Characters: The Order of the Stick: The Order of the Stick
The Order of the Stick
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The Order of the Stick
Led by Roy Greenhilt, the Order is a group of six PCs
(plus a familiar and 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 pretty much all 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:
- Word of the Giant admits that 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... It can be often justified in-story in that disabling the spellcaster is a common, reasonable strategy, so it makes sense enemies want V out of the game. It's just that they sometimes succeed.
- 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 Saviours:
- 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 Counterparts: 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.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Why Vaarsuvius and Durkon are often given a Deus Exit Machina during plot-important fights.
- Line-of-Sight Name / Justified Title: 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: Inverted! Everybody has made some of the worst possible character class/ability/equipment choices (from the min-maxing point of view).
- Roy is a single-class fighter with a lot of points in Intelligence note . He also doesn't carry a single backup weapon, which is inexcusably negligent for a party's front-line fighter. Roy also has a high wisdom, which is why his Celestial counselor wonders why Roy didn't decide to be a cleric instead of a fighter. On the bright side, he likely gets quite a few extra Skill Points and a respectable Will Save. One assumes he got really good rolls and chose not to min-max.
- Belkar is a dual-wielding halfling ranger (halflings have a Strength penalty and a Dexterity bonus, so archery is a much better choice). The fact that Wisdom is his Dump Stat means that he can't cast any spells or use his scouting skills (which he hasn't put any points into anyway) worth a damn, and he multiclassed to barbarian (giving him an XP penalty). Finally, hardly anyone would argue with it from a story point of view, but a pampered housecat isn't the most useful animal companion out there. At least he finally got himself a dinosaur to "unleash the fury".
- Haley is a rogue specializing in longbow, and until she ganked Crystal's dagger she never carried a melee weapon. This negates the flanking bonuses that make rogues really shine in combat, and wastes a feat on martial weapon proficiency (longbow), when shortbow is already on the rogue weapon list. She also burnt another feat on Manyshot, which she hardly ever uses and which is generally regarded as useless anyway.
- Vaarsuvius is a wizard specializing in Evocation, with Necromancy and Conjuration as barred schools, meaning no Teleport or Summon Monster spells. For the non-D&D folks out there, this means V has pure combat spells and little else. This is probably deliberate, as Teleport would be a story-breaking spell if the elf could use it at will. And as V points out, at the time the choice for barred schools was made, Teleport wasn't a Conjuration spell, and it's hardly V's fault that the transition from D&D Version 3.0 to 3.5 changed the laws of physics and didn't let the evoker retrain.
- Durkon is a dwarven cleric. This isn't too egregious, but cleric isn't the best choice for dwarves because they have a Charisma penalty, (which is apparently Durkon's Dump Stat anyway) and Charisma modifies Turn Undead checks. What is a poor idea is his choice to focus more on his healing abilities than the medley of nasty powers his class could bring to the table. However, unlike the others, he's not locked into that decision and could bring his combat powers to bear if he wanted (he occasionally does).
- The only one who made something even close to a smart class build is Elan. Despite the jokes about bards being useless, he did it right mechanically. Maxed-out Charisma for spellcasting and Perform checks — check. Bard-friendly prestige class that improves his combat ability — check. Although his selection of spells could use some thought, and his low intelligence score means fewer skill points. However, since taking Dashing Swordsman lessons from Scoundrel, he uses his Charisma for combat rolls, to Nale's surprise.
- In general there's the fact that only the Bard took a Prestige Class. Wizards and Fighters especially tend towards prestige classes at least in 3.5 because there's little reason to stay put (especially in Roy's case where he could surely get some more use out of his great mental stats with the right Prestige Class abilities).
- Player Characters: Explicitly described as such, even though the distinction PCs/NPCs becomes a bit unclear when there are no actual players behind the protagonists.
- Player Party: See above.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: To quote On the Origin of PCs:
- 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, 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' actual gender.
- The Team:
- Talking Is a Free Action: A central concept in the comic.
- 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.
- 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:
Fighter Alignment: Beleaguered Good (according to the Adventure Game)
A 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
- Amazon Chaser: Played with. Immediately after realizing that Miko was female he started hiting 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: Has been able to take on foes despite being seriously outnumbered, 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.
- Bald Woman: While under the effect of the Girdle of Femininity/Masculinity.
- Berserk Button:
- 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. Unusual considering Roy's chosen class (fighter).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Chekhov's Skill: Roy learns to time his strikes so a caster's spellcasting fizzles. It comes in handy twice, 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.
- Deadpan Snarker: Roy's coping mechanism for the insanity he endures is a near-constant output of sarcasm.
- 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 assed 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 BSOD 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.
- 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".
