The story starts out with a group of adventurers; Andil, an elven fighter who is competent enough to be incompetent; Xavier, a human who is (probably?) a ranger; Laldera, a human sorceress, and Lana, a human rogue. These are The Heroes.
Of course, there's a reason the comic is called anti-HEROES. Within the first few strips, Lana gets herself killed in a trap Andil shoved her into (though he probably didn't realize it); in typical D&D fashion, her allies loot her corpse and leave her behind. One strip later, she becomes much more competent when a mysterious necromancer in a fully concealing cloak resurrects her as a vampire. Originally shocked and upset, Lana ends up following him anyway, thus beginning the title team of anti-heroes. Eventually joining her and the necromancer are an incompetent illusionist ghost named Kaalinor, his equally incompetent ghost buddy Frank, and a tiefling ranger named Keriss.
Oh, and before we forget to mention, it proudly proclaims to be a fancomic for The Order of the Stick.
In the Author Comments of Strip 219, the author finally confessed that he couldn't continue to do the comic anymore and narrowed down two options for his fans to vote for: 1: that he simply releases all his notes, future characters, plot points and secrets (à la Chainmail Bikini), or 2: that he finds another artist to carry on with the comic. The fanbase overwhelmingly voted for Option 2.
And from Strip 220 onwards, Team Dypen (consisting of Giant in the Playround members Dyluth and leakingpen) has officially taken over. General consensus among the fanbase is that so far, they're doing a great job. Dyluth handles creating all of the art, and the primary scriptwriting is handled by leakingpen, whose real name is Alexander Hollins. Other writing of his can be found at www.dreamfantastic.com.
Sadly, it stopped updating as of May 2015, and was officially declared dead in 2020.
anti-HEROES provides examples of the following tropes:
- Action Girl:
- Lana is a vampire rogue that multiclassed to mage. She can definitely take care of herself in a fight.
- Keriss is a tiefling fighter introduced by outmanuerving Aldran's proto group.
- All Genes Are Codominant: Black wings and white wings leads to grey wings.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Keriss' guild is overtaken by the Ivory Veil.
- Anti-Hero: Naturally, hence the name.
- Aldran doesn't give a shit about anyone else's problems because he's too focused on revenge against an evil demi-god.
- Lana gladly feasts on innocent people (turning them into vampires) and also has plans of revenge but she's otherwise a Nice Girl.
- Keriss, the tiefling is more heroic than either of them.
- Anti-Villain: Eldhin is probably aware of what Arderas has done and is capable of. However, he's only doing it because Arderas is threatening his mother.
- Beyond the Impossible:
- When Aldran says an archfiend and a celestial produced children, Keriss calls foul on this ("It's against the rules!") but since Aldran himself is one of those children and possesses grey wings it's hard to refute him.
- Undead are supposed to be immune to psionic power but Quentas can still reduce Kaal to a quivering mass saying 'ow' over and over again. He claims it's because he's lived long enough to find a workaround.
- Buxom Beauty Standard: Not noticeable because of the art style, but Lana's boobs get larger when she becomes a vampire. The author's notes attribute this to a vampire's +4 bonus to charisma.
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: The evil beast in the darkness with red eyes it's actually an old gnome invoking the effect.
- Catch a Falling Star: Not so much "catch" as casting feather fall.
- Celestial Paragons and Archangels: Aldran's and Eldhin's mother and father are this and Demon Lords and Archdevils.
- Centipede's Dilemma: Kaalinor can ride in a cart as long as he's not thinking too much about it. But since he's a ghost, once he starts questioning it... the moving cart goes right through him.
- The Chosen One: Lana is needed to make some prophecy come true.
- The Chooser of the One: Aldran using the vampire scroll on Lana designated her as the one in the prophecy.
- Colour-Coded Timestop: The "Time Stop" spell uses negative colors.
- Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Aldran does this several times because it's easier than a straight up fight. He does it so often his enemies come to expect it.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Kaal, sort of. He's still hopelessly stupid, but he's surprisingly competent and knowledgeable when he's put into a position where his illusionist training comes in handy.
