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So you're reading The Order of the Stick, and something catches your eye. You don't think too much of it at the time. Then, a little while later, as you're going to the fridge for a drink or a snack, you think, "WAIT a minute...."

This page is for showcasing noteworthy moments of Fridge Brilliance or Fridge Horror in The Order of the Stick. Note that any Fridge Logic examples do NOT belong here — put them on the series' Headscratchers page, instead.


Fridge subpages are Spoilers Off subpages. You have been warned.

Fridge Brilliance

  • In Start of Darkness it appears that Redcloak's Goblin village was attacked for no reason. A closer look at the in-story backstory reveals that ironically they were purged to stop any knowledge of the Snarl circulating. This act failed to destroy the Crimson Mantle (which imparts all knowledge of the Snarl and ritual surrounding it and is likely the reason the paladins were ordered to attack) to its goblin bearer, but also guaranteed that Redcloak sought vengeance. In short, suppressing knowledge of the Snarl to prevent anybody knowing of its existence and using it is exactly what caused the entire plot.
    • In all likelihood, this is probably a major reason Thor thinks the rule is stupid.
  • V doesn't catch on that Roy has been turned into a woman by the Girdle of Masculinity/Femininity because V is androgynous themself, and it's a normal state for them.
  • The reason why Belkar has such poor Spot and Listen checks is because he has a poor Wisdom score, and barely any skill points, the latter of which is joked about in the very first strip.
  • While mileage varies on whether the first 120 strips (Dungeon Crawlin' Fools) are considered 100% canon, due to Rich Burlew writing them before he realized how long the series would last and how much emphasis would have to be placed on development and backstory, some fans take issue with how Redcloak's characterization apparently alternates between passive lackey (DCF) and competent evil champion of his maligned species and his vindictive faith (before and after DCF, but not during). However, as this comment recently pointed out: "The events at the end of Start of Darkness so badly shook up Redcloak as to make him mentally subservient to Xykon. Redcloak murdering his brother in cold blood AND having Xykon rub his face in it shattered his worldview to such a degree that he regressed into a Mister Smithers-like lackey role while he attempted to process what he did. Only when Xykon was defeated the first time and when he got in charge of the hobgoblins did he start to come out of his shell and act like he did before."
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  • Early on, a mind flayer passes up on Vaarsuvius to try and eat Roy's brain. V gets offended, since they have high intelligence and their brain would apparently be tastier. But if we look at the pervious panels, where the mind flayer sees the Order's heads as different types of food, it gets clearer that what makes a brain a good meal is balance. High-charisma, low-intelligence Elan's brain is a can of diet soda, for example. We don't know V and Roy's exact ability scores, but we can make guesses. V is high intelligence, but their charisma is very low since they can't get along wit people or effectively apologize, and this is pre-character development, so their wisdom is low enough that they'd gget obsessed with finding the rest of the team, go without trancing for months, and eventually sell their soul to fiends. Roy, on the other hand, is stated to have high enough intelligence that he could have been a wizard. He's also high-charisma enough to keep the dysfunctional Order together, and has high enough wisdom to be the only sensible person on the team.
  • Redcloak's lost eye gives several.
    • In this comic, Redcloak is really talking to his brother, Right-Eye.
    • Which also explains Tsukiko's insult of "Wrong-eye", as she was told by Xykon that it would annoy him.
    • The kicker? When Blackwing drops the phylactery, it bounces off a statue of Redcloak, on its right eye.
  • Ever wonder why all ninjas from Azure City wears a uniform with a blue or purple shade? Aside from the obvious being that everyone from that city wears clothes with such shades of color, their government is a lawful good society right? Well since ninjas are quite often dressed in black, the unique shade of color worn by the Azure city ninjas show affiliation with the city. Otherwise anyone that might get their spot check and see these guys would probably try to get them killed by anyone who can fight who's nearby. Honestly what person would actually trust someone in clothes that completely cover their body, the unique shade means they aren't supposed to be the enemy, and using color to show affiliation is extremely common pretty much everywhere. Even the Empire of Blood's "Death Squad" ninjas don't dress in pitch black clothing, they wear shades of color that are unique to them. Also wearing shades of blue and purple mix in really well with the background in Azure city. It's also accurate to real life ninjas.
  • Elan and Nale are meant to be evil twin counterparts:
    • Elan's a Bard, while Nale's a fighter/rogue/sorcerer hybrid, (basically a less optimized bard). So far so good. Nale's specializes in Enchantment, mind-control spells, which bards can also cast, but don't rely on exclusively. With a few exceptions (the healing spells he's picked up since leaving the Azure Fleet behind, one use of mending, one use of lesser confusion,) almost all Elan's spells come from the other school bards rely heavily on — Illusion, and suddenly the "Evil opposites" aspect of Elan & Nale's relationship gets deeper.
    • Furthermore, the brother's choice of spell schools reflect their alignments; most of the applications for illusion spells involve deceiving others, a behavior associated with the chaotic alignments, and Elan is Chaotic Good. Enchantment, meanwhile, focuses on controlling the minds of others and robbing them of free will, a behavior associated with Nale's alignment, Lawful Evil.
    • Nale's plans require a certain level of brilliance to even conceive of them, but as Elan calls the multiclassing example above, are needlessly complicated. In contrast, Elan's as sharp as a sack of wet mice, but he's also usually correct about the storyline. Nale has high Intelligence and low Wisdom, while Elan has the reverse.
    • On a related note: Zz'dtri's back. But why is his hair short? Well, we all know Nale has deliberately set up his team to be The Psycho Rangers to the Order. So obviously, he had Zz'dtri cut his hair just so that it would be opposite to V's now longer hair. Now that's sticking to a theme!
    • Elan's slowly been leaning towards Lawfulness thanks to the influence of Lawful types like Roy and Hinjo. When Nale reappears in Empire of Blood arc, he starts becoming more and more Chaotic, possibly due to the influence of Sabine and Thog.
  • Z's Parody Retcon actually makes a lot of sense. Yeah, like Drizzt, he's a dark elf who wields twin scimitars and presents himself as a Defector from Decadence, but he's different in several respects. Unlike Drizzt, who is a Ranger and fights with his scimitars, Z is basically a Squishy Wizard (albeit slightly more athletic than V), and only uses his weapons for channeling spells. There's also the fact that Z is a typical dark elf and not a Defector from Decadence. Thus, it couldn't have been too hard to prove he was a parody rather than a plagiarism.
  • It's probably no coincidence that the people of Azure City have blue hair. Azure City is to some degree a parody of the Far East civilizations found in tabletop games that involve a very cursory knowledge of Japan or China and tend to incorporate whatever the creator thinks is cool. Well, in such circumstances, anime is more than likely one source of knowledge, and it's common for anime characters to have unusual hair colors.
  • Argent's name becomes meaningful.
  • Elan's seduction of Sabine: Remember that she probably sleeps with Nale very often. Elan and Nale are twins. That's probably the reason why he managed to seduce her so easily. Also an Inversion of All Girls Want Bad Boys; since Sabine is a succubus, bad boys aren't anything new for her, good boys are the Forbidden Fruit from her perspective.
  • Step one: Read Order of the Stick. Step two: Read Continuity Snarl. Step three: Reread those strips outlining the history of the OotS universe. Step four: Realize Rich Burlew is a genius.
  • Vaarsuvius/Pompey is yet another evil opposites joke.
  • According to Races of the Dragon, a Kobold's favorite toiletry is Bitterleaf oil.
  • Vaarsuvius (and O-Chul) manage to hoist Xykon with his own petard; Xykon points out to V that power can take many forms...including something as simple as a class feature or a fairly low-level spell...
