DM of the Rings CXXXIV:
Hold Your Horses

By Shamus Posted Monday Aug 13, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 163 comments

Aragorn recovers the party horses via rules-lawyering.

Players tend to treat horses like motorcycles: They are vehicles which can go anywhere you can walk, will never wander off, have no fear, feel no pain, and can travel at top speed for as long as you like.

And if you think players abuse the rules surrounding backpacks, just wait until they get their hands on the greatest of all interdimensional containers, saddlebags.


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163 thoughts on “DM of the Rings CXXXIV:
Hold Your Horses

  1. Browncoat says:

    I find your lack of pants disturbing. . .

  2. Caitlin says:

    The DM should know better than to try to part a player from their loot, even if it defies all logic for them to still have it.

  3. Karkki says:


    I love this

  4. Felagund says:

    Once my DM actually gave me a magical teleporting device, just so everyone could avoid the inconveniences of mundane cross-continental travel.

    I miss that little magic box.

  5. Snake says:


    1. ZAP says:

      Where’s Archie? Is he in this campaign?

  6. Mordae says:

    Riverdale? Far more likely he left his pants in Edoras…

  7. drezta says:

    it gets worse in campaigns were there is loot and the party is carrying a city sized pile of gold coins between them

  8. roxysteve says:

    When I play I often refuse to ride (and put no points into the skill), and insist on travelling by cart. The players hate me right up until it comes time for an encumberance check, when I become the bestest friend everyone ever had.


  9. Evrae says:

    Every Dm should know that when the time arrives all players are Guybrush Threepwood and have all the loot they could possably ever want on them when they see a merchant.

  10. roxysteve says:

    I think the next comic should be a screen-cap one based on Citizen Kane.

    Yes, this is my “Hearst Post”.


  11. Invictus says:

    Man, ain’t that the truth? They either abuse horses and saddlebags, or they go through horses like water, buying one at each town they come to, since they always seem to be going into places that are inaccessible to horses (and yet, they buy them to travel TO these places…then end up leaving them at the entrance). Amusingly, as a result, the players in my current campaign have a rule: never name your horse. Hehehe.

    Spot on comic, as usual, Shamus

  12. Beckyzoole says:

    Gondor has no pants. Gondor needs no pants.

  13. Victor says:

    Perfect, I once played a BESM campaign where i was a gnome mage with “hammerspace” or literally, the area behind my back underneath the trenchcoat was a garage sized area that could hold a car (modern setting) and all the weapons and gear that we could need. saved us time and worries, but we abused it horribly.

  14. Zynia says:

    My DM does fear checks on the horse. Getting bucked off in the middle of battle while the horse runs off to save its own hide is always fun.

  15. Marty says:

    Aaahhh… The “we didn’t leave the horses behind” argument. It’s like a rite of passage every DM must suffer through.

  16. azureknight says:

    Always hilarious Shamus!
    The hardest I have laughed yet in the series was the “wearing enough metal to make a buick” so if he could swim it so could the horses. Caught me off-guard. I look forward to reading it every MWF.

  17. Uri says:

    I laughed myself silly; my wife asked what’s so funny. The pants… the pants… Jesus, this was one of the best strips ever.

  18. El Capitan says:

    Just as a side note, I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that was “Rivendale”, not “Riverdale”. I don’t recall seeing a member of Archie’s gang in that section.

  19. Lune says:

    Ahaha saddlebags. They transcend RP phenomena. Anyone remember the magical saddlebag (permanently attached to horse) in Harvest Moon: Back to Nature? Anything you put in the saddlebag would automatically go into the sales bin. It didn’t matter how many squishy tomatoes you stuffed in it.

  20. BillionSix says:

    Um, El Capitan? You do know that it’s a running gag in this strip that the players can’t remember the names of any of the people and places, right?
    The author knows it’s Rivendale. The player probably can’t remember his own character’s name. ;)

  21. Calmypal says:

    It’s a joke, Capitan. The name of the city is Rivendell.

  22. Calmypal says:

    Ooh, ninja’d!

  23. Nikodemus says:

    Rivendell *groans*

  24. Kristin says:

    “Gondor has no pants. Gondor needs no pants.” – someone’s watched the Bakshi cartoon lately?

    (Aragorn, for some reason, forsook pants in favor of a leather loincloth for that movie.)

  25. Cenobite says:

    There is one way to get around this: have 1 player make a character that is completely attached to his/her horse at the hip. A knight with a lance. A peddler with a cart. Etc. This guarantees that (1.) all horses traveling with the party get considered in methods of travel, and (2.) nobody violates encumbrance rules. It’s a win-win situation for players and DM alike.

    Best of all, (3.) dead horses can be rendered down for emergency food rations.

  26. Telas says:

    “Rivendell” says the fanboy…

    Ah, the horse – source of more RPG arguments than anything but Diplomacy. Having a player with some horse experience is invaluable in a game.

    Aside: I once got flamed on the WotC boards for suggesting that a person would move slower through shin-deep mud than a horse would. I was told that deep mud kills horses; having grown up in a rural area, this was news to me.

    (Yes, horses can catch some pretty nasty conditions from deep mud, but that’s like saying that a cut from a rusty nail kills you instantly.)

  27. roxysteve says:

    Cenobite Says:
    There is one way to get around this: have 1 player make a character that is completely attached to his/her horse at the hip.

    Force players to be centaurs? Radical, but it might just work.


  28. roxysteve says:

    [Telas] Silly boy. You must know by now that facts and actual experience are of no importace in a net brawl.


  29. oldschoolGM says:

    Always…ALWAYS ask the PC “What are you doing with your horses”. If you forget and you can’t convince they players they shouldn’t have them, kill the horses off at the next most inconvenient for the players.

  30. Maverick says:

    Did Aragorn just used logic?? 0.o. I’m shocked Shamus! You should know better than to have him use logic!

  31. Reverend Jim says:

    My gaming groups will beg/borrow/steal/buy a portable hole as quick as they can. NOT ONLY will it hold all the loot. It can carry the dead/petrified PC’s and even be an offensive weapon.

    Two characters, an illusionist and a bard, found themselves in a treasure room with a statue of a rather nasty dwarf with a hammer for one hand and a spike for the other. Spidy-sense told them it was a guardian.
    Knowing they would get pulped if they activated it, they opened up the portable hole immediately in front of the statue. One character touched a chest while the other stood by the hole. The golem animated and fell into the hole where he was wrapped up.

    The illusionist and bard made off with the loot and the golem was saved for the following week when the party’s fighters would rejoin the game.

  32. Browncoat says:

    Of course Aragorn is using logic now. Ever since he found out he was king, he’s been going to night school to learn how to be a king. (Next week, he learns the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow. The week after, he finds what he had learned the previous week is only for African swallows.)

  33. scldragonfish says:

    Ahhh the bag of holding! I managed to stuff a cooler of body parts in mine. Don’t ask…

  34. Mattingly says:

    Consulting this map should remind them where they left the horses.

