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The Order Of The Stick / Tropes G to I

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The Order of the Stick provides examples of the following tropes:

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  • Gambit Pileup:
    • On one side we've got Roy's mission to kill Xykon (initially because of the Blood Oath he inherited from his father and subsequently to save the world), Haley earning her father's ransom (except her father was actually taken on the orders of the Thieves' Guild, and unknowingly ratted out by her uncle, who was trying to secure the freedom of his son) and Durkon's 'mission' in the human lands (essentially an exile). More recently there's Belkar feigning character development to better serve his needs, V atoning for the Familicide spell, and The High Priest of Hel possessing Durkon working for, well, Hel.
    • On the other alignment, Xykon wants to control the Snarl... but so does his "servant" Redcloak (on behalf of the Dark One and goblinkind), the Inter-Fiend Cooperation Commission, Nale and the Linear Guild, and possibly Tarquin.
  • Game-Breaker: invoked
    • The characters usually don't get a chance to take advantage of such, but strip #767, in which Haley uses a potion of Glibness, is an exception. Enterprising players have noticed that, according to the Rules as Written, a Bluff check roll of 20 or better can convince people of some really ridiculous things — and Glibness gives a whopping +30 to Bluff checks!note 
    • The homebrewed spell Familicide, which kills everyone related by blood to the target, and then kills everyone related by blood to those people. Vaarsuvius gets access to it when their soul is spliced with that of the damned necromancer who created the spell, and a single casting kills a quarter of the black dragons in the world... plus any Half-Human Hybrids descended from them. Which included the entire Draketooth family. Whoops. However, due to the precise requirements of the casting, It Only Works Once.
    • In-universe, Tarquin states that bards are underpowered because by rights their sheer Genre Savvy should let them rule the world. Later in the story, his own attempts to use Genre Savvy to his advantage illustrate precisely why this isn't the case.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The comic's universe runs on 3.5 Edition Dungeons & Dragons mechanics, but the author frequently ignores the game rules in favor of telling a good story.
    • For example, Tsukiko is a Mystic Theurge, which means she should have very high Intelligence and Wisdom scores to cast both wizard and cleric spells, yet she is regularly outsmarted and makes some very, very foolish decisions. Probably justified since she's also insane, and Sanity Has Advantages.
    • Then again, most of the builds are pretty craptastic. Like Belkar's halfling, dual-wielding ranger with really low wisdom. Or V specializing in evocation and banning necromancy and conjuration. While they both have their moments of weakness, they tend to do okay most of the time.
    • A number of Azure City characters have Samurai as their social rank, but none of them have any ranks in the actual class (which mechanically is like a fighter but not as good). This causes some confusion when the Order first meets Miko.
    • The effects of the Girdle of Masculinity/Femininity are removed with a simple Remove Curse spell. While generic cursed items that mimic the effect can be gotten rid of this way, the actual Girdle requires either a wish spell (and even then it's a coin flip) or direct intervention from a deity to remove.
  • Gang Initiation Fight: Required for entry to the Barbarian Guild. Only one-on-one combat is required, but Belkar turns it into a brawl anyway.
  • Gasp!:
    • Elan's reaction to the line "Elan — I am your father."
    • Elan's reaction to Laurin Shattersmith disintegrating Nale's body.
    • Haley's reaction on seeing Crystal coming back as a flesh golem.
    • The High Priest of Heimdall's reaction to the reveal of the High Priest of Hel's presence at the Godsmoot.
    • The High Priestess of Odin's reaction to seeing a whole host of vampires invading the moot.
  • Gate Guardian: Each member of the Order of the Scribble is charged with protecting one of the five magical gates that prevent the Snarl from reemerging and destroying reality.
    • Dorukan's Gate is protected by Dorukan himself, who placed powerful magic sigils on the gate to prevent evil-aligned creatures from accessing it and built a huge dungeon to aid in its defense.
    • Girard's Gate is protected by Girad Draketooth and his family, who hid the pyramid where the gate is located with numerous illusions.
    • Kraagor's Gate is protected by numerous ultra-powerful and nasty monsters.
    • Lirian's Gate is guarded by Lirian and creatures of the forest.
    • Soon's Gate is protected by the Sapphire Guard, an order of paladins founded by Soon himself.
  • Gender Bender: The Girdle of Femininity/Masculinity, or Belt of Gender Changing. Roy ends up wearing it starting strip #235: "Oddly, He Can Still Get Dressed in Under a Minute".
  • Genre Blindness: Displayed by the Godsmoot attendees: The High Priest of Hel has a penchant for getting one of them alone, then delivering a Pre-Mortem One-Liner before draining them. He's done this twice, and both times, the only gives him a quizzical look before dying, despite KNOWING he's a vampire.
  • Genre Savvy: Displayed by most characters at some point or another. Most notably:
    • Elan. Though his genre-guided predictions are contradicted on occasion by subversions, Elan's sense of drama is surprisingly useful — it's even how he joined the OotS. Basically, he's Genre Savvy when it comes to standard fantasy but not so much when concerning his own story. Elan's Genre Savvy backfires when he realizes that his dad's plot will actually work.
    • Tarquin, both recreationally and professionally — he maintains power over an empire through it. His Genre Savvy, however, becomes increasingly unreliable the more he indulges in his delusion that he's the primary villain of the comic and that Elan is the primary hero, leading him to become increasingly unstuck.
    • Tarquin also believes that bards, being Genre Savvy incarnate, should be "ruling the entire cosmos by now, instead of wasting time singing in taverns."
    • In the final arc, Roy makes an important tactical decision (rush Team Evil and hope for the best or play for time in the hopes they can waste the villain's spell slots before using all their own buffs) based entirely on whether Elan thinks they're at the end of the story or not.
  • Gilligan Cut: "If you want to bring us before your liege, you'll have to drag us there in chains."
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: In strip #794, Elan mentions Haley can "make out with any of our recurring villains you want". The title of the strip is "We Recommend Tsukiko".
  • Give Me a Sword: Horace Greenhilt to Roy in "The Grand Fighter".
    Horace: ROY! Heads up!
  • Give Me Back My Wallet: Two Street Urchins bump into Durkon and steal his purse. When they open it, it just contains a teasing note from Haley — who they discover has somehow managed to pick their pockets in return.
  • Gladiator Games: A main source of entertainment in the Empire of Blood, and part of the judicial system.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Roy and Celia, though it is more Glad-to-Be-Alive Again Sex.
  • Global Airship: The Mechane takes this role.
    Bandanna: No, just 'cause you have an airship now does not mean that the main plot will stand still while y'all fly around and finish up all the sidequests you missed.
  • The Glomp: Haley to Elan along with an aggressive kiss, after discovering he stole his new clothes after breaking out of prison.
  • The Gloves Come Off:
    • Notably done by Vaarsuvius, who reaches this point when unleashing a Superpowered Evil Side by making a literal Deal with the Devil. As expected for this trope, the results are not exactly what anyone hoped for, and leads to some solid Character Development for all involved parties.
    • Also shortly after played straight by Xykon when Vaarsuvius teleports into his Evil Tower of Ominousness. As "a challenge to his rep", Xykon meets them with everything he has, including taking advice from his minions.
  • Godiva Hair: Yes, on a stick figure: Haley grows her long hair back.
  • God Is Displeased: The Paladin Miko slips from Knight Templar to Tautological Templar and ultimately plays Judge, Jury, and Executioner against her liege lord, an offense so great that her entire pantheon manifests to strip her of her paladin powers.
  • God's Hands Are Tied:
    • The Domain Agreement means that gods can't be selective with whom they grant spells to. Even though Thor is a good guy, he can't simply revoke an evil cleric's ability to cast Weather Control — that is, unless he wants Hel to retaliate by denying any good clerics Cure Disease.
    • More conventionally, they won't get involved in heroics directly in case they start stepping on each other's toes; as gods the ensuing divine frustration caused by their bickering could literally come alive as an Eldritch Abomination (case in point: the Snarl).
