As someone who tends to GM a whole lot more than play, having a quick and easy supplement to address the issue of needing instant NPCs is priceless. I’m proud of the fact that I tend to be pretty good at coming up with NPCs on the fly, but it never, ever hurt to have something to fall back on.
And that is exactly the need that Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game is off to address. This is a monster of a book, weighing in at 338 pages of NPC goodness.
Let me start off by saying that I am very happy with the layout of the book. Masks is a book with easy to read layout, with distinct header styles that help you not get lost. The PDF is hyperlinked, and the art is of generally high quality.
The book itself is well organized, starting off with discussions on the feeding and care of NPCs, including essays that discuss how to make NPCs memorable that is choc-full of good advice. GMs both new and old can benefit from reading these.
The book takes a very methodical approach to presenting the NPCs, first breaking things down according to Genre, then introducing Traits, a system of tags that will essentially help in indexing the NPCs in a manner that makes it easier for them to be clumped together and indexed.
Each Genre chapter has a massive listing of NPCs which are broken down into Villains, Neutrals and Allies, which is always good to know as a GM. The Entries are concise but very, very good.
Each entry of an NPC includes, a keyword summary, a character quote, appearance notes, roleplaying tips, personality guide, overall motivation and a background before a listing of Traits.
Each of the NPCs has fulfilled the book’s promise of being interesting at the very least. Many of them are easily inserted in any campaign, and I’m already looking at a few to put into my Hollow Earth Expedition Campaign.
Overall, Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game is an impressive product that fills a particular, specific niche in a manner that is very difficult to top.
The book is a must for any GM, but is especially helpful for ones like me who have trouble thinking of more than a dozen NPCs at any given time without turning them all into two-dimensional stereotypes. Each and every NPC in this book is interesting, amusing and ready to run in any campaign.
The amount of work put into the organization of the book is to be commended, as it is clearly made to be easy to use, something that I find is very rare for most RPG products.
I have absolutely no problems recommending this book to almost anyone who has ever been a GM.
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game is available from DriveThruRPG for $16.95 or roughly PhP 730.00