DM of the Rings LXI:
Words Get in the Way

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Feb 7, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 66 comments

Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn enter the Golden Hall.

Players Stuck in non-interactive cutscene.

If you’re having trouble with wayward players derailing your carefully designed plot, you can always fix this by making the game non-interactive.

Let me know how that works out for you.


From The Archives:

66 thoughts on “DM of the Rings LXI:
Words Get in the Way

  1. GEBIV says:

    First! And great as always!

  2. Carl the Bold says:

    [Beat ya, Steve]

    Hmm….Gimli seems to have spent his down-time learning something of diplomacy. Excellent. It’s nice to see dwarves spending time in self-improvement.

  3. Richard says:

    Great work when this happens i usually just go…

    “I have to go to the bathroom i’ll be back in a minuite fill me in later” :-)

    That usually works.

  4. Browncoat says:

    “We’ve been in one since Rivendell”

    Rivertown. Whatever.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Is the DM actually going “Mumble mumble wheeze”?

  6. Vegedus says:

    Aww, shamus, you genious. It’s funny (no pun intended) how I read dozens of webcomics and stuff, but these DM of the rings are the only ones capable of making me literally lol about half the time. I’m generally pretty hard to get to laugh out loud.

  7. Tom Zunder says:

    Hey, that’s just like the last Tribe8 game I played in. Sorry Graham.

  8. Fieari says:

    Wow, I really feel sorry for these players… Gimli was awesome there and just got smacked down by the scripted sequence!

  9. Fernmonkey says:

    Richard: That would be my cue to go and put the kettle on for more tea.

  10. Steve says:

    Hah! I’m first in again! Bow before my supreme majestohbugger! :o)

    I think if Shamus is going to include such classic DM monologue as “Mumble mumble wheeze” he should include hotspots under the baloons that launch mp3 sound samples of it.

    How else shall we properly learn The Art of Railroading?


  11. Telas says:

    My god, it’s like NWN2…

    **runs from room, screaming**

  12. Darkenna says:

    Is the DM actually going “Mumble mumble wheeze”?

    Mrmble, mumble, wheeze, huff, huff, cough, mrmble, wheeze.

    Just now, Carl.

  13. Carl the Bold says:

    No, you didn’t.

    I referenced The Princess Bride in book form in a previous strip’s comments. Humperdink’s father, the King (whose name escapes me at the moment), speaks only in mumbles, which are interpreted by the Queen (Humperdink’s evil step-mother (and that’s what he calls her)).

    Okay, not a very interesting aside, but I really want to stop studying for my stupid test and re-re-re-re-re-re-read it. Again. Do I sigh alone?

  14. Darkenna says:

    Yes, I did.

    I’ve actually always been more fond of the film version than the book when concerning The Princess Bride. One of the few times in the history of film where the film was actually better than the book on which it was based. (Not that the book wasn’t spectacular, it was. Read it.) LotR is a much better example: bovie, Excellent; books Vastly Superior.

    Until DMotR came along, that is. : D

    Hey… Aragorn got the name “Rivendell” right. And Legolas wasn’t demeaned by name. I’m impressed. Our players have come a long way!!!

  15. Darkenna says:

    “bovie”? Movie, even.

    My keyboard hates me. : (

  16. Little Hobbit says:

    Y’know, yes, this looks like a cut scene, but I can see a case being made for the fact that this is precisely how Wormtongue would react. He doesn’t care about these little upstarts from South Nowhere, he cares about the one guy that can louse up his and his master’s plans.

    That being said, Wormtongue could at least acknowledge their presence with a “Who are these fools you bring to this honorable hall, conjurer?” as an alternative to rolling over them with the cutscene script. Silly DM!

    Also, the look on Aragorn’s face in the second to last panel? Priceless. Perfect. Rock on.

  17. Parzival says:

    “This isn’t a throne room. It’s a lodge.”


  18. Roger says:

    It’s pretty inexcusible for the DM to have a scene consisting of two NPCs talking to each other.

  19. Fickle says:

    …I know this isn’t the intended effect, but this comic is really, really making me want to go watch the movies again. I’d forgotten how pretty Legolas is.

