Tales of the Questor is a webcomic by one Ralph Hayes (RH) Junior. It tells the tale of Quentyn, a young anthropomorphic raccoon (or "Rac Cona Daimh" or "Racconan" but who are we kidding?) who spends his days with adventure books and daydreams. When the traditional ritual where young kits choose their career for life approaches, young Quentyn shocks everyone and becomes the local laughing stock as he declares his desire to become a Questor - a type of noble hero-for-hire whose like hasn't been around for ages, and who are practically nothing but adventure book fluff. But, it turns out there are legal requirements to have one when someone offers. So begins Quentyn's own adventure - he's now an official Questor and it's up to him to do what a Questor must, even if it means having to face great dangers and things he's never had to encounter during his young, sheltered life — and practical exile as he's tasked with a gigantic quest that requires him to head into the lands of humans.TotQ borders between a humoristic adventure comic and a more dramatic story about Quentyn's maturing and the problems he faces due to still being a young boy, with stronger emphasis on the serious side as it has progressed. The comic is also notable for its writer's tendency to convey his religious and political views through it, though these traits have decreased over time and transferred into other mediums. At its best, the comic works its themes into an imaginative fantasy allegory, much like C. S. Lewis' Narnia novels, and it constructs a deep world that helps alleviate these problems.Pretty well on the Idealistic side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.Has a Spin-Off comic: Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger.
Completely and soul-touchingly inverted in Brother Linnaeus' arc, when the Gragum chief asks Quentyn if he is God...then asks why God seems to have abandoned the Gragum. Quentyn's "letter delivery" for them is especially touching.
Later on, invoked twice by Quentyn during his Badass Boasts, as he refers the Gragum Shaman's claim in both of them.
Animated Armor: Pelinor's master's armor was this. When he died in it, the squire claimed it was haunted by his ghost. What actually happened is still unclear, but something is in there.
Anti-Magic: There are small cheap rods that soak up magic like a sponge but burn out quickly, rat-wights that eat magic and use it to duplicate, and dragons are completely immune.
Also, granite is lux-proof, so granite stonehenges are used as containment fields for artifact tests and similarly violent magical tasks.
Author Appeal: RH Junior really likes his anthropomorphic raccoons. Though it has to be said not to the point of fetish. In a certain D&D game RH was playing, his character, starting out as a Gnome Rogue, eventually got polymorphed into an anthropomorphic raccoon. From that point on, things that happened in the D&D campaign made it into the comic and vice versa (the Elf Shot pistol started out as a Magic Missile crossbow in the D&D campaign). Which leads us to:
Author Avatar: Quentyn is not quite a direct avatar of RH, but after the above mentioned changes in his D&D character, Quentyn became more like the character, who in turn was more like the 'real' RH than Quentyn originally was.
Author Filibuster: RH Junior's completely unrelated rant comics in-between the early run of the comic.
No longer in effect once the site was moved to a new location.
Background Magic Field: Lux. It's emitted by all living things, but in a twist, it can also be mechanically generated (the Luxfont, located in the central village, is very clearly the magical equivalent of a hydroelectric plant).
Badass Normal: The farmer's son. He not only enters and escapes Tir Na Nogh in a nearly-impossible yet completely successful rescue mission without a moment's hesitation, but he takes on an Unseleighe Sidhe armed with nothing but pies and lives to tell about it. This trope does not do his deeds justice.
Quentyn as well. He's for all intents and purposes only an "amateur" lux user, his most common use of magic is from magic items (most of which are half-broken and only work when and how they want). On top of that, he's a three-foot tall adolescent raccoon-person. And yet his periodically-repeated (and ever-growing) Badass Boast is still entirely true.
Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: Elder Gilder. In private, he says that Quentyn is the only one besides himself who takes the role of Questor seriously, and acknowledges that he's a rather good one. He just thinks that the existence of the position is in itself dangerous.
As some crooked political schemers later proved, he was right.
And the very next day, Quentyn proved himself so worthy of the title that Gilder holds pretty much the grandest festival the village has ever seen in Quentyn's honor.
Barefoot Cartoon Animals: Some Racconans and other non-human races don't use shoes at all, but many do much of the time. It varies from individual to individual. Quentyn uses shoes most of the time, especially in more recent parts of the comic.
