The expert is a playbook / class in the Monster of the Week TTRPG system that not only are good with investigating a mystery, but they can also be excellent in combat delivering precision strikes or on-site medical treatment to yourself to keep on fighting when things are at their roughest. Add some remarkable Haven abilities to the mix and this is a class that has enough versatility to keep them as an interesting and potentially capable choice in combat.
Depending on the moves chosen by the player, the Expert can even provide a modicum of support because Preparedness is a really good move.
The Expert is for the player who loves playing intelligent, wise, or knowledgeable characters. If you always liked Bobby from the TV show Supernatural, then you have found the class he would belong to.
The Expert class draws from a playbook that is all about knowing the otherwise unknowable, providing support to the Hunter team thanks to your knowledge, and even includes some interesting mechanics with Luck and Havens that make them stick out from the other investigation oriented playbooks available in Monster of the Week.
I have dedicated my life to the study of the unnatural. I know their habits, their weaknesses. I may not be youngest or strongest, but my knowledge makes me the biggest threat.The Expert, Monster of the Week, p. 46
The Expert class is a great one to have with the party and also sets up a safe place for the hunters to all meet before, during, or after mysteries.
Let’s dive into the Expert Playbook and see everything that it has to offer.
What Is The Expert Class In Monster of the Week RPG?
You study. You have always studied the supernatural. You read, you have informed advice on hunts, you are prepared for many situations to the point of seeming almost clairvoyant about what issues your party runs into, and you often double down on those abilities in all forms…or take a little time to use that knowledge to become a precision-striking nightmare for unnatural creatures.
Your investigative skills can be getting knowledge ahead of the mystery or during the mystery itself, all based on the moves you take. You also own a variety of monster slaying weapons that cover the full gauntlet of possibilities from wooden stakes and silver swords (or even a blessed kife) to flamethrowers and magnums.
In other words, you have the full arsenal of monster-killing items at your disposal to get the job done.
What Type of Expert Will You Be?
Are you going to be all investigation and support? Combat and investigation? Some mix of all of those? There are multiple starting Ratings that offer many versatile paths for Expert players to take. While every Expert is going to be Sharp some focus on Weird to double down or pick up some potential magical abilities themselves.
You might pick Tough and Cool to allow you to wade into combat with your fellow hunters for some well-placed shots after helping point them in the right direction or maybe you go with a different combination that fits what you have in mind.
The Expert Ratings for MOTW Are
- +2 Sharp & Weird, 0 Cool, -1 Tough & Charm
- +2 Sharp, +1 Tough & Cool, 0 Weird, -1 Charm
- +2 Sharp, +1 Tough & Charm, 0 Weird, -1 Cool
- +2 Sharp, +1 Cool & Weird, 0 Tough, -1 Charm
- +2 Sharp, +1 Cool & Weird, 0 Charm, -1 Tough
At the base of the Expert is sharpness. Being strong at investigating a mystery and reading a bad situation makes sense for someone who has dedicated their life to learning these mysteries and fighting the unnatural accordingly with the knowledge they have acquired.
There’s also a unique luck mechanic called the “Expert Special” and although you always want to be cautious and stingy when it comes to spending luck, this at least gives you a bonus when you do so.
In this case when you spend a point of Luck, you discover something happening now is related to something you were involved in years ago. This gives the Keeper the ability to expand your backstory, perhaps give you insight to the situation that helps the group, or otherwise expand the world and the session in interesting ways.
What Do The Expert Moves Bring To The Table?
There’s quite a bit to like about what the Expert brings to the table as a character class in Monster of the Week. Here’s a look at all their moves, followed by a look at all the options for their Haven – which Experts automatically come with.
- I’ve Read About This Sort Of Thing – Roll +Sharp instead of +Cool when you act under pressure. This is a great move for the Expert since they will almost certainly max out their Sharp right away and this makes them viable in high pressure situations.
- Often Right – When a hunter comes to you for advice about a problem, give them your honest opinion and advice. If they take your advice, they get +1 ongoing while following your advice and you get experience. This is a great support move that gives bonuses to other party members while helping you to level up.
- Preparedness – When you need something unusual or rare, roll +Sharp. On a 10+, you have it here right now. On a 7-9 you have it, but not here: it will take some time to get it. On a miss, you know where it is, but it’s somewhere really bad. This is a feast or famine move based on the rolls, but the potential to suddenly have something powerful on hand is a really good boon when it works.
- It Wasn’t As Bad As It Looked – Once per mystery, you may attempt to keep going despite your injuries. Roll +Cool and on a 10+ heal 2 harm and stabilize your wounds. On a 7-9 you may either stabilize or heal 1 harm. On a miss, it was worse than it looked: the Keeper may inflict a harm move on you, or make your wounds unstable. Can be a useful move in a high damage or danger mystery, but it is a roll of the dice once again.
