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- Roy recruiting Vaarsuvius into the order in On the Origin of PCs. Specifically, he uses Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness to prove to the elf that, far from being just another fighter with intelligence as his Dump Stat, he's got a formidable mind that can rival any wizard's.
Vaarsuvius: Bah!! You are clearly only hiring me because I intimidated you intellectually, to the point where your masculine pride requires you to establish your dominance over my superior mind.
Roy: Maybe. Or maybe I'm hiring you because I require the creation of a managed spherical energy release with a thermal signature no less than 1850° Kelvin, which can be manifested at specific X, Y, and Z coordinates from verbal cues. I require this specific temperature because it is the minimum level at which necrotized epidermis has been proven to combust and I have reason to believe that my mission will require the incapacitation of multiple post-organic hostiles.
Vaarsuvius: So... you need Fireball spells to toast the undead you expect to fight?
Roy: Did I stutter?
Vaarsuvius: ... A pleasure to serve under you, sir.
- "YOU! BROKE! MY! SWORD!" is... pretty darn good.
- "Oh. Oh no. I wouldn't touch your skinny uptight ass with a standard-issue 10-ft. pole, you overbearing self-righteous bitch"
- After he beats Sabine, she tries to seduce him by saying that he can do "anything [he] wants" with her. Roy looks at her as she strips, cocks an eyebrow, and says "anything I want, you say?" and proceeds to knock her out the window.
Roy: You're right; that did feel better than before.
- The whole Roy vs. Miko final battle is a notable one for Roy, showing off some of his best wit and badassery so far. "Treasure type O" indeed... The page right after that one is awesome cubed times awesome squared to the power of awesome. POW!
- "Rematch". Yes, he failed; yes, Azure City was taken; and, yes, this still counts as a CMOA. Roy risked (and lost) his life to avenge a man he never knew for a father he never loved, but more importantly for the lives of friends and thousands of innocent people. He did this from a sense of courage and honor that makes most Paladins seem like cutthroats in comparison, and even though he lost, we'll always know that he tried. Made even greater when he demonstrates that his dedication to stopping Xykon is too strong for even his death to even hinder.
- The way he tells off his father, Eugene, in Heaven. It's not even an angry rant. It's a reaffirmation of what Eugene is, a selfish and bitter old man who's not even worth the effort.
Roy: I'm not going to change who you are as a person by shouting a few insults at you, no matter how clever they might be. I used to think that I could; that if I could just deliver the perfect retort, it would open your eyes a little. But if everything you've been through with Mom and Eric and Grandpa and the literal forces of the cosmos hasn't made you want to be a better man, I doubt a one-liner from me is going to do the trick now. You are who you are, and every time I stoop to the level of engaging you with an angry tirade, I'm a little more like you and a little less like Mom.
- Ending his fight with Thog by making the raging barbarian destroy a portion of the arena seating and bring it down on his head.
Roy: Cross-class... skill ranks in... [huff] ... Knowledge (Architecture and Engineering)...
THAT'S how I use my Intelligence score in combat, DUMBASS!
- Just to be perfectly clear
- Roy goads Thog into using Roy's own body as a battering ram to damage the pillars supporting the roof... This fight is so awesome that Elan's father congratulates him on it even though he destroyed part of the arena. One of the guards asks for an autograph. It's worth pointing out that, right before Mr. Scruffy knocked Sir Scraggly into the arena, Roy was overpowering hulked-out Thog.
- His ambush of the Linear Guild. With just a smoke arrow and a holy word, he manages to separate one member with a trap, flat out defeat another, and deafen most of the rest including one spellcaster that requires exact pronunciation, incapacitating half the guild in one swoop and disorienting the rest. As if that wasn't enough, when Nale rushes to get his sword, he gets ambushed by Belkar, and immediately attempts to put the latter into a suggestion spell... and fails because Belkar was also deafened by the holy word.
Roy: It's not a bug, it's a feature.
- Realizing that Girard's Gate was being hidden in a pillar that was marked "SORRY, YOUR GATE IS IN ANOTHER PYRAMID" and, upon finding it, deciding to destroy it so that no one can try to control it. Then you realize that Roy came to that conclusion thanks to investing skill points in a cross class skill. Knowledge [Architecture and Engineering] once again proves to be useful for the fighter. It demonstrates that his smarts are more than just for show.
- Page 917. With an entire army bearing down on him, two allies, and a single summoned outsider, Roy quickly and calmly comes up with a plan to survive for as long as possible. The outsider goes on the front lines (its damage reduction means mook weapons aren't going to do much) with Roy (who can carve through anything in reach with Great Cleave), Durkon works on hypnotizing enemy soldiers (while the turned ones get killed quickly, that means less people trying to kill them), and Belkar (who currently has the Constitution score of a half-dead field mouse) kicks up sand for concealment. And he comes up with all this in seconds, as he's getting pincushioned by crossbow bolts. He may not have the intelligence to match the comic's Chessmaster-level villains, but in terms of adaptability, Roy is unparalleled. Cutting a dinosaur and its rider in half in one swing is pretty awesome too, as Belkar himself admits. The whole scene is humorously lampshaded by Tarquin in that he meant for a tragic execution scene but ends up making Roy look badass in a climatic battle instead.
- Near the end of the battle against Tarquin, he applies his anti-caster move he learned from his grandfather, stopping Miron's Horrid Wilting spell cold and allowing his teammates to drive him from the field.
- When Roy learns that the purpose of the Godsmoot is to decide whether or not the gods should unmake the world to prevent the Snarl from being unleashed, he goes against the rules of the Godsmoot so he can give his two copper pieces on the matter. He points out that the gods have nothing to lose and a whole new planet of worshipers to gain from starting over, and that while he enjoyed the afterlife during his time there he's in no hurry to return to it. He wraps up by asking the gods for a little more time to fix things. The speech falls flat because the gods can't actually hear him, but every mortal present is moved by it.
