily unheard of.

Halflings are of small size ranging in size between two feet and four feet with a smallish hit die of a d6. This small size do get Halflings a bonus on stealth checks allowing them to add a bonus that progresses as their character level increases. Halflings do get infravision, though not to the range a dwarf character has. The movement for a Halfling is at a 20′ rate as well.

One of the class features a Halfling receives in DCC RPG is the ability to wield two weapons effectively regardless of the character’s Agility score. A Halfling is always able to wield two weapons and only suffers a -1 die penalty (i.e. they roll d16 on both attacks instead of a d20). A Halfling is able to fight with two equal-sized weapons, so you can play a dual short sword wielding Halfling if you wish. Another fun perk is that the Halfling only fumbles if both rolls come up 1.

Courtesy deathbstrd at DeviantArt

The Halfling also has an ability known as the ‘Good luck charm’.  Halflings are able to make use of luck in several more ways than a typical DCC RPG character. First, a Halfling receives a bonus of 2 for every point of luck spent as opposed to a one-to-one ratio. Halfling’s also have the ability to recover luck, similar to a Thief. Each night a Halfling can recover luck equal to the Halfling’s level.

And finally, because Halflings are so lucky they can spend luck to aid other party members. The only requirement is that the person the Halfling wishes to aid must be visible and nearby. Only one Halfling per party can act as the luck charm of the party.

My Impression

The interesting portions of the Halfling to me rest mainly in the ability to use two-weapon fighting easily and their ‘good luck charm’ mechanic.

Two-weapon fighting granted as a class ability is quite fun. Granted you have to roll d16’s when attacking with two weapons, but that is not a horrible penalty. For some reason a Halfling fighting with a pair of daggers or short swords just feels right to me. It also gives a small statured Halfling some form of being capable in combat.

The luck mechanic for the Halfling is also a great boon for the class or even any adventuring party that includes a Halfling. One thing to remember is that the decision to expend luck can be made after the initial roll has been made. With a Halfling that can recover luck on a nightly basis, that is fairly significant and greatly improves the Halfling’s odds of survival given their slight stature.

Couple this with their ability to not only spend luck at a 2 for 1 ratio, they can also aid other party members as needed. A Halfling in the party could really affect the survivability of certain encounters if the Halfling party member can spend luck to help boost some of their rolls.

The Halfling in DCC RPG might be underestimated as a character class. I think DCC RPG has done a good job of making the Halfling a viable character race. Between two-weapon fighting and the incredible luck mechanics the Halfling can really help turn the outcome of an encounter in this game.

I think the one thing that could make the Halfling a little better in DCC RPG is to allow them to pick up some basic Thief skills. I do not know why, but when I think Halfling I always tend to think of a small, agile thief type character.

So… How does the Halfling work in actual play? I judged a game with a Halfling and the player seemed to have a great time with the character. The most memorable moment of a game with a Halfling in it was the “rolling ball of Halfling death”. With two-weapons the Halfling chose to roll out past a shield wall and amidst the middle of some attacking rats. While luck did not really come to play that round, it certainly could have and exemplified the possibilities for this character class.

Once again, despite sounding like a broken record, I think Dungeon Crawl Classics has hit the essence of a character class quite well with the Halfling character class. While I do think some thieving type skills might put it a little more on the mark, the class is still fun to play and is certainly in the ballpark as to how I think playing a Halfling should feel.


Next week is Gen Con week. While The Iron Tavern’s Gen Con plans are up in the air, I will likely skip next week in my look at DCC RPG character classes since I suspect a lot of my readers will be at Gen Con. I will continue my look at character classes on Friday, August 24th with a look at the Wizard!

Vote for Friday’s DCC RPG Character Class Review!

There are only three character classes left in The Iron Tavern’s review of Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG character classes. We have looked at the Warrior, the Dwarf, the Thief and most recently the Cleric so far. For this Friday we will look at either the Halfling, the Elf or the Wizard!

Today I am putting up a quick poll for people to choose which class they would like to see The Iron Tavern take a closer look at. Take a moment and vote for which one you would like to see. I have had some mentions of the Halfling or Wizard so far, but we will see how the poll shakes out!

This poll is only running for a little over 24 hours and I will tally the results tomorrow evening (August 8th), sometime after 5pm Eastern time.

