DM of the Rings XCVI:
An Errant Arrow

By Shamus Posted Friday May 4, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 120 comments

The party has parlay with Saruman.
Legolas attacks during parlay.
The DM has a temper tantrum.

There is nothing more destructive to the story than a DM temper tantrum, which explains why players have such enthusiasm for causing them.

(Also, for the benefit of readers who check out the comic but don’t read the rest of the site: I want to point out that I was interviewed on Fear the Boot. Tune in to hear some behind-the-scenes info on the comic and a bit about myself and my experiences playing D&D.)


From The Archives:

120 thoughts on “DM of the Rings XCVI:
An Errant Arrow

  1. Dan says:


    Great job as always.

  2. Yarell says:

    lol, wonderful as always :)

  3. scrawfo says:

    “Lawful Stupid” – awesome!

  4. Hal says:

    Well, that leaves out “Sharky’s Revenge.” Not that they put that in the movie or anything.

    Now I’m curious just how many characters are going to die just because the players had no patience for the story.

    C’mon Shamus . . . impress us. ;-)

  5. Scarlet Knight says:

    1,2,3,4,5! Five witty posts! (THUNDERCLAP) Ah ha ha ha! I love it!

  6. Godfather Punk says:

    Poor Grima :(


  7. bruce says:

    Ooh, ooh, third!

    Great comic and great interview. You sound different from what I expected..

  8. bruce says:


    Seventh and eighth…

  9. Erin says:

    *dies from sheer effort involved in suppressing laughter* Lawful stupid, indeed. DM temper tantrums are fantastic. I loved the “Now he’s dead. Murderer.”

    I’ve GOT to stop reading these at work. One of these days I’m going to get myself into a LOT of trouble for doing non-work stuff at work.

  10. Matyas says:

    This one’s great.

    Who did you use for Grima’s corpse in the last panel?

    1. StarSword says:

      He used Grima, actually. In the movie, Grima backstabs Saruman, then Legolas shoots Grima. Grima falls over, Saruman falls off the tower.

  11. Arbaal says:

    Absolutely awesome Shamus!

    I started doing a Powerpoint Presentation so I can show off this site to friends at my gaming club, but after so many pages I guess I can just show em what I have and let them get caught up :)

    You really should make a book out of these!

  12. Godfather Punk says:

    I think Legolas was already guilty of one major plot rewrite..

    “Waah! Precious…”

  13. Doug Sundseth says:

    One of the better recent strips. Thank you.

    (Question: Shouldn’t this strip be “XCVI”, not “XCVII”?)

  14. Shamus says:

    Who did you use for Grima's corpse in the last panel?

    Grima, from the Special Edition.

    (Question: Shouldn't this strip be “XCVI”, not “XCVII”?)


  15. Blindeye says:

    I always wondered why the hell Legolas shot Wormtongue. I guess this answers it.

  16. Godfather Punk says:

    I love Saruman’s expression in the bottom panel.


    Error: Please enter the anti-spam word.

    Oh for funk’s sake! :mad:

  17. Hahahahaha! That look of suprise on Grima’s face had me rolling! I have done that once to a DM now, and had it done to me once… “He’s monologuing? I attack.”

  18. Shamus says:

    Great comic and great interview. You sound different from what I expected..

    It’s true: I have a good face for radio and a voice perfect for silent movies.

  19. Arto Pasanen says:

    My personal favorite, this one. All the expressions are nothing less than perfect.

    This’s the game master’s nightmare. After all the effort you put in the making of an NPC, they’re just going to kill him. They won’t want to hear the dialogue you’ve written for him, instead: “Does he look wealthy? I’ll attack him, let me roll.”

  20. Browncoat says:

    The Voice of Saruman was always one of my very favorite chapters in the book. The BBC audio version did a great job of dramatizing it. I thought the movie was lacking here, but I still enjoyed the scene.

    I’m surprised to see that Leggy’s d20 has a “1” on it. I thought his only went down as low as 15 or so.

    Very nice strip. I give it four walking sticks (out of a quiver of little walking sticks).

