The actual question:
Suppose I wrote a campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, and wanted to say something like “To use this material, you need Tome of Battle by Wizards of the Coast,” and then say something like “The monks of this monastery take levels in the swordsage class (Tome of Battle pg. 16),” in the book?
Could I go further and say, “the monks of this monastery take levels in a modified swordsage class (Tome of Battle pg. 16), which receive the following bonuses instead of their usual features listed at first level:” and then include some original content? What if it was worded as “which replace the usual Discipline Focus features of that class with the following:” and then wrote original content?
A Footnote about WotC’s trademarks
For reference, Wizards of the Coast does not have a trademark on “swordsage” or “Discipline Focus” – would things change if they did? What about things they do have trademarks on? I believe they do on some of their iconic monsters (the ones the OGL doesn’t let you use).
Open Game License?
Does the answer change if I use the Open Game License (RTF file)? (obviously the bit about the Product Identity monsters does)
Direction for answers: what’s legal, not what I can get away with
I am much more interested in what is actually legal than what I can get away with. Things that legally require the tacit permission of the copyright-holder are OK, but should be marked as such. This would be, at least in theory, for sale, though my understanding is that this doesn’t actually make any difference except that it might reduce the chances of WotC turning a blind eye.
Disclaimers for everyone!
Also, to save everyone the trouble of writing it: Stack Exchange answers are not, and cannot be, legal advice. Most people answering them are not lawyers, and even those who are, are not dispensing it through this medium. I understand that all answers are being offered under this caveat, and of course would check with a lawyer if this project actually seems to be getting anywhere. I was just curious if anyone had any material they could cite that would suggest things one way or the other. If I get an ironclad “that’s illegal” I’ll have to rethink some things, but it will be very useful to know that now rather than after I’ve done the work.