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Combat Pragmatist / Webcomics

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  • Girl Genius:
    • The end of Agatha and Othar's little talk she pushes him over the side of an airship. Othar apparently has the catchphrase "Foul!" for whenever this sort of thing happens.
    • Agatha vs. her cousin:
      Zola Anya Talinka Venia Zeblinkya Malfeazium: Bringing a knife to a gun fight doesn't seem very smart, now does it?
      Agatha Heterodyne: Well, I suppose it isn't that much worse than bringing a gun to a clank fight.
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    • DuPree. The best example is her fight with Zulenna.
    • The Jägers are all over this trope. In fact one of them expressed this twice during just one fight:
      General Zog: Killink hyu enemies alvays counts.
      General Zog: Hmf. Iz still cheating. But in der GOOT way!
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Haley has no problem fighting very dirty. For example, she ambushed Crystal as she was in the shower, catching her without her weapons, armor, and protective jewelry, and killed her while she was stunned on the floor. It might be argued that this is dishonorable, but aside from that being the whole point, Haley is Chaotic Good, not Chaotic Stupid. Who could forget her approach to the test of the mind? Or, for that matter, the return trip? Considering Haley's class and the above commentary on D&D rogues, this is justified.
    • Belkar also fits into this category.
      • He was quite willing to fight sneakily with a paladin and either taking potshots or using traps against her. When he knocked her unconscious, however, he actually waited until she woke up again instead of simply killing her. He even let her believe that she had merely become dizzy for a few seconds. He did steal and drink her healing potions while he had the chance. For Belkar, this was less about being honorable and more about pissing her off. Obviously, he can't annoy her if she's out cold. Not to mention that his plan had been to let her kill him so that she lost her Paladin powers, while he could always get resurrected later.
      • When Belkar was confronted with the son of a Kobold he had killed, who was in full revenge mode, he was unable to kill him due to his Mark of Justice. He simply hires mercenaries mid-fight to slay him.
        Belkar: 50 gp bonus to whoever makes him scream the loudest!
      • Belkar is an even better example in the prequel book On The Origin of PCs:
        Guard: You knifed seventeen people in a tavern brawl.
        Belkar: Hey, its not my fault they brought fists to a knife fight.
        Guard: It wasn't a knife fight until you started stabbing people!
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    • Miko herself surprisingly pulled this off while appearing to be more of the Honor Before Reason type. When facing a group of enemies, she rouses them all to wake up, allows them to pick up their weapons and even lets them eat first, allegedly so it'll be a fair fight. In truth, this was all a ploy to get them into one group so they could all be hit with the same attack.
    • Vaarsuvius shows shades of this, particularly in his/her fight with Zz'dtri.
      Zz'dtri: Cheater.
      Vaarsuvius: Oh heavens! I cannot believe I violated the detailed rules and regulations we agreed upon before starting this contest! We must consult the referee for an appropriate penalty regarding my heinous transgression!
    • In the same fight, no less, rather than letting skill or stats win out, Zz'dtri had specifically tailored all his spells and abilities to counter V's. V takes advantage of the Crippling Overspecialization by mind-controlling Yukyuk, who is a ranger rather than a wizard.
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    • The Black Dragon waited to attack Vaarsuuvius until after s/he had left her allies and had exhausted her higher level spells.
    • Redcloak has always been pragmatic, with examples such as using Titanium Elementals instead of Earth because they are lighter yet just as strong (if distasteful, not being a "classic" element); walking his hobgoblin army into certain death because he only needs them as a distraction (prior to gaining a change of heart regarding racism); creating decoys of Xykon to make the heroes guess which one's real, but then having the real one take an entirely different method of approach with Greater Invisibility; etc.
    • Later during the siege of Azure City, Redcloak averts this when he accepts the duel with the human cleric while he still has an overpowering army (he doesn't want to waste lives on his side).
    • Still later, however, he plays it straight when he is proposed to a fair fight by Thanh, who is held by an elemental summoned by Redcloak.
      Redcloak: Stupid risks are just that: stupid. Crush him.
    • Xykon is also this. For example, in his fight with Fyron, he couldn't best the wizard with magic. So he pretends to surrender, then beats him to death with his own Wizzy Award
      Xykon: I've found that only two things really matter. Power, in as great a quantity as you can muster, and style... and in a pinch, style can slide.
    • During his gladiator match against Thog, Roy uses discarded crossbow bolts as improvised shivs, smashes an empty potion bottle into Thog's face, throws sand in his eyes, and eventually wins by goading Thog into dropping the ceiling on himself.
      Roy: THAT'S how I use my Intelligence score in combat, dumbass!
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Tagon. His first pugil-stick practice with Schlock involved slicing Schlock, and his pugil stick, in half with a concealed Razor Floss wire hidden in his shoes. Don't worry, Schlock can survive that sort of thing. His second, against the neophant Chisulo, involved lobbing the pugil stick into his opponent's eye from across the ring. And then, at a later wargame with sticky rounds as ordnance, he cheated by asking the ship to use some applied gravitics to mess with the enemy team's shots.
      Chisulo: I'm pretty sure that's cheating.
      Tagon: I'm sorry, did you just say, "Thank you sir, may I have another?"
      Chisulo: Thank you sir!
    • Schlock himself is pretty pragmatic, to the point arming him with a powerful gun is merciful. He'll just devour his enemies alive otherwise.
