DM of the Rings LXXXIII:
Ladder Game

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Apr 4, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 146 comments

Gimli steals their ladders.
Gimli is cheating.

In D&D, there is no act more reckless and fraught with danger than that of outsmarting the DM.

 


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146 thoughts on “DM of the Rings LXXXIII:
Ladder Game

  1. Jeremiah says:

    Oh, that’s beautiful. Another great comic, as always. And oh, so very.. very.. very true.

  2. Eltanin says:

    I’ve never done anything like that. Ever.

    Well, there was that one time.

    But the players! They pull that kind of stuff on me all the time! I swear, it’s their fault.

  3. Jeremiah says:

    As a DM, it’s hard not to be frustrated when your player’s think of the one thing you failed to plan for. Luckily, I’ve never had any DM try to pull anything like this. And anyhow, player’s should be rewarded for being creative.

    1. joesolo says:

      like when frodo had the battering ram idea?

      1. PortalGeek says:

        You mean Dave.

  4. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    SOOOO when are they gonna free the slaves or start a food distribution scam. TEE HEE

  5. Mysti says:

    LOL!!! Okay, that is so true…

  6. billybangleballs says:

    Leisure is smelt wrong.

    1. Simes says:

      “Leisure is smelt wrong.”

      Nine years on, that comment made me laugh out loud, which I do rarely these days. :-)

      1. billybangleballs says:

        I’m glad you liked it, I can’t believe it’s over ten years ago since I wrote that.

  7. Purple Library Guy says:

    I’m really not convinced that would work.
    But it makes for a beautiful comic!

  8. Sarah says:

    Hee hee! I *love* Gimli with his *two* grapple hooks! :)
    however, it’s “teeming” in the first panel… when you get a chance…
    Thanks, as always, for another great comic!
    S

    1. Coldyham says:

      He didn’t get a chance

  9. Oona says:

    Well, I have to admit I’ve been on both sides of a similar situation. When I am a player, I’m always the one who thinks up something the DM totally did not plan for (i.e. tracking so well I find the back door to the dungeon or suggesting we go through the air duct in the roof of the compound). On the other hand, I also have five very brilliant players in my D&D group. It’s always a challenge to react creatively to their schemes! However, I love it and that’s why I’m still a DM. I have still pulled the “No, it doesn’t work. I don’t care what you say, give it up!” on occasion. Because the DM says so! LOL! BTW, Shamus, LOVE YOUR COMIC! Keep them coming.

  10. Woerlan says:

    OMG! This is the best one ever! Love the Player/DM interplay.

    Gimli’s idea reminds me of that time when the players yanked a common hall runner (aka. really long hall rug) to make the fleeing villain fall. No magic, no special powers, just a rug and a bit of muscle.

    Keep it up!

  11. Da Penguin says:

    Shamus

    Another classic… i’ve often had players who just come up with ingenious plans and i’ve been so tempted sometimes..lol

    also i always find the next player has more rope than the previous one but not hint to how they are carrying it all…

    Steve aka penguin.

  12. Harlequin says:

    Gimli waving his 2 fingers is 2 funny. Clearly his player is a slightly overweight ‘Nam veteran with glasses and a beard. He’s archetypal to the point of Jungian.

  13. Tim says:

    Clearly his player is a slightly overweight “˜Nam veteran with glasses and a beard.

    phones ringing dude.

  14. I’ve tried to not overwhelm you server, but I also wanted to tell you I bent over the keyboard laughing at this one.
    Nice!

  15. Sorry – ‘Your’ server, I meant.

  16. Jindra34 says:

    Trying to decide which is funnier the last few comments or the comic

  17. Librain says:

    “In D&D, there is no act more reckless and fraught with danger than that of outsmarting the DM.”

    Not quite true. I’ve made a couple of rather misguided calls in my time, that were more outstupiding myself than outsmarting the GM. Not all of these were D&D, but it still applies. Walking past a random encounter, and blatantly telling the GM i was refusing to get involved didn’t end well, but my worst was definitely the line “I believe in karma.” to justify being nasty to some people who had attacked the party. I was lucky to survive that one.

    Then there was the Wizard who took 5 minutes to be talked out of casting lightning bolt in battle, which the DM informed him quite explicitly, several times, would most certainly kill the other 3 members of the party. It was a really bad idea, but it was his, so he didn’t want to abandon it.

    Librain
    “I’m not arrogant, I really am that good.”

  18. Jason says:

    This one was gold. Cheers to the Gimli screenshot holding up the two fingers and making that face.

  19. Rosuav says:

    First post, but been reading this comic ever since it was pointed out to me (at about strip 50) – it’s brilliant!

    Gimli’s gone back to the “pack” notion again. A hundred feet of rope and two grappling hooks… err… where? :D

    I love this sense of a DM that can be as childish as his players. “You started it!”

  20. Rustybadger says:

    I normally don’t mind “smelling” mistakes, but since billybangleballs (WTF?) started it, the “teaming mass of orcs” should be “teeming”…unless they are actually working together, which would surprise me a lot. Unless by “teamwork” you mean “using the other guys’ bodies as scaffolding”. Or maybe they’re Teamsters? Come to think of it… *evil grin*

  21. Nogard Codesmith says:

    HAHAHAHAHA… yeah my coworkers are giving me strange looks now after all the laughter… or should i say during all the laughter… im STILL laughing.

    I’ve got a game coming up and we are expecting a seige to start soon… im totally gunna have to remember (and secretly prepare for) the ladder thing. Lets see… we’ll need ropes, grappling hooks, and a wench with a winch.

  22. EmeraldTiara says:

    Well, who would expect a bomb in medieval-like Tolkien? maybe that’s why they didn’t do anything.

