DM of the Rings XXIX:
Organizational Skills a Plus!

By Shamus Posted Monday Nov 13, 2006

Filed under: DM of the Rings 43 comments

Lothlorien, Galadriel, Wrong Script, Handrail technology.

In any large prewritten campaign, the DM is bound to read the wrong bit of dialog sooner or later. Sometimes it’s easier to cover up than others. Sometimes it’s impossible. In these cases it can be a great relief when you realize nobody was listening to you anyway.


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43 thoughts on “DM of the Rings XXIX:
Organizational Skills a Plus!

  1. Marmot says:

    Spamming a big nice piece of “AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ROFLMAO” wouldn’t describe even a half of my merriment. Awesome as always!

  2. Ishmael says:

    This is like in those premade adventure books, where they have blocks of text to read to the players, and blocks for the DM’s info. As I almost never use premade adventure books, when I *do* I inevitably I end up reading parts that the players aren’t supposed to know. “A long, dimly lit hall lies ahead. The hall is lined with traps and there is a hellhound at the… wait, crap!”

  3. Deoxy says:

    “A long, dimly lit hall lies ahead. The hall is lined with traps and there is a hellhound at the… wait, crap!”

    You know, on of these days, I’m going to releas a module with stuff like that… PRINTED IN TH PART YOU READ TO THE PLAYERS. And then, after “dropping” that there’s a hellhound, spring a small white dragon on them instead…

    That would be fun.

    Oh, and “We were pretty much ignoring you anyway.” Priceless.

  4. Ubu Roi says:

    You had me at “handrail technology.”

  5. Evil Otto says:

    “Not helping.”

    Heh. Great stuff.

  6. Osric says:

    It’s certainly true that most of us can’t hack the conversations with rulers thing. And in the DM of the Rings game, giving it to the saddo ‘roleplayer’ would have made Gimli the party spokesman for dealing with Elves, which would have been all wrong as well.

    So why DO we keep inflicting conversations with rulers on ourselves?
    And if GMs feel the need, how SHOULD we make ’em work for the guys?

    Waazzuuuup! (Isn’t that what Pippin said to Denethor, which made the Gondorians think he must have been a prince in his own far land?)

  7. Rufus Polson says:

    Of course, it’s kinda realistic–I mean, most people’s *characters* would be totally uncomfortable with meeting rulers and not know what to say, too.

    Personally, even if I do a module-style adventure (it’s been a few years) I pretty much always ad-lib the dialogue anyway. Of course, doing it that way you risk getting the atmosphere wrong, a la “Guards! Take this little dickwad away!”

  8. Colin says:

    I tried running a pre-written campaign once. The players walked directly away from the plot and left me feeling somewhat stranded. Now I just do things myself, as it’s a lot easier to flange stuff when you made things up to start with and hence have a better idea of what’s going on.

    And handrails. We like that comment.

  9. Raven says:

    One of the Traps from Grimtooth’s first book comes to mind.

    The characters are walking down a hall that is covered in grim and nasty things you do NOT want to be covered in. A voice comes in from above and says, “duck”
    When the players do not react a large pole comes at waist level and knocks them into said grim, with limited damage.

    They go a bit farther and once again the voice calls out louder yet… “Duck!”
    Those that do not hit the “dirt” get hit by a pole that moves even faster doing more damage then before.

    They go down a bit farther yet and the voice screams… “DUCK!!!!!”
    By this time your players should be hitting the ground fast.
    This time a real duck flys down the hall. Of course the players will either kill it or fry it. Getting a duck dinner.

    Now as the DM, you should really consider how close you are to your players before reading off the last statement to the players of the “voice”.
    “Well I gave you 3 warnings…”


  10. Faery Nuff says:

    I too have been Role Playing since before escaping My teen years, lots of people said it’s not ‘Ladylike’ to DM.. but that’s what I LUV about it – no one expected the Spanish Inquisition either!
    This series is so RIGHT, in all the Wrong ways! Ohh please please – keep it up and yeah – *snickers darkly* – Twist it up too!!

