Heartwarming: The Order of the Stick
The Order of the Stick
has several Heartwarming Moments (all of which are quite spoiler-y, so if that worries you, don't click!)
Start of Darkness
On the Origin of PCs
- Roy tells his first adventuring group off, both for killing first and asking questions later and for the way they treat Durkon, whom he concedes is "surly and unpleasant" but doesn't deserve suicide mission after suicide mission. After storming off, Durkon goes after Roy, and Roy assumes Durkon's going to "give [him] a parting shot of all-purpose grumpiness." Instead:
Durkon: Thank ye for what ye said back there... In all the years I've been in da human lands, yer tha first I ever saw who'd use 'is head when 'is sword was handy. An' ye saved me life, too. I guess I ne'er met a non-dwarf who gave a flying damn about me either. Have ye ever thought aboot forming yer own team? Cuz if ye do, ye can count me in.
- Elan's elation when, for the first time in his life, he's told he was right about something, and is invited to join Roy on his quest. Even Roy's snarky comments as Elan's celebrating don't dim the mood.
Bonus published content within the main storyline
- At the end of the book version of Don't Split the Party, Elan welcomes Roy back to the land of the living with a five act rock opera about how much he loves Roy- emphasizing that no matter how much Roy disparages Elan's habits, Elan will always consider him his best friend. Although Roy is clearly annoyed once he finds out how long the play is, he decides to weather the whole thing since Elan spent so much time on it.
The Order of the Stick
- The whole scene with V and Elan in the beginning when Elan wants to take a level of Wizard.
- Reinforced subtly in several subsequent strips that suggest that since that time V has been teaching Elan how to use his arcane magic more effectively.
- Haley getting her voice back. Followed by Wanna make out?
- "thog not want to hurt not-nale." It looks like Thog's Odd Friendship with Elan held out. Before that, he expresses genuine happiness to be back with his old friends.
- I had a... change of priorities.
- Redcloak's My God, What Have I Done? speech belongs here. (Aside from being a Crowning Moment of Awesome in its own right).
- When Miko dies, she is told she has not been forgiven for her sins, but she will at least be reunited with Windstriker.
- Haley and Elan saying goodbye, followed by the two Nameless Soldiers agreeing to go on a date.
- The deva's speech about how important it is to keep trying to be good. "It's easy for a being of pure Law and Good to live up to these ideals, but you're a mortal. What matters is that when you blow it, you get back up on the horse and try again."
- Roy reuniting with his little brother in the afterlife.
- Rich's tribute to E. Gary Gygax. Many other writers simply did a single lip-service strip that said one panel of "In Memory", but Rich went out of his way to show his gratitude to Gary Gygax, and it shows, in a speech by Roy that could have been read at Gygax's funeral. His recent tribute to the other half of D&D, Dave Arneson, is up there, too.
- Therkla's parents. Yes, they're a single-panel cameo and played for laughs when a flashback shows them as Sickeningly Sweethearts, but the fact that they're a clearly very happy and loving Interspecies Romance, when orcs in the setting suffer just as much from the assumption of Always Chaotic Evil as the goblins and even another orc immediately assumes that the only way an orc/human hybrid could come about is as a Child by Rape, is really quite touching.
- Durkon's reaction to learning he'll be able to return to Dwarven lands.
Roy: You are a very strange little bearded man, Durkon.
Durkon: Aye, lad. Aye.
- "Sweet dreams, Monster-san." O-Chul and the Monster in the Darkness have a lot of these:
- The reunion of the Order after a very long time, and all the events that come with it. First, getting Roy back. Then, after having a strained relationship for months, Durkon and Vaarsuvius reconcile in a truly heartwarming way; made all the more impressive in that it's combined with a great deal of character growth for both of them and ends on a horrifyingly ominous note. Finally, Elan chooses honesty over drama. "How are we supposed to get a happy ending if we can't be honest?" And Haley reciprocates.
- Vaarsuvius summons his/her familiar and apologizes for having been a somewhat subpar master.
