I’ve been waiting for a product like this one for a long time. For quite a while now, I’ve been interested in treasures that were something other than magic items or piles of coins and gems. Sometimes favors are just as valuable as gold, if not moreso; unfortunately, there’s been too little discussion of the value of having someone owe you one…something that 101 NPC Boons, from Rite Publishing, aims to rectify.
The book is fairly upfront that it doesn’t use the basic method of boons laid out in the GameMastery Guide. Instead,there’s a brief overview regarding what sort of bonus they can provide on skill checks before the book divides itself into five general regions (e.g. urban, rural, nautical, etc.) and then subdivides each of these into groups you’d find within each one (such as city officials, upper class, and guards in the urban section). These descriptions offer about two paragraphs wherein they name a person and what they can do for the party.
The majority of the time these have no listed gp value, which is slightly disappointing but understandable. It’s hard to figure out the exact monetary worth of having a local judge tell you about the charges that a noble figure managed to dodge, for example. I personally didn’t find this to be much of a handicap, since these act as much as adventure hooks and ideas as they do favors. Given that the characters in these paragraphs are named, there are a lot of potential NPCs here to help you flesh out your towns and villages.
Not all of these are just name-drops, of course. There are eight NPCs with fully fleshed out stat blocks, several of which are from other Rite Publishing products. Helpfully, sidebars include all of the necessary material to run these characters even if you don’t own the books that they’re from. Again, I have to tip my hate to Rite Publishing here, since having full stat blocks for NPCs can often become an issue when the PCs take things in a new direction. These characters range from an awakened deer to a clockwork captain of the guard to a humble beggar, and more.
Unlike a lot of treasure books, 101 NPC Boons doesn’t just present you with a list of items and their numerical value and walk away. Rather, this book provides you with character ideas and favors that help integrate your PCs more closely with the world around them. This book isn’t just filled with a new kind of treasure for your PCs, but for your game world as well – being able to tie your player-characters to your NPCs more closely is something that leads to better role-playing, which is always more fun for everyone. Give your game a boon and pick up 101 NPC Boons today.
[5 of 5 Stars!]