DM of the Rings XCI:
The Predictable Surprise

By Shamus Posted Monday Apr 23, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 155 comments

Gandalf arrives to save the day.
Gandalf annoys Aragorn.

Yeah. You saw this coming.

 


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155 thoughts on “DM of the Rings XCI:
The Predictable Surprise

  1. first!!!!

    another classic :D

    *two-thumbs up*

    I always thought that part in the move was a little cheesy :P

    1. Zedolor says:

      p’shaw! If you think that part in the movie is cheesy, you should read that same part in the novelization!

      (Note to those slapping their foreheads right now, yes, I know ;)

      1. Der Ami says:

        I always found the novel version kind of creepy. They get the Trents to bring a little forest to the battlefield and chase the orcs in. It’s noisy for a while, and then it’s not. Do not piss off trents in tolkien land.

        1. Blue Canary says:

          Ents! The word is Ents in Tolkien.
          Yes, it is inadvisable to piss them off.

          1. Cup says:

            No, the word is treants, they are the partly feral ents. Ents are fully sentient.

            1. Darkstarr says:

              “Treants” are Ents–Gary Gygax couldn’t call them “Ents” because he would’ve been sued for copyright infraction by Tolkien’s estate. The semi-sentient ones were called “Hurons”.

              Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to move out of my parents’ basement… -_^

              1. BlueCanary says:

                Nearly right. The sentient ones were called “Ents,” the semi-sentient ones were called “Huorns,” not “Hurons.” “Hurons” is an Indian tribe.

                Source: I am currently re-reading LoTR for the forty-gazillionth time.

                1. Old Gumphrey says:

                  All of you are insane.

  2. Otters34 says:

    HA!HA!HA!.That was marvellous!

  3. Wulfwen says:

    So true – people are only capable of remembering the most recent thing that happened!

    1. smartalek says:

      Which explains everything you need to know about American politics.

  4. pizzacat83 says:

    Brilliant panel work as always Shamus. Aragorn must have the patience of a Saint if Gandalf has just started getting on his nerves.

  5. Charles says:

    Just like a manager to show up in the morning and take all the credit after his underlings pull an all-nighter…

  6. Myxx says:

    lol. No respect for the PCs…

  7. -Chipper says:

    Nice! Reminds me of, “He has saved us! Commander Taggart has saved us!”

  8. scldragonfish says:

    “It’s just not fair”, Dr. Lazarus.

  9. George says:

    LMAO, hahahaha

    looks like you rolled the corners off your d20 for no reason legolas.
    It’s hilarious because stuff like this happens all of the time. For instance, a campaign i was in long ago, my comrades and I had to defend the villiage for like 20 minutes “in game time.” We didn’t do every single round, alot of the time was “You move from west side to east side which takes 5 minutes” Then when the orc’s leader approached the village some NPC with a vorpal sword came out of no where and cut his head off and he got all the praise… all the money… we got XP for killing stuff and that was about it

    another great comic

    i still think Eomer needs to be a new PC

  10. xargon says:

    “By Grabthar’s hammer, they shall be avenged!”

  11. Scarlet Knight says:

    So the players are just learning that they’re the “plucky, comic relief”?

  12. esox says:

    Wow Shamus- in the second panel you managed to find a picture of Legolas that makes it appear as if the character stayed up all night drinking Mountain Dew

  13. scldragonfish says:

    “I’ll jump on you like a spider monkey.”
    “I’m all jacked up on Mountain Dew!”–Texas Ranger

  14. Kam says:

    Been reading this for a while now, first time to actually comment.
    No matter in what game, you always want to smack the NPC who goes in and takes all the credit for what you’ve done. Love the comic :P

  15. ChristianTheDane says:

    Rofl xD

    Short attentionspan on behalf of the people :D

  16. Jimmie says:

    Gandalf – the first “Mary Sue”!

  17. -Chipper says:

    lol! So it’s not just me with the Galaxy Quest flashback.

    [by Gimli to the DM]”You see, this is your problem Jason. You were never serious about the craft.”

    Also, absolutely brilliant screencaps, Shamus.

  18. The Gneech says:

    I dunno about the -first- Mary Sue, but he’s certainly in the top five! ;)

    -The Gneech

  19. Blindeye says:

    Gandalf is essentially the Deus Ex Machina in character form. As an NPC (since he’s far too powerful to be a PC) he takes all the victory out of everything.

    I can’t wait to see this move into Return of the King, especially to eventually see Aragorn be crowned king.

    Actually, I just can’t wait to see the three feel like they’ve truly saved the day, only to realise that Frodo destroying the ring is the only way to get true victory. It will once again wrest the feeling of accomplishment out of their hands.

  20. Jindra34 says:

    Let me guess the next strip is about how they did alll that for nought even a copper penny.

  21. Rolld20 says:

    Heh, if I didn’t know better, I’d suspect that Gandalf was the first character the GM ever played, revised and raised up to epic level, the way the GM always dreamed of. Too bad the original campaign never got beyond the 5th session. Did I ever tell you about when he reached second level…

    I admit, my most hated NPC was much more effective than the PCs put together. But that’s not remarkable, given this guy could *warp reality at will*, while the rest of us had to beg for permission to (for example) heal normally.
    The GM’s constant praise for the dork was particularly galling.
    Hmph. NPC’s should be heard, and not seen. ;)

  22. JagDell says:

    NPCs with actual combat stats should only exist to be killed by your PCs.

