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The Gods Are Bastards is a Web Serial Novel by D. D. Webb, updating every Monday and Wednesday (and sometimes Friday). It is described as "a High Fantasy Western" by the author, although the High Fantasy tends to come through more consistently than the Western.

The story begins focused on a group of eight freshmen (a dryad, two paladins, a half-demon, a possessed human, a drow, a pixie, and a pirate princess) attending a school for adventurers. The scope expands rapidly from there, quickly introducing a number of secondary plots involving demons, religion, politics and an increasingly large cast of individuals and organizations vying over the fate of an empire.

A summary of the plot is essentially impossible without spoiling it, but recurring themes include the end of the Age of Adventures, social change, feminism, and the struggles of persecuted minorities (such as immigrants and homosexuals).

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The Gods Are Bastards provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Fairly common, since one of the major deities of the setting is a goddess of both warfare and feminism. Her paladin is one of the main characters, and naturally also female.
  • Aerith and Bob: Lampshaded at one point with a drow-human couple whose names actually are Avrith and Bob.
  • Affably Evil: Evil is a strong word, but even among those characters whose goals and methods are pretty reprehensible, many are extremely charismatic and likeable. Naturally, this makes them all the more dangerous.
  • Alpha Bitch: Have twice turned up out of the blue (each time trailing two henchgirls, as per formula) to harass one of the female main characters. This generally turns out to be ill-advised.
    • Later lampshaded: "Two is the optimal number of hench-wenches for the appearance-minded alpha bitch..."
  • Amazon Brigade: The Silver Legions, Church Militant of Avei, goddess of war, women and justice.
  • An Aesop: Frequent, although since many of the protagonists are still in school, this happens as much in-universe as out.
  • Anachronism Stew: Owing to Magitek, you have bullet-trains and sophisticated factories existing alongside groups that still use sword and shield, and the general Western aesthetic.
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  • Ancient Tomb: The freshmen stumble across one while on a field trip into the Golden Sea.
  • Anti-Magic: Mithril neutralises magic. This makes Zaruda's Cool Sword a Game-Breaker in some respects - and enables her to hold her own alongside her classmates.
    • Each of the Schools of Magic has one other it is neutralised by. To specify, Divine neutralises Fae, which neutralises Infernal, which neutralises Arcane, which neutralises Divine.
  • Anything That Moves: Juniper. Apparently a normal behavior for young dryads. Lampshaded by those lines:
    Zaruda: That, Juno my dear, is because you’ll fuck anything that moves.
    Juniper: That just isn’t true. Only sentient beings whom I don’t actively dislike. I have standards.
  • Arc Words: "A great doom is coming."
  • Ascended Meme: “Natchua, no.” (From the comments.)
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The current pantheon of gods are ascended mortals, and spend most of their time formless, existing wherever the concepts they're tied to exist.
    • The previous generation, the Elder Gods were also human.
    • The ascendance was done using futuristic technology both times, and the same technology provides 'magic' as the verse knows it.
  • Author Appeal: The author has repeatedly expressed their dislike for totally evil characters (or, worse, totally evil races) in fantasy fiction, which is why the Bastardverse doesn't have any.
  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: Gravestone Weaver, Longshot McGraw, Billie the Tinker, etc.
  • Ax-Crazy: The spirits that grant headhunters their power are utterly insane with rage and hatred, and need to be pacified with regular victims (ideally either challenging, deserving, or both).
    • Hethelax Demons when berserking, as a defense mechanism against their infernal magic.
  • Background Magic Field: Of the four main types of magic, three are maintained by divine beings:
    • Divine magic from the current Pantheon of gods
    • Infernal Magic from the Scyllith, Elder Goddess of beauty, light and cruelty
    • Faery magic being maintained by Naiya, the Elder Goddess of nature
    • Arcane magic comes from an unknown source. Later (Book 10) revealed to the readers as the sorta-corpse of the Elder Goddess Araneid.
  • Badass Normal: Of the main cast, Ruda is the only mundane human, albeit one with a Cool Sword and a royal upbringing.
  • The Barnum: Principia Locke, though she shows signs of getting better. To a much lesser extent, Antonio Darling, who will cheerfully lie to and ruthlessly manipulate people, but never ones he cares about and he is quite strict about owning the consequences of his actions and never seeing people as chess pieces.
