I think I've had a fundamental misunderstanding about how most people RP in WoW. I thought RP players inserted RP elements into normal game play - questing, instances, PvP, etc. So I was disappointed when I quested and grouped on RP realms and it felt like any other server - we just played the game and killed stuff. There were no RP element at all.
I now think my expectation was off base. It seems like the RP happens completely out of combat. Players go to an Inn or world location and create RP through dialogue and playing off each other's stories. Then when they decide to go run a raid they just focus on the traditional gameplay.
This is why I never saw character development and immersion on RP realms - I was looking in the wrong place.
Does that seem right?
Thanks for an advice.
PS: I also learned to keep my lore straight. I accidentally made Tolkien lore references in WoW because I was caught up in the discussion. I confused my Sin'dorei with my Children of Ilúvatar - BIG mistake