Now, I was asked recently how do you play D&D? Hmmm tricky question. How DO you play D&D...
Well, my answer is complex. so I put it simply. D&D is a lot like acting. An actor(the player) in a movie is playing a role. A director(the Dungeon Master) tells the actor what the scene is. the actor then does his part for the movie. being a hero fighting bad guys, or a drama where they are in a court room discussing the next case. BUT, this is scripted acting. D&D is more improv really. The DM gives you the scene, then you have to decide what your character would do in that situation.
In D&D, you have a character (the role) that you play. When given the role, you fit into it and "roleplay" that character. What are his mannerisms, what's he like? gruff? timid? does he run screaming at the sight of a yellow canary? All of this is decided before the game is started. Once is determined, then the player can play his role better.
The DM then sets the scene. He give out the atmosphere, or flavor text of the situation. For example: The rain is coming down hard. Your cloths are soaked from the rain. Your boots splash through puddles in the street as you run towards the nearest tavern. Opening the doors to the tavern, you are greeted by the dimly lit interior. Several patrons glance up in your direction, sizing you up then go back to their drinks and meals. The smells of freshly cooked meat fills your nostrils. The place is crowded, but there still does remain a table empty. What do you do?
At this point, the players take over and tell what they would be doing. Do you go in and sit at the table? Do you look around the room to see how rough it is before going in? do you back out slowly into the rain and find another place? Do you ignore the table and belly up to the bar?
Once your decision is made, you announce it to the DM. "I belly up to the bar!" or "I sit at the empty table". or if you wanted to be deep in your role, you'd say something like this: "Drugar stands tall, ignoring the people that looked in his direction. I shake off the rain from my cloak and head towards the empty table where I take a seat, then summon a bar wench." Doing something descriptive like that always gets you points with the DM and extra XP.
XP? what the frik is that? Well, that is Experience Points. You get these points for doing tasks, killing monsters, quests, and yes, even roleplaying. The less street talk, aka table banter, the better.
Some of my best players have been ones that role played their characters well. If all you do is quote rules and sling dice, then it's not roleplaying, it's ROLLplaying.