LitRPG Podcast 067
LitRPG Podcast 067
September 1st, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 67 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I’m recording this a little early this week. By the time most people are watch this I’ll be at DragonCon representing LitRPG.
This week I have 6 new LitRPG reviews for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
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Way of the Shaman Comic is now available. I remember talking to the author about this when I interviewed him and I’m happy to see that it’s come out. It’s available on the authors website and Comixolgy.
There are several LitRPG Deals!
Delvers LLC, book 1, is going to be 50% off over Labor Day weekend, starting on Aug 31!
Adventures on Terra book 1 and 2 is are 50% off normal price till 9/2.
Dungeon Born's price is dropped to $1.99!
$0.99 including the Hell's Glitch series
Super Sales on Super Heroes $0.99 from 8/31 to 9/5.
Starting August 31st, Ascend Online book 1 is going to be FREE for the entire weekend!
LitRPG Awards will be presented at The LitRPG Gala 9/2 in Atlanta GA. All novels/series were chosen from the most popular nominations. Voting is open until late Friday 9/1
Favorite LitRPG series: The Land, Awaken Online, Emerilia, Way of the Shaman, and Viridian Gate.
Favorite LitRPG individual Novel: The Land: Founding, Awaken Online: Catharsis, The Trapped Mind Project (Emerilia 1), Survival Quest (Shaman 1), and Dungeon Born.
Favorite New LitRPG Author (Since Sept. 2016): Dakota Krout - The Divine Dungeon, Luke Chmilenko - Ascend Online, Shemer Kuznits - Life Reset, and R.A. Mejia - Adventures on Terra.
Favorite Royal Road story: Arcane Emperor, Everybody Loves Big Chests, Wandering Inn, Change: New World, World Keeper, Fantasia, and Fantasia
Dragon Con booth details: Hall 2, Floor 1. Booth 1222
Out Now, Will Review next week!
-Choose your own Adventure, ‘but with cool game stats, weapons, skills and funky spell-songs to choose from!’
-Published at $8.20, currently $6.95
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Starter Zone (The Revelation Chronicles Book 1) (Sept. 25th, 2017)
On the Lost Continent (AlterGame Book #2) LitRPG Series (Sept. 28th, 2017)
Infinite Reality: Daggerland Online Novel 1 A LitRPG Adventure (Sept. 30th, 2017)
Might be out early
Desert Runner (Puatera Online Book 1) (Oct 4th, 2017)
A Game With No Rules (Perimeter Defense Book #4) LitRPG Series (Oct. 11, 2017)
Shattered Lands 3 Demon Wars: A LitRPG Series (Nov. 16th, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
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New Releases and Reviews
Shattered Lands: A LitRPG Series
It’s all just fun and games… until somebody dies.
Welcome to the Shattered Lands, the first truly immersive video game where you see, hear, touch, taste, and feel the game.
In this online fantasy world of dragons, elves, wizards, and magic, two best friends enter at the same time and take very different paths.
Daniel desperately wants to break free of his ‘nice-guy’ life in the real world… until his choices end in tragedy.
Eric wants unlimited power by any means necessary. Assassin or summoner of demons, it makes no different.
Join them on their quest – both inside the game and out – as they navigate the violence, the triumphs, the treachery, and the danger…
Of the Shattered Lands.
My Opinion: 527 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
A very meh novel. Game mechanics exist but don’t always make sense and are mostly informational. While there’s a described death penalty there’s not many other game mechanics described. Using magic is trained as ‘getting in touch with your mana’, combat is swinging sword, theft is more about being quick with your fingers than having a theft skill. Much of the novel feels like portal fiction with a veneer of RPG game mechanics.
This may be intentional since the author has an established non-LitRPG reader base.
The story itself is pretty meh too. The two main characters, Daniel and Eric, are really hard to root for. Daniel is weak willed and whiney. Eric, is a mouthy jerk that constantly insults people and when they do something about it, he feels hurt and vows vengeance.
The first 60% of the story is almost entirely about the two characters training. They start off as a thief and assassin. Then they change trainers, making much of what you read previously feel pointless. When the characters finally go adventuring, it’s really not interesting.
Overall, the there’s nothing technically wrong with the story but it just isn’t interesting to me.
Score: 5 out of 10.
