DM of the Rings CXXXVI:
Knock, Knock

By Shamus Posted Friday Aug 17, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 181 comments


Knocking is a terrible way to begin an invasion.

Gimli points out a flaw in the versimilitude of the world.

To be fair, I think Gimli is pointing out a problem with the original work: How did all those orcs get enough food to live? I’m having trouble picturing an orcish farm, much less orcs producing all the accoutrements needed to run one. Both the book and the movie depict orcs with their own bread. Can you imagine an orcish miller? An orcish milkmaid? An orcish baker, complete with apron and poofy chef’s hat? Imagine a couple of orcs side-by-side in front of a farm American Gothic style.

Kind of daft, innit?

 


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181 thoughts on “DM of the Rings CXXXVI:
Knock, Knock

  1. Jindra34 says:

    I can imagine all those things though they are quite funny looking.

  2. Zarr says:

    The food came from south, the taxed lands. Frodo and Sam ponder the same question – “where do these orcs get stuff to eat” when they go around Mordor. On those same pages narrator says something “Little did F&S know about the huge swathes of vassal states to the south”…or something like that.

    1. Old Gumphrey says:

      Yup. Also, orcs and goblins cannibalize for fun and profit.

  3. Nathan M. says:

    Perhaps the orc’s’ food was created by some kind of magic…?

  4. FS says:

    Sauron used slaves to grow food in the southern part of Mordor. From the Wikipedia article:

    In the north of Mordor during the War of the Ring were the great garrisons and forges of war, while surrounding the bitter inland Sea of Nàºrnen to the south lay the vast fields tended for the provision of the armies by hordes of slaves brought in from lands to the east and south.

  5. roxysteve says:

    As the Blackadder said: “They are forced to have children just so they can have an afordable alternative to turkey at Christmas”

    Splendid, as usual.

    Steve.

  6. angora says:

    If I remember correctly, the books talks about huge fields worked by slaves, somewhere in the south.

    The screencap of Legolas smug face is great. :)

  7. drew says:

    Wow. I hadn’t noticed that before. You know, players point out the weirdest flaws.
    Orcs must have bakers.
    Just remember, they are Evil bakers… mwahaha.

  8. asterismW says:

    Mad props for Aragorn’s expressions in panels 4 and 8, and Leggy’s expression in 10. Classic!

  9. MOM says:

    There was clear reference to the southern realms(south of Mordor) where Sauron held sway and people served Sauron. Goods were brought to Mordor from those lands. From memory I recall reference to the land of Harad.
    These people were under his spell. There was a battle between these people and Faramir’s Company in Ithilien. Sam watched part of the battle and saw an oliphant. It was his first look at battle between men.

  10. scldragonfish says:

    Actually, I have that kind of imagination, thus extreme laughter,thank you shamus.

    Black orc in chef’s regalia, with A high born english accent (think oliver twist).

    “Sir can I get you anything else for your Mercenary guard”.

    (growls)

    “Certainly, a baker’s dozen of mint chocolate chip muffins.”

    I think I just make myself hungry.

  11. roxysteve says:

    How lucky that Middle Earthian plate tectonics produce such unlikely collision zones and wall off Mordor from the rest of the world like that.

    Stupid Gandalf. Why on (middle) earth didn’t he tell the fellowship to thwart these mighty natural defenses, avoid both the Black Gate *and* Minas Morgul and simply go ’round the back where there aren’t any mountains?

    Tsk!

    Steve.

  12. Kaz says:

    “Certainly, a baker's dozen of mint chocolate chip muffins.”

    Thank you, scldragonfish. You made my day.

  13. Nikle says:

    Par for the course, beautiful!

  14. Sewerman says:

    roxysteve:

    I am going to assume that you were sarcastic :) And not mention the fact that those mountains stretched about 500 miles or so- mostly wasteland…

    So our intrepid army would march 500 miles east, hit the end of the mountains, then march close to 500 miles back- a bit extreme, wot?

  15. Arbaal says:

    The end draws nigh, yet no sign of Frodo or Samwise and the destruction of the ring. I have to say it will sadden me to see the end, but I do hope you move on with another movie to spoof…

  16. Sunhawk says:

    Actually, I’m pretty sure the mountains surrounding Mordor aren’t entirely ‘natural’. Melkor’s natural domain was places of violence (including tectonic violence), and Sauron originally served under Aule, whose domain was the matter of Middle-Earth.

  17. Cenobite says:

    Orcs eat each other.

    “Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys!”

  18. Berowne says:

    Amateurs study tactics; practitioners study operations; professionals study logistics; geniuses study assumptions.

    If you get a higher level wrong, you increase your difficulties by that many orders of magnitude.

  19. Benevolence says:

    You all know this comic is almost at it’s end? :( I can’t wait to see how the players react when Frodo gets all the credit for defeating Sauron. Talk about DM’s revenge.

  20. Morgainlafeye says:

    So, i beleive that you are all, in part, correct. Obviously, as more than one of you has pointed out, there is some form of food supplie to the south. Further, i’m pretty sure they hunt, although they say during this book – right before the whole “looks like meat’s back on the menu boys” bit, that they eat rations. I’ve always made the assumtion they the Orcs raided/hunted at least a small bit wile they were out.

    As for Sewerman’s point, I’m not exactly sure how much the actual characters would know about that. Gandalf might. Aragorn MIGHT, but i doubt it. So, if during a campain my DM said “the door will not open” with the stop-being-dumb look on his/her face…i would definatly try to find another way around. However, if us as readers were reading this point, well than, we can just flip to the front of the book and use that conviant little map. Or go back through the book, wher we remember someone talking about Mordor, and try to find something there.

  21. Al Shiney says:

    At the risk of sounding like a complete geek (as if that is a problem here), I point out that the whole purpose for Gandalf’s attack on the black gate was to draw the Eye of Sauron away from Mount Doom, Frodo & Sam, and The Ring. That’s why there was the dramatic “eyeball roll” and Nazgul recall when Frodo claimed it for his own in such a precarious place.

    Hence, “going around the back” wouldn’t have even been considered a valid option, even if it were possible, which it wasn’t.

  22. Talchas says:

    An orcish farmer: Orcish Farmer

  23. Sewerman says:

    Ah- but thats GANDALF’s purpose… Stareagorn’s purpose is to hammer on him until he cries like a little baby :) (4? strips ago)..

    Of course, I don’t know what point I just argued… but the Knock,Knock worked, didn’t it?

  24. Tom says:

    Remember that this entire operation was a feint and had no hope of succeeding by itself; they had to distract Sauron from the two little hobbits worming their way into the heart of his land, and needed to do so immediately. The whole point was to convince Sauron that one of the captains of the free peoples had the Ring and intended to keep it, and the best way to do that was to brazenly call out the Dark Lord before the Black Gate itself. They didn’t have time to go around the mountains, and even if they had it would have been counter-productive.

    Remember also that even if this had not been their intent, regardless of the Ring, they could not defeat Sauron by military force. Sauron forces were overwhelming.

  25. Stephan says:

    Well… not that strange. Just think of Warcraft 2!

  26. Eric the vengeful says:

    Dude your mom’s totally right. that’s also where their ships came from when aragorn took them with the dead.

  27. John Marley says:

    I think Sauron probably kept slaves for farming and drudge work.

  28. DoveArrow says:

    “Orcs eat each other.”

    My biology teacher from high school said vertebrates usually only retain 10% of the energy in the food that they consume, while the rest goes to waste. Therefore, if orcs only eat each other, eventually, they’re eventually going to run out of consumable energy. Of course, this was from an American high school teacher, so who knows how accurate it is. Still, I thought it was worth mentioning.

    You know, I probably way overanalyzed a statement that was really only meant as a joke, thus ruining the humor factor of said statement. RIGHTEOUS!!!

  29. Tim says:

    @DaveArrow: Your teacher was probably right (ANOTHER reason why the movie “the Matrix” SUCKED), but come on guys, HOW OFTEN WERE THOSE FIELDS OF NURN MENTIONED NOW?
    AND the vassal states of Mordor, of course.

