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Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
 
$34.95 $16.95
Average Rating:4.7 / 5
Ratings Reviews Total
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Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
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Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by David R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/19/2014 10:33:51
I found some samples of Eureka and Masks on Engine's website and was very impressed with the information, samples, and ideas provided, so I decided to buy the full ebook for both.

This book is very well written and provides lots of easily NPCs with great physical descriptions, backgrounds, motivations and some sample storylines to go with them that work with any system.

I've already used a couple of the NPCs with little or no adjustment and the players in my game absolutely loved the detail and interaction these new NPCs provided.

I also love the name generator banner that is on each page. By flipping to any page and picking a first name from one page and a last name from the other, you can come up with 100s of new character names. It would be nice to have an index of first/last names in a table or something that would allow for quicker lookup or even a roll chart.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Dan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/21/2012 12:27:54
My homebrew campaign is too different to use most published FRP resources, but I found many usable NPCs in this product. The personalities have interesting motives and yet are highly adaptable. Also, the included text version allows me to easily copy an NPC into my game prep materials. I also found quite a few usable plot seeds in the bios of the various NPCs. I'm glad that I bought this product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Sebastian S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/30/2012 13:27:46
This book was good. Thousands of NPC-ideas, funny and epic, good and evil, everything you need. Some of this NPC were so funny, that I couldn't stopped laughing. I can only recommend it for every game master who needs many NPC.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/18/2012 09:37:13
This book’s subtitle doesn’t exaggerate. The volume really does contain 1,000 NPC write-ups across three common RPG genres: fantasy, sci-fi, and modern. Within each genre, NPCs are sorted into three categories: villains, neutral, and allies. Each NPC takes up about half a column (at two columns per page), and follows a consistent “stat block” that briefly describes the NPC’s appearance, behavioral tics (under the heading “roleplaying”), personality, and motivation, as well as tagging the NPC with a list of traits. Aside from finding it a little annoying that characteristic behaviors are labeled as “roleplaying”—as if a character’s appearance, personality, and motivation were not part of the “role” that the GM is “playing”—I like the stat format and find it very effective and easy to use.

In a supplement of this scope, the biggest hazard is undue repetition, and Masks occasionally does fall victim to that hazard. The “barely socialized geek with amazing computer skills” crops up in the modern genre rather too frequently, for example. The repetition that exists seems to result from multiple contributors offering similar NPCs, and I think the editorial staff would have done well to reject some of the doppelgängers and impose more variety at the editorial level. Other than this small complaint, I have nothing but praise for Masks.

The proof is in the pudding: Masks is a supplement that I’ll be keeping nearby and consulting frequently as I plan and run RPG adventures of all sorts. Indeed, as I read through the first time, I marked several entries for inclusion in a shared-world supers campaign that my sons and I recently started. Although the NPC write-ups occupy the bulk of the volume, the book begins with a few pages of indispensable GM advice. The Gnome Stew gang has a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and Masks easily lives up to the standards set by Eureka (which you should also get if you run any RPG game at all).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/29/2012 19:18:11
I'm a fan of these types of supplements that allow me to pull a character out of thin air when my mind is feeling less than creative. The book has advice, obviously, for creating interesting NPCs. Maybe more useful for me is the list after list after list of NPCs to grab at a moment's notice. There are NPCs for Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Modern with additional indexes by trait, name, and author if you want a certain person's flair.

The categories are broken down into villains, neutrals, and allies. You get enough background, personality traits, and descriptions to really run with this. A very helpful supplement in my opinion.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by William W. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/30/2012 11:21:27
(For what it's worth - I give very few products a five star rating. Masks easily earns it.)

Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game could be a candidate for one of the best GM tools ever, at least in my book. It is a 300+ page collection of NPC personality sketches that is not just a list of characters, but a collection of tools to adapt them to your own campaign and use them to the best advantage. It’s not only a book *of* NPCs, it is a book on *how* to NPC.