Unexplored - Rise of the Crimson Kingdom: A LitRPG Adventure (Book 0 Unexplored Cycle)
Paul had waited months to play Unexplored, the latest fantasy VRMMORPG boasting a realistic feel, exciting combat, and the opportunity to experience sensual pleasure. Even an extremely nervous and socially awkward guy like himself could live an exciting life. Unexplored was everything he could have dreamed. What he didn’t expect, however, was joining a player guild led by a cunning megalomaniac who dealt in secrets and seemed intent on world domination.
As the elf Estelar, Paul helped lead the guild to greatness, meeting new and interesting friends along the way. In return, he was rewarded with all the food, ale, women, and gold he could ever want. Life is awesome, until he meets a down-on-her-luck dwarf named Fonwilsia during a caravan raid which leads him to question himself and his role so far in the game.
Wealth, power, and all their benefits were his to enjoy as a member of the Crimson Warriors. The only question was, how far was he willing to go to keep it?
Warning: This book contains erotic content. Reader discretion is advised.
My Opinion: 244 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
*Warning, graphic sex scenes in this novel*
From the author of Unexplored - Into the Wilderwood which has regular graphic sex scenes with an ok fantasy LitRPG story. Most of the authors other stories are "monster" fantasy erotic fiction.
This is a prequel story that describes the rise of the Crimson Alliance and the Fey Wilder Guild who are prominent in Into the Wilderwood.
This is LitRPG, it’s just not good LitRPG. The game mechanics in the story show up only during combat and are rather inconsistant. Levels and skills increase but there’s no logic to how it occurs. Ie: Beginning of the novel, the MC kills some kobold and rabbits and gets a couple levels. (no damage descriptions or XP numbers), then a little later he helps wipe out a whole village of goblins and only gains one level.
You can really tell just how much the game mechanics mean to the author when the MC gets to level 5, then about 10% later gets level 5 again and a little while later, get’s level 5 again. It’s not that the MC died and had to make up the XP. He just leveled three times, all to level 5.
That’s probably the biggest problem I have with the story. The few game mechanics in the story feel like they were applied after the story was already written and just aren’t particularly important to the story.
Storywise, it's a fairly predictable story. A couple of guys decide to play this great new game. They have a hard time raising their skills and leveling but want the girls in the game to like them and want money. They meet a bad guy who pays them to do bad things. This leads to them joining his bad guy guild and the two characters are sent on missions of increasingly evil natures.
(Slight spoilers ahead)
Eventually, one of them stars to question what he’s doing and leaves the guild. He then eventually starts developing relationships with other and they oppose the bad guild.
Regular sex scenes are inserted into the story and make up about 10% of the text in the novel. They get increasingly BDSM themed and if you’ve read the Into the Wildwood, some of the character names will seem familiar.
Personally, I skip the sex scenes. They make sense within the context of the story and that’s all I really check for. Where I have issues are with the predictable story and the fact that it feels more like portal fiction. Yes, there are RPG mechanics. The story does meet the minimal requirements of LitRPG but they feel like they don’t matter to the story.
Overall, not a good read for me.
Score: 4 out of 10.
Out of Her Depth: A Tale of the City and the Dungeon
Dave and his party are just looking for a replacement. Sam's looking for adventure and an escape from her parents. All of them are delvers, beings whose every attribute can be known as a number. Together, they adventure into the depths of the immense Dungeon, hunting for treasure and increased power.
Only for things to go horribly, horribly wrong.
Hope and despair struggle in this action-packed adventure set in the world of the City and the Dungeon.
My Opinion: 17 pages, $0.99, NOT available on Kindle Unlimited
Barely any RPG mechanics. One decent fight scene near the end. Very little world building or character development
Super short story. Not worth the price.
Score: 4 out of 10.
Zandaria: The Unintentional Troll: Book 1 of The LitRPG Zandaria Series (Zandaria LitRPG Series)
Allen is a troll.
Just an internet troll.
Well, at least for now.
Zandaria, the world's first full VR game is set to release, with best friend retail workers Mark and Trevor towards the front of the line. When their horrible co-worker, Allen, shows up unexpectedly and cuts in front to talk with them, things start to get a little hostile.
