Travail Online: Soulkeeper (Book 1)

Welcome to Travail, where hard play makes fun work.

When an overpowered NPC goes off the rails and starts killing players — even in safe zones — Coral, Daniel, and their friends are given an impossible quest: Stop him. At all costs.

Coral joined the immersive MMORPG Travail Online because her job, like so many others, was finally automated. She starts the game as a Seamstress, hoping to craft elegant clothing in-game to sell for real life cash. The game, however, pushes her to make some truly horrifying designs. And the worst part is, if she dies at the hands of this madman she’ll lose all of her inventory and gold, destroying her chance at a livelihood.

Daniel has played for longer, but the game changes him to a new class that doesn’t actually seem to exist. How can he maximize his skills when his class is completely uncharted? Can he, Coral, and their friends stop the murderous NPC before Travail comes crashing down, taking the world economy with it?

My Opinion: 236 pages, $2.99, available on Kindle Unlimited

Coral has been fired from her job and replaced by a robot, just like just about everyone else in the U.S.A. To make ends meet she starts to play Travail Online, where she can convert in-game gold earned to real world dollars. She chooses to be a crafter, a seamstress, and on her first day lucks into a group of high level players looking for a 4th to run an instanced raid. There she lands the killing blow of the boss, somehow gets all the XP and jumps to level 18 and gets a new quest to design armor that will protect the army from a magical artifact that’s perma-killing both NPCs and Players.

The premise of the story is interesting. In a world gone robotic, you have to game to make a living.

This story has charm. I liked reading about Coral and like the fact that she didn’t choose a combat oriented class. I sort of like Dale and his group of high level players, even though he’s kind of a jerk. The relationships between the characters are the highlight of the story.

There are some serious logic problems with the story. 1) The exchange rate of gold of 10 gold = $1 isn’t constantly followed. Sometimes 50 gold is referred to as $0.50 and other times a $5, 2) Why is a high level “raid” in the beginner zone?, 3) Why would high level players grab a level 1 to group with? Isn’t there a group finding feature in this advanced game? 4) A raid is not a group of four people. 5) Carol gets all the XP from the boss kill? Either group experience distribution was turned off or she not in a group with everyone. How else did she get in the dungeon?

To be honest the game logic issues almost made me put this story down. But I persevered for you folks at home. After the 30% mark when the story setup is finished, things improve a little. It turns into a, sometimes meandering, story of four friends just going on odd adventures to complete the quest they were given. This is an ok story. It has its flaws but it has its gem moments too. With the exception of the unique character classes, most of the game mechanics don’t seem well thought out and there are big logic issues in the beginning of the story. Overall, the game world feels a bit boring. What really shines are the four characters in the story. There were lots of cute or funny interactions between them that are endearing.

Travail Online: Soukeeper gets a 5 out of 10.