This is a good one! Okay, let me see if I can do this in under 500 words.
When it comes to tabletop RPGs I have three guiding principles:
Everyone needs something to do.
The rules are a tool, not a weapon.
The story is king.
So, let’s pull from my Star Trek Adventures module because that’s both pretty recent and has an excellent built in mechanic that means everyone has to get something to do.
The basic plot is this; the characters’ ship is diverted to a Medical Starbase to aid in its 200th Anniversary celebrations. While there they become friendly with the station CO whose grandmother famously stopped a seemingly insurmountable plague. The only problem is, her granddaughter is convinced she may have done something terribly wrong…
The first act is all on the Starbase and has side quests for Security officers, Medical officers getting the lay of the land, a juicy bit of plot for Scientific officers and a couple of problems that tie them and Command staff altogether. Everyone needs something to do.
The second act sees an Orion commando whose relatives were lost in the plague steal the alien artefact (A satellite codenamed ‘breadcrumb 1’ or BC1) and use it to try and trace the rogue planet she, and Starfleet are convinced the plague originated from. Again, lots for everyone to do and a couple of crunch situations. The ship will have to sneak across the Orion border. It may be caught and that may lead to a major diplomatic incident.
But it doesn’t HAVE to be.
Likewise there’s an opportunity for characters to take serious damage if they do something stupid but not if they do something wrong. If your players are awake and paying attention, they’ll not screw up, have fun solving problems and the adventure will continue. The rules are a tool not a weapon.
The final one is actually where I hit some chop on this module. I got over excited and rigged it so you could play the original act 2 (The station is taken over) as act 3 (Plague planet) or vice versa. My editors very smartly pointed out that didn’t work, we made it more linear and the adventure was far stronger as a result. The story is king.
So there you go. My work is narrative specific, emphasizes fun and adventure over number crunching and tries to give everyone a good time. And all that in 436 words too!