DM of the Rings LXXXIX:
Killing Time

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Apr 18, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 130 comments

Aragorn is bored with the battle.

 


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130 thoughts on “DM of the Rings LXXXIX:
Killing Time

  1. Richardmaz says:

    how sad first lol

  2. Jeremiah says:

    And that’s why mass combat rules were invented. :)

    1. Kunou says:

      Except when you actually use the full mass combat rules with formations and units of varying numbers and all that you get a set of rules more complicated than grapples and opportunity attacks. I played several huge battles but by the end of a few Dynasty Warriors looking battles we agreed that it was better to just have a battle going on behind the party and have us fight two or three enemies of a slightly higher caliber.

  3. Tower says:

    Truly, the strain of coming up with a description of the latest attack in any particular d&d battle can quickly become terrible. I always seem to fall into the rut of {hit for 30% of hp= Shoulder Wound} {hit for 50% of hp= bloody chest wound} {hit for 100% of hp= Decapitation} Oh how frighteningly long it takes before players tire of magic missile and beer mug decapitations.

    1. StarSword says:

      Fallout 3, anyone? Beheading somebody with a high-velocity teddy-bear is beyond hilarious.

  4. Issachar says:

    Heh. LOVE the contrast between Legolas’ player and the other guys. Also, “I hate this campaign” is a great running gag. I love it whenever someone says that.

  5. Mordaedil says:

    I wanna STAB HIM!!

  6. DB says:

    Wait, isn’t Legolas now making a called shot. He could actually miss!

  7. Erin Storts says:

    Yes, but if it’s a called shot, shouldn’t Leggylass get a bonus?

  8. Prawninator says:

    Gosh, Legolas looks excited to shoot one in the eye!

    Does surface area account for anything in a called shot, by the way? Because if they’re trying to aim for an eye (or even a nostril) they might be in trouble if surface area is taken into account.

    Sometimes, I’m like Aragorn. “I swing. I kill. Die.” Rinse, lather, repeat. Now, with 20% more dice!

  9. The Gneech says:

    Their gear did change at Helm’s Deep … so they must get -some- kind of loot from this fight!

    -The Gneech

  10. xargon says:

    If Aragorn had taken Cleave, then the descriptions would be a little more interesting.

  11. Scarlet Knight says:

    Must …not…post. Must …wait… for Steve…I am…loyal…

  12. Rico says:

    Another good one. The guy playing Legolas has such a good attitude about things.

  13. Oona says:

    LOL! Another good one! I think the shooting an orc in the eye thing is more based on how great an archer Legolas is. When he hits and does enough damage to kill the orc outright, it’s always in the eye…just like the descriptions are always the same for the fighters. Anyway, love Lego’s enthusiasm!
    Thanks, Shamus!

  14. Blindeye says:

    I would so hate to have a player like Aragorn in my party… But then again, every time I run my Exalted game and a fight happens, and I give a ruling that is very Exalted specific and not-DnD specific he goes “*sigh* I like DnD”

    It makes me sad. Well, I wanna play EXALTED, damnit!

  15. Jeremiah says:

    Yay, someone else that plays Exalted! We’re currently playing a pirate-themed Exalted game, with a bunch of Solars with compassion 1. It’s a lot of fun. Really. :)

  16. Steve says:

    Heh heh! Good one Shamus. This is why Call of Cthulhu DMs have more fun.

    “Okay, having only lost 3 SAN points and by some miracle not falling into a drooling heap at the mere sight of this whatever-it-is, I fire my shotgun. At point blank range.”

    You hit! Max damage! Good Game! A large segment of the foul blasphemy explodes from its body. As you hurriedly shield your face from the foul gelatinous goop that sprays out of the wound you are assailed by a foul stench of such nauseous quality that your senses reel!

    “Whatever. Is that a SAN save or some other inconvenience?”

    I said SENSES didn’t I? Constitution saves all round to avoid some sort of incapacitating reaction!

    “Yeahyeahyeah. All done. It can have the other barrel now.”

    Your shotgun blasts out in vengeful fury!

    “Oh for the love of Azathoth. Did I kill it or not?”

    Stay tuned. The monstrous form lets out a howl that sends your mind reeling (NOW you get to roll SAN saves to avoid 1d3 sanity loss) and slumps to the floor in a heap!

    “1 SAN point down. BFD. Did the thing have any ite…”

    But what is this? Before you can move the squamous horror twitches then surges to its for-want-of-a-better-term feet, extrudes foul ichor-dripping claws and opens its maw revealing several rows of razor-edged teeth! As it’s foul breath rolls over you it unrolls its tongue – which resembles the end of a squid’s longer tentacles – and grabs you by the face!

    “WHAT? That’s bogus! How could it move so fast after I jack-o-lanterned it?”

    Sorry, can’t hear you. Your face is enwrapped in tentacle. WHo has the next strike rank?

    Steve.

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

    I figure a gurgling sound from the DM followed by the word “thud” ought to do it.

  18. Arbaal says:

    The look on Legolas’ face in the last panel is absolutely priceless!

  19. Doug Brown says:

    I was briefly and irrationally worried that this would be a code-based episode and therefore, like the preceding post, beyond my comprehension. Thankfully, I made my save.

  20. fair_n_hite_451 says:

    Curses. I didn’t get one of Steve’s rings. I want one. It’s mine, mine I say!

    Anyone wanna come on a nice fishing expedition? I promise I won’t knock you overboard accidentally, then throttle you when we get back to shore all soaked and excited to see the shiny thing we found…

  21. Namfoodle says:

    Hey, at least the DM is letting them roll dice and occasionally pick their own tactics. I knew a guy years ago who was famous for running his games like all the player characters were his NPCs. He would take both sides of a conversation between two player characters while the players were sitting at the table with him!