  • Batman Gambit: Standard operating procedure for any Thieves' Guild veteran, particularly Bishop Antonio Darling.
    • Professor Tellwyrn has been known to engage in this, though it's not always clear how much of anything was planned, like the time she left the class of 1182 in Tiraas with instructions to find the test she planned for them and solve it.
  • Battle Butler: An entire guild of them, called the Service Society. Members are referred to simply as Butlers, and even powerful people avoid antagonizing them when possible.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Threatening any of her students is a very quick way to get on Arachne Tellwyrn's bad side.
    • Sexism and harm to women are surefire ways to piss off Avenists.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence:
    • The affair with the hellgate opening over the school most certainly counts.
    • Book 15 offers a bigger one in Ninkabi, 10 chapters worth with most of the "central" cast participating. Effectively the Fourth Hellwar, albeit abbreviated.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Tellwyrn gets several moments like this, but the students are starting to catch her up.
  • Big Eater: Juniper eats most of a bison, raw, early on. Elves also prefer to eat exceptionally large meals two or three times a year and are fine the rest of the time.
  • Big Good: Arachne Tellwyrn, the headmistress of the adventurers' school. More or less.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Multiple examples; see Eldritch Location, below.
  • Black Sheep: A significant portion of the main cast, see the number of demons and demonbloods. Ellial is the black sheep of the Pantheon as well.
  • Black Speech: The language of demons was constructed by Scyllith, goddess of cruelty. It shows.
    Colonel: “This demon, she has a name?” Toby: "It’s hard to say.”
    Colonel: “What, you didn’t ask?” Toby: “No, I mean it’s hard to say...”
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Subverted with dryads. They have trouble understanding human morality and initially appear to be following their own ethical system based on "natural" principles, but the characters slowly grow to realize that they're basically just powerful humanoids who were never taught that other people had feelings too.
  • Body Horror:
    • Juniper's hallucination in the Appairitorium is of a monster she could become, and it's deeply disturbing.
    • Infernal magic tends to inflict this on its users.
  • Born Unlucky: The author. The author's comments at least through book 11 tell an epic tale of vehicular, medical, technological, and other trials, all aggravated by poverty.
    (Chapter 11-17) D.D. Webb: Usually I’m awakened by my cats wanting breakfast. Not today, though. No, this morning, the frame of my bedside window somehow became detached, causing the glass pane to be toppled inward by a gust of wind, where it landed on me and shattered. That was my wake-up call today.
    How does that even happen?
  • Brainwashed: A background character is mentioned as having been taken into slavery by drow. When they eventually resurface, they are utterly devoted to their mistress.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Vesk does it at length at the very end of Book 14. The nearby pastry vendor thinks he's a street crazy....
  • Bullying a Dragon: Arachne does this. A lot. And is badass enough to get away with it.
  • Call to Adventure: The paladins had theirs when they were chosen.
    • Arachne showing up to take you in also counts as one, given the nature of the University
    • Book 14 opens with the God of Bards showing up to get the Paladins to go on one.
  • Character Development: Everyone gets some over time.
    • Trissiny is learning to be less judgemental, and more thoughtful.
    • Gabriel is learning self-acceptance, and to think before speaking.
    • Shaeine is slowly opening up more to the group.
    • Juniper is learning empathy and responsibility, and in a painful way.
    • Toby is learning to deal with conflict.
    • Fross is not just learning, but actually getting smarter as she gains magical power.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: One of the core group of eight, Fross, is a frost pixie who is new to human society and tends to come off as rather odd.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Dragons. See Our Dragons Are Different, below.
  • Cool Sword: Trissiny's blessed blade, Zaruda's mithril rapier and Gabe's black sword Ariel all qualify.
  • Corrupt Church: The Universal Church as it currently stands is an organization designed to rule the empire but without the mechanisms needed to do so as intended. This has resulted in Archpope Justinian being able to exert large amounts of influence throughout the Empire and infiltrate the cults but is generally prevented from any public action by those same groups. This has not prevented the Church from causing or exacerbating many problems throughout the story.
  • Crapsack World: It's heavily disguised, mostly by the main characters all being fairly privileged, but this is a setting in which the legions of Hell are waging war on heaven using the mortal plane as a battlefield, the primary mortal authority is a ruthlessly expansionist empire, and there exists a classification system for individuals capable of ending the world.
