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DM of the Rings LXXXIX:
Killing Time

By Shamus
on Wednesday Apr 18, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


Aragorn is bored with the battle.

Comments (130)

1 2

  1. Richardmaz says:

    how sad first lol

  2. Jeremiah says:

    And that’s why mass combat rules were invented. :)

    • Kunou says:

      Except when you actually use the full mass combat rules with formations and units of varying numbers and all that you get a set of rules more complicated than grapples and opportunity attacks. I played several huge battles but by the end of a few Dynasty Warriors looking battles we agreed that it was better to just have a battle going on behind the party and have us fight two or three enemies of a slightly higher caliber.

  3. Tower says:

    Truly, the strain of coming up with a description of the latest attack in any particular d&d battle can quickly become terrible. I always seem to fall into the rut of {hit for 30% of hp= Shoulder Wound} {hit for 50% of hp= bloody chest wound} {hit for 100% of hp= Decapitation} Oh how frighteningly long it takes before players tire of magic missile and beer mug decapitations.

  4. Issachar says:

    Heh. LOVE the contrast between Legolas’ player and the other guys. Also, “I hate this campaign” is a great running gag. I love it whenever someone says that.

  5. Mordaedil says:

    I wanna STAB HIM!!

  6. DB says:

    Wait, isn’t Legolas now making a called shot. He could actually miss!

  7. Erin Storts says:

    Yes, but if it’s a called shot, shouldn’t Leggylass get a bonus?

  8. Prawninator says:

    Gosh, Legolas looks excited to shoot one in the eye!

    Does surface area account for anything in a called shot, by the way? Because if they’re trying to aim for an eye (or even a nostril) they might be in trouble if surface area is taken into account.

    Sometimes, I’m like Aragorn. “I swing. I kill. Die.” Rinse, lather, repeat. Now, with 20% more dice!

  9. The Gneech says:

    Their gear did change at Helm’s Deep … so they must get -some- kind of loot from this fight!

    -The Gneech

  10. xargon says:

    If Aragorn had taken Cleave, then the descriptions would be a little more interesting.

  11. Scarlet Knight says:

    Must …not…post. Must …wait… for Steve…I am…loyal…

  12. Rico says:

    Another good one. The guy playing Legolas has such a good attitude about things.

  13. Oona says:

    LOL! Another good one! I think the shooting an orc in the eye thing is more based on how great an archer Legolas is. When he hits and does enough damage to kill the orc outright, it’s always in the eye…just like the descriptions are always the same for the fighters. Anyway, love Lego’s enthusiasm!
    Thanks, Shamus!

  14. Blindeye says:

    I would so hate to have a player like Aragorn in my party… But then again, every time I run my Exalted game and a fight happens, and I give a ruling that is very Exalted specific and not-DnD specific he goes “*sigh* I like DnD”

    It makes me sad. Well, I wanna play EXALTED, damnit!

  15. Jeremiah says:

    Yay, someone else that plays Exalted! We’re currently playing a pirate-themed Exalted game, with a bunch of Solars with compassion 1. It’s a lot of fun. Really. :)

  16. Steve says:

    Heh heh! Good one Shamus. This is why Call of Cthulhu DMs have more fun.

    “Okay, having only lost 3 SAN points and by some miracle not falling into a drooling heap at the mere sight of this whatever-it-is, I fire my shotgun. At point blank range.”

    You hit! Max damage! Good Game! A large segment of the foul blasphemy explodes from its body. As you hurriedly shield your face from the foul gelatinous goop that sprays out of the wound you are assailed by a foul stench of such nauseous quality that your senses reel!

    “Whatever. Is that a SAN save or some other inconvenience?”

    I said SENSES didn’t I? Constitution saves all round to avoid some sort of incapacitating reaction!

    “Yeahyeahyeah. All done. It can have the other barrel now.”

    Your shotgun blasts out in vengeful fury!

    “Oh for the love of Azathoth. Did I kill it or not?”

    Stay tuned. The monstrous form lets out a howl that sends your mind reeling (NOW you get to roll SAN saves to avoid 1d3 sanity loss) and slumps to the floor in a heap!

