DM of the Rings XXXI:
Familiar Lamentations

By Shamus Posted Friday Nov 17, 2006

Filed under: DM of the Rings 39 comments

Lothlorien, Lament for Gandalf, No Brothels, Legolas, Spock, Aragorn.

Players are always in a hurry to reach town. Once there, they will be in even more of a hurry to leave.


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39 thoughts on “DM of the Rings XXXI:
Familiar Lamentations

  1. Saelwen says:

    Good one, once again. Why, your brilliance almost exceeds mine!
    As a Paladin my character is very fond of cities as well, yet always in a hurry to leave and do good. I know what you mean!

  2. Ishmael says:

    “We haven’t seen a blacksmith since Tristram.”
    “Yeah, that place.”

    I sometimes wonder why I bother coming up with names for towns. Either the players don’t notice or they make fun of it. I started a campaign once, and I named the town something I admit was somewhat ridiculous. It sounded soemthing like “Hanna on the Mountain.” What followed was 45 minutes of jokes about the name of the town, courtesy of the players. That campaign never got played again.

    1. Andy says:

      Hanna on the mountain sounds suspiciously like it translates to “Hanna Montana” so it’s no surprise the players were amused.

  3. GreyDuck says:

    “Tristram,” HAH! Still, Galadriel’s spiel is less annoying than any given thirty seconds spent listening to Deckard Cain…

    1. ANdy says:

      Tru dat, I always talk to the screen when Deckard Cain is doing his monolog and say, your hokey Horadrim religion is no match for a good sword/schythe/claw at your side.

  4. The Pancakes says:

    Often it seems that my players would be happier with several hours of non-stop scenario-focused battles than having to go through the twin drudgery of ‘plot’ and ‘story’

    I’ve spent hundreds of hours developing detailed settings to immerse my players in the campaign only to have them ignore important NPCs and clues in favor of pointless shopping expeditions (Can I buy materials for scrolls here? Where’s the magic item shop?) and tavern brawls. I’ve come to the conclusion that what they really want is an individualized role-play experience AKA a solo-quest.

    I once went the other direction with all of it and ran my game as a loosely-connected series of encounters on a battlemat, complete with 3-d terrain. The first few encounters went well, but soon they were bickering with me over ‘level-appropriate’ foes and complaining that they weren’t getting enough loot. Within 2 sessions they were complaining that they were tired of the ‘miniatures game’ and wanted to return to more ‘role-playing’

    What did this mean? Basically they wanted to go back to town so they could shop and pick a fight in the local tavern.

    Sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

  5. Tobester says:

    This is absolutely, utterly brilliant stuff. I just read the whole lot of them today for the first time. I was crying with laughter.
    It reminds me of a session I ran, and a conversation that went like this:
    GM in character: ‘Tell me your name.’
    Player: (after pause) ‘I tell him my name.’
    GM: ‘You can’t remember your character’s name, can you?’
    Player: ‘No.’

  6. Telas says:

    We have a knack for re-naming NPCs and places.

    In a Forgotten Realms campaign, the mighty djinn A’juu was called “Beef Juice” (his name sounded like ‘au jus’), and the Durakistad Coin became known as “Durka-durka-stan” (as in “Team America”).

    And you don’t want to know about “Blackstaff” Arundsen…

  7. Rob says:

    These continue to be very funny! Bards are drawn to the cities the way moths are drawn to flame. It sounds like the rest of you need more bards!

  8. Cineris says:

    Greyduck: Still, Galadriel's spiel is less annoying

    I don’t know if annoying is a word I’d use to characterize Galadriel’s spiel … At least not if delivered by Cate Blanchett. I’d give an organ or two to listen to it myself.

  9. haashaastaak says:

    towns are inherently boring in these games, because you depend on them for your supplies so they aren’t good places to kill people and set things on fire. Out in the wilderness you’re supposed to do that.

  10. Rhykker says:

    I just read your archive… genius. This is exactly the type of humor I love, and similar to the humor I employ in my own webcomic.

    Tristram… nice Diablo reference.

