DM of the Rings XCII:
Ding!

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Apr 25, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 112 comments

The players finally get some XP. Legolas is pissed.

 


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112 thoughts on “DM of the Rings XCII:
Ding!

  1. SpaceWolf says:

    First Thanks for the comic it just keeps getting better and better i cant wait for the next edition again first hahahaha

  2. Myxx says:

    lol. ding. Just brought back years of MMO grinding…

  3. Erin Storts says:

    Woo hoo first post!

    I love Gimli’s face, he looks so thrilled to be getting xp. Great strip as always, Shamus.

  4. Erin Storts says:

    Woah, you guys are fast! I was first until I clicked submit, then there were two posts up. Wow.

  5. Marmot says:

    Amazing as always! I’m glad to see them finally get some XP, else a murder at the gaming table would loom ever closer!

  6. Susano says:

    I wonder how many important plot points these guys have missed by ignoring the GM they way they do….

    Anyway, as a HERO System player XP handouts are whole new ball game when compared to D20…. You just have to love the instant gratification HERO XP gives you.

  7. Scarlet Knight says:

    Is this where Legolas looks to kill a rat as a seperate adventure just to get 1 xp & level up?

  8. Cenobite says:

    Hey Shamus, that reminds me. You still haven’t told us how much xp Legolas got for whacking Gollum. LOL

  9. George says:

    lol, yeah i would say whacking gollum was a nice shot lol
    that whole one level at a time rule is the only rule i dont like at all

    great comics keep them up

    favorite moment ” i want to stab another one in the face!!!”

  10. Salen says:

    “Its like Christmas in the middle ages!” That cracks me up! Gimli’s the greatest. Oh well, I guess they weren’t too mad about having Gandolf show up and steal the show, now that they’re knee deep in EXP. I am curious what that blurb under the talk over was about. I’m sure I saw something about the Ents in there.

  11. Jindra34 says:

    The one level per encounter rule in DnD never made much sense…

  12. Prawninator says:

    That rule was horrible. Always made me cry. (no, not really)

  13. smilydeth says:

    hmmm…. I’m sorry to say this….but I think you’re losing your touch shamus. The last few strips have not been nearly as good as the ones that you did early on. The jokes seem forced and are becoming trite and obvious. Please, please don’t get me wrong here, I LOVE THIS COMIC! I am just worried that you might be burning out..and that would suck. Anyway, keep em coming…..

  14. Blindeye says:

    The whole one level at a time thing, I’m sure, is because you’re characters just don’t magically learn new spells, abilities, and what not. It’s assumed that they train, learn, study, for a while when they reach the next level.

    Video games totally ignore the realism about necessary training, and it’s made us forget.

  15. scldragonfish says:

    The reason I love this comic, is the same reason I kept falling asleep during the movies…the characters are stunted at every turn.

    Good One Shamus!

  16. Roxysteve says:

    “Cry a little”.

    I get that. No, really. Rhys-Davis was allergic to the makeup.

    Well done Shamus. I suggest that you improve morale in the comments by banning anyone who criticises your art for a bajillion years with no mulligans like they probably do at that other D&D-themed strip site. Rule with an iron fist. It’s the only language they understand. I speak as a former Will-dominating Dark Overlord here.

    Remember: He who laughs last didn’t get the joke.

    Steve.

  17. Jeremiah says:

    That or all the characters start seeing their fellow party members as quantities of XP instead of allies.

  18. Woerlan says:

    So did Legolas get that Arcane Archer level or what? Hehe.

  19. Blindeye: Actually, D&D characters DO just “magically learn new spells, abilities, and what not.” The rules 100% support the Barbarian going up a level in the middle of the desert and gaining a level of Wizard. He not only magically learns to read, but magically finds a spellbook magically full of 1st-level spells. Most GMs will say you can’t do it… but that’s Rule 0, not actually supported by the Rules As Written. :)

    1. WJS says:

      Not unless they changed it in 3.5. My 3.0 DMG specifically talks about what PCs have to go through between adventures to level up. It leaves the exact nature of the training up to the DMs discretion, but it clearly says that some form of training is required.

  20. Jindra34 says:

    Woerlan: I would say no since he is likely only level 2 now… ahh… comic irony…

  21. Arson55 says:

    I also love the first Gimli panel. Simple excellence.

  22. Arbaal says:

    Ha ha ha! This so reminds me of my friend Todd’s campaigns. We went a year of playing once a week before any of us saw a level gain, and no magic items to speak of. I keep picturing Legolas’ player as being that excitable teen who is never happy with anything unless it has to do with him making amazing feats.

    You rock Shamus!

  23. Vegedus says:

    Hm, I’ve never heard of that rule. Is it in v. 3.5?

  24. James says:

    Ha ha! Joke’s on them! Orcs are only 1/2 CR critters, and they are too high a level to get any XP…

  25. Luklan says:

    @James

    Actually, Aragorn’s comment suggests the DM DID give them XP.

    Anyway, I love Gimli and Aragorn’s expressions, and Leggylass’ just sold it ^^ Proof that you can’t please everyone at once.

  26. Jindra34 says:

    James: Luklan is likely right… the way the campaign has been going they are likely low level charecters… with good equipment…

    1. WJS says:

      Good equipment? Name a single magic item they have.

  27. Namfoodle says:

    If the DM is doing his job, you should never need to level up more than one at a time. If you’re being honest about the challenge rating and all that stuff, I think it’s supposed to take around 10 reasonable encounters to go up a level. It would take A LOT of Mountain Dew to go through more than that in a single gaming session. In 3.5, I’ve never leveled up faster than once every other session or so.