    “1 SAN point down. BFD. Did the thing have any ite…”

    But what is this? Before you can move the squamous horror twitches then surges to its for-want-of-a-better-term feet, extrudes foul ichor-dripping claws and opens its maw revealing several rows of razor-edged teeth! As it’s foul breath rolls over you it unrolls its tongue – which resembles the end of a squid’s longer tentacles – and grabs you by the face!

    “WHAT? That’s bogus! How could it move so fast after I jack-o-lanterned it?”

    Sorry, can’t hear you. Your face is enwrapped in tentacle. WHo has the next strike rank?


  17. Fred's Friend Mike's Friend Gary's Friend Jim says:

    I figure a gurgling sound from the DM followed by the word “thud” ought to do it.

  18. Arbaal says:

    The look on Legolas’ face in the last panel is absolutely priceless!

  19. Doug Brown says:

    I was briefly and irrationally worried that this would be a code-based episode and therefore, like the preceding post, beyond my comprehension. Thankfully, I made my save.

  20. fair_n_hite_451 says:

    Curses. I didn’t get one of Steve’s rings. I want one. It’s mine, mine I say!

    Anyone wanna come on a nice fishing expedition? I promise I won’t knock you overboard accidentally, then throttle you when we get back to shore all soaked and excited to see the shiny thing we found…

  21. Namfoodle says:

    Hey, at least the DM is letting them roll dice and occasionally pick their own tactics. I knew a guy years ago who was famous for running his games like all the player characters were his NPCs. He would take both sides of a conversation between two player characters while the players were sitting at the table with him!

    I try to avoid playing cthulu, I always seem to wind up in games that are like “You open the door. You are dead.” And dammit, I only “peeked” through that door! But the cultist with the machine gun was still able to get off a TWENTY (?!?) shot burst at me. I suppose it could have been worse, as only SEVENTEEN freaking bullets hit me (a d20 for # of hits…WTF?)

    Although I did play live action cthulu at a con once, and that was pretty funny. Same thing, I opened the first door and died. Eaten by ghouls, don’t ya know. So I screamed. Loud. Really REALLY Loud. Some of the LARPers in the next room just about peed themselves, and the ghouls were suitibly impressed. It was rumored that hotel security was called to investigate. And although the party I was in got massacred and didn’t finish the scenario (shocking!) I still won a prize!

  22. Woerlan says:

    Now that is one PSYCHOTIC elf.

    The way that Gimli and Aragorn are talking, it’s like the DM wants to finish all 10,000 opponents. Looks like the players are getting fatigued instead of their characters.

  23. Nicely done, Nam! That’ll teach’em not to off your character so quickly!

  24. Salen says:

    The last panel is awesome. Always one person in the party will still want to shoot and kill more stuff even when the fight’s done, and be happy while doing it.

  25. wintersweet says:

    Yeah, great job on that Legolas frame!

    I was pretty leery of mass combat till we got to do it in L5R and Seventh Sea, and then it was actually fun.

  26. orcbane says:

    Good stuff, man. Its kind of sad to realize that you’re almost 2/3rds finished with this comic…

  27. Proteus says:

    The facial expressions were perfect on this one!

  28. Nigel D says:

    I had a character in Dream Park once who was like Legolas. She was a totally awesome archer, and repeatedly went for killing blows, which was necessary, since, in Dream Park, successfully making a killing blow increases your damage by 2 categories. She usually took a bow that dealt Deadly damage, so her killing blows counted as Extremely Deadly, where the rest of the party was mostly delivering Very Deadly damage. If she had taken the English longbow (a Very Deadly weapon), her killing blows would have been Super-Deadly (or something like that) and the GM would have killed her straight away. However, since the rest of the party were delivering VD damage, and ordinary Deadly damage blow would have been feeble (since the armour level of the victims … er, I mean opponents is set at a level appropriate for what most of the party can do).

    So she ended up being the party’s artillery piece. Until she tried to take out a dragon – she had two shots before it toasted her and missed with both of them.

  29. Lizzle says:

    once again… funniest yet. In all honesty, I didn’t really ‘get’ a lot of last week’s comics… I guess I’m the wrong type of nerd for the gamer jokes… but this is hillarious and once again astutely points out one of the only frustrating parts of the movies… endless, endless running through of orcs that actually got boring by ROTK.