    Especially those on your side… :)

  23. Senalishia says:

    Hear Hear! I’m against “good” NPCs doing pretty much anything the party has even a smidge of hope accomplishing on their own, although it is sometimes nice when they show up and fight the gigantic, scary boss for you.

  24. Da Rogue says:

    Why do the npc’s always take all of the glory?

    Aah well. Aragorn will just have to take comfort in the fact that it was his team that kept them alive long enough for slow-mo Gandalf to show up.

  25. kenderweasel says:

    “Scene-stealing hack!”

  26. lurkerwithout says:

    Oh yes, THE most irritating in a game. Worse than the SuperTwink Munchkin or the Rules Lawyer or the Never Breaks Character Wannabe Actor. Just edging out GM’s Sweetie. The GM’s Pet NPC. The sheer joy of sitting on the side-lines while the NPCs do stuff…

  27. Deoxy says:

    Heh, if I didn't know better, I'd suspect that GandalfElminster was the first character the GMauthor ever played, revised and raised up to epic level, the way the GM always dreamed of.

    And yes, this is a good comic, too (though only because of the way the movie deviated from the book here, AGAIN, and AGAIN for no good reason).

  28. Deoxy says:

    Hmm, the strike tags don’t seem to work… “Gandalf” and “GM” were supposed to struckout in my previous comment.

  29. Arson55 says:

    As a DM, I tend to have powerful NPCs, but they generally hold off minions while the PCs either rally the lesser NPCs or fight the more important enemies. I’ll admit, there have been times I have gotten too fond of some of my cooler NPCs, but I never let them take over (at least not after I had run a few game…early on they did sometimes, but I fixed the habit). If it gets to that point now; they find pressing business elsewhere and are regulated to cameo appearances the rest of the game.

    Oh, and I love the Galaxy Quest refrences.

  30. Susano says:

    While I liked the movies overall, there were some scenes that made me question **why** Jackson et al. felt they had to be changed. The decision of the Ents to fight against, Saurman for example.

  31. Jimmie says:

    The decision of the Ents to fight against, Saurman for example.

    But they did fight against Saruman in the book. They had one of those Hoom and Hom-fests and everything.

    Didn’t they?

  32. Steve says:

    Hail to the Rohirrim who come with Gandalf

    Yes indeed. Praise them with great praise.

    Steve.

  33. drow says:

    oh, i’ll bet that star wars game is looking REALLY GOOD right about now.

  34. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    You have a last name, Aragorn.

    Do I? Do I? You don’t know.

  35. -Chipper says:

    Meanwhile, Leggylass is still shooting orcs thru the eye with a grin a mile wide, and a caffiene tremor saying, “I’m just jazzed about being in the campaign, man!”

  36. Woerlan says:

    Hilarious. All those comics on the battle of Helm’s Deep set this one up perfectly.

    One a less humorous note, there’s a moral lesson here to all Game Masters. NEVER let the NPCs steal the credit from the PCs (unless the PCs let them by purpose or inaction). PCs are deserving of at least as much glory. The speech from Gandalf asking Aragorn to defend Helm’s Deep (which this comic’s not-so-good DM omitted) until he returned with help, would have justified all the suffering, but credit should have been given where credit is due.

  37. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    Movie references are like campaign finance rules. If you ban one movie, we’ll just move to another.

  38. Mikko says:

    Yet another long-time reader, first-time poster.

    That Mountain Dew has to be potent stuff. About a decade ago, I ran Middle Earth campaign using Rolemaster. Back then 12 to 15 hour game sessions were pretty common, not only because Rolemaster tended to a, shall we say, time-consuming system. I liked to do things in a long-winded way (and nobody seemed to object). We also consumed heroic quantities junk food and cola into the early hours of morning, which also slowed the gameplay. Never, ever any of us was as even nearly as pert at the end as Leggy-lass here. Well, if any of us would have been, we would have kicked him out of our group immediately (later one such guy played a game or two with us, and that’s pretty much what happened)

    One day we started at 3 pm. Around ten hours later I suggested that we shall call it a day and continue later. My players stated confidently that they can carry on. We finally stopped at 8 am, after 18 hours of playing, not because the adventure was finished, but because we could hardly stay awake.

    Finally I had the opportunity to tell that anecdote. Thank you for reading.

    P.S. One of the many things I like in this comic is that it restores Gimli to the position that belongs to him. I hated how he was made a cheap comic relief in the movie. For that alone Shamus, I thank you!

  39. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    Aragorn to the DM:
    I’m gonna just shut my eyes for a little bit. Go on, I’m listening to everything you say.

  40. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    oh, i'll bet that star wars game is looking REALLY GOOD right about now.

    No way. The show must go on.

  41. Mordaedil says:

    Wtf is up with Legolas’ ears?

  42. haashaastaak says:

    yes, in the book the ents did indeed attack Isengard. But in the book the ends just took a very long time to decide and finally they agreed. They didn’t wait for a snotty nosed midget to point out to them (cleverly) that it’s not nice to burn tree people. To me that was the single cheesiest unnecessary change in the entire movie.

  43. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    I’m looking forward to the council after Minas Tirith.

    Aragorn: We’ll go in. We’ll create a distraction. We’ll march to the gates and hold Sauron’s attention long enough to allow the halflings to get to Mt. Doom.

    DM [interjecting]: That’s suicide!

    Aragorn: We’re just glorified extras, dude.

    —————————————————————-
    Frankly, I think it would be hilarious if Aragorn et al. marching to the Gates of Mordor is a loopy PC decision that throws the DM way off the rails.

