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Blood Hunter Class for D&D 5e (2020)
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Blood Hunter Class for D&D 5e (2020)

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Blood Hunter - A Martial Class for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons

Often feared or misunderstood, and driven by an unending drive to destroy the wicked, blood hunters are clever, arcane warriors who have bound their essence to the dark creatures they hunt to better stalk and survive their prey. Armed with the rites of forbidden blood magic and a willingness to sacrifice their own vitality and humanity for the cause, they protect the realms from the shadows, ever vigilant to avoid becoming the same monsters they choose to hunt.

Harnessing the dark abilities granted by the use of hemocraft blood magic to enhance their combat prowess, these warriors hunt the wicked with blade and curse, sacrificing their own vitality to gain the upper hand and bring their quarry down.

This includes the Order of the Ghostslayer, Order of the Profane Soul, Order of the Mutant, and Order of the Lycan archetypes for the Blood Hunter class.


Author's Note:
This was my first homebrew class waaaaay back before DMs Guild first started, and I had a LOT to learn. Originally spawned as a handful of variant abilities I designed for Vin Diesel guesting on my D&Diesel one-shot to promote his film "The Last Witch Hunter" (in which I was given no context for his character other than the trailer), the internet was loudly requesting me to release what class he played. Needing to heavily expand upon those small features, I cobbled together my first attempt at this class with meager design experience and tossed it to the internet with a wince. A handful of years of iterations, and incredible amounts of very well-thought out feedback from the web later, I've learned so much more about fun design and balance... and I wanted to take a crack at redesigning this class from the ground up.

Deep consideration brought me to shift the secondary ability score focus from Wisdom to Intelligence, as the hemocraft magic was more arcane in nature, and there was little representation for an Intelligence-based martial class. Along with this came many changes to improve the ease of tracking abilities like the Crimson Rite, while adding some new features and utility to the class and its Orders (including the Brand of Castigation). Massive rebalancing has been applied throughout the class, and each Order eventually receives its own unique Blood Curse, as well as a unique modification to their Brand.

While the first release of any new design will have its problems, I feel much more confident about the direction of this class and its place in my games and world. I hope you enjoy this newly fashioned, improved release of the Blood Hunter! 

-Matthew Mercer


(P.S. If you would still prefer to use the older version, you are certainly welcome to do so! You can find it HERE)

 
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Reviews (24)
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Customer avatar
Davide D September 11, 2021 7:13 am UTC
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I've had the chance to read reviews and thoughts, this is my idea around this amazing class.

1) The biggest issue I've got is INT replacing WIS to calculate DC and having INT as saving throws.
I'm a practical person. INT saves are absolutely situational and let's face it, be proficient does't mean automatic success. Hence the only few times an INT save comes up you might even fail it...
This is the way 5e has been designed, INT is useless unless you are a wizard plain and simple.

DEX on the other hand is very useful. However "IN MY OPINION" Having saving throws WIS and CON would be more appropriate both thematically and mechanically.

2) This idea that low INT means stupid characters is absolutely wrong!
INT= Book smart, good memory, high amount of knowledge;
WIS=Wise, Street smart, Calm and collected, emotions under control (which could be argued that to be charisma, as strong will)
CHA= Emotionally smart, silver tongue, able to...See more
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Michael W September 11, 2021 10:05 pm UTC
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1) Int isn't useless if you want to be a skill monkey as 5/17 skills are Int based (the same number as Wis based skills); it's also useful if you're playing an Artificer and is somewhat useful if you're playing an Arcane Trickster or Eldritch Knight.

Additionally part of the reason you now have Dex saves is due to all the classes being designed to have one "common" save proficiency (Dex/Con/Wis) and one "uncommon" save proficiency (Str/Int/Cha), which is why giving this class Wis + Con is a bad idea as it breaks the balance (more than this already does). Given there's 65 spells that require Dex saves and 11 that require Int saves it's a stronger combo (76) to have than the older Str (21 saves)/Wis (52 saves) combo (73).

