The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19633.
Templates are nothing new, but they are often spread throughout multiple books, slowing down games and wasting valuable table time. 101 Not So Simple Monster Templates takes monster templates that Rite Publishing has included on many of their products and consolidates them into one book.
In a day and age when players have learned to min/max their characters and have no fear of things like orcs and goblins, it is good to see a product that gives Game Masters a chance to beef up lower challenge rating creatures or gimp out creatures that might be a perfect fit for the story but overpowered for the adventuring party.
Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Rite Publishing has done a good job of mixing color and black and white art into 101 Not So Simple Monster Templates. I have to give them props for selecting art that is more in-tune with the text they are presenting. The addition of captions or titles that describe is a clever way to make sure that some of the stock or public domain art is useable. There is a quick reference chart that lists each of the template’s names and their challenge rating adjustment. Charts like this are a must to ensure that a product with this much information is table-friendly for players and GMs. The templates are in alphabetical order, which works. To improve the usefulness of the well-done chart, I would recommend including a page number behind the challenge rating adjustment number, to make things that much quicker to find. The chart works at the back of the book, but I would be interested to see it at the front of the book where it could be an index/quick reference chart. These are minor points that should not overshadow a well-set up supplement.
Mechanics: 9 out of 10
Some of these templates still feel over-powered, but they are all done well. 101 Not So Simple Monster Templates mechanically gives GMs a huge amount of flexibility in how they create monsters to face adventuring parties. Throw a few of these templates on your everyday kobold and you could achieve a total party kill on a 3rd or 4th level adventuring party. Some of the templates include quick rules and most give rebuild rules. This is important especially if a monster acquires one of these templates later in its career. The addition of challenge rating adjustments that subtract from a creature’s challenge rating adjustment is almost as valuable as the challenge rating adjustment on the positive side. Most of the negative challenge ratings involve the loss of a limb or sense, but mechanically they could easily be applied for a player character that gets their arm or leg hacked off, gnawed off, burnt off or dissolved during an adventure.
Value Add: 10 out of 10
There are a boat load of templates in this book. Some are very specialized while others could be used in most situations. Adding these templates to creatures that face adventuring parties will create a variety and add a feeling that these monsters are not just stat bags and treasure generators. Some of these templates would be interesting on player characters. This book should be in every GMs toolkit.
Overall: 9 out of 10
Templates, if used correctly, can add so many dimensions to a game. Rite Publishing is getting better and better with every product they produce and 101 Not So Simple Monster Templates is an example of a supplement that is useful, good-looking and thoughtfully executed. There are some truly inspired templates in this book that I doubt you will see anywhere else.
[5 of 5 Stars!]