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DM of the Rings LXXIX:
AD&D and ADD

By Shamus
on Friday Mar 23, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


Tension builds in Helm’s Deep.

Legolas is an annoying Munchkin.

There’s one in every group, but only if you’re lucky. If you’re not lucky, then all the players are like this.

Comments (92)

1 2

  1. Mysti says:

    Yay first! Do I get a cookie? Or maybe a puppy? Why do people wanna be first anyway?

  2. Mysti says:

    And now that I actually read it I’m LOLing!

    My ex-fiance used to want to play an Arcane archer sooooooooooooo badly, but every time he would get one just to the point of taking a level in Arcane archer the game would fizzle or whatever. It really pissed him off. I’ve had people do that though, they would thumb through the books while things were slow and then bring up ideas for prestige classes or their next feat. I had to make a rule that no one is allowed looking at the books unless it was to look up an actual pertinent rule at the time.

  3. Rawling says:

    Heh, even Gimli’s getting into the roleplaying there. Good to see it rubbing off for once.

  4. Badger says:

    missed it.

    Thats most of my game group… tho at level 20 everything is very tedious… 4 hour combats while you work out which skill/weapons/spells/feats to use. Meh.

    Top strip again Shamus!

  5. EmeraldTiara says:

    Agh, I missed it by one! I’m getting slow…

    So what now? I’m expecting something vaguely sarcastic when Legolas does that slide-on-a-shield thing down the staris.

  6. Mara says:

    I want a poster of Aragorn’s disappointed puppy-dog face in the third-to-last panel. He was having a moment there, man!

  7. Browncoat says:

    Gimli just now getting into roleplaying? Naw, look at his introduction. No one wanted to play with him because he was a “classically trained” roleplayer. (OK, Shamus didn’t describe him as classically trained, I did. And only here. Not there.)

    Anyway, I laughed most at the title.

  8. Browncoat says:

    Oh, and how come these posts have time-stamps on them that are one-hour too early? Because our wonderful congress screwed up daylight savings time for us?

  9. Woerlan says:

    Arcane archer, one of the few prestige classes that my players describe as almost broken. At the very least, it’s one of the top prestige classes out there. The “magical arrow” concept is a big draw, apparently.

    I’ve been lucky so far that the “one in every party” is true in my case. Just one pure paper gamer. Everyone else roleplays and leaves the book-keeping to non-game time. The paper gamer is content to be the battle tactician and d20 mathematician. ^_^

  10. Web Goddess says:

    Ha ha! Nice.

    Sadly, I’m one of the unlucky ones…

    • Bryan says:

      I am also one of the unlucky ones.

      P1: OK, how much gold do I need to make a Tac-Nuke?
      P2: You can’t make a Tac-Nuke, they don’t exist!
      P1: That’s why I want this blacksmith to make it!
      P3: Would you both PLEASE just stop arguing!

      ME: The blacksmith charges one gold, but neglects to tell you he armed it before throwing it to you. You are all now dead. The town rejoices. The blacksmith is given all your valuables, a 1000g reward and promoted to town Mayor. You can start rolling new chatacters now, for a STANDARD campaign.

      P1: How many XP did I get?

      I think you can see how this would get old fast.

  11. Namfoodle says:

    Hey at least Legolas was looking at a D&D book. At our game, the players waiting for their turn tend to get distracted by the GM’s collection of Maxim & Stuff magazine, various graphic novels, or the cat. We also have a player that still carries his 3.0 books around, even though we’ve been playing 3.5 for years. I don’t care if he doesn’t want to buy a new book, he can use the SRD. But sometimes he looks up things in the wrong book during a game, and we have to say: “No, it doesn’t work like that any more!” And he’s a bard.

    It’s like some kind of twisted game within a game Order of the Stick LARP.

  12. Gary's Friend Jim says:

    I’d just be happy to have a group excited to play my game. If they’re excited about their characters, they’re excited about my campaign by extension, I figure.

