MurderHobos Mutual Wants You

An RPG and setting by Claytonian

The Gist: This is a percentiles RPG where the focus is on dungeon delves into spots haunted by laser-print-type manuscript monsters. There are no levels; you have to buy advancements by paying for them. The in-game explanation is that you are purchasing training-masters’ time, getting reagents and research materials, filling temple coffers, etc.

The default setting is a town surrounded by megadungeons where the players probably do retrieval gigs for Murderhobos Mutual, a body-recovery insurance company for adventurers, insane wizards, and other types that find it nice to be buried on consecrated ground yet end up dying in inconvenient and dangerous spots that match the milieu of a science-fantasy world. The players don’t have classes; rather they buy training, spells, etc. with their hard-earned cash. The players get paid per body brought back, and are allowed to keep whatever treasure they find in the dungeon (insured people often insure their possessions to be passed to their next of kin, so looting the body is not usually a thing to be considered by ethical murderhobos).

To generate a character, assign 80%, 60%, and 50% to the three base stats that double as saves:

Thews, Guile, and Ingenuity. Thews is used to hew heads, lift portcullises, endure disease, etc. Guile is used to trick pilgrims, snipe soon-to-retire guards, dodge viper-spit, etc. Ingenuity is used to decipher dead-languages, cast spells, recall lore, etc.

To learn or improve a skill, pay the percentile to be learned ✕ 100 coin and take one week to have a training montage. Coin comes in many denominations and metallic alloys, but in this game, coin is coin. You can learn any skill up to 90% proficiency, and you can learn as much as you can afford in one week.

Skills represent aptitude at just about whatever the player desires, but here are some skills to get you started:

Swords and staves, bows and arrows, polearms, firearms, horsemanship, bushcraft, legerdemain, skulking, sensing magic, monster lore, drinking (rumor-mongering), gambling, warcraft, dungeoneering, memorising spells (for one-off casting instances, ala Cugel).

Each magic spell itself is considered a unique skill. When you learn a spell, you initially have to buy it at 10%, and it costs an extra 100 ✕ spell level. If you want to buy further percentage in a spell, you have to treat each percentage point to be learned as spell level in number. For instance, you want to gain one percent in a 9th level spell, you treat it as learning 9% and have to spend 900 coin to do so.

If you are using a spell system that doesn’t have levels, the spells contained therein probably have references to “caster level,” which is not a thing in this RPG. You have caster level 1 when you gain such a spell, and can purchase further caster levels at a rate of 100 coin ✕ level to be gained in that spell.

To do a thing, the Mutual Master (MuM) will direct you which stat and skill to use. They do NOT get combined. Roll at or under your stat percentage to do a thing. If you didn’t, you may roll at under your skill percentage to try to succeed anyway. Some things, such as spells, are impossible to do without having the skill in your repertoire.

What about crits and fumbles?

If you roll a crit or fumble, roll on the respective tables for them. Player Characters crit if the tens and ones digit are the same and they rolled at/under their percentiles for either their stat or their skill (remember, we don’t roll at/under skill unless the stat roll fails so the first or second roll could crit).

Likewise, you fumble if you roll the same number for the tens and ones digit on a failure (failing to roll at/under stat, and then at/under skill so, the latter roll is the only one that can do this). If you fumble, the MuM will improvise a bad thing, side-effect, loss of resources, complication, etc.

Health types: the stats I forgot to mention

Physical, mental, and spiritual health are important. You start with 60% in one, 70% in another, and 80% in the third. Assign them. You can purchase further percent in each one as if buying a skill, but they max out at 90%.

If you are hit by an attack, it will target one of these three things. You have to roll at or under the targeted health type lest you lose 10% of it temporarily. If you reach 0% in physical health, you die. If you reach 0% mental health, you forever become a vegetable or gibbering idiot incable of the simplest tasks.  If you reach 0% spiritual health, you become corrupted and abscond at the earliest convenience, to return later as a villainous NPC.  

An orc might damage you physically. Seeing Cthulhu might damage you mentally. An evil deed, witnessing atrocity, or the touch of an undead or devil might damage you spiritually.

Healing

For each good sleep taken and meal consumed, you heal 10% physical health. For each successful mission, you gain back 10% mental health. Spiritual health is much harder to recover; one must repurchase each percent they want by spending money and one week at a temple, just as if learning a skill.

Heritage

Your heritage may give you certain benefits. Decide it at character gen.

You start with money! Kind of. Murderhobos Mutual encourages you to read the fine print.

Everyone starts with 500 temporary coin with which to purchase skills or gear. Spend it before the first session or lose it.

You may opt to indebt yourself to a mercenary guild, thieves guild, wizardarium, temple, or Murderhobos Mutual itself to gain an extra 10% in any one skill, but they will expect a mission of you… The guilds will break your legs if you don’t make good on debts within a few months or if you break their rules.

Gear:

You can buy one ration or gear item for 10 coin. To determine how much you can carry, you may draw items you purchased onto the following backpack, hip (scabbard and purse), hand, and fanny-pack diagrams. There is a banana for scale. A coin sack can hold 100 coin. A gem sack can hold 1000 coin’s worth of precious stones.

[insert illo here]

 

Magic:

You can memorize a number of spells equal to your current mental health divided in two. Once you use them, they leave your mind. It takes three hours to re-enter the spells into your mind. Rich, playboy wizards tend to enslave sandlestins to carry out their whims as that is a lot easier than keeping dweomers in your brain-pan.

Magic is dangerous. When it fumbles, bad things happen to you or your allies. Even when it crits, it works too well, and can have deleterious and unexpected consequences.

Setting:

Around the town, there are places of high adventure and not a little risk for poor schmucks to die. Generally, a body will go missing in about one per week (bodies that get too old might rise as undead or be absconded with, so, Murderhobos Mutual wants you to get them in a timely manner, mind.

Here are some starting areas:

  1. Temple of the Four Dogs: a couple of clerics fought the good fight.
  2. Stronghold of the Mer-bitch: the eponymous sea-enchantrantress has encharmed a beautiful buccaneer.
  3. Stronghold of the Dark Elves: a guerrilla hobbit has gotten entrenched behind enemy lines with lots of explosives.
  4. Grimtooth's Manor: Grimtooth took out a policy on his own body, just to see how well his traps worked. Spoilers: he’s not dead.
  5. Tegel Manse: Rupert Rump has fallen behind on his debts and the PCs are to go and break his legs wherever they find him in that haunted manor of his ancestors.
  6. Temple of the Primal Forces: Some people stumbled upon a big plot in a sleepy hamlet, and have not been seen since they took out policies before going into the nearby temple.
  7. Steading of the Draugr: It’s giant vampires all the way down to hell. But someone is still alive in the webs of the hell-queen, and the trail must be followed...
  8. Treasure Vaults of the King of Elfland: The King of Elfland’s Daughter absconded into these dungeons with a policy holder that the home office suspects used a powerful love potion to seduce her. Anyhoo, lots of treasure rumored to be down there, so there are rival collectors on their way even now…
  9. The Derivative Bottled City: Some poor policy holder touched a bottle in the castle of EGG and got sucked in. Murderhobos Mutual is extending a special “dinky” policy at a special discount for interested collectors.