DM of the Rings Remaster XXXV: A Dubious Victory

By Bay Posted Sunday Sep 3, 2023

Filed under: DM of the Rings Remaster 5 comments

The players are there to overcome challenges and earn rewards. If you are foolish enough to deny them the desired supply of challenges and rewards they will instead amuse themselves by frustrating the goals of your campaign and thwarting your emerging plot. In this way you can view loot and XP as the candy with which you bribe your wayward players into behaving themselves.

–  Shamus, Wednesday Nov 29, 2006

Meanwhile, our current table gets really bored if we don’t get to do enough role-play in a session. Combat is fine, but it can get pretty same-y. Give me interpersonal drama and let the combat be meaningful, like stabbing a guy who wronged a party member earlier. Loot is always good though.


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5 thoughts on “DM of the Rings Remaster XXXV: A Dubious Victory

  1. MrGuy says:

    Don’t worry, Boromir. You’re about to be the first member of the party to win a fight.

    Well, technically it will be more of a draw, but you’ll die with more XP than anyone in the party.

    1. Ronan says:

      I wish I could upvote this.

  2. Sleeping Dragon says:

    As most things in tabletop it is a balancing act and where the balance falls is heavilly dependent both on the system and on the party but I prefer it when combat is means to an end. Like, what’s the goal actually? Rescue the princess? Obtain an artifact? Make it to a goal? Combat may be one way to achieve that goal and if the players should choose it is their prerogative (and makes them feel better about it because it is their choice) but there may be sneaking, bargaining and various other ways.

    I think the overreliance on combat is something that annoys me with many cRPGs, especially near the endgame where it becomes a slog through a five layer dungeon that offers nothing but overcoming the same obstacle “bunch of enemies parked in your way that need to be killed” over and over again.

    Anyway, I think this shows the pathology of this particular table very well. Because the party is making progress, they’ve escaped the wraiths several times, even fought them off once. They travelled through the mountains and through Moria, escape is only a failure if it prevents you from progressing to the actual goal and through all of it they’ve managed to keep the Ring secure and are heading more or less in the right direction. The fact that the party frames it as a failure shows that the GM is doing something wrong, and to be fair we know that’s the case because we know the big point of the comic is to show them as bloviating and parading their favourite NPCs around without actual concern for player input.

    1. M says:

      The nice thing about using combat and “we killed it” as a measuring stick is that it’s pretty clear that they won (barring some scenarios where e.g. the ones you killed turned out to be mind-controlled hostages), and more to the point, it’s very difficult for the party to cheese their way into getting experience multiple times for e.g. provoking the balrog and running away successfully *again*.

      On the other hand, using “did it move things forward” works as well. Running away successfully *again* from the same foes in the same location doesn’t move anything forward.
      It is however more work for the GM, especially when the party comes up with an outrageous plan that blows up all your planning and “that will take care of the next 3 sessions” in an hour of play and “What now? I didn’t get this far.” is top of mind.

      On the gripping hand, at least the party is engaged enough to make that outrageous plan. “You gain a level! Now do your characters while I make something up.”

      On the (improbable? I’m running out of hands) hand, there’s the guy who has nothing but time on his hands, so every character is mapped out to 20th (or whatever the level cap is) before you start. I had one of those. I tended to give the character stuff that tempted a change in plans…

  3. Son of Valhalla says:

    “I guess anyone can be a winner if their definition of victory is flexible enough.”

    So, if I get to level 5 and beat Alduin, I’m a winner? Yay!

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