LitRPG Podcast 077
LitRPG Podcast 077
November 3rd, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 77 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 11 new LitRPG reviews for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
Grim City: A LitRPG Short Story (15:34)
Nascent (The Stork Tower Book 1) (45:29)
(Play Music 2)
I recently had a chance to talk to Aaron Jay, the author of Beginner’s Luck, you can see the interview on our site or on Facebook. It was fun.
I also had a chance to talk to author Michael Chatfield, author of the Emerilia series. That will come out Tues 11/7. We actually did that one live and a few people actually showed up to watch.
Fayroll book 1: More Than a game - is 0.99$ on Amazon. The book will be available at a special discount until November 6th, 2017.
To celebrate Underworld - Level Up or Die being published 11/06, Codename: Freedom - Survive Week One will be free for one day, Saturday November 4th!
“I want to thank you all for the amazing response to my first book! And to take the opportunity to share my good fortune with some folks who deserve it much more than I do.
Starting now, the next $500 in royalties earned will be donated to Wounded Warrior Project. It should only take 200-250 ebooks or full kindle reads to meet the goal!” - Dave Willmarth
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Our review of the ebook: http://www.geekbytespodcast.com/litrpg-database/2017/11/2/awaken-online-retribution-side-quest
Our review of the ebook: http://www.geekbytespodcast.com/litrpg-database/2016/7/13/the-bathrobe-knight?rq=bathrobe%20kn
Underworld - Level up or Die! (Nov. 6th)
Desert Born (Puatera Online Book 2) (Nov. 8th, 2017)
Dungeon Calamity (The Divine Dungeon Book 3) (Nov. 15th, 2017)
Bloody Crucible: Lone Wolf (LITRPG Series) (Nov. 15th, 2017)
Shattered Lands 3 Demon Wars: A LitRPG Series (Nov. 16th, 2017)
The Airship: A Futuristic Dungeon Core (The Laboratory Book 2) (Nov. 17th, 2017)
The Land: Predators (Chaos Seeds: Book 7) (Nov. 19th, 2017)
Eden's Gate: The Sands: A LitRPG Adventure (Nov. 22nd, 2017)
Infinite Assassins: Daggerland Online Novel 2 A LITRPG Adventure (Nov. 30th, 2017)
The Twilight Obelisk (Mirror World Book #4) (Dec. 4th, 2017)
Emerilia Book 11 (Dec. 5th, 2017)
Desert Storm (Puatera Online Book 3) (Dec. 13th, 2017)
The Reapers (The Neuro Book #3) LitRPG Series (Jan. 24th, 2018)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
A nerdy gamer is asked to test-drive a state-of-the-art virtual reality game designed to boost tourism to an ancient Native American historic site. The name of the game: Legend of the Witch Doctor. What should have been a fun opportunity for Ben and his college classmates turns into a nightmare when the students find themselves immersed in horrific sensory overload and unable to leave the game. Ben must now put all his gaming experience and creativity to work in order to defeat the game and free his trapped classmates, including the woman he loves.
"Witch Doctor" is a litrpg short story that's full of action, suspense, crafting, and loads of fun!
My Opinion: About 75 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The story starts off with a historical scene of a native american tribe working with white settlers to banish an evil witch doctor.
It then spends the next 20% of the novel setting up two characters, Maggie and Ben. Two college students that visit a haunted indian burial site with there history class. Part of the exhibit is a VR game that is supposed to show the site and incorporates the myth of an ancient evil spirit that’s supposed to reside there.
Everyone gets trapped and starts to get murdered by zombies and the witch doctor. This is definitely a horror story set in VR not LitRPG. There are three mentions of game stuff. At the 28% mark is a small character sheet. At the 40% mark there’s a notification that the Objective is to survive the Witch Doctor. At the 52% Mark there is a notification that Shawn dies. 58% A health potion is used. That’s it, a handful of sentences.
This is a horror story set in a VR simulation. But there are no RPG elements. It’s some college kids running away from the undead and them getting killed one at a time. No skills, the stats mentioned don’t matter to the story, no one gains experience points or levels, no game mechanics. If you took out the few sentences mentioned before, you couldn’t tell this was even set in VR.
