Darkest Dungeon's Hero Classes

Darkest Dungeon has 14 playable classes, each with their own unique abilities. This guide helps you understand each class and help you play Darkest Dungeon in more advanced ways and build better parties.

It's easy to oversimplify the game and say certain classes are better than others; for example, stacking vestals and crusaders works fairly well, but those classes shouldn't be considered the better than others.

A well supported abomination is a house but can be extremely detrimental to other parties. Bounty hunters, arbalests, and highwaymen offer their own damage dealing advantages, so the houndmaster shouldn't be the go to damage dealer because it's a jack of all trades class.

Abomination

The abomination is a high risk/high reward advanced class (Read: difficult). It requires extra planning when putting together party compoisions because of his unique ability, Transform, that causes stress damage to the entire party when transforming into a beast. In addition to the stress damage problem the abomination has, he cannot be used in a party with vestals, crusaders, or lepers.

The abomination's best position is 2. He's able to use all of his human skills in positions 2 and 3, and most of his beast form skills are in position 1 and 2.

Class Synergies

A back row jester work well with their stress reducing ability and the plague doctor offers a strong damage buff. An ideal party composition for the abomination is the following (by position number, front-to-back or right-to-left):

  1. Man-at-Arms/Hellion
  2. Abomination
  3. Occultist
  4. Jester/Plague Doctor

There's some flexibility with jester vs plague doctor. Basically, the jester offers stress healing and a party wide damage buff; the plague doctor has more utility (stuns and blight) and a stronger single target damage buff. Man-at-Arms is used for the party wide camping skill, Weapons Practice; otherwise, the hellion offers a multi-target stun, bleed, and back row damage.

Combat Skills

The abomination starts out with all of his skills. For the most part, you'll focus on using Rake while in beast form. In human form, you'll split damage with Manacles to try to keep at least one enemy stunned at all time.

The upgrade priority should be the following:

  • Rake
  • Menacles
  • Absolution (if no jester)
  • Beast's Bile (up to level 3, then immediately 5)
Camping Skills
  • Psych Up
  • The Quickening
  • Anger Management
  • Encourage

Remember to remove trinkets that increase stress damage before camping. Anger Management interacts really well with Book of Sanity and other stress damage reduction buffs.

Trinkets

Restraining Padlock, the very rare class specific trinket for the abomination, is almost a necessity when using the abomination. Don't expect to transform every fight without being able to manage the stress of the transformation.

 PrimaryTankDamage Dealer
Trinket #1 Restraining Padlock Feather Crystal Legendary Bracer
Trinket #2 Tough Ring Camouflage Cloak Berserk Charm 

Book of Sanity, Book of Relaxation, and Calming Crystal are decent filler trinkets, especially if you don't have a Restraining Padlock yet; these trinkets can also be used on other party members. Bright Tambourine is fantastic for the jester in the party and Heaven's Hairpin is okay for a hellion (it's almost like the developers thought about how abominations interact with jesters and hellions!).

Antiquarian

The antiquarian is a unique class that provides hidden out of combat traits, like being able to carry more items per stack and find more/better loot. She provides very little combat potential. Once nice thing about this class is that she can be placed pretty much anywhere in the party effectively being a corpse that shouldn't go away (it's a joke, but only kind of a joke).

Combat Skills
  • Nervous Stab
  • Protect Me
  • Festering Vapors
  • Flashpowder

Your main plan here is to use Protect Me on a man-at-arms or highwayman and let them do the work for you. Festering Vapors provides a decent blight attack and Flashpowder reduces accuracy. Nervous Stab is along for the ride, it's basically the occultist's Sacrificial Stab but slightly worse.

Camping Skills

The antiquarian provides some interesting camping skills, mainly revolving around your inventory.

  1. Trinket Scrounge
  2. Strange Powders
  3. Resupply (filler)

Trinket Scrounge is the reason you bring the antiquarian along, as it provides a free random trinket (think of it as at least 750 gold per campfire log). Strange Powder is a handy resistances buff for the party and resupply is nice (but not useful) as helps maximize camping.