- Dark Is Not Evil: For people who traditionally fit the villain mold (Black Cloak, vampire, ghost, fiend) the main characters are awfully nice individuals. They're certainly nicer then the Ivory Veil.
- The Ditz: Kaal is simple minded, easily distracted and has small memory banks.
- Dope Slap
- Dumbass Has a Point: Kaal is usually the butt of these jokes because he's a dumbass and his party members are surprised whenever he says something intelligent.
- Expy: Aldran is what you'd get if Nale was the twin raised by the good parent; an egotistic sociopath who fights for duty and friendship. He is incredibly annoying due to his Genre Savvy and the way he constantly yaps his plans but never explains why he does anything.
- Evil Twin: Aldran and Eldhin are twins with opposing color schemes and both are morally ambiguous. Have fun figuring out which one it is.
- The Faceless
- Aldran Krylorn because the Black Cloak hides it.
- Quentas wears a mask.
- Face Palm: Aplenty due to Kaal's stupidity.
- Filler: Team Dypen is also doing a filler arc where Laris teams up with the Heroes.
- First-Episode Resurrection: Lana is killed in the first comic, but Aldran brings her back to life as a vampire.
- French Maid Outfit: A bugbear in a maid outfit. Zarah lampshades how bizarre this is in the author comments.
- Fun with Acronyms: Incredible, Daring, Invincible Overseers of Time? and Stuff.
- Ghostly Glide: Quentas the Psion is always floating above the ground and gliding around rather than walking. He probably has a level in the Elocator Prestige Class.
- Girlish Pigtails: Zurie sports pigtails of the "immaturity" variety.
- Good Wings, Evil Wings: Played with. Aldran and Eldhin have gray wings, which are halfway between good and evil wings. They were the offspring of a fiend and an angel and are morally ambiguous themselves.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: The two goblin guards sure are, but then again they were apparently chosen on purpose.
- I Call It "Vera": Keriss calls her blades "Free" and "Sample".
- Idiot Ball: Played for comedy, usually with Kaal but other characters have their moments. While chained to a wall, Laris is trying to pull the anchor spikes out of the crumbling rock. One comes out easily, the other takes a lot longer. Moments later he's using the spikes that held the chains to pick the locks of his shackles. Another character asks why he simply didn't do that with the second shackle after he got one hand free. Laris just walks away in embarrassment.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder:Turrick: I'm a diviner, not an accountant.
- Insane Troll Logic: "Duck Duck Wolf" has it in abundance. One example is how a style of music can indicate a werewolf. It's possibly justified because of how scared those people are.
- It Only Works Once: If cured of being a Vampire, one can No-Sell any re-infection attempts. It's specifically compared to the common cold.
- I Will Show You X!: Keriss to a con, er, lizard.Keriss: Well, I also happen to have a free sample. (draws her weapons) This is Free, and this is Sample. Want some?
- Levitating Lotus Position: Turrick appears like this in Keriss' drug-induced trip.
- Light Is Not Good: Justified; the Ivory Veil are attempting to free Arderas, the very definitely evil demi-god responsible for the disappearance (if not death) of Eldhin and Aldran's father.
- Literal Metaphor: In "Ineffective Roadblock", Kaalinor proudly states, "If you're trying to get inside this tower, you'll have to go through me first!" Courageous of him, true, but since he's a ghost and his opponent a lich, Finx has absolutely no trouble just walking through Kaal's incorporeal body.
- Literal Soapbox Speech: When Finx's minion is about to go up against Kaal, he gives a dramatic speech about his reasons for fighting. Kaal summons a soapbox for him to stand on as he talks.
- Love Across Battlelines: Aldran's parents are an archfiend and a celestial who met and fell in love during a war.
- Mirror Reveal: When Aldran resurrects Lana with a scroll of Lifeblood, he tells her she should fix her hair and conjures a mirror. Since Lifeblood scrolls turn the revivee into a vampire, she casts no reflection.
