|This is a /co/ related article, which we allow because we find it interesting or we can't be bothered to delete it.|
Expect huge amounts of derp and rage, punctuated by /tg/ extracting humor from it.
Drowtales: Moonless Age is a fantasy manga-style webcomic that has been running since 2001.
Drowtales (woo-ooo!) has had many iterations, from it's original shitty MSPaint-tier art to dozens of artists collaborating on what is now unarguably one of the best looking webcomics on the internet. Whether the story has likewise improved at all is open to debate. Drowtales is a skub topic on /tg/ that causes massive levels of autism from both it's fans and anti-fans. /tg/ has had several raids of the site's roleplaying forums, with neckbeards attempting to fight the drow Mary Sues with their own dwarf Mary Sues. The only thing most anons agree on is about the art, which, admittedly, is pretty fucking badass.
The simplest way to describe what's wrong with Drowtales can be summarized as: Take Drizzt Syndrome, infect an entire planet's worth of elves with it and replace any self-awareness moments of characters with cognitive dissonance and pump up the Mary Sue. Oh, and add in heaps of obnoxious T&A in the middle of all the wangst, and crank up the Grimdark up to eleven. So it's more Grimderp than Grimdark.
A long time ago there were two elven nations at war. They used a magic spell to break the fucking moon apart and opened a giant portal to the netherworld so that demons flooded the surface of the planet and ate everyone.
What few elves survived this clusterfuck of a war went underground and turned into the drow. They built a giant city and then started fighting each other, preying on completely underpowered humans and slaughtering entire surface towns to drag women and children to slavery (while philosophizing about how their savior Jesus-archetype sorceress Sharess was a good goddess...)
The Empress's daughters betrayed her and locked her in her throne to starve to death while they took over the city, some people began tainting themselves with demons intentionally, the daughter of one of the clan leaders went to a magic school where she pretended to be a boy and then killed a bunch of her friends, a cult tried to summon a demon god into the underworld, and one of the Empress's daughters made a magic flower bioweapon and rode around on a magic airship with mana cannon batteries. Blah blah blah. Cue slavery, its awkward confrontation and incredibly edgy Drow butchering each other with swords, crossbows, artillery, particle rifles and mana powered mecha and submarines (I wish I made that shit up) while arguing that slavery is crucial for them to survive for its food and textile yield. (Said houses have armies of golems, submarines and mecha operated by single Drow pilots who would render manual labor obsolete anyway, but then who'd have eye candy consisting of naked light elves in chains, sitting in the marketplace...?)
tl;dr story writer occasionally shocks with completely illogical edgy points just to leave a minty Skub taste in mouth.
- Sarghress: The clan the main character belongs to and thus the default "heroic" or "reasonable" one. They are a clan of mercenary commoners with a musclegirl matriarch who somehow ride wolves around in the dark underworld. Yeah... In a last few chapters, they started to liberate (Drow) slaves (honestly for pragmatic purposes to stop the Sharen from using a slave army) and acting good... hopefully they'll extend the same courtesy to non-Drow in the future rather than becoming status quo humping, racist and xenophobic angsty elven sluts, so far we make do with them accepting any runaway non-Drow slave under a mercenary brigade called War Meat to fight demons, since non-mana bearing races seem to be immune to demons.
- Sharen: The aristocrats of the city who all wear beautiful outfits and act haughty. Their clan is split into multiple bloodlines who constantly plot against each other. These are the most D&D-like drow in the setting. Also they ride dragons around and their males are mostly nether tainted automatons who wear special armor to keep them from being transformed into demonic horrors.
- Sullisin'rune: Essentially the Brave New World society in drow form. They wear a lot of blue, use empath abilities and have regular orgies in their glowing dome fortress (it's implied to be for intelligence gathering reasons). The main character's lover is from there and quips about that they treat their slaves well (Maya, the light elf slave had a real nice outfit, guiding a young Drow male and looked healthy and well-kept), so apparently being an empath works for once. Since everyone in their clan is always sensing each others emotions, they amount to a kind of quasi-benevolent police state with omniscient surveillance. One of the more interesting factions in the story.
