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The Giant
2012-01-25, 06:31 PM
New comic is up.

Fates
2012-01-25, 06:36 PM
I am positively brimming with anticipation. Nice work once again, Rich!

First reply? :smallbiggrin:

GrlumpTheElder
2012-01-25, 06:36 PM
Huh, So Redcloak IS keeping the phylactery to himself after all. And yet, amidst all the double crossing, there is still a tender moment with the dead craftsman!

Sweetie Welf
2012-01-25, 06:36 PM
Seems like Readcloak has a plan...

Manga Maniac
2012-01-25, 06:37 PM
Guess we found out who the old goblin was.

Zanatos777
2012-01-25, 06:37 PM
Xykon returns! Awesome. I am confused though, what is Greater Obscure Object? I'm not familiar with that spell.

Stanfield22
2012-01-25, 06:38 PM
Did he put the real one in a Bag of Holding, I wonder?

The Glyphstone
2012-01-25, 06:38 PM
First....

sign that Redcloak might get away with this. A duplicate phylactery, which he is apparently layering all of the same buff and protection spells onto. And he knows how the lichdom ritual works, so he wouldn't be doing this if he didn't think Xykon wouldn't fall for it.

Gift Jeraff
2012-01-25, 06:38 PM
Welcome back, Xykon! Sorry, you'll have to make due with what's left from the Linear Guild return party.

Syklone
2012-01-25, 06:38 PM
{{Scrubbed}}

ORione
2012-01-25, 06:39 PM
I'm looking forward to seeing what Redcloak is planning.

Also, I love MitD's line.

:mitd: Oh man, I haven't seen him this mad since the last time I saw him!

That's saying something, especially if this (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0661.html) was the last time MitD saw Xykon. (They're both in the strip after it, but MitD was asleep.)

Fish
2012-01-25, 06:40 PM
Huh, So Redcloak IS keeping the phylactery to himself after all.
It looks that way... but it ain't for sure until it happens.

cc_kizz
2012-01-25, 06:40 PM
Oh my, my, my. Is Redcloak finally putting into action a plan to take down Xykon?

And it's Xykon! As ignorant as ever. :-)

Gorm_the_DBA
2012-01-25, 06:40 PM
With all these twists and turns...I almost wonder if...

Redcloak gives the *real* one up with a "I'll wear this cunning replica so that if they take it again...." line

Endon the White
2012-01-25, 06:40 PM
Maybe there is hope for Redcloak yet. I think this shows that he hasn't completely forsaken his goals. He still cares for the Goblin people. He would have killed the polymorphed spy, but he would have felt bad about it. He will make sacrifices for the Greater "Good", but he is still pursuing his goal.

Redcloak really is a masterful villain. He is evil, majorly evil, but he is so sympathetic. And his goals, or stated goals at least, are very noble.

If wonder if it's too late.

Lord Ruby34
2012-01-25, 06:42 PM
Wow, the updates are coming fast. With the Kickstarter project going on I thought that the comic would be updating more slowly for a while.

CoffeeIncluded
2012-01-25, 06:42 PM
Oh crap. Oh crap. Redcloak's keeping the phylactery for himself. Tsukiko may have actually told someone. Things could get even nastier.

The Succubus
2012-01-25, 06:42 PM
In fairness to Xykon, I really hate it as well when people off on random tangents while I'm trying to strangle them. :xykon:

WoodStock_PV
2012-01-25, 06:43 PM
One more page please giant.. you just can't do this to us!

SlyJohnny
2012-01-25, 06:44 PM
It was a tender moment with the dead craftsman, up until you realise that Redcloak had probably planned to disintegrate him after receiving the phylactery, even if he hadn't been murdered beforehand.

Though I suppose it's possible that the craftsman knew he had to die upon completion of his work, but made the sacrifice anyway.

I wonder how Redcloak is going to play this. "The resistance stole your phylactery, but I went and got it back for you and then immediately brought it here without doing anything treacherous in between" versus "Tsukiko retrieved it for you, but was tragically killed by the resistance in the process, coincidentally in such a way that verifying my story or resurrecting her is totally impossible."

turkishproverb
2012-01-25, 06:44 PM
I like this one. Interesting way for that to go.


In fairness to Xykon, I really hate it as well when people off on random tangents while I'm trying to strangle them. :xykon:

...

STOP FLIRTING WITH ME SUCCUBUS!

Flame of Anor
2012-01-25, 06:45 PM
Alright, Redcloak! Good for him for finally doing something on his own terms, not just knuckling under to Xykon all the time.

Also: I correctly guessed what was going to happen for once! Yay!


EDIT: voilą! I totally called this, like, two weeks ago.


Could Redcloak be planning to give Xykon a replica phylactery?

Jay R
2012-01-25, 06:46 PM
Oh crap. Oh crap. Redcloak's keeping the phylactery for himself. Tsukiko may have actually told someone. Things could get even nastier.

nastier than being eaten by wights? I'm not too worried.

Athaniar
2012-01-25, 06:46 PM
Very interesting. Certainly intriguing to see Redcloak carrying out his master plan like this.

Gaius
2012-01-25, 06:46 PM
Ooh, sneaky dealings. I wonder if Xykon will actually fall for it... Though I guess even that leaves open the possibility of faking it.

... Though I wonder why he's only now casting protection magic on the fake-lactery, now. :smallconfused: ... Though I guess all the Detect Magic's being thrown around in the phylactery search would make it really suspicious.

Also, good to see Xykon's still amusing in his casual villainy. :smalltongue: Part of me had worried he'd gone stale, after the fine examples of Magnificent Bastardry that Tarquin and Redcloak have been pulling off. Time will tell if the lich gets a chance for anything impressive on their level anytime soon.

One Skunk Todd
2012-01-25, 06:47 PM
What do you suppose the interrupted spell was? I can't imagine RC's going to get away with this.

Zea mays
2012-01-25, 06:47 PM
Thank you so much Giant for all these splendid rapid updates. :smallsmile:

Poor Jirix. I have so much more sympathy for him that for Red-Eye (heh, Red-Eye ). Not even impressed with his not-so-heart-felt little speech to the deceased craftsman.

Joseph Silver
2012-01-25, 06:47 PM
Is that a Phantom of the Opera reference I see?

Lord Loss
2012-01-25, 06:47 PM
Whoa I really didn,t see that coming....

Redcloak has just been so awesome these past strips, the quality of the comic has been top-notch.

warmachine
2012-01-25, 06:47 PM
Redcloak is playing with fire but he might be able to pull it off. I don't think a phylactery has any inherent properties besides regeneration of the lich, so a fake can't be detected.

Mutant Sheep
2012-01-25, 06:47 PM
Rich. You just made Xykon's return both terrifying and hilarious. Cudos yet again. :smallcool:

Zigg'rrauglurr
2012-01-25, 06:48 PM
Brilliant plan from Redcloak. Check
Respect for the dead moment to differentiate RC from X. Check
MITD joke. Check
Xykon being a complete monster but hilariously so. Check

Perfect 10. A+ Comic :smallbiggrin:

HalfTangible
2012-01-25, 06:48 PM
"Because he wanted to give me a chance to blow them all into smithereens while being sarcastic and condescending."
"Did do you do the interior decoration joke?"
"Yessir."
"So you HAVE learned something from all this."

JSSheridan
2012-01-25, 06:49 PM
Thanks Giant!

"Lich is in the house, yo!" We've been waiting for it, and he's finally back.

Porthos
2012-01-25, 06:49 PM
He's actually going to try to do it. :smalleek:

This will not end well, mark my words.

Whiffet
2012-01-25, 06:49 PM
Yep, fake phylactery. Good call, Redcloak. Now hurry and give it to Xykon before he kills Jirix. I like Jirix, I don't wanna see him die.

Weird how happy I am to see Xykon on screen (er, on panel?) again. I can't wait to see how this goes.

DoctorIllithid
2012-01-25, 06:49 PM
Hm. Judging from what Xykon said in 656, I'd think there are more spells on it than that. I guess Redcloak could say the Elves managed to get rid of most of them before he could find it. Still, good to see Xykon hasn't changed too much. I'm mostly curious for what Redcloak's excuse for Tsukiko's "disappearance" is going to be.

Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll
2012-01-25, 06:50 PM
Redcloak, what are you planning?

Sir_Ophiuchus
2012-01-25, 06:51 PM
Some serious spell scholarship from Redcloak there. Nice!

I wonder if it'll work, though? Can Xykon really not sense part of his spirit/essence/whatever in it? What a gaping flaw / necessary drawback.

Prospero7
2012-01-25, 06:52 PM
What do you suppose the interrupted spell was? I can't imagine RC's going to get away with this.

My first guess is a Greater Glyph of Warding of some type.

@Zanatos777 - Obscure Object (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/obscureObject.htm)

I've played a lot of divine spellcasters over the years but that's one spell I've never used. :smalltongue:

Porthos
2012-01-25, 06:53 PM
Hm. Judging from what Xykon said in 656, I'd think there are more spells on it than that. I guess Redcloak could say the Elves managed to get rid of most of them before he could find it. Still, good to see Xykon hasn't changed too much. I'm mostly curious for what Redcloak's excuse for Tsukiko's "disappearance" is going to be.

We have no idea how many spells Redcloak put on it, since he walked "out of panel" as he was casting them. He might even have had scrolls on him to finish the job for the more obscure ones.

Actually, as i think about it, that means that he had these spells memorized each and every single day in the eventuality that phylactery was found.

That's hard core right there.

Ancano
2012-01-25, 06:55 PM
I wonder where Xykon is going to keep the new "phylactery". Do you think he'll trust Redcloak to carry it after what happened?

Arminius
2012-01-25, 06:56 PM
Hm. Judging from what Xykon said in 656, I'd think there are more spells on it than that. I guess Redcloak could say the Elves managed to get rid of most of them before he could find it. Still, good to see Xykon hasn't changed too much. I'm mostly curious for what Redcloak's excuse for Tsukiko's "disappearance" is going to be.
A good way to kill two birds with one stone might be to say he discovered Tsukiko was a double agent. He followed her back to the rebel hideout, destroyed everything there, and found the phylactery among the corpses. All the bodies were destroyed in the attack and the phylactery is returned, so Redcloak's word is all Xykon has to go on, and he probably still assumes that Redcloak is completely under his thrall for reasons mentioned in SoD.

dancrilis
2012-01-25, 06:57 PM
Great to see Xykon back and taking centre stage as always.

I kind of hope he passes his sense motive check.

Flame of Anor
2012-01-25, 06:57 PM
I just noticed the funniest line of #831, which I'd somehow missed:

:mitd: "Oh man! I haven't seen him this mad since the last time I saw him!"

AgentofHellfire
2012-01-25, 06:57 PM
Really a damn incredible job...not to mention a really fast progression, which I must thank The Giant for. :smallsmile:


Anyone else wonder if any of this will lead to an ultimate Xykon/Redcloak conflict (okay, obvious, but bear with me) and thus play into the hands of the Archfiends?

t209
2012-01-25, 06:57 PM
Brilliant plan from Redcloak. Check
Respect for the dead moment to differentiate RC from X. Check
MITD joke. Check
Xykon being a complete monster but hilariously so. Check

Perfect 10. A+ Comic :smallbiggrin:

Yes, Redcloak not only destroy the evidence, he gave him a funeral.

MaximKat
2012-01-25, 06:57 PM
Did I miss something or RC could just resurrect his orange friend?

luc258
2012-01-25, 06:58 PM
Great strip, great upgrade speed, great Xykon joke.

So the poor hobgoblin was a smith after all and Redcloak is trying something funky with the phylactery.

So if he gives the fake phylactery to Xykon, what could be his plan with the real one?

Also I'm a bit surprised that all those protection spells can be cast en passant. I expected them to require some sort of magical laboratory and a lot of time to cast them all on the fake amulet.

Glome
2012-01-25, 06:59 PM
How did the craftsman make a perfect replica without having the original to work with? Redcloak teleported in with the phylactery still on him, so he couldn't have given it to the craftsman beforehand.


Did I miss something or RC could just resurrect his orange friend?

He could, but he's not going to for the same reason he didn't raise the spy. He can't afford to let anyone else know that Xykon was being cheated.

Actually, I'm sort of confused as to why he needed to leave the spy now. What the spy knows doesn't expose anything if Redcloak is just going to give Xykon a fake version of the phylactery. He already knows the resistance nabbed the holy symbol, and if he has it now it would have to be because he got it back.

kreszantas
2012-01-25, 06:59 PM
Funny how choking a hobbo turns them green... Poor Jirix, does he have the Team Evil health plan? :smallwink: If so, then they will be needing to pick a new #2 fairly quick.

luc258
2012-01-25, 07:03 PM
Did I miss something or RC could just resurrect his orange friend?

I assume he couldn't trust anyone with the knowledge that a fake amulet looking like the phylactery was crafted.

Thinking of it, i wonder if it was actually necessary to kill the hobgoblin spy?(if he wouldn't have had been killed by the resistance in the first place). All the spy knew was that the phylactery was recovered by Redcloak and it seems Redcloak will hand over the fake version anyways.

The Succubus
2012-01-25, 07:03 PM
Did I miss something or RC could just resurrect his orange friend?

Dark One: "Didn't I see you up here about a month back?"

Jirix: "Ummmm...."

Dark One: "That's right, you had been turned into a giant kebab by a berserk paladin."

Jirix: "Yes, sir."

Dark One: "So why are you up here again?"

Jirix: "I got strangled by an equally berserk lich."

Dark One: "You hang out with the most interesting people, don't you...."

DreadArchon
2012-01-25, 07:04 PM
We have no idea how many spells Redcloak put on it, since he walked "out of panel" as he was casting them. He might even have had scrolls on him to finish the job for the more obscure ones.

