DM of the Rings LI:
The Tenacity of Greed

By Shamus Posted Monday Jan 15, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 56 comments

Rohan. Pile of burned orc bodies. Dented helmet worth negative five gold. Merry and Pippin’s loot.

The saying is, “No honor among thieves”, but I think it applies just as well to the other character classes. I would not be shocked at all to find a paladin and a cleric arguing over which one of them gets to pry the gold fillings from the teeth of their recently slain companion, and if they are obliged to resurect him afterwards.

Originally players did this because the rules only awarded experience points when they acquired treasure. The rules have since been revised, so now people are free to act this way out of naked greed.


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56 thoughts on “DM of the Rings LI:
The Tenacity of Greed

  1. Carl the Bold says:

    Great image of Aragorn in the second frame. He wasn’t lameting the (seeming) death of the young hobbits. He wasn’t howling in pain from just having broken his big toe. He was just furious the stupid orcs didn’t have among them so much as a sharp dagger he could plunder.

  2. Robert says:

    I recall a D&D session where one player’s character was a then-rare Draconian. He died in battle, and his fellow party members held a spirited discussion of whether it would be OK to salvage his internal organs to sell as magical components, “since they’ll regenerate when we do a raise dead anyway”.

    Good times.

    1. WJS says:

      Just a quick correction, Raise Dead doesn’t regenerate missing body parts. You need Resurrection for that.

  3. Lord Owl says:

    I just love this comic. Just so that you know, all these things happen at role-playing sessions over here in Sweden as well ;)

  4. Grendel says:

    I smiled and chuckled (manly giggling:-) at all of the posts so far. This one had me laughing with tears in my eyes! Gimli. “..we are all poorer now that I’ve picked it up…” I was crying! Looting companions! A tried and true method of actually getting treasure in even the worst campaigns.

  5. Robin Z says:

    I recall a D&D session where one player's character was a then-rare Draconian. He died in battle, and his fellow party members held a spirited discussion of whether it would be OK to salvage his internal organs to sell as magical components, “since they'll regenerate when we do a raise dead anyway”.

    I say split the profits with the Draconian and it’s okay. Besides, you’ve got to recoup at least a bit of the Raise Dead cost.

  6. xargon says:

    Does anyone ever take ranks in Appraise? Usually the strategy is “grab everything and sort it out later”.

  7. Brass says:

    I’ve have been accused of having the Indian name of “Loots-the-bodies”. And don’t ask about the non-profit organization that I set up with the other characters so our character with “vow of poverty” had someone he could always give to. Of course we didn’t tell him that admin costs are close to 90%.

  8. Sartorius says:

    And don't ask about the non-profit organization that I set up with the other characters so our character with “vow of poverty” had someone he could always give to. Of course we didn't tell him that admin costs are close to 90%.

    Your D&D character set up the United Way?!

  9. GEBIV says:

    All this means is the Rohirim stole took all the good stuff before they burned the bodies. NPCs can be greedy too, can’t they?

  10. Gandalf The Monk says:

    Thanks, now my GameMaster has a voicemail of me dropping the phone and laughing like a hyena while I pounded my head against the screen.
    “Negative five gold” indeed.

  11. Nick says:

    “Because our little halfling are in here somewhere, and I KNOW they had some good stuff.” says the hardcore roleplayer…


    Dammit, Shamus, you keep me grinning from ear to ear.

  12. ChristianTheDane says:

    Look at the last frame. Looks like Aragorn found an arrow or something. Maybe he can get a bit of gold if he gathers enough…

  13. mom says:

    If I have the plot line of this game right, the GOOD STUFF the little halfling might have could be a light saber or xp for using the force.

  14. Gothmog says:

    HilARIOUS. I LOVE the punchline.

    Top Form today, Shamus. BraVO!

  15. Greendrum2 says:

    Reminds me of an evil game we once played. Another PC pissed off the Draegloth I was playing, so I basically pulled open his chest and rib cage and started eating his insides.

    I got more satisfaction out of doing that than actually taking his magic items. hehe

  16. inara says:

    “Looting companions!”

    That sounds like me when Skippy got tossed off the keep wall. ::D

  17. Scott says:

    Hey, if they were worth having as friends, they wouldn’t have died… Right?

    What? Screw you, I’m chaotic neutral…

    My long played, retired PC… Shea, the unliscenced security inspector, and wealth redistribution specialist

    When he took over a thieve’s guild, I felt it best to just retire him, since he no longer had to WORK… Ah the benifits of “I take 40%”… I mean leadership…

  18. Yahzi says:

    “We are all poorer now that I’ve picked it up…”



  19. JenRyu says:

    Wow… Sounds like one of the guys I RP with…. One time he tore apart an entire castle looking for loot…. He found a lot of Ivory rods…

  20. Deoxy says:

    The comic was, as always, great, but this:

    “The rules have since been revised, so now people are free to act this way out of naked greed.”

