Follow TV Tropes

Following

The Order of the Stick

Go To

This is the thread for discussion of The Order of the Stick plot, characters, etc. We have a separate thread for discussing game rules and mechanics. Excessive rules discussions here may be thumped as off-topic.

OP edited to make this header - Fighteer

edited 18th Sep '17 1:08:08 PM by Fighteer

TobiasDrake Exposition Dragon from Colorado, USA Relationship Status: She's holding a very large knife
Dec 19th 2020 at 8:38:51 AM

To be fair, Roy has commented on how weird the clustered together dungeons are. "They're so close together, they'd have to be basically a straight hallway to avoid running into one another." But to be fair the other way, yeah, it is possible for them to be straight hallways. And I think Redcloak, who unlike Roy has been inside the dungeons, would have noticed if they were physically incapable of being inside the canyon wall.

You know what, that's fair. If Roy has a problem with the architectural design of the canyon, that's a valid possible clue - especially as it's been established that Roy has ranks in Knowledge: Architecture. I retract my objection.

Edited by TobiasDrake on Dec 19th 2020 at 8:40:00 AM

If you think that was wordy, you should check out my Tumblr: The Exposition Dragon.
RainehDaze Guardian of the West-Southwest from Scotland Relationship Status: Mu
Guardian of the West-Southwest
Dec 19th 2020 at 8:52:43 AM

Please stop trying to argue things by "True Seeing should have detected it". True Seeing is very specific about what it does and does not pierce, even if the list is large:

You confer on the subject the ability to see all things as they actually are. The subject sees through normal and magical darkness, notices secret doors hidden by magic, sees the exact locations of creatures or objects under blur or displacement effects, sees invisible creatures or objects normally, sees through illusions, and sees the true form of polymorphed, changed, or transmuted things. Further, the subject can focus its vision to see into the Ethereal Plane (but not into extradimensional spaces). The range of true seeing conferred is 120 feet.

True seeing, however, does not penetrate solid objects. It in no way confers X-ray vision or its equivalent. It does not negate concealment, including that caused by fog and the like. True seeing does not help the viewer see through mundane disguises, spot creatures who are simply hiding, or notice secret doors hidden by mundane means. In addition, the spell effects cannot be further enhanced with known magic, so one cannot use true seeing through a crystal ball or in conjunction with clairaudience/clairvoyance.

Note that it isn't a generalised "detect magic" effect, nor does it defeat any way of hiding something that isn't "make it invisible, stuff it on the ethereal plane, shapeshift it, or be illusioned". This means that it does have a very applicable blind spot here "magical space-altering barrier that presents a different location as the logical continuation of this space" that it can't see through. Or, of course, if this is some sort of dimensional pretzel it might very well see down the corridor that is actually there with the runes bending everything into weird dimensions.

Detect Magic spots magical items and spells. Oddly enough, a magical trap might not cover it, or whatever's going on here.

So yeah, True Seeing sees a lot. But it sees through attempts to magically hide, not misdirection. So it's actually not that hard to bypass it and that in and of itself reveals a lot.

Edited by RainehDaze on Dec 19th 2020 at 5:06:57 PM

Monkeying around.
Dec 19th 2020 at 9:15:28 AM

This is a really fun strip. I'm surprised none of Team Evil noticed the scorched mark of Quippie's rat skull, so maybe that'll come up later? Maybe...

Gilphon Untrustworthy from The Third Sound Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Untrustworthy
Dec 19th 2020 at 10:44:39 AM

Can somebody explain to me why Redcloak thought that True Seeing would let him beat Melt into Stone? Like that's not an illusion or anything. The closest thing I see in that description to beating it is 'see the true form of transmuted objects', but Meld into Stone doesn't change the appearance of the ground.

Edited by Gilphon on Dec 19th 2020 at 1:45:21 PM

"Canada Day is over, and now begins the endless dark of the Canada Night."
Kostya from Everywhere Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Dec 19th 2020 at 10:49:31 AM

Well I assume he intended to see that the ground was actually made up of the dwarves.

Tharkun140 The Arch-Douchebag Relationship Status: What is this thing you call love?
The Arch-Douchebag
Dec 19th 2020 at 10:51:40 AM

I come to this thread and I see everyone cope as hard as they can. It's really sad, thouhg understandable.

Guys, the villains clearly disintegrated themselves by walking over a line on the floor. The comic is over. I was counting for a more climactic ending myself, but hey, at least it subverted our expectations.