Actually, as i think about it, that means that he had these spells memorized each and every single day in the eventuality that phylactery was found.

That's hard core right there.

This is observant and probably mostly true, but it's less hard core when you realize that he really had no reason to memorize a bunch of other things instead. It's not like he's out adventuring, and combat spells to resist ambushes were of course part of his anti-resistance package.

I also suspect that he has items to grant him extra memorized spells. I forget what all those were called, but I'm guessing the Crimson Mantle itself also functions as one.

Fitzclowningham
2012-01-25, 07:04 PM
I would think RC and Xykon would have used permanency on their abjurations. Greater Obscure Object (et al.) all have limited durations. I wonder how RC will attempt to explain the discrepancy. The DC to dispel anything cast by a ~L27 lich has to be beyond anything the elves could muster, even if they managed to get lucky on one or two of the spells. Or is RC planning something for before they wear off...?

Edit: In addition, the elves would only have had something like 10-15 minutes to try to get rid of the enchantments. They couldn't have gotten much accomplished.

Raven777
2012-01-25, 07:04 PM
Redcloak is on fire this week. Let's just hope this doesn't become literal.

Porthos
2012-01-25, 07:06 PM
Did I miss something or RC could just resurrect his orange friend?

Dead men Disintergrated men tell no tales.

Remember no one can know of what Redcloak is doing (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0827.html). If the craftsman lived, he might be found out. No matter how remote the possibility, Redcloak is making sure there is no possibility of someone spilling their guts about this.

Which means, as noted above the craftsman would almost certainly have been killed by Redcloak once he turned over the fake to Redcloak.

Dude isn't taking any chances here. Well, beyond the pretty obvious one (trying to fool Xykon in the first place), of course. :smallwink:

Flame of Anor
2012-01-25, 07:07 PM
How did the craftsman make a perfect replica without having the original to work with? Redcloak teleported in with the phylactery still on him, so he couldn't have given it to the craftsman beforehand.

I'm thinking Redcloak sketched it for him or something.

zimmerwald1915
2012-01-25, 07:07 PM
Being away so long has put Xykon off his game. It really shouldn't be taking him so long to strangle Jirix with his bare phylanges. Among other things.

Step it up, X!

Golt
2012-01-25, 07:08 PM
Well things are just getting more and more awesome...

kreszantas
2012-01-25, 07:09 PM
Dead men Disintergrated men tell no tales.

Remember no one can know of what Redcloak is doing (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0827.html). If the craftsman lived, he might be found out. No matter how remote the possibility, Redcloak is making sure there is no possibility of someone spilling their guts about this.

Which means, as noted above the craftsman would almost certainly have been killed by Redcloak once he turned over the fake to Redcloak.

Dude isn't taking any chances here. Well, beyond the pretty obvious one (trying to fool Xykon in the first place), of course. :smallwink:

Not so true, now if Gust of Wind or other type of "scattering" of the ashes was done then yes, True Res would not bring them back. It is all about the details. :smalleek:

Pokonic
2012-01-25, 07:09 PM
Love the pacing, Giant. We all love the hard work and effort into this strip.:smallsmile:

PrinceOfMadness
2012-01-25, 07:11 PM
My thoughts:

Could this possibly be a double bluff? Perhaps Redcloak plans to lie to Xykon, telling him the phylactery was lost. Xykon makes his Sense Motive check, and takes the (fake) phylactery from Redcloak. Now Xykon feels confident in having outsmarted Redcloak, and never takes a guess at his real plan.

Kojiro
2012-01-25, 07:13 PM
Actually, as i think about it, that means that he had these spells memorized each and every single day in the eventuality that phylactery was found.

That's hard core right there.

Actually, since he hired the guy to make the fake for him, and thus should have had a reasonable estimate on when the fake would have come in, he probably wouldn't have bothered until it got close to the time for it to arrive.

Anyway, as others have stated, looks like Redcloak may actually be able to pull this off, at least for now; he can hand over the phylactery to tide over the "oh hey the person researching the most important thing died" bit (if that gets revealed), while still having the actual phylactery for future plans. Not bad.

Laws of Chaos
2012-01-25, 07:13 PM
First of all- YAY Xykon's back!

Second- I'm wondering if Xykon will be fooled by everything that RC is doing right now. He has a lot of loop holes to try and fill and it doesnt look as if X is in the mood to hear any of it!

SamBurke
2012-01-25, 07:13 PM
YAY! Another comic! And we finally see the falling out of Redcloak and Xykon rigggggght on the horizon.

RaggedAngel
2012-01-25, 07:14 PM
I just wanted to point out the fact that, as a prepared caster, Redcloak planned every single part of this (minus Tsikiko, who he killed with a class ability) from the start. Everything has gone like clockwork.

He may not be as smart as Vaarsuvius, but he's extremely intelligent, coupled with casting-stat Wisdom. Redcloak may be more of a threat than Xykon, though in subtler ways.

t209
2012-01-25, 07:14 PM
Thanks to Redcloak, Azurites are now officially
Dunmers after their homeland of Morrowind was conquered by lizards! or Gears of War 3

dancrilis
2012-01-25, 07:14 PM
It really shouldn't be taking him so long to strangle Jirix with his bare phylanges.

He isn't trying to strangle him he is trying to get info.
But having said that I think that Jirix may only be alive as Xykon seems to like him somewhat.

Flame of Anor
2012-01-25, 07:16 PM
My thoughts:

Could this possibly be a double bluff? Perhaps Redcloak plans to lie to Xykon, telling him the phylactery was lost. Xykon makes his Sense Motive check, and takes the (fake) phylactery from Redcloak. Now Xykon feels confident in having outsmarted Redcloak, and never takes a guess at his real plan.

Yes, because intentionally antagonizing Xykon is a good plan, and one which Redcloak often uses.

The Pilgrim
2012-01-25, 07:16 PM
As I thought, Redcloak is giving Xykon a fake Phylactery. Glad to see he arrived in time to prevent the execution of Jirix.

I'm risking my luck in order to predict that Xykon has been away this much time for, among other things, find a safe and unreachable place to hide his Phylactery. He should have learnt that leaving it with the goblin minion who is always next to him is not a good idea. After all, the Phylactery is there to rebuild him if someone ever manages to take him off... and if someone is powerful enough to do that, it can also vaporize his goblin minion. Soon being a fine example.

The fast updates are wonderful. Thank you, Giant!

Qwertystop
2012-01-25, 07:17 PM
The demonroach said that MitD has previously been wrong about being himself! CLUE!

EDIT: Oops, meant to put that in the MitD thread.

Bovine Colonel
2012-01-25, 07:19 PM
Is it just me or is there a gaping flaw here?

:xykon:: Hey, what's that in your hand?

:redcloak:: :smalleek: Uh...


Or am I just misinterpreting this strip?

Prince_of_Games
2012-01-25, 07:21 PM
So, let the speculation on Redcloak's next move commence!

I'd think the logical next move would be to just give Xykon the fake phylactery, say "Here. I got it back for you. By the way, have you seen Tsukiko? She was acting a bit funny..." and then keep going as before. But it seems RC has something else in mind. For one thing, if that were his plan, there would have be no need to kill the hobgoblin spy from strip #827 -- in fact, leaving him alive would help verify the story. So, it's crazy idea time!

Also, I just want to say that "May you be called upon to gild the edges of the Dark One's own armor" is a totally badass epitaph. If we get another scene with the army, I want a panel with that guy working on it.

M.A.D
2012-01-25, 07:21 PM
Is that a Phantom of the Opera reference I see?

Where did you see it? The title is a reference to poker.


This is observant and probably mostly true, but it's less hard core when you realize that he really had no reason to memorize a bunch of other things instead. It's not like he's out adventuring, and combat spells to resist ambushes were of course part of his anti-resistance package.

I also suspect that he has items to grant him extra memorized spells. I forget what all those were called, but I'm guessing the Crimson Mantle itself also functions as one.

Those are combat spells? I thought they were protection spells? I don't know D&D, so.. can those spells really be used in combat?

dps
2012-01-25, 07:23 PM
Oh crap. Oh crap. Redcloak's keeping the phylactery for himself. Tsukiko may have actually told someone. Things could get even nastier.

Told someone what, exactly?

Morph Bark
2012-01-25, 07:24 PM
Is it just me or is there a gaping flaw here?

:xykon:: Hey, what's that in your hand?

:redcloak:: :smalleek: Uh...


Or am I just misinterpreting this strip?

He put the original in the small bag and put that away. He cast all those spells on the fake because those spells were cast on the original as well.

Laniius
2012-01-25, 07:26 PM
Yep, fake phylactery. Good call, Redcloak. Now hurry and give it to Xykon before he kills Jirix. I like Jirix, I don't wanna see him die.

Weird how happy I am to see Xykon on screen (er, on panel?) again. I can't wait to see how this goes.

Jirix has died a couple times already. One resurrection, or if Redcloak is feeling spiffy, True Resurrection, and he'll be fine.

INoKnowNames
2012-01-25, 07:27 PM
Can someone explain something to me?

Why is Redcloak not allowed to revive the Goblins? Or if he can, why isn't he?

That, and the whole "Soul Hidey Place Switch" that seems to be going on.....

With all the epicness that is -drastically- pushing towards a Climax (Tarquin (and Nale)vs the Order of the Stick, with Xykon headed their quickly), do you think there's a chance that Xykon might find out about the "SHP" and do something about it, possibly making this a 4 way battle? (assuming Red Cloak lives through an angry Xykon, of course.)

Belsirk
2012-01-25, 07:28 PM
First: Thank Giants for the quick update, great work!

Second: Ouch... didn't though about a fake Phly...

M.A.D
2012-01-25, 07:29 PM
Is that a Phantom of the Opera reference I see?

Where did you see it? The title is a reference to poker.


This is observant and probably mostly true, but it's less hard core when you realize that he really had no reason to memorize a bunch of other things instead. It's not like he's out adventuring, and combat spells to resist ambushes were of course part of his anti-resistance package.

I also suspect that he has items to grant him extra memorized spells. I forget what all those were called, but I'm guessing the Crimson Mantle itself also functions as one.

Those are combat spells? I thought they were protection spells? I don't know D&D, so.. can those spells really be used in combat?

RedWarrior0
2012-01-25, 07:30 PM
Can someone explain something to me?

Why is Redcloak not allowed to revive the Goblins? Or if he can, why isn't he?


Cutting away the loose ends. Same reason he had the wights destroy themselves.

Gnoman
2012-01-25, 07:31 PM
Those are combat spells? I thought they were protection spells? I don't know D&D, so.. can those spells really be used in combat?

No, he's saying that the handful of combat spells he might need would be part of his basic anti-resistance package, and he's not out adventuring, so he only needs to prepare enough spells to get through one fight. This leaves enough slots to have the various protection spells readied.

That said, it now seems that Tsukiko had Redcloak fairly outgunned in terms of spells. If she hadn't had her wights along, that encounter might have gone badly for her.

Kish
2012-01-25, 07:31 PM
Can someone explain something to me?

Why is Redcloak not allowed to revive the Goblins? Or if he can, why isn't he?
For the same reason he didn't resurrect the spy.

No witnesses to the way Redcloak is doublecrossing Xykon.

As other people have already commented, had Tsukiko not killed the smith, no doubt Redcloak would have.

Krizak
2012-01-25, 07:33 PM
The beauty here is that Redcloak doesn't need to recast every single spell that is on the real phylactery on the fake; he only needs to cast the spells that make it feel the same, an amulet which cannot be interacted with by any means other than physically touching it. That is something he may well have been able to accomplish on his way upstairs.

As for the craftsman, it was an old craftsman. Unlike the spy, I'd suspect that he knew what his fate was to be after the completion of his work, but given the chance to craft an item which would result in the betterment of all goblinkind, followed by what Redcloak probably promised would be a swift and painless death while he was still at his prime in his craft, I would think he was okay with it. The only thing that went wrong was that his death was instead violent and likely painful.

Bastian
2012-01-25, 07:35 PM
Another simlply. perfect. comic.

It seems that RC's scheming went really deep...has someone wondered whether the Resistance was tipped off by him? As in, whether he intended the phylactery to be stolen as soon as it was found in order to carry out his ruse?

Either that, or RC deserves brownie (greenie?) points for creative improvisation.
My respect for him is growing every passing day.

Adicted To
2012-01-25, 07:35 PM
it says 2011 at the bottom of the comic.

Draconi Redfir
2012-01-25, 07:40 PM
RIP Elder Craftsman.


Maybe there is hope for Redcloak yet. I think this shows that he hasn't completely forsaken his goals. He still cares for the Goblin people. He would have killed the polymorphed spy, but he would have felt bad about it. He will make sacrifices for the Greater "Good", but he is still pursuing his goal.
Perfectly possible the spy in the resistance was always a human and just supported/joined the Goblins.

LtNOWIS
2012-01-25, 07:41 PM
Redcloak is pretty lucky that Tsukiko didn't search the craftsman. Not only should that be standard practice when killing someone, but she was thoroughly searching the study.

INoKnowNames
2012-01-25, 07:42 PM
Dang.... Red Cloak has to kill his own people to ensure that he can use Xykon....

What about all of the Demons and the Elemental when he first got the thing back? And why did the spy have to be killed? How would he have known about Red Cloak doing a double cross?

eilandesq
2012-01-25, 07:45 PM
If Redcloak had to cast permanency for each of those spells, he just lost a ton of XP. If he didn't, they'll fade at some point--meaning that Xykon might eventually notice the switch if he's paranoid enough.

Gusion
2012-01-25, 07:45 PM
This strip makes me wonder what V is doing on the plane of ranch dressing for all this time.

Aldrakan
2012-01-25, 07:46 PM
Recloak sure is lucky that the hobgoblins he needs to die were killed by someone else before he needed to do it himself. It probably makes him feel a lot less guilty about sentencing them to death.

