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DM of the Rings CXL:
Leave Everything to Chance

By Shamus
on Wednesday Aug 29, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


The last roll. Legolas is excited

When it comes to rolling dice, there are two types of players: One likes to avoid risk, and takes comfort in the cold, hard reality as defined by the shape of the bell curve and their advantageous position on it. The other kind wants to defy death and live against the odds at every possible moment.

These two types almost always end up in a game together. Sooner or later the death-defier rolls badly and dies spectacularly. Odds are that the more reserved, practical members of the team will follow suit moments later.

I find this to be hilarious.

Comments (137)

1 2 3

  1. Kaz says:

    LMAO!!! Only Legolass, man. “Roll it!” He’s so full of adventure.

  2. Al Shiney says:

    Ahhh, the prelude to the resolution we’ve all been waiting for! Gimli’s expression in the penultimate panel is another priceless example of Seamus’ screen-cap-fu talents!

  3. Kaemaril says:

    I’d love to know what those “special modifiers” are :)

  4. Callaghan says:

    Gimli’s expression in pane 6 is spot on, I can almost here him saying that.

  5. Cenobite says:

    Because classic RPGs are like gambling. Only more meaningful but not as destructive to the budget.

  6. Browncoat says:

    Wait! What happened to the troll!?!?!

  7. Issachar says:

    Yay, more Gimli! I love how he looks singularly unimpressed by the mention of “special modifiers”.

    The contrast between his attitude and Legolas’ is one of the funniest running jokes in the strip. Great one, as usual.

  8. yay!!! says:

    lol! i love these things, especially when they all die ‘cos of one person thinking they’re invincible!


  9. Alan says:

    Wow, as I post this, there are only 6 comments. I wonder how many there will be when I do post…

    So does that mean that in the real film he failed the d20 roll and Golem was a re-roll?

    How will you get around him dying?

  10. Marty says:

    Because classic RPGs are like gambling. Only more meaningful but not as destructive to the budget.

    Speak for yourself, man! I should show you a picture of my “RPG” closet. Half the freakin’ games in there I haven’t even played!

    I’m seeking help (or perhaps I should just give in and open a game store).

  11. Lynx says:

    Amazingly, Aragomless seemed to have grown a brain stem in the last few comics…

    And Gimli actually sounds better than he does in the actual movies.

  12. Arthur says:

    Aaaah yes, having the finale of the campaign depend on a single d20 roll, rolled by the GM on behalf of a character who is now an NPC, with little-to-no way the actual players who’ve stuck with the campaign to the bitter end can meaningfully affect things aside from jumping around inviting Sauron to squash them to provide a diversion. Possibly the worse example of DMing anywhere, ever.

    We’ve all played in games like that, haven’t we? ;)

  13. Knastymike says:

    I usually am the death-defier, and I’ve dragged at least 2 other people to their death one time! : D

  14. Arthur says:

    Oh, and this one marks 4 1-page comics in a row, 5 if you count the two-panel quick gag last Friday. What’s the betting we’re going to see an epic multi-page comic on Friday for Frodo tossing in the ring?

  15. vonKreedon says:

    I’ve come to really appreciate Legomyass’ playing style. I will laugh my ass off if the quest fails because Lego killed Gollum and Frodo fails his roll.

  16. “Sooner or later the death-defier rolls badly and dies spectacularly. Odds are that the more reserved, practical members of the team will follow suit moments later.

    I find this be be hilarious.”

    Yeah, well–usually the reserved, practical member dies moments later *because* the fool risk-taker got themselves killed and are no longer watching the sane one’s back. That’s still kind of hilarious, I suppose, but rather infuriating.

  17. Nira de Toryll says:

    Ahahaaaaa!!! Final panel is awesome!
    But I just wanna know, what happened to the troll?!

    Apart from the lack of troll crushing, *grin* awesome as ever!

  18. Poet says:

    I’ve got to admit, I’m all about edge-of-my-seat playing. Nothing feels better than an all or nothing moment in which you MUST roll a crit or doom the multiverse to a slow death at the hands of chocolate pudding.

