DM of the Rings CXXVI:
A Force With Which to be Reckoned

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Jul 18, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 83 comments

The characters debate on the merits of shafting the king of the dead..
Aragorn does a little movie-quoting.

Remember Fear the Boot, the guys who interviewed me back in May? As I mentioned the other day, they have been nominated for the Gen Con EN World RPG Awards. I could tell you to get out there and vote for whoever you think is best, but I’d be lying if I claimed I was doing this for altruistic reasons. I just want my friends to win. So if you like the show, please vote for them. If you don’t, then please don’t click on this link, visit the site, and cast a vote for Fear the Boot in the “Best Podcast” category.

Also up for awards (in other categories) are Order of The Stick and Treasure Tables, both of which I enjoy.


From The Archives:

83 thoughts on “DM of the Rings CXXVI:
A Force With Which to be Reckoned

  1. darkenna says:

    First post not made by an NPC!!!


  2. darkenna says:

    I find the DM’s lack of faith disturbing…

  3. Wraithshadow says:

    Raise your hand if you didn’t see this coming.

  4. DocTwisted says:

    “Why should we release this army of Ghosts?”

    “Because they’re holding thermal detonators!”

  5. Browncoat says:

    Ah, the dark side is strong in this one.

    Wow. I laughed harder at this than I have in a while. I’m going to try that “This is an out-of-character conversation–you can’t hear me” line next time my boss wanders up behind us.

  6. NeedsToHeal says:

    Browncoat: I too spit up my Dr. Pepper when I read that line.

    When will I learn? Never ever take a drink while reading this comic!!!

  7. Once again, Pure Awesome!

    Vader Quote FTW Indeed.
    And all the screen caps of their faces are perfect :D

  8. Sewerman says:

    Of course there is the problem of how Shamus can work the Greenies into the rest of the strip, since they don’t appear any more in the movie..

    But I’m sure where theres a Photoshop, theres a way :)

    Besides, I thought it was stupid of them, both in the books and the movie, not to instantly say “Hey, you fought Sauron’s forces HERE! What about those in Mordor??” and sic the dead on Mordor.

  9. Gary says:

    Tenth post! Yaaahhhhh!!!

  10. scldragonfish says:

    2 darkenna Says:

    July 18th, 2007 at 11:01 am
    First post not made by an NPC!!!



    I love it when that all important evil laugh is turned into a useless dud. It was almost as funny to me as the comic.

    Thanks Shamus

  11. Little Gen says:

    *sigh* I tried that “out-of-character-conversation” piece once. Our GM didn’t approve, which was in fact very justifiable…

  12. I wonder if someone been sneaking off for a bit of extra gaming with the hobbits?

  13. Cenobite says:

    So who gets to utter the other immortal line?


  14. TheDrone says:


  15. Alasdair says:

    My fellow players and I use the ‘out-of-character conversation!’ trick to get round tricky situations all the time… but I don’t think our DM likes it very much. On the other hand, he at least makes sure that we announce it’s an OOC conversation beforehand!

  16. Alasdair says:

    By the way, great use of quotes in the second-to-last panel.

  17. Reverend Jim says:

    Aragorn does have the scruffy nerfherder look down, though.

  18. dr. duck says:

    Shamus, I am helplessly enamored of Viggo [“Mr Hubba”] Mortensen as Aragorn, but your screen caps and dialogue make me laugh myself sick every time … you ARE a genius. Where do I send the money?

  19. Marmot says:

    Aahhahahaha, Aragorn might not look very intimidating during the quote but it’s great nonetheless! You keep surprising me in a positive way of course :)

  20. jperk31260 says:

    So can you see the train a comin’ how will the DM rail road them to make the “right ” choice this time tune in next to hear Aragon say “What you can’t do that.” LMAO

  21. Tuccy says:

    Priceless comics… As ever :D The screencaps are awesome and Vader quote just put in the place by the stroke of genius :D Still laughing :D

  22. Phlux says:

    I’m honored: Shamus used my “frost post” entry from monday’s thread.

    Same picture, same line. Coincidence? Theft? Ahh who cares, I jacked it from google images anyway.

