DM of the Rings LXV:
Gross Misallocation of Resources

By Shamus
on Feb 19, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings

Thoden is terrible at strategy. Get paid in advance.

Thoden is terrible at strategy. Get paid in advance.

While often nothing the players do makes any sense at all within the contex of the gameworld, you can be sure they will fixate on any and all flaws in the thinking on the part of NPCs.

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  1. Phlux says:

    That horsef—er joke just never gets old.

  2. Clyde says:

    Those are some pretty cool-looking bracers that ol’ Legolas is sporting. What kind of enchantment do you figure they have on them?

  3. hayball says:

    Ooo. I hear you, Shamus.

  4. ChristianTheDane says:

    “Those are some pretty cool-looking bracers that ol’ Legolas is sporting. What kind of enchantment do you figure they have on them?”

    Rainbow Bracers – +2 Dexterity and +1 Rainbow Power

  5. Vinchenze says:

    No the bracers are +3 Dex -10 Wis -10 Int +2 Str. Why he wears them though that’s the real question.

    • SirR4T says:

      Obviously, he can’t take them off because he’s now too dumb to realize he shouldn’t have put it on.

      But why did he put them on in the first place, now that’s the real question.

  6. gedece says:

    True words, I always say Gamemasters should look for the cat’s sixth leg, because the fifth is always found by the players.

  7. Deep Thought says:

    ‘Paid in advance’ – darn it, my *players* read this, too!

  8. Woerlan says:

    This is what happens when you let NPCs make decisions for players. Munchkins never accept them. DMs should let guys like that go ahead and fight the wizard in the tower and get annihilated in the process. It’s more fun that way. Then everyone can play Star Wars. ^_^

    Then the munchkins can play astromech droids.

    With mounted turbolasers.

  9. Jurubin says:

    “..they will fixate on any and all flaws in the thinking on the part of NPCs.”

    Like you said before, Shamus, they become freakin’ Sun Tzu.

  10. xargon says:

    Makes you wonder what kind of specialist wizard Gandalf is. Maybe he worked around the rules and chose divination as a prohibited school.

  11. Robert says:

    He’s a Celestial Outsider; most of his magic is inherent spell-like powers.

  12. Mrs T says:

    Bracers of Clarity, giving Legolas the power to point out the bleeding obvious every time he opens his mouth.

  13. Gropos says:

    I can’t watch this trilogy now without thinking about these clowns.

  14. Woerlan says:

    “Makes you wonder what kind of specialist wizard Gandalf is. Maybe he worked around the rules and chose divination as a prohibited school.”

    A Wizard in Middle Earth isn’t an occupation. It’s a RACE. And magic works differently in Middle Earth than in regular D&D worlds.

    Think of Gandalf as an emissary of the gods.

  15. Elethiomel says:

    Sisko is a much better Emissary.

  16. ShadoStahker says:

    Bah.

    Everyone knows that Gandalf isn’t a Wizard. He’s a Bard.

    Think about it.

    Have you ever seen him cast a non-enchantment spell? Or a high-level spell in general?

    How about his leadership capabilities?

    His ability to know every freaking detail possible?

    Honestly, the best way to represent Gandalf in D&D is a Bard.

    • WJS says:

      I’ve heard a strong argument that he would be best depicted as a druid. It’s more obvious with Radagast, of course, but Gandalf certainly has his way with the animals and plants.

      …Wait, that came out wrong…

  17. Liritar says:

    *Laughs* Yeah, the “Eomer as a ‘horsemasexual'” jokes never get old in my group, either. And I’m talking as a major Eomer fan, btw.

  18. Thomas says:

    The horsef***er joke and the Legolas is a girl joke, neither of them ever get old. What’s happening with Dave and the guys playing Star Wars.

  19. ShadoStahker says:

    Oh, and he also has no spellbook, making him a Sorc of Bard.

    And Diplomacy is obviously a class skill.

  20. Joshua says:

    Yep, by these rules he’s a bard. He has talents with weapons although doesn’t like armor, his “magic” mostly involves lore, breaking enchantments and influencing people and works more to inspire others to greatness than to do great deeds himself.

  21. Woerlan says:

    Actually, Robert’s right. He’s a celestial outsider.

    From Wikipedia:
    “Gandalf was the best-known of the Maiar of Valinor, a servant of the Valar, the Powers of the world, and of Eru Ilúvatar, the One. In Valinor he was known as Olórin, and was said to be the wisest of the Maiar. He dwelt in the gardens of Irmo and was the pupil of Nienna, the patron of mercy. When the Valar decided to send the order of the Wizards to Middle-earth in order to counsel and assist all those who opposed Sauron, Olórin was proposed by Manwë.”

