LitRPG Podcast 107
LitRPG Podcast 107
April 13th, 2018
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 107 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I have 7 reviews just for you.
Big shout out to Christopher Thomas, Brad Thomas, and David Petrie.
Christopher Thomas made a really generous donation via Paypal to the podcast. Brad Thomas, and David Petrie became a supporters on Patreon. Thank you all for your support.
If you want to support us too, you can find out all the ways to do so at www.litrpgpodcast.com/support
New Releases and Reviews:
Dungeon Configuration (36:47)
Legacy (Reality Gate Book 1) (43:31)
(Play Music 2)
To celebrate and promote the 2nd book in the series, Apollos Thorne has started a countdown deal on Book 1 of Codename Freedom. It will be $0.99 from 4/13 to 4/15/18 midnight. It will still have a reduced price of $1.99 until 4/20/18. https://amzn.to/2HyciuI
Recently on two Podcasts
Hey everyone. I was recently on two other podcast.
Serious Drinks, Ep 1- Land of the Undying (Dave W.) with Charles Dean, Dave Wilmarth, and Annie Ellicott. Annie did a live reading of a scene from Dave’s latest book The Undying Land. Charles had a few pointed questions about the novel, including one about the scientific accuracy of strangelets.
I was also recently on the Sci-Fi Shenanigans Podcast as a guest. The guys there has some questions about what LitRPG was, why people like it, and if I had any recommendations. I did have a couple. It was a fun conversation. http://www.sfshenanigans.com/2018/04/02/sfs-episode-23-ra-mejia/
Apollos Thorne, author of the Codename Freedom series, and Underworld series, has finally put up a Patreon page. Some rewards for supporting him there include: copies of his ebooks, early chapter releases, character naming input, private chats, signed paperback copies, and more. Go support him there if you’re a fan of his work.
RJ Castiglione, author of Fjorgyn series also has as Patreon. He only has three reward brackets, the highest of which gets you early access to the latest novel as it’s being written and some exclusive short stories. I really think he needs more rewards, but he’s a good author that’s written interesting LitRPG. Go support him there if you like his work.
Recently, Amazon has dropped a lot of Kindle Unlimited page reads from many authors and even suspended some accounts without any real evidence of wrongdoing on the Author's Part. This has even impacted our LitRPG genre. Mars Dorian, author of Crystal Crusade series wrote a post describing his experience that he's letting me share.
Posted by Mars Dorian.
A bunch of GameLit writers like Jeff Sproul, Johnson Kee, Leto Spirit Blackman, Eden Redd and I (Mars Dorian) have received a warning from Amazon for unusual burrowing and reading activity. Mine was in German (I live in Berlin), but the message is always the same:
“We are reaching out to you because we have detected reading or borrowing activity for your books originating from accounts attempting to manipulate Kindle services. These accounts might be related to a third-party marketing service you may have used. Please note that you will not receive royalties associated with illegitimate reading or borrowing activity.”
Now I've heard that Amazon is cracking down book stuffers (cheaters who artificially increase page size so they get more page reads and thus more money from KU). But I, and assume the writers I mentioned as well, have mostly used Facebooks ads and/or AMS to promote their books.
---Original post ends---
It seems to be a case of a broad response by Amazon to combat page stuffers and false or paid for page reading services that inflate page read counts. These services read a broad range of other novels in an attempt to hide their activities and anything they’ve read seems to be getting this notice and potential suspension. This includes innocent people in our community. Author's are losing hundreds (up to $800 in one case) in KU revenue.
Author Matt Dinniman, author of Dominion of Blades series, had his account suspended and only recently reinstated. Amazon seems to have also deleted the pre-orders for the novel he has coming out on the 13th for some reason. So, please check make sure your pre-order wasn’t canceled or just buy it on the 13th when it goes live.
Remember to support your favorite authors when you can. They don’t write without your support and love.
If you want to let Amazon know that you don’t like what they’re doing as a customer or just need to contact them here are a few contact points.