  11. Wabbit says:

    “Handrail Technology” has left me laughing for 5 minutes and in the end i had trouble breathing… And getting off the stains of Coke on my screen and keyboard.

  12. mocking bird says:

    For the GM reading the wrong text, we were playing the original Temple of Elemental Evil. We search the room and the GM reads ‘In the drawer you find a dagger and a potion, both of which are covered by an invisibility spell.’

  13. septima says:

    What’s the chick’s problem?? My dear computer.

  14. Acrophile says:

    I can barely see to type, because my eyes are teary from laughing so hard while keeping quiet so as not to wake the munchkin!

    “Handrail technology” had me.

    Then Galadriel’s face reading Gandalf’s return really had me (reminds me of the identity theft commercials).

    Then “we were pretty much ignoring you anyway” got the sinuses and tears going.

    The comments though? Good grief, almost as funny as the comic itself, and a cumulative effect!

    I must stop reading now or I will certainly wake the munchkin.

  15. Randallw says:

    Many a year back, in college, I read out a description of a Dungeon magazine adventure during a game and ended with something like this
    “…..and in one corner lies a secret door….um..I didn’t say that bit”
    “We search for a secret door”

  16. Nadzghoul says:

    Damn this is funny. A friend of mine sent me this link and I have been reading it straight through… I am glad no one is around because by the time I got to this page and when I got to the images of Galadriel with the goofy open eyes I just started laughing out loud and couldn’t stop it for about 5 minutes. I can’t say I have ever had that happen before :)

  17. Nadzghoul says:

    Okay – just read this page again like 3 times and I seriously have a case of the crack-me-ups. The reminders of adventures long past in the annals of time immemorial (just trying to play along …sorry ;) This SOOOO reminds me of players in our old campaigns. Been a while, but the nostalgia is seriously there – this is bringing it all back!

  18. Oboe Cop says:

    Yup… I did that once or five times.

  19. DGLad says:

    I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. Seriously. And I currently have a bad cold, which made my son think I was launching into a heart attack, wheezing and groaning away like that.

  20. Rodafowa says:

    The best (worst) example of this I ever saw was an AD&D Dark Sun adventure. The PCs are hired for a treasure-hunt by a rich merchant-type who comes across a bit of a pushy arrogant bast but otherwise seems like a perfectly normal human. Very late in the adventure, you discover that the artifact he’s hired the party to recover is the last thing he needs to complete the process of becoming a dragon.

    You discover this by him, er, becoming a dragon when the artifact’s handed over, and promptly attempting to eat the PCs.

    Alternatively, you discover this the first time you meet him, when the adventure instructs the DM to show the party a flip-book illustration of the villain’s human form, with the title “The Dragon Speaks” clearly printed at the top.

  21. FlameKiller says:

    the new basic game has clearly defined text to read in boxes and the placement of the models in pictures with where the chests and traps are. he can keep the pics to himself and just place the minis and counters.

  22. FlameKiller says:

    Why do the elves have no handrails when it is obviously a long way down. its no wonder that the charactures voted to sleep on the ground.

  23. Torqumada says:

    Yeah, its rough when the Dm reads pre-written encounter text, especially if it isn’t appropriate for the characters playing. I once had a DM tell me that after a night of drunken debauchery, regaling tales of my heroic deeds, my character wakes up in the tavern with a hangover. This was a very devout, pious ascetic monk. In another pregenerated module, the DM was reading the text which referred to the “enslaved farie creatures playing music for their master.” (who was supposed to be the contact for the adventure) To which the entire party said “What!?” The party at the time consisted of a Fighter/Druid, a Druid, A Ranger and a Paladin. The DM stopped, looked at us and said “Forget that last part.”

  24. Meisterdieb says:

    I don’t get the part with the “handrail technolgy”…what is that supposed to mean?

    Otherwise, great going! This keeps getting funnier by the panel.

  25. FlameKiller says:

    he means that he is worried about fall damage. after all, he is low level halfling and they don’t usually have alot of hit points. that tree is tall and that is a lot of d6s he probaly would not survive if he falls. with his luck the dice would be all 6s.

