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Webcomic / Latchkey Kingdom

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Willa Dragonfly is too young to save the kingdom from monsters and evil-doers...
But she does it anyways!

Written and drawn by Nick Daniel and set in the fantasy world of his previous comic 70-Seas, Latchkey Kingdom stars Willa Dragonfly, a young adventurer-for-fun-and-profit who pays for groceries by Dungeon Crawling. It takes place in the Kingdom of Hilla, whose countless dungeons hold countless treasures that attract adventurers from all across the world.

The comic starts off as a parody of The Legend of Zelda and other fantasy videogames, but it soon changes focus from single-chapter game parodies to ongoing character-driven stories with an ever-expanding cast.

This webcomic provides examples of:

  • Abdicate the Throne: King Jeff abdicates to an impatient barbarian as an excuse to go on vacation.
  • Aborted Arc: Water Temple side story warped up when the sponsor stopped paying.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity: Rosaline tanks a snake bite for Zander and justifies it with this trope.
  • Adventure-Friendly World: The Kingdom of Hilla works on video game logic, dungeons are labeled with levels, strange beasts continually carve up new dungeons, and parental supervision hasn't been invented yet.
  • Adventure Guild: An alternative to Dungeon Crawling for professional adventurers in the Kingdom of Hilla. Quests are posted on the board in the morning, and range from gaining 20 Bear Asses to finding a lost cat to fighting a Titan. Hilla has a lot of adventurers, so the quests tend to run out immediately, causing a minor kind of Retail Riot.
  • Affectionate Parody: The foundational Worldbuilding principle.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: Bridget seems compelled to follow the Prime Directive by name. Certain words related to technologies in her original dimension are rendered as being scribbled out or as █████ █████. We don't know how this sounds, but it shocks Janus and Svana the first time they hear it.
  • All for Nothing:
    • In the chapter "Titan", Willa does manage to defeat the Titan... but the reward for doing so was so small, it wouldn't cover the cost of replacing the how-to guide she destroyed in the process.
    • Lenne is looking to buy a witch's hat, but first has to buy an entire outfit to comply with a store's "no shirt, no shoes, no service" policy only to find out the store doesn't have the hat, then finds it at another store but can't buy it because she doesn't have a witch license. She goes through a course to get a license and goes back to the store, only to find another witch on the course had already bought the hat.
    • Bridget's attempts to return home. In "Tourist" she and Willa go on a dangerous adventure to retrieve the "magic smartphone", but in the end Bridget is forced to use remaining charge to save Willa. In "Minion" Bridget works hard hauling potatoes only to waste the charge on shapeshifting to date Rex between chapters. In "Castlemania" Bridget and boys go on another dangerous adventure, but in the end she finds her ticket expired. In "Bridget and the Lost City" she travels to a city with an ancient temple for an artefact, but it's only capable of receiving, not emitting.
  • Alternative-Self Name-Change: When Willa Dragonfly gets copied, memories included, by a shadow creature, the latter decides to go by "Rose".
  • Anachronism Stew: Present Lady gives Willa a toy train for Xmas. She notices the anachronism and asks Willa to act surprised if a real one is invented.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Lenne is missing her left arm. This doesn't terribly effect her being a witch doctor, though her golf game suffers for it.
  • Anti Climax Cut: The Teaser in the chapter "Titan" ends with a mysterious traveler ready to to take on the Titan. The next panel shows Willa stepping in something red and gooey.
  • Asinine Alternate Activity:
    • In "Usurper," Zander drags Willa (level 5) into Posey Hill (level 1/2), a "dungeon" that's a meadow full of flowers and contains candy bracelets as treasure, instead of letting her go down into the level 25 dungeon that contains actual treasure.
    • The thimble museum and tacky tourist traps that Willa has to follow Bridget to are this, compared to killing things with her new sword.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Willa stabs the Titan in its weak spot like the guide told her to, causing a huge spurt of black blood. Unfortunately, the Titan is just so huge and tough that it can shrug it off, then it flicks Willa into the distance.
  • Badass Family:
    • The Dragonfly family features protagonist Willa, who regularly raids dungeons five times her level or higher, and her grandfather "Old Man" Dragonfly, who is one of the Kingdom of Hilla's greatest heroes and has saved it dozens of times.
    • There's also Joselyn D'arc and her daughter Jane, both accomplished henchwomen to the snake cult. Joselyn is one of the more involved parents in the series, in fact.
    • Ash's and Liam's older sisters are professional dungeon explorers too.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Ash normally wears bandages on the hand-like feet (glove-like toe-socks appeared in Xmas chapters). Demi-God Stella goes completely barefoot, even in snow, but doesn't particularly think anything of it.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: The king's assistant, who has to deal with a king who is willing to abdicate his throne to the first man who says he can do a better job.
