This volume was written by David Baity, Julian Bernick, Gabriel Pérez Gallardi, Reece Carter, Chris Fassano, Reid San Filippo, Terra Frank, Edgar Johnson, Billy Longino, Terry Olson, Doyle Wayne Ramos-Tavener, and Jon Wilson. Art is by Craig Brasco, Jeff Griffith, Doug Kovacs, Todd McGowan, Sean Poppe, Claytonian JP, Revturkey, Mario Torres, Frank Turfler, Jon Wilson, William McAusland, Carla Stroh, and Marc Radle.
Disclosure: I am listed as a proofreader on this volume.
Although listed as "Volume 1 of Five Booklets", there are actually six volumes in the 2015 release of The Gongfarmer's Almanac. Strictly speaking, this material isn't necessary for running a Dungeon Crawl Classics game. Do you need an assassin that isn't a thief following the Path of the Assassin? Probably not. But it's nice to have the option, the material is cool, and the pdf is free.
The volume is split into two sections: PC Classes and Rituals & Spells. Let's look inside.
- Assassin: This "lawless angel of death" is by Julian Bernick. Assassins have a "poison die" that works similar to a Deed Die in some ways - it gives a bonus to attack roll and damage. On a successful attack, the victim must save against the total attack value or be poisoned (with seven possible results, based on a roll). They also can assassinate a totally surprised opponent, which is a hefty ability. Level titles are given for all ten levels.
- Dervish: Edgar Johnson provides a holy warrior class that is a little bit warrior, a little bit paladin, a little bit ranger, and a little bit monk. It's an interesting and flavorful class, with some variation in terms of thief skills. I could see this class existing in most Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign milieus.
- Gold & Glory from Beyond the Grave: Terra Frank offers what might be the most surprising, and interesting, group of classes in the volume: Rules to play as a ghost, skeleton warrior, or vampire. Rules are not given for converting recently-slain characters to these classes (unfortunately!), but the judge can use the multiclassing rules from Raven Crowking's Nest or Crawl! #10 as a basis for doing so.
- Luchador: Reid “Reidzilla” San Filippo provides a "mystical, bravado-fueled, unarmed warrior from the southern reaches of post-apocalyptic Umerica" for your pleasure. "Blessed by the Bueno-god El Santo, patron of all monster slaying wrestlers, Luchadores channel the hope of their peoples and their indomitable will through outlandish mystical masks to empower their ancient unarmed fighting techniques." Fun? Yes. Appropriate to all settings? Probably not as written, though reskinning the class shouldn't be that hard. One can imagine a Trumphammer 2K scenario where luchadors have to cross the border wall between Mexico and the United States. Likewise, a luchador might fit into a scenario inspired by Michael Curtis' Secret Antiquities. Given that Mexican wrestling (lucha libre) dates back to 1863, the class might also appear in Black Powder, Black Magic's Brimstone of the Weird West of
Dark TrailsWeird Frontiers.
- Martial Grandmaster: Surely not everybody was Kung-Fu fighting, but this guy was. This is not a class, but a "monster" write-up by bygrinstow. And, yes, with a +8 bonus to initiative, this cat is as fast as lightning. With four Action Dice (1d24, 1d20, 1d16, and 1d14) as well as his "badass" ability, he certainly is more than a little bit frightening.
- Sword Monger: If you've ever seen The Highlander, then you know where David Baity got his inspiration for this class. These are extremely powerful characters, and are very likely to dominate group play. The author notes that "Judges are encouraged to place a fellow sword monger into game play irregularly to keep the class balanced", but it has to be noted that this form of balance is going to skew play towards the sword monger PC even more: He survives almost anything you can throw at him, except special scenarios where the big threat is all about him and his physical stats increase 1/4 of the time. If you've only got one PC, though, the class is almost perfect. (Okay, I do have one other complaint. The name "sword monger" implies that the character sells swords. A "monger" is "a dealer or trader in a specified commodity", like a costermonger sells fruits and vegetables.)
Rituals & Spells
- Blood Splash: This is a 1st level wizard spell, by Reece Carter, where the caster cuts himself and uses his own blood as a weapon.
- Healing Spellburn: Author Gabriel Pérez Gallardi provides a mechanic whereby clerics may heal their wizardly comrades of damage caused by Spellburn. There are, of course, consequences of so doing. Overall, the mechanic is fairly well balanced and has inherent limitations that should prevent its overuse.
- Sacrifice: A 1st level cleric spell by Doyle Wayne Ramos-Tavener where a sacrifice can be made to achieve a certain benefit, either for the caster or for another, and which requires a sacrifice either by the cleric or another. That the ritual can only be performed in a place holy to the caster's deity, there is an inherent limit in the spell.
- Temporary Creation: This is a 1st level cleric spell by Terry Olson that creates some mundane item for a short period of time. The item is considered a manifestation of the god's power, and it is sinful to misuse it.
- Vacuity: This is a 3rd level wizard spell by Chris Fassano that "Expels oxygen from lungs or area of effect; drains life force and thoughts from creatures; and can create a black hole, potentially transporting objects randomly across the universe or crushing everything in reach to an infinitely small point in space." Have fun with it!
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