DM of the Rings LIX:
Disorder of the Stick

By Shamus Posted Friday Feb 2, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 88 comments

Party must disarm in Edoras..

Everyone has walking sticks.

I don’t blame them for wanting to hold onto their walking sticks. Edoras has about the worst wheelchair / handicapped access I’ve ever seen. If you take a bad step at the entrance to the Golden Hall, you won’t stop rolling until you’re outside of the city.

Wheelchair deathtrap
Laying that aside, this is a great case of, “a small change to the script throws the whole conversation into the blender and hits liquify.” If you have a conversation which requires information to be revealed in a certain order, you can bet the players will – without even trying – turn the whole thing sideways and backwards. They will trick you into revealing the catch to doing a job before they’ve agreed to do it, or goad you into revealing a loophole in the local rules while they still have the opportunity to exploit it.

They are devious little buggers, for sure.


From The Archives:

88 thoughts on “DM of the Rings LIX:
Disorder of the Stick

  1. Steve says:

    Ha! First in! And me a member of the iniquitous Guild of Linearity!


  2. LongshotSNN says:

    Priceless look of “?!” on Gandalf’s face. I can imagine him and Celeborn both suffering for a temporary loss of words as the DM is agog at the players escaping his railroading.

    Once again……Priceless.

  3. Steve says:

    Oh, and the expressions in panels 4 and 9 are priceless. Well done Shamus!

  4. Myxx says:

    Who doesn’t carry a quiver of little walking sticks wherever they go? Confiscating those is just asking for a lawsuit.

  5. Eltanin says:

    Hit me on the funny bone -again- and hard. Sheesh.

    I love this website. Thanks for all the laughs, interesting reading, and general joy.

  6. Proteus says:

    “And a quiver of little walking sticks.”

    Got a good laugh from that one!

  7. mockware says:

    First post. I have to say good job on the screen captures of Gandalf’s face. To deliver a visual punchline with what you have to work with is very impressive.

  8. mom says:

    “aye we like them heavy and, uh sharp”
    “a quiver of little walking sticks”

    I think future DM’s will have to make rules disallowing quotes from
    DM of the Rings

  9. Rask says:

    I love the title of this comic! (The comic was excellent, as well.)

    Looking at Steve’s comment, I’m pleased to see that I wasn’t the only one who got it.

  10. Carl the Bold says:

    “I think future DM's will have to make rules disallowing quotes from
    DM of the Rings.”

    High praise, indeed. And not underservedly so.

  11. Mattingly says:

    Legolas’ walking stick has a string on it so he doesn’t forget to use it when he’s walking.

  12. xargon says:

    A quiver of little walking sticks, just in case someone casts reduce person.

    You have to hand it to the players for being clever and resourceful, though. I always appreciate that.

    One of my favorite comics in the series so far, Shamus!

  13. Stark says:

    Shamus, You owe me one keyboard…. I was drinking a nice hot cup of coffee as I read “uh, and sharp.” This resulted in the aforementioned coffee exiting my nose (well, not all of it – some went into my lungs instead) and depositing itslef all over my keyboard… which now refuses to behave. Luckily, being an IT puke, I have a spare (well, more like 10 or 15 spares).

    Best DMotR episode yet!

  14. Telas says:

    If you have a conversation which requires information to be revealed in a certain order, you can bet the players will – without even trying – turn the whole thing sideways and backwards. They will trick you into revealing the catch to doing a job before they've agreed to do it, or goad you into revealing a loophole in the local rules while they still have the opportunity to exploit it.

    Adventures are so much more orderly and organized without players.

    Or, “No plan survives intact, first contact with the enemy.”


  15. haashaastaak says:

    ow! ow! ow! Visualizing the wheelchair ride to Rohan really hurt. Gandalf’s face is probably the best or at least the most apt screen capture yet. I don’t quite understand why the guard didn’t just say “well you’re not getting in anyway.” But it was still really funny. And it is definitely true that people will be quoting D. M. of the rings in future games for years.

  16. Ishmael says:

    I honestly don’t know whether to feel sorrier for the DM or his players. :P

  17. Pete Zaitcev says:

    Apple (former Apple Computer) closed their sauna because it could not be made sufficiently accessible, about a month ago.

  18. Browncoat says:

    Stark – C’mon! You haven’t learned not to read DMotR while drinking hot beverages, operating heavy machinery, or performing certain surgeries? I can’t drink anything for at least 20 minutes after reading, because I never know when my mind will suddenly remind me of a line (that players will be quoting in D&D campaigns for generations to come):

    “Being invisible isn’t as useful as you’d think when fighting a blind creature underwater with your bare hands.”
    “Welcome Noble Champions. Here are some pointy sticks. Feel free to sleep on our dirt.”
    “Which is more work: making new boats or killing us and finishing the quest yourselves?”
    “Let us rescue our dear friends, whose names escape me at the moment.”