Trinkets

Since she provides very little damage potential, the antiquarian should get defensive trinkets.

  1. Tough Ring
  2. Camouflage Cloak
  3. Feather Crystal

Candle of Life (+50% healing skills) doesn't really fit her.

Arbalest

The arbelest is a ranged damage dealer with some healing capability. Best used in the 4th position and with a team that takes advantage of marking targets. The arbalest fills the same role the houndmaster does, but offers party healing (opposed to the houndmaster's self heal).

Class Synergies

Some of the arbalest's skills receive bonus damage against marked targets, so she's best used with other classes that are capable of marking targets and taking advantage of those marked targets.

  1. Bounty Hunter/Man-at-Arms
  2. Houndmaster/Bounty Hunter
  3. Occultist (with Vulnerability Hex instead of Sacrifical Stab)
  4. Arbalest

The basic premise to a team composition like this is to mark a target (ideally with the occultist or man-at-arms), then go nuts with the damage dealer. The occultist's job is mainly to heal or pull the backline to the front, the man-at-arms marks and tanks with reposte, and the arbalest goes to town against the marked target while providing backup heals to the occultist.

Combat Skills
  • Sniper Shot
  • Battlefield Medicine
  • Bola
  • Sniper's Mark

Bola should be used to push the front line back and expose the back line enemies. Sniper Shot is the primary damage source (especially once the enemy is marked) and Battlefield Medicine provides minor healing.

Camping Skills
  • Restring Crossbow
  • Triage
  • Encourage
  • Field Dressing/Wound Care

Field Dressing is a better, but more costly version of Wound Care. Triage is great when food runs low and you still want to camp. Restring Crossbow is a very strong self damage buff.

Trinkets

Since the arbalest is a back row damage dealer, it's best to stack two damage dealing trinkets. The arbalest only very trinket, Wrathful Bandana, is basically a second Legendary Bracer since you can no longer double up trinkets; Bull's Eye Bandana is slightly worse, but still gets the job done. Otherwise Dismas's Head, Berserk Charm, Sun Ring, or Moon Ring all work just as well.

  1. Wrathful Bandana
  2. Musket Ball
  3. Legendary Bracer
  4. Bull's Eye Bandana
  5. Dismas's Head
  6. Berserk Charm
  7. Sun Ring/Moon Ring

Since the arbalest has minimal impact on the rest of the party, there aren't any other things you need to consider with trinkets. Don't worry about improving survivability or healing and just go for more damage. 

Bounty Hunter

A damage dealer best suited in the middle positions, the bounty hunter offers decent utility with high damage output that benefits from marked targets. The bounty hunter trades range for higher damage output and provides offensive utility (stuns and pulls) over defensive utlity (protection) or healing (no party healing like the arbalest and no self heals like the houndmaster).

Class Synergies

Like the arbalest, the bounty hunter gets a massive damge spike from team compositions that mark the target. Being paired up with at least one arbalest, houndmaster, man-at-arms, occultist, or another bounty hunter greatly increases his damage. Read the arbalest's class synergies section for more detail.

Combat Skills
  • Collect Bounty
  • Mark for Death
  • Flash Bang (Upper Cut if in first position)
  • Finish Him 
Camping Skills
  • This is How We Do It
  • Planned Takedown (for boss fights)
  • Scout Ahead
  • Tracking 
Trinkets

Due to the reliance on stunned or marked targets, the bounty hunter should stack speed and crit over raw damage. The class specific trinket, Wounding Helmet, provides little drawback to a massive damage boost.

  1. Wounding Helmet
  2. Focus Ring (if infected with Rabies)
  3. Berserk Charm/Agility Talon
  4. Surgical Gloves

As with any damage dealing class, Legendary Bracer, and the Sun/Moon Rings have their place but those trinkets aren't considered best in slot with the bounty hunter. Remember, speed equals damage for the bounty hunter.