  26. Seve says:

    I thought hand railing was reference to forced plots by gm…

  27. Biker says:


    Oh my aching sides. I’ve had to take my glasses off for the third time this morning to wipe the tears from my eyes.

    Too funny Shamus!


  28. JD says:

    It seems like every time we met royalty or some powerful figure, someone in the group wanted to size them up, and attack them to see if they were all the powerful… The DM usually ignored them.

  29. “So why DO we keep inflicting conversations with rulers on ourselves?
    And if GMs feel the need, how SHOULD we make “˜em work for the guys?”

    Generally, it should only be imposed on the PCs when a) the ruler is about to go Dark Lord on them (or rightfully punish them) or b) when the ruler is asking for something that the players can actually refuse. Nothing is lamer than the “But thou must!” or, worse, the subtle hint that the King doesn’t like being told “No”. The first thing is generally to have the ruler in question have some quirk that humanizes them. Maybe the guy chews snuff, or has a lisp, or one sees him kissing his Queen. Generally anything to make the ruler not just be King Whathisname. Then the ruler should ask for a favor. Alternatively, the players can talk to the jester, vizier, high-placed noble, the politically savvy princess, or even the treasurer instead.

    This could be a good encounter. The Empress of the land sees the players in her board room. She’s beautiful in a mature, matronly way, more due to her charisma and experience. She finishes a stein of beer, flirts with the players, and says, “Bob is a great advisor, but he’s totally inept. His error means that our coverage of troops has ignored a position to the north where a tribe of trolls make routine attacks. We can get you faster than our untrained regiment here. What’s your lowest bid?” The players offer bids and get the contract. In an adventuring world like D&D, with free agents, it’d behoove kings and queens to treat mercenaries like mercenaries and adventurers like adventurers and speak plainly. Sure, she could “disappear” these guys, but then when she REALLY needs adventurers the 20th level Cleric might just find out that she was naughty and killed 1st level characters for not wanting to take a job.

    Even if the player wants to keep the “King addresses the adventurers in public” feel, they can at least have the ruler act as anything but generically monarchical. Imagine a ruler that sounded and acted like John F. Kennedy.

    One other problem with pre-planned scenarios is that early GMs often think that they HAVE to end up saying every dialogue piece. In Sourcebook One, whenever I used to run the ARCHIE-3 encounter, I ended up basically reading all of Hagan’s predecessor’s lines even when the players didn’t ask. Though I can proudly say that I also added lines for questions the book DIDN’T include.

  30. cheesebunny says:

    we activly encourage sneaky preveiws this way, well we did untill the DM started to use a filofax and only brought one script, the right one. we all thought that was cheating a little

  31. Aragorn says:


  32. ERROR says:

    “Handrail technology, guys. Look into it.”
    Wonder who said that…

    “Y’know, guys, there’s this wonderful thing they invented called a HANDRAIL.”

  33. Serenitybane says:

    Love this, love your comedy, keep it up!!!!!

  34. Andrew says:

    Funny stuff, I love the roleplaying game spin on LoTR.

  35. Trae says:

    Most of the chars I play are Chaotic in one form or another, so they can pretty much act how they always do, though at least usually with more respect.

  36. ERROR says:

    Thanks to you, I can no longer look at Lord of the Rings the same way again. Not 100% sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

    Handrail technology… Can anybody tell who’s saying that? The panel’s a little ambiguous on that.

  37. John Giannakouris says:

    When Sam’s player says wazzzzzuuuuuup it reminded a moment in the campaign in which I am the DM when the players were in a diplomatic mission to ally with a kingdom and they began talking and the first thing they said was helloooo

  38. exile says:

    thanks for stuff. That one really funny really good thank you again

  39. Lizzie says:

    Hey, had an idea that might help. Why don’t you have it on a laptop and read it from there, then you can colour code the bits you’ve already read! Love this btw, its sooo funny!

  40. 4ier says:

    There are a couple of messed up character encodings in the comments.
    “A should be “A
    the… should be the…
    crap!” should be crap!”

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