Rym and Scott of GeekNights (www.frontrowcrew.com) 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 videogames. 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.
If you enjoy this, many more of our lectures from other conventions are available on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD03FB084B11A0454