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Webcomic / Well That Was Unexpected

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Well That was Unexpected is a webcomic hosted on the Giant in the Playground Forums, written by forum member Emperor Ing (formerly The Randomizer). It originally began as the backstory of a character from the Avatar Battle Royale comics, but has since outlived those comics to take on a life of its own. Like Avatar Battle Royale, it's drawn in a style based off of The Order of the Stick, though it also incorporates elements of Madness style and its author's own invention.


Set on the world of Aios, a futuristic Dungeons & Dragons setting, the comic's story revolves around the adventures of Rand'Teh (or Rand for short), a high-level adventuring sorcerer from an unnamed reptilian race, and his allies and enemies. Much of the plot has been driven by a conflict with the tiny but malevolent Magebane Empire and its godlike ruler, the Emperor. Despite its complicated and long-running nature, however, the plot has generally retained a very silly tone and does not take itself too seriously. The comic makes frequent references to other media, and its setting has frequently crossed over with a version of the setting of Warhammer 40,000, though again, it takes itself much less seriously than the normal tone of that setting.


This comic provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Beginning around the end of Chapter 7, the story starts building up to a party to celebrate the defeat of Atlas, with foreshadowing through characters Tempting Fate that it's going to be a spectacular disaster, including an implied surprise attack by Major Powers. Not long after the party began, however, the author (as expressed through the Emperor) got bored with the storyline and ended it suddenly in a bizarre and anticlimactic fashion, with Powers being effortlessly captured by the Archmagister Prime and Kaylethia and Marnia getting into a fight for basically no reason.
  • Action Girl: Both Kaylethia and Princess Marnia are high-level adventurers and skilled combatants just like the male cast, though the latter is somewhat ineffective against anything but mooks as a result of being "only" fifteenth level.
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  • Affably Evil: In addition to the many recurring villains who act this way, Chapter 12 features none other than Khorne, Chaos God of War, who is quite polite and easygoing after being summoned by Sereyentheous. He even goes so far as to give him suggestions on what to name his ultimate attack. He acts a little less friendly once Rand and Powers violate the rules of their duel by saving Ser, but resumes it when battling the Emperor.
  • Aggressive Negotiations: Near the ending of Chapter 9, representatives from High Aios, the Magebane Empire, and the Imperium of Man have all gathered on the Astral Plane to discuss the fate of Major Powers, and things seem to be proceeding in a peaceful enough fashion, particularly given what some of the sides present are like. Then evil-aligned Arcane Incarnation Clanor, for essentially no reason at all, pitches a fit and blasts one of the Adeptus Custodes present with an Ultimate Destruction spell and kills him. This leads to a full-scale battle with unpleasant long-term consequences for several of the factions involved.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The machine civilization of Hypt seems to be prone to this. Millennia before the story even begins, their mechanical Hypt Dragons apparently went rogue and began attempting to eradicate all organic life. Then the ending of Chapter 10 reveals that the Superintendent of Hypt Academy has also gone insane and is trying to do the same thing with the support of the Hypt Dragons (possibly indicating that they may not have actually gone rogue after all) and some other Hyptians.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Both Eternus and Magebane are shown to have vessels of this nature among their other skyships, though they aren't shown actually deploying small aircraft on screen. An Eternus carrier (confusingly, it's also interchangeably referred to as a cruiser) plays a prominent role in Chapter 8, where Team Rand has a race around its cavernous interior after it's loaned to them by the royal family. It's later attacked by a Magebane carrier, kicking off the events of Chapter 9. The Eternus ship ultimately manages to escape despite very heavy damage; the Magebane carrier winds up being accidentally destroyed by Xeno.
  • All Just a Dream: Invoked by Lord Secundus in Comic 282, who disguises himself as Torn in an attempt to trick Rand into believing that several recent events, including some important reveals, were all a dream he was having. Rand sees through it and is able to trick Secundus into giving himself away.
    • Played straight in Comic 541, where the very strange Pokemon battle mini-arc turns out to have been some sort of hallucination by Major Powers.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: The status quo of character relationships from Chapters 6 and 7 onward was this way: Princess Marnia has a crush on Rand, who hates her, while Torn has a crush on Marnia, who only sees him as a friend. By the end of Chapter 12, Marnia has finally gotten over Rand and engaged in some mild but mutual flirting with (of all people) Custodian Sereyentheous; they eventually wind up arranging a date. Of course, this leaves Torn as much of an example as ever.
  • All There in the Manual: Since the comic exists only in a series of forum threads, it's very easy for side information about the characters or setting to buried deep in the thread history where new readers can't easily find it. One example would be the precise nature of Arcane Incarnations, which is only mentioned in Clanor's entry in a set of character bios that did not make the transition to the current comic thread.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: In Comic 684, Sereyentheous runs into Kaylethia and they have this exchange:
    Ser: I was informed females of this planet loved bouquets no matter how abominable.
    Kaylethia: So wait, are the females themselves abominable, or do they like abominable bouquets?
    Ser: I'm... not sure.
    Kaylethia: Pleased to meet you, Not Sure. Have these grenades on the house.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: In Comic 558, a Madness News report informs us that the Custodes' "ragesplosion" on the Astral Plane (caused by the theft of their brother's remains) has killed somewhere between 100,000 and 400,000 githyanki. This is played as a cutaway gag and never mentioned again.
  • Amusing Injuries: Done all the time, and usually (though not always) paired with Major Injury Underreaction: characters are routinely stabbed, impaled, blown up, and even decapitated without serious ill effects. This is partially justified by the comic operating under D&D rules, as the characters are all extremely high-level and could be reasonably expected to shrug off some injuries; however, it's mostly just Rule of Funny.
  • Animated Armor: Called Haunted Armors, these are the first type of mook to appear in Icktepetchis's Dungeons early in the comic; they aren't particularly dangerous and are kind of stupid. They later make a reappearance much later on in Chapter 9 with an art upgrade, but this time they have the sense to avoid fighting the heroes and wind up just being a cameo (though some of them still get blown up anyway).
  • Anticlimax: After being amply built up as effectively invincible - to say nothing of his reputation in Warhammer 40,000 canon - the Chaos God Khorne ultimately goes down to a single punch. In fairness, though, he was meant more as a plot device for Rand and Ser's character development than anything else.
  • Arc Villain: The main villains of the comic are clearly the Magebane Empire. However, on a couple of occasions more minor villains have served as the primary antagonists of a chapter or two:
    • Chapter 4: Atlas, a terrorist organization with slightly vague motivations whose lair the main characters wind up storming. They return for an encore appearance in Chapter 7, where they're finished off for good.
    • Chapter 6: Serg'Ken, a reptilian gang boss and sorcerer with a coincidental resemblance to Rand. Played mostly for laughs, he's ultimately beaten to a pulp by Marnia and hasn't been seen since.
    • Chapters 10 through 13: The insane and omnicidal Superintendent Kalros of Hypt, who leads the other Hyptians in an attempt to wipe out the population of Eternus, though his involvement isn't revealed until the very end of Chapter 10. Unlike the other arc villains he's explicitly allied with Magebane, but his goals don't entirely match theirs and the cast spends far more time fighting Hyptians than Magebane forces in these chapters. He and the Hyptian war are shuffled offscreen for the more character-centric Chapter 12, but return to a main role in Chapter 13. Word of God confirms that they're still just arc villains, though.
  • Art Evolution: The comic's art style has become considerably sleeker and more detailed since its beginning; compare Professor Savaddor's elaborate design to Rand's original look.
  • The Artifact: To an extent, the original premise is this: although originally one of a number of "backstory comics" for the Avatar Battle Royale threads, it has long since outlived both most of those threads and Avatar Battle Royale itself, and has very little to do with them in its actual content.
  • Art Shift:
    • Scenes set in or near the Magebane Empire, or sometimes merely involving its technology, often shift entirely into Madness style, even for characters not normally drawn in it. This grows less common as the comic goes on, though.
    • Beginning with Comic 79 and ending with Comic 301, some of the shorter comics would be randomly done as sprite comics for no apparent reason.
    • The art style for the comic as a whole permanently shifted at the beginning of Chapter 12, with The Order of the Stick's style being largely abandoned in favor of a new non-stick figure (but still cartoony) style. Among the most obvious changes are drastically different snout shapes for the reptilian characters and colored eyes with pupils for all characters.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The only weakness of the gigantic Hyptian Apocalypse Cruiser in Chapter 11 is the firing dish for its city-wrecking laser. Professor Savaddor actually uses the phrase "attack its weak point for massive damage" while explaining the plan to Jeroshaw, though the latter doesn't seem to be familiar with the concept.
    Savaddor: You've never seen Independence Day? This is exactly like that.
  • Author Avatar: An unnamed blue-robed Arcane Incarnation has occasionally acted as the voice of the author, doing things such as downsizing excessively large speech bubbles, providing art upgrades, and warning the readers in advance about an Expo Dump-heavy comic. He may actually be Rand's future self.
  • Author Filibuster: The author has inserted his opinions into the story through the mouths of existing characters a few times, usually using either Rand or the Emperor. The latter delivered a particularly annoyed one in Comic 229, when he vaporized a good chunk of the continent in frustration over readers not following the plot.
  • Bait-and-Switch: A lot of the comic's humor relies heavily on subverting the expected joke or other reader expectations. One example is Comic 393, where we're led to believe the guard accusing Rand of having robbed the Eternus treasury is an idiot because his "evidence" consists of some red scales found nearby (for clarification, Rand has green scales). Then the last panel reveals he's actually talking about red weighing scales, making the whole thing much more ridiculous.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: Comic 496 features an enormous monster bursting through the gate to High Aios and roaring at the protagonists, accompanied by lots of impressive magical SFX. In the next comic, just as Xeno and Torn finish expressing their relief that it's "only" an Arcane Spawn Larva, it collapses to reveal it's been killed by Major Powers, who proceeds to battle the cast.
  • Baleful Polymorph: In Comic 220, Lord Secundus polymorphs the entire adventuring group besides Xeno into forms that reflect their worst fears, kicking off a subplot that lasts for the rest of Chapter 4. Rand loses his tail, Torn becomes a kobold, Kaylethia becomes a "dragonoid" (for reasons that are a mystery at the time), Marnia becomes undead, and Powers becomes a Tau. However, most of them get over it surprisingly fast, and the effects are all eventually either dispelled by Rand or wear off on their own.