Send Amazon Feedback:
Customer Service 1 (888) 280-4331
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Our review for each book: http://litrpgpodcast.com/search?q=puatera%20online&f_collectionId=57851ebf893fc03407e4fb6f
The Hobgoblin Riot: Dominion of Blades Book 2: A LitRPG Adventure (April 13th, 2018)
The Mists of Erantia (Realm of Arkon Book 7) (April 17th, 2018)
The Iron Veil: A LitRPG OmniWorld Adventure (April 17th, 2018)
Login Accepted (Incipere Online - Book 1) (April 20th, 2018)
Countdown (Reality Benders Book #1) LitRPG Series (April 23, 2018)
Word and Steel (epic LitRPG Adventure - Book 9) (Fayroll) (April 24th, 2018)
You're in Game! Book #2 (Моre LitRPG stories set in your favorite worlds) (April 30th, 2018)
Questmaster: A LitRPG Novella (May 8th, 2018)
Blind Gambit: A GameLit LitRPG novel (May 10, 2018)
World of Karik 2: (The First Crusade) The LitRPG series (May 17th, 2018)
God Mode (AlterGame Book #3) LitRPG Series (May 24th, 2018)
Kingdom Level Five: LitRPG (May 27th, 2018)
The Dead Rogue (An NPC's Path Book #1) LitRPG Series (May 30th, 2018)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Codename: Freedom - The Goblin Siege
After surviving the onslaught of week one, Lucius has something to prove. He seeks to train under a living legend in hopes of being ready for the goblin siege.
He isn’t the only one looking to train. As his competition grows in strength, he must push himself harder than ever before.
Then, the unexpected happens. Players start to unlock abilities…
There is only one thing to do when facing impossible odds. Train harder!
My Opinion: 679 pages, $5.98, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received a copy of the novel to review, I purchased it when it became available.
I’ll admit right off the bat, I’m a fan of this series and the author. I remember reading it on the Royal Road years ago and it’s still among my favorite. The serial online version has been separated into parts, edited, polished, and added content has been created so that each novel has more of a story arc.
In this 2nd entry into the series, Lucius, the main character (MC) has just survived a goblin raid on his starter town and now he’s looking to do a bit of training. Thankfully the game provides access to the best weapons and combat trainers the world has to offer.
This training, combined with smaller combat scenes, character and story development make up 70% of the novel. If you’re a fan of those training scenes in DBZ or Rocky then you’ll love this part of the story. It’s among the best training stuff that I’ve read. In addition to general endurance and weight training, there’s philosophy, live combat work, and specialized weapon training. I especially like the spear and shield training. Heck I liked it so much, it became an inspiration for the weapons I had the main character in my own story use.
There’s a detailed game system in place that measures growth in not just the standard strength, dexterity, intelligence but rather it uses detailed ranking system for things like speed, quickness, fast twitch muscles, anaerobic, and more. Stuff you’d be more likely to come across in sports medicine or with a professional trainer. It’s an interesting change on measuring growth.
The last 30% of the story is this big epic fight against a goblin town. While there’s a lot more combat here, I liked it slightly less than the training stuff. I think that’s because the scope of the majority of the battles here are just too big for me to imagine well. It’s a challenge to picture tens of thousands of people in a battle and not have everything blur together a bit.
Overall, a really good novel. The focus on training worked well for me. But I love those training scenes in the Rocky movies. If you don’t like that kind of stuff, you may find all the training less interesting.
Score: 7 out of 10
Killing Time: The Realms Book 1.5 - (A Humorously Epic LitRPG Adventure)
What the Hell Happened to Lex?
All Lex wanted was to help his good buddy Gryph find his sister and maybe save the world along the way. But everything goes wrong from the start when Lex gets separated from Gryph during their transfer into the Realms. Lost, alone, and forced to live the same day over and over, Lex must defeat the agent of a despotic god, uncover hidden truths about himself, and find his way back to his friend. If he fails the Realms face destruction.
