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Gary Gygax & Role Playing Mastery


Gamer Talk

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MendedWall12 wrote:
You guys take me too seriously. I didn't mean anything for murder-hobo more than adventurer. After all, you have to admit, there is more than a fair amount to this game that relies essentially on "kill it and take its stuff." :D

Yes, but that meme has to be stomped on. I did play a couple of games with "murder hobos" the kind of guys who routinely kill old men on the road, peasants, shopkeepers, etc. wasnt pleasant, and I left.

Despite the fact they were in their late teens, they acted like kids, sniggering and laughing like Beavis and Buthead.

If anything in this game is "badwrongfun" that would be it- especially as myself, one girl, one other older player and the DM werent having fun, just those two. (the other two players left too)

So, we should never use that term except for as a example of how NOT to play.


I would disagree, only from the perspective, that if, I, a player who knows that the kind of gameplay you're talking about isn't the kind of fun that I want to have, then I take back all the power of that word, if I use it to just mean adventurer. It's, just a little, like when rappers take that word that means African-American, that was used derogatorily for so many years, and use it themselves as a term of endearment. They've taken the power out of the word to hurt, and use it as a means to address each other with affection.


Tactical Mastery Tip #1 - Know the goal. The mission should have a set goal.

Gygax states that when the goal is successfully achieved, the mission is complete and the adventure should conclude at that point. That's pretty direct.

He acknowledges they can overlap, but to differentiate mission from goal, he says that the mission is a description of what must be done to achieve success. The goal is an enumeration of the conditions that will prevail when the mission is complete.

For an example, he talks about the mission being to catch a criminal. The goal of the mission is accomplished when the criminal is behind bars.

I know I've played in groups where our goal for a session or the task in front of us was never defined. We basically moved ahead and looked for monsters and treasure. That's certainly not tactics. Not much of a strategy either, for that matter.

Knowing the mission and defining the goal leads into his next tactic, which relates to objectives.


I know I've played in such groups as well - though it was generally more a matter of having a larger multi-session goal, but no clearly broken down mission for the day. Or of having multiple competing sub-goals.


MendedWall12 wrote:
I would disagree, only from the perspective, that if, I, a player who knows that the kind of gameplay you're talking about isn't the kind of fun that I want to have, then I take back all the power of that word, if I use it to just mean adventurer. It's, just a little, like when rappers take that word that means African-American, that was used derogatorily for so many years, and use it themselves as a term of endearment. They've taken the power out of the word to hurt, and use it as a means to address each other with affection.

I see your point, and agree with it, but will beg to differ over your chosen comparison. I've seen 12 Years a Slave and I can tell you there is no way to redeem that word from it's historic setting.

one other example - sorry for the Godwin:
There are a few words like that. Another would be the use of "kapo" as a name for someone of Jewish ancestry who is in charge. There's just no way to make that term acceptable.


Quark Blast wrote:
MendedWall12 wrote:
I would disagree, only from the perspective, that if, I, a player who knows that the kind of gameplay you're talking about isn't the kind of fun that I want to have, then I take back all the power of that word, if I use it to just mean adventurer. It's, just a little, like when rappers take that word that means African-American, that was used derogatorily for so many years, and use it themselves as a term of endearment. They've taken the power out of the word to hurt, and use it as a means to address each other with affection.

I see your point, and agree with it, but will beg to differ over your chosen comparison. I've seen 12 Years a Slave and I can tell you there is no way to redeem that word from it's historic setting.

** spoiler omitted **

Point taken. I personally would never try to redeem either of those words, but I'm neither African-American, nor Jewish. I am, however, an avid RP gamer, so, from that perspective, I can redeem murder-hobo for my own purposes. Right?


MendedWall12 wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:
MendedWall12 wrote:
I would disagree, only from the perspective, that if, I, a player who knows that the kind of gameplay you're talking about isn't the kind of fun that I want to have, then I take back all the power of that word, if I use it to just mean adventurer. It's, just a little, like when rappers take that word that means African-American, that was used derogatorily for so many years, and use it themselves as a term of endearment. They've taken the power out of the word to hurt, and use it as a means to address each other with affection.

I see your point, and agree with it, but will beg to differ over your chosen comparison. I've seen 12 Years a Slave and I can tell you there is no way to redeem that word from it's historic setting.

** spoiler omitted **

Point taken. I personally would never try to redeem either of those words, but I'm neither African-American, nor Jewish. I am, however, an avid RP gamer, so, from that perspective, I can redeem murder-hobo for my own purposes. Right?

That's kind of my approach. Also, not being African-American or Jewish, I'm not going to tell them they shouldn't try.

As for murder-hobo, I'm fine with others using it, as long as they don't push it on me. If you want to play in a murder-hobo style, go right ahead. Just don't tell me that I'm really playing a murder-hobo, but I'm just denying it.
To stretch the analogy, that's not like the rappers using that term for themselves, but to another black man who is bothered by it and with no interest in redeeming it. All on a completely different scale, of course.