  23. Al Shiney says:

    Keeping the greenies on longer?

    I’ve got a very bad feeling about this.

  24. Phlux says:

    On second thought, my response should have read more like the following:

    Dear Shamus Young. I am the original author of the “Frost Post” gimmick, as you can see at my website:
    Please remove the image immediately or give me credit or I will have no choice but to make a copyright infringement claim and have your post removed.

  25. Shamus says:

    Oh yes – thanks to Phlux for the Frost Post idea and image.

    I really DID mean to give Phlux a nod in the comments. Thanks for the reminder.

    Sorry to the Robert Frost fans, but the kid with the pole was too funny to pass up.

  26. oldschoolGM says:

    Ooooooh! This one illustrates a MAJOR pet peeve of mine. I have a house rule in any game I run: Any conversation relating to the game world is considered IC unless you have a VERY good reason to demonstrate why it should be considered OOC. If its something like “does a rapier do d6 or d8” I’ll let it pass, but if tactical or in game story information is exchanged, I count it as IC no matter what the PC say. Of course, my players try all sorts of things to get around that when things slip, like “Ummm, we were both speaking Ignan, yeah, that’s it! See, it’s on both our characters sheets!” But I’m pretty strict about this one.

    Funny comic though Shamus. I can’t wait to see how Aragorn get’s his comeuppance from the King of the Dead.

    1. V2Blast says:

      Exceptions should be made for new players trying to get their head around the game, of course.

  27. Blackbird71 says:

    Very nice.

    While we’re on the subject of quotes, the DM’s line in the last frame was a bit reminiscent of one of Zaphod’s lines in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

  28. VermontGal says:

    “Sorry to the Robert Frost fans, but the kid with the pole was too funny to pass up.”

    Hm…funny, amusing, and clever…OK, Shamus, the rabid Vermont poetry contingency will let you live for now.


  29. Caius says:

    I always wondered how the undead army would do against the gates of Mordor

  30. Blurr says:

    You wouldn’t believe how many times my group has used the ‘this is an out of character discussion’ line. It annoys the hell out of me.

  31. Matt says:

    My players actually do pretty good with that stuff so far. Last night they even took the NPC party member aside so they could all discuss using the halfling caravan for bait to catch the bandits rather than having the conversation right in front of them.

    Oh, and Springfield’s in Oregon, where Matt Groening is from. :)

  32. Al Shiney says:

    Hmmmmmm, Star Wars references in DMoTR. Shamus, does this by any chance give us an inkling of the next direction your screen cap skills may go once the inevitable occurs? Inquiring minds want to know.

  33. Scarlet Knight says:

    Great Vader quote! I didn’t expect that!

    If the players are always being chastised for not roleplaying, doesn’t that mean most of what they say is, by default, “out of character”?

  34. xbolt says:

    Legolas looks weird in the fourth panel…

    Great comic! Vader quote for the win! :D

  35. Ailsa Joy says:

    I’ve now been exiled from downstairs because I’ve been laughing so much at this comic.
    “We’re right here you know”
    Been and voted for Fear the Boot, ’cause, seriously, after reading something like a hundred of your comics, I’m going to do whatever the hell you say.

  36. Phlux says:

    Hopefuly my previous posts were indicative of their intended sarcastic nature. I’ve been recently informed that my sarcastometer is off today.

    I’m more than flattered that you used my image. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought it was funny. Much funnier than Robert Frost. But not funnier than Robert Frost with his tongue stuck to a pole. That would be all kinds of awesome.

  37. James Blair says:

    My IC-OOC rule is something like “What you say isn’t automatically In Character, but something like it is. For instance, if the players are arguing I assume the characters are arguing. If they’re talking about Monty Python or anime, then their characters are talking about something similarly popular in the game.

    If they say something like, “We go a distance away so we aren’t overheard” and then start talking loudly, the other party gets a Listen check. Actually they get one anyway, the DC’s higher if they stay quiet in their conversation, though.

  38. Dez says:

    This is the hardest I have laughed at any so far!!

    “We are right here you know”

    “100xp for roleplaying…wrong friggin character!!”


