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DM of the Rings CXV:
Misunderstandings Compound

By Shamus
on Wednesday Jun 20, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


No, you mean…
Corsirs. Are. Sailing. Ships. Okay?

By their very nature, fantasy worlds are rich in fantastic visuals. This is hampered somewhat by the fact that there is no visual component to the classic tabletop game, which leads to odd conversations like the one above.

Comments (118)

1 2

  1. Shamus says:

    I’m sure many people will notice: This strip touches on the same theme as the classic gazebo joke.

  2. Warhammer: 3025 says:

    Fantastic. Simply fantastic.

  3. Deoxy says:

    “I hate this campaign” – nice to have that one return. I was beginning to miss it.

    Funny thing is, EVREYBODY seems to hate this campaign (DM & players, and all have said so before, repeatedly), and yet, they keep playing… ?

    Usually, there’s at least ONE person left who’s enjoying it, or the group starts playing something else.

  4. Deoxy says:

    I didn’t mean to imply that it’s not funny, mind you. I check this site multiple times a day for a reason.

  5. Zynia says:


    Usually when the DM starts with “I hate this campaign.” its a good cue to start re-rolling cause everyone is about to die.

  6. NeedsToHeal says:

    I loved panel 9. Gimli’s dialogue box is present, but he’s not. That cracked me up.

  7. Cenobite says:

    MINUS Tirith??!??!??!? LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Is there a Plus Tirith in some alternate universe to balance this out??? :)

  8. Ninja Raven says:

    Was intro’d to your comic this week. Brilliant! I was laughing so hard, the girl in the next room thought I was choking. Looking forward to the next comic and to any further series you choose to do. kepp up the hilarious work!

  9. MarcusLuigi says:

    Long time reader, first time poster. Absolutley fantastic job and thank heavens I’ve learned (the hard way) not to drink my coffee when reading this site or today would have cost the company another keyboard….

  10. Sartorius says:

    Is there a Plus Tirith in some alternate universe to balance this out???

    Plus Tirith faced Minus Tirith from the other side of the Anduin, until the Nazgul seized it and it became Minus Morgul. Duh.

  11. Oh, and for Sartorius an appreciative
    (No, I realize they’re not actually headed for the castle AAaaaarrggghhhh!)

  12. Eorl de Jonge says:

    Why do you take the time to tell them how places are suposed to be called, they will renember places like this:
    Rohan Horseland
    Gondor Land of Aragorn
    Minas Tirith White City

  13. John says:

    have Gmed this confused conversation many, many times…

  14. Gothmog says:

    Minus Tirith. I love it. Great job, Shamus.

  15. Dee says:

    What’s particulary funny is…the DM is wrong too! ‘Corsairs’ are the pirates themselves…you might say ‘corsairs’ when you really mean ‘corsair ships’ but it’s not a particular kind of sailing vessel. I’d never seen the “classic gazebo joke” but the same joke appeared in the “Knights Of the Dinner Table” game comic.

  16. Henebry says:

    My favorite moment: “It doesn’t matter lad” from somewhere below the bottom edge of the window.

  17. elda says:

    i love the look on aragorn’s face in pannel nine (i believe it’s nine…) where it looks like he wants to strike legolas down where he stands.

    the whole comic was great, that was just my favorite part for some reason.

  18. NeedsToHeal says:

    Shamus, did you purposely name this strip the same as your XXX strip? Misunderstandings Abound

  19. Rolld20 says:

    3 Deoxy: “Funny thing is, EVREYBODY seems to hate this campaign (DM & players, and all have said so before, repeatedly), and yet, they keep playing… ?”

    For an interesting write-up of the ‘love the ideal/hate the reality’ phemonenon, see the following:

    Alas, my husband and I have each had games where we stomp home after each session and rant about how bad it is.
    And yet, we set forth for the next one full of hope, knowing how good it *could* be…

    Oh, and good comic, Shamus. :)

  20. Susano says:

    Now I find myself trying to think of every “corsair” I can…

    Vargr corsairs, The F4U Corsair, A-7 Corsair, the car (from Ford), and so on.

