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The Order of the Stick
For the Order's animal companions (Mr. Scruffy, Blackwing, and Bloodfeast), see Animal Companions.For Banjo, see Divine Beings.
Roy: Let my people handle this, we're trained professionals. Well, we're semi-trained, quasi-professionals, at any rate.Led by Roy Greenhilt, the Order is a group of six PCs (plus a familiar and later two animal companions), out to destroy the evil lich Xykon and prevent him from taking over (or worse, destroying) the world.
- Badass Crew: Definitely.
- Hold the defense of Azure City together almost by themselves.
- After the destruction of Girard's gate, the much-depleted Order still poses a credible threat to an entire army of Faceless Goons.
- Casual Danger Dialog: The whole order gets up to this regularly, due to abuse of Talking Is a Free Action and the fact that they're Deadpan Snarkers. Vaarsuvius and Belkar, however, especially stand out, the former being generally unafraid (of combat), and the latter being a Fearless Fool. Elan gets to do this whenever it's narratively appropriate, due to being a bard, and Roy gets quite a bit due to the fact that his sheer exasperation and/or frustration with the absurdity of the Order's circumstances overshadow his fears.
- Deus Exit Machina:
- Vaarsuvius is removed from several fights due to being too powerful, such as falling off the wall during the battle of Azure City, absent from most of the fleet fights, temporarily thrown into an alternate realm of ranch dressing beings, falling down a booby trap during a panic attack...
- Removing Durkon from the equation is just as tough. He was the only match for the druid Leeky, he's Roy's best friend, and until Elan invested in learning some spells, the only healer. Hence things getting really tense when he's turned into a vampire by Malack.
- Destructive Saviour:
- During the first story arc, they defeat Xykon and drive off his minions, saving the world. Then they blow up the Dungeon of Dorukan because Elan can't resist activating the Self-Destruct Rune.
- During their stay at an inn, they foil an assassination attempt on a visiting king, but Belkar inadvertently sets off the assassins' explosives and destroys the inn. Sensing a pattern?
- Azure City's castle also blows up not too long after their visit, but here they can hardly be blamed for it... at least not directly.Vaarsuvius: It is troubling that we can now recognize our failures by immediate auditory familiarity.
- And Girard's Pyramid can be added to the list. This time it is fully intentional, though, the Order having no other choice.
- Fire-Forged Friends: They build significantly more mutual trust once their goals escalate from loot (and/or justice and/or murder) to defending the world against clear and present threats.
- A Friend in Need: Not all of them, but mutual assistance is common. Most noticeable — using the trope name — when Roy offers to let vampire Durkon drink his blood, and Elan and Haley jump to offer as well.
- Good Counterpart: To the Linear Guild.
- Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: All the guys are melee fighters (even Belkar, which makes no sense for a halfling ranger), except for Haley the archer, and the ambiguously-gendered elf wizard Vaarsuvius. Downplayed somewhat in that Belkar can use his daggers as throwing knives, but he probably just prefers the hands-on approach, and with Durkon mixing it up with divine magic. Briefly inverted when Haley takes Roy's sword (to change the target of an elemental that was ordered to kill "the human with the greatsword" first) and Roy takes up Haley's bow.
- Justified Title: The team name (and the webcomic title) were originally just a reference to the drawing style, but it got a justification in the On the Origin of PCs prequel. See Line-of-Sight Name below.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Why Vaarsuvius and Durkon are often given a Deus Exit Machina during plot-important fights.
- Line-of-Sight Name: In response to his teammates' lame attempts at coming up with a name for their group based on ridiculous things (like the fact that they were hired in a tavern, a trait that most adventuring groups share, or that it was a cloudy day), Roy sarcastically suggested they call themselves "the Order of the Stick" because there was a stick on the ground. To his dismay, the name struck a chord with everyone else.
- Luke Nounverber: Everyone whose last name we know follows this formula.
- Meaningful Name: The above Line-of-Sight Name is in-story justification from the Prequel. The true reason for the name is, naturally, that they are Stick Figures.
- Min-Maxing: Averted. None of the characters have made perfect builds, often making choices that fit their characters, rather than what makes them the most effective. Durkon's focus on healing, for instance, or Roy's high intelligence. Elan explicitly does this when he starts branching into healing magic (a result of his experience swith Therkla) — however, Elan's build is also the most optimized of the party given that his strongest stat (Charisma) is the primary stat used for both his base and prestige classes (this adds a bit of irony, considering that it's Elan).
- Player Character: Explicitly described as such in-universe, even though the distinction PCs/NPCs becomes a bit unclear when there are no actual players behind the protagonists.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: To quote On the Origin of PCs:Roy: The rogue is ambitious and greedy, the ranger is a complete psychopath, the wizard is trigger-happy and never stops talking, and the bard is as dumb as a box of moldy carrots!
Durkon: As I recall, ye called me "surly and unpleasant" shortly after ye met me. [...] Maybe all these folks need is a good strong leader like ye ta whip 'em inta shape.
- Releasing from the Promise: Originally they were held together by a contract until Xykon was destroyed. They continued after its condition was apparently fulfilled, though, and when Roy discovered that Xykon was still alive (well, not dead), he destroyed the contract, not wishing to hold them together by compulsion.
- The Smurfette Principle or Two Girls to a Team: With Haley, depending on Vaarsuvius's actual gender.
- The Team:
- The Leader: Roy Greenhilt calls the shots.
- Number Two: Haley Starshine is the official second-in-command and is a greedy thief to contrast the duty-bound warrior. She eventually becomes his adviser on devious lines of thought.
- The Big Guy: There are three of these in different ways:
- The Smart Guy: The Order has four:
- Vaarsuvius is your traditional wizard who weaponizes their intellgence and is a big fan of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.
- Roy, as the leader, is the strategic mastermind and has a mind as sharp as the Greenhilt sword.
- Haley is cunning enough to analyze cons, tricks or schemes, which is what makes her an effective Number Two.
- Even Elan can be this when it comes to the comic's narrative and examining narrative phenomena in play (such as knowing anything that is a "million in one chance" guaranteed to happen).
- The Heart:
- Elan is most definitely this, being the sweetest, kindest and most empathetic member of the team. Durkon himself mentions he is the heart and soul of the team when planning to save him.
- Durkon himself is the most stable, mature and reliable member through his dedication and solid personality. He can be counted on whenever madness is going on (barring the dwarves' irrational paranoia involving trees.)
- Sixth Ranger: Miko and Celia both occupy the spot for a while. So does Yukyuk... kinda.
- True Companions: Although they have a rocky start, they do evolve into this with time. Sealed when Roy rips up his teammates' initial contracts and gives them the choice to pursue the quest on their own choice. Even Belkar has stuck with them till now, despite a few opportunities to defect to the evil side.
- With Friends Like These...: The comic was at the start all about this. The group's various dysfunctions sometimes look even more insurmountable than many of their enemies.Roy: Wow. It's refreshing to not have to jump through hoops to convince the members of my own party to participate in a mission.
Vaarsuvius: Can anyone endeavor to explain why in the unspoken names of the infernal dimensions we are wasting our precious time at this insignifiant mudhole???
- You All Meet in an Inn: Yes, the Order's initial recruitment was held in a tavern, on Elan's insistence, because it is traditional.
"Is that another 'Fighters are dumb' crack?"
Race: HumanA very intelligent human warrior with an ancestral sword and a serious problem with his unsupportive father ("Powerful mage, Devoted husband, Passable father"), Roy is the leader of the Order of the Stick. Deals with copious amounts of stress daily, often due to somewhat... er... unreliable teammates. Sworn to kill Xykon as part of his father's Blood Oath.
Alignment: Beleaguered Good (according to the Adventure Game)
Alignment: Beleaguered Good (according to the Adventure Game)
- Amazon Chaser: Played with. Immediately after finding out that Miko was female he started hitting on her, but after realizing that she's a jerkass, he stopped his pursuit just as quickly. Afterwards he started a relationship with the much nicer Actual Pacifist Celia, but she is by no means weak and fights in courts of law.
- Ancestral Weapon: He inherited the Greenhilt sword, his Grandfather's greatsword, from which his family owes its name.
- Back from the Dead: It took quite a bit longer than you'd expect in this kind of world.
- Badass Normal: No inherent magic whatsoever, in a world where Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards is in full effect. Despite this he has been able to take on foes even when seriously outnumbered and outleveled, and is the leader of the Order of the Stick. It's also highly likely that he has the best stats in the group, see Jack-of-All-Stats
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Though significantly more snarky than the traditional example.
- Bald of Awesome: Started shaving his head in fighter college. A family trait, apparently.
- Bald Woman: While under the effect of the Girdle of Femininity/Masculinity.
- Battle Aura: Roy manifests an impressive one through the power of his Starmetal sword during his fight against vampire Durkon when he finally gets over his denial.
- Berserk Button:
- As seen during the first confrontation with Xykon:
- And also:Roy: Bad guys not remembering their evil deeds is something of a pet peeve of mine.
- But those are nothing compared to his fury when Vampire Durkon taunts him about his baby brother's death.
- BFS: He wields a greatsword that is almost as long as he is tall.
- Black and Nerdy: In college. He was unpopular, studied nearly 24/7 in a library, and was once hung from a flagpole by his underwear. It was fighter college.
- Black Dude Dies First: With regard to the main characters, though he got better and a good chunk of the Don't Split The Party arc was dedicated to making it happen. When it does, Haley gladly returns to her former position as Number Two. All together, the racial aspect of this trope is moot.
- Blue Is Heroic: He is the main character and blue is the predominant color on his armor.
- Bodyguard Betrayal: Performs this against Durkon when he is informed that there are no rules against this at the Godsmoot when he learns that Durkon has been deceiving him into consigning every dwarf everywhere to eternal torment.
- Calling Your Attacks: "Great Cleave!" Note that this is standard for the setting, though — calling your attacks is how you make them.
- Came Back Strong: Roy trains with his dead grandpa during his stay in heaven, and learns a new sword technique when he comes back. Played with, because since this is an RPG-rules mechanics universe and Roy was brought back with a Resurrection spell, logically, within the context of the universe, he'd have lost a level upon being brought back to life.
- Carry a Big Stick: Temporarily, while his sword was broken.
- Catchphrase: "NOT THE POINT!"
- Changed My Mind, Kid: Roy does this to Elan after the latter is captured by bandits. The inevitable rescue is then hilariously subverted.
- Character Development: Goes from using his teammates as a means to an end to A Father to His Men. He also listens to the team more and considers their input before making a decision, to the point where he even starts trusting Belkar to an extent.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: His degrees in Fighter College are certainly paying for themselves. Despite not technically knowing any magic, Belkar once pointed out that he is as strong as a giant and once survived being impaled on the horn of a triceratops and on his own sword in the space of less than a minute with few ill effects, shortly after being chewed on by a gigantic allosaurus. In the same strip, he casually grabs a rope two experienced sailors were visibly wrestling with and easily holds it without apparent effort.
- Chekhov's Skill: Roy learns to time his strikes so a caster's spellcasting fizzles. It comes in handy later, albeit the first time is just a fantasy.
- Combat Pragmatist: He's willing to resort to underhanded tactics if his opponent is powerful enough that he can't win a straight fight. During his arena duel with Thog, he uses discarded crossbow bolts and a potion bottle as improvised weapons, chucks a handful of sand into Thog's face to blind him, and finally wins by goading Thog into collapsing part of the ceiling on himself.
- Cool Sword: His grandfather's Ancestral Weapon, a greatsword. Now it has been reforged with Starmetal alloy which causes it to glow with green anti-undead energy. And further in the story, it becomes a Weapon of Legacy, and he discovers that should he lose it, he can summon it to teleport back to him.
- Counterspell: Fighter style. The technique he learned from his late grandfather is designed to interrupt spellcasting, thus giving him an edge versus spellcasters in a world where Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards is in effect. It is later revealed that it's a Secret Art called the Spellsplinter Maneuver, and there's no Fighter alive who knows it anymore.
- Deadpan Snarker: Roy's coping mechanism for the insanity he endures is a near-constant output of sarcasm. He eventually grows somewhat out of it, when it comes to his father, at least.
- Dead Person Conversation: With his father, thanks to the spiritual link granted by the Greenhilt sword. When the sword is broken, Roy's just Talking to the Dead. He doesn't realize it, he just thinks his dad can't be bothered to appear to him.
- Death is Cheap: Subverted; it takes a long time to resurrect Roy due to Durkon being separated from Roy's corpse. It was also quite expensive on a monetary level, since resurrection requires diamonds.
- Despair Event Horizon: Very nearly crosses it when Durkon gets vamped. Belkar of all people pulls him back. He's still in Heroic B.S.O.D. mode, though until Durkon regains his free will.
- Diagonal Cut:
- Empowered Badass Normal:
- His Belt of Giant Strength increases his already great strength to superhuman levels.
- His Starmetal sword also gives him a serious boost, especially during the fight against the High Priest of Hel, where it manifests as an impressive Battle Aura.
- Et Tu, Brute?: When the High Priest of Hel reveals his true colors, Roy, mistaking it for an Evil All Along Durkon, is left in utter shock.
- Eureka Moment:Roy: I understand. [snaps out of Domination] YOU'RE NOT DURKON AT ALL!!!
- Fatal Flaw: Not paying enough attention to what's going on around (because of a crappy Spot Check and lack of Sense Motive), and thinking he knows more about a situation than he actually does. As illustrated in "Grand Theft Identity". Even worse, crossing into Poor Communication Kills, with the vampire Durkon situation. He refuses to listen when Belkar tries to tell him, bluntly, "That isn't Durkon. It's something possessing Durkon," though vampire Durkon's quick use of his vampire powers whenever anyone too reliable tries to share the information is at least partially to blame.
- A Father to His Men: Albeit after some Character Development. Before that, he was the only one who refused to rescue Elan from the bandits.
- First, Second and Third Law of Gender Bending: Roy subverts all three. He isn't stuck as a woman because he's traveling with a cleric who can break the curse; he observes that having different hormones is distracting but doesn't act stereotypically feminine while wearing the belt; and he doesn't prefer it to his original gender, despite Durkon checking whether he really wants to change back.
- Five Stages of Grief: Roy experiences these following Durkon's vampirization. He goes through Denial, Anger and Bargaining all in the same page, spends the following one on Depression, and then gets to Acceptance after seeing Durkon again in Girard's epic illusion. Unfortunately, the High Priests's Durkon-act shifts him back into Denial for some time.
- Friend to Psychos: Roy is kind of like this to Belkar, even putting in a good word to get the psychopathic halfling out of prison. Although in his case, it's more from realizing that the Heroic Comedic Sociopath is better off in his charge, where he can keep him "pointed at the bad guys", rather than placing his bets on the idea that any prison can hold Belkar.
- Gender Bender: While wearing the Belt of Masculinity/Femininity.
- Genius Bruiser: One wonders how many points this excellent fighter allocated into Int, and how many people who must have given him crap for it at the time are singing a different tune now.
- Genre Blind: Usually quite savvy, but he is so guilt-ridden over Durkon's death and desperate to believe Durkon is OK, that he is easily completely manipulated by the High Priest of Hel.
- Good Counterpart:
- Played for laughs when he is pushed into this role for Thog. Roy finds it offensive. Which is a Call-Back to The Order of the Stick character page.Roy: [sullenly forced to read dialog] Grr. Roy smash puny kobolds.
- A more accurate mirror counterpart would be Tarquin, because they are both intelligent fighters and (allegedly) leaders of their team. Tarquin relishes the chance to face him.
- Played for laughs when he is pushed into this role for Thog. Roy finds it offensive. Which is a Call-Back to The Order of the Stick character page.
- Good Is Not Nice: Make no doubt that he's a heroic character, but he has little tact and initially has a low opinion of his teammates. Deconstructed a bit when he dies and meets his Celestial adviser. He becomes worried when his permanent record is brought up. Him abandoning Elan was the big thing brought up and Roy clearly feels remorse for it all. His adviser claims that had Elan died, Roy would've been chucked into the "True Neutral" afterlife as a result of it. Meanwhile, Roy was edging nearer Neutral Good than Lawful Good because of his various pragmatic actions, especially including Belkar on the team. However, the fact he tries to be both Lawful and Good is what keeps him there in the first place. She does advise Roy on the snark and Roy later learns to be more appreciative of his friends and listening to them.
- The Hero: Character Development has Roy come into this (or rather re-realize since it's why he became a Fighter in the first place). He ultimately wants to take Xykon down because he needs to be taken down, not to fulfill a blood oath or prove himself to his dad. He lampshades how his selfishness had blinded him to why he became a Fighter in the first place when the others had gone to rescue Elan.
- Hero Complex: Julia accuses him of having one, but in truth it's averted as Roy is too pragmatic for that.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: Roy is The Hero and the only one in the group to regularly use a greatsword. Although Haley does have an enormous dagger/shortsword/thing and Elan wields a rapier.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Has one (bordering on the Despair Event Horizon) when Durkon is killed, vamped, and enthralled by Malack. Surprisingly, it's Belkar of all people who snaps him out of it, but Roy is still clearly shaken.
- Heroic Willpower: He's the only one who has made a successful will save against vampire Durkon's mind control. He manages it even though it's a dominate effect and the command is phrased to make it seem reasonable to prevent giving a bonus on saves. That he is a Jack-of-All-Stats came to his aid again, along with the fact that the entire world is at stake means he had a pretty major circumstance bonus.
- Honor Before Reason: During his fight with Xykon over Azure City. Xykon notes that as strong as Roy's gotten, the lich himself is still a league or two above him, and Roy doesn't currently stand much of a chance in one-on-one combat, and as a corollary to this, offers to let Roy go and essentially grind XP for a while. Naturally, Roy objects. Subverted as Roy explains the perfectly reasonable motivations behind not letting the homicidal lich control the world and that as far as Roy knows he is still the one with the best chance of stopping Xykon from destroying Azure city.Roy: Are you joking? Or are you that stupid?