  • Battle Cry: Parodied in Comic 626, where a rookie Tau Shas'Ui (officer) struggles to come up with a battle cry for his troops after realizing that the Tau (unlike almost every other Warhammer 40,000 faction) don't have one. He eventually settles on "For the Greater Good", although Xeno suggests that "For the Lesser Evil" would be better, though not best:
    Xeno: I think "Freedom or Death" is more appropriate for what is coming.
  • Beam-O-War: During their battle at the beginning of Chapter 9, Rand and Xeno do this, with their respective Galick Gun spells colliding. Rand eventually loses the subsequent battle, but manages to survive thanks to the timely arrival of Jeroshaw.
  • Behemoth Battle: After the party is attacked by an enormous Targnillian-class Hyptian construct in Comic 749, Professor Savaddor transforms into an equally enormous giant robot form and battles it. Their fight is much less damaging to the scenery than most examples of the trope, however, since they're in the middle of a frozen wasteland. Savaddor later again uses this form in a later fight with Targnillians, but this time the battle takes place mostly offscreen.
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb: The comic lampshades just about every plot device or use of a fictional convention, no matter how insignificant. This is eventually semi-lampshaded itself in Comic 654, where Jeroshaw follows an unusually-serious motivational speech by randomly adding "Also, something about lampshades!"
  • Blood Bath: At the end of Chapter 12, Khorne is shown taking a bath in a giant bathtub full of blood to cheer himself up after being banished back into the Warp. Doubles as a Brick Joke, as when he first manifested he was wearing a towel and complaining about how he was always summoned in the middle of his bath.
  • Boom Stick: In addition to the Guardian Spears used, as in Warhammer canon, by the Adeptus Custodes, the comic features what appear to be laser-halberds being used by the Khorran Confederacy soldiers seen at the beginning of Chapter 10.
  • Boss Subtitles: Khorne is accompanied by a set upon manifesting in Comic 702, which identify him as a "First One class Sidereal". According to Word of God, this is a term meaning that he is a god compared even to other gods.
  • Brain Uploading: Professor Savaddor has developed a technomantic technique to upload organic minds into Hypt's cyberspace demiplane, which forms an important part of the plot of Chapter 13. The details are largely a mystery even to his fellow Hyptian professors, but it apparently involves transferring consciousness into an artificial Hypt-body construct within the demiplane. The cast intend to use this to sabotage the shield protecting the server Superintendent Kalros's consciousness is stored on from the inside so that the Eternus fleet can destroy it.
  • Calling Your Attacks: As in The Order of the Stick, most spellcasters shout out the names of the spells they're using; the exceptions tend to be a sign that the character in question is extremely powerful. Eventually parodied in Comic 703, where Sereyentheous and Khorne debate things for the former to shout as he casts his newly-invented ultimate attack. After a lot of flowery suggestions, Ser ultimately just settles on "KILLSYOULASER".
  • Chest Burster: After Kaylethia (in dragonoid form) eats the disembodied head of Major Powers in Chapter 4, she starts experiencing severe chest pain. Eventually, in Comic 248, it's revealed to be caused by Powers, who rips his way out of her torso. (Of course, Kaylethia survives this).
  • Co-Dragons: Xeno, Major Powers, and the Apprentice collectively form the three top minions of the Emperor, though the latter is the only one who's fully loyal to him. They rarely ever all work together at the same time, and Powers does not remotely get along with the other two (though really, he doesn't get along with anyone), but they're all about equally important and powerful.
  • Collapsing Lair: At the end of Chapter 7, the ice floe that the Atlas polar base is located on starts collapsing into the sea as the result of Rand's spells during the battle. Our heroes aren't actually inside the base at the time, but their escape onto a gunship plays out pretty similarly to the trope.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: As in The Order of the Stick, different spellcasters each have their own individual spellcasting color. Several of the different factions have their own distinctive colors as well:
    • Magebane: Gray, to an exceptional degree. Everything associated with it, from technology to spellcasting to clothing, and even the Emperor and Lord Magebane's skin, is gray. The only exception is the Apprentice, who is instead associated with red and orange.
    • Eternus: Red and white, to such an extent that Rand eventually complains about it.
    • High Aios: Purple, though each Arcane Incarnation also has their own individual signature color.
    • Hypt: Black and neon green for the Hyptians associated with Superintendent Kalros. Most other Hyptians are blue and dark gray or black, though some of the Professors have their own signature colors.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: A lot of the humor is derived from characters acting nastily - or downright violently - to each other, with no one save the Emperor (who's a bit too powerful to ever be the butt of the joke) really being immune from being either a perpetrator or a victim, regardless of their apparent alignment. Of course, there's a certain feeling of verisimilitude to it if the comic is seen as resembling a D&D campaign, as many allegedly-sympathetic PCs do act like jerks in practice.
  • Commonality Connection: Played for laughs in Comic 690, where Marnia and Sereyentheous find some common ground in an otherwise awkward date by bonding over their mutual interest in... high-yield ordinance.
  • Conversational Troping: Given the heavy amount of Lampshade Hanging in the comic, this occurs occasionally. One example is in Comic 379, where after meeting the Superintendent of Hypt, Kaylethia and Torn irritate him by loudly speculating on possible tropes that could occur with him, such as getting "owned" by Xeno to show how powerful he is or becoming "really wimpy and pathetic when he joins our side".
    Superintendent: Riiiight. I am leaving now.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Somewhat deconstructed in Chapter 6, where Marnia "punishes" Rand for tricking her earlier by chaining him to the ceiling and forcing him to listen to "Bohemian Rhapsody" (a song the author was apparently sick of hearing). Rand is actually genuinely furious over this and holds a violent grudge against Marnia for it that lasts for roughly 400 comics.
  • Costume-Test Montage: One appears in Comic 673, with Rand putting Sereyentheous in increasingly absurd costumes as part of his efforts to "help" the latter prepare for his date. Surprisingly, the final outfit they settle on is just a mildly tacky suit of the kind you'd expect from a stereotypical used car salesman.
    Ser: I don't know... I feel as though I should treat my customers like they are superstars. I should be institutionalized because of how crazy I have to be to offer such low rates.
    Rand: Ppht. You look fabulous.
  • Crashing Dreams: Comic 504 starts off looking like a continuation of the previous comic's events, but very quickly becomes extremely bizarre. As it goes on, it's periodically interrupted by different characters suddenly developing the heads of Custodes and having dialogue that has nothing to do with what they were previously saying. It turns out to be this trope: Torn is unconscious and dreaming after crashing onto the floor of the Astral Plane, and the Custodes have found him and are marveling at how anything could have gotten hurt by a 7-mile fall.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: For all that the comic generally does not take itself seriously, the world of Aios seems to have a long and richly detailed history. However, there have only been a handful of allusions to it, most of which haven't been elaborated upon. What was the Time Freeze that the Emperor (or the being that became the Emperor, anyway) apparently sacrificed himself to end? What really happened in the Vector Wars? These and other historical events have been mentioned in passing during the comic, but their details remain mostly unknown.
    • One cryptic background reference has been at least somewhat explained: the Treaty of Abberoy. Exactly what Abberoy is or was remains unclearnote , but the treaty itself was apparently some sort of neutrality pact for Aios that the Arcane Incarnations enforced upon the Imperium of Man and Tau Empire. The Tau seem to have largely abided by its terms, while the Imperium constantly tried to get around it. As of Chapter 10, the treaty appears to have been rendered defunct thanks to the all-out battle between the Arcane Incarnations and the Imperium that ended Chapter 9.
  • Death Is Cheap: Resurrection magic seems to be somewhat rarer in Aios than in most D&D settings, with apparently only a few powerful individuals being able to raise the dead. Still, though, several characters have died and been brought back, including King Ezekiel, Lord Magebane, and Custodian Sereyentheous - twice. Marnia also alludes to having died before in Comic 350, and the entire population of the planet has been killed and resurrected countless times by the Emperor, though only a few people know about this.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: During the climax of Chapter 12, Rand (in Sereyentheous's body) literally punches off the head of the Chaos God Khorne - with a single punch. Technically this doesn't kill Khorne, just banishing him back into the Warp, but it's still impressive enough to convince Ser that his old body is much better than Rand's after all.
  • Doomed Hometown: Team Rand's hometown of Purcelville is ultimately blasted off the map by a Hyptian Apocalypse Cruiser early in Chapter 11. They aren't enormously torn up about it, since the population were, in Rand's own words "nameless faceless NPCs whose existence we were faintly aware of", and a number of them survived anyway. However, the event is still consequential for the plot, as it kicks off the Eternus-Hypt war and indirectly helps lead to Marnia and Rand burying the hatchet after she puts the now-homeless party up in her palace.
  • Dragon Ascendant: After Armzept, the blue dragon leader of Atlas, is captured during Chapter 4, his unnamed tarrasque lieutenant takes over the remnants of the organization. As a spellcasting tarrasque, she's a much bigger threat than he ever was, but is still gone for good by the end of Chapter 7.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Subverted for comedic effect in Comic 194, which opens with what appears to be Kaylethia and Torn in disguise as Atlas guards to infiltrate their base. However, they're subsequently revealed to just be a couple of lookalike mooks when the real Kaylethia and Torn appear and kill them.
    Kaylethia: Hey Torn, I think he and you have matching axes.
    Torn: ...whoa. That's just messed up.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Thanks to the high levels of the cast, this happens several times:
    • Chapters 1 and 2 have several instances of teleportation and flight magic being used to bypass areas or obstacles in Icktepetchis's Dungeons, though it's apparently expected of adventurers given the nature of the dungeon.
    • Comic 232 has Xeno teleport the party past no fewer than 12 levels of the Atlas-occupied Genesis Spire, entirely in order to make it harder for Rand to catch up to them.
    • Played for laughs in Comic 488, where Rand uses a cursed scroll of "Running Montage" to skip through many areas of a dungeon in a single montage comic.
  • Dungeon Crawling: The futuristic D&D world of Aios seems to have institutionalized this in the form of Icktepetchis's Dungeons, a series of linked caverns and other areas run much like a tourist attraction or LARP by an Arcane Incarnation, the eponymous Icktepetchis. The dungeons, of which there's at least 18, can be tailored for different sizes and levels of adventuring parties, and are run by a "GM slave" that seems to be some kind of artificial intelligence. A visit to them makes up most of Chapters 1 and 2, and they make a return appearance in Chapter 9.
