The Order of the Stick provides examples of the following tropes:
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- Painting the Medium: The speech bubbles for certain groups or characters under special effects are different colors and/or shapes as detailed under Speech Bubbles.
- Paint It Black: This happens at least four times in the comic. Vaarsuvius, Miko, and Durkon each receive one of these, while Belkar gets an inversion when given a temporary Wisdom boost. The title of the strip which has Vaarsuvius' transformation actually references the song/trope title as well, as V's robe is, in fact, painted black.
- Pair the Spares: Parodied in the Order's illusory "Happy Ending" montage; after Elan/Haley and Roy/Celia get The Big Damn Kisses, Elan imagines Banjo kissing a lady puppet. Deconstructed in the next couple of strips; he also imagines his father and mother getting back together, but it's the fact that this would be totally out-of-character and schmaltzy that clues him in that they're trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine.
- Palette Swap: Tarquin and most of his companions, as seen in some flashbacks. They change their colors according to the current nation they're "advising" (plus greying hair as they grow older), but keep the same design of clothes and/or armors. Tarquin even has his armor specifically enchanted to change color because it comes in handy for how often he changes the flag he's under.
- The Pardon: Tarquin offers Roy one. Roy manages to get him to pardon Belkar, Haley's father Ian, and Ian's brother-in-law Geoff as well. Ian thinks it's a trick, though.
- Parody Magic Spell: The Harry Potter parody character uses "Stopus Badguyus!" when trying to repel Thog.
- Passing Notes in Class: Haley combines this with Arrow Gram as a gag during the Azure city battle, the arrow hitting a hobgoblin mook about to attack Elan. Said arrow has a cute romantic note on notebook paper. Hinjo plays up the role of the exasperated teacher who takes the note and requests to see Elan after class, er, battle.
- Pass the Popcorn:
- People's Republic of Tyranny: People's Democratic Dictatorship.
- Percussive Pickpocket: Some kids try to pull this on Durkon in "Too Slow".
- Pet the Dog:
- Belkar, who takes great joy in ending humanoid life, adopts Shojo's cat and is fiercely protective of it; it and the dinosaur he tames are among the few creatures he doesn't actively loathe.
- Tsukiko likes the dead a little too much, trying to win Xykon's approval and viewing the undead she makes as her "children". Her reasoning? If Humans Are the Real Monsters, then the undead, as the opposite to the living, must be better.
- Even though Tarquin is a mighty warlord, he's still willing to dedicate a day to bonding with his estranged son. Except that every place they went to reminded the reader of how terrible a person he is.
- When we see Xykon pet the dog, he presents it as a slap in the face to Redcloak, although it's entirely possible he really did think Jirix had at least earned a Raise Dead spell.
- Phlebotinum Analogy:Lord Shojo: As the gods pulled on the last few strands, the new world formed in the same planar space as the Snarl, shunting it into a tiny demiplane from which it could not free itself. The gods had been clever and built their planet to exist in multiple coterminous dimensions, thus blocking the only vibrational frequencies the Snarl could have used to escape from its cell.
Vaarsuvius: He means our world is merely the padlock on the jailhouse door of reality.
- Minrah asks if the increasing power of beings created by more than one divine "quiddity" is anything like "mutts being healthier than purebred dogs". Thor commends her on an excellent analogy.
- Pie in the Face: Redcloak barters ten minutes of Xykon's attention to discuss strategy with this old gag, spicing it up by having acid-spitting beetles in the banana cream pie to fit better with the lich's tastes.Redcloak: Don't go anywhere, I've still got a coconut custard that has "siege engine disposition" written all over it.
- Pietà Plagiarism: Therkla's death.
- Pinball Projectile: Lucky shot variant during the Battle of Azure City; subverted in that the poisoned arrow doesn't hit anybody.
- Pinned to the Wall: Used in "Shock and Awwwwww". To stop him from falling, Haley pins Roy to the wall of an earthquake-created chasm by shooting an arrow into his groin. Roy's probably happy he's already dead for that.
- Pirate Girl: Given the choice between pirate and ninja, Haley declares this suits her better.
- Humorously used to hide the genitals of naked characters (mostly Elan). Because, you know, stick figures...
- Used in a flashback in one of the prequel books. Eugene casts an illusion spell, which pixilates the frame. His teacher Fyron decides it's time to teach him about image resolution.
