DM of the Rings XIII:
Let’s Not go There

  By Shamus   Oct 4, 2006   78 comments

Lord of the Rings, Monty Python, Holy Grail, Tim the Enchanter, Roger the Shrubber, Knights of Nee!

This is, of course, the most pervasive problem in D&D, and one which the rules have never addressed. The tension of many battles has been ruined by some smart-alec suggesting they use the Holy Hand Grenade. No fortress – no matter how impressive or dangerous – will ever seem foreboding after one of the players points out that, “It’s only a model”.

My own suggestion for the 4.0 edition rules: Anyone who quotes Holy Grail during a session should be made to eat their own character sheet.

2020201878 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.


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  1. Cineris says:

    I motion to require that all character sheets in D&D 4.0 be composed of pizza! Once the Holy Grail references get bad enough it’ll naturally transition into Meaning of Life…

  2. my god. 4th edition already? I remember when 2nd edition came out … I dropped big bucks on my new monster manual, DM guide and player guide. what are they changing now?

    maybe they are mandating that all player sheets br printed on small cards…

  3. In one group I DM’ed, I instituted a system called “revenge points”, which I borrowed from another DM I played with. Whenever anyone made a terrible pun they got a revenge point. When they reached 10 they got their very own special monster to fight.

    Of course, it had the exact opposite effect: the goal became to try to reach 9 revenge points and then to stop.

  4. I think the character sheets should be wafer-thin mints.

  5. David V.S. says:

    My wife and I use Amica insurance for automobile and home coverage. (Fidelity seems superior for Life insurance.) Our other types of insurance come through my wife’s employer.

    Yesterday I received a form letter from our credit union, offering us a supposedly good deal on “Accidental Death & Dismemberment insurance”, which for the rest of the letter was abbreviated as “AD&D insurance”.

    I think it was the ampersand that really made it funny.

    I could imagine a sign at the comic book shop: “Is your character starting a particularly dangerous adventure? Buy AD&D insurance. If your character dies, our team of exceedingly high-level adventurers will follow his or her footsteps and retrieve all of his or her items for use with your next character.”

  6. Oh, man. As a long-time DM, this one made me nearly wet my pants with laughter. Excellent job. The only problem is that sometimes *I* am the one who starts it.

    For a while, we used to use the song from the comic strip “SnarfQuest” that the bird sings about “Walking down the road… looking for a toad…” whenever the DM would say, “So you are walking down the road…”

    Sometimes you just gotta roll with it.

  7. Jim says:

    This just shattered my intentional (and necessary) self-deception that /our/ gaming group couldn’t be as dorky as everyone else’s.

    I’ll rationalize this by convincing myself that including more high-brow references continue to lend some superiority:

    “Sometimes a Polar Bear is just a Polar Bear”
    “Which sword is mine? It’s the one that says Bad Mo$^&&@”
    “Ice is nice”
    “These are not the elves you’re looking for”
    “Think it’ll work? It’d take a miracle”

    Oh never mind. I think that just made us dorkier.

  8. Don says:

    Oh god, I think i played in a group like that…..Right down to our fighter claiming the killing blow to him was “merely a flesh wound.”

  9. Antiquated Tory says:

    Many are the high tension plot lines of our last DM that dissolved into uncontrollable laughter, with him to blame as often as ourselves. The exception being the campaign we had of that D20 game set in a world after the Dark Lord has triumphed, where the characters spend most of their time trying to avoid getting killed by the new authorities and the rest of it trying to get something to eat. He loved it but it was too depressing for the rest of us.

  10. Ali says:

    HAHAH you made a mistake, though: it’s not cahadras. it’s caradhras.

  11. Bobniborg says:

    Ah, the off table humor… although it sometimes drags it can be great. We had one whole night devoted to crossing a river in a cave because of the comedic table talk. Greatest night of gaming ever even though not a sword was swung.

  12. SOMEGUY says:

    haha u guys are such nerds haaha

    im onley on here cos my loser brother keeps messin up my stumbleupon stuff

  13. Nicki-Joe says:

    Moo-ha,haa…smart-alec’s unite!