Not a horrible horror story set in VR but definitely not LitRPG.
Score: 4 out of 10.
Grim City: A LitRPG Short Story
Miranda "Mandy" Tesser desperately searches for a missing girl in a zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic wasteland. Mandy battles zombies, "Nightmare Men," scavengers, and her own personal demons as she tries to preserve a semblance of humanity in a world turned upside down.
My Opinion: 94 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Basically a bland attempt at combining zombie horror and LitRPG. The story is short but does qualify as LitRPG. Unlike the author’s other short story Witch Doctor, this one has a little RPG progression. The first 14% setup the story as a zombie apocalypse RPG game, including critical hit damage notifications, showing the main characters character sheet, and her class.
Then when the action picks up again, you’re shown the character sheet again and she’s gained points in awareness and dexterity from her actions in game (70%). There are still damage notifications for crits but most of the game elements fade away in exchange for horror chase scares for the rest of the story.
It’s still not that great and is basically a monster chase scene but at least it’s LitRPG if barely.
Score: 5 out of 10
Eyrth Online: Episode 5: TMOLW: The Memoirs of Lawrence Wrath (5th Playlist)
Stop! Do not read this story if you are a Douche bag, Troll, Hate Music, are Anti-Marijuana, Dislike Fun, Don’t Like Video Games, and are just a Terrible Human Being.
If any of these describe you DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!
On the other hand, if you like all of those things and irreverent humor, pop culture, bad jokes, gratuitous language and violence, plus, you’re a fan of movies like:
Cheech and Chong’s The Corsican Brothers
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
The Princess Bride
On Weed… Then this stories for you!
Eyrth Online is the adventures of Lawrence Wrath. Just your everyday average stoner, who gets to play the most amazing virtual reality massively multiplayer role playing game (VRMMORPG) of all time;
My Opinion: 148 pages, $2.99, Available On Kindle Unlimited
A wonderful stoner LitRPG story. This is my favorite in the series so far. The game side expands by including some town building and magical theory. On the story side, there’s lots of action, adventure, and airship fun.
This is a short story so it’s hard to talk about it without spoiling too much. But there is advancement in the dream like revelations about how the main character, Lawrence’s, uncle died. From the 30% point on though, it’s also a super funny, highly inappropriate, stoner action comedy. So many jokes. All I’ll say is that I learned what the word Chonga is and a part of me wishes I hadn’t. Another part of me laughs when I hear the word now.
Also, be aware that there’s a lot of cursing and many sex references towards the end. You’ll either love it or hate it.
Score: 7 out of 10
Liar King (Tower of Babel Book 2)
From the very first hour Cayden had set foot inside the massive, real-life game that was the Tower of Babel, nothing had gone according to plan. A unique skill, a handful of new friends and the wrath of an ultra-wealthy, patricidal lunatic were just some of the complications to his best laid plans.
So why was he even surprised when a special event trapped him, his companions and dozens of other players inside the tower, squaring them off against a murderous army of stone-faced warriors?
If they are to have any hope of survival, they'll have to leverage not only their own personal power, but the power of the Elan as well. There are castles to be built, armies to be raised and one real question to be posed.
How good is a self-proclaimed RPG nerd going to be at turn-based strategy?
My Opinion: About 400 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is the sequel to the popular LitRPG novel, Tower of Babel: Speedrunner.
This novel is definitely a shift away from the storyline of Speedrunner.
It drops the main character (MC), Cayden, and his friends in a special event that turns into this city building, resource management, turn based strategy game. There are still lots of good regular action scenes and dungeon dives but the new game mechanics from this turn based strategy game are the big thing in the novel. If you like those kinds of games (Civilization, Age of Wonders, etc.) then you’re really going to enjoy this novel.
There are all the mechanics of those games like hex maps, unit production, building production with bonus, turns that have to be planned out. There are also resources to manage like: Research, Food, Production, Magic, and Influence. There’s still lots of action in the story, it’s just modified sometimes to use things like mobility, morale, attack and defense values, and is told on a larger scale.