The entire first chapter is devoted to GMing advice – making NPCs memorable, “re-skinning” NPCs from one genre to use them in another, polarizing elements of the character to make them unique – and most importantly, how to not overdo it (these are supporting characters after all, and should never steal the show from the real protagonists). The lists of traits and “invisible keywords” at the end of this chapter, and the explanation of how they were used, will prime any imaginative GM to immediately begin customizing these NPCs before they even get to them.

After that comes the parade of NPCs, divided into three genre categories (fantasy, modern, and sci-fi), each of which are divided into sub-categories (villains, neutrals, and allies). Each NPC is fleshed out in an array of descriptors – Name, Capsule Description, Quote, Appearance, Roleplaying, Personality, Motivation, Background, and Traits. The descriptions are very concise, to keep the most important and functional elements of the character in the foreground. Many of the NPCs could easily be adapted to other genres with a bit of fiddling and tweaking (and advice for this is supplied in Chapter One).

If all of this wasn’t enough, the book contains a “name ribbon” running through it – a one-line list of names running along the bottom of most of the pages that a GM can quickly reference if a character name is needed on the fly.

While looking through this massive collection of character backgrounds, I found an additional use for it, as I caught myself coming up with story ideas to draw them into. I’m even tempted to challenge myself and choose some at random (they’re all numbered) and try to write a plot around them!

As a side note – I was pleased to discover that it was inspired by one of my favorite Dragon magazine articles of all time – “The 7 Sentence NPC,” by C.M. Cline. It appeared in the August 1992 issue, and I’ve kept a photocopy of it in my RPG binder for many, many years now.

I really can’t recommended this collection enough for any serious GM’s reference library.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Paolo P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/07/2012 06:37:21
Forenote: I'll copy and paste these very same words for both Eureka and Eureka+Masks bundle. Actually there is no reason (apart from starvation) to NOT buy the bundle.
----------------------------

I don't think it is worth the pain of writing a full-blown review for Masks. Trolling the net you will stumble upon tons of enthusiastic opinions about this product. Here is mine!
I'll cut is short. If you fall in one of following descriptions:
- game master (or GM wannabe)
- designer/author
- writer
- illustrator/visual artist (yep, I'm serious)
then, simply put, buy this book. Maybe you still don't know but you need it. Dot.

If you don't, keep away! Reading such material could spoil years of gameplay, even if your master doesn't use it. Believe me!
This is one of that books that should be kept right behind GM screen (or in a writer secret drawer) to express its full potential.

With Crimson Exodus, this is the best product I've ever bought on this site.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by David T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/06/2012 20:51:44
Another excellent item for any GM (no matter what genre). I love that the electronic version comes with PDF and text versions of the information. This makes using the information much more useful.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Tim L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/10/2011 06:18:10
Incredible. Clean, well-organized, almost zero typographical errors, inspired... If you liked Eureka: 501 Plots, you'll like this one. NPCs are given background, motivation, names, and either "neutral, ally or villain" along with other tags ("Academic, leader, focal" to name a few) in three genres and several indexes covers not only most of the tags, but also the genres, groups, by author, and more. Note that none of their traits (Leader, Academic, etc.) are rated to give a power/skill level (better than your character or just a mook).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/09/2011 07:07:14
Originally posted at: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_reviews_write.php?prod-
ucts_id=93319

When a book is aimed 100% at gamemasters, there is only one thing I am really looking for: utility. Time I spend searching through a book is time that I am not running my game. The first thing I look for in a book for GMs is an index. Masks: 1000 Memorable NPCs has 4 indexes. The PDF has bookmarks to each and every entry, and the text is liberally linked with hypertext. In the future, I will be judging PDF implementation based off the standards of Masks.

As a product of the Gnome Stew crew, I expected the GM advice to be top notch. I was not disappointed. The first chapter takes great pains to explain the process by which the NPCs were created, what each trait assigned to the NPCs means, and how to insert these characters into a game. That the last entry in the first chapter is an entreaty to use these NPCs as if they were your own is indicative of the spirit this book was written under. This is not just a reference, this is a flexible tool.

