DM of the Rings CXXI:

By Shamus Posted Friday Jul 6, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 150 comments

No shortage of orcs in this story.
Whoever wrote this story has no imagination.

Everyone has different standards for verisimilitude. I’m often amused by the anecdotes from other players who inhabit crazy gameworlds that are bursting at the seams with preposterous creatures. They think nothing of doing a dungeon where an Ogre will inhabit an unadorned room next to a Black Pudding, who both live next door to a Dire Bear and an Earth Elemental. Stories like this make me laugh because I can’t help but picture what life must be like for these monsters in the dungeon as they sit around waiting for adventurers to show up. Talk about “The Odd Couple”. Actually, that’s a pretty cool idea for a comic: A sitcom-styled story about a bunch of freakish monsters who inhabit a trap-and-treasure laden dungeon, learning to love and laugh… together.


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150 thoughts on “DM of the Rings CXXI:

  1. Shamus says:

    Oh, and the “fi-tor” reference is totally a nod to Fear the Boot.

  2. marrilpet says:

    Wow… great comic, great “fist” post

  3. Silfea says:

    How did you get it before me?
    And the Fi-tor line was probably the best.

  4. Entropy says:

    Another funny one, Shamus! I love the last panel; at least someone is enjoying the melee!

  5. Kaemaril says:

    I hate to say it, but he’s got a point about the “watcher” :)

  6. vonKreedon says:

    The difference, it seems to me, is between people who just want to accumulate loot/experience points and people who want to create a story. If all you care about is playing a multiplayer version of Rogue then the Gelatinous Cube inhabiting the room next to the Troll and down the hall from the Looming Shade works great. But if you are trying to create a story that dungeon menagerie will be difficult to explain.

  7. vonKreedon says:

    PS: I totally love LegoLass’ bloodthirsty focus.

  8. vonKreedon says:

    PPS: I once DMed a game that had a dwarven fighter named Fightcher Ballsov

  9. Keldin says:

    Sadly, I don’t get the joke — is the name of that band “The Skanky Fists” or something? In any event, Shamus’ comments on world verisimilitude are spot on. How on earth these monsters would LIVE if “no one has gone into that tower for years” is beyond me. What would they eat — air? Each other? If that were the case, the after 10 years or so there’d be nothing left but maybe one or two really buff monsters!

  10. Luklan says:

    That’s the reason my dad makes for silly creatures like Digesters, and bizarro creatures like that.

    I mean, what the hell sustains them? And why are they living next to a couple of Ogres, half a dozen Drow, and a Pink and Blue Polkadot Demi-Lich of the Fifth Circle of Doom, in the natural cave next to a farm?

    Stupid ‘random encounter’ rolls.

  11. Shamus says:


    That’s “Love Fist”, the fictional 80’s glam-rock band from “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City”.

  12. Browncoat says:

    I never knew that D&D had “stories” when I played 20 years ago. Every game was a dungeon with the eclectic group of monsters. There were no “side-quests,” because a quest was just going into a dungeon, fighting monsters who had no business being there, next to the other monsters, or in a dungeon in the first place. And the first time we did a session outside of a dungeon, my fighter goes into a bar in town and is immediately set upon by the *entire* bar patronage who wish to take advantage of him in unhealthy ways. DM thought he was funny. He didn’t DM anymore. I think I had my fighter commit hare karey (sp?) before he was accosted.

    ‘twould be fun to play again with a group that has an imagination and some skills in playing/DMing. Right after my kids move off to college.

  13. Jochi says:

    You just describe Dungeons and Denizens in you afternote:

  14. NeedsToHeal says:

    Fi-tor!!! Too funny.

    I still love this comic.

  15. Evilllama says:

    The problem with many adventuring parties is that the absurdity of having loads of different unnatural creatures packed into a dungeon is less important than the fact that those creatures pump out XP and treasure. To hack-and-slashers, monsters are simply terrain, which is cut through and climbed over to move on.

  16. Telas says:

    I'm often amused by the anecdotes from other players who inhabit crazy gameworlds that are bursting at the seams with preposterous creatures.

    To cover a gap in my campaign, I once ran a module from a “Living” campaign. It looked a bit cheesy, but it kinda-sorta fit, and I had nothing prepped at the time, so…

    The players absolutely despised it. Comments ranged from “Railroad!” to “It’s the Random Critters and Templates Table!” to “Just how many low-charge magic items can a GM give the critters and still respect himself in the morning?”

    In hindsight: NEVER AGAIN.

    And Love Fist (Post)? Creepy, man… creepy.

  17. Marmot says:

    This one also fits into the top ten category. You’re getting better and better, Shamus (truth be told I expected jokes to degrade over time but they’re actually improving!). Good job!!!

  18. Lady Labyrinth says:

    First time posting a comment. I have been reading this for ages and adoring it all the way. Thank you, Shamus, you make 3/5 of my workweek worthwhile. :D

    Now about them creatures – It really depends on the story. If we’re talking about relatively intelligent creatures (relatively, as in, could probably understand a^2+b^2=c^2 faster than a carrot) with their own society, then yes, the number of different creatures you encounter will likely be limited. But if you’re talking about one smart dude (wizard, mage, lich, whatever) and a dungeon, well, then it makes perfect sense that he/she/it would have 1,983,275 different creatures for the adventurers to fight. If they beat the Bugbears, they might not survive the Gelatinous Cubes. If they beat the Cubes, there’s a good chance the Shadow Cats will kick their asses, yes? There’s still a story in there, but it’s about the freaky menagerie/pet-owner vs. a band of roving adventurers instead of being about a country (or countries) at war.

    That is all I have to say. :)

  19. Dan says:

    Fi-tor. That is really funny, but the subtle punchline with Lego-lass’s expression is the best.

    Uh, nineteenth post.

  20. Jindra34 says:

    so this is why legolass did the jump on the whatever and ride it down trick.

  21. brassbaboon says:

    On verisimilitude in role playing games….

    A major issue for my campaigns is whether the ecosystems portrayed in the environments I create are plausible. Thus it is not common for my players to find vampires living next door to kobolds. Nor do gelatinous cubes roam freely around goblin lairs.

    But this presents a quandary, and Shamus has neatly capsulized it in this comic. How do you provide an engaging diversity of challenges for your characters if you are trying to also create a plausible ecosystem or culture?

    Are goblins likely to share their homes with mindless devouring beasts who would chow down on little goblin imps at will? Goblins are not stupid, or not that stupid anyway. Plus they are not that bad in a fight. So it’s unlikely that they would not either clear out their homes or else move to a new place if they couldn’t get rid of the Beholder down the hallway.

    The best I’ve come up with is to have the kobolds and goblins use “pets” of varying sorts to protect their home, much as humans might use dogs. Plus the inhabitants of the lair frequently have visitors from other lairs, some of the same species, some not.

    But I have to be honest and admit that a steady diet of kobolds and goblins gets old after a while and I start wondering how I can introduce something more exotic without the immediate reaction of “how do the goblins live next to THAT thing?”