If you’re not a big fan of strategy games, then you may not like this story as much as uber fans of that type of game but there are still lots of action and good story to keep you entertained.
For me, I like strategy games but I usually play the campaign once and forget about it. I don’t repeatedly play different scenarios or do online play. So the new mechanics were neat to see since few stories venture into that realm of game mechanics in a LitRPG story. I was also happy to see that one of the characters played as a Juggernaut class.
A few small points that will bother some people. The story ends without full resolution of the situation of being trapped on this level. It’s not so much a cliff hanger as it is part one of a larger story arc.
Also, the last 8% is also a sample of another LitRPG story the author is planning to release.
Score: 7 out of 10
The Pantheon Moves (Emerilia Book 10)
Wins and losses, there is no time to celebrate or mourn.
The Pantheon in the chaos has once again risen to power, some trying to take power from one another, others supporting the people of Emerilia.
As the people of Emerilia finally getting ahead of the war against the Event of Myths and Legends of those that were spawned in and those that entered through portals. The Pantheon once again displays their might.
Win or lose, there are no other paths open to the people of Emerilia.
My Opinion: 355 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The story starts off on a rather sad note. The big reveal over who died from the battle in book 9 is right there in the first pages of the story. Some folks die permanently other temporarily. Still, those deaths are used as a rallying cry not against the monsters being released on Emerilia but against the Jukal Empire.
That’s sort of the underlying theme in the story, preparation for the upcoming rebellion against the Jukal Empire. Yes, there are lots of other thing that happen. The ‘Event of Myths and Legends’ wraps up and the fight between the members of the pantheon begin. But a good portion of the middle of the story is just prep for the next next big fight, the Jukal. There’s lots of switching between different characters as they wrap up storylines or prepare for larger space battles that we’ll see in book 11. It can feel a little slow if you’re not into crafting or training scenes.
The last 25% of the novel is an almost non stop action and has some surprising twists in the story. Really great stuff.
Overall, a good read. Even if the series is leaning more towards space opera at this point is was still a good story and I look forward to reading book 11.
Score: 7 out of 10
Redeemer of the Dead: A LitRPG Apocalypse (The System Apocalypse Book 2)
Four months ago, the world changed as electronics failed and blue screens started appearing, gifting humanity with abilities, Classes and Skills straight from a game. Caught in Klondike National Park during the apocalypse, John manages to fight his way free and reach Whitehorse. Unfortunately, the System hasn't finished with humanity yet and dungeons begin to appear, bringing with them more powerful, stronger and smarter monsters. Can John and his friends survive and level up?
Redeemer of the Dead is Book 2 of the System Apocalypse, a LitRPG / GameLit Apocalypse book that combines modern day life, science fiction and fantasy elements along with game mechanics.
My Opinion: 298 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a fine sequel to Life in the North and a good read if you know what you're getting into. This is a slice of life/daily adventure story set in a gamified post apocalyptic earth.
There are some good fights, especially that last one, but there’s not much plot. It’s action, adventure, dungeon diving, character development, and a little bit of world building.
Think of this as a serialized LitRPG action adventure series collected together. If you expect it to be more, you’ll be disappointed. But if you accept it for what it is you might have a good time going along for the adventure.
Score: 7 out of 10
The Builder's Wrath (The Legendary Builder Book 4)
After Dred laid waste to Heaven, defeated Lucifer, and kidnapped Gabriella, Arthur will do anything to stop him, even if it means teaming up with Hell's greatest enemy.
Armed with a sword more powerful than ever, Arthur has one chance to rebuild Heaven, forge an alliance between the angels and demons, and find the Holy Grail.
If he succeeds, he may just have the power he needs to defeat Dred and rescue Gabriella, but if he fails, well, at least the convenience store is still hiring.
My Opinion: 460 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
It feels like the author has found a formula that works for him and the series. Just like book 3, this one follows that formula of the main character training, adding to his harem to gain new powers, beating an enemy, then at the end being challenged by an even greater threat.
It’s not bad writing, just predictable. The action is actiony. There is enough to be LitRPG. The main character’s ability to distribute experience points of the things/people he owns is finally back. Now it can even respec a person’s experience which is overpowered to me and breaks an earlier game rule established. Which happens several other times in the novel too.
