DM of the Rings CXXXI:
A Profound Lack of Swooning

By Shamus Posted Monday Aug 6, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 84 comments

Hail to the king, baby!
Gimli is sitting on Aragorn’s throne!

Even the most greedy and cynical gamer is willing to roleplay once they are the center of attention. That is, they are willing to roleplay when it’s difficult or impossible for anyone else to roleplay along.

Which explains why the DM is always so eager for a chance to kill them off.

Which explains why players are always trying to twink out their stats and build characters of ridiculous power.

Which explains why they get so uppity in the game.

Which explains why the DM wants to kill them so bad.


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84 thoughts on “DM of the Rings CXXXI:
A Profound Lack of Swooning

  1. Shamus says:

    I’m taking a more militant stance against first posters.

  2. Daebereth says:

    I role-played right into killing some npc’s with some info… excluded everyone else in the party for about half an hour of gameplay and felt *terrible* for it when I realised…. then got extra xp for roleplay. Funny ol’ world….

  3. Woot says:

    Wooot! Awesome!

  4. Adam says:

    Well, I’m just happy for top 10.

    Anyway, great comic and the end lesson is so very very true.

    Kills dem, must kills dem all da stupid twinks **gulum**

  5. Susano says:

    Aragon’s expression in the last panel is priceless.

  6. Ahl says:

    That’s the longest rolplaying sequence by Aragorn I’ve ever seen in this comic! Keep it up, our great king :P

  7. damien walder says:

    Royalty of any world: “Really, you have no idea how difficult it is to wield this kind of power and responsibility”

    Media: “Whatever. What about the hookers found in your throne room?”

  8. dtb says:

    I have to guess that there aren’t very many Aragorn in Minas Tirith shots, but this turned out well. It helps that the people all look dumb-founded.

    ? = I thought those green guys destroyed the orcs and saved the city. Or, wasn’t it that NPC?

  9. Jon says:

    I agree with the fact that we make our characters Super-powerful, the current game I’m in we started at 4th level. I got the DM to allow me to be a Minotaur. Great! I have 25 AC and 28 Strength. I have a Full blade (huge) and I do 4d8+ 15. Monkey Grip, Exotic Weapon Pro Full blade, Power attack. Sick at 4th level I’m doing so much damage.

  10. Mike R says:

    great.. and the first post might be better than comic..

  11. Namagomi says:

    …Okay, that DM is a moron, end of story. Given that said minotaur’s ECL would essentially be 8 from the get-go, he allowed you a character with a level equal to -twice- the starting level of the rest. Assuming, of course, other players didn’t take after your example.

    1. WJS says:

      That’s only if he was playing a stock minotaur. If he added fighter levels on top of it (which it sounds like he did) it’s even worse – 4 fighter levels + 6 monstrous humanoid levels + 2 LA = character level 12. You’re doing more damage than a level 4 character huh? No shit.

  12. oldschoolGM says:

    9 Jon Says:
    August 6th, 2007 at 11:21 am
    …. Sick at 4th level I'm doing so much damage.

    HAH! I would SOOO kill your character off if I were your DM. :)

  13. Al Shiney says:

    It’s too bad that MP references were banned by the GM. I fully expected to see “Hey there folks, I’m you’re new king” followed by “I didn’t know we had a king, I thought we were an autonomous collective”. It would have been glorious.

    Heh … more militant stance … if only the trigger could actually be pulled.

  14. Dan says:

    4th level Minotaurs in the games I run always wind up as the main attraction in the local rodeo. If they are lucky. It is hard to survive as a character who looks like a big mac on legs to every starving mob of villagers he faces.

  15. AndiN says:

    The look on Aragorn’s face in the second-to-last panel is priceless! You can almost hear the “Oh, crap! I forgot I was supposed to do that!”

    Myself, I role “randomly generated” characters. I roll my attributes in order, and don’t rearrange them. Then I assign everything — race, class, skills, patron deities — a sequential number and roll the dice to pick what each thing is. It’s a lot more interesting to roleplay a character that isn’t ungodly powerful and even has a few odd quirks. My DM loves it, too, because it makes the campaigns much more interesting. One of everyone’s all-time favorite characters of mine is a gnomish druid who worships Heironeous. As you can imagine, he had a bit of trouble with spells. :-) But he won everyone over when, at a higher level, he (accidentally) took out an entire guard tower with a single spell. (He really didn’t know the spell would do that.)