    Yesterday’s and today’s each had several it would be odious to list here. At least until another 10 episodes have gone by and I want to do more reminising…

    I love this strip.

  19. Antiquated Tory says:

    Mr Young, you have surpassed yourself. My wife (fernmonkey) and I are grinning like idiots here. The freeze frames of Gandalf in panels 3 and 4 are priceless in themselves, and then the conversation where the players derail the plot had me thinking “Yes, yes, this is exactly what a bunch of PCs would be saying. I’ve played with these guys!” Fernmonkey corrects me that we’ve been these guys.

  20. Steve says:

    Browncoat, you forgot the best one of the lot. “Keen Ranger senses”, as in “Your keen Ranger senses tell you your boots are on fire”.

    Loved it, pinched it, used it. “Keen Ranger senses” is to me what those MPFC quotes are to others: A razor-sharp role-playing weapon to be kept ever-ready for the perfect “kill” moment.


  21. Lil'German says:

    Wait a moment.
    Did the DM just let his bunch of bloodthirsty, loose(weapon)handed, loot-mad killing anti-Railroad Players enter the same hall where a foul wormtongue is about to show her presence soon?

    Oh Woe.
    The Death of Gollum will be a minor disturbance compared to the possible disaster they could wield here o.0

  22. greywulf says:

    Utterly brilliant! Again! :)

  23. Xander77 says:

    Wormtongue was a he? Huh.

    Or were we refering to a certain reversal of flirting?

  24. Xander77 says:

    *S*he. Fuck damnit…

  25. ChristianTheDane says:

    Aaw, i thought for sure Aragorn was gonna make a gay-crack about Legolass´ walking stick… :(

    Still fun tho´

  26. Mordaedil says:

    The change between 4-5 is so deep that it makes me speechless at it’s power. “Oh shit, what do I say now” moment.

  27. Best one yet! And loved the OOTS reference in the title.

  28. Rufus Polson says:

    No, really. A quiver of little walking sticks. See, I have these companions who are three foot tall, and . . .
    What do you mean, likely story? I’ve just run across half of bleeding Rohan chasing the little buggers!

    1. hopeless says:

      I was just thinking that!!!

  29. Ryan says:

    Browncoat said
    “I love this strip.”

    Yeah, that about sums it up.

  30. Marmot says:

    This one was AWESOME!!! You really made my day, keep up the good work.
    Quiver of little walking sticks…. ahahahaha

  31. Matt says:

    “*S*he. Fuck damnit…”

    Wait.. Wormtongue isn’t a he?
    well, it appears I have learned something today

  32. Matt says:

    Would edit if I could since I just posted a minute ago, but wikipedia says that Wormtongue is a he

    >>Grà­ma, called (the) Wormtongue, is a fictional character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. *He* appears in blah blah *He* is introduced in The Two Towers as blah blah *he* secretly fell in league with Saruman

    etc. etc.

  33. Fernmonkey says:

    I've just run across half of bleeding Rohan chasing the little buggers!

    If you just ran across half of bleeding Rohan, you obviously don’t need a stick, do you? Aha, gotcha! Come on, hand it over…

  34. Wonderduck says:

    “If you take a bad step at the entrance to the Golden Hall, you won't stop rolling until you're outside of the city.”

    Keyboard. Monitor. Three speakers. Seven rubber duckies.

    Do you have ANY idea how difficult it is to get Sprite(tm) off of rubber ducks???

  35. Yahzi says:

    Ya, kudos the awesome screen-caps.

    Amazing how you always find just the right pick.

    Well, except for Gandalf on a dragon. :D

  36. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    Kudos, my brother, Kudos.

  37. ravells says:

    Your best one to date, for me.


  38. Lil'German says:

    >> Wormtongue was a he? Huh.

    No, just a little grammar slip / germanism.
    When i was referring to a tongue i had in mind the german gender of the Word ZUNGE which is female so i referred to the Schlangenzunge as her ;)

  39. jay says:

    Just wanted to say I’m rally enjoying the comic so far and I’m looking forward to see what happens next.

  40. Rachel says:

    I’m amused that this entry showed up on my LJ Friends/comics RSS page almost directly next to the next posting of the OOtS.

  41. damien walder says:

    I love muttering “Wormtongue!” in a menacing Gandalf mimicry when I see the Doctor on “Deadwood”. Silly, but fun.

    My current fave character had just been kitted out with his supplies when the first scene of my DM’s scenario had me knocked unconscious, stripped of nearly everything and chucked in a dungeon guarded by hyooge spiders. Yeah, that’s not a nice memory, but you have to trust your DM the way you trust the sun to do it thing, you know. Character’s still alive, so why not roll that way?