Belief Makes You Stupid: One of the theories off why humans cannot accept 'Lux energies' and kept calling it magic (which they think is evil)
Or more specifically, belief in the Universal Church's tenets, after all both the author and the hero are rather devout "protestants".
Berserk Button: Understandably, considering his size and All of the Other Reindeer status, you do not mess with children around Quentyn. You especially do not trap a 10-something scared little girl in a cage - and then hold that cage underwater.
Also, whether you're the leader of a gang of thieves or the ruler of a duchy, do not look down your nose at him. He's fully aware of just how much of a badass he is, and he's not afraid to inform you of the fact in spectacular fashion. Even if he is going to hyperventilate and/or puke from the stress as soon as you're out of sight/earshot.
Big Bad: While we only hear about this creature from a story, and it's existence is only the theory of a mad scientist, the Patronum Monstrum, a creature believed to be the origin of all of the evil monsters in the world, creating monsters for the sole pleasure of inflicting pain on all other beings, would certainly qualify, if it exists.
Blessed with Suck: The young Duke's realization upon seeing that his castle is literally flooded with treasure.
We are going to be up to our eyelids in gold-crazed trouble.
Bodyguard Crush: Nessie to Quentyn after he saved her from three Gragum cultists.
Bothering by the Book: Quentyn, of all people, pulls this on hostile politicians: A covenant clause means a contract will be passed someone's successor—in this case, Quentyn of Freeman Downs, who is considered the successor of Quentyn of Ridgedale. The clause must, by Racconan law, specify a number of generations—but if it doesn't, limitation protocols restricts it to one, which means it won't apply to Quentyn of Freeman Down's successor, something that the Expansionist Party overlooked. Quentyn, armed with this knowledge, goes out to fulfill the contract or die trying.
Cheap Gold Coins: Averted. The seven villages are poor in metals, to the point that it's becoming a major political issue. Also, racconan money consists of beads and rings, rather than coins, with the only coins in the setting being human coins found in old treasure troves. This leads to a gold coin being more money than most racconans see in a lifetime.
Chekhov's Gunman: Linneaus the Priest, who might be a lost boy in another story's one hope.
Cold Iron: Apparently that's a mistranslation. It's magnetic iron you want.note Two easily-confused characters in the old scrolls, meaning respectively "house of the north wind" (cold) and "house of the north star" (north, where a magnetic compass points)
Colossus Climb: With a dragon. One twice as big as the one Quentyn was prepared to face.
Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: used in-story when Quentyn's "proof" that the human coins were fake turned out to be a research failure on his part, but it fooled the bad guy (who didn't know any better) anyway.
And to an insanely greater extent, Quentyn's father. The fact that he effortlessly combines Crowning Moments of Awesome and Funnyrepeatedly throughout the comic cements this trope as an understatement for him.
Corrupt Church: The Universal Church is strongly hinted to be this, if not an outright Religion of Evil. The arc after the dragon hunt, where Quentyn's party is receiving sanctuary with a monastic community, seems to hint at this as well. The monks avoid the group as much as possible and generally act awkwardly suspicious despite their generosity and kindness. Although it's likely they are just yet more superstitious humans regarding the presence of a Racoonan and a 'haunted' armour (which may or may not be haunted afterall) as bad omens.
Crush Blush: Quentyn, while flubbing an apology for what he did while drunk.
Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Church of the Sojourner fits Christianity with a stag strapped on the side, while the Universal Church aims more for pointing out some of the more misguided and superstitious results religion can lead to, without being actually evil.
They were a lot worse in the back-story.
It was recently revealed that they once suffered terribly from several religions, not just Hayes' thinly-disguised fantasy version of the early Catholic Church.
An odd comparison as in the middle ages, white stags were considered ominous creatures and several saint stories from the time involve them. Its thematically appropriate.
Doing in the Wizard : After over a hundred comics of treating Lux as just the Racconans' technical term for their medieval-era world's Force Magic version of Functional Magic, complete with constant uses of terms like "spells," "magic," and "wizard," the fundamentalist Christian author devoted a text-heavy side arc to explaining that the force that looked like magic, acted like magic, sparkled like magic, was treated like magic, and frequently called magic wasn't really magic. Another side arc, much later in the comic's run, went further and showed the tragicconsequences of Racconans referring to their magic-like powers as magic, implying that they weren't even going to use magic-related terminology anymore.
