The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    Quote Originally Posted by hrožila View Post
    Only in case of beige alert.
    All I know is my heart says maybe.
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    All I know is my heart says maybe.
    So you were born with a heart of neutrality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruck View Post
    So you were born with a heart of neutrality.
    Feh, at least the last guy had a lust for gold instead.
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  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruck View Post
    What the hell are you doing talking to my wife?!
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  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    In the game of chess, you can never let your adversary see your pieces.
    If you can hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hrožila View Post
    If you can hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards.
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  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    To my eyes, Therkla was one of the worst written characters in the comic to date, and her subplot was very difficult to gleam any enjoyment out of.

    As for her morality... I see why the Giant would call her True Neutral and also see why several people call bull on that.
    Last edited by Rrmcklin; 2019-09-24 at 01:59 PM.
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  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rrmcklin View Post
    To my eyes, Therkla was one of the worst written characters in the comic to date, and her subplot was very difficult to gleam any enjoyment out of.
    During my first read through of that part of DSTP, I found the "falls for a pretty face" but a lady falls for a guy, rather than the very old trope of a guy falls for a lady and thus can't follow through on (some action/plot) a nice try. My problem is that I played a few assassins in old school D&D, and I have a particular "feel" for what it takes to be in the assassin class that made it hard to grok. People at different tables will treat that class differently, and likewise in different editions.

    Elan's trying to be nice but also pointing out to her that he was in a committed relationship was I think supposed to create a certain amount of tension, but it seemed to me to work better in some of the strips than it did in others. All in all, the real bad guy was Kubota. The whole "unrequited love" theme was at least held true to the end. For my own tastes, the arc was redeemed by Elan's getting her the best head stone ever.
    As for her morality... I see why the Giant would call her True Neutral and also see why several people call bull on that.
    I'll put the popcorn on to pop if there is going to be an argument about alignment. (Which I hope there is not)
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2019-09-24 at 02:07 PM.
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  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Joeltion View Post
    I liked her fine. She was kind of a fool, the kind of teenager-Shakespearean-fool, but she died on her own terms, which is something I can respect.

    I see her as a different take on Haley's storyline, as in "what if a Haley fell to the Dark Side?". I don't think the Giant made Therkla fall in love with Elan just cause, I think at the very core Haley and her have something in common other than a crush for Elan's buttocks.

    I agree with first sentence, but not the second. The first is obvious but I kinda "justify" her because that's the way she is accustomed to. It's Kubota's Way (TM) 100%. I think her last words had a hint of irony behind, since she already knew Elan's answer was No either way. I think the message the Giant was aiming for was that Therkla didn't knew "good" in life until she met Elan, so letting yourself die when you lose the only good in life is a valid option (specially since death is just the beginning in the OOTSverse).

    Therkla's character revolved around having a harsh life and what that can make to essentially "non-evil" people. She wasn't good not because she didn't want to, but bc she didn't know how, IMHO. People that only know war and schemes have little chance of realizing people's lives are worth more than a couple of coins and favors.

    This is why I see her as a Nega-Haley. For all their awesomeness, both have trusting issues and a self-loathing side. One was raised by a thieves clan, the other by assassins. Both had problematic father figures. Both found redemption through Elan. Problem was Therkla thought she owed Kubota, while Haley always tried to pay her debts and get rid of all attachments to her mentors. There was also the issue of her race, which I think was no detail for the Giant's creation of the character. I totally agree with the Pilgrim, btw.
    Mmmh... I don't like to draw parallels between Haley and Therkla because... well, you shall see why.

    Haley and Therkla had in common that they had a self-loathing issue. But the root of that self-steem wound was different. Haley thought she was not good enough. And that vacuum is directly linked to the loss of her mother at a very young age. Her mother's last words were "be better", and Haley didn't feel she was good enough, and blamed herself because everyone good and, first of all, her mother, left her because she was not good enough.

    Therkla's issue has a different root. She didn't had family issues (she had two loving parents). Her problem was that, as a half-orc, she had physical traits that made her... let's say "unattractive"... to humans - not to Orcs as that same strip shows, but her father was an human who loved an orc girl, so Therkla's expectation was to find love in a male human, not a male orc. Her issue was that people's natural reaction was to reject her, or to ignore her, as she was poor and ugly. She was never picked to be part of the cool kid's team. She never fit.

    Haley and Therkla had in common that they both projected their lackings in the man they loved. Haley did state that the reason she loved Elan was because he was pure good, she saw in Elan the goodness she though she lacked in herself. Therkla, on the other hand, felt that dating the cool kid would make her a cool kid too.

