Promise is the expectation of a role-playing game that is set by the game's art, text, marketing, etc., i.e. by the published parts of a game's system excluding its rules or the experience of play. A game's promise is a factor in its marketability, but also contributes to the player experience that the game delivers.
While game designers may have a design goal or type of experience that their game is intended to deliver, this is distinct from the game's promise, which is specific to each individual who reads the game. As such, it is impossible to guarantee that all readers of a game will have the same expectations (promise) for a game, and designers shouldn't try too hard to capture a single idea of what the game promises.
A game's promise may be kept (if the experience of playing it meets a player's expectations) or unkept. Whether a promise is kept or not may depend on the game's rules, other elements of its system, and on the culture of play of the specific group who are participating.
- Epidiah Ravachol (2020-06-27). Thread: "I've got this thing, a relationship to certain roleplaying games, that I call the unkept promise.". Twitter. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
- Rob Donoghue (2020-06-30). "Excellent thread, and I'd probably state it more strongly - I think the promise is part of every game.". Twitter. Retrieved 2020-06-30.