  • Binomium ridiculus:
    • Rattas Dungeness, the dungeon rat. Diet consists largely of monsters and adventurers that have killed each other.
    • Pellicius Feria — intended to be "furry fairy".
    • Here are Fulgur Muris — "lightning mouse" (Pikachu) and Adventurix Juvenalia — Willa.
  • Block Puzzle: Deconstructed in "Jinx", where the giant stone blocks are far too heavy for a 13-year-old to budge, and she has to use the Key Under the Doormat to continue. Played straight in "Princess" — Zander loves solving them.
  • Blood Knight: Pyre Knight specialist Jalak Orphan really hates Shadows. Adult knights are more level-headed in that regard.
  • Bloodless Carnage: The Titan's remains seem more like rubble than gore, despite it bleeding earlier. Many "monsters" are mechanisms inhabited by Shadows, and when the adventurer breaks the monster, there's a glimpse of Shadows slithering away.
  • Blush Sticker: Many in the Lag race have prominent Blush Sticker-like fur patterns.note  Willa is unique in having an extra set, diagonally down and back from the ones on her cheeks.
  • Buffy Speak: Willa has no idea what a boomerang is. Neither does the narration, which refers to it as a "stick— err paddle-thing".
  • Burn the Witch!: The citizens of Hilla blame the Castle Witch (currently Svana) and start grabbing torches and kindling any time there's a crisis. "Lenne gets a Hat" reveals that to become a licensed witch, you need to be able to accept your death gracefully or else be very fast.
  • Cartoon Bomb: Ash has an affinity for explosives. They're introduced in "Titan" carrying a bag full of Cartoon Bombs to throw at intruders to their cave.
  • Cassandra Truth: First, nobody believed the tall tales Debbie told about her imaginary friend Chloe Placeholder. Then Rose met Chloe, and Chloe didn't believe Rose existed.
  • Censor Box: Used in the "tourist" arc as the protagonist's only clothes.
  • Chewbacca Defense: Used successfully by Starla in Galondria: Bug Hunt. The trial continues (briefly) despite convincing the judge.
  • City Mouse: Prince Zander is a pampered prince who doesn't help Willa with any of the chores of living on the land, but he's mostly just bored and a bad houseguest.
  • Clones Are People, Too: Rose is just as much a main character as her original, Willa Dragonfly. Nikol gives her a pep talk to reminder of that. Averted in the comic-within-a-comic "100% True Adventures", where she appears as a nameless monster.
  • Cloning Blues: Rose gets this fairly often. As a monstrous Shadow double of Willa Dragonfly, she can't speak, and she can't fight in dungeons because she can't hold a sword. She's called the original the real one a few times. It's more of a "Deep existential inferiority complex" than a "blues".
  • Colossus Climb: In the chapter "Titan", an Affectionate Parody of Shadow of the Colossus, Willa climbs the Titan twice. The first time was to try to kill it the "official" way, by stabbing its weak point, which failed. The second time, she planted a bagful of Sticky Bombs to it fur instead, to much greater effect.
  • Continuity Cameo: The protagonists of 70-Seas. Lewk first appeared in chapter 6 "Princess", but as of chapter 17 had no lines yet. Serra plays an important role in chapter 12 "Con Clash". Nikol joins the main cast in chapter 10 "Shade" as Debbie's skeptical assistant. Multiple secondary characters appear in side stories: Crystal Waters; Edward Mutiny; Mary Mendele and Debra Tudre; Hilde Magecrusher and black cat twins...
  • Cool Sword: The Master, a gold-plated sword at Janus's shop that Willa is infatuated with but can't afford. She nearly gets it a couple of times, but it always escapes her grasp.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: The death of Duke Desmond Hillis IV in the History of Hilla:
    Narrator: The duke died in an accident shortly after the birth of his first heir. And there was nothing suspicious about that at all.
    Grieving widow: Oh my— YAWN — my husband has been crushed.
  • Court Mage: Svana Blackheart, the Castle Witch of Hilla, is a rare example of a Court Mage who also has to deal with mobs who want to Burn the Witch!.
  • Covers Always Lie: Several chapter covers show scenes that would not appear in the chapter, get some important detail wrong or mislead reader on other ways:
    • "Jinx" cover gives the impression the rats are antagonists here.
    • "Tourist" cover puts the surface bird thing down in the dungeon.
    • "Minion" cover depicts Rosaline in chainmail(?) fencing practice suit rather than a frilly dress unfit for combat.
    • "Castlemania" cover has a pink tentacle (or a snake) that never appears in the comic.
    • "Con Clash" cover has the opponents that never met in the ring, although they were afraid they'd have to.
