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The Order Of The Stick: Tropes A-C
Tropes A-C | Tropes D-F | Tropes G-I | Tropes J-L | Tropes M-O | Tropes P-R | Tropes S-U | Tropes V-Z

The Order of the Stick provides examples of the following tropes:

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    A 
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • Xykon can't remember Roy's name. Really, he doesn't remember Roy at all.
    • Vaarsuvius had trouble remembering the... "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 Murder: Or in this case, Accidental Mass-Murder — Familicide. In addition to the very much intended deaths of one quarter of the world's black dragons, Vaarsuvius also accidentally wiped out the entire Draketooth family (being descended from the union of a human and one of those dragons), and everyone connected to the Draketooth clan (including Tarquin's ninth wife).
  • Action Girl: Haley; Kazumi; Therkla; Miko; Lien. (There's a T-shirt.)
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Explained. If rich adventurers are in town, the merchants take advantage.
  • Aerith and Bob: "My name is Kodrog the Slayer, and this is my buddy Jim." (See Fourth Wall Mail Slot.)
  • Adult Fear:
    • The Ancient Black Dragon invokes this when she tries to eat V's children. V already unknowingly invoked this trope on her. She left her teenage son alone for a few months, and returned to discover he had been killed.
  • Affably Evil: Several kinds.
    • 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 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.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Tsukiko is an unsympathetic character, but when Redcloak takes control of her wights, she loses the only thing she 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.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: The Empire of Blood takes this view.
    • 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.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Inverted/Parodied in "We Recommend Tsukiko". It seems All Bad Girls Want Good Boys.
    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.
  • Alliterative Name: Belkar Bitterleaf; Miko Miyazaki; Kazumi Kato; Daigo Da—
  • all lowercase letters:
    • most orcs talk like this. It seems to be related to the INT score. Lampshaded in the last panel of this page where the orcs look forward to grammar lessons.
    • 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.
  • All Trolls Are Different: While the comic itself uses standard D&D trolls, this trope is lampshaded with the debates over the creation of the world.
    Thor: I think trolls should be hardworking blacksmiths, toiling away underground forging magical weapons.
    Hades: No! Trolls should be vile monsters, living under bridges and harassing goats!
    Pig: You're both wrong! Trolls should be tiny wrinkled men with big poofy hair that are collected by old women!
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • Xykon attacks Azure City and takes over.
    • Redcloak infiltrates the base of the Azure City Resistance thanks to a polymorphed spy.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The effect of Soul Splice; a number of souls are spliced to the user and the user then acquires all the powers of each one.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Averted, subverted, inverted, doubly inverted, perverted, extraverted, and, just occasionally, played straight. Most often doubly inverted when a villain delivers a Break Them by Talking on how the hero is Not So Different and then immediately Kicks a Dog.

    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 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 is 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. V's children are adopted. Make no assumptions; for all we know they could be a same-sex couple. This is 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. This is 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 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.
  • And I Must Scream: Durkon's soul is trapped in his own undead body which is under the control of another.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Spoofed.
    Elan: Ohhhh. Thanks, Vaarsuvius. Now I know.
    Vaarsuvius: And knowing is half the battle.
    G.I. Joe: G.I. Joe!
  • 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 recognises 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 That Would Be Wrong: Invoked by V a lot to reassure the Order that he would not resolve his arguements with explosions or rain death on others in retaliation of social indignaties.
  • And Your Little Dog Too:
  • 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. (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.
  • Angrish:
    • When Haley's looted dragon treasure got blown up, she became aphasic, and spent a whole arc speaking gibberish.
    • 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.
  • Annoying Arrows: Three arrows is, like, one healing potion.
  • Answer Cut: When Tarquin says that anyone except Elan would have wanted Nale dead, the comic cuts to Nale's lover Sabine, who has smashed Lee's scrying TV in anger.
  • Answering Echo: A slight variant is used in "The Pit of Despair" to pile yet more guilt on Vaarsuvius. Nothing like a corpse accusing you to make you freak out.
  • Anthropomorphic Food: "A Brief Intermission" shows a battle between the traditional movie snack foods and a set of challengers.
