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DM of the Rings CXXXVI:
Knock, Knock

By Shamus
on Friday Aug 17, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


Knocking is a terrible way to begin an invasion.

Gimli points out a flaw in the versimilitude of the world.

To be fair, I think Gimli is pointing out a problem with the original work: How did all those orcs get enough food to live? I’m having trouble picturing an orcish farm, much less orcs producing all the accoutrements needed to run one. Both the book and the movie depict orcs with their own bread. Can you imagine an orcish miller? An orcish milkmaid? An orcish baker, complete with apron and poofy chef’s hat? Imagine a couple of orcs side-by-side in front of a farm American Gothic style.

Kind of daft, innit?

Comments (181)

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  1. Bruce says:

    Flipping way back to the Matrix comment, a human in more or less a coma/hibernation would probably require very few calories to survive. Also not all plants need direct sunlight to grow (fungi for example). With all their tunnels they could possibly be using geo-thermal energy.

    However the energy needed to keep the humans alive would have to be greater than what they produce, unless it was the type of energy they produce that was important (bio-electrical as opposed to thermal)

    • WJS says:

      Actually, the energy requirements of a coma patient aren’t significantly lower than your average person. Most of the energy you eat goes to maintaining your body temperature, with only a highly active person making a significant increase to their requirements.

  2. Phil says:

    Oh come on. D&D Rule 1. When a door won’t open you a) check it for traps, b) look through the keyhole, and c) try and pick the lock (lack of skills notwithstanding!). Or possibly even d) Toss the dwarf over the top to undo the lock. Yet Aragorn tried none of these?

    This comic lacks proper D&D credibility! :-)

  3. Zalan says:

    Aren’t fungi, well… fungi? And not plants?

    Also: Very amusing strip, Triggerhappy shoots, and scores.

  4. Ondo says:

    Black Hand at the comment #52 is right, the card illustration of Orcish Settlers from Magic: The Gathering parodies American Gothic. Here is the link with a bigger picture:


  5. Wtrmute says:

    To Luke (Thrythlind):

    In further point, with the exception of one individual, all the elves seen in Lord of the Rings are Moriquendi…dark elves. Elves that have never seen the light of the Valar.

    The only representative of Caliquendi, light elves, in the entire story is Galadriel.

    And her husband, Celeborn ( Teleporno, in his own Telerin language). He is one of the not-quite-extinct clan of elves which built the swan-boats which carried the three clans over the Sea way back in the day.

    Also, while I’m being nitpicky, I should point out that the Elves of Light are Calaquendi, not Caliquendi, and that the plural of Dúnadan is Dúnedain, if one applies correctly the sound-changes in Sindarin.

    Finally, the elves probably grow their food using the same kind of song-magic that Elven king (Fingolfin, if memory still serves) to kick Melkor Morgoth’s rear in his (Morgoth’s) own throne room deep beneath Angband.

    Do I win any geek awards yet? ;P

  6. superfluousk says:

    Tom: Nice poem, although I’m not usually much of a poetry appeciator.

  7. misaki says:

    about your question with the orcs and food, I think in the book it mentions that there were lands east of Mordor that Sauron had a hold on, so these men in the east may have contributed to feeding the orcs with their resources. maybe.

    By the way i love what your doing with this.

  8. imp No1 says:

    Well, actually, traditionally, the elves are the center of a highly advanced civilization.

    The smiths, yes SMITHS, ELVEN smiths, of Eregion are among the most skilled smiths of there day, easily equal to most dwarves.

    The elven lands in Lord of the Rings, with the exception of Legolas's people, are the REMAINS of kingdoms. They live on hunting and gathering, and probably trade, mostly because they no longer have the lands they once did that produced food for them (though I think Rivendell and Lorien had orchards and Mirkwood traded with Dale, Lonely Mountain and Long Lake)

    In further point, with the exception of one individual, all the elves seen in Lord of the Rings are Moriquendi…dark elves. Elves that have never seen the light of the Valar.

    The only representative of Caliquendi, light elves, in the entire story is Galadriel.

    And she, as one of the renegade Noldor, represents the lesser of the three races of Caliquendi.

    Legolas and the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood are the only real remaining elf kingdom rather than just an elven stronghold. And implications seem that the majority of them remained behind on middle earth even past the closing of the way left.

    At which point, I think they started becoming like the elves of typical D&D.

