DM of the Rings XII:
NPC Non Grata

By Shamus Posted Monday Oct 2, 2006

Filed under: DM of the Rings 43 comments

Lord of the Rings, Player Apathy, Rivendell, Meeting Girls, Powerful NPC’s

Some notes about writing a campaign:

  1. It’s great that you took the time to come up with “Count Devron Masuvius Beldamor the III, High Magester of the Realms of Greeenwood”, but you need to realize that the players are just going to refer to him as “that wizard guy”, or simply, “Mister fancy-pants”.
  2. If you send along a high-level NPC of great majesty and power to accompany the party, you need to realize that the players will treat this character like a bazooka: The NPC will become a weapon used to solve a problem in the bloodiest and most expedient manner possible, and then discarded without ceremony.
  3. You may be a group of unsightly men sitting around a card table on a Friday night, but your players will still be looking for chances to meet girls.

From The Archives:

43 thoughts on “DM of the Rings XII:
NPC Non Grata

  1. Bogan the Mighty says:

    and don’t forget about the insanely powerful npcs getting to do all the cool stuff that the players wanted to do, but the DM didn’t like it to happen that way.

    1. Veneficus says:

      Or the NPCs that get to do really cool things that aren’t even in the rule books. “Whoa, what was that spell?” “Don’t worry about it.” “What level do I get to learn that?” “Get back in character!”

  2. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    why do I get the feeling that YOUR Legolas is based on me

  3. I played a Kender for a while in a campaign or two. I was seriously into the Dragonlance books for a while, and I modeled my kender after Tasslehoff Burrfoot in everything but name. Man was it fun!

  4. Bogan the Mighty says:

    Oh boy. I read a few of those books. Did anyone ever try to just kind of accidently stab your Kender in the back…repeatedly?

  5. DrHeinous says:

    Gack. He wasn’t the only person to do that (the Kender). I assume that everyone in the adventuring party was looking for ways to kill him off (and avoid any blame)…

  6. Alex says:

    Fledgling Otaku: You played as David Hasselhoff? Did you have +1 Teutonic Appeal?

  7. why yes in fact, for some reason half teh other PCs did hate my guy, now that you mention it. Why?

  8. Alex, no but I think I could (should the need arise) propel Spongebob and Latrick back to Bikini Bottom using the awesome power of my pectorals. I’m just sayin’.

    1. Tzippi says:

      Not a huge fan of dragonlance. Because Kender aren’t halflings. They aren’t even people. :)

  9. fair_n_hite_451 says:

    WE tossed our kender over a raging river once. We’ll we tried for “over”. Honestly, it was the best way for the party to get across … we had to throw him over first with a rope.


  10. mo says:

    am i the only one who caught the forgotten realms/ed greenwood joke?

  11. Bobniborg says:

    The SHE comment makes this one. The good ol days of one guy getting tagged with something bad and nobody lets them live it down.

  12. Nicki-Joe says:

    See, this is why I always play female characters…I have NO TROUBLE getting laid whenever I want! : )

  13. Katherine says:

    “getting tagged with something bad” – and thus in one easy lesson it is shown why D & D’ers rarely got the girls.

  14. Kay Shapero says:

    Munchkins, anyway. The ones who started as adults had better luck – anyway the guy who DM’ed my first D&D game (at the SD ComicCon in 1974 – you know, the year it came out) wound up marrying one of the participants, yours truly. :)

  15. Rhapsody says:

    I was half of a typical fighter/thief partnership for a while… we took a halfling captive, and when we had to open a door, we threw him through it first. After about fifteen rooms, the GM told us we had to get a new one, because this halfling was coming apart.

  16. claudia says:

    AHAHAHAAH… this is fuckin hilarious..

  17. Sewicked says:

    And I still remember the game in which, for some unknown reason, the gm gave us all squires. We sent them ahead to ‘detect traps.’ Then t vivid moment when one of the PCs used a spell to shove a squire through a door that we suspected was trapped & the “you sonnofa…” that came floating back.

  18. Filcha says:

    Yeah I had a male character who everyone (including the DM) thought was a girl. I’ve also had chars who everybody else decided to rename… and I must confess to doing evil things with names that our DM has given NPCs.

    This is so good – please keep it up!