    I try to avoid playing cthulu, I always seem to wind up in games that are like “You open the door. You are dead.” And dammit, I only “peeked” through that door! But the cultist with the machine gun was still able to get off a TWENTY (?!?) shot burst at me. I suppose it could have been worse, as only SEVENTEEN freaking bullets hit me (a d20 for # of hits…WTF?)

    Although I did play live action cthulu at a con once, and that was pretty funny. Same thing, I opened the first door and died. Eaten by ghouls, don’t ya know. So I screamed. Loud. Really REALLY Loud. Some of the LARPers in the next room just about peed themselves, and the ghouls were suitibly impressed. It was rumored that hotel security was called to investigate. And although the party I was in got massacred and didn’t finish the scenario (shocking!) I still won a prize!

  22. Woerlan says:

    Now that is one PSYCHOTIC elf.

    The way that Gimli and Aragorn are talking, it’s like the DM wants to finish all 10,000 opponents. Looks like the players are getting fatigued instead of their characters.

  23. Nicely done, Nam! That’ll teach’em not to off your character so quickly!

  24. Salen says:

    The last panel is awesome. Always one person in the party will still want to shoot and kill more stuff even when the fight’s done, and be happy while doing it.

  25. wintersweet says:

    Yeah, great job on that Legolas frame!

    I was pretty leery of mass combat till we got to do it in L5R and Seventh Sea, and then it was actually fun.

  26. orcbane says:

    Good stuff, man. Its kind of sad to realize that you’re almost 2/3rds finished with this comic…

  27. Proteus says:

    The facial expressions were perfect on this one!

  28. Nigel D says:

    I had a character in Dream Park once who was like Legolas. She was a totally awesome archer, and repeatedly went for killing blows, which was necessary, since, in Dream Park, successfully making a killing blow increases your damage by 2 categories. She usually took a bow that dealt Deadly damage, so her killing blows counted as Extremely Deadly, where the rest of the party was mostly delivering Very Deadly damage. If she had taken the English longbow (a Very Deadly weapon), her killing blows would have been Super-Deadly (or something like that) and the GM would have killed her straight away. However, since the rest of the party were delivering VD damage, and ordinary Deadly damage blow would have been feeble (since the armour level of the victims … er, I mean opponents is set at a level appropriate for what most of the party can do).

    So she ended up being the party’s artillery piece. Until she tried to take out a dragon – she had two shots before it toasted her and missed with both of them.

  29. Lizzle says:

    once again… funniest yet. In all honesty, I didn’t really ‘get’ a lot of last week’s comics… I guess I’m the wrong type of nerd for the gamer jokes… but this is hillarious and once again astutely points out one of the only frustrating parts of the movies… endless, endless running through of orcs that actually got boring by ROTK.

    Love it

  30. *cheers*

    Another good one!

    I still love the way Legolas is done :D
    Lol, I’m just glad I don’t have a player like that :D

    And to do with the comic nearly being 2/3rds over,
    My vote is for a Star Wars comic next :D
    Luke Skywalker had some great facial expressions that would be perfect in still-shots.

  31. Asahina Akidai says:

    xargon: Tou mean if he had used it cause he has it as shown two comics ago.

  32. Jindra34 says:

    GOd this keeps going up… simplicity say i kill it… and last time i checked DnD did not have called shots… oh well…

  33. Gelatinous Cube says:

    I was amazed when Aragorn stole Legolass’ frase “I hate this campaign”, but it was totally hilarious, when Legolass came with his line. Seriously, this comic must be the best documentary of D&D playing.

    Oh, and Legolass is my absolute favorite character because (s)he remains myself so much that it’s getting scary.

  34. Bugsysservant says:

    Nice job with the second to last scene, Shamus. I was wondering why Anduril looked a little thick till I realized that the scene was actually the one where he was talking to that wretched long hair little child. Keep up good work.

  35. Dez says:

    “Nice job with the second to last scene, Shamus. I was wondering why Anduril looked a little thick till I realized that the scene was actually the one where he was talking to that wretched long hair little child. Keep up good work.” – Bugsysservant

    Good Eyes!!

    BTW Shamus, Convinently placed text box on the left hand side of this frame!! ;)

    D!

  36. Namfoodle says:

    In our current campaign, the DM almost never forces us to go through a combat with a huge number of low level enemies if it comes up in the modules he runs. It usually goes something like this:

    DM: “The room is filled with 30-40 zombies and ghouls…do you cast a 9d6 widened fireball?”

    Me: “Abso-f’n-lutely! Fire in the Hole!” (clatter of dice)

    DM: “Right then, after that, clean-up is quick and easy. Moving on. There is a passage leading…”

    Fights agains things like 11th level Wizard / Mindflayer are much more interesting.

  37. Bagpuss says:

    “Good stuff, man. Its kind of sad to realize that you're almost 2/3rds finished with this comic…”

    I wouldn’t say that he’s still got to do the Star Wars campaign with Frodo and Sam’s Player (there are six films to play with there).

  38. Telas says:

    “I wouldn't say that he's still got to do the Star Wars campaign with Frodo and Sam's Player (there are six films to play with there).”

    If Shamus doesn’t whack Jar-Jar in the first post, I’m leaving…

    Seriously.

  39. Telas says:

    Bah. I got so tied up in the comments that I forgot my post.

    To heck with Leggo-Lass’ frame. I like Aragormless going through the fight with his eyes closed…

    Telas

  40. LethalSpoon says:

    Being a very large (and yet skinny) Star Wars fan, I like the idea. Hopefully Shamus likes it too.

