“How dare you call my hobo character who threatened to kill a completely innocent person a murder hobo,” or The Night A Perfectly Fine Player Decided to Ruin a Session and Quit the Game
This story is stupidly long. TL/DR player who had no previous signs of being a problem player threw an entire session by being a murder hobo, got mad when we suggested he was being a murder hobo, and then quit the group.
I know the player goes on reddit so there’s a chance he’ll see this, but I really want to tell this story so whatever.
Context on group: we’re playing the 1920s version of Call of Cthulhu, so everything is as realistic as possible except for the occasional monsters and magic. My group formed from an online meet up, so the only people who knew each other beforehand were my best friend and I who joined together. We used to meet in person until COVID (this story occurs at that time) and we all get along surprisingly great.
I’ll call the dude in question Noah. Some in the group were new to TTRPGs (Noah is in this group), some had previous experience (including my friend and I), and the DM (he should be called a Keeper in COC but whatever I call him a DM) has been playing for decades. I want to emphasize our DM is great—extremely generous, puts in a ton of work on our game, and is more than willing to adapt the story and gameplay to ensure we’re all having a good time.
Context on Noah: now a lot of stories about problem players usually are like “this guy was obviously going to become a problem sooner or later, and here’s when he finally ruined the game.” Noah was not like that at all. Again, he was new to TRRPGs, but he seemed extremely eager to both play the game and be our friend. For Halloween, he dressed up faithfully as his character, a wandering vagrant (murder hobo, you might be thinking? We’ll get to that). He commissioned and bought all of us real business cards for our characters that we could “give to” NPCs we met in the story. He invited us to parties at his place, we all got along great with his girlfriend and friends. None of us had anything but good things to say about him until this night.
Context between me and Noah: we would sometimes “butt heads” because of our different play styles and personalities. I have no problem stating that I’m a stickler for rules and can be very particular. I’m the asshole who will say, “Wait, DM, you forgot to make us roll a sanity loss.” I’m also someone who will be like “Hey, you’re sitting in my normal spot!” or “Sir, your feet are in my foot space.” Noah liked to make fun of this and accurately called me Donald Duck, and I welcomed this. When I face a metaphorical barrier in game, I try to work around it—Noah liked to slam through the barrier. To me, this only strengthened our group because he and I approached problems differently, which gave us more options. He’d sometimes derail the story, but it never seemed to come from an intent of sabotaging the game. Noah loved to make fun of me for being a stick in the mud, I loved to call him out for not taking the path laid out in front of us. Until the night in question, I had no reason to believe that his jabs at me were anything other than friendly.
I’ll also admit, because I’m comfortable playing TTRPGs and chose to play a character with high social skills, I often end up taking the lead. But I try very hard to not railroad the session or get in the way of what others want to do, even if they want to do something goofy or not main-plot related. Maybe I fail at this, I don’t know. But if any of my peers told me that something I’m doing is getting in the way of their enjoyment, I would feel terrible and try to be better. I even purposefully don’t speak up in some social interactions to give the others a shot. I don’t think I’m unreasonable to play with, but who knows, I can’t see myself from the outside.
One other thing: my DM records our sessions, partially for podcast stuff, partially so if any of us want to go back and listen we can. He does this with our permission. I didn’t listen to the recording of this night because, well, living through it was enough, but my best friend (who couldn’t make the session that night) listened to it a few times.
End of context.
For the game in question, our schedules worked out that the only day we could meet up was late on a Saturday. We used to play in the mornings, so we were more tired than usual. We had just finished our New York City and cruise line chapters and arrived in London. DM describes we’re outside a train station and asks what we want to do. I suggest we find a hotel before getting on with the main plot. The DM asks us what kind of hotel we want. Noah starts chanting Big Ben. Doesn’t say “I want to go to Big Ben,” just starts chanting it over and over. I’m still trying to get the hotel thing situated, but I can barely hear our DM over the chanting. I didn’t catch this, but my friend, after listening to the recording, said at some point he told me “No, stop, shut up, stop talking.”
My DM decides to roll with this and introduces a stereotypical London street person who says “Oi, you want to go and see Big Ben? I can take you for [some arbitrary amount of British coins]” At this point I am so sick of hearing the chanting that I say “Yes, please, whatever, take our money so Noah can stop chanting.” My DM reminds me that Big Ben is in sight, so basically we’re being conned. Noah stops chanting to make fun of me for being so stupid as to fall for this con. Now I’m pissed, because obviously I can’t think straight when someone is chanting nonstop, I don’t even want to go fucking sight seeing in a game where I can’t SEE anything, I just want to play the fucking game.
The DM tries to get the British street person to get the money from us. Noah decides to punch the guy in the face. Note, this is not at all normal to do in COC, a game with real consequences. Myself and the rest of the group are not interested in getting arrested 5 minutes after arriving in London, so we say we’re leaving for the hotel. Noah decides to sprint to Big Ben. We don’t stop him.
Noah arrives at Big Ben. It’s a clock tower. DM asks Noah what he wants to do now, and Noah says, “I want a kebab.” DM reminds him this is 1920s London, you can only get a kebab in specific districts, so he would have to go to the other side of London. Noah says he wants to go there. He gets there at night. He gets a kebab.
