The third "prequel" book in the Order of the Stick continuity (actually including stories from 12 years before the main comic up to contemporaneous with Blood Runs in the Family). The book compiles two stories previously released only to Kickstarter backers, along with three all-new stories. The title plays on the saying "No good deed goes unpunished."
Each story focuses on a character from Azure City, most of whom were introduced in War And XPs.
The compiled stories are:
- That's the Spirit: Kazumi and Daigo find a lost soul in need of their help on their new island home.
- Scruff and Tumble: Surviving alone behind enemy lines, Mr. Scruffy searches for food.
- Spoiler Alert: Therkla is tasked to retrieve a priceless artifact, but she's not even supposed to be here today.
- Pier Pressure: Young Lien comes face to face with a sinister choice.
- How the Paladin Got His Scar: Before he joined the Sapphire Guard, Captain O-Chul led a ragtag team to stop a bloody war of retribution.
Good Deeds Gone Unpunished provides examples of:
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That's the Spirit
- And I Must Scream: When they test out Melisander possessing people to do chores on Daigo, Daigo admits, that among other flaws, he was fully aware of everything without any ability to influence anything.
- "Eureka!" Moment: While talking about their situation with Melisander in bed at night, the Katos hear someone up and realize that Melisander's Touch of Sleep could help the many Shellshocked Veterans in the colony.
- Mundane Utility: The entire story is Kazumi and Daigo trying to figure how Melisander can use her ghost powers to help people.
- Never Learned to Read: Melisander's illiteracy became an impediment in utilizing Ouija Board to serve as a medium.
- Nouveau Riche: Due to Kato's nobility being granted recently, many Azurite nobles show disdain towards them. Even up to not eating Kazumi's lemon squares.
- Shout-Out: Melisander has a Melisandre motif, complete with colored candle albeit being green and benign.
- Van Helsing Hate Crime: Kazumi and Daigo worry that if Hinjo sees Melisander, he'll go "SMITE EVIL!" on principle. When he does meet Melisander, he assures them that since she's not hurting anyone or seems, y'know, evil, he'll do no such thing.
- Zany Scheme: The plan to help Melisander find her role in the colony is explicitly referred to as "Zany scheme creative."
Scruff and Tumble
- Androcles' Lion: Mr. Scruffy frees a carbuncle leashed by Redcloak, and the two become friends for a while.
- Book Ends: The story starts and ends with Mr. Scruffy resting on a crate in a storeroom.
- Good-Times Montage/Flashback Nightmare: The story starts with Mr. Scruffy dreaming, mostly happy memories of kittenhood and life with Lord Shojo, but concluding with the memory of Miko murdering Shojo, which startles him awake.
- Home Sweet Home: The carbuncle finds its mate and children. Mr. Scruffy, realizing that this means the end of their adventures together, walks away.
- Meaningful Background Event: In the final panel, Belkar Bitterleaf can be seen tossing pineapples at wights.
- Misplaced Retribution: After Mr. Scruffy frees the carbuncle, we see Redcloak angrily confronting the Monster in the Darkness, who understandably looks confused.
- Silence Is Golden: There's no dialogue or sound effects at all.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Sangwaan tells Therkla that she when she dies, she hopes to never see it coming. The story ends with Sangwaan being killed by Xykon's invisible zombie dragon, and Sangwaan's last moments are laughing at the irony.
- Call-Forward: Kubota tells Therkla to give him a list of the poisons she's immune to...presumably, so he knows which one he'll need to use if she betrays him, which happens in Don't Split The Party.
- Chain of Deals: Therkla goes through one of these to avoid killing someone.
- MacGuffin: Parodied and Played for Laughs - Therkla is sent to steal a fan which "belonged to the sorcerer Mik-Guh". After delivering it, she's told that the mission was just an excuse to test her skills and that the "Mik-Guh Fan" had no intrinsic value.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Therkla spends her chapter avoiding any spoilers for the book she's reading...only for someone to blab it at the very end.
