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NPC Creator and Emulator
by Jim B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/08/2020 13:35:58

[Updating my review, Feb 7 2020: I try to write reviews that offer constructive feedback and suggestions to the publisher, as well as helpful information for a prospective buyer. When a publisher acts on feedback and suggestions, they deserve recognition and acknowledgment, so thanks go to Eric Bright for taking reviews into consideration and making updates.]

The author states two goals: "1) I tried to make it so that NPCs can drive the plot better. 2) I made this a push-button, programmed PDF so you can get everything you need without flipping pages and rolling on tons of tables."

[Updated Feb 7 2020: In the update, the author separates the text tables into one PDF and the JavaScript push-button generators into another. That simplifies life for anyone who's leery of downloading PDFs that include executable content, or anyone who has disabled executable content or gets warnings about it. The push-button option is still available for anyone who's willing and able to use it.] For me, the first goal matters more than the second. The second is a convenience, not a necessity. Furthermore, if you have security concerns about executable content in a PDF, you might have disabled Javascript in Adobe Acrobat Reader (or whatever PDF viewer you're using). The tables exist in the text, so you're not losing anything if you disable Javascript (unless the author updates the random generators without updating the text tables as well). To find out more about the Acrobat Reader settings, search for an adobe.com page called "JavaScripts in PDFs as a security risk."

Back to the content...

It's all system-neutral. The good news is that you can use this across game systems. The potential hassle is that it's on you to figure out what these tables mean in your game system.

Creating an NPC

The Creating an NPC section isn't bad, but it doesn't really add anything new. For each table in that section, you can find similar content from many sources.

A couple of the tables are oriented toward a medieval European fantasy setting. The product description should mention that. If you've got cultures or species that don't fit that mold, you've got some customizing to do or you need other resources.

The tables are Job Training (200 jobs with a medieval European/fantasy flavor), Social Background (20 social categories that are mostly medieval), Economic Status (wealthy, upper class, middle class, and poverty -- nothing you couldn't think up yourself), Character Motivation, Flaws, Demeanors, and Physical Descriptions. If your game system or game setting already provides tools for generating NPCs, you might not need or want any of the tables in this section. Or maybe a table or two will fill in a gap for you.

[Updated Feb 7 2020: The term has been fixed.] By the way, in the Job Training table, someone who makes bows is a Bowyer, not a Bower (which is an attractive dwelling or retreat, or a lady's private apartment in a medieval hall or castle, or a shelter made with tree boughs or vines).

The Character Motivation table offers 60 goals for an NPC. In general, they can serve as long-term or short-term goals or drivers for the NPC. For example, "Get revenge" could be the hook for a single adventure, or it could be the driver for an NPC's years-long search for the Six-Fingered Man. This table would be a good resource if you're not already assigning goals to major NPCs.

The Character Flaw table is setting-neutral. It gives 100 adjectives describing various traits that make the NPC troublesome to those who have to deal with them. Nothing new here.

Character Demeanors gives you 300 adjectives describing the NPC's overall behavior toward others. They're a mix of positives and negatives (polite, self-centered, gentle, grumpy, etc.). Character Physical Description gives you 100 adjectives. If you want either table to give different results for different character species, classes, alignments, skills, or other elements, you'll need to customize.

Emulating an NPC

For me, the Emulating an NPC section offers more distinctive content than the Creating an NPC section. It covers two tools: Random NPC Conversations and NPC Plot Knowledge. Both tools are usable during play (if you're willing and able to make up the specifics on the fly), or you could generate some results in advance to be used if and when you need them. Either way, the results are pretty general, so you'll need to add the specifics for your game world.

Random NPC Conversations is a decent tool, especially for a more sandbox-oriented campaign. It's for when "you just want to talk to somebody and see if anything interesting comes up" (as the author says). Essentially, it generates general-purpose rumors.