    • "Rose and the Thorn" cover seems to imitate Harlequin Romance cover. Rose never struck that pose and none of her friends were hung in a cage.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Round one of Willa vs. the Titan in "Titan". After evading and scaling the Titan, Willa manages to Attack Its Weak Point — at which point the Titan just No-Sells the attack and flicks her off.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Rose. Being a super-durable shapeshifter doesn't really help with Cloning Blues.
  • Cyberspace: The main conceit of "Quarter Heroes", Willa is found plugged into an Ancient Lag virtual reality pod; so Zander, Ash, Jane, and Rosaline go in after her and are turned into four palette swaps of Willa.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The book "Titans and You" states: "Use thy bow and arrow to gain the giant's attention...". Willa obeys. The building-sized Titan then notices her and starts chasing her.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Stella versus Elder Goddess Qthyl. The fight doesn't even merit a full page.
    Harold: grandmother always told us kids that if we ever saw a god, we should throw rocks to scare it away before it could spook the herd.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe:
  • Doing In the Wizard: Most of the evidence suggests that "magic" in the setting is a combination of Magic from Technology and weird flora/fauna.
    • "Wizards" salvage Lost Technology from underground dungeons and usually use them to tyrannize the populace.
    • Bridget appears to be a time traveling tourist but most of the cast think she's a fairy, and other accounts of fairies (such as Spar-Ao-Ky's lover) seem to match.
    • The various Physical Gods that appear seem to be all-too-killable by mortal adventurers, generally implied to be just cases of Giant Animal Worship. Though some, such as the Hekkhound Spar-Ao-Ky are smart enough to believe themselves to be gods, or at least play along. Harold even refers to gods as if they're pests that scare livestock.
  • Dress Code: Hilla Treasure Co's "No shoes, no shirt, no service" sign frequently causes inconvenience for the many shirtless barbarians and adventurers drawn to the kingdom's treasures. In one instance a witch looking to buy a witch's hat is forced to buy an entire outfit from them before they'll sell it to her (not that they actually have the hat).
  • Dungeon Crawling: A common occupation in the kingdom of Hilla (and the rest of its island). Willa (who is 13) regularly defies death to retrieve ancient treasures, then uses them to buy groceries.
  • Dungeon Maintenance: Hilla has so many dungeons that the responsibility is split between the Kingdom, the Dungeon Rats, and Yomunculi. At one point the dungeons are shut down for their winter ice-themed remodeling. In "Will Work for Water" we can see a sign "CLOSED 4 RESPAWN".
  • E = MC Hammer: Bridget's description of how time works for "fairies". Genius Bonus: this is a fairly well-known photo of a blackboard during a lecture on quantum mechanics. Namely, Schrodinger equation and its stationary solutions for a free electron and s-, p- and d-orbitals. They don't even mention time!
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The chapter "Jinx" was the first drawn. Many ideas are never mentioned again.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Rex, as a talking dog and the Royal Guard, feels patronized when Willa tries to bribe him with a Stock Femur Bone. He's willing to overlook her breaking into the Castle when given a Special Scratch-n-Sniff Issue of Maydog Magazine, though.
  • Evil Princess: Princess Rosaline attempted Inheritance Murder, poisoning her parents into a coma, for the crime of trying to conceive a male heir.
    • Freudian Excuse: Of course, she didn't "mean" it, she just assumed with all the poison training they forked on her since she was six, they would have enough poison resistance themselves to just be sterilized...
  • Evil Colonialist: The "History of Hilla" comic depicts the arrival of colonialists:
    Narrator: In 11344 Angelonian colonists arrived in Lagland keen to 'help' its residents
    Colonist leader: Hello we've come to civilize you!
    Lag peasant: We kind of invented civilization to thanks but no—
    Colonist leader: (reveals armed guard) You guys are really going to love monotheism.
  • Expressive Hair: Bordering on Prehensile Hair, when Rose gets angry, or pretends to be. After all, it's tentacles, technically.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Debbie gives herself a black eye playing with nunchakas.
    • The final enemy in "Carol" looses an eye to a falling stalactite after some Improbable Aiming Skills. In "Sluggers" she has both eyes intact, but with a scar around one.
    Debbie: I knew if I picked up a Red Ryder BB Gun™ that someone would be losing an eye.
    • In general, plenty of secondary characters have only one eye.
    • Subverted for Sonic expy in "Con Clash". He runs away after being hit in the eye, but only because his eye-shades broke and he feels shy about his Conjoined Eyes.
  • Failure Montage: In "Latchkey Souls: Capra Demon", there's a montage of Jane and Willa respawning after failed attempts to defeat the Capra Demon, showing Jane's cheery resolve turn into sobbing despair.