    Ultimately, Haley managed to be with the man of her dreams, and in that relationship she found the strength and support to overcome all her issues (as she explains herself). Therkla, on the other hand, fails to get the man of her dreams, and choses to remain dead because she believed that Elan was her sole ticket to fix her life, and without him, having lost her train, all that was left was a life of misery.

    And the reason I don't like to draw parallels about the two, is because I can't help but think that Haley could get her man because she was attractive, while Therkla failed and got death because she was ugly. Yes, yes, I know Haley has a lot more qualities beyond being pretty. But, you know, cool kids date each other, not the uglies. Of course, that's not at all the message The Giant wanted to convey through that story, which is why I prefer to avoid making that parallel.

    I find more significance in Therkla's story by looking at her, instead of comparing her to other cast members. She defeated herself by failing to acknowledge her own strenghts and merits, let herself fall into the romantical love trap of needing to seek that validation in a significant other, and ultimately letting her depression at her failure make her want to remain dead. And that happens to a lot of people in real life, not to the point of suicide in most cases, but to a lot of angst and depression and toxic relationships.
    Last edited by The Pilgrim; 2019-09-24 at 02:51 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    Headcanon, but I think Elan would totes have hooked up with Therkla if he hadn't been in love and in a relationship with Haley. He called her cute and it's in the Bardic Charter.
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  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    My headcanon is that Elan used his relationship with Haley as an excuse to avoid facing the hard truth. He is too naive and too nice to accept the hard truth that, even if he had been single, he would still had rejected Therkla because she is not up to his league.

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pilgrim View Post
    My headcanon is that Elan used his relationship with Haley as an excuse to avoid facing the hard truth. He is too naive and too nice to accept the hard truth that, even if he had been single, he would still had rejected Therkla because she is not up to his league.
    I don't see Elan as having that kind of ego or attitude, but thanks for that different look at the possible relationship.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2019-09-24 at 03:58 PM.
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  13. - Top - End - #43
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    I don't see Elan having that kind of ego and actitude, either. That's precisely the problem.

    It's a very tricky situation when you meet a person who is desperately in love with you and you think that person is funny and cool and like her/him but that person just doesn't lits your fire. And you don't want to hurt his/her feelings but that person is refusing to take the hints that his/her crush is of the unrequited kind and you begin to feel guilty. Unless you are the kind of heartless bastard Belkar used to be.

    Luckly for Elan, he could shield himself behind his relationship status and avoid facing that kind of problem. Still, his lash out at V later was a sign that he felt guilty because he felt Therkla deserved to be loved but he coulnd't be the man that could do it.

    But, hey, when different people get different interpretations of the same scene, it's a sign that you are in front of a great work of art. Bad writters just provide unambiguously author's tract. Good ones suggest things and it's up to the reader to fill the rest.
    Last edited by The Pilgrim; 2019-09-24 at 06:12 PM.

  14. - Top - End - #44
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    Quote Originally Posted by hrožila View Post
    Headcanon, but I think Elan would totes have hooked up with Therkla if he hadn't been in love and in a relationship with Haley. He called her cute and it's in the Bardic Charter.
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    The story role that Therkla would later fill was show-don't-tell-ing Elan's commitment to the then-fledgling relationship between him and Haley. It is no coincidence that Therkla is "his type" with as many parallels to Haley as she has.

    There is, of course, far more to Therkla than just the initial "okay, I need a character for this role" moment....

    Therkla is the unfortunate victim of being the central character of a short supporting sequence that nobody(?) really likes, because it's setting up important stuff later instead of being important in its own right.


    No, really. The motif of Don't Split the Party was something Belkar, of all people, would explain later on: Showing that the members of the Order were (even more) incompetent bunglers without Roy's leadership, and pretty much tripped over their own feet trying to get the band back together...and before that, stumbling before even getting that far.

    Roy's own comments are reflective: Elan and Durkon are with the Azurite fleet, not tracking down Haley (and by extension Roy's body); and as such they're embroiled in an action arc entirely separate from the main Xykon/Gate arc...which is where Kubota as a villain comes in. And Therkla had already made a minimal appearence by that point.

    As for Therkla and Elan...well, Haley had just gone through a rather intense conflict with her own self-doubts to establish her relationship with Elan; and, rather than let Elan simply ride the coattails of Haley's dedication (as is known to happen), the character arc was Elan proving his own commitment to his relationship with Haley. And since the quite-simple-by-comparison Elan didn't have the depth of internal conflicts Haley did, his conflict was external instead.

