DM of the Rings CXXII:
Xtreme Moves

By Shamus Posted Monday Jul 9, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 193 comments


The players fight a Mumak.
Legolas tries to spice things up.

The players go back to stabbing the Mumak in the feet.

(I don’t have the sourcebooks handy, so I’m sure someone will jump in and explain how Animal Empathy doesn’t work that way.)

This really does seem to be how you’re supposed to fight huge epic foes: Stand underneath them and jab their toes until they die. Sure, you could use a bunch of feats to climb up onto the thing, Shadow of the Colossus style, but there wouldn’t be any advantage to do so. It would be hard, you’d have to roll the dice a dozen times, and in the end you’d just be doing the exact same damage, only higher off the ground.

 


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193 thoughts on “DM of the Rings CXXII:
Xtreme Moves

    1. Btcchftdt says:

      Jarjar you’re a genius

      1. IndigoRei says:

        And we have a Darths and Droids reader. Woot!

  1. George says:

    hahaha great comic man,

  2. tor says:

    on the other hand i found the way legolas defeats the Mumak in the movie even more stupid…

  3. Keldin says:

    Slamming poor Jar Jar? Poor form ;)

    Anyhow, you’re right on target with this one as well — although I found the entire segment in the films as cheesy as all get out, at least it was more believeable than the idea of anyone actually trying to kill a creature that large with melee weapons at close range — “stabbing it’s toes” just doesn’t seem to be too realistic. Oh, and this is the earliest I’ve ever been. I’ll sleep well tonight!

    1. ZAP says:

      Well, yeah, except when Eowyn took one down by slicing into all four of its legs. I’m not certain it was DEAD after that, but it was certainly incapacitated.

      1. Talon says:

        That would be Eomer, Eowyn is the Girl…

        Besides that, when one of my Players comes up with something awesome like climbing on a giant monster to finish it off I usually tweak the rules so it can work. Just for the sheer awesomeness. Makes good times better.

        1. ToeMoss says:

          Incorrect, it was totally Eowyn. Eomer threw the spear that took three of them out. BOOM

          1. Niphredil says:

            This is true. Eowyn disabled the oliphaunt while Merry held the reins.

            1. Derpy says:

              Totally true.

              What Eowyn did was slice thru the tendons on the backs of the Oliphaunt’s legs.

              Real life elephants can be brought down in much the same way. It basically renders them unable to support their weight and they just collapse.

  4. Marmot says:

    I didn’t have any objections to the movie interpretation; but to see it as a player imagination is quite original – I though that he really would do that!

    And oh, nothing prevents you from doing animal empathy in combat, but it takes 1 minute (which renders the skill useless in almost every situation), or 1 round with a -10 or 20 penalty :) Black sheep of the ranger class!

  5. Steve the Pirate says:

    LMAO. Never posted before, love it. This is the kind of thing I always WANT to do when I play.

    My favorite thing to hear from my GM is “G** D***it Jim…you are not making this easy on me…ok, he tells you everything he knows.” (psion ftw)

  6. scldragonfish says:

    >>>Keldin Says:

    July 9th, 2007 at 11:05 am
    Slamming poor Jar Jar? Poor form

  7. scldragonfish says:

    Keldin Says:

    July 9th, 2007 at 11:05 am
    Slamming poor Jar Jar? Poor form

    Poor Jar Jar!!? That is the most hated SW character in history and the ‘toy boy’ Lucas and to write his way out of it. Slam him again!

    Great Comic Shamus.

  8. gahaz says:

    That was glorious! By the way, When it comes to the spirit of the game, when you are fighting in D&D it is not SUPPOSED to be literally standing still smackin each other with swords and what not. If you have a imaginitive DM, when you hit there is a lil flair to be added. When there is a succesful hit you would get “And Gimli ducks the mumakil’s last attack, and as he swings his head close you take advantage and strike below the left ear, enraging the beast”. At least thats what i do for my players. It always an unstated rule that the combat is happening in an exciting way, but off the books. Its the only way i can explain why a wyvern could attack with EVERY apendage at the same time, like “The flying beast comes at for a nasty bite (roll dice) that glances of your right shoulder. As the head of the beast moves by the wings slash at your body (roll dice) that cut you mildly for 9 damage. And as the beast turns to face you once more the tail cracks (roll dice) like a whip in mid-air, you can feel the wind from the missed strike.

    Lord i just wrote alot…..

  9. Nogard_Codesmith says:

    of course in most games, foes like this cause the PCs to break out the high explosives.

  10. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    I love the last frames DM comment
    It really portrays how boring combat can be sometimes.
    oh well keep up the good work YO!

  11. > Sure, you could use a bunch of feats to
    > climb up onto the thing, Shadow of the
    > Colossus style, but there wouldn't be any
    > advantage to do so.

    … and that is the aspect of D&D that annoys me the most. Thank-you for expressing it so nicely!

  12. Tom says:

    Actually, hitting a big monster in the leg isn’t a terrible move, thanks to the presence of possibly vulnerable hamstrings. Also, our ancestors used to bring down woolly mammoths with nothing but spears and good tactics, from what I understand.

    I will say, though, that D&D combat isn’t very good for this sort of thing. How could it be? It treats fighting ordinary-sized man-like things exactly the same as fighting huge beast-like things. That’s the price of abstraction in the context of refusing to give up legacy mechanics like hit points and armor class — either you have one system that’s decent for most cases if you squint, or you have to build in a bunch of exceptions all over the place and the system becomes untenable except for rules-obsessed fanatics.

  13. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Well,it wouldnt be that hard for an experienced player to climb such a thing(a few climb rolls with some penalty during the course of few rounds),but like shamus says,youd gain nothing.Ive always found it idiotic how not one,but three arrows manage to pierce a skull of an animal tougher than an elephant,which can resist a point blank shot from a gun.

  14. Vinchenze says:

    I was wondering when he was going to do that!!!

  15. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    come to think of it I am always pulling this crap with my DM. I am a monk and I never just want to punch stuff. Especially the big stuff. I am always making jump checks and trying to kick stuff in the head, neck, breast, and chest area. I just like making things fantastic. Gahaz I try to do the same thing. I try to explain why an enemy attack missed or why a PC attack was so crushing and or weak. It makes a battle make more sense.
    OH listen to me BLAH BLAH BLAH

  16. Poet says:

    We pull things like this in our adventures fairly often. After describing something more incredulous and looking up the appropriate skills, then rolling, our GM gets to be very quiet for a moment, then says the most dreaded of sentences: “Alright. Here’s what happens…”

  17. Vinchenze says:

    Oh before i forget, how many FIRST POST puns are there???

  18. Roxysteve says:

    I don’t recall the bit in the book where Logoless climbs up the Oliphaunt (It wasn’t called Mûmak anywhere in the Lord of the Rings books: I double-dog dare anyone to prove different), nor do I recall Tolkien gifting him (or her: oblig) with an insatiable need to pursue every opportunity to “surf” down things. Is it possible these were added to the narrative in some unobtrusive way by Peter Jackson?

    BTW: I shall never forgive you Shamus for not featuring P.J. doing his “Joe Cocker Death Scene” aboard the ship. Boo, hiss and a sort of rasping sound made by blowing air under the tongue while it flaps against the lower lip for not pandering to my expectations. It was probably the one scene in the movie in which the dwarf acted exactly like the DMotR character too.

    Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

  19. JagDell says:

    There’s a d20 source book (a Player’s Handbook Replacement actually) called Iron Heroes that places a stronger emphasis on non-magical combat. And climbing a huge Elephant-thing with a ladder of arrows and then killing stuff on it is exactly what that supplement is all about.

    Look it up. It’s great fun, Conan style!

  20. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Vinchenze Says:

    “Oh before i forget, how many FIRST POST puns are there???”

    Acording to google,over 14000000.Of course,you could narrow that search a lot,but still would get at least a few thousands.

  21. Sartorius says:

    Also, our ancestors used to bring down woolly mammoths with nothing but spears and good tactics

    An atlatl helps.

  22. Dan says:

    That’s what I always loved about the critical system of Iron Crown’s Rolemaster. Sure, combat took 3 and a half hours, but a hobbit could roll a natural 00 then hit one of the fancy scores even on the A crit chart – 66 or 97-00, and bring the mother down in a nearly plausible, and certainly descriptive, way.

    Loved those crit charts. Even if you had to have a degree in actuarial science to use them correctly.

    Sixteenth post!

  23. Dan says:

    or 23rd. Sheesh.

  24. Sartorius says:

    It wasn't called Mûmak anywhere in the Lord of the Rings books: I double-dog dare anyone to prove different

    One of Faramir’s rangers refers to it by that name in The Two Towers, Book IV, Chapter 4.

  25. Dernwine says:

    Even when a DM doesn’t describe combat as well as gahaz just did, I keep a replay of the battle in my own mind. It helps combat from getting boring if you can keep your imagination going. So the DM might say “He missed you, cause he rolled a 4. And you scored a critical, killing him.” I let myself replay that moment, when the enemy’s blow glances off my shield and I ram my short spear into his gullet. It helps make the game experience a bit more independent from the quality of the DM (that said, a bad DM, is still and will always be a bad DM)

  26. Cat Skyfire says:

    As a DM, I’ve had players want to do such nifty things. I let them….let them start rolling, that is. It’s really fun to watch someone reach for the chandelier in midair…and miss.

  27. Web Goddess says:

    Unfortunately, d20 D&D is made for it’s simplicity. It’s an advantage in some cases, and a total bummer in others, as pointed out in this particular strip.

    I recommend Iron Heroes for rules on doing stunts like Legolas. It’s perfect for stuff like this.

  28. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Web Goddess Says:

    “Unfortunately, d20 D&D is made for it's simplicity. It's an advantage in some cases, and a total bummer in others, as pointed out in this particular strip.”

    Hardly.Shadowrun is far more simpler,yet far better in describing combat situations.

  29. Roxysteve says:

    Vinchenze Says:
    Oh before i forget, how many FIRST POST puns are there???

    Depends on how far away from “First Post” you allow the sound to drift. “Frist” was clever because not only was it a pun, it was an anagram. Extra points for that.

    We still have to see the pic of a sausage (Wà¼rst post), Kirsten Durst (obvious) and a picture of Orson Wells from Citizen Kane (figure it out). There is one I have in mind for Worst Boast but Shamus would undoubtedly object to my suggesting it, so I won’t.

    I will suggest we don’t do the picture of John Hurt lying on the table in the Nostromo after the Alien has hatched with the caption “Burst Host“. That would be tasteless.