  21. Soris says:

    Awesome. Just awesome again. “THWAP!” I love it. Maybe we’ll get a “BIFF” or a “BOFF” next time!

    Shamus, you’re so right about DM’s blowing their top. We had an impromptu session not to long ago, where our DM had about 20 minutes to prepare. Somehow we failed to realize this was not the most appropriate time to go rail jumping. We did anyway.

    DM: Asking for the third time, “Are you SURE you don’t want to get off the barge to investigate the wounded and bleeding orc standing on the shore in front of the burning mill?”

    US: “Nah. We’ll just keep going until we get to town.”

    DM: Points to one of the players. “It’s your mill!”

    Player: “That’s okay. I’ve got lots. I can always rebuild.”

    We ended up having to fight monsters at least 6 levels our senior and getting our rears handed to us. Burnt. On a plate. With arrows in them.

    “THWAP”, indeed.


  22. Browncoat says:

    18 Shamus Says:

    May 4th, 2007 at 12:26 pm
    Great comic and great interview. You sound different from what I expected..

    It's true: I have a good face for radio and a voice perfect for silent movies.

    Well, Shamus, they said the same thing about Myron Cope!

  23. George says:

    You have mistaken us for heroes that are lawful stupid.

    A very fine representation of any alignment that has the word Lawful in it. Lawful characters are such a pain to deal with, especially lawful good.

    1. WJS says:

      And Chaotic characters aren’t? What about the players who think “Chaotic Neutral” means “Batshit Insane”, or that “Chaotic Evil” means “Complete Psychopath”?
      It doesn’t matter what alignment the characters are, if the player is a prat they will be a pain to deal with.

  24. Proteus says:

    “You are confusing us with heroes who are lawful _stupid_.”

    Classic line. Thanks!

  25. 'Tarako says:

    ‘Hahaha, awesome as always. Long time reader, second time poster. That was awesome, I’ve showed this to my dm and he just about bust a gut because we had just done something similar a session or so ago. My whole group loves this script and its awesome how much we can relate to it. Kudos.

  26. vonKreedon says:

    At this point I’m just “me tooing”, but Lawful Stupid is so right on.

  27. Nogard Codesmith says:

    Hal Says: “Now I'm curious just how many characters are going to die just because the players had no patience for the story.”

    All of them.

  28. txknight says:

    Lol! “Lawful stupid”, I got to remember that one! It somehow reminds me of Spaceballs and that one line from Dark Helmet that goes “So, Lone Starr, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.” Not sure exactly why though.

    Any ways, good job!

  29. Rosuav says:

    …. Your arrow strikes him in the heart.
    I rolled a one.

    HA! The DM may have a lot of power, but the dice still rule the DM….. to an extent.

    And… yeah, it’s a “me too”, but I LOVE “Lawful Stupid”.

  30. Carl the Bold says:

    Shamus –

    I’m curious why you chose to use images of Saruman and Wormy from TTT, looking out over the assembled orc army, if I’m not mistaken, rather than on top of the tower, where they stood in the actual scene.

  31. Lil'German says:

    I think Mr Saruman missed the last Briefing about the story development ;)
    this WTF???-look on the face of his is utterly priceless.

  32. Arson55 says:

    I am surprised to see the Lawful Stupid joke…that has long been a running joke among my friends and I. Usually as our take on the stereotypical paladin who uses his honor in place of reasonable thought.

    We’ve also played characters whose alignment was Mostly Good.

  33. Shamus says:

    Carl: There were just a lot more images available of the two on the balcony. In RotK, Grima doesn’t appear until the end, we only see low-angle views of him, and he’s never beside Saruman, so it would have been hard to convey the “you missed” joke in a way that made sense.

    On top of that, the thing where Saruman was at the top just makes no sense. He’s a hundred yards above them and yet they have a conversation as if they were just a few feet away. They should have to shout their heads off to be heard. The characters on the ground are looking up at a fouty-five degree angle, which means they are staring at the side of the tower far below Saruman. Just nonsense.

