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DM of the Rings CXXV:
Faux Pas

By Shamus
on Monday Jul 16, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


Gimli still wants to help Merry and Eowyn.
The king of the dead returns.

I have to admit that King Carcass has a point: There were a lot of kings in that particular fight. There was Theoden, Aragorn, the Nine, and the king of the dead. It was pretty much the who’s who of who’s dead in Middle Earth. Everyone who was anyone showed up, posthumously.

Comments (89)

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  1. Parzival says:

    “[Theoden’s] sacrifice delayed and disrupted the enemy until reinforcements arrived – whether they came in the form of undead hoard (which I thought was stupid and anti-climiatic) or aragorn's army (true to the books).”

    Bingo. The charge of the Rohirrim was not a waste, either in book or film. Remember, at the point when the Rohirrim arrived, the army of Mordor had just breached the gates and were pouring into Minas Tirith. The Rohirrim attack disrupted this assault, drawing the vast majority of Mordor’s forces away from the city, relieving pressure on the defenders and doubtless saving the lives of thousands of civilians”” which is exactly what soldiers are supposed to do! (At least, the noble ones.) Had the Rohirrim not attacked, Aragorn might have arrived to do nothing more with his forces (undead or not) except revenge a horrible massacre. The men of Rohan did not die in vain.

    Oh, and the reason there are so many nobles on the battlefield is because it’s a medieval/ancient battle. Read up on historical battles from this time period”” the fields are literally littered with aristocrats because that’s who the officers were. (Indeed, this condition lasted up until the 20th century in European armies.) Also, Tolkien was writing in the tradition of epic literature (The Iliad, The Aeneid, The Bible, etc., etc.,), which regularly describe battles boasting kings and princes galore. Remember, up until the late 17th century, a king’s primary duty was to lead his forces into battle. It took gunpowder to convince kings (and their ministers) that this was generally a bad idea for the head of state…

  2. damien walder says:

    I’m with Merrigold (from Rivendell?), I think the DM will try to trump the fannish exposition by driving the players crazy for a change. Of course it won’t work. Most of these players are too glib to even be jaded.

    Albatros trumps Eagles!

  3. rosignol says:

    But … I'm caught up? I just started reading these yesterday, now what am I gonna do at work instead of work?

    Google ‘oots’ and enjoy.


  4. Ben says:

    On accents: At least for the movie, the accents of the various characters (Gimli, certainly, but also the Hobbits) were, I understand, chosen because of the cultural cues it would give to an English-speaking audience. Gimli has a Socttish accent because they’re thought to be earthy and have a kind of grounded out-doorsey wisdom (I realize this is a horrible description of the stereotype). Similar decisions went on when giving the Hobbits various accents to cue “country” or “upper class” etc.

    Now… I can’t speak to Dwarves having Scottish accents anywhere else. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if people were doing a similar thing subconsciously. They think, “This character needs an accent,” and the one that is associated with a similar stereotype in their head seems to be most natural to them.

  5. Mitey Heroes says:

    “The horse dude”? He had a great screencap.

    The Monte Carlo thing works out fine as long as you keep doubling your stake. It’s not a high-profit game, but you don’t loose as long as you have enough cash to back yourself up.

  6. Keldin says:

    Ben, if you read oots, you’ll find a Scottish dwarf! As for if Tolkein thought dwarfs (that’s how he pluralized it, isn’t it?) would have Scottish accents, I have no clue.

  7. Gammahorton says:

    Regarding “dwarfs” vs “dwarves” – I have always heard that it is Tolkien who started (or popularized?) using “dwarves” instead of the usual “dwarfs”. For instance, the 1937 Disney movie is “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.

  8. dr. duck says:

    that whole “f for singular, v for plural” thing is throughout English language and is often ignored, I think. Roof/rooves as an example. But knife/knives, hoof/hooves, and I am sure there are more that we learn to use without asking why. I think dwarf/dwarves is in that category, and of course Tolkien’s “business” was language. However, that thing up near the roof is not an eaf, is it?

    Actually, I just wanted to chime in on the evolution of Gimli from buffoon to voice of conscience. Yeah !

    And “You’re doing what now?” *snort*

  9. Al Shiney says:


    What, have you forgotten Klingon? There isn’t anything more “gruff” than that!

  10. oldschoolGM says:

    Gammahorton Says: Regarding “dwarfs” vs “dwarves” – I have always heard that it is Tolkien who started (or popularized?) using “dwarves” instead of the usual “dwarfs”. For instance, the 1937 Disney movie is “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.

    He didn’t invent it, as “dwarves” goes back much further than that according to the OED (as Tolkien, a philologist who was an editor for the OED for a period would have known). He almost certainly IS responsible for popularizing the term, however, especially in fantasy fiction. Almost all fantasy uses “dwarves” following Tolkien, while other usages will use “dwarfs” as in “white dwarfs” in astronomy. Tolkien himself makes comment about “dwarves” sounding less silly than “dwarfs” in the introduction at the beginning of some editions of “The Hobbit”.

  11. jabbers says:

    I am waiting for the rediculous sceen in which golem bites of the finger of the invisible frodo.