    Our next game should be really fun, since I just randomly rolled up a gnomish rogue who worships Ehlonna. I decided to make him the gnomish druid’s younger brother who decided to worship Ehlonna to help out his brother. And all his brother had to give him was his ship so the rogue could be a swashbuckler. :-)

  16. Da Rogue says:

    Hehe, speaking of sick characters, I ‘member my fire subtype halfling rogue… It’s always nice for a party facing a dragon when the dragon keeps trying to fry the one member of the party who can’t be fried!

  17. Doug Brown says:

    Oh, King, eh? Very nice.

  18. Clyde says:

    Is that Roland’s Thompson Gun that Patty Hearst is holding?

    Speaking of undead, and all.

  19. Cenobite says:

    Now this is an interesting thread of development…

    I’m expecting a whole series of strips (maybe 3 or 4) on the topic of “now what exactly DOES happen to a campaign when the DM finally gives the players the keys to the whole kingdom? what IS the worst that could happen?”

  20. Vinchenze says:

    “I give you 100 xp for roleplaying but subtract 1000 for roleplaying the wrong frickin’ character!”

  21. Valley says:

    I wonder if they’re going to try to sell the city?

  22. Mirage says:

    Great one, Shamus, as usual! Isn’t Gimpli actually sitting in the Steward’s seat and not the actual throne? And as far as cheering and swooning, that only happens when the REAL king arrives (the one in the sequin jumpsuit!) Although, Stonergorn IS the only one who “doesn’t have shit all over him!”

  23. jperk31260 says:

    I can’t wait to see them all lined up to get their medicade and War Relief checks, isn’t the king responsilbe for all the damage done in the battle to the city, road repair, payroll for the army, orphan fund,taking care of soliders wounded in battle, care and feeding of prisoners. I don’t think he’ll last long. LOL

  24. Valley says:

    If you are making a list may I suggest Pirates of the Caribbean (the first movie)? In case Star Wars is not selected?

  25. Atanamir says:

    >> Isn't Gimpli actually sitting in the Steward's seat and not the actual throne?

    That’s true, but I wouldn’t bet on Aragorn’s player’s ability to tell the difference. Or to handle the concept of the whole Steward v. King thing. Aragorn never met Denethor within the timeframe of the campaign (and the player ain’t gonna read the backstory). I bet you he’ll misunderstand everything, storm into the Houses of Healing and try and have Faramir arrested for usurping the King’s power. At which point Pippin will try and prevent it and get into a huge fight with Aragorn. Meanwhile Legolas will be picking off the wounded for easy kills to get more XP. The DM will get frustrated and make Gandalf just burn down the whole House and make Gimli the Steward.

    Sauron’s still making trouble and all of the players are now gone, so Gimli will have to send in a bunch of NPCs. He’ll assemble a crack team consisting of himself, Gandalf, Eomer, Mad-Eye Moody, Spyro the Dragon, Shaft, Dr. Zoidberg, and Ensign Joey von Redshirt. They will then build a giant drill to bore through the Ephel Duath, and well, it all goes pear-shaped from there on out.

  26. Drezta says:

    lmao ‘why the hell are you on my throne’ how do you keep this comic getting better?

    19- i think a good link for that thread comes with this comic i found a couple weeks back
    (i’m not sure if its linked right you may have to type it in manualy)

    and on super power chars i’m reckoning a lv6 Warforged mk.2 (ECL:2) with a vow of poverty easily outbeards a simple minotaur, expeshialy when he has duel-wielded huge war mauls on permanent loan from an affiliation.
    minimaxing FTW!!
    i should probably get out more…

  27. Don Monkey says:

    Others have said it, but I have to agree — the facial expressions in this comic are amazingly good. Those last two panels and panel 9 are PERFECT. So good that it looks to me like you sat on the set and directed Viggo to make those expressions JUST FOR YOU. Nice work!

  28. Scarlet Knight says:

    Scene : Houses of Healing
    Merry: “*Ow* Have no fear, m'Lady, Aragorn will come to us. “˜The hands of the King are the hands of a healer' they always say.”
    Eowyn: “I'm familiar with those hands, Merry. *sigh*”But he abandoned us, that elf-lovin' gigolo!”

  29. xbolt says:

    I always wondered why Gimli was sitting on the throne…

    Actually, that’s the Steward’s seat anyway. Only Faramir should sit there.

