So here is a thing i threw together.
I wanted to get to a “best practises – compendium classes”
Am i wrong in any of this? Am i missing something? Who do you deal with compendium classes in your game? Present everything available totally open in the beginning? Keep it all close to the vest?
Compendium Classes – How to use
A compendium class is a class only available to higher level characters who meet specific requirements. They’re called compendium classes because they first appeared in the Compendiums for Dungeon World Basic. A compendium class is the way to go for a concept that can be layered onto multiple other classes. “
Dungeon World p. 349
But that doesn’t really tells us how to use them in the game. How to present them to players and what happens if a player doesn’t pick the class.
For me there are different kind of Compendium Classes. There are Classes like the Warden, the Gambler of Souls or the Ghostwalker that make really specific assumptions about your Dungeon World. When you include the Gambler of Souls then there is a weird Soulgambling Tournament going on somewhere. If you include the Ghostwalker then you should have Ghosts be important in your adventures. So be prepared to make those adjustments to your game.
Also think about showing these Classes and how one could enter them to your players when they pick classes. Tell them so that they can make stat choices that will later fit and mold their character to be one that would take the class. Listen to your players if they say oohhh and aahh about specific classes – they probably want to play that as fast as they can. Don’t deny that to them – be a fan and offer them opportunities. Maybe they are already part of an Order of Ghosthunters and experienced members are rumored to be able to turn into ghosts themselves. Use hooks like this to anchor the Compendium Class into the fiction.
Keeping them secret from your players will probably mean that they never stumble upon the Class and nobody wants that.
But here is the catch, sometimes, keeping a Compendium Class secret and unlocking them through play can be really cool. These are the second kind.
Look at the Karmic Shaper. There is a sense of achievement in unlocking it for your character and you can only do it by accident (a savvy player can of course maneuver himself into a fitting position but in the fiction you just stumble into it). When a player has met the requirements just tell him that there is a Class he can now use and what it can do. He can think about it when he levels up the next time.
“Tell them the consequences and ask” – now this is a useful move for such a situation too. Telling a player that there is a price waiting for him if he only does X right now is a cool carrot to dangle in front of them. “The old owner of the seven square holes is dying in your arms. If you can convince him to hand you his bar, there is a compendium class waiting for you”. Or “Of course that artifact is dangerous and devours souls but if you pick it up you will be able to access cool new moves no one else can”.
So here is what i do at the table.
#1 Look at all the Compendium Classes available to you and choose which ones are fitting with your beliefs about the game and your sense of cool and wonder.
#2 Present those with more esoteric or involved entrance requirements to your players when you start to play.
#3 Point them at additional ones when they unlock them.
and, most importantly #4
Look at what your players are doing with their character and if it might be an interesting theme to spin into new moves and offer them compendium classes directly fitting with their characters. Write them up (share them online) and present them to your players the next time you play. Heck, maybe they even allready qualify for some of them because of the actions they take.
Use Compendium Classes to flesh out the world and the characters so you all can be even greater fans of them.