DM of the Rings LXX:
The Needs of the Many

By Shamus Posted Friday Mar 2, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 123 comments

Forced march.

Forced march.

This is exactly the sort of behavior you get when players stop role-playing. Metagame thinking is poison. I played this for a joke, but from my own experiences and from comments others have made I know this isn’t that far-fetched. I’m beating up on the players here, but you could make the case that stuff like this is the result of a DM who is strict about rules and lax about role-playing, which is about the surest form of self-sabotage a DM can do. If you adhere to the rules with meticulous authority and fill the world with generic NPCs, then soon enough you’ll have players treating your world like a place to mine treasure and farm experience, and not like a place where an epic story is taking place. The last thing you want is to end up DM’ing a game of Diablo.


From The Archives:

123 thoughts on “DM of the Rings LXX:
The Needs of the Many

  1. CryptoKnight says:

    Wooo-Hooo!! First!!

    1. joesolo says:

      did that make you feel good?

      1. Sar Oman says:

        Wow! I waited as long to reply to you as you did for Crypto Knight

        1. Yog-Sothoth says:

          I didn’t, but still, talking with the past! Freaky!

          1. Zaiross says:

            Hey, stop spamming the comment thread! Some people from your future are trying to enjoy this world-renowned comic.
            Oh, and have you heard about…

            1. ghostinZshell says:

              No, and please don’t talk about it!

              1. Léonard says:

                You don’t know how easy you past folks had it. It was all before the… oh right, I shouldn’t spoil it for you.

                1. Donny says:

                  I wish you had spoiled it :(

        2. VeryPeeved says:

          what a silly thing to do

  2. You know you’ve made it when someone shouts “first” on your comic going up.

    Just saying.

  3. Mysti says:

    HAHAH “The last thing you want is to end up DM'ing a game of Diablo.” I think all the gamers I’ve played with were metagamers…When I DM I’m very strict about it. I simply don’t allow it. Well sometimes…if they role play it…

  4. Woerlan says:

    Some players will use the roleplaying as a justification for the meta-gaming. It should be the other way around. Sometimes, the BEST thing to do in a situation isn’t the RIGHT thing to do.

  5. Clyde says:

    Now wait a second, Shamus! If the players really wanted to milk the game for all the experience possible, they’d want to slow the march down, not speed it up! As they noted, there’s that hourly chance of encountering orcs, and that means combat for our heroes, as well as the possibility (a long one, I’ll grant you) of some loot other than the standard orc-trash. So what am I missing here? They know that the bad guys are massing and they have to get the civvies to Helm’s Deep ASAP. A forced march actually would be in character, or so it seems to me.

  6. Steve says:

    Being first isn’t everything you know! I speak from experience here! :o)

    While many will feel that the ‘metagaming’ comments are nothing new and write them off as ‘more moaning’ I think that framing this in a comic as has been done here really does shine a light on the problem.

    And as you all probably know by now, I agree 100% that this sort of thing stems from ‘lazy’ DMing.

    Nice one, Shamus. Score.


  7. Arbaal says:

    Heh, I remember 1st ed D&D when Swans were the bane of any NPC village and a common house cat could kill a low level PC with ease.

    I found that the easiest way to deal with PC’s and the foolishness of the above was to fudge the NPCs a bit as well as the monsters. Then when the PCs wanted to metagame, they quickly learned that the frail old man accompanying the young child could very well be the Grand Master of Flowers (Gods I hated the old Monk titles) with his predecessor/teacher/advisor.

    I also remember this one session where the Paladin was acting contrary to his alignment, and kept trying to be a rules lawyer about how he was actually acting withing his alignment. He wound up being beaten savagely by an Avatar of his Patron God who had taken the form of a 6 year old girl. The entire encounter went along the lines of:

    “It’s a 6 year old girl with a twig? I ride her down since she is impeeding my progress.”

    “Your warhorse stops and you are thrown from the sadddle.”

    “What?! Fine I kick her off the roadside then.”

    “She whacks you with the twig, take 30 points of damage.”

    “What? I’m in full plate!”

    “I know. Take an additional 20 points as she whacks you again against your bottom.”

    “This is outrageous! She has to be a demon! I detect evil!”

    “No evil detected. Your ass is welting nicely as she whips you again with the twig. Take 21 points of damage.”

    “Mother of god! It’s an illusion! I disbelieve!”

    “You focus on the little girl, she turns into a blazing avatar of your Patron God.”

    “Oh F…!”

    “Now, shall I thrash you some more, or should I just revoke your gifts?”

    “No no! I’ll be good. I’m sorry.”

    “Simple words are not penance enough. You shall perform a task in order to raise your standing with me again.”

    “Damn. Er, I mean yes, I will gladly do as you ask!”

    It is funny how quickly a small amount of abuse and humiliation can humble a player who is getting way out of line.

    1. Iron Baron says:

      Bravo, too few DMs can pull off an in story attitude adjustment.

      1. William Ethier says:

        Well… When I do this, my players tell me later that “There is no lvl 15 necromancer in LMoP” and ask for a retcon.

  8. Retarded Rayne says:

    HAHAHAHA! OMG….that is funny!

  9. Fickle says:

    Why doesn’t Legolas just check Aragorn’s Leather Tardis? He’s probably got a whip in there along with everything else.

  10. Daniel The Great says:

    Hey everyone talking about abusing the game in the session of D & D i am playing in i just got to adopt a Kobold Baby cause we chickened out killing it call it a conciense or call it a sick joke we are playing on the DM either way i told him i would post it up here and tell the world of our crazy game.

  11. Browncoat says:

    lol Fickle.

  12. Vegedus says:

    Hm, if the PC’s were of some kind of neutral alignment (which they seem to be), I can’t find fault in their reasoning. Sure, the goody goody paladin wouldn’t sacrifice someone for the chance of less hostile encounters (the way I play mine, he would immediatly volounteer as a meet shield), but a chaotic neutral char that only care for money, that was told he would get paid after how many survive, could do something like that.
    Of course, I agree whole-heartedly that metagame thinking is the bane of all roleplaying and should be punished (I usually shout “minus XP!!” and people settle down), but these PC’s know, ingame, that they are under the threat of Warg attacks.

  13. poppalee says:

    Is it just me or does legolas look kinda evil when he’s talkin’s about the whip?

  14. Tirgaya says:

    Raising a Kobold baby? He isn’t named Pun Pun perchance? You may find a vast number of NPC adventurers headed your way to make sure little Pun Pun never reaches fifth level.

    (If you have no clue what I am talking about Google for, ‘Pun Pun Kobold’)

  15. Ubermosher says:

    I was hoping that the attack of the warg riders in The Two Towers would inspire some commentary on “random” encounters. Nice to see you’re thinking along those lines Shamus.

