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Webcomic / Tellurion

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"A story told through visuals."
Matt Rhodes

Tellurion is a fantasy webcomic about a guy, a girl, a robot, and a quest for an ancient sword, all told without words. The Robot saves the Guy's life, and the two begin travelling together, eventually adding to their posse and gaining momentum for the Quest to find the sword. Their world is surrounded by a great mechanical apparatus that provides both sunlight and moonlight, and is filled with ancient carvings and ruins hinting at an ancient and sophisticated society that ruled the world long ago.

Started as a personal side project by professional artist and BioWare senior Art Director Matt Rhodes, the story is expressed through digital paintings without any dialogue and containing no written descriptions.

This webcomic provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Hand-Hold: Between the Guy and the Girl in the secret precursor city they discover.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: The Girl finds one through a secret door in the side of one temple.
  • Adventure Duo: For the first 60 pages the only principal characters are the Guy and the Robot.
  • Alien Sky The sky is like a great glass dome, which through a cloudless sky has visible celestial-sphere like markings. The moon and sun are large round illuminated orbs, which move on rotating frames inside the dome. It's no coincidence then the whole thing is like a tellurion, a type of mechanical clock that shows the positions of the sun and moon.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: The Robot and Guy appear with knitted blue garments after helping an old lady carry jugs of water.
  • And Your Reward Is Edible: Early in the story the gang of thieves sneak into a village to steal the contents of a large box, only to realize its just a small collection of food. They stuff their faces anyways.
  • Animal Motif: many secondary characters are designed after different animals. Ship's crew members look like sea creatures, and gang member who betrays the Guy resembles a rat.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Blood is scarce to be seen. One of the worst injuries shown is when the Guy gives a bandit a very badly broken arm.
  • Continuity Nod: The flower the Guy tries to give to the Girl is the same kind as the one fetched by the protagonist in Matt Rhode's short story The Hero for the Anthology Project.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: A Church Guard sneaks up on the Guy and Girl as they return to the ship. The ship crew sneaks up on him before things get bloody. Apparently there were a lot more Guards, but they got taken care of, too.
  • Close-Call Haircut: The Guy gets a haircut after it gets partly burned off in the first village.
  • Corrupt Church: The Guards work for some kind of religious body that collects tithes from worshippers. The Guards aren't very nice, appear to be much better off than other villagers seen.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The ancient sword. The Robot carries its hilt and handle, but the blade is missing.
  • Diving Kick: The Guy delivers one strong enough to break a Guard's back.
  • Eye Scream: When trying to save the Girl, the Robot gets stabbed by the guards, losing an eye.
  • Faceless Goons: The church guards. Their first appearance where Robot isn't running away from them, is them forcing a prisoner (the Girl) to work as an interpreter, under threat of sword.
  • Facepalm: Robot's reaction to the Guy's failed attempt at stealing some fruit.
  • False Friend: No members of the gang seemed pleased to have the Guy around. At the first sign of trouble, they betrayed him to run away.
  • Flat World: The world appears to be a tropical archipelago, on a disc inside a large semi-spherical apparatus.
  • Flowers of Romance: A small desert flower is the Guy's first try at wooing the Girl. From her reaction it wasn't exactly a good attempt.
  • Goddamned Bats: Robot emerges from the sea covered in flesh-eating worms and crustaceans. To any normal person the experience would be somewhere between disgusting and terrifying. To the Robot its just annoying.
  • Guile Hero: Given the opportunity to train with the Robot, the Girl refuses. She prefers to rely on the methods that have carried her so far: her ability to explain, draw, chart out their quest, and effectively avoid being noticed by locals.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: All of the actions by the main characters go largely out of notice by local authorities and villagers.
  • Had to Be Sharp: Robot doesn't hold back as it trains the Guy. The Guy draws blood from a head injury, even though they are practicing sword-fighting using only wooden sticks.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: Robot works on the ship by catching fish. Or rather, using its shiny self as bait and luring them to the surface, which may or may not include getting eaten in the process. It should be noted that these fish are typically the size of a car.
  • Hot-Blooded: The Guy. The more even-tempered Robot has to hold him back on occasion.
  • Important Haircut: When the Guy joins the Robot to start a new life, his hair is fully cut off to begin growing back.