Through a series of events, the three find themselves inside the world of Zandaria, where they learn of a tournament taking place in a weeks time for $100,000. In order to compete, the three must find a fourth group member and reach level 5 within three days, and level 10 by the end of the week. If the harsh time limits weren't enough, they almost immediately find themselves locked up in jail, thanks to Allen.
My Opinion: 133 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The game mechanics are fairly standard. Character sheets, stats, classes, skills, abilities. Nothing new but reasonably detailed.
The story is focused on this ad-hoc group getting to know each other and working towards reaching level 5 in this full immersion MMO so that they can qualify to participate in a contest in the future. Scenes switch between combat and a variety of humorous interactions between group members and the NPCs.
And that’s where the story’s strength is. In the humor and banter between these four people that become friends. There are lots of quests and events that occur that are basically nerd jokes. The group constantly teases, jokes, and harass each other in a friendly way.
In many ways the novel is a clean, non-cursing version of Critical Failure’s group. There’s a loudmouth jerk that gets everyone in trouble but no one can stay mad at him because he has a secret heart of gold. There’s a guy that’s awkward around girls but is also smart. There’s his loyal best friend, and a intelligent girl that can joke and tease as good as the guys.
The humor in the story never reaches the absurd hilarity that Critical Failures does but it also doesn’t have the potty humor or cursing.
Overall, I had a good time reading it.
Score: 7 out of 10
The Savant Lands: The Lost Class
Lucian is a sophomore in college that would rather spend time reading his favorite fantasy books alone than hang out with others. He has always taken comfort in being a loner and especially in action and adventure books that contain endless magic and action. When Vivid Corporations releases a new virtual reality game(The Savant Lands) unexpectedly early, Lucian can't help but be pulled to the game as it promises any gamer the ability to become a mighty king, a wealthy merchant, a powerful wizard and much much more! There may be dark rumors about the release of the game and the fact that it seems a little too real, but Lucian is determined to not let this opportunity pass him up. Follow Lucian as he gets pulled into The Savant Lands because who knows... it could happen to anyone.
My Opinion: 220 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
*Warning: This story has a lot of technical writing issues in just about every page and in most paragraphs. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, paragraph structure. The thing that bothered me the most is that the author spells while, “why’ll”.
It’s going to bother some people.*
If you can get past those technical issues, there’s actually a rather good LitRPG story here. The story is by no means perfect but it is enjoyable.
The novel gets into the VR full immersion game world before the 2% mark and stays there with the main character (MC) only taking brief breaks back into the real world. During character creation, the game's A.I. tests the MC and determines he qualifies for a unique quest line to bring back an ancient dark religion. This leads the MC to get unique powers, and the opportunity to claim an abandoned fort.
Most of the story is spent town/community building and dungeon diving. The town/community building aspects use a civilization like interface where the MC can summon temporary workers or guards with mana or recruit permanent NPCs with in game money. These NPCs can be combat, magic, or even crafting focused. With physical threats abound and his constantly limited funds, the MC has to carefully manage his and plan how he’s going to build up the town.
The dungeons the MC and his group explore have a wide variety of monsters. The author stops the fights from getting stagnant by regularly giving the MC gains new powers and magical abilities that allow for new combat strategies. Even though, the MC becomes more and more powerful, he never becomes overpowered and still dies when he makes a bad decision or a mistake.
The plot in the story is rather light and serves mostly as a reason for the MC to fight and struggle to become more powerful. Early in the story a CEO is found dead after playing this game but that story thread isn’t even addressed until near the 70% mark. Instead, most of the plot revolves around the MC bringing back a dark god and the pantheon of light gods sending armies to destroy this new religion. Surviving this impending assault motivates the MC to build up his town/fort, build up forces, and seek out other allies from the dark races.
Overall, I had a good time reading the story once my brain just started to ignore all the grammar, spelling, and structural issues. However, I can’t ignore that part since the author is asking people to pay for his story and it is something that’s in every paragraph and every page of the novel. It loses a point for all the technical issues.
Score: 6 out of 10.
The outcome of the match is a matter of life or death.
17-year-old Rogue has always classified herself as socially awkward, preferring video games over a trip to the mall. When she wakes up in a forest, she finds that life as she knew it has changed forever, and she cannot remember how. In fact, she can’t remember the last 6 months at all. As she navigates this new world she soon discovers a talent for combat and survival she’d never had before. A handy ability in a world where humans compete in a game governed by rules she can’t remember.