  34. Thad says:

    I have to say I was flashing back to the previous cut scene involving Grima. Perhaps the players were too, and that’s why they demanded to do something.

  35. Jindra34 says:

    lego-lass i think is a little too trigger happy. what is this the thrid time he has shot in the middle of DM narration?
    good laugh none the less.

  36. Namfoodle says:

    At our last session, the players were arguing a bit because we had a monster try to parlay and surrender. We had just about finished off a salamander after we managed to dismiss the huge elemental it had along. It wanted to surrender and promised to give us it’s treasure and bail back to its home plane. Some of us (including me) wanted to kill it anyway because we didn’t think we could trust it. A few other players wanted to let it live, and I thought they were being stupid or roleplaying their goodness too much. The whole party is sort of chaotic “goodish”.

    The good players won out and the salamander kept its word.

    I was shocked. I mean, it makes objective sense for an itelligent monster to give up if it values its existance, but how often does it actually happen in D&D without it biting the players in the ass sometime later?

  37. Wulfwen says:

    Namfoodle Said:

    “I was shocked. I mean, it makes objective sense for an itelligent monster to give up if it values its existance, but how often does it actually happen in D&D without it biting the players in the ass sometime later?”

    Ah, young grasshopper, you are *totally* underestimating the length of later! I’d guess anywhere from 2-3 months…real time. After all, your GM has all the time in the world to come up with something worthy! And it may not even be the salamander itself that bites your party (literally or figuratively). If the GM is being really creative, you may expect something off-the-wall that only involves the salamander as a peripheral player in the plot.

    Or maybe, just maybe, the players or someone they care about will end up in its power! Imagine the squirming…

    Shamus – thanks again for the way funny stuff! Wulfwen :)

    1. Caedrel says:

      A really expert DM would have the salamander do something minor but significant for them later on, rewarding the party for their mercy rather than punishing them for it – that’s the sort of thing that helps shape a party’s responses.

  38. mneme says:


    The players are so right here, too — this is another case of what works as a story (or an unconventional game where Theoden’s a guest PC and Gandalf’s clearly a high level PC (not NPC) played by someone the other players trust not to scene hog (too much)), just doesn’t work in this game.

    “So, you want us to just sit here while Gandalf and this other white wizard talk, and then the entire denoument comes down to stuff between them? I don’t think so.”

  39. EF says:

    First time to post. I’ve discovered your site recently and been going through your archive. Repeatedly. And yeah, I’ve infected a co-worker with your work. We are SO going to get in trouble in work for this.

    Worth it though >:-) Keep up the great work!

  40. Cadamar says:

    Poor little NPC, he never saw it coming…

    You never get over the look of shock and horror when an NPC realizes that being integral to the plot is no defence against the players.

    “Hey wait! In six adventures I’m the only person who will be able to close the Black Gate of …*Sklerck*…”

  41. Jindra34 says:

    Cadamar:so do non-plot-critical NPCs last longer than the important ones?

  42. Destroy Gundam says:

    Looks like the found the “button” to skip the non-interactive cut scenes.

  43. Destroy Gundam says:

    Darn spelling errors. I meant to say “they”

    This is the only webcomic that has caused me to laugh so hard that soda came out of my nose

  44. Sir Desktop says:

    Even with all of the carefully thought out dialogue between the DM, PCs and NPCs, my favorite panels are the WTF?!? speechless expressions from something totally unexpected.

    Interesting podcast btw. I hope you can come up with an idea for another series for when this one is over. Something original that you can publish without legal issues, but not a repeat of this one. You definitely have our attention.

  45. Godfather Punk says:

    Browncoat Says:
    The Voice of Saruman was always one of my very favorite chapters in the book. … I thought the movie was lacking here, but I still enjoyed the scene.

    I thought Christopher Lee, with his deep bariton, was an excellent choice for Saruman.

    “I know it is my fate,
    bound to Erian’s old tale
    I’ll be always there
    fighting the ancient sin…”

  46. Lolipop Knight says:

    Actually, the players’ argument makes a lot of sense.

