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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. comicshorse says:

    O.K. I know we have no reason to expect another comic. But pleeeeeeeeeeeeease can we have another comic ? Anything ( but it really should be HAWK THE SLAYER)
    And no I’m pretty sure there weree no elves at Helm Deep. Though they and the dwarves were fighting Sauron’d armies elsewhere.

  2. Lycoris says:

    A true LOL from me for this one. My husband asked me what I was laughing about. XD

  3. Jim says:

    My vote for the next comic (or the one after that, since he’s already started the next one) would be all the Pirates (which – with three films – could easily run as long as this one), but I think Conan the Destroyer was much more in keeping with traditional D&D rules and such. Just think what the character playing Conan would say when his character (the MAIN character) dies!

  4. Jim says:

    No matter what the next comic is, we will all be reading. Even if it is Titanic . . .

  5. Errol says:

    I love the way Legolas’ expression shifted in 6 and 8. All smiles and then grim expression. And of course, the DM’s payback was sweet LOL I’m going to miss this when it’s over

  6. Poor Legolas, didn’t get to shoot the baddy!

    woo hoo for Pirates quote :D

  7. CyberGorth says:

    The biggest hint that we’re dealing with a novice DM is that he’s not utilizing the DMG-approved “secret die roll modifiers” to let him get what he needs to happen to happen. Oh, you’re trying to off the important talking NPC? All right, roll to hit. (Player’s roll vs bad guys’ AC with +100 dramatic speach making modifier) Sorry, you miss. He keeps talking.

  8. DesertDog says:

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

    You memory is sort of correct. There were exactly two elves at Helm’s Deep — Elrond’s sons. They were part of the contingent of Northern Rangers who showed up, all human except them.

  9. Matthias says:



    Sounds like to me the DM was only pretending to be offended over his NPC’s death. 4 pages of dialogue? After having put up with these characters (and I don’t mean the PCs) for so long? No, no … this was a complete setup from the time the Mouth came out and Boreagorn’s player fell for it! (and Legolass was standing by to…) Sure the DM was seriously metagaming against his players, but L.’s player pretty well admitted they were doing the same to him.

  10. Kristin says:

    …Dude. You forgot Legolas. He’s an Elf. He was at Helm’s Deep.

  11. Kristin says:

    And actually, Elladan and Elrohir and the rest of the Grey Company were NOT at Helm’s Deep. They showed up later, as they returned from Isengard.

    (Sorry for the double post.)

  12. ArchU says:

    Wow, the Mouth of Sauron didn’t see that one coming. Not that it has any eyes, of course…

  13. Katy says:

    The mouth of Sauron was by far the creepiest thing in all three movies.

  14. Yahzi says:

    Dang it… I liked Hawk the Slayer!


  15. Aspyre says:

    Maybe they could talk the orcs one at a time into parlay. Like the light grenade in Mom & Dad Save The World. “We’re going to need reinforcements!”

  16. brassbaboon says:

    Now the players can make the DM’s life miserable. How many miniatures does he have? What are the stats of every footsoldier and cavalry man in Gondor’s army AND Mordor’s?

    How many times is he going to have to roll those dice now? All Aragorn has to do is send his army out to meet the other army, head to the back, and tell the DM to wake him up when the gets through rolling 6,000 individual battles and finally gets through the Gondorian army where Aragorn and his buddies can turn and flee.

  17. RHJunior says:

    I have a DM who does that a lot. He plunks down an NPC who demonstrates no survival skills or common sense at all (Hi there, see the large angry heavily armed people? They want you to get to the point) who persists in his pre-scripted speech or actions no matter what the PCs say…. then he gets irritable when the PCs get fed up and maul the twerp.

    In one session, our party basically crash-landed/planeswalked into a museum of oddities. The Jobsworth there (an undead bureaucrat native to the campaign setting) refused to answer our questions, even the most basic ones, with anything but bureaucrat-ese, and kept trying to *grab one of the at-that-point immensely powerful party members and stuff him into a display case.* Jobsworths, for the record, are NOT much stronger than a commoner. Chronic failures at his grapple check, however, did not dissuade the Jobsworth from attempting this over, and over, and over again….

    The DM just couldn’t understand why my sorcerer got fed up, had his half-orc fighter cohort grab the fellow, and proceeded to interrogate him with single-syllable words (“Where…. ARE…. we?”) while the half orc twisted his limbs into bow knots….
    “That’s out of alignment!”
    “Not if he’s SNAPPED!”

