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Roleplay / The Ballad of Edgardo

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"The Ballad of Edgardo" is an account of a forum RPG posted to 4chan in 2013 by the player of the eponymous character.

In-universe, it is the epic tale of two underdogs' desperate struggle against jerkass Powers That Be that have made them Cosmic Playthings, and a Crapsack World dominated by an oppressive Evil Overlord named "Miltant Xer0"note  and his legion of dark and edgy bishie murder hobos.

Out of universe, it is a stark reminder of how one pissed-off Real Man can stir up a nest of self-aggrandizing Thespians, "Stop Having Fun" Guys, Killer GMs and one power-mad Munchkin via a good dose of Loophole Abuse that would make the likes of Old Man Henderson proud.

So what happened? Well, it all started one fine day when Anon comes across an RP forum, which at first glance seems to be every internet-lurking teenaged Otaku's dream; a sort of action/fantasy fighting setting that Anon himself describes as "animu: the game." So Anon checks in, creates his character (the titular Edgardo, a hot-blooded, bare-fisted brawler) and enters the world, ready for adventure...

Only to find out two unfortunate things. One, most of the players in this world have apparently gone for making antiheroic, "dark swordsman"-type characters that are so edgy it could make bad boys like Sasuke or Sephiroth roll their eyes, and two... Edgardo's build is utterly useless. Fists get no damage multipliers and therefore do nothing against even the lightest armor, and he couldn't even make up the difference by using elemental attacks because he had unwittingly taken a perk that locked him out of elemental attacks (he had neglected to read the fine print). He was limited to using "Raw Spirit", which ignored all defenses but did such pathetic damage that it hardly even mattered. Edgardo finds these two facts out the hard way, after he quickly runs afoul of "Miltant Xer0", a senior member of the RP whose edginess puts the others to shame, and who quickly beats poor Edgardo within an inch of his life and leaves him in the woods.

Thankfully, it is here that Edgardo meets "A Guy Called Squid", a squid-human Beast Folk who quickly befriends and fixes Edgardo up, while telling him of the sad state of affairs of the forum: Namely, Xer0 and his cronies are the top of the proverbial player food chain, ruling with an iron fist. Xer0 has friends on the admin team, you see, and he is very keen on using these connections to make the admins ban anyone who doesn't toe his line, or even just people he doesn't particularly like, such as Edgardo, who has just now made the top of Xer0's shit-list because he had the audacity to not die on demand thanks to a newbie rule allowing Edgardo to survive their encounter.

But Edgardo doesn't back down from a fight so easily. Edgardo doesn't run away from a challenge. Edgardo will see Xer0 fall to his knees, and with A Guy Called Squid at his side, the pair set off to do the impossible, come what may, and free this world from the tyranny of these so-called antiheroes.

The story can be read in its entirety here. A Dramatic Reading with added pictures can be found here. See also Old Man Henderson and That Guy Destroys Psionics, which are similar tales of game derailment.

The story contains examples of following tropes:

  • Ambiguous Ending: Technically the roleplay forum ends this way; after Edgardo delivers his Megaton Punch unto Xer0's barrier in a manner which left Xer0 with practically no chance to get out of the attack unscathed, Xer0 refuses to reply, instead going into the forums and calling for Anon's blood. Not long after, the forums descend into chaos and by the time Anon tries to log back in the next day, the whole forum has been shut down due to "popular opinion", meaning the roleplay was left unfinished without Xer0's reaction, and the exact circumstances of the "popular opinion" which shut the forum down are left unknown. Anon considers this a win, since he succeeded in burning the entire toxic userbase to the ground; he imagines the world of the roleplaying game to be forever frozen in time, at the exact moment Edgardo's fist smashes into Xer0's face.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: In an interesting non-video game example, Edgardo survives his first fight with Xer0 due to one of these, which allows newbie players a free revive so that they actually have a chance to level up instead of being immediately killed in the first fight that doesn't go their way. He only narrowly gets it, however, due to Xer0, unhappy with the fact that someone he doesn't like has the audacity to not die after being defeated by him, trying to pressure the admins into declaring Edgardo dead anyways. Ultimately, instead of getting the full revive, Edgardo is instead left in the woods outside of town with a single hitpoint left.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Haven's Spirit Well turns Edgardo into the setting's strongest character. By itself even that would have been useless, as the effect of the Spirit Well only lasts for one day after leaving Haven which wasn't enough time to take the fight to Xer0. But crucially, Edgardo had just leveled up from defeating Khaine, which gave him exactly enough skill points to afford the Teleport skill, thus giving him the ability to teleport to Xer0's location instantly and punch him in the face.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: Although most of them are described as looking very Bishōnen, the attitude of the trope makes up a large bulk of the PCs on the Forum, with only Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid attempting to be Stock Shonen Heroes like advertised, while Goldnharl plays a more Grey-and-Grey Morality character.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: The RP makes a serious case for this trope being renamed "Edgardo syndrome", given that the narrator manages to turn what is apparently an atrocious and useless build into the most unstoppable Game-Breaker in the entire setting by accident.invoked
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid's final conversation with Goldnharl at the mountaintop, where he tells them how tired he's grown of life on the forum, and agrees to join them as long as they put Xer0 down once and for all.
  • The All-Solving Hammer:
    • Because Raw Spirit cannot be resisted, and almost everyone in the community relies on overpowered forms of damage resistance in combat, Overcharged Raw Spirit Punches are the solution to everything.
    • Additionally, Squid's fire fists generally worked to bail the duo out of unfavorable situations early on. It's even lampshaded:
      > Squid just buffed his fire fists. It was a good way to go.
  • Annoying Laugh: It was bad enough for Lightning Sword Guy to laugh at everything Edgardo and Squid tried on him, but he just had to use the most weeaboo spelling possible for his laugh, too.
  • Anti-Villain: Goldnharl, one of the assassins sent after Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid, turns out to be a Noble Demon Worthy Opponent who would have preferred to RP in peace, but was blackmailed by Xer0 into helping him, and would have simply conceded victory, but was forced to revive by Xer0 and try again-the last straw, as it turns out.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Raw Spirit cannot be resisted." Usually comes right after someone tries to put up a barrier, forgetting that Raw Spirit is an Armor-Piercing Attack that can't be blocked.
    • BANZAI!
  • Armor of Invincibility: Goldnharl's magical armor has massive resistances to all elements. Since every player except Edgardo relies primarily on elemental attacks, this basically means he can shrug off anything. Except falling off a cliff.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Raw Spirit, as repeatedly stated, cannot be resisted by anything. No matter how powerful the player's armor effects or barriers are, Raw Spirit ignores them and deals direct damage. The tradeoff, of course, is that it does pitiful damage compared to everything else, to the point that elemental attacks still do more damage to resistant targets than an equal amount of Raw Spirit. However, since Edgardo has no Spirit cap, he can save up a ton of Spirit and spend it all at once for a single devastating attack, though it does take a while to save up... until he gets to Haven, and has infinite Spirit all the time, letting him do infinite damage with every attack.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Basically every other player on the Forum but Edgardo, Squid, and Goldnharl. The way Edgardo describes the other players, they were all trying way too hard to be cool, dark, and edgy. They ended up coming across as pointlessly self-serving and self-absorbed.
  • Asshole Victim: Xer0, Lightning Sword Guy, and Khaine's behavior make it hard to sympathize with them.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Goldnharl tells Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid that while Goldnharl himself hates Xer0 with a passion, he serves him anyway because the alternative is getting pounded into the dirt by someone who can get the mods to give him any powers he asks for.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Sure, a tabletop game designed to be the ultimate hotpot of anime tropes sounds awesome, but the more Edgardo explores the game's mechanics, the more he realizes how badly designed it is in practice.
    • Damage multipliers for weapons and abilities are both incredibly high and stack on top of each other, meaning unless you specifically spec into defense like Xer0 or Goldnharl, everyone is a Glass Cannon who can kill each other in two or three hits.
    • Incapacitating opponents non-lethally is apparently not an option, which combined with the above makes sparring close-to-impossible.
    • Every player starts out in the same area that Xer0 has taken control of, meaning everyone is at the mercy of him deciding whether or not you can even play the game.
    • Teleporting wherever you want sounds cool, but the high Spirit cost to do it means it's useless for combat and most players probably don't bother spending the skill points to get it. Of course, if you just happen to have infinite Spirit, you can do it as much as you please...
  • Badass Boast: Edgardo's final words to Xer0, when the latter is preening over their supposedly impenetrable forcefield.
    Miltant Xer0: This shield can withstand a thousand times the force of anything you could possibly throw at it!
    Edgardo: Then I'll just have to hit it a thousand and one times harder! BANZAI!
  • Ballad of X: This is how Edgardo's anonymous player chose to title the story.
