Pretty Darn Fun (A look at new PDFs)




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    Pretty Darn Fun (A look at new PDFs)

    Not all PDFs are created equal. PDFs come in a variety of different forms; some allow for different options and some remove options that other PDFs allow. There are several things to be aware of when shopping for PDFs. Make sure to take a look at some of the following changes that can occur in individual PDFs.

    -Watermark. Most PDFs have a watermark; a picture in the background or a line on each page of the PDF. These indicate that the PDF was purchased and often who it was that purchased the PDF. This is done in an attempt to prevent illegal sharing of the PDF.
    -No cut and paste. Modern software allows the cut and paste feature wherein you can copy text and put it into another document. This “feature” turns off the ability to do this. So if your plan was to copy and paste relevant information into another document, to create something like a DM Screen document, this will disallow the ease of cut and paste.
    -No printing. Some PDFs actually disallow printing of the document. This is often for comics or fiction books, but occasionally the PDF is only designed for use with a computer.
    -ebook only. A very few PDFs require a specific ebook reader in order to use it. This is normally only for fiction PDFs, but it is something to be aware of.
    -Audio only. Many PDFs markets also sell rpg related audio/mp3s. Be aware of these so you do not accidently buy an audio product expecting a printable/readable item.

    One final note when looking at a PDF of interest. Most PDFs provide a preview. Click on it and it will help give you an idea of what the product is like. This could help make up your mind on whether or not the product is right for you. And now, onto the PDFs of the week.

    Toys for the Sandbox 42: The Old Coffee House
    PDFs allow for focused content, one topic/location/monster/item etc, without adding material that is not relevant to the topic at hand. This series of PDFs by Occult Moon is designed to provide a single encounter location for fantasy settings. With over 40 offerings, a consumer can pick and choose which one best suit their current needs for world design or the next game’s adventure.

    This particular one offers up a new type of shop, one that serves a “new” commodity called coffee. How will it change the landscape of the city? Included are NPCs with their own motivations and several adventure hooks tied into the location, along with some other play aids such as rumor and encounter tables.

    The Hyper Halfling’s Book of Lists
    This book runs over 90 pages and gives us over 40 tables and then even more tables as there are sub-tables to add even more detail. If you are world building or looking to answer an unexpected player question, this could be the tool for you. One nice thing about this book of tables is that it is so much more than something to print out and use. This product highlights another nice feature of PDFs and that is the functionality of PDFs during play. This book comes with internal links that allow the user to click to specific tables and sub-tables thereby avoiding searching for the page of a desired sub-table and helping to speed up game play. This sort of utility allows PDFs to bring something extra that print can not.

    Trail of Cthulhu: Sisters of Sorrow
    The more I see of them, the more impressed I am with Pelgrane Press. This is an adventure for their Lovecraftian game, Trail of Cthulhu. The core game has won two ENnies for Best Rules and Best Writing and utilizes their GUMSHOE system, which I am a personal fan of. This adventure features creepiness on a WW2 submarine where things start to get weird…and wrong.

    The Way of War
    We often see hybrid games wherein genres are mashed together. This time we take a look at a hybrid game that mashes together game types. This looks like a cross between an rpg and a wargame. It offers up 6 classes with even more subclasses, multiple talents, an experience system for leveling and a ton of gear. You then take your characters into DM designed or random missions where in you fight in a turn-based environment, which in the product description comes across as varying battles. Is this a new style of rpg?

    Distant World Sneak Peek
    Another nice thing about PDFs is that it is a wonderful format for soliciting interest in your product for a nominal cost…in this case free. This sci-fi, star spanning game system is set to launch in November but this is your chance to check it out now. Will this be the system that you will latch onto? Who knows, but a free preview is an excellent way to find out.

    Supernatural Handbook
    Just in time for Halloween we have the PDF of superheroes and horror for Mutants and Masterminds. It gives some advice on how to run a horror themed series of adventures, as well as some setting material a GM can use. For crunchy bits it has adversary creation rules as well and some new archetypes for the players or villains to use, such s Noble Monster. This product also highlights another nice thing about PDFs. It is coming out before the print book is even available.

