On one side we've got Roy's mission to kill Xykon (initially because of the Blood Oath he inherited from his father and subsequently to save the world), Haley earning her father's ransom (except her father was actually taken on the orders of the Thieves' Guild, and unknowingly ratted out by her uncle, who was trying to secure the freedom of his son) and Durkon's 'mission' in the human lands (essentially an exile). More recently there's Belkar feigning character development to better serve his needs, V atoning for the Familicide spell, and The High Priest of Hel possessing Durkon working for, well, Hel.
On the other alignment, Xykon wants to control the Snarl... but so does his "servant" Redcloak (on behalf of the Dark One and goblinkind), the Inter-Fiend Cooperation Commission, Nale and the Linear Guild, and possibly Tarquin.
Tarquin wants Elan to be a worthy hero to topple him and end his story (/ reign of terror) in a narratively satisfying way.
The characters usually don't get a chance to take advantage of such, but strip #767, in which Haley uses a potion of Glibness, is an exception. Enterprising players have noticed that, according to the Rules as Written, a Bluff check roll of 20 or better can convince people of some really ridiculous things — and Glibness gives a whopping +30 to Bluff checks!note For those who don't know the rules: The penalty to a Bluff check for a lie that is literally impossible to believe is -20. Glibness, again, gives +30. A character under its effects and with even a single rank in Bluff can claim to be the moon and will, more often than not, be believed. Haley has a lot of ranks in Bluff.
The homebrewed spell Familicide, which kills everyone related by blood to the target, and then kills everyone related by blood to ''those'' people. Vaarsuvius gets access to it when his soul is spliced with that of the damned necromancer who created the spell, and a single casting kills a quarter of the black dragons in the world... plus any Half-Human Hybrids descended from them. Which included the entire Draketooth family. Whoops. However, due to the precise requirements of the casting, It Only Works Once.
In-universe, Tarquin states that bards are underpowered because by rights their sheer Genre Savvy should let them rule the world. Later in the story, his own attempts to use Genre Savvy to his advantage illustrate precisely why this isn't the case.
For example, Tsukiko is a Mystic Theurge, which means she should have very high Intelligence and Wisdom scores to cast both wizard and cleric spells, yet she is regularly outsmarted and makes some very, very foolish decisions. Probably justified since she's also insane, and Sanity Has Advantages.
Miko's Monk 2/Paladin x Two Weapon Fighting build would be absolutely pathetic in an actual game. Miko manages to do pretty well in combat.
Then again, most of the builds are pretty craptastic. Like Belkar's halfling, dual-wielding ranger with really low wisdom. Or V specializing in evocation and banning necromancy and conjuration. While they both have their moments of weakness, they tend to do okay most of the time.
Genre Savvy: Displayed by most characters at some point or another. Most notably:
Elan. Though his genre-guided predictions are contradicted on occasion by subversions, Elan's sense of drama is surprisingly useful — it's even how he joined the OotS. Basically, he's Genre Savvy when it comes to standard fantasy but not so much when concerning his own story. Elan's Genre Savvy backfires when he realizes that his dad's plot will actually work.
V recognizes that if Elan has someone tied up, he's likely a major villain, and if said villain is smugly blathering about a lengthy trial, he's going to drag down the comic. Thus, s/he simplifies matters. "Disintegrate. Gust of Wind."
Tarquin, both recreationally and professionally — he maintains power over an empire through it. He doesn't stop at just being Genre Savvy, he even spreads the word to his guards, as seen on the manual he hands them. His Genre Savvy, however, becomes increasingly unreliable the more he indulges in his delusion that he's the primary villain of the comic and that Elan is the primary hero, leading him to become increasingly unstuck.
It's not even limited to recurring characters. Even very minor characters can prove to be unusually Genre Savvy in this world.
Hobgoblin wizard: Oh, right. Forgot to mention. Whenever you start to whip an elderly slave, there's about a 60% chance that some sort of hero will show up to stop you.
Two Displacer Beasts realize they're a random encounter and survive by avoiding the fight.
Also shortly after played straight by Xykon when Vaarsuvius teleports into his Evil Tower of Ominousness. As "a challenge to his rep", Xykon meets him/her with everything he has, including taking advice from his minions.
Gods also apparently gain power as their clerics level up — it's suggested in Start of Darkness that this is why they created Always Chaotic Evil NPC races in the first place, as XP-fodder for adventurers.
