LitRPG Podcast 060
LitRPG Podcast 060
July 14, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 60 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. This week I have 8 new LitRPG reviews for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
Hero of Naught (08:16)
(Play Music 2)
Blaise Corvin is planning to attend DragonCon in Atlanta in August. He’s also thought about cosplaying as a certain god cat from Ascend Online for Travis Bagwell. Just to push himself into firmly towards the decision, he’s setup a charity fundraiser for Shriners Hospital for Children, through Indiegogo and Generosity.com. He had a goal of $200 that had to be reached in order confirm his cosplay choice. People wanted to see him in costume so much, they reached that goal that same day (including me). Now he’s at almost $600 and has to wear facepaint and not just a cat mask. Now we’re working on raising enough money to force him to dance with strangers while in costume and capture it on video. So go donate and see Blaise dance like a cat on a hot tin roof.
Speaking of DragonCon,they apparently have a best novel awards thing that you the readers can nominate author and novels for. You can nominate an author or novel up until July 24th. Since there are so many LitRPG authors going to the event, it would be cool if one of us one. So go nominate somebody.
Aleron Kong is planning on doing an AMA on the LitRPG.com new forum page. You do have to register to post a question.
The AMA will be Saturday 7/15 @ 2PM EST, I’ll answer the questions with the most Likes.
Jeff Hays was nice enough to pass along that Delvers LLC. book 1 is on sale right now on audible for only $5 until July 15th.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Out Now, Will Review next week!
The First Planet: The Space Masters 1 (July 14th, 2017)
Kingdom Level Three (LitRPG: Kingdom Series Book 3) (July 15th, 2017)
The Long Road to Karn (Realm of Arkon, Book 5) (July 17th, 2017)
The Luckless: A MMORPG and LitRPG Online Adventure (Second Age of Retha Book 1) (July 19th, 2017) $0.99 preorder special
Stratus Online: Awakening (Stratus Online: a LitRPG series Book 1) (July 28th, 2017)
A Slave in the Locked Lands (LitRPG The Weirdest Noob Book 2) (July 31st, 2017)
Office Wars: Bathroom Politics (Aug. 1st, 2017)
Rapidplay: The Gamemaster's Gambit 1 (A litRPG series) (Aug. 1st, 2017)
The Glitch Fiends (LitRPG): Part 2 (Hell's Glitch Book 3) (Aug. 4th, 2017)
Fayroll, Book 4 (August 15, 2017)
The Last Warrior of Unigaea (Aug. 15th, 2017)
SHARDS OF REALITY: A LitRPG Adventure (Enter the Realm Book 1) (Aug. 22, 2017)
Super Massive Overload: The Space Masters 2 (litRPG) (Aug. 31st, 217)
Shaman's Revenge (The Way of the Shaman Book 6) (Aug. 30th, 2017)
On the Lost Continent (AlterGame Book #2) LitRPG Series (Sept. 28th, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Hero of Naught
The future is here. A century after the human-A.I. wars, the two races have settles together in a country of peace. From their mutual cooperation, science has exploded once again into a revolution of new ideas. At the forefront is the newest and most advanced game to ever exist, Everlife.
Plat was a senior in the academy when he first began his adventures into the game world. After years of suffering from his betters, he now had a chance to shine in a world where everyone was equal. Unless, his troubles follows him into the world. And Everlife isn't just what it was advertised to be. Will Plat survive in both the real world and the game world as he struggles against his oppressors? Or will he fall into corruption and take back what is owed him?
My Opinion: 227 pages, $4.49, Available on Kindle Unlimited
For those that pre-ordered the novel, there was a technical issue where the author accidently uploaded a version of the novel with a single page. He fixed the issue as quickly as possible but some people, mostly folks that purchased on release day or pre-ordered it still only see the first page. Amazon has agreed to push a novel update but you have to go to your managed content page to get it.
Apollos Thorne suggests:
‘You may have to delete the cookies, so to speak, from the app before redownloading it. I have this same problem when editing my own work. After each new version I have to clean out the app, because even after I load the new one it has the only one in memory. I'd google it depending on which device you use. There should be a tutorial that takes a few minutes to get you going.’
Written by the author of the Slime Dungeon Chronicles. This was one of the first stories that Falcon wrote on the Royal Road, it sort of shows. Not that this is a bad story but compared to some of his later works this one lacks focus and planning.
The first 40% of the story is a mixes high school teen drama with the excitement of getting a new VR MMORPG game.
