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DM of the Rings CXLI:
The Moment of Truth

By Shamus
on Friday Aug 31, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


The last roll. This is awesome.

The rulebooks give you the ability to create worlds of incredible complexity. There’s a thousand ways to resolve a situation, and a thousand different ways to butcher it and kill the tension of the moment.

EDIT: For those wondering what my next project will be. It has been announced. More details in the next couple of days.

Comments (161)

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  1. Jim says:


    I’m gonna miss this comic when it ends…

  2. Stranger says:

    Is this where his players feed him the dice bag?

  3. Lee says:

    Rule’s lawyer DMs… Gotta strangle them…

    Furthest up I’ve ever posted.

  4. Nikle says:

    Great picture selection, even better “oops”!

  5. Mike says:

    Wow. Loved Gimli’s panel. Sucks to be them, haha.

  6. Rick says:

    Legolas: Did we win?

    That was hilarious.

  7. Stev says:

    Haha it looks like Gimli is falling asleep from the utter boredom, great frame Shamus.

  8. Cenobite says:

    Pfaugh! Percentile instead of d20?!?!? That’s no reason to give everybody a heart attack!

    In fact, you can treat a d20 just like a limited (broken into increments of 5%) d100.

    So a 10 is the same as a 50% roll result on a 100-point percentile scale! What, that’s not precise enough to determine success or failure?

  9. M&a says:

    Isn’t a 10 on a d20 just 50%? The poor DM really needs to learn to think on his feet. ;) Then again, maybe this is thinking on his feet… re-roll until desired outcome obtained.

  10. Chris Curran, Crazy Chainmailler says:

    i love the cap you used for the Leggy-lass “This Is Awesome!” block. could you perhaps email me the cap without text? or make it available for us to download?

  11. BlueFaeMoon says:

    Ah Shamus. You are the master of hilarious caps. And I’m gonna miss this when it’s done! Then again, I can’t wait to see how it ends. :D

  12. Isoyami says:


    I couldn’t breathe for several seconds this strip was so intense.

    Then Gimli came back with: “This is taking a long time.”

    XD XD. Indeed, man. Indeed.

    And wow. I’m in awe. The screencap of Aragorn for the very last panel is beyond perfect, beyond priceless. I know I’ve said it before, but this time I really mean it. Really.

    I know I’ll be laughing my butt off for the whole rest of the day about this strip, but for the next few minutes I can only stare in awed silence.


  13. gravyrug says:

    Definitely a Malevolent Storyguide. Yup.

    They shoulda been playing Star Wars with Frodo and Sam all along, shouldn’t they?

  14. Klytus says:

    The strongest evidence so far that this really *is* a lame DM. I mean, he can’t even convert a d20 to d%?? Come on!

  15. Browncoat says:

    Sure, a 10 is 50%, but what if we need 51%-54.99%? Lay off the DM, guys. If you’re going to call him on the carpet for the roll, make it that he didn’t roll the special red die!

  16. Nick says:

    Long time reader, first time poster. Love the comic, Shamus, thanks for all the laughs.

    A 10 on a d20 wouldn’t be 50%. A simple way to show this is that there are ten numbers above 10 on the die but only nine below it. So a 10 would actually be 47.5%. (or any number between 45% and 50%)

  17. Katy says:


  18. Katy says:

    Oh and by the way, Legoloas’s face when he says “This is awesome” is quite amusing. Perfect expression. (^^)

  19. David says:

    So. . . since there are 49 numbers below 50 and 50 numbers above 50, a roll of 50 on d% isn’t 50%?

  20. Mitey Heroes says:

    Beautiful screencaps today, and wonderful characterisation…

    Oh god, it’s all coming to an end. So sad!

  21. AndiN says:

    “A ten? What does that mean?”

    And thus begins Legolas’ long career in philosophy. ;-D

    I had to laugh, though, when the DM said, “OH CRAP!” My first thought was that they HAD won, and he was mad because he really wanted them to fail all along.

  22. wumpus says:


    Unless the GM’s d20’s have a zero on them, Nick is rightish – 10 maps to 46-50 on a d100, again assuming that ’00’ is 100 and not 0. (And 1 maps to 1-5, and 20 maps to 96-100.)


  23. Deoxy says:


    a 10 on a d20 is indeed 50%, assuming you round everything up (that is, 1=5%, 20=100%, etc). In terms of statistical probability, this is correct. In terms of accurate weighted representation, yours is correct.

    Dice rolls are about statistical probability. Do the math.

  24. Deoxy says:

    Oh, and good comic, of course. Is that Shamus’ own hand and dice we see there? A cameo for Shamus – cool!

  25. Dev Null says:

    I’m thinking I mostly don’t need to point this out… but what the hell; I’m a geek.

    Nick, you’re correct… sorta. Yes, there are 9 numbers _under_ 10, and 10 numbers _over_ 10. There’s also the 10, which accounts for the other 5%.

  26. Tracia says:

    But….Frodo fails his will save, which indeed should be a d20 roll–not sure what the DC for a 9th level equavalent of “charm person” spell cast from a ring forged by an epic fighter…I’m not sure even a 19 would succeed.

