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DM of the Rings CXII:

By Shamus
on Wednesday Jun 13, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


The King of the Dead cuts a deal.

The rulebooks explain that undead have very low charisma scores, but they offer nothing in the way of explanation as to why the other people at the table are so lacking in it.

Comments (105)

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  1. Fred says:

    This “First Post!” nonsense is so irritating that I’m tempted to suggest that blog engines should start automatically discarding any comment with it…

    Alas that would open a big can of worms, as we would start getting the likes of “First_Post!” and “Fisrt Post!”…

    Quite tragic, and a grave illustration of that popular science snippet: “A drop of engine oil pollutes a gazillion gallons of drinking water.”

    Sorry for the rant. Great (as in awesome) work!

  2. Shamus says:

    Ithelog: help yourself. Really I don’t see myself as having the *eight* to say no to such a deal. I’m using someone else’s work to make this derivative work without permission. I’d have to be quite an ass to insist that nobody mess with it now.

  3. Alexis says:

    “A drop of engine oil pollutes a gazillion gallons of drinking water.”

    I’d drink it. What would happen to me if I did?

    Anyone fancy a regex contest? You could probably get better results by smashing the text (with tr()) into [firstpo] then applying a similarity score.


  4. Zaxares says:

    I find it most interesting how Legolas’ player has stopped contesting Aragorn’s impression that his character is female. :O

    Also, whenever a DM agrees too readily to a player’s bargain, BEWARE! You can bet the DM’s got a nasty surprise or a double-cross up his sleeve. (I know I certainly would!) :P Curious how Gimli’s player didn’t pick that up, though.

    On Charisma and dump stats: After I introduced psionics into my campaign, my players have learned NEVER to use Charisma as a dump stat again. Why?

    Two words: Ego Whip. Fellow psionics-using DMs will understand what I mean. *evil grin*

  5. Pixy Misa says:

    Hi Shamus.

    There were routing problems between Comcast and Global Exchange in Dallas where the mu.nu servers are located. I had a number of people reporting problems getting to mu.nu sites.

    It all seems to be fixed now.

  6. Sutremaine says:

    Well, if they can go around casting Shivering Touch on anything with scales and a breath weapon…

    If the llusionist is a prepared caster, go for Int. If he’s a spontaneous caster, leave Cha as his casting stat. Alternatively, ask your DM if you can make him whatever class most closely follows the flavour and mechanics of the Illusionist, but keep Cha as the casting stat regardless.

  7. Browncoat says:

    67 Alexis Says: June 14th, 2007 at 5:09 am
    “A drop of engine oil pollutes a gazillion gallons of drinking water.” I'd drink it. What would happen to me if I did?

    I was surprised to learn that drinking too much water can kill you, irrespective of automotive lubricative content. BTW, Fred (#65), I believe the actual ratio is one drop of motor oil to 10 duotrigintillion gallons of water. (I looked that up on Googol.)

  8. Aaron says:

    We never had a dump stat when I first started as a player. Our GM was all about the psionics so we learned quickly to spread the love to Charisma. Mind you, that GM was a total railroader, and used his own characters as the unkillable NPC badguys. I had to stop playing D&D with him simply because of his vindictive streak and ego issues.

    That being said: Psionics ftw!

  9. Pagba says:

    Finally reached the latest page. Fanfic is usually boring but this rocks. Shamus shames us all by creating great stuff. Awesome! (Or as we Finns say: hykerryttävän mahtavaa!)

  10. Caius says:

    I knew that this strip was great when our gaming group started quoting it in all our games.

    Great work Shamus

  11. Scarlet Knight says:

    “67 Alexis Says: June 14th, 2007 at 5:09 am
    “A drop of engine oil pollutes a gazillion gallons of drinking water.” I'd drink it. What would happen to me if I did?”

    Well, not a lot if you like your water with a hint of diesel bouquet. The damage from a single drop is more of a problem for the organisms that live in the water.
    Unfortunately, no engine ever leaks only a single drop. So, soon you find that when you finish your shower, you smell like a pit crew, your skin is damaged, & your intestinal tract has become most lively! Not to mention if there are other additives to the oil that cause you & your kids to drop IQ points like a fighter dumping intelligence stats!

