Palace of the Vampire Queen print sequence
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Post Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 1:57 pm 
 

Offset printing plates are made by first photographing the thing you wish to make a plate of. Therefore, the "master" copy of PotVQ was typed (for the text pages) and hand-drawn (for the maps). These pages were then photographed.

The negative images are then "developed". However, instead of shining the light onto a piece of white paper (a photo), the light is shone onto a chemically-treated, flexible aluminum plate. Another chemical is applied (technically, a "fixer"), and then the plates are scrubbed clean of the chemicals. The latent (now positive) image is left behind on the plate.

These plates are then wrapped around metal drums in the press, and paper is wrapped around another drum. That's where the term "offset" comes from -- the printing drum is offset from the paper drum. The printing drum is rolled through ink, the paper drum is brought into contact with it, and voila -- you have a final, printed image.

Note that this final print is only one color. To get a second color (or more), you need to run it through the machine with another ink well. While Wee Warriors *could* have run their press with two colors -- black and grey -- they instead used the halftone technique. This technique is used in newspaper pictures -- a series of fine (black) dots, that when viewed from a distance, give the appearance of varying shades of grey. This process is cheaper -- you only have to run one color.

To get to your question, the "missing" gray grid could have gone missing in one of three ways (that I can think of):

1) The page is a photocopy, and the copier (scanner) did not have the resolution to pick up the gray details. In this case, however, I'd still expect to see some jagged, broken remanants.

2) New plates were made from either the original "master", or a new master was made. Or even, plates were made from an already-printed copy, if the master wasn't available. At some point in the photographic development process, a cheaper (or quicker) method was used, and the halftone grid didn't resolve.

3) The grid was removed on purpose. Again, this could be done from the master, or even from the negative image itself (but this is much harder).

There's maybe a possibility I'm not thinking of here. It's too early in the morning.

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Post Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 2:37 pm 
 

Very interesting. Thats similar to the old dyeline printing for plan printing, and the way they used to make printed circuit boards.

I could see that the grid may have been removed. It doesn't even line up with the rooms or walls anyway. But I would guess number 2 is more likely.


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Post Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 3:26 pm 
 

Foul, yours is sure a great simple way of explaining complex things.

The fact is that halftones don't generally fare very well when they are very dense (80/90% coverage and more) or very light (10/20% coverage), especially when dealing with commercial (and cheap) print runs - which I guess is the case.

The firsts tend to result black, and the seconds fade into nothingness.

So, there's a distinct possibility that the grid simply vanished in this way.
Also, problems on the printing plates could cause streaks of varied density in the final output. A too long exposure to the photographic process could also cause this... making the final image too light and "burned".

The possibilities in blotching print runs are nearly endless... I learned from my own errors  :?


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Post Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 5:11 pm 
 

Howdy All,


I think the grey grid lines were added by a second print process. If they were doing expensive things like the red foil because they had easy access to a print shop, then why not print black and then print grey - 2 tone seperation?

Also, the grey ink grid lines don't line up with the black printed maps, so they were obviously added after the black inking was done. The other hand drawn grid lines do match.

I'd say the absence of those grey lines indicates they no longer had access to the print shop or were made without using the seperate gray-ink print. Heck maybe they lost the grid pattern master or thought, "these things don't line-up, let's just use the black ink and forget the grid this time".


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Post Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 5:25 pm 
 

Those are good points.  There's certainly a (strong) possibility that the gray grid was added separately to the printing plate -- i.e., two exposures.  If a second printing plate was manufactured for later print runs, they may have done away with the added complication and expense of a double-exposure.

As I mentioned, though, the gray grid is not gray at all.  It's black dots.  So it wouldn't have made any sense to make two separate plates, and run the paper through twice.

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Post Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 5:28 pm 
 

Howdy Scott,


FoulFoot wrote:As I mentioned, though, the gray grid is not gray at all. It's black dots. So it wouldn't have made any sense to make two separate plates, and run the paper through twice.


Is there another reason the grey grid is off kilter? The expense/trouble of a double exposure is a good one.

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Post Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 5:31 pm 
 

stormber wrote:Is there another reason the grey grid is off kilter?

Yep.  If they had made two exposures onto the same printing plate -- one exposure was the map, the other exposure was the grid.  The more I think about it, the more that makes sense -- and also helps explain why the grid is missing on some later copies.

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Post Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 5:34 pm 
 

A halftone image is made by photographing something through a screen -- the density of the screen mesh determines how small your dots are.  They presumably had to photograph the grid separately, and then later combine the two images when making the printing plate.

