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DM of the Rings CXI:
You Can’t Take it With You

By Shamus
on Monday Jun 11, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


Aragorn tries to wrangle some loot out of the king of the dead.

You can give your players incentive to do things, but if it’s not the incentive they’re looking for they will probably demonstrate it by their in game actions. Some examples of player incentives include:

  1. Loot
  2. Treasure
  3. Money
  4. Riches
  5. Gold
  6. Lucre
  7. Boodle
  8. Booty
  9. Dough
  10. Graft
  11. Goods
  12. Items
  13. Moolah
  14. Pillage
  15. Plunder
  16. Prizes
  17. Spoils
  18. Swag
  19. Bling

Comments (137)

1 2 3

  1. Selki says:

    Hey Dragonbane,

    Clicking through from the LiveJournal syndication worked fine for me. Firefox E.g., clicking on the link to this DMotR entry (?p=1195) when http://syndicated.livejournal.com/twentysidedtale/107008.html showed up in my friendslist.

  2. Scarlet Knight says:

    “EmeraldTiara Says:Just how many thesauruses did you go through?”

    A lot more now that I have Greater Cleave…

  3. Late post :D

    Another great one!

    And just as I expected, I love the Ghosts!


  4. David Brown says:

    Of course I’m the King. I’m the only one not covered in sh*t.

  5. Arcanum says:

    Gold and such is one thing. Be very afraid when your PCs start looking for rewards like unspecified favors in the future, titles, and land. It means they’ve started thinking ahead and planning things that will probably break the world.

  6. sleepyfoo says:

    I give you a friend of mines take on in-character alignment based reasons for looting things.


  7. Genuwine says:

    Been watching this story for a long time, just never posted. Keep up the good work, I’m loving it.

  8. Zaxares says:

    As I tend to play either crafty wizards who value gold only as a means to an end, or froth-spitting barbarians who really care little for gold, my characters don’t typically value treasure in the classical sense. Instead, I typically aim for intangible rewards like favors, titles and indentured servants/creatures. *evil grin*

  9. Alexis says:


    I proffer “bread” for spot #20. Just to round out the “random player motivation” chart. It’s cockney.

  10. Casper says:

    Arcanum Says: Be very afraid when your PCs start looking for rewards like unspecified favors in the future, titles, and land. It means they've started thinking ahead and planning things that will probably break the worl.

    I would consider that a good thing- they are finally paying attention to politics of the world and does something more then just walking around and collecting shiny stuff.
    And it's a great way to railroad the players:

    Me: The orcs are planning an invasion in the kingdom!
    PC: So what? It's not my problem.
    Me: But your castle and villages will be the first ones pillaged.
    PC: Er.. Let's go get them!

  11. Jeff says:

    Funny, my Aereni wizard tried to do that as much as possible, but I never got much of a chance to do power-plays. Generally we just got rewards… he was all about building up connections (LN and 24 Int) but we didn’t have much of a chance to.

  12. Scarlet Knight says:

    “Alexis Says:I proffer “bread” for spot #20. Just to round out the “random player motivation” chart. It's cockney.”

    Cool! Here in the good ol’ US of A, we used that when I was young back in the …uuh,hmmm, bummer,man. Anyone hungry?

  13. Browncoat says:

    64 UltimaGecko Says: June 11th, 2007 at 7:39 pm
    “Well, the mention of d20 and the list containing a mere 19 items piqued my interest. Thus, in the interest of appeasing those with OCD . . .”

    I have CDO. It’s like OCD, but in alphabetical order–the way it *should* be.

  14. Alasdair says:

    RE: Shamus’ list of rewards: what about ‘wealth’ or ‘property’? Pretty much the same thing.

  15. Shad says:

    The undead owe taxes for centuries. Can Ara-gorm go IRS on them?

  16. CyberGorth says:

    As your new King, my first order is….GO GET ME SOME SHINIES!!!

  17. Bex's says:

    Just bloody fantastic mate, wonderful, I take my tri cornerede hat off to ye ;)

  18. capitain says:

    “Look are you really the king?”
    “of course I am!”

    Now the Undead King will probably give Staragorn the bad news:
    “Well. Didn´t your Father tell you? – The Dead only fight for loot. We take all and give nothing back! (sorry had to do this) That´s the way it has ever been…”

    Great one by the way.

  19. Roxysteve says:

    Browncoat Says:
    I have CDO. It's like OCD, but in alphabetical order”“the way it *should* be.