- I Am Not My Father: He became a fighter for the sole purpose of proving he was different from his wizard father.
- I Call Him "Mr. Happy": Roy calls it his "Trouser Titan" in "The Ultimate Sacrifice", while protesting Elan's idea to disguise him as a woman.
- Idiot Ball: Despite being established as very intelligent, he grabs the ball pretty hard after his ancestral greatsword is shattered. He refuses the magical sword Elan offers him as a replacement because he plans to have his old sword reforged. He ends up using a nonmagical club in the interim instead, when the sword would have made use of his prodigious swordfighting feats. This was probably a storytelling choice to make his later defeat by Miko more believable. Belkar of all people lampshade how irresponsible it is of him to not have any backup weapon.
- I Minored in Tropology: He took goat herding instead of horse-riding because, by his own admission, it was an easy A. He also has cross-class knowledge of engineering and architecture, which comes in handy several times. He also mentioned a "mandatory two semesters in Archery."
- Inspirational Insult: Roy nearly breaks down and gives up on the whole quest after hearing that Durkon has been turned into a vampire. Belkar proceeds to really lay into him verbally, which enrages Roy enough to steel his resolve. Belkar's comments afterward imply that, rather than insulting Roy for the hell of it, Belkar was deliberately invoking this trope.Belkar: Of course, it would mean that your best friend got horribly killed for absolutely no damn reason at all. Me, I'm a heartless little bastard. I can shrug that kind of thing off. But you seem like maybe that might bother you at some point down the road.
Roy: You— You of all people— You have no right to—! [beat] Fine. We keep going.
- Interspecies Romance: With Celia, a sylph.
- Irony: His dad gives him a lot of crap for being a fighter instead of a wizard. Come strip #1025, it is revealed his dedication to the family sword has turned it into a legacy weapon, which allows him to be a Magic Knight.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Mentally. V outshines him in Intelligence, Durkon outshines him in Wisdom, Haley outshines him in streetsmarts, and even Elan has him beat in Charisma. But his collective Int and Wis are repeatedly shown to be the best in the group and after some character development he learns to see through plenty of guile. He's outright stated to have the stats required to pursue a career as either a Wizard or Cleric. Really, it's not clear whether Roy even has a Dump Stat. He's demonstrably above-average or better in everything according to the rules lawyers in the forum's Class and Level Geekery thread. This is perfectly possible in D&D if you simply roll reasonably high for all your starting stats.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He has moments where he's more of a Jerkass, but the heart of gold is there.
- Joke Item: The Bag of Tricks. It's a bag that fires small animals.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: If Rich's description of the fight with Miko is anything to go by, Roy is willing to throw the towel when he deems the risk higher than the reward, as he surrenders to the paladin instead of trying to strike her down. Averted during his suicidal attack on Xykon, when he refuses to back down, even when it becomes clear that he cannot win
- The Leader: Starts out as just the guy paying the team to go on the quest, but he evolves over time. When he's not around, the team falls apart, although, that was also partly due to the party being split by physical proximity beforehand.
- Leeroy Jenkins: He does this occasionally. His charges usually turn out fairly well. His ill-fated attack on Xykon isn't an example — he knows he's outmatched and is as prepared as he reasonably can be.
- Lethal Joke Item: Roy eventually figures out how to use the Bag of Tricks in combat by using the animals as a distraction, and he eventually finds out that there is a rhino in there. Unfortunately, the rhino kinda backfires on him.Roy: You know, this bag of tricks isn't so bad once you get the hang of it.
- Made of Iron: Roy has a lot of hit points. Not as much as O-Chul or Thog, but enough to give this impression.
- Man, I Feel Like a Woman: Averted when Roy dons the Belt of Gender Shifting.
- Meaningful Name: His family got its name from the ancestral sword, which does have a green hilt.
- Mistaken for Special Guest: Roy is mistaken for the King of Nowhere when staying at an inn.
- Morality Chain: To Belkar, in a fashion. If Roy weren't capable of knocking him out in one shot, Belkar would be far more difficult to control.
- Neck Lift: Favors this intimidation method for interrogating Mooks.
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: When he realizes Durkon is an enemy, he foregoes his usual wordiness and goes straight for the throat. With a great sword.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Tying into his Fatal Flaw, Roy brushes off the deva in "Down to Earth" who's trying to tell him about Vaarsuvius's Deal with the Devil.
- Only Sane Employee: Most of his job is to manage the insanity of his party.
- Only Sane Man: The rest of his job is to act as the foil to everyone else's antics. Played for drama at the Godsmoot, where he's the only who realizes that the assembled clerics could just destroy the (former) High Priest of Hel instead of randomly smiting the nearest vampires.
- Phrase Catcher: Subtle, but he has gotten "Stop talking!" from more than one pissed-off opponent, due to his incessant combat banter.
- Reforged Blade: The Greenhilt Greatsword has been reforged with Starmetal alloy which causes it to glow with green anti-undead energy. Apparently, it also works against the Damage Reduction of Evil Outsiders.
- Refusing Paradise: Roy enjoys a peaceful afterlife with his family in Celestia. However, upon realizing that his allies have failed to resurrect him on schedule, he rushes off to search for answers.
- Resurrection Sickness: Roy lost a level from being resurrected. He also faceplants right afterward on his first attempt to walk.Roy: Oh, right. I have to actually move my legs when I'm on this plane.
Celia: Don't worry, honey, I make that mistake ALL the time.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
- When Xykon breaks his ancestral sword, Roy loses it and attacks the lich barehanded, throwing him unceremoniously into the Gate protected by the best spells of Archmage Dorukan.
- Delivers an even more brutal one when he realizes the High Priest of Hel is not Durkon and he has been manipulated during the whole fight.
- Rules Lawyer: Being Lawful Good, his first reflex is to try to work within any system he finds himself in. He's gotten fairly good at abusing technicalities for the greater good.
- Rummage Fail: His Bag of Tricks, much to his irritation, never seems to produce anything helpful when he needs it - when he used it in combat or while falling, it created small, useless animals... except for the time where it created a more useful rhino, which then landed on him.
- Running Gag:
- He makes a reference to the Trouser Titan, and someone else says, "You call it the...?"
- "NOT THE POINT!"
- Secret Art: What the technique his grandfather taught him in the afterlife turns out to be. Apparently the Spellsplinter Maneuver, as it is called, is a technique that no living fighters know anymore.
- Scarf Of Asskicking: Puts one on when they move to the Northern lands.
- Secular Hero:
- As demonstrated by this dialogue:Bureaucratic Deva: Let me ask you something: Why did you never consider becoming a cleric yourself? You have halfway decent Wisdom and Charisma scores, you could have pulled it off.
Roy: Well, this is awkward to say, given where I am, but I've never been that religious.
I mean, I guess my mom raised me to worship the Northern Gods, but I always figured as long as I don't actively offend any of them, they'd leave me alone.
- As he finds out at the Godsmoot, however, such a dismissive attitude toward religion in general might not be a good idea in a world whose fate literally hangs on the whims of the gods.
- As demonstrated by this dialogue:
- Selective Obliviousness: Despite being generally perceptive and good with people, it takes him way more time than it should to realize that vampire Durkon is evil when he shows up saying he now serves Hel, because he does not want to believe his friend is truly dead. Especially not since he blamed himself in an earlier chapter. In the end, though, faced with irrefutable evidence, he does realize the truth and act to correct it, even when the High Priest of Hel tries using a dominate effect to play on it.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Discussed during the Godsmoot. He has no problem dying in order to stop evil, but only if this is a real victory and not just a setback. Even earlier he said that while not afraid of being permanently destroyed by the Snarl, he won't risk it as long as Xykon is still around.Roy: Recent lesson, connected to that "dying" thing. Noble sacrifices only make sense when they solve the problem at hand.
- Sticks to the Back: His sword, though he's now got some leather straps on his back he sticks it through.
- Straight Man: Mocked by Belkar in "The Power Behind the Throne".
- Summon to Hand: His sword develops this ability after becoming a Weapon of Legacy.
- Super Mode: In strips 1009-1010, when Roy becomes sufficiently pissed at the vampire possessing Durkon's body, his sword emanates a green fire which glows around him, healing his wounds and giving him even more power.
- Super Strength: With the Belt of Giant Strength.
- In #730, he grabs Enor by the tail and swings him overhead to slam against a table, breaking it. Enor is a big half-ogre half-dragon who must weigh at least ten times as much as Roy.
- In #951, Roy takes over holding a rope that two of the Mechane's crewmembers had just been straining to keep under control. He grips it nonchalantly with one hand, and it doesn't move an inch. Then Belkar mocks him for it:Belkar: I think this whole "fighter" thing has really gotten in the way of you discovering your true destiny as a wharf.
Roy: I'm going to dance on your grave, you know.
Belkar: [imitating Roy] "Xykon, you let my father's skiff drift out with the tide! I will avenge it!"
- A later strip shows he can fight Frost Giants evenly while wearing it, and throw one for a loop by punching her.
- Thunderbolt Iron: His reforged sword is an alloy.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Virtually always chooses Good over Lawful when pressed, but doesn't fall into Neutral Good by virtue of trying to be both whenever possible.
- Too Dumb to Live: Despite being intelligent enough to form cunning plans within limited time and outsmart opponents with greater skill and power, Roy is prone to tremendously underestimating his opponents, especially Xykon, culminating in the battle of the Azure City, where he attempts to fight Xykon, an immortal lich with tremendous magical power, one-on-one, while he is riding an undead dragon, without having any enchantments or spells to save him from the fall, then ignores the opportunity to leave the battle alive and level up Xykon gives him out of boredom. Xykon promptly flies away and destroys his mount, causing Roy to fall to his death, actually killing him (temporarily).
- Tsundere: Yes, really. He takes three arrows for Elan and immediately downplays it and makes excuses ("It's pure numbers, nothing more!") followed by Elan and Belkar teasing him for "liking" Elan. This would not look out of place in a given anime.
- The Unchosen One: Roy eventually takes up the quest to destroy Xykon not because of his father's Blood Oath, but simply because Xykon needs to be stopped.
- Unknown Rival: Xykon can literally not remember who he is (and surprisingly enough, this isn't being faked to tick Roy off. It's genuine). Redcloak does a better job, but it's not until strip #901 that he concludes the Order is directly working against them (and neither of them can remember Roy's original motive). The Monster in the Darkness uses this to save Roy and crew by noting that Roy is just some fighter Xykon offed casually, while O-Chul is a Determinator samurai who wants revenge.
- Unstoppable Rage: Even worse than Thog, who he even overpowered when the half-orc was in berserk modes, since his fighting skills are greater than Thog's and are not lessened by his rage. His beatdowns on Xykon and the High Priest of Hel are the best examples.
- Unwitting Pawn: The High Priest of Hel played him like a fiddle and led him to believe he was still good ol' Durkon with an alignment shift to trick him in taking him to the Godsmoot, where he could bring about the destruction of the world to the benefit of his mistress.
- Vetinari Job Security: Roy may have trouble keeping the group on a single goal, but it's been conclusively established that he's the only person capable of exerting any level of control over any of them. The Don't Split the Party arc is one long proof of this, but in particular his management of Belkar; without Roy's influence Belkar's projected "evilness" (measured in kilonazis by the archons in charge of the Lawful Good afterlife) would have skyrocketed. When Roy was temporarily killed by Xykon and Haley took over, she had little to no real control over Belkar. "Temporary Weakness" directly acknowledges this.
- Weapon of Choice: The Greenhilt family greatsword. He uses a large wooden club for a while when his sword is broken.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Starts out as a straightforward example, but over the series has discarded this motivation in favor of Small Steps Hero. His father's spirit, on the occasions it gets a chance to haunt him, now usually only merits a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- After increasingly ignoring his party in favor of trying to get on Miko's good side despite her jerkassery, Elan finally confronts him in a way that Roy can't simply snark off: He asks him calmly and politely why he's doing that followed by asking if he likes some random rude paladin more than his party.
- After dying, a deva calls him out for abandoning Elan earlier in the strip and says that if he hadn't realized his error he would have been tossed into the True Neutral afterlife. He's also called out for being Belkar's leader despite his clearly evil tendencies, but on this point defends himself competently.
- Subverted when the party is traveling through the desert. A spice-addled Belkar tries calling him out for using him as bait, but then laughs and admits that he's just joking.
- What Would X Do?: Roy is a model of levelheaded, intelligent badassery. Elan, Haley and Durkon all say something like "What would Roy do?" while trying to decide the right course of action.
- Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: Roy does this at least twice.
- During his tavern recruitment of the party in On the Origin of PCs, after meeting with a refusal from some thirty adventurers, Roy begins to thank Haley for listening and saying that he understands, before realizing she just accepted to join.
- In "Shattered Expectations", when the "Being of Pure Law and Good" renders the judgement of the Order's trial for weakening the fabric of the universe, Roy is so much expecting a guilty verdict that he starts saying "it has been an honor" to the rest of the party, until the words "not guilty" actually register.
- Worthy Opponent: Tarquin eventually decides that Roy is too worthy and holding Elan back from being the hero of what Tarquin considers the real story (about Tarquin and Elan), and so needs to die.
- Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Even those enjoying the Gladiator Games.
- Wrecked Weapon: In the first book, Xykon breaks Roy's ancestral sword to bits with a Shatter spell, spurring a whole sidequest to have the weapon reforged.
- You Fight Like a Cow: Taunting his opponents is one of his defining character traits.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Trope Namer. Roy says it when receiving compliments from Belkar.
- Zombie Advocate: When he encounters a vampirized Durkon, whom he sees as a Reluctant Monster, he quickly comes to bemoan the prejudice faced by well-behaved undead. When he realizes the spirit animating Durkon's body is playing him for a fool, he does an abrupt about-face. With a greatsword.
"Gods, it's frustrating how Lawful you people are!"
Race: HumanA cute rogue with a motivation for her theft (if she can't come up with enough money, her father faces imprisonment for life). Incredibly neurotic with a very fragmented personality. In a relationship with Elan. By her own admission, "Chaotic Good-ish". She's the second-in-command of the Order of the Stick.
Alignment: Chaotic Greedy (according to the Adventure Game), Chaotic Good-ish (according to herself)
Alignment: Chaotic Greedy (according to the Adventure Game), Chaotic Good-ish (according to herself)
- Action Girl: A rogue, to be more specific. She at one point gathers the adventuring party to save Elan once he gets kidnapped... and likely would have succeeded were it not for Belkar.
- Ambidextrous Sprite: The position of her loose hair depends on which direction she is facing.
- Back Stab: Her obvious choice for dealing damage.
- Badass Normal: No magic but her bags of holding and a couple magic weapons, yet she can still bring down outsiders and monsters.
- Bag of Holding: Haley thinks one can never have enough extradimensional storage space, and carries a collection of them.
- Bare Your Midriff: Though the art style makes it hard to tell at times, her top looks a lot like a leather sports bra. She averts it starting with her resistance leader outfit, and later with her "leather armor" in the Western Continent arc. She later lampshades that it was a poor idea:Haley: Like dungeon delving with a bare midriff, all I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time.
- Bi the Way: Mentioned in one of her Cypher Language confessions; she also has a "Latent Bisexuality" alter ego amongst the many fractions of her psyche. Later confirmed by Word of the Giant and in the comic itself.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Haley's reaction when her father judges Elan to be every bit as evil as his father, General Tarquin, accusing him of spying on her and tricking her into loving him.
- Calling Your Attacks: "Sneak Attack!"
- Cannot Spit It Out: For a long time.
- Chainmail Bikini: Haley buys some "leather armor" which is basically just a normal top. So she invokes this trope.Haley: Four people on the street have accidentally addressed me as "young man" since we got here. I think some flaunting is in order.
- Character Development:
- She has become less greedy over time, and got a justification for her greed. Compare near the beginning of the comic when she objected to teaming up with the Linear Guild because it would mean that the loot would be split among more people to having legitimate concerns about the team's budget.
- She has also become more moral, best demonstrated by her attitude towards slavery changing from ...And That Would Be Wrong to freeing her host's slaves just because she can. This likely ties into her self-description as Chaotic Good-ish as opposed to strictly Chaotic Good. She started out leaning toward Chaotic Neutral, but through Character Development is now more solidly Chaotic Good.
- She has also grown into the role of second-in-command; instead of just using the position to get a bigger share of the loot as she did in the beginning, she now uses her roguish experience to advise Roy on things a Lawful Good fighter might not consider.
- Character Tics: Sticking out her tongue when she's lining up a difficult shot with her bow.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: She's the one to take this role most often with Elan, both before and after they're in a relationship. She knows him well enough to include an "Elan tax" in the shopping budget.
- Combat Pragmatist: Haley has no problem fighting very dirty.
- For example, she ambushes Crystal as she's in the shower, catching her without her weapons, armor, and protective jewelry, and kills her while she's stunned on the floor.
- And again once Crystal as a golem finishes turning against Bozzok. She lures her on top of a drawbridge above the waste disposal facility and lets her fall into the lava below.
- Cool Big Sis: She tried to invoke the "big-sister-bonding thing" with Bandana concerning sudden promotions to leadership. It turns out Bandana doesn't need it, but she still appreciates the effort.
- Covert Pervert: Not above taking advantage of a discount Invisibility Sphere to grope Elan. Or seeing what Elan's charisma is worth "under the hood". Also the first party member to notice the phallic symbolism of a Gigantic Purple Worm. After she and Elan hook up, the "covert" part goes out the window.