    Now that the halflings are off playing Star Wars, I bet the plan was for Faramir to get the ring away from them and bring it back to Gondor for Aragorn or whoever to use. The Ring was going to be retconned so that, theoretically, a mighty man of will could use it for good. But the person playing Faramir ignored all the DM’s hints–or, more likely, misinterpreted them as an attempt to trick him–and let the hobbits go. The DM is pissed, so after the PCs successfully defend Gondor he rubs in how hopeless their situation is and how unlikely the halflings are to succed. Then Aragorn gets a “brilliant” idea.

  44. Clyde says:

    At least Aragorn doesn’t have to worry about Gandalf doing better with the chicks than he does. Of course, after that little “disease” incident with Eowyn, perhaps Aragorn wishes that Gandalf WOULD…

  45. Steve says:

    No way should this three finish the campaign as winners.

    Dave and his Jedi sidekick should play a one-off adventure unbeknownst to the three amigos.

    That adventure: Ring of Bright Lava, in which the players who spent the whole campaign playing Star Wars actually rejoin and finish DMotR off and trigger the Death of Sauron (again). The DM would probably welcome them back as justification that his vision of the campaign was compelling after all and blame the friction on the players.

    The looks on the faces of the Veterans of Helms Deep should be priceless when they find out there’s no point in continuing.

    Steve.

  46. Marril says:

    Amazing how they do the fighting, and he gets the credit. Typical NPC.

  47. Ogreman says:

    Yeah. Gandalf again. This happens all the time in the webcomic Girly, with all the credit going to Captain Fist even if he barely does anything.

  48. Browncoat says:

    37 Osvaldo Mandias Says:

    April 23rd, 2007 at 1:23 pm
    Movie references are like campaign finance rules. If you ban one movie, we'll just move to another.

    Good call. We’ve done MP, Princess Bride, and now Galaxy Quest. What’s next? Ooo! I know!

    “See? My d20 goes all the way up to 21!”

  49. Harlock says:

    Wouldn’t it make more sense just to roll a d30 and ignore anything over 21?

    But this one goes to 21!

  50. nigel says:

    just some constructive critisism. the last few havn’t made me laugh. no offence. try to make them some what funnyer.

  51. Lil'German says:

    darned killstealers :D

    darned white-haired bedcloth-wearing kill-stealers :P

    wonderful idea, Shamus.

    OTOH there are still more than half the orcs/uruk-hai left in the valley… so he DID bring kind of rescue for the guys in the dead-end. Hail to the brave allmighty NPCs :)

  52. I’m almost afraid to re-watch the movies at this point. I’d finally managed to adjust to the Elijah Wood Winona-Ryder-bugeyed-stare, but now I’m afraid that every Legloas grin and every stoic Aragorn stare are going to make me crack up.

  53. MikeRM says:

    “Their numbers thinning, but still multitude”… try “…but still a multitude” or “still multitudinous”.

  54. Shamus says:

    “just some constructive critisism. the last few havn't made me laugh. no offence. try to make them some what funnyer.”

    That’s not constructive, that’s informative. If it was constructive, you’d tell me why they aren’t funny and previous ones are.

    But it doesn’t matter. You get what you get. Just like the average DM: Sometimes I’m brilliant, sometimes I’m irritating, and in the end we’re just plodding along to a foregone conclusion.

  55. Alia says:

    I’ve been in two games with significant party NPCs. The first game, the NPCs filled out missing positiosn with an overlap at Wizard. We had a fighter/ranger but the NPCs gave us a much better Barbarian. We didn’t have a thief or a Cleric and the NPCs filled those rolls. They only time the ‘took the spotlight’ was when one of them killed the dragon with 4HP left (the dragon, not the NPC). Then our Ranger/Fighter threw a fit and we kicked him out of the group. The rest of us were fine with it.

    The second one was a different scale. We were working with Red Wizards and most of the Red Wizard NPCs could do things that none of us would be able to do for a while, if ever. So the DM was very careful to make sure we never felt overshadowed by them.

  56. Jim says:

    Hi, long time reader, first time poster. :-)

    This one had me literally cackling out loud for a few minutes. Marvelous.

    “Dude – where’s our thunder?” “Where’s our thunder dude?” “Oh, Gandalf stole it.”

    Definitely agree Gandalf should later be revealed as an old PC of the DM’s. Probably a 1st or 2nd ed character he “converted” to 3.5 .

    Look forward to these guys in the halls of the dead. Would be good as a “PC’s throw the DM a curveball” moment, when they put some pieces together the DM hadn’t thought through, or at least thought they weren’t listening (usually a safe assumption).

  57. Scarlet Knight says:

    “To me that was the single cheesiest unnecessary change in the entire movie.”

    What?! Cheesier than having Aragorn fall off a cliff for no reason and more unnecessary than to have Arwen contact him & his HORSE(!)telepathically?

  58. Smith says:

    Long time reader, first time poster, yadda, yadda.

    Freaking brilliant. This strip is one of the best instructional aids in “how not to DM” I’ve every read. And it’s funny, too boot. Keep up the good work, man.

    I think you’re getting to a challenging part — when the Fellowship breaks up. Some poor sod has to run a 1-on-1 game with the DM and uber-NPC, 2 more come back for a side game, and the three Amigos go for a dungeon-crawl turned bad …

    1. WJS says:

      Um, the Fellowship broke up ages ago.

