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Vaarsuvius

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V
Vaarsuvius
Biographical information
First Comic

0001

Physical description
Species

High Elf

Gender

Ambiguous

Hair color

Purple

Chronological and political information
Class

Wizard

Alignment

True Neutral[1]

Known masters

Roy

Vaarsuvius is an ambiguously gendered high elf and a member of the Order of the Stick. After studying for nearly a century, Vaarsuvius decided to become an adventurer to expand their knowledge. Vaarsuvius is sometimes referred to as V, and has a friendship with Haley Starshine. Belkar Bitterleaf is one of Vaarsuvius's rivals. V is arguably the most powerful member of the Order of the Stick.

In game terms Vaarsuvius is a wizard who specialises in evocation and enchantment spells, with Evocation as their specialty. V's barred schools are conjuration (revealed in OotS Comic #340) and necromancy (never stated but can be inferred from information - Vaarsuvius has used at least one spell from each school except for conjuration and necromancy). V's familiar is a raven, which Vaarsuvius never got around to naming, but Haley Starshine named Blackwing. Vaarsuvius constantly forgot that Blackwing existed, until around the time of Comic #674.


Character historyEdit

Pre-OrderEdit

Vaarsuvius, or 'V' as she/he is often called, was born to ranger parents in the Great Elven Forest. V is married and has two 26 year old twins with its mate Inkyrius, who lives in the village of Ivyleaf.

V was introduced to magic at an early age by Master Aardinarius, a close family friend who later took Vaarsuvius on as an apprentice, a position that V filled for sixty years. V's master, however, became concerned that, while V excelled at the academic aspects of magic, the apprentice had become too isolated from the real world and thus Vaarsuvius was sent out into the world to learn more (via a Bugsby's Evicting Hand spell).

Vaarsuvius decided that the best way to make a name in magic was to challenge one of the Iron Mages, a group who specialised in the artistic side of magic. One of the Mages would accept the challenge and Mage and challenger would be given an hour to research one or more spells using a given material as a component. Whoever was judged to have created the most effective and artistically pleasing set of spells would be deemed the winner.

Vaarsuvius issued a challenge, with the aim of outdoing their opponent and thus gaining access to the vast libraries of the Iron Mages. The challenge began, but Vaarsuvius, temporarily distracted by the Master of Ceremonies asking a question, replied in their usual long-winded manner, leaving them with very little time to actually complete the task. Vaarsuvius watched in annoyance as the Iron Mage revealed a sizeable collection of inscribed spells, potions and a magic item, a considerable lead over the two spells that Vaarsuvius had inscribed in the time. Proceeding to the testing stage, V was shocked to realise that they had made a serious error in scribing one of their spells, transposing range and area of effect. The resultant blast leveled the stadium. Unsurprisingly, Vaarsuvius was disqualified.

Apparently attempting to drown his/her sorrows, Vaarsuvius visited a local tavern where they encountered the rogue Haley Starshine. Discussing the relative merits of research against adventuring, Haley persuaded V to visit the local adventurer's tavern to see what opportunities might be available. While still uncertain, V agreed.

At the tavern, Vaarsuvius encountered the fighter Roy Greenhilt, who was recruiting a team to locate and destroy the lich Xykon. Haley had already signed up and recommended Vaarsuvius to Roy as a possible recruit. Irritated by Roy questioning their abilities, V magically shattered the table that Roy was sitting at with a Fireball. Roy then asked V to join the group, but the wizard initially declined, claiming that Roy was clearly only inviting them to sign up because he was intimidated by Vaarsuvius' mental prowess and needed the opportunity to reestablish his dominance. Roy proceeded to describe in highly technical detail the nature of a Fireball spell and the specific need for someone who could cast it- as Vaarsuvius just had. Initially shocked and then pleased at this unexpected display of intellect from a fighter, Vaarsuvius agreed to join the party.

It has been revealed that Vaarsuvius is married, something that came as a complete shock to their teammates Belkar Bitterleaf and Durkon Thundershield, although Haley appeared to already be aware of this. V's mate, Inkyrius (nicknamed Kyrie), is also an elf and is an apprentice baker.

The Order of the StickEdit

Vaarsuvius is the strongest member of the order, capable of fighting many foes at once. V originally joined the order just to find the secret to arcane power, but V has made friends with everyone on the team besides Belkar. Thus, V now willingly follows the Order wherever they go.

Throughout the adventures of the Order to date, Vaarsuvius has generally proven themself to be a highly effective member of the party, using their considerable magical abilities to great effect. V has, on occasion, found her/himself to be vulnerable in battle, something typical of mages. V took the ring of Wizardry from Xykon's finger as their prize after the battle.