- Shortly after delivering a great speech and breaking the rules in the process, he decides to play by (or more accurately abuse a loophole in) the rules. The expressions of everyone in the background illustrate the average reader's reaction to "DURKON!".
- His fight against the High Priest of Hel gets off to a spectacular start when he manages to shrug off the High Priest's vampiric gaze!
- Call Back: Roy has a high enough Wisdom to have been a cleric himself.
- Also, Durkon himself figured that Roy could shrug it off.
- During the fight, when it seems as though he's really down for good, he finally figures out the High Priest of Hel's identity: "Oh. I understand. YOU'RE NOT DURKON AT ALL!"
- He then proceeds to give him an awesome Curb-Stomp Battle, FINALLY using all the power in his sword (which, if you remember, can sometimes "glow with deadly green energy that particularly harms the undead") and venting all of his rage over Durkon's death in one sitting, not even letting the Priest of Hel get a spell in - which is yet another use of the move his grandfather taught him while in Heaven.
Roy: I am going to stop you, and if that means I never get my friend back because he was twisted into being you [strikes High Priest of Hel], then I will be sad, but you will be DEAD!
- In the end, he quickly guesses that he is not allowed to attack the new High Priestess of Hel, and is able to use Rules Lawyering to keep the Church of Hel from claiming Malack's staff and its obscure spells by snapping it in half, rendering it useless. He even uses the exact same logic that the former High Priest of Hel used when he almost killed Wrecan just so it can't be twisted.
High Priestess of Hel: That staff is the property of the Church of Hel, and the official regalia of the high priest. I hereby issue a formal request that it be turned over at once, in accordance with protocol.Roy: (small) Oh, of course, gotta follow protocol.Roy snaps the staff in half and tosses the pieces in her face.
- Haley decides to take a decidedly physical approach to passing a clichéd test of the mind. Just look what happens when she drops by again.
- Three words: "SNEAK ATTACK -- BITCH!"
- Haley renders Belkar speechless.
- *Knock Knock* "Who's there?" "Roland".
- Haley achieves a feat of trickery greater than any previous by stealing a diamond from herself to resurrect Roy. Note the page of the comic she stole it from.
- Behold, the power of lying.
- "You'll excuse me, of course, if I just go fix the world while you rot!"
- "HEY! TARQUIN!! Catch." Particularly impressive is that she manages to not only fire both arrows directly at Tarquin's eyes, but that she managed to do it with one arm broken and thus aiming while sitting on the deck and aiming with her foot. And she found another practical use for the manyshot feat most players find useless.
- After Bandanna gets the group to the Dwarf country, Haley refuses to let Bandanna's stint as captain end there. So she goes to the mechanics, and talks them from a 200,000 gp bill down to 43,000. Behold, the Game Breaker that is Diplomancy!
Andromeda: What? How-? Did she use magic on them?!
Roy: Nah, magic makes sense. What she does defies the natural order.
Haley: She also threw in a 25% coupon at the local potion master, and four free passes to brunch.
Elan: Ooh! Waffles!
- While Crystal is trying to kill her, she finally uses her Boots of Speed to take her far from the other people in town and find the time to convince Crystal that she is being used by Bozzok as a tool. Crystal promptly goes after Bozzok.
Haley:: I shot you in the face. Bozzok stabbed you in the back.
- Giving Crystal one of her own: "YOU DID THIS TO ME!"
- Haley finally putting an end to Crystal once and for all and showing how far she's come as a person. It's official: push her too far, and Haley Starshine will kill yo' ass... then go and enjoy a hearty brunch.
- Elan's very first Awesome Moment, chronologically, is when he meets Roy in On the Origin of PCs. Roy's having trouble recruiting adventurers, so Elan sets him straight by having him dress as a Mysterious Stranger and sit in the corner of a tavern. Just when Roy's ready to pack it in, a line of adventurers are at his table! That's right, if Elan hadn't used his Genre Savvy to help a complete stranger, the Order of the Stick might never have been formed.
- "Brother Against Brother":
Nale: No one denies me, Elan. Not father, not you, no one.
Elan: [blows a raspberry in his face] Deny. Deny. Deny! (stab) Deny the psychopathic egomaniac!
- Just like a Vin Diesel movie.
- Elan gets one in "Death from Above" after Taking a Level in Badass. Directly after that entrance he starts cutting up his brother, who wasn't expecting a fight at all. When his brother regroups and attacks him with reinforcements, Elan manages to duel his brother (an accomplished swordsman who handily beat Elan last time they fought) and creates an illusion to scare Thog (a Teletubby!) at the same time.
- "Rock the Boat":
Kubota: What are you doing?!? You'll sink us both, you fool.
Elan: Gosh, really? Good thing I'm not wearing any armor!
- And after that.
Elan: You were her captain... now you're going down with her ship.
- Elan manages to pull off an Awesome Moment and a Heartwarming Moment with a single headstone.
- Elan might be a bit smarter at using his skills than we've been led to believe. Bonus points for having done so on a succubus, of all creatures.
- Elan then evades Nale and Sabine using his Genre Savvy and, amazingly, his wits. Cornered on a building? He invokes Scene Transition. Nale's trapped him? He turns Amun-Zora's wrath on himnote . Nale and Sabine almost find him? CELESTIAL TREE SLOTH ATTACK!!
Sabine: Ahhhh! It's hanging on me! Get it off! Get it off!!