    What DC does it take to bite off an invisible persons finger in combat.

    this entire scean was one of the unrealisic, It was probably just an excuse to use the special effects,

    perhaps this should have been employed against the elephant’s toes.

  12. Zippy Wonderdog says:

    Another reason why battles seemed to be all about nobles was because they where the “movie stars” of their time.
    You didn’t want to here ballads about the poor peasents in the first rank.

  13. DnD n00b says:

    Re:post 25 by Atanamir
    The hobbit on the field of battle was Merry, not Pippin.
    Being a Brandybuck, Merry had no pretensions to being a hobbit prince.

  14. Doug Lampert says:

    “However, the title “Prince” seems to be given out a lot more readily in Middle-Earth. Imrahil's one, yet he has no claim on the Kingship. The standard European nobility heierarchy (Duke, Marquis, etc.) never appears.”

    That’s basically the French system you’re giving to all of Europe. Prince ORIGINALLY meant basically the same thing as King, but was traditionally given to rulers of smaller regions.

    The nominal ruler of Monaco is still a prince to this day.

    If you check the dictionary several definitions of Prince will refer to it as an independent noble title which may be held by either an independent ruler or a subject ruler. Giving it to the King’s children is actually a courtesy title just as a Duke’s heir will sometimes have a nominal title as a count.

  15. Toil3T says:

    “1 Shamus:
    July 16th, 2007 at 6:36 am

    First Tops
    First Spot
    Rifts Tops
    Rift Posts
    Fits Sport
    Profs Tits
    Soft Trips
    Oft Strips

    Show-off. 79!

    But you have a good point. So many undead kings. I’d hate to think of Aragormless coming back to haunt Middle-Earth.

  16. serenitybane says:

    Those two lines had me laughing up a storm!

  17. Ross says:

    “that dude looks….. upset.”
    funniest thing there i’m serious apart from the whole
    “lets go kill us an undead king”
    “youre doing what now??”

  18. silver Harloe says:

    “…that point where, just as all seems lost, the existing forces on the field leaderless and outnumbered, reinforcements sailing up the river en masse in black-sailed ships, SUDDENLY everything turns out right as the White Tree banner unfurls on the lead ship and Aragorn joins the field leading all…”

    whether it’s the undead or Gondorian troops, does it really matter? The point is, Aragon brings the reinforcements, and that’s when and how they win. Everything up to that point was necessary to keep people alive until Aragorn shows up with the winning troops (whether they were undead or not).

    the only sensible argument I’ve heard for “leaving like in the books” was the one that said “these insubstantial undead can’t really hurt people, just scare them.” Otherwise, Aragon would have been perfectly justified to bring them along on the ships and use ’em to clear the army there. And even justified in letting them clean up Mordor – he bound them to help him win the war, not bound them to help win a battle. As long as Sauron was still a threat, they were still under oath, and he would have been no oath-breaker to retain their help until the Big Bad was dealt with.

    If he kept them around as “peace keeping troops” after Sauron was defeated, that would have been oath-breaking.

  19. Giodin says:

    Another thing about nobles in battle (aside from being history book-worthy etc) is that they were the ones who could afford all the snazzy weapons AND armour AND horses, not to mention pay someone to get them suited up and on a horse when they’re almost too heavy to move. Commoners were more likely to end up being the guys with pointy sticks, unless their commander could pay for more great equipment for them as well =P

  20. Robin says:

    The Oxford English Dictionary listed “dwarfs”, not “dwarves”, as the plural. Disney correctly used what the authority said. When somebody pointed out to Tolkien that he wasn’t following the words of the OED, he replied. “Yes, well, since I wrote that entry, I’ve changed my mind.”


    Nobody knew if they could win; everybody was just doing whatever the heck they could to keep Sauron from taking over, and if that meant the sacrifice of Theodin and a couple thousand of his men, then so be it. He knew full well that there was almost no way they could win against Sauron’s army if they had to face it in full, barring some spectacular miracle (like the ring being destroyed).
    “Faced with a choice between “the enemy army is entirely defeated” and “the enemy army is entirely defeated at a cost of 2000 of your soldiers and your king,” you pick the former, if only to be able to fight more effectively another day.”
    The first choice is not possible! do you really think they’d choose to let them die just to win faster? This is how it seemed to them:
    ‘We’re all most likely screwed in the end no matter what we do. Let’s try our best to do something, anything, even if it just delays the end. If we don’t live, so be it, but one of those people living back in Rohan, or in Minas Tirith, or elsewhere, might, and since we have no chance either way, we may as well do this for everybody else.’ How it comes out in the book is that they are fighting, ready to sacrifice themselves (if they haven’t already) when Aragorn show up with some reinforcements, just enough to push back the Orcs, though not soon enough to save all the people that had died. THis put more stress on the lack of men to fight Sauron with in the book, because all they could do was distract him and hope Frodo succeeded. In the movie it is a little cheap that the undead goes, well, we’re here, we’ll just kill everybody and go.Such a ‘Deus Ex Machina’ does not reflect the depth of Tolkien’s work.

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