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5E D&D absurd character factotum

Play Your Next 5E D&D Game as a Know It All

Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted indulge the latter’s love for highly skilled characters in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. An optional class feature for rangers in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything gives the class access to Expertise in a roundabout way and set Ted off on a quest to create a character with not only proficiency in all the 5E D&D skills but Expertise as well. Getting proficiency in all 18 skills wasn’t very difficult at all. By the end of the experiment this Know It All Character Build Guide gains Expertise in 15 of those skills too. And as always we create an NPC creature version for Dungeon Masters as well. So let’s get into it.

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Behind the CBG — Know It All

Every CBG we create considers the journey as much as the final outcome. We aim to present a guide suitable for any level of 5E D&D play whether you’re pursuing an epic campaign from start to finish, starting beyond 1st level or choosing a character for a one shot. Then we take those concepts and develop an NPC or creature version of the character build for DMs to incorporate into their games. All of this gets packaged up and laid out in a PDF you can find over at Dungeon Master’s Guild. We’ve got dozens of pay what you want products at DMG, many of them best sellers so if you want to check those out start with the Know It All here.

All about the character story

Each CBG starts with a character concept sticking to a particular schtick, from the Mind Breaker’s psyche crushing smites to the Know It All’s dizzying array of skills with Expertise. Sometimes puns and pop culture references instigate the creation of a CBG too and this one evolved essentially because of an optional class feature from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. (At 1st level Deft Explorer replaces Natural Explorer and you gain the Canny feature, which allows you to choose one of your skills and double your proficiency bonus for any ability checks you make using the chosen skill.) The goal was creating a character who masters as many skills as possible. The narrative arc and personal motivations for the Know It All in some sense fall to the wayside for this character due to the more theoretical design decisions. Multiclass combinations arise from this solely as a means to gain Expertise. As DM’s Guild Brand Manager and longtime Nerdarchy friend Lysa Penrose puts it they’re each like their own unique class for 5E D&D.

The Know It All’s variety of other features and traits makes them rather versatile but by far their focus lies in skills. In the video they point out a very important consideration and it’s very much worth reiterating here. This character might very well be the ultimate skill expert but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great fit for an adventuring party. You might very well unquestionably be the optimal person to make every check when it comes to skills but this can quickly become frustrating for the other players in the group. I’ll add to this caveat the most basic procedure for playing 5E D&D does not mean your Know It All character would even get to use all their skills all the time unless you really step on everyone’s toes. Skill checks arise when players describe their actions and the DM follows up by asking for a skill check if applicable.

5E D&D skills expertise

The Tolarian Scholar embraces the Tolarian Academies’ tradition of study and research while discouraging the kinds of experiments that ruined the original island of Tolaria in the Magic: the Gathering universe. [Art by Sara Winters]

Know It All NPC for 5E D&D

Full disclosure — the NPCs and creatures we make in CBGs are some of my favorite bits of 5E D&D content to create. Basically we step back and look at the character guide to find the standout features, the ones that feel like signature abilities. The juice! From there we consider what sort of person or people would possess or gain these abilities and build a stat block around them. More often than not the section of a CBG For Dungeon Masters presents a generic creature. The Know It All is a very low challenge creature. When it comes to skills their features make them quite accomplished! But using a creature’s skills doesn’t come up all too often during games in our experience. If the Know It All gets forced into combat their analytical mind translates into a couple of nifty tricks. Protip: Consider incorporating Studied Instincts or Think Ahead features into any other 5E D&D creature’s stat block to give them an intellectual edge over opponents.

Brains Over Brawn. The know it all dedicates their life to study whether its the mysteries of the ancient world, how to manuals, psychology or resource and reference material they can get their hands on. A know it all prefers to avoid violence and conflict generally. They’d much rather bury themselves in a good book. But their analytical mind does give them an advantage over the other sages and researchers who they typically associate with.

Think Ahead. When a creature the know it all can see targets it with an attack, the know it all chooses another creature within 5  feet of it. The two creatures swap places, and the chosen creature becomes the target instead.

If your next 5E D&D game needs a character who possess broad and deep knowledge and skills — whether you’re the DM or a player — check out the Know It All CBG here.

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Doug Vehovec

Nerditor-in-Chief Doug Vehovec is a proud native of Cleveland, Ohio, with D&D in his blood since the early 80s. Fast forward to today and he’s still rolling those polyhedral dice. When he’s not DMing, worldbuilding or working on endeavors for Nerdarchy he enjoys cryptozoology trips and eating awesome food.

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