- Cypher Language: She is afflicted with this for a while and several jokes are made at characters attempting to translate it.
- Darkness von Gothickname: When she was a teenager, she went through a Goth phase and called herself "Dark Mistress Shadowgale".
- Dump Stat: Consitution and Wisdom. As a rogue, she needs good Dexterity for combat and sneak-attacks, Intelligence for her various skills, and uses her Charisma fairly often to bluff with, but she gets drunk very easily and at the start of the comic hasn't really made a lot of good life decisions and gives in to her character flaws, particularly her greed. Lots of Character Development has indicated that she might have been investing in a slightly higher Wisdom score, though Durkon still worries about her Will save when fighting a vampire. Lampshaded early on, when a mindflayer sees her brain as a caramel sundae: sweet, but with a lot of empty calories.
- Fanservice: She parodies this in the prequel. And later plays it as straight as one can with the comic's art style.
- Female Misogynist: For some reason, Haley rarely gets along for very long with other women, either good (Miko, Celia) or evil (Crystal, Sabine, Samantha, Tsukiko — she jokes once she's always fighting "flying skanks"). There are exceptions, however, as she's best friends with Vaarsuvius (whose gender is unclear, though) and seems to have no problem with Niu (in Azure City) or Jenny (in the backstory), and later Bandana. So it's more of a case of only meeting women whose personalities clash with hers. She recognizes this trait of hers and tries to move beyond it by book 6:Haley: Well, historically speaking, it was either that, or we try to murder each other while hurling offensively gender-charged insults.
- Fiery Redhead: Haley sure can be fiery, but it's downplayed: she suffers from considerable self-loathing and feels it necessary to hide her true feelings much of the time, believing people wouldn't like her if they really knew her.
- Genre Savvy: Almost everyone in the comic is, but Haley is particularly so. She has a history of figuring out everything from the plans of bad guys, (seeing through Xykon's would be shell game) to noticing signs of deeper plots, (she was immediately suspicious when the Azure City unconditionally found the Order not guilty of blowing up Dorukan's Dungeon) or who is going to be evil. (She notably called Sabine and Tarquin as being bad news.)
- Give Me Back My Wallet: Except that she turns the tables by picking the pickpockets' pockets.Haley: Seriously, Durkon, if you're going to get your pocket picked in every town we visit, at least try to attract higher-leveled thieves. Twelve silver pieces and some string is a waste of my talents.
- Godiva Hair: Haley takes advantage of the Power Perversion Potential of magical cosmetics in "Picking Locks".
- Good Counterpart: To Sabine (fiendish Number Two) and Crystal (an assassin with a knife and less intelligence).
- Goth: As a teenager, she was the gloomy, rebellious kind.
- Greed: Haley's initial personality, though she does receive character development and a real need to collect a lot of money. Although she still really likes money, thinks about money to get into a sexy mood, and has an obsessive desire to polish it.
- Guile Hero: While Haley's definitely more than able to hold her own in a fight, she's also adept at using her wits, her various rogue skills, and her charisma to out-think and talk her way out of problems. In particular, she ends up defeating the flesh golem Crystal by first telling her who was really responsible for her being turned into a flesh golem, which prompts Crystal to utterly slaughter Bozzok, and then proceeds to lead Crystal along and keep her distracted with a heart-to-heart discussion about their mutual rivalry until she's right over a lava pit and then drops her into it.
- Had To Be Sharp: She grew up in a Wretched Hive of a city, with her father being a high ranking member of a Thieves' Guild where there was always a chance of being betrayed, cheated, and/or killed by the people she was living around on a daily basis.
- Hate at First Sight: The flashback of her first encounter with Crystal strongly hints at this. And that it was reciprocated.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: She was hit with this early in the series after several craploads of her loot were utterly destroyed in an explosion. Afterwards, she gets an episode of Cypher Language (see above), and finally learns to get over her abandonment issues and openly admit her feelings for Elan, the shouting of which cured her.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: She doesn't carry a quiver. When Roy is handed her bow and he asks Elan where she keeps her arrows, he says "I dunno. They just sort of appear in her hand when she needs one." Haley proceeds to complain to Roy about not following Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
- Important Haircut: In "You're It", but latter defied by "Picking Locks" where she uses magical cosmetics to grow her hair back. Like many other things, the trope is discussed: Elan thought the haircut was supposed to symbolize character development but Haley says it was just a stupid haircut.
- Impossible Thief: In "It's a Shame She Didn't Grab That Script While She Was There", Haley steals a diamond from the cast page, resulting in said diamond replaced with an IOMe (it's not an IOU because Haley stole it from herself).
- In-Series Nickname: Her "Wanted!" Poster mentions she's also known as "Mistress Nightengale" [sic] or "The Red Blur".
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Does this to her rival Crystal. A bonus scene in Don't Split the Party gives her a better justification for this.
- The Lancer: Haley Starshine is the official Number Two and is a greedy thief to contrast the duty-bound warrior. She eventually becomes his advisor on devious lines of thought.
- Loveable Rogue: Yes, she's a rogue, and would you dare say she isn't loveable?
- Ma'am Shock: "I'm not old! I'm 24! That's not old! Twenty! Four!"
- Magic Wand: Pilfers three of them from Z's body. As a rogue with Use Magic Device, she can probably use them. Confirmed in that she buys several more later. She's not the best with them, though.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Haley and Elan once have sex on the back of a giant purple worm. She implies that its phallic shape turned her on.
- Miser Advisor: Justified by the ransom she needs to gather to free her father. Although she's still plain old greedy too, as fitting for a rogue.
- Missing Mom: Mia Starshine died when Haley was very young.
- Money Fetish: A very literal example. Elan mentions that she wanted to do it on top of a pile of gold coins, and she's admitted it's true on multiple occasions.
- Ms. Fanservice: Her brief nude scenes reveal quite the rack. And considering that she's also an extremely flexible redhead, she's as close to this trope as the comic's artstyle will allow.
- Mr. Vice Guy: Haley is the most common version, since she's always looking for ways to get more loot from adventuring, but won't sabotage saving the world to satisfy her greed.
- Multishot: She has the appropriate feat. She doesn't use it very often, but it comes in handy against Sabine, and later Tarquin.
- Never Say That Again: Never tell her that treasure isn't that important.
- Number Two: She manipulated Roy into giving her the position for a greater share of the treasure. It backfires when in Roy's absence she finds herself actually in formal charge of the Order. While she struggles when in charge and is relieved to relinquish the role on Roy's return, she's gradually growing into the position of second-in-command and advisor.
- Only Sane Man: Took over this role in Roy's absence and did not like it one bit.
- Other Me Annoys Me: Haley's mental projections annoy her quite a lot, especially Dark Mistress Shadowgale.
- Platonic Life-Partners or Heterosexual Life-Partners: She and Vaarsuvius have always been extremely close, with Haley only ever agreeing to share a room with V until she and Elan became a couple.
- Power of Trust: She has this relationship with Elan, in spite of her father's strenuous objections.
- Properly Paranoid: Thanks to her father's upbringing, she has a problem trusting some people. And sometimes she's right not to:
- Her first reaction to the Linear Guild is "Evil!" , and sure enough, Elan's long-lost brother is the Evil Twin, and the whole party are assassins working for Xykon.
- She also doesn't trust Elan's father, or the cleric he works with, and, yup, they are bad, too.
- Rainbow Pimp Gear: Consciously averted. "...so the Boots of Speed were totally powerful, but they were, like, lime green." A later arc reveals that she held on to them and got a craftsman to dye them a more suitable color.
- Rapunzel Hair: Haley gets this in "Picking Locks" after overcompensating for her short haircut before.
- Rebel Leader: After the timeskip, before handing that role off to Thanh.
- Refuge in Audacity: She steals two of Belkar's potions to heal Elan. When Belkar accuses her, she guilt-trips him about being prejudiced.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: "Screw that, I'm just flat-out ignoring Roy right now."
- Shoot the Dog: After turning Crystal against Bozzok and generally making peace with her, she nevertheless finishes Crystal off one last time because the latter is a danger to everyone.
- Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: Grows out of this trope thanks to Elan's influence and becomes more optimistic and trusting.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Her love for Elan, as she explains to her father: She loves him because he is so pure and good that he makes her a better person just by being around her.
- Slipknot Ponytail: Happens to her during a trap search (along with Wardrobe Malfunction).
- Slipped the Ropes: She clearly has ranks in both escape artist and use rope, meaning tying her up is doomed to failure.Gannji: Wait, weren't you tied up a moment ago?
Haley: That was a moment ago.
- The Snark Knight: Mistress Shadowgale, a.k.a. Haley's Self-Loathing Alter Ego.Mistress Shadowgale: Gods, I hate you all.
- The Sneaky Guy: As is fitting for a rogue.
- Spoonerism: While drunk:Haley: I'm gonna sit on this spin until the room stops chairing.
- Sticks to the Back: Her bow.
- Street Smart: Required to survive Greysky City for any length of time, so her dad made sure she was.
- Taken for Granite: She blows the saving throw against a Flesh to Stone spell from Zzd'tri. Durkon later turns her back to normal.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: "SNEAK ATTACK — BITCH!"
- Time to Step Up, Commander: After Roy's death.
- Trick Arrow:
- After getting an Icy Burst Bow.
- Also used to counter Tarquin's Snatch Arrows feat.
- Un-Confession: In "Hawaiian Love", Haley, seriously wounded and apparently not expecting to live, starts to tell Elan that she loves him. She's interrupted by Durkon healing her wounds.
- "Wanted!" Poster: Shown in On the Origins of PCs (as a resume).
- Weaksauce Weakness: Averted, but Crystal is under the mistaken impression that Haley is lethally vulnerable to pickles. Just to be clear: Crystal is dumber than a post.
"♪ Bluff, Bluff, Bluff, Bluff the stupid ogre! ♪"
Race: HumanA fairly dim but highly charismatic bard with an idiosyncratic thought process and only a slight effect in battle, although the latter has been mitigated after he took his first level in Dashing Swordsman. Can be extremely slow on the uptake.
Class: Bard/Dashing Swordsman
Alignment: Foolish Good (according to the Adventure Game)
Class: Bard/Dashing Swordsman
Alignment: Foolish Good (according to the Adventure Game)
- Achievements in Ignorance: In "Sort of Like a Reverse Psion", Daigo comments that Elan is more useful the less he understands what's going on. Durkon agrees, and adds that Elan has "ignorance" as a class power source.
- All-Cheering All the Time: Elan is a Bard, but definitely falls into the "cheering at inappropriate moments" category. Like "Concentrate, Concentrate, Concentrate!" or "Move, Move, Move Silently across the battlefield!"
- And This Is For...: A subtle one to Tarquin, telling him that he's not a twin anymore before letting him drop from the airship.
- Bad Liar: Haley explains.Haley: No offense, but you literally can't bluff to save your life. In fact, I think your bluffs usually endanger your life in new and exciting ways.
- The Bard: His character class. He talks about story conventions and has a bard spell called "summon plot exposition".
- Beyond the Impossible: In strip #794, Elan seduces a succubus. As in, you know, a demon who is, by her own admission, an evil incarnation of illict sex. Then he apologizes to Tiny Stone Haley.
- Big Damn Heroes: One of his Dashing Swordsman class features lets him sense where to go to dramatically save the day, and ensures that he always arrives there just in the nick of time.
- Brainless Beauty: He's considered very attractive in-universe, even if the "beauty" part is difficult to tell thanks to the art style. Fairly unusual as a male example, especially among sympathetic protagonists.
- Bumbling Sidekick:
- To Roy until the party got split, due to the counterproductive songs and ditziness.
- He was this even moreso to Sir François in On the Origin of PCs because he was younger and (more) foolish.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Dishes one out when Tarquin orders Roy, Durkon, and Belkar killed to "bring order" to his and Elan's narrative.Elan: You're wrong. You're wrong about everything. You only think you know what's supposed to happen. But we get to decide what sort of story this is and what role we play— hero or comic relief. Or both at the same time.
- Cannot Keep a Secret: It's a good thing the rest of the Order usually keeps an eye on him, because Elan is very bad at keeping secrets.Haley: A secret kind of quest.
Elan: Yeah, we need to find this guy, Girard Draketooth, and tell him that—
Haley: Elan!! What part of "secret" do you not understand?
Elan: The part where I don't tell other people, obviously.
- Cargo Cult:
- Elan is currently the sole worshiper of his handpuppet, Banjo, Clown God of Puppetry. Due to the way divinity works in the Stickverse, Banjo actually is a (very weak) god, thanks to the fact that Elan worships him.
- Back when he, Durkan and a pair of paladins were stranded on an island of orcs, they've taken to worshipping Banjo, but in doing so, stole him from Elan. After getting him and the paladin back, Elan cheers up the tribe by introducing them to another handpuppet: Giggles, the Clown God of Slapstick, who is also Banjo's brother and rival. Due to their rivalry, the orc's worship of Giggles also empowers Banjo (and by extension Elan).
- He also indicated the possible existence of Banjuhlu (Banjo with an illusion on him giving him face tentacles).
- Chaotic Stupid: Averted; Elan is Chaotic Good and Stupid separately (and has been working on the "Stupid" part... more or less). Still the Trope Illustrator, though.
- Character Development: Elan is not so much a dimwit now as at the start, but is still a Ditz nevertheless.
- Really underscored in issue #889; in the early days of the comic, if Elan was the one to break the party out of an illusion, he'd most likely do it by being Too Dumb to Fool. Here, he has developed enough to realise that his dreams are childish, unrealistic and completely unlikely, including outright calling his father and brother on the fact that they are evil, hateful people who will never be able to be a proper family to him. Thus he convinces the others by pointing out the plot holes in their own dreams, like how they apparently beat Xykon but never went on to break up Tarquin's empire.
- Another very pointed example is the contrast between early comic #69 and way later, #936. In both situations, Elan has an opportunity to Save the Villain, but makes different choices. In the latter, Elan even explains the similarities and differences to the villain in question, highlighting what he's learned.
- Chick Magnet: It's been stated outright that he has 18 Charisma (the normal maximum at character creation). Indeed, Elan initially considered this part of his job description and did not understand why Haley didn't care for it.
- Childhood Brain Damage: A flashback explains Elan being The Ditz as a result of his brother Nale continually Dope Slap-ing him when they were babies.
- Cloudcuckoolander: He has had many strange ideas (such as "naked = invisible"), and his Genre Savvy comes across as inane babbling.
- Comedy as a Weapon: Elan's moves as a Dashing Swordman gain more power if he makes a pun while attacking.
- Companion Cube: Elan worships Banjo the Clown, his own hand-puppet.
- Consulting Mister Puppet: Averted. While Elan worships his puppet, Banjo, he never believes Banjo can speak (barring the intervention of orcish ninjas).
- Contractual Genre Blindness:
- In spite of being as Genre Savvy as he is (in that, since Nale's corpse was never found, Elan knew that he must have still been alive), he acted surprised to find that Nale was, indeed, alive, but only because protagonists in a position like his are always surprised at such a revelation.Nale: But... if you know that then how can you be surprised... Why didn't you realize that thinking I was dead was... I mean... Gah! I'm giving myself a migraine trying to understand the level of wilful ignorance that requires!
Elan: First blood: ELAN!
- If Elan were like other bards, he would have avoided telling Haley the story of Therkla in order to invoke Rule of Drama by causing misunderstandings.
- In spite of being as Genre Savvy as he is (in that, since Nale's corpse was never found, Elan knew that he must have still been alive), he acted surprised to find that Nale was, indeed, alive, but only because protagonists in a position like his are always surprised at such a revelation.
- Designated Victim: As noted below, he usually is the one to end up in a hostage situation, most often due to his brother Nale. Ironically enough, it's usually Haley that tries to save him.
- Despair Event Horizon: Briefly brought to the brink when he's half-goaded, half-Brainwashed (specifically, under the effects of Suggestion) by Nale into thinking Haley is The Mole, and almost kills her over it.
- Disorganized Outline Speech: We can't really not mention the epic one he gives just before the battle of Azure City.Elan: Friends, Azurites, countrymen, lend me your ears. Not literally, because ewww. I mean, that would be disgusting. And messy. And since you'd just be lending them, we'd have to figure out how to reattach them all, and that'd be a lot of work.
Today, we stand here on the wall, preparing to defend this city from the forces of evil. And probably chaos, too.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. And sisters. Definitely also sisters, they are part of the band too. I think they play drums.
A day may come when the courage of men (and women) fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.
And if the battle lasts through tomorrow, it's not that day either.
It may or may not be the day after that, I'm not sure. Still too early to tell.
But in case it's not that day, or it is that day but the battle is already over so it doesn't matter, I want you to remember this:
No one ever won a war by dying for their country. They won by making the other guy die for his country. Which still applies even though hobgoblins don't live in countries.
They live in caves, I think. So make them die for their caves. Which, admittedly, sounds a lot less heroic than dying for your country.
But today will be the day when Azure City declared in one voice, "We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight!"
And the fact that it rhymes does not make it any less true!
We'll stand here together and tell our enemies that they may take our lives...
But they will never take our freedom!
Unless... unless they kill us, then animate the dead corpses as zombies to fight for them. Then I suppose they've taken our lives AND our freedom.
♪ Fight, fight, fight, fight the— ♪
Random Azurite Soldier: You suck!
- Distressed Dude: Happens often enough that he lampshades it:Elan: I wonder if I qualify for some sort of hostage-based prestige class by now...
- The Ditz: Initially, he was spacey, dimwitted and thought that singing could improve a Move Silently check. This changed when Character Development toned it down. Mocked early on when a mindflayer describes his brain as a diet soda: something sweet but completely devoid of any real nourishment.
