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Webcomic / Guilded Age

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Left to right: Bandit, Byron, Syr'Nj, Gravedust, Payet, and Frigg.

Guilded Age (first page here) is a Heroic Fantasy webcomic, in which six fairly competent adventurers conveniently meet and form a group to make a living of... well... adventuring. It's written by Flo Kahn and T Campbell, with art by Erica Henderson (Chapters 1 through 7) and John Waltrip (Chapter 8 onward). A backup of the comic can be found here.

The meat of the story deals with our heroes getting hired to do various jobs for the growing human nation of Gastonia. Gastonia is in the middle of a technological revolution, and its rapid border expansion has earned it much ire from the "savage races," as well as older magical societies, like those of the elves. On top of that, each of the six characters has their own issues to deal with, and as a group the multicultural, multiracial band tends to face as much personal conflict as they do political conflict. At least, that's how it starts...

The first six chapters began with a mini adventure taking place sometime after the main story arc. Word of God says that it was to give the beloved audience the guarantee of a future full of gang-asskicking. The main story arc begins by relating how each of the protagonists met to finally form a party and deliver said asskicking. From the seventh chapter on, however, the storyline has taken on a more linear format.

Guilded Age provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Most of the female cast in the Guild, and especially the main characters. Frigg, of course, tops the list. Syr'Nj, too, although she's not as obviously female. Bandit starts out as a "pretty good" stealth character, and with enough experience is eventually able to fight a super-berserker one-on-one and win.
  • Affably Evil: Iver, Savasi Warlord, doesn't really make much effort to hide how much of a Smug Snake he really is and how clearly he's just using the World's Rebellion to make himself rich, but at least he's charming about it. On the Gastonian side of things, His Grace Iwatani is a Manipulative Bastard extraordinaire playing the cultists and his own allies against each other to advance his own agenda, but at the same time he puts on a friendly and concerned facade to whomever he's speaking to, he's shown nothing short of frank admiration for how well Syr'nj has handled herself as a member of the Heads of Houses, and he's a genuinely doting father to his son, Taro.
  • A God Am I: H.R. goes from a man who believes his Magitek is just a form of boosted technology to realizing he's actually cloned and linked to a real alternate reality. Unfortunately, the stress of having accidentally essentially destroyed the lives of multiple people (and covering it up for so long to buy time to constantly try and fail to save them over and over) causes him to eventually embrace that in the worst way possible.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Simultaneously played straight and inverted. From the ninth chapter onwards it is revealed that the characters are actually living in a Magitek People Jars video game described as a cross between The Matrix and a Kinect. The creator, H.R. Dedalus can't get them out, and everything within the game seems to be taking a mind of its own.
    • And then it turns out H.R. was wrong; Arkerra isn't merely a virtual clone of an alternate reality, it's a whole new real reality, capable of being influenced by what's done on Earth, but not truly controlled. Of course, being forced to realize the true capability of his magic just makes things worse...
  • All of Them: When the Silver Centurion is trying to root out a bunch of rebellious gnomes who have gone to ground (literally), he orders one of his subordinates to send for explosives:
    Erm... how much, sir?
    All we've got.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Trolls are fairly smart on the whole, have orange skin, and are the leaders of the World's Rebellion. They are possessed of regenerative abilities, and Syr'Nj mentions that troll blood can be used to treat minor wounds.
  • Alt Text:
    • All the comics have this, mainly for jokes. For chapter openings, though, it's instead "The one where [something related to the chapter contents]."
    • Then there's that one page with the ominous lack of Alt Text...
  • Alternate Self: Shanna of "Sepia World" is explicitly an alternate universe version of Shanna Cochran from Fans!.
  • Anachronic Order: Each of the first six chapters is divided in two parts: The first one follows the party in one of their many adventures, the other one forms a regular story arc showing the party's meeting and eventual banding together.
  • Anachronism Stew: In the middle of otherwise medieval levels of technology, Syr'Nj invented dynamite. And called them "boom sticks."
  • Art Evolution: When the comic's artist changed from Erica Henderson to John Waltrip.