    Sigh – if there were more sites like this, I’d never leave the computer alone. I’m-a keep readin’.

  42. Hastur says:

    GANDALF :This isn’t the walking stick you’re looking for…

    Outstanding entry!

  43. Turms says:

    Well, there would have been an easy way out of this… Gandalf still has Glamdring (that fancy sword), doesn’t he? The animated LotR aside, I don’t think it was destroyed against the Balrog. So, he could hand his elven-forged Sword of Serious Hurt to the guards, hence prompting the players to do the same. AND then hang on to his ‘walking stick’.

    Of course, it is much easier to think about these things when the players don’t expect you to respond in 10 seconds or less.

    As for the funny, the current version probably works better than having the players gripe about the Uber-NPC putting one over them, again. :)

  44. Steve says:

    [Turms] I believe you’ll find “that fancy sword” is in fact “that fancy walking stick“.

  45. zsteive says:

    ha ha this is the best one in a while. but they are truley a masterpeice

  46. Andi says:

    When I got to “metal walking stick” I started laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe!

  47. Lars says:

    The only thing missing in this nigh-perfect piece of guard-wrangling is Gandling snickering (in NPC voice of course) in the last panel. As I GM, I usually have my best laughs when the PCs manage to do some serious fast talk.

  48. Melfina the Blue says:

    Found this comic yesterday, and am reading through the archives. Just wanted to award you one internet cookie for this one. This is wonderful and I can’t stop laughing.

  49. NeedsToHeal says:

    I absolutely love the “quiver of little walking sticks”. This made me laugh so hard.

    I love your work, Shamus.

  50. MH says:

    I have *never* laughed as much at a Lord of the Rings joke.

    Although the pants jokes come close.

    My brother,
    my captain,

  51. Stoic says:

    Oh, man! I nearly stopped breathing I was laughing so hard. You are truly and evil, funny man. My sides hurt.

  52. Dragon says:

    What? No gag about LIX? hahaha more power to the warped in this world

  53. MooseUpNorth says:

    OMG, I can’t breathe, and my cow-orkers are all wondering what’s so funny.

  54. Wulfric says:

    You think that’s bad?? wait til they find out about Legolas’ third leg!!! I’m surprised he hasn’t whipped it out already just to prove to them he isn’t female!

  55. Mikey says:

    Just the best panel thus far. Classic player responses.

    The quiver of little walking sticks forced me to comment.

  56. Mo Squito says:

    The laughter from this one hurt me and made me cry :)

  57. unatick says:

    Dang, had me laughing so hard i almost got sick. That’s never happened before. Thanks!!!

  58. George says:

    I just read through the comments. This took me > 10 minutes. I’m still laughing. This strip should have a disclaimer about how it’s not for people with low lung capacity.

  59. JJR says:

    dwarven walking stick – chuckle
    metal walking stick – snort
    “with a quiver of little walking sticks” – oh, man, I LOST it there. And I agree, the screen capture of Gandalf’s face…great!

    I’ve also learned not to EVEN try reading these with any kind of beverage handy.

    Yeah, my party’s pulled this exact same kind of sh*t to avoid being disarmed by NPCs.

  60. Toil3T says:

    “And a quiver of little walking sticks.” Wow, I’m glad I put my drink dow. I have to remember that one. Our DM will try to piss us off when we see the lord in Brindol. Then again, I can cast some fun spells. In fact, none of us need weapons… well, there is our rogue, I guess.

  61. Ian A says:

    I was a way into reading this all for the first time when I sent the link to some friends, saying, “watch out, I’ve twice had to clean coffee off my monitor”.

    This strip I sent to them with the subject line: “And the third time”.

    “I’ve got a bad back” still cracks me up, and I can’t even see the picture as I post this.

  62. Aragorn says:

    LOL the quiver of little walkking sticks rocked!!! LOL :P

  63. Some random guy says:

    Ya, in panel 4-5, brilliant photos!
    Nice Order of the Stick reference too.

  64. Saoirse Young says:

    I just noticed your last name is young… but it’s fine, I’m sure there’s no relation ^_^

    Anyhow, I LAUGHED so hard at this one lol. “um, metal walking stick… and a quiver of little walkng sticks” ol who would fall for that, lol

  65. James "Dairyllama" says:

    Exploitation gets very bad. My players were getting too much influence in a city and were threatening to take control of the major rogue/thieves guild in teh city. So I threw a curved ball, and destroyed the city with green dragons.

  66. WarWolf says:

    “I've just run across half of bleeding Rohan chasing the little buggers!

    If you just ran across half of bleeding Rohan, you obviously don't need a stick, do you? Aha, gotcha! Come on, hand it over…”

    Your logic has a flaw. Now that he has run half of bleeding Rohan he’s going to need the stick just to stay up. And the little ones are reserved to when he falls on his knees or lower. So there. Oh, and the rest are reserved for their companions whose names escape them at the moment…okay, so they don’t remember them at all.