    • Amply demonstrated by one quote
    T’bouti Nijaund: Hellgates are something people understand. The more uncertain the world becomes, the more one wants to cling to the familiar.
    • However the world is very normal in everyday life for the masses, so despite the above the trope is Averted. The tone of the story is lighter than that, as seen when General Panissar refused to let three soldiers be silenced for national security. The empire is surprisingly benevolent and the rise of mass produced enchantments and factories is resulting in a sharp rise in living standards, with dragons and disasters no longer as threatening.
      • The author has said that the text is a rebellion against the grittier trend of fantasy nowadays.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Vadrieny (an archdemon) vs Gabe (a half-demon, and even his demon side wasn't that powerful).
    Teal: We hit him with the planet.
  • Creepy Cleanliness: The upper levels of the Crawl are disconcertingly absent of dust and cobwebs. This is because the Crawl is a Genius Loci like all dungeons in the verse.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much all of the main student cast. Even Trissiny eventually gets in on the act.
  • Death Seeker: Of all people Arachne Tellwyrn is this - at least in the bonus chapter detailing how she met Professor Yornhaldt. She snaps out of it when he gives her the idea to found the university.
  • Deity of Human Origin: The Pantheon were once mortals and got their current position by killing most of the previous generation of gods. It's later revealed that the Elder Gods were also once humans, from Earth. Whether there ever existed any god not of human origin remains an open question.
  • Demonic Possession: Played with. One of the main characters is possessed by a demon, but the demon is just as upset about it as she is and they're good friends by the beginning of the story. Similarly, some demons can interbreed with humans, and the resulting half-demons may look odd, but are no more malevolent than any other social pariah....
  • Deus ex Machina: Almost literally at one point, although the protagonists were only where they were on the gods' orders, so it wasn't completely out of left field.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Elilial calls it an Offering of Cunning, Antonio Darling makes use of it.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: the Gods like to hang out in taverns and bordellos it seems.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: After offering little but snark and stupidity for months, much of the party is surprised in Sarasio when Gabriel is the one with a workable plan for fixing the town's woes.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Played with, sent-up, defied and justified, in various ways.
    • The most obvious example is actually called The Crawl (see Eldritch Location below), and part of it has been deliberately shaped into a completely troperific videogame-esque example, complete with (completely lampshaded) Goddamn Bats and Dire Goddamn Bats.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Glimpsed briefly in the "space between spaces" in Book 7.
    ... an impression of eyes and tentacles belonging to world-sized creatures at unimaginable distances, seen far more clearly than what was right in front of them.
  • Eldritch Location: Several, all of which are also Bigger on the Inside and Genius Loci:
    • The Crawl, a dungeon in the Dungeons & Dragons sense which Arachne Tellwyrn uses for training students. It keeps itself clean and makes sure everyone plays by the rules. Has a pedagogic streak and a sense of the dramatic, which probably explains part of why it gets along with Arachne.
      Rowe: Here, the Crawl is the only god, and its rules are absolute.
    • The Golden Sea, an infinitely large plain of grass inhabited mostly by elves and centaurs. Adventurers strike out into it looking for lost cities or Ancient Tombs full of treasure. Navigating it is difficult since the geography has a tendency of rearranging itself when you're not looking.
    • The Heart Of The Wild, the jungle domain of the Elder Goddess of Nature. Like the Golden Sea, it has an infinite and constantly-shifting geography. Unlike the Golden Sea, the inhabitants (mostly fey) are even less friendly and often more powerful, so most people who go in don't come out.
    • The Tower of Salyrene: A series of tests customized to the questors. While it nominally tests magical ability, knowledge, and strength, some tests clearly are focused on character, and attitude toward problem-solving.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: Each type of magic is countered by another: Divine destroys Fae, which destroys Infernal, which destroys Arcane, which destroys Divine. (See diagram above.)
  • The Empire: The Tiraan Empire is mild version—an overwhelmingly powerful expansionist monarchy that assimilates new territories by force or the threat thereof... but also a pretty good place to live, and one where the government seems to genuinely care about its citizens.
  • Empire with a Dark Secret: The reason why Elilial left the Pantheon. Supposedly anyone who learns the secret will instantly be killed by the Pantheon gods... unless they have Elilial's technique for hiding their thoughts from the gods.