First, you decide whether the NPC is normally positive, neutral, or negative. Then you roll against a table of 33 "attitudes about conversation" to see what sort of mood the NPC is in at the moment. The moods are sorted approximately from positive to negative, so you have the opportunity to come up with modifiers for the table, if you're so inclined.

[Updated Feb 7 2020: The reroll option has been turned into a specific entry. Pet peeve addressed!] Pet peeve: I'm no fan of "GM Choice or Reroll" results. My "choice" was to get random inspiration from the table. If I already had something in mind, I wouldn't have rolled on the table. If I roll on the table, I want a result.

The next step with Random NPC Conversations is to roll up the topic. You get 60 topics. Put it all together and you could find, for example, that the NPC has a "guarded" attitude about "a source of wealth" or an "insane" attitude regarding "the heritage of an NPC."

NPC Plot Knowledge is the tool I like best, because it ties the NPC to a particular adventure. It simultaneously develops a storyline and an NPC, so that's good stuff, for me.

It consists of two tables: the type of information and the topic of information. For example, you could find out that the NPC knows a) the identity of b) an enemy spy, or that the NPC knows about a) a finanical loss involving b) a beloved NPC. It's up to you to come up with the specifics. The two tables blend together well, meaning you're not going to get nonsensical combinations.

If the result is something you already had in mind, then this is your chance to share a clue. Maybe the NPC simply approaches the PCs with helpful information. Or maybe the NPC wants a favor before sharing the info. Or maybe you drop hints that this NPC knows something important, and it's up to PCs to figure out how to get the info. Maybe the NPC doesn't have the knowledge directly, but they know where you can get it.

If it's not something you already had in mind, the result can become a plot twist. When you determine that the NPC knows the identity of an enemy spy, it could be an opportunity for a big plot twist. A previously trusted or minor NPC turns out to be a spy. Or the NPC giving you this info is mistaken. Or lying.

To sum up: For me, the NPC Plot Knowledge tool is worth the one-dollar price tag on its own. None of the other tables are bad, but you'll probably want to adapt the results for your game world and your game system. For some of the tables, there's a good chance you can find similar, system-specific, or setting-specific resources elsewhere, quite possibly for free, or already included with material you've purchased.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
NPC Creator and Emulator
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Encounter Building Cards: Locations Digital
by Eduardo R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/11/2019 16:11:32

Cards are in very low resulution, hard to see and alot of pixelization, the best way to use it is using the card that get the random values.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Encounter Building Cards: Locations Digital
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Encounter Building Cards: Decisions Digital
by Eduardo R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/11/2019 16:10:16

The cards are in low resolution showing pixelization and is hard to read. The random card that changes the values is the only way to use this without problems



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Encounter Building Cards: Decisions Digital
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for the review! I was able to increase the size of the cards by cropping out the bleed area between cards, so you should be getting an email with the updated files. Hope that helps!
NPC Creator and Emulator
by Tearance M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2018 19:54:38

This is a fantastic resource for actual gameplay or solo RPGs alike, however the generators on the last page appear to not work, or if they do, I'm not sure how to get it working. Would happily rate 5 stars if I could find that out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
NPC Creator and Emulator
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Creator Reply:
Hello and thanks for the review! If you're having issues with the buttons, you might check to make sure you have Javascript enabled. The buttons are coded with that, and I know I've turned off my Javascript from time to time. That may be the problem, but if not, please contact me so I can work with you to fix it. Thanks!
Encounter Building Decks Rulebook
by Michael J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2017 19:28:40

The rule book explains how to use the four decks. Doeas a rather good job. Mostly is is an idea generator rather than a flat out list of here is what it is. each card seems to handle 4 to 6 possible things at a time, so it really dosn't matter if the same card comes up again.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Encounter Building Decks Rulebook
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Adventure Catalysts: The Fey Abductions
by Ben S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/21/2017 13:42:14

This is a great little product. You can randomly generate the bare bones of a Fey abduction adventure or choose from the lists to create more tailored ideas. Definitely worth picking up just to play around with the different combinations.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Catalysts: The Fey Abductions
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