DM of the Rings CIV:
Girl Trouble

By Shamus Posted Friday May 25, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 151 comments

Eowyn wants to come along.
Eowyn wants to come along.
Eowyn wants to come along.

A lot of tension in a story happens when the characters do something against the wishes of the audience. This isn’t really possible in the context of an RPG, because the characters ARE the audience.

It pretty much means you can’t create moments like the one where (in the books, mind you) Eowyn begs Aragorn to let her ride with him into battle, and he refuses because he has no right to accept. If you try, you’ll end up with nonsense like what you see above, because 90% of the players out there will simply let her join without a second thought. The other 10% will try to have sex with her first.

 


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151 thoughts on “DM of the Rings CIV:
Girl Trouble

  1. Rashala says:

    WOHOOOO First comment

    1. Menakles says:

      “WOHOOOO” isn’t actually a comment. Surprised noone has noticed this in the past 7 years.

      Great strip btw. I’ve spent most of the afternoon reading it. One of the benefits of living in the future. Now excuse me while I read on. Enjoy your wait ’till the next strip People of the Past!

  2. Kaen says:

    lol that’s too good, I’ve known too many of the 10% in my games.

  3. Browncoat says:

    Brilliant. If this was the cause for the delay, I am well mollified!

  4. Jeff says:

    And sadly he did that too (the having sex with her first part…)

    Loving the story.

  5. Rollie says:

    Yet another gem.

  6. Karkki says:

    “If you try, you'll end up with nonsense like what you see above, because 90% of the players out there will simply let her join without a second thought. The other 10% will try to have sex with her first.”
    I do acree with that.

  7. DB says:

    Maybe Eowyn should of went along the lines of “Don’t throw away your life” on the paths of the dead. Funny, though.

  8. Myxx says:

    Man, Eowyn was all too real. A bit creepy in fact. I’m sure her inherent female rationality will somehow lead her to the conclusion that Aragorn is to blame for whatever decision she made.

  9. Brian says:

    This is the 14 years of my marriage in a nutshell.

  10. Sartorius says:

    Well… now nobody can say that fantasy role-playing games don’t depict women realistically.

    1. Akane says:

      Sexism, yay!

  11. Florian says:

    Shamus, your frame selection is just awesome in this strip. You manage to have the picture tell things… it didn’t want to.

  12. haashaastaak says:

    can’t wait till they find nothing but dry bones, albeit armed with swords, in the dungeon. The problem is, the roles called for heroes, and these guys aren’t heroes. If they were, they wouldn’t be wasting all their time playing Dungeons & Dragons; they would be out volunteering in retirement centers or working double shifts as firefighters.

  13. Morte says:

    Just the thought of the DM twisting himself in knots role playing Eowyn makes me giggle.

  14. John says:

    Brilliant! Worth the wait!

  15. Asil says:

    It is a shame that two-thirds of the women in this story spend so much time waffling about what their fate should be. Especially since they both seem to be trying to figure out how to tie themselves to Aragorn forever. Haven’t they read this comic?

    1. Kanerou says:

      To be fair, that didn’t happen in the books. IIRC, Arwen sat at home waiting for Aragorn to finish his business so he could come back and marry her; she also made a rather nice banner for him to fly as the rightful king. Eowyn was in love with what Aragorn represented (honor, glory, etc) as opposed to the man himself. After stabbing the Witch King in the face, she met Faramir and eventually got over this. They didn’t waffle over their fate at all. They knew what they wanted (or thought they wanted) and worked toward that end–perhaps a little less so with Arwen, but at least she did something.

      On a related note, I’m always amused to see how people approach the subject of Eowyn and “girl power”. She did do something great, but it seems like people gloss over the fact that she later settled down with a nice man (who was freaking awesome in his own right) and decided she’d rather heal people than skewer them.

      1. James Harrison will taste Manflesh! says:

        I’m pretty sure the “girl power” crowd doesn’t have any problem with women marrying or becoming doctors.

  16. Wraithshadow says:

    There’s a simple solution to this of course: make sure you outline both sides of the moral dilemma, why each should be chosen and why each shouldn’t. Your players will inevitably break character to tell you which side is right. So argue the other side- until they agree, then switch.

    Sooner or later they’ll shut up, actually think, and then come to a decision.

  17. -Chipper says:

    Shamus,
    I’m trying to figure out whether you post these at noon eastern us time out of kindness so it will not cut in to many people’s work time, or out of a dark streak that causes you endless laughter as you think of all the monitors with spewed food on them.

    This strip is in the top 10% of your strips. … along with most of the other strips. … errrr. Well, top notch lad, top notch.

  18. Steve says:

    “Oh my gosh, I did not need this”
    Eyes closed in dejection, perfect!

  19. Dal says:

    Rashala wrote:
    >WOHOOOO First comment

    Technically not a comment; thanks for playing though.

    Awesome strip today Shamus. Long-time reader, first-time poster. Good job.

    d.

  20. The_Mighty_Brain says:

    oh man this was well worth the wait! I was really looking forword to this part to im glad you did it. great work.

  21. Marmot says:

    Your comment below the comic was the star feature this time. Only 10%? Way underestimated :)

  22. Librain says:

    Oh man, I think I’ve spent most of my characters in the 10% bracket :(

    Although my current one would fit into neither. He would probably do something insanely crazy like kidnap her and take her down the paths of the dead as cannon fodder. Of course providing a reasonably logical explanation of why he was doing it, which would be quickly seen through by the GM, who would let it happen anyway because it’s just too good to not. Man I love my character :)

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

  23. brassbaboon says:

    Masterful. The shot of Eowyn at a loss for words as the DM tried to figure out how to handle Aragorn’s invitation to join them in a dungeon crawl is just too sweet. Excellent job.

  24. Lil'German says:

    The title of the comic sounds familiar… :D recycling after just one week must be a new record in webcomic numbers, mustn’t it? :D

    And i think this rather is what you get when you’re not flexible enough with your storyline. Why should the players know how to act when you give them some rather hilareous situation ? Whole thing about RPG is that the DM puts them into surprising situations and they try to get out of them the best way they know their characters could manage.

    Honestly this situation would have called for Eowyn to remind Aragorn of the little “souvenir” he got from her – last time they saw one another… That should have worked the way our uncrowned Master-DM wanted it to… (so that Eowyn has to stay behind and can sneak into the army like the book calls for).

    So another booo for the Union Pacific Railroading Company and a hooray for bored Aragorn :D

  25. Thiago says:

    Nice, really nice

  26. DocTwisted says:

    “Whatever, do what you like. I don’t care.”

