Many folks in the gaming community see the hobby as moving to a completely digital format. Indeed, almost all of the major publishers now make digital content available, and many focus almost all of their business on the digital market. Bloggers and fan sites create derivative works of their favorite systems and settings to share digitally online. But with Open Game Table: The Anthology of Roleplaying Game Blogs, editor Jonathan Jacobs reminds us that no matter how much we gamers use the internet to expand our gaming experience, we still want the really good stuff in print!
Open Game Table is a true gift for gamers; gathering together the most popular content scattered across the blogosphere and organizing it into one print collection. Jacobs has done a fine job organizing the various articles into logical categories, and the table of contents provides readers with an informative reference to what is inside the book. An index might have been nice, if for no other reason than those moments when you want to quickly find the page that references the Tome of Horrors or if you wanted to note all of the pages that mentioned OD&D for reference later. But it's a minor issue.
The presentation as a whole is simple and clean, and in many ways feels like an "old school" game supplement. Several artists donated original artwork to the project to compliment the articles. To be honest, a lot of it has a somewhat cheesy feel, and yet it is precisely that cheesy style that gives the collection a certain geeky charm gamers will appreciate. (I have to ask artist Jennifer Weigel...exactly how many feet of rope did that little critter use anyway?)
The bulk of the book's content is Dungeons and DragonsTM specific, though considering the market share the system holds and the explosion of third party content available for D&D perhaps that is to be expected. However there is still plenty of non-system specific RPG theory to be enjoyed (including a really great piece written by Ben Robbins on what could in effect be considered the "origin myth" of the entire hobby).
Jacobs has done a fine job of making sure this collection has something for everyone. Both GMs and players will find articles catered to them, just as both new recruits and veteran gamers will find articles catered to them. Yet while each article caters to a specific demographic, the information in each article is still wholly accessible to the entire gaming community.
Of course, perhaps the obvious question is why would someone pay good money for a print version of articles they can find online for free? But as obvious as the question might be, the answers are just as obvious. Jacobs, with the help of an army of dedicated bloggers, artists, and volunteers, has done the hard work by culling through the hundreds of hobby-related blogs and pulling out the true gems. This is not just a slapped together print-out of assorted blogs. It's a gamer's primer of all that is good about the hobby in general and the online gaming community specifically.
Open Game Table is the reference guide equivalent of a Deck of Many Things, except all of the crappy cards have been replaced with 50,000 XP and a medium magic item...and you can draw from it again and again.
More Information, check out Jonathan's blog at The Core Mechanic.