- Vloz'ress: Anarchist demon worshipers. Like anarchists IRL, they are generally useless and self-defeating. Their leader is a figurehead woman with hair like Washu and brain damage making her equal to a 4 year-old child who turns the clan's slaves and captives into eternally tortured dolls, accompanied by a reality busting, 4th wall leaning LOLRANDOM orange haired kid, because self inserts with modern 1337-5P33K adds class to a story... Right?
- Beldrobbaen: Emo goths who live in an inverted castle built on the cavern ceiling. They dress in all black and mope around. Needless to say, they are by far the most popular clan among the fanbase. Their clan is dying out because they lost a whole generation of their girls during a summoning accident, which one would think wouldn't be too bad for a race of immortal beings who can apparently reproduce for their whole lives, except that they refuse to mate with commoners and traditionally turn any male that impregnates a Beldrobbaen woman into a drider knight, so they're basically drow panda...mantis...things.
- Nal'sarkoth: Surface merchants who dress in all green. They barely show up in the story and nobody gives a flying fuck about them. They are seen running a surface trading post and treating their human workers as equals as they actively recruit non-drow races to build up their numbers.
- Illhar'dro: The other merchant clan. Slightly more interesting in that they have a form of magic based on singing (and mana powered concerts). Biggest exporter of drow pop stars in the underworld.
- Kyorl'solenurn: Fanatic crusader assholes, who, aside from torturing tainted Drow to death, are the exact same Mary Sue bastards, with a twist: most are descendants of former light elf slaves, so their hatred of tainted Drow might be an outlet for their passive-aggressive grudge (the fact that their patriarchs secretly are in fact light elves may have something to do with it)... Kinda like an entire society of half-black KKK in New York trying to hunt down Ashkenazim...
- Jaal'darya: Female-only clan who use biotechnology. They create artificial life forms and transform their bodies into all kinds of weird shit. Regularly seen snatching babies to make bio-golems, as if the setting wasn't any more edgy.
Way too many to list. There are dozens of them. The comic just rains characters, most of which are unimportant or are only there for background. The reason is that the characters are commissioned by donators who want to show off their horribly designed alter egos.
- The clan matriarchs are all expert mages who would kick your shit in if you fought them, yet can't even run their houses without fucking up half of the city in an enormous conflagration by magic and demons.
- One of them is a empath who can kill opponents with a glance. One of them uses shadow tentacles to rip opponents apart. One of them is a 9 foot tall warrior woman. One of them is straight out of Dragonball Z.
- Ariel is supposedly the main character but in the end amounts to fuck all. She goes to a magic school and then dicks around on the surface for a while, occasionally wrecking human towns and generally being a Mary Sue with a moral myopia. Before she was retconned, it was even worse: letting her light elf slave Maya be a sacrifice to Sharess (who wasn't even supposed to be a Lolth expy but a sorcerer/turned savior goddess of her people, and the world since she stopped demons from emerging) for visions. After the retcon she is still a fucking idiot with a case of Grimderp-lesbian-mana-operated mecha pilot (which is one of her hundreds of different, omnipotent skills) who accidentally killed Maya in a fit of rage when the light elf tried to maternally protect her young master, and started to feel bad about it... For a few days.
- Liriel, her perky loli slave who is retardedly optimistic of her fate and cheered as Maya's guts were blasted by a magic missile by accident, is actually the Empress whose soul fled into her personal slave to escape death... yeah, some chuunibyou-grade retarded cliche shit there. (I was the Empress in my former life!)
- Vaelia, Ariel's human gladiator bodyguard, who is so fucked beyond all saving that she needs to be explained in detail below. (Hint: one of the only non-Mary Sue, and actually flawed and scarred characters are removed from main plot and humiliated...go figure...)
- The actual main characters are supposed to be Chrys'tel and Kiel'ndia. Both of them take initiative in fighting their own evil clans and trying to save the city.
- Chrys'tel is a Sharen petulant loli drow noble who investigates her traitorous family.
