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[Let's Read] The Class Alphabet for Dungeon Crawl Classics

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A more recent release in comparison to my other reviews, I made a rare exception to cover the Class Alphabet for several reasons. Partly because it’s a collaborative community effort by over two dozen people, and the different writing styles and design philosophies are presently obvious. But also because the book has a more “gonzo” flair without being overly ridiculous save in a few cases; when 3rd party class sourcebooks are typically made, they tend to follow a formula where they either have a set theme in mind or they are done mostly to cover a niche in the game mechanics. The Class Alphabet is different in that the 26 provided have no real overarching theme and while overall built with fantasy dungeon crawls in mind come from a wide variety of otherwise-unrelated genres. With the Class Alphabet, you can very easily have a warrior who fights with the power of rock and roll, a copyright-friendly Starfleet Officer from an advanced interstellar civilization, and a carefree thief who derives magical powers from tarot card-themed pantheon of gods all in the same party. I haven’t seen many books like this in the OSR, much less 3rd Party Dungeons & Dragons, so I have to award them for the novelty alone.

The project that became the Class Alphabet began four years ago in a Google Plus community of Dungeon Crawl Classics fans known as Gongfarmers. So named for their eponymous fanzine of regular content, they saw the official Alphabet-themed series of books by the official publishers and sought to do a faithful ode to the series but with their own literary spirit. Once enough prospects gathered they were tasked with making a class whose title began with a chosen letter, but no other guidelines were provided besides making it fun to play.

Discussion of Unfamiliar Terminology
Dungeon Crawl Classics has quite a bit of reviews out there that go over the base game in detail. Still, I’ll briefly go over some terms that may be frequently cited during this review that are more or less unique to this game.

Level 0 Funnel: Not really relevant to this book but is mentioned here and there. Funnel adventures are every every player controls 3-4 Level 0 PCs who are effectively 1d4 HP peasants proficient with a single randomly-assigned weapon and piece of equipment. PCs that manage to survive the funnel adventure can be played as proper Level 1 characters, although it’s typical for 1 player to choose 1 PC to play from then on out in case they’re lucky enough to have multiple survivors.

Zocchi Dice & Dice Chain: Oddly-shaped dice such as d3, d7, d30, etc are in use. Certain effects can move the roll for a task up or down the “dice chain.” This means that the dice rolled for said task changes one step better or worse. For example, a d20 moving one step up becomes a d24, while moving one step down it becomes a d16.

Action Die: Action Dice are the dice rolled (almost always a d20) when a character attacks, performs a spell check, uses certain class features, or uses a skill with which they are proficient. Sufficiently high-level characters gain a second action die, albeit one that is initially lower on the dice chain and increases with level. Said second action die allows the character to perform a second action and move again in a combat round. A rare few classes in this book gain a third action die at 10th level, and said classes in this book tend to be the martial ones. Interestingly, 4 out of 7 of the core classes gain a 3rd action die: the Dwarf, Elf, Warrior, & Wizard.

Personality & Luck: Barring Dexterity and Constitution being renamed Agility and Stamina, ability scores are more or less the same barring two exceptions. Personality substitutes for both Wisdom and Charisma, and Luck is entirely new. Luck modifiers are added in situations of pure chance, for critical hit tables, and to some relevant tasks based on your astrological sign rolled during a level 0 funnel and for your class (like a favored weapon for a Warrior). But Luck can also be ‘burned’ to provide bonuses on certain tasks. Burnt Luck is permanently gone, although Thieves and Halflings can regain it with time and rest, as can a few classes in this book such as the Black Cat.

Mighty Deed of Arms: The Warrior, Dwarf, and some martial classes in this book are capable of performing awesome and creative feats in battle as part of an attack roll. They roll a deed die, and if it’s a 3 or higher and the attack lands then the Deed is performed in addition to the attack’s normal effects. If the deed die is 2 or less then the Deed fails, although the attack in question may still hit. What this means is that those with a Mighty Deed of Arms should be using it with every attack they make, given there's no reason just to do a normal attack. Mighty Deeds are context-based and don’t have hard and fast rules, but the core rules give a set of guidelines for effects based on the result of the deed die. Such suggestions range from imposing penalties to a certain action to blinding an opponent or moving them into a disadvantageous position.

Crit Table: Inflicting additional damage is but one of many possibilities when you score a natural 20 (or 19 or less if you have a notable class feature, magic item, etc). There are five tables for PCs mostly dependent on their class, and five tables for monster types, and each one has a myriad number of results that can cause all manner of woe to a foe. Generally speaking, the martially-oriented classes have the better crit tables.

Corruption, Disfavor, & Spellburn: Casting a spell is never a surefire thing, and requires a roll known as a spell check. Each spell has its own list of effects depending on results, although critical failures and successes can impose unique curses based on the spellcaster’s class. Clerics can earn the disfavor of their deity, while wizards can find their bodies and souls changing from magical corruption. A wizard can perform spellburn by temporarily lowering one of their own physical ability scores to gain a bonus on a spell check on a 1 for 1 basis.

Ape Ascendant: You were once a gorilla, but became sapient due to some appropriately sword and sorcery-related phenomena and now have limited mental powers! The class is a rather brainy warrior type, with a d10 hit die, adding your Luck modifier to rolls relevant to being smart, and you gain 1 weapon proficiency every level in addition to primitive clubs, improvised weapons of all kinds, and thrown objects by default. You have a pretty good saving throw progression, with your worst save (Reflex) being nearly on par with a “good progression” value of the core classes. You can read and use magic scrolls similar to a 1st-level Thief, can deal additional damage in melee that increases with level (+1 to 1d10), and can also deliver an AoE psychic brain blast attack that can be used an unlimited number of times per day unless you roll poorly and temporarily fry your brain.