At a guess, the plan here is to keep the phylactery so if Xykon dies he can destroy him. I doubt after the O'chul incident Xykon would give it back to him, and will be hiding it somewhere Redcloak can't find it. He doesn't want to lose one of the few contingencies he has left.

The MunchKING
2012-01-25, 07:47 PM
Wow... the comic updated like 10 minutes ago (0r 50 minutes from now if you beleave the on-site clocks. I must have them set for the wrong timezone. :smalltongue:), and there's already three pages of replies.

One Skunk Todd
2012-01-25, 07:47 PM
If Redcloak had to cast permanency for each of those spells, he just lost a ton of XP. If he didn't, they'll fade at some point--meaning that Xykon might eventually notice the switch if he's paranoid enough.

Depends on whether RC can convince Xykon to let him keep holding the phylactery, in which case he (RC) is golden.

Bovine Colonel
2012-01-25, 07:47 PM
He put the original in the small bag and put that away. He cast all those spells on the fake because those spells were cast on the original as well.

He's got the orange case in his hand though.

rman
2012-01-25, 07:48 PM
Redcloak is pretty lucky that Tsukiko didn't search the craftsman. Not only should that be standard practice when killing someone, but she was thoroughly searching the study.

"You there, extra white, search the body. You are looking for a key or a scroll."

It is a very ornate goblin holy symbol. Essentially what all of the higher level goblin clerics wear. Nothing special to be seen at the door of the highest goblin cleric.

The MunchKING
2012-01-25, 07:48 PM
If Redcloak had to cast permanency for each of those spells, he just lost a ton of XP. If he didn't, they'll fade at some point--meaning that Xykon might eventually notice the switch if he's paranoid enough.

Do Clerics get Permanancy??

Anyway, if he cast most of them the first time, he may have already been updating them as they fade.

One Skunk Todd
2012-01-25, 07:48 PM
Wow... the comic updated like 10 minutes ago (0r 50 minutes from now if you beleave the on-site clocks. I must have them set for the wrong timezone. :smalltongue:), and there's already three pages of replies.

Four. :) Well, three and change at least.

dps
2012-01-25, 07:50 PM
Oh crap. Oh crap. Redcloak's keeping the phylactery for himself. Tsukiko may have actually told someone. Things could get even nastier.

Told someone what, exactly?

Bastian
2012-01-25, 07:50 PM
Depends on whether RC can convince Xykon to let him keep holding the phylactery, in which case he (RC) is golden.

Excellent point, very true

One Skunk Todd
2012-01-25, 07:50 PM
If Redcloak had to cast permanency for each of those spells, he just lost a ton of XP. If he didn't, they'll fade at some point--meaning that Xykon might eventually notice the switch if he's paranoid enough.

I wonder if RC could have cast at least some of the spells on it while the smith was working on it.

ETA: And dang, the poor smith, he must have died thinking he failed because Tsukiko was going to take the fake off of him since he probably thought that's what she was looking for.

SnowballMan
2012-01-25, 07:52 PM
What do you suppose the interrupted spell was? I can't imagine RC's going to get away with this.
"Greater Obscure Object"
"Hardening"
"Superior Resistance"
"Greater--
Explosive Runes" :smallbiggrin:

RndmNumGen
2012-01-25, 07:53 PM
Why is Xykon calling Redcloak Red-Eye? An amalgamation of Redcloak and Wrong-Eye?

One Skunk Todd
2012-01-25, 07:55 PM
"Greater Obscure Object"
"Hardening"
"Superior Resistance"
"Greater--
Explosive Runes" :smallbiggrin:

I was actually wondering if there was any way RC could booby-trap the phylactery with something like that on the inside. So if X ever did inhabit it again he would read the words of (Some Random Destructive Spell) and blow the phylactery and himself up. We already know Explosive Runes won't do the trick.

Whiffet
2012-01-25, 07:55 PM
To everyone who was complaining a few comics ago about how pointless losing the phylactery was:

Hah! :smalltongue:

The MunchKING
2012-01-25, 07:56 PM
Four. :) Well, three and change at least.

That one popped up in the time it took me to post that. :smalltongue:

Animidest
2012-01-25, 07:56 PM
What about all of the Demons and the Elemental when he first got the thing back? And why did the spy have to be killed? How would he have known about Red Cloak doing a double cross?

The outsiders went back to their home planes, and thus would be extremely difficult to locate. That's why Redcloak used only summoned (and called) monsters.

ella ventic
2012-01-25, 08:00 PM
Just noticed the sound effects in the first panel.

...ew. :smalleek:

Grimly Feendish
2012-01-25, 08:00 PM
After all that preparation Redcloak couldn't be going to fail on a little detail like the fake phylactery's chain/cord hasn't been cut, could he?

Edric O
2012-01-25, 08:06 PM
:redcloak: seems to be wearing bracers of +50 badassery this week. I'm so glad he finally figured out that he needs a plan to dispose of Xykon when necessary.

Also, I'm betting RC doesn't expect X to actually carry the fake phylactery around with him long enough to notice that something is wrong. After all, if you have a magic item intended to resurrect you when your body is destroyed, it kinda defeats the purpose to carry it on your body.

No, I think RC expects X to fly off with the phylactery and hide it in some secret place behind impenetrable defenses.

Bit Fiend
2012-01-25, 08:06 PM
Nice one, Giant! This is going to be really ineresting...

As to why the spy had to die, I think it went like this: RC retrieved the phylactery, spy witnessed this and could bossibly report. RC could not allow this, as he had still some business to do with the phylactery. He could have given the blacksmith instructions on the general shape of the holy symbol before any scratches and bruises but could not possibly have remembered said details. Therefore he had to take the symbol to the blacksmith first to show him the scratches that needed to be added. This caused a delay which RC could not allow to go noticed, therefore the only (prime material) person besides him who knew of the moment the phylactery was retrieved had to die.

Swordlol
2012-01-25, 08:08 PM
I really hope that Xykon calls RC on his bluff.

I am cheering for Xykon.

Subzero008
2012-01-25, 08:09 PM
I just read SoD.
I cannot take Xykon(mostly) humorously anymore,
considering how he threatened to kill Right-eye's family, manipulated RC into being his bitch(exact words)
because of how utterly EVIL(with all capital letters) he is.
Its kind of disturbing to see how casuallyhe kills and tortures out of boredom.
Rich did a great job at creating an utterly unsympathetic villain.

Also, given how RC remembered to tell the last wight to burn in the fireplace, its odd how he left the craftsman's ashes on the floor.

Angband
2012-01-25, 08:11 PM
Uh oh... anyone catch that setup line, "Exactly as I remembered them?"

Redcloak is NOT aware that V cast Explosive Runes on the back of the phylactery. Therefore he could not have told the Elder Craftsman to replicate the damage. I wonder if Xykon will be able to see the lack of damage (or even just the lack of magical spell residue?) on the back and figure out it's not his real Phylactery?

Qwertystop
2012-01-25, 08:13 PM
"You there, extra white, search the body. You are looking for a key or a scroll."

It is a very ornate goblin holy symbol. Essentially what all of the higher level goblin clerics wear. Nothing special to be seen at the door of the highest goblin cleric.

And it's sealed in a box that looks like a book, which makes more sense to be seen on a non-cleric than a holy symbol does.

Occasional Sage
2012-01-25, 08:17 PM
Uh oh... anyone catch that setup line, "Exactly as I remembered them?"

Redcloak is NOT aware that V cast Explosive Runes on the back of the phylactery. Therefore he could not have told the Elder Craftsman to replicate the damage. I wonder if Xykon will be able to see the lack of damage (or even just the lack of magical spell residue?) on the back and figure out it's not his real Phylactery?

He's comparing them as he said it. It's not expository, but self-congratulatory.

One Skunk Todd
2012-01-25, 08:17 PM
Uh oh... anyone catch that setup line, "Exactly as I remembered them?"

Redcloak is NOT aware that V cast Explosive Runes on the back of the phylactery. Therefore he could not have told the Elder Craftsman to replicate the damage. I wonder if Xykon will be able to see the lack of damage (or even just the lack of magical spell residue?) on the back and figure out it's not his real Phylactery?

Good point, on the other hand it was in the sewers getting variously soaked, rinsed and mucked, and who knows what else for... weeks? ...months? RC can just say he cleaned it off.

luc258
2012-01-25, 08:18 PM
Well, there's a guess for what Xykon has been doing at least:

preparing a secret and defended place for his phylactery.
This could mean that the goal of Redcloak's plan is to keep access to the phylactery without any further plans.

Would be a bit anti climatic though.

JSSheridan
2012-01-25, 08:19 PM
Actually, since he hired the guy to make the fake for him, and thus should have had a reasonable estimate on when the fake would have come in, he probably wouldn't have bothered until it got close to the time for it to arrive.

It stretches believability to think the fake was just now finished and delivered on the same day the real one was found. And it's ludicrous to actually think a contractor would get done on schedule. :P

RC probably commissioned it a couple days after V's attack, and it has been ready for a couple weeks. As soon as he heard the real one had been found, he sent for it. It was probably safer to leave with the artisan instead of leaving it setting in his study.

Question is, did the artisan blab about his important project for the supreme leader?

Giftzwerg76
2012-01-25, 08:21 PM
Do not underestimate Xykon. He's not an Idiot, he usually just acts silly for fun because he has things under controll. I would be surprised if he didn't know a thing or two about Redcloak's agenda.

The question for me is, whether he knows little enough to fall for it, or enough to actually use Redcloak for his own purposes.

And yeah, the old goblin was marked for a martyr's death all along.

PhantomFox
2012-01-25, 08:22 PM
I've got a bad feeling about this. Surely Xykon can tell whether or not it's the real McCoy, right?

Stormlock
2012-01-25, 08:24 PM
Redcloak could easily handle permanency for any spell he can cast on the amulet via scrolls. And he certainly has the xp to spare given the things he summons. Considering half the point of the spells cast on the phylactery is to make it impossible to identify with magic, I'm guessing it isn't going to be doubted as a fake, unless Xykon decides to be extra careful and dispel the **** out of it to examine it naked. And I don't think he has the wisdom or intelligence for that.

Also, regarding the spy; while Xykon knows that the resistance got the phylactery, he obviously does not know about the double agent embedded with them in case they find it. With the spy safely dead, Redcloak can make up any story he wants about how he got the phylactery back from them after they intercepted it.

What I really like about these last two strips is the fact that they're showing just how evil Redcloak really is. Xykon may have given up his humanity for power, but Redcloak has given up considerably more to further his goals. He has unflinchingly sacrificed and betrayed things he holds dear at every turn for the sake of his plan. Xykon isn't even close, because he never bothered to give a crap about anything but himself in the first place.

Vectner
2012-01-25, 08:27 PM
I just want to say that Rich you are totally awesome and I am so glad you are able to keep up with everything involved in the kickstart for the reprints and still get us two great comics this week. I just want to thank you for your hard work. This strip in itself is wicked and it moves the plot along so well.
Thanks again.

Orzel
2012-01-25, 08:27 PM
So wait.. Xykon can't sense his soul in the Phylactery?

SaintRidley
2012-01-25, 08:28 PM
Some serious spell scholarship from Redcloak there. Nice!

I wonder if it'll work, though? Can Xykon really not sense part of his spirit/essence/whatever in it? What a gaping flaw / necessary drawback.



So wait.. Xykon can't sense his soul in the Phylactery?

There is nothing of Xykon in his phylactery at the moment. The only time anything of Xykon is in the phylactery is when he has no body and his soul goes in there to regenerate.

luc258
2012-01-25, 08:29 PM
So wait.. Xykon can't sense his soul in the Phylactery?

His soul isn't in the phylactery, it's in his body. It returns to the phylactery if Xykon's body gets destroyed.
Wether Xykon can tell his phylactery apart from an imitation was the big question a few strips ago, i guess the story has decided that he can't.

MoonCat
2012-01-25, 08:32 PM
Awesome, I lol'd.

So, someone was right about the old dude. Can't remember who, but props to them!

Qwertystop
2012-01-25, 08:32 PM
Uh oh... anyone catch that setup line, "Exactly as I remembered them?"

Redcloak is NOT aware that V cast Explosive Runes on the back of the phylactery. Therefore he could not have told the Elder Craftsman to replicate the damage. I wonder if Xykon will be able to see the lack of damage (or even just the lack of magical spell residue?) on the back and figure out it's not his real Phylactery?

With all the protective spells on it, do you really think a little bit of Force damage would be noticeable?

StrykerX
2012-01-25, 08:33 PM
Uh oh... anyone catch that setup line, "Exactly as I remembered them?"

Redcloak is NOT aware that V cast Explosive Runes on the back of the phylactery. Therefore he could not have told the Elder Craftsman to replicate the damage. I wonder if Xykon will be able to see the lack of damage (or even just the lack of magical spell residue?) on the back and figure out it's not his real Phylactery?

Don't forget that :xykon: never had a chance to examine the phylactery after the explosive runes went off, since it fell into the sewer right afterwards. That means he won't really know if the blast left a mark or not, since the phylactery is heavily warded and might very well have no visible damage at all.

Enlong
2012-01-25, 08:34 PM
Redcloak is pretty lucky that Tsukiko didn't search the craftsman. Not only should that be standard practice when killing someone, but she was thoroughly searching the study.

Redcloak had to use a spell or key word or something to open the magical lock on the case. She wouldn't have found anything useful.

Blaznak
2012-01-25, 08:35 PM
Awesome update~ Really a cool story building up!

Gnoman
2012-01-25, 08:39 PM
Nice one, Giant! This is going to be really ineresting...

