GLOSS #1 – Reskinning DCC Demi-human Classes

The Dungeon Crawl Classics game includes seven character classes. Four are intended for humans, the Cleric, Thief, Warrior, and Wizard, and one each is provided for the Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. Each class is distinct and has its own abilities and playstyle.  In campaigns intended to emulate the feel of classic Sword & Sorcery tales, however, the Judge may rule that non-human characters might be rare to nonexistent.

What happens, then, if a player wants to have a character that uses the mechanics of an elf or a dwarf? The classes are all designed to work together in a campaign, and each has its own set of specialties and quirks. The good news is, it’s pretty easy to just change the minor details of a class to make it work for a human character. Conversely, it’s also easy to adapt a human class to allow for, for example, a dwarf wizard.

Using Demihuman Classes as Human Classes

Adapting a demi-human class as a human class is a fairly straightforward process. This article isn’t the first such conversion, either; the adventure Death Slaves of Eternity from Purple Duck Games has some suggestions as well. Unlike the suggestions presented in that module, however, our take retains the original class names.


Dwarf

You are an expert combatant, one whose puissant skill at arms is so great it literally dwarfs those of lesser fighters. Even more so than a Warrior, you rely on special tricks and techniques to subdue your foes, and your skill with using a shield as a secondary weapon is legendary. Almost as famous as your skill in combat is your mercenary love of coin and treasure.

To create a human Dwarf, use the information in the DCC Core Rulebook with the following changes:

  • Omit the Infravision section
  • Omit the Slow section
  • Rename Underground Skills as Mercenary Engineering.
  • Dwarven is no longer a racial language, but a military slang similar to Thieves’ Cant.

ELF

You are a member of a skilled and highly trained group known as the Elite Legerdemainist Force, frequently shortened to ELF. You combine skill at arms with the power of magic, reaching out to and making pacts with barely knowable entities far beyond ordinary mortal ken.

These pacts extend an ELF’s lifespan to an unnatural degree, and also alters the ELF’s physiology. The changes provide the ELF with certain advantages, but also makes the ELF highly sensitive to different materials. While sensitivity to iron is most common, an ELF might instead find themselves vulnerable to other substances, as described on the table below.  

To create a human ELF, use the information in the DCC Core Rulebook with the following changes:

  • You keep only one of the following abilities (your choice): Infravision, Immunities, or Hightened Senses. The chosen ability functions as described in the Core Rulebook, and results from the physiological change you experience in addition to your Vulnerability. At the Judge’s option, you might keep all three abilities.
  • Vulnerabilities: While sensitivity to iron is the most common side effect experienced by an ELF, it is not the only possibility. To determine your Vulnerability, roll on Table 1 or choose one of the options*. Prolonged contact with the material causes 1 hp of damage per day as described in the Core Rulebook.

* At the Judge’s discretion, you might be vulnerable to more ephemeral material such as sunlight, torch/candlelight, or mist. Such vulnerability is more challenging to adjudicate, however, and we advise great caution in allowing or using such options.

  • Elven is no longer a racial language, but a secret lingo similar to Thieves’ Cant. You may decide that each patron has its own dialect, and an ELF can only meaningfully communicate with another who shares their patron.


Halfling

Your lineage is intertwined with the essence of shadows and trickery, providing you with the ability to perform feats of dexterity and skullduggery beyond the ability of others. Supernaturally lucky and possessing an ability to wield a weapon in each hand with great skill, you often choose to strike from the shadows, harrying your foe with swift viciousness.

To create a human Halfling, use the information in the DCC Core Rulebook with the following changes:

  • Omit the Infravision section
  • Omit the Small Size section
  • Omit the Slow section
  • Add the following ability: Shadow Step (see sidebar)*. You can use this ability once per day per Halfling level.
  • Halfling is no longer a racial language, but a pidgin slang similar to Thieves’ Cant. At the Judge’s option, a Halfling learn just learn Thieves’ Cant instead.

*the Shadow Step ability is not very “low-magic,” which while not being the same as Sword & Sorcery is very commonly tied to it, and some might argue it isn’t very Sowrd & Sorcery flavored either. But it is super cool and not too powerful. In our playtests, the ability allows characters a bit more mobility and is very thematic; it didn’t imbalance anything. YMMV.


Allowing Demi-human Characters to take Human Classes

Conversely to the options above, you may wish to allow a Dwarf, Elf, or Halfling to take one of the classes normally reserved for humans. While this option won’t necessarily work in all Sword & Sorcery style campaigns, groups may wish to allow it to provide more flexibility in character design.

Racial Ability vs. Class Ability

Allowing Demi-human characters to take the four human classes fundamentally changes the nature of the term “class” in DCC, by creating a distinction between a character’s race or lineage and their character type. This approach is a radical shift in approach, but can provide rewarding options for groups who wish to try it out.

Simply put, a Demi-human who takes a human class operates the same as a human character in that class, except that the demi-human has its racial abilities in addition to the abilities of the class. For the purposes of creating such a character, each Demi-human retains the following qualities as racial traits:

Dwarf Racial Traits:

  • Infravision
  • Slow
  • Underground Skills
  • At 1st level, a dwarf automatically knows the dwarven racial language in addition to any other languages provided by the character’s class or Intelligence modifier.
  • Dwarves tend toward a Lawful alignment regardless of their character class.

Elf Racial Traits:

  • Supernatural Patrons
  • Infravision
  • Immunities
  • Vulnerability (at the Judge’s option, an elf character may roll or choose a different vulnerability from Table 1, above).
  • Heightened Senses
  • At 1st level, an elf automatically knows the Elven racial language in addition to any other languages provided by the character’s class or Intelligence modifier.
  • Elves tend toward Chaotic and Neutral alignments regardless of their character class.

Halfling Racial Traits:

  • Infravision
  • Small size
  • Slow
  • Good Luck Charm
  • At 1st level, a halfling automatically knows the Halfling racial language in addition to any other languages provided by the character’s class or Intelligence modifier.
  • Halflings tend toward Lawful and Neutral alignments regardless of their character class.
     

Human Racial Traits

Demi-humans have a host of advantages over human characters when combining their racial abilities with the standard human character classes. To counterbalance these abilities, consider providing human characters with one of the following abilities:

  • Fast Learner. The character gains one bonus experience point per encounter when XP is awarded. Be aware that this means human characters will generally be higher level than Demi-humans in the party.
  • More Skilled.To compete with Demi-humans, only the best and brightest humans can make it as adventurers. Add 1 point to the Ability Score of your choice when you create a Human character.
  • Diverse Lineage. Human ancestries are wide and diverse, with many branches. Choose one racial trait from the Demi-human options above. A character who takes Immunities from the Elf Racial Traits list must also take Vulnerability from the same list.

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