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DM of the Rings XLVIII:
Dwarven Diplomacy

By Shamus
on Monday Jan 8, 2007
Filed under:
DM of the Rings


Rohan. Remembering Merry and Pippin.

I see a lot of kids with those “I Roll Twenties” t-shirts. I don’t know what game they are playing, or where they get their dice. I need one that says, “Help. The dice are trying to kill me.”

Comments (172)

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  1. Shimo says:

    Oh my god! I work at a helpdesk and made the mistake of reading this comic on a downtime. Just as I got to the end of this strip which I found simply superhilarious the phone rang. I had to gather myself for several seconds in order to answer the phone without laughing insanely. Even then it took me a good half a minute to calm down enough to speak.

    “I don’t want to have to look up the rules for mounted combat right now.” really made it for me. The strip gathered strength from horse-fucker, the punchline was the diplomacy roll and the ending was the second punchline, something that elevated this one strip from among the rest (which have been good too so far).

    Now my cow-orker is looking at me in a weird way…

  2. Nicki-Joe says:

    LOL! I’ll take two t-shirts

  3. Marty says:

    I don’t know about y’all, but I read it as “horse flicker”.

  4. SongCoyote says:

    Okay, it’s not all that great, but I just had to put a quick pic together. Hopefully I get the HTML tag right :P

    My Dice Hate Me!

    Love the comic. I’ll read it all :) Thanks for making it!

    Light and laughter,

  5. SongCoyote says:

    Oh, and I couldn’t resist making the next comment as well, even if only so I could say je suis les soixante neuf!

    Light and laughter,

  6. SteveZilla says:

    Evil Otto speaks true, for I was there as well. The strawberry paste’s — I mean character’s name was Dancer. And the ultra-bad-buy? Dr. Destroyer.

    Morale to the story? Don’t by your primary defenses with an Activation Roll.

  7. TherionRavenwing says:

    A friend told me about this comic and he is right, it’s drop-dead funny!!!
    “Tell me your name, horsefu*Gimli!” that was just so hilarious! Man, I’ve re-read this one page about 10 times and I laugh even harder every time! Keep up the good work!

    BTW, the scene reminded me of an odd situation my first gaming group got into while playing in an empty classroom in college:
    The not-so-brave party ventures down the dungeon in search for doors to kick and treasure to loot. Behind one of those doors, there was a bunch of frenzied bloodthirsty orcs. So, our brave dwarven paladin rolls diplomacy just for the fun of it and gets a natural 20!! Adding that to his various modifiers, he ended up with something close to a 35 diplomacy check! After staring in disbelief for a couple minutes (specially our slash-happy, steroid-fed, totally power-gamed human fighter, and our fireball-slinging elven wizard) everyone started to laugh so hard security guards came to check on us. After the guards left, we just decided to say the orcs were so overwhelmed by the paladin’s platinum tongue (silver was not enough) they ended up crying, reconsidered their lives and turned to the church of Pelor for salvation! Dwarven diplomacy is so unpredictable.

  8. Max says:

    Second comic to make me laugh out loud.

  9. Astro says:

    I kinda like reading as someone else is saying “Tell me your name, horse-$^&@er!” and Gimli is answering! hehe

  10. mocking bird says:

    Holy cow – look at the dice. Ironic considering the theme of the thread. Thought we were playing Earthdawn there for a second.

    Anyway….Whilst playing Tomb of Horrors, a player was complaining of his inability to make any saves. Very bad if you are familiar with the module. He quickly realized he was rolling a 20 sided d10 that he never marked the 11-20 side with. The same person much later did a similar thing with a 1-4 8 sided die.

  11. “the sun is trying to kill me” XD

  12. Rick says:

    Actually cried trying to stop laughing out loud (reading at work).

    Physical tears!

  13. Barron says:

    Now that it’s all over, this is still my favorite one-liner of the whole thing

  14. Sandman says:

    I found this site just a few days ago and was reading this strip while the family is asleep. I’ve busted my jaw trying not to laugh out loud and wake them up.

    I’ve played and ran so many campaigns exactly like this I can’t remember them all. I’ve had nights where the dice killed off 3 of my characters in a single session. I still have a character sheet detailing the various brands, tatoos, and scars from where he p—ed off the wrong NPC. Nothing like trying to play a thief with a nice glow-in-the-dark tat on his face and a dagger brand on his cheek.