  • Barrier Warrior: From what we see of him, this seems to be Xer0's shtick. When he's not telekinetically neck-lifting newbies to paralyze them so they have to sit and listen to his self-aggrandizing bullshit.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid. Sadly the game's mechanics render unarmed combat borderline worthless, and Edgardo's player inadvertently locks out the only way to make his build functional, turning him into The Load. Subverted, however, when it comes to his Raw Spirit power-since Raw Spirit cannot be resisted.
  • Based on a True Story: Although its sources are scoured by many despite its host forums being shut down due to the story's events, and with some doubt of its occurence, many results point out to the site, which many had exclaimed that it once had a Role Playing board before its sudden closure in 2012.
  • Bash Brothers: Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid.
  • Battle Cry: Edgardo's is "BANZAI!!" An actual Perk Edgardo picked up to spend the last of his character creation points, described as a "Spirit buff". It's "Banzai" because Edgardo couldn't think of anything better at the time.
  • Batman Gambit: Rather than risk a battle they can't win against a horde of angry and very overpowered PCs who are blatantly ignoring the traveling rules, Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid deliberately take a Ridiculously Difficult Route through the mountains to the city of Haven; betting (correctly) on the assumption that the mods no longer care about them enough to hit them with random encounters, and that the other players are too cowardly to follow them through the mountains and risk getting their precious characters killed.
  • Beast Man: The justification for A Guy Called Squid. The narrator mentions "cat-girls and wolf men," but none are actually described in the story.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: The forum was filled with characters with broken builds, especially Xer0. Edgardo simply made a build that was even more broken, albeit by accident. When Xer0 found out he had lost, he refused to move the RP forward any further and Rage Quit.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Invoked when Edgardo and Squid finally confront Xer0, as quoted above under Badass Boast.
  • Big Bad: Miltant Xer0 is the main noteworthy villain of this tale.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Edgardo, A Guy Called Squid, and Goldnharl kill Miltant Xer0, ending his dark reign. As a result, the forums are shut down, and Xer0 gets his just desserts for godmodding his way to the top. However, because Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid never exchanged contact information outside of the forum, they never see each other ever again.
  • Blessed with Suck: When Edgardo's player first started making a character, he took Overflowing Spirit, not realizing it had negligible benefits and devastating drawbacks in regular combat, but is a superpower nonetheless... but none of the roleplayers before Edgardo had made the connection between that perk and a location effect that complements it, which could turn even the weakest character into an implacable powerhouse.
  • Bolivian Army Ending:
    • A personal one for Goldnharl who, following a Heel–Face Turn, stays behind to fight waves of overpowered PCs to cover Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid's escape. We never learn his eventual fate.
    • A rare heroic one for the forum as a whole, as Xer0 angrily shuts the whole thing down rather than concede defeat as Edgardo throws a punch guaranteed to blow Xer0's face into microns. The narrator proudly reflects on the forum being frozen in time at that moment, on the image of Edgardo's fist crashing into Xer0's face for all eternity.
  • Bookends: Edgardo and Xer0 first meet when Xer0 teleports to Edgardo, gives a long self-aggrandizing speech, then one-hit kills him. Their last meeting is Edgardo teleporting to Xer0, giving a short but sweet statement about how he's going to wreck Xer0's shit, and one-hit killing him.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Edgardo's Raw Spirit in a nutshell. The damage done by an uncharged Raw Spirit attack is miniscule in comparison to most, but it cannot be resisted, by anything. Charged up, it's essentially Death of a Thousand Cuts if the enemy was hit by every single one of those cuts in a single strike.
    • In addition, the fact that unarmed combat (without using special attacks) does jack-all damage against other players allows Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid to level up by pummeling one another. Elemental and weapon damage multipliers make this impossible for the other players, and the side benefit is that Edgardo and Squid aren't spending Spirit while they spar, so they have a pretty big stockpile by the time they're done. Especially Edgardo, who has no Spirit cap.
  • Byronic Hero: The other players claim to be playing this kind of character, and fail spectacularly. Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid attempt to create Stock Shonen Heroes to provide some much needed variety.
  • Cap Raiser: The Overflowing Spirit character perk makes a character's ordinarily-restrictive cap on Spirit points — Mana that can be used for both attacks and temporary stat boosts — infinite. Most users don't take it, however, because it does so at the cost of restricting any magic attacks to only be able to use Raw Spirit, which is extremely weak. Edgardo took this perk without thinking about the weakness because the cap removal alone appealed to him.
  • Charged Attack: Edgardo's Raw Spirit Punch. While he could hold and discharge as much Spirit as he wanted, it still took time to accumulate.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Edgardo and Squid train by beating the stuffing out of each other. Downplayed in that while this is technically allowed by the rules, everyone's pitching a fit about it, so Edgardo and Squid can only gain one level this way before moving on, lest some other players come along to trounce them. Goldnharl, meanwhile, claims that he earned his overpowered-ness over the course of several years of legitimate roleplaying, compared to asshats like Xer0 who just whine at the moderators until they get what they want.
  • Chekhov's Skill: People just keep forgetting. Raw Spirit can't be resisted. By anything.
  • Cheese Strategy: Edgardo openly refers to sparring with A Guy Called Squid to get experience points as "stupid" and "cheesy".invoked
  • Chromosome Casting: There is no female presence in the story at all except for an old lady NPC who Squid and Edgardo rescue from bandits. If there were any female players or player-characters on the forum, the narrator doesn't mention them. Granted, the the entirety of named characters in the story can be counted on less than two hands, and the entirety of named characters that have a significant part in the story can be counted on one.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Until he manages to obtain infinite Spirit, Edgardo's build amounts to this.
    • First of all, he's a brawler. Punching people to death sounds badass, but fists do not have any weapon bonuses, so even the lightest, flimsiest armor can No-Sell them without issue.
    • The perk Overflowing Spirit removes the Spirit cap, allowing you to hoard as much Spirit as you want to spend on abilities. But almost everything you could possibly want to do is doable with a normal Spirit cap anyway. And it locks you out of using elemental attributes besides Raw Spirit — itself cool in that it can't be resisted, but inefficient in that it was so weak that it typically did less damage than an equivalent elemental attack even if the target resisted it. The only reason A Guy Called Squid wasn't as completely useless as Edgardo in a fight was because he didn't take Overflowing Spirit and could use fire attacks.
    • Finally, Teleportation. It certainly would be cool to be able to teleport wherever you want whenever you want, but it costs a lot of Spirit to use, so most players probably didn't bother with it. Normally, it would be this trope, but luckily for Edgardo, by the time he learned the ability, he didn't need to worry about running out of Spirit.
  • Cosmic Plaything: The mods made sure to hit Edgardo and Squid with every kind of dangerous or deadly random event they could find, just because they had a grudge against the two. Or, more likely, because Xer0 had one and he habitually whined to the mods in order to get his way. Above all, the mods are apathetic and lazy, and after a while just stopped paying attention to Edgardo and Squid altogether.
  • Crapsack World: The in-universe setting of the roleplay is a world constantly threatened by monsters called Shadows, but none of the "heroes" seem interested in protecting the world. Most characters encountered by Edgardo are just bloodthirsty bullies, while Miltant Xer0 basically runs an Evil Empire (notably, his "authority zone" is explicitly the starting town, its surroundings, and at least a few other nearby towns; this should tell you basically everything you need to know about Xer0). Out-of-universe, the roleplay forum itself is full of clique-y elitist assholes, including the apathetic administrators, and Xer0 is stated to have acquired his phenomenal powers by simply pestering the GMs until he got what he wanted (a practice heavily implied to be commonplace).
  • Crazy Enough to Work:
    • Edgardo deliberately invokes this when he and A Guy Called Squid climb over the mountains to Haven, knowing it's a Ridiculously Difficult Route strewn with especially harsh random events that even much higher-level players won't risk traveling through - which allows him and Squid to get a badly-needed lead on their pursuers. They figured that since the mods were completely ignoring them, they'd be able to traverse the normally treacherous path without issue.
    • Also, Edgardo's plan relies on him making it to Haven and hoping that none of the mods notices or fixes the incredibly obvious Game-Breaking Bug field effect that will give him infinite Spirit to spend on every action. He succeeds.
  • Cthulhumanoid: A Guy Called Squid has a squid for a head, but is otherwise a burly human male. He's cool, though, unlike the typically evil portrayals of this trope.
  • Create Your Own Hero: For the theft of a healing potion, a power-mad overlord throws a severely-injured man into the wilderness to die, and then sets his minions upon him when he survives.
  • Crutch Character: A Guy Called Squid turned out this way. Early on he had a more functional build than Edgardo thanks to his fire powers, rendering him the primary damage dealer of the two and the only reason either of them survived past the first few days. Then towards the end of the story Goldnharl joins with them, supplanting Squid as Edgardo's bodyguard, then once Edgardo reaches Haven and unlocks his infinite Spirit, Squid is now the one completely eclipsed in power.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Both Lightning Sword Guy and Miltant Xer0 give one to Edgardo. The roles flip after Edgardo gains infinite Spirit, and even the former got two-punched the second time they met because he forgot Raw Spirit can't be resisted, and Edgardo hadn't spent any.