    • Speaking of the Snarl, they also can't get involved simply to contain it anew, or at least they don't want to: the only way to do so would be to simply destroy the world and rebuild another, and they like the current world too much — though as the Snarl gets closer to being released they start discussing it.
    • Odin reveals in #1146 that there are so many rules to prevent Not-Good gods from dominating Good gods.
      Odin: We wrote them that way on purpose! There are fewer Good gods than Not-Good gods. If everyone could play in the sandbox all the time, there wouldn't be a lot of castles left unkicked.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Zig-Zagged.
    • Sufficient belief can elevate anything to godhood, as first seen with Banjo the Clown.
    • Gods also apparently gain power as their clerics level up — it's suggested in Start of Darkness that this is why they created Always Chaotic Evil NPC races in the first place, as XP-fodder for adventurers.
    • Parodied in "A Brief Intermission":
      Bucket of Popcorn: You fools! We have been loved by moviegoers for over 50 years! Do you know the kind of power that gives us? We have become like unto tiny refreshing GODS!
    • On the other hand, it was noted that most of the gods have already existed even before the world came into being, without any followers or worshipers. This is revealed to be because this is not the first world, and there have literally been thousands of worlds before this one each with attendant followers, that the gods have been forced to destroy. The gods themselves actually have stored up faith they use to survive the period between each planet's destruction, allowing their survival, which is a problem for the Dark One because he does not have the reserve faith needed to keep him going.
    • As it turns out, gods also need the proper mix of faith to sustain them as well. Odin is suffering a form of dementia because he's also a god of Magic, and the Northerners in the previous world believing that magic was dumb and for simpletons has resulted in a sort of nutritional imbalance.
  • Godwin's Law: Evil is measured in kilonazis.
  • Going to Give It More Energy: The party comes across a hydra on the way to the oracle. Belkar starts happily chopping heads off left and right. Vaarsuvius wants to just blast it with magic, but Roy says to wait, without explaining why. Just as V is about to let loose anyway, the hydra collapses due to its heart no longer being able to pump enough blood to all of its heads.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Discussed in "Welcome to the Arena".
    Elan: I know that sometimes the hero has to play baccarat with the enemy, even though logically it would make more sense for them to just be trying to kill each other. What I don't know is how to play baccarat.
  • Golden Mean Fallacy: According to Belkar, killing one hobgoblin is a fair compromise between him wanting to kill them all and Celia not wanting him to kill any.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Used for Elan and Belkar, with plenty of twists.
  • Good Armor, Evil Armor: The Sapphire Guard's enchanted armor only grants its benefits to a Paladin in good standing, effectively requiring its wearers to be Always Lawful Good.
  • Good Feels Good: How Durkon was able to defeat the vampire controlling him: by feeding him memories in a narrative fashion of all the Good he did, then hitting him with the story of how his mother gave away a fortune to resurrect five people she'd never met (instead of resurrecting her husband or even growing a new arm), and then absolutely flooding him with all of Durkon's cherished memories of his five aunts and uncles. He tells Belkar afterward that he suspected that would work thanks to Belkar's advice.
  • The Good Guys Always Win: Invoked by Tarquin. He may be in a position of Evil Versus Oblivion, but he sees that as no reason to stop putting obstacles in the good guys' way, because they'll manage to save the world whatever happens. Tarquin knows full well that eventually this trope will come into play and he'll ultimately be defeated by a hero. His plan is to live like a god until that day comes and accept it as the price he must pay. In his own words: "sure, the last ten minutes sucked, but you can't have everything."
  • Good Is Boring: Averted during Roy's time in Lawful Good heaven. He gets to meet his deceased relatives, play blocks with his dead little brother, and the general attractions include a Tavern of Infinite One-Night Stands. It's also explained that this is only the first level — once people get bored with the earthly stuff, they resume climbing the mountain, with "true perfect enlightenment" waiting at the top.
  • Good Is Dumb: Lampshaded by the strip titled "Because Good Is Dumb".
  • Good Is Not Dumb: "Improbable Causes". Even stated repeatedly.
    Lien: Seriously, how many times do I need to go over the, "Good, not dumb," thing?
  • Good Is Not Nice:
    • Roy, while Lawful Good, enjoys verbally lambasting both his friends and enemies a bit too much. Early on, he's prone to occasional moments of cruelty, such as deciding to leave The Load Elan in the clutches of bandits rather than rescuing him. As the story progresses, he learns to be less grouchy and value his team more.
    • For a guy who's waiting for a place in the Lawful Good heaven, Roy's dad Eugene is a pretty sarcastic, selfish Jerkass.invoked It's widely speculated among fans that Eugene has been shifting more and more toward Neutral over the years he's been stuck in the waiting area. But since he's been told by one of the Devas (who are, for the record, incapable of lying) that the only thing keeping him out of the Lawful Good heaven is his unfulfilled blood oath, it seems that actions taken after you die can't alter your afterlife destination.
    • Miko Miyazaki is made of this trope, although due to her extreme Knight Templar tendencies, it's debatable whether she can really be considered "Good". Most readers place her as Lawful Neutral at best, Lawful Stupid at worst.
    • Most of the Sapphire Guard practically embody this trope, at least in Start of Darkness.
    • The elven commander also claims to be an example.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Any nice paladins like Hinjo or O-Chul. They don't mind bending the rules when someone is clearly trying to exploit them and have no problem killing.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: "Sonic Reptilian Unicorn," according to Lien.
  • Good News, Bad News:
    • Played straight two ways in "They've Had Time to Train, Too".
      Haley: [to a group of Hobgoblins] OK, I've got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is, I won initiative, so you all get a sneak attack each. The good news is, I don't have to bother thinking up the second half to that joke, 'cause you're all dead now.
    • Then in the same strip, the hobgoblin in the final panel gets an Ironic Echo...
      Hobgoblin: OK, so, I've got bad news, and I've got bad news.
    • Eugene Greenhilt to his son in the afterlife, after finding out Roy's body was turned into a bone golem:
      Eugene: ... The good news is that I was able to conjure some books that might help you come to terms with the bad news.
    • "A Cut Above" has the first variety.
      Celia: Well, the good news is that Belkar isn't fighting both of those thieves anymore. The bad news is, that's because the half-orc is now chasing us.
    • Done again in "All Available Resources", with the good news and bad news being the same — it's all in the intonation.
      Roy: [to the team] The good news is, we're here! The bad news is... we're here. [pan out to a barren expanse of desert]
    • Blackwing delivers too. The "good news" makes kind of sense in a "we're screwed already anyway" mindset.
      Blackwing: OK. Well... the bad news is that this is a scroll of Locate Creature — which is a completely useless spell in the current situation.
      The good news is that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Once Elan and Haley get together, this trope arrives. They even make use of the setting's magical and fantastical elements to enjoy some... novel experiences. Including doing it on the back of a gigantic Sandworm
  • Good Powers, Bad People: Even evil clerics can use healing magic. Redcloack uses it to prolong torture sessions.
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: Celia, Sabine, and the Celestials and Devils seen from time to time.
  • Go Out with a Smile:
    • Lord Shojo, when Miko Falls as a result of fatally wounding him and he takes this as a sign that the gods approve of what he's done. He resisted resurrection in a later strip, indicating he was not too sorry to be dead.
    • While she wasn't technically smiling, Miko herself dies at least somewhat satisfied, on being told that Windstriker, her horse (and only friend) will visit her in the afterlife even though she has failed to redeem herself.
    • Lord Kubota, if only because he's unexpectedly killed in the middle of his Evil Gloating.
    • Therkla, here, thanks to Died in Your Arms Tonight.
    • Durkon, with a Tearful Smile because "...I get ta go home."