    Steve.

  30. Senalishia says:

    >Ive always found it idiotic how not one,but three arrows
    >manage to pierce a skull of an animal tougher than an
    >elephant,which can resist a point blank shot from a gun.

    It’s because he’s an elf. He used one of his…mysterious elf skills. :/

    Every time I watch TV, I’ll see a character do some cool action move and go, “That’s really neat! I should do more cool stuff in combat when I roleplay instead of just beating on stuff.” Then when I’m actually playing, I realize there’s no real point–there’s rarely a more efficient way to dispatch the enemy. (Except for that one time we tossed those vampires off the top of Castle Ravenloft…)

    Of course, I am playing a Scout in our D&D game now, which at least involves a lot of running around. :)

  31. okay! says:

    Considering this one alongside the Tony Hawk comic earlier, you have to love Legolas’ yahoo-ism.

    I also appreciate your choice of JarJar for worst post. One of the few choices that wouldn’t be debated to the end of the earth in the comments

    Great comic again. I rue the day this plays itself out.

  32. Roxysteve says:

    [Lots of rolls causes unheroic failure in mid-action]

    What is wrong with this? I love the scenes in movies where the director suddenly injects a moment of common sense in an otherwise cliched bit of action.

    One of my all-time faves was during an episode of The High Chaperal when a bar fight breaks out. Everyone ends up on the obligatory balcony that runs around the second storey of any wild west saloon, only to have to collapse under the weight and dump everyone to the floor.

    Jackson did the same thing when Gimli (who else would he pick on?) killed a warg which promptly fell on him and pinned him.

    If an elf wants to “do a Legolas” and shimmy up a moving Oliphaunt, I say let them have a go. It’s not like falling off and being trodden on would seriously harm the average cheesed-to-the-max D&D character anyway.

    Steve.

  33. Dernwine says:

    yeah, when I first saw Legolas do that Mumak thing, I thought the arrows deflected off the skull. But did you guys notice that Eowyn pulls a D&D? When she scratches the Mumaks legs with those 2 swords, and causes the Mumak to collapse (guess it only had 1 hp left huh?). The sole reason I tolerate the Legolas Mumak thing, is because of John Rhys-Davis unforgettable one Liner (THAT STILL ONLY COUNTS AS ONE). That reminds me of this one game where we actually kept count of our kills and had a contest to see who could kill the most monsters…

  34. Sartorius says:

    When she scratches the Mumaks legs with those 2 swords, and causes the Mumak to collapse (guess it only had 1 hp left huh?)

    She hamstrung it. That’s why it suddenly sinks (its legs can no longer support it) instead of keeling over sideways.

  35. Randolpho says:

    >>It wasn't called Mûmak anywhere in the Lord of the Rings
    >>books: I double-dog dare anyone to prove different

    >One of Faramir's rangers refers to it by that name in The
    >Two Towers, Book IV, Chapter 4.

    They are also mentioned in Return of the King, Book V, Chapter 6 as mûmakil (plural).

  36. Roxysteve says:

    Sartorius Says:
    One of Faramir's rangers refers to it by that name in The Two Towers, Book IV, Chapter 4.

    One of Faramir’s men??? Everyone knows you can’t trust anything coming out of the Faramir Fan Club for Gondor’s sake, especially that bloody liar Damrod (who was last heard of trying to hawk snake-oil homeopathic “anti-nazgûl” pills over the pony express).

    Get me a reliable witness.

    Steve.

  37. Roxysteve says:

    Dernwine Says:
    [snipsnipsnippetysnip] and causes the Mumak to collapse (guess it only had 1 hp left huh?).

    Nope. I have it on good authority they were playing under grandfathered rules and she twenty-twentied the thing.

    Steve.

  38. Jeremiah says:

    One of the cool things about Exalted, is as over the top everything is already, there are “stunting rules”. Basically, if you want to do something really awesome/heroic/whatever, and you come up with a great way of describing it and everyone likes it, you get bonuses. Depending on how awesome the stunt is, you get extra dice, or can even regain essence (magic) or Willpower.

    Yea, in d&d you can do some really cool descriptions, but there’s no mechanic for doing so or getting rewarded for doing so. When a mechanic does exist, players are much more likely to get those creative juices flowing.

  39. Dernwine says:

    But to hamstring you actually still have to cut quite deep with a creature that size…she merely scratched it. Ahh but the 20/20 would make sense…:P.

  40. Mrs T says:

    That still only counts as one!

    (Yes, I know it’s already been said)

  41. Yeah, I think that the fact that Legolas’ movie move doesn’t translate into D&D speaks well of D&D’s combat system. Arrows wouldn’t puncture one of our elephants’ skulls unless they were fired from a grenade-launcher-bow, and the Oliphants are bigger and tougher than our elephants.

    And, sure, standing next to an elephant is stupid. That’s why, in the books, *everyone ran away from the Oliphants.* The Trample rules are nice and realistic here, too– even a high-level party shouldn’t get into melee with an elephant, or they’ll get smooshed.

  42. Eric J says:

    I seem to remember the original Star Wars RPG (West End?) advised GMs to give players bonuses for particularly cinematic moves. And it was pretty much the essence of a game like TOON.

    I wouldn’t try it in Paranoia, however. To a Paranoia GM spectacular failures are just as rewarding as spectacular moves.

  43. Arbaal says:

    Holy crap thats a lot of posts in such a short span of time!

    Great work as always Shamus!

    Roxysteve, thank you for pointing out (and beating me to the punch) that in the books they are called Oliphants in a few places. I think the people riding them were called the Mûmakil. Of course I have not read the books in something like 25 years, so I could be wrong and maybe it is the name the people who ride them call them.

  44. Seth says:

    OK, A few things…

    I play in Eberron. Eberron is a bit heavy on swashbuckler style combat, so if you want to do something that you would normally be able to do(cross the room charging with your rapier, making a tumble check to get over a rough terrain, grabbing the Artifact of Plot Significance on the way) and you think of a properly awesome manner of doing it(swinging on the chandelier across the room to jump into the enemy with rapier drawn, picking up said artifact with the grappling hook attached to the rope in your teeth while humming the Ride of the Valkyries), then you do that. Don’t change the DCs, don’t change the effects. Maybe change the skill involved (from tumble to use rope – or whatever), but no more. same effect, same difficulty, X1000 more awesome, and now, valkyries, too.

    Also Eberron mandates action points for every PC(first found in Unearthed Arcana, and I think the Eberron sourcebook expands on them a little). You get a certain number of action points per level (5 plus half character level). When you use an action point, you may add 1D6(at low levels) to the -NATURAL- value of -ANY- D20 roll (you can also do other things: re-use a spent spell, stabilize yourself when below 0 HP, and I allow my PCs to use a feat they do not have for one turn). The effect is that, basically, you just did something so awesome that normal people just look at you in utter awe(or complete terror), because you are such an awesome hero. In -MY- Eberron, to use an action point, you must also describe the awesome feat that you are doing. Because of the action point system, my DnD is full of awesome things like what Legolas is thinking there. Basically they give people a pretty good excuse to do absolutely ridiculous things.

    Now then, he would not just suddenly be on top of that mumak, but he would get the opportunity. And he would get a D6 or three(depending on level) to help him up there

    And Action points also seem to make sure people know that THIS NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENS, to further impress that your character is awesome, and one should never try anything that complicated/dangerous without stuntman training.

    Vinchenze, there will always be one more pun on any given subject. Always. I have a joke NPC who shows up occasionally (and usually suddenly) named Baron Von Bad Pun, just because of this.

    And finally, could people seriously stop doing this ‘first post’ thing? Its annoying (even more with jar-jar) and pointless. If you have something to say, say it. Maybe put ‘first post’ at the bottom of your post, but if you have nothing to say, you don’t need to tell us about it. I’m sure Shamus feels loved enough by over a hundred comments on every strip, you don’t need to stalk his page every night(or whenever he posts it) to let him know that he is appreciated.

    relax a little.

  45. Seth says:

    Oh, yeah, before I forget. In the movie, I think Legolas used about seven action points to do that. Probably more than half of the ones he gets at that level. So it is not cheap, either to do stuff like that.

  46. David DeLaney says:

    I’m actually waiting for the “Bast Post” picture.

  47. AndiN says:

    Personally, I didn’t have any problem with how Legolas dealt with the oliphant in the movie. Suspension of disbelief is a great thing when you’re enjoying a fantasy movie.

    But even if, in a D&D game, he couldn’t do any more damage to the beast by shooting it in the head than he could by shooting it in the foot, there is still a benefit to doing what he described — he takes out the guys driving the oliphant, eliminating them as attackers and leaving the beast to make its own decision about whether it wants to hang around while a bunch of little guys hack at its toes.

    And shame on the DM for discouraging the kid playing Legolas from trying it. A player comes up with an interesting, clever way to deal with the situation and he shoots him down from the get-go? If the DM does that, what point is there for players to try to find ways to use skills together in new ways — what point is there in doing anything more than rolling the dice?

    Remember, as fun as it is to watch a player reach for the chandelier and miss, it’s even more fun to see the looks on the faces of those who thought he couldn’t do it when he rolls a crit and does it with a flourish.

  48. Arazmuth says:

    see, I solve that an entirely different way.

    As the PC’s advance through their career, I award them “Destiny Points” and “Fate Points” for various doses of Good RP or heroic acts.

    They can store these up, and burn them off at any time. Burning off a Destiny point lets you choose the result on the roll you want. You could get a natural 20 on a d20, or 18 on 3d6, 00 on a d100. Fate points are far weaker but still useful, you can burn one up to reroll a set of dice (so reroll the d20, reroll the 3d6 or reroll the d100). And any number can be burned up this way (rerolling the same die 10 times if you had the points).

    In this way the players can pull off such epic stunts every now and then without it becoming “the norm” in how to deal with such situations.

  49. Dev Null says:

    So many comments, so little lines…

    WTG Shamus for showcasing how so many heroic fantasy games manage to take the heroic out of fantasy. I figure if your players want to try something crazedly bold like that which doesn’t really fit in the rules you should not only let them roll the dice but reward them for it (unless you’re trying for an ultra-realistic campaign and it ruins your story I guess.) Sure make them roll, but dont make them roll an infinite number of times til they’re sure to fail… and drop the things AC or give them a bit of bonus damage for every successful roll – then make them roll to survive the landing… We used to do the same kind of thing with out-of-combat magic, where we’d make up a little symbolic ritual to get a bonus chance at a specific or better effect, and it helped make a story out of a collection of die-rolls.