- 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 defies all three of them. He isn't stuck as a woman because he removes the belt of gender bending within the arc (an hour tops in-universe), he doesn't act stereotypically feminine while wearing the belt and he doesn't prefer it to his original gender.
- Freud Was Right: Roy feels diminished without his sword.
- 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 being completely manipulated by the High Priest of Hel, as he is so desperate to believe Durkon is OK.
- Good Counterpart:
- 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. Nearly bites him in the ass when confronted by his Celestial Heaven counselor, when she points out that abandoning Elan nearly got him kicked out of Lawful Goodness, and his unconventional methods gave her no qualms about kicking him to Neutral Good.
- 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.
- Heroic BSOD: Has one (bordering on the Despair Event Horizon) when Durkon is killed and enthralled by Malack. Surprisingly, it's Belkar of all people who snaps him out of it, but Roy is still clearly shaken.
- 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 "Mister Happy": Roy calls it his "Trouser Titan" in "The Ultimate Sacrifice", while protesting Elan's idea to disguise him as a woman.
- Interspecies Romance: With Celia, a sylph.
- Jack of All Stats: Mentally. V outshines him in Intelligence, Durkon outshines him in Wisdom and Haley outshines him in streetsmarts. 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 but Dexterity, and even that stat shows no signs of being especially low.
- 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.
- Knight in Sour Armor: He finds himself filling this role more often than he'd like.
- 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, it's shown very clearly that he's the only thing holding them together.
- 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.
- 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.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Roy brushing off the deva in "Down to Earth".
- 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 elses' antics.
- Phrase Catcher: Subtle, but he has gotten "Stop talking!" from more than one pissed-off opponent, due to his incessant combat banter.
- 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.
- 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.
- Running Gag:
- He makes a reference to the Trouser Titan, and someone else says, "You call it the...?"
- "NOT THE POINT!"
- Secular Hero: This dialogue shows it:
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.
- 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".
- Super Strength: With the Belt of Giant Strength. In #951, Roy takes over holding a rope that two the Mechane's crew 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!"
- 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.
- 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 barely remember who he is. 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).
- Unwitting Pawn: To the High Priest of Hel
- 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 this 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.
"Gods, it's frustrating how Lawful you people are!" Race:
Rogue Alignment: Chaotic Greedy (according to the Adventure Game)
, Chaotic Good-ish (according to herself)
A 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.
- 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: Like everyone else in the Order of the Stick.
- Badass Normal: No magic but her bags of holding and a couple magic weapons.
- 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's averts 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: Haley has a "Latent Bisexuality" alter ego amongst the many fractions of her psyche. She kissed a girl once; more than once.
- 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.
Haley: Elan... I think I'm in love with y—
Durkon: Cure Critical Wounds!
- Chainmail Bikini: Haley buys some "leather armor" which is basically just a normal top and the trope is lampshaded.
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:
- 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 ambushed Crystal as she was in the shower, catching her without her weapons, armor, and protective jewelry, and killed her while she was stunned on the floor.
- 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 was afflicted with this for a while and several jokes were 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".
- 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 friend 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 maybe it's more of a case of only meeting women whose personalities clash with hers. She does recognize this trait of hers and tries to move beyond it by the 7th arc:
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 she'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.
- Flesh to Stone: Looks like she blew the saving throw.
- 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: "Picking Locks".
- Good Counterpart: To Sabine (fiendish Number Two) and Crystal (a rogue 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, and has an obsessive desire to polish it.
- Hate at First Sight: The flashback of her first encounter with Crystal strongly hints at this. And that it was reciprocated.
- Heroic BSOD: 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.
- 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: Elan mentions that she wanted to do it on top of a pile of gold coins.
- Ms. Fanservice: Her brief nude scenes reveal quite the rack.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 in Elan, in spite of her father's strenous objections.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: "SNEAK ATTACK — BITCH!"
- Time to Step Up, Commander: After Roy's death.
- Trick Arrow:
- 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:
Bard/Dashing Swordsman Alignment: Foolish Good (according to the Adventure Game)
A 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.
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.
- Distressed Dude: Happens often enough 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.
- Dumbass Has a Point: Happens a few times.
- 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 (they're getting better, though).
- 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?"
- 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 lampshaded 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.
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. Post-Empire of Blood, he decides to take on a "backup healer" role and picks up Cure Critical Wounds.
- 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.
- Insane Troll Logic: See Invisible Streaker below.
- 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.
- Leet Lingo: 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.
- Loose Lips: 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.
- 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!"
- Man Child: 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.
- 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".
- 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.
- Morality Pet: Acts as this towards Haley.
- Mr. Exposition: Most often through song, and with the addition of illusory magic to provide illustrations.
