While mileage varies on whether the first 120 strips (Dungeon Crawlin' Fools) are considered 100% canon, due to Rich Burlew writing them before he realized how long the series would last and how much emphasis would have to be placed on development and backstory, some fans take issue with how Redcloak's characterization apparently alternates between passive lackey (DCF) and competent evil champion of his maligned species and his vindictive faith (before and after DCF, but not during). However, as this comment recently pointed out: "The events at the end of Start of Darkness so badly shook up Recloak as to make him mentally subservient to Xykon. Redcloak murdering his brother in cold blood AND having Xykon rub his face in it shattered his worldview to such a degree that he regressed into a Mister Smithers-like lackey role while he attempted to process what he did. Only when Xykon was defeated the first time and when he got in charge of the hobgoblins did he start to come out of his shell and act like he did before."
Redcloak's lost eye gives several.
In this comic, Redcloak is really talking to his brother, Right-Eye.
Which also explains Tuskiko's insult of "Wrong-eye", as she was told by Xykon that it would annoy him.
The kicker? When Blackwing drops the phylactery, it bounces off a statue of Redcloak, on its right eye.
Ever wonder why all ninjas from Azure City wears a uniform with a blue or purple shade? Aside from the obvious being that everyone from that city wears clothes with such shades of color, their government is a lawful good society right? Well since ninjas are quite often dressed in black, the unique shade of color worn by the Azure city ninjas show affiliation with the city. Otherwise anyone that might get their spot check and see these guys would probably try to get them killed by anyone who can fight who's nearby. Honestly what person would actually trust someone in clothes that completely cover their body, the unique shade means they aren't supposed to be the enemy, and using color to show affiliation is extremely common pretty much everywhere. Even the Empire of Blood's "Death Squad" ninjas don't dress in pitch black clothing, they wear shades of color that are unique to them. Also wearing shades of blue and purple mix in really well with the background in Azure city. It's also accurate to real life ninjas.
Elan and Nale are meant to be evil twin counterparts:
Elan's a Bard, while Nale's a fighter/rogue/sorceror hybrid, (basically a less optimized bard). So far so good. Nale's specialises in Enchantment, mind-control spells, which bards can also cast, but don't rely on exclusively. With a few exceptions (the healing spells he's picked up since leaving the Azure Fleet behind, one use of mending, one use of lesser confusion,) almost all Elan's spells come from the other school bards rely heavily on — Illusion, and suddenly the "Evil opposites" aspect of Elan & Nale's relationship gets deeper.
Furthermore, the brother's choice of spell schools reflect their alignments; most of the applications for illusion spells involve deceiving others, a behaviour associated with the chaotic alignments, and Elan is Chaotic Good. Enchantment, meanwhile, focuses on controlling the minds of others and robbing them of free will, a behaviour associated with Nale's alignment, Lawful Evil.
Nale's plans require a certain level of brilliance to even conceive of them, but as Elan calls the multiclassing example above, are needlessly complicated. In contrast, Elan's as sharp as a sack of wet mice, but he's also usually correct about the storyline. Nale has high Intelligence and low Wisdom, while Elan has the reverse.
On a related note: Zz'dtri's back. But why is his hair short? Well, we all know Nale has deliberately set up his team to be The Psycho Rangers to the Order. So obviously, he had Zz'dtri cut his hair just so that it would be opposite to V's now longer hair. Now that's sticking to a theme!
Elan's slowly been leaning towards Lawfulness thanks to the influence of Lawful types like Roy and Hinjo. When Nale reappears in Empire of Blood arc, he starts becoming more and more Chaotic, possibly due to the influence of Sabine and Thog.
Z's Parody Retcon actually makes a lot of sense. Yeah, like Drizzt, he's a dark elf who wields twin scimitars and presents himself as a Defector from Decadence, but he's different in several respects. Unlike Drizzt, who is a Ranger and fights with his scimitars, Z is basically a Squishy Wizard (albeit slightly more athletic than V), and only uses his weapons for channeling spells. There's also the fact that Z is a typical dark elf and not a Defector from Decadence. Thus, it couldn't have been too hard to prove he was a parody rather than a plagiarism.
