Of course they're here willingly.
"Oh, dont worry, my new little Sprout. His frail mind can’t handle all the wonderful things coming out of yours. He would be left to wallow in some madhouse, or to wander the streets. Really, this is so much kinder."
Updating three times a week on SmackJeeves
is a horror webcomic set in the New World of Darkness
universe with a distinctly Visual Novel
style. After their rescue from a madwoman’s hellish subterranean caverns, five humans have their eyes opened to the dark truth lurking under normal society. A "benefactor" takes them in, but he’s a cold-blooded killer with a deadly fixation on the new mages. In a world of magic, vampires, werewolves, ghosts and far creeper creatures, can he be trusted? Can anyone?
morphE is updated in Flash and features some interactive elements
such as point and click
pages and adventure game
inspired updates. The creators have a slew of Bonus Material
on the official Tumblr Page
which includes some backstory, animations and information that is not evident in the comic itself. The story originated as a tabletop game played between the four creators (a pair of married couples)
and is being rewritten for brevity and to create a better flow for the story.
Has a characters page here
Provides Examples Of:
- Aerith and Bob: Ignoring the code names we have Asia Ellis alongside Billy Thatcher. Even with the code names we have Rick and Flux.
- Affably Evil / Faux Affably Evil: The "benefactor" in question, Amical, is a pretty sweet and friendly individual, a lot like a big kid...and he happily guns down Sleepers who don't make the cut in his Awakening death matches, and deliberately attempts to manipulate his "seedlings" into Stockholm Syndrome.
- All Therapists Are Muggles: Camden Dawn. She works at a behavioral health clinic, is keen to provide Tyler's case history when he lies about being in care for a failed suicide attempt. Even without the fate spell, Tyler can't tell her anything.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: A comment once stated it was difficult to believe Billy could dictate a game of chess verbally because it would be impossible to keep track of the pieces or a dispute would break out. In reality grandmasters have been known to play multiple games while blindfolded (both Verbal Chess and Blindfold Chess are variations of the game) and the world record for most games played simultaneously through Verbal play is 32. Not only is that feat possible for Billy but it would be simple for him.
- Ambidextrous Sprite: Billy and Malloy are the only characters who routinely switch from left-facing to right. Curio and Tyler seem doomed to face their respective directions for the rest of their lives due to their T-Shirts.
- And I Must Scream: The subject of the second dream sequence.
- Another Dimension: Confirmed in Chapter 2 that morphE's setting contains The Aether, Arcadia, The Primal Wilds, Stygia and Pandemonium.
- Apologetic Attacker: Asia Ellis.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: "How can I picture something which doesn't exist?".
- Assumed Win: Tyler was guilty of this in his battle with Billy. It got him shot in the shoulder to prevent the fight being one-sided.
- Aura Vision: Various updates have "Mage Sight". So far it has been used for Mind Sight to show a character being mentally manipulated, Life Sight to see living beings, Prime Sight to see the magical aura exuding from people and enchanted objects and Spirit Sight to see spirits which have latched on to people.
- Bad Dreams: The seedlings suffer them at the end of their first night.
- Beat Panel: Curio "complimenting" Amical's training dummy design.
- Big Brother Is Watching: Amical makes it very clear that the Seedlings will not have privacy in the manor. Malloy is quick to remind Asia and Adrestia that he can read their minds and knows all about their loved ones.
- Big Fancy House: Amical's manor is quite well-appointed. It also seems to have a source of raw mana and is implied to contain a Demesne, in which case part of Amical's soul is stashed away somewhere to empower nearby magic.
- Bonus Material: Step on down to the Tumblr Page for some animation, canon art sketches and silly ask blogs. And Queer Laundry.
- Bottomless Magazines: A flintlock pistol can normally fire one at a time and requires a reload of bullet and powder. Amical's magical gun can shoot five bullets in under a second.
- But Thou Must: The interactive segments in the second dream and Investigation Mode.
- Character Blog: The About page links to Tumblr ask blogs run by some members of the cast.
- Clock Tower: The Acanthus watch tower.
- Code Name: The seedlings use them to hide their true names.
- Combat Medic: Adrestia is a life mage. And also the strongest Seedling.
- Conveniently Coherent Thoughts: Malloy plays this straight when reading Adrestia's mind in the first chapter, though it seems to be through experience. Asia's brief attempts even with Hizrim's help give us a barrage of unsorted images without context.
- The Comically Serious: Asia. Particularly in her one-on-one training with Amical.
- Crapsack World: A World of Darkness staple.
- Cute Is Evil: Amical's first live opponent for training is a cute puppy...who is actually a manifested pity spirit. It initially attempts to trick the Seedlings into feeding it when Billy literally decides to Kick the Son of a Bitch, but quickly turns vicious when they realize the thing is simply being smart in its Essence gathering.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Curio, as with most Moros. He's a sweet, somewhat shy kid who Awoke his Casting a Shadow powers out of remorse when he believed he accidentally killed Adrestia, after she told him to do so to save himself.