  • Art Shift: The world that most resembles ours is drawn in a more realistic style, and sepia-toned with occasional spot-coloring. A futuristic Tron-style world is rendered in bright neons, with strategic pixelation for effect.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: A common trend with several races of the World's Rebellion, particularly the trolls and the landsharks. The fact that the Savasi also believe in this comes to bite Warlord Iver on the ass in a big way in chapter 46.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Gravedust Deserthammer is probably the guiltiest of this, with Frigg even asking him if she can have his name after he dies.
  • Back from the Dead:
  • Badass Boast:
    • Priestlord Gigundus gets a good one, and Byron has a pretty good response to it.
    Gigundus: I am the Priestlord Gigundus! There is no authority here but mine, elf. My word is the blood that flows through this world and washes out its disobedience.
    Byron: Yeah, well. I'm Byron the Berserker. Mine are the axes that thirst for blood.
    • Later, after the Gastonians suffer a defeat at the hands of the World's Rebellion, Penk delivers one to the Peacemakers.
    Penk: "There is nothing that you can build that we will not tear down. There is no land that you can take that we will not reclaim. For my god is a fiery, vengeful god. It is by his will that we live to face you again. Pray to your own gods...while you can.
    • Penk gets another one when he shoots down Harky's beliefs that peace with humans is impossible due to their traitorous nature.
    Penk: "I will pull them firmly into our fold, into our new alliance of races... I will bring their leaders down... and I will command even them! You fail to see the potential in them... and trollkind! You think we can only thrive when the humans are all dead?! You underestimate us all! Trolls shall thrive alongside or despite the humans! It is our choice, our destiny. Our lives will no longer be defined by them!
  • Bag of Holding: Belonging to Syr'Nj. How she got it is apparently a Noodle Incident for now.
  • Barbarian Hero: Frigg. Less in terms of the culture that raised her than her crass & violent attitude.
  • The Berserker: Subverted/deconstructed. Byron the Berserker is arguably the most level-headed, well-adjusted member of the party because he apparently lives in fear of his tendency to lose his shit and become a true, foaming at the mouth, screaming, psychotic, berserkergang killing machine. (He does enjoy a good bloodbath, though.)
    • The condition turns out to be a supernatural and otherworldly curse, not just a useful combat buff. In fact, if there are any friendlies around, it's way more of a liability than a help: the berserker may be nearly unstoppable and inhumanly strong, but they're compelled to slaughter all living beings in sight, hostiles or not.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When they find Penk and Magda trying to stop the otherworldly beast from reaching innocents, the Peacemakers decide they can't stand by and watch, so Frigg and Rachel ride WAV's Cool Bike down the cliff and crash into it. Could also be considered a Villainous Rescue, at least from the Champions' point of view.
  • Big "NO!": Parodied when Payet mourns the loss of his faithful bawkbagok.
    Payet: Keirnas! NOOOOOOOOOO- [gasp] -OOOOOOOOO!!!
  • Body Horror: The Ur-Animals. Even wood elves are disturbed by them. The most recognizable appears to be a cross between a gorilla and a spider.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Frigg.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: End of Chapter 8. Which was also the end of act one. Turns out they are killed, but a couple chapters later they come back.
  • Boomerang Bigot: This Wood Elf comedian's act is used to cast light on Gastonia's racism.
  • Brand X:
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Payet. He was shocked (but not hammed) and dismayed that the core group was shocked that he saved Byron and after a small confession, he decided to be a better ally and since he is supposed to find a basin that will tell him his destiny, this seems to be the flavor of the chapter.
    • And then there was a much more significant breakdown after finding the basin and seeing his death.
    • The final break happens when Byron forgives him for everything and offers to be his friend. Payet is still reeling from the idea that he's not actually as important as he was inadvertently fooled into thinking, and realizing that means his past actions were exceptionally selfish. His demeanor almost completely changes, and he fully embraces his role as an important party member instead of the protagonist.
  • Buffy Speak: Frigg in general. Highlighted in her daydream during her attempts at diplomacy (without violence) with the gnomes.
    Frigg: Sorry Ardaic! I tried my best, but someone accidentally killed them to death.
    Ardaic: You're fired. Without you to protect them, your friends will totally die and stuff. And deep down you will know it was your fault, because you suck at life.
    Frigg: Well shit.
  • Byronic Hero: Byron, as the name makes unsubtle. (His avatar's player references the actual Lord Byron.)