  35. Al Shiney says:

    The “Whose side are you on” line is paraphrased differently in our group. The absolute, never-forget, don’t do under penalty of character death A#1 rule above all others is:

    “Don’t help the DM!” (usually yelled loudly in chorus)

  36. Sorely McFister says:

    OldschoolGM “If you forget and you can't convince they players they shouldn't have them, kill the horses off at the next most inconvenient for the players.”

    I definitely agree with oldschoolGM, if a player abuses a rule and gets away with it, I usually make them pay in spades later. It’s a karma thing :)
    P.S. – I once had a player cry when I killed her dapple grey gelding she named Shadow Mist. She spent 30 minutes writing its description and personality, I think I killed it the first five minutes of game play. C’est la gare

  37. roxysteve says:

    Sorely McFister Says:
    C'est la gar

    “It’s the station”????


  38. willk_1230 says:

    “We leave the horses behind.”
    “We leave the horse’s behind.”


    what a difference an apostrophe makes! :)

  39. Hanov3r says:

    drezta Says:
    it gets worse in campaigns were there is loot and the party is carrying a city sized pile of gold coins between them

    In the campaign I’m currently part of, a significant amount of gold was stolen from the town coffers. We managed to find it… only to discover that 30,000 gold pieces in a large-ish chest is just a *bit* more than the Earth Genasi Barbarian with 20 STR was able to carry.

    At least he was able to push the chest to where the horses were. Quadrapeds get that extra bonus for bein’ 4-legged, dontcha know.

  40. Gary says:

    Absolutely Brilliant!

    I was hard pressed to keep the laughing to a low enough level that my fellow cube-farmers were not disturbed/curious/jealous. :D

  41. Sevenhills says:

    My players have never let me forget the time they left their horses securely hobbled so they couldn’t wander off while the PCs were in the dungeon. Shame they forgot they were in stirge country…

  42. Melfina the Blue says:

    The ultimate soln to the horse problem…
    a flying horse that turns into a human that also serves as a squire. I have no idea how our paladin got this person/creature’s loyalty, but it works.

  43. corwin says:

    I was in a campaign recently when the departure of a player happened to coincide with our party entering a dungeon. Throughout our dungeon crawl, I kept voicing my fear that Alestor was sitting up there in his camp, eating our horses. When we made it out of the dungeon, discovering that several months had passed, we discovered the DMs had been listening; Alestor had indeed eaten the horses.

  44. Romanadvoratrelundar says:

    @38, I think that was “c’est la guerre”, spelt American. You probably new that, but you know, compulsive pedant here.

  45. Carra says:

    Cheers, lovely comic with a great clou :)

  46. melchar says:

    But horses can also be fun for a referee. I have a player in one game who has a horse that faints whenever it feels threatened. Now sometimes the horse is actually fainting – especially when blood splashes nearby – but most of the time it has learned that if it falls down that #1, his owner runs over and kills all the monsters nearby and then #2, the horse then gets a big food treat when it ‘wakes up’.

  47. Ambidexter says:

    “Enough metal to make a Buick” was one of the best lines ever, Shamus.

  48. Remus says:

    Great, Tardis backpack, Tardis Saddlebag.

  49. Scarlet Knight says:

    roxysteve & Cenobite Say:”There is one way to get around this: have 1 player make a character that is completely attached to his/her horse at the hip.

    Force players to be centaurs? Radical, but it might just work.”
    I once played a centaur (well, a polymorphed dwarf to be technical.) It was great fun until I was faced with a ladder…

  50. Scarlet Knight says:

    Browncoat, I believe you made a spelling error. To learn how to be King a ranger goes to KNIGHT school…

  51. Kaz says:

    To #35 – Thank you for Quest Map, which apparently gives better directions than Mapquest. :-D

    And to #31… It’s not that he’s using logic. More like he hit the merry-go-round and kept it spinning until he figured out the best way to push the DM off. It wasn’t well-reasoned arguments, it was grasping at straws and actually grabbing the correct one.

  52. BlckDv says:

    Oh; you called me out.

    A week ago yesterday at our D&D game my Gnome Paladin declared that he was going to cram the clockwork spider we had just defeated into his saddlebag to sell to mechanics back in the city.

    The same saddlebags he had crammed all the metal ingots in from the workshop earlier.

    The same saddlebags that on an earlier quest we stuck the secret book in, dismissed the mount while the guards trying to keep the book from getting home searched the PCs, and then re-summoned in the sanctuary of the church that wanted the book… at least that led to RP with the priest outraged at a camel in his church.

    My PCs’ Divine Camel must be about fed up with being FedEx by now.

  53. Namfoodle says:

    Horses aren’t worth the trouble unless the campaign is set up to avoid problems. You’re okay if all the encounters happen in or near towns, on the same continent, etc.

    If your adventures require you to cross oceans, hang out in floating castles, or go to other planes or other such nonsense, horses are right out.

    In my current campaign, we’re 11th level and our butts have only touched the backs of horses once since 1st level. The horses were provided to us by our employer and we dropped them off at our destination town.

    Other than that, we walk, take boats, airships, sleds, fly, teleport, etc.

  54. brassbaboon says:

    I don’t know what’s funnier, that the King of Gondor is trying to figure out how to finagle his horse onto a ship when he literally owns entire herds of horses just outside his window, or that the DM has forgotten that a King doesn’t need to carry horses through tunnels and across rivers, a King just needs to say “I need a horse. And two more for my buddies.” I’m pretty sure by the time he got outside, he’d have three horses saddled up. And I’m quite certain that for this character one horse is as good as another.

    It’s good to be the king.

    One reason I enjoy running low level campaigns is that I don’t have to kill myself trying to overcome the game-breaking capabilities of certain magic items. I know a player who turned a bag of holding into an extra-dimensional kingdom where he raises dragons. I guess those were old D&D rules, but his character still has the castle and the dragons, so I guess it was all grandfathered in…

    One of my favorite DM moments was when the group of characters in my campaign finally killed off a major dragon in his lair, complete with the fairy-tale pile of gold and treasure. Oh they were really happy, until they realized that between them they could only carry a tiny fraction of the treasure trove. Undeterred one player came up with the idea of building a cart and capturing some wild goats to pull it. Unfortunately the cart building and goat herding kept getting interrupted by brigands who had somehow heard the news that the dragon was dead. Pretty soon they were besieged in the dragon lair, running out of food and water.

    The lead player finally vented his frustration, accusing me of deliberately thwarting their attempts to recover all the treasure. My response was “Well, for years this treasure trove has been the envy of every brigand, raider, bandit or nearby king, but they had given up on killing the dragon to get it. Now they just have to kill you.”

    They finally got the message, grabbed the choicest loot they could, and scampered out the back secret passage. Behind them they heard the beginning of an epic battle.

    They never really forgave me for that….

  55. Namfoodle says:

    Gnome on a divine camel. That’s sweet.

    My gnome wizard has to constantly fend off suggestions that he ride in the backpack of one of the other (all medium sized) characters.

    Damn my stubby legs (and 20 foot move)!

  56. HuntingDM says:

    Mounts are great in an adventure, its the consistant killing of them by the party that gets annoying.

    OH! Look an owlbear. I’ll charge it and jump off to attack it. What do you mean its eating my horse.

    Remember monsters like to eat the soft squishy animals more than the hard two leggers with the big sharp weapons.