  21. “What's particulary funny is…the DM is wrong too! “˜Corsairs' are the pirates”
    Hence the “Don’t you mean galleons?”

    • WJS says:

      I’m no expert on sailing ships, but I’m pretty sure galleons were bigger, with square sails. That joke is that Legolas thinks all sailing ships are galleons, which is kinda like saying that all automobiles are SUVs. I couldn’t tell you what the ships in the film are, but they look decidedly eastern to me, while galleons were western.

  22. Rustybadger says:

    Interesting little article over on GeekDad today about D&D – Wired’s Geekdad Blog

  23. Dan says:

    At some point, every player around the table thinks “I hate this campaign.”

    Usually those moments come for players who are, for the moment, supporting the glory of someone else’s character. For the DM it comes when all the players question his authority en masse.

    I love that phrase. Its DMotR’s “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” Those things never get old! :)

  24. Parzival says:

    Love Aragorn’s expression in the last panel.

    Love it that now the DM is complaining that he “hates this campaign.”

    And the panel with “It doesn’t matter, lad” coming from an out-of-sight-because-he’s-short Gimli”” that’s just terrific.

    And kudos to Purple Library Guy”” “That’s why Tolkien drew a map.” HAHAHAHA!!!

    No wonder I’ve started saving this comic and the comments for last each day.

  25. Browncoat says:

    I laughed harder at the DM’s “I hate this campaign” than I have at anything else. I’m getting the eye from my cube-neighbors. Also loved Gimli’s dialogue bubble pointing down to him off screen.

    “…and the clueless again shall be king, and he shall take the clueless for his advisors. Now come the days of the king. May he get a clue.”

  26. Proteus says:

    Aragorn’s expression in the last panel is _perfect_. Nice to hear the DM utter the catchphrase as well. Thanks!

  27. AndiN says:

    Love it, Shamus! When I read Aragorn’s comments in the top panels, I immediately thought, “GAZEBO!” :-)

  28. Matt says:

    I like the subtle Pirates reference from the hot chick.

  29. Alan Post says:

    like others have said, i *love* the panel with gimli talking but not present! awesome!

  30. Urebril says:

    You are doing an outstanding job! I have enjoyed the whole series so far and don’t want it to end even though it is obviously close to an end. I hope we get more great work in the future. Great strip by the way, the one with the skulls trap is still my favorite.

  31. John in Austin says:

    Not sure I’ve posted before, been reading a while. Great comic, I love it! I’ve had my own gazebo moment as a DM back in high school. The party opened a door onto a room with a chest on the ground on the far side. The room had a green poisonous gas in it as well, which I described as “You see a tint in the air of the room”. I don’t recall the exact dialog at this point, but the party thought it was a tent instead. They thought they had found a magic tent and rushed into the room to figure it out. They were astounded when I asked them to make a save vs poison. Pretty amusing, particularly since I didn’t understand their mistake until they asked whether the tent had attacked them or something.

    • WJS says:

      That’s not really a gazebo moment. Your players just misheard you. A true gazebo moment is when they heard you fine, but have no idea what the word you just used means and try to guess rather than ask.

  32. Mrs T says:

    I’m just impressed that Aragorn remembered the name ‘Gondor’ in the correct context.

  33. Da Rogue says:

    hehe, confused conversations…
    Player: So we going to kill this so and so wizard?
    Dm: No that’s the good wizard from town.
    Player: So why’s a good wizard trying to take over a dragon?
    Dm: He’s not; the evil wizard so and so is trying to take over the celestial dragon.
    Player: That’s not the same guy?
    Other Player: Why would an evil guy want to take over an evil dragon? Wouldn’t they want to team up to kill us?
    Dm: I hate this campaign.

  34. Tola says:

    ‘Corsairs are Sailing ships’.

