ADOM Guidebook

Races, classes and their combination

0.1.1 General characteristics

A list of the races can be found in the ADOM manual. It also gives a bit of background about each, much of which is flavor and irrelevant in terms of gameplay.

Each race has unique characteristics including initial alignment, trained skills and modifiers to attributes. Skills in ADOM vary in terms of availability. All PCs are born with Climbing, First Aid, Haggling and Listening. All PCs other than Beastfighters and Barbarians with a Learning score of 10 or greater are born with Literacy. Many skills can be taught or trained by various NPCs during the game. Other skills are much more difficult to obtain if the PC is not born with them. Skills other than Alertness and Healing can be wished for. Any skill can be obtained from a potion of education, but this is a matter of random chance and cannot be counted on. Skills available only from wishes or potions of education are referred to as "Nonguaranteed Skills" for the sake of the tables below. The first table shows the starting alignment and trained skills that each race is born with.

RaceInitial alignmentGuaranteed or NPC-available SkillsNonguaranteed Skills
DrakelingNeutralSwimmingAlertness, Food Preservation, Music
DwarfLawfulClimbing, Detect Traps, SmithingMetallurgy, Mining
Dark ElfChaoticClimbing, StealthAlertness, Find Weakness
Gray ElfNeutralListening, Literacy, StealthDodge
High ElfLawfulListening, Literacy, StealthDodge
GnomeNeutralListening, Pick PocketsGemology, Mining, Ventriloquism
HumanNeutralClimbing, Haggling, SwimmingFood Preservation
HurthlingLawfulStealthArchery, Cooking, Food Preservation, Gardening
OrcChaoticBackstabbing, ClimbingFind Weakness, Metallurgy, Mining
TrollChaoticBridge BuildingAthletics, Food Preservation, Gemology, Mining

The ADOM manual also contains a list of the classes along with their characteristics and class powers. A table similar to that above showing the trained skills each class is born with:

ClassGuaranteed or NPC-available SkillsNonguaranteed Skills
ArcherClimbing, Listening, StealthAlertness, Archery, Concentration, Dodge, Fletchery
AssassinBackstabbing, Climbing, Detect Traps, Pick Locks, Stealth, Two Weapon CombatAlchemy, Alertness, Archery, Dodge, Find Weakness
BarbarianClimbing, First Aid, Herbalism, Stealth, Swimming, Two Weapon CombatAthletics, Dodge, Survival, Woodcraft
BardNone guaranteedMusic
BeastfighterClimbing, Healing, Herbalism, Listening, Stealth, SwimmingAthletics, Dodge, Survival
DruidClimbing, First Aid, Healing, Herbalism, Listening, Literacy, SwimmingConcentration, Gardening, Survival, Woodcraft
ElementalistClimbing, Healing, Listening, Literacy, SwimmingConcentration, Gemology, Metallurgy
FarmerBridge Building, First Aid, Haggling, Herbalism, Smithing, StealthArchery, Cooking, Fletchery, Food Preservation, Gardening, Survival, Woodcraft
FighterStealth, Swimming, Two Weapon CombatAthletics, Archery, Dodge, Find Weakness, Metallurgy
HealerFirst Aid, Healing, Herbalism, LiteracyAlertness, Concentration, Cooking, Find Weakness
MerchantHaggling, Herbalism, Literacy, Pick PocketsAppraising, Detect Item Status, Gemology, Metallurgy, Survival (Merchants who specialize in magical potions also receive Alchemy)
MindcrafterHaggling, Herbalism, Literacy, StealthConcentration, Gemology, Music
MonkHealing, Literacy, StealthAlertness, Athletics, Concentration, Dodge, Find Weakness
NecromancerHerbalism, Literacy, StealthAlchemy, Appraising, Concentration, Find Weakness, Food Preservation, Necromancy
PaladinHealing, Law (if lawful initially), Literacy, Stealth, Swimming, Two Weapon CombatAthletics, Concentration, Dodge
PriestFirst Aid, Healing, Herbalism, LiteracyConcentration, Detect Item Status, Music
RangerClimbing, Healing, Herbalism, Swimming, Two Weapon CombatAlertness, Archery, Athletics, Dodge, Food Preservation, Survival, Woodcraft
ThiefBackstabbing, Climbing, Detect Traps, Disarm Traps, Listening, Pick Locks, Pick Pockets, StealthAlertness, Appraising
WeaponsmithDetect Traps, Haggling, SmithingAppraising, Athletics, Concentration, Find Weakness, Metallurgy
WizardHealing, Herbalism, Literacy, StealthAlchemy, Concentration, Ventriloquism

