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The Order of the Stick provides examples of the following tropes:
- MacGuffin: The Gates. Xykon even refers to them as such. Redcloak discusses this trope here (spoilers!), noting that the MacGuffins aren't the only things that matter in a battle.
- MacGuffin Delivery Service: Discussed.
Tarquin: In any race for hidden treasure, it is always the protagonists who sweat and bleed and die to overcome the many challenges inherent in finding it, only for the antagonists to seize it from them at the last minute.
- MacGuffin Guardian
- The outdated monsters guarding Dorukan's Talisman. Justified, since it's the Talisman itself which lured them there.
- The Black Dragon guarding the Starmetal fragment in the Wooden Forest.
- Kraagor's Gate is said to be protected by a bunch of dangerous monsters.
- Made From Real Girl Scouts: The "Kid's Meal" in "Delayed Gratification", hilariously revisited in "Grueling Ordeal".
- Magic A Is Magic A: "Truly, more wizards have been laid low by the writings of Jack Vance than by any single villain."
- Magic Feather: Enor, the blue ogre/dragon hybrid, is given a piece of lizardfolk Victory String by Gannji to give him courage in battle (it's just a piece of string, of course). Roy lampshades this trope when Belkar points it out. Belkar tries to give him a "halfling Courage Rock", but Roy won't take it, and instead suggests Belkar keep it someplace safe. And dark.
- Magic Knight: Durkon, Miko, and the other paladins.
- Make Me Wanna Shout
- Make-Out Kids: Once they get together, Elan and Haley tend to have difficulty keeping their hands off of each other, so much so that announcing they are going to have sex is actually a quite believable excuse.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places
- Well, first of all, we have Roy and Celia while they're flying, which isn't that wrong, though it's still weird.
- But then, this is easily topped in "Riders on the Worm", where Elan and Haley make out on the back of a giant, purple worm no more than several yards from the rest of the party! Haley notes the Freudian imagery as a major turn-on.
- Mama Bear
- Kazumi goes to town on some ninjas. Using two swords. She killed the first one with his own sword by disarming him with a pillow.
- The ancient black dragon. Even if V has already killed her child, so she wants to avenge, not protect him.
- Vaarsuvius, defending his/her children and spouse from aforementioned ancient black dragon. May count as Papa Wolf or Mama Bear, depending on his/her gender.
- And now, it seems Tiamat is angry that Vaarsuvius killed a quarter of the black dragon population in the process.
- Tsukiko is a Mama to her wights.
Tsukiko: (while blasting Thahn) You big bully! He's just a child! I only made him four weeks ago.
- The Man Behind the Man
- Redcloak has been subtly manipulating Xykon for his own ends.
- The Dark One is the goblin god behind the goblin high priest.
- Malack and Tarquin are the ones truly in charge of the Empire of Blood -- which isn't too hard to guess after one glance at the Empress.
- Man On Fire
- Belkar douses Miko in sake and tosses a match at her.
- Played for drama later on when Tarquin does this to a bunch of escaped slaves shaped in Elan's name.
- Mass "Oh Crap": Strips 825 and 826, when the Resistance party discovers that the enemy found their hideout, and that Redcloak himself is there to welcome them, with several high-level summoned creatures at his side, and all the other members of the Resistance dead.
- Matter of Life and Death
- Mauve Shirt
- Kazumi and Daigo were Red Herring Shirts until they revealed their names. Daigo still keeps his last name unknown, "in case of an emergency".
- Jirix is a villainous Mauve Shirt. His name had been mentioned on multiple occasions before O-Chul killed him during his escape from Xykon's imprisonment, and he was deemed important enough that Redcloak resurrected him (at Xykon's demand). Redcloak then appointed Jirix the prime minister of the sovereign nation of Gobbotopia (built on the former site of Azure City).
- Meaningful Background Event: Nobody notices Elan and Haley discussing something important in "Small Talk", and merely assume they ran off to make out somewhere.
