The founder and chief executive officer of PvP Magazine, Cole Richards is, along with Jade, the grounding center of the main cast, often contrasting with the wild antics of the main cast (though he's been known to go off the reservation himself). Brent's college roommate and best friend since high school, Cole iswas the only married member of the main cast. He's also the only one with children. Allegedly based on Richard Stockton, a friend of Scott Kurtz's.
The co-founder of PvP Magazine and Cole's closest friend, Brent Irving Sienna-Fontaine, is in many ways Cole's Foil. Where Cole is (usually) responsible, Brent often is brash and egotistical, and where Cole is proud of his geekiness, Brent vehemently denies it. Cole uses Windows, Brent uses Macs. You get the idea. However, while the two are very different, they also share many similarities, such as similar interests. Also, as of May 2008, Brent has left his place among the comic's bachelors and is now married to his long-term girlfriend, Jade Fontaine.According to Scott Kurtz, Brent isn't based on anyone in particular, but his marriage with Jade is a "reflection" on his to his own wife, Angela.
Animal Motif: The panda. He even dresses like one most of the time. The "Panda Whisperer" believes that the Office Panda attacks him because he considers Brent a rival Panda.
Geeky Turn-On: One of many things that can turn Brent on is using a Mac.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Consciously claims to be evil (as a joke), bitterly snide and cynical, and generally rude to others, Brent nonetheless has a warm soft center you can get to if you try, often shown to Jade or to Skull (ironically given Skull is the one he is often most derisive of).
Hollywood Nerd: Played with. Unlike most examples, Brent isn't meant to be representative of nerds, but he clearly is one, in spite of breaking many stereotypes regarding nerds (handsome, socially adept, thin, etc.). Notably, he denies being a nerd constantly.
Want proof that he's a nerd? His proposal to Jade involved dressing up as Emperor Palpatine and then Han Solo.
For a long time, the fact that Brent never took his sun glasses off and no one in the cast had seen his eyes was one. Ever since The Reveal happened (when he married Jade), this is no longer as much an issue.
Curiously, the gag was actually dropped on one separate occasion, as part of a different joke. Every other time, it was played straight, to truly ridiculous levels, such as one time he was in a full-body cast. Jade says he never takes off the glasses. Never.
It's been permanently dropped now that Brent has started wearing regular glasses, in part because his constantly wearing his shades damaged his vision so badly.
Another Running Gag that's been dropped has been his constant suffering at the hands of the Office Panda, which started when he tried to replace Skull with the Panda. As of 2010, their feud has stopped and they're even friends — of a sort.
Shipper on Deck: Less enthusiastic about it then Jade, but he does help get Francis and Marcy back together and also takes part in the attempt to hook up Miranda and Reggie.
Jade Evelyn Fontaine
Jade Evelyn Fontaine-Sienna is, along with Cole, the most responsible member of the PvP staff and most likely to get work done. However, her work ethic strains against her own impulses for mischief and addiction to online gaming. Nonetheless, Jade is something of a maternal, governing figure for the group, who is at least as likely to try and be responsible as she is to goof off. For a long time, she was also the only female, before Marcy and later her sister Miranda were hired.In 2008, Jade married her long-term boyfriend Brent Sienna, after several failed proposals on the latter's part. After debating over whether to change her name or not, the couple settled on a compromise. This made her, along with her husband and Cole, the only married character in the series.
Author Avatar / Write Who You Know: According to Scott, Jade is partially modeled after his wife. According to Angela (Scott's wife), Jade's more similar to him. Take your pick.
Dark and Troubled Past: Not really. But the rest of the cast acts as if her single night in juvenile hall and teenage antics are a traumatic backstory, though in sort of an Evil Is Cool sort of way.
Dating Catwoman: This is how Cole and Brent (to a lesser extent) saw her date with Max Powers.
Gamer Chick: Averted. While Jade is a gamer and she is a woman, she doesn't fall into the particular stereotypes this trope exhibits.
Geeky Turn-On: How did Brent get back together with Jade after their nasty break-up? By courting her online as a player on Dark Age Of Camelot, dressing up in a big chainmail suit, and asking her to a romantic get-away in Las Vegas (where they had broken up the year previous).
Shipper on Deck: Jade maneuvers Francis and Marcy into getting back together and also tries to hook up her sister Miranda with any responsible man she can find. Double Subverted when her attempt with Miranda and Reggie backfires, only for them to get together anyway.
Straw Feminist: In the strip's early days, Jade was a lot more extreme regarding her views of sex relations, particularly as they pertained to gaming. Over time, she's mellowed out and it's no longer an issue in the comic, possibly due to the increasing awareness of female gamers in pop culture.
The Chick: Often resolves disputes. Unless she's part of the problem.
Francis Ray Ottoman
Initially the only minor in the cast, Francis is both a vindication and indictment of Generation Y (1980s through mid 1990s), both being incredibly intelligent and quick on his feet but also being self-centered and often obnoxious. Initially cast as something of a hardcore PC user, both as a contrast with Brent's Apple obsession and as a commentary on gamers deriding the console experience. Since then, however, Francis has branched out in other forms of nerdom and no longer has a particular prejudice against either Macs or consoles. Typically, Francis is used to represent the youth opinion in a battle of generations or as an example of a nerd who's truly proud to be one with no reservations.
Important Haircut: Averted. While Francis does change his hairstyle significantly at one point due to Miranda calling it "cute," it turns out to be completely unimportant character-wise. It stays that way, though.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Less so than Brent, but he's shown genuine compassion and concern for others a lot more frequently as of late.
