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The Linear Guild
Qarr: ...They look like total morons.
Cedrik: They are! Isn't it just perfect?
- Affably Evil: The more personable characters of the group are this, such as Hilgya Firehelm.
- The Brute: Thog and Tarquin are powerful fighters who work for Nale. Thog is genuinely stupid but Tarquin plays the role initially and claims that he will take Nale's orders when they both know better.
- Card-Carrying Villain: They have literal business cards.
- Dead End Job: The team always includes a kobold, who invariably ends up killed in a horrific/amusing manner. Averted with Kilkil, the latest to date, who does not fight Belkar.
- Dwindling Party: During the Empire of Blood arc. Burlew wanted to showcase Nale at his most desperate as his teammates are all either killed or sent away leaving him closed off from allies and having to rely on his own (flawed) instincts. Tarquin slowly usurping control from Nale by replacing half the Guild with his own people was to this end. At the arc's conclusion the Linear Guild is finished.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: Each lineup has shown significant diversity compared to every other adventuring party and evil organization in the comic.
- Evil Counterpart: Nale intentionally invokes this because he wants his minions to be "evil opposites" just like he is for Elan but he later defies it.
- The Evil Genius: Zz'dtri is the mage for the party in its first incarnation, Pompey in its second, and then Zz'dtri returns for round three.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: Lampshaded when our heroes realize that they do not have a permanent solution for disposing of them. However, as of comic #913, Nale and Zz'dtri are both dead, Leeky and Pompey both abandoned the Guild ages ago, Hilgya reappears one arc later but has other things on her plate, Sir Scraggly is MIA (but its master's dead and his body buried under rubble anyways), and Thog is either dead or still imprisoned back in the Empire of Blood. The only member still around and in the game is Sabine. The Linear Guild is, effectively, dead, a rare treatment for the Goldfish Poop Gang. None of this precludes a new iteration of the Guild being formed — perhaps with the goal of taking down Tarquin and his empire. It also doesn't rule out the possibility of Sabine or the IFCC resurrecting Zz'dtri.
- The Psycho Rangers: Invoked by Nale with his "evil opposite" theme.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: Reoccurring second-tier antagonists.
- Similar Squad: The Linear Guild seems initially to be one for the Order of the Stick, especially in their introductory shot where they mirror exactly each member of the Order. Turns out, they're The Psycho Rangers, deliberately assembled that way by their Genre Savvy leader.
- Terrible Trio: Once reduced to its core members, it is three: two guys and a girl. Nale and Sabine, obviously, but the third slot becomes vacant after Thog's mysterious departure from canon, and is filled by the returning Zz'dtri.
- Unwitting Pawn: The group are woefully unaware of the IFCC's manipulations except for Sabine, as she's their woman on the inside.
- Villainous Friendship: Nale and Zz'dtri appear to have a legitimate friendship. Nale is horrified when Vampire Durkon kills Zz'dtri.
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Elan's twin brother, raised by their Lawful Evil warlord father to be extremely ruthless. A multiclassed fighter/rogue/sorcerer, this ironically means he has about the exact same abilities as his bard brother. Only more complicated. note However, it does mesh with Nale's vaunted "evil opposites" theme; bards can't be lawful, so this multiclass combination enables Nale to have the same abilities as but the exact opposite alignment to his hated twin.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Elan certainly feels this way, since while Nale was evil, they were still family. This is defied by Haley, who gently but honestly tells Elan that Nale was a terrible human being who deserved to die for spilling the blood of the innocent. Elan agrees, but wonders if he would have turned out any better in Nale's place.
- Back Stab: Part of his skill-set as a rogue. The first (open) reveal of his evil was backstabbing Elan.
- Beard of Evil: Which he started growing as a toddler.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: He asks Tarquin not to give him anything and to let him be an independent person. As a result his father revokes his protection... including from himself, and thus Tarquin proceeds to stab Nale for his traitorous actions, especially killing Malack.
- Big Bad Wannabe: He thinks he has what it takes to conquer the world. He's funnily delusional this way.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: For all his card-carrying villainy, he was first introduced this way. Haley wasn't fooled.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: For instance, evil gloating. He loves gloating when he thinks he has won. He's aware of it, though, and tries to get it out of his system in advance.
- Boring Insult: Nale is so egotistical that calling him unoriginal will make him drop his disguise.
- Bullying a Dragon:
- His first response to seeing Malack again is to ask how his family is (three of his children had been killed by Nale), resulting in Malack casting Harm on him. Doubles as Casual Danger Dialog — Nale seems pretty aware he is screwed.
- Later, he finally manages to kill Malack and proceeds to taunt his father about it, right in the middle of his father's army and in the presence of one of Tarquin's powerful companions. Tarquin tries to offer Nale the chance to reconcile, but Nale brags about how he managed to kill Malack without Tarquin's help, complains about how much he resents his father, and rejects his Last-Second Chance. Tarquin finally proceeds to show Nale just how quickly he would have died without his protection.
- ...But He Sounds Handsome:Nale-as-Elan: After almost being killed by my cunningly clever and devilishly handsome twin brother, Nale, I find that I am looking at everything in a different light.
- Calling the Old Man Out: He calls his father a manipulative loser that he wants nothing to do with, just before being unceremoniously killed by said old man.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Part of what separates him from Tarquin and Malack. Whereas they operate within the rules of (a massively corrupt) society and rationalize their actions through false civility, Nale knows exactly what kind of person he is and revels in it.
- Charm Person: He favors enchantment magic.
- The Chessmaster: He tries, but events have repeatedly shown that while he's pretty good at putting plans together, they ultimately tend not to work out. His first scheme would have succeeded if not for Haley making an almost impossible shot with her bow. His second scheme, in which he impersonated Elan, would have also succeeded if Elan had remained as dumb and incompetent as ever, rather than suddenly taking a level in badass. And, more generally, if Nale didn't constantly trip over his megalomania.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: To his chagrin, Nale is constantly forced into babysitting Thog.
- Complexity Addiction: In this Nale takes after his mother, who as a barmaid created highly-convoluted serving plans for individual days of the week. A good example is that he took levels in Sorcerer, Rogue, and Fighter just to get almost exactly the same abilities as Elan got as a Bard. He may have gotten over this partway through the Girard's gate arc, declaring to Zz'dtri that he's ditched the evil opposites theme and is going to just wipe the Order out. It doesn't work.Tarquin: Honestly, Nale, that "plan" of yours had way too many moving parts.
- Contractual Genre Blindness: He follows traditional villain tropes because it's how he thinks plans should go, up to and including his Complexity Addiction. Tarquin calls him out on this, then eventually kills him for his failures, among other reasons.
- Deader Than Dead: After Tarquin fatally stabs him, Laurin Shattersmith disintegrates his body, her reasoning being that if Malack can't be brought back, neither can his killer. Technically, he could be brought back by a True Resurrection or Wish spell, but it's unlikely that Sabine, his sole remaining ally, would be able to get access to one for the time being - especially since the only casters in the world who are implied to be powerful enough to cast these spells are Redcloak and Xykon, respectively - and those two don't care about Nale's fate at all.
- Deadpan Snarker: Frequently.Nale: Truly, your cunningly-crafted retort stings my pride.
- Diabolical Mastermind: He believes himself to be one of these, and definitely is one (if of a lesser caliber than he believes), but as with every other trope dealing with his intelligence, this is limited by his ability to put aside his own ego long enough to get anything done. He efficiently executed his plot to kill Malack, but mostly because he was planning to kill him since he was nine years old, and used Malack's children as a "test run".
- Disproportionate Retribution: "The Linear Guild is practically synonymous with taking disproportionate revenge over quasi-imagined slights!"
- Dump Stat: Wisdom. He's petty and egotistical which usually undermines his plans and said plans are all, "needlessly complicated."
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Nale and Sabine really do care about one another. When Girard trapped him in a "perfect world" illusion, it involved him as a king with Sabine as his queen. He was horrified when Durkon's Holy Word banished her to the Outer planes.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Spoofed when he considers using a Céline Dion record as torture below him.Nale: No no Thog. I'm still civilized.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He expects all siblings to harbor the same obsessive homicidal grudge against each other that he feels for Elan. So when Elan decides to spare his life, he's shocked, and when Roy and Julia have a Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moment right in front of him, he's confused, despite the fact his succubus girlfriend was able to understand it (and she had to gently tell him it's just that some families are different, implying she doesn't know how to tell him.) He's baffled when Vampire Durkon chooses saving his friends over joining the Linear Guild after he regains his free will, though ironically, if he knew Durkon's true motivations, he might understand.
- Evil Counterpart: Has an obsession with them, being himself Elan's Evil Twin and, presumably, inheriting some of his of father's love of using tropes.
