I was trawling around the forums on RPGnet and happened across the following question: "What would be your "ultimate" D&D style? Forget the rules system... what elements of plot, character & style do you hold as your ultimate D&D experience?"
Because I was eating breakfast and putting off my homework, I came up with the following answer:
Epic, in the sense of LotR and Dragonlance. A big, sweeping campaign with the fate of the world in the balance. Good versus Evil, with those thinking themselves in the middle eventually having to choose a side. Triumphs and betrayals, victories and tragic deaths. Flawed heroes, not anti-heroes. Melodrama, not angst. Romance and romanticism. Friendship, honor, compassion and bravery, pitted against treachery, selfishness, and fear.
Formidable and frightening monsters, ancient titanic ruins whose histories are lost in time (but of which fragments of lore survive), heroic battles against uncertain odds. Magic items and artifacts with stories to them - it's not a +3 Broadsword, it's The Flame of the West; it's not a Potion of Healing, it's the Waters of Ilumina, springs blessed by the goddess of the forests.
Hobbit-style halflings. Tinker-merchant Gnomes. Beautiful, arrogant, tragic Elves. Stubborn, honor-bound, tragic Dwarves. Monster races that aren't just Evil for Evil's sake - some of them are honorable, and some of them are twisted. But not all monster races are misunderstood foreigners - some of them were birthed by Evil to usher in the End of the World. Desperate appeals for alliance in the face of extinction. Religious orders. Sorcerous orders. Knightly orders. Angels and Demons, and their pacts with mortals.
The artwork of Larry Elmore and Wayne Reynolds. Tony di Terlizzi and Russ Nicholson.
Levels 1-6. A mixture of wilderness and urban adventures.
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up for me.