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Webcomic / The Gods of Arr-Kelaan

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The Gods of Arr-Kelaan is a fantasy/humor comicbook and webcomic series about The Travellers, a group of humans and aliens from our universe whose spaceship lands on the fantasy world of Arr-Kelaan. Over the following years they gradually awake to find they have been appointed the rightful deities of Arr-Kelaan and must learn to deal with the powers and responsibilities of godhood.

The comic has previously had two short arcs named "Myths and Legends" and "Going Home", one extremely long arc named "Consequences," and several short stories featuring minor characters. The author has stated that in the future there will be more arcs on a grand scale.


The Gods of Arr-Kelaan is written and drawn by Chuck Rowles, edited and proofread by his wife Martha, and colored by his brother Steve. It's currently on hiatus since Chuck has opened a comic shop. The world of Arr-Kelaan began as a homebrewed setting for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, written by Rowles's friend Leonard Zaikoski. The two projects gradually diverged, though are still mutually recognizable. The comic is set largely in the setting's Bronze and Iron Ages, though the setting stretches into a Modern Age with steam engines and railroads. More information on the setting can be found here.


This series contains examples of:

  • Abstract Apotheosis: Possibly the fate of the nature goddess, who seems to have given up physical form.
  • Akashic Records: Everything in Arr-Kelaan is projected to the dead lands. Claremont took advantage of this to create a library with all information ever written.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: It's not certain, but this appears to be what happens to mortal souls after the afterlife.
  • The Ageless: Any mortals who take up with a god, romantically or otherwise.
    • Mortals living in the city of the gods have this trait while there. As such, Claremont's wife remains ever young. Their daughter on the other hand started ageing naturally after she left.
    • Bikk grants one ever-full mug of ale (in the guise of Ronson) each to the two guards at the beginning of "Going Home". The guard who actually uses his ends up as Ronson's longest-lived follower because it turns out drinking regularly from a godly artifact keeps him forever young, even if the ale does kind of suck.
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    • This may also apply to Sephin, who is not a god, but possesses a mysterious connection to Arr-Kelaan and has lived for a long time.
  • A God Am I: They are former mortals turned into gods, but only Bikk and Salsmen have the attitude.
  • A God I Am Not: Ronson's mostly just in denial, while Mike spends several years thinking he's "merely" a superhero and discourages any kind of worship.
  • All Myths Are True: Pretty much all of Earth's gods exist, but the accuracy of myths is pretty low. Zeus and Odin: same guy.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Ronson to Beyurn, after revealing to her that they can raise the dead: "How many soldiers died for you, only to have you turn your back on them, Beyurn?" It gets her to reconsider her idea of a grand militaristic empire to bring order to the world, because she realized how callous she was being to her own followers, proclaiming herself a god and yet never even trying to resurrect anyone.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Ronson's personal belief and applies to any devout following of him. Of course, if they're devoutly following Ronson they're doing it wrong by definition. His proper followers are more intelligent, and far less devout.
    • Inverted with followers of Claremont. His religion is mostly scientists and inventors.
    • Most of the major-character gods avert or invert it, especially the good ones. They'd rather have followers who think and act to make the world better (in accord with their idea of what "better" is, of course) or at least leave it no worse, rather than just blindly worship. In some cases action is a form of worship.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Teased but generally averted with Ronson. Very rarely someone or something actually manages to get him angry, but he's still too nice and un-bloodthirsty a person to actually do any harm after the initial angry outburst. Doesn't mean he's a pushover, he's still a god.
  • Blessed with Suck: While the other gods rightfully think ascension was the best thing that ever happened to them, Ronson was half way to being a Death Seeker and absolutely hates knowing he's going to possibly live forever.
  • Blood Knight: Krushcor, though he's pretty nice about it. Also Thor who's even nicer about it.
  • Born Lucky: Sharra, goddess of fortune.
  • Bystander Syndrome: All Ronson wants is to be left alone and only gives his clerics power to shut them up.
  • Clark Kenting: Mike, when he decides to retire from superheroing, disappears into a crowd wearing glasses and regular clothes.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The pink rubber mallet.
  • Corrupt Church: The existence of these is part of why Ronson hates being worshiped.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Bikk has no problem with various underhanded schemes, after all he did once finance a pirate raid on a pleasure cruise. However he draws the line at anything that damages or risks the economy itself.