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Syr'Nj has plant-based names for body parts. Toes = Taproots, Hair = Foliage, etc.
    • This is not entirely just a question of nomenclature: she can, for instance, absorb water through her taproots, and is surprised to learn that her human friends cannot.
  • Church Militant: Our Lady of the Perpetual Bloodshot Eyeball. Their weapon is a long ruler with a blade fixed to it. May also count as Religion of Evil.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: To be fair, both Payet and Frigg should know better than to do it in the middle of a rescue mission, as pointed down by Byron.
  • Colour-Coded Characters: Each of the tanks seem to be a different colour which is associated with one of the main characters.
    • Also during the interviews, several accessories on their person are highlighted to give us an idea of their personalities/hobbies as well as who they are in the game.
    • Then there's the enigma of why Mr. Daedalus' tie is in Bandit's colors - or, more significantly, in the colours of Cultist magic.
  • The Comically Serious: GRAVEDUST . Seriously. Keynes herself states that she finds his serious facial expressions hilarious. Case in point: The People's Eyebrow
  • The Creon: Carol is this to HR Daedalus, taking over the company when he decides to enter Arkerra himself but remaining thoroughly loyal to his cause.
    • She ultimately ends up taking her boss off life support, but not so much out of a desire for power as remorse.
  • Cutting the Knot: Frigg rescues kidnapped children. With her mace.
    • Frigg tops herself there when she applies this trope to chess.
    • She later wants answers from some kind of cryptic god-being that's been appearing in her dreams and helping her at seemingly completely random times. Not having those answers especially when the god-being was a no-show against the Corruptor Beast, which could have prevented Rachel's death, frustrates her. She beats the god-being to death.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Payet. He can't quite understand Sky Elves' wisdom but sure knows how to kick pirate ass.
  • Dance Battler: Payet and Frigg, in the pirate cave.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gravedust, paradoxically. He's almost completely lacking in humor, so on the rare occasions when he does crack wise, he does it with such a straight face that it's hard to tell whether he's actually joking or not. Case in point.
  • Death Trap: Some sort of Drowning Pit.
  • Deep-Immersion Gaming: Taken to its logical conclusion.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: A level-headed berserker, a thuggish "crusader," an elven scientist, a dwarven shaman/archer, and an elf mistaken for the chosen one go on adventurers in a setting that paints a harsh and almost historical light on Fantastic Racism.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Scenes set outside the game are sepia toned, with a few splashes of color. Such as the People Jars and Mr. Daedalus' tie.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Inverted. Gravedust, easily the member of the cast most lacking in comedic ability, ends up having to pretend to be a comedian on a stage. He tells a mediocre joke about misfortune which the audience finds increasingly hilarious as he begins to explain how the joke actually depicts a very tragic situation and questions the audience's mirth.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Early chapters had the characters engaging in a load of pop-culture references as casual dialog, Frigg more so than anyone else, when they weren't all living in a World of Snark. This faded over time as the setting developed into its current and somewhat more serious state.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The beast the cultists let into the world. It appears to be able to destroy people completely, in a way that appears to involve their nature as video game characters. HR Daedalus also becomes one at the climax, after having consumed a similar abomination to ascend to the Realm of Being.
  • Enemy Mine: When the corrupting beast attacks the World's Rebellion, the Peacemakers and the World's Rebellion Champions agree to work together to fight it. Neither side is particularly happy about it, but both agree that the threat to innocent life is too great for them to put their own conflict before stopping it. And when one of the Peacemakers has their very soul devoured in the attempt, the Champions' leader can no longer justify seeing them as just enemies. He invites the survivors to break bread with the World's Rebellion, setting the stage for later events.
    • When the wood elves are attacked by the World's Rebellion, but saved by the Peacemakers, this is what drives them to ally with Gastonia. Later, after the above incident, the Peacemakers are betrayed by Gastonia. This drives all of them to take an opportunity to parley with the Champions, whose now-less-extreme stance allows them to form a new, stronger alliance, and end the war quickly.
  • Enfant Terrible: Taro Iwatani. He ends up taking his father's lessons in ambition to heart, poisoning his entire family.
  • Eye Scream: Von Carnaj is killed this way by Gravedust.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When Rachel saves Frigg from the cultists' monster at the cost of being caught by it herself, she smiles as it's about to kill her.
