2. What do you look for in an RPG?
I look for the game’s killer app, the one really new idea or overarching set of ideas that sets the game apart at the procedural level. I look for new ways to play make-believe.
Consequently, I’m completely baffled by the “the rules get out of your way” school of thought, which strikes me as diametrically opposed to the thing I look for in a game. If the game’s getting out of the way, why did I spend money on it? I definitely prefer there to be game in my game.
This is probably why nostalgia Kickstarters and OSR games continually elude me. Better versions of existing things don’t seem to trigger my craving for real novelty.
Then why do you play so many PbtAs then, smarty pants? I can hear you back there, in the utilikilt, asking. Good question! Maybe because moves are more densely designed than, say, a pass/fail roll-under thing. Lots more room for the kind of novelty I like. Specifically, novelty that carries with it a clear editorial voice. I can hear the designer’s intent and opinions more clearly via a certain school of modern design choices (moves, yes, but others as well) than I do when they’re hidden behind systems meant to “neutrally” model reasonable and realistic outcomes.
I don’t know that I’ve ever bought or played or loved a game for its setting. Mage: The Ascension maybe. King Arthur Pendragon certainly, but that’s a whole package deal. Might be it. Although the question of “setting” is worth a couple hours of bullshit over beers at the after-con party.