As to why the spy had to die, I think it went like this: RC retrieved the phylactery, spy witnessed this and could bossibly report. RC could not allow this, as he had still some business to do with the phylactery. He could have given the blacksmith instructions on the general shape of the holy symbol before any scratches and bruises but could not possibly have remembered said details. Therefore he had to take the symbol to the blacksmith first to show him the scratches that needed to be added. This caused a delay which RC could not allow to go noticed, therefore the only (prime material) person besides him who knew of the moment the phylactery was retrieved had to die.

More likely, RC has no problem telling Xykon that the phylactery is recovered, but, as long as there are no witnesses, it's going to be very hard for any information as to the details or timing to get out. Right now, he can pretty much tell Xykon anything he wants about the events, such as claiming that a certain mystic theurge was involved.

Murray
2012-01-25, 08:42 PM
Aww man! I hope Jirix survives! Secondary and tertiary characters have had real bad luck the last few updates.

The MunchKING
2012-01-25, 08:43 PM
Redcloak could easily handle permanency for any spell he can cast on the amulet via scrolls.

Why are people saying that? Permacy is Wizard/Sorcerer (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/permanency.htm) not a cleric spell...

The Pink Ninja
2012-01-25, 08:44 PM
The Phylactery is covered in so many warding spells I doubt Xykon would be able to sense anything but the warding spells. Very cunning.

All RC needs to do now is sell Xykon Tsuiko's death and he's home free.

Kalmegil
2012-01-25, 08:45 PM
If Redcloak had to cast permanency for each of those spells, he just lost a ton of XP. If he didn't, they'll fade at some point--meaning that Xykon might eventually notice the switch if he's paranoid enough.

If Xykon is going to put the phylactery somewhere safe, Redcloak's spells only have to last until the deposit is made. That way, Xykon can test the protection, see it works, and be fooled. And we know Xykon wants to move quickly, so it will probably be only minutes before the phylactery is put in the new safe place.

fill-in-name
2012-01-25, 08:48 PM
"Every detail,
Every scratch.
Exactly as I remembered them.
A perfect match."

anyone else read that as a rhyme?

Cynric
2012-01-25, 08:49 PM
Ha!

Ye Gods I've missed Xykon.

Conuly
2012-01-25, 08:50 PM
Confab. Now there's a word I've never heard outside of my own immediate family before!

Zordrath
2012-01-25, 08:52 PM
I have this feeling that Redcloak's severely underestimating Xykon here. We already know through Tsukiko's orders that Xykon has started to mistrust RC, but do we know what Xykon has been up to while he was gone? I just can't see all this ending well... and as awesome as Redcloak has been these last few strips, I think it would suck to see Xykon reduced to too much of a puppet, considering that he's the main villain. Though whether all this will blow up in Redcloak's face in the short term or in the long term I couldn't say at this point.

Dr.Epic
2012-01-25, 09:25 PM
Next he'll be going on about a lack of blood.:smallwink:

homeslice
2012-01-25, 09:27 PM
Xykon's back!

Huzzah!

Funny line by the MiTD.

Now let's see how well the ol' switcheroo goes.

Khiron
2012-01-25, 09:28 PM
Wow.

RC is pulling all the strings, indeed.
Assuming that Xykon isn't fooled, which I think is fairly unlikely given his low inteligence, overzealous desire to have his phylactery back, and "knowledge" that Redcloak would never betray him, he's pretty much in the clear and on top.
I really don't think that Xykon will care that Tsukiko is gone at all.

Awesome strip.

Incom
2012-01-25, 09:29 PM
Wouldn't it take a while to forge that fake phylactery? Complete with all the little scratches?
...
How long HAS Redcloak been on this? 0_o

2 "gp's" says [speculation] OOTS ends up destroying the fake phylactery at Windy Canyon and assumes that Xykon is now vulnerable.

homeslice
2012-01-25, 09:36 PM
Wouldn't it take a while to forge that fake phylactery? Complete with all the little scratches?
...
How long HAS Redcloak been on this? 0_o

2 "gp's" says [speculation] OOTS ends up destroying the fake phylactery at Windy Canyon and assumes that Xykon is now vulnerable.

I think Tsukiko mentioned that they had been searching for almost a year now.

Arcadian
2012-01-25, 09:36 PM
Wait, I'm confused.

Redcloak's whole reason for creating a fake phylactery (Or as I'll call it, a fauxlactery (Hope that catches on!)) was because he doesn't expect Xykon to let him keep it after he lost it the first time. He's going to give the fauxlactery to Xykon.

But Xykon's not keeping it on his person, that defeats the purpose of a phylactery in the first place. And for that matter, I thought the reason Redcloak was carrying it in the first place was because if Xykon's body was ever destroyed (Which it was) he'd need someone to tend after him (Which he did).

If I were Xykon, I'd give it straight to Tsukiko. She'd probably enshrine it, and would almost certainly sacrifice herself before she let anything happen to it. She'd be convinced it was a token of Xykon's love, so of course, Xykon would feel safe with her having it.

But Redcloak just offed her. There's no way Xykon's going to brush off her disappearance. He has too much invested in her, what with the ritual and her love for him. What is Redcloak doing, then, giving Xykon the fauxlactery? Xykon's not a genius, but he's not an idiot. He'll piece it together, especially when he's mad and not in the mood for games.

I can't wait to see what Redcloak does next.

Anarion
2012-01-25, 09:39 PM
The best part of this is that Redcloak is probably planning to hand over the fake phylactery right away and look like he's got things under control, which is likely to get him back into Xykon's good graces.

Also, poor Jirix. He gets stabbed, he gets choked, and he's forced into awkward public speaking. That goblin can't catch a break.

Ellye
2012-01-25, 09:56 PM
As mentioned, Tsukiko would be the perfect phylactery-bearer for Xykon.
She's strong enough to defend herself even against PCs, and she's naive enough to be completely and absolutely loyal.
Xykon might miss her right now.

And the very first thing that crossed my mind while reading the comics was the duration of those spells. This might raise suspicions..

Oh, and by the way, recently Order of the Stick has been remembering me why it is the most epic story I've ever read. This webcomic is awesome!

Chi13iM
2012-01-25, 09:58 PM
Hello all, long time viewer, first time poster.

Given the great amount of story (and controversy) taking place of late, I figured that I would like to join these forums to post my voice on the subject.

Honestly, truth be told, I have always viewed Redcloak as the primary antagonist of OotS instead of Xykon. Really, if you stop to think about it, it's Redcloak whose plan pretty much drives the entire plot of the whole comic. Xykon is powerful sure, but that does not change the fact that he has been laboring for 30+ years on a plan that was ultimately Redcloak's and will ultimately screw him in the end. Also, those who have read SoD know that:

Without Redcloak, Xykon would likely have wasted the remainder of his life committing petty villainy before finally succumbing to old age and dying an ignoble death. He had no real motivation to do anything of any real worth in all his living years, nor did he have the know-how to become a lich himself. Again, this was all Redcloak.

Also, I think people give Xykon way too much credit. Don't get me wrong, I love to hate him just as much as the next person, but people seem to confuse his occasional flashes of cunning and insight for near deity level omniscience. He is certainly smarter than most (in comic) give him credit for, but he is hardly smarter than most (out of comic) think he is. And at this point I think Redcloak knows this.

In regards to Xykon's waning trust in Redcloak, it's likely not Redcloak's loyalty that is in question to Xykon given recent events, but rather his competence. Xykon has given no real indication that he is questioning the Plan, and even him having Tsukiko research the ritual was more likely due to Xykon hoping to be able to ditch Redcloak at his leisure rather than him suddenly thinking that the whole plan was fishy. Xykon is still proceeding with the Plan with no hints that he suspects any real foul play from Redcloak, whom he believes he has thoroughly cowed and broken. The only reason Xykon hasn't offed Redcloak at this point for the loss of his phylactery is pretty much because he still needs him for the plan. Sure he could give another goblin the Crimson Mantle, but said goblin would be far weaker than Redcloak and thus much more of a liability. Thus Xykon was probably hoping that Tsukiko would figure out the ritual and thus, due to her being easy to manipulate, he could just have her replace Redcloak as his divine caster for the ritual.

These recent chapters have shown that, even though he is still subordinate to Xykon, Redcloak is hardly a minion, nor is he really second in command. He is content to allow Xykon to call the shots because, as far as he is concerned, once the plan has been completed, he'll have the last laugh. Xykon is working for Redcloak, or rather the Dark One, and he has shown no real evidence of knowing that.

This is my take at least.

Tulya
2012-01-25, 10:12 PM
Hrm... going to ignore the Redcloak casting oddities, since it's been stated repeatedly that this story is about the story, not rules compliance. Beyond that, the use of 'the best anti-detection spells we know on it' implies that Xykon contributed buffs to the phylactery as well, and presumably some of those are unique to the arcane spell list, and currently lacking. The whole reason Xykon was involved with The Plan in the first place, after all, was the limited availability of reasonably strong Arcane casters. Unless Redcloak found some substitute, all of those buffs are going to remain absent from the fake phylactery.
Fortunately, Xykon doesn't seem to be particularly adept with Divination, which is fairly normal for sorcerers. Assigning one of his limited spells known to something like Analyze Dweomer is very improbable, especially with his preference for the metaphorical magical hammer. Redcloak should have the planning skills and spells to foil what limited divination spells Xykon has. Detect Magic, for instance, is a rudimentary tool that could discern some differences in number of functioning spells and their approximate levels of strength. It would also be very easy to cause it to give out identical readings, so long as you have spells of at least 7th level.

EccentricFellow
2012-01-25, 10:17 PM
Hmmm, you know, I am getting the sneaking suspicion that the Giant has been plotting this whole arc for much longer than a year now. How it will play out yet is, I suspect, a foregone conclusion. Nonetheless it is quite enjoyable to see it being played.

Chi13iM
2012-01-25, 10:21 PM
Ultimately I think that, as long as the protections on the fake phylactery that protect against divinations are up, Redcloak should be fine. Given that Xykon himself admitted to having so many spells cast on it that he didn't even remember what half of them did is also a good sign for Redcloak. And even IF Xykon discovered some protections missing, Redcloak could easily spin it and just say that the resistance probably managed to break a few of them before the phylactery was secured. I doubt Xykon would care to delve too deeply.

Also, it seems odd that so many people believe that Redcloak would have to make insane Bluff checks to lie to Xykon. Sense Motive is Wisdom based, a mental stat that Xykon himself indirectly admitted was his lowest mental stat, not too mention that Sense Motive is not a Sorcerer class skill, and thus likely quite low even if Xykon bothered to put points into it. Granted Rich has stated that he doesn't feel the need to follow D&D rules religiously, but they likely would still influence things like this, at least to some degree.

Redcloak, on the other hand, likely has plenty of reasons to invest heavily in Bluff, and even if it's not a class skill (depending on what Redcloak's other domain is), he likely has a pretty sold Charisma score as a cleric and thus is probably quite capable of telling a lie.

thereaper
2012-01-25, 10:22 PM
From a few pages back:


A good way to kill two birds with one stone might be to say he discovered Tsukiko was a double agent. He followed her back to the rebel hideout, destroyed everything there, and found the phylactery among the corpses. All the bodies were destroyed in the attack and the phylactery is returned, so Redcloak's word is all Xykon has to go on, and he probably still assumes that Redcloak is completely under his thrall for reasons mentioned in SoD.

This is what I've been thinking of as the best way for RC to sweep Tsukiko's death under the rug.

Though I'm finding it difficult to believe RC can replicate all the protection spells on it. There must have been some arcane-only ones on there.

Beltaranis
2012-01-25, 10:27 PM
I think Xykon could be fooled. But we know the Mitd is very perceptive with magic and with Sod we know what he will do if he sense betrayal from Redcloak.

Concerning the spy, i think Redcloak helped the Resistance to steal the philactery in order to get it without any suspicions. Murdering Tsukiko certainly wasn't planned and it's too bad, she would have beeen the best to keep the fake philactery.

Porthos
2012-01-25, 10:32 PM
I'm usually not one to do this, but as I check out the spells, anyone have any idea how Redcloak was able to cast Hardening (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/divine/spells/hardening.htm)?

Seems to me that his only "out" is if he has the Artificier domain. Yet we're already seen that he has the Law and Destruction domains.

Personally, I'm gonna go with either A) all Clerics have access to Hardening in OotSVerse, or that B) The Dark One is fudging the rules a bit, kinda like Thor did.

Or maybe even C) The Crimsion Mantle (for some reason) gives it to him.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this? I'm more curious to hear people's ideas on how he could cast it than anything else. I realize that Miracle could do it, but I'm pretty sure Redcloak was out of 9th level spells to case (though maybe not, if he had an insane Wisdom score).

Chi13iM
2012-01-25, 10:32 PM
As far as what Redcloak will say in regards to Tsukiko's disappearance, trying to pin the blame on her or set her up as a resistance sympathizer seems like a bad idea. It would seem too suspicious for Redcloak to make that claim, and Xykon would likely immediately suspect something (whether he would care is another matter), and it would definitely set alarms off.

Instead, it seems more likely that Redcloak may say that Tsukiko died in the process of helping to storm the resistance base. It would be more believable than Tsukiko being a traitor, Xykon wouldn't give a damn about her anyways, he'll have his Phylactery back, etc.

I doubt Redcloak will bother to inform Xykon of the exact nature of Tsukiko's death at the hands of her own wights, for similar reasons. While Xykon would undoubtedly find it amusing, it would raise questions about WHY Redcloak would execute her. While Xykon wouldn't care about her dying, he WOULD care about Redcloak's reasons. Making her out to be a martyr would stave off such questions, and given her behavior regarding Xykon, would be much more believable that she died in the line of duty (with her body "unfortunately" being unavailable for resurrection).

slayerx
2012-01-25, 10:35 PM
Though I'm finding it difficult to believe RC can replicate all the protection spells on it. There must have been some arcane-only ones on there.