    This is definitely being added to the short list of webcomics I follow. Keep up the great work. Kudos.

  11. Teria says:

    Hi there, Germany calling. :) I accidentally stumbled over (read: was directed to by a hysterically laughing friend) your comic, and I love it. It’s witty and funny and definitely worth revisiting every morning in hope for an update. *hands out the ‘Bookmark of Webcomic Fun’ medal*

  12. Hello from Canada. I have returned to D&D after a long hiatus (during which the old Empire fell and arose anew, from the ashes of… sorry, that’s not even one of my characters), mirroring a lot of my peers’ experiences. There’s about a 10 – 20 year age gap between my group and the apparent majority of those frequenting the local shop (Dueling Grounds – and I don’t know why, but they spell it with one L). And you know what? I just pretend the place is full of halflings. I pick up some miniatures or what have you, have a little chat with the proprietor, and as I make my way through the mob of halflings, gibbering about their campaigns and drunk on mountain dew (the owner really wanted a euro-style cafe, but kids shouldn’t drink their caffeine – heh!), I have a clear view of the door = over their heads, ready for traps and ambushes.
    Anyway, Shamus, thanks a million for this. I’ll send the link to my DM.

    FYI, more than 1/2 of my DMs have been women since I started playing in 1981. They also hate being babysitters but are often better at dealing with group dynamics – Hmm.
    My blogsite is about NYC, not D&D. I put most of that sort of passion into the game and the artwork.

  13. julianj says:

    This is hysterical.

    I agree with Damien’s comment. I too have had many excellent female GMs, and the poster a couple of pages back who apparently was criticised for being a female GM should get a classier bunch of players IMHO.

  14. Kay Shapero says:

    One of the most well known DMs around when the game first started in the early ’70s was Lee Gold. Who is female, still runs role playing games, and still publishes Alarums and Excursions. I used to have a zine therein before Real Life got in the way.

    Meanwhile, I was the only DM in the Klingon Star Empire for quiet awhile before some of the others, both sexes, got in on the act.

  15. sybill says:

    lol Tobester

    “GM in character: “˜Tell me your name.'
    Player: (after pause) “˜I tell him my name.'
    GM: “˜You can't remember your character's name, can you?'
    Player: “˜No.'”

    soooo funny i had to add it to my forum sig. I’ve had pc’s do that and i’ve been an pc that has done it.

  16. septima says:

    Aragorn in film don’t need a brothel. he can choose between two women. This Aragorn is desperate. “This town sucks” I know, boy.

  17. unatick says:

    me: Hi my name is Adrian De ja vu
    GM: Haven’t i seen you somewhere before?

  18. warren says:

    I would be saying well, that fire thing works well on the naz thingies, so how about some fire arrows and four bows? Trying to save the world and everything. (Still worth money even if they can’t be used).

    I wonder how they make metal arrows and metal armor without a forge.

  19. toft says:

    > Ishmael:
    > I started a campaign once, and I named the town something
    > I admit was somewhat ridiculous. It sounded soemthing like
    > “Hanna on the Mountain.”

    I once DMed the party around a region consisting of rural trails, with local Lordings (all Barons). I came up with about 30 village names. One of them was “Ammener” (appropriately mythic i thought).

    Until everyone was chorusing: “Baron Ammener (dah-DAAH-de-dah-dah)” for the rest of the evening. Quite spoilt the Gothic flavour i was trying to build up.

  20. henrebotha says:

    lol of destiny @ “tristram”

  21. Menally says:

    My most recent DM simply calls his towns names like N’t’mp’rt’nt (Not important) or Y’llf’rg’tnwy (You’ll forget anyway). It’s much easier than with my previous DM who kept trying to throw new characters at us. He got very upset because we killed his random PC with the talking??? gerbil. Apparently the PC was supposed to be comic relief/plot hook, and decided he was out to get us. Oh well.

  22. Aragorn says:

    tristram???DIABLO tristram??????? I PLAY DIABLO!!!!!! :) fun comic cant wait fer diablo 3!

  23. cheesebunny says:

    poor man, can we get a brothel in here?!