    I’ve actually heard that phrase uttered by PC in various games where the DM tried to pull a similar style in presenting a NPCs personal dilemma. It’s one of the tenets of casual role play: The PCs don’t care what the NPCs are up to, so long as they don’t get in their way when it’s time for exp and loot.

  27. Aaron says:

    The ‘cap of Eowen is fabulous … just a standard “duh” look that tells more of the story than words could have. Screencap-fu ftw.

    Speaking of the 10%, I actually had a couple of players download (I have no idea from where and never went looking) Sex and D&D as a supplement to the standard 2nd Ed rules. Everything seemed ok until the Human Female got pregnant mid campaign and wouldn’t say how …

    The campaign ended very shortly thereafter.

    Awesome strip!! :D

  28. Anonymous Coward says:

    Hmm, sex.

  29. A Minor Ommision? Again?

    “A dungeon! We may see exitement yet ere this adventure is over.”

    Good to see the players still lurve the campaign :)

  30. okay! says:

    Peter Jackson and anybody else affiliated with the LOTR movies needs to be reading this series.

  31. Proteus says:

    That last panel was *awesome*!

    And having been mugged by Women’s Studies majors, it’s extra funny…

  32. Ward Hall says:

    I think you’ve got your percentages backward. 90% would try to bag her first, the other 10% would just let her tag along (and half those would let her come so they could bag her later).

  33. brassbaboon says:

    “90% of the players out there will simply let her join without a second thought. The other 10% will try to have sex with her first.”

    A couple of issues.

    Most of the characters in the games I play would almost certainly refuse to let any NPC “tag along” in a dungeon crawl, mostly because they would be afraid that would cut down their XP and loot percentages.

    In an interesting coincidence, in my current low-level campaign a very similar scenario has come up. An ex-girlfriend (NPC) of the party wizard has joined the party temporarily (because she knew the way to the bandit lair they were looking for), and pretty much the first question that was asked was “will she reduce our XP values?” My response was “if she fights that will reduce your share of XP.” That led to an interesting discussion where the party tried to reconcile their loss of XP against their likelihood of success of finding the bandit lair without a guide.

    In the meantime she has repeatedly tried to pull the wizard aside for “romantic liasons” and so far the wizard has pretty much refused to take her up on it.

    So I guess my party is in that 10% you are talking about….

  34. Isoyami says:

    Agreed, the shot of Aragorn going: “OMG, I SOOOO do not need this” are awesome.

    Great to see the comic back.

    Seamus, I noticed one thing. Both this comic (CIV) and a previous comic (CII) have the same title: “A Minor Omission”. I don’t know if you did that intentionally or not.

  35. ZackTheSTGuy says:

    You know, I think in all my years of gaming, not once have any of my players attempted to sleep with any female NPCs in my games.

    Maybe it’s because *I’m* the one portraying the females….. and my facial hair stretches the imagination beyond the breaking point.

    Either that, or all my friends are secretly gay. Hmmmm….

    1. Bluesophia says:

      Well, in one campaign, I did the opposite and created an elf that has the benefit of being able to shift between male and female at the drop of a hat. Said benefit was also compounded with the character being quite literally the kind of person to do “anything that moves”. i had a lot of fun with that character. XD

  36. Isoyami says:

    And the shot of Eowyn giving Aragorn the big puppy eyes in panel 11 is brilliant.

    (BTW, I was going to say: “big brown puppy eyes”, but I couldn’t tell if they were brown or blue. D’oh! *facepalm*)

  37. Isoyami says:

    And in my comment #33, its supposed to be Shamus. I know it’s Shamus. Sorry.

    Blargh.

    *Gives Mr. Brain a kick in the pants and a big mug of espresso.*

  38. Sewerman says:

    Hey just think! Gimli will soon get his chance to bash some skellies!

    I wonder how they’ll complain next…

  39. DB says:

    @37 Gimli would probably complain next that there are no skellies (at least, that are animated), and that his axe doesn’t work on the green guys (maybe they are aliens?). The only one who has a chance of gaining XP will be Aragorn with the “hi” sword, which should be greatly discouraged.

    Do they even know why they are going on the paths of the dead? I guess that makes sense to all PC’s who go into the dungeons, it’s what they are supposed to do…

  40. The real problem is that players, conditioned to seize at any plot-threads dangled before them like a cat lapping up a saucer full of milk, will assume that any time anyone ever asks them to do something they’re “supposed” to say yes.

    It takes me some effort to convince new players to my campaign that, no, really, you don’t have to follow-up on every single thing in the campaign. Until I figured out what was going on I was utterly baffled by conversations where players would complain about the campaign going in a particular direction when they had been the ones who had chosen to take it in that direction.

    This actually ties into the railroading discussion from the past couple of days: These players were so conditioned to accept the railroad that they were seeing imaginary tracks. Thus, I saw them making choices, but in their own minds they had no choice.

  41. Scarlet Knight says:

    No one would want to have sex with Eowyn since there are no clerics in the party. However, the position of monster decoy is still open…

    Also, & I know I’m gonna’ regret this,…but this reminds me of the line from “As Good as it Gets” :
    Q:How do you write women so well?
    A: I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.

    Yep, I regret it already…

  42. someone says:

    “The real problem is that players, conditioned to seize at any plot-threads dangled before them like a cat lapping up a saucer full of milk”

    And here I thought you’d be dangling string in front of the cat too…

  43. Roxysteve says:

    [Justin Alexander] After reading your posts in the railroading threads I can’t say I’m surprised you were baffled, or that your players were unhappy. Players often need the subtle structure you have been so vocally rejecting for days.

    Its also interesting that you see this as a player problem, rather than a group one.

    However, I wasn’t there and I don’t know you or your players, so I will refrain from virulently assigning blame and imposing my personal playbook on you. I will say (again) that when I allowed players in a Traveller campaign I ran to follow rumours (a game term for plot/red herring seeds) without any sort of guidance they thrashed around and ended up complaining much the same way you report yours did. When I stopped doing that and emphasised the good leads (with subtlety) they and I had a much better time and my games had waiting lists. This experience has informed my choices of DM style ever since.

    Steve

  44. Aragon’s face in panel 12 is BRILLIANT!

    Pure, genius!

    I can’t wait to see how they do in the path of the dead.

    :D

  45. Roxysteve says:

    Brian Says:
    This is the 14 years of my marriage in a nutshell.

    Really? Mine resembles the bit at Helms Deep where Everyone thinks they’ve got it all under control only to have some interferring sod set off the mother of all M80s under their feet.

    Steve.

  46. pdwalker says:

    “Hey just think! Gimli will soon get his chance to bash some skellies!