  13. Fickle says:

    Awwwwww. Legolas is so cute when he’s excited and getting into the game!

  14. Ishmael says:

    Legolas is pretty cute, period. Also, this comic was awesome. I’ve had this happen to me… oh yes.

  15. The Gneech says:

    And here I was waiting for “Whatever — can we cut the prune juice and roll for initiative already???”

    -The Gneech

  16. SteveDJ says:

    You did it – a Triple-silent-panels gag! And it works – great stuff!

  17. Register says:

    As someone that has ADD, I take offense to this!

    Or not, considering our group back home was called ADD Knights. :)

  18. Zudrak says:

    As someone else who suffers from ADD, I was mad at this strip until I read the comments. Then, I forgot what I was mad at.

    What was I saying?

  19. Blindeye says:

    Oh man, I think I’m the ADD player… I am so ashamed.

    But in my defense, I actually HAVE ADD. I really wish I didn’t.

  20. Anony-mouse says:

    One of the players in the campaign that I’m currently in created an Excel spreadsheet, comparing all of the different tracks her paladin could take through various prestige classes in an effort to max her damage/level.

    Why, yes, she’s a WoW addict, too. Why do you ask?

  21. Chosen One says:

    For the non-english speaker’s sake, what is an ADD player?
    Thanks :)

  22. Corwin says:

    Chosen One:
    ADD == Attention Deficit Disorder

  23. Dannerman says:

    Namfoodle, I share your pain; I had a player exactly like that who was also one of those highly argumentative, competitive-type rules lawyers (I’m an “overly-helpful” rules-lawyer when I play, which is almost as irritating, but I don’t play often. I wonder why :-). We banned him from bringing his own books after a short while.

  24. Caius says:

    ADOS = Attention Deficite … OOOO Shiny!

  25. Monkeyman says:

    Like other posters before me, I have ADD and am definitely “that guy” in my group. Unlike others, though, I never found anything offensive in this comic — all gutbusting funny!

    Of course, I find that my ADD doesn’t let me study prestige classes during distractions. But then again, I’m not as amusing as the guy playing Legolas…

  26. Thad says:

    Since during the rare times I get to play, we play basic D&D (before any Advanced or versions or stuff), so there’s nothing to be interested in when getting a new level… except for potential spells of course, but for fighter and others…

  27. Telas says:

    Thanks for this comic; I’ll use it repeatedly when the online discussion turns to mechanics over roleplay.


  28. adam. says:

    I too have ADD, but it more often manifests as bizarre solutions or random outbursts such as setting fire to a mattress to defeat goblins and generalized use of prestidigitation and mage hand. those are both really powerful spells. I mean, mage hand lasts as long as you concentrate and it gives you 5 pounds of telekenisis! you can wield a needle against someone, poke someone’s eye out, tap their shoulder to distract them. and prestidigitation lets you do all kinds of neat things like, this food tastes really really good now even though it is trail rations, and you can turn very small amounts of things into other things for a short while! I’ve used this in games to secret a contact poison onto people in the form of a stick.

    Anyways I want a class dedicated to the use of magic missile because that is a neat spell.

  29. TimN says:

    I’m with SteveDJ on this one. You’ve taken the silent-panels gag to a whole new level on this one. I laughed out loud for at least 20 seconds. Those grabs of Aragorn and Gimly couldn’t have been picked better. Its as if they were sitting there waiting for you to write this strip.

  30. Scarlet Knight says:

    Arcane archer? What for? Legolas can handle orcs & uruk-hai fine. It’s not like he’s ever gonna’ use it against anything big, like ah… oh, I don’t know, say …an oliphant!

  31. Jeff says:

    Actually, Arcane Archers are broken in a bad way unless you’re looking at something like the new Duskblade from PHB2.

    That’s because they have to split their progression, which hurts their BAB, especially if they want a decent spell to stick onto their arrows.