I'm not sure "murder-hobo" really falls into the same category of redeemable. It's far more a descriptive term which can only be used positively as a joke, rather than an essentially neutral word that's taken on horrific connotations through use.


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thejeff wrote:

I'm not sure "murder-hobo" really falls into the same category of redeemable. It's far more a descriptive term which can only be used positively as a joke, rather than an essentially neutral word that's taken on horrific connotations through use.

I've seen people use it in vastly different ways. It's a bit like "optimiser" in my mind - that could be argued as purely descriptive too but the majority of the time it's used more broadly than that with a whole bunch of unspoken and non-universal assumptions along with it.

I generally use murderhobo positively, without humour but what I mean is a campaign of wandering from place to place solving the locals' problems (generally by going to the monster's lair and killing it). Until I heard some people here get quite riled up about it I'd always assumed it was just a lighthearted description a game where moral issues were in the background (and no more complicated than "goodies vs baddies"). Too me it was no more negative than a "gritty" or "shades of grey" campaign.


@Steve Geddes, that is much the same way I intended, and mirrors my own experience as well. I guess I've never seen a reason to get upset at that specific nomenclature when, as you say, it can be very positively used to describe a game where morality isn't a major player, and the various missions or quests amount to "kill it and take its stuff." I don't think there's anything wrong with a game like that, and I certainly wouldn't presume to tell anyone playing a game like that, that "they're doing it wrong." :)


Steve Geddes wrote:
thejeff wrote:

I'm not sure "murder-hobo" really falls into the same category of redeemable. It's far more a descriptive term which can only be used positively as a joke, rather than an essentially neutral word that's taken on horrific connotations through use.

I've seen people use it in vastly different ways. It's a bit like "optimiser" in my mind - that could be argued as purely descriptive too but the majority of the time it's used more broadly than that with a whole bunch of unspoken and non-universal assumptions along with it.

I generally use murderhobo positively, without humour but what I mean is a campaign of wandering from place to place solving the locals' problems (generally by going to the monster's lair and killing it). Until I heard some people here get quite riled up about it I'd always assumed it was just a lighthearted description a game where moral issues were in the background (and no more complicated than "goodies vs baddies"). Too me it was no more negative than a "gritty" or "shades of grey" campaign.

Well, "lighthearted" isn't really that far from "joke".

"Murder" taken literally is a pretty harsh term.


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thejeff wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
thejeff wrote:

I'm not sure "murder-hobo" really falls into the same category of redeemable. It's far more a descriptive term which can only be used positively as a joke, rather than an essentially neutral word that's taken on horrific connotations through use.

I've seen people use it in vastly different ways. It's a bit like "optimiser" in my mind - that could be argued as purely descriptive too but the majority of the time it's used more broadly than that with a whole bunch of unspoken and non-universal assumptions along with it.

I generally use murderhobo positively, without humour but what I mean is a campaign of wandering from place to place solving the locals' problems (generally by going to the monster's lair and killing it). Until I heard some people here get quite riled up about it I'd always assumed it was just a lighthearted description a game where moral issues were in the background (and no more complicated than "goodies vs baddies"). Too me it was no more negative than a "gritty" or "shades of grey" campaign.

Well, "lighthearted" isn't really that far from "joke".

"Murder" taken literally is a pretty harsh term.

I don't think the murder in murderhobo is intended to be taken literally.


HolmesandWatson wrote:


It's all but impossible to deny that Tolkien heavily influenced Gygax, despite his minimizing of the impact (which I do believe is primarily related to the legal issues). And people who know better than I say agree that the magic system is Vanceian.

That's because many people in this hobby are surprisingly not that widely read on their Fantasy. If you read more of the selection of books that Gygax lists, you might come to the conclusion that Fritz Leiber, Robert Howard, Michael Moorcock, and Orson Scott Card, as a package, are far heavier influences on the development of D+D than Tolkien, and in my opinion, you'd be highly justified in saying so.

My personnel thought is that Gygax was aware of how well Tolkien was selling and borrowed a few names and characterizations to insert into a game that was already pretty far jelled. I don't however see much of Gandalf in the Magic-User class, not nearly as much as I see Aragorn and others in the Ranger. I do see a lot more Fritz Leiber in classes such as the Rogue (where his chance to use magic items, now known as UMD) was clearly drawn from along with parts of the original Barbarian class.

From Tolkien, I'd say that Gygax most heavily borrowed the original 3 races of Haflings, (now condensed into one), a bit of the flavoring for Elven subraces, and the nameplate for the Ranger class) The Thief however is almost pure Lieber, and the Barbarian pretty much Howard. Lieber, along with Moorcock contributes heavily into the flavor of the Greyhawk setting.

Grand Lodge

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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
The Thief however is almost pure Lieber

You'd have to ask DrDeth, not Gygax for the inspiration of the thief class. :-)


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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
HolmesandWatson wrote:


It's all but impossible to deny that Tolkien heavily influenced Gygax, despite his minimizing of the impact (which I do believe is primarily related to the legal issues). And people who know better than I say agree that the magic system is Vanceian.