  • Faking Amnesia: Kyle was faking amnesia ("double" amnesia, i.e. having lost both his shadow and yuman memories) in order to get closer to Rose, who did forget most of her past as a shadow after copying Willa's memories.
  • Fan Web Comics: Setting aside the shoutouts to and heavy inspiration it takes from videogames, a few chapters are set in videogame universes with the main story's characters playing the roles of its characters.
    • There are two chapters about Dark Souls: "Latchkey Souls: Capra Demon", and "Latchkey Souls: Executioner and the Dragon Slayer".
    • A one-shot about Dark Souls II: "Latchkey Souls 2: The Twin Coffins".
    • The short chapter "LatchkeyBorne" takes place in Bloodborne.
  • Finger Poke of Doom: Debbie claims to know a deadly finger-poke technique. We don't get to see if it works because she misjudges the distance to her opponent and misses.
  • Foreign Queasine: Yoffrey's Yogurt Yurt seems to be an acquired taste.
  • Free-Range Children: It ain't called "Latchkey Kingdom" for nothin'. Most of the cast is 11 to 14 years old and we haven't even seen most of their parents. Many are gainfully employed full-time.
    • Considering Willa's and her grandfather's age, Willa and at least one of her parents were born to parents of about 14.
  • Funny Background Event:
  • Ghost Butler: Happens when Willa is ambushed by rats in the chapter "Jinx", as it's a parody of The Legend of Zelda.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Willa sleeps with a stuffed Dungeon Rat (bottom panel). Rose wants a stuffed pikimon(sic). Debbie travels with a stuffed shark. Starla has a bed overfilled with toys, but that may be yet another mask.
  • Glamour Failure: "Fairies" can shapeshift into anything, but they always have "bar code" stripes somewhere. The location of those stripes may change. Bridget cannot see her own stripes and doesn't even know of them.
  • Glass Slipper / The Girl Who Fits This Slipper: Invoked in the aftermath of "Double Date". Quite predictable from the page where Rosaline wears disguise and borrows Debbie's boots. After Liam almost recognized her while massaging her foot, Embalmer knocked him out and carried away, but Liam kept one boot. He wants every girl in the kingdom to try the boot on.
  • The Grand Hunt: The chapter "Boron", wherein Willa guides the Baron Boron and his Yes-Man servant as they hunt the giant Feenix for a trophy. It doesn't go too well.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: The Navi rip-off in "Jinx" is revealed to be an insectoid creature so horrifying that the dungeon rats and Willa abandon their stand-off to run in panic.
  • Handy Feet: Implied; Ash's feet are more like a second pair of hands, bearing finger-like toes, complete with one being opposable like a thumb. That said, they've yet to visibly use them like hands.
  • Healthcare Motivation: Subverted in the Minion arc, where Willa's kidnapper is quick to add that the "operation" is not of the medical sort.
    Jane: This is just a job to me. I'm only doing it because my mom needs money for her operation. (next panel) Well it's more of a scheme really. She swears she just needs H⃒500 to crack the Shadowwood cluck cluck races wide open.
  • Heir Club for Men: Princess Rosaline Lanistark poisoned her parents, the King and Queen of the Angelonian Empire, into a coma for trying to conceive a male heir.
  • Heroic BSoD: Rose experiences one when she discovers that she's a Shadow copy of Willa and not the original in the chapter "Shade".
  • Heroic Mime: Parodied. Willa got jinxed, and had to retrieve a potion from a dungeon before she could speak again. No, it wasn't a magical jinx, it was just two kids screwing around. But even in normal times, she doesn't talk much, see Terse Talker below. Subverted for Rose — she is mute, but talks a lot despite being Willa too — through writing.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": When a blankball game is formed and one team needs another player, the Ghosts of X-Mas are summoned and revealed to be teenage girls. The Ghost of X-Mas Past gets shanghaied and when the team asks her name, she explains she doesn't actually have a name and "Ghost of X-Mas Past" is technically a more of a title, so they call her Patty.
  • Hive Mind: Apparently some flocks of birds can form collective consciousnesses, like the Cluck Clucks, or Svana's mentor Murder. The nature of Grin as a "gestalt demon" is no longer a secret either.
  • I Am a Monster: Rose believes this about herself until Nikol uses The Power of Friendship to convince her otherwise.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Starla in "Stella and her Hærold". Her belief that Stella is a Wendigo is based on assuming the difference in an illustration of her and her actual appearance is due to shape shifting, and not artistic interpretation.
  • Interactive Narrator: Present only in chapter 2, "Jinx". It's largely responsible for giving Item descriptions, but it does give Willa a bit of advice at one point.
  • Judgment of Solomon: With an unorthodox solution (two if you count the abdication).
