I'd be very disappointed if there was no print-friendly version included. I'm probably not in the market for fancy pdfs with options & fiddly bits, especially not if that makes it impossible to turn them into a print-on-demand book.
Good bookmarks, at least corresponding with the table of contents. Readable on a phone screen (though not the phone layouts at DriveThru, more OSE, definitely not Swords & Wizardry).
Bookmarks are essential. It still saddens me I had to bookmark all Esoteric Enterprises by myself, for example.Hyperlinks (along with return/reverse hyperlinks) within the text is really fancy and takes significant amount of time to do, but result is usually a good timesaver in use.Layers which allow to turn off non-essential graphic for printing and, separately, turn off all graphic as wellMaps/essential graphics and tables on separate pages, again, so I can print just this one page. Although it is more of design.Fillable forms when warranted.
This! So much this!
Yup, what Kyana said.
I hate PDFs that are unprintable because of tiny fonts, giant pages of black background with white text, and strange formatting.
Phone friendly, like the one used in Zweihander rpg.
Shugars' notes on accessibility covered completely new ground for me:https://gmdk.org/2019/10/31/the-gmdk-guide-to-pdf-accessibility/I'd never even thought of personally.
Summary cheat sheets so I don't bankrupt my printing ink cartridge.
Hyperlinks and bookmarks. If you hyperlink from the map to the specific rooms tapped on, that's the tops, and we will rave (in a good way).
Bookmarks, printer-friendly version (can be done with layers), player-friendly maps, ideally Hyperlinks.
Print friendly option, optimized for small size (to be as fast and nimble as possible), and good bookmarks. All the rest is fanciness.
I use PDFs in two ways: 1. I read the game or adventure in a tablet. In this case, a good-looking PDF is fine, but not essential. It's, of course, a user's manual. 2. On the table. In this case, I need print-friendly versions, no fancy backgrounds. I use PDFs when I play games, so I need speed over beauty, and if a PDF takes more than one or two seconds to load each page, it's unusable on the table. If I can't print what I need, like tables, maps, stats, even if I have a print book, it's unusable on the table. Unusable books force me to make notes, recreate charts, tables, maps and stuff, and that takes a lot of time.
I just want a PDF to work well with screen readers. So avoid fonts with ligatures, because ligatured letters tend to get either pronounced separately or ignored completely. Also, make sure your text box order proceeds logically, so that the right-hand column doesn't get read before the left. Far as I can tell, the easiest way to do that is to just run the "Make Accessible" action on the finished PDF.
In Carcosa's PDF, the maps are hyperlinked, so if I click on a room or hex it takes you to it's description. Other keywords are also hyperlinked to their descriptions wherever they're mentioned, like monsters, rituals, and artifacts. It's very handy, especially regarding the hex map.
Considering your three espoused tiers and what I imagine they must require (rather than desire), I would say:Basic: zoooooomable! Er, high-resFiddly: Printable.Fancy: hyperlinked and cross-referenced.A good $20 pdf has all of these. But often only those of least production value can actually be economically printed with all the maps and graphics.Because I have a personal taboo regarding electronics at the table I never end up using the internal indices, but lose heart when I realize that if I dont want to rip the whole material by rote into a google doc, I'll end up just letting the pdf wile away in the archive to be occasionally cannibalized rather than used whole-cloth.I'd say, tho only as a tech-ignorant Dm. The pdf which marries aesthetic with high-contrast B&W is king. Links be damned. Maybe just decide the background will be white to satiate the luddites and hyperlink the Contents and Indices to satisfy the screen-fiends?Idk I'm just gonna buy the 1st run print anyway...
The above link to accessible rpg pdfs was eye opening. If you build in paying an editor to do the work listed in that link you should cover all the above listed wishes.
I like landscape and large fonts.