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Designed by: Trevor Armstrong
While fiendish demons, exotic alien threats, and gargantuan monsters can be a lot of fun, more often than not it’s the humanoid NPCs you’ll be utilizing most as a DM. “Adaptable NPCs” provides dozens of unique ideas drawn from video game RPGs and older editions of D&D to create memorable and powerful friends and foes alike.
“Adaptable NPCs” features 70 new NPCs, each with nearly a full page color picture. CR ranges from simple 1/8 all the way up to CR 15, with most falling comfortably in the Tier 1 and 2 range.
Many NPCs are directly drawn from older editions of D&D, such as the Commander and Pale Master, while others simply create leveled NPCs out of Xanather’s new subclasses, like the Samurai, and Drunken Brawler. And dare I spy some Final Fantasy-style classes like the Dragoon and, er, Combustion Wizard?
It’s a solid mix of intriguing NPCs, though I was less than thrilled about the art style. Most of the female character art suffers from the boob armor effect (or just half-naked in general), which is archaic at best, alienating at worst.
I would’ve preferred more written content rather than the prominent artwork, such as story hooks or example characters that use these interesting stat blocks.
Included at the end are eight drop-in dungeon maps, which was a pleasant surprise. These dungeon maps are more than an afterthought, though not nearly as detailed as a full-fledged dungeon.
Each battle map (which are also provided in both DM and player-ready files) uses the new NPC allies, quest-givers, and foes in fun ways, like escorting a shaman on a pirate ship filled with goblin corsairs, or looting a dwarven burial ground guarded by death knights and tomb knights at the behest of a grave thief.
The dungeons are ultimately little more than rampaging hack and slash combat arenas with few puzzles and little story-telling, but the fact that dungeons were included at all in an NPC supplement is impressive.
Despite my misgivings toward the artwork, the huge amount of content in “Adaptable NPCs” is impressive. For the most part the NPCs are interesting and fun, and I appreciate the bonus dungeon content.
- 70 (!) new humanoid NPC statblocks, from CR 1/8 to CR 15.
- Fun ideas drawn from older D&D prestige classes and JRPGs.
- 8 drop-in dungeon maps that utilize many of the new NPCs as party companions or foes.
- Player handouts and tokens for all 70 NPCs, as well as DM and Player maps for each battle map
- Far more attention is given to NPC pictures than descriptions.
- Character art plagued by tiresome boob armor and nearly naked women.
- The dungeons are little more than hack and slash rampages.
The Verdict: Though not a fan of the art emphasis or style, “Adaptable NPCs” features a huge amount of fun humanoid statblocks, and the drop-in dungeons are a welcome bonus.
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