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Lord of the Rings is more or less the foundation of modern D&D. The latter rose from the former, although the two are now so estranged that to reunite them would be an act of savage madness. Imagine a gaggle of modern hack-n-slash roleplayers who had somehow never been exposed to the original Tolkien mythos, and then imagine taking those players and trying to introduce them to Tolkien via a D&D campaign.—The Blurb for the first strip
Think about it. Loads of Backstory, few battles, limited treasure (even if you aren't expecting a Monty Haul campaign), and lots and lots of talking (since many events are told to others after the fact).
This would make for a frustrating game. But it makes a great comic.
DM of the Rings uses screen captures of the films and places them in the format of a comic book. The comic never shows the faces of the players (although the short-lived original follow up, Chainmail Bikini did). Instead, we see shots of the films as actions the players are taking.
The comic doesn't really satirize The Lord of the Rings as much as it makes fun of the the way roleplaying sessions tend to go, especially the struggle between the Game Master and players. It's been described as an overall example of how not to conduct a campaign in general.
DM of the Rings provides examples of:
- Aggressive Negotiations: The unnamed DM becomes rather upset at the heroes for killing Saruman, Grima, and the Mouth of Sauron in parley.
Aragorn: Yeah, let's speed this up. (kills the Mouth of Sauron)
DM: What? You attack him? During parlay? What is wrong with you guys? This is the third time you've killed someone during negotiations!
Legolas: And yet they keep falling for it! It's hilarious!
DM: You're supposed to be a king! Can't you at least pretend to be one for a few seconds?
Aragorn: If I hadn't shot him Legolas would have.
Legolas: He's right, too. I was just about to announce my attack.
- All There in the Manual: The DM has most of the important story points in notes he wants the players to read, but of course they refuse.
- Anything That Moves: Sometimes, Aragorn's tendency to mistake elves for women is taken as this.
Theoden: Aragorn, we are in no position to turn away friends, no matter how disturbingly attractive you find them.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Aragorn wants to sleep with Eowyn. So the DM lets him... and then tells him to make a fortitude saving throw vs disease.
- Canon Sue: In-universe, that's how the players view Gandalf.
- Cliché Storm: In-Universe. Even the tropes that weren't made by the books become RPG clichés in the hands of the DM.
- Critical Failure
- When they first meet the riders of Rohan, Gimli rolls a 1 on diplomacy and addresses them with "tell me your name, horse f--" "GIMLI!". What makes it even funnier is that Gimli's player said that on his own accord. He was role-playing his own critical failure.
- Then there's the time Aragorn rolls a 1 on falling off a Warg, even though he was trying to. Although that was just the DM trying to kill him off after he was particularly annoying.
- Also when Legolas tries to shoot Saruman. Subverted in that the DM ends up raving about how he killed Saruman before realizing Legolas scored a 1, so he changed it into killing Grima instead.
- Cutscene: This is basically how the DM wanted to run the game, and actually did it in a couple scenes, like when Gandalf freed Theoden.
- Cutting the Knot: The players come up with increasingly ludicrous (and hilarious) ways to do this to the entrance of the Mines Of Moria rather than come up with the password (which the DM ends up screaming at them in frustration).
- Deadpan Snarker: Everyone.
- Deep-Immersion Gaming
- Did Not Do the Research: The dungeon master is convinced that corsairs means sailing ship when it actually means pirate or privateer --- here.
- Discredited Meme: In-Universe, here.
"My own suggestion for the 4.0 edition rules: Anyone who quotes Holy Grail during a session should be made to eat their own character sheet."
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Legolas gets this a lot from Aragorn... make that everyone.
- Even Nerds Have Standards
- Face Palm: Frodo here.
Frodo: Oh no. Who let The Roleplayer into the group?
- "Faux To" Guide: A lot of the blurbs present bad roleplaying as the proper thing to do.
Remember, nothing will spice up your campaign quicker than long descriptions of NPCs doing spectacular stuff while the players sit around and watch.
