Two comments:The upthread discussion about GM-as-referee, in conjunction with @loverdrive's comment about Apocalypse World, makes me think that there are two ways the GM can orchestrate conflict:
(1) In advance of play, by authoring the puzzle/gauntlet/challenge.(2) During play, by a process of framing and consequence-narration.
In case (1), the overarching rule that governs the GM during play must be follow through on what you've authored. The GM needs to be unflinching in this respect. (Here, I depart from what I said in the OP about "the unwelcome" not seeming applicable in this sort of play. I think that was wrong.) There are also very strict rules that apply to the pre-play authorship phase: the puzzle/gauntlet/challenge has to be, in some sense, beat-able. Because parts of it are not only hidden, but operate on the basis of "logical extrapolation within the fiction", the process of extrapolation must be sufficiently knowable to and learnable by the players that they can, if they pay attention and play well, beat the challenge. I continue to believe that this puts significant limits on what the fiction can involve, as per my (and @AdbulAlhazred's) posts upthread, as well as in other past threads.
Players in case (1) have an incentive to minimize the risks to their characters, as part of the process of beating the challenge. This means that case (1) play is unlikely to produce a story in the literary/aesthetic sense, for two reasons:
(a) The characters risk being somewhat incoherent, being risk-minimisers locally (always poking with their 10' poles, etc) but ludicrous risk takers in their overarching goals (always taking on these puzzles/gauntlets/challenges with insane kill rates). We can lampshade this by imagining that all our 1st level wizards also have the personalities of extreme sports enthusiasts, but I think the characters remain a bit weird.(b) The better the players play, the less that the game will produce rising action => climax/crisis => resolution. Although, in the fiction, the situation might involve intense physical stress and drama, at the table the challenge is essentially intellectual (like most other table-top games). And intellectual puzzle solving simply doesn't produce that narrative structure. It's true that in some cases there will be the thrill of the dice roll, but skilled play tries to minimise dependence on lucky rolls.
(a) is indeed an interesting source of tension, and one way to resolve it is to recognize that the player's goals are not the character's goals and get the players OOC to buy into a scenario. We had some discussion upthread about starting in medias res, but there are other ways to frame scenarios too, such as getting players to agree to a scenario where, despite their characters' intentions merely to buy cargo low and sell high elsewhere, they will find themselves shipwrecked somewhere interesting, where there's both treasure and danger to be found, as well as a way to repair or replace their ship. That way they can be risk-minimizers both locally and globally, if that's the roleplaying choice they want to make.
(b) I don't want to assume I know what you mean when you say "The better the players play, the less that the game will produce rising action => climax/crisis => resolution." The words after that indicate that you might be using some kind of Forge jargon: that it's not enough to have a climax of the sort that will naturally occur when addressing a challenge (like impressing the natives with your halfling-cooking skills enough that they'll help you fix your boat and get Lost Pete's Buried Treasure out of the Dinojungle). It sounds like there's an additional meaning there, that you have to experience certain emotions as well at moments of decision. Is that correct?
At any rate I want to say that emotions (unlike gameplay) can be generated retroactively in the retelling, even independently of the GM! That time your PC lost an arm to a marilith's lucky crit may not at the time have generated a lot of emotional commentary beyond, "oh no, Grewishka's out! what do we do now?" but as you're writing Grewishka's journal entry for the day, awkwardly and left-handed, feel free to retroactively reinterpret imaginary portents ("I saw a crow this morning, the same crow I've been seeing for the past week, always staring at me with a queer gaze that makes my arm ache") or your own reaction to the events of play. "I stared down at my own arm, lying there on the floor, and felt overcome by not grief or loss, but rage. 'I. Was. USING THAT!' I screamed at the marilith, and began hammering it with my shield, somehow heedless of the pain. Even now I still feel oddly like myself despite the loss. Perhaps I am more than just a sword."