I think I'm convincing myself that's how it was done.

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Post Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 8:29 pm 
 

I took the palace over to the print shop I used to work at. It's changed hands but one of the old printers I worked with is still there.

Here's how the offset pages were made…It's a little bit of an explanation but bare with me.
a. All of the border-art and the halftone graphs are identical, except the level # boxes below the title at the bottom of the page, hold two together near a light and these line up except those boxes.
b. Obviously there was a mistake, or "level one…" was part of Brad's original border-art (seems to be). The rest of the level boxes are different and they look pasted onto the "level 1…" or cut out of the negative photo each time and replaced before making the printing plates as Scott's explanation above…one for each level (thanks that saved me a lot of typing). These were run off in five different runs (border-art/halftone grid/level #). Then in 10 additional runs (5 DM's and 5 players (all maps noted different) … each levels architectural lines, hatch-work, and room#' on DM's maps were printed onto these templates, if you will. Hold an offset printed map up against a light and you can see a difference in black-tone where the border meets the map. A light table really shows it.

The Title/Distribution sheet is offset printed in one shot (ours is yellow). Look below the "ir" in Vampire and…see how the line is broken. This is most likely from when someone used a printers-razor to remove the "level # box" from an original "template negative (border/halftone)" before burning. You can also see where they slipped with the razor to the left of "This kit contains". The text negative was added and a new plate made for this page.

The remainders of the single-sided text pages were made with paper plates or the like. He said no way in 76 was copying this good. I showed him our 76 employees handbook, and he said that's more like copying of the era.
I also showed him the comparison of our copied map and the handbook and after looking under magnification he'd bet the shop that these were run off on the same machine.

As far as Stephen's Bella, we went online and I had him take a peek at the photos. It's a photocopy that lost the grid in reproduction. It was to light for a copier machine to see when on a "lighter-setting". The graph you're seeing in the hatch-work is where the two offset printings on the same page (explained above) made a darker spot where these intersected (halftone graph/hatch-work). Therefore leaving an illusion of a graph.

He really flipped when I showed him the Black-Folder. He said do you know how much this would cost? You worked here…


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Post Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 9:07 pm 
 

OK, do we now have enough info to try and tie it all together into a new sequence, that will explain all the copies we've seen so far?  I haven't followed it closely enough to make sure I'm accounting for the different versions people are reporting.  Invincible?

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Post Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 2:33 am 
 

FoulFoot wrote:OK, do we now have enough info to try and tie it all together into a new sequence, that will explain all the copies we've seen so far? I haven't followed it closely enough to make sure I'm accounting for the different versions people are reporting. Invincible?

Foul

I think we still have only 2 large format printings. We have the 1st printing with and without black folder (with the unexplained phenomenon that some are 17 and others 24 pages), and then we have the yellow toer copy. The indication would be that the yellow tower copy was produced by TSR inhouse on their photocopier.


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Post Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 5:44 am 
 

If you're talking theories…

Both the bagged offset version and the Black-folder were done at the same time. I don't think someone would have done this twice. Paul could you cross check one of your Folder maps with a bagged one. Hold the two up against a light and my guess is their identical. Do the same with a double sided text page and a single...the same text's should line up as well, ones just printed on the other side.

As far as why the difference in some single and some double sided text pages.

This job was done in three phases. Any order.

1.        All the offset pages including the intro page.
2.        The text pages.
3.        The Folder.

If I'm correct there were most likely more maps than folders made. Paper runs through the press in the hundreds. We use to say it's not the cost paper once it's running, it's the set up. Now the folder is another story…heavy stock paper folders made in house, then foil-stamped. That foil is not cheep and this thing would have been going through it and wasting lots to boot.

So some got folders and some didn't, and far as the single and double sided text pages these could have been made at different times indicating a printing order, but so many crossed variants between the two would indicate they were assembled in close proximity.

The copied Yellow-Covered version was either made Pete at a later date and sold through Zocchi, or made by Zocchi. My guess is Pete printed a new cover from Judy's original artwork and xeroxed these for whatever reason they couldn't re-press them, most likely it was just to time consuming and costly. Pete was moving and opening a shop.

TSR appears to have been picking up the slack on the Black-Folder and replacing missing pages from an offset version with their Xerox machine.

I discovered Zocchi was the first distributor of D&D so there's the connection to TSR and Gary and him go way back. So when TSR obviously saw $ and wanted to make their own modules they passed the distribution over to Lou, our after being dropped, Lou who knew Pete from California started distributing for them until Pete had the shop up and running and the Digest size versions made at the A1 print shop in Morro Bay…which are produced and distributed by Wee Warriors.