- Evil Genius: Definitely one, but his idea of how far this extends and the reality is... somewhat skewed. All in all, if he weren't a raging narcissist and were able to put aside his obsession with Elan, he'd be much more effective. Considering Lamarck Was Right for this universe, his father gives us an idea of how dangerous he could be.
- Evil Gloating: Stock-in-trade for someone as full of himself as Nale.
- It hilariously clashes with the 25-word limit on Sending spells.
- #913 has a short but to-the-point one.Nale: His ashes smelled like burning leather. He suffered.
- His father notes that it is a Fatal Flaw, since his desire to show he's better than everyone else drives him to gloat even when the situation calls for a low profile. In the strip where he dies, note that Nale is most of the way dead, has no allies to assist him, and surrounded by people who can easily kill him, plus their private army. And he still tries to gloat to them about murdering one of their friends and comrades.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: His reaction to Durkon being vampirized? First shock, then "That's hilarious!!"
- Evil Is Petty: It's not just about being evil with Nale. It's absolutely also about screwing with other people in the most low-down manner possible. Exhibit A is the Fish out of Temporal Water joke he told Cecila.
- Evil Plan: Part of being an evil leader is having a plan to do evil. Though as noted elsewhere, they tend to fall apart.
- Evil Sorcerer: Literally, in that it's his In-Universe character class and character alignment.
- Evil Twin: Complete with Beard of Evil and Separated at Birth. He's put a lot of effort into keeping that image, including his choice of minions.
- Famous Last Words: Technically not the absolute last, but very meaningful:Nale: (to Tarquin) I want NOTHING from you! I am my own man, not some cog in your latest oh-so-clever game! I don't want your nepotism or your charity or your pity! I want NOTHING!
- Fatal Flaw:
- His ego. Vaarsuvius thwarts a fake-out Kill Us Both by saying it is trite and cliché, like all of Nale's plans, which causes him to mouth off. His father Tarquin has little respect for him because of this, and claims that Nale's ego and Complexity Addiction keep him from ever becoming a truly formidable villain. The biggest irony is that Nale is very intelligent, but his megalomania prevents him from doing anything effective with it.
- Literally becomes his fatal flaw in comic 913; Nale's pride means he wants to be a Self-Made Man, and he rejects his father in pursuit of this. In doing so, he severs all familial ties with his father as well as ends any potential use his father could get out of him. Thus, Tarquin kills Nale both because Nale has proven totally useless to him, if not an outright detriment, and to avenge the murder of Malack. Frankly, Nale got off easy, considering all the crap he's pulled toward Tarquin, who has horribly murdered people for far less.
- For the Evulz: He occasionally does evil things just to screw with people. Like telling a sylph she'd been petrified for 1,000 years just to see her panic at being alone. He then says it was Worth It, even as she blasts him with lightning bolts.
- Freudian Excuse: He was reared by his evil father Tarquin, although it is suggested he was already evil as an infant before he was placed under his care, so it's unclear how much blame can really be laid at Tarquin's feet.
- Graceful Loser: Although he does hold grudges for a long time, when his plans are in the process of falling apart, he just accepts defeat and exits the stage. This contrasts very strongly with his father, who can never ever let things go.
- Hair Antennae: Like his brother and father, he has the single sticking up hair and the questionable and irrational decision-making.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Has to fight the urge to do this when he takes the place of Elan, and Vaarsuvius nearly catches him smooching Sabine (who quickly turns into a male guard). Sabine then reveals that they have used her shapeshifting for "experimentation".
- Indy Ploy: Due to Contractual Genre Blindness, he rarely employs these, preferring his doomed Complexity Addiction-laden Evil Plans. But, when forced to drop all that and improvise, Nale is quite formidable.
- Jerkass: Or more specifically...
- Karmic Death: Arrogantly boasts about killing Malack to his father, Malack's best friend, and insists he wants nothing from his father, especially not pity or charity, while deriding his father as a weakling who is "past it" when it comes to being a villain. Tarquin unemotionally stabs him dead.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch:
- Malack may have been evil, but the only reason he hated Nale was because he killed his vampire spawn. Nale not only subjected him to a horrible death, he claimed that killing the spawn was just so he could figure out the best way to kill him.
- On the receiving end of the trope from Laurin Shattersmith, who disintegrates his corpse so he can't be resurrected. That's what he gets for boasting about killing Malack and making him suffer while doing so straight to her and Tarquin's faces, not to mention all his other misdeeds.
- Killed Off for Real: His corpse is disintegrated by Laurin to prevent his resurrection, as payment for him doing the same to Malack. The only thing that could bring him back now is a Wish, Miracle, True Resurrection (all of which are 9th level spells and as Haley pointed out there may not be anyone of high enough level to cast them in the world), or direct intervention from a deity. As these are story-breakers, they aren't likely to happen.
- Kill It with Fire: Nale decides to kill Malack by removing his Protection from Daylight spell, causing him to burst into flames.
- Lamarck Was Right: He takes his Lawful Evil Take Over the World outlook from his father and his Complexity Addiction from his mother, in reverse of how Elan is a Chaotic Good hero working For Happiness (taking after his mother) with a love of tropes and stories (from his father).
- Lame Pun Reaction: Elan's jokes eventually cause this.Nale: Ugh, that was horrible! I swear, I'm going to kill you, then pay a cleric to raise you, and kill you again, just to make you pay for the puns!
- Laughably Evil: Nale is a mass-murdering scumbag, but some of his comments are pretty funny, as is his massively inflated opinion of himself.
- Magic Knight: Thanks to his elaborate multiclassing, he's both a capable warrior and a pretty strong spellcaster. He definitely seems to lean on the "magic" side, though, given his preference for Standard Status Effect spells in serious confrontations, and the fact that Elan consistently outdoes him in swordplay even before taking levels in Dashing Swordsman.
- Master of None: As a multiclass fighter/rogue/sorceror, he has roughly the same set of abilities as his twin, but in an excessively complicated and, many would say, far less functionally useful way. One major advantage of a bard over Nale's needlessly complicated multiclassing is that despite being arcane casters, bards can cast healing spells (for the most part otherwise reserved for divine casters such as clerics). It's quite possible that he and Zz'dtri would still be alive if Nale could've cast healing spells after Girard's pyramid exploded, like Elan did after the same explosion.
- Mistaken for Gay: Nale (disguised as his brother) making out with a shapeshifted Sabine gives V such an impression about Elan in "Caught in the Act".
- Most Definitely Not a Villain: While disguised as Elan, to convince Elan's teammates, he does a terrible job pretending to be his twin. The most effective thing he did was shave his beard.
- My Beloved Smother: Gender-inverted, with his dad, if his rant about Tarquin's obsessive controlling to be believed.
- Nepotism: He hates it. He doesn't want his father's help, and doesn't want it because it involves living in his shadow. Unfortunately, when he emphatically declares that he doesn't want Tarquin's protection, Tarquin stabs him in the chest. Given the fact that Tarquin has murdered people for pinching his wife's butt, Nale got off easy considering the perpetual thorn in Tarquin's side he's been even before he killed Malack. In fact, Tarquin says Nale wouldn't have made it this far without his father's protection.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Ironically, every one of Nale's appearences end up helping the Order in some way.
- In the Dungeon of Dorukan, Nale's plot indirectly leads the Order of meet Celia, who shows them a shortcut to meet up with Xykon sooner, and who would help out in later arcs.
- Sending the Order on a side-quest for Starmetal just to buy time to recruit replacements for his Guild resulted in Roy getting a much more powerful sword. Sabine lampshades this the moment he explains The Plan, but he's too sure of the sensibility of it to reconsider.
- As Vaarsuvius points out, his kidnapping Julia means the Order's still in Azure City just in time to help defend it against Xykon's Hobgoblin army. Were it not for that, they would have been in the Western Continent at that time.
- When he attacks Elan at the Empire of Blood, his presence convinces Tarquin to reveal what he knows about the Draketooths earlier than planned.
- His murder of Malack causes Vampire Durkon to regain his free will. Durkon immediately kills Zz'dtri and rejoins the Order.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Nale's a rather dangerous psychopath in his own right, but on the one occasion he abandoned his complexity addiction, he killed a vampire cleric massively more powerful than himself with a disarm, a Dispel Magic from Zz'dtri, and a vampire's weakness to sunlight — very Tarquin-ish.
- Overlord Jr.: He may have been this in his backstory, but by the present he's struck out on his own after a failed coup attempt — and deeply resents any attempt to get him "up and running as part of the team" again.
- Pay Evil unto Evil:
- Malack, who outright admits he will kill Nale once he is no longer useful to Tarquin, and that Tarquin will let him do it. Nale pre-empts this and strikes first.
- It turns out Tarquin was hoping that Nale would avert this by impressing him at Girard's Gate. If Nale had succeeded, Tarquin would have attempted to convince Malack and the rest of the team that Nale was worth keeping around. Then Nale kills Malack and rejects his father's offer and he gets his payment in full.