  • David vs. Goliath: In one corner: a ludicrously underpowered Hot-Blooded brawler who resolves every problem through punching, and his Cthulhumanoid sidekick. In the other corner, almost everyone else on a forum full of Physical God Person of Mass Destruction sociopaths with the mods on a personal phone line.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Edgardo's strategy in a nutshell. Raw Spirit deals by far the least damage of any attack, but it can't be blocked or resisted in any way, and his Overflowing Spirit perk meant that he could hold as much Spirit as he has time to accumulate. Once he reaches Haven, a quirk in the rules gives Edgardo unlimited Spirit to spend. See Megaton Punch.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: An unintentional example for the standard Shōnen "Hot-Blooded idealistic brawler saves the world by punching the bad guys really hard" plot:
    • For the Deconstruction: The "heroes" defending the realm are selfish, myopic bastards hardly better than the shadows threatening the world, and who abuse their privileges and abilities to live like tyrant kings over the rest of the player base. Powers matter less than being on good terms with the mods, Edgardo's Wide-Eyed Idealist personality gets him laughed out of the tavern, his reliance on physical strength over magic turns out to be a huge strategic misfire, and trying to challenge more powerful characters gets him pounded into the dirt.
    • As for the Reconstruction: Then Edgardo's life is saved by another player's act of kindness, his Raw Spirit technique proves to be far more powerful than anyone saw coming, their sheer determination causes Goldnharl, Xer0's lieutenant, to pull a Heel–Face Turn, and through hard work, rigorous training, and The Power of Friendship – as well as a glaring loophole in the rules – Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid are able to gloriously take revenge on those who wronged them.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Goldnharl's response to Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid killing him is to defect to their side and help them tear down Xer0.
  • Defector from Decadence: Goldnharl couldn't refuse Xer0's orders to go after Edgardo, but after he was killed honorably by Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid and resurrected against his wishes by Xer0 to go after them again, he called quits and joined forces with the two.
  • Defiant to the End: When he gets caught stealing a health potion, Edgardo spits in Xer0's face rather than beg for mercy.
  • Designated Hero: In-universe example. The players bare the title of "Hero," but besides Edgardo, A Guy Called Squid and Goldnharl the playerbase is made up of lazy, whiny jerks who care more about personal petty grudges than doing good. Edgardo, on the other hand, is a Designated Villain simply for the crime of not dying when Xer0 attacked him.
  • Determinator: Both Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid, see quote under Driven to Suicide. Despite literally the entire forum attacking them for the crime of trying to defend themselves, and having every good reason to do so, neither of them surrenders until justice has been most gloriously served.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid take down two Physical Gods, Goldnharl and Xer0, the former with just their normal abilities and some quick thinking, and the second with a literal punch.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Edgardo's player accidentally turns him into one of these. The Raw Spirit perk locks him out of much more useful abilities and the basic punch does minimal damage, leading to him getting his ass handed to him through most of the early fights...but the combination of the two, and Edgardo not spending points on anything but the basic punch, means that Edgardo can charge it up long enough to kill anyone on the forum in a single punch.
  • Dirty Coward: Everyone but Edgardo, Squid, and Goldnharl. The other PCs are obscenely over-powered god-tier anti-heroes who will happily abuse and torment a low-level player with abysmal stats for the fun of it, but bitch and moan to the mods the moment Edgardo starts turning things around on them. This is even invoked when Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid deliberately choose to follow a Ridiculously Difficult Route through the mountains to the city of Haven, knowing that the other PCs are too cowardly and narcissistic to risk endangering their beloved characters to pursue. Xer0 is especially bad, proclaiming himself to be an "almighty warrior" despite spending the vast majority of the RP hiding behind his barriers and picking on lower-level players for sport, and then whipping up a riot that causes the whole forum to close down rather than concede defeat.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Edgardo's Raw Spirit punch is an accidental example: Saving up points for a Charged Attack that cannot be resisted by anything allows Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid to double-tap Lightning Sword Guy at level one. Expressly because, thanks to Overflowing Spirit and Edgardo letting Squid handle most of the heavy lifting in their random encounters, Edgardo has way more Spirit stockpiled than any character his level should.
  • Disney Villain Death: Edgardo kills Goldnharl by punching him off a cliff.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Edgardo tried to steal one potion to restore some health. Xer0 basically kills him on the spot.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Basically the entire first half of the story is the mods, the other players, and Xer0 picking on Edgardo and Squid in every way possible. The entire second half of the story is the two of them royally kicking the ass of just about everyone who abused them so.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Edgardo points out that he and A Guy Called Squid could very easily have just quit the forum when faced with everyone's vehement hatred and rejection. But, neither of them wanted to quit first. Instead, they chose to dish out as much damage to the community as they could manage, and boy did they.
  • Driven to Suicide: Averted. A Guy Called Squid nearly quit the game due to Xer0's bullshit before Edgardo came along, and they both acknowledge how easy it would be to just cut their losses and leave rather than take the hard road:
    I really don't know why we kept going after that. It was obvious we were unwanted, so we really should've just quit. I think we were both waiting on the other one to give in first. I didn't want to admit defeat, and I knew Squid didn't want to either.
  • Dungeonmaster's Girlfriend: Xer0 gets special privileges by whining to the moderators and abusing his status as one of the first members of the roleplay. Edgardo's player speculates:
    I also suspect that he sucked the Admin’s dick, but whatever.
  • Elemental Punch: A Guy Called Squid chose an unarmed build like Edgardo, but his fire punch ability lets him do some real damage. Edgardo doesn't get the same luxury thanks to taking Overflowing Spirit.
    Squid just buffed his fire fists. It was a good way to go.
  • The Empire: By the time Edgardo joins the roleplay, Miltant Xer0 is effectively at the head of one, with most other players either having a rather warped respect for him or directly following his commands. Edgardo's efforts to ultimately topple it make up a bulk of the Roleplay.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • "Fuck no! Edgardo does not beg!" Even though he is deathly injured and has a Physical God at his throat, Edgardo refuses to back down.
    • Xer0 gets his by Force-choking Edgardo for the crime of stealing a health potion while he was dying because he fought another player for insulting his name, and then tells Edgardo that "evil must be punished" before throwing him to his death for refusing to kneel.
    • A Guy Called Squid demonstrates a level of kindness lacked by every other player in the setting when he shares a health potion with a weak and wounded Edgardo after the other PCs had banished him to the wilderness just for trying to steal one (while he was dying, no less).
    • The entire forum gets one when Edgardo's player describes him as "a Hot-Blooded youth always ready for adventure" and immediately gets mocked for making "such a low-brow character" — This coming from a group of Sephiroth/Sasuke clones who unintentionally turned the local tavern into a non-Euclidian structure because they all wanted their own corner to brood in.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Khaine, despite possessing a very overpowered ability like shadowmancing (being able to "control the darkness in people's hearts"), still accepts Edgardo's No-selling him by claiming his unabashed determination and Incorruptible Pure Pureness makes him too pure to control—he even plays along, giving a dramatic This Cannot Be! just before Edgardo punches him into the sky. Contrast that to his boss Xer0, who has a complete breakdown and calls for blood the exact moment that his opponent defeats his abilities.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The guy with a sword and lightning powers is only known as... Lightning Sword Guy. Presumably he had an actual name, but the narrator either forgot it or didn't care enough to mention it.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Invoked when Khaine selectively reads his shadowmancer abilities as "control of the darkness in people's hearts"; Edgardo reads his Spirit as Incorruptible Pure Pureness and being The Determinator, overcoming his own darkness and leaving Khaine utterly flummoxed for a few crucial moments.
  • Evil Hero: There was a looming threat of shadow creatures plaguing the world outside the villages, but most of the "heroes" on the server were more interested in traversing half a continent to murder two guys for defending themselves.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: The forums prior to Edgardo's arrival: The players are cruel and ruthless bullies abusing their powers to rule over the Crapsack World, versus the unseen shadow creatures trying to consume it.
  • Exact Words: Overflowing Spirit removes the Spirit cap. When in Haven, your Spirit automatically fills to the cap. But you don't have a cap. Thus, you have infinite Spirit.
  • Explaining Your Power to the Enemy: Khaine the Shadowmancer doing this allows Edgardo to reflavor his stat bonuses in a way that would make him logically impervious to Khaine's powers and then uppercut the Shadowmancer. Which goes to show you why doing this in battle is a bad idea.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: The worst Edgardo does is try to steal a health potion when he's critically injured and has no gold. Xer0 treats it as an unforgivable offense that Edgardo wasn't killed and banned from the forums on command and eventually burns the whole thing down rather than allow Edgardo to just play the game.
  • Field Power Effect: The city of Haven houses the Spirit Well. Within the city your Spirit points are constantly refilled up to the cap – and if you had no cap, that means being able to spend infinite Spirit to power up every single attack.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Goldnharl clears a path to Haven for Edgardo and Squid through an army of pissed-off PCs. Given the other descriptions of Goldnharl's fighting prowess, this trope was almost certainly involved.
