DM of the Rings LXXXII:
Have Fireball, Will Travel

By Shamus
on Apr 2, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings

We. Need. A. FIREBALL!

Wizards: Work smarter, not harder.

Fighters: Not smarter, hit harder.

Rogues: Lie smarter, steal hardware.

Bards: Sing harder, get- ow! oh geeze! Fine, I’ll stop singing! Quit hitting me already!

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A Hundred!201There are 121 comments here. I really hope you like reading.

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  1. Jake says:

    I only got introduced to this comic today – and it is going right into book marks :)

    I always wondered how the “Scarer of hobbits” was ever going to show his super wizard powers? A few cantrips, a light spell, summon mount…gimme a dwarf with a battle axe any day. At least you know what they are good at. :P

  2. Jindra34 says:

    Wow talk about a follow more time they can spend doing nothing, it seems like they get all the bad luck…
    Didn’t someone mention the fireball thing on the last comic?
    Still rockingly hilarious.

  3. Myxx says:

    The only thing worse than this is when your wizard tells you that he didn’t prep fireball… that’s when the wizard becomes the magic missle.

  4. Tola says:

    ….I’d say ‘Fire Arrows’ but I forgot the horrific rainstorm going on in this scene.

    Even a Fireball would likely do nothing in that kind of rain.

  5. Woerlan says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with the anti-bardic statements.

    Lol. Entertaining comic as usual.

  6. Laithoron says:

    Obviously Your bards have been playing the wrong tunes and using the wrong equipment. Just get that bard some electricals (powered by a taksed lightning para-elemental) and have them steal a few songs from Jag Panzer or Manowar. Inspire Courage +1? Feh! Get them singing about the D&D equivalent of The Guns of Navarone though (The Mission, 1943 by JP) and even the *players* are going to be pumped!

    That’s right, Your bards need to become METAL!

    —Laithoron the DethElf

  7. Tola says:

    Curse Song would be useful about now…

  8. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    Hurray!

  9. I like the big goggly eyes on Aragorn and Gimli. :)
    -blarg

  10. Hmmm, this is more a setup for the next comic, isn’t it?

  11. Tola says:

    O.K, I think my eyes are screwy.

    Looking at the first picture? I…sorta…see it as a close-up of a Nazgul when its riding a Fell Beast. I can see what it IS(Helm’s Deep), but I also see it as that.

    Tell me I’m not going crazy, here…

  12. George says:

    Well if you are casting fireball in the rain, just make sure you have an acid substitution feat, or cold or wind substitution feat.

    And even with fireball, remember half of the damage is magical anyways, and rain doesnt put out magical fire. So damage would still be dealt.

    This is why every party needs a spellcaster… period. There will always be the time you are faced with an army of CR 1’s and are in dire need of a fireball/cone of cold/ chain lighitng/ other powerful AOE spells, greater cleave will only work until you roll a 1.

    Haha, multiclass to wizard, i would love peter jackson to remake the movie if aragorn multiclasses to a wizard mid movie in Two Towers, or Legolas took up some levels in Arcane Archer.

  13. Richardmaz says:

    if your looking at the top right corner it looks like a cliff but i guess it could be mistaken as a Nazgul.
    All i know there were no nazguls around this scene.

    …I think i need to watch this again :-)

  14. Shin Ji says:

    Yea, if Legolas had multiclassed to Arcane Archer, it would be amazingly useful. He could have (with some scrolls) wiped out a good chunk of the army before it could even get close. I mean, fireballs from miles and miles away. He’s got the Spot mod for it too.

    But if I was playing Gimli, I would literally just jump into the fray. Maybe get a featherfall beforehand if there was time, maybe not. He’s got Great Cleave, I’m sure. He’ll drop something like 9 orcs a round without trying very hard. And as long as he stays near the wall (ground slopes downward, and the orcs themselves provide cover), only a few archers could really target him at a time.

    The battle of Helm’s deep would not even be a challenge for D&D characters. Even without the wizard.

    • WJS says:

      If he did that he would be killed. Assuming he can take 20 hits before dying, and the orcs hit on a 16, that’s 83 attacks. If they need an 18, 138, and even if they need a 20, that’s only 415 attacks. Each orc is going to attack him at least once, so even if each orc swings once and is immediately killed, he can’t even take one thousand orcs, let alone ten.