  23. baf says:

    The truest part of this is everyone chiming in with a report of how much rope they have. I’ve seen this happen so many times. Nothing excites a player more than an opportunity to use the junk they’ve been carrying around since they bought it as part of their starting equipment, and *everyone* buys rope.

  24. Serafina says:

    *blushes*
    Guilty as charged. 20ft silk rope with a +2 circumstantial bonus on climbing.
    *hangs her head*

  25. Shamus says:

    no, no, they were “teaming”. See, there were picking teams… and…

    Grrr.

    Yeah. Now you see how much I rely on spell check and proofing. It’s hard to proof in word bubbles (for me) for some reason. This is the third comic with multiple incorrect / misspelled words. I wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t such a monumental pain to fix sometimes.

    It’s either that or leave my borderline illiteracy there for all to see.

    Sigh.

  26. Steve says:

    Heeheehee. More cheese in play at this stage in the game than a 3 cheese pizza with extra cheese hold the crust. Once again the portable weightless hardware store is deployed by the players and the anachronistic and unfeasible megadeath response device tossed in as punishment by the DM.

    Another nail smacked on the head Shamus.

    Nogard Codesmith Says:

    I've got a game coming up and we are expecting a seige to start soon… im totally gunna have to remember (and secretly prepare for) the ladder thing. Lets see… we'll need ropes, grappling hooks, and a wench with a winch.

    Wot, no fortifying meal of delicious chips?

    Jeremiah Says:

    As a DM, it's hard not to be frustrated when your player's think of the one thing you failed to plan for. Luckily, I've never had any DM try to pull anything like this. And anyhow, player's should be rewarded for being creative.

    I couldn’t agree more. Many’s the time such ingenuity in one of my Call of Cthulhu games has been rewarded with a Shoggoth.

    Steve

    (who used to climb for “fun” once upon a time, has lugged rope around for real and demands at least a nod from his players towards the realities on this front).

  27. Fred's Friend Mike's Friend Gary's Friend Jim says:

    I have learned to silently chuckle so as not to make my coworkers suspicious. Hee hee.

  28. Jindra34 says:

    Steve lets not go back there please it got a little crazy

  29. Tess says:

    Hey Shamus, why not type all your dialog in a Word program, run spell-check, and then paste it into the comic program. As if you didn’t have enough to do already, heehee.

  30. Tess says:

    Of course, then you get even funnier spelling mistakes. My dad used to do this on his e-mail and one time he referred to my uncle as his “bother.” Um, Dad, I think your Freudian slip is showing!

  31. vonKreedon says:

    Sort of off topic, but it really bugged me in the movie that Helm’s Deep did not have long forked sticks to push off ladders as standard equipment. The place is supposed to have successfully resisted more than one siege, but I don’t see how without the rudimentary means to push off ladders. OTOH, the Uruk-Hai’s assault ladders were really well designed!

  32. vonKreedon says:

    Oh, a Freudian slip, where you say one thing, but mean your mother.

  33. Fickle says:

    A BOMB? *dies* Man. XD I think that round should have autoed to Gimli.

    1. 'lement says:

      Well, tbh, imagine this:
      GM: You attempt to pull ladder up. Roll a strength check against two three orcs, with 2 more on ladder.
      Gimli: I get peasants to help me pull it up.
      *successful roll*
      GM: You pulled ladder up. Take 2d6 damage from each orc’s AOO.

      Granted, I’ve never played D&D, but this isn’t still so bad.

  34. Woerlan says:

    Gimli should be feeling extra-frustrated. He’s just trying to make up for all those rounds of “Do Nothing” that he had to put up with. You can’t even blame him for being self-serving, coz if the “pull the ladders” tactic worked, he’d be spending even more time “doing nothing.”

  35. Steve says:

    vonKreedon Says:

    Sort of off topic, but it really bugged me in the movie that Helm's Deep did not have long forked sticks to push off ladders as standard equipment. The place is supposed to have successfully resisted more than one siege, but I don't see how without the rudimentary means to push off ladders. OTOH, the Uruk-Hai's assault ladders were really well designed!

    Those ladders had anti-forked-ladder-pushing-stick pawls (those big hooky-things) that latched to the walls. Sticks would have been a waste of time, though I agree they should have been in evidence somewhere.

    On the other hand, Helms Deep had been allowed to fall into disrepair and was entirely unprovisioned when King Forrest Gump forged his mighty plan to hole up there despite everyone else’s opinion that to do so was suicidally nuts. I wouldn’t mind betting more than one party of adventurers had looted it down to the foundation long before the orcs started towards it, and those forked sticks are in a pawnshop in Minas Tirith.

    What a shame for the players in this game that Jackson won’t agree to make The Hobbit. A story drawn from screenshots of that would be much closer to vanilla D&D.

    Which reminds me, one of the extras that really worked for me was the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene with the Stoned Trolls from The Hobbit in it in the four hour boxed buttock-bruising bladder-burster edition.

    Has anyone viewed the latest “cut”, the one that came out around Christmas? They were showing a version on TV around then that wasn’t either the cinematic release or the extended edition. Could it be that Jackson et al will simply recut the movie each year until everyone is sick of Hobbits, Sir Ian McKellan and Tolkien altogether? Has Jackson fallen victim to George Lucas Disease?

    Steve.
    PS
    Not only did Han most definitely shoot first, but the movie originally had no “part IV” horseshirt in the title.

    1. Ghost of Irony says:

      A shame, you say…

      *cut to five years later*

    2. EvanNave55 says:

      An now the hobbit part THREE! Has recently come out, there’s nothing more to say.

  36. Steve says:

    [Shamus] Missed a trick.

