DM of the Rings XXXIX:
Don’t Hate the Player

By Shamus Posted Friday Dec 8, 2006

Filed under: DM of the Rings 75 comments

Boromir, Lots of Orcs, Hitpoints, Player Death

So after a couple of weeks of speculation about what will happen to Boromir, you can… speculate some more!

On Monday I’ll have the other “half” of his death. It was just too big to cram into one strip.

As I write this I find I can only do one of two things at any given time:

  1. Tell the story
  2. Tell a joke

I really envy the skill of Rich Burlew, author of Order of the Stick. His strips are able to advance the story and deliver the funny at the same time. I’m still getting a feel for how to make a comic, and the longer I do it the more I see how hard it is to move the plot forward while telling a joke. The best strips so far are the ones where the characters just have a bit of preposterous dialog and the plot doesn’t go anywhere. The lamest ones are where I just move everyone to the next batch of jokes.

Still, these are fun to make. I’m not sick of them yet.


From The Archives:

75 thoughts on “DM of the Rings XXXIX:
Don’t Hate the Player

  1. Hoyce says:

    Awesome site all around! I eagerly await all the next episodes!

    And for what it’s worth, I found “Me and my -5 Hit Points are just going to take a little nap now” to be rather amusing.


  2. Bugz says:

    Oh, man! Don’t apologise. These strips are hilarious, and there isn’t a one of them that I consider to be anything less than classic. It may be because I am:
    a). A Tolkien fan from way back
    b). A fan of the movies as well.
    c). A fan of role playing games, too.

    But given that combination, of course I am going to get a kick out of your work. Even so, your choice of screen captures, plus your timing and delivery of not only the story, but the gags as well, make this a riot.

    So, no more apologies. Just keep ’em coming!

  3. Mom says:

    I was hoping since gollum died (which didn’t happen in LotR) that Boromir would live. But I was forgetting you don’t have screen shots of him after this scene. But I’m sure YOU can do anything, even reshoot parts of the movie.
    Your biggest Fan.

    1. anndreana says:

      not to be rude but why is a mom reading this?
      do you even play dungions and dragons

      1. Julian says:

        “Not to be rude”, but get a clue. That was a pretty rude/ignorant thing to say/ask. Why would you presume moms couldn’t enjoy this? — “Andreanna” means you’re female, yes? Some day you’ll be old. Whether or not you’ll be a mom is a different question but don’t you think you would still be capable of having humor once you’re older? Sometimes becoming a mom just happens, even to fairly young people. Believe me, while it affects all aspects of one’s life, the same person is still in you, so… Parents are allowed to have fun too. :-)

        FYI, in case you didn’t know, other authority figures (teachers, doctors and yes, even cops) also have lives and hobbies and interests that may or may not include D&D :-P

  4. John Horst says:

    Thou art too judgmental upon thyself. Your loyal audience enjoyeth these greatly.

  5. You are getting the notice all over, amigo. One of the cool folks who create “Home on the Strange” just did a review in his well-followed Live Journal (, so you’ll be getting more traffic soon.

  6. Clodia says:

    I came from the Ferrett’s LJ.

    Awesome comic! I look forward to reading the rest of it.

  7. Nazgul says:

    Funny you should mention OOTS… I love the fact that you’re alternating new comics with him during the week. Now I have something to look forward to when I start up my computer every morning. :)

    The death of Boromir always reminds me of Bored of the Rings:

    “Five-eleven’s your height, one ninety your weight.
    You cash in your chips around page eighty-eight.”

    (As promised, on page 88 he trips over his sword belt and impales himself on his pointed shoes.)

  8. Carl the Bold says:

    I wouldn’t have called Boromir a “low-level” fighter, but perhaps I would have made a similar comment had I been playing the character and been beset by an infinite number of orcs.

