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Webcomic / Errant Story

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You might want to stand back, bad things tend to happen around these three.

Errant Story basically started life as "What would those generic hero's journeys fantasy stories be like if they focused on the Evil Wizard's rise to power rather than the hero's?"

Errant Story is a High Fantasy Webcomic that ran from 2002 to 2012, and the second webcomic of Michael Poe (Exploitation Now being his first, Does Not Play Well With Others his third). Poe has started re-running the comic at 3-5 pages a week, with author commentary on each page, although it is currently on hiatus. There are two sequel series planned.

With a light touch of Postmodernism, the comic has a sizable amount of self-referential humor and quite a few lampshaded, subverted, invoked, and roundly mocked tropes. It starts out following the adventures of a half-elven mage seeking ultimate arcane power, though as other main characters join up it quickly becomes evident that there is much more going on behind the scenes. The comic underwent slow onset Cerebus Syndrome, but still retained many of its humorous elements well into the series.

Character-specific tropes can be found on the character sheet. The comic also has a wiki.

Errant Story contains examples of:

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  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Durus Flamma blades.
  • All-Encompassing Mantle: The regular elven military loves this trope.
  • All There in the Manual: Extensive information regarding the world of Errant Story can be found on the comic's wiki.
  • All Trolls Are Different: The trolls were one of the original species (possibly the second after the dwarves) to inhabit the world, though their civilization was destroyed and their numbers devastated once the various elven races got together and launched a long, though ultimately unsuccessful campaign to exterminate them. They were likely created by Anilis and Senilis, the elven creator gods and were tutored by the same demigods that taught the elves, though the elves believe that the trolls were failures and sought to wipe them from existence. From what has been seen of the trolls they are large, strong, matriarchal (as apparently only the women are able to use magic), and cannibalistic, though they see this as a sort of immortality as the consumed are believed to live on as a part of the tribe.
    • They seem to mirror the Kroot of Warhammer 40k in this regard, though without the freaky genetics that make it actually true, and having your remains eaten after you die seems to be something of a compliment (they do it to humans only if suitably impressed). In fact, one of the punishments in their culture is "no one save the dirt and the worms shall eat of your meat." Likewise, they consider it very offensive to cremate someone's remains and burning a troll's corpse will royally piss off their tribe.
    • Interestingly, despite the aforementioned cannibalism they also seem to be the Only Sane Race.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The ruling elves concealing the resting places of their creator gods from humans, half-elves, and even the majority of elves.
  • Animesque: Mild case
  • Angrish: Councilman Hinadori is a bit... incoherent after the Elven ambassador insults his granddaughter to his face.
  • Anti-Magic: The Inanire 312, a type of grenade developed by the elves at the tail end of the Errant War that is capable of disrupting magic in a small area for a short period of time. Because of its indiscriminate nature and the fact that it was introduced so late in the war, when very few people remained for it to be used on, they were rarely used. After the war's end they were tucked away in a vault in Praenubilus Astu and forgotten about by most of the population until Ian attacked the city, at which point they were used to drive him off.
    • And the Dispel spell, used by Ian to kill/dissipate Luminosita and Meji to free Sara from a binding spell.
      • Of course, Ian gets Hoist by His Own Petard in an anti-magic sense, when Meji finally makes it to Praenubilus Astu with the airship fleet.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Durus Flamma blades - basically fantasy lightsabers powered by "magic elf crystals."
  • Armor Is Useless: Primarily due to the fact that the current weapons (magic, guns, and Durus Flamma weapons) are well ahead of the armor technology. Mentioned by Sarine when thinking if she should repair her current suit of armor.
    • Though note she's talking about her human armor. Elven armor is dismissed as too conspicuous, not useless. Elven reactive armor even dealt with unknown threats like time ninjas.
  • Art Evolution: Gradually over the entire strip's run.
  • Art Shift: Flashback strips have softer linework and pencil shading, and tend to have more irregular panels.
  • Asshole Victim: Good lord, the elves. A lot of backstory is given about how they have pretty much attempted to exterminate or enslave every other sapient species they've come across. This is largely to show that their near-destruction wrought by a power-crazed, revenge-driven half-elf was brought on themselves, but given this information it's easy to sympathize with the Big Bad's motivations. See the Headscratchers tab for a lengthy discussion on this.