  59. Jiggily says:

    I have to agree with the comments regarding having an uber NPC help out the party, but I think if the DM ever involves one, then it should only show up when the party is so completely over matched, and then he should be killed in the process, allowing the PC’s to live and finish the battle….

    just my .02

    Jiggily

  60. Awesome! Is this the setup for a future event hopefully?

    Great one Shamus. I have made this comic required reading for my D&D group.

  61. Richard says:

    You know, this scene impressed me deeply when I watched the movies. I remember seeing the riders come over the crest of the hill, the orcs falling back and raising their pikes, and then the riders charging STRAIGHT INTO THE PIKES.

    I knew, at that point, that they’d all died and the rest of the movie was just hypothetical.

    I still can’t shake that feeling.

  62. Doom Chicken says:

    I did not see that coming! Gandalfs return was totally unexpected despite my reading the books several times and watching the movies. How dare you suprise me like that! I damn near had a heart attack!

  63. Woerlan says:

    Ah, Richard. Easily explained.

    First, they weren’t pikes, they were spears. Pikes are much longer. The principle being that the planted polearm had to be longer than the ones the riders were using, otherwise, they kill YOU before you kill them. Plus, the rohirrim lances were at least as long as those spears, so based on the same principle, the planted spears weren’t that effective.

    Second, Gandalf did that holy light thing just before the first line of cavalry met the uruk horde. Most of the spearmen looked away at that point, even reflexively raising their spears out of the line of charge.

    All in all, pretty much a cavalry overrun issue. I’m not saying that no one died, since I’m sure a few unlucky horsemen got the receiving end of a well-placed and stalwart spear. Good rout at the end though.

    The part you don’t see in the non-extended (standard) version is the remainder of the horde retreating into a mysterious forest that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Then trees start moving and the sound of orcs screams mercifully fades away rather quickly.

    The lesson here being never promote deforestation in a magical setting where the lumber can be inspired to fight back. ^_^

    1. Blue Canary says:

      I read somewhere that Tolkien was inspired by Macbeth to write that scene. Apparently he’d been disappointed that Birnam Wood does not literally come to Dunsinane, as promised.

  64. Minus says:

    Old DM, new reader here. I just read your whole comic from the start and passed it on to my roommates. Thanks for sharing this, I look forward to the continued story.

  65. Joshua says:

    “What?! Cheesier than having Aragorn fall off a cliff for no reason and more unnecessary than to have Arwen contact him & his HORSE(!)telepathically?”

    Well, I wouldn’t necessarily say the cheesiest, myself, just the most pointless. The Ents decide to ride to war after a long deliberation, not because they didn’t have any clue about what Saruman was doing to the woods and just now found out. Besides, HOW did Pippin know about the burned woods anyways? It’s not like they passed by that way beforehand, or heard about Saruman cutting down all of the forest to fuel his war machine.

    The cheesiest moment I think would be the special effects around Galadriel when she pretends to be tempted by the ring. It’s like Jackson pulled a George Lucas and didn’t trust his actor to get the right feeling across.

    Random side-note: Anyone notice how the character of Glorfindel was snubbed by both the old and new LOTR movies? Although replacing him made more sense because he was written as a character who had history with Aragorn but little actual role in the story. Of course, Tolkien seemed to have a hell of a lot more backstory than actual main story in the books.

    1. Blue Canary says:

      I, for one, missed Glorfindel (of the Fountain!). Tolkien nerds represent!

  66. James Blair says:

    What confused me was the “white wizard” arc with Treebeard in both versions of the movie. It was pretty obvious in hindsight that it was Gandalf they were looking at. Gandalf, who personally saw Saruman do the deforestation but obviously didn’t think it a matter of enough import to tell Treebeard about it…

  67. Bugsysservant says:

    “Of course, Tolkien seemed to have a hell of a lot more backstory than actual main story in the books.”-Joshua

    Gahhhh!!! The Lord of the Rings is nothing but a pale extension of Tolkien’s true stories, the Silmarilion. Even Peter Jackson’s overly dramatic and inaccurate portrayal of Haldir and his band of a few dozen Elves would pale in the face of the hundreds of thousands of Noldor, elves and men who took part in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the last great battle in the war of jewels. Much as I love the Lord of the Rings, I couldn’t truly appreciate it until I had read Tolkien’s best.

    “just some constructive critisism. the last few havn't made me laugh. no offence. try to make them some what funnyer.”-Nigel

    Ignore the critic. While I missed the nethack/tony hawk jokes (before my time and not a game Im familiar with respectively) the last few have been hillarious, and this one has been the crownign glory. Keep up the good work!

  68. orcbane says:

    Three cheers for the DM PC!

  69. RollD20 says:

    “Hip, hip — ”

    [coughs, shuffles feet]

  70. Jindra34 says:

    Hip Hip HOoray
    {ducks}

  71. Alasseo says:

    @Woerlan- in actual fact, they were pikes (being about 20′ long), and about twice the length of the throwing spear/demilance cross that the rohirrim were using.

    @Richard- The fact that the Uruk raised their pikes was what saved the rohirrim. If they had planted the butt-end of their weapons and then lowered them, THEN the rest of the movie would be hypothetical.
    Woerlan was right about Gandalf’s holy/magical blinding light making them break just in time for a textbook cavalry overrun, though.

    While the players may be discovering that they’re merely the plucky comic relief, they should know by now it could be much worse- they could be the redshirts…

  72. Heather says:

    I will not talk about what Tolkien really said about his characters or complain about the movies compared to his intentions (as explained in his letters, Silmarillian, and Lost Tales.

