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DM of the Rings CXXXVII:
Let’s Get This Parley Started

By Shamus
on Monday Aug 20, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


Its time for parlay: Aragorn style!

“Parley” is the French word for “everyone else is flat-footed and bare-handed”.

Comments (188)

1 2 3

  1. baac says:

    I love this part of the movie – that weird mouth thing he does…

    Watched the series again this week. We’re depressingly close to the end of the comic, me thinks. Sigh…

  2. houser2112 says:

    I’ve had DMs that just would not allow actions during exposition. He was rather lame. It’s our business if we don’t wanna hear the NPC talk.

    • Bryan says:

      Tell me about it. The worst I’ve seen was a DM who ruled that anyone interrupting his dialog would die of contrivance, and that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t stick with him for long…

      When I run games I usually say “he starts his monalogue” because he will almost always be attacked during it. Why write a speech which no-one will listen to?

      • nocata says:

        what’s worse is what happens when they DO listen. if the king is too noble or the peasant is too humble, minor swearing, inter pc fights, and in the worst case, actual violence between the players. i’ve seen it happen, and it’s NOT the worst case in the latter except when the players actually draw blood.and sometimes they do, even.

  3. Browncoat says:

    I’m going to have to show this to my boss right before my next year-end review and let him know how negotiations *could* go, if I don’t hear happy numbers.

  4. Nikle says:

    And yet they keep falling for it.


  5. Ant says:

    “And yet they keep falling for it”
    Yes it is hilarious.

  6. Wade says:

    Parlay! They fell for it again! I love the personality you’ve given Lego-my-ass.

    Again, well done Shamus.

  7. Shamus says:

    Movie continuity error:

    Aragorn slices the guy’s head off, then they ride away. Yet on the ground we see no horse, no body, no head.

  8. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    This is why I never write dialog in advance.I only write what the characters would be like,then try to get into character if players suddenly feel like talking.Except when its a woman.Then I avoid getting in the character out of fear that theyll rape me.

  9. Deoxy says:

    “Oh, now I’m REALLY glad I killed him.”

    Heh. That was good.

    And I think your Screen-cap-Fu, already so amazing, has improved even more, I think. Those faces are all SO good.

  10. Felagund says:

    Hm, small error in frame 7. Aragorn did not actually shoot the mouth.

    So, I can’t help wondering whether or not we’ll be going back to catch up with Frodo and Sam, or if they are out just like Merry and Pippin.

  11. Scarlet Knight says:

    DM: “Will you stop killing my NPCs! Gimli isn’t the only one who likes roleplaying at this table!And I never get to play…sniff…”

  12. Jim says:

    Y’know, it seems to me that there are quite a few famous fantasy films that could be skewered . . .

    The Wizard of Oz
    Pirates of the Carribean
    Star Wars
    Harry Potter
    Raiders of the Lost Arc
    Jason and the Argonauts
    Conan the Destroyer
    The Sword and the Sorcerer
    O, Brother, Where Art Thou
    Dungeons & Dragons

    Which would everyone like to see?

  13. khorboth says:

    I’ve run the Dragonlance Chronicles several times. After becoming sick of the PC’s stabbing guys while they were in the middle of talking, I started to introduce the “text box rule.” I explained at the beginning that speech is a more-than-free action. When somebody makes a speech, everybody just stands there and listens. Even during combat. Then we go back to fighting as if no time had passed. The players were quite ok with this since I didn’t limit it to the NPC’s, and they could take advantage of it too. Besides, it helped set the tone for the over-the-top fantasy that is DL. Obviously I think the GM here should have done the same thing, but we’ve pretty well established his inadequacies.

    P.S. FIRST POST!!1!!!11
    P.P.S. And by “first post” I mean that it’s the first time I’ve posted here, though I thoroughly enjoy the comic.

  14. txknight says:

    Lol! I always just remind my players that it doesn’t matter when they react, they are still going to have to roll initiative if they want to attack a bad guy during a speech.

    Quick question. Is the last panel from the movie? My eyes might be decieving me, but it looks like it was drawn (not that it matters either way).

  15. Carol Elaine says:

    Aw, Legolass seems a little put out that he didn’t get to kill the mouth. He almost looks like he’s going to cry.

