Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels of Clan Quartzclaw (Digger)
"What in the name of the dirt under the claws of the mother of all wombats."The title character, a wombat who got lost, well, digging one day and finds herself in a strange world.
Tropes associated with Digger:
- Action Girl: If she has to, she kicks much ass.
- Battle Cry: REMEMBER TUNNEL SEVENTEEN!
- Big Sister Mentor: To Murai. Not even the statue of Ganesh knows what Murai would do without Digger's advice under her belt.
- Heroic BSOD: Digger seems to currently be going through a version of this after Ed's death; she's reacting to other people, but just barely enough to get by.
- The Heroine: Of the webcomic. In-story, she's The Lancer with a hint of The Smart Girl.
- Indy Ploy: Not that Digger likes such things, but it's generally how things end up anyway.Ed: Ed is hoping Digger-mousie knows what is doing!
Digger: Why start now?
- I Have Many Names: Digger, Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels Of Clan Quartzclaw, Burrower, Honored Digger, Digger-Mousie, Earth-Rat, Little Mother Of Earthquakes.
- I Should Have Been Better: She beats herself up over not having been a little better to prevent Ed's Death.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Digger inadvertently leads the hyena tracking her straight to Jhalm. She hears the fight start behind her, but since she really doesn't like either party, she just keeps on going. Later on, she manages to befriend the same hyena. Then Jhalm finds out, and puts two and two together. Should've listened to your mother, Dig...
- Mama Bear: Don't you dare mislead Shadowchild.
- Minored in Asskicking: Majored in geology/architecture. Well, she is a wombat.
- Nay-Theist: Her attitude is that gods are a whole heap of trouble of which you're better off steering clear. Apparently this is common among wombats.
- Only Sane Woman: Often her reaction to the extravagantly weird events she's involved in is some variation on the tune of "Oh, no, what is it now?"
- Only Sane Employee: Somebody's got to keep the little group of dubiously-sane, questionably-competent weirdos in line, and as the only fully sane and completely competent person around who's actually ambulatory, Digger's drafted.
- Overly Long Name: Digger-Of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels. Of Clan Quartzclaw. And she picks up some nicknames as she goes along, too.
- Powerful Pick: Her (and most wombats') Weapon of Choice.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Given that sarcasm is Digger's standard response to most things, this is quite common. "Do you have any idea how long twelve thousand years is?" "I know it's not long enough to make a good rock."
- Stealth Pun: Her full name, Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels.
- The Unchosen One: As a descendent of Helix, Digger simply can't be The Chosen One. Thanks to a loophole and unfortunately being a possessor of common courtesy, Digger is roped into helping out anyway.
"It was told to die, leave no name, no memory, no bones where real people might eat them. But It did not die. It has no name. But It will paint. After It is bones. After all real people are bones, after all names are eaten, someone will find pictures, maybe will not matter then that It doesn't have a name. Someone will remember pictures."A male hyena that Digger happens across one night who promptly tries to eat her. They become friends. One of the comic's more tragic figures.
Tropes associated with Ed:
- Amazon Chaser: He certainly thought so of Blood Eyes. She was one of the strongest warriors of her time, in any case.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Don't threaten his child. Even if you're her crazy mother. And don't taunt his circumstances.
- Deadpan Snarker: Has his moments.
- The Dog Bites Back: After long years of abuse, when he finally decides to act, it's... decisive.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Gut-wrenchingly averted.
- A Fate Worse Than Death: His original name was eaten, making him a non-entity in his culture."It has no name. Its name was eaten."
- Love Makes You Dumb: "Skin-painter is fool."
- No Name Given: His name is gone so Digger decides to call him "Ed."
- Papa Wolf: Even after years of accepting being abused, the knowledge that his daughter was being hurt drives him to tear out the throat of his mate.
- The Philosopher: Manages this even while invoking You No Take Candle.
- Phrase Catcher: A meta version, in that it's the fans who say it: "Oh, Ed." It is said precisely once in the comic proper, right after Ed's death.