  • Foreshadowing: Edgardo's player sees the Overflowing Spirit perk, which removes the cap on the Spirit meter. He thinks "Oh fuck, that's pretty abuse-able!" and takes it. He has no idea how right he is.invoked
  • Four Is Death: Edgardo and Squid kill four other players, the last of whom throws a Rage Quit so violent it gets the whole community shut down.
  • Game-Breaker: Xer0's character, thanks to the apathetic mods basically ignoring any rule violations from him. Edgardo, on the other hand, found a perfectly legal way to break the game by combining a perk that removed the cap from his Mana Meter with a location that instantly recharge his Spirit "up to the cap" (i.e. giving him infinite Spirit).invoked
  • Genre Refugee: A pure-hearted Hot-Blooded hero is unleashed upon a dark world of brooding Sephiroth Expy-wannabes and Nominal Heroes who have no idea what's coming.
  • Glass Cannon: Your average character on this forum has proportionally huge damage compared to their durability, thanks to both weapons and elements having such huge damage multipliers which stack with each other. It's mentioned that this makes sparring impossible, as player combat has too much risk of accidental death. Squid and Edgardo, however, are able to take advantage of the fact that unarmed combat is total garbage by beating each other silly without any risk of killing each other as long as they don't use any Spirit to empower their attacks, allowing them to slowly cheese out a level-up.
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy: The mods of the forum only intervene when Xer0 whines about it, apathetically shoot down Edgardo's request to rebuild his character, and eventually give up entirely on hitting him and A Guy Called Squid with random encounters by monsters (which they exploit to shake off a horde of Xer0's mooks, by traveling through an area that would otherwise be full of extremely dangerous and frequent random encounters). They don't even bother to do anything about Edgardo's blatant Game-Breaking Bug exploit, until the community as a whole suffers a Villainous Breakdown over it and they decide to just terminate the entire thing.
  • Good Samaritan: A Guy Called Squid demonstrates his goodness by kindly lending a dying Edgardo a health potion (after he'd been expelled from the city for stealing one). Especially notable since A Guy Called Squid is about as deprived of resources as Edgardo is.
  • Graceful Loser:
    • Goldnharl. His only response to being punched off a cliff by two characters far below his power level is a simple PM reading "well played". He's so graceful that having his character's death forcibly overruled is what causes a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal.
    • Khaine's player, to a point. While his powers are extremely liberal to the point of almost rivalling Xer0's level of munchiness, he accepts it when Edgardo manages to figure out a Logical Weakness to his "shadowmancing" and even plays along to his defeat, giving a hammy "This Cannot Be!" just as Edgardo overpowers him and launches him into the sun and bowing out of the story without complaint.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • The moderators of the website had molded the attitudes of its denizens by coming up with the broken rules used to trounce Xer0 to begin with. Additionally, the mods themselves are the ones imposing most of the challenges on Edgardo and Squid, whose main crime seemed to be their unpopularity with the remaining playerbase. Still, it is left up to interpretation as to whether they actively influenced the community into the way it was, or if they simply didn't care enough to actually do their duties as moderators. The fact that they only seemed to take action when users like Xer0 pestered them leans towards the latter, as does the fact that when Xer0 finally had his end-of-game meltdown, rather than continue to listen to him they simply shut down the whole forum.
    • Applies within the game as well. Supposedly, the reason there are all these superpowered anime-esque heroes around is to keep evil "shadows" from taking over the world, but the biggest threats Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid face come from other players, making them the Greater Scope Villain to the Big Bad of the "shadows".
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Xer0 got as overpowered as he did by whining to the mods, not through effort. This is in contrast to Goldnharl, who actually did work to earn everything he had. Meanwhile, Edgardo and Squid gain a level by sparring, an option only open to them because of the lackluster damage of their brawling attacks. The narrator specifically notes it was slow and there were better ways to level, but it was all Edgardo and Squid had at that point.
  • Hate Sink: Although a real player, Xer0 is framed as one for the purposes of the story.
    • Miltant Xer0 is presented as a loathsome, arrogant, immature tyrant who is hated by almost everyone because he constantly mocks the other players, pounces on people who are lower-level than he is just because he can, and whines to the mods the moment his victims start turning things around on him. When Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid manage to survive longer than the mods were expecting, Xer0 all but declares them his sworn enemies out of a sheer petty grudge, even though he was the one who attacked Edgardo in the first place.
    • Xer0's "authority zone" includes "the central town where everyone else hangs out," which is also implied to be where new characters first spring into existence, as it's where Edgardo starts and Squid, a similarly low-level outcast, is lurking nearby. This speaks volumes about Xer0's character.
    • Unlike all the other players, Xer0 never even gets his hands dirty in a fight, except the very beginning when he ambushes a defenseless level-one Edgardo. Xer0 spends the whole game hiding behind his barriers while proclaiming himself a mighty warrior. Edgardo's player even mentions in his narration that he and Squid would probably have quit the forum if Xer0 hadn't been so obnoxious that they were motivated to keep going, just to see Xer0 lose.
    • He's so vile that his own second-in-command admits to only serving him because the alternative is death, and when Xer0 revives Goldnharl against his will, Goldnharl immediately turns on Xer0 in disgust.
    • Right at the end of the story, Xer0 is about to be hit by Edgardo's Raw Spirit attack. The attack will be a One-Hit Kill which Xer0 can't block, defend, or dodge due to the game's mechanics. Instead of taking the loss, Xer0 and his allies complain in the out-of-character boards. Eventually, the mods shut down the entire forum from all of the complaining. While Xer0 didn't technically lose, it's still presented with catharsis; Xer0 was clearly going to lose, but refused to, so the mods shut everything down rather than listen to any more of Xer0's whining.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Goldnharl turns against Xer0 after being revived against his will just to hunt down Edgardo and Squid, who Goldnharl freely admits had beaten him fair and square.
  • "Hell, Yes!" Moment: A subdued, but pretty clear one, the exact moment a foot has been set in Haven, even as they're being ambushed by one of the most broken characters in the setting, utterly paralyzed and unable to move.
    Meanwhile I just sit back and ask myself a question: Why can't I hold all this Spirit?
  • Hero Killer: In-Universe, the other players treat Edgardo like one (even though he was defending himself when they attacked him first), and while he technically does kill four other "hero" characters, they're all huge pricks who are heroic only in the sense that they supposedly fight the shadows threatening the world - something we never actually see them doing, mind you.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Goldnharl staying behind to hold off the horde of angry players.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: A Guy Called Squid saves Edgardo's life by lending him a healing potion while he's dying, and from that moment on they're basically brothers in arms forever. Towards the end, Edgardo even offers Squid a chance to turn around, both of them knowing they're probably not coming back from this. Squid refuses, and the two share a Man Hug so intense that even the narrator jokes about it.
  • Hold the Line: Goldnharl stays behind to hold back the army of pissed-off PCs long enough for Edgardo and Squid to escape.
  • Honest Rolls Character: Goldnharl, apparently. Unlike Xer0, who got his godlike powers by whining to the mods, Goldnharl earned his abilities through years of playing and levelling.
  • Honor Before Reason: Edgardo does not bow.
  • Hope Bringer: Goldnharl and A Guy Called Squid, who are seemingly the only decent players on the forum, both admit to Edgardo that the community had become so petty, hostile, and immature that they were both considering calling it quits in disgust. Edgardo more-or-less singlehandedly changes their minds, convincing both of them to join his quest so they can see Xer0's little gang of bullies destroyed.
  • Hourglass Plot: At the beginning of the story, Xer0 kills Edgardo in a single hit. At the end, Edgardo kills Xer0 in a single hit.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: When Edgardo manages to land an infinite-Spirit punch on Khaine the Shadowmancer, he gets punched into the sun.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: A Guy Called Squid plays this role for much of the story. Edgardo is completely useless without a stockpile of Spirit to spend, while Squid's fire fists, while far from optimal, can at least dish out some damage (though the narrator does note "Squid's fire damage was beastly"). As such, Squid's fire fists do the heavy lifting in most of the fights the duo get into.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Miltant Xer0 gives Edgardo a big speech about "punishing evil" and "upholding justice" while he's demanding that Edgardo beg for mercy or die for the crime of stealing a healing potion while he's dying. In addition, he's a firm believer in Might Makes Right, but Xer0 himself never gets in a single fair fight the entire story and got his superpowers by whining to the mods about it.
    • Most of the self-proclaimed "loners" of the server were in practice under the thumb of Xer0, and any semblance of independance was thrown out the window when most of them banded together to kill Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid.
    • The mob of angry players respond to Goldnharl's Heel–Face Turn by calling him a traitor and trying to kill him, even though avenging his death was the whole reason they were after the heroes in the first place.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: How Edgardo chooses to flavor his Infinite Raw Spirit bonus.
  • Informed Attribute: The other players are the "heroes" of the setting because they supposedly fight the shadow monsters which are threatening to destroy the world. At no point in the story do we see any of them do this, instead devoting all their time to harassing Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid for no reason. (In fact, the only people who do fight the shadows at any point in the story are Edgardo and Squid.)
