Right. I don't know what being "neutral" at the content creation stage could even mean. In running the game stage it at least makes some sense, and having well established principles and lot of prep lessens the judgement calls the GM has to make. Still, I don't think it can completely eliminate them, and I think even in a well prepared dungeon the GM has to make a lot of decisions about how to describe (and thus possibly telegraph) things what sorts of tactics the NPCs will use etc. And once we get to outside of well defined areas such as dungeons into the wide world with countless people and places comprehensive prep simply cannot exist.I think that what @Crimson Longinus is getting at is that, since it’s presumably the DM who’s designing the prepared content and the random tables, there’s really no avoiding making a conscious decision about how difficult the content will be, or at least how difficult it’s likely to be in the case of random tables. Was EGG being neutral when he designed the Tomb of Horrors specifically to thwart players?
I think it might be beneficial to distinguish between neutrality when running the game and neutrality when designing the content. I think the neutral referee/blorb style tends to be focused much more on the former than the latter, which is kind of what I was getting at in my earlier comment about it being possible to run a system that favors the players in a neutral way - the likely result being that the players will win more often than not. Likewise, one can run a very difficult, arguably even unfair dungeon like Tomb of Horrors in a neutral way, the likely result being that the characters will all die long before reaching the end. Both are “fair game” so to speak in the context of blorb play. The point is to present the content and to resolve the players’ attempts to engage with it as impartially as possible, whether that content be designed to be easy, hard, or even a challenge tailored specifically to their capabilities.
I think establishing such things like blorb principles (where does this term come from?) can certainly be enormously beneficial for running the game in disciplined manner, but at the same time I feel it is important to recognise the limitations even the most strident prep and principles, and that the GM cannot, nor should not, disown their responsibility about decision making.