10/15/2016

Frugal GM Review: White Box Omnibus

Frugal GM Review: White Box Omnibus
Yesterday I decided to jump on the Deal of the Day over at DriveThruRPG, picking up the White Box Omnibus for 1/2 off. It was after I picked it up I realized I don't have a copy of the White Box rules to begin with....

So for the time being I have some supplementary material for a game system I don't own. This fact is not being factored into this review.

The White Box Omnibus is a collection of previously released material bundled up with a few extras, which adds another 25 pages to this 131 page, 5.31 MB PDF. In case you already own some of Barrel Rider Games' material, the previously released stuff is:

This leaves out a few of the White Box "stuff" from Barrel Rider Games, so there might be another Omnibus on the way.

I've mentioned a few times before that when I review something I tend to give it a once-over and then go through for a proper reading. When I did my initial flip-through I didn't feel like bothering to do the proper reading. While I'm sure some of this was because I mentally confused the White Box rules with The Hero's Journey, which I do have, I was really annoyed with the PDF for the Omnibus.

Even with the sale price of $4.99 there are some basic things I expect from a PDF product, and in this regard the White Box Omnibus failed miserably. First off, the PDF is locked down with security. A lot of times this is not that big of a deal, even though I do harp on about it a lot. The thing is, with the remaining PDF issues, the security makes it so I cannot even try to fix things with my copy.

A 131 page PDF needs to be bookmarked! The table of contents is on page 4 and with six sections and an appendix spread out over the remaining 127 pages, bookmarks are desperately needed. It is a PITA to navigate a large PDF without some basic bookmarks. On my computer it isn't so bad, but on my tablet.....the computer I'd likely use this product with.....

PDF Security Issues
The PDF is sized exactly the same size as the print edition, which makes some sense until you realize the print edition is 6" x 9". This means you are basically screwed printing this out at home if you wanted to, unless you happen to have 6" x 9" paper at home or maybe have a high-end paper cutter. Now I do have the equipment I'd need and I guess I could print it out booklet style and then slice it up, but most folks don't have the equipment to do so. Printing it off to another PDF isn't an option with the security on this product.

Lastly, and this is just another annoyance more than anything, all the page number are on the lower-right corner of the page. If you did print this out that would put all the even numbered page numbers on the inside corner instead of the outside corner. My copy of The Hero's Journey has the page numbers centered so that wouldn't have been an issue.

I don't know....maybe I feel prodded by the introduction, which states: "Like what you see? Great! Don't like it? That's fine too. It's all about freedom. So please, take this volume and make it your own. Change what doesn't work for you and make it your own." I cannot do that.....

Now that my rants are a bit out of the way, and I've used far too much time/space harping on the PDF shortcomings, I do have to say that I like the content. It is obvious without having the original rule-set that the White Box is intended to be a simple and easy RPG to play. The writing in the White Box Omnibus clearly reflects this. The only criticisms I could come up with content-wise is that I wish some of the graphics had been cleaned up some. Take for example the Dyson Logos' map on page 73 or Matt Jackson's map on page 57. Both of these maps are greyscale instead of proper black & white, which makes them "muddied" a bit. 

Frugal GM 3 Star Review: White Box Omnibus
Overall I'm quite mixed about White Box Omnibus. While the content is generally good, and more importantly usable with some other OSR game systems, the formatting leaves much to be desired. Unless you want to crack the security encryption so you can add missing components you might be better off getting the print edition instead of the PDF.