Blackdirge’s Templates: Elemental Exemplar is a short monster book from Blackdirge Publishing. The zipped file contains a single PDF of the product, which is sixteen pages long, including the cover, the credits/legal page, and the OGL. Full bookmarks are included.
The cover is the only instance of full color artwork. All of the remaining art is black and white. Each example creature has a piece of art depicting it in all its elemental glory. Borders run along the top and bottom of every page, listing information about the product. Altogether, there’s little loss in not having a printer-friendly version, as most printers should be able to handle the graphics here.
Blackdirge’s opening tells of his recent travels to the Inner Planes, where he witnessed several elemental creatures that were stronger than normal for their kind. Thus, he brings us the Elemental Exemplar template. This is a single template, with different powers depending on what element you use; there are five altogether, air, cold, earth, fire, and water. Notably, this template can only be applied to a creature that already has an elemental subtype – it won’t make an elemental version of a creature, so much as it’ll make an elemental creature stronger.
One example creature is given for each of the elemental possibilities with this template, making this a slightly larger product than typical Bestiaries. In typical Blackdyrge fashion, the first two have Challenge Ratings in the single digits, whereas the next two are in the teens, and the last one is a low-epic monster.
With solid mechanics and good writing, this is a good product for helping to add more oomph to your elemental monsters without having to lay on class levels or natural hit dice. My only concern is that some may find this to not be thematic enough; if you already have a fire creature, does increasing its fire damage and giving it a few fire spell-like abilities make that much difference? There’s more to this template than that, but the idea is there. Still, for its versatility alone (in that it handles five elemental types in one template) this is a useful product, and of course it comes complete with five monsters, ready to be dropped into your game no matter what element your PCs are facing. This is a book that’s definitely worth its cost.