Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Going Beyond the Murder-hobo

I have professed my love for many old-school adventures here.  Both ones published "back in the day" and the current crop of new old-school adventures.

Well I was listening to a you video on Dungeon! recently and the parallel was drawn yet again between the Fellowship in the mines of Moria and your average dungeon crawl.   There are lots and lots of similarities and by now everyone knows it. But there is a fundamental difference between the Fellowship and what a lot of dungeon crawls assume.  The Fellowship was only there on their way to become heroes, not to loot the dungeon and kill orcs.

Sometimes I do feel out of step with my Old-School brethren because I do think a character in D&D should aspire to be more than just a "murder-hobo".  I think part of that stems from my involvement with other games very early on.  In Chill for example you start out as the "everyman/everywoman".  Heck even one of the archetypes is "Socialite".  The point is that you start out like this but the horrors in the world force you to become something else.

There is an old saying in the horror genre. Take a movie's Final Girl and turn into a buff male with a gun and then you have an Action Movie.  I say put a sword in her hand (or a wand) and you have a D&D adventure.  The point though for me is whether horror, action or D&D the characters must be the heroes of the tale.

That is one of the reason why I like to weave a coherent story in my adventures.  Each one is a clue to the next to the larger threat.  A cult in the Cave of Chaos tips off the adventurers to a series of deaths on Bone Hill which leads to the rumors of slave traders that tie into attacks by giants...

Maybe I am taking too much of a modern supernatural story line to my adventures, but I find one endless dungeon crawl after the next to be boring. Its one of the reasons I never liked mega-dungeons either.  And yes I like character development.  I like heroes.

What are your favorite kinds of adventures? What do you do?

1 comment:

TheShadowKnows said...

"The Fellowship was only there on their way to become heroes, not to loot the dungeon and kill orcs."

Perhaps, but "kill and loot" was pretty much the mission in The Hobbit. The dwarves and Bilbo seized gold and magic weapons from the trolls, not to mention the fact that their overall mission was to slay a dragon and plunder its treasure. You can also see this in the LOTR books, for example when the hobbits looted the wight's barrow after Tom Bombadil destroyed the creature. To be honest, I don't think Tolkein's characters were as high-minded as some people believe.

I also don't see how you can reasonably claim that Conan (the original "murder hobo" of modern fantasy) wasn't the "hero" of the Howard stories. "Hero" doesn't have to mean "gets long-winded DM exposition from Marysueminster and then selflessly heads out to confront evil". Many fictional characters do great good for selfish reasons. I see no reason why that can't be true of "murder hobos" as well.

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