    The comment you made about having to do either (1) Comedy or (2) Plot Advancement, but not both, is telling. I, for one, could do neither. The strip you reference, with the party floating merrily down the stream (or ‘Great River’, as the case may be) may not have been hilarious, but I chuckled, and it *is* vital to the story. Can’t just have them ‘steal’ the boats and not show them floating merrily down the stream (or ‘Great River’, as the case may be). I confess to being disapponited we didn’t get to see the Argonoth. Aragorn certainly would have had an amusing line about that.

  9. Karaden says:

    “I’m not sure what the challenge rateing is on an infinite number of orcs…”

    Not much more to say, great one liner… should be put on a shirt or something, but it may be a bit too long.

  10. SteveDJ says:

    Oh, no! Not a cliff hanger, over the weekend?!? Argh!

    Great comic – keep ’em coming!

    P.S. Maybe this would have been a good time for a double-length strip today? Half could move the story along, and the other half could deliver the joke. :-)

  11. Snowy says:

    Shirt… (mobius strips)(Orc Heads) + “Lvl 3 Fighter” = (dead face)

    The “Me and my minus five hit points” bit could make a good shirt too.

    An excellent comic, sir. When we start thinking about wearing your one-liners, you know you’re doing well.

  12. theonlymegumegu says:

    You’ve kept us all entertained thus far, so you can’t be doing *too* bad. Keep it up!

    (somehow I’m reminded of the MERP book that showed that Merry gained, like 8 levels, when he and Eowyn defeated the witch-king…)

  13. DMDonPablo says:

    Love the comic. I have laughed myself to tears at work more than once. This current one sums up our last DM who always seemed to have one more wave of bad guys (he called them “reinforcements”). In fact, you know… there was always one more wave, errr group of reinforcements than we could handle. Hmmm? We fight off two waves, here comes the third; we fight off three waves, here comes the fourth… I wonder… me thinks we were set up.

  14. David B says:

    That’s it? More! I demand more!

    I too found you through “theferret”‘s LJ.

  15. Monkeyman says:

    Rich is very talented, but you need to remember that a) he sometimes gets into very sporadic update schedules, and b) he sometimes will do a double strip to be able to work in a joke. You say that you’re still figuring out this comic strip stuff, and I think you’re doing a mighty fine job of it, all things considered. Keep up the great work!

  16. AngiePen says:

    You’re doing well enough to have a bunch of people bouncing over here regularly to see the next installment so don’t feel bad. :D

    That said, Order of the Stick rocks many truckloads of socks, definitely. [nodnod]


  17. Julie says:

    I’m not sick of them yet either. Thanks for sticking with this!

  18. Telas says:

    What do you mean, can’t advance the story and tell a joke???

    “Me and my minus five hit points are just going to take a little nap, now.”

    That’s comedy gold, and WILL be repeated at gaming tables around the world over the next month.

    Also, the fact that you’re even thinking of comparing yourself to Rich Burlew is a feat (no, it’s not one of those feats, either).

  19. Zudrak says:


    I was referenced here by the good folks posting on the Troll Lord Games boards. I read all of the strips today and had a hard time keeping my laughter to a minimum. Thanks for the laughs and keep it going. I’ve added this to my favorites.

    Great stuff — and ranks right up there with OOTS, in my opinion. Now I get two sources of RPG funny.

    Happy gaming,

  20. Shamus says:

    Also, the fact that you're even thinking of comparing yourself to Rich Burlew is a feat (no, it's not one of those feats, either)

    Yeah, I took the “Presumptuous Audacity” feat way back when I was a level 1 blogger.

    1. Andy says:

      Surely that’s a level 2 Paladin feat and you always struck me as a Bard.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Are you talking the original bard,or the useless bard?

  21. Corwin says:

    I, for one, was sucked in by DM of the Rings, but I stay for the whole blog. I get excited every time Google Reader informs me there’s a new Twenty Sided entry to read.

  22. Prograde says:

    Dude – never apologise. This is really, really great stuff.

    If you feel you need to choose: We already know the plot – go for the funny.