    I wonder how they'll complain next…”

    Oh, I imagine it will have to do with the dead being incorporeal so they cannot get any xp because they cannot re-kill them.

  47. Marc says:

    “This isn’t really possible in the context of an RPG…”

    Absolutely not true. In the context of D&D, maybe, or in the context of players who are only after XP and lewtzorz – in which case, why aren’t they just playing World of Warcraft or something?

    There are totally decent (where “decent” = “badass”) role-playing games that have dilemmas like this at the very core of the gameplay – Dogs in the Vineyard, for example. Well, okay, dilemmas like these, and shooting demons in the face. But you get the idea…

  48. moonglum says:

    funny comic, but I think shamus missed a little on this one…I am supposed to beleive that aragon would invite a NPC along to steal xp and tresure….sorry can’t suspend my disbilife that far :)

  49. Rolld20 says:

    Actually, given my experience, 50% would assume the GM is trying to plant a spy/double agent in the party, and either refuse violently, or allow the NPC to come, but write the GM a dozen notes about how they were guarding their valuables and never sleeping.

    Another 20% would *force* the NPC to come in case a sacrifice were needed. (Although if it needs to be a virgin, this girl ain’t gonna cut it…)

    The rest would try to metagame what the GM really wanted, and do that.

  50. Gandalf The Monk says:

    Hilarious, and worth the wait

  51. Improved Initiative says:

    “The rest would try to metagame what the GM really wanted, and do that.”

    They’d just mutter “she’s a spy” over and over just to make sure the DM doesn’t turn her into a spy (i.e. spoiling any potential drama).

    I think DMs should impose XP penalties for trying to yomin his intentions.

  52. Ishmael says:

    Excellent comic. Also, it probably shouldn’t surprise me that so many of the commentators (that IS a word, right?) have such skewed views of women, but I still find it disturbing.

  53. Lanthanide says:

    Worth the wait :)

  54. Shadow_Wizard says:

    Yeah!! I finally caught up and can’t wait for more!

  55. Aries says:

    ah the old sex before combat route, and i gotta say im realy not suprised.
    but yea nonsense NPC banter is always fun especalyif you manage to talk in circles

  56. Steve says:

    I think Aragorn should have refused point blank – they already have one hot blond woman in the fellowship (Legolas).

  57. brassbaboon says:

    Actually the player behind Aragorn would probably have gone more like this:

    Eowyn: “But I am a shieldmaiden of Rohan and can both ride and weild sword and fear neither pain nor death.”

    Aragorn: “OK, I’m assuming your armor is on under your dress then. Let’s get that dress off then and head on out. But don’t even think about kill-stealing our grabbing our treasure.”

    Eowyn: “But my Lord, what of my duty here to lead my people in my father’s absence?”

    Aragorn: “heh… she said ‘dooty’ heh heh.”

  58. H3adlin3 says:

    JA sez “The real problem is that players, conditioned to seize at any plot-threads dangled before them like a cat lapping up a saucer full of milk, will assume that any time anyone ever asks them to do something they're “supposed” to say yes.”

    A good point is brought up in the Amber RPG, that to make the story work, just like in a novel, there should be no irrelevant NPCs or events. As the GM it is your responsibility to make sure that every person the PCs come across, and every event (not of their own making) that occurs, be somehow relevant to the plot. Of course the degree and timing of relevance should vary, to keep things interesting. ;)

    Great strip, Shamus! Love it!

    And although I know it ain’t gonna happen, I’ll still ask posters to refrain from guessing where Shamus is going next in the strip, you may be screwing up his plot lines, or worse, spoilling his jokes! :O

  59. Arralethe says:

    Now, a group of people I gamed with a long time ago *loved* the emo side of things, and therefore, in this situation, would have spent *days* agonising with the NPC.

    Personally, as a female gamer, I *love* playing a female character. You can get away with so much more as a dodgy female, even thought male gamers tend to view you as automatically dodgy by default :D

  60. brassbaboon says:

    H3adlin3:

    “…there should be no irrelevant NPCs or events. As the GM it is your responsibility to make sure that every person the PCs come across, and every event (not of their own making) that occurs, be somehow relevant to the plot.”

    Heh, so I get this image of the players having to go to the local colliseum to meet someone and finding nothing there but two gladiators and the three individuals they will talk to in the stadium during the gladiatorial events, the rest of the seats would be empty.

    Obviously there are going to be “irrelevant” NPCs. I prefer to treat my campaigns as offering as many real and perceived choices as possible. Usually I will set up the campaign to have a primary goal, but there might be three or four ways for the party to get engaged in pursuing that goal.

    In my current campaign when the party started they could have started by agreeing to do some paid work for some local gnomes, or they could have gone to a town meeting and agree to hire on as temporary deputies or they could have agreed to help some down-on-their luck fishermen whose boat had been destroyed. They chose door #2, but had they chosen door #1 or #3, they would almost certainly have ended up about where they are now, but without having been “railroaded” into it.

    Because they chose option #2, the gnomes and the fishermen have become totally “irrelevant” to the plot, but they could have just as easily chosen one of those, and in that case the local constable captain would have been the irrelevant one.

    To me it is important not only that the players feel they have some control over their fate, but that they actually have options that provide different experiences, even if the end goal is the same. To complete the campaign they have to rescue the wizard’s brother. But how they do that is up to them, within the limits of what I can prepare as alternatives for them.

    From where they are now they still have a number of choices to make, but those choices are narrowing as they get closer to the end goal. Soon they will be left with one choice, enter the goblin lair, or abandon the brother to a hideous death. But until they get there, there are still a number of “irrelevant NPCs” that they will encounter, and depending on how they choose, some of those “irrelevant” ones will instantly become the relevant ones.

  61. browncoat says:

    @57

    well put, sir.

  62. Keldin says:

    Well, That was just freaking awesome. Especially those who mentioned how this mirrored their marriages or other real world romantic / opposite gender relationships. The image of a woman who has already made up her mind and still wants to try to find some way to make a man suffer for what was by no means his fault is a stereotype for a REASON! — the reason being it has a solid basis in fact!

    Keep ’em coming, Shamus!

  63. Saelwen says:

    “This is the 14 years of my marriage in a nutshell.”

    @Brian:
    Why didn’t she divorce you, I wonder.

    Shamus; this is another great one. Stupid crazy broad indeed :P

  64. Lance with a Bee says:

    [sigh]

    58 H3adlin3 has a good point about spoilers. I have a great idea for the “dungeon”. but I won’t share it at his his request. Of course this means I can claim I thought of anything funny from the dungeon.

  65. Salen says:

    Forget the babe. If she’s not coming along, that just means more XP for everyone else in the party! I wonder how many XP you get for beating up a mountain full of ghost.