    Rolemaster! Wow, theres a name I havent heard in awhile; their fumbles were as good or better than their crits: “You trip over an unseen imaginary deceased turtle. You are very confused.” Shame it took days and a degree in accounting to play out a combat.

    Shadowrun: Maybe simpler for the players Daemian, but absolute hell on GMs. There is no reasonable way for the GM to make something “one harder” or “one easier” in their wacky system – changing the target number or the number of successes even by one could mean changing your chance of success by as much as halving or doubling it (and not just for incredibly unlikely things either.) At the request of a frustrated GM I once wrote a quick computer program to calculate the odds of every combination up to about 15 dice and put them in order of likelihood for him; he took one look at the result and switched us to a percentile system straight away. (Great world though, just a broken system…)

  50. Arazmuth says:

    Wow, so many posts in between me loading the page and posting, I guess Eberon has a system like this in place, I still play 2nd ed though so poo on it.

  51. Aes says:

    That’s why I adlib rules all the time. If a player successfully makes 2 jump checks, a climb check and a balance check all for the purpose of hurting a monster in an effective way, then damn. He’s totally getting a bonus. Mind you, only a bonus if you actually had to work (roll skill checks) for it.

  52. Cel says:

    Mûmakil is plural of mûmak, which was what the humans called the creature. Oliphaunt was its name in Hobbit folklore.

  53. gahaz says:

    As a DM i always reward exciting thinking. In this instance i do believe it would be….Getting past the attack of oppurtunity (Im calling the mumak a hero monster and if i were him i would get standstill as a feat), then a proper jump then a reflex check to get to the arrows and grab on, a good climb check (big negatives for climbing up a swaying moving thing), then combat on top i would give -2 for the swaying creature since he is still usin the bow, follow that up with an attack on the bindings to topple the tower off, then a quick balance check to keep from falling off, at this point, as a DM, if they have successfully gotten to this point they are in the middle of what i refer to as a “hero” moment, and would give extreme bonuses to the brain attack (after i pull my jaw off the floor), and the slide at the end would consist of a %role for luck (the higher the number, the less difficult this is gonna be), then a balance check for the slide off. At the end of all that when the battle was over, i would also reward extra xp for the extravagant kill.

  54. Mike says:

    Seth, perhaps you haven’t noticed, but Shamus has been posting the first post – presumably to take the temptation away. I like it – it’s like a little extra comic after the actual comic.

    Hmmmm. Action points. I should see how that goes over with my current group. They’re just transitioning from 1st ed to 3rd, so could be fun.

  55. Evilllama says:

    Really? I thought mûmakil and mûmak could both be singular… and I thought “mûmakil” was elvish.

    I absolutely love the last Legolas frame. That’s brilliant.

  56. Terran says:

    This isn’t about the comic itself, but…

    (This bothers me every time I see it in a flick)

    The thing about shooting multiple arrows from one bow is that it doesn’t work, at least not well. The bow transfers *its* energy from the limbs into the arrow. Thus, two arrows = 1/2 the energy for each. Three arrows = 1/3 each and so on…

    Besides, it’s really bad for the bow.

    Considering that most species skulls are very thick, and how tough a real elephant is, not to mention Tolkiens Mumakil (at least when a non-hero attacks one)I’m suprised Legolas’ arrows even penetrated the skin.

  57. ShadoStahker says:

    (I don't have the sourcebooks handy, so I'm sure someone will jump in and explain how Animal Empathy doesn't work that way.)

    Actually, besides it taking longer than a round, that’s exactly how Animal Empathy works.

    @33 Roxysteve

    Who is Kirsten Durst?

    We have Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane in the Spiderman movies).

    But if he wants a “Durst Post”, he’d need to go with Fred Durst, of Limp Biskit/Biscuit/whatever.

  58. Alan Marks says:

    As a GM in various games (Mainly because no one else wants to do it…), I am somewhat guilty of not encouraging players to do this kind of thing. With that in mind, that idea for giving points to people who come up with creative ideas seems like a good one.

  59. ShadoStahker says:

    57 Terran
    This isn't about the comic itself, but…

    (This bothers me every time I see it in a flick)

    The thing about shooting multiple arrows from one bow is that it doesn't work, at least not well. The bow transfers *its* energy from the limbs into the arrow. Thus, two arrows = 1/2 the energy for each. Three arrows = 1/3 each and so on…

    While true, each arrow will have approximately 1/3 the penetrating power (actually a bit less as three arrows cause more friction while crossing the bow), you must remember that what does damage is a combination of the arrow penetrating deep, and the arrow penetrating at all.

    In movies, the arrows penetrate the same distance a single arrow would. This is, of course, wrong.

    But having three arrows stuck in you shallowly is potentially worse than having one arrow stuck in you deep.

    Additionally, each arrow ups the chance of striking a vein or other vital spot, most of which are pretty near to the skin, and thus don’t depend on penetration as much.

    But yes, it’s definitely not the best thing to do for the bow.

  60. Bigeshu says:

    Hilarious! This is a common problem with end game battles, without stunts and descriptions from the players they usually devolve into “I hit/I miss” style play which drains the drama out of it. Of course that’s why I like Exalted as it rewards descriptions (albeit they do tend to get over the top, but Legolas would get at least double essence and 3 bonus die, perhaps a reduced DV to deal with). [/Exalted Rant]

  61. I’m all for heroism. Arcana action points, Iron Heroes maneuvers, fate points, sheer rewarding audacity– all great. I’m fully in favor of letting the player try the audacious combination of skills– even up to the goofy Legolas-surfing-down-the-stairs-at-Helm’s-Deep. Let him swashbuckle his way to the top of the elephant; no problem.

    But no amount of swashbuckling will convince me that the bow should be an effective weapon against the elephant’s skull! My problem isn’t with him getting up there– if it were just to go kill the elephant-riders, great, more heroic power and XP to him. It’s with the “three arrows kill an elephant” conclusion!

  62. gahaz says:

    In regards to the 3 arrow kill, its is somewhat possible, but unlikely. We do not now the anatomy of these beasts, they possible weaker at the top of the head, seeing as there is no normal way that a creature could attack it from this angle (a stretch, i know.). this could also be a case of “everything coming together at just the right time, possibly legolas upon reaching its head noticed that it had a previous injury there and was exploiting it. Then again, we are talking about an elf wielding an elven bow and that can change things drasticly. Considering legolas’s ability to hit any thing from long distances, possibly there is a fracture in the beasts skull that the arrows slid through. And when it comes to explaining this kinda thing, remember when the elf was walking on top of the snow on the mountain? It was just an elf thing, and thats an explanation thats excepted, why not the elf perfection of archery allowing him to use the elven bow to its absolute maximum efficiency?

  63. theonlymegumegu says:

    “Sure, you could use a bunch of feats to climb up onto the thing, Shadow of the Colossus style, but there wouldn't be any advantage to do so.”

    I have to admit, after I played that game, I thought, “Seriously, this is how fighting colossal creatures in D&D would have to happen.” Sure, it’d be hard, but… it’s a friggin’ colossal creature! What about that is supposed to be easy? XD I was so enthused by this idea, I IM’d my buddy that works at WotC and told him he should suggest they make maps for the minis game that represent the backs of colossal creatures. You gotta think this is why Fighters have Climb as a class skill ^_^

  64. Kerry says:

    What was the name of the big o? I can’t ever remember, but didn’t it begin with an “m?”

  65. Kerry says:

    *oliphant. Sorry.

  66. vonKreedon says:

    Why would the DM try to talk a PC out of using his attributes and skills to try something outrageous? They’re Heroes fo DM’s sake!

    Seriously, a couple of the best gaming moments have been when a PC tells the DM a whole long story about what they did or want to do and the DM hands over the dice and says, “Cool, now show me.”

  67. Stark says:

    OK, a little anatomy class folks… He’s not shooting the skull. That would be idiotic. He’s shooting the base of the spinal column, just as it exits the skull. This is a relatively exposed and highly vulnerable place on all mammals. It’s at the top of your neck just under the skull… you know, that softer notch shaped spot at the back of your head.

    It’s probably still wishful thinking that an arrow from a simple bow would penetrate deeply enough to sever (or even simply damage) an elephants spinal cord – but it’s orders of magnitude more likely than shooting into the skull.

  68. Sewerman says:

    Dernwine Says:

    But to hamstring you actually still have to cut quite deep with a creature that size…she merely scratched it. Ahh but the 20/20 would make sense…:P.

    Actually, if these things are pachyderm-based, the tendons in the back of the leg are very close to the surface of the skin- for one reason, the bones needed to support such a weight require a hefty volume.

    However, I will argue that in the movies, Eowyn slices the inside of each leg rather than the back.. Which might be a pain in the leg, but not quite a hamstring.

  69. DamoJO says:

    Yeah slam JJ again.
    Another reason to do Starwars next, Obi Wan can critical backstab him with a lightsaber straightoff.

  70. Lorgath says:

    In communist Lord of the Rings, Mumak climbs YOU!

  71. Gus says:

    That panel 2 screencap is, I think, my favorite so far. Aragorn looks like he just found a bowl of candy.

  72. Casper says:

    I agree to that. And the scull actually might be thin to make it lighter- with such huge animals their own wheight is major problem.

  73. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Dev Null Says:

    “Shadowrun: Maybe simpler for the players Daemian, but absolute hell on GMs. There is no reasonable way for the GM to make something “one harder” or “one easier” in their wacky system – changing the target number or the number of successes even by one could mean changing your chance of success by as much as halving or doubling it (and not just for incredibly unlikely things either.) At the request of a frustrated GM I once wrote a quick computer program to calculate the odds of every combination up to about 15 dice and put them in order of likelihood for him; he took one look at the result and switched us to a percentile system straight away. (Great world though, just a broken system…)”

    True,but first its way better than D&D,and(more importantly)it is highly modifiable.You can exchange d6s with d10s or percentile dies and still you wont break it.Its an excelent base you can build your custom system on quite easilly.Besides,dies should be used as a help in certain situations,and most of the work should be done by simple naration of both GM and the players.At least,thats how the best sessions I had were,both as a player and a GM.

  74. He's not shooting the skull. That would be idiotic. He's shooting the base of the spinal column, just as it exits the skull.

    I just watched the clip, and you’re right.