After the Order escaped the bandits of the Wooden Forest, V was transformed into a lizard by a hag he/she encountered on their way. Eventually when everyone descended a pit they encountered a dragon. V was almost eaten by the dragon but Haley shot him in the eye. The dragon then swallowed Haley but V was able to cast Suggestion on the dragon.

Since then, they have traveled with the Order to Azure City, where they were given the run of the city's spell libraries, although, much to their frustration, the oddities of the rules prevented them from gaining as many additional spells as they hoped to.

Visiting the Oracle of Sunken Valley, Vaarsuvius posed the question "How will I achieve complete and total ultimate arcane power?" The Oracle replied "By saying the right four words to the right being at the right time for all the wrong reasons." This turns out to be a reference to strip 634 (The wrong reasons), where Vaarsuvius said the words "I... I must succeed" to the three archfiends, allowing the elf to harness three ultra-powerful evil spirits at once.

After a side adventure in Cliffport to rescue Roy's sister Julia from Elan's brother Nale, the Order returned to Azure City, with, unbeknownst to them, Nale, now masquerading as Elan. Later that night after (unknowingly) helping out the fiend Sabine with her undirected rage at Nale, Vaarsuvius was forced to prevent Belkar (whom Nale had enchanted) from murdering Durkon. Visiting Haley to procure some decent restraints for Belkar, they discovered the Linear Guild attempting to overpower the now-returned Elan and Haley. Vaarsuvius was faced with the identical twins. V swiftly tricked Nale into revealing himself by simply insulting his many so-called master plans, then blasted him into unconsciousness.

When Azure City fell under attack by Xykon's hobgoblin army the next day, Vaarsuvius easily bested Redcloak's Titanium Elementals by using the Dismissal spell. Unable to return to their assigned position on the wall, they volunteered their services to help defend the breach in the wall caused by the elementals. Vaarsuvius orchestrated the initial defense of the breach by picking the thirteen best warriors available, using V's magic to provide them all with multiple magical bonuses, then using an enlargement spell to expand them to a huge size, allowing them to wipe out multiple hobgoblins at a time. A death knight, however, managed to use the corpses as a bridge and blasted through the front-lines. Vaarsuvius managed to disable and deprive the spell-resistant death knight of its mounted combat feats by disintegrating its skeletal mount. Despite this, the undead easily wiped away the warriors facing it with an abyssal blast (a death knight special ability), leaving Vaarsuvius standing alone against the brutal opponent. However, the death knight was soon after crushed by the head of Xykon's undead dragon after Roy chopped it off in mid-flight. Later on in the battle, Redcloak leads the entire army in a charge at the breach that frightens a large number of the soldiers into fleeing. Vaarsuvius states that they are out of spells save for Invisibility, which they cast on themself in order to escape, apologizing that they can do nothing more. They were later found by Elan hiding among the refugees of the city sneaking into Hinjo's junk. Although no longer having any spells, Vaarsuvius advises Elan on creating an illusion of a celestial lion to intimidate the enemy.

During the four months Vaarsuvius has been shown working obsessively over finding a way to scry on and/or communicate with Haley, blaming themself for stranding her in Azure City. All such attempts have hitherto been thwarted by Xykon's Cloister spell. V claims that their spells were too weak to make a difference during the battle, and retreat could have been avoided had they had more powerful spells, stating that they wasted their time harassing Belkar rather than gaining more knowledge. Vaarsuvius' latest attempt, using three birds to convey a spoken message to Haley and Belkar, was thwarted when the latter shot and later roasted the birds on a spit.

Recently, Vaarsuvius has turned to stone a large demon summoned by Qarr and disintegrated Daimyo Kubota as Elan was leading him to his trial. They then left Elan and Durkon behind, believing them to hinder its search for Haley.

After several weeks on a desert island trying to research spells to help them locate Haley, they met with the demon Qarr again, who had been spying on them. After being threatened by Vaarsuvius, he attempts to bargain with them to help them achieve ultimate arcane power, in exchange for not killing him. Vaarsuvius refuses, but before a blow can be struck, a dragon appears, claiming she is the Mother of the Dragon Vaarsuvius killed in the search for the starmetal. She tells them that she will kill their family in retribution, and departs after trapping Vaarsuvius and draining their magic. They sell their soul to three archfiends who conveniently appear and offer them greater power than they could achieve on their own, by splicing three souls into their body. V agrees, with the words "I... I must succeed", fulfilling the Oracle's prediction that they would achieve unmatched arcane power by saying the right four words to the right people at the right time for all the wrong reasons (as the fiends suggested an alternate way to save their family, but one that V was too proud to consider).

