Xykon can't remember Roy's name. Really, he doesn't remember Roy at all.
Vaarsuvius also had trouble remembering about... "Bird-That-Miss-Starshine-Named"... that is, Blackwing. No wonder the familiar wasn't so keen on helping his wizard or even talking to the elf, until V made amends.
Accidental Mass-Murder: In addition to the very much intended deaths of one quarter of the world's black dragons, Vaarsuvius also accidentally wiped out not only the entire Draketooth family (being descended from the union of a human and one of those dragons), but also everyone who had ever been seduced by a member of the Draketooth clan (including Tarquin's ninth wife), and all of those people's families too.
invoked General Tarquin and Minister Malack are both Lawful Evil and power-hungry (and Tarquin will get revenge for any perceived insult), but they're also enjoyable company and very gracious hosts.
Thog is so cheerful and friendly, it's easy to forget that he'll kill hundreds of innocent NPCs for little (if any) reason.
Afterlife Antechamber: The Lawful Good afterlife has several layers of this. Eugene Greenhilt is stuck waiting outside the pearly gates due to giving up on his Blood Oath. Once you're through the gates, there's a mountain arranged in different levels of increasingly-abstract pleasure. The lowest level (and the only one we get to see) is basically a fancy resort where you can sort out the urges "having your soul stuck in a glorified sausage" leaves you with. "True perfect enlightenment" is at the very top.
Aggressive Negotiations: Start of Darkness spoilers: This is how The Dark One ultimately met his end — he was murdered while attempting to negotiate a peace settlement with the human kings. Rather than ending the war, it made things far worse, as the goblins swarmed upon their enemies inflicting huge losses in vengeance for their fallen warlord.
Tsukiko is an unsympathetic character, but when Redcloak takes control of her wights, she loses the only thing she actually loves. Redcloak then feeds her to them while the whole time she's screaming that she loves them. The Monster in the Darkness is the only one who feels badly about it, and this makes him feel even worse about it.
Demon-roach: So what? Who cares? MitD: Exactly. That's why I'm sad.
Of all people, Nale. His brother grieves him and laments the fact he could have been a good guy if he hadn't been in Tarquin's custody.
Roy and Belkar are sentenced to life in prison for not having paperwork; the reptilian bounty hunters soon suffer the same fate even though they have their paperwork, because the chancellor was ordered to lose it after they attempted to blackmail General Tarquin.
A few strips later, while Durkon is in a library, a sign is posted that says the Dewey Decimal System is strictly enforced. (One can only imagine.)
Thog was thrown into prison for public urination, even though he was already wanted for treason at the time.
Sabine: Sure, women like me swoon for a hero, but that's only because deep down, we think we can change them. But me, I'm done with that now. I want a nice, safe, reliable mass-murderer I can depend on. Like you.
most orcs talk like this. It seems to be related to the INT score. Lampshaded in the last panel of this page.
Eric Greenhilt too, as he's quite young.
All There in the Manual: How did the Order of the Stick team up? Why do they suffer Belkar's presence? How and why did Redcloak align himself with Xykon? Just what did happen to that first Gate? To find out, you have to buy the prequel books, most of which are available via Ookoodook.
Deconstructed, too: Goblins and other evil humanoids were declared by the gods to be Always Chaotic Evil, designed only to be killed by player races. As sentient beings with their own society, they naturally feel persecuted by being forced into this role, and are now executing a massive Rage Against the Heavens in order to change things. Though the deconstruction is more aimed at players who treat these races as such, despite the fact that most of their Monster Manual entries only list them as "Usually X Evil"
It still gets played straight with fiends and The Undead, as the former are literally evil incarnate and the latter are unnatural abominations.
Ambiguous Gender: Vaarsuvius, and now his/her mate too... and their kids.... and his/her master... ah screw it: with a few exceptions, elves in general. Word of the Giant is that any gender identification of Vaarsuvius (and other ambiguous elves) is strictly their own perception. And V's children are adopted. Make no assumptions; for all we know they could be a same-sex couple. Mocked, when Belkar tries to check what V, as a lizard, has down there, but to no avail.
