Disclaimer: I was given a free pdf from the publisher, in hopes that I would write about this product (which I would have anyway). As a result I noticed a few small edits prior to publication, which resulted in my being given a credit as an editor. My blog, Raven Crowking's Nest, is listed in Appendix III of this work.
This book, not surprisingly, contains an Introduction and a "How to use this book" section. Each is a single page long. Not all of the classes herein are going to fit well into every campaign. With 26 classes to choose from, the odds are that something will fit into any given milieu. None of these classes, however, is simply a Ranger or Paladin variant. Well, there is the Zealot....
For some reason, the publisher decided to make the pdf not only automatically default to a two-page spread, but treated those spreads as single pages. This is not ideal. Obviously, the two-page spread looks good - most pages are designed to take advantage of how one would see the pages in print - but it does make reading the pdf harder than it needs to be. At the point of this writing, a print version is not available.
Let's take closer a look at each of these classes, shall we?
A is for APE ASCENDANT: You are an ape. You are a very smart ape. You are a smart ape with primal strength and rage. You are a very smart ape with primal strength and rage that can deliver powerful psionic blasts. If you wanted to play an analogue of Gorilla Grodd, this is your chance. This is a relatively simple class to understand, taking only a single page of the book.
This class would fit into any tropical milieu with a bit of gonzo, but the PC might have a harder time visiting a tavern. This could also stand in for a yeti-type character, or a subset of Ith’n Ya’roo.
B is for BLACK CAT: Literally a magical black cat, this is nonetheless a fairly complex class which takes a full 12 pages to describe fully. The Black Cat gains spells, its own unique critical hit table, and a full patron write-up for Shammat, Lady of Cats.
Most campaign milieus will include cats, and most societies are not at all surprised to see cats hanging around where people are. This class could gain wide usage as a result. Shammat might be an interesting patron for wizards and elves.
C is for CYBER-ZOMBIE: This class represents a dead body reanimated and upgraded with technology. Characters have to die in order to become Cyber Zombies, and not every dead character can be revived as such.
This is a complex character class that requires 7 pages to describe, including upgrades that the character might gain. In a milieu similar to Umerica or Mutant Crawl Classics, this class could fit right in. The class might be the result of PC action, or the result of technological processes beyond the characters' control - in this way, an adventure location could create Cyber Zombies as unique PCs even in a nominally medieval setting.
D is for DRUG USER: I am still amazed that Joseph Goodman let this one into the book.
A complex class taking 10 pages to describe, "You sacrifice your sanity to forces from beyond the cosmic veil in exchange for powers unknown in your birth universe. You walk a tightrope between controlling your environment and controlling yourself. If you let your guard down for just one unwary moment, or pursue an ecstatic experience just a little too far, you risk being invaded and ultimately consumed by Transdimensional Cognitive Parasites who skitter around the periphery of your reality, looking for a portal into a host consciousness in your dimension".
Ostensibly, this class could fit into almost any game setting, but including it will definitely change the tone of a campaign. Sadly, there is no mention of taduki.
E is for EDITOR: Taking up two pages, this class is designed with meta-gaming in mind. Serious meta-gaming. As in looking at the judge's notes and reporting back to the party meta-gaming. This might be fun in a one-shot, but I would have a hard time using it in an extended campaign. What else should one expect from "Jarrett Crader & accomplices"?
F is for FLESH-FORGED: This is a two-page re-imagining of Frankenstein's Monster, with an awareness that all of its parts might not actually be human. The class is relatively straight-forward and could fit into almost any milieu. With a little bit of disguise work, it might even be welcome in a tavern. I would limit the use of the class to prevent it from losing its impact.
G is for GOBLIN GANG: Another two-page class, you are literally a gang of small, imp- or gremlin-like goblins. Effectively, this is role-playing a swarm. Does it work? Well, the class is not difficult to understand, but it would have a hard time interacting with the mundane folk of your average village.
It would be easy to reskin this class to fit into almost any campaign milieu, although if the game is strongly human-centric it will not fit. They could be some form of collective intelligence in Star Crawl, Crawljammer, or Phantasmagoria. In Umerica or Mutant Crawl Classics, they would fit right in. In a game based around the Shudder Mountains,
Dark Trails Weird Frontiers, or Transylvanian Adventures this class could represent an opponent, but probably will not be a comrade-in-arms.
H is for HELLFONT: Why allow wizards to have all the fun of demonic patrons and corruption? Now your Warrior-type character can have them too! Although not a complicated class, it does take 4 pages to also document the powers and corruptions you might have. I picture this class as being inspired by Venger from the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, but I could certainly be wrong.