- Elan breaking the party out of their Lotus-Eater Machine by doing what he does best, being Genre Savvy. Even more awesome if you think about it. He showed real emotional maturity by being willing to accept that his perfect world is so unlikely as to be functionally impossible. A real change from his usual childish "the heroes always win" optimism. Not long ago it took burning people alive to make him see that his father was Evil. Not only that, he shows his growth by acknowledging his wishes were "childish ideas that never should have happened" and his family is "screwed up and broken". His maturity allows him to face reality, even at the cost of the happy ending he always wanted. And despite all that, he doesn't break. Quite the opposite; he's even more sure that things will work out in the end — and his optimism pulls Roy out of the funk he'd been in since Durkon died. Put another way, Elan saved the day through Character Development. Elan. Awesome.
- Right before going to his friends' aid, Elan takes a moment to give his father a long overdue verbal smackdown.
- In #927, Elan, of all people, comes up with a brilliant plan on the fly to save Roy's life and strike a telling blow against his father and his father's backup. And then, to rub salt in Tarquin's wounds, he immediately turns authority back over to Roy, trusting him to have a better idea to solve this mess.
- Elan literally stands between Roy and Tarquin, and tells his father that:
Elan: If you want Roy dead, you'll have to kill me first.
- The plan he made before finding Girard's Gate: to combat his Evil father, he called in a favor from his Good father-figure: Julio Scoundrél. And he did so by convincing Scoundrél to do what Elan was already doing: making a more interesting story by defying traditional tropes like the Mentor-always-dying cliché.
Elan: Tell him... tell him this: the hero of any story can defy danger — but only a special hero can defy stories themselves. And wouldn't that make a cool story anyway?
- Elan manages to defeat his father by being a badass. Haley shoots two arrows at Tarquin, and Tarquin catching them means that he's off-balance and clinging onto the railing. He offers Elan some better plot lines, and Elan thinks about it and says this:
Elan: You know, the first time I met Nale, we ended up in almost the exact same situation. He wound up hanging over a pit of monsters, and I pulled him up. He didn't understand why I did it. I told him it was because I'm the Good Twin, not the Neutral Twin.
Tarquin: Good, good, glad to hear it. Now pull me up, I think my fingers are slipping.
Elan: But see, Dad, that's the thing. I'm not a twin anymore. And you're not the real villain.
(Tarquin looks shocked as his hands slip off the railing)
Elan: Don't worry. You'll live.
- Bonus points for the "you'll live" being an Ironic Echo to Tarquin's prior reaction to Elan's Go Through Me moment. Also the sheer Fridge Brilliance of finding a reason he shouldn't have killed Nale that Tarquin can actually understand: without Nale as his foil, Elan is no longer "the Good twin" and so does not have all the former motivations he had, including potential motivations towards Tarquin. Elan weaponized an anticlimax and made it an awesome moment.
- Elan managed to think up a scheme to take down Tarquin that Ian couldn't find fault with (you have to remember how paranoid Ian is here) and at the same time, finally breaks the ice with him.
- "EVAN'S SPIKED TENTACLES OF FORCED INTRUSION!"
Trigak: Wait, what?
- V to Miko:
Vaarsuvius: Belkar is a horrible, loathsome, supremely selfish creature, who behaves contemptuously, laughs at the pain of others, has no manners whatsoever, and whose mental acuity would be compared unfavorably to that of a table. And yet I find I still prefer him to you!
- V beating Nale with genre savviness.
- V at the Battle of Azure City: "Paper Beats Rock!" and "MASS ENLARGE PERSON!" Basically, V's whole elemental-battling section of the Battle of Azure City is essentially a perfect combo, capped with the final, life-saving feather fall, of all things. Vaarsuvius is a wizard. Being ridiculously well-prepared is in the job description.
- V recognizes that Kubota is evil and blasts him away in one shot, thus saving the crew time in dealing with yet another villain. Also, that mustache did not do him any favors.
- V versus the elder dragon. It may have been brutal, it may have been evil, but it was undeniably awesome.
- V's second chance: although terrified beaten nearly to death, and with no spells that can help against an Epic-level Lich... giving up a chance of Feather Falling out of the tower to safety to go back to heal O-Chul. Also doubles as a CMOA and somewhat Big Damn Heroes moment for Blackwing, as he shows up exactly when his particular skill set, as a super-advanced flying stealth dinosaur, is exactly what O-Chul and V need to save the day. The fact that he wasn't able to drop the phylactery into the rift doesn't detract.
- Even more, when O-Chul attacks Xykon with nothing more than his fists, the once somewhat craven Vaarsuvius is right behind him, getting ready to throw cantrips into Xykon's eyeholes, despite visible terror.
- Immediately following that: "Guess what spell I cast before giving this to the bird." and the strip after it. Bonus points for the fact that V actually takes Xykon's advice to heart and uses it against him — it's not how powerful your spells are, it's how you use what you've got. Fittingly, Xykon is clearly impressed, when he realizes V has given Blackwing his phylactery.
- This is even more apparent in V's rematch with Zz'dtri, who's tailored his entire build to defeat V. After spending the majority of the duel blasting away to no effect, V realizes that by focusing on V exclusively, Zz'dtri has exposed a huge weakness to archers. So V brainwashes the Linear Guild's current Belkar counterpart (since Haley was Taken for Granite), who has dual crossbows and has him go to town. Keep in mind Vaarsuvius starts the counter attack with Haley's three favorite words and finishes by keeping calm and resisting Zz'dtri's taunts.
- Double-teaming Qarr with Blackwing to get the information that yes, V was responsible for everything V did during the soul splice (which the audience already knew), who Qarr is really working for, and that Roy and the others are no longer in the same location they were in when V fell down the hole. All in one page.
- V comes to the Order's rescue, snapping out of a Heroic BSOD to provide some much needed magic support and turning the battle around in the Order's favor.
- V still has their work cut out, but just their presence alone in the face of Tarquin having defied Elan's plan and being about to kill everyone and cripple his son is so awesome.