- And later on, Blackwing acting as V's conscience to the point that the next time they fight the Linear Guild... well, Qarr says that if Blackwing kills himself, Qarr will make sure V is kept alive after the battle. Blackwing reasons through this by pointing out that he's really only the elf's conscience right now... and if Qarr's so desperate to get him out of the way, it must be working, and Blackwing reaffirms his duty to be there for Vaarsuvius no matter what. Their relationship has come a long way from "Screw this, mammal! You're on your own!"
- The founding of Gobbotopia. After multiple strips emphasizing what a raw deal the goblins have gotten (and even more in Start of Darkness), it's nice to see them getting their own nation-state where they can't be casually killed by any wandering adventurers or overzealous paladins that happen by. And their leadership is focusing on issues like diplomatic recognition and trade relations, so they're clearly planning on long-term international relations and not just conquest. It's basically the culmination of Redcloak's dream, and it's hard not to feel good for the goblins despite the place being built on the ruins of Azure City. Especially when you see a cute little goblin kid in the second-to-last panel.
- Elan asks Haley why she can't use the Glibness effect (which gives her an insane bonus to Bluff) to convince her father that Elan's a good guy. The potion only works on things that aren't true.
- It becomes a Tear Jerker, when you remember what she said just seconds before...
- A very silly but cute one. During their search in the desert for Girard's Gate, we see a montage of them looking in various ways. One panel inexplicably shows Elan with his sword drawn, apparently ready to duel a cactus to the death. Next panel is Elan and Haley sleeping together. Elan has needles sticking in him, and Haley has a smile and the flower that was on top of the cactus in her hand. D'AAAWWWW.
- Rich's final words on the Kickstarter book reprint project before fulfilling the rewards starts, from update #28:
Any way you want to analyze it, it's surprising. Certainly, I'm still shocked. There have already been media stories about it, and there will be more now that we've ended. And they'll talk about crowdfunding and what this success means to the future of blah blah blah. You know what? Screw that. This is between me and all of you. This is because you guys love the story I'm writing, and I love writing it. We made this thing together, and no one is going to replicate it, not exactly. Oh, sure, these records won't stand forever. Some won't even last a month. But it doesn't matter, because you didn't pledge money to me so I could beat a meaningless record. You pledged your money to me because you believe in me and my silly stick figure comic. And that is not something that is going to be mentioned in those media articles.
- The last of the strips that Rich did for Dragon Magazine before it switched to an all-web format has one too. After the party breaks the dragon out and saves it from being turned into electricity, we get this exchange:
Dragon: Yes! The sweet taste of freedom! Thank you!
Roy: Eh, don't thank us, we just provided a largely symbolic gesture that doesn't actually change anything.
Haley: Yeah, we should be thanking you.
Dragon: For what?
- Elan's relationship with Roy is beyond heartwarming, culminating in an Imagine Spot in which his father Tarquin, says that he will adopt Roy, and that he and Elan are now "for real" brothers (and they both get puppies). It's silly, but the cheerfulness of the whole thing is really cute.
- Tarquin finally gets tired of Malack's whining about his dead children, and tells him to suck it up. He does, but later, Tarquin showboats around in order to test Elan's skills—something that is very much a tactical liability. Malack yells at him, telling him he's not going to put Tarquin's family over his own, Sabine gets ready to watch them fight... and Tarquin genuinely apologizes for his actions. Yes, they're evil, but they're still friends.
- Belkar and Mr. Scruffy's relationship in general. This is a good moment.
- Additionally, in that strip, Belkar entrusting Vaarsuvius (of all people) with his cat - after all of their fighting and not-quite-making-up - is awfully sweet.
- Even The Linear Guild gets its Heartwarming moments. In #804 Qarr makes not-so-veiled threats against Sabine for being loyal to Nale and not The Directors, who are her bosses. When Nale returns after Qarr leaves, Sabine makes her Undying Loyalty plain:
Nale: C'mon, babe. Elan ran this way. If we can catch him, we can turn this thing around.
- Penelope's story, overlaps with Tear Jerker, but it's very touching. As a girl, she was caught in a whirlwind romance with an illusionist, a relationship that made a baby girl. The father (Orrin Draketooth) skipped town with the baby. For twenty years, Penelope never stopped trying to find her little girl, even hiring Zz'dtri to divine the location. She would have succeded were it not for V's Familicide spell.