Amplifier Artifact: Most common magic items are of this kind, like Roy's Belt of Giant Strength, Elan's Belt of Charisma or V's Ring of Wizardry. Lampshaded by Haley with a Potion of Glibness: she takes it from Elan to use herself, because while it would make him a good liar, she's already a good liar so it will make her an utterly amazing liar.
Ancestral Weapon: Roy's greatsword is handed down from his grandfather (though it skipped his father). The family is actually named after its green hilt, and now that it was reforged with starmetal it glows green when slaying undead, and so qualifies as a pretty Cool Sword too.
And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt: The hobgoblin horde gets shirts that say "I killed a PC and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt!" when they kill the illusion of the Order of the Stick and Hinjo.
Androcles Lion: The Allosaurus Belkar released from its cage in the Empire of Blood's arena is later used as a steed by one of the soldiers in Tarquin's army during a battle against the Order. It appears to recognise Belkar — a flashback panel shows him soothing it while Ian picks the lock on its cage — and follows his command to drop Roy, and assists the Order in fighting off the rest of the army.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: Played with. After slaying the evil black dragon, Elan says that he got a new clasp for his cloak, and Roy got snazzy new boots. (But it was actually an art upgrade, and they were supposed to pretend they were always drawn that way.)
Angels Pose: Used in "Roy's Angels". Note that Haley is the only one of the three who we know to be really a woman — Roy was temporarily female at the time due to a Girdle of Femininity/Masculinity, and Vaarsuvius' gender is unclear.
When Haley's looted dragon treasure got blown up, she actually becameaphasic, and spent a whole arc speaking gibberish. In fairness, it did turn out that the treasure thing wasn't the root cause.
When Nale realizes the sign in Girard's Pyramid saying that the Gate is in another pyramid was a ruse, and that the Order beat them to the Gate (and destroyed it along with the Pyramid), he is temporarily stricken with this. "I can't believe— how did he— so the Gate was in the— GREENHILT!!"
Animated Actors: Used for a throwaway gag. After the "Crayons of Time" flashback strips, the main characters are shown "offstage," sitting in folding chairs and waiting for their cue.
Done intentionally and hilariously in "Headed Down", the 600th comic (forum). (Read the previous comic immediately beforehand for the full effect.)
An angry Tsukiko plots to create an uber-powerful undead warrior from the first corpse she finds (which just so happens to be Miko's) to use against Redcloak. "It'll be free-willed and evil and mean, with cool black and red armor..." Then she notices that the body is cut in half, and gives up on the plan altogether.
In "Prophecy Fulfilled", Xykon finally teleports to Girard's pyramid (for real)... and it blows up five seconds after he arrives.
Anticlimax Cut: "The Test of the Heart": After having passed the Tests of the Body and Mind, one guarded by a hydra and the other a riddle, the Order finds themselves face-to-face with the guardian of the final Test of the Heart.
Wight: Pray to what gods you serve that you will be deemed worthy of this rare honor! Find your reserves of courage, warriors, for the Test of the Heart begins — NOW!! [cut to Roy in a chair at a doctor's clinic, a stethoscope over his heart] Doctor Wight: Pulse rate is 60... blood pressure is 85 over 60... You pass. Next!
Anyone Can Die: Given that people can be resurrected this is a given, but ever since Roy was killed, V committed accidental and purposeful genocide, and Elan's father was introduced, the death toll has been steadily increasing. Even a main character has joined the ranks of the undead.
(Planetary/Physical Annihilation): At the dawn of time, the Snarl unmade the creation of the planet and destroyed a whole pantheon of gods.
(Close to Planetary/Species Extinction): A single epic-level necromantic spell seems to have caused the extinction of a large extended family. Since the victim is a dragon, and dragons live a long time and don't breed much, this one spell killed a quarter of all the black dragons in the world as well as at least one extended line of demihumans who are the result of Interspecies Romance with said black dragons, including the entire Draketooth clan.
