Retraining Your Skills, Feats, and Classes


The following is taken (with some adaptation) from Chapter 8 of the Player’s Handbook 2.

The most basic level of character revision is retraining — that is, adjusting a decision you made earlier in your character’s career by selecting a different legal option. This technique represents the character’s practicing new talents in lieu of honing older ones. In a way, the process is similar to attaining a new level. In keeping with that concept, the retraining option can be chosen only during level advancement.

Five different character aspects (see Table 8–1) can be changed through retraining. Each time your character attains a new level, you can select one (and only one) of these options. For instance, you can’t change a feat selection and your spells known at the same level. Since these options represent two different sessions of retraining, they must occur at different levels.

The decision to retrain must be implemented before any benefits of the newly attained level are applied. For example, if a 10th-level rogue wants to trade her improved evasion class feature for the opportunist class feature, she can do so immediately upon attaining 11th level, before she gains any of the benefits for that level (such as additional hit points, skill points, and so on).

Table 8–1: Retraining Options
Character Aspect Effect
Class feature Exchange one class feature option for another
Feat Exchange one feat for another for which you qualify
Language Exchange one language for another
Skill Trade up to 4 ranks between two skills
Spell Exchange one spell known for another

Substitution levels are not used in this campaign and therefore cannot be retrained.

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Some class features offer two or more different options, such as the choice of combat style a ranger must make at 2nd level. Class feature retraining allows you to swap out one such option for another. Maybe your ranger would prefer to be an archer instead of a melee fighter, or your cleric of Heironeous feels that the War domain would be a better option than the Law domain. The character remains basically the same, since his class levels haven’t changed, but he’s now highlighting a different aspect of his class.

The Process
Change one class feature option to another legal one. The new option must represent a choice that you could have made at the same level as you made the original choice. Also, the new choice can’t make any of your later choices illegal — though it might automatically change class features acquired later if they are based on the initial choice.

*A cleric’s choice of deity can’t be changed by class feature retraining.

**Arcane school specialization and opposition schools are treated as a single class feature. Thus, a character could change one, two, or even all three choices at the same time.

Example: Upon gaining a new level, a ranger could change the combat style class feature he gained at 2nd level from two-weapon fighting to archery. Thereafter, he would be treated as if he had the Rapid Shot feat instead of the Two-Weapon Fighting feat. If he had at least six levels of ranger before making this change, he would exchange both the Two-Weapon Fighting feat (gained at 2nd level) and the Improved Two-Weapon Fighting feat (gained at 6th level) for the appropriate archery feats, since both of these features are derived from the choice made at 2nd level. However, the ranger couldn’t make this change if he had selected the Two-Weapon Defense feat in the interim, since losing Two-Weapon Fighting means he would no longer meet the prerequisites for that feat.
Example: Upon gaining a new level, a necromancer could change her school specialization to evocation, thus becoming an evoker. At the same time, she could also choose to change her opposition schools from conjuration and illusion to abjuration and transmutation.
Example: Upon gaining a new level, a wizard could choose to specialize in the enchantment school, thereby becoming an enchanter. At the same time, she would have to select two opposition schools, as normal for a specialist wizard.
Example: Upon gaining a new level, a conjurer could choose to become a wizard. By doing so, she would lose the benefits of specialization. But she would also lose her opposition schools.


Sometimes a feat choice looks great on paper, but it just doesn’t work for your character in practice. Maybe an early feat choice reflected the character’s personality and style, but a little experience changed his outlook. For instance, you might have selected Improved Initiative for your 1st level character because you pictured him as ambitious and a little reckless. But after falling victim to a wight’s touch because he just couldn’t wait until the cleric turned the undead, he decides it’s better to use a little more care in combat, causing you to regret your early feat choice. New supplements, with their wealth of exciting feat options, also provide plenty of reasons to reconsider your earlier feat selections.

