DM of the Rings VIII:
A Tearful Reunion

By Shamus
on Sep 22, 2006
Filed under:
DM of the Rings

Lord of the Rings, Uncle Bilbo, Player Apathy, Rivendell

Yes, black dragons are powerful. So are level-20 fireballs, demi-gods, and huge mythic beasts. But there is no force in the game as powerful as the combined selfishness and apathy of your players.

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201838 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. BeckoningChasm says:

    I’m laughing too hard to leave a coherent comment, but that’s never stopped me before.

  2. Bogan the Mighty says:

    OH oh and you forgot about being asked how much exp was earned during the trip!

  3. Cineris says:

    “Don’t we level up yet? I think nine immortal undead things must be like CR 100.”

    Heh. So true, so great.

  4. Off topic: Here’s some rant bait for Shamus. Prepare to get irate.

  5. The elves in LOTR always struck me as an effete lot. From the dictionary:

    1. decadent, overrefined.
    2. Weak
    3. barren

    If they’re so wonderful, why wasn’t that place crawling with children? It reminds me of one of Parkinson’s laws, where he observed that any organization that actually fit perfectly into its headquarters building was an organization which was dying.

  6. Alex says:

    The elves had to give way to the age of men. That’s why they went into the West.

    • Chaos Havik says:

      Uggghh I hate that part. Maybe you can eplain it to me. I never got an answer not even from someone that’s read the book but.. what the hell is this Age of Man shit? It’s never explained in the moive, if it is it’s so forgetable that I have no recolaction of it. They never explain why the elves leave and why they simply can’t just live ni the forests. Legolas himself lived very near to Aragon till the time of the King’s death before hopping on the boat to..Middle-America?. Maybe the Movies should have sacrifices some of there 92 endings and just explained things

      Lastly… Anyone else here wish they had done the Scourge of the Shine battle?

  7. Cineris says:

    Although I’m probably misremembering the Silmarillion, I always got the impression that the number of Elves incarnated at any one particular time was explicitly limited by the number of Elven souls, leading to an inherently stable population (but declining numbers in Middle Earth, due to departures for Valinor).

    The alternative explanation is that the number of Elves is strictly predetermined by the music of the Ainur. I never understood exactly how it could be that beings whose fates are explicitly predetermined (Elves, Valar, Maiar) could interact with beings whose fates were not (Humans), though. It strikes me that upon first contact with the Humans any Elf’s fate would have to be altered. I suppose it could be more that Elves are all bound by an eventual “racial destiny” rather than strict individual predetermination, though.

  8. haashaastaak says:

    besides, maybe they have great sex and don’t need children. Having lots of children certainly doesn’t make you happier, especially if you’re immortal and don’t age. Imagine having 650 great great-great-grandchildren dropped off at your house Saturday evening.

    • fantasywind says:

      Oh yes according to other Tolkien writings the elves enjoy sex very much (,,the union of love is indeed great delight and joy for them”) and they very much love their children so try to have one at a time to pay enough time for raising them and then can have another. Also the children don’t need that much governing and teaching cause they’re smart and learn quickly, before their first year they can speak, walk and dance and are very happy, delighted in discovering the world (an elf reaches adulthood at about 50 years and some still continue to grow to about 100 similar how human can be considered adult at age 18 and still physically develop to about 25 or so). The number of children was never that great, Feanor seven sons are exceptional as upper limit, the average number was four at one family (and still there were thosuands of elves, tens of thousands in single realm, if not more, but specifically we were given numbers for armies which are only smaller part of overal population adn there were many elven realms to begin with).
      On the other note the eternal search for stores for shopping is funny but there are many of those in Middle Earth :), in the Shire we have many small businesses and trades, workshops, forges, werehouses, then we have many dwarven merchants travelling here and there, in Rivendell there might be some services for travellers we know that elven valley had many visitors so might have served as resupply outpost :) you know it’s after all the Last Homely House at the Edge of the Wilderland :):):). Elrond kept some wealth in his halls hehe.

  9. DoomLad says:

    …just to let you know, I’ll be checking our gaming room in Bill’s basement for listening devices…
    Top-Notch stuff! Best LOTR laughs since ‘Bored of the Rings’

  10. Captain Drew says:

    Pssst, third panel: should be “wizened” not “wizzened” … unless he was, like, peeing or something….

  11. Nicki-Joe says:

    That’s sooo hilarious!

  12. Jeff says:

    Ya know, a level 20 fireball is exactly as powerful as a level 10 fireball.
    *innocent whistle*

  13. FC says:

    Unless it’s a delayed blast fireball, or a fireball that results from an innate power from a monster or artifact…

  14. Dagrim says:

    Wow… it has been too long since I played AD&D. But, back in 1st edition, which is what I played, a level 20 fireball was approximately twice as powerful as a level 10. (20d6 vs 10d6 of damage).

    I guess I must just be an old gamer.

  15. Max says:

    I love how distant Bilbo looks in the seventh panel. It looks like they just shouted the thanks towards him while running past him looking for swords and whores.

