D&D General Violence and D&D: Is "Murderhobo" Essential to D&D?

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Because that's the Basis of a huge number of tripple A games selling millions of copies.

Yep. And there are movies that are violent. And novels. And... so what?

"All the other kids are doing it!" does not seem like a major statement in its favor.
 

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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Yep. And there are movies that are violent. And novels. And... so what?

"All the other kids are doing it!" does not seem like a major statement in its favor.

I don't disagree with your point, but I do think that videogames are a fairer comparison to TRPGs than novels or movies.
 

Coroc

Hero
No non-absurd definition of ‘challenge’ would include a combatant killing a non-combatant as a ‘challenge’. A challenge is ‘testing the abilities of something’. In no way does an armed pc killing an unarmed shopkeeper ’Test their abilities’, unless you are meaning ‘test their ability to be a douchebag’.

Well in the rogue clone nethack ancient PC game (based very much on d&d rules), it was a tough challenge, and one of the key elements to be successful. First of all the shopkeeper was normally an incredible tough opponent, and besides he would summon the keystone cops which attacked you with their thrown cakes blinding your character.
Of course there were other tricks possible to rob a shop e.g. train your pet to do it, teleporting out with the loot (also causing an alarm and a furious shopkeeper) but that was the straight solution. You needed to aquire the loot, somehow buying it was mostly not an option, because you would not have enough Zorkmids (yes the coinage in game was called that way)
But in summary the game was quite murderhobo, you could find scrolls of genocide and blessed versions of these, allowing you to eliminate one kind or a whole class of monsters or convert altars contraire to your alignment by sacrificing dead mobs on them e.g.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I don't disagree with your point, but I do think that videogames are a fairer comparison to TRPGs than novels or movies.

Fine. The point stands that there's a whole lot of violence in our entertainments, in general. The argument, "There's a whole lot of violence in our entertainment," is not itself an argument to have violence in your entertainment.

It is like... hm, my swimming pool is full of water. Let's add another glass of water to it! It isn't supporting the need for the glass of water.
 


Oofta

Legend
In my games I remind people that there are laws and that most places have the means to enforce the laws. Yes, even against mid-to-high level PCs. That along with "no evil PCs" limits the murderhobo aspects.

Add in that I almost never do traditional dungeon crawls, I don't use XP, I don't care how they resolve issues. But violence is still part of the game. For all practical purposes, the PCs in my current campaign are on the front lines of an ongoing war. I don't have a problem with resolving conflicts with violence.

Multiple studies over the years have shown that there is no correlation between games and real world violence. What they have shown is that the game has a positive effect on kids in everything from analytical thinking to working cooperatively with others. I doubt all those kids played a pacifist version of the game.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Fine. The point stands that there's a whole lot of violence in our entertainments, in general. The argument, "There's a whole lot of violence in our entertainment," is not itself an argument to have violence in your entertainment.

It is like... hm, my swimming pool is full of water. Let's add another glass of water to it! It isn't supporting the need for the glass of water.

I concur. I just figured that getting the quibble from someone who agreed with the broader point would be easier or kinder than getting it from someone who wanted to argue about it.
 

Coroc

Hero
Fine. The point stands that there's a whole lot of violence in our entertainments, in general. The argument, "There's a whole lot of violence in our entertainment," is not itself an argument to have violence in your entertainment.

It is like... hm, my swimming pool is full of water. Let's add another glass of water to it! It isn't supporting the need for the glass of water.

Nobody denies this, but in our hobby (with a DM who runs with it) the beautiful thing is you do not have to resort to PC violence as solution for everything, you can resolve things by trickery social skills and other tricks. It is just an option, not being present to much in most video games.
Still some video games offer peaceful solutions, some RPGs are tailored around a combat is the last resort theme, and I believe I read that in the early days it was more grab the loot and run because your XP were calculated by the value of the acquired treasure and killing mobs wouldn't give you any XP.
 

Coroc

Hero
One of the highest achievements of the game was (is, actually - it is still supported) to finish it without killing anyone.

I did some four true ascensions (no save game cheating) which was a very tough challenge on its own, I needed 70000 to 120000 moves for each.
How to do this w/o killing anything totally eludes me. You would have to be incredibly lucky and skillful and equipped with tons of teleportation.
But wasn't it required to kill the wizard of Yendor to get the amulet? Or did you just find the amulet? I just cannot remember it was so long ago.
 

werecorpse

Adventurer
Well I see the games I run and play in are about confrontations where violence is often a possible solution and where various levels of violence can be justifiable. Like a bunch of carrion crawlers have set up a nest near a road and are attacking travellers or a group of humanoids are trying to gather the materials (Included sacrifice) needed to summon a demon. The players decide how much violence they wish to use.

In the last session I ran the party is passing through the wilderness and discovered that a tribe of bugbears ruled by a large green dragon had captured a couple of kenku from a kenku village and were demanding a ransom be paid or death. They interfered to free the kenku but used magic and stealth (no bugbears or dragons were harmed). One of the reasons they chose this course is that they figured the bugbears were no threat to their homelands so they didn’t want to just attack them (Kenku can’t speak so they couldn’t figure out exactly what happened). They later encountered some wood woad who had also captured a Kenku who they claimed had entered on a sacred grove and needed to be punished. They determined that the punishment was not life threatening so they let them proceed without interference. In the previous session they were attacked by various humanoids who had been hired to kill them - that was just a battle, kill or be killed.

Its Not hard to give them justification for a fight if you want to, I prefer it no be simply that the creatures are commonly evilly aligned. Thats why I’m not a huge fan of Planescape or stuff where demons are supposedly “evil” but they act the same as the good guys. In my world demons are evil and can’t help but undertake evil acts. It’s the action that counts.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Yep. And there are movies that are violent. And novels. And... so what?

