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


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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I award full XP for encounters, even when they are overcome without violence.
This is important, yes. I try to do likewise. However...

As far as I'm concerned, it's a good way to encourage the players to be creative with their approaches.
...their 'creative approach' eventually came to revolve around attempts to double-dip: gain xp for a non-combat solution to an encounter and then try to gain xp again for encountering the same creatures a second time and this time killing them off.

So I have to be careful. If I-as-DM know for sure there's no chance of a second encounter then I'll gladly give xp for a non-combat solution. But if I see a chance (or know for sure) there'll be a second encounter I have to wait on it; in that as far as possible I only like to give xp for any given encounter once.

Simplistic example: if a group of gate guards are worth 96 xp in total, talking or sneaking your way past them will (or should, if I'm paying attention) get you the same 96 xp you'd have got for killing them. Coming back and killing them later doesn't get you another 96, yet the players will argue that it should; as far as I'm concerned the most xp those guards have in them is 96.

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.
Ditto.

Problem is, some players get bored real fast in sessions that revolve solely around exploration and-or social interaction. Also, some players who might not necessarily get bored sometimes play characters who will (this would be me).
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Simplistic example: if a group of gate guards are worth 96 xp in total, talking or sneaking your way past them will (or should, if I'm paying attention) get you the same 96 xp you'd have got for killing them. Coming back and killing them later doesn't get you another 96, yet the players will argue that it should; as far as I'm concerned the most xp those guards have in them is 96.

I actually might do so - if there are different purposes to the challenge of the encounter. Sneaking past them and then pointlessly picking a fight - yeah, I'm not giving anyone double XP for that. But if they did successfully sneak past them to get in and they triggered some form of alarm that got the gate closed and the guards put on alert, that's a significantly new encounter even if it's with the same NPCs.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Challenge does not require risk, unless you want to go through contortions defining "risk" in new and creative ways.

In the game, though, I definitely lean toward challenge that does require risk. And, in particular, if there's no risk, then maybe you don't need any dice.

Example: if the heroes come to a locked door in the hallway, and the rogue says that he/she wants to try to pick it. Where's the risk of failure? The DM should either just narrate that the rogue opens the lock, maybe with some creative description, or says that it's beyond the rogue's ability.

Now, let's add some detail: they are being chased by something, and the locked door is on the side of the passage. Now the situation has changed:
  • First, the players have a choice to make, whether to stop and take the time to pick the lock, or to keep running.
  • Second, there is a potential reward to opening the lock, but at a potential cost.
Here I can see a reason to resolve it with dice.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
This is important, yes. I try to do likewise. However...

...their 'creative approach' eventually came to revolve around attempts to double-dip: gain xp for a non-combat solution to an encounter and then try to gain xp again for encountering the same creatures a second time and this time killing them off.

So I have to be careful. If I-as-DM know for sure there's no chance of a second encounter then I'll gladly give xp for a non-combat solution. But if I see a chance (or know for sure) there'll be a second encounter I have to wait on it; in that as far as possible I only like to give xp for any given encounter once.

Simplistic example: if a group of gate guards are worth 96 xp in total, talking or sneaking your way past them will (or should, if I'm paying attention) get you the same 96 xp you'd have got for killing them. Coming back and killing them later doesn't get you another 96, yet the players will argue that it should; as far as I'm concerned the most xp those guards have in them is 96.

Ditto.

Problem is, some players get bored real fast in sessions that revolve solely around exploration and-or social interaction. Also, some players who might not necessarily get bored sometimes play characters who will (this would be me).
I used to take issue with "double dipping" but eventually decided it isn't an issue.

Let's take a purely combat scenario where there are guards on a drawbridge and archers on top of the wall. The PCs kill the guards while taking heavy fire from the archers, and get inside the castle. The archers fall back to the throne room (as they've been instructed to do). When the players get to the throne room, they face off against the BBEG and those archers, and ultimately defeat them.

I see no reason why, in the above scenario, the PCs shouldn't get XP for the archers twice. They fought the archers twice, taking a risk twice. If they killed the archers above the gate and then a second group of archers in the throne room, I would award XP for both groups. I don't see much of a difference between fighting the same group a second time or an identical group for the first time.

Don't get me wrong. If it's a continuous fight with the archers into the throne room, I'd only award XP once. Awarding XP a second time is predicated on the archers having time to recover. If the archers are all at 1 hp from having taken a fireball, they're effectively in the original encounter as far as I'm concerned.

From there, it isn't a huge leap that if they talk their way past the archers, and then have to fight them later, that they should get XP for both. I would grant XP for fighting or talking, and I would grant XP for fighting them twice, so why not for fighting and talking?

