Once the dice were out of the way it opened the door to several discussions that happened pretty much simultaneously, so keep that in mind. One very important point we went back and forth on was a simple one to achieve consensus on but hard to enact. This was the idea that AE should use one single mechanic for all conflict resolution. Whether you were rolling to hit something, breaking bonds, picking a lock, casting a spell, using an herb, tracking someone across the tundra, etc. and so on, it should be via one mechanic. That took us some time and work, not to mention rework as we built each section to make that stay cohesive. Speaking of we had this idea that the system should be modular and each piece should tightly coupled with one another. This tool box type of approach would allow you to ratchet on or take off pieces without damaging the whole system. Which it does, though it took some elbow grease. You can easily drop pieces and play the game just fine.
Don't want magic in your game? Drop the magic system. Want to do away with the cultures and their influence? Away they go. Either way the game would march on. Same goes for the paths, martial arts, alchemy and other parts.
I write this and realize I summarized several years worth of work into a few sentences...its humbling, let me tell you. I pasted those two ideas above my work station and stared at them often. So often that I cringed every time I sent the new portions to the alpha testers--I knew they were going to find areas where I had strayed from the baseline ideas of one mechanic and to make it modular and cohesive. It was a tremendous and sometimes painful journey that I hope everyone enjoys.
More to come in the next one.