It's probably no coincidence that the people of Azure City have blue hair. Azure City is to some degree a parody of the Far East civilizations found in tabletop games that involve a very cursory knowledge of Japan or China and tend to incorporate whatever the creator thinks is cool. Well, in such circumstances, anime is more than likely one source of knowledge, and a signature/stereotypical anime trope is You Gotta Have Blue Hair.
According to Races of the Dragon, a Kobold's favorite toiletry is Bitterleaf oil.
Vaarsuvius (and O-Chul) manage to hoist Xykon with his own petard; Xykon points out to V that power can take many forms...including something as simple as a class feature or a fairly low-level spell...
When Xykon punished Redclock by not letting him recover his eye is a bad punishment in it of itself, but it's a lot worse when you read Start of Darkness.
Regarding this famous Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, note Roy's comment about what class his brother might have taken. Maybe that's a reason why he puts up with Cloud Cuckoo Lander Elan. Not to mention how Elan canonically sees Roy as a big brother figure (as a replacement for Nale).
Spoiler heavy: after Miko's death, she asks if she can visit her Paladin mount in the afterlife, since she no longer qualifies for the Lawful Good one. This takes on a whole new meaning when you realise her mount was most likely her only real friend on the world, as everyone else finds her too crazy or insufferable to get along with. Alas, Poor Scrappy indeed.
Tarquin and Tarquin's buddy Malack are counterparts to Xykon and Redclack. In both groups, the first is a goofy Evil Overlord and the second is their Lawful Evil cleric partner who tends to facepalm at their goofiness. Rich expected Tarquin and Malack to get the Draco in Leather Pants treatment and was doing a deliberate Bait the Dog. With Tarquin and Malack, it's like he took Xykon and Redcloak and filled them with likable traits.
Xykon's epic speech about how power equals power harkens back to a scene in Start Of Darkness. Namely, the scene where he bludgeons to death master Fyron after losing in a spell duel, indicating that Xykon knows that spells don't win battles, you use the best tool for the job.
For someone who has never played D&D, the prismatic spray spell V used on the devil was pretty cool. But if you look it up and learn its exact effects, you can go back and look at V's successful attempts at the spell. The color corresponding to the resulting effect manifests in a bigger beam than the other six (so when V petrifies the demon, the blue light is much more prominent).
In Start of Darkness, when Redcloak kills Right-eye, the latter calls the former "Redcloak" instead of "Brother". This is not just a rejection of Redcloak being his brother, it's also calling him Xykon's stooge, because Redcloak is what the lich always calls him
In strip 753, when Tarquin visits Roy and Belkar in prison and takes off his helmet, he responds to their reactions with "What? Do I have something on my face?". This seemed like just a standard joke, until you go back to strip 141, where Elan responds to the look Haley and V are giving him with the exact same line. Like father, like son.
This line by Girard: "Give a man enough power, and he's bound to abuse it, no matter how noble he thinks he is."
The IFCC gave V power, and s/he abused it, killing Girard's entire family line.Damn, Girard, you were right on the money.
His contempt for paladins leads him to be absolutely convinced that Soon will break his oath to not seek out and interfere with the other gates. Not only does Soon not break his oath, but Girard's lying about the location of his own gate has done more to jeopardize the heroes than anything the Sapphire Guard did. It seems Girard was right about the ability for power to corrupt, but wrong about who it was affecting.
The line by Girard is actually rather prophetic regarding himself and his family. They go out and seduce strangers and then run off with the children and their spouses' money back to their ridiculously scry-proof pyramid, leaving the grieving parents behind to wonder what happened to their baby. Abuse of power indeed.
Keeping in mind that warlocks in most D&D settings get their powers from contracts with demons, V's anger at being called one in the marketplace suddenly takes on a much more personal tone.
All of the Gates (or at least, their defenses) have so far suffered a Death by Irony:
Lirian's Gate—so besotted with the power of Nature to guard it, it had no real defences against the unnatural lich Xykon or even a simple forest fire.
Dorukan's Gate—guarded with the idea that arcane power was the ultimate defence, which fails when you face an enormously powerful arcane caster who is specifically built to take down other arcane casters; plus, Dorukan clearly valued the intelligence of wizards, and the gate was inadvertently destroyed by Elan who is, simply put, a buffoon.
