The last time I reviewed Cawood Publishing’s Hirelings & Henchmen (see review here), it did not take long for another substantial supplement to arrive, not only that, it’s their largest NPC collection to date. Their latest supplement, Friends & Foes I, is a successor to Hirelings & Henchmen. Expanding from the original idea and providing statblocks for allies, humanoid foes, and monstrous villains.
The 200-page tome is divided into three distinct categories: Friends, Enemies/NPCs, and Monstrous Foes with the final pages devoted to tables.
What you will find
Just like the last Hirelings & Henchmen review, this supplement sports full statblocks for all of the featured allies and foes. All of the Friends and NPCs utilize the character classes featured in the Player’s Handbook and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Each of the Friends and Enemy/NPC consist of six stats ranging from 7th-level to 12th-level. Each character is unique from the others, both from their statistics to subclass choice. Additionally, all of the character stats include a bio for them, which provides for a short description of their personality, appearance, background, and consists of an ideal, bond, and flaw as characteristics to help round it up nicely. This little NPC bio block is probably my favorite feature included since Hirelings & Henchmen as the information is legible for ease of reference or adjustment.
When it comes to the more Monster Manual-based foes, their stats remain unchanged from their original entries and instead, we are given a monster bio entry that includes a treasure hoard. The treasure hoard section is a bit underwhelming with some of the entries, presenting mostly monetary rewards with not a variety of magic items. Each friend and foe is designed to fit nicely within a single page so any prospective Dungeon Master can print the desired page(s) needed for their encounter without having to reference back to the Monster Manual. Additionally, there are six pages of random tables to generate your NPCs which include content directly from the Player’s Handbook but includes details such as appearances and characteristics. If you’re more comfortable with improvising, the tables as mentioned earlier are very useful to create an NPC on the fly, but having those tables for the background is very useful to have on-hand.
As I stated, the treasure hoard section for the Monster stats felt underwhelming, while not an essential aspect, it would simplify some of the groundwork for the Dungeon Master if they wished to craft an encounter quickly. Yes, an argument can be made that the story or narrative could drive the rewards for the adventuring party, but we’re looking from the convenience for DM. Even a mention to direct the DM to which random treasure tables to reference in the Dungeon Master’s Guide would’ve been very helpful. Out of everything else, I am still delighted with the overall product, and this is the only portion of the review that is tailored to my tastes as less from the functionality of the product as a whole.
Just like Hirelings & Henchmen, I adore this product and believe that this will help immensely with some of the prep work for Dungeon Masters from encounters to possible allies and NPCs that the party may encounter in the course of play. It’s also a convenient resource to have on hand when a DM needs to improvise something quickly. The tables at the back of the book are great for DMs looking to craft allies and enemy NPCs to their taste and setting if the ones presented aren’t enough or not powerful enough for higher level campaigns. Having access to enemies with motivations is fantastic for crafting your narratives for short quests or even longer arcs in your D&D campaigns. It’s definitely worth the price for the volume of content you receive. Definitely worth a look.
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