A while back, Verhaden had a post up that began thus:

For a while, there has been a lot of talk on various forums and blogs about the usefulness of having a RPG system in booklet format. The discussion seems centered around utility and a certain rules-light-DIY philosophy, tinged only a bit by nostalgia and novelty. I can see the appeal of having books you can print out at home, keep in a small Munchkin-sized box, and store in your glove box or something for in-promtu gaming purposes. It sure as hell beats lugging around three 400 page hardback books.

Kilgore's WhiteBox

Kilgore's WhiteBox

I strongly prefer digest-sized booklets for game use. Yes, there’s certainly some nostalgia there (though I must admit mine is for the black LBBs of Traveller rather than the brown LBBs of OD&D), but I find them easier to use and keep behind the screen while playing.

And, come on, isn’t the nostalgia+utility factor one of the driving ones behind the “old-school renaissance”?

I’ve printed up my Labyrinth Lord PDF digest-sized and used comb binding. I’d prefer coil over comb but a comb punch is available at work. Either one lies nice and flat when open, even with higher page counts than anyone’s LBBs.

I’ve also used digest-sized comb-binding for my Swords & Wizardry White Box rules. My long term plan for S&W is to assemble myself a customized White Box book incorporating all of my house rules plus monsters from the Monster Book.

I print my booklets using Clickbook by BlueSquirrel. It’s got a lot of printing options and allows me to easily combine different formats into one booklet (or other size/style) as needed. It manages the two-sided printing, working with both duplex and standard printers to get your pages sorted and printed as needed. However, it is not free. At $50 it’s not a killer, but if it’s only going to be used a few times it’s probably tough to justify the expense.

A free option is You select a PDF to upload and it sends you back a new PDF with the pages ordered for booklet printing. This leaves you to print the odd-numbered pages, get it back into your printer correctly, and print the even-half in reverse. Though I always seem to need at least two tries at this, the price (free) is right if only a few booklets are going to be printed. I ran up a couple of copies of Dungeonslayers as a test of the service and it worked great. (Just make sure to select “Letter” as your Result Sheet Size for digest booklets.)

[UPDATE: I also think there’s a booklet option in recent versions of Adobe Acrobat. I use Foxit, so I’m not sure about it or how it works.]

Another route for limited printing, of course, would be to go down to Staples or Kinkos and get it done there. It’s not free, but the price might be worth the saved hassle. Plus they’ve got a number of binding options available.

Bat, meanwhile, has a nifty little carrier that just begs for digest-sized booklets. I may have to look into something like that.

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8 Responses to Booklets

  1. Jeff Rients says:

    Yeah, Adobe’s booklet printing feature makes it a snap to create a booklet. I just bought a longarm stapler. Wednesday night I made ten homemade copies of Encounter Critical to give away to people.

  2. KenHR says:

    I’ve just finished up my customized Traveller Book 1 booklets for my new group (who’ve never played the game). They incorporate my massive slate of house rules, new careers, stuff from later supplements, etc. in 52 digest-sized pages. Laid it out in Word using booklet format, converted to pdf and printed from there. Work has a high-speed paper folding machine, which saves lots of time and swearing. I don’t have a longarm stapler yet; currently I use a tiny finishing nail to make holes for heavy duty staples I place by hand (they’re basically cut-down and bent paperclips…much more robust than staples!).

    I’m hoping to get my custom Books 2 and 3, along with my subsector setting booklet, done by the time of our first session.

    Much love for digest-sized booklets!

    • Kilgore says:

      That’s funny that you mention your house-ruled Traveller. Several years back I started on a project of making my own Classic Traveller book using mostly LBB rules but with some house rules and Mayday/Snapshot combat rules. I used a scanner and OCR to get a starting point, but I only got about half-way through scanning Book 2 before I gave up on the project. I also used Word for layout (except for a few big tables which I used Excel for), and what I had looked almost identical to the published product.

      I’ll have to go take a look at those files. That must have been at least five years ago.

      I use the comb-binding machine at work to punch my booklets, but I’m jealous of your paper folding machine.

      • KenHR says:

        I did the hand-scan w/OCR a few years back to make an LBB1 for a friend in my game at the time. These days, the FFE CD-ROMs are a massive time-saver (some of the OCRing is dodgy, but 90% gets cleaned up on a simple spell check).

  3. bat says:

    Small Munchkin sized box! That sounds like a crack at my obssession for packing around S&W Core and White Box in that little carrier that I posted a picture of on the S&W forum.

    I keep telling everyone: the more we pester Brave Halfling the closer I we get to having official little digest books to dance around with.

  4. Zulgyan says:

    Thos post is bookmarked for the near future.

  5. bulette says:

    I’ve envied your comb bound S&W from the day I first saw it. Wah! Ditto me on those little black Traveller books from way back. I remember traveling in Canada one summer break and how convenient they were for it.

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