- Spot of Tea: Or whatever it is he serves.
- Strange-Syntax Speaker: Since Ed had been exiled, he hadn't talked to anyone before Digger came along (presumably because no one but the hyenas would know where to find him, and they consider him to be unclean since his name was eaten when he was exiled). After seventeen years of silence, he simply forgot how to speak, and the syntax he uses is his best guess.
- You No Take Candle: We initially think he's eloquent in his own language. He's not - he hasn't talked to anyone in seventeen years, so his language skills have atrophied a bit. He has a peculiar wisdom and eloquence of his own, even so.
"But what is an evil? Is it like water or like a hedgehog or night or lumpy? What does it look like? How do I know?"A young, curious little shadow demon who hatched from the body of a dead bird. It eats shadows and has latched onto Digger for moral support.
Tropes associated with the Shadowchild:
- Ambiguous Innocence: Innocent to the point of no morality. Fortunately, it seems to trust Digger and want to learn. Less fortunately for Digger, it's not easy to present a working moral system off the top of one's head. It does figure out morality well enough to refuse to kill its companions and (correctly) identify another demon as evil, even when the other demon states that demons are above such petty "rules" - though it still mostly argues the point in terms Digger has told it.
- Badass Adorable
- Beware the Nice Ones: It's cute as a button, but don't forget: Shadowchild is, for all intents and purposes, a soul eating demon.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Digger is left having to teach Shadowchild the many nuances of what's right and wrong, and Shadowchild has difficulty understanding the concepts. Sweetgrass Voice explains the moralities of demons, and how consuming shadows of living speaking creatures is wrong only by the creatures rules, and not demons. After eating Sweetgrass Voice's projection, Shadowchild seems to grow and become wiser to the way things are. It states that while morality is still hard to grasp, it understands Digger's dilemma and the varying nature of good and evil, afterwards it leaves to find other demons to teach.
- Cheerful Child: Shadowchild is upbeat about odd things.
- Dark Is Not Evil: It's not quite good either, (though it's definitely trying) but calling it evil would be a big stretch.
- Furry Confusion: The Shadowchild's concern for the possibility of eating anything that can talk runs across more difficulty because it is, not unreasonably, unwilling to assume that prey animals can't without case-by-case checking.
- Growing Up Sucks: After absorbing a projection of Sweetgrass Voice and becoming smarter and more demon like it states this almost word for word to Digger, who agrees with it.
- In-Series Nickname/No Name Given/Only Known by Their Nickname: As far as it knows, it doesn't have an actual name. Digger coined the term "shadowchild" to refer to it, but usually just addresses it as "Shadow".
- Living Shadow: exact appearance.
- Running Joke: "Am I a—" "No, Shadowchild, you are not a [insert animal/object/abstract concept here]."
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Capable of "stretching" itself into scarier shapes, and its non-stretched form is always pretty variable.
- Wild Child: Digger at one point suggests that Shadowchild is more or less the demon version of this. But then, all Demons are, until and unless they get taken in by an older demon. Shadowlescent is setting out to change this.
- Your Soul Is Mine: If Shadowchild eats the shadow of a living creature, it drops dead. Eventually. First they go into a coma.
The Statue of Ganesh
Digger: You're a lifesaver.A statue of the Hindu god Ganesh. Digger pops out of a hole in his temple. The Veiled worship him and other gods.
Statue: On occasion, yes.
Statue: On occasion, yes.
Tropes associated with the Statue of Ganesh:
- Actually, That's My Assistant: The Statue of Ganesh is not only a speaking statue, but also a mouthpiece for Ganesh himself. Digger, being blind to the finer points of godly incarnation, just treats it as a talking statue all the time until Murai points out she's actually been conversing with Ganesh in their last conversation.
- Because I Said So: He comments to the titular wombat that neither he nor Jhalm want to have a conversation ending with "Because I'm a god and I say so."
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Though he isn't much of a Deadpan Snarker normally, he can definitely hold his own against Digger in a snark-fest.
