In fact, the story begins with a knight named Gort discovering that when making a Deal with the Devil, usually you aren't going to get away with a double-cross. Not one to take death lying down, he rapidly returns from Hell. Gathering up his True Companions (the ones he hasn't killed yet), he embarks on his quest for invincibility. Too bad several members of his group have their own motivations. Not to mention the Evil Twin (which would be good in this case). Add in Gort's old rival returning from Heaven and you begin to get an idea of the plot.
The second major arc is about the war against "The Worm Lord", who starts as a disturbing rumor before becoming a tangible enemy.
The artist, Kate Ashwin, has since started another webcomic, Widdershins.
A backup of the comic can be found here
This webcomic contains examples of:
- Affably Evil: The whole cast has their moments, but notably Garganon - the polite, respectful, cultured, tea-loving Ancient Red Dragon.
- Arc Words: "The Worm Lord is Rising"
- Asmodeus: Like in D&D, Asmodeus is the godlike Lord of the Nine Hells, ruling over the lesser Archdevils by threat of force. He appears in person in the final chapter to pass judgement on a conflict between two Archdevils that the main characters have been drawn into.
- Babies Ever After: Mink and Gort have an adorable, tomboyish, blonde, blue-eyed, hellfire-spewing dragon daughter.
- Badass Longcoat: Komiyan. Especially in this scene.
- Body Double: A less-than-friendly version, Komiyan in the latest chapter is
hinted to bea priestess of Baal under a magical disguise, while the real Komi is held prisoner in the ruins of his hometown. "He" even tells this as his story of what's happened to him in the past few weeks alongside the others, but Mink, Jill, and Casper think he's just making it up (and Gort, predictably, doesn't care).
- Actually, "he" only tells the others that he pretty much just went to Ilnarsis and came back, making Casper complain that there was no adventure. The part actually narrated by Komi is just a standard narration that isn't part of what the fake Komi tells the others at that point.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: At one point, Casper is suspended over a vat of molten glass and is being lowered into that vat by a chain around his wrists. Not only does the villian put Casper in this ridiculous death trap, he actually leaves him there without posting so much as a mook to make sure the chains did their job. (This could be Casper embellishing a bit.)
- Book Ends: A character is resurrected to serve a demon lord.
- The Cameo: Several webcomic artists.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Jill mainly, a few moments with some of the others.
- Crapsack World: As the name might imply, Darken is a grim and unhappy place, where the balance between good and evil swung decidedly evilwards well before the start of the story. At the beginning, there is a holdout Good-aligned city, but what with the protagonists being pretty villainous, you can hardly expect it to remain. For all that, the story does not linger on the unpleasantness; society seems to carry on even when evil is commonplace.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Baal!Tyr one-shots Gort. This is after Gort became powerful enough to single-handedly slay a red dragon.
- Deadpan Snarker: Casper, Jill, Lenore, Lyam, and even Komi.
- Death Course: More like a dungeon crawl. Gort cheats on the maze though.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Aside from the paladins and their allies most people in Darken don't seem to mind or avoid the Villain Protagonists in any way. Most noticeable in Falloakes, where a Wizardess scans Komi, Michaelus, Casper, and Gort for magic before a race, and the evil magic radiating off Gort is nearly enough to blind her; his only consequence is being barred from participating in the race.
- Devil's Job Offer: The main character, Gort, dies on the first page, killed because he cut a deal with Mephistopheles to serve him in exchange for a mortal victory, and then he needed to die so Mephistopheles can put his mark on him before being sent back.
- Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: After defeating Baal, Gort and Komi turn against Meph and as a direct consequence become ruler of the seventh hell and his disciple respectively.
- Dragon Ancestry: Mink and her brothers are Demihumans with the blue dragon Silvador for a mother. It gives them patches of blue scales, Cape Wings, lightning breath, and, for the youngest brother, an often-mocked case of Fantastic Racism against mere humans. Mink has a daughter by Gort in the epilogue, adding some archdevil blood to the mix.
- Doomed Moral Victor: Basically anyone who is not evil. In particular, Michaelus and Violet. Violet repents after her slide into evil and dies with dignity; Michaelus fights Gort to the end, trying even to use his own death to stir the conscience of the others. Sadly for Michaelus, none of others has a moral conscience.
- Dressing as the Enemy: Gort, disguised as the Captain of the Guard (his Good Twin).
- Dungeon Bypass: As mentioned before, most of the crew are smart enough just to climb over the walls in a moving maze puzzle, and in the case of Mink, fly over and give directions.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The surviving main characters all do very well for themselves.
- Epic Flail: Mink - in a rare but truly Epic Fail moment. "Uhm... you can use swords, right?"
- Eye Scream: Casper throws Blackshard into a priest's face to save Komi from being executed (for his murder of another priest).
- Fantastic Racism: Michaelus gets a lot of flak for being a lycanthrope, despite werebears being Always Lawful Good. From a freaking celestial judge, no less!
- Faux Affably Evil: Baal at least when inhabiting Tyr's body. He's so bloody hard to dislike.