Maybe if my players were trying to game the system it would be a bigger deal, but they don't. I have sizable achievement XP rewards in my games, so "double dipping" on minor encounters is somewhat self defeating in the first place. You'll advance much more quickly in my game if you overcome goals and then continue on to new goals than if you double back to double-dip by killing everyone you talked your way past.

YMMV
 

S'mon

Legend
The game seemed to become a lot more violence-centric when 3e came out, combat became the primary or even sole source of XP, and the 'balanced encounter' paradigm strongly encouraged combat over other approaches. It became even more combat centric in 4e; with a slight rebalance in 5e. But 5e is still set by default with the game centring around combat-balanced encounters, and XP being from combat. I'd definitely prefer to see the game rebalance back towards an older model where PCs often preferred to avoid combat, and fighting was often a really bad idea.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Tradition!

I don't find that to be a compelling argument.
I was following this train of thought.
Someone: "Lot's of fiction and entertainment is violent."
You: "But D&D doesn't have to be violent"
Me: "But D&D already is violent and has never not been violent"

Just my point, to me discussing on whether D&D should be a violent game is moot. It is already and that can't be changed -unless you can summon an army of ninjas to steal and destroy every single copy in existence-, and any edition going forward has to appeal to existing players anyway. The game is played as violently as tables and players decide to play it, and that's something that harms nobody not in these tables.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Double dipping isn't something I worry about because I dont give XP for kills. If you do, one way to overcome it is to give out half XP for bypassing a challenge, say sneaking past some spiders, but leaving the challenge in place, but full XP for overcoming the challenge in a more permanent way, say either negotiating passage past or killing the sliders. That's more details than I want to deal.with personally, but it's one way to go.
 

Mirtek

Hero
The game seemed to become a lot more violence-centric when 3e came out, combat became the primary or even sole source of XP, and the 'balanced encounter' paradigm strongly encouraged combat over other approaches. It became even more combat centric in 4e; with a slight rebalance in 5e. But 5e is still set by default with the game centring around combat-balanced encounters, and XP being from combat. I'd definitely prefer to see the game rebalance back towards an older model where PCs often preferred to avoid combat, and fighting was often a really bad idea.
To be fair it was totally violence-centric during it's infancy too. Evolving out of a wargame and all the early stories about the first parties running the dungeons hosted by Gygax are all about the new monsters they slayed and the new items they found.

With well rounded characters such as Melf (yes, the famous inventor of the acid arrow spell) whose player didn't even bother naming him and the character sheet only had "Gender: M." and "Race: Elf" thus giving us Melf. Or Erac's Cousin whose main personality attribute was that he was dual wielding two vorpal blades.

Yes, those truly were the days of deep roleplaying and sophisticated stories before 3e ruined it all.
 

pemerton

Legend
no one is seriously suggesting that killing random shopkeepers be awarded with XP
I think in AD&D killing a random shopkeeper can be worth XP. Maybe not much - and maybe not much for the treasure recovered either, because there are guidelines around ratios of gp:XP that reflect the risk invovled - but some.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I dont think anyone in this thread is seriously suggesting that awarding XP for killing shopkeepers is still a useful or necessary part of the game. Better? I get that it used to, kinda, but it seems antiquated and tone deaf at this point. Unless you mean here's some XP, now get out of my basement... which is where that would get you in my game.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I used to take issue with "double dipping" but eventually decided it isn't an issue.

Let's take a purely combat scenario where there are guards on a drawbridge and archers on top of the wall. The PCs kill the guards while taking heavy fire from the archers, and get inside the castle. The archers fall back to the throne room (as they've been instructed to do). When the players get to the throne room, they face off against the BBEG and those archers, and ultimately defeat them.

I see no reason why, in the above scenario, the PCs shouldn't get XP for the archers twice. They fought the archers twice, taking a risk twice. If they killed the archers above the gate and then a second group of archers in the throne room, I would award XP for both groups. I don't see much of a difference between fighting the same group a second time or an identical group for the first time.

Don't get me wrong. If it's a continuous fight with the archers into the throne room, I'd only award XP once. Awarding XP a second time is predicated on the archers having time to recover. If the archers are all at 1 hp from having taken a fireball, they're effectively in the original encounter as far as I'm concerned.

From there, it isn't a huge leap that if they talk their way past the archers, and then have to fight them later, that they should get XP for both. I would grant XP for fighting or talking, and I would grant XP for fighting them twice, so why not for fighting and talking?

