LitRPG Podcast 138
LitRPG Podcast 138
Oct. 19th, 2018
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 138 of the LitRPG podcast. For the full show notes visit us at: https://litrpgpodcast.com/litrpg-podcast-138
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I have 8 new LitRPG reviews just for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
Siphon (A Touch of Power Book 1) (05:47)
There are some world building flaw, but the main character is one that you want to root for.
Score: 7.2 out of 10
The Idle System: The New Journey (14:38)
The unique Idle System game mechanic will appeal to micromanaging gamers.
Score: 7.4 out 10
Changing World: The Beginning (19:41)
Translation issues may bother some, but the slice of life story was entertaining.
Score: 7.6 out of 10
While the story is never boring and the action is well written, the issues with the premise and the predictability of the story reduced my enjoyment.
Score: 6 out of 10
Not particularly entertaining.
Score: 5 out of 10
Not bad cyberpunk, but not good LitRPG.
Score: 6 out of 10
Novel blurb over hypes it. It’s neither epic, or filled with nightmarish monsters. It’s slice of life and the MC fights pixies and goblins.
Score: 6 out of 10
While I didn’t love every story, I had a good time reading most.
Score: 7 out of 10
(Play Music 2)
Life Reset was listed in Audibles Five Star Faves in Fanstasy and Science fiction this month. Congrats to Shemer (Sh-eh-mare).!
Aleron Kong, author of the Chaos Seeds series, is giving away 10 signed copies of his books. You can enter at the link below or find book 1 in the series on Goodreads to enter. The contest will take entries until Oct. 31st, 2018.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Respawn: Lovers Lost (Respawn LitRPG series Book 2) (Oct. 19th, 2018)
Heir Today Pawn Tomorrow: A LitRPG/GameLit Novel (The Good Guys Book 2) (Oct. 25th, 2018)
Beginnings (Peaks of Power Book 1) (October 26th, 2018)
BASE Status: Online: An Unlikely Hero's LitRPG Journey (Oct. 31st, 2018)
(Nov. 1st, 2018)
Dungeon Desolation (Divine Dungeon book 4) (Nov. 2nd, 2018)
The Parallel: A SciFi LitRPG (Infinite Exodus Book 2) (Nov. 8th, 2018)
Guardians Of The Round Table 3: Singed Feathers (Nov. 18th, 2018)
A Song of Shadow (The Bard from Barliona Book #2) LitRPG series (Nov. 19th, 2018)
Island Kingdoms' War: Evolution Online III (A LitRPG) (Nov. 20th, 2018)
Eden's Gate: The Omen: A LitRPG Adventure (Nov. 30th, 2018)
Hero (Level Up Book #2) LitRPG Series (Dec. 10th, 2018)
Freehaven Online: Winter Dungeonland (Book 3) (Dec. 16th, 2108)
Level Up: The Knockout (Book #1) LitRPG Series (Jan. 9th, 2019)
*A side story set in the same Level Up universe, different MC*
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Siphon (A Touch of Power Book 1)
Jade has spent her life fighting boredom in the terminally ill ward. Surfing the net or reading, she always envied the ability of others to go out and experience the world. She knew her wish to live a normal life was far beyond her reach, but after waking up one morning without the sounds of her life support, she opens her eyes and finds herself with a weak but healthy body in a magical world.
As blue game-like system notifications fill her vision, she knows that she'll have to adapt quickly in order to survive… but this is all she ever dreamed of, so Jade is up to the challenge. She will soon realize that you need to be careful what you wish for.
This is Andara, where her true adventure finally begins.
My Opinion: 272 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review but purchased a copy of the novel when it came out.
This is a transported to a RPG fantasy world, but turns into something like a cross over between the Princess Diaries and a magical academy story.
