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The Order of the Stick

For general tropes about the whole group, see The Order of the Stick.

    Vaarsuvius 

Vaarsuvius

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/fe47615163e633e5d4038ec4a710fd98.png

"I require a reminder as to why raining arcane destruction is not an appropriate response to all of life's indignities. Quickly, please, before they are out of range."

Race: Elf
Gender: Unknown
Class: Wizard [Evoker]
Alignment: True Neutral, Arrogant Neutral (according to the Adventure Game)

An intelligent and rather condescending elf wizard. Extremely skilled in the arcane arts, and the most powerful member of the Order (as frequently stated in-universe: casters are overpowered). Deeply dislikes Belkar; the feeling is mutual, and the two tend to play near-lethal pranks on one another. V has a spouse and two children back home, but doesn't tend to discuss their personal life. Vaarsuvius made some powerful decisions during a solo arc that resulted in much alignment confusion and Character Development.


  • Affectionate Nickname: Inkyrius refers to V as "Suvie".
  • Ambiguously Gay: Kyrie's gender is as unclear as V's and their children are adopted, and the background to V's transformation includes a pink triangle. No word on whether that is intentional.
  • ...And That Would Be Wrong: Trope Namer, regarding solving social situations with explosions.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Familicide, courtesy of Haerta Bloodsoak. What is "familicide", you ask? It's an epic-level necromancy spell that instantly kills everyone the target is related to and everyone they're related to. There Is No Kill like Overkill.
  • Anti-Hero: Over the course of the comic, V's capacity for ruthless decisions and Hair-Trigger Temper have gradually increased, culminating in them making a Deal with a Devil, a Demon, and a Daemon to save their family — and obtain godlike power into the bargain.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Non-sexual example; Vaarsuvius is quite insulted that a brain-eating monster (a mind-flayer) finds the brain of the fighter Roy tastier than theirs. This is because Roy has balanced mental stats (decent values in Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma) while Vaarsuvius only has high Intelligence. In the eyes of the mind-flayer, Roy is a well-trimmed turkey dinner while Vaarsuvius is a hamburger. He completely ignores Belkar, Haley, Durkon and Elan (shown as an overspiced taco, a tasty but overly sweet sundae, a filling but bland bowl of oatmeal and a can of Diet Coke respectively).
  • The Atoner: After the incident with the fiends and Xykon, V feels an intense need to make up for the bad decision. This happens again, after learning that the familicide spell V used to kill the black dragons has wiped out the Draketooths, and anyone related to them.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Vaarsuvius specializes in producing these:
      Vaarsuvius: Your simple mind cannot possibly grasp the means with which I wrested the beast from the jaws of reality, leaving naught but a small pile of carpet sweepings.
    • Perhaps their most over-the-top one comes from On the Origin of PCs when Roy is trying to recruit V into the Order of the Stick. It's worth noting that during this boast, V also manages to casually break the table they're eating at in half with a snap of their fingers.
      Vaarsuvius: I am capable of manipulating matter and energy on a subatomic level by speaking. A mere flick of my finger is sufficient to alter the gravitational pull of the planet. I shelve physics texts under 'Fiction' in the library, I consider the laws of thermodynamics loose guidelines at best. In short, I am grasping the reins of the universe's carriage, and every morning I wake up, look to the heavens, and shout, "Giddy up, boy!" You may never grasp the complexities of what I do, but at least have the common courtesy to feign something other than slack-jawed oblivion in my presence. I, sir, am a wizard, and I break more natural laws before breakfast than of which you are even aware.
    • A more clinical but succinct one is given when they and Laurin Shattersmith are having an epic Wizard Duel during the Final Battle of the Blood Runs in the Family arc:
      Laurin: [after breaking out of V's resilient sphere] You already tried putting me in a box, wizard! You're wasting everyone's time! I can counter any spell you have left, so why not just save yourself the pain and—
      Vaarsuvius: [calmly] I have in excess of twenty-five spells remaining. Not counting cantrips.
      [Laurin stares at them for a moment before teleporting away]
  • Badass Bookworm: The person who spends all their time reading scrolls instead of "jogging" is easily the most powerful member of the Order, at least as long as V has spells remaining. It's to the point where the only characters seen onscreen who aren't Gods or similarly powerful entities that can be sure of overpowering them in a straight fight are Xykon, Redcloak, the Ghost of Soon Kim and V's Master Aarindarius (by implication, since Aarindarius was supposed to be capable of crushing the elder Black Dragon that had trounced V with little effort) — though Laurin and Miron might be in with a shout — all of whom are ridiculously high level. This leads to a lot of Deus Exit Machina. Note that V became an adventurer to get more XP for spell research.
  • Berserk Button: Do not question Vaarsuvius's magic skills.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Played for Laughs in Strip #10, where Vaarsuvius is so comically verbose that they overcome one of the fundamental mechanics of their reality and bore their enemies, Elan and Belkar to sleep.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Vaarsuvius all but single-handedly turns the weakened Order's fight against Tarquin's army from a desperate last stand to a winnable fight just by showing up — timely stoneskin, fireball and wall of fire spells give much needed breathing room and turn the tide.
    • Additionally, Vaarsuvius saves everyone aboard the Mechane from Laurin and Tarquin near the very ending of Blood Runs in the Family by nearly knocking the aforementioned Evil Overlord overboard before engaging in an epic duel with the psion.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: After they make amends, Vaarsuvius and Blackwing gain this dynamic, with Vaarsuvius as The Comically Serious Stoic and Blackwing as the easily distracted Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Boring, but Practical: After becoming The Atoner, V has learned to reject flashy, dangerous spells, and instead uses less glamorous, but highly effective ones, like casting greater extended invisibility on Haley to give her unlimited Sneak Attacks, using mass suggestion to incapacitate a group of giants with a single spell (as opposed to multiple damage attacks which may not kill all of them), or using a Counterspell to render an enemy spellcaster useless.
  • Borrowed Catch Phrase:
    Vaarsuvius: [shooting Zz'dtri with quarrels] I may be in error, but I believe the appropriate proclamation is "Sneak Attack, bitch."
  • Bottomless Bladder: Well, not quite bottomless, but as an elf, V only needs to deal with that sort of thing every few weeks, thanks to their superior metabolism. Elan thinks this means V is part camel.
  • Break the Haughty: V getting trounced by a black dragon, and specifically by getting their magic negated during said trouncing, turning V into a desperate stooge. Then after becoming effectively omnipotent, V decides to take on Xykon single-handedly, and gets trounced a second time. This double breaking leads to a more humble elf wizard.
  • Brought Down to Normal: What do you get if you put a powerful elven arcane spellcaster inside a sphere of Anti-Magic? "A fragile, pointy-eared monkey."
    Mother Black Dragon: While I? Am still a dragon.
  • Byronic Hero: V has a troubled backstory, a cranky personality, and yet still helps Roy after the contract was ripped up. However, V completely lacks the charisma associated with this trope.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Justified, since in this world, a wizard has to say the spell's name in order to properly perform it. It is subverted on occasion (usually for the sake of comedy), as Vaarsuvius has both shouted out spell names for spells not prepared, and produced the effects of a spell without casting. In an early case, boasting at length about the magical power at their beck and call ended up putting the monsters to sleep, which the rest of the Order mistook for the use of the sleep spell. In another case, V yells "SONIC!"...but did not, in fact, prepare the spell that day.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Try arguing with Vaarsuvius. Haley basically smacked V on the head after one too many "And the problem with that would be...?" replies in On the Origin of PCs.
  • Character Development: Initially, Vaarsuvius had little to no respect for their teammates, solving most problems with magical explosions and refused to admit any sort of failure on their part. All of these traits have been greatly diminished after the Don't Split the Party arc thanks to the vicious Humiliation Conga they suffer through, with them ironically being forced to learn the same lesson as their Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Belkar — Namely, "Evolve or die." Starting with the Blood Runs in the Family arc, V is far more considerate of their companions' opinions, fights intelligently by better utilizing their abilities alongside applying creativity and pragmatism, and has adopted making up for their past mistakes as a major part of their central motivation.
  • Charm Person: Suggestion, charm and dominate spells form part of V's arsenal, and are typically employed if an opponent cannot be blasted with evocations for whatever reason.
  • Cold Equation: When the true consequences of the familicide spell are revealed, showing that V didn't just exterminate about a quarter of the black dragon race, but all creatures who shared their bloodline as well, meaning that the victims number in the thousands, if not millions, Blackwing suggests that it might still be a net positive, since the black dragons are among the strongest and vicious Evil beings in the world. V rejects the idea, because while it's possible there's a very cold positive outcome of their action, it still doesn't absolve them of what they did, not to mention it's exactly the kind of argument Tarquin would cling to to justify his atrocities.
  • Color-Coded Wizardry: Vaarsuvius' magic is pink. Interestingly enough, the retail version of No Cure for the Paladin Blues shows that the eye color of their puppet is the same pink color as their magic.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Part of V's Character Development has them using more Boring Yet Practical spells in combination with a lot of creativity to turn the tide of battle. For instance, they ultimately win their second duel with Zz'dtri by taking control of Yukuyk's mind and using the kobold ranger as their own personal crossbowman.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Sometimes has trouble with the concept that wizards aren't all-powerful gods of destruction compared to the non-magic using classes.
    Vaarsuvius: Thrice-cursed Spell Resistance! It's almost like the universe is trying to deliberately force some form of arbitrary equality between those of us who can reshape matter with our thoughts and those who cannot.
  • The Comically Serious: Lots of hilarious moments are to be had when the very serious-minded and calm Vaarsuvius is roped into very silly and goofy situations. See for instance, everything to do with the Semi-Elemental Plane of Ranch Dressing.
  • Consummate Professional: V started out business-like and polite. Then the elf became insufferable and needed their familiar to point out that it's not socially acceptable to solve social problems with explosions.
  • Counterspell: Makes good use of this tactic during the fight against Samantha the bandit sorceress, noting that it is a legitimate, if seldom-used, means of disabling a spellcaster. Pops up again during the battle against Thrym's forces in the Dwarven mountains, with V repeatedly counterspelling the lead cleric's attacks to prevent damage to the Mechane. This time it's both a useful tactic and a plot element — recognizing that V has learned there are times when fighting defensively is better than deploying overwhelming force.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Being both a Person of Mass Destruction and a Squishy Wizard, several of their most iconic battles fall into this territory.
    • V is on the receiving end of one against the mother black dragon, who is both a powerful spellcaster to rival Vaarsuvius, in addition to being a physical powerhouse decked out with teeth, claws, and a terrifyingly cruel disposition. That's all before the dragon casts an antimagic field, reducing the wizard to little more than a physically deficient, unarmed monkey — running on several days without sleep, no less.
    • After getting the IFCC's Soul-Splices, their rematch against the mother black dragon is hideously one-sided, with V turning into a dragon while inside the dragon's stomach, reducing her to scraps. V then raises the dragon back to life just to perform familicide on them — exterminating her entire family tree with a single action, before disintegrating the reanimated head.
      Vaarsuvius: This — and no less — is the price of threatening my family.
    • On the other side of the spectrum, due to being Drunk with Power, they then go up against Xykon on their own and get utterly demolished in short order, to the point where it's only thanks to a lot of dumb luck, O-Chul's intervention, and the Monster in the Darkness' teleportation wish that they even manage to survive.
    • And on a lighter note, V almost singlehandedly saves the entire Order after awakening in the desert, turning a desperate Last Stand against General Tarquin's personal army into a rout for the Empire of Blood. Easily one of the most notable examples within the battle is how when a squadron of soldiers flying Pteranodons is bearing down on Haley, Elan, and V, the latter just uses chain lightning to One-Hit Kill the lot of them and continue flying as if nothing has happened.
  • Creature of Habit: Qarr suspects that V's "invisibility before peeing" is a result of knowing he's there; although the elf has known he's there, the invisibility is a habit V picked while being part of the Order.
    Vaarsuvius: It frustrated a halfling I once knew to no end.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Gets this on two levels:
    • Vaarsuvius is devoted to arcane knowledge at the expense of everything else. This comes up twice in fairly quick succession when facing enemies that not only outclass the elf in magic but can also easily kill V in hand-to-hand combat: the ancient black dragon and Xykon.
    • Their chosen school is Evocation, meaning V is barred from using any Conjuration spells, many of which are generally regarded as the most useful arcane spells that can be learned. Their inability to cast Teleport (and in one instance, Plane Shift) as a result of this has caused many problems/inconveniences for the Order.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Only second to Roy in the snark, and even more deadpan. For instance, here is a below conversation between V and Belkar on the subject of Vampire Durkon from near the beginning of Utterly Dwarfed:
    Belkar: Oh come on! Get off the fence! I just told you that he tried to kill me!
    Vaarsuvius: Oh my, what a completely unprecedented reaction to spending more than ten minutes in your company.
  • Deal with the Devil: Specifically, deal with a Devil, a Demon, and a Daemon in the form of a timeshare on V's soul in exchange for temporary access to fantastic arcane power. V is theirs for 44:16. 20:35 have been spent by the end of Utterly Dwarfed.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Despite having their share of weaknesses that you would expect from a wizard, Vaarsuvius is sometimes removed from the party to keep the Main Characters from using V's extensive powers.
  • Deus ex Machina: Dark V wraps up several story conundrums with a snap of their fingers, such as completing the relocation of the Azure City refugees with Mass Teleportation, and even with their normal power they off the Bad Guy of the Week, just to move the story ahead. Naturally, it doesn't last long as Xykon is stronger than them regardless due to him not requiring Soul Splices. It's Played for Laughs in particular with regards to reuniting the Order, as their teammates consistently find Mundane Solutions just as V is about to use their mega-power magic solution.
  • Did Not See That Coming: After they're freed from paralysis and healed by Durkon near the end of Don't Split the Party, V is fully expecting to be given another lecture by the dwarf on how their arcane power isn't the solution to everything or how their inability to accept their limitations is hindering themself... only to be completely gobsmacked when Durkon is the one to apologize, noting that while he had "sat on me thumbs fer months, afraid o' doin' tha wrong thing," Vaarsuvius had at least been active and effective, relocating all of the Azure City refugees to a new homeland along with going toe-to-toe with Xykon himself.
  • Disintegrator Ray: V likes to disintegrate a lot, notably offing the adolescent black dragon, Kubota, and later finishing off the ancient black dragon this way.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: V'll return manyfold. V expects one-fourth of the black dragon race being dead, and that is forgetting the hybrids. Notably, even the IFCC had a metaphorical Jaw Drop in reaction to this.
    Vaarsuvius: This — and no less — is the price of threatening my family. Disintegrate.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: In addition to the Deus Exit Machina, V's whole build is this trope. Specializing in Evocation while barring Conjuration and Necromancy is generally agreed upon to be the worst way to play a wizard — and in this case, necessary to keep V from being way too powerful.
  • Dumb Is Good: Vaarsuvius is sometimes condescending towards others simply because of their lesser intelligence, making them an example of the "smart people are mean" part of this trope.
  • Dump Stat: Strength (can only carry one Bag of Holding), Constitution (elf; plus a backstory that involves studying, but little exercise), and Charisma (genuinely worried about being capable of apologizing to a friend). Hell, looking at decisions over the course of the comic, Wisdom is looking iffy too, especially pre-splice (though to their credit, this seems to have noticeably improved since then), and V's Dexterity is nothing worth writing home about (despite having an elf's proficiency with a bow, V states that they're nowhere near good with it, and V is prone to whiffing ray attacks on moving targets beyond point-blank range). Vaarsuvius's status as master of the dump stat has been lampshaded when V's singular focus on Intelligence was compared to Roy's extremely wide point spread as in the difference between a well-trimmed hamburger and a roast turkey dinner.
  • Elfeminate: Their androgynous appearance may stem from this trope.
  • Enraged by Idiocy:
    • In the retail version of Book 2, their character blurb states that they disdain stupidity, leading to strained relationships with Elan and Belkar.
    • More unoriginality than idiocy, but one of the non-canonical Dragon Magazine strips has V go on a rant about how everything in the Underdark is just the surface world with "dark", "deep", or "under" prefixes, fungus instead of plants, and everyone having Darkvision. V does get somewhat placated when Haley and Elan point out that people migrate to the Underdark out of desperation because all the good stuff on the surface is already taken, meaning the similarities are intentional.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: During their fight with Zz'dtri at the Empire Arena. "How in the infinite planes of existence am I supposed to be capable of defeating a wizard who has tailored not just their daily spells but their very build specifically to defeat... me." The solution is to Charm Person a hostile Ranger and turn their crossbow bolts on the enemy mage, who has few, if any, countermeasures to a non-Vaarsuvius foe.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Prismatic spray is one of V's most powerful attack spells, with each color of light producing a different effect, including setting the target on fire, stunning it, banishing it or turning it to stone.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: V knows that, but unfortunately chooses to ignore it and accepts the IFCC's deal. The decision turns out very badly for the elf.
  • Evil Laugh: When first imbued with the Soul Splices from the IFCC, Vaarsuvius starts laughing maniacally without quite knowing why.
    Vaarsuvius: Ha ha HA ha ha HA ha HA ha! Wait... why am I laughing? I don't... the voices...
  • Evil Makeover: The Soul Splice turns V's robe black and makes their hair crazy; though the elf isn't affected apart from appearances.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: V started out with their hair short and with a circlet, but has since switched to a longer, shaggier style that is pulled back and tied off. This seems to coincide with V realizing that absolute power is not all it's cracked up to be, as well as letting go of their family. It helps that this was after coming down from an episode of Power Makes Your Hair Grow.
  • Expo Speak Gag: V's comedic stock-in-trade.
    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: [without having changed facial expression or even moved an inch] Ah, I see you have already grasped the core principles of my theory.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • Pride in the power of arcane magic, to the point where V's inability to admit to needing help has been a major factor in accepting a Deal with the Devil.
    • Their poor social skills tend to cause a lot of problems. During the Battle of Azure City, V is too embarrassed to admit that they are out of spells to use. While V could have explained this and suggested a fighting retreat, they instead turn invisible and flee. Half the remaining army panics, some even dropping their weapons in the process, while the other half gets angry and tries holding onto an untenable defensive position. Both groups are slaughtered. That level of slaughter is on par with Belkar, but unlike Belkar, V has a functioning conscience and is almost driven insane from the guilt. Instead of seeking help and advice for this event, V instead pushes people away further, again, leading to the Deal with the Devil.
    • Their self-centeredness is V's third major flaw, which is still an issue even after It's All My Fault. Blackwing's role evolves from simple familiar to makeshift conscience when V realizes they need one.
  • Finger Poke of Doom: "Disintegrate."
    Vaarsuvius: Not if my index finger has anything to say about it. And, as it turned out, it had quite the stirring dissertation prepared on that very subject.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: V finally learns to treat Blackwing as an equal after witnessing the latter's bravery when he plays a vital role in V and O-Chul's attempt to destroy Xykon's phylactery.
