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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default An NPC class to make badass npcs without overshadowing the pcs: specialized expert

    The best blacksmith in town, the university professor, the famous painter, they all have a thing in common: they are exceptionally good at what they do, while being comparatively pretty bad at everything else. This class aims at creating a kind of figure that often interacts with the pcs, but that can't really be rendered with the normal npc classes; the highly skilled professional.

    Adventures: specialized experts rarely adventures; they are npcs doing their job better than anyone else, and their task is to provide the pcs with services no one else can provide, thus allowing all manners of plot hooks.

    Characteristics: This class specializes in one specific thing, and it becomes extremely good at it, to the detriment of all else.

    Preamble: why I created this class and why most DM can profit from it

    Spoiler: open if you want to read some philosophical musings on why this class fills a vacant role
    Show
    I had this great idea for a low level adventure. It involved escorting a caravan through a goblin-infested land .Yeah, when described like that, it doesn't seem that original. It had a lot of interesting worldbuilding points about the goblins, but the linchpin of the adventure would be the caravan guide: An extremely skilled guy who could do impressive feats of reading the desert and tracking and generally ensuring the caravan would stay out of troubles (well, mostly; as there were pcs on board, of course he had to fail at some point), who also happened to be a misanthropist with a very abrasive personality who enjoied being abrasive, taking great pleasure in the fact that no matter how much he was being a ****, customers would still come to him because of his skill. He is obese, and is always seen eating the most improbable food (like pizza with chocolate cream, pineapples and french fries, or drinking a mixture of wine, milk and lemon juice), which earned him the nickname "da drain", but he has solid mucles underneath all the fat; in fact, he can march for days tirelessly while giving the impression of being about to fall over from exhaustion from the first minute. Once the goblins captured him and, wanting to make him suffer, left him in the middle of the desert naked and with a broken leg; he managed to survive and crawl back to civilization.
    My players loved him, and he remains my bet-characterized npc to this day.
    As you may notice, I had a problem. This guy is clearly very strong, he must have a lot of levels to pull out those feats, and he also has high STR and CON. He would clearly be able to handle a band of goblins for himself (even goblins with one or two class levels, as I made them), he woul never need low level adventurers to escort him. And high level adventurers would have better things to do than sitting on a cart for weeks for a small pay waiting for an attack that generally doesn't happen. So i wanted a class that could give da drain a huge survival check, and a large fortitude check against exhaustion, without buffing his combat prowess.

    It's not an isolated problem. Virtually every DM who wanted to introduce an npc of great skill giving the pcs a quest had to answer one of two questions: if this guy is so good, why does he need the pcs (for a low level party) or, if the pcs are so good, why would they need this guy (for a high level party). This happens because lof the way levels and skills work. A high level wizard who took one skill point in profession (blacksmith) every level is just as good at blacksmithing as an equally high level expert blacksmith, despite the wizard having taken up blacksmithing just as an hobby, one of many. It doesn't work that way in real life; people are rarely equally good at making several things. those who make a specialized profession tend to be so much better at it than they are at their hobbies.

    And so I came up with the specialized expert: a class devoted to being masters of one specific field, giving huge boons to one single skill check and moderate boons to other skill checks regarding the same activity, and virtually nothing else.


    As a DM, you can use this class everytime you need an npc to be capable of doing something the pcs can't do, but you don't want him to compete with the pcs in any other aspect. Examples of how it can be used:
    - a senior wizard with extensive knowledge may be a wizard/specialized expert of spells; that way he could have higher knowledge or spellcraft checks than the party wizard (can do something the party can't do), but less spells (is less powerful than the party, and doesn't compete for power with them. This guy can reasonably send the party to do some quest he can't do by himself. I hear you asking "what kind of brain-dead moron would multiclass from wizard to gain some skill boosts???". Well, remember that real people do not gain levels. they do stuff because they like it, or because they think it will profit them, and levels are an abstraction to represent their skill. This guy studied a lot of magic theory, so he knows a lot. He never choose to cast less spells or have higher skill modifiers.
    - anyone with specialized knowledge that the party lacks could be a specialized expert. The wizard can't make on his own all the knowledge rolls the party need, and may have to hire this guy.
    - the party may want a weapon of supreme quality to enchant; the party fighter can't do it just because he spent one skill point per level in craft (weapons)

    In general, this class can create a lot of positive interactions between the party and the world; if you like that kind of adventuring (as opposed to the adventuring where the party stays in its ivory tower and does everything by itself) then this class may improve your gaming world.