"All the other kids are doing it!" does not seem like a major statement in its favor.
But this isn't the case of "all the other kids are doing it", D&D is already doing it and has always done it. Violence is in the game's DNA for better or worse. If it wasn't, we wouldn't have had a core class that is mostly if not entirely about the ability to cause violence from day one.

I myself prefer to play more peaceful and non-combat characters, but I would never deny that violence is part of the game. At the very least the potential for violence is. And like I said upthread, it is impossible to remove that from the game for the simple reason that previous editions are still out in the wild in both original and clone versions. Not to mention that if D&D refused to do violence from now on, there are many other publishers who would gladly take its place as a violent fantasy game.

If we really want to remove violence from the game, all we can do is do it at the table level. There's no room for excising it from the game at large. We can't deny the game's wargaming roots, instead we should relish choice.
 

MGibster

Legend
So, the implication is that, since a videogame has violent content, our RPGs must too?

Probably the most popular videogame around recently has been Animal Crossing. No so much death and destruction there.

I think the implication here is that the audience for Animal Crossing has wildly different expectations than the audience for Doom. If I sat down for a nice relaxing game of Animal Crossing I'd be rather disappointed if I had to generate resources by ripping demons apart.

And no matter how we're defining murderhobo, I'm still not clear on how everyone is using it, violence is a major component of D&D with the major abilities of each class revolving around breaking things and killing people. If I sit down to play some D&D I expect there to be a decent amount of combat because the game was built with that assumption. But if I sat down to play Trail of Cthulhu and it was combat heavy I'd be disappointed because that's not where the game shines. (Though there are more action-oriented adaptations of the Gumshoe system.) i.e. If I want to play a game with very little combat, more diplomacy, more peaceful resolutions then D&D is not my first choice.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
But this isn't the case of "all the other kids are doing it", D&D is already doing it and has always done it.

Tradition!

I don't find that to be a compelling argument.

If we really want to remove violence from the game, all we can do is do it at the table level. There's no room for excising it from the game at large. We can't deny the game's wargaming roots, instead we should relish choice.

Don't think "excising". Think, "give more (and more interesting) support for other options to resolve conflicts and challenges." There's a segment of folks who are constantly clamoring for more rules and expansion, right? Well...
 
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AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
"D&D is already doing it and has always done it" isn't 100% accurate, though.

Most editions of the game explicitly allow for non-violent solutions to be used and provide gains in experience. Yes, violence is an option, and most of the word count of the rules happens to relate to violent conflict - but that is not because the game is saying "what you do in this game is go to a location, violence every creature in there, take all the cool stuff, and repeat at some other location." It's because combat is the area of play in which more words are needed in order to reach an established order that accounts for the majority of what a player might try or a GM might have a monster attempt.

But at no point did, or does, D&D actually say "killing stuff is plan A." Sure, a lot of people like playing as if it did... but heck, I've seen people approach every RPG that way, even ones that clearly say "if you engage in combat, you are almost assuredly going to have a dead character." so that's not actually relevant to the question of whether the game necessitates violence in the game-play.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Seems like a lot of the posts are trying to justify violence, whereas the topic is supposed to be if we need it. Or, more specifically, if it needs to be the default conflict resolution mechanic (fancy way of saying "murderhoboism").
 


Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Seems like a lot of the posts are trying to justify violence, whereas the topic is supposed to be if we need it. Or, more specifically, if it needs to be the default conflict resolution mechanic (fancy way of saying "murderhoboism").
So many rules around combat. And that includes spells that enhance actions in combat, do damage in combat, heal damage from combat etc.

So the volume of rules around combat seems to imply that combat is the default conflict resolution mechanic. I think whoever it was who called out Dogs in the Vineyard hit it right. Conflicts start with discussion - which is mechanized. And if the conflict starts at a higher level - say brawling - then it can be descalated down to discussion.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
So you're directly equating murderhobo play with problem players? That makes pretty much everyone I've ever gamed with a problem player by your standards...sorry, not buying it.

Also, doesn't the bit I bolded above fight against the bit I italicized, in that you're in effect telling them to stop having fun?
No, I'm telling them to be better at working with the playstyle at the table. At my table, a murderhobo is a problem player. At others, if that's the group's playstyle, they're free to play how they want.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
IME, violence in D&D is common, but murderhobo behavior is not. The groups I play with usually look for non-violent solutions unless engaged violently.

In a session from a few weeks ago, we came upon a group of bandits that were harassing a family of travelers. We attempted to convince them to leave peacefully, but our skill rolls were bad, and they attacked, so our characters responded in kind.

In a later session we came upon a flock of large birds that were displaying some aggressive behavior. We tried circling around them and, when they didn't attack, we continued on our way.

I award full XP for encounters, even when they are overcome without violence. As far as I'm concerned, it's a good way to encourage the players to be creative with their approaches. It plays to the strengths of TTRPGs (when compared to something like a video game). In a video game, many times you literally have no option if you want to progress but to kill enemies, but in TTRPGs you pretty much always have the choice to try a different option. The non-standard approach won't necessarily always succeed, but I think it warrants a reward nonetheless.

I've played very enjoyable sessions of D&D that didn't see a single combat. That said, my players and I enjoy the combat mini-game, so we prefer it at least occasionally.

I think that rewarding non-violent solutions encourages them, and enforcing consequences strongly discourages murderhobo behavior. If you give the players opportunities to succeed without violence, then they'll realize and appreciate all of the tools at their disposal, rather than seeing their characters as nothing more than hammers.
 


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