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Webcomic / Castoff

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After getting kidnapped and dragged halfway across the world, a scaredy-cat named Vector finds himself a long, long way from home. Now, with the help of a short-tempered bounty hunter, a happy-go-lucky cartographer, and many more unlikely friends, he has to try to make it home in one piece.

Castoff is a fantasy adventure webcomic by Star Prichard that began in 2015 and currently updates on Mondays and Fridays.

Castoff contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: In chapter 11, Arianna fully expects Knotwoods Academy to be full of people and thriving. It isn't. It actually looks like a horror movie setting, grey with dust and cobwebs, with things toppled, just as if the aforementioned people had ran away in panic...
  • Arc Symbol: The Castoff spell circle, first seen in the prologue, is a very subtle recurring symbol, but it reappears often enough to hint at its importance.
  • Art Shift: Vector's flashback to his childhood in chapter 11 is stylised as a child's drawing, with crayon scribbles and simplified shapes.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Subverted trope in that Alveria is invading elf territory for the magi ore and winning. The queen claims out loud (to Zera, who's on her side) elves are conceited and begging for a Screw You, Elves!
    The queen: Elves act so high and mighty, like they're at some sort of an advantage because their magic is innate. And yet they crumple under the slightest amount of pressure.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The book Arianna got at mrs. Jacobs shop contains the tracking spell both she and Zera use extensively. As it later turns out, it used to belong to Sage and it contains the titular spell. Needless to say, this is a very important book.
  • Color-Coded Characters: The main cast. Vector is Yellow, Arianna is Red, Frankie is Orange, Marina is Blue, and Rori is Green. Sage is Purple.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: Arianna was actually after something, probably information, hidden in the castle and pretended to be bringing a dangerous criminal to turn in because she had no other way of getting there. It didn't work, partly because of things unforeseen - like Vector's teleporting power.
  • Fantastic Racism: The rude cart driver casually mentions "those damn elves" having been driven out of the forest to make room for a magi ore mine. Some time later, the queen of Alveria treats elvish diplomats with pure, unadulterated contempt, all the while robbing their resources and making their way of life impossible - and, judging by the abandoned city Vector's group passed through, this has been going on for a while.
  • The Glomp: After finally finding the boys she's been frantically looking for since the beginning of chapter 10, Arianna glomps them both. There are fireworks.
    The Rant: I have been waiting to draw this hug for 5 goddamn years.
  • Glowing Eyes: All the members of the group have them when using their powers. This is most visible for Vector (who has a bit of a Power Incontinence), and Arianna, the Action Girl Trigger-Happy magical powerhouse.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The queen of Alveria managed to become a Hate Sink on the page she was first seen, sitting on her throne with a long-suffering expression while the elvish ambassador airs his (valid) grievances. Then she tells him to shut up, because she can have the elves slaughtered. And then she casually discusses this magnificent feat of Screw You, Elves! - around an elf. Who is her subordinate. And rubs it in that he's "allied himself with humanity" instead of with "the losing side".
  • Healing Magic Is the Hardest: Actually, it's non-existent in this universe (but see below...). Arianna has a cleaning spell she can use for wounds, but then they have to be bandaged.
    • It's so hard that Sage Miller, a mage who can separate a complex organic mixture with a spell (the salted tea, which he separates into water, salt and tea leaves, then just puts the salt away and mixes the other two back) is unable to make healing magic work. He tries and he tries, and it's just not happening.
  • Heist Episode: "The Grand Heist," a Patreon bonus comic.
  • Impairment Shot: Vector here. Might be caused by being on the verge of a panic attack before entering a city. Also, whenever he comes to after teleportation and the subsequent blackout, which is more often than he'd like.
  • In a Single Bound: Observe the elf jump and shatter Arianna's shield.
    • Arianna herself knows a spell that lets her leap really high and far, achieving Not Quite Flight
  • Inescapable Net: One of Rori's traps. Arianna and Frankie find it inescapable in an amusing version of Worf Effect.
  • Instant Runes: Examples of this are seen everywhere, from the prologue to Arianna's sigil, which the wiki says is an indicator of a creative mage. The tracking spells visualise as rings of runes with a conic pointer above the caster's palm, sort of like a magical compass.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Arianna sure sounds like she thinks that, but...
    Arianna: Look - magic is evolving. People come up with new spells every day, but magic still has limits. Stuff like healing, teleportation, mind-reading, bringing people back from the dead, all that stuff... there's a lot of shit that even the best mages haven't figured out yet. And I stumble into two random people with no magic training who can do "impossible" shit in under a week. What the hell is this about?