  • When Xykon punished Redcloak by not letting him recover his eye is a bad punishment in it of itself, but it's a lot worse when you read Start of Darkness.
  • Regarding this famous Heartwarming Moment, note Roy's comment about what class his brother might have taken. Maybe that's a reason why he puts up with Cloud Cuckoo Lander Elan. Not to mention how Elan canonically sees Roy as a big brother figure (as a replacement for Nale).
  • After Miko's death, she asks if she can visit her Paladin mount in the afterlife, since she no longer qualifies for the Lawful Good one. This takes on a whole new meaning when you realize her mount was most likely her only real friend on the world, as everyone else finds her too crazy or insufferable to get along with. Alas, Poor Scrappy indeed.
  • Tarquin and Tarquin's buddy Malack are counterparts to Xykon and Redcloak. In both groups, the first is a goofy Evil Overlord and the second is their Lawful Evil cleric partner who tends to facepalm at their goofiness. Rich expected Tarquin and Malack to get the Draco in Leather Pants treatment and was doing a deliberate Bait the Dog. With Tarquin and Malack, it's like he took Xykon and Redcloak and filled them with likable traits. The one who's undead and the one (metaphorically) seeking immortality is reversed though, to highlight their differences.
  • Xykon's epic speech about how power equals power harkens back to a scene in Start Of Darkness. Namely, the scene where he bludgeons to death master Fyron after losing in a spell duel, indicating that Xykon knows that spells don't win battles, you use the best tool for the job.
  • Tarquin's line about Thog in this comic is a subtle You Bastard! to his fans and their tendency to love him no matter how many people he kills. Now, think about who was saying this, what this person has done, and what his own status with the fans is. Tarquin's Genre Savvy is even greater than he realizes.
  • For someone who has never played D&D, the prismatic spray spell V used on the devil was pretty cool. But if you look it up and learn its exact effects, you can go back and look at V's successful attempts at the spell. The color corresponding to the resulting effect manifests in a bigger beam than the other six (so when V petrifies the demon, the blue light is much more prominent).
  • In Start of Darkness, when Redcloak kills Right-eye, the latter calls the former "Redcloak" instead of "Brother". This is not just a rejection of Redcloak being his brother, it's also calling him Xykon's stooge, because Redcloak is what the lich always calls him.
  • In strip 753, when Tarquin visits Roy and Belkar in prison and takes off his helmet, he responds to their reactions with "What? Do I have something on my face?". This seemed like just a standard joke, until you go back to strip 141, where Elan responds to the look Haley and V are giving him with the exact same line. Like father, like son.
  • This line by Girard: "Give a man enough power, and he's bound to abuse it, no matter how noble he thinks he is."
    • The IFCC gave V power, and they abused it, killing Girard's entire family line. Damn, Girard, you were right on the money.
    • His contempt for paladins leads him to be absolutely convinced that Soon will break his oath to not seek out and interfere with the other gates. Not only does Soon not break his oath, but Girard's lying about the location of his own gate has done more to jeopardize the heroes than anything the Sapphire Guard did. It seems Girard was right about the ability for power to corrupt, but wrong about who it was affecting.
    • The line by Girard is actually rather prophetic regarding himself and his family. They go out and seduce strangers and then run off with the children and their spouses' money back to their ridiculously scry-proof pyramid, leaving the grieving parents behind to wonder what happened to their baby. Abuse of power indeed.
  • Keeping in mind that warlocks in most D&D settings get their powers from contracts with demons, V's anger at being called one in the marketplace suddenly takes on a much more personal tone.
    • Double brilliance. The wizard that called him that was there to give V a divorce notice from their mate, who knew V had made such a bargain. They likely told said wizard about it in the process, as a means of getting V to flip out.
  • All of the Gates (or at least, their defenses) have so far suffered a Death by Irony:
    • Lirian's Gate—so besotted with the power of Nature to guard it, it had no real defenses against the unnatural lich Xykon or even a simple forest fire.
    • Dorukan's Gate—guarded with the idea that arcane power was the ultimate defense, which fails when you face an enormously powerful arcane caster who is specifically built to take down other arcane casters; plus, Dorukan clearly valued the intelligence of wizards, and the gate was inadvertently destroyed by Elan who is, simply put, a buffoon.
    • Soon's Gate—Guarded with the idea that the honour of a paladin was unbreakable, and is destroyed by a fallen paladin during a crisis sparked by Shojo's decision not to follow the paladin code (not to mention that almost all of the other paladins were turned against one another by the Symbol of Insanity).
    • Girard's Gate—the idea here is that you can't trust anyone outside your family, so you need to guard the gate entirely with members of it. Works well until someone lets off a loose cannon spell that obliterates your entire family.
    • Kraagor's Gate is the last of the five left, and is breaking the pattern: it's protected by a huge maze of monsters, but at Xykon's level there's not really much that can slow him down for long, except the most powerful monster in the series tricking him into potentially missing the right entrance. Subverted in that they're ALL the right entrance, but use teleportation and illusion to prevent anyone from getting into the actual Gate.
  • When V casts Vaarsuvius' Greater Animal Messenger to contact Belkar and Haley, they shield it from all magical methods of attack, but doesn't shield it from normal arrows. It gets shot and eaten by Belkar and Haley. At the time, V was a believer in the Almighty Superiority of Magic, so of course they wouldn't even consider that the spell could be defeated by normal weapons.
  • When Daigo gets knocked out by his family's would-be assailants (multiple times), whereas Kazumi goes Mama Bear/Pregnant Badass on everyone, one might assume it's because Daigo has suffered from Chickification, while Kazumi hasn't. This sudden imbalance in competence makes more sense, however, when you realize Kazumi has revealed her full name... While Daigo hasn't. Not revealing his full name is working like a sort of Power Limiter on Daigo, and he'll remain underpowered compared to his wife until his full name is made clear.
  • It may seems strange that an undead abomination like Xykon can be so funny and entertaining even as he's committing horrible acts, until you remember that Xykon is a powerful undead lich... and a sorcerer. Sorcerers' most important stat is charisma; being epic level and incredibly powerful, Xykon's charisma must be through the roofnote ! No wonder he's so likable.
  • Likewise why Roy initially found Miko so attractive. As a paladin she likely has a good Charisma score, which is generally a combination of force of personality, interpersonal skills, charm, and general physical attractiveness. Miko has a strong force of personality but the charm and interpersonal skills of a wolverine, so to keep with her Charisma score she'd have to be quite attractive. Not all Paladins have high Charisma scores (though they definitely benefit from them), but Miko also used to be a Monk, a demanding class dependent on high ability scores across the board to function. She'd have even more need for Charisma than a typical Paladin.
  • It's a bit odd that the Azurites didn't try to take advantage of Elan's magical singing during the war. Elan could arguably be more powerful than V during that sequence, since his song would add a great deal of both attack and damage to every single soldier that can hear it, greatly enhancing their chances of killing hobgoblins. However, he can't: He didn't have his lute with him, making it impossible for him to use the perform skill he had ranks in. Not a huge one, but a nice way to explain why one of the powerful abilities the Order has wasn't used.
    • From a story standpoint and from an out-of-story perspective, this makes sense. Both In-Universe and out-of-universe, bards are notorious for being weak. While, yes, bards increase the attack of other characters, it comes at a cost of not being able to attack him or herself. If the empowered attacks don't make up for the bards lack of attack, then the exchange is useless. If anyone raises the question of why the Order didn't give Elan a lute given that they are cheap, it's easy to explain: everyone, including Elan, thinks Bards are useless. They wouldn't think of helping Elan act like a bard because they are biased against bards and, at the time, Elan was more focused on being a cool action hero instead of being a support character like he was built for. This would come back around when he had to fight his father. Elan acted like a support to stick it to his father.