    The orcs with the mine should have called up in bad French accents “Special delivery – a buhm. Were you expecting one?” just before lighting the blue touchpaper and retiring, thus alowing Gimli to do the “A BUHM! Aaaaaa-haaaargh!” bit just as things get all loud and airborne.

    What can I say? I love Sellars’s Clouseau more than anything.

    Also: For what it’s worth, for me one of the best crafted bits you’ve done was the appearance of Gandalf the White and Aragormless’s reaction to it. I can’t read past “Argh! Jerk!” without creasing up. Masterfull.

    Steve.

  37. Freefall says:

    in scene 7 gimli looks mad

  38. Brave Sir Robin says:

    Something about Gimli’s plan does not make sense. Looking at the first panel, I estimate that the average scaling ladder has 5 orcs ascending. Only at the very first moments of ladder-wall contact will the ladder be orc-free. So how much lifting force is required to raise an fully-armored-orc-laden ladder halfway over the wall (after the halfway point, you can use the wall-ladder contact point as a fulcrum)?

    Next question: African or European ladder?

    1. WJS says:

      Not even the tops of the ladders were free. There were a couple of orcs balancing on the very top of each ladder so they could be fighting immediately before the defenders even had a chance to try pushing the ladders down. And the speed those ladders were hitting the wall, that should count as charging. +2 for that first round!

  39. Freefall says:

    oh yah, and shamus, I think that in your comment, you wanted to say now, not no… I think… I AM NOT CRAZY!!!!!!!

  40. When the orcs switched from using their regular ladders to the really big ladders with the hooks on top, my thought was “Aha! Dire ladders.” :)

    -blarg

  41. Jindra34 says:

    Dire Ladders what are the coots going to think of next? DIre toothpicks?

  42. Russell says:

    See, the trick as a DM is to overwhelm your players during the first play session as a total prick– but a fair one. It helps if the first game you run for your players is a horror game.

    From then on, your players will be ingenious sometimes. That’s their job. But they’ll also start doing your job *for* you. “The baroness must be working with the bandits in order to drive the peasants into further poverty! She’s the real villain!” Then you nod your head, make up a few stats on the spot, and your players think that you came up with the coolest plot twists.

    I’m a lazy DM. I really am. My players love me for it.

  43. Tola says:

    On the other hand, Helms Deep had been allowed to fall into disrepair and was entirely unprovisioned when King Forrest Gump forged his mighty plan to hole up there despite everyone else's opinion that to do so was suicidally nuts.

    Trying to take the Uruk-Hai army direct, even with hit-and-run, would be more nuts. The Uruks have pikemen…LOTS of Pikemen. Anywhere the Rohir hit, they’ll get skewered, and their horses are their main, if not only strength. Horse Archers(if they have any) can only do so much…The Rohirrim just don’t have the force to confront them head-on, especially with literally zero time to prepare.

    If you can give an idea of how it could be done, enlighten me. I’d honestly like to hear it.(Good grief, I’m looking at what I just typed and it seems snide. I’m NOT trying to be insulting or anything.)

  44. Ishmael says:

    “40 Jindra34 Says:
    April 4th, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Dire Ladders what are the coots going to think of next? DIre toothpicks?”

    They’re called “rapiers.” ^~

  45. Tola says:

    Ah…and looking at how this went….interesting mix.

    We have the Olympic Uruk-Hai, AND the heroes too busy talking to notice(Though it’s the DM that set it up so).

  46. Jindra34 says:

    43 Ishmael Says:
    April 4th, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    “40 Jindra34 Says:
    April 4th, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Dire Ladders what are the coots going to think of next? DIre toothpicks?”

    They're called “rapiers.” ^~

    Rapiers ar neither wooden or “Spikey” and have a handle not exactly a dire toothpick

  47. Curt says:

    Spelling slips in rapid email, corrected to change meaning? Never happens. Hah!

    Once I sent a rapid email to my manager discussing what contract work was allowed to be billed (I typed “billable”) and what wasn’t. I was in a hurry and let Word fix all my typos without looking closely.

    It turned out that I discussed what was “bilabial” with my manager and what wasn’t. Look it up – that’s a COMPLETELY different topic…

    (Luckily I had a very open-minded and understanding manager!)

    c.

  48. Brian T says:

    I was kind of expecting a Legolas ‘Gollum’ crit bow shot to take out the torch bearer when we got to this point. Perhaps Shamus didn’t want to derail from the story any more than what’s happened.

  49. eccles says:

    It turned out that I discussed what was “bilabial” with my manager and what wasn't

    Oh my. :)

  50. Dez says:

    LOL

    Possibly the best comic yet!!

    I think we have all had our share of spiteful DM’s.

    D!

  51. Scarlet Knight says:

    I thought you were going to do a joke on how Legolas could put so many arrows into the Olypmic Uruk- hai & not bring him down because he had too many hit points.

  52. Owen says:

    I love how excited Legolas looks at the idea. :)

  53. Salen says:

    Yup, its the old situation of when you outsmart the DM, he just gets dirty and cheats to make things even worst for you. If he’s really mean though, the DM will be sneaky about it and make you think you succeeded and have the party celebrating… and THEN use the bomb to blow up the wall.

  54. Jindra34 says:

    by the way the DM cannot cheat says so near the start of the DMG.

  55. Alasseo says:

    In D&D, there is no act more reckless and fraught with danger than that of outsmarting the DM

    Yes, there is. Trying to outsmart the DM and failing. If you don’t manage it and the DM figures out that you tried… only then will you see the full power of the Dark Side of the Game…

    …ahem. Sorry about that.

  56. Clyde says:

    That’s brilliant, Shamus! I tip my hat to you.

  57. WheatKing says:

    By far the most annoying thing!

