DM of The Rings XXXVII:
Intervention Interruptus

By Shamus Posted Monday Dec 4, 2006

Filed under: DM of the Rings 41 comments

Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Lots of Orcs, Need loot, Need XP, Need babes

The Circle of Fantasy Roleplaying Life:

  1. Enchantment:You begin a new campaign. How exciting! As you play, you will eventually experience…
  2. Disillusionment: You notice all the flaws in the campaign. Loot distribution is uneven. The house rules outnumber the core rules, and the only person who knows these house rules is the DM. Some players (not you) are taking center stage. Some players greatly overpower others. The plot is on rails and none of the NPCs are likeable. You decide to cope with this through…
  3. Long Suffering: Deal with it – bad DMs happen. Give the guy a chance to learn. When the campaign gets worse it will be time to engage in…
  4. Sabotage: Try to run the campaign off the rails and kill off major characters, just to break free and do something that isn’t being imposed on you. If you’re still not having fun…
  5. Confrontation: Talk to the DM and let him or her know your concerns. If this doesn’t transform them into a great DM, then you may be obliged to resort to…
  6. Coup d’état: Get the players together and tell the DM that his work just isn’t cutting it. Appoint someone else to run the campaign. However, the DM might mange to retain power. If he owns all the books, all the dice, and you meet at his house, then kicking him out isn’t usually an option. If you can’t depose him, then the only thing left is…
  7. Exile: Make up some lame excuse about getting a girlfriend / boyfriend or a new job and find a new gaming group. Then the cycle begins anew.

It has its low moments, but I still love this game.


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41 thoughts on “DM of The Rings XXXVII:
Intervention Interruptus

  1. ChristianTheDane says:

    Haha, another gem :)

    Please dont stop when youre done with LOTR :)

  2. Tirgaya says:

    Comic awesome as usual. Commentary almost as good as comic today… double awesome.

    House rules outnumber core rules… (looks in mirror shamefaced) At least I publish an update for players to the house rules… they still don’t know them do they ?

  3. “It has its low moments, but I still love this game.”

    Amen, Brother.


  4. I have the feeling that the guy who is playing Boromir is about to get pissed off and will quit the campaign.

  5. Crusader Corim says:


    It’d be funnier if he DIDN’T get pissed off. I’d like to see the reaction of the DM if he had killed a PC who really wanted to continue, but had to let a PC live who wasn’t as interested.

    Or, maybe Boromir can live on instead of poor Smeagol.

  6. neotoma says:

    Boromir is going to die in one of those “oops, critical failure” accidents, isn’t he? I foresee the player making a new character, and getting Faramir, which will be rather hilarious, if the player is still willing to set things on fire and run around causing trouble.

  7. Selki says:

    Always do a spot check before starting a trouble-with-the-campaign dialogue with the GM.

    I love that the GM cuts in just as Gimli’s player is starting to bore on about the 2nd edition campaigns he used to run.

    @Crusader Corim:
    I love the Boromir-instead-of-Smeagol idea (I can picture him dancing with glee by the cracks of Mt Doom), but there are no still shots from the movie to make that work.

  8. LafinJack says:

    “If there are any girls there I wanna do them!”

  9. Rhykker says:

    Can’t wait to see how you’re going to handle Boromir.

    Great stuff.

  10. Parable says:

    Ah, railroading at its best… They better get some dam xp from all those orcs. Hell, i’d confront a DM like this if i were in the game. Not that i could do any better myself… i’ve tried… i’d rather not talk about it ::huddles in corner::
    Boromir will most likely meet the same fate that i regularly met… “How the hell did i roll a one?!?! I had two dice. What? I trip over a rock and a tiny scorpion kills me. You bastard!”
    Okay, not exactly, but you get the gist of it.

