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The Elimination of Exclusivity

Copyright© Nicholas HM Caldwell 2001

Edited by Jamie "Trotsky" Revell for The Guild Companion

In the normal OGL 3.0 rules, skills are divided into three categories - "class skills", "cross-class" skills, and "exclusive" skills. An "exclusive" skill may only be purchased by characters of specific classes. There are currently five exclusive skills in the game:

Animal Empathy

exclusive to Druids and Rangers

Decipher Script

exclusive to Bards and Rogues

Read Lips

exclusive to Rogues


exclusive to Bards, Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, and Wizards

Use Magic Device

exclusive to Bards and Rogues

For many DMs, such restrictions will be inappropriate for their settings and campaigns. Why should only Rogues be able to "Read Lips"? Anyone in our world with access to the right training and a little native wit can learn this skill. It therefore seems unrealistic to completely forbid members of other character classes from learning "Read Lips". Similar arguments can be developed for the remaining exclusive skills.

The caveats "access to the right training" and "a little native wit" are important. We want to make it possible for characters to acquire these skills, but possible does not mean easy. For example, the Scry skill can only be used in conjunction with some form of scrying spell or an appropriate magic item. Barbarians, Fighters, Monks, Paladins, Rangers, and Rogues do not normally have access to such spells and are unlikely to possess items imbued with divinatory magic. Moreover their class training does not provide them with any grounding in the concepts underlying the skill. Clearly learning the Scry skill is going to be difficult for such characters.

This article proposes replacing the "exclusive" designation with a "restricted class" classification. Thus the above table is rewritten as follows:

Animal Empathy

restricted for all classes except Druids and Rangers

Decipher Script

restricted for all classes except Bards and Rogues

Read Lips

restricted for all classes except Rogues


Restricted for all classes except Bards, Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, and Wizards

Use Magic Device

Restricted for all classes except Bards and Rogues

If a skill is restricted for a given class, it costs 4 skill points per rank.

The maximum number of ranks a character can have in a "restricted class" skill is equal to one quarter of (the character's level + 3). Do not round up or down.

(For example, Sir Theobald is a sixth-level Fighter who has a keen interest in ancient languages. He spends much of his free time reading musty scrolls. As a Fighter, Decipher Script is a "restricted class" skill for him, so the maximum number of ranks he can possess in this skill is (6 (= his level) + 3) / 4 which is 2.25 ranks)).

When buying additional ranks of "restricted class" skills at higher levels, all normal OGL 3.0 rules apply, except one skill point equals one quarter of a skill rank for a "restricted class" skill. (Thus characters who concentrate on "restricted class" skills will be at a disadvantage to their peers in "class" and "cross-class" skills.)

DMs may also require that characters who wish to learn "restricted class" skills must find suitable teachers or learning materials (such as the books which Sir Theobald studies every night) which may lead the character into unexpected adventures. Persuading someone to teach a skill may involve some form of payment in terms of hard cash, a favor owed, or a quest to be undertaken.

Appendix A

This article: The Elimination of Exclusivity, Copyright © 2001 by Nicholas HM Caldwell, is an OGL 3.0 rules.

This article is covered by the Open Gaming License. The title "The Elimination of Exclusivity" is Product Identity, all other material in this article is Open Gaming Content. Portions of this work are derived from the 3.0 System Reference Document, Copyright © 1999, 2000 by Wizards of the Coast, and are used with permission.

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Open Game License v 1.0 Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc. System Reference Document v1.0 Copyright (C) 1999,2000 Wizards of the Coast, Inc, The Elimination of Exclusivity, Copyright © 2001 by Nicholas HM Caldwell

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