  • Flight: With the overland flight spell, and V can also bestow it upon others.
  • Flipping the Bird: In response to an imp that used to work for an Arc Villain showing up to tempt Vaarsuvius, V throws him in the water and then (off-screen) casts a spell called "Bugsby's Expressive Single Digit!" which is accompanied by a *flip!* Unsound Effect.
  • Forced Transformation: During Book 2, they spend a small but significant amount of time polymorphed into a small and adorable purple lizard.
  • Friendly Enemy: Has this dynamic with Sabine of the Linear Guild. Not only does V offer a disguised Sabine relationship advice during War and XPs, but V accepts Sabine's advice on how to evade the Vector Legion so as to get revenge on Tarquin for killing Nale in Blood Runs in the Family.
  • Functional Magic: As fitting for a Dungeons & Dragons comic. Vaarsuvius is explicitly an evoker, with necromancy and conjuration as forbidden schools.
  • Gender-Neutral Writing: V is simply referred to as "Other Parent" by their children, a Translation Convention of the apparently ungendered Elvish term.invoked Word of the Giant has also stated that if any character refers to V using gendered pronouns, it's only an assumption or a matter of convenience on the observer's part.
  • Glass Cannon: V can dish out lots of damage, but as your archetypal Squishy Wizard, is much less adept at taking it.
  • A God Am I: The IFCC warn V that the Soul Splice's side effects include "feelings of omnipotence" and indeed V soon believes that V can solve all the party's problems single-handily. Disabusing the elf of this notion is part of Xykon's "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: Once the Soul Splice is completed, V's hair grows quite long and wild. Upon reverting, it's tied up into a ponytail.
  • Got Me Doing It: In the middle of an otherwise deadly serious strip, Vaarsuvius, running on several weeks without sleep and utterly at wit's end, picks up Durkon's accent briefly in the middle of their declaration to abandon the team.
    Durkon: I know we ain't gotten on well these last months, but... c'mon! We need ye!
    Vaarsuvius: And yet I see no reason why I still need ye. You.
  • Grammar Nazi: As shown in one of the strips in Snips, Snails and Dragon Tails, V hates sentences that end in prepositions.
  • Guile Hero: While V has no problem blasting minor problems into oblivion, V is usually not in position to solve problems with main force, and must rely on their wits and intelligence instead, which V usually does admirably (eventually; no V arc is possible without some serious false starts). There is one notable exception.
  • Happily Married: V and Blackwing make this a Discussed Trope. No-one can deny that V loves Inkyrius, and V believes that they had a good relationship, but Blackwing points out the truth. V has been away from their family for six years learning arcane magic, and even when the elf was home, they were emotionally absent, brushing off Inkyrius' offer to eat dinner together so V could spend more time studying. This is where V realizes that they have been a terrible mate and so does not contest the divorce.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Parodied in Multiclass Struggles. V is incredibly frustrated to discover that, due to the way this setting works, their literal century of study to even learn basic magic still only puts them on the same first level of another PC multiclassing from a much easier beginner class.
    Elan: It's true what they say, "hard work may pay off in the long run, but laziness always pays off right now!"
  • Hearing Voices: During the Soul Splice, Vaarsuvius's three "subcontractors" talk a lot amongst themselves and can be heard audibly. It's later revealed that they had as much influence over V's actions alignment-wise as cheerleaders do over the outcome of a football game.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Vaarsuvius is driven insane by guilt over a perceived failure in Azure City, as well as many failures afterward. As a result, during Don't Split the Party, the elf is completely obsessed with not failing and, by extension, with finally succeeding at something that will prove that they're not actually a failure.
    • Vaarsuvius has a bigger one when realizing the actual effects of the familicide spell: V learns that not only did the spell kill all black dragons directly related to the ancient black dragon the spell was initially cast on, but also the entire Draketooth family, who descended from a black dragon, and everybody the Draketooths had children with, and their families...
      Vaarsuvius: [curled on the floor while crying] My fault. I am the cause. It sprang from my brow.
  • Hero of Another Story: Played for Laughs, with V and the brainwashed Yukyuk all apparently having had their own entire mini-adventure in the Semi-Elemental Plane of Ranch Dressing when they were stuck there thanks to Zz'dtri's plane shift spell. What exactly happened aside from a few details is kept intentionally vague since V utterly refuses to talk about it.
  • Hero with an F in Good: V has had some memorable Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moments, such as familicide, leading to the death of the entire Draketooth family, which leaves their gate undefended.
  • He's Back!: With a hell of a bang. With just three spells, V turns the tide of battle against the Empire of Blood and makes it so that the Order of the Stick now has a fighting chance.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Turns out to be very knowledgeable with regards to romance on account of already being married. This is subverted later on when it's pointed out that V hasn't exactly been the most attentive mate and Inkyrius ends up filing for divorce.
    • A relatively minor case, but they're apparently a big fan of word search puzzles since Blackwing mentions that both he and V spend a few hours doing these after they've finished trancing.
    • Similarly, Strip #1268 has Haley mention that V once spent six years studying astronomy.
  • Holding Back the Phlebotinum: Vaarsuvius is usually knocked out of fights quickly to prevent Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards from taking place. When V is able to participate, the fight either ends quickly or is against a powerful opponent with some form of magic resistance. This only gets more pronounced as the comic goes on and Vaarsuvius theoretically becomes more and more powerful compared to the rest of the party:
    • When the party faces a Black Dragon, Vaarsuvius has been polymorphed into a lizard, barring V from most of their spells. Even so, V is still the one to defeat it.
    • In a battle in Cliffport, Vaarsuvius immediately gets knocked out of the fight via a combination of poor tactics and being too close to a melee combatant.
    • In the Battle of Azure City, Vaarsuvius gets separated from the rest of the party and the elf is still the member of the Order with the largest contributions to the battle.
    • V deliberately holds themselves back when a caravan comes under attack so as to repress their more undesirable personality traits, namely their ego.
    • When they are attacked by a pair of bounty hunters, V is immediately disabled by a bolt with strength-reducing poison.
    • In Girard's ziggurat, V is metaphorically paralyzed with guilt at having killed thousands of innocents and then literally paralyzed by the IFCC, thereby making very few contributions to the Order's activities.
    • Demonstrated when a group of Pteranodon-mounted soldiers attack V, Haley and Elan; Haley starts charting out a complex plan of attack to Elan, while V just chain-lightnings the entire squadron.
      Haley: Oh yeah. Wizard.
    • Vaarsuvius doesn't respond to Blackwing's empathic cry for help because Blackwing had already sent too many over trivial and paranoid fears. As a result, the animal companions are placed in serious danger and a vampire gets away with an important magic item.
    • When the party is up against Serini Toormuck, she uses a beholder to cast an anti-magic field on the party, rendering V helpless. The moment the anti-magic is temporarily disabled thanks to V not being in the cone, they immediately begin raining spells down on Serini and the beholder, forcing them to use the beholder's eye rays to hit V with a Slow effect, allowing Serini to hit them with a poisoned dart to take them out of the fight.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • V gets slammed with it in the epic battle versus Xykon, despite having more than enough sheer power on hand to win if the battle were fought in a halfway intelligent manner. Justified due to V's overwhelming power trip and arrogance.
    • The Oracle all but tells V that the price for ultimate arcane power would be too high. Vaarsuvius only hears that the power sought is coming.
    • V also assumed the IFCC would only have their soul after they died. The IFCC calmly tell V that was an assumption. No-one ever said they couldn't invoke their payment before V died.
  • Ignored Epiphany:
    • Even if The Plan they laid out was unworkable, the fiends make sure that V is aware of the fact that the true motives for accepting their deal were pride and desire for ultimate power, rather than any nobler goal. Despite this being thrown in V's face, the elf accepts the deal. V later learns the lesson, but only after the damage is done.
    • V's question of the Oracle has the Oracle strongly hint that the cost of V's desire for power would come at a terrible price due to V's pride. V only notices that the power sought will be achieved.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: Amusingly averted; according to V, one of the main drawbacks to an elven lifespan is twenty years in diapers.
  • Important Haircut: After the events of the Soul Splice, V abandons their circlet and begins keeping their hair in a much more humble ponytail.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: V believes themselves to be superior and is thus obsessed with demonstrating it. This is especially bad during the Don't Split the Party arc; during a string of (partially perceived) heavy failures and PTSD to boot, V becomes impossible to live with.
  • In-Series Nickname: The rest of the Order often calls them just "V". Belkar sometimes calls them "Ears". Inkyrius calls them "Suvie".
  • The Insomniac: As an elf, V doesn't need to sleep, but after the Fall of Azure City, they also stop trancing because of stress and the guilt over leaving Haley behind along with being unable to save a group of Azure City soldiers from being massacred. V says they stopped because trancing is an inefficient waste of time, but it's shown to actually be due to that they're having nightmares. The physical and mental deterioration is obvious, as V becomes pale and sickly, and even more short-tempered and impatient than usual.
  • Insufferable Genius: Yes, V is the most powerful member of the Order by a large margin. That doesn't mean V should bring it up all the time. It is less prominent after an episode of Break the Haughty, and then being confronted with the massive consequences of what may be V's biggest mistake.
  • Insult to Rocks: V apologies to the tables of the world for comparing them to Belkar.
  • It's All My Fault: V's reaction to realizing the full implication of familicide is taking full responsibility, and it's actually true in this case. However, it's also an important turning point in Vaarsuvius's character arc, as the elf refuses any potential loopholes, justifications, or excuses for the act in question and insists that the responsibility is theirs and theirs alone.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Part of V's reason for not contesting the divorce, is that powerful people have tried to hurt V's family, and V doesn't want that to happen again.
  • Jerkass: Often arrogant and sometimes pithy. During the Don't Split the Party arc, a combination of guilt, bad dreams, and trance-deprivation make V even worse and it culminates with V threatening to kill Elan.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The above being said, V has genuinely good qualities beneath their haughty exterior, and is sincerely trying to become a better person with Blackwing's help after their Deal with the Devil.
  • Just Eat Him: Swallowed once by an owlbear and twice by black dragons.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Taunting the black dragon about her dead son. There's no excuse for that, and it illustrates how close V was to an evil alignment even before the fiends show up. Even worse, V's actions raised the ire of Tiamat herself, with the IFCC promising the death of a greater number of good dragons as retribution, not to mention the rest of the black dragons, if not all chromatic dragons, will probably want a word with them.
    • Kubota spent a page explaining to Elan why he was going to become a Karma Houdini despite surrendering, so V disintegrating him is understandable from an Anti-Hero perspective, but V heard none of it, so it also counts as this towards V's alignment confusion post-Azure City's invasion. Furthermore, V makes some incredibly insensitive and cruel remarks regarding the dead Therkla to Elan, first wondering out loud if her death at the hands of Kubota means that they no longer gain XP from previously defeating her on the island, and then bitterly insinuating that Elan had forgotten about Haley by asking if he "limited his affair with the NPC to oral pleasures" out of respect for those missing in action.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: Their cruel behavior towards Blackwing, to the point where a major part of their Character Development and Blackwing deciding to become V's ersatz conscience is when V sincerely thanks Blackwing for his services during their and O-Chul's fight with Xykon and apologizes for being a terrible master up to that point.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • Honestly, Kubota had that disintegration coming. However, V had no idea who he was, or even his alignment. For all V cared, he was just a distraction from the mission to kill Xykon.
    • Relatedly, considering how Yukyuk (the third kobold member of the Linear Guild) was an utter Jerkass who shot at both V and Mr. Scruffy with a crossbow, they have no qualms about Belkar repurposing a brainwashed Yukyuk's mouth as Mr. Scruffy's new litter box.
  • Kill It with Fire: Fireball or scorching ray are often the first choice of offensive spells.
    Vaarsuvius: Burn, you insufferably terse dullard!!
  • Knight Templar Parent: As part of their epic Heroic BSoD, they set a long-distance record for Jumping Off the Slippery Slope with this trope when fighting the mother black dragon. With this mindset, the solution to prevent another black dragon relative from threatening their family is clearly to wipe out the opposing family and anyone related to them.
  • Lack of Empathy: One of their recurring flaws is their will to distance themselves from others to focus on their arcane research, resulting in a very haughty and arrogant demeanor that cares fairly little for the suffering of others. V does eventually recognize their emotional neglect of their spouse but too late to save their marriage or the quest for Girard's Gate. It also leads V to ignore Blackwing when he sends an empathic distress call while a vampire attacks him and steals a vital teleportation crystal from their quarters, though in fairness Blackwing had been Crying Wolf for quite some time beforehand.
  • Large Ham: They are prone to dramatic and wordy spiels about how they are able to bend physics and reality to their very will. Their most hammy speech to date is probably the one about doilies in "Mail Call".
    Vaarsuvius: [...] I delved deeper into the intricacies of the patterns formed by the typical doily. And lo, I discovered that the weaving of white paper formed a matrix that resonated with arcane power. That within the mystical sigil that is a doily, there lay a path taken by few! For the humble doily is indeed the gateway to ULTIMATE COSMIC POWER!!
  • Last-Name Basis: Calls Roy "Sir Greenhilt", Haley "Miss Starshine" and Durkon "Master Thundershield", and tends to follow a similarly formal, professional pattern for other people. Just about the only people V doesn't refer to this way are Belkar (probably reflecting their level of respect for him) and Elan (quite possibly true again, but then again Elan doesn't actually have a given surname). Notably, V doesn't call Belkar or Elan by their first names, either — generally using "the halfling" or "the bard," and variations thereof.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again:
    • The incident in which Belkar kissed V whilst drunk must only ever be referred to as "The Event".
    • The two days spent in the Semi-Elemental Plane of Ranch Dressing after being sent there by Zz'dtri is a story Vaarsuvius would much rather have go untold, especially in the books.
  • Lethal Joke Item: Doilies are the key to ultimate arcane power!
  • Levitating Lotus Position: Vaarsuvius floats in this position while in a trance to regain spells.
    • Belkar took advantage of this once to play a prank on V.
    • V also does it in the Draketooth temple after calming down and awaiting doom at the hands of what the elf thinks is a Revenant.
  • Like Parent, Unlike Child: According to the prequel book, V's parents were both rangers, while V themself is a wizard.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards:
    • By the #600 comic point, V has incredibly powerful magic available, and is the most powerful of The Team (by quite a lot) in terms of sheer damage-causing ability. This is tempered by V's "barred" schools, and the fact that if the elf gets too close to the action and gets either knocked out, gagged, paralyzed, transformed (lizard), or runs out of spells, they will become less helpful than Elan. This is a causative factor behind their Heroic BSoD, because of what happened in the flashback strip "Running Away".
    • Played with and ultimately defied in "Right Tool for the Job". V is up against Zz'dtri, who has tailored his very build to shut down the elf's entire spell list directly, even at its most effective. V gets around this by dominating the mind of an enemy ranger, and correctly estimates the physical bolts as a weakness to be exploited. Hence, for all the supreme power Vaarsuvius has, victory is achieved by using a ranger's abilities instead.
  • Loves the Sound of Screaming: Only the screams of people that they really hate. For example, forcing the Linear Guild's third kobold Yukyuk to serve as Mr. Scruffy's litter box while he is under mind control, and V is very much aware of what's going on; V, as the one controlling him, is the only one who can hear his screams.
    Vaarsuvius: His silent screams are a symphony I cannot share.
  • Mama Bear: Or possibly Papa Wolf? Gender notwithstanding, for the love of Thor, do not threaten V's kids. V will wipe out your entire extended family if you do.
  • Mass Teleportation: During the Soul Splice V uses epic teleport to move the refugees from Azure City to an island with a derelict Elven fort that can be used to regroup.
  • Meaningful Name: Their name is very similar to Mount Vesuvius, the famous volcano that destroyed the Roman city of Pompeii in ancient times. Appropriately enough, Vaarsuvius the elven wizard is a Person of Mass Destruction who inadvertently killed numerous innocent people thanks to their usage of the familicide spell.
  • Mirror Character:
    • Both Vaarsuvius and Belkar have always opted for a brute force style in facing their problems, but thanks to Character Development, they've also seen other ways of looking at the world. To drive the point even further, they both have dark fates in store; V is indebted to the service of the IFCC for 44 minutes and 16 seconds, and Belkar is slated to die before the end of the year.
    • They also serve as one towards Redcloak. Both are Well-Intentioned Extremists willing to go any lengths (up to and including arguable genocide) to protect the people they care about (for Redcloak, it's goblins in general; for V, it's their family). Both are the most powerful members of their respective teams (Vaarsuvius is a Person of Mass Destruction, whereas while Redcloak might not be as heavy a hitter as Xykon, Xykon has basically become Redcloak's unwitting sockpuppet and Redcloak can also be seen as more dangerous than Xykon anyhow due to him being more of a No-Nonsense Nemesis). They both have disintegrate as their Signature Move (though V has since started to use more spells per their Character Development), both are formidable Guile Heroes (though Redcloak is an Anti-Villain and V ironically has Charisma as one of their many Dump Stats), both have to put up with an inordinate amount of idiocy (real or imagined), and both are fond of detailed plans. Later arcs, however, highlight the differences between the two characters as they each develop; V learns humility and accepts responsibility for their worse actions, while Redcloak's increased dedication to the sunk cost and perfect solution fallacies reveal that he has not gotten past his most critical Fatal Flaw even after all this time.
  • Moment of Weakness: Guilt, trance-deprivation, physical injury, their family seconds away from a Fate Worse than Death, and their fundamental sheer arrogance are all contributing factors in their Deal with the Devil.
  • Morality Chain:
    • According to the books, Haley helps rein in V, and her absence contributes to V's breakdown in Don't Split the Party.
    • Blackwing has taken on this role to keep destruction to a minimum.
  • Morphic Resonance: V keeps a pink or purple color scheme whenever transformed.
  • Muggle–Mage Romance: Is married to Inkyrius, who is a normal baker. However, their relationship suffers from Vaarsuvius being much more invested in their pursuit of arcane power than in their spouse. Ultimately, Inkyrius files for divorce.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Not so different from Belkar and Miko on this point, despite hating both of them. Notably, over mere social interaction problems:
    Vaarsuvius: As the size of an explosion increases, the number of social situations it is incapable of solving approaches zero. [everyone else looks at them askance, and Blackwing then whispers something into their ear] ...And that would be wrong.
  • Must Make Amends: Their driving focus after the disastrous consequences of their Deal with the Devil come to light.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When V comes down from the power high of the Soul Splice, V can only look back in horror and shame at what they've done. V shuts down on realizing that that the Draketooth family are all descendants of an ancient black dragon, and so their casting of familicide has killed the lot of them.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • Vaarsuvius is distraught over not having had enough power to win the Battle of Azure City (though the wall would've fallen far earlier without V's aid), and failing to overcome the cloister spell (though the elf very nearly succeeded with the bird-messengers, if not for a freak incident that was no fault of anyone).
    • Their reconciliation with Durkon after Roy's resurrection also counts, as V is incredibly regretful of how the immense power gained from the Fiends was used and how, only after receiving a withering speech from Xykon after being defeated did V become truly effective.
