Keychain of Creation was (see Painting the Medium, below) a Stick Figure Comic set in Creation, the world of the Exalted roleplaying game. It follows the adventures of a quartet of Exalted as they quest to retrieve five magical keys that hold the evil Primordials sealed away: Misho, a Twilight Caste Solar, who has all of his Exaltation's memories dating back to the First Age, but no memory of his current mortal life, which can't possibly be suspicious; Marena, a Changing Moon Caste Lunar with a fox totem, a flirtatious, fun-loving, confident woman... who's quite possibly the most terrifying of the group; Secret, a renegade Day Caste Abyssal with some major self-esteem problems; and Ten Winds, an elderly Air Aspect Terrestrial, formerly a monk in the Immaculate Order, who left because he grew disillusioned with the Order, and because he enjoyed the pleasures of the world a bit too much.Genre Savvy and awareness of game mechanics is universal, and a source of much of the humor. The art style and premise were inspired by the The Order of the Stick, but Keychain spends less time lampshading the conventions of the RPGs and fantasy stories and more time on the over-the-top action that's made Exalted famous.Unfortunately, the webcomic is on hiatus as the author is recovering from tendonitis. Even so, he has been devoting the time he would have otherwise spent on the comic to writing homebrew material for the Exalted setting, which is worth a look at. It is currently not known when (or unfortunately "if") it will begin updating again, as tendonitis can take a long time to heal (and also has the possibility of turning chronic, hence the "if").Has a character sheet.
It might be possible to find a drug or toxin that will incapacitate Ten Winds. You'll have to look for a long time (and commandeer the help of a few gods and/or demons) before you find it.
Marena's mother fed her tiny doses of poison during her childhood to protect her from assassinations... which never happened anyway.
Action Girl: Pretty much every female in this comic worth mentioning can kick ass with all of the boys, and then some. Sort of comes with the Exalted territory, but even by Exalted standards some of the ladies (especially Nova and Nemen Yi) are incredibly skilled.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Subverted, played straight and lampshaded. The Automaton Guard doesn't recognize Marena's caste mark (Misho hypothesises that it's because its sensors are faulty). On the other hand, though tainted with abyssal essence and abandoned for thousands of years, Mew Cai remains true to her original purpose.
Done again in 379, this time explained as the result of the heroes entering the realm of a Physical God. Out of story, it's because the author wanted to move away from sprite-based art and into drawn art.
Art Shift: Creatures of the Wyld, Primordials, ghosts, and gods (especiallygods) are each drawn in a significantly different style from the main cast. The Fair Folk are a very subtle example — they don't have internal lines, just colors.
Big Bad: The First and Forsaken Lion. As a nine-foot tall man wearing armour forged from souls and hellbent on killing everything evernote Technically, he 'only' wants to kill the Neverborn. Everyone else is just collateral damage..., he's one of the more literal examples of this trope. It's worth noting that this is rather pointedly spot-on to his portrayal in the game's canon.
BFS: Ragara Karen's Daiklave, which is about twice her height. When not in combat she can actually fold it up into a slightly more compact form.
Calling Your Attacks: Misho calls his spells and Combos — which can provide a Bilingual Bonus for those people that can transliterate the Old Realm script it's in if the effect of the spell isn't shown until a page or two later.
Open up MoEP: Alchemicals, flip to page 81. Look at the last name on the list of prominent Alchemicals.note For those without the book, Elegant Nova of Progression is now the name of a canonical Alchemical Exalt.
One of Nova's powers is now an official Alchemical Charm, Light-Etched Interceptor Barrier.
Cool Sword: The Keys, of course, but also Misho's other sword, the Blade of Vitality. It makes its wielder immortal, even compared to the Exalted.
Cure For Cancer: Misho can apparently do this at will ("It's so easy when you know how to do it!") but it kinda breaks their cover.
Cute Little Fangs: Marena and Secret, occasionally. Marena because she's a Lunar, and sometimes takes on animal features, especially when she's angry or agitated; and Secret because she's an Abyssal, with the added ability to grow full not-so-cute vampire fangs, because she regains Essence through consuming blood. (Among other things, if the author's staying close to the source.)
Subverted with Resonance Ben, who is blind and uses inhumanly acute hearing to 'see' because he thinks it's cool, but who constantly has it turned against him in various ways.