    • Durkon's father smiled at his wife in his last moments.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • Old Blind Pete gets renamed to Brainy Pete, naturally leading to a sickening Sound-Only Death by blunt object to the head. Cut to Belkar making quips while it takes place. When Celia and Haley come across the corpse a few strips later, only the legs are visible on-panel, but Celia makes a dark gag that he's "not going to be needing [a hat] anymore".
    • Tsukiko's death is a Sound-Only Death in which all we see is four panels of the killer watching impassively over dwindling cries of pain and horror. And crunching noises.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Used for a Pun; at the Godsmoot, one of the priests gripes about the "archaic friggin' rules," and Frigg's high priest protests that they're not Frigg's fault, all the gods agreed to them.
  • Go Through Me: When Elan tries to shield a heavily wounded Roy from Tarquin, Tarquin checks he has enough hit points to survive it and then stabs Elan so hard that the sword passes right through Elan's body and into Roy. Taking the trope rather literally, there.
  • Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die: Elan's Rousing Speech prior to the Battle of Azure City.
  • Gunship Rescue: Julio Scoundrél gives the heroes an Airship Rescue when Tarquin has them on the ropes.
  • Grapes of Luxury: While "Checking In", Miko sarcastically suggests that the gang take in the luxury of being fanned and fed grapes. Haley tries to get that arranged, and is a bit annoyed to find that Roy gets the treatment later.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: When the gods were rebuilding the world, guess what the Monkey god wanted in.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress:
    • In "Battle Momentum", a Death Knight keeps travelling forwards until he looks down and notices his mount has been Disintegrated out from under him. Lampshaded by V:
      Vaarsuvius: W. E. Coyote's Law of Cartoon Inertia: Objects in motion tend to stay at the same altitude until gravity is noticed.
    • In "Block and Tackle", Tarquin and Vaarsuvius can exchange a few words before V decides to use Feather Fall on Haley, and she has yet to hit the ground.
    • In "Holy Enunciation", Elan has the time to rejoice having found Durkon, and then notice Sabine isn't holding him anymore ("Uh oh"), before falling.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • Xykon is the human-scale bad guy and the one really driving the main story, but the most powerful evil presence in the comic is the Snarl, hands down. Blackwing's vision of the inside of the rift shows that things may be more complicated...
    • The IFCC is somewhere above Xykon and below the Snarl. They're playing a much longer game that will ultimately result in storming the Good alignement planes and are less interested in the "Snarl Gate" plotline than the conflict that it generates.
    • The Dark One started most of the plot by creating the Crimson Mantle. We have yet to see how involved he'll be in the climax.
  • Green Around the Gills:
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Roy breaks a potion vial in Thog's face during the gladiator match. Ian Starshine, who sold him the potion, wonders if he should have charged him extra for a single-use Improvised Weapon.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Most noticeably in the "pin Roy's corpse" comic.
    • Lampshaded, naturally:
      Belkar: How about nut shots? Crowds love nut shots. Saget was on the air for like 8 years.
    • Ian Starshine apparently suffered one ten years prior that rendered him "sterile as a mule". Which makes Belkar's attempted Freudian Threat fall flat.
  • Ground-Shattering Landing:
    • Roy, although he takes it harder.
    • Downplayed by an Osmium Elemental summoned by Redcloak, which leaves cracks in the ground wherever it stands — it's a good 15 feet tall and made of the densest stable element in existence. Also subtly foreshadows Redcloak collapsing the tunnel a couple of strips later.
  • Group Hug: Thog is denied one in "We All Just Want to be Held Sometimes". Poor Thog.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Averted more than it's played straight.
    • Unfortunately for Elan and Haley, Tarquin is Genre Savvy and he makes sure the guards are too.
      Guard Instruction Manual: We do not have surprise inspections. Ever. Those inspectors in front of you? They're intruders. Get them.
    • Honourable mention also has to go to the evidently well-drilled Gobbotopia Dancing Lights flare code for alerting the entire city to the location and severity of Resistance activity, with a teleporting strike team of wights on call to respond to high-level encounters. Even the wights operate on a buddy system and have emergency whistles to summon Tsukiko in case of encountering clerics.

  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Therkla the half-orc seems to have suffered some of this. Lampshaded by Redcloak, who points out that despite being just as Always Chaotic Evil as goblins, Orcs are much more accepted in human settlements because humans like to interbreed with them for some reason.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Lizardfolks in general. Lampshaded by Gannji.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Miko Miyazaki, revealed at the end of a conversation she has with Soon's ghost as she lies dying. Luckily this saves her from the fate of being raised as a death knight by Tsukiko.
  • Hammerspace:
  • Hand Wave: In "Little Brother" (major spoilers), Malack gets around the three-day burial normally required to raise a vampire with an "obscure spell that I have unearthed in the course of my research." Given the Webcomic Time that would have been involved otherwise, this is probably a blessing.
  • Handy Feet: Out-of-action with a broken arm, Haley manages to pull off an important shot lying down and holding the bow with her foot.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: As of always, lampshaded when Elan considers multiclassing to wizard.
    Elan: It's true what they say: "Hard work may pay off in the long run, but laziness always pays off right now!"
  • Harmful to Minors: Vaarsuvius's children are targeted by an enemy, their legs broken, and their parent crucified. And then their other parent comes in, possessed, and tears the enemy apart from the inside.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:invoked In-Universe — Vaarsuvius' suggestion to Malack that he adopt children (citing the many orphans that live in the Empire of Blood) has become this upon the revelation that Malack is a vampire.
  • Hannibal Lecture:
    • The High Priest of Hel gives a brutal one to Durkon.
      High Priest of Hel: Oh, I'm sorry. Did you have an evil magic spirit inside your head controlling your actions then too? That's you. You said those words. You can hang there and pretend that you're so much nobler than I am, but for that one moment? You felt exactly what I feel. You are who you are on your very worst day, Durkon. Anything less is a comforting lie you tell yourself to numb the pain. And that's who I am. I am your worst day, personified. Hel may have created me, but she shaped me to fit perfectly in the hole in your heart... No self-righteous comeback? Just as well. All the better to focus on killing your friend.
    • A little later he tries to give another one to Roy. It backfires.
  • Hate at First Sight: Crystal and Haley immediately despise each other after their first meeting. One comment about shoes and one comment about hair and the two are instantly willing to kill each other. Notably, this makes Crystal Haley's rival, meaning she'll always be at at least the same level as Haley if not higher.
  • Hat of Flight: A gnome in Tinkertown is seen flying with a propeller beanie.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Redcloak kills Tsukiko when she threatens to reveal the details of Redcloak's plans to Xykon.
  • Hazy Feel Turn: Therkla, all over, largely because she's overly loyal to people who've been good to her personally without considering their larger motives. Even when convinced to switch sides, she can't fully commit to fighting people she used to side with. For her part, she naively insists she's not betraying anybody — she wants her mentor to keep his career (despite plotting multiple assassinations), but doesn't want Elan to get hurt (which doesn't mesh with his heroic instinct to protect others before himself).
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: From #789, when the Order needs an excuse to confer in private without Tarquin listening in.
    Elan: Uh, Dad? Haley and I need to go... uh... have sex.
    Tarquin: Well, you'll miss the big fight, but you do what you need to do.
    Haley: Come on, V. And bring the cat, just in case.
    Tarquin: ...Huh.
  • Head Turned Backwards: Sabine's only reaction to a Neck Snap from Miko is to make a mildly annoyed comment while standing there with her head facing the wrong way.
  • Hearing Voices:
    • Haley while her mind is fractioning into different aspects of her personality.
    • Vaarsuvius under the Soul Splice hears the whispers of the three evil spellcasters.
  • Heart Symbol:
  • Heavenly Blue: From Durkon's Holy Word to Devas.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Thor claims that the trees surrounding Valhalla have turned against their evil kin when it becomes obvious telling the tree-phobic Durkon and Minrah that trees are largely inanimate and thus not a threat isn't working.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X":
    • "Delayed Gratification":
      Demon Roach #1: Yeah! Let's bug out.