    I…Think(I’m probably reaching) it’s a slight reference to EA’s The Battle for Middle Earth-‘Corsair’ is used for the ships and the ground units.

  35. txknight says:

    Lol! Loved the irony of the DM complaining about his own campaign.

  36. Senalishia says:

    Whoa–I pulled up the comic and the first thing that caught my attention, before even getting to read any dialogue, was a dinasaur and that weird leopard-thing, and I was all huh??? So I actually read it and… it all made sense! Amazing!

  37. Al Shiney says:

    (cleaning monitor of water after seeing Gimli’s “below the fold / under the camera” comment)

    Yeah, I know … don’t drink while reading DMotR.

    Just wanted to add another Corsair to Susano’s list (# 21). In the Robert Conrad TV series “Black Sheep Squadron (or Baa Baa Black Sheep if you prefer) from the 70’s, the pilots flew Corsairs in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

  38. Al Shiney says:

    And Shamus, thank you so very much for taking away the ability of stalkers to make the first post … a brilliant solution!

  39. Marmot says:

    KING OF THE KINGS!!!!!!!!
    I haven’t laughed so hard in quite some time. This one was absolutely brilliant, particularly the part about Starcraft (where did you get that screenie? Battlestar Galactica) and the DM saying “I hate this campaign”.

    Keep up the good work, Shamus!

  40. DamoJO says:

    Oh man that was sooo funny. I am going to miss this when its over.

    So PLEASE Shamus, do Star Wars or I will get everyone who has laughed coffee, cocoa, water or whatever over their pc’s together and sue your ass for damages.

  41. Medium Dave says:

    The DM saying “I hate this campaign”.

    Brilliant and without peer. What a great laugh I got from that.
    -A frustrated GM.

  42. DoveArrow says:

    I thought corsairs were a type of airplane.

  43. neminem says:

    That’s pretty awesome… course, as soon as I read the first panel, I was waiting to see how long it’d take someone to bring up Starcraft. Glad you didn’t disappoint me on that one. ;)

  44. Atanamir says:

    Version of the “gazebo” joke that I originally heard (though I was led to believe this actually happened), was the “Portuguese” joke. The party was blocked from entering a castle by a Portuguese. They try talking to it, going around it, moving it aside, finally attacking it, all to no avail. Turs out the DM meant to say “Portcullis”.

  45. Keldin says:

    While I don’t have a dictionary handy to make this irrefutable, the original meaning of the word “corsair” was “pirate”. A corsair could travel in a galleon, a frigate, a caravel, or even a dinghy — the title of the job (I use the term “job” loosely here) was ‘corsair’. It had nothing to do with whatever mode of transport he chose. Later on, though, the word was used for many vehicles. I believe it comes from the French.

    OK, I went onto Wiktionary and got this. I hope you are all suitably edified while I go and mend my glasses with some masking tape.

    corsair (plural corsairs)
    From French corsaire, from French lettre de course, alternative term for letter of marque.

    A French privateer, especially from the port of St-Malo
    A privateer or pirate in general
    1840 “If I had been born a corsair or a pirate, a brigand, genteel highwayman or patriot — and they’re the same thing,” thought Mr. Tappertit, musing among the nine-pins, “I should have been all right. But to drag out a ignoble existence unbeknown to mankind in general — patience! I will be famous yet. “” Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge, [Chapter 34.]
    The ship of privateers or pirates, especially of French nationality
    Turkish Corsair: A barbary pirate, or barbary pirate ship (from Algeria, which was nominally in the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire).
    A nocturnal assassin bug of the genus Rasahus, found in the southern USA.
    F4U Corsair: A World War II fighter aircraft.

  46. superfluousk says:

    He should have just called them pirates. I’m sure the players know what pirates are.

  47. Attorney At Chaos says:

    For those who are not familiar with the Gazebo story, you can find it at

  48. Attorney At Chaos says:

    As for corsair, it refers both to the ship and to the pirates. Courtesy Dictionary.com

    American Heritage Dictionary – cor·sair (kôr’sâr’)
    1. A pirate, especially along the Barbary Coast.
    2. A swift pirate ship, often operating with official sanction.