  41. melchar says:

    About ‘called shots’ – They are offered as an option in the ‘Fighters Handbook’ [2nd ed AD&D] – and you can do them in 3rd, too

    Best Cthulhu I ever reffed was at a convention where one guy insisted on buying 300′ of rope. He carried it wrapped around his body [so the other players called him ‘the spool’] – then while exporing a pyramid he fell in oil and got lit on fire. Burning merrily, the other players then called him ‘the wick’

    [Great expressions in this one!]

  42. Josh says:

    Hahaha, brilliant!

  43. Dave says:

    I wanna shoot one in the eye too!

  44. Browncoat says:

    In all the talk about what’s coming next, I’d like to cast my vote for the Serenity RPG. I know nothing about it, but surely our esteemed host could go buy it, read it, run through a campaign with Skeeve and the boys to get the feel for it, and produce a beautiful comic based on it with the 14 episode DVDs, the movie DVD, scans from the Those Left Behind comic book, still shots of Nathan Fillion and Jewel Stait from local area Shindigs, and video captures of the rest from Barney Miller, Independence Day, How I Met Your Mother, The Unit, and whatever else they’ve been in.

    If you need help, Shamus, I’ll lend you the ring that Steve gave me.

  45. Louis says:

    Yea, it’s a problem when the DM runs out of thing to say at kills.
    “Um…he died from the loss of nose?”

  46. davwalp says:

    Love it man. I can appreciate this one from both sides of the table.

  47. Da Rogue says:

    Hehe!
    That’s why fighter based characters are *boring*. All hack n slash. The class that DM of the Rings lacks is that of the great Rogue! Now that is a fun class to play.
    I suppose Archers come fairly close.

    You got to love the look on Legolas’ face.

  48. Darrett says:

    Chaosium Call of Cthulhu book keepers get to -really- have all the fun.

    Players get to look forward to the following:

    If you have to roll sanity, you’re probably dead. If a machine gun is involved, you’re probably dead. If you bring fire, you’re going to die. If you go off alone, you’re probably dead. If you go to sleep in any sort of strange surroundings, you’re probably dead. If you read a book that isn’t from the public library (And even some that are from there) you’re probably going to go insane, kill your party, and then die.

    And yet we almost always end up with someone who thinks they can play that game like Leggy does in the last panel. They’re the guys who are told to have at least 3 extra characters ready to go at any given time.

  49. Jindra34 says:

    So Darrett: what does not kill you in Call of Cthulhu?

    1. WJS says:

      Some of the sheep.

  50. Agent Oracle says:

    Brilliant and true. Get me through the horde of meaningless nearly-identical foes with as much expedience as possible please!

  51. Stephanie says:

    Oh, please, can we get out of the Battle of Helmsdeep already? It was interminable in the movie, and it’s heading that way here.

    (Love the comic, by the way, for all my whining. :->)

  52. Bugsysservant says:

    “Oh, please, can we get out of the Battle of Helmsdeep already? It was interminable in the movie, and it's heading that way here.”-Stephanie

    GAHHHH!!!! how can you say such blasphemous things!?!?!?!?!? The Battle of Helm’s Deep was one of the few points in the movie where the tedium of the journey of those oh-so-lovable perepetual itinerants, Frodo and Sam, was broken! Much as I love hours of Elijah Wood, staring into space for hours, I still breathe a sigh of relief at the temporary respite granted by even the most drawn out battles.

    But seriously, I love the movies, and watched The Two Towers just yesterday (though I had to pause it when I cracked up at Haldir’s facial expression. Curse you Shamus, ruining the drama of such a beautifully acted movie!)

  53. Bugsysservant says:

    Oops, one to many “hours” there. Ah well… teach me to post hastily.

  54. theonlymegumegu says:

    Is the DM using Rolemaster crit tables? XDDDD

  55. Hotaru says:

    Da Rogue: Hehe!
    That's why fighter based characters are *boring*. All hack n slash. The class that DM of the Rings lacks is that of the great Rogue! Now that is a fun class to play.
    I suppose Archers come fairly close.

    This is not completely true i love being a fighter with cleave and going up against quite a few opponents. i love fighting when i’m outnumbered really gets the imagination going. Rogue is fun too but eh… too weak to do what i like to do, which is charge in and carve a bloody path ^_^ and archers are pretty fun to pick enemies from a distance or lure them into a choke point where the fighters are hiding behind a wall or something.

  56. Deathblade_Penguin/Steve says:

    Three things to say today..

    (1) I hate being in Australia, I’m almost never first to post :( Reading through 55 comments and a comic is great but time consuming..

    (2) I have to disagree with Stephanie (Comment 51, Stephanie Says:
    Oh, please, can we get out of the Battle of Helmsdeep already? It was interminable in the movie, and it's heading that way here.)

    after Helm’s deep it’s all about walking, walking trees, walking through the halls of the dead, walking to minas tirth, walking to mordor.. walking walking walking walking (except, Gandalf who gets to ride a horse) so let’s drag out this battle as much as possible.

    (3) I hate to bring this up, STEVE, but i still have not recieved my shiny ring yet… is it in the mail?

    oh sorry

    (4) I love Legolassy look in the last shot too.. it’s great.. reminds me of my archer character who loved making those called shots except mine were mostly… I shoot him in the back….hehehehe

  57. Prawninator says:

    Aww come on Stephanie! A lot of humor was IN the Battle of Helmsdeep itself! .. even in the movie.

    Appreciate! ;)

  58. Tola says:

    “Oh, please, can we get out of the Battle of Helmsdeep already? It was interminable in the movie, and it's heading that way here.”-Stephanie

    Well, don’t worry.

