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Designed by: Darrin Scott
The Monster Manual provides a solid list of monster types found in swamps, dungeons, caves, and volcanic fortresses. But what if you need to outfit a caravan? Or an NPC adventuring group? Or an entire town comes under attack and you want something more than just Commoners and Guards?
“Versatile NPCs II” provides over 60 miscellaneous humanoid statblocks, effectively translating many player character archetypes into NPCs, making it an incredibly helpful resource for almost every campaign.
The rather massive 75-page compendium includes 66 total statblocks, mostly drawn from familiar character classes like paladin and ranger. Most of the challenge ratings are solidly Tier 1-2 with a few very high level entries for your supervillain legendary mages.
There’s a slight emphasis on quantity over quality, but that’s more due to the CR value of most entries rather than any inattention to detail. Many of the entries are quite literally just player characters at certain levels. The Paladin, for example, has Divine Sense, Divine Smite, and Lay on Hands.
I was very impressed with the visual presentation. Almost every single NPC gets a full color, high quality picture depicting a sample character, and the organization, font, and page color all elevate the compendium into a more professional level.
My favorite part were the sample NPCs. Every single entry has up to three “Sample NPC” paragraphs. These provide fun mini-backstories for sample characters that you could use in your campaign. They’re well-written and provide some excellent new ideas on how to use some of the otherwise fairly mundane statblocks – such as using the Cavalier for a Firenewt riding a Strider.
The best statblocks are either those which are entirely new, like Artificer, Thunderer, and Skyward Fighter, or those that fill the missing holes from the Monster Manual, like proper NPC statblocks for a Ranger and a Paladin.
On the other hand, many of the statblocks are slightly repurposed or recycled versions of existing entries. Sometimes this is a welcome addition, like adding Tribal Assassins, Zealots, and Warchiefs to the existing Tribal Warrior.
But while it’s nice to have a few more options for low-level vagabonds aside from the overused Bandit, I’m not sure we needed Swift Fighters, Rugged Warriors, Mariners, Soldiers, Scoundrels, and Delvers. I hate to complain about too much of something when we’re getting over 60 entries, but it does cause many of them to overlap and become less interesting as a result. It’s a minor quibble in an otherwise fantastic compendium.
- Huge, diverse selection of NPC classes and archetypes.
- Excellent character artwork for each entry.
- Every NPC has 1-3 well-written and fun sample character stories.
- Many of the entries simply tweak or scale existing humanoids from the Monster Manual.
The Verdict: By converting all of the various PC Classes and Subclasses into NPCs, “Versatile NPCs II” provides a wealth of options for DIVERSIFYING any humanoid NPCs in your campaign.
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