- Placebo Eureka Moment: Expecting his father's ghost to turn up and haunt him again, Roy talks to him anyway, and comes to a realisation about his treatment of Elan.
- Planning with Props: The Azure City war council is planning the battle by using prepainting plastic figurines. Problem is, they have trouble finding accurate ones, so they improvise.General Chang: No, sir, the bugbears are the hobgoblins. The hobgoblins are the zombies.
- Player Character: The protagonists are officially labeled this, earning them a special status in the universe within the webcomic. Lampshaded when goblins hand out "I Killed a PC and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt" tees.
- Please Select New City Name:
- After nearly one year of occupation by the hobgoblins, Azure City is renamed Gobbotopia City.
- Names of towns and countries change regularly in the volatile Western Continent. For example, Bleedingham (capital of the Empire of Blood) was formerly known as Terrorburg (capital of Tyrinaria).
- Please Subscribe to Our Channel: The incentive comics to encourage people to vote for them on Buzzcomics.
- Please Wake Up: In #1130, in the background, Mr. Scruffy is trying to rouse an unconscious Belkar. By doing so, the cat activates Belkar's "protection from evil" clasp, countering the vampire's domination and waking him up from the pain, allowing him to attack the High Priest of Hel.
- Plot Armor: Being based on RPG rules, more plot-important characters tend to be higher-level and therefore tougher. Then-nameless Red Shirt Daigo actually manages to overcome a fatal injury simply by revealing his name.
- Plummet Perspective:
- In "Silencing Descent", we have a downward perspective as Belkar is falling down the mountain sporting the Godsmoot Church, with the valley faaar away below. Belkar happens to survive, though, since — as we learn later — he owns a feather fall item.
- "End of Overtime": The building where the Dwarf Council of Elders is held is surrounded by a deep chasm. When the Order of the Stick and their dwarf allies fight for its access, the ramp created by Durkon with a Wall of Stone spell is broken by the giant Death Worm. This leaves Sigdi Thundershield clinging one-armed to the ledge while Kandro struggles with the monster and Hoskin reaches for her. We get one panel showing the apparently bottomless pit, with some rocks and Sigdi's axe falling down.
- Point That Somewhere Else: During Elan's first encounter with Tarquin, the latter bends Elan's rapier away from his face with the tip of a finger.
- Pokémon Speak: "TEEVO!"
- Poke the Poodle: In the Dragon Magazine comics, The Temple of the Shrouded Overlord believe that the Ancient Overlord will bring about a thousand year reign of darkness. To honor this despicable plan, they make a big deal out of forcibly extinguishing street lamps.Goblin Priest: The eternal night begins NOW!
- Polar Opposite Twins: Elan and Nale.
- Police are Useless: Subverted in the Tinkertown arc. When Haley and Bandana are attacked by Crystal as a golem, the town's defense force shows up and initially makes things worse by zapping Crystal with a lightning gun (which heals and powers up golems). After that little flub they become competent and effective at assisting Haley and Bandana.
- Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: Malack versus Durkon — at least that's how Malack seems to see it. Really, his attempts to find a "compromise" are selfish at best, and Durkon is infuriated by his assumption of the moral high ground when the dwarf had just caught him in the act of trying to turn his teammate into a vampire.
- Poor Communication Kills:
- Literally. If Celia had explained that magic was required to break her talisman and summon her, Roy's death could have been avoided altogether. She assumed everyone could shoot lightning from their fingers.
- Lampshaded (of course) and defied in a later strip, where Elan specifically tells Haley the whole story about Therkla, despite the fact that bardic tradition demands he "withhold it all so that at some later point, you can accidentally learn an incomplete version and jump to all the wrong conclusions, thus leading to entertaining dramatic conflict later in our relationship."
- Girard Draketooth concealed the location of his gate from everybody and told them it was at a random spot in the desert, as explained in this strip. It really bites him in the butt when he failed to foresee that people who weren't Soon Kim might go looking for the Gate.
- In "Cold Blooded", it's almost literal.
- Vaarsuvius had a lot of opportunities to talk to Roy about the things they did and learned while Roy was dead. The planet inside the rift, for example, or Vaarsuvius' debt to the fiends. Either might have prevented the situation in "Two Paths".