During the battle of Azure City, Xykon slaughters all the paladins defending the throne room... only to watch them rise up and oppose him as spirits, led by the spirit of legendary paladin Soon, no less.
Not to mention that Xykon led an Army of the Dead against Azure City in the first place. Undead Dragon and all.
Arrow Catch: Tarquin proves he's good enough to catch Haley's arrows out of the air. He does it again a few strips later, and Nale has just enough time to gloat before POOOF.
Arrow Gram: Haley combines this with Passing Notes in Class as a gag during the Azure city battle, the arrow hitting a hobgoblin mook about to attack Elan. Said arrow had a cute romantic note on notebook paper. Hinjo plays up the role of the exasperated teacher who takes the note and requests to see Elan after class, er, battle.
Turns out the gladiatorial champion of the Empire of Blood, who is built up as some kind of insane monster who mercilessly slaughtered dozens of fighters and guards, was originally locked up for peeing on the sidewalk. And then it turns out that that's because he's none other than Thog.
Belkar: We're wanted in several other nations for racketeering, jury tampering, and interfering with a mail carrier.
As part of the Bilingual Bonus in strip #309, Haley's attempted confessions to cure her aphasia include "My dad is being held ransom by an evil dictator", "I'm not really in the Thieves' Guild anymore", and "I cheat at solitaire".
Art Evolution: Lampshaded. "Psst! Elan! It's an art upgrade, we're supposed to pretend we've always been drawn this way."
Averted with the Sapphire Guard, though not at the time of their founding.
Assurance Backfire: After Haley's been left behind in (the now overrun by goblins) Azure City, Elan tries to jump out of the boat and swim to her until everyone reminds him that she has a much better chance of survival than him. Then one of the minor characters points out that she has Belkar watching her back, causing him to panic again.
After the events of Wooden Forest, it's revealed that all the horses spent the time in a nearby stable.
Elan: So this is where the horses went while you guys were rescuing me? I kinda figured they had just disappeared when you didn't need them, kind of like V's familiar. Roy: Don't be silly, that would be completely unrealistic.
Parodied when crossing the desert, as the Order stop at an oasis and the camels are seen drinking water from fuel-station style pumps, complete with price boards. See the trope's page image.
Awesome but Impractical: Many of Nale's plans. His draft plan to kill Elan in Cliffport involved Sabine flying over carrying an anvil on a string. And Thog on rocket skates. Their final plan kept the rocket skates.
Back for the Dead: Julio Scoundrél sincerely hopes never to cross paths with Elan again for precisely this reason.
Also probably worth knowing is that both Belkar and Tarquin's backstories include an incident of them murdering all of the patrons in a bar in a more "one-sided" version of this.
Bare Your Midriff: Haley (for most of the comic, save for the latest arc and while with La Résistance); Julia; Crystal; Sabine (during two story arcs).
Barred from the Afterlife: Eugene Greenhilt cannot go to the afterlife until one of his descendants kills Xykon because of a Blood Oath. This is the general fate of people bound by a Blood Oath of Vengeance and die with it unfulfilled. An exception is made for those who died actively trying to fulfill their oaths, as Roy found out.
Bathtub Scene: Haley lampshades the Fanservice nature of this in On the Origin of PCs, also referring to it as "my gratuitous bath scene."
Belkar has a habit of doing this with the heads of kobolds he killed, though he never keeps them for long.
Roy takes Xykon's crown and wears it on a string around his neck after "setting him back a bit". This turns out to be a problem when the residual evil on it causes Miko to try and smite him. Xykon takes it back in their next encounter.
Crystal takes Haley's ponytail as a trophy after nearly killing her during the Greysky City arc.
Later, Gannji concocts a plan that requires his partner Enor to kill him, cut off his tail, and keep it so that Gannji can be resurrected later. He tells Enor:
Gannji: Tell the guards it's a trophy of your victory. They won't question it 'cause you're part ogre. They do stuff like that all the time.
