My group is the classic example of murderhobos. When we come upon a strange creature, rather than trying to understand what it is, we simply kill it and ask questions once it is dead. Or instead of bargaining with a shop keeper, we will just eliminate him and steal whatever it is that we wanted. I have tried to suggest that we maybe want just intimidate NPCs who have been sent to kill us, but we are now so infamous for mass murders (three in the past two days in game) that NPCs think that the solution is to kill us, which then results in us killing them. This then reinforces the idea that we can’t change our ways.

I have tried to help stop this, but it seems like we have dug the pit too far down to stop now. Whenever we go into town we are recognized to be criminals, which makes it harder for us to have good interactions with NPCs.

I would like to stop this because I don’t want to just play a video game where we kill all the NPCs. I would like to play a game where there is more role playing. As well, the other players and the DM are fine with our current situation. The other players don’t “want” to be murderhobos, but they also are fine with it. The other players do enjoy role playing, but the problem is that we are very good at killing and pretty bad at being charismatic. My goal is to become a (somewhat) law abiding citizen, because I don’t particularly want to keep dealing with assassins and mercenaries that have been sent to kill us. (Eventually, a strong enough assassin will probably kill us.)

How do I get out of the cycle?

This is different from this well-known post about how the DM can stop players from being murderhobos. This question is asking how to move from being murderhobos to a life of killing only when necessary, because right now, most civilized people hate us.

(A lot of people are telling me how the DM can fix this, but I am a PC and not the DM, so those solutions do not answer my question.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you try and clarify your actual problem? Is being murderhobos creating an in-game problem? Are the other player concerned? Is the DM concerned? If so, about what parts? It may be beneficial to let us know which game as there may be relevant in-game solutions. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 18:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ It would definitely be helpful to know more about where you want to be, not just where you want to not be. It lets us be more specific with what to concretely do to head in that direction. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 18:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ You see you have tried to 'help stop it', what did you try? How was it received by the players and DM? Do others have this concern, or is this just yours? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 18:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think we need more details on a) what you've done to try and change it, b) what the DM has done to try and change it, c) what the rest of the group thinks about making the change, d) what are the ramifications of changing vs not changing? Right now, the question is more like an intro to an AA meeting, "Hello, my name is Erd the Barbarian, and I'm a murderhobo. My PC life is no longer manageable." \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 18:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ What were the character motivations for killing shopkeepers? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 18:37

7 Answers 7


Decide as a group what game you are playing.

You wrote:

I would like to play a game where there is more role playing. As well, the other players and the DM are fine with our current situation.

You want to play a different game from the one the rest of the table is currently playing. You want to play Roleplaying Hero Adventure, and everyone else is playing Murder Simulator III. Neither of these is wrong per se, but they are very different games that don't mix well.

So you need to bring this up with your tablemates. Express your concerns, desires, and expectations to the group. "I'm looking for this kind of game, I would have more fun if we leaned more toward this playstyle", etc. It is important to understand that they aren't playing the game wrong, they're just playing it differently than you want to. So just talk about it, and see if you can work something out. If everyone else is really into the way the game is currently going, you may have to find a way to get on board or move on. That's just how it goes some time. No D&D is better than bad D&D. If you aren't having fun and can't find a way to have fun, move on.

Retconning the past is an okay thing to do.

I've read my fair share of internet DM advice, and I often see people fail to consider just retconning what's already happened because "no, the players actions must have consequences!" And to an extent, this is the case. Generally, "save and reset" shouldn't be something the players can abuse, but if all of the players have resolved to completely change the playstyle of the game, I would definitely consider retconning some of the past events.

We've decided we don't want to play Murder Simulator III, but running from the law because we were playing Murder Simulator III is also not the game we want to be playing either. Can we roll things back to before we killed a bunch of people and move forward as good citizens?

This is a perfectly reasonable request, and a perfectly valid reason to roll back time in the universe. The ultimate goal here is fun, and if everyone agrees that starting with clean criminal records would be the most conducive to everyone having fun, I'd be inclined to do so as a DM; in fact, I would find this preferable to implementing some contrived reason why the townspeople and local law enforcement just decide to forgive you. You said in the question, "what I really need is a way to get NPCs to forget about what we did", and there really isn't any way to do this other than the DM coming up with some reason that probably won't make a lot of sense. So just start fresh now that you've got the murder out of your systems.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for this answer. I never even considered retconning \$\endgroup\$
    – Consus
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 20:53

Leave the area, or restart your campaign

You've written:

we are now so infamous for mass murders (three in the past two days in game)

Realistically, there's no coming back from that. The NPCs have identified you as mass murderers, and the NPCs are correct, and they're not going to forgive you.