- Durkon is so honorable, he certainly would have understood being exiled if they had simply told him the reason, i.e. a prophecy that he would bring destruction the next time he returns home. Instead, they make up an excuse about him being sent on a diplomatic mission and throw him out without even allowing him to say goodbye to his mother, leading him to bitterly curse them. It's this event that drives Vampire Durkon to destroy the Dwarven homeland.
- Porn Stash:
- How V ascertains a dragon's adolescence.
- Elan's mother has a secret collection of Julio Scoundrél pictures in her bedside drawer.
- Potty Emergency: "The Most Important Quest".
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: One or two of Tarquin's magic items.Elan: Yeah right. Like I would use your crazy evil ring that you probably, like, tortured somebody to death or something to give it magic.
Tarquin: Now, that is quite enough, young man. I am frankly offended that you would even suggest I would do such a thing to — wait, who do you consider a "somebody"?
Tarquin: Fine, fine, I'll keep the ring, then.
- The Power of Legacy: O-Chul allows takes responsibility for the destruction of Soon's gate to prevent further tarnishing of Miko's legacy.
- The Power of Love: Elan telling Haley, "I believe in you," provides her with a circumstance bonus on her Open Locks roll sufficient to open a difficult lock, allowing the party to (momentarily) escape the Azure City prison.
- Power Perversion Potential:
- Haley takes advantage of V's invisibility sphere to grope Elan.Haley: I have 8 ranks in Use Rope!
Haley: Shut up.
- It's heavily implied that Sabine's shapeshifting finds its uses in her relationship with Nale... but then, she's a succubus, it comes with the territory.
- Haley takes advantage of V's invisibility sphere to grope Elan.
- Powers via Possession: Sort of; the Soul Splice leaves the host in control.
- Pragmatic Villainy:
- In Start of Darkness, Xykon refuses to do any villainous scheme involving deflowering virgins. Because it's like giving a guy who doesn't know carpentry a hammer and expecting him to build you a house.
- Belkar, after one of his shoulder demons convinces him that saving Hinjo's life will work out better for him in the long run than letting him be killed by an assassin.
- Tarquin is The Man Behind the Man and plans on remaining so as long as he's able, and he is ruthless in his goals and means, but is Genre Savvy enough to try and help his son. (Mostly since his goal is to rule like a king, then get immortalized in story form when his son offs him for being a tyrant.) And if Xykon flattens the world... well, there would be nothing left to rule, now would there?
- Tarquin's teammates also display this. When he asks them to throw into a fight to kill most of the Order (in order to motivate Elan), they refuse because they don't think satisfying his personal "story" is worth their time, or the lives of the good soldiers he's already throwing away.
- Precision F-Strike:
- Xykon using "Shit." in Start of Darkness.
- When Haley is stuck speaking in cryptograms, Miko tells her the gods have cursed her for her greed. Her response is a single four-letter word and a dirty look. Since she has no other lines in that strip, it's impossible to decode what she said — could be as innocent as "Ouch" or "Darn" — but it seems likely it was something rather more abrasive.
- "Thog says, fudge the police!"
- Precursor Heroes: The Order of the Scribble.
- Pregnant Badass: Kazumi more than holds her own against an entire squad of ninjas. And provides the page image in the process.
- Prehensile Tail: Malack uses his to grapple (warning: spoilers) during his fight with Durkon, simultaneously revealing that he's a Snake Person rather than a Lizardfolk.
- Prematurely Bald:
- Durkon has been bald since he was fifteen years old.
- Eugene Greenhilt lost his hair as a young man, and his son Roy shaved his to "beat genetics to the punch".
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
- Belkar to a goblin mook:Belkar: I got a riddle for you. What's green and black, squeals like a pig, and has two pieces of steel where its lungs used to be? [stab] You.
- Unnamed cleric to Old Blind Pete (encouraged by Belkar):Cleric of Loki: Maybe we ought to start calling you... Brainy Pete.
- Lampshaded when Haley is about to kill Bozzok. She gives a rather boring one-liner ("End of the road for you."), but Belkar interferes:Belkar: WAIT!
Haley: Ugh, what?
Belkar: Don't you think you should make some kickass one liner before you finish him off? You know, Arnie style?
Haley: Oh yeah, right. I forgot.