    We’re almost done, at a guess. The wall’s been blown, and that means soon will be the retreat, and then Gandalf shows up. Whether we’ll switch to Merry and Pippin before then, I don’t know.

    Oh, and they’re finally going to get some levels. I’m surprised the player didn’t drop to his knee and start praising God that he’s finally going to get some EXP.

    And after this, he’ll soon get Anduril. The other players are probably going to hate him then.

    1. WJS says:

      You know that you don’t get XP for monsters much lower level than you, right? ;)

  59. Nefke says:

    Legolas pretty much uses the same vocabulary as I do at any fight! I allways shoot the opponent in the eye! (or at least I attempt to).

    :D great comic once again

  60. Jeff says:

    melchar:

    D&D 3.x has no called shots.
    See Sean Reynold’s article for a few reasons why:
    http://www.seankreynolds.com/rpgfiles/rants/calledshots.html

  61. moonglum says:

    You have all forgotten the rules of playing cuthulu.

    1. never be the first in the room
    2.Grab *ALL* of the books. don’t ready or exam them until you have your psychologist ready.
    3. You don’t have to run faster then the Dybuka, just faster then your friends.
    4. save the last bullet for your friends knee

  62. Bruce says:

    The problem with Sean Reynolds article is the way armour is used in D&D and the wording “harder to hit”. A good AC from armour means most of the blows a character takes in Combat will actually hit him, just not penetrate his armour, whereas a character who gets his AC from Dex dodges attacks and doesn’t get hit at all. In theory though, when he does get hit, he should take more damage as he has nothing to protect him once a blow lands. Unfortuntely D&D doesn’t work like that.

    When the character whose AC comes from armour does get hit, chances are it was the more exposed area that took the blow. If Bronn’s armour doesn’t protect him (i.e. successful attack roll), there could be a percentage chance he took it in the face or his unarmoured legs. Perhaps armour coverage could be used to reduce or eliminate the effects of certain critical hits or something.

    The armour AC doesn’t work with hit locations as armour in D&D doesn’t physically reduce damage from the blow. It either stops it totally or doesn’t stop it at all. Bronns breastplate is not harder to hit than his legs, but it is harder to damage. To hit his breastplate hard enough to sunder it, you’ve got to bypass his weapon, hit it at the right angle and with enough power to break it. Bronn is probably also aware of the draft round his legs and has modified his fighting style to protect them.

    A called shot should be particularly difficult during combat as instead of looking for any opening that appears you are waiting for a specific opening to appear.

    Where called shots could be used would be in the role-playing section of the game rather than full battle mode. Kneeing a guard in the knackers to escape, throwing beer in the face of an opponent. Perhaps using some sort of saving throw or dex check.

    1. Arkanabar says:

      This is one of the reasons I so love Earthdawn — armor reduces damage, and super-high hit rolls penetrate (ignore) armor. I believe GURPS may be similar, but it’s just not as EPIC as Earthdawn.

    2. WJS says:

      There’s a D&D variant rule that makes armour make a bit more sense by having some of it’s AC bonus give DR instead.

    3. WJS says:

      Oh, and the “harder to hit” armour theory makes perfect sense considering what fighting in armour is like. You’re aiming at the weak points at the joints. If you hit, you bypass the armour and deal full damage. If you miss, your attack glances away for no damage. With an unarmoured guy, it’s much easier to just skewer him, but that shouldn’t do any more damage than slipping your blade up the armpit of a guy in field plate, say.

      This is, of course, based off of longsword versus plate. If you have a mace, you just bash clean through the plates. If the other guy is wearing maille, you just stab clean through it. Thus, the “armour as DR” rule is a good compromise, and a hell of a lot simpler than table upon table of weapon vs. armour modifiers.

  63. Margaret says:

    I can’t wait to see how you bring the other guys back into the story.

    And I agree, Great selections for the panels. Especially Legolas.

  64. Scarlet Knight says:

    “Da Rogue Says:That's why fighter based characters are *boring*. All hack n slash.”

    Oh come on! Only fighters can answer the great question: “What is best in life?” with “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women. …

    Hey, that’s an idea! Maybe Frank will return to the game and want to play a barbarian. Then you can splice Conan shots in where faramir shots should be!

    “The class that DM of the Rings lacks is that of the great Rogue!”
    Well, now Shamus will have to bring Merry back; someone has to backstab the Lord of the Nazgul for a whole lotta damage!

  65. General Ghoul says:

    62 Bruce Says:
    “A good AC from armour means most of the blows a character takes in Combat will actually hit him, just not penetrate his armour, whereas a character who gets his AC from Dex dodges attacks and doesn't get hit at all. In theory though, when he does get hit, he should take more damage as he has nothing to protect him once a blow lands.”

    I think of it as the DEX character dodged, but didn’t get far enough away, so a slight blow might scrap him, where a mighty blow really whacks him. Whereas a armored character might take a glancing blow that hits his armor, but leaves a bad bruise underneath, where a big hit might find a weak spot or even pierce the armor. Now, lets get confusing when a sword hit on plate might break a bone, but maybe to character has damage reduction vs bludgeoning, but the sword is slashing weapon.

    I’ll crawl back in my grave now.

  66. superfluousk says:

    After all that time spent complaining about no combat encounters. Now they get their fill, and all Aragorn can do is complain complain. Never happy, is he :)

  67. Auke says:

    Hee hee. Legolas is so cute.

    …I can't wait to see how you bring the other guys back into the story…

    Maybe they won’t come back, and the current players have to take over their characters for a while to make the story fit.

    That might explain Merry and Pippin’s sudden heroic impulses:

    “I charge at the witch-king of Angmar, brandishing my dwarven battle-axe!”

    “Okay, you charge him, but you can only brandish your hobbit shortsword, remember?”