The best way to keep players on the railroads is to place large obvious landmines on either side of the tracks.
- Follow the Leader: Darths and Droids, Benders and Brawlers, One Piece Grand Line 3 Point 5.
- Game Breaker: Gandalf. So much so, the first idea the party has when first meeting the Balrog is leave him behind to fight it alone. And he survives!
- Genre Savvy: Well... kind of the whole point really. For extra comedy, the characters get occasional Wrong Genre Savvy moments.
- GMPC: Gandalf
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Aragorn's Backpack.
- Hypocritical Humor: When Gimli invokes Loophole Abuse so the players can perform a Fastball Special...
Aragorn: Good one, Gimli. Nice to get a fair ruling once in a while.
Gimli: Fair? Ha! Back when I was a DM I never would have let my players get away with something like this.
- I Die Free: Boromir, because Frank refuses to roll a new character on the grounds that he's finally not being railroaded any more.
- If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: Discussed when Gimli is searching the dead orcs for loot. Author's comment for the same strip provides one of the page's quotes, even.
Gimli: Because our little halfling buddies are in here somewhere, and I know they had some good stuff.
Legolas: Dibs on their cloaks!
- Imagine Spot
- Legolas killing the Mumak is presented entirely as a player suggestion for fighting, which is immediately shot down.
- This bit is Gimli's player's suggestion of how to make Gandalf much, much cooler.
- It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: The beginning, lampshaded.
- Munchkin: Legolas
Legolas: Side? Man, I'll follow whoever can score us some loot and a fair fight.
- My Friends and Zoidberg: Gimli's introduction of the party to Theoden has this. This is as much because Gimli just doesn't care enough to remember Gandalf (as he is an NPC).
Gimli: Greetings, wise King Theogan. I am Gimli and these are my companions Aragorn and Legolas.
DM: And Gandalf.
Gimli: Right. And Gandalf.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Players keep screwing up the names.
Gimli: My name is Gimli, son of Groin.
- Done on purpose when they first meet Legolass.. Leggo of my ass... Legolas.
"He should have been named Leggo of my ass, because you're going to be saying that a lot."
- And then getting the names right, but referring to them wrong.
Aragorn: Hail to the king, baby! Aragorn, son of Anduril, is back!
DM: Anduril is the name of your sword, dumbass.
- Frodo would like to remind you that his name is not Dave.
- Mythology Gag: The DM asks why Aragorn isn't using Anduril (the reforged sword of his ancestor). Aragorn asks when he got that and the DM realizes he forgot to give it to him at Rivendell leading to a hasty visit from Elrond at the Rohirrim camp. This is a reference to the differences between the books where Aragorn got Anduril at Rivendell and the movie where they had to have Elrond visit him at the camp.
- The "parley" with Saruman can also be seen as this, seeing as in the books Saruman doesn't die until the very end of the story.
- Nothing but Skulls: Skewered a scene from the movie showing the Paths of the Dead.
DM: The walls crack open, and thousands of skulls are released!
Legolas: Oh Crap.
DM: They tumble down from above, forming a great avalanche of death. The horrid sight is-
Aragorn: Skulls? Like, only skulls?
Aragorn: But that makes no sense! [...]
Gimli: I'll bet this was a robust culture. Imagine their funerals... "Oops, Granny's dead, let's lop off her head and chuck it into the big bin to be dropped on adventurers."[...]
DM: The skulls continue to pour in, filling the room and threatening to crush your nitpicking, over-analyzing characters.
Aragorn: No problem, I'll just roll my saving throw vs. ridiculous contrivances.
- Off the Rails: Brutally defied by the DM most of the time, save for when the players get the drop on him. Like when Legolas gets a critical/max damage and ends up OHKO-ing Gollum.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Spoofed here.
- Perpetual Poverty: The party is really unlucky when it comes to looting. And really frustrated about it.
Legolas: How's the looting going?
Gimli: I've searched all the bodies, and we got just enough gold to buy an ale.
