Sunday, November 03, 2019

Living the NERFed Murderhobo RPGer Life

Image result for murderhobo

The weekend post is a little late because I spent the greater part of Saturday and Sunday attending a course on Quantitative Investing by Dr. Wealth but as a paid customer. I'm not ready to blog about it because I want to do this some justice to the course, so instead I just want to do a philosophical piece about life.

I had a small epiphany about my life lately.

Of late, I have been drifting away from playing D&D and putting a lot of focus on my life as a trainer. A cursory explanation is that D&D does not pay but being a trainer does, but I think as a financially independent person there are reasons that go beyond money as I slowly move away from gaming.

I think my problems with playing RPGs is a reflection of what I've consistently encountered my whole life.

In D&D, players like myself are murder-hobos. We trend to play great-axe wielding barbarians or pole-arm swinging Sentinel Paladins.  Otherwise we will be spellslingers like Diviners or Sorceror-Warlocks who never sleep. We focus on killing monsters, taking their treasure, and solving the problem is a quick, ruthlessly efficient manner.

The problem with murder-hobos is that we are seldom the majority in a gaming table. There are a class of gamers that my friend terms Yolofomos. Yolofomos want to play Kristina the Elven Beastmaster Princess who can develop a telepathic link with her pet cougar, maybe even have sex with it. The worse Yolofomos are those anime-loving BBFAs who insist on playing some kind of bard or "colorful personality". Such Yolofomos still focus on role-playing and exploration but can be objectively quite bad at it.

The truth is that Murderhobos are quite fine with Yolofomos and can work around inefficiencies in party tactics. They enjoy role-playing and exploration too. But you see, if a Murderhobo becomes too efficient as killing machines, Yolofomos feel threatened because " you play like that, it's not fun for me anymore. "

Enter the DM. The DM will do his best to make the game fun for everyone.

In theory the DM will run the module objectively and then split the rewards evenly. But in practice, the DM tries to stroke the Yolofomos by giving them more powerful magic items or over-budget monster encounters to challenge the Murderhobos and fudge the game for Yolofomos.

So Murderhobos RPGer have a perennial problem. They are always playing D&D in Hard or Inferno mode while Yolofomos get to play it in Easy or Normal mode. I once took a sub-optimized monk and went through 4 levels without a key material component to cast my most powerful spell when a fellow party member was given a Necklace of Fireballs that only found use after he rage-quit the party and I managed to hold of it.


An investor will find this story very familiar.

Ed Thorpe, who found an innovative way to do card counting, was eventually marked by various casinos and barred from entering them. He eventually joined the biggest casino in the world, the Stock Exchange, and did very well as a hedge fund manager !

So fundamentally, what is a Murderhobo?

IMHO, Murderhobos are folks who incorporate mathematics and a cold economic logic into their basic lifestyles and personal philosophies. They have a Bayesian sort of outlook in life. For example, we know that given the way RPG modules are designed, there are probably secret doors in empty rooms, so we search for them. ( Then we get accused of metagaming )

Societies will always have mathematical loopholes whether they are a some kind of advantageous beta that works in a back-test or asset structures that are just too tax-advantaged to ignore, so we Murderhobos pile into these loopholes. Because I am empirical, and coldly logical about investment markets, if I find that a strategy works, it is only fair that with the right conviction I can supercharge it with leverage so that I can beat all the best talking heads in the blogosphere?  Right now, as it stands, even my unleveraged students have a decent XIRR and all my portfolios are positive.

But I think my D&D experience has taught me saltiness lurks around the corner. I've been playing in this kind of hostile environment for three decades.

I am seeing a lot more passive aggression directed with at my business partners or myself these days. Overall, I think it is a good sign that we're growing. I want to take this in good spirit. Although I will never mention this here as to who they are, I do know which blogs are my biggest critics, and I do tell my students to read them and reflect upon their writing. Investors do best when they have a contrary opinion.

But here's the deal with financial markets.

My business can fail and my career can be over in a minute.

But until my models fail and I start seeing some investment losses, the Singapore Government, the real DM in this game of investing, can't NERF me without Singapore losing it's status as a financial hub.

So if I find a +5 Sword in the form of regulatory boost to REIT gearing ratios, or decide to pound someone with my Juris Doctor feat, no DM will be there to save a Yolofomo.

 Anyway, if I get back to D&D publicly, I think I will be a DM moving forward and will probably find PCs in the financial circles.

We can run an all-Murderhobo party !


  1. I’d love to re-play D&D again. (Last played in 1987). I’m not murderhobo level!

  2. Yes! Absolute carnage. Go for it. In the virtual world.