    When I was a wee lad of 11, my brand new 1st edition 1st Level Monk killed a Dragon with the help of one other 1st level charcter. I can’t even remember how we managed it. I think we just threw a rock at it and it keeled over – The DM was a complete goober, I think he just wanted us to like him. The Dragon’s Horde was 2,000,000 gp, a cool mil per character – and gp = xp back then. So after playing the character for a few minutes, he was next in line to be the Grand Master of Floweres. Shameful, really, but we were young.

  28. wtrmute says:

    I’ve had my players kill a Dragon and gain four, five levels at once in the very first campaign I ran — I was 11, and only had the 2nd Edition DMG (not the PHB). But the worst was a campaign of a lesser-known system which we played when I was 16; our GM had a player in another, parallel campaign which was much less frequent than ours — so he came up to us once and said that he wasn’t going to award experience anymore, otherwise our characters would overtake his on the other campaign. So we adventured once a week for six months with no XP gain for it.

    In retrospect, I don’t exactly know why in the blazes we ever agreed with this. So I very much understand the feeling…

  29. Da Rogue says:

    We actually lvled 3 times in one session. It was our last chance to play and it was an all day session. We lvld in the middle of the session; and had to kill off this really high lvl wizard. Fortunately, we never had to actually figth the bugger. We just sabatoged his tower. No one can survive that much brick and stone falling on ’em.

  30. Roxysteve says:

    Richard Dragonbane Says:
    Blindeye: Actually, D&D characters DO just “magically learn new spells, abilities, and what not.” The rules 100% support the Barbarian going up a level in the middle of the desert and gaining a level of Wizard. He not only magically learns to read, but magically finds a spellbook magically full of 1st-level spells. Most GMs will say you can't do it… but that's Rule 0, not actually supported by the Rules As Written.

    Well,I’m no expert but my 3.5 DMG definitely refers to the process of making characters earn their level benefits (new spells etc) by questing/studying in game for them.

    Steve.

  31. Jindra34 says:

    RoxySteve:Actually the rule you are reffering to is entirely optional… though highly recomended…

  32. Rolld20 says:

    S’funny, I’m in a BESM game which operates on a point-buy system, instead of D&D’s level-based one, and (with the exception of one player) we rarely think of character advancement. Every 4-8 months we get enough points for some skill advances, maybe an ability upgrade. Two of the players have spent most of the game with unspent points, because they’re happy with their characters as they are.

    Then there was the D&D game where one player charted the number of sessions we gamed for each level to prove to the GM how the rate of leveling was insufficient.

    Ah, well, one player’s ‘reward’ is another’s ‘irrelevant’. :)

  33. Scarlet Knight says:

    wtrmute Says “In retrospect, I don't exactly know why in the blazes we ever agreed with this.”

    Maybe because you were 11 …

    This is why I think the 1 level rule is there, to save fledgling games from fledgling DM’s.

  34. Dunamos says:

    Heh; actually the thing that made me laugh in this one was Aragorn talking over the DM’s narration.

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

    Susano’s post made my day. Yes, HERO System gives the instant gratification XP, but it’s awarded at the end of an adventure and its expenditure is always subject to GM approval. For dramatic purposes, XP can be spent, with GM’s permission, in the middle of an adventure if it will save a character’s life or some such thing. The rulebook gives the example of a PC suddenly figuring out how to fly a plane just moments before the plane he’s in crashes into the ocean. The book also suggests that the GM assign XP to skills that would logically have improved during the adventure, perhaps as a bonus for good RPing.

    At the same time, though, there’s something about reaching that next plateau in D&D that is intensely gratifying. Leveling up always feels like an accomplishment, and the anticipation of doing so is what often drives me to guzzle one more bottle of Diet Mountain Dew and finish the scenario.

  36. Madalch says:

    > Is this where Legolas looks to kill a rat as a seperate adventure just to
    > get 1 xp & level up?

    Now -that- brings back memories of my first D&D campaign (not First Edition, not AD&D, just D&D- the version that came in a boxed set with dice that you coloured in the numbers with a white crayon). How many times did “Saruman of the Silver Staff” waltz through a Monty Haul style dungeon with enough loot to make Tiamat jealous, and then kill a rat the next morning?

    I was 13- what do you expect?

  37. txknight says:

    [QUOTE]RoxySteve:Actually the rule you are reffering to is entirely optional… though highly recomended…[/QUOTE]

    Hmmm… Hope that quote thing actually works.

    In any case, I disagree. While it’s definately silly for an illiterate barbarian to suddenly learn to read and get a spell book in the middle of the desert, I also think it takes away from the game if every time the characters level they have to train somewhere. Afterall, if we bend the rules of reality to allow a man to sling a fireball, why not bend it further and let him learn from his experience almost magically?

    Oh and Shamus, good work as usual. And I agree with an earlier commentor. I think it would be hilarious to see Legolas hunting for a rabbit or perhaps an orc who isn’t quite dead yet just to gain that 1 xp!

    1. Arkanabar says:

      One of the things I love about Earthdawn is that most abilities (Talents, in ED-cant) are learned through magic, and with enough Legend Points and eight hours of meditation, you can improve any ability you have by one rank. You still have to train to learn new Talents and advance to new Circles, though. Though, with suitably epic RP, it’s possible to convince the GM to let you “spontaneously” initiate into a new Discipline and thus some of its earliest talents.

    2. WJS says:

      That’s an example of the “All-or-Nothing” fallacy. You’re basically saying “Well, our setting has magic, so why not do away with common sense altogether?”

