In video games, skills are usually learned through a standard mean. Be it by [[CharacterLevel leveling up]], or by [[JobSystem collecting job points]], or even by buying scrolls and books that teach the skills. No matter which method the game used, the majority of the skills are obtained by this method.

Enter this trope.

There are certain skills that cannot be learned through the usual method. They need to be obtained through other means, like advancing the storyline, building up [[LevelUpAtIntimacyFive friendship with your party members]], completing that old granny's request to [[IrrelevantSidequest buy her groceries]], or defeating the [[BonusBoss super-duper strong hidden monster]] whose existence [[GuideDangIt may or may not be hinted at]]. The point is, don't expect to learn this skill just by the standard procedure.

For a completionist, this might be the LastLousyPoint. May be related to EveryoneHasASpecialMove, if these moves must be unlocked by the story.

Related to SkillScoresAndPerks. For the leveling-up version, see EasyEXP.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Action RPG]]
* The ''KingdomHearts'' series spreads learning abilities across various methods (level up, progress the plot, defeat a boss, or complete some other challenge), but that comes across as not having one "standard" method in the first place. Though stat boosts come primarily through level-ups, so that might create an expectation that most character growth is from experience points.
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[[folder:Eastern RPG]]
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'', very often used together with GuideDangIt.
** The [[PowerCopying Blue Mage]] job is basically this as a whole job. While the rest of the jobs usually learn their skills by by gaining levels, Blue Mages don't. There are certain monster skills that the Blue Mages can learn. To learn these skills, the Blue Mage needs to be hit by the skill and survive (some games do it differently, like [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX eating the monster]]). The problem is, the game [[GuideDangIt won't bother telling which skills can be learned and which one can't or which monsters carry which skill]].
** SummonMagic in general is this trope. They are often learned through [[DefeatMeansFriendship defeating the summoned monsters in battle]], but there are many other means.
** Also LimitBreak. Each character usually have their own methods of obtaining their ultimate attacks.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV''
*** Because of a trauma, [[ChildMage Rydia]] cannot use the spell Fire, until [[WhiteMagicianGirl Rosa]] convinces her later in a storyline event. Hilariously enough, she can still learn Firaga given you do enough LevelGrinding.
*** Several of Rydia's [[SummonMagic summons]] can only be obtained from getting an item that RandomlyDrops from certain types of enemies. Pray that the RandomNumberGod is in a good mood.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' only had a couple of characters who would learn magic by leveling up, and a fairly limited set at that. In order to learn magic otherwise, [[SummonMagic Espers]] had to be equipped to the characters to teach them new spells by earning Ability Points (AP) in battle. Similar concepts were used in later games as well.
*** Some of the character-specific abilities also had special conditions, including the resident Blue Magic user.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' averts this at the start, granting characters new Limit Breaks through repeated combat, but to teach a given character their level 4 Limit Break, you'll need a special item. There's also the Enemy Skill materia; see Blue Mages.
** The Limit Breaks in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' are like this. Squall's Limit Breaks are learned by upgrading his weapon, with the final upgrade teaching him all 4 finishers. Zell reads magazines to learn some of the stronger attacks and finishing moves. Quistis uses certain items to learn skills. Rinoa takes her dog for a walk, and learns a new skill during the plot. Irvine can use different bullets based on what's in inventory. Selphie (technically) has all of her best Limit Break Magic available from the word go, but once you use the special ones once they show up more frequently in future.
*** Technically speaking, you can also use all of Zell's moves right from the start, but you not only need to know the exact input to use them, but also what preceeding moves you need to use for some of the finishers to be available, some of which also having the exact same requirements. In other words, unless you memorize a single specific path of moves to each finisher, you're better off just finding and reading the magazines for convinience's sake.
