I read a terrific post from Brunomac at Temple of Demogorgon and thought about some of my past players' expectations when coming to my game table.
I am not a complete softy GM. I have no problems with the fact that sometimes characters die. I love a good trap or puzzle that has the potential of splattering a character in a finger snap. It's just as cool when the characters play their way around these deadly encounters.
I will admit that I lean toward the characters surviving the adventure, even secretly rooting for them to overcome the same killer obstacles I placed within the adventure to kill them. Weird, huh?
I also house rule a few things that benefit the characters, but my players are the types to not complain if I decided to get rid of the bonuses. Luckily, the only expectation my players have is that I will provide them with a fun time, with or without house rules or if there are character deaths, they can relax with the idea that I will not screw them out of a good game.
I am thankful that in all my experience as a GM to know of only one player who "expected" his characters to live, and if any of them died, I automatically became the Killer GM who would wring his hands together as each character met their gory deaths.
I'm sure most GMs have met players who want to bring in their characters from other power gaming campaigns (all 17s and 18s on the stats, +5 vorpal weapons, plane-jumping, wielding Thor's hammer, and all before they reach 3rd level). Or players that bring in a stack of splat books that you have never read and never WANT to read, fully expecting you to GM his multi-multi classed/sub classed thief/magic-user/jester cyclops into the town tavern to ask about adventuring rumors.
Some worry about Game Balance when confronted with such ridiculousness, but there are times when I think, "bring it on!" I'm not worried about Game Balance. If some dude wants to bring in his high powered 2nd level fighter with a Ring of Endless Disintegrations, then as a GM, I know how to stack some heavy freaking rocks on the game scale.
This, of course, can lead to some silly game play. Fun at times, but who wants a pissing match between a player with an entitlement problem and a GM who won't allow the offered entitlements to prevent a possible TPK? It's the normal players who will suffer...unless you give 'em all +5 vorpal weapons. ;)
Sometimes it's just best to say, "We're playing Labyrinth Lord (or S&W, C&C, BFRPG) and we're going to stick pretty close to those rules."
If a player has his or her own set of preferred house rules, let 'em start their own game.