- Elan delivers one to Kubota after the latter killed Therkla, though Kubota surrenders before Elan can actually kill him:Elan: You were her captain... now you're going down with her ship.
- Redcloak gives the Resistance one of these, right before he wipes them out completely.
- In strip #906, Nale gets one by nonchalantly commenting on the weather. It must be seen to be understood.Nale: Beautiful day, don't you think? Not a cloud in the sky.
- Tarquin, just like his sons, gets one: "As you wish, son."
- Belkar to a goblin mook:
- Pressure Plate: A staple of the traps encountered by the Order. Vaarsuvius falls victim to a nasty one in "Lack of Foresight".
- Pride: Vaarsuvius; Daimyo Kubota; Nale to some degree, and a few others.
- Prison Rape: Talked about and implied.
- Product Placement: Of the comic's own latest product, no less.
- Prompting Nudge: Celia once disguises as a half-fiendish necromancer to trick hobgoblins guards, with Haley and Belkar pretending to be corpses. However, the guards get suspicious and demand she demonstrates her necromancy. When Belkar doesn't initially respond to "Darkblood Gloomgloom" pronouncing a fake incantation, Celia smacks him.Celia as Darkblood Gloomgloom: I said, "ARISE, dead halfling corpse that is right in front of me, and take a semblance of life!" NOW!
Belkar as undead: OW! OK, OK, I'm arising already.
- Pronoun Trouble: When talking about Vaarsuvius, others intentionally construct sentences to avoid pronouns, or use the nickname "V" in places where one would expect "he" or "she". V does get referred to by various genders, but Word of the Giant is that that's what the person believes. Taken even further with the brief look at V's family — V's mate is only ever referred to as such, never "husband" or "wife" — who refer to V exclusively as "Other Parent" as translated from Elven.
- Prophecy Twist: After a twist with Belkar's prophecy of "drawing his last breath" was Jossed, we get a new twist for another prophecy: How will Durkon go home? Posthumously. Now he's a vampire.
- Proportional Aging: Elves, which has been the source of several jokes. According to V, the biggest downside of an elven lifespan? Twenty years in diapers.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Lampshaded by Elan, when a dinosaur intervenes at the right time to prevent the grisly death of two of their rivals, while chomping several unnamed guards.Elan: Hooray, the people whose names we know are saved!
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: According to Redcloak, the hobgoblins are an evil-tinted version of this trope with a soldier-race stripe, and they have many of the trappings: Their society places heavy emphasis on their military, Redcloak becomes the new Supreme Leader via Klingon Promotion and in the build-up to the Siege of Azure City, many unnamed hobgoblins express excitement at the chance to fight the humans as well as the chance to invade a city and grind it under their heel. Deconstructed when Redcloak realizes mid-battle that he's taking advantage of their warlikeness by treating them as expendable reserves, and resolves to fight more tactically to protect a race he has responsibility over.
- Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Redcloak commands a group of undead to kill each other once they have Outlived Their Usefulness.
- "Psycho" Strings: Parodied in "Mean Girls".
- Ptero Soarer: A pteranodon is big and strong enough to be used as flying mount by a man in armor. Standard for the genre, really.
- Puff of Logic:
- ""Didn't we leave our horses behind at the inn we blew up when Miko captured us?".
- Attempted by Vaarsuvius in "Immaterial Components", when the wizard uses their Common Sense (caps included) to aid in the Banishment of an enormous devil which is in clear violation of the Square-Cube Law. Doesn't work.
- Pulling the Rug Out: Tarquin's teammate does this with a flying rug. To steal the rug, of course.
- Pummeling the Corpse: Crystal easily kills Bozzok by punching clean through his chest, but continues to beat his dead body in retaliation for the torture he put her through.
- Elan's prestige class depends on puns for power. Naturally, the ones he comes up with later in battle fall into the incredibly lame variety.
- This also serves as lots of the jokes cracked by the Demon-roaches.
- Strip #418 is just full of them.
- "... This is a cart of gophers, isn't it?"
- "Protecting my brain still constitutes self-defense."
- They had theurge for a snack!
- Pun-Based Title:
- Four of the six books published so far. On the Origin of PCs (Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species), Start of Darkness (Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness), No Cure for the Paladin Blues (the song, "Ain't No Cure for the Summertime Blues") and War and XPs (Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace).
