LitRPG Podcast 068
LitRPG Podcast 068
September 8th, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 68 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 9 new LitRPG reviews for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
Venia Online: A LitRPG Saga (36:00)
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Adventures in Terra Book 2: Escape Audiobook is out
Results of the LitRPG Awards
2nd Annual Wizards and Warriors Choice Awards!
1) Wizard (Best Series) - The Land
2) Warrior (Best Book) - Awaken Online: Catharsis
3) (Best New LitRPG Voice) - Dungeon Born
4) (Best RRL Story) - Arcane Emperor
Congrats to the winners! :)
Experience from DragonCon 2017
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LitRPG booth did great. James Hunter, Michael Chatfield, Jeffrey Falcon Logue, Blaise Corvin were there the majority of the time selling books. Jeff Hays was there too promoting his audiobooks and telling folks about LitRPG. Most of the LitRPG novels the authors brought sold out.
Lots of fans came by and other authors stopped by to say hi. Robert Bevan, Dakota Krout, Travis Bagwell, Luke Chmilenko, Kevin McLaughlin and more whose names I’m probably forgetting.
The LitRPG Podcast also went to the LitRPG Gala and it was fun to talk to fans and LitRPG community members.
I had an amazing time and want to thank everyone that came to support the LitRPG community. Hopefully it’s something we can do next year too.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Emerilia Book 9 (Sept. 9th, 2017)
Space Knight (Sept. 11th, 2017)
-New SciFi LitRPG by Michael Scott Earl
The Artificer (Viridian Gate DLC) (Sept. 17th, 2017)
Persephone Falling (The Persephone Saga Book 1) (Sept. 22nd, 2017)
Starter Zone (The Revelation Chronicles Book 1) (Sept. 25th, 2017)
The Laboratory: A Futuristic Dungeon Core (Sept. 27th, 2017)
On the Lost Continent (AlterGame Book #2) LitRPG Series (Sept. 28th, 2017)
Desert Runner (Puatera Online Book 1) (Oct 4th, 2017)
Emerilia Book 10 (Oct. 10th, 2017)
A Game With No Rules (Perimeter Defense Book #4) LitRPG Series (Oct. 11, 2017)
Fantasy Online Polynya: A LitRPG Saga (Oct. 16th, 2017)
The Wizard (Dungeon Core Book 1) (Oct. 16th, 2017)
Desert Born (Puatera Online Book 2) (Nov. 8th, 2017)
Emerilia Book 11 (Nov. 11th, 2017)
Shattered Lands 3 Demon Wars: A LitRPG Series (Nov. 16th, 2017)
The Twilight Obelisk (Mirror World Book #4) (Dec. 4th, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
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New Releases and Reviews
Gong and Chalice: Epic LitRPG Adventure (Fayroll - Book 4)
The adventure continues. A recruitment office and a Recruitment Sergeant, it’s a new thing for Hagen the Warrior but nostalgia for Kif as he ponders joining a ‘Free Company’ heading South. But is he ready for what awaits him? And is the final Dryad worth it?
The South, a completely new scene. Even more deadly than any other place in Fayroll and one that might prove too much for Kif. As reality begins to blur and the game gets more real, Harry realises just how dangerous the South can be especially with the Free Companies. With more clan intrigue, strange players, and deadly creatures Harry must continue his epic quest as the final Dryad waits for him. But his time is running out and he must visit the Monkey King Temple to complete the Dryad Quest and face the terrifying challenges. All the While facing a possible Clan War between various unknown factions. Life in Fayroll is heating up.
Also a ‘nice’ visit from VIka’s sister, the mysterious Elina, reveals a gaming secret and causes turmoil for Harry. Not to mention troublesome work colleagues and an expanding staff, it is a busy time for Kif. He even finds time to learn about some of the even darker sides of online gaming and the unscrupulous side of clan intrigue and the black market. It is an adventurous time for our hero.
My Opinion: 392 pages, Published at $8.20, currently $6.95, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
Harriton/Hagen, the main character (MC) are heading south to finish up the last of the dryad quests. To get there the MC joins up with a free company of mercenaries and just like that he’s back in the army.
For me, this one is just like the last couple. Sure the theme is different, but it's basically the MC going on adventures, killing stuff, getting new loot, and then towards the end wrapping up the main questline.
The only new things are the army theme, a little guild intrigue, some behind the scene backstory about game AI and the IRL storyline of Harriton having to deal with his girlfriends sister, someone he knows in game.
If you really liked the last couple novels in the series, the story is worth it since it’s more of the same. For me it just didn’t feel that different from the last couple of novels in the series. Hopefully, with the end of the dryad questline and the beginning of the new one we’ll get some fresh new content.
Score: 6 out of 10
Escape from Hell: A LITRPG Adventure (Kingdom of Heaven Book 2
The Shadow has taken control, and Kingdom of Heaven's last hope has found himself trapped somewhere else entirely.
