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Tips for hooking murder hobos into the game

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  • Tips for hooking murder hobos into the game

    Hi folks! Cross posting from Reddit, but hoping for some advice. I've GMed many times but normally for players who also appreciate my politically and intrigue based games.

    Due to real life some of the players have moved away and I'm left with just one of my regular players and a friend of his who has mostly only played D20 games. I have some hope for him but he put way less thought into his character's backstory than I normally expect from my players.

    I'm not trying to force him to enjoy my type of games but I do want to expose him and have challenges/quests he'll be motivated to complete and have fun doing.

    It's a dark ages game in Hungary and his character is an orphaned street thug embraced by a gangrel. Recipe for a murder hobos if I ever saw one. His sheet isn't to unbalanced, as I was able to impress upon him the impprtance of having skills like subterfuge and at least average intelligence, so I have some hope.

    Any thoughts and ideas would be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    Keep the game goal oriented, which means the more linear thinking of d20 games isn't alienated. Then just make sure every problem has multiple acceptable solutions, usually with combat be the least optimal, but still valid option. Assuming that the new player doesn't lose interest, they will grow accustomed to the different play style.

    ‚ÄčAlternatively you can run an all assamite game where the game is all about the setup for the kill, thus the murder hobo concept is the central focus, yet it is all about the methodical setup and intelligence gathering, with only one or two combat scenes total.

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    • #3
      I prefer to think in terms of building. Let him murder some random people for cash, as he can work into the Mob, Inquisition, various cults, Hunters and so forth. Let him rob, and move into cat burglary or even diplomat. Evolution, not revolution. Present opportunities for expansion and see where they go.

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      • #4
        As mentioned above having the game more goal-oriented than free form will make it easier for you to guide the action so that things stay as a decent mix of combat and non-combat situations. I think one of the easiest things you can do to make that easier is to have the Gangrel get a patron from among the many Cainite lords who angle for power in Dark Ages Eastern Europe. Then the patron can guide the activities and set parameters, while offering tangible rewards for success (all of which should please a D20 style player used to getting treasure while still being the socio-political climb Vampire players are familiar with.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by g3taso View Post
          I prefer to think in terms of building. Let him murder some random people for cash, as he can work into the Mob, Inquisition, various cults, Hunters and so forth. Let him rob, and move into cat burglary or even diplomat. Evolution, not revolution. Present opportunities for expansion and see where they go.
          Murder hobo is a term that referes to the overall way games like D&D normally play, the characters going from dungeon to dungeon, killing monsters and taking their stuff to grow stronger so they can go to the next dungeon, kill a bigger monster and take its stuff. :P

          That being said, some of what you said has some merit. I could see this possibly building into a sort of anti-Robin Hood for the character as he quickly is cast out of Cainite Society for his antics, but might just have what it takes to survive, and then needs to find allies.

          Another, similar idea is perhaps suggest to the player that maybe they can attempt to build their own "thieves guild", playing the political game that way.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Vendrin View Post
            I'm not trying to force him to enjoy my type of games but I do want to expose him and have challenges/quests he'll be motivated to complete and have fun doing.

            Any thoughts and ideas would be greatly appreciated!
            Tell this stuff to him outright. "I'm running a roleplay-focused game and I'd like the PCs to have significant interpersonal connections to the setting. Combat won't be a big focus next to political intrigue. I know this isn't the type of game you usually play, but I think you could have a lot of fun with it if you're willing to give things a chance. Here's some advice for how to make a PC who will do well in this type of game."

            If he doesn't think he'll fun in your politics-focused chronicle, great. Better if he tells you up front. It'll just be frustrating for everyone if he tries to play a murder hobo in a game where you don't want PCs played that way.


            Blood and Bourbon, my New Orleans-based Vampire chronicle.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Beckett View Post

              Murder hobo is a term that referes to the overall way games like D&D normally play, the characters going from dungeon to dungeon, killing monsters and taking their stuff to grow stronger so they can go to the next dungeon, kill a bigger monster and take its stuff. :P
              No, it's not, its meant to be a commentary on a CERTAIN TYPE of roleplayer who's character have no real connections(thus hobos) who are built purely for combat(Murder) I've seen plenty of gangrel murderhobos and played plenty of D&D with characters who have connections to society and care about things other than murdering.

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              • #8
                My advice, talk openly with your players about that not being the usual way you run a game, but also tell them you're willing to give it a shot.

