Okay... so before I address some points made above, we should make sure we are all talking the same game.
1) I think all of us are edging towards a non battlemat, non miniature influenced game.
2) We are currently aiming for generic fantasy. I could go with that. I would propose a universal game so you can do anything with it, but we will start with fantasy and expand out.
2a) Related to this, I would stick to a point buy or direct selection system, rather than have any random elements. One, it allows for better crafting of characters. Two, players cheat or fudge on random rolls anyways, so why have random elements. Lastly, random systems are really good at delivering characters you don’t want to play. So lets us aim for a point buy or direct selection system.
3) I think to keep it in the comfort zone of all involved, we should keep it more towards the GM narative control, rather than player control. Yes this is a spectrum, 20 being the traditional D&D, 1 being Universalis for example. Most games where players can point buy (thus builiding aspects of the world with their flaws and gifts), still run around 13-16. House of the Blooded, 6. Fate, usually is run around 8-10. Most games with drama points systems still run around 10-11. So I would think we aim for the 11-14 range.
I would aim for a moderate to light crunch. So rather than having to detail out everything, we can define everything into categories (showing how they are used/ resolved). That way "traits" of a given type can have a general resolution track, that can be spun by the actual trait and the use of a drama point system.
If we are not stealing compells, invokes, and fate points, which I am not inclined to do, we need a balancing factor, especially if we are aiming towards a selection and .
I am all for a drama point system. Been using it in one form or another since 1980. Drama point system should give you the basics of rerolls, but we can allow additions to reality (minor scene setting), rather than redefining reality. Again, see the continuum above.
Dark Dragon proposed no attributes, so no innate edge in an aspect. That would leave us with skillabilities, possibly augmented with gifts and flaws. That works for me. It does mean there will have to be baseline values for various aspects.
Now DD said flaws do not balance they add. Bogus. If they are not a flaw, then they are not limiting your character enough.. not being used enough... Flaw sets, as well as gifts, define the way you can do things. They should provide focus for the game, defining what you character can and can't do, and penalizing you in advancement (or lack of drama points) if you don't follow through with them. (We are in violent agreement in some of these bits, just different view on them).
Flaws add to play. Games with flaws (and gifts) alll for more interesting play, like characters in novels with flaws are more interesting. Anyone can conquer the world with Superman, can you do it with a blind, deaf, mute parapalegic?
That said, they do not add to characters. Otherwise, you will get people taking odd traits that they can "edge" all the time. Oh sure, overconfident is flaw, yet I can going to use it every time to ring out every edge for "going for it".
Risus also taught us that flaws as pro traits can be totally a rip.
Roleplaying a flaw is a requirement. Roleplaying is a requirement. If you aren't roleplaying every aspect of your character, then you should be penalized.
Now about DD's view about backgrounds.
I think you missed the point completely. I want the character's culture to define everyman skills and define certain abilities that they would have. Otherwise a Frenchman is exactly the same as a Scotsman.
I want a character's culture to have an impact upon them.
I want a character's family to have an impact upon them.
I want the character's childhood to have an impact.
I want the character's early apprenticeship/ training to impact them.
I want every cycle of the character's life impact them. So if they have had 3 cycles post their apprenticeship, they can have a war impact them, they can have a relationship impact then, jobs impact them.. and so on.
I want their background (and their response to it) to provide a foundation for the character. So rather than a random selection of points, I want them built up by their history. (You should like that DD, you have played fate/fudge). So no longer will you have to explain, where that 14- slight of hand came from that you plugged onto the character. Your character’s history helps you define what you choose.
As for you bagging on Gift of Strength, it is a generic simple category. We could count it as a feat or a trait or a gift… It was an example. Sure you can get more descriptive, but if the trait relates to Strength and only has one trait/ level associated with it.. it is just as strong. I could have Kryptonian Strength as a trait and it would still only count as one trait for resolution, even though Kryptonian strength should allow me to move mountains. Troll Strength, Iron Muscles, Gift of the North, or what ever, it is still a single rank towards strength. We are in violent agreement here.
About Cards for resolution. It has worked (Castle Falkenstein and Lace and Steel) and failed epically (Marvel Super Heroes III, Torg (well mixed result)and a couple of others). Using them as dice replacements is just another random number generator, eh? Okay. Using them and their colors/ suits, adding depth to resolution, yes. Using them to randomly give you experience advantages (or flaws) that had nothing to do with your adventures up to this point (So we have been out in the wilderness, getting orcs for a local lord and Now I have the King’s ear?.. nope).
Now a “card” defining your ability, much the way Savage World writes one word/ phrase and it means your character has this paragraph of rules stuff; that has merit, but it comes back to the degree of crunch and how defined things have to be. (Gurps is my ax to grind about this. GURPs has all these pieces to get, you can only have what is defined in the books. Hero went with a more generic approach with more width per skill. While it has defined abilities, it is not as nearly as finely graded as GURPs ). I like general categories that you can then spin with a trait, redefining it better for the setting and your character.
Also, do people not know that Knighthood is not a job, it is a social position? So you can be a Rank one Fighter, and be a Knight, or a Mercenary, or a Squire. A knight background would unlock heraldry, riding, and some of that. Mercenary would unlock up languages, scrounging, and survival. Squire, much the same as Knight. Knight is a social position, not a class/ Archetype you earn and the get all these abilities. You are who you are, then you might qualify to be a knight. (Knights tend to have the certain equipment because with the background came a degree of wealth that let them buy the “state of the art” equipment.)