    Similar definitions from other dictionaries.

  49. Woerlan says:

    Lol. The classic gazebo joke. Reminding all GMs to describe the ships, then call them corsairs. Do it the other way around, and pretty soon they’ll be rolling initiative and attacking inanimate objects. Lucky for them that the ships are full of nasties to kill. ^_^

    I never thought about it before, but isn’t the land of Minas Tirith mountainous? Doesn’t that mean these ships are sailing upstream?

  50. Attorney At Chaos says:

    Al said:
    Just wanted to add another Corsair to Susano's list (# 21). In the Robert Conrad TV series “Black Sheep Squadron (or Baa Baa Black Sheep if you prefer) from the 70's, the pilots flew Corsairs in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

    That’s already on the list – that’s the F4U Corsair.

  51. MOM says:

    “doesn’t that mean these ships are sailing upastream?”

    Yes indeed. In the narrative they made only slow progress until the wind turned in their favor. The “change in the wind” was noticed by Frodo, the mountain men, Leolas, and others in different parts of the world but at the same time. It was one of the devices that Tolkien used to tie the events together as the fellowship went its many separate ways.

  52. AWESOME! Pure awesome.

    Luckily, this kind of thing has yet to come up in my group, but I suppose it is inevitable. :D

  53. Vicky W says:

    I have to say the words “You see a wild Gazebo” did pop into my head as well. I guess some things are just universal. Stellar comic, as usual!

  54. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    Corsairs are actually a type of particularly vicious pirate in real life.

    In Tolkien’s middle-earth, they were a sea-going group of people descended from Black Numenoreans.

    Either way, they’re people, not sailing ships, so everybody was wrong.

  55. Alan says:

    I’ve just discovered this comic and sat and read the whole thing. Absolutely brilliant – well done! I’m spreading the word by blog and email. Keep it up!

  56. Deacon Blues says:

    And now I have a referent for the gag behind one of my favorite monster cards in Munchkin!

    “No allies are permitted in this combat. You must fight the Gazebo alone.”

  57. Rachel says:

    Corsairs are actually a type of particularly vicious pirate in real life.

    In Tolkien's middle-earth, they were a sea-going group of people descended from Black Numenoreans.

    Either way, they're people, not sailing ships, so everybody was wrong.

    Um, cf #49 above for dictionary definition — although, etymologically speaking, “corsair” did initially mean the pirates themselves, in modern usage corsairs can, in fact, refer to either the vessel or the pirates aboard it.

    Shamus — I’ve been reading for eons, and I think this is the hardest I’ve laughed since the PHP tangent. Marvelous.

  58. Dan says:

    Regarding those who thought Gimli was speaking in frame 8…notice that the text is in the same yellow boxes used by the DM. Gimli thought a corsair is a dinosaur; he’s sure not going to come up with the right answer two seconds later. The DM is the one that set them straight.

  59. Zorrin Cthan says:

    The DM’s “I hate this campaign” is the first time i have laughed out loud at this comic, sure other have mad grin or even a sort of snorting inside laugh but this litteraly had me in stitches. Increbile comic Shamus

  60. Myxx says:

    Man, I hate it when work drags me out of town and it takes me this long to catch the comic. Then I end up posting at the bottom, looking like a slacker! I’m glad I checked in though, it’s great today. Panel 9 is great, with Gimli’s bubble popping up from below.

  61. Rebecca says:

    I once told my father the classic gazebo joke. He promptly started singing, “A MIGHTY GAZEBO IS OUR GOD” loudly, in a Thai restaurant. It would’ve been embarrassing if it hadn’t been so funny.

  62. Gadush Kraun says:

    this is just too funny.

    You can recognise youve been reading too much of a good comic, when you start saying “I hate this campaign” in real life. Truly i did.

    “Flying Air Units” so funny.

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