  • Council of Angels: There are no overpowering omnipotent deities, so the pantheons resemble this quite a bit. played completely straight in the Christian pantheon
  • Crossover Cosmology: The mutually exclusive cosmologies are handwaved by myths being really inaccurate.
  • Deader Than Dead: Any mortal soul that enters the Light cannot be resurrected. Their ultimate fate is unclear, but while many gods consider it a form of enlightenment, Ronson seems to consider it Cessation of Existence.
  • Death Is Cheap: Before Thanantria (the new goddess of death) put down her foot.
  • Death of the Old Gods: A major reason Arr-Kelaan chose the Travellers was to force the old gods to move out and find another world to prey upon.
  • Defector from Decadence: Brindle in "Going Home." Conscripted into Shrub's army, which was formed only so Shrub (as Beyurn's agent) could "pacify" the neighboring territories on a vague fear they might organize and invade someday. He despises himself as a coward (and becomes the Cowardly Sidekick on Ronson's quest to find the Traveller), but the nigh-suicidally depressed Ronson tries to reassure him:
    Ronson: I've never considered someone who chooses to live to be a coward.
  • Deity Identity Confusion: Odin and Zeus are actually the same god.
  • Deity of Human Origin: All of the Traveller Gods of Arr-Kelaan are former mortals that were empowered into gods by the world spirit of Arr-Kelaan.
  • Devil, but No God: Satan is a title for the god in charge of Hell, who imprisons other gods to serve as Living Batteries. But the world setting has no Top God, nor do the Council of Angels have any counterpart of their own. In fact, the very idea of an abstract Top God is essentially a fraud used to harvest all mortal belief into a great machine.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Krushcor and Beyurn are a Battle Couple.
  • Divine Date: Claremont's wife is a mortal, but granted eternal life as his consort. It's implied other gods have picked up mortal partners as well.
  • Divine Intervention: Obviously done by the main cast, not to them.
  • Divine Parentage: Claremont's daughter, Hazel. Notably, the child in question is entirely mortal, but had the gods themselves as tutors and so is a very formidable person.
  • Evil Twin: Loki intended to invoke this by splitting Sharra, the Goddess of Fortune, into two so that one would be good Fortune and the other Misfortune, and expected them to get into a fight. Instead they kicked his butt together because Sharra doesn't have any real problem with herself.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Kerrimachus claims to spread vicious diseases to strengthen mortal kind. Though Sephin's narration about him flunking medical school 5 times suggests there may also be an element of spite involved.
  • Fiery Redhead: Beyurn
  • Forced Prizefight
  • Genius Loci: Arr-Kelaan is alive.
  • Godly Sidestep: Used, subverted, and averted. Used with Sephin, who knows everything - but not all at once, and only Ronson and Claremont even seem to know about him to ask. Subverted with the gods themselves, who really don't know - Claremont encourages followers as much to have someone to search for the answers with, as anything else. And averted because we do get to discover explicitly what's going on with religion, gods, and the afterlife in the "real world" during the "Consequences" storyline.
  • God of Evil: Salsmen, who fancies himself the rightful head of the pantheon and generally leads the more evil gods. He's a charismatic sociopath and it stood him in good stead in Earth's universe where he was a space pirate captain. Several others were part of his crew in a hijacking attempt on the spaceship and have gone on to become other evil gods, though at least one (Bikk) has gone more the True Neutral path.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: By unspoken agreement and Ronson's unconscious influence, the Traveller gods have decided to stay mostly hands-off on the world after witnessing the intervention-prone Earth gods. Most of the rest (mainly the evil gods) know that going loud with their powers will just draw attention from the others, so they try to keep their works subtle if they think someone's liable to interfere. They're still plenty able to walk the world and chat with their followers, they just don't rule directly like kings.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Averted, gods received a steady trickle of power from former worshipers who have achieved enlightenment and graduated from their afterlife but the majority of their power is created internally.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Mike gives the Good Is Dumb impression due to his superhero shtick. However, he was Chief of Security on the Traveller for a reason and is a lot more canny than he lets on. Similarly, about the only good god that can be called any kind of dumb is the somewhat ditzy blonde Bunny, and even she's not easily misled.