That's because many people in this hobby are surprisingly not that widely read on their Fantasy. If you read more of the selection of books that Gygax lists, you might come to the conclusion that Fritz Leiber, Robert Howard, Michael Moorcock, and Orson Scott Card, as a package, are far heavier influences on the development of D+D than Tolkien, and in my opinion, you'd be highly justified in saying so.

My personnel thought is that Gygax was aware of how well Tolkien was selling and borrowed a few names and characterizations to insert into a game that was already pretty far jelled. I don't however see much of Gandalf in the Magic-User class, not nearly as much as I see Aragorn and others in the Ranger. I do see a lot more Fritz Leiber in classes such as the Rogue (where his chance to use magic items, now known as UMD) was clearly drawn from along with parts of the original Barbarian class.

From Tolkien, I'd say that Gygax most heavily borrowed the original 3 races of Haflings, (now condensed into one), a bit of the flavoring for Elven subraces, and the nameplate for the Ranger class) The Thief however is almost pure Lieber, and the Barbarian pretty much Howard. Lieber, along with Moorcock contributes heavily into the flavor of the Greyhawk setting.

I'm pretty sure Orson Scott Card wasn't a big influence. :)

I'm not sure who you might have been thinking of.

He may well have been downplaying Tolkien's influence - there were legal issues, as H&W said. There are definitely things taken directly from Tolkien, but the general feel, especially of early D&D is very off. I see little reason not to basically accept his words in Appendix N:

Quote:
The most immediate influences upon AD&D were probably de Camp & Pratt, R. E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, H. P. Lovecraft, and A. Merritt


thejeff wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
HolmesandWatson wrote:


It's all but impossible to deny that Tolkien heavily influenced Gygax, despite his minimizing of the impact (which I do believe is primarily related to the legal issues). And people who know better than I say agree that the magic system is Vanceian.

That's because many people in this hobby are surprisingly not that widely read on their Fantasy. If you read more of the selection of books that Gygax lists, you might come to the conclusion that Fritz Leiber, Robert Howard, Michael Moorcock, and Orson Scott Card, as a package, are far heavier influences on the development of D+D than Tolkien, and in my opinion, you'd be highly justified in saying so.

My personnel thought is that Gygax was aware of how well Tolkien was selling and borrowed a few names and characterizations to insert into a game that was already pretty far jelled. I don't however see much of Gandalf in the Magic-User class, not nearly as much as I see Aragorn and others in the Ranger. I do see a lot more Fritz Leiber in classes such as the Rogue (where his chance to use magic items, now known as UMD) was clearly drawn from along with parts of the original Barbarian class.

From Tolkien, I'd say that Gygax most heavily borrowed the original 3 races of Haflings, (now condensed into one), a bit of the flavoring for Elven subraces, and the nameplate for the Ranger class) The Thief however is almost pure Lieber, and the Barbarian pretty much Howard. Lieber, along with Moorcock contributes heavily into the flavor of the Greyhawk setting.

I'm pretty sure Orson Scott Card wasn't a big influence. :)

I'm not sure who you might have been thinking of.

He may well have been downplaying Tolkien's influence - there were legal issues, as H&W said. There are definitely things taken directly from Tolkien, but the general feel, especially of early D&D is very off. I see little reason not to basically accept his words in Appendix N:

Quote:
The most immediate
...

Sadly enough, I have not yet read any Meritt. As far as Card is concerned, I'm thinking of that wonderful book, "The Misenchanted Sword", and I might have the wrong author.


Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
HolmesandWatson wrote:


It's all but impossible to deny that Tolkien heavily influenced Gygax, despite his minimizing of the impact (which I do believe is primarily related to the legal issues). And people who know better than I say agree that the magic system is Vanceian.

That's because many people in this hobby are surprisingly not that widely read on their Fantasy. If you read more of the selection of books that Gygax lists, you might come to the conclusion that Fritz Leiber, Robert Howard, Michael Moorcock, and Orson Scott Card, as a package, are far heavier influences on the development of D+D than Tolkien, and in my opinion, you'd be highly justified in saying so.

My personnel thought is that Gygax was aware of how well Tolkien was selling and borrowed a few names and characterizations to insert into a game that was already pretty far jelled. I don't however see much of Gandalf in the Magic-User class, not nearly as much as I see Aragorn and others in the Ranger. I do see a lot more Fritz Leiber in classes such as the Rogue (where his chance to use magic items, now known as UMD) was clearly drawn from along with parts of the original Barbarian class.

From Tolkien, I'd say that Gygax most heavily borrowed the original 3 races of Haflings, (now condensed into one), a bit of the flavoring for Elven subraces, and the nameplate for the Ranger class) The Thief however is almost pure Lieber, and the Barbarian pretty much Howard. Lieber, along with Moorcock contributes heavily into the flavor of the Greyhawk setting.