    Tonight, in fact, I have something special planned for precisely that reason, so this is very good timing for me Shamus….

  22. It’s kind of ironic, actually, because the guys riding the elephants were actually Evil Humans from the south. I don’t know whether or not that was intentional but it was even more amusing.

  23. Love it!
    No imagination indeed.

    This and what you covered in your after-comic comment are things I have shrived to avoid in the world I am building.
    I try to have the location of creatures make sense and to keep consistent in my adventures. But I also try to keep plenty of variety, each region should have at least 2 or 3 common creatures.


  24. PhilTheBald says:

    Was that supposed to be “They think nothing – Nothing! of doing a dungeon… or more like typo typo?
    (Tho’ I’m being pedantic, I love this series…)

  25. Reverend JIm says:

    One of the best adventures I have read or run was one where an old powerful wizard knew his days were numbered and he didn’t want to become a lich.

    He also knew that adventurer types would show up to take his loot after he died. He didn’t particularly like the idea of all his hard earned items waiting in some chest for an adventuring party, so he decided to make a game of it.

    He made up a labyrinth/tomb where his cache of magic goodies were active defenders of the tomb. Then, he advertised in all the nearby towns of a NEW TOMB TO LOOT and provided directions. He then placed himself at the end with the nonmagical loot and drank poison. As long as you did not disturb his body, you would be free to grab everything else. If you messed with the body a nasty demon was summoned to lay some beatdown.

    Now there was a guy who made his wealth work for him.

  26. Scarlet Knight says:

    “Love Fist”, huh? Did they do a version of “Hurts So Good”?

    In the real world, animals move into abandoned buildings quickly. In the D&D world, the animals are just a tad more varied. And what do they eat? Kobolds & goblins, of course! They’re small, they’re everywhere, & they mate faster than Aphrodite priests!

  27. Lo'oris says:

    watcher? I thought it was a kraken.

  28. Destroy Gundam says:

    Didn’t they fight goblins in Moria, not orcs?

  29. Hiark says:

    I don’t know if an english translation exists, but there’s a french comics called “Donjon” that talks about monsters who live in a dungeon. Quite hilarious !

  30. Tsetut says:

    Reverend Jim, thats just evil. Although really funny. Personally, I think one of the best ways to incorporate other monsters in say, a goblin camp would be in a zoo like thing. The gelatinous cube was trapped in a pit, and the goblins use it as a trap, the howlers are mounts, and the hydra is kept in a locked room in front of the cave, the goblins just use the hidden back door that medium creatures can’t fit through. The hydra is also fed from above.

  31. Fickle says:

    I love Legolas. I love him and his player so much for their total and complete disregard to the rest of the party if they have the chance to kill things. Preferably before anyone even knows what the hell is going on.

    *STILL waiting to see what happens with dead!Gollum* Do we get a zombie!Gollum, perhaps?

  32. Gary's Friend Jim says:

    At some point you ought to make a reference to Fear the Boot’s mascot, Baron von Badass.

  33. I have to say, that’d definitely be me. I still have my monstrous manual from the mid-nineties, you know, the one with like twenty different kinds of giant, and I’d definitely be like, “Could you at least throw some Bugbears at us? Maybe just a few Gibberlings?”

  34. Scott says:

    Have you seen the Goblins comic? Some of it covers the life of the monsters when the adventurers aren’t around.

  35. DataShade says:

    “A sitcom-styled story about a bunch of freakish monsters who inhabit a trap-and-treasure laden dungeon, learning to love and laugh… together.”

    Might I suggest ?

  36. innermoppet says:

    quoted from Jennifer Snow:
    It's kind of ironic, actually, because the guys riding the elephants were actually Evil Humans from the south. I don't know whether or not that was intentional but it was even more amusing.

    I don’t think Legolas’s player listened to or even cared about the description of the riders.

  37. Scarlet Knight says:

    “Donjon” ? Isn’t that the mustard trolls prefer on their bur-hobbits?

  38. Jindra34 says:

    Donjon means Dungeon.

  39. Knastymike says:

    Bring us home, Legolas! Excellent, as always. : )

  40. txknight says:

    Good comic as usual Shamus.

    While I try to keep some sense to the menagarie of critters I put in my game, I never worry too much about it. Afterall, in a game where a man can throw balls of fire with a few gestures and words, sciences such as physics or ecology just tend to take a back seat.

    1. WJS says:

      Why? Why should you throw all the rules out the window just because you’ve got a few extra rules for magic? Unless magic is directly involved, I don’t see that you have any justification for ignoring anything. Even when magic is involved you should still use logic and common sense rather than… well, what is the alternative? Everything is completely random?

  41. Alan Post says:


    in your previous comment, with legolas giving the same look, i really, really thought the “umm, guys” comment was going to be about the elephants.

    i was completely tickled not to have that expectation met, and i completely forgot about it until i read the last frame here!

    thank you!

  42. Jindra34 says:

    Shamus i hope you are seirously considerinhg propoesed comic about monster ‘odd couples’

  43. Lefty says:

    Yeah, the old RPG books that described 30 different species of sentient, empire-building creatures always irritated me, too — the same way that token beasties aren’t going to end up within dungeon-rooms of eachother, token civilizations of monsters aren’t going to end up within a few day’s ride of eachother without one group’s conquest & eradication…

    (Speaking of which, the website link is an old cheap javascript demonstration of what an Ogre, Goblin, Ghost & Demon hanging out might be like. Moreover, I’ve always thought all the James Bond villian’s sidekicks should rent a beach house somewhere. It would be the greatest show on earth)

  44. Marty says:

    Funny that people should bring up ecology…

    The problem with most fantasy worlds, D&D or otherwise, is that the predator to prey ratio is hugely out of balance. The game books are filled with various large carniverous mammal-like creatures that GMs love to sprinkle about to rankle the PCs.

    Unfortunately, the number of prey animals required to feed all these predators would mean that the adventurers could not walk down the road without trodding upon rabbits (or other small prey species) with every step.

    The reason so many big cats can live in close proximity in Africa is that there are literally thousands of gazelle and wildebeast to hunt nearby. Even so, the big cats don’t live overly close in proximity to one another and prey competition is high (with lions and hyenas often kill-stealing from the other predators who would rather not face them down).

    Where am I going with this? Well, you could try to model reality more closely, but that would really mean the PCs could wander for days before an encounter with a dangerous “monster”, which would probably run away. So what to do? Ignore the laws of reality and throw monsters at them left and right.

    It is just a game, after all. : )

  45. Senalishia says:

    On a slightly different topic from monster ecology–while fighting only a single type of monster is boring (but realistic), what’s really annoying is fighting a single TYPE of monster that interacts differently with different players. Like, say, a campaign full of nothing but undead–lots of fun for the cleric, not so much fun for the rogue…

    1. WJS says:

      Only in direct combat. If your Big Bad Evil Guyâ„¢ is a necromancer with a whole army of undead, you can’t fight all of them even with a cleric. What you can do is infiltrate his keep and assassinate him, and the rogue will have plenty to do in that scenario.