    And then, in an elegant move, Therkla tied both sides of the arc together: Elan and Kubota were the only ones who treated her as her own person; rather than as a half-orc, a ninja, or a half-orc ninja. She put all her effort on trying to keep both of them from harm...which turned into a fiasco when they were directly opposed to each other. And ultimately, she died because Kubota didn't respect her anywhere near as much as she respected him.

    Staying dead...well, on one hand, the "if I can't have you" bit was at best cheesy in its own right. On the other...she'd just been betrayed by her mentor/boss, who in addition to being one of extremely few people she could look up to, was also one of the more influential Azurites in the fleet. The underpinnings of her life for the foreseeable future were in complete upheaval...And Elan said he wasn't going to replace them with something else. Now, Therkla overreacting or being a quitter in this situation are certainly valid claims; but I figure she probably wouldn't be a ninja assassin if she was a fighter.

    And even dead, Therkla wasn't done with the arc. Her death prompted Elan going after Kubota, Vaarsuvius eliminating Kubota...and Vaarsuvius alienating Elan over Therkla. Which in turn influenced Elan supporting Vaarsuvius leaving the fleet, which ultimately ended up with the major Familicide arc.


    So, I think Therkla carried most of this piece of the story herself. Could it have been treated more thoroughly, or more hints dropped, or otherwise have been different? Yes. But at the same time...this was largely a sideshow, so how much more time should have been spent on it? It's a tough balancing act to pull off, and there's no obvious easy answer.
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    I don’t have terribly strong feelings on Therkla. She showed up, served her purpose in the plot, and left. Don’t love her, don’t hate her- she’s just sort of there for me. Still, I enjoyed Spoiler Alert, and it’ll be nice to see more content with her in it.
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    Quote Originally Posted by Schroeswald View Post
    She was True Neutral, (or at least that's what The Giant was aiming for, which from what I heard was more clear in Spoiler Alert)
    From memory, AD&D 1e limited the assassin class to evil characters, with the justification that the job required you to kill sentient creatures for money, and that keeps them a bit south of neutral.

    You could argue that the headsman who only executes those found guilty to the point of death by an order of paladins equally guilty of "kill sentient creatures for money" (perhaps the paladins draw lots and can't be paid), so while it isn't quite as absolute as Gygax might have wanted (I'm sure he just didn't want to deal with the invariable "CN" assassin who pals around with paladins), it should be difficult to maintain neutrality while being an assassin.

    On the other hand, I could easily see some sort of paragon CG class being based around assassination, although as a means for justice rather than a personal killer for someone like Kubota. While we didn't see much of Therkla's life, I find it difficult to believe she really managed to stay fairly TN (perhaps she just managed to stay on the TN side of NE).

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    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    From memory, AD&D 1e limited the assassin class to evil characters, with the justification that the job required you to kill sentient creatures for money, and that keeps them a bit south of neutral.

    You could argue that the headsman who only executes those found guilty to the point of death by an order of paladins equally guilty of "kill sentient creatures for money" (perhaps the paladins draw lots and can't be paid), so while it isn't quite as absolute as Gygax might have wanted (I'm sure he just didn't want to deal with the invariable "CN" assassin who pals around with paladins), it should be difficult to maintain neutrality while being an assassin.

    On the other hand, I could easily see some sort of paragon CG class being based around assassination, although as a means for justice rather than a personal killer for someone like Kubota. While we didn't see much of Therkla's life, I find it difficult to believe she really managed to stay fairly TN (perhaps she just managed to stay on the TN side of NE).
    From what I've heard Spoiler Alert shows her closer to Good than the online comic does, which helps to clarify her Nuetrality (from what I've heard).
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  18. - Top - End - #48
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    I don't think she has assassin levels, just as Miko doesn't have samurai levels

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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgana View Post
    I don't think she has assassin levels, just as Miko doesn't have samurai levels
    Agreed; it'd be rather odd for Therkla to have assassin levels and then never see her use an assassin spell.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasdoif View Post
    Agreed; it'd be rather odd for Therkla to have assassin levels and then never see her use an assassin spell.
    Any weirder than it is for Belkar to have ranger levels and then never see him use a ranger spell?

    I agree that she's probably not an assassin, FWIW. My headcanon is that the OOTSverse has a ninja class, and that she has levels in it, but that's unprovable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Emanick View Post
    Any weirder than it is for Belkar to have ranger levels and then never see him use a ranger spell?
    But we have seen him use a ranger spell

    More seriously, without the arcane spellcasting there's not really a whole lot that'd clearly distinguish an assassin from a rogue; they both have sneak attack, poison use and the save bonus against poison are both passive, death attack takes forever (and might not be distinct enough from a sneak attack), hide in plain sight is kind of a victim of the scarcity of shadows in the comic...with as easily as she could just have more rogue levels instead, having assassin levels would normally merit showing that she had assassin levels...which comes back to the spellcasting.


