DM of the Rings LVII:
Need for Speed

By Shamus Posted Monday Jan 29, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 43 comments

Shadowfax the wonderhorse.

See also my comments on the strip that never was, which would have gone right after this one.


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43 thoughts on “DM of the Rings LVII:
Need for Speed

  1. Richard says:

    Try a diplomacy check to see if Gandalf will swap horses. :-)

  2. Mrs T says:

    ‘Wait a minute, I’m the hidden heir of Gondor. Shouldn’t I get the cool horse?’

    1. me says:

      of gondor not rohan

      you get a cool white tree branch or something

  3. Steve says:

    Then there was the time one of our party was mounted on some magical aerial steed he had conjoured. We were all swapping stories around the campfire when he (who had volunteered to ride perimeter all night on Dobbin) burst into laughter and announced that he had just calculated the speed of his mount to be on the order of almost three hundred miles an hour. I cracked up ever afterwards when he announced he was mounting his aerial steed, as I imagined him careering across the sky, robes blown back in the slipstream, his dopplered scream echoing around the mountain passes as he whooshed past on his four-legged F-14, clinging on for grim death.

  4. Deoxy says:

    “I knew we should have eaten them.”


    And yes, the propsed DMotR would fit perfectly here, and (as proposed by others) I think you should go ahead and make it, using other sources (the original D&D movie was mentioned, though I wouldn’t want you to make THAT level of sacrifice) with obviously (and preferably badly) photoshopped heads.

  5. Telas says:

    A high-level Human Monk moves at 90′. A D&D character can run at 4x his movement rate, for a total of 360’/6 seconds or 60 feet per second, or (roughly) 41 miles an hour. Note that this is roughly equivalent to world-record 100m sprinters (although they don’t do it with thirty pound loads).

    Also if our 20th level Monk maxes out his Jump skill and only has 10 strength, his average jump is 57 feet. (23 ranks + 24 movement modifier + 10 average dice roll) Note that the current world record for the long jump is about half this number.

    All of this is done without the benefit of any magic. Yeah, it’s a strange game some times…

  6. Selki says:

    “the fax machine”!! I love it!

    LiveJournal readers reminder: syndicated account for this blog’s RSS feed available (see “twentysidedtale”); no pictures from DMotR, but a handy reminder when a new one is out.

  7. ChristianTheDane says:

    Awesome :D

  8. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    You know i read somewhere once, that the running speed of the Marine in the Original Doom series is about 60 mph. I wonder if thats where the phrase run like Hell came from……ehhh doubt it

  9. xargon says:

    Would the reckless eating of horses cause a shift in alignment?

  10. Shamus says:

    Depends on the alignment of the horses. ;-)

  11. Dave Godfrey says:

    You mean from Lawful Good to Lawful French?

  12. James Blair says:

    Replying to the D&D Monk comment:

    There was a publication devoted to RPG rules that didn’t make much sense realistically. “Murphy’s Rules”, I think. A few pages of them made it to some old Dragon magazines once.

    Did you know, for instance, that a baby in Champions (rated as Str 0) could throw a football (or other 1/2 kg partially aerodynamic object) 50 yards?

    Another favorite is that, in the Car Wars game, it was impossible for a human (3 HP) to kill himself with a pistol (1 HP damage). Said human would shoot himself twice and fall unconscious when at 1 HP.

  13. Shamus says:

    I also heard that a level 1 wizard had a less then 50% chance of surviving a meele fight (no magic) against a housecat. I never ran the numbers on that one, though.