  75. Gus says:

    BTW, elephants are predominantly gunshot by two different methods: either through the ear, such as when wildlife managers seek to cull the herd, or through an open gap in the forehead. The cull method is efficient, disturbingly easy (I’ve seen video of a ranger killing five elephants in around fifteen seconds), and not considered an honorable method of hunting (much like shooting ducks on the water.) The other method is favored by sport hunters, in that the channel is small (about four inches tall by six inches wide, between and slightly above the eyes), and that the elephant must be facing you and therefore you are much more likely to be charged. That is when things get exciting.

  76. AngiePen says:

    Talking about the actual strip for a minute [duck] I love Aragorn’s expression in panel 14, the one where he says, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” He might be saying it’s stupid but he looks like he’s actually thinking, “Damn, that rocks!” I think he’s just jealous he didn’t think of it first. :D

    Angie

  77. Yeah, I’d figured it was into the spine as well.
    And I’ve heard that even into modern times, African pygmies would take out elephants by hamstringing them using little bleedin’ hand axes. So you never know.

    In a small plug for my game of choice–it wouldn’t be that hard to represent Leggylass’s piece of stuntery in GURPS. It wouldn’t be easy to *do*, but I can think of a PC or two in my campaign who could probably pull it off. And you would gain an advantage. Admittedly, there isn’t a specific defined hit location for “spine as it enters skull on an elephantoid”, but the general concept of hit locations is pretty well established, and the specific case pretty defensible; I’d make one up for someone who went to that much effort to get where they could reach it.

    Incidentally, I agree that Shadowrun’s mechanics are utterly insane in terms of probability distributions–but I like the game anyway. Somehow, it rarely seems to matter that much in practice, and the character and tactical options are quite rich.

  78. Al Shiney says:

    The arrow to the base of the skull is simply a called shot … well, three of them really, but you get the idea … and called shots should always be a part of RPGs. Also, you gotta assume the elf hero is carrying a pretty bad-ass magical bow and quiver of arrows, no? Start adding up all those pluses and throw in a crit roll or three and voila!

    Like others have mentioned before me, as a DM and player, I never restrict anyone from doing something incredibly insane. After all, there’s ALWAYS a chance, no matter how slim. That’s part of the fun, as is the spectacular failures that usually result when something so difficult is attempted.

    I’m also feeling particularly generous with insane stunts today, because I saw “Live Free or Die Hard” yesterday. Stupid summer movie fun, but you know every RPG player is going to try a variant of the car-kills-a-helicopter stunt in whatever system they’re playing.

  79. LoreMasterofGondor says:

    first time posting, lover the comic.

    i’m a huge middle earth nerd, and so i just had to chime in on the mumak(il)/oliphaunt discussion

    ‘oliphaunt’ is a hobitish word, and since the hobits are the main characters, it gets used the most.

    ‘mumak’ is another word for the war-elephants of the haradrim, possibly the elvish word shortened by men, and is used in this form on page 269 of the two towers
    ” ‘May the Valar turn him aside! Mumak! Mumak!’ ”
    “Fear and wonder, maybe, enlarged him in the hobbit’s eyes, but the Mumak of Harad was indeed a beast of vast bulk, and th like…”

    ‘mumakil’ is just another form of the word mumak, likely plural or possibly true elvish. it is used on page 101 of Return of the King.
    “…and both Duilin of Morthond and his brother were trampled to death when the assailed the mumakil, leading their bowmen close to shoot at the eyes of the monsters.”

  80. Panther says:

    Hello, all, and first post! Well, for me, anyway, although I’ve been reading for quite some time. I’ve often thought of comments, but never actually added them.

    That ShadowRun comment that was made sometime earlier, about it being both simpler and more descriptive. OK, descriptive, I’ll give you, but have you seen how long it can take to resolve a combat in that system? The only thing mroe complex that I’ve worked with is GURPS, but I’ve found it not much more complex, while being more complete, and so heavily cross-referenced that the time it takes to resolve anything that requires looking anything up is fastly shorter than anything else except for d20 (D&D, d20 modern, Starship Troopers, etc) and maybe Palladium/Heroes.

    As for the guys riding the Oliphaunts, I think they’re called something like the Harad’rim or Harad’Drim (I’m at work, no books handy, don’t quote me on the spelling!). I beleive they were the evil Men from the South, corrupted by Sauron, and who rode Oliphaunts.

    About killing the Oliphaunt. If our anscestors could do it with rocks, spears, darts and atlatls, and these were bigger but Legolas had not only a bow, which has more power than the atlatl, but an Elven bow at that, with more ability still, well… I think the best way to sum up that whole issue was illustrated when we came out of the Two Towers movie, all pumped from enjoying a really great, entertaining move, not to mention finally getting to hit the washrooms, and some people were complaining that “An Ent couldn’t throw a troll that far” “A troll wouldn’t roll like that!” “As if the tower would survive that intact!” and other such nonsense, and while most of us made our very high DC will saves, one friend had to point out that, “Dude! You just saw a movie about Wizards, magic, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Orcs, magic swords, flying monsters (Nazgul), and walking, talking trees! If you’re really that upset that they imagined a giant, moving, ticked off tree could toss a troll down a deep Orc-spawning pit, then what were you doing watching this movie?”

    Of course, the need for imagination is just as accute when playing these games we love so much, (any of them), too, I’d think.

    Then yes, out group typically allows for bonuses and penalties based both on how good or bad an idea is, and how well or poorly they describe and roleplay it. A DM I play with while working out of town describes it as the “Unversal, all-permeating law of dramatic imperitave.”

    Rules are important because they help to maintain at least a modicum of realisn. Realism is important; it gives us a structure to flesh out with our imagination. Imagination is critical, because, in essence, that’s where the majority of the game should both be and come from, and also what allows us to have fun. Fun, my friends, is the whole point!!!

    Cheers!

    OK, so I wrote a lot, but like I said, it’s my first post!

  81. brassbaboon says:

    I loved the Legalos action scenes of this sort and think they added greatly to the “elven mystique” (actually since this is Tolkien based, that should probably be “elvish mystique”). For people who might grouse “aw, that’s not realistic…” my response would be “… and what part of this story is?” Personally I thought it was great, I was pumped watching that scene and the “That only counts as one!” Punchline that Gimli delivered was the icing on the cake. I have rarely enjoyed a scene in a movie so much.

    As far as the arrows penetrating the skull, what makes you think he was shooting at the skull? He’s an elf, he has been alive for thousands of years, and he knows the anatomy of virtually any animal by pure instinct. He chose three arrows because he knew that a Mamuk skull intersects with the spine with three channels for the main nerve trunks, and that if the Mamuk is swinging it’s head, then the skull will briefly expose those nerve trunks for a split second when the skull pivots on the vertebrae, and a perfectly placed shot will sever all three, but even if only two are severed, that would be enough to kill the beast.

    It’s simple, really.

    As far as being a DM is concerned, I would TOTALLY give the player a chance to try that whole sequence. I’d roll the dice necessary and if he made it to the top of that Malmuk intact, I would absolutely give him to hit and damage bonuses based on his ability to penetrate the beast’s natural defenses.

    This is exactly the sort of behavior in a well role-played game that should be encouraged to happen, rewarded when successful, and turned into Bardic legend to be played in the local taverns.

    I mean the whole thing is fantasy role-playing right? This rocks!

  82. lucas says:

    Ever tried casting magic missle directly at a necklace of fireballs? I don’t recommend it in an underground cave, but it was rather imaginative, in my humble opinion

  83. Deacon Blues says:

    I wouldn't try it in Paranoia, however. To a Paranoia GM spectacular failures are just as rewarding as spectacular moves.

    Actually, Paranoia has (or at least used to have) the Dramatic Tactical System, in which you would get bonuses for describing your character’s actions in a heroic way. (Because which is more entertaining – a Troubleshooter crouching behind a row of boxes, getting off a shot with his laser whenever a target presents itself, or a Troubleshooter hanging from the landing skid of a cargobot, firing wildly into a crowd of traitorous commie mutants?)

    Addressing two other points:

    It’s “Limp Bizkit”. You’re welcome. :)

    The Big O was a Megadeuce. Not sure how that relates here… :D

  84. xbolt says:

    Oh yes, I can just see the epic enemy’s last words…

    “AAAHHH!!! My toe! I’m dying!”

    Hee hee…

  85. Susano says:

    See, this is why I like Feng Shui. You tell the GM you want to do a stunt like that, and not only won’t he penalize you for it, he’ll probably give you a bonus to your single die roll to pull it off (shooting the Oliphant is a different story….).

  86. Scarlet Knight says:

    ‘Kerry Says: What was the name of the big o? I can't ever remember, but didn't it begin with an “m?”’

    I don’t know about you, but in my house it’s called “Miraculous”…;)

  87. Stephanie says:

    “One of the cool things about Exalted, is as over the top everything is already, there are “stunting rules”. Basically, if you want to do something really awesome/heroic/whatever, and you come up with a great way of describing it and everyone likes it, you get bonuses. Depending on how awesome the stunt is, you get extra dice, or can even regain essence (magic) or Willpower.”
    Yeah, the people I know who play Exalted always come out of their games with big happy grins on their faces about the Really Cool things their characters got to do. “And then the GM gave me three extra dice!”

    You could also try out one of those Indy systems that use conflict narration. You roll the dice to work out the winner of the conflict and _then_ they narrate the outcome of what happened based on how good their success was, and what they think would be neat.

    So:
    Legolas: “I want to attack the elephant.”
    GM: “Yeah, I think it’s safe to say he wants to attack you back.”
    [dice roll]
    Legolas: “Holy cow, that was a huge success! OK, this is how I want it to go…”

  88. Zaghadka says:

    …and then you shoot him with the blue elephant gun.

    (These are jokes…)

  89. CyberGorth says:

    About the only “rules” in D&D that apply to situations like these in my mind are “The DM is always right”, and “The DM can add additional, secret modifiers to rolls as they see fit”. If you’re the DM and you want your guys to pull stunts like this, give’m a bonus when they try it. You really want to encourage it, give the guy who came up with the idea extra XP. I know nothing in the rules says you should do it, but there’s also nothing in the rules that STOPS you from doing it. I will agree though that D&D combat descriptions tend to devolve into the standard, “he misses, you hit for X” format, but that’s usually done just to save time ‘cuase there’s just so much combat that coming up with long, colorful descriptions for every round can really burn a DM’s imagination out. Still, if it’s an important fight, against an endboss type, it probably deserves the special treatment.

    http://s5.bitefight.org/c.php?uid=72542

  90. KiwiGlen says:

    84 lucas Said: Ever tried casting magic missle directly at a necklace of fireballs? I don't recommend it in an underground cave, but it was rather imaginative, in my humble opinion

    Sorry lucas, Magic Missiles can only target creatures, not objects.