  16. KarenB says:

    poppalee: Definetly not just you. We all know that Legolas loves the thought of getting to whip some peasant buttocks. The goody good elf guy thing is just an act. Trust me. ;)

  17. Deoxy says:

    Pun Pun – ROFL!

    Quick summary of Pun Pun: D&D character with literally infinite power at 5th level, due primarily to a particular feat, but also dependent upon at least one other badly done feat. Oh, and none of it involves questionable rules abuse, either, other than the existence of the feats themselves, which are from WotC books, not any 3rd party.

    How does one define infinite power? Arbitrarily high stats (as high as you want to bother making them), every ability in the game as desired, infinite usage of said abilities. All of this is achievable in under 1 minute after attaining 5th level and is permanent (actually, in game terms, it would be “Instantaneous” – that is, not a “Permanent” effect that would be dispellable, or anything like that).

  18. Lon says:

    Dunno if this is the right place for this, but I am unable to view the strip. Images are not being displayed in either Firefox or IE.

  19. Nogard Codesmith says:

    [Lon] The reason it turns out is because todays comic is actually an illusion and it seems you made your save while the rest of us failed miseably.

  20. Anonymous Fan says:

    a game of Diablo

    Isn’t that what D&D is? Diablo without a computer?

  21. Elvy says:

    Arbaal, that was absolutely hilarious! I love you dearly now!

    It also reminds me of the time I was playing an angels & demons campaign. We were all angels of various assortments, I decided to play a cherubim but our “friend” decided to play a Malakim. Unfortunately Ken is a lawless “kill first, ask questions later” kind of player, but Malakim are like Paladins in a sense. A crazy old man NPC came up to us and started shouting with a bad Italian accent “You da Popa! I da Popa! Everybody happy!” Ken proceeds to kill the old man (for no reason whatsoever). Then our DM goes “A huge body of light flashes out of the mortal vessel” and returns back to heaven. Ken ‘killed’ Archangel Michael’s mortal vessel.

    After that all hell broke loose (literally) since his previous screw-ups ended up attracting Demon Prince Belial and then other Malakim were sent down to smite us for screwing up our mission. In retaliation, the DM reincarnated Ken’s avatar to look like a big dorky Star Wars fanboy from his big, buff VanDamme badass body. Ken proceeds to comment back “Worst vessel…EVER!”

    Needless to say, we didn’t win that campaign.

  22. Shamus says:

    Anonymous Fan: Only if you really, really mess up. D&D is about roleplaying – imaginging yourself as a character in a story. Diablo is about killing monsters and taking their stuff.

  23. Robert says:

    I’m not certain it’s metagaming. Displaying more knowledge of probability than their characters, maybe. Their job here is to save as many civilians as possible, so if that means marching faster…

    It’s a tough choice, but if you have to choose between granny having a heart attack and a dozen young folk being cut down in battle, what’s the logical decision? Remember Gimli’s rationale for leaving Gandalf…

  24. Takasi says:

    So far I’ve loved your comic, but I disagree with the commentary in this strip. To many players and DM’s, D&D is about killing monsters and taking their stuff. Hack and slash, kick in the door beer and pretzels games are as much “D&D” as heavy immersion, rules-flexible impromptu drama sessions.

    A good old dungeon crawl is classic D&D, where NPCs are there to be killed.

    Arbaal’s description of a little girl beating the snot out of a paladin is exactly what many players do not want to see. They want fairness, tactical combat and consistent rules that both the DM and the players need to abide by. Knowing that the DM is fudging rules and rolls will detract from the fun of the game as much as players who use their knowledge of game mechanics to dictate their character’s decisions.

  25. Shamus says:

    Takasi: Fair enough. I undertand that lots of people enjoy that sort of thing. It depends on the group. I could see enjoying being a player in such a game to a limited extent, but I think DM’ing that sort of game would be utterly tedious.

    In fact, most of the humor of DMotR comes from friction between these two types of people.

  26. Blindeye says:

    I can honestly say that forcing a city full of peasents into a forced march is perhaps the cruelest thing I’ve ever heard of. I think that if my players were to do that, there’d be a really good chance of a few of the bolder peasents to refuse and revolt against them. Especially once the first beloved grandparent falls over with a heart attack. Not violent and revolutionary revolt, but more like a peasent strike.
    In the end, the time the peasents sit around ‘resting’ until the players just let the poor farmers go at their own pace will have taken longer than if they just hadn’t bothered with the forced march in the first place.
    Cruelty to the lower class has it’s concequences.
    Also, on the note of random encounters, I enjoy rolling per 8 hours rather than ever single hour.

    p.s. The Paladin going against his alignment was a great story. Having his ass handed to him by an avatar is a great personal way to shape up a character, but I would have handled it more subtly. After I was sure his god was pissed with him, he’d find that the next day he couldn’t pray for his spells. He’d have to figure out why. And of course I’d be waiting for a honest to his god good deed before his power suddenly comes back.

    1. Nacata says:

      Speaking of paladins going out of alignment, one guy i know when negotiating with a shop keeper had his lawful good bahamut worshipping paladin ask the DM “Can’t i just kill him? PLEEEEAAASE dave?”

      1. WJS says:

        “No, and you take an XP penalty for even considering it”

  27. tigerdreams says:

    As ruthless as a forced march would be, I actually think the suggestion shows a bit of improvement on the PCs’ part; it means they actually care about whether the majority of the peasants live or die. Based on the characters’ previous words and actions, that strikes me as *progress*.

  28. Takasi says:

    The friction is IMO the heart and soul of the comic. The same thing happens in our group (see my link), which is why I’m glad we have enough players to host several campaigns.

    As a DM for both epic, story driven immersive games and light-hearted, metagame friendly, let-the-dice-fall-where-they-may hack and slash, I have to put on a different hat when I switch between these two very distinctive roles. In the former, you root for your players, and give them challenges but ultimately do not want to defeat them. The DM of the Rings doesn’t really want Aragorn to die, but he does want him to influence the story. The DM of the Hack (so to speak) needs to be much more adversarial.

    The biggest stimulation in running the good old Dungeon Crawl is in presenting challenges that are able to defeat the PCs while at the same time are able to be defeated by the PCs. There is nothing better for an adversarial DM than seeing a climactic TPK and hearing players lament over the fact that they almost won. Creating and designing interesting dungeons, treasures, traps and monsters in the same way that players are building PCs can be just as satisfying as simply writing story elements and using canned (or even rule-defying) monsters.