  • Anticlimax:
    • Done intentionally and hilariously in "Headed Down", the 600th comic (forum). Roy and his grandfather talk about the effect; nothing exciting for the 600th page. (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.
    • Played for drama with the end of the Tarquin arc. Tarquin and his party are defeated, but live, and he rages uselessly at the lack of narrative closure.
  • 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!
  • Anti-Human Alliance: The forces under Redcloak are united by their hatred of and oppression by humans.
  • 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.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • (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 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.
  • Army of the Dead:
    • Xykon led an Army of the Dead against Azure City in the first place. Undead Dragon and all. Then he re-animates the dead of both sides to increase his numbers.
    • 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, founder of the Sapphire Guard!
  • 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. Much later, Haley takes advantage of this with two arrows aimed at Tarquin's face while he is hanging onto the side of a flying ship.
  • 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.
  • Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Nale and Sabine's relationship contains a fair amount of this. When they genuinely do fight, it's usually out of a failure to Do Wrong, Right.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • 26 unpleasant things that happen (or nearly happen) in Start of Darkness: Murder, Kidnapping, Trespassing, Zombification, Maiming, Foul Language, Defenestration, Squishy Hugs, Cannibalism, Blasphemy, Inebriation, Verbal Abuse, Blind Dating, Extortion, Fraud, Lies (and statistics), Depilation, Brain Damage, Arson, Betrayal, False Advertising, Running Gags, Rules Lawyering, Disintegration, Tampering with the Fabric of Reality, Taco Night.
    • Guild arena used for ritual combat, coming-of-age sacrifices, and as mosh pit for local alternative rock bands.
    • Belkar's cover story:
      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."
    • There's another significant upgrade at the beginning of the sixth arc, although the characters haven't commented on that one. Compare Roy and Durkon from #946 to Roy and Durkon from #948
  • Artistic License - Animal Care: While Lord Shojo might be good with cats, his carelessness with his nephew's wolf led to some serious dental work. (Though that might have been on purpose, given that said wolf's silver fillings now make his bite extra-effective against devils.)
    Hinjo: A 20-lb. tub of strawberry cake frosting does not qualify as a "table scrap"!
    Shojo: Then you obviously haven't been eating at the right tables!
  • Art Shift:
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Daigo and Kazumi Kato. Their progression from Red Shirts to Mauve Shirts is lampshaded when they invoke the trope Nominal Importance, and they continue to gain importance from there, both in-universe (being risen to nobility) and in the narrative.
    • Celia's case is especially glorious. She started as a mere gate guardian NPC and became the main character's girlfriend.
  • Ascended Meme: It's a running joke among Dungeons & Dragons fans that, due to a quirk of the 3.x Edition ruleset, a housecat will more often than not kill a Level 1 Commoner in a straight-up fight. One strip is even called, "The Duel Everyone's Been Waiting For".
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Standard Azure City naming protocol. Miko claims she doesn't know what 'japan' is but all the names sound like it.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority:
    • Why Qarr the imp tries to attach itself to V; in the lower planes, everyone glues their lips to someone stronger than they are.
    • Averted with the Sapphire Guard, though not at the time of their founding. Soon was a mighty paladin but his successors follow bloodline.
  • 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.
  • As You Know
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses:
    Belkar: I AM A SEXY SHOELESS GOD OF WAR!!!
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!:
    • The paladins have an aversion to retreating because of their honor combined with their inability to feel fear, which lands them up in trouble often.
    • Thieves eventually realize this isn't working and defy it in "Flank Cut".
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: "Cursing the Darkness". "Back into the darkness! BACK INTO THE DARKNESS!!"
  • Automaton Horses:
    • 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.
  • Avengers Assemble: Towards the end of "Blood Runs in the Family", once it's become clear Elan and the Order are not going to defeat Tarquin, we see Amun-Zora (the captain from the Free City of Doom) assembling a rebel alliance out of Tarquin's other enemies.
  • Avenging the Villain:
    • Yokyok only joined the Linear Guild to kill Belkar for killing his father.
    • The Ancient Black Dragon hunts V down for killing her son.
    • Tarquin kills Nale for murdering his best friend.
  • 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.