      It’s well established that wizards gain their powers through years of long, hard study. It’s stretching disbelief for an illiterate barbarian to multiclass to wizard at all, let alone overnight.

  38. Nogard_Codesmith says:

    Legolas: are all the orcs dead?
    DM: For the most part. Soliders are putting swords thru the ones that are still alive
    Legolas: I find a live one and and bandage it up.
    DM: ummm… ok…
    Legolas: i rolled a 19 on my healing check.
    DM: look, i see where youre going with this, but you’re not gunna get any xp for essentially re-killing a defensless orc
    Legolas: I give him a sword, and let him have the first attack. I’ll be flat footed and everything.
    DM: *sigh*

    1. WJS says:

      It doesn’t matter if you give him a sword, he’s still only CR 1.

  39. Ellie says:

    wonderful, wonderful! keep up the good work!!! I absolutely love this comic. don’t let the critics get ya down!

    I hate the “one level at a time” rule, especially because my DM is a bit stingy with the XP…

    I love the expression on gimli’s face! priceless.

    keep it up!

    1. WJS says:

      Wait, if your DM is stingy with XP, how the hell are you in a position to gain more than one level at once?

  40. Matt says:

    My earliest 2nd edition memories involve being told by the DM that our PCs suddenly remembered that their father was a demigod whilst between a cliff and an army of skeletons. We prayed and Dad sent a tidal wave or lightning or some such nonsense to kill the baddies. After this we found a staircase leading directly to Hell, fighting demons the whole way down. I don’t remember what level we were or leveling up at all, but I think we managed to kill Lolth somehow. Needless to say we were also around 13 or so.

  41. Susano says:

    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1111#comment-65467

    We get ours at the end of every play session (and subject to GM approval) can spend them before the next play session. Hence: instant gratification! (That, and I can buy what I want, when I want it!)

  42. Skwyd says:

    Great comic as always.

    To those talking about the d20 “level up” system. A character doesn’t train *after* they gain enough XP to advance the level. The idea is that during a character’s exploits, they are studying, trainging, learning to read, studying arcane writings, meditating on divine insights, or whatever is appropriate to the *next* level they will take. When you gain enough XP to go up and take that level of wizard (or whatever) that is supposed to represent the point at which your training and studying finally “pay off” and you can now use the new abilities.

  43. Alia says:

    The way my DMs have always run leveling up is that if you don’t get a feat or bonus spells, then everything is okay. It is reasonable to assume that from level to level you are going to get stronger and better at hitting. Skills, if they have been used, can be bought with no training time. If they are a brand new skill, or haven’t really been used recentally (from level a to level b), then you have to justify it. I once justfied two ranks into Craft: Sandwich cause that was all my character was making for the party.

    Feats need to be trained for or justified.

    For all Casters except Wizards, rest is all that is needed to learn new spells. If we level up in the middle of a day, then no spell benefits are gained. Wizards need to still study their spell books. Some DMs have had spells magically appear. Others have said that the whole book is already filled with spells (which the player still gets to choose), but you can only understand them when you reach the level.

    Finally, the most insane leveling experance was when the party jumped 3 levels in a session. The DM was awarding XP for grades, and only A’s and B’s got you anything. We hadn’t played in a month or so. We were already close to the next level. When the DM showed up, every one presented him with tests and papers. We gained two levels and then killed things on the way to the third. The DM then recened the XP for grades rule.

  44. harrowed1 says:

    Can’t wait ’till they encounter the Ents. “We see what?! And their making the trees move on their own!!? MOUNTED ATTACK CHARGE!!!!”

  45. Kristin says:

    Heh. Maybe it’s because of having started d20-style play on video games, but as a DM I find making my players train in-game is tedious and not worth it. Since we usually level up every 2-4 sessions, and I usually time it so that it’s at the end of a major part of the adventure, the party just throws all their treasure into a party fund while they’re in the middle and divide it up as they level up.
    Then it’s shopping day. I don’t make them RP shopping, and I don’t make them justify learning unless it’s something absolutely ridiculous. If my fighter wanted to take a level of swashbuckler, or marshal, that’s fine. If he wanted to become a wizard, then he can tell me that since the party wizard is his (in-game) ex-girlfriend, he was studying with her in between bouts of other non-RPed activity. Cleric or Paladin, he’d have to convince me that he’s found a call to his deity, and RP appropriately in the future.

  46. David V.S. says:

    smilydeth,
    Shamus is not burning out, just enjoy this differently.

    He warned us about a set of strips with computer game themes because they were a product of events in his life.

    He has also clearly been working more on getting the perfect expressions in screen captures (quite successfully, too) for humor value rather than speeding through the movies at too fast a pace for his liking just to get to the next big verbal joke.

    If he was authoring a novel, such changes in tone would be really odd. But this webcomic has always been an expression of his relationship with gaming and fantasy stories, and so it is appropriate for it to change tone somewhat to allow that to be fully explored.

  47. Jindra34 says:

    The next comic should involve them going rat hunting…

  48. bruce says:

    In D&D experience points are abstract and used more like a currency than real learning.

    Wizard: I want to learn another spell. Can I go to the library and learn them?
    DM: No, you’ll have to out and kill some stuff first.

    I prefer the idea that through your adventures you gain a greater understanding of magic/combat/thieving, etc which allows you to “upgrade” and gain better spells/combat maneuvres/skills, etc.

  49. Jonny says:

    Awesome. Great as Always.