  • Informed Loner: Ruthlessly mocked by Edgardo's player, who sarcastically suggests that the local tavern must have been some kind of "8th dimensional shape" because everyone in the bar is trying to be the cool loner brooding in the darkest corner of the room.
  • Insistent Terminology: A Guy Called Squid only answers to the full name.
  • Ironic Echo: Both times Goldnharl No Sells something that should've destroyed a normal player, Edgardo claims it's "because fuck you, he's Goldnharl". The first time this is said, it's when he shrugs off Squid's trusty punch and immediately counters it, serving as a bitter criticism of Goldnharl's ridiculous power level. The second time, it's the last we hear of him during his Last Stand, shrugging off an onslaught of nearly the entire forum to cover Edgardo and Squid's escape, and the same expression becomes an excited proclamation of how awesome he is:
    Squid tried a fire punch with a couple of Spirit behind it. No sell, and Goldnharl got a free counter attack because fuck you he’s Goldnharl.

    Goldnharl weathered the tide, taking kunai and fireballs and shadow spears without so much as flinching.
    Because fuck you
    He's Goldnharl
  • Irony: Many players began gunning for Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid because they took out Goldnharl, who was a beloved character in the community. When Goldnharl defects to Edgardo's team, the players who went after the pair for killing him... try to kill him.
  • It's All About Me: It's very clear from the actions of everyone on the Forum that everyone save for Edgardo, A Guy Called Squid, and Goldnharl care more about playing up their characters and being "the hero" than actually working together to make a fun and entertaining story. Presumably, the only reason they listen to Xer0 is because his player's incessant whining to the mods made him Min-Maxed to all hell and back.
  • Japanese Spirit: An actual quantifiable attribute of your character in the game, named simply "Spirit".
  • Jerkass Gods: Well, jerkass mods. When Edgardo asks them for a second chance at rebuilding his supposedly useless character, they harshly shoot him down, despite "whining to the mods" being how Xer0 got to have his level literally be an infinity sign, and implied to be a common practice among other players.
  • Kill It with Fire: A Guy Called Squid has flame punches.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Xer0 demands that Edgardo beg for his life. Edgardo refuses.
  • Knight Templar: Xer0 claims that he is a protector of the realm and that Edgardo is evil... for stealing a healing potion while on the brink of death with no one to help him, which itself only occurred because he had the gall to fight back after being insulted by absolutely everyone on the forum!
  • Large Ham: Edgardo's in-character quotes can be very hammy, and the author does acknowledge how cheesy some of them are.
    (after shaking off Khaine's control) My soul is a shining beacon, filled with a light and a burning hope that no shadow can touch! It is a pinpoint of justice, a shining star that will deliver freedom to the universe! I will root out the darkness, the evil of this land! No shadow will be spared my light!
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In the beginning, Edgardo dies in one hit from Xer0, and at the end, Xer0 dies in one hit from Edgardo. Or at least he would have if the forum hadn't been shut down.
  • Last Request: Goldnharl agrees to make a path through the hostile userbase so Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid can get to Haven, but only if they agree to kill Xer0. Unlike most examples, Goldnharl isn't dying at the time, but since this is shortly before he tanks attacks from several dozen players, the intent is clear.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: Due to Xer0's complaints, Edgardo's one free revival gets turned into this, stranding him in the wilderness with a single hit point.
  • Last Stand: Goldnharl stayed behind, covering Edgardo and Squid's escape. To this day, we still do not know if he survived or not, as after Xer0's defeat the forums were shut down by the next morning.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Edgardo starts out as a pathetically underpowered character. His choice of weapon is fists, which do nothing against even the lightest armour, and he can't even use elemental attacks to make up the difference because he took the one perk nobody ever takes because it locks you out of elemental moves in exchange for having no cap on the amount of Spirit you can hold, which is pointless when any halfway decent character can deal tons of damage spending only one or two Spirit. Edgardo is therefore forced to spend multiple in-game days stockpiling Spirit so he can spend it all at once on a single punch that does little more than knock the wind out of the enemy. Then he learns about the city that automatically refills your Spirit while you're inside of it, and since he has no cap on his Spirit...
  • Lifesaving Misfortune: Edgardo's player is harshly denied a chance at rebuilding his character, which ultimately pays off for him and then some when the narrator realizes he's accidentally uncovered the most broken ability combination in the entire setting.
  • The Load: Edgardo isn't able to accomplish much at the beginning, relying on Squid to fight off threats. The few times where he comes through, it's only by spending tons of Spirit in a single move and that damage never defeats the opponent on its own. He hits Lightning Sword Guy with a big stockpile of Raw Spirit, but it only knocks him down and sets up Squid to deliver the killing blow. Similarly, while expending another stockpile of Raw Spirit does damage to Goldnharl, it's not nearly enough to kill him, but it is enough to knock him backwards... right off the edge of a cliff.
  • Logical Weakness: Khaine the Shadowmancer (very loosely) interprets his ability as being able to control people's bodies by controlling "the darkness in their hearts". Edgardo's player, concluding this wouldn't work on someone who doesn't have any darkness on their hearts, and then evaporates Khaine with one punch.
  • Loophole Abuse: Edgardo uses this a lot.
    • Raw Spirit is weak but completely unblockable, and it can be powered it up via spending Spirit. With Overflowing Spirit, Edgardo has no cap on the amount of maximum Spirit points he can conceivably have. So Edgardo stockpiles a massive amount of Spirit, and spends all that to beat Lightning Sword Guy and Goldnharl. Towards the end of the story, the characters enter a place called Haven, which fills one's resources to their cap. Because Edgardo had no cap, this allowed him infinite Spirit... and thus, an infinite amount of unblockable damage.
    • Whenever you got into a fight, then win or lose you got some experience towards levelling. Normally, this system's Health/Damage Asymmetry prevented players from abusing this by sparring with each other, but Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid both used unarmed combat, which did minimal damage unless they spent Spirit on buffing their attacks. So they could beat each other silly until they passed out, heal up, and then do it all over again in a few hours.
  • Magikarp Power: Edgardo might as well be the ultimate example of this trope. At the start, his build is laughably awful at doing any kind of damage, to the point that another player who was supposedly the same level as him effortlessly curb-stomped him the first time they fought. However, upon studying the setting Edgardo noticed a city called Haven that happened to fill the spirit of anyone who enters it to its cap. However, because he took Overflowing Spirit, he has no cap, which means the second he sets foot in Haven he gains infinite spirit. The effect of Haven also lingers for a day after leaving it, which Edgardo capitalizes on by taking Teleportation, allowing him to teleport straight to Xer0 without having to worry about the effect timing out. By the end of the RP, Edgargo had gone from Joke Character to Invincible Hero.
  • Man Hug: Edgardo learns Teleportation, but to teleport somebody else along with him, he has to be touching them, so after Squid assures Edgardo that he'll be by his side to the end, the two sweaty, shirtless, muscular men embrace each other in a manly hug as Edgardo teleports them both. "invokedIt was super homo."
  • Meaningful Echo: "Fuck you, he's Goldnharl," spoken once before and once after the same player's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Megaton Punch: The only way for Edgardo to deal any damage at all is to stockpile Spirit for several in-game days and blow it all at once on a single punch. Even then, it still doesn't do all that much damage and only staggers the enemy slightly... until he gets to Haven and has infinite Spirit to spend on every punch. Then he can send people flying into the sun.
  • Might Makes Right: Xer0 firmly believes this, abusing his fighting power to rule the forums like a king and crush anyone who would oppose him, including Goldnharl. Of course, Xer0 didn't actually earn that power, and the only "fight" he ever gets in and wins is ambushing a dying level zero newbie.
  • Minimalist Cast: Six named characters, of which only four have important roles. The rest of the playerbase is mentioned, but provides only an abstract threat.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Goldnharl was tired of Xer0 pushing him around and having the mods' favor. So when Goldnharl died and was resurrected against his will, Goldnharl had had enough and sided with Edgardo's team.
  • Moral Myopia: Most of the forum's players railed against Edgardo and Squid for killing Lightning Sword Guy, calling them murderers and outlaws despite the fact they were only defending themselves from his and all the other players' violent antagonism.
  • Motive Decay: Eventually any reason the other players may have had for hunting down the heroes are thrown out the window in favor of "we just hate you that much."
  • Munchkin: Although Xer0 tries to play the part of an ultimate hero in-universe and an Older and Wiser user out of character, he's ultimately more this than anything else, both in and out of universe, repeatedly having his character deal out Disproportionate Retribution to anyone he doesn't like in character and whining to the Mods whenever someone does anything he doesn't like out of character.
  • My Hero, Zero: Xer0, though he sure as hell is no hero.
  • Name of Cain: One of the players is named Khaine.
