Hey, my party has been having a lot of fun "collecting" the NPCs for the caravan. Maybe its appeal has been overshadowed by the whole of the adventure but so far (we are just finishing The Night of the Frozen Shadows) they are always looking for NPCs to add to the caravan, even if they are normally labeled as enemies hehe.
The players assign them the regular jobs at the caravan, but they love to think of the NPCs as something more of a main feature. Something like a RPG like Fire Emblem, and I have to go deeper into the backgrounds of the NPCs... The NPCs stats have to be adjusted as the adventure progresses in order to keep being useful, normally just a lvl below the player characters.
Tweaked NPC List and main ability/usage:
Ameiko, Bardic Performance
Shalelu, Ranged DD
Sandry, Melee DD
Koya, Non-combatant Caster/Healer
Proudstump, Stealth and poisoner
Spivey, Liberation and Travel domain spells
Kelda, HP tank
Uksahka, Abjurer & Cold Specialization
Helgavard, Archivist Archeotype
Wolde, Druid Earth specialist
Ulf, Guide Specialization
My current party is 4 players, so I let them bring 1 NPC as support. If a Player misses the session, they can bring 2 of them. This has generated a lot of interest on the adventure as a whole, let's hope I can tweak The Hungry Storm to make it more appealing, there are some bad reviews on that part.
How do you guys use the NPCs?