This idea SCREAMS Storyteller to me. It's easy to default to a single race (i.e. no need for racial abilities), has a great way to select from a wide variety of skills and abilities, and, through it's associated mechanics (Humanity, Willpower, and so-forth) could be nicely shifted to things like Imagination, Belief, and other things that would give bears power.

It's also a gritty system that does dark and oppressive well (and you seem to like the grim interpretation): D&D and so-forth reach HERO MODE to quickly, and then all sense of grit is gone.

If you don't go with that (and I really think it works here), I'd recommend a Fate derivative. Fate is a really simple and flexible system that rewards player ingenuity, enforces character consistency (through the absolutely brilliant Aspect system), and is a light enough system that narrative flow becomes the primary driving factor in the game, while the Stunt selection can be tailored to really give players cool options (especially if you increase the number of Stunts gained).