  • Happily Married: Claremont and Wenya; Ronson and Emily before Emily died.
  • Heroic Neutral: Ronson really doesn't care about the greater good or what happens to other people and just wants to be left alone. His reputation for this is enough that Kerrimachus expresses surprise when "Ronson" intervenes in his quest to kill an innocent girl destined to destroy him. However, if something bad happens right in front of him, or someone he cares about needs help, Ronson WILL take action.
  • Hidden Depths: Bikk, who comes off as a would-be petty tyrant given too much power, reveals a talent for finding things and making connections that once served him in good stead as a navigator and make him rather suited for masterminding a complicated, interconnected modern economy as god of commerce.
    • Ronson looks like a tired old drunk. Beyurn's first impression of him is a disdainful "the drunken billionaire." In truth... he is a tired old drunk, but one with a sharp, if long-unused, intellect and a solid ability to read people and situations. He didn't inherit that fantastically profitable brewing company back on Earth, he made it and got it started with his own recipes.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: Deconstructed: This is the reason gods don't solve everyone's problems for them. Mike actually caused this effect and when he realized the truth immediately changed his plans.
  • Home Field Advantage: Gods are more powerful on their home plane, which is why the gods of Arr-Kelaan have an advantage against the old Earth gods, despite being less experienced and having fewer paths to the light.
  • Hot God: Dulcifer, obviously, as a Love Goddess. Mike also got some attention as an archetypically handsome square-jawed, clean-cut guy in the Superman mold. Bunny, the Goddess of Happiness, is a perky, cute cheerleader type.
  • Humble Hero: Ronson can't not do something if there's a problem before him, but at the same time he desperately wants his actions to go unnoticed because it just means people want more from him (or worship him, which is even worse). People still end up figuring him out if he stays in one place too long.
  • Jerkass Gods: Seems to be the standard for the Earth gods, seeing as they're from our own mythology. A few of the Travellers as well, particularly Bikk and Salsmen.
  • Jumped at the Call: Pretty much everyone but Ronson.
  • Kill the God: Even other gods cannot normally destroy gods, but it is possible under certain circumstances. The only known way to kill a god is via extremely powerful artifacts, such as Ronson's hammer.
  • King of All Cosmos: The Council of Angels.
  • Light Is Not Good: The "angels" are at least as bad as their demonic coworkers.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The gods can be hurt but its extremely hard even for another god, forcing them to look for other ways to impose their wishes.
  • MacGuffin: The Tankard of Trouble
  • Mad Oracle: Sephin is a Cloudcuckoolander oracle, probably. He knows everything, but not all at once - though when he doesn't know something, he usually knows when he'll know it.
  • The Magic Goes Away: What happened to Earth. All worlds have a certain amount of magic allocated to them. Since the universe Earth exists in is constantly expanding, the magic was increasingly diluted, requiring the gods to exert more and more power to do anything. It eventually got to the point that even multiple pantheons working together could only do the slightest of things. Physical manifestations became impossible.
  • Magnetic Hero: Most of the gods. They draw people along after them even unintentionally, and can't help but inspire followers. It even extends beyond death: when they first find the Traveller again, it acts as an impromptu afterlife for a number of people the gods had dealt with during their first years in the world. Ronson finds he now has a dragon guarding his front door (that he had accidentally slain years ago), and a group of dwarves Claremont knew think the ship is their own personal Valhalla.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Bikk's specialty as the god of commerce. One of his classic schemes involves tricking uninformed heroes into being his champions, who unwittingly create opportunities for his better-informed faithful to exploit for monetary gain. Salsmen considers himself one but is mostly just a charismatic monster.
  • Meaningful Name: Numerous, especially among the gods:
    • Ronson and Bikk were named after shaving razor brands (Ronson and Societe Bic). The creator almost had a theme going before he realized Schik and Gilette "just wouldn't fly."
    • Then there's Salsmen ("Salesmen"), the God of Deceit and Evil. Word of God is that he was originally conceived as a "used car salesman" slimy kind of evil counterpart to Bikk, though as time went on he solidified as the premier god of evil.
    • Dulcifer (Goddess of Love) sounds like "dulcimer," an instrument whose name is a Latin/Greek hybrid meaning "sweet song."