    • A less meta example appears in Chapter 4 with the Genesis Spire, an enormous tower occupied by the terrorist group Atlas. The party only winds up exploring a small portion of it, though.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Naturally, there's a fair bit of weirdness in the early comics (especially the "prologue" Chapter 0), but one particularly bizarre case is in Comic 14, which shows Rand and Kaylethia apparently sleeping together. While even at the time it seems to have been mostly meant as a throwaway fanservice joke, it's completely contradictory to all subsequent portrayals of those characters and their relationship.
  • Elemental Embodiment: Much of Chapter 2 is set in a frost demiplane inhabited by beings made of ice known as Frost Denizens, which seem to act as mooks for Clanor. They use swords with a cold effect, ride around on sheets of ice, and, naturally, are extremely vulnerable to fire.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • In addition to their normal, rather puny infantry, Magebane Empire forces also include an unidentified type of undead - sometimes called zombies, but clearly not standard D&D zombies - who always wear white suits and usually double-wield swords. They're often found leading ordinary troops and are much, much more dangerous than them, and while the protagonists can defeat them they can't do it casually, which is directly discussed in Comic 486.
    • Atlas in Chapter 4 has a unit of guards literally called Elites, who wear impressive-looking powered armor. Their eliteness is something of an Informed Attribute, however, as they're not very bright and the one time they're seen in action, they're killed pretty easily.
    • Hypt Dragons basically become this after the first one encountered. Most of the higher-level protagonists can defeat them pretty handily, but only in small numbers, and ordinary troops are no match for them.
    • Chapter 13 introduces another type of Hyptian Elite Mooks, the Duvutan-Class Heavy Infantry Combat Vessel, which fall somewhere between the Hypt Dragons and the type of ordinary Hyptian soldiers that are aptly referred to as Cannonfodder-class. They are larger, somewhat smarter, and somewhat harder to kill when compared to the basic mooks, but still go down fairly easily.
  • The Empire: Subverted with the Magebane Empire. It's an empire ruled by a (somewhat) evil emperor, evil-aligned in general, and home to the main antagonists, but far from being a huge expansionist superpower, it's a tiny flyspeck of a nation whose existence is maintained only through the overwhelming power of its ruler.
  • Energy Beings: Arcane Incarnations are immortal beings composed of pure arcane magic, apparently created from mortal souls by infusing them with vast amounts of magic. They appear to be made up of purple energy and are only semi-corporeal at best. All of them are part of a mysterious organization called High Aios, which seems to govern magic upon the world of Aios and protects the Heart of Arcaea, the source of all magic. In combat they're largely unstoppable by anything short of the Adeptus Custodes, though they can't enter antimagic fields and the Emperor's lieutenants have been able to fight them to a draw.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Atlas mooks seem to be very racially diverse, including elves, goblins, kobolds, undead, at least one member of Rand's race, and humans of several ethnicities. It's eventually directly stated in Comic 230 that they are an equal-opportunity employer.
  • Eureka Moment: Parodied in Comic 649, where Rand, bemoaning his loss of magic, grumbles that the only way he could possibly affect the Apocalypse Cruiser attacking the city of Leesburg is if he hit it with his face. This is immediately followed by a loud DING... which turns out to be the timer on the muffins he was inexplicably making mid-battle. While Rand doesn't actually wind up hitting the cruiser with his face, he does later save the city from it by physically punching it away.
  • Evil Gloating: The tendency of villains to spend time gloating rather than just finish the protagonists off is repeatedly parodied and lampshaded, and is one of the more common jokes in the comic. One particularly exaggerated case occurs in Comic 555, where High Lord of Terra Levinary has our heroes at gunpoint, only to launch into an increasingly rambling monologue about heretics. One comic later, he's still going on without apparently having taken any notice of the heroes teleporting away.
    Marnia: I hate monologifying villains.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Lord Secundus and Clanor, while evil themselves, are at least as much enemies to the Emperor and his minions as the protagonists are, and they spend a fair amount of time fighting each other. Best exemplified by a battle between Secundus and the Apprentice early in Chapter 8, which winds up being watched by a group of Eternus guards who are rooting for both of them to lose.
    • Major Powers wishes to murder pretty much the entire cast, including his fellow villains. Though the one he spends most of his time fighting is Xeno, who isn't really that evil.
  • Experienced Protagonist: All of the main characters are high-level, veteran adventurers, or otherwise very experienced at what they do. Even the comparatively underleveled Princess Marnia is fifteenth level and apparently the second most powerful paladin in the world. The sole exception is Rand's familiar Jeroshaw, who is fairly young for a dragon.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The entire comic has only covered a few weeks in-universe, including two four-day Time Skips between the end of Chapter 9 and the beginning of Chapter 10, and the end of Chapter 12 and beginning of Chapter 13.
  • Faceless Goons:
    • While the nature of Madness style makes it hard to be certain whether what look like full-face helmets are actually their faces, Magebane Empire soldiers certainly look like faceless goons, and true to the trope they're some of the absolutely mookiest mooks in the comic, being easily killed in large numbers and prone to pursuing idiotic tactics like repeatedly shooting the heroes that have proven Immune to Bullets.
    • The squad of Imperial Guard troopers accompanying Major Powers in Chapter 12 all wear helmets with opaque visors, in contrast to the open-face helmets more commonly worn by the Guard elsewhere in the comic and in Warhammer 40,000 canon. Although they are apparently meant to be from an actual canon Guard unit, in practice the most likely reason for it is to save effort on drawing their faces in the new art style, as they're no more or less expendable in the narrative than the Guard always are.
    • Subverted by the Tau fire warriors in the comic. While they wear face-concealing helmets as in canon, the little lights on the ends of their helmets are treated like eyes, making them fairly expressive, and they're often portrayed rather sympathetically.
  • Fakin' MacGuffin: At the climax of Chapter 2, Team Rand takes on Powers and Xeno for the Magus Crystal - the quest item they've all been seeking - and loses pretty badly, with the antagonists seemingly getting away with the crystal. However, Comic 134 reveals that Rand actually created an illusionary crystal and swapped it for the real thing; while he and Torn fought the bad guys, Kaylethia escaped with the actual Magus Crystal. The Emperor sees through the deception when the fake is brought to him, but isn't willing to risk further exposure by trying to steal it again.
  • False Reassurance: In Chapter 6, Torn and Kaylethia take a mercenary who tried to double-cross them prisoner, but promise to untie him if he leads them to where they want to go. Which they do... after first dangling him over a ledge.
  • Famous Last Words:
  • Fantasy Twist: In Comic 188, Torn perceiving King Ezekiel Eternus as being Santa Claus isn't all that unusual. However, his fantasy sequence goes on to have Santa beat the crap out of him after Torn picks a fight, which is... a little weirder.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: High Lord Levinary has a disproportionate amount of cybernetic enhancements, as well as some sort of massively-oversized shoulder pad thing, on his right side. The effect is toned down, but still present, following the shift from Order of the Stick style to the new non-stick figure style.
  • Flaunting Your Fleets: Occurs in Comic 370, where the Emperor shows Major Powers a vast armada of skyships while rhapsodizing about the war he intends Powers to use them in. Said war hasn't happened... yet.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": Beginning as early as Comic 18, a running gag involves characters attempting to use some piece of technomancy or particularly structured spell, only to be stuck with an answering system of this sort. Their standard response is something along the lines of "Stupid freakin' "user-friendly" mageware!"
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: At the end of Chapter 10, Rand and Custodian Sereyentheous switch bodies due to the effects of a botched resurrection attempt. Rand has a lot of trouble adjusting to his new Custodes body and corresponding Super Strength, though he eventually gets more of the hang of it and it comes in handy during the climaxes of both Chapters 11 and 12. Ser, for his part, almost immediately dies due to not understanding how fragile his new body is, but after being raised, he takes to exploring his newfound nature with much more enthusiasm than Rand, aided by the fact that Rand's magical power is massively magnified under his control. Ser finally reverses the switch in Comic 720 (with a little bit of help from Princess Marnia) after seeing Rand easily dispatch a Chaos God and realizing that his original body is superior after all; ironically Rand wasn't happy about it anymore now that he had seen what Ser's body could do.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Dangerous energy beams of all sorts, from spells to Eternus and Tau plasma weapons to Imperial lasguns, are commonly seen in the comic, and are generally referred to as lasers whether they act anything like real lasers or not. They're generally effective, except for lasgun fire, which has its uselessness as a minor running joke. A single unarmed civilian was killed by lasgun fire in Comic 691, but Word of God explained this as "Hotshot Lasguns. Like Lasguns, except not useless."
  • Funny Background Event: Occurs in several comics:
    • Comic 191 is ostensibly about a conversation between Kaylethia, Torn, and Clanor. However, readers are likely to find themselves paying more attention to something going on behind them involving two E-SEC officers attempting to arrest a random Chaos Space Marine while a couple of bodies inexplicably fall from the sky onto the horns of his helmet.
    • The entirety of Comic 420 consists of these, with Rand wandering around downtown Eetwosees and paying mild attention to the strange events going on in the background until he gets bored. Highlights include several guards visiting a "Free Art Upgrade" station, several humorous holographic signs, and a mage fighting some guy with a gun.
    • In Comic 567, one of the members of an attacking Imperial Guard squad is a Tau spy wearing a cutout of a Guardsman's face taped to his helmet and yelling things like "Xe'nos Sc'um!"
  • Fun with Acronyms: The bizarre-sounding name of the Eternus capital city, "Eetwosees", is explained in Comic 147 as having been derived from the abbreviation ECC, for "Eternus Capital City". (In other words, "E two Cs").
  • Fusion Dance: During the Battle for Leesburg arc, in Comic 638 "Vinny" (in her red dragon form) and Arc fuse, complete with Dragon Ball Z shout-out, into one giant cyber-organic dragon. This gives them enough power to damage the attacking Apocalypse Cruiser. Elements of both their personalities seem present, but unfortunately we see fairly little of the fusion before it's taken down and forcibly reversed by the Superintendent of Hypt.
  • Gender Bender: Clanor's signature Ultimate Destruction spell, intended to be an unavoidable instant-death spell, has the "bug" of actually doing nothing but gender-bend its victims 95 percent of the time. In the comic, this has happened to Rand - twice - as well as a minor villain in Chapter 5 who was killed off immediately afterward. In both cases where it happened to Rand, it was reversed after a while by magic.
  • Godzilla Threshold: In Comic 622, "Vinny" tries to convince Xeno that the presence of a living Vector Witch constitutes one of these, urging him to destroy the entire city they're trying to defend from orbit just to make sure Torn is killed. Xeno just laughs it off, though.