    Brings back memories of our party about to kill an Orc Warboss. What does the GM do to save him? A potion of teleportation!!! On a freakin Orc!!!

    Needless to say we were not impressed.

    1. WJS says:

      By the rules, there’s no such thing. You can only make potions of spells level 1-3. Even if you waive that, the rules explicitly state that the drinker of a potion doesn’t get to choose anything about the spells effect, such as where to teleport to. So not only was this GM a filthy cheater by changing the guy’s loadout during the fight, he was a filthy cheater by giving him an illegal item!

  58. Rickster says:

    Love it! LOVE IT! Oh yes I can relate to this very well being a player giving the DM a hard time. Be his friend, you get levelled quick and have lots of treasure. Be his enemy and have a campaign to forget about.

    The comic is fantastic, keep it coming. By the way, are we going to see Frodo and Sam back or with they be “still playing Star Wars?”

  59. Andrew-san says:

    Shamus sez: “It's either that or leave my borderline illiteracy there for all to see.”

    If you ever start to feel bad about your spelling and grammar, sir, check out the amusing but *horrifically* misspelled Devil’s Panties (http://devilspanties.keenspot.com/) and Geebas On Parade (http://geebasonparade.keenspot.com/). Then note that the artist/author is actually making money merchandising her art, some of which has the misspellings on it. Then consider that she has to have plentiful site traffic to sell those goods. People really don’t care about details as long as the jokes come through or the art is good. (I mean, hell, think about President Bush during the debates.)

    As for the What! You Can’t Do That! syndrome … When I design adventures, I just make them harder than I think they ought to be, and don’t plan any particular solutions. Then when the players (inevitably) breeze past monsters, puzzles and traps, I act like whatever they did was the one secret key that’d make it all possible. I feel no need to nuke them for good solutions, since they’d die or be endlessly stymied if they *didn’t* come up with one.

  60. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    Librain Says:

    “Not quite true. I've made a couple of rather misguided calls in my time…”

    This brings to mind an experience with an old friend from high school by the name of Cameron. Once, at the beginning of an adventure, we ran into a building of some sort and found a fire just beginning its incendiary task of burning said hovel to the ground. For reasons which escape me at this point (most likely having to do with this being the location of our contact), we felt it necessary to put the fire out. Having no water at ready hand (and the DM ruling that we had “gone before we left”, wink wink) we were racking our brains. Our wizard (the aforementioned Cameron) decided that the best way to stop a fire was to starve it of oxygen. A fine idea, but his execution left something to be desired as he felt the best way of doing this would be to use a larger fire.

    Yes, Fireball will do this nicely. No, Fireball is not intended to be used such that it does not cause damage to any nearby (ie, within range) flammable material (say, a medieval building made primarily if wood with bits of stone).

    We never did find out what the purpose of that building was. In hindsight, however, the frantic scrambling of the DM to come up with a way to get the story back on track after we apparently immolated our contact… hehe.

    BTW: Cameron, if you happen to read this, Dick D still lives in Edmonton. Look me up if you get a chance. Love to introduce you to the new baby!

    Richard

    1. WJS says:

      That totally shouldn’t have happened. Seasoned wood is not flammable. Flammable means things that take light quickly and easily, like liquid fuel or tinder. It takes quite a bit to get wood to burn, as anyone who’s ever made a campfire can attest to. The brief pulse of a Fireball should just char it a bit maybe. Personally, I would also rule that a Fireball shouldn’t use up a significant amount of oxygen anyway, it’s not real fire. (Oxygen is only used up when it reacts with something, and in a sheet of fire magically appearing in mid air that won’t be the case)

  61. RHJunior says:

    I dare you to watch that scene with the torchbearing Orc without humming “Chariots of Fire”…

  62. DM T. says:

    That last panel…
    “You started it”
    Now that’s a refreshing way to start up your day, THANKS SHAMUS!

  63. tigerdreams says:

    I’m right there with Gimli. I don’t remember the last character I played who didn’t carry two 50′ lengths of silk rope (one knotted, one not) and two grappling hooks.

    I’m also the type who usually comes up with the creative, lateral-thinking solution to the problem. So I really feel for the dwarf, here. DM apparently is only just now learning that the best battle plan never survives the first engagement with the PCs.

    I do like how Shamus has been attributing plot twists from the movie to OOC disputes between the DM and the PCs (the bomb, Aragorn falling off the cliff). It adds to both the verisimilitude and the awesomeness of the comic.

  64. Phil says:

    Which reminds me, one of the extras that really worked for me was the blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene with the Stoned Trolls from The Hobbit in the four hour boxed buttock-bruising bladder-burster edition.

    Actually, the trolls were in the cinematic release too – a nice treat for the observant! So actually I rather disliked Sam’s “Ooh look, Mr Bilbo’s trolls” which was added in the extended version as it rather took away the subtlety of it all!

    Meanwhile, this episode is a gem. One of the best. :)

  65. Valley says:

    Yeah! A Bomb! Now Gimli can kill as many of the enemy as he wants as they pour into the Keep, overwhelming the defenders, as they hack and slash. Good old fashion fun.

  66. General Ghoul says:

    61 RHJunior Says:

    I dare you to watch that scene with the torchbearing Orc without humming “Chariots of Fire”…

    You sir, have cast mass suggestion.

    Too late now, but we passed the scene where the army pulls all available hands to defend the wall, including teen boys whose head are too small to wear helmets…DM,” They place all available hand on the wall including a 15 year old boy.”

    Aragorn:”Hey I’m just a 17 year old Ranger.”

    DM:”Actually you are 87.”

    Aragorn:”What?!? My character better take a nap before I die of old age.”