  23. Steelbutcher says:

    I dub thee “Shameless Shamus”, for thou hath nothing to be ashamed of. *tears form in eyes* You had me at “Holy epic backstory”. I only wish you had included a shot of the uruk-hai archer so that readers could ask “How come he didn’t draw the bow to his eye?”…

  24. Me says:

    >”How come he didn't draw the bow to his eye?”…

    That’s easily explained . . . you see, Uruk-Hai have a special subcutaneous eye specially adapted for archery which allows them . . .

  25. Deoxy says:

    “Still, these are fun to make. I'm not sick of them yet.”

    And neither are we! Keep it up!

    “Thou art too judgmental upon thyself. Your loyal audience enjoyeth these greatly.”

    My inner linguistic geek takes over: it should be “THY loyal audience”. Wow, I’m a sad, pathetic person.

    “I wouldn't have called Boromir a “low-level” fighter”

    Me neither – go back and look watch his death scene again. Right afterwards, it shows the scene from a ways back, and Boromir’s body (with Aragorn et al standing around him) is surrounded by dead orcs. DOZENS of them, at least. I’ve seen a “single low-level fighter” cut down by ONE sttandard orc.

  26. Deoxy says:

    Oh, and here’s another subtle hint/reminder about your RPG campaign diary…

  27. Robert Dytmire says:


    I started lurking around here before the rings comics…was drawn to your RPG diary….can you PLEASE post an update?

  28. It’s gonna be a bit harder from here on out, because the party scatters into small groups who all have their own stories. For the books that works, but for an RPG it doesn’t.

  29. Karaden says:

    Speaking of the party getting broken up, I’m sure mary (or is it pippin? I always get them mixed up) is going to be thrilled when he gets some one on one time with old pointy hat. Nothing like multi-day horseback ride with a high level NPC (who apperently barred conjuration or something since he can’t teleport) to get the blood going.

  30. SteveZilla says:

    This is one of my top 4 websites to read/watch. The other three are OOTS, Red vs. Blue, and Girl Genius (by Phil Foglio). Keep up the good work!

  31. Ermel says:

    Just found this via a link from Dan’s Data. I tremendously enjoyed reading it all in one sitting, *even* *though* I: 1. Am not a Tolkien fan, 2. Have not seen the movies, 3. Haven’t been role-playing for decades (and that was SF, not fantasy). I barely know enough to get your drift. And it’s still *great* reading. Do not ever stop making these!

  32. Wonderduck says:

    “Dude – never apologise.”

    He doesn’t have a choice, that’s how he is. He’s one of those people that thinks that anything he creates is crap-on-a-stick and he’s embarrassed to inflict it on people… Fred Gallagher of Megatokyo is another one of ’em.

    But yet, they keep inflicting, don’t they? And people keep enjoying the results… and the authors JUST DON’T GET IT.

    It’s actually a little annoying:
    Author: “This stinks.”
    Fans: “No, actually, it’s hilarious, please make more.”
    A: “I can’t, it blows aardvark chunks.”
    F: “Seriously, it’s the funniest thing ever!”
    A: “Nope, it’s awful.”
    F: “Look at Don over there… he’s crying from laughing so hard!”
    A: “He’s just being kind.”
    …et cetera.

  33. pdwalker says:

    Brilliant! Positively Brilliant!

    It just keeps getting better.

  34. Greendrum2 says:

    This comic is definatly as good as OOTS. Keep up the good work man, you had me on the floor lauhing on multiple occasions.

  35. Ali says:

    this is so awsome! i just wish they came out faster… :)

    and i’ve never played D&D but this is still hilarious

  36. Clyde says:

    I haven’t played D&D since the first Reagan administration, and it wasn’t quite so complicated then, but I still love these strips. We had the same type of players twenty-plus years ago. (These days, it’s all “Oblivion,” all the time for me! Makes it hard to watch the LOTR movies, because then I want to get out my own elven bow and do the Legolas thing my own self…)

  37. Ondo says:

    Have found The DM of the Rings yesterday. My stomach hurts from laughing. Although I don’t play D&D, I’m vaguely familiar with it, enough to get most of the jokes. My brother had told me about The Order of the Stick, and now I’ll return the favour by telling him about The DM of the Rings. Good work, really!