Duke Fenwyck: The Racconans of folklore are a bartering people. It is simply their way to postpone any binding decision 'til a night's sleep and a good breakfast. I assure you, he knew every word he was going to say tomorrow before he even left the room. [Later, in their room] Quentyn: I have no idea what to say to him tomorrow! I mean, what on earth do you charge for slaying a dragon?
And in Grymalkin:
Duke Grymalkin: Well, any such scholarly querying will have to wait — this morning he took his men "to see where the dragon attacked." No doubt he is using some arcane Racconan art to divine the nature of the beast he pursues... [cut to Quentyn, holding a book and a quill] Quentyn: Okay ... so what did it look like?
Drunken Master: Between them Quentyn, Kestrel, and Fen created Wildcard, a weapon whose intricacies stumped the best minds around, out of a enchanting-practice sword while completely drunk.
The Junior Questors are attempting to distract a suspected cultist... by knocking on his door and trying to sell cookies to him. The suspect points out all the problems with this (they're kids selling cookies in the single most dangerous part of town and that it's very strange that they would try selling cookies at this time of night). They respond that they managed to get him to answer the door, so it must be working to some degree. The suspect acquiesces, and asks if they have macaroons.
Dungeon Punk: The Seven Villages, especially Sanctuary City. Not so much the rest of the world due to the Universal Church banning magic.
Though technically luxcraft is a science, it just looks like magic.
Eldritch Abomination: While not as immune to being punched out as your average world-ending horror, the rat-king is an absurdly powerful and remarkably intelligent being with only one goal: to feed. Within the comic it's demonstrated as wanting and able to destroy and consume anything and everything with lux. Word of God says that includes pretty much anything alive.
Actually, the shadow rats produced by the rat-king are ephemeral and sustain their existence by consuming Lux. The rat-king itself is a flesh and blood creature that needs actual food to survive... and sends out the shadow-rats as drones to fetch food back to itself.
Also subverted when Quentyn fights a "Chooley", a swamp kraken that isn't nearly as tough as it looks.
EMP: Quentyn once built a magical version (involving a keg of salt and copper tubing left under the Luxfont for a few days) in order to neutralize the Royals' and Redcaps' magical weaponry and the magical suppressors surrounding Wildcard.
Exact Words: An important point in the Wild Hunt arc. Black Tom is trapped and cannot warn the prince or free himself thanks to careful pre-planning on the prince's part. The Selieghe Absinthe also denies seeing Quentyn's track - while he hides in a pond not two feet away. Best used hereand here
This is also the reason why Latin is used when communicating with the Fae, especially when it involves a boon: Latin, being a dead language, never changes. This means that any wish made in Latin can never be prone to Loophole Abuse due to language changes over time. Thus, a boon made in Latin is permanent, while one made in any other language is only good for a few centuries at best, and that's provided there's not a loophole in it due to slang terms or semantics.
Failure Is the Only Option: Inverted. Quentyn's quest is to bring back a bunch of lost artifacts to fulfill an old contract, otherwise the land his hometown sits on will be repossessed. He has little hope of bringing back all the artifacts before he dies, but if he dies trying, the debt ends with him, and his ultimate goal is fulfilled.
Fan Vid: The comics' first major story arc is powerfully summarized in an awesome fan video that is, unfortunately, no longer available.
Fantastic Racism: Due to their history, many Racoonans and Humans have very low opinions of each other's species. The human bigots are convinced that the Racoonan are members of the Unseleigh court and/or followers of demons while many Racoonans, especially those sympathetic of the Expansionist Party, regard humans as little more than dangerous animals so stealing their land and risking war with them is of no moral significance to them.
Fantasy Gun Control: Partially subverted, in that we see a Racconan guard captain use a shotgun in an early story arc, but aside from Quentyn's lux-shooting MagitekAutomatic Crossbow, and a quick bit with a homeowner firing up through his roof at Quentyn(mistaken for a thief), we never see another firearm. Somewhat justified, since the Racconans have few metal resources and no trade ties.
