What it is like being an NPC

This week I listened to an audiobook called NPCs, which is authored by Drew Hayes and narrated by Roger Wayne. The story follows a few NPCs that happen upon a bunch of player characters that accidentally die from ingesting a plant then drinking a catalyst which kills them in a tavern. The story would end there, however while the NPCs in the tavern go through the adventurer’s loot and find a scroll from the king. The King had requested the presence of these adventurers for them to complete a task for him. This King is known for being wicked and killing indiscriminately so the NPCs decide to go on the adventure to prevent their village from being burned down.

“This is less of a ‘the king needs a reason’ thing and more of a ‘the king loves burning shit and killing people’ thing,” Eric corrected.”

I am a big lover of Role playing games on consoles/PC but have never played a tabletop version, however with the small snippets of what it is like to run one of these games and how each player reacts it has made me want to eventually play one. You learn how much acting takes place and the thought process of the dungeon master/game master. The game mainly focuses on the NPCs, but at certain points the book cuts back to the players and what they are doing while the game is still playing out.

“Oh sure, everyone else charges monsters and it’s brave; I do it once and I’m a madman.”

The only issue I have is that it would have been interesting to have the players more present during the adventures that the NPCs are taking on. These NPC’s are unique and because of an event in game will react like real humans they are not at the whim of the game master or even the dice. How would the players react if the NPCs acted out of the rules of the game? Hopefully, this will happen in the next book. However, this is a ridiculously small downside to the book, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

“The constant threat of death was such a persistent companion, it almost felt like they should get it a horse.”

It was a real page turner (what is the audiobook equivalent?) I found it so easy to follow, and even if I missed bits, there was enough information that I would know what happened. It’s also relatively quite short compared to other books that I have read. This is both a blessing and a curse, a blessing because there is less world building and more action, but a curse as I wanted to see more of what they get up to and how they think.

For those reasons, this book gets an easy five out of five. I have already started the next book in the series and would recommend anyone who loves fantasy or RPGs to give this book a chance. It may even be one of the best books I have read this year.

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