- Dumbass Has a Point: Happens a few times.Haley: Am I drunk enough yet that later, I won't remember getting out-logicked by Elan?
- Dumbass No More: Post-timeskip he's gone from The Ditz to something between a Cloudcuckoolander and a Genius Ditz.
- Dumb Is Good: His lack of knowledge and common sense is a running gag, and he happens to be the nicest member of the group. Also played for laughs when he knows something the others don't.
- Dump Stat: Intelligence and Wisdom (he is improving and he has shown moments of Genre Savvy mixed with Simple-Minded Wisdom).
- Evil Twin: Nale
- Eyepatch After Time Skip: Invoked and parodied. He wore an eyepatch because it was customary to do so after a timeskip and it made him look firece. Hinjo told him to take it off.
- The Face: He's highly charismatic and once talked a female enemy into a Heel–Face Turn. Roy invokes this trope when the group needs to talk to someone, like the teenage goblin in the first arc.
- Face Death with Dignity: When he believes that his father is going to kill him his only request was that he "stab him in one of the less hurty organs".
- Face Doodling: He does it to Roy while the latter is paralyzed by poison.
- The Fool: Elan plays with this trope in many directions depending on the strip; foolish, insightful, lucky, etc.
- For Happiness: Elan and his mother both always try their best to live up to this trope. When he gets a chance to ask the all-knowing Oracle of Sunken Valley a question, his is merely: "Will there be a happy ending?"
- Gag Penis: Apparently, having maxed-out Charisma is worth quite a bit "under the hood."
- Genius Ditz: Primarily due to being Genre Savvy.
- Genre Savvy: Although he's been mistaken sometimes, he has a general idea of what's going on. Also occasionally suffers from Contractual Genre Blindness, as exaggerated and, in the process, Defied (when it gives Nale a headache) in "Critical Thinking".
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: In addition to Chaotic Angel and Lawful Angel.
- Good Counterpart: To his own brother and father.
- Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die: His rousing speech prior to the Battle of Azure City.
- Hair Antennae: Shared by his brother and father.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Blond-haired, and far and away the most sweet and innocent member of the Order of the Stick.
- Hammy Herald: For Sir François in On the Origin of PCs. Including when it's wholly inapropriate, like while entering a Bad-Guy Bar.Elan: Behold, wretched hive of scum and villainy! The noble Sir François is here!
Your days of seedy backroom dealings and poor personnal hygiene are at an end, for he is here to wash this corrupt city clean!
He is much like a giant scrub in that respect. He also has bristles — again, like a scrub brush.
However, he is not easily held in one's hand and used to scrub cutlery, so that's one way he is different. I'm sure I can think of other ways.
Sir François: Um, Elan?
Elan: Yes, oh vanquisher of unpleasantness?
Sir François: Yeah, see, the thing is that this was supposed to be a low-profile visit.
Elan: Oh! I can fix that!
Attention, scum and villainy! If at all possible, please ignore the dashing and righteous Sir François as he goes about his business of making a few Gather Information checks regarding your illicit activities, to better shut them down at a later date.
- Happily Ever After: Elan's fate, according to the Oracle.
- Healing Hands: Has the spell Mass Cure Light Wounds from his latest bard level, and picked up Neutralize Poison at the same time. Post-Empire of Blood, he decides to take on a "backup healer" role and picks up Cure Critical Wounds, as well as a wand of Cure Moderate Wounds later on.
- The Heart: Referred to as such by Durkon. He's more heroic than anyone else and very likable. Even Belkar likes him.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Takes him a while to notice, but he eventually ends up in a relationship with Haley.
- Hero with an F in Good: Sometimes because he's The Ditz (to the point at which Roy briefly abandons him to his fate) and sometimes because he's too Genre Savvy.
- Horrible Judge of Character: His obliviousness to his father, Tarquin, being evil. This isn't so much a case of Elan's ditziness as it is Wrong Genre Savvy — Elan mistakes ruthlessness for the well-intentioned pragmatism displayed by Roy. Also, he understandably loves/trusts his father, and the affection is mutual despite his father's Card-Carrying Villainy.
- Hurricane of Puns: Required by the Dashing Swordsman class feature. Lampshaded by Tarquin when he tells Julio that Elan's vocabulary is terrible.
- Idiot Ball: He grabs it whenever it has the potential to be funnier.
- Idiot Hero: He sure is an idiot, and he tries very hard to be a hero. Maybe not as bad since he Took a Level in Badass, but he still has some cringe-worthy moments.
- I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: A good one from On the Origin of PCs:Elan: Sir, I'm not about to tell an innkeep I just met about the priceless antique shield Sir François carries, or the pouch of rare gems he keeps hidden in his saddlebags, of his purse filled with platinum pieces that he hides in his left boot when he sleeps.
- Informed Attractiveness: He's a stick figure character that doesn't look much different than any other, and yet has multiple girls flirting with him.
- Instant Ice: Just Add Cold!: When V "accidentally" encases him in ice, for helping with a concentration check.
- Invisible Streaker: Attempted inverted invocation. Elan tries to be this when he thinks that because wearing heavy armor makes you less stealthy, wearing less armor will make you stealthier and being naked will make you invisible.
- It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: Elan has a habit of saying this, usually shortly before the other shoe drops.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Definitely entering this territory. His bardsong, illusions, and limited healing make him a passable support caster and healer, and his Dashing Swordsman class has boosted his combat effectiveness enough to make him a decent melee fighter as well. He doesn't outstrip any of the team's specialists, but he's an effective replacement for any member of the team but V.
- Law of Disproportionate Response: Gladiator arena where falsely imprisoned men kill eachother for the benefit of the cheering crowds. What is it that offends Elan the most? The awful choreography of the pre-game show.
- L33t L1ng0: Parodied in "Still a Long Way to Go". V assures Roy that there will be a proofing stage for Elan's message.
- The Load: At the beginning of the comic many jokes were made about his uselessness. Until he Took a Level in Badass, Roy compared adventuring with him to adventuring with syphilis. He leans toward The Millstone when his music keeps making things worse, and especially when he blew up Dorukan's Dungeon.
- Lover, Not a Fighter: Initially because he's a bard. Then he becomes a Dashing Swordsman, a prestige class that lets him use his Charisma as his primary attack stat.
- Mad Libs Catch Phrase: "X, X, X, X the Y!"
- Magic Wand: Haley picks him up a magic wand of Cure Moderate Wounds.
- Manchild: It's a running gag from Elan to display behavior fitting more with a not-so-bright kid than an adult. Notably, Roy has to baby-sit Elan, fixing at what time he could go to sleep for example. When reunited with his father, Tarquin, he spends a full day enjoying the Empire of Blood equivalent to kiddy rides (riding dinosaurs).
- Master of Illusion: "Master" is a bit generous, but Illusion is Elan's favored school of magic and the one he most relies on when he remembers to use his bardic spells.
- Meaningful Name: Elan — "enthusiasm"/"liveliness".
- The Medic: He's become the secondary healer with Durkon's vampirism problem
- Meta Guy: Genre Savvy is his only form of useful intelligence, and after he takes a level in Dashing Swordsman, he derives his new powers from adventure tropes.
- Metaphorgotten: A frequent trait of his, especially when giving speeches.
- Min-Maxing: Is ironically the only member of the Order with an optimized build, since both Bard and Dashing Swordsman are primarily Charisma-based for Spellcasting and Swordfighting, respectively — and Charisma is a stat that Elan has in spades.
- Morality Pet: He helps Hailey develop beyond a greedy and selfish rogue; this is why she fell in love with him.
- Mr. Exposition: Most often through song, and with the addition of illusory magic to provide illustrations.
- Music for Courage: A bard skill is boosting performance with song. He has varying success, though not for lack of trying.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Sometimes, as a result of his Genre Savviness.Elan: ...Hey, did anyone else get that foreboding feeling just now?
- Naked People Are Funny: "I'm invisible!"
- Nice Guy: He's solidly "good" on the character alignment. So much so, when Nale is killed by Tarquin, he screams an anguished, "NALE!!!" Keep in mind, Elan despises Nale at this point — but he's still his brother. See also The Heart.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The others have to call him on his stupid choices sometimes, especially Roy after the destruction of Dorukan's dungeon.
- Noble Shoplifter:
- After escaping the Cliffport prison, he leaves a note of excuse in the clothes shop he's stealing from (since he doesn't have any money at all).
- Later, he leaves gold after getting a new lute while fleeing Azure City.
- Odd Friendship: He gets along well with Thog, the evil and dimwitted barbarian.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: Charisma is the key ability for his bardsong and bard spells, and his Dashing Swordsman levels let him apply it to attack and damage rolls as well.
- Only One Name: Like his brother and father.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: In combat, he lacks the physical power of Roy or Belkar and while he can do spells, he isn't capable of V's firepower or healing as well as Durkon. He's perfectly fine with this.Elan: I don't know why everyone complains about being overshadowed in combat. I always found it very relaxing.
- Picked Last: Elan is picked last when the party splits. Even when there was nobody else left to pick, Roy still didn't want to pick him.
- The Power of Acting: The Dashing Swordsman class is like playing the role of a movie style Action Hero in real life.
- Prestige Class: Dashing Swordman. He's the only party member to take a prestige class (though he needed it most).
- Protector Behind Bars: The danger Haley is in really inspires him to break out of jail.
- Pun: His Dashing Swordsman prestige class allows him to add his huge Charisma bonus to damage as long as he makes a pun with each attack.
- Quirky Bard: Elan's the prototype before taking a prestige class... and often afterwards as well.
- Reality Ensues:
- When trying to help Roy bluff an ogre, he warns the ogre that they are bluffing.
- Haley has to remind him that singing can't ever improve moving silently.
- Rousing Speech: Spoofed in Elan's speech prior to the battle for Azure City. He quotes a number of famous speeches, goes off in a tangent and then tries to his use bardic music.
- Royal Rapier: His weapon of choice, although he's lost a few. His silver rapier was given to him by Julio Scoundrél and sundered by his father.
- Rule of Drama: He mostly follows it, though he also knows when to avert it. Stories are fun, but they aren't worth hurting people over.
- Running Gag: His bard songs making things worse instead of helping.
- Sarcasm-Blind: Though Elan is slowly getting a better grasp of sarcasm, it's still hit-or-miss for him.
- Shattering the Illusion: He's the first to realize the party was stuck in a Lotus-Eater Machine after descending Girard's pyramid, and subsequently assists the party in breaking out of it.
- Shipper on Deck: In book 4, he thinks Lien and Hinjo need to repopulate the paladin race.
- Show Some Leg: Early on, this is his primary tactic with illusions — make an attractive female version of the enemy's species. It never works as intended, as his enemies tend to be married, gay, or Thog.
- Soft Glass: The Dashing Swordsman Prestige Class gives him immunity against damage from shattered glass.
- Something That Begins with "Boring": Elan with Roy, while waiting in the dragon's cave.
- The Squire: Formerly the squire of a paladin, Sir François, who ditched Elan due to his constant incompetence.
- Super Window Jump: He has taken a liking to glass-breaking dramatism since acquiring his Dashing Swordsman Prestige Class.
- Tempting Fate: Genre Savvy enough to become worried when someone invokes Retirony, for example.
- There Was a Door: Elan prefers to jump through windows even when doors are present, because his Prestige Class gives him immunity against damage from shattered glass. And because it's dramatic. At one point he specifically jumps through the window because they had left the door open, so he couldn't burst through it dramatically like everybody else.
- Too Dumb to Fool: An interesting example. When the team is under the influence of an illusion spell which makes them live through their greatest dreams, Elan is the one able to see through it, because while Roy and Haley have somewhat realistic desires, Elan's dreams are, as he puts it "stupid childish ideas that should never have happened". Basically, Elan is so naive that even he can see the absurdity of his fantasies.
- Too Dumb to Live: Somewhat Averted. While he regularly gets into life threatning situations and makes existing situations worse by his stupid actions, he has not yet died, although this is entirely thanks to his luck and the help of his friends.
- Took a Level in Badass: A quite literal example of this trope. Dashing Swordsman hugely improved his effectiveness because its power is based on his high Charisma.
- To the Pain: An unconventional version.Elan: But me, I have a different method of persuasion. Tell us what we need to know, OR—
Goblin teen: Do your worst!
Elan: —I'll cry. You heard me. I'll start bawling like a toddler who dropped their ice cream on the sidewalk. In front of your friends, your teachers, any girls you like. And I'll tell them it's because YOU won't be my friend.
Goblin teen: You wouldn't.
Elan: I think I'm misting up already.
- Upbringing Makes the Hero: Pointed out in an early strip, where Elan's happy childhood with his sweet, loving mother is responsible for turning him into the good-hearted lovable goofball he is, while his brother's father turned him into a miserable sociopath. As he grieves over his brother, he laments that while Nale may have deserved what he got, he might have been no better if their positions were reversed. While we know this isn't quite true, since Nale was whacking Elan when they were babies, it's still a powerful moment.Elan: He was your SON! Not a plot element! And if he was kind of a crappy person, it's because YOU made him that way!
- Wandering Minstrel: He's a bard; his understanding of fictional devices is part of what gives him power.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Does this to V for disintegrating Kubota, using his illusion casting abilities to drive it home.Elan: [to Vaarsuvius] Wow, V, you're absolutely right. It's totally cool for us to go around killing people. As long as it make it more convenient for us, why worry? I mean, it's not as if knowing that we need to lie about it to the paladin is a good indication that it may be the wrong idea.
Illusion Belkar: I honestly don't see any problem with that plan. Rock on, elf buddy!
- What Would X Do?: When forced to think for himself, his default tactic seems to be "work out what Roy would say".
- With Catlike Tread: Elan is spectacularly bad at stealth, as shown in the strip when he ROLLS A 4! on his Move Silently check, and when Haley has to remind him that singing to encourage his companions to move silently across the battlefield is counterproductive. The one time he managed to use stealth effectively, he immediately snuck back into the bandit camp he'd just escaped from because he felt it was his duty as a bard to seduce the bandit queen.
- You Fight Like a Cow: It's part of his Dashing Swordsman skillset, but he hasn't exactly mastered this move yet. Although he did quite well during his battle with Nale just after getting the Dashing Swordsman class.Nale: We're identical twins, you idiot! You just insulted yourself!
Elan: Really? 'cause you seem to have a couple more holes in you right now.
"I require a reminder as to why raining arcane destruction is not an appropriate response to all of life's indignities. Quickly, please, before they are out of range."
Race: ElfAn intelligent and rather condescending, elf wizard. Extremely skilled in the arcane arts, and the most powerful member of the Order (as frequently stated in-universe: casters are overpowered). Deeply dislikes Belkar; the feeling is mutual, and the two tend to play near-lethal pranks on one another. Has a spouse and two children. Vaarsuvius made some powerful decisions during a solo arc that resulted in much alignment confusion and Character Development.
Class: Wizard [Evoker]
Alignment: Arrogant Neutral (according to the Adventure Game)
Class: Wizard [Evoker]
Alignment: Arrogant Neutral (according to the Adventure Game)
- Ambiguously Gay: Kyrie's gender is as unclear as V's and their children are adopted, and the background to V's transformation includes a pink triangle. No word on whether that is intentional.
- Ambiguous Gender: No-one is sure what V's gender is. If anyone (including Rich himself) says it, they should be assumed to be guessing.
- And I Must Scream: When the Fiends call in their deal, Vaarsuvius's and Blackwing's souls are separated from their bodies and dragged down to Hell, where they're kept in restraints and forced to watch what's going on in the mortal plane.
- ...And That Would Be Wrong: Trope Namer. Namely, blowing people up over social problems.
- And Your Little Dog, Too!: Familicide, courtesy of Haerta Bloodsoak. What is "Familicide", you ask? It's an epic-level necromancy spell that instantly kills everyone you're related to and everyone they're related to. There Is No Kill Like Overkill.
- Anti-Hero: Over the course of the comic, V's capacity for ruthless decisions and Hair-Trigger Temper have gradually increased, culminating in them making a Deal with a Devil, a Demon, and a Daemon to save their family - and obtain godlike power into the bargain.
- The Atoner: After the incident with the fiends and Xykon. And again, after learning that the Familicide spell V used to kill the black dragons has wiped out the Draketooths, and anyone related to them.
- Badass Boast: Vaarsuvius specialises in producing these:Vaarsuvius: Your simple mind cannot possibly grasp the means with which I wrested the beast from the jaws of reality, leaving naught but a small pile of carpet sweepings.
- Badass Bookworm: The person who spends all their time reading scrolls instead of "jogging" is easily the most powerful member of the Order, at least as long as V has spells remaining. It's to the point where the only characters seen onscreen who aren't Gods or similarly powerful entities that can be sure of overpowering them in a straight fight are Xykon, Redcloak, the Ghost of Soon and V's Master Aarindarius (by implication, since Aarindarius was supposed to be capable of crushing the elder Black Dragon that had trounced V with little effort) — though Laurin and Miron might be in with a shout — all of whom are ridiculously high level. This leads to a lot of Deus Exit Machina. Note that V became an adventurer to get more XP for spell research.
- Bad Dreams: Or rather, Bad Trance Memories, complete with the Catapult Nightmare. Azure City soldiers beg V for help only to be slaughtered while the elf hides behind a invisibility spell.
- Baleful Polymorph: Spends several comics turned into a small purple lizard.
- Berserk Button: Do not question Vaarsuvius's magic skills, call V a Warlock, or threaten the elf's family. Gods help you if you threaten the family. In fact, gods help your family and extended family too.
- Big Damn Heroes: Backing up the embattled Order against Tarquin's army. Stoneskin, Fireball, Wall of Fire.
