A few weeks back, I decided to try my hand at a brand spanking new campaign world. I’ve played a lot of pre-written adventures set in Golarion and Forgotten Realms in the last five years or so, and it turns out that I’ve lost my knack for building NPCs. Personalities? Fine. But if one of my players wants to make a Diplomacy check, I need to know what kind of stats my little shopkeeper has! And making it up on the spot always left me feeling a little cold. So books like Paizo’s NPC Codex easily find a place on my shelf.
And yet, I felt a bit of trepidation when my gaze landed on Adversaries & Allies by Dan Layman-Kennedy. Sometimes, an NPC guide is too focused on building commoners rather than villains. But if it swings too far the other way, you lose the ability to populate your world. Without a solid mix of both, an NPC book loses its usefulness to a DM like me. Would this 38 page document be able to make the cut?
Are you holding your breath? Go ahead and let it out, because Dan figured out the ideal balance.
Look, this book is filled with fantastic NPCs. Your world certainly needs sailors, farmers, rulers, and scholars. But it’s also going to need to fill out every rank of an evil wizards’ guild. Or a host of rogues and fighters. You need skalds, oracles, masterminds, and diabolists. Some of the entries even have variants just in case you find yourself in the mood for something a little different.
Finally, like many of my favorite DMs Guild resources, Adversaries & Allies includes two pages of design notes from Dan about his choices throughout the document. Dan seems to be well versed in the kinds of characters a DM truly needs to make a world seem filled with developed characters, even if the DM doesn’t quite have the time to round out every single NPC. This is clearly a labour of love, and I am so satisfied with the results.
Are you a 5E D&D Superfan? Then the DMs Guild is for you! Check out this marketplace of fantasy ideas for the latest in what D&D fans are writing, all using an official license from Wizards of the Coast and the official Forgotten Realms setting! Every episode, Rich scours the Guild for the most clever and ingenious options to add to your campaign.