Jade, the main character (MC), wakes up to find herself, not bedridden and dying, but in a fantasy RPG world where she has an RPG profile page listing her stats, name, age, and her one special ability: Siphon. Siphon will let her grow both physically and magically, but at the cost of a major appetite and if overused, great physical pain. The MC explores this new fantasy city, meeting new friends, learning about magic, applying for school, and doing all the things she couldn’t when she was on earth. Mixed in with this is a comedic element where she goes around pushing boundaries, yelling and intimidating the nobility, and charming the royal family. Eventually, there’s some action, but only a couple scenes. The MC insists that she doesn't want to fight and instead wants to re-invent things from our world and make life better for people. Most of the story just follows the MC on her rambunctious adventures surprising everyone with her spunky attitude, her huge appetite, and tendency to find trouble in the most unlikely of places. It’s a cute, non-action focused, slice of life kind of story.
Game mechanic wise, this is pretty light. The only place you see them is when the MC uses her Siphon ability which gives her a snapshot of someone else's profile to see what skills/stats they have that she can take. You also see the mechanics whenever the MC looks at her own profile (aka character sheet). The profiles are detailed with lots of numbers for stats and skills. As the stats increase there are physical changes to the MC. But the same can’t be said for the skills. Even though those numbers increase, there isn’t a noticeable change to what the MC can do. That is unfortunately because both the magic and skill systems in the novel don’t seem to have rules of any kind. Magic doesn’t seem to have a cost, beyond making the MC tired in vague terms. Magic is described as the MC imaging something happening or willing it to, and then it happening. That’s it. No incantations, no special gestures, no weaving together elemental streams. The MC doesn’t even need training as she discovers several forms of magic all on her own. For skills, it’s even less defined, and there’s no correlation between what’s listed and anything that happens in the story.
There are a couple things early that bothered me. 1) When people, who are from another world who have no connection to our modern world, use our modern slang. 2) Though the MC is supposed to be 18, early speech patterns and use of child like incomplete sentences make her sound like she’s 10. 3) A magic and skill system without rules. It feels odd for a LitRPG story that quantifies stats and skills to not have any rules for it’s magic system. 4) In the early parts of the story, the MC comes off as entitled and demanding. She appears in this new world, no money, or knowledge then declares the room she finds herself hers, eats massive amounts of the place’s food, and demands they give her special objects and do her favors. All without ever offering compensation and rarely even saying thank you. This attitude mellows out a bit after the 30% mark when she starts to make money on her own though. She even starts to thank people for helping and supporting her goals. The pushy, overly confident, sharp tongued attitude even becomes charming when the MC wields it against social bullies and not just against normal people trying to do their jobs.
Overall, despite the few things that bothered me, I liked the story. The MC becomes a charming, go getter, who doesn’t let anyone stand in the way of her goals. She’s determined to live life to the fullest because before she was transported to this RPG world, she wasn’t expected to live. That dichotomy creates a character you just can’t help but root for.
Score: 7.2 out of 10
The Idle System: The New Journey
After an unexpected death, John wakes up in another world where a system guides him along.
In this world he is known as a Sider, someone who has reincarnated from Earth. In the beginning, John’s only aim is to survive, but as his journey unfolds he discovers something else to fight for.
His new goal has a time limit, but the stakes are high. If John fails to make it in time, his one and only chance at a new life will be over.
Unbeknownst to our hero, there are even larger forces at play. A seemingly harmless individual turns out to be a member of royalty, and their family has use for a Sider like John. If this royal family plays their cards right, the kingdom will fall victim to the reign of a new king with an iron grip.
Will the royal family succeed in using John for their own power-hungry purposes? Or will he discover their scheme and put an end to their tyranny?
Scroll up to buy this book and start reading today!
My Opinion: 290 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
**Tag unarmed fighting and martial arts and Over Powered**
This is slice of life, transported to a game world story, that by the halfway mark turns into an overpowered main character (MC) story. You follow the MC as he arrives a new world and has to figure out the game system that will define his new life. He fights loads of monsters, and has some cool adventures. The most interesting part of the story and the thing that separates it from other slice of life stories, is definitely the game mechanic, the idle system.
In addition to the normal HP and Stamina counters, the MC has a finite number of idle counters that he can assign to skills, abilities, and attacks. The more idle counters he assigns, the faster a skill will auto level. The MC is initially presented with a set skill group, including making more idle counters, but discovers new skills all through the story. There is eventually, even a kind of cultivation aspect that’s incorporated as he improves specific parts of body at a time. A good part of the story becomes about time and resource management. A lot of time is spent looking at lists of skills and thinking about ways to maximize growth using the idle system. It’s fun if you’re into numbers and figuring out the how you’d maximize your RPG character.
