Rules Index | GM Screen | Player's Guide

Chapter 1: Running the Game / Running Downtime


Source GM Core pg. 50
The retraining rules on page 440 of the Player Core allow a player to change some character choices, but they rely on you, as the GM, to decide whether the retraining requires a teacher, how long it takes, if it has any associated costs, and if the ability can be retrained at all. It's reasonable for a character to retrain most choices, and you should allow them. Only choices that are truly intrinsic to the character, like a sorcerer's bloodline, should be off limits without extraordinary circumstances. Consider what effort each PC puts forth as they retrain, so you can describe how they feel their abilities change. What kind of research and practice do they do? If they have a teacher, what advice does that teacher give?

You can run a campaign without retraining if you want the PCs to be more bound by their decisions or are running a game without downtime. However, if your campaign doesn't use downtime rules but a player really regrets a decision made while building or leveling up their character, you might make an exception for them, either by letting them simply change the decision or by finding a rare in-story element to justify the decision, such as a rare potion or a magical nexus that alters time.

Try to make retraining into a story. Use NPCs the character already knows as teachers, have a character undertake intense research in a mysterious old library, or ground the retraining in the game's narrative by making it the consequence of something that happened to the character in a previous session.


Source GM Core pg. 50
Retraining a feat or skill increase typically takes a week. Class features that require a choice can also be retrained but take longer: at least a month, possibly more. Retraining might take even longer if it would be especially physically demanding or require travel, lengthy experimentation, or in-depth research, but usually, you won't want to require more than a month for a feat or skill, or 4 months for a class feature.

A character might need to retrain several options at once. For instance, retraining a skill increase might mean they have skill feats they can no longer use, and so they'll need to retrain those as well. You can add all this retraining time together, then reduce the total a bit to represent the cohesive nature of the retraining.

Instruction and Costs

Source GM Core pg. 50
The rules abstract the process of learning new things as you level up—you're learning on the job—but retraining suggests that the character works with a teacher or undergoes specific practice to retrain. If you want, you can entirely ignore this aspect of retraining, but it does give an opportunity to introduce (or reintroduce) NPCs and further the game's story. You can even have one player character mentor another, particularly when it comes to retraining skills.

You don't have to use teachers, but it gives you a great way to introduce a new NPC or bring back an existing one in a new role. The role of a teacher could also be filled by communing with nature for a druid, poring through a massive grimoire for a wizard, and so on. The important part is the guidance gained from that source. The following list includes sample teachers.
  • Archwizard Koda Mohanz, wizard academy proctor
  • Bagra Redforge, aged artisan
  • Baroness Ivestia II, tutor in etiquette and social maneuvering
  • Byren Effestos, Esquire, advisor in matters of law, politics, and finance
  • Dr. Phinella Albor, professor of medicine and surgery
  • Dr. Revis Enzerrad, mystic versed in the occult
  • Grita the Swamp Sage, purveyor of strange draughts and cryptic riddles
  • Jeballewn Leastfire, expert and tutor in alchemical experimentation
  • Kpunde Neverlost, retired veteran adventurer
  • Lyra, teller of legends and master of handicrafts
  • Major Venaeus, instructor of military tactics
  • Mother Elizia, high priest and religious scholar
  • Professor Kurid Yamarrupan, senior university lector
  • Quintari Solvar, coach for fitness and healthy living
  • Ragged Sanden, hermit and speaker for nature
  • Silent Flame, Master of the Seventeen Forms
  • Tembly the Daring, veteran acrobat and circus performer
  • Twelve Fingers, experienced thief and spy
  • Wen Hardfoot, well-traveled scout and naturalist
  • Zuleri Gan, conductor, playwright, and music scholar
Any costs to retraining should be pretty minor—about as much as a PC could gain by Earning Income over the same period of time. The costs are mostly there to make the training feel appropriate within the context of the story, not to consume significant amounts of the character's earnings. A teacher might volunteer to work without pay as a reward for something the character has already done or simply ask for a favor in return.

Extreme Retraining

Source GM Core pg. 51
By the default rules, PCs can't retrain their class, ancestry, background, attribute modifiers, or anything else intrinsic to their character. However, you might be able to find a way to make this happen in the story, going beyond the realm of retraining and into deeper, story-based quests. Class and attribute modifiers are the simplest of these changes to justify, as they could come about solely through intense retraining. Especially at low levels, you might let a player rebuild their character as a different class, perhaps starting by retraining into a multiclass dedication for their new class and swapping into more feats from that dedication as partial progress toward the class change. Just be mindful that they aren't swapping over to switch out a class they think is great at low levels for one they think is stronger at high levels. Retraining a class or ability modifiers should take a long time, typically months or years.

Changing an ancestry or heritage requires some kind of magic, such as reincarnation into a new form. This might take a complex ritual, exposure to bizarre and rare magic, or the intervention of a deity. For instance, you might require an elf who wants to be a halfling to first become trained in Halfling Lore, worship the halfling pantheon, and eventually do a great service for halflings to get a divine blessing of transformation.

Retraining a background requires altering the game's story so that the events the PC thought happened didn't. That can be pretty tricky to justify! One easy scenario is that they had their memory altered and need to get it magically restored to reveal their “true” background—the new retrained background.

Of course, in all these cases you could make an exception and just let the player make the change without explanation. This effectively acknowledges that you're playing a game and don't need an in-world justification to make certain retroactive changes. For some groups, it might be easier, or require less suspension of disbelief, to ask the group to adjust their ideas of what previously happened in the game—retconning events—than to create an in-world justification for something like an elf turning into a halfling via magic.