Also justified because of their inherent physical limitations, as explained here. The long and short of it is that they're still at the flintlock stage of development, so until they invent cased ammunition, any gun big enough to actually hurt something bigger than they are (which is just about anything) will send any Racconan without Stout Strengthflying backwards from recoil. Most of the fuzzballs aren't even big or strong enough to carry a BFG the size of a human rifle.
And also, they can fire lightning from their hands and don't really need guns in normal situations. It's like they come with a built-in gun. "There's no such thing as an unarmed Racconan."
Fictional Political Party: Antillia has a more relaxed approach to politics than the American two-party system; parties form around political goals and dissolve after those goals are met, instead of pursuing goals and garnering support over generations - the Rac Cona Daimh hate the very idea of generational power gathering in such a manner. Exposition; all seven Hidden Elf Villages are currently in a downturn; though the were built in a fertile and wealthy area, they've been cooped up in it for over a century, and are starting to feel the crunch in recycling metals and such. This has led to the rise of two particularly powerful parties; the Open Traders, who want to begin carefully trading Luxtech with nearby kingdoms for more minerals, and the Expansionists, who just want to steal land from nearby kingdoms.
Filler: Used occasionally to take the edge off the periodic Schedule Slip. Particularly frustrating when the climax of the Dragon storyline is intercut with a human scholar's travel-log into The Seven Villages, three or four pages at a time per page of the main storyline.
And the possibility of "an emergency shortcut through Tir Na Nog" implies that that could happen at any time.
Foregone Conclusion: Narration is always first person by Quentyn, looking back on the events of the story. You don't know how long after it is, and what condition he's in at that point, but you know he lives at least long enough to record the story in his journal.
Servant girl: I... Can only imagine what is running through your mind, Your Grace...
Duke of Fenwyck: At the moment? That time you told me there was a monster under my bed when I was ten.
Friend to All Children: There all along, but especially prevalent in Quentyn's attitude towards Marsha; he's completely aware that she's too young to be responsible for her actions, and is very sweet towards her even as she pulls his whiskers and twists his tail.
From Bad to Worse: The entire dragon arc has been a big Break the Haughty arc for an overly-confident Quentyn. It starts with the duke's hired swords abandoning them in the middle of the night. Then Sam left too. Then Pelinor refuses to follow him into the dragon's lair. Then it turns out they've tracked down the wrong dragon—this one is bigger. Oh, butSam and Pelinor come back! And they kill the dragon! But Ember was maimed in the process, and they have to put her down. And then it turns out there were two dragons, and when a dragon smells a dead dragon, it goes into a berserker rage. The younger one starts burning the countryside with no one able to stop it. And then, to top it all off, the duke's personal priest comes back, admonishes him for working with "witch-rats," and all but announces the start of a holy crusade to bring the region back under the church's control—especially the neighboring duchy.
Gone Horribly Wrong/Gone Horribly Right: Hard to tell which, but he succeeded in killing one dragon. The problem is that there were two, and the other one goes berserk at finding the corpse of the first.
Heroic Sacrifice: Quentyn believes this to be the only option after inadvertently releasing (and, if he doesn't succeed, feeding and reenergizing) the Rat King. Nothing at this venture is going to save him, and if it gets loose the entirety of Antillia will be next on its menu, so he has to make sure it dies with him.
Hoist by His Own Petard: the fey prince, after he calls the Wild Hunt on Quentyn, who is protected by two separate ancient boons (One on the Racconans in general, one bestowed by the white stag), and ends up being forced to give Quentyn three wishes, and he ends up losing all his wealth of debts owed to him and, ironically, being forever barred from hunting the mortal plane.
Honest John's Dealership: Merchant Max. You mustn't deal him with while you're drunk, but his goods are reasonably decent quality and his advice to Quentyn of how to talk turkey in the Human Lands is on the money.
Honor Before Reason: At times, but not when he takes on the quest to retrieve the artifacts. If he takes the quest, he may never see home again. If he doesn't, he won't have a home to go back to.
Impressive Pyrotechnics: Quentyn's malfunctioning Elf Shot pistol - which fires off its entire payload in one giant burst, although it is later fixed.
