Free GM Resource: Masks
One thing I generally don't like to do is come up with NPCs. Often I'll just have a list of generated names written down and I'll come up with my NPC's persona and background on the fly, taking down notes as I go. This keeps me from having to do too much work ahead of time. If the PCs never visit the bakery, my time creating the Baker is just a waste.
Now this week Free GM Resource isn't a complete product, but a 17 page preview of a GM aide put together by the folks over at Engine Publishing. I'm linking to the page that contains the free preview download and not the download itself because....actually should I have to explain common courtesy?
I like the fact that this product gets it's main idea from an early Dragon article, one that I'd highly recommend if you wanted to write up a bunch of NPCs ahead of time. This product doesn't follow that Dragon article exactly, but it does seem to hold true to the main gist of the article, which was to make simple (and short) NPCs.
There are a (relatively) small number of NPCs given as examples and a hint of the real strength of this product which is the indexes. If you need a particular type of NPC you can quickly filter out the NPCs you don't want and easily look through those that meet your specification. I like this idea.
It is obvious that this is designed as a print product first and a PDF copy is secondary. For only 17 pages this file is over 11 MB in size. I'd like to see a PDF optimized version, preferably with some specific PDF tweaks made. The online store says it is bookmarked and linked, but to what extent....I don't know.
Overall though the strength in this free product is two-fold. 1st is the obvious preview to see if you might be interested in buy the whole aide. The second is a selection of some free NPCs. At $17 for a PDF it is out of my comfort zone, but the ideas it generates in regards to creating and organizing my own NPC bank.....
.....now to dig up my Dragon Magazine archive.