The class sounds rather entertaining and makes a passable warrior, although it does not list Action Die progression or a Critical Hit table which is a bit of an oversight.

Black Cat: You’re literally a talking cat with magical powers from Shammat, the Lady of Cats. You are predictably fragile, with a 1d3 hit die but are rather nimble (+2 AC, always go first and never surprised), have incredibly good Reflex and Will saves beyond the normal core progression, and are surprisingly resilient in that your Nine Lives allows you to come back from death up to 8 times. Albeit you suffer one step worse on the dice chain for all rolls for a short period as a consequence to revival. You can also see in the dark and do a few sneaky things that Thieves can do plus turning invisible for a limited time and walking on fragile surfaces, and you can inflict debuffs on opponents such as a Cat Scratch Fever rash or burning Luck to impose penalties on a target’s roll. You can even learn a limited number of spells provided that they are suitably feline-themed.

In addition to this class we also get a new Patron and spells for the Black Cat, as well as Elves and Wizards. Shammat is the embodiment of all things feline and her Invoke Patron spell (that all Black Cats know automatically) creates various fortunate yet usually plausible circumstances for the caster: depending on the spell roll results can range from suddenly finding a helpful item, a small portal or door appearing that leads to a neary desired locations, distracting and dangerous environmental obstacles to confound opponents, and the like. Other spells include Furball from Hell that is upchucked as an acidic ranged attack, Land on Feet which can reduce falling damage for you and your allies, Enhanced Cat Sense which gives you bonuses on perception rolls and additional natural and supernatural detection abilities depending on the die roll, and Nine Lives which reincarnates a slain non-Black Cat caster into a Black Cat with a lesser number of lives than normal.

This class is kind of all over the place, and given that it has 14 authors credited to it (most classes have just 1) I can believe this. The Black Cat is sort of like a trickster caster whose abilities are themed around bringing misfortune upon foes. In spite of their nine lives and natural weapons whose damage goes up in level, they make incredibly fragile fighters. Like the Ape Ascendant there’s no Action Die listed. Fortunately every other class in this sourcebook does not repeat the same mistake.

Cyber-Zombie: This is a rather special class in that you cannot take it initially, but must have died before you can become it: PCs who died in a 0 level funnel can rise as one, and PCs with class levels become a Cyber-Zombie of the same level provided that the corpse is reanimated in a specially-designed technomagic laboratory. The Cyber-Zombie’s a warrior class...kind of. You have saving throws in line with the corebook standard (good Fortitude, Poor Reflex, average Will) and 1d7 hit die, are only proficient with the weapons you could wield as such in life, and have cybernetic armor but cannot wear better armor over that. Whenever you crit you roll a 1d8 to see what critical hit table you use (including monstrous results), and you have some vestigial memories which allow you to retain some minor class features (a single spell, four thieving skills, etc). So far rather average or strange abilities, but the Cyber-Zombie’s major feature is the ability to automatically gain a Cybernetic Upgrade at 1st and every odd-numbered level. We have a respectable assortment of Upgrades, such as an inbuilt laser cannon that can be “charged” to deal more damage over time, reinforced legs that give extra speed and a bonus d20 action die at the cost of hit point damage for activation, and the ability to transform into a motorcycle or winged vehicle (purchased separately) which can other people can ride on. Sweet.

The Upgrades make for a rather fun and oddball class, although the Cyber-Zombie as a whole doesn’t truly excel in any particular classic dungeon-crawling role. That they have some weaknesses of zombification (slower base speed, cannot make use of Luck, recover only half HP from non-magical healing) makes this a bit of a gimmick choice. I suppose that’s the penalty for dying but still wanting to play your PC.

Drug User: As a fine procurer of mind-bending substances, you awakened to a higher state of being and gained the ability to perform superhuman feats while under the influence. The Drug-User is sort of a gimmicky caster in that you initially start with a 1d8 hit die, but said die for future levels decrease as drugs ravage your body long-term. Your base Fortitude saves waddles randomly from going low to high then low again, and your Will save is peculiar as past 3rd level you roll a die to determine its base value every time you’d make a save, ranging from d3 to d10 based on level. Your weapon proficiencies are a sparse array of the familiar such as daggers, crossbows and swords, and some new equipment such as bongstaffs and syringes. You can learn special abilities known as Trips that are activated when you perform a Trip Out roll, which is 1d20 + Trip Out (based on class) + Dose (the strength of an ingested drug).

Trips are grouped in thematic Paths: the Path of Euphoria revolves around hallucinogens and includes such things as being able to read a target’s mind, adding your Trip Out die to a single action due to intense calm and concentration, and imposing emotionally devastating damage or blindness to one’s foes from a bad trip. Path of Hypnotica is more debuff-focused, such as putting a target into a deep slumber, causing others to forget about your presence, or reducing a target’s brain to thoughts of immediate panicky survival. Path of Excitica is the physically-focused group, including bonuses to Strength and Stamina actions, being able to move really fast, and some offensive effects such as stealing a target’s memory or inducing crippling anxiety in them.