Killing Time is a short novel that bridges the gap between The Realms Book One: Barrow King and the soon to be released The Realms Book Two: The Lost City. It is a tale of adventure, mayhem and loyalty, filled with crazy action, way too much stupidity and tons of laughs.
My Opinion: 290 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a LitRPG groundhog day side story. It focuses on Lex, the sidekick of the 1st book in the series and describes what’s happened to him before meeting back up with the main character of that story in book 2. Lex basically has a groundhog day experience where he power levels a bunch of skills and reconciles his programming as an NPC with his free will. It’s interesting to read about the clever ways Lex tries to exploit his the time loop to level and gain a bunch of skills and abilities.
It might get repetitive for some readers but I enjoyed reading it.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Desire: A LitRPG Adventure (Volume 1)
A mysterious entity decides to bestow certain individuals with a powerful tattoo. With it, anything becomes possible. The world is changing... and it has yet to be determined if it is for better or worse.
Two friends who grew up together, Ace and Vincent, decide to use the tattoo to do what they always dreamed of.
My Opinion: 212 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This novel is a real world LitRPG slice of life story. It has two main characters (MC), Ace and Vincent, exploring and fighting a bunch of enemies using a newly discovered RPG system.
Some people are going to find the writing really dry. It reads like you’re listening to two people argue and brainstorm about what it would be like if they had RPG powers in real life. What kind of system would it be? What powers would they take? How would that impact the larger social world? What would bad people do with it and what would be good people’s response?
The game mechanics are familiar. Quests are called tasks or challenges and can when completed provide points that can be used to purchase numerous rewards. Tasks start out as things like: do 1000 pushups in an hour, or drive for 1000 miles. But as the two unlock advanced features become tasks like: Kill 100 skeletons. Some rewards include: improved stats, new magic powers, buying equipment. Better rewards costs more points. But many of the unused rewards feel like they were just made up on the spot since they also include things like learning how to travel at the speed of light for 1 trillion points.
While the story was an interesting speculative exploration in the beginning, after the 50% mark the characters got too overpowered and the story shifts to them just fighting, training, upgrading their powers and repeating that cycle. Which for me, is just a bit boring. There’s an added element of community building but it’s kind of a reason to pump up the points they use to upgrade powers and wasn’t that interesting for me.
Overall, I liked the first half of the story. But I’ve been known to chat with friends over what it would be like to have RPG mechanics in real life. Many people will find the writing hard to get through. The last half just wasn’t as interesting for me.
Score: 6 out of 10
Broken and wounded in one of the most dangerous places on Earth, David accidentally makes a deal with something that he has only read about in literature.
After a six month long coma he wakes up to find himself crippled and out of work. Driven by forces that are almost outside his control he goes on a quest to learn and understand one of the last things any sane person would wish to know about.
Meanwhile, trapped in a boring, dirty, and thankless job another poor soul watches through a computer screen. Day and night he works tirelessly to stop, trap, and destroy any who would attempt to both steal his home and ruin his life.
My Opinion: 240 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Don’t let the bad cover art or the novel description fool you. This is a surprisingly good story. This is a LitRPG dungeon master/core story that tries really hard to break the few tropes the sub-sub-genre has. For example, early in the story the main character (MC) has the chance, as a dungeon, to bond with an adorable looking fairy to get some cool bonuses. The dungeon’s response? It questions why anyone would trust a random magical creature they just met and why a fairy would be hanging around a dungeon anyway. Then it murders that thing and reveals it to be an evil monster fairy. Bam, trope blown.
That’s the least of the interesting things the author does with dungeon master/core genre. The author also pokes fun at the genre and LitRPG while at the same time firmly establishing some really neat RPG mechanics for the dungeon to use, after the 10% mark. I especially love the dungeon’s ability to convert building materials into coffee which potentially has the power to create an infinite coffee supply. Also, loved the plaque above the coffee machine, “Death for coffee!!” There’s also a rather interesting thread with real world that I don’t want to spoil but a good portion of the story takes place outside of the dungeon as the human core copy of the MC is separated from the dungeon copy of the MC.
