The obvious, and I suspect universal, answer here is “It should be fun.”

Assuming we can agree on that, when you look at a game’s core rules, what element or elements are most important in leading you to think, “Yeah, this could be a fun game”?

Personally, I’ve always been a core resolution mechanic kind of guy. I look at the baseline mechanic, which tells me what kind of game I’m holding, and then at the other mechanics around it. I also read the “What’s this game about?” section, if there is one, and flip through the whole book to get an overall feel for the game.

Over on ars ludi, though, Ben Robbins points out that the first thing you should look at is the character sheet, not the core mechanic. And you know what? I think he’s absolutely right — there’s a wealth of information in any character sheet, and it sounds like a great shortcut. I plan to give this a shot in a day or two when my copy of the Star Wars RPG: Saga Edition arrives.

So how about — when you pick up an RPG, what signals “fun” to you?