    B 
  • Back for the Dead: Julio Scoundrél sincerely hoped never to cross paths with Elan again for precisely this reason, and later refuses a call to adventure from Elan on this basis. When he does show up again he makes it out alive while calling out the trope.
  • Back from the Dead: Pretty much anyone who's got a friendly cleric with a Raise Dead spell nearby, including the Oracle, Roy, and Jirix.
  • Badass Normal: Many characters who kick ass without any intrinsic magical ability.
    • Roy refused to become a wizard despite his father's urging and became a fighter instead.
    • Haley is an archer with non-magical "SNEAK ATTACK!"
    • Thog is pure orcish strength.
    • Kazumi and Daigo are ordinary City Guards; they're not even paladins and yet they survived The Siege of Azure City.
    • Belkar counts despite the fact that as a ranger he could theoretically use spells. Because he has a Wisdom score normally reserved for lemmings he doesn't.
    • Tarquin fought the entire Order of the Stick and was only stopped by Malack because his companion was sick of him toying with them.
  • Bar Brawl:
    • Check. Rowdy patrons and everything.
    • 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.
  • The Bard on Board:
    • Snips, Snails and Dragon Tales includes a re-telling of Hamlet with Roy as the titular prince and Xykon as King Xlaudius, titled The Tragedy of Greenhilt.
    • A bonus comic produced for Kickstarter backers retells Romeo and Juliet with the roles Gender Flip]ed for "Haleo" and "Julelan".
  • 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 true 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."
  • Batman Gambit: The Three Fiends gave Vaarsuvius supreme power, expecting that the elf would attack Xykon and "knock him out of his comfort zone." It worked beautifully.
  • Battle Trophy:
    • 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.
  • Beach Episode: A non-canon one in the "Beach Party" wallpaper.
  • Beam-O-War: Dark Vaarsuvius and Xykon have a brief one during their magical duel.
  • Bearer of Bad News: Belkar in "Getting the Message", regarding Durkon being vamped. Roy... does not take it well.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: The Thieves Guild runs a dogfighting ring.
    • Tarquin has an Allosaur, and indications that he has other creatures, including lions, that he'll throw in the ring.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • So you want to protect yourself and your family from a vendetta by obliterating the whole adverse lineage? Just be sure some part of it doesn't guard a place critical for the survival of the world you and your companions are trying to save. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
    • Nale wishes to be free from Tarquin's nepotism. After granting his wish, Tarquin points out that anyone other than his son would have been executed for killing Malack.
  • Because I'm Good At It: Two examples
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge: Happens a few times to Belkar.
    • In strip #247, Haley is struck with aphasia and so can't talk Belkar into shutting it as he's about to tell Elan her feelings. However, a boot to the face is enough to convey the message more clearly.
      Belkar: Objection noted.
    • Also in strip #379, Roy kicks Belkar so that the halfling doesn't join the already-embarrassing conversation.
  • Berserk Button:
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: Lampshade Hanging is used constantly in the comic. Which is itself lampshaded in "O-Chul's Razor".
  • Better Than Sex: Belkar describes a certain Spice thusly;
    Belkar: It's like you crystallized the best sex you've ever had with a woman and put it in a tiny bottle on your spice rack. No, wait, it's like you took that spice and snorted it while screwing her hotter sister. In front of her.
  • 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 (again) 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.
  • Beyond the Impossible:
    • Talking strategy to Xykon can put the undead sorcerer to sleep.
      Xykon: Oh, sorry, I just fell asleep right in the middle of that.
      Redcloak: You're a lich, you're actually physically incapable of sleeping.
      Xykon: Which should just emphasize how boring that was.
    • In strip #794, Elan seduced a succubus. As in demon who is, by her own admission, an evil incarnation of illicit sex.
    • Talking Is a Free Action in the OOTS world. This is the basis for jokes. However, Vaarsuvius once managed to take up a turn by saying something particularly verbose.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Xykon, the Dark One as represented by his Dragon Redcloak, who pretends to be Xykon's Dragon and the IFCC Directors are the main players, along with Kubota, Nale, and Tarquin in the role of Big Bad Wannabes and the Snarl as a Bigger Bad. Xykon's the one the protagonists are most concerned with, though, because he's the most active and they don't know about some of these. The end of Book 5 adds yet another major villain, in the "they don't know about them" category — the Northern goddess Hel, who is manipulating the Order via the spirit controlling Vampire!Durkon.
