Game: Allies & Adversaries
Publisher: Bastion Press
Review Dated: 18th, February 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00
One day there will be a book of NPCs published that does not include an NPC with a parent slain by raiders background. One day there will be such a book but it isn’t today and it isn’t Allies and Adversaries. The very first character in the book, a dwarf fighter called Dagan, had his parents killed by Drow.
Cliched character backgrounds wont be your first impression of Allies & Adversaries. Your first impression will be “Coo. Pretty.” It is an attractive book and its super model thin with only 32 pages. Allies & Adversaries is full colour. Really, full colour, the pages aren’t white but a lovely weathered and decorated leather style instead. Your second thought, if you’re anything like me, is to wonder just how much it costs to colour 32 pages. The suggested price at the back of the book is $14.95. I think there are two ways of looking at that; that’s not all that much more expensive than many of the black and white “guide” books, on the other hand, it’s nearly a third extra. Hmm, but it is a pretty book. Did I say that? All the female characters inside are pretty too.
There are 15 characters in all and you’ll have to go through and count them yourself because there isn’t any sort of index. The best way to find an NPC that you think will suit your needs when you’re in a hurry is to flick through, check out the top quality character portraits and stop when you see one that fits. As I said all the female characters are pretty and all the warriors are muscled and square jawed, apart from the assassin who’s tall, thin and sinister, or the wizard who is old, not really frail and dressed in a red robe. Allies & Adversaries simply wont win any prizes for originality. The illustrations don’t need to be original though, the quality carries them through and inspiration shines from each. The text, the stats and background, on the other hand doesn’t shine as much. It’s not easy finding an NPC you want to use, especially if you’re in a hurry. There are valid calls for an index by class, by race or even by challenge rating. Even having one of those tables would mean that there would be one fewer NPC in a book where people are already likely to inspect for value for money. I’m not sure you’d want to find one of these allies or adversaries in a hurry either, I think the weakest is challenge rating 10, the strongest 20 and the average rating must be around 15. These are the sorts of challenge ratings campaign villains should have, or perhaps the player characters’ mentor and these are the NPCs that I can only imagine most GMs would to design for themselves. Just when will you need to reach for a book and grab an unexpected CR18 hero?
The best way to sum up Allies and Adversaries is as a luxury item. If you can afford it and buy it then you’re not likely to be disappointed with your purchase. That first “if” hurdle is the biggest challenge though, if you’re only going to buy one accessory in 2003 then its unlikely to be this book. Did I mention how pretty it is?