    As for the convenient mountains of Mordor, well, as was said, we are talking about a world were deity-like beings are shaping the land as they want it to be…

    1. Chessmaster says:

      While it’s true that in the Matrix humans would make shitty batteries, that also wasn’t the original backstory. As I understand it, The machines intended to use human brains as processors, as they were still massively beyond anything that could be replicated with technology. But the producers thought this idea was too techy/complicated for the average viewer to wrap their head around, so they dumbed it down to what you get in the movies.

  30. Rick says:

    “Looks like meat's back on the menu, boys!”

    I wonder how orcs knew what a menu was? Were there orcish restaurants as well?

    1. WJS says:

      Why shouldn’t there be? Maybe not fancy upscale places, sure, but I can totally see an orcish greasy spoon or diner. (Adjusted for period, of course)

  31. Morgainlafeye says:

    Well, i’m lazy, as such, do any of you guys remember the DM saying that Aragon and the gang were only going as a distraction? I don’t remember it. I remmeber it in the book – of course. But i don’t remember the DM mentioning that rather importent fact to the adventures in this comic strip.

  32. Falafel says:

    wasn’t it aragorns idea?

  33. Tola says:

    Gandalf tried to mention it in the previous strip. He was countermanded by Aragorn, who had….the same plan in different words. Read it again.

    What do Orcs eat? Man-flesh(Or Elf-flesh, or dwarf-flesh) is a delicacy, but they DO have farms. There’s a massive inland sea in Mordor, and surrounding it are the lands of Nurn, where humans constantly work the land to keep the war machune going.

  34. txknight says:

    Hmmmm… Maybe they got food ala Warcraft II style. You know, get a super talented grunt to build an entire pig farm, complete with pigs, in less than 30 seconds. :-)

  35. RogerR says:

    More analytic drivel.

    Recall from The Silmarillion; the Misty Mountains themselves were raised by Melkor (Morgoth) to guard the rear flank of Angband and Thangdordrim. Beleriand was the obvious frontal assault point as the Elves barely left Beleriand & the Valar would approach from the West. It isn’t far out of line to think of the Mountains of Shadow as another ‘convenient terrafom’, though this implies Morgoth did it. How’s that for foresight?

    On another note: Not far from Rohan, and just North of the Dead Marshes, are the Wastes of Rhun and Harad, subject kingdoms to Sauron’s rule. These are probably a lot like the American Mid West,which was once called the Great American Desert mostly because there were no trees… Boromir’s famous horn was a prize from a huge bull (Tolkein called them kine) from this very area. This makes Rhun and Harad the stockyards of Mordor.

  36. elda says:

    great comic. i love (i know this has been said before) leggy’s smug face in pannel 10 (i think it was ten…)

    i got confused yesterday and thought it was friday. i was very dissapointed when there was no new dmotr until someone told me what day it was. *sigh*

  37. Scarlet Knight says:

    drew Says:Orcs must have bakers.
    Just remember, they are Evil bakers…

    I can imagine them singing: “Four & twenty hobbits, baked in a pie” Hence the warning in the movie that “These are NOT for eating!”

    Also,remember that this is D&D. Sauron has trolls. Simply line up the bakers, slice up some troll, bake slices in a pie for the orc troops, & by lunchtime the next day the troll will have grown back his “donated” limb!

  38. Drezta says:

    naa its just proof that Tolken was the original lazy DM because srsly how many DMs here enforce the food rules?

  39. Dan says:

    “Come on you losers! Hand over Sauron!”

    A phrase more antithetical to the spirit of Tolkien was never spoke.

    Er, wrote.

    Er…wrote as spoke.

    [Man, oh man, I can almost see the players rubbing their hands at the prospect of going mano a mano with some big, armored warrior wizard to finish the campaign. This is going to suck so bad for them!]

  40. James says:

    As somebody pointed out above, look at Warcraft — orcish farmers abound. They mostly slaughter pigs, IIRC. Also, look at the LotR strategy games for 360 or PC — the Mordor side runs farms and slaughterhouses.

    Also, there’s a game coming out, Dungeon Hero, that’s going to focus on the day-to-day life of dungeon dwellers, especially goblins, orcs, etc. They hold all sorts of occupations. Have a look at http://www.xbox360fanboy.com/2007/06/08/dungeon-hero-brings-subterranean-life-to-360/

    1. WJS says:

      In case anyone else is passing through, don’t get your hopes up; it was canceled.

  41. Little Gen says:

    As everybody said. About the screencaps, and Lake Nàºrnen, and all.

    Somehow, for me it’s ever been hardest to imagine a female orc… but maybe it’s just me. ;D

  42. Lynx says:

    Rick Says:
    August 17th, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    “Looks like meat's back on the menu, boys!”

    I wonder how orcs knew what a menu was? Were there orcish restaurants as well?


    Probably Orcish bars. Though, IIRC, the movie version was more of an Orc eating a Goblin.

  43. RibbitRibbit says:

    Not only do they win by starving them all to death, but – check this – as they’ve defeated the entire army of Mordor, they get ALL THE XP for it. Sauron included.

    Shamus, you might have missed this point. Or you just didn’t manage to find a frame where the look on Lego-ass’ face was THAT smug.

  44. xbolt says:

    “Knock knock, who’s there? ME! ME ME ME ME ME!”

  45. Robert De Neo says:

    Wait…did someone say “The Matrix” sucked?
    bwa?

  46. Dralasite says:

    The PCs won’t get any xp for killing Sauron and his army: we all know that some hobbit kill-stealers will snuff Big Red Eye and his whole army before they get the chance to kill any orc…
    Technically, they shouldn’t even get any XP at all for defeating Sauron…

    I can imagine how the player will be pissed: “weeks of playing this bloody campaign and when we finally reach the end-level boss, he and his whole army dies of an heart attack because of some NPCs we don’t even remember??? What kind of campaign is this?”

  47. SteveDJ says:

    Soylent Green is Orcs!!! :)

  48. Ceomyr says:

    Too bad they didn’t take their army by fleet to the south end of Mordor then and be in position to attack Farrad, move into Mordor, or starve them out.

    Not that it mattered anyway since either way Sauron’s forces were overwhelmingly huge and would surround and start crushing Aragorn’s army anyway.

    I guess they reasoned that Sauron would have to be an idiot not to take advantage of the stupid situation they were putting themselves into. The gambit worked because of the hobbits, and this great risk taken to keep Sauron distracted, but this easily could have been a horrible, horrible move.

    Because, “gee I hope the hobbits destroy the ring this afternoon and thats the end of all this evil, cause in another hour we’ll all be orc food. If those two hobbits fell or got lost, or took a break, I guess Sauron will kill us, and then he’ll go back to keeping a lookout for the ring.”

  49. roxysteve says:

    Sewerman Says:
    So our intrepid army would march 500 miles east, hit the end of the mountains, then march close to 500 miles back- a bit extreme, wot?

    Pah! A mere bagatelle to someone who can ride three days out, turn round, ride three days back, heal three people, ride three days back again and still have the inner reserves to face the Might of King Mordor.

    Sunhawk Says:
    Actually, I'm pretty sure the mountains surrounding Mordor aren't entirely “˜natural'. Melkor's natural domain was places of violence (including tectonic violence), and Sauron originally served under Aule, whose domain was the matter of Middle-Earth.

    Even easier then. The entire army disbelieves these illusiory mountains. If that doesn’t work, they dispell them. If that doesn’t work Dumbledore can jolly well get busy with Mordenkainen’s Disjunction (the others will take cover behind some natural rocks while he does it).

    Al Shiney Says:
    At the risk of sounding like a complete geek (as if that is a problem here), I point out that the whole purpose for Gandalf's attack on the black gate was to draw the Eye of Sauron away from Mount Doom, Frodo & Sam, and The Ring. That's why there was the dramatic “eyeball roll” and Nazgul recall when Frodo claimed it for his own in such a precarious place.