  20. Jperk says:

    Did you read the origional Princess Bride or Princess Bride the Good Bits? The original had lots of long and boring bits that were supposed to be hysterically funny in their day.

    And did you mean Lego LASS LMAO

  21. DistractoGirl says:

    Only just discovered these, and boy am I glad I have. I’ve read the archives once, and now I’m considering reading them again, because they make me laugh so much.


  22. Hippocrass says:

    Am I the only one who noticed that Gimli called Theoden “Theogen”?

  23. Stratim says:

    Ha! Ive actually made the exact same X button comment. only, it was a nice little cutscene interrupting actual gamer interaction, so we didnt mind so much.

  24. Da Penguin says:

    I just loved the line

    “and Gandalf”….

    My Players always tend to ignore NPCs right up until they can loot their bodies or need them for something…

  25. Jenome says:

    Actually Hippocrass…Gimli said Theogan……
    and as my first comment here, NICE Shamus

  26. damien walder says:

    TBS Just showed The Two Towers (back to back with itself, which always seems to say “yeah, we know you’re bored, OK?” to viewers), and I enjoyed the revival of Theoden, but kind of found the film has faded from my previous esteem. Memories and imagination conspire to make films I have watched better…

    Oh, yeah my point is, Grima will continue to make excellent comic fodder for this version of the Ring tricycle.

    Yay, Wormtongue…

    We WILL get to see Saruman, right? (Hrm, maybe not as PCs will have no direct truck with him…)

  27. Medium Dave says:

    Theogan schmeogan. Gimli is roleplaying having run day and night for four freaking days in full armor and them riding full tilt on a horse to get to this place. Oh wait, no he isn’t.

  28. Carl the Bold says:

    Jperk –

    Did Goldman fool you with his “this is just the good bits” spiel? Morgenstern doesn’t exist. Never did. Goldman’s wonderful introduction about his father reading the book to him, his making his lawyer run out in the middle of a snowstorm to buy it (together with the original Florinese version (where was Florin, again?), and a (different) lawyer named “Kermit Shog”)–pure, brilliant fiction. Reread it with that in mind, and it’s even better.

    Darkenna –

    I don’t know you, but I have great respect for you if for no other reason than you’ve continued the Argument Clinic dialogue with me for a week now (pretty soon Shamus is liable to kick us off for doing it), but you are wrong. We both agree that the movie was brilliant, but the book was so much better.

    If you buy the 25th anniversary edition, it contains the first chapter of the sequel, _Buttercup’s Baby_, which is fairly pathetic (except for a beautiful flashback into a time during Inigo’s 20 years spent learning how to fence which is wonderful).

    Oh, and “No, you didn’t.”

  29. ChristianTheDane says:

    Why press X when you can just eat chips and re-read the rulebook while they talk. The gm will give you a recap later anyways ;P

  30. Jperk says:

    Well man is my face red or what? What until my daughters find out.

  31. Jperk says:

    See this page is educational

  32. Marmot says:

    “We’ve been in one since Rrivendell”….. ahhahahahaha! Cheers once again, keep up the great work!

  33. -Chipper says:

    You really are CARL THE BOLD! Let us know when the lawyers for the Morgenstern estate get their claws into you. Did you know that the US Supreme Court ruled a couple years ago that Florin copyright & libel laws are enforceable here? You better hope your post gets overlooked by them, or you’ll be on your way back to the old country to stand trial.

  34. Mystique says:

    This comic was added to’s large list of comics and out of curiosity I clicked the link and have been laughing ever since. This is a grand comic and I hope you continue to make more for a while.

    I will also be recommending this to my gaming group and my other gamer friends

  35. Kaemaril says:

    > It's pretty inexcusable for the DM to have a scene consisting of two NPCs talking to each other.

    I’m running a game right now where some of the players take an almost perverse delight in contriving to force this. It’s almost like they enjoy watching the DM squirm as he ends up talking to himself in public :)

  36. Yunt says:

    In my last session one of my players intentionally ran around inciting NPCs to converse and fight with one another.

    I’m such a bad actor I wound up with miniatures in each hand, holding them in the air to tell them which was speaking. When that sucked hard enough the player who forced the whole thing to happen offered to play one of the characters and I gave “thumbs up”, “thumbs down” prompts.