- Meaningful Echo: "What the heck is it going to take for you to see that your dad is bad news? Do you need, like, 200-foot-tall flaming letters or something??"
- Meaningful Name
- Of course, we have Roy Greenhilt with his signature ancestral sword -- which still doesn't help Xykon remember Roy's name.
- Elan has a lot of élan
- Blink and you'll miss the etymology behind the chimera Trigak's name. It is the sound he makes when Belkar slays him: all three heads crying "gak!"
- The gladiator that Belkar fights in strip #780 gets eviscerated rather nastily. His name was Evisceratus. Along with the aptly-named Notseenicus and Offpanelo.
- Tarquin is named after Lucius Tarquinius Priscus and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, two legendary kings of Rome. The former was a foreign commoner who charmed his way into power and ruled as a benevolent dictator, while the latter was a scheming and malevolent despot whose overthrowing heralded the beginning of the Roman Republic.
- Argent the wolf is named after the French word for "silver", and he has silver-lined fangs that make his attacks more deadly towards devils. Lampshaded: the strip this fact is introduced in is called "His Name Probably Helps, Too".
- It turns out the Draketooth clan has dragon ancestry. Specifically, they're of the lineage that V's familicide spell wiped out.
- Medium Awareness: Virtually every character in the strip is (to some extent) aware that this is a webcomic; they are able to notice cutaway panels, compare Webcomic Time to "real" time, and on one occasion, Haley even left the strip for one panel to steal a diamond from the website's cast page (leaving an I.O.U. behind in its place).
Characters are also explicitly aware that their setting operates on Dungeons & Dragons rules and mechanics; even the comic's first strip depicted their reactions to being upgraded from the 3rd to 3.5 edition ruleset mid-battle (Word of the Giant has it that the comic will not be upgraded to 4th edition rules). References to Hit Points, skill checks, dice rolls, experience and class levels, spell slots, etc. are ubiquitous throughout the comic.
To combine the two above examples, a dwarven assassin points out to his Shadowdancer companion that his "shadow jump" ability is useless because this is a stick figure comic with no shadowing.
- Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty: Inverted with Haley (who is physically capable) and Elan (who is pretty).
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: The hobgoblin cannon fodder is exclusively male.
- Mercury's Wings: One of the paladin guarding the Azure City throne room has winged boots.
- Milholland Relationship Moment: Sort of played with in a villainous example in "Not Much Chance of That". After Malack blasted Tarquin and the rest of the Order with a Flamestrike spell when he grew impatient of Tarquin toying with them, he delivers a blistering tirade about how Tarquin demanded he put his personal vendetta against Nale aside, but Tarquin was wasting time in order to assess Elan's growth in battle. Sabine even lampshades to Qaar about how Malack and Tarquin are about to "get into it". But after Malack has finished ranting, Tarquin takes a moment to think and sincerely apologises to him, admitting Malack is completely right and he didn't know what he was thinking.
- Million-to-One Chance: Spoofed in "The Longshot" and "Improbable Causes".
- Mind Control Eyes: As seen in strips #183, #383, and #448. Lampshaded in the first example.
- Minor Insult Meltdown: V to Elan.
- Mismatched Eyes
- Tsukiko has a blue eye and an indigo eye. This reflects her dual-caster prestige class, the color of her aura when casting spells being blue for divine magic and indigo for arcane. As a joke, it carries over as a theme to her slippers too.
- Also Keith Baker in Start of Darkness.
- Mission From God: Redcloak is on a mission from the Dark One to use the Snarl to force the gods to give goblins standing in the world.
- Mix-and-Match Critters
Roy: Isn't a "brontosaurus" really just an apatosaurus with the head of a different dinosaur?
Tarquin: And a hippogriff is really just a horse with the head and wings of a bird, but I've still got eight squadrons mounted on the damn things.
Roy: Hmm. Fair enough.
- The Mole: Redcloak manages to infiltrate the Azure City Resistance by polymorphing a hobgoblin into a human.
