One of the great things about a solid "sim" game is the emergent gameplay the experience generates. We had this with the Aftermath game back in the day, and I have this with GURPS today. You get into melee combat, and you get all sorts of exciting situations to come up when your character gets their hand stabbed and needs to fight with the other, a goblin gets stunned and falls off a cliff, and the game's "sim system" generates a story for you.
If you can slog through the rules, the system rewards you.
Then we move to the "hot thing" in many games today, with many random tables. Emergent gameplay is created through table results, which enforce a theme and mood depending on what can happen. One of my favorite games in this genre is Dungeon Crawl Classics, and I love the tables in this game - with one huge caveat:
The tables are not an endpoint; they are a starting point.
Given what a table result gives me, I am free to replace it with a similar effect from my imagination or better appropriate for the situation. Once you start to know the tables and the dice ranges, this gets easier to "break away" from the charts - and it enhances the feeling and mystery of magic once you do.
I know why we need charts - they surprise us and break our habits. Play too much of games with too many rules, and your imagination goes away.
But there is a danger where charts shackle us and limit our imagination. I have a rule, I never roll twice on a chart. If the first result I get does not excite me - I must make something new. I can use the result as inspiration or ask myself, "what would be the most fun?" And "most fun" can be harmful too if the chart produces a negative result, like "what is the worst thing that could happen?"
So in comes Cypher System. A game I did not understand and sat on the shelf for months feeling like a mistake. I even had this boxed up at one point.
Oh, I was wrong about this.
This is a game where "making it up" is the rule. I rolled a one-use cypher, an "attractor," which I think is a magnetic thing, and it did not make sense for the character. Keep the result and let the player figure it out, right? I had that "not happy" feeling, so I asked myself, "what else can attract things?"
A bottle of pheromones, perfume, cologne, or scent.
Then I had it. This was the most fun thing, and it had very little to do with the chart result - but it worked incredibly well. The player was happy, I was delighted, and we had an excellent, new, one-use item to play with that felt great.
I could have easily made this something else that "attracts," like a flare gun, signal beacon, homing tracker, a pistol that shoots a market dye pellet, magnetic glue, charming attitude, magnetic personality, irresistible advertisement, or anything else that attracts X to Y. On the flip side, I could have taken the opposite word, made a "repulsor" item, and potentially doubled my potential creative inspirations.
Then I stepped back, realizing I could do that for any die roll, result, or action in the game.
I know, it sounds silly.
But play too many games with strict rules that limit your creativity and too many charts that tell you only a few results are possible, and suddenly you aren't thinking for yourself anymore.
You are following what is written in a book.
And never going beyond that.
The authentic "emergent gameplay" exists in your head, and no amount of rules or charts can replace it.