After falling victim of the evil lord Shadow's manipulations, college dropout turned reluctant gaming hero Iron Jack has been trapped in the much fabled but seldom visited lower levels of what was once his favorite video game.
In a dangerous world where the rules are different and nothing is as it seems, Iron Jack must look for a way back to the world he's sworn to protect and the people he's come to care about, including the hottest angel chick in any realm,
When he finds his old crew, the Avenging Angels there, he thinks he's got a leg up on the Shadow and his dastardly plans, but Iron Jack will soon find that things aren't as simple as he hoped, and even a world as complicated as Kingdom of Heaven has a dark underbelly.
Welcome to Hell, Iron Jack. Hope you survive the experience.
My Opinion: 306 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
There’s a nice summary of the events of book 1. It reminds you how the MC was tricked into being pushed into lower levels of world, essentially hell. There, he’s given the simple choice. Kill a member of your old guild and go back to the surface or don’t and stay stuck there in hell as the surface is taken over by the Shadow.
Most of the story is a series of events in which the MC tries to rescue his guild mates so they can go back to the surface. The RPG mechanics still exist in the story but they’re severely muted and limited to the main characters progression. It’s all waved away as a product of the level they're on.
A good portion of the plot feels forced. Everything from the overly antagonistic female member of the guild Glitter, to why the MC just can’t tell his guild mates how he’s stuck in the game world, to the retconning done to advance the plot and give the MC the ability to absorb Banshee powers. Even the plot twists at the end feel forced.
What the story does do well is the improve the cast of the story. With the addition of the MC’s guildmates, the story just feels more fleshed out. There’s more backstory to appreciate what kind of person the MC is and the banter between characters is nicely done.
Overall, it’s an ok story that feels very forced alot of the times and drops a good bit of the RPG mechanics.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Dembo's Ditty (A LitRPG Gamebook)
You are Dembo Daji, a Maroki – a Griot. But you weren’t always. You were once a struggling DJ in the near future. Home for you was a tiny efficiency in the Pittsburgh Projects – a 50-story housing development in the crime-ridden, ultra-violent area of Pittsburgh, in southwest Atlanta, Georgia… until you finally saved up enough credits to purchase the U.R.E. – the Universal Reality Engine – the world’s most popular gaming console and you decided to play Ki Khanga – the world’s most popular MMORPG – on it.
Now, you’re stuck in the world of Ki Khanga and looking for a way out.
All isn’t bad, though. You’re in love with Joni, a beautiful and brilliant princess. But in order to win her hand in marriage, you have to first win over her father, who demands his daughter marry someone of great fame and fortune. Becoming the official Maroki of Yoro Mosa, the hero of heroes, is the best way to do it. The problem is, Yoro’s life is fraught with dangers. Hordes of evil, intelligent chimpanzees, sorcerers and gargantuan monsters are just some of the terrible things you’ll have to face if you get the gig.
This gamebook is similar to the Choose Your Own-type books, but with cool game stats, weapons, skills and funky spell-songs to choose from!
Hack, slash, talk and sing your way out of trouble and into fame and glory as you choose your path through a hilarious and dangerous LitRPG adventure!
My Opinion: 222 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The author describes the story as a Choose your own Adventure, ‘but with cool game stats, weapons, skills and funky spell-songs to choose from!’ He’s written 16 novels and gamebooks.
This was always going to be a tough project. Choose your own adventure or Gamebooks as the author calls them are intended to make you feel as if you're in the story and that your choices change the story. They usually do this by presenting you with choices, then telling you to go to a certain page or place to see the results of that choice. That choice leads to other choices which lead to still more. The result is usually a complex network of branching narratives that can result in multiple story paths and even different endings.
Computer games made this sort of novel obsolete or at least moved the medium to the digital realm where the possible story branches weren't limited by physical page count. Now a days there are even apps that do this kind of stuff. Sorcery! Series by Steven Jackson. They even keep track of stats, attack and damage rolls during a fight, health, mana pools, etc, so you don't have to keep a journal to remember your choices.
For me, this novel was a nostalgic trip to my childhood. Buying a new book, getting my notepad and dice and flipping pages till I died then starting again at some branching path. The problem with this story, is that technically feels outdated. Also unlike having a physical book, there’s no easy way to skip to your choice here. I’d expected some hyperlink or something to send me to my choices. Instead, you have to swipe through all the possible choices and you can't help but read some, ruining any possibility or replay or reread.
Additionally, aside from a couple places where your choice will end the story and tell you to start over, the story moves in a fairly linear manner. There are branches that send you through interesting side missions but ultimately they all lead right back to the main linear story.
There are a series of complex rules for combat and skills that take up the first 5% of the novel to explain. Unfortunately, none of it matters. The story narration predetermines the outcome of every combat choice. Skills are never even taken into account for choices.