** The Overdrives in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'' have this feel, due to the [[CastOfSnowflakes diverse nature of the party]]. Tidus and Lulu gain new Overdrives by using previous ones repeatedly and levelling up, respectively. Yuna only has one skill that she starts with, but gets new Aeons to summon with it during the plot. Rikku's overdrives are based on the party's inventory. Auron levels up by collecting movie spheres, Kimahri learns Overdrives from enemies, and Wakka gets additional Reels as prizes from winning Blitzball tournaments. One of the most {{Egregious}} example of GuideDangIt would be Valefor's Energy Ray attack. How do you obtain it? ''By talking to a friggin' dog in the very first village''.
** In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'', most skills (including basic Attack) are represented by nodes on the Crystarium. The exception is the characters' [[SummonMagic Eidolons]], which are obtained during the storyline and stored in the inventory.
** Ramza's skillset gets larger over the course of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics''. There's also the Ultima spell (learnable only by Ramza and Alma, and only during two storyline fights) and the Zodiac summon (learnable only by summoners, during one optional fight), which are taught by being hit with (and surviving) the skill in combat, as opposed to most skill which are purchased with JP.
*** Most other high-end spells that you can normally learn by spending JP can also be learned the same way, but due to the difficulty in actually finding enemies able to cast them and the need to use the same class that naturally learns the said spell, few people find about it on their own. That, plus since the chance to learn the spell this way is the same as getting it from the crystal the enemy might turn into after dying and doing it that way doesn't require you to be the same class as the enemy, it's much more convinient to just kill them and attempt to get the skill from their crystal: the only real advantage of learning the spell by getting hit by it is the ability to possibly teach it to multiple characters, but chances are you won't have multiple mages of the right class available when you manage to find an enemy that can cast a spell that none of them have learned yet.
*** Mostly downplayed in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTacticsAdvance'' and ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTacticsA2'', which require you to equip an item that teaches a skill before you're able to learn it by good ol' LevelGrinding. Played straight by the Thief class skill [[ImpossibleThief Steal: Ability]] in ''Advance'', which allows you to [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin steal the knowledge of how to use a skill directly from an enemy's brain]][[note]]Steal: Ability can only steal skills that the thief would be capable of learning from equipment (based on their species, not on their current class; a hume can steal an Illusionist ability, for example, even if they're currently a soldier), and can't steal Reaction or Support abilities.[[/note]]. ''Advance'' [[BreadEggsBreadedEggs thieves can also steal equipment that teaches new skills from enemies, for you to equip and grind]]. Thieves were {{nerf}}ed in ''A2'', losing the ability to steal abilities and equipment. Blue Mages also show up in ''Advance'' and ''A2'', and learn skills [[PowerCopying the usual way]]; [[GuideDangIt some enemies are only in certain missions, though]], and missing them there will leave their teachable skills LostForever. [[LethalJokeCharacter Morphers]] can also use monster souls to transform into monsters, gaining the monster's stats and abilities; to do so, a Hunter has to capture at least one monster of the species to get a soul for the Morpher to equip; the aforementioned GuideDangIt monsters are morphable, too, so you need to capture them as well as let the BM be hit by them.
** ''VideoGame/BravelyDefault'' also has Blue Mages, called Vampires. [[AntiFrustrationFeatures The bestiary clearly indicates which monster skills they can learn]]. ...[[GuideDangIt Except for ones from DLC monsters that don't show up in the bestiary]].
* ''Franchise/{{Atelier}}'' series.
** Several examples in the first ''VideoGame/AtelierIris'' game.
*** At one point in the story, [[ItemCaddy Klein]] will get the option to either learn the skill Living Item or the ability to create Ether Bulb. You can get the other one later, though.
*** [[SquishyWizard Norn]]'s Illusion skill is gotten through solving the puzzle in Ka Luda's playground the second time, using the black pieces instead of white.
*** [[TheArcher Delsus]]' Spirit Shot skill, gotten from completing an optional sidequest from the old man at Lake Forwell near the end of the game.
