Tom became a social friend as well as a gaming one. Because of certain things he pulled hanging out and gaming, I'm not sorry I'll likely never see the guy ever again. I'll leave the social parts out, but he is a textbook example of a GM you don't want to play for.
"Tomhammer" became a codename for Tom's self-serving interpretations of the rules. Tom had vision. And when the players and die rolls were going his way, he was a pretty good GM. Unfortunately, he was big on house rules that favored HIM. He'd grow visibly frustrated when we retooled our characters to exploit HIS exploitations. Instead of the "attaboy" a good GM gives his players when they come up with an inventive solution, he would, every time and in order:
- Stare at the gaming table for approximately 30 seconds. If anyone said anything to them, they got the pointer finger ("WAIT!") as he stared in silence.
- Say "No." and attempt to wing a rules interpretation, look one up feverishly, or attempt to find some excuse to make it not happen. He was really bad at improv, so it never worked out in his favor.
- Pout. Excessively. Not very attractive for an Army guy in his late 30s.
The game ended when we players finished our respective courses (the other two guys were there for EW maintenance) and went our separate ways. I'd run into Tom again in language school after a deployment to Afghanistan, and I'd even play and hang out with him. That lasted about three months. Every now and then I'd hear ABOUT him from someone who was stationed with him (Human Intelligence is a small world). I can't hate the man too much, since he did turn me on to Warhammer, new edition excluded, is still my favorite grimy low-fantasy RPG.
What did I learn from this?
- House rules need to be for mutual enhancement of the game and not as a kneejerk reaction to someone not getting their way
- It's not just your vision, it's also your players vision.