LitRPG Podcast 079
LitRPG Podcast 079
November 10th, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 79 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 8 new LitRPG reviews for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
Space Knight Book 2 (08:50)
War Aeternus: The Beginning (13:38)
The Beatdown: A Ki Khanga Novel (21:32)
The Nightmare Game: Slayers (30:08)
Underworld - Level up or Die! (35:20)
(Play Music 2)
The FINAL Emerilia book will be available on December 5! However, if you can’t wait that long, you can get the first 14 chapters of that last book on the author’s Patreon page.
Blaise Corvin, author of the Delvers LLC series and Secrets of the Old Ones has decided to share his own writing advice. He’ll be writing weekly articles on his Patreon page, available to subscribers, detailing “hard-won knowledge about the current state of indie promotion venues, how to market, and what some of my background opinions/dirt are on certain websites that supposedly cater to indies.”
One of our own, Aleron Kong, has a book that has been nominated for Goodreads Best Fantasy of 2017. He going up against 19 other amazing novels including written by Patricia Briggs, Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, and Tad Williams . But he’s the only LitRPG story there. These awards are entirely based on reader votes. So, if you want to go vote for him there’s a link in the show notes or go find the Best Fantasy category on for the Goodreads Choice Awards.
-Also an Omnibus of vol. 1-4
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Our review of the ebook: http://www.geekbytespodcast.com/litrpg-database/2017/10/19/delvers-llc-adventure-capital
Our review of the ebook: http://www.geekbytespodcast.com/litrpg-database/2017/8/24/earths-gambit-the-gam3-book-2
Upcoming LitRPG: 6 new listings
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)
Under the Black Flag (Epic LitRPG Adventure - Book 6) (Fayroll) (Nov. 20th, 2017)
Eden's Gate: The Sands: A LitRPG Adventure (Nov. 22nd, 2017)
Wounded Legion: a mech LitRPG novel (Armored Souls Book 2) (Nov. 23rd, 2017)
Know Thy Enemy (Nov. 25th, 2017)
The Gods of the Second World (LitRPG The Weirdest Noob Book 3) (Nov. 29th, 2017)
Infinite Assassins: Daggerland Online Novel 2 A LITRPG Adventure (Nov. 30th, 2017)
**Slime Dungeon Chronicles Book 4 (Dec. 1st, 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)
A Trap for the Potentate (The Dark Herbalist Book #3) LitRPG series (Jan. 17th, 2018)
The Reapers (The Neuro Book #3) LitRPG Series (Jan. 24th, 2018)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Space Knight Book 2
To protect the crew against betrayal, Captain Cross sends the Stalwart on a training mission to Ecoma, a gas giant populated by evolved humans with dangerous empathic abilities.
The journey was supposed to be easy: Acquire training from the evolved humans, negotiate the use of magical devices that can protect the knights from mind control, and get a bit of R&R.
Of course, nothing is ever easy with the Stalwart, and Squire Nicholas Lyons soon finds himself battling for his life against sensual mind readers, hordes of bloodthirsty Grendels, enemy kingdom warriors, and a berserker knight named Olav.
My Opinion: 579 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The Amazon description doesn’t mention the novel as being LitRPG but the series and book 2 have been advertised in several LitRPG groups. So, it’s getting a review.
The short and quick. This is not a LitRPG novel. I know, I’m sad too. That doesn’t mean that it’s not an action filled, alien fighting, space battle, fun-fest. It just means that if you’re looking for any type of RPG progression or game mechanics, this one isn’t for you.
Book 1 in the series had some interesting mechanics. Turn in enemy weapons for Kingdom Points (KP). Use the KP to upgrade your gear, add magical effects, buy new stuff, or use it to increase your rank. The MC did all that alot including going from initiate to squire rank. Some very clear progression.
Book 2 only has a few instances where the main character buy/sells items for KP. The extent of RPG mechanics in this one are the item descriptions. Which take up a whole 3% of the story. Everything else is focused on the futuristic action space stuff.
Still a good action filled novel and personally I like it but that doesn’t make it LitRPG.
As space SciFi action, 7 out of 10.
As LitRPG, it gets a Score: 4 out of 10
War Aeternus: The Beginning
Lee is a quiet and unassuming office worker who leads a life of solitude, comfort, and routine. Day in and day out, he shuts off his brain, keeps his head down, and goes about doing his job and minding his own business. That is, he does until a drunken god shows up randomly one day and whisks him off into another world, demanding that Lee serve as his pawn in a game between the gods. Now, trapped in a completely different world full of danger, magic, and creatures he's never imagined outside of fairy tales and video games, Lee has to figure out how to stay alive long enough to make it back home.