DCC RPG: The Cleric

We have reached the fourth installment of my weekly series taking a closer look at the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG character classes. So far I have looked at the Warrior, the Thief, and the Dwarf. This week I opened up voting to readers of the blog, the Google+ community and Twitter as to which character class I would be looking at. I suspected the Wizard would win, but it seems folks want to read about the Cleric! So this week we take a closer look at the Cleric character class.

The Class

The Dungeon Crawl Classics cleric draws his or her power from their god as a reward for their service to their deity. In DCC RPG The Old Ones established Law and Chaos which the gods fall under. The cleric follows his god, seeking to find relics and do battle with enemies of the faith or the beliefs of law or chaos.

A cleric gets a d8 for their hit dice. Their weapon training varies depending on which deity they worship, a chart is included that shows which weapons the followers of a specific deity use. A cleric can wear any type of armor.

The cleric’s deity is chosen at first level. The alignment of the cleric must match that of the deity they select. With three alignments in DCC RPG the cleric can choose to follow the path of Law, Chaos or Neutral. The cleric following the neutral path seeks a path of balance.

Clerics call upon their god for their magic. If the cleric is in good standing with their god and their god hears their request for divine aide and they approve of the request the cleric can cast their spell. Mechanically this is handled through a spell check. Roll a d20, add a couple of modifiers and check the chart that goes with the spell you are casting. A successful spell check means the spell is successful and your god grants you the aide through the spell.

There are some additional rules for cleric magic. A natural 1 on your spell check roll results in disapproval. This results in the spell being cast failing and a roll on a disapproval table. The disapproval table contains various results. These results typically are penalties or penalties until atonement has been achieved.

If a cleric fails their spell check roll, this increases the chance for a disapproval. For example, if a spell check is failed the cleric character now will need to roll on the disapproval table if they roll a 1 or a 2 on the d20 spell check. If they fail another spell check later in the same day then the disapproval chance increases to a 1, 2, or 3 on the d20 and so on and so on. A night’s rest will reset the disapproval chance back to a natural 1 on a d20.

A cleric can offset an increasing disapproval rating through a sacrifice to their deity. A cleric could also see a more rapid increase in their disapproval number if their deity perceived them doing something sinful or against the god’s beliefs.

A cleric also has a Turn unholy ability which is essentially another spell check to turn unholy creatures. There is a rather extensive chart to help adjudicate this check. A cleric can fail this check and increase their disapproval as well.

The cleric also has the ability to lay on hands to provide healing to other party members. The lay on hands mechanic is a bit complex with several variables to it. It requires a spell check to determine how many possible hit dice the cleric can roll to heal. This value is affected by whether you are healing someone of like alignment. If the cleric tries to heal someone to an adjacent alignment then the penalty is not as great. To heal someone of opposed alignment reduces the number of dice rolled further and generates sin for the cleric. Lay on hands also can allow a cleric to heal conditions instead of hit points.

Clerics also have an ability to seek out divine aide. This is aide above and beyond what they can already tap into through their spells and lay on hands ability. This check is made against a DC and imposes a significant penalty on the disapproval rating for future spell checks. Seeking divine aide is not to be taken lightly.

My Impression

As is readily evident by just the length the class description above, there is a lot going on with the DCC RPG cleric. Spells, lay on hands, the importance of alignment and how that affects various things can be a lot to grasp. Most of the class works around a series of spell checks for the various abilities which does help keep things straight. It is just a matter of getting used to what the cleric can do and how alignment may or may not affect certain abilities and keeping the disapproval mechanic in the back of your mind.

I like how alignment matters and has a mechanical aspect. A lawful cleric has an actual penalty for healing a chaotic party member in that the healing is less effective and they will be committing a sin in their god’s eyes. I suspect this will either lead to great roleplaying or we will see a lot of neutral clerics in play.

Another possibly overlooked item that I like about the cleric is in the caster level section. There it states caster level is generally the cleric level. But it leaves the door wide open for quests for the cleric to find items or other means to increase their caster level. I think this is great and just a rather pointed example that if you or your players don’t like how something work in the DCC RPG game, develop a quest for that character to break some barrier you see the rules putting forth.

In actual game sessions I have run one where a cleric was present and another where a cleric was not. The party with the cleric certainly had an easier time, still tough, but at least there was some means of adventuring on. The party that did not have a cleric was pretty beat up by the end of the adventure. DCC RPG certainly seems to be a game where having a cleric along is of great benefit, though not necessarily required.

The cleric in DCC RPG once again does a great job representing what a cleric “should” feel like to me. Alignment matters, they have the ability to heal multiple times per day and can have a slightly different feel based on the deity they choose to follow.

