Out in the far reaches of the internet is a wonderful website called DriveThruRPG, which offers roleplaying materials from numerous systems in a variety of different formats, such as PDF and Print-On-Demand. The beautiful thing about this site is that they often seem to work in conjunction with the game developers, such as White Wolf or Alderac, to make out of print books available. For someone like me that is nursing a growing collection of roleplaying sourcebooks, this site is a dream come true.
I recently had the pleasure of making my second purchase from DriveThruRPG: Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition. Despite the availability of its successor, Vampire: The Requiem, I have long since wanted the Masquerade sourcebook to go along with a character from an old, ended campaign that I had resurrected for use in a freeform setting. Lacking the sourcebooks to really work with the character as I needed, I turned to DriveThruRPG and lo and behold they had it available as a $29.99 Watermarked PDF. While I did not doubt the quality of the offering, as my previous experience with this website resulted in the acquisition of a high-quality 7th Sea sourcebook, I was a little hesitant to spend that much on a a PDF. Especially with the promise of a Print-on-Demand version due in December 2011.
So I waited like an impatient little fangirl and though December came and went, January 2012 saw the arrival of the print version of the book. For the extremely reasonable price of $59.99, I ordered a Black & White Hardcover which included the Watermarked PDF. Shipping was a little over $10 to Canada, which is pretty reasonable considering the size and weight of the book. Within the day, my order was already sent to the printer, and three days later it was in the mail. As the book was produced in their UK facilities, the book took exactly two weeks to arrive on my doorstep. I got it this morning and after spending a bit of time looking it over, I am thoroughly impressed with the quality.
The cover is full-color and very well put together. The binding appears to be solid, and the paper in the interior is nice and thick. The ink is clear and the pictures vibrant. Because I ordered the Black & White version, the pages inside have a white border at the edges as warned on the product page. I find that this border is no issue, though some might wish that it wasn’t there. All that matters to me is that I have the information I wanted and that the book is well worth the price. So far, I have to say that it more than meets my expectations, though time will tell as to whether or not the book stands up to repeated use.
As mentioned above, the Watermarked PDF was included in my purchase. I was able to download this PDF immediately after my order was processed, and it not only included the sourcebook, but a few extra goodies that I did not expect: static and editable versions of the Neonate and Elder character sheets, which are extended versions of the standard 1-page character sheet, which is included in the book itself. The sheer convenience of having the extended character sheets as separate 4-page documents is a huge bonus. The sourcebook PDF itself is very impressive: it’s very well done and is fully searchable.
As of the writing of this article, DriveThruRPG has taken down the Print-On-Demand version of the book due to some issues they encountered in the printing process. The Black & White version was missing page 271, which has kindly been provided by White Wolf and DriveThruRPG as a free download to those of us that already purchased it. When I received my book, I simply printed out the replacement page and glued it where it was meant to go. This was no big deal to me, and the fact that the two companies involved in this are offering us free replacement copies of the entire book is a really huge bonus. That is a level of customer service almost unheard of these days and I am thoroughly impressed. It is likely that the corrected version will be made available in Print-On-Demand format very shortly – if you are at all interested in the print version of this book, I recommend waiting. It’ll be worth it.
As far as the actual contents of the book itself, that’s a topic for another article entirely. The purpose of this post was simply to detail the process and amazing customer service behind ordering the book, as well as detailing the extra goodies included with the digital component of the purchase.
[ EDIT 2012/02/16 ] The Print-On-Demand version of the book is once again available.