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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. brassbaboon says:

    Oh… And Cate Blanchette compared to Liv Tyler?


  2. Jeff says:

    One of the problems with DMing online is players that don’t know when to shut the hell up.

    Dialog is ok, in that due to the nature of things we expect desynchronization, but for the love of bob, wait until the bloody DM has explained the situation before doing anything!
    Better to be slow than quick, because you can blame slow on the DM.

    DM: The Great Doors of MacGuffin rumbleopen, revealing a large cavern. Fifty feet wide, a bridge stretches forward.
    Player 1: I run forward!
    DM: At the far side of the bridge, fully a hundred and twenty feet away, the bridge connects to the castle of the dark warlord.
    Player 1: I scream battle cries and draw my sword!
    DM: Forty feet ahead, you the an army of fire elementals you’ve been tracking marching in your direction, dominated by the warlord.
    Player 1: Oh crap, I jump over the edge!
    DM: Sixty feet below the bridge, you see the large lake of lava that surrounds the castle.
    Player 1: Wait, what?
    Player 2: Ok, we use the Sphere of MacGuffin to close the doors again.
    Player 3: And then Rod of MacGuffin to reseal it.
    Player 2: That should hold him for a thousand years, right?
    DM: Yup.
    Player 3: Now we need to head to Castle McDoom to raise that army of water elementals…
    Player 1: Wait, what about me?
    DM: You take 2d6 per round, fire damage. And roll swimming to keep from drowning in lava.

  3. Jeff says:

    Oh wait, that should be 20d6. Clearly I’m not suited to run that adventure…

  4. WheatKing says:

    I can’t wait until the finale. The players are walking out on the DM and so the DM just makes the ring get suddenly destroyed killing the whole army with an earthquake that goes around the party!

  5. Doug Williams says:

    Legolas’ face is perfect when he says “He’s right too!”

  6. Phil says:

    –“Although a special “worst fantasy” mention has to go to Schwarzneggers “She's dead!” line from “Red Sonja”).”

    Red Sonja… Hm, wasn’t that the film where they find a chasm spanned by a giant lizard skeleton? So our hero (or heroine, I can’t remember who did this) warily sets foot on the “bridge” to see if it holds the weight of a man. Which it does.

    So they promptly lead the horses over it… :-)

  7. Phil says:

    –“I´d like to add the homoerotic Sam-Frodo-complex to the creepy list”

    I may not have the wording exact, but I’m pretty sure that the line “Sam held Frodo close and comforted him with his body” may be found in Vol III of the book… :-)

  8. Tola says:

    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.

    I question this.

    Denethor is clearly utterly desperate in the scene where he’s asking Boromir to get the Ring. Hell, most of Gondor seems desperate in the movie-they’re not grimly standing against the tide, like the books.

    What’s wrong with wanting to please his father(Who is far more of an ass) and perhaps WIN this war?

    It’s not clear in the movie-verse just how much of the nature of the One Ring is known to Gondor. Denethor calls it ‘the weapon of the Enemy’. That’s only part of the story, as we know.

    • WJS says:

      That’s one thing I never got about the ring. I can understand Gandalf and Galadriel being tempted by it – they’re both powerful magic users. But why would it hold such great appeal for the men or the hobbits? If I held the ring, I can easily imagine seeking to use it for good – then immediately realising I have no clue whatsoever how to use it, for good or personal gain. A weapon you don’t know how to use is worthless. That just leaves giving it to someone who does know how to use it, which would not sate any greed or lust for power it could instil even if they would accept it.

  9. Tola says:

    I may not have the wording exact, but I'm pretty sure that the line “Sam held Frodo close and comforted him with his body” may be found in Vol III of the book…

    Perhaps, but consider this: as a child, didn’t you need to be held by your mother when some pain was too much? Just held, and comforted, maybe rocked a bit, till you felt better?

    …It’s a sign of the times. NOTHING is innocent anymore. People can’t even shake hands without wondering if they appear homosexual.

  10. Tola says:

    Ah, and one more thing.


    Parodies of all three movies. They hit their mark fairly well.

  11. roxysteve says:

    [Brassbabboon re: Bladerunner] Now there was a movie that carved the original story so badly it was almost unrecognisable.

    Didn’t say I didn’t like it, though. It just isn’t a “movie version of the book”. Where is the central crisis that starts the story and forms the main theme? Where the explanaition of why the owl is so desirable as a bribe?