- Boring, but Practical: After becoming The Atoner, V has learned to reject flashy, dangerous spells, and instead uses less glamorous, but highly effective ones, like casting Greater Extended Invisibility on Haley to give her unlimited Sneak Attacks, using Mass Suggestion to incapacitate a group of giants with a single spell (as opposed to multiple damage attacks which may not kill all of them), or using a Counterspell to render an enemy spellcaster useless.
- Break the Haughty: With a lot of salt being rubbed into the wound. Continued in a very literal fashion when V decides to take on Xykon single-handedly.
- Brought Down to Normal: What do you get if you put a powerful elven arcane spellcaster inside a sphere of Anti-Magic? A fragile, pointy-eared monkey.Black Dragon: While I? Am still a dragon.
- Byronic Hero: V has a troubled backstory, a cranky personality, and yet still helps Roy after the contract was ripped up. However, V completely lacks the charisma associated with this trope.
- Calling Your Attacks: It is justified, since in this world, a wizard has to say the spell's name in order to properly perform it. Subverted on occasion, as Vaarsuvius has both shouted out spell names for spells not prepared, and produced the effects of a spell without casting. In this case, describing the effect of Sleep put the monsters to sleep.
- Can't Argue with Elves: Try arguing with Vaarsuvius. Haley basically smacked V on the head after one too many "And the problem with that would be...?" replies in On the Origin of PCs.
- Charm Person: Suggestion, Charm and Dominate spells form part of V's arsenal, and are typically employed if an opponent cannot be blasted with evocations for whatever reason.
- Comically Missing the Point: Sometimes has trouble with the concept that wizards aren't all-powerful gods of destruction compared to the non-magic using classes.Vaarsuvius: Thrice-cursed Spell Resistance! It's almost like the universe is trying to deliberately force some form of arbitrary equality between those of us who can reshape matter with our thoughts and those who cannot.
- Consummate Professional: Started out business-like and polite. Then V became insufferable and needed their familiar to point out that it's not socially acceptable to solve social problems with explosions.
- Counterspell: Makes good use of this tactic during the fight against Samantha the bandit sorceress, noting that it is a legitimate, if seldom-used, means of disabling a spellcaster.
- Creature of Habit: Qarr suspects that V's "Invisibility before peeing" is a result of knowing he's there; although the elf HAS known he's there, the Invisibility is a habit V picked while being part of the Order.Vaarsuvius: It frustrated a halfling I once knew to no end.
- Crippling Overspecialization: Gets this on two levels:
- Vaarsuvius is devoted to arcane knowledge, at the expense of everything else. This comes up twice in fairly quick succession when facing enemies that not only outclass the elf in magic but can also easily kill V in hand-to-hand combat: the ancient black dragon and Xykon.
- Their chosen school is Evocation, meaning V is barred from using any Conjuration spells, many of which are generally regarded as the most useful arcane spells that can be learned. Their inability to cast Teleport (and in one instance, Plane Shift) as a result of this has caused problems for the Order.
- Deadpan Snarker: Only second to Roy in the snark, and even more deadpan.Belkar: I just told you that he tried to kill me!
Vaarsuvius: Oh my, what a completely unprecedented reaction to spending more than ten minutes in your company.
- Deal with the Devil: Specifically, deal with the Devil, the Demon, and Daemon. And is theirs for 44:16. 20:35 have been already spent.
- Deus Exit Machina: Despite having their share of weaknesses that you would expect from a wizard, Vaarsuvius is sometimes removed from the party to keep the protagonists from using V's extensive powers.
- Deus ex Machina: Dark V wraps up several story conundrums with a snap of their fingers, such as completing the relocation of Azure City refugees with Mass Teleportation, and even with their normal power they off the Bad Guy of the Week, just to move the story ahead. Naturally, it doesn't last long as Xykon is stronger than them regardless due to him not requiring Soul Splices. It's played for laughs in regards to reuniting the Order, as their teammates found mundane solutions just as V is about to use their mega-power magic solution.
- Disintegrator Ray: V likes to disintegrate a lot, notably offing the adolescent black dragon, Kubota, and later finishing the ancient black dragon this way.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Delivered to V and returned manyfold.
- Dumb Is Good: Vaarsuvius is sometimes condescending towards others simply because of their lesser intelligence, making this an example of the "smart people are mean" part of the trope.
- Dump Stat: Strength (can only carry one Bag of Holding), Constitution (elf; plus a backstory that involves studying, but little exercise), and Charisma (genuinely worried about being capable of apologizing to a friend). Hell, looking at decisions over the course of the comic, Wisdom is looking iffy too, especially pre-splice (though this seems to have improved), and we've never seen any signs that V's Dexterity is worth writing home about. Vaarsuvius's status as master of the dump stat has been Lampshaded when V's singular focus on Intelligence was compared to Roy's extremely wide point spread as in the difference between a well-trimmed hamburger and a roast turkey dinner.
- Elfeminate: The main reason for the ambiguous gender.
- Eureka Moment: During their fight with Zz'dtri at the Empire Arena.Vaarsuvius: How in the infinite planes of existence am I supposed to be capable of defeating a wizard who has tailored not just their daily spells but their very build specifically to defeat... me.
- Everything's Better with Rainbows: Prismatic Spray is one of V's most powerful attack spells.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: V knows that, but unfortunately choses to ignore it and accepts the IFCC's deal.
- Evil Laugh: "Ha ha HA ha ha HA ha HA ha! Wait... why am I laughing? I don't... the voices..."
- Evil Makeover: The Soul Splice turns his robe black and makes his hair crazy; though V isn't affected apart from appearances.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: V started out with their hair short and with a circlet, but has since switched to longer, shaggier style that is pulled back and tied off. This seems to coincide with V realizing that absolute power is not all it's cracked up to be, as well as letting go of their family. It helps that this was after coming down from an episode of Power Makes Your Hair Grow.
- Expo Speak Gag: V's comedic stock-in-trade.Vaarsuvius: Fascinating. Durkon, I have just now formulated a theory that encompasses both Nale's likely method of engagement and the most suitable response on our part.
Durkon: THA TREES BE ATTACKIN'!! RUN FER YER LIVES!!!!
Vaarsuvius: Ah, I see you have already grasped the core principles of my theory.
- Fatal Flaw:
- Pride in the power of arcane magic, to the point where V's inability to admit to needing help has been a major factor in accepting a Deal with the Devil.
- Their poor social skills tend to cause a lot of problems. During the Battle for Azure City, V is too embarrassed to admit that they are out of spells to use. While V could have explained this and suggested a fighting retreat, they instead turn invisible and flees. Half the remaining army panics, some even dropping their weapons in the process, while the other half gets angry and tries holding onto an untenable defensive position. Both groups are slaughtered. The only two who escape are Daigo and his future wife Kazumi Kato; and that is only because they accidentally find the party (and have names). That level of slaughter is on par with Belkar, but unlike Belkar, V has a conscience and is almost driven insane from the guilt. Instead of seeking help and advice for this event, V instead pushes people away further, again, leading to the Deal with the Devil.
- Finger Poke of Doom: "Disintegrate."Vaarsuvius: Not if my index finger has anything to say about it. And, as it turned out, it had quite the stirring dissertation prepared on that very subject.
- Fire-Forged Friends: V finally learns to treat Blackwing as an equal after witnessing the latter's bravery when he plays a vital role in V and O-Chul's attempt to destroy Xykon's phylactery.
- Flight: With the Overland Flight spell, and V can also bestow it upon others.
- Flipping the Bird: "Bugsby's Expressive Single Digit!" *flip!*
- Functional Magic: As fitting for a Dungeons & Dragons comic. Vaarsuvius is explicitly an evoker, with necromancy and conjuration as forbidden schools.
- Glass Cannon: V can dish lots of damage, but as your archetypal Squishy Wizard, is much less adept at taking it.
- A God Am I: The IFCC warn V that the Soul Splice's side effects include "feelings of omnipotence" and indeed V soon believes that V can solve all the party's problems single-handily. Disabusing the elf of this notion is part of Xykon's "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
- Good Counterpart: To Zz'dtri (terse dark elf) and Pompey (clearly male half-elf).
- Good Hair, Evil Hair: Once the Soul Splice is completed, V's hair grows quite long and wild. Upon reverting, it's tied up into a ponytail.
- Grammar Nazi: As shown in one of the strips in Snips, Snails and Dragon Tails, V hates sentences that end in prepositions.
- Guile Hero: While V has no problem blasting minor problems into oblivion, V is usually not in position to solve problems with main force, and must rely on their wits and intelligence instead, which V usually does admirably (eventually; no V arc is possible without some serious false starts). There is one notable exception...
- Happily Married: Discussed Trope. No one can deny that V loves Inkyrius, and V believes that they had a good relationship, but Blackwing points out the truth. V has been away from their family for six years learning arcane magic, and even when the elf was home, V was emotionally absent. This is where V realizes that V has been a terrible mate and does not contest the divorce.
- Hearing Voices: During the Soul Splice, Vaarsuvius's three "subcontractors" talk a lot amongst themselves and can be heard audibly. It's later revealed that they had as much influence over V's actions alignment-wise as cheerleaders do over the outcome of a football game.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.:
- Vaarsuvius is being driven insane by guilt over a perceived failure in Azure City, as well as many failures since. As a result, the elf has become obsessed with not failing and, by extension, with finally succeeding at something that will prove that V is not a failure.
- Vaarsuvius has a bigger one when realizing the actual effects of the Familicide spell: not only did V kill all black dragons directly related to the ancient black dragon the spell was initially cast on, but also the entire Draketooth family, who descended from a black dragon, and everybody the Draketooths had children with, and their families...Vaarsuvius: [curled on the floor] My fault. I am the cause. It sprang from my brow.
- Hero with an F in Good: V has had some memorable Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! moments, such as Familicide, leading to the death of the Draketooth family, which leaves their gate undefended.
- He's Back: With a hell of a bang. With three spells, V turns the tide of battle.
- Hidden Depths: Turns out to be very knowledgeable with regards to romance on account of already being married. Subverted later on when it's pointed out that V hasn't exactly been the most attentive mate and Inkyrius ends up filing for divorce.
- Holding Back the Phlebotinum: Vaarsuvius is usually knocked out of fights quickly to prevent Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards from taking play. When V is able to participate, the fight either ends quickly or is against a powerful opponent with some form of magic resistance. This only gets more pronounced as the comic goes on and Vaarsuvius theoretically becomes more and more powerful compared to the rest of the party:
- When the party faces a Black Dragon, Vaarsuvius has been polymorphed into a lizard, barring V from most of their spells. Even so, V is still the one to defeat it.
- In a battle in Cliffport, Vaarsuvius immediately gets knocked out of the fight via a combination of poor tactics and being too close to a melee combatant.
- In the battle for Azure city, Vaarsuvius gets separated from the rest of the party and the elf is still the member of the Order with the largest contributions to the battle.
- V holds them self back when a caravan comes under attack so as to repress their more undesirable personality traits, namely their ego.
- When they are attacked by a pair of bounty hunters, V is immediately disabled by a bolt with strength-reducing poison.
- In Girard's ziggurat, V is completely paralyzed with guilt at having killed thousands of innocents and then literally paralyzed by the IFCC, thereby making very few contributions to the Order's activities.
- Demonstrated when pteranadon-mounted soldiers attack V, Haley and Elan; Haley starts rapping out a complex plan of attack, V just chain-lightnings the entire squadron.Haley: Oh, yeah. Wizard.
- Vaarsuvius doesn't respond to Blackwing's empathic cry for help because Blackwing had already sent too many over trivial and paranoid fears. As a result, the animal companions are placed in serious danger and a vampire gets away with an important magic item.
- Idiot Ball:
- V gets slammed with it in the epic battle versus Xykon, despite having more than enough sheer power on hand to win if the battle were fought in a halfway intelligent manner. Justified due to V's overwhelming power trip and arrogance.
- Played straight elsewhere. The Oracle all but tells V that the price for ultimate arcane power would be too high. Vaarsuvius only hears that the power sought is coming.
- V also assumed the IFCC would only have their soul after they died. The IFCC calmly tell V that was an assumption. No-one ever said they couldn't invoke their payment before V died.
- Ignored Epiphany:
- Even if The Plan they laid out was unworkable, the fiends make sure that V is aware of the fact that the true motives for accepting their deal were pride and desire for ultimate power, rather than any nobler goal. Despite this being thrown in V's face, the elf accepts the deal. V later learns the lesson, but only after the damage is done.
- Prior to that, V's question of the Oracle has the Oracle strongly hint that the cost of V's desire for power would come at a terrible price due to V's pride. V only notices that the power sought will be achieved.
- Immortality Begins at 20: Amusingly averted; according to V, one of the main drawbacks to an elven lifespan is twenty years in diapers.
- Inferiority Superiority Complex: V believes themself to be superior and thus obessed with demonstrating it. This is especially bad during the Don't Split the Party arc; during a string of (partially perceived) heavy failures and PTSD to boot, V becomes impossible to live with.
- In-Series Nickname: The rest of the Order often calls them just V. Belkar sometimes calls them Ears. Inkyrius calls them Suvie.
- Insufferable Genius: Yes, V is the most powerful member of the Order by a large margin. That doesn't mean V should bring it up all the time. Less prominent after an episode of Break the Haughty, and then being confronted with the massive consequences of what may be V's biggest mistake.
- Insult to Rocks: V apologies to the tables of the world for comparing them to Belkar.
- It's All My Fault: V's reaction to realizing the full implication of Familicide, and actually true in this case. However, it's also an important turning point in Vaarsuvius's character arc, as the elf refuses any potential loopholes, justifications, or excuses for the act in question and insists that the responsibility is hirs and hirs alone.
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Part of V's reason for not contesting the divorce.
- Jerkass: Often arrogant and sometimes pity. During the Don't Split the Party arc, a combination of guilt, bad dreams, and trance-deprivation make him even worse and it culminates with V threatening to kill Elan.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: V still has good qualities beneath the haughty exterior, and is trying to become a better person with Blackwing's help.
- Just Eat Him: Swallowed once by an owlbear and twice by black dragons...
- Kick the Dog: Taunting the black dragon about her dead son. There's no excuse for that, and it illustrates how close V is from an evil alignment before the fiends show up. Kubota spent a page explaning to Elan why he was going to become a Karma Houdini despite surrendering, so V disintegrating him is understandable from an Anti-Hero perspective. Committing familicide against every black dragon related to the one that attacked their family is extreme to say the least, but it prevents other family members from trying what this dragon failed — except for the fact the IFCC has promised Tiamat ten good dragon deaths for every black dragon that died. There's also the fact that any human even remotely related to that dragon is also offed — which includes the entire Draketooth lineage. Oops.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Honestly, Kubota had it coming. However, V had no idea who he was, or even his alignment. For all V cared, he was just a distraction from the mission to kill Xykon.
- Kill It with Fire: Fireball or Scorching Ray are often the first choice of offensive spell.Vaarsuvius: Burn, you insufferably terse dullard!!
- Knight Templar Parent: As part of hir epic Heroic B.S.O.D., he sets a long-distance record for Jumping Off the Slippery Slope with this trope when fighting the mother black dragon. With this mindset, the solution to prevent this kind of thing from happening again is clearly to wipe out the opposing family and anyone related to them.
- Lack of Empathy: To the extent of a Fatal Flaw. V does eventually come around to recognizing it but too late to save their marriage or the quest for Girard's Gate. It also leads V to ignore Blackwing when he sends an empathic distress call while a vampire attacks him and steals a vital teleportation crystal from their quarters, though Blackwing had been Crying Wolf for some time before.
- Last-Name Basis: Calls Roy "Sir Greenhilt", Haley "Miss Starshine" and Durkon "Master Thundershield", and tends to follow a similarly formal, professional pattern for other people. Just about the only people V doesn't refer to this way are Belkar (probably reflecting their level of respect for him) and Elan (quite possibly true again, but then he doesn't actually have a given surname).
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again:
- Lethal Joke Item: Doilies are the key to ultimate arcane power!
- Levitating Lotus Position: Vaarsuvius floats in this position while in a trance to regain spells.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards:
- By the #600 comic point, V has incredibly powerful magic available, and is the most powerful of The Team (by quite a lot) in terms of sheer damage-causing ability. This is tempered by V's "barred" schools, and the fact that if the elf gets too close to the action and gets either knocked out, gagged, paralyzed, transformed (lizard), or runs out of spells, he will become less helpful than Elan. This is a causative factor behind a Heroic B.S.O.D.. Because of what happened in the flashback strip "Running Away".
- Played with and ultimately defied in "Right Tool for the Job". V is up against a character who has tailored his very build to shut down the elf's entire spell list directly, even at its most effective. V gets around this by dominating the mind of an enemy crossbowman (crossbowkobold?), and correctly estimates the physical bolts as a weakness to be exploited. Hence, for all the supreme power V has, victory is achieved by using a ranger's abilities instead.
- Loves the Sound of Screaming: Only the screams of people that are really hated. For example, forcing the Linear Guild's third kobold Yukyuk to serve as Mr. Scruffy's litter box while he is under mind control, and V is very much aware of what's going on; V, as the one controlling him, is the only one who can hear his screams.Vaarsuvius: His silent screams are a symphony I cannot share.
- Mass Teleportation: During the Soul Splice. "Epic Teleport!"
- Moment of Weakness: Guilt, trance-depravation, physical injury, and hir family seconds away from a Fate Worse Than Death are all contributing factors in hir Deal with the Devil.Vaarsuvius: I... I must succeed.
- Morality Chain:
- According to the books, Haley helps rein in V, and her absence contributes to V's breakdown in Don't Split the Party.
- Blackwing has taken on this role to keep destruction to a minimum.
- Morphic Resonance: V keeps a pink or purple color scheme whenever transformed.