Overall, the story didn’t feel that special to me.
Score: 6 out of 10
Camelot Dungeon: An Arthurian LitRPG
The return of Sir Gorrow, Knight of King Arthur's Round Table.
With the fall of the City of Camelot, Sir Gorrow shines out as a beacon of resistance and hope to the free folk of the north. But a beacon casts too much light and soon the servants of the Evil One come to hunt him down.
Gorrow is faced with a dilemma -- does he abandon his village to the raids of evil minions, or does he attempt to defend it?
Or could he come up with a way to disappear completely?
My Opinion: 263 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The story shifts from dungeon diving to dungeon creation. Evil has won. Silver Drift is the last village allied to good. The main character plans to defend the village to the death, but only as a ruse. He knows the village will be destroyed but plans to move most of the NPC residents and industries underground and create a dungeon as cover for the work they do. The MC will create a ‘good’ dungeon populated by holy creatures to fight back all the evil bad guys. Only making and maintaining a dungeon is harder than he realized.
The story seems like a way for the author to explore a new kind of LitRPG storytelling, the dungeon master story. But it’s still fun.
Score: 7 out of 10
Awaken Online: Retribution (Side Quest)
A side quest adventure in the same world as the best-selling Awaken Online series. This story takes place after the end of Awaken Online: Precipice.
Riley's real-life took a nosedive after her confrontation with Alex. The girls at school torment her and she feels powerless to do anything about it. At the same time, Jason has mysteriously disappeared, sending only a terse cryptic message to Riley and Frank.
With some time on her hands and with her frustration with her real-life reaching a breaking point, Riley decides to strike off on her own in-game. Her goal is to investigate the quest related to the strange bow she discovered in the dungeon north of Peccavi. Yet events quickly spiral out of control as she discovers that the bow's former owner has set her along a path of vengeance - with an entire city hanging in the balance.
My Opinion: 276 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This novel is all about Riley, the female archer and sort of love interest of Jason the main character in the Awaken Online series. In this novel you get to see what makes Riley tick and what the consequences are for her taking Jason’s side over her ex-boyfriend Alex. There’s lots of great character development for Riley.
The in-game story seems to be part world building and part ‘who done it’ mystery as clues lead to several suspects in a magical plague case. On the world building end, the reader gets to learn about how the magic system in the game works and about a new mage city. On the mystery end, well let’s just say I wouldn't have been surprised if at some point someone yelled, “It’s the Col. Mustard, the fire Mage, in the Library with the Candlestick. Fun stuff.
There’s still plenty of action and adventure but the addition of a bit of mystery makes this side story stand out from the main Awaken Online series.
Score: 7 out of 10
(Picture 10- manual)
Nascent (The Stork Tower Book 1)
Atherleah Carroll grew up in a negative-tax family in the gang-controlled suburbs of Brisbane at the end of the twenty-first century. From the age of six, she decided that she wanted more and with the help of her local gang-leader she learned the skills to escape the relentless pressure to mediocrity. On her sixteenth birthday, she was inadvertently implanted with a Neural Enhancement Chip instead of the free Government provided basic level personal AI. This mistake not only removed the limits placed on the AI but also broke some of the Government instigated control parameters. Leah’s life rapidly becomes a battle, both in the virtual-multiverse and in real life.
On the Stork Tower by Wáng Zhīhuàn
Along the mountains sink the last rays of sun,
Towards the sea, the Yellow River does forward go.
If you would fain command a thousand miles in view,
To a higher storey, you are expected to go
My Opinion: 364 pages likely more like 616, $3.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
The majority of the story takes place in the game. Unfortunately, that’s not a great thing this time.
I just found the the real world storyline so much more interesting than the game world. There’s a ton of great world building for the real world. There’s a great deal of attention to the details of the real world. Leah’s backstory, cultural, and economic perspective are clear. There’s depth to the larger world’s AI and VR tech development. The author clearly conveys the hundred little ways that the rich and the poor are separated. There’s also an interesting story line about the Leah using her advanced AI to raise herself out of poverty and get accepted to prestigious Universities despite several forces determined to keep her in her place.