  16. Jim says:

    All my NPCs have a special skill that allows them to fight and drone on at the same time!

  17. The Gneech says:

    “Aragorn slices the guy's head off, then they ride away. Yet on the ground we see no horse, no body, no head.”

    He got erased out for the theatrical release, then they forgot to put him back in, is my theory.

    -The Gneech

  18. Samrobb says:

    “Odds are low.” – heh :-) Reminded me of one of my faviorite strips from PA, “In The Grim Etcetera”: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/03/05. A Warhammer 40K MMORPG… sigh. My doom aproaches.

    Jim: In your movie list, you left off what has to be the best worst fantasy epic of all time – “Hawk, The Slayer” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080846/). It’s the fantasy equal of “Plan 9 From Outer Space”. It’s so amazingly awful, though, that I can’t see any way Shamus could parody it… I mean, the whole movie is already a pretty awful (if unintentional) pardody itself.

  19. Tacoman says:

    Always good for at least a chuckle. Thanks, Shamus.

  20. Dafydd says:

    ** PCs did that to me too. BBEG about to explain his cunning plan and they attack.

    Aragorn goes back to cure the NPCs “EXPECTO HEALUM!” When DM of the Rings is done, I recommend you do DM of Harry Potter.

  21. adam says:

    All my NPCs follow the John Wayne School of talking.

    Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say much.

    Mostly because I don’t believe in those things called “scripts”.

  22. Thane says:

    I had a love/hate relationship with that scene in the movie. I loved the way the Mouth of Sauron was portrayed, and hated the way that Aragorn reacted to him.

    I think Shamus captured the reasons perfectly.

  23. Tuccy says:

    “Odds are low” indeed :D
    Great show of humour and screencap-fu, as always :D Nice one :D

  24. Caveman says:

    Awesome, I cannot wait to see how Gollum comes back to life to help Frodo and Sam destroy the Ring of Power, whose characters had left to play Star Wars early on! Truly amazing!

  25. kelsie says:

    i just got turned on to this comic, and spent the last day or so reading the whole shebang up until this point. LAUGHING MY ASS OFF! i love it.

  26. kelsie says:

    i, too, wanna see how gollum rises from the dead and frodo and sam come back from long long ago, in a galaxy far far away…

  27. Randolpho says:

    You all know how this is going to end, right?


    The PCs are gonna walk, pissed off that some forgotten NPC takes all the credit for beating Sauron.

  28. Jim says:

    Samrobb – That’s exactly why I left ‘Hawk, The Slayer’ off the list. It’s already sooo bad!

  29. Doug Brown says:

    If we’re lucky, maybe Shamus will have an epilogue with photos of his actual gaming group, looking pissed off and complaining about the neverending denouement, and how they never got to do anything.

  30. GEBIV says:

    Hmm… I’m starting to feel an “Orcs crush your army. You’re all dead.” ending here…

  31. Miako says:

    Equality is Equality.

    But if I’m hobbled in high heels and looking ready to fall on you — for the love of goodness, GET THE DOOR!

    I’d do the same for you, if you looked like you were having trouble.

    –hates high heels, can’t you tell?

  32. M&a says:

    Who ever said Gollum is dead? The GM’s failing is that he lost his composure and said Legolas killed what he thought might be Gollum. Sure Legolas critted, but was there a corpse to loot? Rule #1 of fantasy/adventure: if there is no corpse, its not dead. And if there is a corpse, it never hurts to stab it a few more times just to make sure it stays dead. Never leave an open end for your GM. Never.

    I keep wondering if Sam and Frodo are going to come back and declare that Star Wars was lame… just in time to finish things off. Of course, I also keep expecting our current band of misfits to either declare the perpetual lack of loot lame and run off to play Star Wars (I thought for sure they would do that after Minas Tirith) or to whine and protest that they are going to miss this campaign when it does finally come to an end. If they have made it this far, they really do like the campaign, even if they keep whining. Lets face it, players just love to whine and drive the GM nuts.

  33. John Marley says:


    I saw “Hawk the Slayer” when I was 9 or 10. I loved it, but ever since then, I have refused to watch it whenever the opportunity arrises. Because, in this case, I’ll take the fond memory over the brutal truth.

