Your class is changing
In Cataclysm, you class is changing. I don't mean that your character is actually changing which class he's a member of (unless you're a very hardcore reroller). Instead, many classes are undergoing some incredibly vast, comprehensive mechanics changes.
The hunter beta news is fairly epic. Whereas hunters were once a sort of mystic woodsman who wandered the land, befriending animal companions with mana based powers, they will now be a little more feral themselves. Accessing focus to use their hunter abilities, those characters could be roleplayed to more closely behave like their animal companions. Certainly, this is a fairly liberal interpretation of game mechanics, but that's still the stuff roleplay is made of.
We've talked about it before, but mages are also undergoing some pretty radical changes and additions. Will you roleplay this new material as if the rules of magic have somehow changed, or will you roleplay it as if nothing remarkable has happened? After all, it's not like a dragon of magic has recently been killed or anything.
Without going into every single possible class change, we can suffice to say that there's a bunch of hip class changes going down around town. Your character, of course, is a member of one of these classes. Don't let this opportunity to enhance your roleplay slip by. It doesn't make much sense to wake up when Cataclysm is released, and spontaneously have different powers.
Start plotting out storylines for the changes now. In the example of the hunter above, for example, you could roleplay a storyline in which your characte realizes he actually is a reincarnated hunter pet. His life, now, as a hunter is simply a karma-turnaround on his dutiful service in another life. Now armed with this past life knowledge, the hunter embraces his more animal aspects and seeks out adventure in a changed landscape.
However you choose to explain the Cataclysm mechanics changes, you shouldn't let this opportunity pass you by.
Your race is also changing
Each races class choices (mostly) have some kind of loose basis in lore. Dwarves don't use magic, for example. But, recently, we've discovered that dwarves will be able to learn the magic of warlocks! So will trolls!
That kind of change to lore doesn't happen over night. Someone in-character knows about these events now, and ther's no reason for you wait months on top of months before you start roleplaying. Imagine your character is a dwarven sheriff, whose job it is to maintain the mean streets of Ironforge. In the course of investigating a relatively mundane murder mystery, you discover your first dwarf warlock.
Can you even imagine how such a character would react? Not only are one of the noble children of Ironforge engaging in magic, they're doing so in congress with a demon. Falling back on the precept that roleplay is about conflict, interaction, and character growth, this storyline would force your character to confront ugly truths about his racial behavior. It's great story fodder.
There are so many new race and class combinations in Cataclysm that almost none of the old prejudices will hold true. It's up to you to reach out and take ownership of your character's progression, as he learns about these deviations from standard practice.
Oh my gosh, a dragon
There's already been a lot of discussion about how, exactly, Deathwing's going to go about bringing the Cataclysm. It might be as simple as a magic rituat that opens a portal to the elemental plane of earth. Once open, this portal would lay some serious havoc down on Azeroth. Conversely, Deathwing may take up physical flight across the globe, breathing fire down on hapless villagers, and burninating some thatched roof cottages.
Regardless of which way that story goes, though, you can start planting story hooks to explore later in Cataclysm. Maybe your mentor has taken up residence in the Barrens. You should roleplay that now, so that in a year, when your character goes off to find the mentor, you're not springing a surprise on your group mates.
Regardless of how you take advantage of the upcoming story, the trick is to get started now. With all the beta news streaming across the interent, for roleplayers, Cataclysm starts now. We don't need the gear to start living the stories. We can start them now.
All the World's a Stage is your source for roleplaying ideas, innovations and ironies. You might wonder what it's like to sacrifice spells for the story, or to totally immerse yourself in your roleplaying, or even how to RP on a non-RP server!