There’s descriptions of a far future where everyone is ranked and educated according to some RPG like system. There are stats that students are judged on like Body, Soul, Mind. When I first saw this in the novel I thought it was a great way of applying RPG mechanics to a real world. However, it ultimately isn’t used that way. Rather it’s used as a means of explaining the separation of the main character from his old friends and a replacement for normal social class divisions.
The game, Everlife, is fine. It’s a fantasy world with adaptive AI. In the real world, artificial intelligence is a thing and there was some vague war between them and the rest of humanity that resulted in a treaty giving AI the same rights as everyone else. However, the AI normally keep to themselves these days. Except when it comes to this game. Both humans and AI are playing it. The AI could be another player or they could be some NPC. Again, cool potential stories here. But not utilized.
The game is fairly standard with switchable classes and the ability for anyone to learn skills and spells. The main character chooses to be a spear and shield character, as shown on the cover. Most of the first part of the story in game is just him exploring the game world and it’s mechanics. Gaining levels, learning magic, raising his reputation with NPCs.
Then at about the 40% mark, the story takes a dark turn and it becomes a story of revenge. The main character is betrayed and he seeks revenge for the wrongs done to him. From here on is, it’s him as this dark character stuck in the game going on quests, gaining new abilities and companions, killing mobs. All to gain the power he wants to get revenge on the jerks that wronged him. Again, potentially cool. However, that revenge doesn’t take place. Sorry, I was disappointed too. There is some interesting spirit of vengeance stuff in the story but there is no satisfaction or resolution for the main character. It just ends. Like a break in a longer serial story.
I liked the game stuff. It’s neat world and there were lots of potentially cool stories possibilities that were just never developed. That doesn’t mean the quests or fighting in the story are boring. They’re not. There just doesn’t seem to be a purpose of larger plan in it all. The story feels like a long running serial that has been collected together. You know, a bunch of small stories.
Overall, ok. Not bad, but not amazing either.
Score: 6 out of 10
Life in the North: An Apocalyptic LitRPG (The System Apocalypse Book 1)
All John wanted to do was get away for his life in Kluane National Park for a weekend. Hike, camp and chill. Instead, the world comes to an end in a series of blue boxes, animals start evolving and monsters start spawning. Now, he has to survive the apocalypse, get back to civilisation and not lose his mind.
Life in the North is Book 1 of the System Apocalypse, a LitRPG Apocalypse book that combines modern day life, science fiction and fantasy elements along with game mechanics.
My Opinion: 334 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
From the author of the LitRPG novel A Healer’s Gift. this is originally a royal road story and you can read the 1st chapter of book 2 there.
John is having a bad day. He’s out camping after losing his job, his house burning down, and his girlfriend leaving him. He wakes up to the world as he knows it ends. being turned into a RPG system. Because he’s in a high level zone, he gets several big perks. Chooses a magical companion, fairy named Ali.
This novel is mostly a running journal of what the main character John does when the world he knows ends and an RPG one takes over. It’s part survival story, it’s part RPG adventure, and part community building.
Survival story - The world becomes a heck of a lot more dangerous when humans aren’t the most greatest threat anymore. Normal animals are mutating into terrible beasts and there are new monsters that the game system drops on the world. These monsters can spawn anywhere that’s not a ‘safe zone’. A special system designated space that’s free of monster spawns. There are also limited resources for people as the normal food and water distribution channels have broken down. Combine the constant threat from monsters with limited resources and you get a nice zombie apocalypse sense to tension in the story.
RPG adventure - The world is now run by RPG rules. Levels, stats, classes, experience points, quests. The whole shabang. While there are several ways to gain experience points (Kill monsters, complete Quests, Craft), there’s no doubt that people need them to level and become more powerful in this new world. Even the monsters levels are going to increase in this new world and if you’re going to survive, the name of the game is ‘time to level’.
Community Building - There are a few safe zones in the area that the main character lives and those become communities for survivors. There are normal issues about people getting along, figuring out how to complete community projects, how to feed everyone, and keep them safe from the monsters. Because John has in information source about the new game system, he plays a pivotal role early in the story helping these communities figure out their priorities.
One of the few things I think the novel lacks is a clear direction. While the novel has some story concepts similar to a zombie apocalypse story, it lacks something those stories have. Purpose. In a lot of survival stories, the main character has to either find his family, or he’s looking for a cure, or he’s gathered a group and is seeking to make a safe place for them. There’s purpose. This story doesn’t have that. The main character wants to live and he’ll do what he needs to do that. There are small immediate goals, like get food for people, Level them up, kill X monster. But there aren’t any bigger goals in the story.