Edited by Tharkun140 on Dec 19th 2020 at 7:52:17 PM

Apathy is Death. Worse than Death, because at least a rotting corpse feeds beasts and insects.
RainehDaze Guardian of the West-Southwest from Scotland Relationship Status: Mu
Guardian of the West-Southwest
Dec 19th 2020 at 10:56:04 AM

Meld into Stone is a Transmutation effect, and "While in the stone, you remain in contact, however tenuous, with the face of the stone through which you melded." So if the DM is willing, then yeah, it's under the umbrella of things True Seeing pierces.

Monkeying around.
Dec 19th 2020 at 12:08:52 PM

Put me in the "the Order has been teleported somewhere else, while Team Evil remains in the same location" camp. Based off the information we have, I think that just makes the most sense.

1. Haley detects the runes. She temporarily disables them so that the Order can cross - or at least, she does something that she thinks will disable them. The floor changes color.

2. The runes re-engage. Team Evil cannot see the Order, but the Order can see Team Evil.

3. Roy tries to attack across the barrier, but because the barrier is active now, his sword crosses through it and seems to vanish. Team Evil notices nothing.

4. Team Evil passes through the active barrier and vanishes as well, again noticing nothing.

Some of my thoughts: regarding point 1, yes it's odd that disabling a trap would activate it, but only if we're still thinking of this as a trap designed to harm intruders. To me it seems obvious that we're not dealing with that kind of trap. This may technically meet the mechanical definitions of one, but what it's meant to be in terms of designer intent is a secret door. Most people don't have the necessary skills to detect it, but if you do and you manage to activate it, you open a hidden passageway (presumably) leading to the big prize.

I think Haley saw a line of runes, logically assumed that they were active, and did something that would flip the switch and briefly change them to their other state. What she didn't realize, being in a rush, was that they were already off and what she did actually turned them on.

It's important that this still mechanically acts as a trap, though, just one with the trigger conditions reversed, because that for my money explains how no one has detected it until Haley. Remember, Haley isn't just an average rogue anymore. Current estimations have her at around 16th level, meaning she's approaching epic level and is likely among the highest level living rogues in the world at this point.

People have brought up the fact that she said she wasn't keeping her Search skill maxxed, but they don't mention that she said that nearly 400 strips and two arcs ago. We know for a fact she's leveled up and thus received a bunch of skill points at least once since then. If you're the party rogue and your ability to save the world is hanging on your ability to successfully navigate a dungeon that you know was designed by an Epic level rogue, where would you put those skill points?

No one else that we know to have used these tunnels is as capable of finding the runes as Haley is. Sure, there might be rogues in the bugbear village - but how many of them are likely to be anywhere close to Haley's level, and thus maximum Search score? I feel like from a narrative perspective, if any of them were that strong, they'd probably have been established as characters by now.note 

As for Team Evil proper, none of them are rogues (including Oona, as far as we know), and therefore don't even get a chance to detect traps with a DC higher than 20, which this would pretty indisputably have. Roy couldn't see anything even when Haley was literally pointing right to it, and Team Evil's no different.

As for point 2, making the barrier also act as a sort of two way mirror seems like a sensible security decision. It means that anyone standing in the "real" dungeon can safely observe any potential intruders without being detected. But first and foremost, it lets the Order know what's happening, which is important for the story.

Point 3 is odd because you would expect Roy's sword to pass back through the barrier and hit Xykon. The fact that it didn't seems to indicate that it's a two way mirror, but a one way trip. My best guess is Roy swung his sword through essentially a visual projection of what's happening at the tunnel entrance. His sword seemed to vanish because it passed through the image, but it didn't actually go anywhere.

That would also mean the Order is trapped here until they can find a way out, which isn't their priority right now. Notably, Blackwing isn't with them, not having crossed the barrier. This explains the narrative importance of having V cast Telepathic Bond - now, we can have an arc where Blackwing is secretly observing the events in the canyon and relaying them to the Order, which could actually be a pretty damn good advantage to have. But it also raises the danger of Blackwing being detected and captured/killed. There's a lot of dramatic potential this way, with the Order being cut off from him.

Point 4 - why haven't Xykon and Redcloak, both powerful spellcasters, noticed the fact that they're triggering magic every time they cross the threshold? Because they're not. The beauty of the magical-trap-as-secret-door is that unless you activate it, there's nothing to notice because no magic is happening. They're just walking down an ordinary tunnel that happens to have some undetectable, dormant runes scribbled on the floor.

