A collection of templates, let's just roll that around on the tongue for a minute, shall we? A collection of templates.....not one or two tucked into a bestiary, not a bonus one tucked in a magazine....no, a whole collection, dedicated to templates. Kinda brings a tear to the eye...of every player who's ever thought they knew their monsters inside and out. Rite publishing brings us the equalizer, that's right, the equalizer. For every time we, as a GM, have spent days planning a fantastic evening with a combination of killer creatures, really looking to challenge and push our players, only to have each creature knocked down, one by one, like they were cream puffs. No more, with this collection those same old same old monsters are stepping out in a new set of shoes, with a whole new set of abilities and tricks.
Presented within are not just 32 new templates, oh no. Served up on a silver platter are a collection of templates, example creatures with full tactics, statistics and a lore section for each creature, a small DC based chart for the players to roll against to get some information on what they are dealing with. We're also treated to a snippet of conversation, an interview would probably be the best way to describe it, between those creature's that can communicate and Qwilion of Questhaven, in the form of excerpts from fictional books. I especially like this part, as including books into a campaign world is something I have always enjoyed very much, and having an author, and a body of work woven into another product of this nature is a subtle way to incorporate an NPC many might find boring if presented solely upon their own.
Interestingly enough, this being a collection of templates and all, is the fact that this PDF also presents us with 50 new monstrous feats and a handful of spells. I've purchased feat books that don't give me that many feats, and these are icing here, because this is a template book.
Every sample creature is accompanied with an illustration in B&W, and where as I know I have seen one of the illustrations in two other books in the last four days alone, the rest I did not recognize, and most of the art was fairly good. As seems to be the case, there is always one illustration that I find myself scratching my head and wondering, why? This time around it was the artwork chosen for pg 99, at no point does it even begin to feel like it fits with the rest of the art for this book, nor is it even of the same caliber.
I could go on and on about various templates within this collection, but previous reviewers have gone into pretty decent detail already, so I will instead tell you of my favorite two picks from this book, and my least favorite. We start with the Havenfury Creature Template, or more specifically, it's example creature the Black Ghont. The Black Ghont is a goblin monk, merged with a fury. The template, as it stood, was interesting. But this is a case where the example of what one can do with these templates really sold me, because in this case the template is overshadowed by the creation. Black Ghont (CR18) really shines in showing that you can take a monster a play group knows well, the goblin, and take it somewhere they could never anticipate or plan for. The template allows Black Ghont three ghost like goblin dogs who circle him in a protective ring at all times. He is essentially a beacon point for goblins within a certain range, and they will swarm to him to aid in battle, as well “loan” him their hit points. Oh, and best part of his entire write up, the entry from Qwilion has him dictating the Black Ghont's words, write up to the point the goblin realizes he's writing down his words....Goblins don't like that after all, they believe writing one's words can steal the soul.
My second favorite monster template from this book, isn't a template for monsters. The Aware Arcana is one of the most creative and unique things I have seen in a while. The concept of applying a template to a spell, and getting a construct that essentially is the spell, in the form of a minion who can take orders and carry them out, all while still possessing the ability to unleash the spell, very very cool.
Which brings us to my least favorite, and the one I doubt I personally will use, the Eldritch Spawn Creature. I'm simply not a fan of the Lovecraftian concept, so the whole mouth full of tentacle thing is an instant no sale for me. Lovers of the genre however, mechanically speaking, this is a sound template, and a great way to add this flair to any creature within your worlds.
OK, final thoughts. Artwork goods far outweighed the bad, formatting followed the dual column and standard statblocking concepts. There were several times throughout the book that spaces were dropped between words, but not enough to ping for even half a star, so I'm letting that one slide as the material more than made up for it. Throw in the bonus of feats and spells, and this PDF becomes a must have for any monster loving Gm out there. Giving this collection a 5 star rating.
[5 of 5 Stars!]