    • Kathryn too, to the point that she's one of the few people to have disabled Schlock.
    • The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries deals heavily in this trope; Maxim 31 even explicitly states "Only cheaters prosper". Therefore it's a rare to find a major character who doesn't use this.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
  • TFA Prowl in the Insecticomics teaches his class to use any available item as a weapon. When Laserbeak tries to call him on this, he kicks her aft with a sandwich.
  • Mr. Raven from El Goonish Shive:
    Wizard: Feigned frailty, no "En guarde"... Have you no honor?
    Raven: The lives of my students are more important.
    • The aberration known only as "Scarf" turns out to be the one antagonist who comes the closest to actually killing a major named character - by pulling a gun on them from behind while they're fighting a completely different aberration.
  • Karcharoth and Fenrir of Cry Havoc do whatever they think they need to in order to survive and win.
  • Rocky the rogue from Our Little Adventure stands out in their adventuring group.
  • King Eric in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic is known as great and just man and all that, but once the gloves are off, they are... really off.
  • Errant Story:
    • Jon Amraphel is the only main character without any magical ability. How does he cope with fighting Magic Knight elven military, monks with Bullet Time Super Speed, and tiny fairy demigods? By a) being very good with guns, and b) cheating like hell. Being a semi-retired assassin, he does his best to avoid anything like a face-to-face fight.
    • Meji proves she has a pragmatist streak after she ascends to godhood. When Ian fought the elves with his newly-acquired divine power, he blew up their city, fought the entire elven army at once, and then fought the fake human god. When the elves threaten Meji, she says that if she decides to fight them, she'll just stop their hearts.
  • Pinton the Pig in Future Pig is definitely this. See him teach it to a student here.
  • Dark Pegasus from Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures not only disintegrates an enemy in mid-speech, but then finishes his speech by mocking his enemies for allowing him to do that.
  • Homestuck:
    • Jack Noir is a big fan of teleporting behind people and stabbing them in the back. Though he is omnipotent, so perhaps he doesn't count.
    • Winning his immortality by killing the Black Queen with the bunny does, however.
    • Vriska Serket and her ancestor, Marquise Mindfang have no qualms with using their psychic powers to use others to kill or maim their opponents.
    • Dave is not above using his friend who their foe cannot bring himself to harm as a human shield. AUTO-HARLEY!
    • Terezi knows that Vriska has to be stopped to preserve the timeline and the lives of all the other trolls, and that she would have no chance against her in a fair fight. So she tricks Vriska into a psychological game of chicken and stabs her in the back.
  • In Pacificators, some of the characters tend to lean towards this (especially those with the power of fire and power of air), but Taffe Torbern deserves a special mention. No, it's not her special combo (kick in the knee then a heel palm strike, followed by a Groin Attack), but the fact that she is deaf. Observe Gincoi's shock and confusion when his attack failed.
  • Anyone but Wildfire is this in Exterminatus Now. Special mention goes to "Dirty Harry" Eastwood who, well, fights dirty, Lothar and his "cunning plans" and Morth who additionally mixes this with Pragmatic Villainy.
  • Axe Cop is not above poisoning his enemies, or murdering them in their sleep.
  • Grrl Power:
    • Math is confronted by a Wolverine knock-off villain with impenetrable skin and unstoppable claws. Just when Math's looking forward to an interesting fight, Sidney uses her whipcoil orb to stick the foe's own claws into his chest.
      Sidney: [to a glowering Math] What? Clearly, one of those statements was false.
    • Maxima is the most powerful super in the world by a large margin, to the point that she is capable of literally nuking things and surviving worse. She is also a soldier, and was taught to be a ruthlessly efficient fighter. When fighting Vehemence, she had Peggy shoot him in the eye with an anti-materiel rifle, used the distraction to knock him to the ground, stomped on his crotch (though he dodged that one) hard enough to leave a ten-foot crater, punched him a hundred feet into a construction site, used a concrete pillar to grind his face in, and then vaporized his arm.
      Vehemence: God damnit lady!
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things:
    • Jared was disqualified and barred from trainer battles for allowing his Gyarados to eat opponent Pokemon.
    • During the Nomura Syndrome arc, the Commander refuses to follow turn-based RPG rules, and just shoots the random monsters they encounter.
      Commander: Import'nt t' draw that fine line between fightin' dirty an' fightin' stupid.
      Jared: Well that doesn't seem very sporting...
      Jonesy: Excuse me, but remind me again why you were kicked out of the Pokemon League?
    • He does it again in the same arc during the climactic fight with Gackt, after the latter transforms into his ultimate well, penultimate form. Rather than engage in another lengthy RPG-style duel, he declares that he's gonna "Moon Tiara Magic this bullshit," and simply climbs up and cuts Gackt's throat.
      Jonesy: I don't think that's how Moon Tiara Magic works.
  • In Spying with Lana, Lana will pull every trick in the book in order to win a fight.
  • Unsounded: Spellwrights have a code of rules for Wizard Duels, which Quigley cheerfully ignores in favour of sneaking spells into his opponents' clothes, deploying pre-made magic devices to get an edge, and using Augmented Reality goggles to fine-tune his spellwork.
    Duane: M-my cloak! Bad form! "A dueling gentleman shall not draw from his opponent's person, clothing, nor weap-"
    Quigley: [Yanks Duane off his feet by his cloak] Mm-hmm.


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