The SNAs for the NPCs vary from game to game but there are some patterns to them. An example of this is that The Blue Wizard and Istar Luin seem to always have a lost list spell access as an SNA.
The stats seem to always be the same.
Their artifacts are always the same, but the numbers change from game to game.
Somewhere in the rules it states that not all NPCs are recruitable in every game. But if they are recruitable, you can move to them on T1, if you spent the points to get their starting locations. The starting locations vary from game to game. Your chances of success also vary. I think you need a minimum of a 50 emissary or better, with a 60 or better being ideal. But you can recruit the best ones at the beginning of the game. Succeed or fail, you stand a chance to gain or lose some points in one or two stats. For some NPC’s nothing happens if you fail. The only one I have seen that killed anyone is the one Dragon NPC, and I have seen him kill multiple high level emissaries. Well, actually Sauron kills as well, but that is only upon a successful recruit. He takes the life force from the emissary that recruits him. So don’t send Murazor in to recruit him. You generally want to send in an emissary around 60 to recruit him, which means a little later in the game.
Some NPCs have more localized areas that they stay in and some wander all over the map.
I didn’t even know there was a wiki out there with info on KS. The majority of the information I have is from the 8 games I have played in or am playing in at this time. I am sure that there are people that have information that isn’t on the wiki. I try to record every encounter and riddle and any other pertinent information that comes my way.
Because it takes an emissary skill of about 50 or more to recruit an NPC, some nations have an advantage in recruiting them. Some nations start with 50+ emissaries that are not army commanders and can move out right away to recruit. If your emissary happens to be a commander, you might have to spend 2000 points or more to move another commander to his location so you can transfer the army and move. For some nations, they will need to purchase every available nation option for boosting emissary skill to get one viable emissary. But then they will lack in pop center or military improvements.
One more thing, for some NPCs recruiting them is not always the best option. Some have other options in their encounters that give you far better rewards in the long run. I think every one that has played at least one game knows about Koashun. *** Clint, as of November 2019, the food issue still is not fixed. I think when this get fixed, it should be a set amount of about 10,000 food. Whatever random amount is currently set in the code is still not working right.***
If you still have more questions, jump into a game with a friend and give it a go. There is a chance that someone in the game on your side has played a few games and will hopefully be willing to share some info. I would avoid a gunboat game until you have played a few games and have had the chance to get a feel for the game and to collect some extra knowledge. I am currently playing a gunboat and a grudge game, which is the limit of my $50 a month for gaming right now. When my gunboat ends, I will most likely be hopping onto another solo adventure. Going solo is always an adventure.
I haven’t seen any critters joining armies. You can recruit NPC ents, eagles, a dragon, and a balrog, but no extra army power from them.