  46. Dave says:

    “The problem with most fantasy worlds, D&D or otherwise, is that the predator to prey ratio is hugely out of balance. The game books are filled with various large carniverous mammal-like creatures that GMs love to sprinkle about to rankle the PCs.

    Unfortunately, the number of prey animals required to feed all these predators would mean that the adventurers could not walk down the road without trodding upon rabbits (or other small prey species) with every step.”

    And of course, the universal answer: “A Wizard did it.”

    Specifically, the hand-wave answer is that many of these beasties were created by sorcerous means, and as a result actually draw most of their sustenance from the Weave (or whatever your world calls ambient magic). They just eat adventurers for the taste. :)

  47. Anders says:

    >>Stories like this make me laugh because I can't help but picture what life must be like for these monsters in the dungeon as they sit around waiting for adventurers to show up. Talk about “The Odd Couple”. Actually, that's a pretty cool idea for a comic: A sitcom-styled story about a bunch of freakish monsters who inhabit a trap-and-treasure laden dungeon, learning to love and laugh… together.

  48. Anders says:

    …and I try again.

    Same quote as above, plus the comment I meant to leave, which was “Yamara did it”.

  49. Robert says:

    Your comments after basically sum up the Keep on the Borderlands module.

  50. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    This is why I rarelly do massive dungeons.Its much easier to have your players go through a few caves and towns during a session,and they wont complain about either having the same monster gazillion times,or about having ridiculous menagerie.But when the story asks for a huge dungeon,I find its best to populate it with undead and or golems,since thats the easiest one to explain.Of course,a few controlers of one race are just a bonus here.

  51. Scarlet Knight says:

    You know this reminds me of an old lizardman I knew. He ate all his opponents, except for trolls. “Don’t you like troll?” I asked. “I love them” he said,” but troll meat repeats on me!

    Come to think of it, all predators in a dungeon can live on troll; as long as the intelligent ones remember to throw the fatty pieces back…

  52. Salen says:

    Yay! Legolas once again becomes blood thirsty for shooting folks with his bow! I can’t wait to see what he does with the elephant and to see how the other team members react to it.

  53. melchar says:

    This is why I have very few ‘dungeons’ on my game-world. Only ones [‘pleasure dungeons’] – that I have were built by incredibly powerful mages that stock the places with monsters and treasure, then sit back with popcorn & scrying devices to watch adventurers come in fight / die / kill / loot. [It’s the closest thing to TV ^_^]

  54. Lil'German says:

    Three Hoorays for the inventor of the “bottle show” :D
    Brings back a lot of memories on the other hundred-odd strips.
    Well done Shamus

  55. Josh says:

    I recall a series of articles in Dragon Magazine, way back when, called “the ecology of “. They explained how things like gelatinous cubes survived day to day, so you could create dungeons that would work as ecosystems. I guess that adventurers could then come along and disturb those ecosystems and, following a process of natural selection, produce weird mutant variants of monsters. That would be pretty cool.

  56. Samir says:

    fi-tor! heh

    when I get board with naming conventions I use..
    Sand-or Malachite and Woody Tumescence.

  57. Devotee of Reason says:

    To evolve a gelatanous cube [1], say, would require either hundreds of millions of years of dungeoneering adventurers or an obscenely high mutation rate. (The latter might explain why the capabilities of even standard creatures and races change quite frequently. This, however, would seem to occur in a manner similar to a grossly exaggerated version of punctuated equilibrium, with long periods of no change punctuated by short periods of very rapid change [3.X, I’m looking at you!])

    That aside, given that most D&D worlds were created by active deities, it is quite possible that some of this was some form of ‘divine guided’ evolution, or even flat up creation in the first state, then direct intervention whenever a change should occur. The fact that no NPCs seem to notice these changes (Green Dragons’ breath suddenly behaving like acid, rather than undefined ‘corrosive gas’ comes to mind) might lend support to the theory of divine involvement, or else simply comment on the observation ability of NPCs.

    [1] The gelatinous cube is even adapted to graph paper, for Thor’s sake.

  58. MH(C?) says:

    The shots of Aragon in panels 1, 2 and 3 are, quite frankly, fantastic.

    (What an inventive debut post. Keep those creative juices flowing, me.)

  59. Lihtox says:

    Are goblins likely to share their homes with mindless devouring beasts who would chow down on little goblin imps at will?

    Maybe they are in the process of cleaning out that gelatinous cube infestation, but haven’t finished yet. That would be interesting: on the one hand, the goblins are happy that you’re doing their extermination for them, while on the other hand….

  60. Marty said: “The game books are filled with various large carniverous mammal-like creatures that GMs love to sprinkle about to rankle the PCs.”

    This is because people are guilty of forgetting that the nastiest creatures on earth are *herbivores*. Herbivores grow bigger, range further, and are often surrounded by hundreds of their brothers, sisters, cousins and aunties. Even your biggest, meanest predators like polar bears try to avoid tackling adult herbivores: they go after the young, the sick, and the otherwise fragile.

    It is interesting to note that in the sea this dynamic is actually reversed. I remember reading an article some time ago indicating that while the late-Cretacous dinosaur die-off started on land with mega-carnivores, in the ocean the carnivores were some of the last to go because they were not bound to localized food sources.

    Okay, I think I’ve reached the realm of “no one cares about this but you”, so I’m shutting up now. :)

  61. Dave says:

    I’d subscribe to that comic.. Maybe “The world of Monty Haul”.. but not a sit-com.. a soap opera. .. that’s it.. “As the Dungeon Turns”… hmm.. maybe I’ll write it.. hmm.. a soap.. yup.. definately a soap.

  62. Telas says:

    RE: Evolutionary diversity, and the D&D worlds.

    There’s a strong background radiation that accounts for the fantastic variance of the average campaign’s flora and fauna.

    It’s called magic.

  63. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    the verb to watch does not just imply sight, it applies to perception in general and is perfectly appropriate for use with any situation involving being aware of things.

  64. Severed Hand says:


    A perfect example of your hand-wave explanation: the owlbear


  65. Deacon Blues says:

    “Love Fist”, huh? Did they do a version of “Hurts So Good”?

    Not as far as I know, but a few song titles were mentioned during the game (mostly in commercials for the LoveFist show coming up at the stadium downtown). It’s been a while, so I don’t remember most of them, but one title that stuck with me was “Dangerous Man, Dead Family”…

  66. Isoyami says:

    Another good one!

    Fi-tor… *Snerk*

    At least Aragorn didn’t try to name his fighter “Fighter McWarrior”. He doesn’t have two swords, and he doesn’t even know Kung Fu. Bah.


