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The Monster Manual on Class Skills, in part, says

Any skill in which a monster has acquired at least one rank or in which the creature has a racial bonus is considered a class skill for that kind of creature. Some monsters, such as the true dragons, have their class skills explicitly listed. Other monsters’ class skills can be determined from their statistics blocks. (307)

(Emphasis mine.) This statement's repeated as late as the Monster Manual V in its Glossary entry on class skills (208). However, prior to reading about this rule in the various Cooper's Compendiums, it'd never even occurred to me to apply this rule to races that advance using class levels.

For example, this rule may mean that the typical Player's Handbook elf (15–16) has as class skills the skills Listen, Search, and Spot… and the Player's Handbook makes no mention at all of this boon! Further, this may mean that the elven wizard substitution levels (Races of the Wild 157) that adds Search to an elf wizard's list of wizard class skills at each level its taken is actually usually doing diddly in this regard, the typical elf already having Search as a class skill because of the typical elf's racial bonus on Search skill checks. (Of course, not all kinds of elves have a bonus on Search skill checks, so the ability may still be useful, but still….)

And while this rule has little impact on most creatures PCs face in battle, it's at least interesting that a creature that becomes a lich (MM 166–8) gains as class skills forever the skills Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Search, Sense Motive, and Spot, and that a creature that becomes a vampire (250–3) gains as class skills forever the skills Bluff, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Search, Sense Motive, and Spot.

Questions

  • Using the does the Monster Manual rule that's quoted above really mean that all creatures—including PCs—treat as class skills for all of their classes any skill to which the creature's race grants a racial bonus? Or is there an exception clause somewhere for PCs, races that advance by class level, or something? For example, does the typical lightfoot halfling (PH 19–20 and MM 149–50) cleric also have Climb, Hide, Jump, and Listen as class skills?

    • If a race does receive as class skills the skills with which the race has racial bonuses, does a race that possesses a bonus on some skill uses with a skill have the whole skill as a class skill? For example, does the typical hill dwarf (PH 14–15 and MM 91–2) fighter gain the skills Appraise and Search (Craft already being a fighter class skill), despite hill dwarves only receiving racial bonus on skill checks with these skills in particular circumstances?
  • Is this a settled issue, and the community long ago agreed to either ignore this rule when it comes to PCs and NPCs that advance by class level or embrace this rule when it comes to such creatures, its impact so obvious that it goes unmentioned by the community? Or has this issue been largely ignored by the community?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wow, this would make so many builds easier. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Sep 8 '17 at 14:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wouldnt this mean that this is a case of specific (the pc creation rules, talking about humans, elves, halflings, etc) beats general (the monster manual rules, talking about creatures)? \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Sep 8 '17 at 14:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman I know, right? (I hope that means you were as unaware of this rule as I was… as the third bullet shows, I was a little nervous even asking the question, figuring this had to be resolved by now!) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 8 '17 at 14:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras I dunno! I mean, I guess there's an argument for the races in the Player's Handbook not getting this boon, but it might be much harder to argue against Monster Manual-only races not getting this boon as those races' primary source is the MM rather than the PH. But that does sound like the start of a good answer! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 8 '17 at 14:13
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No.

A race defined by class levels with a racial bonus in a skill does not automatically treat it as a class skill. The rules text quoted in the question has been taken out of context and does not apply to PC character creation.

The text referenced in the Monster Manual is written in the context of building and reading monster statblocks. The Skills heading of Reading the Monster Entries not only clarifies this, but also says that having class levels exempts a monster from receiving these free class skills.

Skills

This line gives the creature’s skills, along with each skill’s modifier (including adjustments for ability scores, armor check penalties, and any bonuses from feats or racial traits). All listed skills are class skills, unless the creature has a character class (noted in the entry). A creature’s type and Intelligence score determine the number of skill points it has. (7)

The text quoted on page 307 is a further elaboration on the above text from page 7 meant to explain how to interpret and rebuild a monster's statistics. It mentions skill ranks and racial bonuses because a skill is usually only listed in a monster's entry if that monster has a rank or a racial bonus to that skill. Indeed, the Glossary entry on class skills goes on to explain when you should interpret a skill listing as a class skill or whether the skill is listed simply because it's relevant to the monster's special abilities. This text has nothing to do with PC character creation, and should not be taken out of context to apply to how to build PC characters.