We also have a short list of new equipment that can give bonuses on drug-related checks: mobile labs, junk bag for smuggling drugs, and syringes that can deliver drugs and/or poison as part of an attack are but a few of these choices. We also get tables for randomly-generating names and properties of drugs. There’s also new Thief-like skills for druggies that revolve around their lifestyle, from gonzo journalism, find meaning in otherwise-meaningless things, alchemical knowledge, and smuggling items of all types. The last seems rather odd to me, as the pulpy sword and sorcery and post-apocalyptic settings that Dungeon Crawl Classics derives inspiration from aren’t really known for having strongly anti-drug societies.

Overall this class is more narrow than the typical caster, but has a number of interesting tricks that can be of good use.

Editor: You have the power to rewrite reality...literally. You have a 1d4 hit die and no base attack progression or weapon proficiencies (these are expected to be edited in), but you can change the very campaign itself in a number of broken ways. Eraser of Doom can rewind a number of rounds via a Deletion check, Eat Your Words allows you to physically tear and eat pages from the Dungeon Crawl Classics corebook to remove certain rules from the game, Breaking the Fourth Wall allows the player to peek at the GM’s notes for 1d30 seconds, and so on and so forth.

Although a lot of the classes in this book have a bit of a gonzo or even humorous nature to them, the Editor’s the only one that engages with outright rules disruption on the meta-level. I cannot see it being played in any sort of game, being written up more or less as a fourth wall joke.

Thoughts so far: The first batch of classes are rather specialized in comparison to the corebook’s broader concepts, although a few of them function quite well in the roles they intend to fill. The Ape Ascendent and Cyber-Zombie have a few neat tricks that can deal a lot of damage, but without a Warrior’s Mighty Deed of Arms they can end up feeling like more of a one-trick pony in long-term play. The Black Cat is a pretty good utility caster if fragile, and the Drug-User is similar albeit with a narrower focus. The Editor...well, what else can I say that I haven’t already said?

Join us next time as we cover another five classes, from the tragic Flesh-Forged to the beastriding Jockey!


Flesh-Forged: You’re basically Frankenstein’s monster, a soul put into a haphazard skin-stitched golem. You are pretty much a melee fighter, with a d12 hit die, a Vitality Die which is added to damage rolls and to tasks reliant upon physical strength that begins at d4 and goes up to d16+2, and an amazing Fortitude save: +1 per level which is the best progression in this entire book (only the Goblin Gang can possibly eclipse it).

The Flesh-Forged’s other class features are more ho-hum: you can see in the dark and spot invisible creatures, you take half damage from cold attacks and are immune to electrical attacks, and can effectively cast the Wizard spell Scare due to your horrific appearance albeit at the expense of penalties in all social interactions. Like the cyber-zombie you have randomly-assigned past life memories: depending on the race of your corpse’s brain, you may be able to move silently or recharge Luck like a halfling (but not bestow upon others), gain longsword and bow proficiency or sleep/charm/paralysis immunity if you were an elf, and can either shield bash or smell gold and gems like a dwarf. There are even two results for humans, where you roll for a secondary occupation (level 0 funnel) to determine additional skills, or you can lay on hands heal like a cleric (albeit at d16 instead of d20 roll) as some god takes pity upon you being denied an afterlife.

Barring an interesting result on the brain owner race table, the Flesh-Forged is even more one-note than the Ape Ascendant. The class can deal more damage in melee, but doesn’t have psychic brain powers or a bonus to “smart skills,” and most of its features are more reactive in defense and utility (can see things, are not hurt by things) than being something done on the player’s part. The class is effective at what it does, though, and that’s to smash things.

Goblin Gang: Although you use the technical stats of a single character, you are actually a horde of goblins! You have a d6 hit die, are proficient in all non-two handed melee weapons (you roll damage for the best weapon in the group, but magic weapons cause goblins to kill each other in infighting), and every hit point you have represents a goblin. The number of goblins determines your Mob Level, which is 1 for every 3 hit points you have rounded down. A Mob Level effects just about every major core feature of your class, adding 1 per Mob level to your base attack bonus, your initiative bonus, how many Action Die you have, your saving throw bonuses, your penalty on Sneak Silently and Hide in Shadows skills as a thief (goblins are sneaky, but a lot are more noticeable), and determines what critical hit table you roll on. Besides this, your horde can regain its numbers 1/day via a super-sonic cry which restores a number of hit points via a Recruitment Die based upon your location and the time of day (woodland area, underground, etc).

The class’ major utility feature involves the goblins putting their heads together to collectively solve a problem by rolling a skill check, adding their Intelligence modifier and Mob Level vs a GM-assigned DC. Success allows them to come up with a solution to the task at hand, but failure causes the mob to adopt a dangerously stupid plan that will kill one goblin (1 HP) per round until a Will save is made to get the group to realize the error of their ways.

As you can imagine, the Goblin Gang’s major strength is action economy. Unlike any other class they can gain a crazy amount of Action Dice, and as a “character” is quite resilient and dangerous when fighting at its best. However, you become weaker across the board as you take damage, which can have a bit of a “death spiral” effect. Still, I like the class both for its comedic value and its rather novel concept.