- Expressive Mask: Depending on what he's saying and how the panel is positioned, he can look pleased, concerned or even pull off a Cheshire Cat Grin.
- God Is Good: Ganesh is old, wise, and, most importantly, benevolent. He has a kindness and patience with all of his followers and an understanding of the qualms of others.
- God's Hands Are Tied: He is only one part of Ganesh, and even then, he's a statue.
- Living Statue: He's a wooden statue that can communicate with others, though he is immobile.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He is the statue of Ganesh. Ganesh is merciful.
"I looked upon the face of a goddess. And it broke me. And now some things take me back there. Children screaming, or the darkness shining, or the smell — I really can't describe the smell."A former member of the Veiled and a worshipper of Ganesh. Has occasional bouts of madness. So, of course, she fits right in.
Tropes associated with Murai:
- Broken Bird: She looked upon the face of the Black Mother, and now hears voices, hallucinates, falls into insensate babbling, talks to herself and occasionally tries to kill everything in her path. Otherwise, she's a shy, sweet, dutiful monk.
- The Chick: In-story, she's both this and The Heroine.
- The Chosen One: But not for this story.
- Determinator: Beneath her gentleness and her madness, there are incredible resources of toughness.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: The source of her madness is from looking upon the Black Mother.
- Handicapped Badass: Adding to an occasionally paralyzing bout of madness, she broke her arm on a quest, which simply increases her determination.
- Hero of Another Story: Bits and pieces of her story creep in, like the prophecy business, but ultimately, this quest isn't about her. It's implied that one day, "when she stands astride the fulcrum of the world," her experiences during Digger will turn out to be vital.
- Holding the Floor: She knows enough about Jhalm to know he will at least hesitate to attack a lone, injured, if armed girl.
- Madness Mantra: "Black Mother, pass us by, turn your head away from us, we are not here, we are not here, pass us by..."
- Badass Creed: "Black Mother... Show your face!"
- Nice Girl: She's gentle and polite to everyone she speaks to - even demons.
- Sanity Slippage: Every now and then.
- Tareme Eyes: Western example, Murai's eyes are noticeably droopy in close-ups.
- Waif-Fu: All the Veiled are trained in combat, and Murai has the added help/hindrance in murderous, madness-fuelled fits of rage.
"Go on. They won't eat you unless you do something stupid."Senior female member of the hyena tribe that adopted Digger.
Tropes associated with Boneclaw Mother:
- Badass Normal: "I may be old, but if you think I can't still rip you up one side and down the other, cub, even if I am blind and five times your age..." (as quoted by Grim Eyes).
- Blind Seer: Digger does not initially realize she is blind: "I keep meeting people wearing strange masks, you see."
- "Perhaps it is a sign, then. Perhaps you ought to be wearing one."
- Cool Old Lady: Totally badass, occasionally terrifying, and very, very cunning - but ultimately kind.
- Dirty Old Woman: "You're a vile old woman."
- Disability Superpower:
- Played with. "These stones I wear. Perhaps I can see you through them. Do you believe that?"
- "Do the thing!"
"The thing where you tell people what they're thinking and freak 'em out!"
- Shamelessly taken advantage of when telling Grim Eyes to go with Digger on her initial quest. Whether Grim Eyes won or lost the fight threatened in the Badass Normal entry, she would still lose face with the tribe. By losing, she's lost to an elderly woman. By winning, she's won...against an elderly woman.
- Expressive Mask: The ropes holding the stones on her mask will rotate sometimes, often to correspond with her current emotion.
- Expy: She is basically a mix of Discworld's Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg.
- Mask Power: She uses this and her blindness for political advantage by claiming (probably falsely) to be able to see through the pebble eyes of the mask. She is sufficiently badass that other hyenas fear it may be true.
- Never Mess with Granny: "Frankly, I'm more scared of Boneclaw Mother than the gods. She-Is-Fiercer isn't known for her left hook."
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She pretty much exists to prove that every Hyena woman doesn't have an enormous chip on her shoulder.