    I actually laughed out loud… at WORK! That was truly priceless.

  21. harrowed1 says:

    This reminds me of my very first D&D session many a year ago. I actually said things like, “Shouldn’t we keep one of these orcs alive to figure out why they attacked us?” and, “Hey,your a lawful good cleric! Doesen’t your character have a moral problem with looting dead bodies?!” I clearly just didn’t get the point of the game…..

  22. Doccy says:

    “Does anyone ever take ranks in Appraise?”

    Yes. Usually the evil, manipulative guys, that want to fake their skill, and make everyone else argue over the good-looking crap while they quietly pocket the decent stuff. Not that I’m bitter ;)

  23. Shamus says:

    I was actually never a greedy player. I was a monk, and I tried to live in poverty. I gave away my money when I found a good reason, and never wasted time trying to get loot.

    Of course, I also didn’t NEED loot, since monks have no use for arms and equipment.

    1. Bryan says:

      I once had a CN thief (first edition, I know they’re called rogues now) who would pocket the good stuff every chance he got. Good thing too, because if he hadn’t used the money to set up the ‘rez fund’ with the DM, we never could have afforded to be raised. When asked where he got the money, I’d make some excuse. The players knew I was pocketing items, and really raised a ruckus until the first time half the party died. After the rezzes the players understood what I was doing with their “good treasure” and didn’t bother me until later.

      The DM eventually let slip that the rez fund was getting pretty big. Greed took over, and the rest of the party killed my thief to get the money, not realizing that the account could only be accessed my my character and the head cleric npc in town. The things they did to that poor npc…

  24. Uri says:

    This one was great reminded me of the time I played a Kensai in 2nd ED, the party lamented my choice because if I died they’d not get nearly as good of loot.LOL.

  25. Jaja says:

    Simply bloody hilarious!

  26. Adam says:

    Ahh, reminds me of the joys of playing the party’s rogue.
    getting first dibs on whatever is in a chest, and then getting your “fair” share of the loot, and then using your appraise skill(what else can you do with all those skill points?) to convince the party the true value of those gems is lower than they thought, and then getting more then they are worth from the shopkeeper, and then robbing the shopkeeper.

    It is truly a glorious cycle.

  27. Osric says:

    My ‘me too’ post, and a gaming discussion point:

    My current group refers to the rogue zooming in just after the kill at the SPEED OF LOOT — like the speed of light only quicker — looting as a Free Action (despite the GM’s attempts at protesting etc.)

    In a former game I ran I turned the tables on the XP thing. I gave no XP for acquiring gold, but gave out XP awards for giving it away in a non-personal gain sense. Samurai presenting the art treasures they gained to their lord, Viking leaders giving golden arm-rings to their warband, Paladins donating it to the orphanage, or Robin Hood giving it to the poor.
    It might not have stopped them wanting to acquire the gold in the first place (it might even have encouraged it) but I think it got everyone nicely back on track.


  28. Wolfheart says:

    Ah, the glorious looting. Reminds me of our game session when my character (a swordsman) died. The other characters were my character’s older brother (who actually set my character on fire, killing him because they were then unable to extinguish it), a dwarf and a human prince.

    Brother: “Oh damn, we killed him.”
    Dwarf: “I said you shouldn’t have started fighting! I told you!”
    Brother: “He started it! Wasn’t my fault he became mad at me because I hadn’t told him that I was hiding the gem from him!”
    Dwarf: “It was stupid, but you shouldn’t have set him on fire.”
    Prince: To the GM: “I’ll see if he has anything that’s not completly burnt.”
    Dwarf and Brother: “…”
    Brother: “Maybe this was how it was meant to be. Gods work in mysterious ways.”
    Dwarf: “Aye, it was meant that you’d get his sword. And I’d get his gold.”
    Prince: “Come on and help me to destroy the body.”

  29. Nilus says:

    At least in D&D most lootable items are not surgically implanted in the player characters. I remember a Shadowrun game where we spent several hours debating how many times you would have to slam a car trunk in order to decapitate a person with it. This was because the party Decker, who had several million dollars in cyberware in his brain, just died and the rest of the party felt it a waste to let all that expensive equipment get buried with him. Of course no one thought it was a good idea to carry his whole body around and no one had a blade large or sharp enough to cut his head off easily. So thus we used a car trunk.

  30. haashaastaak says:

    yet another advantage of reduced lung capacity: I can’t laugh out loud at work while reading this comic!

  31. Thomas says:

    Man, I can’t count the number of times the cleric in our party has been the first to loot a corpse.