    Alignment: Specialized experts can be very different from each other, and can be any alignment.

    Religion: Any, but generally one connected to their job; a craftsman may worship the god of craftmanship, a con artist may worship the god of thieves, and so on.

    Background: While most specialized experts were formally trained from a young age to reach their level of skill, some are self-trained. As is wide the array of things they can specialize on, the only thing really accomunating two specialized experts is their love for their specific field and their motivation toward self-improving.

    Races: Any, although generally the more technologically and culturally advanced a race is, the more specialized experts it tends to have.

    Game Rule Information:
    Specialized experts have the following game statistics.
    Chosen task: Specialized experts choose something they want to specialize on. It can be anything, really; from knowing spells to being a scholar on history of the XIX century to being a hunter to being a street-food retailer. This choice cannot be changed and defines their class, to the point that specialized experts at different things count as different classes for the purpose of multiclassing.
    Chosen skill: The chosen task of a specialized expert is always dependent from a specific skill, which will be the chosen skill. In the examples above, a scholar on history will have knowledge (history) as his chosen skill, a hunter will have survival, a street-food retailer will have profession (cook). In most cases it's straightforward which chosen skill a specialized expert should have, but not always. The specialized expert at knowing spells may have either spellcraft or knowledge (arcana) as his chosen skill; either way, make a decision and stick to the choice.
    A specialized expert is required to keep his chosen skill maximized at all times to keep advancing in the class. In order to multiclass to specialized expert, one must have the chosen skill maximized to the best of what his current class/level setup allows.
    Ability Scores: What ability scores a specialized expert needs depends on his chosen task
    Alignment: Any
    Hit Dice: Variable. If a chosen task does not entail any kind of physical exercice, like a scholar or clerk, hit dice is d4. If it entailes consistent labor, but little risk of injury (like a blacksmith, or a hunter), hit dice is d6. Very rarely a specialized expert will have hit dice d8, for dangerous occupations that entail being wounded on a regular base; a caravan guide who travels through goblin-infested lands and has done his share of fighting whenever stealth didn't work is one such example.

    Class Skills: Variable. Basically, everything related to the chosen task is a class skill.
    For example, a caravan guide will have as class skills spot and listen to scout, hide and move silently to sneak past potential dangers while scouting, ride because you'll have a horse to cover more ground, and speak language because you'll deal with a large variety of people from different places, knowledge (nature, geography) for obvious reasons. Plus of course survival, which is the chosen skill. A blacksmith will have profession (blacksmith) as chosen skill, and class skills appraise, craft (only metal or mostly metallic objects), open locks (he makes locks, he knows all about opening them), and maybe knowledge (architecture and engineering) if he makes metal objects to be used for such purposes.
    Additionally, a specialized expert picks 2 + Int modifier other skills as class skills; they represent additional stuff he may be good at doing, while not being related to his chosen task; basically, they are hobbies.
    Skill Points at First Level: generally (4 + Int modifier) x 4; if you decide that a specific chosen task would require knowing more or less skills, feel free to use 6 or 2 + int modifier x4.
    Skill Points at Each Additional Level: generally 4 + Int modifier; see what said above.
    Saving throws: Good saving throws are also variable and depends on the choosen task. An intellectual profession like a scholar will come with good will saves. A physically taxing profession like a blacksmith will give good fortitude saves. Chosen tasks with high reflexes saves are rare, a circus tumbler/performer may be one such example.
    Weapon and Armor Proficiency: the specialized expert is proficient in one simple weapon of his choosing. Furthermore, he is proficient with any weapon that makes sense given his chosen task (for example, a blacksmith will be proficient at swinging a hammer)

    The specialized expert
    Level BAB Chosen skill bonus Special
    1st +0 +2 chosen skill
    2nd +1 +3
    3rd +1 +3 1st related proficiency
    4th +2 +4 Super Specialization
    5th +2 +4
    6th +3 +5
    7th +3 +5 2nd related proficiency
    8th +4 +6
    9th +4 +6
    10th +5 +7 Foremost of the field
    11th +5 +7 3rd related proficiency
    12th +6/+1 +8
    13th +6/+1 +8
    14th +7/+2 +9
    15th +7/+2 +9 4th related proficiency
    16th +8/+3 +10 achievement of a lifetime
    17th +8/+3 +10
    18th +9/+4 +11
    19th +9/+4 +11 5th related proficiency
    20th +10/+5 +12