- Music for Courage: A bard skill. 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: See The Heart. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Puns: His Dashing Swordsman prestige class allows him to add his huge Charisma bonus to damage as long as he makes one of these with each attack.
- Quirky Bard: Elan's the prototype before taking a prestige class... and often afterwards as well.
- Reality Ensues:
- 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. Lampshaded by Belkar.
- 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.
- The Social Expert: He tries to be this... but most of his attempts backfire.
- Something That Begins with "Boring": Elan with Roy, while waiting in the dragon's cave.
- Super Window Jump / Soft Glass: His Dashing Swordsman Prestige Class gives him immunity against damage from shattered glass, so he's taken a liking to glass-breaking dramatism.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Weapon of Choice: A rapier.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Does this to V for disintegrating Kubota.
) 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:
Wizard (evoker) Alignment: Arrogant Neutral (according to the Adventure Game)
An intelligent, if condescending
, elf wizard
of undefined gender
. 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 received a lot of attention during a rather controversial semi-solo arc that resulted in even more alignment confusion and much Character Development
- Ambiguous Gender: Word of the Giant is that no-one is sure what V's gender is, not even him. If anyone (including Rich himself) says it, they should be assumed to be guessing.
- 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. Approached at a convention on the subject, Word of the Giant was that Vaarsuvius' sexual orientation is not going to be revealed prior to V's gender.
- A God Am I: The IFCC warn V that the Soul-Spice's side effects include "feelings of omnipotence" and indeed (s)he soon believes that (s)he 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.
- And I Must Scream: When the Fiends call in their deal, Vaarsuvius' 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: V, despite hating Belkar, has come close to this due to her/his easily-offended personality, especially after making a Deal with a Devil, a Demon, and a Daemon, actually to save her/his family.
- The Atoner: After the incident with the fiends and Xykon. And again, after learning that the Familicide spell (s)he used to kill the black dragons has wiped out the Draketooths, and anyone related to them.
- Badass: Easily the most powerful member of the Order, at least as long as s/he has spells remaining.
- Badass Boast: Vaarsuvius turns a statement of fact into one of these when fighting Laurin:
I can counter every spell you have left, so why don't you save yourself the pain and— Vaarsuvius:
I have in excess of twenty-five spells remaining. Not counting cantrips
- Badass Bookworm: Basically the definition of a wizard. 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 invisiblity spell.
- Baleful Polymorph: Spent 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.
- 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.
- Broken Pedestal: Vaarsuvius breaks Elan's pedestal when V casually disregards Therkla's death. According to Word of the Giant, Elan could have gotten over V's disintegrating of Kubota, but the attitude to Therkla was a step too far.
- 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.
- Byronic Hero: (S)he 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 or 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 (s)he became insufferable and needed hir 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.
- Crippling Overspecialization: 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.
- Deadpan Snarker: Only second to Roy in the snark, and even more deadpan.
- 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 ex Machina: Dark!V wraps up several story conundrums with a snap of her/his fingers, such as completing the relocation of Azure City refugees with Mass Teleportation and even with his normal power he offed the Bad Guy of the Week, just to move the story ahead. It's played for laughs in regards to reuniting the Order as his teammates found mundane solutions just as he was about to use his 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. Vaarsuvius' 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 hamburger and a roast dinner.
- Elfeminate: The main reason for the ambiguous gender.
- Eureka Moment: During her/his fight with Zz'dtri at the Empire Arena.
How in the infinite planes of existence am I supposed to be capable of defeating a wizard who has tailored not just her/his daily spells but her/his 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; though V isn't affected apart from appearances.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: (S)he started out with hir 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 hir realizing that absolute power is not all it's cracked up to be, as well as letting go of hir 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.
- 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 (s)he 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 very less adept at taking it.
- 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.
- Guile Hero: While V has no problem blasting minor problems into oblivion, (s)he is usually not in position to solve problems with main force, and must rely on hir wits and intelligence instead, which (s)he 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 (s)he believes that they had a good relationship, but Blackwing points out the truth. V has been away from hir family for six years learning arcane magic, and even when the elf was home, V was emotionally absent. This is where V realizes that (s)he has been a terrible mate and does not contest the divorce.
- Hearing Voices: During the soul splice, Vaarsuvius' 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 BSOD:
- 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.
- 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 his/her 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 hirself back when a caravan comes under attack so as to repress his/her more undesirable personality traits, namely hir 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.
- Lampshaded when pteranadon-mounted soldiers attack V, Haley and Elan; (s)he just chain-lightnings the entire squadron.
Haley: Oh, yeah. Wizard.
- 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 hir soul after s/he died. The IFCC calmly tell V that was hir 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. S/he 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.
- Inferiority Superiority Complex: V believes hirself 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 him/her just V. Belkar sometimes calls him/her Ears. Inkyrius calls him/her Suvie.
