Linux commands to combine PDFs

I haven’t talked about much computer stuff on this blog, but today I found two useful commands on Linux for combining separate PDFs into a single file. The reason I wanted this is I’m going to try to get some additional outside playtesters and I figured the easier I can make the setup process the better. So I wanted to make half a dozen “starter” Posses and combine them into a single “playtesters package” file.

A very handy utility for PDFs, and a very simple command. This worked perfectly for merging a bunch of exported posse rosters from The Saloon into a single file.

pdftk filename1.pdf filename2.pdf cat output combined.pdf

The above command would combine “filename1.pdf” and “filename2.pdf” into combined.pdf.

This approach actually left some artifacts in the posse rosters, so I ended up not using it. Still worth knowing about:

gs -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOUTPUTFILE=combined.pdf -dBATCH filename1.pdf filename2.pdf

The above command would combine “filename1.pdf” and “filename2.pdf” into combined.pdf.

I exported every single saved posse currently on The Saloon, which ended up being 19 posses. Then using PDFTK I combined them into a single file that you can check out here. This would be perfect for making a printed folder of available posse choices, and is much easier compared to having a bunch of separate files.

Check out 19 sample posses (PDF) combined from separate files.

Pretty neat eh?

Fillable Posse Roster PDF form

Although I haven’t had a ton of time for additional playtests, I have gotten to work at making the Posse Roster a fillable PDF form. This will be handy for those with small, cramped writing, or for people who are used to creating their sheets that way.
But what it’s REALLY useful for is the possibility of programmatically filling the form. Ideally I’d like to write an application (probably a web app) that allows you to build a Posse and then export to PDF. Thanks to the Java version of iText this is hugely possible and not even that challenging. I did some testing along these lines and already have the Leader filling in properly. Now I just need to build the rest of the sheet and slap an interface on that lets you modify statistics, purchase equipment, etc. This would be a great asset for Dinosaur Cowboys as you could quickly and easily build different Posses and jump into a game in no time.
The application will be called “The Saloon”, and I’m going to try to sit down and put some serious work into it asap. I want to get a couple more playtests in, but the current rules are definitely approaching a finalized state.

Anyways to give you an idea of what the sheet looks like, here is a screenshot of the autopopulated form from my preliminary version of The Saloon:

Not much else to say really. I was away all weekend so I got less Dinosaur Cowboys than I would have liked. And unfortunately all the forum posts I did trying to generate interest and get some comments didn’t actually result in much feedback. I guess people don’t have a ton of time to sit down and read rules and playtest. Hopefully I hear back from some of the forum folks soon.