      Demon Roach #2: Heh... "bug".
    • "Splitting Up is Hard to Do":
      Haley: It's the only way to get Roy back, [Elan]. Durkon needs his body if he's going to raise him from the dead.
      Belkar: Heh heh, Durkon needs Roy's body.
  • He Knows Too Much: The Reptilian Ambassador tries to reveal evidence of General Tarquin's conspiracy to the Empress of Blood, and is Killed Mid-Sentence by one of Tarquin's allies.
  • Hell Hound: One of the remaining magic traps in Girard's ziggurat summons a giant hell hound.
  • Hereditary Curse: Eugene Greenhilt made a Blood Oath that neither he nor his descendants would be able to go into the afterlife until Xykon was destroyed. This curse binds him to his oldest offspring. Apparently the rules of the Celestial Realm give you credit for a good-faith effort, though, which is why Roy is able to get in.
  • Heroic Team Revolt: Roy's refusal to go back and save Elan from the bandits has the team up in arms. Even Belkar goes back for him. Roy redeems himself after having a My God, What Have I Done? moment.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • Two incredibly badass-looking adventurers in On the Origin of PCs (one with angel wings and a sword, the other a cloaked figure with four arms) are turned away by Durkon because Roy's already found the last two recruits he needed (Elan and Belkar). As they walk off, one suggests that they go storm the gates of Hell, but the other complains that "We did that last week."
    • Gather ye round, little children, and listen to the Ballad of Amun-Zora. The Captain of a unit from the Undefeatable Little Free City of Doom, sent by her superiors to seek help from a nearby warlord to end their seven-month siege at the hands of a rival empire, is betrayed! The troops he sends join the enemy's side and crush the resistance, deliberately killing her husband to free her hand, while she herself is locked away until such time as she agrees to marry the Evil Overlord. Freed as part of some unknown scheme by his vile spawn, she escapes to become the Rebel Leader, uniting the disparate enemies of the empire against their common foe. Also, she appears in about nine strips of this comic.
    • The halfling Frudu is occasionally shown on his mission to destroy the cursed vase known as the One Ming.
    • The Monster in the Darkness describes O-Chul this way, as a ruse to make Xykon think the Order aren't worth wasting time over, because there's a bigger hero unaccounted for who could be a threat to his plans. In fact he doesn't really fit the trope, since he gets some screen-time playing a support role to the heroes of this story. He does get his own spin-off prequel, though, in How the Paladin Got His Scars.
  • He Who Must Not Be Named: Hilariously mocked in "Half the Elf, Double the Fun".
    Warthog: I think you'll really like the next one. We call him... The One Who Must Not Be Named.
    Nale: Another one? Good gods, man, that's eleven so far who Must Not Be Named. Not to mention the four who Must Not Be Looked At, the two who Must Not Be Spoken To, and the one who Must Not Be Toilet-Trained.
    Thog: thog got to use a mop!
    Nale: If you bring me one more brat who's too trendy to have a name, I'll feed you your own tusks. And that includes any more "Wizards Formerly Known As" losers, too.
  • Hey, Catch!: Unusual form — Haley says "Catch." while firing two arrows at Tarquin. Of course, she knows full well he can catch them both, but Tarquin is hanging on for dear life to the railing of an airship at the time, and it results in him losing his grip.
  • Hey, That's My Line!: "Shhh! Principal's Coming!":
    Tsukiko: "Gate"? What gate?
    MitD: Hey, that's my line!
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker: Roy to Geoff.
    Roy: Excuse me. I just wanted to let you you know that this in no way reflects my views on the differently-abled.
    Geoff: Hu? What do you—
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Roy and Durkon dangling the kobold oracle upside-down by a window to get a third prediction, the first two being less than helpful.
  • High-Class Glass: Ambassador Gourntonk is a lizardfolk with a monocle.
  • Highly Visible Ninjas: The Goblin Ninjas are wearing black against a white background, but the atrocious spot and listen checks of the main characters cause them not to notice them. Even when the ninjas say things like "We're standing right here."
  • High on Homicide: After Crystal is reanimated as a pain-riddled Flesh Golem, she finds that she feels better when she's killing somebody. Haley immediately tosses her into a lava pit to stop her.
  • Hilarity Ensues: When Xykon describes how he got his crown, he says "I stole it from a librarian in Cliffport who — oops! — also turned out to be an archmage. Needless to say, hilarity ensued."
  • Hilarity Sues:
    • Used when lawyers abduct a Mind Flayer for breaching copyright.
    • Invoked by V to deal with a troublesome opponent who is also a ripoff of Drizzt.
    • Belkar sues Miko to prevent her from trying to Detect Evil on him. Since she's Lawful Stupid, she cannot help but comply to the restraining order.
    • Rodriguez then tries to serve another restraining order... on Belkar. It goes about as well as you could expect.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: Belkar's evilness is measured in kilonazis.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics:
    • A half-ogre with a flail tries this against high-level fighter Roy. Unfortunately for the half-ogre, Roy manages to take advantage of his predictability.
    • Belkar wisely takes this approach to fighting Miko after breaking out of jail. Bear in mind that Miko had successfully taken the entire party alive when they attacked her head-on.
  • Hitman with a Heart: As seen in "Talking Down", female Roy calls out the dwarven hitman on his threat to blow up the inn, noting that all of his behavior so far indicates a Never Hurt an Innocent mindset. He backs down and admit he would never cause the death of innocents. Unfortunately, the inn gets blown up anyway after Belkar, intent on some mindless slaughter, bumps into the hitman and causes him to light the fuse by accident.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Happens to the Oracle twice. The first time is off-screen, when he gives a wise-ass answer to Roy's question about where Xykon is located, and Roy dangles him out the window until he answers in a more meaningful way. When Roy comes back for more questions, the Oracle tries to hint to Roy that he could just tell Roy where Xykon is going next, but Roy is too smart by half and asks a ridiculously specific Literal Genie question that actually has a different, less accurate answer. The Oracle snarks to Roy about it, but Roy would have never done it if the Oracle himself hadn't been a jerk the first time.
    • Subverted. Malack gives Durkon a great deal of help researching the spell Mass Death Ward. Once it's revealed that Malack's a vampire, Durkon uses the spell to give himself a great advantage over him in their ensuing fight. However, Malack reveals that part of his "help" involved preparing a password that would automatically dispel the spell at his command; after all, "what kind of man would help someone he just met develop a means to protect a large group of people from himself?"
    • Played straight when Nale destroys Malack, unfolding a plan he's worked on for years, including using Malack's vampire spawn as rehearsal. Sure, it is masterly done, with just one little drawback: it frees newly-raised Durkon from Malack's control. Nale seems to think that the vampire dwarf will either ignore them or join with the Linear Guild, since he's now evil. But vampire Durkon instead kills Zz'dtri, forcing Nale to flee.
    • Also played straight when Bozzok pisses off Grubwiggler and starts insulting Crystal-Golem... whom Haley had just talked to about what is really happening here. Crystal kills him and then proceeds to beat the crap out of his corpse.
  • Hoist Hero over Head: The giant devil summoned by Qarr shortly lifts Durkon above his head while the dwarf is large-sized thanks to Thor's Mightand puts him on fire to boot.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Used every now and then.
    Tarquin: There's no need to run around like a cockatrice with its head cut off.
    • Combined with Unusual Euphemism by the elderly bandit chief, who substitutes "griffon puckey" for "bullshit".
    • Bandana refers to not having enough space to "swing a dead tressym".
    • Thor warns that the Snarl can go through a god "like a hot glaive through an ochre jelly".
  • Hollywood Density: A blade made entirely of starmetal would weigh three hundred pounds, according to the blacksmith who reforges Roy's sword. But with a density like that, the small piece that Roy carries around like it was nothing would probably weigh a good twenty-five pounds.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Zig-Zagged in the invasion of Azure City.