- Pet the Dog: His genuine love for Sabine... however, we then find out it's maintained at least partially by human sacrifices, making it just another way in which he's evil. It's more like Pet the Demonic Wolfhound.
- Pride: His own father looks down on Nale because he's so proud it tends to make him do stupid things. Case in point: he had a perfectly good plan to track down Girard's gate and gain control of it, it was going well, and then he learned that the Order of the Stick was in town. Nale assumed they were there because they were after him, when in reality they didn't even know he was still alive, let alone in the same city as them. Between that and his desire to kill Elan, he couldn't resist striking at them immediately. As opposed to, say, waiting until they'd left the city to attack them so that nobody would interfere in the battle, or not even bothering to fight them at all and just trying to get to the gate ASAP. It doesn't turn out very well.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Overall, Nale is a spoiled brat who can't stand not getting what he wants... much like his father.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives a brief one to his father, in strip #913.Nale: You don't even have the balls to go big anymore. You're just a scared old man, protecting his rut.
- Relative Button: He employs this trope twice; first by asking Malack about his dead children, (whom Nale killed) and then by taunting Tarquin, Laurin, and company about killing Malack. Neither time did much good for him, and the latter time it was part of what got him killed.
- Reminiscing About Your Victims: Even though Malack's death was mere moments before, Nale clearly takes pleasure in the memory when he gloats about Malack dying in horrific pain.Nale: I killed Malack. I made him scream for his god in the desert sun. His ashes smelled like burning leather. He suffered.
- The Resenter: His main motive is to be his own person instead of a cog in his father's schemes, ever stuck in Tarquin's shadow. He particularly resents his father, because for all his resources, Tarquin only follows slow, pragmatic schemes and never tries to risk overreaching his grasp.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Tries this and fails after getting ambushed by Belkar. Luckily for him, his father picks up the slack.
- Sdrawkcab Name: "Elan" backwards.
- Self-Made Man: For all his many, many faults, Nale wants to achieve his goals by his own merits, without depending on any nepotism. It's one of the foundation roots for his pride.
- Skewed Priorities: Accused of this by Tarquin. Specifically, Nale's Pride means that he sees making sure that everyone knows when he is victorious as being more important than securing the victory itself, and he will happily jeopardize a plan that hinges on him maintaining a low profile in order to do so.
- Smug Snake: Nale is full of himself, and nowhere near as good as he thinks himself to be.
- So Long, Suckers!: "+12 to Jump checks, sucker!"
- Spanner in the Works: His appearance at Cliffport ensures that the Order is present at Azure City when Xykon attacks (indirectly leading to Miko killing Shojo and then her shattering the Gate) and thus the Don't Split the Party arc is his fault. It also allows him to learn about the Gates which causes him to go to the Empire of Blood leading to the destruction of Girard's Gate, Durkon becoming a vampire, and the deaths of Malack, Zz'drti, and Nale himself.
- Sticks to the Back: His longsword in the third arc has no means of connecting to his back; it just fits there.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Nale eventually accomplished one of his long-term goals: destroying Malack.
- Too Clever by Half: Though he can make airtight plans ahead of time, his ego and Complexity Addiction drive him to add more extravagant and complicating flourishes during execution. When he does have a sweeping success, his need to have his brilliance validated for it tends to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
- Too Dumb to Live:
- Nale is much more concerned with everyone knowing that he is the winner than winning, and tends to make terrible, dangerous, and over-complicated plans as a result. Eventually, he is foolish enough to gloat about murdering Malack in front of Malack's friends, both of whom are far stronger than he is. His father, one of the friends, drags him aside and offers him one last chance at reconciliation, telling him that he lied when giving Malack permission to kill Nale. So Nale snaps, screaming out a lifetime of frustration at his father's lies, abuse, and manipulations, demands to be left alone and be allowed to be his own person. So Tarquin, in a scene mirroring Nale and Elan's first confrontation, kills him.Tarquin: What did you think the price for killing my best friend would be? Really, Nale, you would have been dead years ago if it weren't for my protection.
- In the commentary for Blood Runs in the Family Rich says that Malack believes that Nale would be a fool to move against him, but unfortunately for Malack, Nale happens to be that sort of fool.
- Nale is much more concerned with everyone knowing that he is the winner than winning, and tends to make terrible, dangerous, and over-complicated plans as a result. Eventually, he is foolish enough to gloat about murdering Malack in front of Malack's friends, both of whom are far stronger than he is. His father, one of the friends, drags him aside and offers him one last chance at reconciliation, telling him that he lied when giving Malack permission to kill Nale. So Nale snaps, screaming out a lifetime of frustration at his father's lies, abuse, and manipulations, demands to be left alone and be allowed to be his own person. So Tarquin, in a scene mirroring Nale and Elan's first confrontation, kills him.
- Unholy Matrimony: Although he explicitly helps maintain it with regular human sacrifices, Nale does genuinely love Sabine, and it's his most redeeming feature. He's noticeably distraught when Durkon's Holy Word banishes her back to the Lower Planes.Nale: The make-up killing is the best part of any fight.
- "Wanted!" Poster: Gannji shows through this that Nale is wanted on the Western continent for betraying the Empire of Blood.
- We Can Rule Together: To Elan because they're brothers and he wants to corrupt the good twin.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Averted. Despite being the evil Unfavorite of his evil father, Nale only wants for Tarquin to get out of his life and treat him like an adult rather than a plot device.
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Nale's evil Outsider (D&D speak for "native to one of the Outer Planes") girlfriend, eventually confirmed to be a succubus. Can shapeshift into any humanoid form. She's also the IFCC's direct agent in the Linear Guild.
- The Ageless: As a succubus, she doesn't age.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Sabine inverts this, and Single Woman Seeks Good Man, in one fell swoop.Sabine: Sure, women like me swoon for a hero, but that's only because deep down, we think we can change them. But me, I'm done with that now. I want a nice, safe, reliable mass-murderer that I can depend on.
- Anything That Moves: As a succubus, Sabine will have sex with anything, by nature.
- Bare Your Midriff: In her schoolgirl disguise, as well as her red bikini in the third arc. She's a succubus after all; sex appeal is her thing, and it's not like she needs the armor.
- Belly Buttonless: While having one when shapeshifted as a human, she lacks a bellybutton in her true form (since succubi are demons and thus not born like mammals with an umbilical cord).note
- Blue and Orange Morality: Being a Succubus, she would have been perfectly okay with Nale having sex with Haley, but was angry over him killing her alone.
- Comically Missing the Point: When Nale gets upset that she had sex four times in three hours without him, she comments about how she had other errands to run (Sabine doesn't begrudge Nale doing the same thing).
- The Corrupter: She attempts to seduce/corrupt Miko Miyazaki into becoming a blackguard, but Miko has none of it.
- Dark Action Girl: She has a great deal of personal power and her energy drain ability makes fights with her even more brutal.
- Depraved Bisexual: As is to be expected of a Succubus. Apart from making out on separate occasions with both of Tarquin's sons, she also finds Miko Miyazaki attractive and relishes the idea of corrupting her into a Blackguard. (That, and she gets bonus pay for every paladin she convinces to become one.) Needless to say, Miko is not amused by her come-hither.
- The Dragon: The consistent number two in the Linear Guild. She's also considerably more powerful in a straight-up fight than Nale.
- Dragon with an Agenda: She's covertly working for the IFCC as a mole inside the Linear Guild. It's strongly implied that she actually favors her relationship with Nale over her job, though, and eventually confirmed when Nale is killed and she openly aids the Order by feeding Varsuuvius information on how to fight the Vector Legion.
- Enemy Mine: She provides inside information on the abilities of Tarquin's party to Vaarsuvius in the hopes that the elf will contribute to Tarquin's death. This is for revenge over Tarquin killing Nale. It's safe to say that she will side with The Order of the Stick if the latter ever returns to the Empire of Blood.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: She truly loves Nale and confesses as much to him before Durkon's Holy Word banishes her to the Lower Planes. She is willing to help the good guys (or, more specifically, one good guy) beat the Empire of Blood because they killed off her sweetheart, and not because doing so will wreak more havoc in the long run (which should be her chief motivation as a Chaotic Evil outsider).
- Evil Counterpart:
- To Haley as the sneaky one and party Number Two.
- Given that she's also an (evil) outsider in a relationship with the leader of the party, she could be one for Celia.
- Evil Tastes Good: She gets a real kick out of draining levels and life energy, claiming to taste it.
- Flight: Via her wings.
- Flying Brick: She's strong enough to carry around grown men her size without visible effort, and has Damage Reduction and the ability to fly thanks to being a succubus.
- Game Face: Once she betrays the Order, horns sprout out of her head as well as wings out of her back. Her eyes also turn red.
- Geisha: She takes the appearance of one while undercover in Azure City in order to blend with the local culture.