- Mood Whiplash
- The prize goes to Start of Darkness: while Right-Eye is blasted from the sky and Xykon literally drains Dorukan's life-force away, the Monster in the Darkness decides to hold a taco fiesta. The well-executed switches are often cited as one of the comic's main sources of appeal.
- Latest book alternate between V condemning him/herself to hell to save V's family and the Three Archfiends making college jokes.
- One small example: Miko and Redcloak are fighting in one of the towers at the Azure City borders. Redcloak has managed to hit Miko hard enough to make her drop her katana, and he asks for Xykon's help... upon which we see Xykon placing a bet on the fight's outcome with the Demon-Roaches -- he bets on Miko winning -- while the MitD has a popcorn bucket and a giant hand, supporting Redcloak as one would support his football team.
- "PLANE SHIFT!"
- The comic titled "Yes, Apparently" pulls off a rather jarring one. It takes five panels for Elan to go from hugging his dad in a heartwarming moment to realizing that his dad is burning thirty people alive.
- After a while, one gets used to Xykon being an affable, lazy tyrant content to crack jokes and lounge about while Redcloak runs his army. Then Soul-Spliced Vaarsuvius pushes his Berserk Button. The immediate change in attitude is jarring, to say the least.
- Mook Chivalry: Subverted.
- Mooks: One of the comic's themes seems to be to Deconstructed Trope the concept. Gods Need Prayer Badly, so goblins were explicitly created to be low-level fodder for their clerics to gain XP. The comic's main plot is driven by the goblins (especially their High Priest) rebelling against the gods who forced them into this role.
- Moral Dissonance: Intentionally. Moments like the slaughter of Redcloak's village and the brutal execution of a hobgoblin prisoner from Azure City by the Elvish liberation forces remind us why Redcloak is on his crusade, and lead us to wonder if he might not have a bit of a point.
- Morality Kitchen Sink
- Morality Pet
- Mr. Scruffy, for Belkar.
Belkar: Stupid cat. A ranger is supposed to influence an animal's behavior. You're doing it backwards!
- O-Chul for the Monster in the Darkness. It did help him escape, after all.
- Blackwing invokes this. He now works as a sort of conscience for V.
- Moral Myopia: A vicious cycle: the gods consider the goblins nothing more than XP fodder; this leads the goblins (and hence Redcloak) to decide that humans are fair game to kill also, leading to a Cycle of Revenge.
- More Criminals Than Targets: Parodied with Greysky City, which is so crime-ridden as to seemingly consist of nothing but criminals.
- Morphic Resonance: Shapeshifters keep their overall color scheme.
- Most Common Card Game: Check.
- Most Definitely Not a Villain
- Belkar gets on stilts to disguise himself as a human.
Belkar: Hello, fellow Medium-sized creature! How are you enjoying being Medium-sized, like me, on this lovely day?
Paladin: Just fine, thanks for asking!
- Nale disguising himself as his twin brother Elan. Though his repeated statements of "I'm Elan" don't raise any eyebrows since that is deemed in character for Elan.
Nale-as-Elan: I'm Elan!
Vaarsuvius: Yes, so you have told me no less than seven times in the last hour.
- Celia as Darkblood Gloomgloom qualifies too.
Celia: My Dark power? Right! Right. Because I'm totally a necromancer, and not a sorcerer who didn't happen to take any necromancy spells...
- Motivational Lie: Elan uses one on Thog so that Thog will break them both out of jail.
- Motivation on a Stick: Roy does this with a spice-infused Belkar to use a sandworm as transport.
- Mr. Exposition
- Lord Shojo, first and foremost.
- Later the IFCC, lampshaded in "Moving the Pieces".
- Munchkin: The half-ogre spiked-chain-wielding mook.
- Mundane Utility: V mentions using the invisibility spell whenever going to the bathroom.
- Murder Is the Best Solution
- Belkar's modus operandi.
- Vaarsuvius' has a few of these moments too, as illustrated by the following quote:
Vaarsuvius: As the size of an explosion increases, the number of social situations it is incapable of resolving approaches zero.