    There's also the "any evil" alignment requirement, but that'd be a boring response.
    Last edited by Jasdoif; 2019-09-24 at 11:13 PM.
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    I feel towards her the same amount of empathy, patience and understanding I feel towards any "Neutral or Lawful Neutral character that is beholden to a Lawful Evil guy (particularly a noble, particularly an usurper one) and yet is only doing their job when they do said guy's bidding" within the context in question (i.e.: how she fell in love and then died and so on in doing that).

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    Last edited by The_Weirdo; 2019-09-25 at 01:28 AM.
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    I’m glad she got to be her own character rather than defined by her hesitation between which character to follow. I’m miffed it happened in a Side-book rather than the one that introduced and killed her, though.

    All in all I like her fine, I guess.
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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    In a story filled with people of strong character, she stood out as interesting because she was important, but of weak character - having few personal convictions, and being easily swayed (towards Lawful Evil by Kuboto, and towards Good of some flavour by Elan and perhaps Sangwaan).

    She was a True Neutral of the 'not morally motivated' variety, rather than caring about balance or her right to not choose; she could easily have slipped to something much darker under the wrong leadership, and only swung towards something better due to what was essentially a teenage-style crush.

    It's good that the story visibly makes an effort to show us strong female characters, at least as the story has progressed; that might be cheapened if they were all that way, and Therkla provides some welcome balance, as a somewhat pathetic specimen, lacking in self confidence despite her impressive abilities (perhaps due to her background and Kuboto's manipulations). Her 'redemption arc' also fits this, with her not so much being redeemed as simply saved from falling too far.

    I quite liked her, as a proper flawed character that was neither hero nor villain - she added some colour and depth to a world that is often (understandably) focussed on extremes.

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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    A bit off topic.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pilgrim View Post
    And the reason I don't like to draw parallels about the two, is because I can't help but think that Haley could get her man because she was attractive, while Therkla failed and got death because she was ugly. Yes, yes, I know Haley has a lot more qualities beyond being pretty. But, you know, cool kids date each other, not the uglies. Of course, that's not at all the message The Giant wanted to convey through that story, which is why I prefer to avoid making that parallel.

    I have always seen Therkla more as unconventionally attractive rather than unattractive.

    She reminds me of those people in the school who were a bit odd, or had a different style, but who were obviously really attractive, just didn't have the right look for high school kids.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jasdoif View Post
    Spoiler: Don't Split the Party commentary
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    The story role that Therkla would later fill was show-don't-tell-ing Elan's commitment to the then-fledgling relationship between him and Haley. It is no coincidence that Therkla is "his type" with as many parallels to Haley as she has.

    There is, of course, far more to Therkla than just the initial "okay, I need a character for this role" moment....

    That's how I saw her, a good fit for Elan and therfore a way to show his love and commitment for Haley. Which only works if Therkla is someone people could be attracted to.
    Last edited by The Patterner; 2019-09-25 at 06:51 AM.

  26. - Top - End - #56
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    I don't remember Elan showing any conflict between his commitment to Haley and his feelings toward Therlka. He never shown any sign of feeling "tempted" by her, or of having any feelings for her beyond "friendship".
    Last edited by The Pilgrim; 2019-09-25 at 07:34 AM.

  27. - Top - End - #57
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    ClericGirl

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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasdoif View Post
    The motif of Don't Split the Party was something Belkar, of all people, would explain later on:
    Oh man, I just realized that 0881 (which is one of my favorite strips) foreshadowed the Durkon Heart Staking in 1131 in panel 4 of 0881
    Maybe we can ask him nicely if he'd like to drive a stake through his own heart for us too.

    Durkon in 1131 gets the assist to Belkar's goal, but his own efforts were directly linked to the successful staking by Belkar.

    *bravo, Giant (I am sure some of the rest of you saw that when that strip came out).

    One of the bits I liked best about 0881 was Roy telling Elan "You don't count!" even though Elan's character development is a central theme to the book, and (as Haley noted) he's the one who stumbled over the main plot.

