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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. Scarlet Knight says:

    “The end is near! Re-paint!”

    Oops, I should have saved that for “Chainmail bikini”.

    I confess I just noticed that Aragorn, Legolas, & Gimli started their lines with: “This is …” & therefore discovered a joke I hadn’t noticed before. Nicely done,Shamus!

  2. Al Shiney says:

    Although I admittedly came late to the DMotR party, I have been a loyal follower and poster for a few months now, so I believe wholeheartedly that I have earned the right to say the following (ahem):

    “Shamus, do whatever the hell you want to do with your artistic talents!”

    You have made me laugh, you have made me cry (by laughing so hard). I have already bookmarked Fear the Boot and will be there in September when it all begins.

    Godspeed, little doodle.

  3. Browncoat says:

    I just googled “Chainmail Bikini”, and I’m sorry to say, the new comic doesn’t appear on the first page. I wasn’t interested enough to look at subsequent pages. Anyway, I look forward to the time when performing that search in the future will take me right to the new strip.

  4. Carl the Bold says:

    Shamus, according to the illustration of you on the Fear the Boot page you linked to way up north, you have a *huge* Adam’s Apple.

    You should get that looked at.

  5. Shawn says:


    I’m not surprised. We did just announce it today. The site it’s on hasn’t been up 24 hours and certainly hasn’t been Search Engine Optmized yet. If you Google “chainmail bikini” in October and we’re not on top, well then there’s a problem.

  6. Jochi says:

    Well, first I agree with those that are saying you have a right to do what you want with your talents, Shamus, including using them in a way freer of legal entanglements to make financial gain. I hope it works.

    Second, I agree with those (including Gimli) who say the tension of waiting to see what is going to happen is excruciating.

    Third, I agree that the fact that we’re NOT going to get to see similar send-ups of Star Wars or Indiana Jones or Terminator or whatever is disappointing, but that doesn’t mean we won’t enjoy your new effort. You have a talent for screencaps, as many have said.

    Finally, I have to point out that Shamus is quite capable of doing two projects at once OR doing another screencap comic after Chainmail Bikini runs its course OR during a lull there. And if you don’t follow his work there or continually recheck THIS site, assuming it stays up, you’ll never know. So, if you’re a fan, stay tuned.

  7. brassbaboon says:

    Heh, I love the mathematical analysis of converting a d20 roll into a percentile roll…

    Probabilities are not this complicated. However, it does make a difference which direction you are going, which is also true of percentile dice. The “10” is the top number in the first 50% of possible outcomes. The “11” is the bottom number in the second 50% of possible outcomes. So rolling a 10 is perfectly comparable to rolling a “50” on percentile dice, assuming that the “00” of the percentile dice is “100” and not “zero” which is the standard way of interpreting percentile dice as far as I know.

    There is a problem if you are trying to hit a number between 50% and 55% though, because a d20 won’t resolve accurately to any percent between 50 and 55. The “11” on the d20 indicates a result of “55%” not a result of “anything bigger than 50%.” This gets back to my comments earlier about dice rolls essentially representing a macroscopic version of a quantum event. There is no way to resolve to a result smaller than the smallest increment of the die. Attempting to do so is just putting the result up for grabs. You can never know of this particular “10” result was closer to an “11” than any other “10” result. It’s just “10.”

    So if I were the DM in this situation and needed to resolve the result to something between “50” and “55” (because anything smaller than “50” or larger than “55” has already been resolved), then I really have two choices. I can roll another die to determine where between 50 and 55 the actual result is, or I can void the d20 and reroll a percentile die. In this case, assuming that the magical number is something like “53” that means rolling a d10, diving by 2 (not “dividing” but the integer math operator of “div”) and adding the result to the “50%” represented by the “10” on the d20. Simple, and no reason to panic. It just doubles the anticipation is all…

  8. MH(C?) says:

    Hey, those are my dice!

    (I was wondering where they’d gone.)