Ben also has an Exalt-specific Disability Superpower that's the reason for his name (on multiple levels): he intentionally cultivates Resonance, the Abyssal form of Limit that stems from his Eldritch Abomination patrons getting pissy with him, to channel it into devastating necrotic attacks. This is pretty much a complete Game Breaker though — the entire point of Resonance is that you don't want it (you don't want Eldritch Abominations mad at you).
Misho: Mostly, they're images of the primordials, as they were before the war. The gods felt it important we be reminded who we were fighting... thought we would feel a bit more confidence if we knew the nature of our foes.
Secret: Who's that?
Misho: That would be Adrián, the River of All Torments. The gods weren't... used to humans, at that point.
Exact Time to Failure: Subverted. Mew Cai announces that the Soaring Manse will self destruct in 47 seconds, but waits until the evil Abyssals attacking the party have left before she mentions how to stop it. Later Double Subverted, as something else caused the catastrophic chain reaction that killed her a few minutes later.
Exact Words: The Terrestrial bandits have no objection to someone driving on to the bridge. Getting off of it, however...
Eyeless Face: Ghosts have these, along with a black-and-white color palette, to distinguish them from mortals.
The Fair Folk: The Fae. While everyone in the comic knows the mechanics on which the universe runs and is Genre Savvy, only the Fae realize they are in a comic strip. This is done in order to portray an alternate worldview that, to everyone else, seems like insanity.
Fan Nickname: Notably, Secret's Overly Long Name was initially going to be shortened as 'Sorrowful Herald'. 'Secret' was coined by a fan before a practical-sized name was established, however, and the author liked it, so it was taken up in the comic as well.
Follow the Leader: Shamelessly admitted on the links page: "Here's the Order of the Stick, the comic that inspired me to write Keychain of Creation. And by 'inspired,' I mean 'the same, but with Exalted.'"
For the Lulz: Nova attacks, kidnaps, and harasses members of the party, largely because she's bored.
Fourth Wall Mail Slot: As explained by the author, it sorta makes some sense, since the Fair Folk characters who do it know they're in a comic anyway.
Freudian Excuse: Marena has a lot of issues regarding her mother. After we find out what Aria's idea of "parenting" seems to be, it's suddenly a lot less surprising. Take a look, and pay close attention to Misho. You can actually watch his faith in humanity slowly dying.
All of them to an extent, but Ten especially. Watch as he shoots down the potential for at least one standard MacGuffin plot.
Nova is too. She seems to have read the Evil Overlord's list, despite not actually being an Evil Overlord. When Misho saves her life, she promptly stops fighting him, returns Secret, and states that it's just good sense to not attack someone who has helped you. Very, very smart. And keeps her likable.
The Fair Folk are actually aware they're in a comic strip, which makes them seem insane to everybody else.
Elegant Nova of Progression. Sure, she's a Mad Scientist, but it's clear from the point where we actually meet her that she's a charitable and kind person who just happens to be really stubborn about test subjects. The fact that she happily surrenders when Misho saves her from being badly injured helps too.
Nemen Yi is a staunch defender of Creation, but she seriously questions the party's qualifications to defend the Keys. There's probably more to it than that.
Heroic Bastard: Secret. As far as the character archetype goes, she had a pretty sweet deal (she was fortunate enough to have both parents in her life), but given that she lived in the CoralArchipelago...
Heroic BSOD: Misho in #220, when faced with giving Ben the key and saving countless innocent lives (while simultaneously dooming all of Creation), or keeping it and effectively condemning them to death at the hands of countless undead troops. This is an actual rule in Exalted — what you see is the Heart of Tears Limit Break, where a Compassionate Solar becomes literally catatonic with indecision and guilt over every decision he's made.
Misho fights with a keyblade. And is in denial about it.
First And Forsaken Lion seems to be going the keyblade route as well, as opposed to the soul-sucking BFS he wields in canon. Misho mentioned early on that the First And Forsaken Lion had forged the Key of Soulsteel. And when considering what the Keys are capable of, it's not surprising that he'd trade his old sword in for the Key of Soulsteel. It would be hilarious, though, if he only wants to escape his armor instead of taking over/destroying the world.
I Take Offense to That Last One: In an early strip, Secret calls Marena a "bossy overweight oversexed shapeshifting cow" and gets pushed down a long fall for it. The title of the comic is "I am not a cow!"