    But yeah, Elves traditionally had great cities and vast lands with fields and the lot. Only the centuries (millenia really) that past caused them to dwindle down to a few lightly populated strongholds and one kingdom that was more or less as “barbaric” as many dwarven and human lands.

    you misspelled eragon. (that is what you meant in the first place, right?)

  9. jabbers says:

    If they wanted to get over the wall, all they need is some of the ladders they “pulled up” during the seige of helms deep.
    or perhaps a bomb.
    “your cheeting.” was my favorite part of these comics.

  10. old player from way back says:

    I think orcish settlers is more what he had in mind.

    Orcish Settlers

  11. Maureen says:

    I know nobody’s reading anymore, but Elven women tend hidden fields in cleared land deep in Lothlorien. They provide the special grain, grind the special flour, and make it into various kinds of bread, of which lembas is not the only kind. Tolkien wrote a little side-article on it; it’s in one of the innumerable Christopher Tolkien-edited volumes of supplemental material.

    *roll eyes* You believe elves know all about living things and have high technology, but you don’t think they are capable of agriculture?

  12. Eldariel says:

    I recall reading that the food and such was grown near Lake Nurn way beyond Black Gate and all that, and in Haradwaith.

  13. Jim P says:

    Who said orcs need the same food/drinks to survive as we do? It IS a fantasy world after all……….

  14. tgef says:

    The orcs feed of the other orcs……they weren’t really orcs too. They were uraki (sp). They were kinda mined out of the ground too. Very strange stuff really.

  15. ClearlyF says:

    If you can imagine those orcish job categories, try imagining a Klingon scientist or engineer. A race, so devoted to warriors that none would ever survive the hazing of high school to become a designer of starships, FTL drives, or high tech weaponry. Yet we’re supposed to believe that they posed a threat to Starfleet, yeah right!

  16. Cynder says:

    Remember the orcs in The Two Towers?

    Uruk-hai: All we’ve had for food is maggotty bread for three stinking days!

    Orc 1: Yeah! Why can’t we have some meat?

    Orc 2: What about their legs? They don’t need those…oh, they look tasty!

    Or something along those lines. :)

  17. El Placebo says:

    The books clearly and distinctly cover the growing of food in Mordor, it is indeed done by slaves near the lake.

  18. Aragorn says:

    Best thing ive read in mmy life Shamus. Best thing ever!I hope you can add more!

  19. Mina says:

    Weren’t there also, like… Wikid Men… around…? Well, their bread always looked gookey anyways.

  20. Morambar says:

    Of course Orcs don’t have farms. They have lumbermills; haven’t you ever played Battle for Middle-Earth?

    Lame, I know, but all the canon comments were made long ago.

  21. Dangermike says:

    It’s not that no one thinks Elves aren’t ”capable” of farming, just that they don’t seem like the types to ever get their hands dirty in actual dirt. Still, the Word Of God says they had orchards and vineyards (which take nearly as much labor, sweat and dirtiness as regular farms) so somehow, they must. (Maybe they use their “nature skills” to coerce woodland animals to do it for them, or maybe to just climb into the soup pot and cut out the middleman.)

    As for the comments on The Matrix, converting geothermal energy directly to electricity is much, much more efficient than running it through a human body first. The original scripts for The Matrix actually stated flat-out that, yes, it was the processing power of the human brains the Machines were after, but the studio suits were afraid the audience wouldn’t understand such an “advanced” concept (because they didn’t, and they couldn’t imagine a bunch of science fiction geeks being smarter than them– about a science fiction concept– yeah) so they rewrote it to fit the “coppertop” scene in.

  22. Adam says:

    For the record, there prolly werent any farms. The orcs prolly jus ate each other lol. jus sayin

  23. Simone says:

    I think that the better/grosser question is, how do Tolkien creatures procreate? Can you really imagine an orc mom with little orc babies? I keep trying to picture it, but it always turns into the old junk hag from Labyrinth.

    Although Tolkien does say that Saruman bred ocs with people to make Uruk-hai, so obviously some orcs had to rape some human women (ew)

    Also, are we to assume that since orcs evolved from elves, they are also immortal?

    Even more perplexing is the question of dwarves…it says in the Silmarillion that Aule created the first dwarves, the 7 dwarf founding fathers…who then somehow went on to have sons. Probably through some kind of magical mitosis.

  24. Adam says:

    i think what happened is that all the orcs probably just ate each other. chances are they probably got the bread from other countries they had previously invaded. they could also have eaten the slaves they might have had wandering around

  25. Fishy says:

    In the early chapters of Silmarillion, the Professor mentions very briefly that Orcs produce like “the other children of Illuvatar” meaning elves and men, and just left it at that.