- Muggle–Mage Romance: Is married to a baker, though the relationship suffers from Vaarsuvius being much more invested in their pursuit of arcane power than in their spouse. Ultimately, the baker files for divorce.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Not so different from Belkar and Miko on this point, despite hating those two. Notably, over mere interaction problems:Vaarsuvius: As the size of an explosion increases, the number of social situations it is incapable of solving approaches zero.
- My God, What Have I Done?: When V comes down from the power high of the Soul Splice, V can only look back in horror at what they've done. V shuts down on realizing that that the Draketooth family are all descendants of an ancient black dragon.
- My Greatest Failure:
- Vaarsuvius is distraught over not having had enough power to win the battle at Azure City (though the wall would've fallen much earlier without V's aid), and failing to overcome the Cloister spell (though the elf very nearly succeeded with the bird-messengers, if not for a freak incident that was no fault of anyone).
- The reconciliation with Durkon counts, as V is incredibly regretful of how the immense power gained from the Fiends was used and how, only after receiving a withering speech from Xykon after being defeated did V become truly effective.
- Vaarsuvius goes through it again when realizing that the Familicide spell inadvertently killed the Draketooth family. And anyone they reproduced with and their families.
- Nerf: V can't cast teleport, through no fault of their own because when came the choice of opposed schools, Teleportation was not a conjuration spell, thus V thought it was safe to take conjuration as an opposed school.
- Never Live It Down: In-Universe example.Vaarsuvius: I have a plan.
Blackwing: Does it involve selling your soul?
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- Whether or not the black dragons Vaarsuvius murdered were Acceptable Targets, the sheer undiscriminating effects of Familicide killed quite a few innocents tied to them as well. Including the Draketooth clan, the protectors of Girard's gate.
- Vaarsuvius's decision to stay quiet on a few subjects (hir Deal with the Devil, the Familicide and the planet in the Snarl's prison) has some disastrous consequences.
- Not Brainwashed: The Soul Splice has absolutely no effect on alignment. V Jumps Off the Slippery Slope without help.
- No Time to Explain:Vaarsuvius: Time is at a premium, precluding extended discussion.
- Not So Different: From Redcloak. Both are Well-Intentioned Extremists willing to go any lengths (up to and including arguable genocide) to protect the people they care about (for Redcloak, it's goblins in general; for V, it's their family). Both are the most powerful character on their respective teams (with Redcloak, while he may not be as heavy a hitter as Xykon, Xykon has basically become Redcloak's unwitting sockpuppet). They both like to Disintegrate things, both are formidable Guile Heroes (though Redcloak is a villain), both have to put up with an inordinate amount of idiocy (real or imagined), both are fond of The Plan. Hence, these two have become a popular Crack Pairing amongst the fandom.
- Oh, Crap!: Vaarsuvius makes a lot of regrettable decisions, and, due to their intelligence, frequently realizes their mistake immediately after making it.
- "Say 'disintegrate' one more time, Vaarsuvius. For me."
- V also has this expression on discovering the ramifications of casting Familicide on the black dragon.
- Old-Timey Bathing Suit: In the "Beach Party" wallpaper, V wears one (as androgynous as ever).
- One-Man Army: Well, more like One-Elf-of-Ambiguous-Gender Army anyway, but V definitely counts. Note that during the battle with Tarquin's troops, V getting back up manages to turn a dramatic Last Stand into something the heroes stand a chance of winning, tearing through hordes of Tarquin's troops single-handed while simultaneously deploying just the right magic in just the right places to keep up tactical advantage.
- Ostentatious Secret: Great lengths are taken to hide Vaarsuvius's gender and also point out that no one (not even The Giant himself) knows what it is.
- Our Elves Are Better: Averted. V struggles with a lot of very human troubles and flaws such as pride, stubbornness, and thoughtlessness towards others. Vaarsuvius feels these flaws more and more keenly as time goes on and is working to improve.
- Paint It Black: When V accepts the Soul Splice, the elf's normally red robe and cape turn black (along with instant hair extensions and pointy teeth). Bonus: the strip title is "I See a Red Robe and I Want to Paint it Black".
- Papa Wolf or Mama Bear: Gender notwithstanding, for the love of Thor, do not threaten V's kids. He'll wipe out your entire extended family if you do.
- Platonic Life-Partners or Heterosexual Life-Partners: V and Haley have always been extremely close, with Haley only ever agreeing to share a room with V until she and Elan became a couple.
- The Plot Reaper: Vaarsuvius's killing of Kubota is for this very reason. He was a distraction from the main plot.
- Pointy Ears: Comes with being an elf.
- Power Floats: While trancing.
- Power Makes Your Hair Grow: A side-effect of the Soul Splice.
- Powers via Possession: Takes possession of three evil souls to gain their powers. Notably, V is Not Brainwashed by them.
- Prepositions Are Not to End Sentences With: In a Dragon strip, V blows the party's cover by ranting at a pair of wights who kept doing this.
- Pride: V's Fatal Flaw. When given a choice between selling their soul and getting help from their friends, V chose the former.
- Pronoun Trouble: For everybody else given the elf's ambiguous gender.
- Really 700 Years Old: As an elf, V is over a hundred years old but doesn't look any older than the rest of the Order.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Xykon gives a potent one to V about what power really means and why the elf lacks it.
- Right Place, Right Time, Wrong Reason: The wording of the Oracle's prediction concerning V finding ultimate power.
- Ring of Power: A Ring of Wizardry, pried from Xykon's charred fingerbone.
- Running Gag: V's use of Explosive Runes.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: At times it becomes a problem. At one point V overcomes one of the rules of the game (namely, that Talking Is a Free Action).Vaarsuvius: Actually, now just [six seconds]. I was being particularly verbose just there.
- Shipper on Deck: Early on, V quietly supports the good ship Haley/Elan — or, at least, knows that Haley is crushing on Elan and wants to help Elan towards realizing it.
- Shock and Awe: Lightning spells are amongst Vaarsuvius's favorites.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: "Disintegrate. Gust of Wind. Now can we PLEASE resume saving the world?"
- The Smart Guy: A powerful mage, and magic requires high intelligence. He's one of several in the Order of the Stick.
- Sophisticated as Hell: When V uses strong words, they're usually coated in this.
- The Spock: Most of the time, V speaks in a measured and scholarly tone and is concerned with logic and efficiency. Although V has experienced enough emotional turmoil to lose cool at critical moments. The "Stick Trek" wallpaper actually casts V as Spock.
- Spock Speak: V's normal way of speaking is formal and exact.
- Squishy Wizard: As per standard for D&D wizards, he has great magical power but crumbles in physical confrontations.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: Varies wildly between "aloof asshole" and "huggable woobie", even within strips.
- Talk to the Hand: Vaarsuvius is very fond of the various Bugsby's Hand spells. In #934, Vaarsuvius would have pushed Tarquin off the Mechane if Laurin hadn't zapped the hand.
- Tears of Remorse: A little overdue, very out of character... and definitely meant, in "Lack of Foresight".
- Took a Level in Jerkass: V's resistance to anything not involving Xykon directly, arrogance and overall occasionally rude behavior skyrocket during the period after Azure City where V refuses to trance for months. This culminates in threatening Elan and ditching the rest of the Order of the Stick. After the whole Deal with the Devil thing V returns to normal behavior or better.
- Tragic Hero: Since the events of the Soul Splice V has to deal with great personal tragedy due to their hubris and is working on redemption
- Troubled Fetal Position: After realizing that V caused the deaths of countless innocents with the Familicide spell.
- Unscrupulous Hero: V's first major scene shows the elf gleefully using a spell designed to tentacle-rape an opponent to death, and while this can partially be put down to Early Installment Weirdness, V continues to use Unscrupulous tactics.
- Unwitting Pawn: Accepting the Deal with the Devil and attacking Xykon play right into the Gambit Roulette spun by the Inter-Fiend Cooperation Commission.
- Vancian Magic: Isn't too happy about the need to prepare spells every morning, as the article's epigraph indicates.
- Victorious Loser: Against Xykon. Though V lost the Soul Spice and didn't defeat Xykon, they rescued O-Chul and rattled the Lich's cage.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Briefly polymorphed into a burrowing animal while searching for Girard's gate. While powered up by the Soul Splice, V turned into a full-size dragon.
- Wall of Blather: Early on. It puts a bunch of goblins (as well as Belkar and Elan) to sleep.
- Weapon of Choice: Spells; V's a mage after all. V prefers Fireball, Lightning Bolt/Chain Lightning, Disintegrate and Prismatic Spray as attack spells. Also, Explosive Runes — *BOOM*
- What You Are in the Dark:
- V's state during the Deal with the Devil. The IFCC tells the elf that the splice will affect alignment, while in reality it's only three additional shoulder devils, who don't have any real influence. The answer is going Drunk with Power and committing a genocide of black dragons. While the rest of the party doesn't know, Vaarsuvius's mate, familiar, and the Powers That Be (and Karma) do.
- V's rescue of O-Chul qualifies. Vaarsuvius is heavily injured, nearly out of spells, and completely out of their league, against Xykon, an Epic-level sorcerer and the Big Bad. V turns invisible and means to escape through a hole in the wall, one Feather Fall away from safety... Nobody could possibly know or blame the elf for escaping in that situation, but V instead chooses to go back and help O-Chul instead, rather than abandoning yet another person to their death. It is a very poignant and touching moment — an important first step to redemption — after everything Vaarsuvius has done.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer...: The way V's been using magic since the beginning: load up with as much power as possible, then smash. Trying to break the habit in one arc, with difficulties. It could be said to have succeeded, if "Right Tool for the Job" is anything to go by. Instead of blasting the enemy, buff your allies.
"I AM A SEXY SHOELESS GOD OF WAR!"
Race: HalflingA.K.A. "The Belkster," "Death's Li'l Helper," and now "Doomsealer". Even shorter than other halflings, Belkar has deep-seated emotional problems. He tries to work these out by killing or otherwise harming people he doesn't like. Still, he has some of the best lines and is a major source of (black) comedy.
Alignment: Selfish Evil (according to the Adventure Game)
Alignment: Selfish Evil (according to the Adventure Game)
- Abstract Scale: His evil is measured in KiloNazis, against a baseline of the hypothetical off-spring of Sauron and Cruella DeVille.
- The Alleged Expert: Was invited to join the Order because Roy assumed his levels in the Ranger class automatically gave him some skills as a tracker, and his entry on the comic's "cast of characters" page described him as "the world's best tracker under 4 feet tall". As it turns out, he hasn't invested a single point in his Track skill.
- Alliterative Name: Belkar Bitterleaf.
- Androcles' Lion: The Empire of Blood's troops, sick of the Order slaughtering all their infantry, sic an Allosaurus at them... which turns out to be the same one Belkar was nice to and let out earlier. One Wild Empathy use (and a couple daggers inside the rider) later, Belkar has a new mount. "Flee before me, worms!!", indeed.
- Anti-Hero: The only thing that separates Belkar from being a Villain Protagonist is that he is pointed towards the Big Bad. In fact, he might have joined Xykon if his poor impulse control didn't have him throw a cat in the recruiter's face for his own amusement.
- Ass Shove: Implied.Belkar: But speaking hypothetically, if I had managed to conceal a Ring of Jumping someplace on my body that I was reasonably certain no one would search...
- And threatened.Belkar: I am going to shove the sunshine so far up where the sun don't shine that you will vomit nothing but warm summer days!!
- And threatened.
- Atop a Mountain of Corpses: His most iconic moment, after slaughtering an entire army of hobgoblins.Haley: Do you want to tell him he probably won't get any experience from killing them?
Durkon: Let's draw straws.
- Badass Normal: Magical abilities are not needed for him to be a "shoeless god of war". Out of a raiding party of Thieves' Guild rogues there were None Left Standing, and he slayed enough goblins to create a mountain many times his size. Although as a ranger, he should be able to cast spells... if he didn't have the wisdom score of a lemming.* Belkar: Hey, lemmings are cute.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Belkar hopes to push Miko over the edge and make her fall. He succeeds, but she ends up killing someone he liked in the process.
- Becoming the Mask: There are hints that Belkar's fake character development is turning into real character development. It becomes very apparent in "Wild Empathy". It happens even more after Durkon is turned into a vampire. Instead of taking the idea of Durkon being back with an alignment adjustment at face value (or brushing it off like the old Belkar might have), he is suspicious of the vampire even when it's costing him points with the rest of the team, points that he was initially faking character development to gain so they'd keep him around. And it's likely because Durkon died for him and he won't forget it. This really seems to be more important to him than staying in the Order's good graces.
- Berserk Button: It doesn't matter who you are... if you value your head remaining attached to the rest of your body, you should never, ever, EVER threaten to harm Mr. Scruffy in his presence. If you insult his affection for Mr.Scuffy, he force-feds you someone else's entrails.
- The Berserker: He has a couple of barbarian levels, but it's not always obvious when he goes into a rage because he's always in some kind of foul temper.
- The Big Guy: He's the most bloodthirsty of the group and has the highest body count. He shares the role with Durkon (ironically, the two are the smallest humanoid members of the party).
- Black Comedy: He's the main source of this on the protagonists' side.
- Blood Knight: Fighting and slaughtering living beings is all he initially cared about, and the reason he decided to go on a dungeon crawl.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: Roy's "NOT THE POINT!"
- Brutal Honesty: Nothing in his Cruel to Be Kind speech is false. It's just delivered in an incredibly offensive way in order to enrage Roy enough to make him want to continue. Of course, it also makes Roy far too eager to believe that the High Priest of Hel is just Durkon with a paint job rather than admit the truth.
- ...But He Sounds Handsome: "That Belkar, as stubborn as he is stone-cold sexy."
- Cassandra Truth:
- His tendency to screw with people got him disbelieved at first when he bore the bad news of Durkon's vampirization.
- Also, at first he's the only one who has serious doubts about Durkon not being Durkon anymore after vampirization. It takes a while before everyone else realizes he's right.
- Chaotic Stupid: Moreso in earlier strips, where he would do things like set a tent on fire just to watch it burn — when they were trying to sneak into a camp stealthily.
- Character Development:
- Faked character development, which ironically is real development for him too. To clarify: at the end of the Don't Split the Party arc, Belkar is in many ways still the same sociopathic murderous halfling. However, he actually promises someone else that he would stick to him to the very end, no matter the outcome, which is something the old Belkar would never have done. In the book commentary for that section the author described the conversion scene as going from sociopath to slightly more high-functioning sociopath.
- He gives a whole speech on the subject in 957, suggesting he's aware he's no longer quite the same. He's beginning to show empathy for others, although he's so unused to it he doesn't know in advance what will make him feel guilty.
- It's justified as the Ranger's very first skill is Wild Empathy. While Halflings are rarely evil, it is almost inevitable that a Ranger will get an animal companion (no matter how low their wisdom is or how suboptimal their builds are). The original joke was he was both a class and a race that is generally good and yet he is completely evil for some reason. However, empathy is literally built right into his main class. On top of that, he was always empathic enough to know precisely the way to tear people down through talking.
- If you check strip 960, he actually thanks V at the end of it. Not like anything forces him to do that; his faked character growth still includes being pretty berating to people.
- Charlie Brown Baldness: He's not bald, but the very short hair atop his head is hard to see (unless in close-ups or from behind). Notably, it's identical to the hair on his feet.
- Chef of Iron: He has ranks in the Profession (Gourmet chef) skill.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: The Ring of Jumping +20. First when he uses it to escape from prison in Azure City, and again when he lends it to Roy.
- Combat Sadomasochist: He can hardly be bothered killing things that won't scream.
- Commonality Connection: He helps two gladiators escape after they have been forced to fight each other, because he feels for them realizing that he would hate to be forced to fight Mr. Scruffy. It comes as a great shock to him.
- Cruel Mercy: Part of his character development is learning a more refined form of cruelty.
- When Blind Pete betrays him, Haley, Celia and a cleric of Loki, he doesn't kill the traitor. Instead, he convinces the traitor's Childhood Friend to do so instead, because it will hurt more and be more fun to watch. And, to an extent, in a warped attempt to "help" the friend, by teaching him to solve his problems with violence.
- After reducing Crystal to 0 HP, he doesn't kill her. Instead, he leaves her on the floor, helpless and humilitated, and fetches her rival to kill her instead.
- He doesn't kill Yukyuk, despite his attack on Mr. Scruffy. Instead, he turns the kobold into Mr. Scruffy's litterbox.
- Cruel to Be Kind: Gives Roy a massive, insulting speech specifically designed to spit in the face of Roy's grief over Durkon's death, which has Roy so demoralised he seriously contemplates giving up the quest. It shocks the team and enrages Roy — which is enough to get Roy off the bench short term. Long-term, the damage was severe enough that Roy went into denial rather than admit that Durkon is really gone and he is in some sense responsible, which has nasty potential consequences for the whole world.
- Crutch Character: As befitting someone with such a terrible build. He's a veritable Mook-slaughtering machine but has perhaps the lowest success rate of the group against higher-level opponents. Spellcasters in particular tend to steamroll him because he has a laughable Will save. In addition, he's leveling up slower than everyone else because of his multiclassing (and the Mark of Justice severely limiting his killing power at crucial points). He also had the honor of being hired as the party's tracker without having any ranks in survival, few ranks in spot, and an abysmal wisdom score meaning he could barely do his job if at all. Note that survival is a class skill for both barbarian AND ranger. It comes back to haunt him later because he is too underpowered to stealth kill the High Priest of Hel. Instead he has to rely on charisma and wisdom to convince the others of the truth. The latter is his dump stat and the former is thrown out the window because he's a sociopath.
- Defensive "What?":Belkar: Well, I just figured we'd wander around, kill some sentient creatures because they had green skin and fangs and we don't, and then take their stuff. [everyone else in the party glares at him] What?
