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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)

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  1. Old Geezer says:

    Crud, I wish it was only one.

    I have one who blathers like that non-stop.

  2. Jeff says:


    This brings up a very interesting question from me.

    Exactly does a party with half-wealth survive against the higher CR monsters?

    Now, by wealth rules, no more than half should be in any one item.

    So at level 3 (2700), nobody has a +1 weapon, and at level 4 (5400) they can afford one.

    A CR4 Barghest has DR5/magic, and a CR5 Barghest has DR10/magic.
    CR3 mephits all have DR5/magic AND fast healing (though are weak versus spells).

    Quite simply, the higher level you get, the more effects are needed simply to break through DR.

    Demons being an example, where from CR2 you already have DR /Cold Iron and/or Good.

    A +1 Holy Cold Iron weapon is 20000gp, which means (normally) it’s in a party’s hands at level 10. Just as well, as the CR10 Bebilith has DR10/good, and the CR9 Vrock also has DR10/good.

    Keeping at half wealth, though, you’d need to be level 12 before picking up a +3 weapon equivalent weapon. And this is just looking purely at breaking DR.

    So how did your party do it?

    More than once I had a friend comment to me that his DM was surprised at a near TPK (one or two survivors from a party of six or so?) from a CR12 against a party of level 12s. Neither the friend nor I was surprised at all – as I recall the best weapon in the party was a +2, with maybe one or two +1s.

    The only way I could see it working is if you keep a very close eye on what you’re throwing at the party, as a CR8 skeleton (Young Adult Red Dragon) is still just a big skeleton.

  3. Thenodrin says:

    The CR system does break down in some settings. But, the breaking point isn’t whether or not the campaign uses the DMG charts as a shopping list.

    While some people think that the game assumes the “purchase” of magic items; it has been my experience that so long as the party has made use of some of the magic Craft feats, it still works as intended.

    It has long been my observation that the CR system breaks down when the DM or event editor doesn’t take into account situational modifiers.


  4. Thenodrin says:


    The Power Attack feat in the design of any class with constant BAB progression will always get through the DR of an appropriate CR enemy.

    Also, never underestimate the importance of a balanced party. A well used Greater Magic Weapon spell negates a campaign’s need to provide progressively more powerful magic weapons.

    In your CR5 barghest example, if we assume a balanced 4 person party of 3rd level PCs the following scenario is not unreasonable:

    First round: Rogue wins initiative, moves around the flat footed enemy to flank. Mage casts Bull’s Strength on the fighter. Cleric casts Magic Weapon on the rogue’s weapon. Fighter uses Power Attack, bringing his attack down from +11 (+5 str, +1 weapon focus, +2 flank, +3 BAB) to +8. Fighter hits 45% of the time. Damage from a long sword would be 1d8+12. After considering the DR, that is still 1d8+2. The fighter is just as likely to get hit for 1d8+5.

    From this point, the cleric’s job is to keep the fighter healed. The rogue doesn’t hit often, but when he does the entire weapon damage +2d6 sneak attack goes through due to the magic weapon spell. If the barghest uses his own Bull’s Strength spell-like ability, the mage can use Ray of Enfeeblement to counteract it. Also, spells like Spiritual Weapon, Melf’s Acid Arrow, Scorching Ray, Magic Missile, etc. will directly damage the Barghest. The big challenge will be keeping the fighter alive.

    It only has 67 hit points. If it lasts 4 rounds against a balanced 3rd level party, I’d be surprised.


  5. hdcanis says:

    Ok, starting to read this one I expected 300 joke. And I still wonder if you will be doing that “skateboarding” Legolas soon, as that would be pretty obvious joke…after all, you avoided the fact that in the movie Lothlorien (especially inhabitants) reminded me of a gay disco.

  6. Jeff says:

    A few critiques…Magic Weapon is a touch spell, so the rogue isn’t in position. And most wizards don’t pack buffs – it’s the cleric’s job (because a wizard should not carry non-essential situational spells, as if it turns out to be unneeded, the cleric can always turn it into a cure). However, both Magic Weapon and Bull’s Strength have minute durations, so it’s reasonable to have them up.
    How did you get 1d8+12? +5 from str, +3 power attack (or +6 if two hands) means 1d8+8 or 1d8+11. Minor math error.
    Hm, fighter has at most a 20 AC (+7/+8 via armor&dex, +2 shield) but doesn’t as he’s using a longsword with two hands to go through DR, so 18 (a minimum of +3 from dex is needed, otherwise 17. That’s two 16s in the stats. Note that the level 3 can’t afford full plate.) So the CR5 Greater Barghest has the edge in terms of hitting, needing a 5 (or 4) or higher to hit, so 80% chance (or 85%). Dealing 1d8+5.
    With a +8 to attack, assuming the Barghest doesn’t escape flank, the fighter needs a 12 or higher to hit (AC20). That’s 55% chance to hit.
    However, in order to maintain flank, the Barghest will be able to full attack the fighter, for another two attacks. The Barghest has the same chance as the fighter of hitting the opponent with these (attack mod 8, so 55%) Dealing 1d6+2. A Barghest has an Int of 18. Odds are, it’ll use blink, a spell-like. With a concentration or 15 and combat casting, it can easily cast it defensively (+19 mod against a DC18 for Blink, and there are no critical failures with concentration), and it can keep trying if it likes. When blinked, he has +2 to hit, meaning he now has a 90% and 65% chance of connecting with his weapons. All attacks against him now have a 50% miss rate, and his attacks have a 20% miss rate.

