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How I produced playtest hardcopies of FH8 with materials from around the house.

Started by Eric Provost, July 18, 2005, 03:55:41 PM

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Eric Provost

Ok, mostly with materials from around the house.

Here's my list of materials and tools;

My compy (my lappy to be exact)
My crappy cheap-o HP printer where color replacement ink costs more than the printer did originally
"Page Plus SE" - a free layout program
I picked up a ream of 24lb printer paper, which I think feels 100% nicer than the 20lb stuff
Some 'ivory' colored 110lb cardstock that I've had forever
A standard, black Swingline stapler.  Cheap desk-variety
An X-Acto knife with a fresh blade
A metal 12-inch ruler
A cutting board

The Work

PagePlus SE may not be the bestest layout program around but it sure as hell isn't the worst.  It's smart enough to know when I've made a potentially fatal error in my setup (like making a folded booklet with an odd number of pages) and is polite enough to fix the problem without needing to bother me about it.  I did the layout for FH8 in maybe an hour.  (okies, it's a really simple layout, but that's still not bad considering that I had to learn the software as I was producing it)

I printed the entire thing front & back on the 24lb paper, saving the cover for the 110lb cardstock.  I'm pretty happy with the 24lb paper.  I've got that one page of charts with some thick black bars on it and didn't get the ink bleed-through that I was expecting.

That 110lb cardstock is pretty much the limit of what my tiny printer can accomodate, but it makes for a schnazzy cover for FH8.  Looks pretty.

I 'bound' the whole thing by stapling front-to-back through the cover.  I could have probaby made a more attractive bind by saddle stitching, but my poor Swingline (it's my stapler...) just doesn't have the mouth for that deep of a punch.  Besides, I'm guessing that the front-to-back stapling along the edge of the cover will hold onto the pages a bit better, as each page is effectively held down in six places instead of just three.  But then, ten folded pieces of interior paper plus the cover was pretty much the limit to what the stapler could do for me.  I had to get the sucker in place before giving it a firm smack with my palm to make sure the staples would actually go all the way through.

Finally, I trimmed the suckers.  I dug out the X-Acto knife usually reserved for trimming flash from minis & models, a metal ruler that Lisa's been using for her own projects, and a cutting board from the kitchen.  I measured exactly where I wanted the trimline to be, so as not to take out any of the text from the interior (or get uncomfortably close to it) and used the ruler to keep my cut straight.

In the end, I've got 5 copies worthy of playtest.  All together, maybe 3 or 4 hours work, off and on between last night and today.  Most of that time being waiting for the printer to finish so I could flip the paper and start on the reverse side.

Maybe it's just because everyone thinks their baby is the cutest, but I really like how these little booklets turned out.  Sure, I could have just printed straight from the .doc file, but that wouldn't have fit in the hand so nicely as these.

I think I'll show off some baby pictures.  Click on the FH8 link in my sig.  I'll get to work putting up some JPEGs of them in just a minute.



Have you tried 28lb paper? It's 100% nicer than 24 lb paper for not much more. 28lb paper is equivalent to the paper thickness of most books so it makes your work look "more real".

Chris Engle
Hamster Press
Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games

Andrew Morris

If you're only printing a few, here's a trick to saddle stitch using a regular stapler. You measure from the edges about an inch or so, then poke through the paper with a thumbtack. Put an unfolded staple up to the hole, then put another hole where the other end of the staple will go. Repeat for the other side, then eyeball the one in the middle. Then you just put unused staples through and fold them by hand. Works the same, just takes more effort.

If you want to do this frequently, you might want to get some scraps of wood and build a frame for the stapler. You basically make a figure "6" out of wood. You mount the top of the stapler on the rounded part, and put the metal plate at the tip, if that makes any sense.

Of course, you can just order a long-neck stapler for about $40, if your time is worth more than your cash.
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Eric Provost

Naw, I haven't used 28lb paper.  But thanks for the tip.  I got the 24lb because I knew 20lb wasn't satisfactory and 24lb was the only other choice I had when shopping at a Super Target on a Sunday night.  :D

The thumb-tack trick for saddle-stitching sounds like something I might use.  I expect my next version of the playtest rules to be a bit thicker and my poor old stapler just can't hack it.  Time?  I've got tons of time.  Money; less so.

But good tricks none the less.


John Harper

Great thread, Eric. I love any and all "How I did X" threads. They're inspiring and practical.
Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!

Eric Provost

No problem John.  It's my pleasure.

And it was a real pleasure to have a pretty hardcopy when we did our first playtest the other night.


Jason Morningstar

He's right - they look very nice.  I got to keep one!  Next time, though - page numbers!  While I'm making demands, an index, too!

And "how to" threads are very useful. 


Quote from: jasonm on July 21, 2005, 01:24:57 PM
Next time, though - page numbers!  While I'm making demands, an index, too!

I never used to put an index in my games but this year I did and was amazed. It really ties the game together. It shows relationships between the rules (see competing arguments) and of course makes the book much more usable. Not to mention that it makes a game look more professional.

Chris Engle
Hamster Press
Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games

Eric Provost

Oh yes. 

The next version will certainly not be missing page numbers.  That had to be the hands-down biggest mistake I made was my lack of page numbers.

The index will be very helpful too.