- Many strip titles also fall under this trope, but a special award has to go to "Clever-Blasting God-Stoppers."
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
- Purgatory and Limbo: Played With: the Lawful Good heaven is shown to have a Fluffy Cloud Heaven — like entry area where the newly deceased wait in line to be checked out by the Celestial Bureaucracy to see if they qualify to be admitted to Heaven proper. Player Characters, however, can optionally just wait there until they are resurrected/reincarnated.
- Pyrrhic Victory: "Took a Level in Sauceror" "Plane Shift!"
- Rainbow Pimp Gear: Defied Trope. There is a Running Gag early on that Haley is in possession of a powerful pair of magical Boots of Speed, but refuses to wear them because they're lime green. Later on she gets a tailor to dye them to match the rest of her outfit, but they still glow green when their effect is activated.
- Reaching Between the Lines: Not only can Tiamat call you on five different lines at once, you also have to worry about fire, lightning, gas, cold and acid coming out of the receiver.
- Reality Ensues:
- In keeping with his class's mechanical ability to grant inspiration to his party members to improve their abilities, Elan tries to sing songs to help Roy bluff and V concentrate. Both of them are foiled instead because Elan tells the subject of the bluff check that Roy is bluffing and his song only annoys V. Another time, he tries singing to improve his and Haley's chances at moving silently, only for Haley to remind him it's a textbook example of a situation where it doesn't work.
- Late into the story, Durkon has a heartfelt reunion with his mother Sigdi after being exiled from the Dwarven lands for years. The party assumes that Sigdi had no way of knowing of Durkon's whereabouts since he was immediately tossed out on short notice. However, it's then revealed that Durkon had been keeping contact with Sending (the magical equivalent of a video message), and had in fact talked with her last week.Durkon: Wha's the point o' havin' long-range commun'cation magic if'n ye cannae use it ta tell yer loved ones yer safe?
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Roy to Miko, Vaarsuvius to both Miko and Belkar at the same time, Redcloak to Miko, and Hinjo to Miko (she really gets a lot of these, doesn't she?).
- Elan gives one to V in #596, by conjuring an illusion of Belkar congratulating V on the elf's actions.
- Xykon delivered a particularly nasty one to Vaarsuvius on the nature of true power. In general, this is Xykon's speciality, and he even mentions he makes a habit of giving such speeches to "learned wizards" like V.
- And in #830, Redcloak to Tsukiko.
- In #881, we get Belkar giving one to Roy.
- Subverted in #500. Roy's about to launch into one towards his father, when he suddenly has an epiphany and decides that his father isn't worth it, since if everything he's been through hasn't made him want to be a better man then a few insults from Roy won't do it.
- In #906 Nale gives a brutal one while killing Malack.
- The shortest one in the comic, yet no less accurate:Julio Scoundrèl: I think that's half your problem, T. You always think everything is about you!
- The High Priest of Hel gives a lot of these, but this one to Durkon is particularly brutal.
- Rebel Leader:
- The paladin Thanh is "nominated" to lead the resistance in Azure City. The position originally belongs to Haley, until she and Belkar leave in order to resurrect Roy.
- In the Empire of Blood arc, Hero of Another Story Amun-Zora plays this role. A large part of Elan's character development involves him realizing that it can't be him (whatever traditional storytelling tropes might demand), because the Order's existing quest to stop Xykon and Save the World is more important than defeating his small-fry Evil Overlord father.
- Recap Episode: Elan creates one for strip #864 because everyone might need a refresher after a 3-month hiatus.
- Recursive Reality: Possibly. Inside the rift, there is a planet. What is on the planet is unknown. Common theories are that it's the original world supposedly destroyed by the Snarl, it's the Snarl itself, it's a new planet created by the Snarl, and many other theories. In the fourth book's commentary, Rich Burlew Josses the idea that it's our Earth.
- Redemption Equals Death:
- Subverted with Miko.
- Played tragically straight with Therkla.
- Red Shirt: Played with, subverted, lampshaded, and played straight, sometimes within mere strips of one another. Redcloak, as hinted by his name, was originally supposed to be one, before being more heavily developed.
- Red Shirt Army: Azure City's army, and most of the Sapphire Guard. (Except for members whose names are known.)