    The probability, already stacked against the fighter, got worse. As a CR5 Greater Barghest, he can also make himself invisible, but that’s not as important. What he can do however is dimension door next to the level 3 arcane caster, who will be in serious trouble (Barghest has a 40ft move speed. If he appears directly next to the caster, the caster’s Withdraw only takes him 60ft, well within charge range. The wizard is probably going to die.)

    Further, the Barghest has 18 int. It’s not going to go for the fighter, even if it somehow decides against attacking the mage. He’ll go for the lighter armored, lower health rogue with his dangerous sneak attack.

    Further, he can enlarge himself, giving himself reach.

    The most likely sequence of events is, assuming all parties are surprised and neither is pre-buffed, following your sequence of events (we’ll assume the cleric goes /before/ the rogue and gets magic weapon off) after the initial single strike of rogue and fighter (for negligible damage), he dimension doors next to the wizard and proceeds to focus on chasing him down. Once the level 3 wizard inevitably dies, he enlarges himself so as to gain reach. He can blink if he ever feels seriously threatened. The cleric should probably be tossing protection from evils at the surviving members.

    The Barghest will then go for either the rogue or the cleric, leaving the fighter for last. Unless the party gets extremely lucky, I’d be very surprised if they manage to defeat the Greater Barghest in four rounds, and somewhat surprised they manage to beat him at all.

  7. Jeff says:

    (Keep in mind that this is a CR5 critter against a level 3 party. A level 3 party facing two CR3s, resulting in an EL5, probably has a higher chance of survival.)

  8. Vesper says:

    One of the funniest moments ever in my D&D experience was during my friend Dan’s campaign. This guy Randy (who has no business playing D&D at all) was talking to this other guy Paul about Paul’s feats during a battle. So some epic stuff goes down where the main villan is about to kill this uber powerful NPC guy as he’s making this speech. Dan is standing up, acting it out, reading the script off his laptob, sweat running down his brow, the whole nine yards. Right in the middle of the speech, Randy yells out, making sure to talk over Dan so he could be heard; “What about your feats Paul!?” I still laugh when I think about it.

  9. Nick says:

    it’s like watching the symphony do that slow tense crescendo… then all of the strings simultaneously stand up and start dancing to daft punk.

  10. Vayne Nomin says:

    hahaha this one kills me. I had to comment on it, so many times this happens. Of course there was the day I cut in half a folding table with a chainsaw to um, get everyones attention during a session that was getting out of hand. Yes, a real chainsaw. No animals were harmed during the session, I swear.

  11. Cynder says:

    being an archer in real life myself, I understand Legolas’s excitemen. Also, being an equestrian, I understood Aragorn’s wishes to fall off the warg in that chapter. Anyway, my point is that…Lagolas is an annoying munchikin. Very funny!

    …no, that wasn’t my point.I didn’t even have one to begin with.

    *awkward silence*


  12. Filcha says:

    I am sorry, I don’t know which is funnier – the strip or the comments!

  13. d'Antarel says:

    At least you don’t have someone in your campaign who only searches the rulebooks for rulings on modern day weaponry (i.e. guns).

  14. Andrew Jensen says:

    Same exact thing happened to me, but with the assassin class. The player forced me to create a new quest(including a new city, and a large amount added to the plot) just so he could be an assassin.

  15. Serenity Bane says:

    True story from my D&D group lol xD :

    DM- “In the dark room before you, 4 groups of orcs lay sleeping upon a cold stone floor. Their club-like weapons of rock and wood lay piled in the far-right corner of the room beside what looks like two poorly-crafted ladders. As Rayce steps out from behind the tapestry, a pole falls with a loud clang!”
    Player 1- “Oh you fool, Rayce! I knew you shouldn’t have gone in first! I’m the rogue, after all!”
    Me- “Too late to argue now! Look, ready yourselves! They are waking up!”
    Player 2- “Omg, I forgot to add a feat for my sorcerer that I could have used last encounter, and it is so sweet! Let me put it in my list after I grab a brownie.”
    Everyone but player 2- “…”
    Player 2- “What?”

  16. Phantom Dennis says:

    Writing this from the future, we now are in the era of the Nook, the Kindle, the IPad, and the smartphone. Meaning pretty soon players will be able to download full Manuals to their smartphones. Won’t that be fun? :)

  17. Daniel B says:

    I love this strip. For once, the DM’s longwinded speech bubbles don’t have something else superimposed, everyone finally likes his dramatic prose and cares about the atmosphere of the story – and then one idiot ruins it! Brilliance.

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