  • Just Smile and Nod: When the dungeon rats give Willa a piece of unidentifiable garbage as a reward for slaying the Navi rip-off, the Interactive Narrator advises her to just smile and nod to avoid being rude.
  • Kaleidoscope Hair: Rose's fur can noticeably change color over the course of a few sentences. It's somewhat correlated with her mood; when she's serious or sad, her fur turns black or dark gray, and when she's excited or happy, it can become saturated hues of purple, deep blue, magenta, and more.
  • Karma Houdini: Starla Starkin in Galondria: Bug Hunt. Despite willfully participating in a "business" that bags and assaults people who search for them, disturbing a town by Cobra Effect mass-breeding the same scorpions they were trying to get rid of, and misleading the judge in court, most of Starla's schemes do actually work. She gets beat up for her trouble, but just moves on to another scheme.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: "Holden" gets into a fight with an Etoese samurai just to prove that no, they aren't.
  • Key Under the Doormat: Willa isn't strong enough to move the blocks in the Block Puzzle, so she uses the spare key on top of the doorframe instead.
  • Kidnapping Bird of Prey: Baron Boron's servant is carried off by the Feenix while he's trying to hunt it. His reaction is disappointment that he'll have to find some replacement help.
  • Life Meter: One appears for Willa on the wall of a Boss Room in the chapter "Jinx". More appear above the players in the game created by Bridget's device.
  • Little Miss Badass: Willa, along with many other female characters.
  • Loner-Turned-Friend: Ash presents themself as a loner, to the point that they freak out when their sister appears and starts introducing herself as such, as it would mess with their image. Even so, they've developed a friendship with Willa after "working together" to defeat the Titan.
  • Look Behind You: Willa uses it twice in the chapter "Titan". As a very Terse Talker, her specific technique is to dramatically point up and to the right, and wait until the target's gaze follows. The first time, she uses it to distract the Titan. The second time, she uses it to distract the quest giver after he says she needs to pay for the book she ruined during the quest.
    • Willa's double doesn't fall for it, when Debbie tries it in "Shade". Then Debbie asks her to play along.
  • Loophole Abuse: Hilla Treasure Co. has a "No shirt, no shoes, no service" Dress Code, but that doesn't stop them from selling someone a complete outfit so they can shop there.
  • The Maze: The chapter cover pages have a circular maze background, representing the mazes of the dungeons below ground. Some of the early chapters include mazes that the reader can follow along with.
  • Minor Living Alone: Willa Dragonfly seems to be quite the responsible 13-year-old. Her grandfather (who is her only family) regularly goes off on long journeys that last months, and Willa is responsible for feeding herself in the meantime. It's more "Extremely Free-Range Children" than "Parental Abandonment".
  • Minor with Fake I.D.: Willa's "Hillan License to Adventure and Fish" shows her as being level 5, but she's scribbled on it so that it says 150 instead so that she can take higher level jobs.
    Quest giver: Wow, I didn't know levels went that high.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: In the side-story "The Toy", the titular Living Toy advertises himself as a "plaything for hire", drawing the ire of the local prostitution guild which doesn't like competition. After some explanations, he's hired into the guild's daycare to entertain the kids of guild personnel.
  • Moral Myopia: Starla in SahH. She genuinely believes her actions will "Stop anymore bad stuff from ever happening again". The instant this logic is questioned, she draws her blade.
  • Museum of Boredom: The Thimble Museum. Bridget thinks it's exciting for entirely unknown reasons.
  • Must Make Amends: After Willa breaks Ash's Titan trap by falling into it, Ash uses her guilt to talk her into performing their backup plan of planting Sticky Bombs all over the Titan.
  • Naked on Arrival: The protagonist of the "tourist" arc appears naked, much to her shock and dismay, forcing her to run to the nearest store for clothing.
  • No Face Under the Mask: Willa wakes up trapped in a jellyflesh bodysuit that won't come off, and covers her mouth. But when her friend tries to electroshock the suit off, it turns out there's nothing underneath: The jellyflesh construct has duplicated the wearer's identity before being driven off.
  • No Mouth: Rose has no mouth. This makes her mute, so she communicates by writing and she drinks through her fingers.
  • No Name Given: The Santa Expy that appears around Xmas. The main cast just calls her Present Lady. When she tries to tell her name, everybody is distracted by something else.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions:
    • In "Titan" Ash sets off a Cartoon Bomb next to Willa's head, and all that happens is she gets startled. Later, a bag full of dynamite is enough to reduce a multi-story Titan to bits, but Willa escapes only lightly singed by jumping at the moment of the explosion.
    • In "Cluck-Cluck Crisis" Ash makes a giant bomb that explodes surprisingly quietly.
    Ash: I figured you wanted to kill the monster without killing everybody else.