  19. Ah yes, the Shamus young ‘bazooka’ theory will now see much practical use in the d&d blog community.

  20. cheesebunny says:

    @Katherine ;P I usually got the girl in our circle, but the lads didnt seem to mind if we made out during snack times
    actually if Im honest it made them quieter then when we were actually playing
    you should try it, I guarentee youll love it.

  21. Aragorn says:

    “High Magester of the Realms of GrEEEnwood” You put 1 too many Es


  22. Some Girl says:

    Actually, our D&D party is pretty evenly split between guys and girls. And, well, I’m kind of plain, but everyone else is decently attractive. We flaunt the convention of your Note 3!

    (Seriously, though, funny comic.)

  23. mixmastermind says:

    Crap, now I have “Mister Fancypants” by Jonathan Coulton stuck in my head.

  24. Jimmy says:

    Poor high magister. Still, could be worse. I’ve seen NPCs get persistent nicknames, to the point where the GM forgot their real ones.

    Poor Sidereal Bob…

  25. Fae says:

    See, this is why as a female player I had a lot of fun playing gay male characters. I’d start flirting with other PCs and they’d flirt back because they forgot the gender of my character. And then I remind them and watch their horror unfold.

    It was getting to the point in one adventure when our DM refused to have NPCs who understood whom we were referring to when we said “the king dude” or “that chick” so we started writing down names – misspelled and mispronounced, but we tried.

    1. WJS says:

      That’s kinda mean. Although, if they are really horrified rather than, say, mildly embarrassed, it’s hard to feel too sorry for them.

  26. Geoff says:

    I gotta agree. Gandalf is sooooo the DM’s PC…

    1. Sumanai says:

      Mielenkiintoista, mutta olisi kohteliasta käyttää kieltä (tai kääntää kielelle), jota enemmistචsivun lukijoista ymmärtää. Varsinkin, koska Googlen kääntäjä jättää paljon tulkittavaksi.

      Again, in English:
      Interesting, but it would be polite to use a language (or translate to a language), that the majority of the page’s readers understand. Especially, since Google’s translator leaves a lot to interpret.

      1. Moridin says:

        I know this is a tad too late, but that’s a trackback, not a “real poster”.

  27. Jake says:

    Option 3: the players will refer to him as “Devvy”
    Option 4: the players will refer to him as “that jewelry guy” even though the NPC has NOTHING to do with jewelry, through a series of jokes when the character was introduced. In my first gaming group, we ended up calling a male druid NPC “the old woodcutter woman”.

  28. Mariah says:

    I get that. It’s funny because I’m a girl and my character is a guy and I’m the only girl in the group. XD Haha for them.

  29. ImThisObiWanKid says:

    Sometimes the comments after the strip make me laugh more than the strip itself.

  30. Watcher says:

    And THIS is why no dm in their right minds lets Elminster within 100 square miles of the PCs.

  31. Livingwill says:

    My experience is that partys don’t consider high powered NPCs on their side as expendable. They might need them in the future. That said they are better used for giving information or quests than being part of the party. That way they don’t dominate it.

  32. Sheanar says:

    “You may be a group of unsightly men sitting around a card table on a Friday night, but your players will still be looking for chances to meet girls.”

    I’m a HOT girl AND I play D&D AND I’m still trying to meet girls. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

    REAL gamer girls need love too.

    1. Shamus says:

      That’s why the word “MAY” is in there.

      So you might want to check YOURSELF before you take offense over imagined slights.

      1. anaphysik says:

        On the plus note, people still read DMotR. On the minus note, people are also still jerkfaces sometimes :/

        (Incidentally, I’m reading this because I was reading through an old post of mine wherein I linked to it, referencing the ‘Gandalf as DMPC’ thing :D )

  33. Mr. Dollars says:

    Upon reading #3 of Shamus’ how-to “write a campaign” I flashbacked to the good ol’ classic 8 Bit Theater DnD

    Annoying friend with high pitched voice at the tavern: “Roll the dice to see if I’m getting drunk.”
    DM (irked): “Ugh. Yeah. You are.”
    Annoying friend with high pitched voice: “Are there any girls there??”
    DM (annoyed): “YEAH.”

    Annoying friend with high pitched voice: “Ogres? Man, I got an ogre-slaying knife that’s got a +9 against Ogres!”
    DM: “You’re not there! You’re getting DRUNK!!”
    Annoying friend with high pitched voice: “Okay! But if there’s any girls there I wanna DO them!”

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