Rumors of War is set in a world inspired by Mythical Greece, and falls somewhere between Alternate History and Historical Fantasy with a dash of Heroic Fantasy.
The original webcomic was episodic in nature, making frequent use of time skips to cover the time (a year and a half) in-universe of its release schedule. The comic ran 500-some pages across 5 major story arcs from 2010-2011 before it went on hiatus mid-chapter into its sixth arc. The author returned to finish said chapter several months later.
Following a successful Kickstarter in January 2014, the comic was revived with new characters and a new format. The new webcomic is scheduled to run a full year (going into the first part of 2015).
In addition to the webcomics, there are several pieces of short fiction (character "vignettes" and an aborted serial novel) set in roughly the same time and place as the first comic.
Rumors of War (2010-2011)
In the wake of the War of Thessalonian Independence, also known as the Third Trojan War, a magical society struggles to right itself as it sinks into a period of decline. The palatial estates of the bronze age demigods are abandoned as a people return to a lifestyle from a simpler time while fleeing the onslaught of iron age pirates, slavers, and marauders.Probably best described as a a Situation Dramedy, or perhaps a Forensic Drama with magic (in mythical Greece!).
The pages themselves are formatted to resemble screen caps from an SNES-era video game, and so the action is carried by questions, questions, mysteries, talking, questions, questions, questions, and more questions.
This webcomic (and its related media) provide(s) examples of:
- Action Girl: Elysia and Illyra are shown capable of defending themselves in the comic — this is extended to Occela and Aleska since the inclusion of the vignettes. See also, Mysterious Waif, below.
- After-Action Report: Chapter 3 includes a more literal AAR presented by one of the characters in the form of a journal. In a grander sense, Rumors of War could be seen as the "Story After Action Report" of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign with Egregious amounts of Artistic License.
- After the End: The stories take place after the Trojan War devastated the kingdoms of the Aegean Sea.
- Alternate History / Historical Fantasy
- Amazon Brigade: The main cast. They even have The One Guy Nenshe. (Unless you count Obadai, Lumino, and Thiago...)
- Anachronism Stew: The setting is a progressive, magical, Bronze Age society. A Wizard Did It helps somewhat.
- Artistic License: A Sprite Comic with a Classical Mythology backdrop. License and registration, please.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Many of the character and place names. See Naming Conventions below.
- Bloodless Carnage: You won't find a drop of blood in this webcomic, true to the JRPGs that helped to inspire it.
- Break the Haughty: Most of the cast go through these moments regularly to prevent their heads from getting too large. Occela seems mostly immune, if only because her status as Cloud Cuckoolander / Mystical Waif prevents her from ever getting particularly full of herself. See below: Passive-Aggressive Kombat (See also: Jews Love to Argue)
- Elysia — "I don't do weddings/festivals/etc." Also Once an Episode.
- "I try/I do try/I do so try/I try hard to do so." He wants you to know how hard he works.
- "Nothing is free." He had to work to deprive you of your hard-earned rewards.
- Occela — "I don't know what that means." A Shout-Out.
- Classical Mythology: Borders on this and Mythopoeia.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Implied to have been used on Benito by Meteon. Devoted father who did what he had to do or Designated Villain?
- Con Man: Nenshe probably qualifies, being of the Hustler variety. Chapter 3 sees him preparing for a short con, and chapter 5 sees his plan in action. How well it works remains to be seen. He might very well be a budding Manipulative Bastard.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most of the main cast, to varying degrees. Particularly noticeable in Elysia, Illyra, and Nenshe.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Manaus. Comes complete with a Kubrick Stare In the Hood.
- Ensemble Cast / Rotating Protagonists: Combined with Two Lines, No Waiting and Time Skips to create a Cast-Go-Round.
- Face Stealer: One features in the first storyline, taking Couric's place, and is probably responsible for the disappearance of Penelo.
- Four-Philosophy Ensemble
- Nenshe, The Cynic
- Elysia, The Optimist
- Illyra, The Realist
- Occela, The Apathetic
- Frothy Mugs of Water: Under the effects of the lotus-tainted food, Illyra and the others experience giggle fits, scattered conversation threads, and an increase in hunger.
- Genius Bruiser: Illyra, thanks in large part to Waif-Fu.
- Greek Mythology (See also: Classical Mythology)
- Heroes "R" Us: The Order of Orion appears to fill this role, with the main cast being members. The conditions of their recruitment, and their duties within the Order have yet to be revealed. We mostly see the cast during their downtime, or when responding to personal threats or stuff that apparently isn't covered by the Order.
- Heroic Fantasy (Sword and Sandal): What happens when a group of Knights Errant and their Hitchhiker Heroes join forces with a Reasonable Authority Figure and settle down in one town?
