Roleplay / The Ballad of Edgardo
"The Ballad of Edgardo" is an account of a forum RPG
posted to 4chan
in 2013 by the player of the eponymous character.
In-Universe, it is the epic tale of two underdogs' desperate struggle against jerkass Powers That Be
that have made them Cosmic Playthings
, and a Crapsack World
dominated by an oppressive Evil Overlord
named Xer0.Out Of Universe
, it is a stark reminder of how one pissed-off power-gamer
can stir up a nest of self-aggrandizing thespians
and "Stop Having Fun" Guys
The story can be read in its entirety here
. See also Old Man Henderson
and That Guy Destroys Psionics
The story contains examples of following tropes:
- Anti-Villain: Goldnharl, one of the assassins sent after Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid, turns out to be a Noble Demon Worthy Opponent who would have preferred to RP in peace, but was blackmailed by Xer0 into helping him, and would have simply conceded victory, but was forced to revive by Xer0 and try again-the last straw, as it turns out.
- Arc Words: Raw Spirit cannot be resisted.
- Asshole Victim: Xer0, Lightning Sword Guy and Khaine's behavior makes it hard to sympathize with them.
- Ballad of X: This is how Edgardo's anonymous player chose to title it.
- Barrier Warrior: From what we see of him, this seems to be Xer0's shtick.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid. Sadly the game's mechanics render unarmed combat borderline worthless, and Edgardo's player inadvertently locks out the only way to make his build functional, turning him into The Load. Subverted, however, when it comes to his Raw Spirit power-since Raw Spirit cannot be resisted.
- Battle Cry: Edgardo's is "BANZAI!!"
- Big Bad: Militant Xer0 is the main noteworthy villain of this tale.
- Bittersweet Ending: Edgardo, A Guy Called Squid, and Goldnharl kill Xer0, ending his dark reign. As a result, the forums are shut down and Edgardo never sees A Guy Called Squid again.
- Blessed with Suck: When Edgardo's player first started making a character, he took Overwhelming Spirit, not realizing it negligible benefits and devastating drawbacks in regular combat, but is a superpower nonetheless... but none of the roleplayers before Edgardo had made the connection between that perk and a location effect that complements it, which could turn even the weakest character into an implacable powerhouse.
- Bolivian Army Ending: A personal one for Goldnharl, who, following a Heel–Face Turn, stays behind to fight waves of overpowered PCs to cover Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid's escape. We never learn his eventual fate.
- Charged Attack: Edgardo's Raw Spirit Punch. While he could hold and discharge as much Spirit as he wanted, it still took time to accumulate.
- Chekhov's Skill: People just keep forgetting. Raw Spirit can't be resisted. By anything.
- Cool, but Inefficient: The perk Overflowing Spirit removes the Spirit cap, allowing you to hoard as much Spirit as you want to spend on abilities, but almost everything you could possibly want to do is doable with a normal Spirit cap anyway. And it locks you out of Spirit attributes besides Raw Spirit, itself cool in that it can't be resisted but inefficient in that it uses more Spirit for less damage and can't be multiplied by weapons or Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors.
- Crapsack World: Everyone but a few people on the forum are complete assholes.
- Cthulhumanoid: A Guy Called Squid has a squid for a head, but is otherwise a burly human male. He's cool, though, unlike the typically evil portrayals of this trope.
- Create Your Own Hero: For the theft of a healing potion, a power-mad overlord throws a dying man to his supposed death. This will never be a problem.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Both Lightning Sword Guy and Xer0 give one to Edgardo. The roles flip after Edgardo gains infinite Spirit, and even the former got two-punched the second time they met because he forgot Raw Spirit can't be resisted, and Edgardo hadn't spent any.
- Death of a Thousand Cuts: Edgardo's strategy in a nutshell. Raw Spirit deals by far the least damage of any attack, but it can't be blocked or resisted in any way, and his Overflowing Spirit perk meant that he could hold as much Spirit as he has time to accumulate. See Megaton Punch.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Goldnharl's response to Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid killing him.
