Ultimate NPCs: Skulduggery is part of a series of books by Nord Games that provides a very handy list of characters of various race, background, class, and alignment. The book contains character sheets for each character at level 1, 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20. The character classes include bard, barbarian, fighter, warlock, and ranger, covering roughly half the class options in the Player's Handbook. There are 10 races represented, excluding sub-races, featuring most of the standard races, and even a shapechanger! There are 30 characters in total, with some tables that a dungeon master can roll on to get a random character. There are even tables by alignment in case you're looking for a charatacter that's good, neutral, or evil-aligned.
However, this book doesn't have to be for dungeon masters alone. If you're in a pinch and need a character for a game, say at a gaming convention or a pick-up game, this book is very useful. Since the character sheets take up one page each for the characters at each level, you can simply print up characters from the PDF file or photocopy them and hand them out when needed. The character's backstory is even included. This can make the game easy for those just getting started who don't yet understand the character creation process.
On top of all of this, the book has a few pages at the end with some nice equipment options. Much of these are items are things like enhanced tools, kits, and musical instruments that often give bonuses to tool proficiency checks. There are some very interesting items, such as the 'Book of Blackmail' that gives bonuses to persuasion checks against nobles listed in the book who don't want their secrets exposed. Items like this require some DM judgement as to how they are to be used. There are a few weapons listed as well, including the 'powerful crossbow' and 'scalpel', which have some special rules for dealing extra damage. These are things that a DM should be aware of before allowing them in their game. As well, there are some new poisons and magic items to add some flare to your game. There is also a handful of new spells, most of which are really useful. Some of the spell descriptions, such as for the spell 'Donnybrook', which causes a crowd of at least 15 creatures to start fighting each other, are also open to DM interpretation. Most of the spells nicely match the book's theme of skulduggery, giving some nice options for thiefs, such as the 'Sticky Fingers' cantrip that grants advantage on Sleight of Hand checks.
Overall, this book is greatfor DMs. You can use it to introduce a new NPC when you need to, and have stats for that NPC as they rise in level. You can use it for extra characters when you have new players. You can use the items as treasure for your party, and you can surprise and vex your party with spells that they haven't seen before. This is a great book if you're looking to reduce the prepwork before your game, and I can't wait to see what other books Nord games offers in this series.
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