- The fight itself is an impressive display of magic, but how it ends is a great payoff of V's new policy of conserving power.
Laurin: I can counter any spell you have left, so why not just save yourself the pain and-
Vaarsuvius: I have in excess of twenty-five spells remaining. Not counting cantrips.
Laurin: *teleports away*
- "...weathercontrolweathercontrolweathercontrolweathercontrolweather--" All while Roy's popular sister is trying to distract him with boobs. Someone invested ranks in the concentration skill.
- And immediately afterwards, he puts Julia in her place with calm and common sense, making him the first person she acts respectfully towards since her introduction.
- It must be something about Leeky, because he gets another one against him here.
- Pretty much any time Durkon uses Thor's Might is a clue that asskicking is coming, but this one is acknowledged as awesome in-story (fitting, as it's his third against Leeky).
- Durkon knows the value of timing.
Durkon: I'm on the balcony because it be tea time.
- Durkon finally gets to use a holy word. Even more awesome now that the consequences of the Holy Word are clear: Sabine gets sent back to her plane and both Nale and Zz'dtri have gone deaf... as well as Belkar.
- Also in the ensuing battle, he manages to hold his own against Tarquin for a round or two, and even gets a compliment.
- In a non-physical example, Durkon's stubborn refusal to back down in the face of honeyed words, biased offers and the unspoken threat of death before him... to save Belkar, of all people. Sometimes that dwarven attitude works.
- Durkon just made a simple healing spell badass. Because Revive Kills Zombie... and other undead. To put this in perspective, he's going up against Malack who is quite possibly equal in level to Tarquin, and he's not just holding his own, but is able to No Sell several of Malack's attacks, and get several impressive hits in.
- And then he tricks him into talking so he can find him. And then mockingly compares him to Nale.
Durkon: Mebbe — but at least Nale keeps movin' around when 'e starts with tha pontificatin'!!
- Belkar outsmarks Yokyok.
- Belkar is being attacked by Miko but he can't fight back. What does he do? He mocks her.
Miko: At least I will be able to finally execute you for your crimes before I leave.
Belkar: Funny. I always figured I'd be killed by a paladin.
- "I AM A SEXY, SHOELESS GOD OF WAR!"
- Just when you think he couldn't top it, he undergoes a fullblown Vision Quest, and recovers from his coma just in time to kick simply ungodly amounts of ass. In short order: he slaughters half the Thieves' Guild (aided by Mr. Scruffy and the cleric of Loki), seduces the Guild's bard/rogue/sorceress mid-battle, saves Haley, and shows a more refined level of cruelty by not killing Crystal or Old Blind Pete (instead leaving him to the cleric who Pete just betrayed). In Belkar's own words: "Solve a man's problems with violence, help him for a day. Teach a man to solve his problems with violence, help him for a lifetime." Also shows himself capable of being a fantastic team player, perhaps the most important development.
- It was Belkar's idea to save bounty hunters Gannji and Enor from being executed in the gladiator arena by unleashing the Allosaurus normally kept to devour gladiators to shield them from the arrows fired at them. But he lets Ian, the one who picked the lock to the dinosaur's cage in the first place, take the credit.
- It's him, of all people, who snaps Roy out of his Heroic BSOD over Durkon's death (in his own way, of course). On an interesting note, this may be Belkar's first CMoA that doesn't incorporate any violence at all.
- Despite having recently been drained of most of his blood, Belkar thinks quickly enough to hide in Girard's sarcophagus to protect from the collapse of the pyramid. Even more unbelievably, he brings the rest of the Order with him. Considering the circumstances, that means it had to be a reflexive response. He reflexively saved the lives of Roy, Elan and Haley. Even if he could excuse it as just trying to save Mr. Scruffy (being carried by Haley), that's still remarkably quick thinking for Belkar, especially regarding the circumstances.
- Belkar tames and rides a goddamn Allosaurus! Even more awesome, as Roy points out, this involves actually acting like a ranger, which Belkar almost never does. Even even more awesome, the Allosaurus lets Belkar ride it because he was nice to it in an earlier strip (he set it free so it could eat its guards).
Belkar: Flee! Flee before me, worms! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
- Belkar being the only person on the team who's aware that Durkon is lying about himself — and he's aware because he has personal experience with character development, and he knows that Durkon has not gone through character development.
Belkar: I am going to shove the sunshine so far up where the sun doesn't shine that you will vomit nothing but warm summer days!!
Belkar: And FYI: I spent months trapped behind enemy lines where the only things I was allowed to kill were undead. So I've gotten pretty good at it, really.
- Belkar, being unable to shout for Roy because of Possessed!Durkon's Silence spell, turns around, activates some kind of aura, and goes out fighting, with the possibility that he survived a fall off of a massive cliff.
- It gets better. That aura? It's the Protection from Evil spell from his clasp. While it protects Belkar from several of his opponents abilities, it ALSO hurts Belkar nearly as much. As he needed to activate it himself, that takes serious Anti-heroic willpower.
- When the comic finally cuts back to him after he gets thrown out of the temple, Belkar once again frustrates legions of guessers about his death prophecy by displaying foresight and planning of all things!
The Team Pets
- Mr. Scruffy managed to survive Azure City's occupation, alone, for months before Belkar found him. Pretty impressive for a formerly pampered housecat.
- Mr. Scruffy manages to take down a caster, giving Belkar trouble during his badass rampage through the Greysky City Thieves Guild.
- Mr. Scruffy straight up disembowels a gladiator that was threatening Belkar, finishing the guy so fast he didn't even realize what happened.
- Blackwing's status as Morality Pet to V makes him a larger problem for the IFCC than anything else we've seen so far, and through his fight with Qarr he deduces as such almost immediately, while still dodging disintegration rays and remarking on his proud status as a "super advanced flying stealth-dinosaur".