    He isn’t a wizard in the D&D sense. All of his abilities, including leadership and skills and knowledge, stems from his being one of the Maiar.

  22. ShadoStahker says:

    Just because he’s from another plane doesn’t mean he’s not a Bard, and doesn’t mean that all his powers come from his race.

    If that were the case, he would have the same powers as Saruman (another Maiar), yet the powers demonstrated are very different.

    Saruman is a Maiar Wizard, though his specialty may not be able to be determined from what we know.

    Gandalf is a Maiar Bard.

  23. Robert says:

    I wouldn’t say bard, since he doesn’t use music or poetry as a focus of his power. But that’s the kind of role he plays, surely. I’d say he’s some kind of prestige class combining loremaster, leadership and a modicum of physical combat. Or maybe he just has a few fighter levels for hit points and proficiencies ;)

    I agree with ShadoStahker that Saruman clearly has a different class than Gandalf, and wizard seems to fit the bill.

  24. Shard says:

    maybe he multiclasses.. high-level ranger (for Two Weapon Fighting), low level monk for Deflect Arrows. Low level druid for Heat Metal and a low-level sorceror (Light, Protection From Evil and Dispel Magic)..

    Never got high level enough for Sending apparently.. and he’s got a staff that can do Telekinesis. Notice that he seems to lose that ability once he lost his staff.

  25. Hal says:

    No the bracers are +3 Dex -10 Wis -10 Int +2 Str. Why he wears them though that’s the real question.

    -10 Wis and -10 Int? My guess is he put them on not knowing what they were and now can’t figure out how to take them off.

  26. xargon says:

    Don’t forget about the movie scene where Gandalf and Sauruman are shouting at each other–from the mountains to Isengard! Pretty bard-like if you ask me.

  27. Shamus says:

    Most of this Gandalf as Wizard / Bard debate stems from which work you are looking at: Book or Movie.

    Me? I jump between the two freely if I think there’s a joke in it.

  28. Telas says:

    Woerlan Says:
    February 19th, 2007 at 7:05 pm
    Actually, Robert’s right. He’s a celestial outsider.
    From Wikipedia: (blah, blah)

    The absolutely worst thing about the internet is that all that really cool but somewhat useless trivia you discovered the hard way, and had stored up for decades, just for a moment like this, can now be found by anyone with access to Google and Wikipedia.

    **sigh**

    Telas

  29. Phil says:

    “Those are some pretty cool-looking bracers that ol’ Legolas is sporting. What kind of enchantment do you figure they have on them?”

    They’re actually Bracers of Masculinity/Femininity, but being Legolass nobody noticed the sex-change, or for that matter can be entirely sure which direction it was in…

  30. UtherSRG says:

    “No the bracers are +3 Dex -10 Wis -10 Int +2 Str. Why he wears them though that’s the real question.”

    He put them on once, and could think of a reason to take them off.

  31. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    Bravo Hal, The best joke of the bunch. Woot

  32. Medium Dave says:

    Ah, some food and drink in a scene. My PCs would want to know exactly what kind of beer it was and where the food came from so they could break down the agricultural economy of Theoden’s people. Some ale and some stew would not cut it, and If I said wine then an argument would begin about whether or not his folk had the brains or the the weather to make it. Sigh.

  33. Freefall says:

    Perhaps, before he put them on, Legolas had like… 50 int. and 50 wis. (because of very high levels). He might just want to be a bit more normal because, who wants to be smart all the time? It just gets boring.

  34. Freefall says:

    Oh yah, and why is everyone talking about the bracers? They weren’t really important in the joke, so why is everyone talking about them. Boredom? Weirdness? Why?

  35. Browncoat says:

    “Using a high-level wizard as a messenger.”?? I thought that they determined that Gandalf was a 0-level wizard back in Episode LV.

    It’s clear Gandalf went to fetch help because he likes the idea of being thought of as a powerful wizard who can do anything–he doesn’t want them to know he’s crap in a fight.

  36. LordKelvin says:

    Note that Bards need to use a Perform skill, nothing more. Some DMs may disagree, but I’ve found that Oratory is generally allowed, and is what I’d use for Gandalf.

  37. Steve says:

    I kina figured those bracers were +4 Bracers of Surfer Dudeism since Legoless spends large portions of the movie doing surfer/skateboarder moves.

    If I remember right, in the book the characters pretty much echo Shamus’s characters thinking but get railroaded into Helms Deep by their inflated sense of honour. I guess they were all Lawfull Doomed.

    Steve.

  38. Teague says:

    “Woerlan Says:

    February 19th, 2007 at 7:05 pm
    Actually, Robert’s right. He’s a celestial outsider.

