LitRPG Podcast 023
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 23 of the LitRPG podcast
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. At the end of this episode I’ll also have a brief LitRPG year in review for you all.
New Releases and Reviews:
The Way of the Clan 5 (World of Valdira) (04:22)
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash: Volume 1, (05:48)
The Way of the Outcast (Mirror World Book #3) (08:28)
Dexterity Build:Episode 2 (11:27)
Desperate Times: A 49ers LitRPG Novel (17:17)
Stalwart Souls Online: The Player Killer's Mark (24:16)
Digital Shadows: Witch Town (28:37)
LitRPG Year in Review (30:38)
We’ll begin with LitRPG news
(Play Music 2)
I recently had a chance to correspond with Justin Miller, author of The Dive books, World Seed series. He was nice enough to answer a few of my questions about why he writes, what his future plans are, and he even wrote about his plans for his latest story World Keeper. You can read the full article on our site, litrpgpodcast.com or just click on the link in the shownotes.
Aleron Kong has created his first book trailer for the Chaos Seeds series.
I’ll be honest, it looks pretty cool. Especially with the new book cover art. Kinda jealous, but in a good way. I’ll have a link in the show notes or just search for Aleron’s YouTube page, LitRPG.
The author of Adventures on Terra, is producing an audiobook version of the LitRPG novel, with Jill Smith as the narrator. While it’s still very early in the production stage, I’ve put up the first 15 minutes of the audiobook on our site. A link will be in the shownotes but I’ll play you a tiny sample to wet your appetite.
Video Game Plotline Tester (The Dark Herbalist Book #1) (Jan. 3rd, 2017)
You're in Game! LitRPG Stories from Bestselling Authors (Jan. 20th, 2017)
The Beginning (Dark Paladin Book #1) LitRPG Series (Feb. 7, 2017)
Sucked into an RPG: a LitRPG Novel (Sucked into an RPG, Book 1) (Feb. 20, 2017)
Spetsnaz: A 49ers LitRPG Novel (Feb 28th, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
The Way of the Clan 5 (World of Valdira)
The online game of Valdira. An enormous, mysterious world readily accepts anyone into its arms, with guaranteeing endless adventures, epic battles and fabulous treasures. Countless clans fiercely fight for land, participate in wars, spin intrigue and lead spy battles. And somewhere out there, in the endless expanses of Valdira, the adventures of Rosgard continue, thanks to fate and his own personal stubbornness. He has become the Great Navigator, destined to lead the naval armada and guide it directly to the ancient lost continent…
My Opinion: 224 pages, $5.99 and available on Kindle Unlimited
This is less a review, more of a notification. I haven’t been following this series. It lost me after book 3. Fans of the series seem to like it though. It has mostly 4 and 5 stars on Amazon. There are the complaints about translation and grammar errors but that’s been something the series has suffered from since book 1. So no one should be surprised it still happens in book 5.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash: Volume 1,
Why are we doing this...?
When Haruhiro came to, he was in the darkness. Not knowing why was he here, or where "here" even was. With him were others who also remembered little more than their own names. What they found when they came out of the underground was a world that was "just like a game." In order to survive, Haruhiro forms a party with others in the same situation as him, learns skills, and takes his first steps forward into the world of Grimgar as a trainee volunteer soldier.
Not knowing what awaits him... This is a tale of adventure born from the ashes.
My Opinion: 268 pages, $6.99 and Not available on Kindle Unlimited.
A little high priced for the page count but that’s something you’ll find with just about any translated work. It cost a lot to translate.
The international work has finally been translated into English, officially. Already a popular anime, this is the story of people from earth who are mysteriously transported to a fantasy world where you have to fight monsters to survive. A more brutal and realistic take on the ‘transported to a fantasy world’ troupe, the series still involves learning new skills, leveling up, and learning magic. A great example of what LitRPG is across the seas.