  30. roxysteve says:

    Clyde Says:
    Is that Roland's Thompson Gun that Patty Hearst is holding?

    Heehee. “Roland” contains the best example of bathos I’ve ever heard. When I first heard the lyric I burst out laughing. I like to think it was deliberate and that the late Mr Z. was a comic genius.

    Needless to say, My Wife takes great exception to my laughing during a song she has liked since she was a teen.

    I also crack up when he intejects “Talkin’ ’bout the man” during one chorus. My wife has allowed that that was “a bit much”.

    The bit where the headless ambulent corpse confronts Van Owen and “doesn’t say a word” has me gasping for air, pounding my fists on whatever is to hand and begging for mercy (for obvious reasons).

    A great song. I recommend it to all.


  31. roxysteve says:

    (Re: the first frame of today’s comic) Here we see jackson’s megalomania rampant: A personal helipad worked into the set for Minas Tirith at the cost of jarring anachronism.

    Damn that man.


  32. roxysteve says:

    [shamus] Why not put an exploding rune on the first post slot? After a few light casualties word would get around the internet community not to post frivolously here just to be at the top of the comment list.

    Yes, DMotR would become famous for its cursed post.


  33. brassbaboon says:

    Shamus, another masterpiece. But I have to say that my biggest chuckle was “I’m familiar with those hands Merry..” by Scarlet Knight…

  34. Little Gen says:

    *schnerk* Oh, those expressions. Facial and verbal.

    (Oh, and who says the GM hates all too-strong characters? My super-heroine was practically loved by all, but then again, she _was_ such a darling.)

  35. Al Shiney says:

    “Roland” is one of my all time faves. Only in DMotR could the original Excitable Boy be brought into the discussion. Somewhere he’s laughing his ass off at it too, believe me!

    Warren, we miss you!

  36. Al Shiney says:


    Enjoy every sandwich!

  37. Caius says:

    Whenever a player gets out of control, I find the best way to get them to stop is claim it is their turn to go to the fridge to get us all drinks, then when he is gone hide his “lucky 20.” He will be so distracted that you can move on without him. Cheap trick, I know, but sometimes you need to cheat as a DM.

  38. Jindra34 says:

    Why is Colin still allowed to post freely?

  39. Al Shiney says:

    More to the point, why is Colin still allowed to breathe freely?

  40. Marty says:

    Re: First Posts

    I note that you usually have a bit of commentary after each comic. You could always use post #1 for this commentary, saving you the trouble of coming up with orginial graphic puns each week… unless that’s part of the fun for you, in which case, pun on!

  41. Tuccy says:

    Didn’t know Minas Tirith got heliport on top… ;)

  42. Obfuscato says:

    “King, eh? Then you own that big place over there, then? Well, neighbor Arrowhead of Arrowroot, here’s a cease-and-desist order signed by the Council to stop your damn troops from clanking about at all hours. Plus I’m filing another complaint about the smoke damage and noise from your last barbecue. And don’t think you can get away with having that dead tree in front of your place – it’s a hazard and an eyesore!

    The Condominium Association of Upper Minas Tirith has spoken!”

  43. DamoJO says:

    Hmmm Valley suggests doing Pirates, that could be good. I could just see cptn Jack Stoner hitting on a certain elf lass (whoops I mean blacksmith/swordswinger).
    But seriously DO STARWARS DO STARWARS ad infinitim
    Hell I`d type it out in full cept that I got ADD (3.5 ed obviously)

  44. Alex says:

    I always get a chuckle out of seeing the word “twink” in the context of gaming; it means something else in the gay world, yet it’s hardly as if the twain never meet!

  45. Namfoodle says:

    Does anyone remember Thomas Burnett Swann? He wrote some books about minotaurs. I remember a friend of mine read “Cry Silver Bells” (1977) and immediately created a D&D character to match the character in the books.

    I don’t think he was the only one. So the minotaur angle has quite a bit of precedence. If someone wants to play a minotaur, you can always just bump the stats and hit dice down a bit to lower the ECL. He’s only a lad…

  46. Maverick says:

    Lil question, where did my post go 0.o. It was seccond.

  47. comicshorse says:

    I always thought that bit of Gondor looked more like a crashed aircraft carrier that a helipad i must admit.

  48. Cenobite says:


    Aircraft carrier?