    From Wikipedia:
    Gandalf was A FAG”

  39. Woerlan says:

    Teague says:
    From Wikipedia:
    Gandalf was A FAG?

    Lol. That might explain his predispositional fondness for young male hobbits. Makes you wonder what he’s thinking whenever he’s smiling at Frodo.

    @_@

  40. Tola says:

    Using the adventurers as ‘soldiers’ isn’t that bad of a thought, given how much better adventurers are compared to the standard army fodder. Ever seen/played the Dynasty Warriors games? From what I understand of D&D, it’s like that, but far worse/better(depending on your point of view).

    • WJS says:

      Using high level adventurers as grunts is like using the SAS or the SEALs for guard duty. Sure, they’ll excel at it, but it’s largely a waste of their talents.

  41. ChristianTheDane says:

    “That might explain his predispositional fondness for young male hobbits. Makes you wonder what he’s thinking whenever he’s smiling at Frodo. ”

    Oh man, thats just wrong dude. :S

  42. Carl the Bold says:

    [SPOLER ALERT: In rereading what I wrote below, it reads harsher than I intended. Verily, I meant no harshness at all. And I have found the best way to impart tone to e-communication is to preface said e-comm with a description of the tone that the author wishes to convey, or a desctiption of the tone that the author is trying to avoid. Now that the disclaimer is longer than the post, I can stop typing said disclaimer and you can start reading the post below. END SPOILER.]

    Hey Shamus –

    How’s come Legolas says in Frame 1: “So, here’s plan…” Do his bracers have some sort of ability to remove definite articles from his speech?

  43. Shamus says:

    How’s come Legolas says in Frame 1: “So, here’s plan…” Do his bracers have some sort of ability to remove definite articles from his speech?

    You lost me. If I mangled grammar, I did it in ignorance, because it scans properly to my eye.

    The idea was that Legolas was going to try and sneak a few lines in, but Gimli cut him off because Gimli likes to tell people How It Is.

  44. bobniborg says:

    Phil… love the bracers idea… that was hilarious.

    And Shamus, keep this thing rolling, it is great. Im sad Ive caught up to the current episode.

  45. crystal says:

    So is there a brothel at helm’s deep?

  46. crystal says:

    So is there a bothel?

  47. damien walder says:

    It occurs to me that these PCs aren’t preoccupied with alignment (until they mentioned switching sides, last page), when the source material is all about making the choice “between what is easy and what is right”. In some ways, Shamus, you have reinvented the parts of MAD magazine (but I like a backlit page, I do) I enjoyed so much. This is grand version of “Scenes we’d like to see” and a movie satire strategy.

    Again, well done.

    3700 xp for the work so far. You can level up, but consider adding a few bluff ranks.
    You now must face the dreaded LION’S GATE, destroyer of off-license products.

  48. Carl the Bold says:

    I should have been more direct. Shouldn’t he say, “Here’s *the* plan”?

  49. Shamus says:

    Carl: I’m sure I wouldn’t know what you’re talking about. It says “the”! It has always said “the”! Because it’s always been there, and not added recently to cover my near-illiteracy!

  50. -Chipper says:

    Of COURSE “The” has always been there, thanks to the Minstry of Truth.

  51. Carl the Bold says:

    Oh. My bad.

    I have a disability, similar to dyslexia, which causes me occasionally to not see certain words . “The” is one. So are “pickle”, “misunderestimate”, and “Thursday”.

    Interestingly, I have another disability, sort of a audible version of the above, which causes me not to hear it when anyone might say to me, “Could you please take out the garbage, dear?”

  52. Telas says:

    I hear you. Kinda.

    My ability is to remember verbatim everything my wife’s told me in the last five minutes. The disability part is that it never gets parsed and processed.

    She can ask, “what did I just say?”, and I’ll spit it out. AND ONLY THEN does it register. Very odd.

    Telas

  53. Jperk says:

    If Gandolf is a messanger from the Gods some sort of Avitar wouldn’t that make his some sort of Cleric??? So the party has had one all the time and never knew it? Then again Aaragon is supposed to have “hands of a healer” so he sounds more like a paladin class to me not a ranger.

  54. superfluousk says:

    ::The absolutely worst thing about the internet is that all that really cool but somewhat useless trivia you discovered the hard way, and had stored up for decades, just for a moment like this, can now be found by anyone with access to Google and Wikipedia.::

    Well, to be fair, it isn’t THAT much of a mystery. He says flat out in Two Towers (book III) that he was Olorin, and you don’t even have to read *all* of the Silmarillion to run into that name again.

