#21 A Surprised Party

By Shamus Posted Friday May 10, 2019

Filed under: DM of the Rings 26 comments

Entering a dungeon should be like opening Christmas presents: The contents should always be a surprise. That’s half the fun! (For the GM, the other half of the fun is doing your level best to kill the lot of them once they get inside.)

Shawn Says:

I think I am officially going to mark this comic as the turning point of us finding our footing and hitting our stride. I think this one pretty much works perfectly. I love panel 2, and Ivy in the last panel just makes me happy.

Shamus Says:

I’ve just spent 20 comics bemoaning my inability to do three-panel jokes, and here we pull one off. And panel two is silent.


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26 thoughts on “#21 A Surprised Party

  1. Mephane says:

    Okay, this is by far the best episode yet. :)

    1. Christopher says:

      Yeah, this comic has gotten better.

  2. Karma The Alligator says:

    To be fair, that’s only the first room. It’s not like he spoiled the content of the whole dungeon (or I guess he did by calling it the goblin cave).

    And did Josh’s claymores always have those poop shaped ends?

    1. Syal says:

      It’s not like he spoiled the content of the whole dungeon

      Heh heh heh ha ha ha hahahahaha!

    2. Agammamon says:

      Well, at least they’re not Kobolds.

  3. DGM says:

    I respect Ivy’s intuition.

    Her eyes still creep me out, though.

    1. Karma The Alligator says:

      How so? She just has thick glasses.

  4. unit3000-21 says:

    “Ivy in the last panel just makes me happy.”
    Yeah graphically this comic is probably the best one yet. I really like the subtle changes in characters’ expressions, and the fact that Beardguy just stays the same.

  5. BlueHorus says:

    Go in anyway and stop metagaming, you cheats! You can take it!

    …or, Casey could just scrub that last bit and re-arrange the dungeon so there isn’t an ambush waiting. If, you know, here were a competent DM.

    I also love panel 2. It might be up there with ‘No LARPing!’ for my favorite punchline so far.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Better yet, he should have played it straight and pretended Josh spotted them due to his check, might have even lampshaded it with something like “clearly they suck at staying hidden”.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        Casey — improvise?!

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Oh sure, I get that this is part of the point, just saying that things like letting an information slip are mistakes that GMs make routinely and very often just straightface it without the players realising.

        2. Scampi says:

          EVERY GM knows how to improvise via bait & switch.
          The obvious answer to the situation is that the fireball clears out the hidden goblins…but the real encounter consists of a few golems, 1 of which is each wall, and they are activated via a high DC trap, which is tied to the door. The door is actually hinged between one golem’s legs.
          The fireball actually prevented the players from hearing the goblins chanting: “Gorignak! Gorignak! Gorignak!”

          Also: Casey definitely knows how to improvise. He did so during the warg rider encounter in DMotR, when he got Aragorn to ride off the cliff.

  6. Joe Informatico says:

    Why does this remind me of some encounters in Dragon Age: Origins where you can see the NPCs arranged in an obvious ambush, so you place your mages and archers at a distance and your rogues behind them before having the Warden talk to the leader triggering the cutscene and combat encounter, and then as soon as the cutscene ends your whole party has spawned right in the middle of the killzone?

    1. Liessa says:

      Oh God, getting flashbacks now.

      *sees big ’empty’ room behind door up ahead*

      *carefully positions mages and archers around doorway, casts protective wards*

      *very carefully nudges door open*

      *cutscene instantly begins, showing character casually strolling into middle of room*

      *cutscene ends, leaving my party RIGHT IN THE CENTRE of inevitable ambush*

      *smashes face through monitor screen in frustration*

    2. Agammamon says:

      And completely out of formation.

      1. Decius says:

        If you’re lucky, the cutscene won’t dispel buffs.

  7. Thomas says:

    I definitely noticed that the pacing clicked here. I love the silent panel

  8. tremor3258 says:

    Joining in pacing with beat panel and the subtle distinctions are great. This is really a moment that could be inflicted on any tabletop group.

  9. Andy says:

    A 17? How can it possibly be that low? I’d be invoking the houserule that a “1” on a skill check is an auto-fail….

    1. Nimrandir says:

      I had mentally put a plus sign in front of the 17, indicating it was the bonus before touching the dice. By now, even Casey would know that Josh’s character is going to succeed at mechanical challenges.

      1. Sartharina says:

        I figure Josh’s skills are actually only average- skill systems in D&D are rarely important or complex enough to be worth munchkining. They’re “good enough”, because if he REALLY needs to get through a door he can just bash it down.

    2. Lachlan the Sane says:

      He has a listed Dex of 22, which in D&D from 3.0 onwards translates to a +6 Dexterity modifier. So either he rolled an average-ish d20 roll (an 11 if he doesn’t have any bonuses to lockpicking, or something more like a 7 if he has a couple of bonuses to it), or the 17 was his naked d20 roll without modifiers, or the D&D&D system these guys are playing in uses something more like the very specific and weird percentile-based rogue skills from 1st & 2nd edition.

  10. Lino says:

    This is definitely the best strip so far :D

  11. Andy says:

    Also, since standard graph-paper dungeon cartography uses 5×5 foot squares… 10×20 room, 8 pillars, um… where are the goblins hiding? The room is completely full of pillar….

    1. Andy says:

      (I suppose it could be 10×20 *squares* but that is less fun to visualize in my head :P)

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