Shards of the Heart
Coming up with NPCs is one of the least fun aspects of d20. And as the levels get higher the complexity of the characters increases. Each additional level adds more feats, skill points, and choices. When one adds to that the personality and background of the NPC it can really take a bit of time to to create them. That is where Shards of the Heart comes in. It is a collection of NPCs already defined and stated out.
Shards of the Heart is a new PDF by Tabletop Adventures. These guys seem determined to make the job of a DM easier. Their few products deal with time saving descriptions of places so the DM can spend time creating other things. This list book of NPCs is ninety three pages long, and the layout and art are both pretty good. The PDF has book marks but it would have been helpful if they also included classes and levels in the book marks. As they have it they just have the characters names. In addition to the PDF collection of all the stats and the backgrounds of the character one also gets actually character sheets of the NPCs that are ready to be printed it. This also makes the product ideal if one has the need for regenerated characters for a one shot adventure like most conventions have.
Shards of the Heart is a collection of about two dozen different NPCs. Each NPCs of course has a name and the class and levels. But they also have example narratives for introducing the character. These narratives are highly descriptive capturing both the look and personality of the character. Then the text gives a written description and full personality of the character. Lastly the character is given his/her motivation, background, and a few plot hooks. All of this is before one gets to the actually stats of the character. Each character has about two pages of this material and another page of just the stats. There is a large variety of characters but not ever possibility is presented. For instance there are no barbarian or dwarf characters. But there are plenty of human and half elves and bards and NPC classes. These characters are very good for role playing and are not created to be the most powerful at their levels. Some of the class combinations are not the best in terms of power but offer great and interesting characters. There are no characters with prestige classes. The levels of the characters vary quite a bit. There is a first level commoner and the highest level one is a ninth level sorcerer cleric.
Overall I am pleased with the characters in the book. They are designed more to help out with the fully fleshed out NPCs then the minor guards and servants the players will run into. The adventure hooks make them easy to use and give the DM plenty of great ideas to draw upon.
[4 of 5 Stars!]