It's a big, scary world out there, and for your players, it's gotten nastier. The Book of Monster Templates gives you more options, more creative flexibility and more ways to just freak out your players with new templates itching to be added to any Pathfinder Roleplaying Game monster.
Enjoy innovative templates like the Bloody Maw, who consumes magic items for their eldritch power; the Boundfury, who lives to punish and guard those it has found guilty; and the Phlogiston Creature, an arcane construct that combines magic and technology to create truly frightening additions to your favorite evil wizard's laboratory.
More than just a collection of templates, each entry comes with Lore information, Ecology, and succinct yet detailed guidelines for how to use the templated creature in your next game. The Book of Monster Templates gives you the creative oomph you've come to expect from Rite Publishing, and it'll give your party something to remember for a long time—if they survive!
Author: Steven D. Russell
Additional Design: Ben McFarland, Crystal Frasier, Jonathan McAnulty, Justin Sluder, Michael Welham
Cover Art: Hugo Solis
Cover Layout: Claudia Burgos
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.
Seeing as others have thoroughly detailed the contents, I removed that tedious list to get to the heart of the matter quicker.
This 111 page document is just exactly what its title above claims, a book of monster templates. But there are templates, such as the types that appear at the back of the Pathfinder Bestiary which give some useful options for Game Masters to apply to monsters; and there are templates which don’t just stop at useful. This book contains the later kind. The Monster templates in this book are thoroughly detailed and contain complete information on how to create the different creatures out of the “normal” monsters in the Bestiary and other supplements. But this goes far beyond mere templates. First of all each and every one of these contains a fully fleshed out altered creature using the template. Included in the description for each is a full stat block, an in-character blurb, a lore section with information a PC may learn along with appropriate DCs, a full description of any new monstrous feats the creature uses, and to top it all off an “Ecology Encounter” and its EL. A few Templates contain new spells and one even has a new type of disease in place of a monstrous feat. Each Template also includes an illustration of a sample creature. The art ranges from very well done to sufficiently representative, but none that I would consider bad art.
This is a must-have for any GM who wants to create encounters for his game that are out of the ordinary. From some interesting variations on an old theme to some dramatically different creations (like the Aware Arcana) that stand out above the rest, the templates this book holds are brilliant tools for GMs who want to make an encounter far more than ordinary. The Sample Creatures for each one as well as the other superb additions make this worth a full 5 stars. If there were any errors, I didn’t spot them. But I must admit I was too busy marveling at the content and planning how to inflict some of these on my players.
This book is 111 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 106 pages of content.
The book kicks off with a introduction (1 page) to the monster templates with advice on how to apply templates quick as well as mentioning some interesting facts about the format in which the templates are presented: An explanation of the unique sample creatures provided, quick tactics, the monster's point of view of itself, Lore DCs, monstrous feats (each section has some of them) as well as (thank the 7 heavens!) ecology-sections. I hate it when monsters are presented as creatures in a vacuum and thus welcome the addition of these sections.
The templates range from -50% CR to CR +3. I listed their CR-modifications, the name of the sample creature, the CR of the sample creature and the respective bonus material.