- Good Wings, Evil Wings: The evil bat-wings kind, naturally, because she's a succubus.
- Head Turned Backwards: For a short time, after a Neck Snap from Miko. She finds it annoying.
- Hell-Bent for Leather:Haley: She's wearing red leather. I mean, red leather?? Of course she's evil!
- Horned Humanoid: When in her true form she has horns because she's a demonic creature.
- Horny Devils: There was debate for a long time on whether she is a succubus (demon seductress) or an erinyes (devil dominatrix). She is eventually confirmed to be a succubus.
- Humanshifting: She can do "human", "dwarf", and also turn male. (By D&D rules, she can change into any Medium or Small humanoid form.)
- I Take Offense to That Last One!: "Suspicious Agreement"note :Malack: Is your vapid devil-whore still keeping you aloft?
Sabine: HEY! Who are you calling a devil?
- Kiss of Death: Her energy-draining kiss. Nale buys potions that provide immunity to this (in bulk) for their make-out sessions.
- Kryptonite Factor:
- Haley isn't sure if Sabine's the kind of fiend that is harmed by cold iron or silver, so she decides to use both.
- Being hit by Durkon's Holy Word banishes her for twenty-four hours.
- Ladykiller in Love: Implied to be a gender-flipped version for her and Nale. She'll still sleep with other beings when he's not around, but she tells him she loves him and, for a succubus, she's quite loyal to him. She certainly takes his death very... personally.
- Level Drain: Through her Kiss of Death she steals vital energy.
- Morphic Resonance: So far, her alternate forms have kept the same skin tone, and most often the same hair color (with a few exceptions).
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: For most of the comic, even when she was a deadly threat, her goofy one-track mind and seemingly low intelligence were usually played for comedy. Once her lover dies, and dies for keeps due to Disintegration, she demonstrates exactly how intelligent she is by feeding Vaarsuvius huge piles of deadly accurate and useful information about Tarquin and his allies. This leads to V's victory over Laurin.
- Odd Friendship: Ever since Vaarsuvius unwittingly gave her some relationship advice, Sabine seems pretty fond of the elf. She even gives V some words of support when Vaarsuvius' soul is dragged down to hell. V's thoughts on the situation aren't entirely clear.
- Power Perversion Potential: She can use shapeshifting for "experimentation".
- Really Gets Around: She mentions sleeping with four different people while Nale was plotting to kill Haley. This was in a three hour period and she was in a hurry.
- Redemption Demotion: Played with, but mostly inverted. Nale's death turns her from a flighty villain who generally needs someone else to do the thinking for her to present a true threat to a deadly focused person who is able to motivate herself to recall vast quantities of specific intelligence about his killers that she otherwise might not have bothered to remember, and becoming much more effective and deadly as a result. Played with in that she isn't truly "redeemed" in any sense of the word, but her love for Nale still sees her siding with the heroes against a group of villains.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Her eyes glowing red is their normal status in her real form. They may also seep through while she's in human form, like the first time we see them, thus giving a hint about her true nature.
- Sexy Backless Outfit: Justified, as she needs to be able to unfurl her wings.
- Shapeshifters Do It for a Change: It's stated that she and Nale have had sex with her in male form at least once.
- Sole Survivor: As of the Empire of Blood Arc, the only active member of the guild left in play. Even if Thog isn't dead, he's still probably imprisoned back in the Empire of Blood.
- Stripperific: She never was overdressed, but her Blood Runs in the Family outfit is basically a red bikini with boots.
- Super Strength: She can easily lift Nale and carry him into the sky.
- Super Toughness: Thanks to her demonic Damage Reduction, attacks not made with specially-made weapons (like Haley's cold-iron arrows, or Roy's starmetal blade) barely phase her. Durkon whaling on Sabine with his warhammer barely registers as a hard tap, and Elan can't even break her skin with his rapier.
- Tantrum Throwing: After witnessing Nale's death on the IFCC's blood plasma TV, she throws the whole couch she and V were sitting on at the screen. The fiends tell her it's coming out of her Christmas bonus.
- Undying Loyalty: To Nale, even despite Qarr's warnings. It's clear to see that she would stay with Nale even if her superiors didn't say so.
- Unholy Matrimony: She and Nale are really in love with one another, and have a very fulfilling relationship. Her last words before being banished to the Lower Planes are to tell Nale that she loves him. Those were her last words to him and he couldn't hear them.
- The Vamp: Often pulls the "mysterious seductive" woman card to achieve goals. It's part of the succubus package.
- Vampiric Draining: Sabine can drain her enemies's life essence with a kiss as well as her claws. The former is standard for a Succubus, the latter isn't (though it is consistent with the Soul Drinker Prestige Class).
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: She can assume the form of any humanoid, regardless of gender or age, though all of her disguises have physical commonalities in dark skin, black hair, and (when she gets serious) glowing red eyes.
- Winged Humanoid: She has leathery bat-like wings in her true form.
- Your Cheating Heart: Her Blue and Orange Morality towards sex means she has no problems with having sex with random demons even though she's romantically involved with Nale. Her attitude is effectively that she's in an open relationship and given her species, it should be so obvious she never thought it needed mentioning.
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Half-orc barbarian (with a few levels of fighter) who loves puppies and ice-cream, as well as hurting people. His slow-wittedness tends to endear him to the readership.
- all lowercase letters: Lowercase and bold is his normal speech pattern. Although he switches to ALL UPPERCASE BOLD LETTERS while raging.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: After mass murder and treason, he ended up in a gladiatorial arena for public urination.
- An Axe to Grind: His default weapon and part of the traditional "rage" associated with it.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Sort of. Thog likes Nale so much partly because he enables and facilitates the half-orc's hobby of killing people and wrecking the place up. And he lets him stay up late an extra hour on weekends.
- Berserk Button: It's about the only thing he and Roy remotely have in common. To compare:
- Beware the Silly Ones: He may act like a cheerful kid but he is clearly evil and will beat the hell out of anyone he does not consider his friend.
- Blood Knight: He likes to kill people; it's how he cures his boredom when there is no sweets or puppies around.
- The Brute: He's a dimwitted strongman for Nale's guild.
- Bumbling Sidekick: He does a lot bumbling while helping Nale.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: He doesn't seem to remember some of the murders he committed off-panel. It's not clear whether he's only doing it to taunt Roy, or if he really doesn't remember. Given that Thog is dumber than a bag of hammers and seems to have surprisingly little actual malice in his soul for a chaotic evil mass-murderer, it's more likely the latter.
- Chekhov's Skill: Thog has levels in the Dungeoncrasher Fighter variant class (per Word of God), which he uses in "Smash". Among other things, it allows him to deal extra damage to an enemy by bullrushing him into a wall, also damaging the wall. Roy puts it to good use later in the fight.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Lots of odd ideas. For example he once put on a leprechaun costume to "get in touch with his inner greenness". Julio and Elan don't get it either.
- Comically Missing the Point: Thog's main brand of humor is how much he doesn't understand what the more intelligent people around him are saying.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Underneath all that stupid, Thog is very dangerous when he starts swinging his weapon.
- David vs. Goliath: Villainous example — Thog solo-killed a stone giant in the Arena of Blood. A stone giant with class levels!
- Dissonant Serenity: Thog does all his bad deeds with an expression of cheerful, childish glee (note the picture).
- The Ditz: Intelligence was his dump stat, and it shows.
- Dumbass Has a Point: Thog's a lot more optimized than Roy. In an earlier strip, he also mentions that he only grabbed two levels of fighter for the feats and leveled the rest of the way as a barbarian. Under 3.5 D&D rules, as a half-orc his favored class is barbarian, so no multiclassing penalties would result. The first two levels of fighter really are the only ones worth grabbing. Thog gets a bunch of class proficiencies, a feat and the Dungeoncrasher fighter variant bonus feature (as opposed to two feats normally), at the cost of an average of two hit points. He makes smarter character build decisions than anyone else in either the Linear Guild or the Order of the Stick.
- Dumb Muscle: As a fighter stereotype played straight, he's the complete opposite of Roy.
- Dump Stat: Intelligence
- Evil Counterpart:
- To Roy because he's a dumb fighter sidekick instead of a intelligent fighter leader. Defied by Roy, doubling as a "The Reason You Suck" Speech:Roy: I am so sick of hearing about "evil opposites" from you people! You're not my opposite, Thog! You're just different from me. Two things need to be almost the same except for one or two factors to be opposites.
Thog: uh...thog was talking about greatsword vs. greataxe.
Roy: They're not opposites either!! You might as well say that Nale and I are opposites: Good leader, bad leader!
Thog: nale is good leader, right?
Roy: Or Sabine! She's an evil female, I'm a good male. Opposites!
Thog: good point, thog never thought of that.