    You’re all wrong. The top of Minas Tirith is clearly a synchronicity marker used by the GPS satellite system. (Has to be an X visible from orbit, you know.)

  49. Miles Tormani says:

    A GPS satellite system? No, of course not.

    It clearly has to be a target crafted on top of Minas Tirith through conspiracy for Sauron’s orbital laser beams to strike. Of course, the budget for such a laser was squandered when it was revealed that Sauron would be mainly using it to cut his sandwiches, and the attack was never completed. Maybe they would’ve won otherwise.

  50. Jindra34 says:

    i thought the X was the top of a ballistic missle silo. to be launched at suaron.

  51. Attorney At Chaos says:

    With regard to powerful characters – I find that at least as often as not it’s the DM that determines this. I tend to create characters that are not optimized war machines at first – I like having significant areas of expertise that have no combat benefit, I like having personality quirks that can get you in trouble and so forth. But if the DM has set up the dungeon to be tougher than appropriate for such characters (IMHO), I will start the optimization process. I’m in 2 campaigns at the moment. In one there has just been the gradual evolution of characters. In the other it was immediately apparent that optimization was needed just to survive. The only deaths for my characters was in the second campaign. So I’ve optimized in the second campaign but not in the first.

  52. MintSkittle says:

    Actually, that’s the blast doors for the missile silo. Minas Tirith would have won outright if Denethor hadn’t wasted all its funding on pay-per-view. Getting cable to work on a palantir aint cheap.

  53. Scarlet Knight says:

    *Weeeooo* Eagle Lord One,come in, Eagle Lord One… this is White Tower…over…we have you on palantir…you are clear to land…

  54. DMCliffy says:

    Alex said
    “I always get a chuckle out of seeing the word “twink” in the context of gaming; it means something else in the gay world, yet it's hardly as if the twain never meet!”

    I’m pretty sure the term (in gaming) started as a corruption of “tweak”, which is closer to the intended meaning.

    At least I hope that’s it, otherwise I’d consider it a slur (i.e. to “fag out” your character)

    Of course this gives me no end of hilarious hypothetical scenarios (“Dude, I had this Minotaur Barbarian who was totally fagged out! I took an ogre to negative 99!!”)

  55. DMCliffy says:

    I don’t mean Personally. I’d also be offended by a “Jewed up” mage or a “Beaner-ed” Monk.

    Okay, now my hypothetical offensive d&d term party is hitting critical mass!

  56. Alex says:

    “Twink” is a weird word anyway because some people think that’s in an insult while some think it’s just a type descriptor.

    But “twink” in gaming terms … I think that everyone who stumbles across it without explanation is just a ball of “what?”, but fortunately I ran into it the first time when I was reading about EverQuest for my “Computer Games and Simulation” course.

  57. comicshorse says:

    ” We have you on Palantir” , just cracked me up. So that’s what they used them for.
    So the war was really about Gondor not letting the Nazgull land and re-fuel on long haul flights ?

  58. Obfuscato says:

    #47 Lil question, where did my post go 0.o. It was seccond.

    Truly one of the funniest comments in the whole thread! You’re a professional comedian, no?

  59. Joel says:

    #50 – thank you for bringing Adventurers! to mind. You have made my evening.

  60. MH says:

    I am pretty sure you mean “tweak” and not “twink.” But hey, it’s cool if you did, there’s nothing wrong with that.

  61. DMCliffy says:

    Well, maybe Aragorn’s totally fagged out — Monkey grip and everything!

    Lord I hope my little linguistic adventure doesn’t get me banned. I keep having to stop myself from typing “N*****ed-up Paladin” (self-censored)

  62. Mark says:

    “Twink” is a brand of white-out correction fluid where I live (New Zealand) hence it makes sense to say players “twink out their stats” so they can write better ones in.

    You may know it as Tipp-Ex, White-Out, Liquid Paper, etc, depending on where you are from.

    Hey, you’re not a Kiwi are you Shamus?

  63. Thenodrin says:

    I thought that the term “twink” (as in, “to twink-out a character”) came from the food Twinkie.

    The idea being that you had managed to make a character that could survive anything and everything, but was in the end bland and uninteresting.


  64. roxysteve says:

    (Re: exploding runes): Of course, after the exploding rune had gone off, we would face another annoying problem.

    I speak, of course, of the plague of burst posts in the comments.


  65. Nogard_Codesmith says:

    your words ring true again Shamus. I think youve goot a handle on this whole gaming thing… maybe you should take on trekkies next.