Going to Give It More Energy: The party comes across a hydra on the way to the oracle. Belkar starts happily chopping heads off left and right. Vaarsuvius wants to just blast it with magic, but Roy says to wait, without explaining why. Just as V is about to let loose anyway, the hydra collapses due to its heart no longer being able to pump enough blood to all of its heads.
Elan: I know that sometimes the hero has to play baccarat with the enemy, even though logically it would make more sense for them to just be trying to kill each other. What I don't know is how to play baccarat.
Golden Mean Fallacy: According to Belkar, killing one hobgoblin is a fair compromise between him wanting to kill them all and Celia not wanting him to kill any.
Good Is Boring: Averted during Roy's time in Lawful Good heaven. He gets to meet his deceased relatives, play blocks with his dead little brother, and the general attractions include a Tavern of Infinite One-Night Stands. It's also explained that this is only the first level — once people get bored with the earthly stuff, they resume climbing the mountain, with "true perfect enlightenment" waiting at the top.
Roy, while Lawful Good, enjoys verbally lambasting both his friends and enemies a bit too much. He's prone to some moments of cruelty, for example, after bandits kidnap Elan during their quest for the Starmetal, he wants to leave him with them and continue on. Naturally, the rest of the Order (even the Chaotic Evil Belkar) disagrees. Although he changes his mind later and is shown to regret having done it.
For a guy who's waiting for a place in the Lawful Good heaven, Roy's dad Eugene is a pretty sarcastic, selfish Jerkass.invoked It's widely speculated among fans that Eugene has been shifting more and more toward Neutral over the years he's been stuck in the waiting area. But since he's been told by one of the Devas (who are, for the record, incabable of lying) that the only thing keeping him out of the Lawful Good heaven is his unfulfilled blood oath, it seems that actions taken after you die can't alter your afterlife destination.
Miko Miyazaki is made of this trope.
Most of the Sapphire Guard practically embody this trope, at least in Start of Darkness.
The elven commander also says this about him(her?)self
Lord Shojo, when Miko Falls as a result of fatally wounding him and he takes this as a sign that the gods approve of what he's done. He resisted resurrection in a later strip, indicating he was not too sorry to be dead.
Miko herself dies with a smile, on being told that Windstriker, her horse (and only friend) will visit her in the afterlife even though she has failed to redeem herself.
Lord Kubota, if only because he's unexpectedly killed in the middle of his Evil Gloating.
Go Through Me: When Elan tries to shield a heavily wounded Roy from Tarquin, Tarquin checks he has enough hit points to survive it and then stabs Elan so hard that the sword passes right through Elan's body and into Roy. Taking the trope rather literally, there.
Gunship Rescue: Julio Scoundrél gives the heroes an Airship Rescue when Tarquin has them on the ropes.
Grapes of Luxury: While "Checking In", Miko sarcastically suggests that the gang take in the luxury of being fanned and fed grapes. Haley tries to get that arranged, and is a bit annoyed to find that Roy gets the treatment later.
Elan: It's true what they say: "Hard work may pay off in the long run, but laziness always pays off right now!"
Harmful to Minors: Vaarsuvius' children are targeted by an enemy, their legs broken, and their parent crucified. And then their other parent comes in, possessed, and tears the enemy apart from the inside.
For the same reason, Durkon's tears of joy over the prophesy that he will get to return home "posthumously."
Hate at First Sight: Crystal and Haley immediately despised each other after their first meeting. One comment about shoes and one comment about hair and the two are instantly willing to kill each other. Notably, this makes Crystal Haley's rival, meaning she'll always be at at least the same level as Haley if not higher.
Hereditary Curse: Eugene Greenhilt made a Blood Oath that neither he nor his descendants would be able to go into the afterlife until Xykon was destroyed. This curse binds him to his oldest offspring. Apparently the rules of the Celestial Realm give you credit for a good-faith effort, though, which is why Roy is able to get in.
Two incredibly badass-looking adventurers in On the Origin of PCs (one with angel wings and a sword, the other a cloaked figure with four arms) are turned away by Durkon because Roy's already found the last two recruits he needed (Elan and Belkar). As they walk off, one suggests that they go storm the gates of Hell, but the other complains that "we did that last week".
Gather ye round, little children, and listen to the Ballad of Amun-Zora. The Captain of a unit from the Undefeatable Little Free City of Doom, sent by her superiors to seek help from a nearby warlord to end their seven-month siege at the hands of a rival empire, is betrayed! The troops he sends join the enemy's side and crush the resistance, deliberately killing her husband to free her hand, while she herself is locked away until such time as she agrees to marry the Evil Overlord. Freed as part of some unknown scheme by his vile spawn, she escapes to become the Rebel Leader, uniting the disparate enemies of the empire against their common foe. Also, she appears in about nine strips of this comic.
