Characters The Order Of The Stick The Empire Of Blood Discussion

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06:50:54 PM May 30th 2014
So this is about Tarquin. Fair warning.

I'm posting this here for thoughts instead of just editing; I don't want a Justifying Edit war... apparently I've been somewhat guilty of JE's lately and I'd like to break that.

So I'm reading through the comic again, and it seems to me that the various "Word of the Giant" entries pertaining to his competence might be overcompensating. Even if he wasn't/isn't the brains of the Western Continent operation, he has shown remarkable competence at tactics and Chessmastery... when he wants to. Reinforcing this is one of his earlier discussions with Elan, in which he quickly deciphered "Note to self: Elf cannot cast teleport." He does have a keen tactical mind, or at least a keen deductive one.

It seems to me that he is much like Elan, in that his competence comes and goes in waves. Undercutting that competence by constantly saying "Word of the Giant says he's not as smart as he thinks he is" seems to be unfair. Not that I disbelieve it, but the way the entry's formulated, it almost seems like the recent entries want to completely undercut any competence he had outside of combat, and I just don't see that. I'm completely willing to believe that he's less important or less smart than he's deluded himself into being, what I'm NOT willing to believe is that he's completely mentally compromised, as the recent string of entries implies.

Maybe this is fodder for Alternate Character Interpretation? I want to preserve the fact that Tarquin was probably the most effective Arc Villain overall (but CERTAINLY no Xykon or Redcloak), while still preserving Rich's statements regarding him. It's a delicate balance, and I don't think I'm equipped to walk it myself.
08:56:03 AM Nov 7th 2013
edited by
Wanted to bring to Discussion this example regarding Miron:

  • Made of Iron: Gets shot by Haley twice, falls off a dinosaur, gets blasted with the highest-damage ray from Prismatic Spray, slashed across the chest by Roy, stabbed twice in the back by Belkar, and shot four more times by Haley, who being a rogue at close range means they're all Sneak Attacks. This is finally enough damage to trigger his Contingency, but he still survives. Not bad, Squishy Wizard, not bad.

No question the guy received a lot of damage, but I wouldn't really consider that amount of damage to be atypical for characters in the strip, even for the squishier magic-users (remember, the strip does follow the the D&D idea that you die if you are brought to 0 HP, but up until then, there's a large degree of Major Injury Underreaction).

And Made of Iron is really more appropriate for a character (i.e. O-Chul) who is very durable by the strip's standards, not someone who is a Squishy Wizard and might not have even taken (comparably) much damage.

Without knowing what his HP was, it is hard to judge how injured he was, but it kind of seems like he cut and run (thanks to the Contingency spell) at a point when most people would have drank a potion or just kept fighting. It seems like Miron is a particularly squishy Squishy Wizard, and quite possibly a Dirty Coward at that.
10:56:39 AM Nov 7th 2013
edited by
When I posted this I simply looked at it from the D&D numbers perspective, which may have led to me mislabeling it. Here's my reasoning.

Even a level 20 wizard isn't going to have a lot of hitpoints and yellow beam on a Prismatic Spray is a solid 80 damage (40 on a successful save). Throw in six arrow shots from a rogue, two daggers in the back, and an enchanted greatsword to the face and that's enough to kill most mages twice over. In Miron's case, that just activated his 'low health' contingency. He's certainly not as durable as, say, O-Chul is, but O-Chul is a class designed to absorb damage, Miron is not.

As for Miron having a Contingency to teleport himself away at low health, that's simply good mage-play, especially since the cleric who would resurrect him if he fell is dead. Tarquin is clearly pissed off right now, which is why he calls Miron a coward.
01:29:08 PM Nov 7th 2013
Well, if (as I guess the numbers too indicate) he is pretty durable or a Squishy Wizard, I think that's kind of a Square Peg, Round Trope use of Made of Iron. Being durable for a squishy wizard is not being objectively durable the way a Made of Iron character (i.e. O-Chul) is.
01:56:26 PM Nov 7th 2013
Might make more sense to re-type it as Squishy Wizard - Averted, then?
04:13:14 PM Nov 7th 2013
It's hard to tell if it's averted or not, since we don't know if the contingency was set to proc when he dipped below a certain hit point total, or if it was just too much damage in one round, or what. I think we should go with something along the lines of:

  • Squishy Wizard: Played with. He gets shot by Haley twice, falls off a dinosaur, gets blasted with the highest-damage ray from Prismatic Spray, slashed across the chest by Roy, stabbed twice in the back by Belkar, and shot four more times by Haley (who, being a rogue at close range with a flanker, means they're all Sneak Attacks). While he does survive all this, it was apparently enough damage to trigger his contingency, teleporting him to safety.