  • Big Damn Fire Exit: Lampshaded in Dorukan's Dungeon.
    EXIT. Use in case of imminent explosion.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
  • Big Damn Kiss: Literally, as it gets a splash panel all to itself.
  • Big Damn Villains: Nale kills off Malack just when the Order most lacks a means to do so.
  • Bigger Bad:
    • 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. Blackwing's vision of the inside of the rift shows that things may be more complicated...
    • The IFCC is somewhere above Xykon and below the Snarl. They're playing a much longer game that will ultimately result in storming the Good aligment planes and are less interested in the "Snarl Gate" plotline then the conflict that it generates.
    • 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.
  • Big "NO!":
  • Big "WHAT?!": From Eugene.
    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?
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • 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 translate to "NO SECRET MESSAGE".
  • Black Bead Eyes: Standard, although some characters do have colored eyes.
  • 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.
  • Blah Blah Blah:
  • 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.
  • Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: The hobgoblins and gouda.
  • 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 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).
  • Blowing a Raspberry:
  • Booby Trap: One of Vaarsuvius's favorite spells? Explosive Runes! It even gives a defeated Vaarsuvius one last laugh against Xykon — "Guess what spell I cast before giving this to the bird" in "Flight of the Phylactery".
  • Boogie Knights: "Dancing Knights", more like. It wasn't as funny for the Goblin Cleric wwho cast it by mistake.
  • Bound and Gagged:
    • 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. 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 Schrodingers Cat joke when the trap goes off.
  • Brain Bleach:
  • Brainwashed and Crazy:
    • Nale does this to Belkar at one point... then again, he is crazy already. The brainwashing is more of a redirection.
    • He tries it again later, but it backfires because Belkar had been deafened by Durkon's Holy Word, and couldn't hear Nale's orders.
      Belkar: HEY ROY I THINK THEY USED SOME KIND OF SILENCE SPELL!
      Roy: It's not a bug, it's a feature.
    • Tsukiko dominating Thanh the paladin. No, not that kind of domination.
    • Belkar (again!) due to Malack's vampiric gaze.
  • Brass Balls:
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    • "And It Will Never Work Again"
      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!
    • What Roy thinks Belkar's "perfect world" dream was about. It's actually about living with Lord Shojo and his cat.
      Roy: I'm sure it involved a lot of stabbing, and whores, and whores stabbing whores who stab whores.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    • 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.)
    • Tsukiko in "No Scry Zone".
      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.
  • Break Them by Talking:
    • 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. It broke him enough that he accepted the role of Xkyon's Number Two.
    • 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. In other words, a You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech delivered in th same manner and for the same purpose (break them out of a certain mindset).
    • Xykon delivers 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.
  • Brick Joke:
  • Bring It:
  • Broken Heel: Discussed by Haley when she finds herself uncomfortably in the role of "fleeing horror-movie bimbo" after being caught unawares in a fight with Tsukiko. "I swear, if I randomly fall down and break the heel of my boot, I'm going to find Wes Craven and kick his ass."
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: The first time Roy fought Xykon and won, it cost him his sword.
  • Brought Down to Normal:
    • 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 temporary instance of this trope occurs when a dragon uses an anti-magic field. It turns Vaarsuvius 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 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.
  • Buffy Speak:
    Monster in the Darkness: ...everyone here tells me that I'm as dumb as things that are really dumb.

    Redcloak: ...we didn't know the gate was guarded by a legion of ghost... things.

    Haley: My brain feels like a psion... did some psiony stuff.

    Miron: Oh, that reminds me: the Weeping King loves that splashy butt-washing thing she installed for him.
    Tarquin: A bidet, Miron. It's called a bidet.
  • Bullfight Boss: Roy vs. Thog — while he doesn't quite get the hang of the "dodging" part, he uses Thog's strength to bring the ceiling down on him.
  • Buried Alive: Lirian seals Xykon and his forces in an airtight cave following their defeat in her forest.
  • Busman's Holiday: Lampshaded in "A Brief Tribute", in memory of Gary Gygax.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday:
    • 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.