    Gawd, it makes me want to campaign again.

  15. Vanake says:

    Hah I almost sh*t my pants…
    My classmates now think im nuts or something.
    Its SO good !

  16. Jaxius says:

    Yeah, been there with the dice. My second role-playing game ever was a white wolf vampire game. The DM asked for a perception role. The conversation went something like this:
    DM: Roll your perception plus alertness, difficulty 6.
    Me: What happens when you don’t get any 6’s?
    DM: You fail.
    Me: And you also get a one?
    DM: That’s a botch, this is what happens.
    The character got hit over the back of the head and woke up a vampire. Rolling did not improve after that.

  17. George says:

    Funniest yet! (I just started reading them, in order.) Kudos!

  18. geo says:

    As a Dm, my d20 dice can only roll 15-20.
    As a player, my d20 dice can only roll 1-6. d6 dice only roll 1’s.

    As a Dm my players hate me.
    As a player, my dice hate me.

  19. Sewicked says:

    Played with a guy with, bar none, the worst dice luck I have ever seen. I joined a high-level Runequest game. This guy had a very powerful fighter (Humakte Runelord for those who know what that means) who got into a fight to prove himself with another member of his religion. This is Chaosium, so it’s a percentile system and low numbers = critical hits, high numbers = fumble/botch. He was skilled enough to get 3 actions per round.

    In this fight, he would 1) roll, fumble, & roll on fumble table. He would get the result: toss sword away. 2) He would use the magic of the sword to summon it to his hand. 3) Parry his opponent’s blow.
    He didn’t just botch every attack. He rolled the same thing on the fumble table every time. It got to the point that the GM ruled that the onlookers thought his character was mocking his foe.

    The really sad part is that when we switched to play MERP (Middle Earth RolePlaying), which is also percentile but high is good & low is bad; his dice would switch too.

  20. Serpent Stare says:

    Oh, dice stories.

    In a game I DM, there was a dwarf barbarian who acted the very personification of Chaotic Neutral. He collected things and had an increasingly bizarre outfit that he ALWAYS wore. By the time he died, this included a spiked breatplate, a jester’s hat and pants, and a pair of dragon wings crudely impaled on the armor’s spikes.

    Anyway, he had the same modifier for Spot and Listen, but almost invariably, he would roll 1 to 3 on ANY Spot check and 18 to 20 when listening.

  21. TmO says:

    I rolled listen and spot checks for one of my players when she got lost in a swamp on a very dark night with Wisps all around a few ghouls to keep it exciting. The other players where shouting and casting dancing lights and light on all kinds of object and she just failed every one of those rolls, so I think a shirt with “The dies are killing my players!” could be appropriate as well!

  22. JJR says:

    “What business does a man, an elf, and a dwarf have in the Riddermark?”

    SO sounds like the set up for a dirty joke, doesn’t it?

    I’ve “done a Gimli” vis a vis PC-NPC dialogue before, too.

    My buddies will lever let me live down a Star Wars RPG session where we were all taken off and interrogated and accused of being rebel spies and they all played it straight faced and offered up indignant denials, while I cracked like an egg-shell. Totally derailed the plot…but hilarious, though.

    “I don’t feel like looking up the mounted combat rules right now…” PRICELESS.
    LOVE IT!

  23. LadyGrey says:

    Friend e-mailed this to me – must read the rest because these are too funny and too true! BTW if someone does come to 2008 GenCon with t-shirts that say something about “My dice think my character is a dimwitted, ignorant, blind person that wants to swim in lava” and can add “Except when I GM” on the back, I would SO buy one. I roll horribly as a player and then have to modify my roles down to keep the characters alive when I’m running the game…

  24. TheDeepDark says:

    I just gotta throw this in here. So I have my seperate D&D dice (1 set), right? And then my regular dice bag, mostly d6. Well, Turns out my Paladin rolls fine with the D&D die except for initiative. And, as I discovered last night, when mounted. It rolls really well for his mount, but if he himself wants to do ANYthing useful, I gotta roll a different d20 for him. I’m NOT kidding.

  25. Obidan says:

    Just so you guys are aware, there *IS* a t-shirt that says “the dice are trying to kill me” at thinkgeek(dot)com. just go there and search for dice, it will come up. Found it yesterday when I was looking for the dice referred to by another poster in a previous issue.

    Keep up the good work, btw, this is some funny stuff!

