A High FantasyWebcomic that ran from 2002 to 2012, and the second webcomic of Michael Poe (Exploitation Now being his first, Does Not Play Well With Others his third). Poe is currently re-running the comic at 3-5 pages a week, with author commentary on each page. There are two sequel series planned.With a light touch of Post Modernism, the comic has a sizable amount of self-referential humor, Genre Savvy characters, and quite a few lampshaded, subverted, invoked, and roundly mocked tropes. It starts out following the adventures of a half-elven mage seeking ultimate arcane power, though as other main characters join up it quickly becomes evident that there is much more going on behind the scenes. The comic underwent slow onset Cerebus Syndrome, but still retained many of its humorous elements well into the series.Character-specific tropes can be found on the character sheet. The comic also has a wiki.
All There in the Manual: Extensive information regarding the world of Errant Story can be found on the comic's wiki.
All Trolls Are Different: The trolls were one of the original species (possibly the second after the dwarves) to inhabit the world, though their civilization was destroyed and their numbers devastated once the various elven races got together and launched a long, though ultimately unsuccessful campaign to exterminate them. They were likely created by Anilis and Senilis, the elven creator gods and were tutored by the same demigods that taught the elves, though the elves believe that the trolls were failures and sought to wipe them from existence. From what has been seen of the trolls they are large, strong, matriarchal (as apparently only the women are able to use magic), and cannibalistic, though they see this as a sort of immortality as the consumed are believed to live on as a part of the tribe.
They seem to mirror the Kroot of Warhammer 40k in this regard, though without the freaky genetics that make it actually true, and having your remains eaten after you die seems to be something of a compliment (they do it to humans only if suitably impressed). In fact, one of the punishments in their culture is "no one save the dirt and the worms shall eat of your meat." Likewise, they consider it very offensive to cremate someone's remains and burning a troll's corpse will royally piss off their tribe.
Interestingly, despite the aforementioned cannibalism they also seem to be the Only Sane Race.
Ancient Conspiracy: The ruling elves concealing the resting places of their creator gods from humans, half-elves, and even the majority of elves.
Anti-Magic: The Inanire 312, a type of grenade developed by the elves at the tail end of the Errant War that is capable of disrupting magic in a small area for a short period of time. Because of its indiscriminate nature and the fact that it was introduced so late in the war, when very few people remained for it to be used on, they were rarely used. After the war's end they were tucked away in a vault in Praenubilus Astu and forgotten about by most of the population until Ian attacked the city, at which point they were used to drive him off.
And the Dispel spell, used by Ian to kill/dissipate Luminosita and Meji to free Sara from a binding spell.
Of course, Ian gets Hoist by His Own Petard in an anti-magic sense, when Meji finally makes it to Praenubilus Astu with the airship fleet.
Armor Is Useless: Primarily due to the fact that the current weapons (magic, guns, and Durus Flamma weapons) are well ahead of the armor technology. Mentioned by Sarine when thinking if she should repair her current suit of armor.
Though note she's talking about her human armor. Elven armor is dismissed as too conspicuous, not useless. Elven reactive armor even dealt with unknown threats like time ninjas.
Art Shift: Flashback strips have softer linework and pencil shading, and tend to have more irregular panels.
Asshole Victim: Good lord, the elves. A lot of backstory is given about how they have pretty much attempted to exterminate or enslave every other sapient species they've come across. This is largely to show that their near-destruction wrought by a power-crazed, revenge-driven half-elf was brought on themselves, but given this information it's easy to sympathize with the Big Bad's motivations. See the Headscratchers tab for a lengthy discussion on this.
Ass in Ambassador: And how! The first elven ambassador we see is Meji's illegitimate father, and is perfectly willing to have his daughter killed to avoid public embarrassment over his affair with a human. After he's removed due to the aforementioned embarrassment, his replacement isn't any better, calling Meji an errant, and arrogantly referring to her as "it" to her grandfather.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Inverted with most of the Ensigerum. The older trainees and newly raised monks are generally more skilled than their seniors, since they have more recent experience practicing against opponents using the same kind of enhancements as they're using. Played straight with the leader, Anita, who is definitely the biggest badass in the order.
Author Tract: No one has anything nice to say about the Veracian church, their god or religious people, ever.
Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Jon and Sarine finally get one of these moments (heavily lampshaded by the peanut gallery) after a year of UST in-story and several in the real world. And no, the sex scene isn't it.
Bad Dreams: Sarine has had at least one of the stillbirth of her child. Considering that it happened two thousand years ago and is only part of the emotional baggage she has been carrying it was certainly not her only one.
B Side Comics: Fun With Familiars, featuring Rape-kun and Ellis mostly.
Bittersweet Ending: A bit. But mostly just because the one narrating the epilogue is an immortal, many years later.