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: And how! The first elven ambassador we see is Meji's illegitimate father, and is perfectly willing to have his daughter killed to avoid public embarrassment over his affair with a human. After he's removed due to the aforementioned embarrassment, his replacement isn't any better, calling Meji an errant, and arrogantly referring to her as "it" to her grandfather.
  • Attack Hello: Sarine is returning to the elven city of Paenubilus Astu when an old friend of hers - Misa - decides to sneak up on her for fun. Unfortunately, Sarine is a bit jumpy after a crazy and/or obeying-the-Ancient Conspiracy elf attempted to assassinate her earlier, and nearly kills the girl before she realizes who she is.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Inverted with most of the Ensigerum. The older trainees and newly raised monks are generally more skilled than their seniors, since they have more recent experience practicing against opponents using the same kind of enhancements as they're using. Played straight with the leader, Anita, who is definitely the biggest badass in the order.
  • Author Tract: No one has anything nice to say about the Veracian church, their god or religious people, ever.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Sara uses a double-bladed spear, which Sarine observes "combines all the disadvantages of a spear with all the disadvantages of a short sword in one crap package". Really, the weapon was only intended to be flashy when swung around.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Jon and Sarine finally get one of these moments (heavily lampshaded by the peanut gallery) after a year of UST in-story and several in the real world. And no, the sex scene isn't it.
  • Babies Ever After: Sarine and Jon have a daughter, Mari.
  • Back Story: Is there anyone that doesn't have one? Seriously, there's good characterization going on here.
  • Badass Back: When he attacks the Praenubilus Astu, the last elven city left in the world, Ian kills an elven guard behind him by causing the guard's head to explode without looking.
  • Badass Normal: Jon has his guns, a good aim, and his wits. So far, he's just about managed to hold his own against all the magical super-warriors he's run into.
  • Bad Boss: High Commander Yenhael who badmouths both his immediate superior and the aforementioned Physical God for their sheer stupidity. In the span of a single page.
  • Bald of Evil: Paul again, because after all he is the second in command of the Ensigerum.
  • Bandaged Face: Melrin, trying to pass as a disfigured human so he can live in Thranel and keep an eye on the thing in the woods that's a portal to the resting place of Anilis.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Ian does this on a gigantic axe wielded by Luminosita, an artificial god.
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: When Meji claims to still be a virgin one of her professors states that the graffiti disagrees. Judging by Meji's response the graffiti is probably right.
  • Beat Panel: Along with Visible Silence, used extensively.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted, the women in the cast, particularly Sarine, get banged up quite a bit.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Explains a lot.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ian, as the hundreds of innocents in Emerylon who he killed can attest.
  • Bittersweet Ending: A bit. But mostly just because the one narrating the epilogue is an immortal, many years later.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: It kinda says something about your setting when the one person who's the closest thing to an actual good guy also happens to be an assassin (one with a heart, granted, but an assassin just the same).
  • Blood from the Mouth: Used periodically to denote serious injury. Also used in conjunction with an Incurable Cough of Death in Leah's case.
  • Book Ends: The covers of the first and last chapters both show Meji sitting on the ground, leaning back against a tree trunk. Differences in her appearance and surroundings reflect the changes that have taken place throughout the story. (The prologue and epilogue covers also form a pair, but with far less symbolism.)
  • Boomerang Comeback: A favorite tactic of Sarine's, in which she throws one of her short swords and uses magic to cause it to turn around and hit the opponent in the back. One variation involves charging it with electricity in case the opponent is smart enough to block it anyway.
  • Bowdlerize: Jon and Sarine's sex scene originally featured full frontal of Sarine. Poe later changed it to a Toplessness from the Back.
  • Breast Plate: Mostly averted, heavy armor (particularly the variety favored by the regular elven military) does a very good job at concealing a person's figure, even so far that in her early appearances it was unclear if Commander Nisotta was a man or a woman. Even Sarine, who is actually rather well endowed, appears rather flat when in armor. Played straight with early versions of the Viradior armor. Interestingly, in other flash backs the same armor is a bit less flattering and the modern version is mentioned to be essentially the same as the older one, so it is likely more a slight change in artistic style than an in-story change in armor design.