Next Week

This week’s character in-depth look was decided by the readers of this blog via feedback from comments here, Twitter and Google+.  Once again I am leaving it up to readers of The Iron Tavern to vote for which class they would like to see me look at next. I have covered the Warrior, Thief, Dwarf and now the Cleric.

Which character class should I look at next? Post a comment here, on Google+ or Twitter!

DCC RPG: The Dwarf

This is the third installment in my weekly series of looking at each of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG character classes. The first week I looked at the warrior and last week I looked at the thief. Be sure to check those articles out as well! This week I am taking a closer look at the dwarf character class.

The Class

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG returns to the mechanic of the case of the demi-human characters being your class, as well as your race. Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings are both race and class. In the Dwarf’s case he is very much like the warrior class with a few features to make him unique.

The DCC RPG dwarf is quite true to what I would consider a traditional feel for a dwarf in fantasy RPGs. They love the sight of treasure, short, stout, and strong, albeit wild, fighters. They live below the surface and tend to have excellent martial skills or craftsmen.

Dwarves start with a d10 hit dice, putting them a little below a human warrior, but still towards the top of the stack. Dwarves prefer battling with a weapon and shield and have a rather broad list of weapons they are trained in. They are free to wear whatever armor they can afford.

The same three alignments are available to the dwarf as the other character classes. The rulebook covers what type of dwarf might choose which alignment.

Dwarves have similar attack modifier mechanics as the warrior class does. They receive a deed die that they roll with each attack. This roll on the deed die applies to the attack and damage rolls and will vary depending on level which determines the deed die. At first level the dwarf would roll a d3 and add the result to attack and damage. As the dwarf levels, this die increases in the number of sides.

Also like the warrior the Dwarf can attempt a Mighty Deed of Arms. This allows them, like the warriors, to attempt special maneuvers during combat that succeed based on the value of the deed die. I am a big fan of this mechanic which I explain in my earlier warrior post. Be sure to check that post out for why I am a huge fan of the Mighty Deed of Arms.

Next up we have the sword and board feature. Dwarves like to fight with a shield and a weapon. If a dwarf fights with a shield the dwarf gains shield bash as a second attack – even at first level. The attack with the shield uses a lesser die to hit and does a small amount of damage, but I like the flavor. A Mighty Deed of Arms can be used with the shield bash.

Dwarves of course have infravision due to their time spent below the surface. They also have the slow movement speed of 20′.

Due to their time spent underground Dwarves have a list of underground skills allowing them bonuses to several types of skill checks when made underground. Another interesting feature is that they can smell gold and gems and determine which direction they are in depending on the amount of gold or gems near.

Finally, the dwarf can apply luck to one specific kind of weapon as the warrior does. They also start the game knowing the dwarven racial language.

My Impression

I find the Dwarven class in Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG really hit the right feel for dwarves for me. I do not mind that they made the race a character class that predefines its role. Sure, we might not see Dwarven Wizards or Rogues, but those should be fairly rare to begin with. The class as presented in DCC RPG does a good job of representing the typical dwarf.

Much like the warrior, the Mighty Deeds of Arms is a very fun mechanic. It works equally well with the Dwarven class. It also allows a Dwarven character many options.

From Forgotten Realms novels I have always had a fondness for Thibbledorf Pwent, a dwarven beserker. In D&D 3.x games or Pathfinder games I have had a hard time emulating this type of dwarf. I think with the Mighty Deeds at Arms and a judge I trusted that I could build a dwarven beserker with less trouble.

The other mechanic I really like from the Dwarven class is the sword and board feature. I always think of dwarves in close formation, shield in one hand, hammer or axe in the other. The sword and board class feature helps keep the shield useful for more than just an increased AC and allows the Dwarf to use it in battle to cause damage. I like the feel this gives the DCC RPG dwarf.

I have judged for a couple of dwarves in actual play. The characters seemed to do well and with the use of Mighty Deeds at Arms were able to do some excellent things. I recall one battle where the two dwarves formed up a shield wall to help cover a retreat.

The Dwarven character class is yet another class in DCC RPG that hits the right notes for me. The character class feels like what a dwarf should be in fantasy RPGs!

Next Week

So far I have looked at the Warrior class, the Thief and now this week the Dwarf. What would you like to see me look at more closely next? Post here in the comments or on either Google+ or Twitter and let me know which class I should turn to next!