  • No-Sell: The Titan can No-Sell a stab to its weak point. It's significantly weaker to explosives, though.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: Starla Starkin in Stella and her Harold. She genuinely seems to have good intentions, but never questions the need to skin a live Wendigo.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Debbie's friend from the orphanage that everyone assumes to be imaginary, Chloe Placeholder, actually shows up in Con Clash.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Starla in Galondria: Bug Hunt. Unlike her previous appearance, Starla more willfully cherry-picks which wrong-doings and laws do and don't apply to her. In this case, she's aware that the scorpions are causing harm to the village, but accepts no responsibility for this as it's "not part of their business model".
  • Oh, Crap!: When Willa shot the Titan, and it responded by starting to chase her.
  • Old Master: Willa's grandfather, "Old Man" Dragonfly, has been continually adventuring since his youth. The kingdom is full of adventurers and wannabe heroes eager to take care of monsters, but when things get out of hand, they call up Old Man Dragonfly. His character bio says that he's saved the kingdom dozens of times.
  • One-Steve Limit: Invoked in the epilogue to the chapter "Shade". A lot of girls of Rosaline's age were named after her, and when the copy of Willa can no longer use her first name, having two Rosalines is awkward. She chooses the name Rose instead.
  • Organic Technology: Justified by the planet's unique geography with mobile islands providing isolation of species and occasional "cross-pollination". Rather subtle and mostly simple, but proves very widespread as the story progresses. Genetics hasn't been discussed so far, and everything seems to either be readily available in nature or require limited artificial selection. Examples include miraculous drugs (mainly of fungal origin), living lightbulbs, hiveminds, translating birds, loudspeaker birds, squids as Abnormal Ammo, and "jellyflesh," a Lost Technology that allows creating prostheses and autonomous self-replicating robots called "shadows".
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Werecats are large, anthropomorphic felines for most of the month, hulking berserkers during the full moon, nonanthropomorphic cats during a lunar eclipse, and normal yumans during the new moon. As seen in “New Moon Affair” there’s a number of ways to prevent or temporarily suppress the condition, but curing it is moderately difficult.
  • Painful Transformation: Shapeshifting in general is no problem for Rose and Kyle, but shapeshifting clothes specifically is revealed to be a rather painful process for those not used to it yet.
  • Parodies for Dummies: "Titans and You", a guide on how to kill multi-story giants written in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe.
  • Pass the Popcorn: After Ash sends Willa on a Suicide Mission to plant the dynamite (whose fuses they've already lit) on the Titan, they find a nice ledge to watch from and eats some popcorn as the explosion happens. (Willa turned out fine.)
  • Pet Gets the Keys: Invoked in "Castlemania". With a twist — the dog with the keys is a sentient Hound fully capable of talking and object manipulation. Though, he walks on fours and carries the key ring in his mouth. For added irony, he's marshal Rex, whom the captured teens should've contacted from the start.
  • Plunger Detonator: Ash's trap for the Titan is apparently triggered by having it step on a Plunger Detonator (though instead of using electricity, it merely lights up the fuses). We never get to see if it would work, because Willa falls onto it first.
  • Police Are Useless: Zig-zagged regarding Rex, the Police Marshal/only officer. In "Usurped", he's portrayed as too lazy to prevent the king from being usurped right in front of him, but later on, he's shown as highly effective at dealing with crooks and proactive with finding people lost in the Weird Woods. Either it's an instance of Early-Installment Weirdness, or he felt the king needed a vacation.
  • Policeman Dog: Rex, the captain of Hilla's royal guard, which is possibly the kingdom's only guard, is a sapient canine resembling a Doberman. He needs a Babel Finch to translate his barks and growls into Yinglish.
  • Porn Stash: Rex is seen reading dirty magazines on several occasions. In "Usurper", Willa bribes him with one.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Double-subverted in "Jinx". At first it zig-zags all across the room before disappearing down a hole. After several pages and most of a Boss Battle, it reappears and lodges itself in the Boss's throat at the perfect moment.
  • Puppet State: The "History of Hilla" arc explains the relationship between Hilla and Rosaline's kingdom. The Angelonian Empire colonized Hilla centuries ago, eventually one duke was able to use the treasure obtained by delving the dungeons built by their ancient Precursors to leverage Hilla into an independent kingdom, but one of his descendants overspent and had to call in the loans they'd made to Angelon in exchange for scuttling their fleet. Thus, they're dependent on their former imperial overlords for defense.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The dungeon rats. They'll eat your corpse if you die in the dungeon, sure, but otherwise they're usually friendly and help keep up the place. To an inexperienced observer, they may seem to have developed a culture; in reality, they're just a bunch of animals who like to imitate society. How far can this imitation take them, is the question of an ongoing (as of mid-2020) side story.