  18. CourtFool says:

    I predict the current crew leave in disgust, but the DM gets the Return From Star Wars gang back. ‘Gormless and company are overwhelmed and slaughtered in a fit of DM pique, and the adventure carries on with Frodo as the star to the conclusion.

    Hey, maybe that’s the way it happened to Tolkien’s gaming group. Who knows?

  19. Kortir says:

    I love seeing Chaotic Neutral players in action. This continues to prove it.

  20. Gadush Kraun says:

    the four pages of dialogue is so true. If they talk for that long, best kill them to start with.

  21. Raved Thrad says:

    This certainly puts a new meaning to “shut up and die.”

  22. Gwen says:

    Actually, “parley” is not a French word (I’m pretty sure of that, as a french myself). But the remark is still right, anyway !

    PS : Congratulation for your great work, please keep it coming

  23. Zaxares says:

    This comic should be read by RPG players. NEVER interrupt the DM’s planned speech, villain exposition, or similar rambling dialogue. It will end badly for you. Trust me. :P

  24. John says:

    Jim: In your movie list, you left off what has to be the best worst fantasy epic of all time – “Hawk, The Slayer

    HOW DARE YOU. Hawk is just one of the coolest movies ever. It has some of the best one-liners in it.
    I got the special edition that was released a few months back. Nice background on the whole 5 film epic they were trying to make. Sequel is supposed to be on the cards.

    As for the comic, it is kinda odd when as GM you go off on a huge NPC ‘boxed text’ ramble. Reeks of “bad-guy-spilling the whole tale cos u r going to die anyway Mr Bond”.

    We all do it DM’s i guess, but does often seem odd


  25. Alex says:

    Maybe the DM gets mad and decides that since Gollum got offed, then there’s nobody to stop Frodo from putting on the ring, so then the Nazgul grab him three minutes later. Sauron wins and nobody lives happily ever after.

  26. Phil says:

    –“Actually, “parley” is not a French word (I'm pretty sure of that, as a french myself).”

    Yes and no. Dictionary says “Parley” comes from Middle English but that in turn came from the Old French “parlee”, from “parler”, to talk (as it still is in modern French, as in “parlez vous francais?”). Which in turn came from Latin roots that you can look up for yourself if you really want to know!

    So no it’s not a French word but it does come from or at least via them.

  27. Alexis says:

    Best one for a while, Shamus. Eight stars.

  28. Phill says:

    Anyone who says that “Hawk the Slayer” is the worst fantasy film of all time obviously hasn’t seen “Ladyhawke” (with Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer no less). (Although a special “worst fantasy” mention has to go to Schwarzneggers “She’s dead!” line from “Red Sonja”).

    And since this is my first post, I have to add: excellent work Shamus. Utterly hilarious, and had me crying with laughter at work numerous times, much to the bemusement of my colleagues (and later my wife, when re-reading at home…)

  29. Steve says:

    Whatever you do Shamus, DON’T MESS WITH CONAN! I warn you…

  30. Browncoat says:

    77 Katy Says: The mouth of Sauron was by far the creepiest thing in all three movies.

    Things in LOTR that were creepier than The Mouth of Sauron:

    1) The look Frodo gives Sam at the end of FOTR and used with great aplomb by Shamus in Episode XLII, Frame 6.
    2) Any other of a hundred different facial expressions used by Frodo (actually one expression used 100 times). It’s a shame, because Elijah was a cute kid.
    3) The soup that Eowyn made, and I didn’t even have to taste it.
    4) The idea of dwarf women. Eveyone knows dwarves just spring up from the ground.
    5) The thousand-legger-bugger crawling on Frodo when the first Death Eater comes upon them on their way out of Hobbiton (near Farmer Maggot’s).
    6) Barliman Butterbur’s gout.
    7) The excess collagen in Liv Tyler’s upper lip. (I know I’m in a minority here, but I have no idea why guys find her attractive, and Shamus, I’m sorry–I know I probably just started a fight that will explode the size of this thread, but it has to be said.
    8) Deagol. That kid freaked me out.

    I’m tapped. Anybody have any others?

  31. Browncoat says:

    Nice. When you type the number eight and then a right parenthesis, you get 8), which wasn’t what I wanted.

    Also, they weren’t Death Eaters. They were Naz-Ghouls.

  32. Browncoat says:

    [shakes head] Sure. Now it does what I wanted before…

  33. JC says:

    “No matter what the next comic is, we will all be reading. Even if it is Titanic . . ”

    …annnnnd I need everyone to give me ANOTHER swim check roll.