  66. Evan says:

    “Twink” is a gay context is a variation of the word “Tink”, which is short for “Tinkerbell”.

    First time poster, btw. Great comic!

  67. Fickle says:

    Twinkerbell. That’s all I’m saying. XD

  68. Victor says:

    Its a vicious cycle that helps to feed itself.

  69. Corsair says:

    First time poster. Starting reading from the first comic .. err .. page … yesterday.

    It’s good to know there are gaming groups out there that all experience the same chaos and lunacy ours does.

    And yes, I’ve used the name Corsair because that is actually the name of my character in the current Star Wars RPG I’m part of.

  70. Jim says:

    This is what I think happened: The guys playing the Star Trek game got confused by the rules and decided to find the module their DM had and are now playing the game THEIR way, with one of them DMing and playing one of the PCs. The story can continue, but this time centering on the Hobbits, at the point they left the first time.

  71. Oh so good Shamus!
    I would love to see Aragon’s ‘To Do List’ :D

  72. Jurrubin says:

    It’s good to see that in the midst of his roleplaying, Aragorn still found time to loot the royal armory.

    Who said he doesn’t have his priorities straight?

  73. jabberwocky says:

    “I got the DM to allow me to be a Minotaur.”

    no fair.
    I play a wizard, and the dm gave me a stutter.
    I wonder how long it takes them to think up all these evil tricks.
    101 mind meltingly horrible DM tricks. What would be number one?

  74. DMCliffy says:

    @ jabberwocky and his stutter

    Get a new DM.

    DMs who imperically make decisions for or about your character are rarely worth playing under, with, or even near. Perhaps he’s new to this and is salvagable, but it’s rare. Try talk, but don’t be afraid to talk with your feet.

    The minotaur guy is a special case. Perhaps power balance isn’t an issue in that particular game, but when used at the appropriate ECL a minotaur is no more powerful than a human barbarian of the same level. Of course, a minotaur PC is about four to ten times more powerful PC than a 4th level character, but like I said, power balance may not be important in that game.

    Fun is important, though. If you’re having fun, you’re winning (and often, but not necessarily, the other way around). If the DM gives your character embarassing traits for no good reason, makes your decisions for your, and treats you like pawns subject to his whims, then you may be better off spending your friday nights with someone else.

  75. Thenodrin says:

    I agree with DMCliffy. I had a DM who had everyone in the world treat my female PC like a prostitute, presumabely because it was a female PC played by a male player. (The DM didn’t treat female PCs played by female players like that.)

    We had a talk, and the DM didn’t see the problem with it, even going so far as to try to justify each situation on a case-by-case basis. But, it was just that literally every NPC we’d ever met, and because of this even a few of the PCs had started treating my character with scorn, disdain, and were constantly making disrespectful, demeaning sexual comments about her.

    Since the DM wouldn’t see the problem, I left the game.


  76. Tola says:

    54 Scarlet Knight Says:

    August 6th, 2007 at 9:05 pm
    *Weeeooo* Eagle Lord One,come in, Eagle Lord One… this is White Tower…over…we have you on palantir…you are clear to land…

    ….Given that I remember hearing somewhere that the Eagles(at least in ‘saving the day at Mordor’) were meant to represent the RAF…that…is superbly fitting.

  77. Eric the vengeful says:

    Yeeeaaaaahhhhh!!!!! That was excellence in execution, but can you really blame the pc’s for wanting to be the center of attention. we’re the ones risking are asses for the benefit of the people, so were entitled to there booty, and also equipment and gold.

  78. Cynder says:

    That’s a lot of explaining there, Shamus XD Well done.

    If I’d been there when Aragorn had returned as king I prolly would have been the only one cheering and swooning. Mostly swooning. :P

    …oh, come on! Aragorn’s a hot king!!! :)

  79. Michael says:

    As for explosive ruins, just tell the other PC’s that you deliberately misspellled them, so that it wouldn’t actually go off.

    Threaten the NPC’s, and apologize to the other PC’s.

    Of course, if they want to read it and double check, they can :-)

  80. The Duke of Waltham says:

    Nice shot in the first panel, although I note that the absence of battle debris is rather conspicuous.

  81. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Yep. I’ve said it before but this was me. I was this player. I try not to be this player anymore or to simply not inflict my bad habits on a play group by playing video games instead.

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