Hellfont: You’re an edgy warrior who made a bargain with an entity of supernatural evil. You are proficient in all weapons but typically add accessories and accoutrements to your gear that make you look like a biker shopping at Hot Topic. You’re a bit fragile for a fighter with a 1d8 hit die and have to sacrifice a predetermined amount of gold and/or hit points worth of captured victims in order to gain levels on top of experience progression. But on the plus side you gain a Warrior’s Mighty Deed of Arms (albeit at a smaller value), add your level to rolls involving threats and intimidation, and you threaten critical hits on a 19 and then an 18 as you increase in level. The rest of your class features are more mercurial, reflecting supernatural corruption as you gain power. You roll on a table determining vestigial traits representing a Corrupted Appearance at level 1, but roll on a d24 Abilities and Powers table for every level you have. The latter has a healthy assortment of features, ranging from natural attacks to being able to cast a hell-themed spell to miscellaneous interesting features such as gaining an Imp servant or being able to communicate with a species of vermin.

I like this class. It has a cool theme and a versatile array of options which ensures that no two Hellfonts will be exactly alike.

Intelligent Weapon: You are a magical weapon (usually a sword) crafted by dark magic, and can take over the minds of those who wield you to act as an extension of your will. You have the hit die, saving throws, action die, and critical hit table of a Warrior, and at 1st level your physical ability scores represent that of your mind-controlled thrall. Every time you gain a level your thrall takes 2d6 permanent Stamina damage and when it dips below 3 the thrall dissolves into dust; thus you must find a suitable new thrall before this happens, and their physical ability scores are rolled as though a new PC (but +1d3 to a physical score of your choice representing your malign influence). Thralls lose all special abilities and knowledge they once had before possession, so you can’t really game the results by getting some crazy-powerful wielder. Beyond the thrall’s abilities, you as a weapon have the traits of a mundane version of your type and deal base damage plus your level when wielded in combat,* can burn your thrall’s physical scores to regain luck, can roll Luck to call on the memories of a thrall for skills, gain a +5 bonus on skill checks involving the lore of Hell, and can bodilessly speak or speak through the mouth of your thrall. You also roll a 1d12 at 1st and every odd-numbered level to gain a special magical weapon property: several results allow you to cast a spell (animate dead, lightning bolt, etc) although some options include the ability to drain hit points of a struck target to your thrall, gaining a ‘phantom reach’ of 20 feet, and dealing bonus damage of an energy type among other such features.

*doesn’t specify if the thrall adds their Strength modifier in the case of you being a melee weapon.

There’s also a bit of a mini-game for finding new thralls, representing you casting out your influence by making a thrall-to-be fail its Will save and ‘steal’ you from the current owner along with a battle of wills against the current thrall.

Another interesting class, although I feel that the constant quest to find new ‘owners’ can be a bit of a hindrance. On the other hand, it’s a rather good way to covertly “kill” an NPC if you play your cards right. Mechanically speaking you’re pretty much a Warrior but without a Mighty Deed of Arms, but with a range of utility and interesting magical weapon abilities. If a GM rules that the thrall’s strength adds on top of your weapon and level damage, this can make the Intelligent Weapon class a rather good damage-dealer. How much of a trade-off all of these things are worth may depend upon the roll of the die for new thralls and the aforementioned magical weapon abilities.

Jockey: This is a single-page class which takes the form of a rather fancy character sheet. I debated whether or not to screenshot it, but in the interest of not copy-pasting an entire class I’ll just paraphrase it here.

You’re a tamer of beasts who rides creatures into combat. You have a d7 hit die, are proficient in a few whipping/bludgeoning style weapons (flailas, whips, axes, lances, etc), and have an attack progression, action die, critical hit table as a Thief but have the saves of a Wizard. You begin play at level one with a 2 (d6) Hit Die Mount and can ‘tame’ other beasts by jumping on the back of a sufficiently injured monster at half total HP or less. Your chances of success for taming the beast are percentile-based and dependent upon your Luck, Personality, and level. Should you fail this roll the monster gets a free attack on you. When riding a monster you can direct it to body-slam as an attack which can use either your own or its critical hit table, but a mount’s special abilities can only be used if it’s intelligent and/or trained. You can train a monster to be loyal to you after you earn 4 experience* while riding it, or spend 1d7 days during downtime). There’s no mention of how many mounts that you can have loyal to you at once.

*Experience in DCC is much more simplified and uniform in comparison to other OSR games. You gain XP via encounters, ranging from 0 to 4 depending on said encounter’s level of relative difficulty for your party’s capabilities. As 2 XP is for a “typical encounter” and 3-4 are for difficult and extremely deadly encounters, it shouldn’t take very long for a Jockey to bend a beast to their will.

A rather neat idea for a class, but its overall usefulness is highly dependent on what monsters you face. As Dungeon Crawl Classics has a rather minimalist bestiary and instead focuses on tools for GM’s to make their own creatures, it’s really hard to gauge the overall power level of this class.

Thoughts so far: I definitely feel that the classes are getting more creative the further I read into this book. It could be coincidental, but there’s more of a “dark” vibe with the classes in this section in comparison to the more whimsical classes that made up our first 5 entries. That may be part of why I like these ones more.

Join us next time as we cover the scurrilous Knave, the lengthiest class in the book!


Knave: You may be wondering what’s so big about this class that it has an entry of its own in this Let’s Read. Well it’s because it is effectively four classes in one. The Knave is basically a scoundrel who lives life on the edge, but what separates them from other garden-variety roguish ne'er-do-wells is that they worship a pantheon of deities known as the Arcana. Said pantheon lives in a castle at the end of time, warring among themselves as well as their enemies, and their wild whims are divined through games of chance. Such prophecies can take the form of card and dice games to doing any uncertain activity with an element of risk.