    • Really, though, this all leads back to Elan's deposition. He doesn't ever fight to be effective. In fact, he enjoys being overshadowed because it's relaxing to him. Elan never lives up to his full potential as a combatant because of this, but it makes sense from a pure story perspective. It's a combination of society's bias against bards, his love of narrative, his low intelligence, and his own goofy complacency. Elan is never going to grow as a true hero until he can put all of that behind and fight effectively. Honestly, that basically applies to every member of the Order of the Stick: casual ineffectiveness.
  • In comic 390, Elan's mentor comments that he's better off not knowing what a "padawan" is. Considering that the Star Wars references come thick and fast when his evil dad Tarquin enters the story, he's right.
    • How does he know that? Elan mentions his mothers' collection of Julio's pictures. Do you see his expressions? He knows.
  • Elan hangs on to the Girdle of Masculinity/Femininity because he thinks it might come in handy (and he was curious). Why did he think such a random, impractical item might be useful at some point? Because it was mentioned. He's Genre Savvy enough to know a Chekhov's Gun when he sees one — he makes sure to keep it because a) he considers it bad storytelling to draw attention to something and then just leave it there, never to come up again, and b) he know that the fact that attention was drawn to it guarantees that a situation will come up where it's necessary. Well, he also mentions to Roy that he kept it because he was a little curious too.
  • Roy is The Un-Favourite to Eugene, always passed over in favour of Julia. While this does have something to do with Roy being a fighter and Julia being a mage, keep in mind what Roy said to Eric: "I was just a kid. It wasn't my job to watch the grown-up. But...I still should have done something. I knew it wasn't safe. Dad just shushed me. He never listened to me at all when Mom wasn't around." It's quite plausible that Eugene has always selfishly blamed Roy for Eric's death. We also know that Roy rightly blames his father for Eric's death, so that may have soured his opinion on magic, leading to take on his non-magical grandfather (who Eugene hated) as his role model.
  • Related to the above, Roy is shown to be extremely strong — even without the Girdle — but still intelligent, which explains why he was considered a nerd in Fighter College. Roy has the same intelligence as Julia, but chose to be a fighter. In addition, his grandfather was a single-class fighter while is father is a mage, indicating high intelligence is In the Blood. He still uses the high intelligence (and wisdom) for esoteric subjects like Architecture.
  • Tarquin's three Empires are the Empire of Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Entire nations have been named after the sheer effort he and his team have put into managing and controlling the constantly warring states of the continent.
  • Tarquin being fairly dismissive of Malack mourning for his children seems like a pure Kick the Dog moment from him...and then it turns out that Malack is a vampire, and his "children" are the people he's turned. Tarquin literally doesn't see what the big deal is, seeing as how he can just create more spawn.
  • Why did Malack go out of his way to comment on how the trap was airtight? Because if it weren't, he could've slipped through in his gaseous form.
  • When Malack is first introduced, he implies he is Lawful Neutral, since his god Nergal is a god of death and death takes both good and evil lives equally, whereas an evil death god would only kill the good people. However we later find out that Malack is a vampire and thus evil by definition. This is because his previous logic is wrong: Evil in the world of OOTS is not one big happy family and therefore an evil death god is perfectly happy to kill evil people.
  • The "ghost-paladins of the Sapphire Guard" from comic #449 are this mixed with Hilarious in Hindsight. As Redcloak notes in comic #459, they're some kind of weird "positive-energy spirits". Before Rich Burlew really began working on The Order of the Stick, he submitted a campaign setting to Wizards of the Coast. He lost, and another submitter's entry won instead — that entry became the campaign setting of Eberron...which has, as an enemy type, the Deathless — entities like the Undead, but fueled by positive energy instead of negative energy. In other words, the comic's creator cribbed Soon Kim and his ghostly guardians from the very campaign setting that beat his out — Soon Kim and his Ghost-Paladins are actually incorporeal Deathless Paladins.
  • In #885, Roy insists that the party start walking in silence in response to Durkon's death. Soon Kim, who lost his wife, always walked in stoic silence with his party. This is yet another parallel between the Orders of the Stick and Scribble.
  • Nale's overly-complicated multiclass setup is a joke that works on multiple levels. On the surface, it just goes along with his love for complexity. But his build means he's essentially a glorified bard (which is itself a reference to the complicated multiclassing one had to do to become a bard in AD&D 1st edition). Also, the reason he has to use that complicated setup is because he's Lawful Evil, and Bards are not allowed to be Lawful.
  • Illusion:
    • In the illusion, Roy managed to kill Xykon while he was begging for mercy using Roy's name. Now, considering that Xykon can never remember Roy even 5 minutes after fighting him and the illusion was designed to show everyone what they desire most — then Roy secretly wants Xykon to know who he is as an adversary. The thing here is that when you devote your life to someone in any way — loving them, killing them, guarding them — you want recognition, regardless of the relationship's nature. Roy wants to prove that he's not the Red Shirt his dad believes he is, the mere precursor of a greater hero. This makes the illusion all the more brilliant when you realize Xykon's recognition of Roy when he comes through the door gives the whole thing away in the first line.
    • Heck, Xykon recognizes Roy at the beginning of the fight. That should've been a red flag.
    • Try noticing who didn't see through the enchantment/illusion: The cynical halfling ranger, the Only Sane Man, and the rogue with extensive experience in trickery. Elan beat all of them out. It's unknown if this is Character Development, knowing the medium, or experience with his chosen school of spells (illusion) and/or his brother (who uses Enchantment spells), but again, Elan won out with one of his dump stats.
    • Let's look at who was present at the wedding. This is Elan's fantasy so this is based on what he would imagine. Aside from key players in the arc and the Order the notable people there are Leeky, Inkyrius, and a kobold. The members of the Linear Guild that aren't there are Pompey, Hilgya, and the two other kobolds.
      • Elan never met Pompey.
      • He likely forgot about Hilgya and Yikyik due to their long absence. (While Elan did recognize Hilgya in the next arc, it makes sense he wouldn't necessarily recall her in this one, since it's far easier to recognize someone in front of you right now than it is to recall someone you met once some time ago.)
      • The kobold is likely Yukyuk because he saw him die recently.
      • Leeky was the most prominent member of the Linear Guild at Cliffport and Elan watched his battle with V.
      • V has a picture of their mate on them so Elan likely saw it during the group's travels at the end of the previous book.
      • The Illusion is actually a combination of Elan, Roy and Haley, so it seems likely that Inkyrius being there is a result of Haley's inclusion. Since she was friends with V before the Order formed, knew V was married and may even have met and known Inkyrius personally.
  • Tarquin's dismissal of Nale as a superfluous plot point after he kills Nale serves to underline another important difference between Tarquin and (post Character Development) Elan. Tarquin is so obsessed with how reality and fantasy intertwine in their world that he believes they're the same thing. Elan is similar, judging reality by the standards of fantasy — but the difference is that he knows when to turn away from that. As we see with Nale and the incinerated slaves, he does take death very seriously, and he understands that people are more than chess pieces. As the comic shifts into Cerebus Syndrome and Surprisingly Realistic Outcome more and more, this turns out to be the wise option.
  • Hilgya seems to be the odd one out among the Linear Guild, being nicer, less petty, and not having the same friendship that the others have. This makes sense because she's not an original member as shown here.