With the power of the soul splice V saves their family, while viciously killing the Dragon's entire bloodline in the process. Vaarsuvius then returned to the fleet planning to show off their newfound arcane power, only to be rebuffed by Diago and Kazumi, who point out that Durkon and Elan left ages ago and Haley is in cliffport. V, incensed, leaves, but not before teleporting the fleet to what they view as the perfect location. They then met with Haley and rescued Roy's body, while gaining the respect of Belkar, who gains respect for them now that they are evil. After meeting with Durkon and Elan V teleported them both back to where V had brought the fleet, only to be told it would take ten minutes to resurrect Roy. Unstable due to the soul-splice and their own insecurities, they proceeded to attempt to take down Xykon. Breaking through the cloister that surrounded the city, they appeared ready to fight, only to be casually beaten into the ground by the lich, who didn't even see V as a threat for most of the battle, and removing their slender advantage with repeated uses of energy drain. Xykon then flattened V with a huge chunk of masonry, making them lose the splice.

It was at this moment that O-Chul, Xykon's paladin prisoner and playtoy, broke out of his cage (killing a roach that attempted to warn the bad guys), ripped Xykon's phylactery from around the neck of Redcloak, and (when the cleric used Word of Recall to get away) began pounding on it with the bar he'd removed from his cage. While this couldn't dent the phylactery (20 hardness), he distracted Xykon, allowing Vaarsuvius to cast Invisibility on themself while O-Chul was getting pummeled with Meteor Swarm and Maximized Lightning Bolt.

Balked by a closed door, Vaarsuvius was about to climb out the hole they had blasted in the tower's side... but, upon hearing Xykon's plans for the unconscious O-Chul, returned and poured a healing potion (lifted from a dead hobgoblin) down the paladin's throat. Though they were then caught by Xykon (Liches get a racial +8 on Listen checks), O-Chul snatched both V and the phylactery from Xykon's grasp, and ran to the hole, which overlooks the Snarl. As he pondered how to get the amulet to the Snarl, Vaarsuvius remembered their familiar.

As Blackwing flew to the Snarl, Xykon cast Mass Hold Person on Vaarsuvius and O-chul before realizing his phylactery was headed for the Snarl. The lich flew up to retrieve it, Blackwing being held stunned by some effect of the Snarl itself... only to find written on the amulet:

20px-Cquote1.png Guess what spell I cast before giving this to the bird. 20px-Cquote2.png

The amulet then explodes, injuring the lich and falling into a sewer. In anger Xykon returned to the tower and tried to cast meteor swarm down their throats, but Vaarsuvius was somehow teleported by the Monster in the Darkness along with O-chul to the island where Roy was being raised.

Vaarsuvius's actions while they were spliced with Haerta Bloodsoak's soul would come back to haunt them when they discovered that the Familicide spell killed Girard Draketooth's entire family, as well as Penelope and many other innocent people.

Personality, abilities and traitsEdit

According to their character profile in the No Cure for the Paladin Blues collection, Vaarsuvius is currently around 130 years old, although on their application form to join the Order they claimed to be 103. They are rational, intelligent, perceptive, witty, and erudite to the point of often being unnecessarily long-winded and somewhat detached. They see the world in a scholarly manner and are good at explaining things, but somewhat lacking in other people skills. To summarize, V fits many of the characteristics of the stereotypical intellectual, albeit backed up by the ability to inflict a considerable amount of magical destruction on those around them.

Vaarsuvius has a (justifiably) high opinion of their own magical and intellectual ability, which frequently comes across as arrogance and often feels that their powers are being wasted on minor matters. Their main motivation is knowledge and arcane power. However, they also find joy in unleashing great destructive spells on a deserving target. V is known to have had an Intelligence of 18 when recruited into the Order, which may have increased in the interim. Vaarsuvius appears to be level 12 during an incident where they attempted to charge the sum of 360 gold pieces for casting a Fireball spell (which carried a cost of thirty times the level of the spellcaster), and their ability to cast Disintegrate (a 6th-level spell). They are shown asking Zz'dtri if he would like Time Stop (9th level) for his house-ruled Fly. Later they scribe the 7th-level spell Power Word: Blind, showing that they have progressed up to at least 13th level. In some comics, Vaarsuvius targeted a group of NPC soldiers with several Mass enhancement spells: since such spells affect 1 creature per level, and the target group was specifically limited by Vaarsuvius to no more than 13 soldiers, it may be inferred that Vaarsuvius has not progressed beyond 13th level as of yet. As an elf, Vaarsuvius is proficient with a bow and arrow, though they are by no means particularly good at using them.

In accordance with D&D rules, V is specialized in the Evocation school of magic; one of their barred schools is Conjuration, and the other has never been directly mentioned, but by process of elimination must be Necromancy (though while trying to barter spells with Zz'dtri, they mentioned that there is a Vampiric Touch spell in their spellbook).