I'm pretty sure Orson Scott Card wasn't a big influence. :)

I'm not sure who you might have been thinking of.

He may well have been downplaying Tolkien's influence - there were legal issues, as H&W said. There are definitely things taken directly from Tolkien, but the general feel, especially of early D&D is very off. I see little reason not to basically accept his words in Appendix

...
[url=http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/317497.The_Misenchanted_Sword]Lawrence Watt-Evans

?

I don't know it. If that's it, it was published in 1985, so like Card, obviously not an influence.
As far as I can tell, Card started writing in the mid-70s, so that's why I ruled him out.

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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
HolmesandWatson wrote:


It's all but impossible to deny that Tolkien heavily influenced Gygax, despite his minimizing of the impact (which I do believe is primarily related to the legal issues). And people who know better than I say agree that the magic system is Vanceian.

That's because many people in this hobby are surprisingly not that widely read on their Fantasy. If you read more of the selection of books that Gygax lists, you might come to the conclusion that Fritz Leiber, Robert Howard, Michael Moorcock, and Orson Scott Card, as a package, are far heavier influences on the development of D+D than Tolkien, and in my opinion, you'd be highly justified in saying so.

My personnel thought is that Gygax was aware of how well Tolkien was selling and borrowed a few names and characterizations to insert into a game that was already pretty far jelled. I don't however see much of Gandalf in the Magic-User class, not nearly as much as I see Aragorn and others in the Ranger. I do see a lot more Fritz Leiber in classes such as the Rogue (where his chance to use magic items, now known as UMD) was clearly drawn from along with parts of the original Barbarian class.

From Tolkien, I'd say that Gygax most heavily borrowed the original 3 races of Haflings, (now condensed into one), a bit of the flavoring for Elven subraces, and the nameplate for the Ranger class) The Thief however is almost pure Lieber, and the Barbarian pretty much Howard. Lieber, along with Moorcock contributes heavily into the flavor of the Greyhawk setting.

Other clear Tolkien influences on D&D include; Dwarves, Orcs, Goblins, Hobgoblins, Half-Orcs, Half-Elves, Treants (Ents), Wraiths (Nazgul), Balor (Balrog) demons, Ranger class proficiency with crystal balls (Palantir), Cloak of Elvenkind (Lothlorien), intelligent giant spiders, and mithral (mithril).

I don't think anywhere near as much material can be traced to any of the other commonly cited influences. Moorcock gets 'credit' for the seed of the alignment system, Vance for the spellcasting, Lieber for the Rogue class, et cetera... but there were just far more things derived from Tolkien than any other source.


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Digitalelf wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
The Thief however is almost pure Lieber
You'd have to ask DrDeth, not Gygax for the inspiration of the thief class. :-)

Early, early on, we gave each player a henchman. One guy was a wizard with a low str. His hench, a dwarf figter also had a poor str, but a high dex (stats didnt mean as much in OD&D games). They could NOT make the open locked door roll with brute strength.

So, he asked me if his dwarf could pick the lock with his dagger, I gave him a roll.

Inspiration struck, and yes the Gray Mouser did figure heavily in how I designed the class. But there was lots of Bilbo in there too.


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DrDeth wrote:
But there was lots of Bilbo in there too.

So I was right... Tolkien. :D This is going to make me sound like a crazy fanboy or a giddy school girl with a crush, but it absolutely gives me an over the top amount of joy to participate in a conversation with the man that designed the original thief class. It's a little crazy to even think about. Cheers to you DrDeth!!!


Well, thanks.


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MendedWall12 wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
But there was lots of Bilbo in there too.
So I was right... Tolkien. :D This is going to make me sound like a crazy fanboy or a giddy school girl with a crush, but it absolutely gives me an over the top amount of joy to participate in a conversation with the man that designed the original thief class. It's a little crazy to even think about. Cheers to you DrDeth!!!

Cheers indeed to all who worked out the idea of TTRPG's in the mid to late 70's. What would life be like without them?


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Tactical Mastery Tip #2 - Define the Objectives. The mission and goal, once defined and analyzed, will contain distinct places where progress can be measured.

As step one was 'Know the Goal,' defining the objectives seems like a reasonable second step. What are the steps to achieve the goal.

A party is going to play Forge of Fury (just about my favorite 3rd Edition module). The mission is to find forged by Durgeddin in the monster-infested dwarven hall of Khundrakar.

The goal is to recover the weapons and escape the hall alive.

The first objective is to gain entrance to the hall.

There are a couple different ways - none easy. We'll say the party managed to get in through the front door (yeah, sure). The next objective is probably to get across the chasm that no longer has a rope bridge across it, the Orcs having destroyed it in retreat.

If the party manages to get across, a new objective is set.

Each such objective should take you one step closer to attainment.

It's not exactly paint by numbers, but the objective should generally be stepping stones to the goal - maybe with the order jumbled a bit.

