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Version 0.27: This article is up to date for the latest stable release of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

A background (also known as a class) is your character's occupation, i.e. 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 game with Trog's berserk ability. Fighters enter the dungeon equipped with better-than-average weapon and armour, including a shield. If you would rather play a mage, try a conjurer.

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 background 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 background helps determine your starting stats, perhaps making certain play styles more viable than others.

For example, your Fighter could potentially learn spells until they look more like a Hedge Wizard, build up their Stealth and Stabbing until they're basically a Brigand... or just keep bashing monsters, wearing heavy armour, and becoming 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 currently 24 different backgrounds in Dungeon Crawl (plus several obsolete backgrounds that were removed in previous versions). More information can be found on the pages for each individual background. 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 strikes 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.
  • Brigand (Br) - 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 follower of Lugonu, the god of corruption and chaos. Begins the game in the Abyss, but always near an exit.
  • Chaos Knight (CK) - A warrior-priest of Xom, an unpredictable and fickle chaos god.




  • Artificer (Ar) - An Evocations specialist armed with several wands.
  • Wanderer (Wn) - A fool that somehow ended up in the Dungeon. Starts off with randomized equipment and skills.
  • Delver (De) - A bold explorer that carries several useful tools, but begins their journey on the 5th floor of the Dungeon.

Obsolete Backgrounds

  • Skald (Sk) - A war-chanting fighter using Charms to augment their attacks. Removed in 0.26.
  • 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 crusades against evil. 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.

See Also

Warriors FighterGladiatorMonkHunterBrigand
Zealots BerserkerAbyssal KnightChaos Knight
Warrior-mages EnchanterTransmuterArcane MarksmanWarper
Mages Hedge WizardConjurerSummonerNecromancerFire ElementalistIce ElementalistAir ElementalistEarth ElementalistVenom Mage
Adventurers ArtificerWandererDelver