- Miko would rather kill those she sees as evil rather than bring them to justice.
- My Friends and Zoidberg: Belkar gets this treatment a few times.
- In "The Heavens Moved", Durkon says that the rest of the Order is a fine enough group, for humans. And an elf.
Hilgya: And a halfing.
Durkon: No, I left 'im out on purpose.
- In "From the Mouths of Babes", while Roy is mistaken for the King of Nowhere:
Roy: Hey, you know, we're all enjoying this luxury, but we should at least share it with the others. We should get Vaarsuvius and Belkar up here.
Roy: We should get Vaarsuvius up here.
Elan: Yeah, definitely!
Haley: Sure, let's get V in here.
- In "We Can Do This the Easy Way...", Roy talks to Xykon about why he has to take him down now, instead of taking the lich up on his offer to be released from the battle and level up for a few years to make it a better fight:
Roy: You may not be out to destroy the physical planet, but living under the heel of a walking villain cliché like you will destroy its soul. If I don't beat you here and now, then soon this nonsensical screwed-up world won't exist anymore. There won't be any place left for introverted dwarves. Or androgynous elves. Or idiotic bards or greedy rogues... or sexy sylphs. Or hell, even raging narcissistic paladins. Bloodthirsty halflings will probably get along fine, though.
- In "The Great(ish) Escape", Durkon informs Haley that Roy and Belkar have been locked up in prison:
Haley: Crap! We need to break Roy out of there! And then decide what to do about Belkar!
- My God, What Have I Done?
- Redcloak gets to do this twice: once when he realizes how stupid his bigotry towards hobgoblins is, and once in the prequel Start of Darkness, after he kills his brother Right-Eye.
- Vaarsuvius, upon discovering how the Draketooth Family died.
- My Name Is Not Durwood
- Xykon can't remember Roy's name. Really, he doesn't remember Roy at all.
- Vaarsuvius also had trouble remembering about... "Bird-That-Miss-Starshine-Named"... that is, Blackwing. No wonder the familiar wasn't so keen on helping his/her master or even talking to him/her, until V made amends.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling
- Elan sometimes, as a result of his Genre Savviness.
Elan: ... Hey, did anyone else get that foreboding feeling just now?
- Spoofed by Belkar in Hinjo's Junk strip.
Belkar: I sense a great disturbance... as if a thousand double entendres cried out, and were suddenly silenced...
- Myth Arc: Roy and the Order's quest to destroy Xykon once and for all, secure the Gates, and restore Azure City. Villains other than Xykon (for example, Nale and Kubota) are actually referred to in dialogue as "side quests".
- Narrator: Spoofed in the prologue to the print volume of the first arc.
- Naughty Tentacles: Evan's Spiked Tentacles of Forced Intrusion, a reference to Evard's Black Tentacles from Dungeons & Dragons.
- Neck Lift
- Roy Greenhilt seems to like this as an intimidation method for interrogating mooks. He does it to a goblin teen in "Man-to-Man Chat", and then to Pompey of the Linear Guild in "Knight Takes Pawn".
- Xykon can do it too when pissed. And don't try to change the subject with trivial concerns, like breathing.
- Neck Snap
- Xykon does this to Lirian in Start of Darkness.
- Miko does this to Sabine on her first day in jail as a fallen paladin. Of course, since Sabine is an Outsider, it just annoys her.
- Necromancers: Xykon; Tsukiko; Haerta Bloodsoak
- Celia as Darkblood Gloomgloom briefly pretends to be one.
- Hieronymus Grubwiggler may protest that he isn't creating undead, but he's still animating dead bodies as flesh or bone golems.
- Neglectful Precursors: The gods definitely come across as such in the creation story of the Snarl. Start of Darkness... really doesn't help their case.
- Neutral No Longer: The Elvish war party.
