This supplement from Rite Publishing’s mastermind and veteran of templates (no-one has done that many great ones for PFRPG so far) Steven D. Russell is 9 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?
As the name implies, we get a template herein to create headless horsemen. The template adds a +2 to the CR of the base creature, and turn the creature into an augmented undead (with d8 as HD) and also DR – 5/good, DR 10/magic + good for CR 10+ and 15/magic, good, slashing for CR 15+, SR 11+HD and…well, if that weren’t enough…fast healing equal to their cha-SCORE. Yes, not the modifier, the SCORE. And no, I’m 100% positive this is NOT a glitch – these guys are nigh indestructible! OUCH!
Of course, no template by Rite Publishing would be complete sans an array of defining, unique signature abilities: Headless Horsemen may emit cackle-induced panic. Worse, each attack by the horseman is infused with hellfire, dealing more damage – and should one of these creatures actually be destroyed, they may draw the soul of their slayer to hell. As HORSEmen, these beings also get a cavalier-style mount and they also rejuvenate when not destroyed the “proper” way – for they do have their own weaknesses to offset the deadly powers of the template:
Possession of the Horseman’s head allows a creature to control the horseman and also allows for a way to destroy the horseman by annihilating or returning the head. Which is a wise decision, for combat is not a smart option – the horseman, in addition to its impressive ability-array, treats ALL weapons they wield as vorpal.
Following Rite’s tradition, we also get a sample creature ready to drop in your campaign, this case a headless horseman gendarme cavalier 10 – both said adversary and his mount get full stats, but that is not where said foe shines – instead, he is depicted in a great in-character monologue that tells us about the driving force of this sworn foe of adventurers, a member of the so-called Hero-Killers – the dread Harn, erstwhile servant of the immortal lich-king Cynmark (or substitute Tar-Baphon in Golarion..) – awesome prose here and complete with lore-DCs!
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout comes with a pumpkin-covered, appropriately helloweenish full-color border and adheres to a 2-column standard. The pdf comes fully bookmarked in spite of its small size – commendable!
I’ve so far seen various takes on the headless horseman and all failed to impress me in one degree or another – not so this one: Deadly to the extreme, full of nasty tricks, an almost unstoppable juggernaut, these horsemen are glorious adversaries WORTHY of the iconic horror-trope and most definitely rank among the finest horror-critters out there: Exceedingly deadly, while at the same time vulnerable, these beings will make your PCs run (if they’re smart!) – and all for a fair price-point. My only gripe is an utter nitpick of epic proportions, namely that I would have loved the Horseman to optionally utilize Hellfire as portrayed in e.g. the Genius Guide to hellfire Magic, but those spells are easily added, aren’t they? This far-fetched nitpick is ALL I can muster against this superb template – a purchase well worth the asking price and deserving of 5 stars + seal of approval! There’s a reason I call Steven D. Russell the “Master of Templates”…