  • End of an Age: The end of the Age of Adventures, and the various characters' and organizations' reactions to it, is a running theme of the story and a driving force behind much of the plot.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Evidence suggests humans are the only sentient species paying attention to gender in matters of the heart/sexuality in this setting, and a good part of the cast aren't humans, so this trope applies.
  • The Fair Folk: The fey, creations of Naiya the Elder Goddess. There are several varieties, but they're generally highly magical and entirely unfamiliar with ordinary morality and social norms. Two of the eight original protagonists, Fross the pixie and Juniper the dryad, are specimens. See also Our Fairies Are Different, below.
  • Fantasy Americana: Understated, but with the Western references, and the (literally) endless prairie of the Golden Sea that are actually called "amber waves" in a book title, the influences are strong.
  • Fantastic Racism: While most nonhuman species are powerful enough to defend themselves against bullies, they do tend to get side-eyed within human communities. Half-demons and half-elves face significant prejudice, and lizardfolk seem to consist mostly of isolated communities.
  • Fish out of Water: Several of the freshmen suffer some degree of culture shock, but the story gets particular mileage out of Fross and Juniper and their different approaches to learning human behaviour.
    • Gabe, after being made a paladin of the God of Death and Acting.
  • Five Races: Averted. While the story does include versions of all the standard Epic Fantasy races (humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, lizardfolk, and so on), they've all been changed around enough that none of them really fit the standard categories.
  • Freudian Excuse: Trissiny at least assumed Gabriel had one, the truth was more complicated. The expectation is commented upon elsewhere.
  • Genius Loci: At least three of them; see Eldritch Location, above.
  • Genre Mashup: Epic Fantasy meets Western.
  • invokedGoddamn Bats: Turn up during the very videogame-y Descent, a series of challenges the freshmen go through as part of their training. The trope is named but never really played straight, since several of the protagonists have powers that render them irrelevant.
  • Götterdämmerung: In the backstory. The current gods usurped the old ones thousands of years ago.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Gabriel being a virgin is treated as a joke, and a reflection on his Butt-Monkey status. Then we find out that his first real girlfriend, whom he trusted without reserve, drugged him with an infernal poison and was intending to have sex with him while he was berserking. Suddenly that scene is a lot harder to laugh at...
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Arachne Tellwyrn. Adventurers in general are considered troublemakers with a naive longing for the past. The elven word describing Arachne in particular, is initially translated as "pot-stirrer". Then the speaker points out that the pot in question is a chamber-pot.
  • Holding Hands: Teal and Shaeine do this an awful lot after hooking up.
  • Humans Are Special: One of the major changes that the immortals are having to contend with is the rising power of humans. At one point, one character posits that humans' major advantage is their ability to pass down information and skills through the generations, so humanity as a whole gradually becomes more powerful until the balance eventually tips in their favor.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The standard dryad behavior after sex.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Trissiny (straight) toward Toby (gay).
    • She gets the other end a lot, too:
      "Only women ever seem to approach me, and I have never been even slightly attracted to my own sex.”
      Yasmeen stopped, her eyes widening in open surprise. “…really? But you’re the actual Hand of Avei! Didn’t you grow up in Viridill?”
      “Ooh, darling, yes,” Trissiny said, utterly deadpan. “Stereotype me. Harder, please.”
  • Info Dump: The school setting is ruthlessly exploited to explain geopolitics, magic and the nature of divinity to the reader.
  • Inn Between the Worlds: Since the Crawl connects to multiple dimensions, the Grim Visage qualifies as one.
  • Jerkass Gods: Hinted at by the title, although so far the gods seem to be mostly doing their best.
    • Some of them never wanted to be gods in the first place... and it shows.
  • Justified Trope, of all things: The Elder Gods were massive nerds drawing from a quite limited reference pools. This is not a good thing. As Vesk explains, they were very shallow and quite ignorant about the broader culture surrounding the works in question, and their tendency to reenact their most beloved works before brutally slaughtering everyone involved made them little more than all-powerful manchildren, ranging from ‘merely’ insane to straight up malevolent. Vesk, for whom little matters more than a good story, detests them for not bringing more stories with them - he wanted to read them all, and mourns their loss.
  • Large Ham: Professor Rafe.
    Rafe: BEHOLD!
  • Lecture as Exposition: Having part of the main cast be college students sure makes it easy.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: At least twenty-five plot-relevant, distinctly motivated characters as of Book 7, and easily twice as many less relevant ones who still have names and personalities.
