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The Linear Guild
The Linear Guild are a fictional team of villains from the webcomic The Order of the Stick, created and written by Rich Burlew.
Perfect foils to the Order of the Stick, the Linear Guild follow an "evil opposites" theme as closely as possible. This means that each of the Linear Guild resembles and belongs to a character class or multiclass combination with similar abilities to those of a member of the Order of the Stick. However, they are the exact opposite of that individual in some other respects. This is more obvious in some cases than in others.
One of these characters, Sabine, has been described as being a Succubus in nature.
Nale, Elan's evil twin brother (his name is also "Elan" spelled backwards), a multiclass fighter/rogue/sorcerer who specializes in enchantments which, he eventually came to realize, is the same combination of abilities as his bardic twin, just more complicated. He was raised by his ruthless, lawful evil father, a powerful general of an evil army, while Elan was raised by the two's mother, a kindly, chaotic good barmaid. In terms of magic, he has stated he specializes in Enchantment spells. In Dungeons & Dragons, Sorcerers do not have a class-based specialty, so this means he may have taken the Spell Focus (Enchantment) feat and simply selected a large number of enchantments for his repertoire.
He looks identical to Elan except for a small goatee (confirmed by Rich Burlew in the first collected book as an intentional reference to Spock in the Star Trek Mirror Universe), which Nale shaved off and glued onto his brother in order to swap places with Elan during one of his plans to kill the Order of the Stick, though by his imprisonment has already grown back. His cunning, scheming and evil nature makes him the opposite of the light-hearted, good-natured and comically inept Elan. He is also in a relationship with Sabine, Haley's opposite, whereas Elan seemed somewhat oblivious to Haley's feelings towards him for nearly four hundred strips. He is the smartest member of the guild, though he has a tendency to outsmart himself.
He is quite skilled with words and is a master planner. He has also proven that he can think very quickly on his feet and come up with an intelligent, if not the best, solution to his problems, once again in opposition to Elan, who usually just wings it. Due to his theatrics and sadism he may be described as a competent "Bond Villain". His "tragic" flaw is that he over complicates a situation, such as once killing 421 random people, just to point the police to where he would be located. His intelligence is also his weakness for many times his overconfidence or underestimating others results in his downfall.
A running gag is that when Nale is lying, he openly states what he is lying about in his speech, yet his target never catches on (or when they do, nothing becomes of it). He tends to brag that, despite his obvious lies, his bluff skill is able to convince his target of anything.
At one time, Nale succeeded in replacing his brother within the Order and traveled with them (by teleportation) to Azure City. He had planned to eliminate the other members of the Order as quickly as possible by engineering things so that he ends up alone with each one in turn. However, upon discovering the Order of the Stick's mission to protect the Gates of the Snarl from Xykon, Nale has changed his plans; he now intends to seize control of the Gates himself, having deduced that Xykon must have devised a way to channel and direct the energy of the Snarl.
Although captured by Elan, Vaarsuvius, Haley, and Durkon, and imprisoned by the Sapphire Guard in anti-magic cells, Nale escaped with Sabine and Thog during the war with Xykon and left the city to resume efforts to take one of the two remaining gates (after a visit to an ice cream parlor).
Thog is a half-orcish barbarian with two levels in fighter who likes puppies, ice cream with sprinkles and rocket skates, but is afraid of pretty girls and teletubbies. He wields a greataxe and displays a childlike innocence while simultaneously killing without mercy. It is possible that his low intelligence (low enough to impair his speech so that he always speaks about himself in the third person) means he does not really understand what he is doing. For instance, when Nale framed Elan and Thog was arrested, he admitted to being guilty and, when asked, explained the entire plot to the guard, apparently not realizing that he had done something wrong and was facing capital punishment (unfortunately for the guard the confession came out in such a ludicrous linguistic form, such as referring to Elan as "Not-Nale", that the guard could not make heads or tails of it). On the other hand, Thog has been known to suggest torture methods (the playing of a Celine Dion album; a plan rejected by Nale as he's "still civilized"), which would require at least a small degree of intelligence.