  15. Shamus says:

    That first frame *is* heavily retouched. The blasted shot had too much contrast to work as it was. The door was almost totally pitch black. By the time I reduced the image and stuck it in the comic (on a white background) the door was impossible to see. It looked like the orcs were just going into the darkness. If I brightened it up, the door was visible but then the orcs were much too bright.

    So I had to cut the image apart, adjust the brightness / constrast for the two halves independantly, and then try to stitch it all back together to that it looks passable.

    This was one of those times where it just wasn’t worth the trouble. Bah. I should learn to draw.

  16. Mike says:

    Hitting the bard? Reminds me of Asterix…

  17. jperk31260 says:

    I liked the door in the moive, it was supposed to be this light weight door but someone forgot to tell the guy that made it. He read the script and found out it was supposed to stand up against a battering ram and so built it to last. I still smile when I think of those poor stuntmen.

  18. Varen Tai says:

    Quote:
    The battle of Helm’s deep would not even be a challenge for D&D characters. Even without the wizard.
    —-

    Not true. As I stated on an earlier comic, in the official LotR universe, orcs level just like PCs, so orc chieftans can easily be 15th level.

  19. Deoxy says:

    Well, if you had to do all of that, it did turn out quite well… but I actually saw that (the metally gauntlet thing the Nazgul king was wearing) first, too. Odd.

    And no, even a 20th level fighter in D&D couldn’t take that whole army by himself – 20s happen, and HP is not infinite. Even taking 20 orcs a round (which would be downright hard for anything but a twinked out spiked chain user, and even then it wouldn’t be easy), that’s still 500 rounds of combat. Even assuming on 1 hit a round, show me the fighter that has 500d8 HP.

    Shoot, even a 20th level WIZARD starts having problems with that many opponents – sure, if he’s got two brain cells to rub together, they won’t have a chance to hurt him, but he’ll be out of spells before they run out of orcs (by a good bit, probably, too), and the fortress still gets overrun.

    Defending against overwhelming odds is HARD, partially because breaking stuff is so (relatively) easy.

    (OOTS is currently experiencing this exact issue, oddly enough.)

    • WJS says:

      While a lvl20 fighter will get minced unless he has just the right magic items, a lvl20 wizard should be able to pull it off. Don’t bother with fireballs, they only kill one group of orcs at once. A Cloudkill, on the other hand, will kill all orcs that enter it for the next 20 minutes. A Symbol of Insanity or Persuasion will deny an area for over 3 hours, even if they aren’t inherantly lethal. A permanent wall of fire will block the gateway far better than the gate will, and while the orcs are milling around outside trying to decide what to do, you Gate in a Solar – with a DR and regen of 15 each, the orcs can roll as many 20s as they like, and for offense he can cast Holy Smite at will, and Summon Monster VII if he gets lonely. And if that isn’t enough, he typically has Fire Storm and Storm of Vengeance prepared too.

      There’s a reason people say wizards are overpowered at high levels.

  20. Doom Chicken says:

    Where’s a cloudkill spell when you need one?

  21. Woerlan says:

    Ah yes. Cacaphonix. Now there was a REAL bard.

    His singing was enough to motivate the entire village… to tie him up and gag him.

  22. Thad says:

    Hey! Speaking as someone who’s playing a bard, I would like to point out that the only reason our party has any real information about the area we’re in is because of of Mr. “Working the Crowd” here…

  23. Susano says:

    Nuke the orcs from orbit. It’s the only way to make sure.

  24. Jindra34 says:

    yeah and kill yourself in the process not to mention obliterating helm’s deep, my favorite solution is two gaint metal plates, one grounded the other having a huge lighttning rod, on the sides of the cone that became the battle field… Fried orcs anyone?

  25. Cineris says:

    @Deoxy

    Agreed. Even a very twinked out Fighter is going to have problems taking out tons and tons of enemies. Another thing in particular to consider is that (as far as we know) the characters in DMOTR don’t have anywhere near the DMG-proscribed level of magical equipment. A spellcaster can suffice without tons of equipment but fighter-types are really quite dependent on it.

    I remember throwing some kobolds at the PCs in my previous campaign — At 1/2 CR per Kobold, with an average of 4HP it’s hard to think of them as much of a challenge … Until you’ve got ten of them with crossbows. Those criticals start stacking up really quick even when you’re using creatures more disposable than commoners.