Roy: NO! It's not a good point! You're nothing special, Thog! You're not my equal and opposite. I've beaten plenty of cruel and stupid goons in my time, and I'll beat down many more when I'm done with you. We have nothing in common! NOTHING!
- Both are deadlier when angered, both prefer the simple approach (although Thog does it more by instinct, Roy does it because it's more practical) in combat and both use the environment to their advantage in a fight (Thog's dungeoncrasher class and Improvised weapon against Roy's knowledge of terrain and Combat Pragmatism.)
- Thog is closer to Elan, both being the silly one of their respective parties who have to be baby-sat by their smarter and more sensible comrades and serve as bumbling sidekicks to their leaders, and have class builds that make the most out of their primary stat. While Elan is the most unambiguously heroic member of the Order, Thog is the least villain-y about his villainy in the core Linear Guild.
- To Roy because he's a dumb fighter sidekick instead of a intelligent fighter leader. Defied by Roy, doubling as a "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: His appreciation for the joke "What is black and white and red all over?" "A zebrafolk that talks back."
- Faux Horrific: His idea of terrifying torture is forcing someone to listen to Céline Dion.
- Fearless Fool: In Tarquin's flashback to his and Nale's "disagreement", the Empress of Blood has Thog in her mouth, but he's grinning like a kid on a Ferris Wheel.
- Fourth-Wall Observer: He liked the Gender Belt subplot despite not being there, is aware of comic layouts, and unaware of murders he committed off-panel."thog will always treasure thog's adventure with talky-man. it featured non-traditional panel layout."
"thog hazy on that. did thog kill them off-panel?"
- Girls Have Cooties: Thog is afraid of girls, which is another thing that makes him Roy's polar opposite; Roy is very much attracted to ladies and presently in a semi-steady relationship with Celia.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Despite his happy-go-lucky attitude, he has a very bad temper. Even Nale and Sabine are wary of this and try to keep him happy.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Half-orc, though he evidently takes more from the orcish side of his heritage. He sympathizes with Pompey, a fellow half-human, for getting shafted when it comes to racial abilities.
- Hard Head: A head blow with a greatsword will make a loud "CLONK!", but barely faze Thog.
- Hulk Speak: "THOG SMASH!"
- I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: He gloats along with Nale about how the heroes will never be able to turn a petrified Celia back to normal... so long as they don't have the scroll Nale is carrying.
- Improvised Weapon: "thog improvise!" With a door. Safe is to say, one shouldn't ever consider Thog harmless just because he's unarmed.
- Jabba Table Manners: With ice cream, which is not only all over the table and himself, but also the floor, wall and windows behind him somehow.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: When Haley points an arrow directly at his face, he calmly says, "thog chooses to go quietly now."
- Misaimed Fandom: Both in-universe and out. Some forum members have tended to overlook his violence and focus on his sillier personality traits. Tarquin leans on the fourth wall to call them out about this.
- Moral Myopia: He's perfectly willing to beat the crap out of people or kill them, unless they're his friends. As demonstrated in "The Door Knocks on YOU".
- The Nicknamer: Thog does this mostly because he's too stupid to remember names. He calls Elan "not-nale" and Roy "talky man", for example.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: "Misdirection and Subterfuge", for a start.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: To Roy in "Smash".Thog: STOP TALKING
- Non-Malicious Monster: Unlike most members of the Linear Guild, Thog is genuinely polite and friendly and doesn't thrive on being a jackass, even when killing people. In fact, he has basically no stereotypical bad guy traits apart from the Lack of Empathy that all villains in the comic have to some degree.
- Noodle Incident: Thog once flooded the Empire of Blood's palace with lemon pudding. Tarquin still doesn't understand how he managed to do that.
- Obliviously Evil: Thog combines both the "stupid" and Cloudcuckoolander categories of this trope — though it's also unclear just how aware he is of his own villainy and why what he does is wrong.
- Odd Friendship: Thog gets on well with Elan even though they're at opposite ends of the good vs evil chart. This is at least partly because they're very similar personality-wise.
- Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: Thog had a perfect streak in the arena until Roy showed up, having killed 37 gladiators in a row, including a stone giant with PC class levels!
- Pet the Dog: His love of puppies, as mentioned above, and refusing to harm "not-nale".
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Thog doesn't get the extended Final Fantasy VI reference he and Elan take part in while attempting to get to Azure City.
- Precious Puppies: Thog likes puppies. Seeing them getting hurt has been known to trigger his Berserk Button. Even if the puppy is actually a Canis Major.
- Psychopathic Manchild: On one hand, Thog's bodycount of innocent civilians and police surpasses that of most airplane crashes. On the other hand, he's a big kid mentally and enjoys or loves very childish things. His childish interests include chocolate, ice-cream, board games and puppies; his childish traits include his enthusiasm for hugs, a fear of cooties, his short attention span and his simple manner of speaking. Deprive him of his interest and he will go on a rampage.
- Real Men Wear Pink: He loves puppies and ice cream, and is a fan of musical theater.
- Redemption Rejection: Elan at one point offers him a chance at redemption after he befriends him when he assists him in escaping from prison. He instead chooses to use a door to crush Haley, though not before admitting he'd much rather be having ice-cream with his friends (including Elan).
- Shipped in Shackles: The Empire of Blood transports its arena champion in this manner.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: Nale removes him from play for his second fight with Elan, and Thog is noticeably absent around the time the Guild starts looking like a real threat.
- His rage makes him greener and destroys his clothing, in a Shout-Out to Marvel superhero the Incredible Hulk. It also turns his pants purple (if they aren't already)."thog smash puny prison!!"
"how thog's pants turned purple?"
- He also dresses in a moogle mascot costume to get aboard the FFVI airship.
- His rage makes him greener and destroys his clothing, in a Shout-Out to Marvel superhero the Incredible Hulk. It also turns his pants purple (if they aren't already).
- Simpleton Voice: Discussed. Roy implies while fighting Tarquin that Thog sounds like a complete moron, and his speech manner does nothing to suggest otherwise.
- Sticks to the Back: His greataxe.
- Stop Being Stereotypical: It's implied part of the reason Roy hates him so much is that Thog perpetrates the very stereotype Roy has worked so hard to avert.
- Super Strength: His strength score is his best, and it shows. He once ripped off a man's head with his bare hands! And it gets even greater while he's raging, easily crashing through walls and throwing large chunk of stone.
- Sweet Tooth: Only a mountain of chocolate sundaes can delay his boredom-induced rampages.
- Third-Person Person: Thog know no other way to speak.
- Token Minority: Thog is the first half-orc to appear, and for several strips he was the only one. The second half-orc to appear is the nameless stablehand from "It Is Always Exactly Where They Intend It to Be"; the second half-orc with a name and role in the narrative is Therkla.
- Turns Red: Or rather, Turns Deeper Green. Apparently it turns his pants purple too.
- Uncertain Doom: As of comic #808, we know that Thog was buried when Roy tricked him into collapsing the stadium on top of himself, but we don't know if he was merely knocked out and has been re-imprisoned or if he died.
- Underestimating Badassery: Roy thinks Thog is just another big dumb mook not unlike the Red Shirt Army under the command of Xykon. Right after he makes this accusation, Thog's Berserk Button is pushed and he flies into a barbarian rage, smashing him into the sides of the wall and smashing him in the face with chunks of the wall. You really shouldn't have broken his tusk, Roy.
- Unstoppable Rage: Like all barbarians, he has the Rage ability (probably Greater Rage if he's around Roy's level) and is able to break open a jail cell and toss Roy around like a rag-doll while under its influence. Also, his post-Rage fatigue manifests itself as confusion and short-term memory loss.
- Weapon of Choice: A greataxe, in contrast to Roy's sword.
- Would Hurt a Child: Calmly took an axe to Larry Gardener's head when Nale told him to. On the other hand, this was Played for Laughs and no-one seems too upset about it.Nale: Sorry about the mess.
Warthog: Don't be, I've wanted to do that for six books. Years, I mean six years.
Introduced in the Dungeon of Dorukan
Class: Wizard (transmuter)
Alignment: Neutral Evil
A dark elf wizard and V's opposite number; unlike the ambiguously gendered V, he is defined as a male.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Double subverted. Nale claims that he wants to cast off the foul reputation of his evil brethen. Except he's one of those evil brethen.
- Antagonist Abilities: Unlike Vaarsuvius, he is capable of teleporting and transforming his enemies into stone, and is able to resist magic.
- Anti-Magic: As a drow, he has Spell Resistance. He reinforced this with feats and "stuff".
- Asshole Victim: Eventually Vampire Durkon kills him with a Neck Snap, and it's not like he didn't deserve it.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: He's built himself up in the third arc specifically to defeat Vaarsuvius. Right up to boosting his own spell resistance to counter the vast majority of Vaarsuvius' spells.