    • Vaarsuvius goes through it again when realizing that the familicide spell inadvertently killed the Draketooth family, and anyone they reproduced with and their families.
  • The Needless: Well, sort of. As an elf, V has a reduced need for eating and waste excretion, no need for sleep and technically doesn't need to trance either as long as they refrain from strenuous mental activity so they can replenish their magic. Problem is, V has a tendency to pretend they are literally needless, especially after the events of the Azure City War, due to their desperate need for power and control, and not wanting to admit to any kind of weakness. This eventually has disastrous consequences.
  • Nerf: V can't cast teleport, through no fault of their own because when came the choice of opposed schools, teleportation was not a conjuration spell, thus V thought it was safe to take conjuration as an opposed school.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: During the fall of Azure City, V is with a group of soldiers who are under attack from a massive number of hobgoblins. The soldiers plead with them to use their magic to help, but V has already used all of their attack spells and is only left with an invisibility spell, which they use on themself. Thus V gets a front row seat to the slaughter of the poor soldiers, with the last one cursing V and their "useless" magic as she dies. Small wonder that, once V learns to diversify their magic, they add a number of spells devoted to buffing and supporting their companions to their daily memorization.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Quite Justified in this case — V is a wizard, and as such can learn new spells by scribing them to their spellbook. As part of their Character Development, Vaarsuvius pointedly picks spells that solve some problems or weakness the party encountered before — like the lack of easy communication between separated members of the group during the pyramid skirmish prompting V to select the telepathic bond spell, which precisely covers this need.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Whether or not the black dragons Vaarsuvius murdered were Acceptable Targets, the sheer undiscriminating effects of familicide killed quite a few innocents tied to them as well — Most notably including the Draketooth clan, the protectors of Girard's Gate.
    • Vaarsuvius's decision to stay quiet on a few subjects (their Deal with the Devil, the familicide and the planet in the Snarl's prison) has some disastrous consequences.
  • No Social Skills: As a result of pouring most of their skill points into Intelligence, V has a lack of Charisma, a problem they share with both Belkar and Durkon. As a result of this, and a lifetime dedicated to solitary study, V's interaction with others is notably stilted and can come off as rather cold and blunt.
  • Non-Human Non-Binary: V's an elf and Burlew described them out of universe as genderqueer.
  • Not Brainwashed: The Soul Splice has absolutely no effect on alignment. V Jumped Off the Slippery Slope without help.
  • Not so Above It All: Practically a Running Gag with Vaarsuvius is them trying to act very stoic, level-headed, and professional... and then quickly proving themselves to be just as emotional, crazy, and unprofessional as the rest of the party. For instance, both they and Durkon sympathize with Belkar's lengthy complaints about how lackluster human senses are in #838, and in #1030, they throw out some silly suggestions for what the High Priest of Hel should be called.
  • No Time to Explain:
    Vaarsuvius: Time is at a premium, precluding extended discussion.
  • Odd Friendship: With Haley, who is outgoing and energetic, compared to Vaarsuvius' formal and reserved attitude.
  • Oh, Crap!: Vaarsuvius makes a lot of regrettable decisions, and, due to their intelligence, frequently realizes their mistake immediately after making it.
    • "Say 'disintegrate' one more time, Vaarsuvius. For me."
    • V also has this expression on discovering the ramifications of casting familicide on the black dragon.
  • Old-Timey Bathing Suit: In the "Beach Party" wallpaper, V wears one (as androgynous as ever).
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten:
    Vaarsuvius: I have a plan.
    Blackwing: Does it involve selling your soul?
  • One-Man Army: Well, more like One-Elf-of-Ambiguous-Gender Army anyway, but V definitely counts. Note that during the battle with Tarquin's troops, V getting back up manages to turn a dramatic Last Stand into something the heroes stand a chance of winning, tearing through hordes of Tarquin's troops single-handed while simultaneously deploying just the right magic in just the right places to keep up tactical advantage.
  • Only One Name: Vaarsuvius has no last name given.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The only time Vaarsuvius is ever shown to be crying is after they learn the full ramifications of casting familicide. As a friendly reminder, V didn't even freak out that much when they learned that both their mate and two children were going to be subjected to a horrific Fate Worse than Death.
  • Ostentatious Secret: Great lengths are taken to hide Vaarsuvius's gender and also point out that no one (not even The Giant himself) knows what it is. Later into the comic's run, when asked in a Patreon Q&A, Burlew mused that while he personally views Vaarsuvius as genderqueer, this is only his view (and from a meta-textual perspective, to boot), and In-Universe V would never describe themselves using that specific term since the comic's In-Universe elven culture views gender as being of no particular import.
  • Paint It Black: When V accepts the Soul Splice, the elf's normally red robe and cape turn black (along with instant hair extensions and pointy teeth). Bonus: the strip title is "I See a Red Robe and I Want to Paint it Black".
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: V can actually be rather sadistic, but they try to keep that pointed at the bad guys — a charmed kobold makes good kitty litter, for example. Though sometimes they cause excessive collateral damage in the process of hurting said bad guys.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • After angrily blowing up at Elan for what they saw as him mocking wizardry (Elan was actually just being Innocently Insensitive), on Haley's goading they go up to him and apologize for having over-reacted. Later on, V also goes with Haley, Belkar, and Durkon to save Elan from the bandits of Wooden Forest when he's kidnapped, even noting to Roy that they don't want to discard their friendship with Elan so carelessly.
    • A good sign of their Character Development is sincerely thanking Blackwing at the end of Don't Split the Party for his service during the battle in Xykon's tower and apologizing for having been a terrible master up until that point.
    • In Blood Runs in the Family, during the Order's time in Tarquin's palace they assist Haley in freeing several slaves from bondage. Unfortunately, the escaping slaves were later recaptured and immolated by Tarquin as part of a gift to Elan, but it's the thought that counts.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: V and Haley have always been extremely close, with Haley only ever agreeing to share a room with V until she and Elan became a couple.
  • Playing with Fire: Fire tends to be V's go-to element when using combat magic, with fireball, scorching ray, and wall of fire all counting among their favored offensive spells. They also make use of fire shield and delayed blast fireball to great effect while fighting the black dragon mother, though it's unclear if V knows those spells natively or was accessing them via the Soul Splice.
  • The Plot Reaper: Vaarsuvius's killing of Kubota is for this very reason. He was a distraction from the main plot.
  • Pointy Ears: Comes with being an elf.
  • Power Floats: While trancing, V floats. It's unknown if this is an elf thing or a wizard thing.
  • Power Makes Your Hair Grow: A side-effect of the Soul Splice is longer and wilder hair. It lasts after the Soul Splice wears off, but V thereafter keeps it drawn back.
  • Powers via Possession: V takes possession of three evil souls to gain their powers. Notably, V is Not Brainwashed by them.
  • Prepositions Are Not to End Sentences With: In a Dragon strip, V blows the party's cover by ranting at a pair of wights who kept doing this.
  • Pride: V's Fatal Flaw. When given a choice between selling their soul and getting help from their friends or mentor, V chose the former.
  • Pronoun Trouble: Many characters use "V" as a placeholder for where third-person pronouns would normally be. Some characters to refer to Vaarsuvius with gendered pronouns, butinvoked Word of the Giant states that it's just what that specific person thinks Vaarsuvius' gender is.
  • Prophecy Twist: The Oracle of the Sunken Valley tells Vaarsuvius that they will achieve "complete and total ultimate arcane power" by "saying the right four words, to the right being, at the right time, for all the wrong reasons." Vaarsuvius fulfills the prophecy when they accept the IFCC's Faustian bargain for the Soul Splice not to save their family from a Fate Worse than Death, but because they can't bring themself to admit to their teammates that their magic had failed them again. Part of the twist is that the four words — "I... I must succeed" — are being spoken to themself, as V is desperately trying to convince themself that their choice is the right thing to do.
  • Really 700 Years Old: As an elf, V is over a hundred years old but doesn't look any older than the rest of the Order. What certainly helps is that it quickly becomes clear that despite their advanced biological age, they're still emotionally and mentally in the age range of the rest of the party.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Xykon gives a potent one to V about what power really means and why the elf lacks it. Notably, V actually takes this into account going forward and learning how to be more creative with their power becomes one of the cornerstones of their Character Development.
  • Right Place, Right Time, Wrong Reason: The wording of the Oracle's prediction concerning V finding ultimate power is along these lines, foreshadowing the acquisition and its power-madness.
  • Ring of Power: A Ring of Wizardry, pried from Xykon's charred fingerbone.
  • Running Gag: V's use of explosive runes, and people reading them before the explosion happens.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: V's attitude for hundreds of strips, especially when they get more and more ruthless from sleep deprivation (which they claim is impossible as an elf). It finally bites them in the ass after the full ramifications of the familicide spell is revealed. They becomes far more circumspect afterwards about abusing their power.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness:
    • At times it becomes a problem. At one point, V was so comically long-winded that they managed to overcome one of the fundamental rules of the game (namely, that Talking Is a Free Action).
    Vaarsuvius: Actually, now just [six seconds]. I was being particularly verbose just there.
    • Amusingly enough, Roy countering their above Badass Boast from On the Origin of PCs with this trope impresses V enough that they decide serving under Roy's leadership will be perfectly acceptable.
  • Signature Move: Disintegrate is usually the first offensive spell they tried out on a target prior to their Character Development, where they decide to apply themselves more creatively and be more willing to break out other spells as part of their "initial volley".
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: They have enforced this type of dynamic regarding Belkar, both because their personalities naturally clash and also since V wants to make sure that Belkar hates them rather than lusts after them (the latter of which they consider to be "too horrific a possibility to contemplate"). That being said, after the party reunites at the end of Don't Split the Party, Belkar has both decided to fake Character Development by becoming a more effective team player and Vaarsuvius has gone through a lengthy Break the Haughty character arc, causing the childish animosity between the two to fade to the point where they're actually able to be remarkably amicable to one another by the beginning of Utterly Dwarfed. V even lampshades and deconstructs this way of thinking during Don't Split the Party, angrily noting at one point how childish and pointless their feud with the halfling was, especially in how it needlessly distracted them from their more important goals.
  • Shipper on Deck: Early on, V quietly supports the good ship Haley/Elan — or, at least, knows that Haley is crushing on Elan and wants to help Elan towards realizing it.
  • Shock and Awe: Lightning bolt is probably V's favorite offensive spell after both fireball and disintegrate. They can also cast chain lightning.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: "Disintegrate. Gust of wind. Now can we PLEASE resume saving the world?"
  • The Smart Guy: They're a powerful mage, and magic requires high intelligence in this world. They're actually one of several in the Order of the Stick.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: After they become Fire-Forged Friends, a lot of their dialogue with Blackwing consists of them lightheartedly snarking at each other. For instance, below is their reaction when they learn that Roy has lost his sword yet again:
    Blackwing: This is why I only rely on my deadly razor-sharp talons in combat.
    Vaarsuvius: I have watched you try and fail to pierce the skin of a potato.
    Blackwing: Sure, but I never made a whole B-plot out of it.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: When V uses strong words, they're usually coated in this.
  • The Spock: Most of the time, V speaks in a measured and scholarly tone and is concerned with logic and efficiency, though they still have experienced enough emotional turmoil to lose their cool at critical moments. Amusingly, the "Stick Trek" wallpaper actually casts V as Spock, and Belkar once refers to them as a "Vulcan in fantasy drag."
  • Spock Speak: Their normal way of speaking is formal and exact.
  • Squishy Wizard: As per standard for D&D wizards, V has great magical power but crumbles in physical confrontations. The mother black dragon even mocks them about this, describing them as a "fragile, pointy-eared monkey" when they're deprived of their magic.
  • Stealth Insult: They get in a good jab at Tarquin and Laurin's egos during the final battle of Blood Runs in the Family by dismissively referring to the two of them as just "stowaways" when they board the Mechane.
  • The Stoic: They like to present themselves as an aloof scholar concerned with order and professionalism, often casting them in the role of The Comically Serious compared to the rest of the Order. For instance, when Hilgya Firehelm promptly kills a resurrected Durkon with a flame strike, the whole rest of the Order (including Blackwing) are all either horrified or furious... except for V, who only looks mildly nonplussed.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Varies wildly between "aloof asshat" and "huggable woobie", even within the same strip.
  • Talk to the Hand: Vaarsuvius is very fond of the various Bugsby's hand spells. In #934, Vaarsuvius would have pushed Tarquin off the Mechane if Laurin hadn't zapped the hand.
  • Tears of Remorse: A little overdue, very out of character... and definitely meant and heartbreakingly genuine, in "Lack of Foresight".
  • Token Flyer: Vaarsuvius commonly uses magic to fly, both for its tactical benefit as a Squishy Wizard and for its utility. Zig-zagged as Vaarsuvius comes to appreciate their non-magical teammates more and starts casting flight spells on them as well, particularly Haley the archer.
  • Token Minority: From a metatextual perspective, Vaarsuvius is the only known genderqueer/non-binary character in the comic. In-Universe, they more fall along the lines of Ambiguous Gender since elven culture doesn't place nearly as much importance on gender as any other known cultures.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Subtle, but in #1160 V tanks a Death Worm's cone of cold and manages to finish their spellcasting nonetheless, despite being heavily injured afterwards (as shown by the multiple scratches and cuts on their person). Compare this to when they challenged Xykon in his own throne room, and gets fizzled by the room's defenses, which made Xykon wonder how they could have such high-level spells and yet still fail a Concentration check that easily. And in general, they've become a significantly more dangerous opponent since their failed duel with Xykon thanks to them learning the need to be more creative, pragmatic, and altruistic in combat.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: V's resistance to anything not involving Xykon directly, arrogance and overall occasionally rude behavior skyrocket during the period after Azure City, where V refuses to trance for months. This culminates in them threatening Elan and ditching the rest of the Order of the Stick. After the whole Deal with the Devil thing, V returns to the Order and takes a level in kindness.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: After their Deal with the Devil, V becomes far kinder and considerate to the people around them, treating Belkar and Elan with more patience, seeking advice from Roy, treating commoners without their previous arrogance, and is able to just outright admit it when they've made mistakes. This also translates in combat, as they also eschew offensive tactics and instead focus on defensive and utility spells that aren't as flashy, but are much more effective at nullifying threats and enhancing their team's efficiency.
  • Tragic Hero: Since the events of the Soul Splice V has to deal with great personal tragedy due to their hubris and is working on redemption.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: After realizing that they caused the deaths of countless innocents with the familicide spell, V curls up in despondence.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: V's first major scene shows the elf gleefully using a spell designed to tentacle-rape an opponent to death, and while this can partially be put down to Early-Installment Weirdness, V continues to use unscrupulous tactics.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Unskilled being a relative term in this case, since as a Wizard, V's life has largely been dedicated to study, but the way they use their magic was this for the longest time, preferring to just smash their opponents with the strongest spell they had, and only used spells more creatively when forced to, such as when they were Transfigured into a lizard. Finally learns their lesson for good when Xykon easily overpowers V even with the Soul Splice, and they only survive through sheer luck. After this, V dedicated themselves to use their magic with more thought and skill, which they've largely lived up to.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Accepting the Deal with the Devil and attacking Xykon played right into the Gambit Roulette spun by the Inter-Fiend Cooperation Commission.
  • Vague Age: While elves age extremely slowly compared to several other races, their age in the print version of No Cure for the Paladin Blues is listed as 130 with a question mark next to it, as if even the author isn't sure.
  • Vancian Magic: V isn't too happy about the need to prepare spells every morning, as the article's epigraph indicates.
  • Victorious Loser: Though V lost the Soul Spice and didn't defeat Xykon, they rescued O-Chul and rattled the Lich's cage by making him temporarily lose his phylactery.
  • Villain Respect: Inverted; During their epic Wizard Duel with Laurin Shattersmith near the end of Blood Runs in the Family, they give praise to the psion's mental powers. However, Laurin rebuff their comments.
    Vaarsuvius: While I respect your clear mental discipline, I will not allow you to injure my allies.
    Laurin: Don't tell me what I'm "allowed" to do, elf.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Briefly polymorphs into a burrowing animal while searching for Girard's gate. While powered up by the Soul Splice, V turns into a full-size dragon.
  • Wall of Blather: Early on, there is one that puts a bunch of goblins (as well as Belkar and Elan) to sleep.
  • What You Are in the Dark:
    • V's state during the Deal with the Devil is a pretty grim instance of this trope, namely that the IFCC tells the elf that the splice will affect alignment, while in reality it's only three additional shoulder devils who only offer the same influence onto their alignment that cheerleaders have on whether or not certain sports teams win. The answer is going Drunk with Power and committing a literal genocide of black dragons (and their hybrid offspring). Adding insult to injury, the fiends even outlined a possible alternate plan right before V took the deal, the only catch being it involved other people doing all the legwork and didn't come with a free power trip.
    • On a lighter note, V's rescue of O-Chul also qualifies. Vaarsuvius is heavily injured, nearly out of spells, and completely out of their league, against Xykon, an Epic-level sorcerer and the Big Bad. V turns invisible and means to escape through a hole in the wall, one feather fall away from safety... Nobody could possibly know or blame the elf for escaping in that situation, but V instead chooses to go back and help O-Chul instead, rather than abandoning yet another person to their death. Ultimately, it serves as a very poignant and touching moment — and an important first step to redemption — after everything Vaarsuvius has done.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Is the target for several of these over the course of the comic, with increasing severity due to their escalating actions:
    • A relatively mild one from Haley, when the elf makes Elan cry after yelling at him for poorly trying to mimic being a wizard, shortly after the destruction of Durokan's Dungeon.
    • One from Elan, for killing Kubota under some very flimsy logic.
    • By far the biggest one, from their mate Inkyrius, after they find out about Varsuuvius' Deal with the Devil, and the deranged extremes they had gone to reach their long-sought power. Shortly after this, they file for divorce, and Varsuuvius, having been thoroughly humbled by Xykon crushing them despite their newfound power, doesn't contest it.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: The way V's been using magic since the beginning and in a destructive manner; load up with as much power as possible, then smash. V tries to break the habit in one arc, with difficulties. It could be said to have succeeded, if "Right Tool for the Job" is anything to go by. Instead of blasting the enemy, buff your allies.
  • Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": Familicide. Killing the Black Dragons was not, in retrospect, V's brightest hour.
  • Wreathed in Flames: The "Fire Shield" spell V uses when under the Soul-Splice.
  • You Do Not Want To Know: V is mum on their time in the Semi-Elemental Plane of Ranch Dressing. Downplayed in that's less horrifying and more just embarrassing.