  26. Mark says:

    Gee, whatever happened to the poor-man’s fireball, the oil-and-torch combo?

    Heck, even just some good, old fashioned boiling oil poured off the battlements would be fine (followed by a torch or 10, just for full effect).

    Theoden didn’t need a wizard, he needed a competent siege engineer!

  27. Jindra34 says:

    umm…water happened to all of those things

  28. Mark says:

    Oddly, water doesn’t really effect the boiling point of oil. Especially if one is smart enough to do it inside a big fortress like Helm’s Deep, instead of out in the rain.

    Also, am I the only one who noticed that it wasn’t raining the whole time?

  29. Jindra34 says:

    Mark have you ever put water in Boiling oil?
    The result is likely you gettinmg burned, with a whole pot and that much rain i would say burned reallly badly.

  30. Steve says:

    [Boiling Oil] Easy to show you why this isn’t a good idea.

    Take deep saucepan and fill with vegetable oil to about three inches from the top and place on high heat. Peel and slice a couple of pounds of potatoes into thick, oblong slivers about the thickness of your thumb (do NOT slice and peel thumb).

    Blanch potato slivers, AKA “chips”, in boiling water for a few minutes and strain to dry. Periodically test oil with a small off-cut of potato. When potato fizzes nicely but does NOT cause oil to heave violently (the oil does not need to boil for our demonstration), place chips in metal strainer and lower slowly into oil. Cook until brown. Turn off heat, strain, add salt and vinegar to taste and eat chips.

    Properly fortified by a good meal of chips, don heavy protective clothing, turn off all burners, evacuate pets to other rooms, put on full-face transparent visor and add ONE DROP of water to oil. Scream as exploding steam fires oil into all the bits your so-called “protective” clothing doesn’t cover. Reflect sadly on the hours you will have to spend removing oil spatter from everything in the kitchen. Write off curtains as total loss.

    Alternatively, just assume I know what I’m talking about here, quit after the “eat chips” phase and take my word for it.

    Vat of boiling oil taken into rainstorm = kentucky fried defenders. Some of the orcs might die laughing though. Worth a try.

    God, I’m dying for a plate of chips now.

    Steve.

  31. Kristin says:

    Keep your boiling oil covered. Drop it off, cover and all.

    I’m willing to bet a catapult will knock the cover off a pot when it lands. Even if it goes off in midair, you still have the fallout for the Orcs to deal with… and water doesn’t wash off oil.

  32. Senalishia says:

    OMG I am SO GLAD I now know how to defend a fortress with boiling oil WHILE it’s raining. Water drops in boiling oil (which REALLY hurt, btw)…chainmail bikinis…arcane archers…bards…I should compile some of the discussions-du-jour from this comic just so we can all see how random and insane they are.

    >
    Unless you have soap. :)

  33. Jindra34 says:

    umm… now were just getting close to building a rude-goldberg device to kill these orcs, come on they had what, one afternoon to prepare? you really think they could do all that in one day?

    • WJS says:

      What Rube Goldberg device? Are you talking about the discussion of the boiling oil cauldrons that a decently equipped castle should already have? Because I can’t see anyone suggesting they should have built anything…

  34. Senalishia says:

    I obviously violated one of the (probably HTML) tools on this board, because my quote didn’t show up. I quoted the last line up above, about water not washing off oil.

  35. Nogard_Codesmith says:

    Steve:
    I followed your advice and am currently in the reflection stage. I’ve decided that boiling oil in the rain is not such a good idea. Thankfully I did not have curtains in the kitchen to begin with.

    As for the comic. I really dig how you are carrying this out. I’m still hooked, and am rejoicing for how much material we still have to go through.

  36. Dez says:

    “that’s when the wizard becomes the magic missle.” – Myxx.(#3)

    LOL!!

    Fantastic!!

    D!

  37. Woerlan says:

    Cineris says:
    Another thing in particular to consider is that (as far as we know) the characters in DMOTR don’t have anywhere near the DMG-proscribed level of magical equipment.

    True. For the most part, the heroes were equipped with high quality, but otherwise mundane equipment. Magical equipment is rare in Middle Earth, something that would likely traumatize classic D&D gamers (A recurring theme we see in DMOTR). One can assume that only the elves regularly made magical items, and even then a majority of their items were exquisitely made (uber-masterwork) as opposed to magical.