    Chosen skill: The inextricable link between a specialized expert, his chosen task and his chosen skill has been discussed above. The specialized expert gains a competence bonus to every skill check of his chosen skill equal to 2 + half his level of specialized expert, as detailed in the table. Furthermore, a natural 1 with such a skill check is not considered an automatic failure.

    related proficiency: At third level, the specialized expert has become very good at something that helps him perform his job better, earning a +1 competence bonus, or another similar scaling bonus. This point is open to a lot of freedom for the DM, because it could be virtually anything. Generally it could mean a +1 to a class skill different from the chosen skill. For example, a blacksmith may have become very good at pricing items, gaining a bonus to appraise. A caravan guide may have become particularly good at riding. A scholar of history may have become knowledgeable with the places where this history happens, gaining a bonus to knowledge (geography), or maybe knowledge (local) if he specialized on a narrow geographical area. Or it could be a saving throw bonus in a specific circumstance: for example the blacksmith breaths noxious fumes from the forge all day, so he may have a bonus to saving throws against poison. The caravan guide walks or rides all day under the sun, he may have a bonus to saving throws against exhaustion and the effect of hot weather. You may even pick something more exotic: the caravan guide walks a lot, so he gains 5 feet per round of movement speed when walking. Often he has found goblin scouts, and has snuck behind them and slit their throats; he gains 1d6 of sneak attack damage against a flat-footed humanoid opponent. Sky is the limit. Whatever whacky skill you want to give your specialized expert, related proficiency is here for you.
    For every four additional levels, the specialized expert gain another related proficiency with a +1 bonus, and the bonus of his other related proficiencies increase by 1 (or 5 additional feet of movement, and extra d6 of damage, whatever) in a manner similar to the ranger's favored enemy.

    Super specialization: As the specialized expert becomes more skilled, he specialize to a more narrow field. he chooses a specific field of his chosen skill, and he gains a +2 competence bonus to all related skill checks; however, specialization comes with a price, and he also suffers a -2 penalty (ok, just his competence bonus becoming lower) on skill checks not related to that specific field. For example, a blacksmith may specialize in making weapons, gaining +2 when making a weapon but suffering a -2 when making an armor, or a clock. A caravan guide may specialize in cold desert terrain, gaining a +2 to survival checks in cold deserts but a -2 in every other environment.
    A specialized expert can change his field of specialization, but it requires a lot of time and studying to respecialize in another field while you progressively get rusty in your old field. A reasonable time could be 6 months to 3 years of in-universe time. This also applies to changing your foremost of the field and achievement of a lifetime specializations (see below)

    Foremost of the field: The specialized expert becomes even more specialized in an even narrower field as he progresses. This time he must choose an even more narrow field that is a subset of his super specialized field; he gains a +4 proficiency bonus to it (stacking with super specialization) but he suffers an additional -2 to skill checks not related to the field where he is superspecialized. For example, the blacksmith from the example above may become foremost of the field of sword forging; he will therefore have +6 when making a sword, +2 when making any other weapon, and -4 when making anything that is not a weapon, compared to his normal skill check. A caravan guide may specialize in that specific desert trail he generally takes, an historian may specialize in the hystory of a specific nation in a specific century.