  29. EmeraldTiara says:

    Ah, but to do that, they have to get past NPC-Theoden, who, being played by the DM, will surely not let them do that! Or will he?

  30. Patrick says:

    When do I get to do the modeling for the new line of DotR spring collection? And where’s my free coffe mug homo? And these will all be avaiable at Hot Topic in the mall, right?

  31. Hagan says:

    Ahh but if they were really meta gaming they wouldnt say random party of orcs. All players know that the random encounter is the bane of all adventurers. Its so rarely orcs and more often Behirs and other randomly rolled murderous creatures that the party has no chance against. (Grins) at least in my experience.

  32. Web Goddess says:

    Oh gods, can I ever relate…

  33. Allan says:

    Daniel, if we’re going to talk about crazy stuff party members do, the group I DM has acquired a “war cow” named Bodesia (originally a runt calf bait for a lycanthrope which they decided to hold onto and are going to train…eventually) and, most recently, a “war wagon” made out of a vampires coffin. Oh, by the way, it’s a convertible (I have no idea how they managed to come up with that one).

  34. Gandalf The Monk says:

    Oh Hagan, you have no idea how right you are.
    My group focuses on character development and story progression an enourmous amount, and deadly combats (deadly for the PCs that is) are rare. Only a handful of our PCs have died, and it has always (except for a couple scripted times) been against random encouters.

  35. Tola says:


    It’s ‘meta’ but…

    Yes, he’s been running the numbers, but given that ‘every hour’ chance, there’s a good chance that they’d all end up killed.

    72 seperate checks. 72. No-one’s luck is good enough to not get multiple raids even if you cut the number of cheacks in half or even quartered it, and there’s no idea of how many defenders there are besides our heroes. Also little idea of what supplies/healing is avalible for the group during this march.

    As much as it’s ‘meta-game’, I can’t fault him for it. Looking at it from the outside, I can only say: This is going to be nasty…

    ….and it was, at that-the ‘random encounter’ was bloody cavalry.

    1. WJS says:

      Actually, if the odds of an attack are 1% per hour, they have about a 50% chance not to be attacked at all over 72 hours, which raises to over 60% if they can cut the trip to 2 days.
      If the odds of attack are 5% (1 on a d20), then they can expect 2-4 attacks over 72 hours, roughly 1 per day. Clearly cutting a day off their journey is advantageous here too.
      This is of course assuming that the DM doesn’t increase the chances of attack while they’re resting, which doesn’t seem too unreasonable to me; it’s harder to catch someone if they’re on the move.
      So, there’s clearly nothing wrong with his maths, merely the assumption that there’s a fixed chance of an attack per unit time.
      In reality, the odds of an attack would be increasing the closer you got to the main host, which simply gives you more of an incentive to move faster and stay out of the range of their forward scouts.

  36. Ed says:

    It’s not metagaming. It’s called being a general.

    Every general, every leader in that situation faces the same problem. Do you try to save the whole group, or do you try to sacrifice some to save the rest?

    Let me get this straight. It’s being a weak DM and metagaming when the players actually try to be responsible for hard decisions.

  37. Teria says:

    I can’t see the comic!!!! *weeps* *bawls* *tears hair out* *tears another hair out*

  38. Thenodrin says:

    I remember one Living Death game years ago where the object was to stop a ritual being performed. We had to figure out who the next sacrifice was, protect her and stop the cultists.

    Since we were having no luck finding the cultists, a suggestion was made. There were four potential candidates for the sacrifice. If we go and murder them all early, the ritual wouldn’t be able to be performed.

    Now, this plan had risks. Murder of an innocent was an automatic level of Evil Taint. But, it was pointed out that The Society would magically remove up to two levels of Taint between events. So, if we split up, none of us would be turned Evil by the acts, and we’d have stopped the ritual.

    We didn’t go through with it. But, the look on the Judge’s face was priceless.


  39. damien walder says:

    Heh – just read the wizards of the coast article on “Metagaming or Cheating?”. Worthwhil, had a bit of trouble with OOC and In Character knowledge stuff lately. Thanks Shamus.

  40. damien walder says:

    Missed reading this one earleir:

    Daniel The Great Says:
    “Hey everyone talking about abusing the game in the session of D & D i am playing in i just got to adopt a Kobold Baby cause we chickened out killing it call it a conciense (SIC) or call it a sick (SICK) joke we are playing on the DM either way i told him i would post it up here and tell the world of our crazy game.”

    Well Daniel –
    That’s going to be interesting – good for you, if you role-play that situation effectively.
    When establishing backstories and motivations for my PCs to have species-related affinities, as they’re non-humans, but very rare minorities in the non-human category – weretiger and kenku, both of whom wear disguises most of the time. It hasn’t cropped up just yet, but the kenku is keen to adopt a few winged critters (hoping for birds…), it just hasn’t presented yet. The DM is waaay fond of undead things, so who knows if the encounter tables will ever produce a nest of anything with feathers? Zombie-Cranes? Yuck!

    But hey – I truly appreiciate your mention (note my parentheses) of the plot twist – good luck with the Kobold AND the DM.

  41. hendrake says:

    Neverminding my opinion that Aragon & company wouldn’t have had the kind of authority necessary to make their idea happen, that Aragon was “running the numbers” hardly matters when deciding whether to forcemarch a bunch of townsfolk in an effort to outrun enemy scouting / raiding parties (the logical assumption is that they’re incoming, otherwise why are they retreating to Helm’s Deep?) is one of those moral decisions that we need more of in D&D.

    War sucks, hard choices must be made and inevitably people die no matter what you do. It’s not pretty, but Spock was right when he said, “The needs of the many…”

    It’s pragmatic, which isn’t necessarily metagaming – now in Legolas’ case, it is probably an Evil act (“Good, let’s get these losers moving”) – though he’s an Tolkein elf, so humans are probably like ants to him. In Aragon’s case, I’d call it a Neutral act. In neither case is it enough for an alignment shift, just a campaign note for future reference.

    As a DM, such a turn of events are a great opportunity to describe the efforts of the old and the young to keep up, the agonizing looks of the ones who slowly fall behind, the hard / guilty looks of those who lose familymembers (Hey, they pressed on too, y’know…), maybe even a chance to introduce a sprightly young lad who was helping others along, right up until he twisted his ankle on the run. Will one of them give up their horse for the youth or does effort count for nothing? Is it even fair to do so? Great opportunity to make the players get into the heads of their characters, that.

    Oh, and force-marching anyone for 72 hours straight (Gimli: “You really want to drive these poor people without rest for three days?”) would probably kill anyone, PCs included (though not necessarily those three Tolkein PCs, who are all essentially superhuman – c’mon, Legolas runs on the top of snow!). Force-marching doesn’t mean constant motion, but you know that so I’ll shut up.