Soon's Gate—Guarded with the idea that the honour of a paladin was unbreakable, and Shojo's decision to not follow the Paladin's code - along with a fallen Paladin - set off the chain of events leading to the gate being destroyed (not to mention that almost all of the other paladins were turned against one another by the Symbol of Insanity).
Girard's Gate—the idea here is that you can't trust anyone outside your family, so you need to guard the gate entirely with members of it. Works well until someone lets off a loose cannon spell that obliterates your entire family.
When V casts Vaarsuvius' Greater Animal Messenger to contact Belkar and Haley, he/she shields it from all magical methods of attack, but doesn't shield it from normal arrows. It gets shot and eaten by Belkar and Haley. A the time, V was a believer in the Almighty Superiority of Magic, so of course he/she wouldn't even consider that the spell could be defeated by normal weapons.
When Daigo gets knocked out by his family's would-be assailants (multiple times), whereas Kazumi goes Mama Bear/Pregnant Badass on everyone, one might assume it's because Daigo has suffered from Chickification, while Kazumi hasn't. This sudden imbalance in competence makes more sense, however, when you realize Kazumi has revealed her full name... While Daigo hasn't. Not revealing his full name is working like a sort of Power Limiter on Daigo, and he'll remain underpowered compared to his wife until his full name is made clear.
It may seems strange that an undead abomination like Xykon can be so funny and entertaining even as he's committing horrible acts, until you remember that Xykon is a powerful undead lich... and a sorcerer. Sorcerers' most important stat is charisma; being epic level and incredibly powerful, Xykon's charisma must be through the roof! No wonder he's so likable.
Likewise why Roy initially found Miko so attractive. As a paladin she likely has a good Charisma score, which is generally a combination of force of personality, interpersonal skills, charm, and general physical attractiveness. Miko has a strong force of personality but the charm and interpersonal skills of a wolverine, so to keep with her Charisma score she'd have to be quite attractive.
It's a bit odd that the Azurites didn't try to take advantage of Elan's magical singing during the war. Elan could arguably be more powerful than V during that sequence, since his song would add a great deal of both attack and damage to every single soldier that can hear it, greatly enhancing their chances of killing hobgoblins. However, he can't: He didn't have his lute with him, making it impossible for him to use the perform skill he had ranks in. Not a huge one, but a nice way to explain why one of the powerful abilities the Order has wasn't used.
In comic 390, Elan's mentor comments that he's better off not knowing what a "padawan" is. Considering that the Star Wars references come thick and fast when his evil dad Tarquin enters the story, he's right.
Elan hangs on to the Girdle of Masculinity/Femininity because he thinks it might come in handy (and he was curious). Why did he think such a random, impractical item might be useful at some point? Because it was mentioned. He's Genre Savvy enough to know a Chekhov's Gun when he sees one — he makes sure to keep it because a) he considers it bad storytelling to draw attention to something and then just leave it there, never to come up again, and b) he know that the fact that attention was drawn to it guarantees that a situation will come up where it's necessary.
Roy is The Unfavourite to Eugene, always passed over in favour of Julia. While this does have something to do with Roy being a fighter and Julia being a mage, keep in mind what Roy said to Eric: "I was just a kid. It wasn't my job to watch the grown-up. But... I still should have done something. I knew it wasn't safe. Dad just shushed me. He never listened to me at all when Mom wasn't around." It's quite plausible that Eugene has always blamed Roy for Eric's death. We also know that Roy blames his father for Eric's death, so that may have soured his opinion on magic, leading to take on his non-magical grandfather (who Eugene hated) as his role model.
Tarquin's three Empires are the Empire of Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Entire nations have been named after the sheer effort he and his team have put into managing and controlling the constantly warring states of the continent.
Tarquin being fairly dismissive of Malack mourning for his children seems like a pure Kick the Dog moment from him...and then it turns out that Malack is a vampire, and his "children" are the people he's turned. Tarquin literally doesn't see what the big deal is, seeing as how he can just create more spawn.
When Malack is first introduced, he implies he is Lawful Neutral, since his god Nergal is a god of death and death takes both good and evil lives equally, whereas an evil death would only kill the good people. However we later find out that Malack is a vampire and thus evil by definition. This is because his previous logic is wrong: Evil in the world of OOTS is not one big happy family and therefore an evil death is perfectly happy to kill evil people.