    • Darkmarr, the God of Assassins and Thieves (who is apparently also a ninja).
    • Providence, the God(s) of Music and Art (they're actually a band from the Traveller).
    • Shadowscared, God of Fear (feeling, not inflicting). His real name is John Shadowscar, and nobody knows how he managed to earn a captaincy when he's that much of a coward.
    • Thanantria, Goddess of Death, whose name recalls thanatos. She chose it for herself, as her original name was simply Nan.
    • Krushcor, God of Battles.
    • Then there's Egek Rupes, the head of Mike's fanclub. A Significant Anagram for Super Geek.
  • Medieval Stasis: Many branches of technology are banned by the world spirit of Arr-Kelaan. Basically, anyone who invents new technology that could potentially harm the environment gets killed by magic emanating from Arr-Kelaan's moons if they do not receive Claremont's protection. And even with Claremont's protection, their invention, their knowledge of how to create it, and the surrounding area gets destroyed. Claremont has been trying to find ways to work around it so his followers can invent eco-friendly variants of banned technology, but since Arr-Kelaan bans even experimentation, progress has been slow.
  • The Mentor: Inti briefly mentors several gods in some very important matters and ends up having a huge influence on the Travellers' early development as a pantheon. He doesn't die but does move on into the Light to find another universe where he may be welcome again.
  • Nay-Theist: Ronson. No surprise considering what he's been through.
  • Nerd Glasses: Claremont, god of knowledge, doesn't actually need glasses anymore having ascended into godhood, but continues wearing them out of habit.
  • Not My Luckyday
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Salsmen seems to want to kill everything, and his followers are little different. They include a large number of serial killers and violent maniacs. When Bikk declares that a man insulting his executioners from the gallows must be one of Salsmen's, Salsmen responds that his usually don't get taken alive...
  • Only One Name: Most of the cast.
  • Orwellian Retcon: A minor case: in the original version of "Myths & Legends," Kerrimachus's mortal alias is Kerry. It was revised to Kerrim when the arc was republished online apparently to avoid the appearance of a political statement because it came out not long after the 2004 US Presidential Election season, where one of the candidates was John Kerry. This after a somewhat-regretted (and ham-fisted) caricature of George W. Bush named "Shrub" had appeared in "Going Home," whom the creator later revisited for some redemption and Character Development.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Standard Western dragons are present in Arr-Kelaan. They are intelligent and have language of their own, but no one else (except gods) can understand it, so they're treated like mere beasts.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Durrill, God of Craftsmen and Artisans, looks like a standard fantasy dwarf but is really a very short humanoid alien from our universe.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Beyurn, the Goddess of War, looks like an elf but is really an elf-like humanoid alien from our universe, called a Juhlahn. Actual fantasy elves are present on Arr-Kelaan as well.
  • Our Souls Are Different: Gods, not being mortal, don't have souls in the strictly mortal sense. Mortal souls are essentially a piece of pure magic bound up in a corporeal form, until they die and pass on to the dead lands (afterlife) in the Astral Plane (which is itself pure magic). Gods are more like a body of pure soul surrounding a physical core, and are constantly generating fantastic amounts of power.
  • Papa Wolf: The reason none of the nastier gods dare to threaten Claremont's family. You don't want to piss off a god of knowledge, because you never know how many of your secrets and plans he's already discovered.
  • Path of Inspiration: A lot of religions before the Travellers arrived were created for a deity's self gratification. They're rarely actively evil, and mostly, as long as the worship keeps rolling in the gods don't care what the people get up to.
  • Physical God: The main characters.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Ronson after he becomes Satan and discovers that "God" is a hoax devised by Hephaestus. He cuts off Heaven and Hell from Earth.
  • Reality Ensues: A moment in Inti's backstory, which he relates to Ronson. He learned that our universe is severing from the Astral Plane, and the Astral is where gods keep their homes and their afterlives. No Earth god knew why, so he journeyed to other planets in the galaxy to find different gods who might know. He expected to be gone from Earth's Astral realms for weeks or months, but since his trip was partially through the physical universe, he ended up experiencing relativistic time dilation and came home to find decades had passed and his wife and people were gone.