  • Brick Joke: This punchline is coming eventually. Remember when Meji yelled out that she was going to become a God for her final project? Within a year? Well, she freaking did it. Sure, it was all just a bizarre set of circumstances no one could have predicted, but by Jove she's done it! ...Although she still didn't quite manage to pass the class.
  • B-Side Comics: Fun With Familiars, featuring Rape-kun and Ellis mostly.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Minor example, but several of the adults in Meji's life still talk down to her like a wayward child even after she gains the powers of the creator-god Senilis.
    • Major example: Meji saves the elves from utter annihilation, and afterwards one of the elves arrogantly demands that she give up her powers, "generously" offering her amnesty if she does so, and promising to hunt her forever if she doesn't. One forum post compared Meji's saving of the elves from Ian to a bunch of Jewish commandos parachuting into Berlin in 1945 to save German civilians from the depredations of the Red Army, so the elf's reaction is as ungrateful as it is suicidal. The page is even called "Poking Bears With Sticks".
  • Came Back Wrong: When Ian tries to resurrect his dead sister she comes back as an empty shell.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Played straight in some cases, though just as often someone like Jon will tell them to get bent.
  • Cassandra Truth: Early in the story, when the characters are discussing the origin of elves, Meji is a bit dismissive of one theory:
    Meji: Well, there are also a few people who think we were all put here by super advanced alien lifeforms. But those are the same people who go on about evil, secret elven and Veracian conspiracies and believe the northern confederacy is using lost tecnology froman ancient race of humans to create weapons of mass destruction. Complete psychotic nutjobs, in other words.
  • Cats Are Magic: Ellis. He can talk, fly and is extremely resilient to offensive magic.
  • Cats Are Mean: Ellis, Meji's familiar, is a talking winged cat. His use of language could make sailors blush - he's constantly making crude suggestions, sexual references and inappropriate jokes. For obvious reasons, Meji regularly applies a fireball or thunderbolt to him, but since he's Made of Iron, it doesn't really deter him to any significant degree. He's also a bit of a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: It starts off very lighthearted and grows progressively darker, with a genocidal maniac on the loose, another one in the making, and war brewing between the major powers.
    • Inverted with the prologue. It opens with Sarine angsting over her human husband's mortality and the future prospects for their unborn child while the Errant War is picking up steam around them. Her husband tries to comfort her with limited success. Then it cuts to 2000 years later where Sarine kills a mentally unstable half-elf who had recently raped, murdered, and mutilated three girls. Right after the prologue it becomes lighthearted and comedic to the point of Mood Whiplash.
  • Charm Person: Sarine uses this to control a bandit they find in the woods in Farrel.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Inanire 312 grenades. Sarine finds that someone has already beaten her to cleaning out most of the stash of them in the elven vaults. That someone turns out to have been Commander Nisotta, who uses them later against Ian when he attacks the city.
    • See also Came Back Wrong. Zombie army, anyone?
    • A literal example at the very end: Meji finds one of Jon's guns. She ends the fight with Ian by turning off the magic and blowing his brains out with it.
  • Chronic Villainy: Ian realized he was off his rocker and tried to calm down, only to turn around at the slightest hint of angst and go right back to his genocidal plans. Twice.
  • Church Militant: The Veracian church.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Luminosita is or rather was an artificial god, one created by the collective belief (and/or a lot of deliberate spell-casting and mana-charging) of the Veracian church.
  • Combat by Champion: This was one of the Ensigerum's original purposes, to fight in the place of elves as champions in duels.
  • Curse Cut Short: Used here, when Meji is calling out Sarine for a bit of hypocrisy.
    Meji: Well that seems like a mixed message, telling us not to kill anyone right after she kills the Queen Bi-
    Jon: Not the time Meji.
  • Cute Bruiser: Sara, though if you call her that she'll either ignore you or kill you eight different ways before you can blink.
  • Dark Action Girl: Sarna, Sara before her Heel–Face Turn, and Anita.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Every main character (and plenty of supporting characters too) have their moments of this. Jon and Ellis are probably the biggest, however.
  • Deflector Shields: Barrier spells are used extensively by magi on all sides.
  • Determinator: The author, to keep updating the comic with all he and his wife have been through. Check out this news post for a summary of their Trauma Conga Line.
  • Deus ex Machina: Invoked by name by Meji in order to find a book she needed.
    • It does indeed lead not only to the plot happening, but achieves Meji's school project goal of attaining godlike power.
