#29 Blame the Messenger

By Shamus Posted Friday Jun 7, 2019

Filed under: DM of the Rings 35 comments

Beware the player who doesn’t have a character in play. He’s probably bored and doesn’t have anything constructive to do. He will most likely amuse himself by thwarting your efforts to put one over on the GM, and acting as a rules lawyer for the prosecution. Worse, he doesn’t have an in-game persona on which you might focus your revenge.

The best remedy for a situation like this is to use quick, firm blows to the face and back of the head. Since he doesn’t have a character you can’t be accused of LARPing. Some games have house rules against hitting people, so it’s best not to ask permission first.

Shamus Says:

A four panel comic! Amazing!

I’ve already made a big deal about how I struggle with the three-panel joke. Even at my most concise, I seem to end up with four instead of three. In the 150+ strip run of my other webcomic, I think I’ve done a three panel joke twice.

Shawn Says:

I’m a big fan of the pigs that were alive one moment and then became long dead in the next panel.

Marcus ends up doing this fairly regularly, pointing out things Casey’s forgotten that end up making everything worse for our heroes. It’s an admirable character flaw.


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35 thoughts on “#29 Blame the Messenger

  1. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    I swear all the kids who reminded the teachers we had homework became tabletop roleplayers.

    “Wait, GM, if the druid took damage shouldn’t she roll constitution to maintain the polymorph?”
    “Welp, that cute oppossum is a very angry vampire again!”

    1. Scampi says:

      I swear all the kids who reminded the teachers we had homework became tabletop roleplayers.

      I believe that would have been wildly of out of character for most roleplayers I ever knew.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        That’s because 90% of roleplayers are the polar opposite. It’s always that one guy…

  2. Karma The Alligator says:

    To be honest, I’d have reacted like Marcus, whether my character was dead or not, unless there had been signs of the goblins worshipping the pigs (but then again I’d have thought of that before enacting the plan to starve the gobs).

    1. Abnaxis says:

      Yeah, I would have thought of that as Casey before they even got that far. Whenever players come up with an out-of-box solution like Chuck’s, I always try to make it interesting–not necessarily punishing, per se, but try to make it something where there’s a positive and a negative consequence to weigh before the players try that tactic again

  3. Scampi says:

    A four panel comic! Amazing!

    I’ve already made a big deal about how I struggle with the three-panel joke. Even at my most concise, I seem to end up with four instead of three. In the 150+ strip run of my other webcomic, I think I’ve done a three panel joke twice.

    Honestly: I can’t entirely blame you. Working with the limitation of movie footage in DMotR, it’s imho a hard job to limit your work to an amount of panels.

    As an example: DMotR XXXVI contains 5 panels, but it would have technically worked with only 3. It contains 2 panorama shots of the company riding their boats down Anduin and 3 shots of faces (Gimli, Boromir, Aragorn). I’m not sure there would have been a good shot in the movie showing all 3 of them on screen at the same time to minimize your number of panels while allowing you to clearly present who is speaking at the moment.
    Of course, it doesn’t change the generally verbose nature of the comic, but I think it comes with the terrain of being a campaign comic, where much has to be expressed in words.
    Also: I think panel 1 here is not really an essential part of the joke, so the joke itself is delivered in 3 panels, isn’t it?
    Also: the comic would have allowed being made into a 3 panel comic if it was set up differently.

  4. BlueHorus says:


    Chuck and Ivy (predictably) look annoyed at Marcus for ruining their plan and/or pointing out the flaw in in Chuck’s thinking – but Josh just looks unhappy. He’s more concerned about the lost XP and that +1 sword he won’t get.

    Also, I think Marcus has replaced Ivy as my favorite player with this. He’s the only one who seems interested in roleplaying and verisimilitude, even if his ‘roleplay’ is slightly weird.
    The others are all more interested in metagaming and winning.
    (Well, Ivy could just be going with the flow)

  5. Joshua says:

    When I DM’d, I always did love the players who would point out when other players were breaking the rules, or I was inadvertently being softer than I should have been. It gives them a lot more moral high ground for them to bring up when I’m breaking a rule.

    1. King Marth says:

      If you’re not playing by the rules, then you aren’t playing a game. It baffles me why anyone would take offense to correcting a miscall. Sure, it’s a setback for you in the moment, but if it had stood then you’d be cheating.

      Of course, you need to let it ride at some point, with the rules lawyer equivalent of settling out of court for a long-standing misinterpretation.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        This. Yes, there is such a thing as “giving GM ideas” and sometimes it’s better not to argue when they let you off easy, but there is also such a thing as being aware of the consequences and helping maintain the consistency of the world. To be fair the fact the pigs are dead should be the first thing Casey thought when the plan was conceived but seeing how it’s Casey he’s so into reading off the script he probably thought about it and then forgot.

        Also, those pigs are just adorable.

      2. Matthew Downie says:

        D&D is a game that explicitly allows you to change the rules if you think that would make it more fun. One time a GM ‘forgot’ that the spell I was hit by is supposed to be an insta-kill, and just had it knock me out and remove all my hit points.
        Correcting him would have been more true to the rules as written, but could have been fatally disruptive to the game.

      3. Syal says:

        You still playing a game, one about beating the player with all the authority. If that means you’re cheating at the tabletop part, well it’s okay to lose that one, that’s not the game you’re really here for.