  • Gold and White Are Divine: While the gods depicted so far have worn clothing of many different colors, gold has been consistently used through the comic as the color of divinity. Gods have golden eyes and speech bubbles - as does the Emperor, despite not quite being a conventional god. Princess Marnia's paladin abilities, derived from the gods, are also represented as yellow-gold. And on the occasions on which the Heaven of Aios has been shown, it's appeared as an endless expanse of white clouds underneath a golden sky.
  • The Good Kingdom: Eternus, which is the largest and most magitechnologically powerful nation on Aios, is generally portrayed this way, as a benevolent and diverse kingdom whose royal family (however hostile their relations with the protagonists have been) are among the more powerful forces for good in the comic. However, it's played with slightly, as Eternus was actually the nation responsible for starting its conflict with Magebane, whose representatives have repeatedly indicated that they just want to be left alone.
  • Good-Times Montage: Comic 423 features a montage of Rand's newly acquired laser dragon familiar having fun by engaging in "shenanigans" all around downtown Eetwosees, such as buying himself a hoard and trying on many hats simultaneously.
  • Good vs. Good: Marnia and "Vinny's" battle during Chapter 12. Both of them are (more or less) among the story's heroes, but they have completely antithetical views on the situation they're fighting about, and it's not clear which of them is correct.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Generally averted, as the comic has no hesitation about showing gory stick figure violence. However, Comic 227 features one Played for Laughs, with the disproportionately brutal beatdown Rand is inflicting on Powers (for pointing out that he has no tail) taking place offscreen and portrayed entirely through the horrified reactions of the other characters.
  • Gray-and-Gray Morality: The main conflict of the story is a lot less morally clear-cut than it's initially presented as. The Emperor is certainly a very destructive and selfish being, but he causes much less harm than he potentially could. And while some of his minions are unambiguously evil, their conflict with Eternus was actually provoked by the latter, and they seem largely correct in their assessment of High Aios as an organization of cowardly, patronizing immortal bureaucrats. In the end the Emperor is still clearly the "bad guy" compared to his opponents, but it's obvious both that they're not all great people themselves and that he's not nearly as bad as he could be.
  • Group Hug: Played for laughs in Comic 326, with Marcellan (who wasn't even present in any of the previous panels) randomly declaring "Group hug!" and joining in on a teary hug between Marnia and her recently resurrected father.
    Marnia: *sniff* thou dost realize mineself might be *sniff* in thought, right?
  • Harmless Freezing: During Chapter 0, Rand actually blasts his own brother with an ice spell in order to stop him from being underfoot; he's none for the worse when Kaylethia eventually thaws him out. Later, Rand and Princess Marnia are both temporarily frozen solid on separate occasions as a result of their reptile physiologies being exposed to extreme cold, and neither suffers any lasting harm from it.
  • Hate Plague: As the first side effect of Khorne's summoning in Chapter 12, sudden outbursts of violence start breaking out across Eetwosees. High-level characters like Rand and Powers seem immune to the effect, while lower-level ones like Marnia are affected briefly but not permanently. Ordinary civilians and guards who succumb to it, however, go violently insane, resulting in deaths and widespread destruction across the city. The effect continues until Khorne is banished back to the Warp.
  • He Knows Too Much:
    • At the end of Chapter 10, the Superintendent of Hypt paralyzes Professor Savaddor and attempts to have Xeno kill him in order to prevent Savaddor from revealing his suspicions that the Superintendent is behind the recent Hypt Dragon attacks. Savaddor manages to escape, however.
    • In Comic 614, Torn kills both minor character Toby the Tyranid and a squad of Magebane Empire soldiers to make sure that none of them can tell anyone about his being a Vector Witch.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": The long-unnamed Tau Ethereal leading Xeno's enclave turns out to actually have Eth'Er'Eel as part of his name.
  • Hope Spot: Played for laughs in Chapter 11: as the battle for Leesburg rages, The Cavalry apparently arrives in Comic 633 in the form of Captain "Hugh Mann" of the Eternus skyship frigate King's Middle Finger, to the relief of onlookers. As the names suggest, however, it's not a real frigate, just an illusion created by Xeno, and its weapons prove to have no effect on the enemy Apocalypse Cruiser.
  • How We Got Here: Subverted in Chapter 9, which opens with a badly injured Rand being interrogated by a group of Arcane Incarnations about what happened since we saw him last. Rand proceeds to recount much of the story as a flashback (complete with various forms of playing with the fourth wall, such as characters whose names Rand couldn't remember being referred to as things like "Lord Idontremember"), but stops after reaching the point where he was knocked out. We later get to hear a little bit of what else happened from Marnia, but her story also gets cut short abruptly and the audience never does get the full flashback.
  • Hufflepuff House: Though a number of nations on Aios have been mentioned in passing, the only ones that have had any real story relevance so far are the Kingdom of Eternus, the Magebane Empire, and (as of Chapter 10 and onward) the Hypt Academies. The Khorran Confederacy has managed to get a brief bit of screentime, as Rand is a general in their armed forces and the soldiers accompanying her at the beginning of Chapter 10 are evidently Khorran. The other nations, however, have pretty much only been mentioned in background references, the news ticker on Madness News, or as the home nations of some of the VIPs at the party in Chapter 8.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Some of the more central or popular characters of the comic didn't show up, and indeed hadn't even been conceived of, for a long while after it began. The most notable cases are Princess Marnia, who has become a member of the core cast but wasn't introduced until over 200 strips into the comic, and the Custodes trio, who have probably become the most popular characters in the comic but didn't appear until as late as Chapter 9.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A relatively common form of the comic's Amusing Injuries, impalements have a particular tendency to occur to Kaylethia, who grows increasingly jaded about it over the course of the comic. In fact, this actually serves as a clue that "Vinny" is really Kaylethia, as she underreacts to a massive chest wound in a very similar fashion during the Battle for Leesburg.
    Kaylethia (after getting a tarrasque's talon rammed entirely through her): Huh, that's unpleasant.
  • Jerkass Gods: The gods of Aios have generally not been portrayed in a fashion that suggests the Emperor killing most of them was really that bad a thing, with notable gods appearing so far including former God of Evil Secundus, his rather Jerkass friend the Great Mechanicus, and a "Lesser God of Expendability" who seemed to imply that he was helping Marnia mostly so that she could act as cannon fodder.
  • Kent Brockman News: The "Madness News" service, which occasionally is shown providing exposition, generally seems to run ridiculous and superficial stories and openly admits its reporting is biased and dumbed-down. At one point an anchor is actually shot dead on air without anyone seeming to notice, and it probably says something that Xeno briefly taking the place of one of their reporters in Chapter 8 doesn't seem to do much at all to affect the quality of reporting.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: In Chapter 6, Marnia beats the living hell out of a sorcerer named Serg mostly just because she mistook him for Rand. Luckily, Serg also happened to be a sleazy gang boss involved in a particularly ugly type of slaving, so there was no reason to feel very sorry for him.
  • Killed Off for Real: Clanor, who was killed by Custodian Lahvin in retaliation for the death of his "brother" Sereyentheous. Sereyentheous was later raised, but Clanor seems to be dead for good.
  • Kudzu Plot: Although Word of God says the plot isn't supposed to be taken that seriously, it nevertheless manages to be extremely complex. Despite the high degree of improvisation involved in their creation, very few plot points are ever completely forgotten about, which means that over nearly 800 comics, quite a lot of them have managed to build up. Apparently the ending sequence is the only part of the story that's actually be planned all along, but whether it's being updated to account for each new plot point is unknown.
  • Laser Blade: Most characters associated with the Kingdom of Eternus have at one point or another been shown using an Eternus beam-saber, which is apparently the local magitek version of this trope. King Ezekiel wields a double-bladed one in Chapter 5's Battle for Eternus arc, but otherwise they haven't had many important appearances or much information provided about them.
  • Living Shadow: The demon prince Lord Secundus, who is shrouded in magical shadow for his first few appearances, eventually turns out to be an amorphous, vaguely serpentine shadow with glowing red eyes. Smaller shadow demons acting as his minions appear in Chapter 3, where they attack Rand and company.
  • Lizard Folk: Rand's race, which are definitely not standard D&D lizardfolk but have otherwise remained unnamed for the entire comic. We do know several other facts about them, however, including that they are carnivorous and generally eat humans, that they have extremely slow metabolisms, and that each one's name is unique to him or her. With the exception of Rand, his brother Gromm, and Princess Marnia, only a couple have ever appeared in the comic, though it's implied that they're the dominant species in the Khorran Confederacy, a nation for which Rand sometimes serves as a general.
  • Long List: In Comic 54, after Xeno destroys a Haunted Armor that was ineptly attempting to sneak up on the party, Kaylethia tells him some of the more ridiculous things that have tried to sneak up on her. It's over twenty things long, contains references to various other works of media, and extends for most of the space in two panels.
  • Losing Your Head: One of the comic's more common Amusing Injuries - to the point that an old banner proudly proclaims "Well That was Unexpected: Where decapitation is in style" - is for characters to survive losing their heads. It's happened to Major Powers and Xeno on many different occasions, as well as various other characters less frequently. Comic 272 features a rare case that is justified by more than just comedy, where Xeno saves a Tau fire warrior that Powers decapitated by putting his body in magical stasis until his head can be reattached. The same thing happens to another Tau later in the same story arc, though things don't end as well for him.
  • Love Confession: Marnia delivers one to Rand in Comic 355. Unfortunately for her, some of their interactions prior to her realizing her feelings lead Rand to shoot her down harshly - as in, "barely restraining himself from violence" harshly.
  • Magitek: Virtually everything in the world of Aios seems to run on a mixture of magic and high technology, with the most commonly used terms being "mageware" and "technomancy". This is perhaps most exemplified by the magic-using AI civilization of Hypt, but in general identifying any individual item as purely magical or technological is difficult to do. Even some spells appear to be structured more like computer programming, although this may just partly be Rule of Funny.
  • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: A lot of events in the comic are pretty bizarre, but one in Chapter 12 is particularly lacking in any sort of explanation. Beginning with Comic 697, Major Powers begins randomly transforming into some other being or creature (usually from other fictional works, although on one occasion he became an Arcane Incarnation) with each comic he appears in, often taking on the appropriate speech patterns. The other characters seem aware of this, but are only mildly interested by it. By the end of the chapter, he's reverted to his normal human form, apparently for good and still without an explanation.