The Way of the Outcast (Mirror World Book #3)
Mirror World is stirring, about to embrace the new global changes of its map.
Everyone is getting ready to colonize No-Man's Lands. The strongest clans send their best fighters on recon missions, impatient to make a stake for the juiciest locations.
Market prices have taken to the sky like flocks of scared pigeons.
New alliances are struck while mercenaries upgrade their armor and grind an edge on their swords. Their time is looming.
A war is coming to Mirror World.
Olgerd too is getting ready, a new goal already in his sights. The ancient Ennan City awaits him.
All he needs to do now is gain some strength.
My Opinion: 433 pages, $5.99. Not on Kindle Unlimited.
For the last two books, Olgerd has been stuck at level zero, because of the type of gaming account he has. He’d been trying to get enough reputation in the game world to secure a loan in the real world and finance his daughter’s surgery. Along the way, he’s been through adventures and gained some pretty cool skills and race based rewards.
Now though Olgerd, your favorite daily grinder, is back. Only he’s now a player and a part of larger plan to unlock major content for the game by conquering no-man’s land...with a slingshot.
I really like this series, it hasn’t suffered from the common issue of over epicness that many series have. That may change now that Olgerd can gain levels but hope not. Some people don’t like that Olgerd is now a player and can gain levels, they feel it ruins one of the more unique aspects of the series but I think it’s a logical extension of the story and a good way to reset the character progression arc. Good story, big recommend.
Dexterity Build: A LitRPG Serial (Episode 2 - The Hammerhorst Mountains)
My Opinion: 44 pages. $0.99 and available on Kindle Unlimited.
Short and sweet, In the Strength build serial Nick became a pixel runner, a steaming VR gamer, to secure a financial future for himself and pay for his father's medical care. He learned the VR game company was trapping real people in the game and using them as NPCs.
In Dexterity build, Nick returns to the game not for himself, but to free a little girl who’s trapped there. The daughter of Gideon, a man that helped Nick in the last season of the game. Nick chooses a dexterity build this time so you get a different play style but the story is mostly action and adventure still. If you don’t like serial stories or short stories under 50 pages, wait till the serial is compiled into an omnibus. I look forward to reading Dex build- Episode 3.
Robert was content with his life as a night-shift janitor. No stress, no worries, and no responsibilities. But this idyllic existence is turned upside down when he suddenly finds himself trapped inside a fantasy Role Playing Game.
Confused and alone he must find a way to escape back to his own world and, more importantly, to his daughter. But to do that he must take up the biggest responsibility of all:
To rule a kingdom.
My Opinion: 300 pages (only 60 pages are the story), $0.99 and available on Kindle Unlimited.
Not a bad short story, it’s 60 pages. The author does a really good job of making me care about Robert the janitor very quickly. He has a dead end job, a daughter he cares about but doesn’t see enough, and feels like he’s too old to change. He’s summoned to a world where he becomes king and can save the digital citizens from being deleted by gaining levels and expanding the kingdom’s borders. Only Robert doesn’t want to be there. He just wants to go home. This is supposed to be the first story in a serial series.
Good story but the way the story was published left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s listed at 300 pages on Amazon but only 20% of it is actually the story advertized. The other 80% of it is “bonus content”, recycled older stories from the author. Whether the author intended it or not, it feels like a deception to pad the page count for the novel.
Desperate Times: A 49ers LitRPG Novel
It's 2100, Britain faces its greatest challenge as the remains of the European Combined Armed Forces dig in to repel the imminent ChinKor Republic invasion of Great Britain. Bombers and missiles destroy whole swathes of British cities and countryside and every eligible man and woman over the age of 16 has been conscripted to join the fight. Only this is in a VR game called World Domination, a game designed to eliminate civilian, technological, fiscal and environmental loss but to still cater for the warlike nature of humans. All of the troops are hard wired into their harnesses.
