Nodwick

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search

Yeagar: Oh, what do you know? You're only a henchman.
Nodwick: Yeah, I was overqualified for an adventuring job.

The story of Nodwick is a classic tale of boy meets party, boy hires on with party, boy becomes injured, crushed, punctured, smelted, flattened, stapled, eaten, and occasionally used to carry stuff.
—Nodwick's Rogues Gallery

Nodwick is Print-and-webcomic by Aaron Williams, the same author as PS238 and Full Frontal Nerdity. Focuses on what can only be called a misadventuring group in a fantasy world based loosely on Dungeons & Dragons settings. The party consists of a less than worldly cleric named Piffany; a completely expendable henchman, the titular Nodwick; a power-hungry wizard named Artax; and a brawler named Yeagar. The print comic followed a story arc concerning the party's battle with an evil god called Baphuma'al, while at the same time the online variant and its apperances in Dragon Magazine provided shorter a-gag-a-week stories that were unrelated to the goings-on of the print story.

After having completed its print run in 2008, the comic is currently on hiatus as Mr. Williams focuses on PS238 and Full Frontal Nerdity. The author has instead begun to upload the story from the print comic into the website for free in lieu of new strips, at a rate of three pages per week.

Here's old issues, from Dragon and Dungeon.

Here's the new site.

Tropes used in Nodwick include:
  • Abnormal Ammo: Henchmen. Yeagar also develops a stone thrower that requires the discs to be saucer-shaped. One strip features a crank-powered sword-shooting gun.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Justified
  • Action Girl: Rowen in the print comic.
  • All Just a Dream: One strip featured the characters as ordinary people who happened to be playing a game of D&D with Aaron Williams as the DM. Nodwick's player wanted a new character, but Williams insisted that despite being a Butt Monkey, his role was vital to the party's success. Cue Nodwick waking up and looking confused.
  • Amusing Injuries: Verbally. Half the fun of Nodwick suffering a severe injury comes from statements such as "I can't feel my kneecaps...oh wait, yes I can, they're in my shoes."
  • An Arc: The print comic.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: A certain Sword in the Stone, which if pulled out too early, will curse the land with fire raining from the sky. It adds additional curses if someone is dumb enough to put it back in... And additional ones if you pull it out again, and so on and so on. These curses get increasingly silly, such as every firstborn child becoming a lawyer, demons building mini-malls, incontinent pelicans, "reagonomics", and market-researched sit-coms.
    • Curiously, for such an extensively planned curse, it doesn't have any dispensation for what happens when someone gets fed up with the bullshit and breaks the sword.
      • None that we see. The guys with the book listing the curses are still searching when the party leaves.
  • Art Evolution: The artwork and character designs have gradually become more streamlined and exaggerated since the beginning. Given a Lampshade Hanging in one strip, where Artax observes that Nodwick's nose is much larger than it used to be, and Nodwick offers the hypothesis that it's developed as a counterweight for all the treasure he's made to lug around.
  • Artifact of Doom: Half the group's income derives from hunting for these. Usually with some lying spin doctoring to make them more palatable to Piffany.
  • Back from the Dead: Nodwick. And he's required by law to fill out a new birth certificate every time. On a busy week it's rather inconvenient.
  • Badass Adorable: Piffany. For all her childlike mannerisms, she's ultimately the lynchpin keeping Baphuma'al from taking over the world. Major demons and Infernal lawyers fear her.
  • Badly-Battered Babysitter: When Piffany is recalled to her abbey, she's deliberately given the "difficult" class by the Alpha Bitch, populated with demons, children of villains and the possessed.
  • Basement Dweller
  • Berserk Button: Curse enough around Piffany, and she can apparently kick her way through prison bars to deliver an indignant scolding.

Powers What Is: Leave the cleric alone. If you do anything that keeps her from doing her nice-thoughts-and-fluffy-kittens work, we'll bust you so far down that an army of theological scholars won't be able to find mention of you in a million years! You got that?