  91. HellBane says:

    I’m gonna have to agree with Stephie, Jeremiah, and Bigeshu. Legolas appears to be playing by the Exalted rules, while everyone else is stuck using 3.0 DnD.

    Then again, if the GM had read Lord of the Rings first, he would have just stuck them in the Tomb of Horrors to make himself feel better, especially with this group.

  92. YES YES YES YES YES!
    That scene is one of my 3 least favorite scenes in the whole trilogy, along side when Leggy shield-slides down the stairs and Aowen’s(SP? Never read the book) Says that stupid line to the Witch King.

    Keep the gold coming :D

  93. Miral says:

    Doesn’t regular D&D have rules about Called Shots and damage to critical areas? (eg. shooting someone in the eye causes more damage than shooting them in the leg) That seems like the most likely thing going on here.

    [I’m a little fuzzy on the rules, since I haven’t really played D&D since First Edition. Or was it Zeroth Edition?]

  94. Mike says:

    Heh – It seems that all epic foes in ALL games are like this… MMORPGs are pretty much always this way, etc… except Contra and Mega-Man… Mega-Man actually had specific methods that were ultra-effective on a boss monster, that made a whole lot more sense.

  95. Mike says:

    Oh, and I expected the punchline to be something like “Nah, that will never work…” since the move in the movie was so outrageous… almost Michael Bay-ish… :)

  96. General Ghoul says:

    41 Mrs T Says:
    July 9th, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    That still only counts as one!

    I rank that movie quote 4th behind:

    1.I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.

    2. So, do you feel lucky, punk?

    3. I love the smell of napalm in the morning, smell lick…victory!

  97. Experienced says:

    Here are a few rules for this situation:

    The size of the mumak is probably Gargantuan or larger. The rules say: “Any creature can move through a square occupied by a creature three size categories larger than it is.”

    Legolady could actually move freely within its area (taking Attacks of Opportunity, though). He doesn’t need to grapple the creature to do that.

    Also, the guys riding the mumak are considered occupying each square of its area. They can be attacked from the ground! (Likewise, they guys on the mumak could attack the heroes on the ground, and since they are on a higher position, they get a +1 to attack.)

  98. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Al Shiney Says:

    “The arrow to the base of the skull is simply a called shot … well, three of them really, but you get the idea … and called shots should always be a part of RPGs. Also, you gotta assume the elf hero is carrying a pretty bad-ass magical bow and quiver of arrows, no? Start adding up all those pluses and throw in a crit roll or three and voila!”

    Sure,a magical bow and arrow would do the trick.If it wasnt for the fact that the same arrows,shot from the same bow,by the same elf,using the same force(actually,like pointed out earlier,3 times greater force)DONT go through an unarmored orc,but penentrate the same distance as with the oliphant(or even shorter).Its simply one of those “Hey,this looks cool,screw the physics” stunts.

    Panther Says:

    “That ShadowRun comment that was made sometime earlier, about it being both simpler and more descriptive. OK, descriptive, I'll give you, but have you seen how long it can take to resolve a combat in that system?….”

    Yes,I have seen,from both perspectives(player and GM).Never did we have a battle last more then 10 rounds*(6 players VS 20ish henchmen),each lasting no more than 10 minutes(very detailed descriptions included).And thats with core rules(only slightly modified).On the other hand,the same hour wes used in a 6 vs 6 fight (the same group,but with a different GM),with a MERP system(the previously mentioned rolemaster,but a couple of powers of ten simpler),and the players were just 2nd level.

    While in shadowrun I can make a group and guide them through one major and 3-5 sidequests in a single 12 hour session,I dont remember a single D&D session where we finished half a major,and 1 or 2 sidequests from scratch during the same amount of time,and thats not because the quests were more detailed,but because the rules are more complicated.

    Panther Says:

    “About killing the Oliphaunt. If our anscestors could do it with rocks, spears, darts and atlatls, and these were bigger but Legolas had not only a bow, which has more power than the atlatl, but an Elven bow at that, with more ability still, well… I think the best way to sum up that whole issue was illustrated when we came out of the Two Towers movie, all pumped from enjoying a really great, entertaining move, not to mention finally getting to hit the washrooms, and some people were complaining that “An Ent couldn't throw a troll that far” “A troll wouldn't roll like that!” “As if the tower would survive that intact!” and other such nonsense, and while most of us made our very high DC will saves, one friend had to point out that, “Dude! You just saw a movie about Wizards, magic, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Orcs, magic swords, flying monsters (Nazgul), and walking, talking trees! If you're really that upset that they imagined a giant, moving, ticked off tree could toss a troll down a deep Orc-spawning pit, then what were you doing watching this movie?””

    Fantasy does NOT equal ruleless(I know,thats not a word).The fact that it has mythical creatures and magic does not mean that they all arent subjected to physics.A fireball in your face is always extremelly deadly,wheter caused by an exploding fuel tank or cast by a wizard.

    Also,yes our ancestors did kill elephants and mammomths,but usually by injuring them,then tracking them a long way until they bleed to death,or(as described earlier)aiming at their ears.There were oliphants dying in the background because they were hit with hundreds of arrows,I see nothing wrong with that,because if you get hundreds of papercuts(an equivalent of an arrow for oliphant) you will bleed to death.

    *Actually we did have longer battles,but those were usually either car chase scenes(which are indeed quite complicated),or boss fights where you have to figure out how to remove that indestructable shield,or stuff like that.BUt those were not very long though,because rounds were much shorter.

  99. Darkenna says:

    Side note on archery:

    An English or Welsh longbow can easily put a wood arrow with an iron head through a piece of sheet steel at 100 feet. I don’t think penetrating a skull at point-blank range would be all that more difficult, even a mumak-sized skull. Even if it wasn’t aimed at the spine. Plus, it was a (special) Elven bow, using (special) Elven arrows.

    But it still only counts as one, dammit.

  100. Richard H-G says:

    Re: Deacon Blues (post 85)

    You’re quite right, Paranoia does (or did) encourage dramatic play, encouraging GMs to let players get away with more for being entertaining.

    Sadly, however, this information comes not from the Players Handbook (RED CLEARANCE) but from the Gamemaster’s Manual (ULTRA-VIOLET CLEARANCE), so if you have read post 85 and are playing Paranoia, please report your character for termination immediately.

    Of course I’ve just realised that the same should apply for reading this post too. Oops! Oh well. Never mind. “Your cooperation is appreciated.”

    PS. My 1st post, so let me say: great comic!

  101. Matt says:

    Legolas must have Improved Critical(shortbow), Point Blank Shot, maxed out Climb and Tumble, and apparently the ability to do at least 3 rounds worth of actions at once…

  102. Tola says:

    Be grateful this isn’t The Third Age. Fighting that thing is a deathtrap:

    It’s primary attack destroys your mana pretty much entirely(It’s something like 2200+ MP damage per strike, in addition to the HP damage, which is about 1/2 that. You won’t reach quad-digit Mana till very high levels)
    It may also auto-stun the entire party.

    If it weren’t for the bad AI, you really couldn’t win.(as showcased primarily in Evil Mode.) And God help you if you fight two of them.(They’re encountered as random battles on the Pellenor.)

  103. Nefke says:

    My gnome/roque-assassin once did a successfull death attack on a critter about the size of a barn. (the critter rolled a 1 on his save.. the only way I could´ve succeeded). It gave the DM a rather puzzled look as he was trying to figure out my character could do that.. But then it was Leggy-style all the way! :D

  104. Little Gen says:

    Like, AWWWWWWWWW. =D

    I just exploded when I read Aragorn’s comment.

    And since everything else has been said… waiting for “What Happened Next”.

  105. Phil says:

    “Really? I thought mûmakil and mûmak could both be singular… and I thought “mûmakil” was elvish.” – Evillama

    My suspicion would be it’s a Haradrim word that’s been adopted by the men of Gondor. I can’t offhand remember any Elvish words with that type of accent. The appendices may say but alas they’re not to hand!

    One thing you can be certain of is that JRRT knew exactly which language the word was from – and probably its derivation too!

  106. Alexis says:

    Does it annoy you how in movies sometimes, cars drive along without any apparent input from the passengers? Who are able to disagree to a divorce while still observing all traffic regulations?

    In Six Feet Under, this bugged me for a while. Until last week, they almost ran into a truck, careened off the road and crashed bigstyle. Now that was a 1 if I’ve ever seen one. OTOH, they *played* the faint disconnect into a dramatic situation.

    What do you think of this: let the players stab nonspecific areas for a while, then spontaneously say “well, it’s feet are bleeding pretty bad now and you reckon you may have just caught a hamstring. Its knees give way and it topples towards you. Roll to dodge”

    Alternatively, “you keep hitting, but there’s barely any blood. This thing has tough feet. Maybe you need to find a more vulnerable area…”. I’m sure if the Colossi hadn’t been primarily ROCK, a nice Achilles-bane combo would have made the game much shorter.

  107. JC says:

    LAST POST!

    Wait? what?

    No seriously…great strip today.

    Have to chime in with the ‘reward the creativity’ mindset…

    Running my monk around in a campaign was always more fun for myself, (and usually everyone else) when he was screaming, “Rushing leopard through the field strikes with giant fist of the gorilla and pounds on the eagles wing!”…as he used his monk-like speed to negotiate the room, making multiple tumble checks to avoid AOOs, in order to Ki-strike(quivering palm) the uber mage weaving and chanting a spell from across the room.

    Of course then I would have to deal with the bard screaming at me, “DUDE! the ONE time I get to counter song!…..NOW I gotta write some stupid lyrics about you running like some cat, grunting like an ape, and plucking some birds feathers!” (as he received bonuses form our GM on his songs if they were mindful ballads of past campaigns)

    ahhh, what a group :)

    Peace,
    ~JC

  108. Jewbacca says:

    I think Legolas’ “handling” of the Mumak in the movie is the final piece of evidence to show that the writers had no goddamn clue what they were doing with Legolas:
    “Well, what do we do with Legolas?”
    “Lets make him more badass than the rest of the Fellowship! Unrealistically so!”
    “Yes! In for a penny, in for a pound, right? Who cares if it makes it look like he could take the entire army of Saruman down himself! It’s ACTIONY!”
    “And Gimli can be the comic relief wherein we make light of the fact that he’s short!”
    “Yes! I’ve got all these midget jokes I’ve been meaning to unload…”

  109. Zippy Wonderdog says:

    Its why D&D doesn’t work, sure you have alot of hitpoints but so does the stuff your fighting, its just a war of attrition after war of attrition.
    It all boils down to what happens first, you defeating the beastie or your cleric running out of cure “whatever” spells.

