The Expertise/Taunt Combo: A Guide (with screenshots and video)

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    Orion

    Authors: Orion and Maximillan Kane

    The Expertise/Taunt combo was discovered by Maximillan Kane 10 years ago and publicly shared with the community in his post Holy Weaponmaster With Cheese v3 on 6th August 2011.

    However I do not believe this combo is common knowledge. I suspect because it takes a bit of practice to do it well consistently.

    The Taunt Skill

    Taunt is a class skill for Bards, Barbarians, Paladins and Blackguards and is modified by the Charisma statistic. It is generally not a good idea for classes other than those listed to use skill points for Taunt.

    During a Taunt, the character makes a Taunt check (1d20 + modified Taunt skill), which needs to beat the enemy’s Concentration Check (1d20 + modified concentration skill). The difference by which you beat the enemy’s Concentration check will then be applied as a penalty to their AC, from a minimum of 0 up to a maximum of 6. The enemy also gains 30% Spell Failure (which affects both Arcane and Divine spellcasters). Both effects will apply for 5 rounds. Please note that a Taunt will be considered successful if you MATCH their Concentration check, (if you roll the same total as them), they will be Taunted, but they won’t have an AC penalty, only the Spell Failure effect will apply.

    When you attempt to Taunt an enemy, your character will provoke the enemy, during which period they will be flat-footed. Flat-footed characters lose ALL Dodge bonus to AC (Haste, Divine Shield, Boots of Dodging will NOT count for this period), as well as their Dexterity bonus to AC (but this second effect can be negated by Uncanny Dodge). This means the character is vulnerable to attack.

    After you use Taunt once, regardless of success or Failure, you need to wait 6 seconds before you can Taunt again. As you finish Taunting you should always attack, move or undertake another action because your character will become stationary and remain flat-footed otherwise.

    Checking the combat log is a vital part of using this combo correctly. You can see by how many points you lowered their AC in case of success, but also what their Concentration check was (it will be the DC against which you rolled). In case you fail a Taunt, you should check the combat log just to see if it’s even worth trying again. If they beat your Taunt roll by 20 points, it’s a waste of time to try again.

    It’s typically worth Taunting enemies that don’t normally invest in Concentration and / or with low Constitution modifiers. Casters will typically¬†have decent Concentration scores because they normally invest in that skill, so against them it’ll be less effective. High Constitution monsters, such as Dragons, are also not typically a good target for this skill. Melee characters or Rogue types rarely invest in Concentration, so they’re the best targets for Taunt attempts (but be aware that if they have Sneak Attack, their attacks will do Sneak Attack damage while you’re Taunting).

    How to boost your Taunt:

    • Skill Ranks (you should always aim to max it out if you go for it)
    • Charisma-boosting items: you can increase your Taunt total by up to 6 points by equipping CHA gear.
    • Bard Song: Especially at higher levels, Bards will outshine any other class when Taunting. a high level Bard Song can increase your Taunt score by A LOT. Curse Song can also lower the concentration score of the enemy.
    • Skill-boosting items: There might be items that increase your Taunt score as well.

    The Expertise Feat

    Expertise is a combat feat that requires an intelligence of at least 13. It can be chosen by all classes, as long as the requirements are met, and it’s also worth noting that it’s a combat mode, similar to Power Attack. Fighters and Champions of Torm can choose it as a bonus feat from their list. When you activate Expertise, you receive a -5 penalty to your attack rolls in exchange for a +5 bonus to AC. Improved Expertise a -10 penalty to attack rolls in exchange for +10 bonus to AC.

    Why perform the Expertise / Taunt combo?

    • Taunt can lower enemy armor class by up to 6 for 5 rounds, making them up to 30% easier to hit by the player, summons/henchmen and teammates.
    • Taunt makes the player flatfooted during the Taunting process, meaning they have lower AC.
    • Expertise increases the character’s AC by 5.
    • Expertise is active until the end of the Taunt where it gets cancelled.
    • Therefore Expertise protects the character with higher AC while Taunting. (It does not protect against sneak attacks).
    • Improved Expertise (+10 AC) is even more protective.

    How do I do the Expertise / Taunt combo?

    Activate Expertise -> Attack an enemy -> Taunt an enemy -> Cancel Attack to start Taunting -> Press Expertise as soon as Taunt ends -> Attack enemy as soon possible as you re-activate expertise.

    A video showing how to execute the Expertise / Taunt combo. Source: NWN: EE (Beamdog) running WoG PW, recorded with Microsoft Windows Game Bar

    In more detail:

    1. Make a character with Expertise, and have some skill investment in the Taunt skill

    As mentioned Expertise requires at least 13 Int. One has to select Expertise as a general or bonus combat feat which can be done at level 1. All classes can train Taunt, however only Paladins, Bards, Blackguards and Barbarians have it as a ‘class skill’ and are generally the only recommended classes who should invest in Taunt.

    2. Activate Expertise

    I put it on the quickbar and activate it. It stays active until you either deactivate it or take an action which deactivates it (such as Taunting).

    3. Attack your enemy

    My character is attacking this Sahugin in a custom PW module (World of Greyhawk) in NWN:EE.

    4. Taunt your enemy using either the Radial Menu (I use the Radial Menu) or put Taunt on the Quickbar

    Taunt is under ‘Special Abilities’ (see the red arrow)

    Then click Taunt

    5. Let your character swing once at them then unselect attack

    At the top left corner of the screen is your action queue. You will keep attacking and not taunt, until you unselect attack, which I am doing by clicking on the icon with my mouse.

    6. You will then Taunt. Once the Taunt is complete, activate Expertise again and click on your enemy

    The video at the top of the screen shows how to do it with one enemy. The following video shows my paladin executing Expertise/Taunt combos on three different opponents.

    Source: NWN: EE by Beamdog, WoG PW server custom module, recorded with Windows Game Bar

     

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