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DMotR Special 4:
Let’s Go Crazy

By Shamus
on Friday Aug 24, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


Today is my birthday. I’m skipping regular DMotR. There is a reason for this.

Denethor, you are one crazy steward.

The first pic is not a photoshop. I was stepping through the movie looking for suitable screencaps, and this frame just jumped out at me. Gandalf just rode by these guys, but here is this moment where it looks like he stopped to drop a few coppers on the doorward.

The second shot is a notorious moment from the movies, where aging Denethor jumps up, runs upstairs, and then sprints the length of a football field while on fire.

Comments (135)

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  1. Nikle says:

    Great stuff, enjoy your birthday!

  2. Silversmith says:

    Happy Birthday. Brilliant finds.

  3. Isoyami says:

    Happy Birthday!

    The Gandalf shot was a great find… I want to go look for it myself now. :D

  4. AmazingUrre says:

    Happy Birthday!
    DM of the Ring is great, i love it.
    These jokes are overwhelming.

  5. Wraithshadow says:

    For what it may be worth, he did have on a very heavy cloak. Like, exceedingly heavy. Double layer of hide armor heavy.

  6. jperk31260 says:

    Happy Birtday

    Is today your Eleventy first birthday by any chance?

    Anyway happy birthday.

  7. elda says:


    awsome screencaps as usual.

  8. Bill says:

    Happy Birthday! And thanks for the great website!

  9. Jochi says:

    Yes, have a happy birthday, enjoy your family, and thanks for the humor above.

    We’ll just wait over here arguing about old literature. I think I’ll try to get something hot and heavy started over “The Prince” today …

  10. Griffhell says:

    Ha, this one made me laugh! Happy birthday dude!

  11. Griffhell says:

    Ha! This one made me laugh. Happy birthday dude!

  12. bobo-con-queso says:

    happy birthday sir,and thanks again for this great comic.another winner. p.s. whoo-hoo 11th post or double first as i ike to think of it

  13. Tim says:

    Happy Birthday!

    And Denethor was the second-most fucked-over charakter in the movie adaptation, behind Gimli but close before Faramir. Only a butcher like Jackson with the grace, style and niveau of a spoiled 11-year-old could have turned a desperate, bitter but ultimately noble and great man into a despisable, stupid, spiteful wretch of a man with manners to shame an orc… *chokesonhisownrage*

  14. bobo-con-queso says:

    damn!!!!! i missed the 11th post

  15. Lyriel says:

    Happy Birthday! Thanks for such an entertaining read – I’ve been enioying them immensely.

  16. Sally says:

    Tim said: And Denethor was the second-most fucked-over charakter in the movie adaptation, behind Gimli but close before Faramir.

    Uhhh… have to disagree here. Can I get an Eomer, what what?

    Happy birthday, Shamus!

  17. M says:

    DM: Okay, the horse made his Knockdown check…you’re on your back.

    Denethor: Wait, wasn’t there a burning pyre right behind me? Ohhh…crap.

    DM: Oh yeah…*rolls* your cloak ignites!

    Denethor: CRAP! Okay, okay…no water…maybe there’s water outside! I’m gonna jump up off the pyre and head for the door!

    DM: While you’re on fire…? Okay, I guess you can try that. Make a Con check for half damage.

    Denethor: Hey, 20! Sweet!

    DM: …okay. You’re running…everyone else is too shocked by you running away while ignited…*rolls fire damage, dice all come up 1’s*

    Denethor: Am I outside?

    DM: Yes…and you’re on fire. There’s nothing there but the tree and a few startled guards.

    Denethor: CRAP again! *rolls Con check* hey, 18! Okay, okay…I’ll look for the quickest way down! They’ve got to have water down in the city proper.

    DM: The quickest way? …are you sure? *rolls fire damage, gets three 1’s and a 2* Stupid dice.

    Denethor: Yeah! I really don’t wanna be on fire anymore. Quickest way down it is!

    DM: …okay. In panic, you sprint to the edge of the cliff…and jump off.

    Denethor: HEY! What the-?

    DM: You fall down the hundreds of feet from the very peak of Gondor, the rush of air feeding the flames. Much too far a fall to conceivably survive, even if you WEREN’T an old man. And on fire.

    Denethor: Oh, come on! Don’t I at least get a Dex check?

    DM: …yeah, sure.

    Denethor: *rolls* Hahah, 20! Take that, DM!

    DM: Okay, okay…you manage land in a well. You’re not on fire anymore. Just squished.

