LitRPG Podcast 094
LitRPG Podcast 094
Feb. 2nd, 2018
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 94 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 7 new LitRPG reviews for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
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Travis Bagwell, author of Awaken Online series, released the 3D images for a figurine he might be selling soon. It’s a figure of Jason the necromancer raising the undead.
His team is moving to the test printing phase and it might be ready to buy in just a couple of weeks. This thing looks gorgeous!
Personally, I think Alain Viesca rocked this.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Respawn: Lives 1-5 (Feb. 7th, 2018)
Kingdom Level Four: LitRPG (Feb. 28th, 2018)
Avatars Rising: SILOS I (Feb. 28th, 2018)
Clan Wars (Way of the Shaman book 7) (Feb. 2018)
Perma-Death Online: A LitRPG adventure: Book 2 (March 15, 2018)
Akillia's Reign (Puatera Online Book 4) (March 16th, 2018)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
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New Releases and Reviews
Threadbare Volume 2: Sew You Want to be a Hero
Threadbare has not had a very good time of it, recently. His little girl has been taken from him, and he must travel the kingdom, finding allies old and new, living and dead, to help him rescue Celia.
Fortunately, he's got a voice now, and access to all those fun skills he couldn't use before. He may only be a very small teddy bear, but he's got the persistence to plow through dungeons of rascally raccoon monsters, the wiles to turn a town full of undead on its ear, and the sanity to survive an encounter with a mediocre old one.
However, Threadbare's little girl is growing up now, and her own path is hard, and brutal. Will she even have a use for her old teddy bear, when they meet again? Will they both survive the encounter?
Warning: Contains profanity and violence, and a creepy villain who likes tentacles way too much.
My Opinion: 345 pages, $4.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
Threadbare is back and now he’s made some friends. Everything you loved about book 1 has returned but now there’s more of it. There’s loads of action, adventure, crafting, leveling, skill gains, and it’s all told from the point of view of a teddy bear that’s come to life as a golem.
Things that change in book 2. The story is set 5 years past the end of book 1. This is sort of necessary to reset the story world and give Threadbare the needed space to grow and discover. Also, Threadbare can talk now. This is a big improvement and opens up all kinds of storytelling opportunities now that he can engage with other people. There’s also a growing cast of other golems that join threadbare in his quests. However, the biggest improvement over book 1 is that the story stays with Threadbare most of the novel. In book 1, towards the end of the novel, Threadbare almost became a secondary character in his owner’s story. Yes, there are places where the POV shifts but when it’s on Threadbare, it’s definitely his story.
I had a great time reading this and I read just about the entire thing in one sitting.
Score: 8 out of 10.
The Cost of Survival: A LitRPG Apocalypse (The System Apocalypse Book 3)
The Onlivik Spores have been defeated, the dungeon tamed but at great cost. John and his friends are reeling from the losses, but the countdown to full integration to the System continues. Threatened by System-integrated races and new, more powerful monsters, John will need to get creative if he and the city are to survive.
The Cost of Survival is Book 3 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: 286 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Book 3 of the System Apocalypse ends the first arc of the series and it does it well. There’s a great deal of action, adventure, and RPG power ups. It’s been interesting to see how John and his friends have dealt with and protected Whitehall from monsters, the swarms, and now politics.
The only small note of annoyance with the novel would be the sudden transitions between scenes. One paragraph the MC would be in town, the next paragraph he’d be hundreds of miles away and there was no transition or chapter break showing the two paragraphs weren’t connected.
Overall, I had a good time reading it and can’t wait to see what adventures await our heroes in the future.
Score: 7 out of 10.
The Greystone Chronicles Book Three: Darkness Fallen
Alexander and the Greystone Guild are expanding their territory. Building up the keep, conquering new lands, and recruiting citizens of all races. And when they've prepared enough, they plan on taking the fight to the minions of the Dark One in their own strongholds. .
New friends are discovered, and alliances are made. Tragedy befalls one of the group, and the Dark One's identity is finally discovered. A new, yet at the same time ancient enemy makes itself known, threatening to change the face of Io forever.
My Opinion: 413 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
I had to laugh when I read the Forward. It’s a nice summary of the last book but it read like it should have been titled, “Last Time on the Greystone Chronicles.”
