This massive pdf clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page blank back cover, leaving us with 50 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review will deviate a bit from my usual style, namely because me tackling this book in it would just end up be extremely redundant and extremely boring – basically, what this pdf does is spare the GM a literal crap-ton of work. If your PCs and players are like mine, vanilla monsters will get curb-stomped left and right…and become boring pretty fast. The most obvious choice one has, beyond templates, would obviously be the addition of class levels. The grand issue being that a dragon with 1 level of alchemist not being that impressive…right? So, what to do? Well, what about templating class features of base classes and sticking them, via templates, on a vast plethora of creatures? Sounds great right? Witch-y redcaps, alchemist mohrgs…the whole shebang.
The set-up is a tad bit more complicated, but bear with me: The templates have a key attribute (and some a minimum requirement in that attribute) – via an easy and concise formula, one can adjust base creatures not suitable for a certain class template to work with it and remain viable in the context of the CR-system. Spellcasting is kind-of handwaved, with only the top three tiers of spellcasting featuring in the equation and lower level spells sporting a limit of 2/spell level. Yes, I could complain about that – but after having written more spell-lists than I can count, I get why – it’s not feasible. Why codify each and every spell available, when only a fraction will be used anyways? Some of you may consider this sloppy – in the context of this book, with my experience, I consider this to be VERY sensible.
The templates sport valid quick rules and full lists of rebuild rules. CR-modifications of the tables cover a range based on HD and can cover anything between CR +1 and CR +4.
If that sounds awfully dry (or you’re just too lazy to apply a simple template), you’ll still have a means to appreciate this book – namely the sample creatures. Each template comes with a sample creature: From frost giant warpriests to fey corsairs, the fully statted creatures can be considered a nice statblock-gallery. Oh, and Bob Greyvenstein illustrated this one – that means that each creature’s rendition, many of which btw. come as gorgeous full-page artworks, is downright gorgeous.
Editing and formatting are very good – I noticed no glaring glitches herein. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games’ new and pretty awesome-looking grimoire-style 2-column full-color standard and the artworks provided, as mentioned above, are copious and stunning. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
We’ve all done what this book does more streamlined- slapped a quick and dirty class feature on a creature. This book codifies and simplifies the process…it takes the “dirty” out of the “quick and dirty” of the process and is much more compelling than I expected it to be. Sure, this pdf will win no innovation awards – and I can already hear some designer grumbling over the ether. The fact remains, though, that this has simply not been done before. We may have practices what this pdf codifies, but, at least I, did it sloppily and exclusively for my home-game. The templates are simple and concise and capture the classes and their tricks pretty well. The CR-adjustments make sense. The sample creatures are nice to have. I’m quite frankly relatively surprised.
Why? Well, for one, I really see this pdf acting as a colossal time-saver for many a GM. And secondly, this is the first book by Jenny Jarzabski I’ve reviewed – and, with all due respect, my lady – you rocked this one. Not many authors can claim to have impressed me this way with their first book – so yes, I’m looking forward to your variant multiclassing rules, which I’ll tackle soon! My final verdict for this extremely useful book will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. An extremely handy book to have for the time-starved, yet discerning GM!