- Reflexive Response: Haley gets to play with Tarquin's arrow-catching reflexes by firing two arrows toward his head while he's hanging on the railing of the Mechane. He does snatch both out of instinct, but doing so makes him lose his grip on the side of the ship.
- Reforged Blade: The hereditary Greenhilt Sword, which is broken by Xykon during their first confrontation. Reforged with Starmetal, it's now a +5 Sword, with extra bonuses and neat glowy effects against Undead.
- Reforged into a Minion:
- Subverted, as a jab at fan speculation, with Miko. Tsukiko gives a monologue about her intent to do this with the next body she finds... and then changes her mind when the first one she finds is in two pieces.
- Malack attempts to turn Belkar into a vampire, but he is saved by a timely intervention from Durkon. Malack then proceeds to turn Durkon into a vampire instead; however, after Malack's destruction Durkon rejoins the Order.
- Refuge in Audacity: With the help of a Potion of Glibness (which adds 30 points to her already substantial Bluff skill), Haley basically uses lying to bend reality according to her will.Haley: You don't see us.
Guard 1: Huh, must be a trick of the light.
Haley: You don't work here anymore.
Guard 2: Crap! How am I gonna pay my mortgage?!
Haley: You are actually a yellow-footed rock wallaby.
Guard 3: Screw this guard stuff, then. I'm gonna go find a wizard to polymorph me back.
- Remembered I Could Fly: Belkar picks a good moment to remember he has the Animal Empathy skill.
- Remembered Too Late: Roy asked the Oracle a question, and then realizes his question was poorly worded, and worse, that he will forget even that the question was poorly worded, due to a memory spell on the oracle's home.
- Remember the New Guy?: An inversion. When Vaarsuvius's raven begins accompanying the Order on their missions regularly, V tries to explain to the group that the raven has been there all along, but only "appeared" when he was needed. The others, not remembering the few occasions when the bird has helped, don't believe V. This an inversion because, instead of the characters remembering someone the audience has never met, the characters don't remember someone the audience has full knowledge of.
- The Remnant: An uncommon heroic example. The Sapphire Guard, once one of the most powerful forces for good in the world, has been reduced to Hinjo, Lien, and O-Chul.
- Residual Self-Image: Roy discovers that everyone in the afterlife "good" plane looks like their Residual Self Image. His father looks the same as he did when he died, an old man, because he always was a Grumpy Old Man, even when he was young. His mother, however, looks young and hot.
- Roy discovers that everyone in the afterlifeLawful Good plane looks like an ideal version of themselves. His father looks the same as he did when he died, an old man, because he always was a Grumpy Old Man at heart, even when he was young. His mother, however, looks young and hot, because she never stopped thinking or herself as a 19-year-old looker.
- Durkon in the Dwarven afterlife looks like he did before being vampirified. His true self not only is lacking the teeth and pasty skin of a vampire, he's also wearing his usual armor (the vampire was destroyed wearing robes) and his beard is at full length (the vampire's got shortened by a slash of Roy's sword).
- Resignations Not Accepted: The Greysky City Thieves' Guild doesn't take kindly to Haley quitting.Hank: No-one leaves, except in a casket.
Thief: Vampire thieves can't even leave in one of those!
- La Résistance: Best called just that, since they argue over the name. Moot point, now that Redcloak's wiped them out.
- Restart the World:
- Downplayed. One possible outcome of The Dark One's plan is for him to remake the world with goblins as equals to the other races, but it's his backup plan if his main one doesn't work.
- Played straight with Hel.
- In "To Remember Them By", Thor reveals that the gods have already done this an unfathomable number of times since the Snarl's imprisonment. No world they have ever created has managed to hold the Snarl, and all of them have wound up getting obliterated and abandoned before a new one is made. The OotS world is just the last in a very, VERY long line of attempts.
- Resurrection Sickness: Standard for D&D, being raised from the dead costs a level, as mentioned by the Oracle. Roy also experience some trouble walking right after his own resurrection, his first attempt resulting in a faceplant, since he'd lost the habit of using his legs to move on the Material Plane.
- Happens to an as-of-that-point-unnamed sylph in "See, They're Flying, Because It's an Air Sigil", though she comes back.
- Also happens at one point in Cliffport. Right as the CPPD chief is complaining he's getting too old for this (he really should have known better), Nale comes along and kills him before he finishes his sentence.
