Save yourself some number crunching and use this collection of 91 fully statted and ready-to-run nonplayer characters. Whether you need a veteran Pathfinder, an eccentric Red Mantis assassin, an undead-hating Nexian mage, or just a rough-and-tumble thug, this book does the dirty work for you!
Characters in this book include:
Thirty unique NPCs native to the myriad nations of Golarion, with illustrations, histories, complete stat blocks, and special boons for PCs who befriend them. While they bear flavor and history tied to their homelands, all 30 NPCs may appear in any part of the world, and in any setting—use them as mentors, allies, cohorts, or sworn enemies of your PCs.
More than 50 nameless NPC stat blocks, custom designed for maximum utility in your game, including raiders from the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, Katapeshi slavers, spider-riding goblins, Gillmen knife fighters, and evil cultists. Whether you use them as bosses in low-level adventures or minions for high-level enemies, you’ll save yourself hours of work by putting your own names and faces over these premade NPCs.
Seven adventurer PCs played by Paizo staff members, presented as NPCs with illustrations, histories, stat blocks, and player boons. Use one as a quick premade PC, or drop them all into your campaign as a rival adventuring group!
Pathfinder Chronicles: NPC Guide is intended for use with the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting, but is suitable for any setting using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game or the 3.5 edition of the world’s oldest roleplaying game.
A free Web Enhancement featuring five additional NPCs was featured in the Paizo Blog.
Uses old D&D rules so no Witches or Maguses etc. The class builds are therefore not powerful enough for modern PF. They are also quite dull, far, far too many 5th level ranger guides and Dex based sword using rogue/fighter types. It is quite odd, they seem to account for about 50% of the characters.
A sequel is very much needed.
We need all the newer classes, and fill in chracters from other lands - Casmaron, Vudra etc. This is an area the book really shows its age - there are no proper Varisian or Sczarni characters and only one (fairly bland) Hellknight! Modern PF would probably have a dozen.
To its credit, the little picture portraits are great, and the mini biographies and boon hooks are of proper Paizo standard. It is hard to complain becuase this fluff is excellent, but the crunch lets it down and seeing as we don't even use those rules any more, it probably doesn't matter.
Wow, all I can say is that this book was a bummer. Probably an ok resource if you are running a very low level campaign, but I have no problem stating third level characters, and the free resources on the web make it even easier. There are about two characters I can use in my game. I would recommend not wasting your money;)
Every GM's nightmare: NPCs. Coming up with believable, memorable and challenging personalities for PCs to interact with is an art, learned over years of experience and gaming. But that's just half of the challenge, since we're talking D&D/PF here, we need to tackle the daunting NPC statblocks, full of abilities, spells and other things that require time and energy to create.
So it would be a great thing to have some help here, right? A book with pre-generated NPCs is always a good idea. As long as the idea is well executed, that is...
NPC Guide consist of 3 chapters. Chapter 1, titled "Named NPCs" contains 30 fully-fleshed NPCs, each one with a portrait, backstory, statblock and suggested "boons" which they may bestow upon PCs. Chapter 2 presents 50 generic NPC statblocks - no fluff, just stats. Finally Chapter 3 describes Paizo staff PCs from their personal campaigns.
While the quality of writing, artwork, ideas and fluff is great, the book suffers from two serious problems, which somewhat cripple it's usefulness.
Firstly, almost all the statblocks presented in NPC Guide are low level. Only a couple of named NPCs are above CR 5 and all of the generic statblocks are below it. This is a major blow, because arguably the most time-consuming and demanding part of NPC creation is the science of statblock building.
The second problem is that there isn't really anything in the way of new rules elements (items, spells, feats, etc.) to support the NPCs. In fact, being mostly low-level, they tend to be rather bland on the crunch side.
While it's very nice to see dozens of both common, generic NPCs and more fleshed-out personalities, I fear that this wasn't exactly what a harried GM is after. Knocking together a level 3 NPC isn't that hard (especially with Hero Lab around), but the high level statblocks are killers.
Luckily, Paizo seems to have realized the error, and the recent Rival Guide is everything such book should be.
In reading the "sell" on Paizo website you get the feeling that this book is the saviour to the bane of GMs. Indeed when you look through the blog materials you get a sense this could be correct. Only one obvious missed points that the book is targetted to low-mid level scenarios.
The introduction in the book itself sells this book better than the advert does. A lot of time and thought has gone in to creating NPCs with charcter. A GM could use the proposed NPCs as a bases and adapt to suit only needs but again it adds time - something this book claims to save for GMs.
I enjoyed the stories and particularly the Paizo characters in at the back. It provides what it says it would but perhaps not to expectations of GMs. It is a solid book and worthy of 3 stars.