    So I would say the DM would roll in front of the players, and, unless it’s a 20, Frodo fails his will save.

    Then the DM can save the story by having the ring get destroyed from a roll behind the screen where Gollum rolls a one in his balance/grapple check….right?

    Sorry. Am I taking this too literally here? :)

  27. Liss says:

    Genius! This and the death of Gollum are my absolute favourites.

  28. phf says:

    How’d you decide which dice to use for the shot? Why “blue” ones?

    The Chainmail Bikini comic sounds interesting. Have you heard of the game?


  29. Mr. Pookers says:

    Wow, great comic again today “” Legolass’s expressions especially are so perfect.

  30. Victor says:

    I cant wait for the next one.

  31. Kaemaril says:

    You mean after this … no Star Wars?

    * sheds a tear … a man tear, goddamnit. *

    I wanna see another epic merrily butchered by a bunch of roleplayers! :)

  32. Simon says:

    Chainmail Bikini?

    Sounds a bit shit doesn’t it?

    Dude, you do the movie-cap-to-rpg-antic sort of story really well. That’s what makes this way funnier than all the other yawnsome rpg comics out there. Who wants yet another Snarf? 2/3rds of the fun is in the way you’re interplaying movie stills with writing because they’re movie stills.

    More of that please! Harry Potter, Matrix, superheroes, Star Fucking Wars, whatever. There’s dozens of choice picks for new movie-to-rpg comics out there. That’s what we want and it’s what you do best.

    Please don’t fall into the generic trap.

  33. Zaghadka says:

    Pfft. Newbie DM’s. A d20 is a percentile die!

    You just rolled an initial “0.” Just roll the damned thing again (if you need to). As it is, it’s looking like a pretty good roll!

  34. Doug Brown says:

    I have only a very few brand loyalties:

    Adidas sneakers
    Dr. Pepper beverages
    nvidia chipsets
    Shamus Young webcomics

    I will follow.

  35. Shawn says:

    Re: Simon

    Wow, that didn’t take long.

  36. Rico says:

    I blame Gimli for messing up the DM. He brought up the single d20 on the page before this.

  37. Scarlet Knight says:

    AndiN Says:”A ten? What does that mean?”

    No wonder Legolas is flunking out of college. Even Philosophy majors can count to “10”.

  38. Shamus says:

    Shawn: His disapproval is like a badge of honor to me.

  39. Dan says:

    Donk. Ha!

    And yes, I second the accusation of Gimli. He started it.

    The fact of it is that if the roll calls for percentile dice, the GM needs to use percentile dice. I guarantee you my players would be howling if he tried to pass a 10 off as any percentage. That’s like claiming to be Master’s champion after failing to sign your scorecard. Technically, you may have done everything to win, but if you didn’t follow the established rules of resolution, any action attributed to the dice is null and void.

  40. Matthias says:

    Come on, Shamus. Everyone’s doing web comics for gamers. Who is doing screencap comics for gamers? Be the guy that stands out from the rest.

    I don’t care which movie-to-RPG series you “Shamus” next. But do what you’ve been doing, it’s worked wonderfully so far!

  41. Jindra34 says:

    To everyone complaining about new comic: All we know is the title. Honestly it could be anything at this point. So wait for more info before you start whining incesenantly.

  42. Vegedus says:

    The end is coming… Fast upon us it encroaches… May the gods have mercy on our souls…

  43. Khenal says:

    I kinda want to see Frodo fail his save. They dont have Golum so save thier collective butts, Legolas killed him, remember?

  44. Peter Core says:

    Shamus, thank you for all the grins, chuckles and laughter.

    I look forward to your next effort.

  45. Grant says:

    I can’t resist!

    Average roll on a d20 would be 10.5 (1-20 uniform distribution)

    Average roll on a percentile would be 50.5 (1-100 uniform distribution)

    If you just x5, 10 = 50%, but since 10.5 x 5 = 52.5%, this would give you a slightly higher average than rolling a percentile die would…

    Also, setting it to 47.5 wouldn’t be quite right either… that is equivalent of subtracting 2.5 from the average, making your new average 50%, which isn’t really 50.5%. To keep the same average and a similar distribution, you should really x5 and then subtract 2%.

  46. Marty says:

    I’m guessing “Simon” may be trying to be funny. IE – playing an American Idol-esque “Simon” by cutting down the idea like the Simon does to the mediocre singers.

    He’s either failing really badly at being funny, or he really is an ass.

    We’ll leave it up to the readers to determine.

  47. Proteus says:

    I wanna see Dave play Star Wars! ::holds breath, waiting::

  48. Sylly says:

    Re Tracia:

    Good point, except for the fact Gollum is long dead. :lol:

  49. theonlymegumegu says:

    Both of the screen caps for Leggo-Lass are PERFECT! Love it!

  50. Grant says:

    Oh, no, look what you’ve started… now I’m going to waste a whole afternoon figuring out the best way to map a d20 to a percentile…

    On further thought, the x5 is arbitrary… this quite likely doesn’t preserve the standard deviation exactly. So while x5 -2 would be a good conversion, it isn’t perfect.