There are a few flaws in the novel. It has a few plot holes, some annoying time jumps (years sometimes), too many info dumps, and some semi-regular technical writing issues. Nothing major, just things like missing words, mixed tenses, and other grammar mistakes. These mistakes occur every couple of pages and while it didn’t bother me, it will bother others.
Overall, a fun action oriented story with a unique game mechanic.
Score: 7.4 out 10
Changing World: The Beginning
The game world was beautiful and realistic, but something went wrong from the very start... How was a new character supposed to choose a class? How was he supposed to survive? Just one wrong step could mean imminent death.
My Opinion: 362 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
*Note: There are translation issues with the story. Some phrases don’t translate well, the word Ability is replaced with the word Agility for some reason, and dialogue is missing quotation marks and instead dashes are used. Ie: -Oh look, an apple.- He said
While the story puts the main character (MC) playing an VRMMO, it feels more like a transported to a game world story since the MC never leaves the game and the non-player characters act like normal people with personalities, deep histories, and unique cultures.
On the game mechanic side, this has a skill based system. There are no levels with automatic increases in attributes or stat points to distribute. Instead, everything is earned through practice, experimentation, or being taught. Skills are discovered and increase through use. Stats increase through training or use in combat. So there are loads of notifications for these kinds of increases and their associated bonuses.
Storywise, though there are a couple of major story/quest arcs, this is a slice of life story. You just follow the MC as he fumbles his way through the the world and figures out how everything works, then goes on some really neat and exciting adventures. Personally, the beginning drew me in the most. The MC makes a mistake and misses out out on the tutorial section and has to figure out how the game works while surviving and exploring the forest he’s in. It mixed RPG exploration with survival and discovery elements which was fun.
I will note that the last 5% of the story is a bit annoying because it comes out of nowhere and forces the story into a cliff hanger rather than wrap it up nicely. It’s going to bother some readers.
Overall, I really enjoyed this slice of life story. It was neat to discover how the game world worked as the MC did and how his initial detriment became an asset to him. He worked hard for every bit of progress.
Score: 7.6 out of 10
RiftWorlds Online: Book 1 - Space Opera Insertion
RiftWorlds Online is an action-packed LitRPG ride that combines Escape from New York and Tron in an epic adventure spanning worlds of Space Opera, Fantasy, the Old West, and more.
In 2028 RiftWorlds Online is the most popular virtual reality MMORPG game ever. A week after its release, millions are playing in a game that spans seven unique universes. But now people can’t log out. And when they die in the game, they die in real life.
In prison for manipulating real-world currency through VR-MMORPGs, gamer Rick Danburg just wants to serve out his sentence in peace. But the President’s daughter is trapped in the game. Secret Service agents drag Rick before the President who offers him a deal: a full pardon for finding her and keeping her alive until people on the outside get RiftWorlds back under control.
That will be much harder than he is prepared for.
My Opinion: 215 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
A decent enough adventure. The game mechanics are shown throughout the the story constantly. It’s very SciFi RPG throughout with cyborgs, laser guns, spaceships, and space pirates and more. Though the setup for the game universe pushes a multiverse with game worlds for: Western, Post Apocalypse, Fantasy, Space Opera, Superhero, Cyberpunk, and Steampunk. So don’t expect the SciFi stuff to continue into the second book. The action in the story is good, but because of the premise of the story, you know the MC is never going to die and true to form, he’s miraculously saved from death many times.
The premise of the story is probably the part I have the most issue with. It’s trapped in the game, die in the game die in real life. Only it’s a voluntary situation the MC goes into. He’s supposed to find and protect a girl in exchange for a pardon. But the setup doesn’t make sense, since any gamer worth their salt would never expect not to die at least once in a game they’ve never even heard of. Still, it is what it is.