  • For a person who's apparently aware on some level how their world follows the rules of Dungeons and Dragons, Tarquin doesn't seem to possess a very good build. Assuming he's a fighter (possibly with some multiclassing) he's spent feats on being able to catch arrows, grapple with opponents, throw them, use improvised weapons, and be proficient with a whip. Then, when you consider he has a high enough Will save to resist enchantments, illusions, despite being a fighter (who have the worst will saves) he more than likely had to spend feats on things like iron will. He also has a tendency to use a variety of different weapons (daggers, axes, aforementioned whip, Roy's greatsword) which isn't really the best idea since it lessens the usefulness of feats such as weapon focus, weapon specialization, or improved critical. All of this adds up to a fighting style that is flashy, and definitely looks cool to the readers, but is ultimately ineffective...which is the point. Tarquin ultimately doesn't care if he wins or loses so long as it ends with a story that makes him look like a cool, memorable villain. As a result, focusing his entire build on visually appealing techniques with little mechanical effectiveness suits him perfectly.
    • Also most of those are fitting to fight the group. Rogue with a bow? Catch arrows and stab someone else with it. Sneak Attack or Hold Person? Grapple and will save. Wizard? Choke them with a whip. Invisibility? He has a ring of True Seeing. Tarquin built himself as his team's hard counter, he negates the others' attacks while his teammates strike the killing blow, probably what Malack meant by learning attrition from Tarquin.
    • Tarquin might be delusional about being The Leader of his own team, but he does still lead an army of Mooks, and most of his abilities revolve around negating an opponent's innate advantages, stalling them rather than killing them outright. This is a pretty good build for a Warlord to have, ensuring his survival while coordinating his soldiers, and foiling most possible assassins to boot. But in a party where everyone is close to the same level, he's basically a support player. Kinda like Elan that way.
  • Girard:
    • It's pretty brilliant how Girard, the most paranoid member of the entire Order of the Scribble, completely fails at protecting his fortress from the true threat, Xykon. The one person he trusts and who knows the actual coordinates writes them down (inadvertently giving them to Xykon), while the person who he gave the false coordinates to never gave them up or pursued his Gate. Additionally, his high-level uber-illusion is a mind-affecting effect, which the undead Xykon is immune to. Not to mention all those low-level Draketooth family members Xykon could have reaped like wheat even if they had been alive. For all his paranoia, the person who presented the most danger to the gate is the only person who would not be inconvenienced by his defenses at all. Of course, Team Evil being the last group to get there made it all a moot point.
    • Reflecting on it, there's a second layer of Fridge Brilliance here that would make Girard's ghost explode with rage — Soon Kim won their argument. Everything Girard did to secure his Gate only slowed down the heroes but wouldn't have delayed Team Evil much at all (fortunately for the Order, Redcloak did that instead). The assault on Soon's Gate required pretty much every resource Team Evil could muster - every single goblinoid on the continent Zerg Rushing it with the aid of the two high-level spellcasters, including an epic-level lich - and it still took an entire plot arc of bloody, Pyrrhic Villainy (mountains of goblin corpses everywhere while the majority of the human population escaped unscathed) to breach the defenses...and it would have been entirely successful, too, if not for a certain delusional ex-paladin. In comparison, Xykon shattered the defenses of two other gates like potato chips. Lirian's went down to an accidental forest fire, Dorukan's were overcome in direct magical combat.
    • A lich like Xykon is kind of a perfect storm for that outcome: as pointed out, most of Girard's methods just don't work on them, while Soon Kim's paladins...well, Smite Evil, 'nuff said. If the main threat had been, say, a more competent version of Nale, then Girard's illusions and even paranoid mistrust of anyone outside his own family would have served him better, while Soon Kim's righteous but potentially easy-to-manipulate paladins might not have fared so well. Heck, if Girard himself were here to argue the case, he'd probably even say that Miko was not a coincidental Spanner in the Works but rather an inevitability of the paladins' (sic) inflexible and arrogant worldview. At the end of the day, the real 'winner' of the Order of the Scribble's argument would have been a hypothetical voice of reason telling them to throw aside their damn egos and work together on defending the gates, contributing resources for each defense in order to cover as many bases as possible. Sadly, the closest they could manage was Serini stopping them from at least coming to blows over it (which says more for their own tempers than any deficiency on Serini's part as The Heart really).
  • The comic "Second Chance" doesn't just refer to O-Chul getting back up and giving him and Vaarsuvius a second wind against Xykon. It's a direct parallel to this comic, where we see V's guilt at turning invisible and abandoning the Azurite soldiers to die. Even before the full ramifications of Familicide sink in, V makes an active choice to stay and do something, despite the risk. Even though it's a small gesture, it's a powerful sign that V does have what it takes to start turning things around.
  • Take a look at comic #50. Take a look at Nale's shocked expression when Elan goes Genre Savvy unexpectedly. At the time the comic was made, it was probably just shock at Elan's sudden competence (and leaning on the fourth wall). But years later, with that family's backstory made clear? Nale's so shocked because he looked at his brother and just saw a younger version of his father. Which goes a long way towards explaining why Nale hated Elan so much for so little reason. It was really more about beating his father all along. His comment on his father arguing that bards are underpowered only furthers this theory by showing that Nale was at the very least conscious of the fact that both Elan and Tarquin share a fondness for bards and genre convention.
  • Rich's twitter icon is of Elan. Why? Because Rich is like a bard himself, telling the story of the Order of the Stick!
  • On the YMMV page, the desert arc is getting into Arc Fatigue territory. Which is exactly how the Order feels about it too. They had a grueling battle to get to the gate, then a rumble with Team Evil, and now Tarquin is hunting them like animals too. Rich has gotten the reader to be as sick and tired of this as the Order would be.
  • Tarquin is Genre Savvy, and flaunts this. He knows he's in a story, and wants to stick to that story as much as possible. If events unfold that don't follow the story, he will break down. However, his definition of "following the story" usually involves him and his immediate relatives taking center stage, and the other characters being forgotten about. If the story focuses on somebody else, he will unceremoniously kill them, and will stubbornly work his way into the story even if it no longer involves him. Tarquin is a railroading Game Master. Just listen to some of his quotes listed in his entry under Control Freak:
    Tarquin: As I've said before, procedure matters.
    Elan: But the safety of the world —
    Tarquin: — is meaningless if everyone is going to run around doing whatever they feel like, without regard for proper story structure. There must be some sense of order — personal, political, or dramatic — and if no one else is going to bring it to this world, I will.
    Tarquin: I'm sorry, Elan, but you brought this all on yourself. I tried to give you a dramatically significant death scene to swear vengeance over, but you seem to prefer this...this disjointed anarchy. There's no unity of theme here at all!
    Elan: Didn't we...already do the scene...where you try to convince me to do things your way?
    Tarquin: (grabbing Elan, face twisted with rage) Yes, and it didn't go right, so we are DOING IT AGAIN. And we will CONTINUE to do it until you understand that it is in your best interest to...
  • The Elan vs. Tarquin climax:
    • Elan's parting shot to Tarquin has Elan point out that thanks to Tarquin, Elan is no longer a twin. Ergo, Elan is no longer the good twin without Nale as his foil and so can afford to make a more pragmatic decision that is a bit cruel, if not actually evil. When Tarquin killed Nale, he dismissed him as nothing but a foil who had lost his use. So Elan's making sure Tarquin knows that killing Nale is exactly what Elan will use to not be the kind of hero Tarquin wants him to be, and turn the offhanded murder into something major, against Tarquin's Railroading wishes. For a villain obsessed with having the perfect tale with the perfect ending with the perfect hero, Elan could do no better than imply that removing Nale is what will deprive Tarquin of that.