  • Mass Teleportation: An Eternus strike force enters Magebane this way in Comic 127 through use of the actual mass teleport spell. Magebane's eventual retaliation in Chapter 5, in turn, sees the Apprentice do this on a much more ridiculous level as he teleports in an army so huge it spans the entire horizon.
    • Magebane forces do this again in Comic 627, teleporting in to form a second front behind our heroes' front lines during the battle for Leesburg. The Hypt Dragons in the same battle also engage in tactical mass teleportation, though unlike the other instances in the comic this is through their individual teleportation abilities, not a single powerful spellcaster.
  • Mauve Shirt: The orc Praetorian pilot of our heroes' gunship in Chapter 7, despite at first seeming like he's obviously going to be killed off, winds up becoming this. Over the course of the chapter he develops a personality, mostly revolving around resentment of the PCs' tendency to ignore him, and manages to survive all of the action despite never getting a name or indeed even taking off his helmet until (possibly) his very last appearance.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Comic 398 features an ominous-looking cloaked figure noticeable crossing the screen in the background while Xeno speaks to a camera in the foreground. As some readers might guess, he later turns out to be Major Powers, infiltrating the party that's being held.
    • A foreshadowy one occurs in the last panel of Comic 504, where in the distant background Kaylethia, sporting a chest wound that's nasty even by her standards, can be seen drinking a healing potion. In light of later events, this is a strong hint that she was really the red dragon who sustained serious damage from Powers, including a massive chest injury, in the previous couple of comics.
  • Million Mook March: Played for laughs in Comic 407, where Lord Magebane has assembled a vast force of Magebane soldiers in ordered rows, and appears to be on the verge of giving a dramatic speech... only to just yell at them "Which one of you sons of bitches stole my monocle?!"
    • Parodied in a different way in Comic 257, where the Apprentice shows off the size of his obscenely huge invasion force by going surfing in it.
  • Minor Major Character: Several characters who are extremely important figures in the setting as a whole have only appeared briefly in the actual comic, or at least in minor roles compared to the protagonists. Chapter 8 features a whole party full of world leaders who mostly only act as cameos, though admittedly some of them (like the Archmagister Prime of High Aios) might appear again later.
    • Chapter 9 features as one of its antagonists High Lord of Terra Aron Levinary, the Master of the Administratum, a title that according to Warhammer 40,000 canon would make him perhaps the single most powerful political figure in the Imperium. Although he does have some continuing story presence, he's completely outweighed in narrative relevance by his Adeptus Custodes bodyguards and even his name is only rarely mentioned.
  • Monowheel Mayhem: A couple of one-wheeled vehicles called "laser monocycles" appear in Chapter 8, including two used by Kaylethia and Torn in a race, and one driven by the ruler of the Khorran Confederacy, which defuses an apparent confrontation by accidentally mowing down one of Lord Magebane's bodyguards. Not much is described about how they work, though.
  • Mook Lieutenant: The rookie Tau Shas'Ui commanding Xeno's Tau forces in Chapter 11, who is unusually an example of a Mook Lieutenant allied with the protagonists. He has something of a personality and delivers the punchline a few times, but he primarily exists to put a face (metaphorically speaking) on Xeno's troops and relay their orders. He ultimately survives the battle.
  • Motivational Lie: In Comic 603, "Browncloak" sics Jeroshaw - who is currently under restraint because of his obsession with the mysterious "cambro" artifact - on the attacking Hypt Dragons by telling him that they're here to steal it. Jeroshaw promptly destroys several of the attacking dragons while screaming in rage.
  • Multiple Head Case: The leader of the Khorran Confederacy is (or are?) Lord Drehalle and Pert'eren, a two-headed member of Rand's race, who apparently has more than his (their?) share of problems as a result - for starters, the right head is gay. They claim to share control by having the left head control walking and the left arm and the right head control the right arm and punch him in the face occasionally; it evidently works out more fairly than you'd think.
    Kaylethia: Oh, I see. A completely efficient distribution of motor function that works out satisfactorily to everyone.
    Left Head: No! I only control one arm and it still hurts to blink!
    Right Head: Oh yeah, totally works out great for the both of us.
    Left Head: You gave me a concussion!
    Right Head: Works out great!
  • Name's the Same: In-Universe, a great deal of both confusion and humor has arisen over the course of the comic from the fact that the Emperor of the Magebane Empire shares the title that is his only known name with the (God-)Emperor of Mankind. From a meta perspective, however, the author once said that he regretted not giving Magebane's Emperor a more distinctive title.
    • The fact that "Arcane Incarnation" is often abbreviated to "AI" can be a bit confusing when there are also a number of Artificial Intelligence characters in the comic.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: The anti-Eternus terrorist group Atlas, who act as the villains of an arc stretching from Chapter 4 to Chapter 7 (with some interruptions). They have access to advanced technology and magic, but their goals are intentionally left rather vague.
  • Neck Snap: Played for morbid laughs in Comic 125, where Powers kills the renegade psyker Eric by snapping his neck... and then keeps twisting it to see how many revolutions he can make with it.
    "1080... twist 1260... twist 1440!"
  • Nice Hat:
    • True to Warhammer 40,000 canon and fandom traditions, a number of large and ornate hats are shown being used by characters from the Imperium of Man, including the commissar caps used in disguises by Rand, Limbaw, and the lich-lord from the beginning of Chapter 10, and High Lord Levinary's bizarre headgear describable only as a cyber-miter.
    • For unclear reasons, the Eternus Royal Palace itself has a giant hat with the Eternus "E" on its roof. It's even been called a "spiffy hat" in-universe in Comic 255.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Thanks to being a mashup of Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer 40,000, and its own Science Fantasy elements, the comic has a couple of these:
    • Xeno is an undead Tau wizard. Or at least a spellcaster of some sort.
    • Hypt Dragons are robot dragon skeletons - though technically they're just robots designed to look like skeletal dragons.
  • No Indoor Voice: Khorne in Chapter 12, in humorous contrast to his generally Affably Evil characterization, speaks entirely in ALLCAPS and jagged-looking speech bubbles that make him look like he's constantly screaming.
    The Emperor: Well I don't need to talk in all-caps for EMPHASIS!!1!!
  • Nominal Importance: As a general rule, the longer a character appears in the comic without getting a name, the less likely that character is to survive for the long run. Notable examples include the tarrasque second-in-command of Atlas and the squad of Arcane Incarnations who appeared in Chapter 9 and stuck around for over a hundred comics without any of them ever getting names - - with one who repeatedly tried being shouted down with "NO ONE CARES"note . True to the trope, they all die at the end of the chapter - though so does long-time named villain Clanor. The trope is averted, however, with minor one-off characters, whose death or survival doesn't really hinge on whether they have a name.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Played for laughs in Comic 675, where an assassin fleeing through the Eternus Royal Palace is cornered in the so-called UCOOPOL room:
    Marnia: "UCOOPOL room"?
    Marcellan: "Unnecessary Catwalks Over Open Pools Of Lava" room, your highness.
  • Not a Date: In Comic 299, Torn and Kaylethia decide to go on a so-called "man date", described by Torn as being "like a date except no romance is involved". Of course, being Torn and Kaylethia, they spend much more time during it killing gangsters and having rambling arguments than doing anything that actually resembles going on a date.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: High Lord Levinary spends most of Chapter 9 seeming like a somewhat doddering old man, who's treated with utter disrespect by his Custodes escorts and whose rants about Imperial xenophobia don't seem nearly as threatening as those of Major Powers. Then in Comic 554, he suddenly kills an Arcane Incarnation in a single blow, just for saying that it's wrong to kill people just because they're different from you. However, he then goes right back to harmless, launching into an incoherent monologue about heretics rather than shooting the heroes he has at gunpoint.
  • Odd Job Gods: The gods killed by the Emperor prior to the events of the comic included gods and goddesses with portfolios such as cyberpunk, soft objects, and architecture. Within the comic, a "Lesser God of Expendability" briefly appears before also being killed by the Emperor.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: A number of different types of dragons appear over the course of the comic:
    • Standard D&D dragons are represented by Armezpt, the blue dragon leader of Atlas, and a couple of unnamed red wyrms that show up in Chapter 9 and 11; the second of these is all but explicitly stated to be minor character "Vinny" in shapeshifted form. Comic 684 confirms that Vinny is really Kaylethia, and that she is indeed a red dragon posing as an elf; the first red dragon was probably also her.
    • Rand's familiar, Jeroshaw, is a dragon made out of lasers. Little information has been provided about his exact nature, though he's evidently pretty young.
    • The Hypt Dragons are robotic skeletal dragons first introduced in Chapter 10. Almost all of them seem to be bent on wiping out all organic life, though one, Arc, is apparently friendly and rather childlike. Hypt Dragons seem to be able to respawn from Hypt's server demiplane after dying, and at least some of them can disguise themselves as humanoids, while Arc has a small mobile robot form.
    • Apparently unrelated to the Hypt Dragons, another robot dragon - called a "metadragon" - briefly appears as a member of the Eternus Praetorians in Chapter 5. Named Geboren, he didn't seem to have any kind of transforming ability, though he was pretty tough and was one of only a few people to know Princess Marnia's true appearance. He hasn't been seen since, however.
    • Kaylethia was turned into a small red "dragonoid" in Chapter 4 by an effect that caused people to become what they were most afraid of. In this form she didn't seem to have any kind of breath weapon or shapeshifting ability, though she was physically much tougher than she had been as an elf. The spell was eventually reversed. Later information makes it clear that the reason this was her worst fear was her desire for her friends not to find out about her true nature.
  • Painting the Medium: The comic features many standard types of Painting the Medium, such as colored speech balloons and the like. However, it also contains one notable subversion of the trope in Chapter 9: when a flashback Marnia is recounting is portrayed as a play - with wooden floorboards, all the characters talking like she does, and the normal inventory text being replaced by signs dangling from the ceiling - it seems like this is just reflecting her strange speech pattern and bizarre way of viewing the world. But then one of the signs falls and injures the actress playing Marnia, revealing that it's an actual play that she apparently wrote, found a cast for, and dragged the rest of the characters to watch in the time since the last comic before it started.
  • Passive Rescue: Occurs in Comic 163, where the Apprentice helps Major Powers (who has been arrested) escape custody by doing nothing more than telekinetically using an Eternus beam-saber to cut his bonds. Powers takes care of the rest of the escape in his usual violent fashion.