- Defector from Decadence: Goldnharl couldn't refuse Xer0's orders to go after Edgardo, but after he was killed honorably by Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid and resurrected against his wishes by Xer0 to go after them again, he called quits and joined forces with the two.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid take down two Physical Gods, Goldnharl and Xer0, the former with just their normal abilities and some quick thinking, and the second with a literal punch.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Edgardo tried to steal one potion to restore some health. Xer0 basically kills him on the spot.
- Do Not Go Gentle: Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid's revenge on Xer0 for being an asshole.
- Driven to Suicide: Averted. A Guy Called Squid nearly quit the game due to Xer0's bullshit.
I really don't know why we kept going after that. It was obvious we were unwanted, so we really should've just quit. I think we were both waiting on the other one to give in first. I didn't want to admit defeat, and I knew Squid didn't want to either.
- Elemental Punch: A Guy Called Squid chose an unarmed build like Edgardo, but his fire punch ability lets him do some real damage. Edgardo doesn't get the same luxury thanks to taking Overwhelming Spirit.
Squid just buffed his fire fists. It was a good way to go.
- Establishing Character Moment: "Fuck no! Edgardo does not beg!"
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The guy with a lightning sword is only known as... Lightning Sword Guy.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Invoked when Khaine selectively reads his shadowmancer abilities as "control of the darkness in people's hearts"; Edgardo reads his Spirit as Incorruptible Pure Pureness and being The Determinator, overcoming his own darkness and leaving Khaine utterly flummoxed for a few crucial moments.
- Exact Words: Overflowing Spirit removes the mana cap. When in Haven your spirit automatically fills to the cap.
- Field Power Effect: The city of Haven houses the Spirit Well. Within the city your Spirit points are constantly refilled up to the cap—and if you had no cap, that means being able to spend infinite Spirit to power up every single attack.
- Game-Breaker: Xer0's character, thanks to the mods basically ignoring any rule violations from him. Edgardo, on the other hand, found a perfectly legal way to break the game by combining a perk that removed the cap from his Mana Meter with a location that instantly recharge his Spirit "up to the cap" (i.e. giving him infinite Spirit).
- Genre Refugee: A pure-hearted Hot-Blooded hero is unleashed upon a dark world of brooding Sephiroth expys and Nominal Heroes who have no idea what's coming.
- Greater-Scope Villain:
- The moderators of the website had moulded the attitudes of its denizens by coming up with the broken rules used to trounce Xer0 to begin with. Additionally, the mods themselves are the ones imposing most of the challenges on Edgardo and Squid, whose main crime seemed to be their unpopularity with the remaining playerbase.
- Applies within the game as well. Supposedly, the reason there are all these superpowered anime-esque heroes around is to keep evil "shadows" from taking over the world, but the biggest threats Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid face come from other players, making them the Greater Scope Villain to the Big Bad of the "shadows."
- "Hell, Yes!" Moment: A subdued, but pretty clear one, the exact moment a foot has been set in Haven, even as they're being ambushed by one of the most broken characters in the setting, utterly paralyzed and unable to move.
Meanwhile I just sit back and ask myself a question: Why can’t I hold all this Spirit?
- Heroic Sacrifice: Goldnharl staying behind to hold off the horde of angry players.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: A Guy Called Squid plays this role for much of the story.
- Insistent Terminology: A Guy Called Squid only answers to the full name.
- Ironic Echo: Both times Goldnharl No Sells something that should've destroyed a normal player, it's because "Fuck you. He's Goldnharl". The first time this is said, he shrugs off Squid's trusty punch, and immediately counters it. The second time, it's the last we hear of him during his Last Stand, shrugging off the onslaught of multiple players.
- Irony: Many players began gunning for Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid because they took out Goldnharl. When Goldenharl defects to Edgardo's team, the players who went after the pair for killing him try to kill him.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Xer0 gets his comeuppance in the form of a fist to the face.