Ronin, a talented 19-year-old, was wrenched from his Midwest home and forced to compete with a Skaki set. Despite the set’s repeated losses, Ronin has proven himself a powerful player, his sights set on surviving each match—no matter the cost. When a new pawn is added to his set to replace one they lost, Ronin begins to break out of the shell he built around himself and reexamines what he and the other humans have become.
My Opinion: 416 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Originally published Set. 2015, the author of the novel says that she wrote it as YA science fiction. She says the story originated with her desire to write a story that included a VR adventure game with Co-Op and that her gamer background influenced the story alot.
She contacted me to see if her novel was LitRPG since it was set in a game. I’m happy to say that it is. There are some caveats that I’ll get into but ever though it wasn’t written as LitRPG it is.
1) The story exists in an RPG game world or world with expressly stated RPG game mechanics. This can mean that the story is set in an MMO, a VR game, an RPG game, a parallel or alien world, or anywhere else as long as there are expressly stated game mechanics.
-In this novel, the main character and her team are players in a virtual reality deathmatch game with a chess theme. White pieces. Black pieces. Players are designated as different chess pieces who have their own powers. Queens have control powers, Knights have a flying vehicle, etc. Everyone knows they’re in a game. The game mechanics aren’t hidden from anyone.
2) The main character progresses in an expressly stated way according to those game mechanics. For example: Leveling up, Increasing skills or abilities, increasing ranks, or increasing reputation. Also by expressly stated, I mean that it says it in the text of the book and isn't something that's inferred or something only the author would be aware of.
- The main character absolutely gains levels and becomes more powerful not just through the game system but also as a person.
As player (called pieces) defeat their opponents, they gain experience points that lead to increased levels, weapon upgrades, unlocked items/skills. Enough levels gained, gets a new rank and increased abilities and skills. There are health bars (no numbers). Eventually, there are detailed descriptions of how the game works including how pieces get new skills and abilities.
Now for the caveats. Remember, this novel wasn’t written as LitRPG, which while having existed in 2015 wasn’t popular enough to be considered a genre. The first 60% of the novel has very few game mechanics described. The main character wakes up in the game, not remembering who she is or what’s happening around her. So, she discovers a few of the games mechanics but most of the story centers around the first deathmatch in the novel.
On its own, it minimally qualifies as LitRPG.
It's not until the 60% when the main character wakes up after winning the match that the game mechanics of this virtual reality deathmatch game are revealed fully in glorious detail.
-Items and skills can be purchased using gold or viewer appreciation points (VATs) that are given by the watchers of this live streamed virtual fights. There are alot of skill options including magic, control, stealth, healing, and damage dealing skills/abilities. The ones the MC chooses are well described but don’t follow the LitRPG formatting convention of being separated into its own paragraph (Remember not written as LitRPG).
-Virtual training increases skills and abilities and also gains more XP towards levels.
Storywise, there’s a lot going on in this novel. The first half, feels like a mixture of the hunger games, YA teen drama, and some light RPG mechanics. The combat is well written but I found the jealous teen drama stuff and the romance aspects annoying. I’m not saying it’s poorly written, I as a 35 year old hispanic male, am just not the target audience for that stuff.
The last half, (after the 60% mark) is so much better. After the first match is won and the MC wakes up it takes a nice Sci Fi twist. It's revealed that aliens conquered the earth and humanity has become slaves forced to fight in these virtual deathmatches. The Sci Fi aspect that’s introduced are well described and seem relatively plausible. All the personal revelations about the MC are also revealed here and they’re kind of cool. It’s also in this section that most of the game mechanics, the game’s purpose, the hidden rules and features of this universe are revealed. The YA teen drama/romance still exists here but not nearly as much. Because I understand more about this universe and what’s happening in the story even that drama makes more sense and is less annoying.
Overall, I really liked the last half of the novel. I’d give that part of the story a 7 out of 10. It’s good. However, the first 60% of the story, while not bad, just left me feeling lost as to what the point of this death game was. That coupled with the YA teen drama/romance made that part of the novel less interesting to me.
Score: 6 out of 10.
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