  • Face Palm: When a band of "adventurer's-rights enforcers" sets up their own nation on Gastonian soil, Syr'nj and Field Marshal Ardaic react in the only possible way.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: End of Chapter 8:
    Syr'nj: You all have a choice. Remember that.
  • Fantastic Racism: Gastonians (humans) mistrust humans who aren't Gastonian, then view just about every other species as some degree of inferior, with the more "acceptable" ones being those that happen to be useful to or allied with humans. They've been known to attack and wipe out entire villages populated by the races they deem "savage." While the worst of the prejudice is shown coming from the humans, no race is immune. Even the "savage races" rebelling against Gastonia see no problem using orcs as slave labor, and view them as so stupid they can't even comprehend the idea of doing something to improve their future (namely, working hard so that they won't be whipped.)
  • A Father to His Men: Byron. Though he does not get officially acknowledged as The Leader and later officially definitely isn't, he's usually the team's tactical planner, and he's the one who is most prone to showing concern for the fate of his fellow adventurers. May also qualify as the Team Dad.
  • Floating Continent: The city of Asallah En-Qu'Lara.
  • Fourth-Wall Mail Slot: Ask an Adventurer comics, in which the characters respond to reader-submitted questions. They often provide interesting information about the Guilded Age universe.
  • Freudian Excuse: Every member of the team and some of the villains seems to have one.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Gnomes in general, coming up with a myriad of fantastical machines with a heavy Clock Punk influence. Syr'Nj also has a touch of it with her flashbang grenades, but she's mostly a chemist.
  • Genius Bruiser: Byron, the heavy-hitting berserker, is also the core tactician of the group, and often trades the role of leader/diplomat between himself, Syr'nj, and Bandit.
  • Give Me Back My Wallet: Bandit is introduced to the comic this way when she nicks Syr'nj's hat. This event also serves to unite the group (minus Best or Bandit) together for the first time.
  • Hate Sink: Everything Payet does is calculated to make the reader hate him.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": In one of the very first strips...
    Gnoll Shaman: I am the Mouth of Tectonicus! What makes you think I'd go down easy?
    Frigg: Haha...he's a "mouth". "Going down".
  • He Knows Too Much: An employee finds out about the players trapped in Deep-Immersion Gaming hidden in the basement. HR finds him there and kills him.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Mostly averted. None of the core group members use swords as main weapons. Syr'nj does keep a sword-and-buckler as sidearms, and latecomers Scipio and Sundar use swords to great effect.
  • Heroic BSoD: Byron gets into a bit of a funk after he berserks and kills or incapacitates his entire team. It's bad enough that he has to be taken out of action for awhile, and begs to be killed so that it will never happen again.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Rachel, with a broken leg, hands a half-conscious Frigg off to Sundar so that they can escape The Beast, allowing it to kill her instead.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": All gnome first names. Bandit's name used to be "Carrier" Keynes back before she became a thief, when she hauled ore from the mines to the smelters.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Induced by Missed the Call.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Gastonia is pretty much a hive of racists out to conquer and plunder the planet in much the same vein as 17th-19th century colonialists. That said, the comic has shown that no one, not a single race could be considered good or all that nice. Either they are: xenophobic, condescending, tyrannical, downright genocidal or all of the above. Really, the only reason why Humans are labeled like this (at first), was because they were the only ones shown.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Not so much in the comic itself, but the reader comments thereof will pick a pertinent topic in a given comic and string out every pun possible from it.
  • I Call It "Vera": Bayen and Brayen, Byron's hatchets. Named after his dead brothers whom he killed while berserk.
  • Idea Bulb: Light bulbs not being common in Arkerra, Frigg's is actually her mace.
  • I See Dead People: Gravedust does.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: One of Rachel's former sisters does this. Scipio doesn't buy it.
  • I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Syr'Nj does not see the point in one having toes ("taproots") if one can't absorb water with them.
  • If It Swims, It Flies: The pirate ship. Designed by a kid, no less.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Byron is really good with those axes.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Averted. One of the troll children Penk sends to get his drum gets caught by the monster.
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue: For Frigg this scene is bizarrely a Pet the Dog moment where we learn she really does care about her companions and isn't as satisfied with being a thug as she acts.