The "ghost-paladins of the Sapphire Guard" from comic #449 are this mixed with Hilarious in Hindsight. As Redcloak notes in comic #459, they're some kind of weird "positive-energy spirits". Before Rich Burlew really began working on The Order of the Stick, he submitted a campaign setting to Wizards of the Coast. He lost, and another submitter's entry won instead — that entry became the campaign setting of Eberron... which has, as an enemy type, the Deathless — entities like the Undead, but fuelled by positive energy instead of negative energy. In other words, the comic's creator cribbed Soon Kim and his ghostly guardians from the very campaign setting that beat his out — Soon Kim and his Ghost-Paladins are actually incorporeal Deathless Paladins.
In #885, Roy insists that the party start walking in silence in response to Durkon's death. Having reread the comic recently I immediately thought of how Soon Kim always walked in stoic silence with his party. This is yet another parallel between the Orders of the Stick and Scribble.
Nale's overly-complicated multiclass setup is a joke that works on two levels. On the surface, it just goes along with his love for complexity. But as explained by someone who understands D&D better than I do - his skillsets mean he's essentially a glorified bard.
In the illusion Roy managed to kill Xykon while he was begging for mercy using Roy's name. Now, considering that Xykon can never remember Roy even 5 minutes after fighting him and the illusion was designed to show everyone what they desire most- then Roy secretly wants Xykon to know who he is as an adversary. The thing here is that when you devote your life to someone in any way—loving them, killing them, guarding them—you want recognition, regardless of the relationship's nature. Roy wants to prove that he's not the Red Shirt his dad believes he is, the mere precursor of a greater hero. This makes the illusion all the more brilliant when you realize Xykon's recognition of Roy when he comes through the door gives the whole thing away in the first line.
Tarquin's dismissal of Nale as a superfluous plot point after he kills Nale serves to underline another important difference between Tarquin and (post Character Development) Elan. Tarquin is so obsessed with how reality and fantasy intertwine in their world that he believes they're the same thing. Elan is similar, judging reality by the standards of fantasy- but the difference is that he knows when to turn away from that. As we see with Nale and the incinerated slaves, he does take death very seriously, and he understands that people are more than chess pieces. As the comic shifts into Cerebus Syndrome and Reality Ensues more and more, this turns out to be the wise option.
It's pretty brilliant how Girard, the most paranoid member of the entire Order of the Scribble, completely fails at protecting his fortress from the true threat, Xykon. The one person he trusts and who knows the actual coordinates writes them down (inadvertently giving them to Xykon) while the person who he gave the false coordinates to never gave them up or pursued his Gate. Additionally, his high-level uber-illusion is a mind-affecting effect, which the undead Xykon is immune to. Not to mention all those low-level Draketooth family members Xykon could have reaped like wheat even if they had been alive. For all his paranoia, the person who presented the most danger to the gate is the only person who would not be inconvenienced by his defenses at all. Of course, Team Evil being the last group to get there made it all a moot point.
Reflecting on it, there's a second layer of Fridge Brilliance here that would make Girard's ghost explode with rage—Soon Kim won their argument. Everything Girard did to secure his Gate only slowed down the heroes but wouldn't have delayed Team Evil much at all (Fortunately for the Order, Redcloak did that instead). On the other hand, Soon's method of defending the Gate required pretty much every resource Team Evil could muster and still took an entire plot arc to fall. It would have been entirely successful, too, if not for a certain delusional ex-paladin.
A lich like Xykon is kind of a perfect storm for that outcome: as pointed out, most of Girard's methods just don't work on them, while Soon Kim's paladins... well, Smite Evil, 'nuff said. If the main threat had been, say, a more competent version of Nale, then Girard's illusions and even paranoid mistrust of anyone outside his own family would have served him better, while Soon Kim's righteous but, potentially, easy to manipulate paladins might not have fared so well. Heck, if Girard himself were here to argue the case, he'd probably even say that Miko was not a coincidental Spanner in the Works but rather an inevitability of the paladins' (sic) inflexible and arrogant worldview. At the end of the day, the real 'winner' of the Order of the Scribble's argument would have been a hypothetical voice of reason telling them to throw aside their damn egos and work together on defending the gates, contributing resources for each defence in order to cover as many bases as possible. Sadly, the closest they could manage was Serini stopping them from at least coming to blows over it (which says more for their own tempers than any deficiency on Serini's part as The Heart really).