    It was fun but absolutely wrong according to all the advice I’ve ever been given.

  37. Darkenna says:


    Carl does not care, as he clearly lives in Gilder.


    As much as the book is one of the most brilliant pieces of literature produced in the last 50 years (nay… 50 decades!), Goldman himself eclipsed it with the film script. (Tho, I gotta admit, the several page lead-up concerning the final trap and the 2-sentence method Inigo used to… ummm… “overcome” it… is one of my fav passages from any book.) Add in the perfect selection of actors and talent… simply cannot be beat.

    Strangely, this side conversation goes with the main “plot”; who here hasn’t been in a Game somewhere, somewhen, when the DM got involved with some other characters at the table and two or three players started having a not-really-Game-related side run?

    And, yes, I did.

  38. Carl the Bold says:

    You didn’t!

    I wouldn’t mind going back to Floring for trial, if it weren’t for all the ROUS’s.

    Yes, the casting was superb. Such a shame Robin Wright went on to play a slut in Forrest Gump and marry Sean Penn. Did you know that all of the fencing styles mentioned during the duel are actual fencing styles, and that they describe them accurately? (e.g. Bonetti’s defense keeps the feet stationary, that’s why it’s fitting for a rocky terrain.)

    My favorite part of the book is probably all of the parenthesis. What a style to write in! Many moons ago, I found a site with the first chapter posted in full, and I was going to attach the link to this comment, but Alas! I could not find it again. If anyone else does, plz share with the rest of the class.

  39. Darkenna says:

    The man Goldman consulted with on the fencing styles (and later did the fencing choreography in the film) was, in an incidental tie-in, Bob Anderson (also known as Robert Anderson), an internationally acclaimed fencing master who also did the fight choreography for Pirates of the Carribean, Highlander (both the film and several series episodes), Star Wars (the original masterpiece), The Three Musketeers (“God I love my work!!!”), both recent Zorro films…

    I most certainly did.

    …and the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. : D

    Also, that fight scene on top of the Cliffs of Insanity is quite possibly the best duel in all of cinematography (perhaps only surpassed by the Eric Roberts/Mandy Patinkin duel at the end of By the Sword) (coincidently, also choreographed by Bob Anderson). The mastercraftsmanship of the maneuvering (and the blades), the witty banter, the accuracy of the styles, the perfect timig of the music… a work of art all by itself!

    1. Arkanabar says:

      I thought the swordfight was truly awesome …. until I took fencing.

      There is not one thrust in the entire scene, let alone any lunges. It’s like a boxing match where nobody throws a punch. The footwork is excellent, the banter so superb it is unsurpassed anywhere in fiction, but the bladework is all beat-double-beat-double-beat-double-beat ad infinitum.

  40. Darkenna says:

    And… as you can probably tell… I also adore teh continue paranthetical commentary, and adopted it into my own writing style… *sheepish grin*

  41. Carl the Bold says:

    I had never heard of By the Sword! Looked it up on imdb, and Mandy Patinkin is not listed in the credits. Could you have meant F Murray Abraham?

    I will have to hold my rebuke of your “quite possibly the best duel” line until I see this movie, of which, as previously stated, I had never heard…of.

    You never did!

    And did *you* know that Bob Anderson (also known as Robert Anderson) double for David Prowse during Darth Vader’s light saber duels in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi”, despite having been six inches shorter than Prowse and required to wear lifts?

  42. Andi says:

    I love how, right after Gandalf reminds Gimli that he’s part of the group, too, Gimli rolls right on, telling Thoeden that “we three have heard of your plight…”

    I half-expected Gandalf to pipe up with, “Four.” And be promptly ignored again. :-)

    (“Yeah, yeah, whatever, wizardboy. I’m talking to this guy here.”)

  43. doolz says:

    Hippocrass Says:
    February 7th, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Am I the only one who noticed that Gimli called Theoden “Theogen”?


  44. Jomo says:

    Long-time reader, first posting…

    I just thought it was hilarious that we get the same response from that sleazy guy (panels four and eight)…that was one of my ROFL moments.

    This has been my sole entertainment during my work breaks and I really love this stuff!

