Thank you for your very good questions.
- Actually I have 1 player who minds a bit (in a good way, it challenges my design choices). He doesn’t play 5e, but he still likes having more than 3 hits, variable damage on weapons and so on. I compensate this by giving my players a lot of narrative control over outcomes, and it does work nicely at the moment.
- This brings me to the next question. I agree that picking weapons and spells based on stats can be fun, but my game is more narrative focused. So players pick their weapons not based on damage dice, but based on what fits their character. Spells are low magic and are supposed to be used more like tools than weapons. For instance, a wizard ignites a bandit. I might not reduce the bandit to 0HP, but I will give players advantage on attacking that bandit. So wizards play more like support class. And I don’t follow enemies HP very strictly, if my players find a cool way to defeat them, they will most likely succeed. I don’t miss the granularity because my players won’t ask me “which die do I roll? how many?” and I won’t have to remember a bunch of stats for enemies.
- I don’t give XP. Characters get gold from dungeons and enemies, so they spend that on advancement. Buy new weapons, research spells, build a castle. It sounds silly because you can’t really advance if every weapon deals the same damage, but different weapons may give advantage vs certain enemies. Example: knight almost died while facing a ton of skeletons with his sword. the knight wants to test if skeletons have a weakness vs bludgeoning weapons. he buys himself a mace and voila, skeleton king defeated. I used milestone advancement before making this shift, so to me XP is already a very abstract concept.
- Combat is short because my players are very smart about tactical combat. Technically you would have 3-5 rounds before the enemies or characters go out of action. So combat is about 3 rounds on average. It’s really fast paced and I like that. Players look for any advantage they can gain.
- I roll 2d6, player rolls 2d6 + their advantages for skills, equipment and so on. Who rolls higher gets to narrate what happens. In combat the winner also deals 1 hit. If winner rolls 10 -> 2 hits, 12-> 3 hits. I’m still playtesting combat rules to make damage more variable, but I found this to be the most elegant solution so far without making a separate roll.
- Some players have trouble with the narrative freedom and choices they get. In my system you don’t get set options (for advancement, spells, and so on), and it is sometimes hard to get used to that. I think it is the GMs job to guide the players through their options at first and eventually they will get the hang of it and be a vital part of creating the narrative.
Having such a light ruleset this is borderline storygaming, and I know it is not for everyone. It is like 85% fiction, 15% system. I do like playing and dming more granular systems as you call them, but I always come back to relying on fiction more than numbers.
To me, the pre-d&d era of gaming is fascinating in the way you had limitless options, by having so few rules written down. If you are still interested I published (still WIP) the system I use on itch after almost a year of playing, adding and (mostly) subtracting rules. This really wouldn’t be possible without this post about Arnesonian gaming.
I hope I answered everything, but if you have any follow-up questions, feel free to ask.