    I Love it!!


  39. SteveDJ says:

    Now I get the title to this strip, too. At first, I thought it was just referring to the force of ghosts, but this is sooo much better. :)

  40. Cheesemaster says:

    “While we're on the subject of quotes, the DM's line in the last frame was a bit reminiscent of one of Zaphod's lines in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.”

    Yeah I remember that… “Plus ten points for style, baby, but minus several hundred for common sense”, that was a good one.

    “Oh, and Springfield's in Oregon, where Matt Groening is from.”

    There is (apparently) a Springfield in every US state, that’s why it was chosen.

  41. Simon Jester says:

    Gotta love someone who can’t grasp the idea of not betraying your NPC allies.

  42. Kirk Wagner says:

    Excellent as always. I love how the veteran player seems to still be in character, even during an out of character discussion. Phenomenal job!

  43. Rick Russo says:

    Like that last line. Pure brilliance! Here’s an idea, when Aragorn faces Sauron’s messager at the black gates, have his sword changed into a lightsaber trick to off lop his head off, with Sauron speaking in his mind saying, “Good! Good! Your hate as made you powerful……”

  44. Vinchenze says:

    I shouldn’t have opened my mouth about that friggin’ first post a couple pages back.

  45. jpetoh says:

    The Balrog shot first!

  46. Salen says:

    Yay! Star Wars quote! Hehehe. Somehow I’m sure the DM’s gunna make the ghosts go home anyways.

  47. George says:

    Last time i told my DM i was having an out of character conversation after the conversation he said the NPC heard me just because he was sick of out of cahracter conversation

  48. George says:

    The result was almost the death of my character, but i made a nice Bluff check

  49. Otters34 says:

    I’m assuming they will refuse to follow his commands from now on? or will they dissipate?

  50. Dave says:

    The ghosts will just take their dice and go home.. saying, “I hate this campaign” (sorry, Shamus).

  51. inq101 says:

    Any player who can’t ‘interpret’ an oath, contract, prophecy or wish however they wish will not last long.

  52. Chuck says:

    Fantastic series. Thank you.

  53. superfluousk says:

    Ah, I love it when IC and OOC motivations collide… How does the true roleplayer deal with it? ;)

  54. Valley says:

    Wait, wait, if you take all the good Star Wars quotes now what will you use when you parody Star Wars?

  55. capitain says:

    Star Wars will be parodied with Star Trek quotes. And anything else will have t make do with good old Monty Python.

    Yay for the Star Wars Quote!

  56. roxysteve says:

    Can I believe my eyes? There are DMs here who allow out of character discussions involving non “rules question” issues?


    Steve’s Law: There is no such thing as an out-of-character discussion about how to react to events or people. Anything you say in that context can be taken down and used as an excuse by the NPC’s (if they overhear, of course).


  57. fair_n_hite_451 says:

    Actually, the best bit of the comic for me … as a former mostly-the-GM-because-you-own-all-the-books … was the little “sigh” from the DM after the “out of character conversation” comment.

  58. Jack says:

    Hi, A friend of mine suggested this comic and I’ve zoomed through it from beginning to where it is now in the past week. I want to say that I think it’s genius. I love the idea and humour, but what I want to know is when will the players actually learn that the campaign’s based on a real book?! :-) It’s getting close to the end and I would love to see how they’d react when the realize the DM’s plagiarised the storyline. What’s more, if they skipped to the final chapter they’d know how everything was going to end!! Let’s see how the DM would handle that.

  59. Jimmy says:

    The old out of character quip…..

    Where we play it’s easier, since we do all out of character things in Dutch. So a lot of tactical discussions in Dutch and the actual in English.

    Does mean that a lot of quotes from various sources all of a sudden get thrown into the gameworld, since they are in English.

    But that’s the price of being able to do a lot out of character without the DM (GM) bitching about it.

  60. “59 Jack Says:

    I love the idea and humour, but what I want to know is when will the players actually learn that the campaign's based on a real book?! :-) It's getting close to the end and I would love to see how they'd react when the realize the DM's plagiarised the storyline.