- Trrrilling Rrrs: "I would like a worrrrd with you."
"A friend might put a spear in your heart, but only an enemy will tell you it's for your own good."A young, female hyena from Ed's tribe. Digger meets her when Grim Eyes is trying to capture and eat her. They also eventually become comrades. And since Boneclaw Mother technically adopted Digger, they're now relatives.
Tropes associated with Grim Eyes:
- Big Screwed-Up Family: It is a wonder that Grim Eyes even approaches normal.
- Heel–Face Turn: After Digger's Embarrassing Rescue.
- I Owe You My Life: To Digger. She's not too happy about it.
- The Lancer: Digger's. Otherwise, she's The Big Girl.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Later in the strip the parents of Grim Eyes are revealed: Ed and Blood Eyes.
- Morton's Fork: Boneclaw mother makes an Appeal to Force against her to make her help Digger. Grim Eyes points out that not obeying her is a lose-lose proposition: If she calls her out and they fight, Grim Eyes will either lose against a crippled blind old lady three times her age, or she will beat up a crippled blind old lady three times her age. There is really no way she gets out of it honour intact.
- Trrrilling Rrrs: When she's mad. A trait she shares with Boneclaw Mother.
- Weakness Turns Her On: She tells Digger as much after some conventional-gender-role-reversal antics with their Deer-headed guide.
"Bloodtail always was a vain little child, worried that people were watching her and terrified that maybe they weren't. She grew into a nasty, vain adult."Not much is known of her, but what is known makes her rather disagreeable.
Tropes associated with Blood Tail:
- If I Can't Have You: She encouraged spousal abuse by her sister because she was envious after Ed chose the sister over herself, with an added Take That implying that he was still better off with the madwoman who beat him than he ever would have been with her.
Blood EyesFormer mate of Ed.
Tropes associated with Blood Eyes:
- From Bad to Worse: Her firstborn child died, and she has nobody to take out her rage/grief on aside from the spouse she still deeply loves (when she's sane). Meanwhile her sister is taking advantage of her vulnerable state, eventually driving her mad enough to start beating her daughter as well.
- Love Makes You Crazy: She did not take the loss of her first born well.
- Heroic BSOD: A very understandable one. Things went bad when Blood-Tail started screwing with her head.
"Even compassion must bend before the law."Leader of the Veiled.
Tropes associated with Captain Jhalm:
- Eyepatch of Power: And once he gets it, he goes from merely being hostile to overtly opposing Digger before the statue of Ganesh.
- He Who Fights Monsters: He comes dangerously close to slipping from simple Knight Templar into this.
- Inspector Javert: One of the obstacles for Digger's attempts to straighten things out is Jhalm believing that she's cooperating with the hyenas (she is) to cause trouble for the village (she isn't).
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Arguably, he becomes less of a well meaning jerk and more of a spiteful Knight Templar as the story goes on. Judging from what we've heard now that Digger's group has returned to Ganesh's temple, it seems that he's gotten worse in their absence.
- Knight Templar: Increasingly so as the story goes on.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Twice. the first time an unarmed Grim Eyes attacks him thinking she's got Digger, and the two get into a fight which Digger walks away from. They both come out no worse for wear. The second involves a fight with Cold Servants which he managed to hold off long enough for reinforcements to arrive and win the day. The latter was the engagement that cost him the eye.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Murai forces him into one of these by pulling a You Shall Not Pass on him at the entrance to Ganesh's temple — he either has to abandon his hunt for Digger, or attack a girl with a broken arm who is also one of his subordinates. Boneclaw Mother successfully pushes him onto the good choice.
- You Have Failed Me: Averted. When Murai was sent to investigate the Black mother god that was gaining power from the beliefs of children, she comes back with her mind in shambles. Murai was surprised that instead of blaming her, Jhalm blamed himself for sending a child out into such a dangerous situation.
The Oracular Slug
"One minute we're oozing along, not a care in the world, and the next, every time you cross a leaf, it's telling you the future. It's hard when you've got a brain the size of a pin head, believe me."An oracle who is a slug. Pretty much the only creature who can keep a tab on Digger's future.
