13

Is there anyway to figure out Vaarsuvius's gender? I know the author has stated he won't give it away, but is it perhaps likely that there are hints, and indicators I may have missed in the comics.

Is it possible to tell? Or is it not?

10
  • That is the eternal question. And only probably only Belkar knows for sure.
    – BBlake
    Sep 19, 2012 at 19:56
  • How would he know?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Sep 19, 2012 at 19:56
  • 1
    Belkar knows everything
    – BBlake
    Sep 19, 2012 at 19:58
  • 9
    If any of the members know, it would be Haley. If I recall correctly, in a hotel, the wizard states that will only share an room with Haley, and Haley knew that Vaarsuvius was married before any other member, and the readers. But I don't remember Of any indication of Haley possessing that knowledge. Apr 10, 2013 at 19:12
  • 1
    Apparently the fifth OotS book, Blood Runs in the Family, has some commentary by the author that may change the status of this question. If someone owns the book, please post an answer.
    – b_jonas
    Jan 5, 2020 at 14:55

5 Answers 5

23

The Frequently Asked Questions page, written by the Giant himself, says:

Q: Is Vaarsuvius male or female?

A: I will never reveal the truth! Bwahaha! Keep in mind that while certain other characters might refer to V as being male or female, that simply reveals their perception, not the actual reality of the situation.

The Giant elaborates the out of character history in a forum post:

The first time I heard someone question whether V was male or female was right after I posted my first strip. A friend of mine asked me about it; at the time, I simply answered. Luckily for me, that friend has not chosen to reveal what I said then to the world.

At the time of the lime green boots strip, there was a thread separate from the main discussion thread where someone said how nice it was to see two women adventurers who were so different from one another as V and Haley. Brief debate followed, but there were very few posters in those days. I don't think it made it to 12 posts.

By the comic with the belt, I was aware enough of the confusion that I had already taken a poll among an IRC gaming group I was in at the time and asked them what gender they thought he/she was, and the results were split: 4 thought V was a woman, 2 thought V was a man. So I decided to swing the perception the other way with my next strip.

Update 2023-02-02: much after this post, in 2020, the Giant posted additional information about this on his Patreon. A question in his 2020-03 Q&A post apparently refers to one of the author's commentaries in a book:

6.) Seth Aaron Hershman: Is there any chance V being genderqueer will be mentioned on-panel?

Rich: Not really. The reason being that V would never think of themselves in those terms—that was a word I used to describe V when discussing a scene’s real world subtext in a book commentary. But V doesn’t think about this issue at all (and in fact is annoyed by it when others bring it up), because not talking about gender is just culturally part of being an elf. They would have no reason to adopt the term as a stated identity. And if V wouldn’t use the word, no one else is in a position to put that identity on them. Except me, I can say whatever I want about V because I made them.

The Giant then clarifies the above in his 2020-07 post:

8.) Erin S.: Something that's been nagging me for a while; did you intend to make V "genderqueer" (quote marks because of the explanation from the first round of questions) from the start, or was it just a happy accident?

It was more or less a happy accident. I’ve told this story before, but it basically came about because early readers of the first few strips disagreed on V’s gender, and rather than correct anyone, I latched onto and ran with that. So if you define “the start” as the literal very beginning, then no, but if you definie it as “the first 5 or 6 strips” then yes. And no, it doesn’t matter what I thought V’s gender was before those readers said anything, because it turns out I was wrong.

Even though I played it for laughs at times during the early days, I always tried to make it so that V themselves was never the butt of the joke; it was always Belkar looking like a fool for caring so much, or Roy getting frustrated because he’s uncomfortable with ambiguity. I don’t know if I succeeded at that, but that was my intent. Generally, readers’ feedback on V has always been very positive, though I do think some of the jokes from those early days probably wouldn’t stand scrutiny today. At this point, though, it’s just become something that’s a fact about the character, who I think is far more defined by their actions during the story than their gender presentation.

2
  • This is one of the most frequently asked questions about OotS, along with the species of the Monster in the Dark. Thus, I thought that if we want to have OotS questions on this site, it's worth to answer this one well.
    – b_jonas
    May 2, 2014 at 18:22
  • 9
    Wait, how could I get Necromancer for this answer? Necromancy is one of the banned schools of Vaarsuvius.
    – b_jonas
    May 2, 2014 at 18:23
21

Vaarsuvius's gender is intentionally ambiguous; it's a joke on/with the readers. Therefore, the question you asked doesn't have an accurate answer. Both? Neither? We may never know. Rich Burlew goes out of his way to preserve the secret, from the readers, and even other members of the party.

Ambiguity about V's gender is such a well-known joke that it has its own shoutouts, such as this other elf from Looking For Group whose gender is ambiguous (though only to the other characters, in this case).

0
10

Well, since the author has explicitly said that the gender is ambiguous, even hints you think you've found in the comics probably can't be seen as definitive, since Rich Burlew can retcon it away if he feels that he accidentally pulled the reader towards one answer.

I'm going with "impossible to tell", since that is the express and explicit position of the author.

0

It is intentionally kept a secret as a joke, however, there is one clue: EVERY SINGLE FEMALE has a special body shape, while EVERY SINGLE MALE has a rectangular body. https://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0186.html

-3

It is true Vaarsuvius's gender has never been revealed, and is intentionally kept ambiguous. But I get the distinct impression from reading from the beginning that the dialog is merely meant to be wizardly, and thus didn't show a definitive gender. Because it was ambiguous, the author kept it that way as a joke.

My evidence is rather thin, but I conclude Vaarsuvius is a woman. Here is why:

  1. More gender balance. I suspect when laying out the characters, the author cast the wizard as female, partly as being non-stereotypical, and partly because the only other female was Haley.
  2. In Strip 3, Haley and Vaarsuvius are discussing footware fashion, a common thing for women to do together. If Vaarsuvius were a man, would Haley be discussing it?
    By Strip 28, I think the decision to keep the gender ambiguous was made.
  3. In Strip 123, Haley orders Vaarsuvius to room with her. Vaarsuvius wouldn't care what gender people are that she rooms with, but I would think Haley wouldn't room with the men in the party...

Except Elan, much later

  1. In the same strip, Haley says she expected Vaarsuvius to have her own set, of gemstones. Is there some tradition of handing down gemstones for everyone in the family? Are Roy, Durkon, Elan, or Belkar expected to have heirloom gemstones? I realize this comic was made for the sake of the joke, but I still think it is a clue, whether conscious or not.

After that, the instances of gender are more thoroughly blurred. For instance, I get the impression Vaarsuvius is a mother from the interactions with the dragon about the family's children, but that is very far from conclusive.

4
  • 3
    I don't think this adds up to "officially revealed."
    – DavidW
    Jun 22, 2023 at 20:43
  • As I mentioned, it is not official. The question is whether it is convincing enough, which it is in my own opinion. Jun 23, 2023 at 2:16
  • 2
    The question you're answering is about an official answer, not people's opinions, no matter how well they've convinced themselves.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jun 23, 2023 at 7:20
  • OP said, "Is it possible to tell? Or is it not?" Jun 23, 2023 at 11:35

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