- Precise Strike – When you inflict harm on a monster, you can aim for a weak spot. Roll +Tough and On a 10+ you inflict +2 harm. On a 7-9 you inflict +1 harm. On a miss, you leave yourself open to the monster. If you want to be an Expert who can also hold their own in battle this move is an absolute must.
- The Woman (or Man) With The Plan – At the beginning of each mystery, roll +Sharp. On a 10+ hold 2, on a 7-9 hold 1. Spend the hold to be where you need to be, prepared and ready. On a miss, the Keeper holds 1 they can spend to put you in the worst place, unprepared and unready. Another great one that fits in thematically with the Expert and failures can be written off as misread the clues or didn’t see that one coming…hey, becoming an expert in the unnatural isn’t easy!
- Dark Past – If you search through your memories for something relevant to the case at hand, roll +Weird. On a 10+ ask the Keeper two questions from the list below. On a 7-9 ask one. On a miss, you can ask a question anyway but that will mean you were personally complicit in creating the situation you are now dealing with. The questions are:
- When I dealt with this creature (or one of its kind), what did I learn?
- What black magic do I know that could help here?
- Do I know anyone who might be behind this?
- Who do I know who can help us right now?
Also very important, the Expert has a Haven. This is a safe place to work where the Expert can take advantage of their knowledge and resources to help with any given mystery.
The Expert picks THREE of the following that are a part of your haven’s setup.
- Lore Library – When you hit the books, take +1 forward to investigate the mystery (as long as historical or reference works are appropriate). I love this as it is useful throughout the entire mystery and plays into what the Expert does, but also keeps that very important caveat where the Keeper can let the player know when those historical books would not apply to this situation.
- Mystical Library – If you use your library’s occult tomes and grimoires, if you are preparing with your tomes and grimoires, take +1 forward for use magic. Super useful if you’re going the Sharp + Weird route and want to sling spells in combat.
- Protection Spells – Your haven is safe from monsters – they cannot enter. Monsters might be able to do something special to evade the wards, but not easily. Flavor-wise, this makes complete sense, whether or not it will be a good haven choice in-game will matter based on your Keeper and how they like to run the game.
- Armory – You have a stockpile of mystical and rare monster-killing weapons and items. If you need a special weapon, roll +Weird. On a 10+ you have it (and plenty if that matters). On a 7-9 you have it, but only the minimum. On a miss, you’ve got the wrong thing. If you like rolling the dice this can be a good one.
- Infirmary – You can heal people, and have the space for one or two to recuperate. The Keeper will tell you how long any patient’s recovery is likely to take, and if you need extra supplies or help. Very useful if your Keeper strings together mysteries closely so damage and healing is an issues sometimes.
- Workshop – You have a space for building and repairing guns, cars and other gadgets. Work out with the Keeper how long any repair or construction will take and if you need extra supplies or help.
- Oubliette – This room is isolated from every kind of monster, spirit, and magic that you know about. Anything you stash in there can’t be found, can’t do any magic, and can’t get out. Good place to keep those objects you don’t want anything else to find.
- Panic Room – This has essential supplies and is protected by normal and mystical means. You can hide out there for a few days, safe from pretty much anything. This is just like it sounds like.
- Magical Laboratory – You have a mystical lab with all kinds of weird ingredients and tools useful for casting spells (like the use magic move, big magic, and any other magical moves). Seems like a great addition to any mystical library or lore library…but that’s just the way that I would build a haven for my Expert 🙂
Choose any three that work for your version of the expert and you can have all kinds of Havens with very different looks to them depending on the flavor and mechanics you want to emphasize with your character.
Who Should Play The Expert Class in Monster of the Week?
Anyone who loves playing intelligence or wisdom based classes, researchers, those who know how to find information of suss out a general situation will enjoy playing The Expert in Monster of the Week. If you also tend to like balanced characters who can do more than one thing or would rather be a jack of all trades versus a one-action specialist, then the Expert is going to speak to you while giving you the freedom to level up in a way that lets you develop your PC as you see fit.
This is a great class, and also gives the group a base of operations that makes a lot of sense. There’s a lot here to work with and enough flexibility to allow very different playing styles for two different Experts in two separate campaigns.
It’s a neat playbook that is going to find a lot of fans among players.
MOTW The Expert Class: Final Thoughts
Who doesn’t want an expert on their side while hunting monsters? I love the fact that the Expert class isn’t forced to only be a bookworm or only be a hyper-specific monster hunter. It would have been easy to fall into the trap of going one of those two extreme directions. By adding some layer of versatility the Expert can be built in multiple directions which makes this playbook all the more attractive to potential players.
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.