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Blackdyrge's Templates: Martial

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Blackdyrge\'s Templates: Martial
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Blackdyrge's Templates: Martial
Publisher: Blackdirge Publishing
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/11/2007 14:44:27
Blackdyrge’s Templates: Martial is a short d20 monster book from Blackdirge Publishing. The zipped file is just over four megabytes, and contains a single PDF of the product. It’s nine pages long, including the cover, the credits/legal, and the OGL. Full bookmarks are present.

As with all of the Bestiaries, the only color artwork here is on the front cover. Beyond that, the remainder of the art is for the two example monsters presented. Borders with information about the book itself line the top and bottom of every page. If you elect not to print the cover, then there shouldn’t be any major problems with printing this book.

The Martial template is the first in a “synergy” template, which is basically meant to add the basic abilities of a class onto a monster; naturally, this one is for the Fighter. Now, going off of that idea alone, you may be tempted to overlook this template based on the idea that you can just drop class levels onto a monster and be done with it. However, this template actually works with that idea; several of its special powers are augmented if the base creature has levels in Fighter. In this way, the Martial template can serve to either strengthen your monsters in place of adding class levels (if you’re pressed for time, this is certainly faster than going through and adding skill points, hit points, etc.), or it can be used to augment them. The versatility factor is high here.

Fans of this series of Bestiaries will be pleased with an easter egg tossed in to Blackdyrge’s opening entry, as he mentions the outcast elder devil Vexicus, from the Elder Fiend template. As usual, his writings set the tone for what example monsters are showcased. Here, we have martial barbed devils (CR 6) and the celestial eradicator (a martial hound archon fighter 10; CR 16). These nicely showcase using the template by itself to make your creatures stronger, or using it in conjunction with Fighter levels.

My only real complaint with this template is that, in terms of synergizing with class levels, it seems too narrowly restricted. “Martial” is a fairly broad category, so why do only Fighter levels warrant additional special powers? Why not levels in Barbarian, Paladin, or Ranger? This is easily house-ruled, of course, but it would have been a bit more useful if it didn’t have to be. I hope that the templates for arcane and divine spellcasters won’t be similarly restricted to wizards and clerics.

That’s an altogether minor complaint, however. The Martial template on its own works great, whether you want to just add a bit more power to your creatures, or want their Fighter levels to pay off even more. This template is elegant in its simplicity, and is sure to pay off quite well with the monsters in your games. I heartily recommend making your creatures a bit more Martial.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the great review. Your point about the martial template not applying to other "martial" classes is certainly valid; however, I plan to make a synergistic template for all the base classes, or at least all the ones that survive 4E. So, for example, there will be a barbarous template, which will preserve the individual flavor of the barbarian, rather than simply lumping it in with the martial template.
Blackdyrge's Templates: Martial
Publisher: Blackdirge Publishing
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/11/2007 09:28:01
Blackdyrge's Templates: Martial is a 9 page d20 pdf product that features a new template and two sample monsters. This product is one of several products in the Blackdyrge's templates line, although it is the first in a new series of 'synergy templates' within that line. This product deals with the martial template, for those creatures born with peerless skill at arms, and future synergy templates include roguish, devout, sorcerous and scholarly. This product is compatible with the revised d20 core rules.

One of the things I've always liked about Blackdirge Publishing's products in the Campaign Construction System. This system clearly identifies d20 material in terms of author, type of material (template), title of the material, and publisher. Blackdyrge's Templates: Martial, a fully bookmarked pdf, also includes these details, making it extremely useful in arranging Blackdirge Publishing's material in a binder, for example. The product has a great cover by Jesse Mohn (also responsible for some fantastic interior art), some excellent writing and editing, and a standard layout that fits in perfectly with other products in the series. Mechanics is excellent, as usual, and the general presentation is of a very high standard.

The product starts with an introduction by Blackdyrge, the 'author' of this series of product on d20 templates. The introduction gives a little background to the martial template, and how Blackdyrge scrutinised those that were born to warfare in an effort to illuminate on the martial template. The martial template, presented next, is for those creatures or races that have a natural talent for armed combat and armor. This inbred skill gives them exceptional ability with weapons and armor, doubly so if they can combine this talent with traditional (fighter class) training. Creatures with this template gain access to a number of martial abilities and bonus feats that could put a fighter of the same level to shame. In that vein, the template is provided with a LA, so PCs can take this template as they harness their born potential and talent at fighting and defence.

The martial template is naturally only for those that excel in battle, even though it could benefit most types of creatures by improving their abilities in combat. When combined with a few levels in the fighter class, the template increases in ability and power, providing a 'synergy' with that class. I quite like this concept behind synergy templates. One of the things that I've always found odd about certain creatures is that you can advance them by HD, but their innate magical abilities never improve. I'm hoping these synergy templates can provide an avenue to do so. The CR increases as a result of this template look reasonable, although for high HD creatures the ability score increases and the effective addition of about five combat feats might be worth more than a +1 CR increase.

The product concludes with two NPCs using the template - the martial bearded devil, and the celestial eradicator, a hound archon with fighter levels and the martial template. Both are well presented and written with good flavor and background details, and descriptions that bring the creatures into the imagination.

Blackdyrge's Templates: Martial is a good template built on an interesting and very useful new concept of a synergy template. While the idea of synergy is not new to most templates, as they often play to the strengths of certain creatures, this template is specific to the fighter class, and builds strongly on that. The martial template is well developed, contains good new mechanics, and will give those martial creatures in a campaign new skills and abilities in combat. Good product.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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