- Insufferable Genius: Yes, V is the most powerful member of the Order by a large margin. That doesn't mean (s)he should bring it up all the time.
- 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' character arc, as the elf refuses any potential loopholes, justifications, or excuses for the act in question and insists that the responsibility is theirs 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 hir 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.
- Kick the Morality Pet: See Jerkass, above.
- 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 BSOD, 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. (S)he does eventually come around to recognizing it but too late to save hir marriage or the quest for Girard's Gate.
- 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 s/he doesn't refer to this way are Belkar (probably reflecting hir 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:
- The incident in which Belkar kissed V whilst drunk must only ever be referred to as "The Event".
- The two days spent in the Semi-Elemental Plane of Ranch Dressing after being sent there by Zz'dtri is a story Vaarsuvius would much rather have go untold. Especially in the books.
- 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.
- Belkar took advantage of this once to play a prank on V.
- V also does it in the Draketooth temple after calming down and awaiting doom at the hands of what the elf thinks is a Revenant.
- 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. However... 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 BSOD. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 he comes down from the power high of the Soul-Splice he looks back in horror at what he's done. He shuts down when he realizes 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 Breaking 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 her/his 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' 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 her/his 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 his/her intelligence, frequently realizes his/her mistake immediately after (s)he makes 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).
- 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: S/he 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 his/her soul and getting help from his/her friends, s/he chose the former.
- Pronoun Trouble: For everybody else because of V's ambigious gender.
- Real Men Wear Pink: If V is a male: his magical aura is always pink and he wears his hair in a ponytail from the end of the previous arc. Also, his soul splice background is a pink triangle, and it causes his speech bubbles to become black with pink lettering and borders.
- "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.
- 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?"
- Sophisticated as Hell: When V uses strong words, they're usually coated in this.
- Spock Speak: V's normal way of speaking is formal and exact.
- Squishy Wizard: As per standard for D&D wizards.
- 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 (up until then: see below)... and definitely meant, in "Lack of Foresight".
- The Smart Guy: A powerful mage, and magic requires high intelligence.
- The Spock: Most of the time. Although V has experienced enough emotional turmoil lately to lose cool at critical moments.
- 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.
- Troubled Fetal Position: After finding out that (s)he 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, (s)he 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 he lost the Soul Spice and didn't defeat Xykon, he rescued O-Chul and rattled the Lich's cage.
- Wall of Blather: Early on. It puts a bunch of goblins (as well as Belkar and Elan) to sleep.
- Weapon of Choice: Spells. 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 his/her 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. Trying to break the habit in the latest 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 enenmy, buff your allies.
"I AM A SEXY SHOELESS GOD OF WAR!" Race:
Ranger/Barbarian Alignment: Selfish Evil (according to the Adventure Game)
AKA "The Belkster" and "Death's Li'l Helper." 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.
- Badass Normal: Although as a ranger, he should be able to cast spells... if he didn't have the wisdom score of a lemming.note
Belkar: Hey, lemmings are cute.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Belkar hoped to push Miko over the edge and make her fall. He succeeded, but she ended 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-fed 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.
- 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, he's the only one who has serious doubts about Durkon not being Durkon anymore after vampirization but so far, no-one's taking notice.
- 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.
- 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.
- After reducing Crystal to 1 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.
- 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). Early on in the story Roy expresses a fear that Belkar could take down the rest of the Order if he chose to, but if that ever was the case it certainly isn't any more. (In the scenario Roy was picturing, the rest of the Order was asleep.)
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: He gains a huge dose of his after his Character Development and learns to fight with the rest of his team instead of being a psychotic kill-happy idiot.
- 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
- 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: Unexpectedly, this trope 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.
- Failed a Spot Check: All the time. He's almost as bad as Elan.
- Fantastic Racism: Subverted regarding Vampire! Durkon / the High Priest. 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 Empahy but he doesn't use his skills much. However, he does get an Allosaurus on his side.
- Fragile Speedster: 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.
- 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, reminding 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."
) ...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 blood lust 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 Durkula is also faking Hidden Depths as well, and calls him out on it.
- Ironically, his faking of Hidden Depths has turned into actual Character Development, to Belkar's own surprise.
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.
- 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 Durkula.
- Hobbits: He averts every expectation of the race.
Belkar: I'm not even pulling this rope taut.
- Ho Yay / Foe Yay
- He gets the tingles when Roy goes all Badass.
- See also New Year's Eve (if Vaarsuvius is male). Further, the fourth book includes a Cast Page with lines indicating the relationships between the characters. According to this Belkar wants to "shtup" V, which means exactly what you think it does.