One option would be to leave the area. Go somewhere they've never heard of you, and start anew, and try to be better people.

Another option would be to restart your campaign entirely with new characters.

Talk with your group about what sort of game everyone wants

It sounds like some of the other players in your game actually want to be murderhobos.

If that's true, then you need to think carefully. You're not going to be able to stop the other players from murdering NPCs. It might be that your options are (1) play a character that is okay with being a murderhobo, or (2) don't play in campaigns where the other players want to be murderhobos.

You'll have to think about which of these options you prefer.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I might see if the group is interested in exploring other parts of the world. My group would probably not be ok with leaving the area for good, but maybe if we let people calm down for a few years, that might work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Consus
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 18:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ These are some solid choices, but it would be really helpful if you can let us know how introducing those choices went in a group dynamic that OP has detailed. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 19:02

First of all, the PCs actually have to want to change

What do the other players want? The players could actually just agree among themselves to change their behavior.

Second of all, what is the GM rewarding?

Most games I've played or GM'd, out-and-out outlaw behavior on the part of the PCs would lead to adverse consequences, since that's not generally the tenor of the game the GM is running, or what the players want to play.

If the GM is happy with murderhobos, then change is unlikely. If the GM rewards non-murderous behavior, then change is possible.

Assuming everyone wants to change

Then change. Try talking to the NPCs rather than killing them. Try bargaining with that shopkeeper.

It's that easy. If you want to change, just do it.

Maybe you need a clean break

Maybe story-wise, there's no hope. These PCs have a bad rep and they're going to be treated as the murderous cretins they've shown themselves to be.

Leave town. In character. Go to a new city. Make yourselves over.

And if that doesn't work, consider new characters.

There are famous tropes of bad guys trying to be good

For instance, think Jules in Pulp Fiction. I won't quote the whole monologue here, but here's the ending of it:

Jules: The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.

Be the change you want to see in the world

You have a tough situation. Basically, everyone you're playing with is happy, or at least okay, with murderhoboing.

You're going to have to show them a better way.

Be the change you want to see, as a player, and as a character.

As a player, try to find opportunities to suggest richer role-play might be more fun. As a character, look for opportunities to suggest an alternative lifestyle.

It's never too late

It may seem too late for these characters. Try working with the GM to somehow rehabilitate them. There is plenty of fictional and historical precedent for people relocating to escape a sordid past.

With the GM's cooperation your characters could move to a new city, change names, change looks.

It (sort of) happened to me

I had a character once who grew up as part of various criminal gangs, and then reformed his ways and tried to become a good person. He would describe himself as having grown up a stone-cold killer, but then go on to say how important it was to him now to do things in a better way.

It was actually a lot of fun role-playing that.

Good luck!

  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem for us is that a significant amount of people have now heard of our mass murders, and know the we are responsible. So unfortunately, there isn’t a “new city” left. \$\endgroup\$
    – Consus
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you relate some more information to us about how these suggestions have worked out in similar group dynamics to OP? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 19:04

Get buy in from other characters and the GM.

This is step one. You need to get the other players and the GM to agree it would be more fun to interact with people than kill them. If you can't get this to happen, you can't stop being murderhobos.

Assess the damage

Can you pay off people who you offended? Can you win the support of powerful figures with a quest? Can you resurrect people you killed? See if you can fix the damage you caused. If yes, fix it. If no-

Have a secondary identity

You could have everyone disguise themselves so they can't be recognized. A disguise kit allows you to look different and avoid being found out, along with a variety of spells, trickery, and careful efforts.

In the past GMs have been very accepting of me using a disguise kit to hide my identity, especially in places where I've never been, because they recognize and I talked to them about the idea that random people who don't know you will have trouble working out who you are from a wanted poster.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you talk about similar situations you've seen and how doing things went? OP has a pretty specific dynamic that should be addressed. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 19:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you need to have similar situations for using a disguise kit? It's fairly straightforward about how it works. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 20:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not about the specific recommendation, it's about how putting that up for consideration at a table having the issues OP is having actually went. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 20:46

Change in story and character arcs comes about when what K.M. Weiland calls "the lie" (see Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 2: The Lie Your Character Believes or The Five Components of All Character Arcs) becomes impossible to maintain. The characters are forced to change by both outer and inner pressure.