The manual also states that Bards get more skills than other classes. Testing does not agree with this. What the manual fails to mention is the two free skill advances per level Bards receive. This is useful for races that have low initial Learning scores, such as orcs and trolls.

There are definite effects on gameplay depending on the alignment, skills and birthsign the PC is born with. Note that none of the races is born with the Healing skill; it is entirely class-dependent. Nine classes are born with Healing. It is essential to obtain this skill. This means that those without it must choose Rynt's quest as opposed to Guth'Alak's in Terinyo, whether they intend to actually obtain the skill from Jharod or Kranf Niest. This puts restrictions on the game right away, since the Keethrax quest and thus a guaranteed artifact and potion of cure corruption are forfeited before the game even starts. Further, three races start with chaotic alignment. If the PC wants to receive Healing from Jharod, thus avoiding Kranf Niest's stat drains, alignment must be changed to neutral (or lawful).

Note also that no race starts with Herbalism, the other skill available through a Terinyo quest. If the player wants maximum flexibility - to do either Rynt's or Guth'Alak's quest, or neither (in the case of a minimalist challenge game) - choose a class that starts with Healing, Herbalism, or ideally both, such as a Beastfighter, Druid, Healer, Priest, Ranger or Wizard.

If there is a skill that is difficult to obtain that you cannot live without, such as Alertness, play a dark elf or drakeling, or choose a class that is born with it - Archers, Assassins, Healers, Monks, Rangers and Thieves all start with this skill. Many players feel similarly about Detect Item Status - play Priests or a Merchant for a challenge.

A PC that trains a given skill due to both race and class will be especially proficient with that skill. This makes certain combinations especially powerful. Dwarven Weaponsmiths (doubly trained Metallurgy and Smithing), Hurthling Archers (doubly trained Archery), Hurthling Farmers (doubly trained Archery, Cooking, Food Preservation, Gardening, Stealth) and Dark Elven Rangers (doubly trained Alertness and Climbing) are examples.

The following table was generated directly from the executable. Remember that 10 is regarded as an average attribute. It gives a general idea of which races and classes receive bonuses or penalties to each attribute at the start of the game:

Race starting attributes:
Dark Elf910121597121613+13
Gray Elf1013101478181514+19
High Elf1013915810141314+16

Class starting attributes:

The ADOM manual gives some hints about race/class combinations. For instance, the manual identifies trolls as the strongest, toughest and stupidest race in the game and suggests that they make good fighters (because of their strength and toughness) and lousy magicians (because of their low learning and mana). This is true as far as it goes, but trollish wizards can be a viable combination if they are played more as fighters to start and later develop their magical talents. Elves make fantastic wizards (due to their high learning and mana) once they gain some experience, but are difficult to keep alive in the early game because of their low toughness. Humans are a jack of all trades race and can be used with all classes. Some combinations favored by newsgroup readers:

Trollish beastfighters and barbarians - brute force fighters
Gnomish elementalists - magic users with more toughness than elves
Elven archers - natural talent with bows
Elven wizards - high mana and learning
Dwarven weaponsmiths - natural smithing talent
Hurthling archers - natural talent with thrown rocks

Classes and combinations that are regarded as difficult:

Merchants, especially dark elven merchants because of their low charisma and toughness
Necromancers in general are very difficult to keep alive at low levels

0.1.2 Lifespans

RaceStarting ageMax ageGrownupMiddle agedOldVery Old
Dark Elf100+10d61200+10d10120400750900
Gray Elf200+20d102000+20d4025080015002000
High Elf150+10d101500+10d4020065010001350

0.1.3 Special considerations

Dark Elves - Dark Elves receive very low offers and high prices in Waldenbrook's Dwarftown shop. Dark Elven Necromancers are very Chaotic. It takes some work to get them to Neutral alignment to receive Healing from Jharod, for instance, if that is desired. Dark elves are unique in that spider corpses are nutritious for them. Poison resistance can still be gained from spider corpses.