  • Did the Earth Move for You, Too?: This strip, using the I Always Wanted to Say That version.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Chris, a pretty weak Ensigerum trainee, reacts to Ian's confession of destroying Emerylon by punching him in the face. Ian proceeds to throw him off a building, but it was the thought that counts.
  • Distant Finale: Sarine is the only one of the main cast left at the end, to the best of our knowledge. Meji may still be around, but while we don't know about Sara, Jon is most definitely dead.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Sarine to Jon.
    Jon: Honestly, what's wrong?
    Sarine: Just bad memories.
    Jon: Well, we all have plenty of tho-
    Sarine: 'Plenty?!' No! No you don't! You have barely even a handful of moments worth. I have years, decades, centuries.
  • Dooms Day Device: Powered by human babies no less. Used as a throwaway line by Sarine in an angry tirade about why the elves really shouldn't keep some things secret.
    • Presumably doesn't actually exist.
  • Dual Wielding: Sarine fights with a pair of short swords as her preferred weapons.
  • During the War: The story begins with a flashback to the opening years of the Errant War, two thousand years before the main plot, and a few others are scattered without.
  • Dying Race: Due to mistakes in their creation, the elves slowly but surely went sterile. At this point in time, they have become completely unable to reproduce with one another. They are still able to breed with humans, but avoid doing so because said defects result in an increased chance of madness for Half-Human Hybrids. Ian and the Ensigerum attempt a Final Solution and succeed in wiping out most of the remaining elves in the conclusion. Due to being The Ageless, the few survivors won't go entirely extinct for a while, but since the only person who could theoretically help them hates them almost as much as Ian, the end of their race is pretty much inevitable.
  • Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age: Durus Flamma blades, elven swords used primarily for duels. However, even two thousand years before Errant Story takes place that rule was waning, as in the Errant War they were used in open combat, particularly by the Ensigerum. More recently some renegade (or simply conspiratorial) elves have used them in a similarly dishonorable fashion. Sarine herself prefers to abide by the old traditions governing their use, though if confronted by someone wielding one she does not hesitate to use her own.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Inverted. The Rinkai, a highly * ahem* "diplomatic" faction of elves, were close friends with the dwarves until the latter finally died out due to their sterility.
  • Energy Being: Senilis, and possibly the entire Elven pantheon.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Poe considers Ian's first appearance to be one for him. That didn't stop most of the readers from being surprised at his eventual gradual Face–Heel Turn, but then, Poe is notoriously cynical about these things.
    Poe: So not much to mention here besides how this page really did do a pretty good job of showing Ian's entire personality in one scene. "I'll totally punch a priest in the gut and steal the clothes off his back if I think I need to do it in order to get what I’m after, but I'll try to feel really bad about it afterwards because I like to think I'm a nice person."
  • Eternal Love: Deconstructed. The elves consider near-eternal relationships a bad thing.
  • Every Man Has His Price: A favorite tactic of Sarine when she needs to quickly get people to cooperate is to bribe them with an artifact or a piece of Lost Technology she has on account of her position as an elven ranger. She even comments that at the rate she's going she'll run out of stuff to buy people off with.
  • Fantastic Racism: The elves hunt half-elves ("errants") because they tend toward insanity and magic excellence, not a good combination. An entire city was destroyed by a single mad half-elf in the past. Ian, being a half-elf, thus naturally throws this trope back at the elves. As do most of the Ensigerum, but for other reasons.
  • Fantastic Slurs: The term "errant" used to only refer to half-elves who had gone insane, but the elves eventually came to view the terms "half-elf" and "errant" as interchangeable.
  • Faceless Goons: The regular elven military and Viradior use face concealing helmets and masks.
  • Filler Strips: Since its been running since 2002 there have been quite a few over the years.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Seen in spades as Sarine dreams of her half-elven daughter who died at birth.
  • Foreshadowing: WAY back, Meji mentioned some insane conspiracy theories: the races were created by acient super advanced alien life forms, Veracia and the elves are running ancient conspiracies, and northerners are using Lost Technology. Every single one's been proved true.
  • Forever War: The Errant War dragged on for centuries, to the point where it stopped being about the events that kicked it off and degenerated into a war of genocide. It eventually "petered out" when there was no one left to fight simply because everyone was dead.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: the reason for the Glamour Failure below.