    Achievement of a lifetime: The most skilled specialized experts can put all their knowledge and preparation to use for doing something truly unique, something of such astounding magnificence that will probably be remembered in history. First, the specialized expert must decide which achievement he wants to produce; it must be a specific action that falls within his foremost of the field specialization. He must then prepare for this action. The specific nature of the preparation varies depending on the nature of the achievement: for a piece of art, it may require making preparatory sketches and studying the raw materials. For the unhearting of hidden knowledge, it may require undertaking extensive studies and possibly experiments. For a daring con, it may require planting rumors and forging documents and bribing selected people to ensure everything plays as you planned, as well as a pshycological study of the intended victim to see what could fool her best.
    Regardless of what exactly the preparation entails, the specialized expert gains another +4 to that skill check in addition to all his other competence bonuses, and he can automatically reroll any result lower than 10.
    Examples of real-world achievements of a lifetime:
    the monna lisa (craft, art)
    the theory of relativity (knowledge, physics)
    the lord of the rings (perform, storytelling)
    the Antikythera mechanism (craft, mechanics?)
    the Ponzi scheme (bluff)
    any olimpic record (jump, swim, and other similar stuff)
    An achievement of a lifetime is something akin to those. Its result can be an item so well built that it performs better than any nonmagical item could by the rules, well above the simple masterwork bonuses (and may even stack bonuses with magic enhancement, thus providing a potential macguffin, or at least a very expensive piece of loot), and that even magic cannot replicate (at least not mundane magic, the higher level spells may); a world-famous piece of art; a seminal research; a fraud that earned millions of gold pieces.
    Depending on its nature, you may be able to replicate an achievement of a lifetime. For example, if you learned to craft a supremely exquisite sword, you certainly can forge multiple copies. If you lerned how to perfect a specific jump, you can perform it many times, provided you have an identical runway. Once you made a master painting, you can paint another identical copy, though it's generally not done. If you wrote a beautiful book, you can certainly write it again, but there isn't much point to it. Once you research some particularly difficult bit of knowledge, it becomes known and your research can be found in any library, there's no benefit to replicating the research. Once you scammed a person, he generally realizes he's been scammed and you can't replicate the feat; if the information doesn't spread, though, you may be able to scam different people in the same way.
    In particular this skill is meant to give some sinergy to high level wizards and artisans. even a powerful magical weapon may gain additional benefits from being crafted particularly well, giving your pc wizard a reason to undertake a quest to find the best swordsmith of the planet to create a truly unique item.

    A final note: this class can be fairly strong and it could attract some pcs; but better to avoid it, as they would absolutely trump the party when it comes to their chosen task and be asbolutely useless when it comes to anything else. this is a state of being fitting for npcs
    Last edited by King of Nowhere; 2017-08-31 at 07:05 PM.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    NinjaGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    Default Re: An NPC class to make badass npcs without overshadowing the pcs: specialized exper

    This is a worthy effort, and a worthy goal.

    But you can do a lot of what you want here without writing up a new class. You could stat up Da Drain as a 3rd level Expert.

    Elite array, S 12 +1 C 15 +2 D 10 I 13 +1 W 14 + 2 Ch 8 -1
    Survival 6 ranks
    Knowledge NAture 6 ranks
    Profession TEamster 6 ranks.
    Plus 3-4 other skills

    Feats:
    1st level Skill Focus: Survival
    1st level (human): Endurance.
    3rd level: Great Fortitude.

    That gives you a Survival check of 6 + 2 (Wis) + 2 (synergy) + 3 (feat) = + 13.
    And he's making Fortitude saves at +3 (class, make Fort his good save instead of Will) + 2 (Con) + 2 (Great Fortitude) +7, and +11 to saves that Endurance boosts.

    You could also handwave a pseudo-racial trait ("Son of the Desert" or something) to give him a +2 in desert environments and a -2 elsewhere to Survival, Knowledge-Nature, Fortitude saves, etc, giving him a +15 to Survival and +13 to Fortitude saves from environmental damage, and putting his Knowledge NAture checks at +11 (6 ranks + 1 Int + 2 synergy +2 desert)

    At the same time, as an Expert 3 his BAB is +2, he's limited to light armor (if he's even wearing any) and he's got 3d6 + 6 = 17 hit points. Which is enough to tank travelling across a desert for a few days taking nonlethal heat and starvation damage, but not optimized for solo-ing a band of goblins.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    NinjaGuy

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    Aug 2013

    Default Re: An NPC class to make badass npcs without overshadowing the pcs: specialized exper

    Yknow what? I think what you really wanted to do was rework the Skill Focus feat, and use your Chosen Skill mechanic.

    Chosen Skill could be a feat in itself, make Skill Focus a requirement, and change it from 1/2 CL + 2 to just 1/2 CL.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: An NPC class to make badass npcs without overshadowing the pcs: specialized exper

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    Yknow what? I think what you really wanted to do was rework the Skill Focus feat, and use your Chosen Skill mechanic.