  110. Gerg says:

    ummm… sneak attack damage requires that you can reach a creature’s vital organs, so I guess Legolas has levels in Assassin because he was able to make a death attack once he got up near the creature’s head. So climbing did serve a purpose.

  111. Mazinja says:

    Not being rewarded for doing cool stunts was one of the things that has turned me away from D&D, and there’s nothing I hate more that fighting something or someone that only does a single repetitive if effective action and still manages to win against awesome narrative >:| (in this case, a Werewolf: The Apocalypse game, fighting a dude that does nothing but bite while I’m trying to hit him with a tree and pin him to an electric fence.)

    There is a time for realism in games, and then there’s a time for awesomeness. Legolas’ stunts in the movies were kinda silly but firmly on the side of awesomeness. Awesomeness should be rewarded because it makes the game more fun for everybody involved. If you want something that goes into the silly levels, well… see Ultraviolet.

    The other option is… well, see the comic :p

  112. Scarlet Knight says:

    So, how many levels in Arcane Archer did Legolas , extreme elf, need to take to kill an oliphant with a bow?

    “You know I once shot an oliphant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I’ll never know…”

  113. superfluousk says:

    * Also, you gotta assume the elf hero is carrying a pretty bad-ass magical bow and quiver of arrows, no?*

    Remember that these bows and arrows were gifts from Galadriel. The same chick who made the magical camo cloaks which could look like a tree, a log, or a rock depending on the necessity, thus saving two hobbits from certain discovery by men not five feet away. The same chick who made the magical food which took the hobbits all the way from Sarn Gebir to Mt. Doom. The same chick who made the pretty flashy necklace that had the power to drive back Shelob, spawn of Ungoliant. In short: That bow and arrow set are probably pretty freaking bad-ass.

    1. WJS says:

      By men not five feet away who were actively looking for them, not just standing around or walking past.

  114. Roxysteve says:

    LoreMasterofGondor Says:
    “˜May the Valar turn him aside! Mumak! Mumak!'

    Clearly the word ‘Mûmak’ in this context is an obscenity, probably invoking either an act of procreation or one of defecation, provoked by the sight of a large Oliphaunt charging towards the speaker.

    And who could blame them.

    Steve.

  115. *See, this is why I like Feng Shui. You tell the GM you want to do a stunt like that, and not only won't he penalize you for it, he'll probably give you a bonus to your single die roll to pull it off (shooting the Oliphant is a different story….).*

    I was going through this thread, wondering “When is someone going to get around to mentioning Feng Shui”? Last campaign I ran was a fairly beserk fantasy campaign with a chopped-up set of the Feng Shui rules for a suitable level of Elephant-climbing-and-killing.

    KG

  116. Dernwine says:

    Evilllama:
    Mumak is probably Haradrim as said earlier, but it is defiantly not sindarin. This is because the letter k dosen’t exist in Sindarin (dosen’t occur in any sindarin word, and in the sindarin alphabet there is no letter for it). TBH to deal with a Mumak I’d actually make a called shot against the ears or (just like in the book) against the eyes.

  117. Dernwine says:

    Oh and Ironically, one of the tactics used by the greeks and romans against Elephants was to but calthrops on the ground infront of them (Elephants stepping on them would panic and be in imense pain) *attacking the feet.* Other Strategies included luring them through gaps in the lines to let Skrimishers kill them with Javelins (think you could get a bonus for attacking an Elephant/Mumak with a Javelin?)

  118. Woosh says:

    Aragorns face in panel 2 is priceless, it’s got Legolas written all over it. “I’m going to stab it in the eye!” I was waiting a while to see how you’d handle this part of the movie. Aragorns pause after Legolas’ plan slays me.

    Reading about halfway down the comments, I was finding it harder and harder to keep my mouth shut about GURPS.

    In a cinematic game, climbing up the Mumak, automatically avoiding all of its strikers, and getting a nice shot in the back of its head would give you all kinds of benefits. Anyone with a really decent climbing skill and a pointy object could attempt it. ‘Course the mumak is just as likely to step on you. D:

  119. Woosh says:

    Woah, ok maybe not halfway down. Lots of comments o_O

    Keep up the good work Shamus!

  120. brassbaboon says:

    In The Hobbit, Bard the Bowman slayed a huge ancient red dragon with a single arrow to the chest.

  121. Isoyami says:

    Yes! YES! I’ve been waiting for this one ever since Leggylass did the shield slide down the staircase at Helm’s Deep.

    This strip is made of win and pure awesomeness.

    In the actual movie I watched that sequence and thought: “Wow, awesomeness”.

    And yes, Gimili’s comeback: “That STILL only counts as one!” was just perfect.

    In the strip, when Leggylass slid off the trunk, I’m surprised he didn’t go: “BOOM, headshot!!”

    It would have fit the moment pretty well, I think. hehe.

    And yes, Leggy’s expression prefectly matches his “that’s retarded line.” :D

  122. Rowan says:

    Just a thought, guys.

    Remember that the arrows were given to Legolas by Galadriel. These are implied elven magic arrows, and like Sam’s rope, there is more to them than meets the eye. Legolas doesn’t always use the special arrows; he uses the Lothlorien arrows judiciously, with extreme care. And while I didn’t care for the Legolas on the Oliphant bit, I did believe the using the magic arrows of Lothlorien to kill it bit.

  123. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    Had a player who had picked one of the two dragon-races of my game world (start out humanoid, had to learn dragon form by taking a class that got them there). He sort of became the Jack Sparrow of my game world.

    Situation: Characters are in the great hall of a haunted keep and ghouls and warlock ghouls are trying to break in through the doors and other openings while the characters are trying to break the stone table so they can get to the tree trunk below it that used to be the tree of the dryad haunting the keep.

    Velvet Surestrike (said dragon) decides to climb up to the ceiling over the table and starts cutting at the (un)dead vines around the ceiling blocks. Said vines start attacking him, and grabbing him so he uses one of his few fire-breath uses of the game to irradicate the vines.

    Me: Okay, well, you only feather fall so far, not fly, and there’s a helluva big rock coming down on top of you.

    Velvet: I’m going to tumble around on top of it.

    Me: Okay, roll…watches him make the 25 DC at level 5

    Rockfalls as Velvet flips around on top of it and lands in a surfer pose saying: Never fear, Velvet is here.

    Then vines “bled” a black pudding type thing down on the table…

    Velvet: “You know that undead animated ooze I was talking about earlier? I found it.”

    The Faen (think halflings) made that thing chase him around the edge of the table until the acid finished off the work done by the stone.

    In another game, we are allowed to spend 50 energy points during dramatic points in order to acquire the power of GM fiat for a brief moment: only we have to make it dramatic and cool and it has to fit, or else the DM will screw you over for it.

  124. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    so anyway, at least in my friends…the epic events are not dead

  125. Tola says:

    “Lets make him more badass than the rest of the Fellowship! Unrealistically so!”
    “Yes! In for a penny, in for a pound, right? Who cares if it makes it look like he could take the entire army of Saruman down himself! It's ACTIONY!”

    …He’s an ELF. That means he’s AUTOMATICALLY ‘more badass’ than the rest of the Fellowship by DEFAULT. As much as it’s crazy stuff he’s pulling in the movies, he has the skill: it’s genetic/inborn, and well honed from having to deal with Mirkwood.

    Give him 2500-5000 elves, and they probably COULD take down the Uruks. Lord knows he was wishing for them in the books.

    …One more thing: Up to ‘shooting the thing in the head’ the plan’s sane and viable: killing the controllers means it’s more likely to run away….into the enemy lines. Abnd that’s assuming Aragorn doesn’t succed with Animal Empathy(Which he should have a decent amount of time to do from the TOP OF IT…)

  126. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    brassbaboon Says:

    “In The Hobbit, Bard the Bowman slayed a huge ancient red dragon with a single arrow to the chest.”

    Arrow of slaying+a missing scale(attacking a wounded place).This big guy,however,doesnt have a scratch on his head.

    Rowan Says:

    “Remember that the arrows were given to Legolas by Galadriel. These are implied elven magic arrows, and like Sam's rope, there is more to them than meets the eye. Legolas doesn't always use the special arrows; he uses the Lothlorien arrows judiciously, with extreme care. And while I didn't care for the Legolas on the Oliphant bit, I did believe the using the magic arrows of Lothlorien to kill it bit.”

    I dont see him carrying two quivers,and he didnt know what he was going to fight in this battle,so why prepare special arrows for fighting against orcs?

  127. SteveZilla says:

    In post 50, Dev Null Said:

    “At the request of a frustrated GM I once wrote a quick computer program to calculate the odds of every combination up to about 15 dice and put them in order of likelihood for him; he took one look at the result and switched us to a percentile system straight away.”

    Dev Null, I’d be very interested in that program, if you wouldn’t mind sharing. Is that a UNIX-ish flavor to your name I see?

  128. ItaiG says:

    Actually, if a player succeeded in like 5 grapple checks and climb checks and got all the way to the top of the gigantic creature, I would probably let him do something other then just “deal the same amound of damage, only higher”, like give the creature -2 to attack because he was distracted or something.

  129. Shell says:

    The rules for climbing on things that are 5X your size in DnD Are annoying, I made a specialist character who did it once but then it was mostly all he could do and it was to spite a gm who continuoustly gave us Colossal things to fight…

    When I run games I have a Hero Point System, they basically mean Ignore the rules and tell me what happens… They make this kind of situation possible without bogging people down in dice rolls and rules.. works wonders =D

  130. ash says:

    Roxysteve: the Oliphaunt is indeed also a Mûmak in the books. I refer thee to the 7th and 6th paragraphs from the end of ‘Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit’ in which the following quotations are written:

    “‘Ware! Ware!’ cried Damrod to his companion. ‘May the Valar turn him aside! Mûmak! Mûmak!'”

    “Fear and wonder, maybe, enlarged him in the hobbit’s eyes, but the Mûmak of Harad was indeed a beast of vast bulk, and the like of him does not walk now in Middle-earth…”

    this is followed by a description of the beast, and its actions, and then “Sam drew a deep breath. ‘An Oliphaunt it was!’ he said”.