- Kiel'ndia is a Vloz'ress tomboy punk demon summoner girl who breaks the 4th wall and speaks in modern English vernacular.
- Naal'suul is the best character in Drowtales. She is a totally adorable Beldrobbaen emo goth drow girl who has a giant spider that she wears as a backpack. She manages to defeat Ariel fairly easily during their fight by magically encasing her in tangible darkness, but lets her live so that she can save Ariel's mercenary slave from bleeding out on the ground. She even has a pretty noble death in the end, suiciding herself against Snadhya'rune's agents so that her friends can escape. She has the most emo appearance, powers and backstory anyone could ask for but is one of the few characters who could be considered to be purely heroic. Her taint ended up taking over her body, but she had enough willpower to retain her consciousness and personality until eventually joining Kiel's orgy of demon pals.
- There's 4-5 other characters from various clans that travel with Ariel, but they do nothing of any importance.
- The main villain of the story is Snadhya'rune. She is a purple haired Sharen summoner who wears fabulous fur coats and has smug levels that go into orbit. Though evil and cruel, at least she doesn't dick around or claim goodness or innocence. Perfect sociopath.
So What's Wrong With It?
The main complaint /tg/ has is that the characters are all either Mary Sues, or edgier than Coldsteel the Hedgeheg even at inappropriate moments.
/tg/ doesn't mind grimdark. It doesn't mind slavery, S&M, badass Drow, porn, PROMOTIONS, mutilation and torture and wars, a world after a horrible disaster or hopeless, overwhelming racism and powerful warrior races ruining everyone's day.
/tg/ minds logic and moral dissonance, PARTICULARLY Villain Sues, weeaboo faggotry trying to show Dark Eldar level slave societies which act obliviously innocently, and the plot having more holes than swiss cheese with logic failures combined with bishie sparkles that outdo Twilight... THEN authors claiming all sides have a grey morality scale when their creator's pets surpass Caligula and Darth Vader in terms of fuckwittery and grimdark. At least the bad guys of Warhammer 40000 don't try to give themselves a pass with "all morality is relative", or if they are it's only before Exterminatus comes down on them from orbit or an Eversor tears them a new one, since moral relativism and lack of mental integrity, trend of today's youth, is not a recipe for success in life, or any plot with an iota of logic.
Are They? (AKA Stuff That Drives /tg/ to Rage)
Boy oh boy. Grimderp, fanboy masturbation and logic fails up the wazoo, until the most jaded Neckbeard will throw the table and say "fuck it" despite amazing artwork.
The series start with a illustration of how their poor race suffered a catastrophe and how "their story came to be"... right before we see a Drow war party happily slaughtering a human town and enslaving the women and children as the protagonist cheerfully tells her history of her clan and matriarch. If you aren't getting a taste of edginess masquerading the massive Mary Sue complex, read on.
It's unreal how OP the drow are in this setting compared to everything else. Elves are the only magic-capable race in the setting, are twice the height of a regular human, power amazing technologies like power armor and antigravity ships while everyone else is medieval, do not menstruate, can regrow limbs and alter genetics with mana-magic, and are immortal while they are close to a mana source.(putting any character of Drowtales to an online Mary Sue test yields over 90% Mary Sue rating, so yeah) Many have empathic abilities which feel every emotion (which flies in the face of their slaver-murderer-cannibal tradition. But fuck that, I'ma get my slaves and be a lesbian elf, and do whatever I want and get fan sympathy.) The sentient beings taken by them become immediately docile and obedient to the point that they can openly gloat about eating their own kind to its face without as much as a spot of anger on the victim (yes, meat is a delicacy and in famines slaves (especially humans) are regularly slaughtered for food and there are many Drow client races of furries, and dragons, so there is a good chance some of the sponsors or artists are furry/guro/dolcett/vorefags, the lowest kind of online creatures). Some have cat ears. All are bisexual. The main character pulls out any imaginable power out of her ass when cornered. There's faggotry like the drow getting high on chocolate (seriously). The drow are shown to be mostly cute, animesque and angsty nerdy teenagers who bitch to each other about their lives, before having an orgy on the settlement they just conquered from humans, which we will explain later.
