By Thilo Graf
This file from Rite Publishing is 25 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages of ads, so let’s take a look at what can be considered npc-boons on the 20 pages!
So…what are boons? Ever wanted to reward your PCs with something different than treasure? What about personal favours? Yep, that’s where we’re going. The boons presented herein can be categorized broadly into the categories urban, frontier, rural, nautical and wilderness and some of the characters and 8 of them get their own respective stat-blocks in order to better enable you to judge what they can or cannot do. The obvious favours with the city-guard make for the first couple of boons, thankfully including names so you don’t have to improvise on the fly. The bureaucrat and the judge as well as the upper class are more interesting, as is the ironborn guard captain who gets full stats,as does the cool wyrd luckbringer/rogue Cirith Masked Starfall. If you haven’t checked the wyrd, ironborn and luckbringer out, you might want to – the pdfs are all great. The tendency to give the sample, generalist and extremely easy to implement boon-givers a name and minor backstory, sometimes even with a secret, makes writing adventures around the boons and judging on how the PCs might obtain them, rather easy. Want an example? Well, there’s an insane bard (?) or oracle who is in love with a frog washed down the storm drain. Gold!
A divine channeller sample-character is also provided, including all the information you need to run him, so if you haven’t picked up Secrets of divine channelling, no problem! The same goes for a rather cool Jotunnar taskshaper explorer character, of course. You see how this book goes beyond being a bland list of skill- and monetary bonuses, not only in the characters that get their statblocks, but also in e.g. short sections on fae-boons, a ghost-contact and even an awakened advanced deer.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the traditional b/w-two-column standard of RiP and the stock-art is nice, the non-stock-art even better. The pdf is bookmarked for easy navigation. Oh boy, this is hard. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how to rate this book, as I’ve never read one like it before, which definitely is a plus. First of all, I want you to know that neither mechanically, nor with regards to the fluff there is anything wrong with this pdf. It actually features a lot cool ideas and characters that can easily serve to populate a given setting, be it a city or a rural area and the general usability of this book makes it a valuable asset to have as a DM. The statblocks make for another bonus, as the characters provided are of the trademark cool race/class combination or RiP. It serves as a nice guide to some of the other RiP-publications, offering excellent sneak peeks at pdfs you might have missed. This is a humble book, not a crunch-heavy list that beats you over the head with values and calculations. Nor is it an intricately-woven story connecting all the NPCs. Rather, 101 NPC boons is just that: A lot of useful boons with some statblocks and great, evocative ideas in-between. I sincerely believe that almost any DM should and could use this book, if only as a nice little library to help if (s)he has to improvise an NPC for a plan of the PCs. The only thing I truly missed in this easy to implement book was a named NPC with a truly unique boon. And yes, I realize that e.g. luckbringer, channeller and taskshaper serve this niche for those of you who don’t yet know them, but I have read, reviewed and used them all and thus for me personally that doesn’t count. 😉 In the end, though, I practically have to settle on a final verdict of 5 stars, as this book is severely needed out there, does something different and is immensely useful.
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