  9. Oh noes! You guys all (except wumpus) fale at math.

    The 10 on the D20 corresponds to the range 46-50 on percentiles. The average is 48, but it isn’t fair to use the average: if the whole range from 46-50 doesn’t lie completely within either success or failure, you have to roll the die again. For the second roll, 1-4 corresponds to a 46, 5-8 to a 47, 9-12 to a 48, 13-16 to a 49, and 17-20 to a 50.

    If you’re not willing to do that kind of calculation, you should just do what the DM did and call the D20 roll null and void.

    As for what the DC should be, it doesn’t really make a ton of sense to require a critical success. If it’s that tough to throw the ring now, it would’ve been almost that tough to get up there, meaning Frodo probably wouldn’t have made it that far. I don’t think the ring should be treated as casting a single spell right at the end–its effect is more a gradual thing. Moreover, the magic is weak in Tolkien, so even though it’s a high-level effect, it still shouldn’t be all that powerful.

  10. Mejo says:

    Grant – you’re nearly right with (d20 x 5) -2, but all the complex stuff is a distraction.

    Whatever else might be true, the d20 and percentile rolls are uniform distributions. So only two parameters count: range and mean. If you want the distribution to remain uniform only a linear transformation (d100=m x d20 +c) will do.

    If you want to try getting the range to match, you would want a roll of 1 on the d20 to be 1% and 20 to be 100%. That fixes it to: multiply by 99, subtract 80 and then divide by 19.

    Fortunately, this transforms 10.5 into 50.5, so the mean is right too!

    so: d100=(99 x d20 – 80)/19

    Yes, I know, I am sadness personified.

  11. Coogan says:

    WTF with all this algebra and calculation? It’s clear: the d20 has two ranges, 1-10 and 11-20, both of equal size. A roll of “10” is low. Ergo, rocks fall, everyone dies. (Unless the DM has decided that low is good.) Same thing would happen with a 50 rolled on a d%, assuming 00 is 100. Sheesh!


  12. Mejo says:

    which means a roll of 10 on a d20 is

    47.894715 7894715 7894715 … %

    (sad, sad, sad.)

  13. Mejo says:

    But Coogan, the DM has said there are also special modifiers! We don’t know it’s 50-50 – the fate of the middle earth may rest upon getting the right transformation law!!! :-)

  14. That was 12 kinds of Awesome and 17 kinds of WIN!

    Legolass’s faces are great :D

  15. Lina says:

    I just spent the better part of three hours or so reading this. . .I have to say quite honestly that I used to play D & D and other RPG but left that world many moons ago. Friends have tried to entice me to come back to no avail, I am openly admitting that reading this strip may be the impetus that will seduce me back to this world. For shame, Shamus, for shame! Thanks for the great laughs, I’m off to find my dice and dust them off. . .they’re here somewhere!

  16. brassbaboon says:


    Heh, I think you got it right, and I had a boundary value problem. A roll of “10” would need to be resolved between 45 and 50, as you say, not between 50 and 55 as I was saying earlier. At least I think so. After reading all this, now I’m all confused… ;)

  17. Dantekrad says:

    OMG!, the face of aragorn in the last panel!


    Excellent, as always.

    (and yes, a rol of 10, must be between 45 and 50)

  18. Rasmus says:

    76 Mejo Says: 47.89471578947157894715 … %

    Should that be rounded UP or DOWN??? :-)

    Gee, i´m a math teatcher, and i´m getting a little confuesed here…
    So many choices!!!

  19. David H. says:

    I have to say I’ve really enjoyed the hell out of DM of the Rings, and I’m looking forward to seeing how “Fear the Boot” shakes out. One downside of the transition: a highlight of DMOTR was the way the humor played out as commentary, not just on gaming, but on the original story. I will miss that.

    Of course, my favorite installment ever is the orc battle in which the players grapple with the byzantine attacks of opportunity system, which doesn’t incorporate that at all.

  20. Grymm says:

    Actually the comic does not have to end for some time. Considering how long the epilogue lasted in the movie, he could fill a few more months of work on that stuff. I loved the comic by the way. Thanks for the laughs.

  21. Me says:

    I’m surprised no-one else has picked up on the hidden message in the other dice sitting on the table.