2) According to the PHB Intelligence measures "mental acuity, information recall, analytical skill" and Wisdom measures "awareness, intuition, insight" so a low Int character might be very aware and able to read people (high Wis)...See more
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Richard M May 29, 2021 8:56 pm UTC
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So I've having some trouble with a player with Brand of Castigation. It seems hideously overpowered: once you hit (no action required) you can choose to brand a target, then you "always know its direction"..."lasting until you dismiss it or brand another".

So if you choose: it never expires? Not even after a long rest? Short rest? Incapacitated? 1000 years pass? You die?!

You can't brand another until you finish a rest, but it doesn't specify if the old brand still lasts. I think it should expire when you start a long rest, but as written, the only way to rid it is to dispel it, and it's not necessarily clear if Detect Magic would even detect it?
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Michael W May 30, 2021 4:02 am UTC
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This is something I highlighted in my review from last year; it also has no range limit either so since you can apply Crimson Rite to a ranged weapon you can activate the brand from up to 600ft away and the lack of a range limit means even if they hop to another plane you still know where they are.

Considering what gets stacked on top of this at later levels, such as the Brand of Tethering feature that deals damage the target can't save against as well as prevents teleporting/plane-shifting/dashing/etc and the subclass-specific brand improvement, the Brand of Castigation is one of the big balance issues for this class.
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David E August 26, 2021 3:46 pm UTC
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"Your brand lasts until you dismiss it, or you apply a brand to another creature." So if you use it again it goes away on the previous target. You could keep it on one target for a long time to know their direction, but that would mean sacrificing the combat damage (and later the mobility limitations you impose when you get the Brand of Tethering) for all combats you are currently facing. That seems like a fair tradeoff to me. Plus, if you're worried about the implications for your BBEG, Dispel Magic is absolutely a reasonable solution for any intelligent creature. And as for Detect Magic, I suppose that would be up to the DM, but I would rule that if Dispel Magic works, Detect Magic definitely works.
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Michael W August 26, 2021 9:38 pm UTC
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The brand can be used on one target as an infinite range, infinite duration (including across planes) version of Hunter's Mark and Locate Creature (a spell not gained until a level after the brand is); one that only gets better as you level (the aforementioned damage-before-save effect and movement penalties) and recharges on a short rest meaning you'll always have it ready unless you're using it.

Not every BBEG is capable of casting magic, or if they are they're not always capable of casting Dispel Magic (especially because this eventually becomes equivalent to a 9th level spell); additionally because it's not stated that Detect Magic will detect it the target isn't aware it's branded, it also doesn't get suppressed by an Antimagic Field either even though Dispel Magic works on it since that's not stated either.

Plus against unintelligent creatures that rely on melee attacks the brand is a nightmare they can't remove and it kills them to attack the front line of the party since they...See more
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Nick L February 24, 2021 10:25 am UTC
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Are there plans to update profane soul with stuff for the new patrons from Tasha's?
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Reinhardt F February 12, 2021 1:45 am UTC
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Are there any plans to introduce new archetypes?
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Eli N December 30, 2020 11:46 am UTC
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For Order of the Profane Soul, do you get just the spells from the warlock spell list, or do you also get the pact spells for whichever you make your pact with?
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January 16, 2021 3:52 am UTC
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You only gain access to spells from the warlock spell list.
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December 18, 2020 7:01 am UTC
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Are there any plans to incorporate the new warlock patrons and fighting styles from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything into the Blood Hunter?
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Brian K November 13, 2020 8:05 pm UTC
I've got a question regarding the usage of ranged weapons on a bloodhunter.
How does this work in combination with the crimson rites?
Does the rite transfer to ammunition?

One of my players wants to play a ranged bloodhunter and even after reading the documentation multiple times, we're still not sure how this works.
Could someone please explain this concept?
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Nick O November 13, 2020 8:17 pm UTC
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Short answer, the ammunition does the rite damage.