And yes, I stripped out the majority of the spoiler tags on purpose. There's a big argument going on right now about spoilers on character pages, and adding more giant white blocks of text isn't helping.
08:51:54 PM Nov 7th 2013
Works for me. I'm overly cautious with spoiler tags. Thanks for the help.
09:12:13 PM Nov 7th 2013
I agree. That sounds good.
09:13:24 PM Nov 7th 2013
Added it. Also pulled the Shoo Out the Clowns entry:

  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Is definitely the silliest member of Team Tarquin, and when the showdown between the Order and Team Tarquin begins, Miron is quickly eliminated, due to Contingency, which teleports him away. doesn't apply at all. Miron isn't the silliest member of Team Tarquin, Tarquin is. He just pulls double-duty as the scariest. Plus, Miron has been involved in quite a few recent dramatic scenes. This wasn't Shoo Out the Clowns, it was just "geek the mage first."
09:20:10 PM Nov 7th 2013
I agree. I wanted to pull that but couldn't really think of a good argument.

I would note (supporting your point) that Miron is shown in a flashback torturing a woman into marrying Tarquin and he's responsible (acting through Tarquin) for messing up Haley's life. So, despite the hints of his being a buffoonish character when we meet him, he's not someone I'd really consider a "clown".
02:23:31 AM Nov 9th 2013
edited by
It's true Miron's a marginal case, but I think it applies. 'Tarkie,' 'Greatsword Dude,' 'splashy butt-washing thing.' That's Elan-level vocabulary. And Tarquin may be quite silly, but the consequences of his silliness are deadly serious, meaning that I think of him less as a clown and more Laughably Evil. And most of the scenes Miron's appeared in before the current showdown have been one-off joke panels, with the exception of Hodor's examples (and he didn't actually appear #131).
08:20:37 AM Nov 11th 2013
I didn't consider him a clown in the least, no more than anyone else in the comic, and had no idea anyone else could have until I came to this discussion. A "clown" for this trope is supposed to be a character who's primarily comic relief. Not a bad guy who happens to be funny.
11:40:24 AM Nov 12th 2013
And that's precisely my point: on Team Tarquin, Miron is the comic relief. He just happens to be evil. Any comic relief that Tarquin could provide (he is, after all, pretty silly) is undermined by the threat he poses, in much the same vein as The Joker.
03:00:07 PM Nov 12th 2013
edited by
From the perspective of Team Tarquin, Tarquin is definitely the comic relief, and while he is being serious right now, I would argue that (in part because he's had more screen time) Tarquin is objectively way sillier than Miron.

More importantly though, this feels like a case of Square Peg, Round Trope to me. Shoo Out the Clowns is where comical characters leave or are killed off when things become more serious. During this whole time that the OOTS have been in the desert, it has generally been fairly serious with the Order seemingly being doomed and then bouncing back, only to be seemingly doomed again. This doesn't seem to have anything to do with whether or not Miron is present.

And what makes things kind of confusing is that while you could say that as of the most recent strip things got more serious/worse for the Order after Miron left, but at the time, Miron leaving was part of the Order seeming like they were about to win, which doesn't really fit in with the meaning of Shoo Out the Clowns.

Are you arguing that things became more serious for Team Tarquin with Miron leaving (in the sense that they were outmatched), that would be true... up until the next strip where they gained an advantage- and this isn't really an accurate use of Shoo Out the Clowns either.

07:12:14 AM Nov 13th 2013
Just being less threatening than Tarquin doesn't make him comic relief. It makes him a bad guy who is occasionally funny. Which puts him on par with every other bad guy in the whole comic.
05:24:53 AM Sep 26th 2013
Where was Kilkil's alignment confirmed?
08:32:50 AM Sep 26th 2013
Per Word of God, specifically in the same post that confirmed Bozzik's and a few others. Don't have a link, but I'm sure someone else will be along with that shortly.
03:54:08 PM Sep 16th 2013
Regarding Tarquin being a Big Bad Wannabe or not: that trope's definition says that it is not contingent on the wannanbe's competence/skill alone, but in comparison to the actual Big Bad. So I'd say that Tarquin qualifies, considering he is nowhere near as dangerous as Xykon.
07:42:29 PM Oct 14th 2013
I agree, and made the appropriate changes.
02:15:38 PM Aug 27th 2013
Should the fact that Tarquin is the father of Nale and Elan be left spoiler-tagged? On the one hand, yes, knowing that their father shows up in the Empire of Blood is a pretty big spoiler. On the other hand, he isn't actually named until the same strip where he pulls The Reveal.
10:47:46 PM Sep 2nd 2013
It should not be spoiler tagged, the reveal happened well over a year ago realtime.
04:45:13 PM Sep 3rd 2013
Uh, that doesn't mean anything. It doesn't matter if the reveal was one day ago or six years—if it's an important plot point over five hundred strips into the comic, then we don't just say "Well, everyone who cares knows already." Exceptions are rare, and are things like Shakespeare's plays or Star Wars, and that's not because of time, but simply because honestly, everyone really does know already.

The question was whether it applies in this particular case, since Tarquin's name doesn't come up until the same comic as the reveal.
12:14:47 AM Aug 21st 2013
If I am reading it correctly, Luke, You Are My Father means the parent discovers a child they never knew they had, right? To all appearances, Tarquin knew about his other son, Elan, before he ever met him, so how does he qualify for that trope as opposed to Luke, I Am Your Father?
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