DM of the Rings CIV:
Girl Trouble

By Shamus
on May 25, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings

Eowyn wants to come along.
Eowyn wants to come along.
Eowyn wants to come along.

A lot of tension in a story happens when the characters do something against the wishes of the audience. This isn’t really possible in the context of an RPG, because the characters ARE the audience.

It pretty much means you can’t create moments like the one where (in the books, mind you) Eowyn begs Aragorn to let her ride with him into battle, and he refuses because he has no right to accept. If you try, you’ll end up with nonsense like what you see above, because 90% of the players out there will simply let her join without a second thought. The other 10% will try to have sex with her first.

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  1. Lance with a Bee says:

    [sigh]

    58 H3adlin3 has a good point about spoilers. I have a great idea for the “dungeon”. but I won’t share it at his his request. Of course this means I can claim I thought of anything funny from the dungeon.

  2. Salen says:

    Forget the babe. If she’s not coming along, that just means more XP for everyone else in the party! I wonder how many XP you get for beating up a mountain full of ghost.

  3. Scarlet Knight says:

    “H3adlin3 Says:And although I know it ain’t gonna happen, I’ll still ask posters to refrain from guessing where Shamus is going next in the strip, you may be screwing up his plot lines, or worse, spoilling his jokes!”

    Possibly; yet it’s possible that after over a hundred comics Shamus missed one this week because he’s sitting home going, “C’mon folks, write something! Don’t any of you have a funny idea! Do I look like Phil Foglio to you?!”

    However, if Shamus prefers that we don’t throw out ideas, I’ll certainly listen. I ain’t that funny anyway…

  4. Doug Brown says:

    Re: 64

    Coincidentally, it was at about this stage in the movie that I began seriously trying to calculate how much XP Philippa Boyen got for killing the story. One of these days I’ll stat her out as an epic villain.

  5. Rhykker says:

    “The other 10% will try to have sex with her first.”

    I laughed aloud.

  6. orcbane says:

    I think this comic has finally allowed me some insight to women! They live like they’re the DM and a NPC all at the same time! That’s why they’re so messed up, bipolar, and none of us can ever guess what’s coming next!

    Brilliant!

  7. Noone says:

    “I think this comic has finally allowed me some insight to women! They live like they’re the DM and a NPC all at the same time! That’s why they’re so messed up, bipolar, and none of us can ever guess what’s coming next!”

    I’d like to see you test that theory.

  8. Bone Machine says:

    Awesome comic today! The screen cap of Aragorn with his eyes closed is too perfect!

  9. George says:

    best comic in 20 strips

    nice shot on panel 5 where aragorn has his eyes closed

    Lol she is like all women… too bad they are going into a dungeon without a rouge… wouldn’t surprise me if they happened to set off a few traps

  10. ZackTheSTGuy says:

    h3adlin3 said:”And although I know it ain’t gonna happen, I’ll still ask posters to refrain from guessing where Shamus is going next in the strip, you may be screwing up his plot lines, or worse, spoilling his jokes!”

    Seriously! We wouldn’t want to be accused of RAILROADING him, would we? ;)

  11. Kerry says:

    Now there’s irony.

  12. Scarlet Knight says:

    You mean “iron-horsery” don’t you?

  13. Alex says:

    Shamus, I love your site, and this comic. I have never gotten any hints of sexism from it or you, and I really appreciate that. I don’t consider this strip to be sexist at all.
    (I forgive you the “stupid crazy broad” comment because, first, it represents Aragorn’s views and not necessarily yours, and, second, the insanity and stupidity are not seen as caused by her femininity).

    Not all the commenters are even that bad—most are about the comment, and DnD, and LOTR, and related topics.

    But I have to say, there are some disturbingly sexist comments here and I cannot let them slide.

    Eight comments in, I actually said “what the hell?” at “Man, Eowyn was all too real. A bit creepy in fact. I’m sure her inherent female rationality will somehow lead her to the conclusion that Aragorn is to blame for whatever decision she made.”
    This wasn’t the worst, but it was the first, and it was bad enough to make me, as a feminist, recoil.
    (Please note that I NEVER curse, so you should translate “hell” into the F-word for the appropriate strength of my repulsion.)

