So I'm writing this roleplaying game for my girlfriend. We're looking for a rules-medium fantasy game that we can pick up and play one-on-one with very minimal prep, get through a whole story in an evening if we want, but extend to longer-term campaign play if we're enjoying the way things are going. Basically, we want D&D without the homework but with a little extra "story stuff".
She likes learning and mastering rules, that whole idea of "ooh, if I take ability X and class feature Y, I'll totally kick ass at Z!" So this game definitely needs a good-sized list of concrete abilities to choose from. Which is cool, because those are fun to make up.
She also likes making up characters -- not in an RPG sense, but in a writing sense. We've worked on some collaborative writing projects together, and she's just great at throwing together complex, believable characters at the drop of a hat. We talked about player-created attributes in games (cliches in Risus, specifically) and she really liked the idea of coming up with personality traits, goals, background stuff, etc. and having them actually make a mechanical difference, rather than the "numbers on one side of the sheet, description on the other" that you get in D&D. So this game also definitely needs to incorporate some kind of "make up your own stats" feature.
What I'm concerned about is how to incorporate both preset and player-created attributes without either overshadowing the other. Does anyone have any ideas on how to strike a good balance between the two, or experience with games that do it well?