Crusader

One of the first classes you get introduced to in Darkest Dungeon, the crusader is a tank/damage dealing hybrid and is regarded as one of the best classes in the game. Most of his attacks deal bonus damage against unholy enemies, so he's great for adventuring in the Ruins. He offers a little bit of everything: stuns, AoE damage, healing. It's very easy to work a crusader into your parties.

Combat Skills
  • Holy Lance
  • Smite
  • Zealous Accusation
  • Battle Heal > Stunning Blow

Stunning Blow can replace Battle Heal; Holy Lance is too useful because your party can get shuffled and this skill prevents passing a turn to move.

Camping Skills
  • Zealous Speech
  • Zealous Vigil
  • Encourage
  • Stand Tall

Zealous Vigil prevents ambushes, which makes it extremely useful. Stand Tall is situationally good (removes Death's Door), but shouldn't be needed and that's why it's the 4th option.

Trinkets

Gearing out the crusader is a little awkward since he's a hybrid, but it's generally best to stack damage and throw in a defense trinket when needed.

  1. Legendary Bracer (best used with Berserk Charm)
  2. Berserk Charm
  3. Tough Ring
  4. Solar/Moon Cloak

Simply put, Berserk Charm goes with Legendary Bracer and Tough Ring. Otherwise, go with Tough Ring and Solar/Moon Cloak.

Grave Robber

Grave robbers have the highest trap disarm chance in the game and most of their skills have a high chance to crit, giving them a unique spot in the game. While they deal less raw damage than a highwayman, grave robbers deal quite a bit of hidden benefits due to the high crit chance (like stress healing and longer damage over time abilities).

Combat Skills
  • Pick to the Face
  • Lunge
  • Shadow Fade > Poison Dart
  • Thrown Dagger

The combat skills are somewhat self explanatory. Since the grave robber is best in the two middle positions, Shadow Fade is used to push her back into those spots (and you can juggle her by using Lunge/Shadow Fade for high damage and high dodge). If you don't plan on using Lunge all that often (still useful if she gets pushed back), Poison Dart is a viable option if your team is light on blight skills.

Camping Skills
  • Gallows Humor
  • Night Moves
  • Snuff Box
  • Encourage

Night Moves is a solid scouting buff. Gallows Humor is one of the best stress reducing skills in the game. Snuff Box is overlooked, the skill is great (and saves you a lot of money by removing diseases) if you aren't abusing rabies.

Trinkets

The grave robber's very rare trinket, Lucky Talisman, offers a lot of utility but puts the class in a less than ideal role; she's already good at disarming traps, so 3% CRIT for eating twice the amount of food is somewhat annoying. That said, one utility/defense trinket and one damage trinket is the best option for her.

  1. Lucky Talisman
  2. Focus Ring (with Rabies)
  3. Raider's Talisman
  4. Feather Crystal
  5. Legendary Bracer

Jester

One of the biggest problems I see with evaluating classes in Darkest Dungeon is that new players don't see the value in support classes like the jester and plague doctor. They often think these classes make a three party team because these classes don't do much damage; what they don't consider is that these buffs provide greater boosts in damage than having an extra damage dealer.

The support rant aside, the jester has one of the only reliable stress heals in the game. He's basically the vestal of stress damage. The jester also has decent bleed attacks for the middle rows.

Combat Skills
  • Battle Ballad
  • Inspiring Tune
  • Slice Off
  • Harvest
Camping Skills
  • Every Rose Has Its Thorn
  • Turn Back Time
  • Tiger's Eye
  • Mockery/Encourage

Tiger's Eye is a solid companion buff for your damage dealers, like hellions, highwaymen, and lepers. Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Turn Back Time, and Mockery (or Encourage) are good stress damage reduction skills.

Trinkets

Since jesters are support classes, equip trinkets that help keep them alive or speed so they can act first.

  1. Feather Crystal
  2. Camouflage Cloak
  3. Quick Draw Charm (if using Battle Ballad first turn)
  4. Deteriorating Bracer/Heavy Boots

Hellion

Along with the man-at-arms, leper, and crusader, the hellion is one of the four tanky, front-line classes in the game. She's capabale of dealing high amounts of damage to pretty much any enemy position from the first spot, she suffers a little bit in the middle positions. She also has the best front line stun in the game.

