Being as D&D is a Role-Playing Game, there is a basic assumption that a player (that is you) will engage in that wondrous endeavor of playing the game - in character.
In reality, I have seen this one little assumption send more prospective players fleeing for the hills! What is it about role-playing that scares people so much? Think about it:
The rules? Can't be, Installing stereos is more difficult by far.
The math? Nope, your checkbook quivers in terror, awaiting it's next ruthless balancing.
The concept? Doubt it, You think Frodo did it wrong and can to prove it!
But for some reason folks seem to get all kinds of weird when you put them in a room with 6 others (there for the same reason) and ask them to pretend to be their piece of paper...Why is this? Tell a newbie gamer that they need to "act like their character" and immediately they begin to emit fear smell.
This is because, as much as some would reduce role-playing to a longer or shorter list of skills, we all know that there is more to it than that. The skills give an excellent MECHANICAL reference, but leave much to be desired in their implementation.
Should a bluff check be as simple as rolling high on a d20? Or should it require a complex interaction between the DM and all party members that wish to assist? On the other hand, does every single interaction require 20 minutes of grumble and banter before we finally chuck the dice and allow lady luck to make her preference known?
I'd like my group to grow towards that mythical point where everyone walks into the room, secures food and beverage, and then transforms from HARRY, THE WEAK-WILLED INSURANCE CLAIMS ADJUSTER, KEEPER OF THE BLOODY DENIAL STAMP, AND PROTECTOR (IN RESIDENCE) OF HIS MOTHER
HROTHGAR THE FIERCE! DWARVEN BARBARIAN, WEARER OF THE ICE DRAGONS' CLAWS, DEFENDER OF THE DAGGERICE MOUNTAINS.
I have been involved with several groups over the last 20 years. None of these has come anywhere near this lofty ideal. Which leads me to wonder, does ANYONE actually do this? I mean, I do voices. I do notes written in runes, I do NPCs, I do secret plot developments reacting to the path of destruction left behind by the heroes...But I have never seen anyone but a DM actually...Roleplay.
My current plan is to try out a RP night. Where the assumptions of In and out of character are flipped. Everything you say is truly issuing from you meat-puppets mouth. If the DM is sold on your performance, you get a 500XP bonus.
How does everyone else do it? Is it even okay to force people outside of their boxes? What is an "ideal" role-playing experience? All questions, and food for thought to my esteemed readers.