Jossed: The author has a neat way about handling this: He insists, constantly, that every single Epileptic Tree is completely true, as sincerely as possible. No matter what context, IM, forum, in actual discussion, he insists they are always correct, so that in the end, everyone, including him, is proven wrong. It's absolutely hilarious. Jukashi has gone so far as to create a Forced Meme out of this. "nooooo my scheme"
Kick the Dog: Nemen Yi launches an unprovoked attack on Secret just to get what she wants. Admittedly, she's apparently under a mandate to rescue the Orichalcum Key from Abyssals, but given Secret's history this is a bit of a stretch.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Apparently, everyone but a sorcerer-initiate sees stick figure characters. This "fact" is used to hang a lampshade on the Art Evolution in comic #319. Earlier, some characters lampshade it by commenting that they can't tell when somebody is wearing pants.
Look Behind You: Marena distracts a group of guards by shouting that the Kukla — a legendary Earth Dragon larger than a mountain range — is behind them. The ensuing conversation between the guards reveals they've fallen for this one before (you don't want to take chances with the Kukla). Of course, Marena was probably using a Charm on them. (One fan comic◊ showed the one time when they finally didn't fall for it. Guess what was sneaking up on them?)
Lost Technology: Subverted. Most remnants of the First Age are broken or malfunctioning. Anything still working is hard to maintain.
Loving a Shadow: Marena won't entertain the notion of getting serious with Misho until she's sure he's seeing her as she is now, not as she was in the First Age.
Magikarp Power: Implied with Secret. As a Deathknight, her power is potentially equal to Misho's or Karen's, but she has too much of a conscience and too little self-confidence to wield it. It remains to be seen if this changes or if successfully becoming a Solar will unlock her full power.
Magitek: The Nova arc features tons of it: Alchemical Exalted, magitek cybernetics, and more.
Meaningful Name: Resonance Ben (Resonance being a side effect of an Abyssal not following the path set for them by the Neverborn). Of course, most Exalted get names like that, but only with some of them is it obvious why they're named so.
Munchkin: Encouraged in the Exalted universe and exemplified by several characters.
Resonance Ben is a wonderful character with lots of depth and some truly amazing moments. However, anyone who attempts to create a character in an actual Exalted game who does anything like what Ben does with Resonance should be shot, as the whole point of Resonance is to penalize the Abyssal for defying the rules of their masters.
Misho took a lot of flaws to pay for his badass abilities. Atypically, these flaws cause him a great deal of trouble.
Secret appears to have optimized herself for Dodge charms. Because they solve everything.
Misho uses his divine power to create items from nothingness to make... a desk. A Glorious Solar Desk. Later, a hammer. A bit of Memetic Mutation there too. GLORIOUS SOLAR <OBJECT> is fairly common in the rulebooks. For fun, replace <object> with anything. Desk. Chair. Pen. Hammer. Pig. You get the idea.
Ten Winds using his anima flux as a cold shower for Marena.
Marena using (indeed, abusing) a shapeshifting knack to change clothes, complete with a naked transformation scene. In public.
Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom: But of course. The Conductor of the Cacophonic Steel Chorus, Fifth Man Born In Readiness, Elegant Nova of Progression... you get the idea. Secret's full name parodies the trend.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Exalted tend to have these sorts of names as a general rule. Specific mentions include the King of Uncloaked Steel, the First and Forsaken Lion, and Misho Thrice-Radiant. Secret's would be one, if she could say it all in one breath.
Misho: "When you find someone's name, it's often a good idea to find out why they were named so."
Ninja Prop: Nemen Yi breaks the panel dividers (gutters) and uses the pieces as throwing weapons.
No Fourth Wall: While the main characters have occasionally spoken of being in a comic, the Fae take this trope all the way. This complies with the source material, as it's actually a power of the Fae to do so according to their rulebook, Graceful Wicked Masques.
No Guy Wants to Be Chased: Misho, of all people, seems to have this attitude about Marena's advances. He refuses a relationship with her because he thinks she won't treat it seriously.
Overly Long Name: Poor Secret nearly passes out just from trying to say her full title, in a parody of the overly long and poetic titles that tend to get used by Abyssal Exalted. It's actually over seventy words.
Nova: You are a worthy adversary, Misho! But even you could not anticipate that I would invert the photon charge of the deflector array... AGAIN.
Misho:SOL DAMNIT THAT SHOULDN'T DO ANYTHING EVEN IF IT IS POSSIBLE!
Nova: Ha! You just don't think the same way I do!