- Hypocritical Humor: "What kind of idiot could screw up something as simple as protecting the casters?" Belkar's kind of idiot, that's who.
- Informed Ability / Gameplay and Story Segregation: He's stated to have an abysmal Wisdom score, and can't cast Ranger spells as a consequence. That said, he's pretty cunning and perceptive even if he sucks at tracking, and has twice been the only one to notice that there was an imposter in the party.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Halfling: He is successful at seducing human women (with obviously low standards) from times to times.
- 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...
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 10% 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."
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: His tactic of holding Miko back. He didn't quite think it through; while Raise Dead is magically easy for Durkon, it is not economically feasable for the party just for shits and giggles.
- 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.
- The Nicknamer: Belkar loves to give ludicrous (but creative) nicknames to about everyone or everything (including himself), but especially for Durkon.
- Nominal Hero: See Anti-Hero, above.
- 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 animals. While he'd gladly leave his teammates out to dry, he won't do the same to an animal he's befriended.
- 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."
- Obnoxious Snarker: Even his party members, snarkers themselves, are annoyed by him.
- 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.
- 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.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Yet another way he will screw with people's minds.
- "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)
Roy: OK, now, I know we're doomed. Belkar is acting like a ranger.
- Pet the Dog:
- He once killed an assassin that wanted 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.
- 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.
- 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: About all the 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.
- Quit Your Whining: In his own way, he does this to Roy when the latter is in a Heroic BSOD 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. Kept him locked down for a while, until he made the mistake of killing the kobold oracle while in a village. It's been removed.
- Ring of Power: A Ring of Jumping +20; he puts it to very good use.
- 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...
- 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- Troll: See Mind Screw above. He does it 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.
- Unusual Euphemisms: 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: 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. And 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.
"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!" Race:
Cleric Alignment: Lawful Bland (according to the Adventure Game)
A dutiful dwarf cleric of Thor, and Roy's oldest friend. Sent away from his homeland by higher-ups, he was slow to adapt to human society, but fits in rather well now. Very pragmatic.
- 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 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. Unfortunately...
- Badass: As a mid- to high-level cleric in 3.5e D&D, this is to be expected.
- Badass Beard: Required for a dwarf.
- Bald of Awesome: Despite being rather touchy about it (he went bald in the dwarf equivalent of kindergarden), Durkon is bald and heroic. Until recently, anyway.
- Berserk Button: He takes it rather badly when people make fun of theology. Like, say, worshiping hand puppets, or pretending to convert when handy.
- The Big Guy: When he uses "Thor's Might" to grow to Large size.
- 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.
- 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.
- Drop the Hammer: His standard weapon is a hammer and shield.
- Disappeared Dad: Implied in a flashback to have died when Durkon was at a very young age; his mom refers to him in the past tense.
- 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.
- 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, though.
- 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.
Belkar: Wait, he can pronounce "stratosphere" but not "the"?
- It's contagious.
Vaarsuvius: And yet I see no reason why I still need ye. You.
- And persistent.
Roy: You do know that you don't need to transcribe your accent?
Durkon: Transcribe my what, now?
Roy: Never mind.
- 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.
- Healing Hands: "Cure Light/Moderate/Serious Wounds!"
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- Odd Friendship: With Malack, until he finds out he's a vampire that wants to seize Girard's Gate.
- 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. It doesn't seem to be working, not yet at least.
- Revive Kills Zombie: Uses this to great effect against Malack.
- The Reliable One: Even a paranoid loon like Miko trusts him implicitly.
- Religion is Magic: Comes standard with being a cleric.
- Shock and Awe: "Thor's Lightning!"
- Sizeshifter: "Thor's Might!"
- Static Character: Lampshaded in "Be Prepared". Averted after his vampirization.
- Straight Man: Shares the role with Roy.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
"I prefer to think of myself as a super-advanced flying stealth dinosaur."
Vaarsuvius's raven familiar. V ignored Blackwing for years, and in fact never even named him — it was Haley who gave the bird its less-than-original moniker. For most of the comic's run, Blackwing just disappears until V remembers needing him, but now V is trying to make up for the years of neglect
, while Blackwing acts as the elf's much-needed conscience.
- Adorkable: Half his appeal is just how much of a dork he is. When V informs him that her back-up plan for protecting The Mechane is polymorphing him into a gigantic Roc, he's torn between outrage and giddy anticipation. When V confirms s/he will not sit on Blackwing's shoulder and pretend to be his familiar, he decides on outrage.
- And I Must Scream: Blackwing never made a deal with the Fiends, but his soul is still connected to Vaarsuvius'. As such, he's dragged down to hell along with Vaarsuvius when the Fiends call in their deal.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: He is still a raven, after all, and tends to fixate on shiny objects at inopportune times. Also, Blackwing's first reaction to V being turned into a lizard is to try to eat him/her.