Black and Grey Morality: It kinda says something about your setting when the one person who's the closest thing to an actual good guy also happens to be an assassin (one with a heart, granted, but an assassin just the same).
Breast Plate: Mostly averted, heavy armor (particularly the variety favored by the regular elven military) does a very good job at concealing a person's figure, even so far that in her early appearances it was unclear if Commander Nisotta was a man or a woman. Even Sarine, who is actually rather well endowed, appears rather flat when in armor. Played straight with early versions of the Viradior armor. Interestingly, in other flash backs the same armor is a bit less flattering and the modern version is mentioned to be essentially the same as the older one, so it is likely more a slight change in artistic style than an in-story change in armor design.
Brick Joke: This punchline is coming eventually. Remember when Meji yelled out that she was going to become a God for her final project? Within a year? Well, she freaking did it. Sure, it was all just a bizarre set of circumstances no one could have predicted, but by Jove she's done it! ...Although she still didn't quite manage to pass the class.
Bullying a Dragon: Minor example, but several of the adults in Meji's life still talk down to her like a wayward child even after she gains the powers of the creator-god Senilis.
Major example: Meji saves the elves from utter annihilation, and afterwards one of the elves arrogantly demands that she give up her powers, "generously" offering her amnesty if she does so, and promising to hunt her forever if she doesn't. One forum post compared Meji's saving of the elves from Ian to a bunch of Jewish commandos parachuting into Berlin in 1945 to save German civilians from the depredations of the Red Army, so the elf's reaction is as ungrateful as it is suicidal. The page is even called "Poking Bears With Sticks".
Cats Are Magic: Ellis. He can talk, fly and is extremely resilient to offensive magic.
Cats Are Mean: Ellis, Meji's familiar, is a talking winged cat. His use of language could make sailors blush - he's constantly making crude suggestions, sexual references and inappropriate jokes. For obvious reasons, Meji regularly applies a fireball or thunderbolt to him, but since he's Made of Iron, it doesn't really deter him to any significant degree. He's also a bit of a Deadpan Snarker.
Cerebus Syndrome: It starts off very lighthearted and grows progressively darker, with a genocidal maniac on the loose, another one in the making, and war brewing between the major powers.
Inverted with the prologue. It opens with Sarine angsting over her human husband's mortality and the future prospects for their unborn child while the Errant War is picking up steam around them. Her husband tries to comfort her with limited success. Then it cuts to 2000 years later where Sarine kills a mentally unstable half-elf who had recently raped, murdered, and mutilated three girls. Right after the prologue it becomes lighthearted and comedic to the point of Mood Whiplash.
The Inanire 312 grenades. Sarine finds that someone has already beaten her to cleaning out most of the stash of them in the elven vaults. That someone turns out to have been Commander Nisotta, who uses them later against Ian when he attacks the city.
Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Chris, a pretty weak Ensigerum trainee, reacts to Ian's confession of destroying Emerylon by punching him in the face. Ian proceeds to throw him off a building, but it was the thought that counts.
Distant Finale: Sarine is the only one of the main cast left at the end, to the best of our knowledge. Meji may still be around, but while we don't know about Sara, Jon is most definitely dead.
Jon: Honestly, what's wrong? Sarine: Just bad memories. Jon: Well, we all have plenty of tho- Sarine: 'Plenty?!' No! No you don't! You have barely even a handful of moments worth. I have years, decades, centuries.
Dooms Day Device: Powered by human babies no less. Used as a throwaway line by Sarine in an angry tirade about why the elves really shouldn't keep some things secret.
Presumably doesn't actually exist.
Dual Wielding: Sarine fights with a pair of short swords as her preferred weapons.
During the War: The story begins with a flashback to the opening years of the Errant War, two thousand years before the main plot, and a few others are scattered without.
Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age: Durus Flamma blades, elven swords used primarily for duels. However, even two thousand years before Errant Story takes place that rule was waning, as in the Errant War they were used in open combat, particularly by the Ensigerum. More recently some renegade (or simply conspiratorial) elves have used them in a similarly dishonorable fashion. Sarine herself prefers to abide by the old traditions governing their use, though if confronted by someone wielding one she does not hesitate to use her own.
Energy Being: Senilis, and possibly the entire Elven pantheon.
Eternal Love: Deconstructed. The elves consider near-eternal relationships a bad thing.
Fantastic Racism: The elves hunt half-elves ("errants") because they tend toward insanity and magic excellence, not a good combination. An entire city was destroyed by a single mad half-elf in the past. Ian, being a half-elf, thus naturally throws this trope back at the elves. As do most of the Ensigerum, but for other reasons.
Fantastic Slurs: The term "errant" used to only refer to half-elves who had gone insane, but the elves eventually came to view the terms "half-elf" and "errant" as interchangeable.
Faceless Goons: The regular elven military and Viradior use face concealing helmets and masks.