- Cutting the Knot: A witch offers Lien a ring that can let her breath underwater if she answers These Questions Three... — fail, and she gets polymorphed into a skitterling. Lien just beats the living daylights out of the witch, turns her in, and a paladin gives her the ring as a reward.
- He Is Not My Boyfriend: Daesuk himself and then the witch refer to Daesuk as Lien's boyfriend. She tells them otherwise.
- Make-Out Point: Lien invites Daesuk to meet her at the dock after school. She just wants to watch the sunset over the ocean with him; he's hoping for some nookie. She ends up breaking up with him because they don't really have much in common and she's annoyed with him being "super pressure-y".
- Terror at Make-Out Point: The witch targeted teenagers who hang out at the pier, luring them into her cave and turning them into skitterling slaves.
How the Paladin Got His Scar
- …And That Little Girl Was Me: Played with. Saha sees the trope coming, but assumes O-Chul is the determined and good-hearted army sergeant in the story, rather than the sickly young bandit that man adopted. She's shocked when O-Chul says he's the latter and that O-Chul of all people used to be a bandit but that was the point of the story. If a former bandit child can become a righteous man because of the kindness he was shown, than other bad folk can change too.
- Answer Cut: When talking about the Bearer of the Crimson Mantle's location, Gin-Jun insists he's with the hobgoblins, as where else could he be? The next panel shows exactly where Redcloak is at the time; playing cards on Lair Island.
- Bait-and-Switch: Towards the end, after Zhou Bo Takes A Sword for O-Chul, he visits a graveyard, stops at a headstone, and starts taking to her, as if she died and he’s visiting her grave. It’s then revealed she’s fine and is actually digging the grave.
- Beneath Suspicion: One of the hobgoblins uses Glad You Thought of It and Obfuscating Disability to seem like a Professional Butt-Kisser. Until he doesn't.
Hobgoblin: Somehow I've always felt I was destined to wear these.
- The new Supreme Leader mentions that he has plans to greatly expand the hobgoblin presence in the Southern Mountains. It's not clear whether he's the same Supreme Leader who Redcloak meets in No Cure For The Paladin Blues, but by that time there are 88 legions of them. Furthermore, when he takes power, captions helpfully point out the Headdress of Supreme Leadership, Scepter of Supreme Leadership, and Shiny Gold Amulet of Supreme Leadership.
- When he finds out that Hinjo was listening in on his conversation with O-Chul, Shojo grumbles that he should install a door in the archway to his throne room. He won't, to disastrous consequences.
- After O-Chul explains that one should stand for their principles even when doing so is unpopular, Miko concludes, "If someone betrays the city, it's our job to stop them using whatever means we have at our disposal". She leaves before O-Chul can fully talk about laws, which will have really disastrous consequences in the future.
- A small one, but O-Chul's background as a bandit child explains why he was able to pick Xykon's pocket later on.
- The Captain: O-Chul, although his unit is destroyed at the start of the story.
- Chessmaster Sidekick: The smarter & more manipulative of the Supreme Leader's two dragons has his boss and opposite number wrapped around his finger. He seems to be The Creon who as a Non-Action Guy isn't suited to the hobbos' usual Asskicking Leads to Leadership society, but turns out to be The Starscream who was just biding his time.
- Combat by Champion: Invoked by O-Chul to avoid a war. During the duel itself, he Turns the Other Cheek in order to force Gin-Jun to either hear him out or break his paladin oaths by attacking an unarmed man.
- Continuity Nod: While talking over the events of the story with Shojo, General Nhek points out they don’t need to spotlight, since O-Chul’s not on trial. We’d already seen the throne room’s spotlights during the trail in the main story.
- Disney Death: Complete with a fake-out Grave-Marking Scene — Zhou's got a new job as a gravedigger.
- Ensign Newbie: Hinjo fills the role of the naive aristocrat on the front lines, but he has no official authority over O-Chul.