    DM:”Nevermind…”

  67. Proteus says:

    That last panel was classic. I’ve seen that expression in real life — in fact, I could name names. (Hey Steevr, did you read this post? ;)

  68. sylc says:

    *cracks up laughing* Gimli’s face in the last shot (in all the shots of him for that matter). Oh my… Gimli’s FACE! Thanks, Shamus. Love this one!

  69. Browncoat says:

    Just noticed the new ad on the side for DMotR mechandise at cafepress. Wonder how long it’s been there. Anyway, I see you’re getting bored with the accolades you're receiving for the comic; now you want them for the ads as well. Very well, allow me to be first.

    *great* ad.

  70. Steve says:

    [Tola] (Helms Deep vs Hit and Run Attacks)

    I was refering to the book version of the event, but the point is that they should do neither. They should have sent a token force to Helms Deep, then struck out for Isengard and taken Saruman while his army was elsewhere or taken everyone to Gondor there to join forces with The Father Of The Man With The Pointed Shoes. Given free reign it is even possible Saruman’s excesses would have precipitated an early intervention by Sauron. Also, once out of Saruman’s direct influence, his orcs would likely have begun fighting amongst themselves out of sheer boredom.

    To really get a feel for the scale of this sort of battle you are better off using SPI’s old “Helms Deep” or “War of the Ring” games, super-“accurate” (as best as could be done with made-up creatures at any rate) simulation games rather than D&D or any of the curent tabletop game systems (especially Warhammer, which is a tactical game system and not a very complex one at that).

    Theoden only retreated to Helms Deep because he a) didn’t appreciate the scale of the opposition and refused to believe the intelligence he was getting (compare with Stalin’s actions at the outbreak of Operation Barbarossa) and b) was running on autopilot and relying on his Line’s rich history of defending the people in that fortress. He had never had cause to use the place for real, if memory serves me right. Of course, his forces were primarily cavalry, fundamentally unsuited to and untrained in defending fixed fortifications.

    Funnily enough, one of the first hex-based wargames I ever played was a pocket version of the battle for Helms Deep. I always wanted the SPI boxed set, but could never afford it when it was in print.

    Steve.

  71. Jeff says:

    Well, Gandalf had fireworks, so a bomb is basically the bigger, cruder, less controlled version of a firework.

  72. Tola says:

    Problem: How does he know that striking for Isengard is a good idea? You say he wasn’t trusting his intelligence. I’m assuming no idea of what Saruman has. Which means he may have MORE.(WE know he doesn’t, but…) Worse yet, Isengard is a fairly tight battleground(Deep valley, with onl a few thin paths in, isn’t it? The ‘city’ itself is walled.). Again, their strength is nullified, and with no clue what they’re facing…that doesn’t seem like a great idea. It might be a little better than holing up, but…Maybe its just me.

    Then there’s the Grey Company. They’re going after Aragorn about now to tell him about the Paths of the Dead. If they’d all struck out for Gondor….no Army, no help for Pelargir, and the Corsairs get through to the Pelennor. Would the Rangers be enough to turn the tide? Hmm…(It’s a shame the Grey Company didn’t show up in the film, though. They put in Elves, and throw out Aragorn’s people?)

  73. Philip Cassini says:

    [i]”40 Jindra34 Says:
    April 4th, 2007 at 2:32 pm
    Dire Ladders what are the coots going to think of next? DIre toothpicks?”

    They're called “rapiers.” ^~[/i]

    Walking sticks.

  74. Erin Storts says:

    This is the funniest web comic I have ever read. And then halfway through I finally noticed the comments at the bottom of the pages, and realized it was funnier than I thought!

    Rock on. Can’t wait for the next one. Now I’m yearning for D&D again. *sigh*

  75. Steve says:

    [Tola] He doesn’t. But he doesn’t stop to consider the consequences of what he is doing either. Not only is Theoden reacting to Saruman’s threat rather than moving with a solid counterplan (and therefore allowing Saruman’s forces to set the initiative in the war, always something to be avoided if at all possible) but by crowding into Helms Deep he is removing his own best asset – his cavalry’s mobility.

    He’s doing it for the best of reasons. He wants to hole up until the orcs get fed up and go away (a typical seige result) so that the civilian population doesn’t suffer overmuch but he still doesn’t believe the force coming at him can a) overwhelm the defences and b) retain cohesion for the duration of a long seige and he has allowed the fortress to become unsuitable even for a seige of the style he does envisage.

    Perhaps worst of all, Theoden has no plan B. If the walls of Helms Deep prove inadequate, everyone (civs included) is dead.

    Theoden is also operating in the same information blackout he usually does (I’m extrapolating here – he is used to not having GPS and cell phones), perhaps a little exacerbated by the fact that his kingdom’s infrastructure has come a little unravelled thanks to the Wormtongue episode, but his was an insular society and probably had no formal information gathering organisation to start with. We know he had no active diplomatic channel with Minas Tirith at the time the story takes place.

    Overall his single most telling error is a failure of imagination. He literally cannot get his brain in gear and properly assess the strategic situation, and that is almost the death of his entire nation.

    If he were to share your concerns regarding a move on Isengard he should have dispatched a scouting force there to assess the area. He should certainly have sent scouts at once to determine the invading force strength. Neither of these was done. The sole effort was to get to Helms Deep with no particular idea what they would do once they got there. I don’t blame the players of DMOTR for not being happy.

    Let’s hope the -E-n-t- Treants turn up on schedule with their Portable Forest o’ Death. I’m not sure even Dumbeldore can save them now. If and when he shows he probably won’t have memorised “Fireball”, “Chain Lightning” or “Meteor Swarm” and will doubtless attack with the ever-popular “Continual Light”.

    Those orcs have an awful lot of walking sticks.

    :o)

    Steve.