Durkon is too level-headed to really go "berserk", but showing disrespect or making fun of godly worship (like by worshipping a hand puppet, or converting to Thor on the spot when convenient) and he will threaten you with violence, and even has to be physically restrained in some cases.
Better to Die Than Be Killed: Destroying the gates, which are the only things holding back the Snarl, is considered better than allowing their power to fall into evil hands. The implication being that the world would be better off destroyed and remade than falling into the hands of the forces of darkness with the focused power of the Snarl at their disposal. Either that, or a gate would grant great power to anyone willing and able to harness it, especially an Evil person, but a destroyed gate could simply be remade.
Xykon is the human-scale bad guy and the one really driving the main story, but the most powerful evil presence in the comic is the Snarl, hands down. Though Blackwing's vision of the inside of the rift shows that things may be a little more complicated...
The IFCC is somewhere above Xykon and below the Snarl.
The Dark One started most of the plot by creating the Crimson Mantle. We have yet to see how involved he'll be in the climax.
Big "NEVER!": Vaarsuvius when asked to renounce his/her chosen god, and then repeats it when a bribe is insufficient.
Roy: Wait, what? What about the Blood Oath of Vengeance? Bureaucratic Deva: It's not a problem for us. Go on up. Eugene: WHAT?!?!?! Roy: In lieu of Paradise, can I just get a picture of the exact expression on his face?
The gibberish that Haley says while she has aphasia brought on by keeping too many secrets is actually a simple substitution cipher, where each letter represents a different letter of the alphabet (although the code changes with each strip).
Belkar: Good news for fans of cryptograms.
The magic letters in Dark V's accession translate to "BET YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD FOUND A SECRET MESSAGE IN THIS DIDN'T YOU?"
The runes on the walls of Girard's temple evidently translate to "NO SECRET MESSAGE".
Black Comedy: Since the comic has an overall humorous tone, the various atrocities committed by Belkar, Xykon, Nale, Tarquin/The Empire of Blood, and other villains tend to be depicted this way, including some jokes in these scenes, but not downplaying the cruelty being displayed.
Subverted in "Goth Advice"; Elan's speech appears to be faded out with blahs so we can focus on Haley's internal monologue. Turns out he's trying to set a record for the number of times someone's said "blah" in a row.
Blatant Lies: Get your Bluff rank high enough (or get lucky with a natural 20), and people will believe anything. Note that this is completely internally consistent: In D&D 3.5, if your Bluff roll beats your opponent's Sense Motive by 20 or more, you can get them to believe things that are literally impossible.
Blob Monster: In a filler strip, the party fights a gelatinous cube. It gives Haley and Roy an urge for fruit gelatin, although they can't tell why...
Blood Oath: Eugene Greenhilt swearing one against Xykon on a drunken night, for the murder of his mentor Fyron Pucebuckle, is what started the whole vendetta against the lich sorcerer, and what much motivateed Roy to found the Order of the Stick. The rest is history. It is also what keeps Eugene from being admitted into the Afterlife (though not Roy, because Roy's death occurred while trying to fulfill that oath).
Nale and Thog ends up bound the first time the Order of the Stick captures them. A gag soon follows for Nale after he tells a cruel joke to Celia.
Both Durkon and Belkar get the Kind Restraints treatment at one point; see this tropes's entry.
Vaarsuvius' soul, as well as Blackwing's, get tied up on a table in Hell for 20min 35s after Cedrik claims his part of the deal. And then he gags them both, as the Fiends don't want to hear the elf's rampant speculation.
Box-and-Stick Trap: In the book Dungeon Crawlin' Fools, the Order sets this sort of trap for a ninja. As none of them can actually see the ninja and an unreliable poison gets thrown into the mix, the party proceeds to make a Schrödinger's Cat joke when the trap goes off.
Tarquin: I think we'll have a feast — no, a festival! In your honor! Three days and nights of merriment in the streets to welcome my long-lost son! Elan: With clowns? Tarquin: And jugglers! Elan: And clown-jugglers, who juggle tiny clowns? Tarquin: Of course!
