I remember going to see Superman Returns in the movie theater when it came out. While waiting for the film to start I overheard a conversation with a guy who flat out hated Superman. I’m not sure why he came to watch a movie featuring a character he so disliked, but during his rant he basically complained about everything Superman. The strength, the ability to fly, how no one could figure out who Clark Kent was, etc. The case he stated was what made the Superman story what it is, so really he just hated the premise and not the quality of the story. You can’t enjoy a story or a game if you don’t accept the premise that it is built on. There is a common issue between players and Game Masters: either side not accepting the premise presented by the other.
Once I had a player complain to me about a great GM I know. I was shocked as the GM in question was a person who I would say was one of the best in the area. When I inquired further the player complained that the GM, “…had an obvious concept for the game and wouldn’t allow me to alter it completely.” I didn’t have the heart to tell this player that the issue might have been with him not accepting the premise of the game and rolling with it. That or he has a horrible ability at picking games he might enjoy.
This also appears in games where the GM lays out a hook that one player just simply won’t take, because they feel it isn’t something their PC would do.
GM: “In this wasteland where food is scarce you are told a tale of a stockpile of provisions to a settlement to the north.”
Player: “I don’t want to do that. It sounds dangerous. Can’t I grow my own food?”
Maybe this is a logical questioning and thought process in a world of reality, but in a game session I find this to be a less than productive line of thinking. It is assumed this game is an action game set in a apocalyptic setting, that is the premise one must accept in this session.
It happens to players as well. In the same scenario a player might come up with a concept of a PC that fits the setting. I have seen GMs not accept a PC simply because motivations or builds don’t fit into a well structured game story. This, in my mind, is just as bad to do to someone. If the PC fits into the overall puzzle of the concept of the game then it should be accepted and allowed to be a part of the overall story.
In all the previous examples you are just upsetting a potential for a lot of fun to be had. Should a game be on the rails completely? No. But nor should a game about survival be turned into a police procedural. Should the player character’s background, that fits into the overall story of the setting, be ignored in favor of allowing the GM to easily push her story onto the players? No.
Don’t play Superman if you can’t accept that your secret identity comes out with a pair of glasses and a healthy dose of pomade. You just won’t have fun. And if you, for some odd reason, find yourself at this game don’t spend the entire session trying to make everyone as miserable as you. I would also suggest not trying to turn the game completely on its head. Politely excuse yourself from the game and try something else.