    To go a step further you could parameterize the transformation… to match mean and variance you could say y = ax + b, where y = percentile result and x = d20 roll. Solve for a and b such that the mean and variance of the two dice rolls are the same. Two unknowns, two equations.

    To go even further, you could take this to higher order statistical moments… using cubics or generalized polynominals as your transformation function, and the higher order statistical moments (skewness, kurtosis, etc.) for your extra equations. I wonder what you would find? Would the higher order terms diminish quickly? hmm…

  51. SteveDJ says:

    The way I see it, Shamus has been doing DMotR for about a year now. While he’s got all the cheers and acolades from his readers, he is not able to re-publish any of his work and make any money on the side (thanks to copyrights) – something that all other web comic creators are able to do.

    By going with something completely new/original, he will then have that opportunity for sales and merchandising. No, I’m not at all saying that he’s only doing this for the money, but it is a nice side benefit that he should be entitled to.

    (Just one caution: Is the name “Chainmail Bikini” already owned by someone else? The presence of a game and/or yahoo group might suggest so?)

    Anyway, I wish Shamus (and partner Shawn) all the best luck in this new venture. I hope it is as funny as what we’ve seen so far, even if it is a different style from screencaps. I look forward to it when it starts its run.

  52. Strangeite says:

    The DMotR has bought Shamus quite a bit of goodwill from me and so I will follow Chainmail Bikini. I must admit that I am a little disappointed that it is a “normal” webcomic, but if the humor is good, I will be coming back.

    On the issue of Chainmail Bikini being owned by someone else, I have searched the database here at my lawfirm and indeed “Chainmail Bikini” has indeed been trademarked by a Garr, James, E INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES 9919 Madres Ct. Concord NORTH CAROLINA 28027. The trademark has been abandoned but (and I am no expert here) that does not mean that he has entirely forfeited his rights to the trademark. Shamus, you should proceed carefully here if you indeed hope to make a profit off of the comic.

    On a related note, I do not know what kind of legal structure you have established with the artist, but make sure that EVERYTHING monetary is funneled through an entity (inc, llc, llp, etc.) and that you have the corresponding by-laws, operating agreement, etc, is in place with particular attention paid to what happens if one of you wants out. I have seen too many times where great ideas become destroyed as soon as money starts coming in and someone gets a little greedy (and that doesn’t mean just the artist, but anyone that the artist may have a legal obligation to, i.e an ex-wife, creditors, etc., because they all could come after the profits, including yours, if the entity is not structured properly).

    Hope I haven’t scared you too bad.

  53. Tracia says:

    Syllly: Well, *some* creature that was following is dead, sure. But that’s not to say the DM can’t invent a new Gollum. Perhaps he could name him Gullom, Gollum’s long lost brother who’s come to avenge his death. Or he could call him smeagol, the guy who had the ring BEFORE Gollum. Hey, that’s even factually correct! :)

    Or perhaps he could just call him Gollum again and these players wouldn’t know the difference. Aragorn, if he could even remember that far back in the first place, would probably think his name was Gullible or something. :)

    So I see know reason why the DM pull another Gollum out of his a$$, and be true to the d20 analysis of the movie, which is, pretty much, that Frodo doesn’t roll at 20, but that Gollum rolls a 1 on his grapple/balance check. :)

  54. ArcoJedi says:

    Awesome, sheer awesome!

    One question: who is the ‘hand model’? Is this the first time we’ve broken away from shots from the movie? I can’t find any others….

  55. Shamus says:

    ArcoJedi: A little DMotr Trivia…

    My hand was in the strip where everyone got bored waiting for the DM to start the fight. (Make Aragorn fall off cliff.) Various shots of dice have appeared here & there as well.

  56. Mari says:

    Beautiful, man, just beautiful. The suspense is killing me.

    PS I seem to have misplaced the e-mail address to which I should address my ardent love and adoration. ;-P

  57. Drezta says:

    dose it really matter whether frodo passes the will save or not?
    i’ve played many a campaign with a harsh DM that has set us through a way to hard quest just to make us fail at the end because of some dogey(sp) rolling.
    anyway even with gollum dead theres still sam, frodo having to make that important a will save would that a standard action to convey the effort of will involved so he would be flat footed giving sam a perfect chance to sneak attack frodo^^

  58. Drezta says:

    ps brilliant till the last. well done

  59. RisingShadow says:

    OOoo, I can’t wait for the new boot webcomic. Already bookmarked and will visit on a daily basis until it’s up!

  60. Ceresk says:

    Awesome tension-killing ! ;)
    I will gladly follow your new project as DM of th Rings gave me numerous greath laughs !

    I think the best/worst destroyed tension was at the end of my fisrt campaign as GM (WEG StarWars). The PCs had just thwarted the plans of the big bad guy and he intercepted them with his last bodyguards to have revenge. After a short speech I was awaiting their reaction … silence … silence … finally one of them (the only character who never met the guy in person) take a step forward and says “Do I know you ?” …

    R.I.P. Tension ! ;)

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