  • invoked Narm: Invoked by Edgardo's player, in regards to the character's incredibly hammy dialogue when telling the bad guys to shove it, describing his final Badass Boast to Xer0 as "So damn cheesy" and bemusedly cringing at the memory. It plays neatly into his character's Genre Refugee persona.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Edgardo's player muses that, despite everything they had been through together, he had never thought to get A Guy Named Squid's contact information before the final encounter with Miltant Xer0. Since the forum imploded after his defeat, and the story was posted anonymously, it's entirely likely that they will never see each other again.
  • Noble Demon: Goldnharl, the sole player on the forum who's an antagonist to Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid but not a Jerkass. His sense of honor is so strong that he eventually joins Edgardo.
  • Noble Top Enforcer: Goldnharl again. When he's defeated by some quick thinking and teamwork between Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid, his response is a simple PM saying "Well played." He eventually turns against Xer0 because he's sick of Xer0's crap (namely undoing Goldnharl's demise, which he had considered a worthwhile end to his character arc).
  • No Ending: Technically the plotline of the roleplay ends in this fashion. After Edgardo manages to crank his spirit up to infinite levels so that even Xer0's barriers cannot withstand it, and then throws a Megaton Punch aimed right at Xer0's face, Xer0 rage-quits and refuses to reply. However, by this point, Edgardo's actions had essentially caused the entire RP community to implode upon itself with infighting, and even the mods had had enough of it, which resulted in the entire forum being shut down permanently without a resolution to the fight. Anon, however, considers this a victory, as by this point Xer0 had already expended the last bit of good will with the mods and they were as done with him and his cohorts as Edgardo was, meaning there was nothing to save Xer0 from Edgardo; as such, he considers the last moment of the RP to be that of Edgardo's fist smashing through Xer0's barriers and square into his face.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Goldnharl is explicitly described as this, another sign of how different he is from the other players, who prefer to taunt and gloat to Edgardo and Squid before finishing them off. Goldnharl just walked in, saying nothing, and started the fight. Goldnharl's only in-character line was to ask Edgardo for his last words before the (interrupted) finishing blow.
    "Goldnharl wasn't fucking around. No words, only pain. He meant business."
  • Non-Elemental: Raw Spirit is a non-elemental energy attack that has a quirk of bypassing every kind of defense. The tradeoff is that its damage is pathetically weak... unless you can use an infinite amount of it at once, that is.
  • No Saving Throw: Raw Spirit doesn't just bypass resistances; it's also impossible to no-sell, in apparent tradeoff for doing low damage. The community seems to have long forgotten this mechanic, and individuals happily brag about being impossible to harm conventionally before getting slammed down by a crapton of stockpiled Spirit at once.
  • No-Sell: Happens a lot. Several of the other players No Sell Edgardo's earlier attacks, before he has the chance to build up massive Spirit reserves. Xer0 loves to boast about his ability to No Sell other people's attacks, and Goldnharl is all about No Selling everything that comes his way. Finally, Edgardo is able to No Sell "shadow" attacks by another player in Haven, because he literally has infinite Spirit constantly to spend on every action.
  • Not Afraid to Die: Goldnharl only sided with Xer0 because the latter threatened to kill him. After Edgardo kills him and he is unwillingly revived by Xer0, he stops giving a shit about the other players and helps Edgardo and Squid get to Haven, even if it kills him.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: Edgardo and Squid pull off a desperate last-ditch attack on Goldnharl that succeeds in hitting him but does little more than knock him a few feet backwards. But since Goldnharl was standing right on the edge with his back to the cliff...
  • Now, Let Me Carry You: Edgardo's initially-bad build leaves him relying on Squid for most of the real combat, but in the end, once the two make it to Haven, Edgardo's infinite strength exploit allows him to carry the duo to victory.
  • Off the Rails: If going by The Henderson Scale of Plot Derailment, the end of the tale would be at least two full Hendersons. It's hard to derail a campaign more than causing the entire forum (which may have hosted other RPs that had nothing to do with this one) to be permanently shut down due to the player base rioting in protest of the derailment.
  • The Omnipotent: The exact term used to describe Xer0 in his first appearance in the story, and he meets the criteria for Type 5. Once he gets infinite spirit, Edgardo becomes a Type 4 in terms of physical force.
  • One-Hit Kill: Infinite Spirit + Raw Spirit can't be resisted = Each punch does unlimited unblockable damage, pulping literally anything regardless of level or magic. Including Xer0.
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner
    Squid: So what do we do now?
    Edgardo: We train, Squid. We train.
  • Orcus on His Throne: It's made clear that, if Xer0 really wanted to, he could just teleport straight to Edgardo and Squid and mop the floor with them at any given moment, but since that would require subjecting his beloved over-leveled PC to even the tiniest iota of actual risk, he remains content to just camp safely behind the First Town's impenetrable forcefield and treat it like a personal fiefdom while OOC bitching and moaning about the duo on the forums and pushing everybody else, player and mod alike, to go after them instead.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Edgardo to the rest of the playerbase. Everyone had dismissed Raw Spirit as worthless, since it does so little damage, that they forget it cannot be resisted by anything. Similarly, they dismissed Overflowing Spirit as worthless since it locks you into using only Raw Spirit, and with elemental and weapon damage multipliers you could do craptons of damage for only one or two Spirit anyway. And Edgardo is a brawler, and fists do zilch for damage against even the lightest armor. Lightning Sword Guy and Goldnharl are thus both caught completely off-guard by the amount of damage Edgardo can dish out when he has a decent Spirit stockpile to spend (more than any character his level should have), as well as the fact that this damage will completely ignore their armor and other defenses (Goldnharl in particular has armor that makes him practically immune to all elements). And once Edgardo reaches Haven and has literally infinite Spirit to spend on every action, they quickly find out just how broken his build is.
  • Overly Long Name: Much like a certain pimp with a particular name, A Guy Called Squid's name is "A Guy Called Squid", including the "A Guy Called" part. And yes, you must say the whole thing. The narration still refers to him just as "Squid" most of the time, though.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Edgardo and Squid to Xer0. After he does everything short of blatant cheating to get them killed or driven out of the community, they abuse a glaring oversight in the roleplay's system and kill the level infinity asshole in one punch.
  • Phrase Catcher: Goldnharl.
    Because fuck you, he's Goldnharl.
  • Point Build System: From what we hear of Edgardo's player when he's building Edgardo, this seems to be the system the Forum was using for its setting.
  • The Power of Friendship: By himself, Edgardo likely would've been mincemeat in a few ingame days. However, his ejection from the town caused him to happen across A Guy Called Squid, who "Helped me out, shared a potion, and was generally a bro", starting a friendship that lasted until the forums were closed. As a team, they're able to take out multiple characters much more powerful than each of them, up to and including Xer0's right-hand man Goldnharl, whose subsequent Unwanted Revival causes him to join Edgardo - so that by the time the forums finally tried to take on Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid with more than one player, the duo had become a trio thanks to an incredibly tanky Honest Rolls Character dead-set on playing defense for them.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality:
    • From the perspective of the other player-characters on the board, Edgardo is evil and a criminal for trying to defend himself from their abuse, though he later gains infamy for killing Lightning Sword Guy and Goldnharl, the latter of whom was beloved by the community. But they're not the protagonists of this story. Edgardo is.
    • Works the other way, as well. On any other day, the story of a disruptive player wrecking everyone's RP by exploiting an obvious bug in the rules would be bad. But because it's Edgardo, A Guy Called Squid, and Goldnharl against a toxic community, it's okay. Edgardo's player even admits it was a bit of jerk move and probably hurt some feelings, but he ultimately believes they deserved it.
      Maybe I was being a massive That Guy for exploiting this like I did, but I don’t really care. Everyone but a few people were complete assholes, and I wanted their little club destroyed.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Goldnharl only follows Xer0's orders because the alternative is death, and makes it clear that his ambush of Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid is Nothing Personal. In fact, when Xer0 resurrects Goldnharl against his will and tries to make it personal, Goldnharl promptly switches sides.
  • Rage Quit: Xer0 invokes this after two newbies (Edgardo and Squid) launch an attack that would invariably kill him, refusing to advance the roleplay any further to register his death, rioting in the OOC boards with his posse for the two to be banned, before the forum shut down the next day from the outrage.
  • Rated M for Manly: A musclebound Hot-Blooded brawler and his equally muscular, squid-headed, brother-in-arms overcome impossible odds and survive ridiculous amounts of punishment long enough to literally kill gods by punching them in the face. It doesn't get much manlier than that.
  • Read the Freaking Manual: Zig-Zagged. When Edgardo's player set up his Hot-Blooded brawler, he didn't check how stats combine to determine the Spirit cap, so he had a cap of fivenote . Searching for a way to fix that issue, he tumbles on to Overflowing Spirit, which removes the cap "plus some other crap." The "other crap" (which Edgardo didn't bother to read until he noticed he was the only character in the whole game with Overflowing Spirit) is lock you out of using any Spirit attacks except Raw Spirit, "which is crap." Finally, Edgardo's player combs the game's lore and learns about Haven and the Spirit Well, which constantly refills your Spirit "up to the cap." Two incidents of not reading the manual plus one of very carefully reading the manual equals Unstoppable Edgardo.