    Spell-wise, you’d have to be a pure level 12 wiz or sorc to grab, so you’re not going to be a full Caster in any extent. This means the quickest way to grab it is with fighter/ranger 5 wiz/sorc 2, or 6/1.

    The PrC doesn’t give any spells, so if you want to be tossing fireballs or something (ala NWN) the fastest is 5/5 for a wizard or 5/6 for a sorcerer. And then another 2 levels (or AA itself) to get Imbue Arrow

    Now, if you’re primarily an archer and don’t have a +1 bow by level 12… you should have a wealth of 66000 going into level 11, so the Enhance Arrow +1 is kind of useless.
    Alternatively, you go with the level 7 minimum and then AA all the way, but then you’ve ‘wasted’ one or two levels of a warrior class to grab spells you’ll barely use (in which case Wizard is superior to Sorcerer as you can accumulate a large variety of spells).

    In essence, the AA PrC as a built-in feature where you can’t optimize your character, unlike a PrC like Archmage where taking it loses nothing but familiar progression and perhaps a bonus feat (for wizards).

  32. Marmot says:

    Haha, I totally enjoyed blunders like this. They’re… frighteningly real, that I can say at least!

  33. Sky says:

    You know, I was reading the start of this with the few hundred versus ten thousand and expecting Aragorn to bust out with “THIS IS SPARTA!!!!” – hey, they’ve already beaten the Monty Python jokes to death, why not rip off all the other quotable flicks too :)

  34. Steve the DM says:

    I found this site a few weeks ago and shared it with everyone in our group.
    This has to be one of the funniest online comics/farces/spoofs I’ve ever seen. This is so totally our gaming group. (I don’t know if I should be proud of that fact or not… just kidding guys.)

  35. Mordaedil says:

    Okay, so what is so attractive about the Arcane Archer? I’ve played one in NWN, but it wasn’t… All that cool. It lacked the arcane kick other prestige classes manages just fine.

  36. Nilus says:

    NWN and real pen and paper AD&D a pretty different. Especially the prestige classes.

  37. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    You know, this actually was pretty tense until Lego-Lass butted in. Jerk.

  38. Dantekrad says:

    I’m NOT lucky… snif! (i’ve got 1 player normal, the rest are all like this…)

  39. Alia says:

    We use to have an interasting combination of people. I’m ADD and tend to zone out during D&D sessions. So I started to flip through books and figure out what I wanted next but would rarely comment on it during game.

    Then another guy, who isn’t ADD, just a bored rules lawyer, saw me flipping through the books and started as well. I’d keep playing and interacting with everything but he’d just stop. Every round of combat, when it was his turn, we’d have to describe what was going on. At some point during the game he’d start to wonder what to take next out loud. We eventually ignored him. When he got pissed off over something, we kicked him out of the game.

  40. Thenodrin says:

    We have a regular at our game sessions who is overworked both at home and the office. So, every week that he attends, he falls asleep. It’s only really annoying when he wakes up at the “wrong” time.

    One time, our characters had successfully snuck into the location and were carefully taking out guards nice and quiet to better get what we were after and back out. Our friend wakes up, realizes that the three of us are trying to keep a single enemy from getting away. So, he fireballs the hallway.

    Now, he was careful not to catch any of us in the blast. But, he completely would have ruined our plan. The DM let us talk him out of it, understanding that his character wasn’t asleep, and so would have known the plan. So, he cast Ray of Enfeeblement instead and promptly went back to sleep.