The rules are simple, survive 100 battles and you're free. Die 50 times and you'll receive a lethal dose of poison administered by the game, as war must always have consequences. Take on a Special Mission and you'll gain 1 extra life, mission credits and valuable power-ups and special weapons.
Only the rules have changed. The European High Command has decreed that soldiers who hit 49 deaths are to be kept permanently in the game. The 49ers is a regiment of Last Chancers, their commander, iColonel Ron Clark, is desperate to keep his people alive, and give them one last chance
My Opinion: 102 pages though the last 12% is a sneak peek at book two., $2.99 and available on Kindle Unlimited.
Warning: Lots of cursing. Which is in line with both the military and shooter theme of the story.
World Domination, a virtual reality (VR) game that has taken the place of physical war. However, in an effort to create real life consequences for war, soldiers who participate get to die virtually 49 times but on the 50th time they are euthanized in their VR pods. Should a soldier survive 100 battles they’re released from duty and able to go back to the real world. Only the rules suddenly change because the European High Command says so. Anyone that hits 49 is kept permanently in game even if they survive 100 battles.
The gist of the story, the recently formed 49ers are sent on a special mission to rescue an intelligence asset. The story is told from the perspective of several members of the regiment trying to accomplish their own game objectives and complete the mission. That leads to another bigger mission that can change the course of the virtual war. More battles.
Overall this is less LitRPG and more LitFPS or literary first person shooter, a thing I just made up! Most of the story focuses on the gritty, descriptive action scenes and fighting. Less on game mechanics or character development.
The story also has good sci-fi elements like Mechs, heads up displays (HUDs), plasma guns, vibroblades, even some hacking later in the story. I liked how the hacking was handled. Very fun.
I was disappointed with the first 25% of the story. There’s so little mention of anything RPGish that it felt it was more like military sci-fi with a vague video game theme.
After the 25% mark through the novel very very slowly reveals more RPG mechanics. Even then, they’re just like what you’d see in a Battlefield or Call of Duty game. By about the 50% mark you get game missions like: king of the hill, bomb runs, assassination, and search and destroy. Development points that you get as you kill the enemy that let you get better at the skills you know and when you level you get points to put in stats directly or new skills like specialize in weapons, stealth, mechs, hacking. I should note that even though these elements are mentioned in the story it doesn’t go into a great deal of detail.
Things I didn’t like, lack of backstory and character development. Who are the ChinKor Republic? Why are they invading Great Britain? What consequences are there are for losing the VR game?
Character development - I neither know nor care about the characters in the story. Not trying to be mean, but I literally don’t know anything about the characters besides names and some physical descriptions and eventually weapon specializations. No backstory, no motivations, no emotional connections established to anyone. If someone killed Frenchie, I’d be like ok, who gets his bot?
Also there is a lot of military language that’s theme appropriate but sometimes becomes confusing if you’re not familiar with the terms. “We’re going on a little recce.” Or “FOF is on. How copy over?” Acronyms aren’t explained. Ie: APC, VTOL, LZ, MBT, ECAF
While the story wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, I really enjoyed the fight scenes. If you’re the kind of gamer that likes Call of Duty Infinite Warfare more than Mass Effect, then this story is just right for you.
Stalwart Souls Online: The Player Killer's Mark
When a mysterious Player Killer with the ability to cause his victims to die in real life appears in the fully immersive massive multi-player online roleplaying game (MMORPG) Stalwart Souls Online, administrators shut down the game servers to find the criminal.
What they didn't count on was the system being hijacked. Stalwart Souls Online is rebooted, a new patch applied. All players online at that time revert back to Trainee level, their hard work erased. They soon discover that the log out function has been disabled, and that that isn't the only thing that has changed in the game...
In the midst of this is someone who must cope and survive in this updated RPG world while avoiding becoming the Player Killer's next target. Roy will face dark dungeons, go on adventures, compete in player versus player battles, navigate the difficulties of guild politics, and learn a more realistic definition of good and evil.