- First-Episode Resurrection: Gort.
- Healing Factor: The Regalia grants this to Komi instead of Hellfire. Having near-immunity to wounds does wonders for Komi's self-confidence.
- Heel–Face Turn: No, not the villain protagonist... Which means that they are turning against him. It predictably ends badly.
- Hellfire: Gort's weapon of choice. He uses it against Garganon, a dragon, who is immune to normal fire.Garganon: You burned me!?
- Human Sacrifice: One hundred and one drow elves — the last being the priest himself, killed by Komiyan — are sacrificed to Mephistopheles to save their city from a rampaging worm. His response? Enter Gort.
- Immune to Fire: Red dragons are creatures of elemental flame and therefore can't be harmed by fire. This leaves one shocked when Gort burns him with Hellfire.
- Irony: In a party composed primarily of poster children for evil and treachery, it's the token good teammate who sells them out.
- Kill the Host Body: The Archdevil Baal possesses Gort's brother to enact his endgame. When his plan is foiled, he tries to force Gort to kill his host, both for the pain it would cause Gort and to dispatch himself back to Hell to continue his schemes. Defied when Gort and his allies exorcise Baal and trap him in a gem instead, inflicting a much worse fate on him and saving the brother's life.
- Loveable Rogue: Despite being evil, both Komi and Casper seem to fall into this. Interestingly, Jill does not, though she is still Affably Evil.
- Mind Control: Zathras's specialty seems to be enchantment spells. He dominated a construct for crying out loud.Zathras: Now, Zathras show you why he is greatest diplomat.
- Morph Weapon: Blackshard has become a sword, an axe, a mace, a bone saw, a whip, and a huge falchion.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Oh so much so. Casper could be the walking poster boy for this.
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: Everyone with Gort is a fan of this one, particularly answering the Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? question with Why Shoot Him When I Can Just Incinerate Him Instead. Even Komi ends up learning this lesson.
- Our Elves Are Different: Drow in Darken are Devil-worshipers with no apparent division between the genders, rather than matriarchial female-chauvinist Spider-worshipers. The first chapter even has a male priest making sacrifices. Also, surface elves are all but extinct.
- Painting the Medium: Certain characters get special speech bubbles:
- Dragons in their true form speak in a regal, archaic-looking script.
- The Blind Judge spoke in a formal-looking Roman font.
- Baal, in his slug form, speaks in a sloppy childish script.
- Blackshard's text is jagged and rough looking. Undead Leon had equally rough text, but was less angular and more scrawled.
- Also, text encased <in triangle brackets> signified speaking another language than English/Common, usually Drow Elvish.
- Paper Fan of Doom: Jill has a one, though it inflicts bloody murder rather than amusing injuries: It's a tessen.
- The Plan: Maybe, we'll see how it turns out...
- Pragmatic Villainy: Probably the main reason the group holds together, before they really become True Companions. Gort may be a Large Ham who's a bit Book Dumb, but he nevertheless gets results and now has the backing of a major lord of Hell. Despite how he acts, he's not Stupid Evil, and for a villain he's also a fairly Benevolent (if callous) Boss to his followers and minions.
- Pretty in Mink: Jill wears a short fur cape for an arc.
- Squishy Wizard: Zathras is introduced being harassed by wild dogs and has to be saved by Komi. He makes a point of staying far, far out of melee while with the party - going so far as to spend the entire Metal Hydra fight up on a ledge, well out of attack range, casting spells.
- Sssssnake Talk: Unusually subverted with Jade and the other Yuan-Ti. However, when Casper starts having nightmares about her she DOES elongate her Ssssss'essssss... possibly for creep factor and possibly as a hint that It Was All Just A Dream.
- Start of Darkness: Sadly, we discover it was Gort's Heroic Sacrifice that started him on the path of Evil - and ensured his brother would be on the side of good.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Normally played straight, but awesomely subverted in the last duel between Gort and living Leon - he's about to give a "Good Shall Triumph" speech when Casper stabs him in the back, complete with pure snark:Casper: Sorry, did I interrupt something?
- The Napoleon: Don't remind Gort that he's short. That said, Gort himself hangs a lampshade on it during the Dressing as the Enemy scene:Casper: (trying to squeeze into armor far too small for him) How do these guys fit into these things??
Gort: (wearing obviously oversized armor) I shall allow you to trade with me, Casper.
- Third-Person Person:
- Zathras. The other Shades too, but they aren't as bad about it...
- Gort also frequently engages in this, in a hammy manner.
- Together in Death: Or Undeath as the case may be. It doesn't turn out so well, after which it's played straight.
- Token Good Teammate: Michaelus. It's a surprise it took him so long to turn against the others.
- True Companions: For a party composed of a hellfire-wielding warlord, a devil-worshipping dark elf, an amoral thief, a treacherous Black Widow, and the high priestess of a God of Evil, they're remarkably loyal to one another. Jill in particular has had multiple opportunities to betray the party for her own profit, and in each case merely double-crossed the one making the offer.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Blackshard can't possess the drunk.