Combat Skills
  • If It Bleeds
  • Wicked Hack
  • Iron Swan
  • YAWP

YAWP is an AoE front line stun that should not be overlooked, the damage debuff is insignificant compared the value of the skill. Iron Swan attacks the backrow (often one shotting them), If It Bleeds is a decent bleed attack for the middle two positions, and Wicket Hack is used to take down the front line.

The following skills should also be considered under certain circumstances:

  • Breakthrough is one of the the best area damage skills in the game, but at a rather high damage debuff. Best used with another hellion in the group (or possible a Grapeshot highwayman)
  • Adrenaline Rush is a good damage buff that removes blight and bleed.
Camping Skills
  • Sharpen Spear
  • Battle Trance
  • Encourage
  • Wound Care

The hellion gets strong self buffs from camping skills; Sharpen Spear and Battle Trance (only if in the first position though) are both very strong self damage buffs. Encourage and Wound Care are just generic fillers.

Trinkets

As you'd expect from other damage dealers, high damage trinkets are good for the hellion. Look to stack two damage trinkets at pretty much all times (and leave the tanking to the man-at-arms).

  1. Berserk Charm
  2. Legendary Bracer
  3. Focus Ring (with Rabies)
  4. Sun Ring/Moon Ring
  5. Hell's Hairpin (for dark runs)

The hellion's class specific trinket gives her a minor advantage for dark runs by Focus Ring with Dark Bracer; a rabies infection hellion with Moon Ring and Hell's Hairpin is a house during a dark run.

Highwayman

Along with the crusader, the highwayman is one of the first classes you encounter. He's one of the better damage dealers in the game, he can deal damage to just about any enemy position from the middle positions. He also has the capability of moving around (or back to his preferred position) with strong offensive skills.

Combat Skills
  • Point Blank Shot
  • Pistol Shot
  • Duelist's Advance
  • Wicked Slice

Point Blank Shot and Duelist's Advance makes the highwayman extremely mobile (especially with another highwayman); a party with two highwaymen in the first and second position allows you to use Point Blank Shot twice per turn to make quick work of the enemy's front line. Duelist's Advance helps get the highwayman back to the second or third position if he's pushed back while dealing a good amount of damage to virtually any enemy position.

Pistol Shot allows you to clean up the back rows and Wicked Slice is useful for stacking bleeds against bosses or high PROT enemies.

Camping Skills
  • Gallows Humor
  • Clean Guns/Unparalleled Finesse
  • Bandit's Sense

Highwaymen have amazing camping skills. Clean Guns is great for ranged highwaymen, while Unparalleled Finesse is the melee equivalent. Gallows Humor is a very strong stress heal and Bandit's Sense is one of the best ambush prevention skills since it increases your chance to surprise enemies (further reducing stress and damage taken).

Trinkets

Since the highwayman is one of the stronger damage dealers, his trinkets should help support that. Stack as much damage as you can. 

  1. Gunslinger's Buckle
  2. Legendary Bracer/Ancestor's Musket Ball
  3. Focus Ring (with Rabies)
  4. Sun/Moon Ring

Be aware that Gunslinger's Buckle reduces the effectiveness of melee skills, so Duelist's Advance isn't nearly as effective as it was (reducing the damage of Open Vein isn't nearly as bad since you're relying more on the bleed effect than the upfront damage) 

Houndmaster

The houndmaster is one of the best damage dealers in Darkest Dungeon and can fit anywhere but the first position in your party. Dog Treats provide a very strong self damage buff for longer fights, especially boss fights. With the ability to heal himself, the houndmaster uses bleed skills to take down marked enemies.

Combat Skills
  • Hound's Rush
  • Target Whistle
  • Hound's Harry
  • Lick Wounds

Target Wistle is one of the better abilities to mark an enemy and Hound's Rush receives a massive damage boost because of that ability. Hound's Harry is great for applying bleed all of your enemies (remember that bleeds stack and this can quickly overwhelm your opponent).