The comic "Second Chance" doesn't just refer to O-Chul getting back up and giving him and Vaarsuvius a second wind against Xykon. It's a direct parallel to this comic, where we see V's guilt at turning invisible and abandoning the Azurite soldiers to die. Even before the full ramifications of Familicide sink in, V makes an active choice to stay and do something, despite the risk. Even though it's a small gesture, it's a powerful sign that V does have what it takes to start turning things around.
Take a look at comic #50. Take a look at Nale's shocked expression when Elan goes Genre Savvy unexpectedly. At the time the comic was made, it was probably just shock at Elan's sudden competence (and leaning on the fourth wall). But years later, with that family's backstory made clear? Nale's so shocked because he looked at his brother and just saw a younger version of his father. Which goes a long way towards explaining why Nale hated Elan so much for so little reason. It was really more about beating his father all along. His comment on his father arguing that bards are underpowered only furthers this theory by showing that Nale was at the very least conscious of the fact that both Elan and Tarquin share a fondness for bards and genre convention.
Rich's twitter icon is of Elan. Why? Because Rich is like a bard himself, telling the story of the Order of the Stick!
On the YMMV page, the desert arc is getting into Arc Fatigue territory. Which is exactly how the Order feels about it too. They had a grueling battle to get to the gate, then a rumble with Team Evil, and now Tarquin is hunting them like animals too. Rich has gotten the reader to be as sick and tired of this as the Order would be.
Tarquin is Dangerously Genre Savvy, and flaunts this. He knows he's in a story, and wants to stick to that story as much as possible. If events unfold that don't follow the story, he will break down. However, his definition of "following the story" usually involves him and his immediate relatives taking center stage, and the other characters being forgotten about. If the story focuses on somebody else, he will unceremoniously kill them, and will stubbornly work his way into the story even if it no longer involves him. Tarquin is a railroading Game Master. Just listen to some of his quotes listed in his entry under Control Freak:
Tarquin: As I've said before, procedure matters. Elan: But the safety of the world — Tarquin: — is meaningless if everyone is going to run around doing whatever they feel like, without regard for proper story structure. There must be some sense of order — personal, political, or dramatic — and if no one else is going to bring it to this world, I will.
Tarquin: I'm sorry, Elan, but you brought this all on yourself. I tried to give you a dramatically significant death scene to swear vengeance over, but you seem to prefer this... this disjoined anarchy. There's no unity of theme here at all! Elan: Didn't we... already do the scene... where you try to convince me to do things your way? Tarquin: (grabbing Elan, face twisted with rage) Yes, and it didn't go right, so we are DOING IT AGAIN. And we will CONTINUE to do it until you understand that it is in your best interest to...
Elan vs. Tarquin climax:
Elan's parting shot to Tarquin has Elan point out that thanks to Tarquin, Elan is no longer a twin. Ergo, Elan is no longer the good twin without Nale as his foil and so can afford to make a more pragmatic decision that is a bit cruel, if not actually evil. When Tarquin killed Nale, he dismissed him as nothing but a foil who had lost his use. So Elan's making sure Tarquin knows that killing Nale is exactly what Elan will use to not be the kind of hero Tarquin wants him to be and turn the offhanded murder into something major, against Tarquin's Railroading wishes. For a villain obsessed with having the perfect tale with the perfect ending with the perfect hero, Elan could do no better than imply that removing Nale is what will deprive Tarquin of that.
On a similar note, his final Skyward Scream ("THIS IS A HORRIBLE ENDING") cements just how out of touch he is with the actual story. It is a climax rather than an ending, nor from a purely literary point of view a horrible event in the plot, as he was given a poetic end for a Glory Seeker: Being utterly ignored after he completely failed to steer the plot back onto his version of events.
And the final nail in this coffin is when Roy and Belkar come back on deck—Roy asks what happened, and Elan is utterly dismissive of Tarquin, referring to it as, "Nothing Haley and V couldn't handle." In an incredibly subtle way, Elan is going out of his way to deny his father any narrative role at this point besides "minor speedbump".
