How do you actually go about learning a system? Is there even a single path that works best?
I know that I keep giving somewhat contradictory advice to the three players with no roleplaying experience and a fourth that only knows D&D 4.0. On one hand, I shared with them copies of my ebooks (with the instruction that they eventually need to buy their own), telling them that, fundamentally, they just need to read the four core rulebooks at some point--excluding, perhaps, classes/races that aren't their own, spells they can't cast, etc. But, in short; here is a ton of material, and you need to read most of it. Which, for me at least, is a lot of content and charts going in one ear and out the other.
But I know I've also said the exact opposite to several people on several occasion: Just try and at least partially understand what a skill check is, try and somewhat know what your race and class let you do, and we'll learn the rest as we go. Which, for me at least, is a lot of mid-combat facts and tidbits going in one ear and out the other.
Which means, for me at least, the encyclopedic system knowledge that many in this community seem to have mostly eludes me, and I'm one of the senior roleplayers in our new campaign.
But that's just one system. All of the above is Pathfinder. I really don't get how people can keep such a knowledge of D&D, Vampire/Masquerade, Call of Cthulhu, Traveler, Shadowrun, etc. simultaneously. I've been playing League of Legends almost every night for 9 months now, and I can barely remember builds for 3-4 champions at a time. I think I just suck in the memory department.
So srsly guize. How did/do you do it?