  57. Colin says:

    Oh my god, somebody has noticed me posting and started talking about it. That is just like this comic, it is so…. Pimp!

  58. Colin says:

    FYI “pimp” is the new “awesome”

  59. Kano says:

    Hey, are you really the Purple Library Guy from SFU?

    For those not in the know, Purple Library Guy is (was?) an institution at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby. An eclectic and highly recognizable character. There was an interview with him in the Peak student newspaper (he apparently has a real name too, but it’s less memorable) and even a comic strip featuring him.

  60. Jim says:

    One of the best strips yet!
    Again, the comments after are as good as the comic! Bravo!

  61. Dreamelf says:

    I find myself amazed that most who ride horses, like Roy from OOTS, have 2 or fewer ranks in ride. Why don’t opponents dethrone them then take the AOO as they stand up more often?

    Also, there is another great solution to the horse problem: Phantom Steed. Lost it? It vanished, no worries. Need one again? Recast it. My gnome illusionist (w/Shadowcraft Mage) can make one of those last all day, and it’s a great way to bypass the whole issue of mud, snow, crossing a body of water, etc. I’m surprised more don’t take it.

  62. Kano says:

    Here’s the interview I’m talking about:

    Oh and yeah, great strip. We have the same issue with vehicles as we do with steeds. Vehicles are less likely to wander off but more likely to be stipped of hubcaps.

  63. Aries says:

    just dont ask how they work…disbelief and denial are the source of the saddlebags power. only through complete lack of logic can 5ft broadsword fit in a 2ft square bag…

  64. Namfoodle says:

    meh, Phantom Steed is okay, they do move pretty quick right out of the box. 100 ft at 5th level, which is as good as a hippogriff’s fly speed.

    But by the time you’re high enough level to get the cool stuff (waterwalking, etc.) other methods of transport are available, like teleport and overland flight.

    And they’re pretty easy to “kill”. The AC is better than a real horse (without barding), but they have fewer hit points until you’re really high level.

    1. WJS says:

      So what if higher level spells can provide alternatives? It’s not like they make Phantom Steed obsolete. Even at level 20, teleport can only move seven people, while a mage on a Phantom Steed can join any sized group, including one with vehicles. It can also only reliably take you places you’re familiar with.
      As for Overland Flight, it’s a great spell that can last all day, but it’s not fast. At level 9, a Phantom Steed is 4.5 times faster, rising to 6 times faster at level 12. For high-speed movement, Phantom Steed wins. Plus, you can summon a Steed for your friends if you want, Overland Flight is strictly a personal spell.
      I’m obviously not trying to say Phantom Steed is better in every way, but it’s not worse in every way either.

  65. Caius says:

    If Diablo and WOW can have a stash that follows you from town to town, characters can have the saddle bag of holding. That is until 20 Bulletts attack the party, dragging all the horses below the earth. Muwhahahaha cackles the vengeful DM!

  66. Lycoris says:

    Great captures! Third panel especially got a full fledged LOL from me. (Ok, maybe more of a giggle-snort, but don’t tell anyone.)

    World of Warcraft has amazing bags to carry all kinds of stuff in, too. I’ve carried a dozen rotting bear carcasses alongside my food and water, with no problems!

  67. haashaastaak says:

    this is one of the best strips. I’m not sure whether it’s because the normally clueless characters actually tricked the GM or because the argument is so silly. I won’t recap the arguments already made about that except to say I wondered what the citizens of the city would think when they saw their king trying to sell a bunch of stolen weapons that he got from their most important ally. The screen caps are good as usual.

  68. ZackTheSTGuy says:

    Our group actively avoids the use of horses in our campaigns for precisely this reason.

  69. jabbers says:

    “(Next week, he learns the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow. The week after, he finds what he had learned the previous week is only for African swallows.)”


    Typical of the education system.
    learn somthing,
    learn it is mostly wrong,
    learn exeptions
    learn better ways.
    learn it is mostly wrong, so on.

  70. jabbers says:

    “Next week, he learns the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow. The week after, he finds what he had learned the previous week is only for African swallows.”


    Typical of the education system.
    learn somthing,
    learn it is mostly wrong,
    learn exeptions
    learn better ways.
    learn it is mostly wrong, so on.

  71. Parzival says:

    In a dragon hunt I DMed, the party came up with a novel solution upon discovering the vanquished dragon had more treasure than the could possibly carry”” they proceeded to tie the dragon corpse to strategically placed stakes in the chamber, to make it appear as if the dragon were alive and rearing, ready to attack.

    Didn’t work. I mean, get real. The local humanoids that had allied with the dragon walked in, saw his battered remains hanging from inch thick ropes, and promptly looted the place via the secret tunnels in the back.

    Yeah, I was a mean DM. *evil grin*

  72. Parzival says:

    Phooey. What’s the code for emoticons on this site?

  73. Scarlet Knight says:

    Colin Says: FYI “pimp” is the new “awesome”

    Oooooh! Now it makes sense! I sure feel silly about my previous Harpo Marx reference. By the way, what happened to the old “awesome”? We can still use it, right?

  74. Matthias says:

    :) for a smile
    ;) for a wink
    :P for sticking your tongue out
    ]:) for evil grin
    :( for sad

  75. Attorney At Chaos says:

    I often play characters that have taken a Vow Of Poverty, which does away with quite a number of such problems (horses, saddlebags, etc.) In 1E and 2E this was considered QUITE unusual. When 3E came out with the Ascetic characters in the Book Of Exalted Deeds it became a bit more popular, but still rare.

    And of course, 3E is where the Paladin’s Mount became dismissable and summonable. That made things easier for them, that’s for sure.

  76. JoystickHero says:

    We always tend to have at least one Large character (usually a Goliath, but occasionally a half-ogre) with 22+ strength, so encumbrance is rarely a problem.

  77. TheDrone says:

    Remember when he failed that fortitude save vs. the chick? He forgot his pants there.

  78. Rick says:

    Funny thing is, in the book the horses did brave the Paths of the Dead, journey to Pelargir, and travel by boat to Minas Tirith. And then presumably the Black Gate.

    So, they’re actually following the book! Sort of.

  79. Eric Towers says:

    Mostly, I wonder … Dave et al. will be busy trying to put a small object (a torpedo) down the difficult to approach opening of a very explode-y object that just happens to be next to the massed forces of the bad guys, who just happen to be about to attack/destoy the good guys. Do you think he’ll listen to Sam’s words of encouragement, be killed by the creepy looking antagonist (who is apparently half dead, having been nearly killed in an earlier movie/strip), turn off his targeting computer, or actually get the Ring down the hole? (… now *I*’m confused …)

  80. Yahzi says:

    Build a buick… A new classic! :D

  81. Awesome!
    Pure Awesome!

    Luckily, nothing like this has come up in my games, yet :D

  82. brassbaboon says:

    This whole thread is making me think about may own characters, some of whom are pretty high level. I have five characters ranging from level 12 to 14. None of them own a bag of holding. Two of them have large “homes” (more like “Keeps”). Two of them have mounts. One mount (for my 13th level Ranger) is a hippogriff. The other is a war horse. The other three just fly. One of them essentially has taken a vow of poverty and really only carries what his deity tells him he needs. The two with the “homes” have tons of stuff in their homes, but none of it is critical to their adventuring goals.