So yeah, obviously it's all conjecture based off incomplete information, but incomplete information is all we have right now. This is the version of events that seems to me to answer the most questions.

Edited by RBluefish on Dec 19th 2020 at 3:37:44 PM

"We'll take the next chance, and the next, until we win, or the chances are spent."
Dec 19th 2020 at 12:31:46 PM

I think I'm just gonna wait for the next update.

Aetol from France
Dec 19th 2020 at 12:32:45 PM

[up][up] I agree with all of this, and I'll add the guess I made earlier: I think the gate is behind the image. So to reach the gate you have to:

  • activate the portal

  • cross through the portal

  • deactivate the portal

  • walk back through the image

To anyone else who had found the "trap", those last steps would look like:

  • reactivate the trap behind you

  • walk into the trap

...so nobody would do that. To find the gate you have to know what the "trap" actually is... or find out by sheer coincidence, as the Order just did.

Worldbuilding is fun, writing is a chore
Dec 19th 2020 at 12:50:24 PM

[up] See, I don't think it'd be that easy. I could definitely see Serini putting the correct passageway to reach the Gate behind the image, but I highly doubt it's just going to be sitting there. Too easy.

People have also complained about this plot point because "why would Serini let the fate of the world be decided by one rogue's skill check," as if it's going to be as easy as figuring out the runes and then finding oneself just standing in front of the Gate. I think that figuring out the runes is what you do to even have a shot at getting to the Gate. You have to be that clever and that skilled to even qualify for a chance - meanwhile, Team Evil has just been spinning their wheels for weeks and doesn't know it.

I think the Order has now essentially left Kraagor's Tomb. Kraagor's Tomb is the bluff, the shells with no ball in them. The Order is now in Serini's dungeon, which is officially uncharted territory and is sure to be more complex and potentially more deadly than just a hallway full of really tough monsters.

"We'll take the next chance, and the next, until we win, or the chances are spent."
Kostya from Everywhere Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Dec 19th 2020 at 12:55:10 PM

Okay, here's my issue. If the Order was teleported then how does this lead to the gate? We have no reason to believe the Gate is anywhere other than in this valley. If they're somewhere else they must be fairly close by. So why bother with the teleportation puzzle from a narrative standpoint if the Gate is right there to begin with? Doesn't it make more sense to send possible intruders somewhere away from the Gate?

To me the more logical process is: Discover the runes, disable the runes, enter the "real dungeon" that leads to the Gate. The tunnels with monsters are just a massive red herring that aren't even in the same area.

Edit: I went back and looked at the page where Haley disabled the runes. I don't know, the visual effect looks like she disabled something to me. Notice the scorchmarks around the skull and the weird sound effect? I'm reading that as the permanently on portal being temporarily disrupted.

Edit 2: So looking back I noticed something else. Roy explicitly notes the floor color changing meaning that isn't just some kind of lighting issue or clue for the reader's benefit. It's something that genuinely occurred in universe. Point for the idea that they were teleported. However, when Haley disarms the trap we see an identical sound effect and visual effect to Team Evil crossing. So if she's actually activating it why didn't this happen when they crossed?

Edited by Kostya on Dec 19th 2020 at 4:06:16 AM

shigmiya64 Somebody get this freaking duck away from me! from a settlement that needs our help, General Relationship Status: Non-Canon
Somebody get this freaking duck away from me!
Dec 19th 2020 at 1:26:25 PM

So what's up with the latter half of the first page of this update? Logically, the Order should have gotten a surprise round, even if Xykon had the highest initiative roll. But instead, Roy, who doesn't yet know Xykon can't see or hear him, lets Xykon take the time to actively stand there and do nothing. That could be explained by it simply being Xykon's turn, but like I said, the Order should have a surprise round.

Fighteer Lost in Space from The Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Lost in Space
Dec 19th 2020 at 1:27:38 PM

If you had to break it down in mechanical terms, Xykon was unaware of Roy's presence, so the Order would automatically get a surprise round. However, there was no actual combat.

Edited by Fighteer on Dec 19th 2020 at 4:28:33 AM

"It's Occam's Shuriken! If the answer is elusive, never rule out ninjas!"
Dec 19th 2020 at 1:35:23 PM

So why bother with the teleportation puzzle from a narrative standpoint if the Gate is right there to begin with?

From a narrative standpoint? Because it's a cool and clever twist that fits a rogue's mentality, and also because it stalled Team Evil in their tracks long enough for the Order to take care of Hel's plot.

