Quick & Easy... SRD 3.5 Classes, Skills & Feats

John Cooper

Quick and Easy...SRD 3.5 Classes, Skills & Feats
Layout by Michael Todd
Big Finger Games product number BFG1201
60 pages (PDF), $3.00

I received Quick and Easy...SRD 3.5 Classes, Skills & Feats out of the blue, and I have to admit that it isn't something I'd ever have gone out and purchased on my own, as I prefer using the core rulebooks as printed products. Still, a copy of the SRD can be handy, especially for those writing their own gaming products who want to be sure that they are staying within the boundaries of the Open Game License and not go treading on any of WotC's product identity.

The very first thing anybody needs to know about Quick and Easy...SRD 3.5 Classes, Skills & Feats - and it's a really important one - is that this product is intended for electronic use only. That's important enough for me to repeat: this product is intended for electronic use only. Don't bother printing it out (as I did, because I find it easier to look over printed text than text on the computer, and that way I can read over the review material while away from the computer), because none of the tables will be present in the printed text. Instead, any time there's a table to go with the subject at hand, Michael Todd has embedded it as "pop-up windows" when you place your mouse cursor over the appropriate place in the document. It's a clever way of doing it, and I applaud the effort that Michael went to in order to do so, but it has the unfortunate side effect of diminishing the target audience for the product. I, for one, would never have bought this product (I was provided with a free review copy), given my preference for printed products. (I always print out any PDF I purchase.) So be warned.

The cover art is by Jason Walton, and consists of a monochrome (blue and white) ink drawing of an orc swinging a morningstar. Jason also handles the one piece of interior artwork, a human wizard holding a staff with a flaming tip, also in blue and white. I like the human wizard much better than the orc; the detail is much clearer, for one thing, and there's more of the subject showing (the orc's body is obscured in part by the "swoosh" lines of the weapon being swung). As far as personal preferences go, I'm not really all that fond of the font style used on the cover of the PDF; I find the fact that some of the letters are only half as tall as the others somewhat irritating (but that could well just be me). That's it as far as artwork goes, unless you count the "border art," which consists of a concave polygon along the right side of each page (the layout is in landscape, the better to be read on a computer screen). The "border art" serves no real purpose, other than making the outer edge of the second column on each page have odd margins. (It's a good thing this product wasn't meant to be printed out, or it would probably eat up quite a bit of blue toner!)

So, what will you find in this product? Well, that's a silly question - as it's taken directly from the SRD, you'll find the appropriate sections of the SRD that cover the ability scores, alignments, races, classes, skills, and feats. In fact, I should confess here that for the first time in any of my reviews, I didn't actually read every word of the product I'm reviewing. But that shouldn't be a concern; it's the SRD - everyone who has already read the Player's Handbook has already read the contents of this product. However, I did skim over each page and I managed to find a few formatting errors, proving that even in a product that contains absolutely no new content, it's possible to make mistakes. Nothing too messed up, but there are several places where a new paragraph isn't indented (the "Neutral Evil" section has one, as does the Druid class section), there are a couple places where an inadvertent carriage return creates half a line or more of wasted space (this occurs in the section dealing with the paladin's Aura of Courage, as well as the last line of the Open Game License on the very last page), a "-5" split between two lines (with the minus sign at the end of one line and the 5 at the beginning of the next), and a feat title at the end of a column and the information about that feat at the top of the second column. The last five bullets in the Gnome racial traits section were not indented properly, and I also noticed that the Diplomacy section uses the phrase "use the table below" even though the table is hyperlinked above that section.

Besides that, there were a few things that I think should have been included, but apparently weren't. At the top of this list are the Skills and Feats "brief glance" tables - you know the ones I'm talking about; the one that lists all the skills and which classes have them as class skills or cross-class skills (plus the appropriate ability that they're based upon), and the similar table that lists all of the feats with their prerequisites and a brief description of what they do. I don't know about you, but I use those tables out of the Player's Handbook all of the time. Likewise, I didn't see the table that has the breakdown on BAB, Good/Poor saves, skill points, feats, and ability score increases by character level, another very useful table I reference all the time (especially when creating monster stats).

