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DM of the Rings LXXXI:
Let’s Get Rolling

By Shamus
on Wednesday Mar 28, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


Gimli has nothing to do.

Sometimes initiative is a little odd.

Comments (173)

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  1. Blindeye says:

    NWN is a great adaptation of DnD, but it’s hardly something you should reference or rely upon to give advice for the pen-and-paper game. You should totally try it, at least to see what the game was based on.

  2. Talitha says:

    Jeff: You do when you turn on the D20 hardcore rules at the options screen. I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m seeing when I’m watching the ‘dice’ rolls. It’s true that AoO don’t apply against the player in the normal difficulty setting, though.

    NWN1 is (unfortunately) my only experience of D&D play. I’ve never had the opportunity to play a game with actual other people.

  3. Hotaru says:

    eh… my source of D&D left after my first game (buddy with the dice and rule books moved -___-)… so NWN1 is also my only source at the moment… and ya talitha is right on the difficulty setting thingy… Harcore D&D rules in NWN pretty much makes it pen and paper ish… if i remember right if you die in the hardcore you have to reroll your character (or reload a save point)

  4. PK says:

    As far as the question of Gimli wading through the orcs by himself, all you have to do is treat the orcs like a swarm or a mob (DMG2). Suddenly when ever he is “engulfed” by them he takes constant damage.

    It is the perfect way of making your 14th level PCs actually afraid of a mob of villagers with their torches and pitchforks.

    By the way, love the strip. Wonderful.

  5. I abhor the idea that the Royal Retreat of Rohan is a haven for CANNIBALISM!

    We all know that’s much more common in the realm of Gondor…

    Perhaps I can suggest a recipe for horse?

    Monty Paraphrase, not yet banned!

  6. RollD20 says:

    Well, you know, just because Gimli’s a straight fighter doesn’t mean combat is his only option. There’s *lots* of things he could do.
    Use Indimidate to scare off the army.
    Bluff check to convince the orcs they’re at the wrong stronghold.
    Knowledge check to see if he knows the uruk-hais’ weaknesses.

    Yep, lots of possibilities. Just heaps.

    (Ok, ready for the next comic, Mr. Shamus, sir…)

  7. Roger says:


    Bluff check is a great idea.
    “Um excuse me are you looking for the Rohirrim? No no you have the wrong place. This is a fortress, no horsemen here. You want the stables the next valley over. Large white tower, cant miss it. Thank you, good luck, off you go then”

  8. Susano says:

    “I remember reading that when they animated this battle, it was impossible for them to manually animate all the orcs, so they wrote an AI to take care of it. Problem was, the orcs kept routing. At a certain point the AI started screaming “Run away! Run away!” They had to change the AI algorithm to prevent that so that the orcs would stay and let themselves be slaughtered.”

    Incorrect. The AI told a figure to charge the enemy and engage. If there was no enemy in sight, then the AI had the figures move until they found the enemy. The problem was, the AI didn’t/couldn’t account for logic “we know the enemy is over there” or unit communication “we have met the enemy! follow me!” So… you’d fire up the AI and certain units who couldn’t see the enemy would run off looking for someone to fight… and go in the wrong direction.

  9. Steve says:

    damien walder Says:
    I abhor the idea that the Royal Retreat of Rohan is a haven for CANNIBALISM!

    Keep yer quiver on. Elves != Humans and != Dwarves. The only one who can’t eat without guilt is Legoless. Seres him right.


  10. Aaronium says:

    Found DMotR this week, thanks for great bunches of LOLs Shamus!
    All caught up and now bummed I have to wait.


    “What? They’re here about a Ring?”

    *snicker* “I told them, ‘We already got one!'”

  11. vonKreedon says:

    Seriously, Let’s Get Rolling, I’m jonesing hard for a new strip!

  12. RollD20 says:

    Hey vonK, keep your hard j*hnson to yourself! :O


  13. sleepyfoo says:

    Indeed, in statistics, when dealing with n approaching infinity (10,000 being close enough) attempts at something independant with set probability, ie. “balanced” (read: legal/unweighted) d20, will net you data with a distribution approximately equal to that of the original percentage.

    That said, for most statistics, 10,000 is way, way too many attempts, at 100 you should be able to see the numbers showing up in appropriate proportions, and if by 1000 you aren’t, then something is wrong with your die.
    Also 5% of 10000 is 500.

  14. Valley says:

    Hello. First time poster, long time reader.