  34. Vegedus says:

    Heh, one of those times were the ending comment was funnier than the comic. I didn’t know parlay was french.

  35. Uriel says:

    “Parlay” isn’t actually a fench word. The correct french word would be “pourparler” (roughly pronounced “poor parlay”), wich originated the english word “parlay”.

    Now, the meaning is indeed accurate : it means “speak all you like, you’re wasting your time while we gather a decent army to spank your bottom real hard”.

    You might as well notice that we french no longer practice the art of “pourparler”, since we, unlike the Dark Lord, no longer have a decent army to gather, either.

  36. Astro says:

    I’d like to pull a J.K. Rowling here, and predict the last words of this webcomic:

    “I hate this campaign.”

    :D Loving the art and the story, man. Keep it up!

    P.S. I think the security word to post is cool too!

  37. Little Gen says:

    DM complaining: “I had, like, four pages of dialogue for him!” sounds so familiar…

    On a campaign I remember _someone_ tended to snuff out all the potentially important NPCs… Well, **it happens.

  38. M says:

    Apparently, “parlay” and “parley” are different words pronounced identically; “parley” does originate from the French term ‘parler’, meaning ‘to speak’.

  39. SophiCat says:

    “Rule #1 of fantasy/adventure: if there is no corpse, its not dead.”

    This is also rule #1 of soap operas. Although soap operas add the corollary “and quite often not even then.”

  40. matt says:

    Nice one. Another NPC down.

    I think you should take them through Conan the Destroyer. Gimli’s player takes over as DM, Aragorn’s is Conan and they force the DMOTR to play the princess. Dave is lured back and instead of a hobbit gets to play a really tall guy.

  41. matt says:

    Oh, and it goes without saying that Legolass becomes Grace Jones.

  42. As with Saruman’s death and Elrond’s sudden appearance with Anduril, “DM is trying to run the books but it turns out to be the movies” is one of the best veins of humor to mine. WTF *was* movie-gorn thinking in killing an emissary?

    • WJS says:

      He was probably thinking something along the lines of “this guy is really pissing me off, taunting me about how my friends were tortured to death”. It may not have been justified, but at least it wasn’t unprovoked like the comic Aragorn.

  43. vonKreedon says:

    Love Legomyass’ two expressions. One of amusement that the bad NPCs keep being killed while trying to talk up the players, and the second of extreme annoyance that Stoner took what little XP there ways by beating him to the draw on the Mouth.

  44. melchar says:

    ‘parlay’ heh heh. Makes me hope that Shamus does ‘Pirates’ 1, 2 and 3 next. The players might like their PCs a bit more [tho I bet Leggy’s player has to play Elizabeth] – and the various fighting moves will give them a lot to complain about – or subject to ‘rules abuse’

  45. Scarlet Knight says:

    No, no, Legolas MUST be Will Turner, but Aragorn has to play Elizabeth as revenge for all those “hawt” jokes. And he’ll do it poorly,of course, which is why Elizabeth won’t behave as a proper lady, dons pants, etc.

  46. Jim says:

    Well, at least the DM is grinning that they’ll never get the loot off of the Mouth like the mithril shirt.

    As this seems to be rapidly approaching conclusion, just want to give a big THANKS! to Shamus. This has been a great comic.

  47. Caius says:

    My PCs did the same stuff to me, so I quit writing my own dungeons and started buy/downloading them. Now they simply ignore someone else’s hard work.

    I would love to see one of the characters be the DM, and let the current DM mess up the story line constantly as a main character. Revenge is best served when it will make the other guy cry.

  48. Aaron Nowack says:

    Actually, watching Pirates 2 without having seen the first movie, my enjoyment was greatly enhanced by imagining it being a “reunion game” of D&D, with the players getting back together for one last run. The English captain guy was the character of player who couldn’t make it, and therefore got turned into a villain. (I’m told this is utter nonsense given the actual plot of the first movie, but my version is better, dang it ;) )

  49. Ishmael says:

    Y’know, Scarlet Knight, that makes a lot of sense. Who plays Jack Sparrow, though?

  50. Sigrun says:

    Ooo! If you do Pirates, actually have Elizabeth be a played by a gal gamer. Then you can explore the intricacies of the girlfriend bonus, players breaking up but both refusing to quit the game, etc. Seems to me that will fit right in with Pirates.

