You'll want to skip this one if you're not interested in me spinning my wheels with regard to Role Playing games and the social quirks surrounding them.
I had some very interesting conversations with some friends following my semi-meltdown over the weekend. A lot of good points were mentioned, and some interesting perspectives were raised. As a side note: sometimes I just like to hear myself talk (read my writing, as the case may be) about role playing games.
One thing that occurred to me, and I was delighted to be able to put my finger onto, is ranking System vs Story. D&D is a classic example of System First, Story Second. When the dice come up against you, sometimes you're dead. Tough break. Of course, people fudge rolls and such, but as a system, and I think that in most groups, that's the way it is. The system IS the game. Again: classic D&D. It is a set of rules designed to mediate the killing of monsters and taking of treasure.
To differentiate, in Story First, System Second, the system takes a distant backseat to the story and the characters. The rules are just there to give us some structure, but not to overshadow or take away from the story. TSoY is a system which seems inherently to be Story First. It is designed to be there just so your game doesn't fall over on its ear. I try to use this even in our Werewolf game. This past session, one of the characters wanted to do something risky. Really risky. I rolled some dice to determine the consequences, and shared that result. I explained that she could go forward with what she wanted to do, but these are the consequences for that action. I left it up to her to decide if she wanted to go that route, or seek an alternative. I let the player decide how things would turn out, instead of letting the system decide. The system played a part in the decision, but the system was not the final arbitrator, which is the way I like it. We're collaborating to build a cohesive (and fun and interesting) story. Otherwise its a glorified system of rolling on charts and tables with flavor text scattered about.