  • Made of Iron: Well, wood, but it's established early on that Juniper has the durability and strength of a massive tree.
  • Magic Nuke: In the backstory, The Empire eventually deployed one of these against the orcish nation, reducing their capital city to a twisted pile of haunted ruins.
  • Magic from Technology: Although, even after this is known, it doesn't change anything.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Tellwyrn to her students.
    • Naiya, while generally neglectful towards her children, will still wreck every living thing for miles around if one is killed.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • Bishop Darling, technically. But he's mostly a good guy.
    • Archpope Justinian as well. Who seems to be angling for Big Bad status, but not quite yet.
    • Bishop Syrinx, explicitly noted as a sociopath.
  • invokedMary Sue: Averted, though not for lack trying. Word of God is that the original concept for Arachne Tellwyrn was "big fat Mary Sue", but Webb just couldn't get it to work.
  • Matriarchy: Tar'naris is an Original Matriarchy.
  • Mobile Maze: The Crawl likes to rearrange itself to keep things interesting.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Gravestone Weaver, from his powerset.
    Weaver: I campaigned to be called Glittergiggles Weaver, but for some reason they stuck me with Gravestone.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Trissiny's attempts to intervene between the racist city guards and the residents of Lor'naris only cause things to escalate.
  • Noodle Incident: Numerous characters comment on "that class with the vampire and the priest." We meet the vampire, and she provides one about "That time she got sent to hell, met a demon lord, and got sent home with a strongly-worded letter for Arachne Tellwyrn." The protagonist class is also accumulating such tales with respect to other characters.
  • Not-So-Final Confession: November (a strident Avenist from the University year above the protagonists), after being attacked by a very rare and dangerous demon, calls Trissiny to her bedside to tell her something vitally important. After she's done, she's informed that the campus healer is perfectly capable of fixing her up and she'll be fine. While the actual confession doesn't happen on-screen, circumstantial evidence strongly favors a Dying Confession Of Love.
  • Obfuscating Insanity/Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • Downplayed, but Zaruda still qualifies, especially in Volume 1. To specify, she goes out of her way to act as cliché as possible, diverting attention from the fact that she's actually the smartest of the group.
    • Professor Rafe has possibly Become The Mask in this regard, but it's very heavily implied that he started acting like an absolute madman to deal with the prejudice he gets as a half-elf.
  • One-Gender Race: Dryads are always female; dragons, slightly more unusually, are always male.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Partially averted. Captain Rovaud and Commander Ravoud have very similar names, which is commented upon when several characters get them mixed up.
    • Two taverns in distant cities are named The Fallen Arms (unintentional per the author, but kept as a plausible coincidence).
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They come in four colors, each one corresponding to a particular kind of magic and a particular philosophy. The colors are chosen by dragons at some point in their lives; newborns apparently start out white (that is, colorless). And newborn is correct - dragons are always male and reproduce by mating with humanoid females (using their humanoid alternate form).
  • Our Fairies Are Different:
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Malivette works the tropes just fine... and she also gets along really well with Rafe. She's also a graduate of Tellwyrn's university.
    "I consider myself as patriotic as the next accursed social pariah in a position of unmerited political power …"
  • Person of Mass Destruction: All over the place: archmages, dragons, dryads... The Empire even has an official designation for "person so powerful they should be treated as a walking natural disaster".
  • Physical God: The gods don't always have a body, but they can incarnate when they want to focus themselves in one place, whether to make an important announcement or kick serious ass.
  • Pirate Girl: Ruda is the princess of a pirate nation and is still comfortably able to fight alongside demigods and paladins.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Jeremiah "Thumper" Shook and his mentor, Alan Vandro, who take on Villain Protagonist roles for a little while. Aside from their generally criminal activity, they're overwhelmingly sleazy and sexist - Shook actually threatened to rape someone into submission if she didn't behave herself.
  • Really 700 Years Old: All of the elves, who tend to look like they're in their twenties. Some are thousands of years old. Explained in universe by way of their magical characteristics.
  • Red Mage: Elven "headhunters" can use any of the four kinds of magic at will, utterly wrecking the system of relative advantages and disadvantages and rendering them nigh-unstoppable. Fortunately they usually don't last very long, being destroyed by their source of power. Usually.