Maybe if my players were trying to game the system it would be a bigger deal, but they don't. I have sizable achievement XP rewards in my games, so "double dipping" on minor encounters is somewhat self defeating in the first place. You'll advance much more quickly in my game if you overcome goals and then continue on to new goals than if you double back to double-dip by killing everyone you talked your way past.

YMMV
Ah - I think there's a difference in how we do xp that hasn't been mentioned yet: in my game you only get xp for what you defeat (or otherwise succeed at), be it by combat or whatever other means.

In your example the archers aren't defeated at the gate: the party only get xp for the gate guards they actually defeated (or caused to surrender, etc.). Xp for the archers would be included in the throne room battle; and if the party decide to abandon the mission after the gate battle they never get xp for the archers at all. That said, the archers would probably be worth a few more xp each than their level/HD would normally dictate, due to their positional superiority and greater-than-usual threat.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Ah - I think there's a difference in how we do xp that hasn't been mentioned yet: in my game you only get xp for what you defeat (or otherwise succeed at), be it by combat or whatever other means.

In your example the archers aren't defeated at the gate: the party only get xp for the gate guards they actually defeated (or caused to surrender, etc.). Xp for the archers would be included in the throne room battle; and if the party decide to abandon the mission after the gate battle they never get xp for the archers at all. That said, the archers would probably be worth a few more xp each than their level/HD would normally dictate, due to their positional superiority and greater-than-usual threat.
Fair enough. Rather than using defeated as my yardstick, I consider whether the challenge they posed was overcome.

That might mean defeating them in combat. It could also mean sneaking past them, or even recruiting them to your cause.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I dont think anyone in this thread is seriously suggesting that awarding XP for killing shopkeepers is still a useful or necessary part of the game. Better? I get that it used to, kinda, but it seems antiquated and tone deaf at this point. Unless you mean here's some XP, now get out of my basement... which is where that would get you in my game.
Oh, I suppose I'll take up that gauntlet...

If the players/PCs decide that killing shopkeepers is the way to make their living, in my view it's the DM's job to run with it as part of letting them play their characters as they will. Chances are all involved will probably get bored after a while and move on to more interesting fare.

And is this the right place to mention that the very first PC death in my current campaign came at the hands of a shopkeeper?

Party overnighting in a village en route to their first adventure, some thieves stole some of their gear. Party notice said gear for sale in a shop the next day and go in to confront (not violently) the shopkeeper and ask where he got it. Things went sideways, violence erupted, one PC dead before shopkeeper is subdued. Party took their gear back (and, amazingly, nothing else!) and left the tied-up shopkeeper for the local constable to deal with.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Fair enough. Rather than using defeated as my yardstick, I consider whether the challenge they posed was overcome.

That might mean defeating them in combat. It could also mean sneaking past them, or even recruiting them to your cause.
Yes, all of these would count as defeating them. My point is that no matter how you do it you can't (barring very unusual circumstances) defeat them twice.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Yeah, not so much. If you want to wander around killing innocent shopkeepers you arent doing it my game. I call that playing to GTFO. I dont feel at all beholden in some way to the job of GMing that I need to run that game. If people want to play it that's fine, but I'm not running it. I'm bored of the idea already just talking about it.

Edit- cheating murdering blackguard shopkeepers are fair game, of course.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
If the players/PCs decide that killing shopkeepers is the way to make their living, in my view it's the DM's job to run with it as part of letting them play their characters as they will.

Erm, no.

You had your Session Zero, and talked about the play expectations, right? If that didn't include killing shopkeepers as the way to make their living, then no, the GM is not obligated to support it.
 

werecorpse

Adventurer
Wow, that’s a thorough session 0, or a short & limited campaign.

For me the mechanics is mostly about regulating the violence because it comes from a wargame (emphasis game) background. That part of the pure tactical choices and challenges is that part of the game.

The roleplaying bit, is about a bunch of different stuff but often about justification and consequences. IMO murderhobos tend to arise where there is weak justification & consequences in game. Where “I want their stuff and enjoy the tactical fight (or power trip beat down) & if I win there are no negative consequences“ is as far as the thought process goes. It’s possible to set up this kind of beer and pretzel game, so it plays like a D&D boardgame, meet ankhegs in room 1 ravening troll in room 2, Orc demon worshippers in room 3 etc. In these games the roleplaying tends to be how the characters interact with each Other and divide treasure or approach combats.

If however the justification and consequence dials are turned up. Why are we doing this, what is the point of getting this treasure, what happens if we rob the dragon? It’s a different style of game.

Both can be fun - for me it’s about story above roleplay and/or tactics elements of the game and murderhobo makes a dull story.

I don’t think murderhoboism is essential (or even that common from my person experience).
 



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