    “O yeah. Uh… Can I still run away without provoking an attack of opportunity?”

    On playing Call of Cthulhu: I thought the trick was to make up a convenient excuse to not come to the gaming sessions where big confrontations will take place. Your character will probably be made to ‘stand guard at the entrance’ or ‘wait with the getaway car’, but you will avoid the sanity-wracking horrors. Then, during the next session, you can liberate your drooling, exhausted, wounded friends of their loot at your leisure…

  68. Steve says:

    Jindra34 Says:

    So Darrett: what does not kill you in Call of Cthulhu?

    Some of the rocks. Most of the time.

    Seriously, you are playing in the wrong Call of Cthulhu games. My motto (as a Call of Cthulhu “Keeper”) is “If you kill your players, you can’t drive them insane. Where’s the fun in that?”

    [Shamus]

    While realising that you almost have an obligation to follow Dave and Whathisface into their Star Wars game, I think a worthy successor to DMotR would be something more obscure. A RPG so rare that the players suckered into DMorR would fall for it in a heartbeat just to see how it worked (only to get scr*wed all over again of course).

    I speak, of course, of Judge Dredd.

    Steve.

  69. Vegedus says:

    We have a number of DMs where I play. One of them, the older one, who is suppose to be like the “sensei” of us all, almost never describe anything. We never know what happens when we roll, and we usually have to wring any descriptions of the room we are in etc. out of him. Suffice to say, it makes it all rather lifeless.
    I take the complete opposite approach and describe way too much, like the DM in the comic. I think the trick is to only describe what’s happening, when something interesting is actually happening. Describe when someone crits, when someone fumbles, when a speacial PC or NPC dies or when someone fails or succeds at doing something unusual.

  70. Scarlet Knight says:

    Uh, Steve? You know, if I could have my long necked, flying, riding beastie now, instead of waiting for Christmas, I COULD deliver Deathblade_Penguin/Steve’s shiny ring to for you…
    (Good Lord! Now I’m even role-playing my comments!)

  71. Bugsysservant says:

    “The problem with Sean Reynolds article is the way armour is used in D&D and the wording “harder to hit”. A good AC from armour means most of the blows a character takes in Combat will actually hit him, just not penetrate his armour, whereas a character who gets his AC from Dex dodges attacks and doesn't get hit at all. In theory though, when he does get hit, he should take more damage as he has nothing to protect him once a blow lands. Unfortuntely D&D doesn't work like that.”-Bruce

    Good God, don’t start that. If you start distinguishing between the actual effects of dexterity based protection, and armor based prtoection, you get a sort of “Siege of Avalon” type system where really good armor makes you phenomenally easy to hit, but reduces the damage by percents. Each piece of armor you wear would have two dozen different scores for what percent and type of energy it reduces (slashing, piercing, fire, holy, etc.) and by how much. This results in the incredably drawn out situation where after every damage roll you roll a d% to find out how much is actually dealt. Combine this with multiple rolls for weapons with different damage types (a morningstar, for instance) and combat would double in length at least.

  72. ohnoabear says:

    “If you start distinguishing between the actual effects of dexterity based protection, and armor based prtoection[sic], you get a sort of “Siege of Avalon” type system where really good armor makes you phenomenally easy to hit, but reduces the damage by percents.”

    Or you could just make armor do straight damage reduction, like it does in Guardians or Order’s d20-based system for A Game of Thrones. If you want to get fancy, you could even have different types of armor reduce more or less from different types, but it’s not required (especially in AGOT, where you only have to worry about slashing, piercing and bludgeoning damage).

    Damage reduction systems are a lot simpler than you’re letting on, and make a lot more sense, in my opinion.

  73. Steve says:

    I think that the AC system is no less realistic than a system like Warhammer that requires separate “hit” and “wound” rolls. Factoring both concerns into one score is abstract but not limiting since it leaves the players/DMs the freedom of interpreting the “miss”.

    I absolutely agree that AC, building as it does mainly (but not exclusively) from “hardening” effects (helmets, armour, magic armouring and so forth) should sometimes mean that a miss is a hit that does no damage. It is up to the DM to assess any other effects that might accrue from such non-damaging hits if the players want that level of detail. Alternately, if a DM has a really good RP group he or she can throw the interpretation and possible side effects open to the player affected. Whatever works.

    Many people complain that D&D and D20 D&D in particular are “unrealistic” because the game system allows players to become God-like and encourages munchkin tactics. I say that these things are always controlable, but taht the milieu is *Heroic* fantasy, not SCA “realism” fantasy, and that allows some assuptions to be made, namely:

    1) The interesting characters (i.e. the players and villains) will be larger than life
    2) The good guys will get more breaks than the redshirt bad guys (i.e. the DM will occasionally cut players some slack while not giving the orccs the same leeway)
    3) At the end of the day, it isn’t meant to be taken seriously. The point of Beowulf is the moral, not the physics of the monster killing

    That said, in any game system you only get out what you put in. If the game system is not working for you the first thing you should do as a group is sit down and discuss the problem areas and see if they can’t be addressed with a few tweaks.

    Failing that, go and play Mech Warrior instead.

    Steve.

  74. Nogard Codesmith says:

    re: armor, hits and damage.

    Back in the old days of D&D we always considered hit rolls to not represent a single strike, but a series of blows as part of a combat exchange. So yes, the heavy armor wearer is turning most of the hits, and the high dex char is dodging most of them. It always seemed better being a little more ambiguous. Once you start getting specific with things like hit locations and armor as DR, and saying that each attack is a single blow rather than a sequence of strikes, you either have to fix the rules to match the “reality” of combat, or suspend disbelief.