  26. Toil3T says:

    I’ve noticed my dice either roll high or low. It’s rare for me to get something in between. On the other hand, I’ve had some very lucky rolls when almost dead. And I can’t remember cutting my foot off. My dice just like taunting me.
    I’ve had to bite my tongue in similar situations. We were negotiating with a powerful lich- we had his phylactory. I’m a druid. Lich is ex-druid gone Blighter. I kept my mouth shut and my hands away from my d20. Then we encountered a few weak brigandes raiding our favourite tavern, in an aevacuated town. They died. I had a huge hand in it. And I got away with it- being neutral pisses off the DM so much :P

  27. The Gremlin says:

    I [i]totally[/i] need a T-shirt that says ‘Help! My dice are trying to kill me!’…

  28. The Gremlin says:

    …wait…is there a way to get italics? On Paizo [i]this[/i] would do it, but does this work? Maybe {i}this{/i}?

  29. The Gremlin says:

    …ah. So would do it.

  30. The Gremlin says:

    I mean, so <(Blank)this would do it.

  31. Mycroft says:

    I’ve had your commentary line as part of my sig in various RPG forums for a while now. (With a link to your comics.) Suddenly, out of the blue, I receive this shirt for Christmas. Win.

  32. Julie Scott says:


    The gaming gods over at Think Geek granted your wish many moons ago. (Given how old this comic is, I wonder if the shirt in question was inspired by it. Hmmmm.)

  33. Rolo says:

    Honestly, I don’t think the language is much of a problem here, as it is part of the joke: characters saying the worst thing possible in a tense situation. I must admit that I was shocked by the language, but found that the shock also made the joke side-splittingly funny.

  34. finalfork says:

    Good language, bad language, it’s all in the usage/intent, so as long as you’re intent was humorous, people saw it as humorous (as i can see from the many comments here), then you should be golden!

  35. JD says:

    Some of it is a Penny Arcade thing. You probably woulnd’t want to know.

    But yeah, find me a shirt that says that!

  36. WJF says:

    Mine dice are nice (rhyme on accident) when they dont have to be and mean when I’m in the most danger.

    I remember once while playing D&D (3.5) and my ninja has a +12 to sneak meaning a 3 is still sneaking. My group sees a guard in the distance and I decide to sneak up and Coup’de gras (I hope im spelling that correctly) him.
    First Roll:20+12=32 obvious success
    Second Roll:12+12=24 “Oh no,” I say,”this means Im going to mess up when I get to the guy I just know it!”
    Sure enough Im right behind this guy now is the worst time to mess up.
    Third Roll: 1+12=13 (13 the unlucky #) GM says: you step on a stick it breaks with a loud crunching noise. So now I have to start fighting while my friends are at least 3 rounds away straoght running. We live miraculously thx to my (sometimes) forgiving die *that only in battle and charcter stat rolls* give me the high values.

  37. Morambar says:

    Hey, if you can only get good rolls under two conditions, those are the two I’d pick.

    Assuming it’s cool with Harriet and Tor, Robert Jordan has a number of suitably authentic sounding but completely harmless “alternate universe swearwords” in his books. Though in terms of imagery, I still think “Mother’s milk in a cup!” worse than “SOB!” But “bloody goat-kissing son of a spavined mule!” doesn’t seem so bad. And, of course, the favorite line of the series best character seems inevitable here, as I’m sure Dovyenda would agree:


  38. Benjamin O says:

    I am amazed that this strip is still getting comments, but since I just sent this link to some friends, I’ll share this:

    We had a ranger in the party who was supposed to be on watch for the night. Spot check to see the wolves sneaking up on our party? Rolls a 1. Listen check? Also a 1.

    Next thing my character knows, I’m being eaten by a wolf. I think we ended up losing one character to the wolves, and the rest of the party was severely damaged. We were SO ready to tie the ranger up and leave him as an offering to the wolves.

    I’ve also noticed that the dice seem to think that rangers don’t need to be able to tell which direction is north. Ever.

  39. Rhi says:

    Another classic, literally had to stifle laughter moment. Particularly the “I rolled 1 on diplomacy”.

    Also enjoyed the many, many battle-stories of dice causing chaos. I know I’ve had some moments, but can’t remember specifics as it’s been years since I played D&D.