    Belkar Bitterleaf 

Belkar Bitterleaf

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/belkar_oots_3884.png

"I AM A SEXY SHOELESS GOD OF WAR!"

Race: Halfling
Gender: Male
Class: Ranger/Barbarian
Alignment: Chaotic Evil, Selfish Evil (according to the Adventure Game)

A.k.a. "The Belkster", "Death's Li'l Helper", and now "Doomsealer". Even shorter than other halflings, Belkar has deep-seated emotional problems. He tries to work these out by killing or otherwise harming people he doesn't like. Still, he has some of the best lines and is a major source of (black) comedy.


  • Abstract Scale: His evil is measured in KiloNazis, against a baseline of the hypothetical off-spring of Sauron and Cruella de Vil.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: As noted above, he's exceptionally short for even a halfling, and the resulting ostracizing is implied to be at least part of the reason for why he acts the way he does.
  • The Alleged Expert: He was invited to join the Order because Roy assumed his levels in the Ranger class automatically gave him some skills as a tracker, and his entry on the comic's "cast of characters" page described him as "the world's best tracker under 4 feet tall". As it turns out, he hasn't invested a single point in his Track skill. That being said, by the time of the final arc, it's shown that he actually has invested a decent amount in obscuring trails and tracks, claiming that it helped him out a lot when on the run from police officers and guards with bloodhounds.
  • Alliterative Name: Belkar Bitterleaf.
  • Ambiguous Criminal History: It's known that at the very least, Belkar was once an assistant to/fence for slavers, along with being a slave himself, but the rest of his assuredly vast and horrible criminal history is understandably kept subtle for the sake of comedy. Sometimes, however, it comes into favor for the party, as seen when the Order are trying to hide from Team Evil in Kraagor's Tomb, and Belkar notes that he'll erase the Order's trail to make it harder for them to be spotted.
    Roy: [surprised] You can... do that?
    Belkar: [exasperated] What, you think I learned to track for my own noble self-enrichment?! A lot of law enforcement agencies use dogs, Roy!
  • Ambiguously Bi: He's definitely attracted to women, but according to Book 4's relationship diagram, he wants to "shtup" Vaarsuvius. However, he's never acted on those desires in-comic aside from drunkenly kissing them during New Year's. He also trolls Roy by hitting on him while he's under the influence of the Gender Bender magic belt, despite knowing it's Roy the whole time due to his Halfling sense of smell. He claims he's "comfortable enough in his masculinity" that doing so doesn't bother him.
  • Androcles' Lion: The Empire of Blood's troops, sick of the Order slaughtering all their infantry, sic an Allosaurus at them... which turns out to be the same one Belkar was nice to and let out earlier. One Wild Empathy use (and a couple daggers inside the rider) later, Belkar has a new mount. "Flee before me, worms!!", indeed.
  • Anti-Hero: The only thing that separates Belkar from being a Villain Protagonist is that he is pointed towards the Big Bad. In fact, he might have joined Xykon if his poor impulse control didn't have him throw a cat in the recruiter's face for his own amusement.
  • Arch-Enemy: He attempts to invoke this regarding Miko Miyazaki. True to form, he's one of the biggest instigators for her ultimate fall from grace.
  • Ass Shove: Threatened toward a vampire he's suspicious of.
    Belkar: I am going to shove the sunshine so far up where the sun don't shine that you will vomit nothing but warm summer days!!
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: His most iconic moment, after slaughtering an entire army of hobgoblins.
    Haley: Do you want to tell him he probably won't get any experience from killing them?
    Durkon: Let's draw straws.
  • Badass Boast:
    • He triumphantly screams "I AM A SEXY SHOELESS GOD OF WAR!!!!" after having killed several dozen hobgoblins all on his own during the Battle of Azure City.
    • He also gets two good ones in during the Order of the Stick's fight against the Greysky City Thieves Guild:
      • The first is when he and the Cleric of Loki are charging right at roughly a dozen rogues, fighters, and other Thieves Guild employees trying to kill the cleric:
        Belkar: Back me up and I'll cut a path through these guys!
        Cleric of Loki: Sounds good!
        Belkar: Wait, did I say "path"? I mean a five-lane blacktop highway with a two-lane service road — and I'm packing a fist full of tokens and a radar detector!
      • And he gives the second when he's fighting against Crystal after having helped save Haley from her and Bozzok:
        Crystal: Come on, halfling, stand still so I can beat you already! I want to go fight Haley again!
        Belkar: Oh, you poor dumb pickle-woman. The only thing that was making this even sporting was your big green buddy. And he left you hanging, didn't he?
        Crystal: Arrgh!! 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!" But seriously, you? Kill me? Never going to happen.
    • Perhaps his most epic one is during the Order's fight against Tarquin's forces in Windy Canyon, where he manages to use Wild Empathy to perform a Vehicular Turnabout on a freaking Allosaurus.
      Belkar: BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!
      Flee! Flee before me, worms!!
  • Badass Normal: Magical abilities are not needed for him to be a "shoeless god of war". Out of a raiding party of Thieves' Guild rogues there were none left standing, and he slayed enough hobgoblins to create a mountain many times his size. Although as a ranger, he should be able to cast spells... if he didn't have the Wisdom score of a lemming.note 
    Belkar: Hey, lemmings are cute.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Belkar hopes to push Miko over the edge and make her fall as a paladin. He succeeds, but she ends up killing someone he liked in the process.
  • Becoming the Mask: There are gradual hints that Belkar's fake character development is turning into real character development. It becomes very apparent in "Wild Empathy". It happens even more after Durkon is turned into a vampire. Instead of taking the idea of Durkon being back with an alignment adjustment at face value (or brushing it off like the old Belkar might have), he is suspicious of the vampire even when it's costing him points with the rest of the team, points that he was initially faking character development to gain so they'd keep him around. It's likely because Durkon died for him and he won't forget it. This really seems to be more important to him than staying in the Order's good graces, and after, he genuinely considers Durkon to be a friend.
  • Berserk Button: Don't threaten Mr. Scruffy. It won't end well for you. Or point out he loves his cat.
  • The Berserker: He has a couple of barbarian levels, but it's not always obvious when he goes into a rage because he's pretty much always in some kind of foul temper.
  • The Big Guy: He's the most bloodthirsty of the group and has the highest body count (not counting spells). He shares the role with Durkon (ironically, the two are the shortest humanoid members of the party). He even lampshades this in Utterly Dwarfed, noting that he's pretty much only kept around for raw muscle.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Implied, given that he considers forcing family members to spend time with one another to be a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Black Comedy: Thanks to being a Heroic Comedic Sociopath, he's probably the biggest source of dark humor in the whole comic outside of the actual villains.
  • Blood Knight: Fighting and slaughtering living beings is all he initially cared about, and the reason he decided to go on a dungeon crawl. During the group's first confrontation with Xykon, being faced with a virtual army of goblins and undead, Belkar is brought to Tears of Joy.
    Belkar: [sniffles] This is the happiest moment of my life!
  • Brain Bleach: He possesses the (fictional) feat "Craft Disturbing Mental Image".
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Due to his low Wisdom score (Roy notes it is his "dump stat"), Belkar is extremely easy to charm or dominate.
  • Brutal Honesty: Nothing in his Cruel to Be Kind speech is false. It's just delivered in an incredibly offensive way in order to enrage Roy enough to make him want to continue. Of course, it also makes Roy far too eager to believe that the High Priest of Hel is just Durkon with a paint job rather than admit the truth.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: "That Belkar, as stubborn as he is stone-cold sexy."
  • Butt-Monkey: Part of what makes Belkar so entertaining despite being such an objectively horrible person is that he frequently gets the crud kicked out of him whenever his more villainous qualities get highlighted. Even putting aside the numerous insults thrown at him, just over the course of the comic itself Belkar has been enslaved for several months, hung at the gallows, sat on by a horse, beaten up by a paladin twice, forced to deal with V's explosive runes at least eleven different times in a single day, subjected to a powerful magical Restraining Bolt that nearly made him vomit himself to death after he finally broke it, experienced severe sunburn while walking out in the desert, gotten most of his blood drained by a vampire after being Forced to Watch as one of his own teammates performed a Heroic Sacrifice on his behalf, and forced to jump off an airship multiple times by another vampire (who would also throw him off of a mountain later on). Most notably, he's the only known member of the Order of the Stick who (thanks to the Oracle's prophecy) will explicitly get Killed Off for Real before the end of the In-Universe year.
  • Card-Carrying Jerkass: Even when he's trying to help his team, Belkar has to do it the nastiest way possible. In his own words, "Hurting people is the only thing I am good at." Later story arcs imply that this is a coping mechanism he's developed due to being a Sad Clown.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • His tendency to screw with people for his own amusement means he isn't believed at first when he bears the bad news of Durkon's vampirization.
    • Also, at first he's the only one who has serious doubts about Durkon not being Durkon anymore after vampirization. It takes a while before everyone else realizes he's right.
  • Chaotic Stupid: More so in earlier strips, where he would do things like set a tent on fire just to watch it burn — when they are trying to sneak into a camp. Part of his Character Development is him learning to practice Cruel Mercy and show that he can actually be dangerously clever when he really wants to.
  • Character Development:
    • Despite on his surface appearing to be just a one-note Laughably Evil sociopathic Jerkass, Belkar surprisingly evolves by leaps and bounds over the course of the comic, even becoming one of its most dynamic characters by the later story arcs by sincerely developing empathy and caring for his fellow mortals. Justified as the Ranger's very first skill is Wild Empathy. While halflings are rarely evil, it is almost inevitable that a Ranger will get an animal companion (no matter how low their Charisma is or how suboptimal their builds are). The original joke was that Belkar was both a class and race that is generally good and yet he is completely evil for no real reason. However, empathy is literally built right into his main class, and along with the fact that he was always empathic enough to know precisely the way to tear people down through talking, it's perfectly understandable why he would evolve the way he does.
    • The first case is one of deliberately faked character development, which ironically is still real development for him too. To clarify: at the end of the Don't Split the Party, Belkar is in many ways still the same sociopathic murderous halfling, albeit having had a Vision Quest that inspired him to become a surprisingly effective and useful team player (though admittedly just to save his own skin). However, he actually promises someone (Mr. Scruffy) else that he would stick to him to the very end, no matter the outcome, which is something the old Belkar would never have done. In the book commentary for that section the author described the conversion scene in Belkar's Vision Quest as him going from sociopath to slightly more high-functioning sociopath.
    • Blood Runs in the Family continues his growing empathy and cleverness even further. Not only is he a far better team-player than he used to be, but he feels genuine sympathy for Gannji and Enor — the two bounty hunters responsible for his imprisonment — after realizing the parallels between the two of them and his relationship with Mr. Scruffy, even going out of his way to save their lives. Furthermore, he takes Durkon's Heroic Sacrifice on his behalf and resultant vampirization very seriously, developing a hefty amount of Survivor Guilt that hangs over his head into the next story arc while highlighting his deep-seated self-loathing issues. Finally, he shows genuine loyalty to the Order, outright admitting that he should've quit from them a long time ago but he's in for the long haul now. Perhaps most poignantly, during this arc when he's locked in Girard Draketooth's Lotus-Eater Machine, his illusion of a "perfect life" isn't some hyper-violent or sexualized free-for-all like Roy (understandably) assumed, but instead just him hanging out with Lord Shojo and Mr. Scruffy.
    • It's continued in Utterly Dwarfed. He gives a whole speech on the subject in #957, suggesting he's aware that he's no longer quite the same as before. Most notably, he's beginning to show actual empathy for others, although he's so unused to it he doesn't know in advance what will make him feel guilty. He also shows more initiative and creativity, going out of his way to buy magical items to help make him more effective among the Order (which, as Roy later points out, ended up being the only reason the Order won).
      • As an example, in Strip #960, he actually thanks V at the end of it. Not like anything forces him to do that; his faked character growth still includes being pretty berating to people. Similarly, while he still scams the gnome shopkeeper NPC out of a protection from evil charm in #969, he declines going on a date with her out of guilt.
      • The biggest display of his growing empathy can be seen in strip #1130. He's seething in rage at Durkon, but not just because the High Priest of Hel needs to die; it's more because Durkon's death made him think and feel for someone else, possibly for the first time ever, and it hurts. Belkar isn't just fighting a vampire, he's lashing out at his true character development.
        Belkar: You... YOU!... How dare you make me think about things, Durkon!... How could you not think about how your selflessness would affect ME?!?
      • When Hilgya charcoals Durkon (intending to resurrect him again), Belkar is pissed, and looks ready to gut her. This, when Belkar originally would consider killing teammates for XP. Later, in Strip #1164, he actually calls Durkon his "buddy". And later on, in strip #1194, without being prompted, he goes over to check with Minrah to see what buffs she can provide for him in combat so that they both can make the best of their advantages in the Final Battle and not serve as The Load. Not to mention he has an actually pleasant chat with Minrah, a 130%invoked Lawful Good character.
    • His development is perhaps best demonstrated with the following comparison between Dungeon Crawlin' Fools and Utterly Dwarfed (which occurs after Durkon dies): In the former, Belkar abandoned his duties protecting the Order's casters to kill the enemy casters for fun, and didn't even care when Durkon later points out that he would have been executed by the dwarven army for abandoning his post and almost getting him and V killed. Later on, Belkar starts becoming attracted to V and is devastated that he couldn't defend Durkon. When ordered to defend V in a fight against Vampire Durkon in the latter story arc, he is mind-controlled to fight against his team, but with the twist that the rationale his mind develops for it is that he must defend V at all costs and allow no-one to touch them. Before this point, Belkar would either abandon V, complain about them being unconscious and useless, or just try to figure out V's sex. But now? He genuinely doesn't want to lose another teammate, and especially not the one he sympathizes with the most.
    • His character development continues into the final story arc. On strip #1188, Elan is catching Minrah up on the plotline. Belkar shows up and asks to sit in too. He's actually caring about what is going on, not just as a reason to walk the Earth killing things. And, from what we see later while talking tactics with Roy, he paid attention.
    • There's a small but noticeable moment in in strip #1250 where Belkar quickly calls for the fight with Serini to de-escalate, even taking initiative to talk before his fellow party members.
  • Characterization Marches On: In a very early strip he falls for a very brazen con. Though consistent with his low Wisdom, it depends on making him feel guilty about accusing Haley, something he'd never feel once his character is further established. Of course, then his character swings back the other way. It's been stated that Roy has been a positive influence on Belkar, not because he makes Belkar a better man, but because Roy can kick his ass if he steps out of line. Belkar does care about people sometimes, but he is just as likely to stab them in the back when it's convenient to him. The thing is, all of his "buddies" were evil and his current companions are definitely not. In other words, Belkar was probably treating the Order as if they were friends like Buggy Lou up until their better nature started to rub his patience raw. Now that he has experienced more episodes of empathy, he is starting to feel guilty again, but now he's much more jaded and cynical.
  • Charlie Brown Baldness: He's not bald, but the very short hair atop his head is hard to see (unless in close-ups or from behind). Notably, it's identical to the hair on his feet.
  • Chef of Iron: He has ranks in the Profession (Gourmet chef) skill.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The Ring of Jumping +20. First when he uses it to escape from prison in Azure City, and again when he lends it to Roy.
  • Chekhov's Skill: His previous faking of Hidden Depths becomes this in Utterly Dwarfed when he is able to see that Vampire Durkon is also faking Hidden Depths, with him even calling the latter out on it.
    Belkar: People don't just change who they are inside in an instant. It doesn't work like that. It takes time, so you don't even know you're changing. Until one day, you're just a little different than you used to be and you can't even tell what the hell happened.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: He can hardly be bothered killing things that won't scream. It's the main reason why he doesn't like fighting undead, since most of them are mindless to start with, and even the ones who aren't usually can't feel pain anymore. Ironically, they're one of the few things he can kill while under the threat of the Mark of Justice, since the curse only activates if you kill living things.
  • Commonality Connection: He helps two gladiators who are best friends escape after they have been forced to fight each other, because he feels for them after realizing that he would hate to be forced to fight Mr. Scruffy. It comes as a great shock to him.
  • Cruel Mercy: Part of his character development is learning a more refined form of cruelty.
    • When Blind Pete betrays him, Haley, Celia and a cleric of Loki, he doesn't kill the traitor. Instead, he convinces the traitor's Childhood Friend to do so instead, because it will hurt more and be more fun to watch. And, to an extent, he views it as a warped attempt to "help" the friend through teaching him to solve his problems with violence.
    • After reducing Crystal to 0 HP, he doesn't kill her. Instead, he leaves her on the floor, helpless and humiliated, and fetches her rival to kill her instead.
    • He doesn't kill Yukyuk, despite his attack on Mr. Scruffy. Instead, he turns the kobold V had recently brainwashed into Mr. Scruffy's litterbox.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Gives Roy a massive, insulting speech specifically designed to spit in the face of Roy's grief over Durkon's death, which has Roy so demoralized he seriously contemplates giving up the quest. It shocks the team and enrages Roy — which is enough to get Roy off the bench short-term. Unfortunately, it had the long-term effect of Roy going almost completely into denial rather than admit that Durkon is really gone and he is in some sense responsible, which almost had nasty potential consequences for the whole world.
  • Crutch Character: As befitting someone with such a terrible build. He's a veritable Mook-slaughtering machine but has perhaps the lowest success rate of the group against higher-level opponents. Spellcasters in particular tend to steamroll him because he has a laughable Will save. In addition, he's leveling up slower than everyone else because of his multiclassing (and the Mark of Justice severely limiting his killing power at crucial points). He also had the honor of being hired as the party's tracker without having any ranks in Survival, few ranks in Spot, and an abysmal Wisdom score meaning he could barely do his job if at all. Note that Survival is a class skill for both barbarians and rangers. It comes back to haunt him later because he is too underpowered to stealth kill the High Priest of Hel. Instead he has to rely on Charisma and Wisdom to convince the others of the truth. The latter is his Dump Stat and the former is thrown out the window because he's a near-sociopath.
  • Cultural Rebel: There are some implications of this. The retail version of Utterly Dwarfed contains a map of the Northern Continent. The locations of the Halfling Lands have saccharine names like "Cuddlytown", "Happy River" and "Gentleville", which are all descriptors as far away from Belkar's personality as you can get.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Clasp on Belkar's Cloak he buys to stop compulsion magic from constantly turning him into a stooge protects him from evil. Which is harmful to him because he's evil too. Luckily it can be activated and deactivated on touch. It comes in handy when he's the only one that can stand and fight against Vampire Durkon and his minions, but it envelopes him in a yellow glow, and it is obviously excruciating to fight in.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: How Belkar manages to give Roy Brain Bleach, as he implies he's going to fantasize about female Roy.
    Belkar: That's OK. I can always keep the memory of her for when I'm... alone. [gives a smug smile to a visibly horrified Roy]
  • Deadpan Snarker: Belkar is one of the most sarcastic members of the entire Order outside of maybe V and Roy, thanks in large part to his status as the Token Evil Teammate leading to him consistently shooting mean-spirited remarks at his teammates. For instance, below is his reaction after Ian Starshine incorrectly pegs Roy as a plant while they're all stuck in the Empire of Blood's gladiatorial arena/prison:
    Belkar: (while looking at Roy faux-quizzically) A plant, huh? That does explain the sluggish reflexes and wooden personality. Better not let the dwarf know.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype:
    • He's ultimately one for the Token Evil Teammate, albeit given the Decon-Recon Switch.
      • The deconstruction comes into play in how both Belkar is The Friend Nobody Likes and his rampant Jerkassery often comes back to haunt the Order until he learns to wise up and "play the game" (read: become a more effective team player to ensure his continued survival). Furthermore, his actual character build being primarily designed to let him indulge in his Blood Knight habits has resulted in him being a Crutch Character who's only effective against large groups of disposable minions; against any enemy of either the same level as him or higher, Belkar usually gets defeated in short order because he hasn't invested almost any effort in any valuable skills not dedicated to killing and/or tormenting people (except for gourmet cooking).
      • Meanwhile, the reconstruction is in how Roy views his presence on the Order as basically the fantasy equivalent of a work release program for unrepentant criminals, as at least he can vent his destructive tendencies on the bad guys instead of innocent people, and he notes that the other option of just killing him is something that he doesn't want to sink to.
    • On a more specifically D&D-related note, Belkar is a deconstruction of the stereotypical "Munchkin"-type Player Character, with him not only being so hyper-focused on combat that he's a terribly designed Crutch Character in practice, but a large part of his Character Development can be basically summed up as Belkar slowly realizing just how shallow and pathetic it really is to have being a drunken, womanizing and mass-murdering Jerkass as your only end goal in life. Most poignantly, a drunken Belkar eventually confesses to Roy that he really doesn't know what he wants out of life.
  • Defiant to the End: As Miko charges Belkar with murderous intent, he stands his ground, with his last words chosen to get in one last nasty shot at the fallen paladin's ego.
    Belkar: Funny, I always thought I'd be killed by a paladin.
  • Defensive "What?":
    Belkar: Well, I just figured we'd wander around, kill some sentient creatures because they had green skin and fangs and we don't, and then take their stuff. [everyone else in the party glares at him] What?
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Near the end of Utterly Dwarfed, after a drunken Roy tells Belkar that he seriously thinks that the halfling's only goal in life is to be The Millstone, an angry (and equally drunk) Belkar tells Roy that "I have no idea what I want!"
  • Determinator: While his abysmal Will Save makes it useless for resisting Mind Control, he is relentless when spellcasters aren't messing with his mind. Towards the end of Utterly Dwarfed, after his Disney Death, he provides a demonstration of this when it turns out that it takes more than throwing him off a mountain to kill him. He also later powers through the incredibly painful protection from evil charm he got in the same story arc, which allows him to help Durkon kill off the High Priest of Hel once and for all.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Belkar states that he wanted Miko to kill him so that she would fall from paladinhood, claiming Durkon would just cast raise dead. Vaarsuvius points out that they'd need 5,000 gp in diamonds to do it, which Durkon doesn't have at the time. Then again, Wisdom is Belkar's Dump Stat.
  • Disney Death: Thrown off a mountain, courtesy of the High Priest of Hel. He's later seen climbing the rockface promising all sorts of retribution.
  • Dramatic Irony: Only Durkon knows that he controlled his body at the time Belkar staked him. Belkar, the only person who believed he was not in control from the start.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Like all halflings. Ironically, he especially dislikes sandals.
  • Dual Wielding: Two daggers. It is implied that Belkar specifically choose Ranger because of the Two-Weapon Fighting feat.
  • Dump Stat: Wisdom. This comes into play in an early strip, "First Aid": when V buffs Belkar's Wisdom to enable him to use a healing scroll, it completely changes Belkar's personality and life goals. This would not only make Belkar less funny, but also less useful in a fight, so Status Quo Is God...note  Note as well that this is a terrible dump stat for a ranger; Wisdom is the stat that governs perception-based skills, tracking, and divine spellcasting, all of which are central to the ranger's noncombat abilities, and it also governs the ranger's worst regular save, Will. True to form, Belkar is consistently terrible at all of these things.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: It's pretty hard to imagine Belkar ever being shamed like he is in Page #8 these days.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: According to #1043, while he had previously heard of stakes being a useful tool to fight against vampires with, he interpreted it as steaks (as in, the meal) and assumed they killed vampires via "a cholesterol thing."