    Chosen Skill could be a feat in itself, make Skill Focus a requirement, and change it from 1/2 CL + 2 to just 1/2 CL.
    Not at all. If I remade the skill focus, anyone could take skill focus and be just that good. No, I simply wanted a class that was much better than any other class of the same level at making a specific skill check. I wanted a class that could be better than any pc at a certain skill so that the pcs would have a good reason to hire them, while being weak enough at everything else that they would have a reason to need the pcs.
    If I just changed the skill focus mechanics, then any pc could invest but a single feat and a skill point per level and be just as good as a specialized expert, which won't do. This class was designed to be "the guy that the pcs have to hire to do something they can't do", so it needs a mechanic to boost that something more than the pc classes can. Also, I wanted a highly customizable npc class that could accomodate any strange capacity I wanted to give to an npc, and the related proficiency does just that. The "super specialization" line instead is mostly there for fluff, but I like it a lot.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    This is a worthy effort, and a worthy goal.

    But you can do a lot of what you want here without writing up a new class. You could stat up Da Drain as a 3rd level Expert.

    Elite array, S 12 +1 C 15 +2 D 10 I 13 +1 W 14 + 2 Ch 8 -1
    Survival 6 ranks
    Knowledge NAture 6 ranks
    Profession TEamster 6 ranks.
    Plus 3-4 other skills

    Feats:
    1st level Skill Focus: Survival
    1st level (human): Endurance.
    3rd level: Great Fortitude.

    That gives you a Survival check of 6 + 2 (Wis) + 2 (synergy) + 3 (feat) = + 13.
    And he's making Fortitude saves at +3 (class, make Fort his good save instead of Will) + 2 (Con) + 2 (Great Fortitude) +7, and +11 to saves that Endurance boosts.

    You could also handwave a pseudo-racial trait ("Son of the Desert" or something) to give him a +2 in desert environments and a -2 elsewhere to Survival, Knowledge-Nature, Fortitude saves, etc, giving him a +15 to Survival and +13 to Fortitude saves from environmental damage, and putting his Knowledge NAture checks at +11 (6 ranks + 1 Int + 2 synergy +2 desert)

    At the same time, as an Expert 3 his BAB is +2, he's limited to light armor (if he's even wearing any) and he's got 3d6 + 6 = 17 hit points. Which is enough to tank travelling across a desert for a few days taking nonlethal heat and starvation damage, but not optimized for solo-ing a band of goblins.
    well, first thing first, I don't have that much knowledge of mechanics myself, so while I could certainly have made something similar, I didn't knew how well enough. And second, a +13 doesn't look good enough to me to survive in the desert with no food, water, tools, a broken leg, and 80 km to the nearest water.
    Instead I gave da drain those stats
    Spoiler
    Show
    Da drain (original italian "er fogna", difficult to translate exactly)

    male, Human, specialized expert (caravan guide) 7
    medium humanoid (human), age 50

    Hit Dice: 7d8 + 21 (average 55 hp, but I rolled them and he got 58)
    Initiative: -1 (-1 dex)
    Speed: 9 meters per round (30 ft)
    Armor Class: 9 (-1 AC)
    BAB/Grapple: +3/+6
    Attack: knife +6, (1d4 + 3)
    Full Attack: knife +6, (1d4 + 3)
    Space/Reach: 1.5 m / 1.5 m (5 ft / 5 ft)
    Special Attacks: /
    Special Qualities: chosen skill survival, first related proficiency +2 to fort saves against fatigue, second related proficiency +1d6 sneak attack damage against flat-footed humanoid, super specialization: cold desert environment
    Saves: fort +10 (+5 base, +3 con, +2 great fortitude), +16 against fatigue (+4 endurance, +2 first related proficiency) ref +1 will +5
    Abilities: Str 17 dex 9 con 17 int 14 wis 16 cha 4
    Skills: survival +23 (+10 ranks, +5 chosen skill, +3 skill focus, +3 wis, +2 sinergy)(+2 in cold desert, -2 otherwise), knowledge (nature) +12, spot +13, listen+13, hide + 9, move silently +9, ride +1, profession (cook) +6
    Feats: track, skill focus (survival), endurance, greater fortitude
    Alignment: True neutral


    So we end up with a whooping +25 to survival in cold desert and +16 to fort checks related to marching in the desert. With those boosts, I can fully believe this guy can manage the feats of survival I wanted him to make.
    On the fighting side, he's not a whimp, and with his hit points he can certainly tank a bit and face some goblins by himself (which was a boon: if one of my pcs was in trouble, I could have da drain run in, dispatch a goblin or two, shield him from arrows with his body, and carry him to safety, all the while complaining that he was close to breaking the record for the most consecutive trips without casualties and he wouldn't let a foolish adventurer ruin his score. I feel more comfortable when I have a backup plan to avoid a tpk), but he can't take a full goblin band by himself, thus justifying the need for an escort.
    The important things are that he has much more survival than any pc class could have at that level (at least by my knowledge; I'm sure some hardcore minmaxer could manage a way), while having much lower fighting skills than anyone at that level with his physical stats.