- This exchange between Malack and Durkon, during their battle in the pyramid.
Durkon: Surrender, Malack.
Malack: So you can destroy me?
Durkon: So I can resurrect ye.
- When confronted with the prospect of finding a vampire and killing him on his own, Durkon realizes Thor can't and won't help him and puts his faith in the man he respects the most.
Durkon: What would Roy do?
- Even though he's the one who killed Durkon, Malack still puts Durkon's body in a respectful pose, with his hands crossed over his holy symbol. Though this may be diminished somewhat by the vampirification of said body that happens almost immediately after.
- He also honors Durkon's last wish, in a way, by letting Belkar live and telling him to get the rest of the Order out of there.
- Even after realizing that the Order is hiding behind an illusionary wall, he chooses to continue honoring that wish by not calling attention to them.
- Also, Belkar trying to rush off and tell Roy about what just happened even though most of his blood has been drained, and he's too weak to stand. So instead he starts crawling.
- And his reaction to Durkon dying and being raised as a vampire after Hold Person wears off. He's freaking the fuck out about it.
- In its own way, Belkar telling Roy what happened qualifies for this trope, since it's clear he takes it entirely seriously.
"How could this possibly be a joke? Where's the punchline? (...) But trust me, there's nothing funny about it. He just walked in there and saved my life and got straight up murdered for it."
- Strip #887. Even knowing it's All Just a Dream, it is full of heartwarming moments, such as Durkon being resurrected, Elan and Nale making peace while their father looks happily, Roy's dad finally entering heaven, Elan being with Haley and Roy with Celia....
- Strip #888, "Dream Wedding", somehow manages to be this, Tear Jerker, and a Funny Moment all at the same time. Elan just really wants his family to be happy together. That even includes Nale and the rest of the Linear Guild.
- The exact moment crossing over into both funny and heartwarming is the panel revealing that Tarquin is the one getting married and not Elan. It makes the fact that he was comforting Elan for three panels even more heartwarming than it already was.
- For pure heartwarming, notice that the person right next to Vaarsuvius is Inkyrius, his/her recently divorced mate.
- Belkar's and Mr. Scruffy's shared fantasy, while assumed by Roy to feature stabbing, whores and whores stabbing whores who stab whores, was Belkar preparing fish for Mr. Scruffy, while Lord Shojo pets him. Proof that Belkar's undergone so much Character Development that all he really wants is to be a real person.
- Elan managing to get the team out of their slump with good old fashioned hope.
- "And Elan? Good job. And I'm sorry I snapped at you earlier."
- What's even better is that before this, everyone was worried that the because of the whole Unspoken Plan Guarantee the comic tends to lean towards, the story was going to have a total Downer Ending. Elan isn't just assuring his team that things will work out, he's assuring the fans.
- Zz'dtri helps Nale come to his senses despite Malack telling the Drow to abandon him after he falls victim to the Lotus-Eater Machine.
- 901. The Monster in the Darkness saves the four remaining Order members from certain doom tricking Redcloak and Xykon to their faces with a Genre Savvy sounding dose of Blatant Lies. Why? They're pals with O-Chul. And so is he.
- Despite now being evil and thus it not working properly, Durkon still goes instinctively to heal an injured Roy. Daww...
- Nale's reaction to Durkon injuring and subsequently killing Z is to try and force Durkon off of him and furiously demand that he doesn't suck his blood. While this is what get Z killed, it's touching to know that, like his father, Nale does care for his longtime friends and employees.
- Just before this, there's another moment of heartwarming, in which Nale and Z offer friendship to Vampire Durkon as well as employment.
- Elan mourned his brother's death, even after all Nale had done.
- Sabine's reaction to Nale's death as well.
- "I'm not the leader of my team, Dad. Roy is, and he's the best hero EVER."
- Vaarsuvius shaking hirself out of his/her Heroic BSOD to help his/her friends.
- Unlike Tarquin's raising of Nale, Laurin is shown to deeply care for her plumber daughter, and works with Tarquin mostly for her sake, so she can have a normal life.
- Elan stating that if Tarquin wants to get at Roy, he'll have to go through Elan.