Next up is 'Make, and Follow, a Plan.'


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Last month over at BlackGate.com, I put up the first of a two-part essay that includes 25 tips on Dungeon delving.

Creighton Broadhurst of Raging Swan Press came up with the list and I added some thoughts about the first dozen. Part two is coming soon. Comments on the items welcome.


When I was thinking of the Forge of Fury example, I was having a bit of a tough time distinguishing mission from goal. Still am.

Grand Lodge

HolmesandWatson wrote:
I was having a bit of a tough time distinguishing mission from goal. Still am.

Something I read may help:

When you are young and first starting out, you set a goal of getting a good job, to marry and then settle down with family. All of these goals overlap and fall within the larger mission in your life, which is to be successful.


I was thinking the Mission might be more specific. This one seems too general to me.

Mission - Find a treasure horde to make lots of money

Goal - Recover Durgeddin's swords from the halls of Khundrakar

Objectives
- Enter the halls
- Locate the swords
- Defeat any guardian
- Escape the halls

Though Mission and Goal aren't very different in that example.

Grand Lodge

HolmesandWatson wrote:
I was thinking the Mission might be more specific.

Well, the example I gave was cobbled together from a few different web sites on the subject of the difference between Mission and goal, which all essentially said that the mission is the overarching plot, and the goals are the specific plot-points of the mission.


You know as I looked at the post about define the objectives, I realized it leaves out something, that, in my experience at least, is a much more powerful driving force for players. That is to say, the statement define the objectives, takes it for granted that all the players will have in mind the same objective: in a module, the completion of the quest, or in a homebrew campaign, the completion of the quest... :D But! And this is a rather big but... There are a fair number of players whose first and primary goal is actually tied to the growth and power increase of their character, and, or, affecting some story arc of their own imagination.

Real world example. I had a friend playing a half-drow (homebrewed that one) male sorcerer. Exiled from his darklands home, the player's ultimate objective was to find capable war captains, and amass enough wealth to raise an army and avenge himself upon those that exiled him. That was that character's top driving force. Therefore, any campaign objective that did not meet up with that ultimate goal held no interest for that player. Meaning, if the objective of a module or homebrew story arc (I mingled the two frequently) wasn't somehow getting that character closer to wealth, or meeting up with willing and capable warriors, he'd have no interest.

Of course, this is not always the case, but I have found, much more recently actually, that a lot of players are coming to a campaign with a preconceived notion that their character's personal goals, are the real goals, and any campaign/module is the means to that ultimate end.

Just wanted to offer that up, as it does put a different bit of a spin on the "Define the Objectives" bit.

Grand Lodge

I have said on many occasions, that modules and even homebrewed adventures, absolutely need, no, require, the buy-in of those at the table; because, at least with published adventures, the adventures as written have zero to do with the characters going through them.

Grand Lodge

Of course, a good GM will know his players and not run something he knows they won't "buy into".


Digitalelf wrote:
Of course, a good GM will know his players and not run something he knows they won't "buy into".

Yes! Problems arise, however, when the long term character goals are as different as each character at the table. I've had to arbitrate more than one in-fight at the table between players that had very different agendas. Thankfully compromise and common purpose were always found. Sometimes that is not the case. Just one more of the pitfalls of our hobby, it must be played with people, and people are fickle creatures with pride aplenty. ;)


Character goals and missions and party ones can be the same, different, complementary or contrasting. I didn't think about the distinctions while looking at Tactics.

Of course, Gygax emphasizes party and team throughout the book. I don't have Role Playing Mastery with me at work today (forgot my backpack), but I think he was talking about party tactics.

Worth further delving into.


'Tales From the Yawning Portal' is out for 5th Edition. It includes several of the classic modules, like Tomb of Horrors, Against the Giants and Hidden Shrine of Tamoachen.

I haven't read/played those since I was young, but from what I recalled, I was thinking about how you could employ Gygax' tactical approach to them.

I seem to remember just trying to stay alive from room to room in ToH, though. No planning involved.


Funny I remember the same strategy monopolizing a lot of our time in Castle Ravenloft. :D

Grand Lodge

HolmesandWatson wrote:
I was thinking about how you could employ Gygax' tactical approach to them.

I have a player that applies a similar tactical approach as that laid out by EGG (though he's read none of Gaygax's books on the subject). It tends to work well for him, though not always, as his foray into the Tomb of Horrors (as well as his last foray into Castle Ravenloft) left the entire party dead.

He and I have been gaming together for over 30 years.

Sovereign Court

I'm reading through HolmesandWatson's article on dungeon delving and I've got to say its a great read. Check out his web/blog.

There's still much more to say about Gygaxian Dungeonmastery.... we've just scratched the surface here.

There are few things I love more than thread necromancy---thanks for the personal invitation HolmesandWatson.