  • Inner Monologue: Byron does this whenever he is alone. Usually it's tactical planning and combat advice, to the point that the Alt Text has called him "the Michael Weston of Arkerra."
  • Instant Seduction: Payet somehow knows how to do this. It might be because everyone believes he's an Epic Hero.
  • Instrument of Murder: Payet Best's guitar is both a literal and figurative axe. Penk uses his drum as a weapon with sonic waves strong enough to shatter eardrums. WAV can also use his keytar in combat via Magic Music, at least against the Eldritch Abomination summoned by cultists, since its form is disrupted by rhythmic harmonies.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: The likenesses of the characters from Hijinks Ensue show up in chapter 9.
  • It's All About Me: Payet really, truly believes himself the only one that matters in the group. So when his destiny is revealed to him...
  • Jerkass: Payet Best. He even unlocks an achievement for it.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: A lot of what Miyamoto says about adventurers is harsh-but-true.
  • Jive Turkey: Frigg throws around ImageBoard slang, mutated memes, and creative profanity in a fantasy setting with an otherwise solid fourth wall. She's like a /b/tard trying to play a paladin.
  • Kill the God: Three examples, two in rapid succession:
    • Frigg manages to defy and ultimately kill the god of defiance (Insanity Wolf) that powers her. When offered a chance to take his place in his pantheon, she refuses.
    • In the climax, Tectonicus is killed by HR Daedalus, who at this point has ascended to the Realm of Being and has become nearly omnipotent. Daedalus is in turn killed by the combined efforts of the five (who kill his form in Arkerra), and a repentant Carol, who unplugs his life support in the Sepia World.
  • Killed Off for Real: The cultists' monster seems to be able to do this, since we see Rachel's player trying to get the Kingdoms of Arkerra tech support to restore her mysteriously deleted character.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: An attack on Gastonia involves calling one to the port with a horn that apparently sounds like a kraken mating call. Fortunately, Bandit gets the horn that called it and sends it back out to sea before it can do much damage.
  • Last of His Kind: Gravedust finds out he is the last remaining Mystic of his people. Their leader killed the rest.
    • Magda ends up becoming a new Mystic in the epilogue.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Payet, when fighting the huge pirate.
  • Life Energy: Gravedust can count enemies through walls by sensing it.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: A single epic spell effectively managed to kill mountains of kobolds as well as unbalance the supply and demand of kobold hides.
    Sundar: Just because they got unbelievable mental self-discipline and control powers that would drive an ordinary person insane, they think they're better than us.
  • Logical Weakness: The Gnomish War Machine is stolen and taken on a rampage through Gnometown. The gnomes defending their town immediately surround it and go for its vulnerable treads to keep it from escaping, while Frigg climbs up the side, bashes open an access hatch, and tears it apart from the inside. While it's a terrifying siege engine capable of doing a lot of damage, its only weapons are its mass and a pair of hammer-arms, and as a result it's not terribly effective at defending itself against footsoldiers, or in a confined area.
  • Lost in Character: Byron, Syr'Nj, Frigg, Gravedust, and Payet are all really five online gamers who are so immersed in the virtual game they're playing in that they actually think they are their characters.
    • Which, as it turns out, they are. In the end, they're more connected to Arkerra than they are to Sepia World, which causes HR's attempt to stop them by reminding them of their origin to fail miserably.
  • Made of Iron: Frigg, all the way. Not only is she the party's designated "meatshield", but after being captured by the Sisters of the Bloodshot Eye and beaten and tortured so badly her face looks like bloody hamburger, she's still talking trash and making jokes.
  • Martial Pacifist: Syr'Nj left her nature-loving, isolationist home to join the military of expansionist Gastonia in hopes of finding a way for Wood Elves and Humans to live in harmony.
  • Masked Luchador: Auraugu is clearly modeled after one.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": After a highly explosive item ends up in an active volcano by accident, four of the five heroes present display some rather impressive Oh, Crap! expressions. The fifth, Gravedust, sticks with one that seems to say You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!...
  • Meaningful Echo: "You have a choice." Syr'Nj says it first when trying to calm a berserk Byron. He later repeats it to her to get her to release Graiya's Bough.