V's principal weakness is that they generally possess the expectation that things should be clear and logical and gets highly frustrated when the "real" world all too frequently fails to live up to this. Many of the comic's game-related jokes are based on V's observations about the rules of the world in which they live. V appears to be overly confident in the power and ability of magic that is fairly common in Wizards and Sorcerers - Roy's father Eugene Greenhilt himself shares this personality trait, as revealed in On the Origin of PCs. Vaarsuvius is often irritated at the irrationality of many of the party. They have a relationship of mutual respect with Roy, based on their shared intellect, get on reasonably well with Durkon and appear to regard Haley as a friend and occasional confidante. They dislike Belkar immensely (however they find the ranger much more bearable than the arrogant and commanding then-paladin Miko Miyazaki) and was at one point going out of their way to irritate the halfling after the incident in Azure City where the drunken ranger kissed them. Vaarsuvius finds Elan's frivolity highly frustrating, although they have shown a genuine affection for the bard on occasion, mostly notably after Elan announced that he wanted to become a wizard and dressed up in a stereotypical wizard robe, hat and beard. Initially assuming that Elan was making fun of its profession, V became angry at Elan, leaving the bard in tears. Ultimately realizing that Elan actually saw wizards as being cool and powerful and wanted to emulate them by becoming one himself, V apologized. Elan happily accepted and the two now consider each other to be friends, and V seems to have made an apology by teaching Elan how to make better, more effective illusions.

In addition to this, V seems to believe arcane power is the be all and end all, belittling Durkon's divine powers ("It is not as if they [Durkon's spells] were REAL magic!"), and seeing their only options in terms of arcane powers, seldom considering conventional means. In their last encounter, this was mocked mercilessly by Xykon, who proceeded to crush their windpipe with his bare hands while pointing out that types of power don't matter, as long as you earned it, and even O-Chul is wiser than Vaarsuvius in that regard.

Vaarsuvius has a notable tendency to inflict punishment on others using the "Explosive Runes" spell; those who cross them often encounter the phrase "I prepared Explosive Runes this morning" (or similar) written somewhere unexpected. This was especially apparent in the aftermath of the kiss in the Azure City; Vaarsuvius subsequently used Explosive Runes on Belkar no fewer than 14 times including rigging a can of Belkar's coffee with them (modifying it to read "Explosive Runes brand coffee: Good to the last Kaboom"). They have also demonstrated a gift for improvised retribution; after being polymorphed into a lizard, Vaarsuvius responds to Belkar's attempt to determine V's gender with "My vengeance will be prolonged, diminutive cretin." Subsequently, they used Suggestion (one of only three spells their lizard form could cast) on a black dragon that has swallowed Haley, then command the dragon to "Vomit. Now. And aim for the halfling."

V also apparently likes the works of Judy Garland, and coffee, specifically espresso, though they won't say no to a glass of fine elven wine.

V is a vegetarian.

GenderEdit

It is a running joke in the comic that Vaarsuvius's gender is intentionally unclear, even from their teammates, and author Rich Burlew has already stated that V's gender will not be revealed and that any instances of characters in the comic referring to V as "he" or "she" only reflect on those characters' perceptions, and not on the reality of V's gender.[2]

Vaarsuvius appears to have trouble telling genders apart from themself — when Roy was magically transformed into a woman, they appeared not to notice. They also did not find it odd when Nale (disguised as Elan) was making out with an apparently male CPPD officer (actually Sabine shapeshifted). When Sabine asked them about their opinions on men, V claimed they were not certain they were most qualified to discuss gender traits. In one instance, V was transformed into a lizard and Belkar examined the lizard's genitals in an attempt to determine their gender, but lacked sufficient knowledge pertaining to lizard biology. Vaarsuvius's children are adopted, which could be an indicator that Vaarsuvius and Inkyrius can't have children of their own.

The Order of the Stick Adventure GameEdit

Vaarsuvius is one of the characters players may choose when playing the Order of the Stick Adventure Game. The abilities of the character are reflective of their personality and skills as depicted in the comic, with cards titled such things as Fireball, Verbose Recitation, and Ambiguous Gender. The listed alignment is Arrogant Neutral.

TriviaEdit

Vaarsuvius is an anagram for the latin phrase Varius Avus, meaning various grandfathers. It may also be a slight corruption of Vesuvius, the name of a large volcano that erupted and destroyed Pompeii. This is backed up by their evil opposite at one time being named Pompey.

Rich has revealed that the four words to gain ultimate arcane power, "I...I must succeed" were actually said to themself, not to the directors, so it wasn't a mistake that the prophecy said "being" instead of "beings".

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Re: Is Varsuuvius Lawful, Chaotic or True Neutral?", The Giant, 8/18/2011.
  2. Burlew, Rich: Order of the Stick FAQ. Retrieved 1 October 2008.
The Order of the Stick
Roy GreenhiltHaley StarshineDurkon ThundershieldElanVaarsuviusBelkar Bitterleaf
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