Recently there's been chat about murderhobo, and the very phrase is one that's sure to send shivers up a DM's spine. Its not likable, its not sustainable nor realistic, its for certain a pejorative term, and long term, the DM will be unable to present a masterful gygaxian quasi-medieval fantasy world that can suspend disbelief for very long. Just the idea of players who mostly murder people, is, in fact, counterproductive to excellence in gaming. The milieu requires a morality system that leeks into law, government, popular opinion, social groups, factions, and the identify of the common-folk. So, those players interested in redeeming a so-called 'murder hobo' must first begin by deconstructing this stereotype of MMO and video game first-person-shooter, and construct a 3 dimensional character, as would a writer of fantasy literature. Only then can or should the DM be willing to extend plot to include the graces of great storytelling and have redemption as a key thread to the revitalization and rejuvenation of the character who has done grievous wrong and harm.

P.s. Hey Digitalelf!!

Pax

Grand Lodge

Pax Veritas wrote:
Hey Digitalelf!!

*WAVES & SMILES* :-P

Was wondering if you were still hanging around these parts.

Good to see that you are. :-D


Pax Veritas wrote:

Recently there's been chat about murderhobo, and the very phrase is one that's sure to send shivers up a DM's spine. Its not likable, its not sustainable nor realistic, its for certain a pejorative term... Lot's of excellent arguments to support that truth.

Pax

Oh man! Pax, so glad you popped in here and said something about the murderhobo nomenclature for adventurers. I, for the most part, agree with a lot of what you've said. However, let me offer a counterpoint. I think when you read murderhobo, you're inclined, a bit too heavily, to read that as people who are killing innocent NPCs for their gear, and getting away with it, because GM's suck. When I read, or say, because I frequently do, with zero remorse or shame, murderhobo, what I'm thinking of is much more the reality of, what I believe to be, the boiled down basis of just about every D&D-esque RPG, which is to "kill it, take its stuff, use that stuff to kill other things, and take their stuff." I realize that, as the spine of the game, does not create rich narrative content, and if a GM does, in fact, suck, that's all you'll get is that spine. However, when you have a good GM, that spine may actually remain, but be fleshed out with sinew, tendon, blemished skin and so on, which creates a rich narrative around that spine.

Furthermore, part of the problem with discounting the murderhobo nomenclature outright, is that it does not take into account the fact that many times, in many published novels and adventure paths, the immediate quest is to lay waste to a group of sentient beings because they are currently interrupting our village's: economics, agriculture, politics, procreation, happiness... That those sentient creatures are goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, trolls, kobolds, etc. makes the casual adventurer believe their razing of said society is both lawful and good. So, while your arguments make it sound like the only people comfortable with the term murderhobo are those that have come to the tabletop with little wisdom, with a desire to create the most battle effective toon, I'm here to tell you that some educated and philosophically minded gamers grasp a hold of the term murderhobo for the rich clarity it brings to their mental awareness of the spine of the game. I may have the most three-dimensional, morally aware paladin in my game, but there will, most likely, still be a major component of the game that has that three-dimensional, morally aware paladin killing things and taking their stuff, so that he/she can use that stuff to kill other things and likewise get their stuff...


MendedWall12 wrote:

Oh man! Pax, so glad you popped in here and said something about the murderhobo nomenclature for adventurers. I, for the most part, agree with a lot of what you've said. However, let me offer a counterpoint. I think when you read murderhobo, you're inclined, a bit too heavily, to read that as people who are killing innocent NPCs for their gear, and getting away with it, because GM's suck. When I read, or say, because I frequently do, with zero remorse or shame, murderhobo, what I'm thinking of is much more the reality of, what I believe to be, the boiled down basis of just about every D&D-esque RPG, which is to "kill it, take its stuff, use that stuff to kill other things, and take their stuff." I realize that, as the spine of the game, does not create rich narrative content, and if a GM does, in fact, suck, that's all you'll get is that spine. However, when you have a good GM, that spine may actually remain, but be fleshed out with sinew, tendon, blemished skin and so on, which creates a rich narrative around that spine.

Furthermore, part of the problem with discounting the murderhobo nomenclature outright, is that it does not take into account the fact that many times, in many published novels and adventure paths, the immediate quest is to lay waste to a group of sentient beings because they are currently interrupting our village's: economics, agriculture, politics, procreation, happiness... That those sentient creatures are goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, trolls, kobolds, etc. makes the casual adventurer believe their razing of said society is both lawful and good. So, while your arguments make it sound like the only people comfortable with the term murderhobo are those that have come to the tabletop with little wisdom, with a desire to create the most battle effective toon, I'm here to tell you that some educated and philosophically minded gamers grasp a hold of the term murderhobo for the rich clarity it brings to their mental awareness of the spine of the game. I may have the most three-dimensional, morally aware paladin in my game, but there will, most likely, still be a major component of the game that has that three-dimensional, morally aware paladin killing things and taking their stuff, so that he/she can use that stuff to kill other things and likewise get their stuff...

