Aleksander R. Nordgarden Rødner
Proud father of Sarah Arwen and Ruth Rose
Would really like to study U.S. History at some point, just to be able to say that I'm a Coolidge student...
Note: this review is based on the Norwegian version of the book, as well as several sessions over the years since its publishing. An English translation is in the works.
Itras by (lit.: Itra's city) was my first exposure to indie RPGs in general, and the Norwegian style in specific. It is highly absurd and surrealistic, and plays to its strengths.
Written by Ole Peder Giæver and Martin Bull Gudmundsen, Itras by is set in a 1920's sort of world, in part a highly recognizable world, much akin to Europe and the US in the 1920's and in part a world with elements that are totally unknown to us.
The book is divided into logical chapters that cover the different parts of the city, and the mechanics of the game. It is decidedly well written and the language flows beautifully, easily read. At the same time, there is a feeling of disconnect between some of the parts.
While this might have been annoying and a detraction from the book, as it stands, it works in favor of the surreal feel of the game, and also helps differentiate the different sections of the city.
Speaking of which, the different sections of the city also help to create a plethora of potential types of sessions, from a classic dungeon crawl to a high society costume drama, from a medieval feel to a quasi-modern feel or a steampunk feeling for that matter.
Now, I assume there is more than one of you reading this and thinking "Oh, really, now?". Well, frankly, yes; really. There are for example NPC societies dedicated to both dungeon crawls and steampunk, and costume dramas are quite clearly encouraged.
As for the rest, well, they might not be explicitly mentioned, but there are most certainly enough material for them to be natural parts of a campaign for Itras by.
For all of its interesting locations, NPCs and underlying themes, to me, the very strongest feature of Itras by are its illustrations. Beautifully, lovingly hand-drawn by the Norwegian artist Thore Hansen, who illustrated Tor Åge Bringsværd's books about the sea dragon Ruffen, making him well loved among Norwegians.
Itras by is well worth the money you pay for it, both for sheer joy of playing games, for the stories it inspires and for the beautiful illustrations.
TL;DR: Buy on sight, great writing, amazing illustrations