  66. Scarlet Knight says:

    “H3adlin3 Says:And although I know it ain't gonna happen, I'll still ask posters to refrain from guessing where Shamus is going next in the strip, you may be screwing up his plot lines, or worse, spoilling his jokes!”

    Possibly; yet it’s possible that after over a hundred comics Shamus missed one this week because he’s sitting home going, “C’mon folks, write something! Don’t any of you have a funny idea! Do I look like Phil Foglio to you?!”

    However, if Shamus prefers that we don’t throw out ideas, I’ll certainly listen. I ain’t that funny anyway…

  67. Doug Brown says:

    Re: 64

    Coincidentally, it was at about this stage in the movie that I began seriously trying to calculate how much XP Philippa Boyen got for killing the story. One of these days I’ll stat her out as an epic villain.

  68. Rhykker says:

    “The other 10% will try to have sex with her first.”

    I laughed aloud.

  69. orcbane says:

    I think this comic has finally allowed me some insight to women! They live like they’re the DM and a NPC all at the same time! That’s why they’re so messed up, bipolar, and none of us can ever guess what’s coming next!

    Brilliant!

  70. Noone says:

    “I think this comic has finally allowed me some insight to women! They live like they're the DM and a NPC all at the same time! That's why they're so messed up, bipolar, and none of us can ever guess what's coming next!”

    I’d like to see you test that theory.

  71. Bone Machine says:

    Awesome comic today! The screen cap of Aragorn with his eyes closed is too perfect!

  72. George says:

    best comic in 20 strips

    nice shot on panel 5 where aragorn has his eyes closed

    Lol she is like all women… too bad they are going into a dungeon without a rouge… wouldn’t surprise me if they happened to set off a few traps

  73. ZackTheSTGuy says:

    h3adlin3 said:”And although I know it ain't gonna happen, I'll still ask posters to refrain from guessing where Shamus is going next in the strip, you may be screwing up his plot lines, or worse, spoilling his jokes!”

    Seriously! We wouldn’t want to be accused of RAILROADING him, would we? ;)

  74. Kerry says:

    Now there’s irony.

  75. Scarlet Knight says:

    You mean “iron-horsery” don’t you?

  76. Alex says:

    Shamus, I love your site, and this comic. I have never gotten any hints of sexism from it or you, and I really appreciate that. I don’t consider this strip to be sexist at all.
    (I forgive you the “stupid crazy broad” comment because, first, it represents Aragorn's views and not necessarily yours, and, second, the insanity and stupidity are not seen as caused by her femininity).

    Not all the commenters are even that bad””most are about the comment, and DnD, and LOTR, and related topics.

    But I have to say, there are some disturbingly sexist comments here and I cannot let them slide.

    Eight comments in, I actually said “what the hell?” at “Man, Eowyn was all too real. A bit creepy in fact. I'm sure her inherent female rationality will somehow lead her to the conclusion that Aragorn is to blame for whatever decision she made.”
    This wasn't the worst, but it was the first, and it was bad enough to make me, as a feminist, recoil.
    (Please note that I NEVER curse, so you should translate “hell” into the F-word for the appropriate strength of my repulsion.)

    I find it deeply troubling that you believe that Eowyn's conversation is somehow emblematic of an inherent irrationality and malice that exists in all women. I will say first, I am upset because no woman can possibly represent all women. Second, and this is the reason behind my first point, and also my most important point:

    Women are people.

    Technically, Eowyn is not having this somewhat-nonsensical conversation””the DM is. But let's assume Eowyn is: she's conflicted. She's trying to get someone to help her sort out her conflict. But really, she's already made up her mind, so she's just looking for him to affirm that she has made the right choice; she's seeking a bit of reassurance. PEOPLE do this all the time. Some of those people are women.

    Women are NOT “men without reason and accountability.”

    Women do NOT “make up their minds and still want to find some way to make a man suffer for what was by no means his fault.”

    Women are NOT “messed up and bipolar so none of us can ever guess what's coming next.”

    Women CAN do these things sometimes, because PEOPLE do these things sometimes. People can be unreasonable, unwilling to take responsibility, stubborn, wishing to cause harm, messed up, bipolar, and unpredictable. However, no one is ever all of these things all the time, or even much of the time. And when they are, it is not because of their gender. It is because of their humanity.

    Women are people. Neither monsters nor angels. People. That's all I'm saying.

    (NOTE: I am aware that I have reworded some of the quotes. I have done this to make them fit with my sentences. The sentiments behind them, and the lovely vocabulary choices, have not been changed.)

    1. BlueCanary says:

      ^^^This.

  77. General Ghoul says:

    9 Brian Says:
    “This is the 14 years of my marriage in a nutshell.”

    Man, after 4 years of marriage, my nuts are in a shell.

  78. Jane says:

    Good on you Alex!
    Sometimes I even admit that men are people!
    Not all are led around by Dic!

  79. Merrigold says:

    Thank you, Alex. Excellent points made.

    >>I find it deeply troubling that you believe that Eowyn's conversation is somehow emblematic of an inherent irrationality and malice that exists in all women.

    _Not to mention_ that people are treating “her” comments as if they are representation of a “real” person/woman, when in fact, the whole point of the strip is to show that setting up a strict “script” between an NPC like Eowyn and a human player character is likely to lead to _dis_continuous interactions.

    Mind you, I suppose one could reflect that, to the extent that we humans “script” our own actions in advance, and expect other people to react in specific ways, we too can get broadsided by our expectations “-) Next time I end up in what seems like an irrational conversation I’ll have to try and remember that…

    For example, one could reframe Eowyn’s part of the script as an attempt to elicit some sort of recognition or respect, (“I am a shieldmaiden of Rohan. I can ride … and I do not fear…”) rather than a serious attempt to join the party. Of course, from Aragormless, as played so beautifully by Shamus, any such attempt would be a lost cause… and his “sure, whatever” response would totally mess up _her_ “script” for the conversation.

    Of course, were she a real person, or this an ideal feminist world ;-) I’d advise her to be more direct, and say something like, “Guess what, studmuffin, the King trusts me so much that he’s leaving me in charge! Remember that if you ever come back to town!”

    Grin.

  80. brassbaboon says:

    Heh, Alex just made my day. Nothing validates a stereotype more thoroughly than an overly dramatic and overly moralistic lecture when someone feels that stereotype has been abused.

    God forbid that some man should have issues because of his history with some woman, or some woman should have issues because of her history with some man.

    No, we all have to just get along, don’t we?

    Bwahahahahahahaha!!!!

