ADCC: Deed-Based Warrior Subclasses

That’s Advanced Dungeon Crawl Classics (ADCC) – credit for the acronym goes to Ryan Colby.

A while back I posted my take on the Ranger for DCC, inspired by Crawl! Fanzine #6, which also featured DCC versions of the paladin, bard, and gnome. I’ve actually had someone just start playing a ranger in my game, and I’m already seeing some problems. I’m not sure that the problems are with my own design (though they could be). The thing is, the ranger as a separate class is really dependent on the style of play to have value at the table. If there’s lots of dungeon crawling going on and the monsters don’t fit the favored enemy, then the class seems like it kind of sucks compared to the others.

More than that, though, DCC has really brought me around to seeing the simple elegance of the four basic classes for humans (it’s also really brought me around on race as class, as I’ve mentioned before). And it occurred to me last Friday morning, as I was pouring my coffee and about to leave for work, that there’s a simpler way to add rangers, paladins, barbarians and the like to DCC with more mechanics than just role-playing but less than a separate class. And that way is through my most favorite of DCC rules, the Mighty Deed of Arms.

To make this work, warriors have a “subclass” (hence the ADCC designation). The subclass can either be picked by the player at 1st level, or the judge can predetermine which occupations lead to specific warrior subclasses. As an example, the judge might decide that hunters, trappers, and woodcutters who become warriors all have the ranger subclass. The mechanics of the subclass provide the warrior with the ability to use the deed die in a way other warriors can’t. In some cases this could be a deed in the traditional sense only that subclass can use, or it could be use of the deed die in conjunction with certain skill or ability checks. In the interest of balance, either all warriors have a subclass or warriors that have a subclass only get d10 hit dice (the latter suggested by Raskal).

Continuing with the ranger as example, members of that subclass could add their deed die to any wilderness-related skill check (tracking, setting snares, finding food and water) as well as to ability checks to sneak and climb. Not only does this make the character inherently more likely to succeed, but it provides the judge with a simple way to gauge degree of success. Let’s say a normal skill check against DC 15 allows a character in the wilderness to find enough food and water for one day. If the ranger succeeds at the skill check but the deed die fails (is less than 3), the same occurs, but if the deed die comes up 3 or higher the character would find more provisions based on the result.

Below are a few subclasses and their deeds. Even if you opt for the version where all warriors have subclasses, I would strongly encourage any judge implementing this to not get too hooked on the idea of tying every new deed you think of into a subclass – one of the main points here is that you’re introducing mechanical variety while still preserving the flexibility of the DCC warrior. Oh, and none of this has been play tested.

Barbarian: These warriors add their deed die to all ability score checks related to feats of physical prowess. Strength checks to bend bars, Agility checks to climb a craggy cliff face, and Stamina checks to remain conscious after dozens of ales are all examples. This would also apply to any opposed Strength check, such as grappling or breaking free of a monster’s grip.

Fighter: I’m including this for the scenario where all warriors have a subclass. I think a good fit here is to give fighters exclusive access to the Cleave deed; after all, being able to take out multiple 1HD or less foes has been a hallmark of the fighter since very early in the D&D tradition. However, having seen my earlier take on Cleave in play, I think I am going to modify it to be closer to Reverend Dak’s inspirational Minion Massacre deed. When the Cleave deed is successful and the warrior kills their target, they don’t roll another attack. Rather, any damage from the first attack in excess of what was needed to kill the target can be applied to another target in melee, continuing on until there isn’t enough damage left to kill a foe. Any damage applied to an enemy with a superior AC to the initial target is lost.

Paladin: These warriors can provide minor healing, in the form of the Succor deed. The warrior makes a Personality check utilizing the deed die (DC 15 for the same alignment, DC 20 for adjacent). If the deed is successful, the paladin heals a number of HP equal to the deed die plus their Personality bonus. In addition, they may also perform the Smite Evil deed against unholy creatures. When this deed succeeds, the paladin adds twice the result of the deed die to the damage roll along with their Personality bonus. Notably, they don’t add their deed die to skill checks involving religious knowledge – the gods aren’t paying these guys to think.

Ranger: As noted, rangers add their deed die to all skill checks related to the wilderness and wilderness lore, as well as to ability checks to climb and sneak.

Samurai: Paul Wolfe already tackled this here, you should download it.

Swashbucklers: Provided they are wearing no armor and not wielding a shield, these warriors add the result of their deed die to their AC every round as they do to their attack roll and damage roll. This doesn’t count as a Mighty Deed of Arms, rather it is in addition to any other deed they might attempt.

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4 Responses to ADCC: Deed-Based Warrior Subclasses

  1. raskal October 15, 2013 at 2:26 am #

    Excellent ! This ADCC open so much ways
    – Knight : add deed die when interacting with commoner (intimidation) or noble (etiquette)
    – Bounty-hunter : add deed die for gathering information and grappling

  2. Doug Pirko October 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    I love this, I tried my hand at a couple Dwarf sub-classes.

  3. Venger Satanis October 17, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Yeah, this is a really cool way of handling all the subtle variations on the warrior class. Why not do the same with wizards, clerics, etc?

    • John Carr October 17, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      Thanks! I think DCC wizards are pretty well-served by patrons and the arcane affinity spell as-is, so my personal intent is to leave them be.

      As far as clerics, my series of articles on DCC cleric sort of touches on this in parts 2 and 3 where I propose variant rules for Chaos clerics.

      I actually posted on G+ that thieves are ripe for this treatment, though. As written, they basically already have 3 subclasses in the paths, just remove the alignment part and let PCs pick their path at 1st level.

      From there, I could easily see new paths: Path of the Acrobat, Path of the Bard, Path of the Spy …

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