  41. Dear Shamus – I gave this strip 9 cackles out of a possible 10 cackles.

    Having just completed our 3/4 real time year-long adventure, all the players in our group are about to level up. So I borrowed a passel of books to supplement my own (I haven’t bought the Complete Scoundrel/Adventurer/DM’s guide for V3.5) – and can I get a shout out to the DMs who do this? I love the books, but hundreds of dollars to check a few things… I buy the official miniatures, so wizards o’ the coast gets my money anyway.
    So I was zoning out after a long day and night, trying to figure out an add-on multi-class and I read the Arcane Archer stats and such (along with other prestige thingies) – so the friday comic was extra funny.
    Sleep loss works like that…

    Going for stealth (I’m hunting Wabbits!),

  42. Hotaru says:

    i must agree with nilus, the NWN games and the Pen and Paper are quite different. NWN was engineered for looks, and to be honest is really easy depending on your class. Pen and Paper… you get 2 level 1 characters surrounded by 10 cats and you’re dead… i still have nightmares of those cats

  43. superfluousk says:

    Gah! Look at Aragorn in that second to last panel, and do people still have to wonder why teenage girls are out there adoring over him? Sure, you can get shots where he looks pretty bad, but hey, nobody looks their best first thing in the morning without makeup.

  44. Tola says:

    Arcane Archer? Legolas casting spells?(One of the requirements is ‘Able to Cast 1st level Arcane Spells.)


    • WJS says:

      Elves favoured class is wizard, and the official explanation for favoured classes makes mention that many members of that race will have a level or two in their favoured class in addition to their main vocation.

      Leggy there doesn’t seem to have the Int for wizardry though, I would guess sorcerer if he does have the requisite level in a casting class. (Which we obviously have seen no evidence of)

  45. Tola says:

    On a side note, it’s not the first time this has happened(See ‘Irritating Distractions’). Why are they so surprised?

  46. Cineris says:

    Ha! Clever strip. I have to be critical though as I find the combination of “Arcane Archer” and “Awesome” in the same sentence a bit jarring to my munchkinizing alter-ego.

    Unless, of course, the “one in every group” is a person who thinks they’re an elite min-maxer, but in reality are just blinded by glitzy toys.

    Jeff did a good job pointing out why it’s a bad prestige class. It’s reputation as “good” is pretty much historical, as it was one of the first prestige classes published. I always thought it stunk, but I guess back in 3.0 edition before the tidal wave of splatbooks hit, it might’ve been “good” for a wizard-archer hybrid.

  47. Harlock says:

    Well, and it was better in 3.0 when +arrow and +bow actually stacked. Now they don’t, so it’s more cost-effective in the long run to just get a +5 bow and mundane ammo. Or go for a level 10 Arcane Archer and use a plain old ordinary bow, I suppose… Of course, the real fun of a magical bow isn’t the + rating anyway, it’s the energy damage/holy/speed/whatever other nastiness you can find that you put on it. I know I’d rather face an archer with a +5 bow than one with a +1 speed bow, anyway.

  48. Jeff says:

    No no, you grab a +5 on your bow and +1 specialized arrows.

    +5 Bow is 50000 (although speed may seem like a good idea, it’s probably something your can get from casters. Or failing that, potions and boots of speed and the like.)

    In any case, you then get +1 bane arrows. Each of which is a +2 equivalent item, for 8000 bucks per 50 arrows. (Clearly I’m ignoring MW costs here).

    And if you really want you can get elemental damage arrows, which would also be +2 equivalents.

    So you end up firing +5 bane arrows, or +5 fire arrows, or what have you… a 72000gp bow for the cost of 58000gp. (Save 14000)

    Or get +3 arrows (holy, for one) for 18000.
    A 98000gp bow for 68000gp. (Save 30000)

    So have a +5 bow, and any effects you want on arrows – the higher the enchant of the arrows, the more money you ‘save’.

    “But wait!” I hear someone say, “Arrows get used up!”

    Well yes, they do. Yet you can have, for example, different sets of bane arrows. Which means if you’re fighting both Undead and mixed elementals, you have the +2 and +2d6 damage against them (via arrow choice), as opposed to being stuck dealing only damage to one (as would happen if you had Holy, or an inappropriate element vs the elementals).

    Archers generally should get flat enchantment bows, and put all sorts of varying enchantments on arrows, as well as a wide variety of material types. This makes archers effective at everything (versatility) but need to have upkeep (for their arrows), but if you look at the +7 bow equivalent (98000 for 68000) you can easily afford more than a hundred arrows before you start to ‘lose’ money. Yet it’s a small price to pay for always being effective.

