DM of the Rings Remaster XIV: Boring Distractions

By Bay Posted Sunday Apr 9, 2023

Filed under: DM of the Rings Remaster 15 comments

D&D is a sort of simulation. A simulation of living in a fantasy world where fearless heroes and dreadful monsters clash daily in spectacular battles. A world where you are a great champion, and the creator of the universe is frequently disorganized, highly distractable, and alarmingly vague on the rules of the universe he’s trying to run.

–  Shamus, Friday Oct 6, 2006

I have no good commentary to add here, I just love this strip. It reads like overhearing a conversation between him and my uncles when I was little. Dang, I miss that guy.


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15 thoughts on “DM of the Rings Remaster XIV: Boring Distractions

  1. Glen says:

    I laugh out loud at every one of these. So good.

  2. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    I always read this as if they are yelling this mundane exchange because of the snow storm and peril, even though it makes no sense considering the narrative device. But it’s even more fun that way!

    1. MrGuy says:

      The party is making its way across a ledge barely 6 inches wide, grasping any ice handholds on the cliff wall and trying not to look down in the howling wind. One by one, Aragorn and Boromir haul the party up onto solid rock at the end of the treacherous crossing. Legolas is the last in line. Just before he manages to scramble up, he fails a check and slips! Boromir lunges for him and manages to grab his hand, holding him precariously over a 500 foot drop.

      Boromir shouts down to Legolas over the din of the storm “If you’re really worried, just back up your old PHP before you start!”

      1. DanB says:

        Nicely written!

    2. Philadelphus says:

      I just imagine the DM is playing a howling wind soundtrack at high volume to provide immersiveness.

      Ah, who am I kidding, this DM doesn’t seem like the type who’d understand immersiveness if it walked up and dunked them in a cold bath.

  3. Sleeping Dragon says:

    That face in the fourth panel, it’s overall a good selection but that frame is just perfect XD

  4. MrGuy says:

    I know it’s counter to the spirit of the whole thing, but thinking out loud, this is sort of similar to the question from Rivendell where the DM was describing how peaceful and refreshing it was, and someone (Frodo?) asked “So, did my hitpoints go up or something?”

    Here, the DM asserts “Everyone is being pushed to the limits of their will and endurance,” and the party is ignoring him. Which of course they are, because telling someone “OK, this is tense and you’ve got to concentrate very hard to stay alive!” without any gameplay consequences is hard to sustain.

    So, how would you make this work as gameplay?

    1. Makot says:

      “The journey is long, hard and getting worse” and then we get to the point of party deciding whether to push on or seek another route. It’s my job as GM to provide hints and information.

      If, however, mechanical projection of conditions would be neccesary?
      Fort checks modified by protective clothing/survival skill of characters (again, my job as GM to take note who pointed out preparations and who forgot about it and take it into account in the check) and depending on results appropriate -n to all tests as temporary fatigue/low temperature modifier – probably anywhere within range of -1 (solidly passed test and a well-prepared character whose player was keen enough to point out the preparations or nat 20 on any other character) to -6 (badly failed test on unprepared character who now suffers for lack of outdoor skills and abysmall constitution), exactly as “how peaceful and refreshing Rivendell was” can be represented via a temporary 2 morale modifier.

    2. AllWalker says:

      “Concentrating hard not to fall and die” is a great chance to use burnout dice – my favourite custom mechanic. I swiped this from the Darker Dungeon custom rules for 5e, who probably swiped it from elsewhere. Burnout dice are intended for spells and they go like this:

      Whenever you cast a spell, roll your burnout dice (for example, 1d8). On a 2 or above, it casts fine. On a 1, there’s
      * a Wild Magic Surge effect, and
      * the dice drops to a smaller size (d8 becomes a d6, d6 becomes a d4, d4 becomes a d1).

      Burnout dice reset on a rest. The soothing waters of Elfwood could boost your burnout dice by a size (so a d8 would become a d10). The howling winds of Mount Scaryice would drop the dice size by one (so a d8 becomes a d6).

      You could expand this to all attacks under stressful environments. It’s a great way to simulate exhaustion, as mistakes become more common as you make more of them.

  5. Storm says:

    Man, some of these strips aren’t really relevant to the tables I’ve been at – either as a generational thing or just playing with differenr demographics – but this one I feel in my soul. Some off topic work or hobby related thing comes up, and even though we should know better, we can’t help but get into it despite the game being right there.

    It’s gotten better once we started having “complain about work, life, etc.” as it’s own segment before starting the game proper, but it still bleeds through now and then

    1. MrGuy says:

      With the groups I’ve played with, “Complain about work, life, etc.” would have to be last, or we’d never get to the game most weeks…

      1. Storm says:

        Hah, that’s fair. My main group is on Thursday afternoons, so most folks are coming right off work and it’s hard not to talk about it right away.

        It’s gotten to be a fairly structured 30 minutes or so of “vent whatever most recent nonsense has been happening,” after which we can jump in game. Before then it had a bad habit of cropping up mid-session, and that could really derail things

    2. LizTheWhiz says:

      My Kingmaker group gets super sidetracked on occasion. As the GM I should pay attention but I’m the worst.

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