The die in the game, die in real life aspect is a premise that’s semi-popular in LitRPG since people have watched Sword Art Online. But very few have really used that premise it well. In that anime the players are trapped in the situation against their will, but given a chance at freeing everyone if they risk their lives and meet a particular goal. Most people in that anime react like you’d think they would and no longer adventure, instead sticking to safe zones where they can’t be harmed. Only a relatively few continue in an attempt to free everyone.
None of that exists in this story. Instead PvP continues on without players even blinking. Every player continues to adventure for no real reason even though they know dying means permadeath. Additionally, the premise informs the reader that no matter what happens, the MC is just not going to die and that’s what ends up happening. Every time the MC is near death, he miraculously avoids it or the story is crafted so that the bad guy kind of stands there and dies instead of defending himself because it would mean the MC’s death.
Beyond that, the part of the premise where the MC is supposed to be tracking down this girl to protect her also has huge plot holes. In a MMO where there are literally tens of thousands of planets spread out over 7 full universes, the MC is able to pick up the girl’s trail on the very starter planet he begins on? Additionally, there’s very little advancement that the MC does to that plot line to track the girl on his own. Instead, he lands on a planet, picks a faction, does some quests and lets that faction do all the work of finding leads on the girl. Then moves to the next planet and repeats the act. After the first 30% of the story, it honestly makes the story pretty predictable.
Overall, while the story is never boring and the action is well written, the issues with the premise and the predictability of the story reduced my enjoyment. If you’ve never seen or read Sword Art Online or just have a need for a SciFi LitRP, this might work for you better than it did me.
Score: 6 out of 10
High School Dungeon Crawl: Level 1
The first day of high school is never fun. There's the new campus, classmates, and teachers. It's an entirely new world. Literally. Everything has changed. People are turning into heroes and monsters. Classrooms have become entire levels of unexplored danger.
All Mason has to do is level up enough to survive the sprawling dungeon and get home. As long as home is still there.
My Opinion: 71 pages, $1.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is an RPG apocalypse story set in a high school. The main character (MC) is a new kid that gets to be level 0, ordinary. He finds some allies, fights some monsters, levels, and that’s kind of it. There’s an additional attempt at horror of some kind but it just doesn’t work at all.
There are lots of small technical writing errors and the writing is awkward. Combat isn’t well described, nor does it make RPG sense. The MC is almost killed by the monster worth 10 XP, but easily beats the one worth 300 XP, and breezes through a fight with a monster worth 3000 XP without being hurt. The rest of the game mechanics, while appearing throughout the short story, also don’t always make sense.
Overall, this wasn’t particularly entertaining.
Score: 5 out of 10
Rank Zero: A Sci-Fi LitRPG (Cyberlinks Book 1) (Cyberlinks Trilogy)
It’s only a game until your life depends on it.
Beaten into debt by failure, Alec takes up an offer to reset his VR game character in hopes of restoring his bank account. When those past failures catch up with him, he has to choose between protecting his new friends, or becoming trapped on a poverty-stricken world.
If you’re looking for an action packed LitRPG, but need a break from high fantasy, then you’ve found the right book. Buy Rank Zero today and enjoy the grit only cyberpunk can bring.
My Opinion: 200 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The long and short of the review is that while this isn’t a bad cyberpunk novel it’s not good LitRPG. While there are regular skill increases and XP given in the story as the MC plays a VR game, fundamentally, the game mechanics in the story don’t matter and don’t even follow their own rules. Additionally, the very premise of the story has a whole big enough to ruin the entire story.
After the MC restarts his character, it’s shown that skills must be purchased with Cert Points which are bought with XP. He purchases some skills and then only a few paragraphs later uses weapons that he does not have the skills to use and not only uses it, but seems to be an expert almost one shotting a powerful enemy. Additionally, he instantly levels up skills he doesn’t even have. Further on in the story the MC constantly does things that he shouldn’t according to the shown game skill set he has, which tells me that the game mechanics in the story don’t really matter.