  32. Attorney At Chaos says:

    Even in 1st/2nd edition I had a half-dozen characters with a Vow Of Poverty. This didn’t mean that I didn’t want any of the loot – after all, you can’t give it to charity unless you take some to begin with. But it kept me completely out of the arguments about who got which particular choice bit of loot. Others argued about the magic dingus, mine would be happy with the “cash equivalent” share.

    With 3rd edition and the Book of Exalted Deeds VOW OF POVERTY feat it’s been easy to continue the trend. I tend to use them with a DM who gives away far too much superstuff – so much that your class, level and other possessions can become essentially meaningless. It’s “The DM’s GOD-Gift to you” vs. “The DM’s Super-Monster”, i.e the DM playing with himself. I like the DM personally and realize his style of DMing is not going to change, so I bring in characters with a VOW OF POVERTY and just get rid of the stuff.

    I also have some extra-greedy PCs – but I evaluate the DM and other players carefully before bringing them out.

  33. Thenodrin says:

    Two things:

    1) I don’t remember any version of D&D where you only got xp for loot. I remember AD&D 2nd giving rogues bonus xp for loot. I remember an optional rule in 1st ed giving xp for loot. But, I don’t remember any version giving xp for loot only.

    2) When Living Greyhawk first started, the lifestyle rules were based on the rules for Living City, at the time a campaign that had been running for nearly a decade. Unfortunately, beginning characters don’t have the cash that long term characters did. And, beginning adventure writers were under strict instructions as to the amount of loot to put into adventures.

    Which means that a PC could pay 50 gp for “common lifestlye” at the beginning of the event, and the loot for the event was a single Rope of Climbing. Which means, 5 PCs get shafted. Or, the loot for the event was the resale value of armour, weapons, jewelry, china, furniture, etc. that all would have added up to 1000 gp to split between the six of you, if you had thought to take everything mentioned.

    This led to characters looting everything that wasn’t nailed down, and carrying crowbars to get the things they were “missing.” It was, quite honestly, the only way to continue to adventure.

    (The rules stated that a character who couldn’t pay their lifestyle upkeep was not allowed to play.)

    Various rules changes have occurred since then. But, it gave birth to a gaming term. “To Greyhawk the Body” means, roughly: “to take everything that the event allows you to reap value from, just incase you don’t think something looks valuable that your character would obviously need to re-sell.”


  34. Andi says:

    Looting doesn’t play a big part in most of my gaming group’s campaigns. Of course, we usually play Call of Cthulhu, so we’re too busy running like heck from whatever just killed our fellow investigator to stop and grab his stuff.

    Besides, touching it just might provoke a SAN death-spiral. :-)

  35. Ricky says:

    Oh man, that so reminds me of my group. In fact one session I had 2 weeks ago. We’re playing D&D Gestalt allowing Unearthed Arcana rules. Our gaming group is very loot happy.

    Our party of 6 got split into 2 to tackle a challenge that required us to fight 2 seperate bridge guardians. When we met back again we saw the Centaur player dragging the unlooted corpse of the guardian they had defeated. (We had just looted ours and buried him near the bridge.)

    My CG Barb/Pal of Freedom then says, with a straight face w/o intending any humor,”Just take his stuff and bury the body. Don’t desecrate the dead like that.” The whole group burst of laughing at that one. Sigh… when did I get so loot happy? i had always wanted to be the alignment following role-player of the group.

  36. Ernest says:

    OK, coming in late on this brilliant strip, enjoying all of them immensely, but this one – “negative five gold” – had me rolling hysterically on the floor while my daughter kept asking me “what’s wrong!?!”

  37. I am a veteran lurker.
    I don’t think I have ever commented on anything, ever.

    And now that I can breathe again, I have got to say this is the funniest thing I’ve seen in years!

    Thanks so much for the best laugh in recent memory!

  38. Nadzghoul says:

    Tears streaming down my face laughing too at the ‘poorer now’ comment – DAMN thats funny!!! I am making sounds I don’t think I have ever heard before. My gut hurts!

  39. Wulfric says:

    ditto Nadzghoul!!! “Our collective worth will go back up when I put it down!” I’m still ROFL!!!

  40. Minanonn says:

    Probably should mention the time our DM ran us up against a bandit encampment. We killed them all … only to find there was no loot in the encampment and we had no idea where it was hidden. The DM thought that was immensely funny.
    The look on his face though, when we packed up the entire encampment, put it on the bandits horses, and took the whole thing back to town to sell :D

  41. Sewicked says:

    And that’s why the cleric always has Mend & Make Whole on the spell list. Intact items have a higher re-sell value.

  42. Toil3T says:

    Been in that situation. Stole the T-shirt. Flogged it for a pittance.