- Never a Self-Made Woman: Averted. Haley Starshine was trained by her father, the notorious Ian Starshine, who got her into the Rogue's Guild, and his ransom is the reason she joined an adventuring party. However, this is merely her backstory. He rarely comes up, never outshines her, and after their encounter in the story, she has decided that she has grown beyond him. Similarly, she hooks up with Elan, who is beneath her on the power/capability scale, and their relationship is considered a perk, but never supplants her primary reasons for being on the team.
- Never Live It Down: In-universe examples.
- Vaarsuvius over, uh, "time sharing" his/her soul.
Vaarsuvius: I have a plan.
Blackwing: Does it involve selling your soul?
Vaarsuvius: No! I mean, yes, really. It involves coordination.
Blackwing: Coordinated soul-selling?
Blackwing: Is that a "maybe"?
- Also, the destruction of Lirian's Gate in a forest fire seems to be this for Redcloak.
Redcloak: Look, it was an accident! OK? Let it drop already. Geez!
- Never Speak Ill of the Dead: On "Or Mention That He's Getting Too Old for This", O-Chul takes partial responsibility for the destruction of the gate. He's not telling the whole story to avoid further dishonoring Miko Miyazaki.
Hinjo: I see. Then you were the one who made the decision to destroy the Gate rather than let it fall into Xykon's clutches.
O-Chul: I did make that decision, and it was my blade that did the deed. (I shall say no more about it, lest I speak ill of the dead.)
- Never Split the Party
- Basically, the whole point of the fourth completed arc. Some bad things happened. The compilation book, containing said arc, is titled Don't Split the Party.
- And then they did it again, resulting in Vaarsuvius, Haley, and Elan getting captured by bounty hunters.
- New Rules as the Plot Demands: Rich Burlew claims to follow this pattern, but he's usually actually very good about replicating D&D's rule system in a believable way. Some of the few straight examples are the fact that goblins and sprites are medium-sized and Always Chaotic Evil races are more Punch Clock Villains. As one might expect, it doesn't exactly hurt the comic.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
- Miko actually does this twice. Once when she kills Shojo, resulting in her being stripped of her status as a paladin (and all the benefits that go along with it) and creating a power vacuum that results in Daimyo Kubota's forces spending more time trying to assassinate Hinjo than defend the city. And, again, by destroying the sapphire in the throne (and Soon's gate trapped within it) as Xykon is about to be re-killed by the ghosts of the Sapphire Guard, thus causing the ghosts to dissipate.
- In Start of Darkness, when Xykon is confronting Lirian, he doesn't know that there are four other gates until...
Lirian: Even if you locate them, my friends will stop you from conquering the other four Gates.
Xykon: Did you-- Did you just say, "the other four Gates"?
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Redcloak, after holding a group of Azurites hostage during one of his interrogations of O-Chul, decides to let them live, hoping that they'll spread word of how the (seemingly) last Sapphire Guard is a prisoner, which will break the will of the other prisoners. However, this backfires big time, as they instead interpret events as a Sapphire Guard having survived the battle and still heroically resisting the enemy's attempts to break him (which is true), which raises the hopes of the prisoners.
- Ninja Log
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot
- An allusion on the trope is found in "Meanwhile, His Teammate Was in Rhodes".
- Ninja Prop
- The best example would probably be the diamond from the cast page, which Haley stole from herself in order to pay for a spell in the main comic.
- In one strip, a mute Haley holds a mental argument with herself while on the road, drowning out Elan's Blah Blah Blah dialogue. In the final panel, it's revealed that he's literally been saying "blah blah blah" the entire time, hoping to set a new world record in consecutive use of the word.
- In the comic book compendium of this webcomic, the party uses the narrator to distract the monster guarding the entrance to the dungeon.
- Lien knew that Qarr was up to no good from his sinister-looking Speech Bubbles (red text on a black background).
- It's possible to feign death by drawing X marks over one's eyes and lying very still.
- Nobody Poops: Played with when Qarr the imp notices that V uses invisibility before going to piss. Also, humorously averted in "The Most Important Quest".