  34. Midrealm_DM says:

    Phill Says: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1280#comment-75163
    > Anyone who says that “Hawk the Slayer” is the worst fantasy film of all time obviously hasn't seen “Ladyhawke” (with Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer no less). (Although a special “worst fantasy” mention has to go to Schwarzneggers “She's dead!” line from “Red Sonja”).

    Depends on how you qualify ‘Worst’
    I think Hawk is bad, but in a good way, I would call it worse than Ladyhawk and Sonja. Both of which were ok, but not oustanding, neither of the later really grabed the attention like a really good, or really bad movie does.
    The group I D&D with often ridicule Hawk the Slayer and reccomend seeing it to other people _Because it is so bad_ and a film that is bad enough to be recomended for being that bad can’t be all bad.

  35. Thenodrin says:

    There is really no such thing as a “good” fantasy movie. Every fantasy movie will forever be compared to fantasy literature, and will therefore fall short.

    How many people complain that Jackson “butchered” LotR, for example?

    The problem is that most fantasy fans are very specific and, let’s face it, pedantic about fantasy. If the magic nimbulos isn’t the right shade of orange, the whole story has been comprimised.

    I have one friend who refuses to see Stardust because he claims that “stars aren’t people” and therefore the fantasy movie doesn’t make sense to him.

    But, is that any sillier than the shapechanging premise of Ladyhawke? Or Westley’s return from “nearly dead” in Princess Bride?

    You really can’t pick a “good” fantasy movie. There are just different levels of “bad” depending on the people you are talking to. Because all of them fall short somewhere, and anything less than perfection will forever be labled as “the worst ever” by self-proclaimed fans.


  36. Margaret says:

    Legolass; Parleley, parlelellyleloooo, par le nee, partner, par… snip, parsley…
    Aragon: Parley. Damn to the depths whatever man what thought of “Parley”!
    Gimli: That would be the French.


  37. Laura says:

    I’ve just heard of this comic and spent the last day reading it up until now. I love it!
    It brought back sooooo many memories of my RPG group playing AD&D, D&D 3rd Edition and Star Wars, we had awesome campaigns in all three, and had group members acting just like the PC’s here in the comic. Makes me want to play again.

  38. Caveman says:

    No corpse, you are right, Gollum Lives! (As a game store owner I should have not been so naive) Can’t wait to see how it all plays out. BRILLIANT!

  39. Joel D says:

    On a largely unrealted note, the D&D 4th edition Players Handbook will come out in May, the Monster Manual in June, and the DM Guide in July. That is all.

  40. Qurqriish Dragon says:

    Actually, with Gollum gone, Sam and Frodo may never have even made it into Mordor. The DM can literally do anything with those two. Although it is too late to have Faramir actually have taken the Ring. But I think Frodo would have tried to go through the front gate of Mordor, wouldn’t he? Maybe the DM could make it that Frodo *IS* the mouth of Sauron, having long since given in to the ring, since Gollum’s presence wasn’t a continuing reminder of the dangers… :-)

  41. Scarlet Knight says:

    #95 Browncoat Says:”… Liv Tyler… (I know I'm in a minority here, but I have no idea why guys find her attractive”

    Did you see how she looked in Aragorn’s palantir in episode CII. That is one HOT…um, elf!

  42. roxysteve says:

    Joel D Says:
    On a largely unrealted note, the D&D 4th edition Players Handbook will come out in May, the Monster Manual in June, and the DM Guide in July. That is all.

    D&DHammer 40k. I look forward to a never-ending slew of Codex:Compleat Mage etc.


  43. Caveman says:

    Liv Tyler, yum. nuff said.

  44. RobbieRob says:

    Ah, you all discuss how the PCs changes the history from the Lord of the Rings story, but you forget that this is not a roleplay based on LOTR. It is some parallell universe where a poor GM has created a world that happens to look quite like LOTR, but that is hidden from us. What we see is how the players makes the story take strange directions that moreor less follows the book. I love that meta aspect of this story. For instance how the hobbits tired of the game, and the GM had to rationalize that by sending them off on some hopeless errand by themselves – just as in the book. That’s brilliant.

    • WJS says:

      No, he always planned for them to go their separate ways. Episode XLII: “No! You’re ruining everything! You didn’t visit Amon Hen yet! You’re not supposed to leave for a couple more pages…”

      So no, the breaking of the fellowship wasn’t a reaction to their leaving, he always planned to split the party. And run three games at once, I guess?