- Disney Death: Thrown off a mountain, courtesy of the High Priest of Hel. He's later seen climbing the rockface promising all sorts of retribution.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Like all halflings. Ironically, he especially dislikes sandals.
- Dual Wielding: Two daggers. It is implied that Belkar choose Ranger because of the Two-Weapon Fighting feat.
- Dump Stat: Wisdom. This comes into play in an early strip, "First Aid": when V buffs Belkar's Wisdom to enable him to use a healing scroll, it completely changes Belkar's personality and life goals. This would not only make Belkar less funny, but also less useful in a fight, so Status Quo Is God... note Note as well that this is a terrible dump stat for a ranger; Wisdom is the stat that governs perception-based skills, tracking, and divine spellcasting, all of which are central to the ranger's noncombat abilities, and it also governs the ranger's worst regular save, Will. True to form, Belkar is consistently terrible at all of these things.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- He was traumatized when Elan decided to run around the Dungeons of Dorukan naked.
- He was outraged by Miko Miyazaki murdering Lord Shojo.
- He refuses to cut corners on cooking because he's a gourmet chef.
- Evil Counterpart:
- Inverted in his Good Counterpart, the late Yokyok, whose father he killed earlier in the comic.
- Also both inverted and played straight by Yokyok's aforementioned father Yikyik, who's Belkar's counterpart and is genuinely evil because he's just like Belkar.
- Yukyuk, whose relation to Yikyik and Yokyok is currently unknown, but he seems to be as evil as Yikyik.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
- Pre-Character Development, he struggled with this trope occasionally, such as not understanding why everyone is so against him killing people in On the Origin of PCs or assuming the slaves Haley just liberated would work for him because he can't get his head around Haley granting them their freedom.
- On one occasion, this trope unexpectedly works out in his favor. When he tries to tell the rest of the party that Durkon has been turned by a vampire and Roy dismisses it as a lie, he mentions that Durkon's last request to the vampire was for his comrades to be spared. This causes Haley to believe him, since Belkar is so much of a sociopath that he wouldn't think to include that detail if he was lying.
- After the Order frees a group of travellers that have been captured by slavers, Belkar is presented with a jar of spice from one of the merchants that he has personally saved. Roy has to explain to him that no, it is neither a bribe nor a scam, the man is just grateful for the rescue and wants to thank him... because Belkar can't wrap his head around it.
- Failed a Spot Check: All the time. He's almost as oblivious as Elan.
- Fantastic Racism: He hates kobolds. Subverted regarding vampire Durkon/the High Priest of Hel. He can handle the fangs, but he doesn't buy that Durkon could go from forgiving him to eagerly drinking his blood in seconds.
- Fiery Redhead: If you consider violently sociopathic "fiery". While Belkar appears to be bald, he has very close cropped red hair (usually only seen from the back.)
- Fluffy Tamer: As a ranger he has Wild Empathy but he doesn't use his skills much. However, he does get an Allosaurus on his side.
- Glass Cannon: Roy unsubtly shows him that he isn't as good at taking damage as he is at dishing it out, and he should stick to slaughtering Mooks.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: He's stated to have an abysmal Wisdom score, and can't cast Ranger spells as a consequence. Despite this, he's pretty cunning even if he sucks at tracking, instinctively knows the worst way to hurt someone with words, often quickly pieces together what's happening with limited information, and has twice been the only one to notice that there was an imposter in the party. (Although one was a case of The Nose Knows and the other paralleled his own development, so he had a circumstance bonus).
- Gay Bravado: Is "confident enough in his sexuality" that he can make come-ons at a gender bent Roy to squick the latter out.
- Geas: The Mark of Justice will make him horribly ill to deter him from killing in a settlement. He breaks it half by accident: he kills the Oracle of Sunken Valley, but the Oracle had moved just enough kobolds into the area to technically constitute a settlement.
- Genre Savvy: In a bizarre turn of events, he's the only one to object to vampire Durkon's presence, constantly telling Roy that he isn't Durkon any more and having a blood-sucking monster for a teammate is asking for trouble. Turns out he was very, very right about him no longer being Durkon...
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Nope, it is shown instead that he's got two shoulder fiends (representing his impulsive evil side and his long-term evil side), and a shoulder slaad. The shoulder angel "...doesn't work here anymore."Angel: [twitching] ...and he kept stabbing them, again and again... He's a halfling, he's supposed to be jolly... Why isn't he jolly? WHY ISN'T HE JOLLY???
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: A textbook example; his bloodlust and sociopathy are played for laughs, such as "trying to kill Elan for XP".Belkar: How the HELL am I supposed to make myself feel better if there's no one to hurt?!?
- He's Back: After sending dozens of strips invalid from sickness, he returns In a Crowning Slaughter of Awesome.
- Hidden Depths:
- Averted at first. Belkar has no depth at all, and his hallucination of Shojo tells him that he better fake some Hidden Depths or he'll find himself in deep trouble. However, his attempts to fake it over time seems to be gradually growing into some sort of genuine depth.
- His absolute hatred for vampire Durkon/High Priest of Hel could be a manifestation of Belkar's grief over Durkon's death.
- His faking of Hidden Depths becomes a Chekhov's Skill when he is able to see that vampire Durkon is also faking Hidden Depths as well, and calls him out on it.Belkar: People don't just change who they are inside in an instant. It doesn't work like that. It takes time, so you don't even know you're changing. Until one day, you're just a little different than you used to be and you can't even tell what the hell happened.
- Belkar, despite being a terrible ranger in the usual ranger skills like Survival, has ranks in Cooking. Gourmet, too!
- Hidden Heart of Gold: He's developed one where Durkon is concerned. Despite outwardly hating him, Belkar was deeply affected by Durkon's heroic sacrifice, to save him from Malack, and Belkar has greatly missed Durkon since then, as seen in his absolute hatred for the vampire.
- Hobbits: He averts every expectation of his race except his skill as a chef.
- Homoerotic Subtext:
- Hunter of Monsters: As a Ranger, he gets Favored Enemies as a class feature, and if his angry threats towards a vampire are to be believed, his time in Azure City made Undead one of them.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: Sarcastically refuses to join in when everyone else is saying nice things about Durkon... only to mutter to himself that he never forgot that Durkon didn't blame him when he was dying at a vampire's hands.
- Hypocritical Humor: "What kind of idiot could screw up something as simple as protecting the casters?" Belkar's kind of idiot, that's who.
- In the Hood: When trying to be sneaky (or when it rains), Belkar puts on a dark green hood.
- I Should Write a Book About This: Parodied, like other halfling-related tropes.Belkar: You know, I think I could make good money writing a guidebook to the jail cells of the world.
Dark but clean, I'd give this three stars — "Would be incarcerated again."
- I Will Show You X: When Belkar's friend Buggy Lou suggests eating Mr. Scruffy with a nice marinade.Belkar: I got your marinade RIGHT HERE!
- Jerkass: His main selling point is his unapologetic meanness and asshattery.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Belkar has sometimes a better idea of what's going on than his goody-two-shoes companions.
- Even Hinjo, a paladin, has to admit it once, about why his uncle would refuse resurrection.
- Belkar's insistence that vampire Durkon be killed at the first calm moment was probably the best course of action all things considered.
- Amusingly, one of the things that unnerves Belkar is the fact that Roy has been agreeing with him lately in recent strips, ever since Roy found out about the High Priest of Hel.
- Karma Houdini: Roy tries to wrangle a deal to spare Belkar prison time on two occasions, although both are ultimately subverted.
- The first one is when Roy demanded a temporary "get out of jail free card" from Shojo in exchange for investigating the Gates, which became permanent once Azure City was conquered. Though Belkar didn't get away completely scot-free. He did have to have that Mark of Justice stuck on his head in exchange for his "freedom".
- The second time, he tried to match the jail time Belkar would serve with the amount of time he would be pardoned for in exchange for a good deed. Unfortunately, he explained this plan in front of the person in charge of both the jail time and the pardon, so Hinjo used his discretion to give Belkar the longer sentence for trying to beat the system.
- Kavorka Man: He is successful at seducing human women (with obviously low standards) from times to times. He later has the chance to go on a date with a gnome girl, but has to decline over guilt.
- Kill It with Fire: "When in doubt, set something on fire."
- Kissing Under the Influence: With Vaarsuvius due to new year's beer.
- Knife Nut: He sure loves his daggers...
- The Lancer: After Durkon gets Vamped, he's the one who's more willing to call Roy out for being Genre Blind. Haley's still second-in-command, but she's more supportive and less abrasive than Belkar.
- Laughably Evil: He's evil, but a big source of laughs. Only second to Xykon.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Belkar provides a near-perfect example of how a Leeroy can cause havoc in "A Lesson in Leadership".
- Level Grinding: It takes Belkar months of killing off undead to get one level after the Time Skip, and it's drained almost immediately by a wight.
- Made a Slave: In the prequel story "Uncivil Servant", Belkar mentions having recently spent seven months as a slave.
- The Man They Couldn't Hang: "Hangin' Around". He is offended by humans who think their methods of execution would work on a halfling.Belkar: I'm not even pulling this rope taut.
- The Millstone: Belkar's sociopathy and frequent refusal to listen to orders ruin the party's planning several times — for example, leaving the spellcasters undefended to kill goblins, putting the bandit camp on fire because he couldn't wait, or killing the Oracle. He has somehow grown out of it after his Vision Quest... until that time in prison when he pushes Roy to snap during the gladiator selection for the games, dooming the leader of the OotS to a dangerous fight in the arena (though Gannji is also somewhat to blame).
- Mind Screw: Favorite way of being a Jerkass to his teammates. He claims to have taken the feat "Craft Disturbing Mental Image".
- Min-Maxing: Inverted! Belkar's "build" is (deliberately) suboptimal; as a halfling he gets a Strength penalty, though he must have compensated for that with a very high unmodified score based on his damage output with those tiny daggers, and a Dexterity bonus, but hardly ever uses missile weapons, and taking Wisdom as a Dump Stat impairs his use of key Ranger skills and spellcasting. The only aspect of his build that isn't complete crap is that he appears to utilize his dexterity to extremes, jumping around like Yoda, meaning he is very good at defeating low-level minions. Later, he attempts to offset some of these deficiencies with a dip into Barbarian. Since his racial favored class is Rogue, the disparity between his Ranger and Barbarian levels means he now earns 20% less experience than the rest of the party (assuming that rule is being enforced).
- Morality Chain: Without Roy's restraining influence, he would be an even worse psychopath.
- Munchkin: For example, wanting to murder a team member just to get the necessary XP to level up.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Belkar works on the definition, "Enemy combatant = anyone worth XP."
- Muscles Are Meaningless: He can block a half-orc and a woman twice his size at the same time because character class matters more than physical strength.Belkar: Wow, it's almost like I am a seasoned warrior and you two are glorified pickpockets! Imagine that!
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: Though he doesn't quite think it through, he attempts this as a tactic to hold Miko back. While Raise Dead is magically easy for Durkon, it is not economically feasable for the party just for shits and giggles; he also overestimates the party's willingness to resurrect him (at one point, Haley was ready to dump a dying Belkar once and for all, and would have if not for an Easy Amnesia spell).
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: He gets this treatment a few times because he is The Friend Nobody Likes.
- The Napoleon: Short and bad-tempered? Check.
- Naytheist: He has a not completely unfounded dislike of the gods, particularly Odin for the prophecy with Durkon, and is convinced he is just screwing with them.
- The Nicknamer: Belkar loves to give ludicrous (but creative) nicknames to about everyone or everything (including himself), but especially for Durkon.note
- Nominal Hero: Roy keeps him around because it's better to have him pointed at people worse than him and the other option is slitting his throat.
- The Nose Knows: "Halfling sense activated!" Notably, Belkar tracks the Order's way through the Windy Canyon by scent alone. He also uses scent to realize that Nale is impersonating Elan.
- Not Good with People: Post-fake-Character Development, Belkar has become remarkably loyal and friendly to certain animals. While he'd gladly leave his teammates out to dry, he won't do the same to an animal he's befriended.
- No, You: Indirectly to the High Priest of Hel after being tossed off a mountain while angrily climbing back.Belkar: Throw me off a mountain? I'll throw you off a mountain!
- Oblivious to His Own Description: "I just don't trust the idea of us using a horrible bloodthirsty savage to fulfill our goals while we — oh, I get it."
- Odd Friendship:
- Any actual friendship would be odd, but he really seems to care about Mr. Scruffy.
- He also is on good terms with Lord Shojo, and is upset when he dies.Belkar: Dude, you make paladins clean your litter box. You're my hero.
- He's also surprisingly amiable with Elan. He makes him laugh.
- One-Man Army: Proven in "Seeing Orange" where he stands on a pile of corpses several times his own height.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Yet another way he will screw with people's minds, generally through Confound Them With Kindness — especially in contrast to his normal psychopathic fare.
- "Horse Sense"Belkar: Are you feeling OK? I'm really worried about you.
- "Probably About an '8'"Belkar: I think they've worked out a good plan to end this pointless conflict without any more lives lost, and I support it fully. Let's stop the violence. [big grin]
- And in "Payback":Roy: OK, now, I know we're doomed. Belkar is acting like a ranger.
- "Horse Sense"
- Pet the Dog:
- He once kills an assassin who wants to kill Hinjo, although this is subverted by the fact he figured that Hinjo might remove his Mark of Justice for doing so.
- Mr. Scruffy is possibly the only thing he's ever cared for unconditionally (at least before Bloodfeast).
- There is also the time when he saves the two reptilian bounty hunters by releasing an Allosaurus to distract the soldiers trying to kill them. It's pointed out that he could have just waited for the soldiers to kill them before letting loose the Allosaurus: bunch of dead guards, on their own, would have been funny, but dead mercenaries that he hated and eaten guards? Hilarious in his eyes. "Wild Empathy" reveals that he helped them because it reminded him of his relationship with Mr. Scruffy.
- He's genuinely upset that Durkon died trying to save him from Malack.
- His illusion of a perfect life when he was trapped in Girard's dungeon? Hanging out with Lord Shojo and Mr. Scruffy.
- He gets another moment with the above Allosaurus. And this one pays off quite handily, as well. Also, after the Allosaurus gets polymorphed into a lizard? Belkar refuses to leave it behind when the team makes its escape from Tarquin.
- He tries to buy a charm to protect himself from vampire Durkon, but it malfunctions because it detects his evil and damages him. He plays it off as damaged goods, but then buys it anyway (albeit at half price), rather than see the gnome girl lose out completely.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: He's the shortest member of the Order and one of the shortest in the whole comic, yet his body count is many times taller.
- Properly Paranoid: He considers this a necessary quality for an adventurer. For example, about all the High Priest of Hel's attempts to pass off as Durkon. He notes that someone doesn't just change within 90 seconds from forgiving him for not being able to save his life to having to be ordered to not drink all their blood.Belkar: Whatever happened to basic adventurer paranoia, though? It's like these people never had a ceiling come to life and try to smother them before!
- Quit Your Whining: In his own way, he does this to Roy when the latter is in a Heroic B.S.O.D. over Durkon's death.
- Real Men Wear Pink: He has ranks in gourmet cooking, he knows the score to "Meet Me in St. Louis" and his best friend is a small, white housecat.
- Restraining Bolt: The Mark of Justice. It works even better than Roy's threats of bodily harm. Keeps him locked down for a while, until he makes the mistake of killing the kobold oracle while in a village. It's been removed since then.
- Ring of Power: A Ring of Jumping +20; he puts it to very good use.Belkar: A magic item that can allow me to rain death from above on my enemies AND lets me reach stuff on the top shelf? Done.
- Rousing Speech: His Cruel to Be Kind one, however atypical its content is.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The one the Oracle gives him. He makes sure it happens the way he likes.
- Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Though this role falls most often to talking animals, he's snarky, he's non-human, and he's a psycho, so...
- Spanner in the Works: So far he's acting as this to The High Priest of Hel. Not only does Belkar not have any good memories with Durkon that the High Priest can exploit, but he's the only one who is actively suspicious of Durkon, due to being familiar with how Character Development works.
- Square Race, Round Class: Halfling Ranger/Barbarian? He makes it work...
- Stereotype Flip: "He's a halfling, he's supposed to be jolly... Why isn't he jolly?"
- Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred: Belkar succeeds at doing this to Miko, but his effort is stopped by a well-timed Scorching Ray.
- Stupid Evil: He starts out as this, but moves to true Chaotic Evil through a dream sequence with the spirit of Lord Shojo. In the early comics he literally is Stupid Evil: when his Wisdom is raised, he becomes nicer.
- Sympathy for the Devil: "Hurting people is the only thing I'm good at." Said after his Cruel to Be Kind moment.
- Team Chef: He has skill points in "Profession: Gourmet Chef", although he doesn't get to use his skills often since gourmet cuisine is hard to come by on the road and he won't use cheaper ingredients.
- Technical Pacifist: The Mark of Justice forces Belkar to be one, within towns at least. Not that he doesn't find several creative workarounds.
- Time for Plan B: Belkar has a tendency to play with this phrase; in one strip he said "Run like hell" has always struck him as plan A, and later he spends a series of strips announcing the letter of every new plan his teammates come up with.Belkar: Didn't we go through this already? We're on like plan Q.... And plan R starts to take form.
