I want to take the time to reply to your post, just to give a little insight about the group in which I was playing. I didn't take anything you wrote personally, and I read your second message that says you posted your first one after only reading the first page of the thread. Nevertheless, I just want to point out a few things that might shed some light onto the group dynamics.
I read the descriptions of the other party members, and noticed a pattern -- all of them are either inexperienced, or have created highly under-powered characters.
In the grand scheme of things, my experience at gaming compared to the rest of the group was rather less than the average. I wasn't the least experienced player, but I'd say that everyone else at the table had either roughly the same amount of experience as I do or more. There was one guy at the table who had been gaming for longer than some of the rest of us had been alive.
In fact, the only person I'm sure had less experience than me was the person playing the Half-Orc Fighter. The person playing the Ranger/Sorcerer may have had less experience, but I dunno.
As for their creating under-powered characters...save for the Druid, of course...yeah, I noticed. I even brought it to my DM's attention. I was always told to play the character I wanted to play. There were no up-front restrictions, even on books. Nevertheless, the DM reserved the right of rejection.
Because everything was allegedly fair game, but right of rejection was reserved, everything had to be run by the DM first. I suspect that the others who've suggested DM burn-out is the culprit are right: my DM was tired of having to deal with how the psionics system worked in the context of this campaign.
You, on the other hand, have gone to great lengths to give your character "no discernable weaknesses." You feel that D&D should be played a certain way, where you get to use your wide knowledge of character choices to make an optimized character.
Heh...it turns out that making an optimized Psion isn't all that difficult, so I didn't go to great lengths really.
The choices I've made with my character really aren't all that different from the ones I would've made was I unfamiliar with optimization theory and practice. I really think it's more of a matter of comparative power levels.
I really don't think that D&D should be played a certain way. What I do
think is that a DM needs to be forthright about the kind of game he or she intends to run. Looking back, and putting matters into terms of the Tier system, my DM appears to have intended a Tier 3/Tier 4 campaign. But on the occasions I offered to tone down my character, at best I got rebuffed. As you can see by the email conversation I posted, my DM even got mad.
Players can't be expected to read the DM's mind. At a certain point you have to take the words "play whatever you like" at face value.
This player does NOT deliberately try to make life hard for the DM, but his play style has that effect anyway. He does not believe that his characters are particularly overpowered. He believes that, with every character, he has deliberately reduced the power for role-playing reasons. However, he's so much better at optimization than the rest of us, that all his good intentions are for naught.
This is a very good point, and it's given me some food for thought. I empathize with this guy.
I still think that it all comes down to communication, or lack thereof. There needed to be better communication between my DM and me. I'm a reasonable person. If I had been approached in a reasonable manner I would have responded in kind. Instead, it seems, things were allowed to fester on my DM's end.
You say you've played with this DM for 10 years. It's possible that the DM has had this difficulty so often that he always assumes you're up to something. This could be what makes him reject even your most reasonable requests.
This was actually the first extended campaign I'd been in with this DM for a long, long while. We've known each other for over 10 years, but the last time we gamed together on a regular basis was back in college and shortly thereafter. It's been roughly 8 years since we had a regular campaign going.
It was also my first time getting back into gaming, period, after a lengthy hiatus during law school.
So, while I do see the point you're trying to make, that particular point doesn't apply to this situation. There just hasn't been enough recent history to build up a pattern of behavior on my part or on my DM's part.
If you ever return to this group, I suggest you try something which may be quite difficult, given your preferred play style: Create a character using nothing but the PHB. Maybe even choose one of the less powerful classes, like ranger or monk.
It's hilarious that you mention a PHB-only campaign using only Ranger or Monk. I had been planning on implementing a PHB/SRD-only campaign with this group in the not-too-distant future, before things went to crap. Though many have shown that even Core isn't balanced, at the very least going PHB/SRD-only rules out the vast majority of the most egregious methods of breaking a game.
Also, Ranger and Monk are my favorite classes. I've played more Rangers than anyone has a right to, and there is a soft spot in my heart for the Monk, which is my second-most-often-played class.
If I was a gestalt character, I'd be a Ranger/Monk and I'd be damn proud of my suckitude.
Don't make any special requests at all. It's possible that your DM will still be a jerk. It's possible that you won't have any fun with the limited choices. But it might be worth a try, to resume a relationship with a DM you've enjoyed playing with for ten years.
It remains to be seen how things work out. There's still a lot going on in my life and my family's life. Fortunately, things are getting better. In one area, there's been enough improvement to warrant a separate post. :-)
Thank you, again, for your constructive criticism. You've definitely given me a number of things to think about.