Thog's speech is always depicted in lower-case bold letters in the comic, a convention also used for other low-intelligence characters, and possibly as a reference to Moe in Calvin and Hobbes. Thog's stupidity and follower mentality makes him the opposite of Roy Greenhilt, the competent leader. Also, while Roy is clearly attracted to beautiful girls to the point of clouding his judgement, Thog is afraid of them, because he fears cooties. Thog was under arrest by the Cliffport Police Department and charged with multiple crimes, but escaped with Elan after Elan cleverly persuaded him into destroying their prison bars (Elan having convinced Thog that the bars had eaten the trail of breadcrumbs imperative to Nale finding his way back, and also punched a clown) and used illusions to fool the guardsmen. For Elan's unexplained and unused stowaway plan, Thog wears a leprechaun costume (prior to this he was wearing a Moogle costume) while he packs a giant wooden alpaca with potato salad. When he was reunited with his comrades Nale and Sabine, Nale told him Sabine missed him, resulting in him "bull rush tackle hugging" Sabine. While Elan and Haley fought Nale and Sabine, Thog returned and, his greataxe having been left behind in Cliffport, tore the door off its hinges for an improvised weapon. Elan appealed to their newly-discovered friendship, and persuaded Thog that he would rather go and eat ice cream with his friends than have them fight. Thog agreed, and promptly bludgeoned Haley several times with the door, Elan having forgotten that Thog didn't consider her a friend. Thog did not really participate in the subsequent battle between the Guild and the Order, as Elan subdued him using an illusion. He was captured after Durkon used a Hold Person spell on him at the battle's conclusion as he tries to join in the Order's group hug; the Order turned him over to the Sapphire Guard and he later escaped with Nale and Sabine. We later find out that it has been Thog's dream to be a footstool.
Sabine The Succubus
A shapeshifting fiend or devil, and a self-described 'evil incarnation of illicit sex'; second-in-command of the Linear Guild (and thus the opposite number of Haley Starshine) and Nale's lover.
Initially, it was not explicitly stated what type of fiend she; it was not until nearly six hundred strips after her debut that Sabine was officially revealed as a succubus (In particular an advanced succubus, as a regular succubus has a Challenge Rating of 7 and would not be a threat to members of the Order in combat). The abilities she has shown (energy draining and shapeshifting) and her batlike wings are in line with those of a succubus, although she also uses Plane Shift, apparently available to her once a day, which is not an innate succubus ability. Though capable of mimicking anyone, Sabine prefers to shapeshift into dark-skinned individuals, since she is also dark-skinned. She also possesses high fiend-based racial bonuses, making her incredibly hard to damage in combat, though Roy's newly-enhanced sword is capable of it, and his skill in combat is better than Sabine's when she is not enhancing herself with spells. Haley was able to damage her despite fiend bonuses with two arrows, one of silver and the other of cold iron, multiple times, but since she used both arrows at once each time, Haley is unsure which of her arrows (silver or cold iron) are able to do damage.
She once made an attempt to seduce Roy (saying that she'll do "whatever he wants"), after her enchantment spells wore off in mid-battle, leaving her vulnerable, but it failed and ended with her defenestration (which Roy describes as being exactly what he wanted). That she attempted to attain proximity to Roy, close enough to drain his life energies, also points to her being a succubus. Despite her defeat, Sabine recovered before she could be taken into custody and used her shapeshifting ability to replace a member of the Cliffport Police Department. She used this disguise to rescue Pompey after he was taken into custody. She arrived at Azure City and hooked up with Nale, though she was forced to leave to go to the Lower Planes because of a deal she made with an unknown group of fiends, later revealed to be the "Inter-Fiend Cooperation Commission" (IFCC), promising to inform them of anything that might tip the balance of good and evil. Sabine despises Pompey, considering the half-elf to be a "little pervert" (although given her established relaxed attitude towards perversion in general, this seems unlikely to be the sole cause of her dislike).
Exactly how Sabine is supposed to be the "evil opposite" of Haley is not obvious. There is no particular resemblance between the two, nor do they share a class or abilities. It may simply be that Sabine's relationship with Nale is certainly not inhibited by any shyness on either side (Sabine's shapeshifting abilities allow them to explore most of the possible human permutations; they also practice human sacrifice to help keep their relationship healthy), whereas it took Haley a considerable length of time (and a desperate situation) to finally confess her feelings to Elan. Rich Burlew has stated that there is another, as yet unrevealed way in which the two could be considered opposites. This may well be related to Sabine being a fiend and the fact that Haley has hinted that she keeps her true nature hidden.