I don't find that defense of the murderhobo term persuasive. In most modern published materials, an effort is made to provide much better justification that that. You're generally after the sentients not just because "they're monsters", but because they're an actual threat. They're not interrupting the village's "economics, agriculture, politics, procreation, happiness", other than those things being disturbed when they attack and kill people.

Or in some cases, often later in the campaign, because there's some larger good to be served - the sentients may not be an immediate threat, but they're guarding the McGuffin that's needed to deal with a more serious danger.
Barring adventures explicitly designed for evil games or for a particular kind of old school feel, I think such published adventures are very rare.

Admittedly, D&D/PF does require a constant supply of loot, so whatever the justification, without houserules or some other source of constantly growing income, you do need to loot. It's one thing I prefer about a lot of other games that don't have the same emphasis on upgrading gear. Most of the D&D/PF games I've played have pushed loot into the background, emphasizing other motivations and supplying sufficient loot as an incidental byproduct.


thejeff wrote:
In most modern published materials, an effort is made to provide much better justification that that.

True, but one way of looking at this is that they're trying to find an excuse to allow you to act murderhobo-ish while still feeling morally justified.

How often have you seen a campaign where the PCs are expected to take all their enemies alive, respect their civil rights, and hand over any captured loot to the authorities to return to their rightful owners?

Based on a poll I ran, the majority of forum users find 'murderhobo' to be an amusing rather than offensive term.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
thejeff wrote:
In most modern published materials, an effort is made to provide much better justification that that.

True, but one way of looking at this is that they're trying to find an excuse to allow you to act murderhobo-ish while still feeling morally justified.

How often have you seen a campaign where the PCs are expected to take all their enemies alive, respect their civil rights, and hand over any captured loot to the authorities to return to their rightful owners?

Based on a poll I ran, the majority of forum users find 'murderhobo' to be an amusing rather than offensive term.

It's not a modern world. Most of those concepts don't really apply.

Even in modern times, there's little expectation of taking violent criminals (or enemy combatants) who resist with lethal force alive. Much less so when fighting off the equivalent of viking raiders.

But yeah, it's an excuse. It's all an excuse. It's a justification for having adventures in the first place. And then for looting, because the base game requires it.

The first is always true, regardless of game system. The GM/author has to come up with excuses to have adventures. The second is an artifact of a system with treats loot as an experience track - not all do and those that don't generally see less looting.

I generally find it an amusing term, except when it's used so broadly that it loses all meaning and people insist that it correctly describes all PCs. While simultaneously playing up the less savory aspects of it. You're even kind of doing it here - switching from " lay waste to a group of sentient beings because they are currently interrupting our village's: economics, agriculture, politics, procreation, happiness... That those sentient creatures are goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, trolls, kobolds, etc. makes the casual adventurer believe their razing of said society is both lawful and good" to "trying to find an excuse to allow you to act murderhobo-ish while still feeling morally justified".

There's a long in-world distance between killing the greenskinned people because they're inconvenient and have loot and stopping the murderous bandits. Even if both are from the meta game perspective excuses to get experience and treasure to boost your character. The excuses matter.

And I have negotiated settlements with kobolds, helped the invading orcs by dealing with the worse monsters that were forcing them into our lands, rescued a lizardfolk village from elven slavers. Not every adventure is just "kill the ugly things, take their stuff".

Grand Lodge

thejeff wrote:
It's not a modern world. Most of those concepts don't really apply

This is true, and to bring it back to the game's roots and how Gygax saw the game, there is an unquestioned morality; true evil exists, and it MUST be vanquished. In that light, killing goblins and other "evil" sentient beings, is not only justified, but expected of goodly characters.

Gary even said that it is not evil for a paladin to kill an evil hostage (even AFTER it had been redeemed):

Gary Gygax wrote:
a paladin can freely dispatch prisoners of Evil alignment that have surrendered and renounced that alignment in favor of Lawful Good. They are then sent on to their reward before they can backslide.

He went on to say (concerning what is expected of any character of Lawful Good alignment):

Gary Gygax wrote:
Mercy is to be displayed for the lawbreaker that does so by accident. Benevolence is for the harmless. Pacifism in the fantasy milieu is for those who would be slaves.

While I know that this is not a discussion of the lawful good alignment, nor paladins, the quotes above serve as an example of the absolute morality he saw within the game.

So the term "muderhobo", when seen through that lens, is not applicable. The characters, while they may call home wherever it is they temporarily hang their proverbial hat, they are most certainly NOT murderers.


Digitalelf wrote:
thejeff wrote:
It's not a modern world. Most of those concepts don't really apply

This is true, and to bring it back to the game's roots and how Gygax saw the game, there is an unquestioned morality; true evil exists, and it MUST be vanquished. In that light, killing goblins and other "evil" sentient beings, is not only justified, but expected of goodly characters.

Gary even said that it is not evil for a paladin to kill an evil hostage (even AFTER it had been redeemed):

Gary Gygax wrote:
a paladin can freely dispatch prisoners of Evil alignment that have surrendered and renounced that alignment in favor of Lawful Good. They are then sent on to their reward before they can backslide.