    (This was actually on my mind a bit as I was pondering shelling cash out for a new weapon for my melee-rogue. Holy weapons (silvered or cold iron) means anti-devil/demon, but are useless against neutral creatures. Elemental damage are good against lots of things, but useless against demon/devils and a host of elementally aligned creatures and outsiders.
    An archer can bypass all this thinking and just grab a half dozen arrows of each.

  49. Woerlan says:

    Reason why arcane archer is better than you think it is: Not every d20 gaming environment has magical Walmarts with hundreds or thousands of varieties of magical weapons, armor and items in stock. I understand that the arcane archer would seem fairly lame in a place where you can walk to the neighborhood magic shop and buy whatever you need on the go. However, in realms other than the Munchkin-zone, being able to self-enchant every arrow that you fire is a tremendous advantage.

  50. MOM says:

    Any person fuzzy on the definition of geek should read the comments to this strip:-)

  51. FhnuZoag says:

    “Pen and Paper… you get 2 level 1 characters surrounded by 10 cats and you're dead… i still have nightmares of those cats”

    Nah, that’s easy with a bit of skill, if you make good use of spells (especially color spray for wiping out big mobs at a time, using the other PC for bait) or oil flasks/splash weapons. (wipe out 5ft radius areas with 2 hits, no need for AC rolls)

  52. deth_knight says:

    Long time lurker first time poster, well done Shamus, very funny, keep up the good work.

    @ Jeff
    You have way too much time on your hands.

    OOoooo Shiney

  53. WheatKing says:

    I’m waiting to see if the player commit suicide after surviving the night and finding no loot.

  54. Jeff says:

    “Reason why arcane archer is better than you think it is: Not every d20 gaming environment has magical Walmarts with hundreds or thousands of varieties of magical weapons, armor and items in stock. I understand that the arcane archer would seem fairly lame in a place where you can walk to the neighborhood magic shop and buy whatever you need on the go. However, in realms other than the Munchkin-zone, being able to self-enchant every arrow that you fire is a tremendous advantage.”

    Did you just call me a Munchkin?

    The specific examples of Eberron and Forgotten Realms aside, by DEFAULT challenge ratings are defined such that they are appropriate if the party has the appropriate wealth per level.

    If your party has less than the prescribed amount of wealth, then the CR system breaks down. And this is usable wealth, not large traits of untaxed land. If the party is stuck in wilderness away from large cities (which the DMG does give guidelines on what is available where), then CR breaks down.

    So yeah, in a normal D&D game all of this IS available, as the challenge rating system is entirely BASED on it being available.

    So it’s not “Realms other than Munchkin-zone.” It’s “A low-magic campaign different from the norm.”

    So if the particular campaign you’re in is run by Scrooge McDuck, then yes, AA and monks and other classes unbound by wealth become very useful.

  55. Cineris says:

    Woerlan, if you’re playing by the rules suggested in the PHB and DMG then every D&D gameworld is indeed filled with magical Wal-Marts.

    You’re free to deviate from that if you want. I encourage it, actually, because I simply can’t see how any world with the easy availability of magic that D&D presents can function. Still, it’s a completely different environment from “normal” D&D. Classes and abilities that give you a lot of powers to make you self-sufficient (Vow of Poverty?) are obviously going to be more powerful and desirable in a world where the alternative (magical items) are less available.

  56. DMCain says:

    Bleh. The d20 system is, quite simply, broken. I quit playing AD&D not long after they changed everything over to 3ed. I’ve moved on to a simpler game, Rolemaster, and helping a friend develope his own system.

    Wonderful strip here. We used to have a guy like that in our group, but he moved away.

  57. Wtrmute says:

    Now, now. Just because there is an “expected wealth per level” it doesn’t mean the players can look at the DMG like a Sears catalogue. They still have to go about finding the items for sale (or for construction, if they can find an archmage willing to do it for them), which can be difficult in and of itself.