  • Retired Badass: A couple of the teachers at Unseen University (no, not that one). Arachne Tellwyrn, the headmistress, is the only living mortal to have killed a god.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Elilial, the Queen of Demons, was supposed to be locked in Hell, but is apparently walking around free by the beginning of the story. The Elder God Scyllith was trapped underground, and seems to still be there.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Professor Tellwyrn has a tendency of throwing her students into difficult situations of all stripes and just leaving them there while she goes off to do her own thing.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Khadizroth the Green is cursed and trapped in his humanoid state.
  • Shout Out: Lots and lots.
    • To Red vs. Blue:
      Finchley: You ever wonder why we're here?
    • One of the secondary group of adventurers is a wandslinging fifteen-year old called the Sarasio Kid.
    • The Gygax charm, which ranks threats on a twenty-point scale, is an obvious one to Dungeons & Dragons.
    • The phrase "mockingjay hunt" is used much the same way as we would use "snipe hunt".
    • The Drow word for cliche is "drizzt".
    • In Chapter 9-2, to A New Hope:
      Rafe: Step carefully, my children, for you shall never again see such a wretched hive of… Oh, what’s the expression I’m looking for…
      Gabe: Scum and villainy?
      Rafe: Arquin! You can’t just say that about a place, all these people can hear you! Honestly, boy, were you raised in a barn?
    • In chapter 11-8, someone asks for a password using the phrase “Speak, friend, and enter”.
    • The author insists that the name of "Unseen University" was unintentional; in any case, Pratchett didn't originate the idea.
    • In the anticlimax to Book 14, Vesk tosses out several at once: The X-Files, Shakespeare, the New Testament, The Empire Strikes Back... and A Practical Guide To Evil.
  • Talking Weapon: Gabe's sword, Ariel. Possibly more intelligent than he is. Definitely when he's in Ax-Crazy mode.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Check out the opening to Book 5 and see if you can guess where the characters will be spending the rest of the book.
    "I have to say I am glad to be back in Last Rock," Toby said, adjusting the collar of his coat. "Tiraas is miserable in the winter. This is practically a vacation spot."
    • Later in Book 13-33, the bards know the rules:
      “Yeah, but you were down here for years, both of you,” Fedora said dismissively. “That guy’s got hours, at most. What could he possibly do?”
      Half a dozen people scattered about the room simultaneously let out loud groans.
      “And those,” Sekandar helpfully informed the Inspector, “are the bardic studies majors.”
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Zaruda uses this a lot. Until Trissiny calls her on the inherent sexism.
  • Time Police: The Scions of Vemnesthis, who deal with those who tamper with Time. Anyone who tries to directly view the future (or deep past), travel through time, or change the past will get a warning. Those who defy the warning get drafted into the Scions themselves. (Their dispatcher is Arachne Tellwyrn, but even she doesn't get to keep knowledge of other times when off-the-job.)
  • Title Drop: The title of the book is also the very first line of the story. (Reversed: Word of God is that the author was stuck for a title, until they chose the first sentence of the story they'd started.)
  • Truce Zone: The Crawl makes violence physically impossible inside the Grim Visage. It's not clear why; possibly the Crawl just likes videogame tropes.
  • True Companions: Fross, Gabriel, Juniper, Shaeine, Teal, Toby, Trissiny and Zaruda slowly evolve into this.
  • Unfortunate Name: Horsebutt, a long-dead barbarian king who might be an Expy of Genghis Khan. Unsurprisingly, it turns out the name is a bastardization. That said, one protagonist shortly ends up fighting centaurs, and she quickly learns which end is more dangerous in melee.
  • Vague Age: An adult elf may be anywhere from eighteen to eight thousand. This is exploited by Tellwyrn to have alumni re-enroll to monitor the student body. The truly ancient ones tend to develop an air of absolute serenity, but this can be faked.
  • Villain Protagonist: For at least one book, Jeremiah "Thumper" Shook, a Thieves' Guild enforcer, and his mentor, Alan Vandro. Aside from being generally willing to steal and use force for their own benefit, they share an attitude to gender politics that is unpalatable to say the least - see Politically Incorrect Villain, above.
  • Wham Line: When the Archpope Justinian's "ultimate plan" is revealed.
  • White-and-Grey Morality: The author dislikes wholly evil antagonists, so this turns up a lot.
  • Wild Card: The Empire's main problem with adventurers is that they are more often than not this.

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