    • On a similar note, his final Skyward Scream ("THIS IS A TERRIBLE ENDING") cements just how out-of-touch he is with the actual story. It is a climax rather than an ending, nor from a purely literary point of view a horrible event in the plot, as he was given a poetic end for a Glory Seeker: Being utterly ignored after he completely failed to steer the plot back onto his version of events.
    • And the final nail in this coffin is when Roy and Belkar come back on deck — Roy asks what happened, and Elan is utterly dismissive of Tarquin, referring to it as, "Nothing Haley and V couldn't handle." In an incredibly subtle way, Elan is going out of his way to deny his father any narrative role at this point besides "minor speed bump".
  • Tarquin thinks that he's the Big Bad and The Leader of his team. He's not. His role is to be the Genre Savvy party member who keeps the other members of his team from grabbing the Villain Ball. In other words, he has the same role on his team that his son Elan does in the Order, and is making the same mistake when he thinks that the two of them are the main villain and hero, respectively.
  • Everything in Tarquin's final speech after falling off the airship is incorrect. He says that the arc isn't over, has no satisfying resolution, has no growth or loss on Elan's part, has no sense of closure. But it does, simply because he wanted it. By depriving Tarquin of the ending he wanted, the arc is pretty much over, has a highly satisfying ending, Elan has grown beyond just following tropes and lost his twin brother, and the arc has most definitely closed. By giving the villain the ending he didn't want, the villain has well and truly lost, thus giving a much better — or at least happier — ending to the one that Tarquin wanted.
  • In the fight in the desert near the end of Blood Runs in the Family the team is being pursued by three much higher-level foes while already weakened, with Durkon out of magic, healing potions used up, and Belkar useless in a fight. It's pretty hard to believe the team could win with such a severe level difference, in fact Vaarsuvius seems to suggest their only hope is to flee in comic #926. Then, when they are forced to fight in comic #928 Vaarsuvius' suggestion to focus all attacks on Miron helps the team to dispose of one powerful foe for the minimal cost of one lost combat round, the only thing that let the team survive. It was pretty lucky that worked out so well, huh? Then you get to comic #935 and the other comics take on a new light when you realize that Vaarsuvius had been fed detailed intelligence on their opponents by Sabine, and had plenty of time trapped and impotent to plan. Vaarsuvius suggestion to flee in #926 was an intentional attempt to make Laurin burn her power on portals, knowing Laurin's tendency to "nova" by wasting power, and likely also knowing how expensive the portal spell was, thus leaving Laurin too drained to win their final fight. Likewise, focusing on Miron was probably because she was told about his usual contingency spells and decided to intentionally trigger it to dispose of him quickly. There was a lot more than blind luck helping the team win, and most of it was never explicitly explained. This one may also count as character development as well, Could you imagine the start of comic Vaarsuvius not giving a wordy dissertation on how their superior intelligence saved the day?
  • Vaarsuvius is very insistent that they did not sell their soul to fiends, but that it was "a fixed-term lease with an occupancy date yet to be determined". Turns out that description was even more accurate than V knew. Except that it's three separate fixed-term leases, with two of the options still available to be exercised in the future.
  • V's kids talking of them as "Other Parent" and of Inkyrius as "Parent"? Oh, sure, it's a hilarious gag to keep V's gender hidden. But they're speaking Elvish. Given how ambiguous elvish gender is in general, what if Elvish simply does not have gender-specific words for parents? It also points up how severely V has abandoned their family.
  • The Order of the Stick (minus Durkon and Vaarsuvius, neither of whom were present at the time) falling for Girard's illusion traps in the pyramid, followed by Nale falling for them among the Linear Guild but everyone else in that group shrugging it off, with Malack outright mocking the trap having an apparently rather easy resistance difficulty. Nale getting hypnotized by it seems like a one-off amusing gag at first, but consider everyone's classes in both groups.
    • Roy's a Fighter. Haley's a Rogue. Belkar's a Ranger with a level or two of Barbarian. All of those are classes with poor will saves. Elan is a Bard with some levels in Dashing Swordsman, but his Wisdom isn't terribly impressive. Bard is a class with a good will save, which, in addition to his genre savviness, would explain why he broke out of the illusions first. Belkar is also combining classes with poor will saves with a Wisdom ability score penalty, which would make his overall will save absolutely abysmal and explain why it took extra prodding via bard song to get him out of it.
    • Likewise, the Linear Guild has Malack (Cleric), Zz'dtri (Wizard), Tarquin (who knows?), Vampire Durkon (Cleric), two fiends (Outsiders), and Nale (some unholy hybrid of Fighter/Rogue/Sorcerer). Cleric and Wizard are both high will save classes, and Clerics innately have even better will saves due to the importance of Wisdom in their spellcasting, hence why Malack thought the resistance difficulty so simple (though as undead, he and Durkon are simply immune). Outsiders have good will saves, so they're covered there. Tarquin was noted later by Sabine to have a ring that let him see through illusions, so his class is irrelevant because he was outright immune. Only one of Nale's classes (Sorcerer) has good will saves, however, and as noted quite a few instances of Fridge Brilliance above, Nale is high Intelligence, low Wisdom, making his already barely-above-poor will saves worse.
  • Why would Elan pick out a puppet as a deity when he was trying to convince Roy he could be a Cleric? Bards and puppets have something in common: They entertain people. It would make logical sense for him to make up a deity relating to entertainment.
  • In the arc following Blood Runs in the Family, Belkar goes through hell trying to prove that Vampire Durkon is evil to the rest of the group. Suddenly, you recall that he previously put someone else through hell over something similar: Miko. Belkar's difficulty in proving his point could be karma for all his past paladin-mocking and helping shove her further down the slippery slope.
  • In one of the prequel books, Belkar usurps a monk who was vying for the position of "other frontline combatant". One of the insults he uses to demean the monk and get rid of him is to tell him he's got the Base Attack Bonus of a tree sloth. However, Belkar's actually right. All animals have the same 3/4 BAB per Hit Dice that monks did in 3rd Edition.
  • During Miko's first appearance, Durkon is convinced that the Order should go quietly with her because the storm prevented it from being a one-stroke battle, therefore it must be a sign from his god that they need to go with the paladin. Cut to Thor with ale in one hand, lightning in the other, a blindfold over his eyes, and heavenly assistants noting that it's "probably better if he doesn't know". While this seems to be just more cloudcuckoolander behavior from Lawful Good Durkon's god, the assistant is correct. If Thor hadn't been playing drunk darts with lightning bolts, either Miko would have manhandled them all in the beginning and may never have given the party a chance to prove that they are good (cf. when the party stands up to her after the inn's demise), or with Durkon adding his clericly might to the equation, they may actually have been able to beat her, in which case they may not have been able to find out about the Snarl. Even if they'd gone to Azure City anyway, the only reason they were allowed to learn about it in the first place was because they were under trial for destroying the Gate. Having fried their top paladin wouldn't have done them any favors either.
  • Out of all of the Order, Belkar is the only one that can tell that Vampire Durkon is not the real Durkon. He points out that no one changes as fast and easy as Vampire Durkon did, because he has undergone such a change and knows that it is slow and difficult. He also points out that the fact that Vampire Durkon had a spell prepared to deal with the storm, which is meant to be a joke about Durkon never actually having anything prepared. But there is something else that could have been mentioned: if Durkon were still himself, he would have simply prayed to Thor to get him to stop the storm. That he instead uses a spell would have pointed to something being wrong - but none of the Order consider this, since they are too content with Durkon being (somewhat) alive.