Blackwing: Wait a second, is that a bauble? I could use a shiny new bauble.
- Badass: Doesn't have the forward attacking power of Bloodfeast or even Mr. Scruffy, but utilizes his great maneuverability to stay alive physically while gathering useful information by engaging in banter with his opponents. No other member of the order is as good at it as he is.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Early in the comic he only appears in order to be involved in jokes about arcane casters neglecting or abusing their familiars. Then O-Chul and Vaarsuvius need someone who can fly as part of their plan to destroy Xykon's phylactery, and he gets a promotion to one of the main cast.
- The Conscience: To Vaarsuvius. He helps the elf hold their temper and calls him/her out on his/her shit.
- Dark Is Not Evil: An aversion of Creepy Crows, he may be a black bird, but he's definitely one of the good guys.
- Deadpan Snarker: He's obviously taking hints from his wizard.
- Disembodied Eyebrows: Blackwing has the same range of eyebrow expressions as other characters, but being quite small those brows appear above his head.
- Drama Queen: Sometimes.
Vaarsuvius: You are not injured. You have a slight smudge of dirt on three of your feathers.
Blackwing: LO, THE ICY TALONS OF DEATH APPROACH!
- Familiar: Ignored for hundreds of strips, until he helped almost save the world, at which point he became a full-fledged character.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: As the above quote shows, he's proud of his heritage.
- Feather Fingers: Although he doesn't manipulate anything with his wings, he often gestures with them (even while flying), most commonly to "raise a finger" or point at someone.
- Fire-Forged Friends: His relationship with Vaarsuvius becomes this at the end of the "Don't Split the Party" arc.
- Flight: He's a bird. Although strangely, he suffers from airsickness while on an airship, which puzzles Vaarsuvius.
- Good Counterpart: To Qarr because Qarr is a treacherous familar while he himself is loyal.
- Minor Injury Overreaction: A little while after being blasted with... whatever psionic power Laurin used on him, he later reacts that way. See the quote under Drama Queen.
- Morality Pet: Offers guidance to Vaarsuvius to try and avoid a repeat of past transgressions. It must be effective on some level, as Qarr's immediate priority on crossing paths with the Order again is to try and get Blackwing out of the way.
- Non-Human Sidekick: A raven for an elf.
- Not Now, Kiddo: V doing it to Blackwing. Turns out that elf is Zz'dtri in disguise, and he ambushes them shortly thereafter.
Blackwing: Hey, was that elf glaring at you?
Vaarsuvius: Now is not the time.
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Played with; the rest of the party doesn't remember him, so they think V is casting an illusion of a raven.
- Parrot Pet Position: Starting with book 5, since he now longer disappears when not needed, he is frequently riding on V's shoulder.
- Psychic Link: With Vaarsuvius; it's part of the familiar thing.
- Remember the New Guy:
- Played with. The rest of the Stick members forgot V ever had a familiar to begin with because of their neglect, including Haley, who named him Blackwing in the first place. This leads to them thinking V has an illusion on their shoulder, infuriating the elf to no end.
Blackwing: Now that you feel my pain, the healing can begin.
- Strip #943 reveals that Haley is aware of Blackwing. Elan not so much.
Haley: I'm the one who named you! I was just busting V's chops before.
- Sarcastic Devotee: Since they mended their differences, he's a loyal familiar for his wizard, but never shy from calling out the elf's mistakes.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: "Screw THAT! You're on your own, mammal!"
- So Proud of You: To V in "No Running, No Hiding". V tolerates it, though still feels too guilty to deserve praise.
- Squee: Is really excited about Vaarsuvius and Laurin fighting.
Ooooooo! Caster fight! Caster fight! Vaarsuvius:
Shush. Blackwing: (casterfight!)
- Talking Animal: A trait for raven familiars, though before he refused to talk in anything but his native raven given V's mistreatment of him, and therefore only communicated in caws and through V's empathic link.
Vaarsuvius: I thought you said that speaking in Common was demeaning!
Blackwing: No, I said that speaking to you in Common was demeaning. Try not to remind me why.
- Typical Cartoon Animal Colors: Raven with yellow beak and feet.
An ordinary white cat, at first Lord Shojo's pampered pet. He is then adopted by Belkar and becomes his animal companion.
- Art Evolution: The cat originally had black "stick figure" legs like other animals; only later (after the fall of Azure City) did the legs get depicted as white lines.
- Berserk Button: Just as threatening Mr. Scruffy will set off Belkar, threatening Belkar will set off Mr. Scruffy. If you're lucky, you might be able to keep your intestines.
- Cats Are Mean: Averted. He's usually sweet... unless you threaten Belkar.