- Every Scar Has a Story: And this is it.
- Exact Words: Zhou said she was tired of digging her friend's graves. She has no problem with being a gravedigger for complete strangers.
- Foreshadowing: The fight with the ettin foreshadows that the solution to the conflict between the hobgoblins and humans will ultimately be to "cut off the violent head" and leave more peaceful ones in charge. Unlike with the ettin, this seems to actually work.
- For Want of a Nail: While ranting on how the previous generation of the Sapphire Guard killed the previous Bearer of the Crimson Mantle, Gin-Jun remarks that the paladins at the time purposely chose not to be 'vain' and take the Mantle as a trophy. At the time, they had no idea that the Crimson Mantle was an Artifact of Doom and their decision to leave it allowed the Goblin later called Redcloak to claim it and become the new Bearer.Gin-Jun: A bit more vanity might have saved the world!
- Glad You Thought of It: The hobgoblin cleric's favourite tactic to get his dimmer superiors to go through with his ideas.
- Go Through Me:O-Chul: A lot of people are going to get hurt tomorrow. All we can do is stand in the way of that and say, "Not them. Me. If you need to hurt someone, hurt me."
- Grave-Marking Scene: O-Chul visits a graveyard after Zhou's apparent death and starts talking to one of the graves. She's standing inside the hole, having become a gravedigger after her discharge from the army.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: When Shojo begins to tell O-Chul and Hinjo about the Lore of the Sapphire Guard, we cut to them at a bar, looking a bit freaked out.O-Chul: (Pours a shot) Here.
Hinjo: I'm too-
O-Chul: The day you learn you will be responsible for containing a god-eating horror that lives under our feet is the day you come of age. Drink.
- Internal Reformist: O-Chul ultimately requests to become one of these for the Sapphire Guard, after Shojo refuses to disband them.
- Just Following Orders: The majority of the Sapphire Guard pretty much get a pass for obeying Gin-Jun even when he was giving grossly immoral orders and, as we eventually find out, their code of conduct allows for a principled Anti-Mutiny. Somewhat justified by the fact that their leader was misrepresenting the intelligence they were operating under.
- Keep the Reward: Saha Kapoor joined the mission so her family can immigrate to Azure City. But after her encounter with the Sapphire Guard, she decides she doesn't want her kids to grow up in Azure City if it means they'll near such people.Saha: Sometimes, when you get up close, a "shining beacon" turns out to have been a garbage fire all along.
- Klingon Promotion: The hobgoblin cleric kills his boss, main rival and all the other hobgoblins in the throne room in order to take his place as the new Supreme Leader.
- Knight Templar:
- Gin-Jun, if not an outright Blood Knight.
- Averted with Miko, who is not yet the fanatic she will become one day, even asking Gin-Jun how to separate the good hobgoblins from the evil ones. At the end of the story, O-Chul inadvertedly starts her down the path that will lead her to her fall and death.
- A Lighter Shade of Grey: The new hobgoblin Supreme Leader is a Manipulative Bastard and a poisoner... but he's not openly warlike. This is good enough for O-Chul, at least.
- Loophole Abuse:
- Gin-Jun's dismissal from the Sapphire Guard. He may have been challenged to an honour duel, but he still attacked an unarmed man, and the paladin code makes no exceptions for dueling.
- This is set up by the Rules Lawyering employed to set the duel up in the first place: O-Chul can't challenge Gin-Jun himself because the higher-caste combatant could simply appoint a champion. So he gets Hinjo to make the challenge, and appoint him.
- Lovable Coward: Zhou is let off numerous times for her cowardice — even to the point of deserting her unit in battle — because O-Chul believes she can be taught to be better. She eventually takes a wound defending him that conveniently enough gets her honorably discharged from the army.
- Martial Pacifist: O-Chul's usual style, though he turns into a downright Suicidal Pacifist when he concocts a Xanatos Gambit to lose Gin-Jun the support of the other paladins.