  51. Craig Churchill says:

    Hello, first time poster, long time reader…

    The coolest thing would be to reveal near the end that after finishing up playing Star Wars (they didn’t like the Saga Edition or something) the guys playing Sam & Frodo went back and started playing their own separate game.

    “Yeah, I hope you have more fun than we did, we just spent the last eight sessions doing nothing but walking through this place!”

    … and now I hope I didn’t ruin everything and make you rewrite your ending…

  52. Scarlet Knight says:

    Ishmael Says: Who plays Jack Sparrow, though?

    Weeell, a case could be made for Gimli simply channeling his younger days at Woodstock.
    DM: Wait! “You want to roleplay a ‘stoned’ pirate?”
    Legolas: “Cool! Can I be a Goth pirate?”
    DM: “Who ever heard of mixing Goths & pir…wait a mo’…!” *scribble , scribble*

  53. oldschoolGM says:

    Shamus, the panel with Legolas “And yet the keep falling for it… It’s hilarious” is one of your best yet. Great stuff!

  54. Dez! says:

    “A force of 100 times your number pours out”

    Another fine example of why you don’t upset the DM and kill his NPC in the middle of their “rant”.


    Thanks Again Shamus.


  55. Me says:

    LOVE IT!

    But, I wish Aragorn announced a die roll to kill the Mouth of Sauron.

  56. Tyler says:


  57. Tim says:

    The change that Aragorn kills the Mouth of Sauron is ANOTHER instance where we see that Peter Jackson is just an immature kid. You know, a nerdy 10 year old who reads LotR, greatest fantasy novel of all times, and always thinks “DUH! THAT should be better! There TOTALLY should be elves at Helm’s Deep! And why doesn’t Aragorn simply kill the Mouth of Sauron, that guy is E-VAL, he should, like, slice his head of! And WHY do the other kids laugh at me all the time?”

    Sorry for the rant. I just hate Peter Jackson for what he did to LotR, butchering the greatest opportunity ever in movie adaption since the Godfather was made. X(

  58. Daza says:

    This is my second fav edition – the first being when they offed Grima(and then the follow-up on Saroman – I count it as one edition). One of the guys in our campaigns always does something like that – even if we need the NPC alive to know what to do next… Hilarious!

  59. Browncoat says:

    I find it amusing that people are still suggesting to Shamus what to do next when he’s said that the next comic is already in production. That’s not mean-spirited, BTW. :)

    That being said, Matt’s comment (#41 – “I think you should take them through Conan the Destroyer.”) made me think–I’m not sure the next campaign will have the same DM. With how much they hate this campaign, I assumed one of the others (probably Gimli) would be at the helm next time. There are a lot of “How do you like it?” jokes that can be peppered in.

    There is a possibility that when this campaign ends that the players could discuss how cool it all was. (Quiet, now! It is too possible!) We’ve all done things that we hated at the time but look back on with a certain fondness. Camping with my family when I was growing up, for one. Well, not for all of you, of course. Very few of you probably know my family, much less went camping with them.

  60. Carter says:

    “58 Tim Says:
    August 20th, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    The change that Aragorn kills the Mouth of Sauron is ANOTHER instance where we see that Peter Jackson is just an immature kid. You know, a nerdy 10 year old who reads LotR, greatest fantasy novel of all times, and always thinks “DUH! THAT should be better! There TOTALLY should be elves at Helm's Deep!”

    …There WERE Elves at Helm’s Deep. Even in the book, unless my memory is completely incorrect.

  61. Chris Lester says:

    This makes me think of that scene in “The Gamers” where they keep shooting the Bandit King in the middle of his evil monologue. :-D

  62. michael donnelly says:

    I had a DM who would throw long, terrible monologs at us. We’d try to hack his dudes down before they could finish. He played fair — they’d only get to speak for six seconds each round.

  63. Ramplate says:

    precisely why I never write diologue – the characters want to wing it? so can I!
    Did I mention the time I killed a character on the player’s first night of AD&D ever? I turned him into a ghoul and made him chase the rest of the party up a tree… That’s what worries my players – they never know what’s gonna happen next because it’s not always written down. Muwahahaha!

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