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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 Xer0.

Out of universe, it is a stark reminder of how one pissed-off power-gamer can stir up a nest of self-aggrandizing thespians and "Stop Having Fun" Guys via a good dose of Loophole Abuse.

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The story can be read in its entirety 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:

  • '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.
  • 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.
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  • Always Accurate Attack: Raw Spirit cannot be resisted. By anything, no matter how powerful the player's armor effects are. If it it hits the player, they take the damage, no matter what, which is what allows Edgardo to bypass the defenses of much more powerful players and hit them with a fuckton of damage all at once.
  • 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.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Raw Spirit, as described repeatedly, bypasses all forms of damage resistance and mitigation. Combined with an egregious Game-Breaking Bug, this is how Edgardo holds his own against opponents despite possessing a sub-optimal build, and is ultimately how he thwarts Xer0's last attempt to god-mod with an "unbreakable" force-field.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Basically every other player on the Forum but Edgardo, Squid, and Goldnharl.
  • Asshole Victim: Xer0, Lightning Sword Guy and Khaine's behavior makes it hard to sympathize with them.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: 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: 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.
    Militant 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 it.
  • Barrier Warrior: From what we see of him, this seems to be Xer0's shtick.
  • 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.
  • Bash Brothers: Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid.
  • Battlecry: Edgardo's is "BANZAI!!"
  • Batman Gambit: Rather than risk a battle they can't win against a horde of angry and very overpowered PCs who are 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.
  • Big Bad: Militant Xer0 is the main noteworthy villain of this tale.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Edgardo, A Guy Called Squid, and Goldnharl kill Militant Xer0, ending his dark reign. As a result, the forums are shut down and Edgardo never sees A Guy Called Squid again.
  • Blessed with Suck: When Edgardo's player first started making a character, he took Overwhelming 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.
  • 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 until they can One-Hit Kill much stronger players.
  • Byronic Hero: The other players claim to be playing this kind of character, and fail spectacularly.
  • 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 until Edgardo can literally kill gods in a single punch. Goldenharl, meanwhile, claims that he earned his overpowered-ness over the course of several years of legitimate roleplaying, compared to people 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.
  • 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.
  • Cool, But Inefficient: 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 Spirit attributes besides Raw Spirit, itself cool in that it can't be resisted but inefficient in that it uses more Spirit for less damage and can't be multiplied by weapons or Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors.
  • 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. It bit them in the ass hard later on.
  • 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 Militant Xer0 basically runs an Evil Empire. 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 gamemasters 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.
    • 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 removes the cap on his Mana Meter. 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 dying man into the wilderness to die.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Both Lightning Sword Guy and Militant 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 this corner, one Cthulhumanoid sidekick and a ludicrously underpowered Hot-Blooded brawler who resolves every problem through punching. In the other corner, 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:
    • 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. 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 Xer0's lieutenant to pull a Heel–Face Turn, and through hard work, rigorous training, and The Power of Friendship, 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Overwhelming Spirit.
    Squid just buffed his fire fists. It was a good way to go.
  • 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 Spirit Well only lasts a short time after leaving Haven which isn't long enough to take the fight to Xer0. But crucially, Edgardo had been saving his skill points from leveling up and realized he could afford the Teleport skill, thus giving him the ability to both be anywhere and kill anything.
  • 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 the other players attacked him for no reason, 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."
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The guy with a lightning sword is only known as... Lightning Sword Guy.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
    "I still wonder how anybody in their right mind missed this little detail of Overflowing Spirit. It was just set up so perfectly. 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."
  • Genre Refugee: A pure-hearted Hot-Blooded hero is unleashed upon a dark world of brooding Sephiroth expys 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 stacking damage multipliers. It's mentioned that this makes sparring impossible, as player combat has too much risk of accidental death.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Hate Sink: Although technically a real player, Xer0 qualifies as one for the purposes of the story, he's a loathsome, arrogant, and 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, he 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. 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) and 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 long before the end if Xer0 hadn't been so obnoxious that they were motivated to keep going, just to see him 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 him in disgust.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hold the Line: Goldnharl stays behind to hold back the army of pissed-off PCs long enough for Edgardo and Squid to escape.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: A Guy Called Squid plays this role for much of the story.
  • Hypocrite: Militant 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 because one of the other players attacked him for no reason. 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.
  • 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 its "because fuck you, he's Goldnharl". The first time this is said, its when he shrugs off Squid's trusty punch, and immediately counters it. The second time, it's the last we hear of him during his Last Stand, shrugging off the onslaught of nearly the entire forum.
  • Irony: Many players began gunning for Edgardo and A Guy Called Squid because they took out Goldnharl. When Goldenharl defects to Edgardo's team, the players who went after the pair for killing him try to kill him.
  • Jerkass Gods: Well, jerkass mods. When Edgardo asks them for a second chance at rebuilding his supposedly useless character, they harshly shoot him down and then throw him into the wilderness to die.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Xer0 gets his comeuppance in the form of a fist to the face.