  76. Scarlet Knight says:

    Thsi would have been the perfect time for a joke about one of my pet D&D peeves: imagining how you can put arrow after arrow into an opponent , yet he still keeps coming, with the DM smirking : “Nope. He still has plenty of hitpoints left…”

  77. vonKreedon says:

    And another thing…Why did Jackson have Eomer and his gang of horsemen be the ones that Gandalf gets instead of Erkenbrand and the Westfold infantry? Not that that is soo bad, but then he had the calvary ride down on well formed Uruk-Hai pikemen! Criminy, Eomer should have been slaughtered.

    And what was up with the Entmoot? Don’t even get me started on the Entmoot…

  78. Jon says:

    Has no one here seen BoonDock Saints? Rope is ALWAYS necessary.

  79. Telas says:

    Charlie Bronson always had a rope…

  80. Ruth says:

    “Rocks fall everyone dies.”

    “But if you would’ve let me think…”

    “Rocks fall… Everyone dies. The end.”

  81. Hurlbut says:

    “And another thing…Why did Jackson have Eomer and his gang of horsemen be the ones that Gandalf gets instead of Erkenbrand and the Westfold infantry? Not that that is soo bad, but then he had the calvary ride down on well formed Uruk-Hai pikemen! Criminy, Eomer should have been slaughter.”

    He actually made it work by having the sun behind the riders’ backs blind the pikemen right before the initial impact.

    And someone point out that the King wanted to go to Helm even though everyone advised against it. I should point out that in the books he was originally for going on an all out offense but was talked out of it by Gandalf into protecting the people and taking them to Helm’s Deep.

  82. hikari says:

    I would have had them keep attacking the wall until their dead formed a ramp to the top of the wall.

    What?

  83. Given the terrain and the facts, were the people better off being slaughtered in the open or slaughtered behind walls? Of course behind walls there was a chance that the super bard could rally a relief force (or two) and that he could crumple the enemy by using a mass area effect demoralize on the pike … which he did.

    Scale is an interesting concept. Generally, a horse people is better off engaging in a running skirmish against ground forces, if they have enough room, if they can move their entire population, *if.* If not, if they are a herd people rather than a true horse people and are in a bounded area, they take what they can take.

    1. WJS says:

      You’ll notice that the flight to Helm’s Deep was on foot; not a single decent wagon seen in the entire convoy.

  84. Hotaru says:

    hikari:I would have had them keep attacking the wall until their dead formed a ramp to the top of the wall.

    hehe… ramp of people… it would be enviromentally friendly because it’s biodegradable and yet good for population because you killed thousands to make it… it’s a win win ^_^ …though… it would stink after a while… oh well… you can always torch it and use their bones to make a stair case

  85. Tola says:

    perhaps a little exacerbated by the fact that his kingdom's infrastructure has come a little unravelled thanks to the Wormtongue episode

    That’s an understatement. Wormtounge’s been aiding Saruman for…months? Years?

    And someone point out that the King wanted to go to Helm even though everyone advised against it. I should point out that in the books he was originally for going on an all out offense but was talked out of it by Gandalf into protecting the people and taking them to Helm's Deep.

    Hmm. Why was it changed? Perhaps because it made Gandalf look…not-so-perfect? I wonder how things would have gone, now…Assuming the King had his way and went on the attack.

  86. question says:

    Hello i love these!

    1 problem.. your last 2 comics aren’t displaying right for me

    I can make out roughtly 1/2 the comic clearly the other half of the picyures are so blurred i cant even read the captiob boxes..

    in the above comic its the top half thats too blurred to make out
    in your last comic it was the bottom half to blurry

    any idea why this is? ive ready every comic since the beginning and the issue only occurs in your last 2 for me

  87. Steve says:

    Telas Says:
    Charlie Bronson always had a rope…

    And a sock full of coins and Jill St John too.

    It’s good to be Charles Bronson.

    Steve

  88. Deoxy says:

    All this argument about actions in the movie… when the actions in the book were quite different AND made sense (I won’t rehash it here).

    It’s makes no sense in the movie because the source material was tossed in a blender first – that ANY of it came out making sense is near miraculous (look at all previous attempts at LotR movies, for instance).

    And don’t get met started on how they handled the Ents. I have seen sensible reasons for everything else that really mattered (most of which I disagreed with, mind you), but the handling of the Ents was just plain stupid.

  89. Tola says:

    Go on, start. I’m certain we’d all like to hear it. I have problems with it, as well.

    Why on Earth were the Ents made to be ‘not caring’?

    Dammit, in the book, he was all for dealing with Saruman, once he knew the situation-the problem was rallying everyone ELSE. I realise the Ents don’t know or care much about other races-mainly because they’ve go their own concerns(Racial excintion from lack of females), and other races move too quick, compared to them. Even so, Saruman learned a lot from them, and even if you disregard that, it’s THEIR forest he’s cutting to ribbons. He even cut up a few Huorns.

    So why? For a little speech? Geh. Though one has to wonder what was going on at all with the whole ‘Roar and summon Ents’ thing. What, were they following Treebeard?(That in itself makes one think that the ‘We don’t care’ was a put-on, but that doesn’t strike me as likely.)

  90. Deoxy says:

    “There are now 89 comments. My server weeps for mercy.”

    Bump to 90, because I wonder how high the little witty comments to the number of comments go…

  91. Deoxy says:

    “There are now 90 comments. My server weeps for mercy.”

    Darn, no change… anyone want to gt to 100?

  92. Cam says:

    First panel. It’s not ‘teaming’, it’s ‘teeming.’

    And this was a brilliant strip.

  93. capitain says:

    Brilliant strip.

    Deoxy Says:

    April 6th, 2007 at 12:21 pm
    “There are now 90 comments. My server weeps for mercy.”