As another point, let's look at the slavery. The author wants slaves in the setting for NSFW and a little darkness. Then we are constantly reminded how food is scarce, slaves and even dead drow are often butchered and eaten, and in the event of a demon outbreak, all mana-using slaves are killed, which they cry and moan but meekly kneel to be beheaded. In another issue, a coup yields a few prisoners to be questioned, who say that "food is expensive, slaves are cheap" and admit they used slaves for meat for other slaves. (reminder that Drowtales fanbase has a good grasp on cannibal/vore fetish)
The setting's Drow slave system flies in the face of any logic as slaves (most non-Drow, but some Drow POW's as well) cost food to upkeep, and so, slave societies inherently need a workable potential of agriculture and lack of master population to be widely viable. Cue entire Drow cities full of regular urban Drow population that live in slums and work for pennies and sell their babies to Jaal'darya to be made into freaks. Remind me why they needed the potentially dangerous, uprising-prone foreign population as slaves down there? Oh wait, not a single slave revolt happened. If one wants to put fantasy reasons for keeping light elves as slaves, D&D Drow kill them on sight, and this setting has no reason or religious motivation even to attack them.
Shit isn't even Grimdark, it defies any common sense for cheap shock factor.
Speaking of other races:
Their cousins, surface elves have a prudish, pacifist and non-slaving sex-segregated caste system, while the Drow are your typical bisexual, sex-rich, matriarchal BDSM empire which has slaves by the ton to eat/rape/kill with no moral compunctions, and the surface elves are pictured as the morally bad and boring side. The irony is lost on the writers... then maybe not, considering Drowtales goes pretty much as a hatefic against humans, especially heterosexual and morally consistent vanilla people. (Read: Socially functioning normie). The sheer number of lesbian sex can be explained as the series' are sponsored by virgin otaku faggots and edgy Deviantart girls (read: male in real life) who would blow their gaskets at touching a girl and seizing her hands and confidently confess love. Most sex and porn usually is lesbian, which brings an even funnier point to Drowtales since the ridiculous numbers of deaths need children and reproduction somewhere.
The humans, orcs and other "goblins"? Their failure to manipulate mana makes them soulless and on par with animals in Drow eyes. Regularly enslaved, massacred and eaten even by the "good" characters. And humans are composed of two sub-species, Hermione and Emberi: Hermiones are hairy, white people with a distinct Nordic/Saxon culture, whereas Emberi are Japanese. Hermiones are pictured as coming beyond the seas, threatening our little innocent Drow colonies with a series of Holy Wars and calling them black devils (because it's a no-no to fight against a murderous, cannibalistic empire when they are Creator's Pets), and Emberi are naturally subservient, sexist towards their women, worshipful of Drow and beastly docile to the point of doglike obedience, gladly enduring any abuse, suggesting our "artists" took a nice gander at FATAL and regurgitated it.
Compared to these fucks, the drow are so OP that a couple of children who are competent magic users break through and rout an entire human city with walled fortifications and a brigade of heavily armed adult human guards, kill the king and his entire court, and take the light elven prisoners to an elven village, knowing the light elves will be enslaved underground, because they feel like being moral for once before buying another light elf slave at their underground city to cook for them.
Our characters visit a surface colony (i.e a human village massacred and taken over). Typical of Drow, orgy ensues. Enjoying a blissful after-sex sleep with her lesbian empath girlfriend, they are woken up to a counterattack by desperate humans coming to save their kin... which are promptly defeated by the half-light half-dark elf paladin of Sharess (Yes, a typical mixed-blood Mary Sue worshiping a Goddess who is a total Baldur's Gate rip-off) who is all high and righteous when she is burning alive a bunch of humans who are fighting to save their kin from slave traders who'd buy the survivors.