  • Kill It with Fire: A Guy Called Squid has flame punches.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Xer0 demands that Edgardo beg for his life. Edgardo refuses.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In the beginning, Edgardo dies in one hit from Xer0, and at the end, Xer0 dies in one hit from Edgardo.
  • The 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 himself. By the end of the story, he's become the World's Strongest Man with a build roundly mocked as being pathetically suboptimal, thanks to a glaring oversight in the game rules.
  • 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.
  • 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: One of the best examples of it. Raw Spirit is weak but completely unblockable and it can be powered it up via spending Spirit. With a certain perk, Edgardo has no cap on the amount of maximum spirit points he can carry. So of course, he stockpiles a massive amount of it and spends all that to beat Lightning Sword Guy and Goldenharl, and later on Edgardo finds a place where he can obtain literally infinite amounts of it. The result? Xer0 never stands a chance.
  • Knight Templar: Xer0 and his cronies clearly see themselves as the lawful good heroes hunting down a dangerous murderer and his accomplice, rather than the power-mad clique of Munchkins they really are.
  • Man Hug: Edgardo and Squid share one in order to teleport. The invokedHo Yay potential of this moment gets lampshaded by The Narrator himself.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Fuck you, he's Goldnharl," spoken once before and once after the same player's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Megaton Punch: What Edgardo eventually gets, either by storing tons of Spirit through multiple adventures, or when he gets to Haven and has literally infinite Spirit.
  • 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, he 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.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Goldnharl was tired of Xer0 pushing him around and having the mods' favor, so when he died and was resurrected against his will, Goldnharl had had enough and sided with Edgardo's team.
  • Moral Dissonance: Xer0 kills Edgardo for stealing a health potion because "evil must be punished", but Edgardo only needed the healing potion in the first place because one of the other players mortally wounded him for having a dumb name.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Militant Xer0. Since the forum imploded after his defeat, and the story was posted anonymously, its 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 Goldharl's demise, which he had considered a worthwhile end to his character arc).
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Goldnharl is explicitly described as this by the narrator, 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 with nothing to say, and his only words before death were 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 usual trade-off being that nobody can normally use it in large quantities).
  • 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: After depending on Squid for most of the real combat, in the end it is Edgardo who exploits a flaw in the system and carries the duo to victory.
  • Off the Rails: If going by The Henderson Scale of Plot Derailment, it's at least two full Hendersons. It is hard to derail a campaign more than causing the entire forum on which the game is based to be shut down due to its community 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 clear that Xer0 could just teleport straight to, and utterly ruin, Edgardo and Squid at any given moment if he really wanted to, but he seems content to just bitch and moan about them on the forums while camping safely behind his impenetrable forcefield and pushing everybody else, player and mod alike, to go after them instead.
  • Overly Long Name: The full name of Edgardo's brother-in-arms is "A Guy Called Squid", and he refused to answer to anything else, including simply "Squid".
  • 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.
  • 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. 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 Genre Refugee wrecking everyone's RP by exploiting an obvious bug in the rules would be bad. But because it's Edgardo, Squid, and Goldnharl against a toxic community, it's ok. Edgardo's player even admits it was a bit of jerk move and probably hurt some feelings.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Edgardo attempts to fight 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 managed to gain his infinite spirit perk and teleported 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.
  • 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 to with everyone on the Forum wanting their blood. The encounters are always ones Edgardo and That Guy Called Squid have a chance of winning despite the conditions they may be in at the moment and don't bother to put in an Obvious Rule Patch when Edgardo figures out his infinite spirit + max spirit well exploit.
  • Ridiculously Difficult Route: The only route to the city of Haven is a long, winding path through the mountains, which are filled with dangerous 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 were too worried about dying themselves to risk pursuit and the fact that the mods were mostly ignoring them to get them through.
  • 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 into this 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 yanks it back in the other direction.
  • Smug Snake: EVERYONE on the forum but Edgardo, A Guy Called Squid, and Goldnharl.
  • 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 damage but cannot be resisted by anything, and a perk that removes the cap on the amount of maximum spirit points he has to boost his strength. 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 power.
  • 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.
  • 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 power level is literally listed as "infinity." Edgardo later gains this power level himself through ingenious exploitation of a Game-Breaking Bug, and promptly uses it on Xer0.
  • 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.
  • The Empire: By the time Edgardo joins the roleplay, Militant 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.
  • 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 travelling through an area that would otherwise be extremely dangerous). 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.
  • 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 ends up No Selling a lot of attacks thrown his way but according to him, he actually earned his abilities by completely playing within the game rules over the years, unlike Xer0 who got most of his powers through whining to the Mods. 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.
    • 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.
  • This Cannot Be!: Khaine's reaction to Edgardo No Sells his Mind Control abilities, shortly before Edgardo uppercuts him into the sun.
  • 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: Goldenharl 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 Militant's empire for good, Goldenharl 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: In the beginning, Edgardo is so weak that Xer0 kills him in a single hit. By the end, Edgardo is strong enough to kill Xer0 in a single hit.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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's petty act of rudeness towards Edgardo 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 so 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.

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