Ok, I have historical games on the mind at the moment, and while there are one or two exceptions, it has really struck me that it is a vast, sucking black hole from which very little escapes.
Now, I figure some of this is inevitable. it's hard to insert magic/powers/whatever into a historical setting without that becoming the defining element of the setting ("It's musketeers, but with telepaths!") and that's a double hit. First, it removes a lot of the appeal for players who are looking for that, but it also removes potentially powerful thematic tools. After all, powers are usually one of the most direct enforcers of the theme of a game - if the Jedi didn't have the force to make their potential fall more painful, we'd have a much more grey story where one follows a philosophy because it's right or something equally crazy. :)
So maybe that "something else" is necessary for a game to really register with people. Maybe that absence alone is the death of the historical game. Still, I'd like to think that this isn't an insurmountable problem, and perhaps there's more to it than that.
So here's where I hit the frustration point - what historical games can we say have been successful by even some loose definition of the term? And how did they manage to pull it off?
PS - Obviously, there are many more questions that may stack on this, but it's got to start somewhere. The question of pseudo-historical games is a whoel other kettle of fish. :)