  • Meaningful Name: All of the party. Seriously, how are you supposed not to become a criminal when you're called Bandit Keynes? Her name wasn't originally Bandit.
    • Word of God says that Bandit is her job title in the recent Q&A.
  • The Medic: Syr'Nj.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Played with.
    Sundar: [getting a shot of truth serum] SHE'S TORTURING MEEEEEE! [after the shot takes effect] ACTUALLY, IT WAS ONLY A MINOR PINCHING SENSAAAAATION!
  • Missed the Call: Payet fulfills almost all the requirements of a prophecy made by a mad woman in the town and is declared the "Epic Hero". The real Epic Hero (who fulfils the one requirement Payet missed) shows up after a few days, but the mad woman has a heart attack right after, due to the strain of shouting "THE PROPHECY!" over and over.
  • Musical Assassin: Payet, if you can call fighting with a half-instrument half-axe killing with music.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The final stop on the party's guided tour of the World's Rebellion camp is the "death pit."
  • Noodle Incident: The events leading up to the Flooding Prison Incident seem to have turned into this.
  • Nuns Are Spooky: The Sisters of the Bloodshot Eye are evil nuns that wield rulers with razors on them.
  • Obvious Pregnancy: Payet leaves behind many women in this condition. Jerkass.
  • Oh, Crap!: Harky goes from laughing and mocking the party to panicking and screaming for someone to get him out of the death pit when Byron starts berserking.
  • The Omniscient: The Snow Elves. They even know the world is a warped copy of another world.
  • One-Hit Polykill: One arrow, two cultists.
  • One-Man Army: While a complete douchebag and all around jerkass, Payet had taken on literally hordes of enemies single-handedly without so much as a split end.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: At first, seemingly played straight by Gravedust. Something-hammer last name? Check. Big beard? Check. The Comically Serious? Check. Standard dwarf.
    • However, later we learn that dwarves are desert nomads who have been driven from their mountains. Furthermore, their women are lustful, their children don't respect authority, and, most atypical of all, some of them DON'T HAVE BEARDS!
    • Gravedust isn't your typical armored hammer/axe warrior either. He's some kind of shaman/archer who can speak with the dead and ask them to lend their strength to his arrows. However, the impression he gives of much the rest of his race is that of more traditional dwarf warriors.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Sky elves, Winter elves, Shit elves (although that's just the colloquial name) and Wood Elves (who are technically plants).
    • Also, Wood Elves supposedly have root-like feet viewed as awkward by other races (if they know it exists at all).
  • Our Orcs Are Different: They're very apelike and seem to be viewed as on close to the same level as animals, to the point where even the people rebelling against Gastonia's Fantastic Racism treat orcs as slave labor. Whether or not the perception is accurate, however, is still unclear. At the very least, they're smart enough to comprehend the idea of working hard in exchange for not being beaten.
    • In the final chapters, they're shown to have built a town of their own, so they're certainly at similar levels of intelligence to the other races.
  • People Jars: The players controlling the main party(minus Bandit, plus Best) are on life support in these.
    • Though, it turns out they've likely been braindead on the Sepia World end since being injected into Arkerra.
    • HR Daedalus voluntarily enters one when he enters Arkerra proper.
  • Plant Person: Syr'Nj and other Wood Elves.
  • Platonic Cave: Discussed by HR Daedalus. He also extends the metaphor of the cave further, suggesting that the world outside the cave ("the realm of forms") is itself a shadow of a "realm of being" that, if accessed by someone of a lesser realm, would provide them with the power to manipulate existence itself. Accessing this realm is HR's ultimate goal, one he nearly succeeds at at the story's climax.
  • Punctuation Shaker: Wood Elves fall under the "apostrophe as a universal stand-in for vowels" version.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Rachel gets one from Scipio when she fails to give it her all to protect her friends from her former sisters, resulting in E-merl being kidnapped and Frigg being poisoned.
    Scipio: Faith's your strength, but your prayers are lacking muscle lately.[...]Which endangers us all. Didn't know you cared so little about us.
    Rachel: I care everything for you! You are my broth—comrades! You let me do works of good and greatness!
    Scipio: And yet we mean no more to you than anyone else.
    Rachel: Of course you do!
