The never-lacking, ever-metal Zak at PDaDwPS posted this entry which he dubbed Balance.
In it he says, essentially, that he is cool with any puzzle, trap or encounter the PCs of any given game may come across as long as there is a possibility that a reasonable group of average, intelligent people (the Players in this case) can survive and defeat it.
I am paraphrasing of course and probably not doing it justice.
Go read it. Come back after. I'll be here.
I agree whole heartily with everything this says.
Then I reach this point...
"Allegedly there are GMs who won't give you the chance to puzzle it out
and who won't agree with you about what's a good idea. When I meet one I'll
...and my first thought is, "It must be nice to be Zak."
Now I don't mean this facetiously. I don't mean because he gets to have sex with some of the most beautiful women on the planet or because he is such a skilled artist. My envy does not stem from these...well...ok, maybe the first one...but the point is, I envy someone unfamiliar with the GM who won't give you the chance to puzzle it out and who don't agree with you what's a good idea.
I can assure you, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that my time in the hobby would've been very different if I had not met the very GMs of whom he speaks. I am primarily a GM and no lover of Dungeons & Dragons to this day because that is what I encountered when I played that game and a number of others.
From as early as my first game of AD&D 1E to the last game I played over the internet, I have encountered GMs who can't believe you tried multiple times in multiples ways of figuring out the puzzle but weren't thinking of the one-and-only-thing-that-would-work-which-is-based-on-an-obscure-concept-that-I, the GM-spent-the-last-three-weeks-figuring-out.
Nope sorry. Funny? That I am. Creative? I like to think so. Capable of an excellent William Shatner impression? Most definitely. Telepathic? Nope, can't help ya.
"Really Adam? Really? You couldn't figure out that the way of escaping the trap was eluded to by the images of goats in the ballroom tapestries? Don't tell me you aren't familiar with 14th Century French Tapestry Art and the meaning of their images as political and social symbols. You didn't get the reference, you don't know tapestry art and you failed to ask the seamstress who I mentioned walking by and waving to you all as you approached the castle. I gave you every available chance. Do I have to spell it out for you?"
Yes. If you are going to use information no one knows but you and make it the key to enjoying this adventure than f*^&ing Yes!
In reference to the GM who doesn't agree with you on what's a good idea, if I had a nickel for every time I've encountered or seen that I would be able to buy back my entire collection of original Star Wars figures and brother, I had a Bantha load.
I remember one instance that still keeps me up at night sometimes.
I was watching some friends play a Sentai RPG campaign run by a female GM who they knew but I did not. Basically it was a Superhero campaign styled after Japanese Super-Sentai shows, what we know here in the US as 'Power Rangers'.
A PC villain, after monologuing triumphantly at how he had trapped the Red and Blue Rangers, also PCs, blasted them with a huge, spherical energy bolt. The way in which they were trapped made it impossible for them to dodge, reach for their weapons or whathaveyou. There was barely enough room to move but there was that much. It seemed they were doomed!
With nothing to lose, my pal Nelson, playing the Red Ranger, swung his arm to simply backhand the ball of energy away. The look on Nelson's face, the sly smirk, the steely gaze, was enough to send the villain Player reeling back with a nervous chuckle. We knew Nelson had formed a plan, an explanation for the insane action in the same moment he thought of it.
The GM said, "You can't do that. It's an energy bolt. It will explode. You're hit. Take..."
"Wait!", said Nelson, "Our armor is energy resistant and PseudoScience/Magic. This is Sentai and Sentai is Japanese. Japanese characters have a precedent for batting away energy blasts. Goku of Dragonball Z does it all the time, as did characters in many older series created by the same guys who created the first Sentai shows."
Then the villain's Player piped in as he was the true guru on all things Sentai. "Actually in one of the early Sentai shows one or two of the characters could defect lasers with their hands or bracelets, not unlike Wonder Woman. I'm cool with this. He can try to deflect the blast."
No. The GM would not allow it. It didn't make sense to her.
When the term 'Old School' is bandied about, I tend to think of GMs and play styles like that. When I wasn't GMing, when someone else was, most of the other GMs I encountered were very much like the woman in the tale above.
So forgive me my gripes and jabs at Old School in general and D&D in particular. I can name the GMs I've met in my 35 years of experience who were not like that out of memory. I can count them on one hand. I might need to include my other hand were I to include myself in their number.
I hope you all appreciate the time you spend not playing with those GMs or being those GMs. Smile about it and give thanks.
Good gaming all.