True, but he may not need to. He only needs enough to make Xykon THINK it has all the same protections. Spell resistance, hardening and a few others to make sure it can not easily break; Greater obscure object to keep it from being detected, and then maybe a few others that prevent anyone from detecting what spells protect it. Put them together and Xykon will not know that its missing some protections.

Chi13iM
2012-01-25, 10:36 PM
I'm usually not one to do this, but as I check out the spells, anyone have any idea how Redcloak was able to cast Hardening (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/divine/spells/hardening.htm)?

It seems to be his only "out" is if he has the Artificier domain. Yet we're already seen that he has the Law and Destruction domains.

Personally, I'm gonna go with either A) all Clerics have access to Hardening in OotSVerse, or that B) The Dark One if fudging the rules a bit, kinda like Thor did.

Or maybe even C) The Crimsion Mantle (for some reason) gives it to him.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this? I'm more curious to hear people's ideas on how he could cast it than anything else. I realize that Miracle could do it, but I'm pretty sure Redcloak was out of 9th level spells to case (though maybe not, if he had an insane Wisdom score).

I think Lesser Miracle would do the job. Another possibility is that maybe he used a spell contained in a Ring of Spell Storing (prepared for just such an occasion with the arcane spells Redcloak might need in this scenario), or, as you said, maybe the Dark One is fudging things.

McStabbington
2012-01-25, 10:50 PM
True, but he may not need to. He only needs enough to make Xykon THINK it has all the same protections. Spell resistance, hardening and a few others to make sure it can not easily break; Greater obscure object to keep it from being detected, and then maybe a few others that prevent anyone from detecting what spells protect it. Put them together and Xykon will not know that its missing some protections.

There's also the simple fact that Sense Motive is a cross-class skill for sorcerers and discern lies is divine magic. Even supposing Xykon just had a really good wisdom score (for which I haven't seen a tremendous amount of evidence), Xykon might pick up some indication that RC isn't telling him the whole story, but when have they ever been completely honest with each other?

When it comes right down to it, Xykon has no reason to worry about not being able to trust RC because trust isn't what their relationship is built on. It's built on the fact that they both benefit from working towards a common end. If Xykon hasn't picked up on the fact that RC isn't working for their mutual advantage after 30 years (big if, I know), I doubt highly that the disappearance of a laughable underling and Redcloak showing up in the nick of time with the phylactery is really going to cause their relationship to break down.

Porthos
2012-01-25, 10:51 PM
I think Lesser Miracle would do the job. Another possibility is that maybe he used a spell contained in a Ring of Spell Storing (prepared for just such an occasion with the arcane spells Redcloak might need in this scenario), or, as you said, maybe the Dark One is fudging things.

Lesser Miracle is Homebrew AFAIK (though it might be in one of the supplements). But it seems logical enough that it might be in many campaign worlds. So, yeah, maybe.

The only way a ring of spell storing would work though is if it were a Major Ring of Spell Storing (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/rings.htm#spellStoringMajor), and he (Lesser) Miracled it in there. And those things are a tad expensive. But, yeah, maybe it was one of those endless magic items that were made.

Chi13iM
2012-01-25, 10:55 PM
There's also the simple fact that Sense Motive is a cross-class skill for sorcerers and discern lies is divine magic. Even supposing Xykon just had a really good wisdom score (for which I haven't seen a tremendous amount of evidence), Xykon might pick up some indication that RC isn't telling him the whole story, but when have they ever been completely honest with each other?

When it comes right down to it, Xykon has no reason to worry about not being able to trust RC because trust isn't what their relationship is built on. It's built on the fact that they both benefit from working towards a common end. If Xykon hasn't picked up on the fact that RC isn't working for their mutual advantage after 30 years (big if, I know), I doubt highly that the disappearance of a laughable underling and Redcloak showing up in the nick of time with the phylactery is really going to cause their relationship to break down.

Pretty much this. So long as Redcloak can keep Xykon feeling as though he is in full control, that's all he needs for his goals. Xykon has no reason to suspect Redcloak's loyalty, only his capability (given that this whole breakdown between the two is due to Redcloak loosing the Phylactery). Once Xykon has his phylactery back, the status quo will likely be restored (at least mostly), and Xykon will likely teleport everyone before he bothers to even think about Tsukiko, and once they have teleported he'll likely not even care or bother to cast Sending to get in contact.

AutomatedTeller
2012-01-25, 10:59 PM
great comic. I had some issues at first with the timing, but on further thought, it seems obvious that the phylactery was completed much earlier and was just delivered to him as the plan unfolded.

I didn't see red cloak repair the chain, though - it's clearly broken on the original.

Chi13iM
2012-01-25, 11:02 PM
Lesser Miracle is Homebrew AFAIK (though it might be in one of the supplements). But it seems logical enough that it might be in many campaign worlds. So, yeah, maybe.

The only way a ring of spell storing would work though is if it were a Major Ring of Spell Storing (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/rings.htm#spellStoringMajor), and he (Lesser) Miracled it in there. And those things are a tad expensive. But, yeah, maybe it was one of those endless magic items that were made.

You're correct about Lesser Miracle (though I'm sure I've seen it somewhere...), but regarding the Ring of Spell Storing, he may have had a hobgobblin wizard cast it in there, or perhaps he cast it from a scroll in there so that he would have it available without having the actual scroll on his person.

Or perhaps Rich just decided, again, that D&D rules are just loose guidelines and we're all looking much too deeply into this for our own good :smalltongue:

In regards to even having a Major Ring of Spell Storing, they literally have the resources of an entire metropolis to draw upon, not to mention their level, so I doubt money is any concern at all.

Xorbon
2012-01-25, 11:11 PM
Lucky Redcloak! That's the second time he isn't forced to kill one of his followers in order to protect his secret.

Porthos
2012-01-25, 11:13 PM
You're correct about Lesser Miracle (though I'm sure I've seen it somewhere...), but regarding the Ring of Spell Storing, he may have had a hobgobblin wizard cast it in there, or perhaps he cast it from a scroll in there so that he would have it available without having the actual scroll on his person.

The thing about Rings of Spell Storing is that the person who uses the ring has to be able to cast it in the first place. Which gets us back to the (Lesser) Miracle idea. Unless...


Or perhaps Rich just decided, again, that D&D rules are just loose guidelines and we're all looking much too deeply into this for our own good :smalltongue:

Obviously. :smalltongue: I was just looking to see if I had missed something incredibly obvious. Wouldn't be the first time, after all. :smallwink:

Chi13iM
2012-01-25, 11:19 PM
The thing about Rings of Spell Storing is that the person who uses the ring has to be able to cast it in the first place. Which gets us back to the (Lesser) Miracle idea. Unless...



Obviously. :smalltongue: I was just looking to see if I had missed something incredibly obvious. Wouldn't be the first time, after all. :smallwink:

Actually, the spells in a Ring of Spell Storing can be used by anyone, the description itself states that a druid can put druid spells inside the ring and then give it to a barbarian who could then use the stored spells (the barbarian just wouldn't be able to cast new spells into the ring). So the ring idea is still quite viable (the bigger flaw in this notion is whether there are any hobgoblin wizards strong enough to cast said spells).

Hatu
2012-01-25, 11:28 PM
Lesser Miracle is Homebrew AFAIK (though it might be in one of the supplements). But it seems logical enough that it might be in many campaign worlds. So, yeah, maybe.

The only way a ring of spell storing would work though is if it were a Major Ring of Spell Storing (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/rings.htm#spellStoringMajor), and he (Lesser) Miracled it in there. And those things are a tad expensive. But, yeah, maybe it was one of those endless magic items that were made.

Technically, the full version of Miracle could duplicate Hardening. Since we know he can cast Implosion (which is also a Destruction spell), it's possible he memorized Miracle too.

Anyway, great strip; it's always nice to see the main plot advancing. I'm certainly curious to see where this leads.

-H

The MunchKING
2012-01-25, 11:29 PM
The thing about Rings of Spell Storing is that the person who uses the ring has to be able to cast it in the first place. Which gets us back to the (Lesser) Miracle idea. Unless...

He found another Arcane Spellcaster who wasn't a retard like the SOD Goblin wizard?? :smalltongue: Maybe one of the brown-cloaks?? You don't have to be Epic to cast Hardening after all.

deuxhero
2012-01-25, 11:34 PM
It's a yellow circle filled with white with two lines, not hard to be identical :smalltongue:

Porthos
2012-01-25, 11:35 PM
Actually, the spells in a Ring of Spell Storing can be used by anyone, the description itself states that a druid can put druid spells inside the ring and then give it to a barbarian who could then use the stored spells (the barbarian just wouldn't be able to cast new spells into the ring). So the ring idea is still quite viable (the bigger flaw in this notion is whether there are any hobgoblin wizards strong enough to cast said spells).


He found another Arcane Spellcaster who wasn't a retard like the SOD Goblin wizard?? :smalltongue: Maybe one of the brown-cloaks?? You don't have to be Epic to cast Hardening after all.

OK, I misunderstood the description in the SRD about Spell Storing:

"A ring of spell storing contains up to three levels of spells that the wearer can cast."

I took that last bit to mean one of the silly restrictions that they like to put in occasionaly.

Nebber Mind. :smallredface: :smallsigh:

Chi13iM
2012-01-25, 11:40 PM
He found another Arcane Spellcaster who wasn't a retard like the SOD Goblin wizard?? :smalltongue: Maybe one of the brown-cloaks?? You don't have to be Epic to cast Hardening after all.

You don't have to be epic, but you do have to be at least 11th level. Not saying that it's impossible, but given how the hobo horde is depicted, an 11th level anything seems like a bit of a stretch. Certainly possible, but not something I would bank on.

ORione
2012-01-25, 11:49 PM
I didn't notice that Xykon called Redcloak "Red-Eye" until just now.

Mr Jones
2012-01-25, 11:50 PM
Awesome sauce.

I think it'll actually be pretty easy for Redcloak to pin the snafu with the resistance on Tsukiko. Xykon might wonder why she would've stabbed in him the back, but it's not as though he'd expect Redcloak to know why.

Given that he's got what Xykon wants, Xykon'll probably be satisfied with Redcloak pointing out that he'd always said she shouldn't be trusted. As for why she betrayed them, Redcloak can just say he didn't bother finding out. He caught her in the act, and without any further ado ordered her wights to drain her to death and then eat her.

Far from being suspicious, Xykon will probably find the whole thing hilarious, give Redcloak a pat on the back, and get right back to his plans for world domination. After all, this is a guy who thought Redcloak "forgetting" to make an exception to the elemental's "kill all humans" order was grade A entertainment even when he didn't suspect Tsukiko of any disloyalty.

CN the Logos
2012-01-26, 12:01 AM
To all the people wondering what Redcloak could possibly be doing:

If he continues this trend of ruthless pragmatism and competence, he'll most likely take the real phylactery back to his room and destroy it right now. Keeping it to hold over Xykon has failed before, and if Redcloak left it intact with the intent of maybe destroying it later, there's very little chance that Redcloak could prevent Xykon from taking the thing back if he ever found out about the deception. Destroying it right now won't kill Xykon and probably won't even alert him to its destruction (the game is unclear on this, but I don't recall reading anything to the effect of "the lich knows if you destroy the phylactery"), but it will ensure that in the event The Plan fails, Redcloak won't have unleashed an unstoppable monster on the world still inhabited by his people.

In addition, with the exception of having a bloodthirsty psychopath for his partner in The Plan, Redcloak's doing really well right now. He's avenged the destruction of his hometown, established the setting's goblinoids as a sovereign power over what remains of the country he took vengeance on, reconstruction seems to be going well enough so that they don't have to worry about attack from other armies, he knows everything he needs to complete The Plan, and he's still immortal. If Xykon's dumb enough to fulfill his role all the way to the end, fine, that's less trouble. In the event that Redcloak judges Xykon to be too much of a risk, well, he can always kill two birds with one stone by arranging a fight between Xykon and the Order of the Stick (or anyone else of moderate to high level who happens to be in the way), letting Xykon wear himself down destroying the threat, and then killing him off when he's running low on mojo. Then he Word of Recalls back to his office in the military state he controls, and finds a goblinoid arcane caster who is both skilled enough to make it to high levels and sympathetic to the true nature of The Plan.

It may take a while, but he has both time and resources now, and as he's said recently, "stupid risks are just that: stupid." Xykon is nothing but a stupid risk, and never has been anything else... But now Redcloak has both perspective and options.


Wait, I'm confused.

Redcloak's whole reason for creating a fake phylactery (Or as I'll call it, a fauxlactery (Hope that catches on!)) was because he doesn't expect Xykon to let him keep it after he lost it the first time. He's going to give the fauxlactery to Xykon.

But Xykon's not keeping it on his person, that defeats the purpose of a phylactery in the first place. And for that matter, I thought the reason Redcloak was carrying it in the first place was because if Xykon's body was ever destroyed (Which it was) he'd need someone to tend after him (Which he did).

If I were Xykon, I'd give it straight to Tsukiko. She'd probably enshrine it, and would almost certainly sacrifice herself before she let anything happen to it. She'd be convinced it was a token of Xykon's love, so of course, Xykon would feel safe with her having it.

But Redcloak just offed her. There's no way Xykon's going to brush off her disappearance. He has too much invested in her, what with the ritual and her love for him. What is Redcloak doing, then, giving Xykon the fauxlactery? Xykon's not a genius, but he's not an idiot. He'll piece it together, especially when he's mad and not in the mood for games.

I can't wait to see what Redcloak does next.