    Hence, “going around the back” wouldn't have even been considered a valid option, even if it were possible, which it wasn't.

    NonononoNO! They go ’round the back from word one, adlepate! Dave, Sam, Aragormless, Frank, everybody. All round the back for a quick ring melting ceremony. None of this farting around in Ithilien or mooching in Moria. Get the Eagles (they’re between gigs at this point in time remember) to fly them over the mountains before that nitwit in a dress Saruman even knows they have the ring, nip ’round the back of Mordor while Sauron is still busy clicking on the “build orc” and “build troll” icons and the ring could’ve been melted down by page 350. 320 if they forego supper at that dingbat Tim Benzedrine’s pad.

    Worked for the Germans in ’39.

    Steve

    1. WJS says:

      “So we’re taking lessons from the losers now?” :P

      Disbelieving or dispelling the mountains is not going to work though. Stone Shape is an Instantaneous effect, as would any epic variations thereof.

  50. roxysteve says:

    Now I come to think of it, wouldn’t it be easier to get a bunch of clerics to “Poison” the water and food while it is in transit, and “Curse” the people and animals carrying it into the bargain?

    After all, there’re only two routes into Mordor (if you don’t count my brilliant and totally misunderstood “back door theory”), one of which is manifestly unsuitable to passage by oliphaunts and carts, it being narrow and infested with Nazgul. The vittles probablyt have to go in through the Black Gate, so the route is pretty easy to figure out and set up ambushes on.

    This King Mordor bloke doesn’t seem to have muchh on the ball. Luckily he is up against the equally braincell-challenged Aragormless.

    Steve

  51. roxysteve says:

    SteveDJ Says:
    Soylent Green is Orcs!!!

    You don’t wanna know what Soylent Red is made of.

    Steve.

  52. Black Hand says:

    Shamus said: “”Imagine a couple of orcs side-by-side in front of a farm American Gothic style. “”

    Looks to me you got your wish. A magic card has that exact image you were wondering about…Behold: the ORCISH SETTLERS!!

    http://www.evocacion.com/magic-the-gathering/vientoligero/mimg/colonos-orcos.jpg

  53. Scarlet Knight says:

    You want to distract Sauron? Recruit Moe of the 3 Stooges. Face it, what Sauron fears most is a poke in the eye! Nyuk Nyuk!

    Also , 100xp to Roxysteve for using “adlepate” in a sentence…

    And 200xp to SteveDJ for his “Soylent Green is Orcs!!! ” joke!

  54. Dopple says:

    he he! Nice comic strip Shamus! Very fun to read!

    Yea, this thread does kind of point out some failings in this whole story. How many here wondered why Gandalf did not enlist the help of the great eagles way sooner to ferry the ring (or a ring carrier) right up to Mount Doom?

  55. Zephyris says:

    [quote](Tolkein called them kine)[/quote]

    I should point out that “kine” is the actual name of that animal; “cow” and “cattle” are actually both generic words for livestock and thus technically are not inaccurate to use for sheep, pigs, and other livestock. So it’s no surprise that an English Language professor would display such pedantism ^_~

  56. James Blair says:

    Several reasons why the Eagle Plan might not work:

    1. Nobody there thought of it. They didn’t have ten million brains and an Internet to work out the details like we do. Among all of us, there are likely several people smarter than J.R.R. Tolkien on the subject, and thus would come up with a better plan than he or his “inner circle” could.

    2. The Eagles were very careful about doing things that might kill them. For instance, in the Hobbit Gandalf could not even convince the Eagles to do a quick fly over Mirkwood and drop everyone off at Lake Town! The Eagles expressed a fear of humans with bows. I imagine they’d be a bit more scared of Sauron (note the Eagles did NOT go in before Sauron was already defeated).

    3. Gandalf can only contact the Eagles when he’s in serious trouble. The few times the Eagles were available in the LoTR series, Gandalf generally didn’t even know where Frodo was (or was way too early to think of the Eagle Plan).

    4. Perhaps Someone Wise did think of it, and also thought of what the Ring might do if it were brought into its element suddenly rather than gradually. Whoever had the Ring at that point probably couldn’t drop it when the Eagle was in position.

    5. Sauron has a lot easier time spotting Eagles than, say, a pair of sneaking hobbits. Perhaps he had contingency plans in place for just such an occasion. Maybe he could shoot them down himself.

  57. KW says:

    Can’t open the Door? What? You mean, in all of that vast army from Minus Tirith, there’s not a single NPC with skill in ‘Open lock?’

    Sheesh.

  58. Sartorius says:

    Re: Why didn’t Gandalf just get the giant eagles to carry the Ringbearers to Mount Doom?

    Answer:

    Stealth. The point was to sneak in the Fellowship and have them quietly destroy the Ring, not come whizzing over the mountains riding a huge, attention-worthy creature. Which of the two do you think would have attracted the notice of the Eye, or the Enemy’s countless scouts, garrisons, marching armies, etc.?

    In modern times we tend to think of “flying in” as something on the order of hundreds of miles an hour. I’m not sure that a giant eagle could fly a whole lot faster than a galloping horse, giving sufficient time to raise the alarm in Mordor.

    Bonus answer: Flying Nazgul.

  59. oldschoolGM says:

    202053 48 Ceomyr Said:

    I guess they reasoned that Sauron would have to be an idiot not to take advantage of the stupid situation they were putting themselves into.

    More like they played on Sauron’s paranoia. Aragorn showed himself to Sauron in the palantir and stared him down. Then he united Man under his banner and got them to march against the Black Gate with a relatively tiny army. Sauron only understands evil and domination, so he figured to pull this off Aragorn had to have claimed and mastered the One Ring. So, he sent his army out to go get it.

    Oh, and I don’t have my books handy but I’m pretty sure I remember a passage where Tolkien says Sauron had “raised the Mountains of Shadow about his land in imitation of his former master’s raising of Utumno” or some such thing. And as has been pointed out, Sauron was originally a Maia of Aule, so he’d certainly know how to create real mountains from scratch, not illusory ones.

  60. Maverick says:

    ‘Excuse me mister sauron’ Oh dear, nice one shamus.

  61. GEBIV says:

    Um. Getting back to the idea of starving out Sauron’s forces, shouldn’t one point out that the besieging army (Stare-agorn’s) would have even less food? Unless they had a nicely vulnerable supply train following them, they weren’t going to be eating for very long either.

  62. brassbaboon says:

    More reasons not to fly eagles to Mordor to drop the ring in Mt. Doom:

    1. There was no open crater to drop it in. In both the book and movie Frodo had to enter a cave. Eagles don’t do well in caves.

    2. Eagles cannot fly forever and don’t carry spare fuel tanks on their wings. It’s a long way from Gondor to Mt. Doom. It is not likely they could fly the full distance without being spotted, and once spotted, they would likely have to stop and rest, and then they would be at the mercy of the numberless legions of Sauron.

    3. Sauron showed himself able to control winds and weather to a substantial extent. Upon seeing eagles attempting to fly into his domain, it is highly likely that he could create atmospheric conditions that could injure or kill the eagles, or at least drive them to ground where his minions could kill them.

    4. It didn’t advance the plot properly.

    My guess is that #4 was sufficient for Tolkien’s needs.

    1. WJS says:

      I love how everyone always counters the suggestion of eagles by saying they dare not enter Mordor. One would think they would realise that the bulk of the journey is not within Mordor. So they can’t take you to Mount Doom. Fine. Why exactly can’t they take you to the Dead Marshes? That would cut about 500 miles off your journey.

  63. Vicky W says:

    simple. Orcs eat meat. Sometimes they eat other orcs, sometimes they go out and hunt down other beings, and occasionally they eat the horses. Let’s see, Stare-agorn and his army are sitting out there. Supply trains are vulnerable. More evil armies are marching toward Mordor. Pick off a few of the army as they try to starve out the orcs, and as we know there is at least ONE back way into Mordor, which means they can get out and get food that way, too.