  14. Kyle says:

    Here’s the fastest I am aware of, starting with a magebred awakened cheetah with a cavalier riding

    +50 Cheetah Base Speed
    +10 magebred
    +10 Quick Trait
    +10 1st lvl. Barbarian
    +05 Dash feat
    +10 1st lvl. Cleric w/ Celerity Domain
    =95 base land speed
    x2 for fly speed = 190

    Now for the bouses:
    +190 Base fly speed
    +10 Divine Vigor feat
    +60 18th lvl. Chaotic Monk
    +05 Alchemical Capsule (Swiftstride)
    +10 Speed of Thought feat
    +30 Cloud Wings spell
    =305 speed.
    x10 for Sprint = 3050 feet per 6 seconds
    x2 from Cavalier = 6100 feet per 6 seconds
    692 mph
    Mach 1 is only 768
    Anyone know how we can add 35 before multipliers?

  15. You said:

    =305 speed.
    x10 for Sprint = 3050 feet per 6 seconds
    x2 from Cavalier = 6100 feet per 6 seconds

    As I recall, in D&D 3.X the varies x2 things don’t multiply, they are actually adding +1 base. Thus something that has two x2 modifiers winds up at base x3. So your x10 and x2 only get you x11. And you had another multiplier earlier on….

  16. Darkenna says:

    Expeditious retreat adds 30. The Fast Mover feat adds 5. The Rapid Movement feat adds 10. There are several prestige classes that also add movement, usually 10.

  17. Ondo says:

    Heh. The Gandalf’s somewhat smug look on the last panel, when he remarks that Shadowfax can go slower, is simply perfect. Ditto for Legolas’ face.

  18. -Chipper says:

    This is wonderful! The comic is hilarious, and then the comments make a great dessert. The “Lawful French” line cracked me up. I’m surprised the players haven’t yet vented that this side-quest to find the hobbits was a complete bust that they are now to abandon.

  19. Arbaal says:

    Didn’t Murphy’s Laws also state that in Rolemaster, a man has a 1% chance to decapitate himself while shaving?

  20. Telas says:

    Shamus Says:
    I also heard that a level 1 wizard had a less then 50% chance of surviving a meele fight (no magic) against a housecat.

    Dunno about the actual odds, but A cat has 2 hit points, and 3 attacks per round for a full attack action, at +4/+4/-1 for 1 damage each. If our 1st level Wizard loses initiative (very possible against a 15 Dex cat), and misses with his first attack (possible with 0 BAB against an AC14 cat), he will be attacked six times, four of which will hit 70% of the time.

    On average, he’ll be hit by three of the claws and one bite for 4 damage, which takes him to 0 HP. If the wizard is unarmed, and taking a -4 nonproficiency penalty to punch the cat, then he will almost certainly die.

    This is probably why casters are famous for being cat-friendly.

    1. WJS says:

      What if he instead grapples the cat? Size modifiers to grapple check give him what – a +12 bonus over it? With it’s strength penalty, he should easily beat it that way.

  21. Steve says:

    Well, I just saw a video clip of an animal control officer getting severely clawed in the hurtybits by an average-sized but very angry housecat. I reckon the stats are good to go on this one.


  22. 3eff_Jeff says:

    “Anyone know how we can add 35 before multipliers?”

    Strap on an afterburner?

  23. Adam says:

    well, the cheetah could instead of barbarian and cleric be a 20th level monk.

  24. azrhey says:


    I was a dutiful reader until about episode XXXV or so when my machine was smitten by some wrathful god ( how else do you explain the smoke coming out of the box? ). So since yesterday I have been trying to catch up, but where are strips? I get the headers and have tried nearly all the links in the page but could not find the Grail ?

    Something I am doing wrong, or are the gods of technology still cursing me?

    Thanks in advance and congrats for the website overall.

  25. azrhey says:

    Fernmonkey: tried that, didn’t work.

    I have done some print screens of what I get :
    in IE and in Firefox.
    Also tried just loading the image address ( for example ) and got a “cannot find page address type of error ).

    Before complaining about it I did ask friends to check it out for me back in Canada and they have no problems, however everyone I asked here in France, with different ISP, OSs, browsers, got the same problem.