  • Upon his introduction, Wrecan mentions he has teenage daughters. This makes him the perfect bodyguard to Veldrina, who acts like a stereotypical teenage human girl at times.
  • Wrecan explains the Elven gods are melded with the Western pantheon for some reason. It's possible that it is to have a decisive vote and before the priest of Hel showed up it was an odd number of votes (with not every god being represented), the gods probably try to avoid ties for the reason why Hel planned to make the number even.
    • This actually works more as foreshadowing than Fridge. As Thor explains to Durkon and Minrah while they're dead, no mortal has risen to divinity without sponsorship except The Dark One. Since his ascension gives him a new color quiddity, it's implied that other ascended mortals gain the color quiddity of their sponsors. As such, the Elven Gods are probably considered part of the same pantheon as Marduk's Clan, perhaps in a similar capacity as the demi Gods of the Northern Pantheon.
  • When Roy overcomes Vampire Durkon's attempt to mind-whammy him out of fighting by reminding Roy that he prefers to solve problems by talking instead of fighting, Roy declares his own success by saying, "I...can...multitask!" Of course he can: Talking Is a Free Action.
  • The High Priest of Hel wasn't able to understand the connection between two of Durkon's memories, showing that the Undead are Static Characters. But that also explains why they are reflections of the deepest and darkest parts of the host's personality - if it weren't for the ability to grow, a person would really be nothing more than what they were on their worst day, as The High Priest of Hel claims.
    • You know who else this refers to? Redcloak. As stated in Start Of Darkness, Redcloak's Crimson Mantle makes him immune to aging and disease...just like an undead. Right-Eye claims that this makes Redcloak frozen in time, and he's still the same angry kid who took his cloak off of his master's corpse. When did Redcloak get the Crimson Mantle? When the Sapphire Guard Paladins wiped out his village, AKA, the worst day of his life.
  • When Blackwing is looking for something to use to fight off the vampire stealing their shiny orb, all that's available is a scroll of Locate Creature, which is completely useless for their purposes (luckily Blackwing can exploit that by making a deliberate misfire). But why did V have a scroll of Locate Creature in the first place (since it's a spell that's not useful in many situations)? Because V spent a LOT of time researching divination spells looking for Haley, Belkar, and Roy. It's no surprise there are spare divination scrolls left over.
  • If you take a look back at the scene with fragments of Haley's mind arguing, each of them is right, and each of them is also wrong:
    • Self-loathing is the Only Sane Man, realizing that something is definitely wrong with Elan (he's been replaced by Nale), but doesn't actually figure out what is wrong despite knowing Elan has an Evil Twin. Also, she advises skipping the date, which sounds like a reasonable course of action but would have delayed Haley's recovery.
    • Vanity is Comically Missing the Point and focusing on preparing for the date, which is a stupid but ultimately helpful move.
    • It's rightly pointed out that Self-Loathing doesn't want Haley to be happy (because that's what "self-loathing" MEANS, and true happiness would presumably lead to Critical Existence Failure for that particular part of Haley's psyche), but that doesn't invalidate her point about the suspiciousness of the situation.
    • The one that's probably Haley's Inner Child is correct that the Pod Person idea is insane and correct about Elan's increased confidence, but dismisses valid concerns and ignores the existence of a known Evil Twin.
    • Haley's Latent Bisexuality is correct that the dress looks hot, but that's not important now.
    • Haley's Mistrust doesn't trust Self-Loathing because she doesn't trust ANYONE. So she's probably equally suspicious of Elan/Nale but doesn't express it because she doesn't even trust other parts of her own mind (which shows how badly paranoia can screw up your life and foreshadows Haley's father a bit).
    • Haley's Intellect is correct that Elan seems smarter, and comes up with an explanation for it that's incorrect but reasonable given the setting. And it turns out that the real Elan has become, if not necessarily more intelligent, more competent and skilled in his absence.
    • Haley (or rather, Haley's sense of self/Ego) eventually tells her Self-Loathing to shut up and goes ahead with the date, knowing there's a risk but thinking it's her only chance to be truly happy with Elan. This leads to her almost being killed by Nale, but also allows her to be honest about her true feelings, regain her confidence, and gets their relationship started off right when the real Elan comes back.
  • Serini's Gate/Kraagor's Tomb/Monster Hallow is so effective because it incorporates elements of all the others' propositions on how to defend the gates. It's pretty fitting that the team's Heart would be the one to pull All Your Powers Combined on her defenses.
    • Girard/Illusion and Misdirection: There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of doors in Kraagor's tomb, meaning that if any of them actually house the gate, all the rest of them are diversions. Especially tricky if none of them hide the gate, because the only way anybody would know would be if each and every door was meticulously searched (and if they survived that, we're looking at a Physical God, so they'd be more than capable of screwing over/destroying the world without the aid of the gates anyway).
    • Kim Soon/Honor: Serini's gate doubles as a memorial for Kraagor, and as such, she's honoring the dead.
    • Dorukan/Arcane Power: Redcloak makes mention of the tomb being built in such a manner as to prevent someone like Xykon from performing a Dungeon Bypass on it, which requires some degree of arcane knowledge. Additionally, the tomb more than likely contains monsters with spells and spell-like abilities, and all those monsters have to come from somewhere, so if they're not repopulating naturally, magic's undoubtedly involved.
    • Lyrian/Nature: Again, the monsters have to come from somewhere, and it's possible Serini's stock is replaced simply by allowing them to breed. If not that, there's the location of the tomb to consider, which is pretty well-protected as a result of general winter.
    • Kraagor/Might: About as obvious as it gets, really. Kick in the door (any door), kill the monsters, get the loot.
  • The fact that dwarves are afraid of trees actually offers a pretty good explanation for why so many dwarves carry axes and hate elves.
  • When the IFCC first comes to Vaarsuvius, one of them spouts their proposed slogan, "Blood War Huh, Who Is It Good For?" and another answers, "Good gods, y'all!" It's not just continuing the reference to the song — it's the literal answer to the question. Who does benefit from a war between the demonic factions? The good gods, who no doubt relish the idea of their enemies beating the snot out of each other instead of using that energy to go after the mortal domains.
  • Equal parts Fridge Brilliance and Fridge Comedy: The Order leads the charge on a vampire lair deep in dwarven territory by summoning animals. These animals include a bewildering choice: multicolor giraffes. Yes, they're "cheap to summon and have a ton of hit points," but they're also predominantly neck, which is funny considering their opponents...and brilliant once you realize that giraffes use their necks as bludgeoning weapons against each other. Those necks are tough as tree branches, and anyone thinking to target them will just end up getting the stuffing beaten out of them.
    • Also, why are the giraffes weird colors? They were summoned by Hilgya, a Chaotic cleric who serves a Chaotic God: they must have had the Anarchic creature template, which makes them even tougher than normal and would be more useful to fighting Lawful Evil dwarven vampires than Fiendish Giraffes (Hilgya's alternative) would have been, due to the D&D (and thus OotS's) rules for Order Versus Chaos. The bizarre and improbable color schemes are an easy way to represent their spiritual affinity for chaos.
  • The vampires' critical flaw is a Stealth Pun: they're incapable of self-analysis, and therefore, can't undergo Character Development. They have no reflection.
  • When Sigdi first explains why she can't get her arm regenerated, young Durkon runs off to go see if his Honorary Aunt will let him work for her to raise the funds. Sigdi's response, chasing after him, seems like it's a bit strong for what's happening at first...but then later, when it's revealed that Durkon's aunt (along with four other dwarves) died dishonorably in a mining accident (in the same mine, no less!) and nearly ended up trapped with Hel as a result, her reaction becomes a lot more understandable.