Book 3 in the series picks right up where book 2 left us dangling. Facing an unexpected army of demons and a Lich. The situation is quickly resolved and then the story gets back to town building, recruiting, and social stuff.
That sets the tone for the novel in general. Yes there’s action and adventure but overall, the story feels more daily adventure and slice of life. There are fewer epic battles and much more city building, crafting, and town management stuff. There’s still some development of the story and advancement with the real world attacks on the game company but they felt forced at times. Especially the big reveal with the Dark One, there wasn’t much foreshadowing of it through book 1 and 2 so the reveal felt a bit sudden.
Though the cast of characters is becoming super long, we still spend time with fan favorites like Fibble the goblin. Those moments when it’s just the core group are definitely my favorite. Those relationships are the big character development draw for me.
I still have the same old complaint about how death is treated in the series. The main character and his group get super upset and angry any time one of them dies, even though they know they’re friend is going to resurrect soon. It’s explained that because these immersion players feel like they're there, their emotional responses are just as knee jerk. So to them it’s like they saw their friend die for real. Only this doesn’t make sense to me. There’s no permadeath for players, so this always seemed like a weird reaction. Also, if it’s the case that death feels real, then why doesn’t the main character or his group have any problem sneaking into an enemy's base and slitting the throats of other players while they sleep? It’s just an inconsistency in a view of death that keeps bothering me. Though I will acknowledge that the author’s been consistent with the view through the series.
Overall, this is still an enjoyable story. I liked where the kingdom building in the story goes but I’m also ok with a slice of life story.
Score: 7 out of 10
Perma-Death Online: A LitRPG adventure: Book 1
Rohan is an NPC in the real world, stuck at a job he despises. His only escape is the fantasy paperbacks that share his bed at night.
Once a gaming addict, Rohan renounced gaming ten years back, thanks to a painful incident in his life. When Prithvi Online—a VRMMORPG unlike any other—is unleashed, Rohan does his best to avoid it. That he cannot “afford” the game helps as well.
But when a friend brings an opportunity to play Prithvi Online for free, Rohan can resist no more. He lets his resolution slip.
However, something fishy is going on in the world of Prithvi. And strange notifications asking to maintain a distance from hooded people only deepen the mystery.
Soon Rohan’s life in the game is turned upside down as he uncovers a plot that can have deadly consequences to the world of Prithvi… and the real world as well.
My Opinion: 151 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The writing in the novel reflects non-native American speaking patterns. Which makes sense considering the story takes place in India but the shift might bother some people. Here are a couple examples.
“My eyes had been losing it…”
“Don’t you ever want to leave this blasted job…”
“the man also told me…”
I got used to it and honestly I think it adds a nice flare of cultural perspective to the novel. The story gets credit for trying to use Indian mythology in the game part of the story but it’s unfortunately a minor aspect of the game mythology. There’s very little world building for the game and the descriptions of the game world felt flat. I felt more connected to the real world story which is set in India. That part was really quite interesting as it gave me a glimpse into a culture I’m not used to reading about. However, the real world sections only make up about 15% of the story.
The main character (MC) is interesting up until the time he enters the game. Then it gets less interesting. The game mechanics aren’t anything special and overall are rather minimal. The game story is mostly slice of life with the MC wondering from fight to fight against the Rak, a warrior demon race. Who also appear to be the only kind of monster to kill the entire novel. So understandably, combat gets repetitive fairly quickly. Even the introduction of permadeath isn’t that interesting because it doesn't affect the MC since it only applies to digitized citizens.
The end is a cliffhanger that has no setup or foreshadowing. And frankly doesn't make any sense.
Still, it’s not bad. It just that the novel never grabbed me and caught my attention so it never became particularly interesting for me.
5 out of 10
Return to Dungeon: A Monster MC LitRPG (Kobold's Quest Book 1)
This downtrodden kobold finds himself with one hell of a quest ...