    That’s assuming the DM isn’t Tolkien himself ;)

  61. roxysteve says:

    [shamus] I’ve been looking at this one for a bit and I have to say that the expression you picked for Gimli for the response to overly-shooty Legolas conveys perfectly (to me) the weary tone of voice a seasoned role player might use when defusing a situation he has seen too many times before.

    It is touches like this, whether intentional (which I’m assuming) or happy accident, that make this comic so much more than simply a clever screen-grab narrative.

    Yes, the D&Disms we see in real games are amusing to throw into relief in this context, though for the life of me I can’t figure out why they are so funny, since just writing a comic that illustrates the same point for its own sake isn’t. But they don’t make DMotR the must-read that it is for me.

    It is the combination of the “average D&D player” reactions being so at odds with those of Tolkien’s characters’ and the clever use of dialogue and screen grab that really make DMotR more than the other players in the field.

    I’m glad you chose to keep doing the strip, even though you started it as a diversion, and probably intended to stop after three or four episodes. I can see the skill you use developing as the stories progress.

    Which is why I wish you hadn’t “done a Lucas” and revisited the earlier episodes. They stood for something beyond the story itself and were a fine illustration of the creative process underway.

    That said, I am looking forward to seeing the story through to whatever conclusion you’ve got in mind.


  62. Jack says:

    Hi, Just thought some people might be interested in viewing a Role-Playing cartoon strip I had a go at. the strips are in the photos section.


  63. Browncoat says:

    RE: #46–“The Balrog shot first”

    I chuckled at that, and it reminded me of this T-Shirt that made me guffaw and snicker. . .

  64. Jack says:

    61 TwiddleStooch Says:

    That's assuming the DM isn't Tolkien himself

    — Did Tolkein play D&D :-) ?????

    I still think a lot of fun could be had with them discovering the novel.

  65. Jack says:

    I just Googled it. Tolkein did play D&D. That’s where he got all his ideas from.

  66. ravenkith says:

    I count everything my players say as IC, unless they make an out of character gesture on their foreheads.

    It’s a total coincidence that the gesture in question looks like an L. Really.

  67. Scarlet Knight says:

    “Jack Says: Tolkein[sic] did play D&D.”

    Yeah, but just for a little while with C.S.Lewis, his brother Warren, and Hugo Dyson. The game broke down because no one would play a thief…

  68. Kaymeera says:

    The Kaymeera was here!


  69. AikenDrum says:

    It’s a running gag in our campaign to utter a Star Wars or Aliens quote whilst remaining perfectly IC. I have no idea how it started, but at least my players no longer spout Monty Python at me.

    Also, regarding the first post tradition, how about Lord Frith from Watership Down?

  70. Jochi says:

    I’m expecting to eventually see a starship doctor’s mug labeled DeForest Post.

  71. Juice says:

    An “out-of-character conversation” – classic! This is one of the best ones yet.

  72. Logan says:

    Vader Quote for the win ‘Aragon I am your FATHER’ ‘NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!’

  73. Morambar says:

    Props to anyone who knows not to end a sentence with a preposition, and doesn’t simply use Joel Rosenbergs alternative. Doubly well done, sir.

  74. yadayadayada says:

    nice star wars quote. appriciated, but it woulda been better if Stareagorn (XD) had addressed the dead king as “Lando” XD

  75. joesolo says:

    what legolas said!

  76. Kavonde says:

    Threadomancy time!

    Reading this through for the third (or maybe fourth) time. I completely forgot about the “I am altering the deal” line since my last read-through, and nearly fell out of my chair from laughing so hard.

    I love this strip.

    1. Kavonde says:

      Wow. Two years later, I had the exact same reaction and forgot I’d written a comment about it on my last archive binge.

      Thirty years from now, Shamus, I’m STILL going to be laughing so hard at that joke that I feel compelled to post on this thread.

      1. Kavonde says:

        I remembered the joke this time. Still laughed.

        1. Kavonde says:

          Thinking about this joke was what actually sparked this particular re-read.

  77. James Harrison will taste Manflesh says:

    Aragorn’s Vader impression is the gift that keeps on giving. I think I laugh out loud every time.

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

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

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

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.