- In #932, Julio offhandedly reveals that he's crashed the wedding and stolen Tarquin's wives so many times he's running out of new ideas how. Given who Tarquin is, that's really sweet of him.
- Belkar, of all people, asking Vaarsuvius to save the polymorphed allosaurus solely out of concern for its safety.
- And before that, V ensuring that Mr. Scruffy gets rescued.
- After their battle with Laurin, the first thing V does is ask if Blackwing (who got zapped for attacking Laurin's face) is all right, and then gently picking him up when he admits to zir that he's hurt.
- Roy promising Elan that they're going to come up with a plan to deal with Tarquin after dealing with Xykon. ...Then Elan ruins the moment by "mentally workshopping" sequel titles.
- When Roy learns that Durkon needs to feed on blood at least once a night, he suggests that Durkon prepares at least one Restoration spell each night, so that he can feed on someone and then heal them, and volunteers to be fed on by his friend.
- And then Haley and Elan volunteer to pitch in as well.
- During a stopover in Tyrania, Haley attempts to convince her father to leave the continent with the Order due to the bounty placed on his head. Ian refuses, not wanting to be a burden, instead accompanying Amon-Zora's resistance against Tarquin. As they prepare to part ways:
Ian: You've got your own path to follow now. Your own chance at being better. Go make your mother proud.
Haley: But what about you?
Ian: [smiling] Go make me proud too.
- Also how Elan shares with Ian his plan to take down Tarquin, and he is genuinely impressed. In fact, he finally compliments him and is starting to see that Elan isn't as bad as he first believed.
- When V shares with Roy everything about the Familicide, Roy draws a comparison with his own situation when his little brother died and tells V the same thing someone else once told him: that when you screw up, especially when you know you have screwed up, trying to make it right still counts.
- Roy admits to being uncomfortable with giving V any advice regarding the morality of V's actions, as he's a Fighter. By his very nature, Roy's at home fighting battles and coming up with combat tactics, not dealing with philosophical issues. V states point blank, "I respect your integrity. I would thus still value your opinion." Those two sentences show clearly how far the formerly arrogant elf has come.
- In the end, what did Laurin cash her favor from Tarquin in for? The rift left over from Girard's Gate, which she saw as a portal to a plane full of water. It would allow her to set up a new city (recall she's angry that the elves have all the habitable land on the continent, forcing the humans and lizardfolk to fight over the scraps), and give her daughter the job of a lifetime.
- When the tentacles that may be the Snarl break through the rift, what does Miron do first? Try to pull Laurin to safety.
- While kept prisoner in his vampire body's mind, what does Durkon do? Remember his mom.
- In the first panel of #950, Mr. Scruffy and Bloodfeast are asleep, snuggling together. D'awwww.
- Belkar's continued insistence that the vampire they're dealing with isn't really Durkon is quite sweet. He's not taking the easy road and just going with it as if nothing's changed (and as the only Evil member of the team he's probably the only one who really gets it), instead he's willing to fight for the friend that died for him even when it makes the other members of the Order think he's lost his mind or is just being stubborn and unhelpful. For someone who's been working so hard to fake character development to get in their good graces and stay alive, that says something.
- Belkar realizes that he's been faking Hidden Depths so much that he's actually developed them.
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.
- V giving Belkar the Psionic dagger is a small moment diluted by a Crowning Moment of Funny.
- Comic #969 looks to be another piece of evidence in the "Belkar's fake Character Development is turning real" arc. When browsing a female gnome's goods for something to give him shielding against those pesky Dominate Person spells he's so awful at resisting, she gives him a clasp enchanted to cast Protection from Evil, which, naturally, inflicts considerable pain on him. Rather than let her throw away the "defective" clasp, he buys it from her for half-price, something that she is extremely grateful for, as it costs thousands of gold pieces to make a single version of the clasp she was offering him. In her gratitude, she invites him on a dinner date, which he turns down. Compare that to his casually sexist treatment of the human bard towards the end of the Greysky City mini-arc.
- Comic #976 has the one appearance married gnome couple get the happy ending they needed despite being on hard times thanks to Haley and Bandana needing adamantine weapons.