  • Improvised Training: The Guy has a knife and no skills, so the Robot teaches him to fight using tree branches.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: The Guy leads a pretty hard life, harder than the Robot or Girl, but all the circumstances seem to be toughening him up.
  • Large and in Charge: The Girl's ship captain friend is the biggest and heaviest character seen so far.
  • Lost Technology: If the tellurion mechanism that runs the day/night cycle, or the Robot itself are anything to go by, the precursors were very advanced. However this entirely goes beyond the notice of most of the people in the world since they appear to be stuck somewhere in the pre-Industrial era technology-wise.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Both the Girl and the Guy have teared up upon realizations about the history of the ancient sword.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: As soon as the Girl shows her maps to the ship captain, he and his crew are instantly driven to help in the Quest.
  • The Needless: The Robot doesn't need air, protection from the elements, sleep, or food. Still, it accommodates its human companions, becoming an umbrella or pulling along rafts when it needs to.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: The gang of thieves the Guy was a member of, immediately throws him before the villagers when their burglary and failed escape is discovered.
  • No Name Given: The artist has stated they all do have names for the purposes of how he writes, but it is unlikely he will ever reveal them to the public. So, the main characters are given the nicknames of "Guy", "Girl" and "Robot", though some fans refer to the Robot as Bronze Forehead.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Many. A running gag in fact, due to the particular snapshot-moment style of the comic itself.
  • Precursors: The tellurion is littered with platforms, temples, buildings and pillars that have cylindrical and curved shapes, and stylized metallic engravings, all in very similar stylings to the sun and moon orbs, and the Robot's head.
  • The Quest: The Robot wants to find the ancient sword, before the church Guards do. The Guy and Girl join him in this objective.
  • Rip Tailoring: The Guy wears only badly worn tattered clothes until well after joining with the Robot.
  • Robot Soldier: The Robot's helmet is nearly identical to the appearance of the guards, and is the most skilled fighter.
  • Scenery Porn: A big beauty shot of the local area happens on a regular basis, underscoring the breadth of the tellurion.
  • Schizo Tech: One of the prettier examples of the trope. The tellurion was built by some pretty advanced precursors, but the present day society that lives on it isn't much more developed than the Iron Age. With the exception of the Robot.
  • Secret Underground Passage: The Girl can figure these out with ease at the precursor ruins.
  • Sequential Art: Small snapshots sans dialogue express the whole story. It primarily relies on Reaction Shots to advance the plot.
  • Shirtless Scene: While working the ship deck, the Guy has one. And how!
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: The Guy takes on new articles of clothing as he learns and helps those around him. Robot gave him a belt and armor, an old lady gave him a knitted sweater, and the Girl gives him new boots.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The Girl is the only major female character so far.
  • So Much for Stealth: As the Guy's thief gang is eating, the Robot emerges from the sea and intentionally has the alarm raised.
  • Symbolically Broken Object: The ancient sword. There are many engravings in the world showing it's importance somehow, but all of them are broken or destroyed in such a way that the blade itself remains missing. The Robot and Girl apparently know something of what it looks like.
  • The Smart Girl: The Girl, natch.
  • Took a Level in Badass: When the story began, the Guy was a runty loser, part of a gang of loser thieves. Later when the Girl is threatened by bandits, we see what stuff the Guy is capable of.
  • Threatening Shark: Sharks, which must be fended off by poor the poor hapless Guy as the Robot drags his raft along.
  • Training Montage: There's noticeable time compression between when the Robot first offers to train with the Guy, and their first encounter with the Girl.
  • Treasure Map: The main thing the Girl does is write maps and sketch the precursor buildings. The maps themselves make the Robot and the Guy very excited, and presumably are the information the Church Guards were after when she was imprisoned.
  • Walk, Don't Swim: Why swim when you don't need to? This is the main way the Robot moves between islands, until the Girl gains a ship and crew.
  • Walking the Earth: In search of someone, anyone, who knows anything about the ancient sword, this is what the Robot has been doing for an unknown amount of time before the comic begins.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: One of the ways the Robot hardens up the Guy is by encouraging basic manual labor, like carrying giant pots of water for some old lady, or swabbing the poop deck.
  • Will They or Won't They?: It's a bit bashful on both their parts, but the Guy and Girl seem possibly in each other.