  12. Love the Ghost king :D
    Some classic lines in there Shamus, keep up the awesome work!


  13. Browncoat says:

    RE: the Oil

    Sorry for the tangent, but Scarlet Knight (#75) reminded me: last night on the season opener of Last Comic Standing, a comic was saying…

    “Oil spills don’t bother me because we cook fish in oil. They’re not dying–they’re marinating! What we need is a lemon wedge spill.”

    I laughed. [/tangent]

  14. Roxysteve says:

    [Shamus] I applaud you in your ruthless weeding out of those “First Post!” first posts and urge you to ever greater feats of dilligent deleteing, but not for any of the daft reasons anyone else has given.

    I usually get in around 3-10 (ish). Every post you delete brings me closer to the shangri-la first post, which I covet with all my heart.

    It’s all I have to live for since that wretched “ring” fiasco cleaned me out.


  15. Carl the Bold says:

    71 Browncoat Says:

    I believe the actual ratio is one drop of motor oil to 10 duotrigintillion gallons of water. (I looked that up on Googol.)


  16. brassbaboon says:


    I don’t want to have a single DM house rule approach, I want the character to be accepted without comment really for any campaign I might want to put him in. So the “use Charisma as spell casting stat for a wizard” is probably not going to work. I have done a sample conversion as an Illusionist-specialist wizard, and he seems to be playable, but it just feels weird moving his stat from Cha to Int.

  17. Hendrake says:

    Five second search: “One pint of motor oil can produce a slick large enough to cover one acre of the ocean's surface…One gallon of used motor oil can contaminate one million gallons of drinking water…Used motor oil may contain toxic contaminants including lead, magnesium, copper, zinc, chromium, arsenic, chlorides, cadmium, and chlorinated compounds.”

    Source is a recycling center and I noticed two “cans” and a “may” in there…but I’d still like my water oil-free.

    I know, I know – you didn’t really care.

  18. Dean says:

    can’t say I’m up on the new rules, but go with what feels closer to the original character.
    I always liked the illusionist and did’t care for the way later revisions changed spell availabiliy for some classes.
    It’s a game, do whatever makes him or her fun.

  19. MacrosTheBlack says:

    Wonderful, excellent, spectacular strip there Shamus.
    I haven’t played pnp D&D in years but I have been following your strip from the beginning and I can still relate to almost all of what this poor DM is going through. I know because I was exactly that kind of player :)
    I had two character types when I played: Fighter or Wizard. When I was a Fighter I always rushed into a dungeon first before waiting for the rogue to check for traps and I always looted first, again before the rogue checked for traps :) in the end my DM made me loot a pair bracers that permanently changed my characters sex (at least until I could find a high level cleric that could remove my curse, strangely enough we never seemed to encounter one of those).

  20. Solemndragon says:

    Heh. I don’t even think of this as “fanfic.” I think of it as “Richly deserved satire.” Fanfic is usually a little kinder to the original source material… (and i confess i think of it as a derogatory term) …this delightfully skewers both the original plot and all later versions, leaving me giggling like a madman for the rest of the day.

  21. Aj says:

    Love the comic, as always.

    However, I’m commenting because this is the first time I noticed the polyhedral dice next to the posted comments. That’s awesome.

  22. Scarlet Knight says:

    To Hendrake : I spent 15 years working in poison control centers; caring is good. Welcome aboard.

  23. Roxysteve says:

    My dear Hendrake, as someone – possibly W.C.Fields, possibly not, once said “Water is fithy stuff. Fish pee in it.”

    I’d stick to grog, ale and rubbing alcohol.

    In fact I do, which is why I’m blind, have a liver made entirely of concrete and can survive temperatures low enough to freeze the thingumybobs off a brass wotsit.


  24. Kris says:

    I love the new custom messages (Or at least, relatively new. I haven’t seen this one before though).

    “My Server weeps for mercy.”

    That’s awesome. Do we get anything past that?

  25. Ed the Higg says:

    “The rulebooks explain that undead have very low charisma scores…”

    Not necessarily. Let’s see….