The NPCs are broken down by genre and alignment. There are 334 Fantasy, 333 Sci-Fi, and 333 Modern NPCs. Within these genres, the characters are further divided into Allies (25%), Villains (25%), and Neutrals (50%). All of these divisions are ultimately up to the GM’s discretion. For a cyberpunk campaign, characters from the modern and sci-fi chapters are almost equally useful. For a Shadowrun campaign, all three genres are fair game. I even found that most of the hackers could be converted to wizards, and vice versa, with a little imagination.


Utility being my touchstone, I was quite taken with the structure of Masks. Each of the 1000 NPCs is described in a terse quarter page. These descriptions are carefully laid out to explain the motivations, appearance, and behavior of each NPC. Every character has stories to tell, and some have whole campaigns worth of tales. There are occasional portraits of characters, which are thoughtfully labeled. Honestly, the descriptions of each character are clear enough that the portraits are almost unnecessary. The bottom of each page has six names, first names on the even pages and surnames on the odd ones. By flipping through the pages randomly and rolling a d6, it is easy to create names for characters.

More than anything, though, I love the indexes. Index One breaks the NPCs down by Traits. There are 47 Traits and each character has 3. This makes it easy to find a Child or a Merchant in seconds. Index Two breaks the characters down by name. Index Three breaks up the characters by author. There are 10 different authors, so this index is useful if you find yourself liking one particular writer’s style. Index Four is the one I found the most useful. By breaking the NPCs down by Group, it is easy to fill out a Thieves Guild or a Police Department without much work. Need an Acting Troupe? Here are 10 potential members!

In the end, Masks promises 1000 memorable NPCs and it delivers them. Moreover, Masks delivers these NPCs in a clear, concise, well-organized manner that makes it a must have tool for GMs. Without reservation, I can see any GM, no matter what their system of choice is, getting plenty of use out of Masks.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/28/2011 18:25:41
This is a must have for any experienced GM. With over 30 years as a GM the challenge has become keeping the characters fresh and alive for the players while keeping the story exciting and alive for myself. It is hard to stay out of ruts (rehashing the same characters again and again). This is not "Festival in a can," and will not excuse you from investing the energy and time to your ensure everyone's enjoyment, but it is a handy tool for the GM who likes to spend his time playing a game and not spend it in exhaustive preparation. As the creator of Scaldcrow Games, I always seek good products that not only bring me satisfaction but also elevates the craft of interactive storytelling. I feel that this book will enhance your game and further, will guide you into designing and orating better NPCs of your own. Hats off to the "Masks," and its creators. Good times and good gaming.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/26/2011 14:55:43
You'd think a thousand NPC's in four categories and three genres, indexed by character trait would be enough, but Masks has hints and tips for making your own memorable NPCs, bringing those NPCs to life, and how to adapt and adopt these characters to whatever you need. Each NPC is vivid and brimming with personality, and I'm getting plot ideas from each one I come across. I think if you're ever thinking about becoming a GM, this is an invaluable resource.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Christoph F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2011 09:36:47
This is an awsome GM-Book. Not only are there a thousand easy to use NPC's in there, but there are also tips how to make several thounds out of that, a quick Name Generator and it is also extremly well structured (Genre, Traits, Villian/Neutral/Ally,...). A book that every GM should have! 8D

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/24/2011 22:00:03
Overall, Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game is an impressive product that fills a particular, specific niche in a manner that is very difficult to top.

The book is a must for any GM, but is especially helpful for ones like me who have trouble thinking of more than a dozen NPCs at any given time without turning them all into two-dimensional stereotypes. Each and every NPC in this book is interesting, amusing and ready to run in any campaign.

The amount of work put into the organization of the book is to be commended, as it is clearly made to be easy to use, something that I find is very rare for most RPG products.

I have absolutely no problems recommending this book to almost anyone who has ever been a GM.

----

This is an excerpt from my full review on Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer. If you'd like to check out the full review, kindly visit: http://philgamer.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/review-masks-1000--
memorable-npcs-for-any-roleplaying-game/

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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