  81. Spok says:

    I love the comic, but some of the comments do seem to support some unfortunate stereotypes– and not the ones they’re thinking of.

    Or, to put it more bluntly to some of the commentators: Eowyn is an NPC. What’s your excuse?

  82. Neotacha says:

    Thank you Alex.

    Funny strip. The commentary by the peanut gallery was a bit uncomfortable today.

  83. Kacky Snorgle says:

    Re: Alex’s “women are people” discussion….

    It’s true that “people” can behave in all those ways, but to say that and stop there misses a lot. If you were to wander through our society anthropologist-like and collect examples of real-life behavior similar to Eowyn’s in this comic, you’d find that the vast, overwhelming majority of those examples came from women. To ignore that fact, and simply state that such behavior sometimes happens, seems a bit silly.

    It’s certainly true that no woman can represent all women; but one woman can typify many women, and Eowyn’s doing that here. There are undoubtedly lots of women who never act like this, and some men who often do. But that doesn’t negate the fact that the behavior is much more typically female than male.

    Sure, any generalisation such as “women are irrational” is going to be literally false; but it can still serve as a convenient verbal shorthand for “the average woman is slightly less rational than the average man, even though there is considerable variation within each group on this point, to the extent that it is quite easy to find a particular woman who is much more rational than a particular man”. In most contexts, it’d probably be advisable to include at least some of those qualifiers when discussing the topic. But if I had to pick between the two statements “women are irrational” and “people are irrational”, without the option of longwinded elaboration…I’m sorry, but the former is much more useful than the latter, and is not excessively far wide of the mark, as absurdly broad generalisations go.

    That is, for the sake of brevity in communication I’m sometimes willing to assume that (a) it’s clear to everybody that the statement “women are irrational” is an absurdly broad generalisation, and therefore (b) everybody will understand that it can’t be meant literally and instead must mean something of more or less the above longwinded form. And I’m especially willing to make those assumptions when the context is a humorous one, where brevity is of great value (witness the post I’m typing now, which isn’t brief and isn’t funny at all. Bother, I’ve spoilt the mood, haven’t I?).

    I strongly suspect that many of the commenters here who are mentioning certain stereotypes of women in order to further Shamus’s joke likewise know that these stereotypes are not literally true. Whether that makes their comments any more or less appropriate, you can judge; my point is only that (contrary to Alex’s assertions) the stereotypes have some basis in fact–that’s why they’re stereotypes in the first place.

  84. Kristin says:

    Indeed. The first one, I thought, “OK, heh.” The second one, “Oh god, is this gonna turn into a girl-bashing fest comments section?” Third post: “Yep. Dammit.”

    brassbaboon, having issues is okay. Just keep them between you, the specific people you have issues with, and your therapist, okay?

  85. Matt P says:

    Nice posts Alex and Kristin. Pretty much what I was thinking. The first few jokes were kinda funny by themselves but I could tell it’d just snowball.
    I’m just surprised it took until comments were in the 70s for anyone to say it.
    And Kracky Snorgle, I’ve heard the “it’s ok to say things if it’s generally true” line too many times. You can’t claim to have such statistics on hand so you can’t make such a sweeping generalisation as “the majority of people who do this are women”. Secondly, even if it’s true I can’t remember a time when there were a concentration of remarks about Aragormless representing all men. Why not though? Clearly more men are blatantly sexual beasts than women.
    To make my point in a game-related way I’ll show everyone these two excellent Escapist articles that really helped me see my own faults in this area. I don’t know how to make links (if anyone can tell me that’d be much appreciated) so people’ll have to copy and paste.

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/96/15

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/88/16

  86. Matt P says:

    Oh. Apparently it automatically makes them links. Nice. Sry for the double post.

  87. Shamus says:

    In the hopes we can stop this before we suck any more funny out of this thread:

    Yes, the statement “women are irrational” is abrasive and untrue. I won’t comment on the motivations of the people who said them, but I react to this the same way I’d react to “Men are pigs.” Meh.

    It’s just not worth getting too upset about. Maybe the person who said this lives a life with difficult women. Maybe he was being outrageous for comedic effect. Maybe he was mocking the sexism in the strip. Alex countered, said what a lot of people were thinking, and now I think it’s a good place to let it drop. It can only go downhill from here.

  88. Poet says:

    It’s easier to walk downhill than up, Shamus. Everyone knows that.

    But, yeah, fantastic comic. I’ve tried to avoid periods of GM double-talk in moments like this by, before a player can comment, calling for knowledge: nobility checks with fairly low DC’s and passed along bits of advice like “Allowing the Princess to come along will NOT endure you to the King, who I should remind you is paying your bills.”
    It removes a minor amount of the tension from that very moment, but then you can continue to push with that NPC and pretty much depends on the players to react appropriately.

  89. Dave says:

    Damn.. Lance with a Bee scored the 65th post.. someday!

  90. Vegedus says:

    Aww, that panel where you can see the tears in her eyes just breaks my heart :'(

  91. Woosh says:

    Was anyone else greatly annoyed by this woman in the movie/book? I’m totally with aragoneoffacliffonce.

    Crazy broad.

  92. Tonko says:

    Hahahaha, I love the comic. You choice of images for the different panels is really always so perfect.

    Apparently I live in a box, because I was actually surprised by the “LOLZ, too right! Girlz is soooo crazy” comments. Somehow I didn’t expect that, which makes me stupid or naive I guess.

    Never mind, though, the comic amuses to no end. Reminds me of console RPG scenes where the canned NPC text makes no sense with what you’d actually want to do.

  93. Zippy Wonderdog says:

    In my last campaign out party took control of a castle that was in the no man’s land between the Uz and… the other guys.
    Well anyway being the party leader by dint of having a high charisma I’m called into the local governers presence and told that I have “responsiblities” to the people under my protection, basicly it wasn’t no man’s land anymore, it was my land I got a title and a wife( some space cadet noble we rescued in a previous adventure).
    I was like sweet someone to look after the castle while we are off adventuring.
    But no she had to come with us. She wasn’t really that useful either being a low level paladin >.

  94. orcbane says:

    Oh wow, looks like my comment raised some hairs. I’m sorry. It was a joke. I don’t think women are that bad, I was playing it up because of the comic. If I draw my insight into the opposite sex from a webcomic, I would be in serious relational trouble.

    I thought it was obvious that the statement was so overdone that it would obviously be seen as playful sarcasm, but I’m sorry to anyone that might have been offended by it.

  95. Alex says:

    You hit the nail right on the head, again.
    Thanks for making these comics.

    P.S
    You have at least one reader in Israel.

