This post is a part of the #RPGaDAY series for 2017 by David F. Chapman and RPGBrigade. For more information, see this post at AUTOCRATIK. I'm modifying per suggestions from S. John Ross as well as applying my own interpretations. Comment with your answers or links to your own posts!
It finally happened: I missed a day. Enjoy this special weekend double-issue!
Day 19 - Which RPG features the best [awesome] writing?
I interpreted this question to be lean more toward the non-rules portion of the writing. My first thought on this was Underground, because it was such a joy to read, but I already went on about that game on Day 11, and I didn't want to repeat myself too much. My second thought was Orkworld, but that one I gushed about on Day 17. That'll teach me to go on tangents. I think for my official pick I'll go with Monsterhearts by Avery Alder. Just a few weeks ago or so did I finish my readthrough of the second edition, and it was most excellent. I actually don't have a lot to say about that wasn't already said in Martin Ralya's recent G+ post:
It's lean, without an ounce of cruft anywhere on its frame. It's devoid of blather. This is a bullshit-free presentation honed by years of actual play, design chops, and feedback from others. It's fucking beautiful.
It's also packed with advice delivered in the best way possible for an RPG: conversationally but directly, with its intended audiences in mind. I love design notes and anything that brings in all the stuff that exists on the edges of the actual text -- like intent -- and MH2 makes so much explicit so well that it just rocks.
I agree with everything Martin said. Monsterhearts is not only a great game to play but also a great game to read. Reading it makes you want to play. That's probably the best indicator I can think of for a well-written RPG.
Day 20 - What is the best source for out-of-print RPGs?
I understand the value of digital RPG projects, including digital copies of books, but I am all about physical books. To that end, I interpreted this question as where to get physical copies of out-of-print books. I'm assuming there's a baseline answer of hitting up your FLGS(es) or used book stores, but I'm also discounting PoD solutions like DriveThruRPG, just because that's never what I'm looking for when I'm looking for old books. To that end, my favorite source is Noble Knight Games. They're usually my first stop when I'm looking for a specific out-of-print book, but I've also just found stuff there that I didn't even know I wanted. I think, as a retailer, they're just right in my sweet spot of what I'm looking for. It's getting harder to turn to my FLGSes for older stuff, because I (like a lot of people) are also very interested in the avalanche of new (and largely indie) games that are coming out all the time, and there's only so much a store can do with limited shelf space. (I also live in New York City where physical real estate is at a ridiculous premium, so a sprawling game shop with endless inventory is not a tenable situation out this way.) But, yeah, I'm a big fan of Noble Knight. If you're interested in older games and haven't yet had the pleasure, give them a browse and see if you find anything you like!