Web Original / Unichat

Unichat is a text-based webcomic by Patrick "Xenocartographer" Coffman, told entirely through chat logs on the titular program. While at first appearing to be a niche Slice of Life comic, the story quickly takes a hard left into sci-fi, with a moon base, theoretical physics, Time Travel, and computer programming all factoring heavily into the plot. The comic is hosted on ComicFury, which is something of a testament to the power of that site's template engine.

Unichat has rebooted once before, with the author considering the previous version something on an Old Shame, according to the rant. While the plot is somewhat different and the world is much, much more fleshed out, all the tropes of the original apply in the reboot.


Unichat provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Variant. The names of characters revealed are quite mundane, but since most characters are only known by their chat names, very few of them sound as such. Usernames run the gamut from the fairly normal (EntropicPhantom, Bulwark) to the silly (pwnz0rz, Admiral Pancake) to the ridiculous (OITHEOI, bloodshoes).
  • The Alleged Space Station: The moon base where Sonja lives is prone to electrical failures, to the point that an entire sector losing life support is considered a minor inconvenience. On the other hand, the station is large enough that abandoning such an area isn't a big deal, it does good science, and has a coffee-delivery robot. Sonja explains that the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder - namely, Pancake Enterprises.
  • Almighty Janitor: Chat administrator GodsOfOlympus has special protections granted by none less than the United Nations. Ostensibly, this is because Unichat has become the de facto communications standards in the post-Gaian era.
  • Another Dimension: The alternate pwnz0rzes appear to be from Time Travel-induced Dark World versions of the main timeline. One fan theory speculates that Etamnanki may be Another Dimension of its own.
  • Big Good: What the chat administrator, GodsOfOlympus, may be, if he's not an Outside-Context Problem.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Early on in the comic, EntropicPhantom and SonjaOfTheMoon have difficulty confessing their feelings for each other. They get over it within the first fifty pages, but it had apparently been a long-term problem before the events of the comic.
  • The Chessmaster: Many, many possibilities, to the point of fan-term "the chess club" showing up to refer to them. Four different users have expressed a desire to take over the world, and other powers such as GodsOfOlympus, Orlov, Athena, and meta's dad all have their own objectives as well.
  • Church Militant: The Gaian faith, whose nuclear arsenal is responsible for the setting's Schizo Tech and rendering India uninhabitable. They were more or less wiped out after World War III, but a few encampments of the die-hard faithful remain scattered across the globe.
    • A figure known only as Unus_Relicum is referred to as a "Gaian agitator", and Vampire still has some Gaian assets under their control, implying that they still have some relevance. The site's CSS even defines a chat color for UR, in spite of them never appearing in a page.
    • After his election, Orlov confirms reports of peaceful Gaian outposts in Russian territory.
  • Cross Player: In Hades Realm, EntropicPhantom and Sonja's character classes are called, respectively, priestess and prince. In-universe, the general attitude seems to be "eh".
  • Cyberspace: Averted, perhaps surprisingly.
  • Friendless Background: Sonja grew up on a moon base with only one other person her age, who she does not get along with. Poor girl...
  • Color-Coded Characters: Each character has their own chat color. (Interestingly, the same holds true for readers in the comments.)
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Sonja's username is SonjaOfTheMoon, and she lives on the moon.
  • Friendly Enemies: Rasputin and Vampire very much appear to be military rivals, but enjoy casual chitchat, refer to each other as friends, and even use hugging emotes in the chat. Rasputin even staged a battle with Vampire for the explicit purpose of cheering her up.
  • Gambit Pileup: Oh, gods, where to begin? Theo vs. Rasputin, Rasputin vs. Vampire, Pancake vs. everyone, with GodsOfOlympus messing with them all for his own ends... maybe, and that's not even getting into the Time Travel.
  • Genre-Busting: Whether Unichat is actually a comic is a matter of some dispute, with one reviewer suggesting "webscript" as a replacement.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: The first alternate pwnz0rz, on multiple occasions.
  • Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: Sonja gets OITHEOI's AI working within a matter of weeks. In fairness, she'd just inherited several years of development on it, and it's implied that technologies like AI were online or close to it before the Gaian outbreak; it's more that no one'd bothered to build one for lack of hardware that could run it.
  • Interactive Comic: Comments formatted as a chat message will be delivered to their intended recipient. Interestingly, this is treated as an in-universe phenomenon.
  • Kudzu Plot: A handful of plot threads, such as Pancake's visit to the moon and Sonja finding a corpse have appeared only to be immediately dropped. Whether they'll end up becoming relevant or not remains to be seen.
  • Language of Magic: While not "magic" 'per se', the @hena programming language (from which the Athena AI was born) can interact with reality in unusual ways, such as vaporizing CPUs, stealing data from an unpowered hard drive, or summoning coffee, through "vacuum perturbations". It's explicitly stated that it can only run on hardware designed with certain quantum mechanical effects in mind, however.
  • L33t L1ng0: pwnz0rz' username.
  • Mental World: One theory about Admiral Pancake's mysterious Etamnanki, which has been seen interacting with Anarchon's dream states.
  • Mind Manipulation: Vampire may have some variety of this ability.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: The chat client has a filter. Often used for jokes. pwnz0rz often gets away with swearing due to a well-timed typo, and the rogue administrator can swear by virtue of bypassing the chat altogether. This does not apply to the comments.
  • No Indoor Voice: Anarchon uses frequent CAPS LOCK, and even when he's not, the general aggressiveness of his messages cause him to seem loud anyway.
  • No Name Given: Most of the characters, but some have appeared in canon. A rogue administrator has been seen posting messages directly in the chat logs.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The majority of the villains who, in turn, are coming to regard the readers this way.
  • Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future: Justified. A nuclear war in the backstory set some areas of human technology back a few decades.
  • Outside-Context Problem: GodsOfOlympus implies that he's investigating one, and has cited world domination as beneath his notice. Given his status in the United Nations, this may even be true... if he's not one himself. Sonja references Excession when describing Gaia, but she may have been speaking metaphorically.
  • Promotion to Parent: Implied with Bulwark, who seems to singlehandedly care for her psychotic younger brother.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: pwnz0rz standard typing style.
  • Schizo Tech: Moon bases, commercial spacecraft, an AI... and a chat client that wouldn't look out of place in the 70s.
  • Shout-Out: To Blue Planet: War in Heaven, of all things, in the author notes of page 57. What relevance, if any, this has is ambiguous, but it may be related to whatever Etamnanki is.
  • Theme Naming: All of Admiral Pancake's minions, besides the pwnz0rz duplicates, have a name ending in "conspirator". While the first part of the name appears to be fairly arbitrary, conspirators assigned to the same team begin with the same letter.
  • Techno Babble: Some, but generally somewhat meaningful to those versed in higher mathematics.
  • Time Master: pwnz0rz... isn't, but alternate timeline versions of him show up in the service of Admiral Pancake. That said, pwnz0rz himself has on one occasion sent a cryptic message to one of the alts with the ?? timestamp associated with time travel.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The "chess club" seem fond of using each other this way, though the degree of unwittingness is a matter of some debate. Chat administrator GodsOfOlympus gets in on the action from time to time.
  • Webcomic Time: Downplayed. Timestamps on every message and occasional datestamps do a pretty good job of keeping things synced up.
  • World War III: Happened in the backstory, leading to a degree of Schizo Tech. The nuke-happy Gaian faith was a major player.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WebOriginal/Unichat?from=Webcomic.Unichat