Legolas: You mean one for each of--
Gimli: To share.
- Precision F-Strike: The "Horsefucker" joke, as done here.
- Radial Ass-Kicking: The tactical... originality of this maneuver in Real Life is lampshaded.
- Railroading: A really blatant case.
- One of the most obvious examples. The DM clearly has a big conversation planned between Gandalf and Wormtongue. After Wormtongue's first line, Gimli's player steps forward, interrupts Gandalf's response, and introduces the party. The DM repeats Wormtongue's line and continues with Gandalf's response as if that simply didn't happen.
Legolas: Oh no. It looks like we've entered a non-interactive cutscene.
Aragon: Entered? We've been in one since Rivendell.
- The Real Man: Aragorn
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: Used as the punchline here.
- The Roleplayer: Gimli
- Running Gag: Lots.
- Aragorn pretending male elves are chicks.
- Legolas' name and gender.
- "I hate this campaign!"
- The lack of brothels in all the towns. Also, the fact that they all suck.
- The DM rambling on while the players talk amongst themselves.
- Rules Lawyer: Happens a lot. The DM will do it to keep everyone buckled up in the campaign and the players to either annoy the DM (such as an instance Gimli argued against disturbing the army of the dead because it was against his and Legolas's in-character morals), or to cheat like a bandit (such as Aragorn convincing the DM that they took their horses through the caves, onto a boat and throughout Gondor, despite never using or riding them the entire way from there to Gondor).
- Schrodinger's Gun: Here, when the dice fall in an unfortunate spot.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The game has eight players at one point, and by the end only three remain.
- The comic was originally supposed to end with all but one player leaving the campaign, so he then goes off to play Mechwarrior.
- Even Aragorn almost does this at the very end, before he learns of his Awesome Moment of Crowning.
- Players Gone: Boromir (because he's dead and wants to stay that way; see I Die Free), Frodo (because Dave wanted to play a Star Wars campaign, with him DM'ing), Sam, Merry, and Pippin (who went with Dave).
- The hobbits eventually return late in the game, but this time, they are NPCs.
- Screw You, Elves: After a long rant about how the elves' town sucks in this comic, the following
Aragorn: Know what I'm thinking?
Boromir: Only you can promote forest fires?
- Seinfeld Is Unfunny: In regards to The Lord of the Rings influencing D & D, as Aragorn comments that the party has been fighting nothing but orcs (also, the blind pond squid being called Watcher):
"Whoever wrote this story has no imagination at all!"
- Shaggy Dog Story: After everything the players have gone through, nothing they do in the end matters and the story is determined by Frodo (who at that point is an NPC) succeeding at a will save. Aragorn and Gimli are not amused, but Legolas think it's hardcore.
- Speechbubbles Interruption: Happens almost everytime to the DM when he attempts to tell the story, and it all starts in the First panel of the comic.
- Stupid Sexy Flanders: Aragorn thinks all elf chicks are hot. Even when he knows they're male.
- Take Your Time: Three days after the armies left Minas Tirith for Mordor, the DM reminds Aragorn that he forgot to heal Eowyn and the hobbits that were wounded in the previous battle. So, instead of leaving them to their fate, he decides to go all the way back, heal them and come back, leaving the army waiting on the road for six in-game days without any consequences.
- Talking Is a Free Action
- Brutally subverted by Legolas, who manages to kill Wormtongue and Saruman while the latter was trying to make a speech.
- Played straight here.
- This Is Sparta
- Trope Maker: The "movie as an RPG" comic.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Strip LXXXIII. Is also a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Gimli and elicits an Oh Crap from Legolas.
- Traveling At the Speed of Plot: Lampshaded.
- Unusual Euphemism
- "Conan's Codpiece!"
- Don't forget his "well-oiled nipples."
- You All Meet in An Inn: One of the major divergences from the book is that this campaign starts out at the Prancing Pony.
Frodo: Please, please don't say we meet in a tavern.
DM: In a tavern called the Prancing Pony, an age-old meeting place...