  38. Finn says:

    I enjoy reading these! Every day I check is there a new one present. Thanks a lot allready and hope you wont’t get tired!

  39. Saelwen says:

    “And I’m kind of… not winning”

    Fantastic, man. Exactly the way I felt last time we were playing.
    Me: Paladin
    Him: Evil, dark, maggotty guy
    I run towards him, thrust my beautiful +3 sword right through his chest and… My sword melts. Ouch. Not good for the paladin ego.

    Keep ‘m comin’! You’re in my top three with *OOTS* and *Goblins; Life Through Their Eyes*

  40. flu chra dan says:

    Dude, I will turn everyone I think will find this funny on to it. oh and my DM too…

  41. Yahzi says:

    This is hilarious!

    Just read every page in one sitting. Can’t wait to see more!

  42. Autumn says:

    I think my favourite ones so far are the ones where the GM talks to the players oocly, but the bubble is coming from the NPCs mouths.

  43. Guy says:

    Well if you can either tell the story or tell a joke, I say give us a joke. We already know the story.

  44. Phil says:

    “Me and my minus five hit points are just going to take a little nap, now.”

    That's comedy gold, and WILL be repeated at gaming tables around the world over the next month.

    Amen. The next year even. I just hope it’s not my character saying it! :-)

  45. Deep Thought says:

    Ooooh. Keep it up! My son laughs every time Gimli breaks out the ‘old timer’ language. I’m not sure why, although it does remind me of a 1st edition campaign I was in once. It was based on Empire of the Petal Throne, but the DM had changed it a bit and was using some C&C rules ….

  46. Dave says:

    Ok.. I’m 41.. officially old.. so when I say, “Dude, you like so rock” it is meant as a compliment.. It is the goods.. don’t compare yourself to another strip.. this is real, genuine satire.. as good as it gets.. it is professional. .. honest.

  47. Gwen says:

    I can top that! I mentally corrected “your” to “thy” and then realized what was wrong with the two sentences and went back and corrected “thou” to “you”, “thyself” to “yourself”, and “thy” to “your”. Which makes the “art” “are”. Speak not to a writer of his stature so familiarly, knave, lest thou give offense and a fan challenge thee to the field of honor!

    Um. So, er…do I get an award? Most Sad and Pathetic Person Here or something?

    And as far as the plot/funny thing goes: this was plenty funny. At least the “*snort*” comics (like this one) give one a chance to catch one’s breath from the “*laughs uproariously*” comics (like the Monty Python one. Are you trying to kill me, here?), and keeping your audience members breathing is an important part of ensuring high return rates.

  48. Rooks says:

    aw dude I t hought you’d put a thing about cover and how brorimir was the only fighter smart enought o bring a shield but then he forgets it on the canoe durring the first fight with ranged weapons

  49. Brian says:

    You know what’s weird? The link you gave to the ‘lamest one’ so far is actually the one I’ve laughed at the hardest so far. The idea of having your only xp-able victory be the death of the annoying-but-necessary friendly NPC was damn hi-larious to me. So don’t sell yourself short! ^_^

  50. Victor says:

    I love OotS myself, but this website is definitely up there as well. its the comments at the end that are both instructional and hilarious that make your strip stand out!

  51. milander says:

    “bloody hell, not another cave orc..”

    – yep and he’s coming at you –

    “cast firebolt and zap the bugger”

    – good roll, good hit, he’s dead –

    “please doN’t keep those things coming DM, too easy”

    – a rock falls on your head, dodge 0, damage +20 –


  52. JLM says:

    Obviously, I’m late to this party (and posting drunk to boot), but as others have already said, you are being too harsh on yourself: this is a work of towering genius, and comparisons to the Order of the Stick are irrelevant. Works of great art are not commensurable. You have significantly brightened my day, and quite possibly my life. Thank you.

