It goes without saying, in this era of the long tail, that canny publishers with niche products know all about electronic publishing and make their wares available legally (and profitably) to those who want to throw money at them. Well, most canny publishers, that is, for Wizards of the Coast, current license holders for the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game, stopped making their back catalog of long-out-of-print adventure modules and rules supplements available for legal download several years ago for reasons they never quite explained. Perhaps they didn’t like making money — or perhaps some wrinkle in their license terms prohibited the sale of scanned .pdfs of the products.
In any event, like a lich with an intact phylactery, Wizards of the Coast couldn’t keep their archive down, and they have brought their back catalog, er, back, at dndclassics.com. According to Wired‘s GeekDad, the products have been re-scanned as well. From the one module I’ve downloaded so far, the new scans are a serious improvement over the original offerings from several years ago, which had some instances of iffy scanning.
The downloads, ranging from classic adventure modules for Basic D&D through to rulebooks for the not-so-well-regarded D&D Fourth Edition, come as watermarked .pdf files with, wonder of wonders, searchable text. The watermarking is unobtrusive, placing your name and the order number in faint, tiny lettering at the bottom left corner of each page. Prices seem reasonable, in the $5 to $7 range for D&D and First Edition AD&D modules and rulebooks around $10—and really, who needs anything else?
For a limited time, the site is offering a free download of Basic Module B1, In Search of the Unknown, so go give them a try and, if you’re of a particular age, relive some of your childhood as well.