  • A Tearjerker fridge brilliance: Sigdi leaping in first to save a dwarf from falling off a cliff, hanging on by his hands, was an In-Universe Call-Back to her husband's death. She was probably reliving the tragedy in her head when she saved him.
  • O-Chul's backstory as the child of two bandits who was later civilized by a good family helps explain why Charisma is his Dump Stat. Charisma generally represents a combination of physical attractiveness, social grace, and force of personality. As the near-feral child of two criminals, O-Chul would have been way behind everyone else in learning social grace. Furthermore, when we see him pre-reformation in How The Paladin Got His Scar, he is covered with pox marks, which might very well leave him permanently disfigured (especially since his family was probably too poor to afford magical healing). And finally, his awareness of his status as a recipient of undeserved grace means his personality is consistently self-effacing and almost pathologically humble.
  • The revelation that the current world is merely the most recent of hundreds of millions helps explain why Hel is so furious at the other Gods and feels so cheated by the bet. For centuries after she realized how badly she'd misjudged, she probably consoled herself with the thought that at least this world would end soon, and she'd be free to go back to the old arrangement. And then when the rifts start forming...the other Gods refuse to destroy the world, and a bunch of mortals manage to seal the rifts (if only temporarily), prolonging her torment.
    • Moreover, Hel knows that if the Snarl breaks free and destroys the world, she will not get the influx of dwarven souls she is counting on, and she knows the other gods know that too. With her It's All About Me attitude, it would be easy for her to assume the other gods are cutting off their noses to spite their face, deliberately allowing the Snarl to destroy the souls of the mortals because they know it will hurt her more than it hurts them.
    • It's not clear whether or not Hel realizes how much at risk she is of dying. Her "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Loki after her plan is thwarted indicates she doesn't (she speaks of her acts in the next world in terms of "when" and not "if"), but it could also be a bit of bluster to attempt to cover up just how badly things are for her (which ends up backfiring, as she nearly fades out from the effort). If she does realize how much is at stake for her, her attempt to continue her plan despite the now very long odds makes a bit more sense—she's no longer simply chasing after a busted hand, she instead may see it as her last best chance to survive, and she might not get another. As a poker player might say, she's "pot-committed".
  • The Snarl makes perfect sense as an embodiment of strife and anger, since the Gods live in a realm where Your Mind Makes It Real.
  • In #1134, Thor wasn't (just) happy to hear Durkon say he'd give up Valhalla for the time being to fight the Snarl. He was also happy to hear Durkon mention the Snarl, allowing him to discuss it with him openly (since gods were forbidden to discuss it with anyone who didn't know anything about it).
  • #1140 offers a subtle yet brilliant detail for why the goblinoids of the current world were finally able to ascend their own deity: This world is self-aware. In previous iterations of the world, where the goblinoids suffered under Fantastic Racism, they still existed in a Standard Fantasy Setting and weren't aware of the fourth wall and so weren't able to fully recognize just how unfair they were being treated. However, in the current iteration of reality, because the fourth wall is intentionally opaque, the Dark One was able to realize that his people are all glorified XP fodder and fully recognize just how awful their current treatment is; and since the goblinoids themselves (most poignantly Redcloak) seem to be aware of this to a degree, that made sure that the goblinoids' worship would be for their own singular deity instead of another pre-existing pantheon.
  • During the first battle against the Linear Guild way back in Durokan's dungeon, Belkar briefly gets a major Wisdom boost courtesy of V's magic, to allow him to cast healing spells on Elan, and essentially has his regular personality reversed, becoming an All-Loving Hero. While this just seems like a one-shot gag, all these years later we've seen signs that maybe it wasn't nonsense after all. His ideal life under the lotus-eater illusion in Girard's pyramid shows him living a peaceful life as Shojo's cook, and his "faking" character development following the advice the imaginary (?) Shojo gave him during his coma is becoming increasingly honest. It's possible that Belkar's rage and bitterness against the world, coupled with his lack of Wisdom blinding him from introspection, kept him from realizing what he really wanted.
  • The three Soul Splices that the fiends used to boost V beautifully and subtly foreshadow the reveal of the Snarl Cycle in comic #1141. They're three Epic-level souls consigned to the three lower planes of existence, but it's repeatedly stated that there have been at most a handful of epic-level characters in the OOTS world. Redcloak is possibly the highest level cleric in the setting, and he's only just reached 9th level spells. So where did these three incredibly Evil souls come from that were so perfectly tailored to V's needs as a caster? The answer is simple: Past worlds in the cycle. Given that many worlds, there would have been plenty of epic-level casters to choose from, even if each world only spawns a relative handful. (This also means that Xykon might have been doing them a disservice in #652 when when he characterized them as "chumps who didn't have the balls to stay in the game!" They might have died regularly and been consigned to the "Big Fire Below"—or they might have died when the gods unmade their worlds and, as Thor put it, "cashed out their souls".)
  • Why does Roy hesitate so much when Vampire Durkon uses Hilgya's baby as a human shield? Sure, part of it is probably just the normal human instinct to not hurt an innocent child, which would be very hard to fight no matter the situation. But he knows full well that literally the entire world and every life in it is at stake, and that he should stop at nothing to defeat Durkon. He even acknowledges as much two pages later, pointing out that if he has to kill his Dominated teammates, he can always get them raised later. Furthermore, he might not even need to fight them in the first place if he took the chances he had to throw his sword at Durkon, "Innocent Baby Shield" be damned. Besides, if he loses this battle, Kudzu will die anyway, and his soul will suffer in Hel forever, whereas if he dies by Roy's hand, he might have a shot at Valhalla. So no matter how you look at it, Roy should be focusing all his energy on killing Durkon, and he's smart enough to know that. So why risk this battle for Kudzu's life, when he won't risk it for his teammates' lives? Well, for one thing, Roy knows from painful, guilt-ridden experience that unlike his teammates, an infant won't necessarily know enough to respond to resurrection magic. And for another, reminding him of his brother's death is a surefire way to short-circuit his thought processes. Of all the people in that room, Roy is probably the least equipped to confront any situation that requires him to kill a child.
  • The Dwarven council being willing to table a proposal to investigate half the council being dominated by a vampire seems like a textbook case of Lawful Stupid, but remember, the blue barrier around the conference chamber instantly petrifies anyone who breaks Dwarven law. More than likely, they need a majority vote to table the council (which they don't have) and they can't dismiss the domination magic while inside the blue barrier. While some were being stupid and allowed themselves to strangled by the red tape, there's no guarantee that there was anything they could've done to prevent the vote.
    • On top of that, it quickly becomes clear why they aren't that concerned. As stated by the High Priest of Thor, they aren't the current Dwarven Parliament. While they have theoretical power and certainly a lot of wealth and prestige, they don't really do anything. One member outright admitted that their job as council members is pointless. As soon as they realize that all the dominated Dwarven clan leaders are voting "yes" to the proposal, they start to catch on. As pointed out by one of the members, if the answer was 'yes', they wouldn't need to be dominated to make it. Since the question was "should the gods destroy the world", an idea that they had initially and immediately dismissed as a thought experiment, they start to panic. Hard. They never expected to be voting on anything important. Especially nothing this serious.
      Clan Leader: What have we done?
      • To further prove that they aren't idiots, they immediately and happily dismiss the council when their table is destroyed. One of the members then weaponizes their red tape by saying that he will call for a censure on the dwarves killing the vampires after the council can be reconvened (meaning he won't stop the killings and doesn't want anyone else to stop them either).