  • Reality-Breaking Paradox: Rather than playing out all the ramifications of Xer0's death at the hands of Edgardo or retconning the whole thing out of existence (because mind you, Edgardo played the whole thing by the letter of the rules), the mods chose to shut down the entire forum, putting the entire game on hold forever.
  • Redemption Equals Death: We will never know if Goldnharl survived the onslaught.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: It should be noted that the Mods, while not making things any easier for our protagonistsnote  never outright pull a Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies on the duo despite how easily it would have been with everyone on the Forum wanting their blood. The encounters are always ones Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid have a chance of winning despite the conditions they may be in at the moment. They don't bother to put in an Obvious Rule Patch when Edgardo figures out his infinite spirit + max spirit well exploit. The mods also don't punish Edgardo and Squid (and Goldnharl) because they aren't actually doing anything wrong. Except for pissing off Xer0 by simply existing. It is implied near the end, however, that the mods were as tired of Xer0's shit at Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid were, which, given that Xer0 had up to this point pretty much gotten away with any sort of negative ramifications by whining to the mods until they gave in, and Edgardo finally managing to put Xer0 into a losing situation, and Xer0's subsequent breakdown on the forums, gave them a good excuse to shut the forum down and put an end to the whole fiasco that the roleplay had become.
  • Ridiculously Difficult Route: There are two routes to Haven: a long, winding road through the mountains; and simply climbing over the mountains. The latter is a lot faster, but full of incredibly dangerous random encounters. However, Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid are being pursued by the other players, and they're quickly catching up (due to ignoring the traveling rules). So, Edgardo instead proposed climbing over the mountains and taking their chances with the dangerous encounters, counting on the fact that the other players would be too scared to follow them and risk dying themselves, as well as the fact that the mods had been completely ignoring them and had long since stopped giving them random encounters of any kind.
  • Right Makes Might: Invoked by Edgardo when he meets Khaine, the "shadowmancer." A character with a "control shadows" power and a very liberal interpretation of what that meant, claiming it allowed him to control the darkness in people's hearts and thus the people themselves. Edgardo No Sells his attempts because they're in Haven and Edgardo has infinite Spirit to spend on every action.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: The mods were pressured by the Forum to attempt this on Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid. Ultimately subverted; while in their first night in the wilderness they get attacked by a bunch of "shadows," the encounter was apparently designed to be one that they were barely able to survive, despite how easy it would have been to just throw a mob of boss tier enemies at them they couldn't hope to take down. After they make it to the first town, the mods seem to pretty much forget about them.
  • The Roleplayer:
    • Goldnharl's player seems to be the only one on the Forum initially (besides A Guy Named Squid) who actually plays his character semi-reasonable. Sure, he's ridiculously powerful with Armor of Invincibility, can fully heal himself whenever he wants, and gets free counterattacks every time someone hits him, but according to him, he got that strong the hard way, by actually playing the game and earning all of his power and equipment legitimately, unlike Xer0 who just whined to the mods until they gave him everything he wanted. He even accepts his character's death with dignity, even complimenting Edgardo's player over a job well done and considering the death a worthy end to Goldnharl's character arc... In fact, it was Xer0 forcefully reviving the character against his wishes that prompted Goldnharl's player to pull a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Khaine, to an extent, fits into this as well, despite being massively overpowered due to an ability that can be very liberally interpreted to Munchkin levels; When Edgardo figures out a Logical Weakness by claiming his Incorruptible Pure Pureness means he has no "shadows in his heart" that Khaine's shadowmancing ability can latch onto, rather than attempt to wiggle out or ranting at the mods as Xer0 would have done, he plays along with the move and hams up his reaction, giving a flummoxed This Cannot Be! just before Edgardo punches him into the sun.
    • Meanwhile, everyone else on the forum claims to be this, trying to make their characters 'cool and brooding types' but, ultimately, they come off more as giant horde of Munchkins than anything else. Their idea of "roleplaying," in Edgardo's words, is "trying to be edgier than a goddamn razor-blade factory!"
  • Rules Lawyer: Ultimately how Edgardo wins, by capitalizing on the combination of a severely underpowered but unavoidable attack with an obscure, overlooked perk that lets him charge up the damage to obscene levels.
  • Running Gag: No one ever thinks it would be a good idea to even attempt to DODGE Edgardo's Megaton Punch, for which they all pay dearly.
    > People just keep forgetting
    > Raw Spirit can’t be resisted
    > By anything
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Xer0 abuses his close connections with the mods to essentially rule the land like his own personal fiefdom, completely ignore any rule violations on his part, and turn Edgardo into his personal Cosmic Plaything. This helps lead Goldnharl to turn against him, because Goldnharl earned his place.
  • Screw the Rules, They Broke Them First!: Once Edgardo and Squid realize they're the only ones left obeying the traveling rules, they stop obeying them as well.
  • Semantic Superpower: Invoked by a player named Khaine, who claims that his "shadowmancer" powers allow him to "control the darkness in people's hearts" and thus the people themselves. Edgardo completely shrugs it off by claiming that his heart is one of Incorruptible Pure Pureness without an ounce of "darkness" within it.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Khaine the Shadowmancer tries to mind-control Edgardo using his "control the shadows" power, claiming that he has power over the darkness in everyone's hearts. Edgardo replies that there's no darkness in his heart and then uppercuts Khaine into the sun.
  • Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism: At the beginning of the story, the needle is far to the cynical end of the scale. Edgardo grabs it and violently yanks it back in the other direction.
  • Smug Snake: EVERYONE on the forum but Edgardo, A Guy Called Squid, and Goldnharl.
  • Sore Loser: Xer0 is presented this way at the end of the story. When Edgardo makes an attack that will inevitably kill Xer0 thanks to Raw Spirit bypassing all of his shields, Xer0 and his posse riot in the OOC section of the forum. In the end, the forum got shut down the following day, with Xer0 utterly refusing to acknowledge that he lost. Even at the start, Xer0 pitches a fit when Edgardo cashes in the one free revive given to all newbies, claiming Edgardo gets no revive and is dead because Xer0 says so.
  • Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: When Edgardo is about to hit Xer0 with an infinite-damage Unblockable Attack, Xer0 throws such an incredible temper tantrum on the OOC boards that the mods shut the entire forum down instead of letting The Punch play out.
  • Superpower Lottery: Despite knowing little to nothing about the strategy of character building until it's too late, Edgardo's player accidentally manages to hit the most broken combination of abilities in the whole RP - a basic punch that does minimal-to-no damage, spending Spirit on Raw Spirit attacks that do less damage than elemental attacks but cannot be resisted by anything, and a perk that removes the cap on the amount of maximum spirit points he has to spend. A location-based field effect that automatically fills the player's spirit points "up to the cap" means that Edgardo gets the power to punch people with literally infinite unblockable power. The only problem is that the effect would only last for a day after he left that location... except that his last level-up gave him exactly enough skill points to learn Teleportation, which, if the game had continued, would have allowed him to instantly return to that location whenever the effect was about to run out, refresh it for another day, and then go right back to whatever he was doing.
  • Super-Strength: Players can spend Raw Spirit to temporarily boost any of their stats, including Strength. Since Edgardo has no other powers, his go-to is just to pump up his Strength and punch people... reaching its logical conclusion when the infinite Spirit regeneration of Haven gives him infinite Strength.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Edgardo attempts to fight Lightning Sword Guy, an antihero who is much stronger than him. Said antihero hits him through the roof.
    • Goldnharl's death comes when he learns why standing with your back to the cliff during a close-quarters battle is a bad idea.
    • Later on, when Edgardo manages to gain his infinite spirit perk and teleports to Xer0 for the final battle, instead of the climactic showdown that had been built up throughout the RP, Xer0's player simply pulls a Rage Quit once it became clear his character was completely screwed, refusing to post and instead starts whining to the mods over it.
  • Starter Villain: Known only as Lightning Sword Guy. He's the one who initially insults Edgardo and dishes out a Curb-Stomp Battle against him. Later he becomes the first player Edgardo and A Guy Named Squid properly face and defeat in battle, demonstrating the power of teamwork and the potential of Edgardo's build.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Xer0 starts out with this level of ability, mostly because he has a phone line straight to the moderators, and Edgardo notes in disgust that his level is literally an infinity symbol. Edgardo later gains this power level himself through ingenious exploitation of a Game-Breaking Bug, and promptly uses it on Xer0. The name becomes quite literal at the end, when Xer0 whines to the mods to get the whole story shut down right before Edgardo's infinitely powerful fist smashes right into his obnoxious face.
  • This Cannot Be!: Khaine's reaction to Edgardo No Sells his Mind Control abilities, shortly before Edgardo uppercuts him into the sun.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The reaction from Edgardo upon realizing that due to killing Goldnharl, he and A Guy Called Squid "were now at the top of everyone’s hit list."