Finally resolved when Francis and Marcy get married during a gaming competition in Vegas.
Viva Las Vegas: Francis is sent to Vegas with Marcy by Lucille to represent the magazine at a major gaming competition, despite (and in part because of) the conflict over their feelings for one another. They get drunk and marry, the subsequent freakout leading to them abandoning the tournament.
Skull Theodore Troll
Skull Theodore Troll is a 400-year old troll who is the only non-human member of the PvP staff. Childish and innocent, Skull is something of an odd match even discounting his mythical nature, being completely sweet and good-hearted, quite large, and also unpaid (he works there officially as an intern). Skull was originally imported from Scott Kurtz's earlier comic, Tales By Tavernlight, and was modeled (at least initially) after the trolls featured in Ultima Online. Since then, however, he's become an integral part of the cast, the comic's mascot, and developed a rich backstory. His flatulence has also become a subject of great notoriety within the strip.It was later revealed that Skull has in fact been Brent's guardian angel since Brent was a small child. How this fits in with his earlier backstory is unclear.
Author Avatar: To a certain extent, Skull represents Scott Kurtz.
Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The entire method by which Skull's species (and all other mythical creatures) exist. Without people's belief in them, they cease to exist.
Expansion Pack Past: Initially, Skull was just an import from Tales By Tavernlight, which was set in the world of Ultima Online. Then, it was later established that the characters of Tales By Tavernlight actually existed in the historic past. At some point, it was revealed Skull was present during the War of the Ring. Then, his cousin Shecky was revealed. Lastly, it appears that in addition to all these other details, Skull has also been Brent's guardian angel / imaginary friend since childhood.
I'm a Humanitarian: An early Running Gag was Skull wanting to eat Francis. It was never made clear if this was true or if Skull was just joking around. Another early one-off joke had Skull note that monsters use Big Macs as a unit of measure for high-calorie food - a fat Bavarian child was apparently the equivalent of 150 of them.
Samus Is a Girl: Early in the strip Skull announced he was female. This was later revealed to be a joke on Skull's part to get attention.
Weirdness Censor: Certain people can't see Skull. It's unclear exactly how this works, since while it was initially suggested only the Pure Of Heart could see him, this had a principle flaw: the person in question who couldn't see him (Max Powers) isn't any more evil then Brent, who can. Furthermore, later on, Shecky shatters Max Powers' inability to see him.
Fridge Brilliance hits when you realize that the reason Max and others can't/couldn't see Skull likely has to do with them not believing in mythical creatures. Most people who can't see Skull see a dog (or a gorilla) instead, even though he doesn't look like either.
Arch-ennemy of Cole... Or so he seems to think about him that way. His animosity towards him dates back to college, where Max "stole" a girl Cole liked.
Badass Beard: Happens at some point. He shaved it, but grew it back.
Growing the Beard: Almost literally. Max becomes more and more likeable as the comic goes on, he literally gains a beard, becomes able to see Skull (he was the only one at the office not able to see him), saved the magazine... And moved the entire cast to Seattle.
I Did What I Had to Do: Max broke into Cole's office to search for bank statements because Cole was ignoring Max's concerns about the magazine's finances even though Cole knew they were pretty much screwed.
I Reject Your Reality: In a post, Kurtz explained the reason he couldn't see Skull was because he refused to accept him. An abandoned concept from the Tales by Tavernlight crossover would have featured his counterpart unable to see the Delorean. The fact that he can see him now is a sign he's grown.
Reason You Suck Speech: When he tried to celebrate Lucille's birthday, she revealed that she filled her calendar with fake birthday entries. Obviously, she doesn't like her birthday, and doesn't want anyone to celebrate it. This led to the following exchange between them:
Lucille: Smarter men than you have tried and failed to discover my birthday. Nice try, though.
Max: Yeah, well smarter women have tried to convince themselves they're happier being alone, Lucille. And failed. Nice try, though.
Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: In the beginning. It's even repeatedly lampshaded by the comic that Max isn't bad; Cole and Brent just hate him.
Small Name, Big Ego: Subverted with Max Powers. The audience is initially warned that he's one, but upon closer scrutiny, it turns out that Max is actually a pretty decent guy (if a bit of a dork).
Prior to his Great American Journey sanding off the obnoxious edges of his personality, he was routinely treated as one, even though he didn't really deserve it. Cole hated him with a passion; none of the others felt quite so strongly, but they found his dorkiness so incredibly grating that it overshadowed his numerous redeeming qualities.
Magnificent Bastard: She managed to save PVP, and to get back Cole in the team (who, at the time, quit his job). Later, she manipulated Cole so he would get back in the game and start dating again.
She decided to send both Marcy and Francis to Vegas (originally only Marcy was to go) after realizing that the heated rivalry driving their relationship could benefit the company at the gaming competition, conveniently also leading to Marcy and Francis reconciling their relationship (though it is made clear their eloping caught her by surprise).
Self-Deprecation: She tries to joke about it, but it appears that she doesn't have a so high opinion of herself:
Lucille: Darren was kind and generous when we got married. I'm the one who made him bitter and cruel. I—I'm afraid I'm not a very good person. *ahem* Now you know why I have people sign NDAS prior to my drinking.
Not So Stoic: She had a breakdown years ago, when she was still married to Darren. Also, when a very drunk Cole reveals that he tattoed Kermit the Frog on his right buttocks, she burst out in laughter.