The Order of the Stick prepares for their new quest to stop Xykon from harnessing the Snarl, dealing with obnoxious oracles and Nale's vengeance plot. But then Xykon attacks Azure City with his army of hobgoblins!
Tropes in War and XPs include:
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Haley breaks her aphasia in order to confess her feelings to Elan, just as Nale is about to Charm him into turning against her.
- Body Double: Redcloak does this for Xykon, creating three undead as decoys, which he notes is surprisingly easy since Xykon is basically a skeleton with a robe and cape on.
- Did Not Think This Through:
- Since they need all the help they can get, Hinjo offers the city's prisoners to cut their sentences down if they fight Xykon's invasion. This proves to be a bad move, as only Belkar has sufficient motivation to help Hinjo (As the Paladin is the only one who can get his Mark of Justice Restraining Bolt removed). One Rogue takes a contract to kill Hinjo from a political enemy, while mystic theurge Tsukiko swaps sides the first chance she gets.
- Roy dramatically leaps onto Xykon's dragon zombie to solo the lich. Not only is this a totally inappropriate level encounter, but as Xykon points out, while the sorcerer can fly of his own magic, Roy can't...which means it's a looong way down when Xykon destroys the dragon.
- Hypocrite: Redcloak. He is more than willing to condemn paladins as being as unnatural as Xykon is. Here's the thing: Redcloak himself is a divine servant and he's wearing a magical artifact which gives him an extended life-span and suspended aging. What's more, as Miko is not afraid to die herself, he's not afraid to throw away others' lives to get what he wants. At least this part he gets over within the book.Redcloak: Now, if you'll excuse me, this 100% all-natural goblin has an army to lead.
- I Have Your Wife: Nale lures the Order into an ambush by holding Roy's sister Julia hostage.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: After Soon's Gate is destroyed, Haley makes the call that it's time to bail; Roy's dead, along with most of the Sapphire Guard, and Xykon's forces have basically taken the city. There's literally nothing else the Order can do to change things, so it's time to pull out and review their options.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: When Roy goes to check in with Shojo, he doesn't realize that Nale has taken Elan's place, and Nale takes the opportunity to ask for a recap of the whole plot with the gates. Now there are two sets of villains who know about the Snarl!
- "Ray of Hope" Ending: Roy's dead, the party is split (Durkon, Elan and Vaarsuvius with the Azurites, Haley, Belkar and Roy's body stuck in Azure City), and the hobgoblins have conquered Azure City. But Xykon didn't actually get the gate, which was what he wanted to have by coming to Azure City in the first place. There are still two chances left for the Order to rally and defeat him. The Order also has Roy's body, which will allow them to have him resurrected.
- Redemption Equals Death: Subverted. Miko hopes that destroying Soon's Gate before Xykon can get to it will redeem her of her past mistakes, but Soon Kim's positive energy spirit explains that a single act can't redeem one if they've shown no remorse for those mistakes. He also adds that if she hadn't acted, Soon might have destroyed Xykon and Redcloak, but the explosion gave them the chance to escape.
- Rousing Speech: Elan tries to bolster the Azurites with one of these before the battle against Xykon's forces...
- Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die: ...but messes up at the end.
- Took a Level in Badass: After the Twin Switch, Elan takes a level in the Prestige Class Dashing Swordsman, which lets him use his high Charisma score instead of his low Strength score as a damage bonus, turning him from a joke in melee to a formidable swordsman — so long as he can spout a pun or catchphrase when he attacks.
- Trick-and-Follow Ploy: Xykon and Redcloak arrange for paladin Miko Miyazaki to escape from a brief captivity in order to act as their mole in Azure City via scrying. Using this trick, they are able to determine the precise location of the Gate they are trying to capture.
- Twin Switch: Nale briefly takes Elan's place, planning to kill the rest of the Order off later.