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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Dungeons & Dragons - New Printings of Old D&D Books from DrivethruRPG

Drivethru RPG is a site that sells .pdfs of old D&D products. Now they have started selling printed books. When I read the announcement, my eyes almost exploded.

A lot of older D&D products are extremely expensive and most Planescape stuff is very pricy. The cheapest copy of the Hellbound boxed set on amazon goes for $174 right now! This is potentially a way to get a physical copy of a book that you like for much cheaper.

I don't know if they'll ever try making actual boxed sets, but I hope they do.

Protect Your Investment: If you own an expensive old product that you are going to use at the table, you might not want to subject it to the rigors of play. You also might want to buy one of these so that your valuable one doesn't get caressed by cheeto fingers.

Premium Version: I decided to experiment. I ordered Uncaged: Faces of Sigil, which is officially the favorite Planescape book of one Chris Perkins. There are two versions of this product. One is "standard," and one is "premium." Premium costs $12 more. Premium ones, I assume, are made of higher quality paper. There are no changes to the content.

I ordered the "premium" one. Know why I was able to do this? Because you people go out of your way to pay money for those .pdfs I made, so I have a big pile of credit sitting in there. Thank you!

Pricing: It came to a total of $31 with shipping, I think. I saw an original Uncaged on ebay for $30 + shipping. It's a little weird to opt for this new one rather than buying an original. I almost bought both for comparison purposes but hey, I'm not Mr. Peanut when it comes to disposable income.

One thing that had me very worried was a prominent note on the screen. It said that this product was made from a scan. I started to expect the worst.

Wait Time: I ordered it on a Saturday. It took 5 days for them to print it. Then it took 5 days for it to get to me.

Very Happy!

I used the flash on the camera so that you can see that this book is shiny.

I didn't have high hopes for this, but I flipped through it and I was extremely impressed! The cover is glossy and sturdy. They used great, heavy paper for the interior. The art inside looks fantastic! I'm a big DiTerlizzi fan so I am extremely happy. The binding seems secure and when I first flipped through it, this book looked to be flawless!

So this is an easy thumbs up. That said, the closer I looked, the more things I noticed. To me, none of these are a very big deal. I am pointing them out so you can decide if you want to buy one of these products.

By the way, seeing the TSR logo in the corner of a newly-printed product feels really good.

The Spine

This is my biggest bone of contention and, to be frank, my bone isn't all that big. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think they made up their own image for the spine. I took a picture of the book smooshed between "official" books so you can see what I mean:

It's between Hellbound and the Factol's Manifesto. See how it is cream-colored and has that weird font? I am pretty sure that is not what the original spine looked like.

What's strange is that I don't think it is that hard to re-create the spine using an art program. I did a quick planescape spine in photoshop. It took about 10 minutes:
Maybe there's some legal issue or something. This creamy spine sticks out like a sore thumb.

Off-Center

When I looked more closely, I saw that a few things were off. Look at the back cover:

Do you see how the "E" in Planescape is cut off? See how the central text box isn't centered? It wasn't noticeable to me right away. I've had "official" products printed off-kilter too, so this doesn't really bug me.

Chaotic Alignment
Check out the center of the book. See how the text is really close to the spine? You have to pull the book apart a bit to read it, which worries me because I don't want to tear this thing apart with my Herculean strength. It's readable, but it is definitely too far in there.

Wonky Page

This one page is a little odd. If you look at the border on the right, it's aligned weirdly. It's thicker on the side than on the top. It's actually thickest on the bottom. Again, to me this is a very minor quibble.

It Looks Fantastic

Check it out. Judge Gabberslug! I used him in my campaign a few months back and I want to use him again. That's a scan?! To me, it looks great.

One thing I should note. In the old Planescape products, they used shimmery gold ink in at least some of books. These don't. Not a big deal but, again, I figured I'd mention it.

Looky here. Cranium rats! They are statted out in Volo's Guide to Monsters. This will give you a ton of extra lore and ideas to use.

The full page pieces look perfect. Seriously, they did a great job:

Overall

I love this book. It was worth every penny. It's sturdy and the materials seem to be of high quality. If you are on the fence on whether or not to buy this, I say that you give it a shot!

I ordered a module just now so that I can see what that is like. It's The Mines of Bloodstone. Those bloodstone adventures sometimes go for outrageous sums of money, so I figured this is a good one to get.

Realms of Chirak is reviewing ALL of these products right here.

3 comments:

Jason Raabis said...

In the old days of 1e and 2e, we would run modules mostly out of the box. Later, as we got into more" campaign arc" type playing, I found the printed published material was getting more modified, sticky noted, and all manor of changes on other paper jammed into the module. It looked like a Frankenstein from Staples! When I came back to the hobby, these new fangled PDF's were available. I took an adventure I wanted to run, transferred the content I wanted to my own document, added all the alterations, and then hit print. Seemed to work out in terms of DM organization.

That said, I always prefer books over looking at a computer screen in terms of reading. Functionally though, maybe PDF's have some advantages that are hard to ignore!

As someone who has DM'ed a lot of content in the modern age, my question to you is: do you prefer and use hard copies over PDF's for your DM prep?

Michael English said...

I have to agree with Jason here. The PDF versions are priceless for me as a DM. I have all the books I use in hardcopy, but if I can get a PDF also, it helps a lot in copy/paste/print for NPC stats, modified descriptions and looking up that nagging little fact I only half remember from the module when prepping for the session.

Sean said...

Jason Raabis: I guess pdfs are better because you can skip around quickly. Also, you can search a pdf which will save you loads of time. I still like owning RPG books that I enjoyed. I ran Rogue Mistress in '96 and I will never get rid of it.

Michael English: Agreed!