  • A minor note: Mr. Scruffy activating Belkar's Protection From Evil amulet made it possible for him to not worry about his incredibly low Will saves against domination.
  • The members of the Order who share alignments get along the best. The Lawful Good Roy and Durkon are best friends, and the Chaotic Good Elan and Haley are in love. V and Belkar don't share an alignment, and they get along poorly.
  • Everyone believing Dvalin would respect the outcome of the Dwarven Council vote in spite of blatant vote-rigging is actually a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. When he was a mortal, there was probably a provision to make exceptions for tampered votes, but most would not be aware of that, and so, think he would go with whatever the Council voted for, no matter how blatant the vote-rigging. Due to how belief can limit how a god would act, this forces Dvalin to accept a tainted vote.
  • There's a reason Sunny gets angry when Elan tries to use the "magic word" — that being "Please", of course — because they're predisposed to being polite — not to mention Elan has an 18 Charisma, meaning Sunny passed a very difficult Will Save.
  • Lien had lifted herself up on the wall, which allowed her to give her arms enough slack to search her cloak for her Poké Ball. If she really wanted to squeeze out of her manacles, she would have tried to create more tension in the manacles and would not have lifted herself like that.
    • Additionally, this is the first appearance of the Poké gag in the new art style which shows that Razor's ball is light blue. This makes sense if it was a Dive Ball due to Lein being an Aquatic Paladin (assuming it was not a coloring error).

Fridge Horror

  • In The Order of the Stick, blowing up Dorukan's dungeon was done so the party wouldn't loot and XP farm the population of said dungeon, with Elan doing it out of dramatic necessity. Well, that's fine and all, until you remember 3 things: 1. There were those rebellious goblin teens inside that dungeon. 2. Redcloak declared them all dead, and 3. If you've read Start Of Darkness, you'd know that Xykon gang-pressed a lot of innocent goblins to work for him.
  • The arc with the mother black dragon seeking vengeance on Vaarsuvius was inspired by a moment of Fridge Horror that creator Rich Burlew had when he noticed that of all of the races in D&D, dragons are the only ones with character stats for every stage of their lives, including childhood, and therefore the only race whose children the game effectively condoned killing.
  • Related to the above entry; Vaarsuvius later discovers that one of the Black Dragons killed by the Familicide spell they cast was an ancestor of the entire Draketooth family, and thus the entire family was wiped out by the spell. That's not the Fridge Horror. Vaarsuvius then realizes that several other families were also wiped out by the spell due to being related to the Draketooths (because of the Draketooth family's practice of seducing strangers and absconding with the resulting offspring). That's not the Fridge Horror. But who says the Black Dragon that sired the Draketooth bloodline was the only dragon in his family to mate outside his species? Vaarsuvius is already aware that their actions caused the deaths of a lot of innocents, but the death toll may be a lot higher than they realized.
    • Vaarsuvius notes that if Penelope had born Tarquin a child, Familicide would have killed the child as well. If this had happened, then Vaarsuvius would have killed their friend's half-sibling, who would only have been a very small child at the time. There's no telling how Elan would have reacted to something like that. Furthermore, while Tarquin isn't all that bothered by the loss of a wife, the loss of a new child (and heir) probably would have affected him very badly (especially since Nale rebelled and he's not seen Elan in twenty-odd years). The entire arc would have taken a much darker tone.
  • The reanimated mother dragon('s head) implies that she was reunited with her mate and son in an (implicitly) peaceful/comfortable afterlife of some sort. If there's an afterlife specifically for black dragons, and it should happen to be applicable to relatives of said dragons, then it's about to get pretty crowded with a lot of very confused people, even if it's just for direct blood relatives. They may not be too happy with how they got there either, though it's hard to say she doesn't deserve whatever harassment she gets to some degree.
  • This comic. Sure, the news anchor getting killed and replaced by a member of the death squad is a pretty funny piece of Black Comedy. But remember a few panels earlier, when they show the "Sanguine Street" characters, she mentions "her three-year-old". Yeah...
  • Before they formed the Order of the Stick, Roy and Durkon were in another party and the other members were all complete dicks, and if it weren't for Roy, they would've killed a bunch of innocent orcs who just wanted to watch a concert. The last we see of this party is when Roy tells them to go screw themselves before leaving. They could still be somewhere out there, killing harmless non-humanoids just because it's easier than talking to them. Furthermore, note that this is Dungeons & Dragons. There are many adventuring groups exactly like that.
    • It's also a Take That!, along with Miko, at Dungeons and Dragons having an alignment system that basically says it doesn't matter what the creature is doing — there's no moral penalty for killing someone with the opposite alignment.
  • Tarquin is just a seething cauldron of this as his true nature becomes more and more explicit. Perhaps most chilling is the realization that Elan could have turned out exactly the same way as his father. Tarquin is an Elan who never learned to stop seeing the story and start seeing the people in the story.
  • Remember how Durkon is trapped within his own body that's being controlled by something, while Malack states that being resurrected would mean the death of his current self. What if the original Malack was in the same situation and in his case, for decades. The Giant basically confirmed that vampires work in this exact way, so this is exactly right. Oh, Gods.
  • Jones, the lawyer, keeps Rodriguez around so that Rodriguez can absorb all of his losses. This essentially means that Jones is ensuring that Rodriguez will never be able to work for anyone else again in the field of law just so that he always has a scapegoat for his own incompetence. The giant may be wrong about Jones being Lawful Neutral because that makes him come across as Lawful Evil. Conversely, it's possible Rodriguez's record wasn't that good to begin with, which makes the fact that he can work as a lawyer at all kinda dubious, but would imply a slightly less heartless story behind them. Slightly.
  • Tarquin claims that he is Above Good and Evil, simply interested in following the narrative. But if that were true, then he could have just as easily chosen to be the protagonist of a story about the hero who overthrew the feuding warlords, brought peace to the war-torn continent, established a stable and prosperous civilization, lived to a ripe old age, died with the love and respect of those whose lives he bettered, and passed on to his eternal reward. That is just as valid a narrative as the one he chose to invoke, and would put him in an even better position. Tarquin is a villain because he chose to be, and for no other reason.
  • Thor being drunk when he made his deal with Hel takes on a sadder bent when one realizes this was directly after the world was destroyed by the Snarl, again. Can anyone blame the guy for needing a drink after watching the world get destroyed millions of times?
  • The comic's version of Odin is shown to be a Cloudcuckoolander because the previous world's Northerners believed magic was for simpletons, with Odin being the northern god of magic. Just before the encounter with Odin that established this, Thor mentioned that the release of a superhero comic book turned him from a ginger to a blonde. It could be one of the comic's usual fourth-wall jokes, but also a hint that one of the destroyed worlds was ours, though it's more likely the characters all have Medium Awareness and know we are reading their stories, so we're basically outside their reality.
  • Remember when Durkon became the king of the Wooden Forest Bandits, and his first act (excepting the giant tankard of beer and setting things right for the Order, of course) was to dissolve the bandit gang? He said to a bandit youth, "Go home to your family, they'll be missing ye, I reckon." Hundreds and hundreds of strips later, we learned that Durkon was forcibly ejected from his beloved homelands, and Never Got to Say Goodbye to his mother or anyone else he loved. He won't go home until he receives word, but he can do his part to reunite other broken families.
    • Some of the sting is taken out when it's revealed that even though Durkon was thrown out of his homeland unceremoniously, he was at least able to keep in touch with his mother via many Sending spells.