View Full Version : MURDERHOBO: A game about killing things and taking their stuff. [PEACH]

2013-11-01, 05:37 PM
I wanted to be a hero…once.

I dreamed of running through caves, sword drawn, chopping away at orcs and dragons and whatnot. I dreamed of big adventures, high stakes, bandits, hostages, and big piles of treasure.

Funny thing is…it all happened. I do run into caves, and I have had scrapes with dragons every so often. But I ain’t no hero.

And the piles of treasure? Oh, yes, I get them. But I’ve never spent hardly a single golden coin. Well, I suppose that’s not quite true…but we’ve been scared to try ever since the day Silsissi, a Naga I traveled with, convinced us to buy a boat. I try not to think about what happened next. Oh? Well, you see, buying the boat means we plan on coming back to the port we left it at, and we can’t ever make plans on sticking around, you see. We’re wanderers, and I use that word in the same way I use the work “Alcoholic.” ‘Course, if an alcoholic stops taking shots of whisky, he doesn’t risk debt collectors from hell setting the ground that he walks on fire just to encourage him to take another shot.

You might say that this seems like a bit of a tragedy, and in a way, you’re right…but then again, I do get to dive into caves and fight monsters, and I’ve managed to survive so far. And so help me, but scooping abandoned loot into a knapsack never gets old, even if I never do spend it.

I can see why you might think I’m a hero, but I’m not, really. I’m just a man with a sharp stick and no home, who gets in over his head a lot more often then he should and survives more often than he has right to. But there is a bit of glory to it, that I can’t deny. I can’t encourage you on taking up my mantle…but if you really want to try this life, there’s a loose bar in that gate. Pry it loose, and swing it around a bit. No, trust me, a proper weapon will just be more trouble than it’s worth. You’ll learn to beat into a nice sharp shape. Don’t bother running home to pack, or say goodbye. Anything you take with you, you’ll just sell off in the next city, and it’s probably best your family doesn’t know where you’ve gone.

Where’m I going? Well, I heard that there’s a spider pit in the caves below town. Lots of soldiers went down there and never came back. Their armor will fetch a pretty good price. How do I know that it’s still there? Well, it’s against the law to rob the dead, a’course, and they can’t exactly bury them where they are. What’s that? Ah…heh heh. I remember when I was worried about breaking the law. You heard how some of the guard called me a “murderhobo?” Well, son…they might be mean, but they ain’t wrong…


A game about killing things and taking their stuff.

We’ve all had jokes about that one campaign: where the players didn’t care about the NPCs, the plot, or general decorum. They were just there for loot, and ideally a number of things that they could kill in their pursuit of the aforementioned loot. These people often choose a chaotic neutral alignment, interrupted the GM’s prepared monologues by attacking the boss early, and might threaten/assault/outright murder a civilian if they thought they could get away with it. If the DM started their character off with a house/means of transportation/non-weapon heirloom, their first instinct was to sell it for as much as possible, as soon as possible. Yes, we’ve all heard about and made fun of the “murderhobos,” so called because of their gameplay habit of wandering the earth, having no known or acknowledged home, killing whatever crosses their path and stealing their trousers. But don’t lie…we’ve all been there. Who hasn’t devoted a spare save file in The Elder Scrolls to massacring the snobbish nobleman and his household? Who doesn’t like to just go hog-wild with an axe in a crowd, if he can somehow justify it (ie, the crowd is made out of inhumans/bandits/Elvis impersonators/clones of whatever teeny-bop star it’s currently popular to hate on/it’s Tuesday)? Knowing that we all have that deep-buried primal urge within us somewhere, I’m making a game that will cater to it.

The goal of MURDERHOBO will be to create a game that primarily revolves around the acquisition of loot, but is diverse enough that it can be played just as easily in a silly, bloodthirsty manner, or in a solemn, tragic manner. The game also will aim to have decently simple mechanics: Ideally, a simplified version of D&D 3.5, so that the game will be easy for experienced roleplayers to dive into without being too complex to turn away new players.

The players are hobos. Not in the stereotypical sense, of course: this is a fantasy game. However, they have no set hometown or home base, very little property and no house to return to. This is partially their own character’s fault, for in some way they have become indebted to an entity known as Our Loyal Creditor.

The Loyal Creditor exists, in a game sense, to provide the motivation for the murderhobos. They owe him huge sums of money, with must be paid in increasingly high installments. He does not require the players to pay with cash, but merely with “wealth.”