    I find it deeply troubling that you believe that Eowyn’s conversation is somehow emblematic of an inherent irrationality and malice that exists in all women. I will say first, I am upset because no woman can possibly represent all women. Second, and this is the reason behind my first point, and also my most important point:

    Women are people.

    Technically, Eowyn is not having this somewhat-nonsensical conversation—the DM is. But let’s assume Eowyn is: she’s conflicted. She’s trying to get someone to help her sort out her conflict. But really, she’s already made up her mind, so she’s just looking for him to affirm that she has made the right choice; she’s seeking a bit of reassurance. PEOPLE do this all the time. Some of those people are women.

    Women are NOT “men without reason and accountability.”

    Women do NOT “make up their minds and still want to find some way to make a man suffer for what was by no means his fault.”

    Women are NOT “messed up and bipolar so none of us can ever guess what’s coming next.”

    Women CAN do these things sometimes, because PEOPLE do these things sometimes. People can be unreasonable, unwilling to take responsibility, stubborn, wishing to cause harm, messed up, bipolar, and unpredictable. However, no one is ever all of these things all the time, or even much of the time. And when they are, it is not because of their gender. It is because of their humanity.

    Women are people. Neither monsters nor angels. People. That’s all I’m saying.

    (NOTE: I am aware that I have reworded some of the quotes. I have done this to make them fit with my sentences. The sentiments behind them, and the lovely vocabulary choices, have not been changed.)

  14. General Ghoul says:

    9 Brian Says:
    “This is the 14 years of my marriage in a nutshell.”

    Man, after 4 years of marriage, my nuts are in a shell.

  15. Jane says:

    Good on you Alex!
    Sometimes I even admit that men are people!
    Not all are led around by Dic!

  16. Merrigold says:

    Thank you, Alex. Excellent points made.

    >>I find it deeply troubling that you believe that Eowyn’s conversation is somehow emblematic of an inherent irrationality and malice that exists in all women.

    _Not to mention_ that people are treating “her” comments as if they are representation of a “real” person/woman, when in fact, the whole point of the strip is to show that setting up a strict “script” between an NPC like Eowyn and a human player character is likely to lead to _dis_continuous interactions.

    Mind you, I suppose one could reflect that, to the extent that we humans “script” our own actions in advance, and expect other people to react in specific ways, we too can get broadsided by our expectations “-) Next time I end up in what seems like an irrational conversation I’ll have to try and remember that…

    For example, one could reframe Eowyn’s part of the script as an attempt to elicit some sort of recognition or respect, (“I am a shieldmaiden of Rohan. I can ride … and I do not fear…”) rather than a serious attempt to join the party. Of course, from Aragormless, as played so beautifully by Shamus, any such attempt would be a lost cause… and his “sure, whatever” response would totally mess up _her_ “script” for the conversation.

    Of course, were she a real person, or this an ideal feminist world ;-) I’d advise her to be more direct, and say something like, “Guess what, studmuffin, the King trusts me so much that he’s leaving me in charge! Remember that if you ever come back to town!”

    Grin.

  17. brassbaboon says:

    Heh, Alex just made my day. Nothing validates a stereotype more thoroughly than an overly dramatic and overly moralistic lecture when someone feels that stereotype has been abused.

    God forbid that some man should have issues because of his history with some woman, or some woman should have issues because of her history with some man.

    No, we all have to just get along, don’t we?

    Bwahahahahahahaha!!!!

  18. Spok says:

    I love the comic, but some of the comments do seem to support some unfortunate stereotypes– and not the ones they’re thinking of.

    Or, to put it more bluntly to some of the commentators: Eowyn is an NPC. What’s your excuse?

  19. Neotacha says:

    Thank you Alex.

    Funny strip. The commentary by the peanut gallery was a bit uncomfortable today.