    Well done that man.

    I thought CDO was yet another way SONY, BMG et al could circumvent the perfectly good Compact Disc specification in order to make you buy the disc but rent the music on it, resulting in a disc that will play on your Hi-Fi, will not play in your car stereo and will cause your computer to replace the microcode in your DVD/CD Burner with a version that cripples it.


  20. Roxysteve says:

    TheDarkOne Says:
    Dear God, this comic is better than Order of the Stick. It improves with every strip. I am mostly WoD player, but this here is a masterpiece!

    I started reading [The Strip That Must Not Be Named] by following a link from this site. In my view they are quite different species of D&D parody, and not really comparable. It’s like rating Larson (The Far Side) by referencing Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes): both do the “same job” but do it in a very different way, allowing enjoyment of both.

    Because I find DMotR to be hysterically funny, and something I recommend widely, I find it sad that Shamus cannot capitalise on his brilliance in the way that Burlow has. DMotR is one of the most original ideas I’ve seen in yonks, and the guy that thought it up deserves better than web-kudos imagi-points.


  21. Angcuru says:

    How about web-kudos…and a beer?

  22. Thenodrin says:

    I created a fighter based on Fred Fredburger from Billy & Mandy. The first “hire the adventurer” conversation went like this:

    NPC: “Our village took up a collection, and we can pay you 500 gold pieces to help us.”
    Me: “Yes!”
    Paladin: “Your village is poor and should keep its money.”
    Me: “Yes!”
    Rogue: “But they went to all that trouble, it would be insulting to refuse.”
    Me: “Yes!”
    Paladin: “Knowing that your village is safe is reward enough for us.”
    Me: “Yes!”
    Wizard: “Of course, some of that money could pay our expenses, recouping equipment used in defense of your homelands.”
    Me: “Yes!”


  23. Scarlet Knight says:

    “Roxysteve Says:I find it sad that Shamus cannot capitalise on his brilliance in the way that Burlow has.”

    Maybe he can. Harvard Lampoon made a profit with “Bored of the Rings”. Why not Shamus?

    By the way, Shamus, how are the DMotR(TM) shirts & mugs selling? I need to ask for SOMETHING for Christmas, now that the “Minions of Steve” playset has been recalled…

  24. Destroy Gundam says:

    This reinforces my theory that it doesn’t really what class you choose – you all end up becoming mercenaries at some point.

  25. Avaz says:

    12 Roxysteve Says:


    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


  26. Dave says:

    ok.. ok.. I wasn’t gonna add one of these.. but everyone else was… though I feel it’s a bit disrespectful to the DM.. but then again.. I suppose that’s the point.. so..

    21. Sparklies

    But the one the elf really plays for… Killin’ stuff… no.. stabbing stuff… STAB.. STAB

  27. Dave says:

    Wow.. 92 looks like my new favorite.. 4 natural 20s and a 12!! Sweeeeeet.

    BTW I think brassbaboon is filtered because he’s hit his limit. Anyone that posts more than once should be… damn.

  28. Dave says:

    Akk.. 4 20s an 11 and a 1… akk.. now I’m posting more that brassbaboon.. over some silly dice.. akk!!

    lets see 93.. 4 20s.. a 10 on a d10.. and a 3 on a d8??

  29. Gadush Kraun says:

    I must say i do like loot. and gold.

  30. Dinkleberg says:

    You forgot “shinies”.

    Great comic, as always :P

  31. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    will the shinies eat us?

  32. Just for the record, it should be noted that ancient armies ran on loot. If the king’s player had a little more history, he would be demanding that everyone make sure to honor his right to all the loot after the battle (and he would then distribute 50% and keep 50%).

  33. Jindra34 says:

    hehehe almost at 100 over discussing synonyms for money…-

  34. jperk31260 says:

    Our GM did give us 100,000 copper pieces once and we made a map and sold it to an NPC as a copper mine for 100 gold.

  35. jperk31260 says:

    should Pillaging really be on the list… isn’t it more the act of taking loot not the loot itself

  36. Roxysteve says:

    Avaz Says:
    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


    You send me a “Madonna Tan-Line” emoticon??!!!



  37. Medium Dave says:

    Players don’t love treasure, they just say that to get it into bed with them.

  38. Shamus says:

    Roxy: You don’t need me. You have enough funny for yourself and a family of four. I hope you have a blog somewhere, cuz you’re squandering your talent here in my comment threads.

