Lumpley, I was talking to some other dork about blorby game design and he said something similar to what you said the other day: with a very stripped down rules core very few things have to be salient.
And the game they proposed sounded to my ears similar to a game he wasn’t familiar with—Three Sixteen. Where the amount of enemy aliens that the PCs are fighting is wallpaper and can be improvised but the danger level of the group is salient and is represented by an amount of threat tokens.
And I’m like that’s all within the letter of the blorb principles, it addresses symmetry, but… the awesomeness of the blorb is that it moderates not only symbolic representation (your “dice”), which many games can do… it can also moderate diegetic representation (your “cloud”), which only few games can do.
From B4 The Lost City (good blorby example of what I want)
The door to the room, as usual, will swing shut unless held or jammed open. In each corner of the room are small holes that release gas into the room. The gas trap is triggered by opening the door. The gas is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. An elf or thief has a 50% chance to hear the hiss of escaping gas.
The gas will take one round to build up in the closed room before doing any damage. During this round the characters will feel a little dizzy. Each round after the first, the gas does 1 point of damage. When they start taking damage, the party will realize it is getting hard to breathe. Rags or iron spikes jammed into the holes will stop the gas from filling the room. If both the room’s door and the secret door are jammed open, the gas will escape without harming the party.
In another game design, this could’ve read
“Gas Trap, DC 12 to detect, DC 18 to disarm, ATK +7 / 4 dmg”. Everything salient is there, the stats, and then the specific location and mechanism for the trap can be improvised wallpaper since the players can’t meaningfully interact with it. In that game, they can only
disarm the trap by making that DC 18 roll and they can only detect it by making that DC 12 roll.
So what this is telling me is that a necessary but hitherto underdiscussed component for blorb is:Rules that have diegesis as input, not just symbols as input.
(Iow diegetical positioning needs to matter.)
Examples mechanics include finchian trap finding and lawsian talking.