The core Knave hews close to the Thief, with a d6 hit die, a similar array of weapon proficiencies, and can burn and spend Luck like the aforementioned class but can also be used to reduce the die results of foes on a 1 for 1 basis. However, your thief skills are slightly different: you cannot cast spells from scrolls and instead must burn such documents as sacrifices to your patron in exchange for unlocking Major Arcana. Furthermore, not all Knaves can use all Thief skills. There are four subclasses known as Suites which give one or more bonus Thief skills in addition to other boons, which is why the Knave has its own entry for this Let’s Read. You also have a potentially annoying role-play restriction where you’re a compulsive liar, and must be dishonest about the identity and intentions of yourself and your allies whenever meeting a new NPC or group of NPCs. If you are truthful “too often or too easily,” you risk punishment from the Arcana pantheon via deity disapproval.

The class’ universal features are known as Major and Minor Arcana respectively, reflecting your magical connection to the gods of chance. Major Arcana can only be invoked with the sacrifice of a spell scroll, and you either roll a Trump Die (whose value increases in level and which you add your Luck modifier to) or draw from a deck of real tarot cards whose deck is ‘filled to completion’ in a similar manner to see which god’s attention you bring. There are 22 results with appropriately miraculous effects albeit usually with a limited duration. For example, the Magician can let you counter a spell and enter a spell duel, the Hierophant sends a living chess piece to act as a long-term servant for you with its own stats based on the piece in question, Justice deals a Trump Die worth of damage to any successful attacker (on both sides) in the Knave’s presence, and the Star summons falling stars as an AoE attack which can grant 1 temporary Luck or even a wish to those able to avoid them.

Minor Arcana are more reliable yet not as powerful, and depend on a Knaves’ suite. You start out with a basic ability that all Knaves of your suite automatically know, but in order to learn others you need to complete quests or tasks with rather open definitions. Said Minor Arcana have 3 sample quests which tend to be a challenge thematic from myth and legend (steal a legendary food or beverage, climb an impassable mountain), or has a simpler task but requires performing a cruel or otherwise anti-social action such as serving poison to a trusted friend or ally or executing an innocent person at the request of the law. This is obviously plot fodder for the GM to draw upon, although some tasks have more immediate results than others. Minor Arcana do not have a per-day limit, although you risk deity disapproval if you get a low result (and on spells too if your suite grants them), with more failed checks increasing the chance. Everyone’s luck runs out sometime!

Knaves of Clubs are an oxymoron: they are lazy and want the finer things in life, but prefer to live away from people in the great outdoors. They loathe the idea of labor, but have few qualms in planning heists of guarded estates upon hearing the rumor of a rare morsel being served in the lord’s hall. You not only know how to disarm traps as a Thief skill, you can create your own traps and set them for others. Your free Minor Arcana is the ability to spontaneously set a target on fire, while the two learnable ones teach you to cause nearby targets to critically Fumble (and even open a pit under them if they ever roll a natural 20) and the ability to conjure a swarm of blackbirds to fight on your behalf and who can remove small digits and disfigure foes on a critical hit. Furthermore, you also gain minor spellcasting capabilities, with spells related to nature and subterfuge.

The ability to craft and set traps is a pretty cool spin on the traditional Thief, and although subject a bit to GM Fiat it can play well into the scout concept of a PC mapping out routes to confound unaware opponents. The spells further enhance this playstyle, too. The Minor Arcana feel a bit meh to me; being able to set opponents on fire doesn’t feel all that impressive when most adventurers have torches. You can summon a lot of blackbirds (20+ depending on Trump Die result), but they’re individually weak. The ability to provoke Critical Fumbles in opponents is perhaps the most versatile and useful Arcana of the suite.

Knaves of Diamonds are greed incarnate. They seek to take from others, be it in games of chance or more droll forms of theft and white-collar crime. Their risky lives mean that they spend lavishly, and thus continually throw themselves into the next big score instead of settling down for an early retirement. You can Backstab like a Thief, but cannot use Luck to increase your own rolls, although you have a greater chance of inflicting misfortune upon others via rolling Trump Die per Luck burnt as a penalty to a target’s roll as opposed to a 1 for 1 basis. Your free Minor Arcana lets you toss coins in the air which can enlarge and fall down upon opponents to inflict damage (ones which miss a target cannot be recovered as currency). Your two learnable ones include the ability to summon a giant floating slot machine with thrown coins entering them, which deals a wider range of area and damage depending on the Slot Die representing the reel results (higher trump die results allow you to have more Slot Die to pick the best rolls). The other Minor Arcana allows you to bet thrown coins which can transform enemies into coins of varying value, meaning that not only do you effectively kill your target, you may lose or gain more money for your trouble!

You’re basically a Final Fantasy/JRPG Gambler, and I love this. Your Minor Arcana are a bit samey in that while the learnable ones are clearly better the one with the slot machine more or less does the same thing as the coin toss albeit with much greater damage potential. The ability to inflict massive penalties on an enemy roll via Luck expenditure is also pretty powerful, and a PC with a high enough score will almost certainly find opportunities to use it frequently. Given that it’s not a spell or minor arcana, there’s no worry about deity disapproval.