The halfling Frudu is occasionally shown on his mission to destroy the cursed vase known as the One Ming.
Hey, Catch!: Unusual form — Haley says "Catch." while firing two arrowsat Tarquin. Of course, she knows full well he can catch them both, but Tarquin is hanging on for dear life to the railing of an airship at the time, and it results in him losing his grip.
Highly Visible Ninjas: The Goblin Ninjas are wearing black against a white background, but the atrocious spot and listen checks of the main characters cause them not to notice them. Even when the ninjas say things like "We're standing right here."
Hilarity Ensues: When Xykon describes how he got his crown, he says "I stole it from a librarian in Cliffport who — oops! — also turned out to be an archmage. Needless to say, hilarity ensued."
Belkar wisely takes this approach to fighting Miko after breaking out of jail. Bear in mind that Miko had successfully taken the entire party alive when they attacked her head-on.
Hitman with a Heart: As seen in "Talking Down", Female!Roy calls out the dwarven hitman on his threat to blow up the inn, noting that all of his behavior so far indicates a Never Hurt an Innocent mindset. He backs down and admit he would never cause the death of innocents. Unfortunately, the inn gets blown up anyway after Belkar, intent on some mindless slaughter, bumps into the hitman and causes him to light the fuse by accident.
Subverted. Malack gives Durkon a great deal of help researching the spell Mass Death Ward. Once it's revealed that Malack's a vampire, Durkon uses the spell to give himself a great advantage over him in their ensuing fight. However, Malack reveals that part of his "help" involved preparing a password that would automatically dispel the spell at his command; after all, "what kind of man would help someone he just met develop a means to protect a large group of people from himself?"
Played straight when Nale destroys Malack, unfolding a plan he's worked on for years, including using Malack's vampire spawn as rehearsal. Sure, it is masterly done, with just one little drawback: it frees newly-raised Durkon from Malack's control. Nale seems to think that the vampire dwarf will either ignore them or join with the Linear Guild, since he's now evil. He didn't count on Durkon's Undying Loyalty to the Order of the Stick. As soon as he's past the shock of regaining his free will, Durkon attacks them and kill Zz'dtri, forcing Nale to flee.
Tarquin: There's no need to run around like a cockatrice with its head cut off.
Hollywood Tactics: Averted. The invasion of the Azure City is based on attrition warfare, but Redcloak employs some finesse by using elementals as heavy units to destroy the main wall, as well as a ninja infiltrator to open the main gate to the throne room.
Homoerotic Subtext: The gladiator arc begins with the slavemaster warning the new prisoners of "strong homosexual undertones that will never be fully explored" if a stronger prisoner defends a weaker one.
Honorary Uncle: Roy and Nale have this in common, both referring to their respective fathers' adventuring buddies as such ("Uncle Myrtok" and "Auntie Laurin", respectively). Although when Nale uses it on-panel, he is rather sarcastic.
In Start of Darkness, there's a point where Redcloak, reunited with Right-Eye after a lengthy period of separation, realizes how much he's missed his brother, how much he enjoys not having to worry about the Plan, and contemplates throwing it all in and starting a new life with his brother. Then Xykon shows up to put the kibosh on the reunion.
Awesome! The Azure City Resistance has recovered Xykon's Soul Jar! Now all they have to do is get it back to their base... oh. Oh dear.
Oh, no, Xykon shows up and kills Belkar! But Vaarsuvius comes in a Big Damn Heroes move and places a forcecage around Redcloak, leaving Xykon undefended against Roy's attacks, and Roy manages to kill Xykon — oh, wait, it's a Lotus-Eater Machine.
Tsukiko, no doubt, falling for Xykon's Faux Affably Evil charm. The poor deluded soul seems to believe that he's hiding a caring heart under a tough exterior. Even the Monster in the Darkness has worked out Xykon's status as an unredeemable villain. She also believes Redcloak to be a spineless wimp which is proven false when he kills her with minimal effort..
Going the other direction, things would have gone a lot better for Azure City if Miko hadn't concluded that the Order of the Stick and Lord Shojo were in a vast evil conspiracy with Xykon and Redcloak based on a series of deductive leaps that would leave a logician weeping.