  16. Eryn says:

    While you have a limit of 10d6 for a fireball, the range does increase past level 10, thus making it, potentially, more powerful as it gains further levels. What if there’s something highly combustible surrounding your foes, but they are more than 404 ft away (that being the range for a level 10)? The higher level fireball might be able to get the job done, and keep all the players from having to get too close to the blast, while eliminating, (or, at least, most likely causing harm to) multiple foes with a single action! n.n; … Love the comic! I know the feeling of players not taking to your NPCs like you’re expecting. I run a Forgotten Realms campaign, and I had a student of Blackstaff Tower rescue my players from slavery at the hands of ‘Old Hulfast’ in Waterdeep’s Dockward… they ignored her, insulted her, badgered her, did multiple spot and knowledge checks on her jewelry, and seduced her male underling. XD Players seem to have all kinds of surprises for us, even if we expect it to be the other way around. (p.s. Sorry for babbling so much… n.n;)

    • Veklim says:

      you’re forgetting also the inherent benefit of meta-magic feats like empower and maximise which are only doable at higher level spell slots. I’d also like to point out that if there’s a highly combustible substance 404 ft away from a lvl10 fireball it will still hit it on account of the radius of the spell.
      I like to spod :P

  17. Sometimes you have to woneder, how do the npc’s feel when they are treated like so much crap?

  18. K says:

    Reminds me of the newbie who shoots a fireball to destroy a cave full of orcs…

  19. ERROR says:

    I have a new name for the Hobbits: Corn-on-the-Cobbits! It’s longish, I know, but I think it’s funny.
    Or maybe Slobbit.

    Gandork the Grey!

    All hail Aracorn!

  20. Aragorn says:

    “Yes, black dragons are powerful. So are level-20 fireballs, demi-gods, and huge mythic beasts. But there is no force in the game as powerful as the combined selfishness and apathy of your players.” LOL MY SECOND FAVE SAYING!!!! :D :) =) :’)

  21. Elvenblade says:

    Great comic.
    But a 20th level fireball is no more powerful than a 10th level fireball.

  22. Danny-L says:

    I’ve nevered played a D&D game, (I want to though.) but these comics still make me laugh.

  23. Sifl and Olly had a great character, “Uncle Bilbo”. Conversations with him went rather like the one in this comic…

  24. Misty says:

    Never played a D&D game — well, not that I remember of.. XD

    The comics are hilarious anywho! XD XD XD

  25. J.W. says:

    “Yes, black dragons are powerful. So are level-20 fireballs, demi-gods, and huge mythic beasts. But there is no force in the game as powerful as the combined selfishness and apathy of your players.”

    …Yet when you try and fix what bothers them, they declare how you’re “deviating from tradition”. I suppose they’re fans of spinning wheels, doing nothing but arguing and second-guessing the DM whenever they feel it necessary?

    Casting pearls before swine, clearly.

  26. What says:

    he hasn’t seen Bilbo in 10 years?

    i thought he only left the shire like just a few weeks while ago, and only a few days after Biblo disappeared from his birthday party.

    • Alasseo says:

      Only in the movie. In the book, Bilbo left right after his Eleventy-first Birthday Party (which doubled as Frodo’s 33rd, hence the 144 special guests who heard Bilbo’s speech).
      So far, same as the movie, but in the book, the Ring sits on Frodo’s mantelpiece until Gandalf does his whole “Is it secret? Is it safe?” bit when Frodo is 50-something. And, of course, in the book, Merry, Pippin and Fatty Bolger (not in the film) were in on it and helped Frodo and Sam pack. Fatty never left the Shire, having stayed to cover their absence, but the others did, and wound up meeting Bombadil, etc.

      • WJS says:

        It isn’t clear in the film how long passes. I mean, it was long enough for Gandalf to ride all the way to Gondor and back at the very least. Still, you never get given the impression that that long had passed.

  27. Heather says:

    Enjoying all of this thoroughly! The hub and I ran I.C.E. Middle Earth campaigns while we were dating, and still do, occasionally–can’t wait to have him read this.

  28. ImThisObiWanKid says:

    oh God. another perfect strip. aaah i love this. i dont know why, but the whole “Great. So, is there anyplace I can buy a horse” just made me crack up for like a minute and a half. mostly because
    a.) in the book they’re only like 3’8″ and can’t ride even ride a horse
    b.) its just so out of character its funny.

  29. Who wants J R R Tolkien to publish a D&D campaign book for Peter Jackson to use as DM?

  30. Chaos Havik says:

    To be Fair this DM is just as bad as the Players. I’ve never seen a DM this adimit you can’t visit a shop before. And Horses, those are expensive, a perfect excuse for sidequests and lore building galore and he’s so obsessed with his plot rails he’s passing every chance by. I mean Yesh I’m in a 5e game right now. We all see the Plot rails and know what needs done but we have alot we can do on those rails. I know this guy isn’t real but this is just the worst DM I’ve ever seen

  31. Sharnuo says:

    “Hey uncle Bilbo… Thanks for that ring.” Lost it.

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