    • He is definitely trying to get a rise out of someone in "Negative Feelings":
      Xykon: Hey! Paladin dude! Do you know what the best part about killing the entire Sapphire Guard was? Neither do I. I wasn't actually paying attention when I did it.
    • Thog also doesn't care much about the people he kills, although that might be simple stupidity on his part.
  • But He Sounds Handsome: Known to indulge in this:
    • Belkar, disguised as a fellow medium-sized creature.
    • Nale, disguised as Elan, and complimenting himself.

    C 
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": The adventure game based on the comic uses the term "wound", but the comic uses "HP".
  • Call Back:
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
  • Calling Your Attacks: Almost every combat ability other than moving and basic attacks.
  • Canis Latinicus:
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Haley's attraction to Elan. Until "Truth".
  • Cardboard Prison: Rule of thumb: if a prison is shown, someone will break out of it.
    • Roy is aware of this trope and that's why he doesn't want to chance leaving Belkar in one. After all, he escaped from Azure City's jail.
    • Miko, Nale, Sabine and Thog escape from the Azure City dungeon thanks to the invasion.
    • Elan and Thog escape from Cliffport with little difficulty.
    • 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. Considering his strength, of course, it would make no difference whether the prison was steel or cardboard; he's just staying inside because doing otherwise would be rude.
  • Card-Carrying Villain:
    • Xykon is proud to be "Capital E evil".
    • The Linear Guild, literally.
    • Tarquin counts too; he's 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... Elan's hand-puppet, Banjo the Clown. So does he. Also 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. 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 a genuine (if very weak) Giggles the Clown deity now.
  • Carpet of Virility: Enriqué, Roy's mother's Latin Lover; also Tarquin.
  • Carrying the Antidote: Elan assumes this is the case, and is mocked. Why would anyone do that instead of taking it themselves?
  • 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).
    • Tarquin tells Elan that his late(st) wife died of "mysterious circumstances". Sure, Elan takes it at face value, but the audience certainly didn't. Except Tarquin is telling the truth; he has no part in Penelope's death, and no clue how it could have happened.
    • Belkar's tendency to screw with people got him disbelieved at first when he bore the bad news of Durkon's vampirization.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: It's very common for the players and NPCs alike to exchange casual comments and witty banter in battle. Mixed with Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness for V:
    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.
  • Catapult Nightmare: "Running Away" reveals that true reason V hasn't tranced for months: he's plagued by Bad Dreams about all the people from Azure City that died because he lacked the power to save them.
  • Catapult to Glory: Instead of rocks, Redcloak uses Titanium elementals.
  • Cat Folk: One of Tarquin's adventuring partners, Jacinda. Per the usual Animal Stereotypes, she seems to be the team's rogue.
  • The Cavalry: Julio Scoundrél, and his airship crew, 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. Afterward he's always visible as part of V's Character Development, and this throws V's earlier treatment of him into a 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.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Lampshaded and played with. Plot lines get more complex and darker as the series continues, but the awesome one-liners and constant lampshading never stop. Characters are aware of this and complain about it, with V blaming Cerebus himself.
  • 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."
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • 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 he became an incompetent tracker, having spent all his skill points and feats on combat abilities (and gourmet cooking).
    • The Monster in the Darkness started out as evil (barely), 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 a regular goblin with a fancy cloak, who kowtowed endlessly to Xykon and whose unlevel eyes didn't 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.
  • Character Death:
    • Several characters (major and minor) die during the course of the story, but resurrection spells mean that someone could be revived every day of the week provided a sufficiently powerful cleric and enough diamond dust. However, there are still a number of ways to make death permanent.
    • When Celia was a Guest Star Party Member in the Order of the Stick, this trope was the source of conflict with her and Haley, because of the differing views humans and slyphs have about death.
  • 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...
  • Chased by Angry Natives: During the exile of the Azurites they are chased by the orcs of an island.
  • Chekhov's Gag:
  • Chekhov's Gun: All over the place. More of a Chekhov's Armoury, really.
    • The pendant Celia gives to Roy. Double Subverted: it first appears to be a Red Herring, but it turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun for Celia's reappearance in the fourth arc.
    • The voucher Roy got for Elan, which was good for one boon from Shojo.