                The community of gamers and game designers have viewed the WoD as more politically and socially focused than other games, in no small part because LARPing has been such a large component of the culture. Sashaying in a velvet dress while brandishing a cigarette holder is a much pleasanter way to spend a Saturday night with your friends than crawling on your belly in full riot gear, while brandishing a sub-machine gun and propane torch. (Though, note there are large numbers of people who do find the latter a fun way to spend a weekend. Paintball sabbat chronicles could be a real growth sector for larping... hmmmm...)

                It is fairly easy, however, to find plenty of "murder hobos" in the fluff of the standard game.

                In the modern era, most street level Sabbat packs tend towards random violence to get their chuckles. Also, the less cerebral Anarchs, especially among the Gangrel and Brujah can stray into this territory. There are Nosferatu leatherfaces and Malkavian serial killers for a more literal take on "murder hobos". The Giovanni have branches of the family that stoke brushfire wars around the world to drive up the supply of souls. Setites, Tlacique, and Sabbat alike have likely taken part in the narco wars of Mexico. The Assamites had "murder hobo" as their stereotype for many years in the game.

                Even the lofty Ventrue, Toreador, and Tremere all maintain sheriffs, scourges, and staffs of ghouls willing to go kill that cop who is snooping around, that undeclared Caitiff, or that family who refuses to sell their home where the new museum is being built. Let's say you're a random human, with a journalist husband who is reporting on weird happenings out at the country club and is strangely resistant to Dominate... well, when the vampires and ghouls break into your house at 3 am, slaughtering you and your whole family, whose the murder hobo, now?

                Not only do most of these concepts apply in a DA game, but it is just a much more violent era to begin with. The Tzimisce and Tremere are engaged in open warfare. The Ventrue are pushing hard to the Ost. Saracens and remnants of pagan Vikings are encircling Christendom, or Christendom is launching an aggressive expansion campaign against it's neighbors, depending on your perspective. Then, of course, there are the Mongols, who are not an exception to this general era of violence and mayhem.

                The mechanics work well to force at least a minimum of roleplaying in any game, no matter how kill-and-steal oriented. The Willpower/Nature system provides direct reward for playing your character... and Natures like Bravo, Sadist, and Sociopath make "murder hobo" an easy character to play. The Frenzy system guarantees that no matter how chess-like your troupe is, sometimes claws will meet flesh. The combat system is... well, often homebrewed might be the politest description... but it's stripped down mechanics make it easy to play a pc like a Hollywood action hero, especially with physical disciplines.

                Done right, WoD combat can have a high kewl factor.

                It's not like you can't tell compelling, dramatic and sometimes even humorous stories in the context of excessive violence. If your new player makes you stretch a little as an ST, maybe that's a good thing. There is a large and very popular body of serious artistic work portraying warfare, from Beowulf to Blackhawk Down.

                There are also more than a few "serious" stories about murder hobos. Take a look at Natural Born Killers or Walking Dead. If Rick Grimes and co. aren't murder hobos, I don't know what is. Frankly, a much larger fandom surrounds those genres than surrounds the WoD.

                So, maybe, stretch a little as an ST, and give the random violence thing a try. The only thing you have to lose is a whole bunch of npcs!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Lian View Post

                  No, it's not, its meant to be a commentary on a CERTAIN TYPE of roleplayer who's character have no real connections(thus hobos) who are built purely for combat(Murder) I've seen plenty of gangrel murderhobos and played plenty of D&D with characters who have connections to society and care about things other than murdering.
                  It can apply to player type, to a degree, but its generally meant system. For instance, by the book, you get XP for killing things. You need XP to develope. You also get treasure by killing things and taking their treasure. Mostly the group has to travel to places outside of their home city/village/nation/plane of existence to do so. None of this is exclusively, but the game itself is built around that concept overall, even if there are exceptions such as "non-combat encounters", RP XP, or settings that are open to other playstyles more than others. Im not saying its a bad thing, but when coming from games where that is the overall expectation and/or reward system, it can be difficult to understand that surviving and slaying a Werewolf doesnt get you, in itself a level up or more dots in Backrounds, (and is likely to actual remove Background dots as allies die or whatever).

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                  • #10
                    Thank you all for your help and suggestions. Had a successful first session with the player and think it will go well going forward

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                    • #11
                      Thats good. Im curious what happened? The WoD is different than most other games in a lot of ways, but at the same time there is plenty of similarities and different playstyles.

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                      • #12
                        I made sure that his sire was in place to give him clear goals to work to, and after a few beers he loosened up and joined in some decent role-playing with the rest of the group ( I had told them to go out of their way to involve his character in discussion and thought process) All in all a win I think for now. Just have to see how it goes.

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                        • #13
                          I put out plot hooks geared towards the player's interest. If they refuse to engage properly into the game, their character learns the harsh way. If the player continues, well thats a different conversation

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