    Love it

  30. *cheers*

    Another good one!

    I still love the way Legolas is done :D
    Lol, I’m just glad I don’t have a player like that :D

    And to do with the comic nearly being 2/3rds over,
    My vote is for a Star Wars comic next :D
    Luke Skywalker had some great facial expressions that would be perfect in still-shots.

  31. Asahina Akidai says:

    xargon: Tou mean if he had used it cause he has it as shown two comics ago.

  32. Jindra34 says:

    GOd this keeps going up… simplicity say i kill it… and last time i checked DnD did not have called shots… oh well…

  33. Gelatinous Cube says:

    I was amazed when Aragorn stole Legolass’ frase “I hate this campaign”, but it was totally hilarious, when Legolass came with his line. Seriously, this comic must be the best documentary of D&D playing.

    Oh, and Legolass is my absolute favorite character because (s)he remains myself so much that it’s getting scary.

  34. Bugsysservant says:

    Nice job with the second to last scene, Shamus. I was wondering why Anduril looked a little thick till I realized that the scene was actually the one where he was talking to that wretched long hair little child. Keep up good work.

  35. Dez says:

    “Nice job with the second to last scene, Shamus. I was wondering why Anduril looked a little thick till I realized that the scene was actually the one where he was talking to that wretched long hair little child. Keep up good work.” – Bugsysservant

    Good Eyes!!

    BTW Shamus, Convinently placed text box on the left hand side of this frame!! ;)


  36. Namfoodle says:

    In our current campaign, the DM almost never forces us to go through a combat with a huge number of low level enemies if it comes up in the modules he runs. It usually goes something like this:

    DM: “The room is filled with 30-40 zombies and ghouls…do you cast a 9d6 widened fireball?”

    Me: “Abso-f’n-lutely! Fire in the Hole!” (clatter of dice)

    DM: “Right then, after that, clean-up is quick and easy. Moving on. There is a passage leading…”

    Fights agains things like 11th level Wizard / Mindflayer are much more interesting.

  37. Bagpuss says:

    “Good stuff, man. Its kind of sad to realize that you're almost 2/3rds finished with this comic…”

    I wouldn’t say that he’s still got to do the Star Wars campaign with Frodo and Sam’s Player (there are six films to play with there).

  38. Telas says:

    “I wouldn't say that he's still got to do the Star Wars campaign with Frodo and Sam's Player (there are six films to play with there).”

    If Shamus doesn’t whack Jar-Jar in the first post, I’m leaving…


  39. Telas says:

    Bah. I got so tied up in the comments that I forgot my post.

    To heck with Leggo-Lass’ frame. I like Aragormless going through the fight with his eyes closed…


  40. LethalSpoon says:

    Being a very large (and yet skinny) Star Wars fan, I like the idea. Hopefully Shamus likes it too.

  41. melchar says:

    About ‘called shots’ – They are offered as an option in the ‘Fighters Handbook’ [2nd ed AD&D] – and you can do them in 3rd, too

    Best Cthulhu I ever reffed was at a convention where one guy insisted on buying 300′ of rope. He carried it wrapped around his body [so the other players called him ‘the spool’] – then while exporing a pyramid he fell in oil and got lit on fire. Burning merrily, the other players then called him ‘the wick’

    [Great expressions in this one!]

  42. Dave says:

    I wanna shoot one in the eye too!

  43. Browncoat says:

    In all the talk about what’s coming next, I’d like to cast my vote for the Serenity RPG. I know nothing about it, but surely our esteemed host could go buy it, read it, run through a campaign with Skeeve and the boys to get the feel for it, and produce a beautiful comic based on it with the 14 episode DVDs, the movie DVD, scans from the Those Left Behind comic book, still shots of Nathan Fillion and Jewel Stait from local area Shindigs, and video captures of the rest from Barney Miller, Independence Day, How I Met Your Mother, The Unit, and whatever else they’ve been in.

    If you need help, Shamus, I’ll lend you the ring that Steve gave me.

  44. Louis says:

    Yea, it’s a problem when the DM runs out of thing to say at kills.
    “Um…he died from the loss of nose?”

  45. davwalp says:

    Love it man. I can appreciate this one from both sides of the table.

