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Night Below: An Underdark Campaign (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/08/2020 18:26:54

So first of all: I love this box set despite never finishing it in three attempts (the second act is a bit of a slog and requires some DM intervention), I still have players speak fondly of this campaign.

The Night Below is lovingly presented here in basically perfect form, none of the flaws from earlier pdf releases show here. The hardcover POD is a delight and is better printed than my original books, however the maps provide quite a difficulty in how they're split up and bound into the book so I'd recommend purchasing the PDF as well for that and the player handouts. The text is always sharp and clear with proper black levels. Just all around a nice reissue.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Night Below: An Underdark Campaign (2e)
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EX1 Dungeonland (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/08/2020 15:51:43

Mediocre POD quality, far from the worst I've see and always very legible black levels are not properly set so text appears as a midlde grey and this hurts readability, hex maps at the end haven't had white level properly set and cleaned up so they look sloppy with scan artifacts.

This feels like a step back in quality for text from the OCR'd PDF version distributed for free by WotC in the early 2000's, however part of that could be lack of contrast in the black levels. The maps in that version lack scan artifacts but are heavily compressed compromising the quality in its own way and probably for the worst. It just would have been nice to see the work put into cleaning up this module before POD publication.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
EX1 Dungeonland (1e)
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Players Handbook (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/08/2020 15:47:26

So this is referring to the Premium Hardcover version.

This is an almost perfect version of the 2012 Premium Edition, with its strengths and flaws intact. The OCR errors that have been discussed on Dragonsfoot are still here, despite being fixed in the PDF version and possibly in the standard POD. I would assume that if the change was made for the standard but not this likely due to the offset printing preparpation here, but I'd love to hear if the standard doesn't have these errors.

Error's listed at Dragonsfoot: Page 17: Halflings

"High resistance to magic spells, for every 3'/2" should read "for every 3 1/2" "See heat radiation variation at up to 607" should read "See heat radiation variation at up to 60 ft."

Page 17: Half Orcs

In the first paragraph, the bolded text - "ADVANCED DUNGEONS ft DRAGONS" should read "ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS" (The "FT" should be an "&")

Pg 26: Illusionist spell progression chart.

There should be no 5th level spell at level 9.

Page 36: Tack and Harness

"Barding, Plate 15 S.P." should read "Barding, Plate 500 G.P."

Page 37: Weight and Damage by Weapon type

"Axe, Battle: Damage to size L: 1-4" should read "Damage to Size L: 1-8"

Page 111: The minor devotion Reduction is listed as "Seduction".

Given I've seen versions with these errors go for quite a bit more in the original 2012 release, this is hardly a problem though it would have been nice to see this corrected. The other complaint common to the 2012 reprint is that the art cleanup work done was overly aggressive and removed some line details, but honestly I'd prefer this to how unpolished the art is in some scanned D&D Classics reprints. This is a pretty great set if you can be mindful of the errata.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Players Handbook (1e)
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A Paladin in Hell (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/08/2020 15:39:10

The print on demand version looks great, with sharp text with the correct black level throughout. Art looks good, maps look good, everything is great here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Paladin in Hell (2e)
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S5 The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/08/2020 15:28:38

This is a basically perfect reprint, text is sharp and looks digitally sourced, black levels are great, art looks solid, everything is basically perfect.

The PDF is also great.

The only flaw I can find is the cover art being crooked. Otherwise this is among the best of the POD reprints.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
S5 The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga (2e)
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I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/05/2020 13:08:58

This is basically perfect and sets the standard for what all of these D&D Classics products should be. It is available as a premium digital offset product, which is definitely noticable in the sheen and depth of the inks thought he increased color reproduction doesn't really show here due to the monochrome nature of the material. The scan is absolutely perfect. Everything looks great, text is sharp, black levels are great, no real artifacts or damage. The map is well reproduced and doesn't suffer at all. Everything is perfect here, it's up there with I6 and T1-4 as one of the finest POD products available in the D&D Classics line.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City (1e)
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L1 The Secret of Bone Hill (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/05/2020 13:01:15

This is an almost perfect reproduction, glad to see it is available as a premium color product and that looks quite nice with the ink having a noticable sheen and improved quality to it compared to the inkjet based standard color process, though all material is monochrome so the improved color palette isn't really noticed it.