In "The Path to Victory", as the Order goes through a secret tunnel, they pass through The Hall of Mysterious Runes, The Cavern of Very Easy Encounters, The Room with All the Spikes, The Chasm of Unnecessary Cliffs, The Tunnel with the Sort of Reddish Floor, The Passageway of Horrible Death for Other People... and The Corridor of Very Toxic Sulfur Fumes. (Which the team shakes off, anyway.)
Tsukiko: I know all about paladins, trust me. All they do is boss you around and tell you what you can't do. "Don't walk on the grass, don't litter, don't rape the cycle of life with your unclean power." Blah, blah, blah.
Tarquin's Keoghtum Extra Strength ointment uses magic as the active ingredient, and pretroleum jelly, glycerin, heart of a virgin collected on his/her wedding night, and fragrance as the inactive ingredients.
In Start of Darkness, Xykon delivers one to Dorukan all while he Energy Drains the wizard to death.
Shortly followed by one for Redcloak at the very end of Start of Darkness.
Redcloak to Miko in the main comic.
Later, Redcloak to O-Chul.
O-Chul then tries a heroic version on the Monster in the Darkness.
Xykon delivers an awesome one to V in "Second Chance". It has opposite the intended effect; Xykon tells Vaarsuvius exactly what the elf needs to hear at that moment to cause a moment of redemption — that power is not only found in spells, and that Vaarsuvius can still oppose Xykon despite not having any spells that could help. During all that talking, V decides to nab some healing potions and patch up the paladin O'Chul.
Breaking the Fellowship: Following the battle of Azure City, the party is split, and one is dead. They finally reunite over a hundred chapters (and several in-universe months) later.
When searching for the starmetal to get Roy's sword reforged, V gets polymorphed into a purple lizard, which V's familiar tries to catch. Blackwing (V's familiar) figures it out in comic #714, more than 500 strips later. The title implies that it was intentional.
Early in the comic Vaarsuvius tells Elan that as an elf, V only needs to take bathroom breaks every few weeks or so and Elan, being Elan, interprets that as V being a camel. It's referenced again, about 600 strips later.
At the end of comic #516, a wight asks if he can have the hypnotized Thanh's shoes. If you're paying entirely too much attention, you may notice that the wight is wearing his shoes in the next strip... and several strips later: "Where did my shoes go?"
Attempted in Start of Darkness when Lirian infects Xykon and his minions with a disease that robs them of their magic abilities. Unfortunately for her, Redcloak is immune thanks to the effects of the Crimson Mantle, and has just enough resources to transform Xykon in an undead, disease-immune lich.
A more temporary instance of this trope occurs when a dragon uses an anti-magic field against Vaarsuvius, turning him/her from a wizard into what the former describes as "a fragile, pointy-eared monkey" while the dragon is "...still a dragon."
Brown Note: Certain magical spells are perfectly capable of this — for example, Xykon used a "Symbol of Insanity" (on a super-bouncy ball) to turn an entire squad of paladin warriors against each other.
Xykon only remembers the day he killed Roy's dad's mentor as a really bad Laundry Night.
Xykon: Do you have any idea how many people I have killed in front of their loved ones? Could you narrow it down? Roy: Grrrr. His master's name was Fyron. He was a wizard who lived in Cliffport. You needed some sort of magical doodad that he owned, so you killed him and his son in cold blood. Xykon: Hmmm... more specific. MitD: You killed more than one guy named Fyron in Cliffport? Xykon: Five, actually. Roy: Gah! It was forty years ago! Xykon: More specific. Roy: In the spring? Xykon: More specific. Roy: On a Wednesday? Xykon: Oh! Right! Now I remember. Because it was Laundry Night, and I had trouble getting the blood out of my robes. Roy: Oh, that is IT!!
Or, as Xykon puts it later:
Xykon: Y'know, I've destroyed entire towns, and the worst I got from the surviving families were a few snarky comments. You, sir, have a serious problem with overreaction.