    2 6 3 11

    Lol, good one Shamus! ;-)

  22. Zalan says:

    Is that your actual hand Shamus? Or did you use a stand-in, a so called handyman?


  23. Parzival says:

    “I'm surprised no-one else has picked up on the hidden message in the other dice sitting on the table.

    2 6 3 11”

    You missed the four-sider, which (squinting) reads 1 (I think).

    But I appear to have missed the significance, either way. Care to explain?

  24. MIG says:

    wait…where did that giant scar on Aragorn’s face come from? =|

  25. Me says:

    Hmm, the 1 does put a bit of a new complextion on it ;-)

    23/6/1911 was the brithdate of T. Hee (Teehee) the famous cartoonist.

    Or if we substitute letters for numbers 3=C 11=k, and you notice that the 2 is upside down, as is the 6, so clearly we subtract those from 26 to get the letters 2=Y and 6=U.

    Thus spelling “Yuck”.

  26. Rehtul says:

    Ehm… that seems a bit over-the-top complexity, doesn’t it? I mean it’s kinda like saying “nyuck nyuck” to your own joke… I mean, it IS saying “nyuck nyuck” to your own joke… I wonder how Mr. Hee would respond? :D

  27. oldschoolGM says:

    Zaghadka Said:
    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!

    This is the correct answer. No need to get all worked up about where a 10 would fall in the range between 45% an 55%. To further clarify, ignoring the “1” on a “10” and the “2” on a “20”, a d20 generates a number between 0 and 9 just as well as a standard d20. So, simply take the “0” from the rolled “10” as the tens digit and roll again for the ones digit. Don’t tell me only one other person here has ever had to fall back on this old gamers trick? You people obviously never had a dog get at your dice bag right before people showed up for gaming. :)

    Still, funny stuff Shamus! I’ll give your next project a shot. Could be fun!

  28. Shapeshifter says:

    NOW do you people see why he’s just going to roll a d100 instead of converting the d20?


    (Actually though, i think the whole “Oh shit, that’s the wrong number!” result is probably right… :P)

  29. Mark says:

    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.

    These things differ from country to country, but I’m pretty sure Trademarks have to be current. And the person has to be actually trading, not just hogging it for later value.

    They also only apply to specific areas: if the current holder is for a clothing store, it wouldn’t affect the ability to use the wording for a comic.

  30. gottasing says:

    Only one week left…**sob**.

    But I will gladly follow wherever you lead Shamus!

  31. Matthias says:

    Yall are overcomplicating the process of rolling d20s for percentile.

    Roll it once, subtracting 10 if you roll higher than 10. Multiply by 10, getting your tens value.

    Roll it again, subtracting 10 if you roll higher than 10. That gives you your ones value.

    Your tens value plus your ones value gives you your percentile roll.


  32. Matthias says:

    An addendum to that, for the ones value treat both “10s” as zeros instead. Otherwise that’s it.

  33. Coarse.Sand says:

    I’m quite psyched to see what happens with Chainmail Bikini, especially since I’ve become addicted to FtB after listening to your interview with them.

  34. Aries says:

    ……….shoot the DM, please dear god shoot the DM, i mean after all that he rolled the wrong sodding dice?

    and he had the gaul to mock the players?


  35. Riva says:

    Fellas as facinating as all this maths is, it sure as hell isnt going to count for much, the DM will just reroll…or something completely left field will happen in the next strip.

    Thorin says: Oh noes! You guys all (except wumpus) fale at math.

    Riva says: Oh noes you “fail” at English, sorry pet hate

    All in all great strip Shamus, loved the screen caps for lego-my-ass.
    Cheers mate

  36. RobTzu says:

    If you look on panel 5, the d4 is actually showing 4 not one.

  37. RobTzu says:

    Well heck, it does sometimes and sometimes its a one. =/

  38. Kj says:

    Legolas: this is awesome

    I bet he was sorely disappointed :D

  39. Evrae says:

    I have done this so many times but normaly i just lie and make stuff up like a good DM. (who wants to figure out number anyways)

  40. Maverick says:

    Wow, im amazed Aragorn looks so disaopointed. Surely now we are comming to an end he isn’t JUST going to start roleplaying?