  20. Kacky Snorgle says:

    Re: Alex’s “women are people” discussion….

    It’s true that “people” can behave in all those ways, but to say that and stop there misses a lot. If you were to wander through our society anthropologist-like and collect examples of real-life behavior similar to Eowyn’s in this comic, you’d find that the vast, overwhelming majority of those examples came from women. To ignore that fact, and simply state that such behavior sometimes happens, seems a bit silly.

    It’s certainly true that no woman can represent all women; but one woman can typify many women, and Eowyn’s doing that here. There are undoubtedly lots of women who never act like this, and some men who often do. But that doesn’t negate the fact that the behavior is much more typically female than male.

    Sure, any generalisation such as “women are irrational” is going to be literally false; but it can still serve as a convenient verbal shorthand for “the average woman is slightly less rational than the average man, even though there is considerable variation within each group on this point, to the extent that it is quite easy to find a particular woman who is much more rational than a particular man”. In most contexts, it’d probably be advisable to include at least some of those qualifiers when discussing the topic. But if I had to pick between the two statements “women are irrational” and “people are irrational”, without the option of longwinded elaboration…I’m sorry, but the former is much more useful than the latter, and is not excessively far wide of the mark, as absurdly broad generalisations go.

    That is, for the sake of brevity in communication I’m sometimes willing to assume that (a) it’s clear to everybody that the statement “women are irrational” is an absurdly broad generalisation, and therefore (b) everybody will understand that it can’t be meant literally and instead must mean something of more or less the above longwinded form. And I’m especially willing to make those assumptions when the context is a humorous one, where brevity is of great value (witness the post I’m typing now, which isn’t brief and isn’t funny at all. Bother, I’ve spoilt the mood, haven’t I?).

    I strongly suspect that many of the commenters here who are mentioning certain stereotypes of women in order to further Shamus’s joke likewise know that these stereotypes are not literally true. Whether that makes their comments any more or less appropriate, you can judge; my point is only that (contrary to Alex’s assertions) the stereotypes have some basis in fact–that’s why they’re stereotypes in the first place.

  21. Kristin says:

    Indeed. The first one, I thought, “OK, heh.” The second one, “Oh god, is this gonna turn into a girl-bashing fest comments section?” Third post: “Yep. Dammit.”

    brassbaboon, having issues is okay. Just keep them between you, the specific people you have issues with, and your therapist, okay?

  22. Matt P says:

    Nice posts Alex and Kristin. Pretty much what I was thinking. The first few jokes were kinda funny by themselves but I could tell it’d just snowball.
    I’m just surprised it took until comments were in the 70s for anyone to say it.
    And Kracky Snorgle, I’ve heard the “it’s ok to say things if it’s generally true” line too many times. You can’t claim to have such statistics on hand so you can’t make such a sweeping generalisation as “the majority of people who do this are women”. Secondly, even if it’s true I can’t remember a time when there were a concentration of remarks about Aragormless representing all men. Why not though? Clearly more men are blatantly sexual beasts than women.
    To make my point in a game-related way I’ll show everyone these two excellent Escapist articles that really helped me see my own faults in this area. I don’t know how to make links (if anyone can tell me that’d be much appreciated) so people’ll have to copy and paste.

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/96/15

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/88/16

  23. Matt P says:

    Oh. Apparently it automatically makes them links. Nice. Sry for the double post.

  24. Shamus says:

    In the hopes we can stop this before we suck any more funny out of this thread:

    Yes, the statement “women are irrational” is abrasive and untrue. I won’t comment on the motivations of the people who said them, but I react to this the same way I’d react to “Men are pigs.” Meh.

    It’s just not worth getting too upset about. Maybe the person who said this lives a life with difficult women. Maybe he was being outrageous for comedic effect. Maybe he was mocking the sexism in the strip. Alex countered, said what a lot of people were thinking, and now I think it’s a good place to let it drop. It can only go downhill from here.

  25. Poet says:

    It’s easier to walk downhill than up, Shamus. Everyone knows that.

