Huge long time fan of your writing, RPG, YTube channel, and podcast. So first THANKS! HF/IB/BG, know that you are an inspiration both within and beyond the RPG world!
The underlying question seems to be how deterministic a game each player wants vs. how much they want unfettered imagination to run the show. I feel like mechanics offer scaffolding for imaginative play that, as creators get deeper, they sometimes leave behind, sometimes run towards. Fine either way of course. Story games one end, Magic Realm the other.
I liked your criteria for game mxn and wanted to post a couple others and see if the community had thoughts, comments:
Does the mxn help capture a feeling? I feel that dice rolling is dramatic currency powered by uncertainty. Yes it is a substitute for actual skill but also can more than that. The right mxn in combination with storytelling mines that currency and potentially converts it into a feeling prior to the roll. Having to roll a 6 on a D6 to squeeze through a tunnel feels narrow. Rolling and failing leave you unsettled. You are a sharp shooter, have a +3 for laser sight, +3 for marksmanship, and are riding a +3 dex, you Feel steel eyed, stone cold confidence that you will blow the cap off that Mariners fan at 300 yards.
Does it facilitate pace of play or match the feeling of in-game time to table time? (this could be a corollary to Exciting) This is where I think many mechanics fail and that we can still improve as I think table time seriously impacts the feeling of the narrative during pay. As soon as action tempo speeds up, game play slows - not a problem for the euro-gamers but often perplexing for everyone else. Shouldn’t combat be fast and deadly yet still leave room for those amazing attacks. Either way it should feel and I think BE fast. Hard problem. Single Target helps, non-differential stats help. What about no HP? No damage rolls. What about simultaneous rolls? I’ve mocked up a ICRPG variant that I’ll post separately, which is my attempt to address but interested to hear thoughts.
And other criteria you all have!
Anyway, so appreciate the way this community rides and comments so lucidly on the intersection of narrative, content, and mechanics in creating a fun experience (as opposed to the memory or anticipation of one). Psyched to jump into the frey!