I've been playing Dungeons and Dragons for over twenty years. Even today I see the same tired arguments that were in Dragon Magazine.
Let's leave off any sort of post 2000 edition discussion; clearly scores became divorced from actual character representation when the game shifted to a tactical encounter based mode. I doubt anyone is going to resolve any thesis about their Intelligence 28 Wizard.
But what about in older games, where the bell curve distribution is meant to be representative?
Isn't player skill unfair to players who aren't as good at playing the game?
Why rely on skill when you don't rely on their physical statistics?
Why rely on their personal Charisma to resolve problems?
After all, If you don't ask the players with an 18 Strength to lift a sofa, then why would you ask your players with an 18 Charisma to come up with something witty to say?
What an excellent Strawman!
Player skill does not have to do with anything subjective. I don't require my players to be witty or convince me at the table. If they do come up with something witty I'm sure to reward them, but at no point is it ever required for success in play.
Having a low intelligence or a high charisma or a percentile strength has nothing to do at all with the player. Each of these stats has specific in game mechanical effects and the player is under no stipulations to act in any way differently then he chooses to act, no matter what his ability scores.
The problem comes with the conflation of the term 'role-playing'. What is meant by the term is that you take the role of a person in a situation and make decisions as if you were them. Let me say that again.
What is meant by role playing is that you 'take the role' of a person in a situation and make decisions as if you were them.
This is the setup of a 'Player Character' and all the associated character creation verbiage in each edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Somehow this has become confused somewhere along the line with thespian aspirations.
Is their any part of the Character Creation chapters in the Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook where it talks about what voice to use to portray your character? In the core books is there a section outlining what behavior you can portray at the table for each level of the stats? Am I just thinking I'm too familiar with the books and I've missed that section in the dozens of editions and retro-clones that I've read?
The ability score statistics already represent themselves in play. Their charisma determines the reaction adjustment and number of henchmen (or spell save DC's for charisma casters - whatever). I no more expect someone to bench press weights then I expect someone to go see how many people they can hire. This is the purpose of the stats.
Now I am aware that the referee is explicitly given the option of limiting player behavior based on statistics, but this has nothing to do with player skill, nor does it or should it limit the behavior of the player in any way. While the player is under no proscription of his ability, the referee is free to describe things poorly to the dumb characters and veto actions.
I want to make it clear, I'm not saying acting like your character isn't fun or that you shouldn't do it. I'm not saying it's bad in any way, or that you can't have a lot of fun with a much higher degree of 'role assumption'. I'm just saying it's not explicit in the rules that you must do so and that doing so has nothing at all to do with player skill.
Player skill is about choices and ideas, not subjective behavior.