  43. Fage of Kexy says:

    This reminds me of a game I ran. I had converted the curse of the azure bonds over to 3rd edition and was running that. One of the players had a problem with keeping his charaters alive ( he died 11 times through the course of the game ). It had got to the point that everytime he brought in a new character he would ask the group what equiptment to buy so that way he could restock the party when he died. I almost felt sorry for him.

  44. @ Nilus comment on Shadowrun

    Oh God, don’t remind me. All that million-nuyen worth of cybertech… all INSIDE and GRAFTED in PCs and NPCs. Why do you think bodybrokeing is a thriving biz in the Sprawl?

    Which is why my battlemage carries a BIG sword. I Manaball the poor sods so its just the organic stuff that fries.

    Of course, you can always just gouge out the eyes. You’ll never know if its Alpha-class cyberware, or what nifty stuff the GM put in the those eyeballs. Best done with the snipers. The targeting cyberoptics HAS to be in there somewhere…

    I think it was in Cyberpunk where it was said that people end up fighting over the dead bodies (so they can sell them, even the organic parts), which triggers another round of fighting over the NEW dead bodies…

    And you think your fantasy RPG worlds were barbaric…

  45. Dusty says:


    I definitely LOLed for awhile on this strip.

    “In fact we are all poorer now that I have picked it up…”
    Priceless dialogue.

  46. Marcos says:

    HAHAHA this one had my lying on my floor, laughing like a madman for over 10 minutes. My lunges are hurting, and my floor was very cold, but I think I will remember this for the rest of my life. It’s so pointless, yet so genius!

  47. James "Dairyllama" says:

    Reminds me of Peter. We allowed the drow to keep the party loot (sigh). “But he was lawful”… yeah, lawful evil

    So he got the feat that allowed him to sell items for 75% of their value (as opposed to 50%) and kept that all for himself, plus he took 10% of all our earnings for himself. Never trust a drow… nor a dnd player.

  48. Escher says:

    I got one crazy looting story… In a D&D campaign I’m currently playing, our group was (intentionally) split up into two groups, each working for a warring faction. My character ended up getting shot (and criticalled… stupid homicidal dice…) by an enemy PC. His allies end up dragging me inside and trying to decide what to do with me. Eventually, they loot me (I am at this point at -6 HP and steady, due to a lucky stabilization roll) and discover my shiny silver holy symbol. (My character at this point was a wizard, but he was going to multiclass to cleric next level.) So, they decide to send a message to my masters. My character’s tongue is cut out, and then, with the same holy symbol they looted from me, they cauterize the bleeding wound. Needless to say, I got bad damage rolls and hit -10 pretty darn fast. So, I ended up being killed BY a looting incident, instead of the other way around…

  49. silver Harloe says:

    1e AD&D was my introduction to “D&D” in general. Both killing AND looting were XP worthy (1 hp = 1 gp = 1 xp, though there were bonuses on monsters for abilities). And every avenue of XP was milked – even though half the time, I played alone, and if I wanted to, I could have simply handed myself 20,000,000 XP. I somehow felt it was okay to roll dice and beat up random encounters solo to advance my character, even though I’d always arrange encounters that would give me XP but not kill me (I mean, unless I had I had lottery-win kind of odds skew), but not okay to just say. “okay, I need this character to be level 8 now”.

    Sigh, I was so punishingly young then. If I really thought about “1 hp = 1 gp = 1 xp” I could have invented all kinds of awesome magic.

    But, I wasn’t even in puberty yet. It wasn’t until a few years later that my ‘Deities and Demigods’ had a few pages more worn than the others, if you know what I mean.

  50. Thom says:

    Too funny that you mention this type of thing. Many years ago, we were engaged in a high fantasy adventure (DM, Me= Human Ranger, Human Mage, Halfling Rogue, Dwarf Warrior) with an NPC aged (read= “old when dirt was clean”) Knight NPC. So the DM is describing this fight between the NPC Knight and another enemy knight. The battle is really cool, and we’re supporting the guy by knocking off the enemy footmen. We know the old NPC knight is down to his last hp’s, and the DM says “Ewwww, this might be bad…”, and couldn’t even finish saying how many points damage the knight takes before the rogue says “dibsonthearmor”. We all busted out laughing. The knight didn’t even hit the ground dead yet and the rogue was already calling dibs. Thanks for the memories man!

  51. Robin says:

    In 1977, I was in an Original D&D tourney. We killed a Balrog. (Yes, a Balrog, not a Balor. This was before D&D was big enough for the Tolkien estate to notice.) We ran on, looking for the quest object. But my thief said “I take his whip”. The 2 copper pieces that whip was worth was enough to break a tie and make us the victors of the tourney.

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