When she returned from the Lower Planes Sabine became extremely upset seeing Nale dance with Haley and, after taking advice (while in disguise) from a somewhat bemused (and intoxicated) Vaarsuvius, she followed the pair back to a private inn room and crashed in on them while they were kissing, shouting his name as she did so. However, Nale "ordered" Thog to "bull rush tackle hug" Sabine so he could duel Elan, and thus she was unable to participate in the final showdown. During a lull in the fight, Sabine explained that she wasn't jealous but rather angry at Nale trying to kill Haley, which she wanted to do herself. Defeated by Haley and Durkon, Sabine recently spent time in the cells of the Sapphire Guard, along with Nale and Thog. She attempted to persuade the imprisoned Miko Miyazaki, a fallen Paladin to convert to being a Blackguard and also flirted with the fallen paladin. This merely resulted in Miko attempting unsuccessfully to kill her, which left Sabine's head inconveniently twisted backwards. Following battle damages to the cell, Sabine escaped with Nale and Thog, flying away from Azure City in search of another of the Snarl's gates.
Other Original Members
A dwarfen cleric of Loki who left her ancestral homelands to escape her arranged marriage to her supportive and loving husband Ivan, whom she instead unjustly regarded as cruel. She had a short liaison with her opposite number, Durkon Thundershield after the Guild left her for dead; she also tells him that she was never really on the Linear Guild's side, but joined them because Loki wanted her to for unknown reasons. Durkon seems to have truly cared for her, but when he found out that she had left her husband, and was still in fact technically married, he rejected her out of his sense of honor and duty, causing her to flee crying; she has not been seen since and Nale has since stated she is no longer a member of the Linear Guild. Hilgya's free-spirited attitude and hedonism made her the opposite of the dutiful and unassuming Durkon — as does the fact that the deity she worships appears to be the rival of Durkon's. (As her deity is Loki, and his is Thor, mythologically speaking, they are rivals.) Whether or not she survived the dungeon explosion is unknown.
A Drow wizard who wielded dual scimitars with a 3.0 version of the fly spell, among other spells, such as flesh to stone. During a one-sided battle with his opposite number, Vaarsuvius, he was dragged off by lawyers for being a rather obvious parody of the character Drizzt Do'Urden (a continuation of a prior joke within the comic). Zz'dtri's taciturn and laconic nature and unwillingness to share his knowledge made him the opposite of the rather long-winded, lecturing Vaarsuvius.
A kobold ranger who was prejudiced against halflings, in contrast to fellow ranger Belkar Bitterleaf's prejudice against kobolds. The two's intense hatred for each other culminated at the Order vs. Guild battle, where Yikyik was defeated (and subsequently turned into a "swanky new leather hat") by Belkar. His name may be a reference to Pun-Pun, a theoretical kobold character build with almost limitless power, although the similarities seem to begin and end with their race.
After losing Yikyik, Hilgya, and Zz'dtri in their first battle with the Order of the Stick, the guild recruited replacements for the slain/deserted/sued party members (however the following have either abandoned the party or been slain):
An evil half-elf student wizard whom the Linear Guild recruited from Warthog's School of Wizardry and Sorcery (an obvious play on Harry Potter's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, complete with a "Larry Gardener" whose life Thog ended, to general approval) to be the new opposite number to Vaarsuvius. Pompey is a wizard who specializes in the spellcasting school of Conjuration, having chosen Enchantment and Evocation as his barred schools. This makes him a more direct opposite of Vaarsuvius, who does freely use Enchantment and Evocation, but is barred from using Conjuration spells due to his/her own specialization (also the fact that he has a distinguishable gender can be considered an opposite to the androgynous Vaarsuvius). His clothing preferences also show this opposite theme- he wears purple robes and has red hair, while Vaarsuvius has purple hair and wears red robes. He seems to favour Fiendish Giant Vermin as the target for his summoning spells. Captured by Roy in Cliffport and handed over to the CPPD, Pompey was almost immediately rescued by Sabine in her guise as a CPPD officer and is still at large. Nale assigned him to watch the local prison, but he has left his watch, breaking out Leeky Windstaff in the process. He appears to have quit the Guild, telling Leeky that neglecting to inform Nale of Elan's escape (of which Nale is already fully aware) will serve as his two-week notice.