I have an e-mail into Lou Zocchi to see if he can shed some light on this.


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Post Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 7:22 am 
 

Howdy,


invincibleoverlord wrote:Both the bagged offset version and the Black-folder were done at the same time. I don't think someone would have done this twice. Paul could you cross check one of your Folder maps with a bagged one. Hold the two up against a light and my guess is their identical. Do the same with a double sided text page and a single...the same text's should line up as well, ones just printed on the other side.


They are identical. However (I can just hear the groans), the grey grid lines on the black-foldered-version maps are uniform. Under a magnifying glass the dots are a perfect half-tone pattern. To the naked eye, they appear as smooth gray lines.

The grey grid on the yellow-cover-sheet-bagged-version is splotchy. Under a magnifying glass many of the dots of the half-tone lines bleed together or don't appear at all. When viewed with the naked eye the lines look splotchy and fade out altogether in a few spots.

This suggests to me that either, the black-foldered version was printed using a virgin printing plate and the yellow-bagged version was printed using the same, worn/dirty printing plate at a later time OR the black-foldered version was printed using a virgin printing plate and the yellow-bagged version was printed using a different, inferior printing plate (poor exposure or paper as opposed to aluminum plates).


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Post Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 7:34 am 
 

stormber wrote:Howdy,
They are identical. However (I can just hear the groans), the grey grid lines on the black-foldered-version maps are uniform. Under a magnifying glass the dots are a perfect half-tone pattern. To the naked eye, they appear as smooth gray lines.

The grey grid on the yellow-cover-sheet-bagged-version is splotchy. Under a magnifying glass many of the dots of the half-tone lines bleed together or don't appear at all. When viewed with the naked eye the lines look splotchy and fade out altogether in a few spots.

This suggests to me that either, the black-foldered version was printed using a virgin printing plate and the yellow-bagged version was printed using the same, worn/dirty printing plate at a later time OR the black-foldered version was printed using a virgin printing plate and the yellow-bagged version was printed using a different, inferior printing plate (poor exposure or paper as opposed to aluminum plates).
Paul


Agreeing with Paul. If it is so, they come from two different print runs.

You seem to spot any kind of differences in the black areas also?


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Post Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 9:45 am 
 

stormber wrote:The grey grid on the yellow-cover-sheet-bagged-version is splotchy.

Are you talking about a yellow cover bagged first print, or a yellow tower covered third print?


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Post Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 9:52 am 
 

invincibleoverlord wrote:The graph you're seeing in the hatch-work is where the two offset printings on the same page (explained above) made a darker spot where these intersected (halftone graph/hatch-work). Therefore leaving an illusion of a graph.


Yes, I can see that now, taking a closer look.  

Does anyone have any thoughts on the presence/absence of the border "scrollwork" in the foldered versions?  The only scrollwork on my foldered verion is on the map pages.

  

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Post Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 10:41 am 
 

afoolandhis$ wrote:Does anyone have any thoughts on the presence/absence of the border "scrollwork" in the foldered versions? The only scrollwork on my foldered verion is on the map pages.


well my copy with the yellow front sheet, has the border "scrollwork" on it, as well as the maps....



  

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Post Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 11:41 am 
 

killjoy32 wrote:
afoolandhis$ wrote:Does anyone have any thoughts on the presence/absence of the border "scrollwork" in the foldered versions? The only scrollwork on my foldered verion is on the map pages.


well my copy with the yellow front sheet, has the border "scrollwork" on it, as well as the maps....

I think it would be helpful for people to distinguish between a yellow cover first print and a yellow cover version with the tower on the front. I know Alan is talking about a yellow cover ziplocked first (no black folder). What yellow covers are the others being discussed? Which ones are folderless firsts and which are yellow tower covers?


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Post Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 11:54 am 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:
killjoy32 wrote:
well my copy with the yellow front sheet, has the border "scrollwork" on it, as well as the maps....

I think it would be helpful for people to distinguish between a yellow cover first print and a yellow cover version with the tower on the front. I know Alan is talking about a yellow cover ziplocked first (no black folder). What yellow covers are the others being discussed? Which ones are folderless firsts and which are yellow tower covers?


The Bella copy is a yellow tower cover.  My other one is a black-foldered version, no yellow sheets.

  

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Post Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 12:01 pm 
 

afoolandhis$ wrote:My other one is a black-foldered version, no yellow sheets.

This is the one I'm interested in. I had always assumed, maybe wrongly, that the scrollwork would have appeared on the Title/Background sheet as it does in the unfoldered version.


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