My money says the Gate is here...just like a mile underground, with no physical means of accessing it other than figuring out the runes trick. Remember when they mentioned that the stone in this canyon has interdimensional properties that prevent Xykon from being able to just ghostform through it? So even if he figured out that it was underground, he wouldn't be able to just Kitty Pryde his way down there.

This would make it straight up impossible for ordinary people to stumble across the Gate, and require a pretty specific skillset and series of deductions even from a powerful party.

I went back and looked at the page where Haley disabled the runes. I don't know, the visual effect looks like she disabled something to me. Notice the scorchmarks around the skull and the weird sound effect?

Does it? To me it looks like she activated something. Scorch marks, a bit sound effect, trails of smoke and a wall of energy...those cues could all just as easily point to something powerful being turned on.

However, when Haley disarms the trap we see an identical sound effect and visual effect to Team Evil crossing. So if she's actually activating it why didn't this happen when they crossed?

I suspect that the first big "wohhh" was that effect. It could be like a Stargate - you turn it on, there's a big effect, then you can just walk through it without much further fanfare.

But ultimately I'm talking out of my ass here, there's a ton we don't know.

But instead, Roy, who doesn't yet know Xykon can't see or hear him, lets Xykon take the time to actively stand there and do nothing.

If every scene in this comic had to proceed along strict initiative and turn order structure, things would get stiff. Things like the first fight with Miko are a rare exception - in general Rich prefers to have things happen in the sequence that narratively flows best.

Edited by RBluefish on Dec 19th 2020 at 4:35:58 AM

"We'll take the next chance, and the next, until we win, or the chances are spent."
fredhot16 from Baton Rogue, Louisiana. Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Dec 19th 2020 at 1:36:06 PM

[up]It's "quoteblock."

Suspension of disbelief: I can believe in time travel but it still has to make sense with it's own rules.
Kostya from Everywhere Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Dec 19th 2020 at 1:41:52 PM

[up][up]But the gate can't be that far underground. Unless we're assuming Serini built the entire canyon over top of it instead of just around it.

Edit:If the visual effect is caused by the trap being active why does it persist when Team Evil passes through after its no longer active?

Edited by Kostya on Dec 19th 2020 at 4:45:15 AM

Silasw A procrastination in of itself from a handcart heading to Hell Relationship Status: And they all lived happily ever after <3
A procrastination in of itself
Dec 19th 2020 at 1:53:32 PM

Well thatís just bizarre. My theory about a mechanically rearranging dungeon is certainly out the window, but I really donít know whatís left.

Based on the architecture, the scorch mark being on both sides and the lack of sound effect when the Order crossed the barrier Iím with people who say theyíre in the true corridor (the flour colour change is because the Ďfakeí corridor has been recently traveled while the real one hasnít), the effect when Haley messed with the trap was her causing it to activate early then fritz for a moment, think revving an engine so hard it stall for a moment.

But that leaves us with Team Evil having regularly walked through a teleportation trap that takes then god know where, and having activated the trap dozens if not hundreds of times without ever making a saving throw against it.

On top of that we have Royís sword, if theyíre in normal space and so is the area in front of the trap then what the hell happened there? Is there a second trap that teleports outbound people/objects to somewhere other than the entrance they just came through? They canít even all me out of phase in the same space because thatís something True Seeing explicitly does pick up.

Iím left with more questions then I came with, and my oen theory thrown in the dust.

Edited by Silasw on Dec 19th 2020 at 9:55:37 AM

"And the Bunny nails it!" ~ Gabrael "If the UN can get through a day without everyone strangling everyone else so can we." ~ Cyran
Druplesnubb Editor of Posts
Editor of Posts
Dec 19th 2020 at 1:55:36 PM

The way Roy's sword disappears instead of going to the outside suggests that the Order was teleported, but the foreshadowing about the overly close doors suggests that it's the villains who get teleported. A possible solutio nto this is a two-way portal. When roy's sword passed through the barrier, it went to the opposite side of the same cave that the villains got teleported to. This would actually ope nthe possibility that the gate is inside the "fake" cave, except in a way that is only accessible through entering the "true" cave first.

Edit: Actually, thinking about it a bit, I really like the idea. It would mean that the only way to the gate is to discover the trap, disarm it, and then ignore to disarm it on the way out. That is basically never gonna happen unless you figure out the trick, and makes sure even those who discover the trap are fooled. The big problem is that the trap resets after a while. Wouldn't it be more effective if you had to manually reactivate the trap instead?