He went on to say (concerning what is expected of any character of Lawful Good alignment):

Gary Gygax wrote:
Mercy is to be displayed for the lawbreaker that does so by accident. Benevolence is for the harmless. Pacifism in the fantasy milieu is for those who would be slaves.

While I know that this is not a discussion of the lawful good alignment, nor paladins, the quotes above serve as an example of the absolute morality he saw within the game.

So the term "muderhobo", when seen through that lens, is not applicable. The characters, while they may call home wherever it is they temporarily hang their proverbial hat, they are most certainly NOT murderers.

Unless they are, of course.

The game has changed a lot since those days too, in terms of story and expected motivations. I wouldn't be interested in playing by that code.
There's some deeply creepy stuff in the essay those quotes are from.


@thejeff - yep.

I think I've seen an episode or two of the old D&D cartoon that Gygax produced. Not everything the "PCs" did was murderhobo. In fact none of it was because of the rating it needed to achieve. That constraint aside, there were thematic elements of redemption of lawbreakers.

Grand Lodge

thejeff wrote:
Unless they are, of course.

This is true, but we have been working with the assumption that the characters are not murderers... At least that's how I've read the last few posts.

thejeff wrote:
The game has changed a lot since those days too, in terms of story and expected motivations.

This is also quite true, and that probably has a lot to do with how morality has changed on a cultural and ideological level. At the very least in terms of how alignment is seen and used (LOL... If it's used at all).

I mean back then (using antidotal evidence), I did not see anyone try to redeem "monsters", but now, I see it quite frequently. Just right here on these boards (as I'm sure you're well aware of) there are innumerable threads about how the various intelligent humanoid races are not irredeemably evil, stating that if raised outside of their race's cultural influence, they could be any alignment they chose.

thejeff wrote:

I wouldn't be interested in playing by that code.

There's some deeply creepy stuff in the essay those quotes are from.

There are some things in there that I disagree with, but I would not go so far as to call them "creepy". But that too probably has a lot to do with the changes in morality and ideology.


Digitalelf wrote:
thejeff wrote:

I wouldn't be interested in playing by that code.

There's some deeply creepy stuff in the essay those quotes are from.
There are some things in there that I disagree with, but I would not go so far as to call them "creepy". But that too probably has a lot to do with the changes in morality and ideology.

Citing "nits making lice" approvingly as an old adage is creepy as hell. I see what he's trying to say, but it's still using a quote used to justify real world slaughter based on racism.

And though AD&D was a while back, from what I can tell, those quotes aren't nearly that old.

Grand Lodge

thejeff wrote:

Citing "nits making lice" approvingly as an old adage is creepy as hell. I see what he's trying to say, but it's still using a quote used to justify real world slaughter based on racism.

And though AD&D was a while back, from what I can tell, those quotes aren't nearly that old.

I don't think he was citing it "approvingly", and I would not use the term myself, but since it's been brought up, it would apply to characters killing goblins simply because they are evil; because it justifies slaughter based on ones race (in this case, goblins).

Which goes against today's gaming expectations, because at best, that is the slaughter of possible innocents. Especially if one plays goblins as intelligent beings that can be of any alignment they wish, and not being limited to evil.

But yeah, he said those things over on the Dragonsfoot forums back in 2005. But it seems clear enough to reasonably assume that he never changed his style of running a game, or his view of how good and evil work within the game.


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Digitalelf wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Citing "nits making lice" approvingly as an old adage is creepy as hell. I see what he's trying to say, but it's still using a quote used to justify real world slaughter based on racism.

And though AD&D was a while back, from what I can tell, those quotes aren't nearly that old.

I don't think he was citing it "approvingly", and I would not use the term myself, but since it's been brought up, it would apply to characters killing goblins simply because they are evil; because it justifies slaughter based on ones race (in this case, goblins).

Which goes against today's gaming expectations, because at best, that is the slaughter of possible innocents. Especially if one plays goblins as intelligent beings that can be of any alignment they wish, and not being limited to evil.

But yeah, he said those things over on the Dragonsfoot forums back in 2005. But it seems clear enough to reasonably assume that he never changed his style of running a game, or his view of how good and evil work within the game.

Well, you can't defend someone on the basis of "society's changed" if they haven't changed with it.

Like I've said before, I'm actually fine with games that work that, especially if there are in-world reasons for it - Orcs are a race that was created as servants of the Dark One(tm). I'm not cool with quoting real world racist justifications for ethnic cleansing as support for it.

Even if the justifications are true in the game world, it's still a really lousy way to defend it.

Grand Lodge

thejeff wrote:
you can't defend someone on the basis of "society's changed" if they haven't changed with it.

Well, we are in a thread devoted specifically about his writings on how he felt players should "Master the Game".


I miss the days when the player characters actually wanted to rescue the princess from the Palace of the Vampire Queen.

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