- Lampshaded when Elan warns O-Chul not to announce that he's retiring tomorrow.
- Retroactive Wish: Haley in "Hey, It Was Worth a Shot".
- Revenge by Proxy: Months after the party kills a young evil black dragon, the dragon's mother hunts down and subdues one of them. But rather than killing Vaarsuvius, she expresses her intention to take it out on V's children, instead:Mother Dragon: After I am done speaking, I am going to teleport directly there, and then I will eat them alive. Slowly. Feet-first. I will then bind their souls to me with two necromantic scrolls that I acquired for this purpose. And I will disappear. I will leave this plane of existence, and you will never find me. I tell you all of this because it is not enough for me to simply kill you. You have taken my baby from me. I demand that you suffer the full measure of pain that I feel. As a parent, I am sure you understand.
- Reverse Psychology:
- Xykon uses it early in the comic, to lure the adventurers into touching Dorukan's Gate. And it works.Xykon: See? Never bet against the gullibility of the good guys, Redcloack.
Redcloak: I had no idea you had put so many skill ranks in Reverse Psychology.
MitD: Wait, what gate?
- Roy manages to convince his father to help scrying the mortal realm from the afterlife... by refusing to beg him or even to get angry about his unwillingness. Eugene even calls it "reverse psychology" at one point... but he still falls for it. It's unintentional on Roy's part; he really no longer wanted his dad's help at that point. It's absolutely brilliant, too. Only a minute or two after Eugene tells Roy to screw off and go back the mountain to cry to his mother, he's scrying for him.Eugene Greenhilt: Listen to me, young man, you will stand there and watch as I scry for you and like it, because I am your father!
Roy Greenhilt: You do know that doesn't make any sense, right?
- In "Bird Brained", Blackwing, Vaarsuvius's familiar, deduces that his own advice is important, since Qarr offers to stop Zz'dtri from killing Vaarsuvius if Blackwing lets the imp kill him.
- In "Credits and Deductions", V inverts it, deducing from Qarr's words what he wants, and then doing the opposite.
- Xykon uses it early in the comic, to lure the adventurers into touching Dorukan's Gate. And it works.
- Revive Kills Zombie: As per D&D rules, "Heal" and related spells damage undead creatures, while "Inflict wounds" and related spells heal them.
- Revolving Door Revolution: The default state of the Western Continent. Everyone is constantly fighting over the livable territory, with some new "hotshot general" showing up every year or so, only to get ousted as quickly as those before them. Tarquin, upon experiencing this for himself, realized his team could take advantage of it by acting as The Man in Front of the Man to whoever happens to be "in power" at the moment.
- Rewatch Bonus:
- Rereading the "Blood Runs in the Family" part of the comic after the reveal that Malack is a vampire seriously changes the meaning of some conversations, especially when he's speaking about having children. Or it can get hilarious, like with the "bloodwart tea".
- Durkon's conversation with Belkar in #1151 reveals that Durkon had been feeding very specific memories to the High Priest of Hel on purpose—the memories that were Durkon's "tipping points" to character development. An idea he'd first had with an earlier conversation between his vampire self and Belkar in #957. Rereading the "Utterly Dwarfed" arc with this in mind makes this very apparent. Even the "trolling" memories, like the food poisoning and the workplace orientation seminar, were carefully chosen for this specific purpose.
- Riding into the Sunset: Toward the end of Book 5, the Mechane, carrying the Order of the Stick, is shown flying into the sunset.
- Right Behind Me:Vaarsuvius: She is, naturally, directly behind me.
- Right-Hand Cat: Mr. Scruffy to Lord Shojo. And later, to Belkar.
- Right Makes Might: Hilariously lampshaded and subverted when Belkar attacks Malack and is certain he will win because "guys spouting corny lines like 'I have someone worth fighting for' always win for some reason", or something to that effect. Malack proceeds to incapacitate him with no effort.
- Right Place, Right Time, Wrong Reason: When Vaarsuvius asks the Oracle how to obtain "ultimate arcane power", this is the answer given almost word-for-word. V sells a timeshare on their soul to three fiends in exchange for a temporary epic-level power boost. Although the stated motive was to save their family, V later admits that the only reason they did it was because they didn't want to ask anyone for help, and suffers (and will yet suffer) the consequences. The prophecy is fulfilled exactly as given.
