DM of the Rings IV:
Uphill Battle

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Sep 13, 2006

Filed under: DM of the Rings 47 comments

Lord of the Rings, D&D campaign, Midgewater swamps, Weathertop

I’ve mentioned before how I’ve had trouble with coaxing players to rest. You have to watch these guys: They will do everything they can to escape the finely crafted rails you’ve put them on.


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47 thoughts on “DM of the Rings IV:
Uphill Battle

  1. Evil Otto says:

    I think I’ve played in this campaign.

  2. Me too. Sounds very, very familiar.

    …Where’s our cleric? He stands watch the entire night, and we’ll carry him tomorrow.

    1. That’s a lol! There was not a single cleric in the party and the closest we can come to having a cleric in that campaign is Gandalf, and I’m not sure what kind of magic user he is!

    2. If there ever was a cleric in Middle Earth, his religion would be closest to a Norse god. If this was Narnia and not Middle Earth, however, the cleric’s god would follow Greek tradition as well as a little bit of Norse, which is funny because fantasy writers often confuse or combine Ancient Pagan cultures with the Medieval cultures that share their geographical locations, like confusing Muslim with Ancient Egyptian for example.

      The reason why I would say this is because Lord of the Rings was strictly inspired by Norse culture while Narnia was inspired by Greek culture as well as a little bit of Norse, such as Narina being frozen in long winter.

  3. (Ahem. You put this one in “Random Thoughts” instead of “Comics”.)

  4. Shamus says:

    Whoops. Fixed.


  5. Heather says:

    I love these. Too bad none of my friends get them. I guess most Christian, homeschooling moms don’t hang out Sunday nights watching their hubbies play D & D, let alone play along. Man, I miss my rogue, she was fun. :) Too bad Lord of the Rings doesn’t have a chick playing along. That threw them for a loop plenty of times. :)

  6. BeckoningChasm says:

    I must admit I’m finding these enjoyable, and rather addictive as well. If you keep this up, I may have to say there’s TWO worthwhile web comics.

  7. Wonderduck says:

    “Man, I miss my rogue, she was fun.

    Kids these days. Back in the old days, we didn’t have ‘rogues’, we had thieves. Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Cleric, Druid, Magic-User, Illusionist, Thief, Assassin, Monk and Bard. That’s it.

    …but we were PROUD! Where’s my walker? Get off my lawn!

  8. Mr. Duck, you’re too young. I learned FRPG’s with the original D&D, using the Greyhawk supplement, in the late 1970’s. I think that there were only six specialties: fighters, mages, thieves, clerics, illusionists, and paladins. The latter two were more recent; the original system had only the four.

  9. Bogan the Mighty says:

    Just in case you start to run out of material Shamus I think the best thing for all of us is for you to just come up with another campaign and let us just inspire your comic to greatness. Even though I’m sure we’ve probably given you more then enough material to work with for a very long time.

  10. Shamus says:

    Yeah, but now you ALSO have to get Eric and Dan to quit their jobs if we ever want to play again.

    Stupid society. Stupid jobs. Stupid grown-up responsibilities.

  11. Patrick says:

    How come the rogue hasn’t tried to rob anyone? Where’s his greed? Shouldn’t he have tried to shiv the bartender and rob him?

  12. Wonderduck says:

    ” I learned FRPG's with the original D&D, using the Greyhawk supplement, in the late 1970's.”

    Yes, true, but I learned from Gygax hizzown self. I think I was nine or ten at the time. Can I help it if he had already laid plans for the 1st Edition rules?

  13. Pete Zaitcev says:

    Hmm, this is actually pretty good. Also, I added 2 and 2 and discovered that Shamus was the guy who made The Lemon. Now I understand. BTW, this is the funniest thing I saw in whole week:

  14. Sara says:

    Heather, where do you live? I don’t home school, but the rest, yeah.

  15. Shamus says:

    Sara: Heather is my wife, and we both live near Pittsburgh. :) Here is her site, if you’re curious.

  16. JenRyu says:

    I play a halfling. In first Ed.

  17. Nicki-Joe says:

    LOL! Yes, I too have experienced specific levels of tired…
    Great job!

  18. Harlock says:

    Heh. You forgot a few classes, Mr. den Besten: back in the original boxed set days, halfling, dwarf, and elf were _classes,_ not races. There weren’t any half-elves or gnomes yet, either.

  19. Scott says:

    Actually, Harlock, you’re thinking of the BECMI D&D line (Basic Expert Companion Master Immortals, the boxed set names), which started in the early 80s after AD&D and had demihuman races as classes. The original version of D&D from the 70s had only three classes, the Fighting-Man, Magic-User, and Cleric. Others were added in three supplements (Greyhawk, Blackmoor, and Eldritch Wizardry).

  20. Mother Yadarra says:

    Goodness, all us Oldtimers have pamphlets of one variety or another…

    Now where’s that wandering damage???

  21. I think most of us have played in this game…
    Anyhow, those days are long gone – try KULT RPG.

  22. Torak says:

    Reminds me of a GM I once had for a Star Wars (WEG) campaign We were on an Imperial-held backwater planet (that wasn’t a desert! …much) and we had to hunt down some bandits or something… or visit the administration building, I can’t remember.

