Faithful listener Bradford Walker takes home the comment gold with this treasure trove of gaming wisdom:
D&D 3.X: The other big thing that makes it comparable to Magic is the exception-based design, which Magic made a big deal. You have a handful of baseline mechanics and operations, from which you made exceptions as a way of making substantial in the mechanics the various fantasy elements of the game. (e.g. the various Improved (Combat Maneuver) Feats). Its strong use of associated mechanics also helps."Exception-based design" elegantly sums up a concept that I'd long found difficult to articulate. After playing and GMing for years, it wasn't until I tried my hand at designing games that I recognized how many special abilities boil down to giving characters leeway to break the core rules.
I'll leave you with another gem from Mr. Walker.
Motivation: Most games train players to be passive, to let the game-and in TRPGs, the GM--do the leading. They don't see themselves as the shot-caller, and often aren't in real life either, so they wait for someone else to tell them what to do or so on. Getting just one of the players to show up with a plan, to have an objective to pursue that isn't handed to them by the GM or the game, is all you need to start showing the other players how to make the TRPG experience a thing distinct from other RPGs and maybe see that they carry this over to real life. Entrepreneur mentality is very rewarding in this medium, and is a thing to be encouraged.Listen to the episode here.