    Darn, no change… anyone want to gt to 100?

    Don´t you think aiming for the 100, thus crashing the server, comes very close to outsmarting the DM? This usually leads to… difficulties.

  94. Flexstyle says:

    BRILLIANT placement of the bomb event!

  95. Huckleberry says:

    ” “There are now 89 comments. My server weeps for mercy.”
    Bump to 90, because I wonder how high the little witty comments to the number of comments go… ”

    ” “There are now 90 comments. My server weeps for mercy.”
    Darn, no change… anyone want to gt to 100? ”

    Have a look at comic No 80; There are 103 comments there (at least right now), and the line reads:

    “103? OVER A HUNDRED COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?”

    And I just guess that’s the last of the pre-programmed ones :)

  96. Talitha says:

    I would have had them keep attacking the wall until their dead formed a ramp to the top of the wall.

    Funny you should say that…

  97. Scott says:

    Classic. I’m dying here!

  98. Alex says:

    What happen? Somebody set us up the bomb!

  99. Thilandor says:

    “Name one thing you’re gonna need this stupid fucking rope for.” -Boondock Saints :)

  100. Miral says:

    I agree with Brave Sir Robin (way back in comment #38): Gimli’s plan wouldn’t work unless you got almost all the defenders on the ropes to pull the ladders in (and hence not defending the walls), since the movie showed quite clearly that the ladders were usually pre-loaded with several orcs before they even hit the wall, meaning that you’d have to pull in not just the weight of the ladder itself but also the weight of all those orcs and their armour. That’s pretty heavy.

    PS: 100 comments ;)

  101. Max says:

    Do you know how much each of those ladders would weigh, loaded with orcs all the way up? The DM is right – they don’t have enough leverage. A crew with ropes could lift a ladder a few feet off the ground, but then what? They’ll never get it all the way up. They’d need a full block and tackle anchored solidly to the wall above and behind them at the right height and angle. Then they could get ONE ladder, plus attacks from all the orcs who are riding up on it. They couldn’t get another ladder without taking the block and tackle down and remounting it somewhere else.

  102. Toil3T says:

    What about a levitation-type spell? That’d get the ladder up. Or you could burn them with a Burning Hands spell… I should be writing this down, we have a seige coming up.

    Great comic, by the way.

  103. TheDeepDark says:

    I must refer again to a “campaign” that got its start with a group that so thoroughly went around the GMs plan from the beginning as to get a completely different outcome for the mission. Stuff like that is part of why our GM likes running the game (or so he tells me). He doesn’t have to provide the Whole path, just a general direction – and it makes it as exciting for him to see where it ends up as for the players.

  104. wyrwolf says:

    Ah yes. Outnumbered 100 to 1. The teeming horde milling around the base of the keep. Hours of tactical maneuvering on the part of the DM to bring it about. Hours more to set up the miniatures while the low-level PCs desperately search for an outcome that doesn’t involve final death of the entire party. One neophyte wizard’s web spell lit on fire doing 2 rounds of damage to 80% of the attackers. 1 minute to put it all back in the pack.

  105. Majka says:

    marry me!

  106. nitefly says:

    Classic example of poor gamemastering.

  107. E says:

    I would have NEVER thought of pulling the ladders up….then again, I guess thats why I’m always the fighter type. Brilliant, this is my third time reading through this!!!

  108. JD says:

    This.. BY FAR! Is the best one yet! I’m loving it!

  109. Eric says:

    It’s a matter of leverage. You can’t lift 20 orcs on a ladder. But you can tip it over much more easily. You have several feet of vertical length to help you tip it while the orcs only have a few feet of horizontal length and their wieght to prevent it from tipping. Though if they set it at a good angle, then they got more horizontal and you’re pretty screwed in the tipping department.

    EDIT: Oh wait, if you had 50 men pulling it and some rope… Maybe they brought extra ladders?

  110. Robin says:

    The defenders have just as many people at the top of the ladder as the orcs do at the bottom of the ladder. If the orcs can push it up into position, then the defenders can lift it up out of position.

    (When I first saw the movie, I pointed out that there was no way the orcs could push the orc-loaded ladders *into* place, but if they can move it, so can the defenders.)

    1. WJS says:

      Ridiculous. It’s much easier to drag something around than to lift it clean off the ground, and as the DM says, they have no leverage. If you don’t understand the concept of leverage, you are not qualified to state that it’s possible.

  111. Sam-Chan says:

    wow, what an idea…

    but it is true, players love to show their great idea to THE OTHER PLAYERS. they don’t want to insult or depress the dm, I am sure.

    don’t think that bad of your players, they are playing your campaing because of fun!^^

    SAM

  112. Kasper says:

    I recently did this to an A.
    “A huge rock blocks the entrance, right? We don’t need to finish that golem we might be attacked by afterwards, even if the DM is hinting at it. We take the coal from the boiler room, light up a huge stack on one side of the rock, and take an eight hour rest. Then douse it with water, making it shatter.”

    DM decided my character didn’t have the intelligence to come up with that plan. And the INT 18 character was played by a guy who honestly didn’t understand the concept. Foiled again.

  113. Runolfr says:

    Trying to pull up the ladder wouldn’t work anyway (says a fellow DM). Just how are the two or three people who might be able to get their hands on the ladder going to haul it up with the weight of several orcs on it?

  114. d'Antarel says:

    I love how you allow your DM to contradict himself in this comic. Earlier at the threshold of Moria, you say there are no explosives (with a “duh” added on to it), then here comes this Orc with a bomb. You can’t even say it’s because they had a wizard because Gandalf the Grey was with the party at the gates of Moria. Way. 2. Be.