  • Reality Warper: All the gods. Some are able to fit into particular roles that allow them dominance over the others in a specific area - for example, Thanantria can control the others' ability to resurrect the dead because she took up the mantle of the goddess of death before anyone else could.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Krushcor and Beyurn, in a very Ares and Athena way. Beyurn still manages to be the Red Oni to several other gods like Claremont, because she's pretty Hot-Blooded. Krushcor's just even more so.
  • Reluctant Hero: Ronson and, by extension, anyone suited to follow him yet still gets involved in helping people.
  • Restraining Bolt: Ronson to the rest of the gods. The head of a pantheon exerts some kind of unconscious influence over the rest of the gods, so Arr-Kelaan chose him to be the chief because of his apathy. His indifference keeps most of the gods from rampaging across the world at full power, which the planet sorely needs after centuries or millennia of the old gods treating Arr-Kelaan as their playground.
  • Retired Badass: Hazel and Teldin.
  • Satan: He's equivalent to a top level angel rather than God.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: One "Selwor" is noted as making collector's cards for Mike's fanclub.
  • Secret Relationship: Krushcor and Beyurn have been longtime enemies due to opposing philosophies when it comes to battle. However, at some point they came together and have been challenging and flirting with one another in private, far away from the eyes of mortals and gods.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Kerrimachus learns a king's daughter is fated to destroy him. He strikes the king with a fever and manipulates the king to kill her in his delirium. The plot ultimately fails, but now this young woman has a reason and certain means to see Kerrimachus dead someday...
  • Sequel Hook: Late in "Consequences" Ronson gets a brief glimpse into the Light and is pummeled by visions of many different things going on elsewhere at the same time, most of them setting up for later arcs such as the "God War" hinted at in "Myths & Legends."
  • Stop Worshipping Me: Ronson
  • Silence Is Golden: A Tolerable Day
  • Talking Animal: Pilfo, a boy transformed into a dog by Loki. He goes on to aid the Sharras and learns how to switch back to his human form when he wants.
  • The Paragon / The Cape: Mike
  • The So-Called Coward: Shadowscared, the god of fear, is terrified of almost everything. But when Zeus threatens to kill Bunny, the goddess of happiness, he manages to protect her by terrifying Zeus because he was more afraid of his inaction contributing to Bunny's death.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Ronson when he's motivated.
  • Top God: Technically Ronson, a King of the Gods type chosen by the planet. In practice however, this is only a technicality used to make his apathy restrain the other gods, and Beyurn serves this role to the non-evil gods. The world spirit may arguably be the God of Gods type, though it only ever "speaks" to Sephin and not to any of the Travellers save Luranna.
  • Trickster God: Loki shows up a couple of times. Sharra is better known on Arr-Kelaan, as the goddess of luck. It turns out, thanks to Loki, she's actually twin goddesses of luck and unluck, and people constantly get her confused.
  • Unseen Audience: Done twice in "Consequences." The first time, Inti is the narrator of the first part of the story arc, and his audience turns out to be several of the old gods of Earth, including Thor, Athena, Zeus (who is also Odin), Loki, and Ares. The second time, Ronson is relating later events of the story arc to the mysterious earth-goddess Luranna, who none of the other Traveller gods are even aware exists. And Ronson's not even sure she can hear him because as far as he can tell he's talking to empty air.
  • We Are as Mayflies: A natural consequence of the gods being immortal. Any human (or elf, or dwarf, or...) character will grow old and pass on between storylines while the gods are completely unchanged.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Nan is very aware of this trope and as a consequence refuses to make anyone immortal forever, only immortal until they want to die.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Mike is convinced he's a superhero upon first awakening as a god, and only uses his powers to mimic the abilities of heroes like Superman and Green Lantern. Bikk and Ronson eventually set him straight.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Ronson when it comes to Emily, for a long time. First she dies just before they were to go on an interstellar cruise together, then he wakes up on Arr-Kelaan and keeps seeing her spirit, only for her to be pulled away in mere moments. Sephin does a little yanking when he mentions that Ronson will save her, except Sephin doesn't know how yet and won't know until after Ronson actually does it and tells him... The ultimate yank finally comes in "Consequences" when Ronson "saves" her from her existence as a ghost and even from Hell but loses her for good as she passes on to enlightenment, just like any regular soul.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Ronson accidentally kills Satan, and ends up "promoted" to take Satan's place as a result.


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