  45. Jochi says:

    There are lots of other movies that belong in the list:
    The Magic Sword — old, and really bad, but a great group of PCs that get killed off obligingly.
    Dragonslayer — short on PCs but perfect D&D.
    Masters of the Universe
    Labyrinth — one PC to start but it works up to four, one with a war dog
    Blood of Heroes — another great bunch of PCs
    and the series that would be nearly as much fun as Depp’s Pirates: Evil Dead and Army of Darkness
    And as to who will play Jack Sparrow — that kind of over-the-top play has to go to the current GM while Gimli’s player becomes the new GM.
    And if Shamus is already doing the next series, none of what I just said will hurt anything.

  46. Scarlet Knight says:

    Along with “Legend” (with Tom Cruise & Tim Curry), don’t forget another Billy Barty favorite: “Willow” with Val Kilmer.

  47. superfluousk says:

    > 4) The idea of dwarf women. Eveyone knows dwarves just spring up from the ground.

    I beg to differ on the idea that the idea of dwarf women is creepy.

    Exhibit A: http://pics.livejournal.com/mikkeneko/pic/000btpaq

  48. capitain says:

    @95 browncoat
    I´m with you on the Tyler-dilemma.
    I´d like to add the homoerotic Sam-Frodo-complex to the creepy list as well as the Hobbit-peasants´ wife at the very beginning (“you have been officially labeled a disturber of peace…” shortly after Gandalf lights a small firework for the kids -this poor Hobbit would have gone through Part I-III without flinching and then be dragged, screaming, back home).

    With so many different potential outcomes… why not make a list. Just like: in the cart/pulling the cart/too blind to see the cart ;)

    Just call it “steal the ring/sell the ring/loose the ring”
    -If you like add a gollum-revenant to the list.
    But I´d prefer him to stay dead. That really got me. I laughed for two hours straight, had my muscles aching for days and still look it up after a gloomy day.

  49. Frankie D. says:

    Bilbo Bagshot: I once punched a guy out for saying that “Hawk the Slayer” was rubbish.

    Tim Bisley: Good for you.

    Bilbo Bagshot: Yeah, thanks. But that’s not the point, Tim. The point is I was defending the fantasy genre with terminal intensity, when what I should have said was “Dad, you’re right, but let’s give Krull a try and we’ll discuss it later.”

  50. comicshorse says:

    SPACED, right ?
    And Liv Tyler is okay but Cathe Blanchett is much cuter

  51. Tormuse says:

    I can’t BELIEVE that this last issue of the comic has only been up a day and already has 115 comments! :o It’s a tribute to how popular your work is, Shamus! :)

    I started reading these comics from the beginning a week ago and I’m finally caught up; They’re so funny, they’re addictive!

    I love Aragorn’s line: “Oh, now I’m REALLY glad I killed him.” :D

  52. Maverick says:

    Reminds me of ‘Um..parley?’ earlyer in the comic. =D
    May i ask what your going to do when you get to the end of this Shamus? You ARE going to do another comic, right?

  53. Prince_Shadri says:

    reading your strips reminds me of my players Shamus… one of them opened a pub in the middle of a siege. the other one was caught by a bunch of guys (they never remembered the names so I stopped caring) that ruled the same city that was under sieged because he was lying about being a demon (he fooled them pretty good) and this town… kinda hated demons. so they went like executed him.
    my third jumped of a cliff trying to prove to me that he could do what he wanted in the campaign since something would save him by magic anyway.
    oh, the guy who opened the pub got killed when the soldiers broke through the gates… and he KNEW that he was the only one who had the powers to stop them, but he didn’t because he tried to prove the save thing as the guy who jumped…

    anyway, keep up the good job. love your comic!!

  54. Jim says:

    Oooo, Legend and Willow! Those would both be good!

    A lot of Hawk the Slayer fans out there. Good! Plan 9 From Outerspace needs competition.

  55. Self 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.”

    Your rant is true and it’s not, since Peter Jackons is not, as such, responsible for the stupid changes in the story, since he didn’t actually write the script.

    It was his wife and her friend (also female). PJ just directed that crap. (Of course he could’ve stated different opinions, but then again, maybe he did and the original scripts were actually MUCH WORSE. Who knows.)

    But basicly it just shows you how little the Hollywood production machine cares about the. “Oh the director suggested that HIS WIFE AND HER FRIEND can do the script for ONE OF THE BIGGEST MOVIE PRODUCTIONS EVER, which is an adaptation of one of the most iconic and best known adventure novels in the history of literature. So, that’s one problem solved. Next point, Liv Tyler’s hot, could we fit her in somewhere?”

    My first post here, thanks to Shamus.