    • The battle is heavily based on attrition warfare, with any losses being simply zombified, but Redcloak employs some finesse by using elementals as heavy units to destroy the main wall, as well as a ninja infiltrator to open the main gate to the throne room.
    • Redcloak's tactics also become slightly more conservative over the course of the battle, as the Senseless Waste of Goblinoid Life starts to eat at his conscience. This also spurs his decision to take his own powerful magical abilities to the front line.
    • The trope is also parodied at one point, when an apparently mindless press of infantry against a stone wall is in fact a tactical decision to give their Death Knight commander a ramp of bodies to ride up.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: A Discussed Trope. The gladiator arc begins with the slavemaster warning the new prisoners of "strong homosexual undertones that will never be fully explored" if a stronger prisoner defends a weaker one.
  • Honorary Uncle:
    • Roy and Nale have this in common, both referring to their respective fathers' adventuring buddies as such ("Uncle Myrtok" and "Auntie Laurin", respectively). Although when Nale uses it on-panel, he is rather sarcastic.
    • Durkon referred to several people as his uncles and aunts in flashbacks to his childhood. They turn out to be complete strangers whom his mother had raised from the dead in place of his father, who was bound for a better afterlife.
  • Hook Hand:
    • Captain Axe has an axe hand.
    • Classic pirate Hook Hand in "The Return of Mail Call" (though used as a corkscrew).
    • The High Priest of Tyr has a hook replacing his right hand. Fitting, as in Norse Mythology Tyr lost his hand to Fenrir. This might be self-mutilation as part of the creed.
    • In this strip one of the airship crew members has a hook for a hand.
  • Hooking the Keys: Defied in a brief gag. One of the tips on a guide to prison guards written by their Genre Savvy Evil Overlord says: "Do not keep big dangly key rings fastened to your belt in plain sight"
  • Hope Spot:
    • In Start of Darkness, there's a point where Redcloak, reunited with Right-Eye after a lengthy period of separation, realizes how much he's missed his brother, how much he enjoys not having to worry about the Plan, and contemplates throwing it all in and starting a new life with his brother. Then Xykon shows up to put the kibosh on the reunion.
    • Awesome! The Azure City Resistance has recovered Xykon's Soul Jar! Now all they have to do is get it back to their base... oh. Oh dear.
    • Oh, no, Xykon shows up and kills Belkar! But Vaarsuvius comes in a Big Damn Heroes move and places a forcecage around Redcloak, leaving Xykon undefended against Roy's attacks, and Roy manages to kill Xykon — oh, wait, it's a Lotus-Eater Machine.
    • The Order is finally on its way towards Kraagor's Gate, the last Gate preventing the re-entry of the Snarl into the world, after defeating the Linear Guild, and... wait a moment, what do you mean with Vampire Durkon is actually a High Priest of Hel with his own agenda?
    • All but name-dropped in the title of "Ray of Hope," where it looks for a moment like Durkon has foiled the vampires' plot by breaking the roof and letting the sun in, only for the villain to realize he can simply move out of the way while Durkon is petrified for breaking the rules.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:
    • Things would have gone a lot better for Azure City if Miko hadn't concluded that the Order of the Stick and Lord Shojo were in a vast evil conspiracy with Xykon and Redcloak based on a series of deductive leaps that would leave a logician weeping.
    • Tsukiko, no doubt, falling for Xykon's Faux Affably Evil charm. The poor deluded soul seems to believe that he's hiding a caring heart under a tough exterior. Even the Monster in the Darkness has worked out Xykon's status as an nonredeemable villain. She also believes Redcloak to be a spineless wimp which is proven false when he kills her with minimal effort.
    • Celia as well, as shown by her misplaced trust in the guy who killed his brother in "A Seller's Market" and her acceptance of Haley's lies in "A Dish Best Served with +1d6 Cold Damage".
    • Elan is immensely reluctant to admit that his dad is a Lawful Evil general serving (or rather, running) a brutal dictatorship... At least, he was until the latter kicked the dog so hard that he couldn't deny it any longer. invoked
    • Ian Starshine starts out seeing Elan as evil to the core and doubting any of the Order have redeeming features. He goes on to bond somewhat with Belkar, who he seems to consider less evil than the others.
    • Girard Draketooth is one of the "doesn't trust someone he should" variety. He believed it would take Soon and his paladins less than 12 weeks to break the non-interference oath. Soon went to his grave keeping the oath and his paladins were opposed to the idea of getting anywhere near the other gates.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Hinted at with Belkar and Elan's comments about Owlbears. "I hope the owl was the male and the bear was the female..."
  • House Rules:
    • The verbal component of a spell is its name. The language of the speaker doesn't matter. Thus, Vaarsuvius is able to cast spells with a verbal component only even when under the effects of a baleful polymorph and thus only able to speak Lizard. (The bigger problem is the somatic component, as an elf turned into a lizard is lacking hands.)
    • Zz'dtri has a 3.0 edition version of the Fly spell that was house-ruled in, which lasts longer than the 3.5 edition version of the spell.
    • The Overland Flight spell can normally only be cast upon oneself. But in the OOTSverse, it can also be targeted at other people.
    • Mass Death Ward, which is normally an 8th level spell, is a 7th level spell in the OOTSverse.
    • Rings of Regeneration work a lot more quickly. Normally, a Ring of Regeneration only heals 1 hit point per level per hour. Tarquin's ring can cause visible healing in a single round.
    • Normally, the Protection From Alignment spells do not have any negative effects when used to protect a creature of the alignment being protected from. But in the OOTSverse, it gives them nasty headaches.
    • The Implosion spell does not have to be an instantaneous One-Hit Kill and can be interrupted.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Somewhat averted; sylphs like Roy's girlfriend Celia are supposed to be Small creatures, but Celia is "inexplicably Medium-sized." She's still rather petite compared to Roy, though.
  • Hulk Speak: thog most prominent example, but anyone with low enough intelligence score (like most orcs, ogres and a dwarf barbarian) tend to talk this way. Leading to the ultimate example, not nale, not-nale. And, being OotS, lampshaded.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: During the Empire of Blood arc, Elan and Haley evade Tarquin several times by giving bizarre excuses (like cleaning their pet orangutan) that Tarquin assumes are euphemisms for sex. Tarquin then starts inventing his own euphemisms based on Elan's excuses, like "scrubbing the monkey." Subverted when Elan runs out of decent excuses:
    Elan: Uh, Dad? Haley and I need to go... uh... have sex.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: To goblins, all the "proper" races are the real monsters. Humans, elves, gnomes, halflings... To these people, goblinoid lives are cheap.
  • Human Hammer-Throw: Tarquin demonstrates his skill at dwarf-throwing while disguised as Thog, grabbing Durkon by the beard and spinning in a blur of movement (shown in a rare-for-the-comic top view) before tossing him away inside the ziggurat.
  • Human Shield: During the Order's fight against Hel's vampires, after dominating her, Vampire Durkon orders Hilgya to give him her baby son Kudzu to dissuade Roy of throwing his sword again. Coupled with an Anti-Life Shell, the heroes are left with no safe way of hurting the master vampire.
    Vampire Durkon: Don't look at me like that. I promised not to harm the baby personally. If Roy throws his sword and hits the squirmy little brat, that's on him.
  • Hurricane of Puns:
  • Hybrid Power: The more divine "quiddities" go into making something, the stronger it is, which makes the Snarl stronger than anything else in existence, as it was made by all four pantheons before killing off the Eastern gods. Minrah offers a Phlebotinum Analogy about mutts being healthier than purebred dogs.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Roy asks the half-ogre in "Perfect Combo" if it is unwise to try the same tactic turn after turn. If you don't get it, Roy has been charging, and taking damage for no effect from the spiked chain/combat reflexes/stand still combo, 5 times counting the panel he asks it on. Judging by his expression in the last panel, though, he knew the cliff was there and purposely tricked the half-ogre into leaping off it.