    So they are indeed the same animal. ‘Oliphaunt’ is the Hobbit name for them, and the Men of Gondor use the name ‘Mûmak’.

  131. brassbaboon says:

    It is conceivable that the term “Mûmak” in the book is actually meant as a proper noun and that this particular Oliphaunt was named “Mûmak.” In fact so famous was this Oliphaunt, that it was known as “The Mûmak”.

    Back to the single arrow and the dragon. The arrow in question was not described as an “arrow of slaying.” I was described as a favored arrow repeatedly recovered which never missed. Not as an arrow which could kill Galactus if fired. The arrow killed the dragon not because it hit a spot with no scales which had been injured, but because it hit a spot of only natural under-belly scales which was not encrusted with gold and gems. It is no less fantastic to believe that a single arrow could “disappear entirely” into the dragon’s chest, fired by a standard bow (Bard the Bowman had no Galadriel-created bow), than that Legalos’s magic bow, magic arrows and elvish knowledge could kill an Oliphaunt with a well-placed set of three arrows. So those who accuse Peter Jackson of absurd hyperbole have to accept that Legalos’s heroics were not more fantastic than that of the mere human, Bard, which was pure Tolkien.

    It’s fantasy folks. It’s not meant to be real.

    Is this any more fantastic than the idea that Luke Skywalker could fire a magnetic cable at the underbelly of the giant walker, zip up to the belly and slice it open with the lightsaber at just the right position to place a grenade and take it down?

    Oh, Luke had the Force on his side… Well, Tolkien makes it clear that Frodo and his friends were not alone in their battles either, and that their efforts were guided and aided by divine forces when needed.

    It just amazes me that people go to watch a movie with walking, talking trees, undead armies, a magic ring that can control the world, a demi-god villain who has no physical form, magic swords that sense the presence of goblins, and a wizard who returns from the dead, and they say “man, that elf-oliphaunt scene was just too far out to believe.”

    Back to the whole point to this post, that being that the movie is being done as a D&D campaign, I have to say that any DM who would not allow and encourage such epic behavior has no business being a DM. That’s why it’s a fantasy game, so that you can BE superheros. That’s the whole point of the endeavor. Be the elf. Be the rogue. Be the wizard. Take the risk, and if you pull it off, the bards will immortalize you. If you fail, then so what? You end up in the dust at the foot of the beast whacking it’s toes anyway.

    As I have said before, if we pretend this is a real game with will players and a real DM, I again side strongly with the player. Let me play my character, if I have the skills and can pull off climbing up the side of a moving giant elephant, then that’s my call, not the DM’s. Set the DC, I’ll roll the dice. We’ll see what happens. That’s what the game is all about.

  132. ArchU says:

    Mixing just a bit of common sense into fantasy games is useful but too much bogs it down in rules. That’s fantastic to include in the comic.

    A player recently surprised me when he wanted his human monk character to attack a giant serpentine creature flying about 30 feet above him. He leaped from the ground, activated an immovable rod at the height of his jump, and acrobatically flipped from the rod and onto the creature’s back.

    A jump check, a tumble check and a balance check later and it was done. Spectacularly so. It seems that monks are like that…

  133. Salen says:

    *snickers* That was awesome. But I don’t think he’d have to grapple it, just take a massive penalty to his Jump and Climb skills. But hey, thats just my thoughts.

  134. sexyskank says:

    You know, when i was fighting the huge elephant in our previous session.. it never occured to me taht was exactly what i was doing..

  135. Roxysteve says:

    Never mind this puny “trunk attack”.

    I want to see what happens when the mûmaking Oliphaunt rages and deals our fearless dimwit of an elf 10d20 + 847 points of trample damage.

    Steve

    1. WJS says:

      That’s a hell of a lot of trample damage. A standard elephant only deals 2d8 + 15. These things were a lot bigger, but that much bigger?

  136. Peter says:

    Spelling thing: “in its side”, not “in it’s side”.

    http://www.elearnenglishlanguage.com/difficulties/its.html

    Love the comic!

  137. Shamus says:

    “its” vs “it’s” fixed.

  138. Isoyami says:

    Sorry, I just couldn’t pass this one up.

    #133 Brassbaboon said: “…Is this any more fantastic than the idea that Luke Skywalker could fire a magnetic cable at the underbelly of the giant walker, zip up to the belly and slice it open with the lightsaber at just the right position to place a grenade and take it down?

    I don’t mean to be pedantic, but as I recall from the novel, it was a mine, not a grenade. (A magnetic mine, I believe).

    As far as I know, mines are somewhat more powerful than grenades.

    But I totally agree with your main point, that it’s a fantasy for crying out loud. People (and the other assorted races) are SUPPOSED to do impossible, fantastic things.

    Defying the laws of physics is what makes it fun. ;)

    And ArchU (#134), that’s a pretty sweet use of an Immovable Rod. Did the monk get bonus points for it? :D

  139. Isoyami says:

    Gah, forgot to close the italics tag in my last post.

    Whoops, sorry.

  140. Dugald the Lexicographer says:

    We have one DM in our group that runs fights very mechanically. Everyone pairs up with a foe, and we all take turns rolling dice. It’s like a line of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots all duking it out until someone falls.

    I try to be more descriptive during combat, even if it’s just to give a location of hits and relative damage, like, “Your sword rips through his shoulder, staggering the burly orc.”

    As for unusual tactics, I encourage that in my players at all times. Anyone who wants to envision a daring maneuver to gain an advantage, even if it seems a little ridiculous, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt. It leads to much more creative roleplaying from the players.

    For example … you’re fighting a gargoyle, but don’t have a magic weapon, so can’t penetrate his hide. Give up and stand by the sidelines until your comrades take him out? Or … whip off your cloak and try to tangle it around his head, giving your party a momentary advantage to exploit!

    If you never reward players for the creative ideas, they’ll dutifully become the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots for you.

  141. ArchU says:

    Isoyami (#140): I don’t recall! (It was only a fortnight ago – my memory is seriously that bad!). I’ll ask him – subtly – because I should have awarded it.

    Thankfully 3rd edition rules have a nicer version of the haste spell so he was able to activate the rod between two moves within the same combat round. I haven’t yet moved “up” to 3.5 edition. If I do I’ll be using only the core rulebooks because the expansions break the game rather efficiently.

  142. Dave says:

    I’m so thrilled… it’s fixed. It’s not its usual quality when its its are off.

  143. Laithoron says:

    65 Kerry Says:
    What was the name of the big o? I can't ever remember, but didn't it begin with an “m?”

    85 Deacon Blues Says:
    The Big O was a Megadeuce. Not sure how that relates here…
    ___________

    Haha, that’s exactly what I was thinking. Ye not guilty!

  144. McSwiggan says:

    Standing on top of a colossal head with no means for the creature to affect him, to me it would not be unreasonable to grant Coup de Grace damage for the attacker.

  145. Obfuscato says:

    Mûmak, paddywhack, shot in the headbone,
    Leggo Lass goes walking home.

    AND IT STILL ONLY COUNTS AS ONE!

  146. M says:

    Didn’t seem all that impossible in the d20 system for Legolas to go elephant-climbing; a few Climb checks with penalties, take out the mobs riding on its back, Sunder the ropes holding the giant saddle on it, then take his time and get a nice Coup de Grace right at the back of the thing’s neck. (Not quite sure how Manyshot works with that, though.)

  147. M says:

    Ah, and sorry to double-post, but: vertebrates have a hole at the back of their head for the spinal cord to enter the skull. THAT’s where Legolas shot the arrows. You can feel yours yourself – that soft bit right under the curve of the back of your head, where your neck starts.

  148. mocking bird says:

    You have got to be kidding me – when did Legolas take his ‘anatomy of the mamaluk’ class?

    Not to mention, are arrows really strong enough to hold an elf’s weight? Quite a few breakage rolls there as well. This scene ranks up there on the ridiculuous scale with his sheild surfing stunt and his shoulder dislocation horse mounting maneuver. Bah – I hate elves.

  149. Logan says:

    That was good “I’ll just stab it like everyone else………Retarded!” Great job Man!

  150. Dragoonmac says:

    One time our DM threw a giant zombified tyrannosaur at us. Instead of just standing and stabbing toes, we had the barbarian make a break check on its leg. Yeah, that thing dropped quick to a raging barbarian with a bludgeoning weapon

  151. MD says:

    Er, not sure if anyone already mentioned it in the insane amount of posts but I can think of one clear advantage in climbing the Oliphant – it can’t step on you. In fact if you can keep your balance up there (which its probably safe to assume legolas can) you’d be pretty dam safe indeed.

  152. Seve says:

    Actually climbing on big monsters is more commonplace than one would expect as all big monsters have some sweet kill spots high up there. All it takes is one good climber and some other chars to distract that monster for few turns as one guy climbs upwards.

    Now that I type this it seems even more ridiculous than what it was when we have played that scenario many times over. Dumb gm’s.

  153. Ceredig says:

    Just wanted to say that my dwarven fighter did this to a huge ogre. Climbed up, whacked its head and stayed on as it crashed forward.

  154. daHammer says:

    Easy solution: when a player does something awesome- (such as VOLUNTEER to pay for pizza) they can earn 1 cool point- useable for something in game that requires a lot of die rolling but doesn’t affect the game- other than making the player look cool. Sure it the same as bribing the DM but it works- especially for the DM.

  155. T.K says:

    My homebrew system is meant for modern, human-scale combat, so it wouldn’t bend to this kind of encounter. GURPS, however, would. In fact, it would even make sense to try this sort of thing if you’re not encumbered, have an excellent Climb skill, Combat Reflexes and an unnaturally high Move. The skull hit location has a Damage Reduction value of at least 2 (for humans), with Mûmakil it’s probably more. However, if you aim at the base, you could bypass it and enjoy the gravy x4 wounding modifier and extra nastiness given to all skull hits that bypass DR.

  156. dyrnwyn says:

    I know someone who wanted to do that. He wanted to climb on top of a behir so it would be eisier to cut off it’s legs.

  157. skeevetheimpossible says:

    Actually Shamus if I was DMing I would award (secretly) the players pluses to hit and bonus damage if they were successful in mounting a large enemy in that way. The dice may say IF they hit but you as the DM decide where and how crucial that blow is. They rolled a 8 for dmg but if you said the attack was taken in the head I would not hesitate in adding at least 15 more points in dmg. Dont forget that as DM you are god

  158. MrRandom says:

    Yeah, when our party was fighting a massive squid thing, the rogues climbed up onto its eyes (which were apparently about as big as the table) and started stabbing them repeatedly. The DM decided that they got Sneak Attack damage, given that eyes are, y’know, vital points. Except that one of them rolled a natural 1 and not only missed the surface he was STANDING ON, but dropped his scimitar.