    “Madonna Tan-Line”


  39. superfluousk says:

    So much for “roleplaying!”

  40. Al Shiney says:

    Since the original “Al Shiney” was a Call of Cthulhu shoggoth, the answer to Thrythlind’s question is “YES, we will eat you with relish … and ketchup.” Bwwwwoooohaahaa

  41. Lou says:

    You need 20 on the list so you can generate player goals randomly.

  42. Relo says:

    You forgot about
    20. XP’s

  43. Thandruin says:

    Nah… no one would be forgetting such important matters.

  44. SnarkHunter says:

    Oh, good… I was starting to run out of ways to phrase “Piles o’ swag” in ways that would interest my players. Many thanks!

  45. Cernenus says:

    personally my characters have always learned to like gems.. so much more portable.. inconvenient when it comes to getting ‘change’ for your purchase, but the value to encumberance ration can’t be beat.

    but if you can’t have gems, well that’s why higher level wizards always ended up buring off a few first level spell ‘slots’ memorizing Tensor’s Floating Disk…. the ultimate lewt recovery spell.. (well that or a portable hole)

  46. Kdansky says:

    Interesting. My group is the complete opposite of this. Gold never motivates them, no matter the amount. Which is very annoying, as it is such an accessible plot hook. My players always want to go for the greater good, which is a lot harder to incorporate all the time…

  47. Dwemor says:

    Shamus, you brighten my day :-)

    btw – i wonder why “Prreciousss” didn´t come up … :-)

  48. Seve says:

    Greater good? Who would like to do all that saving of the for being all goody good… Boring done that and it didn’t pay a friggen dime. Didn’t even get kiss from that wench who gave us that mission. Antiheroes are the best characters.

    Ofcourse there is alternate of all players picking fanatical paladins on crusade to rid the world of all evil with mindset of end justifies the means in good ol machiavelian way. That can actually be quite funny too and them paladins never take loot for themselves as all money goes to train more paladins for growing army of evil riddance.

  49. Seve says:

    Blody tags got some of text removed from above.
    It should go like this:

    …saving of the |insert name of place here| for being all goody good…

  50. Toil3T says:

    I don’t know if anyone has already pointed this out, but what about platinum?
    And I agree with brassbabboon and scarlet knight. My druid is more interested in xp and magic items than gold. It’s been a while since we bought anything. I’ll probably get a new set of clothes and a new holy symbol, made out of a rare wood or some other druid-y equivalent of a gold one. Then I’ll burn the old clothes.

  51. ” My druid is more interested in xp and magic items than gold. ”

    Bear in mind that that may due to the fairly pedestrian nature of the magical items you’re getting. If you got +5 shock keen claws that rended flesh and thereby applied a 75 DC Fort save bleed effect that was designed to work with your wildshape, you may do some stuff for it.

    But yeah, I generally agree. Equipment is usually at least in theory duplicatable. Powers ain’t. If I have a choice between a new ability and a new item, 99.99999999% of the time I choose the ability, and would only not do so if the item gave me some RARER ability.

  52. Cathulhu says:

    You forgot the lupins. Lupins are a prime piece of loot.

  53. Wannamingo says:

    I think you forgot ‘Experience points’.

  54. Mally the Black says:

    Yeah, definitely need to add 20. XP

    Make it a d20 table to roll on.

    I know my players start slavering whenever mention of leveling up or getting paid comes up.

  55. Gryphon says:

    You forgot ‘shiny bits’ on that list…

  56. valjean says:

    You left out wenches.

    Well *some* players consider that an incentive…

  57. the Tinman says:

    #8 should read “Booty- both kinds”, and yes, gold should be listed multiple times, for the greeding impaired

    Shamus, you rock! Keep these coming!

  58. DenverT says:

    my group also would follow anything with a proof of more than 1%

  59. Max says:

    I have to confess I never played D&D (except its PC incarnations) but I DM’ed some The Black Eye campaigns and I am a bit confused about the way you are depicting DMing. It seems as if you really made a tight script where most of the dialogs are pre-written.

    My DMing was usually some key events and some outline of the country-side and the rest was on the go. Perhaps I have had luck with my role-playing group, which was more interested in story and plot than loot and fighting (which is the major difference between TBE and D&D) – might also be because there were two girls in the group that this played out vastly different.

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