Edited by Druplesnubb on Dec 19th 2020 at 11:01:55 AM

Dec 19th 2020 at 2:04:28 PM

A Stargate-like mechanism makes sense. The party entered Cave A, and then Haley set the star gate so past that line, theyíd be in Cave B, and then reset it so that Cave A is back to normal. Roy, in cave B, swings his sword at Xykon, except Xykon is in Cave A, so the sword doesnít hit him. Presumably, the Stargate is only showing them whatís happening in Cave A and Royís sword just passed through the image, but is still in Cave B.

Metroid26 from 11 Fathoms
Dec 19th 2020 at 2:04:31 PM

I'm thinking that the trap is a permanently active portal behind each door leading to the dungeons. When Haley disarmed it they were able to access the actual space behind the cliff instead of being diverted. It's also possible that not all of the doors have this and the order got lucky that way. Roy seeing Xykon is probably a secondary effect designed as a safety feature. As a side note I won't be surprised if Blackwing tries to follow and they suddenly lose connection because it's a hidden Gate Spell.

Warning! Drive by post in progress!
Silasw A procrastination in of itself from a handcart heading to Hell Relationship Status: And they all lived happily ever after <3
A procrastination in of itself
Dec 19th 2020 at 2:23:34 PM

The power level required for every door to have a permanent teleportation arch that allows no saving throw... thatís epic wizard level, maybe even multiple epic casters working together.

Could that be the secret of the dungeon? Itís not Seriniís dungeon, itís what all the dungeons should have been, a unified dungeon? We know she was in some kind of contact with Girard, what if she also had contact with the others? What if she got them to help with her dungeon and thatís why itís so insanely well defended?

Edited by Silasw on Dec 19th 2020 at 10:23:51 AM

"And the Bunny nails it!" ~ Gabrael "If the UN can get through a day without everyone strangling everyone else so can we." ~ Cyran
RaichuKFM Don't Be Afraid to Care from Northeast Ohio Relationship Status: Wishing you were here
Don't Be Afraid to Care
Dec 19th 2020 at 2:49:29 PM

I will point out that Roy's foreshadowing that the dungeons can only really be straight lines doesn't have to be a clue that the tunnels aren't all in the same cliff face or a complete red herring. It can be a legitimate clue that the tunnels are all straight lines (or essentially a straight line, they could bend but not fork) which isn't an especially desirable trait in a dungeon actually meant to hide something.

As for the scorch mark, it's possible that the scorch happened during (de)activation such that the head was in two places at once, so to speak. I think Redcloak would have noticed if there was half a scorch mark on the floor, cleanly cut by an invisible line, so I'm guessing the full scorch is on both sides of both floors (assuming the yellow floor has another side and it's not say a wall behind them).

I can't imagine how disuse would cause a green floor to yellow. It seems clear to me that the Order are the ones in the disjoint space. The True Seeing spell can see into the Ethereal plane, but it explicitly can't see extradimensional spaces, so there is still a possibility these two tunnels are in some sense on top of one another.

"The atoms whose behavior determines my behavior aren't just any atoms. They're the ones that are me."
Resileafs I actually wanted to be Resileaf
I actually wanted to be Resileaf
Dec 19th 2020 at 2:51:10 PM

[up][up]That would make a bunch of sense. Both Girard and Dorukan's gates were protected at some point by pretty intricate traps.

Edited by Resileafs on Dec 19th 2020 at 5:51:17 AM

Dec 19th 2020 at 3:05:28 PM

I think the hypothesis that this is some kind of extradimensional space, rather than a teleporting line, is a solid one. It would make the dungeon like a gigantic Bag of Holding, and we know how much rogues (or at least Haley) love their Bags of Holding.

If that's the case, it makes me wonder if they'll need to cross back into "normal" space in order to get to the Gate. Presumably you couldn't just shunt the Gate into a custom-made pocket dimension too easily, but you could make it so that intruders would have to pass through it to find it.

Another curious thing, though we probably shouldn't read too much into a 14 year old strip, is that Kraagor's Rift was depicted as being outdoors and aboveground in the first crayon flashback. Shojo says that Serini built a tomb for Kraagor, but he doesn't actually say that the tomb contained the Gate...notably, in fact, her panel is the only one that doesn't have the Gate pictured in it.

"We'll take the next chance, and the next, until we win, or the chances are spent."

Total posts: 56,653
Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report