NPCs by Drew Hayes

I haven't written about a book in some time. I have a backlog of reviews I feel like I should complete on Goodreads, and I generally go through them every six months or so and clean them up, sometimes struggling to remember what happened in which book.

I'd had good intentions to write about Dark Matter by Blake Crouch right after reading it, and I even had the post half-written in my head, but this was while I was, let's say, in between blogging, and the moment passed without a word hitting the page. I'll get back to it. Like I said, it's a long backlog.

Anyway, the book I want to write about here isn't Dark Matter, but NPCs.

The book takes a very meta and self-referential look at paper-and-pen RPGs. Remember what it was like to be on an adventure and there was that one player who was just an ass to the NPSCs? I'm pretty sure that was me. I thought that everything was fighting, so my sword was the answer to every interaction.

Well, NPCs takes that premise and runs with it. The shopkeepers and street sweepers and all that have to take up the mantle of hero, and hilarity ensues.

Probably my favourite aspect of this story is the tone that the author sets. The whole concept is very silly, really, but you don't end up caring about that. There is no tongue in cheek, and the problems faced by the protagonists are very real.

Not that the story takes itself too seriously. There are occasional nods to tropes that D&D players have faced since the time of Gygax, and a lot of DM frustrations are vented.

Probably, if you played D&D as a kid you'll find yourself chuckling along, and eventually immersed in a simply-written, but engaging story that doesn't try and outgrow its gimmick, but doesn't suffer for it either. But if you never played D&D, or Palladium, or any of the other flavours of role-playing game, I don't think you'll appreciate it enough to make it worth your while.