  40. Kami says:

    I totally need that short myself…
    Best example of said attempts, Fumbling my attack with a poisoned weapon, failing my reflex save not to hit myself, then failing my fort save not to be poisoned. I do believe the three rolls were, in order, 1, 5, 2. I do believe I rolled three 1s that night before I finally changed my die.

  41. Kami says:

    Gah! Stupid typos!
    Shirt. I need that shirt. I am quite short enough already, thank you very much.

  42. SlytherinSarah says:

    Possibly one of the funniest comics for someone who wishes they could be so cool as to know how to play RPG’s. I have some friends that play D&D, but my work schedule is too hectic to join, unfortunately. I love how the commentary is added at the end- it helps people like me understand what is going on a little better. Although I have sat through many a conversation about past D&D campaigns and countless hours of watching a previous boyfriend play WoW, I’m not completely lost.

    Oh, and insanely massive LotR fan. That mixed with wanting to know how to play an RPG and how good this is keeps me reading this comic!

  43. Andrul says:

    The sad part is my dice hate me personally but love my wife passionately. I’m notorious for rolling poorly during character creation. So badly that our DM switched to point buy just to give me a fighting chance. So eventually, when I was starting my own campaign in a home-brew system that included the slight chance for both good and bad mutations my wife asks me to roll her stats for her. I laughed at her foolhardiness and rolled. On baseline 3d6 keep ’em as they roll, her human ended up with a 31 Con and 26 Intelligence (a friend later did the math, she had less than .001% chance of this. Thinking “My luck has finally changed!” I rolled up a character for myself just to see what I got. Only one stat that was double digit.

  44. Sten Darker says:

    lol! You should make a TShirt like that! And on the back, it has, perhaps, two dice rolled as snake eyes! And then the the dots have “angry eyebrows” and like a sadistic smile beneath the dice, it all comes together to make an evil face! :D
    This is an excellent story. It’s re-kindling my interest in LOR and making me wish I had learnt D&D thorally, instead of letting my friend explain only the basics to me through one of those simplified mock-ups. However, it is thanks to that, that I understand most of these jokes. :D


    spamming: zombie-net.ning.com , carvercreationsmedia.ning.com , http://view.playlist.com/9247852299 <-(how ’bout some music? :) )

  45. Donut says:

    i used to play with some friends who moved away, and one night we were playing a home brewed D&D game of mine based off of resident evil 2

    heres how it went down

    DM(me): The zombie rolls to hit you …. 20…20…..20 well you die

    5 minutes later during A”boss fight”

    DM: ok he rolls to hit the fighter 1…1…1….crap

    (when i dm rolling 3 1’s in a row kills you just out of sheer unluckyness {ie stabbed yourself with your own sword… through the chest})

    i think i killed myself (important npcs) around 3 or 4 times that game rolling straight 1’s until we just decided to quit

    p.s. im also a very unforgiving dm thanks to the people i play with so they get what they deserve lol

  46. Some random guy says:

    I had an experience almost the same as Gimli…
    ‘You make a diplomacy check. You have to get over a 12-your skill bonus. You roll a two.’

  47. Burny says:

    Over the years,i’ve seen players try to teach their dice lessons(particulary the bad tempered ones)one player made a ‘Duce hat’ for his 20 sider,and made it ‘sit in the corner’ for one hour;we all laugh when it worked(for about 3 rolls)Another player twice trown his dice outside after repeted bad rolls;once on the roof of a nearby building,once on my snow covered lawn;the next summer,as i was mowing the said lawn,i heard something and surprise! the dice re-apeard intact! i gave it back and it roll great afterward!

  48. ultimate rper says:

    ugh d20’s my one weakness *gasp* *death throes* lol

  49. James "Dairyllama" says:

    I’m at university and we have gamers just like your lot. In fact, when it comes to dice rolls, I am the legend. My first roll ever was a 1, which ended up with me cleaving into a friend’s shoulder. My rolling has never improved.

  50. Monty says:

    That guy who was looking for the fumble roll with ‘sh*t’ under it. I found it! I’m gonna buy one for each of my nerd friends.