    • Roy and Durkon's reaction to Haley's observation that Lawful Good types have a tendency to bully and try to force people to go along with their idea of "good" only proves her point. The strip the exchange appears in is called "Case in Point".
    • The following exchange, when Roy is in no mood for hijinks following the news of Durkon's death.
      Belkar: Gee, I know this comic can get longwinded, but this is—
      Roy: No Breaking the Fourth Wall.
      Elan: But Roy, you just
      Roy: Be quiet!

  • I Always Wanted to Say That:
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: In "Transference", Nale decides to try his luck fighting Roy. Roy then smiles and tells Nale this was a bad idea — because he had been holding back the urge to beat up someone who looks exactly like Nale for quite a while now.
  • I Am Spartacus: Parodied in "Under the Arena".
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Durkon has this after he discovers what Malack's bloodwart tea contains (hint: the name describes the ingredients).
  • I Broke a Nail: Elan recalls his mother frequently crying about "losing a nail" when he was a kid. When he meets his twin brother Nale who was taken by their father in the custody battle, it makes a bit more sense.
  • I Can't Believe I'm Saying This: Roy admits it about Belkar's opinion on the vampire.
    Roy: I don't think Belkar is lying — which, let's be clear, is not a sentence I'd ever thought I'd say — but I also can't assume that he's not letting his anger cloud his judgment.
  • Iconic Item: Roy Greenhilt's green-hilted sword, which his family is named after and which is the reason he became a fighter in the first place.
  • Idea Bulb:
  • Identical Panel Gag: Of the separated-by-a-few-pages variant:
    • When the Azurite fleet is fighting against sea trolls, after defeating them once, Hinjo and Elan unwittingly dump them overboard, unaware that scrags regenerate when in contact with water. The panel where the trolls board again and attack anew is identical to the one of the first assault two pages earlier.
    • During a battle against frost giants, Haley gets slammed against the floor with a greataxe wielded by a giant cleric. Next page, she gets slammed again, and beyond a minor detail (the giant now having Mind-Control Eyes), the panels are identical.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Shojo knows what he's doing is morally questionable, but he did it for the good of his city.
    Shojo: It's all well and good for you paladins to stick to your convictions, but if I make a mistake, half a million citizens pay for it.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Elan carries this constantly for laughs because he's the bard. All of the other characters alternate between carrying the Idiot Ball, carrying the Smart Ball, and behaving normally.
    • Lirian in Start of Darkness goes through more or less every power she has that WON'T work on a lich in her second duel with the newly lichefied Xykon. It's most likely a way for non-D&D players to be brought up to speed to all the powers and immunities of a lich, but still you'd expect an epic level ex-adventurer would not try using Poison on an undead creature.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place:
    • The Perilous Path of Crushing Doom.
    • In Start of Darkness there is "Helldeathdoomfire Volcano".
  • I Don't Pay You to Think: Subverted when Belkar says this to Vaarsuvius. V angrily retorts that a wizard is not paid to do anything but think.
  • I Fell for Hours: Judging from Roy's monologue, his famous fall takes at least a few minutes. (But then again...)
  • If We Get Through This...: Played with. When we first meet Kazumi and Daigo, they're nameless redshirts agreeing to go on a date when this is all over, who then volunteer to hold off the enemy to cover Elan's escape... they sound doomed, right? Sure enough, soon afterwards Kazumi is weeping over Daigo's mortally wounded form, saying that he can't die, they were going to go on that date... However, he gets better due to some Law Of Narrative Causality silliness, and they end up getting married and being raised to the aristocracy.
  • Ignored Enamored Underling:
    • Tsukiko to Xykon. While he appreciates her magical ability (as much as he appreciates anyone), he's weirded out by her advances and tells her to keep things professional. After Redcloak feeds her to her own wights and claims she was planning a coup, his reaction is basically, "Cool, we travel light."
    • The frost giant demigod Thrym's motives for supporting Hel are enigmatically hidden while the Order fight for their lives against his minions... turns out he's trying to impress her so she'll take him as her consort. He continues to hang around as a Sycophantic Servant.
    Thrym: Is that all I am to you? A resource to be used in your scheme?
    Hel: Yes! And I explicitly told you that from the start!
    Thrym: Yeah, but I didn't think you meant it.
  • Ignored Enemy: A ninja and a huecuva try to kill Hinjo at the same time, but end up fighting each other instead over who gets to claim the kill.
    Ninja: HEY! You got your hatred of all that's good and pure in my contract killing!
    Huecuva: Well, you got your contract killing in my hatred of all that's good and pure!
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Roy for Sabine, although he wasn't entirely unfazed by Haley's.
  • The Igor: Giro, Grubwiggler's stereotypical assistant. He isn't a real hunchback, though.
  • I Have No Idea What I'm Doing: Blackwing admits it when about to read a magical scroll. But he puts this in the "good news" category, since indeed the Magic Misfire resulting from his haphazard reading is way more useful to the current situation than the actual spell on the scroll.
  • I Have No Son!: More accurately, I have no brother: as Redcloak kills his brother Right-eye to protect Xykon, Redcloak's last words to him are "Goodbye, brother." Right-eye's last words are "Goodbye... Redcloak..." a term that he saw as an insult. His last words are rejecting that Redcloak is his brother at all.
  • I Have Nothing to Say to That: Frequently used for punchlines. See "A Is Always A" and "Hey! You! Get Off of My Cloud!" (spoilers).
  • I Have This Friend...: A form of this is used by Roy in strip #944 when Vaarsuvius asks him for advice. "When I was younger... I knew a wizard." It's obvious to any dedicated reader that he's talking about his father Eugene. Note that V sees through it immediately.
  • I Know You Know I Know:
    • Vaarsuvius does it in strip #789:
      Vaarsuvius: ...which in turn means that he knew that you would know that he was in the empire, and that you would know that he would know that you knew.
      Elan: Which means... that I'm totally confused.
    • Defied by Roy when the team is discussing the extent of Girard Draketooth's duplicity in "Stuck in the Sand Trap", including the possibility of a double-bluff.
      Durkon: Aye, but wha if Girard thought o' everythin' ye just said, an' did tha opposite, just ta trick us?
      Roy: I think we're quickly approaching the point that it doesn't matter if he did.
    • The High Priest of Hel outright says it (although only in his head) when suspecting a gnome head cleric to be hiding something.
      HPoH: Say it. Come on! I know, you know, I know you know, and now you know I know!
    • It gets even worse when the Order are planning an attack on a den of vampires:
      Belkar: This sucks! I thought we were gonna get the drop on Count Clownshoes and go all ninja stealth kill — but now he's waiting for us so he can spring a big trap!
      Roy: Now we know he's springing a trap.
      Belkar: Anyone would know that! He wasn't super subtle about it, so what benefit did we get from Dwarf Mom's Greater Peepin' spell??
      Roy: Ah, but he doesn't know that we know that it's a trap — and even if he did know we know, he doesn't know that we know that he thinks he knows that we don't know.
      Belkar: Sometimes I miss when you didn't bother explaining stuff to me.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight:
  • I'll Kill You!:
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!:
    • Elan does this a few times in his origin story. When he finally "doesn't tell" a Rogue hotelier the precise location of all their valuable loot, and it's all stolen, his Paladin master has enough and rides off without him.
    • Thog also does this when he's captured along with Nale, and the Order is pondering how to de-petrify a sylph.
      Thog: ha ha! they not have scroll!
      Roy: Scroll?
      Nale: Shut. Up.
      Thog: ha! stupid talky man not have scroll nale has! ha ha!
