Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Technical Review - B1: In Search of the Unknown (PDF)

I'm calling this a "technical" review because most folks that are reading this own or have played or at the very least have heard about B1: In Search of the Unknown. So, I'm not talking about the adventure, I'm talking about the PDF quality of the newly re-released B1 over at OneBookSelf / RPFNow / DnDClassics.

So, how is it?

Pretty damn good!

I don't recall much about the original scans before the purge, in the way back when WotC decided that electronic media was bad, and pirates ruled the roost except that they were frequently of poor quality. When I say poor quality, I mean poor. Muddy scans were par for the course, and many seem like they were rush jobs put out there to make a quick buck (kind of ironic, in a way, as the current PDFs are certainly being put out there to make a quick buck - edit a "quality" quick buck ;)

So I was pretty surprised at the quality of the B1 scan. Fairly crisp and definitely clean. It's also bookmarked, which I can'r recall if that was part of the first round of scans, but it is certainly appreciated.

On my 13' MacAir, readable at crisp at 100%, 125% and 150%. Slightly jagged edges apear ar 200%.

Overall, I'm pretty impressed.

Check it out yourself as it's absolutely free. I'll probably check Deities & Demigods next, as that on the pay side, and I want to make sure other 1e stuff is of similar quality scans. Then I'll move on to 2e stuff.


  1. Checking the PDF propertie, notice that it was created on 11/22/2010 using ABBYY FineReader.

    Remember that they stopped sales on April 6, 2009. Maybe they stopped selling PDFs because of crappy scans, not the piracy reason they claimed (and let's face it, the pirates are still at work). Still it seems like taking almost 4 years to rescan everything is a bit much.

  2. I wouldn't be surprised if quality control ended up being the real reason for ending the availability of pdfs back in '09. Realistically, WotC wants to maintain a high level of quality to preserve the "gamer heritage" worthiness of these products. These OCRed scans are beautifully done and preserve the feel of the original text so well that it can be hard to tell that they actually are OCRs. If it takes 4 years to develop scans of this high quality, it's four years well-spent.

    Not that I think it actually took them that long. Rather, I'd say it took WotC that long to decide whether it was a good idea and to be convinced that a GW-style "what we do now is all we do" take on brand integrity was a bad idea.

  3. OK that looks beautiful.. and more importantly.. Its bookmarked! I will admit to owning the said 'bootleg copy' of this module in pdf, only because I own the damn thing but couldn't find it in the basement. I really am excited for this because it seems that just 'maybe' WOTC is getting it.

  4. I bought a number of PDFs way, way way back in the late 90s when TSR was selling them direct. ESD program they called it, they gave you a special windows program that downloaded the file for you.

    I don't remember if they even had 1e stuff back then, the stuff I bought was all 2e (still playing it then). All the stuff I bought was bookmarked and OCRed, basically as nice as they had done with the Dragon Archive.

  5. I picked this one up along with the D&DG and it is fantastic looking! So far I am happy with all PDFs I have bought so far.

  6. This does look great. Like that they included bookmarks as well. I'm really pleased they decided to re-release the back catalog.


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