If there are demonic patrons in your milieu, this class will fit. You might have trouble mingling with other folk, however,
I is for INTELLIGENT WEAPON: Here is an interesting idea: your PC is an intelligent weapon. This also means that you need a thrall...some feckless would-be adventurer that you can control and act through. It is a neat idea, taking three pages to detail, and is not overly complicated. Although a magical sword, axe, or hammer might be the go-to ideas that come to the average player, it would be easy to use this class in Mutant Crawl Classics, Star Crawl, or Umerica with a more technological base. Not every magical ability is easily converted to a technological ability, but transition should go smoothly with a little judicious interpretation.
J is for JOCKEY: This is a one-page class for those who might wish to ride some form of critter. It isn't complicated and, for the most part, it should translate easily to almost any game milieu. If the idea of a PC mounted on an umber hulk is too gonzo for you, use sparingly!
K is for KNAVE: This is possibly the most complex class created for Dungeon Crawl Classics at the time of this writing. It is not surprising, then, that it takes a full 30 pages to fully describe.
"Knaves are selfish in the extreme. They take what they want, and live off other people’s labor. Knaves take the largest slice of pie; they drink the whole pail of water. Knaves want the biggest and the best, the first pick, the choicest cut. They demand service and servitude, and anyone who stands against them gets beaten down full sore. Knaves blackmail and ambush, they burgle and break, they wheedle, they scheme, and they’ll fight to the death – but never lift a finger to do an honest day’s work."
What sets them apart, though, is service to the Arcana. The Knave has a mystical relationship to the tarot deck, They have a suit chosen from those of standard playing cards - Clubs, Spades, Diamonds, and Hearts - that helps to define their powers. In short, once more, they are complicated. Flavorful, but complicated. You will want to have this section printed out at the table if you play a Knave or have one in your game.
Depending upon how your magic is styled, this class may or may not fit into your milieu. It would be perfect in a game inspired by Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores, but might seem out of place on the Purple Planet. Or not. It's your game.
L is for LEMURIAN: Another ape-themed class, this one being a man-ape with ancient memories but no overt psionics. Well, the picture shows a man-ape, but this could just as easily describe Brule the Spear-Slayer from Robert E. Howard's Kull stories, or some of the heroes of Lin Carter's more tongue-in-cheek Lemurian Cycle. The class is not complicated, clocking in at three pages. If your milieu includes ancient peoples in a primordial world, the Lemurians may do nicely.
M is for MONSTER TRAINER: Clearly inspired by Pokémon, this somewhat complicated class only takes three pages to describe. Unfortunately, the sample monsters from the Working Class Alphabet are not reproduced (so you had better get that as well...) but, then, anyone travelling in a DCC milieu is bound to encounter something worth catching.
Because of the obvious source of inspiration, this class might not fit into all milieus. However, the writing is good, and the class could fit into almost any game.
N is for NINJA VAMPIRE: You are a ninja. You are a vampire. It takes two pages to describe what this means, because, after all, "Ninja Vampire" is not a hard concept to grasp. Whether or not your character fits into a particular campaign milieu is another matter. This class is particularly appropriate appearing in the ruins of Seattle in an Umerican campaign.
O is for OGRE: You are an ogre. It isn't that complicated. Your class takes three pages to describe because you get your own special crit table. You get that table because you are big and you like to bite things. There are probably a lot of campaign milieus where you can't get seated in a tavern.
P is for PUPPET MASTER: This class casts spells and controls puppets, which makes it rather like the villain of A. Merritt's Burn, Witch, Burn! This is not very complicated, but takes 3 pages to describe because the puppets themselves must be described. This class could fit into most settings.
Q is for QUANTUM WANDERER: "You are misplaced in time and space — lost, marooned, or simply not where you started — but in any case, you come from a world very different to the primitive one you find yourself on now. Though it must be said these primitives do keep finding ways to surprise you with their inventiveness. You may be moving on as soon as your etheric beam emitter is working again and your towel is dry, or perhaps this is where you’ve decided to settle long term. Or you may be searching this world high and low, in hopes of finding a way back to where you belong..."
This class takes three pages to describe and assumes that the PC comes from an advanced future. Appendix N fiction is filled with modern people become embroiled in other worlds, be they the past of their own world, or other worlds such as Mars or Venus. Here we are more into Kang the Conqueror or Booster Gold territory.
R is for RO-BARD: This is a robot entertainer. Although the class uses standard DCC class metrics, this is clearly a class that would fit well into the Umerican setting. It might also fit well in Star Crawl, Phantasmagoria, or Crawljammer. Not overly complicated, the class takes 3 pages to describe.