- Deadly Game
- Death Activated Superpower: Adrestia does not awaken as a mage until she has had her throat slit open by Curio.
- Death Glare: Amical pulls one out at the end of chapter 1. It's the first instance of a non-standard sprite, too.
- Die or Fly: Amical's approach to mage awakening.
- Dies Wide Open: So three CGs so far have depicted people dead with cold empty eyes wide open.
- Driving Question: Why is Amical training mages and how did the seedlings end up in crates with no memory of how they got there.
- Dysfunction Junction: And how.
- Easily Forgiven: Amical in general. In chapter 1 Tyler growls "I'm going to murder you for that!" after being shot in the shoulder. By the end of chapter 3 he is Amical's biggest fan among the seedlings.
- Emotion Eater: Spirits. As explained in one of Amical's Magic Lectures.
- Evil Laugh: The reason to turn your speakers on (or off, depending on how late at night you're reading it).
- Explosive Leash: The collars that the seedlings wear as of the end of Chapter 1.
- Exposition Diagram: Pretty Mr. Amical's Magic Lecture
- Faking the Dead: Curio's first spell-Amical's pushing causes him to have a panic attack and instinctively trigger the Death ability Suppress Own Life, putting him in a state of deathlike suspended animation until he calms down a little.
- Fingore: In an animated flashback, someone is shown with their fingers chopped off.
- The victim was revealed in Chapter 4 to have been Billy.
- Flashback Nightmare: The previously mentioned animated flashback.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: One of the 8 captives was exceptionally cold about the Involuntary Battle to the Death situation and went in to kill Asia right away, acknowledging that it was the best way to survive. It did not save him.
- Funny Background Event: The Amical paintings. Most seem normal enough but hidden in CG scenes are things like Amical as a mermaid or escaping the SkiFree yeti. Other examples are being pointed out in investigation mode.
- Friendly Enemy: Amical. Not too shocking, given his name.
- Functional Magic
- Gilded Cage: Amical's manor.
- Gorn: The prologue and dream sequence are pretty blood-soaked.
- Keeping Secrets Sucks: The Chapter 3 phone calls where the seedlings get to speak to their loved ones but cannot reveal any details of their kidnapping. Asia ends up crying because of how desperate she is to tell Ken the truth.
- Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: The man in glasses during the first chapter.
- Hearing Voices: Asia has apparently noticed something about the vandalized portraits the others haven't. And now it's talking to her.
- Hidden Eyes: Independent is displayed this way in the prologue and second dream sequence.
- Hollywood Healing: Billy's finger scars and Adrestia's slit throat do not show up after their healing. One would assume the same is true of Tyler's bullet wound, too.
- How Do I Shot Web?: How morphE starts out. 5 seedlings all trying to learn to use their newly awoken abilities.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Billy's reaction to Asia being upset that he cheated in the second magic lesson. The phone calls are more important than Asia's honest streak and if she wanted to win fairly then she should have not made it necessary for Billy to cheat in the first place.
- I Know Your True Name: The very reason the seedling group are forced to give themselves code names. Amical gleefully reveals his knowledge of their names in this comic.
- Indecisive Medium: It's a webcomic trying its hardest to be a visual novel with gameplay elements.
- Involuntary Battle to the Death
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Amical.
- Improvised Weapon: Adrestia uses a shattered floor tile to cut her own neck open.
- Jedi Mind Trick: Malloy uses this on Adrestia early on in Chapter 2.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Clues and context are rationed off very slowly but with enough frequency to keep the topics interesting. Amical's purpose and the seedlings individual histories are often revisited topics.
- Ladies and Germs: "Ladies, Gentlemen and everything adorably in-between".
- Lame Pun Reaction: Tyler is left upset and defeated when trying to joke about Adrestia's "bear hands".
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: All of the seedlings remember their ordinary lives. Perhaps a blue flash.... and then they were in crates on the back of a truck being dropped off at Amical's manor.
- Lecture As Exposition: Pretty Mr. Amical's Magic Lecture. Used once per chapter to colorfully explain the particulars of this take on the World of Darkness universe to the characters and audience.
- Limited Wardrobe: As with most visual novel games. Amical gets an early change of outfit. But he's rich and can afford more than one shirt.
- Like You Would Really Do It: Amical shoots Thatcher in the head...next comic, he regains control of his temper and uses Shifting Sands to undo it.
- Magic A Is Magic A: As with the laws of Mage: The Awakening.
- The Magocracy: As per Mage: The Awakening.
- Mana Potion: Amical's tass tea according to his lecture on day 3.
- Masquerade: As per Mage: The Awakening. Amical claims that a mundane human who witnesses magic would Go Mad from the Revelation. Though he says this after killing them.
- Medium Blending: A webcomic that "plays" like a visual novel. Complete with cut-scenes
- Mentor Ship: Amical has made passes at every character who is of age. So far Asia is the only one who didn't seem phased by this.