-Accursed Creature Template (CR -50%, Broken Beast, CR 12, Monstrous feat: Stomp)
-Aware Arcana Creature Template (CR=double highest effective caster level, Aware Arcana Fireball, CR 6, Aware Arcana Merged Cup of Dust and Feast of Ashes, CR 10, 3 new feats to create the living spells, 1 new associated item)
-Betrayer Creature Template (CR+1, Iudas, CR 6, Monstrous Feats: Improved Feign Death and Improved Hidden Healing)
-Bloody Maw Creature Template (CR+1, Jaws of Winter, CR 6, Monstrous Feats: Greater Belly of the Beast, Vorpal Bite)
-Body Jumper Creature Template (CR+3, Bisiir "Discord's Essence", CR 21, Monstrous Feat: Hidden Possession)
-Boundfury Creature Template (CR+2, Guilded Guard of Gone, CR 7, Monstrous Feats: Greater Pain, Greater Penalize)
-Civilized Creature Template (CR+1, Genteel Spines, CR 14, Monstrous Feats: Telekinetic Flight, Telekinetic Shield)
-Darkseed Creature Templates (CR+2, Bloody Blades, CR 7, Monstrous Feats: Dark Endurance, Dark Strength, Faster Healing)
-Distortion Creature Template (CR+3, Mutilating Beast, CR 4, Monstrous Feats: Improved Scare, Greater Scare)
-Drachenchor Creature Template (CR+3, Gellid Dirge Lich, CR 12, Monstrous Feat: Spell Leech Storehouse)
-Dreaded Creature Template (CR+2, Kah the dark Captain, CR 14, Monstrous Feats: Painful Scars, Inflict Terror)
-Earthbound Creature Template (CR+2, Fettered Giant, CR 10, Monstrous Feats: Towering Assailant, Quick Fling)
-Eldritch Spawn Template (CR+3, Eldritch Glutton, CR 7, Monstrous Feats: Dream Sleeper, Insane Insight)
-Entropy Infused Creature Template (CR+1, Wasteling, CR 9, Monstrous Feats: Sinkhole, Cave-In; actually several templates in one, negative-energy quasi-elemental nod towards Planescape)
-Eternal Creature Template (CR+1, Eonian the Incessant, CR 3, Monstrous Feats: Improved Breaching, Greater Breaching)
-Exemplar Creature Template (CR+3, Atelier's Vengeance, CR 19, Monstrous Feats: Improved Perfect Health, Improved Magic Reduction)
-Hatemonger Creature Template (CR+2, Hatelarren, CR 4, Monstrous Feat: Compelling Oratory; additional disease, variant template Strifemonger parasite)
-Havenfury Creature Template (CR+1-3 depending on base creatures CR, Black Ghont, CR 18, Ritual: Asylum of Wrath, Mosntrous Feat: Improved Corrupt Language)
-Irresistible Creature Template (CR+1, Sir Horace of the White Bull, CR 12, Monstrous Feat: Quicken Devastating Blast)
-Jagannath Creature Template (CR+3, Restless One, CR 13, Monstrous Feats: Spit Victim, Improved Spit Victim)
-Jaunting Creature Template (CR+2, Abhorrent Wink, CR 5, Monstrous Spells: Dimension Hop[Brd 2,Sor/Wiz 2], Teleport Attack [Sor/Wiz 7])
-Mythic Creature Template (CR+2, The Undying Storm, CR 7, Monstrous Feats: Dying Curse, Improved Self Resurrection)
-Phalanx Creature Template (CR+1 or +2, Apellon & Aptemis, CR 12, Monstrous Feats: Power Throw, Crushing Volley)
-Phlogiston Construct Creature Template (CR+0, 4 different Phlogiston batteries, Dynamo, CR 7)
-Positive Energy Creature Template (CR+2, Lifetrap, CR 8, Monstrous Feats: Improved Animate Objects, Improved Energy Instill)
-Protector Creature Template (CR+1, Heaven's Guard, CR 14, Monstrous Feats: Improved Shield of Destiny, Improved Protective Aura)
-Ritefury Creature Template (CR+2, Wrath-wake, CR 7, Monstrous Feat: Improved Animate Object)
-Rune-Carved Creature Template (CR+2, Carcera of the Ruins Perilous, CR 9, Monstrous Feat: Masked Shapechanger)
-Tax Collector Creature Template (CR+2, Fishwife of Fees, CR 6, Monstrous Feats: Tax Hike, Expanded Domain)
-Trickster Creature Template (CR+1, Eshu the Deceiver, CR 5, Monstrous Feat: Greater Shapechange)
-Unsighted Creature Template (CR+2, Bloody Beggar, CR 15, Monstrous Feat: Greater Gaze of Unlight)
-Weapon Construct Creature Template (CR=+1 for every two enhancement bonuses of the weapon, Bloodhex, CR 8)
The book closes with tables for templates by challenge rating as well as sample creatures by challenge rating as well as a short glossary. ( 1 page)
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any major flaws. Layout is clear and concise, the b/w artworks range from "meh" to "awesome".
