LitRPG Podcast 126
LitRPG Podcast 126
July 27th, 2018
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 126 of the LitRPG podcast. I hope you like my new ghost shirt, it gives me a +3 to concealment.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I have 5 new LitRPG reviews just for you.
Before we begin I want to give a shout out to Apollos Thorne for becoming a Pateron supporter. It’s thanks to him and the many supporters that this podcast is able to continue, ad free. Thanks Apollos. If you want to become a patreon supporter too, visit us at https://www.patreon.com/geekbytespodcast
New Releases and Reviews:
Lots of interesting space adventuring, good RPG progression.
Score: 7.6 out of 10
Good middle section set in the game, however the poor beginning and end stopped me from enjoying the story as a whole.
Score: 6 out of 10
The Apprentice of Arabella (19:35)
I almost like the in-game story but the ultimately meaningless real life storyline just made the story less enjoyable.
Score: 6 out of 10
World-Tree Online (29:39)
Not a boring story but as LitRPG it just didn’t do it for me.
Score: 6 out of 10
A good combination of portal fiction, dungeon master (no core), re: Monster, and slice of life litRPG.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
(Play Music 2)
GameReads host Sean Callahan interviews Eric Nylund, the
author of the Hero of Thera series.
Tao Wong is the author of the LitRPG series: System Apocolypse, and Adventures on Brad, and A Gamer’s Wish. He recently launched a Patreon page for people that want to support his writing on that platform. Rewards include:
$1/month - Thank you.
$5/month - Free copy of the latest ebook, access to chapters of the latest story as it’s being written, and short stories exclusives.
$10/month - Influence the stories with suggestions, and vote on which series the author works on next.
$20/month - Free Audiobooks, chance to name and describe some races in the story.
$50/month - Get to see the novel outlines
$100/month - Get to see author’s personal notes
Michael Chatfield, author of the Emerialia series, is selling merch for his series now. At least he’s trying it out. He posted recently on Facebook that he’s testing out a new merchandising option from Amazon called Merch by Amazon. According to amazon’s page on the service:
Simply upload your artwork, choose a product type and color, set your price, and add a product description. We'll create a product page on Amazon.com and when customers buy your product, we'll handle production, shipping, and customer service — all with no upfront costs.
Still, if I can get a t-shirt that says: “I was trapped in Emerilia and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt.” I’m all for this!
Originally scheduled for release on Aug. 30th, 2018, but it’s out now instead.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Our review of the ebook: 7 out of 10
Our review of the ebook: Score 6 out of 10
Sleeping Player (Project Chrysalis Book 3) (July 31st, 2018)
Welcome to Abarrane (Aug. 1st, 2018)
The Curse of Hurlig Ridge: World Tree Online: 1st Dive (Aug. 1st, 2018)
Death March (Euphoria Online - Book 1) (Aug. 7th, 2018)
Bitter: Book Four (Aug. 24th, 2018)
Game Changer (Reality Benders Book #3) LitRPG Series (Sept. 24th, 2018)
(Sept. 26, 2018)
Couch Potato Chaos - Gamebound (Sept. 28th, 2018)
Kingdom of the Dead (An NPC's Path Book #2) LitRPG Series (Oct. 8th, 2018)
Freehaven Online: Winter Dungeonland (Book 3) (Nov. 21st, 2108)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
External Threat (Reality Benders Book #2) LitRPG Series
The countdown timer continues to tick, but Earth is still not ready to repel an invasion from space. Gnat is on his voyage with the Shiamiru, all the while trying to find backup for humanity among the great spacefaring races. After all, based on what he’s already seen, he knows not to count on the good sense of his own kind. Even facing an external threat, the people of our Earth cannot see past their internal squabbles and come together to fight as one. Gnat does not expect gratitude from his leaders for taking such matters into his own hands, but when have laws and rules ever stopped our intrepid hero before?!
My Opinion: 429 pages, $5.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
*Funny note: The publishers mentioned that the lady with the bow on the cover isn’t actually in the story but that the cover artist just went ahead and added her cause they thought it was cool. Lol. It explains why she’s the only one without a level.*
This is a continuation of the slice of life sci-fi LitRPG. This time a heavy portion of the story takes place in the far reaches of space as our intrepid hero is taken on as a prospector for an alien mining crew. Gnat, the main character (MC), gets into fights, levels up his skills, and even develops some of the hidden talents hinted at in book 1. New alien cultures and characters are introduced and it was interesting to see how the MC used his brain to navigate the delicate waters of alien social structure and customs. The story takes several unexpected turns and I really liked how it developed. It didn’t go the direction I thought it would, but it was always fun.
If you enjoyed book 1, you’ll like book 2.
Score: 7.6 out of 10
Deadhead: A Zombie Apocalypse LitRPG Novella
Addicted to gaming and looking for his next fix, Joe Denver hears rumours of illegal underground gaming dens run by the mob. Using technology stolen from the government they have created ultra-realistic 'pain-games', the most popular of which is the zombie apocalypse game known as 'Deadhead', with a one million dollar prize. But Joe is about to get a lot more than he bargained for.