Elan is immensely reluctant to admit that his dad is a Lawful Evil general serving (or rather, running) a brutal dictatorship... At least, he was until the latter kicked the dog so hard that he couldn't deny it any longer. invoked
Ian Starshine starts out seeing Elan as evil to the core and doubting any of the Order have redeeming features. He goes on to bond somewhat with Belkar, who he seems to consider less evil than the others.
Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Hinted at with Belkar and Elan's comments about Owlbears. "I hope the owl was the male and the bear was the female..."
The verbal component of a spell is its name. The language of the speaker doesn't matter. Thus, Vaarsuvius is able to cast spells with a verbal component only even when under the effects of a baleful polymorph and thus only able to speak Lizard. (The bigger problem is the somatic component, as an elf turned into a lizard is lacking hands.)
Zz'dtri has a 3.0 edition version of the Fly spell that was house-ruled in, which lasts longer than the 3.5 edition version of the spell.
The Overland Flight spell can normally only be cast upon oneself. But in the OOTSverse, it can also be targeted at other people.
Mass Death Ward, which is normally an 8th level spell, is a 7th level spell in the OOTSverse.
Rings of Regeneration work a lot more quickly. Normally, a Ring of Regeneration only heals 1 hit point per level per hour. Tarquin's ring can cause visible healing in a single round.
Normally, the Protection From Evil spell does not have any negative effects when used to protect an evil creature. But in the OOTSverse, magic items that use that spell are fairly discomforting to them.
Hulk Speak: thog most prominent example, but anyone with low enough intelligence score (like most orcs, ogres and a dwarf barbarian) tend to talk this way. Leading to the ultimate example, not nale, not-nale. And, being OotS, lampshaded.
Hurricane of Euphemisms: During the Empire of Blood arc, Elan and Haley evade Tarquin several times by giving bizarre excuses (like cleaning their pet orangutan) that Tarquin assumes are euphemisms for sex. Tarquin then starts inventing his own euphemisms based on Elan's excuses, like "scrubbing the monkey." Subverted when Elan runs out of decent excuses:
Elan:Uh, Dad? Haley and I need to go... uh... have sex.
Roy asks the half-ogre in "Perfect Combo" if it is unwise to try the same tactic turn after turn. If you don't get it, Roy has been charging, and taking damage for no effect from the spiked chain/combat reflexes/stand still combo, 5 times counting the panel he asks it on. Judging by his expression in the last panel, though, he knew the cliff was there and purposely tricked the half-ogre into leaping off it.
Roy and Durkon's reaction to Haley's observation that Lawful Good types have a tendency to bully and try to force people to go along with their idea of "good" only proves her point. The strip the exchange appears in is called "Case in Point".
I Am Not Left-Handed: In "Transference", Nale decides to try his luck fighting Roy. Roy then smiles and tells Nale this was a bad idea — because he had been holding back the urge to beat up someone who looks exactly like Nale for quite a while now.
Identical Panel Gag: Of the separated-by-a-few-pages variant: when the Azurite fleet is fighting against sea trolls, after defeating them once, Hinjo and Elan unwittingly dump them overboard, unaware that scrags regenerate when in contact with water. The panel where the trolls board again and attack anew is identical to the one of the first assault two pages earlier.
Elan carries this constantly for laughs because he's the bard. All of the other characters alternate between carrying the Idiot Ball, carrying the Smart Ball, and behaving normally.
Lirian in Start of Darkness goes through more or less every power she has that WON'T work on a lich in her second duel with the newly lichefied Xykon. It's most likely a way for non-D&D players to be brought up to speed to all the powers and immunities of a lich, but still you'd expect an epic level ex-adventurer would not try using Poison on an undead creature.
If We Get Through This: Played with. When we first meet Kazumi and Daigo, they're namelessredshirts agreeing to go on a date when this is all over, who then volunteer to hold off the enemy to cover Elan's escape... they sound doomed, right? Sure enough, soon afterwards Kazumi is weeping over Daigo's mortally wounded form, saying that he can't die, they were going to go on that date... However, he gets better due to some Law Of Narrative Causality silliness, and they end up getting married and being raised to the aristocracy.
Ignored Enemy: A ninja and a huecuva try to kill Hinjo at the same time, but end up fighting each other instead over who gets to claim the kill.
Ninja: HEY! You got your hatred of all that's good and pure in my contract killing! Huecuva: Well, you got your contract killing in my hatred of all that's good and pure!
The Igor: Giro. He isn't a real hunchback, though.