Another odd thing is that the emotional development of the main character doesn’t happen until the last 5% of the story. When it happens, it’s well written, but I thought it happened pretty late in the story.
Overall, good read. There is lots of action, good game mechanics, nice survivalist twist to the story.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Dream III: Wind of Souls (Dream Trilogy Book 3)
What if legends aren’t really legends? What happens when pixels, imagination, and dice are replaced with steel, flesh, and arcane power?
Shad, Derek, Fred, and Jeff are just ordinary guys. They did their time in Iraq, hold regular jobs, and spend some of their free time playing RPGs on their game platforms and at the table.
Until they were shanghaied into a place where magic and the mystic had been banished from Earth. Eventually, with great difficulty they returned home and got on with their lives, only to be blackmailed into returning yet again.
They chose to pursue their blackmailer into another Sphere, or alternative world, this one resembling Nippon in the Edo period, albeit with influences from other cultures and a heavy necromancer presence.
Once again the Black Talons, bickering and insulting each other all the while, must find and confront those who would use them for their own nefarious plots. Cecil intends to summon the Wind of Souls and the four are determined to stop him, if nothing more than for revenge. In a land of Samurai the four Texans must learn patience, subtlety, and a new way of looking at things. Once again they are not the biggest nor the brightest piece of the gameboard, but as usual they are undeterred.
My Opinion: 289 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Easily one of the best squad based military LitRPG series around. The third book in the series continues the tradition of action and adventure in this one. This time, The Black Talons, a group friends and military veterans find themselves in a world with a decided ancient Japan vibe. They’re still hunting down the sorcerer Cecil as he attempts to do some bad things in these dimensional castoff worlds.
At the beginning of the novel there is a nice recap of what happened in books 1 and 2. Plus reminder of who everyone is. So, while you could jump into the series on the third book and have a decent understanding about what’s going on, you're probably better off starting at Book 1.
The Black Talons have followed a wizard to a new world, this one Asian mythology themed. As they travel to a new world, they get to choose new classes.
Shad is now a Panatiko- deals in curse, spirits, and undead. A warder.
Fred is a Lamand - Healer and jinxer. Uses charms and ranged spells.
Derek is a Samurai- upper class,
Jeff is a Kambal- personal servant to Derek. Combo bodyguard and valet.
One of the things I really enjoy about the series are the relationships between these four friends. They harass and make fun of each other constantly but it’s all in the name of friendship. The well thought out group design and their chosen class roles is also interesting and I was alway interested to see what their chosen powers and levels gained them.
There’s a ton of great world building done in each one of these novels and this one is no different. There are well defined social class in this world and the world has realistic stratified society. You can tell that the author did a lot of research about ancient asian and pacific island cultures.
Without ruining any of the story, there’s tons of action in this story as the team makes their way through this new world and tries to figure out Cecil’s plans and how to thwart them. There are betrayals, plots, and side plots. But through it all The team has a clear mission they will not be deterred from. Kill Cecil.
Overall a good read with a satisfying conclusion that may also be the end of the series.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Times of Change (Emerialia book 7)
As the Stone Raiders come into a time of peace, they set upon building up their guild hall and getting back to raiding.
Without the worries of immediate battles and constant quests, Dave and Party Zero are free to pursue their passions. New discoveries will be made and advances taken. They've got big plans and ideas for the future what they start now will form and shape that future.
In this time of change, possibilities will rise and opportunities will be grasped. It's time to build for the future.
My Opinion: 448 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
In the last novel, there was this huge epic battle that resolved some long standing plotlines. So, it’s not surprising that this one is a preparation novel. It spends most of it’s time preparing the characters to face off against the hugely dangerous creatures and battles coming up in book 8. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good story or that there aren’t good fights, it just means that more time is spent on other things that a main epic battle.
I’d describe the novel as a combination of grinding out levels and combat experience for all the main factions, a few awesome fights, some great creations from Dave, an update on some larger plotlines, and introduction of a few new characters.
Most of the level grinding is done by the Stone Raider’s guild in the Temple of Affinities that’s featured on the cover. Most of it isn’t that exciting but it is necessary since the first major monsters from Bob’s prison are going to be released soon and everyone has some serious leveling up to do if they’re going to stand a chance. There is a pretty cool new character that’s introduced from this grind that I think has some potential bad assness.
There are also three beings of power that are released that I’m sure the team will have to deal with in the next novel but one of them is taken on in this novel and is a pretty epic, if short, fight.
