Okay, big Compendium Class Discussion.

Okay, big Compendium Class Discussion.

Okay, big Compendium Class Discussion. 

Hello tavernites, 

please tell me about your experiences with Compendium Classes in your games. 

Do you know what they are? If not, please tell us and we will help you.

Do you use them? IF yes, which one and why? 

If not, then why not? 

Is finding the right one the problem? Do you thin k the mechanics don’t match exactly what you want or are triggers just to specific and weird? 

I feel like writing a trigger condition is at least part of the CC power level. 

Having something like “if you are an Elf” is probarbly not as powerful/useful as a class that required you to “sleep in a bath made out of the blood of the 8 ancient dragons”. 

However, writing a CC with this trigger will do nothing for 80% of the games because

1. most people don’t have 8 ancient dragons

2. most characters probarbly won’t kill all of them

Therefore you should approach the trigger condition of a Compendium Class with a grain of salt. If you think the mechanic and thematics match your game but the trigger condition could never happen in your game then change it to something matching. 


That is maybe one of the most important parts of writing Compendium Classes, writing triggers that are thematic enough to make sense for the class but are also archievable in a broad amount of games. 

Next point; 

do you telegraph that there are compendium classes that you think are “legal” for your game or do players have to stumble into them? Some CC make total sense for that, these things that link to specific actions in game that could happen to everyone (like surviving a deadly threat by dumn luck) and you should not telegraph them, otherwise it might lead to werd behaviour at the table. Others require specific actions that most people maybe don’t even think about. Like making a pact with the elemental spirits. 

So how do you handle this at your table? 

Do you allow Compendium Class entry by backstory, therefore allowing access at Level 2 (1?) ? 

Anything else you want to talk about concerning this topic?

19 thoughts on “Okay, big Compendium Class Discussion.”

  1. I currently have 3 characters who entered in a CC, and a fourth who doesn’t but it’s worth mentioning.

    1) the thief started the game as the ex-guildleader (without knowing anything about CCs in general) of the local thieves guild. He regained his status exactly at the same time he leveled up. I just said “thief, my friend, you really want to enter the guildleader CC”. He agreed and that’s all.

    2) the fighter downloaded the italian translation of some CCs and fell in love with the Bearer. We arranged the following session to have him meet the trigger condition (an easy thing, since his hammer is a legacy from his super-blacksmith grandfather).

    3) the paladin started with a strong, original and well-defined background, being the Guardian of Infinity, a mesh up between avatar aang and green lantern. We created the Guadian of Infinity CC together even before the game started: he said what cool powers he should have the potential to develop and I wrote the moves (about 6 moves in total). The trigger condition was to have his holy symbol (a dormant, magical Lantern inherited by the previous guardian) to be reactivated by a pure of heart, which happened in the very first session.

    4) the wizard belongs to an important magical order, became a high-ranked member after a few sessions, and developed unique, thematic spells, but still we didn’t find the need to build a CC for him because he could obtain everything he needed with rituals and normal class moves.

  2. I’m starting a campaign soon and I’m giving out CCs at the beginning of the game. It’s an idea based on the campaign concept. The characters are all prisoners and each has a CC based on the crime of which he or she is accused.

  3. That sounds brilliant, Rory, definitely like to see!

    I really starting with CCs right away;  #Pirateworld essentially formalises starting with a compendium class by calling them Backgrounds, and using them to replace the current character backgrounds. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s how it works in practice!

    I’ve filled the Pirateworld book with 20 (at the last count) Backgrounds; good thing is that they’re so easy to write and focused that it’s great fun to do!

  4. AS I see it there are two possibilities: 1) Tell the players what to do to achieve the trigger, as a quest or something. 2) Write taylormade CC’s for triggers that happened in your campaign.

    3) Take CC’s you like and rewrite the triggers to fit your campaign. 

    (And  as I said, there are three types of people: Those who can count and those who can’t)

  5. I like a mix of all three options there! I personally love re-writing everything to fit. For example, I’m playing in a goblin game on the SomethingAwful forums, and had a blast re-skinning the Alchemist as hallucinogenic mushroom eater.

  6. Sure! Backgrounds are basically aimed at making more developed characters. The core mechanical difference is that you start with one, and the move progression; the one thing I don’t like about Compendium Classes is that they actually limit your character’s development by taking up the same Level Up slot, so I’ve got rid of that requirement.

    Now players move through a Background class through an End of Session question, essentially:

    “did I significantly expand on my background?”

    This can be character development through using their Background moves in game, or  fictional development; for example talking about your character’s past. It’s all aimed at getting players to explore and develop their characters.

    There is actually already a provision to do this in Dungeon World (the GM can award moves in game), but I’ve not really seen this happen and would prefer to see it as a formal mechanic for character development.

    Backgrounds also tend to be fairly focused and (most) are designed to be non-unique, so a party involving people with backstories on ships could have a Swashbuckling Alchemist and a Swashbuckling Fanatic (though there’s so much choice that’s unlikely).

    Phew, that’s a bit more than I’d intended to write!

  7. If you do go for Compendium Class moves then you sacrifice getting more moves from your main character class.

    It’s often too difficult to choose between an awesome compendium class and moves in your base class!

    It hurts 🙁

  8. Personally i would never use a pre-done CC.. If I´m a player i would develope it ith my GM, if I´m the GM I would tailor it to the exact situation ingame. It´s just different to have “your own and unique” CC or the one downloaded from the internet. 

  9. James Hawthorne The way I would get around that is by increasing the level cap from 10 to 15 if you take a CC. Though I would still stop giving out stat-ups after 10, as per Sage’s suggestion in a prior thread.

    I like your idea about Backgrounds as CC’s. I might steal that idea.

  10. Sure thing, go for it! I’d love to see wt you create, and I’ll be releasing preview rules of the Background syatem next week to get people involved in makimg their own!

    I’ll be giving the Background section as an advance PDF to backers shortly before / after the kickstarter ends in a month, before it gets illustrated and folded into the full book. The Hirelings section will also get a similar exclusive advance release. Backgrounds will include the solid rules and 20+ starter backgrounds. I’d love to get it formally added as a system for DW that people can totally do their own thing with, and reckon a codified release in a hardback book is a good way to go about that.

  11. David Guyll Yeah, it is the “trap options” that I dislike the most.

    There’s nothing wrong with James Hawthorne’s train of thought though. Moves can be handed out to players just as treasure can, when appropriate.

    You can even make moves that are a kind of like treasure, if you want. You could write something like:

    “When you touch the Ruby Skull of Borgos, it bestows its power upon you and crumbles. You get immediately get the following move…”

    Basically, this is a “treasure move”

  12. Noticed this (old) thread and thought I’d throw in my recent experiences.

    First, I do have a hard time finding any kind of thorough list of compendium classes, so that makes it difficult to have a prepared list of trigger conditions that players can use to earn them.

    Second, so far I’ve felt like the players’ actions often suggest a new compendium class concept that’s specific to the campaign and the player. For example, while fighting an elven lich, a ghost player decided to jump into the lich’s magical glowing sarcophagus. He came out with some on-the-fly special moves to dissipate his newfound magical energy, but we later added a compendium class to let the experience have long-term effects.

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