  50. I have to differ with the critics offering back-handed compliments – you’re doing good work that keeps us coming back. I think a coffee cup order is,.. um… in order? The very least we can do to support this comic is drink our morning coffees out of DM of the Rings mugs before we spit it out over our keyboards…

    Will also support shop where I buy new keyboards (my poor wee G4! – At least the flatscreen cleans off).

    A true revelation within the gem of Tolkien-based lore. Well-done, and I’ll continue recommending this for reading. Still only reading three web-strips. Yours would be sorely missed, so here’s hoping that won;’t be an issue for some time yet.

    Regards,
    Damien

  51. Lev Lafayette says:

    For Bruce @ #48.

    One ancient game which managed to get around this was Chivalry & Sorcery way back in 1978. Wizards received XP for studying arcane tomes. Thieves received XP for stealing stuff. Priests for praying and Knights for clanking stuff on the head.

    It was a great game, but the rules were almost impossible to read.

  52. Alasseo says:

    Actually- my favourite experience system (both as a GM and a player) lets you gain XP as normal, but you can only spend it on things you (the player) have specifically had your character do in-game (or specify as your character’s course of action for downtime). When it comes to learning new skills/spells/feats, you have to roleplay finding someone of sufficient level of ability to train you, and designate 2-3 hours per day minimum to get that first rank in that skill (or whatever), from whenceforth you can improve on your own (until secret techniques come in, or some other equivalent that the GM says would require special training).

    Mind you, I normally play L5R 3rd, Paranoia 5th, Serenity or WFRP 2nd with a bunch of real grognards, so the general attitude to levelling, character “builds” and so forth is quite different from that of the average D&D gamer. It works for us though.

  53. MrDeodorant says:

    Well, the rule is there mainly as a fallback for when a player gets too clever and kills a god against the will of the DM. Under normal play, you do one of two things: go with the “thirteen encounters per level” rule, or the “We level up every session or two” mainstay. Those thirteen encounters are designed literally as “resource wasters”… some potions, some hp, some spells, ad nauseum. And they’re boring. So one huge encounter, with lots of tension and an actual threat of death, often becomes the only attractive choice. Thing is, even then, you shouldn’t be able to survive long enough to kill (or defeat, or escape… many of my victories have been DM-intended retreats from mighty foes) much more than a level’s worth of stuff. If you are, then your DM isn’t playing the monsters right. That’s not uncommon; it’s why WotC is now releasing tips for how to play tricky monsters that don’t get used as well as they should.

  54. Fickle says:

    Gimli looks like he’s having a religious experience. XD Yay for happy players at last!

  55. Harlock says:

    Heh. The most absurd power-leveling experience I had was a summer campaign. We started at around 6th level (some higher, ’cause this was 2nd ed and we all had the same xp total) But then the party’s wild mage got a hold of a Deck of Many Things and…well, the upshot was that we all got 22 useful magical items and 1.1 million xp. In one session. Then things got really silly. I haven’t played with any of them since (except for my former roommate, anyway…but he was neither DM nor wild mage in the above scenario)

  56. Arson55 says:

    I had a wild mage once. He had a Rod of Wonder; it was his absolute favorite magic item…even though it turned him into a drow…and then into a woman.

    My cousin was DMing and he had several books that had nothing but lists of magic items. One of them had like six optional versions of the Rod of Wonder. I got a weird(er) one.

  57. kellandros says:

    Heh. Things get much sillier when DM’s break the one level at a time rule. Only a very very few can pull it off successfully.

    I had one DM for a short campaign that provided the most ridiculously over the top character creation I’ve ever witnessed(especially in a heavily modified 2nd Ed format). Somehow the party seemed vaguely balanced, or at least we all managed to be overpowered in fairly different ways. When the level 1 party(with 2 7th level NPCs) wipe out 10+ 12th level fighters in their first encounter, things are a bit out there. When they all suddenly become 9th level characters, now thats a bit silly.

    Unfortunately, I’ve never seen any campaign manage to do anything so over the top so well.

  58. Parzival says:

    Youngsters. Harrumph.

    Back in my day, you couldn’t go up in level until after the adventure had ended and you went to find a higher level NPC to train you. (Although once you got to a certain level, you could train yourself.) Either way, the character had to spend time and gold for the training. The truly hardcore players would play this out, but we just lumped it in to “time between adventures.” But there was none of this, “Wow, I killed one more orc! Suddenly, I’m a better magicuser!” nonsense. (Well, there was *some* of it, but at least we *imagined* that our characters had studied for a few weeks. Okay, so really we just wrote it down on our sheet and subtracted the gold. But it *amounted* to the same thing. Sort of.)

    Pah. “Instant level.” Pah.

  59. Richard says:

    I really feel for Legolas. When dawn is glimmering and the dice are still rolling, the only thing that keeps me going is the thought that every dead orc is another 10 XP in the kitty. To be denied all this just because of some stupid table, that’s outrageous!

    Of course, it could have been worse — the DM could have shared out the XP to all the Rohirrim, who after all did participate in the combat :)

  60. P-kaye says:

    I notice an OotS reference

  61. Rosuav says:

    So how many did Gimli and Legolas end up getting? Did Legolas end up having to go to his 1d4 dagger?

  62. Kristin says:

    Extended edition of Two Towers = Rewrite of Legolas’s “tie” with Gimli?

    Legolas: I’ve leveled up. I have all this XP left. Ooh, Orc.
    DM: He was already dead.
    Legolas: But he was twitching!
    DM: If he was twitching, it was because Gimli’s axe is buried in his central nervous system!