*** [[CuteBruiser Lita]]'s Pale Wing skill, gotten after a certain storyline event near the end of the game.
** In ''VideoGame/AtelierIris2'', Gray and Fee learn Dragon Slayer and Ein Zecksclaw respectively during the main story.
** In ''VideoGame/ManaKhemia2FallOfAlchemy'', Lily is the only one whose upgraded skills, instead of learned through the Grow Book, are obtained through certain cutscenes after creating certain items.
** All of Gino's skills in ''VideoGame/AtelierTotori'' are obtained through [[LevelUpAtIntimacy5 doing his character events]].
* In ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'', several of [[MissionControl Rise's]] skills are obtained through [[LevelUpAtIntimacy5 Social Link]] instead of leveling up.
** In ''[[UpdatedRerelease Persona 4 Golden]]'', every party member gets a unique skill that is obtained through talking to them on a certain date after maxing their Social Links.
** All the party members have social link skills. Golden also adds "Bike Ride" skills, which allow the party members to learn new skills late in the game by going on a trip to a spa with the protagonist.
* In ''VideoGame/DigitalDevilSaga'', if you answer certain dialogue choices throughout [[OneGameForThePriceOfTwo the two games]], [[TheChick Argilla]] and [[EleventhHourRanger Seraph]] will automatically obtain the skills Seraph Lore and Reincarnate respectively when you reach the final dungeon. Notably, you have to import a Digital Devil Saga 1 save into Digital Devil Saga 2 for those skills to be actually learned by those two, and should you merely import a Digital Devil Saga 1 save into Digital Devil Saga 2, then [[TheSmartGuy Gale]] will always learn Pyriphlegethon, regardless of dialogue choices.
* Some of Ryuudo's most advanced special moves in ''VideoGame/GrandiaII'' can only be learned after defeating [[spoiler:his brother Melfis]]. Millenia, meanwhile, gains new special attacks from every piece of Valmar the party defeats.
* In ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'' very many of the ultimate or signature attacks are only obtained through doing a sidequest, some of which can be impossible to get [[GuideDangIt if you don't make the right decisions]] during gameplay. In fact, getting the special ability for one character, Razzly the fairy, requires that you choose the ''worst'' option out of a quest in the previous disc and results in many innocent deaths (it's the tragedy that ends up empowering her).
* In ''Videogame/EarthBound'', spells are acquired by leveling up, except for the two tiers of Teleport for Ness. The first Teleport must be learned [[ItMakesSenseInContext from a talking monkey]], and the second one is automatically acquired after completing the Magicant level.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Mother 3}}'', Lucas learns [[LightEmUp PK Flash]] by ''getting struck by lightning.'' Kumatora also learns PK Starstorm in the same fashion, though it's voluntary in her case.
* Smeargle, from ''Videogame/{{Pokemon}}'', who is the only Pokemon who can permanently learn attacks via Sketch. Everyone else has to level up to learn new moves or use a TM, HM or move tutor.
* The ''VideoGame/TalesSeries'' does this frequently, making some skills obtained through story events, sidequests, or by using certain other skills enough times.
* In the ''VideoGame/{{SaGa}}'' series, you can generally spark learning new skills (randomly, of course) by spamming abilities lower on the skill tree.
** In ''VideoGame/{{SaGa Frontier 2}}'', you can also enter one-on-one battle mode and enter your commands manually (i.e. "Slash + Backslash = Cross Slash", rather than selecting the "Cross Slash" skill from your menu), triggering new skills that way.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:First-Person Shooter]]
* In ''VideoGame/CliveBarkersUndying'', all spells are acquired by taking a magic scroll, except for the Lightning spell. For that one, you must take a lightning rod and put it in a orifice on a roof. A lightning will strike the rod and you will receive the electricity, which will give you the spell.
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[[folder:LARP]]
* The ''LARP/OtakonLARP'' characters can only learn new skills, and can only earn one rank in that skill.