Knaves of Hearts are in it for the pizzazz and the flair. They are the most sociable knaves, enjoying good company and the reputation earned from their deeds more than the rewards themselves. Your Thief skill includes the ability to read and decipher languages and codes, and your free Minor Arcana allows you to steal an item from an enemy when you hit them with a weapon attack. Said items can include small tools, pouches, and the like, but higher results on the Trump Die can steal larger weapons, armor, and even an animal companion or wizard’s familiar who is effectively muzzled and taken out of combat unless directly attacked. The two learnable arcana includes the ability to inflict a stun attack upon enemies when making a bludgeoning attack. This can make them act last in initiative, be unable to act for one round, or even falling unconscious based on the Trump Die results. The other learnable Arcana gives you the ability to enter a blind rage as you attack a plant or plantlike creature, dealing anywhere from 3 to 7 dice worth of bonus damage with your weapon attacks against them. Furthermore, you have spellcasting capability similar to the Knave of Clubs, although your spells are more classically “Illusionist/Enchantment” albeit with a few transmutation-related faire at higher levels.

The Knave of Hearts leaves me with mixed feelings, in that its free Minor Arcana looks the most useful to me. The bonus damage against plant creatures is highly situational, and the stun attack seems more appropriate to the following Knave of Spades. The spells are broadly useful and perhaps the most optimized for a Thief-type character, which helps save the subclass.

Knaves of Spades do not care for the subtle manipulations of Hearts nor the earthly pleasures of Clubs and Diamonds. They are thugs, tyrants, and sadists whose greatest treasure is the power to bend others to their will. They are the most martial of the subclasses, receiving a better base attack bonus progression and increased critical threat range as they gain levels. They are unable to forge documents, but they can deal backstab damage and find, disable, and reset traps. Their free Minor Arcana includes the ability to cause bleeding with a bladed weapon that deals damage over time until properly treated, while their two learnable abilities include being able to to perform acrobatic flips and charges to damage multiple enemies with a single Action Die, and a beheading attack which can instantly slay an opponent anywhere from 3 to 7 Hit Die depending on the Trump Die result.

The Knave of Spades gains quite a bit more Thief abilities than the other subclasses, although they are more of a one-trick pony in that all of their Minor Arcana revolves around violence. They don’t have the staying power of a proper Warrior or other martial class, given their low Hit Die and that armor imposes penalties on their Thief skills, so they’re more of a gimmicky martial who can either do death by a thousand cuts or do a single risky attack to instantly take out an enemy.

Thoughts so far: The Knave has a very “Video Game Thief” feel to its subclasses, which may not be to everyone’s taste but to a 90s kid like me I love it. The Tarot card theme is a rather cool one, and while it may be the Savage Worlds fan in me, the idea of using a card deck as an optional mechanic seems quite flavorful. The sacrificing of spell scrolls for Major Arcana results is not a huge loss in and of itself, as like in typical D&D they’re single-use items anyway. The knave subclasses and their Minor Arcana are perhaps the most controversial aspect of the class for me. While Knaves overall play quite similarly, each suite reflects a different aspect of a Thief archetype, and some of their abilities feel more situational than others. Perhaps the more problematic aspects are the knaves’ role-playing mandates in the sense that they’re sort of a “reverse Paladin:” the compulsive lying and some of the “evil” Minor Arcana requirements require a bit of group in-put ahead of time to avoid inter-party conflict.

Join us next time as we get back into the multi-class format, from the pulpy Lemurian to the creepy Puppet Master!


Lemurian: You’re a member of an ape-like race who won their freedom from their Atlantean masters. Your people watch over the ruins of their former oppressors which still brim with technology and sorcery of great and terrible power.

You are very much a martial class, with 1d14 hit die (that’s not a typo), proficiency in most martial weapons, and use the critical hit table and can perform Mighty Deeds of Arms as a Warrior. You also get a third action die at 10th level, one of the few classes that can do so by default in this book. As for your other abilities, you add your Stamina modifier to your Armor Class but it does not stack with worn armor, you roll one step higher on the dice chain when operating ancient technological devices, can enter a rage-like battle fury that lets you roll 2 die higher on the dice chain for your Deed Die, can add your Deed Die to tasks involving physical strength, and can Detect Magic via scent albeit with no corruption/taint/magical maladies of said Wizard spell.

You do have a role-playing related weakness: you must either roll for or choose from a d12 table at least 3 rules of “honorable combat,” and intentionally disregarding them will cause you to be exiled and hunted down by your kin. They include things such as never attacking a foe from behind, never surrendering, always giving your enemies a chance to repent and surrender, and so on and so forth.

The Lemurian’s a pretty cool class, both from a mechanical and flavor standpoint. They are very clearly warriors, but their ability to “smell sorcery”  and better understand advanced technology is a pretty good utility feature.

Monster Trainer: You’re part of a society that sends its children out to collect and tame monsters, and engage in competitive battles with other such trainers for fame and glory. You have a d6 hit die and a small array of weapon proficiencies, and the vast majority of your class features center around creatures you capture and control rather than your own skills and talents. You begin play with a monster akin to a Wizard’s familiar, but can keep up to 4 other creatures plus your level as loyal companions. Creatures who are near-death in combat can be captured should they fail a Will save minus your level and Personality bonus, becoming your permanent companion on a failure. Tamed monsters can be called and dismissed from an extradimensional storage space and controlled, although those with more Hit Dice than the Monster Trainer’s level have a chance at resisting orders via a Will save.

Beyond this major feature, Monster Trainers can also heal the wounds of their companions on a per-day basis, can add and burn luck to assist their companions’ actions, and can evolve monsters with HD lower than their level after a fight. We even have a small random table of potential new abilities gained via evolution to make said monsters feel like they gained more than just a hit point boost!