- No Dialogue Episode: "Words Fail" and again in "Making Up for Lost Time" (except for the final panel).
- No Fourth Wall
- Most of the characters seem aware that their world works on RPG rules and occasionally refer to the fact that they're in a comic, but they still seem confused when the Oracle breaks the comic fourth wall more directly.
- Reached new heights in "It's a Shame She Didn't Grab That Script While She Was There". Heck, even the cast page is on that joke.
- And in "At Least It Wasn't the Fourth Wall Again", the third wall takes a beating, too.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown
- Nominal Importance
- Mentioned as early as strip #21, where Haley complains that the fact that they killed a named chimera implied it should have become a recurring villain.
- Lampshaded by Kazumi and Daigo, two Azurite soldiers, who go from Red Shirts to Mauve Shirts just by revealing their names. (Daigo, observing the power of this effect, wisely decides to save his last name for a future emergency.)
- Lampshaded again.
Elan: Hooray! The people whose names I know are saved!
- However, Rich Burlew is also quite willing to subvert the trope, by having characters introduced by name and then killed in the very same strip. Case in point: Kodrog the Slayer & Jim; those three barbarians; Shelby the Dragonslayer; Solt Lorkyurg; Buggy Lou... (Yeah, it happens a lot around Belkar or Xykon.)
- And in the prequel book Start of Darkness, Nominal Importance is plain and simply inverted. Actually saying his name is really what gets a lizardman killed: it was too complex for Xykon to remember.
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: The Monster in the Darkness's tea party.
- No Name Given: The Monster in the Darkness; the Oracle; the Chief; the Rookie; the Cleric of Loki
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: Lampshaded, of course.
- Non Sequitur Thud
- Haley sings "I'm Henry the 8th, I am, Henry the 8th, I am, I am..." after receiving a stunning kick from Miko in "The Confrontation".
- "The wheels on the bus go round and round..." -- a black dragon after surviving one Disintegrate spell, before being vaporized by another.
- Happens to Belkar in "Top of the List":
Belkar: 'mfine. Halfings may only be able to advance to level 8, but I've got Attack Rank G.
Guard: That boy got his ass knocked back to Basic!
- Noodle Implements: Elan and Thog's plan to get back into Azure City apparently involved a corkscrew, skis, a basketball, a box of soap, a traffic cone, a leprechaun costume, and a giant wooden alpaca full of potato salad. It should be mentioned that the costume was, for several comics, all we saw. The rest of it showed up in a comic titled "As Good an Explanation as is Forthcoming" which, of course, only raised further questions.
- Noodle Incidents: Several.
Elan: Are--are you hitting on me? Because, whatever you heard about what happened at Summer Camp--
Mistress Shadowgale: Yeah, seriously, this is the dullest excuse for a date since you went with Darren Leafsword back in 8th grade.
Hinjo: Unnhhh... I'm sorry, Uncle. I'll never swipe a drink for your private stash again...
Roy: It was just a joke! We didn't know Mrs. McNulty was allergic to weasels!
Elan: It's exciting being part of a family where they DON'T try to frame you for murder!
Haley: Oooo, I probably shouldn't tell you about Cousin Sheila, then...
MitD: Uh, hi. I know I'm not allowed in your room since the thing with the peanut butter...
Tarquin: I still haven't figured out how [Thog] managed to flood the palace with lemon pudding that time...
Ranch Dressing Elemental: Thank you, [Vaarsuvius]! You have restored Prince Oozalot to the throne of the Hidden Valley and rescued his true love, Gertrude, from the evil sauce dragon!
Malack: You always have gone that extra mile for the punchline. Remember the Rajah?
Tarquin: HA! And you said there was no way I'd hold that much creamed spinach in my mouth for the whole coronation!
- No Periods, Period: Averted, though Sabine's example is an excuse.
Sabine: It's, uh... that time of the century. You know... the Red Knight is requesting lodging.
Haley: Think how testy I can get, and I'm only the "Empress of Blood" a few days each month.