    Particularly, in my campaigns the surest way to get a magic item exactly like you want is to make it yourself. In large cities it’s easy and comparatively cheap to hire a sage to net you the specifics for construction (spells and other requirements, etc.) and then it’s quite cheaper to hire out the spellcasters required to give you extra spells which your class doesn’t give you than to have them make it in the first place (you don’t pay for their XP).

    But regarding the AA, I’ve never been too fond of it. I guess it’s more of a question of flavour: I’ve never been able to visualise how it might work, flavour-wise, so its always been trumped by more “prestigious” PrCs.

    • WJS says:

      Flavour seems obvious to me; Elves are good at magic, and good archers, it’s simply bringing those two specialties together. I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s described in the books too.

  58. Zolarith says:

    Holy crap this sounds exactly like our groups residental ranger…

  59. jperk31260 says:

    I like Order of the Bow Mixed with Archane Archer. The Feats balance each other and the saving throws are pretty balanced too. My GM let me have multi prestige classes.

  60. Shamus says:

    I just want to stress that there is no wrong way to play this game, provided everyone is having fun. Just so we can move away from this “you’re doing it wrong” vibe I see once in a while.

  61. Zack says:

    Jeff – you stated that the rules break down when you do not follow the basics assumptions of character wealth. This is not true. Most groups I play with divide the wealth list by 2 or 4. In my own campaign I went up to half the advised wealth and it was just grotesque amounts of magic floating around essentially breaking the campaign.

    Many of my campaign groups also give much less experience since we found that characters would in under a year of adventuring reach mid to high teen levels and have hundreds of thousands of gold in equipment. This seemed extreme from a world balance standpoint.

    Even with halved xp and quartered loot my campaign only took 2.5 years to reach 20th level.

    The Dnd economy is very artificial. Since you kill 14 people of equal level to advance and you get their stuff you have exponential growth in wealth. You also have the issue that a 3rd level adventurer has wealth greater than than most towns.

    Even with NPCs having a quarter of your wealth you still have a system of exponential growth of wealth. Some of this is supposed to be lost in the form of “consumables” (potions, wands, etc), yet every group I have been minimizes consumables and uses sustainable goods and thus does not lose money near the rate predicted.

    It is fun to play in an occasional magic rich campaign, but my experience is that they implode in about a year or two. Meanwhile my friend’s slow advancement campaign has lasted two decades. The players need rewards, but all rewards do not need to be money and magic. Often information, personal development, and fame work just as well as rewards.


  62. Zack says:

    Just a further note on my last comment. Playing by the book can be quite fun. It makes assembling groups very easy, but the base rules do not meet support many types of campaigns without modification. (realistic, historic, gritty, and low magic to name a few styles)

    Just because the game designers optimized for a high magic campaign does not mean the rules can’t meet other needs. Most my GMs spent more time balancing campaign economy than the Dnd designers seem to have spent. It is all a matter of how much work the GM wants to put into the game and whether the change is important enough to the campaign to justify the work. Since several GMs know one another we have been able to share ideas and get a better balanced economy for our style of play.

    DISCLAMER: I personally use GURPS because I felt Dnd has become too much of a tactical war game. (I ran a 3.0/3.5 campaign that reaches 20th level and it really burnt me out. I want a MUCH lower powered + less tactical campaign next time.) But I still have a lot of gaming experience in traditional Dnd worlds.

    If you are able to play by the book, that is great. it is a lot less work if that is the style your group wants and that means you get to concentrate on the fun bits more. But some players I enjoy playing with will do things like exploit the difference in values of items between small towns and larger ones to generate income, etc. Exploit teleport to instantly fulfill demand in a market and save on transport costs, etc. With these types of players you need a lot more economic detail.


  63. Woerlan says:

    I just realized: This must be why Legolas didn’t have an “Arrow of Olympic Torch-Bearer Uruk-hai Slaying” later in the battle.

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