A follow-up to this post inspired by Scott's comments - thanks Scott!
Here's something else about games with clear procedures in the text vs. games that assume you'll have your own set of procedures.
Games with clear procedures:
different games with different procedures lead to different play experiences
A corollary (I found is out the hard way): with games that have clearly laid out procedures, it doesn't always work to mix 'n' match. That is, Trollbabe (1) breaks down responsibility over the various scales of game play in a certain way and (2) makes sure that its mechanics "fit" within this set procedure, but the way Trollbabe does (1) might not work for a game with a different set of mechanics: they won't fit.
Example: I tried to port the Trollbabe Stakes/Consequences scenario creation procedure to a game of The Shadow of Yesterday and the result was a game that fizzled. Trollbabe has a great set of procedures for setting up games of Trollbabe, with all that entails in terms of setting, characters, and system. The Shadow of Yesterday requires different scenario prep procedures - ones that are tied more directly into the characters, their cultural backgrounds, and their keys.
Games where you use your own set of procedures:
different games with the same procedures lead to the same (or very similar) play experiences
When playing AD&D 2nd ed. back in the early 1990s, as a group, we stumbled upon procedures for making the game work for us. Like: as GM I'd have responsibility for framing scenes, creating adversity, moving things along; players had responsibility for playing their characters (of course), but also creating subplots and pushing the action forward. Once we settled into these procedures, the game worked and we had fun, but two problems spring to mind: (1) it took some time of us fumbling around, (2) because these were emergent, unarticulated procedures there was always the looming danger of social grief caused by stepping over the invisible lines (for instance, when I would make a decision that screwed up a player's idea for their subplot), and (3) as our ad-hoc procedures developed we started ignoring/altering part of the game's rules that didn't really fit (i.e., we started drifting the game).
Now, issue (1) wasn't really a big deal at the time (because we had lots of it), but, nowadays, I prefer less stumbling. Issue (2) might always be a problem in any kind of social activity, but having something explicitly laid out means it's easier to avoid "grief landmines". Issue (3) isn't really a problem (especially if you're always playing with the same group of people), but...
Later, after we had wrapped up the AD&D 2nd ed. game, we started playing Amber DRPG and we brought the same procedures we had developed playing AD&D with us. We started playign Amber by trying to fit it into how we already played. It turned out this worked really well, but it also meant that we ended up ignoring lots of the Amber DRPG rules, right from the beginning.
Hey - the posts by Ron Edwards in this thread go into a lot more detail about some of these issues and brings up another good "question I want the game to answer": "What is the relationship between the group of players and the group of characters?"