Tarquin thinks that he's the Big Bad and The Leader of his team. He's not; his role is to be the Genre Savvy party member who keeps the other members of his team from grabbing the Villain Ball. In other words, he has the same role on his team that his son Elan does in the Order, and is making the same mistake when he thinks that the two of them are the main villain and hero, respectively.
Everything in Tarquin's final speech after falling off the airship is incorrect. He says that the arc isn't over, has no satisfying resolution, has no growth or loss on Elan's part, has no sense of closure. But it does, simply because he wanted it. By depriving Tarquin of the ending he wanted, the arc is pretty much over, has a highly satisfying ending, Elan has grown beyond just following tropes and lost his twin brother, and the arc has most definately closed. By giving the villain the ending he didn't want, the villain has well and truly lost, thus giving a much better—or at least happier—ending to the one that Tarquin wanted.
V's kids talking of hit as "Other Parent" and of Inkyrius as "Parent"? Oh, sure, it's a hilarious gag to keep V's gender hidden. But they're speaking Elvish. Given how ambiguous elvish gender is in general, what if Elvish simply does not have gender-specific words for parents?
The Order of the Stick (minus Durkon and Vaarsuvius, neither of which were present at the time) falling for Girard's illusion traps in the pyramid, followed by Nale falling for them among the Linear Guild but everyone else in that group shrugging it off, with Malack outright mocking the trap having an apparently rather easy resistance difficulty. Nale getting hypnotized by it seems like a one-off amusing gag at first, but consider everyone's classes in both groups.
Roy's a Fighter. Haley's a Rogue. Belkar's a Ranger with a level or two of Barbarian. All of those are classes with poor will saves. Elan is a Bard with some levels in Dashing Swordsman, but his Wisdom isn't terribly impressive. Bard is a class with a good will save, which, in addition to his genre savvy, would explain why he broke out of the illusions first. Belkar is also combining classes with poor will saves with a Wisdom ability score penalty, which would make his overall will save absolutely abysmal and explain why it took extra prodding via bardsong to get him out of it.
Likewise, the Linear Guild had Malack (Cleric), Zz'dtri (Wizard), Tarquin (who knows?), Vampire!Durkon (Cleric), two fiends (Outsiders), and Nale (some unholy hybrid of Rogue/Fighter/Sorcerer). Cleric and Wizard are both high will save classes, and Clerics innately have even better will saves due to the importance of Wisdom in their spellcasting, hence why Malack thought the resistance difficulty so simple (though as undead, he and Durkon were simply immune). Outsiders have good will saves, so they're covered there. Tarquin was noted later by Sabine to have a ring that let him see through illusions, so his class is irrelevant because he was outright immune. Only one of Nale's classes (Sorcerer) has good will saves, however, and as noted quite a few instances of Fridge Brilliance above, Nale is high Intelligence, low Wisdom, making his already barely-above-poor will saves worse.
Why would Elan pick out a puppet as a Deity when he was trying to convince Roy he could be a Cleric, this troper thought for a while but then I realized it, Bards and Puppets have something in common, they entertain people. It would make logical sense why he would make up a deity relating to entertainment.
In the arc following Blood Runs in the Family, Belkar goes through hell trying to prove that Vampire!Durkon is evil to the rest of the group. Suddenly you recall that he previously put someone else through hell over something similar: Miko. Belkar's difficulty in proving his point could be karma for all his past paladin-mocking and helping shove her further down the slippery slope.
In one of the prequel books, Belkar usurps a monk who was vying for the position of "other frontline combatant". One of the insults he uses to demean the monk and get rid of him is to tell him he's got the Base Attack Bonus of a tree sloth. However, Belkar's actually right. All animals have the same 3/4 BAB per Hit Dice that monks did in 3rd Edition.
During Miko's first appearance, Durkon is convinced that the Order should go quietly with her because the storm prevented it from being a one-stroke battle, therefore it must be a sign from his god that they need to go with the paladin. Cut to Thor with ale in one hand, lightning in the other, a blindfold over his eyes, and heavenly assistants noting that it's "probably better if he doesn't know." While this seems to be just more cloudcuckoolander behavior from Lawful Good Durkon's god, the assistant is correct. If Thor hadn't been playing drunk darts with lightning bolts, either Miko would have manhandled them all in the beginning and may never have given the party a chance to prove that they are good (cf when the party stands up to her after the inn's demise), or with Durkon adding his clericly might to the equation, they may actually have been able to beat her, in which case they may not have been able to find out about the Snarl. Even if they'd gone to Azure City anyway, the only reason they were
allowed to learn about it in the first place was because they were under trial for destroying the Gate. Having fried their top paladin wouldn't have done them any favors either.