  63. Medium Dave says:

    Bah, role playing should be its own reward. I GM my freaking brains out and you want me to leverage you into even nastier abilities so you can ruin my 20 year long campaign? I give XP (GURPS) infrequently, and yeah I get teased about it, but when I DO award them people celebrate because it means something.

  64. Depaara says:

    Don’t listen to your detractors Shamus, this comic rocks the house. Don’t ever stop! Just out of curiosity, are you going to bring back the guys playing the hobbits or are those characters now NPCs like Gandalf?

  65. vonKreedon says:

    Alasseo Says:
    Actually- my favourite experience system (both as a GM and a player) lets you gain XP as normal, but you can only spend it on things you (the player) have specifically had your character do in-game (or specify as your character's course of action for downtime).

    This, absolutely. As DM I have players tell me what things they are working to either learn at all or improve. Then I make them spend time doing it before they get granted the improvement.

  66. Pink Fuzzy Bunny says:

    The joke in this comic should have been to note that the orcs are individually more than 8 levels below them (CR 1/2 vs mid level characters) and so despite fighting through the night and wearing the corners off their dice, the PCs *didn’t gain a single experience point!*

    The harsh reality: It doesn’t matter how dangerous the encounter is, if the individuals in it aren’t dangerous alone, the current rules say the encounter is worth NO experience.

  67. Melfina the Blue says:

    Huzzah! They finally got XP. And I found this comic two days ago and love it.
    Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a D&D game where we had to get training in game for standard feats. Wizards have to get spells in game, of course, and if someone wants an unusual prestige class they may have to RP it out.
    And the comics just keep getting better. Are there going to be complaints about lack of clerics when they get to the Halls of the Dead?

  68. Ahh, another great one!

    I agree with the above comments, don’t listen to the nay-sayers!
    This comic PWN3S!!!1!!!!11!

    (sorry, had to do it :P)

    Keep up the good work.

  69. wtrmute says:

    Pink Fuzzy Bunny: Really? Things must’ve changed since 3.0, then. I distinctly remember there being a modifier for number of monsters encountered which would push the CR up into the stratosphere?

    Actually, according to http://www.d20srd.org/encounterCalculator.htm, fighting 100 CR-1/2 Orcs is EL 11. Unfortunately, it won’t calculate the ECL for 10,000… Except if we cheat and calculate the CR for an encounter with 100 CR 11 Orcish centuries, which yields CR 24. I’d say the concerns over levelling up more than once are justified, then.

  70. Roxysteve says:

    txknight Says:
    [QUOTE]RoxySteve:Actually the rule you are reffering to is entirely optional… though highly recomended…[/QUOTE]

    Hmmm… Hope that quote thing actually works.

    In any case, I disagree. While it's definately silly for an illiterate barbarian to suddenly learn to read and get a spell book in the middle of the desert, I also think it takes away from the game if every time the characters level they have to train somewhere. Afterall, if we bend the rules of reality to allow a man to sling a fireball, why not bend it further and let him learn from his experience almost magically?

    If you are going to try and argue with me, at least do me the courtesy of quoting me and not someone else responding to my original post. :o)

    The gist of my post was that questing for level benefits is held by some to be a “house rule” whereas it is actually a suggestion in the official WoC DMG. I wrote nothing about how right or wrong the idea of instant levelling was, since I was not concerned with that issue at all. I’ll play it either way with a smile. :o) See?

    Tech note: The quote thing didn’t work, mostly because this site doesn’t support fake square-brackety HTML like some forum sites do. That said, it doesn’t support an arbitrary subset of some fairly common HTML tags either, and entity names are right out. What I do to quote someone is to take their original post, copy it into the textarea box, cut out the irrelevant parts (like the date) and bracket them in I or EM tags. You may argue with the style, but it seems to work in differentiating my response from what I am responding to. I release this methodology under the creative commons, DRM-free, no front-end loading or annual fees open community thingy. You don’t even have to leave me a sack of used oncers in the Isengard public lavatories. Be free, little italicised quoting scheme! Go to your destiny with my blessing! Fly! Fly to your future!

    Steve.

  71. YaVerOt says:

    >Pink Fuzzy Bunny: Really? Things must've changed since 3.0, then. I distinctly remember there being a modifier for number of monsters encountered which would push the CR up into the stratosphere?

    No, because when you reread that section (DMG3.5 p 49), you’ll see that more creatures increase the Encounter Level (EL) not the Challenge Rating (CR), and XP is based of off CR, not EL. And that table caps at 12 opponents, because the system just break down at that point anyway.

    Of course, since this is the first time they’ve gained XP since they started, fractional CR creatures still provide full XP to 1st level characters, infact fractional CR creatures provide XP to characters of 8th level since the chart (DMG p38) doesn’t have a fractional column so you use the CR1 column and divide.

    wtrmute: Since you mentioned it, calculating the ECL is easy, all the orcs have a +0 LA, so their ECL equals their total HD (including class levels). There is no mass Effective Character Level as that just doesn’t make any sense.

  72. Scarlet Knight says:

    My head hurts! You know, I think I’ll forget all this ECL,LA,CR & EL, & just sneak out my old AD&D DMG (by TSR) table to figure out experience and simply not tell the players how I figured out my numbers…

  73. Janni says:

    Now that actual experience points are involved, I bet all the Hobbits will want to play again after all! :-)

  74. vonKreedon says:

    All the rigamarole of D&D, the EL and CR and AR etc., are what kept me from ever having any enthusiasm for that gaming system. All the bureaucracy gets in the way of the storytelling.