  67. brassbaboon says:

    Some DMs feel that verisimilitude is important. Some do not. I am one of the former. There are any number of ways in a campaign to explain a high concentration of monsters or evil npc races. The easiest way is to have them going to war against the invading “civilized” races. Then it makes perfect sense for them to be in small areas in large numbers. That is, in fact, exactly what my current campaign is based around. Elves, humans, dwarves, gnomes and halflings have been pushing kobolds, goblins, gnolls, orcs, etc. out of their ancestral homes for generations, and the “evil” races are sick of it and have joined forces to push the invaders back where they came from. So there are any number of encampents, lairs and even villages of them.

    When I am doing a campaign that is more single-focused and more of a traditional dungeon-crawl, I have done the old “wizard’s keep” approach where the dungeon is infested with critters summoned or even created by the wizard, and that works OK too.

    If it’s a one-shot dungeon crawl based on some random monsters or treasure, I still try to come up with some plausible reason that there might be a variety of monsters in one cave system. As someone mentioned, undead are easy. I tend to shy away from what I consider the obvious artificial creatures that exist solely to make dungeon crawling difficult (gelatinous cubes and rust monsters come to mind). In fact I don’t believe I have ever had either of those in one of my worlds. What that means is that I usually try to come up with a food chain, with bigger monsters eating the littler monsters down to some base level like kobolds that breed like rabbits and which get their own food from outside of the cave.

    But sometimes it’s just not worth the effort to strive for such logical analysis, and just have fun with unexpected surprises.

    Tonight, in my more typical goblin lair scenario, I had the party encounter a small group of bugbear “enforcers” who also had the help of some undead backup forces which had been left behind as cheap security labor by one of the powerful forces that the group has not yet encountered. It worked pretty well, three bugbears (one a shaman), one zombie and four skeletons gave a group of four third level characters all they could handle. It was a close thing, but eventually the party emerged victorious, if a bit battered and scarred. In part I put the undead in there just to give the cleric a chance to use his turn ability. But it still “made sense” from an overall milieu perspective. Of course now I have to get more creative still, but there’s plenty of time for that.

  68. Darian says:

    you know, there are a few webcomics out there like what you described in your comments. (I would know, I’ve got a list of about 500 comics I read) off the top of my head I know of one or two that update(d) regularly: and

  69. characterstaff says:

    Long time reader, first time poster. I had to post just to say what a great strip! The last comment made by LegoLass steals the show!! Too funny.

  70. Simon Jester says:

    Great comic. Definitely plays up the natural tension between diversity and plausibility in D&D.

    Personally, whenever I get close to dungeon design I tend to develop an intense case of “where’s the bathroom?” thinking. The challenge of remembering to put in all the features that the NPCs would need to stay alive in the dungeon (like regular food supplies) are probably even bigger than those of remembering to keep the distribution of monsters plausible.

  71. Bob Gomersall says:

    Re comment 61 in particular:
    I remember one campaign, I had a rather low-intelligence dwarf with a big axe (no sniggering at the back, please). The party was passing a herd of oxen and my dwarf decided ‘breakfast!’ To cut an embarassing episode short, he rolled low, the oxen rolled high. Luckily he managed a successful ‘flee’ but the cleric took 3 days to heal him.

    Re ecologies: LoTR has the ultimate: Shelob plus orcs.

    Re this comic: another amazing collection of laughs. I keep on thinking it can’t get any better, but it does!

  72. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    Heh, in the book, they give an explanation somewhere that some flying nazghul (or flying somethings anyway) things dropped off a bundle of something in the pool that got created when they damned up the stream.

    So that was definitely one thing in the book that was deliberately not naturally evolved to that environment

  73. capitain says:

    Nice one Shamus!

    Thoughts on ecology and biodiversity…
    I think Marty commented very well on that. Often the prey is a little bit underrepreseneted. Probably because very few people think deer hunting could be sport. Well it is! Try to make a subquest around hunting for food. Build traps, lure prey, watch it evade the traps… make the players feel like Wil-e Coyote. Makes a hilarious evening, …without one single predator-fiend.
    By the way the amount of prey which sustains the masses of predator-type critter, in a given ecosystem, has its own benefits.
    Ever starve your players to death because hunting and foraging-skills didn´t roll-out so well?

  74. Skullhead says:

    shamus forgott the ringwraiths :-/
    anyways great comic so far

  75. Capitan said: “Ever starve your players to death because hunting and foraging-skills didn’t roll-out so well?”

    No, but I don’t usually do verisimilitude in that fashion in my games. However, I have *played* in a game in which we came fairly close to starving ourselves to death. We were *supposed* to be looking for an ancient artifact (The Scissors of Atropos) so we could destroy another ancient evil artifact, and we even had a fairly good idea of where we needed to go to find the scissors.

    Unfortunately for the DM, the story he told us about the location had it populated by the army of a Demon Lord. We were something like seventh or eighth level at the time. So we decided to go explore off the edge of the map instead. I think the DM had to go laugh in the bathroom for five solid minutes.

    Well, to shorten this story we hired a ship to take us to an uninhabited elbow of land across a strait. We neglected to tell the captain to come back and *GET* us. Well, this land turned out to be REALLY uninhabited. I think the only thing we found at all were some stone giants and you can’t eat those.

    We ended up building a big fire to try and get some attention, which also didn’t turn out too well because all we attracted was a DRAGON.

  76. In my current campaign, the DM’s put a lot of ecosystem thought in. I occasionally try to catch him in a contradiction [“If there’s been a basilisk in that sewer system for years, shouldn’t there be lots of statues around?”] and he’s always had an answer, typically one that reveals a clue he gave us earlier that we ignored [“Remember when I told you the ground beneath the sewage you were walking through seemed to be covered with lots of irregular and pointy rocks, and asked whether anyone wanted to investigate? Those were the rats that come to the basilisk’s lair. Everything else knows to avoid it, and it can live off the rats.”]

    Even if I never get the clues in advance, I like the thought that there *are* such clues, and that I still *might* be able to logic out some piece of information by paying attention to ecosystem questions.

  77. Little Gen says:

    Awwwww, the looks on Arr-a-gone’s face!

    And for the ecosystem part: I participated for a while in creating a D&D world with an ecosystem of monsters, and though the game didn’t happen, we surely did have some good time… “But if Critter A eats Critter B, it should have developped these-and-these organs to survive it’s acidic blood!” “Yeah, right, let’s make it eat Critter C instead. But who will feed on B?” “How about it just tears them open before eating and lets the blood pool out…” “Okay, but how about Critter C then?” “It’ll eat them only if B:s are not available…”

  78. Terra says:

    Monsters in dungeons learning to live and love together. *snrk*

  79. Zippy Wonderdog says:

    Its a question of variety rather than zoo (I can’t pronounce that M word).
    The evil wizard has taken up residence in a dungeon, he has a pet (insert) random mindless monster) and his hired on some orcs for security and has made a bugbear his security chief (give it some fighter levels).
    For some cheap labour he has animated a dozen or so zombies (so the cleric “gets” some) and his working on some secret summoning project (just to add some slaads or whatever in case the PCs have it too easy.
    So now you have a good bit of variety to your dungeon, its not rocket science you know :)

  80. oldschoolGM says:

    Personally I find you go through three stages as a gamer looking at the dungeon ecology question.