The big reason the MC plays the game is that he has this goal to take a ship in real life, off mars and start over on earth. He needs $100K. It’s revealed about the 17% mark, that he already has $83K but wants an extra $50K for seed money to start over. Fine. But it was revealed earlier in the story, that game money can be converted into real money at a ratio of 10:1, and that the MC started the story with $500,000 in game and that before he started the first mission had an additional $500,000. So, all along he’d always had enough to accomplish his goal and had no reason to continue playing this game.
Overall, this isn’t a bad cyberpunk story. The action is good. But the real world and VR world bleed into each other so much that it sometimes feels like this is cyberpunk story that was modified to be LitRPG. As LitRPG, the game mechanics were bad and this story didn’t work for me.
Score: 6 out of 10
The Realm Between: The Curse: A LitRPG Saga (Book 1)
An epic LitRPG saga for fans of The Lord of The Rings, Grimgar, and Dungeons and Dragons.
Will refused to admit to the HR lady at Radical Interactive that he’d never played their debut virtual reality MMORPG The Realm. From what he’d seen in videos and heard from reviewers, the game sucked. With the company’s failed attempt at entering the gaming industry, they switched their sights to focus on smaller scale educational programs.
Being a beta tester for Radical Interactive was not the dream job that Will had envisioned, but he had hoped it would get his foot in the door to one day becoming a graphic designer for the company. As he filled out his new hire paperwork, he never realized that he was literally signing his life away.
Now a phenomenally successful company, Radical Interactive was secretly working on something behind closed doors that would change both the medical and gaming industries forever. The Realm was reborn. The only problem was that it wasn’t a game—at least not to those trapped inside.
Dumped into a fantasy world filled with nightmarish monsters, awe-inspiring magic, and way more walking than Will thought he was physically capable of as a nerdy desk jockey, he has to navigate the perils of The Realm and unravel the mystery of how he came to be here and how to get out. Fantasy meets real-life consequences in a game that could mean the difference between life and death. But first, Will must get over being a noob…
My Opinion: 259 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The blurb over-hypes this story. It’s neither epic, or filled with nightmarish monsters. It’s slice of life and the MC fights pixies and goblins.
The story is about 10% woe is me, then he’s stuck in the game , he has to figure out the game rules, get a bit of training, and goes on some slice of life adventures. There are goals the MC has, but it’s mostly him following others as they deal with dark happenings on their island. There is some semi regular action, but there’s more talking and describing of stuff than anything. After the 75% mark, the story takes a turn for the boring. After that point, there’s no further action, instead there's a lot of talking and planning on doing stuff, but very little actually happens and it serves as more of a setup for what’s supposed to occur in the next book.
The RPG mechanics are seen throughout the story, but there is nothing new there either. Stat sheet, skills, item descriptions, etc. There’s not a lot of combat in the story and it can be a bit wand wavy sometimes. For example, the MC one shots a boar a couple levels higher than himself with a single shot from a bow and arrow. Even assuming added sneak attack damage (only 1% extra damage), nothing in the game mechanics says this should be possible. The weapon he uses is a starter bow. He hit the boars side, so not a critical hit. Only a chapter before, he’d struggled to kill dark pixies his level.
Where the story stands out is in character development. The characters in the story, whether the MC or the friends he makes are well fleshed out, have clear points of view but are not just all good or all bad. Character’s relationships with each other are complicated and the world building, at least on a social level, is richly described.
Overall, nothing in the game mechanics, the action, or the quests the MC goes on are special. I thought the characters were well written characters. However, the story just turned boring after the 75% mark and it lost me.
Score: 6 out of 10
Viridian Gate Online: Side Quest: A litRPG Anthology
The End is Coming.
An extinction-level asteroid is cannonballing toward Earth. In humanity’s final hours, a lucky few earn a one-way ticket to the brand-new, ultra-immersive, fantasy-based VRMMORPG, Viridian Gate Online. Making that leap of faith might mean survival, but it comes with a steep price tag: “Travelers” will forever be stranded as digital avatars inside a fantastical world filled with vicious monsters, all-powerful AIs, and cutthroat players. Let the games begin …
Six amazing authors. Six incredible new tales. All set in the best-selling Viridian Gate Online Universe. Side Quests is an anthology for fans, by the fans!