  • Pie in the Face: In Comic 618, "Vinny" follows up Marnia and Savaddor's accusations that Xeno is untrustworthy by shooting him in the face with a rocket-propelled pie. In the name of diplomacy, Xeno waves the incident over by claiming that pies to the face are one of the most sincere signs of friendship in Tau culture. He later says they're actually an extremely obscene gesture.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: According to Torn in Comic 576, these are extremely popular among the Eternus royal court. Princess Marnia has been shown to have a great many different ones - some of them shout-outs to other media - including one self-parodic monstrosity that's too large to fit through a door. Rand also experiments with dresses of this sort after the second time he's turned female, though they're comparatively restrained next to Marnia's.
  • Playing Both Sides: Xeno and Torn during the Hyptian war arc provide assistance to both our heroes and the enemy Hyptians; while they seem to be more honest about it with the latter, they were apparently prepared to directly intervene in order to stop the Hypt Apocalypse Cruiser if Rand couldn't. The full details still remain unclear.
  • Power Crystal: The primary macguffin driving the events of Chapters 1 and 2 is the Magus Crystal, an enchanted crystal that is supposedly the only key to the gate into High Aios, and which the Emperor is seeking to obtain. He ultimately fails - though the Magus Crystal is subsequently established to be unnecessary. This is, of course, inevitably lampshaded:
    Xeno: As usual in fantasy-themed adventures, the very important quest item is a crystal...
  • Powered Armor: The Adeptus Custodes all wear shiny brass Imperial powered armor - not, for some reason, gold as in canon. After Sereyentheous switches bodies with Rand, he gets a version modified for his new physiology. It's apparently integrated directly into his body, with the result that he has to devote a portion of Rand's magic just to keep himself from dying, and he bleeds copiously after taking it off. A few other types of Imperial power armor appear in the comic, most notably worn by Major Powers.
    • Eternus apparently uses a less advanced form of powered armor for its police, military, and Praetorians, though the fact that it's powered armor is only explicitly mentioned once. It's noticeably less bulky than Imperial armor, and correspondingly isn't as effective at stopping all forms of damage, though it does easily resist basic gunfire.
    • The Atlas "Elites" use a form of powered armor that seems midway in size between Eternus and Imperial armor. Judging from the one time the Elites were shown in action, though, it's rather less effective than either of them.
  • Power Fist: Comic 238 reveals that among the many items in Princess Marnia's inventory is an Eternus Metafist, a giant powered fist that can also act as a gun. Although its comically-oversized nature makes it not seem like much good for anything besides pratfalls, Torn still uses it during Chapters 5 and 6, when he is temporarily without an axe.
  • Power Glows: Discussed and invoked in Comic 404. After meeting the Archmagister Prime, Kaylethia notes that she thought he'd "be shinier." The Archmagister obliges by glowing brilliantly, apparently taking the appearance she'd expected right out of her head.
  • Praetorian Guard: The royal family of Eternus are protected by an elite military force that are explicitly called the Praetorians, who wear snazzy white and red armor and capes, and seem to spend a lot of time standing around the palace halls. Although Rand and Kaylethia have both derided them as glorified cannon fodder, they've generally appeared reasonably competent when depicted in action, though they're no match for the more powerful villains.
    • Three members of the Emperor of Mankind's Adeptus Custodes - Lahvin, Limbaw, and Sereyentheous - play a major role in the plot starting with Chapter 9. However, they're not actually guarding the Emperor and are in fact very happy to be out in the action again after 10,000 years of standing around the Imperial Palace on Terra. They do initially start out as bodyguards to Aron Levinary, one of the High Lords of Terra - the men who effectively run the Imperium in the Emperor's absence - but they don't listen very much to him at all.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: In-universe, Rand implies to Gromm in an early comic that this is one of the benefits of being a player character: other characters will easily forgive you for offenses you commit against them because you're a PC. In practice, though, this hasn't really been borne out by later events, except by the general tendency of characters to not seriously hold each other's acts of Comedic Sociopathy against each other (though it's interesting to note that the biggest aversion to this - Rand's long-lasting grudge against Marnia - existed between two PCs).
  • Pūnct'uatìon Sh'akër:
    • The tendency of canon Warhammer 40,000 Tau names and words to do this is repeatedly parodied with the Tau in the comic, who randomly interject apostrophes into their everyday speech (as in "Good d'ay") as a Running Gag. Apostrophes are also repeatedly used to give Tau or their equipment punny names, including at least one, Xeno's short-lived superior officer Shas'O Aypos'troh Fee'cr'ayzeenote , whose name draws attention to the apostrophes themselves.
    • Played straight with the naming conventions of Rand's species, with an apostrophe separating the first name and surname, as in "Rand'Teh" and "Gromm'Teh".
  • Ramming Always Works: Somewhat subverted in Chapter 7, where after his gunship is damaged by enemy fire, Major Powers tries to use it to ram the Atlas base. However, this has no real effect except getting him captured, though of course that doesn't last long.
  • Random Events Plot: The whole comic has traces of this, but it's particularly notable with Chapter 8, which suffered from a clear case of writer fatigue about halfway through. In short order: the Emperor rampages through an ongoing party, then undoes all his damage; Major Powers shows up inexplicably sporting Anime Hair and is anticlimactically apprehended and taken away by the Archmagister Prime of High Aios; and Marnia and Kaylethia start trying to kill each other for very little reason, only for their fight to peter out as they watch Rand injure his head with a falling pulse rifle. (And naturally, this last leads to the introduction of a major character as Rand, after storming out in disgust, winds up going to buy a familiar).
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": Xeno delivers a series of panicked "NO"s in Comic 656, after realizing that Rand (in the body of a Custodian) is about to try and deflect the falling Apocalypse Cruiser that he's standing on by punching it.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: Several early portions of the flashback Rand is narrating at the beginning of Chapter 9 have him arguing with the Arcane Incarnation Icktepetchis over what exactly happened. Though it's never made clear which of them is accurate, in general Rand's version comes across as... slightly less plausible:
    Icktepetchis: Hey Commisssar, I'm gonna go over there and be completely useless while you risk your life against an invincible foe.
    Rand: Sorry, can't hear you over the sound of how much win is going on right now!
  • Readings Blew Up the Scale: In Comic 503, Marnia's Detect Evil ability overloads and shuts down when she uses it on Powers, though it doesn't actually cause her any harm.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Ethereal heading Xeno's Tau enclave. Though initially seeming arrogant, unlike many other characters in the comic when faced with challenges unlike anything he's prepared for he's quick to accept that he's in over his head, and he's willing to let Xeno run the show when necessary.
  • Recurring Extra: Early in the comic, a kobold janitor (possibly named Nik) in Icktepetchis's Dungeons gets shot in the eye by Major Powers and takes revenge upon him and Gary. Through the remainder of the comic, and now with a cybernetic eye replacement, he's made various cameo appearances in the background, none of them really plot relevant. He even made it into a fan-submitted guest comic once.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Parodied and subverted in Comic 640, when the "Vinny"/Arc fusion dragon comments "Huh, black and red color scheme and text boxes. I must be extremely evil"... before declaring "Naaah!" and getting on with the battle she's fighting in.
    • Played straight with Lord Secundus, a shadow-creature with red eyes and outline and red and black speech bubbles that are actually indicative of him being evil. A demon he summons in Chapter 4 has similar colors and special effects, and his right-hand man Clanor happens to be heavily associated with the color red as well.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: Demon Lord Secundus evidently likes this trope: his private demiplane, seen briefly at the beginning of Chapter 8, has both an evil-looking red sky and an equally red ground, and in Comic 288 he turns the (non-supernatural) storm clouds over Rand's hometown red when he manifests there - though he quickly knocks it off after his buddy the Great Mechanicus complains that it's "creepy as hell".
    • In a variant on the trope, areas under the influence of Superintendent Kalros's omnicidal Hyptian faction are marked by nasty-looking green skies, similar to the neon green of his brand of Hypt technomancy. They first appear in Chapter 11 and may be caused by the glow of his Apocalypse Cruiser, as they clear up quickly to blue skies once it's gone. Similar green skies reappear during the party's attempt to infiltrate the Superintendent's server in Chapter 13 and are one of the usual warning signs that they're about to be attacked, which is pointed out by Kaylethia in Comic 748.
    • Another ominous red sky appears in Chapter 12, after Sereyentheous summons Khorne to Aios and engages him in combat. For bonus points, either the summoning ritual or the battle also turned the immediate ground area nearby into a hellish-looking red landscape. Again, it fades to a blue sky once Khorne is banished.
  • Reference Overdosed: Thanks to its heavily improvisational nature, the comic references all kinds of nerd culture, both existing and as it happens in real time. This has had the side effect of making it into something of an Unintentional Period Piece when it comes to internet memes.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Done in typically bizarre fashion in Comic 611, in which a talking Tyranid Zoanthrope named Toby is suddenly introduced as an old friend of Torn and company, without any explanation of how he knows them or, just as importantly, why he's talking and not a vicious alien monster. He's killed off three comics later, making an explanation unlikely.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Rand's species are dangerous man-eating predators that the human population of Aios generally seem to distrust and fear. In practice, however, it winds up being averted with the actual characters from that species: Princess Marnia is generally one of the nicer people in the comic (though she does have a vicious side), and Rand, while often a colossal Jerkass, has never actually been shown to have eaten anyone who didn't try to kill him first, and is generally much more callous and self-centered than genuinely evil; he's also been gradually developing into a nicer person.
  • Robot Republic: The City-State of Hypt or the Hypt Academies (it's not clear if there's any difference) is a civilization of artificial intelligences called Functions and a few other kinds of AIs. Although Hypt proper exists in a private cyberspace demiplane, it maintains a physical presence on Aios in the form of its massive technomantic servers, which seem to be mostly located at the poles. Its origins are unknown, but it's an old ally of the Kingdom of Eternus. Unfortunately, as of Chapter 10, the Superintendent of Hypt has seemingly gone mad and is using the city-state's resources in an attempt to wipe out all organic life, though not all Hyptians support him in this goal.
  • RPG-Mechanics Verse: In addition to operating under Dungeons and Dragons rules (with some Warhammer 40,000 mixed in), the setting also draws upon aspects of computer RPGs. "PCs" have inventories in which they can instanteously store items in or equip them from, which is indicated with inventory text above their heads. Major Powers has apparently learned how to shut his text off in order to help him ambush his opponents.