    I will not talk about what Tolkien really said about his characters or complain about the movies compared to his intentions (as explained in his letters, Silmarillian, and Lost Tales.

    I will not talk about what Tolkien really said about his characters or complain about the movies compared to his intentions (as explained in his letters, Silmarillian, and Lost Tales.

    ACCCKKKKKKK.

    Moving on.

  73. Valcore says:

    So every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday eh? I’ll be here. This is awsome!!

  74. Rachel says:

    I find it best to just consider the movies as seperate, and only vaguely related to the books. I enjoy both a lot more.

    And the comic is just great either way.

    1. Blue Canary says:

      That is probably the only non-crazymaking way to look at it, if you’re a Tolkien fan.

  75. Isoyami says:

    Awesome comic, loved it!

    I do want to point out that in the very first DM speech/plot panel, the phrase “..it shines on the orcs, their number thinning but still multitude.” does sound a bit awkward to me. It should “[a] multitude” or “multitudinous”, methinks.

    Also, when did Aragormless wake up? Wasn’t he asleep for the last 10 combat rounds in the last panel? rofl.

    Maybe when Gimli was blowing on the giant Horn in the Hornburg for the 20th time? Talk about an alarm clock…. lol.

  76. apandapion says:

    Yes. The core premise of any campaign is, at some level, the players have a chance to do something that makes a difference, either to themselves or to everyone else. I am reminded of the makers of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie debating if Author is a hero… he is, because things turn out differently (probably for the better) because of his presence.

    My current campaign is filled with parties of NPC adventurers. They do not have the player’s “destiny”, so they are portrayed as being halfway low noble slackers, halfway street gang, and are generally played for laughs. A gang of freebooters that know how to stab things, minus a chance at destiny, is actually a funny thing. Think of the things that your players do when they arn’t well entertained. Now imagine a subculture of NPCs making careers out of that kind of mischeif.

  77. Gandalf The Monk says:

    Woerlan Said
    One a less humorous note, there's a moral lesson here to all Game Masters. NEVER let the NPCs steal the credit from the PCs (unless the PCs let them by purpose or inaction). PCs are deserving of at least as much glory. The speech from Gandalf asking Aragorn to defend Helm's Deep (which this comic's not-so-good DM omitted) until he returned with help, would have justified all the suffering, but credit should have been given where credit is due.

    Unless they’re a villain – then it should be encouraged. Nothing will engender the players hatred of an NPC more than having them take all the credit (or shifting the blame to the PCs), especially if they were actually working against the PCs.

  78. Luklan says:

    I’m starting to hate their DM…

    I’d be asking questions like “Why the heck didn’t you just throw Gandalf into it earlier, so we could have gone home and to bed!?”

    Staying up all night rolling dice would have annoyed me, and that would have tipped the scales -.-;

  79. Tola says:

    Heh.

    The cavalry has arrived, as promised…and the players hate it.

    The DM clearly has a inferiority complex.

    I will not talk about what Tolkien really said about his characters or complain about the movies compared to his intentions (as explained in his letters, Silmarillian, and Lost Tales.

    Can you summarise for those who don’t own all of these books?(I own the Silmarillion, but not Lost Tales. There were NO notes on LOTR characters in Silmarillion, save the backstory of Sauron, and the fall of Numenor.)

  80. Tola says:

    The speech from Gandalf asking Aragorn to defend Helm's Deep (which this comic's not-so-good DM omitted)

    Not so…exactly.

    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=972

    They KNEW he was coming back.

    Though what’s irksome is likely the fact that they’re going absolutely nuts over Gandalf.

  81. Deathblade_Penguin/aka Minion of Darkness says:

    woah… I’ve got to ask where have all these people come from? First of all it’s post 20 before i get a look in, then 55. and now 80… come on people what about the penguin?

    (Nb i dont actually have anything to post today)

    sO i’ll just say – keep up the good work Shamus,

  82. Noumenon says:

    “Their numbers thinning but still multitude” is not awkward. It’s stylish.

  83. b9anders says:

    Brilliant comic. This DM has a story to tell and he’ll be darned if he is gonna let the PCs stop him!

  84. Tola says:

    Their numbers thinning but still multitude” is not awkward. It's stylish.

    Nope. It’s missing the ‘a’. Still A multitude. That parses better. You’re expecting the A, and without it the sentence goes flyinmg off the track and into the bridge, killing all on board.

  85. Salen says:

    I totally called that! I knew Gandolf was gunna show up and steal all the glory. Oh well. At least this means the halfling will be returning in a while to play with the rest of the group. I bet the group will call shinanigans on the fact that while Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli were fighting for their lives, somehow the halflings managed to team up with the treants and destroy Saurumon’s home and stuff so completely.

  86. -Chipper says:

    “Their numbers thinning but still multitude”.
    I like it that way. The lack of “a” may be unexpected, but it isn’t wrong.

  87. Margaret says:

    Last GalaxyQuest reference?

    They avoided capture by using your Mak’tar stealth haze.

  88. Rast says:

    “still multitude” is grammatically permissible.

  89. Nate says:

    hahaha. Oh man. This only happens so much with crazy NPC’s, they come in, finish them off, do some fancy-shmancy magic, and ohhhh the town loves them more than the lowly ranger. Pah.

  90. Browncoat says:

    Isn’t it great when geeks can take a break from arguing about sci-fi content to argue about grammar?! We rock!