    Scipio: So "loving all others equally" is actually impossible. Sounds good on parchment, but you never practiced that doctrine. Ever. You just made it an excuse when kissing E-merl got too scary. And now he's about to be hunted to death. I can't save him on my own. You love us? Fuckin' prove it.
  • Religion of Evil:
    • The Countless Limbs are a deceptively massive cult that worships death and seeks the end of all life. The rank-and-file are kind of lousy and some were forced by their parents to become cultists.
    • Our Lady of the Perpetual Bloodshot Eyeball may also count.
  • The Reveal: Following the Bolivian Army Cliffhanger at the end of Chapter 8, Chapter 9 begins with a shift of focus to Payet, summoned to a new quest. Then the perspective zooms out to reveal a man watching him on a computer monitor. The watcher turns out to be the CEO of a MMORPG company.
    • Done again in Chapter 45: we learn from the Snow Elves that Arkerra is a copy of another world, one HR Daedalus copied then warped to his purposes.
  • Running Gag: The Alt Text makes a lot of "But can X see why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch?" jokes.
  • Save the Villain: When the Champions are attacked by the corrupting beast, several of the Peacemakers have just tracked it to them. They find themselves up on a cliff overlooking Penk and Magda's attempts to fight it. Sundar is all for leaving them for it, but everyone else insists on intervening. Even Frigg points out that no one deserves that fate.
  • Schizo Tech: The majority of people use medieval arms and armor, but gnomes employ guns and a lot of Clock Punk-inspired devices that far outstrip the rest of the setting's technology, including autonomous fighters good for war or training, and massive house-sized tanks. Then you have massive dirigibles providing bomber support, Rendar's flying machine and white phosphorous grenades, goblin Hammertanks, and Goblaurence's rocket launcher that he put together out of battlefield scrap. Though, a fair bit of it seems to be Magitek.
  • Science Hero: Syr'Nj is the party's Combat Medic — not through traditional holy/nature powers, but through an array of drug-filled needles and good old-fashioned paramedic training. Her goal is to show humans (and her father) that science and nature can work in harmony.
  • The Scream: Syr'Nj pulls this twice, once at the end of the side adventure in the first chapter and again in the guest comic linked as Ship Tease on the YMMV page.
  • Screw You, Elves!: While supposed an ancient, powerful and all advanced civilization, the Sky Elves where easily cowed by Frigg after she had enough of their pretentiousness. Even Syr'Nj told them that it would be better to get in a good relationship with Gastonia before... they get diplomatic.
  • Shark Man: The Land Sharks are all this.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Frigg. Consider a sample inspirational speech.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Big time, when Payet Best is hailed as a hero in a small town in which he tried to get work. Given the sheer randomness of his origin, he's a surprisingly competent adventurer, not that this makes him any humbler.
  • Sky Pirate: Aerial Piracy. Couldn't be more proud.
  • Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence: The world of "Kingdoms of Arkerra" seems to be between Level II (Background NPC) and Level III (for the foreground NPC)... unless it's a typical mmorpg which would make them Level I that look like level III.
    • With the reveal that Arkerra is a totally real world, not simply a very advanced video game, it seems to be moot.
  • Start My Own: The effectiveness of the Gastonian Peacemakers was not lost on Harky, especially after the miserable defeat in B'ial Vezk, so in response he put forth a call to arms for a team of champions that would serve the World's Rebellion, one member from each race. It worked. Extremely well.
    • And when the Peacemakers and the Champions worked together, they ended the war in two moves: first, challenging Harky's authority to bring the Peacemakers into the fold, then going straight for Gastonia.
  • Stealth Pun: In this strip, the party suggests sending the "best" amoung them first. Payet Best is part of the group.
  • Super Window Jump: Byron makes a dramatic entrance to draw the attention of the Sisterhood of the Perpetual Bloodshot Eyeball when the party comes to break Frigg out. Apparently Byron is familiar with the move, calling it a "simple yet impressive maneuver" to throw your enemies and build your confidence up. However, that is merely a diversion which allows the team to sneak in through a side door.
  • Surpassed the Teacher: Penk to Harky, in a combat to determine who will lead the World's Rebellion.
  • Talking Weapon: "I swear, not even my own sword appreciates me."