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[[folder:Roguelike]]
* ''VideoGame/AncientDomainsOfMystery'' is unique in regards to this trope. You only improve your existing skills by levelling up and the usual way to learn new ones is from [=NPCs=] and wishes. However, mindcrafters and elementalists learn new Mindcrafting powers and new spells, respectively, upon level up.
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[[folder:TurnBasedStrategy]]
* In ''Franchise/{{Disgaea}}'', starting from the second game there is always one party member whose ultimate skill is obtained through story instead of leveling up.
** In ''VideoGame/Disgaea2CursedMemories'' we have Yukimaru's [[SelfDuplication Midare Fubuki]].
** In ''VideoGame/Disgaea3AbsenceOfJustice'' we have MainCharacter Mao's [[OneWingedAngel Vasa Aergun]].
** Finally [[TokenHuman Fuuka's]] [[HumongousMecha Prinny Kaiser XX]] in ''VideoGame/Disgaea4APromiseUnforgotten''.
* In ''VideoGame/XCOMEnemyUnknown'', the basic psychic ability Mind Flay is not part of the normal class-based SkillTree but is unlocked randomly for soldiers with particularly high Will score after a prolonged stay in the psychic labs. More advanced psychic powers are tied not to the CharacterLevel but to [[StatGrinding how often you use Mind Flay and other powers you already unlocked]], while the most powerful psychic ability, the Rift, can only be learned by [[spoiler:the Volunteer, a single soldier who enters the Gollop Chamber in the endgame]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:WesternRPG]]
* Squad members' [[EveryoneHasASpecialMove unique Loyalty Powers]] in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' and ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' can be learned by Shepard, too, but only after completing their personal missions (and only one at a time). In the second game, the Loyalty Power would only be unlocked for the Squad Member themselves after completing said personal mission.
* In ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'', each party member has a hidden perk tree of "Inspired" abilities, which are automatically unlocked at [[RelationshipValues 25, 50, 75, and 100 Disposition]] and gave increasing bonuses to their primary character stats. If their Disposition to the Warden dropped, however, the perks were revoked. Wynne additionally had an active power [[spoiler:Vessel of the Spirit]], which was unlocked by certain story events.
* In ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'', reaching either end of the [[RelationshipValues Friendship/Rivalry scale]] of a party member made it [[UndyingLoyalty lock there permanently]] and unlocked that character's unique permanent bonus.
* In ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic II'', you normally learn skills by investing skill/feat points into them. However, you can only learn advanced lightsaber combat forms by receiving instruction from or fighting the Jedi Masters you find throughout the game.
* Creator/{{Obsidian|Entertainment}} did something similar to the ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' example two years earlier in ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2: Mask of the Betrayer'', where increasing your RelationshipValues with party members unlocked bonus feats (mainly skill and ability boosts applied to both you and the party member). Meanwhile the ''Storm of Zehir'' expansion has a list of Teamwork Feats which require two steps to unlock: meet requirements outlined in the game manual, then accept and complete a corresponding sidequest from the Adventurers' Guild at Crossroad Keep. All three games also give history feats for completing story requirements, and in ''[=SoZ=]'' some of them grant bonuses.
* ''KingdomOfLoathing'' has a number of skills that can only be acquired from consumable quest rewards, and a few from special encounters.
** Undersea skills are learned from following an old sea monkey who [[UnwantedRescue doesn't want to be rescued]] until he does something [[BadAssGrandpa badass]].
** The skills for [[BareFistedMonk The Way of the Surprising Fist]] path are [[WaxOnWaxOff learned entirely from special encounters]].
* In ''VideoGame/TheWitcher'', some perks/upgrades can only be learned by crafting and consuming unique mutagenic potions, e.g. Golem's Pith potion unlocks the Moonrise ability. Also, the [[FunctionalMagic Signs]] have to be unlocked at specific Circles of Elements before you can invest more skill points into them.
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