  • Big Bad: Baphuma'al in the print comics, Count Repugsive in many of the shorter strips.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Yeagar, when he's being nice.
  • Broke the Rating Scale: Once, when Yeagar gave up the seven deadly sins, he invented an eighth. Suffice to say, they don't make him try to give them up any more.
  • Brotherhood of Evil: The Brotherhood of Evil Henchmen
  • Butt Monkey: Nodwick, whose job description involves carrying extreme weights, suffering abuse, and being completely expendable.
    • To put this in perspective, Nodwick is hired ostensibly to provide someone who can carry things. However, the less morally constrained members of his party put him to other use:

It was Yeagar who pioneered many of the techniques in henchman use that adventuring parties use today. Far from relying on hirelings as mere human shields, he demonstrated their employ as projectiles, bait, door-jammers, and flotation devices.

      • ... not to count battering ram, trap disarmer (as Artax at one point puts it, "In the same way stick disarms a bear trap.") and an all purpose tool, with the only person with any moral decency at all in the party being too clueless to stop this. Said uses, more often than not, result in his death, only to Piffany to conveniently patch him up with Duct Tape, so that said abuses can be heaped upon him all over again. And all of this takes place on top of the fact that he is frequently expected by his employers to haul several metric tons of "loot." To make matters worse, his guild is manipulated by the Adventurers Guild so that the president is a hamster and his health plan consists of a bottle of poison (The exact type of poison changes periodically). His contract is utterly impossible to get out of and at one point, he finds out that it is cosmically infeasible that he would ever get out of his current situation. This is so bad that when he dies, he is reduced to begging the powers that be to let him stay dead, only to find that he was due for resurrection yet again.
      • A representative of "The Powers What Is" offered just that. Nodwick tried to turn it down immediately.
        • The reason for that is every time they tried to help him it either made matters worse for him or somebody else. If he died permanently Piffany would have a nervous breakdown and that goes against all of reality for her to angst.
  • The Cameo: Nodwick makes a few brief appearances in the live-action independent film The Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising.
    • Open the official D&D supplement, Book of Vile Darkness to the Monsters chapter. Look very carefully at the party of adventurers those two skeleton monsters are about to attack. Familiar?
    • Nodwick and the party also appears in an issue of PS238 as part of an elaborate time-travelling/dimension-hopping plot.
  • Can Not Tell a Lie: Piffany not only lacks the ability to lie, she can't even keep her mouth shut while others do so.
  • Captain Ersatz: The god Tharizduuhm is a pretty obvious ersatz Tharizdun, himself something of an ersatz Lovecraftian Old One. However, Lolth, Spider-Man, and Count Strahd, among others, all appear as themselves.
  • Cataclysm Backstory: The world used to be a technological paradise right up until a scientist destroyed everything when his Time Machine spectacularly misfired.
    • Actually he brought the equivalent of a high tech palm pilor with him and that was enough to cause the Cataclysm.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: in the print comic; with Baphuma'al as Knight of Cerebus.
  • Character Alignment: Not surprisingly, since it's inspired by D&D. They actually have official character sheets (for 2nd Edition) that were published in Dragon (magazine) and then later added to the online archive. Then again, the dissonance between their sheets and how they act is a deliberate part of the humor.
    • For those interested, Piffany and Nodwick are Lawful Good (to no-one's surprise), Yeagar is apparently Chaotic Good, and Artax is Neutral Good (though gods know how, considering how they treat most of their fellow beings—and Nodwick). Or, as the first strip says:

Nodwick: I guess the "Lawful Good" in your want ad was a typo, right?
Yeagar: Our cleric placed the ad; she's a bit of an idealist.