    > Fantastic.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Edgardo's build is ridiculously underpowered and difficult to make any use of. However, in very specific circumstances, it can be used to hit people for literally infinite irresistible damage. It just so happens this is the only build in the game that can stand up to Xer0, whose level is listed in his profile as "infinite".
  • Time Stands Still: With the cancellation of the game and the closure of the forums, the Narrator likes to imagine Xer0's character stuck frozen in time as Edgardo's unlimited Spirit-empowered fist slams into his face.
  • Token Good Teammate: Goldnharl seems to be the only member of Xer0's gang of cronies that is a decent guy, and in fact he only works for him because Xer0 could easily crush him if he refused to follow orders. Sure enough, once he realizes that Edgardo and A Guy Named Squid actually have the potential to topple Miltant's empire for good, Goldnharl becomes a Defector from Decadence.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Early on, Edgardo decides to fight someone much stronger than him. Subverted thanks to one free revive all newbies get.
    • Khaine the Shadowmancer just stands there spluttering in disbelief after Edgardo No Sells his shadowmancy powers, and this is after Edgardo has already killed two higher-level players without using the Infinite Spirit bonus.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Edgardo's initial build is "beyond useless," as taking Overflowing Spirit locks him out of using other elemental damage, and without that damage modifier, his fists will do literally zero damage against anyone with any kind of armor. The only way for him to deal damage is to stockpile Spirit (using daily gains or rewards from winning fights) and spend it through Raw Spirit. After Edgardo and Squid's first level-up, Edgardo nabs a perk that doubles the rate at which he gains Spirit per day, making him roughly twice as effective. This is a minor level in badass (but enough to defeat Goldnharl). His real level in badass comes after reaching Haven, at which point he has literally infinite Spirit all the time (and for one day after he leaves). Leveling up again in the process of getting there also nets Edgardo teleport, letting him teleport anywhere he wants, punch anyone with infinite irresistible damage, then teleport back to Haven to refresh his infinite spirit (though he only goes after Xer0 using this tactic).
  • Training Montage: At one point the duo take some time and just beat each other to a pulp for ages, taking advantage of gaining experience even from losing fights to eventually level up, while being mostly ignored by the other players and mods. Sparring is mentioned to be impossible for 'normal' characters, as the crazy damage of weapons combined with elemental powers meant that it's too easy to kill your sparring partner by accident, but unarmed characters like Edgardo and Squid do Scratch Damage.
  • Trapped in Villainy: Goldnharl only ever served Xer0 because Xer0 would have killed him if he tried to fight back. His player had grown so embittered and tired of doing Xer0's dirty work that he willingly accepted his demise, only to have that peace ripped away from him when Xer0 rezzed him against his will. Goldnharl then immediately switches sides.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: As the conflict escalates and the mods become increasingly apathetic, all sides begin ignoring the actual traveling rules and just arrive where they want just in time for another fight.
  • Troperiffic: This tropes page is longer than the story upon which it is based.
  • Try and Follow: After barely surviving the first fight with Goldnharl, Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid buy themselves precious time from the hordes of angry players on their trail by taking a Ridiculously Difficult Route through the mountains that they know the other players are too cowardly to attempt.
  • Twinkle in the Sky: What happens to Khaine the Shadowmancer, assuming Edgardo's description of him being "punched into the sun" is accurate.
  • Unblockable Attack: Raw Spirit is unblockable by any barriers and pierces through them. To compensate, it's normally very weak compared to other attacks... unless one gets an infinite amount to stockpile and power it up.
  • Undying Loyalty: Edgardo tells Squid that You Can Turn Back right before the final encounter with Xer0, and Squid refuses, telling Edgardo that he's come this far, he'll come the rest of the way, and the two share an epic Man Hug whose homoerotic nature is jokingly lampshaded by the narrator.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Everyone in the forum had dismissed Raw Spirit attacks for their low damage-per-spirit, and did perfectly fine with low caps on it. This leads them to dismiss everything Edgardo could throw at them until they find out, the hard way, that he had more than enough Spirit to spend to make it hurt anyways.
    Even if Raw Spirit was crap, a lot of crap could still wreck someone's day
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Edgardo in a nutshell. Unlike all the other players but Squid, who seemingly front-load their characters with ridiculously powerful attacks at the expense of durability, Edgardo has zero trained attack abilities beyond a basic punch, and his punches, while irresistable, do jack-all damage against enemies - unless he charges them. Which, since he's not spending Spirit Points on any other abilities, means he almost always has his (undodgeable) attacks charged up enough to hurt someone. Which means...
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: Xer0's barriers render him invincible. Edgardo's Raw Spirit punches pierce all barriers.
  • Unwanted Revival: Goldnharl is brought back from a death his player found to be a perfect ending to his character arc, just to battle our two heroes. This plays a part on his Heel–Face Turn, being the last straw from a forum he had started to hate.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Lightning Sword Guy pettily insulting Edgardo's name starts the ball rolling on a chain of events that leads to the entire forum being shut down.
  • Villain Ball: Xer0 could have easily destroyed Edgardo at any moment (something Edgardo's player freely admits) if he wasn't too much of a Dirty Coward to fight for himself instead of sending waves of henchmen after Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid. Furthermore, forcing an Unwanted Revival on Goldnharl is what inspires the latter's Heel–Face Turn, and it's unlikely Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid could have ever reached Xer0 without his help.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The entire last half of the story is one of these for Xer0 and his community, as the Genre Refugees they so callously dismissed conquer every obstacle that Xer0 can throw at them. Xer0 breaks down when Edgardo shatters his barrier and kills him in one hit, refusing to keep playing. In response, the humiliated playerbase has a collective breakdown so severe that the community implodes literally overnight.
    > Xer0 refused to post in actual RP after that. I think he had a stroke or something.
    > He posted plenty in the discussion threads though. Everyone did.
    > The entire community spammed the forums, declaring that I should be banned, flayed, and hung for my shenanigans.
    > The next day when I tried to login, I found that the forums had been shut down due to “popular opinion.”
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: None of the other players bother training at all, relying on broken stat builds or whispers in the mods' ears to keep their characters strong. This bites them in the ass later on when Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid have trained so hard they can one-shot much stronger players in unarmed combat.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: As two big, beefy, manly men who punch things, of course Edgardo and Squid are both this.
  • Wham Line: We have this moment, when the narrator finally reveals to us the exploit in the forum's rules which would finally allow him to deal Xer0 the justice he so richly deserved:
    > [Haven] was home to the Spirit Well. It was a font of power that everyone flocked to. As long as you were in Haven, your spirit points recharged instantly, up to your cap.
  • Withholding the Big Good: There was no Big Good on the forum. Goldnharl was a Noble Demon under Xer0's thumb, and Squid was basically an outcast just trying to get by. Then Edgardo shows up and becomes the Hope Bringer, pretty much entirely by accident.
  • World of Jerkass: Every single player except Edgardo, Squid and Goldnharl is presented as an edgy, obnoxious Min-Maxing jerkass out for blood. They don't seem to be doing anything actually heroic, preferring to brood and player-kill.
  • Worthy Opponent: Goldnharl saw Edgardo as one after the latter manages to defeat him by tossing him off a cliff, giving Anon an impressed, "well played" in his private messages following his defeat, and judging from the way Anon describes Goldnharl he sees him as one as well. This likely influenced Goldnharl's later decision to defect to Edgardo's and A Guy Called Squid's side after Xer0 inflicts an Unwanted Revival upon him.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Edgardo sets up Goldnharl's defeat by suplexing him to the edge of the cliff.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • The entire conflict stemmed partly from this (Jerkass players aside): Edgardo (and, to an extent, Squid) thought "Anime" as in "Hot-Blooded muscular heroes who will trounce evil wherever it is found with the goodness in their hearts", everyone else (aside, perhaps, from Goldnharl) thought "Anime" as in "Brooding, bishie 'heroes' who dedicate themselves to slaughter and vain preening while frowning on anyone giving a crap," and the ensuing clash was violent, to say the least.
    • This ultimately gets turned on its head for everyone else, who all think they're in a Heroes Unlimited story chasing down a murderous Big Bad when, in truth, it's more like they're in a shonen anime underdog story about a small group of Hot-Blooded rebels attempting to take down an Evil Empire.
  • Wuxia: While not explicitly labeled as such, the story has all the necessary trappings of the genre.
  • You Can Turn Back: Edgardo tells A Guy Called Squid he doesn't have to come with him for the probably suicidal showdown with Xer0. Cue a moment of Manly Tears:
    > He tells me that he’s with me to the end, that he intends to see this thing through, and that he’s got my back no matter what.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: Edgardo's very first session started in one such tavern, which didn't combine well with the other "heroes"' antisocial nature.
    "I swear the tavern had to be some kind of 8th dimensional shape, because EVERYONE was in their own fucking corner away from everyone else."
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Goldnharl cements his Heel–Face Turn by staying behind to fight off the other players long enough for Edgardo and Squid to escape alive.