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  • Writer's picturechristinerainswrit

Review of NPCs (Spells, Swords, & Stealth #1)

Blurb: What happens when the haggling is done and the shops are closed? When the quest has been given, the steeds saddled, and the adventurers are off to their next encounter? They keep the world running, the food cooked, and the horses shoed, yet what adventurer has ever spared a thought or concern for the Non-Player Characters?

In the town of Maplebark, four such NPCs settle in for a night of actively ignoring the adventurers drinking in the tavern when things go quickly and fatally awry. Once the dust settles, these four find themselves faced with an impossible pretend to be adventurers undertaking a task of near-certain death or see their town and loved ones destroyed. Armed only with salvaged equipment, second-hand knowledge, and a secret that could get them killed, it will take all manner of miracles if they hope to pull off their charade. And even if they succeed, the deadliest part of their journey may well be what awaits them at its end.

Review: Four NPCs have to dispose of a party of adventurers and discover a summons from the king. If the adventurers don't show, the Mad King will decimate the village. Everyone the NPCs have loved will die. So Thistle and his friends embark on a journey to become adventurers themselves. What can a group of NPCs with no experience do in a world filled with murder hobos and demons?

This is an awesome concept for a fantasy gamelit series. I've always wondered what the NPCs did when a player wasn't around. In this world, they have complete lives, and relive the trope filled storylines over and over. Like the mayor's daughter, Gabrielle, constantly getting kidnapped by goblins and rescued by adventurers. It isn't scary after a while, and she makes friends with the goblins, because it's easier for them all that way.

I also like that how some of the typical tropes we see in fantasy games are turned on their heads. When the main characters first agree to go to see the King for the quest, they decide who is going to be each class based on stereotypes. After the first encounter with monsters, this quickly changes. The small gnome merchant (Thistle) becomes the paladin, the grumpy half-orc (Grumph) bartender the wizard, the cowardly town guard (Eric) the rogue, and the noble young woman (Gabrielle) the barbarian. Thistle's god is Grumble, the god of minions. It absolutely suits each of the characters.

Adventurers in this world are to be avoided by NPCs. Adventurers come into towns, steal, carouse, and make trouble. The book does start with real life folks playing a game and acting like murder hobos, but the story focuses on the NPCs. The plot does link these two different realms, but I won't spoil it for you. It was fun and light-hearted.

You can find Drew Hayes on his site and buy the book here.

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