    Sigh.

    Still damn funny. Knock knock!

  64. brassbaboon says:

    Oh well…

    5. Eagles are known to be rather vain, haughty and mean-spirited, even among the noble races there are some who “go bad.” Perhaps there was not a single giant eagle, not even Gwahir himself, who would not have fallen under the spell of the ring, and delivered Frodo direclty to Sauron with the ring. Remember, a major premise of the book was that even Gandalf was sorely tempted to use the ring, and Frodo was acknowledged to be the least susceptible to the ring’s wiles, and in the end, he too succumbed to it’s evil temptations. Frodo was destined for the task, remember, not Gwahir.

  65. Cheesemaster says:

    Roxysteve wins ‘best comment award” for his Blackadder reference and halfway-reasonable explanations.

  66. William says:

    I imagine it’s fairly common for orcish bread to be made of bones of other orcs who’d been slaughtered and eatten by other orcs. Which is to say, I think orcs just barely got by on stuff that was just barely food. That, and dead orcs.

  67. Riley says:

    Robert de Neo said “Bwa?” to the post about the Matrix sucking.
    More precisely: Morpheus’ explanation of the Matrix’s use of humans as a power source, sucks, in the sense of being thermodynamically implausible. You can’t get “bio-electricity” from humans in vats unless you keep feeding the humans calories, and you can’t make high-calorie nutrient fluid without an energy source, such as plants using sunlight to photosynthesize carbohydrates.
    Of course, a good explanation is that Morpheus was misinformed. Much classier sci-fi version: the Matrix was using human brains as a data processing array.
    Meanwhile, LOTR only shows the warrior classes of both sides; we don’t see a lot of the peasants who feed the nobility of Rohan and Gondor… help, they’re being oppressed… nor do we see unarmored peasant levies in armies.

    1. WJS says:

      The processing array theory also explains how the humans are able to have such control of the matrix. If the physical simulation, for example, was being run on servers under the machines control, it shouldn’t matter if you know it’s a simulation or not; it’s external to you, and you should have no ability to influence it. If most of what goes on is purely in the human’s head with the machines simply tying them all together, on the other hand, being able to exert control over things makes a lot more sense.

  68. Vinchenze says:

    that’s… just wrong.

  69. Katy says:

    Wow… you guys actually remembered the little detail in that huge book about where the Mordor orcs got their food?

    I’m impressed.

  70. brassbaboon says:

    69 Katy Says:

    “Wow… you guys actually remembered the little detail in that huge book about where the Mordor orcs got their food?

    I'm impressed.”

    Now you’ve done it. You have unleashed the dogs of geekdom. Now you will hear details from the book that are so esoteric that you will be stunned, amazed, stupefied.

    Where orcs got their food is a trivial recollection compared to what you will see now.

    You have violated the first rule of female-geek interaction. You have expressed appreciation of geek behavior.

    I fear for you Katy.

  71. Cenobite says:

    roxysteve @ 49:

    If that doesn't work Dumbledore can jolly well get busy with Mordenkainen's Disjunction

    *twitch*

  72. Matt` says:

    I see the “Frodo just won the campaign for you” ending being in the same vein as “rocks fall, everyone dies”

    Actually, considering what happens when the ring melts, that could be all that needs to be said :wink:

  73. theonlymegumegu says:

    Maybe there are races they’ve subjugated that don’t go into combat that they get to do the sundry things.

  74. Susano says:

    A minor note of triva.. the Mouth of Sauron (the gate exiting the gate in the last panel of the strip) is played by Bruce Spence. Who? Well, among others, the Gyro-Captain from “The Road Warrior.” I think I’d pay Shamus money to work in something like “Lingerie. Oh, remember lingerie?”

  75. General_Karthos says:

    I don’t think there are Orc females. I dunno how Orcs produce offspring, but they seem to be prised from the mud (or little warrens in the rocks) fully grown. We’ve never seen an Orc female, nor has an orc female ever been mentioned. Anyway, Orcs likely don’t have souls, and from a Christian perspective, creatures without souls can’t reproduce, at least in any natural way.

    So are Orcs turned out at a forge? Are they larva, grown in a particular way? I dunno. But I don’t know that there ARE Orc females.

  76. Colin says:

    Totally pimp!

  77. comicshorse says:

    I seem to remember Orcs are corrupted elves. Elves have females ( hot one’s to who look like Cate Blanchett)) so it seems likely so do Orcs

  78. Spam Vader says:

    The logistical problem with going around south is that it leaves Gondor hopelessly vulnerable. Sure, they could go ’round south, avoid the mountains, and more or less chew their way up Mordor territory, stealing Sauron’s food, being in his base, and killing his d00dz. But in that time, the still sizable number of troops Sauron has can run out the front door and sack Gondor with its broken gates. In the book, they may have left some provisional force behind, but look at how well that worked out for that place on the

  79. Spam Vader says:

    River. On the river. Osgiliath, or some such.

    Apologies, I had to do something else, and when I came back, I’d forgotten that I wasn’t done with the post.

  80. Charles says:

    Regarding the “convenient” mountain ranges surrounding Mordor: such formations do indeed happen, and surely geography was instrumental in choosing Mordor for a base.

    Check out the Takla Makan Desert for a very Mordoresque region in China:

    http://encarta.msn.com/map_701516923/Takla_Makan.html

  81. Matthias says:

    Gandalf should have taken Frodo ’round the back’ on his rocket horse. Woooosh!!

  82. Amstrad says:

    @Matthias: The imagery suggested by your comment makes my brain hurt.

  83. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    There is a part of Mordor not often mentioned, but described in passing in some of the books (most notably in close to the end where Aragorn is granting Sauron’s land to different people).

    The wasteland is actually only in the outer parts of the kingdom just after the mountains.

    Sauron and Mordor both had a tendency to craft the terrain of their domains as massive fortresses with living and semi-living defenses.

    There is an inland sea (or perhaps a very large lake) much further into Mordor that produces the bulk of the food for Sauron’s Mordor-based armies. I’m not sure what exactly the sort of food they make is, but my general thought is mushrooms or other fungi supplemented by fish from the lake/sea. When Sauron was defeated, this realm was granted to his slaves that had been forced to work their all their lives.

    Other than that, not all the orcs gathered were Mordor orcs and orcs generally subsist on raiding and hunting for the most part, probably living off neighboring communities, and there is a very large world East of Mordor, most of which was under the sway of either Sauron, Balrogs or one of the two Blue Wizards (who caused troubles with the wars against each other and the Free Peoples long into the Fourth Age)

    The Southrons, of course, probably have a herder based diet similar to the Middle-Eastern region of our own world.

    Black Numenoreans and Corsairs have their kingdoms on the coastal regions and probably use the sea for food.

  84. Walter says:

    Riley:

    Another explanation I came up with is that yes, Morpheus is misinformed, but the real reason is the machines don’t NEED to keep the humans enslaved at all. The Matrix is perpetuated purely as revenge for the electrostatic cloud that prevents the machines from leaving the planet. The cloud, in turn, was a vengeful measure done by the humans only after it was apparent they would not win the war.

  85. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    Crap, I should check more often, someone beat me to the obscure Tolkien reference

  86. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    old school:

    Yeah, for anybody who pays attention, the second half of book 3 and almost all of book 5 show a lot of what is essentially Gandalf and Sauron playing chess against each other.

    The powers in the west sent the Five Wizards over and basically said “beat Sauron, but you can’t order people around and say who you really are, you have to convince them to defend themselves”

    The Istari were chosen as the order to be sent out to save Middle Earth again and 3 of their number were sent, 2 of those brought along friends for company.

    Aule put forth Saurman, and Radagast came with him as sort of a tagalong. One of the other Valar put forth one of the Blue Wizards, who brought the second as a tagalong.