    PS: I have learned not to drink or eat anything when reading these chapters. :)

  45. mocking bird says:

    Things are going nice an WHAM!!! The party runs right into a text box.

  46. Sewicked says:

    Duh, of course Gimli called the king Theogan. The king’s the only one without a ‘g’ in his name. Well, the only speaker (with a loose enough definition of speaking). There’s _G_imli, Ara_g_orn, Le_g_olass, Wormton_g_ue & even _G_andalf. Poor Theoden just got lost in the mix.

    1. WJS says:

      You forgot Gamling in the last strip…

  47. TheDeepDark says:

    It still frightens me sometimes to come here, and realize again that this many fellow geeks exist. I love this place!!

  48. Toil3T says:

    What, no Snape cracks? No time loop jokes? I guess it is like Lightning-ing fish in a barrel.

  49. BrokenChild says:

    I can’t see it. : (

  50. ERROR says:

    (The following is supposed to be in italics, since I don’t know how to do stuff like that) “We've been in one since Rivendell.” Rivertown. Whatever.

    (End italics) Browncoat, you mean WhateverVILLE.

    Comment #50! W00t!

  51. Sargadius says:

    I can’t believe that no one spotted and called out the video game references in this strip! More specifically the Playstation’s “X” button was right in there! Good form… hahaha

  52. shadow fire knight says:

    the players finally stay in character and the dm shoots them down, wtf. also whenever i have 2 npc’s talk too eachother my players call me insane

  53. Michael says:

    I’m used to the GM going on with a long dialog, and the characters immediately interrupting, with the resulting ad-lib always managing (deliberately) to leave out important details, which the NPC’s are gladly willing to return to the script to deliver.

    It became a bit like “Toon” — how many times could we derail and rerail the scripted dialog?

  54. Tachi says:

    Reminds me of playing Metal Gear Solid…

  55. Specie says:

    Hmm, isn’t the DM’s description of Theoden an almost exact quote of how the narrator in “Conan the Barbarian” describes king Osric? ^_-

    And…. unskipable non-interactive cutscenes… *shudder*

  56. Reket says:

    So, the players want to do something in character, and the GM just ignores them? And then he lets the powerfull NPC take care of the whole thing? This IS an interactive cutscene and the GM sriously sucks.

  57. Ica says:

    Quick, hit the X button! XD Epic, man. Just Epic.

  58. Specie says:

    Hmm, it occurs to me that the players must’ve been slacking a bit here – doesn’t Gimli have a rather low score in Diplomacy, as evidenced with the encounter with Eomer before? Then it should seem like a very bad idea to let Gimli take care of things here (even if he IS the roleplatyer in the group). But then, again, maybe they hoped Gimli’s bad diplomacy score would get them killed for real and end the campaign this time around…?

    1. WJS says:

      I don’t think anyone said he has a low diplomacy score. When they met Eomer, he rolled a natural 1.

  59. joesolo says:

    sucks for gimli. finally gets into the roleplaying and dm just ignores him. good thing they made them leave there weapons outside. for the dm’s story line at least.

  60. nocata says:

    “Make it non interactive” huh? my group’s DM did that and our logical, goody goody shaman with an unusually aristocratic attitude actively called the NPC a stuck up brat along with much ruder things. as the youngest, I actually held up best.

  61. 78stonewobble says:

    “If you're having trouble with wayward players derailing your carefully designed plot, you can always fix this by making the game non-interactive.

    Let me know how that works out for you.”

    *lol* … So… You mean… Tell a story? ;)

    Awesome strip :)

  62. Joshua says:

    ‘Tis better to press have to press X to skip than to press X to not die.

  63. Bitz says:

    I had a DM a while back that would call cutscene right as we went to do cool things to the enemy. See their leader was a nigh allpowerful demon. He had decided our quest to save the world would be entertaining to fuck with, so whenever he showed up, shit was sure to get out of hand. I (Playing the Super righteous paladin type) would be going along with the party when he showed up. The demon would launch into some deal or story and I would immediately try to attack him and get the cutscene ban. It was frustrating to be sure, but when that moment finally came when I went to attack him and the DM said ‘Roll It’ I was so happy I nearly cried. It did help that by then the demon had put off fighting us so long that we wiped the floor with him.

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