Much like the Jockey, the Monster Trainer is highly dependent upon what monsters are encountered, although they’re probably more powerful than said class on account of the Luck-sharing and granting new Hit Dice and abilities to weaker monsters.

Ninja Vampire: You are part of an order of undead assassins who serve dark gods that demand payment in blood and loyalty. You have a startlingly-fragile d4 hit die, are proficient in a broad variety of reflavored Japanese weapons (katana is a longsword, shuriken is a dart, etc), and use the critical hit table of an Undead monster. You can call upon your god’s magic much like a cleric can. You cannot turn undead or lay on hands, but you can cast spells from potentially any class provided that they meet your god’s area of influence (GM’s discretion). You are also trained in Thief skills, and being undead you have the typical strengths and weaknesses of such a creature. Furthermore, you must drink 1 hit point of damage of blood per day in order to survive (which adds to your own hit point reserves), and you catch fire in sunlight unless dressed in ninja garb. You also cannot die via normal means when reduced to 0 HP unless you’re burned, staked through the heart, or decapitated.

Overall this is a rather strong class. Your spell selection is quite broad, although the pantheon the Ninja Vampires serve have rather specific in portfolio (Kagutsuchi is the God of Fire, Nai-No-Kami is the God of Earthquakes, etc). You are actually quite resilient in spite of your Hit Die, and since your blood drain isn’t restricted to humanoids you can very easily subsist off of animals rather than risk earning the ire of townsfolk.

Ogre: You’re an ogre, and you love to eat! You have a d10 hit die and are proficient in any weapon that can “chop, skewer, or pulverize” which sounds like most of them. However you have a slow movement speed, armor must be custom-made and you outgrow it when you gain a level due to your gluttonous appetite, and if you go 24 hours without eating you fall under GM control as a starving beast unless you burn Luck. But you can gain a third Action die at 10th level, perform Meaty Deeds of Feasting which are akin to Mighty Deeds but performed when hungry or around food. Sample Meaty Deeds are centered around this gluttonous theme: ahungry bellow that increases critical threat range vs a prey that you intend to eat, eating the small body part of an opponent, and such. You also gain a natural bite attack whose damage die increases via level, and you use a special Gobble critical hit table when biting and grappling. All ogres have a favorite food (goats, pies, dwarves, etc) selected at 1st level, and can smell said food anywhere from 40 feet to 100 depending on circumstance.

A rather humorous warrior, albeit weighed down (haha) by quite a bit of weaknesses in exchange for some rather thematic combat features. I cannot help but compare the Ogre to the Lemurian, and the latter class comes up stronger. A better Hit Die, a broader “smell” utility ability, and likelier to maintain a better Armor Class as they increase in level. Going through plate mail gets expensive, you know!

Puppet Master: You’re a creepy spellcaster who can imbue dolls with life and limited sapience. You’re pretty much a pure caster at 1d4 hit die, although you have a better variety of weapon proficiencies such as swords and bows on top of the iconic “wizard weapons.” Like the Jockey and Monster Trainer you’re minion-centric, although unlike those classes you have more concrete stats and abilities for your marionettes, puppets, and all manner of dolls. You need 50 gp of materials and two weeks to build such a creature, and can bring to life a puppet permanently via the sacrifice of Intelligence (you regain lost Intelligence if the puppet’s destroyed or disenchanted). Puppets are small and not very tough, but you can grant a puppet additional abilities with more gold pieces and/or Intelligence, ranging from proper inbuilt armor, a telepathic link, a flying speed, a more damaging weapon, and so on and so forth. You automatically know the Mending spell for healing your puppets, have a small array of spells you can pick from a list (mostly utility stuff), and you can also transfer your mind into a puppet if you die.

You can make some surprisingly strong puppets if you have the gold and Intelligence to spare, and as a “minion class” you have action economy on your side. Your power level is less wonky than the Jockey or Monster Trainer on account that you’re limited in specific ways, and just about every D&D clone has adventures with gold pieces to be won.

Thoughts So Far: Some pretty strong classes with neat thematics in this section. The only one I really have anything negative to say about is the Ogre. The Ninja Vampire’s major class features feel a bit unimaginative in borrowing from others (cleric casting, thief skills) although the novelty of being able to drink blood and undead immunities makes up for it in appeal.

Join us next time as we cover more classes, from the Trekkian Quantum Wanderer to the spacy Ubiquarian!


Quantum Wanderer: You’re a traveler of time and space who just happened to end up in a more primitive dimension/era. Your technology relies on the invisible manipulation of quantum physics, retro gadgets, and ray guns which all appear miraculously magical to most people. You have a d7 hit die, are proficient in 1d5+3 random weapons reflective of your sufficiently advanced culture, are likely to be knowledgeable and proficient in the workings of super-science weapons found as treasure, and have good progression in all 3 saving throws. Your major class feature, Quantum Manipulation, grants you access to Q-Powers as you gain levels, allowing you to perform “magical” feats of science provided that you can gather enough Q-particles to ‘cast’ them. This is represented as a 1d12 check with modifiers based upon how strange and wonky the laws of physics are in the immediate vicinity (magical rifts and such) as well as penalties if you failed prior checks within a short time-frame. You can learn up to 5 Q-Powers as you gain levels, but there’s only 4 (technically 9) in this book with suggestions that the GM should create more of their own. They include the ability to make a force field bubble that boosts AC, the ability to “wager Luck” on a roll that can aid or hinder the rolls of others, being able to teleport oneself and/or a group, and the ability to shoot an energy ray with various effects and/or damage types depending on its kind. Devolution rays reduce mental ability scores but enhance physical ones, rectangle rays create square-shaped holes in walls, teleportation rays can transfer a struck target elsewhere as the base teleport power, and so on and so forth. The rays are learned individually and there are 6 of them, which may account for the brevity of Q-Powers.