To avoid the tedious accounting that can bring some games to a halt, MURDERHOBO uses units of “wealth” instead of straight currency. A “wealth” is roughly defined as “the average yearly salary of a working-class artesian in the current time period, or a collection of valuable goods of roughly equal worth.” The goal is to earn enough wealths by whatever means necessary to pay the current debt to the Loyal Creditor. Paying off the debt earns the Murderhobos a level, but their payment increases for the next level, so they must use their new strength to fight bigger foes and earn more wealth…

The Loyal Creditor is, of course, far too powerful for the players to fight, at least in the low- and mid-levels. What’s more, though, is that he is able to force “credit checks” upon the murderhobos. These are done to make sure the hobos are doing their part to earn the wealth necessary to pay off their debt. From a game perspective, this is what keeps them murderhobos. Credit checks may be performed when the players commit the following transgressions:

Staying more than one night under the same roof.
Staying more than one week in the same city.
Failing to go for however long without collecting more loot.
Spending loot on altruistic purposes that do not immediately yield further wealth.
Buying property.
Spending wealth in general.
Losing wealth.

It is for these reasons that it does not matter that numerical values of money are not used in this game: if the players are spending money on things, they are not being good murderhobos. Failing credit checks can yield severe consequences, such as making the next fight more difficult, inflicting an ailment on a murderhobo, submitting the hobos to a fine from their current wealth, or, if the whole party gets uppity, dragging everyone to the first circle of hell and then telling them to loot a rival demon’s temple while marinated in barbeque sauce. The basic idea behind Credit Checks is that they are incentives to keep the players in the correct mindset: keep wandering, find locales of loot, strip it down, rinse & repeat. Credit Checks should be harsh, but not game-breaking. However, enough of them could send one’s account into Delinquency, causing the Loyal Creditor to turn their debt over to the Collectors…

The most obvious way to play this game is with one’s tongue in one’s cheek. This is where the only reason the players would enter into the presence of the king would be to stab him and steal his shiny clothes. Where the starting town is on fire and ideally stripped of sellable goods by the time the hobos move on.

However, there is some opportunity for a story here. How did your character become indebted to the Loyal Creditor? Does he want to get out of debt? Would he be willing to raid a town of innocents to save himself from a Credit Check, or worse, the Collectors? Are there loved ones who worry for him? Would he give up some of his wealth to help a needy town, even if it meant a Credit Check?

Either way, the tone should be rather oppressive. Murderhobos are not heroes, and should always be fighting an uphill battle. By the time they are strong enough to beat a given foe with ease, their debt should be so high that doing so just wouldn’t be worth it. Greater and wealthier foes must be fought to accumulate the wealth they need to pay off their debt. By the time they can take on the city guard that’s been breathing down their necks, they should need to face the royal army to get the loot they need. Even though the name of the game is MURDERHOBO, eschewing the murder, running in, shoveling loot into the sack, and booking it like a bat outta hell is also a viable strategy and quite fitting with the concept.

It should be noted that, under the tone of this game, attempted seduction or wonton cruelty might be seen as legitimate means of acquiring wealth. It is true that, while alignment is not a consideration in MURDERHOBO, the hobos are certainly not Lawful Good, and pushing aside society’s limitations in the pursuit of more wealth is the game’s basic appeal. However, GMs running this game should make it clear to their players just how far is too far, and what sort of behaviors to avoid, to avoid discomfort amongst anyone playing.

To be determined further, if there’s enough interest. However, the idea currently in mind is a simplified version of 3.5, with the major exception being items. In D&D, the primary purpose of items is to do things with them. In MURDERHOBO, the primary purpose of items is to add to the loot pile. Carrying around a valuable sword, even if it’s better in combat, would be a violation of the terms of the Loyal Creditor’s loan, and would invoke a Credit Check.

In the interests of simplicity, challenges should be faced with the skills the Hobo in question has acquired, not the gear they found lying around in the tomb of the ancient king they desecrated. Therefore, advancement would come largely in the collection of feats, with the most basic gameplay being covered in the levels of the hobo’s chosen class. If the player wants a better weapon, or permission to wear armor, they can buy feats for them without needing to go buy fancy plate that they’d have to sell anyway.

Certain feats and abilities would be exclusive to members of certain races, to help the players get a better feel for their characters. However, no weaknesses would be applied based on race. While it might seem silly that a Halfling can do just as much damage as a human, this is a silly game.

Ah, and that reminds me: to heck with ability scores. I once heard something very interesting about characterization: What makes a character interesting isn’t what a character is, but what a character does. Besides, a general understanding in an RPG is that the PCs should be at a mostly balanced level. Therefore, gameplay will be built with the understanding that every character will pretty much be horrible at any task they attempt unless they have the training for it. Remember, the players are hobos, not heroes.