Tropes associated with the Oracular Slug:
- Chekhov's Gun: His prophecies, naturally.
- Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: He and Shadowchild get on very well.
- Drowning My Sorrows: What lead to his family becoming oracles. He even points out how weird it is.
- Hermaphrodite: Slug, remember?
- It May Help You on Your Quest: Tries his best to get his prophecies to Digger.
- Loophole Abuse: Helix's contract prevented any gods from interfering with his descendants' destinies. Unfortunately, he forgot to include any such clause about prophetic slugs...
"Ha! Was that a threat? What are you gonna do, beat up a healer in the middle of her village? I can think of a half-dozen gods who'd be very interested to hear about that."A young woman who acts as the healer for the village Rath. Digger finds herself holed up in her house more often than they'd both like.
Tropes associated with the Hag:
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Though she's not actually old, she's only referred to as "the Hag", which seems to sort of come with the position.
- The Medic: As the village healer, she's often called in to help the injured, which is how she's introduced to Digger.
- Tsundere: Will not hesitate to call Digger out on her recklessness, will not hesitate to forestall Jhalm on questioning or capturing her and will not hesitate to call out the Statue on sending Digger (and Murai) into possible danger.
- Younger Than They Look: She's 19. You wouldn't think it to look at her.
"You know any reason why an 'onest shrew can't be a bloody great troll on the side?"A professional troll who guards a rope bridge. She is actually a shrew.
Tropes associated with Surka:
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Her employment history before becoming a Bridge-troll was "Pirate queen, assassin, and dishwasher."
- The Beast Master: When she met Digger, she was the master of a bunch of trolls guarding a bridge.
- Big Damn Heroes: Surka tends to just pop up whenever Digger needs muscle. Or a distraction.
- The Big Guy: Shares the role with Grim Eyes (though they're very rarely together at any one time).
- Cool Old Lady: Not in the actual comic (probably), but Ursula's children's book Nurk is about her grandson, and from what we hear from him, she remained just as boisterous in her elderly years.
- Troll Bridge: Her job, apparently.
He-IsAn Only Mostly Dead hyena god.
Tropes associated with He-Is:
- Beat Still, My Heart: Inverted; it's not supposed to beat, but a team of slaves are forcing it to.
- Chekhov's Gunman
- Fate Worse Than Death: He is kept alive against his will, along with the same demon that made him kill his own child.
- God Couple: With She-Is.
- Taking You with Me: He tries to do this to Sweetgrass Voice, but he's kept alive against his will. It finally works when Digger and Ed show up and kill him for good.
"Kill me? Not even a god could kill me, dirt rat. Twelve thousand years I've been down here with him, and he's never found a way to destroy me. Twelve thousand years, dirt rat! And when his sanity began to fail and I finally drove him blundering up to the surface, what did he do but find dwarves and men and one of your filthy-clawed kind to bind him! Do you have any idea how long twelve thousand years is?"A powerful, elder demon who manipulated He-Is into fighting She-Is, and was therefore the cause of the whole mess and its aftermath. It's still alive, possessing He-Is' remains.
Tropes associated with Sweetgrass Voice:
- Chekhov's Gunman: A demon with a voice like sweetgrass smoke appears in Ed's creation myth for the Hyenas as the corrupter of He-Is. Pages and pages later, the myth turned out to be one-hundred percent accurate, and the demon as evil as described.
- Ironic Nickname: Real-life sweetgrass is a sacred plant in many indigenous traditions, said to repel evil through its sweet smell. Sweetgrass Voice is the Big Bad.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: It has some reach to work with, but as long as He-Is is shackled, it's stuck with him.
- The Unpronounceable: Its true name, like that of all demons, cannot even be heard by most creatures, much less pronounced. In-story, it is represented by a series of dashes because of this.
- Walking Wasteland: Never confirmed, but forty-thousand years before the story, there was a creature called Famine that fit the trope, and it certainly bears a resemblance.