    But, yeah, fantastic comic. I’ve tried to avoid periods of GM double-talk in moments like this by, before a player can comment, calling for knowledge: nobility checks with fairly low DC’s and passed along bits of advice like “Allowing the Princess to come along will NOT endure you to the King, who I should remind you is paying your bills.”
    It removes a minor amount of the tension from that very moment, but then you can continue to push with that NPC and pretty much depends on the players to react appropriately.

  26. Dave says:

    Damn.. Lance with a Bee scored the 65th post.. someday!

  27. Vegedus says:

    Aww, that panel where you can see the tears in her eyes just breaks my heart :'(

  28. Woosh says:

    Was anyone else greatly annoyed by this woman in the movie/book? I’m totally with aragoneoffacliffonce.

    Crazy broad.

  29. Tonko says:

    Hahahaha, I love the comic. You choice of images for the different panels is really always so perfect.

    Apparently I live in a box, because I was actually surprised by the “LOLZ, too right! Girlz is soooo crazy” comments. Somehow I didn’t expect that, which makes me stupid or naive I guess.

    Never mind, though, the comic amuses to no end. Reminds me of console RPG scenes where the canned NPC text makes no sense with what you’d actually want to do.

  30. Zippy Wonderdog says:

    In my last campaign out party took control of a castle that was in the no man’s land between the Uz and… the other guys.
    Well anyway being the party leader by dint of having a high charisma I’m called into the local governers presence and told that I have “responsiblities” to the people under my protection, basicly it wasn’t no man’s land anymore, it was my land I got a title and a wife( some space cadet noble we rescued in a previous adventure).
    I was like sweet someone to look after the castle while we are off adventuring.
    But no she had to come with us. She wasn’t really that useful either being a low level paladin >.

  31. orcbane says:

    Oh wow, looks like my comment raised some hairs. I’m sorry. It was a joke. I don’t think women are that bad, I was playing it up because of the comic. If I draw my insight into the opposite sex from a webcomic, I would be in serious relational trouble.

    I thought it was obvious that the statement was so overdone that it would obviously be seen as playful sarcasm, but I’m sorry to anyone that might have been offended by it.

  32. Alex says:

    You hit the nail right on the head, again.
    Thanks for making these comics.

    P.S
    You have at least one reader in Israel.

  33. wrg says:

    I figured that most were joking, orcbane, but one reason why I usually avoid making such jokes is that some will take them seriously and consider it validation for their prejudices. I’ve heard men complaining from women and, through an agent on the inside (female friend), women complaining about men; none of it seems reasonable.

    If you want to prove that something has a basis in fact, you need actual facts, not just your own say-so. This isn’t about “I’m right and you’re wrong”, since I’m about as wrong as anyone else, but that we’re all influenced by our biases. The problem with “real life” observations is that people have a tendency to notice the remarkable while paying little attention to the perhaps more common uninteresting events. We’ve got to watch out scrupulously for confirmation bias. Human memory really isn’t very good at unbiased analysis; it seeks patterns even to the point of finding some that aren’t really there.

    I honestly don’t know what “average women” are like and, since I only ever meet actual women rather than average women, I don’t think I particularly need to care. If, say, women had generally less aptitude for mathematics, that wouldn’t change the fact that my department has some rather talented female grad students. If they had generally more talent, it still wouldn’t much matter.

    But Eowyn? Stupid crazy broad.

  34. Kerry says:

    Albeit, a stupid crazy broad that slays the Witch-King of Angmar…

  35. Marstov says:

    “But Eowyn? Stupid crazy broad.”

    You haven’t read the books, have you? In the book, she is completely rational in almost everything she does. She’s raised in a culture that reveres warriors above all and she’s a competent fighter herself. Yet, because she’s female, her only option is to “stay home and keep the kettle hot for when the men get back”. Despite her frustration, she does every job asked of her and only abandons the homestead when it is safe for her to do so. She fights bravely and ends up helping to destroy one of the worst enemies of her people out there.