  • Screw You, Elves!: While Kaylethia is extremely vocal about her hatred of other elves, the true victims of this trope are the Arcane Incarnations. They've been depicted onscreen as patronizing and dismissive of mortals, and among the Emperor's minions both Xeno and Torn have argued that the true reason they oppose him is not because he's really a danger to the multiverse, but because they hate and fear the possibility of a human managing to become that powerful independently of them. Indeed, Torn's Motive Rant in Comic 560 is almost entirely this trope when it's not Rage Against the Heavens.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Parodied in Comic 563, in which a character portentously warns Rand that the Lich-Lord Punof Obscurevilgod has returned to threaten Aios after spending many weeks in prison for a parole violation.
  • Secret Test of Character: Comic 136 features one involving the villains, in which Lord Magebane presents Xeno with a captured Tau fire warrior - supposedly caught spying on them - and orders Xeno to kill him. Xeno refuses, proving that when the Emperor brought him back from the dead, it was with his soul still present, which is apparently not the case for most undead. Lord Magebane himself isn't actually happy with this, but it's evidently what the Emperor was hoping for.
  • Separate Scene Storytelling: Subverted in Comic 383, which opens with Torn and Kaylethia trying to figure out why Rand has had the bizarre idea to hide from Marnia by staying in her own palace. This leads him to begin telling them about how she had shown up at his house last night, and the ensuing flashback takes up most of the comic. But when we cut back to Rand, he's actually telling his friends a (probably bullshit) story about the time he allegedly killed and ate a Hyptian Professor, with apparently nothing more having been said about the incident with Marnia.
  • Series Continuity Error: There are surprisingly few despite the silly and random nature of the comic, but one notable case occurs with the Apprentice. When he first debuts, Xeno tells him to just go along with Powers's automatic assumption that he is a Daemon Prince of the Warp rather than try and convince Powers of something outside his indoctrinated worldview. All future appearances of the Apprentice, however, treat him as actually being a daemon prince even when Powers isn't around to fool, and the end of Chapter 9 actually has his ability to navigate the Warp as a minor plot point.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The ultimate outcome of all of the dungeon crawling and double-crossing in Chapters 1 and 2 is Kaylethia turning the Magus Crystal over to Clanor in exchange for a truce, effectively putting it back where it began. Though at least Team Rand all gained a level out of it.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Kaylethia, Marnia, and gender-bent Rand are just as prone to being made fools of and being comedically injured as the male characters are, and Arc (who is ambiguously female) might be even more so.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Very firmly rooted on the silliness side of the scale. The setting is an insane mash-up of about three different backgrounds that mesh together (inasmuch as they do at all) only through copious amounts of Rule of Cool and especially Rule of Funny, and while the main plot has occasionally dipped into genuinely epic or dark moments, it's generally not taken very seriously by either the narrative or, surprisingly frequently, the characters themselves. In general the comic has done a remarkable job at maintaining a long-running storyline without falling victim to Cerebus Syndrome.
  • Smoke Shield: Played surprisingly straight for the comic (though still lampshaded, of course) in Comic 366, where after Rand blasts the Emperor with a Galick Gun spell, the results remain shrouded in smoke for several panels. Naturally, just as Rand has finished declaring victory, the smoke clears to reveal the Emperor was completely unaffected, though his sunglasses were vaporized. Rand further spoofs the trope by commenting that his Galick Gun shouldn't even leave smoke clouds in the first place.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Discussed, and ultimately defied in Comic 220, where Clanor complains to Lord Secundus about the standard villain procedure he's following of slowly confronting the heroes with progressively stronger opponents. Secundus attempts to defend it, but ultimately agrees that it's stupid, and instead directly strikes at the heroes with a polymorph effect intended to turn them against each other.
    • Played straight in terms of the standard opponents the protagonists face over the comic as a whole, which have gone from relatively mundane gangsters and terrorists to Hypt Dragons and daemons of Khorne.
  • Space Is Noisy: Averted for comedic effect in Comic 368, where the Emperor is forced to communicate telepathically with Powers when in a vacuum, commenting that "I'm using telepathy because I wanna stick it to Star Wars by an insane quasifantasy setting being more realistic than they are".
  • Special Effect Branding: Most types of energy weapons and spellcasting in the comic have their own unique visual and sound effects. However, one aversion shows up with the Tau and Eternus energy weaponry, which share a bright blue appearance and distinctive "FREEN" (or sometimes "BREEN") sound effect despite being from entirely unrelated sources.
  • Spider Tank: The giant Hyptian Targnillian-class combat forms introduced in Chapter 13 have a distinctly spider-like appearance, with a main body divided into two segments that is suspended on a number of spindly legs, and eight glowing "eyes" on their front. This shape proves impractical more than once, as several characters are able to incapacitate Targnillians by using their leg design to knock them off-balance.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: In-Universe, Team Rand discusses early in the comic the risk that the "Warhammer guys" are stealing their spotlight as the supposed main characters. This is not actually the case: though they do get plenty of screentime for villains, Rand and his party are still the clear main characters.
  • Stable Time Loop: Comic 556 features a very brief one: when the Apprentice opens a rift to the Warp, a version of Custodian Limbaw from eight months in the future emerges from it and inexplicably (and rather stupidly) throws Major Powers into it, causing the present Limbaw to dive in after him. Future Limbaw then explains that he drifted in the Warp for eight months, becoming increasingly confused and remembering only that his future self threw Powers into the Warp for some reason - which is why he did it.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: For some reason, among the non-sequiturs uttered by an apparently-drunk Rand - really suffering the aftereffects of a mind-scan by Professor Savaddor - in Comic 593 is "I'm a magic man. I have magic hands," a phrase earlier used by his quasi-doppleganger Serg over two hundred comics before. Making it more amusing, Serg originally said it as part of an attempt to hit on Marnia.
  • Tank Goodness
    • At the end of Chapter 0, Rand and his friends acquire an Imperial main battle tank that formerly belonged to Major Powers. It's apparently a variant of the Imperium's ubiquitous Leman Russ design, but when introduced to Aios it proves extremely effective at dealing with random encounters, and it's taken even further when Rand starts casting fly spells on it. Sadly it's eventually destroyed by Powers, who considers it irreversibly tainted as the result of spending so much time in use by xenos.
    • Chapter 12 introduces an Adeptus Custodes Grav-Fellglaive, a solid gold tank which Rand accurately sums up by saying "Like all things Custodes, it must be insane and over the top." The Grav-Fellglaive can fly unaided, is apparently completely indestructible, and has at least 87 gears, the highest of which can theoretically let it travel in time. It's initially used only as transportation for Marnia and Ser's first date, but later on Rand and Powers attempt to use it to literally punch out Khorne. They fail, but the Fellglaive still survives getting smashed out of orbit with little more than minor scuffing on its surface.
  • Tempting Fate: Another of the comic's stock running gags is to have characters obviously and obliviously do this, often to the consternation of a more Genre Savvy witness. Comic 361 features Rand attempting to exploit it: still seething with rage against Marnia over recent events, he decides to start talking about how safe they are and explains that it's because he hopes whatever horrible thing happens as a result will injure her the worst.
    Kaylethia: Ah, the high-tech method.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: While Atlas is described as a terrorist organization working against Eternus, pretty much every character we see - from the protagonists to the people of Eternus to most of the members of Atlas - seems unclear on exactly what its goals or motives are, other that than they are "anarchists" in some vague way. As with everything in the comic, this eventually gets lampshaded.
  • There Was a Door: In Comic 316, Torn smashes through the wall of an enemy base (which doesn't even have anyone in it) rather than use the door. An annoyed Kaylethia responds by delivering a bizarre spiel of exposition - or at least supposed exposition - about a time long ago before the door was invented, when people had to use rocket launchers to get into their homes, often with fatal results, before concluding:
    Kaylethia: In honor of the great sacrifices of King John and others which spurred on this great technological marvel... USE THE GODDAMN DOOR!!!
  • Third Law of Gender Bending: Noticeably averted: during both of the times in which he's been turned female, Rand acts pretty much exactly the same as he did when he was male. In fact, since the comic also averts Non-Mammal Mammaries, during the first gender-bending incident virtually the only way to tell anything's happened is that the characters mention it in dialogue. During the second time Rand does experiment with wearing dresses, but this is mostly because Marnia's fondness for them has convinced him they're some sort of armor.
  • This Cannot Be!: Parodied in Comic 484, where Xeno reacts to losing control of a very destructive spell in the face of an attacking Custodian by crying out "Noooo, generic villain denial of the limits of my poweeeeeeeer!"
  • This Is Reality: Played with in Comic 158. As Major Powers attempts to kill an orc civilian, Rand rejects Torn's urging that they help by suggesting that they instead wait and see what wacky thing occurs to stop him. Torn angrily insists that "this isn't some movie or some comic. This is serious. That orc is going to die unless we do something now," only to be interrupted by a Space Marine on a flying motorbike randomly crashing into the area... and missing Powers, forcing our heroes to intervene after all.
  • Training Montage: Comic 245 (the longest comic as of the beginning of 2016, incidentally) features Xeno, who has recently suffered a massive loss of power, regaining his strength under the Apprentice's supervision. It's set to a parodic version of "Be A Man".
  • Trap Is the Only Option: In Comic 258, Rand is smart enough to figure that being told by a mysterious stranger to meet him somewhere isolated outdoors is a trap, but goes to meet him anyway, presumably figuring he can easily deal with it. Unfortunately for him, he's underestimated his opponent, and the ensuing fight does not go well.
    • Done again in Comic 314, where Princess Marnia and Archduke Araske arrive at the lair of some gangsters and are told to wait in a small room, which is obviously a trap. They have perfectly good reason for walking into it, though:
    Marnia: Might I inquire as to why must a tarrasque shalt behave worriedly towards a trap?
  • Tron Lines: One of the common elements of Hypt's technological aesthetic. Everything within Hypt's cyberspace demiplane appears composed of these, but even without it, they're a common element of both Hyptian technology and character designs. In particular, the Superintendent of Hypt's features consist of nothing but glowing green lines on a featureless black body. The inside of Savaddor's ally Professor Iddex's server in Chapter 13 is also thoroughly covered with glowing lines on the walls, in Iddex's signature bright pink.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Parodied in Comic 262, where a wizard attacking Rand, while explaining why he wants revenge, declares "I still remember that day like it was yesterday" and proceeds to hover motionlessly for several panels, having apparently gone into one of these without the readers seeing it. Rand takes advantage of the distraction to loot some new robes from the ruins they're fighting in.
    • Played straight in Comic 628, where "Vinny" briefly flashes back to her mother being killed by a Vector Witch.
  • Unnecessarily Large Vessel: The Eternus skyship carrier seen in Chapter 8, which has an interior so large it gives off echoes and that Team Rand can use to have races in. Its crew never even appears; although it's hard to tell whether this is because the carrier is so huge or the crew is so small, both would fit the trope.