Here's a thread with more detail
https://www.dndbeyond.com/forums/dungeons-dragons-discussion/rules-game-mechanics/16571-does-crimson-rites-apply-to-ranged-weapon
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Michael W November 13, 2020 10:17 pm UTC
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The Crimson Rite is applied to the weapon, in a similar fashion to an enchanted bow the ammunition deals the usual damage for the weapon plus the Rite damage. This also means when they get to 6th level they can use their Brand feature at the full range of their weapon (up to 600 feet!).

Be wary on what subclass they pick, if they go Ghostslayer you'll encounter the same head-scratching with their 7th level feature where they can occupy two planes simultaneously!
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Brian K November 17, 2020 9:00 pm UTC
Thanks guys! Both answers helped very much! :D
In this case it was going to be for an order of the mutant subclass, but was still struggling.
Thanks for the enlightenment!
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Aleksa A November 05, 2020 2:32 am UTC
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I have to say after finally revisiting Order of the Lycanthrope, I find that it's a lot worse than it used to be. Not because it's weaker, but because it removes the debuffs. I know it doesn't make sense, but the whole fun of Blood Hunter was how you would gain power at a cost, and removing the silver vulnerability and dropping the Wisdom Saves for holding back your inner beast to such a low number honestly removes the fun of playing that class.
Of course, I know I can always go back to the earlier editions, but I say this because I would really love to see this class as a whole further explored for the risk/reward class that it is in future updates.
I'm a big fan of the Mutagen upgrades, though. It's a lot simpler to play, but I think it lends itself to 5e a lot better than previously, and the drawbacks and strengths are considerably improved. Makes it a LOT more fun to juggle.
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Michael W November 05, 2020 7:06 pm UTC
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Here's where I might get in trouble, but if you're looking for something like the Order of the Lycan but with that power at a cost element still there, have a look at this: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/304790/Lycanthrope-Class-for-DD-5e-2020
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Paul A October 19, 2020 2:58 am UTC
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I made a Blood Hunter (Order of the Lycan) that's a Malarite. I'm very excited!!
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Nathan Z September 28, 2020 7:23 pm UTC
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I really need the new Warlock patrons added to the profane soul subclass
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Thomas W July 06, 2020 2:21 pm UTC
I just want to know why Blood Curse Mutual Suffering was removed, that was the best one.
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David E July 17, 2020 1:37 pm UTC
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I agree. It was definitely my favorite. I think overall the Blood Maledicts are a lot better (stronger, more thematically appropriate) now than they were, but I miss Mutual Suffering. I believe Matt indicated that he does have plans for it, though, so hopefully we'll get a version of it back in a future update.
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Travis V June 27, 2020 10:30 pm UTC
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I absolutely adore most of the changes to this class. The flavor feels pretty spot on now. I also really like how the changes to order of the lycan.

The only disappointing thing is the damage nerf to claws later on. Generally dual wielding (or equivalent) is very weak later on, and if you're using claws you're missing out on fancier weapon properties of powerful weapons like the Flame Tongue. Not sure why this needed a nerf, but at least you can always choose to use magic weapons instead.
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Michael W June 28, 2020 12:47 pm UTC
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I'd hardly call the claws "nerfed" when you're out-damaging the monk up to 5th level because of a larger damage die and then still doing it thanks to Feral Might until 17th level. Also with the way it's worded you can use your first attack with a weapon, then unarmed strike, and then bonus action unarmed strike; not to mention both weapon and your unarmed strikes can get the bonus damage from Crimson Right (which likely means you're out-damaging the monk even beyond 17th level), and the entire time you're doing that you've also got resistance and an AC boost to your armour.

Safe to say if the claws were stronger it'd be even more poorly balanced.
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Travis V June 28, 2020 5:42 pm UTC
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I wouldn't call it poorly balanced. As it is, the damage comes out "Alright" compared to fighters, paladins, and barbarians. It's better than monk, for sure. The problem is that monk is poorly balanced to begin with. Almost everyone who runs math on 5e agrees monk has the lowest damage output of the martial classes, so I wouldn't generally balance classes toward monk.