Filler Strips: Since its been running since 2002 there have been quite a few over the years.
Forever War: The Errant War dragged on for centuries, to the point where it stopped being about the events that kicked it off and degenerated into a war of genocide. It eventually "petered out" when there was no one left to fight simply because everyone was dead.
Half-Human Hybrid: The half-elves and their place in the world (or lack thereof) are the driving force of the story. The Errant War, the retreat of the elves, the eventual rise of humanity to fill the power vacuum left behind, and the current chaos are all due to the mental instability that plagues the half-elven population.
Have You Seen My God?: The elven creator deities up and vanished thousands of years before the story proper. They turn out to be asleep.
Hidden Elf Village: The Ensigerum Village. Also the city of Praenubilus Astu, the last elven city left in the world after the Errant War, which is built inside a mountain and until recently was magically sealed off from the world. Tsuikarushiti as well, which until about 200 years before the main story was hidden behind a cloaking field. And Santuariel, the half-elf village in the middle of a wasteland where they're hiding from the elves that want to kill them off.
Humans Are Bastards: Applied to elves, though there are several examples of more reasonable elves such as Sarine, Misa, and Nisotta.
I'm A Humanitarian: The trolls, though they don't usually eat humans, just other trolls. To them it's something of a compliment, they believe it grants a sort of immortality as the spirit of the eaten is passed on to the eater.
Immortal Immaturity: Misa is about 1,500 years old yet frequently acts like she's 15, primarily because she has been doted on her entire life and was one of the few elves who did not take part in the Errant War.
Misa: Being the youngest of a race that lives forever means being eternally treated as the baby.
Interservice Rivalry: Between the ranger corps and the regular elven military. The former thinks the other is a bunch of backwards do-nothings who should leave matters of the outside world to those who know how to get around there, while the latter thinks the other is a pack of lunatics for volunteering to leave their Hidden Elf Village in the first place. Illustrated here.
In the Blood: Half-elves (reputedly) have a tendency to go violently insane. This is ultimately what led to the Errant War which devastated the old elven empire and the reason behind the elves' policy of killing half-elves wherever they are found.
"It" Is Dehumanizing: The elves often refer to half-elves as "it" to show their arrogance and disdain for them.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Many of the characters, such as Jon, Sarine, and Meji, are all a bit dickish at first glance. In fact the only one who is nice on the surface turns out to be a genocidal maniac.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: Ian's genocidal campaign against the elves. With the exception of Sarine and Misa, they're all arrogant bastards who've been begging for that kind of smackdown the entire comic.
Knight of Cerebus: The goddess Anilis, in Ian's body. The mood, which had already been slowly shifting toward serious since the fight in Saus, dives into Ancient Conspiracies and genocide with gusto.
Loners Are Freaks: Played with, though mostly averted. The elven rangers are mostly loners, and while the regular elven military seems to regard them as freaks the two rangers seen so far seem to be as well adjusted as any elf. The elf in Farrel who has been living there for the last two thousand years, while arguably sane, is dismissed by the elven council as a madman, citing his long isolation as the reason.
(While looking for an elven warp gate the group stumbles on a simple, nondescript stone platform.) Jon: Maybe that's what elven warpgates look like? Meji: Nah, they're elves. Their warpgates would be, like, gigantic, with glowing crystal crap, trimmed in gold, and basically say "Our form of instantaneous global travel is better than your form of instantaneous global travel."
Though actually the current elven travel platforms look like ruins, and all the real stuff is hidden underground.
Magic Knight: Replete with them, particularly the Viradior and the Ensigerum.
Guard: Dude... it's a tall guy dressed in black, with a weird, glowy weapon thing, and we're a couple of guards in matching, shiny armor... we're so fucking DEAD!
Muscles Are Meaningless: Played with. The characters who are by far the strongest, the warrior-monks of the Ensigerum, are not particularly large people. Paul, who so far seems to be the largest of the Ensigerum, doesn't appear to be any bulkier than his fellow monks, with his size mainly coming simply from height. However, they do have ridiculousdefinition, making them more like an army of Bruce Lee's than anything else.
Hmm. The Ensigerum use magic like physical adepts, to fuel things like running up walls. By Word of God elves and lucky half-elves like Meji may be the strongest per mass; Meji beat up a couple of human guards twice her size. Trolls are probably strongest but they're big and not around much.
Neglectful Precursors: Although a comparatively mild example, the Creator gods, Anilis and Senilis, basically abandon the elves and their other creations to take a several millennia long nap.
Nookie: I think that's the second most effort I've ever had to go through just to get through a door...granted the first one involved a quantum singularity, Concussion, and a cheese and dragon on rye sandwich...so um, yeah...
Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Averted. By the time Errant Story takes place (and even during the Errant War, two thousand years before the main story) the dwarves are extinct, primarily because they were all sterile and couldn't use magic.
