Most designers I know seem primarily concerned with covering player choices and fictional developments. In other words, "What do you do?" and "What happens?" This is, of course, necessary, but it omits an issue that's pretty important to me when it comes to having fun at the table, namely, "How do we experience that?" If you choose and act and suffer in a boring way, I will not be thrilled. "So don't play with boring people," is a common reply, but I feel I could just as easily say, "Don't play with poor deciders and clueless GMs," to people who design rules for choices and outcomes. To me, it's the same thing -- most people who want to roleplay already have some ability to do everything roleplaying requires on their own, and games are there to help them do parts of it better. Just as Dogs in the Vineyard may produce more dramatic situations, meatier choices, and impactful outcomes, I'd love to play a game which produces more dramatic character-acting, meatier scene description, and impactful verbal pacing.
Puppetland and Swords Without Master put the spotlight on the talking in interesting ways -- both give you a chance to shine with your performance, but I don't think they particularly lead you to shine if you weren't inclined to already.
I bet various LARPs have good tools for this, but I haven't seen much luck porting LARP techniques to tabletop as is.
So, the first thing that comes to mind is using the bribe of Character Success. It's a technique that I'm pretty tired of -- giving the player a bonus to some character action they want to succeed at, in exchange for buying trouble or tying in a belief or saying how it impacts their lover, or whatever it is the game values. I'm tired of it, but it works, and most folks seem to accept it, so hey, if it could get me what I want, I'll use it.
So here's my question:
If your arch-enemy is about to press the button, and I give you a +1 to your big dramatic sword swing for each of the following, which of them would you actually do without hating them?
- show (don't tell) how this is important to your character
- narrate a brief cutaway to a prior moment that adds meaning to the current action
- help us visualize how your sword swing looks
- help us hear your character's voice
- warp time -- either speed up or slow down from the current pace
- frame a shot -- of the established elements in the scene, tell us which are foreground, which are background, what angle do we see them from, etc.
- repeat a motif -- describe an object or action in such a way that that same thing has been described before
- dynamic volume -- go loud or quiet to heighten the mood
- request any of the above from the GM or another player, and then incorporate it into your own narration
Feel free to add things to the list if you think of them!