  75. Rolld20 says:

    Hmm. Maybe it’s just me, but Aragorn’s screen shots here look really… coquettish to me. :\

    The next time I watch these movies I’m gonna laugh at all sorts of inappropriate times. My husband’s gonna be totally disgusted. :D

    (BTW, is everyone else getting the same anti-spam word each time? The first time I noticed it, I thought the computer was trying to talk to me.)

  76. Steve says:

    [Anti-spam] This is the second time someone has decided to discuss the capcha result in the forum (where it can be scanned for using a contextualy-sensitive perl script with ease).

    Please hush. There is no need to discuss it. Just use it and remember that spam has the capability to shut the site down. That means no more DMotR.

    It turns out that most sites can reduce persistent robospam by over 80% using a one-result “capcha”. Hooda guessedit?

    If it’s stopping spam, it’s working. I’m sure Shamus will yell if it isn’t. Let’s not give the bad guys any more clues.

    Steve.

  77. Steve says:

    [Rolld20] And bring me a donut, minion of the ring! The sort with sugar, not sprinkles. And I don’t like that nasty yellow glue you get inside some of them either. Or chocolate. No chocolate.

    Steve, Lord of Darkness.

  78. Shamus says:

    Steve: More like 99.9%. I used to get about 1,000+ a day. I have gotten one this week. Amazing, really.

  79. Johnny B says:

    In response to the Fighter vs Rogue debate, I’m currently running a Rogue where I put a ton of points into Tumble. Because of that, I have become truly effective in a group where we really don’t have a “Fighter”. So I would argue that rogues can be just as effective if you use a little tactics and skill (especially when the sneak attack dmg comes into play).
    Thanks for this website though. It has provided me with tons of laughter every day at work (with everyone around me wondering why). Being a huge fan of both LOTR and DnD, this strip is hilarious. Even the comments have me rolling from time to time. I hope a Star Wars one is done too, since I can see so many comments coming from the “newer” episodes. Keep up the great work!!

  80. shard says:

    Ha!!!… you feel more experienced… lolx.. that’s one rebuttal I would never have seen coming… hahah

  81. Tess says:

    Shamus: 1,000+??? Good grief!! All hail to “capcha”!!!

  82. Scarlet Knight says:

    Location: Maingate , Mordor.

    Me: *Ding Dong* Minion Delivery. I have an order of donuts, no sprinkles, for Steve.

    Guard: Go on in. Tower in the center.

    Me: I’m not going in there!

    Guard : Why not?

    Me: It’s dark!

  83. Chris says:

    re: D&D armor

    I made a relatively simple modification in the game I’m running to convert part of armor based AC to DR. Works pretty well. Players sometimes get annoyed that their arrows aren’t very effective against well armored opponents, but they seem to be pretty happy that their armor makes them largely immune to e.g. darts thrown by kobolds. To keep things interesting, crits bypass armor based DR (in addition to dealing more damage).

  84. Steve says:

    That’s it! I’m done with this so-called “Ring of Power” horseshirt!

    First a whole buch of them go missing and UPS denies responsibility. I’ve spent hours on that bloody so-called “tracking” website and as far as I can tell the missing rings have somehow ended up on eBay, where shill-bidding has them going for about the same price as a copy of Men and Magic with both Gygax and Arneson’s autographs on it.

    Then one of the minions brings me Dunkin’ Donuts and I wanted Krispy Kreme. Clearly the bandwidth on these things isn’t what it was cracked up to be in the spec.

    And the icing on the cake: Darkenna must’ve put hers in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. I attempted to dominate her will this morning and all my fillings promptly fell out.

    So much for binding them, in darkness or any other ambient luminance situation. The whole thing has been an expensive boondoggle of the first order and I still wasn’t first in!

    Krom alone knows how I’m going to make the payments on all those Minions of Steve playsets I advance ordered.

    Steve.

  85. Bugsysservant says:

    RE: AC vs. DR

    Just to reduce confusion I am all for having DMs describe hitting armor with no damage sustained, what I am opposed to is builiding into the rules. While it makes no sense that encasing oneself with heavy metal lets one somehow move faster to avoid being hit, but by incorporating it into an already fairly complex system I think it will serve only to slow down combat. Otherwise I am all for a little creative descriptions on the part of DMs.

  86. luxangelus says:

    15 more posts and maybe we get to se the d% dice next to the comments

  87. Jindra34 says:

    OOhhh… FUN d% FUN

  88. Nogard Codesmith says:

    i’ll contribute to the effort to get to comment 100+

  89. bruce says:

    Lets see if we can hit that d%.

    Technically, smacking someone in face who is wearing an open helmet and smacking someone in the face who isn’t wearing a helmet is exactly the same. I mean you’re aiming at the same spot.

    There seems to be two issues here.

    1. Describing a critical hit (i.e. okay you rolled a whatever, your arrow pierces his eye, he screams once and drops to the ground)

    2. Aiming at a particular spot (i.e. his helmet has a split visor, I’ll aim for his eye).

    With 1, you’re just describing what happens when the dice rolls a certain number. You could just as easily have said pierced his throat as he looked up, or shot him in the heart through the missing disc in his scale armour or struck him in the groin after the arrow riccoceted off the ground up under his chainmail skirt.

    With 2 however you need a whole set of rules to this as the AC system is not designed to deal with this amount of detail, other than saying okay, roll a critical hit and thats what happens. The AC system simulates a few seconds of whirling blades and circling opponents looking for a weakness in their foes defense to land a telling blow. Once you try and break it down into more detail than that it fails to work and you need a different method. The problem is that if you make it easier than normal combat, everyones going to do it and if you make it harder than actual combat, no-ones going to do it. Do you want all your combats being delicately scripted battles or a mass of die rolls with the occasional gory death. Perhaps a small +1 bonus for characters who attempt something different to reward their ingenuity?