    Manwe (chief of the Valar, think Zues+Odin) put forth Olorin who, among all the five of those sent, was the only one who didn’t want to go and was afraid that he wouldn’t be up to the task.

    Manwe told him that that was why he was chosen to go.

    Olorin is listed in the Silmarillion as being the wisest of the Maiar. Sauron is the most powerful (at least before he turned evil…afterwards. Going against Eru’s plan means cutting yourself off from his power, ie the Secret Fire, which is why Morgoth and Sauron grow progressively weaker and more mortal.)

    Olorin, of course, is Gandalf. And he is the only one of the Five to succeed in his mission.

    Saruman gives in to temptation and despair and decides to replace Sauron instead of deposing him.

    The two Blue Wizards do likewise and also become terrible enemies where before they were the greatest of friends.

    Radagast also falls, but does not fall in the same manner. He remains good-hearted but chooses to remain behind rather than stick to his mission. In this case he falls in the same manner as Nicholas Cage’s character in City of Angels. There is some thought that Bombadil and Goldberry are similar “Fallen” of good heart.

    Another comparison would be like saying that Radagast’s recruitment came up and he chose not to re-up and went for the honorable discharge while Gandalf stayed in and the remaining three went AWOL.

    Another interesting note is that Morgoth, Sauron and Saruman are all from the same family of spirit. As is Aule, and the only thing that saved Aule from the same path when he made the dwarves was that he wasn’t trying to take over Eru’s creation, he was only adding to it and staying respectful of it.

    (which is why none of the Nazghul are dwarves…the Nine Rings of Men and the Seven Rings of the Dwarven Kings are all made from the same basic formula, they just don’t work right on dwarves because of how different they are)

    And no, there is no indication of whether orcs have women or not, but there is a lot of indication that Dwarves, Orcs, possibly Hobbits and those Elves that remain behind ended up interbreeding with Man until the lot become one race.

  87. bobo-con-queso says:

    hello, i finally got caught up on these of course this comment being this far down you probably won’t see it.but in case you do great job on the comic i think it’s hillariuos.also thanks to the posters some comments are as funny as the strip.”i find your lack of pants…disturbing”
    “Gondor has no pants…Gondor needs no pants” have got to be among the best. looking forward to more great comics.Thanks

  88. Simon Jester says:

    Well, the question of where orc-food comes from is pretty well settled. Orcs can’t be sustaining themselves by eating each other, so the food has to be grown and carried to them; and there are places for the food to be grown that [i]aren’t[/i] in the mountainous borderlands of Mordor that we see in the movies and books.

    By the way, I love Gimli’s line:

    “If they were afraid of us, they wouldn’t have opened their impenetrable door.”

  89. Tola says:

    Come on you losers! Hand over Sauron!”

    A phrase more antithetical to the spirit of Tolkien was never spoke.

    I think not.

    “Let the Lord of the Black Land come forth! Let justice be done upon him!”
    I don’t have the book for the complete quote, but it IS directly from the book.

    NonononoNO! They go 'round the back from word one, adlepate! Dave, Sam, Aragormless, Frank, everybody. All round the back for a quick ring melting ceremony. None of this farting around in Ithilien or mooching in Moria. Get the Eagles (they're between gigs at this point in time remember) to fly them over the mountains before that nitwit in a dress Saruman even knows they have the ring, nip 'round the back of Mordor while Sauron is still busy clicking on the “build orc” and “build troll” icons and the ring could've been melted down by page 350. 320 if they forego supper at that dingbat Tim Benzedrine's pad.

    Uh…the trip to Mordor took roughly 3-6 MONTHS. Now, granted, there were detours and the like, but even ‘as the crow/nazgul flies’ it’d take a long time. They’d have to stop. And Eagles aren’t something you MISS.

    1. WJS says:

      Took 3-6 months ON FOOT. I don’t know about great eagles, but real-life golden eagles can fly up to 80 mph (horizontal speed). That would make the 500 mile journey from Rivendell to Mordor (or just outside it, since flying in is generally not considered viable) in less than 8 hours. They could have been climbing Cirith Ungol while the Nazgul were still farting around Rivendell. Or, they could have taken a different road into Mordor; in this scenario, Gandalf is still leading them, and he presumably knows at least a little more about the geography of the place than Frodo does.

  90. Doug Williams says:

    Every panel with Aragorn–especially the three where the DM is railroading him about being unable to go around the gate to an entire country–are really funny! Legolas’ panel is great too! Imagine Tolkein’s Ll calling the orcs “retards”!

    Again, I get the sense here that the DM has allowed all of this “super speed” travel over the last couple of pages so that he can GET THAT DOOR TO OPEN before someone (Gimli) figures out that they don’t HAVE to attack if they don’t want to! If there’s only one way into or out of the country… they could just as well barricade the orcs IN!

  91. Doug Williams says:

    Imagine the DM trying to get out of that one:

    ARAGORN: We have Gandalf cast a spell of holding on the door to keep it from ever opening.

    DM: Suddenly, you hear the thunderous sound of Orcs coming from the East!

    ARAGORN: You said there were only swamps and mountains to the East… And that the only way in was this door… and that all of the orcs were BEHIND the wall!

    DM: Well, the orcs are coming over the mountain and through the swamp!

    A: Then why couldn’t WE attack over the mountain and through the swamps?

    DM: Um… You are on horseback, and the orcs are traversing the mountains and swamps on foot.

    GIMLI: Then why couldn’t we just get off of our horses and attack the same way?

    DM: Um… because you’d have to carry your food, water, and supplies, and it would be too heavy.

    GIMLI: Ok, so the orcs have no horses, no food, and no water! Hey, o’ wise and great King Aragorn, why don’t we just retreat back toward Mountain-View castle, or whatever, and force the orcs to follow us on foot? We’ll wear them down and allow them to spread their forces out, then pick them off in skirmishing groups!

    LEGOLAS: Kick ass! I’ll be pickin’ off MAD orc bitches with my elven bow, while they dehydrate and stagger after us like retard zombies!

    ARAGORN: Man, now THAT’s a plan!

    DM: NO! I mean… um…

    etc…

    1. WJS says:

      Or, he could point out that if the orcs are still camped out across the plains of Gorgoroth, the hobbits are swiftly captured and Sauron gets his bling-bling back…

  92. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    Doug Williams:

    Which, actually, is what the Black Gates were built for.

    Sauron didn’t build them, he built the mountains and the wastelands, what does he need with castles, the Dunadan built them while they were still strong, same with Minas Morgul and the tower that Sam rescued Frodo from.

    Unfortunately, the Dunadan started growing less and less powerful and couldn’t hold those structures that were built to keep Sauron’s forces inside Mordor. So, Sauron said, “Hey, nice place you built here, I think I’ll take it. Thanks.”

  93. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    Riley

    Both Gondor and Rohan make use of a period of required military service from the males of their lands. (Rohan even trains its females, reminicent of ancient Norse traditions, which they copy in a lot of ways save being cavalry experts as adverse sailors)

    Gondor and Rohan have pretty much lived in a state of war for the past couple of hundred years. And Gondor has been losing population steadily. Everybody is expected to know how to fight.

  94. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    oops, forgot…

    in the book, in addition to the 3000 horse he brought, Theoden is also supposed to have brought around 5000 foot-spears, I’m not sure of that number though, so would have to look to be sure

  95. Larch says:

    The orcs are eating each other m8 ^^
    Thats how they survive

  96. Chibi64 says:

    Nicely done!
    and props to Sunhawk for bringing the Simmerillion into the discussion!
    I still haven’t finished that book…..

  97. Tim the Enchanter says:

    Shamus,
    I hope you see my comment way down here at the bottom. I just had to add to the compliments about the screencaps. This is one of the funniest episodes yet and it’s the facial expressions that really make it shine. Awesome job!

    And props to everyone who gave good arguments to “why no Eagles?” comments. I’m tired of people blasting and second guessing Tolkien’s great work. Without him there’d be no D&D as we know it, and thus no DM of the Rings for us to enjoy!

