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DM of the Rings LXXX:
Strange Bedfellows

By Shamus
on Monday Mar 26, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


The Elves arrive at Helms Deep
Aragorn calls Haldir a spy.
Legolas and Gimli comment.

Comments (138)

1 2

  1. Browncoat says:

    Seems like every new episode there’s someone who tells you that it’s the new best.

    This. Is. The. New. Best.

    I figuratively bust a gut laughing so hard.

    Thank you, thank you.

  2. Richardmaz says:

    Lol great comic keep it up

  3. adam. says:

    all elves are ladies. seems that way in the PHB.


  4. Mr. Blue says:

    Gotta love Aragon stairing at Haldir’s chest… “There once was an allianc… HEY! My eyes are up here!”

  5. Rico says:

    I think I have a hernia from laughing. Thanks for bringin’ the funny– I mean, “ouch”.

  6. scldragonfish says:

    Shame shame Shamus THE Great!

    I don’t care if it is redundant because its been done already.


    some blondie elf to give Aragon a swift kick! LOL!

  7. Woerlan says:


    And profoundly disturbing. Someone’s got a prettyboy elf fetish.

  8. Corwin says:

    It’s so nice to see Aragorn getting into the role-playing, though.

  9. Proteus says:

    GIMLI: “The thing is, Aragorn thought your Elf was a lady.”

    LEGOLAS: “I can understand that!”

  10. Scarlet Knight says:

    You know, for someone who’s always concerned with sex, ya’ figga’ Aragorn would know by now how to tell the difference between women & elves. Maybe that’s why artists always have women in chain mail bikinis, just so players like Aragorn won’t get confused ( Bikini = babe. Covered = guy)

  11. Woerlan says:

    Bikini = babe. Covered = guy

    While it’s a generalization, that’s an unfortunate truth. You’ll have to remember that a majority of RPG fandom is male. And sex sells. Female personas have to look good to be memorable. The chainmail bikini helps.

    Generally, female fantasy costumes of that nature have no true function. They don’t protect against the elements. It’s not comfortable – scale and chainmail can pinch the skin and snag hair unless there’s cloth padding (or the female shaves certain… areas). They provide no armor value whatsoever (exposed thighs and abdomens being a favorite theme for females).

    It’s there to make the male gawk and go “Yep. That’s a babe.”

    Despite my preachings of course, I am a guy, and while I believe that such attire is non-functional, I will also be the first to admit that it IS nice to look at.

  12. Matt says:

    “Maybe that's why artists always have women in chain mail bikinis, just so players like Aragorn won't get confused ( Bikini = babe. Covered = guy)”

    No.. I think that the artists probably have their own reasons for drawing all the women that way

  13. Telas says:

    Player Character: An imaginary creation which thinks the world revolves around it, when in fact the world really revolves around the DM’s storyline. Brings about as much harmony to the table as an air horn brings to a symphony.


  14. Jadawin says:


    Great comic, tho.

  15. Mysti says:

    As a female gamer….

    Well, I liked the look of the chainmail bikini…I’ve usually used a variantion thereof, like a druid being in a hide bikini, or a rogue in a leather catsuit. So it’s not just the guys who propagate the stereotype, I mean look at Xena, am I the only one who watched that show and saw that the more Gabrielle became a hero, the less clothes she was wearing? Until she was wearing less than Xena? So yeah…just my 2 cents, and on a side note….Can I have your baby Seamus?! You rock!

  16. Stiehle says:

    The look of open lust in Aragorn’s eyes is truly disturbing… I’m never going to watch those movies in the same way.

    Thanks, Shamus! :)

  17. Jimmy says:

    Sixth panel: should be “ourselves,” not “outselves.” Unless Aragorn is making a Freudian slip — that’s some multi-layered humor.

    Great strip.