  46. Da Rogue says:

    That’s why fighter based characters are *boring*. All hack n slash. The class that DM of the Rings lacks is that of the great Rogue! Now that is a fun class to play.
    I suppose Archers come fairly close.

    You got to love the look on Legolas’ face.

  47. Darrett says:

    Chaosium Call of Cthulhu book keepers get to -really- have all the fun.

    Players get to look forward to the following:

    If you have to roll sanity, you’re probably dead. If a machine gun is involved, you’re probably dead. If you bring fire, you’re going to die. If you go off alone, you’re probably dead. If you go to sleep in any sort of strange surroundings, you’re probably dead. If you read a book that isn’t from the public library (And even some that are from there) you’re probably going to go insane, kill your party, and then die.

    And yet we almost always end up with someone who thinks they can play that game like Leggy does in the last panel. They’re the guys who are told to have at least 3 extra characters ready to go at any given time.

  48. Jindra34 says:

    So Darrett: what does not kill you in Call of Cthulhu?

  49. Agent Oracle says:

    Brilliant and true. Get me through the horde of meaningless nearly-identical foes with as much expedience as possible please!

  50. Stephanie says:

    Oh, please, can we get out of the Battle of Helmsdeep already? It was interminable in the movie, and it’s heading that way here.

    (Love the comic, by the way, for all my whining. :->)

  51. Bugsysservant says:

    “Oh, please, can we get out of the Battle of Helmsdeep already? It was interminable in the movie, and it's heading that way here.”-Stephanie

    GAHHHH!!!! how can you say such blasphemous things!?!?!?!?!? The Battle of Helm’s Deep was one of the few points in the movie where the tedium of the journey of those oh-so-lovable perepetual itinerants, Frodo and Sam, was broken! Much as I love hours of Elijah Wood, staring into space for hours, I still breathe a sigh of relief at the temporary respite granted by even the most drawn out battles.

    But seriously, I love the movies, and watched The Two Towers just yesterday (though I had to pause it when I cracked up at Haldir’s facial expression. Curse you Shamus, ruining the drama of such a beautifully acted movie!)

  52. Bugsysservant says:

    Oops, one to many “hours” there. Ah well… teach me to post hastily.

  53. theonlymegumegu says:

    Is the DM using Rolemaster crit tables? XDDDD

  54. Hotaru says:

    Da Rogue: Hehe!
    That's why fighter based characters are *boring*. All hack n slash. The class that DM of the Rings lacks is that of the great Rogue! Now that is a fun class to play.
    I suppose Archers come fairly close.

    This is not completely true i love being a fighter with cleave and going up against quite a few opponents. i love fighting when i’m outnumbered really gets the imagination going. Rogue is fun too but eh… too weak to do what i like to do, which is charge in and carve a bloody path ^_^ and archers are pretty fun to pick enemies from a distance or lure them into a choke point where the fighters are hiding behind a wall or something.

  55. Deathblade_Penguin/Steve says:

    Three things to say today..

    (1) I hate being in Australia, I’m almost never first to post :( Reading through 55 comments and a comic is great but time consuming..

    (2) I have to disagree with Stephanie (Comment 51, Stephanie Says:
    Oh, please, can we get out of the Battle of Helmsdeep already? It was interminable in the movie, and it's heading that way here.)

    after Helm’s deep it’s all about walking, walking trees, walking through the halls of the dead, walking to minas tirth, walking to mordor.. walking walking walking walking (except, Gandalf who gets to ride a horse) so let’s drag out this battle as much as possible.

    (3) I hate to bring this up, STEVE, but i still have not recieved my shiny ring yet… is it in the mail?

    oh sorry

    (4) I love Legolassy look in the last shot too.. it’s great.. reminds me of my archer character who loved making those called shots except mine were mostly… I shoot him in the back….hehehehe

  56. Prawninator says:

    Aww come on Stephanie! A lot of humor was IN the Battle of Helmsdeep itself! .. even in the movie.

    Appreciate! ;)

  57. Tola says:

    “Oh, please, can we get out of the Battle of Helmsdeep already? It was interminable in the movie, and it's heading that way here.”-Stephanie

    Well, don’t worry.