  18. Caius says:

    Happy Birthday!

    The running bothered me too. If you can run that far to jump off the cliff, why can’t he run that far to a water fountain?

  19. George says:

    haha i konw a lot of birthdays today, its my girls birthday today too….

  20. Oh, I wish it were only the length of a football field. He actually runs the entire length of the city before plunging off that cliff.


    Justin Alexander

  21. Vinchenze says:

    Happy birthday, if i’m late sorry if not… COOL!

  22. Invictus says:

    Feliz cumpleanos! Many happy returns, sir! Now, stop just sitting around claiming it’s your birthday and get back to the comic, dammit! ;) (Enjoy your break, dude. With the regular schedule you keep and the recent surgery, I believe a respite is due. Have a slice o’ cake for me!)

  23. Caveman says:

    Happy B-day, Hope you have many more!

  24. Scarlet Knight says:

    Many Happy Returns of the Day!

    I think it was Denethor who said on his birthday (while shaking the presents): “What I wouldn’t give for a holocaust cloak…”

  25. Lodrelhai says:

    Happy birthday!

    Have to say, a friend sent me a link to this on Wednesday and I’ve been reading through the archive every chance I get since. This is absolute gold! I’m only sorry to be coming in so late in the game.

    Enjoy your day, and many more of them to come!

  26. Ramplate says:

    happy birthday

  27. The Gneech says:

    Denethor: “Get me! I’m the beacon of Amon Dîn! — Ohcraprailing!”

    -The Gneech

  28. Calalene says:

    Happy Birthday!

  29. Atanamir says:

    In the words of Richard Pryor, “When you run down the street and you’re on fire, folks will get out of your way.” Seriously, I hated the way they changed Denethor’s death in the movie. Especially since it was such a cool scene in the book, what with the revelation of the Palantir of Minas Anor and all. I’m also of the opinion that Denethor should have been played by Patrick Stewart.

  30. Arbaal says:

    Happy Birthday Shamus!

  31. Larch says:


    24 in august is the best date for a birthday since I have too :P

  32. Stev says:

    Happy birthday Shamus!
    I have been a huge fan of DMotR for a few months now and it’s just been a really fun ride thus far. I hope you have a good birthday and many more after.

  33. Aaron says:

    Happy B-day Shamus! I just celebrated my 5th Annual 29th B-day 12 days ago. Which annual 29th B-day are you on?

  34. Mattingly says:

    Gandalf: “Here’s an extra copper if you pick up the mess my horse just made.”

  35. roxysteve says:

    Yeah, the “Chariots of Fire” moment almost killed the movie for me too. I found myself wondering if they had to keep relighting him as he made his way to the prow of the cliff.


  36. Dannerman says:

    M; That was brilliant. +1 to you.

  37. Proteus says:

    Happy birthday & have a good one!

  38. Clyde says:

    Happy birthday, Shamus. I’ve been along for the ride almost since the beginning, when Steven Den Beste linked to DMotR from his blog last September (?). I must say, I’ve enjoyed your comics immensely and I’ll be kind of sad when this comes to an end.

  39. -Chipper says:

    I think you all misunderstood Jackson’s approach to the character in your rush to condemn his version of Denethor. He actually repented at the end there after he was knocked into the pyre, and realized that he just had moments left of his life, so he did the most he could for the war effort by jumping while flaming into the enemy. I think Jackson’s editing failed him there – they forgot to include the shot of Denethor landing with a smile in that group of surprised orcs.

  40. Aries says:

    YAY! congratulations, and many many happy returns…now have a beer, fall over, have a hanover and get back the the comic…i wanna see Aragorn smished

    ….just kidding, happy birthday and enjoy your day

  41. Little Gen says:

    Happy B-day tooo yooooou… no, not singing. Definitely not.

    Nice screencaps… you didn’t manage to see exactly what the toll was? XD

  42. Every time I see that scene, I always think, “Look, it’s Richard Pryor!”

  43. Vegedus says:

    I don’t blame him for running. It’s not like it’s the most logical action to stand still and burn while immense pain wallows over your senses.

  44. Naleem says:

    What the..? Today is my birthday too O_O I was really shocked when I checked your site today.

    Anyways, enjoy yours, and have fun ^^

  45. Maverick says:

    Dm: Ok, roll on the Age chart
    Shamus: *Rolls*
    Dm: Your now one year older, your birthday is today.
    Shmaus: Sweet! New armour and weapons off the teammates!
    Dm: *Rolls* A cake apears out of no-where.
    Shamus: I love dice on my Birthday.