Contains swearing, violence and gore.
My Opinion: 86 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The beginning of the story is mostly a waste of time, it’s included a gamer addicts diatribe about how he knows he’s an addict but likes it anyway. Then onto meeting one old friend and then another who tell him about an illegal full immersion game run by the mob. It’s a convoluted way to get the main character (MC) into the game and full of people that don’t matter to the rest of the story.
However, at the 23% the MC is in the game and it’s a pretty good story. The game mechanics are part normal RPG with stats and character sheets, but also part Choose Your Own Adventure system where elements are decided by a roll of the die. It’s an interesting choice. The zombie apocalypse portion of the game world is handled well and I liked each scene set in the game world.
Unfortunately, the story abruptly stops. Really, it’s in the middle of an exciting fight scene and the MC is pulled out of the game, there’s some weak justification and the story just gets a THE END. It’s kind of frustrating.
Overall, while I liked the middle section set in the game, the poor beginning and end stopped me from enjoying the story as a whole.
Score: 6 out of 10
The Apprentice of Arabella
When his home and livelihood are ripped away, artist James Wulf must struggle against an oppressive government to survive the journey from Fox Valley to Old Atlanta, where he hopes to start a new life. All things are possible in Arabella online.
My Opinion: 173 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
* The story has technical writing issues that may bother some people. There are frequent missing words, punctuations, and unclear sentences. An early example: “He had angry and frustrated as she and her partner had shown up at the crack of dawn to serve their warrant.” *
The story can be divided into two parts, the real life story and the in game story.
The real life story setups a future dystopian world where the government makes anyone it considers a dissident disappear or kills them. The main character, James, has his home seized but escaped arrest because the authorities couldn’t find a pretense to arrest him on. He flees and ends up finding work playing a VRMMO where he plans to make enough money to flee the country. There’s actually some pretty good world building done here that paints a picture of future I wouldn’t want to live it.
There story regularly switches back to this real life story line but mostly focuses on vague hints about the government seeing the MC as a major threat that they will do anything to put down. No reason is ever revealed why and few personal details about the MC are given as hints. At most, the MC had read a lot of banned material on free speech, spiritualism, history and had experience making things. Ultimately, even though the author spends a significant amount of time trying to build some sense of tension, mystery, and conspiracy in this dystopian world, the real life story doesn’t end up mattering.
In-game, the story is just a pretty good slice of life LitRPG adventure with fighting, leveling, and crafting. There are few small arcs with PKers and a story thread about trapped gamers but that ends up being utterly disappointing and resolved in two paragraphs at the end of the novel. Crafting becomes a good portion of the in-game story and is nicely detailed. However, it gets too overpowered too quickly. After only a few days learning the basics of smithing for example, the MC is making tons of exotic weapons and using advanced smithing techniques there’s no prior setup that he should know. The MC isn’t a smith in real life and appears to, at most, have academic knowledge of crafting. Still, not bad stuff, the progression just gets too advance too quickly to feel reasonable. The rest of the game mechanics aren’t anything special but nor are they bad. Standard character sheets, classes, and leveling stuff.
There are also some inconsistencies in the story that bugged me.
-MC states doesn’t know much about gaming, and his house is filled with books and low tech stuff. Even has such a low tech presence in world, the game AI initially thinks he has a corrupted online profile. Yet, he also also thinks and talks like a gamer, using gamer terms and using references only gamers would get. Including immediate understanding of RPG system and how to min max his character.
- Lots of people seem interested in the MC but no explanations as to why, it’s kind of annoying. Especially considering that the game portion is just slice of life leveling and crafting. No cohesiveness between in-game and IRL storylines.
-MC is sneaky and distrusting enough to have a go-bag ready when the government shows up to seize his land randomly. He also has contacts prepared to make him a false identity and wants to flee the country. Yet he also just reveals all his in-game secrets to random strangers he meets?
Overall, I almost like the in-game story. The MC goes on some decent adventures and I’m a fan of the crafting. However, the in-game story doesn’t go anywhere despite the MCs clearly stated goals. That combined with the unfocused, convoluted, and ultimately meaningless real life storyline just made the story less enjoyable. Not boring but not good either.
Score: 6 out of 10
When an update traps millions of players in the most advanced VR game ever made, one man discovers an exploit that might just take him to the top of the World-Tree.~~
In 2056, the world’s most powerful AI System, ARKUS, comes online. Created to extend human lifespans, it quickly designs new kinds of nanomachine therapies, in addition to making world-changing discoveries in health science. It also develops an advanced VR headset that uses consumable nanomachines to allow users to experience time faster in virtual worlds.
Two years later, ARKUS releases World-Tree Online. The game’s time-dilation makes it so that one hour of playtime feels like one month to those in-game, allowing humans to live extended, virtual lives that feel real.
However, shortly after an old gamer named Vincent joins World-Tree Online, an update begins that stretches the time-dilation to one year for every five seconds. Players are unable to exit the game during the update—with an estimated wait time of three hundred sixty years.