    Having played AD&D on so long ago in college I find this webcomic brings back memories. Mostly of forgetting the characters’ names, debating who goes down the dark, smelly tunnel first, and, of course, shopping.

    What I am looking forward to is when the battle is over and they all go to Orthanc only to find the two Hobbits, Merry and Pippin, have destroyed it, taken all the XP and are looting the place.

  15. Osvaldo Mandias says:


  16. George says:

    wher is todays post?

  17. Cheryl says:

    [64] Gbyron : In English, one term, possibly the term, for the law you cite is “Regression to the Mean.” In this case “mean” in the sense of average. That is, with more instances or events, once the number of events gets large enough, the % of a particular outcome should move toward and settle on the probability of that outcome for each event.

  18. Tola says:

    “Um excuse me are you looking for the Rohirrim? No no you have the wrong place. This is a fortress, no horsemen here. You want the stables the next valley over. Large white tower, cant miss it. Thank you, good luck, off you go then”

    Send them to GONDOR? You’re cruel, man.

  19. Natdaprat says:

    Really nice comic so far pal, I look forward to the rest. It’s ashame that we’re only following one side of the story, and not Frogo’s and Sam’s – That would be a little odd with the game at hand.

  20. Blindeye says:

    I wonder if Frodo and Sam will ask to come back into the game once they’ve had their fun with Star Wars.

    Or maybe it’ll be like “We must put our faith into Frodo” and then the DM’s like “Mordor explodes! Frodo must have destroyed the ring!”

    Players: “Yay… I’ll go call his player up and tell him ‘thanks for saving the world’ even though he’s not even playing anymore. That’s like, Epic killstealing right there”

  21. Jim says:

    This is for george up in #10, who was saying something about spelling errors. Its a good thing your forgiving. What was that you said you played again? A socerer? What kind stuff do they do?

    Shamus! This is one of the funniest things i’ve seen in years. I can identify most of my gaming group! Sad really.

  22. Salen says:

    Funny. What gets me about the Helm’s Deep fight is the lack of Fireballs from wizards and Healing spells from clerics though. Its like the players have no clue how to cast spells or roll for saving throws against them. Uh… no, wait… thats just my gaming party. Nevermind.

    Seriously though, a few meteor swarms would have been great to soften up the enemy forces.

  23. Shade says:


  24. Phobos says:

    I think the other players will be fed up because Dave(Frodo) is a lousy DM for Star Wars, and the Hobbits all come back, the lack of skill turning Dave into the little whiner Frodo was

  25. Jeff says:


    Err, no. Don’t use NWN on Hardcore as a basis to debate my nitpicking, m’kay? I’d think my previous nitpicking should have established my grasp of the rules.

    You never provoke an AoO when approaching a threatened square – ONLY when LEAVING a threatened square.

    So a long spear with a ten foot reach, if the enemy runs up next to you, thus entering and then leaving the threatened square, will provoke an AoO. If you have a longsword, no AoO, unless he enters that 5ft radius you threaten, and then for some reason move again, thus leaving a square. If you both have long spears and he just steps into reach (both his and yours), no AoO.

    So, to repeat myself…

    You don't get AoOs from someone approaching you

  26. TX Knight says:

    Lol! Another good one. I can’t count how many times I’ve won initiative but had to hold my action and just twiddle my thumbs!

  27. Lev Lafayette says:

    OK, late post (I’m catching up with a backlog that’s months old).

    But damn, “you won initiative” made me roar with laughter.

  28. Goth'k Graf'x says:

    Tears. Tears! Okay, this is a GREAT strip. It’s funny every time. But this is THE funniest one yet. Oh my god, my face hurts (and not just those around me).

  29. George says:

    I gotta say, I was hoping for a joke about all the elves with bows waiting around for the orcs to get to the base of the walls before starting to kill them, rather than mowing them down from a couple hundred yards. Maybe it’s just too stupid to be funny.

  30. Hydro Globus says:

    … And time still didn’t allow… (see post #1)

    Great one, anyway

  31. Cynder says:

    GIMLI: Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries! I fart in your general direction! *rasperry noises*

    Now Gimli knows how those hobbits felt in one of the erlier posts (the one with the Nazgul at Weathertop)
    Looks like he’s gunna need a stepladder to stem ’em in the knees. Tut tut tut.

    My friend’s joke: What noise does a dwarf make when he falls off a cliff (or in this case, jumps off a wall into a crowd of orcs and fails to flatten any of them)?
    ANSWER: “Ooomff!”