Our Elves Are Better: Played mostly straight. Except it turns out that the Ensigerum, the guys the elves trained as guards before they walled themselves off from the rest of the world, are actually a match for the elves in combat, even after all these years. And morally speaking the elves are pretty far down the ladder, having had their collective Moral Event Horizon (their attempt to exterminate the trolls for being "the gods' failure") thousands of years before the start of the comic.
Parental Abandonment: Most of the main characters suffer from this and even the elven people as a whole, as the creator gods Anilis and Senilis had abandoned them and vanished thousands of years prior to the main story.
Meji: We just stopped a group of bandits that were preying on a small town. Does that mean we've done one of those "Good deeds through multiple acts of violent murder" things that adventurers always do in books?
Reasonable Authority Figure: The elven Commander Nisotta and Paul, the Ensigerum second in command. Also the troll "Chieftess" in her very limited time on-stage. Pretty much everyone else with any real power is at least a little idiotic.
Red Shirt: Plenty of them, from Veracian guards to elven soldiers.
Replacement Goldfish: Part of the reason Meji is not killed by Sarine is because she is reminded of her stillborn child. Sarine still hasn't come clean about this, but it's become less of a motivation after Meji ran off with Ian
Sarine: Because, make no mistake, all the pain and misery that is happening to us right now... is the direct result of us spending so many useless centuries shitting on the half elves and the humans of the Ensigerum whenever possible!
Lampshaded by the Alt Text noting that she was never really good at the motivation pep talks.
Rule of Cool: The Dolon style (essentially a double bladed spear) of Durus Flamma blades. They were made for show, but the Ensigerum have put them to work as actual weapons with some success, though that owes more to the skill of the wielder than the usefulness of the weapon.
Running Gag: Well, it doesn't actually run, but the use of a cat-sized ball gag to deal with Ellis' smart-ass remarks comes up from time to time.
Schizo Tech: Revolvers and semi-automatic rifles in a setting that is otherwise lagging behind that level in (mundane) technology. Of course the prevalence of magic based tech makes it very difficult to peg a time period.
As does the prior existence of non-magical superintelligent dwarves, who probably had blasters and left behind a mecha. Tsuiraku is modern Japan via magic, the elves are probably that more so minus the silly culture, dwarves were supertech, non-Tsuiraku humans had to claw their way back up and are transitioning possibly with the help of dwarven ruins.
And later, the unnamed troll matriarch essentially says this to Ian's attempts to recruit her clan for his Elven genocide campaign, only in this case, it's more "Screw this, we're packing up, tearing down our huts, and getting outta here!"
Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Senilis, Anilis, and Exitialis have now been identified as alien collectives that attained corporeality. Exitialis, the Death God, is so identified because said collective disappeared, perhaps dead. The creation of the elves (and perhaps, humans) was intended to form a new collective to stabilize the other two. Who happen to be disintegrating.Mind Screw and Wham Episode combined into one. Well played, Poe. Well. Played.
That Didn't Happen: When Sarine fucks Jon, then erases his memory. Later Jon figures out his memory was messed with and even later Sarine confesses exactly what she did, to keep Jon from paranoid speculation about it.
The Spartan Way: The Ensigerum use this to churn out some of the deadliest warriors in the land.
Meji: Um... He did know that I could have just as easily blown up their entire camp for him instead? Sarine: Quiet, he needs this I think... Or if nothing else at least it'll hopefully make him stop whining for a little while.
Training from Hell: Endured by Sara and Chris en route to becoming Ensigerum monks, with the little extra detail that the Powers That Be secretly hope that Chris won't survive it — as Sara eventually tells him.
Troperiffic: Proudly. Poe has been known to reference TV Tropes by name in some of his filler strips.
24-Hour Armor: Mostly averted, humans generally don't even wear armor at all let alone full plate (the only people who seem to are elves) and even those who wear more reasonable armor don't wear it when they don't need to. The regular elven military does use full plate, and the problems with it are mentionedhere.
And early Sarine is in century-old human armor most of the time, though she eventually gives it up as useless.
What Measure Is a Mook?: So far Ian has only been seen killing mooks, though the fact that all the mooks he has killed were only trying to defend their homes from a genocidal maniac makes it rather easy to end up rooting for them.
Jon started giving Sarine one of these when she revealed that earlier she had an emotional breakdown, slept with him, and then deleted his memory of the whole thing. Being Jon and Sarine, it quickly degenerated into bickering and insults.
Wham Episode: Anilis and Senilis (and presumably Exitialis) are some sort of dying "collectives", and the dwarves, trolls, elves, and the little fairy-demigods are all their failed attempts at causing some sort of apotheosis which would somehow have stopped their decline. Humans haven't been explained yet. The entire setting's been redefined: it's sci-fi.