    Recognizable magical items in the books would include, among others:

    The Light of Earendil (Helps keep Shellob away)
    Elvish Rope (It burnsssss ussss…)
    Elvish daggers (It certainly hurt the Witch King)
    Elven cloaks (Look! I’m a rock!)
    Lembas waybread (Debatable)
    Sting (It glows blue so that the orcs know where you are!)
    Narsil/Anduril (Too bad it didn’t “gleam with white fire” in the movie)
    Glamdring (Gandalf’s sword)
    Wizard staffs (Their magic appears to be channeled through these)
    The One Ring (The most powerful Ring of Invisibility EVER)

  38. Miral says:

    Actually the One Ring isn’t really a Ring of Invisibility, it has more of a planar shift thing going on. So when you put it on you’re basically shifted to the Ethereal plane, although you retain collision with objects on the Prime Material plane so you can’t walk through walls.

    (Ok, I’m mixing D&D terms with computer terms a bit here. But you know what I mean.)

    • WJS says:

      Except that non-interaction with material objects is one of the defining features of the Ethereal plane. So you’re basically saying “It’s like going to the Ethereal plane, except for the bit about it being like the Ethereal plane”.

  39. Yahzi says:

    Don’t forget the Ring of Fire (with Gandalf) and the Ring of Adamant (with Galadriel).

    Not that those items ever appeared to do diddly-squat… :D

    • BlueCanary says:

      Galadriel’s Ring of Adamant served to protect Lothlorien from invaders and keep it the timeless spot that it was. Same with Elrond’s ring and Rivendell.
      It’s not clear what Gandalf’s Ring of Fire did, but I’m sure it helped him in battle (etc.). Everything doesn’t have to be spelled out.

  40. Jindra34 says:

    Woerlan do not go ninja on us…

  41. Miftov says:

    Your are leaving out the 9 rings made for men (That made the men Nazguls) The 7 rings for the dwarf lords which were all lost ( way to go dwarves) 3 rings for the evlish kings (which Galadriel, Celderan or what ever her husbands name was, and Gandolf had) as far as magic equipment stuff went, Also if you are going to mention Glamdring the Foe Cleaver that Gandlalf had (right give one of the only magic swords to the wizard at least he did obviously have some levels in fighter since he used it to fight the Balrog)then you should also mention Orchrist the Goblin Cleaver the Thorin got at the same time that Gandalf found Glamdring. Who knows what became of Orcrist after Thorin died after that battle of what was it 5 armies at the end of the Hobbit, But no for the most part all the magic items that anyone ever had got after the first war with Sauron when he lost the one ring it seems. If you read the Forgotten Tales or the Silmirilioin you will see quite a bit more in the way of magic weapons that all get lost through out history. My biggest question though has always been why did Tom Bombadil and the hobbits miss adventure with the barrow wights get excluded. I mean that is where Sam, Merry, and Pippin got there swords. Oh well absolutely great comic though so far Shamus keep up the good work. I can not wait to see how dave and the rest of the hobbit boys come back into the game from being off playing starwars.

    • WJS says:

      No, I don’t feel that any of those should be mentioned. The topic is magic items in the Lord of the Rings. Actually, we’re talking about Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas, so half of the items that were mentioned are kinda irrelevant…

  42. Think of the armor Frodo got as a starting gift, absorb and deflect damage. How many first level starting characters start off with a magic sword, a magic ring and magic armor?

    BTW, remember with oil in the rain, it explodes downward. The English used boiling oil all the time in the rain.

  43. Jindra34 says:

    when did stuff start to explode in any direction, last i checked explosions went every which way… but hey i may be wrong

  44. smilydeth says:

    OK..OK….
    The english used boiling oil quite frequently…everyone did to some extent. The pot sits in a (occasionally covered)wooden frame on the wall with a fire underneath…once the oil reached the right temp a wench was used to tip the pot sideways…dropping contents down the wall.

    As for rain…keep in mind that the pot did not need to contain oil or even be boiling for it to be effective. Water heated to boiling will still drive a host of enemies away from ones walls and is much safer to use in the rain…..and liquid pitch or naptha could also be poured from the pots in the rain…then ignited with a torch, sure a downpour might put the fire out…but the orignal burst would be devestating. Also in many cases the defenders did not have time to heat the oil to boiling before a battle….cold-warm oil becomes grease and that can also be very effective against invaders trying to scale the walls.