  96. wrg says:

    I figured that most were joking, orcbane, but one reason why I usually avoid making such jokes is that some will take them seriously and consider it validation for their prejudices. I’ve heard men complaining from women and, through an agent on the inside (female friend), women complaining about men; none of it seems reasonable.

    If you want to prove that something has a basis in fact, you need actual facts, not just your own say-so. This isn’t about “I’m right and you’re wrong”, since I’m about as wrong as anyone else, but that we’re all influenced by our biases. The problem with “real life” observations is that people have a tendency to notice the remarkable while paying little attention to the perhaps more common uninteresting events. We’ve got to watch out scrupulously for confirmation bias. Human memory really isn’t very good at unbiased analysis; it seeks patterns even to the point of finding some that aren’t really there.

    I honestly don’t know what “average women” are like and, since I only ever meet actual women rather than average women, I don’t think I particularly need to care. If, say, women had generally less aptitude for mathematics, that wouldn’t change the fact that my department has some rather talented female grad students. If they had generally more talent, it still wouldn’t much matter.

    But Eowyn? Stupid crazy broad.

  97. Kerry says:

    Albeit, a stupid crazy broad that slays the Witch-King of Angmar…

  98. orcbane says:

    wrg, … HUH?!?!?!?!

  99. Marstov says:

    “But Eowyn? Stupid crazy broad.”

    You haven’t read the books, have you? In the book, she is completely rational in almost everything she does. She’s raised in a culture that reveres warriors above all and she’s a competent fighter herself. Yet, because she’s female, her only option is to “stay home and keep the kettle hot for when the men get back”. Despite her frustration, she does every job asked of her and only abandons the homestead when it is safe for her to do so. She fights bravely and ends up helping to destroy one of the worst enemies of her people out there.

    Please explain to me what is “stupid” or “crazy” about that?

    On a different note, these comments really have me laughing. I found some old campaign notes from a superhero game I ran when I was 18 or 19 years old. My female NPCs had character traits like “extremely vain about her looks” or “very jealous of other women if they’re more attractive”. Clearly, my piercing insight into the female mind explains a great deal about why I had so much time available for RPGs back then.

  100. Scarlet Knight says:

    Alex, since my comment was mentioned, I feel I owe you a response; then I shall drop the subject as Shamus requests. My attempt was to fit a joke to Eowyn in the comic, not women in general, just as if I joked about Legolas being a Mountain Dew guzzling slacker not applying to all college students. I should have taken the time to be clearer, and I was afraid it would not come across the way I intended. I can see that it looked liked I was piling on.
    For those who are unfamiliar with the movie “As Good as it Gets”, the quote I used was uttered by a character who, shall we say, was not the best with people. I chose poorly.

  101. clodia says:

    @Alex.

    Word. Thank you for saying it better than I would have been able to.

  102. Dead Horse says:

    Q. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
    A. That’s not funny.

  103. Isoyami says:

    And with all this heated discussion about Eowyn, I still can’t tell what her eye color is. Grrr.

    Even in her *big puppy eyes* frame, where the lighting is pretty direct. But the expression is absolutely awesome. :D

  104. Scatty says:

    They’re totally blue. Blue-gray at best.

  105. Chauvanist says:

    103 Dead Horse Says: May 26th, 2007 at 10:42 pm
    Q. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
    A. That's not funny.

    Q. How many chauvanists does it take to change a light bulb?
    A. None. Let her cook in the dark.

  106. Woerlan says:

    Players tend to follow two extremes:

    1) Let anyone willing join the party. Allies are always welcome.
    2) Anyone who wants to join the party without prompting is a DM plot device waiting to betray us all.

    Fun times, regardless.

    1. nocata says:

      my group is of 6 players and a half-half composition, therefore we never decide in such scenarios without arguement. my side usually wins, cuz i convinced the boys to let me roll diplomacy on them. my characer (female 13 yr old elf wizard) has 19 diplomacy. Level 8 character, too.

      1. WJS says:

        13 yr old elf? Isn’t that like taking a toddler with you?

  107. Tola says:

    Albeit, a stupid crazy broad that slays the Witch-King of Angmar…

    …That was a team effort by her and Merry. And if it wasn’t for Merry’s sword, neither would have survived. And lord knows what would have happened if the Witch-King had SURVIVED that…

  108. Tola says:

    …That last sentence doesn’t feel clear. I’ll elaborate.

    If the Witch-King had killed off Eowyn and Merry, I’m not sure how the battle would have gone.

    Yes, the Rangers/Army of the Dead(Depending on version) are there, but…the Witch-King IS the most powerful of Sauron’s servents, the destroyer of Arnor. Gandalf went to the gates specifically to battle him, in the books at least.

  109. Isoyami says:

    @Tola (#109)

    As I recall, Gandalf went to battle the Witch King both in the book, and in Jackson’s film, and got his pansy bard ass kicked in both versions. ;)

    As the Witch King says: “No man may harm me.” Or something like that. Hence, Eowyn, who is no man, kicks his ass. Ah, funny little hierarchy, isn’t it? :D

  110. Kerry says:

    Tola: Yes, of course I remember Merry. Just trying to make a joke
    Isoyami: You’ve got to remember, Merry isn’t a man either. Technically.

  111. Otters34 says:

    One of the things to remember about that is that Man The Lord of the Rings is used to mean ‘Human’.So no, Merry is not a Man.Oh and what was the Dungeon Masters’ goal in having that happen?

  112. phobos says:

    Worse yet, when that prophecy was made, it was to King Earnur of Gondor, who had just overthrown the kingdom of Angmar at the battle of Fornost, and was about to ride off in pursuit of the Witch-king. The prophecy in question was made by, er, Glorfindel of Rivendell, High Elf.

    In those circumstances, surely an Elf foretelling that no Man would slay the Witch-king sounds like an offer to go and do the job himself?

  113. Kerry says:

    If I were Earnur, I’d let ‘im go.

  114. Lord ZYRK says:

    Isn’t Gandalf a miar (or whatever it was), not a human?

  115. Otters34 says:

    Yeah, but why should Gandalf go to all the trouble of getting the Witch-King to stand still so he can get a shot in, and then be granted a broken arm and sword for his trouble?

  116. Goran says:

    simply… brilliant

  117. Tola says:

    As I recall, Gandalf went to battle the Witch King both in the book, and in Jackson's film, and got his pansy bard ass kicked in both versions.

    Not so, as I recall.

    Gandalf is called away by Pippin sending word of Denethor setting ready to burn Faramir. It’s around this time that the Rohirrim show up. Gandalf wasn’t happy to leave, because….I think he said asomething like ‘others’ will suffer because of this’.

    Soon after that, Theoden is dead.