  18. Namfoodle says:

    Chainmail bikinis can’t be that bad, there’s no shortage of real girls that wear them to SCA events and Conventions. But I don’t think they’re wearing them to turn aside sword cuts. Just the opposite, in some cases…

  19. Nogard_Codesmith says:


    Oh man thats funny! I missed the first half of the comments from laughing so long.

  20. George says:


    good stuff man, keep it up

  21. falkryn says:

    blackjack! i mean great strip today… lol have a shot of arigorn huggin his “babe” later…good times

  22. Steve says:

    Ah, we see Aragormless’s Keen Ranger Senses(TM) at work again.


  23. Breklor says:

    Clearly Aragorn’s player has been in too many classic Gary Gygax modules, where the appearance of a buxom blonde was invariably followed by the party’s gruesome demise – whether the blonde herself was a succubus, rakshasa, doppelganger or other shapeshifter, or just an agent of evil determined to betray the party at her earliest opportunity.

    Perhaps being an English major, a shoe salesman and a hardcore grognard didn’t earn Gary a lot of popularity with the ladies, and he was a tad bitter?

  24. Steve says:

    Comments about making Helms Deep-style scenery out of Lego gave me the germ of an idea for DMotR. Have the story at some point in an elaborate set (I would say Gondor but the only PC who gets to go there before the wheels come off has already left to play either Star Wars or Mech Warrior) roughly transition from in-story scenery to DVD-extra “behind the scenes” footage of the same thing under construction. When the players do a “What the Heck?”, have the DM explain that they have to use some imagination, there being only so much that can be achieved with Lego, egg-cartons and stacks of unused dice. Then transition back into the film footage for the sarcastic punchlines.


    PS I was at I-Con over the weekend and picked up some new dice. Feeling I hadn’t been entirely fair, I swallowed deeply and added an orange D20 to the collection.

    It is still the most hideous thing I have seen in lo these many years, and nowhere near as clear to read as the white, yellow or blue D20’s I bought at the same time.

  25. Scarlet Knight says:

    Yeah , yeah, but does it roll high, Steve?

  26. Scarlet Knight says:

    Despite all the chain mail bikinis seen at the Ren Faire & in spite of all my encouragement (ie pleading), my wife still won’t wear one…unless (she claims) I develop the body that allows me to wear the barbarian loin-cloth…

  27. ladyalinor says:

    As someone who once wore a chainmail minidress to a Con let me also add that it’s freaking cold!

    Woerlan Says: scale and chainmail can pinch the skin and snag hair unless there's cloth padding

  28. Watch the slash fans go WILD at this one. :)

    Excellent work, Shamus, as always. I love this strip!


  29. Thad says:

    Panels 6 and 7… priceless!

  30. Rain says:

    Re to Mysti:
    one, The less you were, the lees you are gonna be hit.
    Thus, the chainmail bikini.
    Two, Muchken(sp) Was a vary good Game.
    I know i cant spell, That Good old retatard(sp) classes for you
    Rain Out!

  31. Blindeye says:

    Just when I thought the ‘Aragorn thinks pretty boy elves are girls’ running gag had run out of steam, this comic appears and totally rekindles how hilarious it is.
    I love it!

    Also, I’m reminded of a bard NPC that I tried very hard to make look and act “dashing”. He had stylish clothes, a big hat with a feather, a lute, goatee and spoke as poetically as possible.

    … Everyone in my game called him a fag for as long as he was there. -_-;

  32. wintersweet says:

    Blindeye, sounds like you needed a more mature gaming group. *eyeroll*

    I love the look on Haldir in the speechless reaction panel.

  33. bwa-ha-ha!

    You’ve gotta admit that Haldir does look an awful lot like Jan Brady.

  34. AngiePen says:

    As another female gamer who played about half male and half female characters, my females always wore armor — real armor — thanks very much. [eyeroll] And the young women who wear chainmail bikinis or whatever to cons and Faire and SCA events aren’t expecting to fight in it; it has quite a different purpose.