Double one from the prequel book Start of Darkness, when we see Redcloak's family visiting the Monster in the Darkness. Redcloak's youngest nephew has a Julio Scoundrél toy, and the MitD has a plush dragon.
One of the longest Call Backs: in #25, Elan assumes that since the less armor you wear, the less able enemies are to see you, if you're naked, you must be invisible. Years later in #665, Roy is resurrected and is completely naked — Elan exclaims, "You're invisible!"
From #766 to #90 ("I've got a 4!") and to #130 with the "elveny boots".
One would be a sort of Call Forward, since it shows up in a prequel book. In this comic, Roy makes a throwaway comment about only getting a C- in his Attacks of Opportunity class. In On the Origin of PCs, that's the class Roy is studying for when his dad shows up to tell him about the Blood Oath against Xykon.
From #779 to #202. Watch out for what the people with the lead sheet say!
#478 has V teaching Elan to create illusions of celestial creatures. In #805, Elan demonstrates what he's learned with an illusionary celestial tree sloth.
A shorter one, but in #727, Roy's hunch back in #691 pays off...
Redcloak's confrontation with Tsukiko in #830 is similar to Xykon's confrontation with Dorukan in Start of Darkness, with a one character exploiting a seemingly powerful one's weaknesses, giving a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to them, and then killing them ignominiously.
As a corollary, the only thing you have to say when you cast a spell is the name of the spell, leading to the incantation for Resurrection, which has a ten-minute casting time, being the word "resurrection!" repeated over and over for ten minutes.
Rule of thumb: if a prison is shown, someone will break out of it.
In a more literal example, most of the time while in Azure City, the Monster in the Darkness is seen within a prison cell, literally made from a cardboard box with a small window (with bars) cut into one side.
Tarquin counts too; he's quite conscious as his role of villain, even though he expresses contempt for the concept of "Good" and "Evil".
Cargo Cult: The orcs on the island worship... uh, Elan's hand-puppet, Banjo the Clown. And so does he. Also apparently one worshiper is enough for a said worshipper to request the ability to shoot out a small bolt of lightning to smite heathens (Elan does it to Roy; it does absolutely nothing).
Though they later worship Giggles the Clown, Banjo's equally fictional brother and God of Slapstick. This leads to the refugee fleet, as "Champions of Banjo", and the new worshippers of Giggles having a pie-eating contest, the "traditional" challenge that must be enacted between followers of the two hand-puppet gods. Of course, given how deific ascension works in the world (which is why Elan came up with Banjo in the first place), then there very likely is an actual (if very weak) Giggles the Clown deity now.
Cassandra Truth: #545 has O-Chul saying that Girard's Gate is protected by illusions and mazes. Redcloak thinks it's an obvious lie — and O-Chul encourages him to think that. We later find out O-Chul wasn't technically lying (while O-Chul didn't know what was protecting Girard's Gate, it's a logical conclusion based on what the Sapphire Guard knew of Girard's MO).
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.
The Cavalry: Julio Scoundrél appears out of nowhere to rescue the heroes from Tarquin.
Cerebus Retcon: The comic makes extensive use of this, often overlapping with Chekhov's Gun — things that seemed like one-off gags early in the comic's run come back later as serious plot elements. Notable examples:
Haley's greed. Originally used for jokes about the rogue conning her party out of extra treasure. It's eventually revealed that her father is being held for ransom, and she needs 200,000 gp to spring him.
Vaarsuvius' raven familiar, Blackwing. Originally invisible most of the time and more of a plot device than a character; used for jokes about how D&D mages ignore their familiars until they need them. He plays a crucial role in a temporary victory over the Big Bad, and becomes a fully realized character. Is now always visible as part of V's Character Development, and this throws V's earlier treatment of him into a somewhat harsher light.
In the first couple of arcs, Redcloak appears to be nothing more than Xykon's snarky right-hand goblin. In Start of Darkness, it's revealed that Redcloak killed his own brother to protect Xykon, and their apparently-lighthearted relationship only seems that way because Xykon promised never to remind Redcloak of what he did, as long as he follows orders.