The scan is so close to perfect it's painful, a couple of pages are crooked and have a black crooked overscan line at the top of the page from the source material being scanned at a slight angle. It's really sad this wasn't cropped or erased and the pages weren't manually checked for straightness. The maps are clean and sharp but have yellowing that would have taken seconds to correct. Everything else about this is super solid, the text is crystal clear and sharp with good black levels, it's just literally minutes of work in the preparation phase short of being perfect.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
L1 The Secret of Bone Hill (1e)
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B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/23/2020 12:56:16

Okay so first of all: the old optional brown cover PDF which has been removed is a vastly superior scan in addition to more professional editing layout changes, though I respect that the original mono color version should be preserved as an option. If I was given a choice for the POD, I would have chosen the brown cover, but regardless the mono cover desrves a better treatment than this.

The entire scan is too light, like nobody properly adjusted the gamma so black is printed is black. This is apparent in the dark parts of iamges, but also makes the text soft and fairly difficult to read on some pages (it varies page to page, but never reaches the true black of many other POD's I've received). There's a pencil mark on page 19 and page crinkles/borders at the end that should have been caught and cloned out during QC, in addition to the gamma issues. Then there's the maps. It's quite obvious the scanned copies here were in a sorry state and some effort has been made to crop around as much of it as possible, but yeesh... first of all someone's pen X's have been drawn into the version scanned and weren't bothered to be cloned out, but it all just looks so grimey and low contrast. It's frequently hard to make out what's in a room or even what the numbers are. In addition to the sloppy attempts to cover up the poor condition leaving us with big splotches of artifacts around the legend. Surely there's a copy of this accessible out there to WotC that is in better shape, or take the scan of the brown covered version and photoshop the roman numerals onto it. Or recreate the asset. This just isn't an acceptable copy of the map and is often illegible. I found a mono-cover copy on eBay for $40 with a great condition map, it's really not that rare of an asset to excuse presenting this way.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
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Forbidden Lore (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M.
Date Added: 04/22/2020 16:14:40

So to start with: when I initally bought this item, it was missing the fold-out poster map that was included in the original box set. This has now been rectified in the PDF as of 4/21/20, though I have been informed that the POD will not be updated to include it. So buy the PDF with your purchase.

Other than that, this looks great. There's no real obvious artifacts, text is always dark and legible, though falling just short of the sharpness some other classic POD's have had (I suspect this is either due to those having digital text layout or to this having been scaled in a weird way at some point), but other than that it's basically flawless. It's a shame its not printed full bleed as the white border around the black intended bleed is a bit distacting, and that would cover up the occasional crooked page, but it's a perfectly fine copy except for the missing map.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Forbidden Lore (2e)
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D&D Rules Cyclopedia (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/22/2020 15:57:17

I bought this after seeing some wonderful reviews of how good the POD quality was, and honestly I'm disappointed. I've seen claims that it is a perfect reproduction, as good as the original, and I just don't see it. I have to assume the source file was changed as some point because in photos of the POD from last year hey have the opening image as full bleed and it isn't on my copy. Text sharpness varies from perfect to quite soft from chapter to chapter, it is often quite good but then when it's not it's jarring. The yellowing of page borders is regualrly apparent from page to page, but it's not consistently there. This really should have been addressed. The pages where the scanned discoloration is heavier make the print harder to read due to the nature of inkjet printing, and it's just honestly lacking compared to many of the very high quality reproductions that are available on other products from this time. At its best, it's perfect, the consistency is just not there at all.

