So, we've got brand new players who've never LARPed before, some have never table-topped before. They watch pop culture, pseudo-historical, low fantasy, and high fantasy. They come to this stuff with no systemic baggage. It's almost a complete blank slate to work with.
They've barely been introduced to mechanisms in play, things like counting your hit points. Things like losing your limbs if you've been struck in a fight. They've been made aware that things like magic can be replicated by spell balls being thrown.
I'm looking at a system where characters start fairly simply, with generic abilities based on the fundamental abilities of the players portraying them. But over the course of several games they incrementally gain additional powers, and ways to interact with the deeper elements beyond the surface of the game. The whole idea here is that players can pick up the abilities and edges that facilitate an easier interaction with the elements of the game that interest them. Combatants gain new ways to inflict injury or do quirky things in combat, potential manipulators gain ways to subversively get other player characters to do their bidding (through introducing their own storylines and agendas), mystics gain ways to create magic items and invoke forces that might not be so easy to replicate without a bit of imagination. I'm thinking of a tree with numerous inter-twining branches, perhaps more like a figtree or tendrilled vine where some branches rejoin further up the plant.
There's no single linear path for the characters, but a general tendency for gathering power and the direction of that power is purely up to the player. Sometimes they may find that they'll need to take a lateral step to get where they need to go, but that's all a part of the twisting, turning, and the meandering journey of life.
Too many times I've seen freeform systems that lack focus, and these can be overwhelming to new players who just don't know which way to turn. Conversely I've seen rigid template systems where players might want to take their character in an interesting but unsupported direction...only to be told "NO".
I want versatility, but versatility that brings a tendency toward certain story injecting elements. So lots of little classes that can be completed and provide the benefits necessary to move into a range of more advanced classes...a bit like the 5 level prestige classes back in D&D3.0/3.5, or more specifically like the careers in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying. Of course, the difference here is that we want the basic characters actually succeed in this game unlike the grim-dark of Warhammer.