  75. Alex says:

    I’m with VonKreedon.

    I hate gaming systems and the only reason I see to use one is if you don’t know how to run a campign yourself (basically it’s a crutch for beginners).
    I would much rather be a Wanna-be-actor type of player and play a Freeform campign (so I do use A gaming system sue me) then spend money and time on rules I don’t need.

    Now I’m saying this because I think most of the people here are experienced role players and well aware of the many flaws the DnD system has (for example the ones made fun of in this comic).

    A good GM can replace all the books you need and the dice, after all it’s the GM that calls the shots not the player, you go with what is realistic to the situation or at least plausible.
    When I role play I love the funny accents, the theatrical gestures and the descriptions that replace the rolling of dice, the math and the rule books.

    Now I’m not saying you’re doing anything wrong but I like to focus on actual role playing and get caught up in the story and action.
    Plus it saves money and time.

    Would love to hear your thoughts. (What am I getting wrong, what advantages dnd has, why you like your gaming system).

  76. Alex says:

    And I do realise that not everybody enjoys role playing games for the same reasons or in the same way I do.

    I also realise I am long winded. =/

  77. Chosen One says:

    Alex: When I role play I love the funny accents, the theatrical gestures and the descriptions that replace the rolling of dice, the math and the rule books.

    Same for me and my old group. Roleplay instead system, dice and math. If your action is good for the story being told, you succeed. Of course, it takes a lot of trusting on DM and others players. But it works :)
    It’s still funny to see the people faces when, at cons, we say “We will start a session of no system”.

  78. MONKEEYYY says:

    Well you need a system or the DM(or GM) will just create outcomes that are most dramatic and most crowd-pleasing. Some systems are better than the others. The warhammer roleplaying game was a favourite of mine. I remember first playing it straight after a failed dnd campaign (the party members were either captured or killed *sheds a tear*). The system is so grounded and ‘realistic’.

    I remember when my soldier character decided that he was going to play hero and attempted to save some children from a rather large skeleton. GM says The skeleton hits your character and you take 5 damage. I remember saying “but I’m all out of hit points”. GM buries his head in the rulebook then reappears to say “your right eye is destroyed by the hit. Make the following modifications to your character sheet.”

    After that the whole party took what the GM said seriously and whenever he said “enemies appear” everyone used to moan and gasp. Thats realism your average GM couldn’t imagine up. If you made your own rules up you’d soon find plenty of flaws….

  79. capitain says:

    Yeah. No-System rocks.
    I haven´t had a game that remained in system. Not one. Well except the first few… A rule that would stand in the way of storytelling, we´d lose it. However I´ve never managed to level more than once per setting. A rule we´d surely have ditched if it ever crossed our paths. XP are something to be earned. Dwarf rolls rock off cliff. Smashes 12 orcs. Dwarf gets xp for Rocktrap and xp for ONE orc. Easy. Why? In terms of learning it doesn´t make difference if you nuke one orc or 10k -with one rock/fireball/somethingelse. OK. He could jump down and hack `em, to get all xp. But would get hurt, notch axe, lose helmet. So we´d just rather award ingenuity and flow in storytelling than give it for killing. Is more fun than anything else.

  80. Blindeye says:

    Richard Dragonbane: Let me draw your attention to page 58 of the 3.5 Player’s Handbook, in the sub-category ‘Training and Practice’. Also, check out the 3.5 Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 197 ‘How PCs Improve’.

    The Player’s Handbook makes the training time is strict, inferring you have to have downtime in between adventures to level up, rather than suddenly gaining skill magically all of a sudden in the middle of a dungeon.

    The Dungeon Master’s Guide expands that, and gives some techniques to handle level advancement.

    In your campaign, sure, go ahead and make it be a ‘poof! You’re stronger’ thing, but the rules, as they are written, seem to strongly lean towards at least taking SOME time to make gaining levels seem realistic through training time.

  81. txknight says:

    “If you are going to try and argue with me, at least do me the courtesy of quoting me and not someone else responding to my original post. :o)”

    My apologies, however I wasn’t responding to you. I’m not exactly sure who I was responding too and frankly I don’t feel like digging through the posts to try and figure out who that was. But regardless, my apologize if I offended you.

    “Tech note: The quote thing didn't work, mostly because this site doesn't support fake square-brackety HTML…”

    Thanks, but that tech note is requiring more brain cells than my overwork coffee soaked brain can handle. I think I’ll stick with good ole fashion double quotes. :-)

  82. Jindra34 says:

    txkight: you were responding to me

  83. wtrmute says:

    Whoo, boy, this is going to be long.

    Alex wrote:

    …I hate gaming systems and the only reason I see to use one is if you don't know how to run a campign yourself (basically it's a crutch for beginners).
    I would much rather be a Wanna-be-actor type of player and play a Freeform campign (so I do use A gaming system sue me) then spend money and time on rules I don't need.

    More power to you. Personally, I can’t stand wannabe actors, basically because the few I’ve played with and the many I’ve read ranting on the Net are insufferably smug about how they “get” the hobby and others don’t. I’ve plenty of amateur theater groups I can join to explore a character’s psychological motivations, I play RPGs for a rousing adventure.

    Now I'm saying this because I think most of the people here are experienced role players and well aware of the many flaws the DnD system has (for example the ones made fun of in this comic).

    Most of the jokes about the comic have more to do with self-defeating mentality of bad GMs and players than about the specific foibles of D&D. After all, D&D is not all foibles… more on that later.