While trapped in the game, Vincent discovers an exploit in the physics that might take him higher up the World-Tree than he ever expected. Unfortunately, he crosses paths with the last moderator in the game, a young man named Lucas that uses his mod abilities to torture and subjugate other players.
Lucas is willing to abuse his power to conquer the World-Tree, but Vincent’s exploit might just be the key to stopping him.
My Opinion: 524 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a novel that while nothing in the novel description says it is LitRPG, has been advertised in several LitRPG Facebook groups as the author’s first LitRPG novel.
The novel on the whole, while technically LitRPG, often feels more like a fantasy story with cyberpunk elements or a veneer of RPG. While the game mechanics exist and RPG progress is made, there’s not a whole lot of depth to them. Certain elements, especially the rune system, are used as wand wavy catch-alls to create everything from enhanced armor to self replicating cat food to television. There are really only 4-5 powers players have with a bunch of variation. The main characters powers, both Vincent and Lucas, are not grounded in any game mechanic and might as well be spells from a normal fantasy story. As I continued to read more of the story, more and more of it was explained in terms better fitting a fantasy story with a decent magic system. Now, this may not bother every reader but it contributed to the story not really scratching that LitRPG itch.
The story premise also doesn’t make sense, at least to me. The story starts with a 70 year old main character, Vincent, who decides to try the latest full immersion VR game. The game’s big feature, time dilation of 270: 1 or 1 month in game is the same as 1 hour of real world time. That the level of time dilation wouldn’t break people’s mind stretches the realm of believability. However, it’s stretched even further when for no ever explained reason the ruling AI traps everyone in the game by taking out all pain filters and increasing the time dilation to 6,307,200: 1, or 1 year in game is 5 seconds real world time.
The other parts of the story are actually fine. The narrative structure is divided between power hungry Lucas, the last moderator, and Vincent, the hero who just happens to have a unique not well explained spell that isn't really grounded in the described game mechanics. Lucas is a good villain, irritating and unlikable. Vincent’s story arc is mostly slice of life adventuring till the two opposites eventually collide, but not before the story makes several time skips of years or even decades. Something else that bothered me since the time jumps also made the characters stats and powers increase without any shown work or hardship, which made them feel unearned.
The big finale was satisfying but it didn’t make up for the other parts of the story that just didn’t resonate with me or really feel like a litRPG story. Not a boring story and if I just looked at as a general fantasy story or not caring about the game stuff, it would actually be good. But as LitRPG it just didn’t do it for me.
Score: 6 out of 10
Rogue Dungeon: A litRPG Adventure (The Rogue Dungeon Book 1)
Roark von Graf—hedge mage and lesser noble of Traisbin—is one of only a handful of Freedom fighters left, and he knows the Resistance’s days are numbered. Unless they do something drastic…
But when a daring plan to unseat the Tyrant King goes awry, Roark finds himself on the run through an interdimensional portal, which strands him in a very unexpected location: an ultra-immersive fantasy video game called Hearthworld. He can’t log out, his magic is on the fritz, and worst of all, he’s not even human. He’s a low-class, run-of-the-mill Dungeon monster. Some disgusting, blue-skinned creature called a Troll. At least there’s one small silver lining—Roark managed to grab a powerful magic artifact on his way through the portal, and with it he might just be able to save his world after all.
Unless, of course, the Tyrant King gets to him first …
From James A. Hunter, author of the litRPG epic Viridian Gate Online, and eden Hudson, author of Legend of the Treesinger and the Jubal Van Zandt Series, comes an exciting new litRPG, dungeon-core adventure you won’t want to put down!
My Opinion: 236 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Priced a little high for page count, but this novel is a very entertaining read. It incorporates a combination of several other sub genres including: portal fiction, dungeon master (no core), re: Monster, and slice of life litRPG.
The novel starts off with the main character (MC), Roark, in a traditional fantasy world with a writing based magic system. He’s part of a rebellion against the cruel and evil Tyrant King. Though mishap, instead of deposing the King, the MC uses an unstable portal and ends up in an alternate dimension, a VRMMORPG. The discovery portion of the game mechanics is in line with the MCs understanding of magical principles. He never speaks in terms of the world being a game, because to him, it’s just another strange world with specific rules.
Game mechanic wise, the story combines a traditional MMO stat and level system with the unique quality that the MC comes into this world as a monster. He gets the capacity to evolve like he would in a Re: Monster kind of story and regular player’s abilities. The dungeon master mechanics don’t show up till late in the story and are really only 10% of the novel. Still, it’s an interesting combination and the game mechanics are well detailed.
Storywise, once the MC is in the game world (by the 11% mark), it’s pretty slice of life. The MC and a collection of allies fight against players that come to raid the dungeon. There’s a nice progression of increasingly difficult fights. There’s a bit of local world exploration and insight into the monster culture. But that’s it. Sure, there may be long term plans for the story that relate to the MC’s original world, after all you don’t do that much writing and world building about it without planning something. However, in this novel it’s mostly fast paced action, adventure, leveling, and a bit of dungeon building.
Even though the end is a bit wand wavy in several respects, overall, the story it quite good.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
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