- While flying with Roy's Belt of Giant Strength, saying how he needs to get it where it can do some good, all while Roy is having a rough time in a duel with Thog, Blackwing drops it... on Mr. Scruffy, who is currently cornered by Sir Scraggly. Mr. Scruffy then sends Sir Scraggly flying through a hole in the wall.
- New member of the team, Bloodfeast the Extreme-inator, becomes possibly the most destructive asset the Order has ever had, tearing through Empire of Blood troops like they were nothing and even going toe to toe with ANOTHER Allosaurus and absolutely owning it by tearing out its neck.
- "BIRD TO THE FACE!" Without command from V, Blackwing takes it upon himself to take a shot at Laurin and grabs a "bauble," i.e. one of Laurin's Ioun stones (orange, +1 caster level), in the process. That was not a poor decision.
- It's notable that Blackwing never seems to truly fear for his own life, sans when V tried to send him out against a Death Knight. He's faced down Qarr, Laurin, and even Xykon. All beings who are plenty more powerful than him, yet the only response we ever get from him is his usual adorkable snarkiness or him being a Drama Queen for the hell of it.
- A fridge moment of awesome for Bloodfeast comes up in #1014. Even after being polymorphed into a small lizard he's still willing to attack a vampire. The awesome moment is that he succeeds in damaging the vampire - No small feat given a vampire's high armor class and huge damage reduction. The surprised vampire even comments on it and decides to leave early instead of making sure all the animals die.
- The pets are being overwhelmed by a swarm of rats and Blackwing can't get V to respond to his Empathic Bond. So, while Mr. Scruffy fends off the rats, Blackwing finds a magic scroll and weaponizes Magic Misfire to blow up the room and all the rats.
Blackwing: Hmmm. OK. Well... the bad news is that this is a spell of Locate Creature - which is a completely useless spell in the current situation. The good news is that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.
- When the Linear Guild tries to recruit the newly vampirized Durkon after killing Malack.
Durkon: Aye... mebbe I haf changed. But tha two o' ye're still tha same old dicks! (brains them both with a single swing)
- Followed immediately by snapping Zz'drti's neck, thus additionally banishing one of the LG's summoned fiends, sending the other to fight the Silicon Elemental, scaring off Nale and Qarr and diving into the fight alongside the Order once more.
Nale: What are you doing? I helped you!
Durkon: An' I'm helpin' ye back. By cuttin' down on yer employee overhead.
- "GIVE ME MY STAFF!"
- After it is pointed out the storm on the ship is being caused by Thor, the High Priest uses a simple control weather spell and schools Durkon on theology.
- Even though his actions will destroy the world and enslave all of dwarfkind to Hel you cannot deny it is impressive the level of the Xanatos Gambit he has been running: enforce a tie in the Gods' voting to ensure the demigods have to vote, several of which are willing to vote in favor of the proposal, and when one of them balks down, tying the vote again and putting the destiny of the world in the hands of the dwarven clans, he has already prepared for that by having the priest he vampirized earlier with Malack's staff steal the Teleport Orb bought by Vaarsuvius so that they can teleport to the dwarven clans' meeting and dominate all of them to ensure they are the cause of their own destruction - and fulfilling the prophecy that got Durkon kicked out at the same time.
- In Start of Darkness, Xykon defeats Dorukan while giving an evil "World of Cardboard" Speech, followed by his brutal crushing of Redcloak's will. One line that stands out in light of some of Redcloak's claims of being the one who is manipulating Xykon:
Xykon: Oh, Redcloak. Don't confuse not caring with not knowing.
- Another one in that: Xykon has the Monster in the Darkness charmed to eat Redcloak and spit out the phylactery if Redcloak ever betrays him. So Redcloak's control over Xykon, as mentioned in the his section, may not be as ironclad as he'd like to think it is.
- Xykon ends the rather one-sided duel on the zombie dragon by explaining three things Roy failed to consider... Brutal, yet awesome.
- Xykon's Moments of Awesome tend to be things that would cross the Moral Event Horizon if they weren't so... stylish. Particularly the bouncy ball (especially with his ending line), the crown, and casually snarking at Soon mid-battle along with other more brutal moments in the prequel book Start of Darkness, like his slaughter of Lirian and Dorukan.
- Xykon mops the floor with V, ending the fight by crushing the elf with a rock. Followed by this monologue.: that's a Breaking Speech.
Xykon: I used to think spells equaled power too, back when I was alive. I've learned a lot since then. You know what does equal power? Power. Power equals power. Crazy, huh? But the type of power? Doesn't matter as much as you think. It turns out, everything is oddly balanced. Weird, but true. For example... (reaches out and puts the currently invisible Vaarsuvius in a choke hold) ...right now, power takes the form of a +8 racial bonus to Listen skill checks. So, Uncle Xykon, what's the moral of the story?
Vaarsuvius: Unnh... gllch...
Xykon: A big pile of spells isn't enough when the other guy has a big pile of spells AND the strength to crush your windpipe with his bare phalanges.
Xykon: And they died happily ever after. The end.
- "That eye? That's your individual Idiot Tax."
- Redcloak got passing grades in Chem. So far we've seen him use titanium, chlorine, osmium and silicon elementals. Made better by the Demon Roaches: "He besieged me with SCIENCE!"
- Redcloak's finest moment comes in "Change of Direction". Also interesting in that it's a rare villainous example (as in, not leading to a complete Heel–Face Turn) of a My God, What Have I Done? moment.
- Redcloak's casual anti-humanism:
Redcloak: Oooo, I'm sorry, this party is invitation only, and you? You're not on the list. If you have any questions, you'll have to take it up with my assistant. His name is "15d6 Points of Whirling Death for Humans".
Tsukiko: Fine. Where can I find him?
