One of my favorite things about really mastering a system is discovering the signals that a well-designed game sends. Examples:
* My most recent discovery: in The One Ring, I’m pretty sure folks who start using their Traits for automatic ordinary successes in lieu of gambling against the possibility of having to spend Hope are ready for the Adventure Phase to be over.
* If a Burning Wheel player is building up too much artha, that can either mean your consequences are too soft or you’re not running enough scripted conflicts.
* In Circle of Hands, when someone reaches for a character over and over again (as often as the system allows, ie every other session), they’re not really interested in how “someone else” might interpret that character.
* In Urban Shadows, players who chase Corruption as hard as they can have no intention or expectation of playing past about 5 sessions. (Which breaks the Debt economy, but that’s another subject.)
It’s just so interesting to identify these … I don’t know what to call them. Second-order market signals, maybe. They remind me of the economists who look at orders for, say, cardboard boxes this quarter as a signal that sales are going to increase next quarter.
What hidden signals have you identified in your favorite game?