    These are the same kinds of women who take their lives in their hands dancing in four inch spike heels because they attract guys. They’re the same kinds of women who corsetted themselves down to 15 inches in the 19th century, or had their floating ribs surgically removed in the very early 20th (back when anesthetics sucked, remember, and surgical patients still had a decent chance of dying of infection). You’ll always find a minority who are willing to put up with pain, discomfort and even mutilation for the sake of being “attractive.” But let’s not pretend it’s at all functional, or that anything close to all women are interested in that sort of thing.


  35. Vegedus says:

    That DM seriously need to call out “a force of MALE elves!”.

  36. Da Rogue says:

    Aragorn is on the right track, only Haldir isn’t there to destroy the enitire party… He’s there to distract Aragorn whilst I rob him blind and backstab him to death! Muahahahahahahahaha.

  37. Armagrodden says:

    The look Aragorn is giving Haldir in panel 9 is easily the most disturbing things about this comic.

    Outselves, indeed.

  38. Laurea says:

    I’ve been following this for a while, and I just wanted to speak up and say how utterly, utterly awesome it is. Especially this one, which is hysterical! I wonder if the DM will ever learn to specify gender in his character descriptions?

  39. Woerlan says:

    “I wonder if the DM will ever learn to specify gender in his character descriptions?”

    Probably not. The default gender in RPGs seems to be male. Unless stated otherwise, NPCs are male when brought to the player’s attention. Sometimes, the descriptor gives away the gender (ex. witch, sorceress, queen) but otherwise you tend to assume it’s male.

    With elves… well, you can never be too sure. Even when you think they’re male… they may be… not… male.


    Still trying to get Aragorn’s frozen expression out of my mind. When movement gets frozen into a single image like that, you start to lose context pf the original situation. Something Shamus seems to be a master of manipulating. ^_^

  40. Scarlet Knight says:

    “Generally, female fantasy costumes of that nature have no true function.”

    Au contraire! “Sonja tosses aside her cloak, revealing the mighty chain mail bikini, an item of wonderous enchantment. Her opponent gawks, fixated on the flimsy, yet oh so shiny garment; only then notices the hilt sticking out from his chest. His eyes bug out even farther, then cloud over…”

  41. Wraithshadow says:

    Just to blow my own horn a bit with regards to the whole chainmail bikini debate, I’d like to point out that there are some of us guys who do make a point of having female characters wear something practical. In City of Heroes (to jump genres) you have an entire category of costume options not available to men- all of them being variants on the standard outfit but showing lots of bare skin. There’s also three options for skirts- upper thigh, mid thigh, and schoolmarm (ankle-length with a petticoat underneath). I can quite proudly claim that my one female character there has foregone all the above in favor of heavy leathers, and while she does have high heels (the only option with the sort of boot I wanted) I’ve made it a point that she doesn’t actually walk on them- she specifically has a power to allow her to remain stable in the shoes, and glide along on a field of mystic energy.

    It’s also worth noting that I decided on this outfit after seeing a typical miniskirt-and-cutouts heroine get knocked flat while adventuring in the sewers. I figure it’s bad enough you have to wade through that stuff, getting it inside your costume is -not- an option.

  42. Unholy62 says:

    Hah, another awesome comic.

    I’d like to echo the poster above me. All my female characters (and I’m a guy) will always be fully dressed when adventuring. They might change for social gatherings, but work is work.

  43. Raved Thrad says:

    I just love the way the video / narration gets paused whenever the DM has to make a sanity check. LMAO — this strip never fails to make my morning.

  44. Stormfeather says:

    Hah, there’s a reason that the optional skill “elven gender identification” was such a long-running gag in our various campaigns…

    And in some cases I think even I needed it while watching LotRs, and probably failed a few checks. And I’m a girl with an eye for the pretty-boy elven type.

  45. Rolld20 says:

    “Probably not. The default gender in RPGs seems to be male. Unless stated otherwise, NPCs are male when brought to the player's attention.”