- Crippling Overspecialization: By adapting his entire build to defeat Vaarsuvius, a fellow wizard, he has left himself vulnerable to archers, which wouldn't have otherwise been a major concern. Later, despite being a transmuter theoretically capable of self-enhancement, he is ultimately effortlessly killed by a few whacks of a staff and a Neck Snap.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: His neck is rather unceremoniously snapped by the High Priest of Hel after the latter regains his free will.
- Dual Wielding: Twin scimitars.Zz'dtri: They're standard issue.
- Elfeminate: Before he cut his hair, giving him a more obviously boyish appearance.
- Evil Counterpart: To Vaarsuvius. He is a taciturn, unambiguously male dark elf while V is an androgynous high elf who never stops talking.
- Familiar: Qarr following his reappearance, although Qarr doesn't fit with the D&D definition of a Familiar (a normal animal that due to its relationship with its owner, both receives special abilities and grants them to the owner. The Feat Improved Familiar does allow Imps to serve as familiars, though).
- Flesh to Stone: Likes casting this spell when he has the element of surprise.
- Flight: With a house-ruled E 3.0 Fly spell.
- Informed Attribute: He's often referred to as a Drizzt clone, but he's not really one. He's evil rather than good, he's not a ranger as far as we can tell, he has no issues with his kin, and he doesn't have any of Drizzt's character traits or skills, being taciturn and emotionless rather than a Angsty Warrior Poet. Aside from his name, his race, and a pair of swords that he used all of once in combat (and not at all after coming back), he's got basically nothing in common with the dark elf.
- Neck Snap: Vampire Durkon kills him off via this method.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Helping Nale kill Malack freed Durkon from Malack's control, who promptly killed Z.
- In Series Nick Name: Z, a counterpart to V (Vaarsuvius).
- Overused Copycat Character: He starts out as yet another blatant Drizzt ripoff. V defeats him by pointing this out, prompting the two lawyers to drag him off.
- Parody Retcon: A bizarre example in that he declared himself, in-universe, to be a parody of Drizzt rather than a copy. This allowed him to get off scott-free.
- Pointy Ears: Drow share this trait with other elves.
- Prophet Eyes:Blackwing: I'm gonna fly up there and pecks your Little Orphan Annie eyes out!
- Put on a Bus: Dragged off by the lawyers for copyright infringement and seemingly written out of the comic. "Seemingly" being the operative word. The Bus Came Back, though it took more than 700 strips.
- The Quiet One: Part of what makes him the talkative V's opposite. This turns out to be a big problem in his rematch with V since he not only knows the spells but also all the psychological issues of the elf in order to break him/her with Trash Talk, but as Qarr points out he is too taciturn to use it properly.
- Shock and Awe: Favors lightning spells.
- Significant Anagram: His name, again, is an anagram of "Drizzt".
- Sinister Scimitar: Of course. However, unlike in the Drizzt case, this is played straight. As a wizard specializing in transmutation, he is capable of self-enhancement to fight beyond the limitations of his class.
- Squishy Wizard: Very weak to outright physical assault if he hasn't had time to buff. Demonstrated first when V defeats him with a Dominated archer, then again when a newly-free-willed Vampire Durkon beats him half to death with a Simple Staff before effortlessly breaking his neck.
- Static Character: As a result of him not talking much and being introduced solely as a parody, he gets less depth than probably any of the other Linear Guild members. Later, after The Bus Came Back, he gets slightly more depth (i.e. his rivalry with V and Villainous Friendship with Nale), but not much.
- Sore Loser: During both of his battles with Vaarsuvius, he almost won while they fought using conventional methods. However, Vaarsuvius ultimately prevails in both battles by thinking outside the box. The first time is enough to goad him into gearing his entire build towards defeating Vaarsuvius. The second time he accuses Vaarsuvius of cheating.
- Taking You with Me: Before being dealt the finishing blow in the fourth arc, he uses plane shift to send Vaarsuvius to... the Semi-Elemental Plane of "Ranch Dressing". Zz'dtri intended to send them to the Demiplane of Extremely Painful Torture, but the humiliation is still there. (It's worth noting that, as Conjuration is a barred school, V could not get back to the Material Plane on their own.) Qarr explains that he lied to Zz'dtri about the plane the spell would send V to, likely because the IFCC still had plans for them.
- Teeth Flying: When Durkon is released from vampire thralldom and offered a position on the Linear Guild in honor of Durkon's FaceMonster Turn, Durkon smacks Zz'dtri with Malack's staff in the face hard enough to knock out several teeth.
- Terse Talker: To contrast with Vaarsuvius.Vaarsuvius: BURN, you insufferably terse dullard!
- Token Minority: The only named drow to appear. The only other drow to appear were background characters in single-panel gags, or a female drow among the "evil adventuring party" raiding the Heavens during Roy's afterlife time.
- Two Aliases, One Character: For a time, was in disguise in the Empire of Blood, masquerading as the Elven ambassador Polozius.
- Villainous Friendship: Nale and Zz'dtri appear to have a legitimate friendship. Nale is horrified when Vampire Durkon kills Zz'dtri.
- Villain Teleportation: Unlike Vaarsuvius, he is capable of casting teleport or dimension door.
- Visible Silence: One contrast with Vaarsuvius who is a fan of Wall of Text is his big glob of silence.
- Walking Spoiler: Because he unexpectedly reappeared as the Linear Guild's arcane caster after over 700 strips.
- Yellow Lightning, Blue Lightning: Averted; his lightning bolts have an unusual green color.
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
A female dwarf cleric of Loki, who is briefly Durkon's love interest, until he learns that she is married.
- Action Mom: Comes to save the Order of the Stick from the vampires surrounding them while carrying her and Durkon's baby with her.
- Affably Evil: For a Chaotic Evil priestess of Loki, she's quite the pleasant sort.Hilgya: Say hello to the nice adventurers.
- Anti-Villain: She is more pleasant than the rest of Linear Guild and only works with them because her god told her to. Hilgya's more recent appearance has her team up with The Order and gives her an explanation for serving Loki, which in hindsight makes her even more sympathetic, while also showcasing why she was a perfect fit for the Linear Guild.
- Apologetic Attacker: Or rather, she apologizes to Durkon before Sabine attacks him.
- Arranged Marriage: In her backstory, she was assigned a husband, as is typical among dwarves. Less typically, it was at crossbow-point. She couldn't stand it so she tried to poison him.
- Badass and Baby: Effortlessly forces four vampires to flee while carrying her baby in a papoose. As she explains, being carried by a high-level cleric who can field powerful defensive magic is a pretty safe place for a child.
- Best Served Cold: After making her bones as an adventurer, she returns to dwarven lands to bankrupt her entire clan in vengeance for her forced marriage, divorce her husband, and settle in as a powerful Cleric of Loki.
- Burn the Undead: Fittingly for her patron deity (Loki, the God of Flames and Chaos), during a fight with vampires Hilgya conjures a searing column of fire to take them down. The spell lacing flames with holy energy, the magic protecting the undead from fire is much less efficient.note Blackwing: Watch out, Hilgya — they're protected against fire stuff!
Hilgya: Not a problem — Loki's fire burns hotter. Empowered flame strike.
- The Bus Came Back: Over 1000 strips after her initial appearance and departure (and over 10 years in Real Life), she returns to help the Order hunt down Durkon — and carrying their child in a papoose.
- Carry a Big Stick: Wields a morningstar when she comes to rescue the Order from the vampires.
- Dating Catwoman: She falls for and pursues Durkon Thundershield, a Lawful Good priest of Thor. This kind of occurrence is rare enough that, when they start having sex, both Loki and Thor are quite disturbed by this. After her eventual reappearance, her relationship with him is much more... complicated.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Durkon might have deserved a smack, but what Hilgya delivered was a One-Hit Kill.
- Enraged by Idiocy: Implied given her hatred of her husband Ivan, whose only real fault was how incredibly dense he could be (he never caught on that A) Hilgya didn't want to be married to him and had issues about the whole thing, and B) That she was trying to kill him, and he bought her rather obvious lie about going to the bathroom for several years). Outright confirmed when she kills Durkon after just reviving him because she thought his proposal sounded thoughtless.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite her many negative qualities and her selfishness, Hilgya has so far been nothing but a devoted and caring mother to her son.
- Evil Counterpart: To Durkon; like him she is a dwarf cleric but she worships the Chaotic Evil Loki instead of Thor, and while Durkon is defined by being selfless and helping others, she is very self-serving and selfish.
- Horny Vikings: Her helmet has two horns on it, possibly a Mythology Gag on how dwarves end up wearing these a lot.
- Irony: She protests against the system of honor that her people are trapped in and advocates the worship of Loki as a means of circumventing it. Loki's proposal of a bet between Hel and Thor is the reason that honor system exists in the first place.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Despite her being very self-serving and selfish about it, she does have a fair point on dwarves being more or less forced into a culture as a result of a divine bet.