Even Wizards seems to acknowledge this, as both the Way of the Astral Soul and the Way of Mercy in their latest UAs offer MUCH larger damage bumps than previous monk subclasses.

Still, a loss isn't a big deal. ~3 damage a turn isn't going to make or break the subclass, it was just a fun thing to look forward to.
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Michael W June 28, 2020 8:56 pm UTC
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I wasn't balancing it towards monk, but showing how it outshines that class. Astral Monk is horridly balanced too, you can throw more d10s than a fighter can at next to no cost on your turn with that subclass; makes an excellent proxy for a Stand User though. I wouldn't say Monk is intended as a DPT class though, more a harasser/disabler thanks to the ability to easily stun/escape enemies.

The Lycan though turns all the weapons you wield into budget +3 magic weapons as well as making your unarmed strikes +3 magic weapons, gives you an AC bonus that stacks with armour, resistance like a barbarian, and you can couple all that with increased damage from Crimson Rite. Hell you'll be pulling more damage than a Barbarian whilst practically copying the Barbarian's main class feature (but still allowing you to concentrate and use magic). There's a lot more wrong with it besides this too.
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Travis V June 29, 2020 1:37 am UTC
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I don't really like arguing on the internet, so I'll just say agree to disagree. I don't think any of the math bears out here that Order of the Lycan's damage is "overpowered". I did math on all of the classes, sans feats, and Order of the Lycan's claws come out on bottom (equivalent to monk). Here's the data, if anyone's curious.

It's from level 18 when all classes get their final damage bumps besides capstone, uses +3 weapons for everyone as a baseline, and uses a 70% accuracy rate (attacking AC 21). It uses the old Bloodhunter claw damage of 1d10.

Bloodhunter (Lycan, using Claws)
Formula: (1d10 Claw + 1d10 Rite + 5 DEX + 3 Feral Might) x 3 attacks
Resolved: ((5.5+5.5+5+3)*0.7)*3 = 39.9 damage/turn

Barbarian (Berserker, NOT BERSERKING, only using Retaliation)
Formula: (1d12 greataxe +5 STR +4 Rage +3 Weapon) x3 + Brutal Critical 1/20 Chance x3
Resolved: ((6.5+5+4+3)*0.7)*3+(0.05*(6.5*3))*3 = 41.8 damage/turn

Barbarian (Zealot) ...See more
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Nick O June 29, 2020 1:47 am UTC
Hell yeah, gimme that DATA
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Michael W June 29, 2020 2:41 pm UTC
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For the Blood Hunter example you've neglected the ability to run using both claws and a weapon (same for the Monk, not sure why the accuracy is down there either).

Bloodhunter (Lycan, using Greatsword + GWF + Claws)
Formula: (2d6 Greatsword+3 + 1d10 Rite + 5 STR + 3 Feral Might) + ((1d8 Claw + 1d10 Rite + 5 STR + 3 Feral Might) x 2)
Resolved: ((8.33+3+5.5+5+3)*0.7)+(((5.5+5.5+5+3)*0.7)*2) = 43.981 damage/turn

Bloodhunter (Lycan, using Greataxe + GWF + Claws)
Formula: (1d12 Greataxe+3 + 1d10 Rite + 5 STR + 3 Feral Might) + ((1d8 Claw + 1d10 Rite + 5 STR + 3 Feral Might) x 2)
Resolved: ((7.33+3+5.5+5+3)*0.7)+(((5.5+5.5+5+3)*0.7)*2) = 43.281 damage/turn

So you're exceeding the damage of the Berserker Barbarian and exceeding the other, all whilst getting the same benefits as rage but with higher AC, the ability to cast spells and it can last much longer (hours vs minutes). Hell you're even matching a Hasted Paladin too and the only thing it's cost you...See more
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Michael W June 29, 2020 2:52 pm UTC
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Bloodhunter (Lycan, using Greatsword + GWF + Claws)
Formula: (2d6 Greatsword+3 + 1d10 Rite + 5 STR + 3 Feral Might) + ((1d8 Claw + 1d10 Rite + 5 STR + 3 Feral Might) x 2)
Resolved: ((8.33+3+5.5+5+3)*0.7)+(((4.5+5.5+5+3)*0.7)*2) = 42.581 damage/turn