The Player Killer’s Mark is the first book of the Stalwart Souls Online fantasy LitRPG series.
My Opinion: Written by Kaye Fairburn; 281 pages, $5.99 and available on Kindle Unlimited.
I had a very hard time staying interested in the story. The characters felt flat and I wasn’t emotionally invested in anyone. The story also suffers from comparison to Sword Art Online which has an almost identical premise of being trapped in a VR world where death in the game means death in real life. This story isn’t a copy of Sword Art Online but because the premise is so similar I found myself comparing it to that story, to the detriment of Stalwart Souls Online.
In Swort Art Online the guy who takes over the game and traps everyone immediately sets a goal for everyone to accomplish if they want to escape, get to floor 100 and defeat the boss. That doesn’t happen here. With the exception of the GM, players can’t kill each other. Only the environment/monsters, so there isn’t really any reason for anyone to leave the starter village.
I liked the story better, when it wasn’t trying to be like Sword Art Online. The politics of the North Star Guild, the run through the Dark Forest Dungeon, the brawler character class,
Digital Shadows: Witch Town
Digital Shadows is the latest craze in Virtual Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing games. The game is based in a virtual world of horror, mystery, secret societies, monsters and shadowy nightmares.
After surviving the secret horrors of the game, Todd Heller and his friends come together to help other souls trapped in the virtual environment. But little does Todd know just how deep his crusade will take him. Dark forces have blurred the lines between the game and reality, making his mission to help trapped players that much more difficult.
The young man must confront his demons in order to fight back the growing threat to his fellow players and family. With enemies drawing closer, Todd must do the unthinkable to stem the tide threatening to consume every living soul.
My Opinion: 259 pages, $2.99 and available on Kindle Unlimited.
The sequel to the LitRPG horror story Digital Shadows. In the first book players were trapped in a VRMMO horror game and struggling to survive against the various creepy killer clowns and such. Alistair and some others were able to escape the game.
In book two, Todd and some of those players that escaped return to help the remaining players find and light the remaining soul lanterns so they too can escape. This time they're up against witches.
If you liked the first book, you’ll like this one. Just remember that this is a horror story with lots of graphic deaths and tense moments. The story takes some really interesting twists that I won’t spoil but if you like horror games/movies, this is a series that was made for you.
The only thing I found a little annoying is that there is no recap at the beginning of second book. So, you HAVE to read the 1st one to have any idea what going on in Witch Town.
That’s it for the reviews this week. Before I go I wanted to give a quick year in review for LitRPG.
I personally have had a modicum of success with the LitRPG podcast, some goofy LitRPG videos, some author interviews and our LitRPG recommendation list. I’ve even published my own LitRPG story that’s done pretty well. However, the thing that I’m most proud of this year is...you all. The LitRPG community.
We as a community have gone from a few isolated posts on Reddit and a couple blogs to a community of almost 3,000 people on Facebook. There are over 250 LitRPG novels on Amazon. Multiples of that on the Royal Road, Wattspad, and internationally translated works online. A lot of that came out this year. Heck just these last two weeks I’ve reviewed almost 20 novels, quite a few of which came from first time writers. All that was only possible because of the support of the LitRPG community. Even though we come from all walks of life, we have a love for LitRPG in common. We’re welcoming of newcomers and we can have these amazing discussions about what LitRPG is and where it’s going. Sure they usually devolve into weird theories about Gnomes taking over the earth but that’s ok.
So to every person that found the courage to pick up a pen this year, or push the publish button. To every person that read some new authors LitRPG book or contributed to our growing community. I’m proud of you! I’m proud to be a member of our growing community.
Hopefully next year our community grows even larger and we welcome even more people that read and write LitRPG.
Thanks for hanging out with me today. Until we can hangout again, remember to go read some LitRPG!
"Blip Stream" "Mighty Like Us" "Big Shift" "Vivacity"
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License