  14. Raiden Kitsune says:

    Wouldn’t work, at least for me. My brother is the one that always brings up the Monty Python quotes, and he -has- eaten character sheets before, just to annoy people.

    …he’s a bit strange, yeah.

  15. Sarah says:

    ok, so after this campaign, someone has to write Monty Python and the Holy Grail as a D&D! Then what, points for quoting non-Monty Python stuff?

  16. Ellie says:

    oh god…the group I play with is just like this. only the dm is often the one who starts the monty python quoting…

    there should definitely be a monty python d&d adventure! I’d play it!

  17. Dunamos says:

    If you do go back and redo these,

    “councels” should be “counsels” (first panel)
    “inherant” should be “inherent” (last panel)

  18. Cassandra says:

    My DM actually killed my character (and another character) with a Holy Hand Grenade. And I never quoted Monty Python once, so it wasn’t even some kind of divine justice. All because we tried to intimidate a collector of rare magical items, with a rotting pit-fiend head we’d taken to carrying around with us (for the purpose of intimidation)…

    Luckily, my in-game boyfriend is an epic-level druid (NPC, haha), and reincarnated us.

  19. Joel says:

    One of my spouse’s previous GMs had a very simple rule that we’ve taken to adopting, when it becomes too disruptive:

    “Monty Python quotes do damage to the sayer.”

    Granted, this is a bit harder to make useful in your *average* d20 campaign, or anywhere that healing items are a silver a dozen, but in the more ‘realistic’ settings (the ones where tension actually, well, matters), it can be fairly effective at discouraging excessive usage… without prohibiting it entirely, which rarely works anyway.

  20. Max says:

    I’m just posting to make this comic have a “Natural 20″.

    :)

  21. OMGWTFBBQ says:

    only 2d6?

  22. 2cosmic says:

    This had my laughing till I was crying because it is so true! We have had worse though when a friend and I started with tearing into the DM’s settings, about he reused his NPC’s in different costumes in the random encounters, and his inflatable trees and stage like backdrops. It all started because of a random encounter in which, (we were dwarves), we found “The axe of legends…” his words and it turned out to be a +1 axe. “This is the axe of legends???!”

  23. Mefanni says:

    I know of a DM who had a rule:
    -500 XP for every Monty Python quote.

  24. Arrk says:

    If my group had “revenge points,” not only would they try to accumulate the points, they would push harder to get XP for the special monster.

  25. Ancient Gamer says:

    After a beheading….the head says “Not a vital organ!”, in a sing-song voice of course.

    Ever gotten XP’s for making the DM laugh?

  26. Fat Kid says:

    One group I played with, the DM had a big white board on the wall. Whenever he would get the dry erase markers out to diagram on it the whole group would start singing “Picture pages picture pages, lots of fun with picture pages, time to get your crayons and your pencils.”

    We have always done the standard Monty Python and Star Wars and Princess Bride quotes, but this was the only one to quote some Fat Albert.

    White Wolf players are the worst though, always quoting Buffy or Firefly….

  27. Oboe Cop says:

    I disagree… quoting “Holy Grail” is mandatory and needs to happen, just like bringing munchies.

  28. geo says:

    As a Dm I positively encouraged the quoting of python, black adder, red dwarf (sorry US types if you dont know these UK tv progs). It kept the b*ggers from whyning about treasure, experience, plot holes, stupidity by other players, lousy dice luck, their own stupidity, more lousy dice luck and the fact that the dm was a evil, petty minded, bias against hobbits, total kn*t!
    Worked for me.

  29. Sewicked says:

    In our group, we _try_ to break the gm every once in awhile. In this circumstance, ‘breaking’ equals making the gm either laugh or cringe so hard that he or she has to stop to recover.

    My bf did it once when he told my pc, being chased by a wild boar in 7th Sea, to climb the cliff instead of trying to dodge the boar’s attack. The reason it broke the gm? He said the reason why he told my athletically challenged character to climb was that ‘everyone knows that white meat can’t jump.’