    Please explain to me what is “stupid” or “crazy” about that?

    On a different note, these comments really have me laughing. I found some old campaign notes from a superhero game I ran when I was 18 or 19 years old. My female NPCs had character traits like “extremely vain about her looks” or “very jealous of other women if they’re more attractive”. Clearly, my piercing insight into the female mind explains a great deal about why I had so much time available for RPGs back then.

  36. Scarlet Knight says:

    Alex, since my comment was mentioned, I feel I owe you a response; then I shall drop the subject as Shamus requests. My attempt was to fit a joke to Eowyn in the comic, not women in general, just as if I joked about Legolas being a Mountain Dew guzzling slacker not applying to all college students. I should have taken the time to be clearer, and I was afraid it would not come across the way I intended. I can see that it looked liked I was piling on.
    For those who are unfamiliar with the movie “As Good as it Gets”, the quote I used was uttered by a character who, shall we say, was not the best with people. I chose poorly.

  37. clodia says:

    @Alex.

    Word. Thank you for saying it better than I would have been able to.

  38. Dead Horse says:

    Q. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
    A. That’s not funny.

  39. Isoyami says:

    And with all this heated discussion about Eowyn, I still can’t tell what her eye color is. Grrr.

    Even in her *big puppy eyes* frame, where the lighting is pretty direct. But the expression is absolutely awesome. :D

  40. Scatty says:

    They’re totally blue. Blue-gray at best.

  41. Chauvanist says:

    103 Dead Horse Says: May 26th, 2007 at 10:42 pm
    Q. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
    A. That’s not funny.

    Q. How many chauvanists does it take to change a light bulb?
    A. None. Let her cook in the dark.

  42. Woerlan says:

    Players tend to follow two extremes:

    1) Let anyone willing join the party. Allies are always welcome.
    2) Anyone who wants to join the party without prompting is a DM plot device waiting to betray us all.

    Fun times, regardless.

    • nocata says:

      my group is of 6 players and a half-half composition, therefore we never decide in such scenarios without arguement. my side usually wins, cuz i convinced the boys to let me roll diplomacy on them. my characer (female 13 yr old elf wizard) has 19 diplomacy. Level 8 character, too.

  43. Tola says:

    Albeit, a stupid crazy broad that slays the Witch-King of Angmar…

    …That was a team effort by her and Merry. And if it wasn’t for Merry’s sword, neither would have survived. And lord knows what would have happened if the Witch-King had SURVIVED that…

  44. Tola says:

    …That last sentence doesn’t feel clear. I’ll elaborate.

    If the Witch-King had killed off Eowyn and Merry, I’m not sure how the battle would have gone.

    Yes, the Rangers/Army of the Dead(Depending on version) are there, but…the Witch-King IS the most powerful of Sauron’s servents, the destroyer of Arnor. Gandalf went to the gates specifically to battle him, in the books at least.

  45. Isoyami says:

    @Tola (#109)

    As I recall, Gandalf went to battle the Witch King both in the book, and in Jackson’s film, and got his pansy bard ass kicked in both versions. ;)

    As the Witch King says: “No man may harm me.” Or something like that. Hence, Eowyn, who is no man, kicks his ass. Ah, funny little hierarchy, isn’t it? :D

  46. Kerry says:

    Tola: Yes, of course I remember Merry. Just trying to make a joke
    Isoyami: You’ve got to remember, Merry isn’t a man either. Technically.

  47. Otters34 says:

    One of the things to remember about that is that Man The Lord of the Rings is used to mean ‘Human’.So no, Merry is not a Man.Oh and what was the Dungeon Masters’ goal in having that happen?

  48. phobos says:

    Worse yet, when that prophecy was made, it was to King Earnur of Gondor, who had just overthrown the kingdom of Angmar at the battle of Fornost, and was about to ride off in pursuit of the Witch-king. The prophecy in question was made by, er, Glorfindel of Rivendell, High Elf.

    In those circumstances, surely an Elf foretelling that no Man would slay the Witch-king sounds like an offer to go and do the job himself?