So, this leaves Quick and Easy...SRD 3.5 Classes, Skills & Feats as somewhat of a mixed bag. It's a pretty good resource for those only interested in referencing the product from their computers, but leaves those preferring printed material in the cold. It has a bunch of formatting errors that really should have been caught before being released (especially since the SRD was already written - and formatted - for Michael before he started monkeying around with it). The artwork is minimal, but I can't really fault them for that, as anyone interested in purchasing the SRD (or even just a section of it) isn't buying it for the artwork; they want a down-and-dirty chunk of material that can be used as-is. The pop-up tables make it easier to find material (as the tables themselves don't take up any room, so there is a corresponding lower number of pages overall to the product), but might make it harder to copy and paste if you're buying the section of the SRD to use in your own hopefully-to-be-published manuscript. On the plus side, the bookmarks all seem to go where they're supposed to. All in all, though, I have to go with a "3 (Average)" for this product. At least with a $3.00 price tag, even if you're not entirely happy with it you aren't out a lot of money.

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This pdf features the basics, the core classes, the skills and the feats from the 3.5 System Reference Document (SRD), presented in an easy to use format made specifically for electronic use. This pdf is not suitable for print, but is great for laptop Game Masters and players.

The Quick & Easy...SRD 3.5 uses a series of "floating" buttons for all of the tables, allowing us to keep page count relatively low and making referencing those tables that much easier. Please download the demo for specific examples.

Contains the following OGC from the 3.5 SRD in an easy-to-use landscape pdf format:

The Basics
Core Classes

Note: The material in Quick & Easy... SRD is all OGC, originally released in the System Reference Document (SRD).


Quick & Easy: SRD 3.5: Classes, Skills & Feats

This one is for hardcore techophile d20 authors and few other people. Quick & Easy: SRD 3.5: Classes, Skills & Feats is a re-print of the SRD (System Reference Document) for d20 3.5 edition.

If you have the core Player's Handbook then you already have these rules. If you have an internet connection you can read the SRD for free (and easily) at the The Hypertext d20 SRD website. This Quick and Easy PDF just looks at classes, skills and feats (hence the name) and costs $3.00. This PDF doesn't print out very well at all. If you try you'll find there are gaping holes in it.

The main selling point of the PDF is actually a marketing/techno gimmick. There are icons dotted throughout the PDF which, when you hover your mouse over, open up to reveal a SRD table (like bonus spells and ability modifiers). I admit, it looks cool but it doesn't work very well. If you're scanning through these 61 pages quickly then rather than stopping when you see a familiar shaped table you have to keep your eyes open for the little icon. What's worse is that the Find function of Adobe Reader can't find the text in these tables. Look for "can't cast" as in "can't cast spells tied to this ability" and you'll come up blank with the function.

The result, sadly, is a PDF which isn't as quick and as easy as it could be.

This is a nicely presented SRD but since you can't really print it off the benefits of the clean presentation are limited awfully.

If you're trying to run (or even play) a game and have your laptop handy then Quick and Easy does have some merit because you do have a copy of the rules handy. Sadly, you can't squish the window into a discrete corner because it needs to be a suitable size for the magically appearing tables to work. If you need to scroll the screen to read the bottom of the table then the temptation is to move your mouse - which means your cursor moves off the icon and the table closes. Arhg. It's a bit of a faff.

I don't think anyone could question the quality and professional touch here. This PDF looks good. It's bookmarked. It's quick to load. The problem is the concept - it's a bit shaky. Charging $3 for a shaky concept is a bit much too.

If you want an electronic copy of the SRD, don't want the default one, only want skills, classes and feats, don't mind having some holes in the find function but do want something that loads fast then you're probably a technophile, obsessive (in the good way), d20 author (professional, semi-professional or fan). If this is you then you might be tempted by Quick & Easy: SRD 3.5: Classes, Skills & Feats. The rest of us will probably wait until Big Finger Games gives the product a way free as an incentive to buy other Big Finger Game PDFs.

* This Quick & Easy: SRD 3.5: Classes, Skills & Feats was first published at GameWyrd.

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