  24. Serenitybane says:

    Ahaha YES! “How about it, Spock?” Made me laugh. Having LOTR, D&D, AND a taste of other geeky shows makes you my favorite comic artist! Awesome!

  25. GONCOL the cleric-godling says:

    I have a rep for coming up with different sounding names for my characters. One of my character is named Shalomin Shampoor, a cleric-magic user who is from a place much like Earth’s India.
    The other players call him “Shampoo.” I hate that.
    My previous character was Grog of Neverdark, Cleric of Loki, which is where I got the screen name GONCOL, which is an acronym for Grog of Neverdark, Cleric of Loki, which is what I called him, in full, every time I mentioned his name. It was ALWAYS Grog of Neverdark, Cleric of Loki, never simply Grog.
    Maybe that’s why the other players are giving Shampoo, er, I mean Shalomin such a hard time.

    1. Tachi says:

      This is why I use names that will come out with cool nicknames.
      Example: A cleric named Drayal Doir. Nickname ended up as “Dr. Dray.” Which is extra funny to me because I HATE rap music.

  26. Blain says:

    I feel your pain man. I don’t know how many times I have spent hours working on some adventure just for the players to ignore everything and want to go through the adventure all in one sitting. Then they get upset if they’re not leveling up every session.

  27. Trae says:

    I’ve never had trouble remembering the names of my characters, and I try to keep them sounding good. Drake Steele, Slate Cobalt, Bong Cha Yeo (bon-guh cha yee-oh) are examples.

  28. henrebotha says:

    @Trae: hahahahahahahaha

    “I try to keep them sounding good”

    “Drake Steele”

    “I try to keep them sounding good”


  29. Andrew says:

    You know, he does kinda does look like Diablo’s Warrior…

  30. Bob says:

    In one campaign I played in briefly, the DM for some reason didn’t want to give the main city we started in an actual name, so he just called it “the imperial city.” At one point, he stated that the city was only a couple of hundred years old… which meant that some of the PCs (particularly the elf) were actually older than the city they supposedly grew up in, at which point the elf began declaring repeatedly “we BUILT this city!” anytime the town authorities tried to hassle him for something (which was pretty frequent, since it was one of those laser guided homing plots).

    The entire party eventually wound up using this as the name: “So, are we going to head back to Webuiltthis City yet?”

    Moral: Give an NPC/location/mystic mcguffin a name, and people probably won’t remember it, but FAIL to give one a name, and you’ll REALLY wish you had.

    1. Andy says:

      Anyone else have a “Starship” tune in their heads right now ?

  31. Alasseo says:

    @Bob- Please tell me that the elves in that campaign had a musical tradition that was melody led, with a strong bass and drum lines, and a preponderance of simple chords and dyads of the pattern root+(3rd+)5th?

    If so, then definite potential for awesome quote seguing:

    “We BUILT this city… on ROCK and ROLL!”

    1. Bob says:

      Generally how it would go is this.

      NPC: We can’t have you causing trouble like this in the city!
      Elf: We BUILT this city!
      Some other PC: We built this city with rocks!
      The rest of the party: And rolls!

  32. Greg says:

    I usually have had good luck with them remembering towns, typically because I provide a large dry erase map containing everything their backgrounds would allow someone in the party to know of, and I fill in as they learn of places. But my NPC names are the ones that kill me. I had a raptoran monk NPC that I was so proud of… *goes and digs out the character sheet*. His name was Kanaselavain. I randomly generated it from the book on Raptorans. His name meant “mountain eagle spirit.” But once they heard his name and thought I said “Can of cellophane” it was all over for him. *sigh*

  33. DAC says:

    Rivendell had a forge, it’s where Narsil was remade, but the players must have missed it.

  34. 4ier says:

    There are a few messed up character encodings in the comments.
    Galadriel's should be Galadriel’s

    There are a bunch of open and close apostrophes. I have the Unicode characters below for find/replace, or you can use a generic one.
    “˜ should be ‘
    ' should be ’

    “Hanna should be “Hanna
    Mountain.” should be Mountain.”

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