    Also, now that I have the class, I use it for any npc that must possess some high skill but must be weaker than the pcs and, as I said in the philosophical introduction, it saves me a lot of hassle in having to justify why this guy has this high skill but can't seem to do anything else.
    Last edited by King of Nowhere; 2017-08-02 at 04:59 PM.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    NinjaGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    Default Re: An NPC class to make badass npcs without overshadowing the pcs: specialized exper

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowere View Post
    Not at all. If I remade the skill focus, anyone could take skill focus and be just that good.
    Well, my way it would cost two feats. Generally PCs have higher priorities for their limited supply of feats.

    No, I simply wanted a class that was much better than any other class of the same level at making a specific skill check. I wanted a class that could be better than any pc at a certain skill so that the pcs would have a good reason to hire them, while being weak enough at everything else that they would have a reason to need the pcs.
    OK. I think the Expert with Skill Focus and whatever +2/+2 feat boosts that skill does the job well enough--that's +5 over max ranks in the skill. If we use the feat we just homebrewed instead of +2/+2, its 3 + 1/2 CL over max ranks.

    If I just changed the skill focus mechanics, then any pc could invest but a single feat and a skill point per level and be just as good as a specialized expert, which won't do.
    Feats are fairly precious, and not a lot of players will spend 2 feats to be ridiculous at a skill. Except maybe Bluff or Diplomacy, and I don't discourage those anyway.

    This class was designed to be "the guy that the pcs have to hire to do something they can't do", so it needs a mechanic to boost that something more than the pc classes can. Also, I wanted a highly customizable npc class that could accomodate any strange capacity I wanted to give to an npc, and the related proficiency does just that. The "super specialization" line instead is mostly there for fluff, but I like it a lot.
    It's working for you, and that's very important.


    well, first thing first, I don't have that much knowledge of mechanics myself, so while I could certainly have made something similar, I didn't knew how well enough. And second, a +13 doesn't look good enough to me to survive in the desert with no food, water, tools, a broken leg, and 80 km to the nearest water.
    Well, that's statting him up as a 3rd level expert. 7th level expert gives him another 4 ranks, plus a feat. Heck, you could tweak the rules and allow Skill Focus to be taken multiple times, stacking.

    Instead I gave da drain those stats
    Spoiler
    Show
    Da drain (original italian "er fogna", difficult to translate exactly)

    male, Human, specialized expert (caravan guide) 7
    medium humanoid (human), age 50

    Hit Dice: 7d8 + 21 (average 55 hp, but I rolled them and he got 58)
    Initiative: -1 (-1 dex)
    Speed: 9 meters per round (30 ft)
    Armor Class: 9 (-1 AC)
    BAB/Grapple: +3/+6
    Attack: knife +6, (1d4 + 3)
    Full Attack: knife +6, (1d4 + 3)
    Space/Reach: 1.5 m / 1.5 m (5 ft / 5 ft)
    Special Attacks: /
    Special Qualities: chosen skill survival, first related proficiency +2 to fort saves against fatigue, second related proficiency +1d6 sneak attack damage against flat-footed humanoid, super specialization: cold desert environment
    Saves: fort +10 (+5 base, +3 con, +2 great fortitude), +16 against fatigue (+4 endurance, +2 first related proficiency) ref +1 will +5
    Abilities: Str 17 dex 9 con 17 int 14 wis 16 cha 4
    Skills: survival +23 (+10 ranks, +5 chosen skill, +3 skill focus, +3 wis, +2 sinergy)(+2 in cold desert, -2 otherwise), knowledge (nature) +12, spot +13, listen+13, hide + 9, move silently +9, ride +1, profession (cook) +6
    Feats: track, skill focus (survival), endurance, greater fortitude
    Alignment: True neutral