  53. warren says:

    Never split the party.

  54. TheDeepDark says:

    As it happens, I’m not familiar with this “OOTS” (an apparent short-coming on my part). Though I haven’t seen any reference to “8-bit theater” Which was how I’d been getting my rpg fix for the last while (I recently moved across the country from my usual group) before a friend pointed me here. I continue to love how much I see of myself and old gaming sessions in this…

  55. Robel says:

    Well I have to say the “Me and my -5 hitpoints” think got me falling out of my chair. I`m not joking. It hurt. This story is the funniest thing i`ve read on the internet :D

  56. Fox One says:

    Well, I’m new around here, but I couldn’t miss pointing out… descend not decend (first frame). Also somewhat surprised no one else pointed it out yet…

    Oh yeah, and this comic is great… I doubt there’ much I can say that hasn’t been said, but, it’s a lot of fun to read.

  57. Jodin_San says:

    Yes the -5 hit points was funny but what had me in tears was the “Wow. That is a lot of orcs. And I’m kind of…” Thwap! Thwap! Thwap! “Not winning.”

    Awesomeness. With a side of… awesomeness.

  58. ultimate rper says:

    i hate dms like the one in yer web comic…….but it is done really well and hilarious lol

  59. ERROR says:

    Hit points is two words, not one. You spelled it “hitpoints.”

    Boromir has now become a human pincushion.

    “Hey, Pincushion! How ya doin’?”
    “Shut up and get me a healing potion!”
    “Sorry, man, there’s no such thing.”
    “I HATE this campaign!”

  60. Michael says:

    Hey, don’t nitpick the spelling. It’s only a year and a half later, wait for the book to be published.

  61. dude, says:

    the reason OotS is able to do jokes and storyline at the same time is because the jokes are the storyline.

  62. Samantha says:

    That was so funny! I laughed so hard when “Boromir” said – Im kind of not winning. ha!

  63. Demoneq says:

    That makes me wonder, what (if) is the explanation why Boromir was alone (no argument with Frodo shown), and Frodo leaving. On with the reading!

  64. ZAM1359 says:

    In your defense Shamus, that’s kinda how D&D games go. You either crack jokes or pay attention to the story. Maybe if there was a jester class there could be more of both. Also, Love this comic!

    1. WJS says:

      A Bard with Perform (Vaudeville) maybe? Not that you have to be a Bard of course. Cracking wise should be in character for any character of the “Scoundrel” chaotic archetype.

  65. Daniel says:

    Hey, man, it’s been said before, but don’t sell yourself short (even if this comment is a few years late). You’re making jokes AND advancing the story just like Burlew does. The joke at the end of this strip (“whiner”) is a commentary on the player’s reaction to an event; that’s one of Burlew’s favorite tactics for creating humor.

  66. Daniel says:

    And what’s more, I don’t think that the example you provided of “moving on to the next batch of jokes” constitutes taking a mulligan on humor. The punch line to that strip (“I guess anyone can be a winner if their definition of victory is flexible enough”) sounds a lot like the jokes my groups make around the gaming table.

  67. MaxForrest says:

    Order of the stick is pretty cool.
    My friends always whine when their characters die, and I always tell them to suck it up.

  68. Damion says:

    Honestly, the one you called “lame” was actually one of the strips that made me laugh the most! All are good though, love the strip!

  69. 4ier says:

    There are a handful of messed up character encodings in the comments.
    you're should be you’re
    it's should be it’s

    “How should be “How
    didn't should be didn’t
    eye?” … should be eye?” …

    I'm should be I’m
    wouldn't should be wouldn’t
    “low-level” should be “low-level”

    “Me should be “Me
    now.” should be now.”
    That's should be That’s

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