My Opinion: 463 page, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I did some minor beta reading for the author. He gives a thanks in the back of the novel. Additionally, the author names several characters in the story after LitRPG authors, one is me. See if you can figure out who they all are. I’m up to 4 so far.
From the author of The Bathrobe Knight series and The Merchant of Tiqpa series. Charles Dean combines good story telling with an original RPG world full where the gods compete for fame and glory by meddling in the lives of us mortals. The latest pawn in this game is Lee. A normal boring human from our world that’s plucked out of his mediocre life and sent to a world ruled by RPG mechanics to get faith points for the god of alcohol and crafting. While completing some quests in this world, Lee stumbles upon a sinister plot that threatens the people he’s come to care about in this RPG world. Will he risk his life and try to help these new friends or will he try escape back to his boring, safe life on earth?
This is a good story full of action and adventure. Yet it’s more than just an action romp. There are interesting themes in the novel about what it means to be divine and have faith. There are also questions about what people would do if they were given real power. Late in the story there are even subtle threads about the cost of violence on a man’s outlook on life. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of good old fashion fighting, quest solving, XP gaining, skill progression, and humor too.
Game mechanic wise there’s a good deal of info given in the story and from reading the story I think I could roll a character in this world. Though I’d like to think I could be a ‘god of coffee and bacon’ I’d probably end up being something boring like the minor spirit of book reviews.
Overall, a fun interesting read.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Dungeon Lord (The Wraith's Haunt - A litRPG series Book 1)
Dark forces have extended Edward Wright an offer of incredible power at a terrible cost...
...and Edward has chosen to make them regret it.
When Edward is swept into the world of Ivalis as a Dungeon Lord, the Dark's most powerful servant, he has no servitude in mind. He'll oppose the evil plans of the Dark god Murmur, whatever it takes.
Through only his wits and his guts to help him survive a weakened arrival, Edward must rise to power if he is to earn the right to live another day.
But in the battle between Dark and Light, what can Edward choose if both sides are cruel, uncaring monsters?
Cold gods laugh in the distant world of Ivalis. Heroes chase after power and experience, while Kings send their armies to their deaths in the name of the Dark and the Light.
But no one expects the rise of the Dungeon Lord... And in the world of Ivalis, maybe a single man can forge his own path.
My Opinion: 323 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Transported to a game world LitRPG with a light mix of dungeon master in it.
Even though it’s implied that this is a dungeon master story that aspect of the story is rarely used. So don’t expect a story like the Divine Dungeon series or The Slime Dungeon Chronicles. Instead being a dungeon lord, (or really just being able to make tunnels, summon a 1hp minion and make pacts with creatures) is used as a kind of super power for the character. He uses those powers to adventure in a fantasy world that seems opposed to him.
There are some interesting faustian themes of power corrupting and good people furthering evils cause. There’s also some rather graphic horror scenes, especially at the 70-73% mark.
Overall, a good action story. The mix of dungeon building powers with adventuring is interesting too.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Dungeon Lord (The Wraith's Haunt - A litRPG series Book 1)
The coolest videogame you’ll ever READ!
“A Single Link NEVER Breaks!”
Remi Korede is a martial artist and a fan of THE BEATDOWN, a popular MMORPG set in the fantasy world of Ki Khanga.
In The Beatdown, players fight each other in the circles of sand and soil to prevent full-scale wars and the wrath of a vengeful Creator who almost destroyed the world when war on earth spilled over into the Heavens.
Players experience every punch, every throw, every kiss and every sip of honey wine in The Beatdown, so the stakes of every encounter, violent or not, are high.
After suffering a brutal assault at the hands of a martial arts champion in the game, Remi decides that, to gain closure and empowerment, she must face her attacker in the first professional fight between a man and a woman.
Remi, fighting as ‘The Single Link’ – because a single link never breaks – becomes a symbol to the people of Ki Khanga – a symbol of courage; of standing against oppression and discrimination; of freedom.
My Opinion: 202 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The combat is probably my favorite part of the novel. It’s super detailed descriptions of the fights and specific moves tells me that the author is either a martial artists himself or did a ton of research. Unfortunately, you only see the game mechanics during fights but there is progression of the character according to those established mechanics, so it is a LitRPG story.