- Kill It with Fire: A Guy Called Squid has flame punches.
- The Last Stand: Goldnharl stayed behind, covering Edgardo and Squid's escape. To this day, we still do not know if he survived or not.
- The Load: Edgardo isn't able to accomplish much at the beginning, relying on Squid to fight off threats. The few times where he comes through, it's only by spending tons of Spirit in a single move and that damage never defeats the opponent on its own.
- Man Hug: Edgardo and Squid share one in order to teleport. The Ho Yay potential of this moment gets lampshaded by The Narrator himself.
- Megaton Punch: What Edgardo eventually gets, either by storing tons of Spirit through multiple adventures, or when he gets to Haven and has literally infinite Spirit.
- Moral Myopia: Most of the forum's players railed against Edgardo and Squid for killing Lightning Sword Guy, calling them murderers and outlaws despite the fact they were only defending themselves from his and all the other players' violent antagonism.
- Noble Top Enforcer: Goldnharl. When he's defeated by some quick thinking and teamwork between Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid, his response is a simple PM saying "Well played." He eventually turns against Xer0 because he's sick of Xer0's crap.
- Non-Elemental: Raw Spirit is a non-elemental energy attack that has a quirk of bypassing every kind of defense (the usual trade-off being that nobody can normally use it in large quantities).
- No Saving Throw: Raw Spirit doesn't just bypass resistances, it's also impossible to no-sell, in apparent tradeoff for doing low damage. People keep forgetting this part, and brag about being impossible to harm before getting slammed down by a crapton of stockpiled Spirit at once.
- No-Sell: Happens a lot. Several of the other players No Sell Edgardo's earlier attacks, before he has the chance to build up massive Spirit reserves. Xer0 loves to boast about his ability to No Sell other people's attacks, and Goldnharl is all about No Selling everything that comes his way. Finally, Edgardo is able to No Sell "shadow" attacks by another player in Haven, because he literally has infinite Spirit constantly to spend on every action.
- Now, Let Me Carry You: After depending on Squid for most of the real combat, in the end it is Edgardo who exploits a flaw in the system and carries the duo to victory.
- Off the Rails: If going by The Henderson Scale of Plot Derailment, it's at least two full Hendersons. It is hard to derail a campaign more than causing the entire forum on which the game is based to be shut down.
- The Omnipotent: The exact term used to describe Xer 0 in his first appearance in the story, and he meets the criteria for Type 5. Once he gets infinite spirit, Edgardo becomes a Type 4 in terms of physical force.
- One-Hit Kill: Infinite Spirit + Raw Spirit can't be resisted = Each punch does unlimited unblockable damage, pulping literally anything regardless of level or magic. Including Xer0.
- Orcus on His Throne: It's clear that Xer0 could just teleport straight to, and utterly ruin, Edgardo and Squid at any given moment if he really wanted to, but he seems content to just bitch and moan about their continued existence while camping safely behind his barriers within his own personal fiefdom and ordering everybody else, player and mod alike, to go after them instead.
- Overly Long Name: The full name of Edgardo's brother-in-arms is "A Guy Called Squid", and he refused to answer to anything else, including simply "Squid".
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Edgardo and Squid to Xer0. They abuse a glaring oversight in the roleplay's system and kill the level infinity asshole in one punch.
- Rage Quit: Xer0 invokes this after two newbies (Edgardo and Squid) launch an attack that would invariably kill him, refusing to advance the roleplay any further to register his death, rioting in the OOC boards with his posse for the two to be banned, before the forum shut down the next day from the outrage.
- Reality-Breaking Paradox: Rather than playing out all the ramifications of Xer0's death at the hands of Edgardo or retconning the whole thing out of existence (because, mind you, Edgardo played the whole thing by the letter of the rules), the mods chose to shut down the entire forum, putting the entire game on hold forever.
- Reality Ensues: Edgardo attempts to fight an antihero who is much stronger than him. Said antihero hits him through the roof.
- Redemption Equals Death: We will never know if Goldnharl survived the onslaught.