Ie: For example, at one point as the MC, you are tasked with getting the ingredients for a breakfast (17%). Given two choices for type of food to get: Giant Clam or Seagull eggs. Each leads to combat and more sub choices as to how to fight. Magic music, weapons. Each of those choices has results that might end the fight or give you more combat choices. Regardless, they end in one of two ways basically. Clam- Kill the clam, get big pearl, sell pearl and split money with fishermen that come to help you. Escape clam no reward. Cook clam, no pearl, but no extended combat. You basically get similar results with the seagull eggs. Yet, no matter what you choose, they all lead to a breakfast scene (27%) where the cook ‘takes the breakfast stuff’ and the story continues on like nothing else happened.
My favorite part, was the world building done in the first 5% of the novel. The author paints a picture of a vibrant Afrikan inspired world with unique social structures and traditions. Throughout the novel the choices given often include musical options. Choosing to play one type of music over another leads to different small consequences and outcomes. The author describes a world where music is as powerful as any blade or spear.
I genuinely would not mind visiting this world again. Just not as a choose your own adventure.
Score: 5 out of 10.
Blood Reign: LitRPG Series Book 1
When the king of Cold Crook dies without an heir, the search for a new king begins.
Enter Codin, an apprentice to a tanner. He’s never expected to amount to much, so he is surprised to learn that he is an old king’s illegitimate son. That makes him the next in the line to the throne.
Codin must learn to be a king. He has to grow his kingdom and improve his own skills, while making sure a web of conspiracy spun by hidden enemies doesn’t trap him.
My Opinion: 82 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Each little section of the story has a problem, then three choices, and a pre written decision and outcome.
Is this an experimental format? A choose your own adventure where the choices are already made? I don't know. The author doesn't say. While there are sort of game mechanics, none of the characters are aware of them and they don't matter to the story at all. Not LitRPG.
Score: 4 out of 10.
Battle for Mesrath: A LitRPG Adventure: Grottos and Vixens, Alpha Elf Book 1
Magic and Fantasy is just a click away.
Every day John Simpson logs onto the hottest, most controversial Virtual Reality game on the market, Grottos and Vixens. When his friend Betty asks him to teach her to play, he obliges, taking her into the epic world and promising her an adventure of a lifetime.
Upon entering the game, he quickly notices something's gone terribly wrong. The Elven City of Mesrath is now under attack. And for the first time ever, humans and orcs are fighting side by side.
As they set out to find the source of the trouble, they both come to realize the harsh reality of what will happen if they fail in their quest,
And what will happen if they succeed.
Battle for Mesrath is the first book in a fantasy adventure saga, with character level-ups through training, a diverse range of characters and a compelling storyline. Not for the faint of heart, Battle for Mesrath promises a most exciting ride.
My Opinion: 66 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is just sex in a fantasy world with a guise of a VR theme. There are a couple of character sheets but no game mechanics. Heck, there’s barely any story besides sex. Not LitRPG.
Score: 2 out of 10
Extraction Protocol: A LitRPG Space Marine Adventure (Omicron Sector Book 1)
Aaron and his friends run missions in the Omicron Sector, the latest full immersion MMO, for fun and profit. Their most recent run was to be a simple extraction of a few scientists. Or so they thought.
Finding the labs abandoned upon arrival, Captain Aaron Taylor and his fire team must face the dark secrets that await them inside the research facility. Do they have what it takes? Or will they succumb to the perils of the game?
My Opinion: 49 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Short story but has a nice Mass Effect/Halo vibe balancing sci-fi action and RPG mechanics. Character sheets, sci-fi abilities, skills, and weapon descriptions.
A group of skilled players goes accepts a mission to check on a bunch of scientists and things go sideways.
Lots of action and a nice SciFi twists that has interesting potential in future stories.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Total Immersion: Dark World: A LitRPG Adventure
Legendary Elora Online gamer-The Seeker kills and loots Sid, destroying all of Sid’s progress in the game. Infuriated, Sid makes it his personal mission to exact a humiliating revenge on Seeker for the sakes of all the players in Elora. He succeeds after months of planning, but soon, he find himself in a secret part of Elora Online, Dark World, where he can feel everything in the game with all his senses and can’t access Elora or the real world anymore.
As he uncovers the mysteries of Dark World while being stalked by The Seeker, his old nemesis who also now has a new race and class, he makes unusual friends who help him claim his summons for Mystic. With each summon he wins in impossible battles, he gains more power, and unlocks the secrets of what Dark World really is…what Elora Online is, and why he’s there. The hits make him bleed, and the deaths are painful. He must defeat Seeker once again, and this time it’ll take more than a year of planning. It’ll take a worldwide war.
My Opinion: 279 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Solid game mechanics. Interesting use of crafting abilities. There’s a lot of potential in the core story. It’s just not realized because of the writing style and the lack of character development.
