Rym and Scott of Geeknights appeared on two panels at MAGFest X, and also performed this lecture: Beyond Dungeons & Dragons. Herein, they discuss the nature of role playing games, what their mechanics really mean, how they affect play, and why D&D is probably not the best system for the kinds of games you’re trying to play.
There is a huge catalog of “indie” tabletop RPGs just as there is for video games. Burning Wheel, Dogs in the Vineyard, Inspectres, Lacuna, A Thousand and One Nights, Mouse Guard, Prime Time Adventures, Pendragon, Freemarket, Dread, Kagematsu, Apocalypse World, these are a TINY smattering of the possibilities. Play the game that affords the play style best suited to your story, not the one everyone just happens to know the rules for.