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The Real Man

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Mary: I'm throwing a snowball at his meanie face!
Dick: I think that will just piss him off. But Anna does have the impulsive... You just took that so she'd be more likely to get in a fight.
Mary: Yes. The perfect flaw for a true warrior!

The Real Man is the Tabletop RPG player who plays the game for the visceral, action-packed experience. Any character played by this guy will invariably be a badass whirlwind of death — rarely do they play any sort of sneaky or supporting character. If by chance they have to play a wizard, he'll either be loaded to the gills with fireballs or decidedly non-squishy. The real man may do some Min-Maxing (though not to the insane heights of the Munchkin), but he's just as likely to select abilities based on "cool factor" alone.


These players are most interested in the parts of the game that involve fighting. Their strategies tend to be simple; run up to the enemies and hack them to bits (or blast them with the big guns in a modern setting). However, the more imaginative among them may employ some killer stunts, such as shield-surfing or swinging on chandeliers. Unlike The Loonie (whose stunts are played for laughs), this guy is doing it purely for the Rule of Cool.

The real man is handy to have around when a fight breaks out. He'll support his teammates when it counts (unlike the Munchkin who typically looks out for number one), and usually has a grasp on basic combat tactics. However, he's not as adept in situations where violence is not the answer. While some 'real men' are also skilled roleplayers (who just happen to enjoy a good brawl), others tend to stay silent when it's time for talking, relying mostly on well-worn archetypes (the trenchcoated stoic, for example), rather than the more original characters of the typical Roleplayer. Player characters optimized for combat at the cost of having no distinct personality or connection to the game world are known as "murder hobos" in some circles.


Then there are more problematic forms of the Real Man:

  • The Leeroy Jenkins: The guy with no patience for long-term strategy, deliberations, or diplomacy. He usually has one tried-and-true solution to every problem: the headlong charge. This may even work, on occasion, depending on how strong the Leeroy is. However, more often it leads to him getting in over his head (and even getting the entire party killed trying to bail him out) or getting mauled by a trap. Even worse is if he gets bored and starts a Bar Brawl during delicate negotiations because it's been more than ten minutes since the last fight. Named after the most famous example, Leeroy Jenkins.
  • The Murderhobo: Similar to the Munchkin variant of the same name. This is a Real Man who puts so little effort into the irrelevant portions of his character (like parents, siblings, friends, education, childhood, home address) that they exist in the game world only as some kind of viciously violent vagabond. Usually the mark of a more immature version of this archetype (hence its overlap in Munchkin), as the player doesn't yet realize that the Featureless Protagonist isn't quite as compelling in a tabletop RPG as it is in a video game, even if you're trying to Play the Game, Skip the Story. It probably goes without saying that this is the Real Man variant the Roleplayer likes the least, since they have no personality or backstory (even the minimal one other Real Men come up with is something). Game Masters can find it difficult to work with this character as there's very little to compel them to participate in an adventure, and indeed some Murderhobo players may declare that their character is not interested in a particular adventure and sit out the session if it seems like it will offer insufficient opportunity for carnage. The Loonie may enjoy endlessly needling him about his homicidal homelessness, and the Murderhobo Munchkin is likely to be driven to outperform the Real Man Murderhobo. A frequent target of derision in most tabletop RPG circles, it tends to remedy itself as the player in question gets more comfortable with the more creative aspects of the game.
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  • The Munchkin hybrid: Maligned as he is, sometimes the Munchkin may simply be a Real Man who stopped caring about the action alone and fixated on "winning" at any cost. This may be why most Real Men hate him so much; because of the fine line between them (some especially extreme Roleplayers may see little difference between the two, equating any love of combat with munchkinism).
  • The Loonie hybrid: When a Real Man fixated on badassery gains elements of a Loonie, namely their penchant for over-the-top antics. Well executed, it can create some incredibly bizarre and awesome scenarios. Poorly executed, it may veer into Munchkinism as the Real Man-Loon ends up doing ridiculously overpowered stunts, or into the Leeroy Jenkins due to collaterally damaging the rest of the party as well. Perhaps the most difficult and dangerous is the Real Man Loonie whose "humor" almost exclusively takes form as an Insult Comic, with the purpose of antagonizing NPCs until social encounters turn into combat encounters.
  • The Real Man Roleplayer: After becoming more comfortable with the more creative aspects of tabletop RPGs, the Real Man may "evolve" towards The Roleplayer. Positively, they retain their facility for action when it is called for while bringing to the table an interesting character who can be a wealth of story hooks in its own right (The Proud Warrior Race Guy is a good launchpad for this type, though some might take a touch of Loonie and build an action-oriented character from a race typically viewed as pacifist and weak). Done poorly, they bring the flaws of both: focusing everything on combat to the point of turning role-playing into combat "because that's what my character would do" and expecting their view of their character (in this case, as the badassiest badass to ever badass) to be a fundamental truth no matter what the rules might say.

