Saturday 14 April 2018

Whats Your Definition of Murder Hobo?

Which def do you like better? What would you change?

1 murderhobo
The typical protagonist of a fantasy role-playing game, who is a homeless guy who goes around killing people and taking their stuff. The term originated in discussions of tabletop role-playing games by authors seeking to create games aimed at styles of play not supported by traditional games like Dungeons & Dragons.

Four murderhoboes burned down the peaceful orc village, killed every orc in it, and looted their corpses.

2 murderhobo
A derogatory term used to denigrate old school players of Dungeons & Dragons, and considered a gross insult among real old school players and DMs. Users of the term falsely claim that murderhobo was the style of play back in the day (1974-1978) and that is based on a false understanding of what old school play is. Bitd the way that the original old school Dungeons & Dragons was played was as a game of exploration, and good play meant that you a avoided combat when possible and gained treasure by other means. A player in those days only went into combat when it could not be avoided and only killed when it was necessary. If the goal could be obtained through other types of interaction, that was the preferred day.

I don't even know you, why are you insulting me with this murderhobo nonsense?

What Would Your Definition Include???
On FB there is a assumption you murder anyone, villagers, the law, farm animals, children.

In stormbringer I did all that but only to summon demons for sex. Even my worst murder hobo players didnt kill that many ppl outside adventures and it had side effects. One player murdered a tavern owner and found in his locked chest evidence he was a member of the secret police reporting on adventurers to tax man and the law. A lynch mob surrounded the parties house and they bribed them with erotic dark elf furniture. Another house they owned got firballed by someone. So the consequences of one player cost the whole party.

If anything my players were capitalist upstarts. They argued they were not murder hobos because they had homes. I pointed out living in caves most of the year instead of the homes was a bit contentious. Killing monsters with dirty tricks rather than direct combat was pretty common. Possibly MH act like colonials on the frontier - Cortez, Columbus and others are good examples. People like Joseph Banks argued with science to declare aboriginals were not human and did not understand ownership therefore the empire should rob them. Some argued if natives had souls.

Certainly being a MH does not preclude roleplaying or story but some DMs might care too much if players don't give a shit about their epic literary wannabe creation. If they care about NPCs too much and players want to get to the killing and looting too much this can lead to the DM complaining of MH-ism. A DM with a plotted story will be disappointed if the party not interested in the hook and dont give a shit about the plight of Princess Trufflepants. Sandox settings where players can do as they please are great. If they find consequences of murder exiting and become criminals so be it. Oddly enough I find myself trying to get new kid gamers to think before killing the sheriff but if adults want to fine (I won't play roadwar with kids again possibly avoid modern settings with guns too). Kids playing thieves can be kind of awesome. I DMed a family and mom the cleric telling thieves to be good and dangling healing spells as a bribe was kind of funny.

If I want bad freeform acting I don't play role playing games. If I want a linear narrative I will watch a film or play most computer games. Freedom to play as you please and deal with the consequences is a great thing about RPGs. I rarely use adventures in DnD and if I do I like to just put it in position on the map and offer it as one of several options not contrive some involvement. My city authorities seem to be intimidating and several players have been caught by the state and forced into becoming police informers and have their earnings monitored by magical tax agents.

The worst MH game with these problems I was a Player in, was in a homebrew MERP setting. Half the party decided the pro human faction was the road to riches. My assassin helped the bard mob some druids for helping the enemy elf nation and began enriching ourselves. We didn't know several party members were half elf rangers working for the elves. Game died in arse as players split and turned on each other. Part of the problem was the setting and the DM assuming we would be interested in helping the snooty elves and would turn on the humans. It could work but the campaign goal was unclear. We never had any elves talk to us only humans telling us elves were bad. Yes we were jerks trying to break the game. Possibly the evil behind the war could have revealed themselves or made us enemies because elves were the only enemies we were presented with yet never saw or spoke to. So we got bored and roused mobs and tried to seize power over humans and blamed elves for everything. We were teenagers and the GM we were pretty iffy about but gave them a chance to entertain us. We wanted to establish something like Granbrettan from Hawkmoon but the GMs motives were unfathomable and assumed we would expose the plot over years. Rolemaster possibly more murder hobo than dnd - nobody wants a fair fight or any fights if possible in pursuit of cash and power. Nowadays I would just leave the game, then I had the gamer student house.

Assuming your world is entertaining and the plot hooks are engaging and being outraged if players don't want to be railroaded by your premise is not the players fault. Playing to the players interests if better than dictating them. Calling them murder hobos in the pejorative sense (especially if you never played oldschool and just jumped on the mob understanding from some forum) is lame. If players want to be outlaws you can still have fun.

Please share your MH stories and definitions!

Will revise my murder hobo book some day too
Perhaps world murder hobo day is needed
Started penning songs for Murder Hobo the musical


  1. My favorite band of murderhobos killed all the high priests as a deal with a witch who also wrangled a magic item away from them that allowed them to summon a kaiju shockingly similar to the godzilla version of king kong before taking a shot at death frost doom and fleeing to the campaign equivalent of the new world while the zombie apocalypsee i absence of the realms most powerful clerics sorted itself out.
    In the new world they played petty conquistadors with amazing thematic accuracy pillaging ruins, buthcering locals, building forts and searching for a city of gold.

  2. I have no idea if you would countenance my PF game or not. There is a plot going on (undead invasion, awakening elder evil, kingdom of adorable fairies and humble cabbage farmers in peril) but I've allowed my players to pursue it at their own pace or not at all. Instead they've made a failed bid to become bootleggers, became gophers for a baron, then joined a mercenary army as a scout company. They've made peace with an exiled warlord and his bandits and engineered the downfall of an orc warlord, all on their own initiative. 20 sessions/18 months after I first started introducing elements of the plot they are just getting around to it so... patience will be rewarded I guess?


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