There are three distinct parts to this novel. Only one of which is really worth your time.
Part 1 - Info Dump, Setup
The first 18% of this novel is an info dump about game mechanics and the setup for the next section. It’s honestly hard to get through.
The game mechanics are thoroughly described but it’s all tell and no show. I’d also hopped to get more world building in the introduction of the novel, either for the real world section set in 2023 Atlanta or the game world. Neither get very good descriptions of what their settings are like.
Additionally, the scene where the main character, Remi, creates her game character and seems a little patronizing. In a fighting game, she chooses to spend most of her skill points on Home Making skills like sewing, time management, cooking, running errands, and Budget finances. I’m not sure if this is the author’s attempt to feminize the main character or what, but it comes off weird.
Additionally there’s a pretty brutal rape scene that’s implied when Remi invites a stranger into her in-game appartment. That’s right, she’s raped in a VR game that’s supposed to be primarily about solo combat. I get that the author is establishing motivation for the characters desire to fight her rapist when she learns he’s a championship fighter in the VR game but the idea that a game developer would code such an option seems unbelievable.
Part 2 - Rocky
From the 19-57% mark, you’ll find a pretty good rocky style fight story with custom RPG mechanics. I mean if Rocky were a woman that got raped and was trying to beat her rapist in a championship fight in a full immersion VR game instead.
Part 3 - Undisputed
The rest of the novel is a weird take on the movies ‘Undisputed’ and ‘Van Damme in Hell’.
Set a year later and with no real explanation, the main character gets stuck in the game and can not log out or she’ll die. She’s then sent to prison in-game where she has to participate in a jailhouse fighting tournament as she tries to overcome a corrupt authoritarian system.
Overall, not a good read. I definitely give the author points for combining RPG mechanics with a rocky fighting story. But that’s the only good section of this entire novel.
Part 1: 4 out of 10. Part 2: 7 out of 10. Part 3: 4 out of 10. For an average score of
Score: 5 out of 10
The Nightmare Game: Slayers
This game has no winners and only one survivor...
Chase Harrow's parents have vanished without a trace, thrusting her and her brother into a dangerous quest to find out what happened to them. But when the trail leads Chase to the strange town of Crucible, Missouri, what she discovers may destroy her very soul.
Trapped in the horrors of the Nightmare Game, Chase must decide whether defeating the monsters who captured her parents is worth becoming a monster herself...
The Nightmare Game: Slayers is a perfect read for fans of slasher movies, LitRPG lovers looking for a shot of bloody horror, and fans of terrifying roleplaying games of all types. If you've been looking for Ready Player One meets Friday the 13th, this is the book for you!
This book contains some scenes of graphic violence that may not be suitable for all readers.
My Opinion: 326 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Reader warning: The fights in this novel are super gory and graphic.
Chase, the main character (MC), takes her wheelchair bound brother on a road trip to find her missing parents. Their only lead is a creepy game manual someone sent them in the mail with the name of a town that can’t be found on any map. Yet, the MC someone finds it anyways. Once she gets there she finds she’s trapped in a horror movie-esque murder game and has access to RPG mechanics that let her get stronger the more she murders.
The first 38% of the novel is all setup. To me, even though there’s not a single graphic murder, it’s the creepiest part of the novel. It sets up a Purge vibe that almost made me put the novel down. I’m just not into the kind of horror movies that have normal people hurting or torturing each other.
Thankfully, I forced myself to continue and found a horror RPG story more akin to fantasy horror of Nightmare on Elm Street, which I’m fine with.
The game mechanics in the story are solid. For certain kills, the MC as a Slayer can take their victims soul energy and use it to get new powers, upgrade the damage of their chosen weapon/mask, or increase their own stats. Different kinds of monstrous enemies give different amounts of soul energy. Also, using any power or special ability up finite resources that when used up entirely lead to negative consequences, including death.
However, you don’t get to see any of these game mechanics until about the 39% mark so you have to get through all the setup before you get to the over the top gory violence and RPG stuff. And boy is the violence gory. If you like Troma style horror movies then you’ll appreciate the type of violence and fights in this novel.
Most of the rest of the novel is just combat scene after combat scene leading up to the inevitable conflict with the shadowy instigators behind the horror murder game. The end doesn’t really make sense and the epilogue sure as heck doesn’t make sense but then again the reasoning behind most horror movies don’t either.