- In the Hood: Manaus, introduced in Chapter 8 (returning in Chapter 12, and Chapter 20!) is this. Due to the quirks of the character's sprite, his eyes being the only thing visible is a creepy stare.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: Nenshe appears to be on one through chapters 26, 28, and 30.
- Kubrick Stare: It's hard to tell because it's just a sprite, but you can bet Manaus, sports one of these.
- Left Hanging is in frequent use with this comic. Stuff happens, the villain is foiled, the characters learn a valuable lesson, but there are lots and lots of things left up in the air.
- Literary Allusion Title: Probably. "And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet." —Mark 13:7
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Being based on Greek Mythology, the comic uses actual the lotus. (Well, food that's been secretly tainted by the lotus, anyway.)
- Low Fantasy: Treads a fine line between Low Fantasy and Heroic Fantasy (Sword and Sandal variant) with some strong Wuxia influences.
- Marijuana Is LSD: Averted with the lotus-tainted festival food.
- Mental World: We get a glimpse at Nenshe's mixed-up mind in the fifth arc. Included are mental projections of his teammates that serve as different accents to the voices in his head, and falls somewhere between Happy Place and Black Bug Room.
- Mind Screw: While low levels of Mind Screw exist in the dialogue throughout the comic, Nenshe takes a Journey to the Center of the Mind in the fifth arc, hallucinates, and talks to himself using his teammates to represent the different voices in his head.
- Mysterious Waif: No fewer than three, though it's difficult to tell due to the medium, Elysia, Illyra, and Occela all examples of mystical waifs.
- Mystical Waif: See Mysterious Waif, above.
- Naming Conventions: Named characters and places in the story have names with no more than 6 letters or symbols. This is a Shout-Out to the Hello, [Insert Name Here] feature of many early games that wouldn't allow more than 6-8 letter names.
- The Order: The Order of Orion, natch. Overlaps with Heroes "R" Us.
- Parental Substitute: Obadai seems to fill this role with respect to the teenaged Elysia.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Practically the only way the characters have of interacting with each other. See also: Jews Love to Argue
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The Order of Orion seems to be this, at least from the perspective of the characters. Also a great example of what makes the comic an Anachronism Stew. Adventurer's Guild?
- RPG Mechanics 'Verse: Attack and damage rolls (along with some Status Effects) make their first appearance in Chapter 6. They appear sporadically throughout the chapters, roughly Once an Episode.
- Sacred Hospitality: When Meteon and Elysia trade harsh words in Chapter 6, he tries to invoke this trope. It goes downhill after that. In the next chapter, we find out that Elysia is a priest of Hestia, so for her, Sacred Hospitality is Serious Business.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: When he isn't haranguing Elysia, Obadai seems curiously absent during the main action and drama of the story.
- Soap Wheel (see Two Lines, No Waiting, as well): The plot moves forward with regular jumps in time, and the characters are left to explain what happened in the meantime. The third story arc (Chapters 13-18) expands on the events that followed the first story arc (Chapters 1-6).
- Sprite Comic: Played with. The sprites themselves are original creations but the backgrounds are ripped from RPGMaker. It straddles the line between Sprite Comic and Pixel Art Comic and uses sprites to evoke the tone and style of old school console games.
- Strip Archive: The comic updates every day with an occasional bonus page at the end of the month, so there's plenty of comic for new and old readers to trawl.
- The One Guy: Nenshe is shaping up to be one of these when placed alongside Elysia, Illyra, and Occela.
- The Time of Myths: Hinted at but not shown. The characters reference monsters and gods, but none have appeared in the story thus far.
- Time Skip: One occurs before each new Story Arc, taking the characters ahead a couple months. See also: Webcomic Time.
- Trickster Mentor: Obadai exhibits quite a few of the qualities associated with the Trickster Mentor, among them his regular antagonism towards Elysia. His treatment of her is complex, as he also seems to fill the role of Parental Substitute.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: The first Story Arc assembles quite a few cast members, then splits to follow Elysia and Nenshe as they go about separate activities. Elysia goes on a routine information-gathering trip only for it to get hijacked by a mystery, while Nenshe goes about recruiting some fellow adventurers, which he does in the way that seems most natural to him.
- The second story arc follows a similar pattern of alternating between events that either the whole party, Elysia and Obadai, Occela, or Illyra.
- Webcomic Time: Each Story Arc spans a few days in comic-time but takes several months to play out in real-time, and each Story Arc begins a few months after the last one ended.
- Weird Trade Union: The Order of Orion appears to be a mash-up of several things: geographical/explorer's society, entrepreneur's guild, adventurer's guild. This in a time when the common-folk thought the sun was a chariot driven across the sky by a god. See also: The Order
- Whole Episode Flashback: Chapters 13, 15, and 17 show scenes that took place after the events of the first story arc.
- World of Snark
- Wuxia: Strongly influenced by Wuxia and The Time of Myths.