- No Peripheral Vision: Those three mooks; lampshaded by Tarquin.
- The Noseless: All characters, due to the art style. With Lampshade Hanging, naturally:
Rookie: What are those weird bumpy things between their eyes?
- Not a Game: O-Chul to Haley before the Azure City battle.
- Not Even Bothering with an Excuse: Sort of seen in #789 with Elan announcing that he and Haley are leaving to have sex, in contrast to previous occasions of them going to have sex, in which Unusual Euphemism or Is That What They're Calling It Now? was used by them or other character. "Sort of" because ironically, this time they aren't going to have sex and it's a Lame Excuse.
- Not Hyperbole
- Named for Lien's little speech:
Lien: My parents were fishermen. When I was a little girl, I stood right here and learned how to clean the fish that they caught. I'm telling you this so that you know that when I say that if you take one more step, I will gut you like the catch of the day -- IT IS NOT HYPERBOLE!
- In "Rapier Wit", Balker states that he could sunder Elan's rapier by speeking too loudly.
Belkar: DAMN IT!
- In another strip, "On Friendship", when Belkar says, "I am going to rip off your stupid bug head and piss down your neck hole!", he happens to be serious.
- It appears that one of these was the last straw in the marriage of Elan's parents.
Tarquin: You sound like your mother. "Oh Tarquin, you jerk! When you said that you would liquefy every man in the tavern if one of them grabbed my butt again during my shift, I didn't think you meant it!"
- Not So Different: V and Belkar have always opted for a brute force style in facing their problems, but thanks to Character Development, they've also seen other ways of looking at the world. To drive the point even further, they both have dark fates in store. Belkar is slated to die before the end of the year, while V is indebted to the service of the IFCC for 44 minutes and 16 seconds.
- Not That Kind of Mage
- Xykon is mistaken for a wizard early in Start of Darkness's narrative. He doesn't take as much offense here as one might expect, given his distaste for wizards.
- In a later strip, a bit character intentionally mislabels Vaarsuvius as a warlock to draw him/her into battle.
- Not What It Looks Like
- Played with in "A Familiar Face", when Celia recalls finding out her boyfriend "slipping the wood" to a dryad. He says it's not what it looks, but it's unclear what it looks like in the first place....
- Subverted when Nale seduces Haley in order to betray and kill her, only to be stopped when his enraged girlfriend Sabine arrives. She realizes what's going on immediately, but wanted to kill Haley herself:
Nale: It's not what it looks like.
Nale: (simultaneous) I was going to KILL her.
Sabine: (simultaneous) YOU WERE GOING TO KILL HER!
- Number of the Beast
- Number Two: Haley is briefly mentioned as being Roy's second-in-command during the battle of Azure city. She's not too confident about her abilities in this regard, having suckered Roy into naming her second-in-command in the first place in On the Origins of PCs only for a bigger share of treasure.
- Offhand Backhand: Xykon uses the magical equivalent on a nameless Azurite soldier, while taking a break in the middle of a battle to conduct a job interview.
- Off with His Head
- Oh Crap: Several times.
- Most notably "Land of the Rising...".
- And the expression on Elan's face at the end of "Yes, Apparently".
- Haley says it out loud in "A Vexation or Irritation".
- When Nale finds out what magic item Tarquin recently got.
- Redcloak when Tsukiko reveals she's on to him.
- Vaarsuvius found out she inadvertently annihilated the entire Draketooth clan. Whoops.
- Oh My Gods
- Oh, No, Not Again
- And in the prequel book On the Origin of PCs, when Sir Francois the paladin can't stand any longer his herald's stupidity and ditch him... guess what's the reaction.
Elan: Awww, not again.
- Oh, the Humanity!: Surtur's victims.
- Ominous Floating Castle: In "Villainy Afoot", Xykon is shown to have built a "fortress-tomb-thingy" in the Astral Plane as a safe hiding place for his phylactery.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Spoofed in "I See a Red Robe and I Want to Paint it Black". Apparently the IFCC has a ghostly choir composed entirely of freshly "snipped" dead pedophiles that sings fake Latin whenever they complete a deal. You can sing the fake Latin in place of the lyrics of Sephiroth's "One-Winged Angel" or "Ave Satani" from The Omen.