- Token Evil Teammate: Deconstructed. At first, Belkar's antics are Played for Laughs, but as time passes, they are shown to have consequences both in the world in general and in his relationship with his teammates. Although, this is slightly reconstructed when Roy temporarily dies and goes to Heaven. He talks with a deva about his decision to let Belkar to be part of his team. Roy says that while Belkar is a complete asshole, if it wasn't for Roy's leadership, he would have turned out far worse. He loses this exclusive status after Durkon rejoins the team after getting turned into a vampire.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Played with; as part of his "fake character development", Belkar tries to fake doing this on the advice of the illusion of Lord Shojo, who points out that if he doesn't at least pretend to have more going on that just being the one-dimensional Token Evil Teammate, then eventually his team are just going to get sick of him and abandon him to whatever unpleasant fate he brings upon himself.
- Troll: He claims to have taken the feat "Craft Disturbing Mental Image" and employs this feat because he finds it funny. He also trolled an already pretty screwed Miko Miyazaki into Sanity Slippage in order to make her lose her paladinhood. Which she finally lost without Belkar being involved.
- Unexplained Recovery: After he survives being thrown off a mountain, he plans to invoke this just to mess with Roy. The very next panel, however, contains a flashback explaining it to the reader.
- Unusual Euphemism: He spouts D&D-based euphemisms and innuendo regularly.Belkar: Hey, Sweet Thing, wanna hold my Rod of Lordly Might? If you press the right button, it might extend!note
- Vision Quest: As a result of his magically induced hallucination of Lord Shojo, Belkar learns to fake character growth.
- Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: Parodied in On the Origin of PCs. Belkar thinks he deserves a reward for the restraint he showed by not killing all the barmaids in a tavern brawl, and suggests that if humans don't want him to murder people, they should put up a sign saying, "Thank you for not killing more than five of us."Prison Guard: We don't want you to kill ANY of us!
Belkar: Now you're just being unreasonable!
- Weak-Willed: Low Wisdom and classes with a poor Will save means he's easily mind-controlled. Nale, Malack and the High Priest of Hel have taken advantage of it. Malack uses the exact term, although Durkon complains that it could describe half the party.
- Weapon of Choice: His daggers, as mentioned above.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Belkar assumes he will win his fight against Malack because he spouted the sentence "I have someone worth fighting for!" and guys who do it "always win for some weird reason". He then gets anticlimactically defeated in two panels.
- Your Days Are Numbered: It's initially implied, then outright stated by the Oracle that he'll take his last breath before the end of the year. The Giant is officially teasing the fans over this — strip #870 ends with Malack deciding to turn Belkar into a vampire, only for Durkon to show up with Mass Death Ward at the beginning of #871. Then, in #886, he appears to die to Xykon's Meteor Swarm, before it is revealed as an illusion. In #957, the High Priest of Hel uses his vampiric gaze to make him jump overboard, only for him to get snagged on the ship-mounted ballista. And in #996, he gets thrown out the Godsmoot temple's window over a vast chasm, which he survives thanks to a Feather Fall item he had purchased beforehand.
Durkon Allotrope Thundershield
"I stay 'ere because it's me duty. And bein' a dwarf is all about doin' yer duty, even if it makes ye miserable. ESPECIALLY if it makes ye miserable!"
- Ambiguously Brown: According to Burlew, Durkon's skin tone isn't meant to represent any particular group, he's simply just "not white."
- And I Must Scream: He becomes a prisoner in his own body after becoming a vampire and a spirit serving Hel takes over his undead corpse. He looks absolutely furious. And according to the High Priest of Hel, it's going to get worse once the spirit has absorbed all of Durkon's memories.
- And Then John Was a Zombie: He's shown to dislike the undead very strongly. During the events in Girard's dungeon, he is killed and reanimated as a vampire.
- Badass Beard: A bushy warrior beard is required for a traditional dwarf character.
- Bald of Awesome: Despite being rather touchy about it (he went bald in the dwarf equivalent of kindergarden), Durkon is bald and heroic.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: A few days after being cast into exile by his fellow dwarves, he screams "to Hel wit' all o' ye!". The High Priest even comments that it appears the multiverse did grant his wish.
- Berserk Button: He takes it rather badly when people make fun of theology. Like, say, worshiping hand puppets, or pretending to convert when handy.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Durkon has had two sins, possibly in his entire life. Once, on his worst day ever, he blasphemed Thor. Secondly, he slept with Hilgya Firehelm, a cleric of Loki. His blasphemy was used to create the High Priest of Hel's psychology, and he got her pregnant!
- Character Development: He was gruff and cynical before meeting Roy. It becomes a crucial plot point, as the vampire spirit controlling him is basically Durkon at his worst day, minus the Character Development.
- Church Militant: As a mid- to high-level cleric in 3.5e D&D, this is to be expected.
- Combat Medic: Standard-issue healbot, but also packs a big hammer and a pocket full of lightning spells.
- Dating Catwoman: Briefly with Hilgya, a Chaotic Evil cleric of Loki.
- Deadpan Snarker: Has become increasingly so following being turned into a vampire. Being trapped in your own body with only the manifestation of your worst day trying to destroy the world to speak with can do that to you.High Priest of Hel: That was awfully easy. This isn't some sort of trick, is it? A false memory?
Durkon: Och, if'n I could show ye stuff that dinnae happen, I'd've told ye that Roy's name was, like, Maurice or sumthin' on Day One.
High Priest of Hel: Hmm. True.
Durkon: Or showed ye Haley refusing payment while Belkar served soup to orphans. An' Elan did math in the background!
High Priest of Hel: OK, yes, fine. Point taken.
Durkon: "We need a team name! Let's call ourselves 'Tha Order o' tha Look-Out-Roy-Tha-Vampire's-Na-Really-Durkon'!"
- Demonic Possession: As a vampire it seemed like he was a case of Dark Is Not Evil, but in fact he is possessed by an evil bloodthirsty spirit that is merely posing as him; the real Durkon is a prisoner inside his own body.
- Disappeared Dad:
- His father is first implied in a flashback to have died when Durkon was at a very young age; his mom refers to him in the past tense. He was killed in an encounter with a troll before Durkon was born.
- Turns out to be one himself — to the child Hilgya Firehelm got pregnant with after their one-night-stand back on comic #82.
- Drop the Hammer: His standard weapon is a hammer and shield.
- Dump Stat: Charisma, it's implied. He's a dwarf, he's blunt, introverted, and not particularly personable, and his Turn Undead has a consistently poor success rate.
- Esoteric Happy Ending: Most would be rather depressed by the idea that they'll never return home again except when their corpse is taken there for burial, but Durkon is happy about it because it means he'd be buried at home with his ancestors and not somewhere else. It also means he'll be buried with honor, instead of dying in the belly of some random monster while out adventuring. Unfortunately, overly literal prophecies cheat.
- Exact Words: Durkon will return to his homelands posthumously. Now that he's been killed and raised as a vampire, it looks like he'll be making a trip home soon. After all, Kraagor's Gate is in the Dwarven Lands.
- Extreme Doormat: His mother taught him not to help people without permission lest he get in the way. After getting converted into a vampire, the vampire spirit and his comrades repeatedly mention his lack of assertiveness.
- Famous-Named Foreigner: Possibly an unintentional example on the author's part, but hailing from Dwarven lands does make him a foreigner, and as for Thundershield...
- Fantastic Racism: Shows this toward Malack after learning he is a vampire. To his credit, Durkon points out that even ignoring the undead issue, the individual is still a villain who can't be allowed to succeed.
- The Fettered: Believes in honor and obligations, no matter how hard they are. This has given him at least one example of Genre Blindness: in #865, he insists that the Linear Guild's new cleric cannot be Malack, as he knows that Malack hates Nale and wants to kill him for murdering Malack's children. The reality is that Malack has put aside his oath to do so in order to work with Nale on Tarquin's say-so. The fact Tarquin has promised to let Malack kill Nale after they're done didn't hurt.
- Flight: He gained access to the Wind Walk spell at some point during Don't Split the Party.
- Funetik Aksent: An extremely thick dwarven accent.
- Good Counterpart: To Hilgya Firehelm (chaotic evil cleric) and later Leeky Windstaff (hammy and tree-loving druid). Later on, Malack, a lawful evil vampire cleric. Nale also points out that the old Durkon is this to the new, vampiric Durkon.
- Good Shepherd: A lawful good and honest cleric. He himself is still this but the vampire controlling his body is most certainly not.
- Go Out with a Smile: Knowing, despite his death at the hands of Malack, he'll one day return home. Now that he's been reanimated all bets are off.
- Grumpy Bear: For a brief period (in On the Origins of PCs), though he grew out of it after meeting Roy.
- Guile Hero: Since he has been trapped by the High Priest of Hel, he has no way to brute force his way out. Instead he is trying to play subtle mind games to abuse the fact that High Priest can't understand his true nature in the hopes that the he will make a mistake when talking with his friends, thus outing himself as not being the real Durkon.
- Healing Hands: "Cure Light/Moderate/Serious Wounds!" And "Heal" of course.
- The Heart: The team reminisces about how he's helped each of them through difficult times in their lives with his support and compassion. They come to believe this is why Odin sent the prophecy that led to his banishment: so that they could have him to help them stop Xykon.
- Holding Back the Phlebotinum: While not having the raw firepower of V, he's easily the second most powerful of the group and like V he gets disabled, leveled-drained, powered down, misunderstood by Thor, or otherwise prevented from instantly solving whatever problems the group confronts for the sake of good storytelling. Lampshaded when he casts Control Weather while vampirized to get them out of a storm, prompting Belkar to claim that he can't possibly be Durkon, because he actually had a spell that could get them out of trouble.
- Home Sweet Home: He really wants to go home. Even if it must be posthumously.
- Honor Before Reason: The dwarves know that he's so lawful he won't attempt to return to the dwarven lands until sent for (i.e. never). It's downplayed in that while Miko knows he can be trusted to be unfailingly honest, he twists the truth a little to protect his friends.
- I Ate WHAT?!: Upon finding out Malak was a vampire, Durkon realizes the Bloodwort tea was a bit too literal.
- Immune to Drugs: It's one of the benefits of dwarfdom. Malack's Poison spell? "Tastes like me mum's crabapple cobbler!"
- Last Request: Before he dies, he asks of Malack that if his friendship was true and not just a trick, to spare his friends. Malack apparently honors this request, not giving the party away when his True Seeing spell pierces the illusion that concealed them.
- Locked Out of the Loop: He has no idea about the real reason he was sent away from the Dwarven lands.
- Luke Nounverber: "Thunder-Shield" sure fits a dwarf cleric of Thor.
- Magic Knight: As a D&D cleric, he wears armor and fights with a hammer but he can still cast spells.
- The Medic: In one early strip, the other party members visualise him as a walking medical kit.
- Milkman Conspiracy: Durkon is convinced that the trees everywhere are part of some giant conspiracy. So are all the other Dwarves.
- Misery Builds Character: "Bein' a dwarf is all aboot doin' yer duty, even if it makes ye miserable. Especially if it makes ye miserable."
- Moment of Weakness: His anger at being exiled without even being able to say goodbye to his mother or making sure she would be okay without him; coming from the person who said misery builds character, that is saying something. This anger is a driving force for the vampire that possessed him, as the vampire claims that its personality comes from the darkest memories in Durkon's mind and that his will to annihilate the Dwarven lands is motivated by that one moment where Durkon cursed them.
- Momma's Boy: What's been shown of Durkon while he was back in his homeland clearly implies he dearly loves and respects his uncomplaining mother caring for him. He became a cleric in the first place because his family couldn't afford to get one to cast a spell to heal his mother's crippled arm.
- Never Gets Drunk: Durkon loves his beer, but has never been drunk in the comic. In a New Year's Eve story, he and Belkar count down to midnight with 10 straight pints. Belkar kisses Vaarsuvius and passes out, but Durkon doesn't appear affected at all. In this universe, Dwarves have two livers. According to him, it's a dwarven custom to take a drink every time someone counts down. In the backstory, they have some ale every time ANYTHING happens. And it's so difficult for them to actually suffer negative consequences from their drinking that perishing from alcohol-related complications apparently counts as "dying in battle" for the purposes of getting into the afterlife.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye: He was exiled without the chance to say goodbye to his mother.
- Never Say That Again: Don't tell him that beer isn't important.
- Not That There's Anything Wrong with That:Durkon: I love me god Thor will all me heart — inna strictly heterosexual "buddies" kinda way. Not that there's anything wrong with the alternative.
- Odd Friendship: Chummy with Malack because they are both clerics in an adventuring party. This ends when he finds out he's a vampire that wants to seize Girard's Gate.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: A parody of the concept that plays some traits straight.Cleric of Loki: Can you tell me anything about him that differentiates him from every other dwarf?
- Poke the Poodle: Apparently, the worst thing Durkon has ever done is get justifiably angry at the leaders of his faith for throwing him out in the snow with no money and no time to say goodbye to his mother and say some mean things about them when no one else can hear.
- Poor Communication Kills: He was never told why he was exiled from Dwarf lands. As Roy said, he'd have probably went along with trying to avoid The Prophecy of his return bringing death and destruction upon all of his kin if he was just actually told of it.
- Prematurely Bald: Not explicitly stated, but evident with a little math based on the evidence — he's currently 55 years old, and says to Haley that he's been bald for "forty years", meaning he went bald roughly around 15 years of age. He almost never mentions it, but it's apparently a touchy subject. (And since he's a dwarf, that makes it the human equivalent of losing your hair in kindergarten.)
- Psychic Static: Durkon is attempting this against the High Priest of Hel possessing him by burying requested information in a deluge of context. Unfortunately, so far it's not quite working, though he get to make the High Priest watch a full 6 hours montage of Durkon getting food poisoning and having to relieve himself in the can.
- The Reliable One: Even a paranoid loon like Miko trusts him implicitly.
- Religion Is Magic: Comes standard with being a cleric in a D&D setting; he prays to regenerate his supply.
- The Resenter: Buried deep in his memories, he deeply resents the dwarves for exiling him. The High Priest claims this is why he, who is made from the darkness of his heart, is willing to go along with Hel's plan.
- Shock and Awe: "Thor's Lightning!"
- Sizeshifter: "Thor's Might!"
- Someone to Remember Him By: According to the first account of his father he heard, his mother discovered she was pregnant only after his father's death.
- Static Character: Lampshaded in "Be Prepared". Averted after his vampirization. Then the aversion gets inverted, as Durkon's still the same dwarf, just trapped in his own body by a dark spirit. But interacting with said spirit, a supernaturally static character, reveals the subtler ways Durkon's grown and changed over time.
- Straight Man: Shares the role with Roy. His steady-but-mostly-uncomplicated personality is mocked in an early strip with a mindflayer picturing his head as a bowl of mashed potatoes: filling, but bland.
- Tell Me About My Father: His mother didn't want to talk about it, so Durkon resorted to an Honorary Uncle. The accuracy of the tale is not clear.
- Token Religious Teammate: As is often the case for the cleric in a D&D party, Durkon is the only one in the Order taking religion and the will of the gods seriously... at least in the conventional sense. As for the others: Vaarsuvius pays lip service to the Elven Gods, but doesn't really do much else; Roy advocates proper respect to them, but admits to having a "if I leave them alone, they'll leave me alone" mentality on it; Haley is ready to convert on the spot if it is advantageous, though it's Played for Laughs; "Shoeless God of War" Belkar reveres only himself; and Elan is a very weird casenote .
- Tragic Monster: As of comic #878, Durkon was forcibly turned into a vampire by someone he considered a friend. Even more so as of #946. Durkon isn't even in control, the vampire servant of Hel is. And Durkon is both a prisoner in his own body and an unwilling accessory to its crimes, since he cannot resist it enough to prevent it from ransacking his memories.
- Turn Undead: His power as a cleric. He sometimes gets over-enthusiastic with it.
- Wall Master: With the "Meld into Stone" spell.
- Weapon of Choice: A warhammer, shield and cleric spells; likely Thor's influence.
- What Would X Do?:
- "What Would Thor Do?" is a question he asks himself frequently in the beginning. In practice, not as applicable as one might hope considering that Thor is a mighty god and he is a mid-level dwarf cleric.
- He has followed in the footsteps of Elan and Haley in the Order of the Stick, who also have asked "What Would Roy Do?", Durkon pondering it during his fight with Malack.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He has a deep fear of trees. Truly irrational in this case as he thinks they have a conspiracy of some kind and want to take over the world. He justifies this with his patron Thor striking them with lightning. Apparently, he shares this attitude with most (if not all) dwarves.
- Will Not Tell a Lie: Though he will bend the truth by using Exact Words.Durkon: I count "able to be picked by a rogue" as a pretty major defect, aye?
- Work Hard, Play Hard: According to the introduction to Book 5, this is the general dwarven idea of the afterlife. After a lifetime of duty and repression, once you get to Valhalla the fun breaks loose. Durkon plans to spend an entire century partying, then maybe take a nap.
- You Can't Go Home Again: A prophecy states that Durkon's return to his home would destroy the dwarven homelands. To keep this from happening, the higher-ups sent him off on a Snipe Hunt and told him not to return until they called for him. Which Durkon never does, because he's just that lawful. However, the higher-ups neglected to tell their successors about the prophecy. Durkon can now return whenever he wants, though the message telling him so was eaten by the Monster in the Darkness without realizing what it was. Though according to the Oracle, he will be returning. Posthumously. The funny thing is, when he found that out, he was actually happy to learn that his body would be returned home, presumably for an honorable burial. The whole situation becomes even darker than it already was when you realize that being said to return somewhere "posthumously" doesn't mean the first prophecy won't come true. There's also the fact that returning as a vampire can also count as posthumously. And now that it's been revealed that Durkon's under the control of the High Priest of Hel... it gets even worse. There is also the fact that the last Gate is in Dwarven Lands and the team's records with those Gates are rather poor.
- You Didn't Ask: The reason he didn't tell the High Priest that the key to the temple crumbles if taken by force. "Also, I hate ye an' I want ye to fail."