I took advantage of one of the recent Lulu sales to pick up the Advanced Adventures compilations (Compendium 1 and Compendium 2). They arrived at the beginning of the month, but I just now had the opportunity to page through them. They are beautiful books, and I can’t wait to use some of the adventures. I think Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom will probably be the first I run, as a prelude to Demonspore (my players have already encountered a raiding party of toad people slavers on the surface). If you’re interested in the contents of the individual adventures, Silver Blade Adventures has a nice series of reviews. I can imagine that it’s going to take a long time for me to even read all this material, much less make use of it on the gaming table. With these and the older TSR modules I have acquired recently, I have a lot to work with.
The heft of a hardcover book feels much more satisfactory than the thin saddle-stapled form of the individual modules (though I don’t like to make it obvious what module I am running and a hardcover is more difficult to hide in a gaming binder). That being said, these collections are literally just the AA modules sandwiched between hard covers. There is no table of contents. There is no index. You have to perform a sequential page search to find anything. These compilations could have become much more than the sum of their parts if they had included things like collected appendices of all the new monsters. I think this is a lost opportunity.
Books are a form of information technology. More advanced books have tables of contents, indices, lists of works cited, collected appendices of common entities, and bibliographies. Books that lack these features are not as capable. Too often, digital publishers don’t understand the technical value of these traditional features, perhaps assuming that full text search is a replacement for a human-compiled index (it’s not). Digital publishers often don’t even make use of the unique capabilities of a digital format, such as hyperlinks and internal bookmarks. I have bought Kindle books that don’t even include a table of contents. Happily, this seems to be slowly getting better (for example, the Carcosa PDF is heavily bookmarked).
Speaking of Carcosa, I wish all paper publishers would follow the lead of LotFP and include a PDF with any hardcopy purchase. It is quite useful to be able to print out individual pages for game binders and easily crop images for player handouts.
I’ve considered purchasing those hardbacks as well and I yet might, however, like you, I have a good deal of old TSR material I’d like to run my kids’ PCs through first. Thanks for the post!
Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, despite my criticisms about the missing book features such as the table of contents and index, the material is fantastic, and they are really a pretty good deal considering the price of the individual modules.
Neat. I have many of these modules, but I never considered how good an introduction to the line the compilations might be for somebody who had never picked any up. Good point about indexing and so forth, though. A missed opportunity to correct and improve the content, perhaps? I know that I have observed and pointed out numerous editing errors, so there is room for improvement.