    Oh yeah, I remember bringing that to my husband/GM’s attention.
    “It’s too bad there are no women in your world.”
    “What?! There are plenty of women!”
    “Really? How many of the named NPCs we’ve met in the last 3 months were female?”
    “… There was that hag you fought…”
    After that, every 5th or 10th NPC was described with “Oh, and they’re FEMALE”. I always thanked him for making the effort. ;)

  46. Evilllama says:

    Wow. By the look on his face, I don’t think Haldir has ever been called a “smouldering temptress” before.

    Jolly brilliant, as always.

  47. davwalp says:

    Oh man this one is great! Every single shot of Aragorn is perfect…especially when he is checking out Haldir’s chest in panel 9. And right after he said he wouldn’t fall for ‘her’ she-devil charms too.

    I agree heartily with the post above. Shamus, you have truly mastered the art of the desperate pause when the players throw the DM off track.

    Long live DM of the Rings!

  48. Freefall says:

    I believe that only stupid people use those “revealing” clothing. Some people (girls) actually have brains. The stupid ones who do are as before mentioned, stupid. They have no point. If you were going to a DANGEROUS place, it would at least be a BIT smart to bring true armor. Many people won’t be distracted by that kind of thing anyways. You have to be practical. Also, there are many people who feel the same way as me.

  49. Anonymous Fan says:

    If any of you geeks want to read an academic paper on females in gaming, check out:

    There aren’t any pictures, but it does have this passage:

    Especially in medieval fantasy games, women in general have been depicted as either helpless and shapely, or sexy and shapely””distressed gentlewomen to be rescued or tavern wenches to be wenched with. Another common depiction of female characters, and perhaps the most disturbing to dedicated female gamers, is the warrior woman in a “chainmail bikini”””an under-dressed fighter who seems more intent on wielding her breasts and buttocks than her broadsword. Although the 3rd edition AD&D handbooks, as well as the current books of many other games, picture females more sensibly dressed and occupied in game-related activities, thirty years of subservience and cheesecake have left their mark on women's and men's perceptions of gaming and on male/female RPG interactions.

    PS-I’m a guy, and it’s hilarious strips like this that remind me why I stopped playing D&D.

  50. Patrick says:

    Wait a minute….. Someone wrote an “academic paper” on females in gaming?!?! What the F@*K was your major exactly in? And more importantly what the hell was your thesis?

    Biology 202, “Sociophobes and estrogen, it’s not just a man’s problem anymore.”

    Psychology Doctorate ” Female compatibility in the world of Nerds”

    Seriously…. who writes an academic paper on a tiny sub-culture within an even smaller sub–culture, that’s almost totally North American, and isn’t even that interesting to begin with?

    Most people find gaming boring nd pointless, I can’t imagine the apathy towards reading about ONLY it.

    sheeeesh…. maybe he couldn’t find a good game of gurps around…

  51. Patrick says:

    And on a semi-related note…. I for one, am a big supporter of women in chain mail skirts, leather skirts, plate mail bras…. and well… I guess I’m a fan of scantily clad women in general, style and materials be damned.

  52. VermontGal says:

    Note about chain mail bikinis: WEAR SUNSCREEN, don’t forget the lining (chafing, pinching, and other things happen in embarrassing areas) and be careful when it’s warm out…ouchies!

    Besides, as any true woman warrior in the SCA or other live-combat group can tell you, REAL women know what waffle-bruises are…!

  53. Yahzi says:

    “These are the same kinds of women who take their lives in their hands dancing in four inch spike heels because they attract guys.”

    Why do you think guys ride motorcycles?

    It’s the tail of the peacock… “My genes are so fit, I can act like an idiot and still survive!”