    You start off as a newcomer to the game and are entranced with all these cool and weird creatures and want to fight as many or throw as many into your dungeon as possible just cause, well, they’re cool!

    You get to a point where you realize the ‘dungeon menagerie’ isn’t very plausible and you expect/try to make everything perfectly realistic (within the fantasy boundaries). This involves coming up with detailed rationalizations for the placement of every monster, overall ecologies, and background stories and lifecycles for every carrion crawler and (Tritherion forbid) flumph in the dungeon.

    Finally, you come to realize not only is this way to much work, (or too much to expect if you are a player). Not only that, no matter how much work you put into it, D&D is NEVER going to be really plausible, and it’s best to just try and make a fun game. I’ll try to make the dungeon ecology have a veneer of plausibility, but if I want to throw a Gratuitous Gelatinous Cube in there, for whatever reason, I’m not gonna sweat it. If the players question it, hey just remind that just because they don’t KNOW why it’s there, they just have to deal with it. Maybe they’ll find a reason for it later, but maybe they won’t. In the end, a few things that seem inexplicable actually can ADD to the plausibility factor. After all, realistically, the players probably wouldn’t figure out all the ins and outs of every dungeon anyway.

    That said, there ARE ways to make a “single monster type” dungeon seem varied. It just takes a lot of work. 3.X has done much of the legwork giving DMs templates and prestige classes to work with. You can give every orc class levels, distinct fighting styles, and an individual ‘read-out-loud’ description that reflects their personal history. Just be prepared to see all that work hacked away with nary a second thought as the players half listen to the description and proceed to hack-hack-hack-loot mode.

  81. !n00b says:

    brassbaboon —

    Actually, kobolds-and-beholder can make reasonable sense. Both monster types are lawful evil intelligent beings, so have a basic social compatibility. Make the beholder the king/dictator/tyrant, ruling by a combination of charm rays and raw power. The kobolds make useful servants for the beholder (they have hands, they can craft things like traps, they can serve as lookouts/guards), while the powerful beholder’s patronage helps save the kobolds from depredations of tougher monsters. (You want to be the bugbears who abuse some kobolds? Why not? Now, you want to be the bugbears who tick off a beholder because you’re abusing his valuable slaves? A bit dicer a proposition.)

    Devotee of Reason —

    Actually, green dragons have always had pretty much the same breath weapon. It was explicit in old D&D, AD&D, and AD&D 2e that it was chlorine gas, and it’s implicit in 3e and 3.5 — their breath weapon is a “corrosive gas”. Chlorine is a corrosive gas. The way the game system have handled it has changed — but it’s actually more accurate to how chlorine gas works (prior to 3e, it was treated pretty much as if chlorine gas damage was a toxin effect, which is inaccurate.) The change of green dragon immunity from D&D “poison” to D&D “acid” was then necessary to keep green dragons immune to their own breath weapon.

  82. Matt says:

    Oh, man. I laughed out loud for half a minute after reading the last frame. (Something I rarely do… really funny things I read typically just make me smile.) Something about the photo of Legolas, the caption, and the whole setup just clicked for me.

    Funniest comic I’ve read in quite some time. Thanks.

  83. Dave D says:

    The Real World (Dungeon)!!!
    20 creatures picked to live together…yada yada yada

  84. Kelly says:

    I’m not familiar with Dungeons and Denizens, but the scenario described in the blurb sounds a little like Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic.

    Funny, but I like yours better.

  85. Dernwine says:

    What you can do is have several factions in a dungeon, have a “easy” faction (like cobalts, or goblins) and something harder going at each other, and only slowly let the players realize. I’m thinking like the level 343 Gulity Spark in the original Halo. Give the players inklings that something more sinister (maybe demons) are down there, and then let them stumble right into the middle of their base, or get caught in a battle between the two factions.

    Am I making sense to anyone? or am I just making noise?

  86. Keith Curtis says:

    “A sitcom-styled story about a bunch of freakish monsters who inhabit a trap-and-treasure laden dungeon, learning to love and laugh… together.”

    Mount Zogon was just such a web-comic.

  87. Tom Gunn says:

    Check out this comic:

    It’s the first one I thought of on reading your post comic discussion. Not exactly what you describe but pretty close and a funny read. You’ll like it.

  88. Scarlet Knight says:

    “Ever starve your players to death because hunting and foraging-skills didn´t roll-out so well?”

    Ever see players beat the DM silly?
    I’m sorry, I spend too much time in reality trying to put food on the table, keep a roof over my head, & fight off sickness for that to be fun for me in D&D. If I get a Keep, and we spend the whole night in a taxation meeting, the DM had BETTER be able to roleplay worthy of a Tony!

  89. Ken Talton says:

    Have you ever played Dungeon Keeper?

    I agree utterly with those who laughed at the Legolas panel at the end. That was sublime. :)

  90. Scarlet Knight said: “If I get a Keep, and we spend the whole night in a taxation meeting, the DM had BETTER be able to roleplay worthy of a Tony!”

    One of the more fun things you can do in a game is take a “realistic” (meaning “dull” or “normal”) situation and blow it completely out of proportion, add a few monsters plotting the Downfall of Civilization, and have fun with it.

    I read an article once where the writers for The West Wing basically did something like that. How do you make a drama out of politics? Pick any issue. Give different sides to different characters. Have them start screaming at each other. Instant drama.

  91. Greyed says:

    Excellent! Thank you so much for many laughs today. Started at the beginning and read pretty much straight through until now. Please, please, please keep it up…

    … then go on to the Star Wars campaign! :D

  92. superfluousk says:

    But they *did* have variety! They had a pond squid called a Watcher. Aragorn is just never satisfied. *sniff*

    Besides, there are some Trolls too, and didn’t they fight the men on the corsair ships?

  93. Paul says:

    Yeah! The first thing I thought of, too, were the Dungeon Keeper games. Good times.

  94. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    Let’s see…

    Nazghul in the Shire…
    Evil trees in the Old Forest…
    Wights in the barrows (different powers from the Nazghul)…

    Aragorn joins

    Nazghul in Bree…
    Big flies in the Midgewater…
    Nazghul on Weathertop…
    Nazghul at the river…

    Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli and Boromir join

    Flocks of raven spies…
    A pissy, possibly intelligent mountaintop…
    Tolkien werewolves (demon wolves, worse than worgs)…
    The Watcher in the Water…
    Cave Troll…
    Mountain Orcs…
    Balrog they weren’t allowed to fight…

    Gandalf falls

    Mountain Orcs…
    Nazghul over the river on Fell-Beast…
    Gollum on the river…
    Uruk-Hai and Mountain Orcs…

    Boromir dies, Frodo and Sam leave, Pippin and Merry captured

    Chase orcs…

    Gandalf joins again

    Snivelling spy/poisoner…
    Orcs, Uruk-Hai, wargs, half-orcs and Hill-Men at Helm’s deep…
    A wizard and his follower…
    Nazghul fly-over on Fell-Beast…
    Undead that seek redemption…
    Southerlings (southern men)…
    Mamaluks (the elephants)…
    Black-Trolls (don’t turn to stone in the sun)…

    If you include the party as all the characters then:

    Will-o-Wisps and swamp ghosts…
    Fell-Beast flyovers…
    Orcs (two separate breeds of them)…
    The Watchers (the intelligent statues)…

    Ring destroyed…

    Saurman and his half-orc and human followers…

    and all that is not including the people on the good-guys’ side:

    Eagles, Ents, Elves

  95. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    Oh, and I think Legolas has regularly been countering Aragorn’s “no one statements” the entire campaign since he joined…

  96. brassbaboon says:

    Tolkien had a bit of a consistency problem in his description of orcs vs. goblins, which was exacerbated with his introduction of the Uruk Hai, which he described essentially as half-orcs.