There are also updated with in the storylines with the space humans, the dragons, the gods, and the dwarven tournament.
However, the thing I really enjoyed reading the most about were the new inventions that Dave has come up with. I mean there are some truly awesome stuff that not just for the immediate fights but stuff that meant for long term fights with the Jukal Empire. Oh, and did I mention Dave makes **Spoilers** magical power armor? Freaking magical power armor!
Overall, a good read and I’m expecting some epic fights to go down in book 8.
Score: 7 out of 10.
From the Bowels of Hell Hounds (Caverns and Creatures)
Anything can happen in a fantasy world. An honest day's work might lead to you one day becoming a king. If you're one of the C&C gang, however, it's much more likely to lead to you becoming a flaming pile of dog shit.
My Opinion: 42 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The team completes an escort mission in the pouring rain to a curios tower. The owner, an eccentric count, has hell Hounds as guard dogs and a necromancer for a cook. Will Cooper’s poor charisma score or Tim’s drunken antics get the group in trouble? You bet. That’s half the fun.
Price wise, very expensive for short story. However, the author has put this one and a few other short stories on Kindle Unlimited. So, there’s really no reason, unless you don’t have KU, to read this.
This is a short story in the Caverns and Creatures series. The author has written a lot of these stand alone short stories that use his characters from Critical Failure. They’re all great and I laugh out loud whenever I read them. This one is no different. But be aware there is also lots of cursing and potty humor.
Score: 7 out of 10.
DLC: A LitRPG Adventure (The Crucible Shard Book 6)
King Liam has faced many foes since taking the throne but this one is more personal than most. The God Veros is one of the artificial intelligences from Earth and has been hatching plans and building his base of power for a very long time. The struggle shall make all those involved rediscover who they truly are, and make hard choices for the days to come.
My Opinion: 213 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The last few novels in this series have been a bit crazy. A bunch of dimensional jumps, time travel stuff, people shifting personalities. This novel returns to some theme consistency. It’s still kind of weird but it’s constantly weird in the same way.
The first 2% is a nice recap of last 5 books.
I won’t summarize what’s happened in the last five books but King Liam’s new Minds Game power let him enter people’s minds to see their secrets (If you’re wondering, Liam became king of the world in the last book as reality was reshaping). This new power is probably the thing I like most about the novel. Every time he uses it to enter someone’s mind, Liam has to beat a new mini game world. The author uses it as a way to break up the stream of fights and tell little mini LitRPG stories. I especially like the one where Liam has to solve a murder mystery Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright style.
The villains that need to be defeated in the rest of the series are all identified: 9 demigods artificially created, assassins from unknown factions, the dark court and Veros the mad god.
In this book the team is planning on taking out the Dark Court who lives on land imported from other dimension. Liam names it DLC, and it has a wall they have to pay to get through to get to the DLC. Get it? A paywall to get to the DLC?
As soon as they land, the story changes into this Alice in Wonderland/Fairytale Office mesh where Liam and the rest of the team have lost their memories and are working for DLC corporation. Liam and Yve are salesmen, Ashley is in accounting, and Walt is someone’s assistant. From there it’s a battle to not only get everyone's memories back but a fight with all sorts of fairytale themed monsters including: Goldilocks’ three bears in mech suits, seven murderous dwarves, the big bad wolf himself and so many more. It all of course culminates with Veros himself in a battle to the death.
At the very end there are some very cool revelations that I did not see coming.
Overall, a good read that made more sense than the last few books in the series. It also feels like the series might be coming to an end soon.
Score: 7 out of 10.
The Last Redoubt: A litrpg Adventure (The Unity Series Book 1)
Join Tamara Owlkins, Bard-in-training, blacksmith, and reluctant adventurer as she stumbles upon plots, invasions, and dungeons. All she wants to do is become a full-fledged Bard and make cool weapons and armor for her friends and family.
As ancient enemies gather and kingdoms plot, only one hero and her companions can choose between salvation and utter destruction.
My Opinion: listed at 689 pages?, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
A truly massive book at 689 pages though I think that might be an incorrect page count.
There are some really cool ideas in the story. The idea of AI cores being an evolved form of old nano programs and that magic in this world are just bits of ununderstood tech. However, all that potential is sort of lost on a character that has everything handed to her.
The first few pages reads like a traditional fantasy novel, then suddenly introduces game mechanics. So, there’s a class of people, the awakened, that can see these character sheet stats and game info. Everyone else is unaware of this stuff. (NPCs?)