    We’re almost done, at a guess. The wall’s been blown, and that means soon will be the retreat, and then Gandalf shows up. Whether we’ll switch to Merry and Pippin before then, I don’t know.

    Oh, and they’re finally going to get some levels. I’m surprised the player didn’t drop to his knee and start praising God that he’s finally going to get some EXP.

    And after this, he’ll soon get Anduril. The other players are probably going to hate him then.

  58. Nefke says:

    Legolas pretty much uses the same vocabulary as I do at any fight! I allways shoot the opponent in the eye! (or at least I attempt to).

    :D great comic once again

  59. Jeff says:


    D&D 3.x has no called shots.
    See Sean Reynold’s article for a few reasons why:

  60. moonglum says:

    You have all forgotten the rules of playing cuthulu.

    1. never be the first in the room
    2.Grab *ALL* of the books. don’t ready or exam them until you have your psychologist ready.
    3. You don’t have to run faster then the Dybuka, just faster then your friends.
    4. save the last bullet for your friends knee

  61. Bruce says:

    The problem with Sean Reynolds article is the way armour is used in D&D and the wording “harder to hit”. A good AC from armour means most of the blows a character takes in Combat will actually hit him, just not penetrate his armour, whereas a character who gets his AC from Dex dodges attacks and doesn’t get hit at all. In theory though, when he does get hit, he should take more damage as he has nothing to protect him once a blow lands. Unfortuntely D&D doesn’t work like that.

    When the character whose AC comes from armour does get hit, chances are it was the more exposed area that took the blow. If Bronn’s armour doesn’t protect him (i.e. successful attack roll), there could be a percentage chance he took it in the face or his unarmoured legs. Perhaps armour coverage could be used to reduce or eliminate the effects of certain critical hits or something.

    The armour AC doesn’t work with hit locations as armour in D&D doesn’t physically reduce damage from the blow. It either stops it totally or doesn’t stop it at all. Bronns breastplate is not harder to hit than his legs, but it is harder to damage. To hit his breastplate hard enough to sunder it, you’ve got to bypass his weapon, hit it at the right angle and with enough power to break it. Bronn is probably also aware of the draft round his legs and has modified his fighting style to protect them.

    A called shot should be particularly difficult during combat as instead of looking for any opening that appears you are waiting for a specific opening to appear.

    Where called shots could be used would be in the role-playing section of the game rather than full battle mode. Kneeing a guard in the knackers to escape, throwing beer in the face of an opponent. Perhaps using some sort of saving throw or dex check.

    • Arkanabar says:

      This is one of the reasons I so love Earthdawn — armor reduces damage, and super-high hit rolls penetrate (ignore) armor. I believe GURPS may be similar, but it’s just not as EPIC as Earthdawn.

    • WJS says:

      There’s a D&D variant rule that makes armour make a bit more sense by having some of it’s AC bonus give DR instead.

    • WJS says:

      Oh, and the “harder to hit” armour theory makes perfect sense considering what fighting in armour is like. You’re aiming at the weak points at the joints. If you hit, you bypass the armour and deal full damage. If you miss, your attack glances away for no damage. With an unarmoured guy, it’s much easier to just skewer him, but that shouldn’t do any more damage than slipping your blade up the armpit of a guy in field plate, say.

      This is, of course, based off of longsword versus plate. If you have a mace, you just bash clean through the plates. If the other guy is wearing maille, you just stab clean through it. Thus, the “armour as DR” rule is a good compromise, and a hell of a lot simpler than table upon table of weapon vs. armour modifiers.

  62. Margaret says:

    I can’t wait to see how you bring the other guys back into the story.

    And I agree, Great selections for the panels. Especially Legolas.

  63. Scarlet Knight says:

    “Da Rogue Says:That's why fighter based characters are *boring*. All hack n slash.”

    Oh come on! Only fighters can answer the great question: “What is best in life?” with “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women. …

    Hey, that’s an idea! Maybe Frank will return to the game and want to play a barbarian. Then you can splice Conan shots in where faramir shots should be!

    “The class that DM of the Rings lacks is that of the great Rogue!”
    Well, now Shamus will have to bring Merry back; someone has to backstab the Lord of the Nazgul for a whole lotta damage!

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