Kek has spent his life being treated like a dog, but he's only dog-like in appearance. You see, he's a kobold who originally came from a dungeon. And he's spent most of his life enslaved to a gang of exiled mercenaries hiding out in a deadly jungle. When Kek gains the power to see the hidden mechanics of reality and learns to "game" them to expand his skills and find hidden meanings, he is soon entrusted with a noble quest. He must return to the dungeon where he came from and rescue his people from servitude to the dungeon lord!
Faced with untold dangers, Kek is going to need allies—such as a sweet muck fairy with a killer streak, a deadly-beautiful siren who fights best au natural, and a sensual cat woman with lightning quick moves. They are sure going to keep this lone kobold on his toes.
Throughout this quest, Kek will learn the hard way that one of the greatest opponents a hero confronts is his own self-doubt.
My Opinion: 173 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
From the cover art and from the novel description, you’d think that this novel is going to be interesting story that is told from the point of view of a kobold. You might think you’re going to see the world through the eyes of what most stories consider a monster and how the world is different for those monsters.
Unfortunately, the novel is huge disappointment on many levels.
First, I’ll concede that this story is technically LitRPG. There’s a sublayer of game mechanics that the main character (MC), Kek, eventually gets access to. He’s a rare individual that does see things like stats, character sheets, HP bars, and more. He gets skills and gains levels according to those rules. So, totally LitRPG.
However, the game mechanics in the story are pretty minimal. Yes, they are there, even though there’s no explanation of why they exists in this fantasy world if no one else can usually see them. But with the exception of one character sheet, you don’t ever see any numbers or get any real detail about how the mechanics work. There are just occasional vague references to someones Str being low or a monster’s Dex being high. But no actual points of reference for what that means. It feels like the author just didn’t want to get into the nitty gritty of the game stuff but knew it needed to be there for the story to be LitRPG.
There’s also a serious lack of world building in the story. Over the course of the entire novel, the author tells the reader surprising little about the world. The reader never really knows if this is some VR world and everyone is an NPC, or if it’s a fantasy world with hidden RPG mechanics. That lack of understanding makes much of the novel confusing because characters seem to know about or speak about many modern conventions and it feels out of place. For example, there’s a druid early in the story that discovers a potion that lets him see the ‘Game Mechanics’ of the world and gain ‘Gamer Powers’. He starts spouting off about all the game mechanics he can now see. Except it doesn’t make sense that he’d know what all that information means automatically. How would he know what a gamer is or what the Cha stat does if it’s the first time he’d ever seen that? This kind of foreknowledge extends to several characters that refer to modern conventions like ‘redemption through philanthropy’ or jokes that depend on pop culture references. Things these fantasy characters wouldn’t know about.
However, the biggest disappointment of the novel is likely the key promise that this is going to be a story told from a monster’s perspective. The main character is technically a kobold. But the only reason you’d know it is because other characters go out of their way to call him that. There’s nothing inherent in the writing or the MC’s thinking, culture, or dialogue that makes the reader feel like they’re seeing the world through a monster’s perspective. Instead, it feels like the MC is another regular human.
There are a lot of other stories out there that do the Monster Class story better: Life Reset, A Goblin's Tale, Everybody Loves Large Chests, Re: Monster or anything online with the Re: tag which usually indicates reincarnation as a monster.
This one was a disappointment. The great cover art drew me in and raised my expectations but just didn’t fulfill them.
Score: 4 out of 10
A Fist Full of Sand: A Book of Cerulea (Sam's Song 1)
I really, really hate falling. Falling is stupid. Gravity is stupid. Orks are stupid.
Maybe if the Voice hadn’t dumped Sam’s Strength she wouldn’t have ended up chained to a post, waiting to be two orks’ lunch. Maybe if the Voice hadn’t dumped Charisma, she could have talked her way out. Maybe if the Voice had maxed Dexterity completely, she could have escaped without hurting herself. At least, as a halfling, Sam was able to hide easily. Sam wasn’t sure how big people managed in life. They couldn’t fit in to half the places they wanted.
Not that Sam was where she wanted. The Desert where she’d grown up no longer welcomed her, so she made her way to the city-state of Triport. She’d never seen a city before. Once there, she uncovers a danger lurking in the ancient ruins beneath the city, and it will take all of Sam’s Wisdom, Skills, and pint-sized audacity to save Triport from utter ruin.
