This evening, I came across a brilliant statement that crystallizes the distinction between role-playing and minmaxed orc-slaying extravaganzas. This comes from James Wallis' brilliantly-written The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen (2008 edition), which is entirely from the perspective of the Baron himself. In the section on character generation, it is clear that all one needs for a character sheet is a name on a sheet of paper. The Baron's justification:
For character, as the most oafish baronet's son can tell you, is not generated but forged on the anvil of life. It is only when the blows of experience ring in our ears that we move another step on life's path, becoming by stages more rounded or sharpened, our corners knocked off or our features more pointedly defined; and not by some artificial process of tossing teetotums or juggling figures like some ink-stained clerk in a windowless cellar hard by Threadneedle Street. Our souls are formed by first doing and then recollecting the experience of those deeds so that we and others might learn from them, and that is the very process which my game—nay, my life—describes. Character generation? I'll have none of it!