- Fluffy the Terrible: His name isn't exactly terrifying, but he's more than capable of disembowelling someone in one attack.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Hisses at Durkon; it's unclear whether this is because he's now a vampire or because he previously fed off Belkar. He's perfectly OK with Belkar's evilness.
- Formally Named Pet: Mister.
- Good Counterpart: To Sir Scraggly.
- Head Pet: To Yukyuk, while the latter is dominated.
- The Hedonist: He doesn't want much from life, as his idea of a perfect world is to simply have his tummy endlessly stroked by Lord Shojo and to be fed an infinite supply of fishes by Belkar. In short, he's a cat.
- Killer Rabbit: Proved in "The Duel Everyone's Been Waiting For", and justified by D&D 3.5 rules. All successful attacks deal at least one point of damage, and cats get up to three a round. An EL1 encounter of four stray cats can easily wipe out most 1st level adventurers (with actual class levels!) in a single round, especially if the cats use their insane racial stealth bonuses to launch a surprise attack. This is why 1st level commoners don't walk down alleyways at night. That's dangerous enough on its own, but Mr. Scruffy in particular is the animal companion to a high-level ranger, making him even deadlier.
- Loyal Animal Companion: Belkar's ranger animal companion.
- Morality Pet: For Belkar... though he's still Chaotic Evil, only a little bit less so.
- Right-Hand Cat: To Lord Shojo, and then Belkar.
- Super Strength: Briefly, when the belt of Giant Strength fell on him.
- Team Pet: Because Belkar adopted him, he is this for the Order.
- Timmy in a Well: With Durkon, in "The Papers Chase".
- Took a Level in Badass: Went from a pampered, probably overweight (given what Lord Shojo counts as "table scraps") pet to the lean (after weeks of living on rice and the occasional salted fish), deadly dangerous animal companion of a ranger. Just contrast his original reaction to his old master getting killed (to flee in panic, a natural reflex) with his fierce attacks in response to anyone threatening or hurting Belkar. The stat bonuses he got for becoming an animal companion certainly helped.
Bloodfeast the Extreme-inator
Bloodfeast the Extreme-inator
, seized from the Empire of Blood's army.
High Priest of Hel
"Service is my sole purpose, my lady." Race:
Vampire (spirit controlling a dead dwarf) Gender:
Unknown (acts male) Class:
Cleric Alignment: Lawful Evil
A spirit sent by the goddess Hel to control Durkon's corpse as a vampire. It has access to all of Durkon's memories, and is fooling the Order into believing Durkon is just a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire
- And I Must Scream: In "It's What's Inside That Counts", it's revealed that Durkon's spirit is trapped helplessly inside his vamped body, and something else entirely is in control.
- Animorphism: As a vampire, he can take some animal alternate forms. The bat form was already witnessed.
- Body Snatcher: He can possess someone's body and force it to do his bidding.
- Came Back Strong: Uses his newfound vampiric Super Strength to effortlessly defeat two members of the Linear Guild with a Simple Staff, and to snap Zz'dtri's neck one-handed.
- Came Back Wrong: Not only is he a vampire, but he was purposely kept under a Thrall effect for a number of strips. After being freed, he also shows a far more ruthless personality, though he still considers the rest of the Order his True Companions... or so he claims. As of #946: Vampire!Durkon has been revealed to be a creation of Hel overpowering the old Durkon, and, as her hand in the world, is intent on "ruining the world" and Thor. Wrong, indeed.
- Combat Medic: He has a slew of deadly spells while retaining some of Durkon's healing powers.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: He's got access to Durkon's memories and uses them a lot more effectively than Durkon does. Using his knowledge of clerical magic, he's figured out how to make Thor stop a storm Thor had sent to: By casting Control Weather, Thor will either have to allow him to stop the storm (a feat that would normally be reserved for Thor's priests, since weather is part of his domain) or break a standing truce between the gods, which will allow Hel to back out of her end of the truce, withholding clerical magic that would stop diseases, cure poisons, or resurrect the dishonored dead.
- Dark Is Evil: As of #946, Vampire!Durkon is proven to be really in control, and he plans to commit a lot of brutal, senseless murder in his goddess's name. He's only pretending to be Affably Evil.
- Daywalking Vampire: Thanks to Malack's Protection from Daylight spell. He still has charges remaining in the staff he obtained from Malack, and later learns to cast it himself,
- Demonic Possession: The dominant personality seems to be a spirit native to Hel's divine realm.
- The Dragon: For Hel in her scheme to destroy the Dwarven lands and get revenge on Thor.