My Opinion: 358 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Most of the game mechanics in the story appear in the first 10% of the novel. There’s definitions of stats, skills, and the main character (MC) even has a voice in her head explaining everything. Yet, from the very first pages of the story you can tell that the author is more than willing to fudge the numbers of the game world. There are several fights with a couple of orks that have captured the MC but despite being described as creatures that can ‘one-shot’ the MC, she only takes 1 damage from each punch and stab. At one point, the MC is stabbed, then punched and takes a total of 1 damage. The MC wins the fight by one-shot stabbing each ork, despite being shown to have 6 Strength (very below average according to the story) and surviving with a single hit point left. Which explains why a stab and punch earlier only did one damage, otherwise the MC would have died.
This number fudging sets the tone for how the game mechanics in the story are treated. After the 10% mark, most of the notifications and other established mechanics sort of disappear or at least become much rarer. When they are shown, or the voice in the MC head talks about them, there is often no acknowledgment by the MC or the narrative. It almost feels like this is mostly a fantasy story that had these gaming elements inserted in later.
There are hints in the story that this world, which is well described, may be a MMO or some game, but nothing is ever concretely said one way or the other. So, expectations for what’s possible are never established either. After all, I expect different thing to be possible from a VRMMO world than I do from a fantasy world with RPG mechanics governing it. Different levels of realism and modern knowledge.
As far as the story goes, it’s mostly slice of life, with the MC going on adventures with a gamer’s voice in her head. But because the game stuff seemed so inserted and often unacknowledged by the MC, it also ended up feeling unimportant and I could not get past that. If you don’t care about numbers making sense or the other issues that bothered me, you may have a much better time with the story.
Score: 5 out of 10
Inside Out (Bloodfeast Book 1)
It's just another day in Boston for Mitch, Luke, Alyssa, and Stephanie. They're four college-aged friends who like to play the popular online game Bloodfeast MMO together. But when they log in to the game, none of their characters are where they'd last saved them and Mitch's character has two new items - a mysterious orb and a scroll.
Before the friends can figure out why, they're blinded by a bright flash of light. When their vision finally returns, they're shocked to find that they're now inside the game in their characters' bodies. But the friends are even more surprised when they learn that their characters somehow left the game and are now in their bodies back in Boston.
Trapped in the fantastic world of Bloodfeast, the friends embark on a quest to try and get back to their reality. In this world filled with magic, shifters, and monsters, they face one challenge after the next as they look for a way home.
Meanwhile, the Bloodfeast characters try to find their way around modern-day Boston. With no magic or shifting abilities, the characters have a hard time adjusting to life in 21st century America.
WARNING: This book contains extreme violence, sexual situations, bad language, worse language, vandalism, drinking, blood and gore, gore and blood, bloody gore (but don't worry - no gory blood), six of the seven deadly sins, animals that shouldn't exist, mildly disturbing behavior, seriously disturbing behavior, destruction of property, multiple decapitations, and a crazy lady who just might have all the answers.
My Opinion: 187 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
A bit over priced at $3.99, this a decent kindle unlimited read. It takes the Freaky Friday concept and applies it to an MMO. Four friends find themselves trapped the bodies of their game characters while those suddenly self aware characters are in their bodies in Boston.
There are two stories here. One, the four friends search for a way to get back into their real bodies while killing monsters, talking to wacky NPCs, bantering. This part of the story is decent. The action isn’t great but if the humor lands with you, you should enjoy it. There’s a lot of insider gamer jokes, puns, and just silly humor. There is also a lot of filler here as the group travels around. I feel like if the story in game could have been a bit tighter and focused and I would have enjoyed it more. Instead it wanders in places.
The second story is about how the game characters, now in the modern world, deal with a suddenly more advanced society and all the tech stuff involved with that. There’s plenty of Stranger in a Strange land stuff. This part of the story is relatively small part of the novel. Unfortunately, the four brave adventurer’s stay in the apartments they find themselves in instead of exploring the larger world. I feel like there’s a missed opportunity to explore different social structures and lots of missed joke opportunities.
Overall, this was decently entertaining. Not everyone is going to like the jokes and several of the characters are complete jerks but it worked well enough for me.
Score: 7 out of 10
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