Bloodhunter (Lycan, using Greataxe + GWF + Claws)
Formula: (1d12 Greataxe+3 + 1d10 Rite + 5 STR + 3 Feral Might) + ((1d8 Claw + 1d10 Rite + 5 STR + 3 Feral Might) x 2)
Resolved: ((7.33+3+5.5+5+3)*0.7)+(((4.5+5.5+5+3)*0.7)*2) = 41.181 damage/turn

Bloodhunter (Lycan with Str 20 and Int 20, using Greatsword + GWF + Claws, Brand of the Voracious gives advantage so accuracy is now 0.84)
Formula: (2d6 Greatsword+3 + 1d10 Rite + 5 STR + 3 Feral Might) + ((1d8 Claw + 1d10 Rite + 5 STR + 3 Feral Might) x 2) + (Brand of Castigation/Tethering x 2)
Resolved: ((8.33+3+5.5+5+3)*0.84)+(((4.5+5.5+5+3)*0.84)*2)+(10*2) = 71.0972 damage/turn

Bloodhunter (Lycan with Str 20 and Int 20, using Greatsword + GWF + Claws,...See more
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Michael W June 29, 2020 3:45 pm UTC
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On a final note as I just had a thought, even without the brand in that last example you're matching the damage of practically all those classes (against AC21 as with your examples it's 41.3 DPT without the brand) but the real kicker is that your AC is insane too. If you're assuming +3 gear then you're stacking: Studded Leather+3, a Shield +3, +5 from Dex and +1 AC from Hybrid form = 24 AC. The shield doesn't stop you from using your Predatory Strikes as they're just unarmed strikes (so kicks and bites work), so you're putting out damage that's only 0.5 less than a Barbarian but with much greater defence, as the Barbarian's AC is 18 (Unarmoured Defence Dex 16 + Con 20) with a great weapon. Same with the Fighter and the Paladin, both with Plate+3 would have an AC of 21; if either of these swap to Sword+Board instead of great weapons then their DPT drops below that of the Lycan Blood Hunter.
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Rian M June 30, 2020 3:00 pm UTC
I have yet to look over all the numbers, but I would like to point out that no one here has mentioned that Order of the Lycan is the only subclass in all of 5e to give the player vulnerability. This means, against a smart villain, you will drop faster than most other classes. Your crimson rite reducing your max HP, CON likely being your third highest stat (so it's unlikely to be terribly high, especially when using standard array), and the fact that you're always up front and personal. It basically turns you into a glass cannon.
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Michael W July 01, 2020 2:08 am UTC
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The Order of the Lycan doesn't give the player Vulnerability any more, besides that there's not anything in the MM that has silvered weapons so it'd only come up if the DM specifically tailored enemies to damage the Lycan of the group. In the event they had silver weapons you could (if you focused Dexterity like you can) just sit in the back with a Rite-d ranged weapon and take them out, or simply not use the Hybrid transformation to avoid the vulnerability (since it only used to apply when transformed not all the time).
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Travis V July 02, 2020 6:47 pm UTC
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The other numbers are all kind of fluid once you get GWM, reckless attack, polearm master, etc and all the feats in. I've definitely had a Fighter/Barbarian in our group cracking damage even higher than this on a regular basis, and single class paladins.

But the one thing I think can agree on is the AC is too high, and the Brand probably offers too much right now. Due to this mimicking Monk, I never even thought about strapping a shield on while still making claw attacks. Bleh. That both just looks silly and gives you a pretty crazy AC while using a "1 handed" weapon. And almost every "retributive damage" effect in the game right now either requires your reaction, occurs 1/turn, or the damage is VERY low (like the Battlerager's 3 pts of piercing damage).
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Michael W July 02, 2020 9:30 pm UTC
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With feats that GWM and Sharpshooter it actually works out with lower damage on average due to hitting less, and even with others they'll hardly compare to the Rapier+Shield+Dueling Lycan that's hitting 1d8+8+1d10 on hits (1d8+10+1d10 for the rapier) every turn after a one-time cost that can be recouped by 1st level cast of cure wounds (on average) as well as rocking resistance and AC 19 that's better than plate without any magic items.