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Played for Laughs in that not only is he visibly traumatized when Elan decided to run around the Dungeons of Dorukan naked, but he refuses to cut corners on cooking due to being a gourmet chef. After all, he's a professional, and professionals have standards.
    • Played more seriously when he's visibly furious over Hilgya Firehelm almost immediately killing Durkon after resurrecting him, and also shares a dim view of gods due to both the prophecy exiling Durkon from his homeland and the Sadistic Choice hoisted upon the entire dwarven race concerning their afterlife.
    • His comments at the end of Strip #1251 suggest that he in general has an unusually high amoung of respect for the elderly. For one, he was visibly outraged by Miko Miyazaki murdering Lord Shojo (though granted this was mostly due to him having a strong respect for the old man being able to mock Roy to his face). Additionally, when it briefly looks like Lien has just killed Serini with her paladin mount Razor, an exasperated Belkar incredulously asks what is with crazy paladin chicks killing the elderly. Heck, when he comes basically face-to-face with Serini during the Order's initial fight with her, he first offers her to stand down before attacking her due to her being (seemingly) unarmed, and later on comments that it would be disrespectful to not at least haggle with her over the potential bribe she could offer him to turn against his guildmates.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • Pre-Character Development, he struggled with this trope occasionally, such as not understanding why everyone is so against him killing people in On the Origin of PCs or assuming the slaves Haley just liberated in Team Evil-occupied Azure City would work for him because he can't get his head around Haley granting them their freedom.
    • After the Order frees a group of desert travelers that have been captured by slavers, Belkar is presented with a jar of spice from one of the merchants that he has personally saved. Roy has to explain to him that no, it is neither a bribe nor a scam, the man is just grateful for the rescue and wants to thank him... because Belkar can't wrap his head around it.
      Belkar: So wait, I did what I always do, kill people horribly, but because I killed people everyone else wanted me to kill, I get presents instead of jail time?
    • On one occasion, this trope unexpectedly works out in his favor. When he tries to tell the rest of the party that Durkon has been turned by a vampire and Roy dismisses it as a lie, he mentions that Durkon's last request to the vampire was for his comrades to be spared. This causes Haley to believe him, since Belkar is so selfish and sociopathic that he wouldn't have thought to include that detail if he were lying.
    • Strip #1115 shows a more serious example. He is clearly having a very difficult time with Durkon sacrificing himself for him. Durkon's intense selfless good action for him despite everything Belkar has done has moved the halfling, but he has large amounts of trouble confronting those feelings.
    • He and Durkon have a conversation about this trope once the dwarf's really Durkon again. Belkar describes it as the cowardice of being unable to handle "intense hardcore introspection" and realize how bad you've been. Then he apologizes for hitting Durkon in the face with a palm tree.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Inverted in his Good Counterpart, the late Yokyok, whose father he killed earlier in the comic.
    • Also both inverted and played straight by Yokyok's aforementioned father Yikyik, who's Belkar's counterpart and is genuinely evil because he's just like Belkar.
    • Yukyuk, whose relation to Yikyik and Yokyok is currently unknown, but he seems to be as evil as Yikyik.
    • Miron Shrewdanker, introduced among the Vector Legion and not-so-coincidently when Belkar's fake Character Development is slowly starting to make him Become the Mask, is basically an eviler version of Belkar, albeit being either a sorcerer or wizard rather than a ranger-barbarian.
  • Expert in Underwater Basket Weaving: His rank in gourmet chef has little use as an adventurer. Not even as Team Chef since the ingredients rarely match gourmet cuisine and he won't cut corners. It does come in handy when they have to bribe the Monster in the Darkness with some food to get Roy's corpse back, and Belkar manages to scrounge up an entire pot of stew despite extremely limited time and resources.
  • Failed a Spot Check: All the time. He's almost as oblivious as Elan, which makes his postion as the party's ranger even more worthless.
  • Fantastic Racism: As part of being a ranger and his designated bonus against a selected race, he hates kobolds. It is subverted regarding Vampire Durkon/the High Priest of Hel. He can handle the fangs, but he doesn't buy that Durkon could go from forgiving him to eagerly drinking his blood in seconds.
  • Fatal Flaw: His arrogance and inability to properly consider the repercussions of his actions. Makes sense considering that his Dump Stat is Wisdom.
  • Fiery Redhead: Well, if you consider violently sociopathic "fiery" at least. While Belkar appears to be bald, he has very close cropped red hair (usually only seen from the back).
  • Fluffy Tamer: As a ranger, he has Wild Empathy (which lets him easily tame and control animals), but he doesn't use his skills much. However, he does eventually get an Allosaurus on his side.
  • Fragile Speedster: More like "Fragile Jumper", but the end result is more or less the same. While Belkar is a Glass Cannon thanks to his terrible build, his Ring of Jumping +20 combined with his high Dexterity results in him utilizing an evasion-focused form of combat where he constantly leaps around the battlefield, stabbing any poor sod that gets in his way before he bounces out of their reach and reaches his next target. In other words, Belkar can be taken out of combat (relatively) easily... but it's going to be a major challenge for anyone to manage to hit him in the first place when he's effectively vaulting himself across the battlefield.
  • Freudian Excuse:invoked Word of the Giant is that Belkar's hellish upbringing is the primary reason why he is the way he is. Interestingly, however, he has stated that they deliberately intend to not touch on Belkar's past in the comic proper so as to not make Belkar's Laughably Evil Comedic Sociopathy come across as Harsher in Hindsight. When we do finally get to hear about his upbringing in any capacity, he notes that an old halfling yelling insults and trying to bribe him reminds him of Granny Bitterleaf, and earlier on also claimed that an angry sorceress threatening to kill and torture multiple people made him think of his Aunt Judy (though granted, Belkar was woozy from being held upside-down for a prolonged period of time).
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Due to being both The Millstone the vast majority of the time prior to (and even sometimes still after) his "fake" Character Development and just being an all-around Jerkass, Belkar is by far the least popular member of his own team, to the point where only Elan (and later on, Minrah) are typically shown to have any real concern for his well-being. This gets slightly downplayed as the comic goes on and the whole Order of the Stick grow into a group of True Companions... but only slightly.
  • Glass Cannon: Roy unsubtly shows him that he isn't as good at taking damage as he is at dishing it out, and he should stick to slaughtering Mooks.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: He's stated to have an abysmal Wisdom score, and can't cast Ranger spells as a consequence. Despite this, he's pretty cunning even if he sucks at tracking, instinctively knows the worst way to hurt someone with words, often quickly pieces together what's happening with limited information, and has twice been the only one to notice that there was an impostor in the party. Granted, one was a case of The Nose Knows and the other paralleled his own development, so he may have had a circumstance bonus.
  • Gay Bravado:
    • Is "confident enough in his sexuality" that he can make come-ons at a gender-bent Roy to gross the latter out.
    • Later, when Roy and Belkar see Tarquin's face for the first time, they both Gasp! (thanks to his resemblance to Elan). Belkar covers by saying having hung out with sweaty gladiators, he and Roy had become gay and want to sleep with him. Tarquin chuckles that he's getting married but takes the compliment just the same. After he leaves:
      Belkar: [on the brink of guffawing] Caress, caress, caress, caress my little supple body!
      Roy: Do you WANT to get hit with the big stick again?!
      Belkar: That's what HE said!
  • Geas: The Mark of Justice will make him horribly ill to deter him from killing in a settlement. He breaks it half by accident. He kills the Oracle of Sunken Valley, but the Oracle had moved just enough kobolds into the area to technically constitute a settlement.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Hilariously subverted; Strip #435 shows that he's instead got two shoulder fiends (representing his impulsive evil side and his long-term evil side), and ainvoked shoulder slaad. The shoulder angel "...doesn't work here anymore."
    Angel: [in a straight-jacket, twitching] ...and he kept stabbing them, again and again... He's a halfling, he's supposed to be jolly... Why isn't he jolly? WHY ISN'T HE JOLLY???
  • Good Feels Good: Very subtle, but it's there. Belkar has a "Eureka!" Moment when Durkon talks about the seductive power of good in the Good Feels Good trope in Durkon's character page below, and realizes why he's developing true Hidden Depths after trying to fake them.
  • Hazy-Feel Turn: He's stillinvoked Chaotic Evil beyond any shred of a doubt, but his Vision Quest has inspired him to start engaging more in Pragmatic Villainy in lieu of Stupid Evil. Complicating matters is how he's also starting to develop his own sense of empathy for his fellow sapients.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: A textbook example; his bloodlust and sociopathy are almost entirely Played for Laughs, with one of his funniest moments being that time he tried to kill Elan for XP.
  • Heroic Willpower:
  • He's Back!: After spending dozens of strips invalid from sickness, he returns in a Crowning Slaughter of Awesome.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Averted at first. Belkar has no depth at all, and his hallucination of Lord Shojo tells him that he better fake some Hidden Depths or he'll find himself in deep trouble. However, his attempts to fake it over time end up gradually growing into some sort of genuine depth.
    • His absolute hatred for Vampire Durkon/High Priest of Hel could be a manifestation of Belkar's grief over Durkon's death, to the point where he eventually gains a hefty amount of Survivor Guilt over it. This is all but confirmed in Strip #1130, where Belkar shouts at Vampire Durkon in frustration at how Durkon's selflessness would have affected the halfling.
    • Belkar, despite being a terrible ranger in the usual ranger skills like Survival, has ranks in Cooking. Gourmet, too! Similarly, as evidenced by Nale's charm person spell, he apparently knows the entire score to Meet Me in St. Louis.
      Belkar: [while chasing Durkon] Clang clang clang, goes the trolley!
      Durkon: Git away from me, ye daft fool!
      Belkar: Ring ring ring, goes the bell!
    • Speaking of him being the worst ranger ever, despite being completely unable to track anyone even if his life depended on it, he's actually remarkably perceptive and clever when it comes to his fellow teammates. The vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech he gives Roy to incentivize him back into action is surprisingly detailed and uncomfortably accurate, and he's also the first member of the Order to suspect that Vampire Durkon wasn't the real McCoy and was just pretending to have had a change of heart.
    • Hilariously, the only depth Belkar had at the beginning was that he was implied (and later confirmed in the print version of Don't Split the Party) to be attracted (on some level, at the very least) to Vaarsuvius. During War and XPs V theorizes that Belkar only has two ways of feeling about people other than himself: hating people or lusting after people. It also helps that V is True Neutral and, despite hating Belkar for his idiocy and perversion, they usually fall closer to tolerating Belkar's evil. Belkar also admires V's brutality and pragmatic and callous attitude. Belkar has fondness for people but is not attracted towards them, meaning his attraction to V isn't just his brain accidentally switching to "lust" like V's theory. Instead, he legitimately likes them in his own twisted way despite them butting heads a lot.
    • In Strip #1268, when he, the Order and their allies are all laying out various random skills and talents they've picked up over the years, Belkar mentions that he knows how to make soap before quickly noting that they shouldn't ask why.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold:
    • He seems to have developed one where Durkon is concerned. Despite outwardly hating him, Belkar was deeply affected by Durkon's Heroic Sacrifice to save him from Malack, and Belkar has greatly missed Durkon since then, as seen in his absolute hatred for the vampire possessing his corpse.
    • He also has a soft spot for his animal companions, as befitting a ranger. Most notably, he's downright adorable whenever he's fussing over Mr. Scruffy, and desperately begs Blackwing to save Bloodfeast during the finale of Blood Runs in the Family.
  • Hobbits: He averts every expectation of his race except his skill as a chef. And height. And pondering I Should Write a Book About This... but it's about the prisons he was incarcerated in, so maybe half a point for that.
  • Homoerotic Subtext:
    • He "gets the tingles" when Roy goes all badass, and later on grins and comments "I love when you talk fighting dirty to me" when Roy comes up with an ambush plot.
    • See also New Year's Eve. Further, the fourth book includes a Cast Page with lines indicating the relationships between the characters. According to this, Belkar wants to "shtup" V, which means exactly what you think it does.
  • Hunter of Monsters: As a Ranger, he gets Favored Enemies as a class feature, and if his angry threats towards a vampire are to be believed, his time in Azure City made The Undead one of them.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Sarcastically refuses to join in when everyone else is saying nice things about Durkon... only to bitterly mutter to himself that he never forgot that Durkon didn't blame him when he was dying at Malack's hands.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • "What kind of idiot could screw up something as simple as protecting the casters?" Belkar's that kind of idiot, that's who.
    • If anyone's going to smacktalk about bad class decisions, it's Belkar. The guy who might have the dubious honor of having the worst class decisions on the team, possibly the entire comic.
  • I Choose to Stay: For the first several story arcs, Belkar only stuck around with the rest of the Order because he was hired to serve as their ranger, and even then he eventually had to be given a Mark of Justice to not be an active threat to everyone around him. However, after his Vision Quest inspires him to fake Character Development so as to stay alive, he starts to become more genuinely loyal to the Order and seems to have decided to stay on for the long haul. He even lampshades this in Strip #946:
    Belkar: [after hearing Roy's Rousing Speech] I was going to object, but if I had half a brain I'd have bailed ages ago.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Despite the fact that his Fatal Flaw is his massive ego, Belkar is gradually revealed to have immense self-loathing issues and a profound lack of self-worth. Not only does he bitterly remark during Blood Runs in the Family that "Hurting people is the only thing I'm good at," but he also notes while drunk in Utterly Dwarfed that he has absolutely no real idea for what he wants to do with his life.
  • Informed Flaw: Downplayed due to him engaging in a lot of Stupid Evil antics prior to his fake Character Development (i.e., setting the tents of a bandit camp on fire out of boredom when he, Haley, and Vaarsuvius were all trying to sneak into the camp), but he never shows a lack of Intelligence on par with his Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Vaarsuvius' claims that Belkar isn't even fully sapient and only sees people from a binary "Hate/Lust" perspective. In fact, Belkar has actually shown himself to be remarkably intelligent whenever he genuinely applies himself, as seen with his (mostly) Combat Pragmatist attitude when fighting with Miko, him outwitting Yokyok despite being restricted by the Mark of Justice at the time, him giving an uncomfortably frank and insightful "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Roy after Roy suggests that they all give up upon learning of Durkon's vampirization, and being able to instantly (and correctly) choose on the fly the necessary measure to save the entire Order after Girard's Gate is broken. Roy is even able to succesfully defend himself in the afterlife from a bureaucratic deva accusing him of enabling Belkar's worst tendencies by pointing out he's effectively Belkar's mobile jail warden, and that's necessary because Belkar's too intelligent to stay locked up in any single prison for long.
  • In the Hood: When trying to be sneaky (or when it's rainy or snowy/cold), Belkar puts on a dark green hood.
  • I Owe You My Life: Durkon's Heroic Sacrifice, which Belkar is both grateful and upset about.
  • Irony:
    • His attempts at faking Character Development have actually incited genuine Character Development by forcing him to become more pragmatic, clever, empathetic, and a genuine "team-player".
    • In #1182, Belkar gets frustrated when he's behaving like (pre-character development) Roy and a drunken Roy is acting disinterested just like (pre-character development) Belkar.
      Belkar: You can't just start being Old Me when I'm being Old You! If nothing else, Old Me was way easier!!
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Parodied, like countless other halfling-related tropes.
    Belkar: You know, I think I could make good money writing a guidebook to the jail cells of the world.
    Dark but clean, I'd give this three stars — "Would be incarcerated again."
  • It's All My Fault: He doesn't say it out loud, but he obviously blames himself for Durkon becoming a vampire since it happened when he was protecting him from Malack, and he was unable to help due to Malack's domination. What really gets to him is that Durkon didn't blame him for it.
  • I Will Show You X!: When Belkar's newfound friend Buggy Lou suggests eating Mr. Scruffy with a nice marinade.
  • Jerkass: His main selling point is his unapologetic meanness, selfishness, and asshattery. Even after he starts to Take a Level in Kindness and moves past being The Millstone, Belkar will still go out of his way to be an utter prick For the Evulz. For instance, when Roy and Vampire Durkon are looking around Gnometown for clerics that could resurrect Durkon, Belkar offers to go with them and terrify the gnome clerics because he thinks watching their little church-hats fly off their heads in fear would be adorable. This even gets a hilarious lampshade near the beginning of Utterly Dwarfed, as when he's trying to turn V against Vampire Durkon by telling them about how the latter had just taken their best shot at killing him, V's response is to just sarcastically point out how attempted murder is pretty much everyone's response after having had to spend more than ten minutes in the same room with Belkar.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Belkar sometimes has a better idea of what's going on than his goody-two-shoes companions.
    • Even Hinjo, a paladin, has to admit it once, about why his uncle would refuse resurrection.
      Belkar: The spirit needs to be willing to return, right? But Shojo is kicking back in whatever afterlife theinvoked Chaotic Good people get — probably sipping single-malt scotch and smoking cigars rolled from poorly-worded legal documents. Why the hell would he want to come back here, knowing that you're waiting to throw him in prison? Considering he was like a billion years old and likely to die soon anyway, I'd say he got the last laugh on y'all.
      Hinjo: He's probably right... It looks like I'm on my own, then.
    • A semi-Played for Laughs example; shortly after the destruction of Soon's Gate, he gives Hinjo a "The Reason You Suck" Speech where he tells The Paladin that Honor Before Reason is for chumps and that he should be willing to put that honor aside for the greater good. While he freely admits that it was partly him taking an "Insult of Opportunity" since Hinjo had already been encouraged to retreat before then, Belkar's overall points aren't entirely wrong.
      Belkar: Do what you need to do for your lame blue city, even if you turn a lovely shade of tan for it. Your uncle had it figured out, but he was less of a wuss than you are. Your stupid sissy honor isn't more important than making sure that when it's all over, Xykon has been stomped into the dirt.
    • As noted above, nothing in Belkar's Cruel to Be Kind Rousing Speech to Roy is incorrect. Sure, they could leave now... but it would be tacitly accepting the world's destruction, leaving everyone's deaths on their heads, and would also be dishonoring Durkon's fate by letting his death be a Senseless Sacrifice.
    • Belkar's rampant paranoia and insistence that Vampire Durkon be killed at the first calm moment was probably the best course of action all things considered.
    • Amusingly, one of the things that unnerves Belkar is the fact that Roy has been agreeing with him lately ever since Roy found out the truth about the High Priest of Hel.
    • Later on, he also points out to Roy that the two of them aren't that different in terms of intentionally crippling their character builds due to their psychological issues: Sure, Belkar might be a Crutch Character and terrible ranger most of the time thanks to his Comedic Sociopathy, but Roy refusing to invest points in magic for his fighter class or even go out of his way to purchase magical items aside from his Cool Sword primarily to stick it to his Jerkass wizard father are just as stupid and petty of decisions when they're all eventually going to be facing Xykon.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Technically speaking, Belkar counts as this trope no matter his Hidden Depths, Pet the Dog moments, and Character Development as his In-Universe alignment isinvoked Chaotic Evil. However, thanks to Character Development, he might actually be closer to Jerk With a Heart Vaguely Containing Some Form of Precious Metal than what he may seem at first glance. Sure, he's an utter ass, but he still has at least some moral standards (as few as they are) and is shown on multiple occasions to be developing an actual sense of empathy for the people around him.
  • Karma Houdini: Roy tries to wrangle a deal to spare Belkar prison time on two occasions, although both are ultimately subverted.
    • The first one is when Roy demanded a temporary "get out of jail free card" from Shojo in exchange for investigating the Gates, which became permanent once Azure City was conquered. Though Belkar didn't get away completely scot-free. He did have to have that Mark of Justice stuck on his head in exchange for his "freedom".
    • The second time, he tried to match the jail time Belkar would serve with the amount of time he would be pardoned for in exchange for a good deed. Unfortunately, he explained this plan in front of the person in charge of both the jail time and the pardon, so Hinjo used his discretion to give Belkar the longer sentence for trying to beat the system.
  • Kavorka Man: He is successful at seducing human women (with obviously low standards) from time to time. He later has the chance to go on a date with a gnome girl, but declines out of guilt.
  • Kill It with Fire: "When in doubt, set something on fire." He notably tricks Miko into dousing herself in sake before throwing a lit match.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: With Vaarsuvius in Azure City due to new year's beer.
  • The Lancer: After Durkon gets Vamped, he's the one who's the most willing to call Roy out for being Genre Blind. Haley's still second-in-command, but she's more supportive and less abrasive than Belkar is.
  • Laughably Evil: Belkar is a remorseless and unapologetic murderer along with being a near-sociopathic Jerkass who ultimately seems to only really be on the side of the Order of the Stick due to Evil Versus Oblivion (and later on both personal loyalty and the simple fact that he gets a salary), but he's also probably the second-funniest evil character in the entire comic after Xykon, being very sarcastic, absurdly full of himself, and cheerfully amoral to a fault.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Belkar provides a near-perfect example of how a Leeroy can cause havoc in "A Lesson in Leadership".
  • Level Grinding: Thanks to his terrible build, it takes Belkar months of killing off undead to get one level after the Time Skip, and it's drained almost immediately by a wight. He's understandably ticked.
  • Logical Weakness: The protection from evil clasp he buys during Utterly Dwarfed to prevent himself from getting mind-controlled also hurts him since he himself is Chaotic Evil.
  • Made a Slave: In the prequel story "Uncivil Servant", Belkar mentions having recently spent seven months as a slave.
  • Magically Inept Fighter: It's noted early on that, as a Ranger, Belkar should be capable of casting spells, but because his Wisdom score is so miserable, he's unable to. Combine that with his general preference for engaging in melee combat, and you have a very unusual example by D&D standards.
  • The Man They Couldn't Hang: "Hangin' Around". He is offended by humans who think their methods of execution would work on a halfling.
    Belkar: I'm not even pulling this rope taut.
  • Meaningful Name: His last name being "Bitterleaf" not only indicates that he's (technically, at least) a ranger through its allusions to the wilderness, but him being an overall bitter and unpleasant person. However, it can also be interpreted as a subtle Foreshadowing for how his Character Development is causing him to "turn over a new leaf" (i.e., him Taking a Level in Kindness).
  • The Millstone: Belkar's sociopathy and frequent refusal to listen to orders ruin the party's planning several times — for example, leaving the spellcasters undefended to kill goblins, setting the bandit camp on fire because he's bored, or killing the Oracle. He has somewhat grown out of it after his Vision Quest... except for that time in the Empire of Blood's prison when he pushed Roy to snap during the gladiator selection for the games, dooming the leader of the OotS to a dangerous fight in the arena (though granted, Gannji was also somewhat to blame there).
    Roy: You're the anal fistula of this quest.
  • Mind Screw: His favorite way of being a Jerkass to his teammates. He claims to have taken the feat "Craft Disturbing Mental Image".
  • Mirror Character: Both Belkar and Vaarsuvius have always opted for a brute force style in facing their problems, but thanks to Character Development, they've also seen other ways of looking at the world. To drive the point even further, they both have dark fates in store; Belkar is slated to permanently die before the end of the year, while V is indebted to the service of the IFCC for 44 minutes and 16 seconds.