Chainmail Bikini: In It Costs an Armor Leg", Durkon argues with a salesman about what constitutes "leather armor". He's told, "Women's leather armor pretty much amounts to any attractive outfit that has one or more leather items in it. I once sold a winsome young lass a leather headband that was more effective than plate."
In the cast page, Belkar is introduced as "the world's best tracker under four feet tall." As the strip moved on, his Stupid Evil nature was played up to the point where it turns out that he is a completely incompetent tracker, having spent all his skill points and feats on combat abilities (and gourmet cooking). Changing his alignment from Stupid Evil to Chaotic Evil also caused an enormous amount of Fan Dumb, as many believe the two to be the same.
The Monster in the Darkness started out as evil (just not very good at it), but has evolved into a good (or at least neutral) character being tricked and manipulated by his evil "friends".
Redcloak in his first couple of appearances was basically just a regular goblin with a fancy cloak, who kowtowed endlessly to Xykon and whose unlevel eyes didn't exactly scream intelligence. Fast forward a few hundred strips, and Redcloak is the quintessential Dragon with an Agenda, as well as the resident Only Sane Employee and Hypercompetent Sidekick, who claims to have been expertly manipulating Xykon from the beginning. Makes a bit more sense after Start of Darkness, which ends with Xykon brutally breaking Redcloak to his will and forcing him to abandon his holy mission, neatly explaining his period of dull subservience.
During the starmetal sidequest, Roy was perfectly willing to abandon Elan to a bandit party without so much as a second glance, only being talked around by the others' unilateral insistence on rescuing The Heart. Including Belkar ("he makes me laugh") and Vaarsuvius, who would later become the go-to advocate of Shoot the Dog.
Charm Person: It's a D&D-based trope, so of course this is here. Striking general example is Nale hypnotizing Belkar; he can't make Belkar kill the Order and give their magic items to him, but Nale is able to make Belkar try to kill the Order and keep their magic items for himself... while singing showtunes...
In "Potionomics", Vaarsuvius attempts to explain to some potion sellers why they shouldn't sell their stock at a loss, but ultimately gives up and takes advantage of their stupidity by buying 27 Potions of Heroism. 300 comics later, they show up again, and come into play several strips after that.
V's Exploding Runes are a running gag in his prank war with Belkar, but in "Flight of the Phylactery" they are exactly the spell he needs at a crucial moment.
It's a Running Gag that Belkar is the worst ranger ever, and his supposed class ability to influence the behaviour of animals (Wild Empathy) is mentioned twice as just such gags. Much later, he gets an Androcles Lion moment with the Allosaurus he'd earlier released into the gladiator pit.
The Monster in the Darkness, which enjoys Power Rangers, tea parties and eating adventurers whole.
Thog, a half-orc barbarian with low intelligence who helps Elan's Evil Twin Nale murder innocents by the dozens — but loves nothing in life more than ice cream, rocket skates, and puppies. Probably because of this, he and Elan get along really well.
Also Odin, the leader of the Northern Pantheon.
Thor shows this occasionally as well, though mainly when he is drunk or about to be. Which is about everytime we see him.
Lampshaded in regards to dragons; also the Trope Namer.
Everything related to Azure City. The city itself is completely blue, including most of the buildings, the town wall and even the ships in the port. The regulars in the army wear silver and blue armor, and the paladins, white and blue. Many characters, e.g. Hinjo, even have blue hair. And anything related to Kubota is purple.
It's to the point where if a paladin falls from grace, his or her clothes immediately change color from blue to brown, due to them being magical items that lose power when not on a paladin in good standing.
Durkon — white; (turns to red once he becomes a vampire)
Elan — blue;
Redcloak — dark red;
Xykon — dark grey;
Nale — yellow;
Zz'dtri — green;
Hilgya — orange;
Leeky — brown;
Pompey — violet;
Julia — green;
Eugene — pale green;
Samantha — purple;
Tsukiko — indigo and blue (due to her being able to, as a Mystic Theurge, cast both arcane and divine spells);
Sapphire Guard members and Azurite clerics — standardized light blue;
Malack — grey;
Celia — white;
Miron — dirt brown.