Also, the distress flare he uses to swat off a dragon attacking his luftship. The folks below literally ooo and ahh at the pretty lights in the sky.
Instant Messenger Pigeon: Averted bigtime. Quentyn sends a message via sparrow to his parents, but seconds after he sends it, it gets eaten by a hawk. The message does eventually arrive... via the White Stag... which talks.
Averted again when a bird refuses to go out into cold weather.
Jackie Robinson Story: Subverted with Kestral in that the Engineering faculty head and male students were tired of having to encourage getting more females into the demanding Comprehensive course, only to have practically all the females drop out. Once Kestral proves she's seriously going to see her education through, they begin to accept her.
Karmic Jackpot: The Fae Lord sets a hunt for Quentyn, who a) won, b) just happens to be of a protected race AND c) is personally blessed by a being honored by the Fae, making the challenge a huge no-no twice over. He ends up getting triple the normal punishment: three boons for Quentyn to choose.
Kid Hero: Quentyn's a youngster when he becomes a Questor. This is used against the Archivist's Guild later on.
Kill It with Fire: A simple Lux application by our hero can turn a simple candle flame into an impressive shortranged flamethrower attack.
Knight Errant: Quentyn is one and viewed as such by outsiders. Double's as bilingual bonus as in certain parts of France, Questor was in fact exactly what you would call certain types of knights or Chancellors of a court, particularly in Brittany.
Mage Killer: The rat-wights eat lux, which in racoonan society is extremely dangerous. Then there are dragons, who were clearly built to fight lux users. They're immune to all magic, but they are able to sense it and really, really hate it.
Mood Whiplash: First Quentyn and his friends suffer defeat, bereavement and injury. Then they realize their failure has had wider consequences than they suspected, and they have to go on the run because they're afraid the victims will blame them. Elsewhere, events are unfolding that seem to prove their fears entirely justified. And then without warning the scene shifts to... this strip.
Oh Crap: Done a number of times, but most prominently by the Princeling when he finds out that, the moment he called the Wild Hunt on the "hairy little mortal", whose race and mystical cowlick made him taboo for such twice over, he completely and irrefutably screwed himself.
It can't be... I waited decades...I made sure you were all long gone...WHY ARE YOU HERE???
Shapeshifter Baggage: Specifically averted with bogeymen. No matter what form they take, they retain their original (minuscule) strength and mass, to the point that a bogey taking on a really big form essentially becomes a cloud of blue gas.
Quentyn in particular; Despite extensive studies he's a "black ribbon" Lux user - just one step above no power at all. He's clever enough to scrape through school through rote memorization - but not brilliant enough to be a scholar or engineer. He's strong, fast, tough and well trained - but short even for a racconan his age. Put another way: he knows lots of subtle low-power spells, he's great at MacGyvering both tech and magic, and he's a Combat Pragmatist. In short, he's a pretty darn good Questor.
The Racconnans are also this way to human Lux users: while a human may have enough power to level a forest, it's like "a Neanderthal with a club verses you with a crossbow."
We Need a Distraction: Stumble on the mad scientist's lair, with his experimental animals just when you need a distraction.
With This Herring: Averted. When preparing for The Big Quest, Quentyn gets all the equipment he needs, and more. He tends to prepare for his minor quests, albeit from his own saved money, and had significant physical and scientific training.
World of No Grandparents: The average Racoonan lifespan is 250 years, yet it has been nearly a hundred years since the last Questor went beyond the mistwall, yet we see nobody in the story who knew him personally, nor any of his family members. Possibly justified in that the red plague killed alot of the older Racoonans. There is some inconsistency though in that the current Elders of Freeman downs were 'no more then kits' when the plague hit, which means the Eldest of them has to be at least under 100 years old yet looks ancient, so it is possible the racoonans were just lying to the human scholar when he asked how long they lived.
Word of God, they do live 250 years. The Elders of Freeman Downs are, in Racconan years, middle aged, but due to their rank cultivate white hair and beards. The High Eldest is the oldest Racconan in all of Antillia, is twice as old as any of the Elders of Freeman Downs, and one of the few survivors of the plague.