No, the phylactery doesn't need to be anywhere near Xykon to work. In fact, when I first started reading this comic, my reaction to finding out that Redcloak kept the thing on him was "wait, he's keeping the magical item that can return his boss from the dead on a chain around his neck while the two of them are in the same room? So that if one of them is killed, the other has a good chance of quickly following them? Not what I'd expect from a class with Wisdom as it's primary score..."

Now, it's true that Xykon will be fairly helpless while he regenerates. But that's easily solved by creating a random sealed off hiding place in the middle of nowhere and leaving it there, guarded by as many magical booby traps as is feasible. If the lich can teleport, the place doesn't even need an entrance. This goes for the Soul Jar plot device in general: anyone who knows how to make one is probably capable of hiding it very, very well (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koschei).


Hello all, long time viewer, first time poster.

Given the great amount of story (and controversy) taking place of late, I figured that I would like to join these forums to post my voice on the subject.

Honestly, truth be told, I have always viewed Redcloak as the primary antagonist of OotS instead of Xykon. Really, if you stop to think about it, it's Redcloak whose plan pretty much drives the entire plot of the whole comic. Xykon is powerful sure, but that does not change the fact that he has been laboring for 30+ years on a plan that was ultimately Redcloak's and will ultimately screw him in the end. Also, those who have read SoD know that:

Without Redcloak, Xykon would likely have wasted the remainder of his life committing petty villainy before finally succumbing to old age and dying an ignoble death. He had no real motivation to do anything of any real worth in all his living years, nor did he have the know-how to become a lich himself. Again, this was all Redcloak.

Also, I think people give Xykon way too much credit. Don't get me wrong, I love to hate him just as much as the next person, but people seem to confuse his occasional flashes of cunning and insight for near deity level omniscience. He is certainly smarter than most (in comic) give him credit for, but he is hardly smarter than most (out of comic) think he is. And at this point I think Redcloak knows this.

In regards to Xykon's waning trust in Redcloak, it's likely not Redcloak's loyalty that is in question to Xykon given recent events, but rather his competence. Xykon has given no real indication that he is questioning the Plan, and even him having Tsukiko research the ritual was more likely due to Xykon hoping to be able to ditch Redcloak at his leisure rather than him suddenly thinking that the whole plan was fishy. Xykon is still proceeding with the Plan with no hints that he suspects any real foul play from Redcloak, whom he believes he has thoroughly cowed and broken. The only reason Xykon hasn't offed Redcloak at this point for the loss of his phylactery is pretty much because he still needs him for the plan. Sure he could give another goblin the Crimson Mantle, but said goblin would be far weaker than Redcloak and thus much more of a liability. Thus Xykon was probably hoping that Tsukiko would figure out the ritual and thus, due to her being easy to manipulate, he could just have her replace Redcloak as his divine caster for the ritual.

These recent chapters have shown that, even though he is still subordinate to Xykon, Redcloak is hardly a minion, nor is he really second in command. He is content to allow Xykon to call the shots because, as far as he is concerned, once the plan has been completed, he'll have the last laugh. Xykon is working for Redcloak, or rather the Dark One, and he has shown no real evidence of knowing that.

This is my take at least.

I agree completely. The fact that Xykon hasn't killed Redcloak yet means that he doesn't know the ritual is useless to him, which in turn implies that he never bothered picking up any halfway decent divination spells (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/contactOtherPlane.htm). If he did, he'd have cast them at some point during the last three decades and Redcloak would have been tortured, killed, and soul bound already. Pretty much all of Xykon's spells either kill things or harm them grievously to the point where they might as well be dead: exceptions being a couple of transportation spells, something to hold things still so he can taunt them, undead creation, and something to keep the things he kills killed. He's the magical equivalent of a tactical nuke; great for killing a lot of things, but not good at anything else. You could theoretically start a campfire with the heat, I guess, but that'd be pretty stupid.

Make no mistake, Xykon is tremendously powerful within his area of expertise. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for the rest of the world, he's made a mistake common to many psychopaths; he believes his own utter lack of empathy and scruples is a keen insight and strength on his part, when in fact it mostly just means that everyone who's in contact with him for more than a minute finds him utterly abhorrent and wants him gone at the earliest opportunity. He's not even the clever type of psychopath who uses his own lack of emotions to facilitate his ability to fake social acceptability. He's a magical version of the guy who stabs people for the money in their wallets because it's easier and more fun than holding down a job, then goes home to torture some cats for ****s and giggles.

Redcloak is the real antagonist here, the one setting the whole plot in motion. Xykon is a duped psychopath. He may or may not ultimately kill Redcloak and take his place as the final boss, but he's never been in charge of anything aside from murdering things what need to be murdered, and quite a few things that don't.

Chi13iM
2012-01-26, 12:18 AM
^Pretty much my thoughts exactly.

I agree for the most part regarding Red Cloak immediately destroying the Phylactery, though this is rather dependent, like you said, on just how such a thing works in this setting. It seems more likely to me that Red Cloak will keep it on him, but unlike before where he tries to use it to threaten Xykon, he'll just keep it hidden until such time that Xykon is destroyed, and then just destroy it right then and there. No blackmail, no gloating, maybe a parting one-liner, and that's that.

And Red Cloak is indeed the BBEG of Order of the Stick. Xykon is definitely the dragon (though at this current time he could be considered to be the Dragon In Chief), but without Red Cloak Xykon would simply not be here right now. And he really does dance on Red Cloak's strings. So your description of him as a tactical nuke is quite apt. He is a weapon; a very volatile, dangerous weapon, but just a weapon none-the-less. So long as Red Cloak can keep him placated and pointed on course, Red Cloak is the true mastermind behind this whole scheme, and is still the only one set to receive ANY benefit from this big evil scheme at all. Xykon is, in fact, an epic level sucker in the grand scheme of things (enjoyably evil he may be).

The only real reason I could see Red Cloak keeping the phylactery on him is for plot/drama reasons. It would be very satisfying, both for Red Cloak and us for Xykon to have a last minute realization of :eek: as Red Cloak casually destroys the phylactery that houses his soul. It would give Red Cloak's character a great sense of closure.

Essex
2012-01-26, 12:18 AM
RC is pulling all the strings, indeed.
Assuming that Xykon isn't fooled, which I think is fairly unlikely given his low inteligence, overzealous desire to have his phylactery back, and "knowledge" that Redcloak would never betray him, he's pretty much in the clear and on top.

Xykon has low intelligence? How do you figure that? The Lich template grants +2 to Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Since Xykon was elderly when he became a Lich, he also gets a +3 to those same attributes from aging modifiers.

Even if Xykon used Intelligence as a dump stat and dropped an 8 into it at character creation, he'd still have a modified Intelligence of 13 at this point. His Intelligence is more likely in the 15 to 17 range, which likely puts him above Redcloak.

Adama
2012-01-26, 12:23 AM
It stretches believability to think the fake was just now finished and delivered on the same day the real one was found. And it's ludicrous to actually think a contractor would get done on schedule. :P

RC probably commissioned it a couple days after V's attack, and it has been ready for a couple weeks. As soon as he heard the real one had been found, he sent for it. It was probably safer to leave with the artisan instead of leaving it setting in his study.

Exactly. Plus that way he doesn't have a copy lying around in his study just in case someone DOES break in--like Tsukiko--it's sitting with the smith, presumably very inconspicuous since it seems like any one of the other goblin holy symbols unless examined by someone who knew the phylactery well. Hiding in plain sight and all that...


Redcloak could easily handle permanency for any spell he can cast on the amulet via scrolls. And he certainly has the xp to spare given the things he summons. Considering half the point of the spells cast on the phylactery is to make it impossible to identify with magic, I'm guessing it isn't going to be doubted as a fake, unless Xykon decides to be extra careful and dispel the **** out of it to examine it naked. And I don't think he has the wisdom or intelligence for that.

Not to mention the patience. He's itching to get back in the fight, so I doubt he's going to take the time to completely field-strip the fauxlactery, particularly since putting those spells back ON might mean waiting at least 8 hours.


I'm usually not one to do this, but as I check out the spells, anyone have any idea how Redcloak was able to cast Hardening (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/divine/spells/hardening.htm)?

Maybe he researched a generic divine version. *Shrug*

Chi13iM
2012-01-26, 12:30 AM
Xykon has low intelligence? How do you figure that? The Lich template grants +2 to Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Since Xykon was elderly when he became a Lich, he also gets a +3 to those same attributes from aging modifiers.

Even if Xykon used Intelligence as a dump stat and dropped an 8 into it at character creation, he'd still have a modified Intelligence of 13 at this point. His Intelligence is more likely in the 15 to 17 range, which likely puts him above Redcloak.

I think it more likely that Xykon has very low Wisdom rather than low Intelligence. A statement he made in SoD hints quite strongly that, even with age modifiers to his mental stats, his Wisdom was still 10 at best, and possibly lower than that (given that all he had to show for wisdom at his venerable age was an analogy about coffee; he himself even remarked about how it was a pitiable showing of wisdom for a character his age).

Thus Xykon can be quite cunning, and he has shown that a number of times, but he has also demonstrated many times his ability to make really bone-headed (pun possibly intended) moves and decisions indicative of low Wisdom.

Adama
2012-01-26, 12:33 AM
Xykon has low intelligence? How do you figure that? The Lich template grants +2 to Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Since Xykon was elderly when he became a Lich, he also gets a +3 to those same attributes from aging modifiers.

Even if Xykon used Intelligence as a dump stat and dropped an 8 into it at character creation, he'd still have a modified Intelligence of 13 at this point. His Intelligence is more likely in the 15 to 17 range, which likely puts him above Redcloak.

I think he means "low intelligence" as in "not a deep thinker." Not as in a character score. Xykon may be plenty intelligent, but he's not good at intricate plans, or applying his cunning to almost anything really except killing things.

Bad Hair Day
2012-01-26, 12:39 AM
Hmmm, you know, I am getting the sneaking suspicion that the Giant has been plotting this whole arc for much longer than a year now. How it will play out yet is, I suspect, a foregone conclusion. Nonetheless it is quite enjoyable to see it being played.

I completely agree. I'm a bit of a story teller myself, and I've read a LOT about the art of story telling. I think the author is a fantastic story teller. I also think he's had all of the story arcs worked out years ago.

skaddix
2012-01-26, 01:19 AM
Well I am expecting both Team Evil and OOTS to be broken at the next gate.

rbetieh
2012-01-26, 01:33 AM
Talk about taking some major risks. We shall see how this plays out.

Forikroder
2012-01-26, 01:53 AM
and theres no way for Xykon to tell its fake, as far as i know the only difference between the fake and the real one is the real one is attuned to xykon, but since both are so heavily magical is impossible to tell what is making it magical at all

since RC has been the one carrying it all this time xykon isnt even familiar with how it looks

Mordokai
2012-01-26, 01:59 AM
I'm not sure I get the reference of the title this time. Other than the obvious poker one, but is there something else to be read from it?

RMS Oceanic
2012-01-26, 02:00 AM
While my original guess of switching his backup symbol wasn't right, the general principle of not giving Xykon the real phylactery looks like that was his plan. :smallsmile:

I think these strips show us that while Redcloak is "evil for a good Cause" compared to Xykon's "Evil with a capital E", he's still evil, and we shouldn't forget this however much sympathy we feel for his cause.

I'm hoping Jirix doesn't make it a hat trick of appearing in front of the Dark One just yet. I look forward to how Redcloak attempts to explain the phylactery, the resistance, the ritual and Tsukiko to Xykon shortly.

Othniel Edden
2012-01-26, 02:01 AM
I wonder if Redcloak put some type of triggered kill spell on the fake phylactery so that once he's done with Xykon he can kill him at anytime.

ti'esar
2012-01-26, 02:13 AM
And finally, Team Evil (or what's left of it) is reunited. It's both bizarre and understandable that Xykon, of all people, is the one bringing the punchlines back. I think everything there is to be said about what Redcloak's trying and why has already been said, so I won't comment there - except to add that


I wonder if Redcloak put some type of triggered kill spell on the fake phylactery so that once he's done with Xykon he can kill him at anytime.

I seriously, seriously doubt there's any triggered kill spell that can one-shot Xykon.

CN the Logos
2012-01-26, 02:13 AM
Xykon has low intelligence? How do you figure that? The Lich template grants +2 to Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Since Xykon was elderly when he became a Lich, he also gets a +3 to those same attributes from aging modifiers.

Even if Xykon used Intelligence as a dump stat and dropped an 8 into it at character creation, he'd still have a modified Intelligence of 13 at this point. His Intelligence is more likely in the 15 to 17 range, which likely puts him above Redcloak.

Regardless of the actual number there (and I see no reason for Redcloak not to have at least a 15 in Intelligence, but that's not really important at the moment), Xykon is overly impulsive, has shown remarkable disdain for the use of actual strategy or tactics, has apparently wasted most of his spell selection on spells that essentially have the same function but take slightly different forms, and wouldn't know what subtlety was if it ran up and started gnawing on his femur. Thus, we say he acts foolish; the number in the Int column on his nonexistent character sheet isn't what we're talking about and won't become relevant unless it actually affects his actions in-story. If I had to guess at his actual mental ability scores, I'd say he's likely got a moderate to above average Intelligence score after his age and template are taken into account, but apparently dumped Wisdom the way Elan dumped Intelligence. Wisdom, which represents insight into how people think, willpower, and awareness of what's happening in one's environment. Wisdom is Redcloak's primary ability.

Another strong possibility, especially given Tsukiko's delusions, is that psychopathology in the OotSverse affects behavior without changing the sufferer's actual mental ability scores. This is entirely possible, given that the optional rules for sanity (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/campaigns/sanity.htm) in Unearthed Arcana work like that.

zimmerwald1915
2012-01-26, 02:18 AM
Wisdom, which represents insight into how people think, ability to manipulate them and tell believable lies, willpower, and awareness of what's happening in one's environment. Wisdom is Redcloak's primary ability.
Minor quibble, but the ability to manipulate people and tell believable lies is Charisma's bailiwick.