- A Lighter Shade of Black: She's part of an evil group, but mostly comes across as utterly selfish and unempathetic rather than malevolent or sadistic, and like Thog she is genuinely Affably Evil. This puts her a few steps ahead of the more villainous and petty members of the guild.
- Luke Nounverber: "Fire Helm".
- Misplaced Retribution: She repeatedly tried to kill the husband she didn't want to marry, even though the arranged marriage wasn't his idea and he only ever tried to make her happy (not to mention being too stupid to understand her issues). She later admits that he was never the real problem.
- Mission from God: Loki sent her to join Nale's gang in order to acquire the monster-controlling amulet sealed within Dorukan's tower. Later, when Vampire Durkon is working with Hel to sway the Godsmoot vote, Loki answers Hilgya's prayer for Durkon's location.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Seems to overall view this as a means of resolving her issues with others. She tries to poison Ivan to escape the marriage she was forced into. Her first thought to get revenge on her clan was to burn down their home with them all inside of it, only stopping due to Kudzu potentially being harmed. Her response to Durkon rejecting her, and then being unsettled by his marriage proposal was to kill him with a flame strike. She raised him afterwards but those spells cost thousands of GP in diamonds and cost him a level right before an important battle.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: She doesn't like Nale, much less being part of his group, but Loki told her to join him so she did.
- Never Live It Down: In-universe. Blows a Will save against a vampire's domination effect, while potentially having a circumstance bonus due to how it put her son in mortal danger, despite being in a class that not only offers excellent Will progression but has Wisdom, the ability score that boosts Will saves, as a core casting stat. She's getting grief for that within pages of the battle.
- Never My Fault: In her first appearance, blames her husband for her dissatisfaction with their marriage, then later claims that Durkon used her unscrupulously.Belkar: Are we 100% sure "Durkon Thundershield" isn't just, like, a super common name?
- Pet the Dog: She apologizes to Elan for getting him stabbed by Nale back in the first arc, though he forgives her.
- Playing with Fire: Hinted in her first appearance, since Loki is the god of Fire; at the very least, she can order fire elementals to obey her. Later, she's shown to be a big fan of the flame strike spell.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Considered burning down her clan's home with them inside for revenge, but decided to bankrupt them by exploiting her eldest brother's gambling addiction and rigging a gelatinous cube race in her favor so she could support herself financially and because the smoke would have hurt her then unborn son.
- Preemptive Apology: She makes one to Durkon just before the first Linear Guild battle.
- Put on a Bus: Leaves the series after her hook-up with Durkon... until The Bus Came Back, after the longest bus ride in the comic's history.
- Religion of Evil: Priestess of Loki, whose official alignment in Dungeons & Dragons is Chaotic Evil.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In strip #1171, she randomly decides that she's done her share of work supporting the Order of the Stick and Clan Thundershield, so she just stops partaking in the fight and wanders back to the Temple of Thor where she stashed Kudzu, planning on prepping a plane shift spell on the logic that if the Order loses, she can ditch and run to the Outer Planes and avoid the gods deleting the planet. Despite it undermining his efforts by denying him an agent in the battle, Loki approves of it on the basis that it's pure adherence to his teachings.
- Self-Serving Memory:
- The way she describes her forced-at-crossbow-point marriage, her husband was a spirit-breaking jerk when he actually was a dimwitted Nice Guy who tried to be a loving husband.
- Many, many strips later, her description of Durkon and their relationship shows that her mind and memory exist solely to paint her and her actions in the best light possible while doing the opposite for anyone she doesn't care for. The only exception is apologizing to Elan for getting him stabbed by Nale. Notably, she describes Durkon as unscrupulous and depraved, then in the very next strip she also mocks him for his slavish devotion to rules and honor.
- The Social Darwinist: Proclaims that "Everything is a competition, and the only people who think otherwise are losers who lose." This is after she had just killed a newly-resurrected Durkon for trying to apologize and repent for the Dungeon of Dorukan.
- Someone to Remember Him By: Her night with Durkon results in her carrying his child just before she is Put on a Bus. This isn't revealed until after Durkon is turned into a vampire.
- Spanner in the Works: Her presence is one of the few things the HPOH's plan failed to account for. So far, she has been instrumental in messing up said plan. Then inverted: once the HPOH realizes his plan to defeat the Order has completely failed, he aborts it and begins fighting them as he would any standard high-level party. His Vampiric Domination grabs control of Hilgya, turning her against the Order, both as an active combatant, and by making her hand over her son to the HPOH for use as a human (or dwarven) shield, so Roy can't throw his sword through the anti-life shell protecting him. She then lays the final blow on Roy, meaning that the HPOH and his minions defeat the Order completely. For a few strips, at least.
- Turn Undead: She has the power to repel the undead, despite her god being evil (per D&D rules, only good or neutral gods can confer this power to their clerics), because Loki is strongly opposed to undead in general (finding them "icky"), thus granting a divine exception. She's notably seen using it against the vampire spawns created by the priests of Hel.
- The Unfettered: She does not care about what her ancestors think and simply does whatever she likes, a stark contrast to the rule-abiding Durkon.
- Unreliable Expositor: Her descriptions of her relationships are very inaccurate, and always paint the man in a negative light at odds with their actual personalities. For instance, her description of Durkon as "unscrupulous" and as a man who would "embrace... a descent into unnatural depravity" is so absurdly wrong that even Belkar wonders aloud if she's not describing someone else with the same name. Remember: she seduces him, and he only rejects her upon learning information about her he did not previously know.
- Unreliable Voiceover: The narration of her story about the marriage is poignantly contrasted with scenes of her husband's earnest attempts to make her happy, as well as her repeated attempts to kill him so as to escape the forced marriage.
- Villainesses Want Heroes: She romantically pursues Durkon even though they are complete opposites alignment-wise.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: She names her child "Kudzu", presumably after the much-maligned vine — or possibly the plot. Durkon expresses shock, directly invoking the trope, but Sigdi states it's a Meaningful Name, because kudzu is a survivor.Belkar: So we're just going to glide right past the fact that she named her kid, "Kudzu"? We are? OK.
- Woman Scorned: Wants to kill Durkon for driving her away and has spent all this time praying to Loki for his location. When the vampire created from Durkon commits Suicide by Cop, she resurrects Durkon just so that she can have the satisfaction of killing him herself... and possibly due to being upset by his marriage proposal. It's vague. She immediately claims "You can't fix rejection with a ten-minute cleric spell", implying she sees the flame strike as going easy on him.
- Your Cheating Heart: Ran out on her husband without actually ending the forced marriage (not from lack of trying), so sleeping with Durkon is a case of adultery, as he discovers to his horror.
- Your Tradition Is Not Mine: Her justification for worshipping Loki is that the rules for the dwarven afterlife are centered entirely around whether one has lived "honorably" or not, and the dwarven system of honor is rather narrowly defined. However, as being dishonorable is part of Loki's domain, and there is nothing more honorable for a dwarf cleric than living by the precepts of their god, then Loki worship is effectively a loophole she can exploit to avoid being condemned to Hel for bucking tradition.
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
A kobold ranger; effectively an orange Belkar-esque lizard.
- Character Death: Belkar turned his corpse into a hat.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: His son loves him dearly, and describes him as a good father.
- Evil Counterpart: Played with. He's a counterpart to Belkar, but Belkar is evil as well; in this regard, Yikyik's evilness which trumps Belkar's is that he works for the bad guys, whereas Belkar is simply the Token Evil Teammate of an otherwise Good adventuring band.
- Expy: Rich explained in the commentaries that Yikyik is Belkar in kobold form.
- Jerkass: Because he's like Belkar, he's a meanie.
- Lizard Folk: He is a kobold.
- Nice Hat: Belkar makes him into one.
- Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: He considers someone "leaving his threatened area" (and thus being open for an attack of opportunity) as reason enough to strike; twice in a row (thanks to the feat Combat Reflexes). Also a Mythology Gag — this is the exact language the Dungeons & Dragons PHB uses. "Moving out of a threatened square usually provokes an attack of opportunity from the threatening opponent."
Introduced in Cliffport
For Leeky's familiar Kitty, see Animal Companions.
Class: Wizard (conjurer)
Alignment: Neutral Evil
A half-elf conjurer from the Warthog's School of Wizardry and Sorcery, and Zz'dtri's replacement as Vaarsuvius's evil opposite.
- Ambiguous Gender: Averted; unlike V and most other elf characters, Pompey is clearly established as being male, which secures his position as V's opposite.
- Ax-Crazy: "Painful killing" is one of his top three favorite methods of killing.
- Blessed with Suck: He explains to the rest of the Guild how half-elves get terrible racial abilities that are simply nerfed versions of those given to elves. Thog sympathizes, as half-orcs are similarly shafted.
- Casanova Wannabe: No luck with the ladies, despite many attempts.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Helps orchestrate the plan to kidnap Julia because she refused his advances and doesn't even know who he is.