    *grabs the Monster Manual, Libris Mortis and maybe even the campaign notes for the all-undead-and-necromancer-PC’s campaign he’s running now*

    Skeletons? Meh Charisma.
    Zombies? Crap Charisma.
    Ghouls? Great Charisma.
    Ghasts? Great.
    Shadows? Decent.
    Deathlocks? Decent.
    Brains in Jars? Excellent.
    Wights? Decent.
    Allips? Friggin’ awesome.
    Spectres? Good.
    Necropolitans? Meh.
    Liches? Decent.
    Spectral Lyrists? Awesome.
    Mummies? Good.
    Ghosts? Meh to Decent.
    Vampires? Great.
    Vampire Spawn? Decent.
    Crypt Chanters? Godlike.
    Entombers? Good (despite having their lips sewn together, even).
    Bleakborn? Good.
    Necromentals? Crap.
    Bodaks? Meh.
    Atropal Scions? Godlike.
    Devourers? Excellent.
    Mohrgs? Meh.
    Dream Vestiges? Godlike.
    Slaughter Wights? Excellent.
    Nightshades (all sorts)? Friggin’ awesome.
    Entropic Reapers? Good.
    Hulking Corpses? Sucky.
    Angels of Decay? Friggin’ awesome.

    And the list goes on. As you can see, the majority of undead types have better-than-average Charisma with scores falling anywhere in the 12-to-20 range. Lesson to be learned here: If you’re a player in an all-undead campaign, let the ghoul(s) do all the talking and move your lich to the rear of the party when it’s time to parlay. (But keep the Fireball spells handy in case the ghoul rolls a 1 on his Diplomacy check. ;-P )

    (No, I don’t know why liches only average around a 12 or 13 Charisma. I always thought they’d be some pretty suave devils.)

    I’m not sure why undead have such good Charisma scores, including some of the types which can’t even speak. It must be that intimidating presence; When a freak from beyond the grave puts down the human leg he’s noshing on and saunters up to you with something to say, you tend to give the ghoul your undivided attention. >;-)

    Wall of text ends. Next guy.

    • WJS says:

      Lich is a high level template, you can’t just have “a lich” the way you have “a mummy” or “a ghoul”. If you only apply that template to wizards, yeah they won’t have great charisma, because apparently they’re all geeks. The rules say that any caster of level 11+ can become a lich though. Try applying the template to a level 11+ bard or sorcerer and tell me they have no charisma. Hell, even a cleric has CHA as a secondary stat.

  26. TheDeepDark says:

    Ah, but Ed… There was no next guy. What then?

  27. Cynder says:

    Funny if the Dead had nothing to give them. I bet I can guess Aragorn’s words straight up:

    Aragorn: I HATE THIS CAMPAIGN!!!

  28. Aragorn says:

    grrr it wnt let me see the comic i keep tring to refresh

  29. Aragorn says:

    btw AESOME comic

  30. deathknight says:

    Awesome comic man

  31. Moridin says:

    #89 Ed: Liches don’t get much in a way of ability bonuses(from being a lich) anyway. But you seem to forget that sorcerers can become liches too.

  32. A bad DM says:

    This is amazing especially the fact that aragorn still thinks legolas is a girl! xD

  33. serenitybane says:

    Lol “The dwarf thinks I should leave you to your damnation, and the hot chick wants to kill you outright.”

  34. Leyomi the Parodier says:


  35. Leyomi the Parodier says:

    This is actually kind of tense. Till the punchline, I mean.

    Hay, 100th comment ^^

  36. TheBeardedOne says:


    The last panel made me laugh pretty hard.

  37. silver Harloe says:

    > /\b(([1i!](st|ts))|([f4]|[i1!]|r|[s5]|[t+]){4,5}.{0,3}(p|[o0]|[s5]|[t+]){3,4})\b/i

    ( [f4]|[i1!]|r|[s5]|[t+] ) is an over-construction of [f4i1!rs5t+], similarly with how you match post.

    anyway, I'd probably simplify the 1st/first distinction thusly: [f4i1!rs5t+]{3,5}

    your whole regexp fails to match people simply posting "first" so I'd change it up a little:

    [f4i1!rs5t+]{3,5} # first or 1st, with 'l33t' variations of first
    ( # ...optionally
    .{0,3} # 1-3 random interspersing characters (probably . ! or whitespace)
    [po0s5t+]{4} # post, with 'l33t' varations
    ) ?

  38. silver Harloe says:

    the ‘code’ tags I put around that post failed somewhat, but my regexp had decent indentation originally :)

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