    And in fairness to Theoden’s sense of tactics (not that it’s been too much maligned in this strip, but it comes off in a rather bad light in the books) his ideas were actually quite sound. Forts such as Helm’s Deep *exist* in order to even the odds when your force is outnumbered. The only reason his defense did so badly is that he hadn’t quite counted on the sheer number of troops Saruman had managed to come up with — and even then they might have held them off if not for the wizard fire of Orthanc.

    On the other hand, if they’d taken Aragorn’s advice and ridden straight out to meet the orcs? There wouldn’t have been enough left for Eomer’s men to pack into body bags afterwards.

  55. superfluousk says:

    Where by books I mean movie. Yes.

  56. Teague says:

    superfluousk Says:
    “Forts such as Helm’s Deep *exist* in order to even the odds when your force is outnumbered.”

    Amen, brother. Can you say “Alamo”? Also a great example of why the larger attacking force must suffer the losses to take the fort, rather than just ignore it and move on.

  57. Nadzghoul says:

    Interesting point about moving on instead of attacking the fortress. The US Civil War had some change in plans like that, people used to make fortresses at mouths of rivers, etc… but then someone got the bright idea to just bring along boats with nice weapons and speed so they could just zoom past it. Later people kind of realized that it was better to have mobile fortresses (battleships of any age) rather than waste time building a place that can be ignored with only a few injuries in passing. Similar effect to the crusades where the arabs on horses with bows would pick off knights on horses who lugged around heavy armor and couldnt do anything about it because the arabians were just faster without all that stuff weighing them down …and on horses trained for speed instead of strength at that.

  58. Cynder says:

    Erm…I may be wrong, but I thought it was Helm’s DEEP, not helm’s KEEP? Eh, tomayto tomahto.

    And something I forgot to add in previous posts – the whole Monty Python chapter is perfect. I was expecting those quotes to be thrown in somewhere XD

  59. Doug says:

    Helm’s Deep? Of course, but once again, do you really think the players were listening?

  60. Morambar says:

    Actually, since I HARDLY consider the films “canon” I’d say Gandalf is a Maiar plain and simple, and whatever supernatural abilities he may have as Innates, he uses them seldom if ever, to maintain free will in ME (one big contrast between him and his Maiar adversaries. ) Theoden wasn’t “possessed” in the books, he was manipulated by fear and privileged information. Much like what Sauron did to Denethor II, who was frankly a figure of greater power and stature and consequently more resistant, but not immune. There’s no “wizards duel” in Orthanc; Saruman reveals his treachery and offers Gandalf “a piece of the action”, Gandalf refuses and Saruman shuts the only exit from Orthancs roof: “That’s cool, man; feel free to come down if you change your mind… or stay here until you starve to death and begin to smell and I’ll pitch you over the side; really don’t care…. ”

    Look at the magic he does in the BOOKS. He makes fireballs, fireworks, makes light with his staff, pierces the gathering gloom of battlefields with radiant light… gee, if I didn’t know better I’d think he was carrying around Narya…. Explains why he got killed defeating the Balrog; his biggest asset was none against a creature whose very form was born of flames. On the other hand, against another Maia and relic of the First Age all that “preserve free will” stuff goes out the window in a heads up fight.

    And, yes, I assumed “Helms Keep” was the players error and no one elses.

    Good stuff as always, Shamus; just sorry I’m late, though it makes the wait for updates far less annoying (on the other hand I’ve only just now caught up to Edoras. )

    What’s that line from Spaceballs, that’s why evil always wins: Because good is STUPID….

  61. Saruman was a Maia of Aule, the smith Vala. He’s actually of the same group as Sauron (fancy that?).

    And, seriously, you guys are a lolfest. Everyone in the office is looking REALLY strangely at me right now.

    And, God, the bracers. The bracers discussion is making breathing really, REALLY hard to do…

  62. Daniel Reynolds says:

    Strangely, I’ve never really had a challenge with people complaining about my NPC’s. Maybe that means I have dumb players, or maybe that means I do a decent job!

  63. ERROR says:

    Maybe Gandalf is a bard trying to act as much like a wizard as possible?

  64. Trick says:

    I absolutely love the bracers discussion. The ‘rainbow bracers’ were particularly funny.

    Unfortunately… I have to point out that more than anything else, I think they’re actually meant to be wrist guards. He’s an archer.

    Then again… there’s no sign of him being an ambidextrous archer. So that idea goes out the window…

    Bracers of Impossible Athleticism? ‘Cause let’s face it, there’s some things he does that would be pure stupid in real life, near-immortal elf or no. Like using a sheild to ‘snow’board down a flight of stairs without handrails above a crowd of Uruk-hai determined to kill you, while not watching your feet, and instead shooting at said Uruk-hai…

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