  30. Terri says:

    There’s and easy way out of the Monty Python cycle that my old DM did.

    Bonus XP for Monty Python quotes this week.

    Next week, announce bonus XP for quotes from something you actually don’t mind.

    Result: everyone stops quoting Monty Python and tries to shoehorn Gilbert and Sullivan into the game. Well, it amused us.

  31. dmplayerwannabegirl says:

    “NEE!”

    LOL that pic of aragorn makes him look like some old geezer or something! I feel like a loster right now cuz i dont get most of the ‘npc and dm” and that stuff… i’m a computer nerd wannabe. GO LORD OF THE RINGS!

  32. C.J. says:

    The last time we had Monty Python in a game was…the time we met the bridge people. There was a large group of inbread people living under a bridge we crossed, that lived on the fungus that grew under their bridge. Every time someone tried to cross the bridge, they would kill the men, make babies with the women, and take the equipment. They all talked like the Knights of Ni, and even quoted Monty Python a few times. The funny part was that our Palidin with average charisma bluffed them into thinking we were from another, fairly new, bridge, had lost our bridge liver’s union card, that our female member was our captive, and that we needed some of their armor and weapons to capture more people. That was a nice encounter.

  33. J says:

    Oh, Monty Python… truly, the bane and blessing of so many D&D campaigns.

    My personal best quote, though, has to come from an Iron Kingdoms game – The Longest Night, first adventure in the Witchfire Trilogy. We were discussing the sewers of Corvis, a city in the middle of a giant marsh. One of the other players asked how a city in a marsh could have sewers – wouldn’t they all flood? The DM was explaining how, over the years, the city was mainly built on ruins of itself – as each preceding city fell into ruin, a new one would be built.

    And I, of course, immediately had to jump in with “But the fourth city stayed up!”

  34. Biker says:

    Hey Shamus,
    Bloody hilarious!! I found your website mentioned in a Yahoo group and ran a google search for it. So far I’ve read your blog and then went onto the comic itself and laughed till I’ve had tears in my eyes.
    I have NEVER played an RPG in my life, nor have I read Lord of the Rings but I’ve seen the films (who hasn’t?) and enjoyed them all, but the humour in this comic is just superb! Top notch stuff.
    Looking forward to seeing what’s ahead of me. So many pages so little time left this morning.

    Anyway so far it’s just brilliant, and the injection of Monty Python dialogue in this page had me on the floor. Can someone actually injure themsleves laughing too much?

    Hope not.

    Biker

  35. Cynder says:

    WHY in Middle-Eart did I not expect to see some Monty Python quotes in here?! I LOVE that movie!! I saw the stage show (Spamalot) and oh my god…if it wasn’t as good as the movie, it was better! Anyways, if I see Borimir get shot with arrows and he says, “‘Tis merely a flesh wound!” I’m going to scream (with laughter, of course)…and may I say, Aragorn makes a perfect Knight of Ni!!
    Hopeing to see more Monty Python quotes – may they never die out! I think Eric Idle should be made King of Gondor/Rohan/Another Random Middle-Earth Place!! XD

  36. Pom Rania says:

    Our DM doesn’t have a problem with Monty Python quotes, but he DOES deal out random fire damage for each reference to Harry Potter.

  37. nitefly says:

    Basically put, if the GM is so poor at creating a unique and immersive setting that the players aren’t paying full attention on the world he is describing and letting them interact with, he is a poor GM.

    Always remember that a GM has the players he or she deserves.

