I am looking for structuring rules, all of these you know, you can pile here.
By structuring rules, I mean : rules, verbal (“freeform”) or numerical (“mechanics”) or both, that structure a session, adventure or campaign. I am not looking for a fixed structure that the players have to enforce, but for rules that make structure emerge.
Playing only no-prep, I exclude from the search : railroading, modules or sandbox with a gradient of difficulty. Intuitive continuity, where you let players go wherever they wish only to drop your prep in front of them, is acceptable, but only if the rule is more than hastily disguised railroad.
I’ll give a few examples :
- character arcs : quests in Chuubo’s, ascend/fall in Law’s out!, selling keys after a few uses in TSoY / SolarSystem / LadyB, all gauges that bring characters toward an end. Like, if there was an IceCube the RPG, the thawing pool.
- dramatic arcs :
- mission type games, scenarios are “open” (not even in the rules) or “freeform” (verbalized in the rules) that. Briefing, casing, heisting, taking the heat : that’s a structure you go through with ease, as if it was developing itself.
- all gauges that affect the whole table, often by raising stakes or increasing difficulty : cards in Mesopotamians, clocks in PbtA and FitD.