I loved the classic Advanced Bestiary by Green Ronin and that's why I preordered thsi book as soon as it was announced. Just let me say: I didn't regret it for even a second. This is perhaps the best monster book out there for Pathfinder right now - each and every template is either mechanically extremely cool, does something that hasn't yet been done, features captivating prose and some very interesting sample creatures, often all of them. The sheer amount of "bonus" feats provided also helps variability in encounters. I'm going so far as to say that even if you as a DM are too lazy to use templates yourself, the sample creatures themselves are worth the price. Most of them are written in a way that makes the average DM come with at least one adventure. Just take a look at the sample creatures in the above list as well as the list of monstrous feats - you get an awesome amount of content for your bucks and most feature the unique, imaginative style I've come to appreciate in the best of Rite Publishing books. Should you have passed on this book until now, go get it. My final rating is 5 out of 5 possible stars - possibly one of the best monster resources out there.
A fun way to make your encounters more interesting
I picked this one up on a whim because you can never have too many monsters in your game. I was impressed with the quality and playability of just about everything in here. There were a couple that just weren't my style but they were still very usable. I liked the idea that some of the templates actually made the creature it was applied to weaker, a good way to introduce tougher creatures at lower levels and then use them for an extended set of levels. I will be on the look out for other products from Rite Publishing.
Skipping over the mis-spelling of the author's name on the cover, dive straight in to the Introduction, and a discussion of the whole glorious scope of the template in monster design and modification. Good monsters are a classic staple in fantasy role-playing, yet how many players seem to know them all (even when they don't play budding naturalist rangers who keep field notebooks!) which always takes the edge off the excitement? Templates enable you to put new twists on your monsters without having to spend time inventing completely new ones. No less than 32 templates are included, plenty to keep your monster stable populated and your players on their toes.
So, on to the templates themselves. A formulaic presentation has been used, so that it is a straightforward matter to lay original monster description and template side-by-side and work through your monster methodically. If even that does not appeal, or you are really in a hurry, there are plenty of examples of modified monster you can use straight off. The samples even have the sort of combat notes and (when appropriate) information on how they think and react, to make running them simple. There are also lore charts, to enable the more learned character to have a chance of knowing something about this strange critter he's just encountered even if his player does not.
Analysing one in detail, the formulaic presentation works well. Starting with a paragraph or so describing what that template actually means, how it affects any creature to which you wish to apply it, each facet of a monster stat block is addressed in turn, making it easy to undertake the conversion. The majority of templates are generic enough to be applicable to any monster from any source, whilst the exemplars are suitable for immediate use as 'variant' specimens of whatever the base monster happens to be, complete with a wealth of apposite information.
One gem, though, is the Aware Arcana template. You apply this not to a monster but to a spell, rendering it capable of following simple directions. It appears like a glowing giant ioun stone, and can emit the original spell as a ray attack... several times! When things get up close and personal they can emit the same effect as a spark instead. They last until destroyed (being vulnerable to dispel magic as well as to taking physical damage, until then they are capable of flight and of acting with basic intelligence. Neat! If your spellcasters like this idea, there is a feat that they can take to enable them to make their own and even a magic item to allow more precise control of them.
Amidst the accursed and betrayers and the like, there is also a civilised creature template. These monsters have either developed their own civilisation and culture, flying in the face of what you would expect of them, or have grown to appreciate someone else's culture to a great extent, often found wearing clothes, using tools and other unlikely actions for monsters widely believed to be savage and animalistic at best. However, most of the templates tend to make their recipients even more monstrous than they otherwise would be... and I'm sure I've met the tax collector! Another interesting template is the weapon contstruct creature: here, perhaps, an explanation for that annoying intelligent sword that gives you backchat at inopportune moments.
Overall, it's a fascinating collection presented in a systematic manner. The templates themselves are ingenious and often spawn adventure ideas, while the sample monsters are ripe with inspiration. Rather too many niggling little errors got past the proofreaders, but nothing that actually renders anything unusable: and use this you will!