DM of the Rings Remaster XVII: Of Dubious Value

By Bay Posted Sunday Apr 30, 2023

Filed under: DM of the Rings Remaster 6 comments

One of the things I loved to do in our campaigns was give out magical items which were interesting but mostly useless. We’ve been trained by movies that if you find some seemingly unimportant bauble, then the story will later create a situation where it will be the key to solving a problem in an unexpected way.

My favorite was a rope I gave them that untied itself the moment you let go of the knot. It was pointless, but enough of a novelty that they hung onto it. Another was a chalice that would purify any water you put into it. It was sort of a magical water filter which could turn a glass of swamp sludge into mineral water in about five minutes. Another was a magic staff which had only one property: It could be placed tip-down on the floor and it would keep itself balanced.

Once in a while they would haul out one of these magical booby prizes and actually put the thing to some unexpected use. I always loved when they did that.

–  Shamus, Monday Oct 16, 2006

Two delights awaited me in Dad’s excerpt for this week. The first being that I spoke about that exact phenomenon pages and pages back, about giving players useless prizes. I’m sure it’s by no means a rare DM tactic, but to find we used the same one so specifically without ever discussing it is just a kind reminder of our commonalities. We didn’t always agree on things, and I often find myself stopping when I’m doing something related to him and wondering what he’d think of it. It’s nice to find approval even through proxy.

The second delight is his use of the word boob.


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6 thoughts on “DM of the Rings Remaster XVII: Of Dubious Value

  1. MrGuy says:

    Checkov’s Gun predates movies by a long chalk. But my favorite example of the phenomenon in action were James Bond films. The movie won’t be over until there’s been a situation to users single item Q handed him and every single upgrade on his car. It was very jarring in recent iterations of the series where they abandoned this convention.

  2. Philadelphus says:

    What? It didn’t drop fifty gold coins and two “Watcher Spleens”? What sort of crummy monster is this DM foisting on his players anyway?

    1. MrGuy says:

      Drop TWO watcher spleens? Please. They have like a 1.3% drop rate according to the wiki, and you need 50 to make a batch of Mildly Improved Dwarven Ale for that side quest we picked up in Bree.

      1. Syal says:

        This made me realize that Aragorn son of Arathorn, rightful heir to the throne of Gondor, is in fact a sidequest the party picked up in Bree.

        1. MrGuy says:

          And the entire Rohan portion of the plot (from meeting Eomer to Helms Deep) really should have been DLC

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