TynamMerise
2012-01-26, 02:40 AM
I'm feeling moderately pleased with myself, because I called exactly this in conversation with a friend after the original was lost.

Remember: The real pendant can't be located by magic, and by Xykon's own admission, it has so many abjurations on it that he can't actually remember what they do. All Redcloak actually needs to fool the lich is a pendant with a major abjuration on that prevents it being detected by magic, and a bunch of other defensive spells for verisimilitude.

So while I'm on a roll... by far the easiest way to cover up Tsukiko's death is to admit to it. This is Team Evil. Attempting to off your superior so you can have the surprisingly-coveted number-two-to-the-archvillain slot is expected. All Redcloak has to do is say "She finally made her bid to kill me and take my place. She lost." End of story.

CN the Logos
2012-01-26, 02:58 AM
Minor quibble, but the ability to manipulate people and tell believable lies is Charisma's bailiwick.

Oi, you're right. I need sleep, I suppose. :smallsigh:

Nohar
2012-01-26, 03:12 AM
Ok, it's semi-official now : Jirix is condemned to die in mid-sentence, only to be ressurected by RC each time. It would be the third time if Xykon go through with it (though before it was Miko and Chuck No---O'Chul who did it).

Burner28
2012-01-26, 03:15 AM
Xykon is back!

Cronos988
2012-01-26, 03:22 AM
Thinking about it, if RCs plan succeeds, the dark one still has no way to directly kill Xykon, as he can only shift the gate to the plane of the gods.

That means that even if Xykon is killed during the Ritual, he would regenerate, and be very angry.

So RC has a very tangible interest to make sure that Xykon dies and stays dead right after the ritual is completed.

Kobold-Bard
2012-01-26, 03:22 AM
Team Evil always seems to bring out the best in the comic. Maybe it's just me but all the other plots never really seem to match it.

Good comic, though I'll be surprised if the fake phylactery fools Xykon for long. Probably just long enough to get them to the next Gate.

i6uuaq
2012-01-26, 03:23 AM
On explaining Tsukiko's death - at the hands of the Resistance is plausible, given that dealing with the Resistance was her remit in the first place. Not raising her?


:xykon: Why didn't you raise her?!

:redcloak: (angry) We almost lost the phylactery AGAIN because of her incompetence! I'm not letting the Plan fall to bits because you hired incompetent help.


Xykon tends to listen to RedCloak for strategic-level advice, so I think that's a decent way to go. Also, by painting it in the light of the bigger goal, the death of one minion becomes less significant by comparison. RC can be painted as incompetent too, but definitely less so, plus he got the phylactery back so it makes no bones either way.

TheMeMan
2012-01-26, 03:31 AM
I would say that one major factor in favor of RC not destroying the phylactery right off is that he still needs Xykon, who is a very vital portion of his plan. If Xykon gets destroyed before the ritual can be performed, then it's done. Pack up and go home people, nothing to see here.

So he has to keep it intact at least for the time being. As soon as he is certain of success, he will likely destroy it. Or as leverage over Xykon in the absolute worst case scenario.

Palthera
2012-01-26, 03:44 AM
Brilliant as always.

I can see Redcloak being able to pull this off after all, how much time does Xykon spend looking at the holy symbol constantly around Red Cloak's neck? I see no reason for him to pay much attention to it.

AJ11
2012-01-26, 03:46 AM
I would say that one major factor in favor of RC not destroying the phylactery right off is that he still needs Xykon, who is a very vital portion of his plan. If Xykon gets destroyed before the ritual can be performed, then it's done. Pack up and go home people, nothing to see here.

So he has to keep it intact at least for the time being. As soon as he is certain of success, he will likely destroy it. Or as leverage over Xykon in the absolute worst case scenario.

There is nothing wrong with dispelling all of the protections on it first (barring Obscure Object), so that if need be (e.g., Xykon goes on an uncontrollable rampage or attempts to backstab RC), a quickened Shatter would blow it up permanently.

Lurker-in-Forum
2012-01-26, 03:58 AM
Wow... amazing stuff.

You know, it occurs to me that "Wrong-Eye" there probably doesn't need to be able to see at all to be able to cast that ritual...

:smalleek:

Kish
2012-01-26, 04:52 AM
Even if Xykon used Intelligence as a dump stat and dropped an 8 into it at character creation, he'd still have a modified Intelligence of 13 at this point.
While, note, I do not believe Xykon is actually unintelligent, I wonder why you think his Intelligence needed to start out as high as 8.

Flame of Anor
2012-01-26, 04:56 AM
@^: Elite array.


I think he means "low intelligence" as in "not a deep thinker." Not as in a character score. Xykon may be plenty intelligent, but he's not good at intricate plans, or applying his cunning to almost anything really except killing things.

That's just what a low Wisdom might entail.

Kish
2012-01-26, 05:04 AM
@^: Elite array.
You're going to need to use more words.

"Because Rich told me in a PM that Xykon used the elite array"?
"Because I think the elite array is what produced all the characters in OotS"?

Quild
2012-01-26, 05:10 AM
I'm quite lost in all this...

I'm now ok with the fact that everypony knows in AC that the phylactery has been found (thought the resistance got it and killed all witnesses before the word goes out).

So I don't really get it why RC needed to kill his polymorphied goblin and hide the fact that he litterraly crushed the resistance. I thought at first he wants no one to know that the phylactery has been found, but no...

We learn today that he has asked for a false phylactery. Why? It could have been in order to make Xykon believe they can go on the road again. I guess the protection spells prevent for authentifying the phylactery but that's strange too. RC intented both to give a fake phylactery to Xykon, and to hide the genuine's one once found?

So what will RC do?
- Claim that he crushed resistance? That Tsukiko did? Or won't talk about it?
- Could he claim that Tsukiko found a fake phylactery and let the resistance run with the right one?

skaddix
2012-01-26, 05:50 AM
His best case might just be to say after the resistance stole the Phylactery. He and Tsukiko trialed the rebels back to their base and crushed the rebels. Resistance was greater then expected so RC had no choice but to after recovering Phylactery use an earthquake to wipe out the rebels.

Garwain
2012-01-26, 06:03 AM
I smell the fatal flaw in RC's plan. After all this time the phylactery was in the sewers, I bet you can distinguish the fresh from the not so fresh one.

RMS Oceanic
2012-01-26, 06:05 AM
I smell the fatal flaw in RC's plan. After all this time the phylactery was in the sewers, I bet you can distinguish the fresh from the not so fresh one.

As a scene in Start of Darkness showed, Xykon has been shown to have no sense of taste. I presume this would extend to smell as well.

Bit Fiend
2012-01-26, 06:08 AM
More likely, RC has no problem telling Xykon that the phylactery is recovered, but, as long as there are no witnesses, it's going to be very hard for any information as to the details or timing to get out. Right now, he can pretty much tell Xykon anything he wants about the events, such as claiming that a certain mystic theurge was involved.

Would imply he had planned to get rid of her as soon as the phylactery is recovered regardless of her latest actions. Not unlikely, of course, but I'm not convinced it went that way...

pjackson
2012-01-26, 06:11 AM
His best case might just be to say after the resistance stole the Phylactery.

Probably even better is to say "Don't know, don't care" when asked where she is.

Castamir
2012-01-26, 06:21 AM
Given that Redcloak is fine with denizens of other planes knowing about the plot (summoned bribed demons), I think he meant to Plane Shift the craftsman to some other material plane that has goblins on it. Or to find some other way to put him out of Xykon's reach, without killing him.

I mean, goblin sacrifices are acceptable, but here this one could be easily avoided if not for Tsukiko's meddling.

Edhelras
2012-01-26, 06:31 AM
Since the craftsman wasn't turned into a wight (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/wight.htm) within 1d4 rounds - I assume that means that Tsukiko slew him herself?

AngelusAlvus
2012-01-26, 06:40 AM
What does "Greater Obscure Object" do?

keldorn
2012-01-26, 06:47 AM
I'm quite lost in all this...
So I don't really get it why RC needed to kill his polymorphied goblin and hide the fact that he litterraly crushed the resistance. I thought at first he wants no one to know that the phylactery has been found, but no...


If the spy were left alive, the risk is that Xykon might find out that the Resistance was allowed to get hold of the phylactery. Redcloak could have wiped them out at any time after his spy infiltrated them but deliberately left them around until they took the phylactery. It's another one of his little hypocrisies in that he sacrificed for the sake of the Plan all the hobgoblins the Resistance killed between his infiltrating the spy and his recovering the phylactery.


And, on another subject...

Are we about to reach the end of the book? DStP ended at comic #672. So the average number of comics per book so far is 168. We have now reached the 159th in the 4th book. (There's probably someone out there who is counting the pages, but I am not.)

Xykon had planned to set out as soon as the phylactery was recovered. There will be a little delay while Tsukiko's absence is explained but then I think they will be off.

Then we can have some sort of last strip showing each of the groups on their way to the gate/valley. This would leave us somewhere in the 160s as the number of comics in the book. Books 2 to 4 were in the 180 to 187 range. But what can take up another 20? A taster of the Draketooths?

And as an exercise for the readers, please place the following in order of arrival chez Draketooth:

* OOTS
* Haley's relatives
* Elan's relatives
* Team Evil

The one thing I might guess as is that Haley's relatives arrive first and get a few pages and muddy the water for the OOTS.


And just an afterthought:

Now that Tsukiko isn't in the party, will Xykon insist on taking Jirix, destabilising Redcloaks plans for Gobbotopia?

Chantelune
2012-01-26, 06:47 AM
Nice comic, good to see Xykon again ^^

As for the spells on the fake phylactery, well not sure RC need to worry about making them all the same, Xykon confessed once that his phylactery got so many enchantments on it that he can't remember half of them.

And a double-bluff about "didn't get the phylactery back" ? Too risky because depending on the bluff and sense motives roll, Xykon might buy it and go amok once more, wich will mean Gobbotopia get a history full of events, thought really short. And even if Xykon don't buy the first bluff, he might get more suspicious about the phylactery wich is handed. Plus, RC still need to explain Tsukiko disappearance and angering the lich further more is probably not a good idea.

RC has lost many of Xykon's "trust" with that phylactery blunder, he can't afford taking more risks than strictly necessary. And he already did with Tsukiko forcing him to deal with her at the time.

talkamancer
2012-01-26, 07:10 AM
How large are those cojones getting ?

Kobold-Bard
2012-01-26, 07:14 AM
Probably even better is to say "Don't know, don't care" when asked where she is.

Believable, but Xykon will care. She may have been just a minion but she was working on something immensly and immediately important to him that he couldn't do himself. He is not going to take the news of her death before she could tell him what she knew well.

Karoug
2012-01-26, 07:14 AM
the X-man is back, exactly as mad as the last time the MitD saw him! a very moving moment of RC's part too!

arclight
2012-01-26, 07:27 AM
Either way, I sense a backstab in the lich's future. Probably during a confrontation between the order and Xykon.

Spacewolf
2012-01-26, 07:36 AM
This might mean that RC has more levels than he is suggesting as hardening isnt a cleric spell

factotum
2012-01-26, 08:00 AM
I mean, goblin sacrifices are acceptable, but here this one could be easily avoided if not for Tsukiko's meddling.

The sacrifice of the goblin spy could have been just as "easily" avoided, yet Redcloak explicitly said that he would have executed him anyway if Thanh hadn't killed him first.

Shale
2012-01-26, 08:02 AM
It is if he has the Artifice domain (which, granted, we have seen no indication of before). Alternately, UMD ranks and a scroll we don't see.

Kobold-Bard
2012-01-26, 08:15 AM
This might mean that RC has more levels than he is suggesting as hardening isnt a cleric spell

RC has stated he's of a scientific, as well as religious persuasion. He could have reverse engineered a Divine version (Achivists prove there is a theory component behind Divine spells so it should be possible). Or alternatively he just prayed really, really hard and The Dark One cheated and put it on his spell list since it is important to the plan.

I doubt he has any non-Cleric levels if they haven't been mentioned by now.

Cranica
2012-01-26, 08:17 AM
It is if he has the Artifice domain (which, granted, we have seen no indication of before). Alternately, UMD ranks and a scroll we don't see.

Redcloak's domains are Law and Destruction, iirc.

Feefers
2012-01-26, 08:34 AM
Greatly disappointed at the lack of *fooom* firey sound effects.

Whilst it's possibly for plot it appears very lax of Redcloak not to check nobody came back as a wight themselves as ... that is usually how you make wights.

Zarzar
2012-01-26, 08:58 AM
Called it on Xykon making a Belkar-esque highway of corpses on his way to his phylactery. Gotta love how predictable the insane Chaotic Evil stereotype is.


I still think that Redcloak is going to throw Tsukiko's freshly devoured corpse under the bus with her half of the ritual.

:redcloak: Look what I found at the resistance base. (shows arcane ritual paper)
:xykon: MURDER FIRE MURDER MURDER
:redcloak: You know her love for the undead? I had her wights eat her.
:xykon: *EPIC EVIL BROFIST*

Arrowstorm122
2012-01-26, 09:30 AM
What does "Greater Obscure Object" do?

Found it on a D&D Wiki, it's a 3rd level cleric spell that protects something from scrying.

Roland Itiative
2012-01-26, 09:53 AM
Red-Eye... Brilliant :smalltongue:

I wonder if RC intended to get that artificer hobo killed anyway too, since he "knows too much", like the spy. And how comes Tsukiko didn't find the fake phylactery? Didn't she search the hobo's body after killing him?

Conuly
2012-01-26, 09:55 AM
I'm not sure I get the reference of the title this time. Other than the obvious poker one, but is there something else to be read from it?