This must be engineered into the story, meaning you and the group must railroad yourselves a bit for an adventure or two. The change you seek doesn't happen organically because there's no NEED TO CHANGE - it's all working pretty well for your characters so far.

That must stop, and it can only stop with players and GM working together. The GMs job would be to set up situations where continuing to be murderhobos will lead the characters to certain destruction. The players job is to let their characters run face-first into that wall, and realize that things can't go on like this any longer - and then they need to find a new, better TRUTH.

As a GM I would engineer an overwhelming force that comes to collect the debt. The king sends his best men and wizards to capture the characters - alive, because he wants to make a public example out of them to stop OTHER murderhobos in his realm. Magic ensures they are captured, not killed. There is some cooperation of the players needed, because players are good in avoiding such endings. All belongings and artifacts are taken away. The characters are publicly humiliated and tortured. As they understand the price for their actions is too high, they get a final chance - a suicide quest to save the kingdom (or kings daughter or whatever rocks your boat). Without all their stuff, of course. As they return, they are celebrated as heroes - finally understanding that being admired feels so much better than being feared. From now on, they WANT to be heroes.

If you remember movies and books, characters often hit rock bottom before they change and overcome the inner demons that held them back. You as players must be willing to hit rock bottom and play through that. This is the chance for character behaviour change to emerge organically from play.


Turn yourself in

If you were the DM in this game, it would be an easy fix. If you had all the players on your side, it would be an easy fix. But unfortunately your situation isn't easy.

The DM and other players are fine with the situation, and you have killed so many people that you are well known as criminals.

The only option you have left is to try to get the guards to capture you and lock you away until people forget about you, forgive you, or otherwise consider you to have atoned for your crimes. Hopefully this added punishment will make the other players think twice about doing this kind of thing again in the future. Leaking information to the guards is a fairly easy thing to do that doesn't require the rest of the party to cooperate.

As a DM I've seen this play out from the other side. The party at first think they can simply kill anyone to get their way, but very quickly the ramifications of their actions become too large for them to ignore, and they have no choice but to change their ways to be upstanding citizens.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You know, putting themselves at the mercy of greater authorities for atonement would make for one impressively supersized quest hook and dramatic hook. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 12:03

Here's a completely different approach to the problem...

Rather than trying to reform and become respected citizens, embrace your criminality, and take it to the next level. Graduate from murderhobos to murdergentry, and create your own organized crime syndicate.

  • Establish a base of operations in an area that's currently difficult for government/military to patrol
  • Bring a degree of order to the local community, keep the chaos outside. Raid outside areas, but keep those within your own domain sacrosanct. Let local businesses see that they will be safe as long as they follow your rules. Anyone who violates the sanctity of the local community must be dramatically and publicly punished
  • Be generous and helpful to the local community. Build schools, hospitals, and civic centers
  • Set up protection schemes with neighboring communities, those who pay a share are protected from your criminal acts
  • Negotiate with criminals in other locations, establish black markets and zones of control
  • Use bribery and blackmail to compromise local officials
  • Extend your criminal empire, and eventually you can establish a dynasty, and your descendants will become respected nobles
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    \$\begingroup\$ How does this answer the question to make the players care? Have you done this and how did that play out? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 16:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose I should have added the magic phrase "frame challenge" to this answer. Other answers talk about achieving redemption within the system, or stopping the campaign, or making a fresh start somewhere else. Given that everyone else wants to keep on murderin', and OP wants more roleplaying, this is a possible option for accommodating both. Opportunities for role playing and drama abound. \$\endgroup\$
    – barbecue
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish It was not an identical situation, but I did have a similar case where some players had engaged in some obnoxious behavior that got them a bad reputation, and they wanted to "reform" their image. The solution was similar to what many second generation gangsters have done, "retire" and keep an eye on things remotely while your heirs slowly slowly move from criminality to legitimate business. \$\endgroup\$
    – barbecue
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 18:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think you need to add frame challenge as a phrase, that part reads perfectly well, but we would really like to see your experience for how this a applicable solution (ie. edit that into the answer). See this meta for our expectations and guidance around that (we're in the subjective answer part here, obviously). \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Mar 11, 2022 at 14:21

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