  • Funny Octopus: One of the secondary characters has a pet miniature tentacle monster named Rape-kun. Despite the name, he is completely harmless, and oddly cute. It's mentioned that the owner doesn't have the password to unlock Rape-kun's "Adult Mode". Make of that what you will.
  • Gag Penis: According to artwork and comments from those in a position to know, Senilis had one last time he was corporeal.
  • General Ripper: High Commander Yenhael.
  • Glamour Failure: At one point Sarna utilizes a glamour in an attempt to remain undetected in a human city. A child manages to see through it, but the child's mother dismisses it.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: At the very end, when the elves figure out that they are utterly screwed in their battle with Ian and ask Tsuiraku for help. Of course, what really matters isn't that they get the Tsuirakuan battlemages, but rather, that they get the Five-Man Band (Meji, Ellis, Jon, Sarine and Sara), whom they did not actually ask for. (There is the little point that the elven behavior until this point hasn't exactly been heroic.)
  • Grandpa Wolf: Quite the opposite of Meji's Jerkass father, do not refer to Meji as an "Errant" or as an "it" in front of her grandfather. It won't end well, diplomatic immunity or no.
  • Groin Attack: Ellis finds himself on the receiving end of an Acid Neuter Arrow spell after annoying Meji a little too much. Good thing he's Made of Iron.
  • Guest Strip: As with the filler there have been a few of these, though not quite as many.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Imperatrix Anita's fate in chapter 50.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The half-elves and their place in the world (or lack thereof) are the driving force of the story. The Errant War, the retreat of the elves, the eventual rise of humanity to fill the power vacuum left behind, and the current chaos are all due to the mental instability that plagues the half-elven population.
  • Have You Seen My God?: The elven creator deities up and vanished thousands of years before the story proper. They turn out to be asleep.
  • Hermaphrodite: Riley
  • Heroic Wannabe: Chris.
  • Hidden Elf Village: The Ensigerum Village. Also the city of Praenubilus Astu, the last elven city left in the world after the Errant War, which is built inside a mountain and until recently was magically sealed off from the world. Tsuikarushiti as well, which until about 200 years before the main story was hidden behind a cloaking field. And Santuariel, the half-elf village in the middle of a wasteland where they're hiding from the elves that want to kill them off.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Applied to elves, though there are several examples of more reasonable elves such as Sarine, Misa, and Nisotta.
  • Human Shield: In his first appearance, Jon attempts to use Meji as one. Unfortunately the guards don't really care and try to kill him anyway. Fortunately for Meji, both Jon and the guards wind up on the wrong side of Mugging the Monster.
  • I'm A Humanitarian: The trolls, though they don't usually eat humans, just other trolls. To them it's something of a compliment, they believe it grants a sort of immortality as the spirit of the eaten is passed on to the eater.
  • Immortal Immaturity: Misa is about 1,500 years old yet frequently acts like she's 15, primarily because she has been doted on her entire life and was one of the few elves who did not take part in the Errant War.
    Misa: Being the youngest of a race that lives forever means being eternally treated as the baby.
  • Immunity Disability: Many half-elves are immune to some forms of magic (such as transmutation). Unfortunately, this includes healing magic. Some of those that can be healed spontaneously reject the healing later.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Leah regularly coughs up blood due to a birth defect stemming from being a half-elf.
  • Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress: Ensigerum speedster-monk Warrel is tricked into using a Slow Fall spell with painful results.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Subverted. Elves don't have a cultural nudity taboo, but elf women are most certainly not this, no matter what certain human play writers would have you think. Elves go fully clothed most of the time just like the humans do, they just aren't embarrassed to be seen naked in situations where it makes sense to them to be naked, e.g. while bathing... and even then, they can get self-conscious if some smartass seems to enjoy the sight of them a little too much.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Between the ranger corps and the regular elven military. The former thinks the other is a bunch of backwards do-nothings who should leave matters of the outside world to those who know how to get around there, while the latter thinks the other is a pack of lunatics for volunteering to leave their Hidden Elf Village in the first place. Illustrated here.