  98. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    The image of the baker is my favorite

  99. Draco the Lizard says:

    Not sure it anyone else pointed it out, but the same’s true for the Elves, isn’t it? They’ve got their magic bread, and all they seem to do is live in trees! I can’t imagine the Elves being farmers and bakers either. Hunter-gatherers perhaps, but not farmers. I mean, they might get their hands dirty!

  100. Frank says:

    And now for something completely different… :-) Not to nitpick, Shamus, but I’m wondering why your style of text balloons has suddenly changed. In recent episodes (my guess would be roundabout since you had surgery) we suddenly see these long white bands linking balloons together. You never used to do that… :-) The “old” style seemed more… elegant, somehow.

    Not criticizing, mind you… just curious.

  101. RocketJock says:

    GEBIV wrote:

    Um. Getting back to the idea of starving out Sauron's forces, shouldn't one point out that the besieging army (Stare-agorn's) would have even less food? Unless they had a nicely vulnerable supply train following them, they weren't going to be eating for very long either.

    ****

    No, they’d just carry several dozen hundredweight of supplies each in their leather-tardis saddlebags.

    Sheesh. Don’t you understand RPG physics?

  102. Takkelmaggot says:

    Aheh… Evil bakers… There’s a comic strip there somewhere about the evil economy which must exist to support all those hordes of orks and umber hulks and bog-imps running around the various game works. Just where does their medical coverage come from, anyway?

  103. Rasmus says:

    They don’t need medical coverage… any problem and *BAM* – eaten by the Orcs!
    Suppose the Elves also have vassal states with slaves to get those prescious grains needed for baking bread… No need to get those hands dirty!
    But consider the “hunger”-plan… The “retreating” forces of Clevergorn is riding those horses again.. some of those horses WILL tire and fall back, and some might break a leg: Food for the pursuing Orcs!
    Thus, a sizeable portion of the orc-army will make the pursuit, and be enough to cause problems.

    Anyway – liked the Orcish Farmer from comment #22

  104. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    Well, actually, traditionally, the elves are the center of a highly advanced civilization.

    The smiths, yes SMITHS, ELVEN smiths, of Eregion are among the most skilled smiths of there day, easily equal to most dwarves.

    The elven lands in Lord of the Rings, with the exception of Legolas’s people, are the REMAINS of kingdoms. They live on hunting and gathering, and probably trade, mostly because they no longer have the lands they once did that produced food for them (though I think Rivendell and Lorien had orchards and Mirkwood traded with Dale, Lonely Mountain and Long Lake)

    In further point, with the exception of one individual, all the elves seen in Lord of the Rings are Moriquendi…dark elves. Elves that have never seen the light of the Valar.

    The only representative of Caliquendi, light elves, in the entire story is Galadriel.

    And she, as one of the renegade Noldor, represents the lesser of the three races of Caliquendi.

    Legolas and the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood are the only real remaining elf kingdom rather than just an elven stronghold. And implications seem that the majority of them remained behind on middle earth even past the closing of the way left.

    At which point, I think they started becoming like the elves of typical D&D.

    But yeah, Elves traditionally had great cities and vast lands with fields and the lot. Only the centuries (millenia really) that past caused them to dwindle down to a few lightly populated strongholds and one kingdom that was more or less as “barbaric” as many dwarven and human lands.

  105. Shiney Al says:

    Al: “roxysteve, truly you have a dizzying intellect.”

    Steve: “Just wait ’til I get started”

  106. Susano says:

    The Mouth of Sauron: “A fella, a *quick* fella, might have Narsil hidden under his cloak. Then I’d have to lop his head off.”

  107. Obfuscato says:

    #86 Luke (Thrythlind) wrote:
    there is a lot of indication that Dwarves, Orcs, possibly Hobbits and those Elves that remain behind ended up interbreeding with Man until the lot become one race.

    Ah, that explains the obnoxious neighbors upstairs.

    ****

    #70 brassbaboon wrote:
    I fear for you, Katy.

    Yes, by post 100 she's probably been stupefied into semi-consciousness, muttering
    something about how that there must have been over a thousand Mickey D franchises in Mordor. Healer!!! We need a healer over here!

  108. Scarlet Knight says:

    So many great posts… what to choose? Hmmm…

    #42 Lynx Says:Probably Orcish bars.
    Two hobbits walk into an orcish bar. The barkeep says, “Sorry, we don’t serve food…”

    #10 scldragonfish Says:Black orc in chef’s regalia, with A high born english accent ..

    “Watch Cold Iron Chef, where the finest cooks in Mordor face challengers from all over Middle Earth. The winner joins the Cold Iron Chefs, the loser is next weeks surprise ingredient…”

    # 106 Shiney Al Says: ” truly you have a dizzying intellect.”

    Please let the end be a combo of “Princess Bride” & “War of the Worlds”! Sauron laughing in his tower, falls over dead. Why? When the gates are opened the heros unknowingly transmit a virus & Sauron dies of pink eye!

  109. Jurrubin says:

    #110 Scarlet Knight Says:
    #42 Lynx Says:Probably Orcish bars.
    Two hobbits walk into an orcish bar. The barkeep says,
    “Sorry, we don't serve food…”

    What do orcs eat when in Hobbiton?

    Short ribs.

  110. Karkki says:

    Stubid question but do orcs have school or why the heck they know english and stuff

  111. yoshi927 says:

    If orcs have fields to the south with slaves, wouldn’t it make more sense to attack those first? You could even free the slaves and secure a supply line or something. :D

  112. Jindra34 says:

    yoshi: as has been stated if the goal had been to invade mordor going around the back would have been the best bet… unfortunately until the ring got trashed sauruman had enough power to flick them aside effortlessly.

  113. Maverick says:

    Stubid question but do orcs have school or why the heck they know english and stuff

    They ‘evolved’, for lack of a better word, from elves. Said elves knew how to talk, so, so do they.

  114. Victor says:

    This may have already come up, but come on who actually READS all the responses?

    As far as I know, human slaves operated a massive patch of farmland with a lake to the southeast of Mordor to provide everything that they need.

  115. CyberGorth says:

    yoshi927 Says:

    August 19th, 2007 at 2:38 pm
    If orcs have fields to the south with slaves, wouldn't it make more sense to attack those first? You could even free the slaves and secure a supply line or something.

    Yeah, that’d be the way to do it, if your forces weren’t based in the North with the mountains and impenetrable gate between you and the fields. Other than that TINY little detail you’ve got a great plan going there.

  116. Armagrodden says:

    Of course orcs have bakers. How else could they end up in 10×10 rooms holding pies?

  117. Svetlana says:

    Well, I posted this comment at the wrong page first, so sorry for the repeat *blush. But in my point of view, the Question with big Q is not what do orcs eat, but what do elves eat. I cannot imagine an elf-farmer, working on the field, and Tolkien is more than frugal in this respect.

  118. SSMcBeattie says:

    wow.. more than 120 posts.. and me’s number 121 – can ye do pirates next time.. me likes pirates, i wanna be one ;)

  119. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    Svetlana:

    Lorien elves live off the bounty they get from their trees and the river, and probably from hunting. Since this realm thrives on secrecy and given its reputation with others, it is unlikely to involve itself in trade. There are the rangers, but rangers cannot bring in enough bread by themselves. In general, however, Lorien is low enough population that fishing, their orchards (and presumably vinyards) and their hunting provide enough food for their needs.

    Rivendell elves live off similar fair to the Lorien elves, and also lack trade. Similarly, many do not know of its existence, but they still are known and respected among many of the great kingdoms. However, they are so isolated as to make trade impossible. A benefit that Rivendell has over Lorien, however, and probably the reason that feasts are more often ascribed to Elrond’s House, is that not so many of the residents of the Last Homely House are permanent residents. With Dunadan, Elves and and even the occasional Dwarf coming and going, it is likely they have food brought in by travellers. In addition, the population to land ratio is probably more favorable than it is in Lorien, resulting in more food per person.

