4/03/2015

Frugal GM Review: Inked Adventures Arcane Library

Frugal GM Review: Inked Adventures Arcane Library
I had a specific review planned for today when I got a message from Billiam Babble about his new Inked Adventures tileset the Arcane Library.

Some of you might be able to remember back to last December when I reviewed his Inked Adventures Blocks set and I really wanted a line art version that was a bit more Frugal with the ink. Back then I screwed around with the files some and made my own before deciding I hated doing the coloring in by hand.

This time around the tiles come in two versions.....well technically four versions, but I'll get to that. The main variations are a full color set and the line art set. Even though I got a brand-spanking-new awesome color printer last week, I'm focusing this review on the line-art version because that the was primary reason I got this product.

Right off the bat it is apparent that Will put some thought into this line-art version even though it may not seem readily apparent. If you look too closely at the PDF (like you view it on-screen at 200%) you'll see a lot of fine lines, mostly from the grid paper scanning in. Since there is deep-black edging you know that he tweaked this in Photoshop or the like. My 1st reaction, had I been doing this, would have been to tweak things to remove these fine lines, but that would have either washed out his drawings or ended up making everything much more uniform. It's hard to describe, but since I've actually done this when screwing around with his last product, I know that you loose something in the process.

Of course this is all really a moot point since those finer lines don't show up when printed....and even if they did, which they didn't, Will drew this to fricken scale, so they'd end up serving as 1' increments.

This product is organized as a series of PDFs instead of a single large PDF, which is good for several reasons. 1st you have the sets organized by native print size, A4 or US Letter. No having to tweak print settings and get your scale off. Just choose the correct file and print at 100%. Next the files are organized by "Colour" and "Line Art" (you funny Brits and your English). In those folders you have your four PDFs, one each for the main Library, the large Bookish Hallway, Door Counters & Connectors, and finally your Small Rooms.

I printed up a full set with an extra Bookish Hallway and even though my toner was low on the old B&W printer I had absolutely no problems, at least with the printing part. Evidently there is some sort of shelf-life on my self-stick foam core because my tiles won't stay down.....

One full printing of the set
One full set

...which is not a problem with the tiles at all. I'm mentioning this for general use and because, in retrospect, I wish I hadn't used foam core at all. I'll get into why in a bit. I will say these pictures don't do the set full justice for two reasons. The 1st is the peeling. I can see it clearly in the photo above. The 2nd is because I used (in this case wasted) my good lamination, which reflects some of the light and dulls the tiles in photos. You can seen how much darker the un-laminated doors and connectors look.

Opened & Closed Doors
Speaking of doors and connectors, I really liked the ones Will put in this set. There are two different types and sizes of connectors, 10' wide and 5' wide with two wall patterns. Likewise there are 10' doors and 5' doors. The door tiles are made to be folded in half, with one side being open and the other shut. I really like the way the door tiles work.

I'm still having some issues with the connectors in-use. Now a good portion of this is clearly the fact that I mounted these tiles to foam core, which
Trying to use the connectors
just got in the way. I didn't mount the connectors, which made things work out great where two tiles come together with essentially 1/2 square-sized walls. The connector easily covers that space and looks good. Where it doesn't work out well is where there isn't those two walls, like on the side "wings" of the Bookish Hallway.

All morning I'd been trying to get my head around how to make this work and literally as I'm typing this I think I finally got it. I think, and will recommend to Will, that he change that one page. Normally I'd say as a user to essentially just cut 1/2 of a tile off of each of those little 5' sections, but I also recalled a bit of bother when trying to cut out the Bookish Hallway, at least onto foam core.

Tweak I'd make
That little inside right angle was a pain to cut out worth a damn. Now it looks like if I just sliced down the edging I'd cut the 5' hallway in half, but I'm honestly not sure. If it does, then this is a super-easy fix for those of you wanting to use foam core like me. All you have to do is butt the two tiles together and slap a connector piece down.

The pieces aren't going to join seamlessly because of the hand-drawn nature of the tiles and the natural variations created when cutting things out, but it is close enough and the general coolness of the hand-drawn look adds a lot to the overall effect.

Frugal GM 5 Star Review: Inked Adventures Arcane Library
I really like this tile set and the introduction of a line-art version of these tiles is fricken outstanding. I like this so much better than grey-scale and I may even like it better than the colored tiles. You might not get a lot of mileage out of the main library, but the small rooms, hallway, and doors could easily become a workhorse for anyone who uses these kinds of tiles. I highly recommend this tile set! Just don't use older self-stick foam core!

At least printing off a new set will set me back less than a buck in supplies....