  • In the Blood: Half-elves (reputedly) have a tendency to go violently insane. This is ultimately what led to the Errant War which devastated the old elven empire and the reason behind the elves' policy of killing half-elves wherever they are found.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: The elves often refer to half-elves as "it" to show their arrogance and disdain for them.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Many of the characters, such as Jon, Sarine, and Meji, are all a bit dickish at first glance. In fact the only one who is nice on the surface turns out to be a genocidal maniac.
  • Jumping the Shark: Invoked by Sara and Bani in a commentary strip, where they lament that the author has now done so after Chapter 45.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Ian's genocidal campaign against the elves. With the exception of Sarine and Misa, they're all arrogant bastards who've been begging for that kind of smackdown the entire comic.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: Riley had a gig doing this with a circus in her(?) pre-story past.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The goddess Anilis, in Ian's body. The mood, which had already been slowly shifting toward serious since the fight in Saus, dives into Ancient Conspiracies and genocide with gusto.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Happens left, right, and center.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Sarine utilized this to delete the part of Jon's memory that contained the two of them having sex. Jon, however, was well aware that his memories have been manipulated even though he could not recall exactly what was deleted and became increasingly suspicious of Sarine as a result.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Played with, though mostly averted. The elven rangers are mostly loners, and while the regular elven military seems to regard them as freaks the two rangers seen so far seem to be as well adjusted as any elf. The elf in Farrel who has been living there for the last two thousand years, while arguably sane, is dismissed by the elven council as a madman, citing his long isolation as the reason.
  • Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair: The elves can get very pretentious with their architecture. Lampshaded here.
    (While looking for an elven warp gate the group stumbles on a simple, nondescript stone platform.)
    Jon: Maybe that's what elven warpgates look like?
    Meji: Nah, they're elves. Their warpgates would be, like, gigantic, with glowing crystal crap, trimmed in gold, and basically say "Our form of instantaneous global travel is better than your form of instantaneous global travel."
    • Though actually the current elven travel platforms look like ruins, and all the real stuff is hidden underground.
  • Magic Knight: Replete with them, particularly the Viradior and the Ensigerum.
  • Mauve Shirt: Quite a few of them.
  • May–December Romance: Ian and Meji before the former went off the deep end, as he is 40 and she is 17. They're both half-elves though, so they don't appear to be very different in age on the surface.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Deconstructed, if you can believe it. Any elf-human romantic relationship is necessarily of this nature, but for precisely this reason it becomes ''fashionable'' among the elves to engage in such relationships, due to an aesthetic roughly equivalent to mono no aware. This has major, major unforeseen consequences.
  • Meta Guy: Bani and Sara in the Chapter Commentary segments. Meta!Bani has even been known to reference this very wiki in discussions with Sara.
  • Metamorphosis: In these two pages, Ellis wakes up to find that he's been transformed from a winged cat into a tiny, winged catboy. So far, he is not taking it well.
  • Mooks: Lampshaded here.
    Guard: Dude... it's a tall guy dressed in black, with a weird, glowy weapon thing, and we're a couple of guards in matching, shiny armor... we're so fucking DEAD!
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Played with. The characters who are by far the strongest, the warrior-monks of the Ensigerum, are not particularly large people. Paul, who so far seems to be the largest of the Ensigerum, doesn't appear to be any bulkier than his fellow monks, with his size mainly coming simply from height. However, they do have ridiculous definition, making them more like an army of Bruce Lee's than anything else.
    • Hmm. The Ensigerum use magic like physical adepts, to fuel things like running up walls. By Word of God elves and lucky half-elves like Meji may be the strongest per mass; Meji beat up a couple of human guards twice her size. Trolls are probably strongest but they're big and not around much.


  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Averted. By the time Errant Story takes place (and even during the Errant War, two thousand years before the main story) the dwarves are extinct, primarily because they were all sterile and couldn't use magic.
  • Parental Abandonment: Most of the main characters suffer from this and even the elven people as a whole, as the creator gods Anilis and Senilis had abandoned them and vanished thousands of years prior to the main story.
  • Past Experience Nightmare: Sarine has had at least one of the stillbirth of her child. Considering that it happened two thousand years ago and is only part of the emotional baggage she has been carrying it was certainly not her only one.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Lampshaded by Meji.
    Meji: We just stopped a group of bandits that were preying on a small town. Does that mean we've done one of those "Good deeds through multiple acts of violent murder" things that adventurers always do in books?