  11. Steve says:

    This is the part where the DM (or me in my example) pull out the rarely used ‘wrestling’ and ‘overbearing’ rules and have the vast majority of Orcs over bear and kill the annoying Pcs.. I used to make my parties go through the old module “Dragon Mountain” or “I hate Bloody Kobolds as some player called it” just to get some revenge.

    Nice words of wisdom, Shamus…

  12. Spider says:

    I don’t think the player will be leaving. He’s got to stay around to complain about how his character got killed, long after the fact.

  13. fair_n_hite_451 says:

    The lowest point in my railroading career:

    The party buys themselves some dogs as additional muscle, and the next gaming session, we can’t find all the doggie figurines. I rule one died.

    Players: What? How did he die?
    DM: Tuberculosis.


    1. Tachi says:


      This made me laugh more than the strip.

  14. Telas says:

    You don’t need obscure rules to make Kobolds frustrating. Favored class: Sorcerer, Trapmaking +4, “narrow and low” tunnels, “shoot and move” skirmishing, party-splitting traps, swarmfighting, etc.

    Oh, and the DM is listening. “Sounds like these guys are getting pretty frustrated. Maybe we just need a good knock-down, drag-out fight.”

  15. Telas says:

    “Or maybe we should just split the party.”

    Heh. I do love this game, warts and all…

  16. Dracnar says:

    The worst case of railroading I experianced we when we had three doors to choose from and the DM gave us a riddle that dirrected us to go through the 2nd door. We wanted to go through the 1st door and we went through it to only be in the same room again. We were pissed that she would come up with a riddle only to make us have to go through the 2nd door.

  17. Erik says:

    Please, please, please, do Serenity after LotR is done. This stuff is just too good. Any chance you could look at making a print version of this stuff after it’s all done? (I know that licensing w/New Line and the Tolkien estate is easier said than done.)

  18. Me says:

    Some great roleplaying moments:

    1) The party settles down for the night. The guy on watch decides to head off to explore the graveyard as he has a hunch that’s where the trouble is . . .

    2) A player quits the game, and says we can’t use his character in the game any more, as it’s his intellectual property . . .

    3) A player manages to use the goad feat. Yes, the player not the character. Scene: Figher-type is getting the proverbial pounded out of him when suddenly the monsters decide another PC might be tastier. Player objects, whining “Why isn’t he attacking me any more?”. GM: “Because I didn’t want to smear your *$^%#@ PC across the dungeon, but since you insist!”. D20=20. Roll to confirm: 20. Max Damage.

  19. Loxley says:

    Your comic is incontinence-inducingly funny. I have laughed until I cried… cried as if my dog had just died. Nearly passed out from lack of oxygen. Oh. My. God.

    I like the way you think and would like to subscribe to your newsletter. :)

  20. Phil C. says:

    I am CRYING with laughter at this comic. Not sure where I found the link but I’ve read the archives and will be breathlessly awaiting new installments. Huge Lord of the Rings fan, huge D&D fan…..and ALL of it’s been true so far. :)

  21. Deoxy says:

    Another winner – goodness, I’m almost taking their wonderfulness for granted now.

    Oh, and here’s another incredibly subtle hint to give your pathetic and groveling readers the rest of the story from your D&D campaign. Or at least a summary… please?

  22. Wow. I am so glad to have found this by accident. I’m giddy from having read what must have been months of work in a matter of 1/2 an hour (with comments added), I will put this on my bookmarks page, with
    (and you folks really should check out the archives and persue the T shirt shop – geek heaven! – the author is a mac using D&D fan!) and
    (from the UK, where the entire population is nerds, geeks, eccentrics and surly police with no guns).

    (That last bit about the UK is Soooo not true)

  23. Birkoff says:

    Make up some lame excuse about getting a girlfriend or a new job… this won’t work for me, my girlfreind is in the group, and when I got a job they changed our starting time…

  24. Kay Shapero says:

    Once upon a time, a GM complained to me that the players were all holed up in a castle and wouldn’t come out and DO things. I suggested a volcano in the courtyard… :)

  25. Arthur Prado says:

    You make me depressed about RPG, you know?