  6. Dreadjaws says:

    I think this is my favorite strip so far. It brings back a lot of memories.

    1. Mr Compassionate says:

      Agreed, this has happened so many times in my games. Also this is actually a fun way to counter players besieging dungeons which I might have to use in the future.

  7. tmtvl says:

    Oh dear, this is a problem!

    A potion of Raise Dead sells for a lot more than a longsword +1, but the quest experience may even out the cost, especially since you can’t easily buy experience at any decent rate to gold…

    What are our heroes (and Marcus) to do?

    1. Matthew Downie says:

      What adventurers do with all one-shot consumables: save them for emergencies, and then forget about them forever.

      1. Karma The Alligator says:

        We don’t forget them, it’s just that there might be a bigger emergency later.

        1. Asdasd says:

          And by the time you reach the final boss you’re reluctant to break the streak.

          1. Karma The Alligator says:

            There’s always a hidden boss that’s stronger than the final boss.

            1. Syal says:

              You can’t use them on the Super Boss! What if there’s a Super Duper Boss later on?

              1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

                Better save it in case there is a New Game+ mode!
                Besides, if you’re strong enough that a single potion makes the difference, you can probably beat the game without it. Which means you don’t need any consumables, right?

    2. BlueHorus says:

      Well, the thing is: the potion is neat, but a +1 bonus to attack/damage is both immediately useful and permanent.

      The potion will bring anyone back from the dead (like another player’s character)…but think! Josh’s character could have had the best stats ever…+1!

      1. Andy says:

        Josh’s character is so specialized for the specific weapons he uses that a generic “+1 longsword” is likely to cause his damage output to go down significantly.

    3. Decius says:

      Of course, a potion only has an effect if you drink it. Corpses can’t drink.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Hey, a funnel is 2 copper pieces and a party without a funnel is basically unarmed.

        Of course, that still won’t help Marcus’s character, which ceased to be a “corpse” about three or four stages before it became the pile of ashes it is now. And there’s a lot of Dire Weasel mixed in there, to boot.

  8. John says:

    It took me a few seconds longer to get this one than it probably should have. Maybe it’s the layout. Maybe it’s the fact that even after all these weeks I haven’t bothered to memorize which font goes with which player or character. So it’s probably my fault. It’s worth noting, however, that I haven’t had this problem with any of the other strips so far.

  9. The Wind King says:

    Potion of raise dead…

    Three dead piggies…

    There’s a solution here

    1. BlueHorus says:

      ‘Here, Mr Pig Farmer! We recovered some of your pigs!’
      ‘Relaaaax, they’re only two-thirds dead! Now, about that +1 longsword…’

      1. Philadelphus says:

        “They’re only mostly dead.”
        “What’s the difference between mostly dead and all dead?”
        “Mostly dead, they’re still partly alive. All dead, nothing to do except start frying up some bacon…”

        1. Scampi says:

          I’m always very confused by this kind of summarization. It goes from this “mostly dead” to news articles when I read that in some kind of accident “X people are partly seriously injured.”
          I always obsess about what exactly this is supposed to mean. Are all injured, but only some of them seriously? Are all injured, where most injuries are bruises and abrasions, but everyone has that one serious injury? What counts as a serious injury? Is a broken arm serious or does it only begin to become serious once it gets nearly lethal?

          Equivalently I thought about “mostly dead, but partly still alive”, and the fantasy setting allows for even more absurd constellations. Is one of the 3 pigs alive while 2 are dead? Are they all near death (thus “mostly dead”)? Have their heads been reanimated (and maybe sewn on one of their bodies together)? Are they undead (they are technically dead, but their bodies are still moving)? What kind of undead? Are they specters? How does the lack of a soul affect the taste of their bacon? If someone created a ham golem, would that count as “mostly dead”? If there is an afterlife for pigs, which is their alignment (probably true neutral)? If there is an afterlife for pigs: Are they really dead?

          1. BlueHorus says:

            All I know for sure is that someone needs to add Ham Golem to Shamus’ random encounter table.

            Danger Level: Tasty!

          2. Kathryn says:

            Scampi – sorry if you already know this, but my interpretation of your comment is that you don’t – “mostly dead” comes from The Princess Bride.

            Miracle Max: Oh, look who knows so much, eh? Well, it so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. Now, mostly dead is partly alive. All dead, there’s only one thing you can do.
            Inigo: What’s that?
            Miracle Max: Go through their pockets and look for loose change.

            1. Scampi says:

              Thanks for telling/reminding me. I’ve seen The Princess Bride maybe once or twice in my lifetime and have to admit I didn’t remember the scene.
              I also forgot Shamus really seemed to enjoy Princess Bride references in DMotR.

    2. Syal says:

      “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll REBUILD YOUR HOUSE!”

  10. Disc says:

    Talk about just deserts. I’ve never really DM’d a roleplaying game, but doing something similar in practice when acting as the Zeus in Arma 3, I could never let my players get away with something as stupid. It actually makes me glad the semi-grounded realism in the game tends to weed out the worst of this kind of behaviour. Even without a Zeus in the mission, the enemy A.I can still punish you for doing stupid things, given a chance. You can still power game to an extent, but only to the extent that your available tools allow. As a mission maker or alternatively as a Zeus you get to define what those tools are.

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