  91. Blindeye says:

    I think it’s an excersize in disrespect to constantly spell-check and grammer-whine this guy who’s giving you an awesome comic FOR FREE and has also done something that I’m sure most of you have never done: Written a farkin’ BOOK. Seriously: STFU

    1. WJS says:

      Yes, how dare people point out when someone makes a mistake! God forbid someone interpret “post a comment” as “post a comment” rather than “fawn over me, puny mortals”!

  92. Scarlet Knight says:

    Is it just me, or has Gandalf returned as Goodgulf Greyteeth? You know, the whole showing up after the fight thing?

    I’m also waiting for Sam to rescue Frodo from the orcs & say: “Well, I see you’ve managed to take your shirt off.”

  93. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    their number thinning but still multitude

    It is awkward, and in my opinion not correct, since multitude is not adjectival. Our Author was probably subconsciously thinking “but still legion.”

  94. Jenx says:

    This. Right this is why I hate NPCs.

    Great comic indeed.

  95. Deathblade_Penguin/aka Minion of Darkness says:

    As a primary school teacher, generally the word ‘multitude’ is a noun although it could be used in an adjectivial clause.

  96. LethalSpoon says:

    Legolas’ ears don’t look elf-like.

  97. Scarlet Knight says:

    Deathblade_Penguin/aka Minion of Darkness Says: “generally the word “˜multitude' is a noun although it could be used in an adjectivial clause.”

    Well, yeah, in Australia….

  98. SongCoyote says:

    Regarding the visuals of Galadriel in the most recent movies: yeah, I thought the special effects were overdoing it a bit, though cutting off the Ents’ nuts was what rankled me the most.

    As silly as the old Bakshi Lord of the Rings was, in my opinion they portrayed the temptation of Galadriel perfectly. I like a lot of other things about that version, too, but that’s the most germane to the current discussion.

    As for the Ents, as others in here have noted, in the book they were quite aware of what was going on (including the cutting of trees) but still didn’t want to be too hasty; it was the younger trees’ concern that helped sway their council towards the Last March. In the movie the Hobbits essentially tricked Treebeard (who was otherwise gloriously imagined) into noticing the extent of the damage, which makes absolutely no sense as he’s a friggin’ elemental of the Forest!

    Ahem. Enough of that. Thanks for the comic, Shamus – it’s delightful!

    Light and laughter,
    SongCoyote

    1. WJS says:

      The change to the Ents was probably because it’s a movie; everything has to be to do with the heroes. You can’t possibly have minor characters doing things of their own volition, they have to be talked into it by the major characters!

  99. SongCoyote says:

    Woo hoo! Gods’ Eyes! Nat 100! WOOT!

    I have nothing else to say; I just wanted to snag #100 :)

    Light and laughter,
    SongCoyote

  100. okay! says:

    Started reading this recently, and I’ll just add the completely original comment that the whole LOTR-as-D&D-campaign is great in concept, design and execution. Every strip is good. Shamus, you have the gift!

    I played D&D when I was 10-15 years old, and now I am 39 and just started playing it with my 8-year-old boy. So I’m enjoying all of the characters, but Gimli most of all.

    The game seems to be a lot more complicated, especially the combat, then when I played it around 1978-82. I guess that’s to be expected, but it seems like a bunch of lawyers got ahold of the rulebook (not to bash lawyers too much — I am one).

    Also, I remember several monsters in the original Monster Manual had no equivalent in existing mythologies, but in the current version there seem to be an excess of monsters that have been drummed up out of nowhere. I’m all for creativity, but some of them seem a little silly.

    I also wonder how the popularity of RPG videogames is affecting the popularity of D&D.

  101. james says:

    Man, you’d think that those guys -want- to spend the next eight hours killing yet more orcs… ;)

  102. The almighty penguin says:

    “yes, in the book the ents did indeed attack Isengard. But in the book the ends just took a very long time to decide and finally they agreed. They didn't wait for a snotty nosed midget to point out to them (cleverly) that it's not nice to burn tree people. To me that was the single cheesiest unnecessary change in the entire movie.”

    I’d just like to point out that peter jackson was in fact making a movie. and in movies, many things have to be focussed on. one of these things is pace.While the movie does make the Ents seem more foolish, it still gets across the fact that they are emotionally linked to the forest. Tolkien could talk about how they took a long time to decide logically, because all he has to do is say “the ents took a long time deciding”. but what can peter jackson do? 20 minute scenes of the ents going “ummm” “maybe maybe not?” or should he just show the ents starting to think then have a little caption, in comic sans ms why not, a little caption saying “8 days later”
    Peter jackson did a fairly good job to get the feeling of the books across. books very rarely make good films due to the different media methods. the one problem i have with peter jackson is the lack of gimil doing anything besides making stupid jokes.

  103. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    As a primary school teacher, generally the word “˜multitude' is a noun although it could be used in an adjectivial clause.

    But when “multitude” isn’t a primary school teacher, its just a noun.

  104. Jindra34 says:

    104 Osvaldo Mandias Says:
    April 24th, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    As a primary school teacher, generally the word “˜multitude' is a noun although it could be used in an adjectivial clause.

    But when “multitude” isn't a primary school teacher, its just a noun.
    Joke is way to old…

  105. Deoxy says:

    “Of course, Tolkien seemed to have a hell of a lot more backstory than actual main story in the books.”