Think about all the stupid things Elan has done and how much trouble they have caused. Now look at the explanation for why he is so dumb in this comic. Nale caused Elan to be the way he is. Assume that Elan would have high intelligence like both of his parents had Nale not prevented it. We already know Elan has high charisma. We can assume he also has high wisdom, from his genre savviness and his practical use of it while going against his bardic sensibilities to avert the Rule of Drama. His strength and dexterity, while not as high as his charisma, are probably in the 12-13 range. His constitution can't be too bad on account of his not dying yet. So if not for Nale, Elan would have been an awesome character.
In The Order of the Stick, blowing up Dorukan's dungeon was done so the party wouldn't loot and XP farm the population of said dungeon, with Elan doing it out of dramatic necessity. Well, that's fine and all, until you remember 3 things: 1. There were those rebellious goblin teens inside that dungeon. 2. Redcloak declared them all dead, and 3. If you've read Start Of Darkness, you'd know that Xykon gang-pressed a lot of innocent goblins to work for him.
The arc with the mother black dragon seeking vengeance on Vaarsuvius was inspired by a moment of Fridge Horror that creator Rich Burlew had when he noticed that of all of the races in D&D, dragons are the only ones with character stats for every stage of their lives, including childhood, and therefore the only race whose children the game effectively condoned killing.
Related to the above entry; Vaarsuvius later discovers that one of the Black Dragons killed by the Familicide spell he/she cast was an ancestor of the entire Draketooth family, and thus the entire family was wiped out by the spell. That's not the Fridge Horror. Vaarsuvius then realizes that several other families were also wiped out by the spell due to being related to the Draketooths (because of the Draketooth family's practice of seducing strangers and absconding with the resulting offspring). That's not the Fridge Horror. But who says the Black Dragon that sired the Draketooth bloodline was the only dragon in his family to mate outside his species? Vaarsuvius is already aware that his/her actions caused the deaths of a lot of innocents, but the death toll may be a lot higher than he/she realizes.
This comic. Sure, the news anchor getting killed and replaced by a member of the death squad is a pretty funny piece of Black Comedy. But remember a few panels earlier, when they show the "Sanguine Street" characters, she mentions "her three-year-old". Yeah...
Before they formed the Order of the Stick, Roy and Durkon were in another party and the other members were all complete dicks, and if it wasn't for Roy, they would've killed a bunch of innocent orcs who just wanted to watch a concert. The last we see of this party is when Roy tells them to go fuck themselves before leaving. They could still be somewhere out there, killing harmless non-humanoids just because it's easier than talking to them. Furthermore, note that this is Dungeons & Dragons. There are many adventuring groups exactly like that.
Durkon was banished from his home because of a prophecy (of which he is unaware) that states his return would doom the kingdom. An oracle tells him he will return posthumously. At first he (and the readers) think this means he'll be buried with his people, which is bittersweet, but it's still bittersweet. Then he was turned into a vampire. Consider the implications... Especially in light of the reveal that the spirit controlling Durkon's body is actually a dark spirit of Hel, sent to bring ruin to the world
Tarquin is just a seething cauldron of this as his true nature becomes more and more explicit. Perhaps most chilling is the realization that Elan could have turned out exactly the same way as his father. Tarquin is an Elan who never learned to stop seeing the story and start seeing the people in the story.
Remember how Durkon is trapped within his own body that's being controlled by something, while Malack states that being resurrected would mean the death of his current self. What if the original Malack was in the same situation and in his case, for decades. The Giant basically confirmed that vampires work in this exact way, so this is exactly right. Oh, Gods.
Jones the lawyer keeps Rodriguez around so that Rodriguez can absorb all of his losses. This essentially means that Jones is ensuring that Rodriguez will never be able to work for anyone else again in the field of law just so that he always has a scapegoat for his own incompetence. The giant may be wrong about Jones being Lawful Neutral because that makes him come across as Lawful Evil.