      • Presumably it's a joke at the expense of those roleplayers who end up playing good alignments as neutral—certainly Artax acts True Neutral and Yeager is textbook Chaotic Neutral.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In one of the first Nodwick strips, Yeagar remarks that the party really needs a thief; Artax reminds him that their last one is still in therapy. Years later, we discover that Artax and Yeagar are the reason said thief was in therapy...
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The hamster gets superpowers at the end of Last Son of Xenon. No mention is made of them again until the final confrontation with Baphuma'al.
  • Chew Toy, The: once again, Nodwick.
  • Cloning Blues: More than once, Artax has tried out his clone spell on Nodwick. The results have ranged from simple leftover heads to legions of Nodwick zombies.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: In the print comics, this is the fate of Elonan after overspending her power. A rather dark example altogether, given that she starts treating the undead as her family and tries to kill off our heroes with a wedding ceremony.
  • Cluster K Bomb: KRUTZ!
  • Cosmic Plaything: "The Powers What Is" have stated that Nodwick is a "destiny sponge". If he doesn't suffer, the rest of the world suffers instead. Which makes Nodwick something of a martyr...who comes back to life...I'm gonna stop right there.
  • Crapsack World: Society has devolved to a feudal system, none of the sentient races get along, the gods argue all the time, and there are far too many carnivorous monsters for Nodwick's tastes.
    • Then their attempts to help the creation of a perfect world turn out even worse with the creation of a world occupied entirely by absurdly muscular fairies who talk like Piffany, do all-night magic research sessions, and then have to cope with 200 proof water. Granted, this may be your idea of heaven.
    • It's still a picnic compared to the parallel world in A World Without Piffany. Baphuma'al runs the place.
  • Crossover: Several with Full Frontal Nerdity, the author's other D&D-based comic.
  • Cyanide Pill: The Henchman union's health plan is a vial of poison, the first month it was literally cyanide, another time it was hemlock.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Nodwick. Arthax takes over the role if Nodwick isn't around, and his Evil Counterpart Ildomir in the print comics gets rather sarcastic when things aren't going his way.
  • Death Is Cheap: Nodwick has to file a new birth certificate with his union every time he dies. His file holds eight trees worth of paper.
    • In one issue of the comic book, he dies 10 times on one page, and many many more times in the rest of the issue. He dies so often that the compilations have a "Rest Index Peace," an index of which pages he dies on, and in what manner.
      • Which itself was discontinued after the second book or so because it just became TOO MUCH to keep track of.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In A World Without Piffany, someone was left to rot in a dungeon for littering.
  • The Ditz: The Evil Henchman Beobor from the print comic. Nodwick's constant bamboozling of him makes Yeagar look smart by comparison.
  • Doppelganger: Though not a very in-character one.
  • Dragon (magazine): One of its longest-running comics, going unbroken once introduced all the way to the final print issue.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: The favoured healing method of our partys cleric. He has a holy Humongous Mecha that shoots duct tape to ressurect Nodwick.
  • Dumb Is Good: Both played straight with Piffany (good, but naive and either very selectively oblivious or has a real problem with failing spot checks) and Artax (smart, but utterly amoral), and subverted with Yeagar (dumb as a stump and not very nice) and Nodwick (smart and good, making it a wonder he ever became a henchman in the first place).
    • It should be noted that Piffany is usually very perceptive when it comes to everything except Arthax and Yeagar's antics.
      • One of the earlier comics showed that Piffany is intentionally ignoring it.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Baphuma'al gets introduced pretty early on. However no one would suspect that it is The head of the Evil Henchman Guild.
  • Eldritch Abomination: So very many.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: A brief war ended because A) the Artifact of Doom both sides were looking for would have killed both sides if it was used, and B) they decided the humans needed careful watching, since the stuff in their tavern cellar is clearly an explosive siege weapon - it can't possibly be drinkable (see Gargle Blaster below).
  • End of the World Special: Yeagar of all people get the opportunity for this near the end of the print comic.
  • Even Henchmen Love Their Mamas: Nodwick's helmet is a gift from his mother, and he demands to know which is the original when he gets cloned.
  • Evil Counterpart: In the print comic Utharr, Ildomir and Elonan are this for Yeagar, Artax and Piffany respectively.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The party faces these on a regular basis in the webcomic. Ildomir from the print comic is perhaps the most pronounced example, although he's technically a wizard.
  • Evil Twin: Inverted, Yeagar ends up developing a good twin in the print comic after enough smacks to the head with the clue-by-four.
    • Well is less Good Twin and more Enlightened Twin. Regualr Yeagar is rather dumb.
  • Exclusively Evil: Subverted. They encounter a Kobold accountant.
    • "You'd be surprised..."
    • And a down-on-her-luck Drow squatting in the party's basement due to a housing crisis.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Piffany repeatedly fails to spot Athax and Yeagar's more egregious abuses of Nodwick. It's implied it may be more Selective Obliviousness.
  • Fairy Tale: One stand-alone story in the print comic has Nodwick and crew reenacting several classic fairy tales.
    • Fractured Fairy Tale: Hilarity Ensues as the characters start rebelling against their roles and act like themselves instead of the characters they're supposed to be, which epically messes up the fairy tales.