    Mostly it works out like this. My arcane characters have a few rings, an amulet, maybe some bracers of a magic robe, a decent staff and some wands, and odds and ends like spell components. As they have gotten higher level they have found fewer needs (who needs grappling hooks when you can fly?) so they really don’t carry that much. A bag of holding would be nice maybe, but in general they just don’t need that much stuff.

    My Illusionist is probably the best example. He has Ioun stones that free him from the need for water or food. He has the old Ring of Air Elemental Command, which allows him to fly (and do other cool stuff). He has a ring of wizardry which doubles his first and second level spells. A staff, a magic robe, some scrolls, maybe a potion or two… He hardly even needs a backpack anymore, unless he’s going on a long trip. Even if I had a bag of holding, I don’t know what I’d put in it. His role in battle is to confuse the enemy until he can bring some heavy artillery to bear. It’s not like he needs to carry a sherman tank with him. He IS the heavy artillery.

    Maybe he’s deprived and has never gotten his share of treasure compared with other campaigns. He’s certainly never needed to dump a mountain of gold coins into a bag of holding. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t want to even if he had the opportunity. He’s just not that greedy. He likes to travel light, and he may not have many magic items, but what he has are pretty cool. A bag of holding would just turn into a garage that he’d need to clean out from time to time…

  83. Gadush Kraun says:

    if backbacks are invisible leather tarti (plural of tartus?) what are saddlebags?

  84. Kidoryu says:

    I remember one of my worst experiences of a player out witting me. IT was at the very start of the campaign, I decided to let my players start at lvl 15, and the amount of money the DM’s guide suggests for characters starting at that level.
    One Of my players, a wizard, decided he would forgo starting with magic items of any kind, and just keep the money, subtracting a small amount for basic traveling gear and a few spellbooks.
    Impressed by his lack of greed,(and ignorant of all the item creation feats he had taken) I gave him a good chunk of exp as a bonus. Which he promtly used to create all the magic items he wanted, and a reduced cost. Since I don’t impose time restrictions until a player actually meets another player, (or npc that a player has significantly influenced), he had all the time in the world to gather raw materials and such.
    Of course, I could have simply inflated the price of said materials, but I figured, he went through all that trouble to outwit me, I’d just let him have his way… And never award a player xp for self-induced poverty again.

  85. My PCs never carry around any loot from monsters unless its magical.
    Its good to have non-goober players…

    most of the time.

  86. inq101 says:

    I have discovered the secret of getting players to look after their mounts.


    No realy, hats.

    One of my first D&D games I gave my characters horse a straw hat, but had to leave the game for a couple of months shortly after. When I returned I found that the rest of the party had been feeding and caring for the horse religiously (and actualy had been RPing it rather than ‘I buy a months worth of hay for the horse’)

    Since then all the games I’ve run where a horse, pony, mule or riding-lizard turned up wearing a hat (sometimes with a feather in it) has ended up with players aquiring the horse (etc, etc) and TREATING IT WELL (they even let a NPC starve so they could feed the riding-lizard).

  87. xbolt says:

    “Highly illogical.”

    Still funny, though. :D

  88. Fickle says:

    I think the best item I ever got in an RP was when the god of war, Ares, offered one item to each player and I opted for a backpack with no size limit on the inside that could keep anything in pristine condition and always give me exactly what I was looking for.

    All the other players just went all, “Uh… What do we ask a god for?”

    Ah, the joys of text-based RP and muns whose chars are relatively normal. XD

  89. Little Gen says:

    Weeeeell, I remember a campaign where two of the players had actually ridden and taken care of horses for several years, and besides we all had characters who by definition were very attached to their horses… The GM just had to swim with it, we spent _ages_ taking care of our beasts. We even skipped some skirmishes in order to save the horses!

  90. bibble says:

    This is why my GM always pays great detail to these things. It makes it easier for everyone else too, cos no-one has whopping great piles of stuff with them.

  91. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    *Homer Jay Simpson*

    “I have misplaced my pants”

  92. kat says:

    Players might be better about this if actual fantasy novelists were. Alas, they are infamous. From Diana Wynne Jones’s Tough Guide to Fantasyland:

    Horses are of a breed unique to Fantasyland. They are capable of galloping full-tilt all day without a rest. Sometimes they do not require food or water. They never cast shoes, go lame or put their hooves down holes, except when the Management deems it necessary, as when the forces of the DARK LORD are only half an hour behind…. Nor do they ever make life difficult for Tourists by biting or kicking their riders or one another…. Horses can be used just like bicycles, and usually are.”

    Later on she proposes that they breed by pollination. I love DWJ.

    The worst example of this I can think of came in one of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories (don’t ask why I was reading these. Also, never mention “mighty thews” to me again. Ever) in which a naked woman runs out of a tent, jumps onto a nearby horse, rides it at a gallop BAREBACK for several hours, falls off, and is apparently still in shape to be ravished. The visualizations alone made me walk with my legs crossed for days, but apparently Howard had never sat on a horsehair couch….

  93. Valley says:

    I thought they ate their horses?

  94. Maddyanne says:

    Diana Wynne Jones is so very good. Every fantasy writer should read the Tough Guide, not to mention all her other books.

  95. Thenodrin says:

    I remember breaking an adventure with Phantom Steed once.

    The event called for us to be placed on a ship, take a week to get where we were going, and stop the enemy from burning down a church.

    So, I cast Phantom Steed 6 times, and we out-paced the ship, got there in a day and a half, and lay in ambush for the people who were supposed to be in the process of razing the church as we got there.

    Of course, the dumb thing was that after the DM “fixed” the event by having the attack happen as we got there regardless of what day it was, then the NPC who sent us to protect the temple Teleported to us, and Teleported us to the next target.

    Which, of course, led us to wonder what the point was of failing to adequately protect the first target. Why couldn’t he have Teleported us in the first place?


  96. roxysteve says:

    Scarlet Knight Says:
    I once played a centaur (well, a polymorphed dwarf to be technical.) It was great fun until I was faced with a ladder…

    Fun indeed.

    I once played a sorcerer who specialised in shapechanging. His favourite shape? Centaur (The ref goofed early on, then agreed that it was more fun if I could do this so left it in). The others thought it was great to have a horse-on-demand.


    They began to notice that my the sorcerer’s favourite down-time occupation was persuading good-looking NPC women with shiny boots to come out for a canter. It wasn’t long before none of the female PCs would ride ol’ Mr Centaur on account of his constant oily instructions to hold on tight with their shiny, shiny boots. No, tighter. (You have to put the right amount of letchery into the voice when you do this sort of thing).

    I hasten to add I had no back story or goal when I did this other than to freak out certain players who were taking me for granted and driving me crazy with constant PHB rules-lawyering.

    In the end they stopped asking the sorcerer to be a cart horse/motorbike and started treating me with a bit more respect as a player.