The protagonist's lesbian empath Drow (yes, with a length of purple hair paint, straight out of Deviantart) friend berates the cornered humans with a lame excuse line of "I feel your pain, why don't you take your survivors and run?!" when the said humans scream in desperation to save their families from the town's locked buildings, die horribly. And so, we have our heroes going "I'm glad my clan Sarghress prevents slavery, let's shake hands and feast on the food we just plundered from humans whom we will sell later!" shake hands with the colony Drow. Mind you, they had talked about doing great things and ensuring peace in the world a couple of issues before and posing all heroically.
The retarded abortion of a plot brings us to Vaelia, a human gladiator slave woman whose village was destroyed (because she told the Drow their location in a fit of anger when they didn't want women in the guard) and survivors were put to chains and sold to Drow cities. She was put to an arena to fight to death until Ariel wanted a bodyguard and bought her to take home(on a brighter note, deathmatches for slaves was something a good number of Drow were disturbed as well, and Ariel's clan already planned on destroying the place, freeing the slaves, tossing the owner to the pit against a dragon and shutting it down in a rare Pet the Dog moment, which they did). On the road, Ariel was being strangled by some asshole Drow, upon which Vaelia kickboxed the Drow to a stalemate with her hands chained until she was stabbed and kicked aside, only saved by a guardswoman that didn't fall for this shit. Ariel has her healed and sets her free which amounts to fuck-all since Vaelia is now homeless, her clan sold everywhere and alone below miles of rock, so she stays with our Skub loli Drow for some time. Her behavior and success makes Ariel wonder that humans may have feelings and stories worth preserving, so just when we see the trigger of a change in the Drow society, she suddenly goes to the surface and leaves her circle of friends and only patroness who could get shit done... to work with Drow raiders who hunt for mana bearing artifacts because she somehow wants to see the sun. Treated like a dog, beaten and left for starvation in a locked magic hut because she prevented Drow to crush fairies to death for fun, our masochistic moron keeps following her new "mercenary" company and even begs them to spare a human village, persuading the humans to give away their harvested amber. Her "captain" remarks how races could get along with a little effort with a happy drawing (By robbing the villagers and sparing their lives, who'd give away their worthless amber anyway had anyone asked.) One needs real brain damage to even see any broken Aesop. 15 years later she is seen, having fucked like rabbits and popped three human children, helping the more peaceful, less racist Drow overthrow Sharen slavers, STILL treated worse than a dog by her captain, only mildly appreciated by a Drow woman who was interested in human language and culture whom she saved later. Of course, in typical Drowtales fashion, the kids' fathers are irrelevant and unknown because father figures are an anathema to degenerate faggots who finance the stories. She could have been an amazing catalyst, perhaps a human Thrall for a cross-racial epic motive change, only to be used as a MILF musclegirl punching bag, mentally subjugated, put on a bus and fuck off to some obscure trading post because donators want MORE DROW AND ONLY DROW...FFFFFFFFFFF-
At first you think that it is like an examination of the conflicts that arise from putting a bunch of Mary Sues in a cavern that is too small for them, but then you realize that it is about a bunch of Mary Sues with a developer possessing a plot memory and integrity of a goldfish.
Arguments with its fans about the plot dissonance reveal that they simply hand-wave any argument with the words that "they are a species with different morals" or "they are morally justified to do so and if you disagree you aren't hardcore enough with your pink glass morality or understand my gothic ART". So typical, Nietzsche-on-crack ,"I'm so different than mankind and gothic and purple haired faggot and I reject your HUUMAN morals of good and evil wankity wank wank daddy love meeee" going on there.
Apparently in Drowtales' setting (in a very poorly explained page), Drow honor is based on the scale of a deed, not the justice of it (so basically it's moral to annihilate the surface and enslave everyone until somehow you feel bad, and immoral to fail, destroying the fucking moon because you failed). However, this is contradicted by all the times where drow have normal, quite human morals (that they randomly choose to ignore, taking us back to step one, namely cognitive dissonance since writers without emotional maturity and experience are not the best prospect for authoring an artifical moral code, much less parade it as art).