    • Not to mention the Boots of Elvenkind and the Bag of Tricks.
    • From the same series, but even more plot-important than the boots or the bag, Belkar's Ring of Jumping +20. It helps him escape from Azure City prison and indirectly causes Roy's death.
    • And Xykon's headband allowing him to Cloister Azure City.
    • The Girdle of Femininity/Masculinity that Elan takes from a defeated ogre.
    • The Ylang-Ylang moisturizer Haley purchased earlier from Aton helps Belkar lead Roy to her kidnapper.
    • In comic #422, Vaarsuvius uses Protection from Arrows on hirself. In comic #436 it gets put to use.
    • Redcloak's unspecified spell as he walks in his room, which you might not even notice he used? Command Undead.
    • Vaarsuvius' Familicide during the Soul Splice comes back to haunt him/her when the entire Draketooth family was killed through the spell. One of the dragon's family members crossbred with a human.
    • The ritual (or rather, half-ritual) that Tsukiko confronted Redcloak about and got herself killed over is in fact first seen in strip #700.
    • The use of lead sheets to block magical identification. Belkar uses it to prevent Miko from proving he is Evil, and later Niu uses it in a humorous Call Back to prevent a hobgoblin cleric from detecting the good-aligned resistance members in Azure City. And Girard used it in a brilliant double-bluff to conceal the true location of his gate.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
  • Chekhov's Skill:
  • Cherry Tapping:
    • Xykon does it to O-Chul, knocking him below zero hit points with a Ray of Frost (a cantrip that does 1d3 points of damage).
    • Belkar does it to Crystal, first toying with her, then leaving her alive but humiliated, not wanting to steal Haley's kill.
  • Chess with Death: Or rather, Wet T-shirt Contest with Death.
    Death: ... I'll get the hose.
  • Cigar Chomper: The CPPD Chief, because it's what someone in his role does.
  • Circling Birdies:
  • Citadel City: Azure City was the capital of a wealthy and strategically-placed nation. Therefore, significant investment was made to make it a tough nut to crack. The ruling body shored up the defences even more, particularly with that big honking castle, when a hole in reality leading to a god-killing abomination was discovered over the city.
  • Clean Cut: Many attacks with slashing weapons against Mooks result in this.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Elan's genre savvy comes off as inane babbling, and he has odd ideas like "naked=invisible".
    • The Monster in the Darkness 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. He likes puppets (and thus was ready to ascend Banjo) and puppies.
      Odin: Ooooo, doggie!
      Thor: Dad, don't pet it, you don't know where it's been.
    • Thor shows this occasionally, though mainly when he is drunk or about to be — which is about everytime we see him.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • Redcloak to O-Chul, ostensibly for information.
    • Xykon to O-Chul, just for fun.
    • When his winning personality isn't enough, this appears to be how Tarquin "convinces" women to marry him.
    • After finding out that Yukyuk shot Mr. Scruffy, Belkar decides to turn him into the cat's new litter box but without killing him first.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Lampshaded in regards to dragons; also the Trope Namer.
    • Everything related to Azure City. The city itself is 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. 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.
      MitD: I know! Murky and Lurky must have stolen her colors!
    • Despite being an Azure City noble, Kubota is wearing purple. So are all his retainers, and his junk is colored purple too. This represents both his wealth and power, and his detachment from the regime of the Sapphire Guard.
    • It's implied (particularly in Start of Darkness) that the hierarchical ranks of the Dark One's clerics are indicated by cloak color. For instance, white cloaks are issued to the newly-ordained.
  • Color-Coded Wizardry: All spellcasters have a distinctive colored aura when casting spells:
    • Vaarsuvius — pink;
    • 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;
    • Celia — white;
    • 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;
    • Laurin — yellow;
    • 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.
  • Combat Tentacles: Evan's Spiked Tentacles of Forced Intrusion.
    Trigak: Wait, what?
  • Come Back to Bed, Honey: Jenny, the bard in the Rogue's Guild, to Belkar.
    Jenny: [draped in a Modesty Bedsheet] Hurry back to bed, I'm feeling rested for another encounter.
    Belkar: Go ahead and start a solo adventure, I'll be in to join the quest when I'm done eating.