- Mercy Kill: Amical shoots the man with glasses after Asia psychically attacks his mind. He said that his mortal brain could not handle all the magic that was being thrust upon him. Although those familiar with World of Darkness canon would know he could have had Malloy wipe his mind of the event and send him on his way.
- Mind Over Manners: Asia Ellis.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Chess is serious business in the morphE world. REALLY serious.
- Named Weapon: Amical's gun, Fivesies.
- No Name Given: The 3 captives who died in the first chapter. Word of God says the woman was named Diana, the shirtless man was Devin and the man with the glasses was Desmond.
- Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: How Billy regards cheating on the second magic lesson. Everything is nice and fair as long as Amical doesn't find out that he pushed Asia's dummy down.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Tyler vs Billy in Chapter 1. Tyler towards Billy before Amical shot him and then Billy had no problems beating on Tyler until they each awakened.
- Ontological Mystery: Though there are some vague answers to their predicament, the surviving Seedlings still have no idea why they ended up at Amical's manor and have no way of escaping.
- It's been hinted that he saved them from something even worse. It involves out-of-control spirits.
- Partial Transformation: Adrestia uses the arm of a grizzly bear to attack Amical's training mannequin.
- Pixel Hunt: Part of "Investigation Mode". Pressing the tab button can reveal the locations of each item for those who don't want to go through the frustration.
- Rage Breaking Point: After everything Billy goes through in the intro chapter, it is having access to a newspaper denied to him that causes him to finally snap and unload a furious rant about what an awful human being Amical is.
- Ransacked Room: Chapter 4 is begun by someone who thinks of himself an ex-mage breaking into Amical's mansion, destroying several of his wards, and then spraypainting him out of his own portraits. He's most upset by that last one.
- R-Rated Opening: The prologue chapter and the dream sequence referencing the events from it are the most horrific parts of the story to date.
- Sacrificial Lamb: The three captives who did not awaken in Chapter 1.
- Scheherezade Gambit: Billy pulls this in the first chapter when Amical recognizes him from Pawnography.
- Shadow Discretion Shot: During the first dream sequence shadows of Independent slicing a person's throat play out on Curio's terrified face.
- Ship Tease: AdrestiaxAsia was teased in the official Asia Blog.
- Show Within a Show: Billy Thatcher's Pawnography.
- Slasher Smile: Independent in the prologue and dream sequence.
- Slave Collar: The Seedlings wear them as of the end of Chapter 1. When Billy argues that death collars aren't exactly good gifts for friends Amical simply responds that they must run in different circles.
- Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Amical's manor in contrast to the caves featured in the prologue and dream sequences.
- Speed Stripes: Appear when Adrestia attacks with a bear arm.
- Strip Buffer: In order to maintain a project with 2 writers and 2 artists, the comic is usually 6 updates (2 weeks) ahead of schedule at any given time in case a CG, animation, sound effect or sprite is required during the compiling process.
- Super-Deformed: Sometimes the portraits will switch to chibi versions of the characters. Amical waving off a comment, Asia looking exasperated and Billy looking disgusted are examples we've seen as of Chapter 4.
- Take a Third Option: Adrestia is given the choice to either fight and kill a child or be killed along with him in the pit. She decides, instead, to let the kid slit her throat so that she will die and he will live.
- Taught by Experience: Despite Amical schooling the seedlings, this is how they are learning magic. A frustrated Asia calls Amical out on this in day 2, complaining that his lessons are just pointing a gun at them and expecting them to do things because he says so.
- The Teaser: The comic starts with two badly beaten pre-galvanization escapees trying to flee, being hunted down by a shadow-obscured knife-wielding woman and her partner, who looks uncannily like Tyler. After the title card, the focus shifts to the protagonists proper, and no mention of the two escapees is made.
- Terse Talker: Ken Ellis.
- Those Two Guys: Rick and Malloy are, exemplified in this strip.
- Thought-Controlled Power: There is no formal way of casting magic in the series. The seedlings simply focus on making their spells work using their individual focus and understanding of magic. No words or gestures required, though they can be used if the caster feels like it.
- Trauma Button: Any mentions to the place that the seedlings were acquired from. Curio in particular is traumatized by it. Billy also had a brutal flashback to his Fingore event when Amical threatened to send him back.
- Urban Fantasy
- Voice Grunting: Intentionally averted.
- The creators have stated that the addition of voice grunting would raise file sizes and sounded bad in testing phase. One of the team says the only thing he regrets from that decision is not having an "Understood" sound clip for Asia.
- Webcomic Time: Averages at 100 updates per in-universe day.
- Why Did It Have To Be Death Magic?: Amical seems to be nervous around the Death Arcana and related things, to the point where he attempts to downplay it to Curio (who is a Moros, also known as a Necromancer).
- He pulls a gun on Curio in chapter 3 for using Death magic to rot a training dummy.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Independent.
- You Wake Up In A Crate: The first scene after the prologue is a group of 8 people waking up in the back of a moving truck, submerged in darkness and unable to move. No one knows where they are, why they are there or where they are being taken to.