    The same thing happened when they found out I could cast Stoneskin. The components for that spell are costly, but I was never offered so much as an extra copper piece for what they expected as a right. So I invented my own little chant for the vocal component, and elaborated on how the material component was applied (and not one of these rule lawyers thought to check in the PHB!). I told them I had to rub special ointment on their (bare) skin and sing “The Ointment Song”, a little calypso that went: “Let me rub your body, your lovely, lovely body“. I think the strongest willed of our (lady) fighters held out for four applications then declared that she thought she could do without the spell’s protection for the rest of the campaign.

    Much fun.


    1. WJS says:

      That’s hilarious. Aren’t Sorcerers supposed to have charisma, though?

  97. Jochi says:


    I know I’m fighting a losing battle here, as with “bad” meaning “cool”, but I’m going to try anyway.

    Check Eight dictionary listings. The first meaning of that word in every case but the last two is ‘panderer’. The only other one of note applies in Australia and New Zealand where it means “stoolpigeon”. The last two have it as an acronym for “peeing in my pants”. Not a positive meaning anywhere. A pimp is an abuser of women and a trafficker in human misery, on a moral par with a rapist or a hard drug pusher. It does not mean “awesome” or “cool” or “stylin'” or anything else. It is an insult and to use it to describe a person or their craft is to invite them outside for a discussion with bare knuckles.

    But, I suppose, in most of the eyes on this list, I date myself again.

  98. Jindra34 says:

    Jochi: Its not that your are out of date its that colin is trying to live in that which has yet to occur.

  99. Angel says:

    The last time I played d&d (in high school, when 2nd ed. was new), our DM had an unusual solution to the problem of infinite saddlebags. We worked out the encumbrance of a mule, and then had to put equipment lists on little file-cards, one for each beast of burden.

    Mules and horses were either left outside (in which case there’s a 1/20 chance of it getting eaten by predators every day we leave it), or you have to take it into the dungeon.

    In the dungeon, mules move at 6 squares/turn (4 if overladen). If the owner is nearby and there’s no obvious escape route, you can move it where you want. Otherwise, they move directly away from the scariest thing they can see (so you have a couple of guys at the back of the flock waving around weapons, to make all the mules keep moving).

    At one point (around level 17 I think), we ran out of plastic mule/horse miniatures – a dungeon with 5 adventurers, 4 pet monsters, and 50 mules of loot carrying. Madness.

    Now I run rather than play games, I’ve found a method that doesn’t involve so many numbers for working out encumbrance. I’ve printed up a ton of equipment cards for common items (and a few rare ones). Large/heavy items are printed on thick card, random treasures on cheap cardstock, and potions/rings/scrolls on paper. Each player has an envelope. The rule is, if you can get it in the envelope, you can carry it. Backpacks and mules get different sized envelopes, and some larger items have larger cards (or vice-versa)

  100. DiscountNinja says:

    Now matter how many times I read it, the first comment is stil hilarious …

    “I find your lack of pants distrubing…”

  101. GoldenHatAlfonso says:

    Dictionaries!? We don’t need no… STINKING DICTIONARIES!

  102. the granddaddy says:

    33 Browncoat Says:

    August 13th, 2007 at 1:27 pm
    Of course Aragorn is using logic now. Ever since he found out he was king, he's been going to night school to learn how to be a king. (Next week, he learns the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow. The week after, he finds what he had learned the previous week is only for African swallows.)

    Dude… what about the ” no quoting monty pithon ” rule? You made me imagine aragorn as the black knight, only stupider :P
    Great one as allways shamus…will you tellus soon of your next proyect? Do i need to use the Cow-a-pult to know it?

  103. Miles Tormani says:

    Okay, Jochi, as much as I hate to say this (due to partially agreeing with you), but you really need to silence yourself on the topic. When you respond to people who say such seemingly innocent (but still annoying, sorry Colin) phrases, you are the one who is in the wrong.

    Making such comments (especially in an online community such as this), as immature as it is, is a practice done mainly to elicit a reaction. Responding to such comments is often frowned upon, not only does it frequently waste more time and breath to make such responses than the original statement, but because the reaction is almost always exactly what the one who originally made the statement wanted, as Colin so eagerly pointed out here (“somebody has noticed me posting and started talking about it!”).

    The practice of making such comments to elicit reactions on online communities is known as ‘trolling’, and the ‘troll’ is almost never the one accused due to the innocent demeanor of the comment (unless the community is horribly elitist).

    On a separate page of this situation, as hypocritical as this may sound, I tire of people who are so offended by that which is different that they will go to great lengths to either insult said different person or talk behind their backs at any given opportunity. Go ahead, hate him, sure, but leave everyone else out of it.

    In short, and to use an overused acronym: YHBT. YHL. HAND.

    And now for something completely different. *shot by DM for MP reference*

    I think my favorite part about this strip is the fact that I’ve done such things to get out of a BS situation imposed by the DM. No matter how logical they’re talking, if they’re being irrational with the punishment or order, counter with illogical arguments in a logical pattern. You’ll anger them to the point where they just throw their hands up in defeat and say “WHATEVER!” You teach them a bit on why not to power trip, and get your way too. :3

    But wait, it gets better. If they try to salvage their side of it and throw another wrench at you (to “bite you in the rear later” so to speak), you can point out that they’re taking a personal vendetta out in the game, something that they themselves are the ones who usually say is absolutely not allowed.

    Of course, if it ever gets that far, be ready to find a new DM. You might lose whatever loose ties of friendship you have with this one. :P

  104. roxysteve says:

    [Miles] I couldn’t understand your acronym (although it isn’t really an acronym unless it spells another word: what you typed is properly called “initial slang”. OSIT). I guess, for me, YHBT. YHL. HAND. is the new “pimp!“.

    Seriously: If Colin can post single word posts that have no actual commentary value either to the comic or to the various threads underway in the comments section, then why are the “first post” posters banned by official fiet? There is no difference between them really (apart from everyone being able to understand the “first post” posts and not having to have them translated for them to make any kind of sense).



  105. Miles Tormani says:

    I find the ‘first post’ fiasco to be about the same as the ‘Pimp!’ thing. Sure, it’s annoying sometimes, but all the people getting upset about it and making much longer comments than ‘lawl frst pozt’ tends to be more annoying. :\

    Anyway, due to the length of my own post, that’s where the ‘I am a hypocrite’ part of my own statement comes in (especially since the whole thing was pretty much exactly what I was trying to say shouldn’t happen). I just think people need to calm down about both issues, really.

    I’m really sorry for whatever ‘angry’ air I gave off with my previous post, and I promise it’ll be the last one on the subject.

  106. Daza says:

    first time posting. i love these comics! this was one of my favs – i’ve had similar arguments with my DMs. :o)

    one solution I use is to play a rather ascetic monk, who moves faster (eventually) than a horse anyway. bag of holding for my gold and rations, and that’s about it. in 3ed boots and striding and springing were awesome, doubling move speed, until my DM got pissed that I essentially would run back and forth scouting terrain and outrunning any problems. he had a *stupid* ethereal filcher take the things. only those. no one else was bothered. the creature disappeared. goners. sigh. he was always pretty good at fixing unbalancing problems. 3.5ed boots were fixed too, sigh…

  107. Marty says:

    Yes, “pimp” is stupid slang, but as with language in any decade, words change meaning as slang evolves.