Muscles Murderhobo: hits things with sticks until they stop moving.
Mysterious Murderhobo: Hides in the shadows and hits things with sticks when they aren’t looking.
Marksman Murderhobo: Shoots things while hiding behind something solid. Like the Muscles Murderhobo, for instance.
Magic Murderhobo: Casts the spells that make the people fall down.
Magnificent Murderhobo: Disarming wit and charm. Or at least pretty impressive charm as far as hobos go.
Moneyed Murderhobo: Able to quickly appraise what bits of loot are most valuable, and able to increase the party’s net gain of wealth.
Master Murderhobo: A commanding presence with a limited ability to get people or animals to submit to his will. Or he’ll spit on them.
Mad Mad Murderhobo: A gibbering lunatic who exudes chaos from every pore, probably because it’s been a decade since his last bath. Able to inflict fear and disorder into his enemies or his environment.

In keeping with the theme of the game (you are hobos, not heroes), the idea will be that the hobos are literally incapable of accomplishing any task that is the domain of a class they haven’t taken. For example: while a non-Muscles Murderhobo could try to hit things with sticks in desperation, he sucks at it, and would do a single point of damage on the miracle that he actually hits. And talking your way out of trouble is impossible unless you have levels in Magnificant Murderhobo. After all, the players are hobos. They look like hobos, stink like hobos, and are probably on fire like hobos. The average NPC of whatever race will shun them, ignore them, or ask the guard to remove them.

This exclusivity won’t extend to every task, however. There will be skills available for the hobos to sink points into apart from basic combat. And, of course, plenty of feats will be available to make each hobo individual and unique and smelly.
I could go on, but I’d like to see how people react to this idea before I try to actually try smashing numbers together. Right now, you have the basic tone and conceit of the game. If it sounds like a game you’d like to play, let me know. If I get enough support, I’ll try putting some solid rules together.

A few ideas, though: I’d prefer a magic system apart from the Vancian system, which I’ve never really liked. I’m considering just making all Magic Murderhobos sorcerers with a set spell list, and replacing the spells-per-day concept by giving all hobos a Fatigue meter, which will decrease with every encounter or heavy physical activity (since the whole spells-per-day thing usually yields the infamous “fifteen-minute adventurer workday” with them camping whenever the caster’s run out of spells). Resting could require rations, which could be something that the hobos would have to search for to make up for this game’s dumping of an inventory system. I’d need to consider a healing system too, and I’m torn whether to make a healing skill (which absolutely every hobo would probably take (I’ve seen it before: any game with a low power level, the players all jump on the medicine skill)) or establishing the Medical Murderhobo class. I’m also considering turning the Moneyed Murderhobo class into a skill, but again I fear that every single player would jump on it.

So. What do you think? Anyone eager to sell their home, don a knit cap and trenchcoat, kill things and steal their trousers?

Morph Bark
2013-11-01, 05:46 PM

/writes the novel


2013-11-01, 06:57 PM
You have all of my yes.

Or at least most of it. :smalltongue:

2013-11-01, 07:26 PM

Also: I reckon that if people are acting outside of role, they should just be limited to regular human capability in those areas, rather than completely locked out. In a few levels, regular human ability just won't be enough for the next threat, but it'll help in the early levels.

2013-11-03, 02:23 AM
I thought of a way to make Exalted 'Murderhobos.'

The characters all have the Vow of Poverty Feat (and, of course, sacred vow to go with it.) They adventure not for wealth for themselves, but to keep that poor orphanage their exploits support running. (That is, the orphanage is the loyal creditor.) 'Credit Checks' now involve the orphanage needing repairs of one sort or another, or a child comes down sick with a disease, or something like that. And why do they keep needing more wealth every month? Well, you'd be surprised how fast kids grow, and some of them look to be promising adventurers of righteousness who need lots of good equipment to go forth and slay evil...

2013-11-03, 07:51 AM
Why avoid the problem when you can fully commit to it? I want to see this happen.

2013-11-03, 12:34 PM
Brilliant. All I have to say.

For the healing question, I'd say it depends on the number of skills players can choose. If it's relatively small, a medicine skill should be fine. If it's a larger number, a medic murderhobo class might work better.

2013-11-03, 12:57 PM

This is AWESOME!

... that's all I have to say for now.

2013-11-04, 10:34 AM
Get rid of the pure classes. Every class should have two of the above "things they do" in equal proportion.

As written, Moneyed is somewhat boring, in that it just increases XP. What if instead Moneyed manages to make enough surplus value that *they can keep some gear*? So a Moneyed Muscles would be a Mercenary, who can enough surplus to own armor/weapon/etc.

With 8 core capabilities:
Muscles, Mysterious, Marksman, Magic, Magnificent, Moneyed, Master, Mad Mad
8C2 is 28 different classes. They could either have no features beyond their two capabilities, or they could have a "skill" or set of skills they increase independently.

If you want to have more fun, each Murderhobo might be restricted to one level in a given class. Your Murderhobo then becomes a collection of classes they have accumulated.