  • Title Drop: In the Alt Text of this strip. Best later drops the title as part of a song of inspiration to everyone before the final battle.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: "The Five," Byron, Syr'Nj, Gravedust, Frigg, and Payet, may be heading for this as they are the only players of Kingdoms of Arkerra who are so immersed in the game that they believe it's their reality. The other player characters are a bit weirded out that "The Big Four" never break character or seem to understand that there is life outside of Arkerra. Ultimately played with: their identities in Arkerra are completely real, even though they indeed started as testers for the VR version of Kingdoms of Arkerra.
  • Tomato Surprise: The beginning of chapter 9 let us know that none of the adventures are "real" but its an extremely advanced experiment in virtual simulation for the online Game "Kingdoms of Arkerra" and the adventure group to be volunteers that are incapable of turning it off. HR's comments pose a philosophical question of "what is real?" when he implies Arkerra is indeed a real place, one that he 'found' through the game. He likened it to a sculptor, revealing a statue that was always in the block of marble.
    • It is indeed a real place, albeit one that's a copy made of another world...a copy that HR indeed carved to his purposes.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Byron, upon seeing the ruins of Leafport.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Byron, after returning from the TPK in which he finally proved his epithet and took out two party members and nearly his love interest. Complete with bird pecking his head.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: You're my bitches, bitches!
  • Unsound Effect:
    • After Best's fight with Byron, the "sound effect" for Frigg's shrug was "INDIFFERENCE".
    • Earlier, after Bandit proves Byron right: "SMUG"
    • Syr'Nj's smile, after she and her cohorts receive a diplomatic appointment, has the "sound effect" of "KA-PEACE!"
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Payet seemed like a pretty nice kid before a whole town convinced him he was the The Chosen One and showered him with gifts and easy women.
    • After finally being forced to accept that he's not some kind of prophecized, infallible, undefeatable hero, he becomes pretty subdued. When Byron offers forgiveness and friendship for it all, he embraces it, and his nicer traits are finally brought to the fore while his more selfish ones are discarded for good.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Twice, once when Carol disposes of a body and once when Frigg is poisoned.
  • We Need a Distraction: Turns out killing the entire crew is an efficient distraction.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 8 ends in a Total Party Kill.
    • And just four pages into Chapter 9, we learn it's all a MMORPG...Or is it?
    • Chapter 25 has one of HR's employees accidentally find his way into HR's secret lab, people jars and all. HR, who up to this point had mostly been struggling to make any real progress toward his plots, murders him in cold blood, cuts off the man's arm, and in a later chapter uses it to fuel a dark ritual that puts a copy of himself inside Arkerra.
    • Chapters 35 and 36. Rachel is erased by the corrupter beast, and Byron is captured and "killed" in a way that reawakens his Berserker Madness worse than ever before. He attacks a nearby cultist village, which the Adventurer's Guild was investigating, and spreads the Madness around. The ensuing carnage ends with the death toll in the dozens, including at the minimum Rabbit, a number of the Kickstarter characters, and Byron himself. Damn.
    • Chapter 38, page 4. HR Daedalus, the "creator" of World of Arkerra enters the plane of Arkerra with all of his godlike powers, as the end result of his massive nihilism.
    • Chapter 39: Over in the real world, Scipio's player Kaye is murdered by HR's thug.
    • Chapter 45: We finally learn Arkerra's true nature: a copy created of another, very real world, warped by HR's magic into what it is now. And apparently, the five's existence across multiple realms make them the only people that can possibly stand up to him.
  • Why We Cant Have Nice Things: "Adventurers?! That's why we can't have evil things!"
  • The Worf Effect: Byron is billed as "the Berserker" and generally treated as the most competent member of the group, but he's usually also the first to go down (one way or another) when things get sufficiently serious.
  • You Mean "Xmas": Almost every race seems to have its own holiday around the winter solstice.The Gastonians have Axemas, as well as a Passing Day for giving gifts to the poor. The gnomes have (well, had) Spanner's Eve, the trolls have a Tectonicalia (similar to the Saturnalia in Ancient Rome), the Savasi dwarves have an Olympics-like competition, and the gnolls have another gift-giving holiday called Traal. Both the puns and the coincidental timing of the celebrations make perfect sense once it's revealed where Arkerra came from.