    In this case, the “Pimp My Ride” meaning of the word is what is intended… I.E.- make it awesome.

    I agree that it’s stupid, and I also hate the word “blog”, but it sure isn’t going away anytime soon. Best to just ignore it and hope that it fizizzles out.

    (See what I did there?) :)

  108. brassbaboon says:

    I remain amazed at how much conflict there seems to be between DMs and players. I’ve really never experienced that. All of my campaigns, both those I have run, and those that I have played in, have all been joint efforts to have fun and play the game as much by the rules as possible. What efforts there have been to confound either DM or player have been strictly done in fun and have been received that way. When I read about players slashing tires because a character died, or a character in tears because a mount has died, I have to shake my head and wonder whether some people should stick to playing cards.

    What I like about this strip is not so much that it captures the inherent animosity of DM vs. player (because I haven’t experienced it that much) as that it frequently captures the dynamics of the game play where players routinely metagame situations to the point of reducing their own capacity for enjoyment of the game. When that happens in one of my campaigns I always ask the player “are you playing the game now? Or gaming the play? It’s a lot more fun to play the game.” Usually that gets a chuckle and the player gets back into character enough to stop perusing the monster manual or the treasure tables in the DM’s guide.

    I wonder if there is a way to take some sort of poll of RPG-ers to find out how many have experienced such direct player-DM conflict. I hope I never run into it.

  109. Jeremy says:

    On the subject of horses: Once, my friends and I were doing a pirate themed campaign. We got a cart ride around a port town that was rather large, just so we could better explain our rapid travel everywhere (usually consisting of “soo…we’re there.”). In the twists and turns of events, due to events that aren’t our fault (debatable) the driver was killed while we hid in the back. The cart then became loot. At one point, we nearly the convinced the DM to let us bring it onboard our ship. Nearly giving in, he asked us why we wanted to. We responded “well, see, we want to build this ramp and use it as a launching point for boarding parties.” Soon after, we were all killed for speaking insolenlty to a ship’s captain armed with a lightning bolt ballistae.

  110. Jindra34 says:

    Jeremy: who had the ballistae?

  111. Robert says:

    I play a Halfling Druid, mounted on a Riding Dog with 2 Guard dogs (only 25gp each) as pack animals, and they’ll fight for me. I’ve taken Combat Reflexes so that my dog Trips them and I take all those extra attacks against the foe trying to stand, or the +4 to hit.

    And the dogs can follow me into dungeons so I don’t have to leave them behind, a simple rope harness can lower or raise them to areas.

    And you can ride them all day at full gallop, they eat the dead foes, they carry a hefty weight because they’re quadrupeds. They overcome the Halfling reduced speed. Such a sweet, sweet option.

    1. WJS says:

      I smell rules abuse. All what attacks against an enemy getting up? You only get one AoO at once. And a full day’s gallop?!? You’re kidding, right? Forcing a mount to hustle for eight hours deals 127 points of damage. Riding dogs have 13 hp. You do the math.

  112. paw says:

    There was an interesting discussion on Usenet a long time ago about what people look for in a game; the results were written up into a document called the Threefold Model (link to a summary:

    This basically suggests that there are three main ways in which most people get enjoyment from a game. None is better than any of the others, they all have their place:

    Dramatist people concentrate primarily on storylines and/or on maintaining a mood or setting.

    Gamist people concentrate primarily on providing challenges for the player (as opposed to the characters they play).

    Simulationist people concentrate primarily on making a consistent game world in which things happen by cause and effect rather then dramatic license.

    These were not meant to be exclusive (there are many other models out there) and people don’t belong to only one category (most players and games emphasise all three categories at different times). This works
    best when used as a discussion-starter to find out what a group expects from a game, rather than as a way of pigeon-holeing games into categories.

    A couple of examples of how these can cause conflict:
    A dramatist may want to change their character’s back-story or change a character’s stats to make him a better fit in the campaign; a GM may want to add a secret plot twist to the character’s back-story that the player only finds out about in-game. Other gamists/simulationists may consider this “cheating”.

    If you come across a locked door that can’t be forced open, burned down, dug under, routed around, blown up or avoided, but can only be opened by solving a riddle, you have a gamist GM. This can infuriate non-Gamist players. In the same vein, saying “I’m hopeless at riddles, but my character has Wordplay: 6, so I’ll roll to see if I can open it.” will irritate a gamist GM who may have spent the bulk of their prep-time devising the riddle.

    I think most of the arguments I’ve seen have been due to someone who has grown up in one basic category and thinks that it is the only way to play, suddenly coming into contact with another person who has grown up with other expectations, so now when I see these types of argument brewing I tend to email this to the people involved. For a
    few minutes amusement, try going back over this excellent web comic and seeing which “mode” the GM and players are in at each time –just like real gaming sessions, they are not always consistent.

    Apologies if this has been mentioned before.

  113. Dean Steinlage says:

    I remember a character who gave a small part of his treasure to a charity and toppled a countries economy.

  114. Jindra34 says:

    Dean: Some one figured out that for the treasure tables in the DMs guide to be accurate some rediculuos percent of the money would have to be out in the hands of monsters… and i think the person figured out that 1% of a 15th level parties treasure would wreck a nation’s economy.

  115. Zippy Wonderdog says:

    Hmm brings to m ind a player that was in a campaign with me, he looked at the list of weapons and equipment and basicly said “I’ll have one of each”.
    Oh did I mention he was a halfling with above average strength?

  116. Mitey Heroes says:

    “Players tend to treat horses like motorcycles: They are vehicles which can go anywhere you can walk, will never wander off, have no fear, feel no pain, and can travel at top speed for as long as you like.”

    That’s mistreatment for a motorbike, let alone a horse!

  117. Scarlet Knight says:

    Paw, that was interesting. I have had discussions like that in the past, but it was never in print (I called the categories: actors, soldiers, historians).
    What players prefer often bleeds into “what is best”. Conflict comes not because multiple styles may play in one game, but the individual tolerances of each player vary. Hence Dave’s famous line : “Who let the role-player into the group!” (Get’s my vote for DMOTR’s top ten!)

  118. roxysteve says:

    Marty Says:
    Yes, “pimp” is stupid slang, but as with language in any decade, words change meaning as slang evolves.

    In this case, the “Pimp My Ride” meaning of the word is what is intended… I.E.- make it awesome.

    But…Colin’s post dosen’t make sense even more in that case. Even with slang, English-speakers require a subject/transitive verb/object structure.

    By this etymology, and interpolating “understood speech” to fill in the missing bits, Colin is actually saying ” [Shamus, you must] make awsome (some unspecified thing but presumably the webcomic which is somehow falling short in my estimation)!.

    Slang is like jazz: it has to be structured. You can’t just say/play anything, or you end up making “gibberish”. It all comes down to that whole “meaning/saying” thing Alice had out with the Mad Hatter and Co.


    (Smiling big when I wrote this).

  119. roxysteve says:

    [everybody] Anyway, King Aragormless has called for an all-hands-to-the-pumps, all-out, no-holds-barred, full-monty attack against Castle Mordor.