Drakelings - Drakelings face special problems in the ToEF (see section 2.19) and D: 49 (see section 3.12). Drakelings who are unlucky enough to find a greater white dragon vault will also face speed problems. Drakelings have a unique racial acid spit which can be used as a weapon. The damage increases with the PC's experience level.

Druids - All Druids start at some flavor of neutral alignment. Non-summoned animals are neutral towards Druids (including cats). Bugs in the bug-infested temple are not included.

Elves - All elves, High, Gray, or Dark, have very long lifespans. This is worth considering since several of the high level monsters encountered in ADOM have an aging attack. Ghost Lords, for instance, may well age a human or troll to death in one or two hits, since these PCs have a life span of 100 years or so at most. Elven PCs do not need to worry about this, since they live for close to 1000 years or more for gray elves. Balancing this is the fact that they are more fragile than other races in terms of toughness in the early game.

Gnomes - Gnomes require only 3/4 the number of missile weapon marks to advance their crossbow skill level relative to other races.

Hurthlings - Hurthlings start the game with the Thrown Rocks and Clubs missile weapon skill at level four. They also start the game wearing a cursed ring, unfortunately. Hurthlings also have a racial dislike for shoes, which causes a loss of dexterity when Hurthlings don footwear in ADOM. Hurthlings also have an advantage over other races when training the slings and thrown rocks missile weapon skills: they require only two thirds of the marks other races do in order to advance a skill level.

Merchants - Merchants always specialize in a certain item: potions, rings, scrolls, or wands. This specialization allows them to identify any item in that category on sight. Merchants have the ability to use thrown gold pieces as effective missiles. Dopplegangers are not able to deflect gold pieces thrown by merchants. This is the only known way to attack dopplegangers with missiles.

Necromancers - The manual states that level 50 Necromancers can return from the dead if their Toughness is greater than 10. It goes on to say that they lose one-half of their Toughness when this happens. It does not mention that if their equipment keeps their Toughness at 10 or more, they can do this indefinitely.

Necromancers and Elementalists - suffer from low dice modifiers on their skills. Both classes find it difficult to advance Concentration, limited by a 1d3 or 1d5 modifier. Of equal importance for Necromancers is Food Preservation, similarly limited. In contrast, rangers, bards and beastfighters can expect very high 4d5 modifiers on most of their skills.

Orcs - Like Dark Elves, Orcs receive very low offers and high prices in Waldenbrook's Dwarftown shop. Orcs have a short lifespan relative to other races.

Trolls - Trolls advance in experience level very slowly relative to other races. Trolls have a short lifespan relative to other races.Trolls start the game with the Twohanded Weapons melee skill at level two. Do not pay any attention to this if you are playing a trollish beastfighter. Drop that club and fight unarmed.

0.1.4 Race-specific starting items

RaceBard pet
DrakelingGiant lizard
DwarfCave bear
Dark ElfGiant spider
Gray ElfFairy dragon
High ElfCooshoo
GnomeGiant raccoon
HumanSilver wolf
HurthlingBig dog
OrcDire wolf
TrollCave bear

0.1.5 Class-specific starting items

ClassHeir item
Archer40 winged quarrels of hunting
AssassinPoisonous adamantium dagger
BarbarianBrutal mithril two handed sword
BardSeven league boots
BeastfighterVigilant light furs of protection
DruidYellow leather armor of balance
ElementalistRing of minor elemental mastery
FarmerVigilant clothes of resilience
FighterEternium girdle
HealerElven chain mail of health
MerchantBeautiful leather armor of carrying
MindcrafterEmpowered robe of protection
MonkPadded clean robe of defense
NecromancerChaotic skull staff of slaughtering
PaladinLawful mithril long sword (even chaotics get this - probably a bug)
PriestHeavy mace of the sun
RangerMasterwork mithril battle axe
ThiefAdamantium dagger of penetration
WeaponsmithBrutal mithril warhammer
WizardWand of fire (30 charges)

Updated August 12th, 2009