    Luke’s list is a little generous, and much of the variety (such as the trees in the Old Forest and the Barrow-wights) were left out of the movie.

    But if you are simply looking at the Tolkien menagerie of creatures and include the Hobbit, things get very much richer. You add giant spiders, dragons, storm-giants, Beorn and the beornlings, talking ravens and others I am sure I am missing.

    But the movies really did seem to be an endless diet of orcs, orcs, orcs….

  97. Kt'Hyla says:

    This just gets cooler… It never occurred to me that LotR would make such a lousy campaign! :D

    I fully expect Frodo and Sam to be re-introduced re-enacting The Dual between Vader/Anakin and Obi-Wan…

  98. Tola says:

    …He has a point, but so does the DM.

    Sauron….really doesn’t have THAT much to work with. With that in mind, it’s fairly impressive that he’s still such a nmassive threat with such weak servants.

    Oh, the Evil Men are good enough, and he got their loyalty LONG ago, but if he didn’t have those?

    …Heh. It’s twice that Evil has been victorious when all says they should lose. Numenor and Arnor are the examples I’m thinking of.

  99. Hand-E-Food says:

    Hehe… 10 points for “The Odd Couple” idea. I really would like to see that. :-D

  100. ArchU says:

    I'm often amused by the anecdotes from other players who inhabit crazy gameworlds that are bursting at the seams with preposterous creatures.

    My current game has had all sorts of weirdos – right down to a barbarian “monster of legend half-fiend celestial ogre” (must be fairly legendary with being so rare). A terrific nemesis: the party is still having trouble against that one and he’s only a sidekick!

  101. Jindra34 says:
    you do realize that the half-feind and celestial templates are mutually exclusive.

  102. Angbasdil says:

    Am I the only one who suspects we’ll see Legolas roll a double zero in the next episode?

  103. Caius says:

    I cant wait to see how the dialog puts the elephant sceen in its place…

  104. Damionte says:

    Wjat !?! Ohh Nooooooooo I’ve cought up with the comic. I’m doomed! I just found this great comic today, and read through it from the ebginning while I was here at work. But now… now I am stuck in the la-la land of waiting for each individual comic to arrive. Oh MAAAAN ! I have become … one of.. you !

  105. Raved Thrad says:

    Loved the expressions on Aragorn’s face. And Legolas’ whiny comment in the last panel was funny as hell.

  106. Trevel says:

    I’m pretty sure that in Tolkein’s world, there was no distinction between Goblins and Orcs other than the name. (Orcrist being the Goblin-Cleaver, e.g.) Hobbits called them goblins, for the most part, and others called them orcs.

  107. Roxysteve says:

    How about a show about five extra-planar beings, each from a different plane, and their whacky lives in adjacent apartments in Greyhawk?

    It could be called Fiends.

  108. Scarlet Knight says:

    Roxysteve: Ah, I hear the theme song already:
    “I’ll be there for you, when the oil begins to pour…
    I’ll be there for you, like a Demon drips ichor… ”

    “Damionte Says: Oh MAAAAN ! I have become … one of.. you !”
    Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

  109. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    Goblins and Hobgoblins were just words used to describe specific breeds of orca

    You’ll also notice that the narrator is different from The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings.

    My personal opinion is that the Hobbit was, despite the third person nature, written by Bilbo and that Lord of the Rings is written by the four hobbits of that book.

    The tone, language and characterizations of The Hobbit are much more glowing and fairy-taleish and described in flowery ways. Very much like Bilbo.

    The majority of LotR, however, is described in a much more factual manner, though there is still something of a sight-seer’s manner in some of the description of terrain. The narration seems more serious, which partially due to the nature of the quest, and a bit more elevated and philosophical.

    During the Hobbits’ captivity with the orcs of Isengard, the narration is a bit more skippy, probably due to the fact that the only consistently conscious member of the pair and that Pippin, while paying more attention than usual, was still the least aware of the whole Fellowship. Still he shows that he has learned some good sense as he pays attention to what the orcs are doing and talking about and when he can get a chance to break off and leave signs and/or escape. However, he doesn’t get much past immediate details or things observed in the orcish arguments.

    Once they get into Fangorn, however, Merry has recovered and starts taking over the Narration, as is obvious by the discussion of not just observed details but of the implications of those details. However, the implications discussed are much more practical as is fitting Merry’s style. Merry (in the book) is a respectable young hobbit of means who has quite the reputation for handling things practically and though he’s capable of philosophy like Frodo, he’s more likely to be concerned with things like direction and food and enemy strategy. Down to earth things important to the busisness he’s currently involved with.

    Pippin also takes over when he is taken to Minas Tirith on Shadowfax. He starts to think a bit deeper in this section, but most of the discussion of implications and the like in this section is carried out in dialogue and what is in Narration is often in response to something previously mentioned in Dialogue. It is also very personal.

    Merry’s experience in the Rohan, however, is much more broad-viewed. Merry keeps track of the troop movements of both the various portions of the Rohirrim he travels with and the reports of the orcish movements as well. He pays close attention to the rider that takes him, but doesn’t immediately realize that it’s Eowyn until much later. He is much more concerned with long-term consequences than Pippin or even Sam.

    Sam and Frodo’s trip to Mordor is full philosophical descriptions and what now would be called “Emo” (my sister has often said that Sam was in the book to give the readers someone to be entertained by when they wanted to strangle Frodo). This section is split actually between Sam and Frodo. Whenever Frodo is the focus of narration, the language is higher and more elevated and more philosophical and, let’s admit it, whiny. Whenever Sam takes dominance, the language is a lot earthier, simpler, similar in ways to how Bilbo Baggins was narrated in The Hobbit. Sam, however, focuses almost all his attention on general topics: Frodo, Gollum and Food. Other things drift through, but not for long.

    Once they get past Shelob, the narration is all Sam’s focus: Frodo and the Job.

    The Hunt for the Uruk-Hai, Helm’s Deep and the trip from Minas Tirith to Moranon is mostly focused around Aragorn’s perceptions and is full of strategy and battle, devices, plans, movements and implications and gambles.

