A thought from Story-Games on how to achieve a certain amount of “success” with running an
indie rpg with your friends, and that is this:
There is a minimum amount of creative enthusiasm that needs to brought to the table, socially, by all the players, to make the game work, and that creative enthusiasm needs to be directed toward the thing that the game you’re playing does. It’s what the Original Poster calls the Social Mandate.
In In a Wicked Age, the Social Mandate is the conflict between characters (and, to a lesser degree, the anthology of short stories that results from play). People need to be interested in and excited about the conflict of everyone’s Best Interests and WANT to put that into play. Without that social fuel, the engine dies.
In My Life with Master the power dynamic between The Minion and The Master has to be interesting to the players on an authorial level *first*.
The Individual Wants vs. Community Needs problem in Dogs in the Vineyard has to be compelling to the players *first*.
The play of Trust against the backdrop of Dark Fates in a small group has to be interesting to the players or a Mountain Witch game chokes and dies.
To take it out of the indie realm (which is why I crossed the word out…
The challenge of smart tactical battle play and resource management has to be appealing to players for DnD (or Warhammer) to really sing. Yes, you can roleplay in the game, and have fun doing so, but if you’re not into the kind of combat style that the game supports, you’re roleplay will be spread between loooong stretches of your own boredom.