    The Coastal havens are more well-known and probably receive lots of trade, but are still relatively low in population.

    All the above are the remains of the great Sindarin Kingdoms which fell apart in the Second Age.

    The only remaining complete and living Elven culture is Mirkwood, which in the Hobbit is shown to engage in frequent and high-traffic trade with both the humans and, after the Battle of Five Armies, Dwarves. Thus allowing them to shore up what they don’t produce by trading out what they do. Everywhere else in Middle Earth, the Elves are fading.

  120. TheBladeRoden says:

    Okay, I’ve never played D&D before but this comic of all things has actually gotten me interested! Good stuff!

  121. The almighty penguin says:

    hahah i love legolas.
    “they fell for that? these guys are SO retarded”

  122. Questref says:

    Long-time lurker; first time poster.
    As things are drawing rapidly to a close, I just had to post my thanks & appreciation – great work Shamus. You’ve brightened up many a ‘should-be-working’ hour. :)

    Oh, and by the way, I think all you folks expecting Frodo to get the credit for killing Sauron are forgetting a rather important detail. WAY back in the strip, a shoot-first-ask-questions-later elf by the name of Leggylass critted Gollum to death as he floated past on a log.
    That being the case, who’s now going to stop Frodo donning the ring & becoming the new Dark Lord?
    Something tells me this campaign’s going to end REALLY badly for Aragormless & co – when they next meet Frodo, I think his kill-stealing of Sauron will be the LAST thing on their minds…

    1. WJS says:

      “What’s to stop Frodo donning the ring”
      Absolutely nothing. In the film he did put it on.
      “& becoming the new Dark Lord?”
      The current Dark Lord might have something to say about that. Frodo has no idea how to use the ring as anything other than a ring of invisibility, and when he puts it on it immediately alerts Sauron to his location. In the film, the Nazgul immediately headed to Mount Doom when he did, and without Gollum would have promptly grabbed him outside the cave.

  123. Mark says:

    Ahhh, that’s why Elves live so long! They are on those restricted calorie diets that supposedly prolong life (and make you pale and thin).

  124. Mitey Heroes says:

    Way back in comment #55, Zephyris said:
    “I should point out that “kine” is the actual name of that animal; “cow” and “cattle” are actually both generic words for livestock and thus technically are not inaccurate to use for sheep, pigs, and other livestock. So it's no surprise that an English Language professor would display such pedantism ^_~”

    To display similar pedantism… Kine is the original plural of cow (“cows”? urgh). With cow referring to female bovines.
    Cattle refers to all property, then by 1500 comes to refer to all livestock (yes, including sheep et al) and then later comes to just mean bovines.

    So cow or kine never referred to sheep, although cattle did.

  125. Tom Davidson says:

    One of the first poems I ever wrote, back in 1990:

    We labor in the fields of Nurn,
    bent double, seeding the twisted dusty rows
    with wheat (though other things will grow,
    but are not called for) for sour bread
    we will never taste, and in turn
    the men we feed do not keep the heads
    they give for Him. We cannot see
    with His sight, do not have His eye
    for plans, we know, so don’t ask why
    our children march or we still bend —
    and never will, not ’til our midnight sea
    comes drowning crown and fields at the end.

  126. Bruce says:

    Flipping way back to the Matrix comment, a human in more or less a coma/hibernation would probably require very few calories to survive. Also not all plants need direct sunlight to grow (fungi for example). With all their tunnels they could possibly be using geo-thermal energy.

    However the energy needed to keep the humans alive would have to be greater than what they produce, unless it was the type of energy they produce that was important (bio-electrical as opposed to thermal)

    1. WJS says:

      Actually, the energy requirements of a coma patient aren’t significantly lower than your average person. Most of the energy you eat goes to maintaining your body temperature, with only a highly active person making a significant increase to their requirements.

  127. Phil says:

    Oh come on. D&D Rule 1. When a door won’t open you a) check it for traps, b) look through the keyhole, and c) try and pick the lock (lack of skills notwithstanding!). Or possibly even d) Toss the dwarf over the top to undo the lock. Yet Aragorn tried none of these?

    This comic lacks proper D&D credibility! :-)

  128. Zalan says:

    Aren’t fungi, well… fungi? And not plants?

    Also: Very amusing strip, Triggerhappy shoots, and scores.

  129. Ondo says:

    Black Hand at the comment #52 is right, the card illustration of Orcish Settlers from Magic: The Gathering parodies American Gothic. Here is the link with a bigger picture:

    http://ww2.wizards.com/Gatherer/CardDetails.aspx?name=Orcish_Settlers

  130. Wtrmute says:

    To Luke (Thrythlind):

    In further point, with the exception of one individual, all the elves seen in Lord of the Rings are Moriquendi…dark elves. Elves that have never seen the light of the Valar.

    The only representative of Caliquendi, light elves, in the entire story is Galadriel.

    And her husband, Celeborn ( Teleporno, in his own Telerin language). He is one of the not-quite-extinct clan of elves which built the swan-boats which carried the three clans over the Sea way back in the day.

    Also, while I’m being nitpicky, I should point out that the Elves of Light are Calaquendi, not Caliquendi, and that the plural of Dàºnadan is Dàºnedain, if one applies correctly the sound-changes in Sindarin.

    Finally, the elves probably grow their food using the same kind of song-magic that Elven king (Fingolfin, if memory still serves) to kick Melkor Morgoth’s rear in his (Morgoth’s) own throne room deep beneath Angband.

    Do I win any geek awards yet? ;P

  131. superfluousk says:

    Tom: Nice poem, although I’m not usually much of a poetry appeciator.

  132. misaki says:

    about your question with the orcs and food, I think in the book it mentions that there were lands east of Mordor that Sauron had a hold on, so these men in the east may have contributed to feeding the orcs with their resources. maybe.

    By the way i love what your doing with this.

  133. imp No1 says:

    Well, actually, traditionally, the elves are the center of a highly advanced civilization.

    The smiths, yes SMITHS, ELVEN smiths, of Eregion are among the most skilled smiths of there day, easily equal to most dwarves.

    The elven lands in Lord of the Rings, with the exception of Legolas's people, are the REMAINS of kingdoms. They live on hunting and gathering, and probably trade, mostly because they no longer have the lands they once did that produced food for them (though I think Rivendell and Lorien had orchards and Mirkwood traded with Dale, Lonely Mountain and Long Lake)

    In further point, with the exception of one individual, all the elves seen in Lord of the Rings are Moriquendi…dark elves. Elves that have never seen the light of the Valar.

    The only representative of Caliquendi, light elves, in the entire story is Galadriel.

    And she, as one of the renegade Noldor, represents the lesser of the three races of Caliquendi.

    Legolas and the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood are the only real remaining elf kingdom rather than just an elven stronghold. And implications seem that the majority of them remained behind on middle earth even past the closing of the way left.

    At which point, I think they started becoming like the elves of typical D&D.

    But yeah, Elves traditionally had great cities and vast lands with fields and the lot. Only the centuries (millenia really) that past caused them to dwindle down to a few lightly populated strongholds and one kingdom that was more or less as “barbaric” as many dwarven and human lands.

    you misspelled eragon. (that is what you meant in the first place, right?)

  134. jabbers says:

    If they wanted to get over the wall, all they need is some of the ladders they “pulled up” during the seige of helms deep.
    or perhaps a bomb.
    “your cheeting.” was my favorite part of these comics.

  135. old player from way back says:

    I think orcish settlers is more what he had in mind.

    Orcish Settlers

  136. Maureen says:

    I know nobody’s reading anymore, but Elven women tend hidden fields in cleared land deep in Lothlorien. They provide the special grain, grind the special flour, and make it into various kinds of bread, of which lembas is not the only kind. Tolkien wrote a little side-article on it; it’s in one of the innumerable Christopher Tolkien-edited volumes of supplemental material.

