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Basic Information

The Murderhobo is a (generally pejorative) meta-term for the type of player character that is focused entirely around combat effectiveness and appears to exist only to enter dungeons, kill things, loot their treasure and increase combat effectiveness thereby. Character background will generally be boilerplate at best, development entirely stat based and goals and ambitions restricted to being a more effective example of their type (that is, typically, a more effective killer).

Focusing on dealing death earns the "murder" part of the appellation (many of those kills being, after all, sapient creatures whose homes the character has just invaded), whilst the "hobo" derives from the typical character lifestyle of being a rootless drifter, travelling from one job to the next without any apparent connection to family, society or place.

Many players then double down on this by spending as little in game money as possible on their character's lifestyle, maintaining the lowest standard of living that they can get away with (often using the system's scavenging and foraging rules to avoid paying for food and camping in the wilderness to avoid accommodation costs).

This style of play is often encouraged by making all aspects of the campaign directly plot related and level-scaled to the PCs, allowing them to assume that pretty much any encounter is a "combat challenge" or "skill challenge" that they stand a reasonable change of defeating. Players who are regularly exposed to NPCs who serve little or no purpose except roleplaying and things they cannot reasonably expect to kill tend to develop a wider range of responses.


1. games: Munchkin — Steve Jackson Games — a card game (with myriad expansions and spin-offs) celebrating the murder-hobo-ish aspects of fantasy role-playing games
2. games: Doomed Slayers — by our own Jürgen Hubert — a gaming resource that tries to subvert the Murder-hobo stereotype by envisioning a social order in which killing monsters and taking their treasure makes sense as a career option.

Game and Story Use

  • Under certain circumstances, this can be a viable characterisation - The Drifter is a very similar Western archetype, especially when he happens to be The Gunslinger as well - but it's very easy to overuse and realistically a travelling killer with no desire to settle down somewhere at somepoint should be fairly rare.
  • Can also be lampshaded - realistically, however "heroic" a given bunch of murderhobos might be, it would be entirely reasonable for them to be a source of fear and distrust. Expect normal people to give the heavily armed killing machines a wide berth wherever possible.
    • In worlds where adventurers are common, "murderhobo" might well be an in-setting stereotype for them - dangerous outsiders who are called in to destroy problems and then expected to move on again as soon as possible thereafter.
  • Unless the GM likes running games solely based around killing things down dungeons, it is up to them to discourage murderhobo characters.
    • Picking an appropriate system also helps - "some RPGs" are heavily weighted towards this style of play.
  • Commonly a form of celibate or even chaste hero (for a given value of "hero") … often even worse when they are not.
  • May be less likely to appear where reputation and sanity mechanics exist; when your support structure affects your character sheet, it makes more sense to invest in it.
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