So yeah, we can agree on the AC being borked and thus the balance trade-off most classes have to do between DPT and AC is also borked; as for retributive damage most also that aren't super minimal let the target take a save against it rather than taking damage and then saving or simply not getting a save like the Brand does.
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Layton S June 09, 2020 2:18 pm UTC
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One of my criticisms thus far is that while the Path of The Mutant does feel sufficiently "Witcher-Esque" I find the number of Mutagens they are given access to and able to prepare absolutely horrendous, at the very least it should line up with a wizards level 1 spell slot progression, or they should be able to prepare an amount up to their level or something of the sort. Like the class a lot though!
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Michael W June 09, 2020 2:42 pm UTC
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Played right those mutagens can break balance even when you use point buy for characters. 20 Str, Dex, or Con at 3rd level is insane since no one else can scrape higher than 17; getting even worse at 8th when you can have 24 Str, Dex, or Con with nary a significant drawback. Having 24 Str at 8th level means you're potentially stronger than everyone else in the game until the Barb hits 20th level and can match you.

It's likely the fact that they can be so game breaking that you only get 3 at most.
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Matthew C May 18, 2020 9:02 pm UTC
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So, I run a campaign in a sort of modern/sci-fantasy setting. Mostly, it resembles your typical fantasy setting, but modern tech appears every once in a while, and there's one faction in particular that's essentially a 'modern'/'futuristic' civilization (and a lot of the setting is about the interactions with this modern civilization and the more traditional fantasy civs).
I'm wondering, what would you suggest (mechanically and/or flavor-wise) for a modern/sci-fi blood hunter? Maybe a cyborg or something? What do you think?
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Nick O May 18, 2020 9:31 pm UTC
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I'm thinking biomechanical enhancements. They had a chip or some other kind of hardware surgically implanted in their brain/sounds/etc. Blood curses could be radio signals targeting a person for a ossicular effect based on the frequency.

Ghost Slayer: quantum tech that allows them to shift through solid objects (incorporeal creature could be flavored as beings talked in some sort of quantum) state.

Lycan: Hormone or Gene manipulation that they can activate to tap into a more carnal power.

Mutant: change the hardware's programming to empower certain aspects of their bodily functions. Or bionics like mechanized leg braces for more speed or hologram tech to appear more personable.

Profane Soul: they've got a corporation bankrolling them, supplying equipment and resources when needed through air drops/teleportation.
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Matthew C May 18, 2020 11:38 pm UTC
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Sorry, I should probably have clarified what I meant a bit better. I was wondering if anyone had ideas for a sci-fi/modern-themed blood hunter *subclass*.

My setting has magic and the like-it's less a sci-fi conversion and more "a modern 1st world nation dropped into a medieval fantasy world, interacting with those civilizations" (basically, human space travelers colonizing alien planets resembling medieval fantasy worlds). Most classes and subclasses are unchanged, though I have been hunting down and creating sci-fi/modern themed subclasses for various D&D classes. This modern civ tends to produce adventurers using said subclasses. For example, their monks use Gun Kata, their rogues have spy gadgets, their fighters use power armor, etc.

I am thinking this subclass would indeed be some kind of cyborg, and the damage they take using hemocraft and such would be flavored as their cybernetics being overlocked, which damages them and the user's body.
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Nick O May 18, 2020 11:41 pm UTC
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Gotcha, I've been thinking about a retro-futuristic style one shot and had that in my mind.
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Keith W May 10, 2020 2:11 am UTC
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For the Ghostslayer's Rite of Dawn, the weapon sheds Bright Light in a 20' radius. Is there any additional Dim Light shed beyond that radius?
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File Last Updated:
February 11, 2020
This title was added to our catalog on January 27, 2020.