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Uhh Ohhhh……My Kid is a Murder Hobo!?!

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

Tabletop gaming, Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) in particular, uses the term “murderhobo” to refer to a player who kills non-player characters and property indiscriminately to the extent that they ignore the story line of the game and all group goals. The game’s story takes the backseat to all fighting and this can cause group disharmony as social and problem solving skills are discarded. A good game of dungeons and dragons will have three central pillars of game play: exploration, social interaction and balanced combat. The murderhobo play-style I just described ignores two out of the three pillars.

Many kids learn the murderhobo play-style through video games because most video games are “kill everyone” and “reckless property damage is ok” situations. When kids first start playing D&D they bring over this video game mentality and need time to adjust to a table top role-playing game which is more about collaboration and group storytelling.

How can we elevate the player’s thinking to encourage focusing on the story and fight off the video game industry mentality with the aim of obtaining maximum fun for everyone in the D&D group?

#1) Have Consequences

You have to start your game with all players in agreement as to play-style. We accomplish this through a strong Session Zero where everyone agrees and talks about what they want out of the game. During your Session Zero talk about some basic house rules like “no player-vs-player” interactions or “no evil aligned characters.” Emphasize you are now working as a team. Talk about what consequences could occur during the game:

- Town Guards arrest the players,

- Merchants start to not want to buy or sell with your Group,

- Inns will refuse to serve or house you,

- Bounties for your arrest will start to appear….

A strong Session Zero will set expectations and provide a good framework for your game.

#2) Increase Player Engagement

So easy to write and so difficult to accomplish. Did all your players get a good night’s sleep? Are they hungry? Are they in a good mood? Considering these external influences, you may be fighting an uphill battle even before the game starts. How to win this battle? Level up your game!