My Opinion: 257 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
In an anthology like this each story is written by a different person and some will appeal to a reader, while others won’t. I try to judge each separately.
“A Gentleman’s Work” by James A. Hunter
When an Imperial Inquisitor captures a Thieves Guild Operative, Cutter must undertake a deadly rescue mission while using every grift in the book to stay one step ahead of a Headsman’s Blade. And the prize for this extraordinary quest? Nothing short of the keys to the Rowanheath Thieves Guild. Deception, subterfuge, and heavy drinking—all in a day’s work for a Gentleman …
The longest of the short stories in the collection, it comes in at about 33% of the total page count. This one is written by the author of the Viridian Gate Online series and is unsurprisingly the one most fans came for. It focuses on Cutter, the NPC companion of main character in VGO, and if you like that character or just like a good break in story, you’ll enjoy this. While it was nice to get some background on Cutter, he is not my favorite character and it didn’t quite hit the spot for me. Good writing, good action-heist thing, but couldn’t get into it.
Score: 6.9 out of 10
“The Funeral Parlor” by Raymond Johnson
A young spiderling is stranded in an alien land, surrounded by hostile creatures. Forced to fight for her life in a bid to find her way home, she must transform into the predator she is destined to become or die alone and forgotten, trapped in a dark world know as the Shadowverse.
Really nice, simple, and short story. It comes in at about 8% of the total word count. The story is told from the monsters point of view, and while I would have liked to have seen more RPG evolutions, it was a good story with action and accurate arachnid anatomy.
Score: 7.3 out of 10
“The Raiding of Rowanheath” by J.D. Astra
The Crimson Alliance has breached the walls of Rowanheath, inciting Aleixo Carrera’s rage. Now Abby and her rag-tag invasion crew must reach the keep’s Command Center before the defending troops mobilize and shut down the takeover, else they’ll lose the battle and the war for Eldgard’s freedom.
Even though it makes up 11% of the total word count, it felt longer. This is one of those stories that tells the events of something you’ve already read about, only from some other point of view. The writing isn’t bad, I just got bored with it since it takes place during an event I’ve read about before.
Score: 5 out of 10
“The Ballad of Jaro Edgewalker” by N.H. Paxton
Jaro is an assassin, and he’s good at it. But when he finds a foe that is insurmountable by normal means and uncovers a plot to destroy everything he loves, Jaro has to balance his morality with his love for his friends and make an incredibly difficult decision.
One of my favorite short stories in the anthology, it comes in at 14% of the total page count. This one is definitely one of the best planned of these short stories. It has good original characters with a solid well told ending that still ties to VGO universe.
Score: 7.6 out of 10
“Buried Alive” by Nicholas Reid
Carlos Vega thinks he’s escaping certain death by entering the virtual world of V.G.O., but instead he’s swallowed alive by the deadly Barren Sands. He’ll have to overcome the riddles and horrors of a long-forgotten temple in order to escape, but can he do it before the evil sealed there centuries ago finds him?
This is an ok short story, that feels distanced from the VGO universe. It sort of feels like VGO - Ancient Egyptian edition. It’s 15% of the total page count.
Score: 6 out of 10
“A Final Kindness” by D.J. Bodden
Alan Campbell was a talker, not a fighter, until someone murdered his girl. He’d almost given up on finding the killers; now he’s got a fresh lead, a trio of mercenaries who outclass him in every way but his wits. He’ll cheat, bluff, and steal to get his revenge, and as one of V.G.O.’s immortal travelers, he’s willing to die trying.
This is without a doubt, my favorite short story in the anthology. It’s the 2nd longest at 19% of the total page count, but it goes by quickly because of the great pacing, mysteriously unraveled plot, and well done character development. The story is the most removed from the VGO universe and has the least game mechanics of any of the short stories. But, it has the most heart and the cut always gave great backstory for the characters.
Score: 7.8 out of 10
Overall, I think the anthology does a good job of highlighting all the different types of stories that can be created within the same universe. While I didn’t love every story, I had a good time reading most.
Score: 7 out of 10
That’s it everyone!
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"Blip Stream" "Mighty Like Us" "Big Shift" "Vivacity"
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License