DM of the Rings XXX:
Misunderstandings Abound

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Nov 15, 2006

Filed under: DM of the Rings 36 comments

Lothlorien, Galadriel, Frodo, Gimli, Aragorn.

This one has a bit of an in-joke in the second panel. The phrase, “Why is nobody ever glad to see us?!” was uttered in varying forms quite often during our campaigns.

I often tried to speak in Tolkienesque form when roleplaying some ruler or other important NPC, although the effort was usually wasted because of the misunderstandings it caused. The players would ask me to translate (or Bogan would translate) so I ended up switching to plain English anyway.

The conversations would sound like this:

SOME BIG IMPORTANT DUKE OR WHATEVER: Long has it been since these halls have seen the champions of Greymoor. Have you come now to make good on your oath?


THORDEK: Ummmm...

THUFIR: Zzzzzzz...

BOGAN: He's saying it's been a long time since we were here and he wants to know if we've done that job for him yet.

SKEEVE: It's on our to-do list.

SBIDOW: So why do you trouble my gatekeeper? Have you come to request some new boon while your old debt remains unpaid?



THUFIR: Zzzzzzz...

BOGAN: He's saying we better not ask him for anything until we do that job.

SKEEVE: I hate this guy.

THUFIR: Zzzzzzz...

THORDEK: What did he want us to do again?


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36 thoughts on “DM of the Rings XXX:
Misunderstandings Abound

  1. Flambeaux says:

    My. Experience. Exactly.


  2. Roy says:

    I love the last panel- I can’t count the number of games in general where something similar happens. You get to some sort of important character, and realize that the character wants something that you abandoned/killed/dropped/sold/broke a while back.

    Makes them wish they’d listened to the DM back on the bridge now, doesn’t it. ;)

  3. Cineris says:

    Perfect. Gimli wins it again.

  4. Telas says:

    Gimli begins to realize that gamer-logic does not always lead to the best answer…

    “Well, at the time… um…”


  5. Stratim says:

    classic. in one of our older campaigns, my character often pointed out that we had way more enemies than friends. the dm simply liked his villains too much to part with any of them

    1. Bryan says:

      I had a DM like that years ago. Also, if we went into any town or city, some random encounter would ensure we had to leave quickly and unseen. I guess that’s one way to keep us from shopping for weapons…

  6. L6 says:

    How come my comment didn’t show up? Bleh.

  7. Mark says:

    This was “DM of the Rings XXX.” I was expecting some hot hobbit-on-elf action here. Ah well. A good strip anyway:P

  8. Dave says:

    Panel 6 is my personal favorite. Don’t you just hate those (mostly computer) RPGs where the heroes are in desperate battle to stop the end of the world, and the NPCs’ idea of a suitable reward is “we’ll sell supplies to you at only a 50% markup!”?

  9. actually, I was reminded of a line by Arthur Dent. He and Ford end up on the Golgrafrincham Ark B, in the freezer hold. Number Two shows up and demands they surrender…

  10. Shamus says:

    Fledge: I’ll bet that’s the original source of the quote. Given the geek facination with quoting stuff, including that book, I’ll bet it was said the first time as a reference to the book, and thereafter as a running joke that took on a life of its own.

  11. Shamus says:

    Also Fledge: I’m sorry about Akismet arresting your comments. It ALWAYS does that to your comments. The thing really has it in for you. No matter how many times I approve your comments the thing refuses to take you off the “bad list”.

    [insert obvious joke about airport security here.]

    I don’t know what the problem is.

  12. Autumn says:

    That’s so sad! Not all gamers don’t understand!!!

  13. Roy says:

    Dave: I *know!*
    After years and years of computer characters trying to turn a profit by player attempts to save their silly digital universes from ultimate destruction at the hands of some ridiculous evil, is it any wonder why so many players jump for joy at the opportunity to lie, cheat, or steal from NPCs/Shop Keepers?

  14. Cells 3 and 4…..Oh how many times have things in my dungeons been misinterpreted. Sometimes I think I actually have to hold Cue cards to get my party to understande what they’ve been hired/sent/told etc.

    Great strip though, love the comments by the author, always good to know I’m not the only one……

  15. Zelest says:

    Ever since I started making the players suffer the conciquences of their actions or inactions they started to stay better in line. If they need to meet someone who is a grand leader of some sort and they think they got immunity and start insulting them, death might come to them swiftly.

    I rule my players with an iron hand. I’m a vicious Game Mistress ;)

  16. Lars says:

    Sorry about the late comment, but panel two just triggered a memory:

    Highly intelligent NPCs should by now be used to parties, the ways they work, and the trouble they entail. When we were infiltrating a castle, all went well until the high wizard turned up and saw a mage doing cleaning, an elf working in the kitchen, a barbarian among the guard. He twigged to the sudden appearance of several uncommon people, thought “party” and started looking around for the theif that *had* to be with us. That one hurt:) Highly intelligent NPCs should not blithly ignore strange going-ons or accept wild excuses.

    1. WJS says:

      It makes sense that he should be tipped off about the ones he sees, but assuming they must have a thief only works if the standard party structure is fairly common in the world. Otherwise he’s just metagaming.