    • Nekropancser says:

      Now, I cannot leave this comment alone. Yes, the GM have the players he/she deserve. Because a GM should cancel session, if the players cannot focus. They come to you to play, you put effort into describing the story, thinking about the possible complex lines of the story, and they make unnecessary jokes about your work. Still, they step out of their characters, or think as a ‘gamer’ and not as their chars… There were many players, whom I abandoned. Some were simply bad persons, and most of them were terminator-types. But I did quit playing with notorious attention-seekers, who killed gaming for all of us. No… the GM is a damned provider, who provide the session with a story, a feeling, and lots of NPC-s with differing psyches, and the GM MUST success in doing that. But that is hard work, and though most GM-s enjoy such hardships, if the players themselves do not contribute the session anything than their asses, then it is NOT THE GM’S FAULT that the game go bad. Well… mostly without contributions, a GM can lead a session, but if the players are working against him/her… Roleplaying Game is a cooperative one, even if the players are ought to outsmart the GM’s sometimes, or sometimes their own party members…

  38. Jenx says:

    The thing is, this isn’t only about the Holy Grail movie. Any mention of Monty Python or even a slight reference to any skit ends up ruining almost every conversation, at which there are at least 2 people who’ve watched MP’s sketches and movies. I suspect that’s the only bad thing about Monty Python there is though.

  39. Yoda says:

    Holy Grail specifically, or Python in general?

  40. d'Antarel says:

    I agree that the Monty Python quotes not only ruin the tension the DM tries to build in the game, but it also cheapens the genius of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. That’s why I keep my Monty Python quotes to the brilliant TV sketch-comedy show that existed before the movie. No one in my campaigns is ever able to figure out where I get my accents, or even where those bloody flightless sheep in the trees came from. Bonus points to the one who can quote that one!

  41. d'Antarel says:

    I only mainly quote Monty Python to describe the world, as I try to make it amusing and fantastical all at the same time. For instance, when there was nothing really going on and the heroes were travelling by a grove of trees, I had them make spot checks so they could see what were housed in the trees. If they rolled a total of anything less than 10, they didn’t care enough to look at the trees. Fortunately, for me, they all rolled above 15 so they all saw that a bunch of sheep were in the trees, nesting their young. They took the time to examine this phenomenon, and I proceeded to have a shepherd come around the grove and explain everything to them. How they’re very dim, and once they get an idea in their heads, there’s no shiftin’ it. I tell them to note their attempts to fly from tree to tree, and how they don’t so much fly as plummet.
    The icing on the cake was when the archer decided he wanted some lamb shank for dinner, so he shot one of the sheep trying to fly. He killed it in one shot, and the sheep plummeted for the last time. The party was able to retrieve that, and they managed to ignore the shepherd (because the barbarian knocked him out) but then the remaining sheep, by some fluke of nature (heh heh), became DIRE sheep. Braying with bloodthirsty anger, five of them leapt from the trees and assaulted the heroes. It was an easy encounter. They found three silver on the shepherd, they gained 25 XP each, and they walked away with enough meat to last them a few months. We were all pleased, and they were completely ignorant to the fact that the entire thing was a Monty Python reference.

  42. erik says:

    As a DM I give extra XP for players that can quote movies in context with the game if I recognize it.

  43. Akameji says:

    Hah. I hope this fades from my mind before I next watch the Lord of the Rings, or I’m going to be thinking “Nee!” when I see that scene…

    This is hilarious, and I’m loving the whole thing. :)

  44. cheesebunny says:

    oh dear, I AM the person who starts the monty python quotes off! its gotten to the point that DM just builds them into it. Im trying to find another quote farm to use, so far have XKCD, I SHALL NOT BE BEASTED!!! I SHALL BE VICTORIOUS!!! IM NOT GOING TO LOSE TO A GROUP OF LADS WHEN IVE HAD MORE GIRLS THAN ALL OF THEM PUT TOGETHER!!!

  45. Saoirse Young says:

    *is laughing too hard to type righfjtt*

    I liked mont python! Just don’t mention anything about a rabbit…

  46. James "Dairyllama" says:

    Reminds me of my friend who always plays dwarves. Except he always quotes Monty Python and LORT in every game. Strangely it’s always hillarious. His favourite is “Mountains, Gandalf!” with that silly voice he does. Then again, my gamers never take themselves, me, the campaign, life or anything seriously.

  47. wiilover432 says:

    i was wetting myself cause of the monty python quotes :D I love monty python aswell as lord of the rings! good job :D

  48. Jeffrey says:

    7th Sea in fact did put a system in place in the GMs guide for players that broke dramatic tension. Bad karma dice. Good stuff.