    A good GM can replace all the books you need and the dice, after all it's the GM that calls the shots not the player, you go with what is realistic to the situation or at least plausible.
    When I role play I love the funny accents, the theatrical gestures and the descriptions that replace the rolling of dice, the math and the rule books.

    True. An extremely good GM can replace the players, as well, and write a romance novel instead. I’ve heard this school of thought of GM infallibility argued before, typically by 1st-Edition buffs or OD&Ders. In actual practice, the GM adjudicating everything is a risky proposition, because eventually a player who disagrees with the GM in an issue will feel that he was hurt arbitrarily. For this reason, that anecdote about “Cops and Robbers” is repeated in nearly every rulebook introduction.

    On the other hand, a set of well-defined and self-consistent rules (like 3.5, amazingly enough) can be agreed in advance, and there will be a perception of impartiality shared by all which usually prevents the worst of the bickering, as well as a good sense of what one may expect given whatever situation. A good rules system is like a good Constitution, or at least a legal code. It makes role-playing “democratic”, in the sense that everyone is bound to the same laws.

    Now I'm not saying you're doing anything wrong but I like to focus on actual role playing and get caught up in the story and action.
    Plus it saves money and time.

    For some definition of “role playing”. I’m sure telling a great story is a most rewarding activity, but people may have different visions of the same story, and having yours shot down by the GM because he thought what you wanted to do wasn’t cool enough or didn’t mesh well with his vision is extremely frustrating.

    Someone commented in response to an earlier comic that LotR made a great fantasy novel, but would be a terrible campaign, since the “hero” spends most of it hiding like a scared chick. In the end, great stories and great campaigns have different requirements: the former is like an intricate jigsaw puzzle where each piece slowly falls into place and coalesces into a whole, and the latter is a lot of backstory which may or may not ever come into play and a couple of interesting initial developments, the rest being written by the players as they intervene on their environment. That’s the great mistake being lampooned in these comics — the GM has a very specific ending in mind, and thence the railroading.

    So instead, I prefer to agree on a set of rules, and see how the situation develops from the raw ingredients placed at the table: The players, the world and the GM. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised, sometimes I’m not. I always think it was worth it, however, even when the tale told later falls rather short of epic.

  84. Yahzi says:

    I guess I have a different take. I always thought my job as GM was to implement the world the rules described. I didn’t make up quests or any of that stuff. It was up to the players to figure out what they wanted to do.

    Usually they spent most of their time trying to survive. My worlds were kinda… dangerous. :D

  85. Zippy Wonderdog says:

    unusual is the word, in a campaign we where having an informal competition to see who could do the most damge, the wizard was winning until we came up against a party of mindflayers.
    We killed them all except for one annoying bugger, the cleric casted the spinning blades spell (forgot the name) and so the mindflayer levitated and no one had a fly spell handy. Next round the cleric summons an earth elemental through the roof and commands it to fall on the mindflayer making and passing a grapel check on the way past and falling through the blade spell, at about 300 points we gave up trying to calculate how much damage you’d take being pushed through a blender and having several tonnes dropped on you.

    1. WJS says:

      I’m pretty sure that shouldn’t have worked. Even if there’s open space up above the ceiling, you have no line-of-effect to summon anything up there.

  86. Strykkre says:

    Actually, i think the proper wording of the “one-level-at-a-time” rule is that you cannot gain more than one level _from a single ep award_. i.e. multiple awards during the game session means possiblity of more than one level in single game session, i think everyone twisted it around when the DMs started awarding ep at the end of the session instead of during the session.
    As a side note, the almight EGG himself has said that in the games he runs, his players level every 13-14 SESSIONS . . .

  87. Strykkre says:

    oh, and for all you 3.5 players out there, you might wanna go back and re-read the DMG all those orcs, while one by one equal CR 1/2, that many at one time is a whole helluva lot higher . . .

  88. Scarlet Knight says:

    I love to role play & find myself doing so even in these posts. Still, whenever I hear that someone has trouble role-playing in a d20 system because it stifles creativity, I am reminded of the scene from “Tootsie”:

    Agent: You played a *tomato* for 30 seconds – they went a half a day over schedule because you wouldn’t sit down.
    Michael (Dustin Hoffman): Yes – it wasn’t logical.
    Agent: YOU WERE A TOMATO. A tomato doesn’t have logic. A tomato can’t move.
    Michael : That’s what I said. So if he can’t move, how’s he gonna sit down, George? I was a stand-up tomato: a juicy, sexy, beefsteak tomato!

  89. Roxysteve says:

    [txknight] Another tech freebie: There is no need to “did through the posts” to find something you need. All browsers offer a “find on this page” feature.

    I wasn’t insulted. I just don’t want to get called on to justify something I don’t personally subscribe to is all.

    Good luck with the double quotes. :o)

    Steve.

  90. stauron says:

    Love the comics, keep them up!

    The combination of 247 books (and counting), arbitrary rules (a mage can’t pick up a short sword and use it with a penalty, but a M-U/TH can?) and plain silliness (wearing heavy armor makes your character harder to hit but a sword blow does the same damage to a character wearing robes and the fighter in field plate?) mixed with rules lawyers soured me on D&D.

    I am not wanting to debate and I know you all have brought this up before.

    But DragonQuest rules spank the D&D system. At least before TSR bought them and screwed them up.

  91. fair_n_hite_451 says:

    There were (and are) lots of rules systems which spank D&D. But in the same way that there are several operating systems options which spank Windows, AD&D is so popular and so common that there is a kind of short-hand which exists that enables play to proceed quickly.