- Ridiculously Difficult Route: The only route to the city of Haven is a long, winding path through the mountains, which are filled with dangerous encounters. However, Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid are being pursued by the other players, and they're quickly catching up (due to ignoring the traveling rules). So, Edgardo instead proposed climbing over the mountains and taking their chances with the dangerous encounters, counting on the fact that the other players were too worried about dying themselves to risk pursuit and the fact that the mods were mostly ignoring them to get them through.
- Right Makes Might: Invoked by Edgardo when he meets Khaine, the "shadowmancer." A character with a "control shadows" power and a very liberal interpretation of what that meant, claiming it allowed him to control the darkness in people's hearts and thus the people themselves. Edgardo No Sells his attempts because they're in Haven and Edgardo has infinite Spirit to spend on every action.
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: The mods try this on Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid, apparently at the urging of Xer0. Their first night in the wilderness they get attacked by a bunch of "shadows," and barely survive. After they make it to the first town, the mods seem to pretty much forget about them.
- Super Strength: Players can spend Raw Spirit to temporarily boost any of their stats, including Strength. Since Edgardo has no other powers, his go-to is just to pump up his Strength and punch people... reaching its logical conclusion when the infinite Spirit of Haven gives him infinite Strength.
- The All-Solving Hammer: Overcharged raw spirit punches are the solution to everything.
- Time Stands Still: With the cancellation of the game and the closure of the forums, the Narrator likes to imagine Xer0's character stuck frozen in time as Edgardo's unlimited Spirit-empowered fist slams into his face.
- Too Dumb to Live: Early on, Edgardo decides to fight someone much stronger than him. Subverted thanks to one free revive all newbies get.
- Training Montage: At one point the duo take some time and just beat each other to a pulp for ages, taking advantage of gaining experience even from losing fights to eventually level up, while being mostly ignored by the other players and mods.
- Traveling at the Speed of Plot: As the conflict escalates, all sides begin ignoring the actual traveling rules and just arrive where they want just in time for another fight.
- Underestimating Badassery: Everyone in the forum had dismissed Raw Spirit attacks for their low damage-per-spirit, and did perfectly fine with low caps on it. This leads them to dismiss everything Edgardo could throw at them until they find out, the hard way, that he had more than enough Spirit to spend to make it hurt anyways.
Even if Raw Spirit was crap, a lot of crap could still wreck someone's day
- Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: Xer0's barriers render him invincible. Edgardo's Raw Spirit punches pierce all barriers.
- Unwanted Revival: Goldnharl is brought back from a death his player found to be a perfect ending to his character arc, just to battle our two heroes. This plays a part on his Heel–Face Turn, being the last straw from a forum he had started to hate.
- Wham Line: We have this moment, when the narrator finally reveals to us the exploit in the forum's rules which would finally allow him to deal Xer0 the justice he so richly deserved:
> [Haven] was home to the Spirit Well. It was a font of power that everyone flocked to. As long as you were in Haven, your spirit points recharged instantly, up to your cap.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: The entire conflict stemmed partly from this (Jerkass players aside): Edgardo (and, to an extent, Squid) thought "Anime" as in "Hot-Blooded muscular heroes who will trounce evil wherever it is found with the goodness in their hearts", everyone else (aside, perhaps, from Goldnharl) thought "Anime" as in "Brooding, bishie "heroes" and villains who dedicate themselves to slaughter while frowning on anyone giving a crap", and the ensuing clash was violent, to say the least.
- Wuxia: While not explicitly labeled as such, the story has all the necessary trappings of the genre.
- You Can Turn Back: Edgardo tells A Guy Called Squid he doesn't have to come with him for the probably suicidal showdown with Xer0. Cue a moment of Manly Tears:
> He tells me that he’s with me to the end, that he intends to see this thing through, and that he’s got my back no matter what.
- You All Meet in an Inn: Edgardo's very first session started in one such tavern, which didn't combine well with the other "heroes"' antisocial nature.