View Full Version : Thought Experiment: Eliminating Class Skills[3.5]

2010-05-28, 09:41 PM
What would happen if you simply eliminated class skill lists? What if any class was basically like a Factotum: Class Skills: all?

Assuming skill ranks remained the same, would it really change much?

The concept of class skills seems like an arbitrary method of pigeonholing classes into specific stereotypes or roles. I suppose nothing is necessarily inherently wrong with this, but it does restrict character concepts to a certain degree.

I mean, assuming all class skills are available to everyone, class roles are still unlikely to change. A Fighter is unlikely to waste time putting ranks in Disable Device, for instance, or even Hide and Move Silently. A druid is probably not going to take ranks in Truespeak, nor is a Barbarian likely to invest in Diplomacy.

This would give everyone access to powerhouse skills like UMD and Autohypnosis, but it still makes a certain amount of sense if you think about it. At low levels, a Fighter with an 8 Charisma is unlikely to get most magical trinkets to work, especially during combat. But if he survives to high levels, wouldn't it make sense for his wizard buddy to teach him a few tricks here and there? What arbitrarily makes a Rogue better at using magical devices than a Fighter or Ranger?

I could see this variant making skill monkeys somewhat less useful, but they would still have more skill points to spread around. Prestige classes would also become much easier to gain entry into, without as much class juggling. Troublesome PRCs like Fochluran Lyricist (spelling?) or Fleshwarper might actually see play at reasonable levels.

This would also fix some of the mistakes in many classes skill lists. The fact that Favored Souls don't have Knowledge (religion) for instance, or how Knights don't have Diplomacy or Profession (!).

So, any thoughts? Opinions? Would this rob the game of something vital I'm not aware of?

2010-05-28, 09:53 PM
I've actually done this before. Didn't encounter any problems at the time. On the other hand, it is best to encourage the PCs to have legitimate background reasons for having the skill set that they have.

Doc Roc
2010-05-28, 09:54 PM
We did something not dissimilar in legend... it's worked out so far.

2010-05-28, 10:44 PM
Ironically, the characters I play that have weak class lists end up being MORE versatile in the aggregate, just because they don't get the staple skills and have to try something different. Otherwise you just move down the checklist of Balance (you want the enemy caster to need a SECOND level slot to render you useless), UMD, Tumble, Bluff, Knowledge to taste, and so on until you're out of points.

That said, I do think that this is not a bad idea, and my experiences should not be taken as an endorsement of class skill lists. I don't think it would make anything worse than it already is.

2010-05-28, 10:50 PM
It might make the Factotum very slightly less attractive, but they're awesome enough to weather it.

You might also consider some related ideas - Pathfinder allows cross-class skills to be purchased at the same rate as class skills, but you only get skill ranks equal to your level and you get a +3 bonus for putting a rank into a class skills. It also consolidates some skills (Tumble + Balance = Acrobatics, Disable Device encompasses Open Lock, Diplomacy encompasses Gather Information, etc.).

Iron Heroes, a variant 3.5 ruleset, eliminates class skills but gives each class access to skill groups. Each skill group covers a set of related skills, like Hide + Move Silently, or Spot + Listen + Search + Sense Motive. Anyone can buy any skill, but classes can buy their class skill groups at a cost of only one skill point for a rank in each skill in the group.

Class skills are annoying, but I think the sheer variety of skills is perhaps moreso. Not being able to afford all the essential skills really hurts melee classes, who should be much better at moving and scouting than they often can afford.

2010-05-28, 11:28 PM
I've done this as well... it does very little detrimental. You get fighters who can spot things and druids who can dance, but doesn't really wreck things.

In my group, speak language and use magic device remained cross class unless you actually got them in class [With a feat to get one in class / keep both in class]. Speak language may not be relevant per se in most campaigns, but UMD is a very powerful skill, so you may want to make it an exception to the rule.

The rest, though, eh. If a fighter was going to put five ranks in balance anyway, now they can a bit earlier and then move on to interesting things. Skill-based classes are still skill monkeys due to getting 8+Int and not 2+int.

2010-05-28, 11:36 PM
This was a standard house rule in my 3.5 games and never once caused a single problem. Less bookkeeping = awesome.

2010-05-28, 11:50 PM
I just thought Iíd point out that classes are specific stereotypes and rolls. So giving them something that pigeonholes them into those rolls is to be expected. There is only supposed to be a limited amount of flexibility in each class. So when you change around class skills you may end up making a class not fit its intended concept.

However doing so may not actually hurt the game. Some classes get almost no skill points and almost no class skills anyway, so giving them their pick shouldnít hurt anything. With few exceptions skills are hardly game breaking anyway so I really donít see anything bad with it.

Personally Iím not a big fan of the way class skills work. The game is a class and level based system, with a point based sub system thatís slightly influenced by the primary system. Its kind of wonky that way.