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.