The main character (MC), Tamara, just happens to find a fallen spaceship and is save by a robotic dog by her suddenly aware Core, an AI himself, that was implanted in her at birth but only now awoke. He gives her just the abilities to completely trash this robot that was just about to kill her. Then, on her way to the King to tell him about the fallen spaceship, she agrees to guard a caravan that leads her to a secret pre cataclysm facility full of advanced tech, manufacturing facilities, advanced laser and plasma weapons. Of course, she’s the only one that can open the place up because of her AI and of course everyone in the caravan wants her to run the place and establish a town there, the 16 year old girl they literally just met days ago. Oh, also the guy she happens to have a crush on falls in love with her because she’s just so darn amazing after knowing her for a week. Oh, and by the end of the story she defeats an entire orc army all by herself using ancient blackhole tech, except of course the one girl who’s looks she was jealous over and was promiscuous about who turns out to be evil.
Overall, just meh.
Score: 5 out of 10.
Codename: Freedom: Survive Week One
War is coming.
The government must accelerate their super soldier program. They have pushed beyond what was thought possible and developed a new Virtual Reality system; the perfect tool to weed out and train recruits. There is another problem. Every soldier has already been sorted and those found to possess the "talent" are already in training. There just aren't enough. That is why Codename: Freedom has been developed. It's time they looked outside the military. Failure is not an option.
Against all odds, Lucius, a semi pro gamer who was raised by his Artificial Intelligence Bot named Destiny, is selected to participate in Codename: Freedom, a VRMMO that promises to push Virtual Reality to the ultimate level.
The Game Developers are kind enough to hide a key feature. 100% pain. There are no pain dampeners. He finds himself among the other participants of Codename: Freedom who are thrown in with hardly any time to get their bearings before the entire player city is under attacked.
With the world watching live, Lucius is faced with the opportunity to gain a following and impressing sponsors. After years of hard work to move up in the gamer ranks, this new game will challenge Lucius to the point of breaking and beyond. Will he quit, go mad, or find the motivation to fight when it becomes painfully clear that this is far from just another game?
Warning for those under 18: There are some mature themes that deal with pain, death, and violence.
My Opinion: 379 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Lucius is a pro-gamer in a world of advanced technology. When he’s selected for a year long beta test for the most advanced gaming system ever, he jumps at the chance.
What he doesn’t know is that once inside the game, pain setting are set at 100% and the government has an ulterior motive for testing these players.
Will Lucius find the strength to keep playing and defend his starter town from hordes of monsters even though he feels every injury?
Originally a hobby project on the Royal Road, author Apollos Throne has crafted this online story into a full-fledged novel. If you read there, do yourself a favor and read it again on Amazon. Things have changed.
This is a good story. Even though this novel only covers the first week of the players in game experience, it's packed with action. Each and every day and night, the players must defend their starter town from hordes of increasingly difficult goblin raids. With pain settings at 100%, this means players have to make a serious commitment to the game.
One of the highlights of the novel is the realistic approach to combat. Skills and fighting techniques have to be learned and honed with practice. No one starts out using their weapons or armor well. They all have to learn to use them just like they would in real life. Success in combat depends on skill, tactics, and luck. Injuries suffered in combat are realistic, graphic, and above all painful. The pain setting for the game is at 100%. So players feel every broken bone, every stab, and every death.
One of the things that have changed from the rough draft of the story is the expanded exploration of what suffering real physical trauma from combat can do mentally and physically to a soldier.
Of course, there are also clues about how what’s happening in the game will impact the real world and how the government is actually changing the players as they game.
Game mechanic wise, those options are gradually unlocked as the player's progress and level and the amount and type of abilities they get are chosen by the players. Again the emphasis is on a more realistic approach to combat and playing. Players are rewarded for hard work with increases in stats, regeneration is amped up so that wounds heal much faster, an inventory system exists, and monsters drop loot. There are character sheets but they remain informational for most of the story. A reflection of players current abilities and capabilities.
There are hints that in book 2, in addition to trainers being unlocked, player abilities will be unlocked too. So we might see more fantastic skills or maybe even magic.
Overall, a good action filled combat story that I read in a single sitting, even though I’d already read the royal road version twice.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Rough draft Royal Road Version http://royalroadl.com/fiction/3967/when-vr-gaming-hurts
That’s it everyone!
You can follow us on
If you enjoy the podcast and want to support us you can also find all the other ways to support the podcast at www.litrpgpodcast.com/support
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