    Just some thoughts….

  45. Experienced says:

    Note how the orcs have formed a testudo – “turtle” – with their tower shields. That actually blocks the line of effect. Those orcs can’t be targeted with a fireball! (By the D&D 3.5 rules.) First you’d need to make a breach to the wall.

  46. Stranger says:

    The orcs can’t but the shields CAN . . . and the fireball WILL affect them, as it does NOT block radius effects.

  47. anachronist says:

    What do you people have against bards? The first time I decided to play a bard, everyone including the DM got the willies over it. It seems very few players or DMs ever experience a game with a bard in the party.

    But by the time my bard got to level 12 and was buffing 3 allies with +7 attack bonuses, two others with +5 to hit and damage, while simultaneously penalizing foes with -2 to all d20 rolls (three songs and a couple feats combined), NOBODY wanted the bard to die. Even the DM was impressed. And this was a straight bard with no multiclassing.
    -A

  48. luagha says:

    What people don’t realize is that Lord of the Rings is actually on the old Iron Crown Enterprises/Rolemaster system.

    For those of you who didn’t suffer through it, I’ll simplify it grossly.
    Imagine you’re on a percentile system. You get +10% to your roll for every fighter level. You get a bonus for your weapon especially if it’s magic. And a bonus percentage for your strength (in melee) or your dex (if ranged).

    Your opponent’s armor will have a minus percentage, like full plate will be -50%, more if it’s magic. His Dex will help him dodge, for more negatives. And so forth. You roll percentile dice, add up your bonuses, subtract your opponent’s penalties, and see if you hit.

    But here’s the kicker. You hit at 100%. You CRIT at 200% and up and the crits go off of notoriously deadly charts. And your percentile die roll is open-ended – if you roll a 95-100%, you roll again and add.

    Gimli is a tenth level dwarven fighter for +100%. He has a sweet dwarven axe, and he’s horrifically strong, which bonuses usually cancel out the available armor and dodge of any non-Nazgul opponent he faces. Basically, he always hits and because he’s so strong he always does good damage. If he rolls well he crits, and when you crit with the axe your enemy basically loses a limb at random. Which is why every so often Gimli can jump out of the shadows and take off two orc heads with one swing.

    Legolas is a twenty-fifth level elven fighter who’s been alive for thousands of years. Not only does he start at +250% but he’s magically elf-graceful and his bow is as fabulous as he is. Legolas always hits and always criticals. Which is why at one point in the books some Nazgul are flying overhead and Legolas says, “What the heck, if they’re GIVING me a target…” and lets fly. Since, as mentioned, he always hits and always criticals, the arrow sails up and the flying Nazgul veers drunkenly and crashes into a mountain….
    (Gandalf tells him later, “Nice shot – it’s a pity the Nazgul can’t be killed by arrows,” which must annoy Legolas terribly.)

  49. ShadoStahker says:

    Yeesh.

    “Where’s the Wizard?”

    “Where’s the Fireballs?”

    They don’t exist, as everyone seems to be forgetting something very important.

    Gandalf is a Bard.

    …Now that that’s sunk in, think about it.

    Gandalf has certain abilities.

    Have you ever seen him cast a non-enchantment spell? Or a high-level spell in general?

    How about his leadership capabilities?

    His martial prowess (yet lack of armour)?

    His ability to know every freaking detail possible about everything?

    Oh, and he also has no spellbook, making him a Sorc or Bard.

    And Diplomacy is obviously a class skill.

    Gandalf is a Maiar Bard.

    (Saruman is a Maiar Wizard or Sorceror, Sauron is a Maiar Wizard (Necromancer specialization))

  50. ShadoStahker says:

    Note: Flare is a Bardic Cantrip as well, despite being non-enchantment.

  51. DarthFishy says:

    First time reader just chiming to say:
    (a) Great Comic.
    (b) To answer Miftov, if I recall correctly Orcrist was left on Thorin’s tomb after the battle of the 5 armies, and would glow whenever Orcs would approach.

  52. Antiquated Tory says:

    smileydeth:
    “once the oil reached the right temp a wench was used to tip the pot sideways…”

    Women always got the crap jobs in the Middle Ages! I blame the patriarchy. (I assume you meant “winch.”)

