The Erol Otus Shrine: if you are a truly old school gamer, your brain is full of Erol Otus images from ancient TSR products. Sometimes I disliked his stuff because it can be so darn ugly, but some of it is quite wonderful. And he drew one of the finest illustrations of Great Cthulhu ever.
Steve Jackson Games — the venerable and excellent publisher of strategy and role-playing games — is producing an amazing new digital line of products: games distributed as PDFs. What’s amazing about that? Well, they’re only available direct from SJG, and only by electronic cash. They come with “insurance” so that if you delete the files or lose them in a crash, SJG will replace them (this also means that if you find yourself at a friend’s house and you want to play the game, you can login to the site and download any of your games). They come with software to help you build characters and otherwise relieve some of the tedious bookkeeping associated with paper-gaming. Finally, they don’t have any DRM, because SJG believes that its customers are not crooks.
Cool, but the Forge RPG bookshelf has been around for a long time.
The 20′ By 20′ Room: How RPG Rules Work by Vincent Baker. I’ve tried to say this several times before, but never come close to doing it so well.
I’ve just started reading D. Vincent Baker’s Dogs in the Vineyard. It has to be the single best written roleplaying game I’ve ever read. I don’t remember ever reading a roleplaying game that kept me coming back to it as if it were a novel or something. Here’s a section about the ceremonial coat of office that the Dogs wear:
You’ll serve actively as a Dog for three or four years, usually, sometimes less and sometimes more — sometimes lots more — and your beautiful new coat won’t hold up. It takes a fierce beating in the field. It becomes the responsibility of the communities you serve to maintain your coat, patching, piecing, repairing, even replacing it as you need. Some dogs come out of their service with three or four coats, the earlier ones packed carefully away to preserve them. Some come out with only their original coat, and it’s torn and battered and ruined. In later life, as you’re called to higher and higher sacred offices, you are always allowed to replace whatever vestments accompany your office with your old Dog’s coat, no matter how beat up it is. And if you end up in the Dogs’ Temple training and initiating new Dogs, your old coat is powerfully significant.
(Picture one of the Dogs’ teachers. His coat’s so faded and stretched across his shoulders that you can see his shirt through it. It has an old stain and a crude patch under his left arm. The boyfriend of the woman he loved stabbed him, so long ago, and he had to stitch his coat back up himself. How high in the esteem of the new Dog initiates he is! He regards them all with hope, love, and very mixed feelings.)
All of the above: typical case.