Narrator: Once Upon a Time, there was a beautiful princess. Her beauty was so that it outshone the queen. The queen grew jealous, and exiled the princess to the forest, in the hopes that she would be felled by the beasts living there. The princess was found by a kindly troupe of seven dwarves, five of which were on vacation and one of which had a hyperactive thyroid condition...
Yeagar (as Snow White): This is really starting to get old.
Nodwick (as dwarf): Wow. If the queen exiled you for being pretty...
Yeagar: Can it, Dopey.
Artax (as dwarf): Ugly jokes and men in dresses. Two dead horses that can't avoid being beaten...

  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Subverted, as the group mirrors the classic D&D party - a cleric, a wizard, a fighter, and a thief—but they don't have a thief rouge rogue. Instead, Nodwick disarms traps... the way a stick disarms a bear trap.
    • They used to have a rogue. They fired him for stealing from them.
      • Only after Nodwick caught him (see Crowning Moment of Awesome); the first time they had to force a cursed helmet on him that drove him insane for a few years.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: "Naughty furry thing with slimy tentacles, death ray eyes and cute, fluffy tail! whack!"
  • Foreshadowing: The later Gauntlet of Supremacy and Orb of Omniscience storylines were hinted at during "It's a Wonderful Afterlife."
    • The items themselves were also used by Yeager and Artax respectively in A World Without Piffany.
    • "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" also introduced the Powers What Is, who would later prove instrumental in the final fight against Baphuma'al.
  • Fourth Wall Mail Slot: Though it just doesn't end well.
  • Freudian Trio: Yeagar (id), Artax (ego), Piffany (superego). Nodwick is a henchman and gets no say in the matters, but is a superego.
    • Amongst their evil counterparts in the print version, Utharr (id), Elonan (ego), and Ildomir (superego). Elonan and Utharr end up switching places after Utharr becomes fully sentient as an undead and Elonan goes Ax Crazy.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Piffany, whose most terrible crime is that she once smooshed a bug. And she did a week's penance just for that!!!
  • Fusion Fic: Not quite, but: Twin Peaks + Expedition to the Barrier Peaks = ??? or "The temple of Elemental Evil. Hommlet"
  • Future Badass: Nodwick, thanks to the power of Save Points. To elaborate, Nodwick touched an artifact that basically engineered a Stable Time Loop - a good thing, as the group was caught up in a quest for the fate of reality shortly afterward. Nodwick's companions being their usual competent selves meant that Nodwick had to go back to the start of the loop repeatedly, eventually deciding to apply himself to the same skills so he could cover for their ineptitude, ending up a Fighter/Mage/Cleric of greater power than any of them.
    • Both Artax and Yeagar get a very negative version of this in some of their alternate futures. In A world without Piffany and It's A wonderful afterlife, we find out that without Piffany or Nodwick around, Yeagar and Artax get ensnared by (respectively) The Gauntlet of Supremacy and the Orb of Omniscience. In A World Without Piffany they also end up as dual Dragons to Big Bad Baphuma'al.
  • Gambit Pileup: Played with in this strip and the following ones, in which LITERALLY everyone in the country is trying to take the throne for themselves.
  • Garage Sale: The party has to hold a yard sale to sell off the excess junk they'd been looting from dungeons when they learn that Nodwick had been forced to build an extension to their house out of looted junk to store the rest of their looted junk.
  • Gargle Blaster: Skullwhomper Ale. Apparently the stuff is so volatile that the elves and dwarves thought that it was some kind of high explosive (Which can potentially cause a fireball 15 miles across). It was actually invented by a dragon as a doomsday weapon - he was really embarrassed when he learned that humans were drinking the stuff.

Nodwick: Why is this recipe labeled "Liquid of Fiery Vengeance"?

"It makes your clothes grow, too?" "This version does. There were some major problems with the first version when-" "THANK YOU! That's enough information."

Yeagar: You don't understand! He's a ninja and a pirate!
Artax: That's a level of awesome you just can't beat without high explosives, maybe.

    • "A kind of tragic" arc

jumping nut with a sword There will be only me!!