  51. Escher says:

    Oh, boy… I remember one memorable d20 adventure. It was actually my introduction to pen-and-paper RPGs. It was post-apocalyptic future, and of course, there were mutants. A lot of them. Our party was scouting around the edge of a particularly big camp of mutants that had been doing nasty things, and our scout-y character went in for a look. Not surprisingly, he managed to botch nearly every single one of his Move Silently rolls… even after the DM basically ruled that the first batch of sliding rocks was dismissed by the mutants as “just some animal”. So, of course, he’s spotted, and the ENTIRE CAMP comes after us.
    Then the dice proceed to almost save us… well, except for our super-Charisma guy who had a British accent for no discernable reason. He got smacked around in combat… But before that, two mutants converged on the scout, and one swings hard with a REALLY huge axe…
    and proceeds to fumble, which results in him smashing said axe into the face of his companion and killing him outright. Then my Fast Hero character picked up one of the dropped axes and literally sliced one of them in half with a lucky crit.
    Later on, I attempt to get the dying high-Charisma character out of there, only to be caught by mutants and forced to surrender (everyone else had taken off long ago). Charisma-boy manages to talk them out of killing us outright… except then I notice I still have an axe. With lots of chunky bits on it from killing that mutant earlier. I make a desperate Sleight of Hand roll to rub it clean… and somehow pull it off.
    And then there was the time the same group played D&D and were summarily knocked out and captured by the very first encounter group we ran into. Mainly because the enemy rolled about 7 natural 20’s in a row. Smooth… looks like the dice simultaneously love and hate my group.

    Of course, then there was the time someone pulled a Gimli without a single roll of the dice… all because the annoying British man from the d20 adventure hears the guards to the city talking about a late convoy, and then marches up to them, holding out the party’s only gun, and announces proudly, “I’m the convoy!”

    (Holy crap, I wrote a lot… sorry… >_<)

  52. Brian T says:

    Horse fucker is my favorite part.

  53. WeaselButter says:

    I just love the way you capped Gimli’s face in that panel as he says that about his diplomacy roll. Classic.

    And I want a t-shirt that says “I roll natural 1’s!” O_o

  54. Trae says:

    My group once had the classic “everyone misses” combat against a boss. After clearing out a cave of about 40 orcs in a single battle, we took on their leader. About five combat rounds later… he finally died to being clubbed with a bow. What few hits we put on him were pretty low in damage.

  55. DaveMc says:

    @Andrul (#109): “On baseline 3d6 keep “˜em as they roll, her human ended up with a 31 Con and 26 Intelligence (a friend later did the math, she had less than .001% chance of this).”

    I must be misunderstanding you, because my math indicates a zero percent chance of this: how do you get anything over 18 from 3d6?

  56. Serenitybane says:

    LMAO! This was soo perfect!!!!!!! I was in tears after I saw Gimli’s lines.

  57. Maladjester says:

    A GM friend of mine had to create a special magic item for my Werewolf character to stop her from botching all the time. She could botch an average difficulty with eight dice — and did, several times a session. It was uncanny.

    I once saw a Shadowrun character killed by a bad roll — not in combat, mind you, but at the meet beforehand. The Johnson asked, “So what do you guys do?” and the street sam impulsively said “We do THIS” and whipped his knife at the party physad, thinking she’d be sure to catch it with her insane reflexes. She was surprised, as this stunt had not been rehearsed, but she still had about twelve Reaction dice to try with, so she really should have gotten it. She didn’t just fail. She Rule of 1’d it. She caught the knife all right….with her throat.

    We figured out the odds of Rule of 1 there were 1 in 2,176,782,336. The player who made that roll is oddly proud of it to this day. Somehow, at the time, the Johnson was still less than impressed.

  58. A girl named Jessie says:

    My dice and I have a love/hate relationship. Sometimes I’ll roll multiple 1s in a row, and then follow it with multiple 20s.

  59. Bucky says:

    Ha! I actually have a shirt that says “the dice are trying to kill me!” You can get one at this site: http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/unisex/gaming/9d0b/

  60. Chuck says:

    The dice not only are trying to kill my group, they almost did. While fighting a giant crocodile the warmage rolled a 1 to attack, and when he rolled for damage to himself he ended up at -2 hitpoints. As the paladin I was obligitated to take my turn healing him even though it was only -2. When I got to attack I rolled a 1 and was down to one hp. We’re level 1, the croc is level 4, thanks to our half-elf Ranger we survived, even though his d20 only rolls 5 in combat.

    Our rolling is getting so bad the DM tosses us his dice and says “what did it roll when I tossed it to you?” I don’t think he’s ever seen a group roll so bad. This other time we were fighting a small dinosaur and we had it surrounded before we could hit it finally.

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