  118. TheSilverSage says:

    “As I recall, Gandalf went to battle the Witch King both in the book, and in Jackson's film, and got his pansy bard ass kicked in both versions.”

    The battle was a tie in the books, if I’m not mistaken: Gandalf was a Maya (a Middle-Earth deity), the Witch King couldn’t be killed.

    As far as the comic goes (first-time commenter, long-time reader here), it was as brilliant as any of the best strips you had to offer us, Shamus.

    Shame about the extremism from both sides on the “battle of the sexes”, though – will no one give it a rest? Ever? Different chromosomes, different genetic make-up, different individuals to begin with; equal rights, equal needs and equal possibility for deviant and/or problematic behaviour.

    Still, fantastic webcomic – do keep it up!

    1. WJS says:

      The problem is that it’s not equal probability for various social dysfunctions. Men are more susceptible to some, women to others. God forbid you point this out though.

  119. Isoyami says:

    Yes, I know Merry is a halfing and isn’t a man as such. But he is male.

    I think. I hope. ;)

    Anyway, I think the whole: “no man may harm me” bit by the Witch King was about no *MALE* person being able to hurt him. So good old Leggy-lass would have been able to do the job too. ;)

    Thank you, thank you, I’m here till Thursday. :D

    Oh, and love the new notation on the dice counter. Hee.

  120. Tom says:

    Couldn’t relate to this one more … vacillating woman, kids and clients … step forward already … great comic

  121. yo go re says:

    In my game, I’ve never met an NPC I didn’t try to recruit into doing my dirty work for me. Once, famously, I badgered what must have been a Level 0 Librarian into coming along with us on a haunted house mission. The DM went so far as to dress the poor guy in a red shirt. We took to calling him our “heal sink,” since he nearly died three times in one battle with one skeleton.

    Really, all I wanted from him was more money to buy supplies.

    Anyway, forget the 90% who distrust the NPCs and the 10% who want to bed them – what about those of us who actively campaign for them to come along?

  122. Jandurin says:

    First time posting. Hilarious.
    “Stupid Crazy Broad” got an honest to goodness out loud laugh.

    *high five*

  123. xtehbeastx says:

    there is another .01%. his name is shanan. he is a member of my group. the man IS a paladin. like in real life. he is the one who would refuse to let her go because it would be too dangerous or he had no right to say she could. he can kind of get annoying but we usually can get back at him by running an evil champaign. it’s fun to watch him squirm.:)

  124. Patrick says:

    Know what that feels like, it’s hard to run a campaign set in the middle ages when everyone acts like a total liberal

  125. Becks says:

    I’m impressed Aragorn has already forgotten the possibly nasty disease she gave him last time. Or does he already know she’s clean?

    Then again, we already know she’ll sleep with strangers, how does he know she hasn’t gotten diseased since?

    He so shoulda followed the storyline after all *weg*

  126. Cynder says:

    WTF Eowyn??? Can’t make up her bloody mind XD

    And it’s almost like he forgot all about the little incident before the Helms Deep scene. I’ve said it time and time again, but – CLEVER. Very, very clever ;)

  127. Doug says:

    The Witch-King was prophesied not to die by the hand of man – that’s predestination for you, I guess, kinda like Macbeth having nothing to fear from anyone “born of woman”, and then getting his clock cleaned by the product of a Caesarean birth, Macduff. But the book makes it clear that it was the Barrow-blade that Merry stabbed him with that broke his spell of lichdom, whereupon a plain ordinary sword whacked into his head did what it usually does, and the Witch-King expired without even a chance to say “G*dd*mn prophecy loopholes…”.

    1. James Harrison will taste Manflesh! says:

      Well, Merry’s not a man, either.

      In fact, that whole prophecy seems a lot less useful when the world he’s fighting to destroy is divided between four races, and the prophecy only covers half of one of those, not to mention the possibility of being trampled or otherwise killed by three different sorts of warbeast (horses, wargs, or Oliphaunts) or done in by someone from his own side (an ambitious orc or uruk angling to empty his post and take it for himself, a troll either commanded by one of those orcs, or less just being enormous and dumb as a rock, and Sauron being…whatever Sauron is…and pulling a “you have failed me for the last time.) There’s also the possibility of being killed by something unaffiliated with the war, like a giant spider or an ent. Wizards aren’t men, either. It’s unclear whether the witch-king would know about that last part, but that aside, it’s pretty strange how confident he is in his prophecy when there are so many non-men lurking around who might have a reason to kill him. MacBeth’s demise seems all the unlikelier by comparison.

  128. perlhaqr says:

    This is some astonishingly hilarious stuff. My wife keeps looking into my office like I’ve lost my mind, I’m laughing so hard.

    I, uh, neglected to explain exactly what was so funny about this particular comic to her… ;)

  129. perlhaqr says:

    BTW: Your comment numbering system is awesome. :D

  130. JD says:

    I’ve known the very small, 1/1000th percent who will actually say ‘no’ to them. This is a rarity.

  131. Is it a sign of my nerdiness that my average character would in fact have THOUGHT about the fact that she might be needed to rule her people… but at the same time I really don’t believe in rulers that much, and it’s not like she has an amazing leadership record, and I’m sure she could easily find yet another proxy for the king in her stead… but at the same time, I could just seduce her here since she clearly wants my balls… but then again that’s a bit underhanded, and fuck didn’t she give me an STD, and now that I think about that why haven’t I backhanded her? Oh, yeah, and I do like allied NPCs, but then again she is going to be taking my loot and shit, but we are apparently going into an army of ghosts so it might be nice to have a little more backup, especially since NPCs often have miraculously useful items to deal with something like this.

    But yeah, in general you can’t do it :D

  132. Sorry for the double post, but…

    “A good point is brought up in the Amber RPG, that to make the story work, just like in a novel, there should be no irrelevant NPCs or events. As the GM it is your responsibility to make sure that every person the PCs come across, and every event (not of their own making) that occurs, be somehow relevant to the plot. Of course the degree and timing of relevance should vary, to keep things interesting.”

    The problem is that this gets very boring very fast. For one, it’s 100% predictable. It means that everything you see will matter. Every room one can enter has treasure or a trap. Every NPC is a spy, enemy, useful ally or shopkeep. There’s a few levels of how this occurs:

    1) 100% conservation of relevance. Everything is important, even if it varies in why and how. Players get pretty savvy to this.