  19. Sarah says:

    I was thinking, how funny it could have been if the hobbit players hadn’t left, and the DM had to run, essentially, two separate campaigns simultaneously, with all the players kibitzing with each other. This is funny too, of course, and I’m quite happy with it! If Shamus tackles another storyline, there will I’m sure be opportunities for that as well.

  20. txknight says:

    “Because classic RPGs are like gambling. Only more meaningful but not as destructive to the budget.

    Speak for yourself, man! I should show you a picture of my “RPG” closet. Half the freakin' games in there I haven't even played!

    I'm seeking help (or perhaps I should just give in and open a game store).”

    I’ll second that. I certainly have my fair share of games that I’ve hardly or never have used.

  21. Telas says:

    I love how some players will get risk-averse when they’re playing a fearless, death-defying character.

    Hint: It’s a character in a story. Dying really doesn’t hurt.

    (Note: I’ve fallen into this trap myself, and occasionally need the hint as well.)


  22. BlueJimmie/Valkaun_Dain says:

    Classic! We seem to have the same situation every week!

  23. Wuanslm says:

    Awww seems like this is about to end =(

  24. Carrie says:

    That is by far one of my favorite Legolas expressions XD That look is INSANE.

  25. Wraithshadow says:

    This would be a wonderful occasion for me to explain the time that the rest of the party came upon an orc village they were intent on raiding, only to find the entire place on fire while my wizard slaughtered the inhabitants, screaming for blood while swinging a battle axe and clad only on a bearskin.

    Unfortunately it has absolutely nothing to do with the comic or the subject. So I won’t.

  26. Aries says:

    Special modifiers for DMotR “ring destruction”:

    on a roll of 2-20 the ring is destroyed the war is over and all is right with the world.

    on a roll of 1 the world is destroyed and everything in in by a 15000ft tall Peter Jackson and instantly recreated at its moment of destruction in a newly packeted “extended” version with commentary on how not to roll a 1 when it means the end of existance by the cast and crew (voiced by the GM)

  27. Woerlan says:

    That last panel is your best combo of dialogue with an image yet. I had to muffle myself to keep from disturbing the guys at work.

  28. Raved Thrad says:

    Gimli obviously just barely made his SAN check :))

    So, is this the point where the DM rolls behind the DM screen, looks at his notes, looks back at the die and consults his notes again, and says uncertainly, “So, how about we roll up characters for a game of Star Wars?” while surreptitiously putting his D&D books away?

  29. Ashpile says:

    I LOVE Legolas look! That’s so right out of life! LoL
    Another great one shamus!

  30. Tanaka Taro says:

    Alan said:
    “So does that mean that in the real film he failed the d20 roll and Golem was a re-roll?”

    I think in the film he failed and Gollum was deus ex machina by the DM ;)

  31. Jochi says:

    Shamus (which I still want to spell Seamus after all this time) always HAS written Gimli better than the screenwriters did.

    As others have pointed out, Legolas crit-killed a vague figure that they thought looked like Gollum, and no body was found/looted. Gollum being alive or dead at this juncture is in the hands of the DM.

    Having the outcome of the campaign depend on a die roll by an NPC is possibly the worst way a DM COULD end a campaign. Except for having that happen somewhere else, where the PCs couldn’t even WATCH the action(s) determined by that die roll.

    Oh, wait…

  32. Nanja Kang says:

    I wonder if Stonergorn is going to want to loot Mordor… it is possible.

  33. Gammahorton says:

    I did not see the “Will Save” roll coming, but it is just so right on. ROFLOL

  34. Vegedus says:

    Hum. If the dice, like we’ve seen before, rolled away, behind a computer or underneath a car or something, every single entity that takes place in that war would become uncertainty liches… What a scary thought.

  35. Gammahorton says:

    “Yeah, well”“usually the reserved, practical member dies moments later *because* the fool risk-taker got themselves killed and are no longer watching the sane one's back. That's still kind of hilarious, I suppose, but rather infuriating.”

    Infuriating to the other players, yes. That’s exactly why the DM finds it so hilarious.