DM cuts to the rest of the group. We wake up the next morning at our hotel and have a funny scene with newspapers and breakfast. We find out some important clues from the newspaper and discuss what to do next to further the plot. One person suggests we go find Noah, but me and another player shut this down. This is 1920s London, and though it’s player knowledge, we know Noah is nowhere near the hotel or where we last saw him. There’s no cell phones, and we have no magical abilities or objects to keep us in touch if we separate, something Noah should have known when he ran off. Also, we want to play the game. So we do main plot stuff.
When DM cuts to Noah, DM says that he woke up in some alleyway because his character was more concerned about sight seeing and getting a kebab than finding a hotel. Noah appears to realize he’s wasted a bunch of time doing nothing, so he says he wants to find a weapons shop to buy grenades. Now, our group had talked about getting grenades to fight the powerful monsters in the game, but it was more of a joke than an actual plan. Whatever, DM throws him a bone and takes him to a weapons shop, but after talking to the weapons dealer for a bit, DM reminds Noah that he needs to roll a very high social roll to get grenades. They’re illegal, war-level weapons, so obviously you can’t just go to a weapons store and expect to get them easily.
Noah says that if the weapons dealer won’t sell him the grenades, he’ll kill him. We’re all shocked by this. Again, this isn’t DND. There’s police, there’s consequences, murder is a big deal. We often work with the local police for plot reasons, so killing innocent people can completely derail us. And our DM is not afraid to send any of us to jail. But Noah rolls and gets lucky, he passes with a hard success. He gets a few grenades. At this point it’s late and one of us is falling asleep at the table, so DM ends the session.
A few people leave, a few stay behind to go to the kitchen to clean up and talk. Now, because DM is a grown adult and has been doing this for years, he turns to Noah and says, “Well, tonight was a disaster.” He wants to know why Noah derailed the whole night to basically do nothing. Noah gets defensive and says that the problem is with the DM: he isn’t describing the world enough, all we do is just talk to the same people in the same scenarios, Noah can’t visualize the world properly so that’s why he wanted to explore London. My DM takes this to heart, but does remind him that he did derail the whole session instead of just saying this. I jump in at some point, and Noah takes this chance to criticize me: apparently I’m only interested in doing what I want to do, and don’t give a shit about what the others want. Maybe that is true to an extent, but what I want to do is, you know, play the game, and do things to further the main plot. We try to tell him that he’s allowed to voice his issues with the game, but we have to play with the group in mind. At some point Noah says something like “I don’t like that you’re accusing me of being a murder hobo,” to which we remind him that he punched a man on a busy street and threatened to kill another man if he didn’t sell grenades. This goes on for a while, and eventually we all leave.
We have a Discord chat where we discuss scheduling, plot things, and memes. I don’t remember who started the topic, but at some point Noah posts a comment that begins with “I apologize for last night,” but turns into a long essay about how not only did he do nothing wrong by playing selfishly, but WE should all be playing selfishly. I want to remind you, readers, that this is his first experience with TTRPGs, and he’s advising us (most of whom have several years worth of experience) on the right way to play.
Now, my friend was not there that night and only knew that it went badly. Obviously, she is going to be bias because she is my best friend, but she’s also someone who isn’t afraid to call me on my bullshit. I didn’t tell her what happened that night, just to listen to the recording and tell me (and the group) her honest opinion. And she was horrified.
She jumps into the conversation after the “we should all be playing selfishly” comment. So this is an entire RPG horror story in its own right (I was sporadically part of the group, she much more so, so it’s more her story to tell), but my friend writes about her experience when we were in a group with 10+ players (I know, I know), and half of them played selfishly. They’d not only want individual storylines that didn’t involve any other players, but they’d pull the DM aside for sometimes over an hour to go on “secret” missions. The rest of the group would be chilling in a room while the DM talked to an individual player for an hour, he’d come inside, and another player would grab him to go on THEIR individual story for another hour. As you can imagine, these sessions would turn into an almost all day affair. The only reason why my friend put up with it is because it gave her ample time to do her college homework while hanging out with friends. The few times I went, I’d always bring my 3DS or whatever novel I was working on to pass the time. I read half of “Storm of Swords” in one session.
So my friend tells her story and says, “this is what happens if a majority of the players play selfishly. It was a nightmare to play, it did not make the game more interesting, and it is not something we should be encouraging people to do. It’s perfectly fine for the group to occasionally split up or do something on their own, but ultimately we should be playing with the group in mind, not selfishly.”
The whole time this altercation took place, most of us (including myself) were not necessarily interested in kicking Noah out. Again, we’d been playing and hanging out for months at this point, and this was the first time he’d done anything like this. But when he saw that no one thought what he did that night was funny, and no one was going to take his side or his advice, he told us apparently TTRPGs weren’t for him and quit the group.
It took my DM weeks to get over the incident. Like I said, he took Noah’s criticisms to heart and seemed to believe that the incident was partly his fault, even though the rest of the group had no problem with his play style. He describes the settings much more now, which is nice, but I didn’t think it was a huge issue before. Luckily, a friend of my DM was already slated to join the group, so by chance we already had a replacement ready. We have not had any incidents since.
Oh, since Call of Cthulhu is a game where people can go indefinitely insane, DM had Noah’s character be an enemy NPC at one point and attack our group with grenades. It was an awesome fight. His character ended up dying, but we’re not complete assholes: we had his body cremated, put the ashes in a pouch that we attached to Noah’s cat (he had a cat that was with him at all times, it was great), and sent the cat to the Dreamlands, this magical place where a ton of cats live. The end.
submitted by cyanmaar