Redcloak: Right here. Blade Barrier.
Tsukiko: AAAH! HEY! I am SO telling Xykon about this!
Redcloak: Yeah? Don't forget to mention the elemental.
Tsukiko: Huh? Mention what about the elemental?
Chlorine elemental: kill all humans.
- Redcloak gets one along with Xykon when the two manage to defeat the entire Sapphire Guard, who are in ghostform, all by themselves, with Redcloak working out how to do so using negative energy to turn them.
- Handing Hinjo his ass with one spell is a huge heads up, not only to the party but also to the readers, that for all the bowing and scraping he does for Xykon, Redcloak is not someone to underestimate.
- "We stand on the precipice of a new Golden Age of goblin civilisation, my friends, and it all starts right here, right now." The subversion of Know When to Fold 'Em is an added bonus.
- Redcloak's effortless defeat of the resistance, with "implode" as additional Nightmare Fuel.
- Directly followed by his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Tsukiko and the Nightmare Fuel that follows. And the real kicker here? Redcloak controls Xykon. Not the other way around like the entire rest of the comic would have you believe. Every insult, humiliation, and frustration Redcloak has suffered is one he allowed to happen so he could maintain his subtle control over Xykon's actions. And then he goes and proves it by outright telling Xykon he killed her and basically manipulating the truth so that he leads Xykon to the conclusions he wants him to make without even having to lie.
- Very, very subtly, when Redcloak murders Tsukiko, he watches the whole thing, not even blinking or flinching as he stares straight at the Gory Discretion Shot. That alone shows how committed he is to the cause.
Monster in the Darkness
- Tries to hit lightly. This was probably when most people realized that there was a good reason Xykon and Redcloak kept the Monster around despite his personality.
- The Monster stomping the ground. Holy shit.
- Worries about O-Chul (also a Heartwarming Moment).
- And lets him escape. These two probably count as O-Chul's CMOA as well, reaching the heart of such a creature.
- In a surprising show of intelligence, he comes up with an extremely clever way to stop Xykon from killing "Mr. Stiffly"'s friends.
MitD: Which of these sounds like the hero you need to worry about: The last paladin of a conquered city, beaten but never broken, sworn to stop the evil lich who wiped out his holy order — or some random fighter guy you already snuffed once?
Redcloak: Yeah, but you're forgetting that Greenhilt has some... thing... about his father, I think? Crap.
Xykon: Weird as it is, I think the dim bulb has a point.
- O-Chul's performance in the episode of "Dead or Alive?" made an instant Memetic Badass out of the last survivor of the Sapphire Guard. On top of the events in that comic, his captors have apparently been doing this to him for months, and upping the ante each time — and he's still going.
- Tied up and helpless, O-Chul still makes Redcloak look like an idiot:
Redcloak: Logic dictates that the simplest solution is the most probable.
O-Chul: And you find the idea that I have some sort of secret knowledge implanted in my brain by the elders of the Sapphire Guard that has been so deeply suppressed that no magical effect can unearth it to be SIMPLER... than the idea that I just don't know anything?
Redcloak: ...I like the way I phrased it better.
O-Chul: No doubt.
- Even when he completely fails, he inspires heroism in others.
- Also a Moment of Awesome for the people of Azure City.
- His ability to inspire friendship in the Monster in the Darkness, and his speech to it/him. The demon cock roaches were desperate to shut him up because it was working! O-Chul was on the verge of inducing a Heel–Face Turn for Xykon's most powerful minion.
- Two words: Smite... Evil. This strip may as well be called " O-Chul Is Awesome". He escapes his cage, uses the bar he broke from the cage as a spear and stabs Redcloak in the eye with it. The goblin tried to disintegrate him and he took it like a champ - compare this to Roy when he got hit by the exact same spell, who got knocked off his feet. Redcloak retreated, leaving O-Chul with Xykon's phylactery.
O-Chul: (snatches phylactery) No more spells. (readies spear) No more goblin.
Redcloak: Word of Recall! (disappears, leaving the phylactery)
O-Chul: (looks at the phylactery) ...no more lich, then.
- To explain, most Cleric spells require a Divine Focus, a.k.a. a holy symbol. By ripping out Redcloak's holy symbol (and Xykon's phylactery), he essentially disarmed Redcloak from 95% of his spells. Or in other words, in two attacks, he utterly destroyed a nearly epic-level cleric while naked with an improvised weapon.
Azure City Citizens
- Miko Miyazaki:
- "I heard you the first time."
- Miko may be a crazy bitch, but you've got to respect how badass she is. She not only kicks Jirix's head so hard it decapitates him, but it hits another hobgoblin with enough force to kill him too. Then she casually snaps the last hobgoblin's neck while walking past him.
- And then there was the fact that she beat the entire Order of the Stick minus Durkon off panel after Roy's "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
- Lord Shojo's final words are definitely awesome. Satisfied deadpan snarking on the now fallen paladin who killed you? Awesome beyond words.
- He will stand between any two murderers he wishes. That's what a paladin is.
- "I call my proposal, 'Giant Dwarf with a Hammer'."
- He will stand between any two murderers he wishes. That's what a paladin is.
- Soon Kim:
- "Arise, my children. Only the honor of a paladin is unbreakable -- even by death itself. Ghost-martyrs of the Sapphire Guard -- ATTACK!" Man, does Xykon look scared, or what? The way it is delivered adds gallons of extra awesome. It's like something out of The Lord of the Rings.
- Followed by Lord Soon pounding both Xykon and Redcloak into the floor, proving himself to be a bigger danger to them than the rest of the Guard put together. It's pretty much the only time in the comic thus far that we've seen Xykon on the receiving end of a serious ass-kicking.
- Lien claims that if any hobgoblin approaches, she'll use her Blade on a Stick to gut them like the catch of the day. She wipes out dozens. Her speech was so awesome it named a trope.