- Evil All Along: For a while he was written as if he was actually the real Durkon, just vampirised. Then The Reveal comes round that he is actually not Durkon at all, but an evil entity controlling his body and pretending to be him.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Whilst looking over Durkon's childhood memories of love, affection, and admiration, the vampire can only express a desire to "yarf." Somewhat justified: it is comprised of negative material energy.
- Face Monster Turn: Subverted. The monster is its own beast entirely, with Durkon himself not affected besides being in an And I Must Scream. It is simply allowing the Order to believe this is not the case.
- Faux Affably Evil: Thanks to its access to Durkon's memories, the spirit pretends to be the same old lovable Durkon, except with an unfortunate forced alignment change, when in reality, the spirit is a malign creature with no loyalty to the Order, and plotting to carry out great evil.
- Flight: Thanks to his bat shape (and he may still have access to Wind Walk).
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: After being freed from Malack, he affects this behavior around the Order. He claims he's evil, but not more so than Belkar, and is thus still helping the Order save the world. As of #946 we find out it's a façade, and he's no longer Durkon at all.
- Healing Hands: Inverted, since all vampire clerics channel negative energy. He can still heal, but they won't be on-the-spot conversions whenever he wants.
- Healing Factor: He has a vampire's fast healing powers, so he doesn't need to spend healing spells on himself anymore. Notably, in the strip where Belkar shanks him in the chin, it's regenerated before the end.
- High Priest: Of Hel, though this also means he's most likely the only priest of Hel, and the amount to which it extends as a position is unknown.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: He kills Zz'dtri by breaking his neck after he realizes that the Order of the Stick will be more helpful towards him in reaching the dwarvern homelands. Since Zz'dtri enjoyed turning people into stone and was willing to kill his own comrade to save his own skin....
- Made of Evil: He is, by his own admission, composed entirely of negative energy.
- Magic Staff: He keeps Malack's, after the latter gets smoked by Nale and Zz'dtri. He uses it as a melee weapon.
- The Medic: Since vampire clerics channel negative energy, it's going to be a bit harder for him to heal his companions without ahead-of-time preparation.
- The Mole: For Hel, in the Order of the Stick.
- Morphic Resonance: Even when transformed into a bat, he keeps his beard.
- No Name Given: He doesn't have an actual name, just his title.
- Not Himself: The most reliable way to see that this is not Durkon, even a corrupt Durkon, but rather something else entirely is that he has absolutely none of Durkon's Funetik Aksent, and sometimes slips in moments of high stress.
- Oh Crap: His reaction to finding out Thor is onto him.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Occasionally slips up on Durkon's "ridiculous" accent, but no characters have shown to realize this but himself.
- Our Vampires Are Different: He is a dark spirit, keeping the soul of the real Durkon chained inside his own mind.
- Outof Character Alert: Durkon would not have the Weather Control spell prepared, and this adds fuel to Belkar's fire that the vampire is not him.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: He's the High Priest of Hel... because he's the only priest of Hel.
- Paint It Black: Upon being vampirized by Malack, beyond a vampire's complexion his armor turns quite dark and his beard gray.
- Palette Swap: When talking to Durkon inside their shared mind, he appears as a monochrome version of the dwarf.
- Psychic-Assisted Suicide: He uses his vampiric gaze to make Belkar jump off the Mechane.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: His eyes turn red when he reawakens as a vampire.
- Reforged into a Minion: After Malack defeats him, he makes Durkon into a vampire thrall. As it turns out, he's actually Hel's minion.
- Scars Are Forever: It looks like his vampiric Healing Factor won't do anything about the bite marks that killed Durkon.
- Simple Staff: He uses Malack's staff instead of Durkon's warhammer and shield.
- Tastes Like Diabetes: The Priest's reaction to Durkon's childhood memories with his mother.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: Just after being vampirised — since he's effectively a newborn person in an adult's body — he has to be reminded not to always talk at full volume, blunders into full sunlight and doesn't realize that the "sorry, your Gate is in another pyramid" message is no longer relevant when the Gate is blown up... in the pyramid they just left. He gets better after Malack is killed and he's released from his thrall.
- Turn Undead: As a vampire cleric, it's likely this effect will now bolster/rebuke/command undead instead.
- Undying Loyalty: Nope. The newly raised Durkon is his own beast entirely. He is simply pretending to be the old Durkon so that the order will accept him, allowing him to claim the gate for Hel. However, played straight with his goddess thus far.
- Ungrateful Bastard: After he is freed by Nale and Zz'dtri, he attacks the former and kills the latter.
- Walking Spoiler: On two levels. First, the very fact that Durkon is a vampire is a major spoiler for late in Book 5, Blood Runs in the Family. Second is the fact that this being is not Durkon, but is commandeering his corpse as a vampire with him stuck in an And I Must Scream situation.
- Weapon of Choice: Malack's staff.