  26. Rafata says:

    I have no comment, beside that this is made of awesome.

    I just wanted to say that my Anti-spam word is d20!

  27. Randallw says:

    I had a case of railroading, I didn’t even know the term but I get it, where I had the local church toughs lean on the players to get out of the city so they’d go onto the next adventure which required them to sign on with a merchant.

  28. EmeraldTiara says:

    Has anyone else noticed that Gimmle has no left pupil in panel 4?

  29. Sewicked says:

    My second time running a game (first was a complete & utter failure that we will not mention again), but I’m helped by published modules. I’m on the second module which has one bottleneck. Instead of running to the warehouse (where they’ll get help & meet their next contact), the players scatter to the four winds (off the dock into the water, fighting the oncoming overwhelming forces, etc).

    please remember, I was a newbie gm. I ended up, in tears and sobbing in the bedroom until one of the players, an experienced gm, talked me out. He also told of this neat idea that can be used, although sparingly: gm fiat. “Do it this way guys or we gots no game tonight.”

    1. Moridin says:

      I’ve had a similar experience myself: 8 players starting in 6 or 7 different locations and one of the first times I was GMing. And it was mostly my own fault, too, for allowing it to happen in the first place. I somehow managed to get through the session only to realize that the plot didn’t really make sense with those characters.

  30. FlameKiller says:

    DM’s love players that love to fight so they fight and don’t complain abought the bad story.

  31. TheDeepDark says:

    The fact that the orcs were actually *Supposed* to show up right here is mere coincidence. No better way to avoid these discussions then railroading the players with a massive attack. :D
    “There are seven ogres surrounding you.”
    I love this, Shamus!

  32. Toil3T says:

    I agree. Pissed-off DM? Bored DM? XP for the PC’s! (If they survive). I just _know_ this is how we’ll start that battle with those 6000 hobgoblins in our next session, or the one after that.

  33. Thehee says:

    I love the comic. Just started D&D a month or so ago, and it’s been awesome. These comics have pretty much exposed all the things I’ve already seen: The getting bored, breaking out of the prewritten story, making GM silent by doing something he wasn’t exactly expecting, sacrificing NPC’s for the good of our group…

    Good job, want moar!

  34. ultimate rper says:

    i love to mess with a new dm’s plot its soooo easy lol

  35. cheesebunny says:

    our DM is just too resorceful, but then again so are we. ^^

  36. LOTR says:

    Oh yeah!!!!! i <3 lotr and d&d even tho ive only been able 2 play it like 2times and the other players r like a million years ahead of us.

  37. Trae says:

    “2) A player quits the game, and says we can't use his character in the game any more, as it's his intellectual property . . .”

    This happened once. The player had it planned that I could run his character, but I had to find some way to make him permanently dead in a way that the DM couldn’t revive him later as an NPC or something. The fight after this agreement, the character was randomly turned to stone by a medusa. Sometimes things just work out.

  38. gmdmb says:

    I love the comic and i have to say everything said is so true to life.
    I chose this on to reply to because i can relate to it well when i was just starting to DM my own games i was horrible, everything i did was scripted and planned. it took a while (and several groups) but i finally figured out that you do not have to script everything. In fact my players have told me that i do mt best work when just make it up as i go along

  39. Slayne Wulfe says:

    Wow, I’m just now finding your comic, and many of your problems with ridiculous characters are hitting a mark here…A whole lot of OUCH I’ve been there! kinda moments. But it seems like you are forcing alot of them on yourself. I think this strip summed them all up. Maybe if you didn’t railroad you wouldn’t see this kind of rebellion. Seriously, I’ve never had a player revolt, OR bored characters (for more than one “scene” with the occasional time hogging player moment). This makes me kinda sad. If players want to be railroaded, they can just play electronic rpgs.

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