- Mirror Routine: Kaal, when he runs into the person he's disguised as. He screws it up when he congratulates himself for mimicking the person so long.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Kaal can sense a cat fight occurring in a neaby area. He shows us this in "You Didn't Think it Was Natural, Did You?"
- Ninja Maid: The bugbear maid has rogue levels.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Lana is interested in multi-classing.Vampire kung fu rogue-wizard has awesome written all over it.
- "Not So Different" Remark: Finx tries doing this to make a Breaking Speech to Aldran; it doesn't work.Finx: Vengeance seems to be all that you know, we're a lot more similar than you think.
Aldran: Oh don't start with that, I'm well aware we share common traits. But there's one fundamental difference between you and me.
Finx: Oh yeah? And what's that?
Aldran: 'I'm WINNING!
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: They have a dwarven cleric and the unoriginality of this is lampshaded several times.
- Physical God: Arderas (demigod, please).
- Power Perversion Potential: The pair of pervert ghosts discuss who's hotter, the sexy vampire or the naughty tiefling. Frank mentions how a girl with a tail can do kinky stuff, before excusing himself when Keriss, said tailed tiefling, comes closer. Then she confirms to Kaal that yes, Frank is right about the whole tail thing.
- The Protagonist: Aldran is the main character of the story because it follows his quest to kill an evil demi-god and everyone else in the party is attached to him. However, he says that Andil is The Hero of this story and side characters need a hero for the story world that they live in to exist.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: A somewhat heroic vampire, a Black Cloak, his tsundere girlfriend, and a stupid ghost.
- Red Shirt: In this case, bowmen have no luck.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Arderas was trapped in a pocket dimension by Aldran's father.
- Zurie's character design is clearly reminiscent of Cirucci Sanderwicci. This is not a coincidence.
- Hey look, a cowardly hippie with a sandwich.
- Guess what spell I prepared this morning?
- "You are using Bonneti's Defense against me, ah?"
- Banjo of The Order of the Stick is apparently a legitimate god there.
- Spot the Imposter: Kaal runs into this problem during. "Alter Egos" where two Lanas arrive to either side. He solves the problem by using his magic to turn himself into a third Lana.
- Square Race, Round Class: Bugbear rogue with maid as a prestige class. Lana points out how weird this this.
- Team Dad: The man in the cloak named Aldran is in charge of keeping the group together. He's technically Lana's new father since he "sired" her.
- Tempting Fate: Lampshaded.Lana: We can see the tower from here, it's not like something totally unexpected is going to suddenly jump out and stop us from getting there.
Aldran: Let's get out of here!
Lana: Okay, we must have been lucky that time.
Aldran: Go ahead. Tempt fate some more why, don't ya?
Lana: At least it couldn't possibly get any wor—
Aldran: SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!
- Tsundere: Keris is Harsh Type (tsun-tsun) that regularly gives Aldran a hard time but stays loyal to him and is occasionally affectionate.Aldran: When your're not yelling at me you're praising me.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Lana was not sired by a vampire but by a special kind of scroll. Also, all vampires can turn back into what they used to be, or at there used to be a way for them to do so before evil vampires destroyed it. If a vampire used that method, they'd No-Sell any attempts of re-infection.
- Villain Protagonist: Played with. Aldran is a sadist who likes to kill people for the evulz, but he's dead set on saving the world from the demigod who killed his father. The rest of his team are also fairly unstable in their own ways but show good morality when it matters.
- Winged Humanoid: Both Eldhin and Aldran are humanoids with grey wings. It's in their parentage.
- "Yes"/"No" Answer Interpretation: "He Makes Himself Clear"Lana: And what exactly makes you so important to know about about this prophecy, huh?
Turrick: I wrote it.
Lana: .... Oh. So, considering you're such a great guy and all, you wouldn't happene to be nice enough to explain everything to to me, would you?
(Turrick blows her balloon with a spell)
Lana: Aaah!! I'll take that as a "no."