- Mirror Character: O-Chul's argument during the duel is that Gin-Jun and the Hobgoblin General are really the same; both want a war with the other side so badly that they don't care if their own people will be badly affected by it.
- Multiple Head Case: Played with. The ettin's two heads do seem to have very different personalities, with the right one denying all responsibility for the aggression of the left... but it also makes no attempt to warn anyone about the violent head, no attempt to restrain it with the right arm it controls, and as O-Chul points out, it's willingly running in the direction the left head wants to go. The whole thing seems to be a rather anvilicious satire of people who deny culpability for ideological allies who engage in violent or abusive tactics, while doing nothing to actually challenge those allies' behaviour.
- No Name Given: A number of major characters, most notably the hobgoblin Supreme Leader and his Co-Dragons, a general and a cleric.
- Obfuscating Disability: The hobgoblin cleric doesn't really have a hunch, he just wanted to look non-threatening so he wouldn't be challenged to combat.
- One-Man Army: O-Chul eventually routs a hobgoblin attack single-handed after the rest of his unit dies in a Last Stand. This only makes him more determined to prevent further violence.
- The Paragon: O-Chul inspires two level-headed lieutenants to depose their warlike superiors, the paladins (and Lord Shojo) to take the oaths of the Sapphire Guard seriously, teaches Hinjo about leadership and inspires him to join the paladins, and shows several hobgoblins that humans aren't all bad. Unfortunately he also inadvertently starts Miko down the path to becoming a Knight Templar.
- Poor Communication Kills: Since the Sapphire Guard's true purpose must be kept a secret, O-Chul is unable to explain to Saha why he has stopped trying to get them disbanded and instead joined the Guard. She decides he must simply be a sell-out.
- Reconcile the Bitter Foes: O-Chul's goal is to stop a war between humans and hobgoblins, although this is mostly being stirred up by the Sapphire Guard's extrajudicial raiding.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Discussed. Zhou Bo points out that their getting killed trying to fight the Sapphire Guard head-on won't solve anything; "It's a big dumb heroic gesture that accomplishes nothing but making you feel better about the fact that you can't fix things." O-Chul believes his risking his life was worth the stake, but he does thank Zhou Bo for helping put things in perspective when he figures out a new plan.
- So Proud of You: Rather than being upset that Hinjo snuck out to join O-Chul's mission, Shojo is proud that Hinjo pulled it off. Of course, Given that Shojo had to put on a charade of madness in order to avoid being assassinated years later, it's no wonder that he would endorse lying and subterfuge to get things done.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: The poisoned gouda that the new Supreme Leader uses to poison the old one and his Dragon.
- Turn the Other Cheek: O-Chul refuses to draw his sword against Gin-Jun, eventually throwing it out of the ring to make his point.
- Useless Spleen: Subverted. Zhou loses hers, but rather than Amusing Injuries it gets her discharged from the army, and she mentions having to take medicine for the rest of her life.
- Villains Do The Dirty Work: While Gin-Jun is peacefully removed from power, he won't take a hint and keeps fighting, letting the heretofore-antagonistic Miko be the one to kill him. The hobgoblin leader, however, is straight-up assassinated by one of his own to end the conflict.
- Would Hurt a Child: Gin-Jun comes up with some truly impressive rationalisations for how the killing of hobgoblin women and children can be acceptable within the paladin oaths.
- Would Not Hurt A Child: The planetar outright refuses Gin-Jun's more openly genocidal requests, but still agrees to assist him in carrying them out.
- Xanatos Gambit: O-Chul's plan is to attempt to talk sense into Gin-Jun and the paladins while unarmed in a duel of honour — either he succeeds, or Gin-Jun kills him and falls. Luckily there's a slim third option — that he's attacked and only maimed, for which Gin-Jun can be booted from the Sapphire Guard.
- You Shall Not Pass!: The very first scene. Later O-Chul repeats this against the paladins.