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DriveThruRPG Print on Demand Review

The Dungeons and Dragons Rules Cyclopedia and Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn print on demand books.

A package arrived for me the other day. It contained my hardcover print-on-demand copy of Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn from DriveThruRPG. This was the second POD that I had ordered from DriveThruRPG. Before the first Character Creation Challenge, I had ordered a POD of the Dungeons and Dragons Rule Cyclopedia hoping that I could use it in the challenge. It had arrived too late for that event, but it made me realize that I could use the POD options to obtain books that I’ve been wanting to add to my collection. While PDFs are good for reference and quick searching, I still like the feel of a book in my hands. Especially when I’m learning a new system or wanting to recall reading the books for the first time. While I had my own copies of the BECMI Red Box books, I’ve been wanting a copy of the Rules Cyclopedia. Star Frontiers was one of those games that my group of gaming friends wanted to play when it first came out, but for one reason or another, we never got the opportunity to do so. With the credits that I had been building up from DriveThruRPG (thank you) I thought I’d pick up a POD for me to enjoy.

Another thought hit me as I was opening the package, I should write a review of the POD copies that came from DTRPG. So I took some pictures and decided to write down my thoughts. This will be a review of the POD, not a review of the games themselves (which will be handled in a later blog post).

Ordering the books was pretty easy in both cases. Go to the entry on the website and see the options available. Just keep in mind that there is a charge for shipping as well. I don’t recall how long the Dungeons and Dragons book took to arrive (I had ordered at the tail end of the holiday season which is probably the worst time to try to get things by mail), but the Star Frontiers book arrived in ten days after ordering. Both books were printed in Tennessee. A USPS tracking number was provided in both cases.

Both books were packaged very well. The container the D&D book did get a little roughed up in transit, but the book itself was just fine. There was no damage to the container that the SF book arrived in.

Top views of the bindings for both books.

As you can see, the bindings for both books look pretty solid. The covers are not attached directly to the prints themselves which has allowed for repeated book opening. While I haven’t had a chance to go through the Star Frontiers book, I have had several sessions where I’ve sat down to read chapters in the Rule Cyclopedia and I cannot see any additional wear from these readings.

View of the spines.

As you can see from the earlier picture, the covers are pretty sharp. The back image on the Star Frontiers book does slightly bleed onto the spine. The Rules Cyclopedia front and back cover appear to be the same as the original publication. As for Star Frontiers, it appears that “The Original” was added to the top of both covers. Another note on the Star Frontiers, book, they did not change the wording of the description on the back. So the hardbound book talks about how “the box set includes…”. Since they had slightly changed the cover, I’m surprised that they didn’t change the description. But it was an interesting read to see what the original box set stated.

A colored map in the Star Frontiers book.
The Grand Duchy of Karameikos map in the Rules Cyclopedia.

Considering these prints are from a scan of the original books, they came out sharp in the publication. The colors stood out just fine (as seen by the photos above). There were a few pages that contained blue text in the Star Frontiers book (which I believe was the same in the original book). The art printed out OK as well. Again, for a scan, these came out readable and usable. Nothing extra blurry or hard to read.

Now that I own Star Frontiers, I’ll be able to use it in the 2023 Character Creation Challenge. I don’t know if I’ll ever get a chance to play it, but I can at least read and understand one of the classic games that I saw advertised early in my RPG days. I’m also planning to pick up a few more POD books that I’d like to have dead tree versions of without having to pay expensive collector prices for.

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