    The Paths of the Dead are mostly told by Gimli and filled with his fear of the place.

    The portion where Gandalf cures Theoden is mostly Gandalf’s perception, with the other members of the Fellowship fading into the background for a little bit.

    In general, however, the term Goblin is generally only used in Bilbo’s story and Sam’s narration. Frodo’s narration uses orcs because men and elves call them orcs and so “goblins” sounds to him uneducated.

  110. David V.S. says:

    The RPG “Paranoia” actually DID have an adventure in which the future/sci-fi characters were transported to a parody of a classic D&D Dungeon. One location was the “wandering monster bridge room” where the wandering monsters waited for their turn to roam the dungeon while playing cards and doing other time-passing hobbies.

  111. superfluousk says:

    Re: Luke at 112: Very impressive! I think you are quite right in tracking both the persons of the narratives and also their perspectives and priorities. Just one correction:

    My personal opinion is that the Hobbit was, despite the third person nature, written by Bilbo and that Lord of the Rings is written by the four hobbits of that book.

    This isn’t your personal opinion, this is fact. :) There’s quite a bit of meta discussion in the books, about the books.

    “There was a big book with plain red leataher covers; its tall pages were now almost filled. At the beginning there were many leaves covered with Bilbo’s thin wandering hand [“There and Back Again,” aka The Hobbit] but most of it was written in Frodo’s firm flowing script. …

    The title page had many titles on it, but here Bilbo’s hand ended and Frodo had written: “The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King (as seen by the Little People; being the memoirs of Bilbo and Frodo of the Shire, supplemented by the accounts of their friends and the learning of the Wise.)”

    The book’s cover is described as having the same decorations and runes as are on the hardcover copies of The Lord of the Rings itself. In other words, The Red Book is quite obviously meant to be the book, so this isn’t just your opinion, it’s stated canon fact.

  112. akb4 says:

    The classic RPG “Tunnels and Trolls” explained in the rulebook that in the game you live on a world completely riddled with dungeons with a surface totally covered with towns to shop in. It also had cool spell names like “Take that, you fiend!”

  113. sybill says:

    “Oh, and the “fi-tor” reference is totally a nod to Fear the Boot.”

    And here i thaught you were spying on our horde troll team we made on an RP server.
    the brothers ‘Tor
    and our undead grandfather (we haven’t made him yet waiting for a few more levels and someone to play him)

  114. John Wright says:


    The first game I ever ran, was run with at least a modicum of realism in ecology: the setting was a partly-terraformed human space colony that had fallen into the dark ages. There were still some technical toys left over from the previous civilization, some knowledge of modern organizational techniques, but no central authority, no industry.

    The original ecology was creeping back in, killing off the green trees and crops. The enemies who crash landed on the planet during the stellar wars were still present, also with a crippling low-tech. Various friendly aliens had landed with the humans, but with the crash of the civilization, natural xenophobia reasserted itself: one race returned to the sea, and prevented human shipping from spreading too far. Another race of aliens captured and bred human freaks for various purposes.

    Mutation had produced strange mind powers that the locals called magic. Magicians, and mutants, and all nonhumans, were hunted by an international guild of professional witchhunters. The Ecclesia, a religious guild, attempted to gather and preserve ancient knowledge. Spies and semi-human servants of the enemy aliens moved unnoticed among the human population, waiting for the day when their lords should arise from hiding, and destroy the human race. Meanwhile the international guild of pirates and thieves, the daring Anomoi, struggled with the nobles of the Fourteen Families for control of the sea-lanes.

    I even had a dungeon: a left over buried missile silo, NORAD style, that had been occupied by a sorcerer-assassin who was in communication both with the Fourteen Families, and with the alien enemy, and also with the dread and dread Postal Authority, who, by a very ancient and significant law, were allowed to pass over any boundary or border without tax or tarriff or leave or let.

    Brother, I had PLENTY of random encounters. I had First Folk and Witchhunters and Lycanthrophiles, and Deodands not to mention gigantic sea-dinsoaurs, remorseless weapon-systems left over from the old days, paranoid mind-wizards hiding in the glass towers erected by a prehuman folk.

    All it takes is a little background info, a little set-up, and you can get as many monsters as you need. The scariest monster of all, of course, is man.

  115. Tom_Violence says:

    Scrubs reference? Jan-Itor!

  116. mocking bird says:

    From encyclopedia Arda

    A name almost synonymous with Orcs. There is some debate about how closely the the two terms are related to one another, and indeed it could be argued that they both effectively relate to the same thing.

    The following quote from the foreword to The Hobbit sheds some light on this: “[The word ‘Orc’] occurs in one or two places but is usually translated goblin (or hobgoblin for the larger kinds.)’ The fact that the larger kinds are given their own special word might suggest that goblins tend to be smaller Orcs, but the evidence on this point is inconclusive.

    The word ‘goblin’ is also used occasionally and indiscriminately in The Lord of the Rings; it never occurs in the The Silmarillion.

    Ironically the Great Goblin rules Goblin-Town that is a city of orcs.

    What about Fi-Tor the Snow Dog?

    Geek points galore!!!

  117. Kuroikitsu says:

    Look up the web comic Bob the Beholder. Bunch of monsters living together in a dungeon full of traps learning to live and laugh… together. ;)

  118. Ross says:

    Kuroikitsu – it’s not “Bob the Beholder”, it’s Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic (YAFGC) found at . Bob is merely one of the cast.

    Also Dungeons and Denizens ( has this formula, but it appears that it is now defunct. Some fun archives, though!

  119. Rozzen says:

    It’s already been mentioned, but the French “Donjon” series is exactly about that. It’s a guy who runs a dungeon as a commercial enterprise, attracting adventurers with the lure of abundant treasure, waiting for them to get killed by one of the thousands of exotic creatures that roam the corridors and taking their money.
    The whole thing being run pretty much like a zoo.

  120. Chibi-Kibou says:

    ‘Been in a play like that and all myself ^^

    It was short ( our DM move to the other side of the planet >.> ), but Really fun…

    We were playing on Ataraxia ( ( un, German.. so I only get to play when it’d be possible to accomodate an English speaker whose trying without much success to learn the language x.x )), a setting and system made from the ground up by said DM, and for fun she suggested playing a campaign.. from the monsters’ perspectives. So we each chose one of the monster templates, started at level 1, and created our characters based on the monster system rather than character generation system.

    Met, wandered about, had a few little adventures of our own, not very positive encounters with ‘heroes’..

    It was fun ^^ DM played a kind of ‘negative emotion construct’, I was playing a living puppet ( ningyo ), another played a dragon if I remember right.. and so on.

  121. Jim P says:

    I knew a guy who played an Elven bard named ‘Elfus’, with full muttonchop sideburns.

  122. Seve says:

    That fisting ruins all funney of commenting :-(

    Comic rocks on tho.

  123. Lysa says:

    Might be a cool idea for a comic but not exactly an original one. Dungeons & Denizens anyone?