    Finally, I thought having your GM-Avatar knocking the beejeezus out of a paladin was a bit of an overkill. Any Paladin that would ride down a little girl, twig or no, permanently loses his paladinhood and shifts to Lawful Neutral with an evil taint in my game, I don’t care what kind of “arguments” a rules-lawyer brings to the table.

    All that said – you truly rock, Shamus.

  42. Ed says:


    The more I think about it, the more I like having the PCs *stop the peasant right where they are* as orc bait, so the PCs can actually do some fighting and get some XP. I’ve got this image of the refugees a couple of weeks later, starving, with the PCs refusing to let them move. Or spreading the peasants out into a bunch of different groups to increase the odds of a random encounter.

    Now THAT’S metagaming.

  43. Ed says:

    Actually …

    Assuming that the DM is rolling for a random encounter 3x a day (every eight hours) with a 16.7% chance of a random encounter, and assuming that all random encounters are Sauruman’s orcs, then if the peasants are split into 12 groups and each ecounter is on average 100 orcs, this gives an expected orc encounter (and subsequent orc attrition) at about 600 per day. With 10,000 orcs, this gives about 17 days (or a little over two weeks) before Sauruman’s army is wiped out piecemeal.

    The peasants can suck it up for two weeks without food :-)

    1. Moridin says:

      What do you mean “without food”? There’ll be plenty of orcs to eat.

    2. WJS says:

      I know you’re not being serious, but I’ll point out the specifics of your scenario anyway.
      First, if they split up the peasants they would have to split up the guards too, which would be suicide. You use 100 as a number for orcs, which would TPK them easily. (There were only a dozen or so in the group that they did meet in the film). You also assume that the orcs will play along with this plan, and keep sending small groups at them despite having vastly superior numbers. This would be suicide.
      If my players tried this, they would get a couple of groups of forward scouts, then the rest of the orc army would arrive all at once. This can be the only proper response to the players trying such a stupid tactic.

  44. Ken the DM says:

    Just read through the whole thing in two sittings (interrupted by a dinner party). “What is your name Horse-Fucker” made me laugh for about five minutes, but everything else is pure gold. Please keep this up!

  45. Zippy Wonderdog says:

    Ironicly enough you can actually buy the Diablo RPG rules for d20 and I have an on and off project of adapting Diablo 2 into a campaign :D

  46. superfluousk says:

    Something else to point out is that if they do take the peasants on a forced march, then the peasants will be exhausted and useless if and when they *are* inevitably attacked. And while you might argue that they’re useless anyway, well, Aragorn and Legolas can’t *know* that, can they? I mean, these are the same peasants they’re going to be conscripting into service as soon as they get to Helm’s Deep.

    So when it comes to the questions of being ‘pragmatic’ and ‘realistic’ and being a good general, Aragorn should also consider — since they’re going to be attacked no matter what, does he want to have more time on the road with a group of peasants who may or may not have some utility in fighting off attacks, or less time on the road with peasants who are too exhausted and ill to be any use at all?

    At least one campaign I was in, which featured a cast entirely of paladins, more or less hinged on this question — there were four of us facing a cast of ten villains each as powerful as we were. If the paladin with the oratory hadn’t made successful rolls beforehand to get the crowd of peasants on our side (and if we hadn’t taken out first thing the caster who could do mind control) we would not have survived that fight. Sure, we lost a fair percentage of the peasants — about 10 out of 30 — but as a mob they could do a fair amount of damage.

    1. WJS says:

      No, the question is if you’re going to be attacked anyway, would you rather it be before or after you take up positions in the stone fortress and arm and armour all your men. In the film, Eowyn did take the peasants straight to the keep, remember? If they’d continued on at the same pace they were going on the first leg, they would probably have been caught by the whole army, not just the forward scouts.

  47. Matt says:

    “Google for, “˜Pun Pun Kobold'”

    This page is the third result (and the first 2 are both from the same website)

  48. Osric says:

    I Googled for “Pun Pun Kobold” and the third result was :oD

  49. Phil says:

    Yeah, I don’t think this is quite as clear-cut a moral issue as the commentary implies. I think my viewpoint would be that *some* degree of forced marching would, as others have noted, simply be pragmatic leadership. But at some point it moves beyond “harsh but necessary” territory and into “if we do this, we’re no better than those we’re fighting” – and the PC’s “crime” here is that they obviously don’t recognise (e.g. whips) that this line exists, and with their supposed alignments, they should.

    As for the metagaming, that’s mostly the DM’s fault. If the players “know” the adventure will depend rigidly on encounter die rolls, you can’t really blame them for treating that as a tactical factor.

  50. John says:

    Heh, that’s exactly the kind of though moral choice some GMs would love to throw at PCs. Force-march the peasants, risk the old and frail dying, but more of them live to make it to the keep (and thus fight the greater evil). Then whichever choice they make, you get to make them regret it by having them face the consequences – every young boy run down by raiders is their fault if they don’t force march, and every old woman collapsing at the side of the road is their fault if they do. Plus then they get to burn all their precious healing magics on peasants to compensate and try to get everyone through either choice.

    Cleric’s Player: “Okay, if I cast ‘Bear’s Endurance’ on young Timmy’s grandfather he can march 6 more hours and make it.”
    Fighter’s Player: “Yeah, but then *I* might not make it if I get cornered by the raiders.”
    Cleric’s Player: “Well, you’re a hero, that’s the risk you take – just don’t get cornered.”
    Fighter’s Player: “And what do you mean you’ve already used all your cure light wounds to get rid of the forced march’s subdual damage?”
    Paladin’s Player: “Okay, and I can put 1 point of lay-on-hands to the weakest looking 20 people. That’ll hold them a bit more.”

    That’s the OOC conversation, then the IC description can be a bit more compressed, the paladin moving through the crowd praising his god and encouraging each person with a strong, uplifting pat on the back.

  51. Ranchoth says:

    “No better than those we’re fighting”? Eh, personally, I’d say that dipping into an ethically “gray” tactic to keep an overall “good” civilization from falling is probably a better route than keeping your hands clean, and letting yourself be overrun by guys who use skulls for hats.

    I for one would rather, say, be remembered by future generations of free (well, OK, they’re probably serfs.) peasants as “Sir Bors the Cruel” than have them grow up as branded thrall on a skeleton farm.

    In other words…A choice between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless distinguishable postwar enviroments. We must destroy the peasants in order to save them!

  52. Dan Hemmens says:

    I’ve been readin this for a while, and I usually don’t comment, but this pushes a couple of my buttons.

