Revenge is inevitable. The blowback of a murder hobo party.


Today I wanted to talk about unintended consequences of game play and connect two previous blog posts about “Newman Groups” and “Murder Hobos“.

Let’s be honest, PC’s in Rolemaster and other RPG’s kill a lot of people and creatures! Even if you focus on role-playing and noncombat situations, most game mechanics support adversarial and violent action. In our last session alone, the group killed (or incapacitated, maimed or left for dead) over 20 creatures–and that wasn’t a particular violent session. Not all of their opponents were purely evil or non-sentient; in fact, most were sentient humanoids or thinking creatures–they just happened to oppose the players or obstructed their goals. These opponents may have had family, friends or compatriots that would feel anger or loss, and probably want some sort of justice or revenge on the PC’s.

Now multiply that ten-fold or more. By the time a player is 20th level, they’ve probably killed THOUSANDS of people, creatures, monsters and animals.  In reality, the adventuring party is constantly creating new groups of enemies that might want to hunt them down.

I’m not making a moral point; Rolemaster is predicated on a detailed combat system with sometimes brutal or gruesome criticals. Killing is normal and common. But should there be consequences for years of endless murder and mayhem?


6 Replies to “Revenge is inevitable. The blowback of a murder hobo party.”

  1. You could always use Call of Cthulu’s sanity rules. But that would mean everyone eventually goes insane.

  2. Some D&D adventures – especially early ones – such as Queen of the Demonweb Pits, The Temple of Elemental Evil and The Throne of Bloodstone had characters going up against, and potentially defeating, deities. In The Throne of Bloodstone characters could encounter a dozen or more demon lords, and had to defeat both Orcus and Tiamat.

    Now, deities don’t die that easily; they just tend to be inconvenienced. And they have many, many worshippers. Characters could end up with MILLIONS of enemies from doing this.

  3. I have used both survivors of a parties adventures for revenge in the past and the religious angle.

    My current party sold all the sacramental wine from a temple to some orcish mercenaries to gain their favour. This cost them all the goodwill of the townsfolk, one of whom was manipulated to lead the party into a trap. The manipulation was much much easier because of the parties attitude.

  4. Hi,

    Should there be? Depend on the kind of game you want! Certainly it’s a good excuse for an adventure or three as a change of pace.

    Most adventurers ignore any familial ties. A great way to tell them they have parents and siblings is to have a vengeful kobold start to massacre them and their villages “you killed my mom and her warband back when you were level 3 and I was 3 years old, and I’ve been gaining xps ever since I crawled out from beneath the corpses you forgot to loot.”

    But imposing realistic consequences can totally ruin a game too.

    What kind of stories do you want to emerge?



  5. I will be adding revenge into the game I’m using with my level 1 players. They aren’t well-equipped to take on the revenge parties yet and word needs to get back to those revenge-seekers and plots need to be planned and plans need to be plotted. Once they’ve gone up a couple of levels, I’ll start to introduce some revenge seeking NPCs.

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