DM of the Rings Remaster XXII: Are We There Yet?

By Bay Posted Sunday Jun 4, 2023

Filed under: DM of the Rings Remaster 13 comments

In defense of the players, I will say that when this sort of thing happens it is usually the result of the players getting restless or bored. If the players are distracted, it means it’s time to change something and recapture their interest. I’m still working on this particular skill myself.

–  Shamus, Friday Oct 27, 2006

Man, I’m so very aware I haven’t read this comic since I was 14. I think that the gay jokes stay pretty mild, but I read some of these over-braced for the worst. I know that my dad had a lot of growing to do when I came out in 2013, but I shudder to think what he might have thought in 2006, before some of the learning that made my coming out at least safe.

To be clear, by last year he was well on his way to being downright supportive, although he didn’t always know what to say. His favorite ‘gay joke’ by that point was that we both had excellent taste by liking women. “Boys are yucky.” he’d say, “I’m glad we agree.” he’d joke. I may have left out the bisexuality of it all, oops.


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13 thoughts on “DM of the Rings Remaster XXII: Are We There Yet?

  1. Eichengard says:

    I remember my first time reading these comics. It can’t have been much after the run ended, maybe a year or two at most. Even back then, I found the “pretending Legolass is a girl and making gay jokes about it” difficult to get past. While I haven’t reread it for years either, I’m pretty sure we’re past the worst of it at this stage. Once we hit the “party splitting” moment, I think it really hits its stride as satire rather than sophmoric humour.

    1. Joshua says:

      Most of it is just Aragorn’s being strangely sexually fascinated by too many different characters, including Haldir (who doesn’t exactly suggest “smoking temptress” no matter what Aragorn says) and the Ents, where he says the are less sexy than he hoped.

    2. SidheKnight says:

      Personally I thought the Legolas jokes were pretty on point. The Aragorn player (Frank?) sounds like the kind of immature teenage boy that thinks calling elves “gay” is the pìnnacle of comedy, and is obsessed with banging tavern wenches / prostitutes (and a king’s daughter).

      The comic is not making fun of gay people. It’s making fun of people who make fun of gay people, as the immature douches they are.

      EDIT: It’s also comforting to know that Aragorn/Frank seems to be the only one who finds his own jokes funny. The other players don’t seems to laugh along.

  2. evileeyore says:

    “I’m still working on this particular skill myself.”

    As always, I’m here to remind y’all, Dashiel Hammett has advice for these moments: “When the pacing starts to feel slow I just have a pair of thugs bust in with guns drawn.”* And now you too know the secret of the masters.

    * And yeah, I’m pretty sure that ain’t the exact quote, but I read that almost forty years ago in a magazine about article about Hammett and have never been able to find the quote since (or even one vaguely like it). So it was probably made up…

    1. Jc says:

      I think that quote is a mangling of a Chandler one (though to be fair, I’d only ever heard the mangled version myself). The history of the quote is explained here:

      I’ve never read Hammett, but loved The Big Sleep. Any Hammett books in particular you’d recommend?

      1. evileeyore says:

        AHA! Thank you! I never thought to check if it was a contemporary of Hammett’s that said it, what an oversight!

        As for stories, all of his actual novels are good: Red Harvest, The Dain Curse, The Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key, The Thin Man. His short stories suffer a bit in the beginning years because he wasn’t quite as polished and again in the later years as he was dying of tuberculosis and alcoholism (though he’d managed to quit drinking for a number years before lung cancer took him at the end). Personally I think his later stories have a ragged rawness to them that breathes it’s own desperate life into the stories, but others find them not as good. I also prefer his Sam Spade and Nick and Nora Charles short stories, as the Continental Op isn’t a ‘good guy’, which actually works well for the stories (especially Red Harvest†), but I like my noir detectives to have some redeeming code of honour, at least up to Sam Spade’s mark.

        If you’re a reader who is overly sensitive to protagonists who do not share our “modern sensibilities”, his Continental Op stories read more as truer to his own personal outlook, and Hammett was a womanizer and lout when it came to the ladies (and the Continental Op shares these poorer qualities to a degree). However his characters of Sam Spade and Nick Charles are more gentlemanly, and hold up better in today’s social climate.

        .† Which I’m sure you’ve seen as the movies Yojimbo (1961)‡, A Few Dollars More (1964), or The Last Man Standing (1996), though the novel is a quite a bit more involved.

        .‡ Akira Kurosawa claimed it was based on The Glass Key (1942), but neither the movie nor the book have that plot, they do however share the political corruption angle (but honestly that’s a theme of the noir genre as a whole, and Hammett’s stories in particular).

        1. Jc says:

          Thanks for the recommendations! I haven’t seen any adaptations, so everything will be fresh thankfully.

          I just need to remember to find this comment again the next time I’m in a book shop…

    2. M says:

      After following that link, I now think modifying the quote could still be good advice. Something like:

      “If your plot is flagging, have a man come through a door with a gun. Write the scene, then think about how to fit it with the rest of the story.”

      The idea is to get the plot moving again. You may not use the scene, but having written it may spark some idea of how to move beyond the impasse.

      For a game, rolling for initiative will galvanize the players (if it doesn’t, then kill the game – it’s dead).

      During the fight, you can be thinking of why the opponents are attacking, for the later (hopefully) inevitable player questions.

  3. MrGuy says:

    Personally, this is one of my least favorites of the original run, less for the content (problematic though hardly unrealistic) and more because it feels unnecessary.

    I think this series works best when it breaths in both worlds – moving through Tolkein’s world (which is one of the pillars that DnD was built on) while exposing us to the reality of how DnD is played around a real table. One my my favorite strips is in Helm’s Deep where someone (I think it’s Legolas) is about to off some orc as they debate obscure Attack of Opportunity rules, weapon ready and murder in his eyes demanding to know if he can off this guy or not. Or even last week’s strip, where an epic desperate battle was reduced to “Woo! Almost a 20!” calls.

    This strip is pretty much entirely in the real world. And while it’s spot on for the realism about how players faff about and don’t always take the game seriously, it misses any connection to the epic sweep of the Tolkein story, which is what elevates this series (to me) above being Yet Another Wacky Tabletop comic.

  4. Trevor says:

    Yeah, I feel like once the group coalesces around the Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli players the comic gets a lot sharper and Shamus really grows into his own as a humorist.

    The homophobic and misogynistic jokes still in the comic just go to show how far ttrpgs have come in the last two decades. I remember those tables in the late 90s, early 2000s (what the youths are now calling “the turn of the century”) that were full of gay jokes, and yet despite this often featured male players trying to sleep with female npcs through their male dm. That were unsafe or toxic for women and non-straight men. To see ttrpging turn from that (and the environment depicted in these comic strips) into the extremely welcoming and diverse space it is now has been one of the best surprises of the past few years.

  5. Despite your disagreements with the content, I admire your willingness to post it anyway (with your own commentary to add new context, of course). I think that’s a far better course than stealth-editing past content, a temptation that many big media conglomerates have been unable to resist. Kudos.

  6. Alberek says:

    It’s not gay if it’s an elf — Penny Arcade

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