    Another slightly related issue is how creatures that big get Reflex saves. I mean, really…it dodges 50ft. to the side, or the whatever it is is going to hit some part of its body. Oh well =p

  159. Blackfox says:

    LOL Maybe it’s because he had to roll a 15 on a d20 to get the animal emptahy check XD LOL!!!!!

  160. Krogzar says:

    This comic made me hit a hill giant in his toe on purpose… I scored a critical so the GM told me I managed to miss his toe but incidently I chopped off the hill giants foot, hitting the main blood vessel of his leg and hence bleeding the giant to death.

    Yep a killing blow to his big toe with a critical. The GM felt he had to talk around it because of the improbability of killing something by chopping it’s toe off

  161. ERROR says:

    As a note, “Animal Empathy” is a skill, not a power. So, in Panel 2, please change “power” to “skill.”

    And, yes, I know I’m being nitpicky. I have 20+ levels in Nitpicker.

  162. Andrew Jensen says:

    I am also being nitpicky, but against Peter Jackson… A grown elephant could survive a bullet shot to the back of the head, thats how tough their skin and skull is. A mumak however would have such durrable skin that it could probably survive something like a shotgun shot to the head. Legolas’s arrows woud not kill the mumak, not even hinder it. It’s like shooting a rubber band into the back of a human, it might sting a small amount, but itreally would not effect you.

  163. Clinto says:

    You have been playing in games run by terrible DM’s my friend. When a person takes the risk to get into a position, one from which they can attack more critical/sensitive areas, then only a terrible DM would adhere to the same damage rolls. You poor guy.

  164. Wafflebob says:

    Actually I’ve done very well grappling and climbing large monsters. The trick is doing unusual things once you are up there. You don’t climb up them and then just chunk at them with your axe. Usually I use grapple/pin maneuvers. I once climbed onto a dragon and pinned one of its wings. Crashed the thing headfirst into a wall.

  165. MIDREALMDM70 says:

    The simplest thing –
    For each check required to complete the task add a bonus die to damage, as if the character had scored a hit.

    Assume the arrow normally does 1d8.
    Then if it required a jump check, two climb check, and a grapple check – then the character should do 5d8 (minimum).

    Maybe even an extra bonus die because the character is placing themselves at a lot more risk than just standing back and firing arrows at it.

    A DM should be willing to allow a character to be creative and use other skills in place of attacks on occasion.

    For Example: A character with Knowledge of Architecture might be able to bring down a support cullumn hitting an area with a huge amount of damage (requires Knowledge check and Strength Check)

  166. DenverT says:

    threw a gnome OC as a fight onto a dragon once… he was a theif so he had constant backstabz and also i got 1d6 improvised thrown weapon damage :P

  167. silver Harloe says:

    So, the book doesn’t describe Leggy-lass as doing amazing acrobatics, but the whole of Tolkien’s works basically lay out that elves are really old and really, really badass magical creatures. How do you translate such impressiveness to film, where you can’t simply say “he’s badass” but have to show him doing badass stuff?

    Hey, here’s an idea: do it by showing him doing really badass stuff. Far out crazy stuff that only someone with centuries of practice and magical powers could pull off.

    Imagine if humans retained their “25 year old bodies” for hundreds upon HUNDREDs of years? Think about how practice turns thought into reflex. It would be like the scene where Inigo, blind-drunk, was reflexively deflecting attacks he was barely aware of. Except 100x that. Once you’ve fully integrated some moves, you can build upon them as givens, teaching yourself new moves that no one would think of trying to learn without knowing everything before – like algebra becoming the basis for calculus. Leggy-lass has been at this stuff for so long, even the acrobatic equivalent of differential equations are a distant reflex he’s been building upon for longer than many European nations have existed.

    People are used to the D&D characterization of elves as spending centuries at level 1 unless they bother to go adventuring… reinforced by the Highlander stereotype of “well, he’s been around forever, so he’s a ‘little’ better,” but an immortal that keeps learning, that is nearly as old as all of recorded history should be able to pull of stuff like that practically as reflex. And that’s not even taking into account the magical nature of Tolkien’s elves.

  168. Sauron's toothache says:

    I figure the battle from the perspective of the giant creature.

    “Ack! Damn mosquitoes” *Fwap* Plotch!

  169. Squigley says:

    It was actually this comic strip in particular that got my friends and I to make permanent changes to our D&D rules. Now we incorporate targeted combat in which players (and enemies) can choose a limb to target rather than make a standard torso attack. Targeted attacks take a -2 to attack rolls, but if it hits, there’s a special effect attached. In general, attacking a humanoid creature in the arm will disarm them, in the leg will slow their movement speed, and in the head for extra d10 damage. It’s a great system. So, thanks for making D&D fun again for us!

  170. theSnark says:

    Actually, that’s how my band defeated a four-headed, lazer-shooting hydra.
    My friend decided to jump on the hydra’s back, a’la Kingdom Hearts. I figured he needed at least a sporting chance to not die horribly, so I rolled for assist and distracted the hydra’s attention. He succeeded in his jump, I succeded in distracting the hydra, then he rolled a critical. Dead hydra, and awed silence from the rest of the group. It was epic.
    Moral: Sometimes the DM is so impressed, he’ll let your crazy plan work for the sake of awesome.

  171. Techan says:

    I actually created some house rules for things like that. In the RPG Deadlands there is a called shot system which I modified for DnD. If you try to hit someone in the head or neck it’s a -4 to hit but it does 50% more damage, aiming for the arms? -2 to hit but if the enemy uses its arms to attack, it will take a -1 to hit for every 10% of its hp you take out that way up to a maximum of -5. (i.e. an orc with 10 hp takes 1 damage to the arm he’s at a -1 to hit, a wight with 50 hp takes 5 damage to the arm he’s at -1 to hit, etc.) Hit someone in the legs it’s a -2 to hit and for every 10% of their hp you take out this way it’s a -10% to their movement speed. It sounds like a lot of math, but when you get used to it, it makes battles and strategy a lot more fun sometimes.
    I once had an epic level barbarian wielding barbed chains climb the Tarrasque’s back, use the Two Weapon Rend feat with 4 called shots to its head, critical on one of them, hit with all of them, it was enough to decapitate it. (it had sustained significant damage before hand, but still it was pretty epic).

  172. Thom says:

    Shamus,
    You’re just a tad bit off. Sure the elf could try all those acrobatic feats of agility, but by the time he got up there, killed one or two riders, cut the howdah loose and moved to shoot the mumak in the head, the two fighters below will have done *just* enough damage to take the thing down, thus making all the really heroic stuff a moot point. Nice try, and good effort though Mr. Elf, you get a bonus 25 xp for all that stuff…..

  173. Wilxy-x says:

    Since i skipped most of the posts, i don’t know if it has been mentioned yet:
    Animal empathy takes more than 1 combat rounds, 20 to be exact. thus it won’t work in combat.
    it also provokes AOO (if not, i house rule it in, just to keep players from talking to the enemy for 20 rounds, while they get chopped to pieces)

  174. Grom says:

    First off… Shamus, Great stuff! Late finding this, but have love it all the way through!

    Second…. Man, I feel sorry for most of you, you had to have some pretty bad DM’s and players. D&D… 1st; 2nd; or even 3rd… you can do pretty much anything you can think up. As long as you can explane it so the DM or players understand what your doing. I don’t understand the whole “It’s a fantasy role-playing game!” and then try to make real world rules govern how ya play. Man, no matter what system you play, if ya can think it up and explaine it good enough, then give it a shot. Worst that can happen is a “1”.

  175. TKDB says:

    I’m sure at least one person’s pointed this out already, but I don’t feel like digging through the comments to find it. So I’ll just say it anyway, redundancy be damned.

    I’m pretty sure those would be Climb and Balance checks to get up on the mumak, not grapple checks. Granted, you’d still need to make a lot, and they’d still be at a steep penalty, but…yeah.
    Though I guess it’s pretty well established that neither the DM nor the players in this comic are terribly “good”, per se…so it’s not terribly out of character for the DM to get this wrong.

  176. Nami says:

    I never got past the first movie, so I don’t know how he did it in the movie, but I will say something for Legolas’ plan, at least it was cool.
    However, he has to stab it in the toe like everyone else.
    With his 1D4 dagger…
    Would that even break the skin?

    (Wait, unless this comic WAS how he killed in the movie, in which case, AWESOME! I mean, yea it’s ridiculous, but I feel like Legolas was beyond help when he started shield grinding down stair cases while shooting people)

  177. WJS says:

    I would totally allow a player to try that. Mind you, it’s not going to be easy. Tumble to move into it’s space, a high DC climb check to get up a pitching, moving surface with poor handholds, a balance check to move to the head, and once he’s in position another balance check to keep his footing while he Coup-de-Graces it – standing on top of it like that, it can do nothing to stop him and counts as helpless. Naturally, failing any of the checks to get into position will cause him to fall, taking falling and trample damage.

  178. Bitz says:

    see if my players get creative like this, Ill give em bonuses to dmg n such because them doing stuff like this shows they are engaged in whats happening and thus, invested. plus you get kudos every time they tell the story of their kills for being a good dm

  179. Edu the unaware says:

    I just discovered there is a coment section to this. I guess i{ve miss a lot of spot checks. Well, when fighting epic monsters a good dm would understend that some rules need to be bend. I have my Called shot system that leads to a more epic and realistic battle. Every part of the monter boddy has its own hitpoints and it drains a % from the total hp. Lets say an eye is the 1 % of the body, in a monster like that an arrow would not kill the beast. but the 1% of 1000hp is 10. 2 arrows well shot could blind a mumak. Naturally the monters can do the same thing. So if my players chose to use the epic combat rules they risk dying… like that guy that crit fail an alchemist fire toss and burn his best friend to death in about 2 rounds… cuz he failed putting out the fire. Good times lots of laugh-

  180. Sharnuo says:

    The ol’ toe stab is certainly how you fought Mumaks in the godawful “Third Age” video game. (The one for X-Box, not for Gameboy. The gameboy one was good.) Think Final Fantasy, but makes even less sense, has no interesting choices and is bastardizing a great literary work. Then think of something even less enjoyable and you have “The Third Age”.

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