Camping Skills
  • Release the Hound
  • Man's Best Friend
  • Therapy Dog
  • Hound's Watch

Hound's Watch offers the same benefits as Bandit's Sense (increased chance to surprise the enemy, prevent ambushes); Release the Hound increases scouting chance, which is great for finding those secret rooms or prepare for upcoming obstacles/fights. Therapy Dog and Man's Best Friend are better versions of stress healing than the generic skills.

Trinkets

Since the houndmaster relies heavily on bleed attacks, he doesn't benefits as much from trinkets that increase damage; Spiked Collar is an exception because of the +30% bleed skill buff. Just stack dodge and speed to make him most effective.

  1. Feather Crystal
  2. Spiked Collar
  3. Camouflage Cloak

Leper

One of the four tanky front line classes, Lepers tend to shine late game. They have high HP pools and deal lots of damage to the enemy's front line but have virtually no back row attacks.

Combat Skills
  • Chop
  • Hew
  • Intimidate
  • Solemnity

Solemnity is a very strong self heal with a built in resistance buff, the Leper is able to keep himself alive without a healer. Hew is a great AoE attack on the enemy's first two positions and Chop does a lot of damage to a single front line target.

Camping Skills

The Leper's camping skills are what makes him so strong.

  • Quarantine
  • Reflection

Reflection is one of the best damage buffs in the game. Quarantine is a great stress damage heal. As for the other two skills, just take whatever you want, Let Down the Mask is slightly better than the generic camping skills (but it doesn't make that much of a difference).

Trinkets

The leper is inheritly tanky due to his large HP pool and since his base dodge is zero, Focus Ring has almost no drawbacks. Legendary Bracer offers a lot of damage, while Tough Ring makes his HP pool ridiculous (choose one or the other with a Focus Ring).

  1. Focus Ring
  2. Legendary Bracer
  3. Tough Ring
  4. Berserk Charm/Berserk Mask (see below)

The Leper's Berserk Mask doesn't offer enough to make it good on the Leper right now; the speed and crit is nice, but the reduced heals and reduced virtue chance make it slightly worse than Berserk Charm with Focus Ring.

Man-at-Arms

The man-at-arms is the closest to a tank that Darkest Dungeon has to offer. He provides good camping buffs to his team while he tries to absorb damage for his team by marking himself or by putting the guard buff on an ally. 

Combat Skills
  • Retribution
  • Crush
  • Bellow/Rampart
  • Defender

Retribution is a decent marking ability that also provides damage in a unique way (he gets a buff called Reposte that allows him to counterattack). Defender provides the guard buff to an ally that increases the chance of reposte from Retribution. Bellow slows down the enemy and reduces the enemy's dodge chance, while Crush is the man-at-arm's best strictly offensive skill.

Rampart can be used in the Bellow's spot if you prefer a stun/knockback over a slow.

Camping Skills
  • Weapons Practice
  • Instruction
  • Tactics

The man-at-arms offers some of the best party-wide camping buffs in the game (and that's really the reason why you might take one over a crusader or hellion); +10 DODGE, +10% DMG, and +8% CRIT for the entire party at the cost of 8 camping points is insane.

Trinkets

Don't use Guardian's Shield as it is currently (maybe intentionally?) bugged; the man-at-arms should be in the party's first position, not fourth position. Any two defensive items work best for the man-at-arms.

  1. Camouflage Cloak
  2. Tough Ring/Overture Box
  3. Feather Crystal
  4. Focus Ring (with Rabies)

A rabies infected man-at-arms with Focus Ring might be worth a look while he has the reposte ability.

Musketeer

 

Combat Skills

 

Camping Skills

 

Trinkets

 

Vestal

The vestal is Darkest Dungeon's version of a white mage or priest. Almost all of the vestal's best skills provide some sort of healing; she's also the only class in the game that has a party wide heal.