    Try gathering a group that’s never played before and get a game going. If it’s not some form of D&D variant, you’ll spend more time explaining why “game system X” isn’t Ad&D than you will playing.

    And, AD&D is perfectly capable of allowing for “acting” rather than “dice rolling” … that’s a decent GMs job to deal with, not some constraint of the rules system.

  92. Pester says:

    Namfoodle and wtrmute, you two weren’t playing [i]together[/i] when you were 11, were you?

    Hey, the security code here is d20. Is that a coincidence?

  93. Cynder says:

    Awww!! Look at Aragorn’s cute smile!

    Awww!! Look at Gimli almost in tears!

    Awww!! Legolas is pissed off! That’s…funny!

    But still…

    *all together now!*

    AAAAWWWWWWWW!!!!! ^_^

  94. Mina says:

    These comics really do get better and better every time. And since I’m so late in reading them, they’re all done, no waiting time, just click next and laugh even harder!

    Then I get up to use the washroom and realize the morning light had long faded from my partially parted blinds and I was sitting all alone in front of a glowing screen in a dark, silent room with nothing but my geeky laughter filling it. I really do feel like a nerd.

    It’s so worth it.

  95. henrebotha says:

    Might I just mention how much I detest the “one level at a time” rule. It’s one of the handful of rules I just toss right out the window, along with Toughness (*three fucking hit points?!* Come ON!) and wizards not being able to take Spell Penetration or Spell Focus as bonus feats. A WTF if ever there was one.

  96. Aragorn says:

    mwahahahahahahahahahahaha yer server gets no mercy!! mwahaha *two thumb up*

  97. d'Antarel says:

    That’s bullshit. What happens if you gain enough XP to go over gaining two levels at once. Like you go from Level 1 to Level 3 and are now 300 away from leveling to Level 4. You’re saying that you would only go to Level 2?…and you’re only put about 1 XP away from Level 3? What happens to the rest to XP? Does it not count? Does that mean you’re being jipped out of your XP? Where does it go? Is it given to an NPC? Is it given to the DM for the hell of it? Is it given to the character who DIDN’T level…if there is one besides the bazooka character? WHAT THE FUCK?!

  98. Moridin says:

    @#97: The XP just doesn’t count according to rules. Basically if an encounter would give you that much XP, your DM is doing something wrong: For example, in the situation in the comic, the characters shouldn’t gain XP for all the dead orcs, just from the ones they killed(and maybe a story award). According to Deities & Demigods:”If your players face a god, you should give them 1000XP/level. This is probably the most XP they gain once, and should raise them 1 level” I can’t imagine a situation which would warrant giving the more than that.

  99. Trae says:

    In the campaign I’m playing in, the DM doesn’t give experience. She has set places in the adventure where we’re supposed to level up. Kill 40 orcs and their leader? Ding. Kill the ogre guarding prisoners? Ding. Actually finish the current quest? Probably a Ding there too.

  100. Ripsaw says:

    Had to post for a couple reasons:
    1. I have this OCD need to make large almost-round numbers into large round numbers (99 into 100).
    2. Favorite one so far (I’m doing an archive crawl).

  101. Serenitybane says:

    The first frame of Gimli was too cute! Perfect for his emotion hehe!!

  102. caradoc says:

    Leveling up is a meta-game event and not part of the story. Surely, that was the point of this installment and reason we find it funny. In the “real” campaign, characters accumulate experience over time and there is no instant when suddenly an ability takes a quantum jump. The level is an artifact of the gaming system that determines what line of a probability table to use in determining an outcome, not some rank bestowed on the character. Therefore, leveling must take place out of the context of the adventure.

  103. Michael says:

    As for leveling up jokes: We used to campaign back in the days when you got most of your XP from treasure — even to the point that one of our group wrote “The Intercontinental Union of Disgusting Characters”, (Do a google search for it) about people who leveled up from killing centaurs and taking their 4 1-million GP gems. The whole “Get a GP, gain an XP” was so lampooned by the silly side of our group that a running joke was “Ah, a gold piece “.

    The ultimate spoof of that came in an adventure when we had a chance to choose a prize. One of the prizes was a “gold piece” — the person who took it got (if I remember correctly) a three level temporary boost for the next three gaming sessions.

    Oh — If you ever get a chance to run in a Monty Hall dungeon — DON’T. Mr. Hall was a horrific opponent, and his deals … aack! (A “Lets make a deal” themed dungeon. Lots and Lots of treasure. Deadly beyond compare. I think he was a variant of The Devil.)

  104. Michael says:

    Oh piffle. This blog clobbered part of that last message.

  105. Grom says:

    We had a house rule that you only leveled up in town. We got our xp at the end of the adventure if it was enough for more then one level so be it. (Though I don’t ever remember it happening more then twice.) Our world was such that we were rarely more then two days ride from a good sized town or city. How it normally worked out was that we got our xp at the start of a session and we then spent that session leveling and loot spliting. We’d have our shopping spree, upgrade armor and weapons if possiable. Wizards would see about getting new spells. It all kinda worked out as if we were training. :-) Heck it was part of the fun. Rolling HP’s talking over what ways to take your char. We’d hash over the adventure, give the DM what-for for the silly stuff he pulled, and cheers for the cool.

    I think bottom line was, we liked the game, we liked the system, but with house rules firmly in place we felt we improved it. Which was always the point of D&D. At the time we played those were guildlines, not rules. Oh, and I love my dice! No way I’m givin up my rolling of the die to the DM! That’s just wrong… Wrong in so many ways.

    I know this is last to the party, and may never be read, but hey… I had to say it.

    Love the Comic!

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