  • Compelling Voice: Haley gets this when she consumes a potion of glibness, giving her already huge bluff score an extra +30. She tells a human guard that he's actually a yellow-footed rock wallaby, and he immediately hops off to find a wizard to polymorph him "back".
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: "There's only one ninja left, that means I'm death incarnate!"
  • Continuity Nod: Full of them. Of particular note is the Test of the Mind when Haley returns to the Oracle's valley; the "truth and lie" creatures immediately tell her the correct path rather than face another arrow to the foot. The continuity of OotS is generally very well kept.
  • Continuity Snarl: While the comic doesn't contradict itself, the gods did. This the underpinnings of the comic's plot.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Elan bumping into Julio Scoundrél, who just happens to have an airship that just happens to be going exactly the way he wants to go. Elan points out how unlikely it is, which Julio counters with the Law of Conservation of Detail — if it hadn't progressed the plot, their conversation wouldn't be included in the strip.
  • Cool Sword:
    • Roy's sword has been handed down from his grandfather, and may be older than that. After it was broken, Roy is told it's made of starmetal and can't be reforged without it. Turns out that's not true, but now that it is reforged as starmetal alloy it is magical and does greater damage to undead, such as Xykon, and it glows green whenever this power activates.
    • Elan is given a keen silver rapier by Julio Scounrél, and later off the dashing hero's own Chaos Sabre.
  • Cool Teacher: Fyron was this to Eugene Greenhilt, which is why he was so devastated when Xykon killed him.
  • Cooperation Gambit: Therkla the half-orc ninja tries to find a compromise between Hinjo (or rather Elan; she's still happy to assassinate Hinjo) and her master Daimyo Kubota's agendas (albeit because she had a crush on Elan). Kubota kills her so he can use her as a scapegoat.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Tarquin's ninth wife died of "mysterious circumstances". ("Not another one! When will they find a cure!?") This turns out to be a subversionTarquin really has no idea how she died, although he's confident she was murdered by somebody. She was caught up in the effect of V's Familicide.
  • Coup de Grâce:
    • 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.
    • Vampire!Durkon does one to Zz'dtri by Neck Snap.
  • 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. This is 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.
  • Crack Fic: Lampshaded by Xykon in "Villainy Afoot".
  • Crazy-Prepared:
  • Creepy Souvenir:
    • 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 fight him, Gannji suggests that Enor kill him and keep his tail as a trophy in order to resurrect him later.
    • Malack tells Elan he would pay handsomely for Nale's skull to adorn his study.
  • Cross Referenced Titles:
    • "Belkar Unleashed" and "Belkar Leashed".
    • "The Semi-Secret Origin of Elan and Nale" and "The Significantly-More-Secret Origin of Tarquin and Nale".
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Implosion. Brr. Also on that page, someone getting torn in half by a devil.
    • Tsukiko's death. Life-drained by her own wights, followed by being eaten, bones and all by those same wights. They then ate each other in order of creation, and the last one incinerate itself. Killed Off for Real indeed.
  • Crying Wolf:
    • 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. This is 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. This is 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".
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Minor one in "Standardized Testing". The three barbarians can taste the concrete.
    • "Smash" is a good example for why you shouldn't piss off the barbarian half-orc.
    • Vaarsuvius gives a thorough one to the parent of the black dragon he killed earlier, and a quarter of all the black dragons in the world, with one spell.
  • Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: It certainly didn't do Mijung any good when she poked her nose (figuratively) into a rift in reality. However, had she not, Soon and the Order of the Scribble would have been unable to do more careful examinations and discover the truth about the Snarl. Similarly, as portrayed in Start of Darkness, the Dark One only found out about the Snarl when a goblin got too close and was killed.
  • Curse Cut Short:
  • Cursed with Awesome: Deliberatly invoked by the IFCC with their disclaimers for their Deal with the Devil.
    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 few other options for escaping.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Exploited by Roy in "A Man, a Dwarf, and a Kitty" to take out the guards of a bandit camp.
  • Cutting the Knot: Lampshaded in "The Test of the Mind".
    Vaarsuvius: Gordium called — they have a knot that you may want to take a look at.
  • Cycle of Revenge:
    • 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).
    • 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."


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