  49. Nickerbockers says:

    Hahaha! Im currently DMing a campaign (and yes, im female) and its awesome. Im guilty of quotes myself, but we aren’t being too serious for this campaign so its good… not a lot of monty python ones though, we usually stick to firefly, red vs blue, the guild, darths and droids, and various other obscure things. There’s been a few princess bride ones lately….. and the PCs don’t know it yet, but they are soon to come up against some rodents of unusual size hehe… mine is an evil laugh!

  50. ERROR says:

    You misspelled “literally.” Also, I think “utterly” would work better, but that’s just me.

    “Yeah, we have an idiom, too.”
    “Hiya!”
    “IdiOM. I said idiOM.”
    “It’s pronounced idiOT, Black Mage.”

    …Or something like that.

  51. StarMartyr says:

    I had a standing rule as DM that ANY Holy Grail utterances resulted in negative levels.

    I eventually had to up the ante by making it any Monty Python at all to keep them in line.

    SM

  52. Spit Fyre says:

    We are the knights who say NEE!

  53. Daimbert says:

    I use quotes from Star Wars and Order of the Stick at times, but they’re always perfectly in character. I’ve used “I have a bad feeling about this” before, and my best one was an OOTS one:

    We were camping in a cave and were ambushed. I misinterpreted that the bushes were trees, and since it was dark we couldn’t see our attackers. We’d also been fireballed. So I spun a story about my character — a dwarf — deciding to do something crazy and being reminded of a crazy dwarven cleric he knew, and charged blindly out of the cave screaming “Tha trees be attackin’. Run fer yer lives!”.

    I say that if a character can pull lines from anywhere and have it be in character, it should be allowed with no penalty [grin].

  54. Theresa says:

    OMG what genious created this???? Best website I have seen in a while!!!!

  55. darktalon says:

    If you think D&D DMs have it hard with Monty Python references, try running Pendragon sometime. The horror and pathos of the Wastelands encounters is somewhat diminished when some wag shouts “bring out your dead”.

    Also, it’s a shame we haven’t heard from poster #12 since 2007. After the stunning revelation that we’re nerds, I was expecting some insight into the habitual location in which mammals of the family Ursidae answer the call of nature.

  56. Leyomi the Parodier says:

    …And the DM himself falls into darkness.

    (laughter)

  57. ZedzDed says:

    Nice one with the Tim thing.

    Did anyone else get it?

    No one?

  58. Cee says:

    I just gotta add on the subject of in reference quotes… We’re not a serious group and I’ve been in it from the start. My character is a wizard.

    So sometime a year or so ago we had our first encounter with undead, shadows and the like. It was awful, men were falling apart and everyone was tired– but we had nearly defeated the unholy creature! And it was my turn next, I could do it!

    So I killed that terrible darkness with a magic missile. It was awesome. :D

  59. Misty says:

    Loved the Monty Python quotes. XD

  60. Im Sorry says:

    Its ”narrative” not ”narritive”.

    Im sorry.

    :)

  61. Aaron Horner says:

    wired…i just watched that movie.

  62. Patrick The Malcontent says:

    Reading through this again.

    Too funny. Seriously I’m tearing up.

  63. will says:

    now now, its not fair to say this is bad…

    it just depends on your group, thats the GOOD thing about flexible games like D&D, you can be as loose or tight with the system as you want… and as long as everyone is okay with it and doesn’t lose their cool, its fine to devolve into random quotes and trying to make one another laugh… take the comic for example, the end of this scene involves the DM getting into the quotes as well…next would probably be him quoting God and other players doing the knights of the round table song before finally the laughter dies down and they go “okay okay, where were we?”

  64. Steve says:

    If anyone is still reading this – and it’s cool enough that I’m sure they are – I recognise all the Monty Python references except “this isn’t your idiom”. I’m sure I just screwed the pronouns up in my Google search, but can anyone enlighten me as to where that’s from?

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