  • Morality Chain: Without Roy's restraining influence, he would be an even worse psychopath, as demonstrated in Don't Split the Party where without Roy, he becomes more impulsively evil, and only the Mark of Justice keeps him in check.
  • Morality Pet: Mr. Scruffy, Belkar's literal pet (though as a Ranger, his animal companion is a better term). While Mr. Scruffy seems to be more ruthless and violent under Belkar's influence, in at least one case, Mr. Scruffy's relationship to Belkar influenced him to rescue two previous enemies (Gannji and Enor) because they reminded him too much of himself and Scruffy.
  • Munchkin: This is a very good summary of his personality, particularly at the beginning of the comic. For example, at one point he wants to murder his team member Elan just to get the necessary XP to level up.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: At least at the beginning of the comic, Belkar works on the definition of "Enemy combatant = anyone worth XP".
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: He can block a half-orc and a woman twice his size at the same time because character class matters more than physical strength.
    Belkar: Wow, it's almost like I am a seasoned warrior and you two are glorified pickpockets! Imagine that!
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Though he doesn't quite think it through, he attempts this as a tactic to hold Miko back. While raise dead is magically easy for Durkon, it is not economically feasible for the party just for shits and giggles; he also overestimates the party's willingness to resurrect him (at one point, Haley was ready to dump a dying Belkar once and for all, and would have if not for an Easy Amnesia spell).
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: He gets this treatment a few times because he is The Friend Nobody Likes. For instance, below is a conversation between Durkon and Hilgya during Dungeon Crawlin' Fools after they get separated from the Order.
    Durkon: They be a fine group, for humans. And an elf.
    Hilgya: And a halfling.
    Durkon: No, I left 'im out on purpose.
  • The Napoleon: Short and bad-tempered? Check. Short jokes are a dangerous bet around him. He and Minrah even form a certain level of camaraderie in the final arc based on their shared annoyance of having to physically look up at their taller guildmates.
  • Naytheist: He has a not completely unfounded dislike of the gods, particularly Odin for the prophecy with Durkon, and is convinced he is just screwing with them.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: For a given value of "hero"; even putting all of his various instances as The Millstone aside, him helping goad Miko Miyazaki into becoming a Fallen Paladin ends up killing Lord Shojo — one of the few people he actually likes — and helps leave Azure City open to Team Evil's invasion.
  • The Nicknamer: Belkar loves to give ludicrous (but creative) nicknames to about everyone or everything (including himself), but especially for Durkon.note 
  • Nominal Hero: Roy keeps him around because it's better to have him pointed at people worse than him than having him kill at random, and the other option is slitting his throat.
  • The Nose Knows: "Halfling sense activated!" Notably, Belkar tracks the Order's way through the Windy Canyon by scent alone. He also uses scent to realize that Nale is impersonating Elan.
  • Not Good with People: Post-fake-Character Development, Belkar becomes remarkably loyal and friendly to certain animals. While he'd gladly leave his teammates out to dry, he won't do the same to an animal he's befriended. Then again, evil or no, he's a ranger.
  • No, You: Indirectly to the High Priest of Hel after being tossed off a mountain while angrily climbing back.
    Belkar: Throw me off a mountain?! I'll throw you off a mountain!
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: After Vampire Durkon joins the Order: "I just don't trust the idea of us using a horrible bloodthirsty savage to fulfill our goals while we — oh, I get it."
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Any actual "friendship" would be odd, but he really seems to care about Mr. Scruffy.
    • He also is on good terms with Lord Shojo, and is upset when he dies.
      Belkar: [to Lord Shojo] Dude, you order paladins to clean the litter box. You're, like, my idol.
    • He's also surprisingly amiable with Elan. He makes him laugh, and he entrusted Mr. Scruffy in Elan's care while he was temporarily imprisoned by the Empire of Blood.
    • Post faked Character Development and Durkon's time as a vampire, he gets along remarkably well with Durkon, unironically referring to him as his buddy and giving him one of his few genuine apologies.
    • Additionally, he also gets along surprisingly well with Minrah, even talking about his Survivor Guilt to her during the Utterly Dwarfed arc and bonding with her in the final story arc over their shared annoyance in having to literally look up to the rest of the party thanks to their short statures. She even apologizes to him before she has to cast calm emotions on him during the Order's fight with Serini.
  • One-Man Army:
  • Only Sane Man: Belkar is the only member of the Order who knew that Vampire Durkon wasn't really Durkon from the beginning. Hilariously enough, when Durkon is resurrected and he loudly complains about this to the rest of the Order, Belkar's only response is an equally exasperated "I know, right?!".
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Yet another way he will screw with people's minds, generally through Confound Them with Kindness — especially in contrast to his normal psychopathic fare.
    • Played for Laughs when he invokes this in "Horse Sense" to troll Roy:
      Belkar: Are you feeling OK? I'm really worried about you.
    • In "Probably About an '8'", the below comment sends Celia and Haley running away screaming:
      Belkar: I think they've worked out a good plan to end this pointless conflict without any more lives lost, and I support it fully. Let's stop the violence. [big grin]
    • However, this is played straight in a rather grim fashion when he's reporting to the rest of the party that Malack has turned Durkon into a vampire, and is still in at least some form of shock over Durkon's Heroic Sacrifice. When an outraged Roy is about to kill him out of denial-induced fury, Belkar isn't terrified or outraged like he normally would be in this type of situation, but more bitterly resigned and infuriated that Roy isn't listening to him.
      Roy: I shouldn't wait for some prophecy. I should just finish you off myself before one of your stupid antics really do get one of us killed!
      Belkar: How could this possibly be a joke?! Where's the punchline?! I know you're the Straight Man around here, so telling jokes isn't really your area of expertise. But trust me, there's nothing funny about it.
    • Played in a relatively straight (and exceptionally awesome) fashion in "Payback" when he finally uses one of his Ranger skills — Wild Empathy — to effectively turn the tide of battle almost singlehandedly:
      Roy: OK, now, I know we're doomed. Belkar is acting like a ranger.
    • After Roy finally realizes that Vampire Durkon was Evil All Along, Belkar starts to give him more serious and useful advice than his usual sociopathic remarks, such as noting how this issue could've been avoided if Roy had taken all of his teammates' concerns more into account regarding the situation.
    • In Strip #1164, instead of his former mindless stabbing in spite of obstacles in his way, Belkar tells the Exarch vampire how Durkon broke free, and encourages him to do the same. That's right, Belkar's graduated to a crude form of psychological warfare.
    • Right near the end of Utterly Dwarfed, he stays up through most of the night with Minrah to listen to Elan recap the plot so as to make sure that they're all up to speed and can best prepare for moving forward. Here, Belkar is going out of his way to make sure he won't be acting as The Load for the Order by keeping himself up to date with what's going on.
    • Near the very beginning of the final arc, Belkar goes out of his way to check in with Minrah after talking with Roy so he can see what spells/buffs she can provide to him and the rest of the Order in the Final Battle. This has Belkar being genuinely helpful and looking out for someone else on his team without any outside prompting at all.
    • There's multiple cases during the Order's fight with Serini Toormuck in the final story arc. First, after Haley tackles the old halfling to the ground and disarms her, Belkar actually tries to talk Serini down by noting that he's armed and she isn't, when a younger Belkar would've likely stabbed her without question. He then tries to be diplomatic two more times during the fight and resultant discussion, first when Haley and Serini are in the middle of a Mexican Standoff, and second when he snaps and aggressively convinces her to stand down and work with the Order and Sapphire Guard (though granted, the incredibly cynical logic — backed up by Haley — he uses to convince her is very much in Belkar's typical wheelhouse).
  • Pet the Dog:
    • In one bonus strip from the first book, he shares his rations (which are way better than the rations Durkon brought) with Elan, complete with dessert.
    • Parodied when he lampshades that he's so impressed by Haley's effortless Curb-Stomp Battle of 22 hobgoblins during them heading over to rescue Roy's corpse after the Fall of Azure City that he decides to not ruin the moment by making a sexist remark.
    • A near-literal and consistent case with Mr. Scruffy, who is possibly the only thing he's ever cared for unconditionally (at least before Bloodfeast).
    • There is also the time when he saves the two reptilian bounty hunters (Gannji and Enor) by releasing an Allosaurus to distract the soldiers trying to kill them. It's pointed out that he could have just waited for the soldiers to kill them before letting loose the Allosaurus: bunch of dead guards, on their own, would have been funny, but dead mercenaries that he hated and eaten guards? Hilarious in his eyes. "Wild Empathy" reveals that he helped them because it reminded him of his relationship with Mr. Scruffy.
    • Furthermore, after the aforementioned Allosaurus gets polymorphed into a lizard? Belkar refuses to leave it behind when the team makes their escape from Tarquin.
    • He tries to buy a charm to protect himself from Vampire Durkon, but it being a protection from evil charm, it's just painful for Belkar since he's evil himself. He plays it off as damaged goods and buys it anyway at half price. The gnome girl selling it is grateful that she won't have to write it off as a loss, and offers to take him to lunch — he declines out of guilt.
    • He accompanies Durkon and Roy to the Godsmoot solely to keep an eye on the vampire, and confides to Wrecan that he's concerned that Vampire Durkon might attack the other clerics.
    • After talking to a resurrected Durkon and contemplating how that becoming good being just as seductive as becoming evil means that villains are cowards "who can't handle intense hardcore introspection", he apologizes to Durkon for whacking him in the face with a palm tree during the Order's time in the desert.
    • Played for Laughs after Vaarsuvius, Blackwing, and Haley return from scouting out Kraagor's Tomb; after politely saying that he's glad that V and Blackwing returned safely from their dangerous scouting mission, he immediately asks to use V's Prestidigitation cantrip to flavor his breakfast since there's no cinnamon aboard the Mechane. Then, when he suddenly realizes how selfish that sounds, he apologizes for not waiting longer and asks V to fly away and come back so he can try again.
    • It's subtle, but in #1230, when Elan reminisces over how mean Roy, V, and Belkar used to be to him before his Character Development made him no longer The Load, Belkar gives a "kinda-sorta" apology alongside Roy's more genuine apology to Elan.
      Roy: (to Elan) I mean... you're right. I've tried to get better but I don't think I've ever really apologized for how I treated you in the past. I'm sorry.
      Belkar: (while looking down at the ground, visibly uncomfortable) Um, yeah, what he said.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Seemingly played straight, but typically subverted in practice. He's the shortest member of the Order and one of the shortest in the whole comic, yet his body count is many times taller than what it may seem. However, he usually attacks NPCs who have no class (and therefore gets no XP from them) or low-level humanoids, and pretty much any of his teammates even one-on-one would wipe the mat with him.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: While "hero" is obviously a strong term given Belkar's alignment, he is still working to save the world like his teammates. Many times in the comic, he was portrayed as a womanizer who really only saw most other women as sexual objects. After the Order defeats the Linear Guild in Cliffport, Belkar taunts that Roy spent his time "getting smacked around by a girl". He eventually grows out of this behavior, however.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: He kills an assassin who wanted to murder Hinjo during the Battle of Azure City, as he figured that Hinjo might remove his Mark of Justice out of gratitude. Furthermore, as he later lays out to Roy in Girard's pyramid, he's been acting as a better team player for the Order so that they'll all get off his back and won't just leave him to rot.
  • Properly Paranoid: He considers this a necessary quality for an adventurer. For example, he's completely right about all the High Priest of Hel's attempts to pass off as Durkon. He notes that someone doesn't just change within 90 seconds from forgiving him for not being able to save his life to having to be ordered to not drink all their blood.
    Belkar: Whatever happened to basic adventurer paranoia, though? It's like these people never had a ceiling come to life and try to smother them before!
  • Prophecy Twist: He asks the Oracle of the Sunken Valley if he will be responsible for the deaths of Roy, Miko Miyazaki, Windstriker, Vaarsuvius, or the Oracle himself. The answer he gets is "Yes". And the Oracle is ultimately proven to be right, in a way:
    • Belkar's torment of Miko accelerated her Sanity Slippage, resulting in her becoming a Fallen Paladin, which ultimately resulted in her death. Additionally, Windstriker is permanently stuck in the Celestial Planes thanks to Miko's Fall and death, which was due in part to Belkar's influence.
    • During the Fall of Azure City, Belkar lends his Ring of Jumping to Roy, after which Roy was killed by falling from Xykon's undead dragon steed.
    • After hearing the Oracle invoke Exact Words to justify the above prophecies, an infuriated Belkar decides to make sure at least part of his prophecy definitely happens by stabbing and killing the Oracle.
    • And finally, without Belkar, the Linear Guild wouldn't have spotted the Order after the Dungeon of Dorukan, causing the Order to retrieve the starmetal. If the Order had never retrieved the starmetal, Vaarsuvius wouldn't have had to kill the black dragon, which wouldn't have made his mother to come after V. And if that had never happened, V wouldn't have had to undergo the Soul Splice, which ultimately resulted in them being "trapped in the afterlife" (which can be considered a death in a sense) due to their deal with the directors of the IFCC.
  • Psycho Knife Nut: Belkar dual-wields tiny daggers and he's the psychopathic Token Evil Teammate.
  • Quit Your Whining: In his own way, he does this to Roy when the latter is in a Heroic BSoD over Durkon's death.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: With a touch of Real Men Cook. He has ranks in gourmet cooking, he knows the score to "Meet Me in St. Louis" and his best friend is a small, white housecat.
  • Restraining Bolt: The Mark of Justice. It works even better than Roy's threats of bodily harm. It keeps him locked down for a while until he makes the mistake of killing the kobold Oracle while in what barely counts as a village. It's been removed since then.
  • Ring of Power: A Ring of Jumping +20; he puts it to very good use in terms of making himself into a Fragile Jumper Glass Cannon.
    Belkar: A magic item that can allow me to rain death from above on my enemies and lets me reach stuff on the top shelf? Done.
  • Rooting for the Empire: In-Universe; in #690, Belkar, reading Dune, is visibly panicked and warning Baron Harkonnen that Leto has a poison tooth.
  • Rousing Speech: His Cruel to Be Kind one, however atypical its content is, certainly galvanizes Roy into continuing the fight against Team Evil.
  • Running Gag: The entire species of kobolds being his arch-nemesis.
  • Sad Clown: It gradually becomes clear that Belkar uses his bloodlust, meanspirited sense of humor, and Jerkassery as ways to avoid thinking about his self-loathing issues and (later on) his Survivor Guilt. This is perhaps best showcased when he's talking to Minrah about his aforementioned guilt for Durkon having sacrificed himself for Belkar's sake:
    Minrah: I can see you have complex feelings about your co-worker, but we should—
    Belkar: No, I don't!! And if I stab something in the face enough times, they'll go away!!
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The one the Oracle gives him regarding Belkar killing him. He makes sure it happens the way he likes.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Has this dynamic with Vaarsuvius for the first few arcs, though it seems to have finally faded by the time of Blood Runs in the Family, to the point where they're almost civil to one another during Utterly Dwarfed.
  • Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Though this role falls most often to talking animals, he's snarky, he's non-human, and he's a psycho, so he still fits into this trope.
  • The Sociopath: Initially played this trope very straight (particularly in regards to how one of the symptoms of sociopathy is irrational behavior), but gradually subverted thanks to Character Development (both faked and legitimate) as he evolves into more of a Sociopathic Hero Token Evil Teammate by learning to have more impulse control. Most notably, Belkar eventually starts to showcase some real empathy for his animal companions, teammates, and even fellow sapients when sociopaths in Real Life are only able to imitate empathy for anyone other than themselves.
  • Spanner in the Works: Acts as this to the High Priest of Hel. Not only does Durkon not have any good memories with Belkar that the High Priest can exploit, but prior to the Godsmoot Belkar is the only one actively suspicious of Durkon, due to being familiar with how Character Development works. And more specifically, his angry speech to the High Priest of Hel regarding Hidden Depths and Character Development inspired Durkon's ultimate Care-Bear Stare and Breaking Speech plan that would eventually defeat the High Priest's vampiric spirit once and for all.
  • Square Race, Round Class: He's a Halfling Ranger/Barbarian, meaning he has a melee build for a race with a Strength penalty, and his abysmal Wisdom score means that he misses out on virtually all of the Ranger's most important class features.
  • Stealth Pun: Belkar starts as a halfling who has no interest in roleplaying and would rather seduce everything that catches his eye and kill everything that doesn't. In other words, he's a Munchkin.
  • Stereotype Flip: To quote his own institutionalized Shoulder Angel: "He's a halfling, he's supposed to be jolly... Why isn't he jolly???"
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred!: Belkar succeeds at goading Miko into killing him (so she will lose her paladinhood), but his effort is stopped by a well-timed scorching ray from V.
  • Stupid Evil: He starts out as this, but moves to trueinvoked Chaotic Evil through a dream sequence with the spirit of Lord Shojo. In the early comics he literally is Stupid Evil: when his Wisdom is raised, he becomes nicer.
  • Supreme Chef: He even has class skills in gourmet cooking.
    Belkar: [after toppling into a giant vat of soup] Needs pepper.
  • Survivor Guilt: Belkar never cared much about being The Load until Durkon died, realizing he was nothing but a liability and that he did it not because he personally liked Belkar but because he was just that nice. It doesn't help that he was conscious the whole time and actually heard Durkon refusing to blame Belkar for his death.
    Belkar: He just walked in there and saved my life and got straight up murdered for it.
  • Team Chef: He has skill points in "Profession: Gourmet Chef", although he doesn't get to use his skills often since gourmet cuisine is hard to come by on the road and he won't use cheaper ingredients.
  • Technical Pacifist: The Mark of Justice forces Belkar avoid killing people, within towns at least. Not that he doesn't find several creative workarounds.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Frequently goes through this with the rest of the Order thanks to being an unpleasant asshat the vast majority of the time. His relationship with Roy is particularly vitriolic, to the point where Roy nearly kills him out of denial-induced fury after Belkar reports back about Durkon's vampirization.
  • Time for Plan B: Belkar has a tendency to play with this phrase; in one strip he said "Run like hell" has always struck him as plan A, and later he spends a series of strips announcing the letter of every new plan his teammates come up with.
    Belkar: Didn't we go through this already? We're on like plan Q.... And plan R starts to take form.
  • Token Evil Teammate:
    • Belkar is ultimately a Deconstructed example of this archetype. At first, Belkar's antics are Played for Laughs, but as time passes, they are shown to have consequences both in the world in general and in his relationship with his teammates.
    • Interestingly, this trope actually gets slightly reconstructed when Roy temporarily dies and goes to Heaven. He talks with a deva about his decision to let Belkar to be part of his team. Roy says that while Belkar is a complete asshole, if it wasn't for Roy's leadership, he would have turned out far worse. He also loses this exclusive status after Durkon rejoins the team after getting turned into a vampire.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Played with; as part of his "fake character development", Belkar tries to fake doing this on the advice of the illusion of Lord Shojo, who points out that if he doesn't at least pretend to have more going on that just being the one-dimensional Token Evil Teammate, then eventually his team are just going to get sick of him and abandon him to whatever unpleasant fate he brings upon himself. This is also later gradually Played Straight thanks to his genuine Character Development, which is best showcased with him adorably fussing over Mr. Scruffy and Bloodfeast.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Played for Laughs in that Strip #781 has both Haley and Elan conclude that Mr. Scruffy grusomely defending Belkar from a gladiator is evidence that Belkar is a bad influence on the cat.
  • Troll: He claims to have taken the feat "Craft Disturbing Mental Image" and employs it because he finds it funny. He also trolled an already pretty screwed-up Miko Miyazaki into Sanity Slippage in order to make her lose her paladinhood. Which she finally lost without Belkar being involved, and the end result definitely blew up in his face.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Mr. Scruffy and Bloodfeast. Justified, in that even though he's a poor Ranger, he's still a Ranger, and both are his Animal Companions.
  • Unexplained Recovery: After he survives being thrown off a mountain, he plans to invoke this just to mess with Roy. The very next panel, however, contains a flashback explaining it to the reader.
  • Unstoppable Rage: When he wakes up out of mind control from a vampire during the Order's fight with the followers of Hel, he proceeds to slash one's throat so hard her head comes off, and tries to get to Vampire Durkon despite burning from a protection from evil charm. Notably, it's implied that the pain and damage from his protection from evil charm actually activated his Barbarian Rage, invoking this trope In-Universe.
  • Unusual Euphemism: He spouts D&D-based euphemisms and innuendo regularly.
    Belkar: Hey, Sweet Thing, wanna hold my Rod of Lordly Might? If you press the right button, it might extend!note 
  • Vague Age: The print version of No Cure for the Paladin Blues comes with brief biographies on the various characters, listing their age, class, race and gender. Belkar's age is listed as a group of question marks. Other details in the comic imply that he's over 28 years old, but what exact age is never given.
  • Vision Quest: As a result of his magically induced hallucination of Lord Shojo, Belkar learns to fake character growth.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency:
  • Weak-Willed: Low Wisdom and classes with a poor Will save means he's easily mind-controlled. Nale, Malack and the High Priest of Hel have all taken advantage of it. Malack uses the exact term, although Durkon complains that it could describe half the party.
  • What Is This Feeling?: Played for Drama; Belkar appears to be such a sociopathic Jerkass on the surface that when he starts to actually start developing real, bonafide empathy for others, he's downright terrified and confused about what's going on.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: Wants to invoke this trope according to the backstory he came up with on the fly to gain bonus XP for roleplaying, talking about how he dreams of returning to his home village as a strong adventurer and "murder them all in their dreamless sleep" for shunning him as a kid. Granted, it was a fake story, but it's entirely believable that Belkar would do exactly that. In another strip, he mentions being prevented from killing anyone at his school prom, but apparently he went nuts at the afterparty instead.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Belkar assumes he will win his impromptu fight against Malack because he spouted the sentence "I have someone worth fighting for!" and guys who do it "always win for some weird reason." He then gets anticlimactically defeated in two panels. Later on, he tries to goad the Exarch vampire's imprisoned mortal spirit into Fighting from the Inside like Durkon did, but it doesn't work since Durkon's Heroic Willpower is several magnitudes greater than any other living dwarf's.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are:
    • Near the end of Utterly Dwarfed, a drunken Roy points out that Belkar is actually a really good adventurer when he's not being pointlessly difficult.
      Roy: You saw that Durkon wasn't Durkon when none of us did. You did whatever you did with the dinosaur. You went out on your own and bought magic items to help your defenses, and the fact that you did is the only reason we won! You could be really good at this, if you weren't so dedicated to being a wretched pile of trash who only wants to make everyone's life harder.
    • Gets another more genuinely motivational speech of this type from Minrah, who encourages him that he is capable of legitimate change rather than simply the ability to fake it.
      Belkar: Eh, I'm not really the "do your best" type, as I'm sure the others would tell you.
      Minrah: Don't say that! That's loser talk! You're not a type! You're a person, a person who does stuff! If you want to be different, do different stuff!
  • Your Days Are Numbered: It's initially implied, and then outright stated by the Oracle that he'll take his last breath before the end of the year. The Giant is officially teasing the fans over this — strip #870 ends with Malack deciding to turn Belkar into a vampire, only for Durkon to show up with Mass Death Ward at the beginning of #871. Then, in #886, he appears to die to Xykon's meteor swarm, before it is revealed as an illusion. In #957, the High Priest of Hel uses his vampiric gaze to make him jump overboard, only for him to get snagged on the ship-mounted ballista. And in #996, he gets thrown out the Godsmoot temple's window over a vast chasm, which he survives thanks to a feather fall item he had purchased beforehand.