  41. Richard H-G says:

    Firstly: Great comic, shame it’s nearly over!

    Secondly: All this talk about the math is neglecting another possible interpretation: the DM fudge.

    When you are forced to roll for something you’re not ready for and don’t have the rules handy, or don’t want to spend an hour working out the EXACT number, you can often just roll the dice and fudge it. If the number is fairly high (and high is good) you just nod and say “Yep, good enough”. If it’s fairly low you say “Nup, just missed it.” Most of the time you can do this without anyone calling you on it – but if the dice comes up with a middle range number (like that blasted 10!) you are forced to either stop everything while you look up all the books and do all the sums… or find an excuse to re-roll: “I was supposed to roll a percentile…”

  42. Cid says:

    You know, it sounds stupid of him to have used the wrong die; but I do occasionally do such things as an ‘accident’ to heighten tensions for the players.

    Ofcourse, I’m also one of those GMs who rolls dice behind his screen for no other reason than to make my players worry.

  43. TimMcCloud says:

    It shouldn’t end soon – the current group should get pissed at the current ending without loot and leave for a while, frodo and samwise will get bored with the game they left for and show up for a seperate adventure all the way to mt doom, and finally every one will get back together around the xmas holidays for a last game and wrap up all of the “endings”. Especially since there will be some loot. :D

  44. Naughty Girl says:

    I’m also going to miss this comic. (sniffles)

    112! :P

  45. tom says:

    I wanna see frodo fail his save then when the players start whining that its a bunch of bull the dm will say
    “blame legolass he killed gollum which i would have used as a re-roll”
    then the aragorn and gimli kill him.

  46. tom says:

    crap ignore the “the” in front of aragorn it was a typo

  47. Hammondm says:

    Just watch all 3 movies again. After reading this web-comic, everything in the movie gets converted to DnD. Well done shamus, you’ve brought out the gamer in all of us!!!!

  48. Anonymooo says:

    I picked this comic up a few weeks ago at a friend’s suggestion and have enjoyed every second of it. Thanks, Shamus, for a horrifically badass and funny take on a classic.

    I’m personally looking forward to Chainmail Bikini–while I am worried it’s gonna become another “gamers’ webcomic,” it’s almost guaranteed to have solid writing, and the sample art shown on the site looks perfectly suited to the shenanighans that are bound to happen. Should be pretty damn cool, in my opinion.

  49. Liam says:

    The last shot of Aragon – why does it look like he took an axe to the face sometime in the past? I don’t remember a huge, glaring scar like that….

  50. Artea says:

    So that’s it, then?
    Well, I guess, all good things must come to an end.

    Many thanks for so many laughs!

  51. Katy says:

    You know what’s great? You kept all three of the constant PCs “in character”, do you know what I mean? Aragorn’s player is a terrible roleplayer always trying to get babes, loot, and is the biggest nuisance to the DM’s railroaded plot. Gimli’s player is always the best roleplayer and he outsmarts the DM often, usually being the person who listens to the goings-on the most. Legolas’s player is totally into it the whole time, loves the combat no matter how repetitive, and loves the risky rolls.

    Bravo to that.

  52. poxjedi says:

    I just got on this site a few days ago, and as soon as I found the first DMotR comic, I read every one of them. Brilliant comic, and I look forward to finding out how it ends.

  53. Scarlet Knight says:

    Aries Says:”…and he had the gaul to mock the players?”

    I would mock the players, too, if I had a Gaul around to do it for me!

  54. SSMcBeattie says:

    I just think it’s fabulous that DM’s all over the universe can really take the edge off an exciting adventuring moment

  55. lifethelemon says:

    *psst* that 10? it’s just like a 50. *nods*

  56. Pete says:

    When this ends… I… I have not much entertainment back. Hopefully you’ll make more of this kind?

  57. Browncoat says:

    114 tom Says: crap ignore the “the” in front of aragorn it was a typo

    No, no, tom. Don’t claim it was a typo. Claim you were shouting out mad props to Miss SC! “the Iraq”, “the Aragorn”. We US Americans love that kind of stuff!

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