- In a comic where the fourth wall is broken on an incredibly frequent basis, Tsukiko gets her Moment of Awesome by using Electric Orb to break the third wall for a change.
Haley: Hey, that's not a core sp— (ZZZZZZZZZZ POW)
- Kazumi Kato kills the assassins coming for her and her husband while heavily pregnant.
Kazumi: So what are the rest of you spineless mother%$@ers waiting for? I'm a goddamn baby-making, life-taking MACHINE! Why should I care how many people I have to kill? I can just make MORE in my TUMMY!
- During Redcloak's attack on the Resistance's headquarters, Thanh tells Niu to escape and get word to Hinjo. He then kills The Mole and singlehandedly charges Redcloak, and even after he's captured by one of the goblin's elementals, tries to goad him into fighting one on one by insinuating that he's afraid of the paladins. It doesn't work, and Redcloak has him killed, but it was still pretty Badass.
More importantly, he distracted Redcloak long enough for Niu to escape. Sure, Redcloak killed him, but the taunt did make Redcloak pause long enough to monologue at Thanh about how the taunt won't affect him, not realizing that Niu is escaping.
- Nale manages to lure the Order to Cliffport under the pretense of kidnapping Roy's little sister, while in reality the whole trip and ensuing battle is an elaborate plan to isolate Elan, switch places with him, frame him for the mass homicides Nale himself had been committing for several weeks prior, have him imprisoned, and supplant him among the Order as they leave town for another country. Just so you know, it's executed to perfection. Here's the definitive scene.
- And he was going to kill Haley too, after seducing her. He almost pulled it off, even after Elan came crashing back to save the day, by magically manipulating Elan to think that she was the Linear Guild's spy, temporarily turning them against one another.
- When he finally skips the complexity he proves himself as an actual dangerous mastermind, such as when he kills Malack in #906, and reveals that he's finally gained some Dangerously Genre Savvy. Ya do your old man proud.
Nale: You may have been thinking about killing me for the past two years — but I've been thinking about killing you since I was nine years old! I murdered your children as a practice run!
- Tarquin laying it all out: even if Elan defeats him, overthrows his empire, and slays him, Tarquin still wins, by sheer virtue of the awesome story that will result that will immortalize him as a legendary villain remembered for all time. And the real kicker is that once Elan runs away in horror at the realization, the final panel is of Tarquin calmly sipping his drink, basking in the moment.
Tarquin: If I win, I get to be a king. If I lose, I get to be a legend.
- Various scenes showing how Genre Savvy he is, including having actually competent guards. Awesome Moment with a side order of hilarity, there.
- "Parental Insight" contains two: First is him revealing he knew Elan, Haley, and Vaarsuvius were in cahoots with Roy, Belkar and Durkon all along, but put the band back together for his benefit... but not for catching Nale, since there is no chance he has left the city yet, or even the palace. How does Tarquin know this? As the strip's title says, parental insight... and because he got a Ring of True Seeing for his birthday. Cue an invisible Nale shitting himself as Tarquin smiles at him. Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny too.
- Taking on the whole Order of the Stick by himself was pretty cool, but Tarquin's real moment of awesome came here, after Malack gives him a much needed chewing out for wasting time with his own agenda right after telling Malack to hold off on avenging his children for the good of the group. Tarquin apologizes and tells his friend that he is absolutely right, showing a great deal of maturity for a villain (or anyone, for that matter), despite being the biological reason Nale responds to quasi-imagined slights with murder.
- Herd. Of. Freakin' DINOSAURS!
Tarquin: Hello, Nale. Walk with me. We have a lot to talk about.
- "What did you think the price for killing my best friend would be?" Made even more awesome by the fact that he let Nale walk right into this, and gave him every opportunity to stop himself. After all, if Nale didn't want nepotism, charity, pity, protection, or anything from Tarquin, what was left?
- Even as he's hanging from an airship by his hands, Haley (in her own above moment of awesome) shoots two arrows at him. He catches both of them, then still manages to grab back onto the airship.
- One word: HARM. That single spell completely changed the dynamic of his fight with Nale. Also, notably he follows it up with another damaging spell in what is considered one of the best cleric combos in the game. Guy knows his stuff.
- Malack follows up by putting Belkar in his place with minimal difficulty.
Malack: Hrrrm. Typical.note
- Then, during his duel with Durkon, he uses his gaseous form to escape a losing battle, allowing Durkon to free Belkar... who has been affected by Malack's vampiric Hypnotic Eyes and immediately attacks Durkon, causing Durkon to waste a couple spell slots and allowing Malack time to heal himself. Seems that Tarquin's Dangerously Genre Savvy rubs off.
- It also turns out that as he is a vampire and will live much longer than any of his teammates, he will control all three empires once they die. Tarqin's actually fine with it since it means his empire will continue, all he asked was that Malack get him a bigger statue later on.
- Malack also put a backdoor in the Death Ward he and Durkon created together that allowed him to dispel it with a single word, just in case he'd need to fight Durkon. He promptly helps himself to Durkon's blood. Dangerously Genre Savvy doesn't begin to cover it. And his staff can speed up the vampirification process so he doesn't have to bury those he turns for three days and wait when he's in a rush. Just WOW. The guy is officially as Crazy-Prepared as his boss.
- In strip #903, he gets this with a simple "No" as a supreme jab at Nale's mistake (and his own minor betrayal of Nale for not mentioning that he noticed the Order behind an illusion earlier). Malack is clearly over working with his hated enemy by now.
- The rookie officer in Cliffport goes from this, reveals that he is more competent than most here, then starts giving orders here, and the others listen. From rookie to unofficial Chief.