Of course, the canon being the result of edgy roleplay sponsors to the series, immature bondage-curious kids might have a hand at continuously smashing any drift in the Drow culture towards understanding and goodwill towards other races even when there is no motivation to continue being an asshole in a world in which Drow need a mana pool and cannot separate from communities for a long time, and there is no Lolth to worship, no mega-horror grade entities in the Underworld to militarize against (except themselves, below the earth is relatively benign, no Illithids, Beholders or Kuo-Toa), and the humans they continously enslaved and raped are so furious at their atrocities that they send entire armies forming huge, militarized kingdoms across the ocean and are willing to fight while armed with nothing but swords and the sheer fucking balls to jump into melee against beings who tower over them while wearing magically-crafted super metal armor and being able to control the elements and shoot mana energy bolts at will. No, we'll just whip up some magitech superpower and our Drow characters will reign supreme... So that we can fund our CYOA bondage porn at ehentai.com where we act with the "spoils of war" in the slave market.
How do we know this foregone conclusion? The Drow completely dominating the surface and driving the "animalistic" humans to reservations? Enter the Daydream, the epitome of faggotry since Folsom Street Fairs, explained below.
The amazing level of immature Villain Sue faggotry rises to new heights in a "Space Age" story arc about 10000 years later when Drow apparently are the sole rulers of their world and explore the space with mana powered spaceships and Earth of all places. In this arc Drow are somehow good people after millenia of slavery and genocide and help Earth humans with some civil war; only after they are beaten the crap out of when mistaking a powered-down human spacecraft for a derelict.
The humans in their own planet?
Herded to mud hut reservations next to high tech Mary Sue cities because the artists hate humanity with such vitriol that they have to kick the dog, which they cannot do in real life. Dorfs? Very likely extinct, along with orcs. Because it feels good to waste an amazing opportunity where humans and other non-Mana using races could be integrated as subjects amongst the Drow empire in modern times and could have their little stories of culture shock. Instead we'll just make magitek make-believe spaceships with god-tier AI's and sexy pink-purple realities in them for Drow to constantly fuck during spaceflights rather than training or even reading something which is needed for any decent modern vocation, because HOLY SHIT OHMIGOD I CAN'T GET ENOUGH FANWANK HERE. There is a cruel cosmic joke here when a webcomic with one of the worst plots in existence gets the best update rate and artists...
Some Things That Don't Suck About It
Now to render unto Caesar...
As stated, the art is outrageously above and beyond the usual webcomic fare. It really can't be stressed enough how beautiful some of the pages can get, though when other webcomics are mostly teenagers on DeviantART and you employ the best artists with porn sponsor money, that's to be expected.
The drow themselves, while ridiculously OP, are actually given some variation and complexity bordering on outright dissent from traditional oppressive values (surface traders who chill with other races and aren't dicks) as a society with all of the different clans and factions. Vastly more so than the D&D drow, whose society is a forced Stupid Evil amalgam of city-states, civil wars and Grimdark theocracy of sacrifice and mass-murder.
The artist also deserves some praise for actually keeping this thing going since 2001. With 50 chapters and over 2500 pages not including the spin-offs, it is one of the longest webcomics ever and runs at an insane daily update rate. The man works at a pace that makes Servitors look lazy. If only we could give some of his energy to GRRM... But then, they have a certain motivation called money, and NOT one artist...who actually employs lots of artists by the fuckton from the donations for retarded self-inserts and lines. The entire premise runs on the said faggots paying the developer for said self-inserts (when humans try to liberate their imprisoned kin, an out-of-place drow character uses a female high heel shoe to kill the desperate (and justified) attackers while shouting a cheesy retarded line...) and plot lines they want themselves, so the sheer commercial motivation should be a reason this series goes on.
- Goblins: A sort of inversion on Drowtales where instead of the main race being blatantly OP, the main race is constantly bullied by everyone else to show how sad they are.
- Edgy: Trying far too hard to pump up sad and/or shocking concepts in a story to the point that it grates on the most jaded nerves, usually done by immature "artists".