I’m not a fan of horror movies but I can appreciate how the author incorporates them into this story. However, if you don’t like horror movies or graphic gory violence, please don’t read this, you might vomit.
Score: 7 out of 10
Underworld - Level up or Die!
Elorion has just finished a VR gaming session to find a monster waiting for him. With nineteen other students who have also been kidnapped, he is now subject to the whims of a thousand year old succubus and must survive deep under the earth in the lost realm of the Underworld. Gifted with the ability to use magic and advance in power, he is given an ultimatum.
Level Up or Die!
My Opinion: 373 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full Disclosure: The author sent me an advanced copy for review. I purchased the novel when it was released.
A daily adventure/slice of life story set in an underground fantasy kingdom. Elorion, the main character (MC), and some other humans are kidnapped and given the chance to live out their gamer dreams by getting magic and leveling up in a RPG world. Only their new boss doesn’t really care if they live or die as long as she can feed off their excess magical energy. The MC goes through a series of events that constantly push him and the other humans to become more powerful or die.
The highlight of the story is definitely traveling with the MC as he gains levels, new blue magic abilities, and spells. He’s a min/maxer after my own heart and I thoroughly enjoyed his internal discussions about how to best build his character. He’s smart and gathers plenty of data to figure out the system before committing stat points or energy to leveling skills. The character build theorizing was detailed and fun.
There’s also plenty of action and adventure to be had as the MC fights monster after monster grind skill and magic levels. Towards the end there’s even a little town building and crafting.
One thing you won’t find here, is a real plot. It’s just not that kind of story. Yes, there are small story arcs and character development but there’s no overall big coherent plot for the novel other than the vague goals ‘we have to escape’ and ‘we have to get stronger’. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just is. That’s what a slice of life/daily adventure story is. It’s a lot like a TV or animated series like Dragonball Z. A series of smaller stories and events that gradually increase in difficulty that challenge the characters to get stronger. Don’t expect more and you won’t be disappointed. I know I wasn’t.
Additionally, there are some technical writing issues at the beginning of the novel that might bother some people. Present and past tense in the same sentence and some stilted dialogue. This disappears as the novel goes on. Also, the novel probably goes on a little too long. There’s a huge great climax event near the end of the story and then the story continues on for another 15%. The extra 15% makes the end feel like it drags a little after such a huge amazing fight.
Overall, I had a blast reading the story. The points I brought up didn’t really bother me but I know they will bother some people and it’s better to know about these issue before you read the story than to be surprised by them.
*note: I totally agree with the story that bacon and ranch are the highlights of a good life.
Score: 7 out of 10
On My Brother's Grave: Reconnaissance: A LitRPG Adventure (Vatenkeist Online Book 1)
For more than a decade, Corbin Rivers has been honing his skills as a private contractor and mercenary. He’s quickly become the go-to guy for perilous missions when law enforcement agencies or governments need a problem solved but cannot get involved. During his last job, he successfully infiltrated the mob and helped bring down one of the most powerful criminal families in the country.
But when he returns home for a break, he finds his brother dead with a suicide note. Completely devastated, he will swear to put his expertise to good use by finding the culprits and making them pay. As he will quickly find out, his brother was addicted to a VRMMORPG called Vatenkeist Online, and that’s where he met the bastards who bullied him until he snapped and took his own life.
Driven by his thirst for revenge, Corbin will enter this virtual world. However, in there, none of his credentials or deadly skills really matter. In there, he’s just some random noob, another potential prey for the griefers.
How will Corbin manage to carry out his plan, especially since the players he’s after belong to the Ascendants, one of the most powerful and feared guilds in the entire game?
My Opinion: 219 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The overall story is a mixed bag. Some places it’s mediocre, a few places it’s interesting, and for most it’s frustratingly annoying because it breaks it’s own game rules.
The Beginning of the story sets up Corb, the main character (MC), as a real life paid assassin working for the police. He gets a mysterious message from his brother and races home. When he arrives, he finds his brother has hung himself. In a note the brother points at being bullied and humiliated by friends he made in a the VR game he played as the cause of his suicide.
Suspecting foul play, the MC logs into this VR world and creates his own character, a human hunter, planning to ruin the guild that he suspects killed his brother.
From 1-41%, the story is half way decent. This is when the MC learns about the game mechanics, goes on several quests, and gets to level 3. There are several interesting betrayals that show that NPCS and Players can exploit players equally.