Combat Skills
  • Judgement
  • Dazzling Light
  • Divine Grace
  • Divine Comfort

Dazzling Light is a stun that separates her from the occultist, while Judgement is a self healing ability that provides a decent amount of damage to an enemy.  Divine Grace is the party heal and Divine 

Camping Skills
  • Bless

Bless (+10 DODGE, +10 ACC for one companion) is the only decent camping skill the vestal has to offer. Fill in the rest with whatever you want, but you probably won't use any of her camping skills.

Trinkets

The vestal's trinkets should do one of two things: (1) make her harder to kill or (2) improve her healing abilities.

  1. Tough Ring
  2. Haste Chalice
  3. Tome of Holy Healing
  4. Sacred Scroll

Occultist

The occultist is Darkest Dungeon's other healer (vestal is the primary healer, arbalest is in a distant third). He offers more offensive utility than the vestal, while his defensive/healing abilities are high risk/high reward. His ideal position is third, but can be pushed into the fourth position for a second middle row damage dealer if necessary.

Combat Skills
  • Abyssal Artillery
  • Wyrd Reconstruction
  • Daemon's Pull
  • Sacrifical Stab > Vulnerability Hex

Wyrd Reconstruction is a must on the occultist since you're probably taking him for his healing ability.

Sacrifical Stab is slightly preferred over Vulnerability Hex unless the occultist is in the fourth position or you have a team composition that benefits from marked targets (bounty hunters, arbalests, and houndmasters).

Otherwise, his two other damage dealing skills are used to kill backrow enemies (or at least move them into more favorable positions for your team). Don't forget that Daemon's Pull removes corpses.

Camping Skills
  • Dark Strength
  • Unspeakable Commune
  • Dark Ritual

Unspeakable Commune is a decent ambush prevention skill at a very low cost (only 7 stress). Dark Strength offers 20% increased damage (obviously very good). Dark Ritual is worth carrying around on the off chance that someone has the Death's Door debuff and you want to continue the mission (torchlight is easily replenishable).

Trinkets

Gearing out an occultist is similar to a vestal. Stack defensive items to keep him alive and reduce the amount of times he needs to heal himself so he can focus on the team.

  1. Cleansing Crystal (for healing)
  2. Feather Crystal
  3. Camouflage Cloak
  4. Tough Ring
  5. Jula's Head (for healing)

Don't overlook the combination of Cleansing Crystal and Julia's Head on the occultist. Since Wyrd's Reconstruction has such high base healing numbers, adding 30% to any of those rolls is very strong (healing for upwards of 26 without crits).

Plague Doctor

The plague doctor excels in the two back row positions (either 3 or 4) and is primarily used to blight or stun enemies and buff the party's damage dealer.

Combat Skills
  • Noxious Blast
  • Plague Grenade
  • Blinding Gas
  • Emboldening Vapors > Battlefield Medicine

Most of her skills are used to shut down back row enemies, with either blight or stuns. Emboldening Vapors applies a stackable damage buff to one party member; you can substitue Battlefield Medicine in this spot if you anticpate a lot of bleed or blight attacks against you (The Cove comes to mind).

Camping Skills
  • The Cure

Like the vestal, the plague doctor's camping skills are pretty bad. The plague doctor can cure a disease on herself (unlike the grave robber, that also cures a companion). Fill in the other camping skills with whatever you want, you probably won't use them anyways.

Trinkets

Class specific trinkets make the plague doctor a lot better, these trinkets almost guarentee that stuns and blights are applied.

  1. Blasphemous Vial
  2. Poisoned Herb
  3. Focus Ring (with Rabies)
  4. Feather Crystal

Change Log

  • 03/11/2016 - Added antiquarian information.
Corey Docken

Corey Docken

Corey has been playing video games all of his life. He learned how to use grid references playing The Legend of Zelda on NES and spent way too much running in front of a TV as a child. He loves the Final Fantasy, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Dark Souls, and Civilization series and is stil trying to get over the loss of Fable.

Published on Thursday, March 10th, 2016 at 4:58 PM.
Last updated on Friday, March 11th, 2016 at 5:36 PM.