- Evil Counterpart: To Vaarsuvius, being a half-elf who uses conjuration and acts as a Support Party Member to contrast the elf V's use of Evocation and their role as a hard-hitting offensive wizard.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: A pointy ear on only one side.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Half-elf.
- The Intern: This is his job title in the Linear Guild. In his opinion, kidnapping and identity fraud are much more fun than fetching coffee.
- The Load: He is a low-level wizard still in school, so he doesn't contribute much to the fight beyond a few Status Buffs. However, Nale was in a hurry to find an Evil Counterpart for Vaarsuvius before Thog got bored and went on a rampage.
- Meaningful Name: The pun below is probably an accurate reflection of their respective power levels, as he contributes little to the fight except buffing Sabine and even Nale admits he isn't up to scratch.
- Punny Name: Pompey → Vaarsuvius = Pompeii → Vesuvius.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Ditches the Linear Guild with Leeky in order to strike it off on their own.
- Stalker with a Crush: He asked Julia out once... per week... for three semesters. When she asks who he is and he tells her this, she needs him to narrow it down a bit more.
- Summon Magic: Specializes in conjuration, which is one of V's banned schools.
- Support Party Member: He never fights anybody and the only things he does do are cast buffs on Sabine and summon some monsters.
- Unknown Rival: Despite being V's Evil Counterpart, they never meet.
Alignment: Neutral Evil
An evil gnome druid who replaces Hilgya as Durkon's opposite, a role in which he fits very well with his habit of animating trees to send them rampaging.
- Animal Wrongs Group: But with plants. He wants to overturn Cliffport for their sake.
- Bears Are Bad News: He can transform into a gigantic bear through Wild Shape.
- The Beastmaster: Summons birds and plants.
- The Cameo: Shows up in an illusory fantasy of Elan's as a guest at Tarquin's wedding.
- Continuity Nod: One of the proposed nicknames for vampire Durkon is Leechy Veinquaff.
- Evil Counterpart: To Durkon, as a divine caster. As for being an opposite, he's primarily a spellcaster who relies on his minions and shapeshifting for raw combat prowess, whereas Durkon is more a fighter with some spells (primarily healing).
- Evil Gloating: To V when he realizes the elf doesn't have anything that can hurt his tree allies.
- Evil Is Hammy: His introduction is a loud and bombastic declaration of his Evil Plan.
- Green Thumb: As a druid, he can animate and communicate with plants.
- Incoming Ham: "ATTENTION, MEWLING CITY DWELLERS!"
- Kill It with Fire: "FIRE STORM!!"
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Geometric Priests.Leeky: Foolish girl! I am a druid, I have special abilities that are more powerful than your entire class!
- Luke Nounverber: Windstaff.
- Morphic Resonance: When he turns into a bear, he keeps the same grey, tan and brown color scheme. Even the green of his holy symbol is seen in the bear's eyes.
- Mythology Gag: The power of Clerics and Druids has earned them the Fan Nickname CoDZilla. So Rich Burlew has a giant cleric and druid fight in the middle of a city.
- Not Good with People: As part of his preference for the company of plants, he doesn't like humanoids at all.
- No True Scotsman: He was thrown out from his druid circle, presumably because of his extremism.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Ditches the Guild with Pompey to strike off on their own.
- Simple Staff: His weapon, and a sign that, unlike Durkon, he favours spellcasting in combat.
- The Social Darwinist: As shown by his quote, he encourages natural selection by doing things the hard way.
- Square Race, Round Class: A gnome druid? Almost unheard-of.
- They Called Me Mad!:Leeky: The other druids may have kicked me out of their circle... called me mad. MAD!
But NOW who is advancing the cause of environmental preservation? Bwa hahahaha!
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: He wild-shapes into a giant bear monster to fight Durkon.
- Weaksauce Weakness: He prepared his attack-trees for all kinds of magic damage, including fire and lightning, except for sonic energy, which turns out to be the only spell-type V didn't prepare for.
- When Trees Attack: Parodied, yet still dangerous. He's a druid after all and he has spells for this.
- Who Writes This Crap?!: He takes a moment to gripe about the setting's Vancian Magic when it turns out V has been rendered unable to fight him just by not preparing the right spells.
Class: Unknown (probably Duelist)
Alignment: Lawful Good (possibly Lawful Neutral due to his willingness to let Nale and company rampage uncontested for the sake of his vengeance)
A Lawful Good kobold; son of Yikyik and intent to avenge his death at Belkar's hands.
- Affectionate Parody: Inigo Montoya as a kobold.
- Anti-Villain: The only reason he's part of the Linear Guild is so he can kill Belkar and avenge his father.
- Avenging the Villain: He wants to kill Belkar to avenge his villainous father and predecessor.
- Captain Ersatz: Inigo Montoya as a kobold.
- Character Death: Like his father, he is quickly killed by Belkar's actions.
- Curse Cut Short: "Oh shi—"
- Enemy Mine: In his own words:Yokyok: They are not my "team", murderer, merely a means to an end — your end, to be specific. I would normally never stoop to travel with such scoundrels as the Linear Guild. However, Nale promised to deliver you to my waiting blade without requiring anything of me but my oath to destroy you.
- Evil Counterpart: Inverted; he's the evil Belkar's good counterpart.
- Evil Parents Want Good Kids: There's no other explanation for how the Chaotic Evil Yikyik has a Good-aligned son.
- Hero Antagonist: He's a Lawful Good character avenging his father by killing the Chaotic Evil Belkar — in other words, the Hero Antagonist to Belkar's Villain Protagonist.
- I'll Kill You!: To Belkar for revenge.
- Lizard Folk: Kobold.
- Revenge Before Reason: For someone who's supposedly Lawful Good, he's awfully willing to let Nale go on a rampage around Cliffport just to lure Belkar into a fight.
- The Southpaw: Unlike his inspiration, Yokyok appears to be genuinely left-handed.
- Token Good Teammate: As the Evil Counterpart to the Order's Token Evil Teammate, this is to be expected.
- Token Heroic Orc: The only good-aligned kobold to appear in the comic and the only one to join the Linear Guild too.
- Weapon of Choice: A sabre, part of the Inigo Montoya reference.
- Zerg Rush: Belkar turned a mob of adventurers against him to work past the Mark of Justice that prevented him from fighting back.
Introduced in the Empire of Blood
For Tarquin, Malack, and Kilkil, see The Empire of Blood.
For Qarr, see Divine Beings Infernal Forces.
For Yukyuk's mount Sir Scraggly, see Animal Companions.
Alignment: Unknown (probably Evil)
A new kobold member of the group, naturally another Belkar equivalent.
- And I Must Scream: Belkar and Vaarsuvius force him to become Mr. Scruffy's litter box while he's under V's control. Lampshaded by V, who can hear his screams.Vaarsuvius: His silent screams are a symphony I cannot share.
- Back Stab: He introduces himself by sneak-attacking V with his crossbows.
- Butt-Monkey: Some pretty unpleasant things happen to him after Vaarsuvius dominates him, including nearly being killed when forced to duel one of his former teammates, being used as a litter tray by Belkar's cat, and being used as a trap springer.
- Calling Your Attacks: "Sneak attack!"
- Character Death: Defied. Belkar didn't kill him because there was a crueler alternative. He eventually gets his.
- Equippable Ally: V turns him into an improvised one thanks to some quick thinking and a dominate spell.
- Evil Counterpart: To Belkar, who as a result of his Character Development is still evil but becoming less so. Yukyuk is no different from the original Linear Guild kobold in terms of personality.
- Guns Akimbo: Given the setting, he uses two hand crossbows.
- Karmic Death: He's accidentally killed by a Linear Guild attack on the Order, while being used as a shield by Mr. Scruffy. It gets lampshaded.
- Kick the Dog: He shows his villain cred by crossbowing the Cat.
- Lizard Folk: Kobold.
- Meaningful Name: As of "A Dish Best Served Warm, After All", a name sounding like "Yuck! Yuck!" makes a lot more sense.
- Mind-Control Eyes: Appears after Vaarsuvius enslaves him with a dominate spell.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: While his initial betrayal was forced upon him via domination magic, when Zz'dtri tries to use phantasmal killer to eliminate him during the fight with V, Yukyuk stops resisting V's orders to shoot Zz'dtri.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Other than the weapon, there's little difference between him and the original.
- Tempting Fate: "I guess it's just my lucky day."
- Theme Naming: Third "Y*ky*k" kobold in a row, with Lampshade Hanging:
- Trust Me, I'm an X: "You don't need to be scared, I'm a ranger."
- Turn Coat: When Zz'dtri tries to kill him using phantasmal killer after V mind-controls him. As the wizard observes, he immediately ceases all attempts to resist V's mind controlling orders to shoot Zz'dtri afterwards.