    Happy birthday shamus, have a great one!

  46. bugsysservant says:

    Happy Birthday! May your first grandchild be a masculine one!
    Oh wait, that’s for weddings…
    (Identify the source for a cookie)

  47. ladylabyrinth says:

    bugsysservant: That’s an offer I can’t refuse ;)

  48. bugsysservant says:

    Yay!!! Cookies for all!!!

  49. GEBIV says:

    For a moment, I thought the second picture was Gandalf’s reaction to being told he didn’t have correct change…

  50. Dan says:

    Wow. I don’t think I ever seen as much witty criticism of a man’s immolation gathered in one location before.

  51. Wtrmute says:

    Happy birthday, Shamus. Thanks for sharing the caps; they’re awesome.

    I’d put an ASCII Art cake, but I forgot how to write the darned thing. Sorry…

  52. Tom says:

    Interestingly, there was a perfectly serviceable pool of water that he RAN RIGHT BY in his rush to fulfill Peter Jackson’s vision. They even mention how they purposely did some creative editing of his death scene. Otherwise it would’ve taken something like a full minute for him to reach that jump-off point. Could you imagine it? A full minute of on-screen burning screaming guy just running? That’s multiple breaths. And RIGHT BY THE POOL OF WATER.

    My least favorite Denethor scene was actually the intercut extreme close-ups of him eating his lunch while the battle at Osgiliath was raging. It was such a beautiful scene with Pippin’s song and all, but the shots of Denethor ripping apart his chicken wings or whatever thoroughly ruined it for me. I got naseous. It was disgusting. :’P

  53. Vermont Gal says:

    Hey! It’s my husband’s birthday too!


    Here’s an extra “Fireball” spell for you!

  54. Tuccy says:

    Happy birthday and may you be as happy for the next year as I am every time I find a new comics here :)

  55. Rhapsody says:

    “Hey, I don’t see anything in the rules that says I can’t run while I’m on fire. And I rolled good, so…”

    And what’s my character’s birthday? And what are all the NPCs going to give me?

  56. Tsetut says:

    Happy Birthday Shamus. And good catches, the Gandalf one is funny, and I think we all agree on how ridiculous the “fire run” is. You mentioned it several times already, and it bears mentioning several more.

  57. Alex says:

    Happy birthday from all of us readers.
    I hope you have a great year and many more will follow.
    -Alex Varveri.

  58. Tsetut says:

    Although ironically, it would work in D&D. Assuming he ran 100 yards, he ran 300 feet. A human is speed 30 in D&D and can run 120 feet as a full round action, or 150 with the run feat. That means that Denethor takes 3d6 damage without run, or 2d6 with run, at an average of 10.5(11) and 7. Assuming he is an old fighter with the elite array, he has a constitution of 10. At 1st level he can survive with run, but will die without it, eventually. At 2nd level he should be fine.

    • WJS says:

      Three objections;
      1. He ran far further than 100 yards. He wasn’t in the palace at the back of the spire, he was in the graveyard deep within/on the other side of the mountain.
      2. He wasn’t a fighter. A level 1 aristocrat would only have ~5 hp, down to 4 with a con penalty for age. If level 2, he would have twice that, of course.
      3. It would have taken several minutes minimum to reach the edge he threw himself off at the speed he was traveling. That’s over 20d6 damage, not 2d6.

  59. Evilschemer says:

    To be fair, Denethor WAS bat-shit crazy at the time.

  60. Da Rogue says:

    (hiss) It’s his birthday precious, and he wants it.
    Sshall we gives it to him? Filthy nasty little DM…

  61. Tormuse says:

    I don’t have a comment on the comic; I just wanted to say, Happy Birthday, Shamus! :D

    Keep up the good work! :)

  62. Tuck says:

    Tom wrote:
    “My least favorite Denethor scene was actually the intercut extreme close-ups of him eating his lunch while the battle at Osgiliath was raging. It was such a beautiful scene with Pippin's song and all, but the shots of Denethor ripping apart his chicken wings or whatever thoroughly ruined it for me. I got naseous. It was disgusting.”

    Ah, but did it not emphasise the movie Denethor’s character perfectly? A friend once surmised to me that Denethor and Theoden (in the books) are two sides of the same coin: both lost a son, but where Denethor despaired, Theoden turned hopeful. They really brought that part of Denethor out in the movies.

    The scene you describe is definitely one of the most memorable scenes, and probably my favourite from that third of the trilogy! :)

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