Then about the 53% mark, the story takes this weird turn. The setting changes from fantasy to turn of the century London. And there’s this convoluted plan to figure out who in the bad guild is placed in the royal court. How this is supposed to hurt the guild or lead to a resolution of who was hurting/bullying the MC brother is never explained or nor is there any type of resolution.
The story also has is one of the most annoying endings I’ve read in awhile. I won’t spoil it in case you do want to read the story. But it got a serious eye roll for its unoriginality and that it uses information for a twist that was never mentioned anywhere else in the story.
However, the most frustrating part of the novel is that it sets up decent game mechanics then ignores them. Also, many of the MC’s decisions just don’t make sense for the character or the game logic.
Early in the story ( about 20%), the MC makes the decision to do everything he can to keep his mission a secret. Makes sense for an assassin. He meets a woman and even goes so far as to say to himself, “In my job, I had learned to always keep on my toes and never just open up to just anyone with information…” Then the next thing he does is tell her all about his plan to infiltrate the bad guys guild.
It’s not just character choices that are inconsistent, the author confirms in character creation that the MC’s real life skills don’t transfer to the game. He has to build up his skills. He tries to shoot a slime with a bow and arrow and misses a lot because he hasn’t learned that skill. After his first level he gains the skill and misses less. Great, makes sense. However, only a couple levels later the MC is one shot killing Wyverns with a knife he doesn’t have a skill for, and headshotting players 2-3 times his level. He also seems to suddenly have the ability to use stealth, explosives, and interrogation. Things he doesn’t have class skills in.
Despite the few interesting quests early in the story, I mostly found myself being frustrated by the novel. The last half really doesn’t make sense to me and the end pushed me over the edge into dislike.
Score: 4 out of 10
Black Hat (Afterlife Online Book 2)
Life’s a Grind
Living in a virtual game world sounds like the ultimate dream. Plenty of action, intrigue, and guess who gets to be the big hero?
But what happens when that digital reality gets flipped on its head? Bad guys are after your sweet loot, your fancy title is loaded with unrealistic expectations, and achieving such a high level comes with a big fat target on your back.
It isn’t long before Talon and company learn that, in an MMO, the daily grind is a literal fact of life.
Something has to give, so when a new crusader faction rolls into town, Talon senses an opportunity. Not just to get out of Dodge, but to navigate unforgiving terrain to the edge of the world where he can make a difference. Have a real impact. Be a real hero.
The catch? An awakened dragon, a city of cutthroats, and a mystical executioner with a sharpened axe to grind. Welcome to the first of a few very long days.
My Opinion: 365 pages, $5.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is the sequel for the very popular LitRPG novel, Reboot.
Overall a decent action adventure story. However, some of the issues I had with that novel are still here and there are even some new ones.
First, there are even more religious overtones in the story. There’s a whole new faction of crusaders and bigoted priests in addition to Lucifer, the Saints, and Pagans.
Also, the plot for the first half of the novel feels totally forced. The main character is practically shoved down a story path and he just goes along with it without much questioning. The story gets a little more interesting after the 50%. But even the twist there isn’t surprising. The bad guy isn’t really the bad guy and the supposed good guy you you hated turns out to be the real bad guy.
Part of my review for book 1: “One of the places the story shines is the in potential depth of the game mechanics and the authors background as a real life game designer show through here.”
That sort of disappears in book 2. There’s enough RPG mechanics that it’s LitRPG but you can tell that the RPG mechanics take a serious backseat in book 2. There are only a handful of examples of XP, and most game notifications are relegated to the fight scenes. This a big shift from what I loved about book 1.
For example, the main character goes from level 1-8 in book 1. In book 2, he makes level 9 at the beginning of the story and doesn’t gain another level the entirety of book. Another example is that in book 1 there are 26 references to XP being awarded. However, in book 2 there are only 6 references to XP being awarded. There is are character sheets for the end state of the book but it’s information that I would have like to have seen in the beginning to show where the characters are starting off. It would have at least given the few XP gains some context.
I don’t want you to think that there’s nothing good about the story. There’s lots of action and adventure. A good amount of gamer jokes and some very funny scenes.
Overall, while I enjoyed the story, a plotline that felt forced coupled with the severely minimal RPG mechanics, made this less entertaining for me than book 1.
Score: 6 out of 10
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