    • "The Present Lady" employs "little helpers" — white mice about as big and as smart.
    Debbie: Aha! Mice of unusual size. A tricky opponent, but easily overcome with some help from their natural enemy, the hawk of a particularly odd shape.
  • Self-Deprecation: Rose has told Willa that she's "the real adventurer" to encourage her. It didn't work and just made her uncomfortable.
  • Shapeshifting Lover:
    • After Bridget first transforms into hound form Rex asks her out, and they continue a relationship for a while with Bridget using most of her device's little power to shift between yuman and hound form for dates.
    • When Spar-Ao-Ky stumbles upon one of Rex and Bridget's dates he confides in Rex that he also had a relationship with a "fairy", but he wound up driving her away, and later found out she was with child (implied to be Stella, explaining her mix of yuman and "god dog" traits).
    • Willa gets a werecat boyfriend named "Charlie", who turns into a girl named "Charlene" on the new moon. After a failed quest to cure her they decide to continue the relationship despite that unique iteration of the curse.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat:
    • Prince Zander doesn't do any chores when he stays over at Willa's house for a night.
    • Princess Rosaline Lanistark is a Spoiled Brat in exile who has no concept of how to act like a commoner when she's disguised as one.
    • Zander and Rosaline easily persuade the snake cultists they're no threat:
      Zander: If only my life of privilege hadn't completely failed to prepare me for this crisis scenario!
  • Skewed Priorities: The reward for killing the gigantic level-60 Titan that forced a dungeon to be condemned is less than the reward for finding a lost cat, and less than the cost of replacing the how-to guide for killing it.
  • Smoke Out: Ash uses a smoke bomb in "Titan" to avoid having to pay for the copy of "Titans and You" they drew all over.
  • Soap Punishment: Krampus grabs a terrorist for swearing, and promptly uses the soap.
  • The Speechless: Rose, due to having No Mouth. She can only make unintelligible noises that are represented by uneven, scratchy vertical lines, so she communicates by writing.
  • Sticky Bomb: Ash makes a pile of sticky bombs to kill the Titan. They're just sticks of dynamite with some glue on the end.
    Ash: Make sure you space them out, I don't want a half-dead monster.
  • Sticky Fingers: The dungeon rats like to collect "treasures", which can be actual artifacts, or random junk they found and liked.
  • Suicide Mission: When Ash sends Willa to plant explosives all over the Titan. They fully expected her to die in the blast (as revenge for ruining their last trap), but she lived anyways because she jumped.
  • Symbol Swearing: The Judgment of Solomon-style argument between the mothers at the start of the chapter "Usurper" features a nice variety of typographical marks and pictures of snakes, skulls, daggers, etc. Disbelieving Nikol thinks images "bull" and "shit". Arguing nuns and Pyre Knights use typographic marks.
    Debbie: (being carried away) Lem'me go! Aww. Now I'll never find out what *@#% is.
  • Tautological Templar: Starla in Galondria: Bug Hunt. “We’re small business owners. We’re literally incapable of being wrong.”
  • The Teaser: The chapter "Titan" has one. It sets up a much more dramatic tone than the rest of the comic, featuring a Teaser-Only Character journeying to the Titan, and then facing it down, before ending with an Anti Climax Cut showing Willa stepping in some weird red goo, with the fate of the traveler left implied.
  • Technically Naked Shapeshifter: Yumans-turned-Shadows like Rose can't wear clothes without "twitching out"; they don't really have anything to hide anymore, but it still feel kind of weird being naked. Rose had to train herself to make her clothing, and judging by how many fancy dresses she wears, she's gotten really good at it. Until trained by Rose, Kyle had to walk around in a bedsheet, which was the only clothing that wasn't too uncomfortable.
  • Terse Talker: Willa, leading to some characters calling her mute, either seriously or in jest.
    Rosaline: I keep forgetting she can talk.
  • That One Level: invoked The Water Temple, a direct reference to The Legend of Zelda. It's revealed to be a gigantic maze that's unmappable because the water washes away the ink.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Prince Zander in "Usurped". Willa takes him in after his family is usurped/goes on vacation without him. He doesn't do any chores, keeps her up late, doesn't let her go into the dangerous dungeons, and throws a rock at some strangers and lets Willa take the blame. It only takes one day before Willa usurps the throne again just to get him out of her house.