- The Oracle:
- You have to have been reading it for a while to understand just how awesome the Oracle really is. Explaining it just cheapens the experience:
Welcome to the village of Lickmyorangeballshalfling — Founded: Last Week — Pop.: Just Enough
[picture of the Oracle on the sign] No, seriously, give 'em a good once-over!
- And then he tops it by using his foresight to pre-arrange a wizard/cleric duo to show up right after he gets killed and resurrect him. He actually does this for everyone who's predicted to kill him.
- His subsequent handling of Roy counts too:
Roy: You're not a cleric, scaly. You couldn't banish me if you tried.
Oracle: True, I'm not a cleric... but ain't it funny how I always seem to have just the right magic item here in my robe? Dismissal!
- You have to have been reading it for a while to understand just how awesome the Oracle really is. Explaining it just cheapens the experience:
- When Celia intimidates members of Greysky City's Thieves' Guild... into legally reinstating Haley into the Guild.
- The Ancient Black Dragon gets one of these during her very first appearance.
Ancient Black Dragon: I am curious, however... what would happen if we turned the magic off?
Fascinating. It appears you cease to be a mighty wizard and become a fragile pointy-eared monkey. While I?
(seizes V in mid-fall and slams the elf into a cliff)
I am still a dragon.
- V's mate, after seeing him/her/it take down a dragon with ease, stands between V and the children armed only with a stick.
- The IFCC (Inter-Fiend Coordination Commission)'s entire lineup so far. Basically singlehandedly getting a character to cross the Moral Event Horizon, have him/her know (s)he's doing so by taking this, and generally reaching full Magnificent Bastard status in a rather short time... And while the temptation itself is all about a very nasty goal, they then proceed to pull out an interdimensional TV set and watch what transpires — revealing how deep their Magnificent Bastard status really is, while quickly becoming a comic foil to the very dramatic scenes to follow.
- A super-pissed-off Thog giving Roy a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in the gladiator pit. He may have lost in the long run, but he did beat a high-leveled main character so bad that it actually made Roy, Determinator that he is, give up and try to surrender... and then Thog beat him even more.
Thog: STOP TALKING!
- Strip #894 is a posthumous awesome moment for Girard Draketooth. The final room of the pyramid contains nothing but a huge stone block with the inscription "Sorry. Your Gate is in another pyramid." Which of course means that the first reaction of someone who finds it will be to go and look elsewhere. Instead, it's a double-bluff. The Gate is actually within the block, encased in lead so as to be undetectable by magic.
- Strip #923 has the entire Order working together to escape on the back of Belkar's Allosaurus.
Elan: See? SEE? I told you dinosaur rides were awesome!!
- In two strips Laurin first knocks out almost the entire Order with one blast, then reveals to Durkon (who was immune to her previous spell) that "[She] recognizes her friend's staff. And knows how to dispel its projections."
- Julio Scoundrél:
- Sabine gets one while cleaning up the TV she broke after seeing Nale's death, quietly telling V (who was still in Hell at the time) all she can about Tarquin, Laurin, and likely Miron. That also means when V told everyone to attack Miron first earlier in order to trigger his contingency spell, it was likely because Sabine told the elf about it. Not only is it great revenge, it doesn't put her at risk to get it.
- The Snarl's first "real" appearance in the comic. Terrifying, and awe-inspiring.
- Durkon's mother, as revealed in this Whole Issue Flashback: goes straight from a sweet talk with her infant son about the sky and how his father used to love it to racing to catch a fellow dwarf before he falls down the mountainside, holding him back long enough for others to arrive and pull him to safety, then brushing it off as something any dwarf would have done. Did we mention that she only has one arm, and so that's dedicated solely to holding up the other dwarf, and she doesn't even think about the fact she has nothing to stop her from being pulled over with him?
- #952 reveals that the horrible storm the boat is going through is Thor's work, meaning he likely has figured out what Hel's up to already and is trying to stop her High Priest from reaching the dwarven lands. This actually gives the High Priest an Oh Crap! moment and makes Durkon smirk in triumph.
- Crystal's Return.
Crystal: I WILL KILL YOU STARSHINE
- Crystal finally gets to take revenge on Bozzok. She does so by punching right through his chest and out the other side, then savagely beating his corpse.
- Crystal's Return.
- Grubwiggler gets one during the same scene for the brief but pointed "The Reason You Suck" Speech he gives to Bozzok.
Kickstarter Project a.k.a.: The Fans
- Rich Burlew wanted to do a fundraiser on Kickstarter to see if he could raise enough money to fund the reprint of War And XPs. He wasn't expecting much, thinking that he wouldn't even get the $57,750 he needed, and joking that at least he'll have an excuse as to why he doesn't do another print run. What happened instead blew him, and countless others away. He made the $57,750 within a day and a half, before finally coming to a grand total of $1,254,120 by 14,952 backers. Put in perspective:
- That's an average of about $83.87 per person.
- That's an average of about $40,455.48 per day.
- That's 2,127% funded from the initial goal of $57,750.
- That's only the third project to surpass a million on Kickstarter.
- That's the most funded project by a single person (rather than a company), ever, on Kickstarter.
- That's enough to fund a size increased print run for 7 books (whatever a print run is, plus 2000 extra), plus all the included swag.
- That's enough that after taking into account all the swag funding, the print costs, the local taxes, and the postage, Rich actually ran out of ideas on what to spend it all on. He opted for site and comic maintenance, plus some extra for funding assorted projects.
- At the time, that was the second most amount pledge to a kickstarter project. Admittedly, it has since been surpassed so many times it's not even in the top 10, but it was an accomplishment.
- During the last hour of the kickstarter, fans checking the progress of the kickstarter actually brought down the entire server for Kickstarter.
- For more information, check for Rich's Kickstarter updates (plus an entertaining graph). For details on the amount raised, check to get an in depth look at the funds raised.