There’s also a sample list of Quantum Age weapons which include various types of energy blasters and a paralyzing rod. The class leans strongly on utility in the form of its Q-Powers, although given the limited amount that you can learn you’re mostly limited to a neat trick or two for the first five levels.

Ro-Bard: You’re a metallic artificial life form programmed to move others through the power of music! You have a d8 hit die and “roguish” weapon proficiencies, and your artificial body grants you diverse immunities but the inability to heal damage naturally or magically save via repairs costing 2d4 silver pieces per hit point restored. You have an inbuilt instrument that doesn’t require hands to be played and thus cannot be disarmed, and your memory data functions similar to Bardic Knowledge. Your primary class features center around music, and the abilities in question are dependent upon your alignment. All Ro-Bards can inspire allies with bonuses on Will saves. Lawful Ro-Bards can implant multiple suggestions in listeners, and can easily pick up new languages. Neutral Ro-Bards can only implant a single suggestion that grants a bonus when the listener performs a task related to the desired course of action, can also cause people to dance via a failed Will save, and evoke a specific emotional response in a target via singing. Chaotic Ro-Bards can perform acrobatics to increase their AC or ignore difficult and hazardous terrain, their jests can impose penalties to a target’s rolls, and they can perform stage magic and said last ability is incredibly vague in what it can do beyond this.

The Ro-Bard kind of comes out of nowhere, and given the classes we already covered that’s saying something. The alignment-based class features are a strange choice, and I cannot help but notice that the Lawful features get the short end of the stick. The Ro-Bard as a class doesn’t really have access to combat capabilities, magic, or otherwise broad gimmicks like we’ve seen in past entries, and given that it takes money to heal hit point damage they are a rather “meh” class.

Slimenoid: You’re a humanoid slime, meaning that all you weebs out there can play your very own gooey monster girl. You aren't exactly a combat-focused or utility class, having a limited mixture of both. You have a d8 hit die and cannot wear armor or use any weapons, which is not good, although you can attack with an acidic pseudopod which increases in damage and reach as you gain levels. Furthermore, you gain a unique array of class features every level, such as being able to see in the dark, breathe underwater, take half damage from bludgeoning attacks but double from fire/dessication, and a gradual progression of immunities. Being counted as “no longer humanoid for spell purposes” is the class’ 10th level capstone.

I actually looked through the corebook’s (very long) magic chapter with a proper CTRL + F search, and there aren’t many spells which specifically key off of a humanoid target. Charm Person is the most obvious example, but as a final feature is rather underwhelming. Sadly this word sums up the class quite well, as you don’t really excel in many utility-based tasks, you don’t have spells, and you are quite fragile and easy to hit in a straight-up fight.

Tenacious D-Fender: You’re basically the protagonist of Brutal Legend, and what more needs to be said? You are a martial class through and through. Your Tenacious Deeds are like Mighty Deeds of Arms but lower base die value than the Warrior. To make up for this you add your Personality modifier to the Deed die, are proficient with all melee weapons, and you add your level to initiative rolls meaning you act first and and fast often. You have a rather low d8 hit die and can only use slings as ranged weapons (cuz ROCK!), but your major class features are Battle Cries which are songs you sing in combat to make cool stuff happen and you have a predetermined one song per level. All but one are named after songs or catchphrases performed by the band Tenacious D and tend to be either at-will abilities or limited on a per-day basis. Battle Cries include things such as granting you an extra attack, deafening foes in an AoE shout, forcing up to 8 targets to lose their next action, and so on. The last two songs are rather notable: Tribute! can let allies roll one higher on the dice chain on attack rolls, while Summon Type IV Dio calls forth a powerful demon with the face of Ronnie James Dio.

This class is awesome. I have absolutely nothing to criticize about it, and it’s my favorite one in the whole book.

Ubiquarian: You learned how to astrally project a mirror-self via meditative techniques. As expected you’re rather thief-like in your d6 hit die and weapon proficiencies, and you can select from a list of trances to perform via a d20 roll plus your level + stamina modifier. These techniques can let you send an immaterial, invisible astral projection as you leave your body (but suffer Stamina if you remain outside your body for too long), can heal injuries and lost Stamina damage from projecting after an hour-long meditation, can create physical copies of yourself which divide your Stamina and hit points among themselves, gain the ability to Move Silently and Move in Shadows as a Thief (constant ability, not a trance), and can bring other people in an astral meditation by increasing the DC. Failing a roll when using said abilities causes an Astral Mishap, which is a table of various effects ranging from ability score damage to suffering from short-term amnesia to bringing a monster from the astral plane back with you.

The Ubiquarian is a gimmicky class, but it has a very cool and versatile gimmick. It may not be as open-ended as some of the other thief-like classes in this book such as the Knave or Ninja Vampire, but it’s much easier to read through and understand the core abilities.

Thoughts so far: I wasn’t impressed with the first 3 entries here, but the Tenacious D-Fender and Ubiquarians are cool classes that are good at their intended roles with flavorful spins of existing classes. Heavy Metal Warrior and Astral Thief are both brief and cool-sounding.

Join us next time as we wrap up this review with the last five classes, from vicious Velociraptors to wild-eyed Zealots!


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