    Rori: By the magic of the goddess, uh... I wanna talk to Marina! Communication spell, go! (nothing happens, except the boys snickering)
  • Magic Knight: Zera and at least some of his people, as evidenced by the magical armour.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Rough, tough Arianna to both of the boys - the perpetually scared Vector and happy-go-lucky Frankie. Rori acts more boyish than both of them, too.
  • Mood Whiplash: During the flashback in chapter 12, Sage and Nico are having tea in the former's kitchen, and Nico temporarily forgets his cup while talking about his dead fiance and how he misses her. The host listens politely, rises his cup to drink... and chokes. Because he's accidentally put salt in the tea instead of sugar.
  • Non-Action Guy: As said above, both Vector and Frankie, especially next to Action Girl Arianna. Sage lives up to his name as a very scientifically-minded and really not so actiony guy.
  • Non-Residential Residence: Sage is introduced squatting in the abandoned builiding of Knotwoods Academy.
  • Our Elves Are Different: They're biologically humans, but long time exposure to natural magic sources (for instance, living over a vein of magi ore) suffuses their blood with magic and turnes them into a Mage Species with Pointy Ears and bright eye colors. This is, to some extent, hereditary, but elvish ambassadors did protest that exploitation of magi ore deposits is threatening their way of life.
  • Painting the Medium: Blurry, "transparent" Speech Bubbles whenever the viewpoint character can't hear what is being said clearly, for whatever reason.
    • When Frankie has him repeat phrases in his language, Vector's font is noticeably wobbly, compared to the native speaker.
  • Pointy Ears: Elves. And Vector, who may or may not be an elf. According to an expert, Vector looks elvish and the only thing that really distinguishes elves from humans is high concentration of magic in their blood, which in turn causes the ears to turn pointy. So it may be an academic distinction for Vector.
  • Power Crystal: Called magi gems. All mages in the setting wear these (as necklaces, far as we've seen). They act as either the source, or an enhancer for magical powers, also a Bag of Holding, a communication device, and collapsible armour (in Zera's case). The gem's colour matches the mage's aura, but (even though Frankie asks) we don't yet know whether the crystal changes for the mage or one has to find one that's already right for them. Arianna says the gem binds to a mage, though, and that it loses its colour when the mage dies. Ah, and the size seems directly proportional to how much raw power the mage has. Arianna's gem is, notably, a cabochon, while all the other ones we see even the other gem Arianna owns, strongly implied to be a memento of her brother are faceted - according to Arianna, only guards have access to faceted gems (in the flashback, Sage Miller complains to his friend that the good quality cabochon gem he had been saving for is still not strong enough for the spells he wants to cast). Magi gems are also a valuable, expensive resource that only naturally occurs in elvish lands and it's the prolonged exposure to them (more precisely, to magi ore the gems are made of) causes the elves to be innately magical.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The fan-dubbed "boat moms", Arianna and Marina:
  • Science Fantasy: There's magic and elves, but also Ridiculously Human Robots.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Magical researchers exist. Sage is one. He has spells to write notes in several notebooks at once as he interrogates Vector on how, precisely, his powers work. He'd also like to experiment, but Arianna puts her foot down.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Vector doesn't want to team up with his kidnapper, but he also doesn't want to die alone in the woods. Also, Arianna is rather suspicious of Frankie, even though he's been nothing but nice to her. And she's very distrustful of Marina, although she does have (not so Entertainingly Wrong) reasons for that.
  • Thinking Out Loud: "Purple", later named Sage monologues this way for three pages when introduced, summing up his life situation, trying to work out what to do and deducing a lot of things about Vector.
    The rant: The weirdo continues to ramble
  • Tracking Spell: These work the better, the more information you have on the person you're tracking - if you know them really well, you can't miss them. But! They don't work on the dead, which is how Zera knows Arianna is not who she claims to be. Unless she is The Revenant... or it's a Ship Of Theseus problem and Arianna simply changed so much during the fifteen years Zera hasn't seen her that she's literally a different person than who he used to know.
    • Courtesy of Arianna delivering exposition we now know the tracking spells in general lock onto the trackee's aura, which is unique to a person. Lack of aura would make one untrackable, and she thinks this is the case with Frankie but is puzzled as to why Vector would have none.
  • Travel Montage: Chapter 11, page 39, with a map, laughing, crossing bridges and seeing sights.
  • Trick Bomb: Rori makes both smoke bombs and flashbangs.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: Our heroes arrive in Whitecliff only to find these waiting for them already.
  • Wizarding School: Knotwoods Academy is one. Or was. It got abandoned two semesters after Arianna left it.
  • Wrong-Name Outburst: While (heatedly) explaining to Liam why he can't go on the assignment, Zera accidentally calls him "Luca". When pressed, he drops the subject and lets Liam go.