    “Let’s Ride!”

    Last one to the Black Gates of Mordor doesn’t end up hollowed out and used for a goblin’s jack-o-lantern.


  120. Scarlet Knight says:

    “Last one to the Black Gates of Mordor doesn't end up hollowed out and used for a goblin's jack-o-lantern.”

    Somehow, I figure that’s more likely to be the fate of the FIRST one to the Black Gate…

  121. Marty says:


    Trying to get word-nerdy all up in the hizouse? :)

    “Pimp” is like one of those slang words that can be used in multiple forms (noun, verb, adjective).

    So if you say “Pimp my _____ “, you’re saying “make it cool”, but if you just say “Pimp!”, you just saying “Cool!”… or “That’s so pimp” == “That’s so cool”…(or awesome or whatever). In one case it’s a command verb, and in another an adjective (or adverb possibly).

    In a way, that makes it similar to our more vulgar slang like s**t and f**k in that you can also use them as a verb, adjective, adverb, etc.

    On an unrelated note, I stumbled across this link and it struck me as an oddly funny twist on the English language:

  122. Kortir says:

    One time we managed (through a rather broken-to-horrible-extents character in particular) to slay a patrol of 80 NPCs wearing full plate mail and riding warhorses. Following this most broken battle was the argument in which I talked the party and the DM into letting us lash the horses together (hey, between 80 people they have to have enough rope) and loot the corpses, stashing everything in the saddlebags, so we could bring the entire stash back to town to sell. Between that and our negotiating character just happening to roll a natural 20 on his charisma roll, we sold the entire lot (minus a few choice pieces we liked) for something like 100,000 gold. We seriously contemplated retirement after that one, but the DM wouldn’t go for it. Nor the castle I tried to buy.

  123. Patrick says:

    Re: Pimp!

    Language is fluid. It changes and modifies through its usage. A word that once meant one thing a thousand years ago can mean something different today. Thanks to the internet, language is changing even more rapidly now. To say that a word has one finite definition and this can never be altered is to not only be obtuse, but is also a denial of reality.

    Since 2004, MTV has been airing a show entitled Pimp My Ride! which could actually be why the word “pimp” is becoming more associated with ostentatiousness or awesomeness than with philandering or managing prostitutes.

    For another example of semantic change in language, check out this link:
    The English word “nice” is often cited as an example of extreme semantic shift, having been borrowed from the Old French word “nice”, meaning “silly” or “foolish”, which was in turn from the Latin “nescius”, meaning “ignorant”. The word changed from “silly, foolish” to “timid” to “fussy, fastidious” to “dainty, delicate” to “precise, careful” to “agreeable, delightful” and finally to “kind, thoughtful”.

    But I’m also inclined to support Colin, because he is pimp!

  124. EezaK says:

    one of the funniest ones yet!

  125. Arcticwolf says:

    Only just got introduced to this comic by a friend, and for the last couple of hours have done nothing but read page after hilarious page. Seeing as it is now 3am where I am, I feel I will not be sleeping tonight.

    Now, on the point of characters always find ways of storing possessions: One campaign I ran we invited a few friends who had never played D&D but were interested. One of the poor saps was a bit slow of thought, and proceeded to tell us all he had a “Folding Broadsword” that he could just fold up and put in his pocket. Then when his lvl 10 warrior fell of a cart and sustained 2 whole damage, he started saying “I need healing” which kept the rest of us in hysterics for many sessions to come. Sadly he did not return for subsequent gaming nights.

  126. yo go re says:

    Our DM took pity on a bunch on lowly newbies (ie, pretty much everyone in this particular game) by doling out the magical weapons early and often in our first few adventures. In most cases, it was obvious what was intended to go to whom – if you have a magical device that is activated by speaking Celestial and only one PC speaks it, he gets the item.

    Anyway, that’s a fine system, except for the last thing he gave us, which no one wants. We talked about selling it, and (IC) a character told us a horror story about what would happen if it fell into the wrong hands while (OOC) he “casually” mentioned how this was the first magical device he created, and was so excited to finally give it to us, and how it was supposed to fill a specific need on our team. Translation? We’re now stuck with the magical sword that nobody wants.

    I’ve got it stored in my saddlebag, so the commentary under this strip made me smile.

    1. WJS says:

      If you have a magic weapon that you can’t use but must be kept out of a bad guy’s hands, I’m pretty sure established precedent is to drop it into a volcano…

  127. Panther says:

    I loved the reference to Riverdale (instead of Rivendale; next he’ll be calling Arwen and Galadriel Betty and Veronica). Best laugh in the whole strip!

  128. other says:

    I have all my players keep their possesions on 3×5 notecards, if they have an item with them it goes in an envelope with their charactors name on it. That way there is no dispute over what they have with them.

  129. DnD n00b says:

    Perhaps this is 129 comments too late, but don’t the Horse F-ckers have any to spare?

  130. DnD n00b says:

    Uh, horses, that is.

  131. Magnus says:

    I’ve been told by a DM (and the rest of the group) that a few seconds in near-freezing water paralyzes and kills you. Having bathed in such conditions, that was news to me… (Actually, you can probably survive for at least an hour or so in icy water.)

    And speaking of which: The cold/heat rules in D&D 3 are utterly silly. A character can take a few blows to the head from a heavy hammer, but after a few minutes in a sauna he would be dead as a doornail.

  132. Magnus says:

    The previous message was meant to quote this:

    Aside: I once got flamed on the WotC boards for suggesting that a person would move slower through shin-deep mud than a horse would. I was told that deep mud kills horses; having grown up in a rural area, this was news to me.

  133. Toil3T says:

    I’m still laughing.

  134. Cynder says:

    1. “Riverdale? Far more likely he left his pants in Edoras…”

    What, you mean when he was busy taking care of Eowyn? Oh gee, he’s NEVER gunna live that one down XD

  135. Filcha says:

    All I can say is… SO TRUE!!!!

  136. bernwald says:

    I once concocted the idea of a “copper” dragon. The idea being that I could use any sort of dragon (or dragon like) creature and have it named that because of its preference for copper as opposed to gold. The party failed to learn this prior to “getting to know it better” and so was left with a randomly rolled dragon horde converted to 100% copper. After much pain and anguish they decided to set up a small smelting operation and over several years to bring it out as copper bullion at a bulk metal price. Much fun was had by me.

  137. Mina says:

    L – O – L

  138. Technogrrrl says:

    We used leather bags for the most amazing things during our last campaign. In one case, we had to cross a cavern with a waterfall that raised a mist which sapped the life out of our 2 MU’s when they made contact with it. So, we sealed them up in large leather sacks that were soaked in oil and sealed with melted wax, then hauled them across to safety. We like to call it “bag-tech.”

    Our DM’s frustration was palpable. I’m surprised rocks didn’t fall.

  139. Technogrrrl says:

    Oh, and you rock by the way! I’ve spent many hours here this week, cracking up.

  140. GTStar says:

    Wow, my new favorite *LOL*

  141. dyrnwyn says:

    I know players who put their horses in their packs!!! (I am totally not kidding.)