    He did. Much, much, MUCH more. And that’s one reason I like LotR so much – it feels so REAL – very few things contrived, just to fit the story. It feels like you could pick any hobbit hole in the Shire and look inside, and you’d find it bing lived in by a Hobbit family, with clothes in their closets, food in their larders, and fresh “product” in their chamber pots. The same thing for any home in Rohan or Gondor.

    I’ve dabbled a bit in writing, and the sheer weight and volume of such history, the level of effort spent on stories that were never intended to be seen by anyone but himself, just to make his final product better, is simply astounding.

  106. Jindra34 says:

    BY the way what are we talking about?

  107. Scarlet Knight says:

    Australia.

  108. Jindra34 says:

    really? Australia, no wonder i was so confused.

  109. Joshua says:

    In regards to my original backstory comment, I was referring to a foreword made in one of the LOTR versions(from the 60’s, I think) where Tolkien himself thought the book a little too brisk at times. After reading that, I re-read the books and saw what he meant. Apart from his occasionally lengthy descriptions, a lot of his chapters read like x occurs, then y occurs, there’s some talking in between, and then the chapter’s over. If I recall correctly, the battle outside Minas Tirith was only a page and a half long or so. So, he seems to have a lot of the backstory in his mind and in appendices, but he keeps the main story fairly light.

  110. TheGrinch says:

    Weighing in on the grammar geek debate — the article before multitude IS optional. Its absence might be unnerving, so you could have a valid stylistic quibble, but not a grammatical one.

  111. Arson55 says:

    Reading the discussion about the Silmarillion et al, I find myself wondering if I would be kicked out of geekdom if I admitted that I never cared for the Lord of the Rings and found the movies pretty mediocre.

  112. Jindra34 says:

    Arson: No but i’m pretty sure you will get demoted…

  113. Nogard_Codesmith says:

    Arson, that depends entirely on your feelings towards, HHGttG, and Dune.

  114. Yahzi says:

    “First, they weren't pikes, they were spears. Pikes are much longer.”{

    Remember the columns of orcs marching away from Isengard? Those were pikes…

    I know Tolkien never mentioned such details in his book, but watching that marching scene, all I could think about was, “Where are the baggage trains? What the heck are those orcs gonna eat for the next week?”

    :D

  115. Yahzi says:

    Tola, “stil multitude” is style. It’s just not good style – which is perfectly in keeping with the DM’s voice. The DM would say exactly that, because he’s the kind of guy who thinks that kind of faux medieval style sounds cool!

    :D

  116. Tola says:

    I know Tolkien never mentioned such details in his book, but watching that marching scene, all I could think about was, “Where are the baggage trains? What the heck are those orcs gonna eat for the next week?”

    Each other(Though I’m not certain on this), or any farms and things they can raid for some tasty Man-Flesh or Horse-Flesh.

  117. DocTwisted says:

    First time posting, just was shown this comic (at the first one) yesterday, and had to read all the way through.

    Shamus, this is truly inspired work. Most of the comics have caused me to rock with laughter, a few (including “Inconthievable!” and the Nethack-reference-joke one) brought me to tears.

    As a former GM, I know all about the players and their obsession with loot. As a former player, I also know what it is to play with Railroading GMs, GMs that want to have your characters listen to pages and pages of exposition just to say the equivalent of “Go kick Orc ass,” and GMs that blow their top as the tension they work so hard to build is broken by one character (usually mine) cracking wise.

    Bravo. Five stars. I will greatly look forward to continuing to read your work here.

  118. Dave says:

    “Gahhhh!!! The Lord of the Rings is nothing but a pale extension of Tolkien's true stories, the Silmarilion. Even Peter Jackson's overly dramatic and inaccurate portrayal of Haldir and his band of a few dozen Elves would pale in the face of the hundreds of thousands of Noldor, elves and men who took part in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the last great battle in the war of jewels. Much as I love the Lord of the Rings, I couldn't truly appreciate it until I had read Tolkien's best.”

    Ah, yes. “Tolkien: the original Elf-wank”, as one of my old gaming friends once put it. No matter what you can do, an elf can do it better…

  119. Valley says:

    Aragorn: I know, I’ll get the army of the dead to help us.

    DM: Wait, what? You can’t do that!

    Aragorn: Why not?

    DM: Well, they’re dead.

    Aragorn: So were those dudes on Storm Top.

    DM: Weathertop.

    Aragon: Whatever.

  120. Auke says:

    Oh, I thought that would be something like:

    Aragorn: “As Gandalf is going to save the day anyway, I propose we just dive into the nearest cave entrance we come along for some good old dungeon crawling. Who is with me?”

    DM: “You don’t see any caves.”

    Aragorn: “Well, then I’m just going to sit here until we do.”

    DM (thinking furiously): “Okay, you see a mysterious cavern just ahead of you…”

  121. Roxysteve says:

    Never mind the Orcs. What do the Rohirrim use for fodder? They gallop hither and yon in massive thousand-strong forces but the scenery is always ne’er so green.

    Those horses would have been stringy rations by the time they got to Minas Troney.

    Steve.

  122. Tola says:

    They’re Magical Movie Horses: Of the same breed as the Magical Movie Cars(those cars that seem to NEVER need refueling or maintenace unless the plot requires it) and other such things.

    Minas Tirith. Literally ‘Tower of Guard’. Which is likely to be quip-worthy on it’s own when they get there:such an ornate name for what is essentially a (VERY)glorified watch tower.(No, I don’t think you really didn’t know the name. I just used it as a jumping off point.)

  123. SpaceWolf says:

    Thank you for the content this rules

  124. scldragonfish says:

    Last GalaxyQuest reference?