    Wonderduck: Yes, sprite one of the stickiest drinks in the world. Still (witout any ofence), I almost pass out of laughter every time I see the imagery in my head… aragomless/or someone else falling down the stairs right out of the city and wonderduck cleaning his duckies….khehehehehehgrmh…*thump*

    Shamus: I think I’ve read your comic four or five times and I still love it. And laugh. And love the comments.

    Pitty there aren’t any RP groups around where I live (to quote my self: the deep forests of Pohjanmaa, Finland). *sigh* Oh well, guess I’ll just have to settel with NWN and NWN2…

  67. ERROR says:

    I’d be funnier if the guard guy said MISS elf instead of MISTER elf. You should change it to that.

    Also, I’ve noticed that, in the movie, Gandalf pulled his walking stick excuse, and as soon as he did, he began holding his proposed “walking stick” horizontally and kept it that way for most of the meeting.
    Course, I haven’t watched that movie in a while, so I could be wrong…

  68. middle_earth_muggle says:

    Best one yet!!!!!
    “Quiver of little walking sticks. . . .
    . . . riiight.”

  69. Crazyeyes says:

    “dwarven walking stick – chuckle
    metal walking stick – snort
    “with a quiver of little walking sticks” – oh, man, I LOST it there.”

    Exactly my reaction. XD XD XD

  70. Leyomi the Parodier says:

    That’s the most I’ve laughed in ages, and this is my second time reading this thing.

    I was laughing at the comments, the bit about the rolling. It was absurdly funny.

  71. Tachi says:

    That made me laugh so hard and for so long that my abs hurt…

  72. Matthew says:

    so once when i was DM i built a portal to Hell in a corner of a dungeon some mid-level PCs were exploring. i never really expected them to do anything with it, and hadn’t fully worked out what i was going to do with it. well, they found it and, despite scanning with a gem of true seeing, proceeded onward. since i hadn’t prepped anything, i just had to wing it. and since i had just been playing Paranoia the day before, things went quickly downhill. rather than go with sulphur and brimstone and wailing demons, i made it out as a castle (with endless corridors) inhabited by tailed, horned humanoids who ran a truly miserable bureaucracy. and then the internal logic of the situation took over.
    the PC’s were asked to disarm , as is only civil, and amazingly they did (this panel reminded me of this!). they were treated to individual rooms for the night, again – as is only civil. and after a good night’s sleep they were taken individually from their locked rooms (this is when they finally got suspicious) to their interrogations and trials.
    so i got a rep as a sadistic DM; i don’t think i ever DM’d again. my friends still remind me of the occasion some 17 years later. on the other hand, one of my PC’s famous last words was to ask the hell-being interrogating him how old it was, and when it replied it was immortal, he asked it, “so what’s the first thing you can remember?”
    I think I’ll send this page to all the PC’s in that old party, with a reminder never to disarm nor split the party!

  73. Toaadam says:

    Wow! This is so funny!

  74. Rose says:

    Legolas’s last lines made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe.

  75. Brandon says:

    Just directed to the site by a friend. These are hilarious and this is definitely my favorite to this point. Great work!

  76. joesolo says:

    rolf “and a quiver of little walking sticks”

  77. Samantha says:

    Ireally enjoy reading webcomics, but I have to say yours is the funniest one Iv read in quite a while! Very funny and imaginative!

  78. Blas de Lezo says:

    Jaajajajaj! rofl!!! man, the last one with the “little walking sticks” was great!!

    I love this strip, you really should go for the next film. DM Willow, DM Conan, etc

    1. Nacata says:

      Yeah! that was superduper funny!

  79. Nacata says:

    That was so funny!

  80. Josiah says:

    “I used to be an adventurer until i took a little walking stick to the knee.”

  81. Dark Waffle says:

    “aye we like them heavy and, uh sharp”
    “a quiver of little walking sticks”


    “I think future DM's will have to make rules disallowing quotes from
    DM of the Rings”


    I think that is the most sincere accolade it is possible to give DMotR…
    Dead Bril’, Shamus!

  82. WriteBrainedJR says:

    This is not my first time reading the strip, but the line “and a quiver of little walking sticks” will never get old.

  83. says:

    Excellent Comic! Had fun while reading it!

  84. 4ier says:

    Messed up character encoding:
    should be ´

  85. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I remember the first time I read this strip. I binged this whole series in one night. I was in my old apartment on my bed, deep in depression, and i found this comic and I laughed so hard and so long, particularly at this walking stick joke (and later at the quantum lich of uncertainty joke). It gave me hope that I could still feel joy. Now the comic makes me smile. A joke never quite has the same punch twice no matter how long you wait between tellings.

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