This is still one of the best D&D books of all time and given collector's prices for an original, it's a solid option. I just wish a little more care were given to preparing it for POD release.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
D&D Rules Cyclopedia (Basic)
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Hail the Heroes (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M.
Date Added: 04/22/2020 15:43:12

So lets start with the quality of the PDF: It's great, absolutely fantastic. While they say it's a scanned PDF (and the PDF is in fact made up of whole page image files), it's crystal sharp and flawless, I have to believe this is digitally sourced from whatever DTP software was used for the original layout. Seriously, it's great.

Now the POD version: This is one of the most disappointing POD products I've come across from the D&D Classics line. I know the "standard color printing" used here by Lightning Source has some issues with color reproduction, particlarly accurately reproducing red, but this seems to be beyond that with serious desaturation of almost every color except yellow. The TSR logo which is reproduced so well in other reprints (Swamplight for example) is almost entirely lacking red and gold is seriously off color. The deep blue of the mystara logo is light, the gold of the emblem is almost white, and the reds are pastel and faded. This is on almost every use of color throughout the entire book, and given the lovely colors I've seen from other POD products (within the limitations of the medium) this seems like it most be some kind of colorspace conversion failure on the original asset. It's a real shame that seriously mars an otherwise perfect flawless reproduction of the book.

Then you have the lack of inclusion of the audio, something they were clearly able to do for First Quest. If a quick google search finds illegal copies with mp3's of the cd, why can't the official one?



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hail the Heroes (2e)
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X6 Quagmire! (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/22/2020 15:30:02

This is a very good POD reproduction, the cover looks great (just a hair of distaction in the blue band at the top as the grain wasn't duplicated over onto the very top part that has clearly been recreated in photoshop),there's also an ink mark on the back cover which probably should have been cloned out, but these are really mild nitpicks. What you care about is inside after all: It's almost perfect. Black levels are correct, the text looks incredibly sharp and makes me wonder if its been redone digitally, art and maps look great. The one flaw for the inside is the player handout at the back, on the POD release it is quite hard to read the first few lines as it looks like the image has actually been rendered too dark, usually these problems are the opposite. But all in all it is legible with some effort (aids the experience, plus you're printing handouts from the PDF right?) and this is otherwise an absolutely reference quality reproduction of the product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
X6 Quagmire! (Basic)
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X5 Temple of Death (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/22/2020 15:22:58

This is a pretty fanastic POD product, it looks like the text has been digitally laid out at some point so all of the print is perfectly sharp and the black levels are crip and dark. The art is well reproduced, though there are several spots where the border revealing the paper quality of the original scan or other similar artifacts show through and it's a shame more time wasn't spent properly cloning those out, but at this price it's easy to forgive especially when you compare to some of the other POD offerings. The maps are well reproduced and very clear, the seam in the center from being bound into the book isn't too limiting at all. On the outer cover, the very top of the art has clearly been replaced in photoshop to cover up damage, but it hasn't been blended very well so there's a dramatic change in tone on the blue border at the top.

All in all, this book isn't a perfect reproduction but it's a very good one with great print quality and it's a very solid buy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
X5 Temple of Death (Basic)
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WG7 Castle Greyhawk (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/22/2020 15:14:51

The print on this scan is remarkably light, black is reproduced as if it was a middle grey. This is apparent on both the POD and the PDF. I can especially tell the problem is not related to printing due to the added "Notes" pages at the back having a proper deep true black. The lighter print makes the grain of the paper more obvious and can give it a very fuzzy look. Everything else about this scan is absolutely perfect with no visible artifacts, it's a real shame that such a simple fix during the file's QC was ignored.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
WG7 Castle Greyhawk (1e)
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GA2 Swamplight (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/22/2020 14:21:20

This POD copy is basically perfect with all maps readable, print is clear and sharp as if it was a digital source (I suspect that is the case for this one), everything looks fantastic.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GA2 Swamplight (2e)
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