    As a number of posters have already pointed out, there’s actually not much “metagaming” going on here, and what there is mostly comes from the players’ need to discuss complex in-character concepts in a way they can understand.

    Actually wanting to get to Helms’ Deep ahead of the Orcs is a perfectly legitimate decision. Besides, as other posters have pointed out, *proper* metagaming would be slowing to a crawl to *maximise* the number of XP-worthy encounters you come up against.

    That said, I’m glad to see that Shamus still treats the DM as sharing responsibility with the players for the situation. One of the reasons I’m still enjoying this strip is because it’s not degenerated into player-bashing.

  53. Shamus says:

    The angle I was taking – which I didn’t really make clear – is that the players don’t KNOW what the odds of an attack are. Obviously you wouldn’t force-march these people without a really good reason, and even then it would be something done with much regret. You certainly wouldn’t do something so clearly lethal based on vague guesses on how you expect the DM is running things, which your character shouldn’t know. I suppose I should have make it more obvious that Aragorn had no idea what he was talking about. (And of course, we all know that in the movie they ARE attacked.)

    But as other people have pointed out, this is valid if they had real data to back it up. If a scout said, “Orcs are coming” then I agree this would be a great chance to encourage the players to roleplay and face some tough choices.

  54. anachronist says:

    For those of you here trying to find the canonical information on Pun-pun (a character build with infinite stats), it’s here:

    Any DM worthy of the title will already know about it, and prohibit certain aspects required to make it – such as the Manipulate Form ability, or the Master of Many Forms class.

    Pun-pun is a thought experiment. Actually playing such a character in a game would be no challenge, and no fun.

  55. Gandalf The Monk says:

    “As for the metagaming, that's mostly the DM's fault. If the players “know” the adventure will depend rigidly on encounter die rolls, you can't really blame them for treating that as a tactical factor.”

    So…it’s the GM’s fault for the players using out-of-character knowledge at every opportunity? Bull – thats just the players being poor RPers.

  56. Dremmen says:

    110% with you there Gandalf. About time someone points out that in a D&D game the players *DO* have some responsibility. Yes, the DM is responsible for setting the scene, the monsters, the NPCs, etc, etc, etc. But the Players should *at the very least* be responsible their characters are RPed somewhat in character, and try to blend with the game the DM is running instead of trying to abuse it. DMs put a lot of time into getting games together and it can be heartbreaking to have players abuse the game like an underage thai hooker. They need to man up and take the time and thought to play their characters within the context they are given, making it a group experience (because lord knows that whatever investment they put into that is still just a fraction of the investment the DM put into the game), instead of abusing the system, abusing the story, and most of all, abusing the DM all for self-gratification through their characters.

    ahem. oh yeah and great strip. I’ll go lie down now.

  57. Steve says:

    Well said Shamus.

    Not only that, but calously writing off a few deaders like Aragormless does would be the cue for a forced alignment adjustment to Evil Evil Evil. There isn’t a good argument to not do this. History has many fine examples of the kind of thing Aragormless is proposing and without exception the proponents of such “solutions” are regarded as the epitome of evil. Gimlet’s player – the alignment lawyer of the group after the fiasco at the bridge of Khazad Dumb – would concur heartily.

    ‘Sides, it would royally p*ss off Aragormless’s player. Reason enough for the DMotR to do it.


    1. WJS says:

      Yes, history has many examples of leaders who had to make hard decisions, but no, they aren’t all viewed as the epitome of evil. Churchill sacrificed the entire city of Coventry for the war effort for god’s sake!

      It’s only leaders who sacrifice their people for their own personal gain such as Stalin that are seen in such a negative way.

      If the orcs catch up with them, they will kill or enslave them all. Leaving those who can’t keep ahead of the orcs behind is sacrificing them to save the rest. Sticking with them is sacrificing everyone for no reason.

      Of course, forced marching them if the orcs are several days behind them is just stupid, but there’s a difference between stupid and evil. Doing something wrong because you thought it was the right thing at the time is totally different from knowingly doing something wrong for personal gain.

      P.S. I’m defending the decision simply from an ethical perspective. I don’t dispute that Aragorn is using metagaming thinking to figure out what the best course of action is.

      1. Steve says:

        There’s an irony here you couldn’t have known you were committing, WJS: I was born and raised in Coventry during the post-WWII reconstruction (which took a very long time indeed). You should ask people who lived there at the time what they think of Churchill’s decision.

        Or better yet, look at what happened when he called a General Election right after the war. 8o)

        Note to Shamus: I was drifting by for a few minutes and got caught up for hours again in this wonderful work of art. The best thing is that there are still people, usually newbies in my RPG games, who haven’t seen the DMotR, so I can recommend something awesome and get reflected kudos in the game the next week.

        Well done. Truly a magnificent creation. I reaffirm my admiration for your creativity.

        And I still use “Keen Ranger Senses”, and memories of “Hoom hoom welcome to Isengard” still crack me up in public.

  58. Steve says:

    [Dremmen] I agree (mostly) with what you say. The subject of the one player who wishes to depart from the script and beahve like a visigoth on crack came up in a Call of Cthulhu forum I frequent. I’ll paraphrase:

    Person A: “How do others deal with a game that is too slow paced for them? Should they suck it in or should they take it up with the DM?

    Person B: “If I ever got fed up with the pacing of a game I wouldn’t bother discussing it with anyone. I would just burn down the village and let the DM deal with it. The ensuing chaos would send the message.

    Me: “Well, if I were running the game in question, you certainly *could* try doing what you suggest. The town would probably burn and the game would end sooner than planned. That would be okay with me. I could turf out all the players hours early and wouldn’t need to barbecue afterward. However, the town would be there unharmed next week, the clues and people unharmed. The players would still be able to get what they were supposed to from the visit. The only difference would be that you would not be there and invitations to my game would mysteriously stop getting to you. None of the players would tell you either. they like the barbecue at the end of the game.

    If you were to tell me the pace was too slow for you we could discuss it with everyone. If your view was shared by all, and if I had somehow not picked up on it beforehand, something constructive could be done.”

    The problem is that every so often you actually get one of those caricature stereotypical players turn up to a game. They are not supposed to really exsist, but they do. Biological age measured in double digits, maturity index measured in terms of shoe-size.

    You can either do unto them as they do unto you, or you can try and help them achieve a new plane of game experience. Just unerstand that some people truly never learn.


  59. Proteus says:

    I tried to come up with a game structure that would play like “DM of the Rings” but without a DM going through the trouble of mounting a large campaign (which the players proceed to blow off). What I came up with is too much to post, so it’s at:

    LMK what you think.