    Now, we were pretty bored, and the admin building didn’t look much more interesting, so we turned around and walked set off in the opposite direction, out towards the desert (…oh….) to bag us some bandits. But nary had we started walking before the following exchange took place:

    “You see a note falling from the sky.”

    “Is it in an envelope addressed to us and delivered by a red van with EIIR on the side?”


    “Sod it, then. Not for me.” (We’d played a few games with this guy.)

    “No, it is for you.”

    “How do you know?”

    “It just is, okay?”

    “Fine. I read the note.”

    “Finally. It says, ‘Note from God: go to the administration building.'”

    Then the desert mysteriously became inaccessible.

    I ran the next game.

  23. Tom says:

    I love you, man! lol this stuff stuff is just inspired!

  24. Tom says:

    thats right stuff stuff….don’t hassle…lol

  25. XtremelyOldOne says:

    RPGs that had four classes? You think THAT was old? By cracky, *I* played the very first RPG that had only TWO classes: Cops ‘n’ Robbers! (Or was that…Cowboys ‘n’ Indians..?) Dice, shmice! We had to use our fingers–our FINGERS! Not even paper and pencil for stats or anything! (grumble, mumble…something about “whippersnappers”..!)

  26. Jack Lamarr says:

    Every good player knows exactly what the DM wants them to do and exactly how to avoid doing it.

  27. Zafrina says:

    WHAT????? YOU DIDNT HAVE HALF ELF????? DANG. My character is like down the drain then.

  28. Wolfgunk says:

    Well I started to play the game after my group of friends picked up Chain Mail . Were there were just Hero Fighters and Mages .
    My world is still useing 1.5 D&D rules and Dates Back to 1975 when we started with Chain mail .

  29. Veklim says:

    I swear you must have been spying on my sessions dude!
    I’ve not laughed this hard at something in quite some time, and the best bit is I can share it with my fiancee, she too has been infected with the D&D virus!!!

  30. Veneficus says:

    I love the DM trying to get them up Weathertop. Reminds me of my DM days, you plan all this great content, but the party walks right by the door where all the good stuff was. “There’s a door to your left.” “Yeah, we saw that, we’re pressing forward.” “It’s a really cool door, very inviting.” “Forward we go.” “It’s the kind of door that probably would be made by somebody to keep adventurers away from something really GREAT.” “Uh, cool. So, we go forward…” “DANG! There’s a big rockslide blocking your path… Possible exits are backwards and this door on your left.”

  31. reddir says:

    “That is a very specific level of tired.”

    This is my second time reading DM of the Rings and that line still made me bust out laughing.

    Thanks for the funny :)

  32. Robin says:

    For the record, the original D&D had three character classes, Fighter, Magic-User and Cleric. I played it that way — once.

    The first supplement, Greyhawk, introduced Paladins and Thieves. Blackmoor introduced Monks and Assassins, and Eldritch Wizardry added Druids.

    Meanwhile, the magazine had articles about Rangers, Bards, and Illusionists. (No, not “The Dragon”, but its pre-cursor, “The Strategic Review”.)

    A separate track for Dwarven Fighters was introduced in The Dragon #3.

    What do they teach them in these schools?

  33. ImThisObiWanKid says:

    One: I love this!
    Two: I haven’t played D&D in forever it makes me sad… but my character was really lame I don’t even remember what name I was obsessed with at the time… Eliza? whatever. The only thing that was NOT lame was that I was half-elf. If I ever get to play again(please,please,PLEASE LET ME PLAY AGAIN,GOD!)I’m going full out. I’m being an elf and Imma have super high hit points, intelligence,charisma,… basically a female Legolas. Which, I might add, comes up in some later comics… nothing like a few gay jokes to spice up your campaign.

  34. Ebony says:

    man im glad this has been left up for years so i can read it…i have to show my friends this…shamus you’re brilliant.

  35. Bobby Archer says:

    I first read this comic more than a year ago and came back to it today so that I could link to it as an example of severe railroading, but I have to say, the line “That is a very specific level of tired,” still makes me laugh every time.

  36. Sir Robin the not quite as brave as Sir Lanceilot says:

    See, its at times like this when you know the DM’s railroading you into something

  37. Eilonthay says:

    Seven years later and this thing still has me rolling. XD It still rings so true that I recall many a misadventure during an RP session…our poor DMs didn’t know what they were getting into.

  38. Matt Tucker says:

    Some day I’m going to read the whole series again, but I check in on this one specific strip now and then because it is, hands down, my favorite of the lot.

    “That is a very specific level of tired.”

    1. When it comes to me writing fiction, I avoid Deus Ex Machima in almost every form. I like my stories to be about choice, consequence, and accountability.

  39. twobob says:

    “That’s a very specific level of tired”

    My tummy hurts from laughing.


  40. Sharnuo says:

    “This is a very specific level of [blank]” has entered into the common lexicon of me and my brothers because of this. Well played.

  41. Lizzie Roberts says:

    Lol, I have issues making my players rest too! In the last session, despite having fought a Fire elemental and a doppleganger they decided to carry on and the monk (who’s their version of a tank) was nearly killed by 2 Earth elementals. The only character who escaped unscathed was the ranger, who stood at the back shooting and kept running away from the Fire elemental.
    All because they didn’t want to have a rest, despite me telling them it was a good idea!

  42. 4ier says:

    There’s a pair of messed up character encodings in the comments.
    In Wonderduck’s second comment:

    Should be apostrophes.

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