I'm signed up to run No Higher Authority at ACUS again this year.
I've been toying with the idea of running another game, based on some dreams I had a while back. The basic idea is a world with secret organisations of mildly super powered individuals built on 0-5 points in ADRPG style, running around grabbing for power. I have some basic plot ideas that I could probably run with, but I'm not sure I want to put in the work to present the game well before the deadline next week. I'm a little gunshy after having had at least one game cancelled at every con I've tried to run games, and like to have a website up explaining the idea behind a game. I suppose if it seems that the con is *really* short on games, I'll sneak this one in.
Fantasy is perhaps the most well-mined genre in role-playing, and I'm not immune to it's lure. However, I find Dungeons and Dragons games don't generally, scratch my gaming itch properly. The system encourages the sorts of things that I don't take much pleasure in (long combats that involve a lot of number crunching, for example). I like my games to have more story and character development and less number crunching. This is a big reason why I tend to prefer diceless games. It's possible to get what I want from diced games, but the heavier mechanics tend to be geared towards rewarding the stuff I find boring.
I haven't been gaming much in the past year or two, outside of cons, and I'm feeling the itch again. I don't think I'm likely to find a group of people with congruent patches of free time who also agree with my goals, so this is mostly to generate discussion.
So, what exactly do I want out of a fantasy game?
I want the reward system to be untied from combat. This means that advancement isn't based on killing monsters. The reason I want this is that far too much time in games is spent looking for random monsters to kill to "level up" and find treasure - that's what the reward system encourages, so GMs need to schedule half of each session for combat, since otherwise, the players receive no in-system reward for the session. I prefer, at a minimum, to have rewards be based on player-derived story goals. I'm more tempted to just say "every session, each player gets X advancement units". Ever-increasing power levels are a definite theme in popular fantasy literature, so I feel that the games need to include that part. I'm just not sure that there needs to be a reward mechanic to fill that need. I prefer a character/story based game, so for me, the big motivator is getting my character into interesting situations, and pursuing the goals of my PC (from concrete power-based things like "learn X power" or "become king of $FOO" to more story-based things like "explore romance with $NPC"). The reward for excelling at these things is self-evident - when I work at my character's goals and story, those things become a bigger part of the game, and I get what I want. No mechanic needed.
I also want a setting that's participatory. When I really get into a game, I like to develop a lot of back story, supporting art, culture, etc. for my character. If I'm playing an elf, I want to have input into what elves are like in the game world. I'm just obessive-compulsive that way. As a GM, I find if I put in heavily developed weirdness (like races or classes not found in D&D), it's hard to get players interested in them at the outset, mostly because unlike various fantasy franchise games, I don't have a body of supporting literature and art to draw them into my headspace. My theory is that by opening things up, and letting the players define these things for themselves, a rich setting will grow organically around the players and what they want. As a GM, I could just fill in the blanks and build the story around the framework my players define.
Mechanically, to support the kind of things I want, I need the character generation system to be open and flexible - I dislike the race/class boxes in D&D, because they constrain character concepts. I find when I first meet a game, I spend time making characters to see what the rules turn out. My favourite systems are the ones where I can come up with a character idea, then just pick out the rules to support it, rather than starting from the rules, and seeing what I can do with the set of options. Of the systems I've played with, I like the newer iterations of Guardians of Order's TriStat I haven't run into anything I can't build with their system yet, and the actual game play can be done pretty loosely without falling apart. I hate randomness in character generation, and haven't met a non-points based chargen system that I've been happy with.
I'm also fond of providing a mechanic for allowing the players (as opposed to the characters) to influence the story - I've done some experimenting with giving out "story points" that players can spend to change details of the plot or setting on the fly. I'm a little concerned that it could end up making the game too "soap opera" in the long run.