    2) Some red herrings. You deliberately play with their expectations of what’s important, and some things you describe just aren’t. The most classic example is a room. Some of the furniture is trapped, true, but most of it is just part of the room (though, of course, in line with #3 it can BECOME important when the players need to improvise, say to bar the door or grab something nasty). One of the best tricks, even though it’s a bit cheap, is when listing to include the important thing somewhere in the middle. For example: “In the room you entered, there’s a bookcase with a few dusty almanacs, a wooden table made of mahogany, a suit of armor that grips a spear, a small bonsai tree (appears the necromancer really likes his calming rituals), some preserved rabbit corpses in jars and a lot of shrunken skulls and various chemical stuff in jars.” You’d be surprised at how many times the players miss the armor, and even if they find it they learn some interesting things that make your BBEG seem a bit more human, if still creepy.

    3) Free exploration. Some of the most beloved characters I’ve ever made were random guys. Like a dwarf shopkeeper in an otherwise pretty sober Modern Earth-based RP. Or a Headhunter Brutal Killer who quickly revealed his ability to have incredibly nasty torture and is becoming a “quirky” mentor character. If you have an RPG where a group of people on a train can do something interesting just hearing someone on a cellphone, THAT’s a great time. I think it’s important just to be ready to have every NPC have one or two interesting things. Random Peasant #23 is cheating on his wife with the barmaid who is actually an underage runaway. Hilarity ensues. This can be created on the spot when they talk to him, but it still makes the game feel real and creates sidequests immediately. The great part about THAT is that players get to feel accomplishment for the stupidest things. I felt like a god after killing a bum as a magician serial killer just due to the time it took.

    “The Witch-King was prophesied not to die by the hand of man – that's predestination for you, I guess, kinda like Macbeth having nothing to fear from anyone “born of woman”, and then getting his clock cleaned by the product of a Caesarean birth, Macduff. But the book makes it clear that it was the Barrow-blade that Merry stabbed him with that broke his spell of lichdom, whereupon a plain ordinary sword whacked into his head did what it usually does, and the Witch-King expired without even a chance to say “G*dd*mn prophecy loopholes…”.”

    Actually, that DID come from Macbeth. See, Tolkien purportedly watched Macbeth, really eager to see trees walking and an elf kill Macbeth. When Shakespeare used an incredibly cheesy loophole, it helped him decide once and for all to make a book where trees DID walk and where a non-human DID kill a great king of evil.

  133. WeLikeShadowrun says:

    My last druid kept ending up having sex whilst drunk stoned or hypnotised, so he only knew what happended because someone else told him. Then he jumped off a two mile-high cliff because he dropped his (expensive) magic sword over the edge. Which thought is more depressing?
    Marlin you will be missed

  134. Clinto says:

    “A lot of tension in a story happens when the characters do something against the wishes of the audience. This isn't really possible in the context of an RPG, because the characters ARE the audience.”

    Arg! This is what NPC’s are for! They are the ones who do the opposite of what the character expects! They are the turncoats, the well-meaning counter points, the tearfully abandoning! What kind of games are you playing if the NPC’s aren’t the bread and butter of your drama?

  135. silver Harloe says:

    It’s fair to try to set up circumstances which give PCs a dilemma, but to ask a player to moderate an NPC’s dilemma? Especially a player who has established that he could give two flips about NPCs?

    She’s noy crazy because she’s a woman — she’s crazy because the DM is crazy to think the player behind Aragormless would really try to help her reach a decision.

  136. FreddeX says:

    I don’t know what i would have done becuase when i roleplay i try to keep as many people alive as possible (both NPCs and PCs) and more than once i have voted to leave soldiers and possible allies behind becuase the party is about to enter a place where we will most likely die “oh so terrible!”
    Sure i know that it is sort of stupid but i figure that if nothing else then it will decrese the damage done to the good guys team.
    Meeh i guess it is just the way i am! :)

  137. nocata says:

    eowyn was so intense. i don’t know why, but her sudden change of heart when she was told she could come made me scared.

  138. Reddik says:

    Good lord, I can’t get over the stupidity displayed in the comments section. Anybody who thinks this strip is sexist needs to get a clue and stop sucking it up to feminists. Seriously.

  139. Durak says:

    I’d have thought the Paths of the Dead would go something more like this (unfortunately I can’t remember the relevant place names):

    DM: “King Theodin musters the Rohirrim horselords from across the land. They gather in the valley below the haunted mountains, the king’s pavilion atop a cliff overlooking the great encampment, and guarded from assault by shear cliffs and the dread Paths of the Dead. The eorids of thr Westfold arrive at last, and the army sets out on the long-”

    Aragorn: “Did he say ‘Paths of the Dead?'”

    Gimli: “Aye, a dungeon!”

    Legolas: ” Won’t we need a cleric for this?”

    Aragorn: “We’ll be fine. We’ve leveled up, and I’ve got this new magic sword. Lets go. ”

    DM: “What?! You’re just abandoning the army as it sets out to fight the main enemy?”

    Gimli: “Can our horses fit down this passage?”

    DM: “No. Your horses run away, braying in fear at the terrible, HIGH LEVEL evil down this narrow cleft in the mountains.”

    Aragorn: “If it’s so dangerous we’ll take the army.”

    DM: “No! No mortal man dares set foot in the passages.”

    Aragorn: “Ok, if the army’s too scared, we’ll do this dungeon ourselves.”

    DM: “No sane man, anyway.
    Ok, you reach a doorway which says ‘THE WAY IS SHUT. IT WAS MADE BY THOSE WHO ARE DEAD, AND THE DEAD KEEP IT-

    Gimli: “Are we sure those Rohanese didn't have any clerics?”

    Aragorn: “I walk in.”

    DM: “THE WAY IS SHUT!”

    Gimli: “I kick in the door.”

    THE PARTY WALKS IN TO THE MAIN ROOM AND GETS SURROUNDED BY GHOSTS.

    Gimli: “Assuming they’re the obvious profile, times the approximately two hundred we can see… This isn’t remotely level appropriate!”

    DM: “HIGH LEVEL evil, remember? Anyway, the King of the Dead looms before you, saying-”

    Legolas: “I shoot him! And… Crit!”

    DM: Sigh “Your arrow strikes him between the eyes and passes clean through his head. He-”

    Legolas: “Yes!”

    DM: “-looks at you with disdain.”

    Gimli: “There are too many of them! Aragorn, diplomacy check, now!”

    Aragorn: “Err, lets stop and talk about this. Modified 34?”

    DM: “How-”

    Aragorn: “My new level was in the King prestige class.”

    DM: Thinks for a moment “You’ve got nothing to offer them. The king attacks you.”

    Aragorn: “I block him with my magic sword.”

    Legolas: “And wasn’t he, like, their rightful king or something?”

    DM: “Fine!”

    HE GIVES ARAGORN’S SPEECH.

    DM’s note to self: resurrect the nazgul and give them dragons.

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<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

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