How to Beat Shark Week With This Attraction Technique

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0733

When I want something and can’t have it, I want it more.

You can attribute half my RPG book collection to that cruel fact.

However, we can take advantage of this human flaw to improve our stories.

It bugs me when my players go into a shark frenzy. That’s when blood hits the water and the Murder Hobos attack until everything is dead, dead, dead. Roleplaying and plot get mercilessly trod upon until the players are sated, hands shaking from the furious die rolling, character sheets a mess of eraser bits, and empty chip bags and tipped foe minis littering the battlemat.

Me: “Wait, don’t you want to talk to the demon before you roll all that damage?”

Hobo 1: “Shut up Johnn and move aside. It’s been a rough week and I want to carve this demon a new one!”

Me: “But aren’t you curious why the demons are terrorizing the land? Who their leader is? Where they’re coming from?”

Hobo 2: “Critical hit! Let’s see. Double the dice but not the mods, right? And extra for wielding my sword with two hands. And I’m gonna pop a superiority die here in a second for more. This demon’s going’ down! Wait, did you say something Johnn? Whatever. I did 67 points of damaaaaaaaaaage!”

Once players taste blood and descend into a shark frenzy, nothing else gets through. It’s dice lust until every last hit point is slashed, pierced, bludgeoned, and fried.

There are a few ways to deal with this. But the most powerful brings me back to why I have shelves of books.

The harder it is to get a book, the more I want it.

And that’s how you beat Murder Hobo shark week.

Set up something your players want badly and don’t give it to them. Magic items, cool feats and spells from third party products, status. Whatever the players ache for. And dangle those as rewards.

“Go see the last Monk of Foon. He knows the Demon Scythe maneuver.”

“It is said the mad mage Arkon crafted a spell that would let him step through walls and doors at will. This was the secret of his devastating attacks. He would appear through a wall, blast his foes, and disappear behind the wall again. No foes could ever touch him. Arkon’s Wallwalk has long been sought by wizards, but his spellbook has never been found.”

This is classic quest stuff. And players love it.

But I love it more just as a player raises his arm with a fist full of d6s ready to rain down fire hell on the table, and I have the demon laugh. “I fear not your flames puny wizardling. You cannot hurt me. Only one spellslinger ever stopped me and you are not him. Poor Arkos. His death came much too early.”

Bam. The armload of d6s freezes in the air. Beads of sweat pop out on the wizard’s forehead. A war wages within the player. Roll his pretty polyhedrons or follow the quest lead? Now it’s really game on.