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Question is in the title: Are there any Handbooks for the "Expert" NPC Class?

I'm only looking at the Core NPC class, not any homemade or other "Experts" floating around.

I have checked all the usual places and the closest I've found is a "Commoner's Handbook"

A big part of Experts is that they're skill monkeys (as answers have pointed out), but a true handbook would have more than just skills. It'd have suggestions for race, feats, armor, magic items and more. Hopefully some type of handbook exists that covers these options as well & may even differentiate between which options are better for each focus (crafter vs knowledge keeper vs general skills).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Would you consider Pathfinder rules close enough to 3.5e? \$\endgroup\$ – DanceSC Apr 14 '15 at 2:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ The 2 systems are very close, unfortunately in this instance they are too far off to be of any help. Skills in particular are a big difference but so to would any feats and magic items be. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Apr 15 '15 at 22:29
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For the Expert class itself? I have not seen such a thing.

However, you could look for handbooks for individual skills. Unrestricted skill selection is the only noteworthy feature the class has, and these can be optimized more or less individually.

Some noteworthy skills and fewer handbooks:

  • Handle Animal (handbook)
  • Use Magic Device (handbook)
  • Iaijutsu Focus (handbook)
  • And then there is Lucid Dreaming from Manual of the Planes. I could not find a handbook, but its uses are... interesting.

Also note that the skill access is similar to that of the Factotum (from Dungeonscape). The skill section of any Factotum Handbook should be useful.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Skills are one of the main differences about this class but there is still more to come in play. I'm leaving open a bit longer in hopes that someone has an actual handbook. Thankyou for the alternative resources as well \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Apr 12 '15 at 0:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ben-Jamin You have the option of leaving it open for as long as you want, including forever. You are under no pressure to accept answers. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 12 '15 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ It has a good will save too, which means it is occasionally the right answer for getting into prestige classes. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Feb 28 '18 at 12:46
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I will echo the sentiment of using handbook material for the Factotum as a substitute for an Expert class Handbook as the SRD core Expert is basically a stripped-down Factotum:

  • They have a weaker HD (d6 vs the Factotum's d8) due to being a NPC class vs the fully playable Factotum
  • They get a roughly similar skill point allocation (6 pts/level, x4 at first level); however, they are only allowed to pick ten skills as class skills, vs Factotums which are allowed to take everything as class skills.
  • Experts get their strongest saving throw progression (and it is a full-strength one) in their Will save, which is slightly odd because the class is intended to be low-tier for statting NPCs; Factotums, on the other hand, get a strong Reflex save, consistent with them being roguelike, finesse fighters.
  • The BAB progression between the two classes is identical -- they both get Rogue BAB, in other words.
  • Experts lack the martial weapon and shield proficiencies granted to Factotums -- this is in line with them being a NPC class, but does mildly hamper them in combat (it renders them incapable of using trip weapons, but otherwise only counts for limiting their selection and slightly diminishing their damage output).
  • Experts have no spells or class features, of course -- Factotums could be said to be a half-caster class thanks to Arcane Dilettante, and have a significant class feature set, which allows them to be SAD (Single Attribute Dependent) on INT for the most part.

This means that you can pick whatever race fits the skills you want, and can skip the sections of the Factotum handbook that deal with class features and progression, as well as ignoring the one Factotum-specific feat, Font of Inspiration. Many of the other Factotum feats, skills, and skill tricks are useful for Experts as well, though -- you may even be able to apply traits or flaws usefully in your Expert build.

One unfortunate part about the Expert is your weapon selection is severely limited; daggers, gauntlets, slings, light crossbows, and perhaps staves are your only real options as pretty much all the other weapons that are truly interesting to Factotums are martial or exotic. However, you should pay close attention to the Factotum handbook's suggestions regarding utility and magic items, though -- both Factotums and Experts can get access to Use Magic Device as a class skill, of course, and utility items can boost those all-important skill checks. Furthermore, being a non-caster makes your UMD that much more important (a Factotum without anything to use UMD on can still do some stuff with Arcane Dilettante and Opportunistic Piety, while the Expert is just like the Rogue in being completely UMD-dependent for their magic tricks).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Every paragraph, except for BAB, offered significant differences between the 2 classes. I see the focus was probably due to the skills (which are still significantly different but not as much as the other areas) but other than that every other section showed huge differences so not sure how useful it could be \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Apr 15 '15 at 22:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ben-Jamin -- my point wasn't that the two were highly similar, but that the Expert could be treated as a subset of the Factotum, by and large. (Stuff like items and feats that works for a Factotum should work for an Expert, in other words.) \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Apr 15 '15 at 22:52
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BAB and saves are covered above. Experts have two customizable options: skill points and feats. The following handbook on commoners gives a lot of options for customizing both. As an expert has even more skill points to use, I would recommend this as resource: The Commoner Handbook.

Skirmisher Games sells a book/pdf called Experts v3.5. It looks like a listing of detailed Experts of various professions. No free samples available; buyer beware; etc.

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