  • Physical God: Several, including Luminosita, the elven creator gods Anilis and Senilis,
  • Power Nullifier: The Inanire grenades, which neutralize magic in a given area for a short period of time.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Meji has gotten them most recently as her body gets used to holding Senilis.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I have a third of an entire species' knowledge sodomizing my frontal lobe... And. Yet. You. Are. STILL! ...Giving me shit about my stupid grades."
  • Really 700 Years Old: All elves are at least 1500 years old, yet all look middle aged at most.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The elven Commander Nisotta and Paul, the Ensigerum second in command. Also the troll "Chieftess" in her very limited time on-stage. Pretty much everyone else with any real power is at least a little idiotic.
  • Red Herring Shirt: An inept and cowardly guard from the Veracian Church, named Sandel, turns out to actually be an undercover spy for the Ensigerum Time-Ninja-Monks! Still only a Mauve Shirt, but that's a hell of a lot better than being an NPC Guard. Also, the Viradior who attacks Sarine after her arrival in the elven territories and gets knocked on her ass turns out to be Misa, a moderately important side character, performing an Attack Hello.
  • Red Shirt: Plenty of them, from Veracian guards to elven soldiers.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Part of the reason Meji is not killed by Sarine is because she is reminded of her stillborn child. Sarine still hasn't come clean about this, but it's become less of a motivation after Meji ran off with Ian
  • Rousing Speech: Combined with "The Reason You Suck" Speech when Sarine addresses the elves following Ian launching his assault:
    Sarine: Because, make no mistake, all the pain and misery that is happening to us right now... is the direct result of us spending so many useless centuries shitting on the half elves and the humans of the Ensigerum whenever possible!
    • Lampshaded by the Alt Text noting that she was never really good at the motivation pep talks.
  • Rule of Cool: The Dolon style (essentially a double bladed spear) of Durus Flamma blades. They were made for show, but the Ensigerum have put them to work as actual weapons with some success, though that owes more to the skill of the wielder than the usefulness of the weapon.
  • Running Gag: Well, it doesn't actually run, but the use of a cat-sized ball gag to deal with Ellis' smart-ass remarks comes up from time to time.
  • Schizo Tech: Revolvers and semi-automatic rifles in a setting that is otherwise lagging behind that level in (mundane) technology. Of course the prevalence of magic based tech makes it very difficult to peg a time period.
    • As does the prior existence of non-magical superintelligent dwarves, who probably had blasters and left behind a mecha. Tsuiraku is modern Japan via magic, the elves are probably that more so minus the silly culture, dwarves were supertech, non-Tsuiraku humans had to claw their way back up and are transitioning possibly with the help of dwarven ruins.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Jon essentially says this when he runs into Warrel.
    • And later, the unnamed troll matriarch essentially says this to Ian's attempts to recruit her clan for his Elven genocide campaign, only in this case, it's more "Screw this, we're packing up, tearing down our huts, and getting outta here!"
  • Screw You, Elves!: Jon tends to say this and often has the skill and firepower to back it up.
  • Security Cling: Played as a joke when Jon and Sarine's banter starts getting to their traveling companion.
  • Self-Deprecation: A staple of Poe's, which sometimes finds its way into the comic itself.
    Meji: So, um... you're Jon's long lost, estranged sister, who's been turned into an emotionless magic ninja assassin by some secret order of monks hidden in the mountains...
    Sara: ... yes.
    Meji: That's... like, really, kinda freaking stupid, if you don't mind me saying. And I thought your brother's whole "hitman with a troubled past and a heart of gold" bit was bad.
    Ellis: Yeah, and this is coming from a magic using, half elven heiress with unusual hair and eye colours, and a talking animal companion... so that' really saying something there.
  • Sextra Credit: One of the ways Meji tries to get her much-needed A on the final project. Her professor is not interested, so she has to go through with her original go-on-a-quest-to-gain-ultimate-power plan.
  • Ship Tease: The Valentine's Day filler strip and another bit of filler here. Both are non-canon, but that didn't stop them from drawing some rather amusing comments from the forums.
  • Shoulders of Doom: These and All-Encompassing Mantle are pretty much standard in the regular elven military.
  • Shout-Out: to Planet of the Apes (1968), here.
  • So What Do We Do Now?: Having just killed a physical god, stopped a genocide, and ordered the elves to stop their attacks on the half-elves, Meji is confronted with this dilemma: as a Physical God herself, what does she do tomorrow?