I almost gave the story an 8 just for the humor and the attempt at being innovative. However, there are a few graphically violent and gory horror movie-ish scenes that I didn’t care for. It’s not that the scenes are badly written, I’m just not into horror or slasher movies. Also, for a dungeon master/core story, there really isn’t a lot of dungeon building, relative to the size of the novel.
Overall, even though there are a few places I had to push through, I enjoyed reading the story. I really appreciated the cheeky humor and the irreverent attitude towards established LitRPG and dungeon master/core tropes. You could tell the attitude was coming from someone that likes the genres but sees places to improve so they kind of wrote that story they wanted to read.
Score: 7 out of 10
Legacy (Reality Gate Book 1)
Aiden Cobb's eighteenth birthday started with him going under the wall, to where the Digits lived. His quest was to find something called a Cyron 3000. His best friend Joel told him he could get insulin for it, for his grandma. Medicine was hard to come by in the forgotten zones, and there was no way he was going to return without it.
My Opinion: 273 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
There are a lot of confusing concepts running through this story. It also has a really slow confusing start. It’d say skip to the 6% mark if you want to try this story out, everything before that is very unclear and confusing.
The beginning is setup as a dystopian earth where people are divided into two groups, one with all the resources and tech (Digits), and the other who live in the wild and do what they can to survive. Aiden, the main character (MC), breaks into the Digits area and steals tech he plans to sell to get medicine for his grandma. The first time the MC logs into the ‘game’ he just does some light exploring and fights. It’s confusing.
About the 20% mark, the story shifts to one about an evil corporation that is trying to take over the galaxy. The MC discovers the tech he stole, conveniently, allows him to log into a remote exploration system that’s setup like a game. This system sends advanced 3D printers out beyond our solar system then transmits the minds of players to control a robot like machine that is to be used to catalog new resources, alien tech, new biology, and anything else the corporation can use to further it’s agenda.
Then about the 40% mark, the story shifts again, to a science fiction fantasy thing, where the MC, in this robotic avatar, is trying to help this medieval society free themselves from the rule of the evil king and his sorcerers. The sorcerer's just happen to be other players using their own robotic avatars.
The game mechanics in the story are also another thing that’s a bit confusing. I don’t mind the mechanics, but it feels out of place for this sci-fi fantasy story setup. The RPG mechanics in the story: These 3D printer robots are sent to an unexplored world. They start out as these level 1 robots that are only 4 inches tall. As they scan new plant and animal life, accomplish research, defeat aggressive species, or learn about alien tech or societies, they get XP. This XP is converted to credits that can be used to print out anything back on earth or where the 3D printer robot is. As the machine gets more XP it’s abilities expand. It levels up and can grow to the size of a normal human. It can get even larger and can make more complex things later. Additionally, as the avatar explores it unlocks special abilities like Environmental Skill, Communication skill, or Alien Customs skill which can be improved (level 1 to level 2, etc) and confer bonuses.
As a concept, I’d say this story is neat. Using 3D printers to build remote controlled robots that people can use like full immersion game. Neat. That these robots can be used to explore the universe? Also neat. But when the story shifts to a fantasy concept it loses me. I mean, why can’t this super powerful and advanced corporation just take over this whole planet if it has the tech to make anything it wants with these 3D printer robots? Why would they need to have their players use swords or transform into dragons?
I liked a small section of this story a lot. From 19-33% it’s a really neat sci-fi litRPG where game mechanics are used to incentivise exploration. But the rest of the novel either doesn’t make sense according the tech given or is just confusing in other ways. It’s decent action adventure, but I think the story missed a great opportunity to be really good.
Score: 6 out of 10
Homebrew: a LitRPG novel (Metagamer Chronicles Book 1)
If Gary had known he'd get trapped in an RPG with his real-life stats, he’d have tried harder in gym class.
Gary Burns just wanted to create the greatest RPG campaign of his gaming career. But a freak magical accident sucks him into the very world he created—as himself.
