From "The Aims of the System:"
Despite any pretension we may possess about what a roleplaying game is, the aims involved in the game and what makes such a game good—Saga Machine is at its core pragmatic. Get a game. Get people playing it. Have a good time. In order to accomplish this we've set forth a few goals in its design.
When in doubt we've endeavored to keep things simple. This makes the game quicker to learn and quicker to play. In our experience not everyone adapts equally well to games that require large amounts of number crunching or referencing of the rules in the book. This can lead to disproportionate amounts of time figuring things out.
In its simplest form, and once the system has been learned, we've attempted to make Saga Machine playable entirely from memory by most people, with no referencing of the book.
In designing the system we have attempted to make the game scale nicely. That is, we have tried to make Saga Machine flow smoothly and quickly, whether you have two characters involved in a scene or twenty characters.
Unlike some systems that bog down once you have half a dozen combatants acting each round in combat, Saga Machine has a wealth of options and rules that allow our combat system (and other systems) to handle conflicts ranging from two people to thousands.
Saga Machine aims to be "universal." That means we aim for it to be just as capable of running medieval fantasy campaigns as it is for running space opera campaigns, survival horror campaigns or any other number of common role-playing game genres.
The catch is that not every game focuses on the same aspects of characters, the same sorts of situations and stuff like that.
Thus we have our next aim...
Face it: not every game needs a full-fledged system for measuring a character's mental state. Not every genre needs a complex system for gaging a character's physical health and combat capability. Because of this simple fact, Saga Machine offloads as much of these contextual sub-systems as possible into optional modules. When starting a new Saga Machine campaign, the GM may decide to make use of any combination of these modules she feels fits the campaign. This allows the game to progress smoothly without being bogged down by unnecessary rules for everything under the sun.
This book later presents five modules that may see use in most popular role-playing genres.
Enabling of Choices
Role-playing games differ from other mediums such as books or plays in that the events in a role-playing game are not pre-scripted; in such a game the player characters always have a choice in how they can act and what they do. The medium is interactive. This is one of the strengths of role-playing games as a medium and one of the reasons that many people find such games to be fun. Saga Machine attempts to embrace this aspect of the role-playing medium, emphasizing character choice and enabling a style of play where player choices matter.