  56. roxysteve says:

    At the risk of drawing fire, Peter Jackson’s version of Lord of the Rings wasn’t bad at all from where I sit. For those who believe it was, I offer up the previous Hollywood versions of LOTR and The Hobbit for comparison.

    I don’t believe this trilogy deserves the vast majority of casual vitriol it gets, especially here. Let’s face it, No Jackson LOTR, no DMotR.

    I possess several versions of this story. Books, radio plays (on tape), films. I have to say that the Jackson movies represent the version I am most likely to revisit in the near future.


  57. Jochi says:

    Steve’s right to say Jackson’s version isn’t bad compared to its forerunners, like Bakshi’s. That one (covered roughly books 1-3) was so foul he never got to do the second half of the story.

    I always felt his rep outweighed his product — “Fritz the Cat” was awful, too. I did rather like “Wizards”, but could have done without the allusions to Nazi newsreels being the Fount of All Evil.

    “Wizards” and “Fire and Ice” are the only two things he ever did I’ll watch more than twice. At least that I can think of right now.

  58. Scarlet Knight says:

    I agree with Roxysteve & Jochi that Jackson doesn’t deserve all that bashing. When the day is done, he probably made the greatest (or second best) trilogy in movie history, with only “the Godfather” & the original “Star Wars” as competition.

    I must disagree about the Hobbit. I LOVED the cartoon Hobbit & would never have read Tolkien if it wasn’t for that cartoon.

    Now everybody sing with me: ” The greaaatest adventurrre…”

  59. comicshorse says:

    ” And that’s when I shot him, your Honour .”

  60. xbolt says:

    Another NPC bites the dust!

  61. Aries says:

    i cant help but feel the sentence ‘honestly his i was just trying to swat a fly…with my sword…and his head just kinda fell off Mr new diplomat sir…now er…parlay…or i may just try to swat that rather large insect buzzing rather unfortunitly by your neck too’ my just trip of Aragorn’s lips during the next potential talks

  62. Jim says:

    I liked Ladyhawke. It was the best example of a Thief/Acrobat ever! The worst fantasy film ever made was Dungeons & Dragons, which is odd because the second Dungeons & Dragons film was pretty good.
    Who suggested Evil Dead II? That’s just wrong. I think Shamus would have his Geek Card revoked if he lambasted a film as great as that. Besides, there aren’t enough characters.

  63. brassbaboon says:

    Wow, 128 posts and counting.

    I too laugh when self-proclaimed experts rag on Peter Jackson and LOTR. I am as much a LOTR fan as anyone, I have yet to meet anyone who has read the books as many times as I have (about 40 now, and counting), so I think my LOTR fan credentials are pretty solid.

    The movie is not perfect, but it is far better than I hoped it would be when I heard Peter Jackson was making it. The special effects were phenomenal, the acting was much better than is acknowledged, and the script is a fairly true to the spirit story. I only have three specific complaints, otherwise I think it was just about as good as it could have been.

    Here are the complaints:

    1. Frodo never should have turned on Sam, and Sam never should have turned back, even for an instant. That is so antithetical to the story that it more or less subverts the entire purpose for the Sam-Frodo relationship in the book. This is by far the worst part of the movies, and the only part that actually angered me when it happened.

    2. Faramir should never have agreed, even for a moment, to take the ring to Denathor. Faramir was one of the most noble and pure characters in the book, “in him the blood of the Numenorians still ran true” as Tolkien says (or words to that effect.) This didn’t anger me so much as saddened me.

    3. Frodo was played too much as a wimp, instead of the true hero he was in the book. Of course it is hard to demonstrate the kind of heroism Frodo had, but it was the key to the whole story. The whole point of having Frodo be the destined one to save the world was that no matter how small, a noble heart can change the world. In the book the nobility shone through, but in the movie Frodo just came across as a whiny little wimp.

    Other than that, I was absolutely stunned by the movie. Anyone who cannot give Jackson his due for turning one of the greatest works of written literature into one of the greatest works of cinematic literature simply needs to revisit their perspective on things.

    Ladyhawk wasn’t a bad movie. It had some clever moments. Dungeons and Dragons (the first) had pretty decent special effects, but was plain stupid. HOWEVER, it is rich in the sort of screen caps that Shamus would need to make a great parody.

    I haven’t seen Dragonheart mentioned. That wasn’t bad, and it has some pretty good visuals.

    But if I had to pick one movie that I think could be made into a role-playing game parody of similar proportion to DM of the Rings, I’d have to pick Bladerunner.

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