Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Good, The Bad, And The Murderhobo

(Murderhobo, shortening of "Murderous Hobo", is RPGnet's neologism for spring, referring to rootless PCs who kill things and take their stuff with no moral dimension.)

So there's a thread over yonder Are the PC's a force of good? from a long-time RPGer who has never seen a game where the PCs aren't a bunch of self-serving pragmatists or out-and-out psychokillers.

If this were the case with me and gaming... I would likely not be gaming. If I want to see wall-to-wall self-serving pragmatists, I have politics for that.

I have no interest in a murderhobo game. I've had and seen a thankfully small number of players bring the murderhobo to games where it doesn't fit, and these tend to be game-killing disasters that are only entertaining as GMing war stories. This is one of those make-sure-we're-on-the-same-page things.

I've played the odd emotionally dead PC here and there, and run games that are about questionable morality, but they're about that, not defaulting to it. My default setting is trying to do good, and hopefully succeeding more often than not because my universes tend to be on the side of good.


  1. "I'm officially dead, I don't have a heart."

    I find it hard to imagine running the kinds of fairly dark games I enjoy if the PCs are all murderhobos.

    Though one of my Exalted players did just suggest that she'd like to play a character who's going to break the cycle of reincarnation and then drop everyone who dies into the pit of Oblivion.

    I told her we're not playing Abyssals this week.

  2. My group is in between inspired campaigns at the moment, and we're playing a murderhobo game for laughs. Everyone seems to be having a grand time, but there is a lot more of the game spend off topic or OOC.
    Good fun, but not something I'm interested in doing for more than a handful of sessions.

    1. Joking about things one wouldn't do seriously is different, naturally - Power Kill is perhaps the ultimate version of this, while Kobolds Ate My Baby is a more playable example.

      How much of the humour comes from the general idea, and how much from specific games you and the players have been in previously? If I set out to play a murderhobo for laughs, I have a few choice bits of business from previous games...

      (Whoa. Google "murderhobo" and this is the second result.)

  3. I'm not sure if you are interested, but I was researching the origin of the term "murderhobo", and this post seems to be the first use of that word outside of the forums. I can't guarantee that is perfectly true, but I have been unable to find an earlier use of the term.

    1. Wow, really? I knew I was quick off the mark...

    2. I've seen a claim of the term being used in 2009, but the person making the claim had no links and I have not otherwise been able to confirm that early use. For other reasons, as well, I find the claim not very credible.

      Is it possible that you might have any clues that could help identify the person who originally coined the term?

    3. The RPGnet search function, being erratic, suggests around here...

  4. Excellent! Thank you for finding that. It looks like the term was introduced earlier by Old Geezer (as "murderous hobos"), since the second paragraph reads, "Basically, the old model of many games is, as Old Geezer says, "a group of murderous hobos" tied to nothing in the setting, and wandering around bumbling from one whatever to the next whatever", so probably not the first thread in which it appeared. So, the basic term can probably be traced to Mike Mornard.

    In message #62 (page 7), Scholar and a Brutalman contracts it to "murderbo", which is close. Now to find the thread where it first contracts to "murderhobo" specifically.