A background (also known as a class) is your character's occupation, what they have learned prior to entering the Dungeon. Your background determines your starting skills, stats, items, and (in the case of religious backgrounds) your god.
Backgrounds & Difficulty
As one might expect, some backgrounds are easier than others, at least to begin with. The best ones for a beginner are probably berserkers or fighters. Berserkers have an easy early time with their berserk ability. If you would rather play a mage, try a conjurer.
Note also that almost every species can and should convert to a god in-play, once you find that god's altar. Indeed, a guaranteed area - the Ecumenical Temple - was designed to facilitate exactly this strategy. Many gods do not have backgrounds to represent them, so you may decide it best to pick a non-religious background so that you will be free to join one of the "non-starter" gods.
Classes in Crawl
An important difference between Crawl and most other roguelikes (and indeed other video game RPGs) is that your background is only your starting package, not an advancement path that is set in stone.
Crawl was designed to give you a lot of flexibility with how your character develops as they grow, and it does this by giving you a free hand to distribute your experience between your skills however you see fit. Your chosen class has no direct impact on this; it only gives you a starting point to move forward from. Your choice of species, however, will make certain skills easier to learn than others, and your class does determine your starting stats which make certain play styles more viable than others.
For example, your fighter could potentially learn spells until they look more like a wizard, build up their Stealth and Stabbing until they're basically an assassin... or just keep bashing monsters and wearing heavy armour and making your fighter a more talented fighter. As a fighter, your high strength may not contribute as much to these alternate paths as high intelligence or dexterity would, but the choice is there.
List of backgrounds
There are 24 different backgrounds in Dungeon Crawl (plus obsolete backgrounds). More information can be found at the pages for the individual backgrounds. They are broken up here into the categories shown on the initial select screen.
- Fighter (Fi) - A heavily-armoured warrior with a good general grounding in melee combat.
- Gladiator (Gl) - A warrior from the arena who has a good balance between melee and ranged combat.
- Monk (Mo) - An ascetic warrior who starts off with limited equipment, but their pious ways make the gods look favourably upon them.
- Hunter (Hu) - A warrior who specializes in long-range weaponry.
- Assassin (As) - A killer who favours stealth and poison over brute force.
- Berserker (Be) - A savage warrior who worships Trog, the violent god of rage.
- Abyssal Knight (AK) - A warrior-priest of Lugonu, the god of corruption and chaos.
- Chaos Knight (CK) - A warrior-priest of Xom, an unpredictable and fickle chaos god.
- Skald (Sk) - A war-chanting fighter using Charms to augment their attacks.
- Enchanter (En) - A spellcaster versed in the subtle arts of Hexes.
- Transmuter (Tm) - A magician whose Transmutations can change both themselves and those around them.
- Arcane Marksman (AM) - A hunter who combines enchantments and missiles to deadly effect.
- Warper (Wr) - A warrior who uses Translocations magic to move around the battlefield.
- Wizard (Wz) - A broadly-educated magician who does not specialize in any one school of magic.
- Conjurer (Cj) - A magician who wields the destructive art of Conjurations.
- Summoner (Su) - A magician who calls allies through Summonings.
- Necromancer (Ne) - A magician who studies the dark arts of Necromancy.
- Fire Elementalist (FE) - An elementalist who specializes in Fire Magic.
- Ice Elementalist (IE) - An elementalist who specializes in Ice Magic.
- Air Elementalist (AE) - An elementalist who specializes in Air Magic.
- Earth Elementalist (EE) - An elementalist who specializes in Earth Magic.
- Venom Mage (VM) - A spellcaster who specializes in Poison Magic.
- Artificer (Ar) - An Evocations specialist armed with wands and rods.
- Wanderer (Wn) - A fool that somehow ended up in the Dungeon. Starts off with random equipment and skills.
Prior to 0.14, most backgrounds started with 20 gold.
- Death Knight (DK) - A warrior-priest of Yredelemnul, the god of death. Removed in 0.16.
- Healer (He) - A pacifistic worshipper of Elyvilon, the god of healing. Removed in 0.16.
- Priest (Pr) - A priest of order. They worship either Zin the Law-Giver, or Beogh if a Hill Orc. Removed in 0.13.
- Paladin (Pa) - A warrior who worships The Shining One, a god of holy war. Removed in 0.8.
- Reaver (Re) - A warrior who uses Conjurations to bolster their destructiveness. Removed in 0.8.
- Stalker (St) - An assassin who uses Transmutations magic to kill victims. Removed in 0.12.
- Thief (Th) - A sneaky type, well versed in the working of traps and moving unseen. Removed in 0.7.
|Warriors||Fighter • Gladiator • Monk • Hunter • Assassin|
|Zealots||Berserker • Abyssal Knight • Chaos Knight|
|Warrior-mages||Skald • Enchanter • Transmuter • Arcane Marksman • Warper|
|Mages||Wizard • Conjurer • Summoner • Necromancer • Fire Elementalist • Ice Elementalist • Air Elementalist • Earth Elementalist • Venom Mage|
|Adventurers||Artificer • Wanderer|