- Only Sane Man: Most of the main characters are in this position vis-à-vis the others at one point or another, but the role most often falls to Roy, Hinjo, and, on the villains' side, Redcloak.
- OOC Is Serious Business
- The first time Elan proves he can actually be useful, it comes as a shock to his teammates. Belkar, naturally, also takes advantage of this to trick Roy.
- Vaarsuvius passing on a perfect opportunity to say "I Told You So" can get Durkon really worried.
- Belkar is a Heroic Comedic Sociopath and Blood Knight at all times, so when he suddenly starts advocating the most peaceful solution to a conflict to reduce the bloodshed... it seriously freaks out Haley and Celia. (Which was of course his intention all along.)
- Operation Blank: Spoofed.
- Opponent Switch: Done by the villains in the first Order-vs.-Linear Guild fight: Nale and Thog swap opponents (Elan and Roy). It doesn't work, since Elan's magic actually works on Thog and Roy's ecstatic at the chance to whale on someone who looks like Elan, since he was still The Load then.
- Orcus on His Throne
- One of the few cases in which it is satisfactorily explained. When the main characters first encounter Xykon, he is sitting around his throne room doing nothing much. We come to find out that this is purely because the Gate he wished to access can only be opened by "one who is pure of heart," so he has literally been held up by a lack of adventurers.
- Later, after he conquers Azure City, he spends the entire Don't Split the Party storyline sitting on his butt in his castle torturing a captured paladin. Turns out, this was all Redcloak's doing: he's been deceiving Xykon into not leaving until the hobgoblins have solidified their hold on the city. Xykon lost patience with this when his phylactery got lost, taking Redcloak's eye (or rather forbidding him to regenerate it) and commanding that they leave immediately after finding the phylactery. Now Redcloak appears to have no intention of giving it back, using a substitute.
- Ostentatious Secret
- The gender of Vaarsuvius and Vaarsuvius' mate and (adopted) children.
- The Monster in the Darkness' identity.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Lampshaded in "Clerical Temp". Durkon Thundershield fits the stereotype perfectly, including the combination of Norse Mythology and Scottish accent. When the party is split and one half hires a cleric to magically contact Durkon, the cleric gets an accurate description and then asks what sets Durkon apart from every other dwarf in existence. However, they are known to have odd anatomical features such as two livers. (Though that may be just natural selection in action.)
On the other hand, it should be noted that Durkon is calm, introverted, mild-mannered, makes use of his spellcaster abilities as often as his weapons, and never swears. He takes his job as a healer very seriously, not limiting it to use of magic (he has significant medical knowledge, as seen when he's examining Haley and giving advice to a pregnant woman). All this sets him very much apart the usual drunken, axe-throwing and curse-spewing stereotype, making this more of a Zig-Zagging Trope instead.
- Our Elves Are Better: Averted.
- The most commonly seen elf, Vaarsuvius, is an Insufferable Genius who committed a genocidal act. V, at least, appears to be getting better thanks to Character Development.
- The elves aiding the Azurite resistance are, with their "the only good goblin is a dead one" policy, walking justifications for Redcloak's behavior.
- Aarindarius, V's master, is apparently powerful enough to take on a full adult black dragon without looking away from the book s/he's reading, though this was according to Vaarsuvius in the middle of an arc throughout which V's judgement was severely impaired.
- Our Founder
- Our Orcs Are Different: They use Hulk Speak and All Lowercase Letters. On the Origin of PCs also features orc fans of Heavy Metal.
- Outrun the Fireball: Spoofed.
- Overused Copycat Character: Spoofed. Apparently, every drow in this land is like Drizzt now. This trope is soon subverted because both drow that have appeared in the main comic are evil.
- ↑ "Wait, what?"