I Have No Son: More accurately, I have no brother: as Redcloak kills his brother Right-eye to protect Xykon, Redcloak's last words to him are "Goodbye, brother." Right-eye's last words are "Goodbye... Redcloak..." a term that he saw as an insult. His last words were rejecting that Redcloak was his brother at all.
I Have This Friend: A form of this is used by Roy in strip #944 when Vaarsuvius asks him for advice. "When I was younger... I knew a wizard." It's obvious to any dedicated reader that he's talking about his father Eugene. Note that V sees through it immediately.
Elan does this a few times in his origin story. When he finally "doesn't tell" a Rogue hotelier the precise location of all their valuable loot, and it's all stolen, his Paladin master has enough and rides off without him.
Thog also does this when he's captured along with Nale, and the Order is pondering how to de-petrify a sylph.
Thog: ha ha! they not have scroll! Roy: Scroll? Nale: Shut. Up. Thog: ha! stupid talky man not have scroll nale has! ha ha!
I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Well, a post-death version, anyway, in Start of Darkness. The previous bearer of the Crimson Mantle manifests in spirit form to his newly-minted acolyte, asking him to wear it and learn from it. The acolyte is reluctant to do so at first, because he's not qualified, but his master says (amid the carnage of scores of goblins being wiped out by the Sapphire Guard) that the acolyte is rapidly moving up in the church's hierarchy. The acolyte takes it, and gains powerful knowledge from it. He later adopts the nickname, Redcloak.
Impact Silhouette: The Monster in the Darkness "lightly" hits Miko and Windstriker out of a tower, leaving two holes, one human-shaped and one horse-shaped, in the wall.
Vaarsuvius gets very annoyed at the rest of the Order while he's stuck in the form of a lizard, and the first thing he does after being restored is to effortlessly Disintegrate a dragon that had been threatening them:
Vaarsuvius: Fascinating. I cannot help but notice that the disintegrated remains of a dragon are indistinguishable from those of a human, or a halfling, or a dwarf. Roy: Point taken.
Subverted in another strip. Annoyed about being distracted from his/her research, Vaarsuvius threatensElan.
Vaarsuvius: Do as you wish, though I find it odd that one who just witnessed the haste with which I will remove that which distracts me from my crucial research would risk becoming just such a distraction one's self. (beat panel) Vaarsuvius: Because then I might be forced to remove the distraction. Elan: I don't get it. Vaarsuvius: YOU are the distraction in this case. Remove the distraction, which is you. Remove YOU with haste. Elan: ...what are you getting at? Vaarsuvius: Oh, forget it. It would take longer to make you understand than it would to research the next spell.
Roy: So that statue had the gems pried out of it before you showed up? Haley: Right. Roy: (off panel) And those two goblins were killed — V: —with green arrows. Roy: —and stripped of their possessions beforehand? Haley: Looks like. Roy: And that treasure chest, with footprints of your size leading up to it, your lockpick still in the lock, and a strand of long red hair snagged in the latch? Haley: (standing in front of a sack larger than her, brimming with gold and labelled "Haley's Loot") Empty when I got here.
I'm Thinking It Over!: In the second strip, the party is split into two teams, by the traditional method of Roy and Haley taking turns choosing someone. Eventually, Elan is the only one left, and it's Roy's turn to choose.
Elan: Ooh! C'mon! Pick me! Durkon: Are ye gonna... Roy: I'm thinking.
While Roy is fishing with his grandfather in the Lawful Good afterlife, the fish suddenly disappears off his hook. Roy's grandfather explains that it was summoned, and remarks that "someone must be having an underwater adventure".
Haley summons Celia (unintentionally) while she is sleeping. She is angry at first because she thinks that it's her mother to ask why she isn't married yet, but when it turns out to be Haley, that's okay to her.
In a Dragon strip, a celestial dog is summoned just before it could finish the cure for all diseases.
Elan: Are you sure it's OK to summon celestials just to fight goblins? Durkon: It's just a dog. It be no harm, no foul. Fiendish Rat: (summoned by the goblin cleric) Darn it! I can't believe this guy summoned me RIGHT when I was alphabetizing my spice rack!
Though not a magical summons, the Oracle of the Sunken Valley can't take a bath without being interrupted by a visit from adventurers.
Oracle: Jeez, I can peer into the murky depths of the future, yet I always seem to get interrupted during bath time.