    Why would you waste the lives of grunts by letting the guy who sent ’em after you live? He’s clearly more evil, or evil on a larger scale, than the guys you just killed, and if they deserve to die, he does too!

    BTW, Shamus, first time poster, long-time lurker. Your strips are brilliant, and I look forward to any and all of your future work!

    1. WJS says:

      Well of course they’re right. They may be impatient and inattentive, but they’re not stupid. That said, one would expect lawful characters to want to capture the villain, list his crimes, and have Theoden sentence him to death. Not just shoot him without provocation during parlay. (Obviously if he chooses not to come quietly, then you can shoot him, but at this point all he’s doing is talking)

      1. WJS says:

        The distinction being that the orcs deserve to die because they’re trying to kill you. You can’t claim self defense for shooting an old man who’s giving a speech.

  47. Matt says:

    They’re not Lawful Stupid, they’re Chaotic Stupid. One old campaign I played saw a bugbear surrender to the party, give up his (mostly worthless) treasure, tell all he knew about evil monsters in the area, and still get whacked because he just couldn’t be trusted.

    At this rate I’m thinking when they get to Aragorn’s wedding Legolas is going to look around and ask, “How many guests are here?”
    “So that’s about…what, 3 xp per guest at our level?”

    1. Robin says:

      No matter what the character sheet says, 97% of all D&D characters fit into one of three alignments — Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

      (I don’t include “Stupid” in the alignment for the same reason I don’t include “Character” — it’s assumed.)

  48. Jindra34 says:

    Matt: they are neither they are most definitely neutral greedy.

  49. Myxx says:

    Man, there are some classic one-liners in there. Very nicely done.

  50. Lycoris says:

    *in hysterics*

  51. Cheesemaster says:

    Wasn’t “Lawful Stupid” in an Order of the Stick strip? In any case, that ws pretty cool (long-time reader, first-time poster.)

  52. Shamus says:

    Oh man, please tell me I didn’t just poach OOTS.

    1. Arkanabar says:

      You have not. Jokes about Lawful Stupid predate the internet.

  53. Jindra34 says:

    you just poached the threads but not oots.

  54. Nogard_Codesmith says:

    It was written on the wall (by belkar and elan) with an arrow pointing to the defensless roy (poisoned with STR 0).

  55. Nogard_Codesmith says:

    To be fair tho, “Lawful-stupid” has made an appearance in more than one game I’ve played, and everyone who said it thought it was original at the time.
    (I’d like to give “Randy” (of earlier DMotR comments fame) credit for being the first person I ever heard use that phrase)

  56. Hal says:

    Heh, I think I have a great idea based on our greedy, impatient players.

    Our intrepid party meets up with Frodo and Sam in Mount Doom. Aragorn steals the ring. When the DM tries to explain why it’s a bad idea, Aragorn cites the extreme lack of loot in this campaign, especially magic loot.

    It could work.

  57. Isoyami says:

    ROFL – agreed the “Lawful Stupid” quote was great – so true.

    Also, Leggy-lass sure has an itchy rolling finger, don’t he?

    First Gollum, now Grima? What’s next? Are we going to find out Lego ACTUALLY killed Denethor with a one-in-a-million extreme range bowshot when Den jumped off Minas Tirith before he hit the ground? LMAO.

    Now I have the Weird Al Yankovic song “Trigger Happy” stuck in my head…

  58. Sarah says:

    ok off topic but what album is trigger happy on??? i have all the others…
    btw, i love this comic!

  59. Ben-San says:

    Lawful Stupid predates OotS by a lot. I saw Lawful Stupid/Chaotic Weird buttons at conventions in the early 90s and I know they’ve been around longer than that.

  60. Avaz says:

    Shamus, mad props, man. You make this look easy.

  61. pdwalker says:

    Hhaha…. the cartoon is good, your comments at the end make it hilarious!

  62. DocTwisted says:

    Heh, this totally reminded me of a DVD I have, this movie titled “The Gamers.” At one point the party is ambushed by a group of forest bandits, and while the bandit king is monologuing, the party’s archer just shoots the bandit king in the neck. I remember the response of the DM being “God dammit.”