This is probably the most common player archetype to appear in a MMORPG, next to the outright Munchkin types. Possibly justified, since RPGs Equal Combat.

A Sub-Trope of Player Archetypes.

A Sister Trope to The Roleplayer, The Loonie, Munchkin.

Despite the name, these players can easily be female. Or to extremely manly characters, though the Real Man's character might fit that bill. See Thud and Blunder for this player's ideal type of campaign.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Gourry Gabriev from Slayers is the only non-mage in the core cast, and something of a Leeroy Jenkins. His only available tactic when facing the assorted sorcerers, demon lords and humanoid abominations that they're typically pitted against is a straightforward charge with his Infinity +1 Sword.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Most of Team Dai Gurren is this to varying degrees, but none moreso than their originator, Kamina. Except he's not really, it's just an act he puts on to inspire people. He's just as scared as anyone, but he has faith that Simon will pull him out of danger.

    Roleplaying Games 
  • D&D's 4th edition is an odd case. The mechanics are described as "awesomeness" in moves present above, except for those races and classes that explicitly cater to little squishy or loner character traits (e.g. tiefling, warlock). However, it regulates it by carefully standardizing the damage each class can do at each level. A good example is the Monk class: one of his powers is described as punching so hard that his fist flies across the room with the rest of him still attached to it, but mechanically it does more-or-less the same as any other power of the same level.
  • In large part the appeal of Exalted, an RPG that specializes in being over-the-top awesome, that will actually let you jump 100 feet in the air, while whirling two blades around you to parry a hail of incoming arrows, then land head-first on the bad guy to smash him literally into the ground.
    • Exalted pioneered the Stunt Bonus concept ( cool actions work better when you describe them in detail) which Scion and Changeling: The Lost later used.
  • Paranoia and Toon also largely work on the Rule of Cool, in that awesome ideas, even if highly impractical, literally have a better chance of working than boring ideas. Of course, both are liable to get your character smashed into a pulp on a regular basis, but what isn't?
    • It's an actual rule in Paranoia that characters are not allowed to change their actions after declaring them unless the GM thinks it would be funny, as in "Oh, Moe-O-DJO is going to detonate his solar grenade? Shoot, forget about diving for cover, I'm going to strip off my armor so I get a tan!"note 
  • Any RPG that uses stunt-based mechanics, such as Feng Shui or Wushu.
    • To elaborate on Wushu: the system at its very core rewards players for stunting (in that the more details they provide, the more dice they get to roll, at least up to a GM-determined "cap") and also throws in the "Principle of Narrative Truth", i.e. any statement by a player about what happens in the game that doesn't get vetoed by another player or the GM becomes fact (although by the rules this obviously can't be used to short-circuit an ongoing conflict before its "proper" mechanical resolution). Which allows the Real Men to directly mechanically benefit from providing blow-by-blow descriptions of their character's awesomeness.
  • Scion actively encourages this kind of play with the Stunting mechanic that gives bonus dice and refreshes Legend based on how cool it is from a scale of 1, nifty and adds depth to the action, to 3, leaves everyone around the table speechless at the sheer amount of awesome involved in the action.
  • Similarly, Changeling: The Lost has Stunting in Dream-Fighting (similar to Scion's Stunting; +1 for cool idea, +2 for cool idea with lush description, +3 for idea that inspires applause and exultation from the table).
  • Out of the Warhammer40000 roleplaying games Death Watch and (to a lesser degree) Only War are designed for Real Man gameplay and are very combat-centric in setting and rules, with rules for fighting large quantities of insta-killed mooks, impressive weapons, high focus on combat options and tactical gameplay, and generally less focus on story agency and non-combat encounters. This is opposed to the more low-key Dark Heresy and Black Crusade where players tend to do most of their work out-of-combat without clear orders of where to go next and combat tends more towards the 'nasty, brutish and short' climax of an investigation.
  • The legend of Old Man Henderson from /tg/ — a character from a Trail of Cthulhu campaign that was created because his player was royally pissed off at his Killer Game-Master to the point that, instead of just walking out of his table, he proceeded to create a character specifically designed to piss the GM off until he Flipped The Table and called it quits — can be best described as a Loonie-Real Man hybrid. Just one of his antics was blowing up an entire building with cultists by rigging a half-filled fuel truck with high explosives he packed just in case and rigging the detonator to the airbags, jamming the throttle with a knife, jumping out of the door with minimum damage because his boots were Heelies, and calmly walking away from the resulting explosion without looking at it; that was after killing some time while chaperoning a high school prom by smoking a cigar-sized blunt that was rolled with a page from the Necronomicon.