Ineffectual Death Threats: Belkar tends to consider any threats to his life as this (and to be snarky about it, too), since he has a high opinion of his fighting skills. To tell the truth, he's been right thus far. There's notably the instance with Crystal:
Crystal: You little twit, I'm gonna kill you! Belkar: Yeah, and I'm gonna drop a house on you and sing about how I represent the Lollipop Guild. C'mon, let's keep our threats realistic, shall we? I mean, if you said, "You little twit, I'm going to temporarily inconvenience you!" I'd think, hey, she might really mean it!
Inferred Holocaust: Invoked. Vaarsuvius uses "Familicide" on an Obviously EvilBlack Dragon. This spell kills everyone who shares the blood of the subject, regardless of their distance from the subject, along with all who share their blood. Dragons are Color-Coded for Your Convenience, so nobody really cares about the death of about 1/4th of the planet's black dragon population. The problem is, "the propensity for both dragons and humans to breed outside their species is well-documented." Order Of The Scribble illusionist Girard's surname is Draketooth for a reason. V's Familicide spell killed every one of the Draketooth family. And as the Draketooths propagated by seducing random bystanders and absconding with the resulting children, all those bystanders, along with their families, are dead as well. And there's no reason to believe Draketooth was an isolated case...
Informed Attractiveness: Julia Greenhilt is apparently the object of lust for most of the boys her age, and judging by her attempts to flirt with Durkon she's used to getting attention from older men as well ("This always workson my teachers..."). Of course, as far as the readers are concerned she's just another stick figure.
At an inn, Haley and Vaarsuvius share a room, while the guys are next door. The guys can hear them talking through the thin wall, and it sounds like they're comparing breast-sizes, and V asks if (s)he can touch Haley's. The two are actually comparing some gems, and Haley guesses that the guys are overhearing their conversation, thinking they're doing something dirty.
And of the Artistic License – Economics variety: The couple that owns the potions store where V goes to buy once doesn't understand how economy works... they always charge less for one potion than what it costs. They believe that, by selling in volume, they compensate, but since the only thing they sell is potions, all of them at a loss, they do nothing but lose money. And when V points this out... they start a sale.
When Belkar comments on seeing that O-Chul survived Azure City that "those paladins are like roaches", one of the Demon-roaches takes offence.
Internal Retcon: Forms the conclusion to the Greysky City arc, though how long it will last is unknown.
Interrogated for Nothing: Redcloak tortures O-Chul for weeks after the capture of Azure City to get him to reveal details of the guardianship of the remaining Gates, details that O-Chul doesn't have because his order put Honor Before Reason and never violated their oaths to find out. Later, it is revealed that Redcloak has known for a long time that O-Chul really didn't know anything, but has been continuing the torture anyway as a ruse to keep Xykon in Azure City long enough to solidify the hobgoblin regime.
In the prequel On the Origin of PCs, after Roy claims that wizards put too much faith in magic, his father Eugene immediately proves his point by asserting loudly that magic is perfect and all-powerful.
In "Case in Point", Chaotic Good(ish) Haley points out that lawful types have a tendency to make other people agree with them... or else. Lawful Good characters Roy and Durkon immediately tell her that this is absurd and to stop with the crazy talk.invoked
Girard believed that Soon would betray the oaths for some self-appointed authoritarian reason and booby-trapped the location he gave. Given what he says about Serini and the backdoor summon clause in Dorukan's Cloister spell, Soon was the only one who didn't betray the oath.
Malack greatly helps Durkon in his research for the Mass Death Ward spell, allowing access to his extensive library and "spell-checking" the dwarf's first draft. This same spell is later the major factor giving Durkon the advantage in his fight against the vampire cleric. Though that is subverted when Malack reveals he was smart enough to leave a backdoor password specifically so the spell could't be used against him.
Belkar has been a sociopath pretending to have character development into "chaotic neutral" territory. It turns out he really HAS gotten a LOT more innocent, and has been pretending now to be the same psycho sociopath he had been before.
Tarquin was heavily dismissive of Nale as a villain and a foil to Elan, only for his final confrontation with Elan to go almost the exact same way as Nale's first confrontation did: with him hanging off a precipice begging Elan to save him. Only with Tarquin, Elan wasn't feeling so generous due to his twin's recent murder. Elan even lampshades it.
I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Celia designs her summoning talisman to break from energy blasts, completely unaware that this was not something normal humans could do at will, which leads to some unfortunate consequences when Roy fails to use it. She can also detect abjurations like the Cloister spell through the way her teeth tingle. Because she thinks everybody can do the same, she only mentions it in passing, assuming Haley already knows about it; when she finds out Haley doesn't, she actually gets angry about how worthless human(oid) senses seem to be compared to her own.