  • Sterility Plague: No pureblood elves have been born in over 1500 years.
  • Superior Species: Played mostly straight for the elves. Except it turns out that the Ensigerum, the guys the elves trained as guards before they walled themselves off from the rest of the world, are actually a match for the elves in combat, even after all these years. And morally speaking the elves are pretty far down the ladder, having had their collective Moral Event Horizon (their attempt to exterminate the trolls for being "the gods' failure") thousands of years before the start of the comic.
  • Super-Speed: The Ensigerum use a combination of The Spartan Way and magic to grant their warrior-monks this ability.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Senilis, Anilis, and Exitialis have now been identified as alien collectives that attained corporeality. Exitialis, the Death God, is so identified because said collective disappeared, perhaps dead. The creation of the elves (and perhaps, humans) was intended to form a new collective to stabilize the other two. Who happen to be disintegrating. Mind Screw and Wham Episode combined into one. Well played, Poe. Well. Played.
  • Talking Is a Free Action
  • That Didn't Happen: When Sarine fucks Jon, then erases his memory. Later Jon figures out his memory was messed with and even later Sarine confesses exactly what she did, to keep Jon from paranoid speculation about it.
  • The Spartan Way: The Ensigerum use this to churn out some of the deadliest warriors in the land.
  • Thieves' Guild: The basic social structure in Farrel.
  • This Is Something He's Got To Do Himself: Said by Sarine about Jon gunning down a group of bandits in the woods of Farrel.
    Meji: Um... He did know that I could have just as easily blown up their entire camp for him instead?
    Sarine: Quiet, he needs this I think... Or if nothing else at least it'll hopefully make him stop whining for a little while.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Turns out that pairing it with magic gets you a double subversion.
  • Too Stupid To Live: The elves, full stop. See Ungrateful Bastard for the biggest example.
  • Training from Hell: Endured by Sara and Chris en route to becoming Ensigerum monks, with the little extra detail that the Powers That Be secretly hope that Chris won't survive it — as Sara eventually tells him.
  • Trash Landing: Jon reintroduces himself to the whore who'd turned him in, starting the chain of events that got him connected to Meji.
  • Troperiffic: Proudly. Poe has been known to reference TV Tropes by name in some of his filler strips.
  • 24-Hour Armor: Mostly averted, humans generally don't even wear armor at all let alone full plate (the only people who seem to are elves) and even those who wear more reasonable armor don't wear it when they don't need to. The regular elven military does use full plate, and the problems with it are mentioned here.
    • And early Sarine is in century-old human armor most of the time, though she eventually gives it up as useless.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The elf in this comic. This was right after Meji had saved his race from extinction.
  • Visible Silence: Frequently used, often involving Sara.
  • Wall of Text: Though the dialogue is much of the appeal.
  • Weirdness Censor: A spell exploits this to keep people from freaking out around Ellis, as explained here.
  • What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: "Tsuiraku" is the Japanese word for things (planes, mostly) falling out of the sky and making a mess on the ground.
    • We haven't had a Colony Drop yet, though.
    • The name is clearly intentional. Presumably, it was named by a distant ancestor of Meiji who either had an odd sense of humor and/or was disappointed when it FAILED to behave as advertised.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Sarcastically used by Sarine only with, well, sarcasm.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: So far Ian has only been seen killing mooks, though the fact that all the mooks he has killed were only trying to defend their homes from a genocidal maniac makes it rather easy to end up rooting for them.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Paul gives Ian one of these after the latter destroys Emerylon in a failed attempt at Suicide by Cop, though he's anything but a hero by that point.
    • Jon started giving Sarine one of these when she revealed that earlier she had an emotional breakdown, slept with him, and then deleted his memory of the whole thing. Being Jon and Sarine, it quickly degenerated into bickering and insults.
  • Wham Episode: Anilis and Senilis (and presumably Exitialis) are some sort of dying "collectives", and the dwarves, trolls, elves, and the little fairy-demigods are all their failed attempts at causing some sort of apotheosis which would somehow have stopped their decline. Humans haven't been explained yet. The entire setting's been redefined: it's sci-fi.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The fates most of the surviving main characters are shown.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Said by Jon of a bandit found in the woods of Farrel.