Surrounded by heroes who look and sound like his friends, Gary is forced to play out the story he wrote. Worthless in a fight, Gary must prove himself valuable even if it means feeding the team insider knowledge.
Because he needs keep his friends close—and himself alive—until he can solve the puzzle he never designed: how to get everyone back home.
My Opinion: 349 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Trapped in a tabletop game, slice of life story. I think it’s important to note the slice of life part because I went into reading this expecting some 4 act structure involving this trapped gaming group working together to try and escape the game. It’s not.
Instead, the group is transported to the custom made/home brew tabletop game world. Everyone arrives as their characters and doesn't remember being anything else. That is except the Gary, our main character (MC) and the DM that designed the game world. He’s transported into the game wearing his normal jeans, shirt, and sneakers. He’s the only one that sees the dice rolls, gets game notifications, and sees his character sheet.
The first half of the story just follows this group as they adventure and begin the quest lines the MC had planned out. The MC feels like he’s just tagging along as a non-combat bard. It’s not really until the 50% mark that the MC starts to feel like he believes he’s living in the world and not just an observer who gives out hints to his team about questlines. At that point the MC starts to use his knowledge about the game world he created for his own benefit. All that knowledge becomes a kind of superpower that he tries to exploit to survive. It’s a much more interesting story to read about a guy trying to game his own rules than a guy almost just watching others play.
Game mechanic-wise, it’s an interesting mix. The gaming elements you see are only through the MCs eyes and he only sees his info or stuff that applies to him. Standard stats, XP, levels, etc. No health or mana info. A few custom advancement mechanics and custom class stuff. But I’ll say that I like seeing the dice rolls. Everything from bluff checks to damage rolls are shown. Including the formulas for bonuses. For example an actual roll for convincing a guard not to arrest the MC. D20: 18+ (Persuade +4) = 22. There are also some very bad rolls that actually seem to impact the flow of the story to some degree. Though I don't doubt there’s a little fudging if the author needs the story to go a certain way or just not murder the MC. Still, the dice rolls feel like they matter.
Overall, the series has potential to be really good and interesting. I liked it once I adjusted my expectations and the MC started to be interesting and not just a passive observer who played the lute. Also, there’s a good metal ending.
Score: 7 out of 10
Murder Death Chill: A Slaughter Royale LitRPG
".... I ran a hand over my body, quickly and while on the move. Yes, I was me. Lean and lithe, female but hard. They don't get it wrong too often lately. Back in the day I once manifested in-game as a sumo wrestler, and sumo dude got stuck playing a plucky, 19-year-old gymnast who didn't look like much on the outside but in her skill-set packed over a hundred ways to kill an adversary with her bare hands. Neither of us lasted long that time, as I didn’t really know much about executing ground-and-pound moves, and he was out of his depth doing somersaults and eagle claw eye slashes. Got nowhere near the prize money that time..."
Slaughter Royale. 100 enter. Ten survive.
"The goober to my left, though – coming right at me. Dude, I wanted to say, it's not like this is a bounty tourney. Some tournaments give a bounty on each kill, which comes out of the prize money at the end, which wasn't really my thing. I killed when I had to, but didn't seek it out, preferring to survive into the prize money as easy-peasy as possible.
Not that I had anything against killing. It's more that I had nothing against not killing, too..."
Slaughter Royale. The new litRPG series by W.A. Clunie.
My Opinion: 25 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Quick intro into this online competitive combat game, Slaughter Royale Online. Hundreds of players enter, each with their own builds, but only the top 10 win the prize money. Everyone spawns in a random location with nothing except a grey unitard. Players can craft gear and weapons, or loot/trade the stuff others make, if they want equipment. The female main character (MC), Angel O’Death, is witty, snarky, and an aggressive fighter. In combat she combines an elegant leaping style of fighting with ground and pound brutality.
The story is about this tournament. She fights against a wide variety of opponents with different playstyles. There’s a little crafting but it’s mostly action oriented. Good combat scenes.
Score: 7 out of 10
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