Nice write-up. Though in my opinion it only highlights potential problems that can be dealt with and does not provide an ultimate answer. As a designer I want to be the author and the player roleplays his character. It doesn't matter if he designs his character himself or if I give one to him. It is his task to interprete the character and act out the story in that manner. The strategy layer should be flexible enough to allow different characters and interpretations to be successful. The story sets the frame for the strategy and gives it importance. And the strategy involves the player so that he is more tied to the story than a mere reader. Your queen example is wrong in this part since I don't want the story choice to be a strategic choice. It is ment to be a false choice (*) from a strategic point of view, but only provide flavor and allow for roleplaying. (*it is a high art to soften this up and include story choices that matter (**) without pushing your players to game the system, I prefer false choices over badly written choices that matter) (**if you are interested I can describe how good story choices that matter should look like imo, they are not really required though) Finally on to your tldr, I don't play to play myself and I doubt many people do. Give me a character (e.g. you are this young elf in this fantasy world, your know this stuff, like this and hate that ...) and then I try to forget who I am and instead act as the character would. I prefer if you give me a character since otherwise my characters usually turn out similar and boring.