    So we end up with a whooping +25 to survival in cold desert and +16 to fort checks related to marching in the desert. With those boosts, I can fully believe this guy can manage the feats of survival I wanted him to make.
    On the fighting side, he's not a whimp, and with his hit points he can certainly tank a bit and face some goblins by himself (which was a boon: if one of my pcs was in trouble, I could have da drain run in, dispatch a goblin or two, shield him from arrows with his body, and carry him to safety, all the while complaining that he was close to breaking the record for the most consecutive trips without casualties and he wouldn't let a foolish adventurer ruin his score. I feel more comfortable when I have a backup plan to avoid a tpk), but he can't take a full goblin band by himself, thus justifying the need for an escort.
    The important things are that he has much more survival than any pc class could have at that level (at least by my knowledge; I'm sure some hardcore minmaxer could manage a way), while having much lower fighting skills than anyone at that level with his physical stats.

    Also, now that I have the class, I use it for any npc that must possess some high skill but must be weaker than the pcs and, as I said in the philosophical introduction, it saves me a lot of hassle in having to justify why this guy has this high skill but can't seem to do anything else.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

    Join Date
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    Default Re: An NPC class to make badass npcs without overshadowing the pcs: specialized exper

    Ok, I could have achieved something similar in a different way that didn't require homebrewing a class. But I like it much better this way.

    A couple more points, though:
    1) ok, with 2 feats you can get a +5 over the base skill. I completely forgot those +2/+2 feats existed in the first place, tbh. Even then, pcs carry a lot of magic stuff. while an expert with some level is rich enough that he can get a few magic plusses, there's no way he can keep up with a party of pcs with just a +5. So, at high levels the pcs don't need any expert to do anything, they never need to go to a town and interact with somebody who may have something they need. Instead, a 20th level specialized expert will get a +14 in their specialized field, +18 in their more specialized field, and +22 when making an achievement of a lifetime (with the certainty to roll no less than 10) and those bonuses are high enough to ensure that they should not be overtaken by a pc using some stat boost and a buff spell or two.
    2) I never liked how the expert class works anyway. It's called the "expert", but this guy is not really expert at anything; he has a half dozen skills at which he's equally proficient, and that's not someone I'd call expert. He may have a lot of different capacities, and hey, I can respect that, but I associate the word "expert" with someone who specialized to be really expert at what he does. Plus, it's not that customizable; same weapon and armor proficiencies for everyone, so that a clerk sitting at his desk has more hit points, more BAB, better weapon proficiencies and better fortitude saves than a farmer that works his fields all day and has to fight goblins occasionally. If you hit people with a stick for a living, you have a choice of 4 classes, but of the infinite variation of professions out there, everybody get the same class, one-size-doesn't-fit-anyone style.
    So, guess I was looking for an excuse to try and improve the expert class anyway. With the specialized expert, you can make a clerk and a farmer (a specialized expert farmer would be the guy who knows everything about seeds and fertilizers and pest controls, a completely different guy from a commoner farmer) to be two completely different guys in a manner that the expert class wouldn't let you; even the farmer who lives in the mountains and the farmer who lives by the sea would be fairly different, because they would be specialized in different fields of agricolture; it adds to realism and world immersion, when the guy who plants in a mountain knows alpine plants better than those who grow by the sea, and viceversa.
    3) the world is full of experts, and each expert can maximize a fair number of skills, so there is a fairly large pool of people with a certain skill maximized. On the other hand, each specialized expert has a single skill as chosen skill, and each of them is specialized in a different subfield. That means that real experts of a specific field are much rarer, and therefore plot-relevant. In a large center of learning, you can find dozens of people with a maximized knowledge (history), and hiring any one of them will be easy. On the other hand, a 10th level specialized expert foremost in the field of the history of the kingdom of Mirna in the XIII century is probably unique in the whole world, and the greatest expert in his field in the whole world. And so I can dot the world with a plethora of people who have unique skills, which makes them more unique. And each one of them is a potential plot hook.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

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    Default Re: An NPC class to make badass npcs without overshadowing the pcs: specialized exper

    I very much like what you've got going on here thematically... but I would have to agree that this might be better done as Feats, possibly with the prerequisites of Expert of X level with X ranks in X skill(s), and Skill Focus (Skill(s)).