  63. Lynx says:

    “A very fine representation of any alignment that has the word Lawful in it. Lawful characters are such a pain to deal with, especially lawful good.”

    Which is why “Lawful” has the word “Awful” in it…

  64. Attorney At Chaos says:

    “Lawful Stupid” goes back at least 25 years and probably more (along with “Neutral Hungry” and several other alternate alignments).

  65. Golgothus says:

    Dragon Magazine had a list of “quasi-alignments” in the mid-80’s… though at the time they had Chaotic Stupid and Lawful Idiot… Most of the others died away but we’ve used “Lawful Stupid” for around 20 years now

    “The quasi-alignment system is divided into Lawful, Chaotic, and Neutral alignments, just like the AD&D game system. In this system, Lawful means that players of those alignments get involved in the game, while Chaotics are detrimental to the game as a whole. Neutrals fall anywhere between. It is possible for a player to have two or more alignments at once. Though
    these alignments are really meant for players, it is possible to classify characters under them as well. ”

    Descriptions of all the quasi-alignments included in the above thread.

    One of my personal favorites was Chaotic Everywhere!!

    He who lives by the skull will die by the skull

    1. aevan says: for any late-comers to the thread to find it now.

  66. Carl the Bold says:

    Shamus – Thanks for the view inside your head. (it must be getting crowded in there.)

    Sarah – Trigger Happy is on the album “Off the Deep End”. A pretty good album, by my calculation. I haven’t bought any of his albums post that one, but that’s largely because he’s parodying much more recent music of styles of which I don’t find myself to be a fan.

    Attorney at Chaos – “Neutral Hungry”. lol. reminds me, I have to go make my kids breakfast.

    Kids – hold your horses, I’m coming.

  67. ROFL.

    So it would be Stupid to go up into the super-powerful wizard’s tower (where the ranger and fighter might get within melee range of him), but shooting *one arrow* at the super-powerful wizard from 100′ below, thereby violating a parley-truce and inviting meteor swarmsto be dropped on your head is… what now?

    Really– I know Legolas has gotten cocky with his one-shot death of Gollum, and that in the books he somehow was able to drop foul magical flying steeds with one arow from a mile below, but as a D&D gamer he would have to fall to whole new levels of stupidity to try this move in this setting! Even on a 20 and a crit,one arrow just isn’t going to kill Saruman, and the subsequent rounds won’tbe pretty. (We know that Saruman doesn’t cast fireballs left and right, but our intrepid gamers don’t…)

    1. WJS says:

      He fireballs them in the extended cut. Of course, Gandalf counterspells, but screencaps could be taken…

      (I’ve not read this comic in ages, so I honestly don’t know if he does or not)

  68. badspock says:

    Heh. We made a GM CRY once, during a Rifts campaign.

    Ya see, Rifts allows you to make super-detailed, uber-powerful NPCs…and sometimes it would take our GM more than a week to finish out one of the big level-boss type enemies, no joke.

    Well, one session we actually acted like a team for a change, and took down the 20 ft tall super-cyborg in less than four rounds (roughly 40 seconds real-time, 1/2 an hour game time) AND screwed him so badly that he was only able to attack us in one of those rounds! Out of a party of like ten characters, there were something like 7 rolls of natural 20 amongst those rounds, ALL personally confirmed by the GM!

    Tears brimming in his eyes, the GM proceeded to THROW US OUT of his apartment (he relented last minute, but remained pissy all night!

  69. Alex says:

    Easily the funniest comic you’ve made.
    And it even had a message like the earlier ones.

    I don’t think there was a dry eye left in the house.

  70. That other guy says:

    Hehe, lawful stupid, my friends and I call chaotic evil chaotic stupid. Lawful good is lawful anal

  71. Peterus says:

    Temper tantrum one thing, but killing evil enemies on sight the other.
    I say that it was PERFECTLY in character too shoot Saruman. More to say it was very reasonable.

    He’s got to die. He’s spawn army of orcs and tried to wipe Rohan down.
    Now it’s a duty for any sane pro-alliance player to hunt him down (only totaly hippy drugged super-good pacysifst excluded).

