One of the things that often gets overlooked in roleplaying games is that the game master is a player too. They’re a player who uses the rules differently than the others, but they’re still a player. While they play host and do the research and prep work and so forth, they’re participating in the experience for something too.

For me, that something has changed a lot over the years. I enjoy “reacting” to player exploration of the world, experimentation with its various bits, and the discussion that follows unexpected turns of events. For me, the world or setting itself (and its many NPCs and monsters) is the character I “rolled up” when the campaign started.

It makes me just a little sad when the players show up just to break things. I don’t mean “break things and then revel in the breaking,” or “break things and divvy up the spoils,” or “break things and then parade the things around the town square with the things on a pike.” Those would be different circumstances entirely.

Here what I mean is, “just break things.” There’s no perceptible appreciation or enjoyment being had by anyone at the table. You might accuse me of whining at this stage, but let me qualify what I’m saying a bit more: I don’t feel like my “character” is being recognized, but the other characters aren’t being recognized either.

I’ve complained about this sort of thing many, many times before. The characters gathered ’round aren’t an adventuring party, and they aren’t even a group of individuals with similar goals. They barely qualify as individuals with personalities. They have their moments, but who are they? What do they want?

If given a meme questionnaire, I could probably fill it out for several of my characters with relative ease. I don’t normally do that sort of thing, but the more recent characters would be easier, ’cause I’ve been honing my “character crafting” skill. My dragonborn character “The Manticore” is probably the most well-fashioned yet.

Maybe I have the wrong perspective on these characters, but I just don’t see it. I have lots of weird personality quirks that I know I “project” on the characters, largely based on their reactions, and many if not all of them, are negative in some fashion. (Mostly varying degrees of “homicidal.”) I could probably find some positive traits.

Again, it might seem like I’m complaining, but I could seriously make a list of all the things that are symptomatic. Why do none of the characters draw on previous experiences when making decisions? Why does it seem like I’m “reminding” them of their own past deeds? Were they unworthy of remembering? Not relevant?

…And it comes back to a lack of appreciation for one the other players’ characters. For my “character.” It feels out of place for me to point to a player and say, “You handled that well. Commendable.” Maybe I need to bring back individual experience at some point, and enable more competition between the players.

It’s horrible. I hate it. I remember offering “solo xps” opportunities to the players who wanted to do more, write backgrounds, contribute to the setting and so forth. Not everyone has as much time, not everyone has the same interest level, and it alienates some players. But my approach as of late has been too, I don’t know, sanitary.

It feels like something is missing. Empty even.