  60. Andi says:


    I understood exactly what you were getting at. It was right in the first panel: “I’ve been running the numbers,” and all the discussion of random encounter frequency. While the player knows all about random encounter rules, Aragorn (the character) doesn’t. He just knows that he was tasked with getting the peasants to safety (ie, Helm’s Deep).

    And, FWIW, Aragorn did do a forced march once (at least in the movie), right after they lost Gandalf in Moria and he told everyone to get the hobbits up and get them moving. He even overruled Boromir’s (?) pleas to let the hobbits rest. Why? Because he knew that once darkness fell, they’d be swarmed if they were still there.

    If that same kind of motivation had existed in getting the peasants to Helm’s Deep (ie, being chased by orcs and seeing them on the horizon), then a forced march wouldn’t be metagaming. But relying solely on your knowledge of the rules to know that in a situation like that the DM will role once per hour for a random encounter? That’s metagaming.

    In the gaming groups I’ve been in, when a player starts metagaming, the other players shut him down — fast. The DM doesn’t have to do a thing. It’s not fun for us if, for example, someone playing a ranger uses his real world knowledge of, say, chemistry in the game. So everyone quickly tells the person, “Your character wouldn’t know that”, and refuses to use the knowledge or let him. Problem solved.

  61. VermontGal says:

    Well, one of the weaknesses of D&D is the insane amount of rules, tables, and so forth. But one of the cool things about it is that in your own gaming group, there can be an AMAZING amount of leeway.

    That’s why it’s important to have a DM that’s fair and will put the overall needs of the game before the rules. If the DM decides 72 random wandering monster roles during a forced march is lame, he or she is under no legal obligations to do so.

    If the DM thinks getting a wayward paladin’s attention with a little superpower girl is the way to go (and/or more fun, appropriate, or just whimsical), then if it works, go for it. Gary Gygax isn’t there.

    If the characters really enjoy hack and slash, and romantic sub-plots end up pathetic…go more “Diablo-esque”. It’s OK, really. Or the other way…it’s your game.

    If one tries to play STRICTLY by the rules, one will find that not only can the game be bogged down, but you won’t find a rule, table, or answer for everything. Besides, the difference between D&D and a computer game is the amount of personal experience…

  62. Echo_Hotel says:

    Do you mean this stuff
    DM Guide
    Player Guide
    Looks like a fun “one-night-stand” in between serious campaigns.

  63. Scarlet Knight says:

    Ah! Nothing gets D&D’ers yapping like a good ol’ alignment debate!

    True, basic D&D is hack & slash, especially for beginners. We all cut our teeth that way. But 20 years ago, computers games like Diablo didn’t exist. Today, just pop in a disk & you can play “Go in room, kill creature, collect loot” a hundred different ways. D&D’s true big advantage over the computer is the roleplaying between real people.

    Remember, intent is always the answer to alignment. Killing the enemy trying to cross a bridge to defend fleeing comrades is good. Killing the enemy trying to cross a bridge to surrender because they are not fighting back is evil. Killing the enemy after they surrendered because you can’t let them go & can’t keep them alive is neutral.
    I think the word “losers” belies “it’s for their own good” .

  64. tk210 says:

    Reminds me of the strip from Knights of the Dinner Table where the players were calculating the cost of farm animals from the PHB so they could drive them ahead in a dungeon and set off all the traps. Wow. Can you see that? Or the time I played with a cavalier who insisted on robbing the dungeon of any furniture he found. Yeah, that’d make a great story. A knight carrying a headboard around…

    That’s when the rules get put to the side for a minute and the storyline gets a shot in the arm. Players yell ‘foul’ for a while, but then realize they’re beholden to the story.

  65. Akatsukami says:

    Any player worth his salt (which Aragormless is not, I readily concede) could re-cast his meta-gaming as roleplaying. Gimlet (oops, I mean Gimli) should easily be able to do. Shucks, even I could:

    “My friends, my umpety-katrillion years lived as a Ranger of the wilderness leads me to think that we cannot travel to Helm’s Deep without coming under attack by the foul armies of the White Hand, or even wandering brigands, and in such encounters some these poor folk would surely die. Even though it will bear hardly upon the aged and sick, therefore, we must begin a forced march…”

  66. Windblade says:

    I remember my first experience was with a painful metagamer/munchkin who rarely acted in character, and was a deeply selfish player. He was supposed to have been my characters bodyguard, but he avoided fighting wherever possible…

    and peasents… he wanted a small army of peasents to walk with him everywhere and carry everything, and to able to behead any one he liked to keep them in line because he was a samurai, and they were peasents.

    To be honest, i don;t think I ever had a good gaming experince with that player, and I almost lost c haracter due to his behaviour

  67. Earendil says:

    Ah worst enemy. Back when I was dming for NWN Wheel of Time server we were very strict with meta-gaming, even gave xp penalties for it if it was bad enough :)

  68. EezaK says:

    lol, aragorn is flippin sick, love it

  69. beriadanwen says:

    forget the peasants!who needs them anyway?


    why doesn’t aragorn stuff them in his leather tardis?

  70. ZachsMind says:

    “..If you adhere to the rules with meticulous authority and fill the world with generic NPCs, then soon enough you'll have players treating your world like a place to mine treasure and farm experience, and not like a place where an epic story is taking place..”

    Wow. That hit the nail on the head.

    In a nutshell, I think this is why I stopped paying for City of Heroes, left Anarchy Online even though it was still free at the time, and refuse to install World of Warcraft. A MMORPG is hardcoded rules with generic NPCs reciting stale dialogue, with players who metagame by farming, looting, or otherwise squeezing selfish goals out of the game without paying respect to its epic story.

    Come to think of it, this may be why I haven’t roleplayed recently at all. Either the roleplaying gets so intense it gets kinda creepy, or nobody’s roleplaying at all and you might as well be playing Monopoly.

    A good RPG session is essentially group storytelling. Each person poses as a character in the story. You got one guy who’s weaving the bulk of the environment and participants describe what their character does in that environment. The dice are just there to keep people from arguing with each other, but when the dice become the game at the expense of the story? That’s when it’s time to roll up the bag of Doritos and call it a night.

    I’ve yet to run into a MMORPG program that captures this, and I haven’t found a group like that since college. Everyone seems more interested in boostering a high level character that is then so powerful it’s boring to play.

  71. Viktor says:

    If you look at it, it is in character. Aragorn’s only motivation is to save the peasants. He doesn’t reference “less risk for me” even once. And as to him knowing the numbers, I view those as estimates of actual probabilities. Your characters may not know the numbers, but they will at least have a “feel” for it, the same way you might know which road to take on the way home, and they might be able to guess that maybe a forced march will be less risky in the long run. Granted, the conversation is OoC, at least in terms of word choice, but the GM hasn’t bugged them about that before. I would understand making them repeat the convo, but that seems world-legal. Unless one of them is STRICT lawful good, I doubt it would even be an alignment shift.