  36. Browncoat says:

    32 Nanja Kang Says: I wonder if Stonergorn is going to want to loot Mordor… it is possible.

    It is probable.

    @ Vegedus (#34)–A Middle Earth of Uncertainty Liches, FTW! I’m imagining a small farming village of Lich-Farmers and both the enemy coming and destroying, and nothing bad every happening again. JUST DON’T LOOK AT IT!!!

  37. AndiN says:

    Yeah, but see, if Frodo fails his Will save, and Gollum isn’t there to be either the Deus Ex Machina or the “re-roll”, then the ring won’t be destroyed, the fight to save Middle Earth will continue, and Shamus can keep making DMoTR!

    I can see Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas REALLY enjoying hunting down Frodo and Sam. :-)

  38. Mike says:

    So, after the Wisdom check, Frodo has to roll to hit the chasm full of lava. Apparently, in the movies, he rolled a 1, which meant he threw it straight at gollum, who of course failed his Dex check and fell in…

    Oops, I gave the ending away…

  39. haashaastaak says:

    message 37: I could see all of that happening, but not using screen caps, so I don’t think it will happen in this strip.

  40. Scarlet Knight says:

    This is where the DM cheats. You roll behind the screen, and no matter what comes up; you call out whatever was needed to keep the game going!

    DM: “Good roll!”
    Gimli: “But the ugly orange die says ‘1’”?
    DM: “That was the ..um, ring’s roll to seduce Frodo, & IT failed!”
    Aragorn: So we all live?
    Legolas:”Cool, what can I stab?”

  41. CarrieICL says:

    Whoa. How did Frodo get there without Gollum?

  42. Vermont Gal says:

    Priceless expression of Gimli in the next-to-last slide.

    I really love how the Gimli in your strip actually seems to have more presence and character than the Gimli in the LOTR movies. I always thought the dwarf was made out to be more sidekick/comedy relief by Peter Jackson than a hero in his own right, as much as Legolas. I guess ‘cuz 13 year old girls wouldn’t put posters of him up in their lockers or something.

  43. CJG says:

    >Whoa. How did Frodo get there without Gollum?

    A DM never has to explain how things happen “off camera.”

  44. the last two frames are AWESOME! :D

  45. Wraithshadow says:

    Whoa. How did Frodo get there without Gollum?

    Why, that’s simple. By railroad, of course. ;P

  46. -Chipper says:

    “well… with special modifiers…”

    What makes this even more funny is that the modifiers are all going AGAINST our heroes! At this point Frodo is so far under the ring’s power, he’d have to roll a twenty. And then the ring would get its own saving throw with good odds and have to roll a 1 to get destroyed.

    Great comic. I think all your fans are now turning into uncertainty net lich denizens while we await the outcome.

  47. Carl says:

    “Whoa. How did Frodo get there without Gollum?

    Why, that's simple. By railroad, of course. ;P”

    Well, Frodo did have an extra 6 days to get there due to Aragorn turning around… of course, Frodo would have starved… oh wait, where’s Sam…

  48. Woot Spitum says:

    I shudder to think of what Frodo and Sam might have done had they not left to play Star Wars.

    DM: Are you absolutely sure you want to go to Barad-Dur instead of Mount Doom?

    Frodo: Yeah, after all, we gotta kill Sauron.

    DM: But he’s to powerful!

    Frodo: Well maybe if you had let me be a wizard this wouldn’t be a problem. If the final boss is too strong for us to kill, you have only yourself to blame for making him too strong.

  49. James Barlow says:

    In retrospect, perhaps you’re lucky the players didn’t try this:


    (HowItShouldHaveEnded.com) – Lord of the Rings

  50. Daza says:

    i loved the last two frames – excellent screen caps.

    “sooner or later the death-defier rolls badly and dies spectacularly. Odds are that the more reserved, practical members of the team will follow suit moments later.”

    a guy we played who was always conservative had a method to deal with the death-defier pc. his character was always a bit evil and if the player took too many chances, he would kill him out of hand, usually with the statement, “i warned him”. as most of the other characters were usually a little evil too, no one really cared, except the guy who got whacked. actually, that result is usually pretty funny too. :o)

  51. theonlymegumegu says:

    I think this strip only helps affirm that Legolas has been my favorite character in this strip. He’s so excited to game ^_^

  52. YaVerOt says:

    Don’t worry. I’m positioned just off-screen. If the hobbit doesn’t toss the ring, ++Dumbledore++ ++Merlin++ our kill-stealing-wizard has told me to shove the hobbit off the ledge.

