DM of the Rings XXIV:
Loot of the Rings

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Nov 1, 2006

Filed under: DM of the Rings 50 comments

Loot of the Rings, Horn of Gondor, Staff of Gandalf, Sting, Bow of Legolas, Mithril, Narsil, The One Ring

Is the loot valuable or not? The price tag is meaningless. It’s all in how you describe it. Take a page from the home shopping channel, where no item is too mundane to be praised.

It’s not a “small figurine”. It’s a “beautiful, hand-crafted figurine of a water nymph”. Yes, this seems silly. Of course it’s hand-crafted. Everything is in a pre-industrial world. I’m telling you: It doesn’t matter if it’s not worth two coppers and weighs as much as a brick, your players will fight over that figurine if you make it sound exciting.


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50 thoughts on “DM of the Rings XXIV:
Loot of the Rings

  1. Marmot says:

    Hahaha, this one was awesome! The description of the Sting really cracked me up, more so because I own one (doesn’t glow though). Great job once again!

  2. Rask says:

    Marmot: Sure it glows! Just wait until there’s an Orc nearby… :)

  3. Thanks, this series is great.

  4. Crusader Corim says:

    Hey, to be fair, you can always have “magic crafted” instead of hand crafted.

    We’re pre-industrial, so let’s not use magical resources properly, but dang it, they can be used to make trinkets.

  5. David V.S. says:

    Hm. What about that old AD&D module where the adventurers found science-fiction items? (I don’t remember it’s name. I think it had a green cover.)

  6. c. vermeers says:

    David V.S.: that would be “Expedition to the Barrier Peaks”, and it had a black-bordered cover, as i recall.

  7. David V.S. says:

    Ah. You’re right! I wonder which one I was confusing it with?

  8. Osric says:

    IMHO, the guys find it cool and interesting if you treat it as cool and interesting. Otherwise it’s just loot and you only have yourself to blame (apart from 30 years of ingrained gaming tradition).

    The home shopping channel is a source of people’s attempts to make lame things sound good… Don’t use words that you yourself don’t believe in.
    If the gear in your game isn’t interesting to you, the GM, either get interested or leave it out!

    I once gave a normal sword a good name and everyone loved it. They admitted later that they’d been sure it must have had cool powers, just ‘buried deep’ — the shallow self-serving dogs! But they didn’t accuse me of betraying them by NOT giving it any, and the game was better for it being there. A classic example of how some games’ “heroic” (if non-magical) weapons come about.

  9. Daniel says:

    Love this! You’re brilliant.

    Hey, hope you finish telling your campaign… what happened to Mordan?! ;o)

  10. Ava Tari says:

    Oh, God, I think I sprained something laughing. Great layouts, great choice of screencaps, and great writing! It’s so true.

  11. Sykoholic says:

    [i]the guys find it cool and interesting if you treat it as cool and interesting[/i]
    Anyone checked out “Mother of All Treasure Tables” from Necromancer Games?

    Great webcomic BTW. If I didn’t know better, I’d it was based on my old gaming group.

  12. Brandon says:

    Man, this is great. Throw a room-clearing fart in there somewhere and this is my old-school gaming group.

  13. Don says:

    I swear I need a staff with +2 to Awesome!

  14. Kiwi says:

    Freaking hilarious. Any chance this will ever get published ? (Even taking into account the odd copyright law it may be breaking…).

  15. cs says:

    Great comic!

    I know I’m a bit late to the party and don’t know if anyone will see my comment. But I have to say there’s something about the typical fantasy world remaining in a pre-industrial state that always bothered me. To me, there doesn’t seem any reason why they should remain so primitive. The basic set of spells is enough to start an industrial revolution once some opportunistic wizard connects the dots.

    Would make a great campaign. Has anyone ever created that sort of scenario? The only thing roughly similar I can think of are the dead Dwarven cities in Morrowind. And I guess Sauron and Sauraman came close to achieving an industrial society but not quite.

  16. Marty says:

    CS, you should read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld seried.

    His early work is straight up fantasy satire/slapstick, but as he matured in his writing he takes that same point of view in the book. Magical “inventions” become the technology of the Disc in various novel. *Very* funny stuff.

    1. DanB says:

      Good call! Magic tech is real

  17. Bugsysservant says:

    BTW, I thought that Narsil was the original name of the sword as possessed by Isildor whereas it was renamed Anduril after being reforged. Otherwise a great comic.

  18. Destroy Gundam says:

    “Worth eleventy billion gold. Good luck finding a shop keeper with that much on hand. Most will try to simply exchange it for store credit. Don’t fall for this”

    I’d like eleventy billion gold. Clever use of an imaginary number.

    1. Bryan says:

      From now on, whenever my group confronts the shopkeeper with a ton of scrap and slag they took from monsters, they will only be offered store credit. Thanks!!!

  19. Derek B. Haas says:

    I’m only doing this because my captcha word is “d20”. Can’t just ignore that.

  20. SnarkHunter says:

    Some people I knew once made a Lord of the Rings parody called Lord of the Hats. In it, Sting was a sword that glows blue when orcs are near… and glows red if you’re pregnant. Handy, no?

    1. WJS says:

      Wait, is that glows red if you hold it while pregnant, or glows red if orcs are near and you’re pregnant? If the latter, that would be an inconvenient time to find out!

  21. DGLad says:

    Okay, this strip is absolutely wonderful. Between this and The Order of the Stick, RPG’ing has become positively glamorous (well, in a hilarious, geeky sort of way).

  22. Piro May says:

    You guys all suck!!!