  72. Toil3T says:

    “Isn't that what D&D is? Diablo without a computer?”
    Anon, have you ever played DnD? It’s a ROLEPLAYING game. Computerized RPGs are all combat, with little roleplaying. That being said, Diablo is a fun game.
    I’m not trying to be mean here. If you haven’t played DnD before, give it a go. If you need help finding a group, just ask some of these “experienced” (old) people.

  73. nitefly says:

    By Shamus:
    “Anonymous Fan: Only if you really, really mess up. D&D is about roleplaying – imaginging yourself as a character in a story. Diablo is about killing monsters and taking their stuff.”
    That’s hilarious. D&D is Diablo, you are rewarded for slaughtering people only or for defeating obstacles in your way (traps, riddles etc apart from monsters).

    This leads to the fantastic situation of anyone being even remotely accomplished in D&D (ie a royal dancer, a renowned painter or something) is also a multi-massmurderer. D&D is the best combat table-top game focusing on single characters that I know of but it is not an obvious avenue for roleplaying unless you heavily modify the rules and play with a lot of house rules.

    But the mechanics are solid, easy and allows for a lot of strategic/tactical thinking. I can’t imagine a roleplayer opting to play D&D for the roleplaying potential?

    RuneQuest would be the game I would suggest anyone wanting to roleplay in a fantasy setting as the character system is just beautiful.

  74. Morambar says:

    I wasn’t present (sadly) but a guy I used to game with once told me a story about his fairly high level group (which I personally think an otherwise fine storytelling GM let munchkinize, or at least min-max, itself; it’s the reason OUR low level group went to Ravenloft with a freakin’ Dagger +1…. ) Seems the orc paladin (I kid you not; Flame Knight, no less, who had in is possession not one but TWO class specific swords that acted as flametongues for his order… ) actually DID, at around 10th level, FLEE a RUST MONSTER for fear of what it might do to his shiny suit of full plate. It’s the equivalent of an M1A1 Abrams fleeing a kid with a stick astride a donkey, right down to the part about displaying a humiliating yet shameless degree of cowardice in the face of not just a threat, but a non-lethal one. So much for roleplaying, eh…?

    Also seems to me the PCs in this case would be mostly, if not entirely, Chaotic Good, or at worst Neutral Good; no marching hundreds of NPC strangers to their deaths just because you want to go adventuring but not have too many adventures. I’ll concede the literary versions surrendered their weapons pretty meekly at Edoras just because it was the law, but THESE jokers didn’t….

  75. Morambar says:

    Also, Shamus, you make an excellent point I think most miss (though it was my first thought. ) The POSSIBILITY of an encounter(s) that MIGHT be lethal to some peasants (or maybe there are few encounters and the combat goes outstandingly well; remember what Legolas did to Gollum, and after a couple millennia you just know he has SICK hit dice… ) doesn’t justify the certainty of the (presumably good aligned) CHARACTERS forcing an action CERTAIN to kill a number of them. I mean, if I’m a crofter from Dunland it makes me little difference if I die from an orc spear through my chest or Aragorn sprinting me into the mountains for a day and a half straight. Actually, given my distaste for running, I’d prefer the speed of the spear, but I’m just as dead either way; the only difference is who’s culpable, and whether it MAY happen day after tomorrow (a possibility we all face, really… ) or WILL happen by sunup….

  76. henrebotha says:



  77. Zachs mind, I think your a bit off about combat and dice. yes DnD is a roleplaying game, but I belive that if the party never swung a sword or used a spell then your not playing a game, your just sitting around pretending to be other people. In almost all fantasy novels (the basis for Dnd) The characters engage in combat, this doesn’t mean the story is terrible, it just means thiers a physical struggle as well as a mental one. If your games end at the slightest possibilty of fighting then I can’t imagine its very exciting at all.

  78. “Also, Shamus, you make an excellent point I think most miss (though it was my first thought. ) The POSSIBILITY of an encounter(s) that MIGHT be lethal to some peasants (or maybe there are few encounters and the combat goes outstandingly well; remember what Legolas did to Gollum, and after a couple millennia you just know he has SICK hit dice… ) doesn't justify the certainty of the (presumably good aligned) CHARACTERS forcing an action CERTAIN to kill a number of them. I mean, if I'm a crofter from Dunland it makes me little difference if I die from an orc spear through my chest or Aragorn sprinting me into the mountains for a day and a half straight. Actually, given my distaste for running, I'd prefer the speed of the spear, but I'm just as dead either way; the only difference is who's culpable, and whether it MAY happen day after tomorrow (a possibility we all face, really… ) or WILL happen by sunup….”

    Hold up, though.

    Taking a bunch of civilians through hostile territory and LETTING them get killed by enemies you are highly certain (if not literally certain – but then again, you’re not literally certain a forced march will kill them either, are you? Maybe they were all track stars) will arrive is just as bad.

    The meta-gaming part is the random encounter table, but the random encounter table is a good OOC representation in this case of an IC fact: Orc raiders and the forces of Sauron are looking to attack the PCs and the people they’re taking to Helm’s Deep. Getting them to Helm’s Deep as rapidly as possible is vital. And any orc raiders could quickly steal away with a lot of people, including the people who are NEEDED for the Helm’s Deep defense: Young-to-middle aged adults.

    War is horrible, and difficult choices have to be made. I don’t know about a literal forced march with no rest for three days, but saying that the group of refugees should move without rest or with one 10 minute break throughout the whole day? The faster they get to Helm’s Deep, the less of them die…

  79. Narfin says:

    Been reading and passing on to my current and past players for a while now. I have to say there are some real words of wisdom here. Not the generic stuff you find in most gaming books. Here’s a guy putting it out there what we all know to be true. Things we’ve either encountered, learned or just plain agree on. this is the kind of thing that should be in a book for the new guys. Rules are fine and the system needs to be taught but the… ‘Philosophy of Play’ or the ‘Pit Falls of the Game’ are something that usually only comes with time.

  80. Gaktak says:

    Ok… I’ve been wanting to say this…. YOUR COMICS R AWESOME!!!!!

    P.S.: and thats the reason DIABLO ROCKS!!!!!!!

    P.P.S.: YAY!!! I got to be Numbah 80!!!!! No one will ever read this!!!!!!!!!

  81. Arazmus says:

    Diablo, well that’s what they finally turned it into with 4th edition. Either that or Everquest.

  82. Sanishiver says:

    Heh, I read it, Gaktak.