    “Whoever wrote this script should DIE!”–Tawny Madison

  125. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    But when “multitude” isn't a primary school teacher, its just a noun.
    Joke is way to old…

    The error is way too old.

  126. “To me that was the single cheesiest unnecessary change in the entire movie.”

    There were many, many cheesy and unnecessary changes in the Jackson movies: they all seemed to revolve around one thing. Jackson does not understand nobility and honor. Jackson is a modern man, and by that I mean he is a punk. JRRT understood nobility and honor. He is old fashioned, and by that I mean he had the heart of a hero.

    Consider: in the movie, Aragorn suffers self-doubt and does not want to be king. WTF??! Faramir is tempted by the Ring, making the contrast with Boromir pointless. Denethror is simply a drooling madman, not a tragic man driven over the brink by Sauron, and Pippin has no real reason to vow fealty to him. In the film, Theoden is reluctant to fight, rather than, as in the book, his reluctance being do to the poisonous counsels of Wormtongue. The dialog in the movie about going to Helm’s Deep makes no sense from a military standpoint–Aragorn whines at Theoden for no particular reason. The Ents are reluctant to fight, and then get tricked into it, rather than debating and getting angry, as in the book.

    See the pattern? Everyone is reluctant to fight; no one wants to be king; no one is bad because he is misled or corrupted, they are only bad because they are crazy; no wars make any difference; there is not even a Scouring of the Shire at the end.

    Old Wizards flying around the room on wires was really, really high up on the cheese list also. No one in the film was dignified.

    1. BlueCanary says:

      ^^^^^^This.

  127. Scarlet Knight says:

    [John C. Wright] At least Sam was loyal without having gay undertones, as most modern stories would add…

  128. Rob says:

    HAHA, brilliant. This is what I always loathed about the railroad type predone campaign–and one of my least favourite scenes in the film too.

  129. ZachsMind says:

    Ah! So NOW I get a quote from Galaxy Quest! About a dozen strips back I left a message saying GQ never gets quoted from enough. LOL!

  130. Cynder says:

    Haha Aragorn. I’ve never heard someone complain so much.

    “I’m tired. I hate this campaign. There are no shops. There’s a lack of women. I keep mistaking elven men for pretty ladies. I rolled positive for an STD. I still can’t find a brothel. This guy’s getting on my nerves. I’m gunna jump off a cliff. I HATE THIS CAMPAIGN!!!”

    LOL AT YOU!

  131. Doug says:

    @Scarlet Knight: Sam may have been straight, but in the movie, after the Ring’s gone into the fire and it looks like he and Frodo are about to follow suit, Sam talks about how much he wanted to go home and marry Rosie Cotton, and if the look Frodo gives him isn’t saying “What am I, chopped liver?”, I never saw one.

    ‘Cos, o’ course, two guys can’t be devoted to each other through thick and thin without being as QAF, not in a c21st movie. :rolleyes:

  132. Serenitybane says:

    Haha!!!! Awesome frames! I feel bad for those poor PCs :D

  133. caradoc says:

    @George
    With my players that NPC would not have had the Vorpal sword for long.

  134. dr pepper says:

    Back before AD&D, one of the gms in the extended group i played with had a really nasty dungeon. He had given us to understand that some of the characters who had died there were not really dead, they were captives of the evil wizard who lived at the bottom of the dungeon and were being subjected to all sorts of vile tortures. But we had been levelling. So we scheduled a game– time to end this. And we did. Killed every orc, zombie, will o wisp, golem, lich, and dragon, in the place. Plundered all 16 levels. Rescued the prisoners. Killed the wizard and took his treasure. The session lasted 27 hours of real time and suffered over 200% casualties. Not all at once, of course, thank goodness for two high level clerics, each with a Staff of Ressurection.

    It was a great game– for college aged gamers between terms and without jobs.

  135. Toaadam says:

    Wow, how often does Legolas look like that???

  136. joesolo says:

    yeah, that sucked for them. you fight for hours and hours and just when there almost deafeated, a whole mess of warriors show up and get all the credit. the time they needed that was about 1 hour in.

  137. Kunou says:

    I’ve always had the reverse problem. My NPCs always tended to get treated as though they were the obligatory video game escort mission. They were usually as good as they needed to be but the players got mad at them for everything. The worst was when they actually left behind an NPC character who was CARRYING A MESSAGE. Their whole quest was to deliver a message and they left the message behind. They then proceeded to get very angry when they reached their destination and weren’t paid.

    Its like a waiter failing to bring the food you ordered and then demanding a tip.

  138. Heisenberg says:

    Greetings from the future. We didn’t die in the Mayan apocalypse, in case anyone was wondering.

  139. Arkanabar says:

    Heh. I remember running one published Shadowrun campaign where I supplemented the team with a combat NPC from Hell (seriously, the guy was built around using a monowhip) and they left him to guard the MacGuffin while they went looking for info. In the text: “If the players leave any NPCs guarding the MacGuffin, when they return, those NPCs will be defeated. If the group splits, let them play out the combat, but if they leave the MacGuffin the care of NPCs, it does not matter if they left Godzilla to guard it, when they return, he will be bound and helpless.”

    They called shenanigans. I refused to be moved. It didn’t MATTER how good Tripwire was, it was still up to the PCs to win. He eventually got replaced by a decker/rigger, because decking splits the party, and we all agreed that it was a lot more fun when the Matrix happened off-stage.

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