    Video Games 
  • Scrappers in City of Heroes. Behold the magic of Scrapperlock!
    • And their Evil Counterpart, Brutes, whose innate power makes Scrapperlock MORE powerful!
  • Khelgar Ironfist of Neverwinter Nights 2. It's to the point that the other Blood Knight Proud Warrior Race Guy Dwarf Warriors want him to tone it down a notch.
  • Fallout 3:
    • A Big Guns optimized character has little choice but to be this. Not only do the stats required for Big Guns already provide the Required Secondary Powers for Big Guns (damage resistance and carry weight for instance, due to them being, well, heavy), also Big Guns are penalizing Sneak. This makes a Big Guns character primarily a charging character that relies on tough defense (and a healthy dose of Stimpaks hotkeyed) and the guns doing the killing before the character gets killed.
    • A Small Arms optimized one can be too if a player prefers blowing the enemies heads easily, and not to mention the Chinese Assault Rifle and the Combat Shotgun
    • Guns are for wimps! All melee with tons of Strength and Endurance is where it's at. Prepare to spend a lot of time sprinting towards your targets, laughing as you either soak the bullets or dash around cover, all for the glorious VATS teleport kills.
  • In Borderlands 2, Brick takes this role in the fourth DLC, Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep, which focuses on the Vault Hunters playing a Tabletop RPG. His first, last, and only reaction to anything the group encounters is "I punch it!" (which also tends to be his only reaction to anything he encounters in real life too). Unfortunately, he also tends to be the one to initiate diplomacy, so this attitude causes problems, such as choosing to punch the Dwarven king, thus killing him and turning all dwarves hostile to the players.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Mobius Final Fantasy's D&D-esque setting leads to it doing something of a Deconstructed Character Archetype of this style of play.
      • The hero, Wol, has been drawn to a fantasy world as a proving ground to test whether he is the hero of the prophecy. Through doing this he has become a Blank Slate with no backstory and ridiculous combat ability (and knowledge of Final Fantasy motifs like Fiends, Eidolons and Chocobos), making him the stereotypical "murder hobo". He also enjoys combat and loot-hunting for its own sake, and is the first to point out the implausible world-building and strange behaviour around him, showing plenty of enthusiasm for stabbing aliens in goofy sidequests but being disturbed by the fact that everyone expects him to be in love with the beautiful princess he's supposed to rescue. His main emotional conflict is his detachment, and he states that he's worried this world will suck him into emotionally engaging with the world, and becoming The Roleplayer.
      • Echo, a fairie infamous for following adventurers around to lead them into dangerous situations by promising them treasure, demands this of Wol, the legendary fantasy hero she's controlling. This involves things like taking him to areas with no people just to make him kill monsters for "loot" ("don't you like loot?"). It's suggested her reason for attaching herself to Wol is because he's a 'murder-hobo' who genuinely loves the thrill of combat and treasure-hunting.
      • The setting of Sealed Ruins, the first exploration region, is the aftermath of an incident where a supposed legendary hero purged a city of monsters, and then chased after them even once he'd driven them back from the ruins, powered only by bloodlust and desire for glory. Echo and Wol note that this is what the Blanks like him experience - having no identity other than heroism, they must fight monsters and perform heroic deeds to exist at all.
    • Also written by Kazushige Nojima like Mobius above, Final Fantasy VII Remake touches on a subtler deconstruction, with Cloud's persona being a murderhobo-with-emphasis-on-the-"hobo". He's a strong fighter with a badass and imposing appearance, but Tifa - who knew him from before he adopted the persona, and finds it disturbing - notes that he is homeless, has no possessions beyond things for killing people with, and appears to have no other interests or ability to negotiate situations beyond intimidating or killing people. NPCs contemplate his 'lack of wit' and mistake him for a junkie.

