One of the best things to come out of the d20 rules is, in my opinion, templates. Being easy ways of customizing your monsters helps to make what would otherwise be generic creatures have a special, unexpected slant to them. Of course, saying templates are “easy” ways of customizing your monsters is a relative term. In fact, templates virtually always require tweaking a monster beforehand. Hence why Pathfinder offered us the new simple templates, micro-templates that made comparatively small changes, complete with “quick” rules that told us how to change a monster on-the-fly.
Rite Publishing’s second book of templates goes with this approach, trying to keep the new material in line with existing simple templates…but not everything herein is quite so simple, as the title acknowledges: 101 Not So Simple Monster Templates.
The title’s honesty is slightly undercut by the fact that this book doesn’t actually have one-hundred-one templates in it, but rather ninety-three. You wouldn’t know it unless you actually counted, though, so it’s not like that’s a deal-breaker.
The templates themselves run quite the gamut in what they offer. Some of these templates are indeed worthy of being called simple, such as templates for creatures that are blind, deaf, or missing an arm. Others are based around turning the base creature into another creature-type, such as the Banshee Creature template, or the Lich-Touched template (which gives the base creature the lich’s paralyzing touch).
Some may find the aforementioned templates to be something of a deal-breaker, as these seem like something easily constructed on your own. That may be, but that’s not the fault of the book – after all, this is focused on simple templates, and that will mean that many of the templates take a single idea and implement it. That the book exhibits a range in the templates it offers is a virtue, not a vice.
Speaking of a range, there are plenty of templates in here that aren’t quite so simple, either. The Walking Fortress Creature template makes the creature into a titanic monstrosity with an actual fortress on its back. A Riven Magic Creature not only shrugs off magic, but drains and destroys it as well. There’s a lot here for those looking to put an unexpected spin on their everyday monster. Most helpful is the chart at the end of the book that ranks the templates by their CR adjustment, ranging from -5 all the way to +4.
The book doesn’t offer any example creatures, and in only a few places are there sidebars that discuss what’s presented. Likewise, while the lion’s share of the templates offer both quick and rebuild rules, not all of them do. In many cases, this is because the template is effect-based, and so the quick and rebuild rules are identical. Sometimes, though, the template just offers one or the other. Again, that isn’t particularly bad, but keep an eye out for the templates that assume that you’ll make things like ability score adjustments ahead of time.
Ultimately, this book is overflowing with templates that are simple and not-so-simple. In fact, some of these are templates of such creativity that they could have gotten the full template treatment. Whether you want your monster to have an exceptionally powerful bite attack (Gnawing Creature) or be the personification of death itself (Grim Reaper Creature), look no further than 101 Not So Simple Templates.