    Sorry, I found that somewhat hilarious when I first heard that *sheepish*

    BTW, you still havn’t fixed the typo in the second frame – ‘melee’, not ‘meele’.

  32. Cynder says:

    There are now 96 comments. My server weeps for mercy.

    Need – to – resist – spam…

  33. Cynder says:

    Must – refrain – from – making – 100 – posts…

  34. Cynder says:

    Gaaahhh! Tempation too strong!! Must spam!! :O

    lol i forgot to put in the number – “Please enter the anti-spam word.” Not stopping me from spamming!! :D

  35. Cynder says:

    Woooo! 100 comments!!

    Lovely spaaam, wonderful spaaaaaammm…spam spam spam….

    Ok, I’m satisfied now. Carry on. ;)

  36. Lance says:

    HAHAHAHA failed…

  37. Majka says:

    Lauging my ass off! This is bloody hilarious!

  38. Rhi says:

    Love it! The whole thing is so Gimli and so amusing – yet another Conspiracy of the Dice – where the people who can do precisely nothing get to act before anyone who actually can do something at that point.

  39. Robin says:

    Yes, you won’t always get exactly 500 natural 20s out of 10,000, but:
    90% of the time, you’ll get at least 473.
    99% of the time, you’ll get at least 450.
    99.9% of the time, you’ll get at least 433.
    99.99% of the time, you’ll get at least 419.
    99.999% of the time, you’ll get at least 408.
    99.9999% of the time, you’ll get at least 397.
    99.99999% of the time, you’ll get at least 387.

    So the chances of getting less than 387 natural 20s is about the same as the chance of rolling a character with 6 natural 18s in a row. All the orcs aren’t going to miss.

    The probability that no orc rolls a natural twenty is 1.7*10E-223 (less than 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

    (What *do* they teach them in these schools?)

  40. Sam-Chan says:


    I just wanted to add, that you can “save your initiative” for later in one beat. so, when gimli is first and can’t do anything, he just saves his initiative to e.g. the end of the beat – maybe he can think of something to do until than!

    I have to admit sometimes your comics remind me of myself. i easily forget names of npc’s or towns – but no ones ever gets mad at me. maybe because I’m a the female player?


  41. d'Antarel says:

    In reference to quoting, again…I’m sure you’re sick of it by now. I suppose I can say that I am lucky enough to have a group of people eloquent enough to quote even Lord of the Rings at some of our campaigns. Roleplaying with Dwarves in particular allows for this. The obvious quote: “Shall I describe it to you, or would you like me to find you a box?”

  42. teri says:

    i guess you never found the time to fix the errors? :-( But then, i never would have noticed them if your first post hadn’t said something about them. lol

  43. Clinto says:

    Initiative is useless. It’s an outdated concept that has no place at all in the modern game. Who ever attacks first simply attacks first; there’s no taking turns in combat! lol

  44. Thepocalypse says:

    I’m a total roleplaying newbie. I played a rudimentary “storytelling game” in my school days and now I’m off to purchase the D&D Basic Game as my first foray into real roleplaying games. I want to thank you Shamus, DM of the Rings is what inspired me to start playing RPGs. I hope you make a “The DM Hobbit” comic of sorts when the new films are released. Thanks!

  45. silver Harloe says:

    > I abhor the idea that the Royal Retreat of Rohan is a haven for CANNIBALISM!

    There is NO cannibalism in the Royal Retreat of Rohan.

    …and when we say “none” we mean there is a certain amount “” more than we are prepared to admit.

  46. R Keene says:

    Ok, I’m here at work and just dying laughing while reading this. Back to work!

  47. Louis says:

    Still didn’t fix the typo. :D

  48. Maklak says:


    To calculate how many arrows will hit a target with what propability use binormal distribution. Number of orks N is 10k. Probability of hit may vary depending on distance, skill, PC’s AC and so on, but if they only hit on 20s use p=0.05. This gives a mean of 500 and variance of 475.

    “Heroes of battle” has a rule for this too. It goes something like Orks have to hit AC 15 to taret PC. PC can make a reflex save DC 15 to halve damage. He is hit by 1/5 arrows, 2k in this examlpe. Uncanny Dodge would allow for an exploit here ofc.

    Either way PC hit by hundreds of arrows is dead anyway.

  49. Toaadam says:

    Yeah! I’m one of the 2010 people! This is my first time reading this, awesome and funny comic!

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  51. Luigifan says:

    See, this is what the delay and ready actions are for.

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