  • Legolas from DM of the Rings. When the players learn that the success of the entire campaign comes down to the die roll of a single NPC, Aragorn and Gimli are understandably upset, but Legolas thinks it's hardcore. He's also the player who comes up with all the crazy stunts and who never, ever grows tired of shooting orcs in the face.
  • Jim of Darths & Droids.
    • And Pete is the Munchkin variation, although he tends more towards the "pilot a starfighter with big guns" rather than the "personally wield a laser sword" approach to combat.
  • Bob and Dave of Knights of the Dinner Table.
    • And biker turned gamer Crutch who's priest is named Friar Swayze.
  • Fighter from 8-Bit Theater, though he's somewhat combined with The Loonie (Swordchucks, anyone?).
    • But thanks to the Rule of Cool they work very effectively.
  • Ben from Fuzzy Knights.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Belkar, who's only on the team for a socially acceptable reason to stab things. His lack of patience for stealth or diplomacy occasionally gets the group into trouble.
    • Vaarsuvius is the wizard variety, convinced that enough raw magical power can solve any problem. V once used a spell called "Familicide" to ensure that none of the dragon's relations, no matter how distant, would ever come back seeking vengeance; they estimated that as a result the world's population of black dragons decreased by approximately 25%. V has since grown out of it (somewhat) and started looking for more constructive ways to use magic to aid the team, instead of going for maximum destructive potential at the first opportunity.
  • Vriska from Homestuck is one of these, playing a pirate character based metatextually on Captain Hook who has 'gained all the levels. All of them.' This leads her to butt heads with her RP partner, who is The Roleplayer and plays a class that's useless but fits his personality best. The main thing keeping her from falling fully into Munchkin territory is that her character, while a God-Mode Sue, still represents her various interests and fannish obsessions. She's been known to roleplay as her character outside of mechanics-based games as well, although apparently she 'only does horrible things as her'.
  • Cory of One Piece: Grand Line 3.5 is both this and a Munchkin, who pimped out Zoro to an insane degree in order to maximize his killing ability. He's extremely frustrated when the GM bars him from playing his character at first, instead sticking him with the pre-made Coby.
  • Friendship is Dragons has Rainbow Dash, whose player repeatedly complains about the lack of awesome action and the setting in general.
  • Riker in Larp Trek. When he's not looking for some action with the ladies he wants to shoot stuff.
  • Mary in Knights of Buena Vista (a Campaign Comic about the Disney Animated Canon). When playing Frozen, she insists on playing Anna as a ninja class, and when told the setting doesn't have those, she goes for the closest thing. She makes sure that Anna's coronation dress has loads of pleats on the skirt, just so that she can do a Roundhouse Kick with no impediments. And Anna's even more willing to get in a fight than in the movie.
  • Hobbits And Hole Dwellers Has Ted, who is desperate to just go and fight. Unfortunately, the GM and Bailey have other ideas...