However the game world, is just boring and there’s not nearly as much world building. The game mechanics in the story are good, if a little confusing sometimes. But honestly every time I got to the game world, it just felt flat compared to the depth of info the author gave me about the real world.
Also, the main character (MC), Leah, in game just seems to have things too easy. When she first logs into the game she gets a bunch of bonuses and small upgrades. Why? Because she’s polite. And that seems like that’s her big super power here. She’s polite to in game AI and gets spells and quests other players don’t.
The fights in the game aren't bad but they’re not really interesting either because the MC just seems to win without effort. She’s not overpowered but there’s just no effort. For example, her first day playing the game she magically has the ability to defeat several groups of monsters above her level and even complete an undiscovered dungeon single handedly and without much effort. She also magically gets very epic gear and rare magical abilities. All without ever having played fantasy games like this one before.
While there are some neat things in the game, like the author including puzzles the reader could solve in the dungeon, some PvP, and crafting. It’s wasn’t enough to keep my attention.
The real world storyline would get a 7 out of 10. The game one a 5 out of 10. So, I’ll split the difference and give the novel a
Score: 6 out of 10
(Picture 11- manual)
Beginner's Luck (Character Development Book 1)
Miles Boone is finally an adult and able to roll up his permanent character. He will join the Game that the world has become. Most of the planet is now dominated by feral AIs and nano who behave as all the monsters of man’s imagination. Every adult left alive plays, striving to keep the the AI and nano from wiping us out completely. Success in the Game is survival itself. Success in the Game is success in life. If only the game wasn’t rigged against anyone who isn’t a member of the Party.
A desperate bid to get the same chance at success in the game as Party members lands him at the mercy of his family’s enemies. Now his freedom and life rest on winning a bet. Lose and he will grind the rest of his life in the beginner’s area for the Eastman clan. He will need all the luck he can get. Too bad his enemies have broken his character and gotten rid of his luck stat. How do you play a game without any luck?
Miles is going to have to outplay and outsmart his family’s enemies, corrupt GameMasters, the Party, and of course the game itself. Life is a game. His father always told him, win or lose, it’s how you play that matters. Now he is praying his father knew what he was talking about.
My Opinion: 308 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the novel from the author. I purchased it as soon as it came out.
This is a good novel that comes close to being great. The game system is a modified version of the 3.5 D&D rule set which is still considered by many to be the best D&D game systems. What the author does that is different than other LitRPG stories is 1) Setup an interesting real world that has a legitimate reason why people would immerse themselves in a VR game for long stretches of time. This a fully fleshed out world with it’s own politics and culture. The real world is as interesting as the game world. 2) The author tries to bring a sense of realism to the RPG mechanics. Due to the terms of the bet, Miles, doesn’t get access to the AI assistance that most people use. So, no hot keys or AI assisted combat. Anything MIles wants to do, he has to learn how to do the long real way. Want to learn herbalism? Better pick up a book on botany and start memorizing. The author extends this realism into magic. There’s a really cool, if overly long, section of the story that turns yoga, chakra points, mantras, buddhism, taoism, and a more mystical traditions into magic training.
However, some of the same things that I loved about the story just went on a little too long. There are realistic politics in the story but some of the political rhetoric goes on just a bit too long and starts to get a bit repetitive. Additionally, the magical training scene is cool. But, it’s also about a full 10% of the novel. That’s like 50 pages worth of information about magical yoga poses. Everything described in that section makes sense and grounds the verbal, somatic, and focus components of spell casting in real historical mystical traditions. It just goes on too long.
Additionally, there just wasn’t as much progress towards the main quest in the story as I thought there would be. A part of it gets solved relatively early in the story and I just expected more progress to be made on that front in the rest of the story.
Overall, a really good read that pits the little guy against a powerful enemy that’s willing to cheat to stop him from proving his point. The sci-fi elements are also a nice break from just straight fantasy too. A good read that’s just shy of great.
Score: 7 out of 10.
*Author Interview with Aaron, which will be available on 10/31 when the book comes out.
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