Not only has the text been taken out of context, but also you can easily see plenty of evidence that proves contrary to what this question suggests. For example, there exist numerous examples of NPCs that do not receive free class skills just for having a race with bonuses on skill checks. Some PC races explicitly give class skills as a racial trait.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The idea that All listed skills are class skills, unless the creature has a character class doesn't actually seem to obviate but, instead, supplement the rule quoted in the question. That is, a creature can have skills as class skills without having a racial bonus on skill checks with those skills, and the rule quoted in this answer would eliminate those skills as class skills but not necessarily the skill as a class skill via a racial bonus. A race that has as a special ability a skill that's always a class skill wouldn't lose that ability upon gaining a class level, would it? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 8 '17 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I don't follow how you come to that conclusion. It means, "If a monster is written without any class levels, it treats all skills listed in its entry as class skills." Remember that the rules referenced in the Monster Manual have the context of teaching the reader how to write and read monster entries. \$\endgroup\$ – Cyrad Sep 8 '17 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's cool. Let me try again. If it means If a monster is written without any class levels, it treats all skills listed in its entry as class skills that doesn't change the rule quoted in the question. That is, whether or not a creature has a racial bonus on class skill can be read as a separate and independent rule that grants specific creatures class skills above and beyond the general rule for reading stat blocks. Does that make sense? I'm not following (or maybe I'm just not trying hard enough to follow?) how the two rules interact: one doesn't really seem to touch the other. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 8 '17 at 15:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Upon reading this answer again, I'm mildly offended by it saying, "The rules text quoted in the question has been taken out of context and does not apply to PC character creation. The text you're referencing in the Monster Manual is written in the context of building and reading monster statblocks." The question quotes not some obscure bit of ephemera dredged from some weird build-your-own-monster, out-of-context corner of the text but the the Monster Manual's Glossary, where descriptions of how things work often lurk . The Glossary is the context. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 8 '17 at 19:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Likewise, saying that one rule is an extension of another when the two rules don't reference each other and are separated by 300 pages seems like a reach. I can totally agree that it's probably not supposed to work this way, but I'm having trouble buying that it does not. That is, the statement that This has nothing to do with PC character creation seems to be based more on feeling than on evidence. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 8 '17 at 19:22
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I have never before seen any discussion of the idea that the quoted rule might apply to the class skills of one’s class levels. That means that I’m reasonably sure that the answer to your third bullet point is mostly that the community has ignored this issued.

However, I have seen that rule mentioned before. Specifically, when people have racial hit dice, that rule is used to determine the class skills for those RHD. I have seen that question asked, and answered with the rule you quote, a fair few times.

So it seems to me that the implicit general consensus is that the rule you quote applies only to racial hit dice, not to all classes. Compare the wording there, “is considered a class skill for that kind of creature,” to the wording in, e.g., silverbrow humans:

Disguise Aptitude: Silverbrow humans have a +2 racial bonus on Disguise checks, and Disguise is always considered a class skill.

(emphasis mine)

The always here seems to be the bit that makes disguise aptitude different from a typical racial skill bonus. And, to be sure, silverbrow humans’ explicit statement of having Disguise always in-class may indicate that the racial skill bonus was insufficient to achieve this effect (but, to be fair, also could just be a redundant reminder).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Oddly, I can think of at least one case—a template from Dragon magazine—that sees a creature lose its racial skill bonuses. In the case of a silverbrow human, for instance, the dude would still have the Disguise skill as a class skill despite having lost the racial skill bonus. Obscure? Certainly, but not utterly pointless. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 8 '17 at 14:56

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