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder:
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Played for laughs in this interlude.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Well, a post-death version, anyway, in Start of Darkness. The previous bearer of the Crimson Mantle manifests in spirit form to his newly-minted acolyte, asking him to wear it and learn from it. The acolyte is reluctant to do so at first, because he's not qualified, but his master says (amid the carnage of scores of goblins being wiped out by the Sapphire Guard) that the acolyte is rapidly moving up in the church's hierarchy. The acolyte takes it, and gains powerful knowledge from it. He later adopts the nickname, Redcloak.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: Averted for laughs: elven childhood lasts a long time.
  • Impact Silhouette: The Monster in the Darkness "lightly" hits Miko and Windstriker out of a tower, leaving two holes, one human-shaped and one horse-shaped, in the wall.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • Roy is impaled on the nose-horn of a triceratops. He survives, albeit with severe injuries.
    • Two strips later, Elan attempts a Go Through Me defence of Roy's injured body, and Tarquin stabs him so hard that the sword passes right through his torso and into Roy.
  • Impersonating the Evil Twin: Elan manages to (finally) use his twin situation to his advantage when he tricks a prisoner of his father into attacking Nale by making said prisoner believe Nale is him.
  • Impersonation-Exclusive Character: Malack is revealed to be a vampire, which in this universe is a spirit that takes over a body and represses the previous owner's consciousness until they cease to exist. The real Malack died centuries before the story began.
  • Implied Death Threat:
    • Vaarsuvius gets very annoyed at the rest of the Order while they're stuck in the form of a lizard, and the first thing they do after being restored is to effortlessly Disintegrate a dragon that had been threatening them:
      Vaarsuvius: Fascinating. I cannot help but notice that the disintegrated remains of a dragon are indistinguishable from those of a human, or a halfling, or a dwarf.
      Roy: Point taken.
    • Subverted in another strip. Annoyed about being distracted from their research, Vaarsuvius threatens Elan.
      Vaarsuvius: Do as you wish, though I find it odd that one who just witnessed the haste with which I will remove that which distracts me from my crucial research would risk becoming just such a distraction one's self.
      [beat panel]
      Vaarsuvius: Because then I might be forced to remove the distraction.
      Elan: I don't get it.
      Vaarsuvius: YOU are the distraction in this case. Remove the distraction, which is you. Remove YOU with haste.
      Elan: ...what are you getting at?
      Vaarsuvius: Oh, forget it. It would take longer to make you understand than it would to research the next spell.
  • Implausible Deniability: Haley pulls this in an early comic (must be that Bluff skill of hers).
    Roy: So that statue had the gems pried out of it before you showed up?
    Haley: Right.
    Roy: [off panel] And those two goblins were killed —
    V:with green arrows.
    Roy: —and stripped of their possessions beforehand?
    Haley: Looks like.
    Roy: And that treasure chest, with footprints of your size leading up to it, your lockpick still in the lock, and a strand of long red hair snagged in the latch?
    Haley: [standing in front of a sack larger than her, brimming with gold and labelled "Haley's Loot"] Empty when I got here.
  • Improvised Lockpick: Haley picks a top-quality lock on a prison cell with nothing but two bits of straw and a word of encouragement from her love interest.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • Xykon kills the wizard Fyron Pucebuckle by beating the man to death with his own Wizzie Award.
    • "thog improvise!" — by breaking a door off its hinges and using it the batter Haley.
    • O-Chul takes out a Demon-Roach, Jirix, and Redcloak's right eye with a bar of his cage.
    • Belkar makes an angry mob back away from him... while armed with a pebble.
    • Roy shows us that Potions aren't just for drinking by smashing the bottle in Thog's face.
    • Roy again demonstrates he can think on his feet by using the stone lid of Girard's casket against a couple of fiends.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: In "Plan of Inaction", the team comes up with a strategy to deal with their current situation, only for their opponents to counter every move because they were planning it right in front of them.
  • I'm Thinking It Over!: In the second strip, the party is split into two teams, by the traditional method of Roy and Haley taking turns choosing someone. Eventually, Elan is the only one left, and it's Roy's turn to choose.
    Elan: Ooh! C'mon! Pick me!
    Durkon: Are ye gonna...
    Roy: I'm thinking.
  • Inconvenient Summons:
    • While Roy is fishing with his grandfather in the Lawful Good afterlife, the fish suddenly disappears off his hook. Roy's grandfather explains that it was summoned, and remarks that "someone must be having an underwater adventure".
    • Haley summons Celia (unintentionally) while she is sleeping. She is angry at first because she thinks that it's her mother to ask why she isn't married yet, but when it turns out to be Haley, that's okay with her.
    • In a Dragon strip, a celestial dog is summoned just before it could finish the cure for all diseases.
      Elan: Are you sure it's OK to summon celestials just to fight goblins?
      Durkon: It's just a dog. It be no harm, no foul.
      Fiendish Rat: [summoned by the goblin cleric] Darn it! I can't believe this guy summoned me RIGHT when I was alphabetizing my spice rack!
  • Industrialized Evil: Malack's plan for the Empire of Blood (after the death of Tarquin and his other mortal party members) was to institute industrialized mass sacrifice of sapients to Nergal, God of Death, while harvesting their blood to feed his vampire ruling caste.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog:
  • I Need You Stronger:
  • Ineffectual Death Threats: Belkar tends to consider any threats to his life as this (and to be snarky about it, too), since he has a high opinion of his fighting skills. To tell the truth, he's been right thus far. There's notably the instance with Crystal:
    Crystal: You little twit, I'm gonna kill you!
    Belkar: Yeah, and I'm gonna drop a house on you and sing about how I represent the Lollipop Guild. C'mon, let's keep our threats realistic, shall we?
    I mean, if you said, "You little twit, I'm going to temporarily inconvenience you!" I'd think, hey, she might really mean it!
  • Inferred Holocaust: Invoked. Vaarsuvius uses "Familicide" on an Obviously Evil Black Dragon. This spell kills everyone who shares the blood of the subject, regardless of their distance from the subject, along with all who share their blood. Dragons are Color-Coded for Your Convenience, so nobody really cares about the death of about 1/4th of the planet's black dragon population. The problem is, "the propensity for both dragons and humans to breed outside their species is well-documented." Order of the Scribble illusionist Girard's surname is Draketooth for a reason. V's Familicide spell killed every one of the Draketooth family. And as the Draketooths propagated by seducing random bystanders and absconding with the resulting children, all those bystanders, along with their families, are dead as well. At least Word of the Giant confirmed that Draketooth was an isolated case, otherwise the death toll could well be even higher...
  • Infinite Canvas: Occasionally.
  • Informed Attractiveness: A few, due to the art style.
    • Samantha or Haley are supposed to be very beautiful, despite having the same basic design as every other human character.
    • Similarly, Elan has an 18 charisma in a system where an 18 represents the peak of human perfection. He is incredibly attractive. Not that we can tell.
    • Julia Greenhilt is apparently the object of lust for most of the boys her age, and judging by her attempts to flirt with Durkon she's used to getting attention from older men as well ("This always works on my teachers..."). Of course, as far as the readers are concerned she's just another stick figure.
  • Informed Attribute: Nobody is aware that Haley is wearing long pants until she points it out.
  • In Its Hour of Need: Hinjo does not want to leave Azure City in its hour of need. It takes four separate appeals to persuade him. (And then Belkar gets into the act, just to get a chance to insult him.)
    Haley: And second, Azure City's hour of need was, like, three hours ago, and you were there for that.
  • In Love with the Mark: Therkla. She's ultimately killed for it.
  • Inner Thoughts, Outsider Puzzlement:
    • When the Order first meet Nale and the Linear Guild, right after they agree to team up Nale goes into a Diabolical Inner Monologue. Unlike most cases where such a monologue is implied to happen instantly or to just be for the sake of the audience, Nale's goes on for so long that eventually Haley asks Roy why the hell Nale is just standing there zoned out.