    *roll eyes* You believe elves know all about living things and have high technology, but you don’t think they are capable of agriculture?

  137. Eldariel says:

    I recall reading that the food and such was grown near Lake Nurn way beyond Black Gate and all that, and in Haradwaith.

  138. Jim P says:

    Who said orcs need the same food/drinks to survive as we do? It IS a fantasy world after all……….

  139. tgef says:

    The orcs feed of the other orcs……they weren’t really orcs too. They were uraki (sp). They were kinda mined out of the ground too. Very strange stuff really.

  140. ClearlyF says:

    If you can imagine those orcish job categories, try imagining a Klingon scientist or engineer. A race, so devoted to warriors that none would ever survive the hazing of high school to become a designer of starships, FTL drives, or high tech weaponry. Yet we’re supposed to believe that they posed a threat to Starfleet, yeah right!

  141. Cynder says:

    Remember the orcs in The Two Towers?

    Uruk-hai: All we’ve had for food is maggotty bread for three stinking days!

    Orc 1: Yeah! Why can’t we have some meat?

    Orc 2: What about their legs? They don’t need those…oh, they look tasty!

    Or something along those lines. :)

  142. El Placebo says:

    The books clearly and distinctly cover the growing of food in Mordor, it is indeed done by slaves near the lake.

  143. Aragorn says:

    Best thing ive read in mmy life Shamus. Best thing ever!I hope you can add more!

  144. Mina says:

    Weren’t there also, like… Wikid Men… around…? Well, their bread always looked gookey anyways.

  145. Morambar says:

    Of course Orcs don’t have farms. They have lumbermills; haven’t you ever played Battle for Middle-Earth?

    Lame, I know, but all the canon comments were made long ago.

  146. Dangermike says:

    It’s not that no one thinks Elves aren’t ”capable” of farming, just that they don’t seem like the types to ever get their hands dirty in actual dirt. Still, the Word Of God says they had orchards and vineyards (which take nearly as much labor, sweat and dirtiness as regular farms) so somehow, they must. (Maybe they use their “nature skills” to coerce woodland animals to do it for them, or maybe to just climb into the soup pot and cut out the middleman.)

    As for the comments on The Matrix, converting geothermal energy directly to electricity is much, much more efficient than running it through a human body first. The original scripts for The Matrix actually stated flat-out that, yes, it was the processing power of the human brains the Machines were after, but the studio suits were afraid the audience wouldn’t understand such an “advanced” concept (because they didn’t, and they couldn’t imagine a bunch of science fiction geeks being smarter than them– about a science fiction concept– yeah) so they rewrote it to fit the “coppertop” scene in.

  147. Adam says:

    For the record, there prolly werent any farms. The orcs prolly jus ate each other lol. jus sayin

  148. Simone says:

    I think that the better/grosser question is, how do Tolkien creatures procreate? Can you really imagine an orc mom with little orc babies? I keep trying to picture it, but it always turns into the old junk hag from Labyrinth.

    Although Tolkien does say that Saruman bred ocs with people to make Uruk-hai, so obviously some orcs had to rape some human women (ew)

    Also, are we to assume that since orcs evolved from elves, they are also immortal?

    Even more perplexing is the question of dwarves…it says in the Silmarillion that Aule created the first dwarves, the 7 dwarf founding fathers…who then somehow went on to have sons. Probably through some kind of magical mitosis.

  149. Adam says:

    i think what happened is that all the orcs probably just ate each other. chances are they probably got the bread from other countries they had previously invaded. they could also have eaten the slaves they might have had wandering around

  150. Fishy says:

    In the early chapters of Silmarillion, the Professor mentions very briefly that Orcs produce like “the other children of Illuvatar” meaning elves and men, and just left it at that.

    So, I interpret that as- yes, there are orc women; yes, there is orc sex; yes, there are orc babies.

  151. MrRandom says:

    I’m gonna go with the orcs eating each other…they’re laughably easy to create, so they themselves are probably a better food source than anything else you’d find in Mordor.

  152. Hamsters Everywhere says:

    I haven’t read through all of the comments, so somebody might have mentioned this already, but Sauron’s forces are largely supplied by the lands around lake Nirn which is, if I recall aright (it’s been a couple years since I last read them) in the southeast corner of Mordor.

  153. - says:

    They used slaves.
    There was a big thing about it in Unfinished Tales.

  154. Tatooine92 says:

    I dunno which is funnier: the American Gothic orcs or the thought of a picture I saw once. It had Aragorn on it, in front of the gate, yelling “CAN SAURON COME OUT AND PLAY??” *snerk*

  155. Michael says:

    That orcish settler’s card is horrifically imbalanced.

    It is absolutely devastating to a multicolored deck — you can strip all of a color from your opponent. Worse, if I can draw two of my 4 during a game, you are completely hosed.

    Am I the only one who plays a “heavy waiting game”, where most of my mana is spent just before the enemy discard phase?

    Seriously, if we both have 7 lands down, and we’re just getting to the nasty cards, then I’m able to destroy three of your lands, costing you at least 7 turns; if I get a second, I’ve taken out almost all of your lands.

  156. silver Harloe says:

    > Of course, a good explanation is that Morpheus was misinformed. Much classier sci-fi version: the Matrix was using human brains as a data processing array.

    quoting http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ExecutiveMeddling :

    In The Matrix, the Wachowski brothers had wanted to have the machines use the humans plugged into the Matrix as a gigantic neural network computer. However, executives thought that the audience wouldn’t understand this, so they changed it to using the humans to generate electricity, even though this violates the laws of thermodynamics and creates several plot holes (though some fans find it decent as a metaphor).

  157. atheneglaukopis says:

    Fifteen birds in five firtrees,
    their feathers were fanned in a fiery breeze!
    But, funny little birds, they had no wings!
    O what shall we do with the funny little things?
    Roast ’em alive, or stew them in a pot?
    Fry them, boil them, and eat them hot?

    Bake and toast ’em, fry and roast ’em!
    Till beards blaze, and eyes glaze;
    till hair smells and skins crack,
    fat melts and bones black
    in cinders lie
    beneath the sky!

  158. Nami says:

    You know, considering that Aragorn’s a, you know, KING now, you’d think that he could have shelled out for a third horse for Gimli, or even a pony, or a mule, or a donkey, or a riding dog.
    Instead…

  159. Nacata says:

    Maybe the orcs steal from other places?

  160. Willowe says:

    The orc muffin man….

  161. Pete says:

    About that orcfood-thing… I haven’t been reading for a long time but as far as i remember, since nothing grew in Mordor, orcs ate something foodlike that Sauron could create that wasn’t neither food or nonfood. There were few mentions about that when Frodo and Sam were in Mordor. I can be wrong, that aint unusual.

  162. me says:

    to the south lay the vast fields tended for the provision of the armies by hordes of slaves brought in from lands to the east and south.

  163. Josh says:

    You say Orc Baker and all I can think about is the Gourmet. I wonder what he would say to all this.

  164. Wrathanet says:

    I always figured that Orcs made bread the same way they are shown making everything else: either pouring it into a mold or having it spontaneously generate from a vat of mud.

    It’s funny, because I had a very similar reaction to Seamus’ when the orcs in the second movie mentioned only having eaten moldy bread for weeks and no tasty, tasty hobbit meat. Of course, that led to imagining orcs with funny paper hats raking a vat of mud until ferocious loaves of bread burst out…and were promptly devoured by the mega-orcs (can’t remember what they were called) that were growing in the same pit. Or, perhaps those massive ovens below Isengard were just baking really big loaves of bread

  165. WJS says:

    I really don’t see what the problem is with orc farmers. I mean, they have to eat, and there are strict limits to how many a region can support by hunting and gathering. Mind you, they strike me as being more carnivorous than humans, so I would expect a hog farm or something to be more likely than a grain farm.

  166. wheals says:

    Aha, the first known instance of Shamus asking, “But what do they eat?” It all started here, folks.

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