    As to Shamus’ points: Well said.

    After all, the game rules are an approximation at best. It’s up to the DM to fill in the gaps and keep things alive (so to speak) in the players’ minds. Rules just can’t do that.

  83. Aena says:

    I just found this a couple of days ago but i love it! Its Freakin Hilarious! ive been wanting a little lord of the rings humor and i acctually found this place by accident but i love it! Nice job Shamus! :) :)

  84. Eorn says:

    Pun Pun is worse than that. He can become truly omnipotent at level 1 (thanks to Pazuzu’s penchant for temptation) OR before birth (thanks to the unholy scion template).

  85. caradoc says:

    Though the strip is dated Mar 2007, I see the comments have made it to June 2009, so I may as well toss out a couple of thoughts. I’ll check back in 2012 and see if I get any replies.

    Anyway, I do understand the appeal of a mindless hack-and-slash treasure hunt, but what a horrid waste of having a real, live DM. You can get hack-and-slash online and in the comfort of your home. But for a social game with the opportunity to take part in an epic story, you need a moderated game.

    Second, the DM has to be a psychologist on top of everything else. You need to understand what your players need form the game in order to have a good time. If someone insists on being a selfish little prick, I try to understand why and find an outlet for that. The worst problem player I ever had fell right into line when I told him that he was supposed to be a traitor to the party. He got off on the scheming and lying — and to pull of his deception, he had to act like a good party member.

  86. sjc says:

    “and we did not bring a whip” made me smile as I remembered a game I played in a while back (eight years ago or so) when I had a halfling thief who had a whip. We were on a quest and ran into a village suffering from ogre raids. I said hey the quest we are on right now is way more important and we should come back afterwards; of course the rest say that that would not be right and we need to help them now. So I climb up to the top of a pile of rubble pull out the whip and crack it to get everyone’s attension and start to bellow out orders. At least one if not two of the other characters yell out “get him down from there!” That campaign was one of the better ones I have been in.

  87. Kel'Thuzad says:

    Wouldn’t the players want the XP from the fighting though?

  88. Sir Yegudo the Ascender says:

    Heh heh… Can anyone else hear some orcs singing ‘Where there’s a whip, there’s a way’?

  89. Techan says:

    As a DM, I generally try to avoid meta-game thinking and conversations. I entirely agree with the idea that if you encourage rule hounding, that’s what you get, people thinking about the rules and not the game. That being said, I used to have a pretty amusing (to us anyways) running gag with my old D&D gang where their characters would try to roleplay out a meta-game explanation of something.
    For instance this actually happened once:
    A sorcerer named Rudin is trying to determine the worth and power of a magic sword that his fighter companion Rillian is about to buy. The sword in question is a +3 Icy Burst Longsword.

    Blacksmith: This here is a fine blade indeed. Impossibly sharp, balanced, and enchanted with magical frost that will turn your enemies to blocks of ice!

    Rillian: That sounds great! How much damage does it do?
    (DM: Seriously? In character guys!)

    Rudin: Right, so If I were to apply a numerical value to how much harm this weapon would cause someone, relative to a similarly derived number that would represent how tough that victim is, what would that number be?
    (DM: *slapping my forehead* Damn math majors, FINE!)

    Blacksmith: It’s about 3 levels of craftsmanship above your average blade.

    Rudin: Okay, and lets say that both the physical and the magical damage this sword is capable of were to be represented by two separate and randomly selected variables within a confined set of parameters. What would those parameters be?

    ((I honestly can’t fault him too much for this, his character was like a medieval scientist who had an obsession with quantifying everything. An interesting character quirk, but one that I still wonder if he made simply for this purpose.))

    1. WJS says:

      You can certainly refuse to let him get away with it. Simply have nobody have the slightest clue what he’s talking about, and if he persists have them tell him to piss off and stop wasting their time. Just because he can propose damage quantification in-universe doesn’t mean that anybody else will understand it, and there certainly won’t be a pre-existing standardised scale!

  90. Dre says:

    Ironically, a roleplay-heavy game set in Sanctuary can actually be breathtakingly beautiful and loads of fun.

  91. joesolo says:

    “we didnt bring a whip” yea, that sums up most players

  92. Nacata says:


  93. Vorsilder says:

    I’m surprised that no one in 4 years time didn’t mention “Where There’s a Whip, There is a Way”

  94. Luigifan says:

    Legolas or Aragorn should have pointed out that the whole point of a forced march is to make the trip shorter.

  95. this happens to me in every campaign, I feel like looking at the charaters and telling them you chose your alignment not me

  96. TheGhostKing says:

    Whoo 100

  97. K says:

    You’re talking about D&D. Every game of D&D is like DMing a game of Diablo. It comes with the territory. If you want actual roleplaying and not Hack&Slay, you should play a game that supports roleplaying, not just (barely) tolerate it. Face it: If you’re using a rule set that has approximately a billion rules for winning bloody combat and about two throwaway lines for everything else, guess what the players will fixate on?

  98. Arkanabar says:

    This is one of the reasons I really like Earthdawn. Instead of XP, it has Legend Points. The GM passes out awards, which vary from about 1/6 to 1/3 what you need to improve an average-ranked Talent by one rank. He awards them for:

    Survival (1 award)
    Meeting session goal (1 award)
    Overcoming challenges (1 award)
    role-play (1 award)
    Moments of Awesome (1/2 to 1 award each)
    Meeting story goal (1-2 awards)
    Combat (1/2 award)

    Typically, you get around 5 awards per session. It’s actually pretty easy to apply to D&D. Just change an award to about 0.05 level of XP, for the lowest-level character.

  99. WJS says:

    It’s probably worth noting (which I don’t believe anybody has) that a forced march in D&D merely refers to walking for more than 8 hours per day, and only deals nonlethal damage. They want to stay as far ahead of the orcs as possible, so they should certainly be doing some forced marching; the question is whether to push until the peasants start dropping from exhaustion before resting or to give them reprieve sooner. (As an aside, does anyone else find it strange that these horse-people are traveling on foot? Are they called horsemen merely because their soldiers are all cavalry? We don’t see a single wagon during the entire sequence, just the odd handcart)

  100. Jozef says:


    Reading only all of them in a day.

  101. MaxForrest says:

    *sigh* Sad yet true. Sounds like Belkar to me.

  102. Lance McMillan says:

    Leg-o-lamb: “Won’t a forced march kill some of them?”
    Arrowroot: “A few, sure. But mostly just the sick and the old. Those guys are probably screwed either way.”

    Neatly sums up the Trump administration’s plan for dealing with the Covid epidemic.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Hi I’m here from two years in the future to point out it got worse under Biden

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.