  49. Kerry says:

    If I were Earnur, I’d let ‘im go.

  50. Lord ZYRK says:

    Isn’t Gandalf a miar (or whatever it was), not a human?

  51. Otters34 says:

    Yeah, but why should Gandalf go to all the trouble of getting the Witch-King to stand still so he can get a shot in, and then be granted a broken arm and sword for his trouble?

  52. Goran says:

    simply… brilliant

  53. Tola says:

    As I recall, Gandalf went to battle the Witch King both in the book, and in Jackson’s film, and got his pansy bard ass kicked in both versions.

    Not so, as I recall.

    Gandalf is called away by Pippin sending word of Denethor setting ready to burn Faramir. It’s around this time that the Rohirrim show up. Gandalf wasn’t happy to leave, because….I think he said asomething like ‘others’ will suffer because of this’.

    Soon after that, Theoden is dead.

  54. TheSilverSage says:

    “As I recall, Gandalf went to battle the Witch King both in the book, and in Jackson’s film, and got his pansy bard ass kicked in both versions.”

    The battle was a tie in the books, if I’m not mistaken: Gandalf was a Maya (a Middle-Earth deity), the Witch King couldn’t be killed.

    As far as the comic goes (first-time commenter, long-time reader here), it was as brilliant as any of the best strips you had to offer us, Shamus.

    Shame about the extremism from both sides on the “battle of the sexes”, though – will no one give it a rest? Ever? Different chromosomes, different genetic make-up, different individuals to begin with; equal rights, equal needs and equal possibility for deviant and/or problematic behaviour.

    Still, fantastic webcomic – do keep it up!

    • WJS says:

      The problem is that it’s not equal probability for various social dysfunctions. Men are more susceptible to some, women to others. God forbid you point this out though.

  55. Isoyami says:

    Yes, I know Merry is a halfing and isn’t a man as such. But he is male.

    I think. I hope. ;)

    Anyway, I think the whole: “no man may harm me” bit by the Witch King was about no *MALE* person being able to hurt him. So good old Leggy-lass would have been able to do the job too. ;)

    Thank you, thank you, I’m here till Thursday. :D

    Oh, and love the new notation on the dice counter. Hee.

  56. Tom says:

    Couldn’t relate to this one more … vacillating woman, kids and clients … step forward already … great comic

  57. yo go re says:

    In my game, I’ve never met an NPC I didn’t try to recruit into doing my dirty work for me. Once, famously, I badgered what must have been a Level 0 Librarian into coming along with us on a haunted house mission. The DM went so far as to dress the poor guy in a red shirt. We took to calling him our “heal sink,” since he nearly died three times in one battle with one skeleton.

    Really, all I wanted from him was more money to buy supplies.

    Anyway, forget the 90% who distrust the NPCs and the 10% who want to bed them – what about those of us who actively campaign for them to come along?

  58. Jandurin says:

    First time posting. Hilarious.
    “Stupid Crazy Broad” got an honest to goodness out loud laugh.

    *high five*

  59. xtehbeastx says:

    there is another .01%. his name is shanan. he is a member of my group. the man IS a paladin. like in real life. he is the one who would refuse to let her go because it would be too dangerous or he had no right to say she could. he can kind of get annoying but we usually can get back at him by running an evil champaign. it’s fun to watch him squirm.:)

  60. Patrick says:

    Know what that feels like, it’s hard to run a campaign set in the middle ages when everyone acts like a total liberal

  61. Becks says:

    I’m impressed Aragorn has already forgotten the possibly nasty disease she gave him last time. Or does he already know she’s clean?

    Then again, we already know she’ll sleep with strangers, how does he know she hasn’t gotten diseased since?

    He so shoulda followed the storyline after all *weg*

  62. Cynder says:

    WTF Eowyn??? Can’t make up her bloody mind XD

    And it’s almost like he forgot all about the little incident before the Helms Deep scene. I’ve said it time and time again, but – CLEVER. Very, very clever ;)

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