  115. Bryan says:

    The only time I (as a GM) ever pulled a “that won’t work” on the players was when one of them decided to test a magical girdle they found on nearby animals. I let him try on several animals. My reasoning was that a human-sized belt won’t fit a dog or a pig or a horse. Then the guards came and arrested him. It turns out that the local animal OWNERS didn’t like the mage experimenting on their animals. The mage guild he belonged to was forced to give him a trial, and he was forced to pay for all the animals he experimented with.

    There is nothing a GM can do that is more evil than letting the PCs have their way. Good times!

  116. Damien says:

    Hmm, lets see, players lifting up the ladders. Appart from the fact that 10,000 orcs would come with more than a couple of ladders, and the fact that it’s a siege and the ones at the back can always just make more ladders, there’s also the issue of the orcs ON the ladders. I’d definately have orcs clinging to the ladders as they came up and of course when they get to the top, what are the people closest to them doing? Pulling up ladders! I’d say that would count for a free attack, instant loss of initiative maybe in the next round. It’s hard work lifting ladders and orcs standing on a narrow battlement!

  117. Skippy le Grand Gourou says:

    Well, well, well. I have to comment this one. Not that I have anything to say, but anyway.

    Ok, I admit : this is my favorite so far…

    And, I mean, now I understand why they use bombs in the movie… xD

  118. Serenity Bane says:

    AHAHAHAHA YES!

  119. DenverT says:

    ticked off my dm when i found the rulebook doesn’t have a really specific limiter on what you can pull from a bag-o-holdin in a minor action… enter me, the caster preist, buying 20 kite sheilds, and throwin them in the bag… soon enough some warlocks started pikin us off from range and i was at 2 health… BOOMPH i curl up in a fetal position(prone = +2 against ranged attacks and a -2 against close range.) and…….Grab all 20 shields from the bag for 100% cover while i slowly used my heals to hp up… :P

    later i used a similer tactic with gunpowder(it had handcannons, emerging weapons.)…gunpowder and more gundowder… and a fire charm. Ah, it seems you have me cornered away from my group. Mr. evil, ridiculously overpowered boss dude… well, looks like im gunna die. my turn? ok, im just gunna pull my little bag here and *BOOMPH* (were both up to necks in explosives)”SEE YOU IN HELL”…oh wait im a priest, so t looks like your gunna be there ALL ALONE”

  120. Erika says:

    HAHA you have no idea how many times I’ve outsmarted the DM! She HATES it!! xD

  121. Rose says:

    XD Gimli is to die for.

  122. Do you accept guest posts? I like the taste how you wrote DM of the Rings LXXXIII:Ladder Game – Twenty Sided, I’m in this topic for ages and I would love to write few stories here in case you agree with me.

  123. readerzzz says:

    Leverage? Heh, Leggylass knows all about that. He taught it to the guy who taught him about parley.

  124. Joe says:

    I used to enjoy being outsmarted…most of the time. Then I got better at developing plotlines and didn’t want to railroad, and suddenly it was frustrating and I had to get used to pushing them back in line. A couple of times Rocks Fell Everybody Died, but I eventually got really good at nudging dice rolls.
    “I get a Reflex save, right?”
    “Yeah, let’s see…uh-oh, a one. That’s critical failure.”
    “There’s critical failure on saving throws?”
    “Yep. You dodge so clumsily that the lightning strikes you twice.”
    “That’s…pretty clumsy.”

  125. PaulR says:

    Hard to imagine you missed this opportunity…

    The very first time I ever saw the movie, the rain starts coming down and Theoden rolls his eyes, all I could hear in my head was:

    “Could be worse–could be raining!”

    (But as you’ve barely introduced Theoden at all, and as an NPC, having him make a smart remark would be [ahem] out of character, I suppose.)

  126. Blas de Lezo says:

    Man! This one rocks!! I’ve had worse DM though! Keep on thinking about that the DM of the Conan or the DM of the Willow I told you! ;P

  127. Nami says:

    My favorite thing about this one was how happy Legolas looked when he was saying he had rope, he’s like I’M CONTRIBUTING! 8D!

  128. I entirely realize every one of the things that you have stated. That is truly helpful details and I feel I’ll be maintaining almost all of it in thoughts.

  129. Daniel B says:

    One of the few missed opportunities here. Legolas should have argued he at least deserves a chance to try and stop it, so he rolls a spot check, sees the bomb-carrying orc, and rolls two hits but both damages are so low that he still fails.

  130. WJS says:

    I would seriously question the feasibility of demolishing a wall like that. Remember black powder doesn’t detonate, it deflagrates. In an opening that size I wouldn’t expect to get nearly enough overpressure to destroy the wall like that. In historical siegework, engineers would use bombs sure, but they were placed in tunnels under the walls and they would crater the foundations causing the wall to collapse, not simply blow them up outright.

  131. Robert Bannister says:

    I am getting so far behind in my reading of this classic. Is it available in book form?

  132. Durak says:

    Aragorn: “So, this world has gunpowder? Hmm…”

    DM: “Oh, it’s um, only just been invented. By Saruman. And no, your side doesn’t have any.”

    Gimli: “I start organising a sortie to take control of the enemy’s bombs.
    Or could Legolas shoot that far? Have we got flaming arrows on hand?”

    DM: “It’s raining!”

    Legolas: “Then the wet gunpowder shouldn’t be working anyway.”

    Aragorn: “Once we get saved by some NPC ex machina, we should really steal this wizard’s recipe. Even the ‘soldiers’ we’ve got here would do pretty well if they had muskets.”

    DM: ‘But-”

    Legolas: ‘Yes, we don’t need
    Dave’s ring anymore – we’ll just shoot Mt. Scary with cannons.
    This plot twist is genius!”

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