EXHUMATIONS SO FAR
Mine:

Circle of Hands (formerly “Gray Magick”)

Paul’s:

In a Dimension Syncopatic With Ours

Nathan’s: Kildarrin: Role-Playing in a Doomed City

Aaron’s: Mansion

DESIGN MODELS

I don’t tell people how to design their games. The long years of discussion have revealed several different prompts or priorities that different people have settled upon.

Vincent’s excellent questions

Why an X game?
Why a new X game?
Gets right to some very basic concerns: situation-centric, what’s good about the thing you care about the most

Color and Reward

What’s cool about this?

What changes?

The two concepts are the chocolate and peanut butter of role-playing. Think of the occasional and effective paired illustrations of a character when he or she is just starting out, and after some time in play. Or for Circle of Hands, think about the Circle as a whole when they’re made up, and after a few ventures have gone by.

A handy rubric

Fixed, fixed list with options (choose, random selection), fill-in with range (choose, randomly determine), fill in freely, make up if you want (prior to play, during play)
Fixed – simply given, no ifs and or buts.
• Fully, e.g. character “type” in Trollbabe; she’s a trollbabe, done.
• Chosen from a list, e.g., the Master’s subtypes in My Life with Master, or character class in any version of D&D.
Customized – optional in the first place, and then tuned with various mechanisms.
• Specified verbally, e.g., the Master’s specific goal, Trait names in Dogs
• Points -
• Randomized
Whole cloth
• Prior to play
• During play

Any and all subcomponents of Setting, Characters, Situation, System, and Color

System and procedure

Currency: effectiveness, resource, positioning

Authorities

Related to the Reward concept: all resolution mechanics are a subset of reward mechanics

Another is Tim Kleinert in The Mountain Witch: “All conflict is a form of combat,” and no, that’s not accidentally backwards.

Or whatever
Physical design and appearance
Go with your guts
Start with a straight-up hack