S is for SLIMENOID: A simple, single-page class that is also not likely to be welcome in the average tavern. "Mucal invader, is there no end to your oozing?!" Strangely, though, I could see this class working in most campaign milieus. In some, the Slimenoid would be an anomaly, but in a Mutant Crawl Classics game? Slime on!
T is for TENACIOUS D-FENDER: This is a three-page class dedicated to Tenacious D - effectively a parody of a parody. Nonetheless, it is a playable class...although playing one will very likely affect the tone of the game.
U is for UBIQUARIAN: "Everyone has wished they could be in two places at once, but the ubiquarian actually can—and some can even be in up to sixteen places at once!" It's an interesting idea for a class, and one that could fit into a great many campaign milieus. The class is not overly complex, and takes up three pages including a table for Astral Mishaps. Probably more importantly, the rules allow the class to do some unique things - including providing advanced scouting - but it should not overwhelm the table.
W is for WOLF GIRL: "Bristling with primal energy, finely tuned to her territory, thriving on self-governance—the Wolf Girl is an unapologetic autarch, motivated by razor sharp instincts and a ferocious drive to survive. Her prevailing ideology is essentially solipsistic: preservation of self, and of the environs that sustain her. Threats to this paradigm are dispatched with swift brutality. Depending on her natural empathy, a Wolf Girl’s sense of self can expand to include friends and causes, which she will defend with exceptional displays of courage and sacrifice.
Wolf Girl has an inner wolf; she is a shifter, dominated by mood swings, focused anger, and unresolved trauma. Residing in the wild, she and her lupine companion are self-possessed, meditative, and stunningly savage.
A Wolf Girl might use her connection with the earth to craft potent medicines, bezoars, and alchemical components. She might also be a master of her physical reality: platforming buildings, deflecting gunfire, and lancing targets from hundreds of yards away. Wolf Girl’s origins and motivations differ as well. The Wolf Girl is a paragon of natural balance."
This is a magical female Mowgli which takes two pages to describe. The Wolf Girl would fit into most campaign milieus, but would excel at outdoor adventuring away from the confines of both the city and the dungeon.
X is for XENOCYTE: A two-page class that seems a bit Alien. There are game milieus into which this would fit (Star Crawl springs to mind), but I have a hard time imagining Xenocytes mingling in the tavern after an adventure, or carousing on the streets of Lankhmar.
Y is for YOUTHFUL MUSICIAN: "In every age, in every land, there have been those good souls who travel amongst the needy and who work to undo the machinations of evil. There is something about youth, exuberance, and transgressive music that stirs adolescence and young adults into travel and the championing of all that is good and right. Often, these foolhardy souls simply strive to right the wrongs caused by petty men and women against their neighbors, but every now and then they stymie the efforts of galaxy-spanning cults, supernatural beings, and weird entities from beyond the stars. They fight the good fight for the sheer reward of it, asking no recompense and wandering here and there living where the needs of Law might take them. They tend to attract weirdness of all kinds, and are frequently accompanied by talking animals, beneficent spirits, barmy obsolete robots, and all manner of other companions. Playing music is something of a side gig, or perhaps solving mysteries is the side gig - often there is no way to tell..."
This two-page class is inspired by Jeff Quick’s game Hijinx, appearing in Polyhedron #158. It is a joke class, like the Hot Dog Suit, which will definitely alter the tone of whatever game it appears in.
Z is for ZEALOT: The last class in the book is a two-page divine champion which is definitely promoting a single god. This should fit easily into most campaigns.
Appendices: The book also includes three appendixes. The first deals with esoteric rules and frequently asked questions. The second breaks down the classes into the in-game roles they fill. A discerning judge might reproduce the list from this chart to indicate which options are available in their game. An even more discerning judge might allow certain classes to become available as rewards for meeting certain Quest For It goals, or for playing through specific adventures. Finally, there is an appendix of resources, including an Alphabet of Game Worlds.
The Class Alphabet for DCC RPG introduces 26 NEW classes to your game. Each is fully playable from level 1 to 10, and there's a class for every letter of the alphabet! Within this book you will find a mythic proportion of options for any variety of game setting or playstyle. Every class has been lovingly handcrafted and lavishly illustrated by a team of gongfarming gamers from every corner of the globe. These classes will not only elevate your game to new heights of gonzo-infused frenzy, but will also inspire a multitude of ideas to help judges and players develop their own unique content.
Apes, robotic bards, quantum vagrants, shadow manipulators, monster trainers, puppet masters, ogres, dinosaurs, hellbound warriors, tenacious d-fenders, and gangs of goblins are JUST A FEW of the madcap character classes you'll discover inside. All completely illustrated with accompanying spells, crit tables, powers, and other bizarre tables of options.
Strap in, because your game is about to experience a paradigm shift and things may never again be the same!