  54. Selki says:

    Oh, wow. For the win. Standalone, this strip is great — I would so love someone to show the Aragorn actor panels 6 & 7 — but coming after previous strips (not only Legolass, but also how “yellow-haired and fair” is of COURSE all the Aragorn-player needs to hear to think it’s a woman. As in
    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=951 (“Overly Requited Love”)

  55. Jeff says:

    I wonder how many of the authors of the vehement anti-chainmail bikini posts would be equally disparaging of the loin-cloth and capes the Spartans in 300 wore? (As opposed to their nice shiny almost Iron-age armor.)

  56. Thenodrin says:

    I think that the reason most NPCs are male is because most GMs and game designers are male.

    When I design a character, I always remember a question that Chris Claremont used to pose to himself.

    “Why isn’t (the character) a woman?”


  57. tigerdreams says:

    Those last two panels with Gimli and Legolas were perfect–they were what made this comic for me.

    “I’m just glad he’s picking on someone else for a change.” I laughed out loud. The facial expressions are perfect.

  58. sexyskank says:

    omg the WTF look on theoden’s face in panel 8 is priceless!! u rock!

  59. Da Penguin says:

    This is also one of my favourites, well done Shamus..

  60. Phil says:

    Chainmail bikini, ring of warmth, bracers of armour.

    Just because she’s pretty doesn’t mean she has to be stupid!

  61. Jeff says:

    Heh, now that’s a nifty trick.

    “Here’s my character portrait.”
    “She’s got bracers of armor and a ring of warmth. She’s a wizard.”

    I’m not so much defending the image as deriding the criticism itself, which is extremely one-sided. In fact, you might say it’s sexist.
    There’s also the image of the hulking barbarian with the fur loin cloth in a tundra, but few people seem to complain about that, ignoring the fact that in reality they had layers of skins and decent armor, in favour of oiled pecs and eight-packs. I think it’s because the guys don’t mind – it’s “macho”.

  62. dillochan says:

    As a woman who wear chainmail bikinis allow me to add a few points.

    1) my top is NOT lined and doesn’t need to be, the weave is thick and tight so no seeing through and no pinchin because it’s woven in a pyramid shape and so folds away from the skin.

    2) It’s aluminum so it doesn’t get hot or cold, it stays at body temp. (It is a bit chilly first thing in the morning, though)

    3) I don’t do it because I’m, “These are the same kinds of women who take their lives in their hands dancing in four inch spike heels because they attract guys. They're the same kinds of women who corsetted themselves down to 15 inches in the 19th century, or had their floating ribs surgically removed in the very early 20th (back when anesthetics sucked, remember, and surgical patients still had a decent chance of dying of infection). You'll always find a minority who are willing to put up with pain, discomfort and even mutilation for the sake of being “attractive.”” I do it because I actually like my body and don’t always feel a need to hide to hide it. I eat well, work hard, and hate high heels. If I could get away with it I’d wear it more often, not less. It’s comfy, frankly.

    4)I was already engaged when I started to wear the chainmail, and am now married and still like the mail.

    5) It has no armor value at all. Which is why none of my characters would ever wear it in game.

    Just some thoughts.

  63. Jeff says:

    dillochan brings up a point I’d been avoiding vocalizing, as I’m a guy…

    If you’ve got it, flaunt it. My friends and I regularly hit the gym – I’ve yet to see a guy who’s got the body avoid wearing tight clothing. My other group of friends (all overweight, some grossly) all tend to wear loose t-shirts and the like, while my gym friends enjoy showing off their six-packs. (Personally I’m not over weight but I don’t have abs, so I wear tight shirts but won’t take’em off…)

    Now, keeping in mind we’re not really dealing with /practicality/ here, as I doubt anyone thinks a chain mail bikini is protective, but if it was possible, my friends probably would wander about in loin-clothes at ren faires carrying big ass weapons – ’cause they CAN, and they know they look good doing so. And I’ve always assumed that about the people who dress up, be it chain mail bikinis or 6 inch heels – they do it because they can carry it off.

    I confess, when people complain, I tend to become very curious as to their own build.

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