Glenn, a college sophomore, has a Sociology 102 paper that requires spending time with an unfamiliar group or culture. Luckily, two hot girls from his class have the same idea: Attend the university’s game club to get reaction material for their papers.
A creepy game moderator shows up, ready to start a game of Monsters, Maces and Magic. Glenn doesn’t fret over the GM’s disturbing vibe, figuring it’ll lead to potential fodder for his paper.
Moments after rolling up his character and beginning the adventure, Glenn, his two classmates, and three other players are drawn into the game, literally. How and why they got trapped in the game, transformed into their RPG characters are important questions, sure. But simply surviving a world filled with horrific creatures, unknown magic, and perilous roads is first on the list.
My Opinion: 230 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I got an advanced copy of the novel for review. I purchased it when it became available.
This is one of the lightest RPG of any LitRPG novels I think I’ve ever read.
Essentially, the novel takes the same premise that Critical Failures does, a DM that transports the players to the game world, but leans more towards traditional fantasy. There’s an older series that isn’t LitRPG called Guardians of the Flame that this reminds me of that does something similar.
The game mechanics in the story are heavily front loaded. Before being transported to the game world, everyone sitting at the game table makes their characters and you get details about how stats, abilities, races, and classes work. Everyone describes their characters and what rolls they made and what they chose for their classes. After the 9% mark, the players are trapped in the game.
In the game world, there are no character sheets, no notifications, no item descriptions, no spell or ability descriptions from pop ups. Instead, additional game mechanics are explained by the players talking to each other or as someone thinking about them. The world and actions of the characters around the players are described strictly as fantasy. Though their behaviors seem to still follow any game rules established. Ie: the hot girl in the group having a high appearance score being treated a lot better than the half goblin with low charisma. Or the gnome healer missing a lot of his attacks because he has a low attack score relative to the fighter classes. Another drawback is that no one in the group levels or ranks up in this novel. I messaged the author and he confirmed that won’t happen till book 2. So that even that RPG feeling of progression isn’t hit in this one. The author also messaged me saying in book 2, the character dream their character sheets to make changes when they level.
The story itself, felt like a decent table top adventure and dungeon crawl. The group has a goal, of earning enough money to afford a resurrection spell to bring back a group member. All their adventures in town or in the dungeon work to further that goal. Ultimately, things feel like they often come down to a die roll, for good or ill. None of that is shown or referenced but that’s the overall impression I got. But despite that vibe, much of the story is delivered like a fantasy story. Which is what the author has written in the past.
Overall, the story just didn’t do it for me. The decision to minimize and mute the mechanics honestly made the story less interesting. It might be a plus for other readers but one of the big things I love about litRPG is that there’s a freedom to put all the UI and notification information that gamers and tabletop players are used to seeing in the story. It’s one of the ways they relate to LitRPG, seeing the same stuff they see while gaming.
You might enjoy the story if you don’t like notifications or character sheets in your LitRPG story.
Score: 6 out of 10