    So, I interpret that as- yes, there are orc women; yes, there is orc sex; yes, there are orc babies.

  26. MrRandom says:

    I’m gonna go with the orcs eating each other…they’re laughably easy to create, so they themselves are probably a better food source than anything else you’d find in Mordor.

  27. Hamsters Everywhere says:

    I haven’t read through all of the comments, so somebody might have mentioned this already, but Sauron’s forces are largely supplied by the lands around lake Nirn which is, if I recall aright (it’s been a couple years since I last read them) in the southeast corner of Mordor.

  28. - says:

    They used slaves.
    There was a big thing about it in Unfinished Tales.

  29. Tatooine92 says:

    I dunno which is funnier: the American Gothic orcs or the thought of a picture I saw once. It had Aragorn on it, in front of the gate, yelling “CAN SAURON COME OUT AND PLAY??” *snerk*

  30. Michael says:

    That orcish settler’s card is horrifically imbalanced.

    It is absolutely devastating to a multicolored deck — you can strip all of a color from your opponent. Worse, if I can draw two of my 4 during a game, you are completely hosed.

    Am I the only one who plays a “heavy waiting game”, where most of my mana is spent just before the enemy discard phase?

    Seriously, if we both have 7 lands down, and we’re just getting to the nasty cards, then I’m able to destroy three of your lands, costing you at least 7 turns; if I get a second, I’ve taken out almost all of your lands.

  31. silver Harloe says:

    > Of course, a good explanation is that Morpheus was misinformed. Much classier sci-fi version: the Matrix was using human brains as a data processing array.

    quoting http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ExecutiveMeddling :

    In The Matrix, the Wachowski brothers had wanted to have the machines use the humans plugged into the Matrix as a gigantic neural network computer. However, executives thought that the audience wouldn’t understand this, so they changed it to using the humans to generate electricity, even though this violates the laws of thermodynamics and creates several plot holes (though some fans find it decent as a metaphor).

  32. atheneglaukopis says:

    Fifteen birds in five firtrees,
    their feathers were fanned in a fiery breeze!
    But, funny little birds, they had no wings!
    O what shall we do with the funny little things?
    Roast ’em alive, or stew them in a pot?
    Fry them, boil them, and eat them hot?

    Bake and toast ’em, fry and roast ’em!
    Till beards blaze, and eyes glaze;
    till hair smells and skins crack,
    fat melts and bones black
    in cinders lie
    beneath the sky!

  33. Nami says:

    You know, considering that Aragorn’s a, you know, KING now, you’d think that he could have shelled out for a third horse for Gimli, or even a pony, or a mule, or a donkey, or a riding dog.

  34. Nacata says:

    Maybe the orcs steal from other places?

  35. Willowe says:

    The orc muffin man….

  36. Pete says:

    About that orcfood-thing… I haven’t been reading for a long time but as far as i remember, since nothing grew in Mordor, orcs ate something foodlike that Sauron could create that wasn’t neither food or nonfood. There were few mentions about that when Frodo and Sam were in Mordor. I can be wrong, that aint unusual.

  37. me says:

    to the south lay the vast fields tended for the provision of the armies by hordes of slaves brought in from lands to the east and south.

  38. Josh says:

    You say Orc Baker and all I can think about is the Gourmet. I wonder what he would say to all this.

  39. Wrathanet says:

    I always figured that Orcs made bread the same way they are shown making everything else: either pouring it into a mold or having it spontaneously generate from a vat of mud.

    It’s funny, because I had a very similar reaction to Seamus’ when the orcs in the second movie mentioned only having eaten moldy bread for weeks and no tasty, tasty hobbit meat. Of course, that led to imagining orcs with funny paper hats raking a vat of mud until ferocious loaves of bread burst out…and were promptly devoured by the mega-orcs (can’t remember what they were called) that were growing in the same pit. Or, perhaps those massive ovens below Isengard were just baking really big loaves of bread

  40. WJS says:

    I really don’t see what the problem is with orc farmers. I mean, they have to eat, and there are strict limits to how many a region can support by hunting and gathering. Mind you, they strike me as being more carnivorous than humans, so I would expect a hog farm or something to be more likely than a grain farm.

  41. wheals says:

    Aha, the first known instance of Shamus asking, “But what do they eat?” It all started here, folks.

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