    Dungeon of the Month 2013 Calendar
    I like it when people do unusual things with rpgs, such as this calendar for next year. Each month, instead of a cute cat picture, there is a dungeon layout. From the preview, it looks like they run large. They are just the layout; there are no descriptions of rooms. Honestly, I doubt I’d actually use any of the maps, but I like the concept of hanging a calendar on the wall that is a reflection of me.

    TIER
    This is a former Kickstarter project that funded back in September. It is an rpg game system based off the d20 system, but with one fundamental difference - there are no classes. As characters level they instead pick from a list of Masteries (abilities). This means characters are fully customizable as they level and are not limited by class builds. The concept intrigues me. The PDF itself runs 412 pages.

    BareBones Fantasy Role-Playing Game
    This fantasy rpg claims to be lite in rules but big in scope. The rules are designed to play fast but this rule set also includes everything a person would need to run a complete campaign. It has several races and classes, a flexible spell system, gear, magic items, a large number of monsters, systems for creating adventures, a campaign setting and an adventure ready to run. They claim game play does not get bogged down with all this extra material. Sounds interesting.

    Harn
    Harn has a reputation for providing realistic settings and rules for a medieval or fantasy campaign. This week they are offering up some small PDFs highlighting specific locations. Knowing their way of writing these PDFs will be useful for any rule set and provide a realistic approach to medieval castle and building design. They have four offerings this week: Noron’s Keep (an isolated stronghold), Gythrun Castle (a settlement and castle), Oselbridge (a bridge and trading post), Escorsen’s Hermitage (a hermitage and grave site). These sound like they would be of benefit to someone doing world building or looking for a detailed site.

    Dungeons: A Solo Adventure Game
    Solo adventure gameplay is hard to do, but this book claims to do just that. It provides rules for four types of heroes, has six adventures and rules for character advancement. It looks like a traditional adventure book, but if have an rpg itch to scratch in between your regular game, this might be the way to do it.

    HALLOWEEN
    With tomorrow being Halloween, we continue to see horror based adventures/games. Here are some more quick picks for the season…

    Nightmare Amongst the Stars: A rules-lite space exploration horror game.
    The Genius Guide to Horrific Haunts: A Pathfinder look at spooky haunts.
    Undead Evolution Series Zombies: More Pathfinder zombies.

    Spotlight: Most Interesting PDF of the Week

    GUMSHOE Night’s Black Agents
    Spies + Horror. In this newest GUMSHOE game you play a former spy who discovers you are working for a cabal of vampires…and they must now be stopped. Powered by GUMSHOE that means this will be an investigation game where the investigation doesn’t get in the way of the action. Written by the popular Kenneth Hite, the rules purport to allow full customization of monsters and enemy organizations. The book includes a setting and a stating adventure hook.

    Night’s Black Agents brings the GUMSHOE engine to the spy thriller genre, combining the propulsive paranoia of movies like Ronin and The Bourne Identity with supernatural horror straight out of Bram Stoker. Investigation is crucial, but it never slows down the action, which explodes with expanded options for bone-crunching combat, high-tech tradecraft, and adrenaline-fueled chases.

    Updating classic Gothic terrors for the postmodern age, Night’s Black Agents presents thoroughly modular monstrosity: GMs can build their own vampires, mashup their own minions, kitbash their own conspiracies to suit their personal sense of style and story. Rules options let you set the level of betrayal, grit, and action in your game. Riff from the worked examples or mix and match vampiric abilities, agendas, and assets for a completely custom sanguinary spy saga.
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  2. #2
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    ø Ignore El Mahdi
    As to disabling cut and paste: there are a lot of pdf's out there that do this, but also a plethora of free programs that unlock them so you can continue using cut and paste. I'm however, not advocating piracy (which is one of the main reasons which disabling these functions is used for...foolishly so I might add), I'm only advocating re-engaging functions of pdf's which are useful, and largely crucial, for DM'ing using pdf's.


  3. #3
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    Copy and paste is essential when you need to print out something to give players, during session. Agree with El Madhi.
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