- Ring of Power:
- Vaarsuvius' Ring of Wizardry;
- Belkar's Ring of Jumping +20;
- Tarquin's Rings of Regeneration and True Seeing;
- Tsukiko has a ring protecting her from energy drains, an obvious safeguard for one dealing regularly with wights. It doesn't save her, though.
- The Rival: Crystal the Assassin for Haley. She's clearly not the smartest pickle in the jar, but dramatic conventions demand that Crystal at least matched to Haley's experience level — and they both know it.Haley: ...she's a personal rival. She's ALWAYS gonna be the same level as I am when we meet, if not higher.
[cutaway panel; Crystal is playing cards when a "DING!" appears overhead]
Crystal: Sweet! Starshine gained another level!
- Roc Birds: At one point, a drunken wizard teleports the order into a roc's nest. Fortunately, the roc eats the wizard first, becomes drunk itself, and passes out.
- Rock Beats Laser: In "Fun While It Lasted", when Xykon's Superb Dispelling doesn't end Vaarsuvius's Soul Splice, one of the souls boasts that "Even epic magic cannot break our—", only to be cut off when the lich effectively ends the splice with the surgical application of a giant fragment of masonry to the Squishy Wizard.
- RockPaperScissors: Alluded with two strip titles — "Paper Beats Rock" and "It Does Beat Scissors".
- Rocky Roll Call: "Plotus Interruptus"Samantha: Dad!
Sam's father: Samantha!
Belkar: Hot chick!
- Role-Playing Game Verse: The Stickverse is an original world, but is stated from the start to be based on Dungeons & Dragons.
- Rouge Angles of Satin:
- In On the Origin of PCs, Roy comments about Haley's class on her resume (i.e. character sheet) being misspelled as "Rouge".
- Lampshaded/parodied in the title of strip #711, "Rouge's Guild". Haley, due to a miscommunication, joins the "Sisterhood of Aton", thinking it's the local Rogue's Guild because a "tough looking chick" in a bar told her it's full of thieves. It turns out they're a cosmetics company and the "thieves" comment was a reference to their prices.
- RPG-Mechanics Verse: With D&D 3.5 rules, and most of the characters are fully aware of the mechanics — some more than others, of course.
- Rule of Cool: Durkon needs to destroy a group of trees whose only weakness is sonic damage, so he uses a control weather scroll to summon a thunderstorm which shatters the trees with the noise of the thunderclap. Thor thinks this is such an awesome idea that he bends the rules of reality to make sure it works, much to the annoyance of his Planetar assistant.
- Rule of Drama: Beautifully averted when Elan decides to be honest with Haley, despite the drama that could potentially unravel, because their relationship is worth more to him than that.
- Rule of Funny: As a general principle, the series runs on Broad Strokes D&D rules unless the story or the jokes require otherwise.
- Lampshaded in the title "Don't Question the Color of the Bag"; a joke in the strip has Roy's usually-useless Bag of Tricks unexpectedly materialise a rhinoceros, which lands on top of him. (In the game, there are two differently-colored Bags of Tricks, one of which spawns small rodents, and the other larger animals, rhinos included.)
- The major characters have no explicitly stated levels, stats or ability sets (other than rare exceptions, like Elan's 18 in Charisma or V's 18 in Intelligence) because that would restrict the jokes. Their stats can and have been guessed based on their actions in the comic, though.
- Rule of Three: The Empires of Blood, Sweat and Tears.
- Running Gags include Elan's dubiously-helpful bard songs, V's creative application of explosive runes and ambiguous sex, Durkon's dendrophobia, Xykon not remembering Roy or his dad, Daigo "saving" his last name, the Mit D's constant confusion about the Gates, the practical implications of Sending spells (you try getting everything across in exactly 25 words), among others.
- Flumphs conveniently cushioning people's landings... or not.
- "... the whole kobold-head-into-an-object thing is sort of a running gag with me."
- The title of the strip is a definition of a word prominent in the punchline.
- "Get it off! Get it off!" — thrice:
- Twice already Roy got attacked and shut up with someone yelling at him "STOP TALKING". First one was courtesy of Miko, the second one was from Thog.
- Annoying lawyers. Once, a Flumph/Lawyer reversal.
- Russian Reversal: The title for one of the comics is "In Azure City, Shark Jumps You!"