  • Utility Magic: One of Rand's more commonly seen spells is "Summon Aspirin", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. He uses it to deal with headaches, although this frequently doesn't quite work out right.
  • Villainous Rescue: In Comic 706, the Emperor teleports into the battle between Khorne and Sereyentheous, saving not only the latter but very likely the entire world, because he's very eager to take the opportunity to kill another deity. The ensuing battle between him and Khorne is actually unexpectedly inconclusive, but he buys our heroes enough time for Rand to save the day.
  • Visual Pun: Near the end of Chapter 1, while in a frost demiplane, Kaylethia and Powers are seen using a couple of random flaming Tau corpses to keep warm and make popcorn. While this at first appears to be just more of the comic's standard wacky nonsense, it makes slightly more sense when you remember that the name for Tau soldiers is fire warriors.
  • Wacky Racing: In Chapter 8, Rand, Torn, and Kaylethia take advantage of the cavernous nature of the Eternus skyship they're inside to have a very Mario Kart-esque race around its interior, with Rand using his magic and the other two using monocycles. The comic goes all the way with the Genre Shift, with Princess Marnia summoning up a "holy HUD" to help readers follow the situation, and Rand dropping random items onto the track at one point. In the end, Torn winds up in third, but whether Rand or Kaylethia wins is left forever unclear thanks to a sudden attack by a Magebane skyship.
  • Walking Spoiler: Gromm, Torn, and Kaylethia have all had major revelations about their true natures that (especially in the case of the first two) make it difficult to discuss them after the reveal without bringing it up.
  • War Arc: Chapter 11, "Scions of Hypt", deals heavily with Hypt's attempt to wipe out the population of Eternus, and more than half of the chapter is focused on the battle to save the city of Leesburg. The Hypt war continues into Chapter 13, though it is shuffled offstage for the more character-centric Chapter 12 and only glimpses of it have appeared in Chapter 13 so far. Part of Chapter 5 - in which a huge Magebane army attacks Eetwosees - could have qualifed, but despite their massive numeric advantage the Magebane forces are so comparatively weak that the battle winds up being more of a massacre than a "war".
  • Warts and All: Played for laughs in Comic 184, where an awed Eternus Praetorian delivers a message to "the hero of Harraski" and "the defender of Leniserend" - Torn and Kaylethia, respectively - and finds them somewhat different from what he was expecting, ultimately culminating in Kaylethia kicking him in the crotch for his annoying behavior.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Comic 675 reveals that entering an antimagic field is fatal to Arcane Incarnations. Since they're literally made of magical energy, this makes some sense, but it's nevertheless a major weakness for these seemingly-unstoppable beings that they can be utterly thwarted by a spell available to mere 11th-level arcane spellcasters.
  • Wham Episode: Rand's storyline in Chapter 5 begins as a fairly random battle against a never-before-mentioned enemy from his past. But when said enemy tries to extend his revenge to Gromm, it turns out that Gromm is, and has always been, a guise used by the demon prince Lord Secundus. The ensuing scenes reveal Secundus's true nature as the former God of Pain and a lot about his motivations and the Emperor's nature (though the latter is not entirely new information).
    • The ending of Chapter 9 has a steady stream of major twists that together add up to at least one wham episode:
      • Comic 542: When told by Custodian Lahvin that the Imperium was never meant to be as xenophobic as it has become, Powers outright attacks him, showing that he's so fanatically indoctrinated that he'll even go against one of the Emperor's most trusted servants if what he says contradicts Powers's beliefs. In the ensuing battle, Powers somehow manages to lift one of the Custodians' glaives - which supposedly weigh as much as stars - and rips off Lahvin's arm before he's taken down. Lahvin gets better quickly, but it still shows Powers is far more dangerous than he appeared.
      • Comic 550: Following the ensuing dispute over what exactly to do with Powers, we get a heavily expositional comic that still manages to drop a major reveal: High Aios is aware of a prophecy suggesting that Rand can kill the Emperor. Clanor immediately dismisses it as "a stupid prophecy written by a stupid man", but he's been Wrong Genre Savvy before. And on a less significant note, Rand's been turned into a girl again.
      • Comic 551: On an uncontrollable ego/anger trip, Clanor fires off an Ultimate Destruction spell at Custodian Sereyentheous for basically no reason - and it works, vaporizing the seemingly godlike Custodian in one hit.
      • Comic 552: Lahvin proceeds to effortlessly curbstomp Clanor in retaliation for his brother's death - and when the Archmagister commanding the Arcane Incarnation squad tries to intervene, Lahvin kills him and Clanor with a single blow, triggering a massive brawl in which the Custodes completely slaughter the AIs.
      • Comic 559: After ample evidence of just how upset the Custodes are about their brother's demise, it's revealed that Rand has stolen his ashes... to use as a table centerpiece.
      • Comic 560: When it all seems over, the biggest twist of the whole storyline - and arguably the whole comic - occurs when the sole surviving Arcane Incarnation encounters Torn, who proceeds to deliver a very uncharacteristic monologue about how the Custodians and High Aios can't be allowed to ally, and how High Aios is nothing but a bunch of petty immortal bureaucrats terrified of the potential the Emperor represents for humanity. He then No Sells an attack from the AI before killing him in one hit, revealing his true nature as a Vector Witch apparently aligned with Magebane's deicidal agenda. This one even features the Unsound Effect PLOT TWIST to let readers know just how big The Reveal is.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Several minor characters have disappeared without a trace after their role in the plot came to an end. Sometimes this is more noticeable than in other cases:
    • Minor villains Armzept and Serg both completely vanish after the end of their respective chapters, despite both being still alive when last seen. They were presumably arrested by E-SEC, but the details are never specified.
    • High Lord Levinary hasn't been seen since Comic 560, despite the continuing major story presence of the Adeptus Custodes who were supposedly meant to act as his bodyguards. Of course, they never listened very much to him anyway. This is eventually lampshaded in the 2015 New Year's Eve Special, in which he appears drunkenly ranting to Lords Magebane and Secundus (who have also not appeared in some time) that "They can't keep me out of the storyline forever. I WILL become relevant again!"
    • The beginning of Chapter 10 sees Rand and a squad of Khorran troopers taking on the Lich-Lord Punof Obscurevilgod in something of a parody of stock adventures. When Imperial Guard forces suddenly attack, Obscurevilgod briefly teams up with Rand against them, but he suddenly teleports away after it's revealed to be an ambush spearheaded by Major Powers. He's never seen again, and whether he - as Rand accuses - helped set up the ambush is never made clear. The ultimate fate of the Khorran troopers also winds up being left unclear, as they don't appear again after Comic 567 (though they probably survived, as their armor was shown easily shrugging off lasgun fire).
    • Also from Chapter 10 is the unnamed elderly human messenger who originally told Rand about Obscurevilgod. Nicknamed "Browncloak" by Rand, he stuck around for a while and even played a role in helping defend the town against Hypt Dragon attackers at the beginning of Chapter 11. However, after Comic 615, which revealed that he survived the attack thanks to Custodian Limbaw, he has not been seen again.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Much of Chapter 1's later half is an extended reference to Portal, with Gary the psyker encountering many elements from that game and acquiring his own floating Weighted Companion Cube. However, the cube later turns out to be evil, resulting in Gary's death and Xeno battling it in a self-described "boss fight" early in Chapter 2.
    • A rather bizarre "mini-arc" in Chapter 9 - lasting for over 30 comics! - involves two of the Custodes taking on Torn and Marnia in a type of battle where they can be on equal terms: a Pokemon battle, in a reference to the then-recently released Pokémon Black and White. Torn and Marnia eventually win, but the whole thing turns out to have been a hallucination of some kind by Major Powers.
  • With Catlike Tread: Used humorously in Comic 53, where a Haunted Armor - which have already been established to make loud clanging noises when they move - attempts to sneak up on Xeno in plain sight while making plenty of noise. Even after he sees it, it continues to insist that "you can't see me because I'm SNEAKING!!"
  • The World Is Always Doomed: Despite being one of the most magitechnologically powerful and stable nations on Aios, the Kingdom of Eternus has been under pretty much constant - not to mention constantly escalating - threat from its first appearance in Chapter 3. Within the comic's timespan of only a few weeks, it's faced a crime wave, terrorists, an invasion attempt by Magebane, a full-scale war with Hypt, and the manifestation of a Chaos God (technically the only one of these that actually threatened to destroy the whole world). There's also been plenty of smaller-scale problems.
  • World of Badass: Being a setting that mashes up Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer 40,000, and various action science fiction elements, the world of Aios winds up being one of these. With exactly two exceptions - Lord Magebane and Rand's little brother Gromm - the entire cast are high-level characters, starting at fifteenth level and going up, with all of the combat skills and ability to take ridiculous amounts of damage that entails. And even Gromm turns out to be a demon lord in disguise. As for the rest of the world, while there are certainly lots of ordinary non-badass people, the main cast are by no means the only high-level characters on Aios: between the repeatedly-referenced fact that "nobles are the deadliest mortal sons of bitches in the world", the Arcane Incarnations everywhere, and the miscellaneous other powerful beings - such as a tarrasque acting merely as a minion for a terrorist group - the planet clearly qualifies.
  • World of Snark: While one might expect a lot of snark from Team Rand, given their nature as Genre Savvy Nominal Hero adventurers, and ditto the Laughably Evil villains, what really propels the comic into this trope is the level of snarkiness from characters who it wouldn't be as predictable: whether it's characters who otherwise act like they're in a more serious story or utterly random extras, it's extremely rare for any character to appear for more than a handful of panels without either delivering sarcastic lines or being the victim of others' snark. Usually, it's both.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Throughout the early-middle comic, a running gag involved dozens of various creatures suddenly appearing to correct anyone who used "sentient" for "sapient", much to the confusion of the regular cast. Though seemingly retired for a long time, the gag made a sudden return in Comic 745. The gag is later subverted in Comic 794, in which Sereyentheous uses "sapient" correctly and the appearing creatures instead give him a thumbs-up.
    • Major Powers seems to use "heresy" to mean literally anything to which he is opposed, regardless of whether it has anything to do with religious beliefs. People have called him out on this several times, but - as one might expect, given that it's Powers - they've had no success.
    Xeno: Wait a second, how is that heresy? Heresy is a difference of opinion on religion.
    Powers: Yeah, your point?
    Xeno: ...nevermind.

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