  90. Jindra34 says:

    ok bruce i’ll take your word for it…

  91. Joshua says:

    As far as the hit description, when I DM’d, I always kept a rough breakdown of AC in the order of:
    1. Dodge and Dexterity Bonuses
    2. Shield Bonus
    3. Deflection Bonus
    4. Armor Bonus
    5. Natural Armor Bonus.

    So, if someone needed a 17 to hit you and they rolled a 6, they straight missed you, if they rolled a 10, they would have hit you but you dodged out of the way, with a 12 your shield blocked it, a 16 and the axe went through your armor but bounced off your barkskin, etc. Before anyone thinks that I’m being pedantic or slowed combat down, keep in mind that I meant a “rough” mental breakdown, which obviously is easier to do with low-level characters than with higher level ones and all their magic crap. Also, it doesn’t have to be exact, just a rough approximation.

    I came up with this little free-form system after a number of DMs who say things like “you(he) just barely miss(es) him(you)” when the roll was 1 off or so. I was thinking, “No, this is past missing, this is having the weapon deflected off the armor.”

  92. Joshua says:

    Also, this is an interesting companion strip compared to this one:
    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=719

  93. Zippy Wonderdog says:

    Ooo thats reminds me of when I was playing a D&D cleric, the DM went into this thorough and detailed description of our party being surrounded by a literal horde of zombies. I won initiative and rolled really well for turn…. and that was the last horde of zombies I ever saw.
    It was all greater undead and constructs after that :(

  94. Jindra34 says:

    Nice story Zippy

  95. Bugsysservant says:

    Does anybody know if the site, for 100 posts, uses d% or the actual d100?

  96. Shamus says:

    The 100 die shows, although photoshopped a bit so the 100 is big enough to read. If you go back to just before Helm’s Deep there are a couple of posts that have over 100 comments.

  97. Jindra34 says:

    Which one SPecifally should we go back to?

  98. Darrett says:

    [i] Some of the rocks. Most of the time.

    Seriously, you are playing in the wrong Call of Cthulhu games. My motto (as a Call of Cthulhu “Keeper”) is “If you kill your players, you can't drive them insane. Where's the fun in that?” [/i]

    Well, most of the time when we die it’s because we go insane and get eaten by something. Or someone.

    The rest of the time we die it’s because someone -else- goes insane and shoots us because they brought a shotgun. We always have bad luck when people bring shotguns.

  99. Jindra34 says:

    DArrett: Then why do you go andbring shotguns?

  100. Bugsysservant says:

    Scr*w # 1! I’m nmber 100!!! Can I now roll twice (disregarding a result of 100)?

  101. Jindra34 says:

    OK… now lets go for 200…

  102. Isoyami says:

    @Bruce (89)

    *smiles brightly* Where’s the sheep dip?

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist!

    Australia, Australia, Gor Blesser!

    *ducks*

  103. rosignol says:

    The armor discussion is making me nostalgic for THAC0.

    Re CoC: you’re playing it wrong. The rules, as described by Brian of KODT:

    1) stay in the back of the party
    2) with your eyes closed
    3) burn all books
    4) don’t use the magic items

    Follow those rules, and your chances of remaining sane and alive increase dramatically…. I’ve tried it, it works. ;-D

  104. Agent Oracle says:

    Heh heh, I love how many responces this has drawn. You got Rpg-netted!

  105. Deathblade_Penguin/aka Minion of Darkness says:

    Anartica, 2007.
    Deathblade Penguin is now the proud owner of one (slightly used) shiny ring which he recently purchased on Ebay. YAY, Deathblade_penguin, Minion of darkness and weilder of the one true ring*

    * Nb: exact properties of the ring still be investigated.

    Now Rise up, other Minions of Darkness and we three (Scarlet Knight, Browncoat and I) can overthrow Steve and his odd donut fixation…

    (who says it’s too early to stab)

    and serious.. what 55 comments a day is a little much for me to catch up on..

  106. Gandalf The Monk says:

    Re the Sean Reynolds article/AC/Called Shot debate…
    Ahem
    *Stands on a Soapbox*

    These things (and HP…god I hate hit points) constitute most of the reason I stopped playing D&D shortly after 3.5 came out. While the combat system is fast and simple, if you want ANY granularity or increased complexity for any reason, you have to start making up rules or pulling them out of 1st and 2nd edition, which doesn’t usually work very well. The Hero system has alternatives which would be easy to port into D&D, if one was so inclined.
    1. Make AC bonus’s (boni? boneese?) function like DR/- instead of adding to AC. Trust me, it won’t slow combat down any more than the average addition/subtraction of hp tracking allready does – which it doesn’t.
    2. Create some form of a called shot/strike location table or chart which can be used for two things:
    2a. When a called shot is made, you refer to it to see the Hit Roll penalties and any benefits (such as extra damage, ignore armor, impairment)
    2b. Optionally you could roll on it with every attack roll for a quick description of where you hit them – and use the benefit or not (I’d say save the benefits for called shots)
    Lessee, this takes care of repetitive descriptions (for any combat of reasonable length), called shots, some of AC realism. Leaves D&D with a lot of problems left if you ask me, but I’m sure I’ll get flamed for this anyhow, so I don’t really care. I just felt like letting y’all know there are solutions out there if you are just a bit creative. And if there’s anything that we gamers have an abundant excess of, it would be imagination.