    Yes, evil masterminds may make some nice speeches… but it’s sticking to pattern – not roleplaying to let them.
    In the end – in LOTR Saruman did lot’s of evil becouse party didn’t bother using some rope and Gandalf magic in finishing him off.

    1. WJS says:

      You think it’s reasonable and in character to murder enemies during negotiations? Play a lot of evil characters, do you?

      In this scene, Saruman is being called upon to surrender, but rather than wait for a response, Legolas just shoots him. Should the allies have simply shot the members of the Flensburg Cabinet rather than accept their surrender in 1945? This isn’t a modern thing, either. When Napoleon surrendered to the Bellerophon in 1815 he wasn’t shot outright (or at all, in fact), and while many kings in medieval times were killed, this was in battle. Those who surrendered were more likely to face life imprisonment than execution.

      In summary, be your game medieval or modern, killing a surrendering enemy is not acceptable.

  72. Peterus says:

    BTW it would be much more reasonable and in-character to let last ramaining orcs run without pursuit nor arrows, than (imprisoning/striping of power and letting go/crippling) mastermind.

  73. Isoyami says:

    @71 (Peterus): Good point, heh.

    OMG, I just had a brainwave. A very obvious one though, hehe. Given Leggylass’s penchant for shooting first and asking later (Saruman and Gollum) what if the Undead Green Ghost King is the DM’s getting revenge on Leggy?


    *The party wanders through the cave*

    *Ghosts appear around the party, the Green Ghost King steps forward and starts monologuing*

    Leggy: Oh, not another stupid NPC monologue. Screw This.”

    *Leggy arrows Green Ghost King through the forehead, GGK just stands there and laughs.*

    Leggy: “!?”

    DM: “Oh, I forgot to mention these guys are ghosts. They’re dead. So you can’t kill any of them with swords, arrows, or axes. MUA-HAHAHAHAHAHA-ha-ha *hack cough wheeze.*

    Gimli: “You’re cheating!”

    DM: “The elf started it.”


    Yea, kinda obvious. Heehee.

    Also, is it just me, or is the extended version of the Green Ghost cave a good place to quote Monty Python?

    *Aragorn steps forward*


    *Aragorn looks down*

    “Lookit the bones!!”


  74. Isoyami says:

    Uh-oh, I don’t know if that spoiled anything or not.

    Heh, whoops. Sorry man. :(

  75. Rane says:

    I’m really looking forward to see what the guys will do with the palantir when they eventually find it. XD

    I love this comic, by the way, especially imagining the movie actors’ voices speaking the lines…

  76. Cheesemaster says:

    Ah cool, OOTS was just the first place I read it (It’s knida hard to know about 80s jokes if you’re only 18 and got into D&D in ’03!). In the group I game with, OOTS has to be the second-most referenced thing in our games (after, of course, the ubiquitous Python) so my mind kinda made that connection.

  77. brassbaboon says:

    DM tantrums can be devastating. A long, long time ago, one of our campaigns was apparently boring the DM who decided he wanted to turn D&D into some sort of super-hero game instead. After a particularly successful battle against some demons we were examining the loot. My ranger picked up a blue gem from the pile and the following exchange ensued.

    DM: “The gem dissolves into your skin.”

    Ranger: “Yikes! Is it cursed?”

    DM: “No, I think you’ll like this.”

    Ranger: “Um…. So, what do I feel now?”

    DM: “Your skin turns blue.”

    Ranger: “I’m a blue-skinned Ranger?”

    DM: “Yes, and you feel funny, sort of like you could fly.”

    Ranger: “I’m a blue-skinned, flying ranger?”

    DM: “Well you haven’t tried to fly yet. Oh by the way, all your gear falls through you as your body turns immaterial.”

    Ranger: “What?! I’m a blue-skinned, flying ghost?!”

    DM: “What are you getting upset about? This is a good thing!”

    Ranger: “Good thing!? I can’t even hold my favorite sword? I’m blue-skinned, immaterial and get around by flying? I’m supposed to be happy about this?”

