Ask the Game Master: How do I stop all the murder hoboing?

Got a gaming question? Ask the Game Master to make a ruling, provide advice or referee your gaming troubles. Send your questions to critforbrains@gmail.com. This week, we’re talking about being the anti-murderhobo.


My players are complete murder hobos. They love combat, and who can blame them? But they never want to talk to anyone, they just want to fight. There’s hardly any roleplay, so they hack and slash through everything. What should I do?


Let me pause and laugh at “murder hobo.”

OK, OK. I’m good. Onto your question…

I know the term well and laugh at all the memes, but for those of you who don’t know the term, “murder hobo” characterizes the roaming D&D player character who is intent on fighting and killing everything. Why use that bluff check when you can chop something’s head off? They leave a path of dead bodies in their path of homelessness.

It can be really frustrating at a GM when you want to do something other than fight.

But you have options.

The first: Give them problems they simply can’t fight.

They can’t fight traps. They cannot smash puzzles. The only way to get certain information may be from an interrogation or a stake-out. They can’t chop the head off of the town mayor at the council meeting they need to attend.

Certainly, the ultimate murder hobos will still find a way to inflict violence during the above-mentioned encounters, but the more you present non-violent situations (especially those that are in step with the characters’ alignments) the less options they’ll have to be all stabby-stabby.

What you also need to do is plan for various outcomes. Combat encounters usually have simple outcomes: Kill everyone and survive OR don’t kill everyone and die. Easy stuff.

But social encounters are more nuanced, and you should do some advance planning, especially if you think they might just get violent anyway.

If they were supposed to interrogate a thief to get information on his guild and disrupt their plans, perhaps if they kill him, the guild’s plans go on unabated and the players have to deal with the fallout.

If they’re supposed to meet with a king for a negotiation, their best bet might be to reach a deal with the king resulting in the players getting some gold, some magic items and a cool new quest.

But if they decide the king is a jerk and they stab him repeatedly, perhaps they are sought for his murder, captured by an overwhelming group of castle guards, stripped of their gear and put in the dungeon. Now they have to find a way out that, once again, can’t be solved with murdering everything to death.

 

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