Which game mechanic inspires your play style?
‘Play to find out what happens’.
This might be a bit cheeky, but I think it counts. It’s basically a philosophy of running the game but is still pretty much a mechanic. Monsterhearts, Apocalypse World and Dungeon World were a massive change in my perspective about how games work and how they’re run.
I’ve already mentioned giving narrative agency to the players, but also letting the systems and the themes help dictate what happens can be quite freeing. In PbtA games, the moves performed on the failure or partial successes of the players allow the plot to happen in oft-unexpected ways. The same goes with the direction players’ action scenes in 7th Sea can go, or the aspects in Fate. A game can massively swerve off the original course and still be fun, it can even make a whole story in a kind of zen way. Lovecraftesque still does this best in my opinion, as players all make the mystery together at the same time. Tall Pines came close, although it seems to be fine with you not really solving the mystery at the end, potentially. We’ve not played the game to its conclusion, but it looks like it’s a game which builds a mystery, has you run through it and might be fine with a good conclusion, even if it’s not complete. I’m not sure yet, but will write it up when we try it again.