    DM: “Fine, you disappear entirely, all the effects of the blue gem are gone and you find yourself in the void.”

    Ranger: “Well, …. the void eh?… Um… Well, that sounds better than the alternative. Thanks!”

    DM: “We’re done for today!!”

  78. sexyskank says:

    for a few seconds.. he was the blue power ranger.

    and great strip shamus! totally awesome. Love it when Leggy says “Great, that means he’s flatfooted”

  79. tafka says:

    He rolled a one? He definitely needed to roll again to see if it was a critical fumble, and whether or not he took out a buddy or himself.

  80. Tola says:

    we know that Saruman doesn't cast fireballs left and right

    Tell that to Battle For Middle-Earth Saruman: it’s one of his better skills.

  81. orcbane says:

    Nice. The only thing that PCs can do that is better than killing stuff is setting stuff on fire. Gimli with an axe is great, but gimli with a bottle a alcohol and a lit torch is AWESOME!

  82. Salen says:

    No one liked Wormtongue anyways, so he got what was coming to him! I love Legolas’ Flat-Footed comment though. Hehe, he should have been a rogue.

  83. Scarlet Knight says:

    “You guys are in parley!
    Parley? Damn to the depths whatever man what thought of ‘Parley’.
    That would be the French.”

  84. Alex says:

    NPCs always wear red shirts though, don’t they?

  85. Jane says:

    Thankyou but are there any brothels in this tower!

  86. Medium Dave says:

    Can Gimli get one of the Ents to throw him up to the balcony? Then he can kill the mage and open the tower up for some real looting!

    So as a GM always have the damn unbroachable locations planned out anyway because well, players are shifty, transient and feckless creatures out for blood, glory, treasure and the salty drinks made from a broken GM’s tears.

    But I am not bitter.

  87. giant explosion says:

    Interesting, loved it!

    P.S. How old are you people? Shouldnt you be working?

  88. Roxysteve says:

    [Shamus] Yesterday, after a hard day rebuilding a bathroom, I took my wife to IHOP for a bite to eat, and during the meal thought back to the last episode. When I conjured up the frame of treebeard (and ran Gimli’s reaction) I cracked up, and for the next three hours or so the phrase “Hoom Hoom Welcome to Isengard” was the funniest thing in the universe, causing me to burst into laughter about every three and a half minutes while chanting it.

    Well, like I said, I was tired.

    The missus, always suspicious when I’m having a good time inside Mr Head demanded an explanation. Said explanation took abouty thirty minutes because I kept cracking up during it. When we finally got home she demanded to see this “daft cartoon”. Upon seeing it she admited she’d already come across it and read the first five or so. I showed her the “Hoom hoom” episode and she also cracked up. I left her reading the bits she’d missed.

    Thank you for the laugh. I may never be allowed back into IHOP but it was worth it.

    The timing in that issue was superb. well done that man.


  89. unatick says:

    OMG I was Leggilass! My characters tended to go and knock on doors while the rest of the players discussed the best stratigy for approching said doors. I only got the party killed 4 or 5 times by doing that (without getting a scratch myself) :)

  90. Seve says:

    Actually after hearing that interview my view of Shamus has diminished as he’s played what 3 years? Geezh makes me feel old dinosaur with soon 16 years of gaming under my belt(started when we were 10). Tho I have never played as gm as I find it most boring task on whole gaming experience. Sadly seems like I will be gm in few weeks even if for only short stint at start…

    And to comment about this strip there will most definately be no parley with evil wizard after we have grinded his evil plans to halt and slayed all his guards. Its time for final showdown with either wizards or our heads on top of pole(s) as endresult. Give no quater for evil ones!

  91. Toil3T says:

    Yeah, gotta love it when the PC’s interrupt the DM with their cries of what they rolled to hit and damage dealt. Another great strip!