    In point of fact, I actually prefer the voice-over version of BR, a choice that has had me labelled as the Skiffy Tw*t of the Month by fellow netscribblers despite the fact I’ve read DADoES? several times.

    “Retirement” is too good for them.


  12. Luke (Thrythlind) says:

    Scarlet Knight, I agree on The Hobbit, it was great (own it)…though Return of the King by the Rankin-Bass group was…horrid (Still own it)…and, of course there was the Bakshi movie (own it)…

    and I would put LotR, Back to the Future and The Man With No Name spaghetti westerns up top myself, though the third isn’t really a set of connected stories…oh well

  13. roxysteve says:

    25 minutes to go. Gibbering with antici…pation!


  14. Browncoat says:

    @ comicshorse #115) and brassbaboon (129)

    Because I don’t let things go easily:
    I agree that Cate is better looking than Liv, but mostly because I find Liv in the vicinity of ugly. It’s clear to all those who agree with me that Miranda Otto (Eowyn) was, by far, the best looking girl in the movies.

  15. brassbaboon says:


    Um… OK, I guess we all have our own ideas of what is beautiful and what is ugly, but I feel pretty sure that the vast majorities of males find Liv Tyler more attractive than Cate Blanchett and Cate Blanchett more attractive than Mirand Otto.

    • WJS says:

      Translation: “I’m right and you’re wrong, based on statistics I just pulled out my arse”?

      I’m not going to bother arguing what is indeed personal preference, but seriously, speaking on behalf of “the vast majority of males” is just pointlessly presumptuous.

  16. Scarlet Knight says:

    In the books, Gimli argued with (I believe) Eomer as to whether Galadriel was more beautiful than Arwen. I guess we’re just keeping up the tradition.

    #141 Luke (Thrythlind): “Back to the Future” ahead of the “Indiana Jones” trio? For shame!

  17. JSM3050 says:

    I gotta agee with Browncoat in #143. I’m not usually one for blonds but I’m willing to make an exception in this case. Besides, everyone (for whatever reason) always wants the Elves. Less competition and just as good-looking if you go for the Human. :D

  18. jabbers says:

    casualty count is pointless the orcs are innumerable.

  19. M. Scott Eiland says:

    Liv Tyler and Miranda Otto are both gorgeous, and well cast for the roles as written (Arwen as written in the book could have been portrayed in the movie by a cardboard cutout without much loss of depth). As for Cate Blanchett as Galadriel. . .actresses who are well over six feet tall, possessed of unearthly beauty, and with a force of personality that would make Angelina Jolie look like a shrinking violet are rather scarce on the ground. Ultimately, the greatest essential in portraying Galadriel was to make sure she seemed to be a larger-than life figure, and Cate Blanchett–who had finished playing Elizabeth I not long before–was a rather decent choice to that end, IMO.

  20. mocking bird says:

    Gimly: Great. You get to do all the talking up front and have a high dex, Leggylass has a bow, I am never going to get into combat again surrounded by all these kill stealers.

  21. Gathar says:

    Actually, the french translation for parlay is pourparlers. It is always a plural noun, and etymologically comes from “in order to speak”.

    By the way, I discovered this site today, an I will post this url to all my fellow roleplayers…

  22. Panther says:

    To answer themovie list question, Dungeons and Dragons would be good! A little more designed as a hopefully not too stupid campaign from the get-go than LOTR, maybe, but well-known to us fantasy fans!

  23. Firien wood says:


    i considered reading it again, but realized it would be a hilarious, but painful way to committ seppuku…….
    the whole thing was TOO funny….even the n+1 thing for how many comments there are……
    well off to committ seppuku now…..Heeheeeehee….

  24. scadian says:

    31 GEBIV:
    August 20th, 2007 at 12:57 pm
    Hmm… I'm starting to feel an “Orcs crush your army. You're all dead.” ending here…

    “Orcs fall. Everyone dies.”

  25. Garscow says:

    Shouldn’t that be: “Parley” is the French word for we are flat-footed and bare-handed”?

    Or possibly: “Parley” is the German word for “everyone else is flat-footed and bare-handed”.

  26. Toil3T says:

    “”Parley” is the French word for “everyone else is flat-footed and bare-handed”.”
    I’m gonna use that quote. I’ll give you the credit you’re due, and point people at this comic.