    *steps off soapbox, dons flame-retardant poncho*

  107. Aaron says:

    “In all the talk about what's coming next, I'd like to cast my vote for the Serenity RPG. I know nothing about it, but surely our esteemed host could go buy it, read it, run through a campaign with Skeeve and the boys to get the feel for it, and produce a beautiful comic based on it with the 14 episode DVDs, the movie DVD, scans from the Those Left Behind comic book, still shots of Nathan Fillion and Jewel Stait from local area Shindigs, and video captures of the rest from Barney Miller, Independence Day, How I Met Your Mother, The Unit, and whatever else they've been in.”

    I’m a HUGE fan of Serenity, and I bought the RPG the moment it hit my local game store. I’d be willing to sell you my firstborn (though my wife might have a bit of issue with that) if you made a strip about it! :D

    You always manage to photocapture the absolute best facial frames for the characters. Aragorn’s boredom is spectacular!

  108. Bruce says:

    102 Isoyami Says:

    April 20th, 2007 at 12:00 am
    @Bruce (89)

    *smiles brightly* Where's the sheep dip?

    Sorry, I couldn't resist!

    Australia, Australia, Gor Blesser!

    *ducks*

    Hey, it’s scottish Bruce if you don’t mind, so Kilts, Och Ai the Noo and an inablitity to win international football matches if you don’t mind… !;o)

  109. Steve says:

    Darrett Says:
    Well, most of the time when we die it's because we go insane and get eaten by something. Or someone.
    The rest of the time we die it's because someone -else- goes insane and shoots us because they brought a shotgun. We always have bad luck when people bring shotguns.

    Nonononono. No. When people go insane there is no need to kill them at all. With all due respect this is lazy keeping.

    People going bonkers are usually allowed to flee or are captured in my games. Indeed, if a party flees and leaves a madder behind there are all sorts of possibilities I can use. If I just kill the poor drooling boob that’s all she wrote. After an evening with Nyarlathotep or the insidious Tcho-Tcho that investigator is a game asset beyond price. At the very least I have a new adventure seed – Rescue Poor Sid Before The Cultists Use Him As A Sacrifice To Call [insert favourite squamous horror from the pits of hell].

    The only time a motion-challenged dung-eater is absolutely dead and no mulligans in one of mine would be if said investigator took leave of his or her senses in close proximity to a Great Old One which was already on it’s way over to have a chat with them. Otherwise we go with “ant on the sidewalk” philosophy – not moving so not noticed.

    Steve.

  110. Steve says:

    Aaron Says:
    I'm a HUGE fan of Serenity, and I bought the RPG the moment it hit my local game store. I'd be willing to sell you my firstborn (though my wife might have a bit of issue with that) if you made a strip about it!

    It sounds like the only way to actually see it played.

    Serenity. Meh. Now Judge Dredd…

    Steve :o)

  111. Isoyami says:

    @Bruce (#108).

    I meant Bruce as in Monty Python’s Flying Circus “The Bruce’s Sketch.”

    “Bruce here teaches ‘Egelian philosophy, Bruce here teaches Aristotelian philosophy, and Bruce here is in charge of the sheep dip.”

    ;)

    Although imagining the Bruces sketch with an all Scottish cast does make me giggle in an oh-so-manly way. :D

  112. Fegis says:

    Hi, I’m another first time poster…
    Great, great comic and the comments are as fun as the comic. Keep going, with this movie and others…

  113. Ronald says:

    Legolas looks a bit TOO excited about it. Creepy elves…

  114. Scarlet Knight says:

    “Now Rise up, other Minions of Darkness and we three (Scarlet Knight, Browncoat and I) can overthrow Steve and his odd donut fixation…”

    But if we do that, how can I get my “Minions of Steve” playset for Christmas? I mean, it’s got the long necked, flying, riding beastie with kung fu grip claws…

  115. Kdansky says:

    Ok, we’re really getting there. You’re starting to get to a level of OOTS ;)

  116. Cynder says:

    I laugh at the 6th and 7th frames. This must be the 5th time Aragorn’s said, “I hate this campaign!”. LOL.

    You can really see Legolas’s excitement in the last frame, too.

    BTW: I love the way Aragorn’s facial expressions really suit his dialog. Very clever. Kudos to you.

  117. Mina says:

    LOL, LEGOLAS!!! XD

    I think I woke my roomie up with this one…

  118. Sam-Chan says:

    legolas is so exited! and so immoral! getting exited about shooting someone in the eye – that truly is rpg!

    like my party was killing “an evil person wich tried to killus some time ago”. 1#player: I take the bown saw and cut a pentagram into his chest! 2#player: are you sick? I just shoot in his head!

    greetings

    SAM

    SAM

  119. Trick says:

    “You feel more experianced”
    *is remembering Nethack*
    You DO remember when in Nethack that comes up, right?
    Or wait… Is it ANY time you level up? Or just in that one case…? *hasn’t played in a while*

  120. Leyomi the Parodier says:

    Legolas’s happy eager face is just so awesome ^^

  121. Michael says:

    (Two years after the fact, and I’m likely to break the internets.)

    Re: What does not kill you in Cthulu:

    No, you’re playing the wrong game. If you are invovled, you’ll be dead or insane. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of Chess?

    It’s like Paranoia. The question isn’t how you avoid dying. It’s “Will you have one life, or zero lives left, if you even think of completing the mission the computer gave you”. Most of the old Paranoia games could not be completed (and the sample adventure even chides the GM if the party isn’t completely wiped out by the 3rd room). The newer ones may be completable, but only after at least 80-90% of all of the clones are gone.

    Paranoia is “Have fun while dying”.
    Cthulu is “Stop the evil and have an insanely great time in the process”.

  122. Pirate Goar says:

    Legolas’ face in the last panel is ab.so.lu.tely. PRICELESS!

  123. Nami says:

    Well, at least one of them is still excited.

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