    As for Therkla and Elan...well, Haley had just gone through a rather intense conflict with her own self-doubts to establish her relationship with Elan; and, rather than let Elan simply ride the coattails of Haley's dedication (as is known to happen), the character arc was Elan proving his own commitment to his relationship with Haley. And since the quite-simple-by-comparison Elan didn't have the depth of internal conflicts Haley did, his conflict was external instead.
    Ah, that's a neat way to see it, thanks. Makes sense.

    And then, in an elegant move, Therkla tied both sides of the arc together: Elan and Kubota were the only ones who treated her as her own person; rather than as a half-orc, a ninja, or a half-orc ninja. She put all her effort on trying to keep both of them from harm...which turned into a fiasco when they were directly opposed to each other. And ultimately, she died because Kubota didn't respect her anywhere near as much as she respected him.
    Yeah, the Kubota disintegrate pivot point where Elan becomes estranged from V was set up by the entire Kubota local villain theme.
    So, I think Therkla carried most of this piece of the story herself.
    I guess you could say that Elan was trying but, as Belkar noted, just wasn't up to it due to inherent bumbling.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2019-09-25 at 08:20 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct (and also quite handsome) ... 2D8HP told me so
    Quote Originally Posted by HappyDaze
    Self-deception tends to have a low target number

  28. - Top - End - #58
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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: How do we feel about Therkla?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pilgrim View Post
    And the reason I don't like to draw parallels about the two, is because I can't help but think that Haley could get her man because she was attractive, while Therkla failed and got death because she was ugly. Yes, yes, I know Haley has a lot more qualities beyond being pretty. But, you know, cool kids date each other, not the uglies. Of course, that's not at all the message The Giant wanted to convey through that story, which is why I prefer to avoid making that parallel.
    I see your point, and I mostly agree. Therkla and Haley aren't quite equal, although the comparison can be made. Still I see Therkla and Haley like two sides of similar tropes, same archetype but different backstory. I think I should have said I see Therkla as being the same "type" of girl as Haley, the kind of girl that apparently Elan tends to fall for.

    What I think is odd is that you think Therkla is ugly or unattractive. Sure, half-orc isn't the epitome of beauty by default (YMMV of course) but really no inhuman race truly is. Even the most beautiful Elves are the ones that are regular humans with pointy ears and no other Elven trait. Also, I don't think the Giant is the kind of person that presents a non-human expecting us to believe they are unattractive just cause they aren't Humans.

    I believe the Giant's mindset is quite the opposite, actually. After all, even Elan's apparently superhuman Charisma is told to us rather than shown (for obvious artistic choices). Therkla's racial issue was downplayed too, nobody bated an eye when they saw her Orcish (Orcen?) heritage. I think Therkla was played like the only black main character in an all-white movie cast: obviously different but still objectively attractive, because Hollywood.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pilgrim View Post
    I find more significance in Therkla's story by looking at her, instead of comparing her to other cast members. She defeated herself by failing to acknowledge her own strenghts and merits, let herself fall into the romantical love trap of needing to seek that validation in a significant other, and ultimately letting her depression at her failure make her want to remain dead. And that happens to a lot of people in real life, not to the point of suicide in most cases, but to a lot of angst and depression and toxic relationships.
    Yeah, that is a valid interpretation I guess. The character is obviously tragic and kinda sad, but it fits the tone of the storyline at the moment. Even her story seems to be the climax of Kubota's storyline, rather than Kubota's ignominious death. For all the teenage-crush setting, I think her story is strong when it presents an unfair and tragic death at the hands of her own mentor, reminiscent of all well known classic teenage-crush-drama stories. I can't say whether the story could have been written better or differently, but I think it certainly fits the timing it was presented in the OOTS. I dunno, maybe I just liked her story more than the character itself.
    (sic)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Iain View Post
    In a story filled with people of strong character, she stood out as interesting because she was important, but of weak character - having few personal convictions, and being easily swayed (towards Lawful Evil by Kuboto, and towards Good of some flavour by Elan and perhaps Sangwaan).
    And I think that gets to why I don't have any strong feelings about her or found her arc particularly interesting-- drama is best driven by strong characters with strong convictions, when their morals and motives collide. Therkla was too easily swayed by others for her to really be a full player in the drama, even as I see the purpose of her character in the larger story.

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    ClericGirl

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruck View Post
    And I think that gets to why I don't have any strong feelings about her or found her arc particularly interesting-- drama is best driven by strong characters with strong convictions, when their morals and motives collide. Therkla was too easily swayed by others for her to really be a full player in the drama, even as I see the purpose of her character in the larger story.
    She acted as a catalyst.
    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct (and also quite handsome) ... 2D8HP told me so
    Quote Originally Posted by HappyDaze
    Self-deception tends to have a low target number

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