Combat Pragmatist: Haley has no issues with ambushing and killing her arch-enemy Crystal, the assassin, while she's in the shower, unarmed and not wearing any armor or magic items. Followed, naturally, by looting all of said equipment. This scene comes off a lot less cold-blooded if you have read the prequel On the Origin of the PCs and the supplemental pages in Don't Split the Party that were cut out of the online comic for reasons of pacing but put back in for the printed edition. The extra strips reveal that Crystal was more than eager to hurt and kill Haley, and she and Bozzok were still planning to secretly murder Haley, despite the truce.
Compelling Voice: Haley gets this when she consumes a potion of glibness, giving her already huge bluff score an extra +30. She tells a guard that he's actually a yellow-footed rock wallaby, and he immediately hops off to find a wizard to polymorph him "back".
The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Tarquin's ninth wife died of "mysterious circumstances" (Elan: Not another one! When will they find a cure!?). Which turns out to be a subversion — Tarquin really has no idea how she died, although he's confident she was murdered by somebody. As it turns out, she was caught up in the effect of Familicide.
Roy delivers several of these to goblins V put to sleep with an overly long and boring boast about how s/he was much more powerful than anything they could imagine. It was so long and boring that it put Elan and Belkar to sleep as well.
Crystal attempts to do one to an unconscious Haley, but she's interrupted.
Covers Always Lie: The cover for Start of Darkness shows Xykon as a lich killing a paladin before his first encounter with Redcloak — while in the story proper, he wasn't yet undead when this happened. Lampshaded on the last page of the book:
MitD: Wait — the scene on the cover didn't happen that way. Demon-roach: Welcome to show business, kid.
At one point, Belkar beheads Yikyik the kobold and wears his head as a hat. He later uses the head of Yokyok, the son of the first kobold, as a tortilla bowl.
Roy initially wanted to wear Xykon's teeth as a necklace in case of a victory, but after the lich was blown to bits, he settled on Xykon's crown.
Gannji the lizardfolk mentions that keeping a Creepy Souvenir is common amongst ogres. So, when his friend Enor (an ogre/blue dragon hybrid) is forced to kill him, Gannji suggest he'd keep his tail as trophy in order to resurrect him later.
Also, Malack tells Elan he would pay handsomely for Nale's skull to adorn his study.
Tsukiko's death. Life-drained by her own wights, followed by being eaten, bones and all by those same wights. They then eat each other in order of creation, and the last one incinerate itself.Killed Off for Real indeed.
Inverted and parodied in "The Elf Who Cried Raven" — when V finally remembers the familiar and claims that Blackwing was "there all along" in their past adventures, none of the others believe it. Despite previously being the ones who had to remind V of its existence.
Played straight in "Getting the Message". As Belkar reports Durkon's death and being turned into a vampire, Roy almost immediately calls him out on it being one of his sick jokes. Combined with Roy simply not wanting to believe it.
Cue the Flying Pigs: In Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales, to lampshade "the power of abandoned verisimiltude".
Cedrik: Although, as providers, it would be remiss not to warn you that the Soul Splice has been known to trigger feelings of pure omnipotence. Nero: You may also experience some slight dizziness from the rush of unprecedented arcane power.
Curse That Cures: Xykon. It is revealed in the prequel Start of Darkness that he became a lich, under Redcloak's suggestion, to escape a magical disease that was preventing him from using his sorcerer magic. Also, they were prisoners of a powerful druid and had little other options for escaping.
What started as a killing of a young adult black dragon escalated when the black dragon's parent tried to torture Vaarsuvius' family to death, which led directly to V killing one quarter of the world's population of black dragons, which seems to have irked Tiamat (the Goddess of chromatic dragons).
Also, the ongoing war between humans and goblins. As stated in the third book's commentary (partial paraphrase), "Each side only remembers their last defeat at the hands of the other."