    Durkon Thundershield 

Durkon Allotrope Thundershield

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/durkon_oots_4575.png

"I stay 'ere because it's me duty. And bein' a dwarf is all about doin' yer duty, even if it makes ye miserable. ESPECIALLY if it makes ye miserable!"

Race: Dwarf
Gender: Male
Class: Cleric
Alignment: Lawful Good, Lawful Bland (according to the Adventure Game)

A dutiful dwarf cleric of Thor, and Roy's oldest friend. Sent away from his homeland by higher-ups, he was slow to adapt to human society, but fits in rather well now. Very pragmatic and earnest, being probably the most mature and reliable member of the Order.


  • Absurd Phobia: Has one regarding trees, which are viewed with at best abject hatred by all dwarves in this world. While some of their reasoning is semi-sensible (tree roots can grow too far and break into tunnels, potentially causing cave-ins), most of it is just Insane Troll Logic (if Thor hits stuff with lightning, than he must not like that stuff, and if lightning bolts frequently strike trees thanks to the setting's Medieval Stasis, then Thor must hate those trees!).
  • Action Dad: He only knows his son Kudzu for a few hours, but it just strengthens his resolve to help save the world.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Durkon mostly comes across as straight (see the Not That There's Anything Wrong with That example below), but Utterly Dwarfed also has him reveal to Belkar that he's actually considered every member of the Order as potential choices for marriage. Granted, that might have just been him giving Belkar a Stealth Insult (read: "Roy is my best friend and Elan is hotter than you and if I had to, I'd still pick them over you").
  • Ambiguously Brown: According to Burlew, Durkon's skin tone isn't meant to represent any particular ethnic or racial group; he's simply just "not white".
  • Ambushing Enemy: With the meld into stone spell, he merges with walls to get the drop on enemies of the Order.
  • And I Must Scream: He is a prisoner in his own body after becoming a vampire and a spirit serving Hel takes over his undead corpse. He is absolutely furious. According to the High Priest of Hel, it's going to get worse once the spirit has absorbed all of Durkon's memories.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: He's shown to dislike the undead very strongly. During the events in Girard's dungeon, he is killed and reanimated as a vampire.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: When Redcloak asks him how many goblins he personally killed.
    Durkon: Na as many as ye.
  • Assimilation Backfire: Plays this gloriously against the evil vampire spirit possessing him. After showing him his mother's sacrifice to revive five dead miners, the spirit, unable to comprehend why someone would act so selflessly, makes Durkon transfer all of his memories just to be able to process it all — not realizing that by absorbing every aspect of what makes Durkon, Durkon would transfer his personality as well.
    Durkon: But be careful. B'cause ye know wha ye are if'n ye haf me body an' all me joys an' sorrows? Yer me.
  • Back from the Dead: After he takes control of the vampire body and sacrifices himself, Hilgya resurrects him. Then kills him, and resurrects him again.
  • Badass Boast: When claiming his new magical warhammer from the hiding place Thor mentioned:
    Durkon: "Death an' destruction." Tha's wha Odin's prophecy said I'd bring wit me when I came back home. Turns out me whole life were shaped by tha, an' I dinnae ev'n know it. But now I know. An' I already brought so much death ta so many. So I say — it's aboot time fer some destruction.
  • Bad Liar: It comes from having a low Charisma. Ironically enough, he's actually pretty good at keeping secrets, with him using Exact Words during the Order's temporary imprisonment in Azure City's dungeons to stay on Miko's good side and help the rest of the Order get released.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: A few days after being cast into exile by his fellow dwarves, he screams "To Hel wit' all o' ye!". The High Priest of Hel even comments that it appears the multiverse granted his wish.
  • Berserk Button: Though he's too level-headed to really go "berserk", he takes it rather badly when people make fun of theology. Like, say, worshiping hand puppets, or pretending to convert when handy.
  • Beyond the Impossible: He tricks the High Priest of Hell into letting him flooding him with an entire lifetime's worth of happy memories, basically turning the negative energy spirit (temporarily) into a "clone" of Durkon. In short, Durkon basically pulled an Assimilation Backfire on an entity literally designed to assimilate him.
  • Bothering by the Book: A grandmaster of this; he defeats Hel's attempted coup of the Dwarven council by conning his own vampire self into reintegrating with him and then breaking a hole in the ceiling, not to let in sunlight to harm the horde of vampires that were compelling the council, but to cause the rubble to break the council table, forcing a break in the proceeding until it can be replaced (thus giving the heroes time to take out the vampires). Lampshaded by his mother.
    Sigdi: Were ye really so dumb ta think for one second tha ye could beat Durkon — Durkon o' all tha folks in this great big beaut'ful world — in a fight tha revolved around followin' tha rules?!?
  • Bystander Syndrome: He stays mostly on the proverbial sidelines during Don't Split the Party, admonishing V for their Sanity Slippage and advising that they should try and look for other options aside from reuniting with Haley and Belkar to safeguard the Gates. Notably, he recognizes the flaws in this thinking by the end of the storyline, noting to Vaarsuvius that for all of his arguing that V's magic wouldn't save the day, a Soul-Spliced V did manage to both move the entirety of the Azure City refugee fleet to a new homeland and also (unintentionally) rescue O-Chul.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Durkon has been explicity shown to have committed two sins, possibly in his entire life. Once, on his worst day ever, he blasphemed Thor. Secondly, he slept with Hilgya Firehelm, a cleric of Loki. His blasphemy was used to create the High Priest of Hel's psychology, and he got Hilgya pregnant.
  • Care-Bear Stare: Ultimately inflicts this on the High Priest of Hel when the vampiric spirit is so confused by Durkon's compassion and the pain that comes from selfless compassion that said spirit allows Durkon to transfer all his memories, good and bad, instantly — and with it, Durkon's actual personality. In short, Durkon weaponized a lifetime's worth of happy memories.
  • Change the Uncomfortable Subject: Durkon's reaction to his mother and Hilgya discussing Kudzu's origins.
    Durkon: Lord Thor, I know ye need me ta do stuff, but can ye maybe strike me dead fer a bit now and send me back later?
  • Character Development: He was pretty gruff and cynical before meeting Roy, and becomes a more altruistic and kindhearted person as a result. He also becomes significantly more assertive and focused, not just following other people's orders or advice. All of this becomes a crucial plot point, as the vampire spirit controlling him is basically Durkon at his worst day, minus the Character Development.
  • Character Focus: Utterly Dwarfed is significantly focused on him and his Character Development, with one of the major subplots being him Fighting from the Inside while the High Priest of Hel possesses his corpse.
  • Church Militant: As a mid- to high-level cleric in 3.5e D&D, this is to be expected. He has proficiency with war hammers as a servant of Thor.
  • Combat Medic: Standard-issue healbot, but also packs a big hammer and a pocket full of lightning spells.
  • Dating Catwoman: Briefly in a relationship with Hilgya Firehelm, ainvoked Chaotic Evil cleric of Loki. It was her being married that broke it up, not her alignment.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Becomes increasingly sarcastic following being turned into a vampire. Being trapped in your own body with only the manifestation of your worst day trying to destroy the world to speak with can do that to you.
    High Priest of Hel: That was awfully easy. This isn't some sort of trick, is it? A false memory?
    Durkon: Och, if'n I could show ye stuff that dinnae happen, I'd've told ye that Roy's name was, like, Maurice or sumthin' on Day One.
    High Priest of Hel: Hmm. True.
    Durkon: Or showed ye Haley refusing payment while Belkar served soup to orphans. An' Elan did math in the background!
    High Priest of Hel: OK, yes, fine. Point taken.
    Durkon: "We need a team name! Let's call ourselves 'Tha Order o' tha Look-Out-Roy-Tha-Vampire's-Na-Really-Durkon'!"
  • Demonic Possession: As a vampire it seemed like he was a case of Dark Is Not Evil, but in fact he is possessed by an evil bloodthirsty spirit that is merely posing as him; the real Durkon is a prisoner inside his own body.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • His father is first implied in a flashback to have died when Durkon was at a very young age; his mom refers to him in the past tense. He was killed in an encounter with a troll before Durkon was born.
    • Turns out to be one himself — to the child Hilgya Firehelm got pregnant with after their one-night-stand back on comic #82.
  • Drop the Hammer: His standard weapon is a hammer and shield, because his patron god's favored weapon is a hammer.
  • Dump Stat: Implied to be Charisma. He's a dwarf, blunt, introverted, and not particularly personable, and his Turn Undead has a consistently poor success rate. V states they alongside Belkar have the lowest Charisma stat of the group to the point they can't get a good table at a restaurant.
  • Dying as Yourself: He manages to assimilate the vampire spirit into himself and recover control over his undead body, but doubts it will last, and permits Belkar to stake him.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: While Durkon is normally characterized as being respectful towards other people, he takes the opportunity to ogle Haley after her wardrobe malfunction in an early strip.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Invoked, averted and eventually played straight. Most would be rather depressed by the idea that they'll only return home "posthumously", but Durkon is happy about it because it means his corpse will be taken there for burial, where he will rest with his ancestors, and not somewhere else. It also means he'll be buried with honor, instead of dying in the belly of some random monster while out adventuring. Unfortunately, overly literal prophecies cheat; in a universe with The Undead, "posthumously" does not preclude "ambulatory" let alone "peacefully". He's killed and sired as a vampire under the direct command of his religion's Satan-figure, who returns home with orders to use all his hard-won abilities to attack the Dwarven homeland and generally do everything possible to bring the world to an end. Fortunately, in the end Durkon's 1) alive, and 2) no longer exiled.
  • Exact Words:
    • After noticing the cage doors to Azure City's dungeons are unlocked, Miko asks him (as he surrendered in their initial fight rather than cause harm to his allies) if they tried to escape. Durkon then swears that he cannot tell a lie... and that the doors suffered from a mechanical defect without him leaving his cell. As he later whispers to Roy, it is a pretty big "mechanical defect" in your cell design if a rogue (i.e., Haley) can pick them.
      Durkon: I can swear on Thor's beard that the five of us never left our cells.note 
    • Durkon will return to his homelands posthumously. After he's killed and raised as a vampire, he does indeed return home.
    • He uses this against the High Priest of Hel: after triggering a Villainous Breakdown by giving him the memory of his mother explaining how she sacrificed her wealth to save a group of people she didn't even known without the life experience to actually process it, Durkon offers the High Priest the memories to do so which the High Priest agrees to. What he didn't tell the High Priest is that those memories were all of his memories at once. This turns the High Priest into a clone of Durkon, turning the tables on him.
    • He later invokes this on the prophecy that he'd bring "death and destruction" when he returns to his homeland. After he's resurrected, he notes that he's already brought plenty of death — and now it's time to bring destruction on the remaining vampires. He only indirectly does so—more directly, he causes destruction to the ceiling of the dwarven council chamber, and more significantly, the table that the council is meeting at, which suspends the ongoing vote through an obscure rule.
    • Roy told Durkon not to Send to Redcloak. So, Durkon instead contacted Redcloak face-to-face.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: On the receiving end from Redcloak, who expected someone to try and stop him, but expected they'd be taller and wearing a halo and wings, not a Dwarf.
  • Extreme Doormat: His mother taught him not to help people without permission lest he get in the way. After getting converted into a vampire, the vampire spirit and his comrades repeatedly mention his lack of assertiveness. Part of his Character Development is becoming a more assertive and defiant individual willing to make his own active choices and not just follow along with other people.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: Possibly an unintentional example on the author's part, but hailing from Dwarven lands does make him a foreigner, and as for Thundershield...
  • Fantastic Racism: Shows this toward Malack after learning he is a vampire. To his credit, Durkon points out that even ignoring the undead issue, the individual is still a villain who can't be allowed to succeed.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • Downplayed compared to the rest of the party, but his No Social Skills and belief in Honor Before Reason have repeatedly screwed him over.
    • His other main flaw is his lack of assertiveness. As noted above, he suffered from a severe case of Bystander Syndrome prior to the events of Blood Runs In The Family (where he goes out of his way to rescue and save Belkar from Malack), to the point where he apologizes to Vaarsuvius for arguing with the elf and not being as proactive during their time together in the Azure City refugee fleet as he should have been.
  • The Fettered: Believes in honor and obligations, no matter how hard they are. This has given him at least one example of Genre Blindness: in #865, he insists that the Linear Guild's new cleric cannot be Malack, as he knows that Malack hates Nale and wants to kill him for murdering Malack's children. The reality is that Malack has put aside his oath to do so in order to work with Nale on Tarquin's say-so. The fact Tarquin has promised to let Malack kill Nale after they're done didn't hurt.
  • Foil: To Redcloak, particularly after the events of Utterly Dwarfed. Both are fervently devout, lawful, and polite clerics who try to do what they see is the best for their people. Both of them come from non-human races who have gotten the short end of the stick on a cosmic level (all dwarves must die with honor to avoid getting automatically sent off to Hel, while the goblinoids have been subjected to repeated pogroms while being forced to live on barren, miserable lands far from "normal" civilization), grew up dirt-poor before being forced out of their homes by an unexpected tragedy, and are now The Chosen Ones tasked by their respective deities on missions to ensure the progress and safety of their people. However, Durkon is a fundamentally selfless and brave Nice Guy who has willing performed Heroic Sacrifices multiple times for what he feels is right, while Redcloak is a fundamentally selfish moral coward who is willing to throw his entire species under the bus out of a desperate desire to get vengeance on the deities he blames for his horrible lot in life. Furthermore, Durkon is more of a frontline fighter who is willing to get his hands dirty with his warhammer and shield, while Redcloak is a Non-Action Guy who almost only acts through summoning Elemental Mooks and spellcraft. In essence, one gets the implication that Redcloak is what might've happened if Durkon had gained Toxic Friend Influence after getting exiled from his homeland instead of encountering the Order of the Stick.
  • Funetik Aksent: An extremely thick pseudo-Scottish/Scandinavian/Irish accent, which is described as "Dwarven" In-Universe. Amusingly, one strip shows that he even writes with the accent.
    • Lampshaded.
      Belkar: Wait, he can pronounce "stratosphere" but not "the"?
    • It's contagious.
      Vaarsuvius: And yet I see no reason why I still need ye. You.
    • And persistent.
      Roy: You do know that you don't need to transcribe your accent?
      Durkon: Transcribe my what, now?
      Roy: Never mind.
  • Genius Bruiser: Has elements of this, but in On the Origin of PCs, he values this as well, complimenting Roy, saying that he was the first human he saw who used his head when the quickly violent way was available.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil:
    • He refuses to believe Malack will ally with Nale as the latter murdered Malack's children, no matter how obvious it is. He doesn't know that Malack is fine biding his time for revenge.
    • He doesn't mention the threat that the Dark One is likely to die along with all the goblins if the gods end the world because Redcloak said he just wanted to improve goblin's welfare. He wanted to offer Redcloak what he thought was a complete win, and didn't know that Redcloak sees all current goblins dying a win if the next world improve their situation.
  • Good Feels Good: Has a brief conversation with Belkar about this after being resurrected.
    Durkon: Ev'ryone always talks aboot tha seductive power o' Evil, but I think Good's just as slippery a slope. Doin' good — sometimes even just seein' other people do good — feels good. Tha feelin' gets ta ye ev'ntually.
  • Good Is Boring: Joked about once or twice. A mind flayer refers to Durkon as "bland" and so does the adventure game, and he is the least dramatic of the party, and generally the softest spoken. However, Characterization Marches On and more and more of his personality is explored. Part of his blandness is that he's a stranger in a strange land, and flashbacks throughout Utterly Dwarfed show him being considerably more animated back in Dwarven Lands. In reality, he's not very bland at all, but he lacks the most neuroses out of the party and is probably the most stable.
  • Good Shepherd: A lawful good and honest cleric. He himself is still this but the vampire controlling his body is most certainly not.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Knowing, despite his death at the hands of Malack, he'll one day return home. He does, but not in a way he expected. He gets better, though.
  • Guile Hero: Since he has been trapped by the High Priest of Hel, he has no way to brute force his way out. Instead he is trying to play subtle mind games to abuse the fact that the High Priest can't understand his true nature. He ultimately succeeds by tricking the High Priest into agreeing to take in all his memories at once, allowing him to assimilate the High Priest rather than the other way around.
  • Healing Hands: Cure light/moderate/serious wounds. And heal, of course. It's inverted while he's a vampire; his spells become powered by negative energy rather than positive, so his healing spells hurt his living allies, and he has to cast harming spells on them instead.
  • The Heart: Both he and Elan share this role among the Order. At one point, the team reminisces about how he's helped each of them through difficult times in their lives with his support and compassion. They come to believe this is why Odin sent the prophecy that led to his banishment, so that they could have him to help them stop Xykon.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • He lets himself get killed by Malack after making the vampire promise to not harm the rest of the Order.
    • After temporarily turning the vampire into a copy of himself, he sacrifices himself by lowering the Anti-Life Shell so that Belkar can stake him and ensure that the High Priest of Hel will be destroyed.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He and Roy bonded during On the Origin of PCs, when Roy impressed him by not using his alignment as an excuse to murder others of an opposite alignment for XP. Of the Order, they have known each other for the longest which is why Durkon's death affected him the most.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • While it's largely thanks to Character Development thanks to being stuck with the High Priest of Hel for most of the story arc, Utterly Dwarfed shows that Durkon can be surprisingly biting and sarcastic when he really wants to. Furthermore, despite intentionally being based off of the archetypical fantasy dwarf, Durkon is not at all greedy and even forces a bandit tribe he gains leadership over (It Makes Sense in Context) to disband because their profession is immoral (and because they're going to get themselves killed).
    • He's also deceptively clever and crafty, being far more intelligent and pragmatic than what one would likely expect from the average cleric. Not only does he at one point use a weather control spell to create sonic damage to kill a group of hostile treants, but he indulges in Malack's excessive verbosity during their duel in Girard's Pyramid to help figure out the vampire's location.
    • According to Strip #1268, Durkon has previously taken a course in basket-weaving.
  • Holding Back the Phlebotinum: While not having the raw firepower of V, he's easily the second most powerful of the group and like V he gets disabled, leveled-drained, powered down, misunderstood by Thor, or otherwise prevented from instantly solving whatever problems the group confronts for the sake of good storytelling. It is lampshaded when he casts control weather while vampirizied to get them out of a storm, prompting Belkar to claim that he can't possibly be Durkon, because he actually had a spell that could get them out of trouble.
  • Home Sweet Home: He really wants to go home. Even if it must be posthumously.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • The dwarves know that he's so lawful he won't attempt to return to the dwarven lands until sent for (i.e. never). It's downplayed in that while Miko knows he can be trusted to be unfailingly honest, he twists the truth a little to protect his friends.
      Roy: I'm pretty sure if you told him it would save innocent people, he'd break his leg trying to boot his own ass out the door!
    • He finally has to deal the logical extreme of this trope when his mother refuses to let him regenerate her long-lost arm, simply because she lost it when Durkon's father died, and she doesn't want to dishonor his memory by regrowing it. Durkon finally realises that it's one thing to suffer for the benefit of others, but another to suffer for no reason at all other than an imaginary ideal.
  • Immune to Drugs: It's one of the benefits of dwarfdom. Malack's Poison spell? "Tastes like me mum's crabapple cobbler!"
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: This ultimately causes the downfall of the High Priest of Hel, who fully becomes Durkon when he's tricked into absorbing every single good, positive and heartwarming memory in one go. Bear in mind that the vampirization process is supposed to have the opposite happen, with the host body being absorbed by the vampire spirit.
  • Kirk Summation: Durkon is Defiant to the End when it seems like he's about to be killed by Redcloak in #1210, and tells him precisely and laconically what is wrong with the goblin's Evil Plan.
    Redcloak: I am curious about one thing before you implode into oblivion, dwarf. How many goblins lives have you snuffed out? Personally?
    Durkon: Na as many... as ye...
  • Last Request: Before he dies, he asks of Malack that if his friendship was true and not just a trick, to spare his friends. Malack apparently honors this request, not giving the party away when his True Seeing spell pierces the illusion that concealed them.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility The first (and only as far as we know) time he ever had sex, it was a one-afternoon stand with Hilgya Firehelm, who (besides being of an alignment and god directly opposing his), was also a married woman whom he promptly broke things off with. Naturally, she ended up pregnant.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: After he's resurrected, he goes to a hidden compartment told to him by Thor, where he finds a powerful magic warhammer, and declares he's ready to rain destruction on the other vampires.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: He has no idea about the real reason he was sent away from the Dwarven lands. Until his encounter with Minrah (who was present when the Order found out) in the afterlife.
  • Luke Nounverber: "Thunder-Shield" sure fits a dwarf cleric of Thor.
  • Magic Knight: As a D&D cleric, he wears armor and fights with a hammer but he can still cast spells.
  • Meaningful Name: "Thunder" alludes to him being a cleric of Thor while "shield" reflects his considerate and protective personality, with him having repeatedly put his own life on the line to keep others out of harm's way.
  • The Medic: In one early strip, the other party members visualize him as a walking medical kit.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: After his resurrection, following Thor's instructions he finds a lightning-infused hammer and a pair of magic gauntlets hidden under Thor's statue in his temple, long forgotten by the priesthood.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: Durkon is convinced that the trees everywhere are part of some giant conspiracy. So are all the other Dwarves.
  • Misery Builds Character: Firmly of the mind that by experiencing pain, you can become a nobler person through learning to rise above it. "Bein' a dwarf is all aboot doin' yer duty, even if it makes ye miserable. Especially if it makes ye miserable." Given his reaction to his exile initially, and the time he's had to spend outside of his homeland since them, it can arguably be seen as him trying to rationalize why he had been exiled in the first place.
  • Mission from God: He receives one directly from his patron god, Thor, to convince Redcloak to use a drop of the Dark One's unique power to help seal the Snarl once and for all.
  • Moment of Weakness: His anger at being exiled without even being able to say goodbye to his mother or making sure she would be okay without him; coming from the person who said misery builds character, that is saying something. This anger is a driving force for the vampire that possessed him, as the vampire claims that its personality comes from the darkest memories in Durkon's mind and that his will to annihilate the Dwarven lands is motivated by that one moment where Durkon cursed them.
  • Momma's Boy: What's been shown of Durkon while he was back in his homeland clearly implies he dearly loves and respects his uncomplaining mother caring for him. He became a cleric in the first place because his family couldn't afford to get one to cast a spell to heal his mother's crippled arm. He also calls her every week ever since he got access to the sending spell.
  • My Rule Fu Is Stronger than Yours: He manages to throw a wrench in Hel's plan by breaking the table the dwarven clan leaders meet on, and thus by dwarven law, invalidates the meeting until a new table could be procured. As his own mother put it:
    Sigdi: Were ye really so dumb ta think fer one second tha ye could beat Durkon — Durkon, o' all tha folks in this great big beaut'ful world — in a fight tha revolved around followin' tha rules?!?
  • Never Gets Drunk: Durkon loves his beer, but has never been drunk in the comic. In a New Year's Eve story, he and Belkar count down to midnight with 10 straight pints. Belkar kisses Vaarsuvius and passes out, but Durkon doesn't appear affected at all. In this universe, Dwarves have two livers. According to him, it's a dwarven custom to take a drink every time someone counts down. In the backstory, they have some ale every time anything happens. And it's so difficult for them to actually suffer negative consequences from their drinking that perishing from alcohol-related complications apparently counts as "dying in battle" for the purposes of getting into the afterlife.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: He was exiled without the chance to say goodbye to his mother. Although it turns out that he's been in regular contact with her ever since he learnt the sending spell.
  • Never Say That Again: Don't tell him that beer isn't important.
  • Nice Guy: Durkon may be rather blunt and lawful to a near ludicrous extent, but has also shown himself multiple times to be a deeply honorable, kind, and friendly person who is perfectly willing to sacrifice his own life in the name of what is right.
  • No Social Skills: Durkon is frequently shown to be a very blunt, matter-of-fact person who not only isn't that great of a liar but isn't the best at hiding his emotions. For instance, while he certainly meant well when he was telling Hilgya that he couldn't be with her, he said it in such an Innocently Insensitive manner that she eventually vowed to immolate him the next time she saw him. It's implied to be due in part from him having low Charisma.
  • Not so Above It All:
    • Even the straight-laced Durkon finds himself staring at Haley along with the other men of the Order when she has a slight wardrobe malfunction.
    • After taking over a bandit tribe, he forces them to all disband because their profession is both immoral and a losing cause... Though he still makes them give him a solid gold tankard literally bigger than anyone else in his party.
    • In Strip #308, Durkon subtly snickers after Vaarsuvius implies they cast Explosive Runes on Belkar's coffee.
    • And along with all other dwarves, for all of his stoicism and affability, he has an utterly Absurd Phobia for trees. Literally his first reaction when brought to Valhalla by Thor in Utterly Dwarfed is to gasp in horror upon seeing that Valhalla's primary mead hall is surrounded by pine trees.
  • Not So Stoic: Most of the time, Durkon is The Reliable One. However, a flashback in Utterly Dwarfed shows the worst day of his life, where he was kicked out of his homelands for seemingly no reason at all. After recovering outside, he bitterly damns High Priest Hurak and everyone involved in his exile to Hel before breaking down sobbing.
  • Not That There's Anything Wrong with That:
    Durkon: I love me god Thor will all me heart — inna strictly heterosexual "buddies" kinda way. Not that there's anything wrong with the alternative.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Chummy with Malack because they are both clerics in an adventuring party. This ends when he finds out Malack's a villainous vampire that wants to seize Girard's Gate.
    • Surprisingly, he seems to be forming one with Belkar, of all people, after his resurrection, despite the fact that they viewed the other with poorly disguised disdain beforehand. The fact that Belkar gained a hefty amount of Survivor's Guilt regarding Durkon's Heroic Sarcifice on his behalf certainly helps.
  • Only Sane Man: Generally speaking, along with Roy his typical role in the comic is to serve as the Straight Man to the whackiness of the Order's other members (with the exception of whenever his dwarven Absurd Phobia of trees comes up).
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Played for Laughs in Don't Split the Party, where he has to be physically restrained from beating up both Elan and the chief of a tribe of orcs since he's so infuriated by their disrespectful attitudes regarding theology.
    • Played for Drama in Utterly Dwarfed, where a flashback to him getting kicked out of Dwarven Lands shows him (a very pious and devoted cleric) engaging in blasphemy.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: A parody of the concept that still plays some traits straight.
    Cleric of Loki: Can you tell me anything about him that differentiates him from every other dwarf?
  • The Pig-Pen: It's occasionally implied Durkon's personal hygiene is poor. Granted, it could also just be that wearing heavy armor too long makes him rank after a while.
    Roy: Ah. Of course, the lawyers. I should have recognized their foul stench when we were brought inside.
    Elan: Oh good, I thought that smell was Durkon again. Pew!!