  142. Andrul says:

    I’ve actually had players tell me flat-out that I’m wrong to rule that horses have a hard time navigating down stone steps with right-angle turns. I guess my grampa was wrong when he’d tell me it’s a stupid risk.

  143. Bryan says:

    I once had a player in first edition (egads, am I that old?!?) who insisted that his 2,000 pounds of stuff would fit in his backpack, and since his strength was 18/00 he could carry it all. He actually once brought in an oversized (modern camping/hiking) backpack with lead weights in it to prove it. I let him carry his stuff, until they tried to swim across a river. “Everyone gets across safely except Alex, who is at the bottom trying to convince the river that he can carry 2,000 pounds in his backpack without sinking.” A good laugh was had by all, except the guy playing Alex, who finally begrudgingly gave up his backpack with all the stuff inside in order to keep living.

    And at the very next town he wanted to sell the stuff in his backpack… :-)

    1. WJS says:

      If you’re talking gold, then a ton of the stuff would take up a little over 50 litres. That’s within the realm of possibility for a large pack, yeah. If you’re talking miscellaneous equipment, not a chance. A ton of wood, for example, would fill a cube over a metre on each side (~1000l), with a ton of steel taking up a cube about half that on each side (~150l). A quick internet search finds packs ranging up to about 100l for the largest models, all of which are considerably larger and heavier than the PHB backpack (2lb vs ~5lb).

  144. Damien says:

    Probably not the point, but wouldn’t the horses have kinda slid down in the giant skullball machine?

  145. ERROR says:

    I don’t know about Aragorn, but Gimli brought up Aragorn’s pants once. “Should they have stayed any longer, they would have swindled you out of your own pants.”
    Or something like that.

    Oh, and what about the backpack that Gimli said that Aragorn didn’t ever mention, and yet still had?

  146. serenitybane says:

    The last frame was awesome! The DM got hit hard by the smarts of the PC :)

  147. Al Harron says:

    May be two years late, but I can’t let this slide.

    “The worst example of this I can think of came in one of Robert E. Howard's Conan stories (don't ask why I was reading these. Also, never mention “mighty thews” to me again. Ever)”

    There is exactly one incidence of the phrase “mighty thews” in all of REH’s Conan stories, it occurs in “The Black Stranger”. It doesn’t even describe Conan, but the pirate Strom. Sure he mentions “mighty” and “thews” in different occasions, but nowhere near the regularity you imply.

    Also, I smart at the implication that Howard is in any way not worth reading, and that you were somehow forced by circumstance into reading them.

    “in which a naked woman runs out of a tent, jumps onto a nearby horse, rides it at a gallop BAREBACK for several hours, falls off, and is apparently still in shape to be ravished. ”

    There’s no indication Livia’s in any shape to be ravished, unless you think absence of evidence of Livia’s sores and exhaustion equals evidence of absence.

    “The visualizations alone made me walk with my legs crossed for days, but apparently Howard had never sat on a horsehair couch….”

    He didn’t, but he DID have a horse, and was a fairly accomplished horseman. The idea that Howard somehow thought riding a horse naked and bareback for hours was some sort of oversight doesn’t square with what we know of REH and his meticulous attention to detail.

    Also, it’s unfair to judge him based on an unpublished, unfinished story which was never intended to see the light of day in its present state: for all we know, he could’ve added such details in afterwards. Howard often wrote multiple drafts of his stories: only one exists for “The Vale of Lost Women”, and it’s painfully obvious that it’s a first draft.

  148. Trick says:

    Inventories… Sigh.
    I once was an NPC in a LARP, and one of the PCs tried to ask how many javelins he could fit in his inventory…

  149. silver Harloe says:

    > Did Aragorn just used logic?? 0.o. I'm shocked Shamus! You should know better than to have him use logic!

    Um. But he’s a player. His Logic stat (Star Frontiers FTW) goes up when it benefits him, down when it benefits the plot.

    > Now I run rather than play games, I've found a method that doesn't involve so many numbers for working out encumbrance. I've printed up a ton of equipment cards for common items (and a few rare ones). Large/heavy items are printed on thick card, random treasures on cheap cardstock, and potions/rings/scrolls on paper. Each player has an envelope. The rule is, if you can get it in the envelope, you can carry it. Backpacks and mules get different sized envelopes, and some larger items have larger cards (or vice-versa)

    One of the more awesome (pimp?) things I’ve read in comments here yet. Now I know what to do with my legos(*) (I have a metric buttload of “old” legos from back when you could use them to make something besides the box suggestion because the pieces had a pleasant genericity about them) – make little models of ‘stuff’ and give players boxes representing their various packs.

    (*) by which I mean, of course, all my “Lego brand building blocks”. yah.

  150. Sonic says:

    That may have been the longest buildup with the most unexpected punchline I’ve ever read. I loved it.

  151. Aleks` says:

    This reminds me of a session in my current game. The players had just killed a witch who lived far off in the woods, and found out that she had been cursed to live forever. Hundreds of years of living in seclusion had driven her mad. In a moment of clarity before her death she begged the PC’s to bury her in a coffin she had built, which they found out was magical, and prevented whoever was buried in it from being resurrected. Well, long story short, the PC’s chucked her over a cliff, and tried to haul this big coffin through miles of woods (because “we could trap a vampire or something in here!”). When confronted by a situation where they had to leave the coffin, they refused to move forward until I threw a random NPC at them who could take care of their loot while they were gone.

  152. wendypoos says:

    you should see how we abuse bags of holding, i think i have my house in mine

  153. Anonymous says:

    Asking questions are truly pleasant thing if you are not understanding something fully,
    but this piece of writing presents nice understanding even.

  154. WJS says:

    I would have pointed out that he wears his sword and his pants. He doesn’t wear a horse, and they are therefore much easier to mislay. If you forget about your pants for a few hours, you will still be wearing them when you remember them again (who sits there thinking about their pants, anyway?). If you forget about a horse for a few hours, it will be long gone by the time you backtrack to where you last saw it.

    1. James Harrison will taste Manflesh says:

      Fat people think about their pants. One of the things I hate most about work is having to wear pants, and one of the best parts of quittin’ time at work is being able to go home and take them off. When you’re fat, pants are just the worst. People who are suited for a colder climate than they live in also think about their pants. I actually hated pants even before I got fat, just because they’re so warm. I just didn’t hate them as much as I do now.

  155. James Harrison will taste Manflesh says:

    The part of this strip that made me laugh wasn’t horses or pants or anything else directly referenced by the strip. It was imagining this whole thing from an NPC’s point of view. As a player, your goal some objective measure of success, and very commonly that success is measured in XP and loot. So Aragorn’s player is completely rational if we think of him as someone playing a game.

    But imagine it from an in-universe POV like an NPC would see it: this guy obtained armor and weapons from the last kingdom he visited under what one might call a flimsy pretext. Then, he loaded his horse up with all this stuff, and brought it to this new kingdom, which he is now king of, just to sell it to one of his subjects to turn what, next to the wealth of a kingdom, is a piddling little amount of profit. It’s undignified almost to the point of being obscene. It’s also, in my opinion, hilarious.

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