  23. JD says:

    Exactly …

  24. silentounce says:

    Eleventy is a real number despite what Firefox’s spellchecker says. No, really, it’s just not in common use. Most people learned it from Tolkien’s writings, so I did chuckle when I read “eleventy billion”.

  25. cheesebunny says:

    this is not just odd junk, this is M&S specially collected junk, hand picked by the finest of LOTR fanatics and D&D’ers

  26. Aragorn says:

    You know what? If I was in that DND I would kill Gandalf and loot him :D

  27. ERROR says:

    Gandalf’s Staff

    +200, not 2, to awesomeness.

  28. Moridin says:

    @ERROR: Didn’t you know? Awesomeness is measured in logarithmic scale.

  29. Andrew Jensen says:

    Haha, awesomeness in logarithmic! I once gave my players an ancient enchanted staff of darkness bane once owned by some old guy. Did five extra damage against evil aligned people =D. Pity the persn who used was CE and constantly rolled critical failures and hit himself… had to roll a new character after he one hit killed himsel. And most of the enemies were neutrual anyways… idiot payers…

  30. Maladjester says:

    I gave my players a sword named Fleshtaster, all filigreed with gems in the hilt, and they assumed it had to slay giants or some ridiculous thing like that. It was a masterwork item with no powers, but it was still a good sword, and the fighter used it to good effect, believing all the time that “it would wake up when it was ready.” He was sorry to give it up even when he found a (nameless) more powerful weapon to replace it.

    I also like items whose cost is at least equal to their value. I once gave a player a literal genie ring. The catch? Somehow, it always managed not to be useful. For one thing, the being inside was an efreeti: twelve feet tall, brick red, soul-crushingly evil, and demonic as all get out. So, he could never have used the ring where any NPC would see it, or he’d have been branded a demon worshiper. He called it up in an empty church for secrecy’s sake — and the heat of its body started a fire that ashed the church and a quarter of the city besides. He once called it up to fight a mature dragon that had captured him — it just looked at the dragon, looked back at him, told him, “You think I can take THAT thing? You’ve GOT to be kidding me” and vanished back into the ring. He ordered it to polymorph itself as a disguise, so it could be available to serve him without being summoned — and it promptly turned into an attractive slave girl, addressing him loudly and repeatedly as “master” — in a nation where slavery was strictly outlawed. Book value of this item? Tens of thousands of gold crowns. He pitched it off a bridge into a river.

  31. Spit Fyre says:

    In this one campaign the DM gave me a flaming +4 Banana sword of doom.

  32. ERROR says:

    At Moridin, comment #30: I know that!

    At Aragorn, comment #28: FYI, it’s not a “DnD,” it’s a “campaign.” It’s been a while, hasn’t it? :D

  33. Leyomi the Parodier says:


  34. SpitFyre says:

    One ring go 1.2.3…BOOM!!!

  35. Trae says:

    The Great Tome of Practical Jokes.

    Chapter 1: Exploding Books…

  36. nikitapronin says:

    “Some people I knew once made a Lord of the Rings parody called Lord of the Hats. In it, Sting was a sword that glows blue when orcs are near… and glows red if you're pregnant. Handy, no?”

    what color does it glow if your pregnant with an orc?

    1. ERROR says:

      Purple. Duh.

  37. ERROR says:

    Yep, the LotR movies are officially ruined for me. Whenever I see Aragorn looking at his sword, all I think is, “Sweet smoking Conan! Will you look at the stats on this sword!?!” More or less the same applies to Legolas and his bow, or any of the items, really.

    Still deciding if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

    1. Spike says:

      I can’t even watch the movies and enjoy them anymore because I read the books. They ruined the movies!

      And also, thanks for the comics Shamus they are so great! I can’t stop laughing

  38. Michael says:

    That bit at the bottom couldn’t be more true.

    In a campaign I DM’d, my group was just about ready to start a small battle amongst each other over who got to destroy a bird’s skeleton. The skeleton was just a bit of atmosphere, really.

    It didn’t do anything at all, and the players would never have even noticed it was there, if it weren’t for their incessant need to steal anything that’s not riveted to its spot.

    I had the damn thing hidden! In a wall, inside a (locked) safe, behind a mirror, which was behind a bookcase. The bookcase required two people to even move.

    When they found it, they immediately:
    A.) Called shenanigans. Obviously there was supposed to be treasure there. The DM was doing something wrong.
    B.) Cried foul. Black Magick was (also) obviously afoot, and this skeleton was a catalyst for some dark ritual. Destroying it was the only way to progress in the campaign.

    In their defense, I did put it there specifically so this would happen.

    1. Bryan says:

      I’ve done something like that before, back in first edition. The treasure was a small book with a torn cover. the title was “Book of … Runes.” The thief was bent on keeping the best stuff for himself, so he took and hid it, like he had done many times before. Later when he began to read it, he burst into flames. This made the party suspicious, but he was good at hiding things. After being flamed a few times, he threw the book into a river. Later I told him that the missing word in the title was “Explosive” and the pages were meant to be ripped out and placed as traps, not read. This didn’t completely stop his hoarding habit, but he was much more careful about what he hoarded.

  39. Sir Robin the not quite as brave as Sir Lanceilot says:

    Half of those you put in the worst possible light and the other half you tried to put in the best possible light

  40. Malady says:

    One time my party ended up having a silent auction over a broken banjo- it was sold for 1,800 gp.

  41. 4ier says:

    There are a couple of messed up character encodings in the comments.
    near… should be near…
    you're should be you’re

    There’s a trackback comment in what looks like Spanish, if that’s worth fixing:
    El Botà­n should be El Botín
    Traducción should be Traducción
    aquà­: should be aquí:

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