    Fighters have their own specialized skills... and other classes too, so should Expert. You could make literal thousands of feats to suite every profession out there. And that's what you're doing with this class. I do love the Skill Bonus you grant. That's pretty sweet, and should be incorporated into the Expert class structure. That would indeed be something that PCs wouldn't have! I'm not so sure about giving penalties toward everything other than your specialization. I understand your reasoning, but don't agree with it in general.

    That's just my suggestion of course. Expert (Spy) has some neat implications. As does Expert (Courtesans) ;)
    Last edited by AOKost; 2017-09-02 at 03:59 AM.

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: An NPC class to make badass npcs without overshadowing the pcs: specialized exper

    Quote Originally Posted by AOKost View Post
    I very much like what you've got going on here thematically... but I would have to agree that this might be better done as Feats, possibly with the prerequisites of Expert of X level with X ranks in X skill(s), and Skill Focus (Skill(s)).
    Well, as I said, I wanted something that pc classes couldn't replicate, and that ruled out feats. I also wanted to rework the expert so that it would be, well, expert at doing something, and that also pointed towards a class rework.


    I'm not so sure about giving penalties toward everything other than your specialization. I understand your reasoning, but don't agree with it in general.
    You have to keep in mind that you still get the chosen skill bonus even otuside your area of specialization, so it's not really a penalty, simply a smaller bonus. A 20th level specialized expert would get by his class features +8 to his chosen skill outside of his super specialization, +14 to his super specialized field, and +18 to his foremost of the field subset. I also intentionally gave those specialization bonuses on even levels, where the bonus increases by 2, so that there would be no penalty associated with gaining a level (at level 3, you have 6 ranks and +3 from chosen skill, total +9. At level 4 you get -2 outside your area of super specialization, but you now have 7 ranks and +4 from chosen skill, so you still have +9).

    And those specializations are a big part of what makes the class work for me in terms of flavor. Real people specialize. You take 50 university professors of chemistry, and each one of them will be a super expert of a very specific field of chemistry research that the others will be relatively ignorant of. Having each expert be highly specialized in something highly specific feels very real to me.


    Expert (Spy) has some neat implications. As does Expert (Courtesans) ;)
    Well, a 20th level expert diplomat is the head of a freemason-like organization and the only one in the top 50 of most powerful people in the world who is not a high level caster. While I put some limits to how much you can do with diplomacy, a check in the range of +50 (together with bluff, gather information, sense motive and similar in the +30 before magic bonuses) can be more powerful than a 9th level spell in a political setting.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: An NPC class to make badass npcs without overshadowing the pcs: specialized exper

    This... is odd. For a few different reasons:

    1) Chosen skill's last clause (no auto-fail for skills on a 1) is irrelevant by RAW - attack rolls and saves are the only rolls that automatically fail on a 1. You might have a houserule that brings it into play, but it's useless for everyone else.

    2) Related Proficiency... why not just give them a bonus feat and be done with it? It does what you want with a lot less fuss.

    3) Achievement of a Lifetime doesn't really do much... it's a case of a "too little, too late". Heck, your example of a high-quality weapon for enchanting doesn't really work - other than Masterwork and Dwarvencraft items, "high quality" is kind of non-existent.

    4) This doesn't even really do what you want - it's very, very clunky, and is way too hand-wavy in multiple places.

    ---

    Honestly? There are a lot of feats that players aren't going to take, and skills that they aren't going to invest in. Experts are actually pretty focused - most jobs are going to take multiple skills to make sense, after all.

    For example, a blacksmith? You'll need Appraise, Craft (Armorsmithing), Craft (Metalworking), Craft (Weaponsmithing), Profession (Blacksmith)... and now you're almost out of skill points (the rest of your skills are probably scattered among Knowledge skills and maybe Animal Handling, Diplomacy, Sense Motive, and Speak Language).

    He's going to be spending his feats with the "expectation" that his day-to-day life won't be spent fighting things. He's going to have apprentices Aiding his rolls, a full workshop, and suppliers. He might have some "craft secrets", like the ability to create Dwarvencraft items, that your players won't have.
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: An NPC class to make badass npcs without overshadowing the pcs: specialized exper

    I disagree with most other comments here, I think it works great as an NPC class. Could use some editing to make it a bit more readable though. Good work!

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