Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Deities and Demigods Returns

As I blogged earlier today (while still asleep I might add), Wizards of the Coast and OneBookShelf/RPGNow/DriveThruRPG unleashed upon the gaming world a new site: dndclassics.com. Using a customized interface for D&D fans, WotC has begun the rollout of classic D&D materials for every edition in PDF form. These are brand new scans: with bookmarks and internal hyperlinking. Of the batch that was in the free reviewer downloads, one PDF stood out for me: Deities & Demigods for AD&D. This book was my one gamer's regret. I had a copy of the first printing (with the Cthulhu Mythos and Elric stuff), but I had to sell it during my college years to help offset the ridiculous price of textbooks.

I've missed that book and it is one of the treasures of gaming, which of course means that it is horribly expensive to try to recover (if someone has a copy that they want to let go of).

This brings me to the new Deities and Demigods PDF on the dndclassics.com site. I'll just get this bit right out of the way. For those who were hoping that this PDF would be a scan of that original book, it is not. This PDF is a scan of the second printing, after the "offending" material was removed for copyright reasons. I'm not holding that fact against OBS or Wizards of the Coast, because they really did have the rights to publish. I'm a little sad, but that's OK with me.

This PDF is so much prettier than the ones that were previously offered. Scanning technology has advanced a lot in the years since these materials were last available, and this PDF shows that. The Deities & Demigods book is fully bookmarked and it has a hyperlinked table of contents. It is also fully OCRed and allows for copying and pasting of text out of the PDF and into your own documents. I consider this to be a big win. The quality of the scanning is good too. I printed a page to see how it would look, and the quality was pretty good. Yes, you can print your PDFs.

Unfortunately, the dndclassics.com site will not offer POD versions of these books. I think that is a mis-step, even if Wizards is doing that to make retailers happy. Retailers could easily set up an affiliate site of their own and take a cut of the sales. Not that many retailers would probably do that. Anyway, I understand why they aren't doing POD, but I think they are sticking to an antiquated sales mode. This is meant as a pseudo review, so I won't get into that tangent.

The PDF isn't cheap. Deities & Demigods costs $9.99 to purchase, that is however a lot cheaper than what you'll find on eBay or online retailers, if they have a copy. I would like to see the price drop to maybe $4.99 across the board for the early edition stuff, but the market will take what it takes. This PDF is worth the ticket price. The scanning is good, the bookmarks work and the hyperlinks definitely help. This book (with or without the Cthulhu & Elric material) is the definitive book on deities for your AD&D games, and if you do not have it you really should get yourself a copy of it.