The core story is about the main character (MC) stopping a bad player named Seeker. In the first game world, the MC is trying to stop Seeker from player killing everyone and making them start over in the game. Then, the MC is taken into a parallel past version of the game (never explained how this is) and he has to try and stop Seeker from changing the game’s past. Not bad right?
However, that core story is interrupted with seemingly random quests and introductions of various people without ever making the reader care about anything or anyone. Even the MC has so little backstory that it’s hard to care if he succeeds or fails.
Additionally, uses a distanced style of writing that made me feel like I was watching someone play a game on YouTube and not in the action.
Overall, just a meh story for me.
Score: 5 out of 10
Venia Online: A LitRPG Saga
What would you do if you woke up in a strange world which has three moons?
What if you had no memory of how you got there?
And what would you do, upon realizing that you are in a world manifests itself to you in the form of a videogame?
The World of Venia promises action, adventure, mystery, intrigue, and danger at every turn.
With the Dread King rising, the knights tired of fighting, the rogues resorting to kidnapping, and the mages rapidly declining, it is up to a modern day young man to navigate through this mad world of magic and beasts and deception - whether he wants to or not.
My Opinion: 261 pages, $3.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
I sort of question that page count. This felt like a short story. Any who. The MC, a man without a memory of who he is, wakes up trapped on a strange planet with RPG mechanics. He accesses his character sheet from a tattoo on his palm XI. He has the unique ability to respawn once per day at his last save point if he dies. He retains all the knowledge and debuffs he had when he died. This lets him re-do situations and fights with foreknowledge of future events.
Basically, it’s a LitRPG version of Re: Zero (http://rezero.wikia.com/wiki/Re:Zero_Wiki ) with more detailed game mechanics and set in an alternate fantasy world.
If you’ve watched or read Re: Zero, you’re going to recognize a lot of the same plot lines. Save the princess, fight the big bad evil guy. Use your respawn ability to survive death defying situations or re-do bad choices.
Beyond the MCs ability to respawn, there’s not much that’s special about the story. It’s not bad. There are some interesting choices that the MC makes and overall it’s well written. But the story doesn’t have any flair to make it stand out from the popular comparison, Re: Zero.
Score: 6 out of 10
Infinite Reality: Daggerland Online Novel 1 A LitRPG Adventure
A hundred million on-line players with thousands of choices, but everyone knows there’s only one game: Infinite Reality. When a judge declares it a monopoly, the co-creators become competitors and then very quickly become murder victims with one thing in common: they were all online when they died. Everything points to the sole-surviving creator, Atticus Arching.
When the FBI can’t find Arching in the real world, they send Agent Daniel Roan and his team to the “other side” to track him down, only to find out that the game is more than just a game and Arching is more than just a computer programmer. He’s the most dangerous person in two worlds and can kill in both.
My Opinion: 385 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This story starts out as a Thriller/Detective story with a VR theme. Someone gets killed while wearing playing a VR game. Then when the FBI sends a cyber crime team into a full immersion VR game to catch the killer, the story turns into a more standard fantasy VR adventure romp.
The story has many cute good moments. Roan, the MC, learning to trust his horse, conversations with Glitch or his team, the romance between characters (not MC and Jarrod). However, the novel suffers from unfulfilled or at least greatly delayed expectations.
The setup, specifically the first 5%, is great. I’ve read a few of these openings and this is a great setup for either a LitRPG Thriller or LitRPG detective story. It’s good enough to have been an opening for an episode of Law and Order. One of the good seasons.
Then things start to get a little off page. After all the justification for the FBI to send a team of cyber crime experts into the game to catch the killer and get enough evidence to charge him. There are lots of reasons why they didn’t have to, but I can sort of give leeway here because the author tries really hard to give good reasons why they have to go in the game.
Then the next 60% of the novel is a combination of the FBI team being killed and having to re-roll new characters and then running around exploring the fantasy world under the loose guise of finding clues to locate the guy who can kill from the game.
At the 61% mark, the FBI acts like detectives and advances the plot towards finding the killer. It just takes a really long time to get here. Hundreds of pages. Even the main character Roan, states “I think my main problem is that it feels like we’re still spinning our wheels. We aren’t any closer to catching Arching than when we first started.” That’s how I feel for most of the novel. The detective/thriller stuff I was expecting takes so long to appear it's sort of a letdown. Not to say the fantasy adventuring is bad, it's not. But it feels like it takes away from what I was expecting according to the setup.
After the 63% mark, the story picks up the pace and a lot more advancement takes place. There’s still good action fantasy RPG stuff but there’s also a very clear progression of the story towards finding and stopping the bad guy.
Overall, this is almost a good story. It has a great beginning but just takes too darn long to get to more detective thriller stuff.
Score: 6 out of 10.
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