  • Threat Backfire: Present Lady tells Willa that if she's naughty, she'll get nothing but coal. Unfortunately for Present Lady, the winter is cold, Willa is in charge of taking care of herself, and she has a coal furnace. Present Lady leaves with a black eye and a lot less coal, and Willa gets what her friends think is an awesome present.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: Appears in addition to Blush Sticker-like fur patterns on some characters. Rule of Cute is in full effect.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: When Rose is introduced, she and those around her believes that she's Willa, and has just been trapped in a suit made of Shade. When she finds out she IS the Shade, after the initial shock, she wants to find her original body to somehow return to it. Then her original body walks up to her and says "Hi", leading to her Heroic BSoD.
  • Totem Pole Trench: Phantom ("Phannie"), one of the adventurers in "Team Awesome".
  • The Tower: The Falling Tower. Long ago, the city of Hilla was the capitol of the largest empire in the world. They built automata called Shadow to do manual labor for them. Long after the empire fell and the secret to controlling them was lost, the Shadow started building a tower and didn't stop. They stole material from across the city to build it, and murdered anyone who tried to stop them. Whenever the tower gets too tall, it topples over and the Shadow start again. The destruction forced the city to be abandoned.
  • Translator Microbes: Babble Finchesnote  are small birds which listen for speech in one language and repeat them in another.
  • Trick Bomb: In "Carol" Ash and Willa coordinate their attack, the former starting with a flashbang.
  • Trolling Translator: The Babble Funch, not to be confused with the more helpful Babble Finch, is a large seabird who is incredibly rude and says whatever it wants under the guise of translating for Lexi.
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: The Living With Curses group. Those with unfortunate transformations, unremovable armor, or any other magical difficulty are welcome.
  • True Meaning of Xmas: Getting free stuff, of course! At least, according to Willa, Ash, and Debbie.
    The Present Lady: Stupid Randy, you told me you were on top of marketing the intangibles.
  • A Twinkle in the Sky: After Willa attacked the Titan's weak point, the Titan just No-Selled (No-Sold?) it and flicked her off into the distant caverns.
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: Phannie is two indistinguishable rats in one dress. At the end of "Team Awesome Debuts" the cat guy wonders if he can date them.
    CB: You don't thing it'd be weird to ask them out?
    Deane: Not for you, CB.
  • Unreliable Voiceover: In the Tourist arc, Svana explains to Bridget how she "chanced" upon her ██████████, but the images reveal she was actually stalking her and she actively sought the item as soon as she learned it was dropped.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Zander "helping" Willa has only led to disaster so far.
  • Visual Pun:
  • Walking Armory: Lance of the Thousand Weapons carries an impractical number of blades as his signature style.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: Quests are sometimes distributed in the form of Wanted Posters for particularly dangerous monsters.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Starla in SahH. Genuinely believes she will be able to predict the future and prevent bad things from happening in the future.
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: Debbie gets a pair of Nunchuks in "X-mas", and immediately hits herself in the eye.
  • Wild Card: Starla Starkin.
  • Worst Aid: Near the end of "Clover Towers" we see Starla's "first aide"(sic) kit: leeches, alcohol and a bone saw.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: In the Tourist chapter, Bridget pays for clothes with cards made of solid gold produced by her device. They also help the shopkeeper overlook Svana's insistence that she's a dangerous fairy here to kidnap people.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Starla in Stella and her Hærold. She knocks Harold unconscious when instructed by the cult leader, then tosses him against his mount's post. She apologizes for this, but draws her blade against him after being insulted.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: "Titans and You", a how-to guide on how to kill multi-story giants, features lines like "Find a place where thou art hidden".
  • Yes-Man: Mister Travis appears for three pages as Baron Boron's pack mule, during which time he laughs at his not-very-funny story, is used as a chair, and operates the pump for Boron's air gun, with a big smile and lots of flattery the whole time. When he's carried off by a large bird, the only words we hear before he leaves earshot are "Sorry, Baron ..."
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Rosaline uses and abuses this while fencing, as seen in the "Minion" arc.
  • You Mean "Xmas": Xmas features a white reindeer who delivers presents by sleigh (who is only ever referred to as "Present Lady"), a workshop with helper mice, three ghosts of past, present, and future, and The Krampus locked in the basement. There's also supposed to be a True Meaning of Xmas, but apparently Randy from corporate dropped the ball on "marketing the intangibles", so everyone's decided that it's about getting free stuff.

    There are four chapters about Xmas:
    • In "X-mas", Willa recieves a visit and a toy from Present Lady, but beats her up so that she can get the far more valuable coal.
    • In "Carol", Willa, Debbie, and Ash go to rescue Present Lady after she's been taken hostage by the Three Ghosts of Xmas.
    • In "Humbug", the Three Ghosts attempt to pull Yet Another Christmas Carol on the Beleaguered Bureaucrat Stonegrave, but fail badly because he knows exactly who he is.
    • In "Deb Hard", Debbie stops some Grinch-like monsters from blowing up Nikatomi Tower with bombs disguised as Xmas presents.