    Roy: Belkar, can you bust out of here on your own?
    Belkar: Does Durkon need to bathe more?
  • Poke the Poodle: Apparently, the worst thing Durkon has ever done is get justifiably angry at the leaders of his faith for throwing him out in the snow with no money and no time to say goodbye to his mother and say some harsh things about them when no-one else can hear. The weight of this sin is justified, though, in that as a devout cleric, cursing someone to Hel means way more than just mundane blasphemy to Durkon.
  • Poor Communication Kills: He was never told why he was exiled from Dwarf lands. As Roy said, he'd have probably went along with trying to avoid The Prophecy of his return bringing death and destruction upon all of his kin if he were just told of it. Indeed when Durkon is being told there was a reason behind his exile, he is overjoyed about it.
  • Positive Friend Influence: As the Order of the Stick later notes in Strip #1098, Durkon's kindness and maturity has greatly helped them all develop and improve as people. It also goes the other way around — as Durkon later notes, his gambit against the High Priest of Hel succeeded largely because of both Elan's actions as a bard helping teach him how to craft narratives and Belkar's speech about Character Development making him realize what memories he needed to show to the High Priest to trigger a Villainous BSoD.
  • Potty Emergency: It was mentioned that the first time he got food poisoning from human cooking, he got a case of diarrhea so bad that he ended up running to the bathroom for six hours straight.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: His Mid-Season Upgrade hammer can fly back to his hand after he's thrown it. At least as long as he's not in an Anti-Magic field.
  • Prematurely Bald: Not explicitly stated, but evident with a little math based on the evidence — he's currently 55 years old, and says to Haley that he's been bald for "forty years", meaning he went bald roughly around 15 years of age. He almost never mentions it, but it's apparently a touchy subject. (And since he's a dwarf, that makes it the human equivalent of losing your hair in kindergarten.)
  • Primal Fear: Heights. He dislikes flying on the magic carpet, and the Order's collective hallucination shows him closing his eyes upon it as they drop Xykon's phylactery into the volcano. Strip #647 also shows him visibly trying not to look down as he and Elan soar through the sky with wind walk. Makes sense for someone who lived most of his life underground.
  • Prophecy Twist: Doubly so.
    • He was exiled thanks to one of Odin's prophecies saying that "when he returns home, [he] will bring death and destruction." He did return as a vampire, and he did bring death to the dwarves. But the latter part has yet to come to pass... until he retrieved a facsimile of Thor's own Mjölnir to bring destruction to the vampires. Alternatively, the "destruction" could be interpreted as to the ceiling of the chamber where the Dwarven Elders were meeting, as well as the conference table they were meeting around—with the destruction of the table causing the vampires' plot to derail.
    • Additionally, when he asks the Oracle of the Sunken Valley how he will return to Dwarven Lands, he is told that he will return home posthumously. Durkon's undead body, possessed by the spirit of a vampire, returns to Dwarven Lands to manipulate the vote of the dwarven clan elders to make sure the world ends on Hel's terms.
  • Psychic Static: Durkon gradually attempts this the High Priest of Hel possessing him by burying requested information in a deluge of context. It finally pays off when he gives him the memory of him finding out his mother sacrificed her wealth to save a group of people she'd never met, which causes the High Priest so much emotional pain that he slips up and agrees to being hit with all of Durkon's memories at once.
  • Refusing Paradise: Already set on not resting in Valhalla at least until the world is saved from destruction and his son gets to know him. He decides so even knowing that, if after being resurrected his next death happens to be dishonorable, his immortal soul would end up in Hel's custody, and the goddess of Death is certainly very pissed at him.
  • The Reliable One: Even a paranoid loon like Miko implicitly trusts him.
  • Religion is Magic: Comes standard with being a cleric in a D&D setting; he prays to regenerate his supply of divine spells.
  • Religious Bruiser: He's a Dwarven cleric dedicated to Thor, it comes with the territory.
  • The Resenter: Buried deep in his memories, he deeply resents the dwarves for exiling him. The High Priest claims this is why he, who is made from the darkness of his heart, is willing to go along with Hel's plan.
  • Residual Self-Image: Durkon in the afterlife looks like he did before being vampirified. His true self is not only lacking the teeth and pasty skin of a vampire, he's also wearing his usual armor (the vampire was destroyed wearing robes) and his beard is at full length (the vampire's got shortened by a slash of Roy's sword).
  • Revive Kills Zombie: Uses this to great effect against Malack, most notably with a heal spell which acts as the harm spell for undead.
  • Running Gag: He and dwarves in general utterly despise trees.
  • Shock and Awe: "Thor's Lightning!" is a spell that throws a bolt of lightning at his enemies. Clerics usually don't have lightning magic, so this one is granted directly by Thor to his priests through a specific domain.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Has his back to the viewer on the cover of Book 6, likely to hide his vampirification from anyone who has yet to read Book 5.
  • Sizeshifter: "Thor's Might!" which, per the divine might spell, ups him to large size and bolsters his strength to boot. It does not, for some reason, increase his speed, which annoys him.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: According to the first account of his father he heard, his mother discovered she was pregnant only after his father's death.
  • Split-Personality Merge: After Durkon's soul is released from his destroyed undead body, the vampire's mind completely merges with his, making him remember the vampire's experiences as if they were his own. Thor assures him he'll be fine, which makes sense considering a week as an evil vampire holds little weight compared to decades of life as a honorable dwarf.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Eventually tricks the High Priest of Hel into volunteering to be turned into a mental clone of himself.
  • Straight Man: Shares the role with Roy. His steady-but-mostly-uncomplicated personality is mocked in an early strip with a mindflayer picturing his head as a bowl of mashed potatoes: filling, but bland.
  • Suckiness Is Painful: One of the numerous memories Durkon relives to the vampire spirit is of him trying out his Bard uncle's saxophone. He's dreadful.
  • Super Smoke: He gained access to the wind walk spell at some point during Don't Split the Party.
  • Supporting Protagonist: In-Universe criticized as such by his vampire self, Durkon's selflessness made him a spectator of his own life and repressed most of his needs for the sake of other people.
  • Taken for Granite: Gets turned to stone for violating dwarven law in the dwarven council chamber during an important vote. His crime? Property damage, when he threw his Thunderbolt Hammer through the ceiling.
  • Taking You with Me: After assimilating the High Priest of Hel, he realizes it might not last forever, so he convinces the Durkonified vampire to allow them to be staked, killing them both.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: The Trope Namer, on visiting human lands for the first time.
    Durkon: Excuse me, I think ye gave me the wrong mug. I ordered a beer, an' this seems ta be a tankard o' moose urine.
  • Tell Me About My Father: His mother didn't want to talk about it, so Durkon resorted to an Honorary Uncle. The accuracy of the tale is not clear, though later Durkon's mother indicates the outline is close enough.
  • Thunder Hammer: Durkon starts using a Hammer of Thunderbolts near the end of the "Utterly Dwarfed" story arc. It's coruscated in white lightning whenever he swings or throws it.
  • Token Religious Teammate: As is often the case for the cleric in a D&D party, Durkon is the only one in the Order taking religion and the will of the gods seriously... at least in the conventional sense. As for the others: Vaarsuvius pays lip service to the elven gods, but doesn't really do much else; Roy advocates proper respect to them, but admits to having a "if I leave them alone, they'll leave me alone" mentality on it; Haley is ready to convert on the spot if it is advantageous, though it's Played for Laughs; the "Shoeless God of War" Belkar reveres is only himself; and Elan is a very weird casenote . This becomes a Plot Point when Durkon ignores Roy's explicit instructions not to contact Redcloak, instead following Thor's and contacting him anyway.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: Ultimately turns out to be this to the High Priest of Hel, managing to assimilate him rather than the other way around. In fact, the Giant has stated Durkon is likely literally the strongest-willed character to have ever been turned into a vampire, which is exactly why he's able to make this work when nearly no-one else could.
  • Tragic Monster: As of comic #878, Durkon was forcibly turned into a vampire by someone he considered a friend. Even more so as of #946. Durkon isn't even in control, the vampire servant of Hel is. Durkon was made both a prisoner in his own body and an unwilling accessory to its crimes, unable to resist it enough to prevent it from ransacking his memories.
  • Turn Undead: His power as a cleric enables him to scatter and destroy undead. He sometimes gets over-enthusiastic with it, particularly in the first story arc.
  • Upbringing Makes the Hero: While he was a Good dwarf even before then, discovering his mother's act of selflessness, which she had kept secret for years, is what shaped his views regarding his responsibilities as a cleric and inspired him to become a hero.
  • Vague Age: The retail version of No Cure for the Paladin Blues gives his age as 39, but the retail version of War and XPs would go on to give his age as 54. It's made even more vague considering dwarves age differently than humans. However, in strip #744 he states he's in the same age category as Haley, who is 24.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With his childhood friend Logann. He is not above stepping on his thunder in a battle (in order to heal him), and Logann then snarks at him for it.
  • We Do the Impossible: What Thor thinks of Durkon, after the latter expresses doubt he can save the Universe from The Dark One; Thor tells him it'll be as hard as talking a vampire into giving up control of his body.
  • What Would X Do?:
    • "What Would Thor Do?" is a question he asks himself frequently in the beginning. In practice, not as applicable as one might hope considering that Thor is a mighty god and he is a mid-level dwarf cleric.
    • He has followed in the footsteps of Elan and Haley in the Order of the Stick, who also have asked "What Would Roy Do?", Durkon pondering it during his fight with Malack.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Only Durkon alone is aware that he managed to control his body after being possessed by the High Priest of Hel. He willingly undergoes a Heroic Sacrifice anyway.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He has a deep fear of trees. It is truly irrational in this case as he thinks they have a conspiracy of some kind and want to take over the world. He justifies this with his patron Thor striking them with lightning. Apparently, he shares this attitude with most (if not all) dwarves. Thor reveals it's because his church started a dogma over him just blasting a few trees for fun.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Though he will bend the truth by using Exact Words.
    Durkon: I count "able to be picked by a rogue" as a pretty major defect, aye?
  • Work Hard, Play Hard: According to the introduction to Book 5, this is the general dwarven idea of the afterlife. After a lifetime of duty and repression, once you get to Valhalla the fun breaks loose. Durkon plans to spend an entire century partying, then maybe take a nap. He also isn't above partying when the Order has downtime.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: A prophecy states that Durkon's return to his home would bring death and destruction to the dwarven homelands. To keep this from happening, the higher-ups sent him off on a Snipe Hunt and told him not to return until they called for him. Which Durkon never does, because he's just that lawful. However, the higher-ups neglected to tell their successors about the prophecy. Durkon can now return whenever he wants, though the message telling him so was eaten by the Monster in the Darkness without realizing what it was. Though according to the Oracle, he will be returning, posthumously. The funny thing is, when he found that out, he was actually happy to learn that his body would be returned home, presumably for an honorable burial. The whole situation becomes even darker than it already was when you realize that being said to return somewhere "posthumously" doesn't mean the first prophecy won't come true. There's also the fact that returning as a vampire can also count as posthumously. Once it was revealed that Durkon's under the control of the High Priest of Hel... it got even worse. Subverted in the end: the new High Priestess confirms to Roy that Durkon is free to go home and he is told so by Minrah in the afterlife after his vampiric self is destroyed. Now that he has been resurrected, he is, indeed, back home and was even reunited with his mother. Doubly subverted in that he still kept in contact with his mother on a weekly basis.
  • You Didn't Ask: The reason he didn't tell the High Priest of Hel that the key to the temple crumbles if taken by force is because he didn't ask.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: After being resurrected by Hilgya a second time (this time for keeps) and expressing relief over being able to see his friends again, he then takes some time to angrily complain about how Belkar was the only member of the Order who could figure out the difference between Durkon and an evil spirit.
    Durkon: I mean, Belkar?! Seriously?!?!
    Belkar: I know, right?
    Roy: I got there! Eventually!
    Elan: In my defense, I am not very smart.
    Haley: I already got fooled by Nale! What were the chances of two imposter storylines?!
  • Your Worst Memory: Being kicked out of his homeland without any notice or explanation was the worst day of his life. The experience left him miserable and bitter for decades until he met Roy and became friends with him. The vampire spirit controlling his body forces him to relive that memory, using it as the basis for a Breaking Speech that leaves Durkon unable to answer back.

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