It is speculated that his name is a reference to the city of Pompeii, which was destroyed when the volcano Vesuvius erupted; the similarity between the names Vesuvius and Vaarsuvius could foreshadow Pompey's death at the hands of Vaarsuvius. It has also been proposed that he is named after the Roman leader Pompey, Julius Caesar's enemy in Caesar's civil war, reflecting antagonism towards Roy's sister, Julia Greenhilt. The OotS's Pompey had a crush on Julia Greenhilt, while the historical Pompey married Julia, Caesar's daughter.
In comparison to Vaarsuvius, who displays no attraction to either gender (presumably because of his/her marriage), Pompey is quite lecherous and readily flirts with any attractive female, including Sabine, despite her relationship with Nale. The primary reason why Pompey was left behind in Cliffport was because she refused to carry him on the three-day flight to Azure City and thus be forced to endure his constant "accidental" gropes.
A neutral evil gnome druid. As the new evil opposite for Durkon, his last name is an element followed by an item formerly in his possession (it was broken when Durkon summoned a lightning storm). He is seen commanding trees to attack the citizens of Cliffport, which clicks completely with Durkon's utter terror of them. He is extroverted where Durkon is usually calm and was kicked out of his druid circle because he is clearly unbalanced, where Durkon was banished for reasons beyond his control and knowledge. He also uses figurative language quite a bit, which is in opposition to Durkon's more straightforward speaking style. His animal companion was a hawk (named "Kitty"), who was slain by Roy, and he is of sufficient level that he is capable of shapeshifting into the form of a dire bear. Leeky surrendered to the Order after they defeated him in battle and was apparently handed over to the local authorities. When last seen, it was seen Pompey set Leeky free and the two were discussing Pompey's employment as a cohort, implying both have quit the Guild.
He was arguably the most powerful of the Linear Guild, as it took many characters working together to take him down (as well as willful misinterpretation on Thor's part of the spell "Control Weather"). As a gnome that is neutral evil and a worshipper of nature rather than a specific god, Leeky Windstaff is the opposite of Durkon: he is a short, amoral, and psychotic person devoted to the abstract concept of the physical natural world, rather than a short, moral, and kindhearted person devoted to a concrete deity who exists at a distance which can not be crossed during life. Equally, as a Druid, Leeky embraces nature and surrounds himself with Treants, while Durkon possesses a seemingly irrational fear and loathing for trees.
The son of Yikyik, who joined the Guild to seek revenge on Belkar (in the style of Inigo Montoya to the point where he and Belkar speak lines of dialogue directly from The Princess Bride). Yokyok could be seen as Belkar's opposite since he had a clear reason and somewhat acceptable motivation for seeking someone out in order to kill them, whereas Belkar kills indiscriminately and often for his own amusement. The single long rapier he carried also served as a counter to Belkar's two short daggers (and is another nod to Inigo Montoya). His actions and dialogue seem to suggest an alignment opposite of Belkar's Chaotic Evil, as Yokyok disliked the rest of the Linear Guild, regarding them as scoundrels, and was working with them only because Nale promised to deliver Belkar to him. Yokyok also considered himself a form of righteous justice delivering rightful punishment to Belkar.
What Yokyok's class was is unknown at present, but his clothing and choice of weapon would suggest that he was a Duelist or Swashbuckler.
Yokyok initially had the advantage, as the fight took place in a city and the rune on Belkar's head prevents him from dealing lethal damage in city limits to living beings; however, the rune apparently has no rules regarding the use of other people to kill a foe, and Yokyok was slain when Belkar offered a whole tavern of adventurers 200 gold pieces for kobold heads (A trick that also worked due to Yokyok's species being seen as evil and as a sort of pest). His head was seen in the next strip serving as a bowl for Belkar's tortilla chips (sharing a similar fate with his father) and the rest of him was apparently made into a salsa dip (although Belkar privately admitted to Haley that he had no intention of actually eating it, just using it to horrify Roy).
The Order of the Stick Adventure Game
The original line-up of the Linear Guild (Nale, Sabine, Thog, Hilgya, Zz'dtri, and Yikyik) appear as unique monster cards in the Order of the Stick Adventure Game. An announced expansion to the game that has not yet been released will allow players to take on the roles of Linear Guild members as playable characters.
- GTS Special: Order of the Stick Fall 2007 Releases. GamingReport.com, April 26, 2007. Retrieved on November 9, 2007