  17. Chris says:

    Oh my god you have no idea how much you made my day with that last panel. I can remember one time my friend was DMing and we had a panel with a couple levers and some buttons and since none of us were smart enough to take decipher script we were running around looking for someone to translate the instructions. THe first person we came upon asked us about a previos (read dead) npc named horje. As soon as we explained he had parished in the explosion outside my DM friend exclaimed in a terrible spanish accent “Horje is dead?! MADRE DE CRISTO!” and promply commited suicide. Needless to say we frantically tried to find a new person and well it just got to the point that i (the one attempting to further the story) would avoid explaining horje’s plight at all costs but the first words out of someone elses mouth as soon as we found someone new was “horje is dead!!” I dont think we finished that one… that was the second time that damn panel showed up and it wasnt till the third that someone took decipher script.

  18. Ed Murphy says:

    Who needs Decipher Script when you can figure out the panel by trial and error? Heh heh heh.

    The sample mission in the Paranoia 2nd ed. rulebook included a detailed example of this. At one point, the PCs’ Multi-Terrain Vehicle auto-pilot breaks down, so they have to try to pilot it manually. The dashboard has a couple dozen controls, helpfully described something like this:

    1) Knob
    2) Knob
    3) Slider with five settings
    4) Slider with five settings
    5) Foot pedal
    6) Foot pedal
    7) Button
    8) Button

    Naturally, the instruction manual is above the PCs’ security clearance.

    (the MTV is on dry land)
    PC: “I push button 7.”
    (the anchor-release button)
    GM: “Sounds like something big fell off.”

  19. Nadzghoul says:

    ‘Is she threatening us?’ —- OH MY GOD I AM DYING HERE!!! HAHAAHAHAHAAAA!!! – After a sucky couple of days this is really making my week!!!

  20. Sewicked says:

    Intelligent monsters/NPCs suck! Like the red dragon who rolls in ashes to make himself black. Yeah, for some reason our fire spells had no effect on that ‘black’ dragon.

  21. Vayne Nomin says:

    Okay I’ve been reading this straight through (as in this day, ive sat on my butt and haven’t stopped – hehe) from the first episode, all the comments, everything. I thought I’d just make another comment here:

    This is PERFECTION! You have made me fall in love with D&D again – my group is not alone in the world when it comes to all the ingame folly we seem to find ourselves in.

    Sometimes, well, alot of times, when we are playing D&D, I think to myself, “This must only happen to our D&D crew, I bet in the other endless campaigns run by the endless hordes of D&D geeks out there – they never have these problems, issues, etc…”

    Lo and behold, we are not alone in the world, and it puts a big bright scary smile on my face.

    Thanks again.

  22. Jon says:

    Sounds like our Boot Hill games. We’d usually last about 15min, and often wouldn’t even make it half way down the first street before everyone was full of holes.

  23. Nice to identify how much hidden malice there was in that conversation. I think you also identify a key part of the logic of PCs: PCs like to interpret individual sentences out of context. Galadriel was trying to be helpful with the “edge of a knife” comment, but without bearing in mind the context it sounds like a threat. That’s why it’s nice to play online sometimes: People get out whole sentences :D

  24. Kami says:

    You make me so glad to be in the excellent groups I’m in…players will occassionally use the flowery language, and there’s never a problem with the DM doing so.
    Thanks for making me love my campaigns even more ^^

  25. Hawke says:

    How is a hitch-hiker’s guide reference an “in joke”?

  26. ERROR says:

    If I remember, it was the QUEST of the Fellowship, not the Fellowship itself, that stood on the “edge of a knife.”

  27. GONCOR the cleric-godling says:

    In the game I’m playing now, we’re supposed to keep the moons from spiriling in to crash into the planet. Only we have no idea how to do that, or where to go to find out. Then there’s this door in one building we’ve found, that is unlocked but glyphed with a summoning glyph, but which the Drow in the group (played by my wife) refuses to leave without checking what’s behind it. We’re 2 and 3rd level characters. “Please, Mr Custer, I don’t want to die.”

  28. algi says:

    “Why is nobody ever glad to see us?!”

    That’s not at all an injoke. Our party feels thatway all the time. :)

  29. Bob says:

    I love that Paranoia vehicle. For some reason every party I’ve ever run through it has managed to trigger the emergency crash dive sequence. That’s a fun one, because it gets lots of panicked pulling and pushing and twisting and sliding and stomping while they try to figure out which of the other controls shuts it off.

  30. Aztook says:

    O.o idk how people coulddnt understand most of that stuff ._. i find that sort of talk always fun :D…well its easy for me… >.> well a person who can understand the writeing of Shakespeare, i guess most might be easyer to read at times ._.

  31. exile says:

    “˜Is she threatening us? thats the best part

  32. Lisa says:

    What makes the commentary even funnier for me is that here (Australia) a ‘Bogan’ is usually someone who would need ‘High English’ translated for them. Or any kind of formal English, really.

  33. 4ier says:

    There is a messed up character encoding in the comments.
    “˜Is should be ‘Is

  34. Felidae says:

    They couldn’t get that? That was pretty clear dialogue to me, who needs that translated? Do they never read books?

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