|“The Philosophy of Chaos”|
|Order of the Stick comic|
|Date published||11 November 2008|
|View the comic|
Belkar's Vision is in full swing. And Rich is really enjoying himself artistically...
- Belkar Bitterleaf (also as game piece, as green line, as human, and as sheep) ◀ ▶
- Mr. Scruffy (also as game piece, winged, and as Lord Shojo) ◀ ▶
- Lord Shojo (also as game piece, as halfling, as playing card, as vision, and as winged Mr. Scruffy) ◀ ▶
[Note: An image of a comatose Belkar with Mr. Scruffy next to him provides a singular background which underlies all of the panels of this strip.]
- Panel 1
Belkar: So is there some point to all this?
Shojo: It's a dream, how much "point" do you really expect?
Belkar: Enough to justify this dream not featuring Jessica Biel in a hot tub instead of your decrepit ass.
- Panel 2
Shojo: Hmmm. Fair enough. I'm here to help.
Belkar: You're going to remove the curse? YES!
Shojo: Oh, my, no. I can't do that, I'm probably just a figment of your imagination.
Shojo: No, I'm going to give you some broad unsolicited advice in the hopes that it will change how you live your life.
Mr. Scruffy got wings and flies around.
- Panel 3
Shojo becomes Belkar sized and Belkar Shojo sized as Mr. Scruffy circles them.
Shojo: We're rather alike, you know. We're both individuals who don't fit into the preconceptions others might have about our roles in life.
Shojo: Sure, I'm a scheming benevolent dictator and you're a bloodthirsty killer, but I find that after one is dead, distinctions like that don't matter as much anymore.
- Panel 4
Shojo's head appears on the winged Mr. Scruffy, while Mr. Scruffy's head appears on Shojo's body. Belkar returns to normal.
Shojo: Plus, you're looking after my cat. If you flake out on life, Mr. Scruffy is on his own, isn't he?
Mr. Scruffy: Meow.
Belkar: OK, so what's the big secret wisdom? Don't let the King of Blue-Town put a curse on you? Because I think I figured that one out on my own already.
- Panel 5
The scene switches to the trio sitting on a mountain. Shojo is on the top in robes sitting in the lotus position.
Shojo: No, the wisdom is simply this:
Shojo: Play the game.
- Panel 6
The scene switches to a game of D&D with Shojo DMing behind a screen. Belkar and Mr. Scruffy have character sheets. Belkar is in a tuxedo and Shojo wears a plaid shirt.
Belkar: Uh, OK, but I thought we weren't actually representing a game campaign, we were just living in a world where the laws of—
Shojo: Not THIS game!
Belkar: Oh, whew!
- Panel 7
The scene switches to a the trio on the playing board of The Game of Life. Shojo's head is on a playing piece in a blue car, Belkar and Mr. Scruffy on green and white playing pieces laying around outside the car.
Shojo: I mean The Game, the big one. The one that each of us plays every day when we get out of bed, put on our face, and go out into the world. Some of us play to get ahead, some of us just want to get through the day without breaking character.
Shojo: It's called "Civilization" No, wait, there's already a game called that... OK, it's called "Society."
- Panel 8
The scene switches to Belkar on a couch eating Cheetos. Grey figures sit around a table in the background. All three return to their normal forms.
Shojo: Your problem is that you don't want to play the game at all, you want to sit on the couch and eat Cheetos while everyone else is playing.
Belkar: Well, why shouldn't I? What's the point of their Society, anyway? It never did anything for me.
Shojo: The point is that if you laugh and spit in their faces enough times, they'll kick you out of the house—
Shojo: Which in this extended metaphor means killing you.
- Panel 9
Belkar becomes a sheep.
Belkar: So, what, you're saying that the only alternative is to show up and play by everyone else's stupid rules??
Shojo: Of course not, my woolly friend. You can cheat.
Shojo: Twelve Gods know that I always did.
- Panel 10
Shojo appears as a series of playing card king of hearts.
Shojo: Nudge die rolls, palm cards, "forget" penalties...but you have to sit down to play first.
Shojo: As long as the people at the table see a fellow player across from them, they'll tolerate you. A crooked player is a pain in the ass, but someone who refuses to play at all makes them start questioning their own lives—
Shojo: —and people HATE to think. They'd rather lose to a cheater, than dwell too long on why they're playing in the first place.
- Panel 11
Both Belkar and Shojo appear to have a multitude of copies of them.
Belkar: So, you're saying that if I can trick all of the other mindless drones into believing that I subscribe to their arbitrary moral framework, they'll just leave me alone?
Shojo: They all assumed I followed the Paladin's Code, didn't they?
Belkar: That makes so much sense...I finally understand what it is I need to be doing! In order to make it in this world—
- Panel 12
Belkar and Shojo are normal again.
Belkar: —I need to pretend to have character growth!
Shojo: That "faking sincerity" bit is [a] pretty useful trick, too.
- Jessica Biel, at the time of the publication of this strip was probably best known for her roles in the 1996-2006 TV show Seventh Heaven and the 2006 film, The Illusionist. She had yet to marry Justin Timberlake.
- The sixth panel makes a meta-reference to the concept of the Order of the Stick comics themselves.
- The Civilization series of video games are what Shojo refers to in the seventh panel as having already taken that name. The playing board and pieces are from The Game of Life.
- The playing card kings show Shojo as being a paladin, although he has admitted to being a 14th level aristocrat.
- The row of Belkars take on the appearance of Belkar as he was in #58, First Aid, at which time he was under the affects of Owl's Wisdom, and had a white stripe on his tunic instead of a green one.