  27. Cynder says:

    All this ‘parlay’ buisness reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean :)

    I love this part of RotK – it’s so random and funny. XD

    Mouth of Sauron: My master, Sauron the Great, bids thee welcome *grins*

    I didn’t get it when he grinned. :P

  28. LotR Fan says:

    This is so awesome!

  29. Morambar says:

    Another example of how movie Aragorn isn’t fit to wipe book Aragorns boots (and shouldn’t even be trusted with them unless closely watched…. ) First he strings Eowyn along just because Arwen’s in Rivendell and Jackson needs a Love interest for the teeny-boppers, then he kills unarmed diplomats in the middle of parley.

    Quick, without thinking, tell me who the “bad guys” are again….

    And I agree with the view of explaining the changes the same way I do: I’m not sure the guys running this show have read the books…. ;-p

  30. bigstop says:

    Hello, discovering your marvellous work now. And really enjoying it. I just wanted to confirm that Parley is a pure English word. It does not exist in French. Parley is however coming from the verb “parlementer” in French, i.e. to argue things over (and ironically close to the word parlement which is translated into parliament in English).

  31. ERROR says:

    Just so I know, in the last panel, who’s speaking besides the DM? I can’t tell…

  32. serenitybane says:

    The last frame for Legolas was perfectly perfect. He looked like he was going to cry hehehehee XD

  33. Skywise says:

    Funny as heck!!!

  34. Robin says:

    I agree with brassbaboon (#128) that it’s mostly a great movie, and I also agree with the things he finds wrong with it. But the greatest thing wrong with it is when Legolas (at Isengard) and Aragorn (at the Gates of Mordor) choose to become murderers. Killing somebody during a parley isn’t an act of war; it’s murder. No army would follow such a king; no neighbors would sign a treaty with such a king.

    When Theoden was released from his bondage to Saruman, he had much more reason to hate Wormtongue than Legolas ever did, but he didn’t have him put to death; he just exiled him. Theoden should have had Legolas tried as a war criminal.

    (Furthermore, I can’t imagine anybody stupid enough to begin his reign by convincing the world to *never* talk to him or trade with him, as Aragorn did by murdering the Mouth of Sauron.)

  35. Ed says:

    This is my third read-through of this strip, and I’ve got to say: this is my favorite page out of the whole, awesome thing.

    “And yet they keep falling for it! It’s hilarious!” is as funny today as it was a couple of years ago :-)

  36. Tachi says:

    Love that screen cap in frame seven, Aragorn looks nuts, hair all wild… he looks like he snorted an ounce of meth 3 days ago and hasn’t looked in a mirror since…

  37. Puschkin says:

    The face expressions of legolas and Aragorn are exceptionally fitting and hilarious in this!

  38. Spike says:

    You have the extended version of the movies don’t you, Shamus?

  39. Nami says:


    Ahhh, WOW, just, WOW, Legolas… that should so be a quote for a Chaotic Evil character, instead…
    and yet, it somehow makes it funnier coming for him. XD
    The expression helps, btw. You are amazing with the screen caps, I gotta say. Especially the excited Legolas ones.

  40. […] would take the campaign in a direction like this. However, when your players tend to roleplay like this, it’s hard to imagine such an […]

  41. Nacata says:

    Um, not to be rude, but what the heckaddy is parlay?

    • WJS says:

      Basically the principle is that before a battle, the respective leaders meet to see if there is the possibility of not having a battle after all. If you start killing them during this time, they will start skipping it and going straight to the battle, and you will no longer have the option. Even if you have a bigger army, it’s still better to avoid battles where possible if you want your army to remain bigger.

  42. Daniel B says:

    “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”

    Great idea, that’s how it should be done IMO.

    “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.”

    That’s a good way to handle it also.

  43. Another useful article again. Thanks.

  44. Septis says:

    Don’t tell me the odds

  45. Septis says:

    Parley good sir?

  46. mrbenz says:

    I just reading this starting this year.
    I know it’s kinda late, but I just want to say that this feels so similar with what I experienced.

    I just started my GMing journey, and when my players attends the Royal Court and saw the King who secretly evil, one of them suddenly stood and cast a spell in the middle of King’s speech. I was dumbfounded but realized now that sooner or later this kind of things will happen if I decided to become a GM.

    It’s just… I can feel the DM feeling now :(

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  1. By Sidebar: Temptation | Third Edition House Rules on Sunday Apr 24, 2011 at 11:54 am

    […] would take the campaign in a direction like this. However, when your players tend to roleplay like this, it’s hard to imagine such an […]

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