  53. Hotaru says:

    well even if gandalf is a bard if he happened to have a scroll of fireball wouldn’t he be able to use it? it’s early and i have about a liter of not named liqour in my so i can’t really remember

  54. Lanfras says:

    the last bard we had in our party pissed me off so much i turned him into a chicken and launched him out of a trebuchet, then blew him up in mid-air with a lightning bolt…

    well, he shouldnt have carved ‘bombar was ere’ into my bear’s arse, should he?!?!?

  55. Carl the Bold says:

    Antiquated Tory Says:

    smileydeth:
    “once the oil reached the right temp a wench was used to tip the pot sideways…”

    Women always got the crap jobs in the Middle Ages! I blame the patriarchy. (I assume you meant “winch.”)

    I assumed he meant “winch” as well, since, as we learned in the last set of comments, all the wenches were home in bed waiting to serve the menfolk when they returned from battle.

    Other thoughts:
    I gave blood yesterday (intentionally–to a blood bank). In making small talk with the nurse, she told me it’s been her experience that more women give blood than men, which she attributed to me be scared of needles. She wouldn’t listen to me try to tell her that dragonslayers are not afraid of tiny bits of sterile metal sticking out of their arms.

    If things other than boiling oil can be usefully dropped on the enemy at the gate (non-boiling oil and boiling water for instance), how about things like Skittles? When the orcs are busy tasting the rainbow, that means the rain has stopped, and you can go back to the boiling oil (even if you don’t have a wench to drop it on them).

  56. Valley says:

    Think they are having problems now? Wait till the Urakhai blast the hole in the wall. Then they can complain!

  57. Medium Dave says:

    “The english used boiling oil quite frequently…everyone did to some extent. The pot sits in a (occasionally covered)wooden frame on the wall with a fire underneath…once the oil reached the right temp a wench was used to tip the pot sideways…dropping contents down the wall.”

    Aww, c’mon can’t ypu just picture an oily wench? Standing in the rain? Covered in second degree burns? NM…

  58. Shamus says:

    As I understand it, the wench operated a winch to tip the pot, which is how she avoided getting burned.

  59. Browncoat says:

    Hey, Shamus, is it possible that this strip, being the first published after Daylight Savings usually begins, was published at 1pm instead of noon? The first comments say they were posted shortly after noon, but the last few strips have had comments posted shortly after 11:00am, even though the strip didn’t show up until noon.

  60. Darkenna says:

    “To the winch, wench!”

  61. Steve says:

    smilydeth Says:
    The english used boiling oil quite frequently…everyone did to some extent. The pot sits in a (occasionally covered)wooden frame on the wall with a fire underneath…once the oil reached the right temp a wench was used to tip the pot sideways…dropping contents down the wall.

    Citation please. I’m English and I can assure you I do not have a boiling oil pouring wench on hand. My (American) wife would kill me before we could tip the oil on her were I to so much as mount a huge cauldron on the roof and install a burner.

    Actually, if anyone can be arsed to check, it would appear that the hot anti-seige medium of choice for repelling frontal assault on the old portcullis was hot sand.

    Someone also said a couple of issues ago that people don’t build castles so that they can retreat to them and sit and wait out the enemy. In point of fact, that’s exactly why they were built. The enemy rapidly depleats the resources of the countryside and hunger and disease set in. With a bit of luck, Autumn will send the plague-ridden, dysentery-weakened fools scuttling for home and the local leeches. Of course, you need to lay in supplies too otherwise you are probably going to end up dining on long pig.

    A whole form of warfare sprang up out of trying to defeat the tactic too. Why do you think they’re called seige engines?

    Good accounts of these sorts of events can be found at Wikipedia. I suggest the Wars of the Roses as a good starting point for locating accounts of seiges. One lasted seven years.

    And there was precious little gold or magic once they got in either,

    As always, a pleasure to read the comic and the responses to it. I wish I could game with some of you. I even have an, I can barely force myself to say it, orange D20 now, just in case.

    Steve.

  62. Steve says:

    Darkenna Says:
    “To the winch, wench!”

    The winches of the middle ages were scarcely more reliable than the wenches, often requiring in-situ repairs by the artisans. I imagine that many a beseiged winch wench shuddered to hear the cry: “To the winch with a wrench, wretch!”

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