    • The vampire spirit that possesses Durkon's body thinks that Durkon is showing him irrelevant memories in an attempt to invoke this trope and make the other members of the Order notice that Durkon is Not Himself. The vampire mocks this, claiming that since it's viewing Durkon's memories at the sped of thought, no amount of stalling can take long enough to make others notice that something is wrong. However, the end of the battle between the vampire, its spawn, and the Order in Thor's temple shows that a sufficiently important, complex, or weighty memory (or series of memories) can in fact distract the vampire long enough for others to notice.
  • Innocent Innuendo:
    • Played for laughs in "Just Like on Three's Company".
    • One from the Monster in the Darkness:
      MitD: Your screws have thumbs on them? Neat! I wonder if they can screw themselves...
    • Everyone wants a ride on Hinjo's junk.
    • At an inn, Haley and Vaarsuvius share a room, while the guys are next door. The guys can hear them talking through the thin wall, and it sounds like they're comparing breast-sizes, and V asks if they can touch Haley's. The two are actually comparing some gems, and Haley guesses that the guys are overhearing their conversation, thinking they're doing something dirty.
    • Bandana has never seen much use for wands. Now, if you remember she's a lesbian...
  • Insane Troll Logic:
  • Instant Ice: Just Add Cold!:
    • Vaarsuvius's Cone of Cold.
    • An intermittent effect of Haley's "Icy Burst" bow. It also produces a pleasant peppermint aroma.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: At the Godsmoot, while the High Priestess of Odin is announcing the order of the day for the meeting, Roy is ignoring her words and arguing with Wrecan that he should go looking for Belkar before he'd cause trouble. He even adds "...there's nothing anyone can say that will stop me from—" just as the Lady of Odin concludes that the gods are going to vote on whether they should destroy the world or not. That shuts up Roy real fast.
  • Instant Runes: "I See a Red Robe and I Want to Paint it Black". (Über spoilers!)
  • Institutional Apparel: Prisoners in Cliffport City wear black-and-white stripped shirts. Elan is Genre Savvy enough to know that the first thing you do after breaking from jail is to change clothes.
  • Insult to Rocks:
  • Internal Retcon: Forms the conclusion to the Greysky City arc, though how long it will last is unknown.
  • Interrogated for Nothing: Redcloak tortures O-Chul for weeks after the capture of Azure City to get him to reveal details of the guardianship of the remaining Gates, details that O-Chul doesn't have because his order put Honor Before Reason and never violated their oaths to find out. Later, it is revealed that Redcloak has known for a long time that O-Chul really didn't know anything, but has been continuing the torture anyway as a ruse to keep Xykon in Azure City long enough to solidify the hobgoblin regime.
  • Interrogating the Dead:
    • Played for laughs; Xykon needs Redcloak to cast Speak with Dead so he can ask a dead goblin where his keys are.
    • Later, the Order of the Stick tries the same spell on a deceased Draketooth clan member. Just as Durkon warned, though, corpses are rather poor informants.
  • Interrupted Bath: The Oracle of the Sunken Valley apparently can't take a bath without being interrupted by a visit from adventurers.
    Oracle: Jeez, I can peer into the murky depths of the future, yet I always seem to get interrupted during bath time.
  • Interspecies Romance: "Come here, my snuggly green cutie-pie!" The orcs are quite squicked out when hearing half-orc/half-human Therkla's (one-panel) backstory, which in a subversion of the expected Rape as Backstory of most half-orcs, features Sickeningly Sweethearts.
  • I Regret Nothing: Fruit Pie the Sorcerer's dying words.
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    • In the prequel On the Origin of PCs, after Roy claims that wizards put too much faith in magic, his father Eugene immediately proves his point by asserting loudly that magic is perfect and all-powerful.
    • In "Case in Point", Chaotic Good(ish) Haley points out that lawful types have a tendency to make other people agree with them... or else. Lawful Good characters Roy and Durkon immediately tell her that this is absurd and to stop with the crazy talk.invoked
  • Ironic Echo:
    Elan: You know, the first time I met Nale, we wound up in almost this exact same situation. He wound up hanging over a pit of monsters, and I pulled him up. He didn't understand why I did it. I told him that it was because I was the Good twin, not the Neutral twin....But see, Dad, that's the thing. I'm not a twin anymore. And you're not the real villain. Don't worry. You'll live.
    • "Especially you." were the last words Haley told Crystal before killing her. 330 strips later, Crystal returned as a flesh golem rants at Haley, "I HATE EVERYONE! ESPECIALLY YOU!"
  • Ironic Name:
    • The prequel book, Start of Darkness, gives us a fat demon lord named "Xyklon the Consequential". He is of no consequence.
    • Lord Tyrinar the Bloody was neither tyrannical nor bloody and was little more than a Puppet King. He was mostly a whiner who would have been fine with converting the country he "ruled" into a democracy.
  • Ironic Nickname: Invoked by the Thieves' Guild. Old Blind Pete, formerly "Eagle-Eyed", advises Celia that when doing business with criminals, it's best not to nickname yourself after a body part you can't afford to lose. Turns out this doesn't cut it, as he learns when his old betrayed friend decides to start calling him "Brainy Pete" just before bashing his skull in.
  • Irony:
    • Girard believed that Soon would betray the oaths for some self-appointed authoritarian reason and booby-trapped the location he gave. Given what he says about Serini and the backdoor summon clause in Dorukan's Cloister spell, Soon was the only one who didn't betray the oath.
    • Malack greatly helps Durkon in his research for the Mass Death Ward spell, allowing access to his extensive library and "spell-checking" the dwarf's first draft. This same spell is later the major factor giving Durkon the advantage in his fight against the vampire cleric. Though that is subverted when Malack reveals he was smart enough to leave a backdoor password specifically so the spell could't be used against him.
    • Belkar has been a sociopath pretending to have character development into "chaotic neutral" territory. It turns out he really HAS gotten a LOT more innocent, and has been pretending now to be the same psycho sociopath he had been before.
    • Tarquin was heavily dismissive of Nale as a villain and a foil to Elan, only for his final confrontation with Elan to go almost the exact same way as Nale's first confrontation did: with him hanging off a precipice begging Elan to save him. Only with Tarquin, Elan wasn't feeling so generous due to his twin's recent murder. Elan even lampshades it.
    • Despite his extensive multi-classing and self-proclaimed intellect, Nale is somehow a worse jack-of-all-trades than his brother. Elan clearly is the superior combatant and also a useful healer and support.
    • The Thieves' Guild wanted to spin Haley's resignation from them as a ploy, so anyone who might hire non-Guild thief runs the risk of them actually being a Guild plant who will murder them for hiring scabs. Roy explicitly refused to hire Haley unless she was a Guild-approved thief because he didn't want to be murdered for hiring scabs and she had to forge her licence.
  • Is That What They're Calling It Now?: Elan's father understands a hastily made-up cover story about washing a pet orangutan for this trope. And he follows the lead, too.
  • Is the Answer to This Question "Yes"?: Belkar has his own version of the response in "Change of Plans":
    Roy: Belkar, can you bust out of here on your own?
    Belkar: Does Durkon need to bathe more?
  • It Has Been an Honor:
  • I Think You Broke Him: The last panel of "Easy Come, Easy Go".
  • I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Celia designs her summoning talisman to break from energy blasts, completely unaware that this was not something normal humans could do at will, which leads to some unfortunate consequences when Roy fails to use it. She can also detect abjurations like the Cloister spell through the way her teeth tingle. Because she thinks everybody can do the same, she only mentions it in passing, assuming Haley already knows about it; when she finds out Haley doesn't, she actually gets angry about how worthless human(oid) senses seem to be compared to her own.
  • It's Personal:
  • It's the Best Whatever, Ever!:
  • I Want Grandkids:
  • I Would Say If I Could Say: Redcloak points out to Xykon that since Kraagor killed thousands of goblins while he was alive, he doesn't care what disrespectful things the lich does to his memorial statue, up to and including pissing on its face... but he then adds that this particular course of action would bring up some biology questions (presumably related to Xykon not actually having any).


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