The Process
You can exchange one of the feats you previously selected for another feat. If the new feat has prerequisites, not only must your character meet them in his current state, but you must also be able to show that he met them at the time you chose the previous feat.
Example: A 4th-level fighter/1st-level rogue couldn’t trade the Mobility feat he chose at 3rd level for Improved Critical because he doesn’t currently meet a prerequisite for the latter feat (base attack bonus +6). He also couldn’t trade that Mobility feat for Weapon Specialization, even though he currently meets the prerequisite (fighter level 4th), because he could not have done so as a 3rd-level character.

It made a lot of sense to speak Goblin, Kobold, and Orc at 1st level, but now that you’re mostly fighting giants, demons, and dragons, it would be nice to understand your new enemies.

The Process
Subtract one language from your list of known languages and add a new one to the list. It doesn’t matter how your character earned the original language — it could have been an automatic language for her race, a bonus language gained from a high Intelligence score, or a language purchased with skill points.

Some skills that are particularly valuable at lower levels become less useful later on, and vice versa. For example, when everyone in the party is carrying a bag full of antitoxins and potions of cure light wounds, the need for successful Heal checks drops dramatically. Whether your character has skill ranks that aren’t as necessary as they once were, or you just want to adapt her to new challenges, skill retraining provides a simple method of adjusting your character’s capabilities in a small but measurable way.

The Process
Subtract up to 4 skill ranks from one skill and add an equal number of ranks to any one other skill (not including Linguistics). The skill to which you add the ranks must be a class skill for one of your character’s classes, including a class he is about to gain with his current level increase. It doesn’t matter whether the lost ranks were purchased as class skills or not.
Example: You decide to give your 2nd-level ranger a level of the rogue class as his third character level. At this point, he could use the skill retraining option to lose 2 ranks in Handle Animal that he purchased with his ranger skill points and gain 2 ranks in any other ranger or rogue class skill (such as Survival or Disable Device). He couldn’t gain ranks in any skill that isn’t on either the ranger or the rogue class skill list (such as Fly).


Much like feats, magic spells and sometimes look better when you select them than they do after you’ve used them for a while. And when you’re playing a character with a limited number of options (such as a sorcerer), every spell or power you choose represents a significant percentage of your character’s overall options. You can’t afford to have dead weight taking up valuable spell slots, so ditch that sleep spell now that the party isn’t facing foes with low Hit Dice anymore and replace it with the niftier 1st-level spell you just found in a recent supplement.

The Process
Exchange up to two currently known spells for other spells. Each new spell must be usable by the same class and of the same spell level as the spell it replaces.
Special: Bards and sorcerers already have a limited ability to learn new spells in the place of older ones. This method of retraining allows exchanges over and above what their classes already permit.
Example: A sorcerer could change lightning bolt to fly or dispel magic, since all three are 3rd-level sorcerer/wizard spells, but he couldn’t change it to wall of ice (a 4th-level spell) or to cure serious wounds (a cleric spell).
Example: A 5th-level sorcerer advancing to 6th level could use spell retraining to exchange up to two of his known spells (of any level he knows) for others of the same levels. Then he could exchange one 0-level or 1st-level spell for another just as any sorcerer could upon attaining 6th level.

We will not be requiring retraining periods or costs in this campaign. Retraining is considered to be instantaneous as you level.

Retraining Class Levels

As an additional retraining option (following the introduction of alternate forms of magic), I am introducing the option to retrain entire class levels that you have taken.

Instead of retraining a feat or spell (as above), you may instead choose to exchange one level of character class you have for the next level of another.

Example: Boris is a 5th-level Incarnate who has recently learned of Pact Magic. Intrigued, he decides to pursue his studies of it.

As he advances to 6th, he takes his first level in Binder. He also chooses to exchange one level of Incarnate for a second level of Binder. As a result, he is now a 6th-level character with 4 levels of Incarnate and 2 levels of Binder.

If Boris continues this trend, he will have retrained to become a full-fledged Binder by level 10.