    I hope you are discriminating against us old continent people. ;-)

  26. Stephen Harris says:

    Murphy’s Rules appear regularly in the Space Gamer from Steve Jackson games, never the Dragon. It was the part of the mag that I would turn to first.

    Murphy’s Rules would sometimes cause a stir. Several game publishers wrote angry letters to Space Gamer after one of thier games was featured. They usually accused SJ Games of using Murphy to attack thier rivals. The fact that games from Steve Jackson were featured more often in the comic then any other companies’ seemed to escape thier notice. I do not believe that TSR ever responed to any of the numerous times that ADnD was featured, either they had a sense of humor or they did not notice. The funnesist example of a game company responding was after a Murphy cartoon which stated that in Champions (Hero Games), a normal person could survive a 3-story fall without any injury and had a better then even chance of walking away from a 10-story fall. The next issue of Space Gamer featured a letter from the president of Hero Games who claimed that they did throw some play testers off a 3-story building and most sustained no injuries. They then took the now relucatent play testers up to the top of a 10-story building and pushed them off! He was happy to report that most could walk away, although slowly, from the experience.

  27. Me says:

    “Another favorite is that, in the Car Wars game, it was impossible for a human (3 HP) to kill himself with a pistol (1 HP damage). Said human would shoot himself twice and fall unconscious when at 1 HP.”

    Yet a car hitting a human at 5mph had a 50-50 chance of killing them . . . given the choice I’ll take the 5mph car smash thanks!

  28. Zordran says:

    One thing that I found amusing is that the fastest cruising speed for a D&D character (without going to crazy lengths like the epic-level cheetah mentioned above [seriously, is has 3hd from being an animal, two more from being awakened, and then twenty character levels!) is the third-level spell Phantom Steed, which, if cast by a 12th-level wizard, will go at a speed of 240′, or about 27mph, so yes, the adventurer blazing across the countryside on a quasi-real shadow apparition is going the same speed as you plodding along nervously in font of a police car on a residential road.

  29. Jung says:

    I just figured out when reading these comments, that instead of running with full speed and getting fatiqued, some supermonk could just jump every round to prevent himself from getting tired. I can already see the whole group advancing toward Mount Doom and Sauron wondering about the sight. Or Saruman telling orcs to jump all their way to Helm’s Deep.

    1. NotACat says:

      Reginald Cuftbert is a Monk from AD&D?

      Somebody owes me a new keyboard, thank you very much…

    2. Felblood says:

      Actually, if your jump distance exceeds your move speed, I believe you simply remain airborne until the next round.

  30. Toil3T says:

    Telas- Monks are magical beings in their own right. How do you think they get their cool abilities? They’re just not spellcasters.
    And Gandalf really should have Teleport, or Dimension Door, or something similar. Then again, he doesn’t even have Feather Fall. (Hence his eagle ride to escape Saruman’s tower). Is he even a spellcaster? Is he a rogue using his Use Magic Device skill on his staff?

  31. God of Awesome says:

    I’m wondering why a pure white horse is called Shadowfax.

  32. Gondring says:

    Shadowfax is a combining of the Day and Night horses of Norse mythos, Skinfaxi and Hrà­mfaxi. Combining the day (shining-mane) and night (frost-mane), we get shadowy grey of twilight.

  33. Grin says:

    Heh. “Murphy’s Rules” were my intro to artist John Kovalic. I came across them in the Pyramid magazine and, like Stephen Harris, it was the first page I turned to.

  34. ERROR says:

    Gandalf: “We are in need of haste-”
    Some player: “Ain’t Haste a level 3 spell?”
    DM: “Not that kind of haste!”
    Above player: “Oh.”

  35. jmaximum says:

    “….ride the rocket horse”. dude, thats a tshirt waiting to be made.

    1. WJS says:

      I kinda prefer Legolas’ “The fax machine”

  36. joesolo says:

    “i knew we should have eaten them”

    then youd just half to walk while the wizard looks badass on super-horse.

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