Two phylacteries (a real one and a fake one) make RC stronger than Xykon (that'd be the king). Or so RC hopes, anyway.

All this talking is ignoring what I think is the most likely possibility, that Xykon will realize very quickly that the soul-thingy is a fake but not make any obvious moves on that knowledge until the end (or else go and replace the actual phylactery with the fake just so that when RC tries to use that he can laugh in his face).

AngelusAlvus
2012-01-26, 09:57 AM
Found it on a D&D Wiki, it's a 3rd level cleric spell that protects something from scrying.

Thanks! Also doesn't spells have a duration time? I mean does Xykon or RC re-use the same spells on the philactery after a day or so?

Roland Itiative
2012-01-26, 10:07 AM
So, now that we know RC intends on returning the "phylactery" to Xykon, I wonder if he'll say Tsukiko somehow retrieved it and sent it back... right before dying a horrible death when the mountain the Resistance used as base crumbled, killing her in a manner that would be too troublesome to check (specially when there's a Gate waiting).

SteveDJ
2012-01-26, 10:53 AM
I didn't catch that the new strip was up until today - and I'd already been over to read today's Darths & Droids (http://www.darthsanddroids.net/episodes/0680.html) strip.

So I think it is just AWESOME that they both happen to feature the same thing today - Big Bad Guy holding little guy up off the floor by the neck, choking...

UtimaII
2012-01-26, 10:53 AM
This entire mini-arc is causing me to wonder: Is Xykon even the primary villain of the story anymore. Previously, the Giant had talked about X as if he was the main villain, but now I'm starting to wonder if he has changed his mind on the whole thing.

I realize that just because a subordinate is plotting against the villain doesn't mean that villain is about to be replaced. But they rarely plot this well.

Qwertystop
2012-01-26, 10:53 AM
As far as Xykon noticing the lack of some protections, here's a fairly simple solution:

Xykon knows that the phylactery was temporarily taken by the Resistance. Just say that they managed to dispel some of them before Redcloak caught up. Redcloak restored some of them, but he can't cast Arcane spells. Say he didn't have some of them prepared if there's any Divine ones missing.

Blas_de_Lezo
2012-01-26, 10:57 AM
I wish you luck Redcloak, my friend. You can do this!! :smallamused:



My thoughts:

Could this possibly be a double bluff? Perhaps Redcloak plans to lie to Xykon, telling him the phylactery was lost. Xykon makes his Sense Motive check, and takes the (fake) phylactery from Redcloak. Now Xykon feels confident in having outsmarted Redcloak, and never takes a guess at his real plan.

No. Either you trust one person, or not. If you don't trust someone, you can't trust anything important from him (such as the Ritual completion). Xykon may be suspicious about RC here and there, but until now he trusts him and needs him.

dps
2012-01-26, 11:05 AM
Hello all, long time viewer, first time poster.

Given the great amount of story (and controversy) taking place of late, I figured that I would like to join these forums to post my voice on the subject.

Honestly, truth be told, I have always viewed Redcloak as the primary antagonist of OotS instead of Xykon. Really, if you stop to think about it, it's Redcloak whose plan pretty much drives the entire plot of the whole comic. Xykon is powerful sure, but that does not change the fact that he has been laboring for 30+ years on a plan that was ultimately Redcloak's and will ultimately screw him in the end. Also, those who have read SoD know that:

Without Redcloak, Xykon would likely have wasted the remainder of his life committing petty villainy before finally succumbing to old age and dying an ignoble death. He had no real motivation to do anything of any real worth in all his living years, nor did he have the know-how to become a lich himself. Again, this was all Redcloak.

Also, I think people give Xykon way too much credit. Don't get me wrong, I love to hate him just as much as the next person, but people seem to confuse his occasional flashes of cunning and insight for near deity level omniscience. He is certainly smarter than most (in comic) give him credit for, but he is hardly smarter than most (out of comic) think he is. And at this point I think Redcloak knows this.

In regards to Xykon's waning trust in Redcloak, it's likely not Redcloak's loyalty that is in question to Xykon given recent events, but rather his competence. Xykon has given no real indication that he is questioning the Plan, and even him having Tsukiko research the ritual was more likely due to Xykon hoping to be able to ditch Redcloak at his leisure rather than him suddenly thinking that the whole plan was fishy. Xykon is still proceeding with the Plan with no hints that he suspects any real foul play from Redcloak, whom he believes he has thoroughly cowed and broken. The only reason Xykon hasn't offed Redcloak at this point for the loss of his phylactery is pretty much because he still needs him for the plan. Sure he could give another goblin the Crimson Mantle, but said goblin would be far weaker than Redcloak and thus much more of a liability. Thus Xykon was probably hoping that Tsukiko would figure out the ritual and thus, due to her being easy to manipulate, he could just have her replace Redcloak as his divine caster for the ritual.

These recent chapters have shown that, even though he is still subordinate to Xykon, Redcloak is hardly a minion, nor is he really second in command. He is content to allow Xykon to call the shots because, as far as he is concerned, once the plan has been completed, he'll have the last laugh. Xykon is working for Redcloak, or rather the Dark One, and he has shown no real evidence of knowing that.

This is my take at least.

Good analysis. Not 100% sure it's correct as the Giant doesn't always go the most obvious route (which is a good thing--always going the obvious route would make for a less interesting story), but it fits what we do know for sure.

As for how Redcloak explains Tsukiko's disapperance, I think that his best move would be to tell the (incomplete) truth: "I caught her ransacking my apartment and executed her for that". He can even throw in the part about having her own wights eat her--Xykon probably would appreciate the irony in that, though to him it might be a supremely funny joke more than irony.

Jay R
2012-01-26, 11:05 AM
Several people seem to be assuming that Redcloak is starting to lie to Xykon, and therefore is taking new risks.

It's just not so. For the last thirty years, he's been lying to Xykon about the biggest thing Xykon has been working on. If Xykon were ever going to use Sense Motive or Discern Lies, it would have happened long since.

There's a new lie in the long history of deception, but there has never been a time when Redcloak wasn't planning to betray Xykon.

All he has to do is get the fake phylactery by Xykon once, and Xykon's happy again, and everything's on track. (Xykon won't keep it close to himself, so he won't keep looking at it.) The biggest concern is that the fake has an unbroken chain. Rich has made the difference between them very clear - look at panel 5.

Also, we will not know why the spy had to die until we learn what story Redcloak is going to tell Xykon. If the story doesn't involve Redcloak taking on the resistance alone, then the spy can't be allowed to live.

Finally, there are lots of ways to explain away Tsukiko's death. I suspect the most convincing is not to explain it at all. "Hey, Xykon, have you seen Pigtail-Chick? She ran off right before the resistance grabbed your phylactery. (I still don't know how they knew we had it.)"

But I like the elegant simplicity of "She ambushed me with with three wights. She lost."

Cynric
2012-01-26, 11:07 AM
I can't see how anyone can call Xykon stupid. Sure, he's lazy, flippant and has the attention span of a wasp, but we've seen before what happens when Xykon puts his mind to something. Just because he's comical and easy going, and not a doomy, self-righteous ****-jockey like Redcloak, is no reason to underestimate him.

Arrowstorm122
2012-01-26, 11:11 AM
Thanks! Also doesn't spells have a duration time? I mean does Xykon or RC re-use the same spells on the philactery after a day or so?

I guess the Greater version of it makes it not run out.

Edit: I can't find anything that suggests that there IS a greater version of Obscure Object, so either the Giant made it up, or I'm just a bad looker.

Gholateg
2012-01-26, 11:54 AM
Believable, but Xykon will care. She may have been just a minion but she was working on something immensly and immediately important to him that he couldn't do himself. He is not going to take the news of her death before she could tell him what she knew well.

She was working on that spell for a looong time and only made headway because of MitD. For all we know Xy gave her the half of the spell to keep her from trying to ride his Coccyx.

:xykon: ... You again? I'm trying to watch the Mentalist here...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v298/redxiv/tsukiko.gif Isn't there something I can help you with? Some torturing of humans? creating wights? laundering your robe and covering you with my lipstick?

:xykon: .... Here. Take this, figure it out, don't bother me again until you do.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v298/redxiv/tsukiko.gif SQUEEE!!

Jay R
2012-01-26, 11:55 AM
Either way, I sense a backstab in the lich's future. Probably during a confrontation between the order and Xykon.

Not for awhile. Redcloak needs Xykon until the ritual is performed, so until RC and X get a gate and perform the ritual, no backstab is coming.

That's also why he won't destroy the phylactery yet. It has already been needed to keep the plan going once.


This entire mini-arc is causing me to wonder: Is Xykon even the primary villain of the story anymore.

First, what does the phrase "the primary villain" mean? Was the primary villain of the first two Star Wars movies Darth Vader or the emperor? Vader was "merely" working for the emperor, but the emperor wasn't even except for a cameo in the second movie.

In this comic, Xykon is the more powerful character, but the plan, as revealed in Start of Darkness and shown in the last few strips here (so no spoilering is needed any more) is Redcloak's plan, and Xykon doesn't even know what it really will do.

But mostly, there isn't a slot called "primary villain" for which the various bad guys are competing. Redcloak is a high-level priest with a long-term plan that requires Xykon's aid. Xykon is an epic-level lich who wants to cause lots of mayhem. Neither needs to be categorized beyond that.

Roderick_BR
2012-01-26, 12:09 PM
So Xikon is the kind to kill the messenger, eh? No surprise here.
Then Red Cloak will reveal that he recovered it, and will fool Xyxy into getting the fake one. The plot thickens...

Ksyr
2012-01-26, 12:09 PM
Reading these last "strip" threads have made me understand how much people have missed out when they didn't read SoD :) RC has always been the driving force of team evil.

zimmerwald1915
2012-01-26, 12:10 PM
Redcloak is a high-level priest with a long-term plan that requires Xykon's aid. Xykon is an epic-level lich who wants to cause lots of mayhem. Neither needs to be categorized beyond that.
What Xykon wants is to rule the world. That the power this implies will let him cause near-endless amusing mayhem is gravy.

k_bukie
2012-01-26, 12:13 PM
I somehow have a feeling this is going to somehow lead to the Order acquiring the fake phylactery, with chaos and hilarity to ensue.

Quild
2012-01-26, 12:18 PM
RC doesn't need Xykon, he needs a spellcaster able to perform the other half of the ritual. And that changes everything.

He's hanging with Xykon since 30 years now. But maybe he's thinking since a while (since Tsukiko) that another caster could serve him better. Now that Tsukiko's gone, he keeps a chance to destroy Xykon and find another mage to perform the ritual if he needs. But Xykon still seems to be the better horse to find and keep a gate.



To those wondering, Xykon was the main villain at first. Don't forget that the order of the stick are the PC. They joined together for a quest for which the goal is to find and destroy Xykon (some have others goals, whatever). But they would totally fail if they manage to destroy Xykon but let RC achieve the plan and change the whole order of things.

dps
2012-01-26, 12:50 PM
RC doesn't need Xykon, he needs a spellcaster able to perform the other half of the ritual. And that changes everything.

He's hanging with Xykon since 30 years now. But maybe he's thinking since a while (since Tsukiko) that another caster could serve him better. Now that Tsukiko's gone, he keeps a chance to destroy Xykon and find another mage to perform the ritual if he needs. But Xykon still seems to be the better horse to find and keep a gate.



To those wondering, Xykon was the main villain at first. Don't forget that the order of the stick are the PC. They joined together for a quest for which the goal is to find and destroy Xykon (some have others goals, whatever). But they would totally fail if they manage to destroy Xykon but let RC achieve the plan and change the whole order of things.

Would they? Would gobblinoids getting equality with humans, elves, dwarves, etc., actually be a fail on the part of the Order? I don't think so. In fact, I'm beginning to think that what will ultimately happen is that
at the final confrontation, Xykon will be destroyed by the OotS, and Redcloak will start ranting about how the plan is ruined, and once the Order realizes what the plan actually was (at least as far as Redcloak knows the truth--it's possible that he's been mislead by the Dark One), V will volunteer to take Xykon's place in the ritual. There probably aren't very many arcane casters besides Xykon that are high enough level to cast the arcane half of the ritual, and V is probably one of the few.

zimmerwald1915
2012-01-26, 12:52 PM
Would they? Would gobblinoids getting equality with humans, elves, dwarves, etc., actually be a fail on the part of the Order? I don't think so. In fact, I'm beginning to think that what will ultimately happen is that
at the final confrontation, Xykon will be destroyed by the OotS, and Redcloak will start ranting about how the plan is ruined, and once the Order realizes what the plan actually was (at least as far as Redcloak knows the truth--it's possible that he's been mislead by the Dark One), V will volunteer to take Xykon's place in the ritual. There probably aren't very many arcane casters besides Xykon that are high enough level to cast the arcane half of the ritual, and V is probably one of the few.
How does enabling someone else's megalomania fit with V's character arc up to this point?

Zarzar
2012-01-26, 12:59 PM
How does enabling someone else's megalomania fit with V's character arc up to this point?

Well, V does have the issue of ~50 minutes of questionable usage soul leasing to contend with. He may not get a choice in the matter, either. If the IFCC uses Qarr, through the Linear Guild's association with Xykon to reach Redcloak, this could be a possibility.

Tiamat most likely wants V's soul, and the power to annihilate a ton of good dragons in the universe. If the Dark One gets the snarl, that could definitely be a possibility. I mean, what can anyone on any of the nine sides do to stop the IFCC's control of V for that time?

Oscredwin
2012-01-26, 01:00 PM
Also how does blackmailing the gods and threatening to undue creation fit with either the order's goals or V's?

Anyway, the fact that there's a world within the world is going to be very important and change the whole thing (maybe it's unpopulated and they can send the goblinoids there?). V and the OotS would help with that I think.