  124. Kimera says:

    Dungeons and Denezins
    Is this the comic you wanted Shamus? They’ve actually started posting new strips again so its kinda cool.

  125. I’ve always thought the Tarrasque was cute. Maybe he could be the resident “baby” character who girls coo over.

  126. dyrnwyn says:

    I run that kind of game. I love to put in strange monsters with no real explanation as how or why they are there.

  127. dyrnwyn says:

    I always thought the Tarrasque’s shell looked like melted cheese.

  128. blah blah blah says:

    There’s actually a great explanation for things like Black Puddings and Gelatinous Cubes: they fill an ecological niche in dark, dank caves.

    When an ogre or what have you decides it wants to eat some manflesh, it will leave the dungeon at night, capture some people, and drag them back inside. Unless he’s a particularly well-bred ogre, he’s going to be a sloppy eater, leaving bits of flesh, half-gnawed bone, tattered clothes, and big trails of blood all over his lair, not to mention the mounds of feces he excretes afterwards. Any kind of fungoid-thing would be happy to subsist on the edible scraps that the ogre left behind. That leaves the question of how it could get there in the first place, but since this is a fantasy setting we’re allowed to get away with things like spontaneous generation.

    If you watch any nature documentary about life in large caves, you’ll see there is a whole ecology at work there, with bats or birds going out to hunt and bringing in new food and energy to the cave. There are cave snakes that prey on bats, cockroaches and fungus to feed on the guano, eyeless cave fish, nearly invisible salamanders, 2cm cave spiders whose webs reach upwards of a meter, unique myriapods, and so forth. In fact, caves are the least-understood ecosystems in the world, so a carrion crawler or giant invisible salamander are actually *more* probable to find than a wizard, or even orcs or goblins (which, to my mind, are just ugly people).

    Even something otherworldly like an Earth Elemental can be explained. Someone clearly must have summoned it, so either its boss, a high-level wizard, is roaming around the dungeon somewhere, or a kid with a magic item conjured it and then got killed, in which case there’s a staff of elemental summoning or a stone of conjuring earth elementals somewhere. In either case, the Elemental itself is probably in a dormant state (looks like a big stone, or a pile of dirt) inside a magic circle chalked on the floor. If someone steps inside the circle, or erases part of it, it reawakens and attacks.

    I think that finding the a particular dungeon encounter to be silly or absurd has rather to do with the DM’s inability to make the setting compelling (if all the walls in the dungeon are covered with a nondescript ooze, it won’t seem so out of place if some of it attacks) and the players’ inability to suspend disbelief (Orcs are just ugly, evil people, and their homes are just like people’s homes. If people don’t have gelatinous cubes in their living rooms, then neither would orcs).

  129. Aragorn says:

    first u do diablo, now warcraft? lol the hippogryphs part i believe its in warcraft 3

  130. Burny says:

    If no-one mentioned it(like i’m gonna read 132 commets) there is a French comic book series,in graffic novel format,about an unbeatable dungeon,and the life of its inhabitans!they have anything from orcs to dragons(the even have Chthonians from Chtulhu) the series(yes more than one!)is from the eyes of the monsters! it’s called(appropriatly enough) Dugeon
    ho and it is funny!

  131. ERROR says:

    In Panel 10, it’s not “how about group,” it’s “how about A group.”

    Additionally, in Panel 13, quotation marks should probably be around just “watcher,” not “a watcher.” Just a suggestion.

  132. Tam Timmorlane says:

    Instead of an Odd Couple style sitcom……how about a reality show, where the last monster left alive wins 400K platinum pieces, with lots of ‘humourous’ side comments?

    Troll: I swear, I am SOO going to vote out the cube next time we’re in council….I just hope I can convince the wererat I don’t have the regeneration ring. I mean, what would I need with it anyway??? I’m just keeping it out of anyone else’s hands, that’s all. Nothing wrong with that, right? Besides, you never know when the next adventurer’s going to have a Trollbane sword…

    (Cut scene of the Gelatinous Cube and the Creeping Ooze arguing over whose turn it is to clean up the 60 foot corridor)

  133. serenitybane says:

    I almost dropped my coffee laughing at this one :))

  134. Robin says:

    I generally have a clear idea of what monsters are doing where. But I also have a single old wizard who built a dimension door trap thirteen levels below an old castle. The dimension door roams the world, but the exit is always in the same dungeon room.

    So if you’re ever walking through the woods and see a dimension door in front of you, just walk through it. You are now on the thirteenth level of the only dungeon in the world filled with a complete mishmash of mutually incompatible monsters, all recently dimension-doored, all upset and trying to get back out.

  135. berek says:

    Back when i used to play, many years ago,my DM dealt with this issue by figuring out the ecosystem of his whole world. Literally, the whole world. He had reams of paper and innumerable three ring binders detailing where every creature fit in the food chain. So, when you went in a dungeon there would be moss for the rats to eat, rats for the whatever to eat, etc., ad nauseum. He also had every square hex of his world, even the parts that there were zero chance the characters would ever make it to, mapped and the ecosystems figured out.

  136. SilverShoelaces says:

    Dude, you should totally make a webcomic about a bunch of monsters living together in a dungeon, because that would be totally awesome.

  137. Galad says:


    I found this site from the escapist a few days before New Year’s eve, and I must say, the comic has been one of the best comic reliefs I’ve ever seen, I end up LOLing for real at nearly every strip :D Thank you for providing me with some decent entertainment over the dreadfully dull holidays with parents!

    Now..@Reverend Jim, post 26 – this would make for an excellent NWN/NWN2 module idea, I wonder if anyone would do it :)

  138. Arancaytar says:

    Orcs on Wargs.

    Paging Dr. Seuss :D

  139. Nami says:

    Ahh Legolas, you’re like a kid in a candy store, I want to say something about how that simile was wrong BUT IT WAS PERFECT, so I’m at a loss, instead:

  140. Gregg says:

    I’m pretty sure that the sit-com would have as bad an ending as “Dinosaurs.” By which I mean, adventurers fall, everyone dies.

  141. Gideon says:

    Sir, if you help write it, I’ll work to turn it into a web series! ;-)

  142. me says:

    to be fair wasn’t moria supposed to be goblins, and helms deep was halforcs the dm must have gotten his notes mixed up until it was too late to change
    so thats some variety…

    what do they expect armies to be composed of in a more or less racially split conflict where the forces of evil were the creators of the orcs halforcs and goblins(and some blackmen mercenaries(black meaning bad not color)) vs the good guys mostly made up of humans and elves(dwarves too but no army)?

  143. Earthsprite says:

    So, I’m literally 9 years late, but have you heard of Steve Lichman?

  144. Charles R says:

    Over a decade later, and this is still funny. ^_^

    I’m just commenting to mention a friend’s “sitcom-styled story about a bunch of freakish monsters who inhabit a trap-and-treasure laden dungeon, learning to love and laugh… together.”

    It’s called “Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic”:

    (Story starts here: )

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