  92. Cynder says:

    Well, at least Grima was a bad guy. No big loss :-/

  93. Filcha says:

    Lawful Stupid is the natural alignment of most Paladins I have met…

    1. Arkanabar says:

      Most people play paladins very, very poorly. I know of no better model for a gamer wanting to play a paladin than the one presented in Elizabeth Moon’s most excellent The Deed of Paksennarion. I played a paladin in a one-shot once, and he was AWESOME.

      Dwarfs are trying to retake their ancestral lands from the goblins who conquered them a couple of (goblin/human) generations ago. Goblins hire adventurers to help. Upon arriving, I attach a parley flag to my lance, cast Light upon it (“I won’t have them say they didn’t see it”), and rode out to negotiate. After a few verbal exchanges, dwarf sharpshooters opened fire on the parley. I grabbed the dwarf general by the beard, banged his head against the edge of my shield a couple times, wrapped his beard around my stirrup, and retreated at a run. After a several rounds of mass combat, I offered him back to the dwarves if they would quit the field and court martial both him and his sharpshooters. Otherwise, he’d get a drumhead court martial and a battlefield execution, and we’d ensure that they STILL lost the battle.

      My thinking? The goblins were defending themselves and their homes. They’d inherited the land. The conqueror goblins s were all dead of old age, long ago. Preserving life (yes, including goblin life, but also dwarf life) was more important than restoring old territorial claims, which leads to so much fruitless battle and death. And violating the laws of parley, truce, parole, and limited engagement — all of which are meant to make battle less lethal — requires direct, immediate action.

      Is it any wonder that my WEG SW GM once actually ASKED me to play the Jedi? (Especially since our Jedi was a hackenslash munchkin wannabe?)

  94. Actually, throwing a GM tantrum is great. If done strategically. See, if you pretend to care that they killed your throwaway evil overlord, they get more excitement. One commenter in The Rifter noted that being a GM is like negotiating with people when you already want to give them the things they want. You just need to pretend that you don’t. Then you give in, like the gruff but ultimately kindly and doting uncle. This lets you not give in on what ACTUALLY matters.

  95. dyrnwyn says:

    ha ha last to post!
    I love the expression on sarumans face in the second to last panel.

  96. Aragorn says:

    lol “ok now he’s dead. you murderer.”

    AWESOME!!! :P

  97. Shawn says:

    Ummm, Shamus, re: your comment about them being able to talk with Saruman on top of the tower and Gandalf at the bottom … they ARE high level wizards after all….

    What can I say, I am a jerk and had to point that out. Excellent comic though!

    (Although after two years of solid adulation for your comics, I expect you don’t read the comments on here anymore)

  98. WeaselButter says:

    Was I the *only* one who thought “Message for you, sir…” upon seeing the arrow sticking out of Grima’s chest??? Geez, you folks are slacking-off. ;)

  99. Maladjester says:

    This is why *important* NPCs are always multiclassed into Badass.

  100. ybbald says:

    There are now 99 comments. My server weeps for mercy.


    and this is one of the best ones yet

  101. Eldamir says:

    Great, that means he’s flat-footed! Loved that comment:) This is my first post, and I have to say, great comic:)

  102. Michael says:

    … how much does this (DMotR) plot differ from the movie at this point, and how much does it differ from the original books?


    Even looking at this one for maybe the fourth time, I still exploded in laughter enough to get the attention of my roommate. This comic does that to me a lot.

  104. Nami says:

    I fucking love Legolas in this, but I especially love that none of the other PC’s tried to stop him XD

  105. Nacata says:

    Tottally awsem!

  106. Taz says:

    *resurrects comment thread; yes, people still read this!*

    Am I the only one who read “Now he’s dead. You murderer.” in the voice of GLaDOS from Portal?

  107. Heisenberg says:

    I’ve been burned so many times before… but I couldn’t help adding this comment, to see if the message would change.

  108. AgProv says:

    and does the message change if you add another comment?

  109. Blastinburn says:

    I’m re-reading DM of the Rings and I just tried to listen to your Fear the Boot interview, but apparently they’ve changed their site structure (and domain) and the link you have is no longer valid.

    Your interview is here now:
    Figured you might want to update the link. (Or for anyone that wants to find the interview.) :)

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