  53. Ceresk says:

    I am just too unlucky with my die (Rogar-style unlucky (“The Gamers”)) and usually invest too much time in characters to be a “death-defier” but we once failed a scenario by being too successful ;)

    At that moment, most GMs usually know how their campaign will end but the problem is that some of them do not care if the players enjoy it. Ex: in the last two campaign I played in (1 and 2 year long respectively), once the GM introduced a new brand of enemies at the last scenario who killed everybody and the other the GM invented the most frustrating ending ever where the bad guys decided to spare us and go home, showing how noble they were after butchering 80% of the world’s population …

    Well at least we know their campaign will end well … won’t it ? ;)

  54. Nira de Toryll says:

    “Whoa. How did Frodo get there without Gollum?”

    *puts on funky accent*
    Sea turtles mate.

    (wrong film I know, but it does have Orli in it)

  55. Zaghadka says:

    Yeah. A will save vs. the One Ring. Roll pi on a d20 please.

    LOL. Beautiful.

  56. Joran says:

    Only thing that makes me sad is that the end is in sight for the fellowship.. And for the comic? Tell us the story will go on in one way or another Shamus! :P

  57. Lil'German says:

    Well I’m astounded that Gimli notices the Dice but not “so it sums up to a NPC solving our whole tiresome campaign?” ;)

  58. Scarlet Knight says:

    Telas Says:”Hint: It's a character in a story. Dying really doesn't hurt.”

    Oh c’mon! Does anyone ever forget the pain of their first character’s death? True, twenty years later, it’s a dull ache. But that’s only because of the consolatory trip to the pub afterwards….stupid type one demon…

  59. Rasmus says:

    The level-headed guy (me) usually volounteers to try and save the action-junkies (a lot of the other players) because it is the right thing to do (sorry, im with the good guys). Ok, many of those deadly situations is caused by rashness and death-defying lack of judgement…
    BUT, on the good side is a ot of goodwill and decent magic items as this increases the chance of rescue-succes!!!
    On the downside, i usually end up playing some sort of cleric to be able to heal/ressurrect those who sprint into action…

    I need a game system, where death is a lot more irrevocable…

    Duh, who am i fooling ?? I once had my character eaten by a vampire barmaid the one session i was’nt there to play my undead-exterminator-cleric… thank God for ressurrection and restoration, literaly. It’s good to be alive! :-)

  60. Janwynn says:

    “Whoa. How did Frodo get there without Gollum?”

    Frodo suddenly appears at the top of Mt. Doom.

    Frodo: “Hi.”

    (BTW, the strip where Gollum is killed by a critical hit is one of my all time favorites. :)


  61. Steven Lake says:

    I have been enjoying this comic since it was featured on G4 TV’s Attack of the Show.
    An interesting thing I’ve noticed. The first comic was published on Sept. 7th, 2006.
    It stands to reason that Shamus will finish DM of the Rings around the 1 year mark.
    IIRC, Frodo stated in RotK that their journey lasted a year.
    Very Interesting.

  62. grundunne says:

    This is gonna be great….
    A picture of a d20 in mid-roll then one that shows a number of one less than what the DM said was required, as the characters start going off about random chance, tied together by perfect screencaps…enter gollum…lol

  63. Lev Lafayette says:

    Actually I love it when that happens. I ran a cyberpunk game where there were about twelve preceeding steps to get to the objective and then everything hinged on a final roll (as in, success versus irrecoverable and utter failure). As Legalos says… “Actually, that sounds intense”. It was!

  64. Samir says:

    I ran a couple games in Clarksville tenn where the final outcome was hinged on a roll of a single d6 verse the players die 6. The players won and then forbade me to run world spanning end of life that came down to a roll of the dice campaigns ever again.

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