Posted by : David Guyll November 13, 2014

Class Warfare is a third-party Dungeon World book that is intended to help you make new classes. It does this by categorizing "specialties" like caver, devoted, blue mage, poisoner, and arsenal into a number of archetypes: the adventurer, disciple, magician, rogue, and warrior. You make a new class by choosing an archetype, 2-3 specialties, then maybe do a bunch of tweaking until at a glance it looks good.

And I don't like it.

Taking it from the top, the layout is very minimalist (basically the same quality as Dungeon World), with everything being divided using various headers, but no colors, boxes, lines, etc. The art is also very inconsistent in terms of style and quality, sometimes even time period (I'm pretty sure everything but the cover is Creative Commons stuff).

In other words, probably what you've grown to expect from the "indie scene".

While there's a lot of moves, some are printed twice, some do very similar things, some are culled from other sources like Dungeon World and Grim World, and some are just really vague. Take the engineer's Mother of Invention: there's no mention of how long it takes to make the machine or what the limitations are; it just takes however long the GM thinks to build, and on a 10+ it just does...whatever the hell you designed it to do.

Even worse, there's no information on how to make your own moves, which would have been much, much more useful. This is why in both volumes of 10+ Treasures I put in an entire section on how to make your own magic items from scratch: it's one thing to sell people a big book of moves, but it would have been so, sooo much better if there were guidelines on how to approach and ultimately structure a move on your own.

There are a number of specialties that I couldn't see anyone using, especially in a typical Dungeon World game, like the fool, pilgrim, luminary, merchant, landed gentry, and shopkeeper. I mean, who wouldn't want to be able to roll+WIS to see if you have an item in stock? Fuck going into a dungeon, managing a store is where it's at! Hell, once you hit 6th-level you can even pick a move that lets you check your store for stuff that you shouldn't have.

Not sure why anyone would actually do this, and I have no idea why anyone would even choose this move, as in most cases it just puts you in some sort of nebulous trouble.

Earlier in the book he walks you through the process of creating a class, with the dust eater as an example. At the end he states that it "may not be the most clever, original, or cliche-busting class ever written", and that it "might have a little too much in common with the paladin".

This is a problem for two reasons. The first is that he really should be showcasing what this book can feasibly do. Opening with a somewhat re-skinned paladin doesn't really sell me on this book, but that also leads me to the second point: I can already tweak and do move swaps with ease. Why buy this book when I could just take the paladin and either shuffle the moves about, and tweak or write a few new ones until the paladin does what I want?

Case in point, my first Dungeon World character was a halfling fighter. After the first session the GM said fuck halflings and changed them to kobolds, so I became a kobold fighter. We were using Dungeons & Dragons kobolds, which meant that I had a kind of draconic ancestry. I decided that I would have hailed from red dragons, so had red scales, red dragon horns, and an affinity for fire. When I leveled up, I asked the GM if I could have some kind of ranged fire attack: we took the volley move, changed it to CHA, and put in an option to take -1 ongoing instead of losing ammo.

Simple and effective, and that was for second-session Dungeon World-ers.

Don't get me wrong: I'm sure there are some gems scattered about, and maybe it's just more useful for the typical player, rather than someone who spends a good deal of time designing classes and moves from scratch. That's a good way to sum this up: it's not for me. I don't see myself ever using it, not even as a source of inspiration, but with the $16 price tag I can't even recommend it for the casual player who might want to try something new that just barely extends beyond swapping and tweaking moves that you can find in the Dungeon World book (or even online).

If you are genuinely interested in making classes, compendium classes, or moves, I would pass on this and spend the time actually designing your own stuff. Get feedback from people and keep challenging yourself: you'll only get better over time, and you'll be able to crank out quality stuff a lot quicker (all told The Vampire only took about a week). Honestly I think that if anything this book is more of a crutch, and hope that people passionate about writing and designing don't just resort to slapping a bunch of moves together and calling it a class.

{ 4 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. Sounds like an honest review with some fairly valid points, but I have no read the book yet.

    I think Dungeon World would benefit immensely from some sort of 'Class Creation' book with solid, balanced, well-thought out rules.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree! I've written some posts on building a class. I wonder if people would buy a book that has lots of advice on move, class, and compendium class creation...

    Hrmm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think a book that included a bunch of well designed classes and rules/suggestions on how to make your own would indeed sell.

      Delete
    2. @John: Okay okay, I'll add it to "The List"!

      Delete

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