Ridiculously Human Robot: Elegant Nova of Progression and her fellow Alchemical Exalted are all examples. To be fair, the Alchemicals have human souls, like their fellow Exalted, and are closer to being cyborgs than true robots due to their artificial flesh. At higher Essence levels, they're the foundation and central part of entire cities.
Further, the Alchemicals here are "houseruled," and seem much more machine-like than normal Alchemical Exalted (being broken to pieces without any lasting harm, for example)... although interestingly, once the 2nd Edition Alchemicals book came out, much of those "houseruled" effects became canon — and Nova herself became a canon character, if only through a name drop!
Rule of Three: Subverted and lampshaded. Three goblins attack the party. The first two are flipped into a tree, but Secret stabs the last to death, remarking "Oh, was I supposed to flip it into the tree? Sorry."
The author has an adult fanart gallery, separate from the main one. Granted, it only has one picture so far, but that's not bad for a Stick Figure Comic. There is written porn as well, and Jukashi himself has gotten in on the act.
Semantic Superpower: Per Word of God the five Keys, when used together, grant the wielder omnipotence as long as they can phrase the desired action as "unlocking." Want to kill an immortal? One might call that "locked" to life, so the Keys can help with that.
Serial Escalation: What incredibly strange things can a stick figure do? How strange can the weapons get? How cute and adorable can Secret be? Or Misho? How much can this comic outclass The Order of the Stick in fight scenes? And what new bizarre-yet-awesome character type combinationsnote Mexican mummy/sorcerer wielding soul-encrusted chainsaw katars, A blind Musical Assassin rockstar, A pheromone-emitting hippy android, a cyborg bandito/raptor transformer, a five-armed patchwork giant drummer, a shape-shifting cowboy martial artist... can Jukashi think up?
That Nova looks so much like Jenny XJ-9can't be coincidence.
Shrug of God: Someone notes in the forum that the word "monstrosity" was misspelled as "monstrocity" when Misho was fighting the Band. Another poster comments that Monstrocity would be a good name for a band... The creator's response: :D
Single-Stroke Battle: The final showdown between Ten Winds and Nemen Yi turned out to be one. As with Karen, Ten Winds demonstrated his superior skill by messing up his opponent's hair.
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Ben and Flame are at the bottom of The First And Forsaken Lion's chain of command: Ben's department is Morale, since he's a musician, and Flame's is Recruitment, since he summons the undead. Neither of these requires any actual combat skills, implying that they weren't recruited for their combat prowess, but rather for their abilities in those areas instead.
Which may give you an idea of just how powerful the guys at the top of the chain are (since Ben and Flame, two of their "weakest" members, are incredibly powerful). Especially the heads of "Equipment" and "Guerilla," who were sent off to go and do some serious ass-kicking to The First And Forsaken Lion's enemies. Remember, equipment includes weaponry... like giant essence cannons.
Which is a running gag in the Exalted Compendium Redux Forums, as shown here, as well as a running gag in the game itself. The section of the rulebook that doesn't present the White Veil Society also makes no assumptions about how it might be organized if it did exist, which it doesn't, and presents no Charms that describe the martial arts style that might suit their needs, if they existed. Which they don't, so don't worry about the ninjas that aren't right behind you.
Take a Third Option: The situation Secret has finally found herself in. Does she embrace her new existence as a Deathknight, and work towards the death of all Creation? Does she run from her responsibilities forever? Or does she seek redemption and attempt to become a Solar?
Talking Weapon: Unlike most soulsteel, Secret's shapeshifting sword/bow/belt Cluivnarihe can speak coherently, shows no sign whatsoever of suffering from having been soulforged, and is a bully who mocks Secret when nobody else is around.
Unstoppable Rage: Subverted with comic #220. An Abyssal is blackmailing Misho, hammering on every last one of his emotional stress points until he goes into Limit Break — but as it turns out, his Limit Break is Heart of Tears...
The Watson: Secret occupies this role frequently; as the least experienced Exalt present, her ignorance of the mechanics of the universe provides lots of opportunities for the other characters to be Mr. Exposition, mostly Misho.
Ironically it's Secret who calls Marena out on it.
Marena later calls Misho out when he uses Necromancy to summon Secret's father from the Underworld, as a trial she must overcome prior to learning sorcery. He doesn't seem to disagree. (Ironically, Summon Ghost has now been printed as a Sorcery spell, so he didn't even need Necromancy to do that.)